Monday, March 24, 2014

DSWD expands “Pantawid kid” 
Age assistance from 14 to 18

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, March 22, 2014 (PIA)—For the chance to push kids into college and into profitable and employable technical and vocational skills in the 15-18 year-old high school training, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) raises the age coverage for Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries.

Form its usual 0-14, which would allow infants, preschoolers, toddlers, elementary school and high school kids some health assistance of P500 and educational assistance of P300, DSWD now also trains its eyes on children in schools aged 15-18. 

Currently the Pantawid Pamilya program provides health and education grants to children beneficiaries aged 0-14 only but with the extension program, the age coverage is being extended until 18 years old, says DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program information Officer Aileen Lariba in an email.

The year 2014 is a new beginning for more than 140,000 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries especially for those ages 15-18 years old who dream of going to college or getting a better job, she revealed. 

She said one of the reasons for this move is to help children beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya finish high school and get at least a 2 year course in college, giving them a greater chance for a better employment and become competitive in the professional world. 

It also compliments the Department of Education’s K-12 program, she added.

This month of April, DSWD will then start its implementation of the extension age coverage of 15-18 years with a validation kick off, she said. 

During validation, parents of children beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya program are advised to prepare the children’s birth certificates and certificate of enrolment to facilitate registration. 

The expansion program will still require an 85% attendance in school but will receive a higher educational grant which covers 15-18 years old. 

Households with no children enrolled in the elementary will no longer receive the P500/ month cash grant for health. 

The selection of children aged 3-18 for education monitoring will be based on the existing policy which is, “the household shall select from among the children whom to monitor, replace and additional children beneficiaries to complete the three children limit per household, provided that these children are included in the household roster,” according to Lariba.

The existing children beneficiaries 0-14 will continue to be monitored and should abide by the program’s set conditions of visiting the health center and attending Family Development Session at least once a month and an 85% attendance in school to continually receive their cash grant of P500/month for health and P300/month for education.

Bohol hosts int’l agri-
forestry congress ‘14

DAUIS, BOHOL, March 20, 2014 (PIA) –Bohol hosted the first International Agro-Forestry Congress, which organizers claim as the perfect event to recognize the potentials of agro-forestry in addressing the wide girthed bole of the country’s development issues. 

Held at the Bohol Plaza Resort March 19-22, the congress hailed a variety of development issues where agro-forestry is evidently poised to make a good chance at impression, especially as the country attempts to battle environmental degradation, food security and climate change. 

Dr. Roberto Visco, Philippine Agro-Forestry Education and Research Network Chair said he believes that sustainable development can only be achieved fo the country can address the environmental, economic and social dimensions of development.

“Agroforestry strikes a balance among these three dimensions and it addresses socioeconomic productivity of farmer foresters while ensuring ecological stability,” he said in an after event interview.

The 16th congress in the Philippines and the first in the region, Visco also said the decision to hold it in Bohol came even before the earthquake in October of 2013. 

The earthquake, which left thousands of hilly agroforests and forest timberlands scarred as Bohol limestone cliffs could barely hold the trees on them, did not dampen the spirits of the country’s agro foresters who has seen Bohol’s forest cover. 

Governor Edgar Chatto, who could not attend the Congress, in his sent message hailed the activity as such saying that it parallels with the Provincial vision and adopted strategies towards environment protection, natural heritage conservation and promotion of eco-cultural tourism.

In Bohol, where there has been a historical proof of agro-forestry with the Bohol Tree Enterprise Project and the Manmade Forests, There is a widespread understanding that agro-forestry addresses not just the economic needs of the people, it also responds to the need to immediately provide the green cover and solve the problem of soil-run-off. 

And just as mono-species agroforests were a trend in the 1970’s, recent years opened up for Boholanos the need to go back to the indigenous species which have diminished drastically through the years.

With the introduction of a World Bank project called Assisted Natural regeneration (ANR) Bohol has seen the option to simply go for the indigenous and re-claim the forest cover it has lost within the last decades.

If only to assure people that Bohol still maintains a nursery for Bohol’s famed dipterocarps and monocarps, the a nursery for indigeous trees stand proudly in Bilar.

Here, Boholanos eager to replant trees can withdraw stocks and start re-growing the forests, sources at the Bohol Environment Management Office said.

Evacuees ask gov’t for water
facilities put up in Ilaya camp
Rey Anthony Chiu

ILAYA. Inabanga Bohol, March 18, 2014 (PIA)—Having struck a deal for a patch of land to be their resettlement, Sito Tuko evacuees now settling in Ilaya wish government could help them put up water facilities here.

Barangay Chairman Guilberto Socorin said the community can draw water from a source in Sitio Tuko, but it is a long walk on dangerous trail down. He proposes a water pump to bring the supply to the camp grounds. 

International help groups are helpless, admitting they came in the context or emergency relief efforts and added sustainable water systems development can be put up by governments. 

Cogie Vidad of UNICEF said their assistance is more on the water and sanitation but is focused largely on toilet packages for the houses. 

The same is true with Save the Children whose water and sanitation assistance delves on communal restrooms and toilets in schools, shared Leah Bugtay, communications officer. 

She further narrated of a consortium of groups working with them which includes ACF, OXFAM, MERLIN and another unnamed group into water and sanitation. 

Municipal Human Resource Management Officer Frank Baylosis, and Renante Cempron who came for Mayor Josephine Socorro Jumamoy in the forum, revealed of a programmed P4M Salintubig project for Ilaya, but it does not come quick.

Water in this evacuation center is hard to find, admits evacuees who had to boil, treat and purify their water to get off the risk of waterborne diseases. 

Here too, the privately-arranged evacuation site is a small piece of land perched on the hill where resident evacuees build temporary shelters of tarpaulins and tents donated by international humanitarian organizations. 

On this spot too, will be erected permanent shelters which shelter assisting groups will put up in the next few days.

While government is still in the heat of acquiring lots for relocation, temporary settlers, fear the transfer of international humanitarian organizations could also ruin their chances of owning temporary shelters. 

International humanitarian groups who are on emergency response can’t stay long in a place, explains shelter cluster Birgit Vaes, who has long pulled out from Bohol response after a little over three months of help. 

Pre-identified shelter beneficiaries here also fear the pull out before groups could be a problem in the completion of the housing assistance. 

With this, they individually sought for arrangements with private owners to settle for a lot which shelters could be erected immediately.

RPOC 7 peace council okays 
plea for more narc chemists 
Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 18, 2014 (PIA) –The Regional Peace and Order Council in Central Visayas, in its most recent meeting, assented to the Bohol peace council in ruling for a additional chemists at the police and government narcotic agency to expedite resolution of drug related cases. 

In its meeting Thursday last week at the Bohol Tropics Resort here, no less than police regional Director Danilo Constantino who took notice of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) Special Action Committee (SAC) recommendation to help fast-track the processes in drug interdictions. 

The PPOC SAC recommends for the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to put up more technical personnel in its crime laboratories, to make sure that they are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

That means more chemists, technical men who could readily make the confirmatory tests if the illegal substances gathered from the raids or buy-bust operations are positively identified and confirmed. This also means these chemists should be part of the raiding team, immediately making initial reagent tests to confirm the drugs substances involved. 

The absence of ready chemists at crime labs have been pinpointed as a major concern as this conveniently allows for the brief lull of “unaccounted” moment in the chain of custody of the evidence.

In cases when the operations happen on wee hours and there is no available chemist on duty at police crime or narcotic laboratories, operation team leaders who claim custody of the evidence usually safe-keep the suspected illegal substances in police vaults, a rather unorthodox way, not prescribed by law.

In earlier reports, PPOC raised concern over a very lackluster performance of police officers and narcotic agents in the prosecution especially when the chain of custody is raised. 

Of the 99 cases file against suspected drug offenders in 2013, police scored only 4 convictions, the rest are either dismissed for technical debilities, according to Provincial prosecutor Macario Delusa during a previous council meeting. 

On this, the PPOC resolved to dig into a locally supported program called Legal Assistance to Effective Law Enforcement Program (LAELEP) for more trainings to respond to the problem of technicality rulings that shoot down a potentially huge haul of drug offenders from the streets. 

On this, the RPOC adopted the Bohol PPOC Position and PCInspector Constantino asked the PROC to furnish a copy of the recommendations to the PNP, so appropriate allocations can be effected. 

General Constantino also hinted that it could be better if the same recommendation could be done in all regional and provincial offices. 

The PDEA however took the PPOC-RPOC recommendation cautiously.

PDEA 7 Regional Director Lyndon Aspacio told that body that the premier drug agency mandated to pursue drugs is hard up with funds especially when putting up a narcotic crime lab would entail some P7M. 

Recovery, rehab info as
valuable as money, aid
Rey Anthony Chiu

BONBON Clarin, Bohol, March 13, 2014 (PIA) –“You may have money in aid, but information is more important.”

Gesita Infiesto voiced her appreciation as the post earthquake response communications team brings in Pulong-Pulong sa Komunidad to the Piezas Compound, a temporary settlement occupying a private lot in barangay Bonbon Clarin, March 13. 

Infiesto, along with 18 families comprised of 79 individuals tucked in temporary tent shelters and makeshift dwellings in a fenced family lot planted with coconuts and pasture to livestock finally got the information they have been eager to know since the day they settled in the lot, a few days after the earthquake in October 15. 

About five months after the quake, as food and emergency relief rations slowly dwindle, settlers in makeshift tents now begin to wonder what awaits them, asking what happens to them who were advises to evacuate from their old home-lots, them being declared disaster areas. 

Here in this town, if only to illustrate the damage of the tremor in October, the quake flattened the town church. The newly reinforced concrete church façade lends to it a image of a movie set; a false façade with nothing behind it. 

The quake also toppled hundreds of houses here in a place where mangrove areas and tide flats render the land soft and mulchy, heightening the effects of a slight tremor. 

Mayor Allen Rey Piezas told the people that the quake partially damaged around 3,000 houses here, a little over 500 houses totally destroyed. 

Major camps in Clarin are the Piezas Compound in Bonbon and Zafra Compound in Tangaran, said Camp Control and Management cluster managers from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Since October however, IOM has conducted surveys on communication with communities especially in 19 temporary evacuation shelter sites, to be able to find long term solutions to the displacement and the information gap. 

Of the 19 areas, 15 of them generally pinpoint government as the main source of information, while two pick family and friends as other reliable information sources. 

Most of these information however are from word of mouth at 13, followed by radio (4) and cell phones (2) according to survey data.

Right after pitching camps, the most asked question is on aid, mostly food from 19 settlers in 19 sites, shelter relocation in 14 sites, health services and water, sanitation and hygiene in 6 sites, shelter materials in 4 and emergency livelihood and recovery in 3 sites. 

As to shelter aid, the most asked question is on shelter relocation at 13 and then on shelter materials at 3. 

Settlers also communicated livelihood concerns dealing with short term relief like cash for work, as well as long term livelihood recovery. 

Seven sites also expressed health concerns like information on medical missions, pre natal care and check-ups as well as concerns on damaged rural health units. Another six sites mentioned WASH concerns primarily on sanitized water facilities, toilets and water capacity. 

The biggest thing the survey provided was the univocal need for information dissemination on available help to internally displaced communities, according to PIA Bohol. 

Picked as top information needs that had to be addressed immediately were on aid and assistance, local government recovery plans and recovery plans as well as beneficiary selection process. 

On this issue, IOM and PIA crafted communication plans in response to the need. 

The Pulongpulong sa Komunidad, an off-site Kapihan sa PIA opened avenues for local officials, international help groups and shelter residents to meet and exchange information relevant to the disaster response and recovery. 

In Bonbon, clearly wanting to hear it from the right sources, evacuees here, who were set to break camp this March 31 were growing a bit impatient every day.

We wish to know if there really is a site where we can rebuild our homes, asked Ethyl Padayao, another evacuee. 

To this and still several other hounding questions, Mayor Piezas dished out local recovery and resettlement plans, to the elation of residents here. 

The town is arranging for two lots, one in barangay Buacao is now opned, while another is negotiated for acquisition in barangay Tangaran.

The town mayor said Tangaran property is set for sale and he has in fact put in his name as collateral to reassure lot-owners of the paying capacity of the people. 

International help groups giving out shelter assistance would only need lots freed for their house packages, said IOM Christie Joy Bacal.

With the lot assurance, residents now agree, the information dished out at Pulongpulong was much settling than the fiscal aid groups have promised but have yet to come.

Carmen awaits NHA dev’t plan
For town-owned resettlement
Rey Anthony Chiu

KATIPUNAN Carmen, Bohol March 17, 2014 (PIA) –If the National Housing Authority (NHA) does not get delayed in preparing the subdivision and site development plans, the town could be the first among Bohol towns to put up a formal resettlement site owned by the municipal government. 

Carmen town Administrator and lawyer Elizer Cago Jr., bared this during the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Philippine Information Agency (PIA) organized Pulong-Pulong sa Komunidad, March 17, 2014, amidst eager temporary tent and makeshift settlers huddled in a buff, overlooking rice fields in Sitio Datag, barangay Katipunan. 

He also said NHA asked the town officials to give them three months to put up a site development and subdivision plan to make sure the new site development is orderly and follows national standards. 

Atty. Cago bared this to update the temporary camp settlers that they might have to prepare to break camp on the last week of March or the first week of April, when NHA shall have presented the plans. 

Here in the Datag Camp, residents of two sitios walked down from the hills where the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau has declared for full evacuation considering the risk of land subsidence trend as noted from a long line of land movements from as far as Sitio Malid in Barngay Monte-surte extending to the hills of Sitios Upper Dat-an and Pangog. 

Not far from here, residents of nearby barangay Buenavista attested that a whole hill disappeared from view only to be swallowed by a deep sinkhole, after the fateful day of the great earthquake that claimed almost 200 lives and displaced close to 200,000 Boholanos. 

Since the earthquake too, Datag Camp rose from makeshift shelters of blankets and curtains until the tarpaulins and tents came with the coming of international humanitarian organizations in emergency response. 

Five months later, residents here finally prepare to break camp and move into transitional shelters and permanent units. 

The government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development with Habitat for Humanity as well as shelter organizations like IOM, International Federation of the Red Cross, and other consortium of aid groups are putting up in the new resettlement site in Poblacion Sur of this town. 

For those residents who are advised to evacuate their former home sites and are not joining the main camp in Poblacion Sur, international shelter organizations are still willing to give them Alternative Temporary Shelter on Sites (ATSS): a package of a temporary shelter with matching toilet facilities, but only after the beneficiaries can show proof of lot ownership, or a legal consent from owners for them to temporarily occupy the lots. 

With the assurance from LGU Carmen, residents here are now forming groups to tap livelihood assisting groups to help them find alternative jobs while on a new location. 

“If we can be relocated, is there a way we can be helped find new work?” asks a visibly concerned Evelyn Vallentos at the forum. 

While IOM is giving out shelter support, the ones we can give is livelihood recovery program, not the full livelihood component, said IOM’s Lionel Dosdos.

Town MSWD representative Ma. Olga however said there is little help the local government can do, and that is a cash for work program for resettlement dwellers, where the government pays workers for odd jobs relative to earthquake recovery. 

PIA on the other hand assured that as long as residents are organized, it becomes easy for them to tap livelihood assisting organizations and agencies like TESDA, DOLE, International Labor Organization, and UNDP, who are into this area.

“We need to find livelihood to start picking up our lives and start anew, said barangay chairman Paolo Cajote, who came to the forum with two barangay kagawads.”

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