Monday, March 10, 2014

Women’s Month message…
Chatto: Boholanas need
a little more than FAITH
Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 8, 2014 (PIA)— Governor Edgar Chatto asked Bohol women to have a little more than FAITH, during his keynote address during the opening launch of the International Women’s Month here at Plaza Rizal, March 8, 2014. 

Set in time for the International Women’s Day, the launching activity was among the many which Bohol organized for the day: a medical dental mission by Bohol Association of Women in Government Service (BAWIGS), a district caravan, a women’s product fair, on the spot photography and writing contests and still other smaller women-centered activities all over the island. 

Fresh from Manila and homing to beat the women’s month launching activity, Governor Chatto, who has been 

a staunch advocate for productivity in the Boholano home picked the theme for his address to women. 

Noting the agricultural, ornamental, processed food and other novelty souvenir products on display at the agricultural, ornamental and processed food fair, the governor then went on to touch Bohol’s agricultural food production in support of the tourism as stated in its vision.

Bohol then envisions to become a prime eco-cultural tourism destination in the Visayas, and with a strong agro-industry to support the tourism food supply requirements. 

In the same context of its vision, Chatto shared his elation upon seeing backyard produce among the items on showcase, which has generated a lot of interest from the morning crowd awaiting the activities at the plaza. 

Underscoring the need for productivity which contributes to the development of Bohol, Chatto said his productivity campaign slogan; Food Always In The Home (FAITH) is not enough for Bohol. 

“We need to go for a more commercial production,” he said. 

Citing agriculture poised as a strong support to tourism, the governor said “tourists come here spend and this money circulates all over the province.”

On this, he explained that agricultural products produced here have the tendency to keep the tourist money circulating here than it going to other areas. 

He said half of Bohol’s food requirements for locals and tourists come from Cagayan and Cebu. 

If we produce the food, that means we do not have to get the money outside Bohol to pay for these food products, he blurted. 

If food production here happens, everyone becomes a participant as everyone into supplying the food and the novelty items as souvenirs for tourists earn a bit, the governor said. 

DAR hosts AUDIO, responds
To reform issues at meeting
Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 8, 2014 (PIA)—Despite nearing its end after completing a sizable achievement in implementing the country’s premier social justice program, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Bohol showed there is never really a time to coast to its end. 

Enlivened by the country’s Comprehensive Agrarian reform Program (CARP), DAR is now preparing to put a cap to its decades long implementation of the mandated land reform.

But, instead of just unceremoniously going down, DAR in Bohol did not, not until it can give its partner information officers a pat in the back. 

During the recent meeting of the Association of United Development Information Officers (AUDIO) in Bohol, DAR showed they had the aim nailed when the agency continued to seek partnerships with AUDIO in getting to the last few acres of farmlands for land reform.

AUDIO is a gathering of municipal information officers as well as information officers from national and government owned or controlled corporations in a network to advance information dissemination more proactively. 

Still struggling as an infant organization of information officers, AUDIO has used a smart system of office visits to campaign as well as to familiarize local information officers of the office’s mandates and see how their local governments can tap help. 

At DAR, the hoarse voice of Bohol CARP officer Atty. Grace Fua, and her stressful work schedules in the past days did not stop her from, personally tackling questions from information officers who would re-echo DAR’s responses to the farmers in their respective towns. 

Both Fua and assistant CARP officer Dr. Ronald Pumatong took turns in responding to queries and clarifications from Bohol’s information officers.

The AUDIO and DAR had a long running partnership, beginning with its proactive information officers then Dr. Pumatong and then Ma. Lydia Bantugan, who provided AUDIO her animated presence. 

This next week, AUDIO moves again to another activity, one that focuses on the Bohol’s disaster response and adopting a unified statement on government and international humanitarian organization’s response to earthquake here.

Gotozon Loboc brings Bohol 
governance models to fame
Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 7, 2014 (PIA)— Two Bohol best models in local governance get to national fame as the country’s search for best showcases in local governance comes to a thrilling cap this year. 

And if it is already a feat to have two for Bohol, how’s this: the two entries all come from a barangay in Bohol: Gotozon, Loboc.

Gotozon Loboc, Bohol’s Lupong Tagapamayapa effectively acted as local mediation board and scored high in settlement of cases in coordination with national agencies which allowed them to put up a good record in mediation, said Ma. Reina Quilas of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) here.

Gotozon’s local mediation also set up a system which could be easily replicated by other Lupons, she added. 

The barangay justice committee has put up a sustainability and advocacy system that propelled it to the region’s top award for local barangay adjudication teams, according to the DILG.

On the other hand, from the same barangay, another regional winner: Felga Priete barged her way to the regional finals after winning the Barangay Treasurer’s Category and into the national competition after winning hands down in Bohols The Outstanding Barangay Officials of the Year (TOBOY). 

The search for TOBOY is designed to give recognition to barangay officials of Region 7 who have shown exemplary performance in the discharge of their functions, according to the government website of DILG. 

Initiated in Bohol years back, the programmed recognition is now jointly undertaken by the Local Administration and Development Program Alumni Association of the Philippines (LADPAAP) Region 7 chapter, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Liga ng mga Barangay of Region 7, with the support of benevolent parties/institutions that have offered to sponsor the program.

The program accepts nominations, who will be assessed based on their outstanding accomplishments, performance, innovations and exemplary leadership. 

For Barangay Treasurers, assessment is based on leadership qualities, basic accounting and bookkeeping system knowledge, performance of duties and responsibilities and in keeping a good relationship with other Barangay Officials.

PIA, IOM connects info gap
On quake rehab to victims
Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 6, 2014 (PIA)— Owing to the identified gap in information which should assure earthquake victims of help them stand up and rise, he Philippine Information Agency in Bohol along with international humanitarian groups led by International Organization for Migration (IOM) brings in forums in Focused Group Discussions (FGD) format to the earthquake affected towns. 

IOM, the camp coordination and camp management cluster (CCCMC) head in the cluster approach of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council’s recovery plan, saw the need after a series of surveys among evacuation camps settlers.

On top of the questions camp settlers ask, according to CCCMC, is shelter and relocation, food, livelihood, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, security and protection, education and camp coordination and management. 

This came too after survey places government as top of the sources of information which communities rely, while radio and newspapers rank as high medium.

“Will we get a shelter that can survive coming calamities?” asked Ramon Albana, a senior citizen tent dweller of Maria Rosario, Inabanga. 

“We have problems if skin diseases, colds and cough at the camp, who can help us?” asked Marilyn Marcojos of Ubojan Camp.

Questions like these which can easily be responded, but with no one looking at them, makes things complicated, admits Giano Libot, communications specialist at IOM. 

IOM communications specialists Christie Joy Bacal and Libot bared what they noted as information clog at certain levels in local governance and it failing to trickle to communities who would want to know what is happening. 

To fill in the gap, IOM and the PIA in Bohol drafted plans to bring information to where they are most needed: at the evacuation sites where some 1850 persons are still wondering what will happen to them.

With information gap remaining hugely wanting from government to quake victims, PIA Bohol along with IOM conceptualized a link through an off station Kapihan sa PIA with Pulongpulong sa Komunidad.

It is an engagement venue for International Organizations, Local Governments, National Agencies in Disaster Response and quake victims to bring the gap to a close, explained IOM Christie Bacal. 

It’s a two way process, for the community to push their issues and concerns and then it becomes the government’s venue of determining other possible areas of help, explains the PIA to shelter residents of Ma. Rosario Inabanga, during the first Pulongpulong March 4. 

On its second Pulong pulong in Ubojan Camp in Tubigon, representatives of 142 families in camp also continue to wonder what will happen to them.

The forum, which would be aired on delayed broadcast would cover 8 other camps in Bohol and decide from there if there is more to get to other camps, organizers said. 

Negotiate private lots for shelter,
Organizations tell quake victims
Rey Anthony Chiu

TUBIGON, Bohol, March 6, 2014 (PIA) –Impoverished earthquake victims with totally ruined houses and have no means of rebuilding their homes can negotiate with private lot owners for consented stay, said international humanitarian organizations into shelter assistance.

With such consents or documents that show expressed ownership or permission to build, buildings could immediately start. 

International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Christie Joy Bacal revealed this amidst what settlers term as “no clear information” on how they are to go to transition shelters, after spending over four months in tents and makeshift shelters all over 19 evacuation sites in Bohol. 

This too as the 22 shelter assistance groups of local and international groups race against time to pool funds and resources so they could do part of the deal: fund the building of temporary core shelters where tent dwellers could graduate into their way to gradual recovery. 

As agreed, the foreign donors and local humanitarian organizations put in the funds along with the country’s social welfare agency, while the national, provincial and local governments acquire the lots for resettlement sites, according to sources from international donors. 

But, four months after the massive earthquake which collapsed Boholano souls, very few of the 19 hard hit towns have acquired their resettlement lots, according to shelter assistance organizations.

Shelter assistance groups name Carmen, Loon, Tubigon and Inabanga accomplishing full or part of the LGU tasks of resettlement lots acquisition. 

More than 10 towns are still struggling to put up the counterpart funds to acquire lots, according to reports. 

Shelter Cluster former coordinator Birgit Vaes said the humanitarian organizations and foreign shelter donors need to put in their promised core shelters before they are pulled out for another humanitarian mission all over the globe. 

With the termination of stay of several international and local humanitarian groups, which could also mean reverting the unspent funds to their donors, IOM advised settlers to explore the possibility of asking private land owners to allow them to temporarily build transitional shelters in their lots. 

With local and international humanitarian organizations giving out core shelters or household repair kits are ready with their assistance, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council resolved that these aids can only be accessed following compliance of necessary requirements. 

Would be core shelter beneficiaries need to have incomes below P10K, or have persons with disabilities and with pregnant woman and disadvantaged are given top priorities. 

Beneficiaries not building in government lots but private lots need to show ownership papers like titles or land declarations, or owners’ consent of the victims’ staying in the lot.

While local governments waive the building permit fees in the duration of the calamity, beneficiaries however need to secure Mines and GeoSciences Bureau of the environment agency certification that the lots for rebuild are disaster-risk free. 

According to a DSWD Admin Order, the MGB certification is a precondition to receiving the aid award. The DENR MGB however that admit they cannot issue certifications as their tasks only include ground assessments, sinkholes, fissures and landslides. 

Besides, the DENR also adds that they lack manpower and are thinly spread. 

Over the ongoing legal tug or war, and in the race to make it before the organizations pull out, negotiations with private lot owners should start.

Inabanga sealing land deal for
Quake victims re-settlement 
Rey Anthony Chiu

MA ROSARIO Inabanga, Bohol, March 5, 2014 (PIA)— Inabanga local officials are about 70% certain they can seal the deal for the acquisition of a resettlement site for the 69 individuals still living in tents and makeshift shelters in barangay Maria Rosario.

According to the reports by Municipal Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Officer (MDRRMO) Rodolfo Socorin, there is already a clear indication that the local government could seal the deal with the 1.1 hectare lot which is the fourth lot the LGU negotiated as resettlement site for Ma. Rosario’s camp settlers. 

The first three lots both had impediments, he said.

Socorin also said along with Barangay Chairman Nestor Tabiliran, the LGU has constantly sought for the lots which could satisfy the requirements for resettlement. 

Earlier, Ma. Rosario Camp Manager Erica said they have negotiated with three more lots earlier, but the one in Cambitoon right now, would seem to be the best option.

Socorin also shared that the local government is coordinating with the Provincial Government for the costs, but assured the tent dwellers that the LGU has not stopped looking for means to get the people in transitory shelters after months of living in tents. 

Inabanga, a town close to the epicenter, and where the most visible effect of the earthquake can be found in Barangay Anonang has about 114 families still living in 8 camps spread within the vicinity of Barangays Sua, Ilaya, Cambitoon and Ma. Rosario, according to Displacement Tracking Matrix of International Organization for Migration (IOM).

During a Pulongpulong sa Komunidad, an off studio Kapihan sa PIA and along with IOM, temporary shelter residents of Ma. Rosario evacuation camp asked camp managers and local authorities what becomes of them after four months of stay in ten shelters and makeshift houses. 

Residents, including an expectant mother and a family nursing a bed-ridden father and a person with disability, as well as families who have kids forced to transfer schools are getting impatient of the apparently slow acquisition of lots.

IOM however suggested that families who can negotiate for private lots to be temporarily settled can already start processing the building of houses can do so, in coordination with the 22 shelter assistance organizations helping Bohol. 

The shelters however are “core shelters package” and may have to use communal facilities like water tapstands and restrooms.

Earthquake rehabilitation 
Quota Manila South sets P284K
Cortes classrooms retrofitting
Rey Anthony H. Chiu

CORTES, Bohol, March 3, 2014 (PIA) – They tote their oversized bags, some with rain-ply ready on them, as the pouring rains after the punishing heat take turns in beating the blue insulated sacks makeshift roof in their makeshift bamboo classroom. 

Children victims of the October 15 earthquake in Bohol have gone back to school, but school is not where they used to be: dry, cool and relaxing. School after the earthquake is hot, noisy and has dirt for floors. 

The air is stiflingly hot at noon, the air hangs like laundry left in the sun, and the heat clings to the sweating bodies, uniforms clinging to bare skin. 

Life in this school, months after the earthquake has its full range of inconvenience spread out for grade 4 pupils of Cortes Central Elementary School and the rest of the kids in this institution. 

A month after the earthquake, most classrooms are still in danger of falling and school authorities heeded building officials’ advice: evacuate the rooms as yet. Make new rooms of light materials in the school grounds. 

And so in school grounds sprout classrooms: makeshift structures that accommodate 25-30 pupils, safe from the threat of toppling concrete walls in aftershocks, but open to heat, rain and noise from passing vehicles. 

Few more months, and the Grade 4 pupils would be inside a room, which a non-profit organization is helping rebuild, says CCES Principal Amelia Ancog, during a post MOA signing at the school’s principals’ office Monday. 

A Washington based organization Quota International and its Manila South Chapter offered to help CCES retrofit a 1960’s Marcos type building which the earthquake partly ruined.

Quota, or another word for share, is an organization into helping children with impaired hearing, children and women in disadvantaged situation, said Emilie Simon, Quota’s Manila South Club President.

Simon came with Quota officials Rosa Fernandez and BIA Barros at the CCES to check on the progress of the P284,000 retrofitting which the organization brought to Bohol.

In its first project in Bohol, Quota officials said they saw CCES and its problems with disadvantaged pupils from a CCES alumnae; Stella Garma-Densing, who asked if Quota could help. 

The District Engineer’s Office in Bohol has recommended the immediate repair of the wall ends of the classrooms.

Not really wanting to course the assistance to local governments due to some reported concerns, Quota used beneficiary communities to help implement and check the projects instead. 

Using funds it raised from its club projects, solicitations and benefit activities, Quota also tapped local architect Arvey Michael Lomod to supervise the building retrofit, since they are all Manila based. 

Architect Lomod said the nature of work includes replacement of two damaged walls, footings and columns, complete repair of damaged columns through concrete epoxy patching, complete flooring repair, ceilings and repainting jobs as well as additional ceilings repair in both Marcos type and Gabaldon buildings. 

The project is set for two months, this should allow the school to use the two newly refurbished classrooms as the year opens in June, Simon said. 

So in June, at least Grade V pupils of CCES will finally be in their proper rooms, safe from rains or the stifling heat of the sun.

Harmonize docu requirements 
for shelter assist, group asks
Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 3, 2014 (PIA)— With 418 families still living in tents and makeshift shelters four months after the earthquake, a group helping Bohol set up emergency shelter for victims call government to harmonize the documentary requirements to get these people into their new emergency houses. 

This is after international humanitarian organizations find it rather tough for them and the beneficiaries to comply with government requirements to get the shelter assistance done. 

As requirements for shelter assistance, both the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)require a Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) certification stating among others, that the area where the new shelter would be built is not prone to hazards and is confirmed a safe zone. 

The subject certification, is among the documentary requirements for shelter assistance most especially for funds from the government, as stipulated in the DSWD AO no. 17, series of 2010.

For the government’s Commission on Audit too, the documentary requirement compliance is among the basis for inspection, checking and review as well as their audit, sources at COA said. 

But, according to the Camp Closure and Relocation cluster of the Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council, the DENR-MGB admitted they can not provide the required clearance as required. 

The DENR MGB asserted that their agency’s tasks is to conduct ground assessments on areas with sinkholes, fissures and tension cracks and can only give opinions and make recommendations on these site investigations and its results. 

Furthermore, the MGB also adds they can not possibly cover all requests for province-wide ground assessments due to limited personnel and experts. 

At its inability to do the mandate, the MGB, through Director Arturo Alburo, told mayors that they can ask their planning officers and local engineers to use common sense in determining suitability of lots for rebuild. 

It was not certain however if this advice could suffice the documentary requirement as needed by the Commission on Audit

Due to this, Camp Closure and Relocation team pushes for the immediate harmonization of NHS, DSWD, DENR-MGB and DOST PhiVOLCS documentary requirement to help the COA and the shelter beneficiaries get their temporary shelter as soon as possible. 

This too as international humanitarian organizations race against the clock to implement the funds for shelter while facing possible fund reversion to donors, when left unimplemented as the organizations pull out of Bohol.

This late too, a little over four months after the earthquake, 418 families or some 1850 individuals continue to live in tents and makeshift shelters in 19 evacuation camps in at least 6 towns, according to Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster of the PDRRMC. 

The CCCM has moved for the immediate closure of the evacuation camps so those internally displaced persons can get to transitional shelters for better and safer living conditions, while awaiting permanent relocation.

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