todays top stories

CDO Filipino-Chinese community donates living quarters for Red Cross

November 29, 2020

THE Filipino-Chinese community in Cagayan de Oro City donated a two-storey living quarters for medical technologists of the Philippine Red Cross who are manning their molecular laboratory here at the provincial capitol compound, this city. During the turnover November 28, the CDO Filipino-Chinese community also donated 300 personal protective equipment (PPE) and 1,500 pieces of KN95 face masks. In his acceptance speech, Philippine Red Cross local chapter chairman Atty. Antonio Soriano thanked the CDO Filipino-Chinese community, saying this is a morale boost for their medical technologists who have been working every day since the COVID-19 crisis began. According to CDO Filipino-Chinese community spokesperson Efren Uy, they have already donated more than P4 million in medical supplies at two public hospitals in the city which are catering coronavirus cases in this part of Mindanao - NMMC and JR Borja General Hospital. The Filipino-Chinese Community of Cagayan de Oro includes 21 community organizations, including family associations, chambers of commerce, schools, martial arts, civic and religious fraternities.  These include the following: Misamis Oriental Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc.;  Mindanao Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China in the Philippines; Cagayan de Oro Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc.; Cagayan de Oro You We Tong Civic & Religious Fraternity, Inc.; Oro Christian Grace School; Misamis Oriental Liong Tek Fraternity Association, Inc.; Sejo-Lim Family Association-Northern Mindanao Chapter; Cagayan de Oro Bell Church Foundation, Inc.; Kong Hua School; Cagayan de Oro Volunteer Fire Brigade, Inc.; Phil. Wushu Federation-Cagayan de Oro Chapter; Phil. Kim Mun Association-Misamis Oriental Chapter ; Cagayan Gospel Church ; Cagayan de Oro Filipino-Chinese Amity Club;  Cagayan de Oro San Lorenzo Filipino-Chinese Catholic Community; Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.-Misamis Oriental Chapter; Philippine Chinese High School Alumni Association-Cagayan de Oro Chapter; Misamis Oriental Progressive Mason Temple, Inc.; Kong Hua School, Inc.; and the Chee Kung Tong Chinese Free Mason Misamis Oriental Branch.

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Villar pushes BIDA for Boracay Island

November 28, 2020

CITING the combined weak implementation of the environmental laws and indifference to them by the people, Sen. Cynthia A. Villar pushes for the creation of the Boracay Island Devopment Authority (BIDA) to sustain its rehabilitation done by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.  In filing Senate No. 1914 or an “Act Creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA),” Villar noted that despite the existence of landmark laws such as RA No. 9003 or the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act” and RA No. 9275 or the “Philippine Clean Water Act,” the environment continues to gravely suffer from degradation.  “The Boracay Island, which is one of the best beaches in the world and considered a world-famous jewel of Philippine tourism, was not spared from environment degradation,” said Villar as she sought for the approval of her proposed measure.   “Through the years, Boracay Island gained popularity and became a top tourism destination in the Philippines, thereby ushering in developments, such as hotels, restaurants, bars and rental houses that were built over the island to provide  accommodation  to the ever-growing number of tourists,” also said Villar.  The exponentially increasing number of tourists, Villar stressed, became unsustainable and breached the island’s carrying capacity.  “The apathetic concern for the environment amidst the thriving development on Boracay, along with the weak implementwtion of the environmentsl laws by authorities eventually led to the polluted Boracay Island then,” she said. In 2018, there were several news reports exposing the environmental problems besetting Boracay Island, particularly the improper solid waste management and deficient sewerage system. Due to the sorry state of the island’s sewerage system, President Rodrigo Duterte said “Boracay is a cesspool”.  The persistent environmental degradation of Boracay prompted the President to issue Proclamation No. 475 on April 26, 2018 declaring a temporary closure of the island as a tourist destination for six months so that it would be rehabilitated. The President also issued Executive Order No. 53 creating the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) to ensure the rehabilitation and ecological sustainability of Boracay.  For fhe long term sustainability and rehabilitation done on the island, tne BIATF proposed the creation of BIDA, attached to the Office of the President.  It will promote and accelerate the sustainable development and balanced growth of Boracay Island. The composition of BIDA will include representatives from DENR, DILG, DOT, DPWH. DOH, DOJ, Aklan Governor, Malay mayor, all ex-officio members, a general manager to be appointed by the President and 2 representatives from the private sector.  Earlier, Villar received a letter from DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu requesting her to sponsor the BIATF’s draft bill on the creation of BIDA. Cimatu said the creation of BIDA is seen to be a long-term solution to address the root cases of environmental degradation in the island as the existence of BIATF will expire on May 8, 2021.  “In its two years of existence and steadfast efforts in rehabilitating Boracay Island, the BIATF has had to undo the decades of mismanagement of the island’s resources, and rampant violation of environmental laws.

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Continuous Improvement of Riverdrive Project to Ease Flooding, Traffic Woes in Las Piñas

November 28, 2020

[From the present 24 kms, five km more to be constructed next year] Senator Cynthia Villar, the proponent of the Las Piñas Zapote River Drive project, is confident that its completion is preventing flooding and solving the traffic problem in Las Piñas City. So far, 24 kilometers have been completed for the last 9 years starting in 2012 until 2020 and five (5) kms more is slated to be built in the next two years (2021 & 2022).      “The project is being completed in phases and we have seen the improvements so far in terms of flood prevention and traffic flow in the river drive areas. So, we will continue to extend the coverage of the project to 29 kilometers in next two years,” (2021-2022) said Villar.      For next two years (2021-2022), the Molino Riverdrive phase will be built, stretching a total of 5kms, from Daanghari road to the river along Barangay Molino III & Molino VI until it connects to Zapote River.       The very first phase of the Riverdrive Project was the 18-km Zapote Riverdrive along Zapote River aimed at preventing flooding in the city and solve the traffic congestion along Zapote-Alabang Road because It serves as alternate road.       The Riverdrive Project started at the end of C-5 Extension Road in Barangay Pulanglupa I to Alido Bridge and continuing to an underpass in Zapote Bridge in Barangay Zapote on to Barangays Pamplona I, Pamplona II, Talon II, Moonwalk, Talon I, Almanza II then to Daang Hari Road connected to the MCX Expressway.      The second phase was the 6-km Las Piñas Riverdrive which started at C-5 Extension Road in Barangay Pulanglupa I then to Barangay Pulanglupa II, Pamplona III up to CAA Road.      In 2021-2022, the 5-km Molino Riverdrive from Daanghari to Barangay Molino III and Molino VI in Bacoor, Cavite will be constructed. It will connect to Zapote Riverdrive to Manila Bay area.      The Zapote and Las Pinas Riverdrive as well as the Molino Riverdrive, according to Villar, do not only ease flooding and traffic woes. “With the river drive, we also closely maintain the cleanliness of the river, which can be considered as the ‘artery’ of the city and nearby areas too. The people living along the river cannot throw their wastes anymore into the rivers because there is a road and the houses are fenced,” Villar cited.      Villar has spent decades since 2001 ensuring the cleaning, maintenance and rehabilitation of the Las Piñas Zapote River, which used to be clogged with garbage impeding the flow of water that cause massive flooding. She put up livelihood projects that now use wastes such as water hyacinths, waste coconut husks and plastic wastes (that used to pollute the river) as raw materials. Her Sagip-Ilog project won for her the United Nations “Best Practices Award” in 2011, which recognized the project for protecting water resources and providing livelihood to Filipinos.

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SM CITY MINDPRO OPENS

November 26, 2020

Just in time for Christmas, SM City Mindpro opens its doors in Zamboanga City, on Friday, November 27, 2020, bringing great shopping, leisure, and entertainment to this beautiful western Mindanao city.  It is SM Prime Holdings’ 76th supermall, the seventh in Mindanao, and the first in the Zamboanga Peninsula region. Zamboanga City, 6th most populous and 3rd largest city by land area in the Philippines, is the region’s cultural, economic, and educational center.  Highly urbanized, it is a busy port strategically located on the southwestern tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula, on Basilan Strait, and sheltered by Basilan Island.  The immediate coastal lowlands are narrow with low, rugged hills located a short distance inland.  Zamboanga’s Spanish-style architecture, breathtakingly beautiful beaches, mountainous backdrop, and cool climate make it a favorite tourist destination. Founded by Spanish forces in 1635 on the site of a native settlement, Zamboanga is known as Asia’s Latin City, and most residents speak the local dialect Chavacano, a Spanish based Creole language. Strong Spanish and Latin influences may also be found in the city’s architecture and historical attractions like Fort Pilar, the shine of Our Lady of the Pillar which was built in the 17th century to protect the city against pirates. Zamboanga City is also known as Ciudad de Flores or City of Flowers, as bougainvillea, orchids, and other tropical flowers line up its roadsides.  And today, hope blooms in the City of Flowers as SM opens a new mall in Zamboanga during these challenging times, a symbol of resilience, confidence, and optimism. Strategically located in a 13,078 square- meter site along La Purisima Street and Campaner Street in Barangay Zone III, SM City Mindpro will serve shoppers in this bustling city, as well as those in the rest of the Zamboanga Peninsula. These include the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay; as well as the cities of Dapitan, Dipolog, Isabela, and Pagadian. More than that, it will be a catalyst for employment and business opportunities in the area. The four-level 59,383 square meter mall creates a unique identity along the city’s popular thoroughfare and within a short walk to the well-known Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza Pershing, Paseo Del Mar and nearby pier. Striking glass walls at the main entrances and a dramatic linear overhang stretching along La Purisima Street create an impressive appearance for the mall when approached in every direction. The mall’s interiors are distinctly crisp and modern with textures and relaxing colors that give one the sense of being on a tropical holiday in an urban paradise. The SM Store and SM Supermarket are SM City Mindpro’s major anchors, along with SM mainstays like SM Appliance Center, ACE Hardware, Watsons, Surplus, Miniso, and Sports Central. It will also have fashion boutiques, jewelry stores, bookstores; as well as a Cyberzone and service and wellness outlets. Eating out options include specialty restaurants, and international and local food chains like Hap Chan, Pancake House, Bigby’s, Buffalo Wings N’ Things, Dunkin Donut, Cinnabon, Pretzelmaker, Chatime, and Macao Imperial Tea.  Dining in the mall is experiential, not only because of the exciting food choices in its four levels of restaurants, but also its new dining experiences using touch-free, cashless payment services. Zamboanga based brands like Bay Tal Mal, Turkish Grille Plus, Casa Velyn, South Avenue, Kape Sur, Sophia Jewelry, Oro Italia Fine Jewelry, and more have found their home in SM City Mindpro. The mall also brings great entertainment to Zamboanga City with its four state of the art cinemas. For customer convenience, SM City Mindpro has six parking levels with 481 car slots, 53 motorcycle slots, 12 for PWD vehicles as well as tourist transport terminals. SM City Mindpro’s project team includes DSGN Associates, Design Consultant; Jose Siao Ling and Associates, Architect on Record; Gridlines, Construction Management; and Metro Stonerich Corporation, General Contractor. With the health of its shoppers in mind, SM City Mindpro is on the forefront of safe malling, enforcing high standard hygiene checks and health protocols in the city through advanced, touch-free technology that creates a seamless shopping experience for all.  In line with SM Prime Holdings’ commitment on disaster mitigation measures and carbon footprint reduction, the mall is designed to achieve a sustainable future. 6” CHB walls with an Exterior Insulating Finish System and Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) make it a cost-efficient and energy-saving building. Likewise, its Sewage Treatment Plant has a Treated Water Recycling Tank System that helps in the conservation of fresh water. An Underground Rainwater Tank, on the other hand, can help mitigate the cause of flooding within the mall’s neighboring areas. Solid wastes are managed in accordance to local and national standards of segregation, recycling, reusing and sending to the sanitary landfill. This is even elevated to a more inclusive advocacy in SM Cares’ Trash to Cash initiative. All these are part of SM’s commitment to continue serving and supporting communities around the Philippines.

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SP OKs construction of DITO’s facilities in CdeO

November 25, 2020

THE 19th City Council on its regular session Monday presided over by Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin V. Uy adopted a resolution endorsing and/or interposing no objection to the application of DITO Telecommunity Corporation/Vertiv Philippines, Inc., for a permit to construct an Edge Modular Data Center and other related facilities at the DPWH Road subject to the rules and regulations imposed by the city government and other government agencies covering such operation. DITO Telecommunity Corporation, formerly known as Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc. or Mislatel, is a telecommunications company in the Philippines which is also engaged in the business of multimedia and information technology. It was renamed on July 8, 2019 from the Filipino word “here”, which is a response to the stakeholders’ question on where they plan to set up a firm that would provide a “world-class service” with “here” referring to the Philippines, the country where DITO was based.  The third major telecommunication provider in the Philippines is expected to begin its commercial operations by March 2021. Its technical launch was held last July 8, 2020. The technical launch means the DITO network has been technically audited by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to make sure they have complied with the government-approved number to cover 37 percent of the country’s population. DITO has paid a performance bond to the government as it committed to provide internet service with a speed of 200 megabits per second to more than a third of the population on its first year of operation, The Gavel learned. The legislation was reviewed and endorsed by the committees on public utilities and on laws and rules chaired respectively by Councilors Teodulfo E. Lao, Jr., and Ian Mark Q. Nacaya.

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‘Implement rice programs’, Sen. Cynthia Villar tells DA

November 24, 2020

Senator Cynthia A. Villar said the Department of Agriculture (DA) has two rice programs to boost the country’s rice sufficiency and augment the income of farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector.      Villar, Chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said these programs are the National Rice Program and the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).      She said Congress has appropriated P15.5 billion for the National Rice Program and P10 billion for the Rice Enhancement Fund.      “The National Rice Program is one of the banner programs of the DA, which focused on rice farming under the Office of the Secretary. It has been there since 1986 under six Presidents,” said Villar.       She said DA classifies it as subsidy to accelerate the adoption of modern rice technology toward increased yield, increase income and disaster risk reduction. The First Rice Program: The National Rice Program      For 2021, Villar said the Php 15.5- billion National Rice Program has to be spent as follows:      Hybrid Seeds-P6.2 B      Inbred Seeds-P375 M      Fertilizer-P4.4 B       Others-P858.7 M      Training-P998.2 M      R & D-P658.7 M      Equipment-P1 B       Irrigation-P745.9 M      TOTAL-P15.5 B      “However, this computation of allocation for rice through the years should have included the budgets for the irrigation through the NIA averaging P31 B a year and that of NFA which is subsidized yearly by P7B for the Buffer Stocking Program in times of calamites, fortuitous events, or shortfall in production,” noted Villar.       She also pointed out that the poverty situation in rural areas has not significantly changed during the past 34 years.       “The reduction was quite modest in comparison with that of other ASEAN countries. Thus, the strategic goal of the rice sector development program should be to increase total farm productivity and income rather than rice production alone in order to optimize total farm income” she added. The Second Rice Program: Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)      Villar said under the RCEF, which started in March 2019, government removed the quota system on rice importation and replaced it with tariff through the passage of RA 11203 starting on March 5, 2019 until 2024.        She said the tariff is pegged at 35% if rice importation is from within ASEAN; to180% if above the MAV and from a non-ASEAN country.       The law guaranteed a P10 billion funding for the program starting in 2019 with or without collection and this is in addition to and separate from the budget for the National Rice Program.       This amount is allocated to assist rice farmers who will be negatively affected by the expected increase in the inflow of cheaper rice imports of similar quality into the country and make rice production in the country competitive.      The RCEF in 2021 has a budget P10B, to be spend as follows:      1. P5B for Mechanization by PhilMech in the form of Machineries and equipment to farmer’s cooperatives and association or to the LGUs of rice producing towns with at least 100 hectares of rice farm lands;      2. P3B in the form of quality inbred seeds given to farmers listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) by PhilRice; each shall receive a maximum of four bags at 20 kilograms per bag, depending on farm size, from 0.5 to 2 hectares.      3. P1B credit facility with minimal interest available to rice farmers      and/or their Cooperatives divided equally between Land Bank and DBP;      4.  P1B extension Support implemented by PhilMech, PhilRice, ATI and TESDA for Training rice farmers on quality inbred rice production, modern rice farming techniques, farm mechanization and technology transfer through the different accredited farm schools nationwide.      The senator said RCEF every year until 2024 is focused on the 55 rice producing provinces across the country, covering 947 municipalities.       In 2020, the Bureau of Customs reported a tariff collection of P3 billion – represented taxes collected by from January to September 2020 in excess of the threshold set by the RTL which mandated the first P10 billion.       The law also provides that, collections in excess of P10 billion may be allocated to other programs on rice, including financial assistance to small rice farmers – during its first 6 years of implementation.        A joint resolution proposes to use all rice tariff collections beyond P10 billion as financial aid to the farmers owning one hectare and below numbering around 1M rice farmers,       The fixation on putting the blame on RCEF and tariffication for the failure of the National Rice Program to meet its goals is an attempt to muddle the issue and is being used by some vested interests who do not want to correct and empower the rice farmers.       “The problem of rice farmers should not be blamed entirely on the RCEF. It has been just over a year for it to create such a huge impact, because the law was passed in February 2019 while the National Rice Program has been there since 1986,” further stressed Villar.

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