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Use your money wisely, guv tells former NPAs

March 30, 2019

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur--Gov. Adolph Edward Plaza has urged former New Peoples Army (NPA) rebels to productively make use of the more than P200,000 individual governments’ financial support for them rather than lavishly spend them on revelries. This appeal was aired by the governor during the awarding of Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) benefits on Wednesday afternoon to the former communist guerillas and the groundbreaking ceremony of the proposed halfway house project for the rebel returnees. “I’m worried that you will just extravagantly waste the money just for Karaoke parties,” Plaza said. “Your neighbors and relatives may lure way to spend for a big celebration since you’re back to the folds of law, but when all your money is gone they will just turn you away.” He urged the 220 rebel returnees who were recipients of E-CLIP grants to undergo a training on financial literacy by the Department of Trade and Industry for them to effectively manage their money with productive livelihood activities. He cited a rebel returnee father who has eight children asking him to devote his lost time with his family and make sure that the money will sustain their daily living with productive income generating activities in their community. He also advised other young rebel returnees to avail of skills training offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) specially on heavy equipment operation and other related trainings in the wake of a strong demand of the workforce in the construction industry. Plaza assured those who will avail of the training that he will recommend them for placement of government infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program of President Rodrigo Duterte. The governor has also called on the rebel returnees to take part as farmer-enrollees of Upland Sustainable Agri-forestry Development (USAD) program, his centerpiece initiative in extending proper technology and seedlings to selected crops that will be grown by farmers living in hinterland villages. “USAD staff will teach you proper technology on growing cacao, rubber, falcatta with an inter cropping of fruit trees and bananas which many of the recipients are already living productive lives since it started in 2014,” Plaza said. The governor said he regularly visits the USAD areas to personally assess the progress of the farm lands.

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Metro Cagayan de Oro master plan for sustainable urban infra dev’t underway

March 30, 2019

THE National Economic Development Authority Region 10 is in the process of formulating a Master Plan for the Sustainable Infrastructure Development of Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro. Sustainable urban infrastructure expands on the concept of urban infrastructure by adding the sustainability element with the expectation of improved and more sustained urban development. In the construction and physical and organizational structures that enable cities to function, there is the aim of meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the capabilities of the future generations (Tiwari, 2016). According to the College of Engineering and Applied Science of the University of Colorado Denver, urban infrastructure refers to the engineered systems (water, energy, transport, sanitation, information) that make up a city. However, challenges resulting from increasing population growth generated a need for sustainable infrastructure that is high performing, cost-effective, resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly. (UCD, 2015) NEDA-10 Regional Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño said NEDA-10 received the notice to proceed with the P 64.857 Million project last 23 January 2019, followed by the kick off meeting 7 February 2019. A Regional Consultation was held 11 March 2019 at a local hotel with LGU Chief Executives, government planners, civic society groups and media, following its presentation to the Regional Land Use Committee 4 March 2019. “We have managed to come up with the vision for Metro Cagayan de Oro which shall form the basis for the Metro CDO Master Plan, among other things,” Ms. Cariño said. The 12 month study aims to formulate a master plan for the sustainable urban infrastructure development of Metropolitan CDO; guide decision-makers in the preparation and approval of plans, policies, and programs/projects/activities (PAPs) in the urban growth center; and improve the competitiveness, security, and resiliency from disaster; and general urban conditions of the metropolitan area. Background The Metro Cagayan de Oro Master Plan had its beginnings in 1990 when the Metro CDO Special Development Project was first proposed by regional planners through the Integrated Area Development paradigm then in vogue. This was followed in 1996 by the proposal to develop a Comprehensive Metro CDO Master Plan. In 2009, the Expanded CDO-Iligan Corridor (CIC) Area was identified as Metro CDO, the hub for trading and services, which was formally recognized in 2017 with its inclusion in the Philippine Development Plan of 2017-2022 as the realization of Metro CDO by 2025. Finally, the Metro CDO Master Plan for Sustainable Infrastructure Development was formally approved in 2018, and funds provided under the General Appropriations Act of 2018 through the Project Development and other Related Studies (PRDS) Fund. Metro Cagayan de Oro Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro was formally included in the Philippine Development Plan of 2017-2022 which envisions Region 10’s role in National Development with the emergence of Metro CDO as the Philippines’ 4th Metropolitan Center by 2025 as a major gateway & trans-shipment hub, and Key educational center with potential growth in the banana industry, rubber, bamboo, cacao, coco coir, coffee, agribusiness, and tourism. With a total population of 1, 219, 005 as of 2015 and total land area of 2,221, 13 square kilometers, Metro CDO initially planned to include the two cities of Cagayan de Oro and El Salvador in Misamis Oriental, eleven municipalities in Misamis Oriental (Initao, Gitagum, Libertad, Laguindingan, Alubijid, Opol, Tagoloan, Villanueva, Jasaan, Claveria, and Balingasag) and six municipalities in Bukidnon (Manolo Fortich, Baungon, Sumilao, Malitbog, Libona, and Talakag). “Originally 11 municipalities and 2 cities were involved but the configuration of Metro CDO has evolved,” said Ms. Cariño. “More municipalities are being considered.” Population trends indicate Metro CDO will have a total population of 1,382,574 on 2.73 growth rate by 2020, to grow further to a populace of 1,559,475 on 1.28 growth rate by 2025. Key Deliverables Key deliverables for the project include ensuring the Metro CDO Vision is consistent with national and regional objectives of the Philippine and Regional Development Plans for 2019-2022; stakeholders profiles and determination of physical, climatological and socio-economic attributes; infrastructure requirements to support the Metro CDO development, and the overall framework, action plan, business case/pre-feasibility study of top priority PPAs and communication plan. With the help of the Consultants for Comprehensive Environmental Planning, Inc. (CONCEP), the project will conduct situational analyses of economic development, land use, transport and connectivity, environment and disaster risk reduction, housing, services and facilities, recreation and tourism, energy and power. National Alignment The Metro CDO Master Plan for Sustainable Urban Infrastructure is aligned with the Philippine Development Plan of 2017-2022 dubbed “ AmBisyon Natin 2040, and the National Spatial Strategy which sets the direction of future growth recognizing population, geography and the role of cities as engines of economic growth, with infrastructure providing efficient connective networks of sustainable urban and rural communities, consistent with the country’s long-term vision and the Regional Development Plan 2017-2022 and Strategic Development Areas. Identified Key Development Zones in Region 10’s SDAs include Lanao del Norte Development Cluster, Iligan Industrial Core, LADP Impact Zone, CDO Metropolitan Area, and the Misamis Ecozone. These KDZs are conceived to capitalize on commonality of resources, optimize potentials and identify concerns for more focused interventions; serve as areas of efficiency, innovation and creativity; anchored on the National Spatial Strategy: concentration/regional agglomeration; connectivity; and vulnerability reduction. Development Challenges Among the development challenges in Metro CDO that the Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Master Plan aims to address are the following needs: An efficient transport system as evidenced by traffic congestion resulting in opportunity costs lost and increased costs of vehicles in gridlock; the absence of efficient mass public transport (e.g. bus rapid transit, rail) and weak enforcement of traffic rules. Improved Solid Waste Management to address indiscriminate waste disposal by households, institutions and industries into waterways and water bodies; non-segregation of wastes despite local ordinances. Resilient infrastructure to manage and control flooding events in downtown CDO which paralyzes economic activities. Environmental Integrity to curb rampant and unchecked conversion of prime agricultural lands (with Misamis Oriental  as a Top 10 province with biggest number of conversions) and the major challenges to land management and economic growth. Priority Areas for Development Among the identified priority areas of development in Metro CDO as a Land Use and Master Plan for the Metro CDO that includes the following key vision elements: Making communities more resilient/sustainable; Balancing Socio-economic opportunities;  Connectivity;  Septage & Sewerage Facilities;  Efficient Mass Transport System (BRT/Rail);  Establishment of Disaster Risk Management & Mitigation, and traffic monitoring office;  Walkable neighborhoods, parks and open spaces geared toward sustainable environment; and a Metro-wide Solid Waste Management System. Ways Forward Following the ongoing data collection needed to flesh out the master plan, the Consultants are scheduled to deliver a Midterm Report by July, 2019; with the delivery of the Draft Final Report set for December 2019. This would include the draft Master Plan and Pre-Feasibility Study which will be presented to the Infrastructure Committee and the Regional Development Council general assembly on the same month, with the delivery of the Final Report (Master Plan and Pre-FS) expected  by January 2020.

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Absentee voting: The voice of overseas Pinoys

March 30, 2019

They are deemed as the new heroes of the nation as their remittances contribute greatly to the economy. While chasing their dreams and working to provide for their families in another country, they also take part in selecting the future leaders of their motherland. This is the essence of the overseas absentee voting (OAV). Article V, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution mandates the creation of a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot, as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad. Overseas Filipinos have two modes of voting in the May 2019 midterm polls, either personal or by mail. According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), those who availed of Overseas Voting will either go to the post where they are registered or just wait for their ballots in the mail. The modes of voting are manual (postal) and (personal) manual and using vote count machine (VCM) under the automated election systems (AES). The registered voters overseas will be voting for national positions only, 12 senators and one party-list organization. They will also be using a special ballot since they will only be choosing candidates for these positions. OAV by the numbers According to the Comelec website, www.comelec.ph, there are a total of 1,822,173, registered voters overseas from four regions. Middle East and African Region tops the number of absentee voters at 887,744, followed by the Asia Pacific Region at 401,390;; North and Latin American Region, 345,415; and European Region, 187,624. A total of 41 posts will be using VCM in the forthcoming polls. These posts are in Agana, Calgary, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Ottawa, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Brunei, Canberra, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taipei, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Wellington. Also included are the posts in Athens, London, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Al-Khobar, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv. Postal voting will be utilized in the following posts, namely Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Mexico, Santiago, Bangkok, Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Islamabad, Port Moresby, Yangon, Ankara, Berlin, Berne, Brussels, Budapest, Geneva, Lisbon, Moscow, Oslo, Paris, Prague, The Hague, Vienna, Warsaw, Abuja, Cairo, and Pretoria. On the other hand, personal voting will be conducted in Dhaka, Dili, Jakarta, Manado, New Delhi, Phnom Penh, Shanghai, Vientiane, Xiamen, Vatican, Amman, Nairobi, and Tehran. Voting process Voting starts at 8 am, April 13, local time of the host country and will end at 6 p.m. on May 13, Manila time. For those availing of the personal voting using VCM, the voter has to go to the embassy, consulate and other foreign service establishments authorized by the Comelec for him/her to cast their votes. Just like in a regular polling center, a voter will be given a ballot together with a secrecy folder and a pen, he/she will then proceed to a booth and cast his/her vote. The voter will shade the ovals beside the name of the candidates and party-list of choice. He/she will then submit to the Special Board of Elections Inspectors (SBIEs) the ballot, and insert the ballot in the machine. After the ballot was read by the machine, it will issue a receipt, the voter will then drop it into a designated box. As for countries adopting manual voting (personal), a voter will go to the Post or other voting areas designated by the Commission, he/she should have the passport or valid ID. He/she will approach the Electoral Board, and give his/her name and address. Once the identity is a ascertained, the voter will sign and affix his/her thumbmark in the List of Overseas Voters with Voting Records (OVF No. 2-A), the certified list of overseas voters containing their names and biometrics arranged alphabetically, then a ballot will be issued to them. He/she will accomplish the ballot using a ballot secure folder. After voting, the voter will fold the ballot in the same manner he/she received it and return it to the Poll Clerk and place the ballot inside the ballot box. The SBIEs deputized by the poll body will oversee the conduct of the voting and counting of votes. As for postal voting, the voter will receive through mail or personal delivery an envelop containing the Official Ballot, Certified List of Candidates, Instructions to Voters, Official Ballot envelop and Paper Seals. After accomplishing the ballot, the voter has to place the ballot inside the “Ballot Envelope” and seal the same. They should make sure that the envelope is neither be crumpled nor damaged when it reached the embassy, consulate or foreign establishment concerned. He/she should write his/her full name and affix signature in the proper space provided in the “Ballot Envelope” and seal it with a paper seal. They may either mail or personally deliver it to the Post. Mailing should be done at the soonest possible time to ensure that the ballot is received by the Post concerned on or before May 13, 2019 at 6 p.m. Manila time. Also, voting may be held for limited days in the field voting centers or mobile voting centers authorized by the Commission. For seafarers, they may vote at any Post adopting personal voting or, in case of postal voting, in any Post with international seaports as identified and recommended by the Department of Foreign Affairs-Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS). The Comelec said that if there are still voters who have yet to cast votes within 30 meters radius of the polling place at 6 p.m. Manila time on May 13, the voting shall continue to allow the voters to cast their votes without interruption. The Poll Clerk shall without delay, list the names of said voters. The voters listed shall be called to vote by the Poll Clerk by announcing each name three times in the order, in which they are listed. Any voter who is not present when called shall not be permitted to vote at any later time. Counting and canvassing The counting and canvassing of votes will begin immediately after the posts have closed. It will be conducted on site in the country within the premises of the Posts, or in such other places as may be designated by the Commission. The SBEIs composed of a Chairperson, the Poll Clerk and the Third Member will conduct the counting of the votes, which will be held simultaneous with the counting of votes in the Philippines on Election Day. The Chairperson will read the names of candidates and the office which they are voted for while the Poll Clerk and Third Member, accomplished the Election Returns and Tally Board, respectively. After all the ballots have been counted, the Chairperson will publicly announce the total number of votes received by each candidate for Senator and party, sectoral organization or coalition participating in the party-list system of representation. After the counting, the SBEI shall transmit the results to the Special Board of Canvassers (SBOC) that will consolidate and canvass the votes. (PNA)

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NEA awards Camelco ‘excellent performance’

March 30, 2019

MAMBAJAO, Camiguin--Consistent in the delivery of services in the areas of financial, technical and  institutional operations for the last 15 years, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) has rated Camiguin Electric Cooperative (Camelco) triple A status, or excellent in over-all performance. General Manager Adrian Ebcas said  Camelco has attained an average weight of 95 percent in its operational performance based on the key performance standards set by NEA, making it to the list of top performing electric cooperatives in the country with triple A ratings. NEA’S classification of Triple A rating for Camelco has an average score of 96.6 percent for the period 2014-2017. Camelco is a non-stock and non-profit organization under the supervision and control of NEA.  The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approves the application of the rates, Power Supply Agreement (PSA) contracts and Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) projects. “The NEA report card   on Camelco getting a Triple A rating runs counter to the newspaper report that the cooperative has been operating in the red as alleged during the supposed public hearing conducted last March 18, 2019. Ebcas explained that the reported accumulated losses of P426 million over the years were clearly reflected in the statements of changes in members’ equity and not  classified   as Camelco’s outstanding debt. In the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 alone, Camelco’s audited financial statements categorically showed a total comprehensive income of P45M, P57M and P21M, respectively, which is the basis of NEA’s evaluation of the profitability parameter of the cooperatives. During the hearing, however,  Camelco reported the uncontrollable increase of system loss that  greatly affected its  financial operations due to the significant increase in accounts payable - power amounting to P47M in 2017, not P76M as published in the Business Week Mindanao dated March 25, 2019.  These numbers were reflected in the cooperative’s audited financial statements.  •    Upgrading of distribution lines to lower down systems loss by 4.5 percent •    Apply to ERC the inclusion of submarine cable loss to increase CAMELCO’s system loss cap from 11 percent to 14 percent Ebcas also said that the issue of meter deposit has been complied and was already submitted to the ERC last February 28, 2017.  To date, CAMELCO is awaiting of ERC’s action on the Meter Deposit Audit Report.          Camelco  also confirmed the provisional approval of the ERC on the cooperative’s  peak demand by its power supply contracts. It has, at present, a contracted capacity of 10.73 MW consisting of the current demand, indicative load and projected load growth.   “Ït was not accurate the report that CAMELCO only utilizes less than half or 4.7 MW  of the total contracted  energy”, Ebcas said. Camelco’s power consumers are also paying the true cost of generation because it relies solely on the  power supplied  through submarine cables.   Unlike other island cooperatives in Palawan, Romblon and Mindoro, Camelco does not receive any generation subsidy  from the National Power Corporation-Small Power Unit Group (NPC-SPUG), he added. As of February 2019, Camelco’s total effective rate, as approved by the ERC, is P15.83/kwh exclusive of distribution VAT  of which P2.6/kwh only goes to the cooperative in the form of distribution, supply and metering charges.  With its unique island location, Camelco is appealing for congress and other inter-related agencies such as ERC, NPC-SPUG to take into account the cooperative’s profile and operations for a subsidized generation and universal charge rate of at least P7.50/kwh.   •    CAMELCO appeals for a subsidized generation rate of at least P6.00/kwh by NPC-SPUG •    Connect the new submarine cable to the universal charges for reduction of P1.50/kwh from reinvestment fund for sustainable capex rate (RFSC) Camelco is also looking at connecting the cost of the new submarine cable  to the universal charge, Ebcas added.

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PaDayon-CDP, PDP-Laban kick off Oro campaign

March 29, 2019

By MARK FRANCISCO   CAGAYAN de Oro City mayoral candidate Jose Gabriel La Viña released on Friday (March 29) three documents proving that he has no pending criminal and administrative cases. La Viña released the documents as his PaDayon Pilipino-CDP coalition kicked off their campaign for the May 13 elections with a complete slate from congressmen to councilors in the two legislative districts of Cagayan de Oro City. The first document is a certification from the Civil Service Commission (CSC) regional office in Metro Manila stating that La Viña has no pending administrative cases in their office as defined in Section 46 Rule VII of the Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. The one-page certification was dated January 22 this year and issued by CSC National Capital Region (NCR) director Prisco Rivera Jr. Between 2016 to 2018, La Viña served in three government posts - Social Security System (SSS) commissioner, Tourism undersecretary and Agriculture undersecretary - all in national capacity but juridically based in NCR as far as civil service overseeing is concerned. The second document released by La Viña exonerating him from any legal battle is a clearance from the Office of the Ombudsman dated January 21 this year which simply states that the mayoral hopeful has no pending complaints in their office. The clearance was signed by graft investigation officer Julito Ramo. The third document is a certification from the special anti-graft court Sandiganbayan also stating that La Viña is not a defendant in any of the cases pending before it. It was issued January 22, 2019 by Sandiganbayan chief clerk of court Ma. Teresa Pabulayan. PaDayon Pilipino-CDP kicked off their campaign with an afternoon rally at Bulua gym and an evening one in Bugo plaza. It is led by congressional candidates Caesar Ian Acenas (first district), Rufus Rodriguez (second district), vice mayoral bet Vicente Emano and La Viña. PDP-Laban will kick off their campaign a day later on Saturday (March 30) with a Mass at St. Augustine cathedral followed by a unified rally for both districts at Kiosko Kagawasan in the historic old city center of Divisoria. The administration party is led by reelectionist Mayor Oscar Moreno, reelectionist Vice Mayor Reineir Joaquin Uy, reelectionist first district Rep. Rolando Uy and challenger Yam Lam Lim, an incumbent councilor who is gunning for the second district congressional seat.

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Ex-Claveria town mayor guilty of graft

March 29, 2019

BY JOEL CALAMBA ESCOL CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental - The former mayor of this town was found guilty of graft due to his involvement on the reported anomalous payments of housing project construction works made from 1995 to 1996. Found guilty of 15 counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan 2nd Division was ex-mayor Antonio P. Calingin of the town of Claveria, this province. Calingin has also been found guilty of violating the provisions of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act in the past years. Based on the 79-page decision penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna, which was also concurred by Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi, the former mayor was involved in the reported anomalous payments of construction works for Balay Ticala Housing Project way back in 1995 up to 1996. Also convicted by Sandiganbayan include Estrellita Ballescas who was then the municipal accountant at the time of the construction of Ticala Housing Project. The former mayor was meted with a minimum of 90 years up to 120 years imprisonment, including perpetual disqualification from holding office. The former municipal accountant was also found guilty of 9 counts of graft and sentenced to 54 years up to 72 years of imprisonment.    The Sandiganbayan also sentenced a private individual identified as Renato Quiblat. He was convicted of 2 counts of graft and will be imprisoned for 12 years up to 16 years. The former mayor was also ordered by the Sandiganbayan to pay 7.205 million.  Ballescas and Quiblat was also ordered to return to the government P1.345 million. Three other accused in the same anomalous payments namely Romeo Estrada, former municipal engineer; Lourdes Plantas, former municipal treasurer; and Joaquin Dilag, former assistant municipal treasurer  - were dismissed by Sandiganbayan as they have already died. The government probers at Sandiganbayan 2nd Division found out that the former mayor has approved vouchers and also issued its corresponding checks. It was then signed by the municipal accountant Ballescas. And said checks were also accepted by Quiblat. The investigators said in 79-page decision that Ballescas displayed gross negligence which was deemed inexcusable. This act constitutes evident bad faith when the municipal account Ballescas also justified the payments as well as the reimbursements even without the usual paper trail in all government transactions involving payments. The decision said that “without any other document establishing the basis for the supposed advance payment made and the claim for reimbursement,” she should not have affixed her signature on the vouchers.” This, according to the results of the probe demonstrates the municipal accountant’s wanton and deliberate disregard of the demands of her duties being the municipal accountant. In the case of the former mayor of Claveria town, Sandiganbayan said Calingin should not have made payment “in the first place for some irregularities maybe found” in said transactions. The court also found that sometime in May 1995, the accused Calingin facilitated the payment of P4,500,000 to private persons identified as Kim Tulio and Andy Bejasa for different construction works. However, accomplishments in its actuality only totalled to P1,706,854.70. On December 2, 1995, the group reported about land management development and processed a voucher for P1,500,000. But in actuality, there were no expenses made for land management development.  Another charge was the recorded payment for project management fee in which it was paid to DVF Construction dated December 22, 2015, and this totalled to P750,000. But still, no actual services rendered. There were still other anomalous transactions in said 79-page decision that were no longer included in this news report, and all of them resulted to the conviction of the accused former government executives mentioned above.  

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