caraga region

Surigao fishersfolk protect marine sanctuaries by heart

October 11, 2017

CORTES, Surigao del Sur--- Fishersfolk of this wide coastal town have been collectively guarding their rich marine sanctuaries and fishing grounds with heartfelt dedication. No wonder this once virtually unknown town gained national prominence when it became the first grand winner of sustainable coastal management competition besting other finalists in the efforts in protecting and conserving their marine environments. Endowed with 56,000 hectares of municipal waters which is much larger than its 13,059 hectares of land area, the residents’ commitment to safeguard their marine preservation areas (MPAs) in recent years made them as the grand winner of the Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan (MMK) 2016 initiated by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). Cortes Mayor William Angos, a lawyer and an accountant, received the citation from President Rodrigo Duterte during the awarding rites in Malacanang on March 7 this year. The municipality of Cortes received P20 million prize which will be used to continue their marine conservation program. Angos, a true-blue marine conservationist who is a scuba diver and mountain trekker, admitted he confronted a big challenge when he became mayor in 2013 on how to deal with conserving their marine resources while most of the residents remain poor. “I was confronted with conservation as a social problem. Unless we address their hunger pangs, the fishersfolk would always be tempted to intrude into our marine sanctuaries,” Angos said. In the last four years, the local government has embarked on a no-nonsense awareness drive to residents on fishery laws and regulations while engaging the fisherfolks to tightly guard their municipal waters against all forms of illegal fishing activities . Angos, who disclosed it was just accidental when he entered local politics in 2013 while spending a vacation in his hometown for a diving spree, said the first two years of strictly enforcing fishery laws was crucial since it was met with cold reception from fisherfolk and resistance from illegal fishers. The campaign became successful with the help of Vincent Dueñas, a fellow of an NGO called RARE Philippines who later became Municipal Coastal Resource Management Officer, when he spearheaded a community-based campaign through peoples organizations in the sustainable management and enforcement of MPAs in the 12 villages of Cortes. The campaign involved fisherfolk, couples, students and even out-of-school youth to become integral part in activities to improve biodiversity in the coastal areas of their respective communities by reducing at least 95 percent of the intrusion of spearfishing and fine-meshed net with scaring devices within the no-take zone. Dueñas said this can be achieved if residents have a sense ownership of the MPAs and are involved in the governance and enforcement. Angos said they are bent on institutionalizing the campaign with an increase awareness especially to their fisherfolk to become their credo in their daily routines while fishing the seas that is facing the Pacific Ocean. According to BFAR study, the coastal areas of Cortes support abundant and diverse ecosystems of coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangrove forests and soft bottom environment that are habitats of a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates. The coral reefs of Cortes are most likely among the largest in Lanuza Bay with an estimated area of 2,780 hectares. Its seagrass beds and algal flats are estimated at 1,500 hectares while total area of mangrove forest was recorded at 330 hectares. Cortes, though relatively a small municipality, is the major supplier of fresh seafood and first class fish in the Surigao del Sur including bangkawan (mottled spinefoot), kitong (Goldspot Spitefoot), langub/talakitok (Trevally/Jack), gangis (Horned Surgeonfish) and tangigue (Spanish Mackerel). Using the multi-sectoral stakeholders approach, the town council has crafted several significant local fishery policies and regulations including the 100 percent registration of all local fishermen with ID system, registration of yellow-coded boats and gears and the establishment of Coastal Resource Management Office complete with qualified staff and officers. Already, education and awareness on marine conservation inculcated to residents in all walks of life were best displayed during the recent week-long Kalogatan Festival 2017 when a pageant dubbed Ultimate Fisherman Champion (UFC) represented by each village includes a question and answer portion where contestants were asked about their knowledge on marine biodiversity and fishery laws. The same approach was applied in a separate color coding quiz show at the municipal gym where selected residents were given multiple choices on red, blue and white lines for the right answer of the questions. A special award was also given to the best village and peoples organization for the outstanding implementation of MPAs in their respective areas which went to Barangay Burgos and Kadagatan Ampingan Pagmata Katawhan (KAAMPAKA). Angos said they are now shifting to human development concept as key to sustainable marine conservation for this year’s entry to national MMK competition. The concept dwelt on developing a sustainable coconut farming and eco-tourism industry so that residents could also engage in other progressive livelihood activities. Dueñas, who is the main consultant of the mayor, said coconut farmers will be introduced with the ideal organic farming system using mykovam soil-based biological fertilizer developed by University of the Philippines –Los Baños. Angos said he will develop different eco-tourism livelihood programs to showcase the Laswitan Lagoon which already attracted local and foreign alike during the Amihan season (Northeast monsoon that occurs between November to February) because of the waterfall-like effect when big surf of waves from Pacific Ocean lambasts the rock formation. He is also working on a municipal fish landing port project in the village of Tigao where he projected a 300 to 500 percent increase in local revenue collections. “I am already worried of the resources of our seas that the time would come on the vicious cycle of overfishing,” Angos said to explain about the need to take on their holistic livelihood approaches to address the basic needs of the residents. He wanted to quit politics when his term ends in 2019 so he could focus more on financial needs of his family now that he had two children entering college by that time. “ I don’t have messianic tendencies,” saying he don’t want to stay longer as their town’s leader to be regarded as the residents’ savior from heaven.

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Army soldiers bring home coffins of fallen NPA rebs

October 10, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur--- For humanitarian reasons, Army soldiers brought home the remains of two fallen communist guerillas to their respective families, ten days after they were killed in an encounter in the hinterland village of Binicalan in San Luis town. 2nd Lieutenant Romel Arnado, Civilian-Military Officer of the 26th Infantry Battalion, said the delay in transporting the decomposing remains of the two young New Peoples Army rebels was caused by the inability of military choppers considering the area where they were recovered is hardly accessible by land vehicles. With the help of Mayor Jesryl Masendo of Talacogon town, the families along with the services of a local funeral parlor claimed the remains of the NPA casualties Joy Martinez, 21, alias Tata/Norbeng, a resident of Marbon in Talacogon town and Michael Sanchez , 27, a resident of Esperanza town, on October 7 and finally respectively brought them home a day after because of the long distance of travel Arnado said they were requesting a chopper of the Philippine Air Force to immediately retrieve the slain rebels but there were none available since all are on standby in Marawi due to the ongoing crisis there. Masendo disclosed the family of Martinez had earlier sought help from him to negotiate the slain rebel and his identical twin to lay down their arms and surrender several months back but they could not establish a communication with them until they just learned Joy was killed in the encounter with troopers from the Bravo Company of 26th IB. Lt. Col. Rommel Pagayon, commanding officer of 26IB, believed the other twin could have been already killed in a separate encounter. Col. Andres Centino, commanding officer of the 401st Army Brigade, has extended sympathy to the families of the fallen NPA rebels saying the two were just victims of the useless war waged by the communist armed struggle. Meanwhile, six NPA rebels who recently surrendered to Masendo and the 26IB were given each of them immediate financial livelihood assistance of P15,000,a sack of rice and some food stuff. The former rebels belonging to Front 88 said to be under Kumander Antoy yielded 11 long firearms which could be processed for another cash assistance of P50,000 for each weapon under the funding of Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

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Higaonons build new lumad schools

September 25, 2017

ESPERANZA, Agusan del Sur--Higaonon residents in the far-flung hinterland Hinamaybay village take pride of constructing two new school buildings after two months of voluntary works in the spirit of Bayanihan. The new schools, consisting of one two-classroom and another three-classroom buildings designed with a Higaonon culture concept are now ready to use to some 216 elementary pupils and 75 secondary grade 7 and 8 students . Built under the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-Cidss) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD), the new P3.9 million classroom buildings were inaugurated by Esperanza Mayor Leonida Manpatilan and local officials on Wednesday, September 20. Considered by the Department of Education as lumad public school, five of the eleven teachers who belong to the different indigenous tribes of this province will teach the school children using the Higanonon medium of instruction in all subjects in the elementary and secondary level. The opening of the 3-classroom building is also a welcome sigh of relief to the grade 7 and 8 students as they would no longer trek some seven to nine kilometers rugged roads and mountain trail to study in secondary schools in the distant neighboring villages. Kinamaybay is an isolated community inhabited by 90 percent Higaonons which can be only reached by habal-habal motorcycles and 4-wheel drive vehicles with its interior roads can be only accessed using the national highway connecting La Nieves town in Agusan del Norte. It was once disturbed by the bombings at the height of atrocities between New Peoples Army rebels and Army soldiers in 2010 but residents confronted their sad plight to a committed resolve to instead help one another to uplift their socioeconomic condition. This had drawn government attention, making them recipients of various Kalahi-Cidss projects funded by the World Bank in the past years. Visiting DSWD officials were impressed with the way residents cooperate as everybody would be present at a gathering for a meeting at the multipurpose hall of the village as soon as they hear the clang of the distant bell. Aside from the new school building, the residents were recipients of previous Kalahi-Cidss sub projects, including village road, day care center, rice and corn mill, solar dryer and concrete pathway which were realized because of the residents active participation as stakeholders during the implementation stages of the projects. During her visit, Manpatilan also inaugurated the P680,00 300-meter road leading to the new secondary school building and the turnover of P2.5 million farm tractor. “This is a 4-in-1 projects here that will bring total makeover of the community,” the mayor said.. She lauded the Kalahi-Cidss program as a holistic approach that had given residents a proud sense of ownership. Samuel Ampahan, chairperson of Barangay Sub Project Management Committee, said the residents’ sincere commitment to participate in realizing the projects which were carried out with transparency and accountability was the key to their success. He recalled many of those who volunteered to become part of the project monitoring team did not have formal education at school, but managed to learn skills from the trainings that taught them the intricacies on the standards and regulations of the projects. Some of the residents admitted the training and workshops and their exposure on canvassing the materials outside their village helped them better persons to socialize in the outside world, a transformation from the traditional traits of a Higaonon who are meek and shy. Ampahan, a pastor of a Christian church in the village, has been a Kalahi-Cidss volunteer leader for 11 years which made him a finalist in the program’s national awards this year. Village chief Rolando Pinahan said the projects that the community received served as an instrument to develop their ancestral domain.” We never thought the projects would come here,” Pianhan said, adding in local vernacular that “ walay man mi kurso kon grado pero ang among pagka kursunada maoy nagpatuman niining tanan (We did not have courses in education but our strong will and determination made this all happen.)” The Lumad public school would be the first in Caraga with complete package using the indigenous teaching curriculum under the K-12 educational program. The five Lumad teachers, even with the absence of teaching materials and textbooks, have taught the elementary school children the different subjects using the Higaonon dialect. Virginia Talidro, Supervisor of Department of Education District I of Esperanza, said the Lumad teachers have undergone trainings during summer time for them to internalize in the K12 program the indigenization and contextualization of the curriculum. “These will be integrated across learning areas of the school chidren,” she said. Leo Madrina, Teacher-In-Charge of Hinamaybay Elementary School, said two English and Science volunteer teachers who are Lumads are now teaching the grade 7 and grade 8 students who will be transferring to the new three-classroom school buildings. Already, the Lumad teachers have been tasked to work on the orthography of Higaonon dialect and the materials will be given to the tribal leaders for validation.

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Church builds internet to serve far-flung areas

September 20, 2017

BAYUGAN City--A thriving Christian denomination here has established its own wireless internet broadband services not to lure more church members but to connect the world wide web far-flung communities and schools not yet served by major telecommunication networks. To propagate its state-of-the art global Airmax network, the A2wiser Broadband Corporation operated by the United Pentecostal Church (UPC) in this city has already tapped at least five public schools that benefits mostly junior and high school students who are now enjoying fast internet connections in their school campus and in their electronic libraries. Interestingly, the A2wiser wireless internet services was first introduced in Mamapasano town in Maguindanao a few months before the infamous Mamapasano massacre on January 25, 2015 but the unstable peace and order situation there prompted the company to pull out and transferred it to this city. Bayugan City Senior High School, located along the national highway some five kilometers from the city, was the recent recipient of the internet connection when some three new desktop computers were activated at their e-library during the inauguration rites over the weekend. Jessie Esmad, school principal, said availability of internet connection in their new e-library would be helpful on the research studies of the students who can access it anytime considering that the school do not have enough textbooks to cater about 1,069 students. “It is convenient since students would no longer commute to the city to do research work,” Esma said. The three new computers provided by A2wiser to the e-library have included printers for students to print their research works with a minimal fee of P5 per page. Pastor Jocim Galos, A2wiser chief operation officer, said they would set up internet kiosks in the schools furnished with tablet mobile phones and PCs to augment the services of the library making internet connection more accessible inside the school campus. Apart from these services, A2wider has been selling internet cards to students and teachers with an affordable rate at P5 per hour so that they could also access internet on their own mobile phones and laptops. As part of their corporate social responsibility, five percent of the profits gained from monthly internet bills and internet cards will go to the funds of Parent-Teacher Association and student government bodies. Esmad said more PCs allocated for their school from the central office of the Department of Education will be coming and will be connected to the Internet to complete the computer sets needed at the e-library. Even the computer laboratory of the school used only for instructional purposes and the workshops of different technical vocational subjects will be also connected with internet to enhance the learning capabilities of the students. Except Bayugan Comprehensive National High School, other schools are mostly located outside of the heart of the city which were already connected with A2wiser internet are Marcelina National High School, Salvacion National High School and Noli National High School. Galos said their company is bent on covering the entire 68 schools in the city within this year and hopes that could cover the entire Caraga region in the next five years. According to Diomedes Hinacay, network administrator, A2wiser has invested P3 million to set up its state-of-the-art equipment and its towers erected in the schools using the Airmax network technology or what techies would describe as the global standard for last mile connectivity which already connected hundreds of millions of people even in the remote areas of the world. Hinacay said they are tapping the internet services of major telecommunication networks like Globe, Bayantel, PLDT , and Smart that subscribers are assured of uninterrupted internet connection since they could transfer to another network when one would be down. He said Globe Telecom has allocated them 300 megabytes per second (Mbps) for a 2-3 years contract but so far they only utilized Mbps to cater their subscribers in the city. A2wiser is working on its expansion activities as they are assured of another P5 million loan capital from retired Deputy Police Director General Chief Superintendent Geary Barias, who is now chief security and boad of director of Platinum Group Metals Corporation in Claver, Surigao del Norte. Barias who was guest of honor during the launching event lauded the efforts of the church leaders saying the company guided by the blessings of God could go a long way.” What man proposes, God will definitely dispose,” Barias said in his speech. Rene Rojas, a pioneer in the establishment of the company, said A2wiser was established as a crusade of UPC to build more churches in the hinterland communities , provide internet services to the lumads at affordable cost and send more scholars to Bible colleges. Charlie Misagi, business consultant of the company, said money has not been a priority but serving people with no access to internet technology is the main focus. “Our main concern for this company is to serve the unserved.”

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Guv gives away 14 bikes to lucky Aselco raffle winners

September 11, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur--Gov. Adolph Edward Plaza over the weekend handed down at least 14 motorcycles to the winners of the raffle draw of the Annual General Membership Assembly (AGMA) of Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ASELCO) held last May 13, 2017. The governor personally attended the awarding ceremonies at the Bae Naipaganda Hall of ASELCO Main Office where the eager winners coming from different towns of the province received the keys of the Rusi motorcycles from him. “This is one humble way of my support to ASELCO to let the national leadership know that we are united here in Agusan del Sur,” Plaza said in his remarks. The lucky winners were drawn from thousands of tickets of ASELCO member-consumer-owners who attended the AGMA being held in four areas of the province where the whole day event was aired live simulcast via Skype. The AGMA held at the fully-airconditioned newly-built ASELCO covered court at the main office, at the Billanes Gym in Trento town, at Lope Asis Gym in Bayugan City and Talacogon municipal gym in Talacogon town were attended by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Gov. Plaza, National Electrification Administartion Administrator Edgardo Masongsong and top officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission. Plaza announced impromptu that he would give away 14 motorcycles to lucky raffle winners to the great excitement of the crowd but due to meticulous processing in the release of the funds for the purchase of these motorcycle, the awarding was held last Friday. ASELCO Board President Corazon Cullantes has announced the cooperative is working on a livelihood program that will benefit residents down to the Purok level in the entire province, so that “ you will have now the capacity to pay your monthly electric bills.” For his part, ASELCO General Manager Engr. Emmanuel Galarse said the giving away of motorcycles was a big blessing since it is the first time that at least 18 motorcycles were given as grand prizes. Apart from the 14 motorcycles which the governor has committed, ASELCO has given four motorcycles as grand prizes. “My thanks reaches up the heavens up above,” said Sandy Aguilar, one of the winners living in the upland village of Villangit in Sibagata town. He added the motorcycle will help him bring his chi8ldren to school considering the hardships before of travelling the seven-kilomter rugged roads. Another winner Raul Blanco, a nurse by profession, said he was surprised when he was told that he won since he just left the raffle ticket and went home earlier to work at the hospital.

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Butuan mayor bans city gov’t workers from illegal gambling

September 7, 2017

BUTUAN CITY – In line with his directive to city hall employees to lead by example, Mayor Ronnie Vicente C. Lagnada has issued Executive Order No. 016 strictly prohibiting all local government officials and employees from engaging in all forms of illegal gambling. The city chief executive stressed in his order that his administration condemns the existence of illegal gambling activities such as illegal numbers games as they have become a negative influence on the individual’s regard for the value of dignified work, perseverance and thrift since instant monetary gain from gambling are equated to success, thereby becoming a source of corruption and a social menace. Lagnada noted that engaging in illegal gambling such as card and number games and other gambling activities, electronic or otherwise, have proven to be detrimental to productivity, moral and ethical conduct that hamper the delivery of public services. Any official or employee found guilty of violating EO 016 shall face disciplinary action in any of the following circumstances: a) Permanent officials and employees covered by Civil Service rules shall be punished by a reprimand for the first offense, suspension of up to thirty (30) days for the second offense, and dismissal for the third offense,; b) Non-permanent employees whose employment is either on job order or service contract status will be terminated at the first offense;. Among the prohibited acts unde EO 016 include: a) Engaging or participating in all forms of illegal gambling, card or number games and other similar activities, electronic or otherwise, within and outside the workplace and whether or not in the performance of official duties; b) Possessing illegal gambling paraphernalia, materials, and prizes; c) Promoting and betting in illegal gambling activities, and concealing, aiding or abetting officials or employees therein; and d) Doing any other acts tantamount to those above-Mentioned.

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