DOST-funded technology to help keep Siargao water safe

November 30, 2017

GENERAL Luna, Siargao Island—Safe water may be the next attraction in Siargao as the island puts on board the Eco-friendly Septic Tank System or Eco-sep. This technology consists of a septic water management system that addresses the problem of untreated waste water in resorts, public establishments, and households. Launched in Siargao last September, the Eco-sep technology is installed in three pilot sites, namely General Luna Market, General Luna High School, and Traveler’s Beach Resort. “Samples collected from these sites will serve as a baseline for DOST to encourage resort owners, LGUs, and households to adopt the technology in our campaign [as part of the project],” says Engr. Noel Ajoc, project coordinator. Dr. Merlinda Palencia, developer of the Eco-sep technology, explained that the Eco-sep system deployed in the pilot sites contains Vigormin, an organomineral that hastens the decomposition of harmful bacteria that lodge in septic tanks. Vigormin prevents bacteria from escaping from the tank, thus avoiding contamination of waste water in sewage systems. Dr. Palencia noted that the Eco-sep system will be very efficient in Siargao. Most septic tanks in the island have a bottomless design which allows wastewater to quickly seep through the ground. This poses higher risk of contamination in freshwater and seawater. “Eco-sep will make an impact to Siargao since the main attraction of its eco-tourism are the pristine, fresh and very clean water along its beaches,” said Palencia. “We don’t want Siargao to follow the footsteps of other tourist areas where fecal bacteria are already in sea waters.” DOST Caraga Regional Director Dominga D. Mallonga also assured that DOST will always continue its support in sustaining eco-tourism in the island. “With the development comes challenges from the increasing influx of tourists in Siargao. DOST will always be along the way so that we will be able to plan out carefully and avoid problems in solid waste management and food safety,” guaranteed Director Mallonga. The Eco-sep technology is funded by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD). Its launch in the island was participated in by scientists, local government units (LGUs), government agencies, educators, volunteer groups, and students. During the launch of the technology, DOST also introduced other projects for Siargao such as food-based livelihood for the elderly, IT-enabled livelihood, and DOST’s digital S&T library called STARBOOKS. (S&T News Service)

Lending conduit receive checks for PLEA program

November 8, 2017

Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 10 (DA-RFO 10) in collaboration with the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) has turned over Php 54.43M worth of checks to the lending conduits in the pilot province of Bukidnon on October this year.. The turn-over ceremony was done at the Northern Mindanao Agriculture Crops and Livestock Research Complex (NMACLRC), Dalwangan, Malaybalay City. Led by OIC Regional Director Carlene C. Collado and ACPC Director Cristina G. Lopez, Team Leader for Bukidnon, the checks were given to three lending conduits: Sta. Monica of Pangantucan Multi-Purpose Cooperative of Pangantucan, Bukidnon (Php9.95M), Mindanao Consolidated Cooperative Bank (MCCB) with Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental as their service areas (Php40M), and Lumintao Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LUFAMCO) of Quezon, Bukidnon (Php4.48M). The amount of money entrusted to conduits were intended for the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program of DA which aims to empower farmers and fisherfolks by providing them easy access to credit that intends to finance production of crops, livestock, poultry and fishing activities with minimum requirement. The said PLEA program has a very minimal interest rate compared to other lending institutions. Its loan limit is up to Php50,000 at 6% per annum or 0.5% per month based on the project requirement and repayment capacity of the borrower, as evaluated by the lending conduit. The loan is payable in a span of 2 to 10 years depending on the commodity or project of which the 6% interest payment will go directly to their cooperative. With the implementation of the program, the government anticipated the abundance and economical food for Filipino people. In his message, Director Collado pointed out that the PLEA program is a DA initiative conceptualized by the DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, himself. In addition, he encouraged the farmers to manage their funds properly. “Don’t waste this privilege given to you as this is just one program of the government that will help improve your livelihood,” he mentioned. “We would like to thank the DA and ACPC for entrusting us this loan. This is really a big help to us small farmers and we hope that with the minimal interest, we would be able to pay our loans on time,” said Thelma Aguilar, Manager of LUFAMCO. Furthermore, the event was attended by Provincial Agriculturist Engr. Alson Quimba, Deputy Provincial Agriculturist Jacqueline Lagamon, officers and members of the above-mentioned cooperatives and coop banks and DA-ACPC staff.

DA honors organic implementers

November 3, 2017

The exemplary catalysts for the organic agriculture sector have been recently honored by the Department of Agriculture (DA) through its search for the National Organic Agriculture Achievers’ Awards (NOAAA). The awarding was led by DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol before a crowd of nearly 2,000 organic farmer-practitioners, agricultural extension workers, exhibitors, enthusiasts and other industry stakeholders across the country during the 14th National Organic Agriculture Congress (NOAC), held in the city. “Let’s work on feeding the Filipino people first…and, you organic farmers kayo ang may malaking papel dito,” underscored Agriculture Secretary Piñol. He noted that while the agricultural sector is broadening its reach to the international markets, serving the country comes as top priority. The NOAAA winners were named by category, such as the outstanding provincial and municipal local government units, OA focal persons, agricultural extension worker, small individual farmer, farmer’s group and organic farming family. They were awarded based on their exemplary contributions to the implementation of RA 10068 known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 and achievement of the envisioned goals of the NOA Program of DA that more Filipinos will engage in Organic Agriculture. The winners at the provincial category are the Provincial Local Government Unit of Ifugao (PLGU-Ifugao) and focal person Catherine V. Buenaventura. The Municipal Local Government Unit of Itogon, Benguet (MLGU-Itogon) won in the municipal category. While Dexter Mendoza, city OA focal person of Ligao, Albay and Rowena Gonnay, agricultural extension worker of Pasil, Kalinga are named winners in their respective capacity. On the other hand, Elmer Salzar of Tigaon, Camarines Sur triumphed as the outstanding small farmer individual. La Top Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MPC) of La Trinidad, Benguet, and the Marsan Family of La Trinidad, Benguet garnered the outstanding farmer’s group and organic farming family awards, respectively. For earning the individual awards, Buenaventura, Mendoza, Gonnay and Salzar received each a plaque of recognition and Php50,000, Php40,000, Php30,000 and Php200,000 cash prizes, respectively. The group winners such as the PLGU-Ifugao, MLGU-Itogon and La Top MPC were granted each a plaque of recognition and an OA project (proposal-based) amounting to Php3 million, Php1 million and Php500,000, respectively. For the Marsan Family, it received a cash prize of Php300,000 and a plaque of recognition. Moreover, the DA chief looks forward to giving more incentives on top of giving citations and awards to the national organic achievers. He encouraged the Congress delegates to join him in this aspiration. “Let’s focus our advocacy on organic agriculture, tingnan natin kung ano pang incentives ang ating maibibigay for every farmer who embraces the organic farming system,” he urged. Despite the different technologies espoused by DA, according to Piñol, it is always the market which dictates the kind of farming systems that we should embrace, and he pointed the bright potential of OA. “The world is moving towards healthier food, organic food, and you are lucky because early on, andiyan na kayo, kayo ang unang makikinabang as the world goes craving for healthier and safer food for themselves and their families,” Piñol remarked. “I assure you all of the full commitment of the DA to OA,” Piñol concluded. The occasion was also graced by Atty. Rhaegee Tamanya representing Cynthia A. Villar, senate committee chair on agriculture and food; DA Undersecretary for Agribusiness and Marketing and Regional Engagement Bernadette Romulo-Puyat; Engr. Christopher V. Morales, coordinator, NOA Program; heads of DA attached bureaus and agencies; regional directors of various regional field offices; organic focal persons and representatives. Hosting the 14th NOAC is DA-Regional Field Office 10 headed by OIC-Regional Director Carlene C. Collado, CPA along with assistant regional directors Engr. Roxana H. Hojas, CESO IV and Carmelita T. Bajarla, MBA, and OA Focal Person Samuel C. Natindim, Jr. in partnership with the City LGU of Cagayan de Oro, Xavier University – College of Agriculture and the PLGU of Misamis Oriental.

Marine bio experts wage solutions to protect corals

September 14, 2017

MARINE biologists and experts recently put forward science-based solutions that address issues in coral protection in the country. Dr. Wilfredo Roehl Y. Licuanan, in his talk entitled “Current Status of PH Coral Reefs and Prospects for the Near Future’”, recommended to “fix the reef first before transplant.” He was speaking at the recent forum on National Coral R&D Program which highlighted the current status of the Philippine coral reefs, the importance of research for the conservation of corals, the exploration of our scientists and researchers of the Philippine Rise and its overall impact to the economy of the Philippines. Organized by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources (DOST-PCAARRD), particularly the Marine Resources Research Division headed by Dr. Mari-Ann M. Acedera, the forum was part of the recent 2017 National Science and Technology Week celebration. “Reefs do not form overnight. They take thousands of years to develop,” he said, adding that the coral reef crisis cannot be resolved by coral gardening as it is expensive and is not practical. Coral gardening is the cultivation of corals for commercial purposes or coral reef restoration. According to him, the method is also risky as instead of actually repairing the damaged coral reef, it might harm the reef even more. Another sad reality is that, he said, 80% of the coral mortality is actually caused by various human activities and not natural calamities. Take for example the case of the minesweeper ship USS Guardian that on January 17, 2013 ran aground on the south atoll of the Tubbataha Reefs, a delicate ecosystem in the Sulu Sea treasured for its rich marine biodiversity. The grounding damaged 2,345 square meters of coral on the reefs, considered a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “The better thing to do is to take care of the remaining reefs,” he said. Dr. Patrick C. Cabaitan, also a speaker, discussed the topic ‘Sexual Production of Corals and Why Sex is not Enough?’ He said that studying coral reefs is essential to the economy of the Philippines as they also provide for the ecotourism of the country. He emphasized that scientific intervention is an important tool in coral production. “Corals reproduce through asexual and sexual means, but sex is not enough for the corals,” he said. He suggested that researchers or anyone interested in studying corals pursue basic science to understand reefs; consider other ecological processes in conducting reef restoration efforts, and integrate restoration with management efforts. Meanwhile, Dr. Cesar L. Villanoy, in his talk entitled ‘Updates on the Oceanography of the Benham Rise’, discussed his past researches and the importance of understanding the movement of the waters around Philippines. His researches addressed pressing concerns of the country particularly in fisheries, harmful algal blooms, storm surges and other complex dynamics of archipelagic oceanography. He said that it’s vital to understand the movement of the waters and its temperature to be able to formulate policies with regards to management of the country's marine resources. He also reminds everyone to always consider the processes that determine our physical environment in order to explain the ecology of organisms and the observed trends. Dr. Hildie Maria E. Nacorda, in her talk entitled ‘On the Benham Bank Biodiversity: Taking Learning to the Next Step’, discussed the expeditions the Philippines has done to determine the economic potential of Benham Rise, now called the Philippine Rise. Though the two expeditions done in 2014 and 2016 have discovered the existence of marine species in the Philippine Rise, Dr. Nacorda said that further studies are needed to fully understand the potential of the rise. Initial findings of the nationwide assessment of coral reefs In relation to this call to the public of the marine experts to help in the preservation of the remaining coral reefs, DOST and Department of Environment and Natural Resources are working on a coral reef assessment throughout the country to create a National Coral Reef Status next year. This is because despite of the Philippine archipelago being well known for its species-rich coral reefs, there is a lack of updated information on the present status of its coral reefs. The initial findings of the Nationwide Assessment of Philippine Coral Reefs by Licuanan, et al were published in the Philippine Journal of Science last June 2017. Reefs sampled were randomly selected from around the country, with the number of assessment stations for each of six biogeographic regions stratified by the total area of reefs in each of these regions. For two years, 166 reefs have been sampled. Based on live coral cover, more than 90 percent of the sampled reefs are in the poor and fair categories. So far, the mean hard coral cover of the country at 22 percent is comparable with that of the Indo-Pacific region, but much lower than previous estimates for the Philippines. These values indicate a marked decline in the condition of local reefs over the last four decades, thereby revealing the urgent need for the revision and update of conservation and management policies. (Rosemarie C. Señora, S&T Media Service)

Tax reform can benefit the poor: economist

August 28, 2017

MANILA -- Poor families can benefit from the Department of Finance’s (DOF) tax reform proposal with the highly targeted cash transfers that will be distributed to the country’s poorest households, according to an economist. Rosario Manasan, a senior research fellow of government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), said 40 percent of the increment on excise tax from petroleum will be used for targeted cash transfers. Manasan, an expert in public finance, noted that target beneficiaries will be identified utilizing the National Household Targeting System of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the same tool used by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). But she said both Congress and Senate have yet to decide whether to provide the targeted unconditional cash transfer for three years based on Senate Bill 1408, or for one year only as stipulated in House Bill (HB) 5636. “My own recommendation is three years to give time for the transfer to have some impact on growth and benefit the poor,” Manasan stressed. HB 5636, also known as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), is part of the DOF’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) that recommends the lowering of personal income tax (PIT) but increasing excise taxes on fuel, new cars and sugar products. In contrast, poor families will not benefit from the reduction of the PIT because they are not paying any personal income tax even under the present system as their incomes are below the taxable threshold. But Manasan said poor families are also bound to be adversely affected due to the proposed increase in the excise tax on petroleum products and expansion of the coverage of the value-added tax (VAT). The House of Representatives has already approved its version of the TRAIN (HB 5636) last June 2017. Currently, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means is deliberating on the HB 5636 as well as Senate Bill 1408, the version of the TRAIN that was filed by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III. (PNA)


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