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Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

The Department of Education (DepEd) pledged to remain vigilant in making the first ever automated polls honest, orderly, and peaceful elections (H.O.P.E.) the country aspires.

“Let our pledge of HOPE encourage everyone to responsibly exercise their rights in choosing the deserving leaders to govern our country in the next six years,” Education Secretary Mona Valisno said.

The pledging ceremony was participated in by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and other DepEd partners. Other DepEd officials and personnel attended the ceremony.

The event aimed at maintaining impartiality and neutrality among election officials. This was highlighted with a ceremonial lighting of candles and followed with an election briefing conducted by DepEd and COMELEC.

Valisno explained that the task is given to teachers because, “they have earned the trust and respect of the public.” This has been the practice where public school teachers have always been associated with elections and considered as persons of authority in voting precincts.

DepEd has been coordinating with different agencies to ensure that poll operations will run smoothly come May 10. **DepEd release

Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

Education Secretary Mona D. Valisno directed all teachers manning the polls and division superintendents who are members of the board of canvassers to be vigilant and to prevent any attempt to manipulate or engineer the results to benefit any particular candidate or party.

“Amidst talk of failure of elections, bribery, and even election manipulation, the DepEd must not and will not be a party to any attempt to subvert the will of the people,” she said.

“We must not give hope to those who wish the elections to fail. At this crucial time in our nation’s history, failure is not an option. Having been given the task to man the polls, our teachers must do their duty with honesty and integrity,” she added.

She warned teachers not to be tempted. “Election day is the greatest test for a teacher. If you do not tolerate cheating by your students during quizzes and exams; then you should place yourself under the same standard. The whole country is watching us. Let us not fail them,” she explained.

She said that it is duty of any DepEd employee to report any attempt to influence or coerce them to the DepEd election task force or to the proper authorities. DepEd has organized election task forces from the division to the national level to assist teachers in fulfilling their duties on election day.

“Our National Election Operations Center headed by Undersecretary Franklin Sunga will be open round the clock on election day to respond to queries from BEI members and to receive reports of fraud which we will immediately report to the COMELEC and to the proper authorities,” she added.

She said that teachers should observe the three elements of election preparedness to ensure “Clean Elections.”

The first element is proper and adequate training. “We have succeeded in doing that. Under the supervision of COMELEC, all members serving as BEI members have completed the training course on automated elections.”

“The second element is to prepare the school premises which will serve as election precincts. That means removing all campaign materials that have suddenly proliferated against established DepEd policy. No campaign material should be allowed to remain before election day” she said.

She said that the third element is to coordinate security arrangements with COMELEC and the police in securing the schools. “The PCOS machines must be secured at all times, so that there will be no suspicion of irregularities or tampering,” she said.

As per instruction of Sec. Valisno, DepEd has issued a 9-point guideline that must be observed by all teachers and officials serving on election day.

The guidelines are the following: 1. Respect and defend the sanctity of the ballot, 2. Honor you oath and duty as teacher in ensuring a free, honest, and clean elections; 3. Perform your duties to the best of your ability as mandated by law with honor and integrity; 4. Preserve the integrity of the teaching profession by being a role model among all civil servants by not engaging directly or indirectly in any partisan political activity except to vote; 5. Maintain utmost impartiality and neutrality in exercising your functions; 6. Refuse any form of bribe or influence from any politician or party; 7. Report to higher authorities any attempt to use force or violence or intimidation in order to manipulate the results of the elections; 8. Recognize the elections as a crucial stage for change and transition for the welfare of our country and the future of our children, and 9. Perform your functions with utmost dedication and professionalism as your service to God, people and country. **DepEd release.

Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Energy (DOE), under the Philippine Energy Efficiency Project (PEEP), is set to facilitate a P3 Million Public Lighting Retrofit Program for the city’s Burnham Park.

To formalize the project DOE Undersecretary Loreta Ayson and Mayor Peter Rey Bautista signed a Memorandum of Agreement at the City mayor’s Office, Thursday. The signing was witnessed by DOE Director for Research and Testing Laboratory Raquel Huliganga and City Environment and Parks Management Office OIC Cordelia Laxamana.

In a statement, Ayson explained that in the said public lighting program, which is an Asian Development Bank (ADB) assisted project, DOE will be using energy efficient lighting fixtures and the latest lighting technology, such as Light Emitting Diodes (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL).

“Instead of incandescent and mercury bulbs, we will change it to a more efficient lighting and out of this program, the city can have an annual saving of 173,333 kwh, or about P1.7 Million from the city expenditures and Carbon Dioxide reduction of about 69,000 kgs., “ Ayson said.

Ayson also stressed that Baguio City is the first of the four areas in the country, that will benefit from the program. DOE is also considering Cagayan De Oro and still finalizing the two other locations for the project.

Under the said Lighting Retrofit Program, the DOE will provide the project funding for materials and costs and facilitate the bidding and awarding of the electrical contractor (EC) that will undertake the services of the project. The project will cover almost the whole of Burnham Park, including its perimeter area, the lagoon and the biking area.

Meantime, Mayor Bautista acknowledged and thanked DOE for selecting the City of Baguio for the project. According to Bautista, aside from the energy and electricity cost that the city will save, we already have saved P3 Million just for lighting the whole Burnham Park.

Bautista also stressed that his administration is supportive of the government’s Energy Efficiency Projects, as he cited that this MOA with DOE is the third lighting efficiency project of the city government. The two other projects are the “Palit-ilaw” for the city market and the City Hall.

Bautista also cited that they also had a solar lighting project for Burnham Park, in partnership with the US Embassy, under former US Ambassador Kristie Kenney. Another lighting project in the pipeline is for the Wright Park,” he added. **Lito Dar/PIA

Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

BAGUIO CITY – The National Statistics Office (NSO) is ready for the 2010 National Census on Population and Housing (CPH) which will be conducted starting May 17.

NSO-CAR Regional Director Olivia Gulla said they have just finished training all the individuals that will be involved in the census, from the provincial up to the municipal level, and all the census materials are delivered in every census area in the region.

For this 2010 CPH, 1,696 individuals composed of census team, supervisor, area supervisor, assistant area supervisor, enumerators and some Department of Education personnel, were hired by NSO.

According to Gulla, the NSO in this 2010 CPH is partnering with the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) in determining the ethnicity of every individual. “ It will be the first time that ethnicity information of every individual will be included in the census”.

Through the CPH, more information can be gathered on the ICCs/IPs’ demographic, social, political, economic and cultural profiles/characteristics that would provide policy makers and planners a basis for rational and appropriate plans and programs for ICC/IP development.

There were also guidelines formulated for determining the ethnicity of an individual, in cases of mixed ancestry. For mixed non-IP parents, children 13 years old and older will be the one who will decide which parent’s ethnicity he/she will follow, meantime for children below 13 years of age, who could not yet decide, he/she will follow the ethnicity of their mother.

The same rule goes with children with both IP parents. For cases of mixed IP and non-IP parents, children regardless of age should follow the ethnicity of the IP parent.

In cases of children with Muslim and IP parent, for the family with Islam as their religion, the children regardless of age will follow the ethnicity of their father, though if the family belongs to another religion other than Islam, children 13 years old and over, will decide which parent’s ethnicity they will be listed. For those 13 years old and below, they will follow the ethnicity of their mother.

In cases of Muslim and non-IP parent, the children regardless of age will be considered with the ethnicity of their father.

Judith Cadias of NCIP-CAR also stressed the importance of determining the ethnicity of an individual especially IPs. For the past years, there were no data and figures pertaining to IPs.

Cadias said the NCIP was in charge in training the enumerators on determining the ethnicity variables of every individual from the national down to the regional, provincial and municipal levels. **Lito Dar/PIA

Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

The Baguio-Benguet Public Information Civil Action Group (BBPCAG) topped the best Non-Government Organization (NGO) category in the prestigious 2009 Gawad ”KAlamidad at Sakuna LAbanan, SAriling Galing ang Kaligtasan” (KALASAG) Search for Excellence in Disaster Risk Management (DRM).

La Trinidad Municipal Police Station won the heroic act in the national government organization group while the Baguio City Emergency Medical Service (BCEMS) topped for the local government organization.

In the Local Disaster Coordination Council (LDCC) category, barangay Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet got first place.

The individual heroic act during emergency response was awarded to Engineer Joel Son of Philex Mining Corporation.

Special citation honor was given to Gov. Maximo B. Dalog of Mt. Province, P/CSupt. Orlando L. Pestaño and P/Sr.Supt. Joseph C. Adnol.

Posthumous awardees were Senior Fire Officer 3 Siegred B. Ngoloban, Senior Fire Officer 3 Richard T. Balusdan and Fire Offcer 2 Benedict Tumayan. The three , all from the La Trinidad Fire Station, died during the rescue operation of victims of typhoon Pepeng in La Trinidad.

‘Kalasag ‘ is the Filipino term for shield used by early Filipinos as a means of protection from attacks of enemies or harmful animals. Relatedly, the Gawad KALASAG award was conceived to guard and shelter high risk communities against hazards by encouraging participation of various stakeholders in designing and implementing DRM programs.

According to Office of the Civil Defense (OCD)-Cordillera Regional Director Olivia Luces , they are presenting the award in recognition to institutions and individuals for their excellence on DRM and humanitarian assistance.

The award provides the mechanism in obtaining sustained commitment and support from the highest level of government by recognizing the exceptional contributions of the various disasters, Luces added.

The regional winners will represent the Cordillera in the national contest for Gawad KALASAG award.

The regional search committee organization is composed of the Department of Interior and Local Government as chair, OCD as co-chair, and Camp John Hay Fire Safety Division as vice chair.

The members are the Department of Health , Department of Social Welfare and Development , Department of Education , Department of Science and Technology , Philippine National Red Cross , Philippine Information Agency and the Cordillera Parents Federation Inc. **joseph b zambrano/PIA-CAR)

Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

BAGUIO CITY – More and more Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) are being made aware of the importance getting health insurance and registering membership to Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PHIC) or Philhealth before going to work abroad.

This was confirmed by PHIC-CAR Information Officer Maggie Del Rosario, in an interview in a local radio Tuesday.

About 46,529 OFWs are already enrolled as PHIC members wherein 15,946 of them registered in Baguio City. Philhealth insurance is not only beneficial to OFW members but to their qualified dependents as well, Del Rosario said.

In the same interview, Anne Julie Ganaden, stressed that confinement or hospitalization abroad of OFWs is covered by Philhealth. All hospitals abroad are being considered by Philhealth as tertiary hospitals, wherein all their members can avail all hospitalization benefits given under the said bracket.

According to Ganaden, what PHIC members need to apply for their claims are: Claim form no. 1 which can be downloaded from their website – www.philhealth; Member Data Record; detailed statement of account; and medical statement stating the final diagnosis, duration of confinement period and services rendered.

Ganaden also stressed that for other foreign language countries, all documents must be translated or written in English.

To further ensure the continuous delivery of health insurance services package to their OFW members and their families, Del Rosario also announced that PHIC is continuously increasing their accredited collection tie-ups abroad.

According to Del Rosario, they have recently tied-up with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) remittance center in Hongkong, the Philippine Veterans Bank which has remittance center in Asia, Europe and Abu Dhabi, in addition to their iRemit branches and partners in the Asia-Pacific and Europe.

Meanwhile, Del Rosario also announced that effective April 1, PHIC has extended its health insurance coverage to psychiatric patients. Mental and behavioral disorder patients with acute attacks or episodes are compensable when they are admitted, when aggressive or assaultive behavior presents danger to self or others; patient is suicidal; when patient become manic or depressed and there is gross impatient in judgment and reality testing; when medication side effects became disabling or potentially life threatening; and for special medical procedures such as electroconvulsive therapy.

PHIC is continuously upgrading and improving its programs and health insurance service packages in line with the national government’s effort to provide quality health services and assistance to all Filipino people, regardless of their status in life.

In 2009, PHIC increased the amount of the health insurance benefits, added outpatient coverage and other special benefits such as Tuberculosis treatment, normal spontaneous delivery up to the first four deliveries, New Born care Package, Voluntary Surgical Contraception Procedures, Cataract Extraction, SARS/Avian Flu Package, Malaria Package and A-H1N1 Package. **Lito Dar/PIA

Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

BAGUIO CITY – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in partnership with the City Government of Baguio City, through the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) conducted a two-day training on Financial Literacy and Addressing Barriers to Reintegration for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) last May 6 and 7 at the City Hall.

The training was attended by more than 100 OFWs from different overseas workers associations and cooperatives in the city, and OFW dependents.

According to Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. , the training aims to teach OFWs and their dependents on how to handle their finances by teaching them how to properly save and invest their money.

“Many of our OFWs are still in the stone age, ayaw pa rin nila sa banking industry, electronic wiring of money at hindi naniniwala sa pagdeposito ng pera sa bangko. Through this seminar we will teach them to think out of the box, to be realistic, on how to properly save and invest money, so as they will not loss their money on scams,” Bautista said.

Bautista also lauded OWWA for initiating such seminar, which he said is be beneficial to the OFW sector, not only from the city but from the neighboring municipalities as well.

OWWA-CAR Acting Director Evelyn Laranang explained that their office is continuously implementing Financial Literacy programs though this training is more extensive.

In cooperation with the city PESO and other NGOs like the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines and the Episcopal Church in Baguio, the training aims at educating the OFWs on the social cost of migration and on the proper management of their finances.

“Based on the survey of some NGOs, many of our OFW families are becoming over-dependent sa kita na pinadadala ng mga overseas worker, kaya through this training we want to impart to our participants the importance of prioritizing their expenses, on saving their money and how to properly invest, para mapalago pa nila ang kanilang kita,” Laranang said.

The Financial Literacy training included lectures on the Duality of Migration and Financial Literacy which includes Lectures on understanding concepts on savings, investments and assessment of entrepreneurial skills. Issues confronting OFWs and their families were also tackled and small group sharing and counseling was also included.

Meanwhile, Laranang announced that the OWWA’s National Livelihood Support Fund (NLSF), a collateralized loan program, is now available to OFWs in the Baguio, Benguet and Ifugao area.

According to Laranang, the NLSF is a national loan program with a P100 Million fund, which aims to support OFWs, active or returnees, who want to augment their source of income by engaging in business or expand their existing business. Under the said program, a maximum of P200,000.00 may be granted to bonafide OFWs and /or their dependents to start, revive or expand their existing business.

In relation to this, OWWA will be having a one-day orientation on the NLSF loan program on May 14 at the OWWA Office at Private Road, Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio City. **Lito Dar/PIA

Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

BAGUIO CITY – Two new cases of HIV/AIDS have been confirmed in the city.

City Health Services Office (HSO) Reproductive Health and Wellness Center head, Dr. Celiaflor Brillantes, said the first patient was diagnosed last January and the other one last March. The two cases were just positively confirmed as HIV cases by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory in Manila. Both patients were male and were walk-in client of the HSO-RHWC.

Brillantes said another HIV case was diagnosed last February though they are still waiting for the patient to return so they can submit the patient’s blood sample in Manila for confirmation.

To date, HIV/AIDS cases monitored and recorded in the city now stands at 37 with 17 deaths. According to Dr Brillantes, the City HSO, in coordination with the Center for Health and Development (DOH-CHD-CAR), has been continuously active in their advocacy campaign against HIV/AIDS as cases in the national level continue to increase.

The 2009 Integrated HIV Behavioral and Serological Surveillance (IHBSS), conducted by the Department of Health, revealed that the number of Filipinos afflicted with HIV/AIDS especially among high risk population is steadily growing. The 2009 IHBSS report disclosed that the overall prevalence of cases in the most at risk population (MARPs) is 530 per 100,000 population and this MARPs includes MSMs, freelance and registered female sex worker and those injecting drug users.

The Philippine HIV/AIDS Registry reported that for October 2009, 80 new HIV cases have been confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory, or a 36% increase compared to the same period in 2008. Since 1984 up to October of last year there were already 4,218 HIV cases recorded, wherein 828 have become AIDS.

Brillantes stressed the need to focus more on these vulnerable groups. She also urged those belonging to the MARP to be responsible and get tested for HIV. She informed their RHWC clinic is offering such services and she also assured the confidentiality of all of their patients and walk-in clients.

In relation to the advocacy against HIV/AIDS, the international community will once again be commemorating the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on May.

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, a program started by the Global Health Council in 1983, is the oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV/AIDS awareness in the world. It is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries hosting local memorials that honor the lost and raise social consciousness about the disease.

Locally, the HIV/AIDS Candlelight Memorial, is being led by the City AIDS Watch Council (AWAC) headed by Dr. Charles Cheng. The council is composed of various government agencies and private/peoples organization.

Part of the activities being planned is the putting up of posters exhibits as it is an effective advocacy against HIV/AIDS as people could actually see or get a picture of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) and HIV/AIDS cases. **Lito Dar/PIA

Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

The Baguio City Police Office supports the continuation of the gun ban even after the May 2010 elections.

The Philippine National Police has proposed the continuation of the total gun ban in the entire country even after the election period.

BCPO Chief, P/Supt. Agripino Javier, said that the BCPO is willing to implement the total gun ban in the city of Baguio even after the May elections. This is seen to maintain the general peace and order situation in the city, said Javier adding that this likely decrease crime rate incidence.

Javier said gun owners will be forced to put away their firearms and not to bring them when they go out their houses when the proposed gun ban will be approved.

The Commission on Elections gun ban has been strictly implemented in the city of Baguio since the start of the election period in January. The BCPO has arrested eight individuals in violation of the COMELEC gun ban as of last week.

The COMELEC gun ban implementation in the city has been successful in keeping the peace and order in the city, said Javier. “The security of the people of Baguio is better since the implementation of the gun ban”.

Check points in the city roads and streets have been effective with the presence of police ensuring that the people and motorists are safe and secure.

“With the continuation of the total gun ban, the peaceful ambience in the city will be maintained and the people of Baguio will feel safe and secure”, Javier said.

Meanwhile, the Regional Election Monitoring Action Center of the Police Regional Office – Cordillera reported that 95 persons have been arrested for violating the COMELEC gun ban.

Abra province has the most number of violators arrested and firearms confiscated. Baguio City ranks third. **Redjie Cawis/ PIA

Posted by: RD HELEN R. TIBALDO | May 10, 2010

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet - The Department of Education (DepEd) Cordillera is set to start the “Brigada Eskwela” or the National School Maintenance Week on May 24, 2010.

The Brigada Eskwela is a schools maintenance program nationwide that engages all education stakeholders to contribute their time, effort and resources in ensuring that all public schools are ready in time for school opening.

It is an event where communities, parents, alumni, civic groups, local businesses, non-government organizations and private individuals including teacher and student volunteers to devote their time and skills to do repairs and maintenance work in public.

DepEd- Cordillera Regional Director Josefina Tamondong said that the services that can be done in the schools are masonry, carpentry for the repair of chairs and furnitures, plumbing, electrical and electronic, landscaping and gardening for the beautification of the school.

"It takes a community to educate a child and this is precisely the point of Brigada Eskwela, the voluntary participation of the community stakeholders for a better learning environment for our students," she said.

We are also encouraging the private schools to do the same and over the years, Brigada Eskwela has mobilized an increasing amount of support from both the private and public sectors, Tamondong said.

The program is participated in by elementary and secondary schools and generated almost a million worth of volunteer man-days, labor support, donations-in-kind and community maintenance operating expenses.

DepEd made mandatory among all public schools the Brigada Eskwela in order to spread the benefits and assure the pupils that all schools are ready for class opening.

The program is also a means to generate more public and private sector participation to the annual school event. **joseph b zambrano/pia-car


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