Monthly Archives: February 2011

P8-million training facility to rise in MisOr

February 28, 2011

MANILA — Students in Mindanao may choose not to pursue technical vocational courses in Manila as the government plans to open an P8 million worth of training center in Misamis Oriental.

Located at the eastern town of Libertad, the two-hour drive facility from Cagayan de Oro City will also benefit residents outside the municipality, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) said.

Courses such as electrical installation and maintenance, construction painting, masonry, heavy equipment servicing, carpentry and scaffold erection will soon be offered there.

“It’s 90 percent complete already although we still don’t know the exact operation date,” Tesda media officer Roselyn Salagan told Sun.Star.

Last year, the bulk of the P40 million allotted for scholarships in Northern Mindanao went to Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro City alone. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

Bigger facility for halal biz to be set up in Mindanao

Sunstar Davao
February 26, 2011

THE government is determined to help Filipino companies seize a wider chunk of the $3 trillion global halal market.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Soccksargen Director Dr. Haja Sittie Shayma P. HR Laidan confirmed the construction of a Halal facility in South Central Mindanao bigger than the laboratory now operating in Cotabato City.

Once completed, the new laboratory will be named the Philippine National Halal Laboratory whose purposes are to protect the integrity of locally-made Halal products and reinforce the credibility of certifying bodies and local Halal-product manufacturers.

“We cannot assure that a particular product is halal using only eyes or senses,” Laidan said. “Only through testing and analyses in our halal laboratory can we guarantee that products claimed as halal are what they claim to be without contamination or adulteration.”

The global halal market is worth trillions in US dollars, with Halal food alone amounts to $680 billion annually or 76 percent of the world’s food trade.

For now, the laboratory based at the DOST Compound in Cotabato City will cater to corporations or cooperatives seeking Halal certification such as food and beverage manufacturers and producers, food service outlets, caterers, food distributors and suppliers, food importers and exporters, pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical device manufacturers.

“This is the only existing halal laboratory in the country devoted to serving local and international clients,” Laidan said. “Its range of services spans the entire supply chain of halal food and selected non-food.”

While DOST handles the technical aspect of validating compliance of products and services to halal requirements, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) will take care of the religious aspect of validation.

The laboratory offers profiling of fatty acids of animals and plants, as well as DNA analysis of foods and other processed products, gelatin content analysis of milk and other dairy products.

It likewise tests genetically modified organisms (GMOs), analyze alcohol content of beverages and other related products and conduct qualitative detection of haram in meat products, lard in bakery products and in edible oils.

Urban planner urges building audits for disaster preparedness

Philippine Daily Inquirer
By Tessa Salazar

MANILA, Philippines—A quarter of the 2 million structures in urban areas in the country will crumble under a natural disaster such as an earthquake. This grim assessment of principal architect and urban planner Felino A. Palafox Jr. of Palafox Associates was revealed to Inquirer Property. He observed that about 500,000 structures—including residential houses especially in urban poor areas—are vulnerable to the liquefaction phenomenon in the event of a strong earthquake.

Toward safer cities, towns

Inquirer Property has obtained 60 recommendations—more than half of these to address earthquakes—Palafox had sent to the Aquino administration July 7 last year (23 of these recommendations address the problem of flooding). Palafox, who has worked in more than 33 countries, described his recommendations as initial plans and tentative programs toward safer cities, towns and communities. These recommendations include:

Prepare and publish hazard maps for earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruption, tsunami, fire and rising water levels due to climate change and other hazards.

A structural, hydrologic and geologic audit of buildings and infrastructure, particularly those built by the government, like schools, hospitals and bridges.

Learn lessons from countries less prepared for disasters, like Haiti. Learn best practices from advanced countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the United States and other more developed countries in Europe and North America, and update the building and structural codes.

Palafox also told Inquirer Property that the employees of his office, which occupies the 11th floor of one of the buildings on Ayala Avenue, aside having their mobile phones always at hand, have each a bottle of water, a hammer, a flash light and a whistle within arm’s reach at their workplace. The company also has on standby ropes and stretchers for evacuation. He has also recommended that building owners refrain from using fire exits as storage areas. And as a matter of common sense, he stressed, every household member should know where the keys of the padlocked fire exit grills are.

“If Metro Manila and other cities are to be made less vulnerable to disasters than at present, it is necessary not only to make the buildings safer, earthquake resistant, flood proof and fireproof, but also to improve the roads, open spaces and parks that can prevent the spread of fire, while at the same time raise government’s and citizen’s preparedness for disasters in order to minimize the potential loss and damage to life, limb and property,” he said.

The citizens, national government, provincial, city and local government units, municipalities, barangays and private enterprises must fulfill their responsibilities and join the efforts in creating communities less vulnerable to disasters. Public-private partnerships are also needed.

Palafox has also lamented the “analysis paralysis” congress and the government are visibly suffering from.

Long-term plan

His recommendations for the long term include:

Create disaster-proof cities against earthquakes, promote fireproof and earthquake-resistant measures for urban areas and secure open spaces to check the spread of fire and designate evacuation places.

Develop and strengthen urban facilities which can check the spread of fire occurring after a big earthquake, and create safe and comfortable disaster-proof living zones.

Create individual citizen’s awareness for disaster prevention, thereby eliminating some of the factors leading to disaster, while at the same time uniting citizens’ efforts with those of the administration in building up preparedness for disaster, taking into consideration Metro Manila’s and other cities’ daytime and nighttime population.

Secure open spaces, particularly in urban areas such as parks, as they play important roles in disaster prevention and management.

Create disaster-proof living zones. To prevent fire from spreading following an earthquake, divide urban areas into zones of roughly the size of an elementary or high school planning district, by using firebreaks made up of roads, rivers, creeks and canals as boundaries. Consolidate roads, rivers and parks which make up the firebreaks, as well as promote fireproof measures for areas along firebreaks.

Utilize the barangay system and village homeowners associations in order to consolidate public squares or open spaces and minor roads and to improve the area’s living environment and its capacities to fend off disasters.

Palafox also recommended the enhancement of school education for disaster prevention, and the setting up of a system for addressing disasters at the academic level.

The urban planner also urged the government to clearly map out a 10-year plan of programs and projects directly addressing disaster preparedness and management.

DAR exceeds land distribution target

SunStar Davao
February 23, 2011

THE regional office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Davao Region distributed a total of 6,290 hectares of land to 5,727 farmer beneficiaries last year, exceeding its annual target by 14 percent.

DAR-Davao Director Datu Yusoph B. Mama on Tuesday reported land distribution in the region last year was broken down as followed: 1,786 hectares in Davao Norte; 1,539 hectares in Compostela Valley Province; 1,430 hectares in Davao Sur; 1,285 hectares in Davao Oriental; and 250 hectares in Davao City.

Since the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) in 1988, DAR-Davao had already distributed around 235,529 hectares of agricultural lands to about 164,000 farmer beneficiaries, Mama said.

“With the sheer determination of our DAR workforce and full support of concerned government and non-government agencies and organization, from the regional up to the provincial and municipal field offices, we are confident that DAR 11 can finish its land distribution target on or before the end of Carper (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and Reforms) in 2014,” he said.

This year, DAR is committed to distribute 7,354 hectares of land, implement the corresponding support services interventions and resolve long delayed agrarian related cases to hasten rural development and promote lasting peace in the countryside.

Tagum: From rural area to boom city

Inquirer Mindanao
By Frinston Lim
February 19, 2011

CLAD IN a white shirt, shorts and sneakers, the diminutive man stops by one of the barbecue stalls along the clogged Quezon Street in Tagum City, where long tables and smoking grills cluttered the otherwise wide, clean-swept place during an ordinary night.

He waves to the crowd of uniformed students and workers having dinner and many of them call back, inviting. He politely declines.

Some from the crowd call him by his nickname, “Chiong Oy,” and he doesn’t mind at all. There’s really nothing to fuss about being called such, he says. Even if he is Rey Tao Uy, the mayor of Davao del Norte’s capital city, one of Mindanao’s newest bustling urban centers.

“I’m just a simple person. I’m more comfortable at being ordinary,” the 56-year-old businessman-turned-politician says.

Since its first days as a city in 1998, the agriculture graduate has been at the helm of the former marshy municipality that used to be safe haven of communist rebels, and where solvent-sniffing juveniles terrorized residents with crude knives and barbecue sticks.


The transformation of the rural capital into a booming metropolis in just over a decade was largely under Uy’s administration. Making a comeback in 2004 after being defeated by the veteran Boholano Gelacio “Yayong” Gementiza (who would later become governor of Davao del Norte), the Chinese mestizo stamped his own brand of leadership in Tagum.

“A no-nonsense governance and strong political will that shaped what is now Tagum,” according to Ped Velasco, a newspaperman covering Davao region since the 1970s.

“The development of Tagum speaks a lot about who really the man is. If he did not become a mayor and instead chose to continue being a businessman, Tagum wouldn’t look like what it is now, developed,” Velasco says.

He narrates how he used to see the young Chiong Oy back in the days tending the family’s store at the Magugpo (Tagum’s former name) poblacion in what is now Roxas Street. Even back then, he says, Uy was known already for being simple and friendly man.

Uy began his political career in 1988 when he represented the then undivided Davao del Norte’s second district in the provincial board.

At a young age, he was already taught by his parents to be resilient and resourceful—traits which became helpful when he plunged into politics and was elected to govern a city of 200,000 and with scare natural resources, Velasco says.

Politician’s traits

“Manage properly and efficiently whatever you have right now,” the mayor says on how he realized those traits as a politician. “Run your city as if you’re managing an enterprise.”

He calls that kind of leadership as corporate governance. Effective utilization of resources and efficient delivery of services are not just bywords. These are the mantra.

“Since we’re not blessed with rich natural resources like gold or tourist spots compared to our neighboring local government units (LGUs) like Compostela Valley or Davao City, what we do is we create situations in such a way that businesses could thrive,” Uy says. The same concept, he adds, serves as the driving force behind the progress of the small state of Singapore.

The city government under Uy sees to it that projects and programs are effectively and efficiently implemented. All infrastructure projects are being done by administration to eliminate corruption.

The city’s equipment and facilities are properly managed and well-maintained. Raw materials for concreting and other road projects are produced by the city’s asphalt mixing plant, thereby reducing considerably the cost of road and drainage projects.

The city also offers its equipment and services to other LGUs like Davao City, providing additional revenues to the city coffers. Tong-pats (grease money to contractors) and shakedowns are a no-no.

“We saved so much (government money) by eliminating corruption,” he says.

Strategic location

Being at the center of two intersecting national roads, Tagum’s strategic location attracts an influx of visitors virtually all times of the year. The Pan-Philippine Highway cuts through the city from north to south while the Davao-Mati road snakes to its west.

With this, Uy says he sees to it the city has enough good facilities to cater to the demands of visitors so to attract investments and revenue.

Millions of pesos were invested to the city’s drainage system to arrest the perennial flooding that used to hit the city proper during rainy months.

Adding to come-ons to local and foreign tourists is a slew of festivals (an average of 14 a year), showcasing the city’s rich culture, tradition and, of course, delicious fruits.

The city is also known of its improved peace and order situation. The place, in most parts, has been spared from bombings, kidnappings and other terror attacks plaguing other cities in Mindanao.