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RP needs 41 years to lick poverty

October 22, 2004

MANILA, Philippines -  At the rate the economy and the country's population are growing, poverty in the Philippines can be licked only by 2045 at the earliest, according to a study presented at the Ninth National Convention on Statistics.

"For a potential growth rate of real income per capita of 1 percent a year, which is consistent with the medium-tem performance of the Philippine economy [of a growth of 3 percent with a population growth rate of 2 percent, which effectively is a growth per capita of 1 percent], the average time taken to exit poverty would be 41.2 years if this growth were continuous and uniform across the population," said Jose Ramon G. Albert and Paula Monina Collado of the Statistical Research and Training Center.

The two research staff based their findings on simulations detailed in a recent paper titled "Profile and Determinants of Poverty in the Philippines."

The 41-year timetable the authors laid down, however, may be considered as the best case scenario for poverty eradication in the country, as the problem may persist well beyond 2045 considering that the benefits from previous economic growth episodes accrued more to the rich.

"[Poverty eradication] is clearly an unrealistic scenario because growth is often skewed toward the higher income brackets, and even more rarely continuous, yet this simulation provides rather meaningful information at the extent of work that needs to be done," the study said.

The authors noted that poverty in the country "is largely a rural phenomenon," with seven in every 10 poor Filipinos residing in the countryside.

"The poverty rate in rural areas is almost three times higher than it is in urban areas," they said, adding, "Nearly half of all persons living in rural areas are poor [as compared to a poverty rate of nearly one in five persons in urban areas]."

"The overwhelming numerical importance of the rural poor means that poverty programs must be concentrated in improving the plight of peoples' living standards in rural areas and that we ought to promote policies on rural development, which include support for rural entrepreneurial activities and rural competitiveness, as well as enabling the improvement of farmers' access to markets through infrastructure development and the creation of farmers' markets in the cities [to ensure that less middle men reap the fruits of farmers' labors]," they said.

Earlier, the Social Weather Stations disclosed that 15.1 percent of Filipino household heads it polled said their families had nothing to eat on more than one occasion in the last three months.

This, the SWS said, was triple the number of Filipinos that went hungry the previous year.





OFWs face educational equivalency problems in Canada

OFW Journalism Consortium, Inc.
October 6, 2004

TORONTO, Canada - Filipino medical professionals, caregivers and engineers who look to this North American country for work face the problem of having their educational attainment in the Philippines certified by Canadian professional associations.

According to leaders of Filipino organizations and officials at the Philippine Consulate in Toronto, the problem is that graduates of Philippine schools lack the number of years required by the Canadian educational system to earn a degree and to be allowed to practice as skilled professionals.

"Not too many Filipinos could come to Canada as professionals and work in the fields they were trained in (back home)," said Rosalinda Javier, president of the Filipino Community Center. The difficulty, she said, lies in educational equivalency.

One year less of kindergarten, elementary education. The Canadian educational system has eight years of kindergarten and elementary education, four years in secondary education, and four-to-five years of university studies depending on the academic degree being pursued, for a total of 16 to 17 years. The Philippines, on the other hand, has seven years of kindergarten and elementary education, four years of secondary education, and four-to-five years university studies for a total of 15-to-16 years of schooling--or one to two years short of the Canadian requirement.

In addition, the educational system in Canada is handled by Canada's different provinces. The province of Ontario, where Toronto falls under, abides by the Canadian national system of 16-to-17 years of schooling. Rosario Manasan, a Filipina who works for the Canadian nonprofit group Catholic Community Services of York Region (CCSYR), said that since Canada's primary and secondary education span a total of 12 years, as compared to the Philippines' ten, "(Canadian authorities) will tell you to take up high school for one or two more years".

The educational equivalency problem is something that foreign nationals, except those who come from the Commonwealth states, must face in Canada, says Toronto Consul-General Alejandro Mosquera.

No work, no license certification

Javier said that since Canadian authorities count the number of years in school and since foreign nationals like Filipinos have less number of schooling years, not only can these nationals not be admitted for work, neither can their licenses, in the case of some professions, be certified. According to Javier, Filipino nurses, doctors and engineers are forced to take on other jobs because of the educational equivalency problem. She cited the example of a couple, both engineering graduates of the University of the Philippines, who have not been able to take the first step in applying for a license with Ontario's professional association for engineers. "Quite a few of the caregivers and nannies are nurses. After they have finished their contracts as caregivers and nannies, they can be nurses. At the Filipino Community Center, we have an ultra-sound technician who is a doctor," Javier said.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Officer (POLO) in Toronto, Rolando Olalia, whose office handles this problem with Canadian officials, said nurses he has dealt with complain that much of what the Canadians teach they have already taken up in the Philippines.

Certifying the degrees that Filipinos earned back home is another challenge, says Manasan. He said that the provinces in Canada have professional associations, known as "colleges," that regulate the professions much like the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) regulates the professions in the Philippines.

22 regulated professions, 22 colleges

There are 22 regulated professions and corresponding colleges in Ontario, Manasan said. Foreign professionals must get the approval of the college concerned, after which they are given slots that are open every year. Javier, who has been involved in advocacy efforts to allow Filipino professionals to be certified for employment, said that the most difficult colleges to deal with are the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario (CPSO), the Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO).

These organizations, she said, "hold the key regarding the equivalency issue and providing certifications to foreigners in their respective professions". The most difficult of these colleges is the CPSO. According to its website, the CPSO requires international medical graduates (IMG) to "have all the Canadian postgraduate qualifications required for an Independent Practice certificate. The College does not recognize any non-Canadian alternatives to these qualifications."

Doctors must hold a postgraduate education certificate, which is renewed annually and held during postgraduate medical training at an Ontario medical school. This certificate, the CPSO website says, "is obtained after graduation with a medical degree from an accredited medical school in North America or an acceptable medical school outside of North America".

There are terms, conditions and limitations to the certificate. "The holder may practice medicine only as required by the postgraduate program and only in clinical teaching units or settings affiliated with a postgraduate program, and may not charge fees for services," the CPSO website says. Foreigners must pass the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE), and the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exam (MCCQE).

Entry-point program for IMGs

The CPSO has created an entry-point program called IMG-Ontario so that foreigners can gain access to the qualifications for independent practice. IMG - Ontario, says the CPSO website, "accepts applications from IMGs and selects candidates based on the outcomes of various objective screening measures and criteria".

Selected IMGs are then offered positions in residency programs in Ontario or in pre-residency clerkships. These programs lead to certification for the College of Family Physicians in Canada (CFPC) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and, ultimately, to eligibility for an independent practice certificate of registration from the College.

The Filipino consulate in Toronto says there are 239,160 Filipino immigrants and non-permanent residents in Canada (232,670 of whom are immigrants); 121,855 of them reside within Ontario (119,215 of whom are immigrants). Among Ontario's 12 cities, Toronto has the highest concentration of Filipino immigrants and non-permanent residents with 105,340. There are 189,365 Filipinos in the whole of Canada with jobs, 59,095 of whom are in sales and services; 36,220 are in business, finance and administration; 24,645 are in jobs unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities; 21,145 are in health occupations; 14,635 are in trade, transport and equipment operations; 11,857 are in the natural and applies sciences professions; 8,850 are into management jobs; 6,510 are in social science, education, government services and Church-related jobs; 2,765 are in the arts, culture, recreation and sports; and 840 are in jobs unique to the primary industry.

For the province of Ontario, where there are 95,470 Filipinos with jobs, the top four jobs classifications are: sales and services (25,950); business, finance and administration (21,845); processing, manufacturing and utilities (12,340); and health (9,865). Caregivers are part of sales and services.

Javier said Filipino organizations and the consulate hold dialogues and lobby with important officials in Ontario, such as the Ministry of Education. But even if the Filipino worker has gained the necessary certification from the Canadian professional association, there is still the employment problem. Said Javier: "It is true that you must have connections here in Canada. For doctors, no newcomer knows a hospital here." While officials of the Consulate say that there are opportunities in Canada, Toronto consul Oscar Torres warns that it is not easy for Filipinos to land jobs here commensurate to their professional qualifications.





Samar 1st Dist. LGUs budge towards solving flood problem

September 27, 2004

CATBALOGAN, Samar     - Local government units of the towns of Gandara, San Jorge, Tarangnan and Pagsanghan, all in the First Congressional District of Western Samar have started taking initial steps towards arresting further destruction by flood waters that inundate yearly for over 40 years now some 6,576 hectares of ricelands that are covered by the government’s comprehensive agrarian reform program.

The moves came in the heels of initiatives taken by personnel of the Department of Agrarian Reform upon instructions by regional director Tiburcio A. Morales Jr. to whom the annual problem was presented during his monthly consultative meeting here with non-government organizations, people’s organizations and the media.

Director Morales clarified, however, that the DAR’s response is only a way of helping the provincial government, hence the DAR is only validating claims concerning the flood phenomenon through verification of actual areas flooded, crops damaged, and number of agrarian reform farmer-beneficiaries actually left victims by the flood, and coordination with mayors and other local government offices concerned.

Initial data reaching the DAR provincial office in Catbalogan show that some 3,055 CARP beneficiaries in these four towns are affected, excluding those who are agricultural lessees. The flooded areas reported also exclude those cultivated by small land owners, and those falling under the jurisdiction of the Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Center (RIARC) at barrio Sapinit in San Jorge.

Within this week, more barangay resolutions seeking the assistance of the provincial government and national government agencies concerned, such as the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Agriculture, and National Irrigation Administration are expected to be passed by the affected barangays.

Initiatives in Pagsanghan

Municipal agrarian reform officer Dana Urbano reported to the DAR provincial office here that the local government of Pagsanghan, which is under mayor Violeto H. Ceracas, had decided recently to concentrate on Buenos Aires and San Luis as these are the only two barrios where flood subsides after several days or much longer than in other flooded areas. She said that the mayor’s office had informed her that rice crops in these two barrios succumb also to saline water which hastens death to the crops.

Last September 6, the Sangguniang Bayan of Pagsanghan, in a regular session presided by vice-mayor Alberto V. Mara and attended by all the SB members, including Association of Barangay Captains president  Florencio S. Repol and Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president Jerica B. Tan, passed Resolution No. 08  which was approved on the same date by mayor Ceracas.

The resolution is requesting the DAR, as lead agency in the implementation of the CARP, as well as the Office of the President, the provincial government of Samar and other government agencies concerned “for assistance in the control of perennial floods in our barangays.”

The SB said that “farmers perennially affected by floods have urged the Sangguniang Bayan of Pagsanghan, Samar to intercede in their behalf for a solution to the flood problem that has affected their lives and their families, due to destruction of agricultural crops, resulting to high incidence of poverty” and that solving the problem “will ensure the attainment of high crop productivity output as well as increased income of farm families in the different barangays.”

In the same resolution, the Pagsanghan SB said that “it is possible to control these perennial floods through dredging (of) the end portion of Gandara River leading to the Samar Sea, as well as the construction of a drainage canal linking the Bangon River and the Pajo-Sapinit River.”

Earlier, 31 farmers in Buenos Aires, tilling an aggregate area of 43 hectares said in an undated petition that the construction of an open canal that will link the Bangon Gote River and the Pajo River (both in Tarangnan town) is “the only alternative way to control flood in our area”. They said they observed that fishponds constructed near the mouth of the Gandara River (at Pagsanghan), as well as the accumulated siltation there serve as a bottleneck that constricts the flow of flood water, thereby resulting to submersion of our crops for a number of days.”

The sanggunians of barangays Buenos Aires and San Luis, respectively,  passed on Sept. 1 Resolution No. 016 and on Sept. 6 Resolution No. 07  which are similarly stated as that of the municipal council’s.

Mayor Grey’s Moves

San Jorge mayor Joseph V. Grey personally discussed the flood problem, and what his town needs to at least reduce its effects, to Samar vice-governor Jesus B. Redaja whom he joined at the latter’s table during the recent induction of officers and new members of the Catbalogan Cable Television Media Advocate Nucleus (CCATMAN). He said that he had previously sought assistance from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

In the ensuing press conference during the same program, mayor Grey said that vice-governor Redaja had assured to look into the matter right in San Jorge.

He also revealed that days earlier, he had asked some sangguniang bayan members to act on the same problem.

Much earlier, shortly after he assumed his seat as mayor, Grey personally led arrests of illegal cutters of forest trees in his own town, in a bid to also save the forests and mountains of San Jorge to thus prevent the occurrence of floods and erosion.

Last August 30, the council of barangay Bulao unanimously approved a still undated resolution which also requests the DAR to help set up a flood control system.

4 Years Ago in Gandara

Meanwhile, Pilar V. Delector, SB secretary of Gandara, furnished the town’s MARO, Al Catorce, with a certified copy of the Gandara SB’s Resolution No. 31 which was approved unanimously on July 4, 2000, requesting then Senator Ramon Revilla for financial assistance for the construction of a drainage canal from barangay Pologon to barangay Ngoso, an area which also encloses three other barangays - Hinogacan, San Agustin and Diaz - and comprises about 200 hectares of rice paddies cultivated by small farmers.

That resolution pointed out that these barangays  “easily get flooded even only (after) about a day of heavy rainfall because of (their) geographic situation, with lowlands and several creeks that easily overflow” and that “palay seedlings go to wastage,” thus, farmers incur in “more losses than gains, and as a consequence, they could not rise above of being marginal farmers”  and that their capital will “always be submerged in flooded paddies, not unless a drainage canal will be constructed in these areas.”

Some 2,912 hectares of lands distributed to 1,398 CARP beneficiaries through 554 land titles, either emancipation patents (EPs) or certificates of land ownership award (CLOA), reportedly go under water for a long period of time after a heavy rainfall.

First Shot from Tarangnan

On July 30, 2004, Pajo became the first barangay in Tarangnan, and in the whole affected area in the First District of Samar, to have cried out for help about the flood, the biggest occurrence of which started in 1960, according to some old villagers, after the Pajo Agri-Developers Association (PADA), through its chairman Nonito Berdida and vice-chairman Benito P. Mabajen, requested assistance from the DAR and the local media.

The barangay council, upon call by punong barangay Judy A. Gabriela, passed a resolution (no. 04) requesting Secretary Victor Domingo, Presidential Assistant on Poverty Alleviation, for fund assistance for the construction of an open canal, because Pajo’s internal revenue allotment (IRA) of P336,700 is not enough even to pay for the labor cost and for miscellaneous expenses.

PADA, on the other hand, addressed its resolution no. 1 to the DAR, stating that the flood water gets stocked “for many days”, washing away their palay, and thus deprive farmers of a harvest.





Teener's early sex triggers RP's baby boom

September 14, 2004

CEBU CITY    - Mitch admits beginning to have sex at age 14. Now 19, she is a single mother to a child whose father she herself is unsure who.

In previous generations she would be a shocking rarity. Not in her own, as borne out by studies of the Commission on Population.

In fact, says Bruce Ragas, the commission's chief for administrative services for Central Visayas, Mitch's home region, 3.8 million of today's teenagers have had sex, at least 23% the highest percentage in the entire nation, after Metro Manila. The average age of initiation is around 17, and, notes Ragas, that's sex done unprotected from pregnancy.

Teenaged mothers account for one of every 10 births in the region, and, definitely, Ragas says, it is the early head start at sex that leads to 25% of its women already becoming mothers at age 20 and 50% becoming mothers twice or thrice over at age 24.

Taken farther and wider, the phenomenon doubtless goes from early sex to early pregnancy to a fair contribution to over population.

Former Department of Health undersecretary Mario S. Taguiwalo revealed that the current population growth rate of 2.34%, the Philippine population of 76.5 million in 2000 will double in 2039.

Taguiwalo said the fast population growth rate has outspaced the country's economic development straining the increasingly scarce resources.

The country's gross domestic product (the total goods and services produce in a given period) in 2000 is similar to the 1980 level. "We have been running in place for 20 years," Taguiwalo said.

The looming fiscal crises has triggered calls to reign in the high population growth rate. But the government's lack of political will and its failure to act decisively has blocked efforts to comprehensively address the problem.

Taguiwalo said the population policies under the Arroyo administration, like the refusal to fund the purchase of contraceptives, have been reversed previous efforts to address the crisis

The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, which is opposed to modern or artificial contraceptive methods, has greatly influenced the policies of the government including the current administration, the experts said.

They consider this among the biggest stumbling block even in just implementing long-existing laws and programs.

Dr. Mercedes Conception, board of director of the Philippine Center for Population and Development (PCPD) said the high population growth rate should not be seen by government as just one of the problems that must be solved because it cuts across all other social problems like traffic congestion, environmental pollution, and lack of social services.

She said there is a pressing need to unite the broadest sectors possible to create a groundswell that would force government to wake up from its own complacency, face the problem squarely and implement the necessary policies, more specifically on the alarming trend of early pregnancy among the youths nowadays.




8ID undertakes Army Literacy Patrol System

September 10, 2004

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar    – One of the major setbacks in the history of education in Region 8 is clearly manifested by the fact that many of the populace particularly those living in the far-flung areas cannot read or write. Most of them cannot even distinguish a letter from number.

This is one factor to be considered why insurgency never seen to end. Some of these people can easily be persuaded by some elements operating against the government and are pondering on the small knowledge that local populace have. With this problem on hand, a program called the Army Literacy Patrol System (ALPS) aimed at helping the people in the remote places was developed.

The ALPS is a military program aimed at teaching the less fortunate folks on the basics of reading and writing. It is designed to give free education to those who were not able to attain any elementary or grade school lessons. In support to this, the soldiers were deployed as soldier-teachers.

In 1995, the opening of ALPS classes unfolded in Western Samar. The program were participated by ALPS students from the different barangays like Hampton, Granada and Barrruz all in the town of Matuguinao. The program is continuously conducted such that in 2002, the 8ID ALPS garnered the 2nd Place during the National Literacy Conference and Awards Night held at the Montevista, Hotspring in Calamba, Laguna. The year 2003 has been another fruitful year, the ALPS has added another milestone to the history of the 8th Infantry Division, bagging one of the most coveted awards as an Outstanding Literacy Program in a conference held at the Leyte Park, Tacloban City on September 3-5, 2003. As such aid conference was to identity diversity and other socio-cultural contexts that affect learning and knowledge acquisition.

It is not the award though that matters most. For such kind of organization, they are but ordinary. However, what made this different was that the program in one way or another has been bridging the gap and capturing the heart of the people. The ALPS is a concrete empowering instrument at the grassroots. It showed the sincerity of the government in helping those who have been deprived of their right to learn. It also significant the undying desire of the 8th Infantry Division where it gained not only the recognition but was one of the 16 finalist out of 90 competing countries in a UNESCO contest for “International Peace Award in Education”

The solicited views and perspectives then will provide insights for evolving strategies in delivering education for indigenous of the country, and to serve as a venue for sharing experiences in implementing functional literacy programs.

Since 1996 to date, the 8th Infantry Division has conducted a total of 70 ALPS classes in the whole region with graduates numbering 2,089. 3 Brigades and 9 battalions under the command of MGen. Glenn J. Rabonza, the Army’s fight against illiteracy in the region will surely go on until its desired results of totally eradicating illiteracy in achieved.

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