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Farm Business School in Caibiran, Biliran
Chief Agrarian Reform Program Officer Francisco Diloy (center), Provincial Agriculturist Jaime Casas (to his right) and Daisy Monreal (to his left) cut the ceremonial ribbon at the proposed demo farm to signify the launching of the Farm Business School in Caibiran, Biliran.

Farm Business School launched in Biliran

July 28, 2017

CAIBIRAN, Biliran – Not even a bad weather nor a 6.5 magnitude earthquake, could stop the more than 30 farmer-members of three agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) from attending the launching of the first farm business school (FBS) established by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in this province, a day after a strong tremor was felt in Eastern Visayas.

Chief Agrarian Reform Program Office Engr. Francisco Diloy explained that FBS is a season-long training with emphasis on marketing of farmers’ products. For this training, a demo farm will be established at the NAMACA Farm in Barangay Maurang in this town for the application of what the participants will learn, Diloy said.

Participants, according to him, will be obliged to attend 25 sessions that may last for six months. It’s just like attending a regular school. But in this case, DAR brings the school near to the farmers, he added.

FBS is in collaboration with the provincial and municipal agriculture offices, the local government unit and the interested ARBOs.

Provincial Agriculturist Jaime Casas disclosed that among the topics he will discuss in one of the sessions is “Good Agricultural Practices”.

Though farmers here are already producers of various crops, DAR still invited the East-West Seed Philippines to provide input on vegetable production to enhance farming methods in the area.

Thelma Verutiao and Norma Verunque, both members of the Nagkakaisang Magsasaka ng Caibiran (NAMACA) Multi-Purpose Cooperative just brought with them their pre-school daughters to the said occasion as they were interested to learn how they could increase their income.

Verutiao disclosed that they are already producing okra and onions in their yard, but stressed that for their own consumption only. She added that she is interested to learn how they could earn from their garden for additional household income.

Other participants are members of the Bunga Agrarian Reform Cooperative and the Kapatagan Agrarian Reform Cooperative, based in adjacent towns, Cabucgayan and Culaba, respectively.

Lecturers from the DAR, provincial and municipal agriculture offices, East-West Seed Philippines and the farmer-participants agreed to meet every Friday for the sessions.

Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer (MARPO) Noel Salloman said they are expecting more participants when they start the first session, as according to those present, some failed to attend due to the strong quake experienced throughout the region.





Lumad students and teachers file complaint on attacks vs. schools

July 28, 2017

QUEZON CITY – On July 28, Lumad students and their volunteer teachers from Mindanao filed their complaints on attacks against schools at the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). They also raised concerns following Pres. Rodrigo Duterte's remarks after his State of the Nation Address that he would bomb Lumad schools based on reports that the school are allegedly operating "illegally".

The Joint Monitoring Committee is comprised of the joint secretariats of the Government of the Republic Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who are tasked to receive, notify and probe reports of human rights and IHL violations.

Rius Valle, spokesperson of Save Our Schools Mindanao, a network assisting the Lumad students and teachers in filing complaints, said “it is lamentable that the Duterte administration continues to encourage such brazen violation of the Lumad children’s right to education, instead of supporting the indigenous people’s initiatives to provide free and progressive education to their communities.”

One of the complaints filed at the JMC is the indiscriminate firing of the paramilitary Alamara on teachers and students of the Salugpongan 'Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. This took place on June 20 when Alamara member Rodel “Ang-angoy” Butanlog fired indiscriminately at the Salugpongan school in Sitio Nasilaban, Brgy. Palma Gil. Butanlog was angry that teachers and students reported his threat to burn all Salugpongan schools. One student was slightly grazed by a bullet, when Butanlog fired at the school thrice, while 60 students and three teachers were left traumatized.

On July 25, four Alamara members repeated the same threats of burning Salugpongan schools this time in schools in Sitio Dulyan, Brgy. Palma Gil, still in Talaingod. The Alamara members were demanding the whereabouts of Parents-Teachers and Community Association (PTCA) Benacio Dalin, Benjo Bay-go and Nonoy Dawsay and one student Lando Lalin. The Alamara said they intend to kill at least of these persons. This forced teachers to suspend the classes.

Valle called on the GRP Negotiating Panel and Pres. Duterte to stop the attacks against schools and respect the right to education of the Lumad children. “We call on them to pursue the formal peace talks with the NDFP to address the growing number of CARHRIHL violations and the substantial agenda on social and economic reforms, which should consider the indigenous people’s right to free education and to self-determination.

Human rights group Karapatan also assisted in the filing of said complaints. Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Jigs Clamor said that “militarization in schools is being justified by the Department of Education memorandum 221 series of 2013 which allows military occupation and operations in schools.”

"This is already bad enough. We are more worried that with martial law in Mindanao, State security forces will be emboldened to commit further human rights violations and war crimes," Clamor said.





Full launch of PNTR set on August 1

PNTR portal

July 28, 2017

MAKATI CITY – The Philippine National Trade Repository (PNTR) which is a web-based portal that provides a single source of comprehensive, accurate and updated trade information will finally be launched on August 1, 2017. Its establishment is an important component of the government’s trade facilitation strategy. A more transparent trade environment will allow business easier access to information and facilitate their compliance with prescribed regulations. The ultimate effect will be to reduce the amount of time and costs in trade transactions.

The launching will be participated in by the Trade Regulatory Government Agencies (TRGAs), representatives from the private sector and selected importers accredited by the Department of Agriculture.

Expected to grace the event are the EXECOM Members of the Department of Trade and Industry, headed by the Undersecretary of the Industry Development and Trade Policy Group, Dr. Ceferino S. Rodolfo who will provide the keynote speech on behalf of DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

Dr. Cielito F. Habito, Chief of Party of the USAID- Trade Project is among the guest speakers, together with Mr. Walter Van Hattum, Head of Economic and Trade Section, EU Delegation to the Philippines.

One of the highlights of the event is the MOA signing between the Tariff Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry- Bureau of Import Services. The PNTR’s seamless commodity search function became possible because of the wholehearted cooperation of Chairperson Marilou P. Mendoza of the Tariff Commission. The first three elements of the PNTR, the Tariff Nomenclature, the MFN tariffs and the Rules of Origin are linked to the Enhanced Philippine Tariff Finder (EPTF) of the Tariff Commission.

The formal launching of the PNTR portal will be presented by Mr. Roberto Galang of the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector arm. Through support from the Government of Canada, the project team led by Mr. Terence Chapman provided significant enhancements to the portal, in particular on the element of the Non-Tariff Measures and commodity search function.

Atty. Luis M. Catibayan, the PNTR Secretariat Head enjoins everyone to visit the PNTR portal at The PNTR is expected to benefit our stakeholders primarily Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as the regulations and procedures administered and enforced by various government agencies are made readily accessible thru the internet.

Atty. Catibayan further stressed that the PNTR makes the regulations transparent and contributes to the ease of doing business. The PNTR’s link to the ASEAN Trade Repository will allow MSMEs who are into exports to have accurate and updated information, including regulatory requirements for the movement of goods to and among ASEAN member states, thereby facilitating greater access to the ASEAN market.

For inquiries about the PNTR portal, please send email at or visit:





FMR provides access to nearby markets

Brgy. Gajo Farm to Market Road

July 27, 2017

CALBAYOG CITY – The concreting of the Farm to Market Road (FMR) of Brgy. Gajo to Brgy. Cinco helps villages to get their produce to the market faster and cheaper.

The 4.00 kilometers stretch of concrete pavement with an appropriation of P50 million starts in Brgy. Gajo, Sta. Margarita, Samar located southwest from the poblacion. The road project passes two barangays in between Brgys. Gajo and Cinco.

In these communities where the primary source of livelihood is farming, the concrete road is a welcome respite from the inconvenience of traveling to the poblacion and back. Not so long ago, farmers had to travel to and from the nearest town by foot or “habalhabal” (a single motorcycle transporting people and goods.) They spend P50 to P100 per sack of goods they needed to transport.

“We had to walk or travel for three and a half hours along slippery and muddy dirt road” explains Benny Moñal, a farmer from Brgy. Cinco. The poor road access had been a problem of the residents for a long time. Now that the FMR is completed, he is proud to showcase the new road in their barangay.

The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture and implemented by DPWH Samar First District Engineering Office under the government convergence program.

Farmers have better opportunities ahead of them now. The hauling cost of agricultural products and other goods has been reduced by thirty percent (30%). Families in these barangay also have more access to health centers and schools.





DPWH Samar I allocates P50M road project for farmer’s benefit

P50M Samar road project

July 27, 2017

CALBAYOG CITY – Samar First District Engineering programmed P50 million under GAA CY 2017 for the realization of road construction from Brgy. Curry to Brgy. Avelino which promises a livelier economic activity to localities that produce abaca, various root crops and coconut products.

Located in the hinterlands of the Municipality of Sta. Margarita, Samar, the project covers concreting of 2.2 kilometers of road which also includes installation of drainage and slope protection and grouted riprap. From a three (3) hours travel time from Brgy. Curry to Brgy. Avelino, it is anticipated to be significantly reduced to less than an hour. This will surely benefit almost a hundred of families traversing the route and boost the farm-to-market productivity.

It is under contract with Victoria Development and Supply Corporation and as of June 25, 2017 it has already reach an accomplishment of 35%. The dirt road which used to be hiked by the farmers and residents going to and fro the said barangays will soon be fully concreted and is expected to offer easier, faster and more convenient travel and transport of agricultural products.






Construction of Road and Drainage in Brgy. Lambao.
Construction of Road and Drainage in Brgy. Lambao, Sta. Margarita, Samar.

SFDEO hastens road and drainage project in 7 barangays

July 27, 2017

CALBAYOG CITY – DPWH Samar First District Engineering Office, Calbayog fast tracks its construction/rehabilitation of roads and drainage projects in seven barangays within the Municipality of Sta. Margarita amounting to P150 million. These projects are funded under GAA 2016.

Constructed ahead of the rainy season, the projects located in Brgys. Lambao, Palale, Cagsumje, Monbon, Balud, Cautod and Napuro are measures undertaken to remove water from the road and its surroundings and control the rise of water table whenever heavy rainfall occurs.

Scope of works includes PCC pavement and one (1) single barrel RCBC with apron and wingwall, drainage, grouted riprap and one flood control structure.

According to the Project Engineers, the focus is on the low-lying areas in Sta. Margarita that have been experiencing damages due to flooding. This has been the usual scenario during continuous downpour since rainwater easily accumulates in these low-lying sections in the barangays.

The 6.08 kilometers stretch of road with drainage structures will solve flooding as more than thousands of residents affected by the sudden rise of water cannot contain their gratitude especially now that rainy season has set in.

A certain Jun Caberte in Brgy. Palale, intimated that the widened drainage structure can hold volume of garbage to declog the water channel. He expressed concern for the other barangays experiencing flooding and even recommended to the DPWH to construct the same.

As of this writing out of seven (7) road and drainage projects, four (4) projects are completed while three (3) projects are ongoing with a revised expiry date of August 16, 2017.

District Engineer Alvin A. Ignacio intends to fast track these projects as soon as possible to minimize the impact of heavy rainfall experienced by the locality every now and then.






64th Commemoration of the Armistice signing
From L-R: Brittany Odes, Cora Silva-Odes, PhilConGen Deputy Consul Romulo V.M. Israel Jr., Rose San Diego, Vietnamese Naval & Army veterans, Stacy Baca WLS-7 News Anchor/Reporter (back), Kieugiang Do, Elan Dinh, Nguyet Ly Bich, Tam Nguyen.

Filipino Community helps honor Korean War veterans

July 27, 2017

Chicago, IL. – On Saturday, July 22, 2017, an event to honor Korean War veterans, acknowledging the 64th year since the signing of the Armistice agreement of July 27, 1953 was about to convene. Of approximately twenty-one countries came to the direct support of the Republic of Korea, only sixteen countries contributed combat troops.

The Republic of Korea Consulate Chicago, Consul General Jong-Kook Lee was presented a ceremonial gift of the Republic of Korea flag on behalf of the entire Filipino Community, this small token represented our ongoing support and unification not just in Chicago, but worldwide.

Presenting was Deputy Consul Romulo V.M. Israel, Jr of the Philippine Consulate General Chicago and members of the Chicago Nightingales organization. The Republic of Korea flag was then hoisted up the flagstaff and flown to honor all foreign countries who had answered the call of the United Nations in 1950, during the three year conflict.

Keynote speaker was ROK ConGen Lee, who expressed his countries appreciation to all who had come to the aid of the ROK during the conflict that began June 25, 1950.

Deputy Consul Israel elaborated on some important facts during that era included the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr as being a very young teenage correspondent, reporting news on the Korean conflict to include covering our Philippine troops on the battlefield.

Also mentioned was of another young Filipino, Fidel Ramos, a recent graduate of the US Army’s West Point Academy, he was commissioned a rank of junior grade Lieutenant. After serving in the Korean War and retiring with the rank of General, then later elected President of the Philippines.

The Chicago Nightingales lead in the singing of the National Anthem and closed the event program with the singing of “God Bless America.” As members of the Filipino community and nurses’ organization, we felt privileged and honored to share our proud culture to the friendly smiles and many handshakes by the veterans, and by both the Korean and Vietnamese communities.

Today, July 27, we continue our long standing friendship with the Republic of Korea on this 64th Commemoration of the Armistice signing.





Cuy to LGUs: Enact ordinances declaring danger areas as "no build zones"

Press Release
July 26, 2017

QUEZON CITY – To ensure that danger areas previously cleared of illegal occupants will not be retaken by informal settlers, Interior and Local Government Secretary Officer-in-Charge Catalino S. Cuy is urging local government units (LGUs) to enact ordinances declaring said areas as "no build zones".

No build zones refer to easement areas defined under existing laws and policies that are not recommended for human habitation by virtue of the danger it poses to human life and/or property.

Cuy made the call as he noted there had been inaction or complacency among certain LGUs despite numerous guidelines issued by the Department on matters of informal settler families and the LGUs role.

“Unless LGUs declare no build zones, ISFs will always be a huge concern and this will be an unending cycle of demolition, clearing, and relocation,” he says.

In the DILG’s recently issued directive, Cuy called on cities and municipalities to ensure that cleared territories remain uninhabited and unoccupied by enacting ordinances barring any construction of residential establishments in said areas.

All barangays were also directed to adopt the city or municipal ordinances regarding danger areas or enact their own barangay ordinance considering that most informal residences live in the barangays.

“Allowing or tolerating informal settlers to build along ‘no build zones’ is a violation of the people’s right to a balanced and healthful ecology,” he stresses.

According to Cuy, “to allow informal settlements along railroad tracks, sidewalks or roads, or in garbage dumps, landfills, public cemeteries, or in parks and playgrounds is an utter disregard to public safety and an affront to human decency.”

To further protect and monitor these areas, he says, cities and municipalities should work with their component barangays in protecting and regularly monitoring said areas by putting up outposts, fences, signage, and/or CCTV cameras.

Section 30 of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) specifically states that LGUs must prevent the construction of any kind of illegal dwelling units or structures within their respective areas of jurisdiction or face administrative and penal sanctions.

In the case of new ISFs occupying danger areas, the barangay shall issue a notice to be signed by the punong barangay enjoining them to vacate the property within 24 hours.

After the lapse of the period to vacate, the barangay, with the assistance of the police, shall dismantle the structure whether or not the ISF has voluntarily vacated the area.

The Department encourages the concerned city or municipality to use its power to prosecute professional squatters or members of squatting syndicates, and any individual or group who will occupy or cause any other person to occupy cleared areas.





Calbayog-Allen road section closed to traffic due to landslide

Calbayog-Allen road landslide

July 26, 2017

CALBAYOG CITY – Continuous heavy rains over the weekend weaken the soil surface on the mountainous sides along national road in the Calbayog-Allen Road Section, causing landslide including a rockslide as well. The road stretch from k0691+200-k0691+320 and k0691+130-k0691+200 all in Brgy. Caglanipao approximately 138 meters long was covered with almost 15,000 cubic meters of soil and rocks rendering the road unpassable.

The landslide happened on the evening of July 23, 2017, Sunday covering the road in Brgy. Caglanipao with a passing truck pushed to the other side of the highway as mounds of dirt, rocks and mud came rushing through.

Ongoing clearing operations are already undertaken in the vicinity since the very next day the disaster occurred. Meanwhile, DPWH Samar I installed barricades, warning signs and traffic advisory to warn the public of the condition of the road. Assisting DPWH Samar I in the area are DPWH Northern Samar I, bringing dump truck and backhoe, and contractors who lent their equipments like Aremar, ECI, Acme and B. Vicencio Constructions.

The hardwork of the group paid off when at around 9:00 in the evening of July 25, 2017, Tuesday, vehicles were already allowed to pass through. But even so, the work is not done yet as the other lane of the road is still covered with debris of dirt and the mountainous side is still unstable. To compromise with the traveler’s plea but not lessen the progress of clearing out the highway, Engr. Romy M. Gumban, Chief of Equipment Management Division of Region VIII, suggested that vehicles would be allowed to pass through for an hour every 2 hours. At least this way, the community’s day to day life will not be hampered that much.

It is good to note moreover that fieldworkers vow to restore traffic fully on the two lanes this week since good weather conditions prevails in the locality. However, District Engineer Alvin A. Ignacio warns the public of the danger of falling rocks and soil anytime. Motorists should be cautious as they pass along the landslide/ rockslide prone areas.



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