Category Archives: news and current events

DTI releases P26M for SMEs

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Region 12 has distributed around P26 million worth of machinery and equipment this year to help improve the operations and competitiveness of various enterprises in the region.

Blaan weavers will hopefully improve their still crude abaca spindling method with the help of DTI.FOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Blaan weavers will hopefully improve their still crude abaca spindling method with the help of DTI.FOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

Ibrahim Guiamadel, DTI Region 12 director, said Monday the initiative is part of the continuing implementation in the region of the agency’s flagship Shared Service Facility (SSF) Project.

He said they released the machineries and equipment in the form of project grants to 54 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) based in parts of the region.

Also known as Soccsksargen, Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“The grants were aimed to improve their products and enhance their market competitiveness,” Guimadel said in a statement.

The official said the DTI central office had allotted a total of P54.2 million for 83 SSF project grants in the region this year.

SSF was launched by the DTI to assist the expansion and address the development needs of MSMEs in the country.

Guiamadel said the initiative aims to help local MSMEs produce more products of better quality and at a lesser production cost.

In Region 12, the priority industry clusters that are covered by SSF program are abaca, bamboo, coconut coir, processed fish, processed food, wearables and homestyles, cacao, coffee and rubber.

The units are provided for free to the beneficiaries but will remain the property of the DTI for six years upon their awarding or release, he said.

He said their ownership would be transferred to the beneficiary after the prescribed period by way of donation or sale.

Among the project’s major accomplishments in the region this year was the establishment of a mechanized milking facility in Malungon town in Sarangani in partnership with a local dairy cooperative.

Guiamadel said they released last October two units of portable cow milking machines to the Malalag Cogon Bangkal Dairy Farmers Cooperative to expand and enhance its operations.

He said the automatic milking machines were the first for the cooperative since it started producing fresh cow’s milk about three years ago.

Two weeks ago, Guiamadel said they also turned over four units of abaca spindle stripping machines to a group of weavers based in Barangay Lamlahak in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

He said the machines will mainly improve the quality of abaca fibers that are used in making the province’s popular T’nalak fabric.

The shift from manual to mechanized mode hastens the processes involved in the production of T’nalak by 50 percent, he said.(AE)

Gensan is low-risk in climate change impacts

By IAN JOHN M. LAGARE

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Gensan attained a vulnerability score of 5.75 in the recent Business Risk Assessment and the Management of Climate Change Impacts conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the BPI Foundation, Inc. this 2014.

Jose Ma. Lorenzo “Lory” Tan, CEO and vice chair of the WWF Philippines, bared the vulnerability score of General Santos City Wednesday at the Greenleaf Hotel recently.

Mayor Ronnel Rivera (middle) and the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. indicated that they will work hand-in-hand to make the city livable and economically active even amidst the issue of climate change. At extreme right is Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, CEO/vice chair of WWF. (Gensan CPIO/ Russell Delvo)
Mayor Ronnel Rivera (middle) and the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. indicated that they will work hand-in-hand to make the city livable and economically active even amidst the issue of climate change. At extreme right is Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, CEO/vice chair of WWF. (Gensan CPIO/ Russell Delvo)

Tan said the score was culled in terms of climate change impacts and compared to the other 15 cities which participated in the study.

General Santos, among the 16 cities included in the research, has the second lowest vulnerability score, following the city of Angeles which scored 5.56.

Baguio, has the highest risk score (7.43) because of its geographical location and susceptibility to landslides, floods, and other extreme weather effects.

Other cities are Laoag (5.80), Dagupan (6.91), Iloilo (6.69), Puerto Princesa (5.89), Batangas (5.65), Zamboanga (6.32), Santiago (6.04), Naga (6.10), Cebu (6.55), Tacloban (6.74), Cagayan (6.68), and Butuan (6.03).

Vulnerability scores were generated from 20-year historical city-level data on climate exposure, socio-economic drivers, and adaptive capacities.

Multi-stakeholder Scenario Building Exercises with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC), City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), and City Economic Management and Cooperative Development Office also contributed to the scores.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera, who was present in the event, was happy with the result but at the same time aware that the report by the WWF and BPI is a warning that the local government unit of General Santos City and other stakeholders should take heed.

Tan advised Mayor Rivera, as well as the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. that they should extrapolate and develop sustainable plans that would make the city “climate change adaptive”.

“Gensan is a strategic and beautiful city. Investors and people swarm in here because of the resources and amenities the city can offer and this could either be a good or bad news for you, depending on how you deal with this fact,” Tan said.

The CEO said that since Gensan is in a good state in terms of its business climate and topography, people from its neighboring provinces would flock in to the city. This could jeopardize the city’s resources if not managed well.

Tan also cited the possible sustainable avenues the city can integrate for the climate change, considering the results of their study.

Among these are the multi-transit system, alternate sources of potable water, improvement of drainage system, pavement of roads and alternate routes, and the development of agricultural sector.

Mayor Rivera thanked the WWF and BPI for their study and assured the rest of the stakeholders that the local government is taking the issue into account.

The first step the mayor has made is to incorporate the outputs of the study to the City Land Use Plan with the help of CDRRMC and CPDO. (Gensan CPIO/ Ian John M. Lagare)

DSWD-12 sends relief aid to Ruby-hit provinces

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12 has dispatched an initial 15,000 family food packs to areas affected by typhoon “Ruby” in Eastern Visayas and the neighboring areas.

Bonifacio Selma, DSDWD Region 12 acting operations division chief, said Monday the relief goods are now in transit and are expected to arrive in the typhoon-hit areas within the next two to three days.

“(The food packs) will be delivered to our units in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) to augment the ongoing relief operations there,” he said in an interview over local television show Magandang Umaga South Central Mindanao.

Selma said the food packs were part of the assistance prepared by the DSWD-12 in anticipation of the onslaught of typhoon “Ruby,” which made its first landfall on Saturday night in Eastern Samar.
Each standard family food pack contains six kilograms of ice, eight sachets of coffee, eight packs of instant noodles and six canned goods comprising three sardines and three corned beef.

The relief packs are meant address the immediate food needs of a family of five for two to three days.

Selma said their offices and units within the region are currently accepting relief donations from residents, local government units and private entities.(AE)

Updated CLUP indicates risk-prone barangays

By IAN JOHN M. LAGARE

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government is now preparing the City’s Land Use Plan (CLUP) as an added adaptive measure to mitigate disaster risks.

Nael Cruspero of the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) and Dr. Bong Dacera of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) presented to City Mayor Ronnel Rivera on November 26 several maps that indicated different projections for the city’s land use.

City Planning and Development Office head Nael Cruspero (seated left) conferring with City  Legal Officer Armand Clarin (middle) and City Administrator Arnel Zapatos during a committee hearing at the Sangguniang Panlungsod.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
City Planning and Development Office head Nael Cruspero (seated left) conferring with City Legal Officer Armand Clarin (middle) and City Administrator Arnel Zapatos during a committee hearing at the Sangguniang Panlungsod.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

Among these are the Population Density Map, Critical Point Facilities Map, Agriculture and Fisheries Exposure Map, Built-Up Exposure Map, and the General Hazard Map.

According to Dr. Dacera, the current update of the CLUP is in the coordination with the CDRRMC to create more disaster-resilient communities in the city.

“This CLUP is also necessary for us to orient the future investors on where they will put up their establishments, as well as in helping to strategically place them so that they will be close to their support facilities,” Dacera said.

Cruspero also told the mayor that they will conduct a series of consultations with the identified risk-prone barangays, especially those near the coastal lines so that they can discuss to these communities their status and possible preventive response.

Mayor Rivera lauded the update of CLUP and expressed to Cruspero and Dacera that he will give the necessary support for whatever programs that will come out as a result of the full study. (Gensan CPIO/ Ian John M. Lagare)

Gensan fish catch on pace to break 2013 total

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Total volume of fish catch in General Santos in November went down slightly compared to October, according to the data released by the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) here.

But overall catch for 2014 has already exceeded last year’s total landings.

Philippine yellowfin tuna are sought after in upscale Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Philippine yellowfin tuna are sought after in upscale Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

With the December catch still to be added, the 180,035.54 metric ton partial total fish landed at the General Santos City Fishing Port Complex this year has already exceeded the 2013 total catch of 167,578.75 metric tons.

More than 80 percent of total fish landings in General Santos City are yellow-fin tuna and tuna-like species.

A total of 15,363.81 metric tons of yellowfin tuna and tuna-like specie were landed at the General Santos City Fishing Port Complex, down from the October total catch of 16,807.44 metric tons.

Counting all fish species, the total fish landing for the month of November also went down to 16,618.29 metric tons from 18,139.17 tons.

Frozen tuna continue to grow as 59.4 percent of the total landings came from foreign as well as Manila-based suppliers.

Foreign vessels unloaded a total of 8,646.39 metric tons at the General Santos City fish port complex.

The remaining 480.4 tons came from Manila-based frozen tuna suppliers.

Total tuna catch this year is on pace to a 6-year high.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Total tuna catch this year is on pace to a 6-year record high.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

The Pocket 1 High Seas are closed to tuna fishing every August and September of the year.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director Asis Perez had earlier said Philippine tuna catch will likely increase as more Filipino fishing boats have already returned to the Pocket I High Seas following the 2012 tragedy where more than 372 Filipinos were caught in the eye of Super Typhoon Pablo (Bopha).

Of the 372 Filipino fishermen from General Santos city who were caught in a perfect storm in the high seas ion December 2012, only 18 bodies were recovered.

The rest remain missing and are presumed dead by now.

General Santos is acknowledged as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines.

Six of the country’s 7 operating tuna canning plants are located in the city with over 20,000 workers directly employed by the industry.

Over the last 5 years, total volume of tuna catch has been on the rise following a steep decline in tuna catches in the early 2000s.

This prompted the WCPFC to institute measures to arrest the decline of stocks in the tuna-rich fishing grounds of western and central Pacific Ocean.

Among the measures are 3-month ban on FAD fishing in 2 pockets of high seas in the Pacific Ocean and strict vessel monitoring.

The Philippines was granted exemption in Pocket 1 High Seas in 2011 and started sending catching vessels to the area before Pablo struck in 2012.

Filipino tuna fishing operators resumed operating in the area last year.

Killer AIDS claims 9 in SoCot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY —  South Cotabato health officials said 9 people have died in the province this year due to complications triggered by the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

John Codilla, focal person for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/AIDS of the South Cotabato of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Tuesday the 9 victims were among the 53 new HIV/AIDS cases that were diagnosed from January to September this year.

HIV-AIDS cases have been on the rise both in South Cotabato and General Santos City.
HIV-AIDS cases have been on the rise both in South Cotabato and General Santos City.

He said the 9 deaths all involved males who were already suffering from full-blown AIDS and the late stages of the disease when they submitted themselves to testing.

“By the time their results came out, it was too late for them to undergo treatment as the disease already progressed to the end stages,” he said in a media forum in Koronadal City.

Three deaths were recorded in Sto. Nino town; 2 each in Koronadal City and Polomolok town; and, one each in Tantangan and Surallah towns.

The victims died of severe complications of “opportunistic infections” or diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia and Kaposi’s sarcoma, which is a cancer that develops from the cells that line the lymph or blood vessels.

Of the 53 new cases, Codilla said 13 were already full-blown AIDS while 40 were asymptomatic HIV.

He said most of these cases were detected by the IPHO’s HIV screening and testing center based in Koronadal City later confirmed by the Department of Health’s Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STD)/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL) in Manila.

A total of 48 cases involved males, 11 of whom were former Overseas Filipino Workers, he said.

Codilla said 25 of the new HIV/AIDS victims were aged 25 to 34 years-old and 16 were within the 15 to 24 years-old age range.

He said the youngest victim was aged 15 years-old and among the latest cases involved two male students of a university in Koronadal City.

“There has been an increasing trend in terms of (HIV/AIDS) infection among young professionals or those within the productive ages,” he said.

With the detection of the 53 new HIV/AIDS, Codilla said the province’s disease incidence now stands at a total of 194.

He said 184 of these cases were only recorded from 2010 up to the present.

“So far, we’ve been detecting an average of one case every week and we receive inquiries for screening and testing on a daily basis,” he said.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., IPHO chief, attributed the rise in confirmed HIV/AIDS cases in the province to the increasing awareness among various vulnerable sectors.

“Our current rate of HIV/AIDS detection is quite alarming but were also looking at it as a positive sign that our awareness campaigns and calls for voluntary testing have been gaining ground,” he said.

He said they consider the 194 confirmed cases in the province as just the “tip of the ice berg.”

“We expect to detect more cases in the coming months as more people are now aware of it and submitting themselves to testing,” he said.

In nearby General Santos City, health officials said there are already 171 people infected with the life-threatening human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), four of them acquired through mother and child transmission.(AE)

 

 

Tropical storm Hagupit reminds of Pablo

A gathering storm in the Pacific is threatening to become the second strongest typhoon to hit Mindanao after the devastating Super Typhoon Pablo made landfall exactly 2 years ago.

On December 3, 2012, super typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) hit landfall creating a path of destruction that left more than 1,000 killed and hundreds missing, including at least 372 fishermen from General Santos City.

US meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said the Philippines should brace for the gathering storm in the Pacific.PHOTO COURTESY OF AccuWeather.com
US meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said the Philippines should brace for the gathering storm in the Pacific.PHOTO COURTESY OF AccuWeather.com

Tropical storm ‘Hagupit’ was spotted 3,000 kilometers southeast of Mindanao and was packing a maximum sustained wind of 175 kilometers per hour.

It could however increase in strength as it heads towards land.

Hagupit is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility Friday or Saturday.

Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.com said, “Residents of the Philippines are being put on alert for possible severe dangers from strengthening Hagupit.”

Weather forecasters Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) however said there is a slim chance the cyclone, to be named “Ruby” once it enters the PAR, will make landfall.

Pagasa’s weather trajectory suggests the storm could head north, skipping landfall in the Philippines.

There is however a possibility that it will hit the northern portion of Mindanao.

Weather forecasters are now closely monitoring Hagupit’s development.

Mindanao had been hit by a succession of typhoons beginning 2011 when the late season Typhoon Sendong (Washi) packed in strong winds and heavy rains killing more than 1,000 people- mostly in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.

It was followed by Pablo in 2012 and the island barely escaped Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) which killed more than 9,000 people in eastern Visayas.

Workers in Region 12 get P5 hike in daily wage starting January

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Workers in Region 12 will receive an additional P5 increase in their daily wages starting January 1 next year, bringing the area’s floor pay to P275.

Ofelia Domingo, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 12 director, said the pay increase represents the P5 additional cost-of-living allowance (COLA) that was set in Wage Order No. RB XII-18 that took effect last August 1.

She said workers in the region received a P10 to P14 increase in their basic minimum wage upon the effectivity of Wage Order No. RB XII-18, with the integration of the COLA provided for in the previous wage order.

A P5-increase in will all the workers get bringing the minimum daily wage in Region 12 to P275 beginning January 2015.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
A P5-increase will all the workers get bringing the minimum daily wage in Region 12 to P275 beginning January 2015.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

“Starting January 1, the daily minimum wage will increase to P275.  We’re currently intensifying our monitoring activities to ensure its full compliance in the entire region,” she said in a press conference.

Also known as Soccsksargen, Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB), which is chaired by Domingo, endorsed the new wage order in June following a series of public consultations.

The board said the new minimum wage rates apply to all minimum wage earners in the region regardless of position, designation or status, and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid.

It noted that the new wage order reduced the number of minimum wage levels in the region from five to three, with workers in the non-agriculture receiving a daily pay of P275, agriculture with P257 and retail/service establishments with P255.

The RTWPB-12 has exempted from the new wage order all establishments that have total assets of less than P3 million, are not registered as Barangay Micro Business Enterprises, distressed establishments and those adversely affected by calamities such as natural and human-induced disasters, it said.

Domingo said they have assigned teams to conduct regular compliance visits in various business establishments and employers regarding the new wage order.

She said they were also mandating employers to properly pay the due benefits and incentives or bonuses of their workers, especially the 13th month pay.

“There are really establishments that have not been complying with the new wage rates but we’re closely monitoring them,” she said.

Aside from the minimum wage violations, she said they monitored a number of employers who were properly providing the mandated benefits of their workers like the overtime pays.

Domingo said that in the month of November, they have issued two compliance orders against two business establishments for payments of due salaries and benefits to their workers that are worth P3 to P4 million.

She said the issuance of compliance orders are among the legal remedies that the agency may use against erring employers.

If the employers would ignore the compliance orders, she said the DOLE regional office may issue writ of execution and garnishment orders for their assets later on.
“We also have the option to file criminal charges against our erring employers but we try to avoid that route. Our approach is developmental and we look into various alternatives to resolve these problems but not at the expense of our workers,” she added.(AE)

Sarangani to host Paragliding Accuracy World Cup opening leg in March 2015

They never expect it to come sooner.

But next year, the Philippines will host one of the 6 international legs of Paragliding Accuracy World Cup (PGAWC) with Sarangani serving as site of the growing international aerial sports.

Sarangani earlier hosted the first Philippine International Paragliding Accuracy Competition in October in which Taiwan’s Luis Liu of Taiwan came from behind to narrowly edge Yoshiki Oka of Japan and capture the individual title.

Department of Tourism regional director Nelly Nita Dillera said they welcome the decision of PGAWC to award the Philippines as host of one of the World Cup legs.

Sarangani will host the opening leg of the 2015 PGAWC in March next year.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Sarangani will host the opening leg of the 2015 PGAWC in March next year.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

“This only proves that our paragliding site is world-class. We are very excited to host the World Cup,” Dillera said.

Dillera said the event will be held on March 27 to 29 next and wills serve as the opening leg of the 2015 World Cup.

She added that they will enroll the international competition in the DOT’s ‘Visit Philippines 2015’ tourism campaign.

“At least 30 countries will be represented in the event. The number could swell into 50,” according to the DOT regional director.

ASAP however has lower figures in the possible number of country participants – from a low of 13 to a high of 15 countries.

Best fly site in the country
With 300 days of flying opportunities throughout the year, Sarangani is becoming a popular destination for paraglide pilots and enthusiasts.

“Wind consistency and directions are major factors in considering the fly site,” Randell Raymundo said.

Raymundo is the president of Air Sports Adventure Philippines (ASAP) which organized the 2st Philippine IPAC event October.

He described the fly site in Barangay Siguil in Maasim as “almost perfect.”

Raymundo earlier said teh Philippines could host a World Cup event in 2016 but the recent decision of PGAWC will boost the standing of the Philippines as premier paragliding destination.

The takeoff site is located in a mountain top some 1,000 meters above sea level offering a full picturesque view of Sarangani Bay with a wide but tricky landing site some 700 meters below.(Organizers has correct the heights – they are 1,000 and 700 feet respectively)

International pilots who joined the October IPAC event said the flying course is so far the best in the Philippines and could rival other paragliding sites in the world.

Luke Armbreuster from the US who was the tournament’s safety officer said the fly site is one of the best he has seen in the country.

“The landing area is a little bit tricky because of the unpredictable wind direction but it is okay,” the American said.

Sarangani Gov. Steve Solon who supported the IPAC event said next year’s World Cup leg will again put the province in the international map as one of Mindanao’s best tourism destinations.

SoCot rushes infra projects to boost tourism

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The provincial government of South Cotabato is pushing for the completion of its ongoing tourism development projects in the next two years in a bid to enhance the area’s thriving tourism sector.

Lake Sebu is South Cotabato's premier tourist attraction.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO
Lake Sebu is South Cotabato’s premier tourist attraction.PHOTO BY EDWIN ESPEJO

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said the local government is pouring in additional investments next year to include opening of new tourism circuits, access roads and related facilities.

She cited the ongoing construction of the P120 million circumferential road that will connect the famed seven waterfalls of Lake Sebu town.

The project, which is funded by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), is due for completion next year.

TIEZA opened last October the bidding for the concreting component of the road project, which was aimed to improve access to the seven falls and other tourism areas in Lake Sebu.

Fuentes said they are currently finalizing the plans for the development of the canopy walk and installation of cable cars along the seven waterfalls as well as the opening of the lakeshore boulevard in Lake Sebu.

She said they are also working on the operationalization of the Lake Lahit tourism facility and the opening of the small-scale mining leg in T’boli town, fruit park in Tupi town, and the biodiversity corridor of Tampakan and Tupi towns.

“We will also open next year additional facilities at our improved Productivity and Technology Center (Protech),” she said.

The Protech Center, which is located in Koronadal City, hosts a “pasalubong center” and a trading area for various local products.

Fuentes said these initiatives are all aimed to attract more tourists to the province.

The local government recorded nearly 300,000 tourist arrivals from January to September and it expects the figures to further increase until yearend.

Anna Liza Mondejar, tourism officer of the province’s arts, culture, tourism, sports and museum promotions unit, said the province’s tourist arrivals reached a total of 293,727 during the first three quarters of the year.

She said the total domestic tourists or visitors reached 291,515 while the foreigners totaled 2,212.

Tourists who opted for overnight stay in the area reached 169,781, of whom 682 were foreigners.

For the same day visitors or excursionists, those from the province reached 110,264 while visitors from other areas reached 12,162. Foreign visitors reached 1,520.

Lake Sebu, the province’s banner tourism site, was the most visited area, followed by the tarsier sanctuary in Barangay Linan in Tupi, Mt. Matutum in Polomolok, Lake Holon and Mt. Melebingoy in T’boli.(AE)