Largest mangrove forest pushed as tourist site in E. Samar

TACLOBAN: The local government unit of Arteche, Eastern Samar is pushing for the development of an ecotourism site that would boast the largest mangrove forest in the province.

Mayor Roland Evardone said Friday the municipal government has already asked the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to fund the construction of a boardwalk within the 169-hectare mangrove area in the coastal village of Beri.

The budget requirement is PHP20 million, he told Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.

Evardone said TIEZA has yet to respond to the request.

‘Part of the project is to declare some parts of the mangrove forest as protected areas for different marine species. This is in support of our coastal resource management plan,’ he said.

Evardone said the mangrove forest in Beri is the largest mangrove forest in Eastern Samar and a natural habitat for different flora and fauna.

Mangrove forests also provide natural infrastructure and protection to nearby populated areas by preventing er
osion and absorbing storm surge impacts during extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes or typhoons.

Arteche is a third-class town with a 58.66 percent poverty incidence. The town has 16,320 population as of 2020.

Source: Philippines News Agency

DSWD backs move to abolish senior citizen purchase booklets

MANILA: The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Friday said it fully supports the call of two lawmakers to abolish the senior citizen’s purchase slip booklet following numerous complaints coming from the elderly.

Secretary Rex Gatchalian said in a news release the DSWD will take the lead in reaching out to the Department of Health (DOH) and other concerned agencies on the proposal of ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo and Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo.

DSWD Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Romel Lopez said the department, in previous years, had received various concerns and complaints through various means of communication, relative to the senior citizen discounts.

Gatchalian directed the agency’s Program Management Bureau (PMB) to make a study and recommendation regarding the senior citizen purchase slip booklet which has been the subject of a congressional inquiry.

DSWD-PMB’s position paper dated Feb. 1, 2024 recommended to Gatchalian the abolition of the purchase slip
booklet, as a requirement for the purchase of medicines by senior citizens.

The DSWD-PMB recommended the adoption of digitized records for the senior citizens, ‘considering the mobility and tendency to forget to bring their booklets and even read their content, it is no longer convenient on the part of senior citizens to use purchase slip booklets.’

‘With the fast-paced technology and innovations, it is recommended to adopt an established system for monitoring, storing, and reporting data towards an efficient, consistent, and uniform implementation of the law and provisions for the availment of medicines, basic necessities, and prime commodities, among others,’ the PMB said in its position paper.

The PMB maintained that in this digitalization, the concerned agencies such as the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC), Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH)
, Bureau of Internal revenue (BIR), and the Department of Justice (DO)J, and representation from non-government organizations(NGOs), shall partner with members of the private sector offering services to senior citizens.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Negros hospital hosts PH’s 1st LGU-owned family planning training hub

BACOLOD: The Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital (TLJPH) in Negros Occidental launched on Friday the operations of its family planning training center (FPTC).

The Silay City-based healthcare facility, which is the first provincial hospital in the Philippines to host an FPTC, is carrying out the program in partnership with the Department of Health, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said that through its establishment, the province will be able to develop and capacitate both new and existing primary care providers in line with the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.

‘What we are launching today is the first LGU (local government unit)-owned FPTC in the country in TLJPH,’ Lacson said during the ceremonial launch held at the Capitol Social Hall here.

He was joined by Dr. Girlie Pinongan, provincial health officer; and Dr. Mary Ann Maestral, chief of hospital of TLJPH; Dr. Marc
Franco Leong, training team head; and Dr. Laurentiu Stan, chief of party for USAID’s ReachHealth project in the Philippines.

Stan said that in the past year, the project has put efforts towards supporting the UHC implementation and along with it, the strengthening of family planning and adolescent reproductive health programs in Negros Occidental.

Specifically under family planning, the USAID supported the establishment of the training center at the TLJPH through plan development, orientations, project management and collaborative discussions.

Also, they provided support for the capacity-building of health providers from all 31 LGUs as trainers for the community health workers’ taskshifting course.

‘We hope to continue to provide our support across the planned activities this upcoming year,’ Stan said, particularly in the functionalization of the FPTC by assisting in the conduct of training for health services programs across the province and related activities.

The establishment of the FPTC, with its pr
ovincial training network, is a major strategy adopted by the province to sustainably address continuing needs for family planning training through the building of local training capacities.

The network consists of 15 preceptor facilities or field training areas, 18 trainers and 18 preceptors for trainings in family-planning competency-based training (FBCBT) Level 1 and long-acting family planning methods.

Training courses offered are for FBCBT-1, progestin-only subdermal implant insertion, removal and replacement, postpartum and interval intrauterine device (IUD) insertion and removal, and no scalpel vasectomy.

Source: Philippines News Agency

107 ‘severely wasted’ Albay learners to benefit from feeding program

ANISLAG: At least 107 ‘severely wasted’ secondary students from Anislag National High School (ANHS) in Daraga, Albay will benefit from a four-month-long feeding program that will start this month.

In an interview on Friday, Hela Rezalie M. Nimo, ANHS program coordinator, said the Augmenting School Performance Indicators as Result of Education (ASPIRE) – Feeding for Learning program aims to improve the nutritional status and educational performance in numeracy and literacy skills of the beneficiaries.

‘From Monday to Thursday, the recipients from grades 7 to 12 will receive nutritional snacks during recess. We don’t want them to feel that they are ‘different’ that’s why a specific classroom turned into ASPIRE Cafe will be used by the students,’ Nimo said.

The beneficiaries are from 10 barangays of Daraga that are enrolled at the ANHS.

She said the funding for the program was made possible through a partnership between Ang Probinsiyano Party-List and ANHS, which included improvements to the room to be used,
and enhancements to the quality and variety of the meals to be served.

She said the ANHS is very thankful to Ang Probinsiyano Party-List headed by Rep. Alfred Delos Santos for the support and dedication to improving the area.

‘In providing the students with a more enjoyable and satisfying place to dine, hindi nila ramdam na nasa feeding program lang sila (they don’t feel that they are in a feeding program),” Nimo said.

In a separate interview, Ang Probinsiyano Party-List national coordinator Alfred Nimo said they are supporting projects that will provide quality life to every probinsiyano (provincial folk) in the country.

“This is one of our projects in combating malnutrition. This is unique since this is for secondary students. The government is already allocating programs and funds for elementary students, that’s why we also augmented funds for this project,” he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Gov’t vows to strengthen media freedom, security

MANILA: The government has vowed to strengthen media freedom and security through the allocation of necessary resources.

In a media forum on Friday, Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Executive Director Undersecretary Paul Gutierrez said visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan, in her exit conference with key government officials, offered suggestions to enhance programs and mechanisms safeguarding human rights, with focus on freedom of opinion and expression.

‘These suggestions will be thoroughly evaluated and considered for implementation, serving as a foundation for transformative measures,’ he said. ‘While the government is open to reforms, it points out the difficulties in fully grasping the local nuances within a brief ten-day visit.’

He said further discussions and collaborative efforts between the government and Khan are planned.

During the exit conference, Gutierrez said Khan commended the “resilience and dynamism” of the nation’s civil society organizations and gover
nment agencies for their detailed briefings and insights.

She also highlighted several positive developments, such as the renewal of peace negotiations, the release of Senator Leila de Lima and Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa, and the active participation of a robust civil society.

‘The government reaffirms its dedication to balancing the rights to association and expression with the fundamental right to life, highlighting the challenges of navigating security and freedom with sensitivity and complexity,’ Gutierrez said.

Khan started her official ten-day visit to the country on Jan. 23, 2024.

She engaged with 24 government agencies and met with over 10 members of the House of Representatives and seven members of the Supreme Court to understand the nation’s nuances and appreciate its multi-pronged efforts in promoting and safeguarding freedom of opinion and expression.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Clark airport wants to double passenger volume to 4M in 2024

MANILA: The Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) targets to double the passenger volume at the Clark International Airport this year to 4 million, its president and chief executive officer Arrey Perez said Friday.

In a press briefing for the Philippines’ debut at the 2024 Singapore Airshow in Taguig City, Perez remained optimistic for CIAC’s outlook this year after Clark airport nearly hit the 2-million mark for passenger volume in 2023.

Perez said the introduction of new domestic and international routes at the Clark airport will drive the growth in passenger volume this year.

He said the Clark airport will be opening 13 new destinations within the year including Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Coron, Davao, General Santos, Iloilo and Puerto Princesa for domestic flights, and Bangkok, Cheongju, Hong Kong, Macau, Narita and Taipei for international flights.

‘We’re continually expanding the operations of the Clark International Airport. The terminal building has a capacity of 8 million passengers per annum. T
he capacity we set now for this year is 4 million,’ Perez said.

He added the recovery from the pandemic and the aggressive plans for tourism will fuel the passenger traffic at the Clark airport.

Aside from attracting passenger airlines, CIAC also sees expansion of more cargo operators and new players in logistics to locate in Clark.

Source: Philippines News Agency