P-Noy likens El Verde to Edsa I

Praises Camarinenses for greening project

SUPPORT FOR EL VERDE - President Benigno S. Aquino III signs his name on a plastic pot containing a seedling during the launching of El Verde 12 Million Trees by 2012 project of CamSurGovernor Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. in Sto. Niño, Pili, Camarines Sur Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. Also in photo are Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Governor Villafuerte. (JAY MORALES)

By ED G. YU

OCAMPO, Camarines Sur, Feb. 23 (PNA) —  Drawing from the triumphs of unity and heroism of the Filipino people during the original Edsa People Power Revolution 25 years ago where thousands of people rallied to oust a dictatorial regime, President Benigno C. Aquino III urged  every Filipino to once again unite and  contribute in providing solutions to the problems of global warming  by planting trees and saving the environment.

President Aquino made the call on Tuesday, Feb. 22, during the launch at Barangay Sto. Nino here of El Verde Movement, a greening project of the provincial government of Camarines Sur that aims to plant 12 million trees by 2012.

Saying that the adverse effects of global warming cannot be solved by the government  alone,  the President lauded the efforts of the people of Camarines Sur led by Governor LRayVillafuerte in spearheading the massive tree planting program to help save Mother Nature.

The President thanked the participants of El Verde for showing the same unity and heroism that was displayed by the people in Edsa I. “There is no doubt as to the success of El Verde 12 million trees by 2012,” he said.

President Aquino said El Verde is comparable to the triumph of Edsa. The 500,000 tree seedlings that will be planted will bear fruits equal to 500,000 opportunities, not only to save the environment but also to sow the seeds of a better future for many Filipinos.

Aside from preventing floods and landslides, the trees that will be planted could also be the source of livelihood for the people, the President said.

After his short speech, President Aquino signed the plastic pot containing a seedling as proof of his commitment and support to Camsur’s El Verde Movement.

The country’s Chief Executive also led the ceremonial planting of the 500,000 trees that will be planted in one hour on Wednesday, Feb. 23 all over the province by some 10,000 residents coming from 1,036 barangays in CamSur’s 35 towns and two cities.

Governor Villafuerte in his speech informed President Aquino that the El Verde Movement  combines biodiversity conservation, economic development and a climate change adaptation strategy to help reverse the rate of deforestation in CamSur.

We want to teach our people the importance of saving the environment and how they can help as active stakeholders, Villafuerte said.

A first of its kind in the country, the  El Verde Movement is open to all families living in CamSur. Each participating family will be given an area to plant trees and they will be required to maintain a minimum of 2,500 trees for two years.

In return, the CamSur provincial government will give the participating family food packs and free educational subsidy for elementary and high school students. The members of the family will also be enrolled in the PhilHealth Indigency Program.

El Verde is also open to corporate sponsors that want to support the movement by giving donations, which will correspond to the number of trees they want to be planted.

Trees under El Verde Movement will be planted in rainforest, riverbanks, mangrove and beaches, and urban or populated areas.

With President Aquino during the El Verde Movement launching were: DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo, DENR Sec. Ramon Paje, DA Sec. Proceso Alcala, DAR Sec. Virgiliodelos Reyes, and Sec. Cesar Sarino.

P-Noy graces groundbreaking of Naga’s Freedom Obelisk

FREEDOM OBELISK - President Benigno S. Aquino III lowers the time capsule for the Obelisk of Freedom in Naga City on Feb. 22. The stone pillar will symbolize the city’s contribution to the restoration of democracy during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship leading to the installation of former President Corazon C. Aquino. The triangular obelisk will be topped by a dove representing the Naguenos’ universal yearning for peace, freedom and justice while the yellow ribbon symbolizes democracy. With the President are Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Naga City Vice Mayor Gabriel Bordado Jr. ( BENHUR ARCAYAN)

NAGA  CITY —   Despite the short notice of  President Benigno S. Aquino III’s arrival, Nagueños in the thousands flocked to the city center on Tuesday (Feb. 22) morning  to catch a glimpse of the country’s Chief Executive during his first official visit to this city.

Arriving by private plane shortly before 9 a.m. at the Naga Airport, President Aquino was accompanied by DILG Sec. Jesse M. Robredo, DA Sec. Proceso Alcala, and DENR Sec. Ramon Paje.

Minus blaring sirens and a speeding convoy, President Aquino’s short drive to Naga took 20 minutes. Speaking before a yellow-clad crowd composed of community leaders, students, city government employees, and ordinary Nagueños, the President  expressed delight over Mayor John Bongat and city officials’ plan to erect a Freedom Obelisk as a lasting symbol of Naga’s continuous quest for peace, freedom, and justice.

Mayor Bongat, who is currently in Australia as an official delegate of the Philippine Center for Young Leaders in Government, was in constant communication with city officials who organized the groundbreaking ceremonies.

While on his official trip to Australia, Bongat also wrote a formal letter addressed to President Aquino, thanking him for his presence in Naga and assuring the president of the presence of People Power in the Nagueños’ lives as well as in governance.

The Freedom Obelisk is set to be erected on the former site of a billboard structure beside the Plaza Quezon. Preparations for the groundbreaking ceremony went well into the night, with crews from the City Engineers’ Office and organizers from the City Mayor’s Office coordinating closely with the Presidential Management Staff.

In the concept paper prepared by Vice Mayor Gabriel Bordado Jr. and City Planning and Development Officer Wilfredo Prilles, Jr., the obelisk “will be a multipurpose structure that addresses educational needs of society, both past and present” through the depiction of Nagueño and Bicolano heroism.

The concrete base will feature bas reliefs that portray at least three important historical events in Naga’s rich history: 1) the struggle of the Arejola brothers during the Philippine-American War, 2) the successful yet short-lived liberation of Naga by TancongVaca guerrilla forces during World War II, and 3) the strong political opposition of Naga to Martial Law and the strong participation of its people during the EDSA Revolution.

“People Power is not merely about the commemoration of those fateful February days 25 years ago when unarmed citizens overthrew a dictator. People Power resides in the hearts, minds, and actions of all Filipinos and Nagueños and it is the driving force behind the great actions that we do in governance and in our daily lives,”  Bongat said.

DENR set to launch greening program

FRAGADA

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol is slated to launch a massive reforestation project this year in line with the National Greening Program (NGP), which is espoused by President Aquino as part of his priority program to fight global warming and climate change.

DENR Bicol Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada put emphasis on the convergence approach to be used in the implementation of the NGP, seeking the efforts of local government units, students from private and public schools starting from Grade IV to college, other government agencies and tenure holders under various DENR programs and projects.

“We see a successful implementation of the NGP in Bicol through the active participation of various stakeholders” Fragada said. He said the NGP in Bicol will be highlighted by the El Verde Movement adopted by Camarines Sur Governor Luis RaymundVillafuerte, which will be launched on February 23, 2011, at Sto. Niño, Pili.

Fragada commended Villafuerte’s initiative to plant 12 million trees in a span of two years, which further fortifies the goal of the NGP to reforest at least 1.5 million hectares of open denuded areas through social mobilization.

“With this impressive showing of multi-stakeholders support by the El Verde Movement, the DENR hopes a replication of sort will eventually be gleaned from other provinces” he said.

Further, Fragada said the DENR will provide technical assistance to the El Verde Movement, which as of press time, a special order is being made to assign technical staff for the monitoring and evaluation of the trees planted to assure high survival rate.

Earlier, Fragada instructed the Forest Management Service, Ecosystem Research Development Service and all the field offices to produce at least a million of high quality seedlings and identify areas for the NGP.

The NGP’s national goal is to plant 125 million seedlings, which from the total projected output, 60 percent will be agroforestry, 30 percent forest trees and 10 percent urban greening. According to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje the greening project is at minimal cost to the government while resulting to a better projected carbon sequestration in a span of 10 years.

Moreover, the NGP marks this year’s celebration of the International Year of Forests as declared by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.

SC backs ‘El Verde’

CamSur’s “El Verde” program initiated by Governor LRayVillafuerte continues to reap widespread support from various sectors as it gears up to set into motion a grand launch on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011.

The latest to register support to the project is no less than the High Court in the country by encouraging its members and the offices and employees under them to participate and plant trees in support of El Verde movement.

In a nutshell, the program “El Verde” aims to plant at least 12M trees by year 2012.

The official launching on the 23rd will involve the mobilization of some 10,000 residents from the 1036 barangays of 35 towns and 2 cities of the province to plant fruit-bearing and commercial trees at the rate of 500,000 in an hour.

For its part, the Camarines Sur Judges Association will charter at least three buses to provide transportation for its employees who will take part in the planting activity. Meanwhile, those who will participate are allowed to use their official office hours for the endeavor.

Gov. LRay said the judges association has allocated a hectare of land in Sto. Niño, Pili, Camarines Sur for them to plant trees, which they will nurture for the next two  years to ensure that it would survive and continue to grow into sturdy trees in the future. –FERNANDEZ

UNEP execs attend Singapore confab

CSC MEDIA CONFAB - From left Ms. Celeste P. Belgado, UNEP EVP/VP for Finance, Delicia R. Tibi, Guest Speaker from Nangyang Technological University Prof. Andrew Duffy, UNEP Media Relations Director Melody P. Ordonez, and Ms. Ana-liza Macatangay, Provincial Head, PIA Cam. Sur.

SINGAPORE — Transcending distance in search for a much higher echelon of learning and discovery, top executives of the  University of Northeastern Philippines’ (UNEP)  went all the way to the Lion City to have a chance to listen to international experts talked about various fields of journalism.

This after attending a three-day communications confab dubbed as the 5th ICCS Convention on Media Communications held at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore from Feb. 14-16. Communication students, department deans, media practitioner and school administrators were among the invited participants in the international forum.

UNEP Executive Vice President and currently VP for Finance  DeliAlfelor-Tibi saw the occasion as an effective venue to help communication students understand the diverse challenges in different journalism fields.

“With change as the only permanent thing in this world, I think it is just proper that we equip ourselves with beneficial learning and experiences that will make us an effective media practitioner in the future, given the challenging work that this profession entails” Tibi said in an interview.

Together with  Tibi in Singapore were  Melody Ordonez, UNEP media relations director and Celeste Belgado, UNEP administrative officer. PIA Camarines Sur provincial head Lizel S. Macatangay was among the fortunate delegates invited to partake with the lectures coming from distinguished media personalities.

Among the celebrated conference speakers was Rico Hizon. Dubbed as the Philippine pride, Hizon is the only Filipino news anchor of BBC World. He is a presenter of the daily business and finance programs Asia Business Report and Asia Today, which are being aired live at Singapore during weekdays.

Hizon shared his thoughts on news anchoring, both in the international and Philippine context.

Other presenters include: Jenny Paris, managing director for corporate news coverage in the Asia Pacific for Dow Jones News wires and has been with the Dow Jones for the past 13 years; Prof. Andrew Duffy, who talked about online journalism; and Raju Gopalakrishnan,  who shared his experience on Reuters and international Journalism practice.

Ivan Tan, producer of the Discovery Channel also imparted his experiences in documentary making while Dr. Margaret Tan also gave her lecture on E-government and the Digital Societies. Tan is an associate professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information as well as the deputy director at the Singapore Internet Research Center at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. -Lizel S. Macatangay

Rural bankers slate Legazpi conference

Atty. ACYATAN

The Confederation of Southern Tagalog Rural Bankers will conduct its Annual Management Conference for 2011 on Feb. 24 and 25 at the Hotel Venezia in Legazpi City.

The announcement was made by the group’s president, Gerardo T. Auson and conference chairman Don Martin Glorioso of the Pagbilao Rural Bank in Quezon province.

Owners, officers and staff from the 152 member rural banks in the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal and MIMAROPA will be in attendance. Considering the proximity of the venue, members of the Confederation of Bicol Rural Banks have also been invited.

The conference theme is:  “Gearing Up:  Striking the Balance Between Regulation and the Business”.

Indeed the challenge now among rural bankers is the balancing between banking regulations and how to continue viability and profitability especially for the smaller rural banks.  Currently, one of the positive problems is proper investment of excess liquidity.

At the forefront of the rural banks’ problems is the issue of specialized accounting and internal control and governance.  These positions of internal auditor and compliance officer require advance knowledge and expertise in accounting, auditing and financial analysis – working qualities found only among higher-paid professionals.

Monetary and banking authorities also mandate for improved internal and external auditing.  Rural bank incomes are more on the lower side – and many cannot afford to hire auditing experts who will not just attest their financial statements but also provide both their management and Board of Directors with continuing operational analysis and regulatory guidance.

Rural banks are also favorite audit targets of BIR examiners – since their financial recordings are done daily – hence not susceptible to transactional cheating considering the clear audit trails.  Their tax reportorial compliance are traditional preys for Letters of Authority.  As a result, most rural bankers prefer external auditors with taxation experience – but they come with higher costs!

Among the invited speakers are from the BangkoSentralngPilipinas, local government heads, and Department of Agriculture.

The private sector is represented by CPA-lawyer Antonio P. Acyatan, chairman of Acyatan& Co., CPAs – of DFK International Accountants and Consultants.  His experience as senior executive of two commercial banks and long-term external auditor of thrift and rural banks put him above the rest in terms of reliability and credibility.

On taxation, the versatile speaker is at the forefront in the fight against corruption.  He heads the newly formed United Quezonians for Good Governance, with primary mission to support former COA Auditor Heidi Mendoza.

Acyatan emphasized that businessmen and bankers, and their external auditors must stand against unfair assessments.  He said “the best way to stop corruption is to submit fairly presented financial statements and to pay correct taxes thereon”.

Robredo urges local execs to limit biz permit needs

Sec. ROBREDO

In order to fasttrack the processing of business permits, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo called on all local chief executives nationwide  to “promote the ease of doing business in the country” by limiting the documentary requirements for the issuance of a business permit to those required by law, zoning ordinance or other regulations.

Robredo made the call after his office received reports of the long list of administrative requirements imposed by some local government units (LGUs)  in the issuance of business permits.

“Unnecessary requirements appear repugnant to efforts aimed at promoting a climate that is conducive to business in the country,” said Robredo, who stressed that such requirements should be simplified and rationalized.

In his directive, Robredoalso urged mayors to issue a conditional permit to a business where the only lacking clearances are those of SSS, PHILHEALTH and PAG-IBIG, with the understanding that such clearances will have to be submitted within one month from the issuance of such permit.

“Failure to  submit such clearances within the one-month period can result in the revocation or non-renewal of a business permit,” Robredo said.

The DILG chief also noted that the barangay clearance is becoming an impediment in doing business considering the unnecessary documentations and unreasonable costs imposed by some barangays.

“Additional requirements beyond those which are legally required and verbal impositions by action or processing officers must be stopped,” he added.

Citing Sections 147 and 151 of the Local Government Code, the DILG secretary said that a municipality and a city may impose and collect reasonable fees and charges on business commensurate with the cost of regulation, inspection and licensing before any person may engage in a business.

Similarly, Section 152 of the same Code provides that “no city or municipality may issue any license or permit for any business unless a clearance is first obtained from the barangay where such business is located or conducted.  For such clearance, the sangguniang barangay may impose a reasonable fee.  The application for clearance shall be acted upon within seven working days from the filing thereof.”

Relatedly, Robredo urged city and municipal mayors to direct the formulation of a citizens’ charter for every barangay to be posted within the barangay hall premises, with a copy furnished to the local business permit and licensing office.

The barangay citizens charter is a document containing its frontline services and the time allotted to accomplish said services, including the issuance of barangay clearance.