Stalled SIP “greatly affects” peace efforts – Gov. Calingasan

MALAYBALAY CITY (11 April) – The stalled Social Integration Program (SIP) of the national government is “greatly affecting” the peace efforts in the province, Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan told a press conference Monday.

Calingasan said many New People’s Army rebels who surrendered to the government have become uneasy over the delay of the release of social integration funds from the national government through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

The governor said he was told that 10 rebels who wanted to surrender firearms through the SIP’s Balik Baril scheme were having second thoughts because they weren’t sure if the program was still ongoing.

He stressed the point to reporters after the graduation rites of a new batch of 192 graduates of the Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) Basic Military Training at Camp Osito Bahian, in Impalambong, Malaybalay City. 

During the opening program of the Broadcasters’ Month on April 7 organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas Bukidnon Chapter, Calingasan said the provincial government was forced to give initial livelihood funds to 102 persons who surrendered to the government last year in Cabanglasan town. 

The provincial government released P15,000 each to the “uneasy” returnees, he added.

Col. Romeo Gapuz, 403rd Brigade commanding officer, said the Balik Baril program was temporarily stopped pending a review of its rewards system. He said there were suspicions the system was being abused.

“Until OPAPP redesigns the system that’s the time we can resume with the program,” he added.

But Gapuz denied there were people who abused the system.

He said there were doubts about some of the surrenderees who did not turn in firearms.

“If they have no firearms they must be in the OB (order of battle) to be admitted in the reward system,” he added.

Calingasan defended his position favoring the creation of more SCAA units in the province even if he wants peace.

He said the SCAA are there to defend, not to make offensives,” he added. (Walter I. Balane)

 

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Bukidnon biz sector to DILG, police: Help us against violence, extortions

MALAYBALAY CITY – A group of at least 20 business establishments wrote Local Governments Sec. Jessie Robredo asking for help against violence and extortions targeting them, Sr. Supt. Rey Crestito Gonzalodo, Bukidnon police director said Saturday.

He said the group talked to Robredo personally in a conference in Caprice Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City last month.

“They are seeking support and assistance against violence and extortions of alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and local bandits for them to continue producing foods for our countrymen,” Gonzalodo said in a text message to Bukidnon News.

Last week, Gonzalodo urged the business sector not only to hire security guards but also help fund the organization of Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Active Auxiliary (SCAA) to secure their businesses.

He said that though securing the public is their primary responsibility, businessmen must not rely only on what the police and military can provide.

“The police and the military cannot be in their properties at all times,” he said.

Amid reports of extortion activities in the province, Gonzalodo said business establishments targeted by extortionists must organize among themselves and collectively raise funds to put up SCAA units for their protection against extortion activities.

Gonzalodo said he received a letter earlier this month from a group of at least 20 businessmen who complained about the extortion activities and sought police assistance.
He said the group is composed of plantation owners and hog and poultry raisers.

He said once they have organized, they could ask the military to organize the SCAA.

But he said that although the SCAA, a paramilitary unit, is more effective, affected businessmen should still invest in their security.  He lamented that many of the hog and poultry owners do not hire security guards.

He said suspected members of the New Peoples’ Army attacked hog and poultry farms and plantations in Malaybalay City and in other towns.

Gonzalodo noted an increase in reported extortion in the first quarter of 2011.

He also urged businessmen not to give in to the demands of the extortionists and to report information to them.
“Do not give to these groups pretending to be the NPA. Even to the NPA,” he added.

Instead of giving in to extortion, Gonzalodo added, the businessmen should invest their money fo the allowances, uniform, provision, and equipment of the SCAA.

He said the military will take charge of training, firearms, and ammunition.

Gonzalodo said a mix of SCAA and police auxiliary units would help address the insurgency and criminality problems of the province.

He said Local Governments Secretary Jessie Robredo told him the proposal of the city government of Malaybalay to organize a 40-member police auxiliary unit “might be considered” due to the insurgency problem.

Malaybalay City maintains two units of SCAA while the Bukidnon provincial government initiated SCAA in four of its 20 towns with cost shared between the provincial government and the municipal governments. (Walter I. Balane)


Police director to biz community: Unite, organize SCAA vs. extortion

MALAYBALAY CITY – A top ranking official of Bukidnon Police Provincial Office (BPPO) advised big businessmen in the province to be united and organize Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Active Auxiliary (SCAA) for their protection against extortion activities.

 

“Big plantation owners, hog and poultry raisers in Bukidnon should be united. Once they form a strong association they could ask the government to organize SCAA for their business protection against extortion activities,” said Police Senior Superintendent Rey Crestito Gonzalodo, Bukidnon police chief on April 6.

 

Gonzalodo said instead of giving money to extortionist they could spend it for SCAA unit that could give protection on their business.

 

“A paramilitary unit is more effective than a security guard. They are armed and well-trained to combat against extortionist particularly the New People’s Army (NPA),” Gonzalodo said.

 

He said some of hog and poultry farms don’t hire security guards.

 

On the previous years, suspected members of NPA attacked some hog and poultry farms in Malaybalay City and adjacent towns. Reportedly, the rebels attacked the said businesses due to refusal to give revolutionary tax.

 

Military and police officials told reporters that NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) allegedly accumulated large amount of money in their extortion activities to finance their operations.

“Most of big plantations, hog and poultry farms are located in the interior villages. Not all the time the military and the police could do a patrol for their protection. So, they better invest for the safety of their business and themselves,” Gonzalodo said.

Gonzalodo further advised businessmen not to be afraid to report to authorities about extortionists. He said businessmen should provide them accurate information for effective action.

In the month of February, members of the NPA claimed responsibility for attacking two big banana firms – the Sumifru and Dole Stanfilco Philippines. Suspected members of NPA were also tagged of attacking some businessmen in Bukidnon.(Mel B. Madera)


Officials break ground for P15-M water system

MALAYBALAY CITY – Government officials on April 5 break ground for the P15 million water system project that would supply three villages in Malaybalay City.

The ground breaking ceremony was held at Dalwangan village.

Sen. Teofisto ‘TG’ Guingona III led the ceremony. Gov. Alex P. Calingasan, 2nd district representative Florencio T. Flores Jr., Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri, Engr. Rey Peter B. Gille – chief of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 1st Engineering District, Dalwangan Brgy. Captain Lino-ay, some officials of Malaybalay City Water District and villagers witnessed the ceremony.

The water system would supply the villages of Dalwangan, Patpat and Kalasungay.

Project’s bidding is scheduled on April 12 and the target date for the start of the construction is on April 13. The project is expected to be completed on September 9 with a contract time of 150 calendar days.

The implementing office is the DPWH 1st DEO.

A staff of Sen. Guingona on April 7 confirmed that the P15 million budget is from the Priority Development and Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Guingona.

Jun Aroa, general manager of MCWD on April 7 clarified that the whole water system project has a rough estimated budget of P60 Million. He said the P15Million is just an initial amount to start the whole project.

“The project will tap Damitan Creek that connects Lalawan River near the foot of Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park. A mini dam will be constructed in the source. The MCWD had already tapped the said creek but the pipes are small. This time bigger pipes will be installed but the old pipes will not be destroyed or abandoned,” Aroa said.

A scope of work showed that a mini-dam and coffer dam will be constructed and the installation of main pipe lines.

Based on the information from DPWH, once completed the water system has a potential discharge of 360 liters per second enough to supply the three villages.(Mel B. Madera)


Sen. Escudero agrees to call for gov’t workers as “bearers of good news”

MALAYBALAY CITY – Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero supported Malacanang’s call for government employees to help spread the good news.

In a press statement dated April 4, Escudero said he agreed the call as long as it’s factual and does not consist of pure embellishments. He said the government should recognize the real and existing problems and address it accordingly.

Undersecretary Abigail Valte recently said everybody has to pitch in. She said the job is not only for Cabinet secretaries, but also for undersecretaries and public information offices (PIOs) of agencies.

“This is actually the job and primary responsibility of the Communications Group in the palace which they have not been able to do effectively for the President. I hope they are not simply passing the buck so to speak,” Escudero said.

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III recently said there is a need for more information dissemination to the general public from his Communications Group. Aquino cited this might be one of the reasons why his satisfaction ratings had fall slightly in the recent survey.

The recent Social Weather Stations survey said 69 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with the performance of President Aquino while 18 percent were dissatisfied, for a net satisfaction rating of +51, lower than his +64 rating in November.

Valte said it’s not entirely the mistake of the communications group. She said all that needs to be done is to understand the functions of Secretaries Sonny Coloma and Ricky Carandang. She added the office of Carandang is task of forming the message and the dissemination part rests on Coloma through government-run media – NBN-4, RPN-9, IBC-13 and dzRB.

Secretaries Coloma, Carandang and Edwin Lacierda all acknowledged they have to be more aggressive in disseminating achievements of the nine-month-old administration of Aquino.

Aquino lamented that some good achievements of his administration failed to make it to the front pages of newspapers. Aquino cited on the Atlantic Gulf and Pacific’s $10 billion in contracts. Reportedly, about 4,000 engineers displaced from Libya could be hired on the project.

The recent Social Weather Stations survey said 69 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with the performance of President Aquino while 18 percent were dissatisfied, for a net satisfaction rating of +51, lower than his +64 rating in November.

“I would like to think instead that they are asking for help from fellow officials and co-workers in government to bring the President’s accomplishments and message of hope closer and more understandable to our people,” Escudero further said.(Mel B. Madera)


[PHOTO] BROADCASTERS’ MONTH KICK OFF IN BSU

Fr. Jonthan Tianero, chairperson of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas Bukidnon chapter speaks during the opening program of the Broadcasters' Month Celebration on April 7, 2011 at the Bukidnon State University Covered Court. Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan graces the kick off of the celebration carrying the theme: Setting the Nation's Agenda. (BUKIDNON NEWS Photo)


Capitol vows on-time deliveries; buys P56-M medicines, supplies

MALAYBALAY CITY – The Provincial General Services Office (PGSO) of Bukidnon is set to purchase P56 million worth of medicines and medical supplies for 2011.

“This year, our target budget for medicines and medical supplies for our government hospitals and Provincial Health Stations (PHS) is P56.32 million” said Elsie Gail Ocaya, executive assistant and acting PGSO chief in an interview on April 6.

Ocaya said the budget was deliberated during their special meeting on February 24. She said the budget this year is higher compared last year because of price increases of medicines and medical supplies.

“Aside from the price increases of medicines and medical supplies, we also possessed new medical equipments and new reagents which means additional budget,” Ocaya said.

During the Monday convocation program on April 4 Ocaya reported that last year the Provincial Government of Bukidnon (PGB) had a target budget of P40.86 million but PGSO actually purchased P45.71million worth of medicines and medical supplies exceeding about P5million.

The PGB operates ight provincial hospitals which are located in the towns of Maramag, Kibawe, Kalilangan, San Fernando, Malitbog, Manolo Fortich, Talakag and the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center (BPMC) which is in Malaybalay City. The PGB also runs ProvinciaL Health Stations (PHS) in areas where there are no provincial hospitals.

“All medicines and medical supplies are already bidded and we’re just waiting for its deliveries. We assure that this time the delivery of medicines and medical supplies will be on time,” Ocaya added.(Mel B. Madera)