Bukidnon, CDO priests asked to “go green”

MALAYBALAY CITY –  “Go green,” Malaybalay bishop Jose Cabantan urged priests in Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro to heed the call to go green in their work with their flock during the Bucag (Bukidnon – Cagayan) priests’ joint Vianney Day celebration at the Diocesan Formation Center.

“To attain wholeness, peace, we must also look at the sickly environment, not just the people,” he added in his homily Monday, the first day of the two-day gathering of priests named after St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests.

The theme of the celebration focused on “The Church’s option for total human and ecological liberation.”

Cabantan encouraged the priests to be instruments of reconciliation not only among conflicts between man and God, between man and man, between man and woman, but also between man and the rest of God’s creations.

He cited the presentation of Fr. Rey Raluto earlier in the afternoon that “everything is interconnected.”

Raluto told Bukidnon News as example of how the Church could go green was when it helped bring down the logging concessionaires in San Fernando town in the late 1980s.

“It was a good local example but it was not continued,” he said. Raluto presented a video presentation of Bukidnon’s renowned martyr priest Neri Lito Satur.

On Oct. 14, 1991, Fr. Satur and his female aide were ambushed on their way back to Valencia City, then a municipality, after celebrating a mass in Barangay Guinoyoran.

He was shot pointblank with a shotgun after falling from his motorcycle. His head was smashed with a rifle butt. He was 29.

Satur, a forest protection officer deputized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resouces, was killed a few years after the imposition of a logging moratorium in Bukidnon.
In 1988, then environment secretary Fulgencio Factoran Jr. declared a logging moratorium in Bukidnon in the wake of anti-logging protests initiated by the people of San Fernando town which culminated in a hunger strike in Manila.

Raluto said to “go green” what the Church did with the people of San Fernando should be continued.

Raluto, who recently finished theology in Leuven University in Belgium, presented excerpts of his dissertation to his colleagues as the keynote presentation of the gathering.

He has proposed that the Catholic Church in the Philippines will not only build church and human communities, “but also impels us to form ecological communities grounded in the principle of interdependence and inter-relationship of all creatures.”

He identified three types of poverty confronting Filipinos, the socio-economically poor, the socio-culturally poor, and the ecologically poor.

He cited that poverty incidence in the Philippines is estimated at 26.5 percent in 2009, mostly from the rural areas, where “even after some years of implementing the agrarian reform, landlessness and poverty continue to dominate.”

Raluto cited the socio-culturally poor, too, as among the oppressed sectors to include the indigenous peoples and the women.  He said the IPs are suffering economically and racially. He cited that the women, worse in indigenous tribes, were treated as second class citizens
lacking opportunities for education.

But Raluto said often excluded is the poverty brought by the environmental destruction.

He cited Forest Management Bureau data that the Philippines remaining forest cover is only 24 percent. He said colonization did not only change the people, but also the landscape through the colonization’s deforestation, which the Philippine government continued.

“Let us not only listen to the cry of the human beings but also of the groaning of the Earth,” he added.

He said, arguably, the problems of poverty and the ecological crisis are inseparable.

“The bad effects of the ecological crisis have immediate harmful social consequences,” he said.

Raluto, who served as station director of the church-run DXDB radio station prior to his study abroad, has proposed change in three levels; in the academe, in the Basic Ecclesial Communities, and in the bishops’ pastoral letters.

He added that the church’s notion of the “preferential option for the poor” has to be expanded to include not only the socio-economically poor and the socio-culturally poor but also the ecologically poor. (Walter I. Balane)

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[PHOTOS] CCT Program

Recipients from Capinonan, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon of the national government's conditional cash transfer (CCT) program dubbed as 4Ps or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program fall in line to secure their ATM (automated teller machine) cards in the Malaybalay branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Recipients from Capinonan, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon of the national government's conditional cash transfer (CCT) program dubbed as 4Ps or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program fall in line to secure their ATM (automated teller machine) cards in the Malaybalay branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Conditional Cash Transfer recipient Manang Nida from Capinonan, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon waits for her turn to try her card at the automated teller machine in the Malaybalay branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines

A Department of Social Welfare and Development staff assists a recipient of the government's conditional cash transfer program as she tries to transact through an automated teller machine (ATM) for the first time in the Malaybalay branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines

Photos by Walter I. Balane / Bukidnon News

Bukidnon top source of trafficked children in NorthMin

(Photo: Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan signs a memorandum of agreement to boost Bukidnon's capacity against trafficking in persons.Also in photo: Ma. Salome Ujano, Philippines Against Child Trafficking national coordinator; Dr. Bernadette Madrid, CPU Net executive director; PSWDO Arsenio Alagenio, and Supt. Canilo Fuentes, Bukidnon Provincial Police Office deputy director for operations.) WALTER BALANE

MALAYBALAY CITY – Bukidnon was the top source of trafficked children in Northern Mindanao, Ma. Salome Ujano, national coordinator of the Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT) said Monday.

Ujano cited the status during the local signing ceremony Monday morning of the Memorandum of Agreement on the joint effort between PACT, the Child Protection Unit Network, the provincial government of Bukidnon and funding agency, the European Union for the better implementation of international and local laws on anti-child trafficking and other forms of child abuse.

Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan said the situation has worried him and vowed to create a task force to focus on “minimizing” child trafficking in the province.  He admitted that it is so difficult to eliminate the cases of child abuse, citing among reasons that Bukidnon is agriculture-based.

President Benigno Aquino III cited in his second state of the nation address Monday that 31 human traffickers were convicted under his administration. From 2003, when the anti-child trafficking law was passed up to June 2010, there were 29 convictions in the previous administration. Aquino said the Philippines is out of the Tier 2 watch list of the United States, which endangered the country of losing funds intended for the campaign against trafficking.

Arsenio Alagenio, provincial social welfare and development office, admitted the report and added that Bukidnon topped the list not only in child trafficking but also in child abuse in general.

But he clarified that the rate has gone down over the years with the intervention of the United Nations Children’s  Fund (Unicef).  He said the province was able to reduce the volume by 10 percent every year, but he did not provide figures.

Alagenio added that the high volume of reported trafficked children from Bukidnon maybe is because of its big population, too.

Dominador Libayao, head of the provincial secretariat of the Provincial Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking (PIACAT), said the Department of Social Welfare and Development 10 cited 16 children reported trafficked from Bukidnon in 2010, 15 of them female.

Libayao, from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, said the children were from the ages 13 to 17 years old. Eight of the victims were from Valencia City, four from San Fernando town , three from Quezon, and one from Manolo Fortich.

Most of the victims, he added, are from the indigenous peoples in upland and remote areas of the province.

But the PSWDO could not provide regional statistics to show how many victims also come from the other provinces and cities in the region.

Supt. Canilo Fuentes said during the signing ceremony the Bukidnon Provincial Police Office has completed institutionalizing the women and children protection desks all over the province.

The MOA signed Monday will help the local agencies implement the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Pornography, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (Republic Act 9208) and other relevant laws in the Philippines.

The project aims to create awareness on issues of child trafficking, prostitution, and pornography; conduct of educators’ training and seminars on the Philippine Guidelines for the protection of trafficked children, and the setting up of Bukidnon Child Protection Unit at the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center.

Alagenio said even if Bukidnon topped the provinces in the region for source of traffic children, it doesn’t mean the recruiters have been punished.

“Not any of the recruiters have been convicted,” he said.

He said no cases were filed against the suspects.

Dr. Bernadette Madrid, executive director of CPU Net, cited the dearth of complainants against traffickers.

The investigation is different, she added, because the filing of cases should be voluntary.

“It is difficult,” she said.

Ujano said another facet of the problem is the victims’ access to support services such as transportation assistance.

Last year, 12 children from San Fernando town were rescued from a trafficking syndicate in Marawi City. None of the 12 filed complaints against their local recruiters, Alagenio said.

But the agencies against child trafficking have another problem.

Ujano said there is no database to refer to cases of child trafficking, what has happened to victims, whether they were able to file cases, and if they did, what has happened to their cases.

Madrid added that other agencies have databases but there is no centralized database to coordinate the figures.

At the local scene, the Bukidnon Provincial Police Office, reported no cases of child trafficking for 2011.

But Libayao of the PSWDO doubted it. But the PSWDO itself could not provide figures.

“It is still at the local social welfare and development offices,” he added. He admitted they get the figures only when the local SWDOs report to them.

A Department of Justice source said among the many reasons of non-filing of complaints is the lack of resources of the victims such as payment for filing fees in court and appearances fees for lawyers.

The source said the victims should be enrolled to the DOJ’s Welfare Protection Program. But he said he does not but the idea that population is the factor that put Bukidnon at the top as source of trafficked children.

“If you notice the victims are mostly from indigenous communities in remote areas. That’s because in those areas, people have no livelihood, they are vulnerable,” he added.

He said one of the victims from San Fernando town told him that recruiters left only P1,500 to their parents, when they were duped. (Walter I. Balane)


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[PHOTOS] PRIME in Malaybalay City

Bae Inatlawan Adelina Tarino of the Bukidnon Daraghuyan tribe officiates in an opening ritual for the launching of the Department of Education's Philippine Response to Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education (PRIME) in Malaybalay City on July 22.



The Bukidnon State University chorale performs a series of songs on the indigenous peoples in the launching of the Department of Education's Philippine Response to Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education (PRIME) in Malaybalay City on July 22.


Photos by Walter Balane/Bukidnon News

NPAs tagged to burning of P9 million equipment of NGCP sub-contractor in Malaybalay

MALAYBALAY CITY – A group of at least 10 armed men believed to be members of the New People’s Army barged into a stockyard of a construction firm here, installed improvised explosive devices and detonated it destroying a crane and a mini-dump truck, Police Supt. Canilo A. Fuentes, Bukidnon deputy police director for operations said in a report.

The armed detonated the IEDs after ordering about 21 employees to vacate the stockyard of the S.L. Development Construction Corporation (SLDCC) in Purok 3, Dalwangan, a highway barangay about 10 kilometers outside of downtown Malaybalay City.

Fuentes told Bukidnon News the perpetrators, armed with AK 47, baby armalite, and .45 pistols, attacked around 12:45 a.m. (early Monday morning).

After 30 minutes, Fuentes said, the armed men fled using the company’s Elf vehicle. Fuentes said the police found the vehicle torched, too, in Sitio Kibuwa in nearby Impalutao, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

He added no one was harmed but a security guard, identified in the police initial report as Felipe Salomon was disarmed of his .38 gun service firearms.

According to its webpage, SLDCC is one of the leading contractors of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) for transmission line and substation projects.

In the police report, the armed men were reported to have shouted after the burning that they did so because Kalpataru, an Indian contractor of NGCP, which allegedly did not pay revolutionary taxes for the last six months.

NGCP is building transmission lines across Bukidnon. (Walter I. Balane)

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Malaybalay City puts up P29.8 million risk reduction, mgt. fund

MALAYBALAY CITY – The City Government of Malaybalay has allotted a total of P29.8 million fund for the city’s disaster risk reduction and management fund, a portion of which would be used to fund training and operation of a 24-member volunteer rescue team, City Administrator Herculano Ronolo said.

About 44 percent or P13 million of the budget will go to capital outlay, according to a copy of the plan to use the fund Ronolo gave to Bukidnon News.

“Climate change has exposed the city to more risks to disasters, we have to prepare for it,” he said.

Close to half of the capital outlay budget will be used to buy additional fire trucks at P5.5 million. The city also intends to buy rescue vehicles (P3 million), ambulance (P2 million), and mini-backhoe (P2.5 million).

The other part of the P29.8 million budget will go to maintenance and other operating expenses, which compose P16.819 million of the budget.

About P9 million goes to “disaster quick response.” But the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council did not specify the details in its 2011 plan. The other half of the operating expenses, P7.873 million, is allotted for disaster-preparedness. The budget covers prevention, response, mitigation, rehabilitation, and other expenses including those for training and seminars.

Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri announced during the City Government’s Convocation Program Monday part of the budget will be used to train the city’s volunteer rescue team to work with the city’s existing emergency response unit.

Zubiri told city government officials and employees the city’s present exposure to disaster instances is a result of the clearing of the city’s forests in search for livelihood.

He cited about 25 big and small landslides in the city’s Upper Pulangi district.

Zubiri said he asked the City Environment and Natural Resources Office to come up with a plan how farmers in the area can keep the trees and plant new trees in their upland farms.

As part of the 2011 disaster risk reduction and management fund of P29.8 million, the city government is funding the formation of the 24-member volunteer response team. It will be composed of volunteer members of Kabalitkat and Karancho civic organizations. Training of the unit will start this month on water safety and rescue, mountain rescue, structure collapse, and landslides.

Ronolo said crucial at the moment is the creation of the rescue team’s office. He said some sectors suggested that the city government will just designate an official and three-member staff from existing personnel. But he said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law mandates a separate office with its own personnel. (Walter I. Balane)

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Bukidnon LGU illegally operating training school – TESDA

MALAYBALAY CITY –  The Municipal Government of Maramag, Bukidnon had been operating a technical vocational training school since 2007 without government permit, according to Dr. Catherine M.R. Galapon, provincial director, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA-Bukidnon).

Galapon informed the Bukidnon provincial board about this during the regular session on June 8, where she was asked to shed light on the state of technical education in the province.

Galapon said the Maramag Polytechnic College, owned and ran by the municipal government did not secure Certificate of Program Registration (CPR) for all its skills training courses, at least nine of them.

Among the courses offered by the school included automotive, electronic services, welding, food trade and commercial cooking, computer hardware services, and health care services.

She told Bukidnon News the school’s brochure also made it appear they were registered with TESDA because they used qualification titles (QTs) TESDA uses for courses registered with them.

In the brochure, the school indicated that after the short term courses, the students will get an NC2 credit or National Certificate Level 2.

Galapon said another violation of the school is that they charged tuition of P2,500 when it is supposed to deliver free training as a “community training” center.

Maramag mayor Alicia Resus told Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr via telephone during the session that they just patterned their operations after the Lugait Technical Vocational School in Misamis Oriental.

But Galapon, who was previously assigned to Misamis Oriental until April 2011, told Bukidnon News the school, also ran by the municipal government is a TESDA-accredited school.

She said past TESDA directors failed to close the school because the municipal government kept on indicating they will initiate registration.

“But they never pushed through,” she added.

She said she will give the school a chance to comply with the requirements to obtain a CPR for each course they offer.

She said they could also shut down the school if they refuse to register their programs.

Galapon said the Bukidnon Technical Institutes Association (BukTIA) has complained against the local government owned school’s illegal operation.

She said it is important that the public should know about the illegal operations of such schools because their graduates will not be allowed to take the TESDA skills assessment tests, required in obtaining special orders and other certificates required for local and foreign employment.

Bukidnon has 23 accredited technical vocation schools, 21 of which are privately owned. (Walter I. Balane)


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