Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bulacan celebrates Plaridel’s 163rd b-day

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—It will be a special non-working holiday in Bulacan today (Friday) as the province celebrates the 163rd birthday of the great propagandist, Gat Marcelo H. Del Pilar.

The celebrations will be led by Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado and Senator Teofisto Guingona III.

As guest speaker, Guigona is expected to speak on the theme “Plaridel: Sa Tilamsik ng Diwa at Pusong Makabansa, Pilipino sa Buong Mundo ay Dinadakila.”

Alvarado said that at least 5,000 Bulakenyos are expected to gather at the Gat Marcelo H. Del Pilar National Shrine in Barangay San Nicolas, Bulakan town.

“Hinihikayat ko ang mga Bulakenyo na suportahan at pahalagahan ang mahalagang araw na ito sa pamamagitan ng sama-samang pagsariwa sa diwa at kabayanihan ni Plaridel na naging bahagi sa pagkamit ng kalayaan ng bansa,” Alvarado said.

He said that the holiday is in accordance with Republic Act No. 7449 or “An Act Declaring August Thirty a Special Non-Working Holiday in the Province of Bulacan,” which was approved on April 27, 1992.

Del Pilar is the youngest of the ten children of Don Julian del Pilar, a gobernadorcillo and Doña Blasa Gatmaitan.

Isagani Giron, president emeritus of the Samahang Pangkasaysayan ng Bulacan (Sampaka) said that in his early years, Del Pilar who is popularly known for his pen name “Plaridel”, studied law and became a lawyer.

However, his exposure to the plight of Filipinos and Bulakenyos in particular, led him to start speaking against the abuses of the friars.

A gifted speaker, Plaridel spoke on public markets, cockpit arena and even in special occasions where many people gathered.

He also started writing satires that included “Aba Ginoong Barya” and “Caiigat Cayo,” which drew the ire of Spanish friars.

Uncertain of his safety, he was convinced by his friends to move to Spain, and continue the struggle there.
Before moving to Spain, Plaridel established Diariong Tagalog which strongly criticized the way the Spaniards ran the government and treated the people.

In Spain, he served as editor of La Solidaridad newspaper, the mouthpiece of the propagandists working for reforms for the Filipinos.

Del Pilar died of tuberculosis on July 4, 1896 in Barcelona, Spain.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bulacan under state of calamity again for 3rd straight year

MALOLOS CITY—For the third straight year, the province of Bulacan is placed under the state of calamity.

This was announced on Saturday by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado during his weekly radio program over Radyo Bulacan, a local radio station in this city.

However, Alvarado announcement of the state of calamity is followed by caution on local mayors not to over spend their calamity funds, which is equivalent to five percent of a local government unit’s annual budget.

The governor reminded mayors from 21 towns and three component cities in the province that calamity funds must be spent judiciously.

“It is only August and end of the year is far from over, there might be another calamity,” Alvarado said in vernacular.

He explained that placing the province under state of calamity is a way of helping Bulakenyos  to easily recover.

The governor said that declaration of state of calamity will allow employees to obtain calamity loans.

In 2011, Bulacan was placed under state of calamity after the onslaught of typhoon Pedring and Quiel, and in August last year when the province was inundated due to heavy southwest monsoon rains.

According to Board Member Michael Fermin, the state of calamity was declared as early as Thursday after the Sangguniang Panglalawigan issued approved a resolution.

The resolution is based on the urgent request of Alvarado on Wednesday citing damages in the province caused by flood spawned by typhoon Maring and intense rains brought by the southwest monsoon.

Records from the  Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) showed that weeklong heavy rains and flooding left P116,509,373.82 damages in agriculture and fisheries in the province.

With regards to infrastructure, the PDRRMO cited reports from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) First Engineering District which estimated initial damage of P5.5-M on roads and other infrastructures.

The PDRRMO also reported that about hald of the 569 barangays in the province were inundated by one to four feet deep flood.

It left a total of 208,201 families of 952,038 individuals affected wherein a total of 7,790 families or 31,383 individuals were evacuated.

Heavy rains also caused dams in the province to discharge water, but as of yesterday morning, Engineer Precioso Punzalan of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said that they only discharging 151 cubic meters per second (CMS).

Punzalan explained that their water discharge will have minimal effect on villages at the downstream of the  Angat River.

For its part, the Pampanga River Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (PRFFWC) said flooding in the coastal towns of Bulacan and Pampanga will continue to persist due to high tide and backflood from Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pampanga draining to Manila Bay.

Hilton Hernando, head of the PRFFWC said that affected towns includes Apalit, Macabebe, and Masantol in Pampanga, and the towns of Calumpit and Hagonoy in Bulacan. Dino Balabo

Bulakenyos cite prayers for downgrade of rainfall alert

By Dino Balabo

 MALOLOS CITY—Answered prayers!

This was how some Bulakenyos described the low rainfall yesterday morning, a day after priests of the Diocese of Malolos started praying while other residents invoked an “oration imperata” on Tuesday as intense rains pummelled several towns in the province.

Lower rainfall also gave a sigh of relief to thousands of Bulakenyos who expected deeper floods yesterday as the Bustos Dam discharged 500 cubic meters per second of water into the Angat River starting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Elmer Santos, a municipal councilor from Hagonoy, was overjoyed with the turn of events.

“God heard our prayers,” he said a day after sending out text messages containing oratio imperata and asked his town mates to recite it.

Records from the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRMMO) showed a lull in rainfall in the towns of Bulakan, Hagonoy, Sta, Maria, Paombong, Pandi, San Rafael, and Norzagaray. 

The most notable changes were observed in Paombong which recorded 127 mm six hour rainfall on Tuesday morning, but yesterday, it dropped to 48.77 mm.

In Bulakan, Tuesday’s rainfall was 80.01 mm but dropped to 11.86 mm yesterday while in Meycauayan City, it dropped to 38.10 mm yesterday from  63.75 mm on Tuesday.

Santos said that both towns were spared from the deep flooding  they expected to set in by early morning yesterday as Bustos Dam operators reduced the discharge to 190 cms by 11:30 p.m. of Tuesday.

The same was echoed by Mayor Raulito Manlapaz who explained in an exclusive interview yesterday that flooding in Hagonoy town was only caused by sea level rise or high tide and partly aggravated by the tail end of the water discharged from Bustos Dam.

Manlapaz also said that since Monday, at least 22 of the 26 villages of Hagonoy town went underwater due to heavy rains and high tide.

They are now repacking relief goods to be distributed before the end of the week even if there is no declaration of state of calamity in the town.

For his part, Vice Mayor Pedro Santos said that they will prioritize over 100 families evacuated in different evacuation centers in the town and the coastal villages of Pugad and Tibaguin as fisherfolk in those villages were not able to go out to the seas for over a week now due to stormy weather since typhoon Labuyo passed Luzon last week.

As this developed,  the PDRRMO reported a total of 2,436 families composed of 9,283 individuals were evacuated from 14 towns of the province, namely, Balagtas, Baliwag, Bocaue, Calumpit, Guiguinto, Marilao,Obando, Pulilan, Paombong, Plaridel, Sta. Maria, and the cities of San Jose Del Monte,  Meycauayan , and Malolos.

The PDRRMO also said that heavy rains rendered a number of roads in the province non-passable to light vehicles as of yesterday Thursday morning.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bulacan celebrates 435th founding year

MALOLOS CITY--It’s a non-working holiday in Bulacan today, August 15 as the province celebrate its 435th founding anniversary.

Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado said the annual celebration will be observed with simple ceremonies as the province prepare for bigger celebration next month for the Linggo ng Bulacan.

The annual Linggo ng Bulacan is celebrated from September 8 to 15 every year.

He said that today’s celebration was declared non-working holiday by President Benigno Aquino III through Proclamation No. 627 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., last July 30.

Alvarado said the annual celebration is a time for estimated 3-Million Bulakenyos to look back at its history can culture.

As a historic province, the governor stressed that Bulacan is the only province in the country that hosted three republics namely, the Cacarong Republic of Pandi, the Biak-Na-Bato Republic and the first Philippine Republic declared by the Philippine Congress at Barasoain Church on January 23, 1897.

Alvarado added that abovementioned historical event is a source of pride for the province which produced heroes and national artists.

With regards to the founding anniversary of the province, he said that for a long time Bulacan traced its founding as a province during the American time.

But research conducted by Drs. Jaime Veneracion, Reynaldo Naguit of the Center for Bulacan Studies and Isagani Giron of the Samahang Pangkasaysayan ng Bulacan (Sampaka) shows that Bulacan is identified as a province as early as 1578.

This is due to a cedulario found by the researchers which states “Provincia De Bulacan” and dated 1578.

With regards to exact date of foundation of Bulacan as a province, Veneracion correlated it with the practice of Spaniard of dedicating the founding a pueblo to the feast of a patron saint.

In the case of Bulacan it is the Nuestra Senora de Asuncion, which is also the patron saint of Bulakan town, the first capital of the province. Dino Balabo

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

PhilRice advancing research on organic farming

As the country sees the prospect of achieving 103-percent rice self-sufficiency for the first semester of this year, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the country’s lead in rice science and development, is strengthening its researches on organic rice farming to help sustain the country’s rice production in the coming years.

The rice self-sufficiency projection was stated in a memorandum to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala by Assistant Secretary Dante S. Delima and recently presented to Manila-based reporters.

With its new advocacy, Clean, green, practical, and smart farming for competitiveness, sustainability, and resiliency (Clean GPS for CSR), PhilRice continues to develop and evaluate new and farmers’ practices that will optimize organic rice farming.

“Organic farming is not only about applying manure and rice-straw in the field. There’s science in it. It is our aim to make farmers and extension workers understand the science of organic farming to avoid misinterpretations,” Ed Libetario, branch manager of PhilRice in Negros Occidental, said. PhilRice converted this station to be its center for organic rice farming last year.

To help farmers get the most from organic farming, PhilRice assesses the efficiency of organic matters on rice varieties, identifies the effectiveness of commercially-available compost inoculants and effects of organic rice cultures on grain yield and soil, and determines the occurrence and distribution of pest in organic rice ecosystems.

Studies on managing insect pests through microbial control agents and traditional plants are also PhilRice priorities in its research on organic rice farming.

Furthermore, PhilRice, which was recently cited for meeting at least 90 percent of its targets in 2012, conducts a long-term study on the use of organic fertilizers. Started in 2003, the study found that in last year’s dry season, plots treated with chicken manure produced the highest yield at about 7 t/ha.

However, the yield is not significantly different from rice plots applied with fresh rice straw, rice straw with effective microorganism base inoculants, and wild sunflower. The lowest yield, about 5 t/ha, was harvested from plots applied with commercial organic fertilizers.

With the high yield potential of rice varieties, which demands higher nutrient inputs, PhilRice researchers are identifying whether pure organic-based nutrient application will be enough to gain the highest yield that can be harvested from rice varieties.

Libetario said that understanding the relationship among the varieties, soils, and farm conditions are crucial for better organic rice production.

“When farmers do organic rice farming, they must not only look in the nutrients to be applied, but the entire farm ecosystem. It’s not enough that farmers know the quantity of organic fertilizers to be applied, but also how to manage these contents to lessen the toxicity they emit to the environment.  Remember that manure contains methane, (which is more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide),” he explained.

Libetario added that through researches, “clean, green, practical, and smart” organic rice farm practices will soon be developed and promoted to the farmers by PhilRice.

While the research on organic rice farming is ongoing, PhilRice advocates the balanced use of organic and inorganic nutrients, not only to cut costs but to make rice farming more sustainable.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

End impunity, lawyers urged PNoy

The Dutch foundation Lawyers for Lawyers warns in an open letter to President Aquino of the Philippines for the continued labeling of lawyers as enemies of the state by the military. 

This month, Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes reportedly branded the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)  as an ‘enemy’ in reaction to  NUPL’s criticism on the promotion of an army general who is facing credible charges of human rights violations. Gen. Coballes was quoted as saying: "You don’t expect any positive statement from the enemy”. 

The practice of labeling – combined with the culture of impunity and the military involvement in politics – has in the past been  identified by national and international fact finding commissions as one of the main root causes for the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines since 2001. 

At least 23 lawyers were killed from 2001 to 2009. Many of them were labeled  as  ‘enemies of the state’ prior to being attacked,  apparently because they were identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of performing their professional duties. 

So far, only one person has been convicted for these killings and this occurred in 2006. Lawyers for Lawyers also notes that Filipino lawyers increasingly fear for being silenced by fabricated charges. There is an imminent threat that Edre Olalia, a prominent human rights lawyer and a founding member of NUPL, faces clearly false charges as a result of exercising his legal profession.  

Atty. Olalia, together with other lawyers from the NUPL, deals with high profile cases in the field of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, demolitions of houses of the urban poor, privatization of government hospitals as well as cases related to various mass and people’s organizations.  

Lawyers for Lawyers calls on the Philippine government to immediately and seriously protect and support all lawyers in the Philippines and take all measures necessary to stop the culture of impunity surrounding the acts of harassment and killings of members of the legal profession.

Third Filipino journalist slain in space of two days

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that photo-journalist Mario Sy was fatally shot yesterday in his home in General Santos City, in the far-south province of South Cotabato, by a gunman who immediately fled.

Sy was the third journalist to be gunned down in the Philippines in the space of two days.

“As in the double-murder of Bonifacio Loreto and Richard Kho just two days before, the method used in the Sy murder shows that he was clearly targeted,”  Reporters Without Borders said.

“We urge investigators not to neglect the possibility that these journalists were killed in connection with his work, and we urge the authorities to put all the necessary resources at their disposal, so that they can identify those responsible for these cold-blooded murders and bring them so justice

“If suspicions are confirmed, Sy’s death brings to six the number of journalists killed in connection with their work so far this year in the Philippines. This puts it among the world’s deadliest countries for media personnel, alongside Syria and Pakistan. This is unacceptable. Impunity breeds more violence, which will only be stopped by exemplary punishments.”
Sy was shot twice by an unidentified individual who had entered his home. The Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility today quoted relatives as saying Sy had drawn attention to drug trafficking in his photo-reporting. The media he worked for including Sapol News Bulletin, a local newspaper.

Loreto and Kho, who worked for the Aksyon Ngayon newspaper, were shot in Quezon City, on the northern island of Luzon, on 30 July by two gunmen who immediately fled.

Philippines is ranked 140th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.