In the culminating program of the ‘2015 Cordillera Month’ celebration, last July 2015, Sen. Aquilino D.L. Pimentel III encouraged the Cordillerans to “jump out of the box and think of innovative ideas to improve the Cordillera advocacy and legislation for regional autonomy,” so that “we can see the birth of the Cordillera Autonomous Region in our lifetime.”
This was after the Cordillera Region’s failure to ratify the two organic acts in 1989 and 1997 that would have created the Cordillera Autonomous Region. The Senator noted that only a few people were aware of the implications of regional autonomy and how it could lead to modernization and development.
Local and international experts on public administration, culture and history, as well as finance and economy, all agreed that tapping today’s youth is much important to achieve this desire of the Cordillera to achieve autonomy in its dream towards socio-economic development.
Why youth?
Dr. Alex Brillantes, Jr., a Commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said that it is because the youth is mainly the ones who will gain from the government that will be in placethat they will become the future leaders.
Many students from the region may not realize this, not until someone older than them encourages them to start building their dreams for a brighter and grown up Cordillera.
According to him, the over 30,000 population of the state universities and colleges in the region is a good number to start the autonomy campaign of the region. This will make the students agents of change in themselves, convincing also their families and the communities where they belong. They have to realize that they are influential to a certain extent.He said it must be clear to them what the region wants, separation from the State or mere devolution of key powers, because all powers and functions as well as resources must not only be concentrated in Imperial Manila.
Prof. Santos Jose Dacanay, a financial and economic expert from the University of the Philippines (UP), cited autonomy will allow the regional government to have greater control of the region’s resources and equitably distribute the same with lesser restraint from the national government.
In an autonomous set up, aside from the IRA and locally generated revenues of local governments, they will also be entitled to certain shares from national wealth taxes, amusement revenues, among others that will contribute increasing their revenues that could in turn be used to finance the implementation of priority development projects and improve the delivery of basic services to the Cordilleran people, not only for the people living in the metro.
He furthermore admitted that the region is rich in resources that once appropriately exploited and developed could significantly contribute in the country’s overall growth and development.
On the other hand, Steven Rood, a culture and history expert said that Cordillera autonomy is attainable if concerned stakeholders will be united in voicing out their concerns to the national government and must avoid divisiveness as this will make the national government approve not the proposal to establish an autonomous region in the Cordillera.
I, myself, witnessed the growth of Metro Manila and its nearby provinces. It’s time that the other regions in the country experience the benefits of living in the more superior cities and provinces in the country. The national government should appreciate the efforts of the Cordilleran people and grant them an opportunity to develop competency.
After all, we all pay taxes.

Member-economies of the Asia Pacific economic region have forged a stronger partnership to build a stronger public-private partnership, which seeks to reduce if not eliminate food losses in the supply chain of fishery and livestock sectors, during one of the meetings of the APEC Food Security Week.
During a seminar organized by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Chinese Taipei and the Ministry for Primary Industries of New Zealand with the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) on September 27, 2015, stakeholders from both the public and the private sectors exchanged ideas and experiences to generate policy recommendations, action plans and effective methodologies in order to provide solutions to the global problem on food losses.
With the growing concern for food loss, the Philippines along with other economies deem it necessary to address the issues which contribute to food loss and come up with policies and measures that will address wastage in the agriculture sector, specifically within the livestock and fishing industries.
According to PhilMech Director Rex L. Bingabing there is a need to ensure sufficient supply of affordable, safe and good quality food.
“With the additional new challenges in food production such as climate change, decreasing production area and depletion of natural resources, food loss and food waste must be given serious attention,” he stressed.
Bingabing added that APEC economies have a big role in addressing these challenges since majority of the total global food production comes from the APEC region. “Cooperation of different economies is important,” he said.
As concerned institutions recognize that the problem on food loss and wastage is not the sole problem of the government alone, the private sector is called upon to take action and contribute to the long-term solution.
According to Ms. Dong-Chong Hsiou, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Affairs, Council of Agriculture—Chinese Taipei, the private sector plays a critical role in reducing losses along the supply chain.
“We are positive that this seminar will give value to the inputs and participation of the private sector, and so we encourage you to provide us with more creative and innovative ideas and solutions,” she said.
About 80 delegates from both public and private sectors exchanged information on basic research, current trends, business models, and postharvest technologies in the fishery and livestock industry during the one-day seminar.
Foreign delegates came from Chile, People’s Republic of China, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, The United States, and Vietnam.
From September 27-October 6, 2015, Iloilo City will host a series of food security meetings expected to gather more than 900 delegates including High Level Policy Dialogues on Agricultural Biotechnology, as well as Food Security and Blue Economy. (PhilMech/DA)

Newly-appointed Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mel Senen S. Sarmiento said that city and municipal mayors should make sure the People's Law Enforcement Boards (PLEBs), a mechanism where citizens can lodge their complaints against erring policemen, are functional at the local level.
"Ang People's Law Enforcement Board ay sumbungan dapat ng mga tao. Sa PLEB, may sumbungan sa batas ang mga tao laban sa mga pulis na abusado," Sarmiento said.
Section 43 of RA 6975 provides for the creation of PLEBs in every city/municipality to conduct hearing and adjudication of citizens' complaints against uniformed members of the Philippine national Police.
In an interview with ANC, the DILG Chief said that under the law, the establishment of PLEBs is mandated to the LGUs who have the primary responsibility of making sure the Boards are functioning in their areas of jurisdictions.
"Hindi alam ng tao kung saan sila tatakbo. Kung saan-saan tuloy sila napupunta. Sa PLEB, pwede kang magsumbong ng tiwaling pulis at hearing kaagad yan pag may basehan. If there is no basis for the complaint, it will be dismissed. Not all (police) are penalized. But the Board can suspend erring police right away," he said.
Among the powers of the PLEBs are the following: investigating and adjudicating all administrative charges formally filed with, or referred to it, against any PNP member, and to impose corresponding penalties that ranges from the withholding of the privileges, restriction to specified limits, suspension or forfeiture of salary or fine, demotion in rank of not more than one rank or dismissal from the service of the erring police.
The PLEBs are also empowered to administer oaths, summon witnesses, and require the production of documents, records, books, and the like under the subpoena duces tecum.
Sarmiento said the LGUs are also mandated to include in their annual budget an allocation for the maintenance and operation of their local PLEBs.
Sec. 72 of RA 8551 states that the Sangguniang Panglungsod or Sangguniang Bayan in every city and municipality shall create at least one PLEB for every 500 police officers in a city or municipality and for each of the legislative districts in a city. PLEBs shall be composed of any member of the Sangguniang Panglungsod or Sangguniang Bayan chosen by their respective Sanggunians, any barangay captain of the city or municipality chosen by the Association of Barangay Captains, and three (3) other members from the private sector and among the respected members of the community known for their probity and integrity with three years term of office.
According to the law, the DILG and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shall withhold the release of the LGUs' share in the national taxes in cities and municipalities still without PLEBs.

 

Secretary Mel Senen S. Sarmiento of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recently recognized 24 barangay justice committees or Lupong Tagapamayapa that were declared winners in the ‘Lupong Tagapamayapa Incentives Awards’ (LTIA), held September 28, 2015, at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.
“I commend our winners for their diligent efforts to amicably settle disputes at the barangay level and for carrying out the objectives of the Katarungang Pambarangay (KP) or barangay justice system,” said Sarmiento.
“My special congratulation also goes to Brgy. San Vicente in Butuan City for bagging the LTIA National Award in the Highly Urbanized Cities Category for two consecutive years, and becoming the sole Hall of Fame Awardee,” he said.
The LTIA, established pursuant to Executive Order 394 in 1997, aims to institutionalize a system of granting economic benefits to outstanding lupons, strengthen the KP as an indigenous conflict resolution structure at the grassroots, and generate awareness and support on the KP as a potent vehicle toward social order and human development.
A National Awards Committee composed of officials from the DILG, Department of Justice (DOJ), Supreme Court (SC), National Police Commission (Napolcom) and Liga ng mga Barangay (LnB) chose the winners from around 40,000 lupons nationwide based on the following criteria: a) Efficiency in Operations b) Effectiveness in Securing the Objectives of the KP Program; and c) Creativity and Resourcefulness of the Lupong Tagapamayapa.
"The Lupong Tagapamayapa is a big help not just in the speedy administration of justice in the barangays. It has also been a big aid to unclog our courts and allowed the government to save billions," the DILG Secretary said.
Records show that out of 461,489 total number of disputes across all barangays nationwide in 2014, 76% or 350,554 of these were settled by the lupons and only 18,199 of these disputes reached court. This led to an estimated government savings of amounting to almost P3-billion.
For 2013, Brgy. Cataning in Balanga City, Brgy. Kitang II/Luz, Limay, Bataan, Brgy. Ambassador in Tublay, Benguet bagged the Outstanding Lupong Tagapamayapa award for the component cities, first to third class municipality, and fourth to sixth class municipality categories, respectively.
First and second runner-up winners in their respective categories are: (Highly Urbanized Cities) Brgy. East Bajac-Bajac, Olongapo City and Brgy. Katangawan, General Santos City; (Component Cities Category) Brgy. 1, San Lorenzo in Laoag City and Brgy. Dagupan Central in Tabuk City; (1st- 3rd Class Municipality Category) Brgy. Poblacion in Polomolok, South Cotabato and Brgy. Tinongdan in Itogon, Benguet; (4th-6th Municipality) Brgy. Hingatungan in Silago, Southern Leyte and Brgy. Poblacion, Bacuag, Surigao del Norte.
For 2014, the outstanding lupons in their respective categories are: Brgy. Cataming, Balanga City, Bataan (component cities); Brgy. Poblacion, Polomolok, South Cotabato (1st-3rd Class Municipalities); and Brgy. Hingatungan Silago, Southern Leyte (4th-6th Class Municipalities).
First and second runners-up are: (Highly Urbanized Cities) Brgy. Katangawan in General Santos City and Brgy. Adiaon in Cebu City; (Component Cities) Brgy. 1, San Lorenzo in Laoag City and Brgy. Dagupan Centro in Tabuk City; (1st-3rd Class Municipalities) Brgy. Kitang II/Luz in Limay, Bataan and Brgy. Patagueleg in Penablanca, Cagayan; (4th-6th Class) Brgy. Ambassador, Tublay in Benguet and Brgy. Poblacion in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte.
Each of the National Winners as well as the Hall of Famer received a cash prize of Php300,000 and a trophy, while the first and second runners-up received P100,000 and P75,000, respectively, courtesy of the DILG.
This year's awarding ceremony coincided with the 2015 National Assembly of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas (LnB).

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to implement a financing model to improve credit access for small farmers participating in the agribusiness value chain.
The implementation of the program was signaled by the turnover of P40-million worth of funds by the DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) to the Philippine Postal Savings Bank, Inc. (Postbank) on September 18, 2015. Agriculture Secretary and ACPC chair Proceso Alcala had likewise signed the implementing guidelines of the AFPP.
Alcala said the ACPC Governing Council’s approval of the AFFP-VCFP underscores the importance of putting in place a viable agricultural value chain financing model which can be adopted by mainstream financing institutions.
“With improved credit access, the program hopes to enhance farmers’ production capacities, productivity, and incomes. It also intends to contribute to the national government’s goal of promoting inclusive growth,” Alcala said.
The value chain approach capitalizes on existing business linkages between farmer-producers and traders or processors to lessen credit risk. This approach in agricultural financing is recognized globally as one of the schemes that have potential in promoting inclusive growth in rural areas.
Under the AFFP-VCFP, the initial funding of P40 million from ACPC will be used to support the implementation of a value chain financing facility for individual farmers or farmer groups registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) and market tie-up with established buyers. The Postbank will also match the loan fund with its counterpart fund equivalent to at least the amount of loans availed of under the program.
The additional funding support from the ACPC will enable Postbank to sustain its value chain financing activities for small corn farmers in Zamboanga del Norte and Bukidnon. This will ensure that the productivity of corn farmers, hence providing the supply of corn grains needed by the ZGI.
The Program will be implemented in the DA’s priority areas, initially in the provinces of Bukidnon and Zamboanga del Norte. Other provinces may be covered subject to criteria to be set by the DA.
Alcala also wants other commodities such as cassava, rubber, banana, and cacao to later be considered for inclusion under the program, which will be implemented within a one-year period.
The Postbank was selected to be the program partner for the AFFP-VCFP as it is already implementing a corn value chain project with the ZDMC Grains, Inc. (ZGI) in Zamboanga del Norte. The production-processing-bulk handling-marketing project, which is aligned with the DA’s corn development roadmap, is implemented in Zamboanga del Norte and Bukidnon.
The AFFP is one of the programs under the Agro-Industry Modernization Credit and Financing Program (AMCFP), the umbrella credit program of the DA for agriculture and fisheries. The VCFP, on the other hand, is one of the credit facilities under the AFFP.
Other credit programs being implemented by the ACPC under the AFFP are the AFFP Sikat Saka II, Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP), ACPC-PCFC AFFP Agri-Microfinance Program (AMP) II, Cooperative Banks Agri-Lending Program (CBAP) II and Climate Change Adaptation Financing Program (CCAFP).

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