National News Regional News



PHILIPPINE Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan on Thursday said the February sales of Lotto products have dropped by 39.19 percent, but he clarified that this is only temporary since the lottery products are “jackpot-dri”

“Sales for the month of February declined by 39.19 percent, registering only P1,587,785,710 sales compared to the same period last year with P2,611,320,180. Of all Lotto products, Ultra Lotto 6/58 had the highest drop by 60.11 percent with only P166,254,440 sales, compared with P416,886,040 sales last year,” said Balutan.

Lotto 6/42 followed by -32.08 percent to P141,526,380 from P208,376,100 sales last year; Mega Lotto 6/45 by -29.03 percent to P151,347,480 from P213,281,080; Super Lotto by -28.32 percent to P146,748,500 from P204,748,760; and Grand Lotto 6/55 by -17.22 percent to P166,990,240 from P201,736,720.

“’Yung Lotto games kasi natin are jackpot-driven sales. Ina-associate kasi natin ‘yan sa jackpot prize natin. Kapag mataas ang jackpot natin, malaki din ‘yung nagiging sales. But we are expecting sales to pick up in the succeeding months,” added Balutan.

As for digit games, 3 Digits registered the highest decline by 51.97 percent to P342,821,210 from P713,824,280; followed by EZ2 by -28.36 percent to P421,705,720 from P588,685,380; 4-Digits by -22.74 percent to P32,463,880 from P42,022,850; and 6-Digits by 17.60 percent to P17,927,860 from P21,759,320.

Keno sales also declined by 50.37 percent to P219,643,880 from P442,580,610.

Last January, Balutan reported a P1,930,393,950 overall sales for Lotto and digit games, which is 30 percent lower compared to the same period last year.

“As I said earlier, we won’t be expecting much, much higher revenues this year. Hindi na gaanong tataas. Baka nga mag-plateau na ang sales natin. Ma-maintain lang natin ‘yung P63.55 billion o umangat lang ng konti eh matindi na ‘yun. There is no possibility na ma-i-angat pa natin ang kakayahan natin, but sales will definitely pick up in the coming months kapag tumaas ang ating jackpot prize. Hindi naman kasi pwedeng walang manalo,” said Balutan.

Arnel Casas, Assistant General Manager for Gaming Sector, identified two factors why sales declined this month: Jackpot prize and tax.

“One of the reasons for such low sales for the first two months in 2019 was we currently do not have high jackpot amount up for grabs and its really mind blowing that in a span of two months, there were 16 winners that hit the jackpot for various lotto games,” said Casas.

Casas revealed that for many lotto players, having a minimum jackpot amount for lotto games does not usually entice players. They tend to play when jackpot prize increases and accumulates, and it only happens when it is not being hit or won.

“Another reason that contributes to low sales is the implementation of TRAIN (or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) law, which we are trying to counter with the implementation of ‘balik-taya’,” added Casas.

The implementation of TRAIN law in 2017 brought about harsh taxes to personal income tax, estate tax, donor’s tax, value added tax (VAT), the excise tax of petroleum products, automobiles, sweetened beverages, cosmetic procedures, coal, mining, and tobacco, including PCSO’s document stamp tax (DST),

Under the new TRAIN law, lottery tickets were subject to higher DST prompting PCSO to impose a new price scheme for Lotto and other gaming ticket prices from P5 to P6, P10 to P12, and P20 to P24.

The TRAIN law also imposed a 20-percent tax on winnings of more than P10,000 from Lotto, Keno, Small Town Lottery (STL), sweepstakes, and other PCSO products. (PCSO release)

Benguet Business Cordillera Features National News Regional News Uncategorized


Auto Draft

By Larry T. Lopez

Benguet (PIA)– Coffee lovers say a cup of coffee in the morning makes your day.

But coffee drinkers would claim, it’s up to your coffee!

Well, coffee experts say the best Arabica coffee in the Philippines is grown in the highlands, particularly in the province of Benguet.

Produced in the upland farms of Atok, Itogon, La Trinidad, Tuba, Kibungan, and Tublay in Benguet, this variety of coffee blends well with the upland climate to produce the country’s top-coffee blend. Because of distinct taste and quality, Benguet Arabica Coffee is now a leading coffee brand in the market.

During the 3rd Philippine Coffee Conference held in Baguio City in March last year, Benguet-grown Arabica coffee emerged as the champion for the best Arabica coffee in the country, besting entries from other regions. Judges, international and local coffee experts, unanimously voted for the Arabica coffee entry of Oliver Oliem of Caliking, Atok, that blends the characteristics of apricot, lemongrass, pomelo, oolong Tea and the aroma of a rose, as the best.

Other Benguet coffee entries that won in the 2018 Philippine Coffee Quality Competition were those of Restie Labi Tacio of Atok, and Belen Macanes of Sagpat, Kibungan in third and fifth places, respectively.

What brings the distinctive taste of Benguet Arabica coffee?

Oliver Oliem, chair of the Cordillera Regional Coffee Council, elaborated how the distinct and great taste of their produce had pushed the coffee industry to be now the province’s booming industry.

Oliem explained the entire system in production tells it all.

Grown from seedlings of their own nurseries, farmers grow their coffee plants through pure organic farming without using pesticides or any chemical input. He shared that Benguet farmers practice multi-cropping in their coffee lands by planting other crops in between coffee trees like anthurium, strawberries and vegetables to add more income.

During harvest, usually in the months of November to March, farmers do not strip-off the coffee beans. They pick only the ripened ones one by one, leaving the unripe beans. This assures that the beans come from selected pick.

In drying, farmers adapt elevated-drying system where de-hulled coffee beans are spread on drying beds, instead of just putting them on the ground. This way, the beans are kept away from soil microbes making it arsenic-free adding a factor to its distinct taste, Oliem said.

Shirley Palao-ay, President of the Tuba Benguet Coffee Growers Association, Inc. (TUBENGCOGA), informed that among Benguet coffee farmers, the production of ‘honey-blend’ Arabica coffee is gaining headway.

Processors do not wash hulled beans before drying to retain the natural sugar in their coffee-produce. Even without sweetening, this brewed coffee comes naturally sweet, she said.

Dry coffee beans sell from P300/kg-P350/kg among traders, which sometimes even go higher.

Oliem noted the price is dictated based on the coffee grade given by trained cup Q-graders, who classify the quality of the coffee.

Growing industry
With the fast-growing market of the Benguet Arabica Coffee caused by increasing demand in the market, the 300 coffee farmers of Benguet grew to be more than a thousand in five years.

The coffee industry is becoming a lucrative source of income among farmers in the province. This translates to more families being able to send their children to college, more families having better homes and more families assured of brighter future.

Oliem acknowledged the coffee industry of Benguet has not reached this far without interventions from government agencies like the Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Training Institute, Benguet State University, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agrarian Reform and PhilMech thru their support-programs on certified seedling production, organic farming, improved post-harvest facilities and marketing promotion. (JDP/LL-PIA CAR)

Business National News

PCSO gets ISO 9001:2015 certification

PCSO gets ISO 9001:2015 certification

MANDALUYONG CITY, Philippines–Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan on Monday said that the agency has been awarded with the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System certification that is focused on leadership, risk-based thinking, and context of the organization.

“ISO 9001 is the title of an ISO standard that outlines the requirements an organization must maintain in its quality system. ISO 9001:2015 is the current version of the standard. It helps agencies or companies meet their customers’ requirements for our products/services while fulfilling regulatory requirements,” said Balutan.

The PCSO was certified under the ISO 9001-2008 Quality Management System Certification by third-party auditor TUV Rheinland Philippines in December 2016 for the conduct and management of the online lottery draws and processing of prize claims amounting to P5,000 and above and support processes. For the past three years, PCSO has maintained its certification.

“ISO certification gives confidence to our public that they have equal chances of winning and that we have strict implementation when it comes to our draw procedures. It also gives us the chance to be at par with other gaming counterparts all over the world,” Balutan added.

Aimee C. De Viterbo, officer-in-charge on Gaming Technology Department of PCSO, explained that the ISO mandates every organization to transition from the 2008 to the 2015 version of the standard to make its processes relevant and compliant with the requirements of the new version of the standard.

In order for the PCSO to be compliant with the new thrust of the standard, PCSO included the Process of the Medical Services Department (MSD) – Out Patient Medical Services as part of its core processes.

“As we endeavor to comply with the requirements of the standard, we had to improve our core and support processes. It is the requirement of the standard that each organization certified under the QMS to continuously improve,” said De Viterbo.

National News Opinion


Ressa’s Orange County, New York home, according to ‘Google Street View’; inset, facsimile of a US firm’s report on her voter registration (exact address blocked out).

By Rigoberto D. Tiglao

OR con woman, con person. Whatever.

Rappler CEO and Editor in chief Maria Aycardo Ressa has successfully fooled Western media that she is a Filipino journalist with little means who is fighting her country’s authoritarian President bent on suppressing media dissent.

The reality is that she is a well-off American citizen, who acquired Filipino citizenship in 2004 to make it legally easier for her to work as a manager at ABS-CBN Broadcasting, a media company where foreigners are banned by the Constitution from participating.

The Rappler website she claims to be leading the fight against a strongman President was set up in 2011, initially as a weapon for President Aquino’s assault against the Supreme Court by removing Chief Justice Renato Corona.

It was its reckless, journalistically unprofessional undertaking of that role that got it in serious legal trouble. It posted a libelous report that Corona was using an SUV provided by a businessman, whom it identified by name and whom it claimed was engaged in “human trafficking and drug smuggling.” The businessman of course was so angry to be maligned as such, and filed the libel suit.

After that aim of removing the Chief Justice was achieved, Rappler has been the Yellow regime’s apologist, financed in so many ways by government contracts and a Yellow oligarch’s covert financial support.

US mouthpiece
Parallel to that role has been its function as the mouthpiece for US interests, its neoconservative ideology and its anti-China racism, compensated by a P100-million funding from American outfits North Base Media and Omidyar Network, two entities known to advance US political and economic dogmas in the world. (Omidyar Network promised to bankroll Ressa’s legal defense with a $500,000 kitty.)

That got Rappler into another serious legal trouble. First, in taking that foreign money, it violated the Constitution’s ban on foreign participation in media, a fact which Ressa appears to have been ignorant of as Rappler even boasted about it in an article.

Ressa tried to wiggle out of that legal trouble by claiming that the investment was in the form of securities. But she only dug her quagmire even deeper, as Rappler failed to pay capital gains taxes of P133 million in issuing those securities.

She’s lied to the world to cover up these boo-boos, claiming these suits were simply Duterte’s way of shutting her up.

Ressa has taken her citizenship duties quite seriously — her American citizenship, that is. She has voted in nearly all US national elections, the last one on Nov. 18, 2016 for the presidential elections that year. She has never voted in Philippine elections.

Under US protection
Contrary to her portrayal as a hapless journalist struggling against a powerful state, she is under the protection of the world’s most powerful nation, the US, whose embassy here quickly issued a statement after her arrest that it expected Ressa’s case “to be resolved quickly in accordance with relevant Philippine law and international standards of due process.”

Unless she perjured herself in her US voter’s registration, Ressa’s residence is in an upper-class suburb in Monroe, Orange County in New York. The median income in
Ressa’s neighborhood is $160,000, according to US census data, putting her in the top 8-percent income bracket in the US. A property a block away from Ressa’s residence was being advertised for sale at $520,000 (P27 million).

For the CEO of a website that provides beggarly salaries to its staff, who are told that they are part of a glorious crusade, Ressa, sources claimed, lives in a posh Bonifacio Global Village condominium, where the rent is at least P150,000 per month.

What bolsters the truth of this claim is that Ressa went to the extent of violating the Securities and Exchange Commission’s reportorial requirements and refused to report her residence. In documents submitted to the SEC, in which incorporators of Rappler Inc. and then Rappler Holdings are required to report their residences, Ressa reported hers as Rappler’s first headquarters (at Antel Global Center), instead of her residence.

A fraud
We have to report details on Ressa to expose her as a fraud, as she hasn’t let up on her campaign to paint the country black, as one moving towards dictatorship and successfully suppressing the press.

Only a week ago, the New York Times prominently run a front-page article titled “A Journalist Trolled by Her Own Government,” with its lead paragraph being: “Harassing journalists is one of Rodrigo Duterte’s specialties.”

How many of the NYT’s 5 million print and digital subscribers in the US and in the world will bother to investigate if the article’s preposterous claims on this unimportant country are accurate? How many will simply accept the “venerable” Times’ claims on bad things supposedly happening in this far-off country?

Ressa’s claim that she is “trolled by her government” has been totally disproven with a recent unprecedented development: Over 40,000 (as of submission deadline for this column) Filipinos here and in the US have signed a petition through the unassailable asking the Justice department to revoke her Filipino citizenship. Can she claim these 40,000 are Duterte trolls?

Just to cover up for her website’s libelous articles, and her boo-boo as a CEO that led to tax-evasion charges, Ressa has seriously damaged the Philippines’ and its media’s reputation in the world.

In contrast to Ressa, the owners of the Philippine Daily Inquirer — which had been more critical of Duterte — when faced with a tax-evasion case and told to relinquish their hold on a lucrative government-owned Mile Long property, didn’t cry to the world that theirs was a case of press suppression.

Since she is an American, we can’t expect Ressa to have a sense of delicadeza. Whether the libel suit was under Duterte’s direction or not, the Rappler report claiming a businessman was into “human trafficking and illegal drugs” was so patently libelous, which Ressa as the site’s editor should not have allowed to be posted, and even updated.

Contrast her stance to that of former Top Gear Philippines editor Vernon Sarne who immediately resigned his post, when faced with a libel suit that appeared to have some validity.

Ressa has been able to get away with her lies partly because, especially in the case of American media, such claims fit their narrative — after Duterte expressed his disdain toward the US and launched his war against illegal drugs — of a global drift towards authoritarianism. Western journalists, since the Philippines is really an unimportant country for them in their world, have been too lazy to fact-check Ressa’s false claims.

In all of Western media’s unquestioning coverage of Ressa’s claims, there is absolutely no report at all on who filed the cyber-libel suit against her and what the charges entail. They simply swallowed hook, line and sinker Ressa’s claim that the charge was merely Duterte’s way of harassing Rappler, for its “critical” coverage of his administration.

Not a single Western article reported that Rappler’s libelous article was posted as part of its enthusiastic, mercenary participation in Aquino 3rd’s campaign to remove Chief Justice Corona, or that the tax-evasion case was because of its attempt to wiggle out of the constitutional ban on foreigners in media.

Ressa also speaks the way Americans do, and as a former broadcast journalist she knows how to use sound-bites, such as “hold the line” and “weaponizing” laws.

Ressa is an American citizen who even conscientiously votes in US elections, and has an upper-class residence in New York. Except once in 2004, she uses a US passport in her numerous travels to her country and in the world.

US media and even the American embassy swiftly went to her defense when an arrest warrant was issued against her. Rappler is funded by US entities, and has always echoed American views, especially that on the South China Sea territorial disputes.

There is a certainly a case for the claim that Rappler has been the US’ media instrument in the Philippines, much more intrusive and dangerous as it is in the new media of the world wide web.

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao

*** The original copy of this article appeared in The Manila Times and was re-posted here with the authorization of the Author ***

Business National News


DOST-TAPI Director Edgar I. Garcia expects more collaboration with other councils and agencies

by: Maricon R. Avila

IN AN effort to improve and boost technology assessment, the Technology Application and Promotion Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-TAPI) in partnership with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) conducted the “First Technology Assessment and Intellectual Property (IP) Rights Protection Forum for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources (AANR) Technologies,” on 25 January 2019 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City.

The forum aims to foster and strengthen the current trends in generation and commercialization as well as IP Protection of AANR technologies in the country.

“This event successfully brought together some of the leading experts in science, technology, and innovation (STI) as well as in technology transfer,” said Mr. Caezar Angelito E. Arceo, Supervising Science Research Specialist and lead organizer of the forum.

“We are honored to stimulate discussions and initially assess research prioritization along AANR areas,” Arceo added.

Also present in the forum were representatives from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), the lead agency in IP registration and IPR conflict resolution in the Philippines.

“Let’s work together in synergizing and synchronizing our efforts to push for an innovation system in support to the country’s economic growth,” said Atty. Mary Grace Cruz-Yap, Director for Documentation, Information and Technology Transfer Bureau of IPOPHL.

Mr. Noel Catibog of DOST-PCAARRD, Atty. Editha Hechanova of the Association of PAQE Professionals, Dr. Linus Plym Forshell of Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV), Atty. Mary Grace Cruz-Yap of IPOPHL, Atty. Bayani Loste of Fortun Narvasa Salazar Law Offices, and DOST-TAPI’s in-house patent agents, Mr. Arceo, Mr. Roberto Verzosa, and Ms. Anna Liza Saet discussed the current trends in the generation and commercialization of AANR technologies in the country.

DOST-TAPI and DOST-PCAARD’s partnership
DOST-PCAARRD Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora hoped that with all the efforts and partnerships in place, the protection and management of IP assets in the Philippines will continue to have an upward trend in the coming years.

“For the past two years, our collaboration with DOST-TAPI has achieved great results including eight technology transfer projects worth 53.4 million pesos,” said Ebora.

“These initiatives fell within the following major areas in technology assessment, prior art search, IP protection, freedom to operate review, technology valuation, business plan, and fairness opinion review,” added Ebora.

Signified by DOST-TAPI and DOST-PCAARRD’s partnership, the inauguration Freedom to Operate (FTO) Unit of DOST-TAPI in 2017 was supported and funded by DOST-PCAARRD.

The FTO determines the practicality of a generated technology to be freely commercialized in the country and avoid the risk of infringing IPR of technologies already present in the local market.

Meanwhile, DOST-TAPI Director Edgar I. Garcia expressed his optimism in finding more partnerships and vibrant collaborations with DOST-PCAARRD, IPOPHL and other partner institutions on scientific explorations in IPR.

“I am expecting that there will be new project or programs that you will forge with DOST-TAPI including other councils to work with us,” said Garcia in his closing remarks.

The forum is one of the many initiatives of the Institute which promotes and intensifies the partnership among actors in the STI ecosystem. (DOST-TAPI S&T Media Service)

La Union National News Regional News


By Joanna D. Sabado and Claire B. Osoteo

SAN FERNANDO CITY (PIA) — A total of 1,312 farmers in La Union now own the land they till after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) distributed Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA).

DAR Secretary John Castriciones led the awarding of 730 CLOA in a turn-over ceremony attended by nearly 2,000 farmers on Feb. 27 at a state university here.

The distributed lands cover more than 757 hectares in the 11 local government units in the province wherein most of which are located in San Fernando City.

Addressing the farmers as “the true heroes of the society”, Castriciones challenged them to help themselves, so they can help uplift their lives and their families.

Secretary John Castriciones awards Certificate of Land Ownership and Acquisition (CLOA) to one of the oldest farmer beneficiary from San Fernando City. (JDS/ PIA- La Union)

“After we have distributed the land, we help empower our farmer beneficiaries by providing them support services to increase their production and household income,” he said.

Among the support services the DAR provides include farm machineries, post-harvest facilities, farm-to-market roads, and trainings on entrepreneurship.

He likewise mentioned of the Accessible and Sustainable Lending Program for Small Farmers, in partnership with Landbank, which provides credit at a reasonable interest rate of six percent per annum.

“We have long waited for this and now the CLOA are with us. Our eagerness to till and improve our lands are levelled-up,” Melvin Gacayan, village chief of Pao Sur in San Fernando City and one of the beneficiaries, said in local dialect.

Further, officers of Barangay Agrarian Reform Communities in 576 villages were sworn into office by the secretary as part of the event.

Nine farmer-beneficiaries from the Sta. Cecilia Producers Cooperative in Aringay town also received P500,000-worth of cattle, as assistance to typhoon Ompong-affected residents.

In a recently signed order by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, government-owned lands suitable for agriculture must be identified for distribution to qualified farmer beneficiaries.

The secretary announced that around 600,000 hectares of land nationwide will still be distributed to landless farmers. (JNPD/JDS/COB-intern/PIA-1, La Union)


National News Regional News Sports


By Freddie G. Lazaro

LAOAG CITY (PIA) – – It’s all systems go for the opening of the weeklong 2019 Region 1 Athletic Association (R1AA) Meet at the Marcos Stadium on Wednesday.

Faivo Bartolome, sports consultant of Ilocos Norte, said the provincial government of Ilocos Norte and the Department of Education-Schools Division of Ilocos Norte (DepEd-SDOIN) are ready to welcome the expected 10,300 delegates to the prestigious regional sports tournament re-slated on March 6-11.

Originally, the R1AA Meet was set on March 3-8 but it was postponed due to the increasing number of measles cases in the region.

Upon the recommendation of the Department of Health-Regional Office 1 (DOH-RO1), the R1AA board of directors decided to delay the regional sports event to ensure the health and safety of the delegates, and to allot time for sufficient immunization of communities at billeting schools and playing venues.

Bartolome assured that the preparations for the regional sporting event are the same, and he declared that the province is “one hundred percent ready.”

Starting Feb. 28, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) has been conducting immunization activities to protect the athletes and the local community from possible transmission of measles.

Dr. Rodolfo Ragadi of PHO- Ilocos Norte said, “The PHO is very busy since we persistently visit the areas in Ilocos Norte, particularly in the billeting areas and playing venues, to provide vaccination and to prevent the spread of measles. I hope that other provinces also do this for their athletes’ preparation in the R1AA Meet.”

Meanwhile, Schools Division Superintendent Vilma Eda encourages an environment-friendly conduct of the event by requiring the delegates to bring their personal water bottle, food container, and abandoning the utilization of single-use plastics.

Lawyer Revsee A. Escobedo, assistant secretary for procurement service and project management service of the DepEd, is expected to grace the opening of the tournament. (JNPD/FGL,PIA-1)

Abra Business Cordillera Features National News Regional News


With an entrance fee of Php 20.00 only, the Amsterdam-like Tulip Garden of Bucay, Abra gets more than 300 visitors from the entire Luzon daily. (CAGT PIA-CAR,Abra)

By Christian Allister G. Tubadeza
BUCAY, Abra(PIA) — The Layugan Garden in the town of Bucay is the newest attraction in the province averaging about 300 tourists a day.

With its 10,000 artificial tulips in vibrant colors, it is attractive in the day and especially at night when lighted.

Tulip LED flowers in different colors- red, yellow, pink, white and blue – are beautifully arranged in an elevated land.

Owned and managed by Mr. Jun Baroña, the Layugan Garden is located in barangay Layugan; about 10 minutes drive from the poblacion. It opened just last January 14 and instantly became a tourist destination.

In an interview with Bucay Tourism Officer Roger Bernal, he said the tulip garden is one of the steps of the local government in nurturing the tourism industry of the municipality.

The establishment of the Layugan Garden was inspired by the visit of Bucay Mayor Bernadette Baroña to the Sirao Garden in Cebu.

Bernal said that as more people come to see the garden, the local government unit beefs up the maintenance of peace and security especially this month of February.

“The management allowed souvenir and food stands in the vicinity of the garden for the general convenience of our visitors and to carry out business opportunities as well for the people of Barangay Layugan,” he said.

The garden regularly opens at 9:00AM with an entrance fee of Php 20.00 only and Php 30.00 in the evening. It would not close as long as there are still visitors at night, Bernal said.
To get there, tourists may ride the buses going to Bangued, then take the jeepneys going to Bucay which is less than an hour trip.

Those with private cars going to Bangued, turn right just after the Sinalang Bridge for about 20-25 minutes drive to Bucay town proper, then about 10 minutes drive to the Layugan Garden.

Aside from the Layugan Garden, visitors may also visit other tourists attractions in the municipality such as the Banglolao viewdeck, Pakiling Cave of Roces, Bucay Casa Real and the Borikibok Spring resort. (JDP/ MTBB/CAGT – PIA CAR, Abra)

Central Luzon National News Regional News

PDEA to ‘cleanse’ 827 drug-affected barangays in Central Luzon

PDEA to ‘cleanse’ 827 drug-affected barangays in Central Luzon
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Regional Director Gil Pabilona talks about the “harsher” strategies they will employ against illegal drugs to cleanse 827 drug-affected barangays in the region in 2019 during the News@Hues Press Conference of the Pampanga Press Club. (Marie Joy L. Simpao/PIA 3)

By Marie Joy L. Simpao
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will ‘cleanse’ a total of 827 drug-affected barangays in Central Luzon this year.

“Our marching order is to rid 2,439 barangays of illegal drugs and its related activities until 2022, and we will start with 827 barangays this 2019,” PDEA Regional Director Gil Pabilona said.

To meet this target, PDEA will employ harsher campaign against illegal drugs.

“Since this is considered a national security threat, more government resources will now be used for the campaign. Instead of limited resources from PDEA and Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as well as other government agencies may also be tapped for various initiatives,” he said.

At the regional level, Pabilona said they will seek the help of local chief executives and barangay captains by furnishing them with the list of wanted personalities so they can conduct monitoring and arrests at their respective areas.

The director added that they will coordinate with Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to monitor the functionality of Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (ADACs) and see to it that they conduct regular meetings, submit watchlist reports, and have rehabilitation programs.

These ADACs, he said, will also help the villages meet 14 parameters for a drug-cleared barangay including the absence of drug pushers, users and dens; and presence of community-based programs.

“We are also tasked to focus our operations in seaports, airports and shorelines,” Pabilona added.

Another proposed program of PDEA is the establishment of rehabilitation centers to cater to minors involved in illegal drug trade.

As of February 22, Pabilona said the PDEA had cleared 119 of 709 villages of the drug menace in Nueva Ecija, 118 of 385 in Pampanga, 116 of 118 in Bataan, 43 of 185 in Zambales, 110 of 392 in Tarlac, 35 of 507 in Bulacan, 54 of 96 in Aurora, 2 of 31 in Angeles City and 1 of 16 in Olongapo City.

Joint operatives of PDEA and PNP were also able to apprehend approximately 200,000 drug personalities in Central Luzon in 2018. (CLJD/MJLS-PIA 3)




Business Central Luzon Culture and Arts National News Regional News


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Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. lauds the annual Ibong Dayo Festival for promoting different bird species migrating at the Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park. Mar Jay S. Delas Alas/PIA 3)

By Mar Jay S. Delas Alas
BALANGA CITY — Ibong Dayo Festival in Balanga City could be an international event in the near future.

In his message during the ninth edition of the festival, Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. praised the role of the city government as well as residents in protecting the wetland and promoting its migratory birds.

“There is a concerted effort among all of us not only the local government, not only the national government, but the community is really part of taking care and protecting our wetlands,” Boncato said.

He expressed support and interest in advancing the festival by adding an international flavor to attract more tourists.

“We also shared with the good Mayor that maybe next year, we gear up and makes this festival known to many more markets,” the Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation Coordination and Resource Generation said.

“We can invite foreign scientists and bird enthusiasts to come and celebrate with us so our Ibong Dayo will not be only for us Filipinos but also for all who appreciate sustainable tourism,” he furthered.

In a recent bird census conducted by Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, about 9,544 birds were seen in the city.

“The arrival of the migratory birds continues in the city varying in terms of numbers for various reasons but the message here is that for as long as we see them here in Balanga, everything is doing well,” Boncato stressed.

Ibong Dayo Festival is an annual event recognizing the different bird species migrating at the Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park in barangay Tortugas.

It is a Hall of Famer in Best Festival-City category of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines. (CLJD/MJSD-PIA 3)[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]