Monday, September 9, 2013

Tun Fun Run kickstarts

General Santos City-The 2013 Tuna Fun Run kickstarted in General Santos City on Sunday, September 7, 2013.

The Run officially started at 4:30 A.M but there was another gunstart at 5:30 A.M. for the other categories.

The Fun Run, which is sponsored by the Notre Dame of Dadiangas “One Damean” Batch 87 as part of their silver jubilee celebration and the Order of Demolay of General Santos, is part of the Tuna Festival held every September of the year.

“We hope to surpass the 1,900 runners last year considering that fun runs are becoming popular these days,” Tuna Run Chairperson Ma. Lourdes L. Libres said. Also acting as Tuna Run chairperson is Bernadette B. Ruivivar.

The Tuna Run 2013 has four categories namely 3K, 5K, 10K, 21K and the 1.6K for parents-and-kids tandems. Among the expected participants are amateurs, professional runners and health buffs. Registration fees are from P200 to P450 with singlet and from Pp50 to P150 without singlet depending on the category (Elementary, College/Adult, Half Marathon and Adult and Child Tandem).

“All runners are expected to be at the Starting Line by 4:30 A.M.,” Libres said. The Fun Run will start and end at the Robinsons Place Gensan Parking Lot.

One Damean President Architect Elwyn Banares said they are determined to make the Tuna Fun Run a yearly event not only to raise funds for a cause but also to promote running as a lifestyle. Two Free Run Clinic lecture and practicum sessions were conducted by the organizers on August 23 to 24 and August 30 to 31. Marathoners Allan C. Delima and Jessie A. Lozada gave the hopeful runners an overview of the benefits of running and some running tricks and tips.

Proceeds of the Tuna Run will go to the Marcellin Foundation, Inc. a halfway home for children in GSC being maintained by the Marist Brothers. The program also provides residential care to the abandoned, neglected, and abused children, and those in conflict with the law. Other beneficiaries are the Notre Dame Holy Rosary Chapel and public schools in Brgy. San Jose, GSC.

Friday, September 6, 2013

4th PhilConstruct opens at SMX Lanang

The 3-day 4th PhilConstruct Mindanao opened its doors to the public at the SMX Convention Center on September 5, Thursday, with 285 booths, putting into perspective the impact of the construction industry on Mindanao’s economic growth.

“We have 700 contractors registered with the Board and 60% are based in Davao,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Davao City Director Teolulo T, Pasawa said Thursday. The distribution of wealth is not trickling down, he said, so it is pulling its resources to the construction industry since it has a bigger multiplier effect.

Event Chairperson Engr. Ramon F. Allado said there may be a similar number of contractors not registered so it is possible that we have at least 2000 contractors here with close to half a million workforce. Mindanao, he said, is the single biggest producer of construction workers who are trained here and are sent to other parts of the country and of the world.

“The construction industry provides money for the local economy with a 15 times minimum multiplier effect in terms of suppliers, workers, lodging establishments and other support facilities,” he said.

Allado said there is a boom in Mindanao construction industry today, especially in Davao. There are two 300-MW coal-powered plants in full construction in the Region today, he said, with Therma South’s project 40% completed and SMC Global Power Holdings Corporation’s project in Malita just starting out. Two more coal-powered plants in Misamis and South Cotabato will start constructing soon, he added. “That’s only the power sector eh yung mining sector pa.”

He said the tourism sector is another big user of the construction industry with various tourism construction projects going on and many that are yet to be developed.

Allado said the Department of Education (DepEd) has completed the public-private partnership (PPP) bidding for 20,000 classrooms in Mindanao. Sector, which comprises almost the other half of Mindanao with 10,000 classrooms to be built in one and a half years.

“All of these spell at least P40 Billion for Mindanao alone,” he said.

The booming construction industry is one of the reasons why the organizers have decided to make PhilConstruct Mindanao a yearly event every September. With more than a hundred innovative suppliers of equipment, technology suppliers, materials and tools, the stakeholders of Mindanao’s construction industry need not go to Manila or Cebu to get the latest in construction technology, he said.

Pasawa said “Davao is a very good market for the construction industry with a 2.4% growth per annum, 1.5 million people and vast availability of land that is seven times larger than Cebu and three times larger than Metro Manila.”

He said the city has a very reliable 24/7 power supply which is also among the country’s cheapest at P6 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) (beaten only by Lanado del Sur) compared to the almost P8 per kwh in Cebu. The city has also consistently ranked at the top of the Most Competitive Cities Survey by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), he added.

Davao City has a very vibrant construction industry, he said, that DTI has established desks and officers for regulatory purposes including the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board which handles registration and the Construction Manpower Development Authority which handles arbitration cases.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WFP expands disaster program in Mindanao to include Climate Change Adaptation

The lack of preparedness for disasters as serious and widespread as typhoons Sendong and Pablo has resulted to massive devastation and to make sure it does not happen again, the World Food Program (WFP) has expanded its Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR) Programme in Mindanao by adding the Climate Change Adaptation Component (CCA).

“This new focus complements WFP’s aim of strengthening the resilience of local government and communities,” WFP Representative and Country Director Praveen K. Agrawal said Tuesday. He said this also supports the provisions of Republic Act 9729 or the Climate Change Act as well as the priorities of the national Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).

The CCA component of the DPR Programme will be piloted in three cities in Mindanao and one city in the Visayas including Davao, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo.

WFPA has launched in June 2013 a one year CCA project in Davao City on “Utilizing Upland Micro-Catchment Water Harvesting Technology” in order to stabilize the slopes and catch rainwater for upland agriculture.

Mr. Agrawal said 10 Micro-Catchment Water Harvesting Systems will be set up in 20 hectares of sloping farms in Davao integrating the Sloping Agricultural Land technology. Under this technology, multi-cropping and riverbank development will be used as comprehensive approaches to ensure the protection and management of the upland environmental ecosystem.

“This is a joint activity with the local government and we are now in the preparation and development stage where we identify the priorities as needed by the communities,” he said. When asked about the total cost of the CCA project in Davao, he said the cost is not important because it can always be adjusted to reflect what the communities really need.

Mr. Agrawal said “We can say the project is worth $100 but what if what is needed is really $1000? Let’s see what the communities really needs and then we will support it.”

The city, which has continuously experienced its own share of flooding in the past years, is also enhancing its flood monitoring system. Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office Chief Pepito Capili said eight water measurement equipment has been installed last month through the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Project Noah. The equipment were installed along the Suawan River, Tamugan, Davao River, Pangi Bridge, Mintal Bridge, Wangan Bridge and Wangan Bridge. Also included are two rain gauges to be installed in Biao which contributes to the Pangi Water System and Baguio Proper.

The city is also in the process of constructing the wireless telemetry system and upgrading the installation of cameras in the city’s major bridges which will provide the Disaster Operations Center with a visual electronic monitoring system to monitor the condition of the rivers.

In Butuan City, Sago Palms and other indigenous trees and shrubs will be used to establish a 10-kilometer long buffer zone or ecobelt along the waterways of the Lower Agusan River to cover three flood-prone barangays. Sago Palms are known to withstand intense typhoon winds, drought and prolonged flooding. These plants can also prevent soil erosion as it has a root system that can trap silt.

WFP plans to raise the level of awareness in the community on the importance of planting Sago Palms to combat the ill effects of climate change in order to ensure the continuity of the initiative.

Cagayan de Oro City, one of the hardest hit cities during typhoon Sendong, is also one of the beneficiaries of the CCA project.  The project will specifically answer the city’s unique problem as it is not only faced by flooding problems but it is also faced by water scarcity during droughts.

WFP will also install 80 community-based roof catchment rainwater harvesting units in 40 duplex dwellings in the city. Up to 160 families are set to benefit from the domestic water source to be provided under the CCA project.

“While improving access to water, the systems will also help reduce rainfall surface run-off,” WFP’s project primer said. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) will be asked to certify community members for the construction and maintenance of the rainwater harvesting systems.

WFP will join forces with the Ateneo Innovation Center in Iloilo City for the construction and installation of “community-based sustainable solar-powered rainwater harvesting facilities in public locations to improve storage and treatment of rainwater for potable use during periods of excess rain and emergencies.”

Davao Food Safety ordinance still buried in Council records

A proposed Food Safety Ordinance that will ensure the safety of street foods in Davao remains buried in the records of the City Council despite a 2011 study which found out that only 10% of streets foods here are safe for consumption while the rest contained pathogenic bacteria.

The said study (which also included Cagayan de Oro and Laguna) was conducted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) in 2011 to find ways to improve the sector.

“The last time I heard, the proposed ordinance has undergone first reading in the council under councilor (Bernard) Al-Ag who was then the chair of the Committee on Health,” Food and Drug Administration (FDA) XI Regulatory Officer Arnold G. Alindada said. However, the committee heads for the 17th City Council changed with the Health Committee now under Councilor Joselle Villafuerte.

“I have just talked with councilor Villafuerte and she said she will pull it out, study it again and will push for its approval,” Mr. Alindada said.

Once passed, the Food Safety Ordinance will appropriate a specific budget for the training of sanitary inspectors. While the FDA has jurisdiction only over processed food products and not ready-to-serve food from restaurants and caterers, Mr. Alindada said they are pushing for the approval of the Food Safety Ordinance.

Robert L. Oconer, Chief of the Davao City Environmental Sanitation Office, said he has recommended for the removal of food, fruits and other vendors even before election (May 2013) but both Mayors (former Mayor Sara Z. Duterte and Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte) instructed him to just let them be for as long as they are regulated.

He said they conduct a quarterly education of vendors and are proud that they have followed the rules in terms of wearing hairnets, personal hygiene and complied with the procurement of health certificates.

“Even before the study was made we were already monitoring the food vendors making sure that they comply with the sanitation requirement,” he said. Mr. Oconer said that in his 21 years as a sanitation officer, he has never received a complaint about the food vendors in the city.

But sans the Food Safety Ordinance, Mr. Oconer has issued this warning to all those buying and eating street foods “eat at your own risk.”

Former DOST XI Regional Director and now RECORD Foundation Managing Director Ma. Delia M. Morados said she looks forward to the day when Davao’s street foods will have the same high-level of sanitation comparable to HongKong and Malaysia. She said it would be great to see all the street food vendors gathered in an air conditioned place where the sanitation officers can inspect them regularly.

Ms. Morados is one of the editors of the book “Mindanao Conference on Existing and Emerging Issues on Food Safety” which was launched in the city on July 30, 2013. The book tackles all the food safety issues discussed during the 2008 Conference including the role of the government and the private sectors in ensuring food.

LRA downplays WB standard on release of land titles

The Land Registration Authority (LRA) downplayed the World Bank standard which cited three weeks as the ideal period of time for the release of land title registrations and said it is only realistic in countries that do not follow the Torrens System

“The World Bank study on the ease of doing business citing 3 weeks as the maximum period for release of land titles is based on the processes followed by countries without the legal torrens systems,” LRA Deputy Administrator for Operations Atty. Robert Nomar V. Leyretana said last Thursday.

Leyretana had a one-on-one discussion with Land Management Bureau (LMB) officer-in-charge Engr. Ralph C. Pablo and the officials of the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) in the city to thresh out the organization’s concern on the delay in the release of land title registrations all over the country as a result of LRA’s computerization program.

OSHDP President Atty. Ryan T. Tan said the developers are pushing for the harmonization of the systems used by the LRA and the LMB to make the system of land administration, property registration and transferrability of titles more efficient.

“Globally the standard for processing of our subdivision of titles is three weeks maximum but in the Philippines you are lucky if you get your titles in three months (because of the conflict between the two agencies),” he said.

LRA started bidding its computerization program in 2000 under the Build-Own-Operate Scheme but the implementation started only in 2008. The computerization program aims to make LRA’s operations more efficient and prevent the issuance of dubious land titles. However, developers claim it is only in this country where computerization has resulted to delays in transactions specifically in the release of land titles.
“The three-week standard is easy in Australia because they do not have land titles—they just have the transfer of their properties listed and that’s it,” Mr. Leyretana said. In the Philippines, he said, the torrent system has been followed since 1903 and this legal framework has resulted to a slower process.

This is the reason why the LRA thought of computerizing their system, to respond to this particular problem, he said.  But while they have computerized the system, he added, LRA cannot do away with the legal framework.

LRA has scanned 22.28 million of 24 million certificates of title and has encoded 21.37 million of such titles as of August 08, 2013. Up to 136 of the 167 Register of Deeds nationwide are already fully computerized and live. Aside from the usual technical glitches, he said, the agency is also faced with the problem of antiquated personnel most of whom are 55 years old and above who are not computer-savvy.

“Only 6-7% of the Registry of Deeds have not been computerized but these are smaller ones located in Batanes, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi and Catanduanes,” Mr. Leyretana said.

But the computerization process did not reinvent the wheel of the whole land title registration program based on PD 1529, he said. PD 1529 is the law amending and codifying the Laws relative to registration of property.

A case in point, he said, is the process of getting a certificate of copy of a lost land title. Many people think we can just print the copy since we are computerized, he added, but they still have to go to court and file a petition to get an order directing the Register of Deeds to issue a copy.

Leyretana was however quick to point out the benefits of the computerization program saying lot owners can now go to the LRA and get a print out of the land configuration in order to determine the right measurement of their lots. It has also started to offer geo-spatial query service to several government agencies to identify the right of way and titled property falling within danger zones.

“We have been pushing for the LARA Law (Land Administration and Reform Act) in order to harmonize our policies,” Pablo said. He said they were asked to submit the latest version of this bill in order to harmonize the different government processes. The LARA Bill seeks to combine several offices with land distribution functions into one.

However, Leyretana said they have been vigilant in opposing the passage of this bill. “We want a reconfiguration not a merging of all agencies with land distribution functions,” he added. LRA should not be lumped among these agencies, he said, because it is only mandated to register titles and not to dispose or distribute.

In the meantime, the developers and homeowners will have to wait for these agencies to resolve their problems. “Naiipit ang pera natin habang nag-aaway ang DENR (LMB),” Tan said.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Creation of Housing Department pushed

The 16th Congress is urged to create the Department of Housing and  Urban Development (DHUD) to allow the government more efficiency in the coordination of its housing programs.

“Creating the DHUD will promote the efficient management and development of land resources and enhance coordination and integration of plans, programs and projects of the government in housing and urban development,” Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Deputy Secretary General Atty. Wendel Avisado said.

Avisado said the bill creating the DHUD was passed during the 3rd and final reading of the 15th Congress but did not take off in the Senate. Its creation will simplify all the processes required to make the government’s housing programs work.

At present, he said, there are various shelter agencies under the HUDCC umbrella. These include the HDMF or Pag-IBIG which funds the housing of its members, National Housing Authority which produces housing units, SHFC which funds socialized housing for the informal sector, HLURB which regulates and oversees land use plans, NHMFC which mobilizes funds and HGC which guarantees funds.

He said the creation of HUDC is important especially now that the housing sector is faced with many challenges including the urbanization of the Philippines which is now at 49% and is expected to increase to 65% by 2030.

“With urbanization comes critical issues like high poverty incidence, environmental degradation, lack of urban housing and proliferation of slums and informal settlers,
” he said. The country’s housing needs was 3.5 million in 2010 and is estimated to reach 5.7 million units by 2015, he added.

Avisado said the scarce availability of non-flood prone land for socialized housing especially in Metro Manila have compounded the challenges that come with urbanization.

While the HUDCC has adopted strategies to address these issue and concerns, he said, there is still a need to create the DHUD.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pag-IBIG Fund members urged to voluntarily increase contributions

Pag-IBIG Fund president and CEO Darlene Marie Berberabe is encouraging Fund members to voluntarily increase their contributions as a way to build financial freedom.

“But we are urging our members to voluntarily increase their monthly savings considering that after 20 years they will be able to triple their money,” she said. A third of the contribution comes from the members themselves, another third from the employers and then from the dividends.

Pag-IBIG has paid a total of P9.3 Billion total dividends to its members last year and she said, these dividends are tax-free compared to banks which impose a 20% withholding tax.

Berberabe said they are constantly looking for innovative ways to be more relevant to their members without increasing their contributions. Our marching orders from the vice president were to improve the benefits for members without increasing the monthly cost, she said.

To do that, she said, they increased their membership base from 8 million to 12.7 million. Pag-IBIG has doubled the maximum loan amount to P3.6 million while reducing the calamity interest rates from 10.5% to 5.95% with monthly contribution still at P100.

The Home Development Mutual Fund, more popularly known as Pag-IBIG Fund is set to link up with at least 19 business partners per region every quarter in up to 32 key cities in the country to make the Fund more relevant to the daily lives of its members.

“How do we make Pag-IBIG Fund more relevant to those who are saving but are not yet ready to borrow money for housing” was one of their concerns according to Pag-IBIG Fund president and CEO Darlene Marie Berberabe Wednesday.

Berberabe, who was in the city Wednesday for the signing of the memorandum of agreement with its partners, said the Fund now has 12 million members with up to 60,000 members borrowing every year. But what about the rest, she said.

She said the Pag-IBIG Privilege Cardholders Program, which will be officially launched and piloted in the cities of Cebu, Davao and Baguio, was conceptualized to make the Fund more relevant to members.

Among the first partners of Pag-IBIG’s new program in Davao are New City Commercial Corporation, Davao Doctors College and Penong’s Franchise Corporation. These companies have offered different discounts levels to cardholders every time they purchase or make payments at the stores.

Pag-IBIG is still looking for partners and is yet to bid for the services of a company which will produce the Privilege Cards which will be made available to members for a minimal fee. Once issued hopefully before the year ends, users of the Privilege Card in various cities in the country can avail of the discounts provided by the partner companies.

“We are focusing on companies relating to health, education, groceries, schools and restaurants,” she said.

Ms. Berberabe said the target is to issue around 200,000 Pag-IBIG Privilege Cards once the program is official launched next year. She said they now have 32 partners in the pilot areas but are still looking for partners nationwide.

“I am sure we will get more partners because with Pag-IBIG’s 12 million members and the opportunity to get their stores marketed to these members, it is a good marketing strategy for these businesses,” she said.

Ace O. Cayonda, Penong’s Marketing head, said their restaurants cater to the lower A to C markets and since most of Pag-IBIG members are regular wage earners, they see the linkage as a good opportunity to promote their brand.

OSHDP pushing for socialized housing condominium

The Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) is pushing for the inclusion of the condominium as a socialized housing project through an amendment in Republic Act 7279, paving the way for socialized housing condominiums.

Under the law, socialized housing referred to “housing programs and projects covering houses and lots or home lots only, undertaken by the Government or the private sector for the underprivileged and homeless citizens.”

“Housing for the poor remains sluggish and if the Aquino administration wants to address this problem and provide safer and disaster-resilient communities for the marginalized sector then this will be a significant legislation,” OSHDP President Atty. Ryan T. Tan told BusinessWorld during the second day of the OSHDP and HUDCC 4th national Convention held at Marco Polo Hotel.

Mr. Tan said housing problems in the country remain huge, with 600,000 informal settler families all over the country and 104,000 in NCR alone. The need for housing is also increasing faster than actual production of housing units, he added.

He said amending the law will encourage private sector developers to build 5-story socialized housing condominiums that can house hundreds of people compared to only a few families that occupy horizontal housing developments. With buildings or condominiums included in RA 7279, private sector developers will be able to build socialized housing condominiums and include them as their compliance under Section 18 which requires developers to allocate 20% of their project area or project cost to socialize housing.

“Private sector developers will also be able to enjoy the tax exemptions once socialized housing condominiums are included in the law,” he said.

Mr. Tan said such legislation is very timely because climate change has compelled the government to do something about the informal sectors especially in Metro Manila.  Providing incentives to private developers has a social benefit because it will give the government an option when it comes to relocating the informal sectors living near the waterways and in esteros, he said.

By now, he said, it is obvious that relocating the informal sector outside of Manila is not working because they just flock back to Mania and sell the land or home lots awarded to them. In-city or on-site development for urban centers is the way to go, he added.

He said lots in Manila and in other major cities are expensive but somehow, private developers will be able to lower the cost with socialized housing condominiums.

OSHDP has submitted its proposal to HUDCC and is willing to initiate the filing of the proposed bill that will not only make condominiums more affordable to the marginalized sector but will also help the government solve its problem on the informal sector.

Engr. Carol R. Angel, Regional Manager of the National Housing Authority, said they are supporting OSHDP’s move because this will greatly benefit not only Metro Manila but also urban areas like Davao where there are no socialized or even lost cost condominiums. 

“Low income earners do not want to be relocated far from their workplace because that will be double expenses for them in terms of living allowance or transportation cost,” she said.

Mr. Tan said it cannot be denied that there is a gap between policy statements and actual housing related government programs for the poor. Private sector participation is always at its highest when state policies call for it, he said, and this legislation will be effective in bridging this gap.

Sending money through rural banks now cheaper with blockchain

Sending money anywhere in the Philippines is now a lot easier thanks to the various money remittance centers like Palawan Express, Cebuana ...