Lower House Oks space agency bill

By JUNE S. BLANCO

THE Philippines has taken another giant step towards the realization of creating its own space agency.

This after the Lower House this week passed on third and final reading House Bill No. 8541 – the Philippine Space Development Act.

Science and Technology Committee Chair and main author Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado (Bohol 2nd District) and co-authors led by Rep. Seth Frederick Jalosjos (Zamboanga del Norte, 1st District) had pushed for the creation of the Philippine Space Agency (Philsa) – to be under the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).

Aumentado said it is high time that the Philippines upgrades its technology, to better communicate information to the people, and to better predict the weather, among others.

The solon said the agency would be under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

He said on top of information gathering, satellites can also be a peace and order tool. He said they can best be maximized in surveillance activities as they can easily track the movements of people with suspicious moves.

Satellites can locate suspects with surgical accuracy, he said.

Applying the satellite to the Marawi City scenario, the solon said it can trace “with pinpoint accuracy” the location of the Maute terrorists agitating a rising rebellion in Muslim Mindanao.

The 297-strong Lower House had voted unanimously in favor of the bill. When created, Philsa will have its offices in the Clark Special Economic Zone, in Pampanga and Tarlac – tasked primarily with safeguarding the country/s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

It will also conduct space research and development, space industry and capacity building, space education and awareness, and international cooperation.

The Senate counterpart is authored by Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and still has to go through third and final reading, consolidation by a bicameral committee composed of members of both Houses, for approval by the President.

Lady legislator models Bohol HIV testing drive

If only to personally jumpstart the World AIDS Day and its succeeding activities, a nurse and sitting legislator in Bohol, volunteers to have a Human Immune deficiency Virus (HIV) testing December 1, at the Panda Tea Garden and Suites.
Waiving her right provided by the Philippine AIDS Control and Prevention Act, Third District Board Member Jade Acapulco Bautista, formerly US based nurse by and now a legislator at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in Bohol subjected herself to an HIV testing and in fact, performed for herself the capillary pricking necessary to extract sufficient blood samples for the test to determine reactivity.
Intending to help but still constrained to a task she is demanded to do as a legislator, BM Bautista said she is still open to suggestions in legislating measures to reverse the spread of HIV, a deadly virus, especially in Bohol.
Herself the SP Committee chair on Health and Public Sanitation, BM Dano who sits as a model for HIV testing as a medical professional, allowed herself to the test, if only to show there is nothing to fear, in fact, get a reassurance that one can keep an HIV-free status from then on.
“It is more reassuring that one can get an additional sense of responsibility especially in advocating for more protection and in maintaining the already attained HIV status,” another Department of Health nurse Nickson Felix Epe said.
Dano, who said Bohol’s [anti-HIV] campaign is doing very well, also admitted further that sustainability of the campaign can only be attained with everybody’s cooperation.
“The Provincial Health Office is doing very well [as regards the campaign], but they can not do it without everybody’s cooperation,” she said.
Dano’s act is also in line with the local efforts to curb the HIV epidemic which has become “alarming.”
A United Nation’s study bared that the Philippines has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific.
Data in the study showed that in 2010, there were an estimated 16,000 HIV cases in the Philippines. By 2017, the cases have been estimated threefold to 67,000 and by the same estimates, by 2022, authorities fear the cases can reach 142,000, “if we remain to have the same level of response,” nurse Epe stressed.
In the Philippines too, 94% of those who are newly diagnosed for HIV are male, and more than half of these males are aged between 25-34 while some 28% are of the 14-24 age bracket at the time of testing.
But this does not exclude females too. From January to September in 2018 alone, there were 467 newly diagnosed cases and of the country’s female cases reported in the 15-24 age group skyrockets from 13% in 199 to 29% in 2018.
Of these, sexual contact remains to be the predominant mode of transmission at 98%, DOH data shows.
While the National Capital Region still keeps the most number of newly diagnosed as to residents they shared during the testing, Region 7 or Central Visayas ranks fourth owning 10% of the newly diagnosed cases.
The problem with HIV is that the only cure is prevention, unlike other diseases where prevention is better than cure, stresses Epe.
Over the staggering data and disheartening exponential increase in affected cases, health authorities have called for HIV testing.
The more the virus has taken control of the body, the bigger is the chance that one can fall into the opportunistic infections that could hasten the development of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), explains Bohol HIV coordinator Mila Israel.
Over this, health authorities have batted on Information Education and Communication as something any anti HIV advocate can easily contribute.
This Monday, December 3, Bohol is holding an HIV and AIDS Summit at the Reynas The Haven and Gardens.
The summit aims to expound on HIV in the context of the Community, Health Care, the Government and the School.
After 8 parallel sessions, organizers would be engaging participants to join in the signature drive for HIV Awareness in the hope of establishing a new awareness and consciousness demand, and this finally, health authorities can inject the necessary information that can guide young teens to un-informed or ill-informed adults about the risks of HIV and to the community. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

WAIVING HER RIGHTS. If only to assure people that there is nothing to fear about HIV testing, BM Jade Bautista presents herself as a model to jumpstart Bohol’s HIV testing drive even as health authorities said early detection can also mean early introduction of anti-retro-viral treatment to dampen the spread of the disease. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

Aris to seek add’l funding for brgy multipurpose bldgs in 2nd

By JUNE S. BLANCO

ALL barangays in Bohol’s 2nd District will soon have a multi-purpose building each –courtesy of Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado.

The solon said some barangays have completed theirs through this counter-parting project. However, some “poorer” barangays could not come up with their respective counterparts, leaving the project unfinished until now.

Aumentado continues to make the rounds of his district for ocular inspections to assess the ongoing multipurpose building projects to determine which are not yet complete.

For these, he said, he will request for additional funding at P1 million next year. Current funding, he said, is P750,000 from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The multi-purpose buildings can serve as the barangay’s meeting or assembly area, or evacuation center in times of calamities. The buildings have rain water collectors. The water can then be used by the community for the building’s toilet, for their respective laundry and other water needs.

Aumentado said the amount may not be that much, but he gave all the barangays in his district such funds equally for the multi-purpose buildings not considering if he won or lost in that barangay in the last elections.

He emphasized that he does not want to give just a few barangays from two to three million pesos if this means sacrificing the needs ofd the other barangays. He wants all barangays to receive equal amounts.

The solon said after the election results are out, he always puts politics behind. This is most effective, he said, to heal “election wounds”.

His unprecedented zero dissatisfaction rating in the latest round of Bohol Polls conducted by the Holy Name University’s Research Center, proves such effective “healing method.”

TAKING SHAPE, BUT NOT YET DONE.Built with P750,000 from the Department of Public Works and Highways as requested by Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado of Bohol’s 2nd District, some multi-purpose buildings remain to be completed, mostly because of the failure of barangay local government units to raise funds as counterpart. As a result, Aumentado is assessing the status of these buildingsacross his district, including that of Basiao (above) in the island town of President Carlos P, Garcia, for him to request additional funding from DPWH next year. Photo: ArisAumentado’s Facebook Account.

Aris bullish with corporate farming

By JUNE S. BLANCO

REP. Erico Aristotle Aumentado (Bohol, 2nd District) is set to meet with agriculture bigwigs to push for the mechanics of House Bill No. 8076 promoting corporate farming and providing incentives therefor.

In his explanatory note, Aumentado said the bill aims to strengthen private participation in the agricultural sector to boost production by establishing a national program that will promote corporate farming.

Corporations and partnerships can subsidize the cost of planting materials, particularly the country’s staples of rice and corn.

When the Filipino farmers can have these corporations and partnerships to turn to for their farm inputs, the process can eliminate loan sharks who are only in the business to earn profit but not look after the welfare of this sector.

Under the corporate farming concept, the management’s support to increase production will enable the farmers to produce rice that is competitive with the imported kind.

The process, Aumentado said, will bring down the cost of production and at the same time, wean the farmers from loan sharks and the state of indebtedness.

The concept calls for the corporations to also provide fertilizers and other inputs. The farmers can also run to them to avail of loans without the tedious process of going to the banks in the city for formal loans. This eliminates the attendant expenses for fare and food.

The corporations can offer farmers with “friendly loans” and not the usurious rates of the loan sharks.

Aumentado observed that small and fragmented landholdings, lack of capital, loose financial control and ineffective business management cause low production, hence the corporate farming idea.

He expressed confidence that corporate farming will address problems in production and deal with the entire chain of agricultural-related business – from seed supply to retail sales. All this would be more efficient and effective, the solon noted, if management is done by the participating corporations or partnerships.

As incentive, these partnerships and corporations, Aumentado said, will enjoy exemptions from paying some taxes. Should they avail of loans from banks, these will be treated as compliance with R.A. No.10000 or The Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009.

PIA conducts photojourn skills training for troops

Becoming soldiers in a different kind of war, troops of the 302nd Infantry Brigade adopts a new kind of shooting skills.
At least 28 officers and men of the 302ndInfBde joined the skills enhancement in shooting, not with their rifles to neutralize the enemy, but with the camera, to put in more good news in these times when most you see in the newspapers are the trivial and non-inspiring.
Since Bohol was declared insurgency free in 2010, the soldiers left her in Bohol shifted to a new kind of battle: that of helping communities rise from the cowering fear with the trauma of war and the government services that came but only in trickles.
Instead of wielding rifles, the soldiers picked on shovels and spades to repair impassable barangay roads, dangerous sections of trails and put up culverts to address flooding and the eventual rutting of the roads making them tough to maneuver by vehicles.
In some areas, along with the Army Engineering Battalion, soldiers wield saws and hammer, buildings schools but putting up the labor counterpart to stretch government budget for school buildings.
Then, they also fix school fences, barangay halls, waiting sheds, put up tap water stands with their trowels and masonry skills, or they use no hunting knives but paintbrushes for painting jobs in government and public infrastructures needing these services.
Reeling from a past when soldiers were accused of being abusive and had indiscretions that are publicly known, the radical change has to happen in time, according to Captain KhadaffyTawantawan, Civil Military Officer of the 302ndIBde.
And yet just as the army has transformed its image into community workers as an avenue for peace work, their activities remain unknown and is filed only in military lockers.
With this, the brigade, which performs the administrative supervision of the army and citizens armed forces for geographical units in Bohol intends to bring these community empowerment accomplishments to the mainstream, and this time, becoming photojournalists would be a good start.
Along this, the brigade requested the Philippine Information Agency for the training, which the PIA also obliged.
Other than PIA basic media skills, which includes photojournalism which are offered for free, the PIA in Bohol also trains communities in literary, arts, sports and disseminates information on key government programs and projects. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

SSS extends LRP until April 1, ‘19

JAGNA, Bohol, October 18 (PIA)—Now, here is good news to all member-borrowers of the Social Security System funds who have past due calamity or salary loan early renewal program (SLERP), or member-borrowers with past due short-term loans in calamitydisaster-stricken areas, the SSS Loan Restructuring Program (LRP) or better known as SSS Loan Condonation Program has been extended.
Initially offered until October 1, 2018, the SSS LRP has been extended until April 1, 2019, according to SSS Information Officer Michael Ian Mission.
Speaking during the out of town Kapihansa PIA held at DyPJ in Jagna, Bohol, Mission said the extension should provide member-borrowers who have unpaid loans, ample time to avail of the condonation of penalties offer.
SSS clarified that when one applies for an SSS loan, it is not the contributed premium that one borrows, but rather part of the SSS funds.
Members who have been default in paying for their loans have reasoned out that it is wrong for SSS to ask them to pay as what was borrowed was the SSS Premium.
This is a wrong notion, SSS authorities said.
According to the SSS, the money you borrowed from the SSS comes from the funds and is not necessarily the contributed amount, that a failure to pay will necessitate the full sum including the accumulated penalties and interests taken off from the member’s retirement or death benefit.
“That is why if you have a long overdue SSS Loan, the SSS Loan Condonation is your chance to pay,” clarifies Mission.
As one applies for the LRP, the accumulation of penalties and interests on his outstanding Loan will stop, or at least until one again defaults in paying the agreed amount and schedule of payment of the restructured loan.
With the penalties waived, the amount of obligation will be smaller.
As per policy, SSS would demand an unpaid loan or outstanding balance from the SSS Pension, that a retiree may not get his initial months of pension until it can fully pay for the borrowed and unpaid amount.
The SSS said, one thing about being able to pay for the loan is the possibility of getting another loan in times of need.
Earlier, the SSS offered the LRP from April 2 to October 1, 2018.
Recently however, the SSS decided to extend the program some more to serve the majority of its member borrowers who did not know of the offer of condonation of penalties until recently.
Moreover, SSS Bohol informs the people of Jagna and its catchment area that soon, an SSS Service Desk would soon be put up in the first class port town.
The service desk would make the SSS Services regular for Jagna-anons, Mission said.
In the past, SSS assigned an SSS Service Desk Officer to visit Jagna twice a month to facilitate and perform SSS service processes. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

SSS information officer Michael Ian Mission announces the extension of the SSS loan Restructuring Program which was supposed to end by October this year. The SSS LRP would be until April 1 of next year. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)