DA7 urges farmer groups to go organic farming

By Jennifer C. Tilos

The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Visayas has urged farmer groups and even the youth to support its organic farming program.

During the 4th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress held here, Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Executive Director Salvador Diputado of DA and Governor Roel Degamo, both rallied for support to organic farming.

They also expressed their commitment and full support to the organic agriculture program especially in providing product inputs and stechnical support to the farmers to increase their harvests and sales.

Over this, the officials challenged farmer-participants to come up with some proposals, for the department to address their adoption to organic agriculture concerns.

The DA believes this will help in the improvement of farm produce but also to engage young farmers to be aware of the viability and for them to promote the development and the spreading of organic agricultural practices.

Felipe Apale, regional organic focal person said the congress aimed to provide updates and share technology to the farmers to promote organic agriculture.

At the gathering of farmers, producers and stakeholders, the department trained participants about the low cost production in organic farming, its health benefits and the advantages of producing healthy farm crops which are uncontaminated by synthetic chemicals, Apale said.

He highlighted on the advantage of producing organic food which are healthy food, one that sells high and which the youth can be encouraged to adopt.

“There are chemical residues in our food that bring harmful effects to our health, Apale added.

We are now trying to teach the young to eat healthy food and in so doing, also help protect also the environment,” Apale said.

In the Philippine organic farming 2017 data, from the total target of converting about 7 percent of its farms to organic food prduction areas, the country has attained 5.6 percent, said Sharmaine Sabandana of the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP).

She also noted that “In different regions, we have champion commodities like organic rice or colored rice, cacao, high value crops, organic vegetables with value added products that are being produced like organic soap, shampoo, cosmetics and many more.”

Production of organic rice as a champion commodity is promising, because [demand is increasing so] production is increasing, she added.

All local government units (LGUs) are encouraged to support the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 to apportion five percent of the total agricultural areas to be converted into organic farms.

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‘PWD Got Talent’ highlights NDPR week celebration

By Leandria Pagunsan

In observance of National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) week celebration on July 17-23, the Provincial Federation of Persons with Disabilities (PFPD) in Negros Oriental will showcase talents of persons with disabilities (PWD) through the “PWD Got Talent” at the Robinsons Mall, Dumaguete City on July 20, 2018.

In a recent meeting of Provincial Council for Disability Affairs (PCDA), Benemerita Badon of the Provincial Social Welfare Office (PSWDO) and focal for PFPD urged municipal social welfare officers to conduct NDPR activities at their level and discover talented PWDs for the provincial competition.

A cash prize of P3,000 will be awarded to the winner of the competition, according to Badon.

In a related development, Cathy Sedillo, Special Education (SPED) coordinator of Department of Education (DepEd), Negros Oriental Division reported that the department is fully implementing the inclusive education for special children.

According to Sedillo, teachers are well trained in handling basic intervention emphasizing lip reading for deaf and mute children and make them sit at the front rows so they can follow while the teacher is talking.

DepEd will also observe NDPR week celebration to recognize talents of special children.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through Bless De Padua disclosed that there is a livelihood assistance for PWDs.

PWDs who wish to avail of the program must register with DOLE as an organization for proper accreditation.

A representative from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported that in line with the government’s implementation of accessibility law or Republic Act 7277 known as Magna Carta of Disabled Persons, they are strictly monitoring the compliance of ramps, grab bars, and hand rails in business establishments, hospitals and schools.

Badon also informed that on August 29-31, trainers from the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) will conduct sign language training for police stakeholders as they are the primary responders to crimes involving PWD victims and to testify through sign language in court.

ConCom members eye economic dev’t under Negrosanon Federated Region

By Roi Lomotan

Members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) to Review the 1987 Constitution believe the economic development of Negros Island will take off under the proposed Negrosanon Federated Region (NFR).

“Definitely it should only be better,” ConCom member Arthur Aguilar said.

Aguilar is positive that Negros Island can stand alone as a separate region due to its natural endowments, regional capabilities, and potentials.

“There are still people who will say that we should not be a separate region because either we’re not financially able or we are not viable. That is absolutely nonsense,” Aguilar remarked.

NFR is one of the 18 regions in the country under the proposed Federal Constitution and it will be composed of the two Negros provinces: Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.

1stRegionalConsultationOnFederalism (14)
ConCom Commissioner Arthur Aguilar discussing the general facts and statistics of Negros Island in his presentation during the 1st Regional Consultation on Federalism held in Dumaguete City on June 18, 2018. ConCom proposes Negros Island to be called the Negrosanon Federated Region under the Federal System of Government.

Aguilar gave a brief overview of the general statistics and facts of Negros Island in his presentation during the 1st Regional Consultation on Federalism held in Dumaguete City on June 18.

Aguilar said they are calling it Negrosanon because it is both Visaya and Hiligaynon, the two main inhabitants of the island, and it uniquely tells the location of the island and conveys a “one island” identity.

Furthermore, the body is also proposing that the west side of the province be called Natungdan, which is the apt term for “west” in Hiligaynon, the language spoken largely in that part of the island.

On the other hand, the east side will be called Sidlakan, the Visayan word for orient.

“We are one island, two languages, one economy, and one united region,” he added.

The proposed Federal Form of government is expected to empower federated regions by devolving and decentralizing some powers of the national government to the federated regions.

The power to collect capital gains tax, donors tax, documentary stamp tax, transport franchise fees, vehicle registration (road user’s tax), and licenses and others, for example, which at present are being collected by the national government, will be part of the functions that will be dispersed to the federated regions to ensure the source of revenues that will contribute to their development.

Aguilar also pointed out in his presentation that in 2015, the 19 cities in the island earned P12.5 billion revenues in 2015 while the 38 municipalities earned P4.5 billion revenues also in the same period.

These numbers are based on records from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

The said figures do not include large taxpayers who pay their taxes in Metro Manila.

“If you bring it down here, these figures on how much our island is producing will be much greater,” Aguilar noted.

This is also the belief of another ConCom Member, Prof. Eddie Alih.

“Some of these powers will be given to the federated region especially the power to tax. We believe that with the powers that will be downloaded to the federal regions, the Negrosanon Federated region will be able to sustain its economic activities,” Prof. Alih added.

It is also proposed under the Federal Constitution that federated regions will have its own regional governor and its legislative assemblies which will enable them to formulate policies for the betterment of their region.

Aguilar likened the development of NFR to a runway or helipad.

“What we are trying to do is, the Constitution will give them (regions) a platform where they either have a runway to take off. Some will have longer runways. The others, which I think the Island of Negros will do will not even be a runway, it will be a helipad,” Aguilar explained.

“We can plan out our own infrastructure here, we know exactly how much is the budget, we have enlightened elected officials. We can take off like a helicopter. It will only be better,” he added.

Aguilar cited some reasons that would enable NFR to achieve economic development and a strong stand-alone region.

He said Negros Island is considered a renewable energy capital of the country with the presence of various renewable energy facilities including the geothermal power plant in Valencia, Negros Oriental.

“We can supply the energy needs of the Visayas in the next three to five years if only we have the transmission lines going out the island,” Aguilar remarked.

Moreover, the capital cities of Negros Oriental and Negross Occidental which are Dumaguete and Bacolod, respectively, are listed in the Top 10 cities for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.

In terms of tourism, the two cities have potentials to be airline hubs considering the location of the island which is at the center of the archipelago.

In a press conference following the conduct of the regional consultation, Aguilar was asked to comment on the development of the sugar industry which is one of the main industries of the island.

In response, Aguilar said industrial planning will still be at the national level.

However, the federated region will be in a much better position to plan out the modernization of the sugar industry especially in linking it all up with the infrastructure needs of the region itself.

Negros Island accounts for 60 percent of the total sugar industry in the country