Huwebes, Mayo 26, 2011

Consumers advised to read labels before buying school supplies

With the opening of classes drawing near, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is reminding consumers of school supplies to look at labels carefully.

The start of another school year this June also marks the purchasing of school materials by parents and students alike, and the DTI warns shoppers to be wary of school supplies with toxic or hazardous components.

This was said by DTI Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya during the Communication and News Exchange Program (CNEX) held at the Philippine Information Agency Conference Room earlier today.

School supplies that might carry heavy substances are crayons, pencils, and plastic products. If ingested, these objects may be hazardous to children, even adults.

This is the reason why consumers should be conscious of what they buy—to read labels and to look for the “DOH-tested” seal, Ms. Malaya added. The seal certifies that the product has been analyzed and tested by the Department of Health (DOH) and has passed quality and safety standards.

Products not bearing the seal must be avoided because these are not tested and they might pose risk to the health of students.

The DTI is continuously inspecting the quality and proper labeling of school supplies. Manufacturers and distributors are covered by Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines which requires them to include toxicity warning together with name and address of manufacturer, trade or brand name, type or size of product, country of manufacturer, quantity, and instruction for use.

Meanwhile, the DTI will continue monitoring the price and supply of school supplies in the market. This is to ensure that retailers are following the suggested retail prices (SRPs) of selected school supplies, according to Ms. Maglaya. 

Miyerkules, Mayo 25, 2011

Monitoring system, to help TESDA scholars land a job

Scholars of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will receive further assistance through the Unique Learning Identification (ULI) system of the TESDA.

The monitoring system is meant to oversee the job status of individuals who were granted sholarship by TESDA, according to TESDA director-general Joel J. Villanueva during the Communication and News Exchange Forum (CNEX) at the Philippine Information Agency Conference Room held earlier today.

The ULI seeks to look at the job status of scholars after finishing the technical and/or vocational courses they took as sponsored by the office.

Director Villanueva said that three months after the scholars have graduated, their office will check if these scholars have already landed a job.

After six months, the same monitoring will be undertaken by TESDA to intervene if the scholar hasn’t found a job yet, with TESDA granting assistance in the job-searching process of the scholars.

The ULI is a way of making sure that the scholars have already become functional and professionally involved after finishing their skills training.

“Scholars covered by the system are TESDA scholars and those who are granted TESDA’s Training for Work Sholarship Program (TWSP),” Villanueva added.

The TSWP aims to provide skills and competencies to job seekers through appropriate training programs that are directly connected to existing jobs for immediate employment and to empower private education and training institutions to offer relevant training programs that meet job requirements in specific industries (such as those in the business process outsourcing). 

Lunes, Mayo 23, 2011

DENR, LGUs to tap homeowners’ association in proper waste management advocacy

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) eyes homeowners’ associations to further its campaign to promote proper solid waste management in the country.

This was according to Environmental Management Bureau Director Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna during the Communication and News Exchange Program (CNEX) held at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Conference Room earlier today.

DENR chief Ramon Paje is set to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila to help educate homeowners’ associations in the region regarding effective waste management. This is in line with the government’s thrust of improving the environmental and ecological situation of the country through various programs—all spearheaded by the government’s environment agancies.

By tapping homeowner associations, specifically members of household units, the advocacy for cleaner environment can be more easily achieved, with households being large churners of waste.

Atty. Cuna emphasized the exigency of proper waste management to curb pollution and total environment degradation in the country.

The linkage with LGUs is a way to implement effective waste management of households through environmental assistance, education, and advocacy—tasks carried out primarily by the EMB.

Atty. Cuna pointed out the rather big difference waste segragation can do to minimize the accumulation of waste in NCR.

The program can help in the management of some 8,000 tons of waste produced in Metro Manila alone where 30 per cent (around 420 truckloads) of which are uncollected and end up in rivers, esteros, and other bodies of water, Atty. Cuna added.

Homeowners associations are just one unit that the EMB and the DENR are eyeing in their campaign for cleaner environment. The barangays, roughly 897 of which in Metro Manila, are another group that these agencies are constantly working with in their quest of more conducive environmental condition in NCR, at least.

Barangays are under Republic Act 9003 which requires every barangay in the country to come up with their own solid waste management plan.

Huwebes, Mayo 19, 2011

From “womb-to-tomb” health coverage of all Filipinos, attainable

“All Filipinos should have health insurance coverage.”

This was the vision upon the enactment of the Republic Act 7875 or the National Health Insurance Act of 1995, with financing by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth.

RA 7875 mandates that the National Health Insurance Program “shall give health insurance coverage and make sure affordable, existing and approachable necessary healthcare services for all citizens.”

However, the goal, from the time of the law’s enactment, has never attained fruition as many Filipinos still do not have access to healthcare services, according to Dr. Fernando Melendrez, renowned thoracic surgeon and former official at the Lung Center of the Philippines, during the Broadcasters’ Forum held at the Hotel Rembrandt in Quezon City earlier today.

“This is where “Universal Health” or the “Socialized Health Insurance Program” comes in, Dr. Melendrez—ardent advocate of the said program—said.

The proposed universal health program is said to give all Filipinos access to available and affordable health services.

“Even the poor can be given medical services when needed through a socialized health insurance,” Dr. Melendrez explained.

The idea is that the strong finances the sick, and the abounding finances the poor.

The outcome is a universal health coverage from ‘womb to tomb’.

The process goes with yearly contributions, pegged at P1,200 per year, made by able Filipinos. The funds will be relegated for use by the needy sick.

Dr. Melendrez said that the program would save many Filipinos needing medical care but are financially incapable to have so.

With the universal health program, at least 20 million family groups will be covered by health insurance.  

The universal health is an advocacy that would help strengthen the government’s health program also known as the Aquino Health Agenda. 

Lunes, Mayo 16, 2011

Feature: The day EOs 23 and 26 were implemented

When President Noynoy Aquino made an unorthodox decision in approving Executive Order 23, which bans logging in natural and residual forests (read: indigenous trees that were not planted by man), we knew that the country’s environmental landscape is up for a bumpy (yet exciting and worthwhile) ride.

The enactment of EO 23 has invited varied reactions from different sectors —from the political scene to the economic/commercial arena down to the man on the street. EO 23 traces its birthright from the noble intention of government to save our forests already crying for dear life. From 80 percent forest cover in 1910, ours has already dropped to an alarming 18 percent in 2010.

Small wonder why, when calamities, even those less ominous ones, strike the country, we are left with big havocs destroying not only lives and properties, but also that glimmer of hope from countless Filipinos wishing for decent lives in a habitable country, at least. EO 23 serves as catalyst for Filipinos to put some conscious effort in helping rehabilitate the environment.

EO 23 found supporters from government units and environmentalists, but it has also found foes and staunch detractors from the business sphere as well as from the working class whose very existence are intertwined with logging.

Members of the wood industry warned of huge losses in the economy: P30 billion in investments and $1 billion in annual exports from the log ban. More threatening is the impact on jobs of some 650,000 Filipinos employed in the logging industry. The tug-of-war is now between loss in investments and source of income, and loss of lives, loved ones and property.

Synergy: logging ban and national greening program

While logging ban is reactive in nature, another law, the Executive Order 26 or the National Greening Program (NGP) is more proactive in its approach. Signed by the President last February, NGP seeks the help of government employees and students in the growing of 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land in six years.

Government employees and students will be required by the law to plant a minimum of 10 seedlings per year. With the convergence of the two laws and with their effective implementation, the eight million hectares of denuded forests in the country could easily be refilled with trees. And these trees could easily refuel our economy with P8 billion worth of exports, investments, and other source of revenue.

Forest species like mahogany, narra, etc. and fruit-bearing trees are the target of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the government agency spearheading all these environmental advocacies.

“Good things do come to those who wait... and act”

The entry of the two laws regarding the environment and social scene invite positive action not only from environmentalists or government employees. It also calls for attention and renewed concern from amongst all Filipinos to act now to save our environment.

In implementing EOs 23 and 26, government has moved out of its comfort zone, well aware of the risks of lower annual income due to lessened exports (woods and wood products) as well as the challenge of providing jobs for those retrenched by the log ban.

But these laws could open doors for the development of more farm and industrial tree plantations to improve timber supply. These laws could finally put an end to our dependence on natural forests and indigenous trees that do get cut but are never replaced. With the tree-planting enterprise and the no-touch policy in indigenous trees, Filipinos can have a renewed hope of having sustainable living conditions up to the next generation of Filipinos.

As Sec. Paje said during an interview in government radio-tv program “Talking Points,” he said, “the environment is a responsibility of every Filipino. We are responsible for each of our carbon footprint-- what is emitted and left behind from each our single act. Everyone deserves clean air, clean water, a clean environment—all of which are fundamental rights of all Filipinos.”

While it may take a while before we could reap the rewards of the log ban and the greening program, the rewards will come, and they will come to those who wait and act.

Linggo, Mayo 15, 2011

PNoy launches National Greening Program

PNoy launches National Greening Program

Two months after President Benigno Aquino III had signed Executive Order 26, the national government officially launched today the said EO, also known as the National Greening Program (NGP).
The launching saw a series of activities that marked the relevance of this project in Philippine history and in the lives of Filipinos.
President Aquino himself graced the program which was held this morning at the Social Hall of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) main office in Quezon City.
During the first part of the event, DENR Undersecretary for Policy and Planning gave an overview of the forest situation of the country, with the Philippines ranking 63rd out of the 233 countries in terms of size of forest, ranking only higher to Singapore and Hong Kong, but way lower compared to its Asian counterparts.
The greening program aims to improve the forest cover of the country, covering 1.5 million hectares and growing 1.5 billion trees in five years.
DENR Secretary Ramon Paje on the second part of the program explained the greening initiative stating that the project aims to see results, emphasizing the benefits the Filipinos would reap as the NGP takes full effect and is implemented well with the objectives met.
He said that being a convergence initiative of the three departments of government (DENR, Department of Agriculture and Department of Agrarian Reform) together with other partner agencies and private partners, the NGP is not only a reforestation program but is a development program aimed at poverty alleviation, hunger management through food production, employment and livelihood generation, and disaster mitigation — all of which are for the achievement of national development.
Sec. Paje also underscored the program as one that observes utmost transparency as the funds allotted for the project will be used solely for it, with the regular auditing by the Commission on Audit.
The launching of the NGP website also took place with highlights on its main features which include online browsing of areas to be reforested through sattelite images. Another feature is the online registration of those who would want to plant trees in support of the NGP.
President Aquino’s online registration marked the website ( as the official website of the NGP. The President, as with all those who will register at the website, will receive a bar-coded certificate of acknowledgment for active participation in the project.
The NGP launching also served as venue for the awarding of plaques of recognition and scholarship to families of DENR and non-DENR personnel who died in line of duty and in pursuit of full service to the country. The recognition is known as the Environmental Heroes Award.
Lastly, President Aquino delivered his speech for this government greening initiative which is also a response to the dwindling forest cover in the country and as a solution to a serious concern that the Philippined is facing through these years.
The NGP, according to him, serves as rhe “grain of hope” to Mother Nature, and that everything could be turned back to the way it was.
The recent calamity in Bicol and the previous flash floods, landslides, typhoon, etc in the country are due to lack of trees.
EO 26 is a solution to these problems — lessening pollution from greenhouse, improvement and revival of watershed, mangroves, and ecosystem in the country which are all aimed at enriching biodiversity.
The President added that 50 percent of the trees planted in five years time will be for sustainable management of forests while the other half is for crop industry and for food supply.
With the support and social mobilization of stakeholders and the public including high school and college students and government employees, the National Greening Program is a legacy to the next generation of Filipinos and one intervention to achieve national progress.
The program ended with the President’s planting of a narra tree at the DENR Heroes Park.
After the launching, the National Greening Program is expected to see full action and be implemented in full force — with the desired result of reforesting 1.5 million hectares of forest and growing of 1.5 billion trees by 2016.