Saturday, February 03, 2007

Oro gets bulk water supply

CAGAYAN DE ORO JOURNAL (Ben Balce / Feb 3) - The Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) yesterday disclosed that over 50% of the city’s households now have enough water after the firm opened its bulk water supply recently.

COWD general manager Engr. Gaspar Gonzales, Jr., said households, mostly at the western part of the city, are supplied with water all day long.

The bulk water supply project is expected to improve the total service connections of COWD from the current level of 53% to roughly 88% of the city’s households in 2015 according to Gonzales.

Bulk Water Project

“Before water consumers were complai-ning of not enough water, but since we opened the bulk water early this year no complain of having no water have been received,” said Gonzales, but added that some old water pipes were damaged by the new high water pressure.

The bulk water supplies Upper Lumbia, including Subdivisions PN Roa, Xavier Heights, Xavier Estates, Camella down to Barangays Carmen, Patag, Bulua, end Iponan.

“Bulk water augmented the supply of potable water in the whole city’s west part, where a water crisis is looming due to the growing number of consumers,” Gonzales said.

He also said that the bulk water project would prevent the draining and destruction of Cagayan de Oro City’s aquifer due to the continuous pumping of deep wells.

“The bulk water project is safe as it will not affect the “water-bearing rock” (aquifer) or a layer of permeable rock, sand, or gravel through which groundwater flows, containing enough water to supply wells and springs,” said Gonzales.

The LWUA, Gonzales said, “is encouraging the tapping of surface water considering the deteriorating state of aquifers especially in the fast-growing and industrializing urban areas in the country.”

He also said LWUA urged the private sector to invest in the development of bulk water sources utilizing rivers or lakes to provide sustainable potable water supply to the domestic and commercial/industrial concessionaires.

“This bulk water generates more jobs to Cagayanons by serving the remaining untapped households, commercial establishments, and institutions within the service area of COWD, we are also supporting the national government’s efforts to alleviate poverty through the provision of adequate and potable water supply,” Gonzales said.

The Rio Verde Water Consortium, Inc. has a 25-year contract to undertake the bulk water supply.

COWD director vice chairman Joel Baldelovar said under the contract, the said firm would build, operate and own infrastructure facilities that will produce Philippine-grade potable water via the abstraction and treatment of water from the river (Bubunawan River).

Baldelovar said the company (Rio Verde) has committed to produce at least 50,000 cubic meter (m3) per day by the end of the year, and double and triple that capacity by the end of 2010 and 2015, respectively.

“So far, the bulk water produced 40,000 cubic meter per day,the COWD pay them at P10.45 per cubic meter,” said Baldelovar adding that enough much to supply even elevated areas like subdivisions Terry Hills, Soldiers hills in Patag.

Baldelovar said the Rio Verde already done the first phase of the COWD’s bulk water supply project which is the first bulk water in the Philippines.
He said a bulk water supply project amounting to P1 billion would also be implemented soon in the other parts of the city.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

4th ID marks 37th anniversary with capture of alleged NPA GHQ in Mindanao

Cagayan de Oro City (Mike Baños/Jan 31) - The biggest military unit in Mindanao marks its 37th anniversary today, February 1st, with the capture of what could be the general headquarters of the New People's Army (NPA) in Mindanao.

In a press conference held Monday at the division headquarters in Camp Edilberto Evangelista at Bgy. Patag, this city, Maj.Gen. Jose T. Barbieto, Jr., division commander, said what they first perceived to be the NPA's biggest bomb making factory and ammunition depot in Mindanao could very well be its regional headquarters in the country's second biggest island.

"Initially, we believed Greenfields to be the NPA's regional base in Caraga Region and home base of NPA Mindanao spokesman Jorge Madlos alias Oris," Barbieto said told media. "However, our continued evaluation of the evidence found in the area increasingly indicates that we have indeed captured what could be their general headquarters in Mindanao."
Organic units of the 4th ID led by elements of the 36th Infantry Battalion and the 4th Division Reconnaissance Company captured a complex of explosive and ammunition caches hidden in two caves in Sitio Greenfields, Barangay Sta Juana, Tagbina, Surigao del Sur after a brief firefight Wednesday morning, 24 January 2007.
"This is the first time the 4th ID has captured a camp this big with explosives as sophisticated as these," Barbieto said. Previously, the Diamond Division also captured bomb making factories in Liangga, Surigao del Sur and Zamboanguita, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon but these were on a much smaller scale than the Tagbina caves, he added.

Barbieto said the initial inventory of the captured materials have been appraised at PhP11 million, including a brand new US$5,000 ammunition reloading machine capable of reloading a wide variety of ammunition (with the price tag still attached), seven rolls of 500 meter (3.5kms total) detonating cords with a market value of P150, 000 per roll, and imported Superdyne brand liquid dynamite in 130 plastic containers (@150 pcs/container) and 18 Claymore anti-personnel mines valued at P9-million. Troops earlier also recovered an RPG launcher, a B40 anti-tank weapon, a motorcycle, and subversive documents believed to belong to Mr. Madlos after a brief firefight last January 18 southeast of Greenfields, Barbieto added.
Besides significantly degrading the NPA's bomb-making capability in Mindanao, Barbieto said the 4th ID has also reduced the number of guerrilla fighters in its area of responsibility (AOR).
"Since we started Operation Bantay Laya in 2002, we have reduced the estimated number of NPA fighters in our division AOR by 53% from 1,200 to only over 500 as of today," Barbieto said. "This is a very significant reduction compared to the national figure where the total number of NPA guerrillas was reduced 40% from 12,000 to only 7,000 today."
Captured NPA documents indicate there are 14 front committees (FCs) operating within the 4th ID AOR, nine in the North East Committee and five in the North Central Committee. Barbieto said the Philippine Army has programmed the activation of 90 Cafgu Auxiliary companies in 2007, at the rate of two CAA companies of 88 men each activated for each FC cleared by the AFP.
"We are also consolidating the CAAs in each FC so they can defend their entire municipality and carry out limited tactical operations against the NPA instead of merely defending the perimeters of their patrol bases and depending on the Army to carry out tactical operations against the insurgents," Barbieto explained.
Besides continued hot pursuit operations against Madlos and his men in the area, Barbieto said their intelligence units are now tracing the origin of the captured explosives and equipment since the evidence appears to indicate links to "other terror groups that use bombs and landmines in their terrorist activities," such as the captured rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and B40 anti-tank weapon.
"We still have no definite evidence of foreign involvement but we have received reports that the CPP-NPA-NDF in Surigao del Sur is being supported by foreigners," Barbieto said. He said one of the persons involved appears to be a female Caucasian, believed to be a British national, who has been reportedly extending medical assistance to the NPA guerrillas and their families.
Barbieto said their intelligence operatives are also investigating the NPA's possible links to big business firms, especially mining companies which use the type of explosives seized from the camp, and other businessmen who contribute protection money and "revolutionary taxes" to the insurgency.
Not the least, Barbieto said they are compiling a list of politicians identified to be "collaborating" with the NPA through the payment of "permit to campaign" fees within NPA-affected areas and submitting it to higher authorities for proper action.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dongkoy won’t seek Erap backing for Uy

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Ben Balce/Jan. 31) - Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano yesterday denied he would be asking former President Joseph Estrada and his Partido ng Masang Pilipino to help out Misamis Oriental Vice Governor Julio Uy as an opposition bet in the province this coming May 14 poll race.

Emano said the reports are false and merely intended to create chaos among the Padayon Pilipino party’s general membership and to confuse the other candidates who would likely run as governor of Misamis Oriental. ”The truth is he (Uy) himself asked me to talk to the former president (Joseph Estrada). Naghangyo siya (Uy) na ma-endorso sa kanhi presidente,” said Emano. “Sultihan” og hindi “hangyoon” ang presidente.”

But Emano said he did not commit to Uy’s request.

Emano even denied he would be going to Manila on Friday to ask the former president but to check on what is the status of recent approval of the division of Cagayan de Oro into two districts by the Senate’s committee headed by Senator Alfredo Lim.

“It’s so inimical, if I would be talking to the former president as I was with the President Gloria Arroyo. Asking the support of Estrada for Uy is very difficult to happen,” Emano maintained.

Emano also clarified he would not be serving two masters at the same time.

Over DxIF-Bombo Radyo, Emano reiterated that he has not committed to support any politician eyeing the gubernatorial post.

"That's my decision at press time,” said Emano adding that neither the Padayon Pilipino is committed to support the likely bid of the vice governor.
Emano said that that it would be very difficult for Uy to run without party’s consent. Earlier, Emano advised Uy, a member of the Padayon Pilipino against running the governor.
"It is very difficult for him running without the approval of the party, as it would mean campaigning on his own and even without any mayors in the province supporting his candidacy,” Emano said.

In the same radio program, Emano named another Padayon Pilipino member, councilor Reynaldo Advincula is among those considered by the party for Cagayan de Oro’s mayoral post.

Aside from Advincula, Emano earlier considered Vice Mayor Mischelle Spiers, and councilors Juan Sia and Alexander Dacer.
“They are the possible and top contenders for the mayorship under the Padayon Pilipino,” Emano said but added that “There is still another possible candidate which I will name later but for sure he is qualified and also a member of the party.”

Ateneo-La Salle team-up ramps us geomatics in Southern Philippines

MANRESA, Cagayan de Oro City (Mike Baños/January 31) – Bitter rivals in the academics and athletic hard courts, two institutions have linked up to harness the tremendous potential of the famed Ateneo – De La Salle rivalry for more constructive purposes: pushing geomatics capability building and its application in sustainable development by local government units, protecting the environment and training the future generations of academics and technicians to ensure its sustainability over the long term.

Last January 24, the Xavier University College of Agriculture (XUCA) in cooperation with the Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) hosted an international public academe conference on "Geomatics Technology and its Potential Contributions to Development" at the South East Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (Searsolin) at the XUCA campus in Upper Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City.

"We wanted to present the project's achievements to a wider audience including the academe, local government units (LGUs), civic society and the private business sector," said Dr. Robert J. Holmer, coordinator for the Geoteach –Censophil (Geomatics Technology as an Empowering Tool for Academic Institutions in Community Participatory Development and Human Resource Mobilization for Urban Agriculture and Natural Resources Management in the Central and Southern Philippines) Project.

Since January 1, 2005, five partner institutions from the Philippines, Belgium and Germany have been jointly implementing the Euro 666,225 Geoteach-Censophil project with 60% financial assistance from the European Union under its Asia IT&C Program.

"The project aimed to develop Centers of Competence in Geomatics Technology in Xavier University College of Agriculture (XUCA), Cagayan de Oro and University of Saint La Salle, Bacolod (USLS)," said Prof. Dr. Peter Freckmann, head of the geoinformation dept. at the University of Applied Sciences in Karlsruhe, Germany. "I can say with confidence all project objectives have been met, and the partner institutions should now address the issue of its long term sustainability."

Among the notable accomplishments of the project has been the training of two counterpart staff each from the USLS and XUCA at a special geomatics certificate course facilitated by the European project partners University of Applied Sciences, Karlsruhe, Germany (HsKA) and the University of Our Lady of Peace, Namur, Belgium (FUNDP) which included the successful defense of an applied research thesis by each graduate.

The theses submitted by the four Ateneo-La Salle counterpart staff were "Monitoring Land Use Change in Urban Barangays of Cagayan de Oro City Using GIS" (Mark Alexis O. Sabines, Agricultural Engineering Dept., XUCA), "Use of GIS in Mapping Open Spaces for the Identification of Potential Allotment Garden Sites in Districts 6 & 7 of Barangay Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City (Yvette B. Guanzon, Agronomist, Periurban Vegetable Project, XUCA), "Assessment of Former Open Dumpsites in Barangay Madalagan of Bacolod City using GIS" (Mary Ann T. Paandan, GIS Coordinator, USLS) and "Integrating GIS and Community Mapping for Solid Waste Management Planning System in Barangay Punta Taytay, Bacolod City," (Ericson Alarcon, GIS Specialist, USLS).

"I am quite impressed with their ability to defend their theses according to European standards," said Dr. Francoise Orban-Feraupe, head, Geography Dept. of the University Of Our Lady Of Peace (FUNDP) in Namur, Belgium. "The social concern in their works is very prominent."

Geomatics is the discipline of gathering, storing, processing, and delivering of geographic information, or spatially referenced information. It has also been defined as the measurement and survey component of the broader field of geographic information systems. It commonly includes tools and techniques used in land surveying, remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS), and related forms of earth mapping.

The term geomatics has been adopted by the International Organization for Standardization, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and many other international authorities, although some (especially in the United States) prefer to refer to it as "geospatial technology".

Applications areas include the environment, land management and reform, urban planning, subdivision planning, infrastructure management, natural resource monitoring and development;
coastal zone management and mapping, archaeological excavation and survey for GIS applications, disaster informatics for disaster risk reduction and response

The conference also discussed the sub-themes: "Geomatics in Local Planning;" "Geomatics in the Environment" and "Ethics and Social Perspectives in Geomatics."

Estrella Sagaral, Acting Cagayan de Oro City Planning and Development Coordinator, cited how GIS technology which was initiated with assistance from the Australian government in 1997, was instrumental in facilitating the completion of the city's Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP).

Arturo Belcena, administrative officer of the Bukidnon Sugar Milling Co., Inc. (Busco) said their company has been offering GIS mapping to their 13, 000 farmer planters for the last five years to assist them in monitoring their expenses in land preparation and harvesting the 60,000 hectares planted to sugar cane in southern Bukidnon.

Holmer also cited in his final report how geomatics laboratories dubbed "Geoteach Centers" equipped with GIS hardware, software and plotters have also been established at USLS and XUCA with the assistance of ESSC. Through the concerted effort of all project partners, geomatics-based training modules have been offered to faculty of both Philippine universities and other clientele.

"This Geoteach Center will eventually be turned over to the XUCA Agricultural Engineering staff for integration into the curriculum," Mr. Roel R. Ravanera, XUCA dean.

Geomatics applications have been integrated in academic and outreach curricula with special emphases on social and ethical perspectives. Besides XUCA, UP Mindanao in Davao City also has a fully equipped GIS laboratory and training center.

LGUs in Northern Mindanao which now have GIS facilities include Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Ozamiz. Similar facilities have also been deployed to their regional offices like the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), he added.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Anselmo Mercado, executive director of the Xavier Science Foundation and concurrently Searsolin director, cited how geomatics jibed perfectly with the XUCA's shift of its development paradigm from the traditional (problem-based) model to the ABCD or "Asset-Based Community Development" approach.

'The "ABCD" or Asset-Based Community Development Approach is the alternative paradigm that views people, their communities and their potentials for development very positively," Mercado explained. "This approach takes full cognizance of the communities' assets, no matter what, how big or small their resources are.

"Viewed from this perspective, the community development process, therefore, begins with a mapping of the community assets. This very crucial step provides the opportunity and the hands-on education for the people in the community to identify, discover, analyze, mobilize, learn and appreciate to build primarily on their inner strengths and resources for their own development."

"It is on this aspect that we believe the technology of Geomatics will come handily as a very useful resource that can enhance and complement the "ABCD" model," Mercado said. "From the presentations, we have seen how Geomatics can be an excellent tool for local planning. It is a great tool for studying and examining the environmental issues in our society. No doubt, Geomatics has a lot to contribute to the socio-economic development of our people and communities."

A geographic information system (GIS) or more commonly referred to as a geospatial information system is a system for capturing, storing, analyzing and managing data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to the earth. In layman's terms, it is a computer system capable of integrating, storing, editing, analyzing, sharing, and displaying geographically-referenced information.

Thus, users can create interactive queries (user created searches), analyze the spatial information, edit data, and present the results of all these operations. Geographic information science is the science underlying the applications and systems, taught as a degree program by several universities.

Geographic information system technology can be used for scientific investigations, resource management, asset management, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS), urban planning, cartography, criminology, history, sales, marketing, and route planning.

For instance, GIS can help emergency planners to quickly calculate emergency response times in the event of a natural disaster, or find wetlands that need protection from pollution, or used by a company to find new potential customers similar to the ones they already have and project sales due to expanding into that market.

Many disciplines can benefit from GIS technology. An active GIS market has resulted in lower costs and continual improvements in the hardware and software components of GIS. These developments will, in turn, result in a much wider use of the technology throughout science, government, business, and industry, with applications including real estate, public health, crime mapping, national defense, sustainable development, natural resources, transportation and logistics.

A recent trend has been the integration of GIS into location-based services (LBS). LBS allows GPS enabled mobile devices to display their location in relation to fixed points (nearest restaurant, gas station, fire hydrant), mobile assets (friends, children, police car) or to relay their position back to a central server for display or other processing. These services continue to develop with the increased integration of GPS functionality with increasingly powerful mobile electronics (cell phones, PDA's, laptops).


Soldier killed as 5 gunmen rob passenger bus

PAGADIAN City (DANNY S. MAULANA/Jan 31) - An army soldier on board a Rural Transit passenger bus was killed in a brief gunfight with 5 gunmen who staged a robbery Friday noon along the national highway in the vicinity of barangay Bogayo, Kumalarang town, Zaboanga del Sur.

The Kumalarang police identified the lone fatality as Duty Sargeant Renario Bucag of the 35th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

A police report furnished this paper said, Bucag who was one of the passengers engaged the 5 robbers who were armed with high-powered handguns in a gunfight even as they told the driver at gun point to keep driving and move on.

Police said, the Rural Transit of Mindanao Inc. (RTMI) passenger bus was driven by Marino Durilag with a certain Austria as the fare collector (conductor).

Police said, Bucag who sustained multiple gunshot wounds was rushed to Singidas medical clinic for medical attention, but died a few minutes after arrival.

Police said, a joint team of 53rd IB troopers led by Lt. Glynn Sametano and the local police under P/Insp Dickson K. Banes immediately mounted a pursuit operation to track down the perpetrators.

The joint army/police team recovered an L-200 Estrada pick up, the suspected get-away vehicle and arrested Rodello Estano Coja 47, residing at Prk 3, barangay Cargan, Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur and Abdul Sarip Benito, 36 years old, single, a resident of 0117, Carbide, Tubod, Iligan City.

Police said, the Estrada pick-up is registered under MVRR Nr. 58638396 in the name of Yaser B. Sarip of Saduc, Marawi City.

The apprehended suspects and the Estrada pick-up are now in the custody of Kumalarang police station.