Sex ed modules to be uploaded on DepEd website

Sex ed modules to be uploaded on DepEd website 
June 25, 2010 at 12:22 AM

The Department of Education (DepEd) clarified on Thursday, June 24, 2010, that it is not distributing illustrated comics on sex education in public high schools contrary to what the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) claims. DepEd also plans to upload the modules which will be used for the pilot-testing of sex education program in 159 elementary and high schools to give ...

No room for jueteng in Aquino administration

'No room for jueteng in Aquino administration'
Philippine Star
But the illegal numbers game remains unabated in most part of the Bicol region, including Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Camarines Norte.
See all stories on this topic

Filipino domestic workers: the struggle for justice and survival

By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

Increase in trafficking and abuse demands stronger labor protection'

Maria (not her real name) was limping when she arrived at the airport of Manila from Saudi Arabia. She is one of the 80 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who was repatriated in August 2009 by the
Philippine government from the Middle East. All of them were women who worked as domestic helpers and fell victim to various kinds of abuses from their employer or the agency that recruited them.

Maria's leg was fractured after her employer's son pushed her from the stairs for not following his order. She also said she was made to sleep under the stairs and fed only once a day. But the worst part was when her male employer raped her. "He was touching me, kissing me and forced me to have sex with him. I couldn't fight back" she said.

Her troubles started when she was illegally recruited by an agency in Riyadh last year. She was promised a salary of 400 dollars a month, but ended up getting paid only half of this. She was also forced to work long hours for multiple tasks. "We were treated like animals, we barely got enough sleep" Maria said.
The Visayan Forum Foundation (VFFI) is a non-government organization that promotes the welfare of OFWs. According to VFFI President Cecilia Flores Oebanda, there has been a 20% increase in the incidence of persons trafficked for domestic work: from 539 in 2008 to 697 in 2009. "If we talk about human trafficking, we have to think that it comes in many forms, like forced labour, organ donor trafficking, child trafficking but what alarms us most now is that this year there is an increase in forced labour among domestic workers" she said.

"Many of our domestic workers were promised good salaries but when they arrive at their destination, they only receive half, which means there is contract substitution. Many of them are fooled, the employer confiscates their documents, passports, and they are not allowed to go out. Most of the time they are locked up in the house and they really experience different kinds of abuse" Oebanda added.

In 2003 the Philippines enacted the Republic Act (RA) 9208, also known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. The law foresees measures aimed at preventing the trafficking of persons including the rehabilitation and integration of the trafficked individuals. Trafficking means recruiting, transporting, transfering and receiving people across national borders by means of threat, coercion, abduction and deception for exploitative aims such as prostitution, forced labour and the removal or sale of organs.

The International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, has called the attention of the Philippines on forced labor. The ILO's Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations has made a direct request to the Philippine government to provide information on the application of RA 9208 in practice, such as the information on the prevention and protection measures, including copies of reports, studies and inquiries, as well as available statistics.

To coordinate and monitor the anti-trafficking law, the government created an Inter-Agency Council which has already submitted its report to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). "The report will be submitted to the ILO", said DOLE Director Jay Julian.

Senior State Prosecutor Deana Perez said there have been 16 convictions since 2005. From 577 anti-trafficking cases that were filed in court since the law was created in 2003, only 242 cases are now pending trial while the rest are dismissed, archived or acquitted. "Many of the cases were dismissed after the victim had decided to settle, because they had been offered money or because they had gone back to work abroad instead of waiting on their cases. It 's really sad but it's a matter of economic necessity. Between justice and survival, they choose survival," said Perez.

In the Philippines there is also an Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) that holds orientation seminars in partnership with local government units as an effective preventive measure against illegal recruitment. "Human trafficking starts with illegal recruitment, people don't get trafficked if they are not recruited illegally," said POEA deputy administrator Hans Cacdac.

During the seminar, trained personnel educate the public on the good and bad aspects of overseas employment, the risks involved and the types of vulnerable jobs and cases encountered by OFWs in these jobs. "We advise them to be careful especially if the job being offered is dirty, dangerous and demeaning like domestic work abroad. They have to check if the recruiter is legal and licensed with the POEA. Likewise the employer abroad should also be registered" said Cacdac.
Domestic work has been a long-standing concern of the ILO. In 1948, it adopted a resolution concerning the conditions of employment of domestic workers. In 1965, it adopted a resolution calling for normative action in the area, and in 1970, the first survey ever published on the status of domestic workers worldwide. In March 2008, the ILO Governing Body agreed to place an item on decent work for domestic workers on the agenda of the 99th session of the International Labour Conference in 2010 with a view to a double discussion procedure to the setting of labour standards.

The ILO supports the Philippine Campaign on Decent Work for Domestic Helpers, which aims to craft a unified position to the Conference, and to continuously lobby for the passage of the domestic workers national law.

Part of the 10-point agenda on decent work for Filipino domestic workers is the immediate passage of the Batas Kasambahay bill, a law with the aim of uplifting and giving decency to the standards that will protect domestic workers' labour rights. "Kasambahay" means "part of the household" in Filipino and this is how domestic workers are called. The job is not professionalized and workers are often, if not always, underpaid. With a minimum wage of 8,000 pesos a month, maids get only from 2,000 to 3,000 pesos, about 42 to 63 USD. The employers claim that they already provide for workers ' food and lodging. Also, maids do not have government insurance cards nor health cards, as required in regular jobs. Most of them also have to multitask. They cook, do the laundry, clean the house and take care of the kids. They also do not have a regular 8-hour working schedule but are on-call any time of the day. There is no minimum age requirement and many of the maids are minors who usually come from rural areas. Instead of going to school, they work as maids and send a bulk of their wages to their families. Maids come cheap and even members of the lower middle class can employ them. If they are lucky enough to work for a good employer, they are treated as part of the family. Some maids or their children are even sent to school by the employer. Sometimes the employer also shoulders their medical expenses or other emergency needs. But the master-servant relationship still exists. Some choose to stay because at least they have food and shelter there.

And yet, overseas domestic workers contribute much to the country 's economy. Official statistics show that the total remittances of unskilled labourers in 2008 amounted to 19.8 billion pesos (about 430 million USD) and nearly 80% came from working women.

According to Oebanda, while domestic workers are the Philippines biggest export, the local market is still their biggest employer. Based on the VFFI's data, there are more than 1 million Filipino domestic workers deployed all over the world and 1.7 million working inside the Philippines. She says the Philippines needs to clean up it's own backyard if it wants other countries to address the situation of Filipino domestic workers. The VFFI, however, is hopeful once international standards are set, countries like the Philippines will be pressured to comply.

In the meantime, people like Maria, continue to suffer the consequences of human trafficking and forced labor. She said she would never go back to working overseas, "I left with hopes of giving my children a better future, but I came back with nothing. Worse, I have lost my dignity and self-respect. I will carry this for the rest of my life." Maria hopes that the millions of other OFWs won't have to go through what she went through.

California Is One Step Closer to Banning Plastic Bags

Have you put your foot down when it comes to plastic shopping bags? Well, if you live in California and haven't stopped using plastic instead of a reusable bag, the time might come where you have no other choice.

California has been the trailblazer with regard to strict environmental rules and regulations, and this state is going for yet another rule: a ban against those plastic grocery bags. Although this bill passed through the Assembly this week, it still needs to be approved through the Senate. Even in light of this, California is moving toward its goal. In the case that this bill would pass, the ban would begin in Jan. 2012 for grocery stores at first and then would extend to other stores such as drugstores by July 2013.

So what would shopper's options be if this plastic bag ban were to pass?

Well, customers would be held accountable. They would have to be responsible for bringing along reusable bags that stores could use to bag their groceries in. If consumers didn't carry reusable bags, these individuals would have to pay at least 5 cents for a bag that was partly manufactured with recycled content. In light of the environmental issues and risks to wildlife that plastic bags pose, this added responsibility isn't such a big deal.

You might already be turning down plastic bags and requesting grocers to bag your belongings in a reusable bag. However, if you haven't taken this step, it's easy to start. You don't necessarily have to purchase a reusable bag—just use a large bag that you own. It can be a backpack, messenger bag, etc.


The next step is ensuring that you have these reusable bags with you when you shop. To make sure you don't forget them, make a habit of storing them in your car or in your bike basket.

It's still uncertain whether California will get this plastic bag ban passed, but you can vow a personal ban against them. This simple action will decrease the amount of waste going to landfills and will also prevent wildlife from eating or becoming trapped in them.

By: in 

8 million Filipinos now using mobile banking -- BSP

Over eight million Filipinos are now using mobile banking services in the country, which the central bank says would boost more efficient financial services in rural and other hard-to-reach areas at relatively lower costs.

BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said there are now 49 rural banks offering mobile banking from none before 2005.

These eight million users use the electronic money (e-money) services of major telecommunications companies Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, which offer Smart Money and G-Cash, respectively, BSP said. 

These allow mobile subscribers, particularly those without bank accounts, to deposit, transfer, and withdraw money from one e-money account to another in the telecom company's business centers nationwide. 

Espenilla noted that the Philippines has been recognized by international organizations for its microfinance initiatives and is considered as the leading pioneer in mobile banking solutions for the poor.

Some banks even lowered interest rates on microfinance loans for clients who use text-a-payment platform by 50 basis points on monthly rates, Espenilla added. 

"Technology extends outreach of microfinance and banking services to a large number of bankable but un-banked especially those in rural and hard to reach areas at lower costs and higher efficiency," he said.

He explained that the mobile phone industry in the Philippines serves all income groups especially low income groups and more than 75 percent of the population have mobile phones. 

Electronic transactions, which involve the payment of purchased goods and services, could also be used for remittances from Filipinos abroad, Espenilla noted. 

"The amount of e-money transactions is already huge, and we expect it to grow further," the BSP official added.

The BSP said it has ordered firms offering e-money services to register with the central bank as an electronic money issuer (EMI).

These could include banks, non-bank financial institutions, and money transfer agents. Those qualified as EMI include stock corporations with a minimum paid-up capital of P100 million. 

E-money is also not considered a bank deposit and is not covered by the deposit insurance provided by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC). 

The guidelines also limit the maximum amount that can be loaded to any e-money instrument to P100,000 a month. -- OMG, GMANews.TV__,_._,___

By GMANews.TV  

Resigned Pinoy workers in Jeddah seek repatriation

Over 20 overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia are now awaiting repatriation after they quit their jobs due to their company's alleged contract violations. 

However, just four days before their resignation's effectivity, the 26 machine operators from Jeddah have yet to receive the final details of their repatriation and more importantly, a notice on who will shoulder the cost of their tickets.

As a result, the workers fear they may either be kicked out of the accommodation provided by their company, or forced to just finish their two-year contracts despite their complaints.

In an interview with GMANews.TV, a worker who requested anonymity said their company, Arabian Gulf Manufacturers Ltd. for Plastic, has failed to pay them for overtime work. Moreover, the company has reportedly been making illegal salary deductions.

The machine operator added they were given a contract different from the one they signed with their recruitment agency in Manila.

"In our original contract, we're supposed to receive 1,200 Saudi riyals (about P14,760) but we're only getting 900 (P11,070)," the worker explained.

The original contract dated March last year, obtained from migrants' rights group Migrante-Middle East, also indicates the workers were supposed to be paid for overtime work, but the worker said they did not receive any extra compensation. 

On May 20, the 26 workers filed their resignation effective a month later as required by Saudi's labor law.

However, the workers remain uncertain if their agency, Armstrong Resources Corp. (ARC), would shoulder their repatriation.

In a separate interview, Labor Attache Vicente Cabe clarified the agency has agreed to pay for the workers' plane tickets.

"(The agency) called me last week and said they will provide the tickets. We're just waiting if indeed the 26 workers will push through with being repatriated," Cabe told GMANews.TV.

But he was unable to give the exact date as to when the workers will be repatriated.

ARC refused to comment when reached by phone, saying it is attending to "more important issues," a staff member who refused to be identified said. 

Nine-month ordeal

According to the worker, they wrote the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to seek assistance regarding their plight as early as September 2009.

The POEA forwarded the letter to the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah for action, which Cabe said he did not receive.

Around April, Cabe said he initiated talks with the company for a possible resolution.

"We were unable to convince the company. The company was offering free transportation and accommodation, but the original contract includes provision for food and laundry. The workers found the offer unacceptable," Cabe explained.

Cabe added the complaining workers originally numbered 36, but ten decided to just continue with their employment contract despite its departure from the original agreement.

If conciliatory talks now ongoing would not prosper, appropriate charges will be filed before the Primary Commission of Saudi's Ministry of Labor, he said.

No tickets yet

With their resignation's effectivity just a few days away, the workers remain unsure regarding the date of their repatriation. 

"I am really worried so I did not go to work today. However, I did not receive any categorical response from the POEA, which is coordinating with the agency, if we already have tickets," the worker said.

He added their company is also asking them to present their tickets two days before their resignation's date of effectivity, so that their exit papers can be processed.

"If we can't present the tickets, the company said they will ignore our resignation and force us to finish our contracts. We may also be kicked out of our accommodation, and we have nowhere to go," the worker explained.

He likewise scored the POEA and the labor office in Jeddah for their slow response, and for seemingly ignoring their plight by allowing more OFWs to be deployed by their agency.

"Just yesterday (Tuesday), eight more OFWs arrived at the company deployed by our agency," the worker said.

The POEA cannot be reached for comment as of posting time. 


Airborne Wind Turbines?

Airborne Wind TurbineYes, the day is not far off when reaching for sky is the new motto for generating cost-effective renewable energy. Initially it was considered to be technically non-viable to tap high-altitude winds. But today, technically-advanced materials and innovative computer know-how are giving new life to this scheme with innovative autonomous aerial structures using wind energy to generate power.

Joby Energy, Inc. model:
Joby Energy Inc., exploring wind turbine technology, has developed a computer-controlled multi-winged kite-like structure which floats around 2000ft height for generating power. Mr Bevirt is the inventor of this aerial kite. The DC power generated is transferred to ground through tether to a ground station to be converted to AC power ready for consumption via a power grid.

Advantages of high altitude wind turbines:
Extolling the virtues of these autonomous aerial power generators, Mr. Bevirt said, "Operating at five times the height of a conventional turbine increases both wind speed and consistency resulting in more power, more often." Professor William Moomaw, Director,Centre for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University, Massachusetts, agreed, "The higher speeds at the greater altitudes should produce significantly more electricity."

Mega source up above:
Actually statistics is strongly in favor of these air-borne wind turbines because globally tropospheric winds carry nearly carry potential to produce 870 terawatts of energy whereas our total demand put together is only 17 terawatts. Along with Joby Energy Inc., other companies like Kitegen focusing on power kites, Magenn Power's Air Rotor System called (MARS) with a helium filled blimp design and Sky WindPower with flying electric generators are trying to tap this mega source to produce clean and cost effective power.

Tread with care:
US Federal Aviation Administration has asked the flying altitudes restricted to 2000 ft or less in spite of the potential to reach heights up to 35,000. Also Professor Mick Womersely, Director of Sustainability, Unity College, Maine, expressed the obvious concerns about possible hazards and reliability of these prototypes.

Reassurance about safety:
Mr. Bevrit confirmed about the safety measures like ability to ground the turbines in gale-force-type winds, multiple motor designs to circumvent motor failure and on-board stand-by batteries to land the system in case of tether malfunction. He assured that road-testing in sparsely-populated areas with good strong wind is being planned and all safety measures will be paid attention to.

Joby Energy's aim:
Joby Energy aims to create enough systems to power 150 homes (about 300kW) and move on to larger systems producing 3MW or more. In Mr. Bevirt's words, "Our goal is to deploy airborne wind turbines globally to produce cheap, consistent, and abundant electricity for a prosperous planet."


Corruption in DepEd is a major challenge for Aquino

When the agency that has the main responsibility for educating the youth is notorious for setting a bad example, what's an incoming president to do?

President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III has promised to end the systemic corruption that has corroded many Philippine institutions, one of them the Department of Education (DepEd). For some quarters, improving the state of the basic education system would be a good start.

"The problem with the Arroyo administration is that it is rooted in perceptions of corruption and bad governance. Even the programs that are meant to help the poor were in fact utilized in the context of patronage," says former Education Secretary Butch Abad.

There was the so-called noodle scam involving a contract awarded by DepEd in 2007 to a supplier that sold noodles at a staggering P18 per pack when the market price was only P4.50.

Before that, there was the textbook scam, with whistleblower Antonio Go alleging that the numerous errors in textbooks used in public schools resulted from an allegedly "secretive" evaluation process that "breeds graft and corruption."

E-Net Philippines, a consortium of education advocates, had also opposed Arroyo projects like the Food-for-School program which "has become a strategy for patronage" as local government units, along with the DepEd, are the ones who select beneficiaries.

Abad, who served as the Liberal Party campaign manager in the May 10 elections, says Mrs. Arroyo was "driven by the fight for political survival" so she pandered to the corruption of some politicians instead of ensuring that they implement education programs honestly.

But Abad believes that once Noynoy—who had a clean slate in his nine years as congressman and three as senator—takes over, Filipinos can expect him to ensure that the education department will not be a breeding ground for corruption.

"In the case of Noynoy Aquino, it would be in the context of good governance and empowerment. I think that's a dramatic departure from the Arroyo administration's framework," he says.

Abad was one of the Cabinet secretaries who resigned from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government in 2005 at the height of the Hello Garci scandal that put in doubt the legitimacy of her victory in the 2004 elections.

The legacy of his iconic parents, the martyred Benigno Aquino Jr. and former president Corazon Aquino, and a vigorous anti-corruption platform swept Noynoy to victory in the May 10 polls. Now that he's president-elect, many are expecting Aquino to fulfill his campaign promises and ensure that none of the corruption scandals during the Arroyo administration will happen during his term.

12-year basic education

Noynoy and his education reform team won't have it easy. Data from DepEd show that out of 100 children who enter Grade 1, only 43 finish high school, only 23 pursue college or vocational courses, and only 14 are able to finish tertiary education.

With nearly half of high school graduates choosing to work rather than pursue higher education, Aquino is looking at re-introducing technical-vocational education in public high schools "to better link schooling to local industry needs and employment."

But his foremost plan for basic education is ambitious: to expand the duration of formal schooling from the current 10 years (six for elementary and four for high school) to the global standard of 12 years starting school year 2011-2012.

"We need to add two years to our basic education cycle to catch up with the rest of the world," Aquino says.

The plan is still "subject to fine-tuning," says former Education Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz, who currently sits as the vice president for policy and research of the Liberal Party think-tank National Institute for Policy Studies.

A possible division is Grades 1 to 7 for elementary, Grades 8 to 10 for high school, and Grades 11 to 12 for senior high school in preparation for college.

"What's most important is that Grade 1-12 be seamless and that the curriculum have no gaps between the elementary school and high school levels," Luz tells GMANews.TV in an email. "The rest of the world has added more years of formal basic education and this has helped them build stronger economies."

The proposal to add more years to education is nothing new, says Raymond Palatino, the representative of youth party-list Kabataan in Congress.

Former president Joseph Estrada had the pre-baccalaureate program, which proposed an additional year for high school, while President Arroyo introduced the optional one-year Bridge program for incoming high school students who scored low in the High School Readiness Test (HSRT) for English, Math, and Science.

In 2005, the DepEd conceptualized the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA) in response to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary schooling by 2015. The BESRA also proposes two additional years to basic education.

Additional school years, however, were never made mandatory due to opposition from some groups and budgetary constraints.

Palatino says, "All presidents, at the beginning of their terms, want to add one or two years in elementary or high school. The problem: funds. Lack of funds. Where will the new president source the funds?"

ACT Teachers party-list president Antonio Tinio, who taught the P.I. 100 (Rizal's life and works) course at the University of the Philippines for 18 years before he resigned last semester to prepare for his work as incoming congressman representing his group, says Aquino should prioritize lifting the quality of education over quantity.

"Yung kasalukuyang sampung taon nga natin ng basic education hindi nai-deliver nang maayos ng gobyerno," laments Tinio in a phone interview. "Sa ganyang kalagayan pano naman natin pag-uusapan pa yung pagdagdag ng dalawa pang taon?"

Ritchie, mother of five, can barely afford to send four of her kids to school even though she doesn't have to pay tuition.

A mother of five, 33-year-old Ritchie Escubido, says she can barely make ends meet as she is sending four of her kids—aged 13, 11, 8 and 5—to school even though she's jobless and her husband works as a finishing carpenter on an irregular basis.

"Mahirap," she says. "Kung dadagdagan pa, lalo pang mahirap."

Big Spender

Expanding the basic education system to 12 years will definitely cost a lot. Aquino's education team admits that an investment of close to P100 billion, or P20 billion a year from 2011 to 2017, will be needed to build additional schools and classrooms, hire more teachers, buy more textbooks and equipment, and pay for operating expenses.

These figures do not even include the necessary funding for the additional one year of universal pre-schooling that Aquino also wants to implement during his term. According to his team's own estimate, this could cost P9.6 to P11.1 billion a year.

"Families will have to bear additional costs whether in public or private schools. The real argument though should be that the additional two years of basic education/schooling should translate into better chances at a good university education or work," says Luz.

Aquino has more proposals to improve education: strengthening the science and math curricula, expanding assistance to private schools, and building more schools in coordination with LGUs.

But Palatino points out that Aquino's basic education agenda somewhat "mirrors" the education program of the Arroyo administration.

"Under an Aquino presidency, expect no fundamental change in the education programs of the country," says the young lawmaker.

Palatino, however, concedes that Aquino's education agenda has "specific proposals on the amount needed to revive Philippine education."

Luz, who once served as DepEd undersecretary for finance and administration, says Aquino will work on allocating six percent of GDP to education, as recommended by the UNESCO: 4.5 percent for the DepEd, and 1.5 percent for tertiary education and private elementary and high schools.

Aquino will also work on making the budget allocation for education closer to 18 percent of the total national budget, Luz says. He added that under the Arroyo administration, only around 2.4 percent of the GDP or 11 to 12 percent of the total national budget was spent for education.

Where will they get the funds? Aquino has promised throughout the campaign to increase the government's budget by plugging loopholes in tax collection and getting rid of corruption. Because of Aquino's clean record and strong anti-corruption stance, investors are also expected to gain confidence in the Philippines and boost economic growth.

President Arroyo's erstwhile economic adviser, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda who defected to the LP in the middle of the election period, estimates that P642 billion in investments would likely enter the Philippines in the first 18 months alone of the Aquino presidency.

Problem areas

To start over, Aquino plans to get rid of Arroyo programs such as the education voucher system, which gives financial assistance to qualified beneficiaries but is largely seen as a vehicle for political patronage.

He also promises tougher screening for textbooks to ensure that sub-standard and erroneous books would not make its way into schools, and into the minds of the youth.

Madaris education with Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education as additional subjects will also be offered in public schools for Muslim Filipinos.

Some of the things Aquino intends to do for the rest of the country, such as his goal to end the conflict in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, will also ultimately benefit school children, says Abad.

"In those areas, to be able to go to school without interruption, you also have to make sure that the peace process is pursued and that development is introduced. Instead of going to war, you introduce livelihood," Abad says.

Aquino's dedication to the peace process was obvious early on: even before his proclamation as president, Aquino had already instructed former presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles (later announced to be his own peace adviser) to get a briefing from Malacañang on the status of the peace negotiations.

Aquino has yet to name his education secretary, although rumors are rife that Abad might make a comeback or De La Salle University president Bro. Armin Luistro might take the reins of the DepEd starting June 30.

Whoever he appoints will have to bear a heavy load, as the UN's goal of primary schooling for all by 2015 falls under Aquino's watch. –


DepEd: Kakulangan sa mga silid-aralan, aabot sa 50,000

Aabot sa mahigit 50,000 pang silid-aralan ang kailangan ng bansa para makasunod sa pamantayan kaugnay sa classroom-student ratio.

Sinabi ni Education Secretary Mona Valisno na sa ilalim ng international classroom ratio, kinakailangang mayroong isang classroom para sa 35 estudyante o ratio na 1:35.

Inamin ni Valisno na sa ngayon ay may average ratio ang mga silid-aralan sa bawat pampublikong paaralan sa bansa na 1:60 o isang classroom sa bawat 60 estudyante at kung minsan ay umaabot pa ng 1:72 o isang classroom sa bawat 72 estudyante.

Inihayag ni Valisno na ito ang dahilan kaya kinakailangan nilang humingi ng dagdag na pondo para sa sektor ng edukasyon sa susunod na administrasyon.

Sa ngayon, may isinasagawa nang konstruksyon para sa 3,613 classrooms sa iba't ibang bahagi ng bansa upang ipandagdag sa kasalukuyang mga silid-aralan. 

Report from Jon Ibañez, DZMM/Radyo Patrol 35

DepEd urged to lead zero waste drive

Green advocates urged the Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday to take the lead in turning the school system into a dynamic hub where Filipino students can learn and put into practice Zero Waste in everyday living.

"Next to our homes, the schools provide the best training grounds for instilling ecological awareness, responsibility and action among our kids, especially in preventing and reducing waste," EcoWaste president Roy Alvarez said in a statement released in time for the reopening of classes.

"If DepEd will be able to pass on the Zero Waste value to the country's over 23 million students, we'll have a formidable army of earth-loving Filipinos who will shun wastefulness, including the irksome habit of mixing, littering and burning trash," he added.

Alvarez also noted the familiarization of the Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Sold Waste Management Act of 2001 among the youth.

"By starting them young on how we can avoid waste and manage our discards in a way that will not degrade and damage the environment, we can have better chances of implementing Republic Act 9003," Alvarez said.

The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001 primarily requires comprehensive waste segregation at source, waste avoidance, waste volume reduction and the ecological management of discards such as reuse, recycling and composting activities, excluding waste incineration.

Eileen Sison, NGO-representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, drew attention to the need for a Department Administrative Order (DAO) on Zero Waste.



MANILA, JUNE 14, 2010 (STAR) By Mayen Jaymalin - More and more Filipino nurses are now opting to work in the United Kingdom than in the United States, according to local recruiters. 

Citing data from the UK Borders and Immigration Agency, recruitment leaders yesterday said that the number of Filipino nurses deployed to UK in the past three years has already surpassed those deployed to the US in the same period. 

From 2007 to 2009, an annual average of 7,000 Filipino nurses flew to UK under a study and work program that allowed them to study and work there at the same time. 

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), on the other hand, showed that less than 300 registered Filipino nurses went to the US to work during the three-year period. 

Recruiters noted that Filipino nurses aspiring to work in the United States have to wait five to seven years for H 1-B working visas and between two to three years for EB 3 (immigrant visas) before they can enter the US. 

Those hoping to study and work in UK can leave the country within six months. 

Recruitment leaders further noted that the recent expansion of the UK study programs may give wider opportunities to thousands more Filipinos, including non-healthcare workers. 

The imposition of new rules for Tier 4 student visa applications early this year may also favor Filipino nurses who want to be registered nurses and become permanent residents there. 

Just a 'temporary slack' 

But the prevailing low demand for nurses abroad, especially in the US, is just temporary, according to Arellano University chairman Francisco P.V. Cayco. 

Cayco said after the "temporary slack" in global demand for nurses, there could be a sudden surge especially once the effects of the enactment of the Health Care Reform Bill under the administration of US President Barrack Obama, takes root. 

In an interview with The STAR earlier this week, Cayco said that with the potential rise in demand for nurses, those struggling with their nursing education would be in the best position to take advantage. 

Cayco emphasized that the health care reforms being implemented by the Obama administration made health and medical care more affordable among Americans, which would subsequently result to a higher demand in nurses and doctors in US hospitals. 

He said this turnaround was the reason why Arellano University is still giving their nursing school its deserved importance in their overall effort to further improve the quality of education in all their college programs. 

"The temporary slack is not a reason to give our nursing education programs less importance," Cayco said, pointing out that the weak demand for nurses in the US was not necessarily the case in other countries such as in the UK and Australia. 

He boasted that just last month, the Edith Cowan University in Western Australia had forged agreement with Arellano University where their Filipino nursing students who have completed two years of studies can enroll directly with their Australian counterpart, which would put them in a position to become registered nurses in Australia immediately after finishing the nursing program. 

Cayco said that despite its open enrolment policy, the quality of education in the College of Nursing of Arellano University Manila has remained high. 

The school landed in the ranks of Metro Manila's top nursing schools with a high student population whose graduates performed impressively in the 2009 nursing licensure examinations of the Professional Regulation Commission for 2009. 

Cayco expressed overwhelming pride over the impressive performance of their graduates in last year's round of PRC examinations, saying it will serve to inspire them in their bid to provide an affordable, but high quality nursing education to poor but deserving Filipinos wanting to become nurses whether here or abroad. 

He noted that the high passing percentage rate of their nursing school's graduates was a difficult feat considering that they have an "open" admission policy that does not bar high school students from public high schools who tend to have low academic competencies. 

Cayco added that Arellano University-Manila's College of Nursing has the lowest tuition rate among the big Metro Manila nursing schools that topped the 2009 PRC examinations. 

"A lot of the big schools they have entrance exams. So they only admit those who already have high academic competencies," he said. 

Cayco said that these "raw material" from the public schools in Metro Manila and even from the provinces, have notable deficiencies in English, Science, and Math. 

Apart from giving them a nursing education, Cayco said Arellano tries to address the academic deficiencies caused by the sub-standard basic education they were given. 

"We give them a chance. We do not discriminate of you graduated from a public school and you have low academic proficiencies. But in spite of that, with our low tuition, we still produce hundreds of board passers every year," he said. 

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) earlier released the lists of top nursing schools in the country, based on their graduates passing percentage in the 2009 PRC licensure examinations in June and November of last year. - Rainier Allan Ronda

British queen, Obama greet RP By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) Updated June 13, 2010 12:00 AM 

Photo is loading... Queen Elizabeth of England and President obama of the USA.]

MANILA, Philippines - Queen Elizabeth II and US President Barack Obama sent their greetings yesterday on the country's 112th Independence Day. 

"As you celebrate your National Day, I have much pleasure in sending my warmest greetings to Your Excellency and the people of the Philippines, together with my best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous future," Queen Elizabeth said in her message delivered through Ambassador Stephen Lillie.

"On behalf of the American people, I send my best wishes to all those who celebrate the 112th anniversary of Philippine Independence Day - here in America, in the Philippines, and around the world," Obama said. 

"Our two countries share a common history and values, and we continue to partner to promote peace and development," he said. 

"Here in America, many Americans can trace their roots to the Philippines, and they are all an important part of the American identity. I am confident that our nations, sharing in our democratic principles, will continue our strong friendship and cooperation," he said. 

Obama congratulated president-elect Beningo "Noynoy" Aquino III on Wednesday following his proclamation by Congress. 

In a phone call to Aquino, Obama said the conduct of the May 10 elections showed the importance of transparency as well as the strength and vitality of democracy in the Philippines. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who won in his country's recent elections, also congratulated Aquino and assured him that relations between the United Kingdom and the Philippines would remain strong, together with their shared commitment to democracy and sustainable development. 

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi 

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Sun Shines on Solar Energy Future

Link to Alternative Energy

Sun Shines on Solar Energy Future

Posted: 07 Jun 2010 12:00 AM PDT

Sun Shines on Solar Energy Future The chances of producing solar power as a more commercially viable source of alternative energy seem brighter now with the positive research results pioneered by University of Illinois professors. The Department of Energy and National Science Foundation-funded team led by Professors John Rogers, and Xiuling Li, has been exploring ways to find more optimal [...]
Posted in: Future Energy, PhotoVoltaics, Solar Power

Groundwork for OFWs computer and financial literacy kicks off

Did you know that among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), there are so-called 45-day millionaires?

From what I understand, these are those guys who earn really big money and truly once their US dollar, for example, paychecks are converted to Philippine peso, the bills amount to millions.

Why 45-days?

I have not found the answer to this yet, but if we go by the stories of some folks "throwing parties for two weeks", plus the additional days of shopping, and gift giving, and what have you, one month and a half month could be it.

Another explanation could be that after 45-days, the OFW has to return overseas and resume earning dollars again.

Had it not been due to their basic computer literacy training, many of them might still be trapped in this 45-day millionaire syndrome.

Alas, there is a way out.

Against this backdrop, graduates of the "Tulay", the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Program Community Technology Skills Program for Overseas Filipino Workers, have began to organize themselves into either alumni groups or cooperatives with business and livelihood projects for members.

An example is the OWWA Microsoft Tulay Alumni Organization of graduates from the Cordilleras and Baguio. Headed by Ediltrudis Irma Person of Tulay Batch 1, her members engage in livelihood activities such a detergent products, Internet café operations, transient homes management, restaurants and meat processing.

In the process of being formalized is the Tulay OFW Cooperative based in Butuan City and spearheaded by former OFW Elisa Capon-Moran. A start up venture being contemplated is smoked fish production.

"OFWs who are trained with basic IT skills have the advantage to explore other business opportunities. With their new found skills, the window of possibilities is endless," said Susan Ople, president, Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute.

This month, the BOPC received from Microsoft Philippines more than $200,000 in cash and software grants for the expansion of the "Tulay" for OFWs program.

In the Philippines, "Tulay" was launched by Microsoft in 2004 in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment, specifically its attached agency Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Its objective is to provide technology tools and skills training to OFWs and their families.

In 2008, Microsoft started working with the Ople Center, a private non-profit organization that has partnered with OWWA, to put up more learning centers.

"Over the years, "Tulay" has been successful in boosting opportunities for Filipino migrant workers and their beneficiaries. We are happy with the development of "Tulay". Through the expansion of new training centers, more and more OFWs and their families can take advantage of these opportunities," said Carmelita Dimzon, Administrator, OWWA, in a press release.

In her progress report and new directions announcement, Ople underscored, "Once empowered…now that they are computer literate, their horizon suddenly expands."

Thus the challenge of bringing them up to the next level from computer literacy to financial literacy. Combining computer literacy with financial literacy, as she put it.

"We are looking also into possible tie-ups with local government units to pilot test a more OFW-friendly business environment," she said. "We would like to increase the number of OFWs and their dependents who are able to obtain new sources of income, better jobs, and or put up small businesses after graduating from the Tulay program."

She underscored, "Given options and when pointed to the right direction, a "Tulay" graduate is empowered enough to consider pursuing other computer courses or opening a small business."

Since 2004, over 20,000 people have been trained under the "Tulay" program. With the expansion of the program and opening of new centers, "Tulay" is expecting 258,000 individuals to benefit from the program in the next three years.


10 things Juan dela Cruz needs to know about economy in ’10

But the most practiced soothsayer will struggle to make any detailed predictions for 2010, especially about the markets.

Thus, what I'm offering here are not jaw-dropping revelations, but a list of some facets of the economy that Filipinos may want to think about this year.

1. Why should I be personally concerned about the widening budget gap? How will that affect me and my family if I were a salaried employee, a businessman or an OFW?

A widening budget gap means less government spending on social services, infrastructure and other services.

The government may opt to borrow more to fund its shortfall to maintain the delivery of its services. However, this could push interest rates or cost of doing business higher. Higher costs of doing business would mean less income for companies.

For Juan dela Cruz, this could mean some adjustments in costs of living and a salary increase may be hard to get.

2. Will the peso-dollar rate go up or down this year?

The general trend will still be favorable for the peso.

The Balance of Payments (BOP) is expected to post a higher surplus, fundamentally supported by OFW remittances, increased capital inflows, and revived exports.

Our Gross International Reserves (GIR) should remain at record levels, adequately covering import requirements.

Other factors that would contribute to the strong peso is the weak dollar in the medium term. We are looking at 46 by the end of the year.

3. Will food prices go up or down apart from seasonal fluctuations?
The calamities during the last quarter of 2009 resulted in an increase in food prices and this may last until the end of the first half if the El Niño phenomenon strikes.

However, food prices are expected to normalize toward the end of the year.

We are looking at a 3.5-percent inflation for 2010.

4. Will the rest of the world recover economically, so much so that they will need more OFWs? Which countries will recover faster?
Yes. The global economic recovery has begun. Strong indicators of rising economic activity have supported the rise in the global financial markets.

However, the United States and the rest of the world are still far away from full recovery, as unemployment remains high and demand has not returned to pre-crisis levels.

Indeed the economies in the region are still quite fragile, but financial stability is slowly being regained.

Asia is leading the economic recovery. Despite the slow recovery, demand for OFW remains resilient.

5. For those wanting to relocate from Manila, where in the Philippines is it good to go to in terms of job opportunities, lower food prices, housing, etc., and still have Internet access, movies etc?

The key cities in the south, mainly Cebu, Davao and Cagayan De Oro, as these are now being eyed as hubs for business process outsourcing offices.

These cities have infrastructure comparative to Manila.

6. By how much can this year's elections lift the GDP? Which industries in particular will benefit from the polls?

Roughly by 0.5 percent, 2 percent for full year 2010. The services sector, transport and communications, trade and manufacturing are the main beneficiaries of this election exercise.

7. Will the next president be forced to raise taxes to increase revenues?

Without giving much thought, No! There is no need to immediately raise taxes. He only has to plug the tax leakages on the e-vat and enhance revenue collection activities.

These actions could offset the equivalent amount of revenues raised from an increase in the e-vat. However, this would take time and would not get immediate results.

So, personally, I think the next president should raise taxes. This could come in the form of increasing the E-VAT from 12 to 15 percent.
This should allow the new administration to implement its program for the country. How can one implement when there are no funds in the government coffers? I view the country as a patient that is recovering from an illness but still needs medication. Otherwise, the patient could have a relapse. Although, enhancing the revenue collecting measures could do the trick, but increasing the e-vat is the fastest route to progress.

8. Will President Arroyo leave the country better off in June, when she steps down from office, compared to January 2001 when she replaced Estrada?

One may conclude that she will leave the office in a better position than when she started.

But wait a minute. Under her administration, the national debt grew by 107 percent. This is the price for an average economic growth of 4.7 percent under her term compared to Estrada's 2.3 percent.
Definitely, the growth rate is far better.

However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Friends, ask yourselves, do you feel richer today than in 2001?

9. What economic problems will the next president of the Philippines have to face by July this year?

The new administration will be faced by a fiscal crisis as government revenues wane. The need to cure it is almost immediate. He needs the necessary funding to be able to provide the social services, infrastructure and job creation to help alleviate poverty.

Thus, the next president should have bold measures to enhance government coffers, determination to get the job done and the oratory skills to be able to communicate to every Filipino that to be able to alleviate poverty, it involves a lot of pain and suffering, which includes raising the taxes.

10. If I had a little money to invest, where should I place it? In T-bills, bonds or UITFs?

Treasury Bills or T-bills will be on the top of the list, since they are deemed safe and secure. For those who have excess cash and can risk more, there are other investments that one can go for such as longer-dated government issued bonds, stocks and Unit Investment Trust Funds or simply UITFs.

(The author is a financial analyst of Banco de Oro. Opinions expressed in this article are of the author's and do not reflect the views of his affiliated institution.)

A new year always gives us that feeling that better days are up ahead.

By Jonathan L. Ravelas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:22:00 02/07/2010

Mandatory Pag-IBIG coverage for OFWs dropped

The government's savings and shelter financing agency has withdrawn its original plan to impose mandatory membership for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) as a requirement to process their employment papers, a Hong Kong-based group said Wednesday.

In a statement, the Hong Kong chapter of a women's rights group said Pag-IBIG chief executive officer Jaime Fabiaña declared that they would not force OFWs to become members of Pag-IBIG, nor will it be made a requirement to process their documents.

Gabriela-HK chairperson Cynthia Abdon-Tellez said Fabiaña announced this in a forum with leaders of OFW organizations on February 1 at the Philippine Consulate General in the Chinese territory.

"It is a victory for the vigilant OFWs resisting schemes of government exaction. While the Arroyo government is bent on squeezing more income from our labor, we shall always be there to fight its schemes every step of the way," Tellez said.

Republic Act (RA) 9679 or the Home Development Mutual Fund Law, which took effect in January, mandates a monthly P100-contribution from members for such benefits as savings, short-term loans and housing loans. The law's coverage was expanded to include, among others, Filipino workers employed abroad or here in the country by foreign employers.

Protests from OFWs, however, prompted Fabiaña to say that they would not be forced to become members, Tellez said.

According to Tellez, the plan to make Pag-IBIG a mandatory requirement for OFWs came on the heels of their successful campaign to oppose the forced membership of OFWs to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to enable them to get an overseas employment certificate.

Since November last year, a moratorium has been imposed on the mandatory OWWA collection as a requirement for the certificate, she added.

Tellez also hit the government for being a "consistent extortionist" of OFWs, noting that government exaction intensifies especially at the onset of every national elections.

"Just before the 2007 elections, the POEA Guidelines on hiring Filipino household workers was implemented that carried provisions for training and accreditation requirements which translated to more fees for migrant Filipinos. Now, a few months before the 2010 polls, here comes the mandatory Pag-IBIG membership," Tellez added.

The group also recalled that in 2004, the government forced the transfer of the OWWA Medicare Fund to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. at the request of then PhilHealth head Francisco Duque.

On February 7, Tellez said her group will stage a rally to call for the scrapping of the provision in RA 9679 on mandatory Pag-IBIG membership.