Twenty-two Manobo families from Sitio Datal Bonlangon, Ned, Lake Sebu are set to go home this first week of March after the Philippine Army declared the area safe. The families evacuated their homes and sought refuge in nearby Sitio Tulali after being caught in a crossfire between the members of the AFP and New People's Army (NPA) last December 2017. In a meeting, Lt. Col. Jones Otida reiterated that the area is now declared clear and safe for them to return. However,apart from fearing for another clash between government troops and members of the CPP-NPA, the lumads are also fearing for the possible "continued harassment" of private security personnel from a nearby coffee plantation. Sitio leaders from Bonlangon and nearby Tuburan,and Tawan Dagat decried the constant"harassment" they receive from the said private security group that patrols the 21-hectare IP land now filled with coffee plants. The Battalion Commander was quick to clear-out that the AFP will not tolerate such harassment, but due to the nature of the case being civil, the AFP cannot intervene but can only assist the LGU and the PNP in the process. This private security group assists the AFP "neutralize and dismantle NPA terrorists"in the area, said Otida. PSupt. Edwin Placio, Deputy Provincial Director for Operation, encouraged the sitio leaders to file a complaint against the said group and assured them that the PNP will assist in the process. Meanwhile, the Provincial Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) and their local counterparts in Lake Sebu are preparing for the safe return of the lumads in their homes. An Information Education Campaign (IEC) will be conducted by the Municipal Disaster and Social Welfare [...]
South Cotabato is set to conduct 16 outreach programs for this year's first quarter, Barangay Affairs Unit (BAU) Chief Bong Gamo said. In an interview during the provincial government's weekly press conference, Gamo said six provincial outreach programs and 10 mini outreach programs are set to be delivered to selected barangays and sitios in the province from February to June. The two outreach programs differ as the former provides all provincial government services while the latter offers selected government services provided by the Provincial Governor's Office in partnership with the 27th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Amry, Gamo explained. Dubbed as "Gugma kag Serbisyo para sa Katawhan" the outreach services often includes free medical and dental services, circumcision for boys, haircut, manicure and pedicure, massage, animal consultation, treatment and vaccination, vegetable and fruit seedlings, tool sharpening, shoe and umbrella repair, supplementary feeding and food packs. A performing band and raffle games are also included every outreach activity. This year's provincial outreach program will kick-off this February 15 at San Isidro, Sto. Nino, Gamo added. Last year, the provincial government was able to conduct 10 provincial and 24 mini outreach programs benefiting 26, 250 families in total.
A total of 30 sitios in the province were officially identified by the Provincial Governor's Office - Barangay Affairs Unit (PGO-BAU) to receive livelihood projects under the provincial government's Development Alternative Framework Project (Project DAF) this year. Included in the list of beneficiaries are Bangkal, Purok Silang, and Milagrosa of Norala; Balnabo, Koong, Elsok, Datal Lanao, Lamumay, Proper, Malo, Blite Lamnaw, Tabudtod, and Dahlia of T'boli; New Antique of Surallah; Buluan and Bukay-el of Polomolok; Mambusong, Salpao, and Silang of Tupi; Seven Lakes, Tinugas, Kibang, Tafal, Aboy, Dam and Lamsupo of Lake Sebu; Lamlebong of Tampakan; Purok Sta. Cruz and Baras of Sto. Nino; and Perduan of Tantangan. The sitios were chosen based on their "high poverty rate and vulnerability to insurgency", Gamo said. Included in this year's beneficiaries are three sitios who have qualified for the program's second round after successfully implementing their first livelihood project, he added. These includes the sitios of Salpao, Silang and Dam. All 30 beneficiaries will receive Php 40, 000 worth of livelihood project of their own choice, depending on the result of the conducted Focused Group Discussion (FGD) with the identified core members of each sitio and BAU community organizers. Close ground monitoring and coordination are being conducted by BAU to ensure that the livelihood programs are not put to waste. Moreover, Gamo cleared that sitios who fail to succeed in their chosen livelihood projects due to negligence and lack of commitment will no longer be considered in the next round of the program. Since 5 years ago, BAU has enrolled 133 sitios in the program where 17 of which successfully implemented their chosen projects and received additional funding.
Flash flood victims from the towns of Polomolok and Sto. Niño were given food and non-food assistance by the provincial government last February 4 where a total of 150 families benefited, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office reported. Brgy. Poblacion, Polomolok and Brgy. Panay,Sto. Niño experienced heavy rainfall last February 3 resulting to the said disaster incident and affecting 48 and 102 families, respectively. Among the affected areas in Barangay Poblacion, Polomolok includes the sitios and puroks of Balabat, Manatad, Sampaguita Extension, San Agustin and Rañada, said the Local Disaster and Management Office of Polomolok. The flash flood incident also left nine totally damaged houses in Polomolok and damaged a flood control structure in the area, all with an estimated damage cost of Php 200, 000, PDRRMO reported. No casualties were reported in the incident. Meanwhile, all families whose houses were totally damaged due to the incident are advised to be relocated "as they are situated on risky locations," PDRRMO advised.
South Cotabato schedules to implement disaster prevention,mitigation plans on first three quarters of 2018
South Cotabato is scheduled to implement its disaster prevention and mitigation plans starting this first quarter until the third quarter of the year, this based on the revised 2018 Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund - Investment Plan (PDRRMF-IP) schedule provided by the the PDRRMO. Among the important provisions include the construction of a flat slab bridge at Brgy. Kematu, Tboli tentatively scheduled this May; dike and/or gabion construction at Brgy. Klinan 6, Polomolok, drainage canal construction along Lapu-Lapu St. at Brgy. Poblacion, Sto.Niño, and lined canal construction at Godmaling, Purok Quezon, Brgy. Sta. Curz, Tampakan all tentatively scheduled this August. Also included in the prevention and mitigation budget are the plans to purchase emergency response equipment and personal protective equipment (PPEs) for the province's first responders, rescue ambulance, fire tanker, and other maintenance and operating expenses. A total of Php 62.5 million has been allotted for the said programs, projects and activities. Aside from the prevention and mitigation plans, South Cotabato has allotted a total of Php 4.1 million for its Knowledge and Capacity Development plans which includes public information campaigns, training, search and rescue competitions, and provisions for PDRRMC Operation Center activation during special events. The province's 2018 PDRRMF-IP has a total budget allocation of Php 66.6 million.
The Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) is fast-tracking the transfer of the flood victims from Kipalbig,Tampakan in their temporary relocation site. A total of 75 informal settlers situated in the riparian zone and river banks of Kipalbig River were forcefully evaluated last September 17, 2017 when the river overflowed due to heavy and constant rainfall. An unused "dead-end" barangay road at Purok Mabini of Kipalbig was provided by the Local Government Unit of Kipablig as a temporary relocation site for the victims. The victims have started constructing their new homes in the relocation site and is close to completion, John Lorca, PSWDO Special Operations Officer said. South Cotabato provided a total of 14 shelter kits to the victims which includes assorted nails, one hammer and one hand saw. Each kit is worth Php 2, 000, Lorca said. Material and food assistance were also provided by the barangay and municipal government units and Department of Social Welfare and Development Office (DSWD) XII. Kipalbig is also set to provide the victims water and electricity lines, and looking onto providing them vegetable seeds and native chicken for them to plant and breed for household sustainability.
South Cotabato Provincial Public Employment and Services Office (PESO) is opening a total of 763 slots for its Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) this 2018. Merlyn Esteban Provincial PESO Coordinator said 500 slots and 263 slots are allotted for the summer and year-round program, respectively. PESO opened its application for the Summer program during the first week of January this year where hundreds of applicants flooded the PESO Office. Yesterday, PESO ended its interview for the Summer program applicants. They have yet to announce the opening for the year-round program. SPES is a program that helps poor but deserving students pursue their education through employment. Salaries for SPES beneficiaries have also significantly increased for the past years from Php 270.00 rate per day last 2014 to Php 295.00 rate per day to date. Employment under this program lasts for a minimum of 20 days making beneficiaries earn a minimum of PHP 5, 900.00. South Cotabato pays the 60% of the prevailing minimum wage and the 40% is shouldered by DOLE and is free from tax. SPES was first implemented under Republic Act 7323 in 1992 and was amended and strengthened under the Republic Act 95471 in 2009.
The 27th Infantry Battalion, 10th Infantry Division, Philippine Army welcomed its new Battalion Commander yesterday, January 30. Lt. Col. Jones Brisal Otida formally replaced Lt. Col. Benjamin Leander as battalion commander during the Change of Command Ceremony held at 27th IB headquarters, Kablon, Tupi. Major General Noel Clement, 10th Infantry Division Commander headed the said ceremony. The new commander described his designation as "a rare opportunity" and a "big challenge" in his military profession but is determined to continue intensifying the battalion's programs for peace and security. "This is a rare opportunity, and in similar manner, a big challenge in my military profession, sustaining the 27th IB's remarkable gains in its peace and security operations in the province," Otida said. He added to "continue to intensify programs in the context of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan with the government and civil sector for peace and development in South Cotabato and Sarangani province." Lt. Col. Leander also thanked the personnel of the 27th IB and partners from the government and civil sectors during the ceremony.
South Cotabato Rehabilitation and Detention Center (SCRDC) held a Graduation Exercises at the SCRDC Grounds for its 24 inmates who recently passed the Electrical Installation and Maintenance NC II given by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), January 29. The graduates underwent the said training last September to December 2017 with instructors from Sta. Cruz Technical Vocational School. A first for the inmates, Provincial Governor Daisy P. Avance Fuentes said she hopes that the free vocational and technical courses will continue to help inmates have better lives once they are released from prison. She also encouraged the prisoners to use their time inside the prison cell to reflect and better themselves. TESDA Provincial Director Engr. Talib Bayabao, DOLE South Cotabato Field Office Head Engr. Edwin Morales, SCTVS representatives, and the graduates' family members also attended the said event.
The Philippine Red Cross- South Cotabato Chapter is inspiring the youth to volunteer and embody the seven fundamental principles of the Red Crescent Movement through its 8th Red Cross Youth Camp conducted at San Jose Elementary School, Banga last January 25 to 28. Thousands of elementary and high school students in the province joined the said activity. The four-day activity delved on leadership and volunteerism, Disaster Risk Reduction Management, and basic life and rescue techniques such as rappelling, ropemanship, and first aid to cover the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. Members of the South Cotabato Search and Rescue Team also served as instructors in the said activity. Other activities include indigenous games, competitions on video-making, dancing and singing, and pageant for the Mr. Ambassador and Ms. Ambassadress RCY 2017 Search.