Thursday, November 30, 2006

Makati off list of pilot areas for automated polls

By Veronica Uy -

MAKATI City will not be among the areas where automated elections will be pilot-tested in next year’s elections.

The exclusion of the city from the pilot areas was made at the request of Makati Representative Teodoro Locsin Jr. who told the bicameral conference committee trying to reconcile the two versions of the automated elections bill about two “suspicious” incidents: the suspension of Mayor Jejomar Binay, and instructions for the city election officer to coordinate with the military for the mass registration of voters in Makati’s second district.

Locsin, who is co-chair of the bicameral committee, said the mass registration order and the “illegal attempts to have our elected mayor removed…are suspicious.”

Senator Richard Gordon agreed with Locsin that the two incidents were “very disturbing” and acceded to the solon’s request to exclude Makati from the list.

“It’s a pity because I’ve talked to Mayor Binay and he was very enthusiastic about having [automated elections] pilot-tested in his city,” Gordon said.

With Makati out, the areas the committee listed for the Commission on Elections to choose from include the Cagayan province including Tuguegarao City, Zambales province including Olongapo City, Batanes and Romblon provinces, and Quezon City in Luzon; the second district of Cebu, Iloilo City, and the provinces of Leyte, Siquijor, and Bohol in the Visayas; and the provinces of Shariff Kabunsuan, Camiguin, Tawi-tawi, and Basilan in Mindanao.

The list is still incomplete as the committee is still meeting as of posting time.

The committee also agreed to allow information technology (IT) companies without prior experience in the conduct of elections in the country to participate in the bidding for next year’s pilot-testing.

However, experience in the 2007 polls is a prerequisite for their participation in the 2010 elections.

Gordon explained that the track record requirement would limit the Comelec to a choice of foreign companies whose technologies have been used in their respective countries, which would be “unfair” to Filipino IT experts.

City told: Improve waste segregation, slaughterhouse services

By Roberto L. Bacasong - SunStar

TO REMAIN being the Hall of Famer for the Cleanest and Greenest Highly Urbanized City in the Philippines, Bacolod has to improve its garbage segregation and slaughterhouse services.

This was recommended by evaluators of the Clean and Green program in Western Visayas to Mayor Evelio Leonardia after conducting a study in the city Wednesday.

Rhodora Capulso, chief of the regional public affairs office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region VI said that the study was meant to determine whether or not the city is practicing sustainability program after receiving the award.

The six-man team from different agencies in the region visited the city's controlled-dumpsite, slaughterhouse, and City Health Office among others.

"We are evaluating Bacolod to know if the city is doing a sustainability program."

Capulso said that the city need to focus on creating a sanitary landfill as required under the Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act.

"We suggest that the City provide colored garbage receptacles -- black for biodegradable and green for non-biodegradable," Capulso said.

On the other hand, Capulso disclosed that the contest for the national level was postponed last year because of inadequate funds.

"In the regional level, however, the program is still existing. We are recognizing those provinces and cities with outstanding clean and green program," Capulso said.

Bacolod, however, was excluded from the contest as it is already in the hall of fame.

If the national level award will be reactivated, Capulso said that Bacolod will be competing to four other Hall of Famer cities -- Baguio, Puerto Princesa, Olongapo and Marikina.

"The national body will be imposing a separate criteria to these hall of famer cities," she added.


Bacolod was declared as the Clean and Green Hall of Famer for three consecutive years: 2000, 2001 and 2002 and year 1997 and 1998, receiving P1 million from the National Government.

"The City has finally earned a place in the Clean and Green Hall of Fame -- one of the most coveted and prestigious awards accorded to a local government unit," Leonardia said.

On their part, the City Council has passed an Ordinance requiring all public utility vehicle owners and drivers to provide waste cans or garbage bins in their respective vehicles, while the City Government is also working for the strict enforcement of the Anti-Littering law.

Meanwhile, the Task Force Clean and Green and the Department of Public Services are the lead agencies working on these programs.

Also playing vital roles in the implementation of the Clean and Green Program are the City Engineers Office, General Services Office, City Veterinary Office, City Agriculture Office, City Health Office, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Market Superintendent and Market Supervisors under the City Administrators Office.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Recruitment firm fires up first SMS inquiry system

Overseas recruitment agencies are often perceived as vultures who exploit desperate and hapless jobseekers who want to work abroad. As a way of changing this image problem, a local recruitment firm is turning to information technology to improve their service and enhance the public’s perception on them in the process.

Intramuros-based JS Contractor Inc., which has deployed 100,000 Filipino workers abroad since 1977, is the first overseas recruitment agency to utilize the Interactive Recruitment Information System (IRIS), an online initiative that allows applicants to easily monitor the recruitment process.

Recently, it further embraced IT as a way of life when it became the first recruitment firm to tap SMS or text messaging as a customer service tool. Simply called JSCon SMS, the service extends the capabilities of the IRIS to the mobile phone.

Mary Jean Borra, president of JS Contractor Inc., said they decided to employ SMS in their system because the mobile phone is the most pervasive and practical communication tool available in the country.

"This will save them a lot of money, especially for those applicants who are based in the provinces. Now, they will no longer need to go to our office to follow up on their applications," she said.

At R2.50 per message sent, Borra said this is much cheaper compared to traveling to the agency’s recruitment centers or even renting a PC in an Internet café.

The SMS service, according to recruitment head Ronald Remolano, would also significantly reduce the manpower hours spent entertaining hundreds of inquiries from job applicants.

The text service is for simple job search, monitoring, and inquiry purposes only. The submission of paper documents should be done at the agency’s recruitment offices in Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Aklan. Online applications, however, can be made at

To register for JSCON SMS, applicants can key in ON JSCON and send to 2800 for Globe and Touch Mobile; 216 for Smart and Talk n; Text; and 2288 for Sun subscribers.

Synermaxx Corp., an up-and-coming third-party mobile services provider, is implementing the SMS service for JS Contractor.

According to Remolano, an engineer, the company’s multi-million investment in IRIS made it easy for them to add the text messaging service, as this uses the same infrastructure of the online system. "Without the IRIS as a backbone, it would not have been possible for us to offer the SMS service."

Borra, for her part, reckoned that instead of buying new cars for its executives, the company opted to spend the money to buy the equipment needed for the system. But it’s all worth it, she said, after IRIS brought unprecedented benefits never before seen by the agency.

"The employer can view our data pool and submit their manpower requirements from anywhere, anytime.

Applicants, in turn, may also view their recruitment status from the time of selection up to their deployment," she said.

IRIS has also simplified company operations that the actual recruitment costs have gone down by as much as 60 percent, according to Borra, adding that their applicants are never charged with placement fees.

"From two months job application processing, it now only takes an average of three weeks to complete the whole recruitment process," she said.

Proving that the company has fully embraced modern technology, its headquarters in the ancient district of Intramuros is Wi-Fi enabled and houses a 24/7 videoconferencing facility for foreign clients who want to interview applicants.
By MELVIN G. CALIMAG . Manila Bulletin

Eleksiyon iuurong sa Nob. 2007

Inirekomenda ng technical working group ng mga kongresista na ipagpaliban ang halalan sa Mayo 2007 at gawin sa Nobyembre ng parehong taon, ito’y kung aaprubahan ng sambayanan ang Charter change sa pamamagitan ng isang plebisito sa Pebrero.

Mangangahulugan ito na mananatili hanggang Nobyembre ang termino ng mga senador, kongresista at mga local government officials na dapat ay magtatapos sa Hunyo 30.

Awtomatiko namang magiging miyembro ng bubuuing interim parliament ang mga senador na sa 2010 pa magtatapos ang termino.

Sa bagong parliament ay magkakaroon ng 32 regional representatives, 22 party list members at 212 district representatives.

Inaasahang isasalang sa plenaryo ng Kamara sa susunod na linggo ang mabubuong proposed amendments na magiging hudyat sa debatihan sa Chacha.

Maaari naman umanong magkaroon ng plebisito sa Pebrero kung maaprubahan ng 3/4 ng lahat ng mga miyembro ng Kongreso bago magbakasyon sa Disyembre 22 ang panukalang Chacha.

Tatanungin ang mga botante sa gagawing plebisito kung pabor siya sa mga probisyon ng Konstitusyon na ipinapanukalang baguhin o palitan.

Pangunahing layunin ng pag-amyenda ang pagpapalit ng porma ng gobyerno mula presidential tungong parliamentary.

Nais ng administrasyon na maidaos ang plebisito bago Pebrero 12 na siyang huling araw para sa paghaharap ng certificate of candidacy ng mga senador sa halalan sa 2007.

Ayon naman kay Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., balak ng administrasyon na bumuo ng Interim Parliament, na kinabibilangan ng 236 incumbent congressmen at 23 Senador, para matiyak na kontrolado nito ang lehislatura.

Pinayuhan naman ni Sen. Joker Arroyo ang mga kongresista na umuwi na lang sa kanilang mga lalawigan o lugar at mangampanya dahil hindi naman nila pwedeng ipagpaliban ang 2007 elections dahil ito ang nakasaad sa saligang-batas. (Malou Escudero, Lilia Tolentino At Rudy Andal)
Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Written by Gail Ilagan / MindaNews

DAVAO CITY -- "Malaki na raw ang pinagbago ng akusado sa Subic rape case na si Daniel Smith…" said the idiot in the box. She goes on to report that Smith now has a Filipino spiritual adviser. Put together two and two, and may the force be with you. Barf. The idiot hopes perhaps that her patter would make you miss asking the obvious: "Bakit kaya kinailangan ni Smith magbago?"

I wonder why when the networks report on the Subic rape case, they first report about the Americans before they report about the Nicole. Even on Philippine TV, the lady is put on the defensive with the billing she gets. The Americans, on the other hand, are getting good advice on playing up to a home crowd that does not hold judgment in abeyance until the other party has had her say.

It's sickening to watch how many among us succumb to this play on colonial mentality. It's expected of the American's lawyers to give the kind of advice that would increase the chances of the accused to look innocent. But watching players from the religious and the media institutions getting suckered is – oh, I guess that's expected, too. Disappointing, but what else is new?

I wonder just how "spiritual" (in the Filipino sense of the word) Smith would be if he does get acquitted. Would he turn the other cheek? Chalk it up to a difference in opinion? Or would he turn around with a whopping countersuit? You really wanna know how I'm betting on this?

Spiritual, my foot.

I don't really want to talk about Smith. Or about his boss, the family man, the model soldier. Yeah, yeah, yackety-yak he goes. Leave that to the idiots in the box who go gaga over a Caucasian looking face.

I want to talk about Manny Pacquiao. Man, he was lethal. And he got there by being a good student. See what warrior science can do.

Pacquiao always had talent. It's heartening to see that now he has accepted that it takes more than talent. Watching him prepare for his fight with Morales, I was struck by his single-minded focus. It's a wonder why Morales did not see that.

On the eve of that fateful bout, El Terrible dismissed Pacquiao as the same boxer he had always been. He said Pacquiao had no new moves, no new strategies – yeah, even accounting for the pre-bout strutting, it seems impossible that Morales could not have seen Roach's training direction and how adeptly Pacquiao was taking to it.

So Pacquiao goes into that first round in Condition Red with a warrior mantra playing in his head: "In and out". Short and simple. And that's what he did exactly. Morales, on the other hand, goes in tentatively feeling the water and ends up floundering on the wave of punches that he could not ride out. The guy should go home and watch Naruto. Chakra is everything. And one must have a battle plan.

That smile did it, I think. Remember Morales' smile as he entered that arena? He was just too relaxed. Meanwhile, Pacquiao was still sparring with Roach as Sarah "Geromino" belted out the Philippine National Anthem. So Pacquiao comes into the first round up and running. Morales, on the other hand, was just getting warmed up after singing along to his national anthem. The poor guy. He couldn't switch rhythms to get into the beat of the punches. It just wasn't his night. For a terrible moment there, he was five years old again, hurting bad, and looking for his father.

I like Morales. I suspect Pacquiao likes him, too. At least, he was someone to beat. But now that he's beaten, who would take on Pacquiao?

Anyway, I like Morales because (1) he respects his father and (2) he's time and again showed that he is a gentleman – gracious in defeat, ever polite, and yes, nationalistic.

I wish I could say the same of the Pacman.

Don't get me wrong, I think Pacquiao means it when he says "para sa 'yo ang laban na 'to". He's a good student. All good students seek approval. Sometimes they seek approval from the God. That's okay, the world forgives them.

Don't look now, but back home, nobody laughs anymore at Visayan-accented Tagalog. Pacquiao has dignified what used to be stuff for slapstick comedy made in Quezon City.

So I hope Pacquiao would take my advice and speak in Visayan the next time he has to address the world. You want to really dignify your people, Manny, speak your language and put your mother tongue on the map. Whatever language you speak, the world will listen because you are the Pacman.

Heck, they listened to Morales, didn't they? And didn't you beat Morales so soundly and so decisively that all he wants to do now is to go home?

It's not the world's approval you seek anymore, Manny Pacquiao. The world is at your feet.

Besides, your mug gets more airtime when the world has to pause for the translation. Give a fellow Visayan gainful employment.

It's a beautiful mug, Manny. So Filipino.

Long may you live!

Japanese firm told to rehabilitate quarry sites

By Tonette Orejas -- Inquirer

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Environmental Management Bureau has ordered a Japanese contractor of the P21-billion Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) to rehabilitate its quarry sites at the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

The EMB, an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, also stopped an SCTEx sub-contractor from operating a stone crushing plant and issued notices of violations to several sand suppliers in Pampanga.

Hazama-Taisei-Nippon Steel Joint Venture, the contractor of the 40-kilometer Clark-Tarlac segment of the SCTEx, has proposed two rehabilitation options for some 40 hectares of quarry sites in Barangays Asturias and Bantug in Tarlac City and Mabilog in Concepcion town.

Although issued quarry permits by the provincial government, Hazama’s sub-contractors did not obtain environmental clearance certificates (ECCs).

Anselmo Abungan, director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Central Luzon, told EMB Regional Director Lormelyn Claudio that Hacienda Luisita farmers “should also be consulted to determine which option they are agreeable [with].”

The United Luisita Workers’ Union (Ulwu) had cultivated some 1,000 hectares to cash crops after its year-old strike was settled in December 2005.

Claudio said Hazama and its sub-contractors had properly abandoned the sites and that consultations were ongoing with farmers on how to revive the land.

On Nov. 6, the EMB stopped R.D. Policarpio & Co. Inc. from operating a stone crushing plant in Barangay Sapang Uwak in Porac, Pampanga, due to lack of an ECC. It was fined P50,000.

The firm on Monday submitted its ECC application and was ordered to attend technical conferences with the complainants who had raised concerns about flash floods and landslides occurring in the uplands of Porac due to extraction of stones and mountain soil.

Another sub-contractor, Greens Mix Asia Inc., was issued a notice of violation for operating a sand and gravel screening and crushing plant in Floridablanca, Pampanga, without an ECC.

Four firms—Tokwing-Floridablanca Sand Classifier, Jagal Aggregates Corp., Rhoi Realty and Development Corp. and TaiPhil Sand and Quarry Inc.—were also issued notices of violation on Oct. 30. The firms had obtained ECCs but either lacked permits from other agencies or failed to install air pollution and wastewater facilities.

Claudio said that while the state-owned Bases Conversion Development Authority had obtained an ECC for the 94-km highway, its sub-contractors and suppliers would have to secure separate permits so the EMB and other DENR agencies could properly regulate them.

These problems, however, have not delayed the project since filling works have almost been completed. EMB records show that 117 sand and gravel quarry firms are operating in Pampanga.

Claudio said regulatory work in Pampanga had been hampered by the absence of Regina Vitug, environment officer of the Pampanga provincial government, in several meetings.

Vitug could not be reached through her mobile phone for comment.

The SCTEx, funded through a loan from Japan, links the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga, Subic Freeport Zone in Zambales and Bataan, and Luisita Industrial Park in Tarlac. The four-lane highway is halfway complete and is due for opening in November 2007.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The decline in quality of Philippine education

ROSES & THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces
The Philippine Star

Our country’s educational system has undergone several stages of development from the pre-Spanish times and the American and Japanese colonization and occupation. Education during the early years of the pre-Spanish period was inadequate, suppressed, and controlled. Spanish missionaries served as instructors and education was religion-oriented. Only a privileged few, the elite, had access to education then but this was later liberalized through the enforcement of a decree which provided for the establishment of at least one primary school for boys and girls in each town.

During the period of American rule, beginning in 1898, English was introduced as the medium of instruction and a public school system modeled after the US school system was introduced. Several colleges and universities were established with the primary purpose of training teachers initially. Primary education through grade seven was funded by the government and free to all. Private universities and colleges were also established during this time. The relatively non-elitist system of higher education practiced during this period meant that access is practically available to everybody.

Because of the influence left by the United States on our educational system, our country has been regarded as a leader in the region with respect to achievements in education. Students from different countries were enrolled in our universities. Our economy then was second only to Japan and we were the envy of our Asian neighbors.

The quality of our education, theoretically, started its slow descent during the Marcos era. Widespread graft and corruption took its toll heavily on our economy. Because of the failing economy and lack of job opportunities then, our highly-educated workforce, including teachers, were left with no choice but to search for greener pastures in other countries. Teachers lacking the required specializations and experience were the ones left. Meanwhile, families unable to cope with increasing poverty, were forced to stop educating their children. Sadly, this has been the trend up to now.

Statistics show that our students consistently perform poorly in the National Admission Test or NAT; highlighting the current sorry state of education in our country. The NAT performance for school year 2005-2006 showed 54.66 percent and 44.33 percent average scores for sixth graders and senior high school students respectively. The students performed poorly in the three core disciplines – Math, Science, English, and also in Filipino and Hekasi (social studies, civics and geography). House Deputy Majority Leader Eduardo Gullas recently stated that at present, there are 23,866 lecturers in secondary levels teaching math and science subjects without the required specializations. In math alone, only 20 percent of these teachers took the subject as their major during college. A nationwide test also showed that most grade school and high school students only had 45 to 60 percent mastery levels of the core disciplines – way below the 75 percent minimum set by the Department of Education.

Our students today are going to be our country’s leaders tomorrow. We have to ensure that they get the kind of education that will prepare them for the challenges of the future. It is good that our government has identified the problems afflicting our educational system and are taking steps to address these. If we cannot do something about this, then our country’s competitiveness in an ever-increasing global community will eventually erode. As what Claude-Adrien Helvetius, a French philosopher, once said: "Education made us what we are."

Methane lights up Payatas dump

By Perseus Echeminada -The Philippine Star

Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr. switched on yesterday the perimeter lights powered by a 100-KW pilot methane plant at the Payatas controlled dump facility, the first landfill facility to generate electricity in the country.

Under The Payatas Gas to Power Generation project, methane gas produced by decomposing garbage deposited at the dump are collected and converted into electricity through the Pilot Methane Power Plant.

Col. Jameel Jaymalin, Payatas operations group chief, said electrical distribution lines were installed around the 12-hectare disposal facility.

"The ceremonial switching of lights by Mayor Belmonte highlights the significance of this clean and renewable source of energy," Jaymalin said.

The pilot plant was a result of the study on the extraction and commercial utilization of methane gas from the dump undertaken by the Philippine National Oil Company- Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC) under a memorandum of agreement with the Quezon City government in 2002.

The PNOC-EC study revealed that the dump could produce sufficient gas for the next 10 years, enough to provide power to the Payatas community.

A project that will extract and collect landfill gas will soon be undertaken in order to clean the environment and ensure the safety of the disposal facility. Once implemented, the project can qualify as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto protocol.

During the initial launching of the project in 2004, Belmonte said the project would benefit poor residents. Each scavenger family earns only P250 to P300 a day.

The Quezon City government has gained national acclaim as the first urban center to implement the Solid Waste Management Act, by pioneering the conversion of the Payatas open dump into a controlled facility.

The extraction of the methane is aimed at containing the gas buildup and preventing future accidents in the area as methane is a highly combustible gas.

But the PNOC found out that there is enough gas to generate electricity within the area, so the city government decided to tap the energy.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cinderellas defend Alaska Cup on Sunday

THE gritty Baguio Cinderellas will defend their ladies open title Sunday in the 11th Alaska Cup at the posh Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa in a bid to maintain their 16-year dominance in the sport.

They snatched the crown in a breeze this time last year despite traveling straight to the venue and playing without sleep due to lack of funds for billeting.

This time, however, the squad left early for the much-needed rest, given the stronger field that is expected to include teams from Korea, Japan and Guam in the seven-a-side blitz competition.

From Alabang, the girls will shift to Olongapo on Nov. 24-25 to again defend their nth crown in the Kicksand Beach Tournament they last ruled last April.

Former national stand-out Annaliza Umoc-Cabanilla and playing coach Richelle Tabisula, both with the original team formed by sportsman Manny Javellana in the 1980s, will lead the twin campaigns.

A combination of youth and experience, the line-up will be completed by second-generation recruits Romadallana Llanea, Judith Doctolero, Melody Buccahan, Maggie Pakipac, Marissa Manaday, Regine Formaran and newcomers Shiela Tabangcura, Katie Sutherland, Jovelyn Velasco and Carol Baguitan.

So-called for having to scrounge support to be able to compete, the Cinderellas leaned anew on the city government and the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) to be able to defend the twin crowns.

Acting Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. already directed City Sports coordinator Edison Villafuerte to work out anew the city's sponsorship of the team which had ruled four national cups and numerous invitational titles.

Beneco, which had teamed up with the city in supporting the multi-titled team in previous outings, has committed the services of a back-up vehicle for the two tournaments.

The team initially gained national prominence in the early 1990s for topping the YKL-Fuji National Cup in Quezon City after saving their school stipends to pay for a jeep transport.

Heartened by the initial victory, the girls went on to win the 1991 and 1993 Baguio National Invitational and the 1993 Philippine Ladies Football Association Cup. Lack of funds prevented them from defending the Philfa Cup in Davao in 1994.

With support from businessman Dan David who drove for them, the girls recaptured the Philfa Cup in Sta. Cruz, Laguna in 1995 with a 1-0 overtime victory over defending champion Davao.

The winning goal came on the 13th minutes of overtime on a Friday the 13th, from 16-year old Roberta Sandejas whom the team recruited to complete the 11-memberline-up for the crucial final game.

The comely girl, who went on to join the varsity team of La Salle, was rendered blind when somebody threw acid on her face several years ago. Informed of the tragic incident, the Cinderellas sold old newspapers and bottles, raising over P20,000 which they handed over to the girls' to support her recovery. (Ramon Dacawi - Sun Star)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

RP government service among worst in the world

By Sandy Araneta - The Philippine Star

Government service in the Philippines is one of the poorest in the world, based on studies by international groups, the president of the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) said yesterday.

DAP president Antonio Kalaw Jr. told a press conference that the country’s bureaucracy ranked 49th among 61 countries in the 2006 World Competitiveness Yearbook, and 77th among 117 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum.

Kalaw said as a development organization, DAP has been working with government on how to solve the problems of a bloated bureaucracy, duplication or overlapping of functions, and inconsistent public service delivery.

He said it is unfortunate that despite various projects and resources to reform government agencies, the problems still persist.

"This dismal performance has once again resulted in a call for major reforms in business and government efficiency. The ills of government prevent effective and efficient delivery of public goods and services,’’ Kalaw said.

"The bureaucracy is being challenged to address more seriously the resonating calls for good governance, accountability and transparency, among others. The need and clamor is for government to deliver quality public service," he said.

He said that as early as the mid-1980s, DAP has been helping the government and the private sector achieve productivity and quality.

Kalaw said the academy has been helping private and public agencies comply with quality standards set under the International Standardization Organization (ISO).

The Presidential Committee on Effective Governance (PCEG) and DAP sought to institutionalize the rating of performance excellence in government through ISO 9001:2000 quality management system or QMS.

DAP’s Center for Quality & Competitiveness, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)-Organization and Productivity and Improvement Bureau, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) collaborated on the project, which started in September 2003.

President Arroyo issued Administrative Order 161 on Oct. 5, 2006, "institutionalizing quality management system in government." Aside from helping improve the quality of public service, AO 161 also hopes to promote accountability, participation, predictability, and transparency in government.

ISO hosted yesterday the "Third Annual Conference on the Institutionalization and Demonstration of ISO 9001:2000-Aligned Quality Management System (QMS) in Government’’ at the DAP building in Pasig City.

Some 200 participants from 61 government and private sector agencies attended the conference

UNESCO Philippines pushes entrepreneurship education

By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star

UNESCO Philippines Secretary-General Ambassador Preciosa Soliven stressed yesterday that entrepreneurship should be part of Filipino culture.

"Entrepreneurship is very significant in our country and I hope this conference will get things done because in our culture, entrepreneurship is not natural," Soliven said at the launching of the Pinoy Technopreneur School-on-Air Radio Teachers’ Training and Project held at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

She said UNESCO was tasked to declare a decade of sustainable development that gives importance to entrepreneurship.

She said entrepreneurship is a way of transmitting knowledge to inspire businesses and foster economic independence.

"And I am proud to say that we are with countries that will become centers of Asia-Pacific education, giving importance to sustainable development,’’ Soliven said.

"Our stand is we cannot sustain anything without human capacity. We are promoting, in the center, education for sustainable development,’’ she added.

She cited the need for the curriculum of the country’s 42,000 elementary schools to be revolutionized, reformed and scientifically-based.

Meantime, UNESCO officials joined Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro in handing over course modules on entrepreneurship education to 11 participating schools.

The participating schools are University of Mindanao (Davao City); Aklan State University (Banga, Aklan); Leyte State University (Baybay, Leyte); Columban Colleges (Olongapo City); Angeles University Foundation (Angeles City); UP Los Baños (Laguna); Technological University of the Philippines (Manila); OB Montessori (Greenhills, San Juan); Management System Consultants School (Laguna); ERDA Tech Foundation (Manila); and Ploughshares Inc. (NGO-Social Entrepreneurship) in Quezon City.

The project has received funds from UNESCO-Jakarta and the Technology Application and Promotion Institute of the Department of Science and Technology.

The course contains 10 modules developed by experts from the Asian Institute of Management and the Leading Entrepreneurs Toward Sensing Global Opportunities (LetsGo), a non-profit organization, and Andy Ferreira, a professor who is also an entrepreneurship guru.

The modules cover Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Self Mastery, Enterprise Mastery, Situation Mastery, Starting the Enterprise, Passion, Skills/Technology Delivery, Market, Seizing the Opportunity, and Resource Generation.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A unique medical academy

By Tessa C. Mauricio , Life & Times Editor

Who else can revive a weakened body but a doctor of medicine? This is why The Manila Times School of Journalism placed an emergency call to Dr. Bajet A. Nour of Philadelphia, USA: To help boost the somewhat weakened perception of the Filipino health-care worker on the global front, following the widely publicized nursing exam scandal in June.

Nour and his team of medical doctors and educators were in Manila this week to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a local campus for the Global Medical Academy (GMA).

GMA, known in the United States and some 70 other countries as the “university without walls,” is ready to offer courses to Filipinos that lead to medical qualifications, which are suitable for licensing in most regions of the world, including the USA, Europe and Australia.

During a visit to The Manila Times offices on Tuesday, Nour explained that GMA’s schools of Medicine, Nursing, Health Science and Graduate Study degree programs all follow a curriculum that is based on the United States medical curriculum. “That, in itself, means the students are getting top quality curriculum, which makes them eligible to go to the United States and get a license there should they acquire US citizenship,” he said.

“[This is possible] because the key area is that the program has to be World Ethics-accredited, which places GMA in the World Health Organization book of medical schools. Again, that’s how the students are allowed to sit on the United States medical licensing—or wherever they come from, for that matter—whether Dubai or Australia.”

Globally competitive students

Moreover, GMA complements the US-standard theoretical instruction with a pioneering IT-based feature and an internship program that together make its students globally competitive very early on in the training stage.

“The didactic portion of the program is offered online,” Nour said. “We have a very high-quality content of medical curriculum that is supported through long-distance education that will allow students here to communicate with doctors anywhere in the world, thereby opening the doors to global medicine.”

As for the practical component, the last two years of the program give students the opportunity to complete clinical rotations in one of the university’s privately owned hospitals or clinics in parts of the world, including those in the United States, Australia, France and Great Britain.

In effect, the complete program should be able to minimize any competence issues for future Filipino health-care graduates of the school (if the issues continue to exist four or five years from now) or, on a more positive note, further enhance the value of the Filipino health-care worker in the international medical community.

Mission-based medicine

Established in 1994, Global Medical Academy is first and foremost involved in what it calls “mission-based medicine,” born of Dr. Bajet Nour’s impassioned sense of social responsibility. A native of Egypt, he lived in the face of poverty in his formative years and experienced firsthand the sad state of health-care services in a Third-World country. “By God’s grace,” he said, he was given the opportunity to study medicine in the United States, and eventually practice as a general and trauma surgeon, but without forgetting his roots.

Even as a medical student, Nour would volunteer to join medical and emergency missions in developing countries (mostly in Africa), a commitment that intensified in this compassionate young man beyond graduation.

Realizing his calling

During one such mission Nour realized his calling to use his profession in helping as many people as he can in as many parts of the poorer world.

Sometime in the early 1990s, he found a very sick young girl, barely in her teens, while on the road in an African country. Nour took her off the street and brought her back from a fever that made her unconscious.

“She was very frail when I found her, and even when she finally opened her eyes, I knew she was still in very bad shape.” Hardly able to speak from her condition, the girl struggled to inform her caregiver that she had no money to pay him for treating her.

“I told her she didn’t need to pay me. The next thing she did was to pull out a little black pouch from the pocket of her tattered clothes and weakly flung it on the table.”

Trying to hold back tears as he continued his story, Nour recounted how dust, a rusty pin, a small picture of Jesus and a gold ring fell from the pouch. “She said this is all I’ve got. She gave this ring to me and made me promise never to take it off,” he quietly added, showing his right hand.

Today, the ring serves as a constant reminder of Nour’s responsibility to help the poor and the sick. Tragically, the young girl died from complications, but her death has helped save countless other lives in the last decade, through some 70 medical clinics, which Nour and his group have set up in the poorest and most remote communities in the Third World.

Mission Philippines

According to Nour, the educational component of his work is fairly new, and was inspired by the stark reality that the developing nations are in desperate need of health-care workers.

“The lines are endless at medical missions, and there’s never enough time to get around to everyone in the limited number of days we have with them. At some point, I thought that if we could only train some of the members of the community to become doctors and nurses, then the people would have health care available to them all year round. They wouldn’t need to wait for the wealthier countries to help them.”

Using the Global Medical Academy as a springboard, Nour worked out a system that would generate funds for the project: “GMA is geared toward training 70 percent of students from First-World countries, which will make up for the tuition to support the 20 to 30 percent that we now want to enroll in the Philippines and in other developing nations.” To make sure he put his message across accurately, he declared: “We’re not asking for tuition; the Philippines gets a free program.”

Nour added that it is in this capacity that The Manila Times School of Journalism invited GMA to the country. “For the purpose of improving the economy, quality of education and standards of living through health care. Had it not been for this invitation, we probably would have gone somewhere else.”

Before coming to the Philippines, GMA instituted a large-scale operation in Bangladesh, which will serve as the model for the college it will establish at the Center for Excellence in Education at the Subic Bay Freeport. Once completed, the center, which sits on a three-hectare property, will offer additional internationally accredited degree programs in the arts and sciences, maritime, information technology and engineering, through two other colleges—The Manila Times School of Journalism and the US-based Seattle Maritime Academy.

“We aim to help”

“Because our main purpose is to help, the benefits of the whole system are multifaceted. In addition to the scholarship, we will also be able to promote local tourism and economy by bringing 70 percent of our First-World students on clinical rotation in hospitals and poor and remote communities here.” That single act will naturally result in money coming in from the First-World students, while instigating an improvement in health-care services.

“Moreover, we will use doctors and nurses here for the school, to help stimulate the economy. We also want to join courses with other medical schools and hospitals because our purpose is certainly not to compete with anyone but to become a team. This is beneficial to the rest of the academy because you have very high quality and competent doctors and nurses in the Philippines.”

A global commitment

Aware that GMA and its affiliate companies (Med Soft, Deda and Brain Monster, which operate the online component and market the project) arrived in the country at the tail end of the long-drawn-out nursing exam scandal, Nour disclosed, “Personally, the whole situation encouraged me to come here all the more because we have a program that promotes ethics and faith, and that’s part of our mission. We have a global commitment and our No. 1 priority is to make everything topnotch in terms of medical ethics. Our goal is not only to teach people medicine but to teach them how to be better persons, how to be better caregivers, and how to integrate their faith, learning and belief in God in the medical mission.”

Dr. Nour’s Mission Philippines team is composed of Michael Sanders, president; his wife, Kimberly Nour, chief financial officer; Dr. Mark Volpe, M.D., executive vice-president; and Josephine Merka, project relations officer.

Nour is concurrently chief executive officer and director of international development.

Ideally, Global Medical Academy would want future Filipino graduates to stay in the country and to take part in a more permanent and self-sufficient health-care service in far-flung communities and depressed areas. However, it is also aware that many Filipinos seek to find employment abroad.

To this, Dr. Nour responded: “Indigenous training is really what our work is all about, so we primarily look out for students who are willing to stay in their country once they get their degree.”

The institution is not just about textbooks, lectures and hands-on training. It is about a noble mission that needs, not just a mind for medicine, but a heart for compassion

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

EDITORIAL – Young and unemployed

The Philippine Star

Despite modest economic growth, the country isn’t producing enough employment opportunities. Adults can cope with this by finding jobs overseas. Most young workers do not have such opportunities. And they are the worst hit by the lack of jobs in developing countries, according to the International Labor Organization.

The ILO reported that youth unemployment is on the rise in developing countries, where young workers account for a greater proportion of the labor force than adults. From 1995 to 2005, the number of unemployed youths aged 15 to 24 jumped from 74 million to 85 million worldwide, the ILO reported.

The problem is slightly different in the Philippines, where laws against child labor ban adolescents and people in their late teens from joining the workforce. Yet youths can be seen working in farms and in hazardous places such as mines and makeshift firecracker factories. Poverty drives many families to make every able-bodied member earn his or her keep, with even girls working as housemaids. More unfortunate children are sold for sex.

For those who are old enough to work legally, however, there aren’t enough jobs in this country. The ILO said the highest youth unemployment rate was registered in Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog. Most of the unemployed were college undergraduates followed by high school and college graduates. The ILO attributed this to the deteriorating quality of Philippine education, discriminatory hiring practices and weak linkages between education and training institutions.

The government can address the problem with some help from the private sector. Programs can be developed to provide short-term training for youths so they can quickly enter the workforce in sectors where they are needed. Such employment opportunities can also be designed to allow young workers to pursue higher education or vocational training. There are many employment opportunities for young and able-bodied workers. With some training and coordination with the private sector, more young people can enter the workforce.