News Feature: Lions club continues giving light to visually-impaired persons

SAN FERNANDO CITY, May 9 (PIA) — Visually-impaired persons may still see the light under the Sight-First Program (SFP) of the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).

Since 1990, the SFP has helped restore eyesight of more than 30 million people around the world.

The LCIF said that more than $200 million had been invested in surgeries, improvement of hundreds of eye care facilities and training thousands of eye care professionals.

The program has supported sustainable rehabilitation and education projects that develop infrastructure, deliver eye care services and train personnel in underserved communities.

The LCIF, in partnership with Perkins International, Resources for the Blind, Inc. and Parent Advocates for Visually Impaired Children (PAVIC), launched the “Inclusive Education for Children with Visual Impairment” (IECVI) in 2011 in Luzon.

According to the LCIF, the project is aimed at increasing access to education by way of capacity-building of educators and school administrators and creating awareness within the school communities.

The project seeks to support parents and groups advocating for increased services and improved local and national policies.

The LCIF said that more than 1,400 students have received services in the year the program started while some 153 students were given clinical low vision assessments.

A total of 198 children re-enrolled in school through the Zero Dropout Rate program and 78 new schools that offered inclusive classrooms because of the Sight First’ training programs.

In the same year, at least 38 teachers participated in the university teacher training program, 108 school administrators who took part in Administrators orientation and 649 teachers and administrators attended the National Teachers Congress on Visual Impairment.

The PAVIC has trained 363 parents to help them develop an understanding of their children’s strengths and needs as well as skills to support their children’s learning.

Public schools nationwide were also given 732 textbooks in Braille nearly doubling the target and produced 391 books with tactile graphics using Braille, thermoform and swell papers.

The foundation said that parents whose children suffer from visual impairment may go to IECVI Grand Administrator Ralph Asuncion at Bethany Hospital, Inc. in San Fernando City in La Union to seek assistance. (MCA/MHH PIA1 La Union)#

Comelec-Ilocos Sur notes minor glitches in PCOS testing

VIGAN CITY, May 9 (PIA) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) encountered minor technical glitches during the final testing and sealing (FTS) of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in various clustered precincts in 17 towns in Ilocos Sur, including this city.

Provincial Elections Supervisor Alipio Castillo said that minor issues cropped up such as non-availability of ballot boxes to failure to put the machine in zero-status.

The poll body conducted the FTS in 200 clustered precincts in Alilem, Narvacan, San Esteban, San Ildefonso, San Juan, San Vicente, Santa, Sto. Domingo, Sinait and Sugpon.

Castillo said that the minor glitches did not affect the PCOS machines’ reliability.

In Vigan City with 48 clustered precincts, no FTS was conducted due to non-availability of ballot boxes. In the nearby town of Bantay with 38 clustered precincts, the Comelec failed to conduct FTS in two precincts because the ballot boxes were not yet delivered

The Comelec also reported a minor problem in Caoayan where the PCOS could not be re-zeroed because the maximum number of re-zero operations has already been performed.

He added that even in the hinterland of Del Pilar, the PCOS machines could not be re-zeroed because of similar status which required technical assistance.

Castillo said that the same situation occurred in Poblacion, Salcedo town and in Barangay San Lucas in Magsingal town where the PCOS failed to return to zero.

He said the minor errors are not a cause for concern in the coming elections. (MCA/BPP-PIA 1 Ilocos Sur)#

Ilocos Sur Pabahay project opens doors to occupants

STO. DOMINGO, Ilocos Sur City, May 9 (PIA) — The 20-unit Pabahay Project in the village of Napo, Santo Domingo is now ready for occupancy.

Mayor Amado Tadena said seven months after its ground breaking and awarding ceremony in August last year, the houses come with a kitchen and toilet-bath and an option for owners to install partitions for private rooms. Each unit covers a floor area of 20 sq. meters.

The local government partnered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to support the program.

Fe Valencia, municipal social Welfare development Officer, said at least 20 beneficiaries were chosen from the poor sector and who do not own homes and are merely living with relatives.

She added some beneficiaries were also chosen from a community which lost their homes due to the destructive typhoon Feria in 2009.

Through the Cash for Work Program, the DSWD provided assistance worth P378,000 for the site development, P111,600 for labor and P405,000 for the project’s completion.

The DSWD Core Shelter Assistance Program awarded each beneficiary at least P70,000 for materials or a total of 1.4 Million for the 20 beneficiaries.

The local government donated the lot with an area of 1500 sq. meters worth P327,250 and materials for back filling and concreting of pathway and canal costing P220,000.

After the completion of the project, the beneficiaries are expected to improve the area through greening, beautification and keeping the surroundings clean. (MCA/MNOA/sto. domingo.gov.ph/PIA1Ilocos Sur)

DSWD advises 4Ps beneficiaries to vote freely

DAGUPAN CITY, May 9 (PIA) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) advised beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to vote freely.

DSWD Region-I Assistant Regional Director Marlene Febes-Peralta said that several local chief executives have threatened beneficiaries to de-list them from the program if they would not give their support in the coming polls.

“Beneficiaries should not allow themselves to be coerced into voting for such candidates,” Peralta said in an interview.

Peralta said that the DSWD is lodged with the authority to identify which families should be listed or de-listed from the program and not the mayors.

“Although incumbent [officials] help us with the program, we [DSWD] ourselves do not tell the beneficiaries whom to vote for,” she said.

“Beneficiaries should not be used as instruments during the election,” she added.

Peralta said that her office has also intensified its Anti-Epal campaign and has already warned three local chief executives who have tried using the ploy.

Because of such warnings, the DWSD is sometimes interpreted by incumbent officials as biased toward the opposing candidates.

“Some of our staff had been threatened with removal from service. Officials need not threaten anyone if their track records are really good,” Peralta said.

She said that the beneficiaries are easy to mobilize and convince, particularly if they are promised some money.

“The public should help these poor people. They will get poorer if they get exploited,” she added. (MCA/ARRF—PIA 1-Pangasinan)#

Tagalog news: Development council sa Ilokos, muling sinuri ang RDP

LUNGSOD NG SAN FERNANDO, La Union, Mayo 8 (PIA) — Nagpulong kamakailan ang Development Council sa Ilokos upang suriin ang Ilocos Region Development Plan (RDP) para maitugma ito sa Philippine Development Plan (PDP).

Ayon kay Juan Ngalob, direktor ng National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) sa Ilokos, kailangang pag-aralan o suriin muli ang regional plan upang ang mga isyu at problema sa rehiyon ay maisaalang-alang sa pagbabago ng mga polisiya at estratehiya ng PDP.

“Mahalaga na muling pag-aralan ang regional plan upang maisasalarawan ito sa pambansang kaunlaran,” sabi ni Ngalob noong pagpupulong sa Hotel Ariana sa bayan ng Bauang kamakailan.

Ito ay alinsunod sa Memorandum Sirkulo Blg. 43 na linagdaan ni Pangulong Aquino noong Pebrero ngayong taon na nagsasaad na ang NEDA ay tumulong sa pagsasagawa ng muling pag-aral at pagsusuriipara sa pagbabago ng PDP gayundin ang Result Matrix (RM) at ang Public Investment Program.

Dumalo sa pagpupulong ang mga pinuno ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno, pamahalaang lokal, pribadong sektor, non-government organization, paaralan, civil society at kinatawan ng NEDA mula sa Central Office.

Ipinakita ni Ngalob ang mga mahahalagang estratehiya sa pagbabalangkas ng rehiyon para sa taong 2014-2016, na siyang basehan sa pagsusuri ng regional plan.

Ang regional plan ay ibinase sa mga sektor na prayoridad ng national plan gaya ng economic development, climate change, good governance, human development at security, justice and peace.

Ayon pa kay Ngalob, layunin nito na tumaas ang ekonomiya ng rehiyon ng pitong porsiyento sa mabagal ngunit siguradong paraan. (MCA/MBR-PIA 1 La Union)

Widespread power outage hits Luzon grid

LAOAG CITY, May 8 (PIA) — The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said a deficiency in power supply caused a widespread power failure in the Luzon grid affecting Northern and Central Luzon provinces.

Lilibeth Gaydowen, NGCP communications officer, said at least two power generating plants imposed an emergency shutdown due to a power shortage of 3,700 megawatts as of 2:30 pm today.

“We could not immediately determine what specific areas have been affected but reports from the field said the power outage is widespread,” she said on telephone.

Reports from the provincial information centers of the Philippine Information Agency showed that the Ilocos provinces from Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan had no power beginning 2 pm.

Gaydowen clarified that the power failure was not caused by the NGCP or by distribution utilities like electric cooperatives.

“This was caused by generation deficiency which is beyond the control of NGCP,” she added.

She said restoration has been immediately implemented even as no information was given when power will be restored.

Asked what happens if it was Election Day and power failure occurred, Gaydowen said: “We have contingencies in place. We would have to ask other generation plants to fill the gap.” (MCA-PIA1 Ilocos Norte)

Comelec keeps close watch on Pagudpud polls

LAOAG CITY, May 8 (PIA) — The Commission on Elections is keeping a close watch on Pagudpud town following a clash between supporters of mayoral candidates in that town on Tuesday.

Lawyer Joel Gines, provincial election supervisor, said he will wait for the recommendation of the Philippine National Police on whether to elevate Pagudpud as under area of immediate election concern as a result of the incident.

Pagudpud is one of three towns previously placed by Comelec-Ilocos Norte as area of concern next to Dingras and Marcos.

“No matter what status, we will closely monitor Pagudpud,” Gines said in a telephone interview.

He said the Comelec and PNP have agreed to deploy more policemen to secure the area after initial coordination meetings since Tuesday.

Gines said Chief Supt. Ricardo Marquez, Ilocos Police Regional Director, went to Pagudpud early morning today to personally supervise police visibility and security and ease political tension between the rival parties.

At least two persons have died and another remained in serious condition following an exchange of gunfire between the supporters of re-electionist Pagudpud Mayor Matilde Sales and her rival incumbent vice mayor Marlon Sales in barangay Poblacion in that town on Tuesday.

Police said killed was Ryan Calventas, Matilde Sales’ bodyguard and supporter, and Roger Ragasa, a supporter of Marlon Sales. Ragasa was taken to the provincial hospital for treatment where he eventually died. Remedios Asuncion, a bystander whose house is near the area where the incident took place, remains in critical condition.

The police have yet to confirm whether the incident was a shootout or an ambush after the candidates’ supporters, who were on board separate vehicles, caught up on a road in Barangay Poblacion.

Marlon, younger brother of former Mayor Reynolan Sales and husband of Matilde, is running for the first time against his sister-in-law.

Marlon’s wife Emilen ran against Matilde in the mayoral post in 2010 and lost.

Matilde Sales also survived an ambush in 2010 after she won the mayoral seat. (MCA/PIA1 Ilocos Norte)