Pangasinan board seeks more active anti-drug abuse council

By Elsha Marie Soriano
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Alarmed with the incidents of drug abuse, the Pangasinan provincial board has asked local government officials to reactivate or organize anti-drug abuse councils in the villages.
In a resolution, Board Member Amado Espino, III called on all towns and cities through their Liga ng Mga Barangay Municipal or City Federation President to immediately reactivate and organize their anti-drug abuse councils to ensure the promotion of health and safety within their respective areas of jurisdiction.
“Every LGU should exercise stronger political will and exert more efforts to combat illegal drug abuses that continuously threaten people’s lives and safety,” Espino said.

Espino cited records of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Pangasinan showing that only 1,111 of the 1,364 barangays in the province have organized their local anti-drug abuse council.
“There is a need to prioritize the organization or reactivation of anti-drug abuse councils …. to strengthen the drive of every locality to fight this illegal drug abuse which is a menace to the society,” the resolution said.
Espino said the council will focus on the formulation of anti-drug abuse plans and the monitoring of suspicious activities within their jurisdiction. (MCA/EMBS/PIA-1, Pangasinan)

‘Old bills’ still legal tender until Dec 2015 – BSP

BY VENUS MAY H. SARMIENTO
DAGUPAN CITY – The New Design Series (NDS) of Philippine money-now tagged as old bills remain legal tender until December 2015.
Anna Liza Catan, public information officer of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)-Dagupan branch, said the NDS can only be used in public transactions until next year only.
“Starting January 1, 2016, the NDS is no longer legal tender. However, it can be exchanged at the BSP or at any BSP-authorized agent bank until December 31, 2016,” Catan told the Philippine Information Agency.
By January 1, 2017, the NDS will cease to be a liability of the BSP and shall be considered demonetized, which means it can no longer be exchanged at the BSP or any BSP-authorized bank, Catan explained.
The BSP advised the public that only the New Generation Currency (NGS) or the ‘new bills’ can be used for transaction starting 2016. (MCA/VHS/PIA-1-Pangasinan)

Ilocos officials want decommissioned church declared as national heritage

By Freddie G. Lazaro
PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte – Officials of this historic town are seeking the declaration of its decommissioned church as national cultural heritage to give way for its immediate restoration.
Piddig town mayor Eduardo Guillen said they are working on having the 204-year-old Saint Anne parish church proclaimed as a heritage structure by the National Commission of Culture and Arts (NCCA).
“Once our request for declaration of the church as national heritage is granted, our government will look for necessary funds for its restoration,” he said.
“We are seeking the restoration of our historical church because this is one of the famous landmarks of our rich heritage and cultures in Piddig,” he added.
Congressman Rodolfo Fariñas (1st district, Ilocos Norte) has expressed his full support in looking for appropriate funds for the church’s immediate restoration.
Last September 14, Bishop Renato Mayugba of the Diocese of Laoag celebrated the last mass at the Saint Anne parish church before it was decommissioned due to the building’s weakening structure.
Piddig, 21 kilometers east of Laoag City, is a former “visita” (a community with a chapel) of neighboring Dingras town.

In 1798, Piddig was established as a town while Saint Anne parish was founded by the Augustinian friars in 1810 with Father Isidro Champaner as its first parish priest.
During the Philippine-American War, the church’s building was used as command post by a 5-man Filipino guerilla group to deter the attack of the American soldiers.
On March 19, 1932, a tremor destroyed the top section of the church’s bell tower but this was repaired.
In the World War II, the convent and the sacristy were gutted by fire destroying the church’s records. Its facade and its interior were restored in 1965.
It was learned that the convent was later repaired and converted into a parochial school, the Saint Anne Academy.
The capitals of the columns of the first level have cylindrical, inverted crenellation-like carvings that indicate a Muslim influence, while the second level has a round apex.
The original wooden pulpit and five neo classical retablos made from brick and lime are found inside the church. The central retablo contains the image of St. Anne holding Mary on her lap. (MCA/Freddie G. Lazaro, PIA- 1 Ilocos Norte)

PNoy sees need for more labor officers to oversee companies

BY VENUS MAY H. SARMIENTO
DAGUPAN CITY – President Benigno Aquino III has approved the creation of more labor officers who will enforce labor laws among private companies.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the President granted the creation of more positions to comply with the International Labor Standards regulation of one labor officer to 120 establishments-ratio.
Baldoz, who was in Pangasinan to award certificates of labor compliant establishments, said DOLE’s 193 inspectors is no match to 784,000 companies and establishments in the country.
“The President immediately instructed the Budget Department to make the necessary action to realize the 372 new plantilla items so that DOLE can fulfil its mandate. That’s how serious the government is in addressing labor and employment problems of the country,” Baldoz said.
President Aquino also instructed Budget Secretary Butch Abad to provide additional budget for gadgets to be used in monitoring labor establishments, Baldoz added.
The President, however, gave two conditions in granting the labor sector’s wish. One is to preserve jobs and to help encourage companies to invest in the Philippines to create more jobs for Filipinos, said Baldoz.
“The President said existing jobs must be preserved and we have to make sure that new companies will not have a hard time complying with labor laws of the country which could turn them off from investing in the Philippines,” she added.
President Aquino told DOLE to continue protecting not only the companies but also the manpower and make sure that all workers get the necessary benefits due them. (MCA/VHS/PIA-1/Pangasinan)