ILOILO City Schools Division Superintendent Nelly Valerio still refuses to release to the public the results of the 2013 National Achievement Test (NAT).

In her answer to Councilor Jason Gonzales’ letter asking her to furnish the City Council with the NAT results, the beleaguered education official said:

“We believe that NAT test results cannot be made public and are not for ranking purposes as this may create negative interpretations, comparisons and assumptions from among public and private schools.”

Now we know why the lady official cannot release the results despite the fact that they are public documents, and even if public interest is involved.

Even her grammar is miserably awry. The subject in her sentence is “results” (plural). But the pronoun she used is “this” (singular).

No wonder the NAT results in her district are the lowest among 18 schools divisions in Region 6.

We urge Councilor Gonzales to summon Valerio to appear before the City Council so that she could shed light on the embarrassing and demeaning results of the NAT, and that some remedial measures could be made to improve the performance of Iloilo City students.

Councilor Gonzales could also summon Regional Director Corazon Brown of the Department of Education because she was quoted as saying that the NAT results do not gauge the capacity and performance of students.


1) RODOLFO B. ENCAJONADO, director of the Civil Service Commission in Region 6, has sent us a hard-bound and very useful copy of the 2014 CSC Journal.

One of best regional officials in the country, Director Encajonado is an exemplary public servant whose performance and sterling leadership make him an essential asset to government service.


2) WE were told that Madam Myrna Castillo, Iloilo Schools Division superintendent, wanted to pay a food caterer but was warned by a Commission on Audit personnel not to release the amount (about P500,000) because there was a defect in the documents.

The food expense was incurred during a despidida party in honor of then outgoing superintendent, Dr. Raymundo Lapating.

3) AKLAN’s Gov. Joeben Miraflores, who has been undefeated all through these years since he started his political career, remains a strong and popular leader. So far, nobody can hold a candle to him when it comes to public service.

With Cong. Ted Haresco, their teamwork in public service effectively solidifies the forces in Aklan province.


CORAZON Brown, Department of Education director of Western Visayas, possesses a strong personality.

She is strict insofar as office policies and programs are concerned.

With an exacting attitude and a disciplinarian character, Director Brown has successfully instilled a set of behavior upon her subordinates, which actually lead to the latter’s personality refinement and development.

Looking younger than her age, the 64-year-old official is highly regarded and respected by those in the teaching profession – despite her occasional tantrums.

Calling a spade a spade, Mrs. Brown is known for being brutally frank in her interactions with people under her province.

But it is this candid and straightforward manifestation of character that endears her to the people.


THERE is truth to coffee shop talks that two opposing political factions in Capiz will unite and let bygones be bygones.

During the recent birthday of Cong. Tony del Rosario, Cong. Fredenil Castro, along with mayors in the 2nd District on one hand, and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Gov. Vic Tanco on the other hand, met in an atmosphere of amity.

With this panorama, it is easier to foretell that Capiz will give Secretary Mar a triumphant victory over his would-be presidential opponents in the 2016 election.

Cong. Tony, like former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, expertly ironed out some kinks that once created a wide chasm between two leaders in the province.

The gathering of political bigwigs was also sweetened by the presence of beauty queens – Miss Universe (2013) 3rd runner-up Ariela Arida and Miss International (2013) Bea Rose Santiago.


THE island of Boracay should be converted into a municipality, separate and distinct from the town of Malay.


It is because the tourist island, which is under the municipality of Malay, remains undeveloped. Its basic services are wanting, if not neglected.

Composed of three barangays, Boracay can survive alone and, in fact, can be more progressive and developed without any intervention from Malay.

Once it is a distinct municipality, Borcay can improve its health services, public works projects, peace and order, environmental concerns, transportation system, telecommunication facilities, urban planning, drainage and garbage system, etc.

For as long as this tourist spot remains under the jurisdiction of Malay, this beautiful tourist spot will continue to degrade and lose its grandeur.

We hope this matter will get the attention of Cong. Ted Haresco, Gov. Joeben Miraflores and other officials.


WE are enthralled and totally fascinated by the beauty of Sea Wind Hotel and Resort in Boracay.

Its wide and spacious beach front is one of the most exciting in the scenic island.

Peaceful and quiet, the air in Sea Wind invigorates man’s total senses and health because of its preserved natural environment. Trees give cleaner oxygen needed by our body.

Right in front of its main building is a hilly area -- full of tress and verdant plants. Abundant water irrigates the plants as if the scorching heat of the sun could not penetrate man’s skin pores.

There is a swimming pool up there, and at night all around is nature’s sound enlivening the soul.

Clean and orderly, Sea Wind is an amazing paradise.

Owned by Inday Ruth Tirol-Jarantilla and expertly managed by her son, Jose Roberto T. Cocjin, Sea Wind is a favorite destination and home of Class A tourists who want to get their money’s worth.


EDITORIAL (A Code of Conduct in the South China Sea)

A  Code of Conduct in the South China Sea

OPTIMISM runs high that China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states are closer more than ever in formulating a Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea.

Chinese and ASEAN officials are scheduled to meet in the Thai city of Pattaya on April 21 to accelerate the process.

The upcoming meeting comes amid critical developments in the region, including China’s declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the disputed East China Sea, the implementation of Hainan Island’s new fishing regulations, and the Philippines’ decision to file a case against China before a United Nations-backed Arbitral Tribunal.

It was on September of the previous year when China and ASEAN launched the official consultation on a CoC. This was during the 6th China-ASEAN senior officials’ meeting and the ninth joint working group meeting on the implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea held in Suzhou, China. The said meeting was considered a turning point; China expressed willingness to work with ASEAN on a CoC.

During the discussions, Chinese and ASEAN senior officials agreed on the modality of moving forward and continue official consultations on the CoC on a regular basis, and make regular reports to Foreign Ministers.

They also tasked a Joint Working Group (JWG) to hold in-depth discussions on all aspects of the CoC, including consideration of expert services that would support the work of official consultations.

Last month, officials at the working level met in Singapore to review the progress and prepare recommendations for the Pattaya meeting.

As expected, during both meetings, the Philippines, one of the South China Sea claimants along with Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, expressed its position that the CoC should be legally-binding and be developed through a deliberate process of intergovernmental negotiations.

The Philippines also called for respect for principles of the DoC, particularly the non-use of force or coercion.

For the Pattaya meeting, ASEAN and China are expected to hold in-depth discussion on at least six key common elements that could be incorporated in what would be the final CoC draft.

This includes ways to strengthen political trust to ensure productive discussion, commitments to the principles laid down in the United Nations Charter, UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and other relevant documents.

Another important principle is the mutual respect for each other’s independence and sovereignty, and freedom of navigation.

Practical maritime cooperation will also be touched during the meeting, particularly proposed joint projects and activities of China and ASEAN such as the P123-million proposal to examine tuna stocks in the South China Sea that has already been approved by China.

This will be the first China-funded project (with a fund allocation of $500 million).

Finally, the most important element in the consultations is the commitment to resolve territorial and juridical disputes in the region by peaceful means.

Three more official consultations on the CoC are scheduled after the meeting in Pattaya – Jakarta in June and Bangkok in October, both at the working group level, and a senior official level to be held in Bangkok.

Hopefully, the said meetings will lead to substantive progress on the CoC.


PEOPLE POWWOW By HERBERT VEGO (A ‘fit to work’ certification is presumed truthful)

A ‘fit to work’ certification is presumed truthful

WHEN a seaman gets a “fit to work” certification from a shipping agency’s physician but gets sick in his first month at work on board a vessel, could such certification be deemed null and void and exculpate the employer from responsibility over the employee?

This was the question that a newly-employed seaman had to overcome in his favor in his quest for permanent disability compensation.

It all began when Flexy Manalansan applied for work as mess man with the shipping agency Anglo-Philippines. He appeared healthy and was confirmed to be so after undergoing the requisite pre-employment medical examination. The company physician thereafter signed his “fit to work” certification.

On November 5, 2012, Manalansan boarded the overseas vessel MV Karoline N as mess man after signing a nine-month employment contract at a salary of $430 per month.

Very unfortunately, after only 17 days on the job, Manalansan complained of total body weakness and difficulty in breathing. His blood serious registered at 139/89.

The ship physician confined him in his cabin, tethered to an oxygen tank. He was also given oral medicine.

The medication, however, did little to alleviate his condition. Since their ship was nearing the port of Balboa, Panama, the ship master ordered the immediate disembarkation of the mess man for treatment at Clinica Einstein on December 13, 2012.

A Panamanian doctor assessed him to be no longer fit to work and recommended his repatriation to the Philippines for evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon.

Back in Manila, he could no longer walk. His family had to make representation with the shipping agency for further medical assistance. To his surprise, not one of the company physicians paid him a home visit.

He knew that the shipping agency was ignoring its responsibility as stipulated in their employer-employee contract.

But since his immediate concern was to recover, he borrowed money to have himself treated by a neurosurgeon, Dr. Amado San Luis, at St. Luke’s Hospital on February 7, 2013. After conducting a series of physical, neurological and laboratory examinations, the doctor certified that the patient’s illness was work-related, incurred while on the job.

The doctor’s certificate, however, did not change the position of the ship agency, which insisted that he had been sick before boarding vessel.

It was at this juncture that Manalansan sought the legal help of the Free Legal Assistance for Seafarers (FLAS), which instituted a case for recovery of total and permanent disability benefits before a labor arbiter of the National Labor Relations Commission.

FLAS maritime law expert Atty. Pete Linsangan argued that his client, having been certified “fit to work” by the company physician, was entitled to permanent disability benefits amounting to $60,000 plus 120 days of hospital confinement and/or medication at company expense.

The arbiter ruled in Manalansan’s favor, affirming that “a total disability is considered permanent if it lasts continuously for more than 120 days.

The shipping agency eventually paid Manalansan the cash amount sought and refunded all his medical expenses.

If you have seafaring relatives with labor problem, you may visit the FLAS office at GSAT, 2nd Flr. Jamerlan Bldg., Iznart St., Iloilo City or listen to the radio program “Tribuna sang Banwa” on Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo every Sunday, 12:30 noon to 1:30 p.m. Program host Neri Camiña may be contacted via by cell phone number 09173288742./PN


VIEWPOINTS BY ABP. OSCAR CRUZ (Abandoned and left unanswered)

Abandoned and left unanswered

“MY GOD, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:47)

For having preached the infallible truths about God and man, for having converted people to leave the life of vice and to instead live the life of virtue, for having comforted the afflicted, fed the hungry, cured the sick...there was Christ scourged, crown with thorns and nailed to the cross.

No wonder then that His very “Fourth Word” was some kind of complaint mixed with wondering. He felt abandoned and thus asked the question, “Why? After following Your will, after fulfilling the task You gave Me, after doing what I had to, why have You abandoned Me?”

Just thinking aloud in all sincerity and candor -- with the least intention of offending much less insulting anybody but simply bringing the “Fourth Word” of Christ to ground reality, the people of the Philippines can and may readily ask some questions, too, addressed to the government, to the present administration in particular.

And just as no answer was given to the question of Christ, much less will the Filipinos receive any answer from the powerful individuals lording over them -- for the past four years at least. Some of their more perplexing and disturbing questions are the following:

* Why is it that we barely have food to eat, old clothes to wear, shanties to live it while you wallow in abundance, live luxuriously, have palatial homes, ride luxurious vehicles? Why?

* Why is it that we pay all kinds of taxes from birth to death, pay even for the use of public utilities and yet do not feel the reality of public welfare supposed to be rendered by public servants. Why?

* Why is it that there are more and more crimes against lives and properties, more and more criminals uncaught and unpunished notwithstanding all kinds of law enforcers paid by public taxes. Why?

* Why is it that once caught and brought to face the law, the bigger personalities involved, the more favors and privileges they have, the bigger and better accommodations they have and enjoy? Why?

* Why is it that a big number of those we elected into public offices -- previously proclaiming their integrity and repeatedly promising their honesty -- are in fact big practitioners of graft and corruption? Why?/PN


WV paddlers dominate nat’l PRISAA badminton



BACOLOD City – Western Visayas dominated the individual badminton competition of the just-concluded 2014 Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) National Games in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

The region bagged three out of five titles.

Mike Minuluan won the men’s singles while teammate Christian Sison was first runner-up.

Central Visayas’ Archangelo Ouano and Kevin Bergantin placed second runners-up.

Minuluan and Sison were also part of the Region 6 team that ruled the men’s team tie.

Minuluan was adjudged Most Valuable Player (MVP).

Western Visayas’ Aprille Diane Bibiano won the women’s singles title while teammate Aizyl Joy Anuales was first runner-up.

Central Visayas’ JeralynTaboada and Fretze Kate Tero were second runners-up.

Region 6 also dominates the team tie competition with Anuales adjudged as MVP.

Jay biñas was cited as Best Coach in both divisions.

In the women’s doubles, Region 6’s Dhessa Mae Arino and Precious Mae Ballenas ruled.

Host Region 11’s Elaine Gamboa and Pia Fabros placed first runners-up.

In the men’s doubles, Central Visayas’ Jeffrey Lepaopao and John Enrique Estorba won the title.  Region 12’s EJ Estimo and Erwin Dizon were first runners-up while CALABARZON’s (R4-) Erwin John Carlos and Joseph Franklin Ciosas and host Region 11’s Eddie Gacayan and Oliver Lasaca were second runners-up.

In mixed doubles, Region 10’s Antonio Pacupia and Charity Faith Bacarro won the title.

Erwin Dizon and Elaine Gamboa of Region 12 were the first runners-up while Central Visayas’ (Region 7) Jeffrey Lepaopao and Yerha Silawan and Region 6’s Keanu Glen Taclas and Princess Minie Ballenas settled for second runner-up honors./PN

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