Public-private partnership tapped for flood warning system in Davao City

July 30, 2010

The partnership between the Davao City government, the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) and Smart Communications, Inc. (SMART) led to the setting up of a weather and flood alert system as part of the city’s disaster preparedness program.

 The warning system was launched during the inauguration of the Public Safety Command Center (PSCC) attended by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) deputy administrator Susan Espinueva, national and local government officials and other officials from the private sector.

 In a briefing, it was explained that the system consisted of the automated weather station (AWS), river level gauge, personal tracker, land and sea tracking devices which were fabricated and programmed by ADDU engineering faculty and students.

 The Ateneo students composed of Charese Olmoguez, Ann Marie Roselle Balinas and Flora May dela Cruz with Engr. Marloue O. Pidor as mentor,  made the concept and design and was funded by SMART.

These students created an upgraded version of the search and rescue management system which placed second during the 2008 SWEEP Innovation Awards organized by SMART.

SWEEP or Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program is an educational initiative of telecommunications firm of which ADDU is a partner-school.

Data generated by these devices once deployed will be transmitted via SMART’s cellular network to a website which can be accessed by the PSCC.

 PCSS head Mario Verner Sebial Monsanto said in cases where information would indicate the rise of water from where the gauges were deployed. This will be communicated immediately to the responders and to concerned officials and leaders.

He said SMART also donated 20 manual rain gauges and these units are deployed in the city’s flood-prone barangays. The barangay captains will then designate a point person to monitor these rain gauges everyday to ensure that the units are working and safe.

According to Mon Isberto, head of public affairs group of SMART he said that the AWS form the core of an early warning system for the city which has been experiencing floods in some of its districts in recent years.

Aside from the unit located within the Central 911 Compound, three more AWS will soon be deployed in SMART’s relay station in San Fernando, Bukidnon and cell sites in Marilog and Buda.

He said the reason they came in to support the project is because it is an idea that is demand driven as suggested by the Davao City officials.

 There is also a need since Davao City is experiencing flooding even when there is no rain and Davao City is the only city in the country that has the capability for now.

 “It is unique to Davao and no other local government unit has that capability,” he said.

Right now they are still developing the concept as to whether it is the ideal one because they still have to prove it.

“But the longer you do it, the more effective it becomes. And with more data collected you can already see relationships on how long and how big the water rises and its extent as to areas,” he said.

 He said when we will succeed with this, and then we can in the future share it with other local government units although he said they have already about 3 or 4 local government units (LGUs) already in mind.

The Ateneo group calibrated their AWS based on World Meteorological Organization (WMO) standards under the guidance of weather specialists from PAGASA.

 The group underwent a week-long immersion program with the state weather bureau. Complementary to the AWS is river monitoring instrument also developed by the engineering students and these will be set up along Bantol and Lacson Rivers and on the bridges of Suwawan and Waan, all in Davao City.

By observing both rainfall and river level information, the Davao’s Rescue 911 Service will be able to provide timely flood warning.

The original design of the disaster alert system to be implemented by Davao City where officials can better track sea vessels during emergencies was also expanded to track land vehicles where the ADDU group worked closely with Rescue 911, Davao City’s 24-hour emergency response team, and the Davao Gulf Management Council and the Philippine Coastguard in testing the sea and land-based prototypes.

 Two sea tracking devices will be issued to the Coast Guard while two land vehicle tracking device will be assigned to Rescue 911 for use in their ambulance and mobile patrol vehicle. A personal tracker has also been designed to be worn on the vest of Rescue 911 personnel. (PNA) LAP/DDB/lvp


RP Supermarkets group notes high consumer confidence

July 28, 2010

The Philippine Association of Supermarkets, Inc. (PASI) noted high consumer confidence in the country that is brought about by positive indicators of the economy.

PASI president Carlos V. Cabochan said under the leadership of President Benigno Aquino III, consumer confidence is up and shoppers are going back to the stores.

Cabochan said there is high confidence among consumers, the housing and commercial building constructions is also high as well as with car sales and shoppers are back into the stores.

“Given this, we look forward to an extended six years honeymoon period with the new leadership,” he said.

 However, the large retail and wholesale players have continued to expand their operations through outlets across geographical locations. Local independent retailers and wholesalers are beginning to feel the heat as chains penetrate regional locations.

And this has disrupted equilibrium in markets as sales activity with shift from one player to another and from one geographical location to another.

Manufacturers/suppliers have not been spared from this disruption as their volumes of sales are not constant across channels.

With this environment, they need to get new ideas and techniques from experts for the supermarket owners to respond in a changing retail and wholesale business environment and to strengthen their competitive positions.

Cabochan said the entry of big players is affecting the small ones and PASI will continue to assist the small ones on how to survive this big challenge.

PASI’s membership nationwide consists of 35 big companies, over 200 supermarkets and over 400 convenience stores.

He said they continue to look for a better collaboration between retailers and manufacturers to bring down costs and working together they become more efficient as well as maintain the prices.

 Meanwhile, Cabochan cited the Davao scenario where retailers here enjoy healthy competition because supermarkets become wholesalers for sari-sari stores owners.

 “The prices for both groceries and sari-sari stores are almost the same as they were able to maintain lower prices,” he said. Cabochan was here during the recently held PASI National Conference held at the Marco Polo Davao.(PNA) LDV/DDB/lvp

Real estate developers start green campaign in Davao City

July 27, 2010

 Developers of building structures and subdivisions in Davao City embark on the Davao Green campaign in support to the environment protection program of the government.

Carlos Vargas of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Association (CREBA) and coordinator of the Davao Green Campaign said their advocacy will focus on three concerns namely green development, green energy and green technology.

He admitted that developers in this city have yet to incorporate the Green Building and Green Architecture even as they have sought the help of the Davao City government to work on projects that would showcase their green campaign.

Vargas said they are thinking of setting up an area in Barangay Mintal here where they will showcase homes and locations that would follow everything related to their green campaign.

Green building, he said, is a bit expensive but this would turn out cost effective in the future.

“There are buyers of homes already looking at this concept and in fact some are interested and willing to follow environment friendly designs,” he said.

Green building, also known as green construction or sustainable building, as defined by Wikipedia is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from sitting of design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.

This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability and comfort.

Vargas said they already submitted a proposal to the city government for the mass transportation that will play to the different working areas here from their respective communities.

In this way, he said the number of vehicles will be reduced thus pollutions from cars may be reduced. He said they are eyeing a space in the downtown area where they could build a medium rise building for low cost occupancy with an estimated cost of P500,000 per unit.

He said locating residential units within the area of work would also be cost effective. The downtown area project is a consortium of the CREBA, he said adding this could be a start as well as support to their green campaign here. He said they are in constant talks with other CREBA associations in our cities of the country for them to get ideas and techniques on how to efficiently implement the green campaign as well as sustain their advocacy. (PNA) LDV/PDB/lvp

Davao City, an area for smoke-free studies of foreign countries

July 26, 2010

After the successful implementation of anti-smoking in Davao City, the city became the site for study-tour of foreign nationals that are starting to implement the ban of smoking in their countries.
Dr. Domilyn C. Villareiz, co-chair, Anti-Smoking Task Force of Davao City said they had been receiving visitors from other countries in order to observe the implementation of the ban of smoking in the city with their recent visitors from Hanoi, Vietnam and from Thailand.

She said scheduled to visit the city are groups from Malaysia and Indonesia and they are interested in the implementation of the program saying that they have package destination where they bring these foreign nationals to observe.

Mostly, she said are in restaurants, parks, malls and in areas that are often frequented by the public.

Given the success of implementing the Anti-Smoking Ordinance, Villareiz said they get to be invited to lecture or talk to gatherings abroad and in other parts of the country.

Villareiz attributed the success of the implementation to the concerted efforts of both private and government as well as the effective strategies they adopted based on the law provided under Republic Act 9211 and City Ordinance No. 043.

Other cities in the Philippines also has crafted their own laws namely San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, Talisayan, Misamis Oriental, Sorsogon City, Umingan, Pangasinan, Amlan, Negros Oriental, Baguio City, Hagonoy, Bulacan, Legaspi, Albay, Malabon, San Carlos City, Tabaco City, Albay.

She said Baguio, San Carlos and San Jose have similar ordinances with Davao City while most of the cities and municipalities anti smoking ordinance followed the definition of Davao on enclosed places. The 17 cities in Metro Manila will be implementing RA 9211.

Villareiz stressed that under RA 9211 are some provisions that involves advertisements and promotions of cigarette products.

She said cigarette is a legal industry product but with prohibitions under the law they have to implement it just in the case of advertisements and promotions they already issued notices to stores displaying signages of their stores with cigarette markings.

“Definitely this is not allowed by law and some 35 stores were given notices to remove the signages,” she said.

Distribution of collateral like parasols and t-shirts are prohibited and for the public to be wearing or using them will also be reminded and when caught the next will be given sanctions and fine, she said.

Contrary to what other quarters noted, she said anti-smoking is not a hindrance to progress and tourism and definitely there is an increase in tourist arrivals in the city.

The other benefit of anti-smoking campaign is that it helps people increase their life span considering that they will be spared of suffering from respiratory illnesses when they do not smoke.

Citing statistics, she said three out of 10 Filipinos smoke or about 34 percent are smokers.

She also said the cases in Davao City posted a drop in the lung cancer mortality and morbidity rate from 113 deaths in 2008. It dropped to 38 in 2009.

Villareiz said the World Health Organization (WHO) sponsored Tobacco and Poverty Study in the Philippines that was completed in 2006 revealed that among the poorest of the poor, 64 percent of their monthly expenditure is spent on food, while tobacco comprised 2.5 percent, bigger than clothing at 2.3 percent, education at 1.4 percent and health 0.9 percent.

The study also revealed that tobacco greatly contributes to poverty since tobacco users are at a high risk of falling ill or die prematurely of cancer, heart attacks, respiratory diseases or other tobacco-related diseases thus depriving families of much needed income and imposing burden on health care costs which are mainly “out-of-pocket” expenses.

Meanwhile, the anti-smoking campaign in Davao City started in 2002 and it already earned two international and one regional awards. One of the international awards was given by the World Health Organization in 2008 for its Anti-Smoking Ordinance.

Also last year, she said Davao City got a regional award from the South East Asia Tobacco Central Alliance for its extensive advocacy on anti-smoking.

The other international award will be given in February 2010 by the Global Smoke-Free Partnership (GSFP) Award for Governmental Body with Exemplary Leadership in Implementing Smoke Free Policies. Other countries that will be recognized together with Davao City are Guatemala, Colombia, Turkey and India but these are on participation of non-government organization. (PNA)

SM to open two more malls in Mindanao next year

July 26, 2010

SM will open its second mall in Davao City and one in General Santos City next year, according to Glenn D. Ang, SM Supermalls vice president for operations.Ang said with the coming in of two malls in the island, Mindanao will have four SM malls by 2011.

He said by the third quarter of 2011 these malls will start to operate and will be bringing in to Davao City the first hypermarket in the island.

He said General Santos City mall will have the same concept with the rest of the malls.

SM has an existing mall at Ecoland, Matina in Davao City and in Cagayan de Oro City.

Meanwhile, Ang said their existing 37 malls will have an addition of five this year, making the total number 42 by end of 2010.

He said every year, five new ones are added and more areas are in the plan.

Ang also said they want to establish call centers in the near future. “It is management direction to have a business process outsource (BPO) in every mall,” he said.

Likewise, Ang said their succeeding malls will adopt the Green Building scheme and one will be up by July of 2012.

Although he did not give details, he said this will follow green architectural designs, green landscape and environment-friendly facilities.

But he said their malls system-wide are now environment friendly as they adopt the use of less energy types of lamps and waterless urinals and the re-use of water for their cooling facilities.

“SM has a strong advocacy for the protection of the environment,” he said.

Ang also said part of their expansion program is the opening of SaveMore Stores and by end of 2011, this type of store will number about 200 nationwide.

Ang was in Davao City for the formal opening of the 11th Global Pinoy Center (GPC) at SM City here. The center at SM City Iloilo was also launched on the same day.(PNA)

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July 26, 2010

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SMI education program for IPs, employees continues

July 25, 2010

The education program of Sagittarius Mining, Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan, South Cotabato continues to help not only tribal groups as it also undertakes education program for its employees in order for them to better understand the local culture, specifically that of the Blaans.

At the 2009 Sustainability Report of the Tampakan Project it showed that the company’s Cultural Induction Program (CIP) consists of three modules that aim to provide staff and contractors an insight on how to relate with the B’laans.

The participants are contractors and employees from SMI’s various departments. The first module is an introduction to Blaan culture, through an extensive discussion of the Blaans’ history, belief systems, worldviews, customs and traditions.

 The second module gives tips on practices that should be observed when in a Blaan village, and dealing with Blaans in an office setting. The third underscores cultural commonalities with other dominant Philippine ethno-linguistic groups by encouraging the participants to understand and respect cultural differences, he said.

SMI operates a mining site in Tampakan town where its area covers three barangays, namely, Danlag, Tablo and Pulang Bato where deposits of copper is estimated at 2.4 billion metric tons containing 13.5 million metric tons of copper and 15.8 million ounces of gold.

The report also stated that SMI continues to demonstrate its commitment to social responsibility by contributing to the social, economic and institutional development of communities by forging meaningful partnerships with stakeholders.

In its website, it showed, among others, their support to the host community where in its report in 2008, it implemented the Tampakan Social Improvement Program (SIP) after an extensive stakeholder consultation process.

The SIP identifies and defines the projects that best respond to the key social challenges and opportunities in the host and neighboring communities. By focusing on education, health, skills training and enterprise development, it aims to help communities establish sustainable economies that can survive long after its operations end.

Particularly for the Tampakan Project, the SMI granted free elementary, high school and college education in the Tampakan communities benefitting some 5,700 students.

Meanwhile, SMI stressed that with their approach to sustainable development (SD), it will continually improve on performance, ensure the efficient use of resources and maintain a safe and healthy workplace as it create value for their stakeholders in order to contribute to a sustainable environment.

Acosta emphasizes that in achieving SD it must be safe, environmentally and socially responsible way between the people, the communities, government and other stakeholders.

The leaders of Blaan tribes in Tampakan town in South Cotabato continue to partner with SMI on projects that benefit the youth through scholarship program.

Danleg tribal chieftain Dalena Samling said their scholarship program is not only for the elementary and secondary levels but also college education. Samling said school ages belonging to their tribe are now in school.

“I am grateful of this opportunity kay sa akong panahon wala ko nakaeskwela (during my time I didn’t have the chance to go to school),” she said.

Her group comprises of 2,000 indigenous people (IPs) of the Blaan tribes who are residents of Barangay Danlag.

Sbangken tribal chieftain Tonio Binuhay, meanwhile said school age children of his tribe who are also B’laan of 1,800 are also beneficiaries of the program. He said of their college scholars, four already finished college education. He said this education program when sustained will help improve their quality of lives. The groups of Binuhay are residents of Barangay Tablo. (PNA) DCT/PDB/lvp