Regional Updates (02/16/21)

80-ha area in national penitentiary to be used as urban agri site

A FARM-fishery project will be developed within the national penitentiary’s 80-hectare reservation area as part of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) urban farming program. The DA announced on Tuesday that it recently signed an agreement with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) for the agriculture initiative at the New Bilibid Prison located in Muntinlupa City. The project aims to help augment food supply in Metro Manila while contributing in the reformation of persons deprived of liberty. “In three years, plant nurseries, seed production facilities, breeder farms, fish farms, and composting facilities will be established, while maintaining fruit, vegetable, livestock, and fish farms within the 80-hectare New Bilibid Prison reservation,” the DA said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

DENR to tighten implementation of rules as Mt. Apo monitoring team finds trash, defaced boulders

ENVIRONMENT authorities in Davao Region are studying how to strengthen the implementation of rules for trekkers in Mt. Apo after a monitoring team that hiked the country’s highest peak over the weekend found trash and defaced boulders along the different trails. “Observations during the activity also led to pushing for stricter trekking rules because trekkers seemed to ignore the existing policies,” the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s (DENR) regional office said in a statement posted Monday evening. “Trails and campsites were not just left with traces of footprints — so were empty soda and water bottles, face masks, and all other kinds of trash. Disappointingly, liquors and traces of drug substances were also observed in the area. Boulders were not just imprinted with footsteps and handgrips — it’s also engraved with vandalism,” the agency said on the post accompanied by photos that included one showing a boulder scratched with the marking “D.A CLIMBERS.” Prior to the weekend climb, DENR Regional Executive Director Bagani Fidel Evasco led a meeting with stakeholders on Feb. 10 to discuss new policies and health protocols as well as ways to boost conservation efforts as Mt. Apo reopens to visitors. Currently, only residents within the region are allowed to trek or climb, and the maximum number of daily visitors given a pass has been reduced to 25 from the previous 50. The open trails are from Digos City and Sta. Cruz, both in Davao del Sur. DENR-Davao, which chairs the Protected Area Management Board handling Mt. Apo policies, also appealed to trekkers to “be responsible” tourists or face fines and penalties. “Again, we are strongly reminding the public to trek responsibly and to respect all the species inside Mt. Apo. It is all our duty to protect the ‘King of Philippine Mountains’ from exploitation as it is also a royalty when it comes to mitigating the threats of climate change,” DENR-Davao said.

South Cotabato, North Kalimantan explore sisterhood agreement to boost economic ties

THE South Cotabato provincial government is looking at a possible sisterhood agreement with the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan to boost trade and investment links. In a statement on Monday, South Cotabato said Indonesian Consul General Dicky Fabrian recently visited and met with Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Jr. to discuss the possible “Town Twinning Arrangement” between the two provinces. “With the sisterhood arrangement, the Consul General ensured Governor Tamayo to help South Cotabato in whatever means to enable the businessmen in the province to export their quality products. The ConGen also promised to persuade more Indonesian Investors to locate in the province since he already witnessed the potentials of South Cotabato especially for both agriculture and tourism,” the province said. Mr. Tamayo, for his part, pushed for the development of medical tourism, which is one of the province’s priority sectors. As a start to strengthening relations, an Indonesian Village will be developed in the town of Tupi, which already has a community of Indonesian nationals. The officials are also looking at a possible school-to-school link for student exchange and study programs. The two provinces are part of the regional sub-group East ASEAN Growth Area composed of Brunei and parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. — MSJ