Higaonons get only 3% of job slots

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #netizenmedia

caption: Dencio S. Lipiahan, Sr. (aka Datu Lolong) sits as national chairman of the Higaonon Tribe. He is seen here facilitating a ritual before a tribal assembly tackling concerns on division even among a supposed most organized tribe in Mindanao.

MISAMIS ORIENTAL, NORTHERN MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES — Acquisition of technical education and improved basic life skills are seen to surpass current chances of Higaonons to be accepted into important job sectors.

According to Datu Dencio S. Lipiahan, Sr. of the Talugan Ta Tagoloan – Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation, only three of 100 Higaonons qualify for important jobs like that in government, in the academe, in the manufacturing and labor sectors.

“That’s why we have put up a training center because what most Higaonons here lack in general education, they can learn from technical education specialists.” It was learned that Talugan Ta Tagoloan (TTT), in coordination with TESDA and employers based in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, open training on housekeeping, practical electricity, carpentry and mason works.

“We also tap some ex-abroad (members of the tribe who have previous experience of overseas work) to help in the training especially on certain adjustments to Middle East culture, how to handle work-related pressure and crisis, how to behave properly as an overseas contract worker, how to deal with home sickness, and the like,” the Supremo of the TTT said.

In a year’s time, around 30 members of the TTT have been deployed. Around 300 workers are needed in the housekeeping and carpentry sectors.

Further, Datu Lolong lamented of the fact that around P12 million funds were lost to non-Higaonon recipients. “Projects worth P400,000 and another around P12 million, that I know of, have been channeled to the wrong agencies and organizations with non-tribal members. We have not benefited from these. So it is best that when help comes to Higaonons, there is a legitimate organization like TTT to deal with, so project implementers will know the current needs of a tribe of which lands and forests are its people’s natural heritage.”

TTT office is in Balingasag, Talusan, Misamis Oriental; email taluganhigaonon@yahoo.com. It is registered under SEC #201329165, with TIN #436-294-976.

Datu Lolong is the national chairman and chief executive officer of the Talugan Ta Tagoloan – Supreme Council of Datus/Baes, Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation.###

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Hack-tivism is real deep penetration

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #citizenmedia

So I missed the 8th Rootcon? And I’m about to throw fits. It was in a Rootcon thingie that I got surrounded by 99 hackers, and how it felt sooo good, it aches to be left out.

 

What I remember most is meeting lawyer Al Vitangcol III who inspired me to scribble this piece, which saw print first in Cebu’s longest-running community daily, The FREEMAN. Read on:

“The reality is that the government and even the private firms do not have an established and effective security mechanism to protect computer systems and communication networks, including the Automated Elections System, from determined hackers.”

If you find this at the concluding portion of a report on “…Automation and Electoral Fraud,” penned by lawyer Al Vitangcol III, would you trust the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines again?

Vitangcol, a treasure trove when it comes to computer/network security, graced the “Rootcon 5 Hackers Conference” here in Cebu City, Central Philippines as one of the event’s valuable resource speakers. However, he refused to give a categorical answer to the question if there was indeed tampering of election results during the 2010 polls given the premise that “no system is 100-percent hack-proof.”

Instead, the Information Technology specialist and the Philippines’ first (and only lawyer) Electronic Commerce Council-certified computer hacking forensic investigator referred me to a report he presented to the Senate during one of the house’s “investigation in aid of legislation” on the alleged vulnerability of the PCOS machines to vote shaving and vote padding.

Vitangcol’s report which also saw print in national newspaper The PHILIPPINE STAR (StarWeek Magazine) read: “The most common question asked by the voting public is whether or not the election results can be tampered with. The answer is possibly Yes.”

He cited the following major technical issues which the Commission on Elections and Smartmatic-TIM have yet to resolve:

  • Software and subsequent voting date of the PCOS machine. It was said that these will be placed in a separate memory card, distinct from the unit itself. Such opens up opportunities for damage, tampering, data alteration, and even memory card switching.
  • Crypto keys. The cryptographic keys, both private and public, to the machine, are both under the control of Smartmatic-TIM – contrary to internationally established cryptographic standards. Thus, Smartmatic-TIM and its associated parties can make changes to the precinct election results without detection.
  • Data transfer. Transmission to the Comelec-Smartmatic-TIM hubs will be done through public telecommunications network. Transmitted data to designated points nationwide may be lost, erased, or even altered, once the Philippines’ AES comes under attack from computer hackers and crackers.

“With the few identified vulnerabilities of the AES,” Vitangcol wrote, “the final question that begs to be answered is this — Is the AES susceptible to hacking?”

He underlined that the Comelec, through its spokesman, had already admitted that it can be hacked, in this wise, “I am not saying that the system cannot be hacked. No system is 100-percent hack-proof. I am just saying that we have made sure that the system will not be hacked.”

“Even the Supreme Court, in its decision in Roque et. al. vs. Comelec et. al. had failed to look into the big picture of the AES relative to computer hacking,” this was also learned.

“Said decision focused only on the PCOS machine – and not on the whole AES infrastructure.”

Pertinent portion of the said decision reads: “Additionally, with the AES, the possibility of system hacking is very slim. The PCOS machines are only online when they transmit the results, which would only take around one to two minutes. In order to hack the system during this tiny span of vulnerability, a super computer would be required. Noteworthy also is the fact that the memory card to be used during the elections is encrypted and read-only — meaning no illicit program can be executed or introduced into the memory card.”

Vitangcol pointed out that the Supreme Court was correct in saying that the PCOS machines are only online when they transmit the results, which would only take around one to two minutes. “There is no question about this. Nobody would even want to hack the PCOS machines,” he added.

“But how about the municipal, provincial and national hubs that will receive the transmission of election results? Are they online for only two minutes? No, they are not,” he stressed.

“In fact, these hubs will be online for a prolonged period of time – from the time that the first clustered precinct will transmit its results to the time that the last clustered precinct will transmit its results to the same hub – effectively exposed and vulnerable to hacking all throughout that time.”

He added that with all due respect to our revered justices, the Supreme Court, in the same decision, “possibly made a lapse when it stated that the ‘memory card to be used during the elections is encrypted and read-only.’ The memory card is not ‘read-only.’ In fact, the images of all the ballots cast, together with the final count of all the votes of all the candidates, will be stored in the same memory card during elections day. If the memory card is ‘ready-only,’ then the results cannot be written and stored in the same card. For sure, the memory card is ‘read-write’ capable.”

What is the significance of this? “This means that the contents of the memory card can be erased, altered, or even manipulated,” Vitangcol said.

The report comes with a reminder that hackers are motivated by challenges, especially when an event of transcendental proportion takes place, and when the organization responsible for that event raises a challenge. According to him, “it is the adventure that primes these hackers to develop a system that can paralyze, if not totally break down, another system.”

And for huge hacking incidents, the involvement of a Filipino explicitly tells how impressive our engagement with technology is. Only that we seem to lose sense when proper application of such is already required of us. Remember the ILOVEYOU computer worm aka Love Letter authored by Filipino computer programming students and released to the wild in 2000? Even the series of defacements of government websites profess the genius of Pinoy IT specialists.

Collectively called Philkers (Philippine Hackers), these smart alecks claim that their invasion is not meant to destroy protected files. In fact, they have a commanding, rallying, engaging description to justify their act of deep penetration: Hacktivism. This, to show to our leaders – smack on their faces – how much work is still to be done; how much knowledge to imbibe; and methods and strategies to relearn and unlearn, when faced with the current and emerging challenges of securing information.###

DSWD 7 opens summer job slots

CEBU, PHILIPPINES — To earn life skills in the workplace, while earning money to help meet school needs, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office 7 is encouraging the youths to join the Government Internship Program which will provide a P300 allowance per day for 22 days.

DSWD 7 has 50 slots for this year’s GIP. The internship will start this April 20 and will culminate on May 20, 2015. The selected participants will be assigned in the different units and sub-offices of the regional office.

Qualifications for GIP, should be within the age of 18 to 24 years old, should be college level or high school graduate. For out-of-school youth, they should not have stopped for more than two years.

The GIP is one of the components of the Kabataan 2000 program of the government, which provides opportunity for both out-of-school and in- school youths a hands-on experience of working in various government agencies.

It is implemented during summer time when the youths are on vacation, thus, using their available time in a productive manner. It introduces the youths to public service, serves as a recruitment mechanism for potential public employees, and extends possible financial assistance for their enrollment in the next school year.

Interested applicants should submit the following: photocopy of birth certificate, most recent school registration form or certification from the school indication the recent year/semester of applicants school attendance, photocopy of income tax return of parents/head of the family/guardian or barangay certificate confirming that the family is residing in the barangay, with information on the total monthly family income (from all sources), filled-out application form to be secured in the records section.

Applicants may look for Raul Minoza or Jessie Flores for the application form. For further inquiries please contact Eppie Partosa in this number 232-1192 local 105.

Last day for the submission of the application together with the requirements mentioned above will be on April 2, 2015.

According to DSWD 7 Regional Director Mercedita Jabagat, the GIP is basically recommended to empower and equip the youth for their future careers.

“The program will serve as a venue for the aspiring youths to prepare them in the real battlefield of the labor force,” said Jabagat.

She added that GIP is not merely a program that provides financial aid or working experience in government offices, but a way of appreciating and honing their skills, potentials, talents and contribution in nation building.

“Involving the youth in more meaningful endeavors like GIP paves the way for them to develop and acquire self-confidence and professionalism,” Jabagat disclosed. (Released by Pantawid Pamilya Information Office)

No tax rest in ravaged Bantayan Is.

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

caption: Establishments like Balikbayan Resort get no tax reprieve even when badly beaten by the storm. Agnes Gilbuena, owner, reveals how they have to make ends meet: start all over again from scratch while settling dues.

BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU, PHILIPPINES — No such thing as zero-percent loan interest and tax rest period for Bantayan Island traders and entrepreneurs.

In its first-ever media presentation, the Bantayan Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BICCI) lamented how crisis lashes at them double whammy.

Having close to nothing at all to expect from the government when it comes to efficient post-Yolanda rehabilitation programs, the chamber looks at humanitarian consideration in loan grants tax reprieve and or levies, or for that fact, a rest period.

“However, it didn’t come. We have to survive crisis of sorts since we have to settle our taxes by the book while taking all the means to be able to stand above the storm,” Agnes Gilbuena who heads the hotels, bars and restaurants association here disclosed. She runs Balikbayan Resort in Santa Fe which you might want to check because of its cozy space where diners can talk – really talk over meals and wine.

Vince Escario, vice president (external) of the Bantayan Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a chapter of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce, also lamented on the lack of zero-percent interest rates even in the name of humanitarian consideration.

“Financial institutions have offered a one year grace period but on the second year of the loan, a six percent annual interest rate applies,” he said.

As for BICCI president Arthur Despi, he noted that even loan guarantors are asked to settle four percent in taxes, the risk being passed on to loanholders. “It’s really hard for us to cope with that because while we are trying to spread hope around here, some forms of help are also accompanied with a burden to loanholders. We are in the process of strong writing and lobbying that the Bureau of Internal Revenue relaxes their way with us, makes it a bit easier for us, knowing what we went through.”

Another burden to the island is the cargo and passenger rates. “Compared to Camotes-Danao and the Escalante-Tabuelan or Tuburan routes, the Hagnaya-Santa Fe route is shorter but more expensive. The Marina has to do something with direct shipping lines to reduce the rates especially the goods from the mainland,” Escario added.

The chamber was created last year to raise issues and provide proper forum for dialogue. It eyes collaboration among entrepreneurs in the island’s three towns, mostly fishermen, to understand the dynamics of economics in their trade and distribute efficiently the benefits of rehab efforts in the area.

This is the first-ever media presentation of the BICCI in line with the #iBLOGforBANTAYAN event, a brainchild of Escario’s, which saw the convergence of the Cebu Blogging Community and traditional media, as well as the Philippine Information Agency-7 in shouting out social good as Bantayan Island takes a proverbial resurrection from the ashes.

After the presentation, the #iBLOGforBANTAYAN participants were taken to a GawadKalinga site to take a literal stance to “ecovoluntourism.” The group took over shoveling and painting, and other construction works, as our share in rebuilding and relearning hope.

The area in Barangay Ticad is actually intended for a municipal village. GawadKalinga houses sit on an eight-hectare lot, with 300 units now home to some 59 families.GawadKalinga is connected to social enterprise “Human Nature,” a pro-Philippines, pro-environment, pro-poor beauty and wellness products. GK is best known for its sweat equity scheme in providing mass housing.###

Bikini open ‘strange to Bantayan’

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU, PHILIPPINES — Out of sight.Out of mind.

Bantayan Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Arthur Despi pointed out that because some beach resorts here rent out their spaces to private event organizers, the latter think they already have the freedom to stage any show they want even if such collides with local sensibilities.

“As for BCCI, the staging of a bikini open is out of sight and out of mind. I mean, it is not the Bantayanons’ spirit, therefore it is strange to us,” he said in reply to a concern that such an event may happen again now that the island has already risen after being ravaged by Yolanda.

The influx of tourists is expected already weeks to the observance of Lent. Bantayan Island has always been a favorite destination of domestic and international tourists alike because it has fine sandy beaches, 14 islets suitable for hopping, distinct fishing practices having the sea as a natural resource heritage, and interesting religious practices like feasting on meat on supposed fasting season. This is in relation to a past Papal Bull exempting the island from fasting because of oversupply of food stock in the old days.

The anxiety over staging of bikini opens stems from a past event that obviously scandalized the locals and brought the organizer, including celebrity guests from Manila, apologizing to former Governor Gwen Garcia for hurting local sensibility, emphasizing stomping on women’s dignity here. ###

#Fallen44’s bro still banks on peace but…

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

Images grabbed from tl-ph.facebook.com

CONSOLACION, CEBU, PHILIPPINES (Feb. 7, 2015) — Richard Cempron, brother of PO1 Romeo Cempron, one of the #Fallen44 who perished in a clash against Moro Islamic Liberation Front warriors and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, shared that peace should be pursued in Central Mindanao’s areas of conflict like Maguindanao despite the flak.

At the wake of his youngest brother, in a brood of four – all males, Cempron pointed out hostility can never inculcate peace among residents of Maguindanao, and that continued conflicts will only give rise to more armed groups, more displaced people affecting mostly women and children.

“I don’t want to be carried away by what happened to my brother. As a policeman myself, I need to be objective in looking at his case. Currently, we have to grieve over such a great loss. But after this, as we seek justice, we also have to believe that only peaceful negotiations can give way to end fighting in Maguindanao,” Cempron who is based in Quezon City disclosed.

“Pag all-out war kasi mas marami lang ang masasaktan. Katulad niyang nangyari sa brother ko, napatanong ako: Patay na nga bakit pa nila ginanyan,” he added. Cempron shared how disgusted he is upon learning of his brother’s broken skull. He also divulged that some other SAF troopers suffered from hack wounds, one with a slashed throat.

When asked on speculations that the police are demoralized by the tragedy, Cempron said he is devastated emotionally. “Do’n talaga sa suporta. Nakukulangan ako sa suporta sa amin ng itaas. At may isa pa akong katanungan na gusto kong masagot in the process of an inquiry: Bakit hindi ang CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) ang nag-serve ng warrant?”

Cempron remembers Romeo as a “very good brother.” He said that Romeo used to cajole him when it comes to his collection of (firearm) magazines. “Hihingin niya kasi minsan meron akong dalawang extrang mags. Naghihiraman na kasi kami talaga ng gamit dati pa. Nagugustuhan niya Smith & Wesson na posas (handcuffs) ko. Yun lang naman kasi ang common ground naming magkakapatid kasi nakalinya kami sa pagpupulis,” Cempron mentioned.

When sought for comment on alleged interest on the bounty placed upon Zulkifli Bin Hir’s head, having been identified responsible in a series of bombing incidents in Southeast Asia, Cempron clarified it is irrational to think that a US$5 million (P200 million) could trigger the assault knowing that said amount couldn’t suffice to launch a nationwide political campaign.

“Napakaliit na amount ng P200 million as campaign funds. For purposes of achievement talaga yang mga secret operations sa hanay ng pulisya. Achievement to boost the institution. Andami na kasi nilang na-achieve talaga. Latest yung Zamboanga siege. But the rest hindi lang nagli-leak sa media. Kung hindi sumablay sa Mamasapano malamang it would be credited to the government, at nasa likod lang talaga ang SAF,” Cempron further revealed.

Meanwhile, widow of the late PO1 Windel Candano, the Dumanjug native (southwestern side of Cebu) who is also of the #Fallen44, reiterated she would pursue public service by becoming a police officer herself. Michelle Candano said briefly that she is serious and would seek to experience how hard were the duties rendered by her husband to the country.

Michelle informed that interment will be on February 8 (tomorrow), but that the two elite commandos will be accorded volleys of fire first at the Central Command-7.###

Blogging augments reporting via curation

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

Caption: Marietta Le of Hungary, Tadeo Rodriguez of Mexico, and Malou Mangahas of the Philippines present in a discussion how to make weblogging more meaningful to society.

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES (Jan. 24, 2015) — Bloggers can certainly up the ante, in terms of reportage, by serving as fact checkers and information curators, and in the process develop ourselves as trusted go-to sources of data in upholding accountability and transparency.

The idea came up as a result of a discussion on “How to make freedom of information laws work (for everyone)” moderated by Global Voices blogger Ellery Biddle with Hungarian national Marietta Le, Mexican national Tadeo Rodriguez, and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism executive director Malou Mangahas for panelists. This happened on the first day of a two-day Global Voices Citizen Media Summit here.

While every government can readily post online data on contracts and other related government spending, such does not guarantee honesty, accuracy, and integrity most especially.

Mangahas called on digital media users, activists, immigrants, developers, creatives, and the like, to effect integrity of information via fact checking and proper curation. Data like figures, statistics, and assets, for example, according to Mangahas should translate to something sensible; information that can be understood and analyzed.

“We have to build that demand for right to information. But not just information that can readily be provided by government workers. We have to be able to decipher truth in every piece of information they provide online. We have the right to know right now, but we also have to make sure that what we know is accurate, therefore can be trusted,” Mangahas ascertained.

She said that the Philippines still has to see good record keeping by our government agencies. “We are to shore up numeracy among our people. But some really are just products of some talking heads. We have to understand the dynamics of government, how our budgets are being distributed, how taxpayers money is being fiddled. When we report, we put people’s lives at stake. Who will be there to stand up to truth?”

Global blogging communities are therefore encouraged to stand up to the cause of transparency and accountability. By standing up, it entails the eagerness to collaborate and cross-promote.

Marietta Le mentioned, in her presentation, how social media expression helped encourage government response to the question “on the necessity of spending for three fighter jets during a football stadium inauguration.”

Le pointed out that 4,000 requests were made via electronic mail to the national government of Hungary questioning how their obviously football fanatic President could have requested budget for three fighter jets.

The answer came upon the pressure caused by strong online expression and public opinion against the move purportedly wasting government funds. The Ministry of Defense had admitted to accommodating a “verbal request” for fighter jets as part of a regular drill.

“Such doesn’t make sense actually. It is only in Hungary that you can order orally fighter jets. The government has a ready answer as expected. However, social media activism raised a good point there. Its presence felt, and so gives the government the jolt,” Le expressed.

Meanwhile, Tadeo Rodriguez shared sentiments in Philippine political scenarios as the culture reflects that of home, Mexico. Like in the Philippines, patronage politics is also strong in Mexico and so it is challenging to track campaign spending, wealth of public officials, land records, conditional cash transfers. “On top of the challenge is to ensure that one’s rights online will also be protected offline,” he shared, reiterating that money politics also thrives online.

Further, Robin Moroney of Google Philippines, in his presentation, guided citizen media practitioners that we can augment reporting by serving as “trusted go-to sources” ourselves.

“At first glance, bloggers might not really have real advantage over legacy media practitioners. But if you can help correct and establish veracity of facts, you can make data journalism get commodified,” he pointed out.

“Curate and own the beat. Become reliable sources yourselves of information that can be trusted,” Moroney further encouraged.

Such call has given the local blogger-participants an idea to begin a curation on a 2016 polls for comparative purposes. Rechecking of data to that of Comelec tabulation can be optimized using Google tools.###

Horizons 101 tops off

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, newmedia specialist

Photo from nsi-architects.com

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES (January 13, 2015) — Hard hats on for the top off!

Cebu’s latest tallest building, Horizons 101, places its final beam of of Tower One to mark completion. Built at a staggering cost of P1.9 billion, Tower One is said to be 98-percent sold out already and up for turnover in September of this year, according to Taft Properties project development head Lydwena Eco.

“This day is an important milestone for Horizons 101 and Taft, as we mark the realization of Taft’s commitment to deliver the tallest tower in the city. Wit its superior design, world-class facilities and services, and comfort by design innovations, Horizons 101 will no doubt change Cebu’s skyline,” Eco said in a press briefing.

Tower One has about 800 units, or a total of 1,573 for the two towers. Residential space starts at the ninth floor, since ground floor is dedicated to a retail component geared at supporting the needs of its immediate community like grocery store, laundromat, etc.

Total investment for two towers costs P3.5 billion, this is disclosed today during the topping-off ceremony here at the Horizons Office along Mango Avenue a.k.a. General Maxilom Avenue (across Saint Theresa’s College).

How tall the condo development is? Tower 1 is 55 storeys high, while Tower 2 is 46 floors high. Seventy-five percent of units for Tower 2 are said to be sold out and are to be turned over in the third quarter of 2017. Horizons 101 began construction in 2011.

Beyond its physical structure, Horizons 101 aspires to be a top lifestyle haven, with commercial and retail spaces at the ground floor and sought-after amenities such as lap pool, fitness gym, kids’ playroom, game room, and mini theater on selected levels. To take advantage of the superior height, the project will have a sky garden which offer the best vantage point of the Cebu skyline while lounging and relaxing.

Other design and features include high-speed elevators, 100-percent power backup, sky gardens, porte cochere (coach gate or coach door in portico-like structures), elevator key card access, and CCTC in strategic areas.

Horizons 101 is the first condominium project in Cebu of Taft Properties, the real estate arm of Vicsal Development Corporation, the owner of Metro retail stores, which has built a formidable reputation for more than 30 years in Luzon and Visayas.

To know more, visit www.horizons101.com.ph or call 63.32.266-8101.###

than 30 years in Luzon and Visayas.

To know more, visit www.horizons101.com.ph or call 63.32.266-8101.###