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Wake-uppers:

Scene: A chorus of tribute has echoed around the world to remember the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin who died last Thursday, Aug. 16. She was 76.

Scene:  Tributes to former Sevilla Mayor Ceferino Digal began pouring in within minutes following the news of his death last Aug. 9.   The necrological service is today, August 19, 11 a.m. at the Sevilla Municipal Building Lobby. His youngest daughter Marie Karen Joy Digal said that it was such a healing gift to be surrounded by  people who love and respect his father. “Daddy, you were always there when I needed you, and I know you are still with us now. Remember that I will always be ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’,” she said.

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Scene: Panglao Mayor Pedro Fuertes has been locked in a war of words with former Mayor Leonila Paredes-Montero last week. It started when Montero surprisingly visited Fuertes in his office, while her supporters were outside the mayor’s office. Montero who addressed Fuertes as “Vice Mayor” told him that she will back soonest.

Scene:  Police Senior Superintendent Angeles Geñorga, Jr., director of the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO), said the synchronized operations last Thursday in 47 towns and 1 city targeted shabu dealers and illegal firearms owners across the province. At least 39 were arrested and two were killed in police operations. Geñorga also said that the drug supply in the province has significantly dropped.

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Divina Sarabia, a resident of Barangay Cogon, woke-up early last Thursday to visit the Agricultural Promotions Center (APC) in Barangay Dao. However, she had to endure the long line since the venue was extremely crowded before sunrise.

Sarabia and other consumers bought fish and vegetables at low price after the Department of Agriculture launched the Bohol Fish Market and Tienda to address the price manipulation in the market which resulted in very high cost of fish, vegetables and fruits in the province.

Broadcaster Felix Cempron said that he was satisfied because he was able to buy a swordfish forP100 per kilo instead of the normal price at P220 per kilo in the market.

“Mas barato ang mga isda diri, dako kaayog deperensa. Hinaut nga mosustiner gyud ni bah. Mga negosyante  nga murag ilang gipalabian pagmahal ilang tindag isda para ila pud i-us-us. Kay ang mga tawo diri sa Bohol porbida perting lisura tungod niining pagmahal sa  presyo sa isda ug ubang panaliton,” said Cempron.

Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol said that 7.2 metric tons (7,200 kilos) of assorted fish from Mindanao seas was loaded in Bohol for a cheaper price, which literally flooded the province.

“Natingala ko nga nalibutan mo og dagat pero perting mahal sa isda.  Mao nga mingon ko mubalik ko, bahaon nako og isda sa Bohol. Pero nabali noon ako’y gibaha og tawo karung adlawa. Nahurot na among isda,” he said.

Not only fish was sold but also some vegetables.  Potatoes were sold at P60 per kilo, carrots at P60 per kilo, lettuce at P80 per kilo, cauliflower at P110 per kilo and broccoli at P110 per kilo

Before Thursday noon, almost all the fish and veggies were sold out.

Piñol said another 20 metric tons of assorted fish will arrive this week.

He said the fish trading in Bohol is controlled by a few big business groups in a validation conducted by his office.

Bohol remains an expensive destination for local and foreign tourists. In Panglao Island where it calls with its stunning aqua-blue waters and white-sand beaches, the place is pricey.

In 2017, the provincial lawmakers initiated an investigation on the factors in the high prices of fish in Bohol which remains unresolved for over a decade.

It was Benjie Oliva, the Boholano administrator of Cooperative Development Authority, who revealed that a fish cartel exists, which has been dictating prices of goods in the province based on a study of the Department of Agriculture.

“I believed of a monopoly dominated by few players in the province,” said Oliva. “Government should address business monopoly in Bohol by providing an enabling policy environment for opening competition from other business players in the country to bring down the cost of products and services,” he added.

Piñol said he wanted Bohol as a fish farm tourism destination.  

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Drug-free award is not forever-DDB chief

The chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Catalino Cuy reminded awardees that the drug-free award for barangays is not forever as it can be revoked anytime.

“Hindi iyan forever,” said Cuy who was the guest of honor during the declaration and awarding ceremony of the 321 drug-cleared barangays in Bohol province last Monday afternoon attended by village chiefs, town mayors, police officers, and other local officials.

A barangay is declared drug affected if there is a presence of either drug users, drug pushers, drug dens  and shabu laboratories.

Cuy said that there should be continuous vigilance of the village chiefs and law enforcement agencies.

“It’s a whole nation approach. Hindi lang si gobyierno ang may responsibility, responsibility ng lahat lalong-lalo na nakatira dun yung community mismo. It is their responsibility to make their barangay drug free,” he said.

The village chiefs received their certificates of declaration from Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the implementing agency of DDB.

Cuy said there was a thorough and careful validation of the oversight committee and satisfying  all the parameters set by the DDB that the 321 barangays out 1,109 villages in Bohol province were declared drug-cleared.

Last month, Bohol has been ranked fifth in the Philippines and first in Central Visayas in terms of barangay drug affectation percentage, according to PDEA provincial office.

But the ranking, according to PDEA agent Nicolas Gomez was based on affected barangay even if there was only one user.  These users surrendered to the authorities even if they used illegal drugs once to clear their names.

“Boholanos are honest and they are volunteering information,” he said during the provincial peace and order council meeting.  

He said the ranking doesn’t mean Bohol has many drugs and pushers compared to other places.

The 321 drug-cleared villages in the province came from 23 towns and one city.

The towns which  almost hit 100 percent drug-free were  Jagna (32 out of 33 barangays), Lila (17 out of 18 barangays), Maribojoc (20 out of 22 barangays, Pilar (20 out of 22 barangays), San Isidro (11 out 12 barangays and Trinidad (19 out of 20 barangays).

Tagbilaran City had only 1 out of 15 barangays declared drug-cleared. Sikatuna town had 1 cleared barangay out of 10 barangays, and Tubigon had 1 barangay cleared out of 34 barangays.

Lila Mayor Regina Cahiles-Salazar said that barangay officials engaged in antidrug activities and actively involving the youth to help maintain the drug-liberated status.

“We persistently motivate these barangays to continuously conduct anti drug abuse initiatives to make our town safe and progressive,” said Salazar.

She said the communities have existing drug awareness, preventive  education and information and other programs. Livelihood programs were given to surrenderees to sustain their families.

Chatto said that the provincial is serious in cleaning the province and many volunteered to surrender ecause they understood the programs of the provincial government.

“This is just the beginning of our victory. We will not stop here,” he said.

“I hope more batches will come until 1,109 barangays will be cleared and make Bohol a truly drug-free province,” he added.

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Cure for drug problems remains elusive

The victory in the war on drugs of President Rodrigo Duterte remains elusive, according Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano of Magdalo  who was in Bohol last Saturday, Aug. 18.

Alejao said the war on drugs was likened a superficial band-aids meant only to stop the latest bleeding and haven’t proved a cure.

“Dapat i –accept na nating lahat, you can’t totally eliminate illegal drugs in the country. You cannot. Other countries have tried but they failed to address the illegal drugs,” he told Bohol reporters.

Alejano cited some studies that other countries such as the United States of America has grappled meaningfully with the menace.

He said Philippines should learned lessons from USA, Colombia and Thailand who found out that the biggest contributing factors of the illegal drugs were economy and poverty.  

Alejano, who was jailed for seven years because of the munity in 2003, said that Duterte wanted a shortcut that killed even those who were innocent.  

“The approach of the President is shortcut. So, kapag sinabing shortcut the president doesn’t believe in the justice system, abogado man siya, he doesn’t believe in the justice system. Walang maliwanag  na policy,” he said.

He said additional districts in Bohol would help in lobbying more programs and development to the province.

He said federalism would destroy the country.

“I know what it takes to defend the country especially now that we’re bullied by China,” said Alejano who accepted the nomination of the Magdalo party for him to run for senator for the May 2019 midterm elections.

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