Thursday, 19 July 2012

Roadside ‘convenience’ store ... This ‘mini-tindahan’ along the Parang-Larap road offers some of the basic household necessities – “uling”, cassava, green jackfruit and some more. Makeshift stores are very common in Jose Panganiban especially those in households located along the roads as they help augment the family income. 

Drying fish … Fish that has not been bought is normally sun-dried as it commands a better price than fresh ones. Picture was taken along the beach in Baranggay Parang, Jose Panganiban, CamNorte, where many subsistence fishermen families live. – MWBuzzpics by AP HERNANDEZ


LATE-BREAKERS- Knock, knock, who's there? by PERCY A OSTONAL

Knock, knock … who's there? CamNorte Gov Edgardo A Tallado's medical and dental mission thru his provincial mobile service project came back to its birthplace in Jose Panganiban on july 10, 2012. It was in 2011 when it was introduced in our place and since then, this social welfare project has been making rounds of every town. Hailed by no less than Secretary “Dinky" Soliman of DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) as "quite different” by  bringing caravan service direct to people, instead of people going to the provincial capitol for their survival needs, “libreng gamot, pang- kabuhayan, pang-agricultura, libreng dental services, gupit at "hot oil" (free medicines, livelihood and agricultural supports, free dental services, haircut and hot-oil) were all provided to the hillside residents of Baranggay Calogcog. Our local correspondent did not specify if Gov Tallado himself and his entourage was there but a it was more than enough for someone to show-up and be in front of everyone as if saying " tao po, tao po … eh sino po sila? (house-owner asking) "eh, ako po si William Lim, dating mayor ng Jose Panganiban!!!.”
"Let me try again". Recent rumor reaching MWBuzz said that ex-mayor William A Lim and former vice-mayor Casiano Dilao, together with current Sangguniang-Bayan Guzman Ultra, current Baranggay Chairman of Santa Milagrosa, Mr Ajete and Baranggay Chairman of Salvacion Enrico Solis are all one testing the next "electoral waters" of Jose Panganiban. Sangguniang-Bayan Member Ybarola who is a partymate of the group is said to be not too sure of re-joining then and hinted looking forward for a shot at the provincial board level. Apparently, the administration SB members were on "wait-and-see" basis knowingly that he (Ybarola) could be the missing piece to complete their roster, but the essence of time and his intention should be known by now otherwise, the remaining spots will be up for grabs among the many aspirants under Mayor Dong Padilla's ticket.
Sightings of four cargo ships at Larap bay.
Latest news report from our JP correspondent said that sighting of four cargo ships  at Larap Bay seems to be so alarming after the fiasco that happened in Paracale, Camarines Norte some few weeks ago. Concerned citizens of Baranggay Larap and its neighboring island residents alerted the LGU for fear that "our minerals wealth" are being taken away overseas without  proper government  mining clearance and  withdrawal authorization. Our Municipal authority is currently conducting its own investigation. (Obviously, the ones who fielded those vessels are after the heaps of iron ore that was abandoned by the defunct Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) when it closed shop in the middle 70s. The volume of this stockpile could be in hundreds of metric tons, worth millions of dollars. Mayor Dong has been eyeing this stockpile for disposal, in coordination with relevant government agencies, thinking that this resource belongs to the municipality of Jose Panganiban, and that a substantial royalty revenue could be made for the municipality. However, this was frustrated by President Noynoy’s Executive Order No 79, declaring that “abandoned mineral stockpiles, mine wastes and tailings and other wastes from which new types of minerals could be extracted using latest techs belong to the state”. Now, the BIG QUESTION: WHO SENT THOSE PIRATE SHIPS DESPITE EO79? Well, somebody was waving from the provincial capitol, or is it from the same Chinese group who tried to spirit away that magnetic sand stockpile in Pulandaga, Paracale. – MWBuzz ed)

IN THIS EDITION - 18th edition

Volume 1, No 18
Friday, July 20, 2012

PAGE 1 Photos:  Roadside ‘convenience store’/drying fish

LATE-BREAKERS – Knock-knock, who’s there?, by Percy A Ostonal


PHOTO CAPTION: The face of poverty

LITERARY CORNER: A short story

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EDITORIAL: EO 79 a big letdown for LGUs

Small-scale gold operation goes on at the shallow waters of Mambulao Bay. The miners are panning the gold tailings that have been dumped into the bay from nearby gold mining operations, making the water murky and brownish. The municipal government is helpless as it has no authority to stop mining operations like this one, as it falls under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and its bureaus such as the Mines Geosciences Bureau and the Environment Management Bureau. It is hoped that under EO79, LGUs could actively participate in checking bad mining practices in their jurisdiction that destroy the environment. – MWBuzzpic by AP HERNANDEZ

THE RECENTLY-signed Executive Order 79 “fine-tuning” the country's mining laws turned out to be big letdown for local government units (LGUs) whose municipalities are hosts to mineral resources such as gold, silver and chromite.

Their role in mining activities taking place right in their jurisdiction has not improved; they will remain as plain "fence-sitters" and watchers while the mineral wealth is being developed, extracted and milked for billion of pesos in annual revenues.

In short, the EO has undercut LGUs autonomy in dealing directly with mineral extractions that could jeopardize the health of their environment.

This is because all action will push under a close watch of the Department of Natural Resources and its implementing agencies – the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), with regulatory powers thrown to the so-called Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board (P/CMRB), an entity off-limits to LGUs.

LGUs being outsider to P/CMRB is quite ironic in the sense that all mining activities are carried out within the municipality, and not in cities. And yet the municipal government has no seat in this board.

The EO, under Section 12, was very clear in constricting LGUs. It said: “LGUs shall confine themselves only to the imposition of reasonable limitations on mining activities conducted within their respective territorial jurisdictions that are consistent with national laws and regulations".

There was no need for the national government to spell this out in EO 79 because LGUs were well aware of this when they enacted ordinances banning mining.

After all, by passing such ordinances, the LGUs were only exercising their police power and upholding welfare and their constituents' right to a balanced and healthful ecology" and the well-being of their local territories and ecosystem.

The new mining order is a virtual warning to local governments such as that of Jose Panganiban's and its officials led by Mayor Ricarte Padilla, not to pass ordinances banning mining.

The EO has declared that LGUs must conform to the national government's policy on mining, which is to pursue "its promotion of mineral extraction and increase its share in the mining revenues".

However, there is a moratorium in the issuance of permits for small-scale mining operations that involved gold panning and use of small equipment, among others.

The temporary halt was initiated following a series of recent accidents in a number of illegally-operated gold operations in Mindanao and in certain gold districts in Bicol, including Paracale and Mambulao.

But in the province of CamNorte, this moratorium has been ignored by no less than the authorities at the capitolyo, who have the authority to issue permits for small operations.

This prompted the Department of Interiors and Local Government (DILG) to suspend the province's top police officers and to initiate an investigation against Gov Edgardo A Tallado on their alleged involvement in the illegal issuance of small-scale mining permits and for tolerating illegal mining operations.

Even before the signing of EO79, Ricarte's government has already been rendered helpless in checking or stopping the operations of a number of illegal mining operations in the municipality.

There have been new operators with recently-issued permits - all known to JP-LGU - but could not do anything about them, even if their means of extracting gold, like the use of mercury, were causing environmental destruction.

This is because monitoring illegal operations falls under the office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) a unit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). But in most instances, it just kept a blind eye on this.

With the EO79, Jose Panganiban-LGU has also lost a big stake in the abandoned iron ore stockpile in Baranggay Larap, host to the defunct Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) which shut down in mid-70s.

Being the local chief executive, Padilla has been all along eyeing the possibility of earning royalty for the LGU from the sale of the stockpile of several hundred metric tons and worth millions of pesos, since it is sitting right within the municipality.

But the EO79 has snapped this off, declaring that the national government owned all "abandoned ores and valuable metals in mine wastes and mill tailings" and would sell them for the much-needed revenue.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje told a media briefing a day after the EO79 signing that "before, mine wastes (were) considered wastes ... but now, we found out that based on recent technologies, we can extract other metals or other forms of minerals from the mine waste so it is now a resource input for new processing.

Paje said that the national government has put in the EO "that all mine wastes, all mill tailings should be considered owned by the state and, therefore, should be disposed of through competitive bidding".

This brings us to another source of potential revenue for JP-LGU but is now spoiled altogether by the EO: the iron ore and gold tailings sitting at the bottom of Mambulao Bay.

These mining wastes had accumulated since the iron mine in Larap began operations before the war, dumping its wastes into the bay waters until operations shut down in 1974.

Similarly, the operations at the San Mauricio gold district atop a mountain that overlooks the Mambulao town had also dumped its gold waste tailings into Mambulao Bay since it began mining prior to the war years.

Until the signing of the EO, a gold miner was in talks with the JP-LGU regarding the multi-million-peso dredging of Mambulao Bay to retrieve iron and gold tailings at its bottom and reprocess the dirt for new types of minerals as well as gold. 

This could have been another source of jobs for Mambulaoans because processing will take place right within the municipality.

Now, all this went down the drain because JP-LGU would no longer be a party to whatever deal involving future operations for such bay mineral waste recovery and the prospective investor could lose interest in the venture.

The only consolation that JP-LGUs and the rest of mineral-hosts municipalities across the country is that EO79 has streamlined the conduct small-scale mining, by putting all activities within a declared "Minahang Bayan".

The aim is to contain all activities in one place as an effective means of containing the waste using a common tailings pond and treat it efficiently.

Before, the EO, Presidential Decree No. 1899 had allowed the provincial government to issue mining permits anywhere, which made it difficult to contain and treat effluents.

Hopefully, in the coming months, Mambulao would no longer see indiscriminate gold operations that have been the very cause of environmental degradation around the municipality, as exemplified by the polluted waters along the shoreline of Mambulao Bay caused by ongoing gold operations.

The LGUs could also take some consolation from the EO’s commitment to provide a timely release and even an increase in the share of national wealth from mining to the LGUs in which mining operations take place for the benefit of the people in these areas.

Most important also is that the EO has banned the use of health-hazard mercury in gold extraction, an advocacy that Padilla had pushed through national forum since becoming the mayor.

Noteworthy, however, some lawmakers have already initiated the push towards enacting a new mining law that would junk the EO79 and the Mining Act of 1995 – to give the smaller stakeholders – the mineral-host municipalities and its people – a better deal in terms of their role in the development of the mineral wealth that sits right in their backyard.

Concerned LGUs have no option but to support this new initiative -- it could be the key to their problem.

- A P Hernandez

Probe on two Western Union agents in JPanganiban

LSG Pawnshop, an agent of Western Union, which was investigated for allegedly collecting unauthorized fees from clients. – Photo supplied


TWO Western Union agents in Jose Panganiban, CamNorte are being investigated by the remittance company for their alleged charging of unauthorized fees on unsuspecting clients.

The two agents – LSG Pawnshop and LSP Pawnshop, both operating in the poblacion – have been accused of charging extra fee on the proceeds of a remittance received by the relatives of the money senders.

MWBuzz learned of the problem and alerted Western Union - South and East Asia Operations on the issue.

After receiving the evidence – copies of the ‘Send’ receipt and ‘Receive” receipt -- Western Union conducted an investigation and is now determining what action to take against the two pawnshops.

A source from Western Union Philippine operations said they have “informed LSP and LSG about the complaint”.

“We have already determined the modus employed by the pawnshop location and are just investigating a step further to cover all bases before I revert to you with the action plans,” he told MWBuzz.

“We will surely call the attention of the owner of the pawnshop. Will not need to separate the approach for the two pawnshops.”

LSG Pawnshop and LSP Pawnshop are reportedly operated by businessperson Susan Galleta of Paracale, CamNorte.

MWBuzz has gathered that a remittance beneficiary who is a resident of Jose Panganiban received money from her husband in Australia on Dec 25, 2011, which was less than the amount sent. 

The money sent was Cad$500 with an equivalent amount of PHP21,186.27, as shown by a copy of the “Send” receipt sent from Canada. The peso proceeds was converted from the Canadian dollar rate used by Western Union on December 24,2011.

The beneficiary claimed the money on December 25, but the amount was only PHP20,294, which was PHP892.27 less.

A copy of the receipts showing the actual amount originally sent in Canadian dollar and the amount actually received was furnished MWbuzz.

The recipient alerted the pawnshop staff about the amount, but was allegedly told it could not be changed anymore as “she has written the receipt already”, for their file.

Meanwhile, a drive to boycott the two pawnshops has snowballed on Facebook  account of a group of Mambulao natives who are based overseas.

The issue was first brought to the municipal government early this year, but so far, no action has been taken by the concerned office.

LSP and LSG are two of the five Western Union agents in Mambulao.

Solon favors probe of CamNorte governor over controversial issuance of mining permits

Palanas, a gold district in Paracale notorious for its illegal gold mining operations where 48 miners reportedly died recently as a result of accidents. – MWBuzzpic by AP HERNANDEZ

DAET, CamNorte: Congressman Renato “Jojo” Unico, who has jurisdiction over the mining towns in CamNorte, finally broke his silence on the hot issue of illegal mining in the province.

During his weekend visit here, Unico said that he strongly supports the on-going investigation initiated by the joint agencies led by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the alleged involvement of  CamNorte  Gov Edgardo  A  Tallado in the irregular issuance of “small scale mining permit” to big foreign mining operators in the traditional mining town of Paracale.

Unico blamed Tallado for the plight of small scale miners numbering several thousands who can now only mine areas that were declared geographically hazardous by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-DENR) like the coastal village of Palanas, Paracale, where scores of miners have already died in mine pits

In June 30 another two miners drowned inside mining pits in sitio Maligaya, barangay Palanas .

Unico accused Tallado of issuing “small scale mining permits”, to large scale operations of foreign mining firms both in Paracale and Jose Panganiban towns, while neglecting to identify safe mining areas for small miners as should have been done under the “Minahang-bayan” program  of the national government.

The congressman stressed that the current cease and desist order of the MGB-DENR to stop small-scale mining in Palanas, Paracale is a consequence of such neglect. Over 3,000 small miners have lost income as a result of the stoppage order.

Unico also said the mismanagement of small-scale mining sites by the provincial government has now resulted in about 48 deaths in Paracale alone, alleging further that “most of the deaths were being covered-up by mining operators”.

He added that he also likes the joint probe conducted by the DILG, MGB-DENR and the Customs Bureau to uncover the environmental abuse committed by foreign financed mining firms whose questionable activities have resulted in the destruction of over 50ha of coral reefs in Pulandaga barangay Bagumbayan in Paracale.

Unico further criticized the provincial government for allowing those firms that were issued, “small scale mining permits” to use dynamite and plastic explosives by in spite of the ongoing  joint investigation.

In Paracale town, despite a desist order issued by the MGB-DENR last June 15, on joint Chinese and Fil-Chinese firms “Uni-Dragon” and “Baotong Mining Corp”, a Chinese vessel from Hong Kong, the “Peace Angel,” continued to be anchored near Pulandaga ready to haul some 55,000 metric-tons of magnetic sand, estimated to worth P300 million pesos.

This was revealed by Paracale Tourism officer Jamela Evangelista Enova, who is monitoring the mining abuse in Paracale.

Since the arrival of the vessel last June 3, concerned groups led by “Save Pulandaga Movement” (SPDM) have staged People power demonstrations to prevent the mining firms from hauling the stock-pile of magnetic-sand.

Enova said that MGB has provided documents showing that Uni-Dragon and Baotong mining were only issued exploration permit to gather samples of magnetic sand since 2008.

Despite the limitation provided by MGB under the exploration permit, the Chinese mining firms have engaged in large scale mining operations, extracting big volumes of magnetic-sand (IRON-ORE) by virtue of the “small scale permit” issued by the Governor, Enova claims.

Using heavy mining equipment, Uni Dragon and Baotong have dumped large volume of wastes on coral reefs in Pulandaga shores, causing outrage among local residents, Enova said.

According to Enova, Pulandaga is the only coastal locality that may be considered a tourist resort area in Paracale town where most coastal areas are rocky with murky waters. 
– Vox Bicol

Guns, explosives seized from mine operator in a joint raid


A BIG mine operator in Jose Panganiban, CamNorte posted a bail of P288,000 to avoid arrest on charges for violation of RA-8294, or the “Illegal Possession of firearms, Ammunitions and Explosives” law.

The Provincial Police Office (PPO) of CamNorte has reported that two residences of mining-operator Ronnie Basar Habitan in Jacinto and Alakan Streets at barangay Plaridel in this town yielded caches of ammunitions, guns and explosives in a raid conducted by joint Intelligence operatives of the PNP national headquarters, regional intelligence unit-5, and the PPO public safety company and the local police.

CamNorte police director, Senior Supt Jose Lipa Capinpin said that the seizure of ordnance was conducted on the strength of two search warrants issued by Judge Mariano Dela Cruz Jr of RTC, branch 22, Manila.

Seized from Habitan’s two houses were: four boxes of ammunition for Cal. 45; three boxes ammunition for Cal. 9mm; nine boxes ammo for Cal 40; one box slug for Cal 40; one box slug for Cal 45; two silencers for long firearms; one bolt assembly for M-16 rifle; one Cal. 38 pistol, (ARMSCOR 22) with five bullets.

Other seized firearms consisted of one Cal 9mm pistol (model BRYCO-59); one magazine for Cal 9mm loaded with eight bullets; eight dynamite sticks (Nitro); and 10 meters safety time-fuse.

The court set the bail at P36,000 for each item seized from Habitan.

Meanwhile, Police director Capinpin has directed Jose Panganiban Police Chief Samson Belmonte to step-up efforts to arrest the suspects on the killing of Helen Trading employee, Nona Defeo Talento, 41, who was killed and robbed of P700,000 in cash by armed men at the town’s public market noon time of July 4.

The incident drew public concern on the increasing occurrence of bold armed robberies in full public view and broad daylight. – Vox Bicol

Muslim trader-families migrate to JP

A Muslim woman vendor sells cell phone accessories in Baclaran.


A DISTINCT group of migrants has found Mambulao “a place to live in”.

They are the Muslim trading families from Zamboanga province who found the community friendly and thriving, thus benefiting their small trading activities.

Most of them have settled at Plaridel, which is just a stone’s throw away from the public market.

MWBuzz has found that there are about 10 families with a total of 50 members now in town, with the elders in the families engaged in small buying-and-selling.

Notably, they are selling an array of goods from original to non-original DVDs, CDs, to flashlights, cigaret lighters, wrist watches, cell phones, small appliances, rings, earrings, umbrellas, sun glasses, silk scarps, blouses, "Batik" shirts, perfumes, children toys, socks and stockings, herbal medicines, belts, children clothing, fishing gears and accessories and many more.

The traders’ supplies are sourced from their contacts in Zamboanga.

They have set up their stores at the town’s public market and is drawing good patronage.

In an interview, one family member told MWBuzz: "Kahit mabuti kang tao at ikaw ay Muslim at naninirahan sa Mindanao, ang isip ng marami ay Abu Sayyaf o terorista ka" (even you're peace- loving person and  happened to be of Muslim faith and live in Mindanao, people's perception is either you are an Abu Sayyaf or a terrorist).

He said they found peace in the community.

"We found peace and nobody so far bothers us here, and everyone in my family is so happy venturing our future in a town almost like the same we have in Zamboanga … we don't really miss anything much being that close to the sea … like JP bay,” another newly arrived family member agreed.

A source from the local government unit (LGU) told MWBuzz that the office of the mayor
“has great appreciation” for these growing migrants for their annual business tax payments of approximately P2,000 per and their contribution to the business climate of Mambulao.

One observer said that the presence of the Muslim families would help circulate money in the local economy.

“They will buy what they need locally, thus infusing additional currency into the local economy,” he said.

It was also gathered that a temporary mosque at Baranggay Plaridel is now in place.

Mayor Ricarte Padilla, being brother to movie star Robin Padilla (converted to Muslim faith), has that special relation to the "Imam" (highest religious authority) of the group.

Sources said that the families have been encouraged to come to Mambulao because of movie star Padilla, whom they made as their “padrino” (sponsor) in settling in the community.

A Muslim vendor sells electronic goods in a Metro Manila sidewalk.

EO79 spoils planned mine waste recovery project at Mambulao Bay

A portion of Mambulao Bay where mining wastes from the defunct mine operated by the Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) and mine tailings from the operations at San Mauricio gold mines were dumped during the years of their operations until the 60s and 70s. Notice the tower of the pelletizing plant on Calambayungan Island. – MWBuzzpic by AP HERNANDEZ


A POTENTIAL multi-million peso mine waste recovery project at Mambulao Bay in Jose Panganiban, CamNorte, just went down the drain with the signing of Executive Order No 79 seeking to streamline the country’s mining industry.

The project, which was being worked out by a private investor and the municipal government of Mayor Ricarte Padilla, aimed to retrieve massive volumes of gold and iron ore tailings for further processing to recover gold and other minerals.

The recovery project could last from two to four years, MWBuzz learned.

The said mine wastes were deposited at the bottom of the bay from the time that gold and iron mining operations in Larap and in San Mauricio began during the pre-war years up to the 50s and 70s. 

The Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) had operated massive iron deposits at Baranggay Larap up to mid-70s, while the gold mine at San Mauricio, Bagong-bayan, carried out its operations up to mid-1950s. 

Both miners had dumped their mine wastes into Mambulao Bay as tailings ponds to contain mine waste were not required of them.

The prospective investor had wanted to dredge the bay for the said mine wastes and process them at a facility that would be installed within the municipality of Jose Panganiban.

The said investor along with a top executive of his company engaged in mineral resource development met with this writer last April in Makati City where they laid down the dredging-recovery plan. 

The said plan was earlier discussed with Padilla, who was amenable to the recovery scheme involved.

However, the investor wanted everything under wraps as he was still waiting for a new government policy on mining to be finalized.

He was referring to the still unnumbered EO which, during those days was still being formulated by the national government.

Signed early this month, Executive Order numbered 79 has declared that “all abandoned iron ores, mine tailings and wastes belonged to the state”.

This means that the JP-LGU cannot lay claim to the mine tailings sitting at the bottom of Mambulao Bay.

The investor and Padilla had earlier hoped that the mine tailings in question would eventually become a property of the local government, from which revenues could be generated.

With the municipal government owning the mine wastes, the LGU and the private investor could come up with a definite plan for the recovery process.

They said that it would mean big revenue for the municipality alongside more jobs that would be created by the dredging project and afterwards the actual processing of the mine wastes.

The private investor had also proposed to build a breakwater across the bay to prevent destructive waves from reaching the shorelines during stormy weathers, as part of his commitment to help provide infrastructure facilities to the municipality.

Both Padilla and the investor could not be reached for comments.

Mambulao gold district to go mercury-free soon

A miner uses crude tools to extract gold ore ... Small-scale gold operations use mercury extensively to maximize the recovery of gold. Executive Order No 79 has mandated that mercury use in gold operations all over the country is now illegal.  –Photo by getolympusa


THE gold mining district of Mambulao will go mercury-free very soon.

The recently-signed Executive Order No 79  has banned the use of mercury in all forms of gold recovery processes.

Signed  early this month, the new EO seeks to streamline the mining industry and to increase government share from mining revenues.

The ban will be enforced by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Environmental Management Burea (EMB) in coordination with local government units (LGUs).

The use of mercury to retrieve gold has become widespread with more and more people going into small-scale gold mining operations.

Despite the hazard it poses on the health of the gold miners, the chemical has remained a major component in gold recovery.

Jose Panganiban Mayor Ricarte Padilla, who has become an advocate of mercury-free gold operations, was said to be elated over the banning of mercury use.

He has advocated strongly against the use of mercury in all gold mining sites across the country because of the damage it caused on the environment and health of those using it.

At present Ricarte is working closely with Ban Toxic!, a non-governmental organization that has been waging campaigns against toxic materials that could destroy the environment.

Recently, the NGO has convinced a group gold panners in Mambulao to shift to the use of borax, another chemical but safer to use, in gold recovery processes.

So far, gold miners who began using borax have found that the chemical is more effective in recovering gold and safer to use than mercury.

With EO79 mandating  a no-mercury gold mining  operation,  JP-LGU is expected to launch a campaign to inform small gold operators about the new law.

“The new executive order has given LGUs a solid basis to go after the violators,” a source from the JP-LGU told MWBuzz.

Growing concern over ‘internet café’ in Mambulao

Inside an I-Café …. Children spend too much time playing video games …


THERE is a growing concern among parents over the proliferation of the so-called ‘internet café’ in Mambulao – both in town and some out-of-town baranggays.

‘Internet café’, or computer shops have grown in number since three years ago with the coming of internet service providers (ISPs) and internet broadband links provided by the three cell phone companies namely Smart, Globe and Sun.

Parents have complained that many schoolchildren and high school students are cutting classes to spend time at computer shops for online games and to browse game websites and Facebook accounts.

They said their school pocket money is being spent on online time instead of using it for snack foods at school.

But a number of said young clients are also doing researches for their school works.

Some parents said many teachers, including those in elementary and primary schools, have become “too sophisticated” in their taste for submitted school projects.

“Many teachers want their students to submit their reports in living color … and only computer shops could produce color printouts.”

Concerned residents of Mambulao have asked whether said computer shop operators have proper business permits or business license to cover their activities.

While some parents said minors should be banned from computer shops during school hours, others have argued that said shops are legitimately being operated and therefore should not be deprived of their rights to do business and earn.

A big bulk of clients are minors – elementary schoolchildren and high school students – and banning them for most of the business hours would be unfair, according to pro-computer shop parents.

It has been suggested that concerned parents and municipal authorities should sit together to take up the problem and come up with a solution without depriving the shops of their right to do business.

Basically, all this boils down to one thing: a child’s discipline, which usually reflects on his parents’ ability to do proper parenting, one observer said.

A website has proposed the following for parents and LGUs concerned to consider:
• No entry during school days – This is the strictest rule being implemented by some LGUs. This means that no children are allowed inside café premises from Monday to Friday. Children can only go to an internet café on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays either to play games or do their assignments where they need to make research on the internet.

• No Entry During School Hours – A more common provision on many local ordinances, this one prevents entry of school children to Internet cafés from say 7am to 6pm or even up to 9pm depending on school schedules in an area. Under this rule, school children can play games or make their homework inside computer shops in the evenings (until before curfew time) and on weekends only.

• No entry during class hours – While there are just few LGUs that impose this rule on their ordinances, this is the ‘win-win’ situation for both the school children and the café owners. 

Under this regulation, school children can enter computer shops to do their assignments and homework or play games as long as it is not their class hours (normally classified as morning, afternoon or evening class). 

It may be a little difficult to monitor compliance to this rule. The school and other local authorities have to coordinate closely with the internet café owners regarding the class schedules of the children.

• No entry for children in school uniforms – This should be a ‘must’ on any local ordinance regulating the entry of school children to Internet cafés. Having school children wearing uniforms inside a café will not only give bad image to their schools but also to the Internet café allowing such. Anyone who sees school children wearing their uniforms inside Internet cafés will readily have the impression that those young café customers skip their classes.

The blogger said these are the existing regulations in different areas that some LGUs who do not yet have or in-process of amending their local ordinances may consider. 

“I suggest that Internet café owners seek ways to present the best options to their local legislators. 

"Having a thorough discussion on the issue can go a long way in having a fruitful co-existence of schools and Internet cafés in any locality,” he said.