October 1, 2004 (STAR) Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. is pushing for the full implementation of an agricultural development program that will train returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and retired officers and personnel of government and private institutions to become entrepreneurs and encourage them to invest in agribusiness.

The program, dubbed New Farmers Program (NFAP), will also train and give opportunity to other unemployed Filipinos such as displaced workers, and jobless college graduates who are above 35 years old to become entrepreneurs and responsible players in sustainable agricultural development.

"This program aims to help address unemployment problem by maximizing the potential of our country's agriculture and fisheries sector and enable our unemployed countrymen to become entrepreneurs and take active part in pushing our economy to progress," Magsaysay said.

Magsaysay, chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture and the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) will grace the opening ceremonies for the first training which is set on Monday, Sept. 27 at the Central Luzon State University in Munos, Nueva Ecija. The first five-day training program will end on Oct. 1.

The Senator noted that the country's unemployment level last year was recorded at 3.92 million, which was about 58,000 more than the 2002 figures. He hopes that the program could help generate jobs particularly in the countryside.

Regaining the glory of Manila Bay By Benny G. Enriquez The Philippine STAR 09/26/2004

At the heart of the country’s capital city lies an age-old natural legacy that is reflective of the Filipino soul – the Manila Bay. A semi-closed estuary, it hosts a diverse range of fisheries, aquaculture, agricultural and mineral resources, forests and urban ecosystems, and boasts of rich cultural, recreation, historical and tourism values. The Bay also serves as a vital engine of economic growth of the country, especially in Region 3 (Central Luzon), Region 4 (Southern Tagalog), and National Capital Region (NCR). Its location also enables the country to easily gain access to transboundary development with neighboring Asian countries.

For the past two to three decades, however, this heart-shape Bay has been a repository of all kinds of debris/wastes from various sources like households, institutions, agriculture and industries. Findings from a study conducted by the Manila Bay Environmental Management Project (MBEMP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) titled "Manila Bay Refined Risk Assessment" launched in March 2004, confirms the bay’s status of being a "pollution hotspot". To address this critical situation, this same study also recommends a coordinated and unified effort among the government, local government units, private sector. Non-Government Organizations, civil society, and the households so that the grandeur-that-was of the historic Manila Bay can once again, be regained.

On Sept. 18, the DENR led by Secretary Michael T. Defensor, spearheaded a coastal clean-up activity along Manila Bay in observance of the 10th International Coastal Clean-Up. Defensor firmly believes that Filipinos must "clean up to move up . . . as our collective effort in preserving one of our country’s greatest legacy and resource – the Manila Bay – greatly contributes to nation-building and economic development." Thousands joined the DENR in giving a fresh look of the Bay composed of volunteers from public and private schools, industries, government agencies, non-government organizations and institutions, and civil society. The cleaning up was undertaken along US Embassy Baywalk, Roxas Boulevard, fisherman’s wharf and Public Estates Authority (PEA). The MBEMP-DENR plays a big role in this activity.

The MBEMP based in the DENR, is one of the three (3) sub regional projects under the regional program on building Partnerships in Environment for Seas of the East Asia (PEMSEA) being supported by the United Nations Development Program/Global Environmental Facility fund. (The other sites are Bohai Sea (China) and the Gulf of Thailand). PEMSEA seeks to address transboundary environmental issues, develop a strategic Environmental

Management Plan, and employ integrated coastal management to address local environmental issues in the Bay area. Different sectors and institutions and local governments along the coast of Manila Bay have been exerting collaborative efforts in the implementation of the project towards the project’s vision of Manila Bay with clean, safe, wholesome and productive ecosystem, center of socio-economic development and with enhanced quality of life for the present and future generations.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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