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Guv issues orders to protect Choco Hills, aid brgy workers

By: June S. Blanco

GOV. Erico Aumentado last week issued separate orders giving added protection to the Chocolate Hills and aid to barangay and other workers in case of death or injury in the line of duty. Administrative Order No. 3 series of 2006 prohibits the issuance of quarry permits and favorable indorsements of mining permit applications in Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan towns to forestall any degradation of the Chocolate Hills no matter who applies for such.

The hills are already declared geological monuments and are covered under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) for which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is the lead implementing agency. Aumentado said the provincial government is exerting every effort to preserve and maintain the natural wonder including the plains between, connecting and surrounding them since they are the major attractions in Bohol 's tourism industry and a heritage to be shared with the world.

As such, he ordered the prohibition of any quarrying and mining activities in the three towns. He tasked the Bohol Environment and Management Office (BEMO) to ensure that quarry permit applications or renewal thereof and requests for favorable indorsements of mining permit applications therein shall be denied due course, and to ensure compliance and enforcement of the order. It also enjoined the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR to deny all mining permit applications or renewal in the named towns. On the other hand, Executive Order No. 8 series of 2006 amends EO 14 s. 2005 that established the implementing guidelines of the Governor's Aid Group Accident Insurance (Gagpai) by expanding its coverage. To note, the provincial government enacted Provincial Ordinance No. 2005-013 that created the Gagpai for barangay tanods, health (BHWs) and day care workers (DCWs) and barangay livestock aides (Balas).

Pursuant to Sec. 4 of the ordinance, the governor issued EO 14 on Sept. 24, 2005 establishing its implementing guidelines. But the provincial government amended the same by a subsequent ordinance expanding its beneficiaries, this time to include barangay captains, councilors, treasurers, secretaries, nutrition scholars, civilian volunteers (CVOs), Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (Cafgus) , volunteer fish wardens and Lupong Tagapamayapa members as well as military reservists who are peace and order volunteers all duly appointed by the proper authority, hence the order.

Workers still covered by the group insurance under the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) will be automatically covered by Gagpai when the former expires. Aumentado said he has simplified the requirements in claiming benefits. The insured, in case of physical injuries resulting from, or in relation to the performance of official duties and functions stand to get P1,000. In case of death resulting from, in relation to, or aggravated by the performance of official duties and functions, the survivor or beneficiary gets P20,000.

Claims for payment are to be filed with the Office of the Governor (OG) within 30 days from the occurrence of the accident or death, supported by an application form duly subscribed by a notary public. The barangay captain concerned also needs to attest under oath that the claim is valid and that the injury was sustained or the death was caused while in the performance of duty, or aggravated by the performance of work.

Where death was aggravated by the performance of work, the beneficiary needs to submit a certification of the attending physician under oath that the death was directly aggravated by the nature and condition of the work, and confirmation, after review by the Provincial Health Office that the death was directly and solely aggravated by the performance of the official work of the insured. Aside from the simplified requirements, the OG evaluates the claim within 15 calendar days. When satisfactory, the claim will be released within 48 hours.

The provincial administrator oversees the proper recording of application and release of claims under the program. On the other hand, the executive assistant on financial matters monitors the sufficiency of the trust fund, while the city and municipal mayors regularly update the list of the insured coming from their respective jurisdictions.
 

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VOLUME XX No. 48
Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines
June 11, 2006 issue