Administrative Order No. 21’s General Provisions are the following:
by Joana Danielle Sanidad, Micah Jemima Quirimit, Kezia Marris Guerrero
For Andrea (not her real name), a university student here in Baguio City, going to Burnham Park every afternoon is not a hobby but, a routine already. At 5:30pm, her favorite carts are already out on the streets selling her favorite past-time food—street foods.
Upon arriving, the vendor—Kuya Ryan (his real name)—would greet her with a smile. Andrea had been his customer since her freshman year. She would then pick up whatever she feels like eating for that afternoon.
“Kulang pa nga sakin ‘to e, (Actually, this isn’t enough for me)” says Andrea, holding out a bowl full of fishball, kwek-kwek, and squidballs. “Mga tatlong round pa ng ganito, hehe, (About three more rounds of this)” she adds.
Andrea is just one of the many students, people, who find street foods delicious and won’t also mind if these are clean or not. These street food carts are located almost everywhere. At first glance, you wouldn’t really think that something wrong is going on in these carts, until you look closely enough to notice.
Closer look on this business
Street food vendors in Burnham Park, Baguio City do not have business permits and sanitary permits but are still allowed to be in operation and are not restrained by the local government, thus, giving them the chance to market their goods to the people around the city. There are certain laws implemented by the government which are made to ensure the safety of the public when it comes to the food that they are consuming.
According to Presidential Decree No. 856, Code on Sanitation, the health of the public is prioritized subject to protection and promotion. First section of the decree states matters regarding sanitary permits which business establishments, specifically food vendors and handlers are required to acquire.
Sanitary permits are necessary in ensuring the public that the food establishments, or any place where food and beverages are served, manufactured, processed, stored or sold, that they are patronizing are clean. Also, these sanitary permits must be posted in a noticeable or visible area in that certain food establishment. These are some of the laws under Section 14 (Sanitary Permits) of Presidential Decree No. 856.
Almost all of the street food vendors that are around Baguio do not have the necessary permits for operation. One would not find a sanitary permit posted on any of these street food vendors’ food carts.
There are two officers who are in charge of screening applicants for business and sanitary permits and of releasing those permits from Baguio City Hall. The first one is Cristio A. Lagyop, Permits & Licensing Officer of Baguio City Hall. Regarding the securing of permits of street food vendors, he said that there are no special permits issued to them and that; first, they must get an endorsement from Burnham Park since it is where they are located.
Another officer from Baguio City Hall, Mr. de Guzman, the Division of Health Head, was asked about the street food vendors and how their permits are released and processed. He said that permits are not released for the street food vendors because they have no permanent structures which are a requirement when you are asking for a sanitary permit. Vendors who have permanent structures or those who have distributors can apply for the necessary permits that they need in order to have their businesses legalized. He mentioned that these vendors should go to different agencies and establishments to be able to have all the requirements they need to apply for business permits.
For every law abided for the food handlers in the decree stated, there are also laws provided for the law enforcers in disciplining the food handlers/vendors. They shall be the ones to inspect and prevent the marketing of food which are already not consumable and edible for the consumers. They are also responsible for checking the unsanitary environment and tools used by the vendors. And most of all, they are responsible for enforcing the laws stated in the Presidential Decree No. 856, Code on Sanitation, these are according to Sec. 33 (Responsibility of the Local Health Authority).
Until now, these vendors are still out on the streets selling street foods to the people. They have been there for a couple of years and they have been operating even without the necessary permits that the law is requiring. Consumers’ health are put to danger because food inspections are not conducted and the environment these street food vendors are situated is not checked.
Time-Consuming or Money-Wasting
These street food vendors are not allowed to station themselves out on the public until 5:30pm. Reasons for this weren’t stated but, if they go around about before the given time they are arrested by the police. This was an agreement made between the vendors and the police.
Why do they settle with this kind of business when they can get permits and have their stations permanently positioned? According to Section 14 of Presidential Decree No. 856, there are fees that permit applicants are supposed to pay when having issuance, renewal and noting of certificates. The amount of the fee depends upon the capital that the business used for the operation. Ideally, one food cart gains P1000.00 a day from street foods which cost P5.00 – P25.00 per stick. The operators would still subtract the money they would use for gas and lard from that P1000.00. P200.00 would go to the person who was in charge of that cart that day. This could be one of the reasons why they would rather settle with having no permits and have a certain time when they can start selling street foods than get permits, pay taxes and get lesser profit.
Street food vendors are referred to as the people who sell fishballs, squidballs, kwek-kwek, and one day olds who are located in most places where people would most likely go. These vendors use cooking oil repeatedly which is dangerous to the consumers’ health. University of the Philippines Baguio Clinic Physician Leila Jara said that anything that is heated up can produce chemical reactions. When cooking oil is repeatedly heated up for cooking street foods, chemical reactions take place which produce toxic chemicals which can be harmful to the health. In addition to Jara’s statement, a licensed doctor based in Japan, Dr. Akihito Kaga, MD., said that it is not healthy for people to consume foods cooked with overused cooking oil. Unhealthy fats and salts could be obtained from overused cooking oil. These unhealthy fats can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and obesity while the unhealthy salts can cause kidney stones and bladder stones.
Photo 1. Street food: fish balls, chicken balls, kikiam, one day old
De Guzman was also asked about his opinion on the sanitation of the foods being sold by the street food vendors. He said that the public is not sure on how they store and prepare these types of food, they might get typhoid fever, or the ingestion of food which is contaminated or which have salmonella virus. If the people really want to eat these types of food, he said that they should be the ones preparing and cooking these in their respective homes to ensure their safety and sanitation.
When asked about his opinion on overused cooking oil, he said that the cooking oil should only be repeated twice. He mentioned that when cooking oil is more than twice, the oil should now be used for other purposes like fuel for vehicles, and for advertising techniques.
To guarantee that the food handlers are free from any kind of disease that may harm their customers, health certificates are issued to them. Examinations are conducted to test whether these food handlers who are applying for sanitary permits are free from infectious diseases. These are according to Section 15 of the same Presidential Decree (Health Certificates).
Health certificates are only issued to the vendors or food chain/establishment employees who are complete in the sanitation requirements that are necessary. Street food vendors do not have this certificate mentioned because they are vendors with no permanent structure (ambulant vendors) and they do not have plans on making this as a permanent business.
Ambulant Vendors & Food Handling
These street food vendors use kitchen utensils to be able to cook the foods that they are selling while they are on the streets. The foods they are selling are raw ones. Some may be cooked but some customers ask them to reheat the food that they are buying. Ambulant food vendors are prohibited to sell food that requires the use of utensils according to Section 32 (Special Provisions), e. (Ambulant Food Vendors) of Presidential Decree No. 856. Also, the only kinds of food that they are allowed to sell are bottled food drinks, biscuits and confectioneries.
Clean working garments must be worn by food handlers, like prescribed caps and hairnets, especially female food handlers. Some of these street food vendors do not wear the working garments recommended by the law while they are out on the streets cooking their customers’ foods. They are also unable to wash their hands before they cook and one could see that their hands are really dirty.
According to Section 19 (Food Handlers) of Presidential Decree No. 856, health certificates are required for every food handlers before they get employed. Food handlers are also required to wear clean working garments, specifically caps or hairnets, especially for female employees, in addition to that they are required to observe their personal hygiene, and lastly, wash their hands with soap and water and dry them thoroughly.
Ryan Ramos is a street vendor for 2 years now. He was under a supplier/handler for one year and has been handling his own for one year now. Ramos’ handler is named Danny Panimbatan. When asked whether his supplier had the necessary permits, he said that there was none. Ramos also said that when he was able to have his own cart of street foods, he wanted to apply for permits but the Baguio City Hall did not let him get his own.
Ramos, when asked about the cooking oil that he has been using, he mentioned that he does not exactly overuse it. What he does is that he adds new oil to what he has recently used. He buys 2 kilograms of lard then mixes it to the oil left from the last time he fried street foods.
The reason behind this could be the amount of money that he could save if he chooses to reuse the cooking oil. In here, the safety of the consumers is sacrificed just so these vendors could gain more profit.
Photo 2. Fish balls being soaked and cooked in overused cooking oil
Kwek-kwek, squidballs, fishballs and other street foods taste really good and they can fill one’s stomach at a very low price. These street foods can give people satisfaction but, as consumers, you should know the risks of eating such foods. These can sustain people’s energies for quite a while and they could save a lot from buying these foods instead of other foods but these could also cost people a lot of money once these people get sick due to the dangers of such kind of foods.
As for the vendors’ practice of overusing cooking oil, consumers’ health are put to risk without them directly knowing it. It might be because of the profit that they might lose or gain if they follow the correct ways and process of having a legal business. For a day, they will only get a small part of the money that they have earned for a day, still considering all the bills that they have to pay.
Two ladies named Grellyn and Jesusa studied college in a chilly city named Baguio. According to them, they have lived a simple life, trying to balance their academic requirements with their responsibility – responsibility which can be hard for many. These two ladies are students, as well as campus journalist.
It is a tough job to be a campus journalist. Unlike high school days, tertiary student publications can be considered as a microcosm of the practice and the society – they reflect the real – life situations of the people in the community.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS OF THE PAPER
In July 1958, Saint Louis University published the White and Blue’s oldest issue which can be still accessed. It was a community newspaper back then – with news, researches, news, articles, poems and essays in English, Filipino, Ilocano and Spanish.
A shift from community to academic newspaper took place in 1959 wherein the paper primarily consisted of news and features from all the sectors of the Louisian community. Literary works served as a way for students to express themselves during this time.
In 1961, innovations such as photojournalism and cartoons served as an improvement presented by White and Blue.
A supplement in the newspaper’s existence came in the first semester of 1968. It was named Sapientia, which means wisdom. Sapientia served as a magazine – featuring students’ lives inside and outside the university.
In 1972, Martial Law impeded the publication of almost all the newspapers in the country – arrested journalists left and right and padlocked printing presses. This did not give exception to the White and Blue. During that time, only the Chronicle was said to be circulating around the campus.
The dark years passed and the restoration of the democracy happened. In 1993, the publication was alleged to be bias, leftists and radicals. The newspaper emphasized their primary duties to the Louisian community – to serve as mouthpieces of the Student Body and venue for exchange of ideas in the university.
However, self – interest and power struggle over the staff made the publication suffered more. With this, the administration decided to discontinue the publication without resolving the issue. For three years since then, SLU had no publication.
In December 1996, White and Blue picked up the pieces and initiated a screening for the staff.
After years of being mum, the Valentines’ day of 1997 marked the re-birth of White and Blue. The new staff members published an issue.
Years passed, White and Blue continued to improve their publication to cater the Louisian community. Supplements like Sapientia, Kwaderno (literary portfolio), Iglap (photography portfolio) and Guhit (comic strip portfolio) came into existence.
Up to this day, the publication still maintains their passion for truth, justice and campus freedom.
CREATING SHIELDS FOR FUTURE BATTLES
According to Batayang Oryentasyon ng UP Baguio Outcrop 2008, the word Outcrop was defined as “a coming out of bedrock to the surface of the ground; also; the part of a rock formation that thus appears.”
The publication started roughly around 1962 as a tri – weekly newsletter which showcases news articles and few student and organizational ads.
During the First Quarter Storm, the publication was recognized as an alternative newsletter. Martial Law came and the publication ceased its publication. Despite this, Outcrop managed to release an underground publication.
Later on, the student publication became a mosquito press which served as the mouth piece of the people – writing news and issues which cannot be found on the crony press.
After the dark ages brought by Martial Law, Outcrop came back to continue its tradition and watchdog function – breaking issues about the university and the government and mobilizing movements for students, teachers and employees of UP Baguio.
Outcrop’s alumni include Chancellor Priscilla Supnet – Macansantos and Professor Rey Rimando.
NOT THE USUAL PRIVATE SCHOOL LASS
Fourth year BS Information Technology student Grellyn Paoad defined campus press freedom as having the chance to do one’s functions as a journalist without being harassed or manipulated. She also seen its importance and firmly believes that their publication, White and Blue, has it.
Journalism is already a familiar craft for her. She was former Editor – in – Chief in elementary and former Managing Editor in high school. She also garnered awards from various conferences such as RSPC and NSPC. At present, her only affiliation is SLU’s White and Blue.
“Strenuous yet fulfilling task,” Paoad described her take as a campus journalist. “Mahirap kasi kailangan mo talaga ng time-management skills. At the same time, fulfilling kasi alam mo na may nagagawa ka na kapaki-pakinabang. At marami ka ring natututuhan at nakikilala na mga tao.”
When asked why she continues to be on the publication, she said: “Passion ko ang pagsusulat. Atsaka gusto kong ituloy ang nasimulan ko noong elementary.”
CONQUERING HEIGHTS AT 19
Second year BA Social Sciences student Jesusa Paquibot said that campus press freedom is a critical aspect in one’s university life. Furthermore, she said “Dito [campus press freedom] nagsisimula ang ating tuwirang pagtatanggol ng ating karapatan sa pamamahayag bilang mag kabataan-estudyante.”
Like Paoad, Paquibot also had a taste of publication writing long before entering Outcrop. She became News Editor and Photojournalist during her high school days. In 2009, she also participated in Photojournalism category at RSPC. Currently, her only affiliation is the UPB Outcrop.
“Maaring mangahulugan ito ng isang buhay estudyante na may mga karagdagang gawain para sa hinahabol na “deadline” ng bawat nilalabas ng publikasyon.” Paquibot defined what really a campus journalist is.
When asked why she continues to be on the publication, she said, “Upang mahasa sa pagsulat at magkaroon ng kaalaman sa mga pangyayari at isyung kinahaharap ng mga Pilipino.”
WHO INDEED IS FREE?
In terms of the publication process, Paoad claimed than in SLU, it “is case to case basis.” Talks were made between the two parties in order to arrive at an issue’s conclusion which will be published. The publication has an adviser which oversees the publication from time to time.
Answering the issue that private schools were repressed and did not have campus press freedom as much as state universities have, Paoad said: “…hindi naman kami sinisikil ng admin sa pag-release ng mga publication. Kung sakali, kinakausap lang nila kami kung may gusto sila i-clarify. Also, added factor na wala naman kami nareceive na scholarship or benefits sa pagsali namin sa organization kaya wala rin sila panghawak sa amin kung nagkataon.”
She said that there are no forms of repression, as far as she is concerned.
On the other hand, she said past editorial boards experienced harassment but not to the extent that a libel case was slapped against them.
Meanwhile, Paquibot said that there are no consultations happening between them and their adviser in every publication’s issue. The publication believes that Outcrop is an independent institution and thus, members of the publication should choose what articles must be on the paper.
However, Outcrop sees the need of having an adviser. Paquibot said “…ang kahalagahan naman ng Adviser ay hindi rin maikakaila dahil isa sa mga tungkulin ng bawat student institution ay magkaroon rin ng ugnay ang mga ito sa iba’t ibang sektor sa loob ng unibersidad. Ang adviser ng Outcrop ay nagsisilbing representante ng mga kaguruan sa mga maaring gawing hakbang ng student publication sa mga aktibidad nito.”
Paquibot also commented about the presence of repression in UP “Ang mga insidenteng masasabing may porma ng represyon ay hindi palaging nararanasan sa loob ng unibersidad, lalo pa’t ang UP ay isa sa mga institusyon sa ating bayan na nagtatanggol dito.” However she also added, “Sa kabila nito, hindi lubos na buo ang seguridad na hindi maranasan ng mga publikasyon sa loob ng pamantasan, gaya ng Outcrop, ang represyon maging sa UP. Sa tuwing dumadating sa puntong tila nagiging magkaiba o magkabaligtad ang interes ng administrasyon at ng mga institusyon ng sangkaestudyantehan, halimbawa.”
When asked if she already experienced harassment, she says “Nagpapasalamat ako kung gayon dahil sa ngayon, hindi pa naman ako nakararanas ng harassment. Kinalulungkot ko naman na ang iba kong kakilala na ginagawa rin ang aking mga tungkulin sa loob ng UPB at mula sa iba pang unibersidad ay direktang nakaranas na ng harassment, at kadalasan dahil hindi din madaling ipagtanggol ang ating sariling karapatan kung minsan dahil sa mga limitasyon, hindi agad-agad na nahaharap ang mga ito.”
Philippine Daily Inquirer Northern Luzon Bureau Chief and CAC Professor Rolando Fernandez tackled in Journalism 107 class the essence of campus journalism in colleges and universities. Sir Rolly, as students and faculty members call him, argued that UP has campus freedom – for the members of Outcrop can freely choose and write topics which can voice out the interest of the students. However, private schools such as Saint Louis University may not have this will exercised – as the publication was confined to the stories that were purely positive and favorable to SLU’s administration.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS: FREEDOM + RESPONSIBILITY
A popular quote said that “With freedom comes with responsibility.” These two concepts cannot be separated from one another, based on a existentialist point of view. In spite of the issues surrounding these two newspapers – Paoad and Paquibot claimed that their respective student publications have campus press freedom. However, are they responsible?
Quoted from Paoad “Responsableng pamamahayag – wala kang kinikilingan, walang prinoprotektahan, at katotohanan lahat ng sinulat mo. Oo, sinisigurado namin na nasusunod ang Code of Ethics ng mga mamamahayag, dahil dapat din mabalanse mo ang mga karapatan mo bilang isang mamamahayag sa mga responsibilidad mo.”
On the other hand, Paquibot said “Ang responsableng pamamayahag ay pamamahayag nang matapat, walang sinusundang pansariling interes, nagtatalakay sa isyu ng mamamayan, at gumagamit ng kritikal na pag-aanalisa sa mga isyung ito. Ang mga nabanggit, sa totoo ay, ay kulang pa upang buong mailarawan ang responsableng pamamahayag. Sa huli at simpleng sagot, ang responsableng pamamahayag ay hindi paglalathala ng bulag na kagustuhan kundi matapang na paglalathala ng mga katotohanan, gaano man kabigat ang mga ito.
In addition, she said “Ang Code of Ethics ay sinusundan ng mga mamamahayag ng publikasyon sa abot ng makakaya at rasyonal na pagpili ng mga hakbangin… At gaya ng lahat ng nagpapatuloy na institusyon, hindi maiiwasan ang mga pagkakamali, ngunit ang mga pagkakamaling, kung mayroon man, ay pinanghahawakan bilang dahilan ng pagbabago at patuloy na pag-unlad.”
WHAT REALLY IS FREEDOM?
One optimistic college student may infer some idealistic perspectives on viewing himself and the world. An example of a perspective being idealistically seen upon is the concept of freedom.
What really is freedom? Like any ideology believed in, there is no such thing as absolute ideology. According to Ms. Sabrina Nikki Ramos, a former UPB Social Sciences instructor, there is no such thing as absolute freedom. We are all free, yes, but we are grounded by rules. And these rules restrict individuals in doing acts that are not socially acceptable. It is because grave consequences may follow if these rules are not pursued.
Going back, do these publications have Campus Press Freedom? Yes, as stated. However, again, it is not absolute. #
by Isha Marie Maganis, Angela Louise Rosario, Dyan Eliza Sipcon
A pedophile is defined as an uneducated, poor, foreign, and mentally-retarded male. According to Merriam-Webster, pedophilia is the “sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object,” while a pedophile is the “one affected with pedophilia.”
This is also how the society perceives pedophiles. However, in reality, this is not always the case.
According to Jannie, a graduate of family science and founder of http://www.Child-Safety-For-Parents.com, a qualified pedophile must “have repeated urges to be sexually involved with a child, fantasize to the point that relationships with other adults are damaged or destroyed, and be so obsessed that the person can’t function well in society anymore.”
Reported pedophilia cases in the previous years are noted in Baguio City blurring people’s perceptions of pedophiles.
Case # 1
“Carlo*” was a teenager at that time. He was staying at their house when he suddenly heard a knock. He went to the door to find out who it was. When he opened the door, he saw a group of alleged missionaries. They were going from one house to another, “spreading the word of God.” The moment they learned that Carlo was alone in the house; they pulled him in and raped him.
Case # 2
“Margot*” was five years old then. Her mother was an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and she was not there to take care of Margot most of the time. Margot’s mother needed to hire a caregiver to look after Margot. “Macy*” was a male homosexual. He liked children and was known to be nice and close with the kids. With that knowledge, Margot’s mom was confident to leave her children with Macy. Macy took advantage of the situation and sexually-abused Margot. The mother learned of the situation but it was too late.
Case # 3
This case took place in a computer shop that happened last year. “Dino*” was a local government official, who was alleged to be walking around a computer shop at night, convincing boys to go with him to his house. Fr. Geraldo Costa, a Brazilian priest expert in child psychology and director of Sunflower Children’s Center, a center in Baguio dedicated for the welfare of children, believes that Dino has more than one strategy in getting the boys’ trust. Fr. Costa added that Dino played with them, gave them food, and such. Dino was giving what the boy needed at the moment, which was because he has the money to lure them. He pays for the boys’ gaming hours and then the latter will forget about their curfew.
*names have been changed for privacy
Myths and Misconceptions about Pedophilia
Every day, people hear different news disseminated by media. People are already used to different facts due to the usual occurrence of news. People come up with misconceptions and myths, and develop their own definitions according to what the news tell them, without further understanding. This is the same with pedophilia.
1. If a person is normal, he is not pedophiliac.
People like to watch the news and comment afterwards. We always hear people saying, “If a person is in his right mind, he would not even think about doing such a thing.” They may not say it directly but people look at others in the shades of black and white. There is no compromise. In the case of pedophiles, people often perceive ‘normal’ people as ‘not pedophiliacs’ and ‘crazy’ people as ‘pedophiliacs.’
2. Pedophiles are always foreigners.
Media sensationalize news involving foreigners. The Philippines is a developing country that looks up to people coming from other countries. Having foreigners as violators or abusers is already a big issue for most media people. It has also been perceived that since foreigners have the money, they are the only ones capable to lure children.
3. All pedophiles are males, whereas all their victims are girls.
The Philippines is a patriarchal society. Male dominance is still evident in families, media, politics, and such. Although females of this generation try to equate themselves with males, what continues to emerge is the stereotype that they are physically, mentally, and emotionally weak. Thus, it makes males the qualified gender to be pedophiliac and seemingly impossible for females.
Also, in most reported cases girls are victims because they are perceived to be weaker and an easier target. They are also more vocal than boys.
4. All pedophilia cases include sexual activities.
Almost all reports in police blotters and in news accommodate pedophilia cases having sexual intercourse. When you say sexual pleasure, words such as intercourse and penetration of the genitals come to mind. Verbal abuse and other forms of abuse were not put into consideration because of its rarity. The general public was not completely informed of different cases wherein children can be abused. People also usually avoid talking about these conservative issues.
5. Pedophiles are usually middle-aged men.
Father figures like stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles, and whoever close to the victim were the ones usually reported as the perpetrators. Some were even described to be as Dirty Old Men.
6. Victims are always forced by pedophiles.
Their perpetrators are usually dominant and connected to being a father figure. As such, the victims were always perceived to be forced, that they did not want everything that happened between them and their perpetrators. The victims usually appear that they are sad and devastated, and that they are used, manipulated, and violated.
Breaking the Myths
Fr. Costa, generally described pedophiles as a person “…that is normal, heterosexual, with a partner, who is of the same age but at certain times he becomes a child abuser.” He also added that children are used for sexual purposes.
“Anyone can be a pedophile with enough psychological disturbances,” said Fr. Costa. A number of pedophile cases in Baguio City have been turned over to his care over the years. The worrisome fact is that these pedophile cases do not include incest cases.
People consider persons who have illnesses or diseases as not ‘normal,’ however, ‘normal’ is relative. As a reiteration of what Fr. Costa said, anyone could be a pedophile. A person can be sane even if he is pedophiliac. Pedophilia only develops when triggered by something he needs at the moment─ psychological, emotional, or physical needs. Reasons could be personal, like marital affairs, when the husband is no longer satisfied with his emotional and physical relationship with his wife. Pedophilia can also be triggered when he had experienced and witnessed abuse and violence in his early years.
People may think it is not normal, but pedophilia is a common deviation a person can experience. The act could be a release from stress.
Foreigners are involved in pedophile cases; however, reported cases in Baguio City also include local people. Surprisingly, these pedophiles are not only foreigners, but also the Filipinos’ own kababayans. The local media tend to sensationalize reports involving foreigners because they are the aliens of the community.
Another myth that people still believe is that males are the only perpetrators and girls are their victims. There are some cases that actually comprise women that were mentioned by a social worker, but the cases cannot be disclosed for confidentiality. Also, because the perpetrators are women, their identities cannot be revealed by media.
A news article entitled “Barriers to Solving Child Abuse in Community Cited,” published in Baguio Midland Courier last March 20, 2011, and written by Leia Castro discussed a forum that was held last March 16, 2011 at St. Louis University CCA Theater. The said forum, “Boys are Abused Too!” brought out the issue regarding the public’s lack of awareness on child abuse, especially on boys.
In an interview with Mrs. Liza Balao, Social Welfare Officer III of the Silungan Center, mentioned that there were no pedophile cases, having boys as victims, in Baguio City last year. She said that the only case reported was last 2007. The incident involved a foreign national and two minors aged 15 and 16. The boys were recruited by the foreigner from Mindanao, took them to different places in the Philippines, and eventually ended up in Baguio City. The foreigner promised them things in order to gain their trust so they would go with him. They rented a place somewhere in Baguio City. The boys were just staying in the house and the foreigner was the only one going in and out. He was the one who provided their needs. Their landlady noticed that something suspicious was going on and reported it to the police. The foreigner was charged for child abuse. He is in jail up to the present, however, according to Mrs. Balao, he is doing everything to be released. She added that he even filed cases against her and other social workers.
Another instance related to the abuse of boys was posted in the internet. That instance showed more reason to advocate awareness on the abuse. Bulatlat.com, an alternative online publication, posted a letter from Mr. Angelico Mercader, a former Department of Education (DepEd) officer. He narrated how his kids were sexually harassed by SM security personnel during an inspection. The incident happened last April 29, 2006. He stated in the letter, “After I was inspected, I saw the guard frisking my sons from the waist down to their private parts, one after the other. I freaked out when I saw what the guard did, as I also saw him smiling while my two sons were looking at me helplessly. I reprimanded him and said that he had just sexually harassed my children. Instead of apologizing, he argued that he was only joking and that he wasn’t gay and that my children were boys anyway.”
In the same letter, he mentioned about their advocacy against child abuse. During that time, people were still in denial and oblivious on cases involving sexually abused boys. Unfortunately, the incident was not taken seriously. SM Baguio did not do anything about it. Mr. Mercader filed a complaint to the police and continued the fight in court. He won the case; however, he believed that the court’s decision was not enough. The decision stated that the security guard was charged for crime of unjust vexation. He added that unjust vexation is a minor offense and, at that time, the fine was only Php 5 to 200 or imprisonment of 1 to 30 days. Another thing, if a case does not fit descriptions of a specific abuse, the case would fall under unjust vexation.
Penetration of genitals is not always present in pedophile cases. Fr. Costa explained the reason behind pedophilia. He said, “I believe that it is not sexual or genital pleasure. It’s power. That’s why in Europe there are several cases wherein they hide children in their houses (in the roof or a very secretive place). It is the power of handling. That’s why authorities, sexual related or political related, are very much into sexual abuse with children. You see the whole game of power. They are stimulated with the hold of power they can impose. To have a child or meaning individual completely under their control. It is a sickness. It’s a psychotic element. The individual thinks that he can do anything to that individual because he has him under full power.” Unknown to many, the sexual or genital pleasure they get is only a bonus.
According to Fr. Costa, there are people who are called, “consexuals,” “who get the trust of boys in difficult situations, usually in Maharlika area.” In the Urban Dictionary definition, consexual means, “a sexual identifier indicating a preference for mutually consensual sexual contact.” They blatantly express their sexual identity and preferences. They ask the boy to live with them and, in return, give them sexual favors.
In some instances, boys are willing to sell their flesh in the areas of Burnham Park and Maharlika. However, there were no reported cases in Baguio local police from 2010 to 2011. Most reported cases were boys as victims of physical abuse. The closely related case filed was unjust vexation. In short, there is a whole market of prostitution in Baguio City.
In the end, it all boils down to power. Power over another human being has becoming an addiction. Gaining power has become an achievement or a game to be won. The chase is the thing that stimulates the pedophile and sexual contact is just a freebie.
Fr. Costa stressed that a pedophile often attempts to get the boys’ trust through promising and/or giving things. Victims are usually from poor communities and, sometimes, with a history of neglect.
Fr. Costa stated that there is no medicine or permanent treatment for pedophilia because it is a psychotic tendency. On the other hand, the victims can undergo psychotherapy. The duration of the treatment depends on factors such as the extent of trauma and age of the victim. The younger ones are more resilient that the older ones. There were cases that the trauma comes back, most especially during their puberty stage. Sometimes, after the treatment, when another incident of sexual abuse occurs, trauma comes back.
According to Fr. Costa, the children sometimes tell the incident to their parents. However, the parents sometimes do not always pay attention. The child does not do anything anymore because he tends to think that he is wrong because his parents did not mind him. He felt that his parents did not trust him.
More advocacies are also needed to protect and promote peaceful youth of the children. Boys and girls alike are afraid to talk since their parents usually do not mind them. Another, to save the family’s reputation, the issue becomes confined and justice is not given to the child.
by Francis Blaise Acorda, Jon Viktor Cabuenas, Carly Ymer Lemence
Rebecca Martin is a working woman in Purok 17, Irisan, Baguio City. She works as a garbage picker in the new Irisan dumpsite and she has already been working for 15 years. As the old dumpsite is now closed, Rebecca now works in the staging area to continue her work. Unlike others who take trash for granted, she earns her living from trash.
Rebecca, together with other family members, goes to the dumpsite as early as 5 o’clock in the morning every day. With the use of long sticks, they search within the trash for plastics and other biodegradable materials. They segregate everything they can find – bottles, plastics, wrappers, etc. At the end of the day, at around 7 o’clock in the evening, they sell everything they get to the nearest junk shops. They earn around 100 Php per day.
Although the Irisan dumpsite was permanently closed since the trash slide last August 27, 2011, Rebecca and her co-workers still feel glad about having a staging area in Purok 17, Irisan. According to her, this is the only place where they can work and the only place where they can earn money for a living.
Rebecca and her family are not the only ones who live near the Irisan dumpsite but they lucky, having not been affected by the trash slide. According to her, she has friends whose houses were buried in trash but the government helped them and gave them housing in Pacdal, Baguio City.
As a consistent observer in the Irisan dumpsite and the new staging area, Rebecca is aware of the everyday cycle of the garbage in Baguio City.
Rebecca Martin, wearing the blue cap, with her fellow garbage picker.
(Photo taken by Carly Ymer Lemence 03/05/12)
The Garbage Pickers (Photo taken by Carly Ymer Lemence 03/05/12)
The Irisan Dumpsite then and after the trashslide
The Irisan dumpsite has already been the area for Baguio City’s garbage since 1972. Prior to being a dumpsite, the area used to be owned by the Smith clan, an American family. It was then passed on to a local family from Baguio, the Caguioa family who finally decided to give the land to the city.
Before the implementation of the Republic Act 9003 in the year 2000, the segregation of the biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes was not strictly implemented, leaving an assortment of both biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste materials in the dumpsite.
After the trash slide that affected families from the residential areas along Irisan and Asin Road, Baguio City, Irisan Barangay Captain Thomas Dumalti says that as far as he knows, the city government of Baguio is liable for 20,000.00 Php for every death incurred in the incident and another 20,000.00 Php for every household affected. As help, the barangay solicited funds and relief goods to the affected families.
Kagawad Philip Tanawe of Barangay Irisan said that the affected families, including those whose houses were buried by trash, were not given relocation homes by the government. Tanawe added that some families resettled to their relatives living along Baguio while others stayed as they had no other place to go. According to Ruben A. Cervantes, Public Services Officer IV of City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO), they are not responsible for giving these families resettlement homes as these families are informal settlers.
Ceferino Nariz, an Irisan resident, said he and his family have been staying in the area since 1982. He said that they have no plans of leaving their home as it is where they earn their living. When it comes to issues and concerns, Nariz said that they do not have any problems, even if they live just beside the dumpsite. His only wish is for the garbage to be permanently removed for the government’s plans of rehabilitating the dumpsite to push through.
Is the dumpsite permanently closed?
The dumpsite was only permanently closed on January 28, 2012 after the Supreme Court released an order for the area to be permanently closed. Although there are rumors that the dumpsite is not really closed, the residents along the dumpsite, the garbage pickers, and Ruben Cervantes of CEPMO denied this. Cervantes added that the old dumpsite is where the recycling machines are located. Biodegradable materials collected from the city are brought there to be grinded and converted into fertilizers.
Today, part of the Irisan dumpsite is now covered by soil and according to Kagawad Tanawe, in time the whole site will be covered with soil, serving as the first step in rehabilitating the dumpsite.
As the dumpsite is now permanently closed, the city government eyes total restoration of the land. By the process of retrofiling, all the trash left in the site will be covered up by soil. Development started last January 28 and as of now, the topmost part of the area is now completely covered.
Since the site is not evenly levelled, parts of the area will be terraced as to avoid landslides. Regreening of the area will also be imposed as the site is set to be made into an eco-park.
Ruben Cervantes of CEPMO denied rumors that the money for the rehabilitation of the dumpsite was given to the victim of Sendong in Mindanao. He said that the financial donation said to have been giving to these victims, is from the contingency funds of the city.
The Irisan Dumpsite. Half of its top part covered with soil. (Photo taken by Kagawad Philip Tanawe of Barangay Irisan)
Kagawad Tanawe said that the dumpsite has minimal possibility of erosion as it is no longer in a slope.
Implementation of R.A.9003 and the New Staging Area
Although the Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Waste Management Act was implemented as early as the year 2000 during the term of Mayor Braulio Yaranon, people in Baguio City did not practice this. The “No Segregation, No Collection Policy” was only implemented after the Irisan trash slide. Since then, garbage from different houses and barangays are to be segregated. If not, these are not to be collected
Republic Act 9003, otherwise known as the “Philippine Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000,” states that “it is the policy of the State to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management.” Residents are to segregate trash between biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials.
As the Irisan dumpsite is now permanently closed, the government opened a new staging area for the city’s garbage. This staging area is located in Purok 17 of Barangay Irisan.
Ruben Cervantes of CEPMO said that the city’s garbage is supposed to be dumped in the staging area for only 24 hours then transported to Tarlac but according to Kagawad Tanawe, the garbage stays in the staging area for about two to three days before being transported. Tanawe also doubts that the recycling machines are being used by the city government because according to him, the machine cannot process all the biodegradables in converting it into compost materials. According to Cervantes, these machines are still being used.
Irisan Barangay Captain Thomas Dumalti said that for the garbage to be transported to Tarlac, it must first be transferred to larger trucks as the smaller trucks are not practical, being unable to transport large volumes of trash. Dumalti also believes that there is another staging area in Barangay Sanitary Camp but Kagawad Tanawe has contradicting information as he said that the Sanitary Camp is already clean and it only served as a staging area way before the Irisan dumpsite. Cervantes confirmed that Sanitary Camp is no longer a staging area and it now serves as a residential area.
(Photo taken by Carly Ymer Lemence 03/06/12) Staging Area in Irisan
Now that the city’s garbage is currently being dumped in the staging area, residents along the site have different opinions and views.
Feliza Uyam, a resident living near the staging area said that she sometimes works in the site. According to her, the staging area is open for everyone who wants to work there as a garbage picker, as there is no contract. She said that most of the people who work there need to earn money to buy food for their families.
Uyam said that both biodegradables and non-biodegradables are thrown in the staging area. Some of the biodegradables are brought to the closed Irisan dumpsite where the recycling machines are located, some given and found by the garbage pickers for them to sell, and the remaining biodegradables are collected by the large trucks to be brought to Tarlac.
With the staging area just a few steps away from her home, Feliza said that she is fine with the staging area being close to her home as it gives her and her neighbours a place to earn money to be able to help their families.
A store owner whose store is also a few steps from the staging area said that according to the government, the site will only be used as a staging area for six months but up until now, the staging area is still operating for even more than six months, allegedly, while some of the residents in the nearby area do not have any idea what the government will do with the area and how it is going to operate.
Residential Area near the Staging Area (Photo taken by Carly Ymer Lemence 03/05/12)
Land used for the staging area: Owned by the BCNHS
The land used for the staging area in Irisan where the garbage is currently being held, was originally owned by the city government but the land was later given to Baguio City National High School. When the news broke that the city government was using the land of BCNHS as a staging area, Dr. Elma D. Donaal, BCNHS Principal IV, immediately called the attention of CEPMO. Donaal learned the news from media who asked her to comment regarding the matter. Although the land had already been given to BCNHS, the government did not inform Donaal about the plan of making the land as a staging area for the city’s trash. Although a bit taken aback on the matter, Donaal agreed to the plan of the government and thought that it was a way to help the city.
The staging area is the proposed site where BCNHS and the Philippine Science High School plan to construct buildings for the expansion of their schools. As funds are not yet available for BCNHS, they have leased less than 50% of the land to the Philippine Science High School which is set to construct their school building as soon as possible. As of now, Principal Donaal agreed with CEPMO for the city to temporarily use their land as a staging area. “I am not complaining because it’s for the good of the city,” she said.
Donaal explained that the city hall is not to be blamed because it is not only the government’s garbage but it is also the garbage of the citizens of Baguio.
The “No Segregation, No Collection Policy” is now being strictly implemented in the city. Every day, 15 garbage trucks collect the trash once a day in the residential areas and thrice a day in the central business district of Baguio.
Rehabilitation of the Dumpsite
If the rehabilitation of the Irisan dumpsite and the planned eco-park pushes through, Barangay captain Dumalti wishes that the government prioritize the residents along the area, giving them jobs, as the government has now plans to make them leave the area.
by Shiela May Aballa, Shekinah Angiwan, and Kimiyo Meadows
The Department of Public Works and Highways – Baguio City District Engineer’s Office (DPWH- BCDEO) stands by three principles:
(1) Right Cost – reasonable and fair budget allocation
(2) Right Project – constructions, rehabilitation and improvement where most needed
(3) Right Quality – durable and safe roads
Right Quality: Complaints on Road Construction
Salamat DPWH – Baguio is new “bungkal city” of the Philippines – Instead of the official page of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Baguio, this page is the first to appear if you search for “DPWH Baguio” on Facebook.
There are only two posts on this page. The first one is by Mark Anthony Molina. On August 27, 2011, he wrote:
can i know who is the officer in charge of the DPWH baguio!!! because last night i have accident i was running 20kph with my motor then suddenly i struck a gap on the road it is deep now my motor and my self flown away on the road my question is why do the DPWH construct a gap on the road and didnt coverd with cement that gap on the road is located at burnham road infront of ganza restaurant im the 3rd motorist who got accident in that area im lucky to survive and only minor bruises on my body is what ive got!!! can the damn DPWH fix that road u make people die!!!! im concern not only i got accident but im concern to my fellow motorist who are riding in that area!!!! baguio is on heavy traffic ryt now because of construction everywhere why do DPWH construct it on rainy season and during class season why dont they do it on summer times where baguio is not totally populated!!! WHY DPWH i need an answer!!! freaking road construction!!!
The DPWH is the first government agency that comes to mind when the topic is road construction. This is typical because the word “highways” is in the name and a responsibility of the department. But does this department accommodate complaints such as Molina’s?
Baguio City District Engineer Ireneo Gallato explained that many complaints were addressed to their department, but actually some complaints were not in their area of responsibility. Engineer Gallato clarified that their office’s concern is only the national roads in Baguio City. The Baguio City District Engineering Office (BCDEO) is not responsible for the complaints about the local roads, so not all traffic-related problems are their fault.
Engineer Gallato claims that they receive a lot of complaints, but when asked for the records of complaints, he said that they require a formal letter. Assistant District Engineer Romelda Bangasan did not show any record of complaints either, but she offered copies of the procedural response to complaints. The same reply can be found in local newspapers, they said.
When a taxi driver, who asked to remain anonymous, was asked to comment on the road construction in Baguio, he said that negative feedback is pervasive because of traffic and repetitive and simultaneous construction of the roads. He added that although they are upset, they cannot do anything about it. BCDEO claimed that they inform relevant agencies, like transportation offices such as the Traffic Management Branch (TMB), before a project is implemented, but the public utility drivers are not aware of this. The drivers also said that even if they were informed, it would still be an inconvenience.
Most of the time, “nagkikibit-balikat na lang kami,” one of the taxi drivers said. They passively live and work with what the higher offices implement.
“Paulit-ulit ginagawa ang Bokawkawan, halos yearly. Pero sabi ng engineer na kakilala ko, ‘pag concrete, tumatagal naman nang more than 10 years,” said another taxi driver. It is all about money because there are millions in the roads, he added.
BCDEO explains that they use a machine, Highway Development Management (HDM-4) System, to examine the roads and they base potential and ongoing projects on the results of the database. The treatment of the road depends on the level of damage to the road. Some roads need only a concrete or asphalt overlay. Others must be reconstructed completely.
One of the projects of the BCDEO for 2012 is to rehabilitate the bus terminal on Governor Pack Road. To accomplish this, the bus terminal will have to be transferred temporarily to the vacant lot beside Baguio Convention Center. One taxi driver said that the space in that vacant lot is not enough to use as a bus terminal and as far as he knows, that lot is property of another government agency.
Despite the criticisms that DPWH, especially BCDEO, faces, they still receive positive feedback. For example, Ayra Batore Laguitao’s post in the previously mentioned Salamat DPWH Facebook page from August 21, 2011, says “Please know first d reason behind it.” In addition to this, a taxi driver praised the contractor of the Marcos Highway project for finishing earlier than expected. He added that Marcos Highway is better now than before.
Many of the citizen’s complaints should not be directed to DPWH-Baguio. The residents and drivers are at fault as well in assuming that the DPWH is simply not doing its job.
Right Project: The Road Construction Process
When the public hears ‘DPWH’, they immediately think of Photoshop and shame, incompetence, and most of all, inconvenience. For the people of Baguio especially, because of the simultaneous road constructions during the rainy season, 2011 was both challenging and frustrating, resulting in what may have been maximum inconvenience for the travelling public. This is a fact, but maybe it’s time we understand the process involved in road construction, and maybe it might result in lenience for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) if it happens again.
The DPWH operates on national roads only. To most of the public, as long as it is a road construction, DPWH is behind it. But actually, the local roads are handled by the local government, under the City Engineer’s Office, with a totally separate process and budget.
DPWH gets its budget from the Regular Infrastructure Fund, which is supposed to be released at the start of the year. Last year, the Baguio City District Engineer’s Office (BCDEO) received a lot of complaints concerning the simultaneous road constructions conducted by DPWH-Baguio. The road constructions that were most disruptive, being simultaneous and in close proximity to each other, were on Bokawkan Road, Ferguson Road, and Quezon Hill Road. Not only were the road constructions simultaneous in the busiest parts of the city, they started the road constructions in June, which is the start of classes, and also the start of the rainy season.
There were articles about the typhoons delaying the road constructions, but then why start the road constructions at a time that is known to be prone to strong rains and typhoons? For last year, the problem lies in the release of the budget. The DPWH budget for 2011 was released in March, instead of January. According to Baguio City District Engineer Ireneo Gallato, it takes up to two months to finish processing all the papers required to start the road constructions. It is easy to put the blame on the national level, but Gallato and his office acknowledge that they were at fault as well.
DPWH had 10 projects in Baguio City last year. They were two projects at Magsaysay Avenue, Quirino Highway, Major Mane Road, Outlook Drive, Ferguson Road, two projects at Loakan Road, Bokawkan Road, and Quezon Hill Road. They have all been completed by the end of last year. Compared to last year, the minimum inconvenience and speed with which the road constructions this year have been finished is commendable. DPWH has 18 projects in Baguio City for 2012. They are the roads along the stretch of Abanao Road, Kayang Street, Harrison Road 1, Governor Pack Road, Government Center Road, Leonard Wood Road, and Marcos Highway. By February, seven road projects have already been completed. What made the difference between this year and the last?
Road construction is not an easy job. It is a long process and is never appreciated by the travelling public while it is ongoing, sometimes even after. Aside from allocating budget, DPWH has to do a public bidding for the contractors, and once a contractor has won the bid, they need a month for implementation, which requires testing the road and processing the contract and other papers.
Road constructions this year started in January. Some of the ongoing projects have been delayed due to the Panagbenga Festival and the anticipation of graduation, but unlike last year, DPWH was very much prepared for 2012 because of so much negative feedback from the travelling public. As early as November 2011, they conducted detailed engineering pre-construction activities, where they identified the projects that have to be done for 2012. In December 2011, they had already finished the papers for pre-construction, advertisement, notice of award, and notice to proceed. So come January 2012, when the budget was released, they started immediately.
DPWH can also be commended for the informational boards that they have put up at the sites of ongoing and impending road constructions. Now, not only do the public know the budget for the road construction, they also know who the contractor is, where the road construction starts and ends and how long the project might take. Apparently, the road signs and traffic signals are part of the budget given to the contractors, so the public can make a formal complaint if the site lacks these.
So why do we only now notice the effort that DPWH is making? While the road constructions are ongoing, DPWH gets so much negative feedback, but after the roads are done, they get practically no praise. DPWH has done a lot for our city. It cannot be denied that they could have done so much better last year, but it is apparent that they quickly learned from that and recovered. For example, they anticipated how their projects would affect traffic, so they finished the smaller constructions before the Panagbenga Festival. All that’s left now are their projects in Governor Pack Road, Abanao Extension, Chanum Street, Kayang Extension, Kisad Road, A. Bonifacio Road, two projects in Quirino Highway, M. Roxas Road, PMA Cut-off Road 1, and PMA Road.
If DPWH-Baguio can do it fast and with less inconvenience, why did they not do it that way in the first place? There are other factors that affect their efficiency. Some of them are: they do not control the release of the budget, or sometimes the contractors have to re-bid because they cannot comply with the government’s requirements, or there might be some unforeseen complications like the soil eroding or a sewage breaking, or sometimes the problem lies with the contractors, like if they lack materials or manpower.
Speed and minimum inconvenience may have developed late on the part of DPWH-Baguio, but as the saying goes, it’s better late than later.
Right Cost: Budget Allocation
The concerned public often asks, “Where do our taxes go?” This is justified by the fact that funds for government projects are partly comprised of citizens’ taxes, and naturally, these citizens want reassurance that they will get their money’s worth. In the case of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), budget allocation is a matter given much serious consideration.
In the year 2011, the budget allotted to the DPWH amounted to Php 208 million. This year saw an increase of Php 3 million, bringing the total up to Php 211 million. The sum of money that the department receives yearly is based on a proposed amount from the central office of DPWH, but the amount given will not necessarily match the proposal. Ultimately, the decision comes down to whether as much as is being asked is actually needed, based on the gravity and number of projects the department will undertake and the inflation of costs of raw materials and equipment.
How, then, is the money actually spent? For each project of the DPWH, a contractor must commit and sign an official contract before beginning actual road work. Contractors are not randomly chosen but enjoined in a bidding process for the project. The DPWH aims for the lowest price of labor and materials without sacrificing the quality (especially for safety and longevity) of road work. Once bidding is finished, the project is awarded to the winning contractor and the manual labor can begin. In sum, pre-construction activities take only one month.
For the year 2012, Engineer Gallato said, “We are allowed to conduct a pre-detailed engineering … as long [as] naidentified na ang project …. Last 2011 … I think that was October, we started the detailed engineering of this project, and … by the end of December, almost all our projects, natapos na ang bidding. Ready for implementation. Hintayin lang namin ‘yong pagdating ng pondo, ‘tsaka namin inaward dahil hindi kami pwede magaward ng project sa contractor kung wala pa ‘yong pondo.”
In the interest of the public who will use these roads, the payment for the contractor is withheld until the project is completely finished. However, if there is a lack of materials, the contractor may ask for partial payment in order to continue working without interruption. Complete materials and equipment of good quality are also important to road quality, hence the allowance of partial advance.
Another scenario in which the payment might be docked is if the team does not finish the job on time. Because of the urgency of their task, they may be asked for liquidated damages if they exceed the deadline agreed upon. The amount deducted depends on the contract. This is also the protocol for any other shows of poor performance. Contractors must rectify unsatisfactory jobs at their own expense.
Once the project is completely done, the contractor is asked to submit an accomplishment report to the Department of Budget Management for billing. This must include the statement for work and other supporting documents. Given that there are no discrepancies or any kind of problem with the paperwork, the full payment will be released 20 to 25 working days after submission. Savings from DPWH projects are utilized for the continuation of still ongoing projects or starting of new ones.
It is not commonly known that the DPWH-BCDEO is responsible only for national roads. Hence, not all road constructions going on in the city are under their command. Their efforts and funds are dedicated only to national roads. Any construction on roads besides national roads is the work of local government: the City Engineering Office (CEO). Both offices manage road construction, but because of the differentiation, the budget of the DPWH-BCDEO is separate from that of the CEO. Each agency also has its own set of officials and, depending on its scope, its own projects.