Friday, November 21, 2014

PNP vows to eradicate crime gangs in Masbate
By Norman B. Tamar

AROROY, Masbate, Nov. 20 (PNA) -– The Philippine National Police (PNP) Masbate provincial office on Thursday vowed to eradicate crime gangs in the province.

This, after joint operatives of the Aroroy Municipal Police Office, Masbate Provincial Public Safety Company and Masbate Provincial Intelligence Section raided the hideout of a notorious gang in this town at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Supt. Carl Michael Car Reyes, PNP-Masbate provincial director, said the police operatives were armed with Search Warrant No. 2014-81 and coordinated with the local barangay officials.

He said the gang members engaged the raiding team in a fire exchange.

Reyes said that when the raiding operatives were about to enter the premises, they heard gunshots coming from inside the house, which were allegedly fired by more or less five gang members.

He said the group escaped in confusion and spread to the hinterlands in the boundary of Barangay Malubi and Barangay Pangle of this town after its members noticed that they were outnumbered by police forces.

No casualty was reported on the side of the raiding team while an undetermined number of casualties was noted on the gang's side.

The authorities recovered fired cartridges and slugs and one steel magazine of .45-caliber pistol loaded with seven live ammunition.

The suspected gang leader was identified in the search warrant as Richard Amican alias Toto.

Police record showed Amican was the alleged leader of the Arcavado-Amican group involved in a robbery-holdup and killing incidents in Aroroy town and neighboring municipalities, Reyes said.

He warned people involved in criminal activities that they are in close watch of them and that would they soon fall in the hands of authorities.

“Our message to people involved in criminal gangs is that we will use everything we can to stop their activity,” Reyes said.

The police official added that the intensified focused police operations against groups engaged in criminal activities in the province form part of their relentless campaign to control and eradicate crime. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NBT/CBD/EDS

DENR-Bicol orders crackdown on fishponds encroaching on protected sites
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) -– The regional office for Bicol of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered a region-wide crackdown on fishponds that illegally encroach on protected foreshore sites.

“We are now in the process of establishing that several fishponds across the region have been constructed within swamplands and mangrove forests which have not been released by the DENR for such purpose, hence, considered illegal,” DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales on Thursday said.

The process is being done through field inspections, inventory and verification of Special Land Use Permits (SLUPs) covering such commercial structures which when found illegal, will be immediately dismantled, Gonzales said.

SLUP is a privilege granted by the government to a person to occupy, possess and manage in consideration of specified return, any public forest lands for a specific use or purpose.

Certainly, there are some and DENR is applying due process so that the crackdown on this illegal use of protected areas is implemented with diligence, the DENR official stressed.

Initially, the process is now in progress in the island province of Catanduanes where at least eight fishponds in Panganiban and Viga towns have been reportedly developed and operating illegally for either encroaching on swamplands, mangrove forests and timberlands or entirely within the same prohibited sites.

Mangrove forests and swamplands are government protected areas because they serve as spawning ground of marine life and developing the same for fishpond use destroys such habitat and compromises the existing ecosystem.

These eight fishponds in two Catanduanes towns have already been evaluated by a special task force and were said to be developed decades back have pending applications for SLUPs with the DENR, Gonzales said.

There have been at least 18 SLUP applications for aqua-silvi projects filed with the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the DENR in Catanduanes as early as the middle of 1970s, some of them covering these illegal fishponds but only one has so far been approved but has already expired about six years ago.

The task force, however, has recommended that such applications be denied and its operators have already been advised to desist from introducing more improvements or from expanding their fishpond to give way to the restoration of the mangrove forests and rehabilitation of the swamplands that were illegally converted to fishponds, he said.

The rehabilitation and restoration process will first involve the dismantling of the illegally constructed structures, then the on-site forest management to protect, develop and conserve the mangrove forests and swamplands through arrangements with concerned local government units (LGUs) and other agencies.

Filing of appropriate criminal complaints against the fishpond operators and other persons directly involved in the construction that resulted in destruction of mangrove forests and swamplands in violation of forestry laws has also been recommended and being considered by his office, Gonzales said.

“After Catanduanes, we are going around all the other five Bicol provinces—Masbate, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon and Albay -- for the purpose of clearing out our protected coastal areas of illegal fishponds and other installations,” he said.

As soon as these illegal structures are demolished, the DENR and all other public and private agencies concerned with environmental protection and conservation, including LGUs, will follow up with restoration and rehabilitation aimed at reducing the vulnerability of coastal communities from the impact of climate change, among other purposes, the DENR regional chief said.

The climate change era makes it high time for everyone in Bicol to insist on the development of various ecosystems within the region so that its resistance to natural calamities -- like typhoon, flood, landslide, tsunami, earthquake and volcanic eruptions -- is enhanced, he added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS

NPA rebels execute 2 farmers on suspicion of being military assets

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) -- New People's Army (NPA) rebels executed two farmers in separate incidents on Thursday morning in Barangay Tobgon, Oas, Albay, and Barangay Calmayon, Juban, Sorsogon, on suspicion that they were military and police assets.

A police report identified the first victim as Domingo Ranola, 44 and resident of Sitio Guinimbalan, Barangay Tobgon, Oas.

The report said Ranola’s body was found peppered with bullets from an M-16 armalite rifle at about 5 a.m.

Police found a piece of paper on his body with the following inscription "Domingo Ranola kaso informer ng militar, huwag tularan (Domingo Ranola -- case: military informer; don’t emulate).”

The rebels abducted him from his residence at 4 p.m. last Nov. 15 and since then was not heard of.

The other farmer was identified as Emilio Oplida, 41 and resident of Barangay Calmayon, Juban, Sorsogon.

Sorsogon, who was shot dead by rebels at about 9 a.m.

The police report said Oplida was going to his friend’s house when the armed rebels suddenly appeared and shot him on the head and body.

The report quoted Oplida’s brother, Joel, as saying that last month, a certain Ka Jack, a known NPA member in the area, came and accused the victim as a police and military asset.

It added that on June 4, eight rebels died in a military and police operation in the house of the victim. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD/EDS

Modest Catanduanes town is Bicol’s bet in DSWD’s Gawad Listahanan national contest
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) – Pandan, a small and remote town in the island-province of Catanduanes, will represent Bicol as the region’s bet in the first Data Utilization National Awards of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The Awards, also called the Gawad Listahanan, will be given to local government units (LGUs) that have registered the most number of beneficiaries for their locally-funded programs based on the database of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

NHTS-PR, also called the Listahanan, is the country’s database of poor households being made available to stakeholders as reference in identifying potential beneficiaries of social protection programs.

The Listahanan database was put in place following a nationwide assessment conducted by the DSWD in 2009, which resulted in the identification of 5.2 million poor households out of the 10.9 million households covered.

That database then was made available only to national government agencies (NGAs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) involved in social protection activities—but in 2011, DSWD started sharing it to LGUs.

To date, it has registered 1,047 users, 935 of which are LGUs.

And with a new database to be generated through the second round of nationwide assessment starting before the end of this year and after almost four years of sharing the first one for use by LGUs, DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman declared that “it is timely for the project to give awards and recognition to those that have maximized its use” -- thus, the Gawad Listahanan.

Arnel Garcia, DSWD’s regional director for Bicol, on Thursday said that although the department plans to expand award eligibility to NGOs and its other stakeholders in the future to promote the convergence of all in effectively addressing the different aspects of poverty, the first Gawad Listahanan will focus solely on LGUs – provincial, city and municipal.

“We want first to acknowledge the efforts of our LGU- data users for providing services and assistance to the Listahanan-identified poor families,” Garcia said.

The search for the awards started in the regional level in the middle of this year and ended last Oct. 15 with three qualifiers—the municipalities of Presentation, Camarines Sur; Sto. Domingo, Albay; and Pandan,Catanduanes.

Following a series of evaluations based on submitted requirements identifying active social protection projects and programs benefiting the Listahanan-identified poor, Garcia said Pandan bested the two other towns to be chosen as Bicol’s entry to the national-level competition.

Garcia said Pandan implemented various programs such as Aid to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) which provides burial, medical, transportation, food and educational assistance wherein the municipal government allocated Php1 million for this purpose, giving priority to the Listahanan-identified poor.

The LGU also introduced Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) to address the livelihood needs of the poor through the provision of skills training on soft broom making, dressmaking, hairdressing and cosmetology for out-of-school and in-school youth.

Aside from SLP, a 120-day supplemental feeding for 676 children of pre-school ages was also implemented through a DSWD-funded program wherein the Pandan-LGU provided a counterpart-manpower of 27 day care workers.

This supplemental feeding program has raised the awareness, attention and involvement of parents who also availed the Parents Effectiveness Program (PEP)--a project that advocates effective and responsible parenthood.

The Pandan Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) has also been noted to give importance on serving the elderly and persons with disabilities in which 99 indigent senior citizens, 77 years old and above, benefited from the government’s Social Pension Program.

Likewise, the Pandan LGU initiated disaster preparedness training for natural calamity-prone areas where most of its affected households are included in Listahanan, according to Garcia.

The municipality that is bounded on the north by the Pacific Ocean and by Maqueda Channel on the west lies on the northern tip of Catanduanes province, 96 kilometers from the capital town of Virac.

It is a small, sleepy town of about 18,000 friendly, hospitable, peace-loving and happy people occupying 26 barangays.

During special family occasions and celebrations done through food serving, tuba (coconut wine) drinking and pantomina dancing (a long-cherished native Bicolano dance), immediate neighbors are invited, bringing along all the members of the family.

For the people of Pandan, everyone in the community is a brother, a sister and a friend.

Each one cares for each other -- an attribute that makes the LGU more concerned over the plight of its poor, according to its mayor, Joseph Al Randie Wong.

“We use Listahanan as the database for the implementation of various programs, projects and activities to provide social protection accurately and correctly for a comprehensive, complete, substantial, and honest public service. Listahanan is indeed very useful to local government units,” he said.

Garcia said his office had already submitted Pandan as Bicol’s official entry to the national Gawad Listahan Awards for the final screening and review of all entries from all the 17 regions of the country in accordance with the award guidelines.

The national awarding will be done during the DSWD anniversary in January next year and winners for each category (municipal, city, provincial) will receive a plaque and a cash incentive of at least Php50,000, which will be provided based on a project proposal promoting Listahanan, the DSWD regional chief added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

400 women attend 4th Buntis Congress
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 18 (PNA) -- More than 400 pregnant women in this city participated in the 4th Buntis Congress on Tuesday at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation.

The whole-day activity, which has for its theme “Mga Buntis Alagaan, Kalusugan ni Baby Agapan,” was spearheaded by the City Health Office in partnership with the Luzon Health, a non-government organization.

The Buntis Congress is a yearly activity of the CHO to inform and educate pregnant women on how to properly manage their safe pregnancies in order to prevent pre-mature delivery of babies and maternal death cases and to guide them into the right way of caring their babies.

City health officer Fulbert Alec Gillego said his office will continue to conduct an educational campaign, nutrition counseling, maternal and health care and other health-related services to make sure that both the health of mothers and babies are always in good condition.

Gillego said he will continue to conduct nutrition education to all the mothers to promote the proper way of breastfeeding process and to teach them responsible parenthood in order to reduce malnutrition cases in the community.

He told participants in the congress that all PhilHealth cardholders, members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and pregnant women sponsored by the Local Government Unit of Legazpi and the Province of Albay are free to avail of the maternal health care services in the three lying-in clinics of Legazpi located at Barangay Buyoan at the northern part, Barangay Banquerohan in the southern area and in the main building of the CHO.

The CHO head pointed out that these three birthing homes of Legazpi are operating 24/7 and being managed by professional doctors, midwives, nurses and other medical personnel.

From the start of the operation in 2009 until the present, these three clinics have zero-casualty record in maternal delivery.

In 2009, the CHO posted 81 maternal deliveries; 211 recorded in 2010; followed by 574 in 2011.

It rose to 848 in 2012 while in 2013, the record was 818.

In the first half of 2014, these clinics posted 305 maternal deliveries.

Gillego disclosed that the city also has an ongoing construction of another lying-in clinic in Barangay Taysan and expects to finish it before year end.

Another lying-in clinic will be put up in Barangay Dapdap next year.

These two additional clinics will serve as additional venues for health care and other medical services to all pregnant mothers in this city, he added.

Gillego said all the pregnant mothers are required to have at least four check-ups before the date of their maternal delivery and urged them to always visit the clinics for their regular checkup for for possible illnesses and advice for safe delivery of babies. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EPS/CBD/

Mayon deflates but intensity I crater glow seen anew -- Phivolcs

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 18 (PNA) -- Mayon Volcano has deflated but the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) can not downgrade the alert level of the volcano from 3 to level 2 despite deflation recorded, a scientist said.

Alex Baloloy, Phivolcs volcanologist based at the Lignon Hill observatory station here, said the data from the latest ground deformation survey on Nov. 9-13 indicated a deflation of 6.52 millimeters at Buang Junction leading to the Mayon Rest House in Tabaco City that would be reduced from 15.71-mm (cumulative) inflation last Oct. 15 while 0.69-mm inflation has been recorded at Lidong, Sto Domingo Observatory that will be added to the 4-mm (cumulative) inflation.

On Monday night, an intensity I crater glow was again seen in the volcano.

Paul Karson Alanis, Phivolcs science research specialist, said this dim crater glow can only be seen through telescope, which means the magma is extruding from the crater of the volcano.

He said that since Aug. 15, after the volcano was raised to alert level 2, there was magma already near the crater; now this crater glow means magma has extruded at the surface.

On Nov. 5, intensity I crater glow was also seen.

Eduardo Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist at the Ligñon Hill Observatory, said that since Oct. 19, after the 300-meter to 400-meter viscous lava flow, the volcano has become quiet.

In its bulletin released Tuesday, the Phivolcs detected only two volcanic earthquakes during the past 24 hours.

On Nov. 4, Albay Governor Joey Salceda ordered the decampment of 10,797 families or 43,274 individuals while 2,874 families or 13,365 people who are living within the six-km-radius permanent danger zone remained in evacuation centers.

The volcano remains at Alert Level 3 or in state of unrest due to the movement of potentially eruptible magma.(PNA) FFC/FGS/AMM/CBD