Friday, July 3, 2015

Albay to give added perks to village health workers

LEGAZPI CITY, July 3 (PNA) -- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay on Wednesday approved a resolution that will provide incentives and benefits to qualified barangay health workers (BHWs) currently providing health services in the villages of the province.

Board Member Herbert S. Borja, committee on health chair and author of the ordinance entitled, “An Ordinance Granting Incentives and Benefits to All Qualified Entitled Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) Assisting in the Implementation of Health Services Program of the Provincial Government of Albay (PGA), Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes,” said it aims to recognize the service and importance of BHWs.

"It acknowledges the fact that as primary health care service providers, the BHWs are exposed to extreme health risks and hazards," Borja said.

With health as one of the top priorities of the PGA as mandated by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, this ordinance places great value on BHWs and recognizes that they rely largely on the meager honorarium that they receive and, thus, the need for conferring upon them provincial benefits and incentives on top of what they are already receiving, he said.

Qualified BHWs who are actively and regularly performing their duties shall be entitled to a cash incentive of not less than PHP1,000 given every December, prioritization to the Point-of-Care PhilHealth Program for non-PhilHealth members, trainings, education and career enrichment programs, a second grade civil service eligibility for BHWs who have rendered five years continuous service, and free legal services for cases of coercion, interference, and civil and criminal cases filed by or against them arising out of or in connection with the performance of their duties as such,

To avail of the incentives and benefits provided by the ordinance, BHWs in Albay should go to and register with the Provincial Health Office, with proof of registration from their respective local health board that they are registered BHWs.

To qualify and be issued a Certificate of Entitlement, a BHW must obtain and present a certification that he or she has actively performed his/her assigned tasks which shall be issued by the rural health midwife or the Punong Barangay where the concerned BHW is assigned or appointed and attach the same to his/her annual accomplish report to the PHO where it will be validated.(PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

SMC, Ayala, Metro Pacific eye Php177-B PNR south line rehab
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, July 2 (PNA) -- Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said giant firms San Miguel Corp., Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Corp. have indicated interest in the rehabilitation of the Php177-billion south line of the Philippine National Railways under a Public-Private Partnership scheme.

Called the PNR Modernization Program, the Php177-billion project will cover the rehabilitation of the 653-kilometer railway from Tutuban to Legazpi, then Sorsogon.

Salceda said he has been pushing for the PNR southbound rehabilitation that would give life again to the once Bicol pride but now idle Bicol Express route and that the Department of Transportation and Communication is ready to auction off the PNR railway project to interested bidders.

He said Ayala is eyeing partnership with Metro Pacific, adding he has also personally discussed the matter with SMC president Ramon S. Ang.

As chairman of the Regional Development Council, Salceda lamented that since Typhoon "Reming" struck in November 2006, the PNR south-bound travel to Legazpi City has yet to be realized due to damages in railroad tracks, surfacing from time to time, especially in the Quezon area, every time a typhoon occurs.

Certain Bicolano leaders, however, are contemplating on blocking the DOTC's plan to conduct the bidding process of the multibillion-peso PNR modernization project, describing it as a wasteful spending.

Known civic leader Melvin SJ Del Puerto of Naga City told senators during the recent Senate hearing conducted by the sub-committee D of the Senate committee on public services chaired by Senator JV Ejercito that the much-vaunted PNR modernization plan is only a waste of money, if not changed.

Del Puerto raised serious concern during Ejercito’s committee hearing that the PNR mega project will not bring significant long-term benefits, considering that the huge amount will not be used for modernization or acquisition of more modern high speed trains, which run on a Standard Gauge Railways (SGR), but only for repair and refurbishing of outdated and slow-moving trains, saying the latter are the only ones allowed to run on a SGR.

Invited by the Senate as a resource person, Del Puerto emphasized that the modernization must have the purpose of providing shorter travel time and durable, reliable train units.

PNR travel time from Manila to Naga City entails a minimum of 12 hours, and 15 to 17 hours to Legazpi, he told the Senate.

In an interview with Naga City-based Bicol Mail, Del Puerto explained that should the modernization shift to the SGR with modern and faster trains, travel time could be reduced by 50 percent.

And that should be the purpose of modernization, he said.

According to Del Puerto, present trains are running under the narrow gauge, only four units are deemed repairable for its long-haul service and will eat up so much funds for its periodic maintenance and repair, virtually considering them unfit and unreliable for the 653-kilometer Manila-Bicol run.

The Bicolano civic leader appealed to the DOTC and the National Economic Development Authority to hold in abeyance the bidding process for the Php177-billion modernization plan until his recommendations to consider the modern technology are included in the program.

Del Puerto lamented that of the Php177 billion, the Tutuban – Legazpi – Sorsogon route will get only around 30 percent of the Php52 billion; while the Tutuban – Calamba route, which will be elevated like the LRT and MRT, gets the biggest slice of Php125 billion. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD

Ligao City uses BUB fund in poor sector’s livelihood skills training
By Danny O. Calleja

LIGAO CITY, July 2 (PNA) –- This young Bicol city, growing fast in its agricultural productivity, has been acknowledged as among the few of local government units (LGUs) in the region using supplementary funds derived from the national government the more sensible way.

The acknowledgement came from the Depart ment of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office based in Legazpi City as it lauded the livelihood skills training program initiated by the city government to the benefit of poor families using the latest tranche of fund received through the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP).

The fund came from the DSWD under its GPBP-funded Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), a community-based capacity building initiative that seeks to improve the participants’ socio-economic status by way of preparing them for locally available jobs or facilitate opportunities for micro-enterprise development.

Formerly known as the Bottom Up Budgeting, the GPBP being applied by the Aquino administration is a somewhat modern approach to planning in the use of government’s financial resources that is different from the usual top-down budgeting where the high level executives make all the decisions in fund dispensations.

This scheme provides the opportunity for grantees to be involved in setting their own goals and expectations for a given financial period and gives them ownership of the decisions, motivating them to meet budgetary constraints that otherwise might seem unattainable or unrealistic if they were delivered by someone without as much understanding of their day-to-day operations.

The GPBP exercise was started in 2012 through the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster (HDPRC) and the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster (GGAC) as an strategy that hopes to empower civil society organizations and citizen’s groups to engage local government and national government agencies and make them more responsive to the people’s needs.

This city is among the 79 of the 120 LGUs in Bicol assured of Php45 million in extra funding for three years (2014-2016) for use in GPBP-driven initiatives such as projects which include agri-livelihood projects, farm-to-market roads, irrigation and other agri-infra facilities, among others.

These LGUs automatically qualified for the GPBP for having met the requirements, such as being the recipient of DILG’s Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) and implementation of Public Financial Management Improvement Plan (PFMIP) as determined by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Bicol for this year has been allocated by the DBM a total of Php1.7 billion in GPBP funds distributed for release to LGUs and other beneficiaries by 14 line agencies including the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Education (DepEd), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Energy (DOE), Health (DOH), Labor and Employment (DOLE), Transportation (DOT), DSWD and Trade and Industry (DTI).

The DILG, National Electrification Administration (NEA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) under the Local Government Support Fund (LGSF) also have their own separate shares of GBBP funds at their disposal to LGUs and other beneficiaries.

In acknowledging on Thursday the city’s no-nonsense use of the fund, DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia was referring to the recent completion by some 100 homegrown farmers of the first Farmers Field School (FFS) on Organic Vegetable production conducted in coordination with the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of the DA-Bicol.

According to Garcia, the project is exceptionally laudable since it ditches the old way of “hand-feeding” patronage and conforms with the Indian proverb—“give a man a fish and he lives for day, but teach a man to fish and he lives for life.”

Unlike most LGUs which use their GPBP allocations in infrastructures projects whose usefulness are only for a certain period of time, he said, Ligao City’s use of the fund in providing skills training and farming technology education is of lifetime worth for the individual beneficiaries as well as the community which would gain in term of food sufficiency from their enhanced longtime productivity.

FFS, as explained by City Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua, is a season-long or a 16-week hands-on learning process given by experts from the ATI wherein participants were made to undergo training and technology demonstrations that develop good farming practices options.

It is a system that focuses on technology transfer through a combination of lectures and actual field demonstrations on what have been previously discussed in the classroom and where farmers are given a chance to have new field experiences.

The training program also equip farmers with the technology as a measure to further increase local production as it includes pests and diseases prevention and land fertility and water management that would contribute immensely to a more efficient and improved plant growth to attain high yield.

Alsua said the new graduates are now equipped with modern organic farming technologies that certainly would boost their productivity for more profit at less production expenses since their learning is focused on vegetable farming sans the use of expensive fertilizer and pesticides.

On their graduation, the farmers were also given sets of gardening implements and seeds to start with their organic vegetable farming using the new techniques learned, she said.

Rep. Fernando Gonzalez -- who has been working closely with the national government in providing Albay’s third congressional district, which he represents, with wide opportunities for its farmers to produce and earn more through farm modernization -- also lauded the city government’s initiative, citing the importance of organic vegetable production.

The district covers this city and six other agricultural and coastal municipalities.

“While our district is the rice granary of Albay, it is also of utmost need that we produce more vegetable, especially organic to sustain local food sufficiency and contribute more to the country’s food security program of the administration of Pres. Aquino,” Gonzalez added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Farmers nominate Legazpi CAFC for Gawad Saka achievers award
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, July 2 (PNA) -- After winning the Regional Gawad Saka Award in April, the Legazpi City Agricultural and Fishery Council (CAFC) has been nominated by the city’s High Value Commercial Crop Farmers Association Inc. for the Gawad Saka National Achievers Award, City Agriculturist Jesus Kallos said in an interview on Thursday.

Gawad Saka is an annual recognition of the Department of Agriculture for the best practices of farmers and fishermen in their own respective areas.

Kallos said his office has already received the communication from the DA regional office regarding the evaluation of the performance and accomplishments of the CAFC to be conducted by the DA this coming Aug. 4-7 for the final national judging.

For the past two years, CAFC has performed a remarkable accomplishment that involves maintaining of nurseries of fruit-bearing and other trees.

It has also made resolutions and recommendations as part of paving the way for the issues and concerns to go directly to government agencies or other institutions for necessary action.

It further links with private sector and works as a volunteer for the development and progress of the city’s agricultural and fishing sector, Kallos said.

He said the CAFC serves as the monitoring arm of the city administration and the DA to make sure that all the services and other assistance from the national government in the agricultural sector are well implemented.

Legazpi City has been awarded by the DA and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and one of the recipients of the 2014 Gawad ng Pagrerehistro ng mga Mangingisda and Fishing Landing Award by ranking number 38 among the top municipalities and cities with most number of registered fisher folk in the national program.

The registration aims to put the fishermen in the right perspective and to identify the people in the community who are involved in the fishing industry.(PNA) CTB/FGS/EPS/CBD

Topnotch 42IB undergoes retraining to enhance capabilities
By John Mark Escandor

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur, July 2 (PNA) -- The 42nd Infantry (Tagapagtanggol) Battalion has started retraining of its personnel with opening ceremonies on Wednesday at the parade grounds of the 9th Infantry Division here.

The ceremony was graced by Maj. Gen. Yerson E. Depayso, 9ID commander, as the keynote speaker to formally welcome the brave and gallant warriors of the 42IB under the command of Lt. Col. Joselito P. Pastrana, battalion commander, according to Mardjorie Paimela Panesa, division spokesperson.

Tracing the humble beginning of 42IB, Panesa said, it was organized under the 2nd Infantry Division on March 2, 1977 pursuant to Section 1, General Order Number 77, Headquarters Philippine Army, dated March 9, 1977.

It was first deployed in the Quezon-Bicol Zone but before the end of year 1977, the battalion was redeployed in Davao del Sur where it operated in many provinces of Mindanao, confronting the southern Philippines’ secessionist groups.

When the battalion was recalled to Luzon on April 19, 1982, it was accorded with a Heroes’ Welcome at Headquarters Philippine Army, Fort Bonifacio, for its remarkable achievements.

In the same year, the unit was redeployed in Quezon-Bicol Zone.

On Dec. 29, 1991, the unit was transferred at Camp Busig-on, Barangay Tulay na Lupa, Labo, Camarines Norte, with the whole province of Camarines Norte and Sipocot, Camarines Sur as its area of operation.

In 2000, when the 9th Infantry Brigade (Separate) was activated, the battalion was placed under its operational control, with Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte as its area of operation.

In 2002, the 9th Infantry Division was activated with the entire Bicol Region as its area of responsibility and placed the battalion as one of its operating units under the 902nd Infantry Brigade.

The battalion was then relocated in Barangay Mabalodbalod, Tigaon, Camarines Sur.

Its area of operation covered Camarines Sur and Catanduanes.

In 2005, its area of operation was again realigned after the 65th Infantry Battalion assumed responsibility over Catanduanes province.

The 42IB was adjudged as the Best Battalion of the 9th Infantry Division and the Best in Civil-Military Operation in the entire Philippine Army for the year 2006.

The unit achieved numerous accomplishments and once again adjudged as the best battalion of 9ID for the third quarter of Calendar Year 2009.

It was also adjudged as the Top Four Battalions in the whole Philippine Army of 2010.

In 2012, the battalion was tasked to clear the 1st, 2nd and 5th Districts of Camarines Sur by way of Bayanihan Team Activities.

This year, the normalization of Camarines Sur was realized as manifested by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding declaring the province as Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development last May 25, 2015 between the Provincial Government Unit and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The 42IB will undergo two months of retraining in order to enhance its operational readiness, develop unit cohesion, fighting spirit and combat performance of the troops and improve core competencies and functional capabilities.

During the two-month retraining, the area of responsibility of the 42IB is temporarily taken over by the Task Group “Cam Sur” composed of one company from HHSBn, 91st Division Reconnaissance Company, 92nd CMO Coy and 92nd Division Reconnaissance Company which will be under the command of Col. Ferozaldo Paul T. Regencia as Task Group commander, concurrent to his designation as deputy brigade commander of 902nd Infantry Brigade.(PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD/

Legazpi bans fishing in 3-ha reef damaged by Vietnamese vessel

LEGAZPI CITY, July 2 (PNA) -- The City Government of Legazpi has declared the three-hectare Demson Reef, locally known as “Pulang Buya,” in Albay Gulf as off-limits to fishermen.

This marks the start of rehabilitation works on the 1,200-square-meter coral reef destroyed by a Vietnamese cargo vessel that ran aground last month at the city’s shallow reef, Jess Kallos, City Agriculture Office chief, said Thursday.

Kallos said the “no fishing” order is just temporary though it would deprive hundreds of fishermen of daily fish catch.

In an interview, he said the order will give their office sufficient time to conduct a careful study and plan out rehabilitation measures that would restore the damages wrought by the cargo vessel when it ran aground at the Pulang Buya's shallow reef, four kilometers from the city shorelines.

He said the Hoang Ang Shipping, the owner of the Ocean 3 -- a Vietnamese cargo vessel, has earlier paid PHP4-million to the city government as settlement for the damages it caused to the city’s coral reef.

The cargo vessel, with 4,532 gross tonnage and manned by 21 Vietnamese crewmen, was reportedly departing from the city port after unloading tons of imported rice from Vietnam when it ran aground and ravaged the city’s affected coral reef.

Kallos said the rehabilitation plan also includes an alternative livelihood program for hundreds of displaced fishermen that would not be allowed to catch fish at the three-hectare marine reserve.

He said there are at least 937 registered fishermen here affected by the “no fishing” order.

Meanwhile, City Mayor Noel Rosal directed the city agriculture office to draw up a comprehensive three-year program that will rehabilitate the coral reefs and provide alternative livelihood to the affected fisher folk.

Rosal also ordered the putting up of a permanent marker surrounding the three-hectare shallow reef to prevent sea vessels to cruise in this shallow waters of Albay Gulf.

Aside from the city “Bantay Dagat” patrol, the city will also employ additional men to patrol the marine reserve on a 24/7 basis. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD