Monday, December 5, 2016

Bicol police exec: Shabu lab in Catanduanes can process 100 kgs of shabu per cycle

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- A top police official in Bicol, who inspected the clandestine shabu laboratory in Virac, Catanduanes after it was raided by a combined team of antinarcotics lawmen last Saturday, said the facility could produce around 100 kilograms of "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) per cycle.

“The shabu laboratory was discovered five months since 71 bulks of shabu with an estimated street value of P2.13 million was recovered by the police in Barangay Balangonan in Pandan, Catanduanes,” said Bicol Police Director Ramon Melvin Buenafe, in an interview Tuesday.

He said the shabu facility raided on Saturday was inside a warehouse located in Barangay Palta Small in Virac town.

Buenafe said the warehouse, that used to manufacture plastic, is on a 400-square-meter lot owned by Angelica Balmadrid and leased in March this year to Jayson Gonzales Uy, a Taiwanese national.

“It is equipped with closed circuit television cameras,” he said.

Benafe said the raiding team found a hydrogenator, weighing scale, various glasswares, motorized mixing apparatus and chemicals believed to be ingredients in producing shabu.

He said the getaway vehicle of Uy, who fled after the Saturday incident, has been recovered after it was abandoned at Caramoran town, also in Catanduanes.

Buenafe said the warehouse caretaker, a certain Laurence Perenia, is now undergoing investigation and police are preparing to file charges against him.

He said an anti-illegal drug alliance in the province called “Kasurog Kontra Droga” has helped discover the shabu laboratory.

Buenafe thanked those who provided information so the police could organize a team that conducted the operation.

Meanwhile, Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua and Virac town Mayor Samuel Laynes denied allegations linking them to illegal drug operations in the island province.

Cua said election propaganda has been linking his name to illegal drugs since the 2004 elections.

"I was really surprised about this because Catanduanes is just a small area for a shabu laboratory," he said.

Cua said it is his first time to hear the name of Uy, lessee of the property where the shabu facility was found.

The governor, whose business has expanded from San Andres town to Virac over 20 years ago, said the truth will come out once Uy is arrested.

"I'm glad this was discovered so we will know who is really involved in illegal drugs in Catanduanes," said Cua who was elected governor during the last May elections. He replaced Araceli Wong as governor but prior to Wong’s term, Cua was also governor from 2010 to 2013.

On the other hand, Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes said the shabu laboratory was already constructed even before he became the town mayor.

"I don't know why my name is being linked to the shabu laboratory," he said.

Laynes added he was part of the team which secured the area when it was inspected by Buenafe.

Police data showed more than 600 drug personalities have surrendered in Virac since Oplan Tokhang was launched in July.

Laynes said the illegal drug campaign has covered all the 62 barangays in the provincial capital of Virac.

"We are proud to say that we have conducted an intense and saturated campaign against illegal drugs in Virac," he said Leynes, formerly the general manager of Catanduanes Electric Cooperative before becoming Virac mayor.

He said there were more than 600 drug surrenderees in Virac since Oplan Tokhang was launched July 1 this year.

The team which inspected the shabu laboratory was headed by Buenafe and included Supt. Alex Pederio of Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group, Chief Insp. Edgar Moraleda of Catanduanes Public Safety Company and Catanduanes Provincial Police Office headed by Chief Insp. James Ronatay Balmadrid, the lot owner and Laynes joined the inspection team. (PNA) LAP/GVR/ALAN TAN/EDS

DSWD-Bicol provides shelter units to Bicol’s oldest tribe

LABO, Camarines Norte, Nov. 28 (PNA) -- The Kabihug tribe, the oldest surviving tribal group in the Bicol region, no longer dwells under the trees, especially during bad weather conditions, after housing units were constructed for them through a core shelter assistance program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol.

Arnel B. Garcia, DSWD Bicol director, said to date, 70 shelter units have been built through the agency’s Core Shelter Assistance Project (CSAP) that has received support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

He said since the project started in 2009, 23 shelter units out of the 70 core units have been given to Kabihug families so they could cope with extreme weather events brought by climate change.

The Kabihugs, also known as Agtas, who live in the highlands of Camarines Norte, are of pre-colonial origin whose culture has been preserved through the ages.

Kabihug literally means “friend,” a cultural minority who subsists on root crops, rice and vegetables that they grow in their farms.

“Rice is often hard to come by and is readily substituted with a root crop called “dogma,” said Garcia.

He said the Agtas thrive on fishing and catching crabs, copra making, charcoal making and gold mining.

Garcia said the tribal group is known to seek refuge under big trees during heavy rains that makes their lives miserable and devoid of dignity.

“They sleep in improvised beds while taking shelter in makeshift dwellings framed in wood and roped with leaves with the hard ground as flooring,” he said.

Garcia said because of their isolation, the Kabihug tribe members have lost their network of ties with families and kin that used to provide members with assistance, privileges and protection.

“The Kabihugs, who have their own history of contact with society, wanted to be placed somewhere on a spectrum from ‘isolation to acculturation,’” he said.

Garcia said to improve the living conditions of the Kabihug tribe in Camarines Norte, DSWD-Bicol, the provincial government and the municipal government of Labo, started implementing CSAP that initially benefited five Kabihug families in 2009.

He said the project aimed to provide indigenous families with decent dwellings they could call their own.

In fact, there were 18 Kabihug families who have signified their intention to avail of the program and be relocated to a permanent site,” Garcia said.

In 2010, UNDP linked arms with DSWD to construct another 65 core shelter units, 18 of which were allotted to the 18 Kabihug families.

Garcia said the tribal folks later realized there was more that could be derived from the project’s implementation.

Lorelie Villanueva, municipal social welfare officer of Labo town, helped organize the CSAP beneficiaries into the Neighborhood Association for Shelter Assistance or NASA.

Garcia said the beneficiaries, who were actively involved in the project’s implementation, worked collectively so they could an realize their dream of having a home they could call their own.

Doris Candule, one of the Kabihug recipients, said the house given to her family has been of big help as they will no longer move from one place to another, particularly during bad weather conditions.

“There will be no more sleepless night for us during typhoons and heavy downpour,” she said.

Garcia said following the assistance given by the government and UNDP, the Kabihug tribe is now closely working with other local communities and sharing their knowledge in community building.

He said some tribe members are now employed in the Guisican Multi-purpose Cooperative that engages them in the planting of fruit bearing trees for P250 a day.

Garcia said tribe members were also provided with disaster preparedness training and given orientation on an early warning system for different calamities.

“These trainings are helpful to them especially that they travel from one place to another,” he said.

Garcia said DSWD has provided them with around a hundred battery operated transistor radios as requested by their tribal chieftain, who said they need these as source of information, especially when there are weather disturbances.

He said that while transistor radios serve as a means for information dissemination, 70 percent of the tribe’s members have their own mobile phones. (PNA) LAP/GVR/RHAYDZ BARCIA/EDS

PNP official says Catanduanes 'mega shabu lab' could be the biggest, most upscale raided since July
By Jorge Hallare

VIRAC, Catanduanes, Nov. 30 (PNA) -- A high ranking official of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) anti-illegal drugs group making an inventory of the "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) laboratory found in Virac, Catanduanes said it could probably be the biggest such facility discovered since the start of the government's anti-illegal drug campaign in the country in July.

Senior Supt. Bert Ferro, director of PNP’s Anti Illegal Drugs Group, said the facility operating inside a warehouse in Barangay Palta Small, Virac is a “mega-sized” shabu laboratory because it can produce up to 9.6 tons of shabu a month.

Ferro’s team is now on its fourth day of inventory of the equipment and chemicals found inside the warehouse since the raid on Saturday by a combined team of anti-narcotics lawmen.

“This is bigger than the clandestine shabu laboratory we have found and raided in Cauayan town in Isabela months ago wherein only two hydrogenators were recovered by PNP operatives," he said.

Ferro said the shabu lab in Virac is more upscale than any other laboratory because of the type of apparatus and equipment found that uses two systems in manufacturing shabu.

He said the Virac facility simultaneously uses the “Rigai” and hydrogenator systems in manufacturing the illegal drugs.

“The Rigai system uses heat while hydrogenator uses water in manufacturing shabu,” said Ferro.

He said they found six hydrogenators in Virac, each of which can produce around 1.2 tons per cycle or weekly so that the six machines can produce an estimated 9.6 tons of shabu per month.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Bicol Director Ronald Ricardo, also said the Virac facility is the “biggest” they have found since July.

He said PDEA suspects the laboratory has already produced a big amount of shabu before it was discovered.

Ricardo admitted that even before the search warrant was served on the facility, they had been receiving some intelligence reports regarding Jayson Gonzales Uy, lessee of the 400-square property where the warehouse is located, but they have not found any evidence to link him in the illegal drug trade in Catanduanes until last November 26.

Chief Inspector Josephine Clemens, crime forensic chemist of the Scene of the Crime Operatives in Catanduanes, said they found six big plastic drums with around 360 kilograms of precursor or ephedrine which is the primary ingredient in manufacturing shabu.

She said the equipment and chemicals found in Virac's shabu laboratory are all major requirements in producing illegal drugs.

Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) Director Melvin Ramon Buenafe said they expect another week to be able to finish their inventory of the big volume of chemicals and large number of equipment found in the facility.

He said after the inventory, they will start an exhaustive investigation on those involved in the operation of the shabu laboratory.

Buenafe added that Laurence Perenia, caretaker of the shabu lab, has been charged with violation of Republic Act 9165 or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

He said PRO5 operatives have been sent to track down the whereabouts of Uy and a certain Pascual Uy, the suspected operators of the shabu lab, after they eluded arrest during Saturday’s raid.

Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes, in an interview, admitted that the discovery of the shabu lab in his town was a shock to him and the town’s residents.

He said they are saddened about the discovery of the drug laboratory in their town.

"This is a very big issue against us but I remain steadfast in my campaign and duty to cleanse our town against illegal drugs, petty crimes and other social problems,” said Laynes.

He urged the people to remain calm and avoid speculations but maintained a strong support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign “to make the nation safe for all people at any time and day in any street and place." (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/EDS

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cagsawa Ruins joins 'Orange you Icon' campaign to end violence vs women

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 23 (PNA) -- Cagsawa Ruins park in Barangay Busay, Daraga, Albay will glow with the orange color on November 25 as it becomes part of Department of Tourism (DOT)-Bicol and Philippine Commission on Women’s (PCW) launch of “Orange your Icons” campaign to end “Violence Against Women” or VAW.

"Orange is a bright color that will create awareness among the public on the advocacy,” said Maria Salee Mora, DOT-Bicol tourism officer.

She said Cagsawa park like other tourism sites, landmarks and icons in every region in the country will simultaneously shine with the orange color on Nov. 25.

Mora said these tourist attractions that are rich in history and culture, will be illuminated by the orange color for 18 days, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 12, to generate public interest in the VAW campaign.

She said every year, PCW has a partner agency for the campaign which is in solidarity with the United Nations’ “Unite to end VAW campaign.”

Mora said this year, DOT has joined the collective effort to pursue the vision of a VAW-free community.

PCW, in its website, noted that even as the tourism industry has created economic opportunities for women, who make up between 60 to 70 percent of all workers in the tourism industry in the world, they have become victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking that form of the larger social issue referred to as VAW.

Mora said DOT expects from 500 to 800 participants from the academe, local government units, non-government organizations and national government agencies who will join the ceremonial lighting of the Cagsawa ruins park on the evening of Nov. 25.

She said Tourism Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez is expected to lead the ceremonial lighting along with the directors of government line agencies in Bicol and the mayors of Legazpi City, host municipality of Daraga and Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JORGE HALLARE/EDS

Member of notorious Concepcion crime group killed in Libon, Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- A member of the notorious Concepcion criminal group was killed, another member of the group was captured while a policeman was injured in a firefight that ensued when a combined group of operatives swooped down on a house, that is said to be the safehouse of the group, in a remote village in Libon, Albay Monday evening, an Albay police official said today.

Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, head of the investigation division and information officer of Albay Provincial Police Office, said the lawmen were to issue a warrant of arrest against Gilbert Concepcion, head of the crime group, at a house in Barangay Nogpo, Libon at 10 p.m.

“But before reaching the targeted house in Nogpo a group of gunmen, who were having a drinking spree, fired upon the operatives and a four-minute firefight ensued,” said Gomez.

Slain in the gun battle was Jose Delos Reyes, 50, tagged as a member of the criminal gang, while Alfredo Mata, another member of the group, was captured during the firefight and now facing charges of illegal possession of firearm

Wounded in the gunfight was PO2 Manolo Nierva of the 5th Regional Public Safety Batallion (RPSB). He suffered a gunshot wound in his right arm and is now undergoing treatment at a hospital in Albay.

Gomez said four other other men were held for questioning at the Libon Municipal Police Office.

He said the combined team of 30 operatives, who conducted the raid in Barangay Nogpo, were from the 5th RPSB, Albay Provincial Public Safety Company, Provincial Intelligence Branch and Libon Municipal Police Office.

Gomez said Gilbert Concepcion has standing warrants of arrest for seven cases of rape and murder from different regional trial courts, including the murder case of former Makati City engineer Nelson Morales.

The operatives are still conducting hot pursuit operationS against the gang members in the hinterlands of Libon town. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/JORGE HALLARE/EDS

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Legazpi City’s high quality slaughterhouse to become operational in January

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- The rehabilitation and improvement of the city slaughterhouse is now nearly 70 percent complete and the facility is expected to become operational by January next year, Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal said.

He said the project aims to make the existing slaughterhouse meet the “Double AA” standard required by the National Meat Inspection Services (NMIS).

“If the civil works of the project reaches 75 percent we will ask the Commission on Audit (COA) in this city to issue a certification as a proof of accomplishment to be submitted to the COA national office, said Rosal in an interview.

He said the city government has earmarked Php17 million for the civil works of the abattoir project while the Department of Agriculture will give Php 5 million to the city administration as its counterpart fund after completion of the project as stated in a memorandum of agreement between the two parties.

Rosal said the project will have a water treatment facility for the proper disposal of waste materials from the abattoir to prevent contaminating water in the surroundings.

Dr. Nancy Andes, head of the City Veterinary Office (CVO), who will handle operations of the abattoir, said the double AA slaughterhouse is expected to generate income of around Php 10 million yearly for the city.

She said it will also serve neighboring towns and big establishments in the city which will need its services such as Robinsons, Metro Gaisano, LCC Ayala Malls and other establishments selling meat to the public.

Andes said the slaughterhouse will ensure disease-free meat because of regular inspection services to be conducted by CVO and NMIS.

These services include “ante mortem” or inspection of the live animal before its slaughter, “post mortem” or inspection on animals slaughtered and “post abattoir” or inspection to be done at marketplaces, groceries and barangay meat vendors’ stalls.

Andes said CVO now has two butchers ready to be trained by NMIS on the operations of the double AA slaughterhouse.

Two resolutions, that were adopted by the City Legislative Council during its regular session on Jan. 26 and signed by Mayor Rosal on February 3, had helped make the slaughterhouse project possible. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EMMANUEL P. SOLIS/EDS