Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Catanduanes gets Php2B from 2015 national budget

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 26 (PNA) -– Like the third congressional district of Albay, the lone district of Catanduanes has also been allotted over Php2 billion for development programs and projects under this year’s national budget.

In a statement reaching here Monday, Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento said the national budget provided by the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) approved by Congress and signed by Pres. Benigno Aquino III last year is Php2.6 trillion and Php1.2 billion of this will go to public works or infrastructure projects.

Of this national allocation for infrastructures assigned to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Sarmiento said around Php1.3 billion will go to the province for the concreting of still-unpaved sections of the Catanduanes Circumferential Road (CCR) worth Php415.4 million.

The other part of the allocation worth Php408 million is for the improvement of the CCR sections within the municipalities of Virac, San Andres, Baras, Gigmoto, Viga, San Miguel, Bato and Panganiban, he said.

The entire CCR Improvement Project is worth P2.6 billion and is being pursued by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III and managed by the DPWH in a joint venture with Nippon Engineering Consultants Co. Ltd., Egis International and Renardet S.A. Consulting Engineers, with Katahira and Engineers International as the lead firm.

It is funded under the Road Upgrading and Preservation Project being undertaken by the Philippine government with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency.

It covers a 290-kilometer primary and secondary road network that traverses the entire island of Catanduanes.

The project was started in the early parts of year 2000 but works on its first phase, which covered almost half of the whole stretch, was stalled when left unfinished by its Chinese contractor.

The project was revived by the Aquino administration under the mandate given by the President to the DPWH to make concrete all the primary roads in the country’s growth areas by 2015 and all secondary roads by 2016.

The island province of Catanduanes, which sits on the Pacific Ocean separated by Maqueda Bay from the Bicol mainland, is considered as an ecotourism industry growth area owing to its vibrant ecological resources and exotic coastal waters and beaches being frequented by water sports enthusiasts.

The island is also the country’s leading producer of abaca fiber that is highly in demand both in the domestic and international markets.

Sarmiento said the DPWH, under the 2015 GAA, was also given some Php180 million for the construction and/or rehabilitation of seven bridges in Caramoran and Viga towns.

Other parts of the Php2-billion Catanduanes congressional district fund have been earmarked for the concreting of roads covering the tourism corridor in Virac town, the provincial capital and for the asphalt overlay of the Virac Domestic Airport worth Php132 million, whose implementation is assigned to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

An amount of Php60 million was also provided for the development of the Codon Port in San Andres town amounting to Php40 million and the establishment of fish ports in Bato and Gigmoto towns for the amount of Php10 million each -- whose implementations are also tasked to the DOTC, according to Sarmiento.

The same total allocation also provides an amount of Php177.5 million to local infrastructure program—Php76.5 million of which will be used in the construction of public buildings including barangay halls; Php66 million for farm-to-market roads; Php22 million for classrooms and school buildings; and Php13 million for potable water systems, he said.

Moreover, under the same budget, a total amount of Php 137.5 million has been provided for the Government Participatory Budgeting Program of the Department of Interior and Local Government which will be distributed among the 11 municipalities of the province with each allotted Php12.5 million, according to Sarmiento. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Albay to host 7th Xterra Philippines Triathlon on Feb. 8
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 26 (PNA) -- The Province of Albay will host the seventh Xterra Philippines Triathlon on Feb. 8 as part of the 3rd Cagsawa Festival in nearby Daraga town.

Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said the big sports event has been organized by the provincial government and the Sunrise Event of Wilfred Uytengsu Jr.

Salceda said the Xterra Philippines Triathlon is an annual festival that will help a lot in boosting tourism not only in Daraga town but also in the entire province.

He stressed that the Feb. 8 activity will serve as a qualifying event for the Xterra World Championships to be held in Maui, Hawaii, in November this year.

The sports competition will highlight the 200-year cultural heritage of the historical world-renowned Cagsawa Ruins.

The Xterra Triathlon will bring its participants to the beautiful and interesting tourist spots in Albay province like the Swim Course in Mayon Riviera in Barangay Lidong, Sto. Domingo town.

There will be a trail bike at run in Lidong village which will end at Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga.

Salceda said about 246 athletes have already registered for the competition, 80 of whom are foreign, which will also be participated in by well-known movie and political personalities of the country.

Current champion Renata Bucher of Switzerland will lead the competitors like veterans Ben Allen, BradleyWeiss, Joseph Miller, Jacqui Slack, Charlie Epperson, Fabrizio Bartoli, Mauricio Mendez, Daz Parker, Carina Wagle, Mieko Carey, Dimity Lee Duke and Flora Duffy.

The provincial chief executive has also assured the participation of Senator Pia Cayetano, a known Triathlete Pro, as well as local celebrities Ryan Agoncillo, Matteo Guideceli, Christine Torres and others.

The Provincial Government of Albay and the Sunrise Event have a scheduled a press conference at the Albay Astrodome on Feb. 7.(PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/

Most Bicol provinces fail in DOF’s financial sustainability rating
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 26 (PNA) – Five of the six provinces in Bicol flunked the scorecard of the Department of Finance (DOF) in the financial sustainability rating for not even making it to the “good” listing.

The province of Camarines Norte was given a “Poor” rating while Camarines Norte and Masbate “Needed Improvement” and Albay and Sorsogon landed in the “Average” level even as the island province of Catanduanes, the smallest in the region, placed sixth among the 13 nationwide that got “Very Good” ratings.

The ratings appeared in the DOF’s Local Government Unit (LGU) Scorecard: Preliminary Assessment that evaluated the overall revenue generation and handling taxpayers’ money performance of local governments from Fiscal Years 2010 to 2012.

It is DOF’s pilot online assessment of LGUs’ fiscal sustainability rolled out recently through the department's Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) aimed at promoting transparency and good governance at all levels.

Called the “Iskor ng Iyong Bayan,” the preliminary performance review covered the 82 provinces, 135 cities and 1,493 municipalities nationwide which were rated either as excellent, very good, good, average, needs improvement and poor.

Each rating was based on the result of an evaluation conducted by the DOF Fiscal Intelligence Unit and BLGF according to the type of LGU and income classification and in terms of their revenue-generation capacity, growth of local revenue, management of expenditures and reportorial compliance.

The assessment specifically focused on locally-sourced income as a share of the total regular income, dependence on Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), use of IRA for local development projects, limitation on Personal Services expenditure, and debt-service ratio.

According to the BLGF, the LGU Fiscal Sustainability Scorecard aims to institutionalize the regular publication of fiscal indicators and performance review of LGUs in the spirit of accountability and good local financial housekeeping.

The scorecard is likewise in line with its mandate to supervise and monitor the revenue operation of LGUs and its thrust to promote good governance at all levels.

“Local treasurers and assessors are responsible for the accuracy and integrity of the reports submitted to the DOF and the BLGF, on which the overall performance assessment of their LGUs are primarily based,” it said.

The results of the assessment, therefore, reflect an LGU’s quality of fiscal and financial management and the level of efficiency and innovativeness in resource mobilization and expenditure management, according to the DOF.

Camarines Sur was rated “poor” as its overall revenue-generation performance from 2010 to 2012 indicated a regular income level needing improvement, poor local revenue level, poor dependence on locally sourced income, and very high (97 percent) dependence on IRA, in relation to other first income class provinces.

Masbate and Camarines Norte’s “needs improvement” ratings were based on findings that their overall revenue-generation capacities indicated poor levels and very high dependence on IRA at 94 percent and 86 percent, respectively.

Local revenue collections and income from economic enterprises, however, were steadily increasing in these two provinces, according to the scorecard.

Both Albay and Sorsogon’s overall revenue-generation capacity also indicated that its regular income and dependence on locally sourced income need improvement, having poor local revenue level and very high dependence on IRA at 89 and 90 percent, respectively.

In 2011, Albay’s local revenues sharply declined by 50 percent due to negative growth in tax and non-tax revenue collections.

In 2012, all tax revenue sources of the province significantly declined -- real property tax, 29 percent; tax on business, six percent; other taxes, 70 percent; and user/service charges, seven percent.

On expenditure management, the province’s total expenditure per capita declined from Php913 in 2011 to Php725 in 2012, which is considered low among first income class provinces while in compliance with statutory limitations on expenditures and budget management, the province consistently utilized less than 20 percent of the IRA for local development projects.

In the case of Catanduanes which was given a “very good” score, the province’s overall revenue generation capacity from 2010 to 2012 indicated a regular income level needing improvement, good local revenue level, good dependence on locally sourced income, and fair dependence on IRA at 83 percent in relation to other third income class provinces.

The DOF said Catanduanes, in 2012, posted notable local revenue performance, with tax and non-tax revenues increasing by 202 percent and 71 percent, respectively, from its 2010 and 2011 performance while no single revenue source posted negative growth in 2012, thus, improving significantly the province’s local revenue performance.

On expenditure management, the province’s total expenditure per capita had improved from Php2,304 in 2011 to Php2,414 in 2012, which is considered very high among provinces.

It also reported more than 20-percent utilization of IRA for local development projects, which is a good indication of compliance to the requirements of the law, the DOF scorecard said.

Among Bicol cities, Ligao placed 18th out of 20 cities assessed as “Good” while Legazpi and Masbate were rated “average”; Sorsogon and Tabaco, “needed improvement”; and Iriga, “poor”. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

PNP-Bicol prepares for possible NPA attacks

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 26 (PNA) -- With the expiration of the Suspension of Police Operation against the New People's Army rebels from Dec. 18, 2014 to Jan. 19, 2015, the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office has placed its men on high state of alertness for possible attacks of the communist rebels in connection with the NPA anniversary in March.

With this possibility, the PNP-Bicol has intensified its counter-insurgency strategies and augmented its field personnel for any atrocities that would be done by the rebels.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol regional police chief, said his men will closely guard vital installations, economic assets, local and foreign businesses, tourist destinations and places where people converge so that they would not be made targets of rebel activities.

Deona said he has also intensified intelligence operations to preempt any plan of the rebels and terrorists.

He said they will mobilize force multiplers like the Barangay Intelligence Network and other groups fighting against lawlessness in their areas.

The top PNP regional official said he has also intensified close cooperation with Armed Forces of the Philippines, their partner in operations against the rebels.

Some 1,500 of Bicol police officers have just arrived trom Tacloban City where they helped maintain peace and order and provided security during Pope Francis' visit.

Deona said the regional office will give honors to these 1,500 police for successfully performing their mission with professionalism, dedication and enthusiasm. (PNA) FPV/FGS/EMC/CBD/

DPWH-Bicol bares construction of national roads totaling 2,344 km in length as of 2014
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Public Works and Highways Bicol regional office has reported having constructed a total national road length of 2,344.40 kilometers as of the end of 2014.

A report released by Lucy Castaneda, DPWH Bicol public information officer, on Monday said that of this total 2,344.40 kilometers of national roads, 1,132.44 km are arterial while 1,211.97 km are secondary.

Castaneda said the road length increased in 2013 due to the newly converted roads in Camarines Norte and Masbate's 2nd Legislative District.

The report showed that as of 2014, the region’s national roads are 90.6-percent paved, corresponding to a total length of 2,124.14 km and the remaining unpaved is 9.4 percent, equivalent to 76.8 km.

For 2014 alone, the region paved 76.8 kilometers and from year 2010 up to 2014, the DPWH Bicol had accrued 256.4 paved roads.

For the national artillery road, 1,067.86 km or 94.3 percent had already been paved as of 2014, with a remaining unpaved length of 64.6 km.

These remaining unpaved section are funded under the CY 2014 General Appropriations Act (locally funded and foreign assisted) and the FY 2015 DPWH Budget.

For the national secondary road, 1,056.28 km or 87.2 percent are paved while the remaining 155.68 km or 12.8 percent are still unpaved, the report added.

Of this unpaved roads, about 42 km are funded in CY 2014 GAA while under the FY 2015 PDWH budget, the programmed length is 39 km.

The remaining length of about 75 km will be proposed for completion by 2016 and beyond, including the newly converted roads in CY 2011.

DPWH Bicol Regional Director Melvin B. Navarro said he has instructed his office’s 16 implementing offices, the construction division and 15 district engineering offices to hasten implementation of the remaining unpaved national roads as they will be constructing more horizontal infrastructure to help hasten the economic development of the Bicol Region, especially the sector of tourism. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/

Monday, January 26, 2015

200 attend Bicol youth confab on poverty alleviation By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 25 (PNA) -- At least 200 members of various youth organizations coming from different schools and universities in the Bicol Region attended the two-day Bicol Youth Conference on Poverty Alleviation on Jan. 24-25 at the Ibalong Conference Room at the City Hall compound here.

The gathering was spearheaded by the National Youth Commission (NYC) and had for its theme: “Effective Partnership in Eradicating Poverty.”

Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal said the gathering would serve as an additional knowledge for the youth on how the government addresses the issues for the good future of all youth organizations not only in Bicol but also in the entire country.

The city chief executive urged the participants to share all the knowledge that they could learn in the conference to other members of their respective organizations so that they may also know their role in the government and how to implement their programs and projects in the community for the benefit of every individual.

Rosal said all the youths have an opportunity to become good leaders of the country as he urged them to always support the important programs of the government for sustainable development of the society and the betterment of the people in the community.

He also asked the support of the youth organizations on the war against illegal drugs in order to prevent the other teenagers from getting involved in dangerous drugs and other illegal substances that destroy the dignity and the future of the youth in the community. <>NYC Commissioner Percival V. Cendana, for his part, said every member of a youth organization has an important role in poverty alleviation because the poverty problem in the society affects the development of every individual.

Cendana said that because of the genuine knowledge and accurate information the young people get in the Internet, they can surely participate in issues that affect people’s lives and they have the right to make proposals and suggestions for the solution to the problem of poverty.

“We have an urgent need to invest for quality education, good peace and order situation and the good health of our young individuals in order for them to become good members of a productive society that will give our young generation social mobility that will lead them on how to uplift their standard of living,” he stressed.

The NYC commissioner said that if there will be a Sangguniang Kabataan election, there are many expected recommendations for the community level that the new SK officers should implement and if there is no SK polls, the output from the summit and other conferences will help the Barangay Youth Development Task Force (BYDTF) headed by a village official.

It is better, however, to make a blueprint for the suggestions of the Bicol youth organizations regarding the anti-poverty alleviation program of the government, Cendana added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EPS/CBD/SSC