Saturday, July 30, 2016

(2 p.m. update) “Carina” accelerates further, maintains strength

MANILA, July 30 (PNA) -- Tropical Depression Carina has accelerated further to 17 kilometer per hour (kph) towards north northwest direction, but has maintained its maximum sustained winds of up to 55 kph near the center, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Saturday afternoon.

Moderate to heavy rains within 300 kilometer (km) diameter of "Carina" may be expected.

Fisherfolks were alerted about the moderate to rough seas over the eastern seaboards of Luzon and Visayas.

Meanwhile, Cagayan, including Babuyan Group of Islands, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Northern Aurora, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, northern and eastern Samar have been put under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal (TCWS) No. 1.

Areas placed under TCWS No. 1, as well as the rest of the Visayas, Masbate, Camarines Norte and Quezon were also warned about the moderate to heavy rains which may trigger flash floods and landslides.

”Carina” still enhances southwest monsoon that may bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains over MIMAROPA or Region 4-B, PAGASA said.

The weather bureau said the center of “Carina” was last eyed at 260 km east northeast of Virac, Catanduanes. (PNA) JSV/MCCA

2,031 passengers stranded in Bicol due to TD 'Carina'

LEGAZPI CITY, July 30 (PNA) -- Some 2,031 passengers have been stranded in 12 ports across Bicol region as of 12nn Saturday due to tropical depression Carina.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Bicol suspended sailing of all types of sea vessels on Friday after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Administration (Pagasa) raised storm signal number 1 over Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, and Sorsogon.

According to Pagasa, TP 'Carina' sustained its strength as it moves north northwest at 15 kilometers per hour with maximum winds of 55 kph near the center. As of 10a.m., it was spotted at 175 kms east northeast of Catarman, Northern Samar

Ensign Lear Kenneth Ampalayo, assistant officer-in- charge (OIC) of PCG-Bicol, in a text message, said as of 12 nn, the number of passengers stranded in the 12 ports across the region were: Tabaco port-150, Legazpi-150, Pio Duran-331, Pilar-30, Bulan-18, Matnog-1,132, Bapor-101, San Pascual-15, Mandaon-12, Virac-8, San Andres-13 and Pasacao-53.

He said PCG-Bicol’s suspension order also put on hold at the ports 40 sea vessels and 224 rolling cargoes such as trucks, buses and light vehicles like cars.

Rafael Alejandro, head of the Office of Civil Defense Bicol (OCD), in an interview, said majority of the stranded passengers were bound for the Samar and Leyte provinces while the rest were bound for the island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate.

Alejandro, who is also chairperson of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), urged all local chief executives, especially those in Albay and Catanduanes, to make the necessary preparations because of the expected heavy rains.

He called on the Bicolanos to be “vigilant and to refrain from going out of their houses, especially since there are no classes during the weekend.”

Pagasa estimated the rainfall amount to be from moderate to heavy within the 300-km diameter of the tropical depression.

It also said areas under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal (TCWS) No. 1, the rest of the Visayas and the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate have been alerted against moderate to heavy rains which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.

Other areas under Signal No. 1 include Cagayan, Isabela, Northern Aurora, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Visayas, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Samar.

Pagasa also alerted fisherfolk against moderate to rough seas over the eastern seaboard of Luzon and Visayas.

Alejandro said OCD-Bicol reactivated its Operation Center and placed it under “Blue” alert status which means disaster agencies and assets are placed under standby 24/7.

He has issued a disaster bulletin to the six Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils to likewise be on “Blue” alert and closely monitor the weather situation and immediately coordinate with the RDRRMC once the weather condition worsens.

Pagasa said it expects “Carina” to be 215 kilometers east of Casiguran, Aurora within the next 24 hours or by Sunday morning.(PNA) JFM/GVR/MSA/JH/CBD

Albayanos: FOI order shows “serious commitment to transparency, fight vs corruption”
By Connie B. Destura and Mar Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- Albayanos welcomed the recent signing of an executive order (EO) on the Freedom of Information (FOI) as they said it showed that President Rodrigo Duterte is seriously committed to promote transparency and fight against corruption in government

The directive, which allows the public to ask any vital information about any transaction with various government agencies, including local government units, across the country has “institutionalized transparency and good governance,” said Edgar Alejo, a columnist of the 66-year-old Mayon Times, a pioneering local publication in Albay.

He said the FOI order is a recognition that “finally” allows media’s right to information on issues of public concern.

“To us in the media, we are given access to records and documents related to official acts, policies and decisions which were once hidden from us,” said Alejo, who has been a community journalist from the martial law years to the Post-EDSA 1986 years and now serving as an editorial consultant for several local publications in Bicol.

Marcial Tuanqui, a businessman and a director of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry commended the FOI order, saying it is a sign of the President’s “serious commitment for transparency and in its fight against corruption.”

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said the order is “a very good move to show the people of his (Mr. Duterte’s) commitment for transparency in his government.”

Jesus Calisin, a former vice governor of Albay and a broadcast anchorman, said the order “has long been overdue” as it is in accordance with the transparency provision of the Philippine Constitution.

The order, he said, “is not only a bastion of the people’s right to information but a weapon for accountability, transparency and good governance.”

Joy Tango, an employee of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the past 14 years, said the EO is in line with the “full disclosure program of the DILG for the local governments.

“We need to exercise transparency in the government so that the people’s trust and confidence in our leaders would be strengthened,” she said.

Tango said while the FOI order sets limitations it has provided “no excuse to cover up for something irregular that may happen.”

She said to make the FOI meaningful there should be a law that must be passed so that all branches of government could be covered by the “full disclosure” policy.

“After all transparency must be practiced by everyone in government,” Tango emphasized.

Christine Villanueva, a teacher and mother who used to stay in Davao City but has now made Albay her home, said “change is really here.”

“Every step of the way we can see that the government is now reaching out to the people,” she said.

Ken Tabuena, a resident of Legazpi City, said he hopes the FOI order will become a law, so the legislative and judiciary branches of the government will be included.(PNA) PGL/GVR/CBD/MSA/

Legazpi City seen to rise as Bicol’s investment hub
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -— This premiere city in Bicol will soon rise as one of the country’s future investment hubs after getting the third spot in the overall ranking set by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) Philippines to measure the performance of more than 1,300 local government units (LGU) across the country in providing an attractive climate for business.

City Mayor Noel Rosal said Legazpi City got a total of four awards, including the third place over-all ranking, during the 4th Regional Competitiveness Summit and Awards ceremony held on July 14 in Manila.

He said in an interview that he was “elated when the city was recognized as the third most competitive LGU in the country.”

This raised his hopes, he said, that Legazpi City would become the “next investment hub outside Metro Manila, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao.”

Rosal said the city’s rating has jumped seven notches higher, “to number three this year from its number 10 rating in last year’s evaluation.”

The summit highlighted results of the 2016 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI), which measured the LGU’s ranking based on three criteria—economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure.

An annual ranking developed with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a telecommunications giant, CMCI measured the LGUs classified into four categories: 3rd to 6th class municipalities, 1st to 2nd class municipalities; component cities; and highly urbanized cities or HUCs.

In its category as a component city, Legazpi received three awards –all in the third spot—in all the three criteria cited. The fourth award is the third place for “over-all competitiveness.”

“Placing third among hundreds of component cities in the country is a great honor to us as we strived hard to gain the recognition,” he said. The Philippine Statistical Authority said a component city is that which is located within the boundaries of two or more provinces. It said such a city shall be deemed a component of the province of which it used to be a municipality.

According to NCC, there were 1,389 LGUs, 144 of them cities and 1,245 municipalities, which joined this year’s CMCI, the largest number since the index started in 2013.

NCC said the number of participants in this year’s ranking was 85 percent of the total LGUs in the country. In 2013, only 17 percent of the LGUs joined the CMCI index. Both the academe and public and private sectors helped gather the data for the rankings.

Once only known as a disaster prone area in the Bicol Peninsula frequented by typhoons, storm surge, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Legazpi City has been transformed into a thriving investment center in Bicol and the entire Southern Luzon area.

Rosal said the NCC recognition would boost the city government in its drive to carry out investment-friendly projects that would further help improve its economic standing.

He said the CMCI index rating would give confidence to the business sector in putting investments in the city while financial institutions would be encouraged to offer grants to sustain the economic development projects being pushed in the city.

Rosal said he believes in the city becoming an “investment center” since Legazpi City is by law the regional center site in Bicol where all national agencies with regional offices are situated.

He said the city is also a center of trade in Bicol because Legazpi is strategically located with “four million people from the (Bicol) provinces of Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate, as well as the (Visayan) provinces of Samar and Leyte, doing their shopping here.”

Rosal said several investors who set up businesses here have noted Legazpi as the “best haven for investment” and “one of the better places to live in.”

Recently, AyalaLand in partnership with the LCC Group of Companies opened Ayala Malls Legazpi, a four-story complex worth P1.6-billion that is seated on a 1.4-hectare lot in the city’s commercial district.

A PHP2-billion condominium hotel to be called Horizon Plaza Legazpi will break ground within the next two months, an official of the property development firm owned by the Gaisano family-led Viscal Development Corp. announced last week. The three-tower high-rise will each have ten stories.

Rosal added that through the Department of Public Works and Highways, a P1-billion flood control project was implemented in the city with the construction of three pumping stations, making it an “all weather city” with no worries for floods and storm surges during stormy weather.

He said Legazpi is the only local government unit in Bicol that has built and maintained a P2.-1 billion state of the art sanitary landfill in partnership with the Spanish Agency for International Development Corp. (AECID) in Barangay Banquerohan.

The mayor said owing to its majestic Mayon volcano, a wonder that rises 2,460-meter above sea level and known for its nearly perfect shaped cone, Legazpi City, the capital of Albay province, would remain a top tourism destination in the country.

City tourism data show Legazpi has an annual average of 35 different kinds of conventions, seminars and conferences with an increase of 45 percent in tourist arrivals or a total of 967,396 visitors recorded in 2015 compared to the 666,210 tourists posted in 2014.

Legazpi has been tagged as the second most liveable city by USAID and as a “City of Fun and Adventure” by the Department of Tourism.(PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD

Friday, July 29, 2016

Suspect in Quiapo road rage killing yields in Masbate
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- The suspect in a road rage killing incident in Quiapo Monday night surrendered to a joint Army intelligence unit and provincial police team in Milagros, Masbate at noontime Friday (today), an Army spokesperson in Bicol said.

Major Virgilio Perez, spokesperson of the 9th Infantry Division based in Camp Elias Angeles in Pili, Camarines Sur, identified the suspect as Vhon Martin Tanto, also known as Skyton Tonsky.

Perez said Tanto surrendered to a joint team of the Masbate Provincial Police Office and the Philippine Army Intelligence Service Unit (PAISU) in his house in Barangay Poblacion East, Milagros, Masbate.

“Tanto’s wife Aniza asked help from the military reservist friends of her husband to facilitate his surrender to PAISU,” said Perez.

Investigation showed Tanto eluded arrest after the Quiapo incident by fleeing to Milagros town, the hometown of his wife Aniza.

Earlier reported as an Army reservist, Tanto was caught in a footage of a closed-circuit television camera shooting cyclist Mark Vincent Geralde after a fistfight in one of Quiapo’s streets last Monday evening.

The apprehending team failed to recover the firearm used by Tanto when he yielded inside his house.

During interrogation, however, Tanto disclosed that he left all his firearms with his brother-in-law in Barangay Kirang, Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.

Police later recovered the vehicle, a Hyundai Eon, which was used by Tanto to flee the manhunt operation against him, in the Nueva Vizcaya home of his brother-in-law.

A military source said Tanto has been on an “inactive” status as a military reservist since January last year.(PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD

Albay local executive vows to increase health budget in Polangui town
By Mike de la Rama

POLANGUI, Albay, July 29 (PNA) -– Vice Mayor Herbert Borja of this town vowed to increase the budget for health to fully fulfill the implementation of all programs and services.

During the multi-sectoral forum organized by the Philippine NGO (non-government organization) Council and Welfare (PNGOCW) here, Borja told participants that the current budget for health is only P11.1 million with the P7.6 million devoted to personnel services, P1.6 million for maintenance and other operating expenses and the remaining P1.9 million for all health programs.

He said the budget is too small compared to what is being recommended by the Department of Health (DOH) to the local government unit (LGU). DOH had said the health budget of the LGU should be 15 percent of the total LGU budget per year.

“We need to prioritize health if we want to provide better health services to the people. At least we should have a realistic budget to be able to serve the 89,0001 people of Polangui,” said Borja.

He pointed out that the multisectoral forum, which is being conducted by the PNGOCW, is very timely because the Polangui Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) will be properly guided in having proper budgetary requirements for health services, especially in the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law.

PNGOC gets support from the foundation established by internationally renowned philanthropist-couple Bill and Melinda Gates. The latter deems PNGOC as her special project in Asia.

“Even President Rodrigo Duterte in his first State of the Nation Address made mention of the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood (law) otherwise known as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act,” said Borja.

In this case, he said the LGU must do something to provide the necessary health services so it could properly serve its constituents, especially those in isolated areas.

Borja added the Sangguniang Bayan is working along with the local chief executive to find other means to source out funds.

He however said local policies will be enacted soon so that funds could be given for the creation of the Polangui Reproductive Health Council and the local AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) Council.

The local official also hailed the consortium implementing the project which would ensure the advocacy on reproductive health would be sustained in both national and local levels. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MDR/CBD