Saturday, February 13, 2016

Albay gets award as PHL's First Green Eco Champion

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 12 (PNA) -- Governor Joey Sarte Salceda on Thursday afternoon received the Green Eco Champion Award for the Province of Albay during the First Environmental Summit in the Philippines at the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia, Pasay City, starting Tuesday.

With the theme "Breakthroughs and Innovations Towards Sustainable Development," the three-day event was spearheaded by the Green Convergence headed by Dr. Angelina P. Galang, a well-known environmentalist in the country.

With Salceda were Dr. Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Office (APSEMO) chief; former Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Arnold Embestro, Nong Dawal of the Albay Blue Lane Economy and other department heads.

Salceda offered the award to the people who have worked hard for sustainable development in the conservation and protection of the environment for the sake of the future generation. It was also for those who pushed for the good programs and projects of Albay as models not only for the entire country but also the whole world like the Climate Change Academy of the Philippines.

Moreover, the governor dedicated the Green Eco Champion Award to every Albayano who continuously believes in the beauty of the province and in his strength and courage to live, whether the weather is good or bad.

"And most importantly, I accept this award in behalf of every Albayano who believes in the natural beauty of Albay, in the richness of his heritage, and in his natural ability to live in accord with nature through fine and rough weather," he said.

The green economist thanked the officers of the Green Convergence Philippines for the award it bestowed on the province.

In this connection, he mentioned some of the awards and honors that Albay has received, which have been the key to the Green Eco Champion Award.

First, he said, is the achievement of the zero casualty for the past 18-21 years amid the onslaught of natural calamities in the province like Mayon eruptions, typhoons, floods, soil erosion and many others.

These, Salceda attributed to the philosophy of constant kindness and universality of human dignity.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Albay has passed various ordinances towards the vigorous preservation and protection of the environment, he said.

The forest cover of Albay expanded by 88 percent as the mangroves grew in number by about 400 percent from 700 hectares to 2,400 hectares.

Its rice self-sufficiency level went up by 74 percent up to 104 percent, with irrigated ricelands grew from 17,000 hectares to 19,433 hectares.

The province, Salceda said, is now the second biggest producer and biggest exporter of camote, has the largest pili hectarage at 2,972 from 1,200 hectares.

Aside from this, Albay has replanted 1.6 million coconut trees.

In the field of education, college scholars in Albay have reached a total of 104,000.

Its status in the National Achievement Test leaped from 177th in 2007 to the 19th in 2012.

Albay targets to be at the top 10 in the near future.

Based on the study of the UNICEF-PIDS, the province has a 0.03-percent dropout rate compared to those students who religiously attend classes whose number is at 98 percent, Salceda said.

Foreign and local tourists, he said, have always flocked to Albay.

Further, the province has received various awards and recognition within and outside the country such as: (1) Top Destination for 2015 of Trip Advisor: (2) World model in the field of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation: (3) Salceda's “The Green Economist and Architect of Albay Green Economy" title; (4) Tourism Star Philippines Awardee of DOT (Salceda); (5) Galing Pook and Gawad Kalasag Awardee: (6) Galing Pook 2008 for Institutionalization of the APSEMO; (7) Galing Pook 2011 for Health Strategy towards Early Attainment of the MDGs; (8) Galing Pook 2015 for Team Albay Humanitarian Assistance Program; (9) Gawad Kalasag Award as Best Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (2009); (10) Gawad Kalasag Award as Best Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (2010); (11) Gawad Kalasag Award as Best Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (2011); and (12) Gawad Kalasag Hall of Fame Award as Best PDRRMC for three consecutive years.

In this connection, Galang cited Albay as a model province in the entire country for its programs on environmental protection for the continuous development of the economy to uplift the life of every Filipino family.

She quoted Salceda on what he said that the threat of climate change should not be a hindrance to making Albay a livable province.

"Whatever our status in life is, let's be one in preserving our environment, now tomorrow but today," the Green convergence head said.

Known personalities like former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, among others attended the occasion.(PNA) PGL/FGS/NIM/CBD/PJN

Bias-motivated violence, discrimination vs LGBTs in Bicol growing, says CHR
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 9 (PNA) -- The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Bicol regional office revealed that hate crime or bias-motivated violence and discrimination against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the region has been escalating but only one percent of the cases has reached their office.

According to May Janice Ceneta, special investigator of CHR–Bicol, statistics on violence against LGBTs are still incomplete while reported allegations of discrimination on schools and public places were noted but no formal complaints were filed.

“It could be that these kinds of violence remain under-reported or unreported because the victims do not want to be identified or there is also a lack of protocol on the part of the government to address the situation,” Ceneta said.

The case of Dennis Relato, 48, Albay coordinator of Ang Ladlad partylist who was killed inside his residence in Oas, Albay on Sept. 14, 2015, was classic example.

Relato sustained 35 stab wounds on his head, face, upper extremities back and lower extremities that his ears were nearly torn off.

The respondent is 16 years old who was found to have acted with discernment and was apprehended less than 24 hours after the incident.

In discrimination, a gay college student reported that he was told by their department head that he would be refused entrance at the school gate and would be prohibited from attending his classes if he would not cut his hair.

Another case of a hate crime in Albay was when a gay and graduating high school student was killed in Tabaco City after having been bullied and raped.

Police investigation showed that the gay student failed to pay after having sex with an unidentified suspect.

In a separate incident, a gay professor of one of the universities in Bicol was killed for the same reason as that of the high school student.

On domestic violence, even at home, family members would only tolerate the preference but would not accept the sexual orientation and expression of a gay.

Some are even disowned by their own father or mother as, they claim, "It is shameful to have a child of diverse orientation."

CHR records also showed that on physical violence, the case of “Dem” reached their office.

Dem was strolling along Legazpi Boulevard in Barangay Victory Village, Legazpi City, when he was held by a big-built man then thrown to the seaport.

The incident was only recorded in the blotter office of the barangay and no action was taken by the authorities.

On sexual violence, most of gay teens in Albay first experienced sexual molestation inside their homes by force.

It was committed either by their cousins or uncles, the CHR record said.

One teener reported that he was forced to watch pornographic movies with his cousins, then after that, he was raped.

On harassment, one gay reported that he was walking along Barangay Maroroy, Daraga, Albay when some men approached him, bullied him and threatened to kill him if he would not remove his clothes.

He was forced to get naked along the street and then was thrown to the river near the Legazpi domestic airport.

Ceneta further said that the CHR has the mandate to promote and protect the human rights of intersex persons and persons with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE).

“We encourage victims of unjust discrimination and other violence, especially members of the SOGIE, to seek legal assistance from the commission and file necessary charges against the perpetrators,” the CHR official said. She added that they will conduct strict monitoring to fully implement the law. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MDR/CBD/RSM

Albay village official, nephew charged in connection with Php3.4M cash benefits of 4Ps recipients

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 12 (PNA) -- Police investigators have filed robbery charges against a village official and a relative for carting away Php3.4 million in cash intended for thousands of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino (4Ps) beneficiaries in the island-town of Rapu-Rapu in Albay, the town police chief said Friday.

Sr. Insp. Arnel Bellen, Rapu-Rapu town police chief, said robbery charges were filed before the Albay Provincial Prosecutor's Office against suspects Eddie Bibat and his nephew, Henry Bibat, after witnesses executed affidavits pinpointing the duo as the robbers.

Bellen said the witnesses' affidavits and pieces of evidence could be used as strong evidence to pin down the suspects that staged the close-to-midnight heist on Jan. 26.

In a phone interview, he said that based on the victims' testimonies and those of other witnesses, police investigators are looking into a possible angle of an “inside job.”

The police chief said that during the initial investigation, Bibat, a village councilman, was the owner of the boarding house where victims were held up, tied and gagged.

Henry went missing and could not be located since Tuesday, the police chief said.

Bellen said witnesses told the police that they saw Eddie and Henry days before the robbery, but the police could not use the witnesses' testimonies because they refused to sign and execute affidavits, “so we have to treat these as hearsays or rumors.”

Combined elements from the regional, provincial and municipal police units have been issued a police "all points bulletin" (APB) for the arrest of the suspects.

Two bonnet-wearing suspects armed with bladed weapons, barged into the boarding house of Bibat in Barangay (village) Villahermosa in Batan Island, Rapu-Rapu town were two employees of the Saint Anthony Development Cooperative (SADC) were preparing the cash envelops intended for 1,350 4Ps beneficiaries of the island-town, according to Glorei Lindio, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) 4Ps project spokesperson.

The SADC is a sub-conduit of the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), the authorized conduit of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), which is the depository bank of funds for the conditional cash transfer (CCT), or the cash dole-out given to 4Ps beneficiaries.

Lindio said the suspects staged the robbery during the time when the power on the island was turned off.

The island-town's electricity need is provided by a power-generating set that is turned off from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following day, she said.

Bellen said the SADC employee-victims were identified as Allan Competente and Rechilda Batang who were tied and gagged before they were stashed of cash by the suspects.

Barangay Villahermosa in Batan Island is a two-hour boat ride away from from Rapu-Rapu poblacion and 4 to 5 hours ride to this city.

Bellen said that before the robbery incident, the victims were already distributing about Php4.6 million cash assistance to some 1,466 4Ps beneficiaries in the island-town's poblacion.

Then the two SADC employees sailed to Barangay Villahermosa in Batan Island to distribute the Php3.4 cash assistance to another 1,350 beneficiaries, he said. (PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/RSM

NGOs seek local budget for RH, HIV services
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 12 (PNA) -- Leading non-government organizations in the country have asked local government units (LGUs) for the integration of reproductive health -- especially on family planning, adolescent health and HIV services -- in the annual local budget.

In achieving the global, national and sustainable development goals' aspiration to fulfill the promises of reproductive health implementation, LGUs must understand the importance of providing appropriate budget to ensure the delivery of services, according to Dr. Eden Divinagracia, executive director of the Philippine NGO Council for Welfare and Development. “The health sector is already devolved in the Local Government Code of the Philippines, however, the basis of the local government units to fully implement reproductive health is the Reproductive Health Law, which was recently signed into law by President Benigno Aquino,” Divinagracia said Friday.

She explained that the integration of program and budgetary allocation in the annual provincial or municipal appropriation is the assurance that reproductive health services will be implemented or delivered.

There are other legal bases for implementation of reproductive health services, like the Local Budget Memorandum No. 70 of the Department of Budget and Management, which requires all LGUs to make sure that the budget for HIV/AIDS program is built in the annual appropriation or in all levels.

Although the Department of Health (DOH), she said, is also mandated to provide support to LGUs, specifically on family planning commodities or supplies, it is important that concerned LGUs should allocate certain budget for the procurement of commodities.

The provincial government of Albay has allocated budget for the procurement of sexually transmitted infection (STI) drugs, family planning commodities such as pills and condom, supplies and equipment for hospital lying in.

Aside from appropriated budget in the annual investment plan, Local AIDS Council, Population Management Division and Program Coordinators on Family Planning are operational.

Gayon-Albay, a non-government organization composed of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group, is conducting a series of fora in the province to seek support from the local chief executives and local legislators to include RH programs in their political agenda.

DOH Regional Director Napoleon Arevalo, on the other hand, has urged the provincial government of Albay to assist all municipal and city government for the creation of their respective local AIDS councils and provide fund for its operation.

He said HIV cases are increasing in the Bicol Region and the LGUs must have a comprehensive local response to address the problem. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MDR/CBD/RSM

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ligao City women complete BuB-funded skills training program
By Danny O. Calleja

LIGAO CITY, Feb. 9 (PNA) -– A total of 38 women, most of them housewives, recently completed the skills training on cookery and meat processing given by the city government through funds provided by the national government under its Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP), popularly known as the Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB).

One of its graduates, Marilyn Beunaventura, a 40-year-old housewife in Barangay Binatagan here, said she would make use of the skills she acquired in the training and the starter kit it provided in putting up her own home-based business to augment the meager family income that can hardly make ends meet.

Bebilita Manlapas, 52, of Barangay Pinit, said she and her family would engage in the business of meat processing to come up with a small-scale enterprise to produce longganisa and embutido which are highly salable processed food items in their community.

Both graduates and their 36 other co-graduates have expressed deep gratitude to the city government and the national government in providing them the skills training course which they see as a stable stepping stone towards a better quality economic life.

City Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua also expressed hope that the training, made possible through GPBP funds, would further empower the women graduates towards becoming more productive at home or in their respective communities.

The undertaking, she said, was completed via a partnership among her administration, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which shared efforts in providing the funds, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which handled the training course.

This latest training program is among the community-based capacity building initiatives of the local government 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 guided by the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), Alsua explained.

“We apply the GPBP supplementary fund received through the DSWD in these initiatives to benefit poor families by way of providing them livelihood skills training that when harnessed properly would certainly improve their economic conditions,” she said on Tuesday.

Earlier, the city government produced 22 graduates from a three-month-long course in Shielded Metal Arc Welding course given also in partnership with DSWD and TESDA under the same budgeting process which awarded each of them a national accreditation certificate as an industrial shielded metal arc welder following the competency assessment conducted.

This was preceded by the awarding of carabaos and starter kits composed of various farm implements for organic crop production to 200 local farmers also through funds provided under the BuB.

Ahead of the distribution of these awards, the recipient farmers were made to undergo a two-day organic rice production training which served as a prerequisite for them to qualify to the grant.

On-farm technical assistance and veterinary services for the carabaos will also be provided by the City Agriculture Office (CAO) as the recipients’ farming activities progress under the close monitoring of a team organized for the purpose.

These are to ensure that the farmers really become more productive in their organic farming activities and their earning capability enhanced for increased purchasing power leading to their liberation from the bondage of poverty, according to the lady mayor.

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 BuB 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. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD

Cops seize PHP116,000 worth of cut coco lumber in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 9 (PNA) -- Police confiscated close to 13,000 board feet of illegally cut coco lumber with an estimated market value of PHP116,500 during separate operations in Irosin and Donsol towns in Sorsogon.

The also arrested Dexter M. Santos, 33, of Barangay San Mateo, Rizal, and truck helper Arnel Flores, 33, of Barangay Tambo, Ligao City.

Santos and Flores have been charged of violation of R.A. 8048 (Coconut Preservation Act of 1995).

Donsol Municipal Police Station personnel led by Police Chief Insp. Joel Triñanes, Donsol assistant chief of police, arrested the two on Tuesday afternoon in Barangay Gogon, Donsol, Sorsogon after concerned citizens informed the police.

Triñanes said the responding team was able locate a 10-wheeler truck with plate number ABB 6308 loaded with assorted sizes of coco lumber with 7,000 board feet worth PHP52,500.

During verification, the driver and helper failed to present any permit to transport the coco lumbers.

In another incident, police arrested truck driver Brigido Molina Jr., 30, of Barangay Cawayan in Iriga City, Camarines Sur, and helper Aldren Belgado, 30, of Nabua, Camarines Tuesday morning in Barangay Gulang-Gulang, Irosin, Sorsogon.

Police Chief Insp. Edwin Adora, Irosin town assistant police chief, said Gulang-Gulang barangay chairman Anacleto Nañoz personally went to the police station and reported that a 10-wheeler truck loaded with coco lumber was stuck in the mud at their place.

Responding team saw the Fuso truck with plate number ABB 5578 loaded with more or less 1,250 pieces of 2x4x12 coco lumber with some 8,000 board feet and an estimated market value of PHP64,000.

The apprehensions were based on Republic Act 10593 which authorizes the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), through the PNP, to arrest those who cut coconut trees illegally as well as stop unauthorized transport of coconut lumber. (PNA) FFC/FGS/AT/CBD