Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mayor Rosal opens new park at Legazpi City's Southern Boulevard
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 21 (PNA) -- A fully landscaped park, that has just been launched by the Legazpi City government, promises to be the newest attraction in the Southern Boulevard here, a seaside road network that is one of the city’s major tourist attractions.

Mayor Noel Rosal, who led the opening ceremonies on Thursday for the newly constructed park, said it will serve as an additional tourism infrastructure at the boulevard.

Extending from the city’s central business district and port area to the southern villages, the eight-kilometer boulevard is a favorite venue for biking, jogging or walking.

The park, which is sitting on a 1,000-square meter space adjacent to the bridge area and Bureau of Fire facility, is located in Barangay Dapdap, one of the southern villages.

Rosal said the park is part of the beautification program for Southern Boulevard where an international passenger cruise ship terminal will also be built.

He said the city is “fine tuning the final program” for the terminal,” a multi-billion facility under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.

Rosal said the park is just in its initial phase as only 25 percent of the P5-million park project has been completed.

Now furnished with street furnitures such as tables and benches and installed with decorative lights, he said the park is expected to “add beauty to the boulevard especially during night time.”

He added a 200-linear meter road was also constructed at the side of the park for the promenaders.

Rosal said his administration through the Department of Public Works and Highways, has an ongoing construction of another 2.7-km road to serve as the northern boulevard from the coastal road of the villages of San Roque, Baybay, Sabang and Pigcale.

“It is designed to protect the lives and properties of the residents from the impact of storm surges during typhoons,” he said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/RSM

Friday, October 21, 2016

Work on septage treatment facility in Legazpi City begins 1st quarter of 2017
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 21 (PNA) -- The Legazpi City government will start construction of a septage treatment facility (STF) in the first quarter of 2017 to comply with national laws aiming to protect and preserve the country’s marine waters.

“The project will serve as an effective tool to protect water resources and prevent contamination and pollution from the wastes of septic tanks,” Mayor Noel Rosal said Friday.

He said the STF will be located at the upper portion of the southern side of the city--in Sitio (sub-village) Caridad, Barangay (village) Banquerohan.

The facility will occupy a two-hectare land adjacent to the city’s “Engineered Sanitary Landfill” that was funded by the AECID (Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation).

Rosal said the treatment facility project falls under the city’s Comprehensive Septage and Waste Water Treatment Facility program.

He said the program complies with the implementation of Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 2004, PD 198 or the Water District Law, PD 856 or the Sanitation Code of the Philippines and RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

“All local government units are mandated to pursue a policy for the protection and preservation of marine waters,” said Rosal.

He said the STF project was conceived after the city Legislative Council enacted Ordinance No. 0025-2015 in 2015 that provides for a septage management program to ensure the “right to a balanced ecology and safe health” of the people in the community.

The ordinance requires all households, subdivisions, establishments and government offices to have their own septic tanks with a water tank that has “no leaching compartment.”

Rosal said the septic tank must be located at least 25 meters from any well with an access port for de-sludging.

He said the city administration will require all septic tank owners to de-sludge their own septic tanks every three to five years with the waste removed from the septic tanks to be transported to the STF.

The city administration and the Legazpi City Water District (LCWD) will enter into a memorandum of agreement for an additional P80 monthly to be included in the water billing of its residential consumers while P250 will be collected from establishments.

Rosal said the sludge and septage collected from the septic tanks will undergo a process using the STF with the treated waste deposited to the nearby sanitary landfill or applied to agricultural and forest lands as organic fertilizer.

The ordinance said violators will be penalized with fines ranging from P1,000 to P5,000 and prison terms of five days to 30 days. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/RSM

Albay lawmaker: China gave more support to PHL’s climate change position than US, EU
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 20 (PNA) -- Albay Rep. (2nd district) Joey Salceda said China has been more supportive of the Philippine’s position on climate change than the United States and European Union which have been contributing the most to carbon emissions in the world.

Formerly co-chairman of the United Nations Framework Convention and Climate Change (UNFCCC) Green Climate Fund, Salceda said both the US and EU had ignored the position of the Philippines in its fight against climate change.

He said at the UNFCCC Green Climate Fund the US and EU were always his opponents whenever he presented the position of developing countries on climate change but “China was always there supporting” the Philippine’s proposition.

“The US ignored our our fight against climate change as they were not willing to pay for ... causing so much environmental havoc to developing countries,” Salceda said.

He said “it’s high time to have a strong alliance with China get tangible support for the developing countries who are struggling against climate change.”

The Albay lawmaker also contested British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad’s pronouncement that the United Kingdom topped the list of foreign aid donors to victims of super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Ahmad said UK had donated $ 122.7 million as aid to the Yolanda victims.

Salceda, however, said the fund given was not aid or charity but a form of “climate justice” as compensation for losses and damage.

“It is not charity but climate justice as they hardly involved transfer cash, except for some $ 98 million donated by private individuals and organizations,” he said.

Salceda said the P35.6 billion that was given by foreign governments for the Yolanda victims paled in comparison to the P550.5 billion cumulative actual losses and damage the people of the Philippines suffered from 1990 to 2015 due to climate change caused by developed countries.

“If accounted at current prices, these would mount to P1.903 trillion,” he said.

Salceda added that the Yolanda aid projects were implemented by the donors themselves.

“To my best estimate, 40 percent was paid to their highly paid expatriate consultants and coordinators or their choice of contractors and sub-contractors,” he said.

Salceda said for the past few years, the Philippines has been suffering increasingly harsh climate-related events such as extreme episodes of storms, monsoon rains and El NiƱo.

He said this is due to climate change which was aggravated by the western countries who contributed greatly to greenhouse gas emissions.

Senator Loren Legarda, in a statement, said in the past 20 years, natural hazards had killed 1.35 million people, which was more than half of those who died in earthquakes with the remaining due to weather and climate-related hazards.

She said the Emergency Events Database of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) had recorded 7,056 disasters worldwide during the period 1996 to 2015.

CRED said all over the world, tragedies of even greater magnitude had occurred, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed around 230,000 lives, 2008 cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar and caused 138,000 deaths, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed 223,000 persons.

“In the Philippines, deaths caused by storms alone reached 15,880 during the period 2006-2015, which was significantly higher than the 3,970 storm deaths in the previous decade,” said Legarda.

She said this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), which is celebrated every Oct. 13 through the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, had carried the slogan “Live to Tell.”

Legarda said the IDDR event focused on reducing global disaster mortality, the first of the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

She said in 2005, governments around the world had adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action which aimed at “substantially reducing disaster losses in lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of communities and countries” by 2015.

The Philippine government for its part enacted the the Climate Change Act of 2009, which was touted by lawmakers as a “landmark legislation on disaster and climate risk management.”

This was amended by the People’s Survival Fund of 2012, and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which has institutionalized and mainstreamed disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the development policies, plans and programs and public funding of local government units. (PNA) LAP/GVR/RBB/EDS

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Police probe half of village chiefs in Albay town linked to illegal drugs
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 20 (PNA) -- Anti-narcotics agents are investigating half of the total number of village chiefs in Sto. Domingo in Albay province over their alleged role in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the town.

Chief of the investigation division of the Albay Provincial Police, Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, said they are in the process of validating reports from their informants on the suspected role of 12 out of 23 barangay (village) heads in the illegal drug trade in the town.

"They will be subjected to our Operation Tokhang if results of the validation against them will turn positive," he said.

Gomez said from July 1 to Oct. 19, some 12,294 drug personalities -- 1,108 of them pushers and 11,186 users -- have surrendered to authorities in Albay.

He said 165 of them were village officials, 19 of whom were barangay chairmen.

On Oct. 12, Rommel Marticio, chief of Barangay Inarado in Daraga, Albay and one of the surrenderers in the province were killed in a buy-bust operation by narcotics agents.

Gomez said law enforcers are also validating reports on the involvement of two broadcast media persons in the illegal drug trade.

"We need at least three confirmatory validation on their involvement in illegal drugs before we conduct Oplan Tokhang against these mediamen," he said. (PNA) CVL/GVR/JHALLARE/EBP

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bulusan volcano erupts anew; second in a week

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 19 (PNA) -- Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon spewed a kilometer-high ash cloud that lasted for around nine minutes early morning on Wednesday, its second time this week, the Philppine Institute of Volcanolgy and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. “The ashfall drifted towards villages near the slopes of the volcano in Bulusan town,” said Crispulo Deolata, Phivolcs’ resident volcanologist based in Sorsogon.

He said volcanologists found 0.5 millimetres traces of ashes that drifted towards villages in Bulusan town.

Eduardo Laguerta, resident volcanologist at the Phivolcs’ observatory in Lignon Hill here, said the phreatic eruption was the second to take place this week (the first was on October 17) and the third eruption this month.

He said the eruptions were normal occurrences since the volcano has been exhibiting some 20 eruptions since May last year.

“What we are closely checking is the presence of fresh magma that could be expelled by the volcano which would indicate that magma is developing beneath the volcano’s vent,” Laguerta said.

State volcanologists are gathering ash samples every time the volcano erupts to determine if there are fresh magma particles in it.

Phivolcs’ seismic monitoring instruments recorded 28 volcanic earthquakes during the past 24-hour period, said Phivolcs’ 8 a.m. bulletin today.

The earthquakes were triggered by rock fracturing due to hydrothermal pressure developing in the volcano’s vent that also generates the phreatic explosion, added the bulletin.

Mt. Bulusan also emitted 176 tonnes of sulfur dioxide which Laguerta said is just a “normal value.”

The volcano’s slopes continue to show signs of “bulging” or inflationary trends since July this year.

Alert Level 1 remains in effect over Bulusan volcano which means it is in a restive state or abnormal condition.

The public are reminded not to enter the designated four-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone due to the possibility of sudden and hazardous phreatic eruptions.

Civil aviation authorities advised pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden phreatic eruption could be hazardous to aircrafts.

Residents near river channels, especially on the southwest and northwest sectors of the volcano’s edifice, should be cautious. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/MEC

Catanduanes firm absorbs 231 workers, comprising half of regularized workers in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 18, (PNA) -- One of the biggest firms in Catanduanes voluntarily absorbed its 231 contractual workers, contributing to half of the total workers regularized in the Bicol region since start of the campaign against "Endo" or contractualization by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Bicol.

Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, DOLE-Bicol officer-in-charge regional director, said the move of the Cua Group of Companies to regularize 231 workers in its businesses in shipping, dockside work and office management is more than good news.

“It means that we are on the right track in addressing this Endo issue here in Bicol,” Trayvilla said in a news release issued today.

She said, including the 231, there are now 552 contract workers who have been voluntarily absorbed by principal employers since the start of the Endo campaign in Bicol when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency.

Trayvilla, quoting a report of DOLE Catanduanes, said the Cua Group had released the appointment papers of their employees last October 1.

She said even even prior to the regional consultation on “Endo” last Sept. 1 at the Legazpi City Convention Center, top executives of the Cua Group had decided to support the Endo campaign by regularizing its 231 contractual employees.

“In fact, a focused group meeting with the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry was held on Aug. 12 at the Virac town Center to discuss the regularization of contract employees not just by the said company but in the entire province,” said Trayvilla.

Christine Cua, vice president for finance of the Cua Group of Companies, said they had hoped to become a role model in the business community when they regularized their workers.

“We want to show to Catandungans our sincerity in upholding the security of tenure of our workers,” she said.

Trayilla said she hopes the move of the Cua Group will inspire other big firms in Bicol to follow.

She said she expects an increase in the total of 552 contract workers voluntarily absorbed by principal employers since start of the Endo campaign in Bicol.

“The number is expected to rise even higher within the week since other DOLE provincial offices have yet to submit their reports,” said Trayvilla.

She said DOLE-Bicol has just finished its Endo provincial consultations in Camarines Norte and Masbate last week with a consultation in Sorsogon next in the schedule.

“Our aim in these consultations is to inform our principal employers that it’s better to voluntarily absorb workers rather than wait for us to issue a compliance order on Endo,” Trayvilla stressed.

Prior to the regional consultation on Endo on Sept. 1, DOLE-Bicol gave establishments, local companies and manpower agencies engaging in ENDO until December this year to voluntarily absorb their workers.

But prompted by a pronouncement early this month of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to speed-up the issue on Endo, which is also known as Labor Only Contracting or LOC, DOLE Bicol has announced that after appropriate proceedings, they will be issuing compliance orders for companies.

Trayvilla said that to date, DOLE-Bicol has not yet issued any compliance order for ENDO as all the 552 workers were absorbed voluntarily.

She added, however, that by the end of October, DOLE-Bicol will start giving compliance orders.

“Let me warn those hard-headed companies that when October ends ... if we find out that you’re practicing ENDO and have not come complied voluntarily, then expect a compliance order from us,” said Trayvilla.

She said the 552 workers voluntarily absorbed by their employers in the Bicol region comprised five percent of the total absorbed workers nationwide.

Trayvilla cited the “national total tally of Endo of DOLE Central Office through its Labor Communications Office is nearly 10,000 as of Sept. 30.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/GINA V. RODRIGUEZ/EDS