Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Albay power provider cuts off service to mariners training school
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec.16 (PNA) –The Albay Power and Energy Corp., a subsidiary of the San Miguel Corp., has disconnected power supply to the Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation (MPCF) here due to unpaid electricity bills for eight months since March amounting to Php2.2 million, APEC general manager Manuel Imperial said Tuesday.

The MPCF is among the proponents to boycott electric bill payment to APEC, which acquired the former Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) in January, making the power cooperative the first such entity to privatize.

The APEC disconnected the power lines of MPCF in Barangay Rawis here on Dec. 4.

But four days after the MPCF power line was disconnected, terminated employees of the Aleco, who are mostly members of the Aleco Employees Organization (Aleo), restored the school’s power line.

The APEC tried to disconnect the reconnected lines but failed.

Aleo vice president Ephraim De Vera said the terminated employees have the authority to reconnect MPCF’s power line because they have a “return to work order” (RTWO) from the Department of Labor issued last March but the APEC would not honor the RTWO and instead offered a separation pay which the concerned employees, at least 70 of them, refused to honor.

De Vera claimed that the terminated employees have not been receiving their salary for almost a year now and that the APEC has begun harassing boycotting consumers.

MPCP president Dante Jimenez, also the founding chair of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, claimed that upon receipt of disconnection notice from the APEC, he paid MPCF’s electric dues to the Aleo-reconstituted Interim board of directors (IBOD) headed by lawyer Bartolome Rayco as chairman following a constituent assembly.

Jimenez said he does not recognized the IBOD created by the National Electrification Administration in 2012 that formulated Aleco’s privatization.

The reconstituted latest IBOD, which the APEC would not recognize, was a result of the unending consumers complaints against APEC’s dismal performance, resulting in the company’s poor average collection efficiency of only 40 percent.

De Vera confirmed Jimenez’s electric bill payment made through the Aleo-backed IBOD amounting to Php2.2million.

A case has been filed by the Aleo-backed IBOD for the annulment of the Aleco privatization scheme, alleging that the acquisition of Aleco by SMC through a public bidding was a farce and was conducted through a highly manipulated constituent assembly.

Jimenez has actively joined protest rallies and legal actions led by Aleo and the Aleco Multi-Sectoral Stakeholders Organization (Amsso) against the APEC.

Late last week, he filed a case against the APEC for theft and illegal disconnection while Imperial disclosed that the APEC is readying charges against MPCF for illegal connection.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/

MGP ‘I-smile’ project in Masbate enters second year
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE CITY Dec. 16 (PNA) --– The Masbate Gold Project (MGP) will hold its second annual medical mission, dubbed as “I-smile,” in the province of Masbate by January or February next year.

As part of MGP’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, MGP has been hosting the project “I-smile” of the Interplast Foundation, which provides free constructive facial treatment to poor children suffering from cleft lips/palate and burns.

Gene Gregorio, MGP communications director, said Tuesday that the MGP medical mission held a three-day mass screening of patients in MC Hospital on Dec. 11-13, in Cataingan Municipal Hospital on Dec. 13 and in Aroroy Municipal Hospital on Dec. 14.

The mission was headed by MGP special operations manager Florencio Cayco, company physician Dr. Jonathan Ang and Department of Education nurses in the province.

It was the second medical activity of a three-year-round medical mission of MGP in the entire province of Masbate, which started in early 2014 and will end in 2016.

Gregorio said the mission would possibly extend by 2016 onwards.

The project “I-smile” of MGP offers the highest level of medical care to children and adults suffering from intuitive facial deformations so that they can experience care and compassion and live a normal life,

It will be carried out by surgeons, anesthesiologists, speech pathologists and nurses from Australia in cooperation with the provincial government and the city government of Masbate, Interplast Team, Masbate Medical Society, Caritas Masbate, Pambansang Samahan ng mga Nars, Masbate Hospital, Health Services Cooperative, DepEd and local nurses.

Gregorio said the MGP shoulders the expenses of patients like transportation, accommodation, food and other incidental expenses during the screening and actual operation.

The team of Australian and Filipino practitioners will bring their own medical supplies and equipment.

DepEd nurses helped in the selection and recommendation of patients while the provincial, district and municipal hospitals and the City Health Office played an important role during the enlistment of patients.

Walk-in patients also have a chance to join if they can pass the medical screening process.

Other towns like Claveria in Burias Island and those in the Second District joined the screening at the MC hospital from Thursday to Friday last week while Dimasalang, Palanas, Pio V. Corpus, Cataingan and neighboring towns had their medical screening at the Cataingan Municipal Hospital on Saturday.

The activity was organized and managed by the MGP headed by its key officials: resident manager Bon Latuga, community relations manager Ramon Velasco, Ang, Cayco and Gregorio.(PNA) RMA/FGS/NBT/CBD/

910 newly-promoted police officers sworn in

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 16 (PNA) -- A total of 910 members of the Police Regional Office 5 who recently passed the promotion process formally took their oath after the pinning of ranks before Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, PRO5 director, in a program held Monday after the flag ceremony at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here.

Deona said those promoted consisted of police superintendent, 19; chief inspector, 16; senior inspector, 26; inspector, 1; senior police officer 4 (SPO4), 97; SPO3, 41; SPO2, 143; SPO1, 283; PO3, 177; and PO2, 167.

The newly promoted officers are well distributed all over the Bicol Region, he said.

The region had a quota of 1,057 for the promotion of officers from the rank of PO2 to police superintendent but only 910 qualified, the police official added.

“The newly promoted police officers and their relatives were very happy for the early Christmas gift they received in return for their dedication to service,” Deona noted. (PNA) SCS/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Monday, December 15, 2014

20 Legazpi villages bag good solid waste management awards
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- The City Government of Legazpi has cited with honors and cash incentives 20 of the city’s 70 villages that have shown outstanding performances in ecological solid waste management practices this year.

This environmental achievement search is a yearly activity being initiated by the City’s Environment and Natural Resources Office to examine the implementation of the barangays regarding the proper way of disposing the garbage at their respective areas.

The selection of winners in this year’s competition was based on the criteria of segregation at source, segregated collection (No segregation, no collection policy), collection coverage, operation and maintenance, barangay initiatives and apprehension of violators.

“The success of the implementation of our solid waste management program is a luminous symbol of Legazpi’s identity as a strong modern city that maintains healthful and environment-friendly communities,” said Mayor Noel E. Rosal who handed over the certificates of commendation and rewards to the awardees during the Christmas Party and awarding ceremony at the City Hall compound on Friday.

The three topnotchers among the ten under the Small Barangay Category of the city’s Search for Outstanding Solid Waste Management Program implementers were the villages of Sabang headed by its Punong Barangay (PB) Ismael Buban, with an average rating of 94.52 percent; followed by Barangay Maoyod under the leadership of PB Manuel Omnes, with an average of 94.15 percent; and 3rd place, Barangay Tamaoyan led by PB Sylvia Del Agua. with an average of 91.86 percent.

Each village received Php50,000.

The villages of Cabangan East headed by PB Nimfa Bolanos and Dap-Dap led by PB Marites Barcelon got the fourth and fifth places, respectively, and each received Php15,000.

The five other barangays that received Php10,000 each were Capantawan, Bano, Binanuahan West, Sagpon and Ilawod West.

The top three placers under the Large Barangay Category were Gogon headed by PB Perfecto Nacion, with an average of 91.75 percent; followed by Bigaa, PB Roberto Arienda, with an average of 89.83 percent; and, third place, Oros Site, PB Joseph Philip (JP) Lee, with an average of 85.33 percent.

Each also received Php50,000.

The fourth and fifth placers were Bitano, PB Joel Balinis, and Arimbay, PB Rozalina Gervero, with an average of 85 percent and 84.50 percent, respectively, and each received Php15,000.

The sixth to tenth placers, which got Php10,000 each, were the villages of Puro, Buraguis, Taysan, Bogtong and Bagumbayan.

During the awarding ceremony, Rosal commended all the winners of the search and urged all the barangay chairmen to continue to perform aggressively for the proper disposal of waste to maintain the cleanliness of the communities.

He also urged them to always remind their constituents, school superintendents and owners of business stablishments at their own respective villages to always support the city’s ecological solid waste management program to protect the residents from the dangerous effects of garbage to their health and maintain the cleanliness of the city’s surroundings.

The city chief executive explained that the implementation of the solid waste management program of Legazpi is in connection with Republic Act 9003 otherwise known as the Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000 and City Ordinance No. 0017, which both aim to improve the living condition of the people through proper environmental management.

On that same day, Rosal also awarded three winners in the choral competition participated in by different departments and offices of the city administration.

The first prize went to the City Treasurer’s Office, which got Php100,000; followed by City Budget and Planning Department, which received Php50,000; and third, City Agriculture and City Environment and Natural Resources Offices.

The six other participants received Php10,000 each as consolation prize. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EPS/CBD/SSC

DENR says Bicol done with measures to face challenges of climate change (Yearender)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- Measures that would keep Bicol ready to face the challenges of climate change are now in place, according to the regional office here of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The first four years of President Benigno Aquino III in power saw the DENR instituting sustainable precautionary measures that are now in place through comprehensive programs implemented to fortify the region’s line of defense and facilitate its preparedness against the negative impacts of the climate change phenomenon.

One of the most important components of these programs is the massive restoration of local watersheds and forest lands, including mangrove areas to serve as the first line of defense against typhoons, floods, sea surgesand landslides during the wet season and drought taking place during the dry season.

Bicol has a total of 543,000 hectares of forest land, out of which only 155,689 hectares had remained forested as of 2011.

Of these forested areas, 86,931 hectares are in the province of Camarines Norte and 68,758 hectares in Catanduanes province.

Camarines Norte plays host to the Bicol National Park (BNP), a government-protected area which is considered as one of the region’s remaining natural forests once confronted with rapid deterioration, even as it is a natural heritage site for its endemic tree and wildlife species, pristine rivers and other ecological wonders.

BNP covers 5,700 hectares of forest and considering that only 15 percent remains of the old growth, meaning only 760 hectares of its original grandeur had been left as of 2011 due to past illegal forest activities, its dwindled vegetation could have endangered the watersheds that also supply water to some 40,000 hectares of rice fields in the province.

These wrongdoings have already been checked; reforestation efforts are showing good results and the area is now regaining life towards its old vibrant form, according to DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales.

In Catanduanes, the region’s island-province most vulnerable to typhoons -- being the first landmass to be kissed by the waves of the Pacific Ocean, protection of the substantial forests, which stand still as the largest remaining forest block in the whole of Bicol, has been heightened, he said.

These forests include the Catanduanes Watershed Forest Reserve covering 26,010 hectares, which is now being evaluated to become a natural park with an expanded protected area of 49,000 hectares.

The density of forest cover in Albay has also been increased to almost double owing to relentless reforestation activities and vigorous environmental advocacies over the past four years.

The growth is measured by the DENR based on satellite imagery which indicates that the province’s forest cover increased by 86 percent between 2010 and 2014 resulting from robust environmental advocacies and activities despite the massive destruction inflicted by typhoons especially "Reming" and "Milenyo" that hit the province successively in the last part of 2006.

Albay has a total land area of 256,677 hectares, of which around 80,000 hectares covering key mountains and protected areas like the Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP), Mt. Pocdol, Mt. Malinao, Mt. Masaraga and Mt. Manaet are considered forest land.

Gonzales said, Albay’s forest cover was measured at only 26, 298.71 hectares or 10.25 percent of the province’s entire land area in 2007.

Over the next seven years or until this year, it grew to 44,891.16 hectares or 17.49 percent to post an increase of 18,792 hectares or an expansion of 41.42 percent over the total for a growth rate of 5.92 percent or 2,656.06 hectares per year.

“This is a very remarkable achievement for Albay, a province where about 73 percent of total land area is vulnerable to landslide and soil erosion due to its mountainous terrain,” Gonzales noted.

The DENR’s anti-climate change comprehensive programs on forest and watershed revitalization also cover Mt. Isarog Natural Park and Mt. Asog, both in Camarines Sur, as well as Bulusan Volcano Natural Park in Sorsogon, which are all part of the 25 protected areas in the region covering about 59,000 hectares of terrestrial, wetlands and marine or coastal ecosystems.

The National Greening Program (NGP), one of Pres. Aquino’s flagship environmental programs, generated the biggest impacts on these forest restoration achievements wherein nearly 15 million new trees, including mangrove propagules, have been put in place over the past three years largely through voluntary public participation.

NGP is a nationwide re-greening campaign launched by Pres. Aquino through his Executive Order No. 26 issued in February 2011 that intends to percolate the country’s green renaissance towards a more focused and unified interventions to achieve sustainable rural development.

The total log ban policy of the present national administration is another big help, Gonzales said.

Another key component of the DENR comprehensive anti-climate change programs is geohazard mapping that has provided local government units (LGUs) with maps that enable them to pinpoint specific areas where to focus disaster preparedness and mitigation measures for zero casualty during natural calamity situations.

The maps, technically prepared by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR, are now in the hands of Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils (MDRRMCs), particularly in 83 of the region’s 107 municipalities classified as highly vulnerable areas.

These geohazard maps, whose preparation and distribution are under the government’s Ready Multi-hazard Mapping and Assessment for Effective Community-based Disaster Risk Management Project, are designed according to geographic and tectonic settings with emphasis on areas highly exposed to natural hazards, Gonzales added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/SSC

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

‘Ruby’ no significant impact on Masbate Gold Project
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE CITY, Dec. 9 (PNA) -- Typhoon “Ruby” had no significant impact on the Masbate Gold Project’s (MGP) operations when it passed over the province of Masbate and its outlying islands, a top official of the company’s operator said.

The Masbate Gold Project is being operated by Filminera Resources Corp. and is the Philippines’ largest gold mining company based in the town of Aroroy in Masbate.

“Prior to the storm’s landfall, all safety precautions were taken to ensure the safety of personnel and neighboring communities. Equipment and supplies were safely stored ahead of time and personnel were placed in storm shelters,” Gene Gregorio, FRC spokesman, clarified.

Gregorio said that prior to the storm’s landfall, all safety precautions were taken by MGP to ensure the safety of personnel and neighboring communities while equipment and supplies were also stored safely ahead of time and personnel were placed in storm shelters.

Both mining and processing operations were briefly halted as a safety measure, Gregorio added, saying a report documenting MGP’s safe record during the typhoon will be submitted to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Preparations in the mine had been finalized earlier last week in accordance with our established procedures and the Incident Management Team (IMT) continued to review the situation as the path of the storm became clear,” he said, adding. “The mine site is well prepared for such events with established emergency measures and typhoon shelters.”

MGP stands by to provide local assistance if required.(PNA) RMA/FGS/NBT/CBD/