Monday, July 28, 2014

Police rescue female teenager from pot session

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) –- A speedy relay of information to authorities saved a 16-year-old girl from a group of drug addicts having a pot session inside the Golden Leaf Hotel on Misericordia St., Barangay Tinago, Naga City, Friday night.

Rescued was Sherrybel (not her real name), a student and resident of the city.

A police report named the suspects as Jhon Josua Abad, 22; Jarid Ortua, 21; Jun-Jun Lopez, 19; and Phil Alfred Atos, 21 – residents of different barangays in the city.

The report said the operation was conducted at about 6:55 p.m. Friday after the mother of the teenager went to the police office to report that she had received information that her daughter entered the hotel with the four suspects and went inside Room 203.

The police immediately set up the rescue operation and found that the suspects were taking shabu.

They recovered from the room several plastic sachets containing shabu, cash, a cellphone, digital weighing scale and drug paraphernalia.

The authorities believed that the four suspects had a bad intention in the girl who, they said, was already drugged at the time of rescue.

The girl’s mother profusely thanked the texter who informed her about her daughter’s whereabouts.

The police are now investigating the suspects as to where they got the supply of the illegal drug which they also sell to students in the city. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/rsm

6 Bicol provinces, one city included in search for PHL's 100 millionth babies
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- Seven of the 100 millionth babies to be born at exactly 12:06 a.m.on Sunday, July 27, will come from the six provinces and a city in the Bicol Region, the home of 5,420,511 Bicolanos.

Magdalena G. Abellera, Bicol regional director of the Commission on Population (PopCom), said the city will yet to be selected through drawing of lots from among the seven Bicol cities.

The winners will receive P5,000 worth of starter kits, which may include cloth diaper, clothing, baby bag, blanket and other baby accessories.

Abellera said the general guidelines on the search for the 100 babies who will be born to symbolize the 100 millionth Filipinos are: the babies are born at exactly 12:06 a.m. on July 27; should have been born in a government licensed health facility, whether national or local, and run by the national or local government; the baby's parents should be residents of the city or town in the province where the health facility is located; and the baby is born through normal, spontaneous delivery.

Induced birth or caesarean operation will not be accepted.

To ensure simultaneous timing of birth nationwide, she said, the health facility must be observing the Philippine Standard Time, and certified by the attending doctor or birth attendant.

"In case of a tie, a member of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) will be given additional weight," Abellera said.

She said the local government unit or the local chief executive should be present in the health or birthing facility on the date and time of the newborn to account for the "new constituent" in his locality.

"Provinces and cities taking part in the search will be given a week to report the baby's birth to PopCom," Abellera added.

The official said the event signifies a happy and challenging demographic moment in the lives of the Filipinos.

"On this day (July 27), the 100 millionth Filipino baby will be born, marking a celebration of life and a prospect for another productive citizen if proper care for his/her growth will be accorded sustainably," Abellera said, adding that "The 100 millionth Pinoy will usher a symbolic hope for better quality of life for every Filipino as he/she epitomizes the challenge to make every Filipino count in prosperity and development."

The projected count of 100 millionth baby is based on the population count in the country, she added.

Overseas Filipinos are not included in the count. (PNA) CTB/FGS/SMT/CBD/rsm

Salceda asks help of Cabinet members for early restoration of power service in Albay
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- Governor Joey Sarte Salceda on Saturday said he has asked the assistance of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras and National Electrification Administration head Edith Bueno for the restoration of power service in the entire Albay province within two weeks.

"Gov, per Ellen Go, restoration is within two weeks po. On sked ang APEC, she said, and this has been properly disseminated," was Bueno’s answer to the governor.

Earlier, Salceda expressed irritation on the announcement of the Albay Power Energy Corp. (APEC) that the electricity supply in the entire province will be restored in October this year yet.

This announcement raised the eyebrows of power consumers in the province.

“The restoration schedule of APEC wherein the last village to be given power service will still be in October is foolish,” Salceda said.

He said the absence of power is a big loss to the economy of Albay and that the APEC should double time in their power service restoration efforts for the sake of the 1.3 million Albayanos and also, to prevent further losses for the company itself.

"Those schedules being released by APEC refer to the deadline for the last barangay to be energized in a particular locality. I told them that this is insane. Anyway, it is a loss-loss situation for all of us. They lose money and we suffer, too. The best way is to look at doubling the restoration efforts as an investment and to insure them against future losses so there will be spontaneous funding," he clarified

The restoration schedule of APEC was announced by Jane Rogando, company spokesperson.

Electricity was first restored in backbone lines in APEC’s three service centers in the province -- Tabaco, Legazpi and Ligao cities.

Next will be the lateral or interior lines which are part of distribution lines of APEC down to the barangay level. Rogando also said earlier that the town of Malinao has two feeders and power service in the area is expected to be restored in Feeder 1 on July 30 and in Feeder 2, on Aug. 31.

The four feeders in Tabaco City will have power supply on Sept. 30.

On Branch II in Legazpi City – composed of Bitano and Washington feeders – power will be restored as follows: Bitano Feeder 1, July 29; Feeder 2, Aug. 8; Feeder 3, Oct. 15 and Feeder 4, Sept. 15.

At the Washington substation: Feeder 1, Aug. 3; Feeder 2, Aug. 30; and Feeder 3, Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, in Branch III, the APEC cannot yet issue the exact restoration schedule because it is still assessing the effects of typhoon “Glenda” in the area.

Rogando said their office has already issued its weekly restoration plan.

She clarified, however, that the schedule of dates of power restoration is subject to changes, depending on the extent of damages in a particular area. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/rsm

PopCom to launch interactive youth portal in Bicol
By Ma. April M. Mier

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- The Commission on Population (PopCom) will launch a teen resource portal on Aug. 29 to deliver critical information on sexual debut to Filipino teens in the Bicol Region.

The online portal or the U4U (You-for-You) is a dynamic and interactive website that allows teen users aged 10 - 19 to learn about self-identity, friendship and health advocacy to delay sexual debut and prevent sexually transmitted infections, Josephine Chua, PopCom Planning Officer IV, said.

With the 1.46-percent increase in population growth Bicol, there is need to start and reiterate awareness among youth, she explained.

"This would be of great help to youth, instead of browsing at any other sites, in here they can know themselves more through interactive portal and, thus, prevent early sexual debut," Chua stressed.

Study shows that due to exposure to technology, there is an increase in the rate of teenage pregnancy, she added.

“The sexual behavior of these people changes due to access to pornographic materials,” the PopCom official said.

The Youth Hub is also supported by UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Interested youth will just need to register in the site and fill out personal information wherein they can post their questions and seek for answers and counseling.

"Hopefully, we can help them learn to say "no" (in sex) because I believe being in a relationship at their young age can not be permanent," Chua added.

It can be done also through an Interactive Voice Response System through an automated mobile service that gives a recorded information to teens who will send a "U4U" text message to dedicated phone numbers -- Globe: 0915-523-8885, Smart: 0908-158-8885 and Sun: 0942-843-8885 -- and the texter will wait for a free call from the system where he/she can ask questions on teen health, sex and other concerns.

It is dubbed with a line "Para sa tanong na hindi matanung-tanong, ito ang sagot, Mag text... Magtanong... at Matuto."

The PopCom started the pre-test or pilot stage in November 2013 in other cities and officially launched it on Jan. 15 in Ligao City, Albay. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MAMM/CBD/rsm

(SONA) Bicolanos see full resumption of PNR trips under PNoy administration

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) -- Bicolanos are confident that they will once again see the famed Bicol Express train cutting through regional borders between this city and Manila, moving people and goods in less expensive means within the remaining two years of the term of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III.

That confidence was built by the recent enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 10638 that extends the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) for another 50 years starting last June 20, Marcial Toangqui, a prominent local businessman who once served as president of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on Friday said.

The same law amended RA 4156 -- the Act that created the PNR "as a corporation to serve as the instrumentality of the Government of the Philippines in providing a nation-wide railroad and transportation system, which shall exist for a term of 50 years from its approval” on June 20, 1964.

“Masaya ito pagka bumiyahe na uli ang tren dito sa atin.

Marami ang magkakaroon ng pagkakakitaan, katulad naming mga nagtitinda ng pagkain at mga nagbubuhat ng mga kargamento (It will be fun once the train resumes its trips here. Many will be provided with earning opportunities, like us food vendors and the baggage boys),” Pamela Lopez, a 60-year old carinderia owner here, said.

She said hopes are high on her part and many Legazpeños that the administration of Pres. Aquino will be able to bring back the trains to this city before he finishes his term in 2016.

She recalled that PNR trips last arrived at the PNR Central Terminal here more than 30 years ago and before that, commerce was alive within the facility 24/7, owing to the trooping of hundreds of incoming and outgoing passengers daily.

The trains stopped serving the Manila-Legazpi route sometime in the late 1970s due to the deterioration of the railroad tracks between Calamba, Laguna, and here, which PNR was not able to maintain due to huge financial losses in its operations then.

Rehabilitation of the railways and other PNR facilities between the route covering a distance of 483 kilometers was first attempted in 2005 with an allocation of Php 35.15 billion and scheduled for completion by 2011.

The project, however, suffered a major setback when super typhoons "Milenyo" and "Reming" successively battered Bicol in 2006, rendering heavy damages on the railways between Naga City and here.

Plans then to restore the Legazpi trips were shelved even as the Naga City-Manila trips were maintained intermittently.

In 2011, the administration of Pres. Aquino pushed for the resumption of the rehabilitation of the damaged Bicol section of the railways, which was eventually completed up to Ligao City, Albay a year after.

Manila-Ligao trips were restored in early December last year, raising optimisms that rehabilitation works for the railway line down to here would be completed at once so that trains would be once more seen traversing its original route deep into the central point of Albay.

Train trips, famously called the Bicol Express, have been an important component of the regional economy because of its contributions to trade, tourism and transportation, according to City Mayor Noel Rosal.

He said that with the imminent restoration of train trips to here, trade activities would greatly improve as local products and those from manufacturers in Calabarzon and Manila would use the railways, thus, this would result in cheaper products, freight cost and fast travel time.

“Rail transport is the cheapest, while exerting competitive pressure on the other forms of transportation by increasing supply,” Rosal said.

He also noted that the rail transport is government-subsidized up to 70 percent anywhere in the world in order to equalize opportunities for the rural countryside and promote tourism as well.

For tourism, Bicol Express also offers a different and distinctive perspective of the countryside to tourists both domestic and foreign as it gives unrestricted view of the Mayon Volcano surrounded by the greenery of Bicol farmlands, he said.

“With Bicol Express, passengers have all travel options... rail, road or air options between this city and Manila and rest of Luzon,” the city mayor added.

According to Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of the lone congressional district of Catanduanes and who chairs the House committee on transportation, the resumption of the Legazpi trips would “close the loop” linking the North and South Rail projects.

“We recently conducted an inspection tour on the Southern Tagalog-Bicol PNR route to determine the physical condition of the rail tracks and gauge what assistance is needed to rehabilitate and modernize national rail operation,” Sarmiento said.

PNR, he said, is proposing for Php 11-billion budget for 2015 for the repair of the tracks and acquisition of new coaches that could help make it a viable alternative mode of transportation between the Bicol-Manila route.

The amount, which is for capital expenditure that is much higher than the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)’s recommended subsidy of Php 374.18 million, was proposed by PNR General Manager Joseph Allan Dilay during the recent public hearing of the House transportation committee, according to the Catanduanes congressman.

Sarmiento quoted Dilay as saying in the proposal that DBM’s recommended amount is not in line with the goal of the PNR to improve the Bicol line.

Under their proposed budget, which Pres. Aquino is very likely to approve, the PNR seeks to spend Php 5.2 billion to rehabilitate the line between Calamba City and this city; Php 3.65 billion to purchase new passenger cars, and the rest to acquire other new equipment, Sarmiento said.

On top of this, the state-owned rail company is seeking for another Php 625.8 million to repair the stations, bridges, and railroad tracks, he added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/cbd/utb

PCA allays fear of ‘cocolisap’ infestation in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) – When a news that the dreaded coconut scale insects (CSI), which the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) calls “cocolisap” had already reached the island- province of Catanduanes broke out, the agency’s regional office for Bicol based here was quick to declare it as a “false alarm.”

Not any coconut plantation in Bicol, which includes Catanduanes, has been detected by now to be affected by the pest that has been creating troubles in Southern Tagalog provinces, PCA Regional Director Mateo Zipagan on Friday said.

And while it is not impossible for cocolisap to reach Bicol when dispersed by the wind, Zipagan said his office and local government authorities have been keeping defenses fortified and making sure that it does not stage a “surprise attack.”

Also known as aspidiotus destructor signoret (Hemiptera: Diaspididae), CSI are small insects which are plant parasites that usually cause problems not only in coconut nurseries and young palms but also among those that are already bearing nuts.

Its enigmatic nature, which is very small and remains undetected for long periods — during which it rapidly multiplies before infested leaves show signs of yellowing, is a big problem being encountered by PCA in dealing with this pest, according to Zipagan.

On infested coconut plants, these insects reside underneath the leaves of young palms while in affected bearing palms, they are found not only at the underside of the leaves but also on the surface of the fruits and petioles.

These insect pests cause yellowing or chlorosis, wilting, premature nutfall and low yield because they continuously siphon off the plant sap with their specialized mouth parts.

Thick sooty molds grow on the honeydew excreted by these insects, preventing photosynthesis.

In the process, coconut trees die because CSIs block leaf pores, preventing leaves from producing nutrients for the tree.

So far, according to the PCA regional chief, coconut plants in Bicol, particularly in Camarines Norte -- the region’s province closest to Southern Tagalog, remain free of the pest and the news that broke out in Catanduanes about its alleged infestation in some plantations in the island was false.

What actually affects coconut plants in Catanduanes as well as in some parts of Bicol that the PCA is now actually attending to is brontispa (coconut leaf beetle), another plant-devastating insect that feasts on young coconut leaves, Zipagan said.

Some 18,000 hectares of coconut lands representing about 15 percent of the province’s plantations are affected by this pest, he noted.

It will not be easy for CSI to be carried by the wind and cross Maqueda Bay to reach Catanduanes but still, coconut trees in the island can be affected through birds that feed on the insects and fly to the island, he said.

To make sure that cocolisap does not stage a “surprise attack” on Bicol’s coconuts, Zipagan said, an awareness campaign has been put in place by his office in partnership with local government units (LGUs), initially in Camarines Norte.

The local media have also been tapped to help in the information dissemination drive to make the farmers more aware on how to combat the possible infestation, Zipagan said.

And to arm Bicol with effective anti-cocolisap fighting tools, the PCA regional chief said, mass breeding of predatory coccinellids (Cryptolemus and Telsimia) beetles that eat scale insects in the affected areas is also ongoing.

“We will release these predators once the CSI is detected in any part of Bicol,” he said.

On the other hand, the Albay Research Center (ARC), the study arm of PCA based in Guinobatan, Albay, is looking for sustainable long-term solutions -- one of which is biological control.

This initiative is being collaborated by ARC with the Bureau of Plant Industry’s Plant Quarantine Service and National Crop Protection Center, both of the Department of Agriculture.

CSI infestation started in some parts of Southern Tagalog Region in 2012 with a 3.62-percent infestation.

Last year, the pest was detected in Quezon Province and latest PCA reports said that as much as 10 percent of coconut plantations in the area has been so far damaged, with the amount of industry losses placed at around Php 170 million.

The same reports said the infestation is now nearing the doorsteps of Bicol as few areas are already affected in Tagkawayan, a town that borders Camarines Norte.

As another counter-measure, Zipagan said his office has set up a quarantine area at Barangay Tabugon, Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte, to monitor the entry of coconut products.

A one-kilometer-wide buffer zone straddling the Quezon-Bicol border has also been set up and monitored daily by technicians while more than 24,000 of the yellow-black beetles have been released into the field to help control the infestation in some areas.

Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan has already created a national task force to look into and implement necessary measures to address infestation, with Malacañang authorizing the use of Php 700 million from the coco levy fund in the fight. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/cbd/

Damages in regional agri sector hit Php 3.7B
By Johm Mark Escandor

PILI, Camarines Sur, July 25 (PNA) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Friday that the partial damage estimate in agricultural production and infrastructure a week after Typhoon “Glenda” hit the Bicol region reached P3.7- billion as of 12:00 noon Wednesday.

Camarines Sur incurred the biggest losses in all areas of the agriculture industry, with damages estimated at Php 2.3 billion or 62 percent of the total regional losses.

Albay placed second in damages to agricultural production and infrastructure with Php 0.8-billion losses while Sorsogon was third hard-hit province, having Php 0.2- billion worth of destruction.

Masbate’s agriculture industry lost Php 0.1 billion; Catanduanes, Php 0.1 billion; and Camarines Norte, Php 97 million.

Across the agriculture industry, coconut production damages were estimated at Php 1.3 billion, distributed as follows: Camarines Sur, Php 0.8 billion; Albay, Php 0.4 billion; Sorsogon, Php 0.1 billion; Camarines Norte, Php 4.6 million; and Catanduanes, Php 2 million.

The damages included fallen nuts, trees and trees with broken trunks.

Masbate had no reported damage to its coconut industry.

Other crops damaged were rice, Php 790 million; corn, Php 280 million; high-value crops, Php 756 million; livestock, Php 41 million; agri-infrastructure, Php 392 million; fisheries, Php 74 million; and abaca, Php 135 million.

The DA said its damage report included dryers, barns and shades for animals, office buildings and fences for agri-infrastructure.

Damages in fisheries included motorized and non-motorized fishing boats, gears, nets, paraphernalia, seaweeds, hatcheries, mangroves, fish corrals, fishcages, ponds, abalones and green mussels.(PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/cbd/

Friday, July 25, 2014

(SONA) DOT cites Bicol’s tourism growth as great contribution to achievement of development plan
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PNA) -– Halfway of the ongoing implementation of the six-year National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) of the Department of Tourism (DOT) under the Aquino administration, Bicol has already contributed greatly to the realization of its goal, according to the agency’s top regional official.

“As an strategy in the implementation of the 2011-2016 NDTP, we identified the institutional role and responsibilities of the DOT and the local government units (LGUs) in key areas of Bicol toward the strengthening of local tourism governance and policy formulation,” DOT Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla on Thursday said here.

That way, she said, DOT was able to strengthen support for LGUs by establishing provincial tourism units that now function as tourism awareness and capability building arms of the agency, leading to the realization of the goal of NTDP, she said.

This goal, she explained, is to create “an environmentally and socially responsible tourism that delivers more widely distributed income and employment opportunities as indicated by 6.6 million international arrivals and 38.4 million domestic travelers -- generating Php1.8 billion in total expenditures, contributing 6.78 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 6.5 million people by 2016.”

So far, Ravanilla said, DOT and the LGUs in key areas of the region have been able to implement sustainable tourism development infrastructure program and develop diversified tourism products that engage local communities.

Public-Private Partnership (PPP)-based mandatory tourism enterprise accreditation system was also implemented along with the lowering the cost of business that enabled tourism investments, she said, adding that natural and cultural heritage and vulnerable groups were also safeguarded.

With all of these and many more activities related to the implementation of the NDTP in Bicol during the last three years, the region realized a remarkable growth of the local tourism industry as shown by increased arrivals of both foreign and domestic visitors and travelers in specific key areas like this city, according to Ravanilla.

Last year, she said, Legazpi emerged as the biggest gainer in tourism growth by posting a whopping increase of 32.27 percent from the previous year’s volume of arrivals.

As recorded by the DOT regional office, the total arrivals of both domestic and foreign tourists in the city for the whole year of 2013 reached 579,470, which was higher by 141,370 over the 2012’s 438,100 figure.

Following this development, City Mayor Noel Rosal has declared that the city has set a target of one million arrivals by 2016 with the LGUs continuing development of more tourism products and its emergence as one of the country’s convention capitals or favorite venues for grand international and national gatherings such as conventions and summits.

Since the last three years, the city has been playing host to about 20 big conventions, conferences and similar crowds, the latest of which were the triple meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations-United Nations World Tourism Organization (ASEAN-UNWTO) all held at the Oriental Hotel here and attended by 32 member-states represented by about 2,000 delegates.

Indeed, from nothing special but Mt. Mayon, Legazpi has grown into a world-class city now that plays host not only to thousands of tourists and visitors but also to an influx of investments and massive urban development that continuously attract travelers, Ravanilla said.

And since tourism growth enlivens trade and commerce, the local business climate has also been made pleasant as investment opportunities go broader and more fortified.

Among the latest and most significant additions to the city’s commercial and tourism landmarks are the Central Bus Terminal cum Metro Hub and Lifestyle Center, a P300-million Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investment that refurbished the city’s public transportation landscape into a first-rate facility for travelers.

This development is part of the local government’s public investment that now works on the “mega highway” project funded by the national government to connect the city’s urban district with the Southern Luzon International Airport now undergoing construction in the nearby Daraga town and expected to be completed in the first half of 2016.

According to Rosal, the mega highway, whose prime section is the now-famous Legazpi Boulevard, will traverse several upland villages of the city and “will be our new investment haven and another site for our tourism industry development.”

Now, with this city on the lead as Bicol’s most-visited tourism destination, the DOT regional office has set the region’s three-year tourist arrivals goal at 5 million.

“Hitting this target would make Bicol a truly livable region where the reaping of the benefits from the local tourism industry left not any of the region’s six provinces, seven cities and 105 municipalities,” Ravanilla said.

Ravanilla, who also chairs the Bicol Regional Tourism Council (BRTC), said the five-million tourist target was arrived at following the recent formation of the “3Cs,” the cluster of three Bicol provinces-- Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur-- into a local tourism industry development alliance.

These provinces form the second cluster of Tourism Development Area (TDA) in the region as identified in the 2011-2016 NTDP.

The first cluster formed last year by the BRTC in collaboration with the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional office is the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Tourism Alliance (AlMaSorTA).

Then the formation of the “3Cs” was formalized through a covenant entered into among the three provinces represented by Governors Araceli Wong of Catanduanes, Edgardo Tallado of Camarines Norte and Miguel Villafuerte of Camarines Sur.

The covenant provides for the adoption of an inter-provincial tourism alliance strategy for local development with tourism as the main driver for economic growth and social progress, with the aim of uplifting the living conditions in the region and the three provinces by tapping their respective natural tourism resources, Ravanilla explained.

There are two sub-TDAs under this new cluster--the Caramoan-Catanduanes Tourism Link (CCTL) covering the tourism town of Caramoan, Camarines Sur and the entire Catanduanes area; and the Camarines Tourism Circuit (CTC) to cover the rest of Camarines Sur and the whole of Camarines Norte, according to Ravanilla.

AlMaSorTA, which was conceptualized as the tourism road map for Bicol, is designed to achieve development not only in the mainland provinces of Albay and Sorsogon but also in the island of Masbate.

It debuted its global exposure at the 2013 Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB)-Berlin as part of its integrated and comprehensive promotion strategy to market the potentials of the regional tourism industry, eyeing around 700,000 foreign tourist arrivals in the area annually within four years.

By featuring AlMaSor, which was tagged as the “Soul of the South” of Philippine tourism industry, ITB, the world's leading yearly travel trade held in Berlin, Germany on March 6-10 last year, notably helped increase arrivals of European visitors here and other parts of the cluster.

The cluster features Albay with its Mayon Volcano and the Cagsawa Ruins among the other tourism marvels of the province; Sorsogon offers its butanding (whale shark) interactions; while Masbate has its unspoiled world-class beaches.

Tour packages to these inviting destinations are offered to tourists, with this city taking the lead in view of its ethno-cultural logic and aggressive urban-rural development and making it known as the “City of Fun and Adventure” to the travel industry world. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Albay posts Php 7.6-B damage from 'Glenda'
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) – While Albay recorded no casualty during typhoon “Glenda,” the total damages in the various sector of the provincial economy ballooned to Php 7.6 billion, according to the latest report of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO).

Dr. Cedric Daep, APSEMO chief, said this could go higher as reports are not yet complete and these keep on coming from the 15 towns and three cities of the province.

Of this total, the infrastructure sector posted the highest, with Php 3.6 billion.

Damages to bridges and roads totalled Php 242.7 million; flood control, water irrigation system and provincial buildings, also amounted to about Php 242.7 million.

All these are under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Engineering Office.

Among the local government units (LGUs), the Municipality of Polangui registered Php 190 milion; Legazpi City, Php 100 million; Sto. Domingo, Php 64 million; Tabaco City, P23.2 million; Guinobatan, Php 23 million; Ligao City, Php 18 million; and Jovellar, Php 9.7 million.

The Agriculture and Fisheries sector registered Php 1.9 billion; coconut industry, Php 1.3 billion; vegetables, Php 386.8 million; rice, Php 166.4 million; corn, Php 18.2 million; and fishpond Php 0.4 million.

Livestock recorded Php 4.250 million.

Destroyed houses cost Php 2.2 billion, broken down into: totally damaged houses, Php 720.1 million; and partially damaged, Php 24.0 million.

Critically damaged houses were estimated at Php 1.5 billion and a total of 48,785 houses were damaged.

As a whole, the affected population in the province totalled 136,825 families or 711,490 persons while those evacuated totalled 100,936 families or 500,506 individuals.(PNA) LAM/FGS/NIM/CBD/

UN chooses Albay as global model in DRR-CCA

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) -- The United Nations (UN) has chosen the province of Albay, which is often visited by typhoons, as its global model in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate-change adaptation (CCA).

Private sector leaders expressed no surprise because, they said, local government authorities, headed by Governor Joey Salceda, have already established measures ensuring the safety of people -- including those living and working in far-flung communities -- during floods and typhoons.

In fact, Salceda now sits as co-chairman of the UN Green Climate Fund, representing Southeast Asia and developing countries, they said.

Albayanos and non-Albayanos in and outside the province noted that Albay again posted a zero-casualty score during the destructive pounding of superhowler Typhoon “Glenda” which swept across the province Tuesday night, uprooting trees and damaging billions of pesos-worth of houses, buildings and other infrastructures.

Crediting the residents themselves for the zero casualty, the soft-spoken but hard-working Salceda was even quoted as telling print and broadcast journalists that “taking care of themselves has become ordinary, as taking a bath or eating.”

Various quarters, however, attributed the zero-casualty record to the provincial government’s “pre-emptive evacuation” of residents, which was carried out by members of “Team Albay,” headed by Salceda himself.

Team Albay is a home-front emergency group organized by the Albay governor to spearhead mercy missions in the different parts of the country during natural and man-made disasters and other national emergencies.

Hours before "Glenda" made a landfall in Albay, packing center winds reaching 180 kms per hour, the team had already evacuated more than 65,000 families from risk areas to the safety of evacuation centers in various parts of the province.

Salceda pioneered pre-emptive evacuation and the “zero casualty” goal, which are now bywords in disaster risk reduction and adopted by the national government and many local government units (LGUs) across the country.

And for the sake of the Filipino people and the country, which is visited by an average of 20 typhoons and storms every year, other LGUs would do well to adopt Salceda’s highly-successful “pre-emptive evacuation” strategy, even national leaders said.

“Ito ay kung gusto nating walang mamamatay tuwing may bagyo o baha sa ating lugar (That is if we want no casualty in times of typhoons or floods in our area),” they added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/