Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cayetanos’ scholarship bill enlivens Bicolano youth’s college dream (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

CASTILLA, Sorsogon, Aug. 19 (PNA) – A consistent class topnotcher since her elementary grades, 16-year-old Babaylyn Barrios will be graduating from the public high school here next year with a gloomy prospect of getting into college because of poverty.

She also dreams of going to college but her mother—a widow for five years now and whose measly earnings from farming is barely enough for the immediate daily needs of the family—cannot afford it.

It’s a painful fact but like most of the thousands of Bicolano teenagers now in rural high schools, she has already admitted that college would not be possible for her after high school.

“Yes, I admit that I cannot go to college under our present economic situation but I am not giving up my dream of becoming a teacher someday, somehow. I want to take a path that is different from my peers’,” Barrios said after getting a glimpse of the works where high school graduates ahead of her have ended in.

Most of the boys are jobless and the girls—some of them house maids and several are dancers in Manila cabarets or elsewhere.

Others are tempted into early marriage and end up poorer with many unwelcomed kids, she lamented.

Barrios said she cannot give up her dream, especially now that her hope has been enliven by a legislative measure recently filed jointly by Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano that hopefully will be enacted soon to grant scholarships to top public high school graduates and compulsory admission to state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Alan Peter is chairman of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture and Pia, of the committee on finance.

Senate Bill No. 2275 or Iskolar ng Bayan Bill, when passed into law, will mandate SUCs to annually give outright admission and scholarship privilege to public high schools graduates who belong to the top 10 of their respective classes.

It will cover all SUCs, except the University of the Philippines because of its institutional autonomy as the national university under Republic Act No. 9500 or the "University of the Philippines Charter of 2008"; “provided, that the University shall come up with its own scholarship programs for the Top 10 students from public high schools.”

The likes of Barrios, who certainly will graduate next year with the top 10 based on his impressive scholastic records, will be among the over 6,000 graduates from 653 public high schools across the Bicol region.

Nationwide, there are 7,913 public secondary schools operating as of this school-year 2014-2015 from where 79,130 would qualify to the grant.

In its Declaration of Policy, the bill said the “State is mandated to increase access to quality education to alleviate poverty and promote the intellectual well-being of the youth. It shall likewise give priority to measures that reduce social and economic inequalities. As such, it is the policy of the State to democratize access to education at the tertiary level and make higher education available to underprivileged but deserving students.”

The scholarship grants, it said, will be in the form of free tuition fee and other school fees to the Iskolar ng Bayan in all SUCs; reasonable textbook allowance per academic year as may be determined by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) based on annual inflationary rates; and reasonable monthly living allowance based on the cost of living as determined by National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for full scholarship.

“This is one issue we could all agree on, no matter what political color you carry. That access to quality education is a right, not a privilege, even in the tertiary level. Let us provide Filipino families, especially the poor, the kind of education that would lift them up from poverty,” Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement reaching here Tuesday.

The bill has been approved on third reading by the Senate and has recently hurdle the appropriations committee in the House of Representatives.

“This is roughly 79,000 students who are sure of going to college if this measure becomes a law. It would mean over 79,000 poor Filipino family members who would be given the chance of waking up to a better future,” he said.

Cayetano said the enactment of this measure becomes particularly important now that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has been abolished by Congress, leaving some 400,000 scholars on their own to fend for their schooling.

“I wish and I deeply pray that this bill is enacted without hitches and delay. I am now pinning my last hope on it for me to realize my dream of going to college and be able to liberate my family from the bondage of poverty later,” Barrios said as she expressed gratitude to the Cayetanos. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Albay board OKs ordinance limiting use of ambulances

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay approved Monday an ordinance aimed at curbing blatant and frequent misuse of government ambulances, intended to be utilized for sick constituents.

Entitled “Regulating the Use of All Government Ambulances in the Province of Albay, and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof,” the ordinance is authored by 3rd District Board Member Rhederick N. Riva from Oas, and co-authored by 3rd District Board Member Herbert S. Borja from Polangui.

It aims to make government ambulances readily available to transport the seriously sick and injured patients requiring immediate medical treatment to or from a facility to another that is sufficiently equipped to handle the matter and save lives.

The legislation states that it has been observed that in many instances, government ambulances have been gravely misused, to the detriment of the public, whereas said vehicles have been seen in recreational areas where they have no business being there.

"There were cases where fees have been collected for their use, defeating the very purpose they were purchased for," Riva said.

According to the ordinance, it is unlawful for public officials or employees to use government ambulances for personal use or as an office service vehicle and it shall also be unlawful to use these vehicles for transporting patients deemed not in a medical emergency situation.

Whether with fees or not, government ambulances cannot be used for private purposes but government officials or employees shall not refuse the use of any government ambulance by patients who cannot pay fees, nor should there be any deprivation of use to any individual due to their gender, religious beliefs, economic status, or political affiliations; and government ambulances cannot be used to transport cadavers.

"There are exceptions though given to the use of government ambulances in non-emergency situations and these include the use of the vehicles in official and authorized medical outreach missions and other hospital services and operations related to medical missions, delivery of medicines and other medical supplies," Riva explained.

Public officials or employees caught violating this ordinance shall be penalized, after due process, with a P1,000 fine, and or imprisonment of one month for the first offense.

Second offense entails a fine of P2,500 and or six months of imprisonment; and being caught for a third time will result in a fine of P5,000 and or imprisonment of one year, without any prejudice to the filing of appropriate administrative charges. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Legazpi wins Galing Pook award
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 18 (PNA) -– Recognizing its excellence in local governance, the Galing Pook Foundation has adjudged this city as one of the 10 winners of this year’s Galing Pook Awards.

“The panelists of Galing Pook Awards have unanimously chosen your presentation as one of the 10 Galing Pook awardees for 2014. Congratulations for a job well done in your city. See you in Malacañang (for the awarding) on Oct. 21,” Dr. Eddie Dorotan, the foundation’s executive director and awards chairman, said in text message received by Mayor Noel Rosal over the weekend.

Interviewed on Monday, Rosal told the PNA here that his administration’s public-private partnership (PPP) undertakings that have been proven effective in the implementation of high-end development projects in the city was the program he presented and won the Galing Pook Awards.

His administration’s flagship project implemented through PPP, Rosal said, is the Legazpi Central Grand Terminal, a P300-million deal which was completed without the local government spending even a single centavo as it is being done under the build-operate and transfer scheme.

Located in a 3.9-hectare prime site owned by the city government, the facility -- developed by LKY Development Corp. and whose construction was completed in 2009 -- now serves as an integrated bus and other public utility vehicles terminal serving as the major transit point of the city.

The terminal has grown into one of the country’s best terminals, being a big boost to the local tourism industry and, together with the newly renovated Ibalong Centrum for Recreation (ICR), the site has also been developed into a central core for leisure and recreation.

The development within the terminal complex of a premier destination mall to serve as the main anchor for the development that would attract increased foot traffic and provide with a place where people can congregate and spend time together is now in the blueprint, also under the PPP scheme, Rosal said.

The centrality of the development of this project and its comprehensive and intrinsic integration of functions created a major destination point that rivals most developments in the region as its unique character and vast scope create myriad opportunities for growth and economic progress, he said.

Rosal said the PPP program won for the city the Galing Pook Award under the Ten Outstanding Local Governance Programs as it was able to show positive results and impact, promotion of people's participation and empowerment, innovation, transferability and sustainability, and efficiency of service delivery.

“This Galing Pook Award would further give rise to a relatively young and dynamically growing demography of the city and demonstrates the determined and persevering character of Legazpeños as they live under the shadow of Mayon Volcano,” Rosal said.

Galing Pook traces its beginnings in 1993. The Awards Program was a joint initiative of the Local Government Academy–Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Ford Foundation and other individual advocates of good governance from the academe, civil society and the government.

The Asian Institute of Management administered the awards program until 2000; however, the Galing Pook Foundation was formally established as a private awards giving body in 1998 to sustain the Awards Program.

In its almost two decades of existence, Galing Pook has become a leading resource institution continuously promoting innovation and excellence in local governance.

It proactively searches and recognizes best local government practices and facilitates their adoption in more communities in the country. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Escaped prisoner seriously wounded in shootout with arresting jail guards

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 18 (PNA) -– A prisoner who had earlier escaped from the Masbate Provincial Jail was seriously wounded while his companion was caught when they resisted arrest and engaged arresting jail guards in a shootout at their hideout in Sitio Camila, Barangay Baang, Mobo, Masbate, on Monday morning.

A police report identified the wounded escapee, who is now being treated and under heavy guard at the Masbate Provincial Hospital, as Arnold Sampaga, 26 and single, and his companion as Randy Ramos, 24 and single – both prisoners of the Masbate Provincial Jail who escaped last week.

The report said provincial jail guards led Jail Officer Artemio Ibanes got a tip that the suspects were in their target area and swooped at the identified residence at about 10:00 a.m.

Armed with a .45-caliber pistol, Sampaga, however, slugged it out with the jail guards and got shot at his chest and body.

Upon seeing the futility of resisting, Ramos surrendered to the jail guards and was returned to his cell where he is detained for a murder case with Sampaga.

Sampaga and Ramos had been a subject of a manhunt launched by jail authorities immediately after they escaped from detention.

Ibanes thanked residents who had tipped them off on the location of the two prisoners. (PNA) FPV/FGS/EMC/CBD/UTB

Albay prepares for Mayon ‘big bang’

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 18 (PNA) -– The present condition of Mt. Mayon may lead to a big explosion, Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) resident volcanologist said Monday.

Laguerta issued the statement during the Mayon condition assessment meeting led by Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda and attended by officials of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) and local government unit executives at the AECID conference room of the APSEMO building here.

Laguerta said it has been four years now since the volcano last erupted in 2009.

He said in the past, Mayon usually erupted within an interval of 7-12 years. Its recent eruptions, however, occurred within an interval of just 3-6 years, he added.

The veteran volcanologist cited as an example the eruptions in 1993, 1999, 2001, 2006 and 2009.

Laguerta stressed the importance of close monitoring of the activities of Mayon physically and through the Phivolcs' various instruments on the geophysical, geochemical and geodetic aspects of the volcano.

The geodetic aspect refers to the shape of the volcano – and, he said, the volcano is inflated.

The geochemical behavior of Mayon, Laguerta said, refers to the volume of sulphur oxide (SO2) it spews, whose baseline is 500 metric tons per day.

He said the present volume of SO2 being vomited by Mayon reaches at least a thousand metric tons; while the geophysical aspect touches on the movement of magma inside the volcano.

The Phivolcs official said the lava dome that has formed on the mouth of Mayon reaches up to 30-50 meters high.

“Definitely, Mayon will explode though we cannot tell when,” he said, adding “It might be in the next few days, weeks, months or one year.”

Laguerta, however, assured that if ever Mayon erupts, it would not be sudden and it will be recorded by the instruments and be evident through the physical appearance of the volcano.

He said the first risk that will be brought by volcano would be ash puffs, followed by ash falls -- and these will not have signs or precursors.

He said the big eruption of the volcano will be magmatic, wherein there will be voluminous pyroclastic flows like in the 1984 eruption.

Laguerta said it has been 13 years since Mayon last erupted in 2001 when there was pyroclastic flow.

It was a lava flow in 2006 and 2009.

Jun Dalida, deputy administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, noted the increase in temperature in Legazpi City.

Dalida said the normal temperature in the city is only 32 degrees Celsius but it has now reached 34.2 degrees Celsius.

In this connection, Salceda discussed with the officials present the measures to be undertaken by the province based on the recommendations of the Phivolcs.

Salceda underscored the need for a massive information drive or communication with the public on the situation of the volcano.

The governor also stressed the need to bring to evacuation centers those who live within the six-kilometer-radius permanent danger zone.

He said the National Housing Authority was not able to fund their proposed relocation homes.

These include the 733 families in Camalig, 19 in Guinobatan and 3,222 families in Tabaco City. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/UTB

PDEA-Bicol seizes shabu, gun in CamSur raid

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 17 (PNA) – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Bicol has intensified its drive against illegal drugs in the region, netting another suspected drug pusher in Camarines Sur who yielded 52.59 grams of shabu worth Php 300,000.

PDEA Bicol Regional Director Archie A. Grande said Sunday that a report submitted by PDEA Camarines Sur Provincial Officer Agent Noe. S. Briguel disclosed that combined law enforcement operatives raided and arrested Nicanor A. Belleca alias Niknik in his residence in Barangay San Isidro, Tinambac, Camarines Sur.

The joint elements of PDEA, Camarines Sur Provincial Police Intelligence Service, Regional Public Safety Office Group and Tinambac police arrested Belleca at about 6:30 p.m. and seized from him eight heat-sealed plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance they suspect to be “shabu.”

Grande said the raiding law enforcers were armed with Search Warrant No. 14-065 issued by Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Pedro M. Redoña of RTC Calabanga.

The raiding team also confiscated a coin purse, a grey belt bag and .45-caliber pistol from Belleca.

Belleca is now under the custody of the PDEA Camarines Sur Office pending inquest proceedings. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/ssc

Salceda orders inventory of evacuation shelters as Mt. Mayon’s restiveness intensifies
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 17 (PNA) -- As the restiveness of Mt. Mayon continues to intensify due to magma buildup, Albay Governor Joey Salceda has ordered an inventory of school classrooms that could be used as evacuation camps of tens of thousands of Albayanos should the volcano explode.

Salceda's directive to local government units came two days after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert warning status of Mt. Mayon from Level 1 to Level 2 due to the abnormal activities of the volcano.

The governor wants local officials across the province to assess the classrooms, water, toilet facilities -- including solid and liquid waste disposal system, communal kitchen, medical station with provision for normal spontaneous delivery, breast-feeding corner and recreational space to ensure the comfortable condition of the evacuees in times of natural calamity.

He also reactivated the health emergency teams (HETs) to be dispatched to the different local government units to be affected by the Mayon volcano eruption.

The HETs are composed of rapid health assessment team, medical team, SPEED team, mental health and psychosocial team, nutrition team, and health promotion team and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) team.

He also alerted the ALbay HEMS emergency officers on duty at the Albay Operation Center at this early so that all disaster responders will be in place before the possible hazardous explosion of Mayon volcano.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, reported increasing volcanic gas emissions and slight but persistent swelling due to the intrusion of magma beneath the volcano while sulfur dioxide emission posts an average of 850 tons per day, higher than the normal 500 tons per day, for the past two months now. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/rsm

Popcom-Bicol holds forum on young adult fertility study

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) -– The Commission on Population Bicol regional office will hold a half-day Regional Dissemination Forum on the Results of the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS) at 1:00-5:00 p.m. Aug. 18 at Fiesta Ballroom, Central City Subdivision, Tahao Road, Legazpi City.

The YAFS is the 4th in a series of nationwide surveys on the Filipino youth, conducted since 1982 by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation.

It is one of the primary sources of information on sexual and non-sexual risk behaviors and their determinants at the national and regional levels.

The UPPI team itself will be coming over to present the results, according to Magdalena G. Abellera, PopCom Bicol regional director.

Abellera said YAFS covers a wide range of topics that are relevant to the youth such as education trajectories, labor force participation, relationships and roles in society, values and attitudes, in addition to the risk behaviors.

Findings from the YAFS series have been widely used in education and health and have provided the evidence base for health programs for young people by government and nongovernment organizations nationwide, she added.

YAFS 4 is co-funded by the Australian Government, the United Nations Population Fund, the Department of Health and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. (PNA) CTB/FGS/AMM/CBD/rsm

Being poor not hindrance to being happy family – Bongat
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) – Naga City Mayor John Bongat on Saturday stressed that being poor is not a hindrance to having a happy and wholesome family.

That’s why, Bongat said, the local government of Naga has institutionalized the search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya in Naga City.

The search, which is an annual activity conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, will be part of the celebration of the family week, which is every third week of September of every year, he added.

The Malasa family of Barangay Balatas is the 2014 Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya of Naga City; followed by the Braga family of Barangay Panicuasion, second; and the Palibino, also of Barangay Panicuasion, third.

The province of Camarines Sur also has its own set of winners who were awarded recently by Camarines Governor Miguel “Migz” Villafuerte and Buhi Mayor Rey Lacoste.

The first is the Victoria family of San Francisco, Buhi, Camarines Sur, as the provincial winner.

It is also this year’s regional winner and the Bicol’s bet for the national search.

The second prize is the Benosa family, a member of the Tabangnon tribe of San Francisco, Iriga City, while the third prize winner is the Camalia family of Bombon, Camarine Sur.

Lacoste said he felt proud and honored for Buhi for having a two-time winner in the search and this year’s participant in the national contest.

He claimed that getting the top prize for two consecutive years is a manifestation of a dedicated and efficient implementation of the program and the full support of the local government unit.

To compensate the hard work of the Pantawid Pamilya staff, the mayor committed to provide a bigger office space for the staff.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the grand winner for this year’s national competition will be from Bicol, the Victoria family,” Lacoste said.

Villafuerte, on the other hand, said he is very supportive of the DWSD programs and projects.

“We will aim to get the top in the national search. Everything will be possible if we are one. Let us join hands to have a change for the better and change for development,” the Camarines Sur governor said.

The winners received a cash prize of Php 5,000, Php 3,000 and Php 1,000 for the first, second and third prize, respectively. (PNA) CTB//FGS/JME/CBD/rsm

Albay promotes healthy lifestyle for employees
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government of Albay -- in partnership with the Department of Health-Commission on Population Regional Office 5, National Nutrition Council-Region 5, and Team Albay/OCD 5 -- has developed a series of activities which will promote the general welfare of its employees and several other concerned stakeholders in Albay.

The move is in line with the celebration of the National Nutrition Month, National Disaster Consciousness Month and World Population Day.

Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, in a memorandum, enjoined all officials and employees of the PGA to support and participate in one of the culminating activities lined up in the calendar of events scheduled for the celebration, the Healthy Lifestyle Promotion or HATAW, to be led by the Provincial Health Office HATAW team.

The activity is on Aug. 20 at the Peñaranda Park in Legazpi City starting at 7:00 am.

HATAW, a popular short physical program launched by the DOH in 1994, is a mix of exercise and dance which can be done almost anywhere and anytime.

Its popularity stems from the enjoyable physical training which involves fast body movements that result in the production of several progressive health benefits.

Due to the reduced physical activity that many office workers experience on a daily basis, PGA employees or any other office worker subjected to limited bodily movement are exposed to dangers that produce grave consequences to their health.

Studies have shown that the lack of adequate physical activity has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and obesity.

It also increases the risks of colon and breast cancer, high blood pressure, lipid disorder, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety.

With healthy employees and officers, the PGA and all other offices will be able to provide more than adequate service to their clients and their constituents. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/rsm