Tuesday, January 24, 2017

RPOC-Bicol convenes first regular meeting
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 23 (PNA) —- As newly appointed chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal convened the first regular meeting of RPOC Monday as it tackled plans for peace and order in the region, particularly the war against drugs, criminality and insurgency.

RPOC convened its first joint meeting with the Regional Management and Coordinating Committee so it could address the key issues on peace and order, said Eloisa Pastor, director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Bicol, who headed the secretariat.

She acknowledged the participants and declared the quorum of the members during the meeting that was held Monday afternoon at Venezia Convention Hall, Renaissance Gardens in this city.

Pastor said the agenda included updates on security in the region and implementation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Rosal echoed what President Rodrigo Duterte said during his recent meeting with local government officials in Malacanang--from the mayors to the governors--that he is seeking their support in the fight against “the serious drug problem” in the country.

“He (the President) asked all the governors and mayors to join the local police in this (illegal drug) campaign because this is what it takes now if we want to attain peace and order in our country,” said Rosal.

Chief Supt. Ramon Melvin Buenafe, director of the Police Regional Office in Bicol, gave an update on the accomplishments of Project Double-Barrel, the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) anti-illegal drug campaign and how majority of the drug-affected barangays in the region have been “cleared” of the problem of proliferation of illegal drugs.

He also reported on the PNP’s campaign against illegal fishing, gambling, mining and logging.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Drug and Enforcement Agency updated the RPOC members on the implementation of RA 9165.

Other member agencies of the RPOC such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Agriculture and DILG gave updates on projects that would benefit various villages in the region.

Early this month, the President appointed Rosal as RPOC chairman in Bicol, to become the first mayor to hold the post after it was previously headed by governors in the region. (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD/SGP

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Humanitarian group HAVMed schedules surgical-dental mission in Albay
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 20 (PNA) -- The Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Albay has announced the holding of a joint surgical-dental mission by non-profit humanitarian group Health Alliance of Volunteers and Medicine (HAVMed) in Albay’s underserved communities on February 20-24.

Daisy Adrales, Albay PHO nurse coordinator, said the mission is a joint undertaking of the provincial government, Department of Health (DOH) Bicol and Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) which aims to evaluate and treat the “underserved and unserved patients” in the 15 municipalities and three cities of Albay.

“The 2017 Joint Surgical and Dental mission is an undertaking of HAVMed and University of the Philippines (UP)- Manila through Ugnayan ng Pahinungod-Manila,” she said.

Dr. Rogelio G. Rivera, medical center chief of BRTTH, said the mission is primarily a project of HAVMed whose member volunteers from the United States seek to provide medical services to the marginalized sector of society.

“HAVMed’s primary purpose is to help with the medical needs of low-income families in impoverished communities in the Philippines through its medical missions,” he said.

On the other hand, Ugnayan ng Pahinungod is UP’s system-wide volunteer service organization.

Rivera, in an interview, said BRTTH will provide the venue for the mission.

“HAVMed will ensure that quality care rather than the number of patients attended to during the mission” will be the major consideration in conducting the activity, he said.

Rivera said BRTTH will extend the necessary hospital services and medical facilities during the patients’ confinement such as equipment, operating rooms, delivery room, dressing room and stock room for the equipment and supplies of the humanitarian group when they perform surgical procedures that will include minor and major surgery.

He said wards will also be made available for the pre-operative patients while there will be recovery rooms for the post-operative patients.

“Services to be given for free include thyroidectomy, cholecystectomies, hernia repair-Inguinal or abdominal, cystectomies, vasectomies, lumps and bumps excision, incision and drainage, circumcision, repair of mild to moderate congenital hand deformity and other hand deformities, vein stripping and carpal tunnel surgery,” said Rivera.

He said that being a partner of the joint mission, BRTTH shall ensure the safety and security of the humanitarian group within the vicinity of the hospital for the duration of the mission.

Adrales said the pre-screening of the patients will still be scheduled and patients who want to avail of the free surgical and dental services must coordinate with their respective Rural Health Units (RHUs).

"After the pre-screening in RHUs, the patients-to-be will go to the three district hospitals (in the province) for further screening,” she said.

Adrales said the final screening with the HAVMed team will be on February 19.

She said the provincial government as one of the sponsors of the joint mission shall facilitate patient recruitment and provide free transportation for patients from remote barangays. (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD/RSM

DOH-Bicol says Catanduanes post-typhoon victim died of severe dehydration, not cholera
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 20 (PNA) -— Health authorities, who made followup investigations of the lone post-typhoon Nina fatality, had confirmed that the 36-year-old farmer of Barangay Sto. Nino in Virac, Catanduanes died of severe dehydration due to diarrhea, and not cholera as earlier reported in the media.

France Genorga, food and water-borne diseases program coordinator of the Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol, said they conducted a revalidation following persistent reports in the local and national media that the farmer died of cholera and that this disease was fast spreading out in the typhoon-hit villages of Catanduanes where Nina made its first landfall on Christmas Day.

Catanduanes Health Officer Dr. Hazel Palmes confirmed that the dead, whose name was withheld, had been diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis with severe dehydration.

She said a fecal sample of the victim showed he was infected by “Entamoeba Hystolica,” a kind of bacteria, after reportedly drinking water from Inagasan Falls, a few meters away from Barangay Sto. Nino in Virac town.

Quoting reports from a DOH-Bicol inspection team, Palmes said some 12 samples collected from the different water sources at the Virac District Jail and in two villages with diarrhea cases had tested positive for fecal contamination.

Water samples collected from some faucets of the Virac Water District, a barangay waterworks system, and shallow and deep wells were found with fecal coliforms above safe levels.

Meanwhile, Engineer Connie Ramirez, DOH-Bicol in-charge of refilling station inspection, said that the two refilling outlets found positive with e-coli, already turned negative of the bacteria in recent tests.

She said they subjected the water samples from these refilling stations to at least three tests that all turned negative already from the ecoli contamination.

“When water samples from these refilling stations turned positive from ecoli, their pipelines were still busted by Typhoon Nina. But in the succeeding three tests after the lines were already repaired, the samples were found negative already of e-coli contamination,” Ramirez said.

Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua had earlier asked Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial to help them set up sources of safe and potable water in the typhoon-affected communities to prevent a possible diarrhea outbreak.

He asked for mobile filtration machines that could produce some 5,000 liters of potable water daily.

Diarrhea cases were reported to have hit Catanduanes as early as November last year. (PNA) LAP/GVR/SMT/CBD

Friday, January 20, 2017

International cycling event returns to Legazpi City
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 19 (PNA)—-Mayor Noel E. Rosal has announced the return to this city of the eighth edition of the cycling competition “Le Tour De Filipinas” on February 18 to 21.

He said 75 bikers from various international and local cycling teams are expected to join the four-stage competition in Southern Luzon that will carry the slogan “8s Amazing.”

Rosal said the event that will cover the same route as last year when it started in Antipolo City to Lucena City in Quezon, to Daet in Camarines Norte and to Legazpi City with the majestic Mayon Volcano as backdrop.

“It will be first international sports event for the city this year,” said Rosal.

He said the foreign squads will come from South Korea, Japan, China, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Spain, France, England and Australia.

“The local teams will be Road Bike Philippines, Team Kopiko Cebu and the Philippine National Team,” he added.

Rosal said in Legazpi City, the bikers will start their race from the City’s Southern Boulevard in Barangay Puro before going to Albay’s various towns and returning to the Boulevard to be able to circle the 360 degree Mount Mayon Volcano.

According to race organizer Ube Media Inc. Le tour De Filipinas is the only International Cycling Union Road Race in the Philippines duly sanctioned by the Union of Cyclists International, Philippine Cycling Federation and Asian Cycling Federation as a yearly professional road bicycle race. (PNA) FPV/GVR/EPS/CBD

Bicol police reports 'clearing' 80% of drug-affected villages in region of illegal drug problem
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 19 (PNA) -- A top official of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) said that 80 percent of the total number of barangays deemed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as drug affected in the region have been declared “cleared of the problem of proliferation of illegal drugs” during the past six months and two weeks since the government launched its war against illegal drugs.

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, PRO5 director, said data from July 1, 2016 to Jan. 18 this year showed that 466 of the 580 barangays have been “cleared” of the illegal drug problem.

PDEA records showed that there were 580 barangays or 16.7 percent of the total 3,471 barangays in the region which it deemed to be drug-affected when the campaign started.

“The remaining 20 percent or 114 barangays of the total drug-affected barangays are still under the PNP’S clearing operation,” said Buenafe.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said they declared all of these barangays as "cleared" instead of "drug free" because only the PDEA has the authority to declare it as drug-free.

Among the six provinces and seven cities in the Bicol region, Camarines Norte and Naga City in Camarines Sur were able to record a hundred percent number of cleared barangays.

In Camarines Norte, 81 of 81 drug-affected barangays were declared "cleared" as with Naga City, where 15 of 15 drug-affected barangays were declared “cleared.”

In Sorsogon, the percentage of cleared barangays is 98 percent or 98 of 99 drug-affected barangays; Masbate-93 percent or 62 of 66 barangays; Camarines Sur-85.9 percent or 141 of 164 barangays; Catanduanes-73.6 percent or 36 of 81 barangays; and Albay-31.3 percent or 33 of 106 barangays.

Calubaquib said PRO5’s Double Barrel Alpha campaign from July 1, 2016 to January 16, 2017 recorded 86,141 drug surrenderees (80,222 users; 5,919 pushers) in the Bicol region.

She said Project Tokhang was able to knock on the doors of 1,166,872 houses, arrested 900 drug personalities while 83 drug suspects were killed in police operations in the region.

In November and December last year, anti-narcotics lawmen were able to confiscate multi-million pesos worth of illegal drugs in the region.

These were in Barangay Palta Small in Virac, Catanduanes, where 359.7 kilograms of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) were seized, while in Barangay Sogod, Tiwi, Albay, authorities were able to recover 18 bricks of high-grade cocaine weighing 12.17 kgs off the sea waters of Sogod. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Phivolcs reiterates warning on Mayon, Bulusan volcanoes due to monsoon rains
By Samuel Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 18 (PNA) -- Local watchers of Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon and Mayon Volcano in Albay reiterated today the warning initially issued to the public by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) to avoid entry inside the mountains' Permanent Danger Zones (PDZ) due to the prevailing monsoon rains over Bicol for nearly a month now.

In Sorsogon, Crispulo Diolata, resident volcanologist at Phivolcs' Cabid-An monitoring station, said residents should not dare enter Bulusan's four-kilometer radius PDZ and its six-km extended danger zone on the southern slopes.

“Deposited thick ashfalls could be mobilized into lahar in case of heavy downpour due to the prevailing monsoon rains in the province,” he warned.

Diolata said that thick ashes ejected during the November explosion of Bulusan “merely dropped along its slopes” due to the absence of strong winds at that time.

"We would like to inform the public to refrain from entering the danger zones of Bulusan because heavy downpour is likely to mobilize the latest ejected ashes into lahar," he said.

Phivolcs’ latest bulletin is reminding people living within valleys and along river or stream channels, especially on the southeastern, southwestern and northwestern sectors of the volcano, to be vigilant against sediment-laden stream flows and lahars in case of heavy and prolonged rainfall.

It recorded four volcanic earthquakes on Bulusan in the past 24 hours.

Bulusan Volcano remains at alert level one, which means that hydrothermal processes are underway beneath the volcano that may lead to steam-driven or phreatic eruptions.

Phivolcs said pilots should avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden phreatic eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.

In Albay, volcano watcher Jude Mallorca said they were having difficulty making physical observations of Mayon in the past days due to thick clouds brought by the monsoon rains.

He said, however, that Phivolcs’ instruments have not yet detected any lahar movement along Mayon's slopes.

Mayon volcano remains under alert level one, which means it is in an abnormal condition.

Mallorca reiterated their warning to the public that while magmatic eruption is not imminent over Mayon, “the public should not enter the six-kilometer PDZ due to the occasional heavy downpour over Mayon.”

Phivolcs latest Mayon bulletin added that “active stream or river channels and those identified as perennially lahar-prone areas on all sectors of the volcano should also be avoided, especially during extreme weather conditions when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall."

It said there is also the perennial life-threatening dangers of rockfalls, landslides and avalanches at the middle to upper slopes, sudden ash puffs and steam driven or phreatic eruptions from the summit.

But despite the warning, Mallorca said some farmers and orchid pickers continue to be spotted inside the 6-km PDZ.

Three volcanic earthquakes were recorded over Mayon during the past 24-hour monitoring period.

Phivolcs maintains close monitoring of Mayon Volcano and will report any new development. (PNA) LAM/GVR/SMT/CBD/RSM