Friday, June 16, 2017

86% of 20-M poor Filipinos availed of DOH's free checkup, says Sec. Ubial
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, June 15 (PNA) —- Some 86 percent of the 20 million poor Filipinos nationwide have availed of free medical consultation and checkup since the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte launched the health program last year and made it accessible to the poor.

This was stated by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Pauline Jean Ubial during a press conference at noontime today at Daguinsin Hall at the Department of Health Regional Office in Bicol (DOH-5) here in this city where she led the 7th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Dengue Day celebration.

Ubial said DOH chose the poorest 20 million from among over 105 million total population in the Philippines, who could qualify under the program, because the budget of the government cannot provide for all.

She said out of the 20 million ,over 50,000 with various illnesses are scheduled to undergo free surgical procedures on June 1 in all hospitals owned and run by DOH and local government units.

She added there will be another medical consultation on July 1 which targets to provide for another batch of 20 million poor Filipinos.

Ubial said by which time, the program would have rendered free medical consultation service to a total of 40 million poor Filipinos for the second year of implementation of the program.

The DOH targets to include PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.) in the program so that it will be the latter which will pay for the medical consultation of other people seeking services in various government-run hospitals.

“This is because DOH wants to include the most number of Filipinos, whether rich or poor, who could be given appropriate medical services,” she said.

In Bicol, Dr. Napoleon Arevalo, DOH-Bicol director, reported they have implemented a free medical consultation program for the poorest members of the population in the region.

“Out of the more than five million population in Bicol, DOH-Bicol was able to serve the poorest 1.4 million Bicolanos in various communities,” he said.

Arevalo said the 1.4 million received free medical consultation in various DOH- and LGU-run hospitals in the region with support from some private hospitals.

“Most of them will undergo free surgical procedures, including those with cases of cleft lip and cleft palette,” he said.

DOH-Bicol was honored by DOH as a “topnotcher” among all the regions nationwide because of the “successful implementation” of its free medical check-up campaign.

Ubial said that with regards to the government’s free medicine program, DOH has started giving medicine in the entire country with help from the local health centers, rural health centers and other government-run hospitals.

“The government has allotted nearly PHP3 billion to DOH for free medicines for illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, tuberculosis and others,” she said.

On the other hand, the government gave PHP1 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) so it could help DOH distribute the free medicines for the poor which are in DSWD’s list. (PNA)

Ubial wants sustained fight vs dengue despite 32% drop in cases this year
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, June 15 —- The Philippines has shown a nearly one-third decrease in dengue cases this year compared to the previous year but there should be no let up in the country’s efforts to reduce the number of cases, according to Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial.

"We need to work together and join in the campaign to eradicate dengue cases in our society,” said Ubial who was here today for the 7th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Dengue Day.

Citing DOH data, she said there was a 31.8-percent decrease in dengue cases this year compared to last year, from 211,000 cases in 2016 to 143,902 cases in 2017.

Ubial said the call of the World Health Organization (WHO) is to have a 50-percent reduction in dengue cases by 2020.

She said the Philippines is among the countries in Asia and the Pacific which have a high prevalence of dengue cases.

“We bear nearly 75 percent of the global burden of dengue,” Ubial said.

She said with WHO’s help, the country has developed a dengue and prevention control program, a strategic plan covering 2017 to 2022, that will be rolled out to all areas of the country.

Ubial said the plan uses the 4S strategy against dengue or what is referred to as --“Search and Destroy,” “Seek Early Consultation,” “Self-Protection” and “Say No to indiscriminate fogging.”

The “ASEAN Dengue Day,” which enjoins the active participation of people in the communities for a more effective anti-dengue response, is an annual advocacy campaign that started in 2011 among the ASEAN countries that are committed to the prevention and control of dengue.

Undersecretary of Health Dr. Gerardo Bayugo and Dr. Guindo Weiler, WHO representative to the Philippines, officials from the Department of Education in Bicol and local government units in Albay graced today’s celebration here along with Ubial.

There was also a display of booths showcasing the good practices of all the provinces in the region with regards to dengue prevention and control while the winning entries in the dengue short film contest were also presented and adjudged.

But the highlight of today’s activities was the blessing of the “Public Health Laboratory and Regional Insectary” within the compound of the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) located in this city.

During a forum at the DOH-Bicol office on June 8 held as a prelude to today’s celebration, DOH-Bicol Director Napoleon Arevalo said the “insectary” is a facility that seeks to study mosquitoes and other insects that have “medical importance.”

“It will study insects like mosquitoes that bring about such diseases as dengue, malaria and chikungunya,” he said.

He added the goal of DOH is for the laboratory facility to serve as a diagnostic center for these diseases in the same manner as how the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine or RITM is operating for certain types of illnesses.

“Bicol is one of the pilot areas for such a diagnostic center,” said Dr. Arevalo.

In the same June 8 forum, Ma. Cecilia Pan, coordinator of the dengue prevention and control program in Bicol noted a 25 decrease in dengue cases from January 1 to June 3 this year compared to the same period last year.

“There were 738 cases recorded in 2016 compared to 555 cases in 2017,” she said. Pan added that among the six Bicol provinces, Camarines Norte showed the biggest decrease at 57 percent, followed by Albay at 42 percent and Catanduanes at 41 percent.

Arevalo said he would like to believe the decrease could be attributed to the effective partnership of DOH-Bicol with the Department of Science and Technology-Bicol and the local government units in developing and adopting a technology that measures the “density” of dengue cases in various communities in the region. (PNA)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bicolanos say martial law will keep people safe from terror groups

LEGAZPI CITY, May 29 -- A random interview with Bicolanos from the cities of Legazpi and Naga and the provinces of Albay and Catanduanes showed support for the declaration of martial law by President Rodrigo Duterte as they believed it was meant to keep the people safe from the terrorist groups.

They said they have friends in Mindanao who had shared that their feeling of security had been buoyed by the presence of the police and soldiers in their areas.

Rosalieh C. Luces of Legazpi City in Albay, said “martial law is for the safety of the people of Mindanao. It is needed because of the extreme violence of the Maute and terrorist groups in Mindanao.”

“The terrorists should be wiped out so they would not increase in number and get more outside support that would heighten their influence,” she said.

Kristine Lagman of Tabaco City, Albay, an architect and former president of the United Architects of the Philippines, Tabaco City chapter, said “violent extremism should be stopped at the soonest possible time”.

“I am more afraid of the terrorists than the imposition of martial law,” said Lagman who shared that her friends in Mindanao had told her they felt safer because of the declaration.

Maureen Cezar Camposo, a resident of Naga City in Camarines Sur, who had lived in Mindanao “for so long,” said her friends and relatives in Mindanao felt safer and more at peace due to presence of police and soldiers everywhere.

She said the declaration could cause immediate change as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) could easily suppress lawlessness.

Camposano believed “the President will not abuse his power.”

Orpha Barba, a resident of Bato, Catanduanes said President Duterte knew what would be beneficial to the people.

“The imposition will also stop the sympathizers of the lawless group in Mindanao," she said.

Barba said the AFP found it difficult to suppress the lawless group because of some people who had helped them escape.

“The visibility of the military and the full alert status of the PNP and AFP (in some areas) are ways of keeping the civilians safer,” she said.

Glee Pedrico, who has roots in Catanduanes but is now a teacher of Rang-ay Integrated School in South Cotabato, shared her experience with martial law. "There is martial law here but honestly “hindi malupit ang mga sundalo or kapulisan” (the soldiers and police are not cruel).

She said “they are only strict in the checkpoints and ask all passengers of private and public vehicles to disembark and show valid IDs.”

"We left for Davao from South Cotabato at 12:00 a.m. but there was no untoward incident that happened and we did not sense any danger (hindi naman magulo or delikado).”

Atty. Jeffrey Louis G. Ilagan, who regularly visits his relatives in Albay, said the effects of martial law would ultimately depend on the government who should uphold its mandate to serve and protect the people while the people must keep a watchful eye against any form of abuse that may be committed by the forces implementing martial rule.

The President, in his report justified the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus by citing the possibility other terror groups operating in Mindanao would take advantage of the situation, Ilagan added.

"The development may be considered as catalyst for salvation, it could be strong remedy that could swiftly end the extremist insurgency in Mindanao", the lawyer added. (Connie B. Destura/PNA)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Ligao City is 2016 'national rice achiever'

LEGAZPI CITY, May 29 —— The Department of Agriculture(DA) has recognized the local government unit (LGU) of Ligao City in Albay as a “national rice achiever” for 2016, the only one in the Bicol region to be included among the top performing 15 LGUs that contributed significantly to the country’s rice sufficiency program.

A post in the Facebook page of Ligao City said the LGU, which received a trophy and PHP1 million cash prize, won in the outstanding city and municipality category during the awarding ceremony held last week.

Officer-in-charge City Agriculturist Dexter A. Mendoza received the award for Ligao City while Mayor Patricia G. Alsua was represented by Ligao City Vice Mayor Sherwin Quising during the awards.

The other LGUs awarded in this category were Luna, Apayao; Solsona, Ilocos Norte; Santiago City, Isabela; Victoria, Tarlac; Pila, Laguna; Paluan, Occidental Mindoro; Talibon, Bohol; Hinundayan, Southern Leyte; Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur; Lala, Lanao del Norte; Hagonoy, Davao del Sur; Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat; Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur; and Valladolid, Negros Occidental.

The DA said the Rice Achievers Awards, an annual search that started in 2011, seeks to determine the impact of DA’s rice production interventions in achieving rice self-sufficiency.

The agency said among the criteria in selecting the rice achievers are increased rice harvest and average yield per hectare over 2016 levels, amount of budget devoted to rice projects and initiatives, number of farmer beneficiaries and degree of quality seed utilization.

Data from the Ligao City government showed the LGU has achieved a 143 percent rice self-sufficiency and 2.5 percent contribution to rice production in the Bicol region.

During the years from 2015 to 2016, the LGU recorded a 2.5 percent increase or 31,548 metric tons in rice production. The increase in yield was 5 percent for irrigated areas and 2 percent in rainfed areas.

One hundred percent of the rice areas in the city are planted to high quality rice seeds such as hybrid, registered and certified seeds.

In 2016, a total of 45 percent of Ligao City Agriculture office’s budget was allocated for rice program: PHP1 million for rice hybridization, PHP1.2 million for fertilizer subsidy, PHP 72,000-pest control program and PHP720,000 for inbred rice production.

The same data showed 10 agricultural extension workers out of 18 or 60 percent are assigned to implement the rice program which cover 3,229 hectares, including three coastal barangays.

Ligao City is also home to the PhilRice Bicol station that has given farmers’ easy access to different technologies, projects and technical assistance being offered by the station.

Aside from recognizing the 15 LGUs, the 2016 Rice Achievers Awards also honored seven provinces, four Irrigators Associations or IAs, three Small Water Impounding System Associations or SWISAs and agricultural extension workers whose performances contributed to the country’s food self-sufficiency program.

In Bicol region, 32 agricultural extension workers and five local farmer technicians were included in the roster of national rice achievers awardees.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the senate committee on agriculture, led the awarding ceremony for the Rice Achievers Awards that was held at the Philippine International Convention Center last May 23.

DA-Bicol Regional Executive Director Elena B. de los Santos, who was present during the awarding ceremony, said a separate awarding by cluster will be slated in June.

After receiving its rice achiever award Ligao City officials made a courtesy call on Albay third district Rep. Fernando V. Gonzalez, who has been acknowledged by the LGU for being “very supportive” of the city’s rice self-sufficiency programs.

Officials said the PHP1 million cash prize will be used to “further enhance rice production in Ligao City through its innovative and worthy projects.” (Gina V. Rodriguez/PNA)

Suspected gang leader, father slain in Masbate shootout

LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 —- An alleged leader of a local criminal group and his father were killed while four others were arrested following a shootout with police operatives in Mandaon, Masbate over the weekend, a belated report reaching the Police Regional Office (PRO-5) in Bicol on Sunday said.

Sr. Insp. Ma.Luisa Calubaquib, PRO-5 spokesperson, said Leonardo Del Rosario, a wanted person, and his father Norberto died from multiple gunshot wounds after a firefight with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Masbate Provincial Public Safety Company in Villa Alvarez Crossing, Barangay San Pablo, Mandaon at around 4:15 p.m. on Friday.

She said the police operatives were out to serve six warrants of arrest on Leonardo, but the group fired on the arresting team.

“Leonardo’s group is held responsible for a spate of killings, robbery and other crimes in the island province of Masbate,” said Calubaquib.

She said Leonardo’s group was suspected behind the slaying of former mediaman and Remate correspondent Joaquin Briones, who was gunned down on March 13 in Milagros, Masbate. The latter was well known for his "Dos por dos" radio program in Masbate.

Calubaquib said the lawmen recovered several firearms from the four other members of Leonardo’s group who were arrested after the shootout.

The four were identified as Arvie and Romeo, both surnamed del Rosario, Roger Paglinawan and Juni Almado.

Calubaquib said the four were known to be relatives of Leonardo. (Jorge Hallare/PNA)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Alaska Aces clean, repaint classrooms during Brigada Eskwela in Legazpi City
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, May 19 (PNA) -- Players of the Alaska Aces, one of the leading teams in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), including its head coach and assistant coaches headed early Friday to the Bagumbayan Central School here and joined the “Brigada Eskwela” activities involving the cleaning and repainting of school classrooms.

“We’ve been blessed and this is our way of giving something back to the fans and to the community,” said head coach Alex Compton during the activity that comes a day before the team’s match with Talk N Text Ka Tropa at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.

Alaska players Chris Banchero, Simon Enciso, Yutien Andrada, Carl Bryan Cruz, Kevin Racal, Jaypee Mendoza and Marion Magat, along with assistant coach Franco Atienza and other coaching staff helped Compton in completing the cleaning tasks.

While the cleanup was being held, other Alaska team members conducted a basketball clinic dubbed “mini-power camp” at the school grounds.

Alaska center Sonny Thoss, team captain Jayvee Casio and shooters Tony Dela Cruz and Dondon Hontivers joined coaches Louie Alas, Jeff Cariaso, Topex Robinson and Monch Gavieres in mentoring some 60 schoolchildren on the fundamentals of the sport.

Import Cory Jefferson and the rest of the players -- Vic Manuel, Nonoy Baclao, Jake Pascual and Chris Exciminiano -- joined the basketball clinic.

The Aces provided shirts for the participants, basketballs for the school and Alaska milk for the schoolchildren present.

Alaska hotshot Calvin Abueva, who was part of the Gilas Pilipinas national team that bagged the Southeast Asian Basketball Association championship held in Manila, also arrived Friday morning to join his teammates.

His teammates arrived a day earlier here on May 17 to meet with their fans and visited a local hospital as part of the corporate social responsibility of the team owned by Alaska Milk Corporation.

Brigada Eskwela is an annual activity of the Department of Education (DepEd) wherein “voluntary troops or brigades” of parents, teachers, students and other members of the community organize a clean-up in public elementary and high schools nationwide to clean and maintain the school facilities weeks before the start of every school year.

This year’s activity that began on May 15 has the theme: “Isang DepEd, Isang Pamayanan, Isang Bayanihan Para Sa Handa At Ligtas Na Paaralan” (One DepEd, One Community, One Effort for Ready and Safe Schools). (PNA)