Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Salceda urges SC to compel national gov’t to finds ways to cushion impact of SLEX toll rate hike

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 29 (PNA) - Albay Governor Joey Salceda on Monday expressed dismay with the recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling dismissing for lack of merit his petition questioning the authority of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) to approve the 250-percent toll rate increase in the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx).

In an emailed message, Salceda said the SC ruling "junking my petition over the SLEx toll rate increase would indeed affect in general the economic growth of Bicol particularly Albay whose economic momentum has already started to gain headway".

“My major concern is the P480 million annual net resource outflow siphoned from the Albay economy with annual amount of P82 billion in 2009 which would disrupt our economic growth thus our ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) especially the reduction of poverty” he stressed.

Salceda, in raising his concern, said he would urge the SC to compel the national government to find ways to cushion the adverse economic impact of its decision specifically on the welfare of small “viajeros” who depend on Divisoria trade, or fish dealers that rely on Navotas, and the ordinary motorists including students studying in Metro Manila or families visiting their relatives working in Manila.

“I am asking the Supreme Court to direct the National Government to offset such outflows by commensurately increasing its annual flows to Albay by way of higher Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) coverage, tertiary scholarships and support to our only SUC - Bicol University and capital investments in relocation sites and permanent evacuation centers.”

He said “If the justice system is able to compel that, then, the Supreme Court has spoken."

The high court in its November 23 resolution stated “Wherefore, the petition … is hereby dismissed for lack of merit. Accordingly, the TRO (temporary restraining order) issued by the court … with respect to this petition is hereby ordered lifted.”

While dismissing the Salceda petition, the high court did not rule on the immediate implementation of the toll increase.

Instead, the magistrates reiterated their position in the previous ruling on four similar petitions remanding to the TRB the issue of “propriety and reasonableness” of the toll increase in SLEx.

Salceda last June asked the SC to stop the SLEX planned toll fee hike, saying “toll fees should not be increased by mere contract between the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and its contracting parties through the Supplemental Toll Operation Agreement (STOA). Without notice and hearing, which are mandatory twin requisites of Section 3(d), P.D. 1112 (Toll Operation Decree), the increase in toll fees is null and void for the reason that such action violates a mandatory provision of law.”

With the 250-percent increase, private passenger vehicles would be paying P2.73 per kilometer over the current 82 centavos per kilometer.

Salceda said under PD 1112, the authority of the TRB to enter into contracts, in behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, extends only to construction, operation and maintenance of toll facilities.

“Clearly, the TRB has committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it entered into a contract which includes, as part of its contractual provisions, the determination and fixing of toll rates, including its increase, in clear violation of its express and limited authority under PD 1112,” he explained.

Salceda added that such massive increase “will prompt substantial negative consequences in the lives of ordinary citizens of the Bicol region.”(PNA)

Green Economist' bats for King Camote
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 26 (PNA) – How about “King Camote” for Albay?

Why not? For the province’s governor, Joey Salceda, his expertise in the fields of economics and finance added with his climate change adaptation and disaster risk management prowess earned for him the title “Green Economist”.

Now that he wants his province to be the camote capital of the country, perhaps, Albay would fit well as King Camote and the governor agrees.

“Albay is the country’s second largest producer of camote (sweet potato). I always cited this as one proof of the spontaneous adaptation of our people given our limited land suitable for rice as staple and the adverse impacts of climate change on rice production,” Salceda said in a statement posted Friday in his internet blog account.

“The province consumes 310,000 metric tons of rice and can produce only 150,000 metric tons. Thus, the recourse to camote is an adaptation given our upland capacity,” he said.

In 2007, Albay produced over 40,000 metric tons of camote from an almost 6,000 hectares of plantations distributed among the three cities and 15 municipalities of the province, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).

In the latest national data available with the BAS, the Philippines produced over 560,400 metric tons of camote in 2009 from 114,400 hectares of farm. This volume of production was valued at about P5.3 million.

In his latest trip to Seoul, Salceda said he found out that camote-based liquor was surprisingly widespread. “I was asking if the technology can be brought to Albay or we export camote to South Korea.”

“Also a month ago, a group representing a Japanese camote wine-making company and a scientist came over and made some documentations of our camote production/management/farming system,” he recalled.

“They showed interest on how we produce chemical free camote (our usual practice - because most marginal farmers plant camote and lack the necessary capital to buy inputs). They’re looking at the possibility of maybe using some promising varieties (“trescolores”- for wine making; and orange for fries),” the governor said.

The Wikipedia said orange-fleshed sweet potatoes may be one of nature's unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene. Several recent studies have shown the superior ability of sweet potatoes to raise blood levels of vitamin A.

Purple-fleshed sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are a fantastic source of anthocyanins (especially peonidins and cyanidins) and have outstanding antioxidant activity. In one study, the antioxidant activity in purple sweet potatoes was 3.2 times higher than that of a type of blueberry, it said.

An equally amazing fact about sweet potatoes is the antioxidant capacity of all their parts. Recent research has shown different genes to be at work in the flesh versus skin of the sweet potato producing different concentrations of anthocyanin antioxidants.

Even the leaves of the sweet potato plant have been shown to provide important antioxidant benefits and are included in soups in many cuisines. Sweet potatoes can be grouped into two different categories depending upon the texture they have when cooked: some are firm, dry, and mealy, while others are soft and moist.

“Some nutritional benefits from sweet potatoes simply may not be achievable unless you use steaming or boiling as your cooking method. Recent studies show excellent preservation of sweet potato anthocyanins with steaming and several studies comparing boiling to roasting have shown better blood sugar effects with boiling,” according to the Wikipedia.

The impact of steaming is particularly interesting, since only two minutes of steaming have been shown to deactivate peroxidase enzymes that might otherwise be able to break down anthocyanins found in the sweet potato, it added.

One of the more intriguing nutrient groups provided by sweet potatoes-yet one of the least studied from a health standpoint-are the resin glycosides. These nutrients are sugar-related and starch-related molecules that are unusual in their arrangement of carbohydrate-related components, and also in their inclusion of some non-carbohydrate molecules, the Wikipedia said.

In sweet potatoes, researchers have long been aware of one group of resin glycosides called batatins (including batatin I and batatin II). But only recently have researchers discovered a related group of glycosides in sweet potato called batatosides (including batatodide III, batatoside IV, and batatoside V), it said.

“In lab studies, most of these sweet potato glycosides have been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. To what extent these carbohydrate-related molecules in sweet potatoes can provide us with health benefits in these same antibacterial and antifungal areas is not yet clear,” it explained.

“But we expect to see increasing interest in sweet potato's batatins and batatosides and their potential to support our health,” it noted.

Salceda said “I have instructed our agriculture staff to contact Clarita Lapus of Mama Sita so we can work on something to improve the value-added to our camote farmers."

Lapuz is reportedly spearheading a campaign to popularize the humble camote among Filipinos. She describes it as one of the most nutritious foods that can be easily grown in the Philippines. (PNA)

Felariasis still lingers in five Bicol provinces -- DOH
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 25 (PNA) – Felariasis is still lingering in five provinces of the Bicol region due to high prevalence rate recorded by the Department of Health (DoH).

Mr. Camelo Aquino, DOH program coordinator on Felaria, Malaria and Dengue, said that only the province of Sorsogon has been declared free from Felariasis by the DOH and World Health Organization after massive treatment for the past years.

Aquino said that the provinces of Albay, Masbate, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes are still in the process of Mass Drug Administration (MDA).

“We are conducting MDA in order to achieve our goal to reduce the prevalence rate below 1 per 10,000 population and prevent the transmission of this disease,” Aquino said.

The DOH in now on its 8th year of MDA in five provinces. However, Aquino explained that they just started the first round of drug administration in the island province of Masbate. “Masbate is the latest because we found out the endemic in the municipalities of Claveria, Basud, Milagros and San Jacinto and this is why we decided to give MDA province wide.”

He said 60% of drugs buffer stock in the region have been set aside for the province of Masbate to make sure the mass drug administration among 12 years old. “The positivity rates of micro felaria and antegenes in this province is very high and we are conducting continued surveillance.”

Aquino explained that after five years of MDA, their office will conduct another round of evaluation to determine whether the cases of felaria have been reduced.

In the province of Albay, the municipality of Manito has the highest prevalence rate of felariasis. “In all cases, the transmitting vectors are either blood sucking insects, flies or mosquitoes.”

Most cases in Manito town have been positive of hydrocele, a fluid-filled sack along the spermatic cord within the scrotum.

According to him, felariasis cases is very evident in areas with plantations of abaca, banana or even “gabi”.

Just the same, in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Catanduanes and Camarines Norte, the positivity of micro felaria and antegene rates are still high. However, Aquino said, the MDA is ongoing and the treatment is within five years, meaning a non-stop drug administration to positive patients.

Individuals infected by felarial worms may be described as either "microfilaraemic" or "amicrofilaraemic," depending on whether or not microfilaria can be found in their peripheral blood.

The most spectacular symptom of lymphatic filariasis is elephantiasis edema with thickening of the skin and underlying tissues which was the first disease discovered to be transmitted by mosquito bites. Elephantiasis results when the parasites lodge in the lymphatic system. (PNA) DCT/LQ/MDR/cbd

Opposition mounts vs San Miguel Bay magnetite mining By Danny O. Calleja

CALABANGA, Camarines Sur, Nov. 24 (PNA) – It may be an uphill battle but local leaders opposed to the proposed offshore magnetite exploration at the marine life-rich San Miguel Bay are standing their ground.

They fear massive environmental degradation and economic dislocation of thousands of fisher folk around the bay should the mining operations push through.

The mining would be initiated by Bogo Resources and Mining Corporation (BRMC), a Filipino-Korean firm.

“We do not want the natural wealth of San Miguel Bay and the source of livelihood for thousands of our marginalized fishery sector relying on its rich marine resources to be compromised,” Evelyn Yu, the mayor of this first class municipality that derives most of its revenue from local agriculture and fishing industries, said.

The town’s legislative council had also signified its strong opposition to the mining projects and Yu said they aired that position as early as last July on learning about the exploration permit obtained by BRMC from the regional office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The permit, Yu said, was applied for in November last year but they were told about it only sometime early last July following their assumption of their new terms of office. “It was already approved when laid down to us.”

“Our position against this project was not based on our personal belief and opinion. We arrived at this position following public consultations. Our constituents are all-out against this mining project,” the lady mayor said.

The Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (MFARMC) here has joined the municipal government in opposing the planned exploration and subsequent mining of magnetite from the bay.

In a resolution passed and sent to EMB regional director Reynulfo Juan, the MFARMC stressed “that this exploration activity will pose hazards to the environment and will eventually put the residents in the area vulnerable to disasters.”

From the nearby town of Tinambac, Mayor Ruel Velarde aired the same position. “The people of Tinambac have spoken. They are against this mining venture as they want to preserve the natural resources of San Miguel Bay. So, to the EMB and BRMC, our appeal is: Please leave the bay alone.”

Besides, the town government of Tinambac has placed its municipal waters within the San Miguel Bay covering five kilometers from the shoreline under protection as a fishing ground.

The bay is a shallow, estuarine body of water covering an area of 1,115 square kilometers within seven coastal municipalities -- Mercedes and Basud in Camarines Norte and Sipocot, Cabusao, Tinambac, Siruma and this town in Camarines Sur.

It is surrounded by at least 74 barangays that are home to nearly a 100,000 population relying largely on fishing for their livelihood. The bay that possesses a fragile biodiversity and ecosystem is habitat of around 20 commercial fish species being supplied to local markets reaching up to Metro Manila.

In this town alone, according to Yu, almost 2,000 fishing families in 11 barangays would be denied of their main source of income by this planned magnetite or black iron ore exploration covering an approximate area of 6,100 hectares.

Based on its permit, BRMC would be conducting offshore drillings, the first of its kind in the country, to gather magnetite samples for laboratory testing to determine the mineral quality of the sand. The initial exploratory step could last for two years and entails digging 500 meters from the shoreline a gutter five hectares in width and five meters deep.

Mayors Rogenor Astor and Neb Santiago of Sipocot and Cabusao towns respectively are also opposed to the magnetite exploration in San Miguel Bay and said they would formalize that position through resolutions which their respective town councils will pass soon.

Astor said he had five prime villages to be affected by the project while according to Santiago who had four big barangays within the area, only when the planned exploration and mining activities guarantee that the environment and biodiversity of the bay are not disturbed that he would agree to it.

Iron ore or magnetite is used as alloy in the production of steel. China and Korea are the countries where huge demand for this mineral emanates. EMB records show that this mineral is predominantly present in Bicol as well as Cagayan and Zamboanga. (PNA)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

NPA rebels declare unilateral ceasefire around Mt. Bulusan
By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY, Nov. 24 (PNA) -– The local unit of the communist rebel movement in Sorsogon has declared a unilateral suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) in areas near the restive Bulusan Volcano.

The SOMO declaration that took effect last November 22 covers the 10-kilometer radius from the crater of the volcano whose current restlessness has been placed by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) under alert level one.

In a press statement distributed to local media organizations on Wednesday, Samuel Guerrero, who introduced himself as spokesman of Celso Minguez Command (CMC), the local unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) that operates within the area, said the unilateral ceasefire will allow government relief operations for victims of the Bulusan eruptions.

“Utmost concern is being given by the CMC on the preservation of lives and properties of residents around the volcano,” Guerrero said in a statement prepared in Filipino language.

The Sorsogon Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) said that as of Tuesday, over 13,560 persons representing some 2,700 families were affected by the series of mild eruptions characterized by massive ash ejections of the volcano since the first occurrence on Nov. 6.

The most severe ash explosion so far took place last Nov. 21 that ejected grayish volcanic ash reaching two kilometers above the volcano's summit. Thick ash fall affected at least 17 barangays of the municipalities of Irosin, Bulan and Magallanes that are within the 20- kilometer radius of the volcano.

PDRRMO chief Jose Lopez on Wednesday said 225 families from seven barangays of Irosin, Juban and Casiguran have been evacuated to refugee centers established in various schools at safer grounds. The biggest number of evacuees are in Gallanosa High School of Irosin town.

The SOMO which means suspension of all NPA tactical offensive actions against the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) within areas it covers, Guerrero said, will stay at the duration of the abnormal activities of the volcano or until the PHIVOLCS lifts the alert status declared over areas prone to the effects of its eruptions.

Local elements of the PNP, along with soldiers of the 4th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) under its commanding officer Col. Santiago Enginco, have been occupied to attend to the government’s rescue operations and evacuation and relief of the affected residents.

However, Guerrero warned government forces from conducting espionage and gathering of intelligence information from the guerilla zone within the SOMO area as it would be considered hostile acts that call for a defensive action from the NPA.

“Our general policy of active defense is not suspended along with the SOMO, the NPA spokesman added. (PNA)

RDC endorses Open Skies policy for Southern Luzon International Airport

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 24 (PNA) -- The Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) on Wednesday endorsed the adoption of President Benigno Aquino III of “pockets of open skies” once the Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA) in Albay province becomes operational in 2013.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, concurrent RDC chairperson, said during a full council meeting officially endorsed to President Aquino and the Department of Transportation and Communications the adoption of an open sky policy for SLIA to promote competition in the airline industry.

Salceda said the open sky policy would indeed perk up the civil aviation industry, designed to boost tourist arrivals in the country.

Salceda cited the experience of Clark where international traffic virtually soared from 7,880 to 600,000 after open skies was applied in 2004.

"An open skies should equalize the opportunities for regional destinations vis-a-vis the more developed incumbents like Manila, Cebu and Davao,” he said

The resolution says the Southern Luzon International Airport Project will become the only international airport located in Southern Luzon Philippines and the open sky policy will open up routes to competition for the Southern Luzon International airport that will boost its competitiveness and long term feasibility.

An open skies in Daraga should further accelerate the tourism growth of Bicol which Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim acknowledged as one of the fastest growing destinations for foreign tourists with Legazpi serving as the gateway to a well-diversified portfolio that includes Misibis, Caramoan, Mayon, CWC and Donsol.

The synchronized pursuit of regional industrial policy laser-focused on tourism by the provincial governments of Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon, utilizing their organic budgets, should be complemented by the national government investment in Bicol International Airport and further afforded a more conducive policy framework -- an open skies.

The SLIA is targeted to serve the needs of 7.1 million people with 5.4 million in Bicol and 1.65 million in the three provinces of Samar island.

The adoption of the open sky policy for SLIA would expand the contestable markets in both domestic and international routes and it will put pressure on the airline industry to lower their costs of fare and to pass cost savings on to passengers prompting low cost carriers to play more prominent position in a liberalized environment that will provide stimulus for serving more markets and will put pressure on existing airlines to perform well.

An open skies policy would hugely benefit OFW movement within such population base of 7.1 million by affording them more options and competitive costs, particularly by eliminating the current requisite for connecting flight or travel to Metro Manila.

The RDC resolution said the adaptation of the open skies policy will greatly enhance the prospects of tourism development where the region enjoys comparative advantage by way of its iconic endowments and new investments in destination.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Bicol recently announced that tourist arrivals in Albay has posted a remarkable surge by 109 percent with 73,056 local and foreign visitors during the third quarter of this year making the province the third fastest tourist hub in the country.

Salceda quoting the DOT report, said tourist arrivals in Albay posted from July to September 73,056 foreign and domestic tourists, a surge that boosts Bicol’s new title as the “third fastest growing tourist destination” of the Philippines .

Salceda said with the open sky policy, Albay is finally actualizing its tourism potential both for hosting an international airport and iconic endowments, making its role as gateway to Bicol’s emerging tourist destinations. (PNA)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Four NPA rebels nabbed in Camarines Norte

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 23 (PNA) - Four suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were nabbed on Monday by joint police and military operatives at their safe house in Daet town in Camarines Norte, a military officer said on Tuesday.

Arrested were Esmeraldo Bardon, Denver Bacolod, Elpedio de Luna and Melo Bermas, all members of the communist movement tasked to recruit new members.

Court records showed that Bardon is facing murder charges for killing a militiaman here.

Army Maj. Harold Cabunoc said the joint operatives armed with a search and arrest warrant swooped down on a safe house in Barangay Pasig, in Daet town, where the suspected communist rebels were temporarily staying around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

The raiding team caught the suspects by surprise and they were not able to resist arrest.

Authorities recovered from the safe house were a computer desk top, a notebook type laptop computer, photocopying machine, several blasting caps and electrical wires used for fabricating improvised explosive device and subversive materials.

Cabunoc said the arrest came about after residents in the area complained to the police about the presence of the group reportedly enticing youngsters to join their movement.

Residents in that village also requested for police and military security assistance as they claim armed men are seen frequenting the safehouse.

The suspects are now detained at the Daet town jail while police are preparing criminal charges against them. (PNA)

DENR checks ambient air quality in Mt. Bulusan

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 23 (PNA) — After Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon belched a series of ash plumes resulting in heavy ash fall in adjacent areas, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Environmental Management Bureau conducted a series of ambient air sampling to assess if air quality conforms with DENR standards.

EMB Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales dispatched a technical team on Monday to evaluate the current status of air quality in affected areas of the province.

The team headed by Rommel Gapayao, officer-in-charge of the EMB Air Quality Management Section, will test ambient air quality based on the parameters of total suspended particulates (TSP) and sulfur dioxide (SO2).

TSP refers to the estimated level of dust, while SO2 indicates the total amount of sulfuric compounds in the air.

Sampling stations were set up at Inlagadian, Casiguran; Añog, Juban and Gulang-gulang, Irosin.

“Laboratory result of the ambient air sampling is expected to be released the soonest possible time,” Gapayao said.

For several weeks, Mt. Bulusan has showed signs of restiveness and spewed on several occasions columns of volcanic ashes that resulted in heavy ash fall.

Locals fear adverse environment and health effects that the continuing eruption will wrought.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said on Tuesday the volcano’s seismic network recorded eight volcanic quakes during the 24-hour observation period.

Volcanologists said weak emission of white steam from the volcano’s crater and known thermal vents was observed drifting towards southeast. On Monday, measurement of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) emission rate yielded an average value of 10 tonnes per day.

Alert Level 1 remains in effect over Bulusan Volcano.

The public is advised not to enter the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) because the area is at risk to sudden steam and ash explosions.

Due to the prevailing wind direction, residents located in the northwest and southwest sectors of the volcano are advised to take precautions against ash falls.

Pilots were likewise advised to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ejected ash and volcanic fragments from sudden explosions may pose hazards to aircraft.

Furthermore, residents near valleys and river/stream channels should be watchful against sediment-laden stream flows and lahars because ash and other loose volcanic materials may be remobilized during heavy and prolonged rainfall. (PNA)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Salceda presents Albay’s climate change scenario in World Summit on Climate Change in Mexico city

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- The fight against the impacts of climate change could not be won without the support of civil society and the state.

This was the principle shared by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda at the World Mayor’s Summit on Climate Change in Mexico City.

In an emailed statement on Monday, Salceda said the fight against climate change and its impacts is the primordial duty of the state to its people especially to the poor,” but it can not do so without the people, and the closest and most direct unit of the state to the people is the local government,” he added.

Salceda, in sharing his climate change scenario in Albay said on Sunday, said the people’s interests are best articulated by civil society organizations. Thus, the horizontal conversations and engagements of local governments and civil society organizations are the most immediately viable fulcrum of intervention in the arena of climate change, particularly in adaptation.

He stressed that the axis for the success and substantial action on climate change would largely depend on the allied forces of local government units and the civil society organization, through partnerships on the ground that are, in our case, assisted by bilateral institutions and capacitated by national agencies.

“Certainly, this can not obviate nor substitute for the action of nation-states but it does show the way forward: we must put people at the center of any climate action,” he said.

The fight remains challenging, but the way forward is promising in local action and local partnerships with civil society organizations.

He claimed that Albay, a province of 1.2 million people, is visited by at least 19 to 21 typhoons every year with an intensity that has been rising year after year.

“As Governor of Albay, we have observed that climate change has been an adverse reality to our people and to me since birth. It is the single biggest obstacle to our aspiration for development and, more particularly, to our achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He said that despite the challenge of climate change, the province has achieved zero casualty in disasters in the past 16 years, except 2006, and has attained most of the MDGs (malnutrition, maternal mortality, infant mortality, under 5 child mortality) in 2009 ahead of schedule.

“We did so, first, by consciously committing 9% of our annual budget, incrementally and institutionally, to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; second, by fully integrating climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to our development plans and their execution; and, third, by working closely with civil society organizations and academic institutions in all our programs and projects. (PNA)

2 soldiers slain in separate rebel attacks in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) - Communist hitmen gunned down two Army soldiers in a string of attacks that occurred Monday in Ragay town in Camarines Sur and in this city on Friday, a military officer said today.

Reports reaching Camp Simeon Ola here said suspected New People’s Army (NPA) assassins killed today Army Sergeant Bayani Sabas, 35, of Lupi town in Camarines Sur, while Army PFC Ronnel Galvez, 27, a native of Barangay Taysan here was slain on Friday night in said village.

The report said both victims were on vocation at their respective residences when they were attacked.

Sabas, a member of the Army’s 31st Infantry Battalion, was on his way home with his wife and seven-month old son when at least five suspected communist bandits flagged down his motorcycle in San Felimon village in Ragay town.

The attackers immediately shot him at close range with a cal .45 pistol, hitting him in the head that killed him instantly. The attack was carried out in front of his wife.

Galvez was gunned down by two NPA rebels at the village hall during the town fiesta celebration in Barangay Taysan in this city.

Police investigators said Galvez sustained 29 gunshot wounds in various parts of his body, killing him instantly.

Colonel Leoncio Cirunay, operations Officer of the 9th Infantry Division, said that this year, the series of attacks has brought to a total of 43 people killed by the communist rebels. Of this number, six were soldiers and eight were members of the paramilitary force group.

Cirunay said the series of killings is believed to be part of the communist rebels' plan to attack "soft targets" such as unarmed military personnel and lightly-defended government facilities and interests.

Major General Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the 9th Infantry Division, has condemned the bandit group for its senseless killings of people in the Bicol Region.

He immediately directed the 9th ID’s legal officer to help the victims’ family in lodging a criminal complaint against the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“The killing of more than 40 people, mostly innocent civilians, is a dastardly act by the communist movement. These atrocities will alienate them further from the masses who are now fed up by these human rights abuses,” said Pabustan. (PNA)

100 CamSur patients undergo medical operations from 36 surgeons

PILI, Camarines Sur, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- Over 100 patients from all over the province underwent medical operations from the 36 top-caliber surgeons of St. Luke’s Medical Center.

This as Gov. LRay Villafuerte and Vice Gov. Fortunato “Ato” Peña launched the CamSur Surgical Mission, in partnership with the Ramon Tulfo Good Samaritan Foundation, held at the San Jose District Hospital and Bicol Medical Training Center from Nov. 18 to 21.

Patients with cleft palate, thyroid, cyst, ovarian mass, myoma, uterine prolapsed, and hernia availed of the services under the program with specialists in pathology, pulmonary, general surgery, ENT, Internal Medicines, Pediatrics, Anesthesia, OB-Gynecology, Medical Technologists, and volunteers from the newly established Advisory Board of the Office of the Vice Governor and personnel from the Provincial Health Office joining in to assisting.

Provincial Health Officer-in-charge Dr. Adolfo Rosales spearheaded the event in close coordination with the vice governor’s Advisory Board Committee on Community Affairs for Health Director Antonina Capuz.

The comprehensive program on health forms part of the multi-sectoral tasks that the dynamic vice governor is taking on as Task Force on Health Chief in his efforts to further strengthen the thrust of the provincial government in delivering basic services to the people of Camarines Sur that Gov. Lray Villafuerte continually spearheads for the whole province. (PNA)

Monday, November 22, 2010

No black bug infestation in Albay --DA
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Crop Protection has denied allegation of black bug infestation in nine municipalities in Albay.

Evangeline de la Trinidad, Regional Crop Protection chief, said that no outbreak or infestation of black bug in the province. “What we see based from the inspections conducted in the field and reports from the provincial agriculture services there is a notable number of black bug.”

During the emergency committee hearing called by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay, de la Trinidad of DA told all municipal councilors from different towns that there is no reason to panic.

“Our investigation showed that the magnitude of black bugs in the 3rd district of Albay comprising 6 towns and one city is not an indicator that there is an outbreak. We can only say that there is a wide infestation or outbreak if the extent of damage to yields is more than 30 percent of the rice plantation,” she said.

But de la Trinidad admitted that the presence of black bugs in rice fields might eventually result to an outbreak. “We do not want to take it for granted and immediate counter measure must be implemented the soonest possible time.”

De la Trinidad recommended the immediate spraying of metarhizium to affected rice fields and light trapping every night. “We would like to remind farmers light trapping is not advisable during full moon because it reduces full-out of bugs. Remember that bugs migrates during full moon.”

In this case, it is advisable to spray Metarhizium anisopliae, formerly known as Entomophthora anisopliae.

Metarhizium is a fungus that grows naturally in soils throughout the world and causes disease in various insects by acting as a parasite.

When these mitotic (asexual) spores (called conidia) of the fungus come into contact with the body of an insect host, they germinate and the hyphae that emerge penetrate the cuticle. The fungus then develops inside the body eventually killing the insect after a few days; this lethal effect is very likely aided by the production of insecticidal cyclic peptides (destruxins).

Albay board member Ramon Alsua, chairman of the committee on agriculture, assured farmers that the province would start production of Metarhizium. “Aside from spraying metarhizium we also encourage farmers to do the light trapping and promote duck and poultry herding in areas affected by black bugs. “This time we have nothing to worry but our action is to mitigate and counter the possible infestation the soonest possible time.”

According to Alsua, light trapping is also very effective way to resolve the problem. “Another thing, black bug can also be used as fertilizers because decomposed black bugs produces high content of Urea.

Urea, a white crystalline solid containing 46% nitrogen, is widely used in the agricultural industry as an animal feed additive and fertilizer. Urea, also called carbamide, is an organic chemical compound which essentially is the waste produced when the body metabolizes protein.

“The instruction of governor Joey Salceda is to mitigate the possible spread and impact of black bugs in the province of Albay not only in rice but in other crops,” Alsua said.(PNA)

Salceda wants a ‘Green Christmas’ for Albay
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) – Albay Governor Joey Salceda wants a “Green Christmas” or “Christmas without risk” for the entire province.

Fresh from being cited by the United Nations as Senior Global Champion of Disaster Risk Reduction, Salceda said “Christmas without risk” means “zero casualty” (from firecrackers) and “zero garbage” (from plastic).

In his memorandum to all heads of departments or offices and employees, the governor who sports the title “Green Economist”, said, “We are launching the Green Christmas Initiative: Christmas without risks in line with our overarching provincial governance goal - environmental protection and climate change adaptation.”

“To set the tone for the Christmas celebration in the entire province, the initiative must begin in the capitol before we publicly unveil the major components of Green Christmas Initiative essentially social marketing of zero casualty sa paputok (from firecrackers), reduced use of plastic bags in shopping and low-carbon celebration.”

“And as our share to this program, we are setting out the following guidelines this early. For the affirmative directives: [a] Starting this year, the celebration of Christmas by employees of the Provincial Government of Albay should center around either, tree planting, beach or river clean-up, resettlement socials, disaster risk reduction (DRR) through games and magic in children’s homes or among children of informal settlers and similar activities,” he said.

Under the negative list of the directives, he said, “all provincial offices or departments are banned from procuring Christmas Trees and other plastic ornaments and decors and are, therefore, encouraged to decorate existing trees at the Park and spruce up ornamental plants inside your offices with recyclable or biodegrable decorative materials.”

Likewise, in serving food, plastic or paper plates and cups should be banned and their procurement is prohibited; instead banana leaves, banana bark, coconut shell and/or “bilaos” shall be used. They are more earth-friendly and given current trends, more fashionable and “going native”, more patriotic, the governor said.

“And as far possible, it is advised that this practice should extend to your household and village celebrations,” he added.

Another feature during the Green Christmas Celebration, Salceda said in the directive, shall be an inter-department contest in the making of a Christmas Tree out of office or household trash.

Cedric Daep, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Office (PDRRO) chief, hailed Salceda for the initiative and said all departments and employees of the provincial government have expressed their elation over it.

“This will really be a different kind of celebration. A big shift from the previous way that saw homes, offices, parks and business establishments, among others spruced up with colorful yet expensive artificial decorations. This time, it will be done in a healthy, safe, environment-friendly and less expensive manner,” Daep said.

He said the main focus of the PDRRO in this celebration will be on attaining “zero casualty” from firecrackers.

“We are maximizing the participation of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Council (PDRRC) that includes the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health (DoH), Department of Social Welfare and Development and several other agencies with social concerns into this drive,” Daep added. (PNA)

Climate Change Academy launched in Albay
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) – Finally, the country now has a repository of knowledge, ideas, expertise and information on local climate change adaptation that also serves as a venue for their propagation and extension.

The facility is called the Climate Change Academy housed at the Department of Education (DepEd) Building inside the Bicol University (BU) main campus here that serves as its principal office and center of operations.

It is manned by highly competent staff personally handpicked by Albay Governor Joey Salceda from his climate change adaptation (CCA) team.

These personnel have undergone expert-level orientation and intensive trainings in various fields covering CCA and disaster risk reduction (DRR). They are time-tested by their exposure with the Centre for Initiatives and Research on Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) and Albay’s Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO).

CIRCA is the implementing arm of the province in its Action on Climate Change (A2C2) Program aimed at helping local residents cope with the risks of climate change while APSEMO is Albay’s contribution to disaster risk reduction strategies consistent with the United Nation’s Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA).

APSEMO has recently earned for Albay a citation from the United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon as a role model in disaster risk reduction.

These personnel are backed up by line experts from the BU and the University of the Philippines-Los Baños that serve as the current academic partners of the Academy. The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) is expected to sign on to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be counted into the partnership.

Others who have already enlisted themselves with the Academy as partners include the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists (PNEJ) and the Publishers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PAPI).

The Academy operates under the auspices of the Climate Change Commission headed by its chairman Heherson Alvarez, United Nations System in the Philippines represented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director Renaud Meyer and the provincial government of Albay.

Salceda said that he is aggressively pursuing robust institutional partnerships with academic institutions like the UP’s National Institute of Geological Science (NIGS) and Marine Science Institute(MSI), among others.

Development partners like Christian Aid, Plan International, Oxfam, Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and the rest of the entire UN system will also be tapped along with government agencies principally those that are involved in disaster management and risk reduction, he added.

The Academy was formally launched early this month highlighting the closing activities of the three-day LGU Summit +3 held here November 4-6. It was marked by the signing of the MOU among Salceda, Alvarez and Meyer.

The launching was an offshoot of the agreement recently entered into between the Climate Change Commission and the provincial government of Albay represented by Alvarez and Salceda, respectively, that formalized the establishment of the Climate Change Academy in the province to serve as the center for education and knowledge sharing on CCA.

Its establishment is also anchored on the risk reduction and disaster management component of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations to where the Philippines is committed.

Through the Climate Change Academy, the Albay experience in CCA that exemplifies the effectiveness of local governance for addressing adaptation and disaster risk reduction needs brought on by natural hazards and climate change will be replicated in all provinces, Alvarez said following the launching rites.

For its part, the League of Provinces headed by Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali agreed to set up disaster risk reduction management offices in their provinces, cities and municipalities using the APSEMO as its template.

He said adaptation must be translated to all levels of governance alongside coordinating national efforts towards an incorporated ecosystem-based administration in order to enable sectors to become climate-resilient.

Alvarez noted that adaptation measures on climate change are crucial to achieve progress and development.

“Unless we manage our communities to reduce their risk to climate disasters, unless we protect our vulnerable ecosystems and food production systems through climate adaptation, we will not be able to confront the challenges of global warming and climate change in the Philippines, and achieve the MDGs,” he added. (PNA)

Bulusan shaking without puffs

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) – Bulusan Colcano exhibited the highest number of volcanic quakes so far in its renewed restiveness since Nov. 6, volcanologists said.

A total of 41 volcanic quakes have been recorded by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) during the past 24 hours, resident volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta said Friday.

But the lack of parameters kept state volcanologists on their toes on alert level 1. “But we need to conduct another round of aerial survey next week to fully determine the current condition of the crater if there is already magma buildup,” Laguerta told this writer on the phone.

Laguerta said that the quakes were the results of ground movements as pressures might be accumulated beneath the surface of Bulusan’s summit area because there have been no explosions since Monday night.

The Phivolcs had observed that while Bulusan went ‘silent’ during the past four days, it recorded an increasing number of volcanic quakes from two on Nov. 14, seven on Nov. 15, and went up further to 19 on Nov. 16, 20 on Nov. 17 and 41 from Nov. 18-19.

Asked about the possibility of a stronger explosion, Laguerta said he could not discount the possibility because of the abnormal condition of the volcano.(PNA)

41 quakes jolt Mount Bulusan, more explosions expected - Phivolcs

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) - At least 41 volcanic earthquakes jolted Mount Bulusan on Friday, the highest number so far detected by seismic instruments for the past five days, signifying that pressure is still building up and this may probably lead to more ash and steam laden explosions, volcanologists said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) bulletin reported that seismic network detected a total of 41 volcanic earthquakes during the past 24 hours.

Volcanologists said they could not observe the volcano’s steaming activity because its summit is cloud-covered.

The volcano exhibited one ash explosion on Monday night, accompanied by a rumbling sound while traces of ash fall were noted in the villages of Bolos, Gulang-gulang, Tinampo and Monbon, all in Irosin town.

Phivolcs' seismic instruments have detected since Monday a total of 139 volcanic quakes that rocked the 1,956-meter high volcano for the past five days, with 50 quakes detected on Monday followed by 41 quakes Friday.

Alert Level 1 is still hoisted over Bulusan Volcano.

The public is strongly advised not to enter inside the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) because it may be affected by sudden steam explosions.

People residing near valleys and streams were likewise advised to be vigilant against sediment-laden stream flows in the event of heavy and continuous rainfall.

Due to the prevailing wind direction, residents located in the northwest and southwest sectors of the volcano are advised to take precautions against ash falls. (PNA)

Salceda impressed with East Timor bailing out Portuguese debt

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) - The country’s top economist said he was impressed with the move of East Timor, tagged as one of the world’s poorest countries, to rescue its former colonizer Portugal from debt.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, the then economic adviser of former President and now House Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said he was surprised how East Timor bailed out Portugal by buying US$ 700 million of Portuguese debt.

He said “what amazes me is how did East Timor a former Potuguese colony and now financially stable country has rescued its troubled imperial master – Portugal, certainly, Timor Leste government fund managers must have calculated it to be a good investment.”

Salceda said financial markets and investment analysts worldwide have expressed admiration for Timor Leste.

“In this global stage, no other news can beat the release of Aung San Suu Kyi than this. And it should probably set the tone for the climate talks in Cancun,” he pointed out.

Salceda lamented that while the Philippines, which is a former colony of the United States, has invested in US treasuries for the longest time, the country has not earned much to impact on the economy.

Salceda noted that Filipinos, even if most consider themselves poor, have a per capita income of US$ 2,000 versus the East Timor people's US$ 600- so it must have been either bravery or genuine goodwill that pushed the Timorese government to gamble its sovereign fund in bailing out Portugal's debt. (PNA)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pacquiao day in Albay a wise call: Salceda

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) -– To celebrate national pride and savor the positive economic repercussions, Albay governor Joey Salceda declared Monday as Pacquiao Day though with work and with classes still going on between the weekend and the Al- Adha holiday.

But this new call awaits the feel of the nation if only to declare a no-work, no classes in the future.

Very timely with a day that is sand witched between the weekend and the Al- Adha holiday, Monday should be declared a special no-work, no-class holiday in the whole province of Albay.

“But, since there are already several holidays in November and several more in December, I balked at the unilateral move that may be perceived to be frivolous and would rather wait for the national leadership to set the feel of the nation.

"The idea of a Pacquiao day should blossom into a National OFW Day as a legislated national holiday,” Salceda said.

“The heroism of Manny Pacquiao partakes of the day-to-day "living" heroism of our ordinary OFWs.

"And, without doubt, he has stacked up by far the biggest export by a single individual in our country's economic history- in National Income Accounts- he would visibly stand out in the NFIA or Net Foreign Income from Abroad- the item added to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to get Gross National Production (GNP),” Salceda explained.

According to Salceda, with Michael Jordan now retired and Tiger Woods now in decline, Pacquiao is now possibly the most important brand franchise in the whole world of global sporting market- a significant investment class that would assure recurring inflows (eg sponsorships, events) to our economy in the medium term.

“But more than the forex resources, he brings honor to our nation. Pacquiao plays what economists call "a binding force" even quite briefly and fleeting-- by enabling stubbornly disparate forces in Philippine society to come together and overcome our differences to celebrate our national pride,” he said.

“That would have been sufficient fundamental basis for us to succumb to the pervasive suggestion of declaring tomorrow as Pacquiao Day in Albay as a no-work, no-class holiday (also practical since it is sandwiched by Nov 16's Al-Adha holiday) so our people could celebrate pride in being Filipino and discern the spirit of the possible that is enlarged by Pacquiao's achievements,” Salceda added. (PNA)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Salceda gathers stakeholders to mainstream RP’s climate change program
by: Danny Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 05 (PNA) -- Hundreds of country planners, technocrats, local government leaders, legislators, academicians, scientists, civil society movers and other development partners across the country gather here Wednesday for the start of a three-day summit towards mainstreaming the country’s climate change adaptation (CCA) program.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, a topnotch economist and financial analysts who was recently named senior global champion of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) by the United Nations (UN), will lead the province in playing host to the affair, dubbed LGU (Local Government Unit) Summit+3i.

This year's title of summit carries along the symbol "+3i" to signify that the CAA program started by Albay in 2007 is radiating in all three main islands of the country -- Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao --, Salceda, who had also assumed the title “green economist”, explained.

The summit would provide a venue for critical actors to agree that CCA is a critical developmental concern that needs to be addressed to pursue and meet the country's commitment towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, Salceda said.

LGUs, as front liners in meeting the commitment towards achieving MDGs must recognize that "development as usual" approach without considering climate variability and extremes, may pose as threat in meeting these development goals, he stressed.

"LGUs across the country must have a concerted effort to fast track achievement of MDGs, especially at the local level, to meet the 2015 target and share experiences in tracking their MDGs' progress," he added.

According to the MDG Achievement Fund (MDG-Fund), climate change is threatening to hamper the Philippines’ attainment of the MDGs because of the country’s limited capacity to undertake climate risk based planning and project implementation.

To address this handicap, it said mainstreaming climate risk reduction into key national and local development planning and regulatory processes and enhancing capacities of key national agencies, LGUs, academe and communities to undertake climate resilient development should be adopted.

Salceda also stressed that LGUs, should act as trailblazers of an aggressive and proactive climate and disaster resilient development plans and programs enshrined in the Local Government Code of 1991.

The LGU Summit +3i, he said, is designed to demonstrate and translate effective and efficient implementation of science-based analyses for disaster risk reduction measures and build consensus towards a way forward for CCA actions.

Salceda noted that while the Philippines continues to intensify its efforts to keep track with its MDG commitments for target year 2015, reducing poverty, increasing food security, improving health and ensuring environmental sustainability are progressing at a slow pace.

According to the recent 2010 MDG Progress Report, some challenges that affect the current situation include inadequate investment, ineffective government policies and lack of commitment.

The same report also identified impacts that, apart from the global financial crisis and price shocks, climate change (both climate variability and extreme) was identified as an imminent threat to achieving the country’s poverty, education, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability commitments.

It added that attainment of MDGs will be more difficult for a developing country, especially for a climate hotspot country, like the Philippines.

Development, as usual, may not be enough to address these emerging threats. Non action may bring about short term (loss of lives, property and environmental integrity) and long term (reversal of development gains) impacts.

Thus, increasing the Philippines' capacity to implement adaptation measures is vital for meeting its 2015 MDG target.

In a recent interview with Ugnayan sa Bikol, a regular radio program over Radyo ng Bayan hosted by the regional office here of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Executive Director Manuel Rangasa of Albay’s Center for Initiatives and Research on Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) said LGUs should be able to determine priority adaptation measures that would facilitate MDGs achievement by target year 2015 during the Nov. 4-6 summit.

Rangasa who is also the summit’s program director said that in the interfacing, Albay will showcase its best working practices on DRR citing "pre-emptive evacuation" of communities-at-risk resulting to "zero casualty" in times of disasters and emergencies as adopted models in the country and recognized by the UN.

Salceda, in addressing the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) in Bonn, Germany where he was named “Senior Champion” for CCA and DRR, said that given the rising climate risks, no development is possible without adaptation.

“It is development, however, that gives meaning to adaptation,” he stressed.

“Adaptation is the duty of the state simply because it is the poor that bears the brunt of climate impacts and natural disasters - those who are most vulnerable are also the least capable of protection, those who have more in risks also have less in resources,” Salceda noted.

Giving emphasis to CCA, he said “the duty cannot be outsourced, it cannot be offshored, it cannot be delegated. But it must do so by capacitating local communities and reinforcing local governance - by making cities and provinces resilient.”

Albay, a calamity prone province that faces the Pacific Ocean where most typhoons of the year originate, joined the conference dubbed as Asia First World Congress on Cities and Adaptation to Climate Change "Resilient Cities 2010", as a global model.

The UN ISDR aims to build disaster resilient communities by promoting increased awareness of the importance of disaster reduction as a component of sustainable development.

Salceda pioneered the "zero casualty" policy through preemptive evacuation during disasters, and hosted the National Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in two successive settings-- first at the Albay Astrodome here in 2007 and the second at the Diamond Hotel in Manila in 2009.

Both were well acclaimed and attended by international crisis managers, scientists, businessmen and students.

Salceda was recognized as an outstanding campaigner and implementer of CCA and DRR in a global gathering of that size since it puts the Philippines in the forefront of these noble objectives.

"I joined the ISDR campaign for resilient cities as global role model for Asia for two reasons: first, Albay wants to learn from the best practices in the rest of the world; second, we want to push ourselves higher on standard to drive ourselves harder on this effort and to push the envelope on development through DRR and CCA,” Salceda said.

He said adaptation is an investment, not a cost. “It reduces risks, thus increases business returns. Albay has seen a surge in investments even after typhoons Reming and Milenyo in 2006, Mayon eruptions in 2009 and a spate of recent disasters.”

CCA and DRR allow development to proceed amid disasters and in the case of Albay, the governor said, it do not disrupt people’s lives since the provincial government takes charge of it.

These efforts of the province concerning CCA have also been adopted by the Philippine government due to a series of resolutions “adopting the Albay Declaration of Climate Change Adaptation as a framework for the mainstreaming of global warming concerns into the national and local planning” passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives.

The country’s Climate Change Commission (CCC) formed following these resolutions has stressed that implementation of direct adaptation measures to address climate variability and extreme is highly local.

This means that the role of local governments is indispensable in shaping and implementing successful adaptation measures that would ensure continuity of development and provide safety nets for highly vulnerable groups, it added.(PNA)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

LGU Summit on Climate Change kicks off despite travel ban advisories

LEGAZPI CITY,Nov.04 (PNA) --- The organizers of the Local Government Units (LGU) Summit +3i on Climate Change Adaptation expressed dismay over the travel advisories issued by at least three foreign countries discouraging their citizens to visit the Philippines, citing “imminent terrorist attacks.”

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said that the travel ban advisories would indeed affect the holding of the summit because according to the summit secretariat 12 percent of the expected participants have withdrew their attendance to the 3-day climate change conference set today.

Salceda said “the advisories really did damage to our activity but we can not change the US, UK, Australian advisories, no matter how we disagree with their sweeping warning that "there is a high threat from terrorism throughout the Philippines".

He said the travel ban triggered adverse impact to the summit on climate change the first national conference to be held in the country with attendance coming from the 81 Governors, Vice Governors, local chief executives, planners, scientist and civil society leaders across the country including selected foreign countries.

The summit would be addressing critical development concerns brought about by the impact of climate change, marking the start of the three-day LGU Summit+3i on Climate Change.

The 3-day summit carries a P6 million funding from the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) and the provincial government of Albay.

Salceda in yesterday’s press briefing said constructive and proportional response security measures had been put in place this include: double security preparations and inform the public on such preparations.

He said since the start of the preparations for the LGU Summit, the PNP and AFP units have been engaged.

Salceda said both PNP and AFP reported that there are no intelligence reports and no specific threats to the province.

However, the advisories have prompted the implementation of the following countermeasures: increase the police deployment; deploy tourist cops from Camalig to Sto. Domingo ; AFP units in the province are on standby alert .

PNP- Comelec checkpoints shall continue its monitoring ; intelligence or information gathering has been intensified and all participants shall be given a handy list of contact numbers (police, fire, hospitals, provincial offices).LQ/MSA/cbd

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

PH's export of coco products up in Q3

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov 2 (PNA)-- Official figures show that gross export receipts at the start of the third quarter this year from Philippine coconut products grew steeply by 60.4 percent or to US$ 164.387 million from US$ 102.463 million last year.

A Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) statement here Tuesday said that export in July hiked 34.8 percent year-on-year from 183,887 metric tons (MT) in copra terms last year to 247,850 MT.

Export of coconut oil at 145,564 MT leaped 37.3 percent from 106,014 MT in 2009 and that of by-product copra meal climbed 29.2 percent to 44,482 MT from 34,428 MT, the PCA said.

Shipment of dessicated coconut, however, slightly declined by 1.6 percent to 9,168 MT from 9,313 MT, contrasting with oleo chemicals which more than doubled (111.6 percent) to 2,552 MT in copra terms from 1,206 MT last year.

Some of other coconut products performed in export as follows: coco shell charcoal 2,401 MT; activated carbon, 2,837 MT; and fresh coconuts, 176 MT that all showed decreases compared to last year’s figures by 15.4, 20.3 and 3.7 percents respectively.

Glycerin and several other coconut by-products increased in export during the latest period by 34.7 percent or from 1,526 MT to 2,055 MT and 2,860 MT from 1,933 MT representing 48 percent, the PCA said.

Aggregate export for the first seven-month period this year stood at 1,497,017 MT in copra terms which was 106.8 percent higher than its last year total of only 723,774 MT and the value of shipment neared the 1.0 billion-mark at US$ 908.727 million, it said.

The PCA data also show export of coconut oil in July was at 110,447 MT of crude coconut oil, 32,880 MT of cochin oil (refined, bleached oil) and 2,237 MT of RBD oil (refined, bleached and deodorized oil).

US was its top buyer with purchases of 68,572 MT to account for nearly half of total or 47.1 percent while delivery to Europe was close to one-third at 32.5 percent or 47,373 MT.

Europe, however, remained the leading Philippine crude coconut oil importer cornering 47,330 MT with The Netherlands getting 37,880 MT, Spain 5,500 MT and Italy 3,950 MT.

The US followed with 39,055 MT; Malaysia 14,000 MT; Singapore 5,000 MT; China 4,000 MT; Japan 1,000 MT; and limited amounts for Korea, 45 MT and Pakistan 18 MT.

US also led three importers of Cochin oil with 29,500 MT delivery, trailed by Japan 3,200 MT and Singapore 180 MT.

China was market leader in RBD oil absorbing 1,296 MT while Pakistan and Iran ranked far second and third respectively at 335 MT and 237 MT.

Other RBD destinations were Russia, 81 MT; Israel, 60 MT; Netherlands, 43 MT; Australia, 42 MT; Argentina, 41 MT; Bangladesh, 37 MT; Taiwan, 34 MT; USA 17 MT; and Vietnam 15 MT.

The PCA said Korea remained the top importer of copra meal in July with uptake of 32,530 MT or 73.1 percent of aggregate sales for the month of 44,482 MT. Other major buyers were China with 8,000 MT (18.0 percent) and Vietnam with 3,000 MT (6.7 percent).

Five other countries--Australia 362 MT, New Zealand 300 MT, Hong Kong 200 MT, Japan 50 MT and Pakistan 40 MT together accounted for the remaining 2.1 percent.

There were 40 destinations of dessicated coconut shipment during the month that amounted to 9,168 MT and the US maintained leadership with volume at 2,274 MT representing 24.8 percent of total.

The next set of big buyers namely United Kingdom, 891 MT; Netherlands, 787 MT; Australia, 666 MT; Germany, 662 MT; Canada, 661 MT; Belgium, 622 MT; and Turkey, 527 MT jointly comprised 52.6 percent of the market while six countries—France, Korea, Russia, Taiwan, China and Norway with volume ranging from 102 to 283 MT together made up 12.0 percent in descending order.

Twenty-six other countries took in volume lower than 100 MT and accounted for 10.7 percent of the total exports, the PCA said.

Of coconut shell products, Japan remained a leading buyer specifically of coconut shell charcoal and activated carbon.

For the month of July, that country took in delivery of 1,330 MT of coconut shell charcoal representing 55.4 percent of total shipment for the month. Other importers were China taking in 469 MT or 19.5 percent, Korea 330 MT or 13.7 percent and HongKong 272 MT for 11.3 percent.

Japan’s import of activated carbon at 404 MT or 27.0 percent made the country a primary outlet topping 15 others.

Together with three other big importers--USA 253 MT or 16.9 percent, United Arab Emirates 198 MT for 13.2 percent and Indonesia 138 MT for 9.2 percent, the four market leaders comprised around two-thirds or 66.2 ercent of total sales. The remaining 33.8 percent was held by a dozen countries with uptake below 100 MT, the PCA added.

Meanwhile, the Philippines, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) regional office here will soon boost further the export participation of coconut with the expected coming in of orders from natural medicine advocates abroad for coconut sap sugar.

In Bicol where 21 percent of the national total of coconut production emanates, discussions have been rife on the commercial production of coconut sap sugar which has already established a market in Canada and the United States.

There are 651,571 hectares or 37 percent of the total regional land area planted to coconut that accounts for a total of 2.2 billion of nut production harvested yearly from 59.78 million bearing trees by over 290,204 Bicolano farmers, the NEDA said.

Catching this production are six operating oil refinery mills with a total of 1,500 metric tons daily rated capacity in the region and eight decorticating plants, one virgin coconut oil plant and one nata de coco producer.

Generally however, coconut farms in Bicol have low productivity as indicated by a production of 38 nuts per tree per year resulting from the impacts of past typhoons and the presence of coconut diseases such as cadang-cadang and brontispa, the NEDA said.

Apart from copra and coconut oil, Bicol had also been contributing briskly to the export of several coconut by-products like charcoal and activated carbon from coconut shell, coir and peat production materials from husk and coconut water for nata de coco and vinegar.

There are now investors introducing the idea of deriving coconut sap sugar for export from Bicol and local stakeholders are just waiting for the technologies that would signal its commercialization, NEDA regional director Romeo Escandor on Tuesday said.

There are still ongoing studies on the health benefits of coconut sugar but the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Development (DOST) had earlier confirmed the low glycemic index (GI) claims for the coconut sap sugar through a scientific study.

The GI of coconut sap sugar which is very low at 35 percent makes it a natural sweetener given the fact that foods with 55 percent and below GI are diabetic-friendly. The product was also found to be higher in other nutrient content such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium and chlorine compared to other forms of sugar, the FNRI studies show.

Commercializing coconut sap sugar production in Bicol, Escandor said would mean additional income for coconut farmers as in other parts of the country where the venture had already been working particularly in the Mindanao regions, a farmer can earn from about P85,000 to as much as P352,000 per hectare per year from coconut sap sugar production. (PNA)

PCA-Bicol races for RP as world’s top makapuno producer
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 2 (PNA)-– Massive planting of laboratory-raised macapuno seedlings is being rushed by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in Bicol so that the region currently occupies the driver’s seat in the country’s race for the world’s biggest makapuno producer title.

By starting this time Bicol’s makapuno industry, the region will be able to lead other parts of the archipelago into commercial makapuno production thus, capturing for the country a gargantuan share in the international market of this highly in-demand product, according to Alfredo Rillo, the PCA regional director based here.

“Should we fail, we will be losing the opportunity to our neighboring coconut-growing countries like Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand, among others,” he added.

Since its discovery, makapuno, the mutant Philippine coconut distinguished from the regular variety for its shorter growing tree, smaller nuts and fleshy meat, has been popularly treated as a delectable dessert whether simply cooked in syrup or added as flavoring to other desserts.

As a number of local food processors emerged to cater to the demands for ready-to-eat makapuno sweets, the volume of makapuno nut production remains not enough to fill the demand created by these processors for raw meat of the nut.

Rillo said there is very high demand for makapuno both form the local primary and secondary food processors. Based on a recent national survey, four million more nuts are required to fill the gap between the current and required supplies.

This demand was boosted up by earlier studies conducted by Dr. Ma. Judith Rodriguez of the PCA’s Albay Research Center (ARC) on the utilization of the nut’s highly viscous liquid endosperm that revealed high content of galactomannan, a polysaccharide, usable as alternative raw material for the production of hand and body lotion, hand sanitizers, facial masks, hair cream and hair gel, shampoo, conditioner and even as biodegradable edible film.

The existing stand of makapuno-bearing palms in the country however would not be enough to supply the needed volume and only the use of true-to-type planting materials would ensure supply of makapuno nuts from 75 to 100 percent of the total yield.

Moreover, other potential nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and industrial makapuno-based products could not be explored with the current limited supply due to the very low nut yield of traditional Makapuno-bearing palms in the field that could only answer up to 25 percent of the existing demand.

The danger of losing a potential industry then emerged until the PCA-ARC in Barangay Banao, Guinobatan town started the commercial production of true-to-type makapuno planting materials and optimized of the embryo culture technique in its production through the support from the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ).

ARC’s chief scientist Erlinda Rillo who headed its tissue culture team said, the success in the development of the embryo culture technique initially developed by the group of the late Dr. Emerita de Guzman of University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) in the late 1960’s revolutionized makapuno nut production.

The project is a collaborative effort among various PCA-units and Cavite State University. It was primarily aimed at producing true-to-type makapuno planting materials using embryo culture technology and dispersed at low cost to Filipino farmers.

This project is part of a program which endeavors the development of macapuno industry in the Philippines.

It was initially funded by the GTZ from 1992 to 1995 and was expanded thru the financial support of Department of Science and Technology–Philippines Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCARRD) from 1996 to 2002.

After that period, the project survived through the income generated from the sale of embryo cultured makapuno (ECM) seedlings each at P500-P1,000 depending on size and location of source.

In 1999, 134,000 ECM seedlings were required to plant 1,160 hectares and serve the eight million macapuno nuts required by the market prompting a massive planting of laboratory-raised varieties. Supply however was scarce as the production was single-handedly done by the ARC at very limited resources.

More lately, funding support from High Value Commodity Crops (HVCC) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) came in to support activities for increased production.

At present, commercial production of ECM seedlings is an on-going activity at various PCA units mainly the ARC, Davao Research Center, Zamboanga Research Center, PCA Regional Office in Palo, Leyte, PCA Provincial Office in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan and Cavite State University in Indang, Cavite.

The program had already enabled the field establishment of more or less 5,500 ECM stand throughout the country. At productive stage, all these palms will translate to a monthly income of approximately P800,000 and will insure continuous supply for processing and research and development towards industrial, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and other application of makapuno.

The makapuno embryo culture technique improved by the ARC research team headed by Mrs. Rillo involved the culture of the palm embryos in specially formulated medium in vitro and establishment to soil.

The culture starts from removing the husk of the selected nuts that are brought near the lab and their solid endosperm embedding the embryos are extracted using a cork borer.

Inside the lab, the endosperm cores embedding the embryos are decontaminated with100 percent commercial bleach for 20 minutes and rinsed with sterile water. Under aseptic condition, the embryos are excised from the endosperm and planted into Modified Eeuwens’ (Y3) medium.

The cultures are incubated at 28°C under light condition. These are transferred to freshly prepared media every month until ready for soil-planting.

Seedlings with at least one primary root and one expanded leaf are ready for soil establishment. They are brought out from the lab to acclimatize them to natural light and temperature conditions in a screen house for at least five days while still inside the culture vessels.

They are then taken out from the culture vessels, rinsed with water, dipped in fungicide solution, planted to soil medium containing one part garden soil and one part coconut coir dust and incubated inside a humidity tent.

After at least a month, the established seedlings are transferred to a screen house for hardening. Hardened seedlings are transferred to a nursery for further growth until ready for field-planting.

This improved protocol had successfully reduced the planting materials’ growing period from 13 to ten 10 months and it has been simplified by doing away with most of the complicated laboratory steps. The shortened period and the simplifications reduced the planting materials’ production cost.

As a viability indicator, 10 laboratories at present are actively engaged in commercial ECM production, with or without PCA’s technical corroboration, Mrs Rillo said. (PNA)

Massive fishkill hits Lake Buhi in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 2 (PNA) --The fishery sector in Bicol is alarmed over the possible decline in fish production of the region after a fishkill hit Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur since Friday.

The Bicol Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources(BFAR) estimated that about 100 metric tons of 'Tilapia' fishes were found floating dead in Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur.

The Buhi Lake Development Office said on Tuesday that the fishkill caused about P5 million in revenue losses of a big number of fishcage owners operating in the 1,800-hectare lake.

The Tilapia fishkill would seriously affect the livelihood of hundreds of fisherfolk that are largely dependent to what they harvest in said lake.

The common name 'tilapia' is based on the name of the cliched genus "Tilapia", which is itself a latinization of thiape, the Tswana word for "fish". It is also known as “St. Peter’s fish”
Ronald Canabe, BFAR-Bicol spokesperson said that about 70 percent of the Buhi lake is occupied by fish cages that provide the fish requirements in the four mainland Bicol provinces.

Initial reports from the town fishery office in Buhi said the fish kills might be due to sulphur dioxide emission from Mount Asog in Iriga City as fisher folks here claimed that the waters in the lake were reportedly contaminated with sulphur coming from Mount Asog.

The presence of large mass of water lilies that block the sunlight and oxygen could be another factor that caused the fish kill.

Town fishery office, on the other hand, suspects that the over population and feeding of Tilapia by fish cage owners could be another factor for the fish kills.

Canabe said that about 80 percent of Buhi town population were engage in fish farming and 80 percent of the fish farms produces and cultures Tilapia fishes.

However, Canabe said that based on the National Fishery Code, only 10 percent of the total area of any lake can be occupied for fishpens or fishcages.

For this reason, the agency would issue an intervention measure to the Buhi town mayor to strictly enforce the fishery laws provided in the Fishery Code.

Canabe said upon receiving the report of the fish kills, his office had sent a team of fishery technician to assess the extent of losses the fish kills had made to the fishing industry and make the necessary remedial measures to prevent further damages to the industry.

BFAR data show that Lake Buhi in Buhi, Camarines Sur has an area of 18 square kilometers and has an average depth of 8 meters.

It lays in the valley formed by two ancient volcanoes, Mt. Asog and Mt. Malinao. It was created in 1641, when an earthquake caused a side of Mt. Asog to collapse. The resulting landslide created a natural dam that blocked the flow of nearby streams.

Another theory suggests that it was created by the eruption of Mt. Asog, which is now dormant.
The lake is famous since it is one of the few bodies of water that contain the sinarapan (Mistichthys luzonensis), the world's smallest commercially-harvested fish.

Aside from the sinarapan, Lake Buhi is also home for other marine organisms such as the Irin-irin (Redigobius dispar), Dalag (Channa striata), Puyo (Anabas testudines), Kotnag (Hemiramphus sp.), Burirawan (Strophidon sathete) and native catfish (Clarias sp.).
Other fishes are introduced to boost the fishery industry such as the Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus), Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) and Bangkok Hito (Clarias sp.)(PNA)

Conditional cash transfer will bring down poverty by 10 percent: Soliman

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov.2 (PNA)-- Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman said on Saturday that the conditional cash transfer (CCT) an anti-poverty measures would indeed bring down by 10 percent the poverty threshold of millions of extremely poor families in the country by the next five years.

Soliman said the CCT’s or popularly known as 4P’s (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program ) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would move out from the poverty level 10 percent of the 4.6 million families considered extremely poor based on the 2009 National Housing Targeting System (NHTS) survey by the agency.

Dispelling claims of administration critiques that the CCT is plainly “dole outs” and serves only as palliative measure without giving positive impacts to the marginalize sector of the Philipppine society, she said it would invariably pull down the poverty incidence under a medium and long term effect.

She said based on the 2006 National Statistic Office survey 33.9 percent of the country’s population are living below the poverty level but with the implementation of the CCT it is expected that in next five years the country’s the population of impoverished families would go down 24.5 percent or a 10 percent decline by 2016.

Soliman at a media briefing here following a Convergence Forum Caravan said her agency is pursuing an aggressive anti-poverty intervention program which have three components that includes the KALAHI CIDSS, SEA-K a livelihood program for the poor and the 4P’s or CCT.

The interventions are ingredients in the agency agenda under the “Tatlong paa sa pagpuksa ng kahirapan” a national anti-poverty measure designed to uplift the economic status of the poorest families across the country, she pointed out.

Under PNoy’s administration the social welfare agency is building more on human capital through investments in health, nutrition and education particularly children with age ranging 0 to 14 years.

“Extremely poor families are deprived of their basic rights on education, health and nutrition that is why we are focused on investing in human capital, this way their living condition would start to improve,” she averred.

Soliman said to carry out these pro-poor interventions the DSWD asked Congress to approved their P34 billion agency budget for next year, the fund requirement according to Soliman represent only 3.4 percent of the total National Budget.

Soliman said she is hopeful that Congress would approve the agency budget as 62 percent or P21 billion of their budget would be spent for CCT’s the rest for other agency programs.

She said by 2011 the agency is targeting 2.2million poor families to be the beneficiaries of CCT, Kalahi and Sea-K programs.

The 4P’s is a poverty reduction strategy initiated by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo now Congresswoman, the program was also carried out by Pres. Benigno Aquino III.

The program provides conditional cash grants of P1,400 per month to extremely poor households to allow their family members to meet certain development goal this include education, health and nutrition.

In Bicol the 4P’s now covers 59 towns , covering 571 villages with 85,395 beneficiaries. (PNA)