Friday, January 28, 2011

DOLE to investigate Chinese national’s death in Bicol mining site

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 28 (PNA) – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional office here is conducting investigations on the circumstances behind the death two weeks ago of a Chinese national in a reported accident at a mining site in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur.

DOLE regional director Alvin Villamor on Friday said their investigations will focus on the health and safety aspects of the mining operations.

“Our health and safety team is ready to proceed and investigate but the area is still impassable owing to heavy rains that have been causing floods and landslide in the area. They are on a stand-by and will go as soon as the way is cleared,” Villamor said.

To reach the mining site and scene of the incident, he said the team had to negotiate rough roads and mountainous terrains and it is very risky when done under rainy weather condition, he said.

According to belated reports reaching his office, Villamor said Chinese national Chen Te Hao was killed last January 6 when a huge boulder smashed into his head during a clearing operation at the mining in Barangay Himagtokon, Lagonoy, a far-flung village listed by the military as communist rebel infested.

Chen was employed by Prime Rock Mining Corporation that is engaged in a small-scale mining operations in the same village said to be rich in gold, copper and silver, Villamor said.

Based on DOLE records, he said the victim was a holder of an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) issued by DOLE-National Capital Region and has been in the country for some time.

“Our investigation team headed by Engrs. Rey Imperial and Roberto Aranas will be joining their counterparts from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that is also conducting their own investigations on the incident,” the DOLE regional chief said.

The operations of Prime Rock in the area, according to records of the Philippine National Police regional office at Camp Gen Simeon Ola here, was the center of controversy late last year when another mining firm operating adjacent to its site complained about its blasting operations that are prohibited under its small-scale mining permit issued by the provincial government.

MGB Regional Director Reynulfo Juan on the other hand said the Prime Rock mining operations was illegal because it has no permit from his agency even as the provincial government has issued a small-scale mining permit to it.

The provincial mining permit was issued to a certain Benito Salandanan on July 30, 2010 by Vice Gov. Fortunato Peña, in behalf of Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. who was then out of the country, Juan said.

Juan said Prime Rock supposedly has an arrangement with Bicol Chromite, a mining company with exploration permit in the area.

Police Supt. Adelio Benjamin Castillo, chief of regional operations and plans division of the PNP, said that Alejandro G. Cruz-Herrera, president of Agbiag Mining and Development Corporation had claimed that Prime Rock had been encroaching inside their company’s mining area.

Herrera late on November 2010 complained to the police on the blasting operations of Prime Rock inside his firm’s territory, Castillo said.

“We are not concerned about this controversy however as our only purpose in our investigations is to determine the health and safety standards being adopted by the mining firm in the area. Should we find out that there are lapses that caused the death of Chinese national, then, we will impose sanction,” Villamor added. (PNA)

Group wants Albayanos to quit smoking and influence visitors, too

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 27 (PNA) – The Smoke-Free Albay Network is striving hard to reduce the number of smokers, both residents and visitors, especially the youth.

Given a chance, Rose Olarte Orbita, a media practitioner cum Committee Chairperson, said the recent experience is both inspiring and a challenge to the wider scope and coverage of the Smoke-Free campaign that started only as a small group within this city but is now being pushed province-wide in Albay.

With a slew of events scheduled, one of its success stories was the recent launch of scouts’ smoke-free commitment as one of the highlights of the 1st ASEAN Neighborhood Invitational Jamboree at Kawa-Kawa Hill, Tuburan, Ligao City, held the whole of Last week (Jan 17 – 22)

Some 4,090 participating boy scouts from all delegations with ages ranging from 12 – 15 attended the launching of the scouts’ smoke-free commitment at the grand arena of the camp set up at the hill which looks like a giant vat. Olarte said the scouters also joined the hiking activity afterwards.

The activity signals the start of the process by which as merit badge may be earned by a scouter. At the moment, 22 merit badges may be earned by a boy scout for community service to meritorious deeds. When approved by the national Boys Scouts of the Philippines (BSP), the smoke-free merit badge will be the 23rd.

Albay 3rd District Rep. Fernando V. Gonzales exhorted the young scouts to never try smoking or those who do to stop while it is not yet too late.

In his inspirational message, Gonzalez who confessed that he has quit smoking, said that the young generations are very fortunate that advocacies on anti-smoking are conducted unlike during his childhood where they were never informed of the harmful effects of smoking not to both smokers themselves as well as passive smokers.

Similarly, the welcome message of BSP Albay (Mayon Council) executive Bienvenido T. Canlapan urged the scouters not to try smoking as such affects the health of an individual.

Canlapan, who, at age 67, is robust and strong, informed that his then youth ‘gang’ of 14 has only 4 surviving members, all are non-smokers.

Other discussions during the activity were the presentation of the SFAN advocacy imparted by Herbert S. Borja, provincial board member and SFAN and a health talk focusing on the The Power of Smoke-Free Kids.

The highlight of the affair was the pledge of commitment that enunciated the wholehearted vow by choosing to live and promote smoke-free environment at home, school, and community. This was followed by the signing of commitment by each scouter present.

An SFAN booth was put up at the camp site to distribute anti-smoking IEC materials.

SFAN was created through executive order No. 13-201 signed in October last year by Governor Joey Salceda, also the honorary chair. The network aims to monitor and encourage the enforcement of laws, circulars, ordinances and resolutions on anti-smoking. It, too, promotes healthy lifestyle.

SFAN is an aggregation of national government agencies, local government offices and non-government organizations, including religious groups. (PNA)

Governor seeks govt take over of Albay electric coop
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 27 (PNA) -- A power cut-off looms in the entire province of Albay unless the Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) raise a substantial amount to settle its outstanding electric bills with the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) amounting to P1.2 billion.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is set to cut off power to the ALECO on February 1, Albay Gov. Joey S. Salceda said on Thursday.

Salceda said ALECO currently owes PEMC P 1.2 billion in unpaid electricity bills since March last year.

The electric cooperative would have to pay P258 million before February or else face a total “blackout” in the province composed of 15 towns and three cities.

Salceda, in an interview, said the best way to solve the problem is for the government to take over the management of ALECO.

Salceda said he already asked Energy Secretary Rene Almendras to assist the cooperative by directing the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to take over the management and operation of the ailing cooperative to revive its financial and operational condition.

“Once NEA takes over ALECO it could implement reforms, and be made a temporary shield against PEMC threats of power cut off,” Salceda pointed out.

According to Salceda, ALECO has been a “problem cooperative” for the past years due to debts from the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Corp. (PSALM) amounting P1.7 billion and with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) amounting to P180 million.

But Fr. Ramoncito Segubience, executive director of the Social Action Center (SAC) of the Diocese of Legazpi, said that what is needed is a complete reform of ALECO as taking over its management and operation would be an added burden for the NEA who is also saddled with problems from other electric cooperative across the country.

Salceda said the mounting unsettled debts of the electric cooperative is due to the spikes in electricity rates imposed by the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

WESM is providing 60 percent of the 300 million kilowatt hour yearly electricity requirement of ALECO for some 250,000 electricity consumers in the 15 town and three cities of the province.

On the other hand, the 40 percent power supply requirement of the cooperative is provided by Aboitiz, an independent power producer (IPP) operating the Tiwi Geothermal plant in Albay.

Salceda also blamed the National Power Corporation (NPC) for its failure to enter into a bilateral agreement with IPPs when they took over the management of ALECO for more than a year.(PNA)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DOH urges Bicol LGUs to help prevent disease outbreak

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 25 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol is urging various local government units to improve their health services and surveillance activities to prevent a potential disease outbreak.

The appeal came in the wake of a diarrhea outbreak in Barangay Butanawan, an island village in Siruma, Camarines Sur, where a nine-month-old baby died and 250 villagers fell ill due to water contamination.

Dr. Nestor Santiago, DOH regional director at the Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), said the rapid health assessment conducted by a team of epidemiologist in the area indicated that continuous rains contaminated the main water source of the village. Majority of the households also have no sanitary toilets, and villagers make use of the shoreline as their waste disposal.

The DOH statistics showed that only 66 percent of total households in Bicol have sanitary toilets, 20 percent short of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) commitment that at least 86 percent of the households in the region should have toilets.

Water samples tested by the agency from the village water source (spring and deep wells) were found to have been contaminated with human waste.

To curb a disease outbreak in the community, Santiago urged local health officials to hold regular sanitation inspection as a preventive measure.

He also reminded the various provincial health officials to activate their Provincial Epidemiologist Surveillance Units (PESU) and Health Emergency Management Service (HEMS) to manage health concerns that may pose a threat to a community. (PNA)

16 farm-to-market roads need immediate rehab in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 25 (PNA) -– A total of 16 farm-to-market roads (FMRs) in Albay province need immediate rehabilitation to prevent disruption of delivery of agricultural produce.

The repair of these roads is also crucial in the relief efforts in areas affected by calamities such as landslides and flash floods.

Salve C. Tongco, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer, said these roads are the Buga-Malolos via Panganiban FMR, San Jose-Harigue, Buga-Bariw via Balatingo FMR, San Jose-Malabiga and Villa Petrona-Libtong FMR all in Libon town; Ogob-Bulang FMR, Bulang-Quinarabasahan FMR both in Malinao town; Buyo-Sito Calpi FMR in Manito town;

Banquerohan-Villahermosa FMR in Legazpi City; Bayandong-San Andres-Salvacion FMR in Sto. Domingo town; Balinad-Hacienda Madarietta FMR in Polangui town; Mauraro-Mapaco in Guinobatan town; Agol-Basicao Interior FMR in Pioduran town; Mayon-San Ramon-San Vicente-Biga FMR in Daraga town; Balogo-Parina-Labadami, and San Juan-San Vicente FMR both in Oas town.

Tongco has sought the endorsement of Albay Governor Joey Salceda for funding of the road rehabilitation by the provincial government.

Tongco said these roads were heavily damaged by the recent continuous rains that caused landslides and flash floods.

Tongco said an estimated P96 million budget is needed to restore these FMRs.

Two heavily damaged FMRs were the Bayandong-San Andres-Salvacion FMR in Sto. Domingo town and the Balogo-Parina-Labadami FMR in Oas town which needed at least P10 million each.(PNA)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

NPC set to collect environment charge from power consumers
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Jan. 24 (PNA) -– The National Power Corporation (NPC) has been going around the country conducting expository hearings on its desire to collect from power consumers an additional fee called the Universal Charge-Environmental Charge (UC-EC) this year.

Republic Act 9136, also known as Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, has mandated the NPC, through its Watershed Management Department (WMD), to administer the EC which is equivalent to one-fourth of a centavo (P 0.0025) per kilowatt-hour (kwh) sales intended solely for the rehabilitation and management of NPC-managed watershed areas.

This is the portion of the UC that refers to the charge, if any, imposed for the recovery of the stranded cost and other purposes, including an EC, NPC-WMD manager Emmanuel Umali explained to hundreds of participants in an expository hearing it conducted at the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) here over the weekend.

Umali said CNSUA expository presentation is the second leg of the WMD nationwide sorties as required by the law before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) comes to the final hearing on March 21, 2011 on the petition filed by the NPC for the implementation of the UC-EC.

Based on the yearly total energy sales forecast, WMD proposes programs and projects that can maintain the productive condition of NPC-managed watershed reservations for sustained power generation.

Specifically, these programs and projects aim to maintain and increase the forest cover of all watershed areas under NPC’s jurisdiction and watershed areas with NPC generating plants.

It also intends to protect the remaining watershed resources; rehabilitate eroded areas and stabilize slopes along waterways and reservoirs; and enhance participation of communities inside watersheds in watershed protection and conservation.

On or before March 15 of every year, the proposed programs and projects are submitted to the ERC in the form of a petition for their approval after publication in various local and national newspapers prior to the conduct of a public hearing.

The same authority given to NPC is also supported by RA 6395, allowing it “to exercise complete jurisdiction and control over watersheds surrounding the reservoirs of power plants and power projects; and EO 224, which also vested upon NPC “the complete jurisdiction, control and regulation of seven watershed areas around its power plants.”

Umali said that the fund that will be collected will be used for qualified projects under UC-EC which includes; watershed rehabilitation, watershed protection, acquisition and maintenance of tools, equipment, hardware and software relative to watershed database management, for research and development and for technical, legal, administrative and logistical support.

In the provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur, Umali said the NPC has already accomplished more than 70 per cent of their approved projects.

“We have already completed the vegetative rehabilitation project, which includes reforestation, agroforestry and vetiver plantation in both Albay and Camarines Sur, the same with the structural rehabilitation in both provinces, which includes riprap and check dam projects,” he said.

In the national level, among the programs and projects lined-up for implementation include rehabilitation and stabilization of open areas, sparsely vegetated areas and critically degraded areas of the watersheds through vegetative measures.

Strategies under watershed protection include community based watershed protection program through the operation of Bantay Watershed Task Force and watershed protection awareness campaign either by broadcast, print or special media and the conduct of livelihood training.

Biodiversity conservation and ecotourism are also implemented in certain areas of the watersheds to conserve and enhance their biodiversity.

A sound watershed management provides continuous supply of water not only for drinking and irrigation but also for power generation.

Almost half of the electricity produced in the country comes from both the hydroelectric and geothermal power plants which are being supported by watersheds.

Through the environmental fund of the universal charge, NPC assured that proper management of the watersheds will be attained and more stringent measures are adopted for their protection, development, management and rehabilitation, he stressed.

Last year, Umali said the NPC-WMD accomplished various projects for the watershed rehabilitation under UC-EC that included the established total area of 1,958 hectares of open and denuded areas covering 11 watersheds. Rehabilitation include projects on reforestation, agroforestry, rubber plantation, bamboo plantation, and silvicultural treatments, among others.

“We also established 6,650 cubic meters of structural measures prevent soil erosion of degraded and flood prone areas; produced more than three million seedlings of various forestry species and fruit trees for watershed rehabilitation projects and; maintained the 1,628-hectare plantations established from 2005 to 2008 to ensure sustainability,” he said. (PNA)

Tent shelter homes put up for landslide affected families in Albay
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 24 (PNA) -- Provincial disaster authorities here have transferred to the newly set up tent shelter the six families whose houses were buried by a landslide that recently hit barangay (village) Calaguimit, a remote upland village in Oas town in Albay.

The provincial engineering office (PEO) said workers have completed the putting up of at least four shelter tents, two at the village public elementary school compound and another two tents at Purok 2 compound.

Provincial Engineer Dante Baclao said the tent made of canvass with steel post and trashes, and with laminated sack as flooring, measuring six by 12 meters could accommodate 10 families

The six affected families have been housed at tent shelter given by the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said another 20 families living near the site of the avalanche are also about to be transferred to safer grounds.

The area where the tent shelters were put up was cleared as safe grounds by geologists of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and by a team of geologists from Manila.

Salceda said the MGB inspected the village on Saturday and are in the process of preparing the assessment whether the entire village is threatened to be affected once a major landslide occurs anytime.

Salceda in an interview said two teams from the DOST Manila Observatory and University of the Philippines National Institute of Geology (UP-NIG) arrived here on Sunday to conduct on-site technical assessment of the place.

Salceda said he sought for their assistance in determining the maximum risk by landslide on the entire village so that "we can initiate disaster risk reduction measures."

Cedric Daep, Chief of the Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office (APSEMO) as part of the DRR relocation of the villagers is urgently needed because the more they stay longer in the place the more their lives at risk from landslide.

Daep said the recent landslide that hit the village is already a precursor to another major landslide, similar to that of the Guinsaugon mudslide tragedy that claimed the lives of hundreds of villagers in Southern Leyte in 2006.

He said “We don”t want such tragedy to happen in Albay,” so it is urgent to relocate the residents to a safer place.

Daep said aside from the precursor , signs such as cracks in the soil, concrete pavements, buildings are extremely noticeable, this also include the sinking of soils, terrain and landscapes.

He said his office is just waiting for the MGB finding and recommendations whether indeed the entire place is in danger to be wipe out by future major landlsides..

Salceda at the ocular inspection here, instructed Mayor Ricarte to start scouting for a place where it can transfer the 219 families, the relocation site must be ready before the start of the rainy days, he added.

Salceda said he would be needing P21.9 million funding to establish a permanent relocation site for the entire residents of barangay Calguimit.

He said the funds would be used to buy the lot and build 219 core shelter houses.

Barangay Calaguimit has 219 families with a population of 1,136, the village is 30 kilometers from the town proper.

Oas town is on the western side of Albay and the landslide incident is the third landslide event to occur in the western as most landslide happens on the eastern side of the province.

MGB landslide risk assessment indicate that there 52 villages in the five towns and a city in the third district of the province are prone to landslides, this would affect 6,211 families or 30,658 persons. (PNA)

Army adds 348 new men to curb insurgency

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan 24 (PNA) -– In sustaining momentum against insurgency, the Philippine Army (PA) in Bicol has added 348 new soldiers to its ranks to help in curbing the problem of insurgency in its six provinces and seven cities.

After completing their five-month Candidate Soldier Course, these soldiers were formally declared part of the 9th Infantry (Spear) Division PA last weekend in a ceremony held at the grounds of Camp Elias Angeles in San Jose in Pili, Camarines Sur.

Public Affairs officer Major Harold Cabunoc said that these young soldiers shall be distributed to different parts of the Bicol Region as augmentation forces.

Cabunoc explained that these soldiers were especially trained in International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights and Jungle and Mountain Warfare Operations.

Around 264 out of the 348 or 75 percent of the new soldiers are Bicolanos, the greatest percentage of locally-born soldiers, the other portion being composed of recruits from other parts of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

About 2,500 out of 5,000 who took the initial screening and pursued the training since August of 2010 and 348 graduated so far. (PNA)

Albay provides P82.5M capital assistance for different sectors

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 24 (PNA) – The provincial government of Albay has provided a total P82.5 million fund for the capital assistance of different sectors affected by various calamities since 2008 to 2010.

Albay governor Joey Salceda explained that fisher folks, agriculture farmers, women’s organization and transport sectors are among the beneficiaries of the capital assistance under the social assets program of the provincial government being implemented by the Albay Millennium Development Goals Office (AMDGO).

The P32.5 million fund is under the Bicol Care Self-employment Assistance sa Kaunlaran (SEA-K) that provides capital to entrepreneurial activities of farmers, women’s organizations and fisher folks cluster using the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) framework.

Each cluster has availed of the loan package with a minimum of 15 members or maximum of 25 with an allowable loan amount of P75,000 to P125,000.

The amount loaned is aimed to finance either a new or an existing entrepreneurial activity as alternative income generation.

“The Bicol Care SEA-K fund has benefited a total of 289 clusters or a total of 6,500 individuals since its full implementation from 2008 to December 2010,” Salceda said.

In her report to governor Salceda, AMDGO program coordinator Jeresha San Jose said that as of January 2011 the loan repayment collection is P9.5 million. “The repayment of loan started in 2009 and is on going.”

She added the collected repayment is equivalent to 28.99 percent of the P32.5 million loaned by the provincial government from DSWD. There were some delays in repayment of loans due to different calamities like La Nina, El Nino, floods and landslides that affected the farm production.

Another social asset program is the Expanded Plus Transport Operators and Drivers Association (E-TODA), a micro-financing program in partnership with the Philippine Postal Savings Bank.

The PPSB has released an amount of P50 million to the province that benefited transport organizations province-wide. E-TODA is a micro-financing for an alternative livelihood of transport sector. (PNA)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The front cover page of the book Pili: Bicol's Pride in a Nutshell published and recently launched by the Bicol University. --danny calleja

Friday, January 21, 2011

Suspected NPAs kill militiaman in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan 21 (PNA) -- An off-duty militiaman was shot and killed by suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Irosin town, Sorsogon, the military reported on Friday.
Marcelino Nanoz, 40, was walking outside his home in Sitio Sumagon(sub-village), Barangay Gulang-gulang when three armed men blocked his way and repeatedly shot him on Thursday morning.

Nanoz sustained multiple gunshot wounds all over his body, killing him instantly.

A relative who refused to be identified witnessed the killing. He said three young men who appeared to be minors perpetrated the killing.

“One of the assailants looked like a 15-year-old boy who was wearing basketball jerseys and slippers. The older man pulled the trigger while the two others watched alongside him,” he said.

Bystanders who were near the crime scene said the rebels targeted the militiaman for being an informant who led troops towards the location of the rebels some years ago.

“Iyan nagpasubo sa aming kasamahan dati,” they quoted the fleeing rebels as saying.

The victim was brought to a funeral parlor in Irosin town for medico-legal examination.

Sources from the intelligence community said there is an indication that the assailants were newly recruited young members of the NPA’s Special Partisan Unit (SPARU).

Last year, 45 innocent people including 8 militiamen were killed by the bandit group around the Bicol Region. The local communist terrorists have claimed responsibility over most of the killings.

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

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

“If these rebels are sincere in their calls for the peaceful resolution of this conflict, they must stop their policy of summary executions as this is a clear violation of human rights,” said Pabustan. (PNA)

Landslide buries five houses in Albay

OAS, Albay, Jan 21 (PNA) -- Five houses were reported buried by a landslide in an upland village here on Thursday as local disaster officials preemptively evacuated families to safer grounds due to heavy flooding.

Oas Mayor Gregorio Ricarte reported to Albay Governor Joey Salceda, also chairman of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PRDDMC), that five houses were hit by a landslide in Barangay Calaguimit in Oas on Thursday night.

“No casualty as families were preemptively evacuated to safer grounds, Ricarte said in his report.

Aside from the landslide, a total of 219 families have also been isolated by floods which prevented disaster officials from negotiating a river by land to conduct ground survey.

Ricarte said that Calaguimit has a total population of 1,136 and flooding occurred in the area when its river system overflowed.

“Oas is on the western side of Albay and this is the third reported landslide in the western half of the province. Most landslides are on the eastern side,” Salceda said on Friday.

Residents in the western side of Albay were evacuated since Thursday evening due to threat of more landslides.

On the other hand, Ricarte said some 161 families in Casinagan, another upland barangay in Oas, were also preemptively evacuated as a landslide previously occurred in the area during Super Typhoon ‘Reming’ in Nov. 30, 2006.

The provincial social welfare and development office (PSWDO) has readied 78 bags of rice for delivery to the affected residents.

The western side of Albay was barraged by heavy rains after recently easing on the eastern side.

Expert meteorologist Antonio Arispe warned residents in the hilly villages of Oas, Ligao City, and Pioduran, all in the third district of Albay, to be vigilant against possible landslides due to half-month rains which loosened the soils particularly in denuded areas.

Preemptive evacuations were ordered by the PDRRMC across the province since early this month to prevent loss of lives.

A total of 73 small landslides were reported in the province prior to the big landslide in Oas on Thursday. (PNA)

Bicol mayors support DILG’s water program for LGUs

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 20 (PNA) – Local government units (LGUs) across Bicol have formalized their support to the program of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) aimed at providing potable water to poor communities in the region under the auspices of the Millennium Development Goal Achievement Fund (MDGF 1919).

The MDG program dubbed "Enhancing Access to and Provision of Water Services with the Active Participation of the Poor" intends to contribute to the improvement of efficiency, access, affordability and quality of potable water services.

Interior and Local Government regional director for Bicol Blandino Maceda on Thursday said MDGF 1919, through the DILG, is establishing support mechanism for the program that include the development of a range of incentive options and partnership modalities.

Maceda said 36 municipalities in five regions of the country that include Bicol are considered waterless, making them the primary target of the program.

The other four regions are Cagayan Valley (Region II), Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX) and Northern Mindanao (Region X) and Caraga (Region XIII).

MDGF 1919 has provided a total funding of US$ 5.375 million for the implementation of the program in the Philippines by the DILG with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The United Nations Development Fund (UNDF) and the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) are supporting it.

Under the program, the DILG’s Office of the Project Development Services (OPDS) will provide organizational and technological assistance to the recipient-municipalities and help them develop, organize and sustain their Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) Councils composed of key provincial, municipal and barangay officers.

The OPDS, with its Water Supply and Sanitation Unit (WSSU), is responsible for the water and sanitation sector agenda of the department.

The Unit is mandated to develop and strengthen LGU capabilities in planning, financing, implementation and management of water supply and sanitation programs and projects within the framework of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The IWRM Plan Framework is a directional plan. It is intended to guide the different stakeholders involved in water resources management, at different levels, to either prepare their respective, update their existing IWRM related plans or make IWRM an integral part of their development programs.

It provides a clear roadmap and a collaborative platform for all stakeholders and water-related agencies to effectively work together to achieve water for all in a sustainable, equitable and ecologically balanced manner.

This directional plan framework also seeks to enable and encourage a wider adoption and localization of IWRM, across different stakeholders, at different levels.

It will guide water-related government agencies and other stakeholders in ensuring that water and IWRM are mainstreamed and integrated in their respective plans, programs and projects.

The plan will also be the take-off in the preparation of regional and local IWRM Operational and Action Plans.

It also provides for the empowerment of Barangay Water and Sanitation (BAWASA) teams composed of volunteer residents from the barangays.

According to OPDS records, 17 million Filipinos still do not have access to safe water, while there are still 273 waterless municipalities that are yet to be reached by the President’s Priority Program on Water (P3W).

There are 12 provinces in the five regions that cover the 36 waterless municipalities of about 122,000 households identified by the MDGF 1919 for its priority attention.

Maceda said the program will use the services of water experts, engineers, development workers, community organizers and communication specialists to improve the water and sanitation skills of provincial and municipal WATSAN personnel in five of the six Bicol provinces included in it.

Through the DILG mentoring system, LGUs will be capacitated to develop their own customer service guidelines for water services, organizational management and local resource, strategic and communication plans, Maceda said.

With the WATSAN councils and BAWASA teams organized and capacitated, the DILG and its MDGF partners expect significant improvement in accessing clean and potable water by the beneficiary LGUs and empower them to become implementers of the project, he added.

Among the Bicol municipalities included in the program are Monreal and San Pascual in Masbate; Sta. Magdalena, Casiguran, Juban and Castilla in Sorsogon; Milaor, Cabusao, Gainza and Siruma in Camarines Sur; Capalonga in Camarines Norte and Tiwi in Albay.

Mayors of these municipalities were attendees to the two-day Local Governance Water Forum organized by the DILG and held at the Ateneo de Naga Univesity in Naga City last week.

In the forum, the mayors signed a manifesto of support to the program that also called national leaders into action in addressing the problems on potable water affecting various municipalities in the region that belong mostly to the poorest local government classifications.

With regard to the call to action, Maceda said MDGF 1919 is already an answer to it as it is a joint program of the Philippine government and the United Nations (UN) System in the Philippines that brings together relevant agencies working on water and sanitation in the pursuit of the country’s commitment to providing water to all Filipinos.

Specifically, he said, the program aims to enhance provision of and access to water services of poor communities by filling in the “soft” component gap of existing national government programs, particularly the P3W.

It focuses on the limited investments support to enable the poor to have greater access to quality potable water and the lack of local capacities to develop, operate and manage water supply utilities which are two major issues as identified in the Philippine Water Supply Sector Roadmap.

The program has two components --the first takes stock of existing policies and mechanisms that encourage both the public and private sector to invest at the local level and review current financing and programming schemes through stakeholder consultations.

On the other hand, the second component focuses on building the skills, values and knowledge of both LGUs and water user associations in targeted “waterless” municipalities to develop, operate and manage potable water utilities through mentoring, and local skills and knowledge learning and sharing activities, Maceda said. (PNA)

DSWD expands conditional cash transfer in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 20 (PNA) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has expanded the coverage of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) in four remaining towns in Albay province.

President Benigno Aquino III recently approved the inclusion of four remaining towns (Camalig, Tiwi, Guinobatan and Oas) in the CCT program to help poor families specially those economically displaced due to the heavy rains for the past weeks.

“This actually constitutes the biggest and the more socio-economically beneficial relief to our province in this period of economic stress,” Albay Governor Joey Salceda said.

He thank president Aquino and DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman for the immediate response to address the needs of displaced families specially farmers and fisherfolks in the province. “Conditional cash transfers build disaster resilience of poor families and the experience of Albay is a prime example.”

Manito town is a major CCT area of DSWD regional office with almost 1,000 families-beneficiaries- that is one out of three poor families in this geograpically disadvantaged and isolated area of Albay.

According to the governor, unlike all other Albay local government units, Manito is most unique and an exemplar since it is the only town where barangays do not wait for the province to order evacuation.

“Once their rain gauges reach threshold, they evacuate on their initiative and just notify the province of their need for food assistance to replenish what they initially expended and that ability is significantly aided by conditional cash transfers,” Salceda added.

He further said cash is the most flexible form of relief since it enables the poor to make choices- whether it is sardines or eggs for viand, and if it sardines, whether Ligo Sardine or Century Tuna. “Unless, of course, there are supply rigidities when relief goods are needed to expand available supply.”

In the current Tail End of Cold Front (TECF) disaster episode, expanding this safety net was priority request of Albay for assistance from the national government made during the presidential visit.

“This actually constitutes the biggest and the more socio economically beneficial relief to our province in this period of economic stress,” he said.

The next imperative is to expand the current coverage of 11,869 to target the poor families of 42,500 school age kids not in school to enable us to achieve full participation in basic education Millennium Development Goals (MDG2) by 2015. The optimal long term target would be the 92,880 total number of Albay families living below the poverty threshold. (PNA)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

300 poor families to benefit from P5-M food security program in Albay
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 20 (PNA) – Three towns and two cities composed of 300 poorest families in the province of Albay have been identified for the implementation of a pilot project with an aim to improve the lives of economically displaced residents by calamities such as typhoons, floods, landslides, and Mayon volcano eruption.

The project has been initiated by the Provincial Government of Albay with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

The project will cost P5 million and will develop a climate change preparedness model out of Albay in order to promote sustainable food security, nutrition, generate income, employment to provide for other needs and build capacities of food and income deficient people to make the model sustainable.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said the project will deploy the strategies developed by the NAPC and Farmers Community Development Foundation International (FCDF) with funding from UNDP.

The project components to promote food security and nutrition are: planting of carbohydrate-rich root and tuber crops, corn and vitamin/mineral rich native vegetables; establish a native vegetable garden in every school and day care center to support feeding program; planting of fruit bearing tree in every home; organic fertilizer production; poultry (native chicken) raising in every home; and food security garden in every barangay.

The official explained that this initiative can help provide nutritious foods immediately to displaced families due to calamities.

This project also promote income generation and employment through a banner vegetable and fruit in every barangay; an organic fertilizer factory in selected barangays and produce 200 head native chicken breeding project.

Jeresha San Jose, program coordinator of the Albay Millennium Development Goals Office (AMDGO), said the project entitled “Developing a Model to Promote Food Security and Nutrition in the Province” will be piloted in the towns of Sto. Domingo, Guinobatan and Daraga towns, Legazpi City and Ligao City.

One hundred target beneficiaries in every pilot town or city will be selected to participate the project. “This number will increase as loan repayments are collected and re-loaned until almost all or all interested residents are served.”

San Jose explained that this project will help beneficiaries prepare climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. “This will also enable economically displaced families to produce their food in the shortest possible time when natural calamities strike.”

She emphasized that in this project there will be no dole-outs, meaning nothing is free except training and capacity building and farmers have to pay for all inputs they will use and repayment can be re-loaned to other farmers until all target beneficiaries are served.

San Jose said to access the capital, a micro-credit in-kind will be established in which it would be easy for participants to borrow and even easier for them to pay. (PNA)

Diarrhea kills 9-month baby, affects 250 in Camarines Sur, DOH monitors cases

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 19 (PNA) -- Health authorities are closely monitoring the increasing diarrhea cases caused by contaminated water that already killed a nine-month baby and affected 250 villagers, majority of whom are children, in barangay Butawanan in Siruma town in Camarines Sur, the Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) said Wednesday.

The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol reported that baby was the first casualty of the water-borne disease.

While the cases are increasing, the DOH has yet to declare a diarrhea outbreak pending results of an on-going surveillance investigation.

The DOH Epidemiologist surveillance team sent to the village reported that 250 out of the 450 residents examined on site were positive to cholera type of diarrhea. They are all undergoing treatment, the DOH said.

In a news conference, Dr. Rose Rempillo, DOH assistant regional director, said of the 250 diarrhea patients, 25 patients are in serious condition, 150 were in the moderate stage, and 75 have mild diarrhea.

Rempillo said based on the rapid assessment report of the surveillance team, barangay Butawanan, an island village in Siruma town, have a population of 4,000 and half of the total households are affected by diarrhea.

She said 90 percent of the village water source come from spring, deep and shallow wells which were contaminated due to continuous rains since December.

The RDRRMC said the island village is an hour boat ride from Siruma town, which is a six-hour drive from this city.

For his part, Raffy Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional director told news reporters that with the assistance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP, Navy, Army) they flew in and set up a five-man DOH Field Hospital equipped with doctors, nurses, and medicines in the area, where hundreds of the barangay residents sought medical consultation and treatment.

The DOH, as intervention measures to prevent the spread of diarrhea, have recommended a total rehabilitation of the water system, the inspection of household toilets and hold advocacy drive to improve sanitary practice and personal hygiene among residents in the village. (PNA)

Heightened alert raised over Sorsogon landslide-prone areas
By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY , Jan 19 (PNA) – Local disaster authorities have placed Sorsogon province under a heightened alert status as heavy rains that have been continuously pelting the area for the past three weeks raised fear of landslides in high-risk sites.

“We are now under Code Yellow Alpha alert situation that placed all personnel, equipments and facilities for emergency response on stand-by mode round-the-clock,” Manro Jayco, the action officer of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) announced here on Wednesday.

All 15 municipalities of the province are now areas of concern given the prolonged and continuous rainfall. Ten towns including this city have been identified by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as hazard zones for floods and landslides.

These are the coastal municipalities of Magallanes, Juban, Bulan, Casiguran, Gubat, Prieto Diaz, Barcelona, Pilar, Castilla and Donsol whose territories also cover deforested mountains and hilly terrains exposed to landslides. Major rivers in these areas have been overflowing amidst these heavy rains, Jayco said.

Minor landslides as of Wednesday have been reported here and the towns of Juban and Magallanes but no significant damages were recorded, he added.

These areas have past histories of landslides with Magallanes previously recording 18 fatalities and 210 families economically displaced when their houses in Barangay Hobo were buried under the debris of a massive landslide at the height of typhoon Dante in May 2009.

Weather forecaster Darwin Diquitin of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Bicol regional station in Legazpi City on Tuesday warned the Sorsogon PDRRMC that rains will continue until next week in the province due to the prevailing northeast monsoon and the tail-end of a cold front.

”Sorsogon people should also expect colder weather in the next days due to Syberian wind,” Diquitin said.

Meanwhile local government units (LGUs) in the province are adopting a proactive tool in responding to disaster emergencies under the Surveillance in Post Extreme Emergencies and Disaster (SPEED) strategies.

The Department of Health (DOH) with technical assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO) has instituted SPEED, as a high-tech and post-disaster surveillance tool.

SPEED aims to provide immediate information and data that will help decision-makers and health workers to correctly and accurately respond to illness and injuries after disasters or emergencies. It is an early warning and response tool making use of technology like mobile phones and the internet for fast and urgent reporting, the DOH said.

This strategy was introduced by the WHO to mayors and their DRR officials during a recent seminar in Legazpi City facilitated by Dr. Soe Nyunt-u, the organization’s country representative.

According to Nyunt-u , the challenge today is to expose local government executives and local health workers to respond immediately in the immediate, efficient and accurate reporting and the gathering of data from the grass roots level in different barangays affected by calamities so that fast intervention can be provided.

As this developed, the provincial government of Sorsogon has been given a P2 million assistance by the WHO for the establishment of its Health Emergency Management Staff Office (HEMS) to address concerns in terms of disaster.

“Through the establishment of HEMS you can address the early detection of potential disease outbreaks and monitor trends of priority health conditions,” Nyunt-u said. (PNA)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Police chief to sanction abusive cops
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan 18 (PNA) -- Police Chief Supt. Cecilio Calleja Jr., Bicol police chief, recently issued a stern warning of sanctions against policemen found to have committed abuses in the performance of their duties.

Calleja, citing the Broken-Window Theory, said that in order to stop abuses in the ranks, the essence of leadership by example is important.

He reminded his provincial police directors that “as leaders, you should lead the corps in bringing back the old glory of the PNP by regaining the trust and confidence of the public through Accountability, Discipline and Performance towards the organization, country and people.”

He directed all Chief of Police (COPs) to exercise full command responsibility on all the behaviors and demeanors of their subordinates.

He emphasized that they should impose disciplinary actions immediately to erring policemen for any acts of misbehavior and wrongdoings, otherwise, they are the ones who will be subjected to administrative disciplinary actions under the doctrine of command responsibility.

Calleja, in acknowledging the need to boost the morale of the entire PNP Bicol and drive it into another year-round of law enforcement activities, together with department heads, conducted command visit to Police Provincial Offices of Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Naga City Police Office.

The command visit replaces the traditional New Year’s call. Calleja also made courtesy calls on provincial governors and city mayors.

Calleja said that the command visit aims to know directly the issues and concerns of the various police provincial directors and chiefs of police and to disseminate, likewise, the issues and concerns of the Directorial Staff to ensure efficient and effective public service in the year 2011.

Highlighting the visit, Calleja distributed 9mm pistols and desktop computers to selected Municipal/City Police Stations and awarded PNP medals to deserving PNP personnel who demonstrated extraordinary performance that contributed to the over-all countless achievements of the PNP.

At the command conference, Calleja brought out issues and concerns affecting the present morale of the police force.

The different measures to be undertaken in order to correct the negative perception of the public about the police were addressed at the meeting. (PNA)

World Food Programme gives Albay P5M in food assistance

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 18 (PNA) -- The United Nation World Food Programme (UN-WFP) Tuesday gave Albay 55,000 kilos of high energy biscuits worth P5 million to augment the supply of relief food items given by the province to thousands of economically displaced families affected by the continuous rains in Bicol for the past 24 days.

Stephen Anderson, WFP country director and representative, said the agency's food assistance was to augment and complement the on going relief operations in Bicol.

Anderson said his visit to Albay is to see the situation first hand and turnover the high energy biscuit to Albay through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol.

He said “we are very much concerned about the impacts of the rains that are expected to continue until March and so the areas here are so much saturated with water log which is affecting the livelihood of thousands of farmers and fisherfolks across the region.”

Anderson together with Mishael Argonza, WFP national programme officer in today’s meeting with Albay Governor Joey Salceda was impressed on the way the province carried out its disaster risk reduction (DRR) operation.

Anderson said “good thing the province considered the importance of disaster preparedness – Albay has done their very best in disaster preparedness and response.”

He said that Albay has proven to be the excellent model in disaster risk reduction among other local government units (LGUs) across the country, saying that the province has proven it’s excellence in DRR.

Salceda, in an interview, said the WFP food assistance was heeding the call of President Beningo “Noynoy” Aquino III for the augmentation of relief operation in flood and landslide stricken areas like Albay.

In briefing the WFP country director, the governor said 41,000 families were economically displaced by the prolonged moderate to heavy rains that pelted the province for almost three weeks and it affected the 3,099 farmers whose livelihood activities were hampered due to bad weather.

He said Pres. Aquino has directed Social Welfare Dinky Soliman to assist thousands of farmers and the economically displaced households in Albay by giving them livelihood activities by way of the “cash for work” program of the agency.

At the briefing, Salceda said some 106,150 families in 10 towna and two cities were affected by floods, lahar flow and landslide spawned by continuous rains.

He said 12,752 families living in landslide prone villages were move to various evacuation camps, representing 12 percent of the total affected population.

Quoting DPWH reports, Salceda said that damages to infrastructure in four Bicol provinces were estimated at P599.8 million with Albay the hardest hit with P476 million in damages, followed by Camarines Sur-P61 million, Catanduanes-P12.5 million and Camarines Norte with P10 million.

Damages to farm to market roads in Albay was estimated to reached P96 million affecting 12 Agrarian Reform Communities (ARC), according to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) provincial office. (PNA)

4 missing fishermen rescued, 18 remain missing in Bicol
By Rey M. Nasol

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 18 (PNA) – Rescuers found four of the nine missing Bicolano fishermen in a seaside village in Quezon Province, a police report said Tuesday.

But rescue volunteers are still uncertain if the six others are also safe or feared dead.

Senior Superintendent Ericson Velasquez, Quezon Provincial Director, said that the four survivors were among the seven crew members of a fishing boat who ventured off the high seas from their hometown in Mercedes, Camarines Norte last Sunday.

Velasquez identified the rescued fishermen as Renato Royo Del Rosario, 46; Ronaldo Obligasyon Riscal, 32; Jefferson Ramos Montes, 23; and Aldrin Estevez Rin, 31, all residents of Barangay Mambungalon Mercedes town.

The four were not among the nine fishermen from the same town who were reported as missing.

The survivors revealed that they were fishing near Balisin island off Sta. Elena town in Camarines Norte when strong waves swept their fishing boat farther away from their fishing area.

They said that their boat capsized and three of their companions, identified as Nestor Banzuelo, 55, a certain Bonoy, 40; and Tatang, 60, have remained missing.

Governor Edgar Tallado of Camarines Norte has immediately dispatched an ambulance to fetch the survivors from Perez town Tuesday morning.

Combined rescue teams of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are now combing the high seas and the seashores employing soldiers and CAFGU personnel to locate a total of 19 fishermen across the Bicol region including Nestor, Bonoy and Tatang.

Catanduanes province has declared four missing persons while 15 people were reported missing from Mercedes town in Camarines Norte.

Meanwhile, Major General Ruperto Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division has urged the local officials to organize the fishermen in their villages to easily monitor their activities, especially during typhoons.

He made the statement following the conflicting reports regarding the actual tally of the missing fishermen. Some of the fishermen’s relatives refused to declare that some relatives are missing.

“The village chiefs and other local chief executives can help this situation by listing all fishing boats and crew members and monitoring them on a daily basis. By doing this, search and rescue efforts by our disaster response teams will be much easier,” Pabustan said. (PNA)

DA, PhilRice provide Bicol farmers rice farm management skill under Agri-Pinoy

PILI, Camarines Sur, Jan. 17 (PNA) – Hundreds of Bicol farmers are now equipped with the PalayCheck technology providing them an integrated rice management approach that aims to develop their capability to effectively manage their rice farms and improve their crop yield.

Last week, 245 rice farmers from seven towns of the Bicol provinces of Camarines Sur and Albay graduated from the two-season Location Specific Technology Development (LSTD) on Palay Check training provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).

The training was conducted in cooperation with the DA’s Bicol Experiment Station here with the local government units (LGUs) of the participating municipalities — Pamplona, Libmanan, Nabua, Calabanga and this capital town for Camarines Sur and Oas and Camalig for Albay.

During the graduation rites, Diego Ramos, the PhilRice Los Baños branch manager urged the farmer-graduates to be vigilant in monitoring their farms and to religiously apply all the eight key palay checks they learned from the training.

The checks that revolve on seed quality, land preparation, crop establishment, pest management, and harvest management are the following:

Key check 1- Use certified seeds of a recommended variety. The seed of a recommended variety is certified by the National Seed Quality Control Service as shown by a blue tag attached to the sack. Foundation and registered seeds from accredited seed growers are also acceptable.

Key check 2 - No high and low soil spots after final leveling. The field should have no visible mound of soil above the water surface (two cm- three cm deep) after the final leveling.

Key check 3 - Practice synchronous planting after a fallow period. At least 75 percent of the fields serviced by a lateral canal of the irrigation service has been plowed before sowing the seeds. After a fallow period of 30 days, the field should have been planted within seven days before and seven days after majority of the irrigation service area has been planted.

Key check 4 - Sufficient number of healthy seedlings. For transplanted rice, the seed rate is 20 kilogram (kg) per (/) hectare (ha), 40 kg/ha for inbred and 15 kg/ha-20 kg/ha for hybrid. Replant missing hills within seven days after transplanting (DAT) and assess the health status of seedlings at 10 DAT.

There should be at least 25 hills per sq m. In every parcel, randomly select 10 hills each and find out if each hill has at least one healthy seedling.

For direct wet-seeded rice, the plant density at 15 days after seeding (DAS) for a rate of 40 kg of seeds/ha should be at least 150 plants per sq m. For a seed rate of 80 kg/ha, the plant density should be at least 300 plants per sq m.

Key check 5- Sufficient nutrients at early panicle initiation (EPI) to flowering. If the leaf color chart reading at EPI is below four for transplanted rice or below three for direct wet seeded rice, apply 1.5 bags urea/ha in the dry season or one bag urea/ha in the wet season. At flowering, transplanted rice should have at least 300 plants/sq m, while direct wet-seeded rice should have at least 350 plants/sq m.

Key check 6 - Avoid excessive water or drought stress that could affect the growth and yield of the crop. There should be no symptoms of stress due to excessive water at vegetative stage like reduced tillering and leaf area. Excessive water means water depth greater than 5 cm for 7 days or more.

At vegetative stage, there should also be no symptoms of drought like leaf rolling, leaf tip drying, and reduced leaf area, height and tiller number. From panicle initiation to grain filling, there should be no symptoms of stress due to drought like leaf rolling, leaf tip drying, reduced panicle exertion, and many unfilled grains.

Key check 7 - No significant yield loss due to pests. There should be no significant yield loss due to insect pests, diseases, weeds, rats, snails, and birds. Significant pest damage occurs when one or more pests cause damage on the crop. It will do well for farmers to familiarize themselves in identifying the insect pests and diseases of rice as well as how damage should be assessed.

Key check 8 - Cut and thresh the crop at the right time. Harvest the crop when one-fifth or 20 percent of the grains at the base of the panicle are in hard dough stage. Press a grain from the base of the panicle between the thumb and forefinger to assess hard dough stage. Most of the grains in the panicle will be golden yellow. Thresh the palay 1-2 days after harvest.

Palay Check is a technology developed by the PhilRice and being adopted by the DA for its agricultural program anchored on the “Agri-Pinoy” framework which promotes the principles of sustainable agriculture, natural resource-based management, food security and local development, according to DAR regional executive director for Bicol Jose Dayao.

He said the farmers' role in achieving food sufficiency is very vital hence, part of the Agri-Pinoy program is to train farmers especially on producing their own seed or seed banking.

Dayao also revealed that the DA regional office here will establish a seed storage facility in Bicol to ensure seed supply at any time.

The initial batch of 245 Bicol rice farmers who completed the technology training became part of the 500,000 farmers nationwide being targeted by the PhilRice to be provided with this technical assistance that would help improve their farm practices and rice yield, he added.

The PhilRice introduced the technology in 2008 and to reach the targeted half a million farmers throughout the country, the Institute trained 8,000 agricultural extension workers that now serve as its technology transfer arm assigned in 48 low-yielding provinces in the country.

These areas include the four Bicol provinces in its mainland—Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon.

Given that more and more farmers have been getting interested with the Palay Check System on learning that the yields of those who have adopted it have increased, Ramos said “we are now on the double training an increasing number of farmers. Research results of PhilRice specialists show that the more key checks farmers attain, the higher their yields become.” (PNA)

6,000 Boy Scouts join jamboree in Albay; no foreign delegate yet due to flight cancellations
By Mike de la Rama and Rey Nasol

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 17 (PNA) – Over 6,000 delegates from different provinces throughout the country have joined the International Boys Scout Jamboree in Kawakawa, Ligao from January 16-22 despite continuous heavy rains in the province of Albay for the past weeks.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said that no foreign delegation has arrived up to this time because of flights cancellation. “Although Ligao City is affected less by Tail End of a Cold Front than the southeast quadrant of the province, it is being impacted due to flight cancellations,” he said.

The provincial government in coordination with the host city deployed the Albay Health Emergency Management team, Provincial Health Personnel and Provincial Engineering Office to ensure delegates’ access to health services and other facilities.

Salceda also disclosed that P500,000 has been released by the provincial government as financial assistance to delegates of Albay. “The financial aid will cover their registration fee,” he said.

The Tail End of a Cold Front causing light to moderate rains blurring view of runways have caused intermittent cancellation of flights from Manila to Naga and Manila to Legazpi routes and vice versa.

Meanwhile, Rep. Fernando Gonzales of the 3rd District of Albay said in a text message that there was no foreign delegation who made it to the formal opening of the jamboree on Monday.

“But we have more than 6,000 national delegates as of 8 p.m. Sunday,” Gonzales said.

A slew of events added color to the jamboree such as cultural shows and the grand opening ceremony Monday morning.

Gonzales said that his office has provided P500,000 for the boy scouts. (PNA)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Geothermal plant suffers P30M loss due to landslides
By Rey M. Nasol

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 17 (PNA) -– Power generation is feared to suffer setbacks in one of Albay’s geothermal fields after heavy and prolonged rains triggered landslides and flashfloods across the province.

Albay gov. Joey Salceda said that the Energy Development Corporation (EDC)-Bacon Manito Geothermal Plant has reported to the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) that its facilities sustained damages over P30 million from landslides and flashflood runoffs.

Salceda said the PDRRMC is still awaiting further investigation reports from the EDC-Bacman wheather such damage will severely affect power production of its production wells.

On the other hand, Albay is contemplating on sending thousands of families back to their designated evacuation camps depending on the recommendation of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Pagasa said Sunday that the tailend of a cold front overhead Bicol region hoists thick cloudsover the eastern parts of the region especially Legazpi, Sorsogon and Virac Catanduanes.

“Expect continuous lite to moderate rains and cloudy skies till Monday with high probability of rains,” Pagasa said.

PDRRMC ordered evacuation last December 24 and declared state of calamity on December 29.

Preemptive evacuation peaked at 12,752 families or 62,655 individuals; supported with daily relief and food packs including 17,000 media noche packs.

Expansion of assistance was also done (Food for Work Packages) to 41,121 economically displaced households especially fisherfolks and coastal families.

Establishment of clinic station per evacuation was also deemed necessary according to provincial health officer Dr.Luis Mendoza while Salceda ordered free hospitalization for affected families at the same time. (PNA)

Guv enforces preemptive suspension of fishing in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 17 (PNA) – The local government of Albay has reiterated that the existing preemptive suspension of fishing in the province’s seas is still being enforced to achieve zero casualty of fishermen due to bad weather conditions.

Similar to situations under storm signal number 1, it is a zero-casualty not to venture or take any risks of going ashore for fishermen, Albay Governor Joey Salceda said Monday.

“Based on Pagasa (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration) gale warning this morning, due to strong 'amihan', we advise fishermen and small seacraft transport not to sail out to sea especially in the eastern seaboard that includes the island of Rapu-Rapu, Batan, Cagraray and San Miguel," the governor.

Five fishermen from Pandan town in the island province of Catanduanes were reported missing early this month, one was rescued while two dead bodies were recovered after a week of search and rescue operations.

In Camarines Sur, eight fishermen were also rescued the same day after they gone missing on January 11.

Also in Catanduanes, at least five fishermen were also missing since Jan 16 and rescue efforts are being undertaken. (PNA)

Search, rescue on for missing fishermen; 13 others rescued in Catanduanes

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 17 (PNA) -- Five fishermen were reported missing in separate incidence at the off coastal waters of Pandan and Bato, Catanduanes on Sunday and are currently the subject of a search and rescue operation by local disaster authorities here, a Catanduanes Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) report said Monday.

The missing fishermen were identified as Ricardo Icamen and Narciso De Quiros Sr., both residents of barangay Balangonan, Pandan town; Severino Chavez Valenzuela, 36; Hazel Cabanez Teope, 29; and Bernie Bercedez Penancio, 28; all residents of barangay Bote, Bato town in Catanduanes.

Edna Bagadiong, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) provincial chief, said the missing fishermen were among the 13 in four motorized fishing boats that were rescued by local fisherfolks. Three of the four are from Pandan and one from Bato, all in Catanduanes, when their bancas capsized due to strong winds and waves, triggered by the tailend of the cold front (TEFC) prevailing during the day.

Bagadiong said the fishermen were on board at least two motorized bancas that went fishing early morning of Sunday off the waters of Pandan town, while a group of fishermen were on board another banca that went fishing off the waters of Bato town, all in Catanduanes.

Search and rescue team from the local government and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) are still looking for the missing five fishermen as of press time.

Fishermen that were rescued on Sunday were Ruben de la Rosa; Alan Eustaquio; Sandy Barra; Zaldy Sabeniano; Mario De Quiroz; Carlito De Quiroz; Narciso De Quiroz; Roberto Icamen; Josepio Celestino; Domingo Celestino; Armando Icamen; Romulado Trinidad; and Jojo Caballero, all residents of sitio Boya, barangay Balangonan in Pandan town.

The PDRRMC reported these fishermen defied earlier advisory not to go fishing because of the bad weather brought by the northeast monsoon.

As this developed, three fishermen were also missing in the coastal waters of Vinson town in Camarines Norte, local authorities launched search and rescue operation to locate the missing fisherman. (PNA)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CSC awards Camarines Sur Gov. Villafuerte Seal of Excellence

PILI, Camarines Sur, Jan. 13 (PNA) – The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has conferred the province through Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte with a Citizen’s Satisfaction Center Seal of Excellence for his zealous adherence to the mandate of the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA).

In a simple awarding ceremony held at the Provincial Convention Center here over the week, CSC Senior Commissioner Cesar Buenaflor cited Villafuerte’s efforts in creating a competent provincial government workforce responsible for an efficient delivery of services to its constituents, a report of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) on Thursday said.

“Governor Villafuerte has contributed a lot in the positive transformation of Camarines Sur. It was reflected in the result of the Report Card Survey (RCS) that the commission has conducted in the province of Camarines Sur. These efforts consequently resulted in the reduction of the bureaucratic red tape and prevented graft and corruption,” Buenaflor stressed.

Republic Act 9485, otherwise known as the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 specifically instructs the state to promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property.

It also mandates the establishment of “effective practices aimed at the prevention of graft and corruption in government”.

The governor personally received the Glass of the Seal of Excellence from Buenaflor before an overjoyed audience composed of Capitol employees, CSC regional officials, and people from all walks of life that trooped to the venue of the affair on hearing of the awarding rites.

An amount of P50,000 check issued by the CSC was also given by Buenaflor to Villafuerte as part of the award. The governor promptly turned over the check to the provincial treasurer’s as he said it will be part of the provincial government’s general fund.

Camarines Sur was the only recipient of the prestigious award in the Bicol Region and the entire Luzon and one of the six awardees chosen from key cities and local government units in the Philippines.

The other recipients were Compostela Valley Province which was rated as "excellent" in the ARTA implementation with a 95.5 percent rating; Mati, Davao Oriental with 87 percent “very good” descriptive rating; City Government of Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, 85.10 percent “very good” rating;

City Government of Borongan, Eastern Samar, 83.86 percent “very good rating and; the Municipal Government of Burauen, Leyte, 81.88 percent “very good” rating.

The Provincial Government of Camarines Sur got 81.14 percent “very good” rating, according to the CSC.

Daisy P. Bragais, CSC Regional Office V Acting Assistant Regional Director said that the Seal of Excellence Awards validated the kind of quality service that Camarines Sur has given its constituents thru the effective delivery of its frontline services.

Villafuerte in his acceptance speech also lauded his fellow public servants, specifically the provincial capitol personnel and employees, for their cooperation in realizing his vision.

The Seal of Excellence, after the simple awarding rites was mounted on a conspicuous place at the Provincial Capitol.

It was not long ago when personnel of CSC conducted a surprise survey at the Capitol here which yielded a very impressive showing of the Camarines Sur’s implementation of RA 9485 worthy of emulation by other LGUs, Bragais said.

The survey noted among others the presence of adequate personnel to man the public assistance desk, absence of loitering employees during office hours and the orderly, fast and efficient conduct of business as well as the dedicated performance of tasks by the employees in the office visited by personnel of CSC, she said.

In the awarding rites, it was recalled that through the initiative of Gov. Villafuerte, the province became the foremost among provinces in the region to complete its Citizen’s Charter as well as the list of Frontline Services mandated by the ARTA.

“Soon, we will be conducting the Report Card Survey for year 2011 and it will involve at least 17 local government units in the region. As to exactly when that would be, we cannot tell. The element of surprise is exciting,” Bragais added. (PNA)

DA upgrades Bicol’s rice sufficiency plans sans importation
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Jan. 13 (PNA) – Without talking about importation, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has started formulating this year’s rice sufficiency plans for Bicol and the rest of the Southern Luzon areas.

The plans, apart from strengthening existing mechanisms, would explore innovative approaches on research, development and extension (RD&E) in the face of devastating effects of climate change.

“We are now in the second phase of re-planning for provincial rice-sufficiency where the Provincial Rice Action Plan (PRAP) for Bicol and regions IV-A and IV-B covering 16 provinces is being updated as part of the Collaborative Research Development and Extension Services for Food Security Project,” DA Regional Executive Director Jose Dayao said on Thursday.

The project under the component on Capacity Building: Partnership with Local Government Units is being initiated in cooperation with the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, College of Public Affairs and the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) that provides the funding, Dayao said.

The planning activity involved provincial agriculturists, planning officials and rice program coordinators; National Irrigation Administration officials and partner state universities and colleges (SUCs) such as the Catanduanes State College, Camarines Norte State Colleges, Sorsogon State Colleges, Bicol University - College of Agriculture & Fishery, and Central Bicol State University of Agriculture.

The plans highlight rice production support systems interventions and strategies covering soil fertility and crop management, seeds system, irrigation and infrastructure development, dryers and postharvest facilities, credit, pricing and marketing and RD&E services, he said.

In the planning process, Dayao said just achieving rice self-sufficiency is not enough as “we should also pay attention to climate change, the growing population and increase in demand factors affecting food flow."

A National Food Authority (NFA) report said the yearly rice consumption in Bicol is around 784,385 metric tons (mt) while the regional paddy rice production could only achieve 1.02 million mt based on the 2009 figures which was only about 500,000 million mt when computed as milled rice.

The deficit is subsidized by supply from other rice producing regions and NFA allocations of imported grains placed at 2.6 million bags or 130 million mt last year. The NFA regional office based in Legazpi City said its daily average rice sale is 16,000 bags.

That regional production volume, according to Dayao declined significantly in 2010 due to severe weather condition brought about by the El Niño phenomenon and decline in fertilizer usage by farmers owing to a spike in the price of this production input.

The decrease in average yield last year was placed at 3.33 metric tons per hectare of the total of some 313,800 hectares of land planted to rice across the region, he said.

For this year, Dayao said the DA is working hard to increase production not only to sustain food security but also to help farmers increase their income and encourage them to attend to their farms. “We also encourage them to urge their children to pursue college courses in agriculture,” he added.

Apart from the results of production support systems interventions and strategies he said, it is projected that palay production in Bicol and the rest of Southern Luzon would bounce back this year due partly to the increase in the number of rainfed areas.

The prevailing La Niña episode particularly in the Bicol region is good for rain-fed areas and now encouraging farmers to plant palay,” he said.

Another, Dayao said is the increase in the number of irrigated fields planted as a result of the restoration, rehabilitation and opening of new irrigation areas and surveillance and fertility mapping. (PNA)