Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DPWH implements P192M road projects in Camarines Norte

LEGAZPI CITY, May 30 (PNA) – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional office for Bicol announced on Monday it is nearing the completion of the P192.4-million road projects in Camarines Norte.

Among these projects, according to DPWH regional director Danilo Dequito, are the asphalt overlay works worth P116.9 million and covering eight sections of the Maharlika Highway between Sta. Elena and Labo towns that was 95 percent complete as of last week.

Completion of this project, which is expected by the first half of June, will save commuters and motorists from the inconveniences of bumpy travel on these sections of the highway, Dequito said.

Another project is the P4.8-million concreting of the three-kilometer section of the Bagong Silang-Capalonga Road between the municipalities of Labo and Capalonga which was 25 percent complete as of last week. Works toward its completion before the end of June are ongoing, the DPWH regional chief said.

Two more similar projects with a total funding of P8 million have been undergoing construction from Barangay Talobatib of Jose Panganiban town down to the municipal port at the poblacion. Completion of these projects is set also before the end of June, according to Dequito.

He said four more asphalt overlay projects are up for implementation soon. These are the 10-kilometer section of the Maharlika Highway within Basud town that is worth P10.79 million and the P22.66-million asphalt overlay covering three sections of the Bagong Silang-Capalonga Road with a distance of about 20 kilometers.

Public biddings of these projects were already completed last March and Dequito said his office is just waiting for the release of the fund by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Three more projects along the Maharlika Highway sections in Labo and Sta. Elena towns of similar work descriptions and amounting P29.1 million are also up for implementation, he said.

All funds for these projects were provided under the DPWH’s regular infrastructure projects and maintenance for Bicol by the 2011 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to provide farmers and traders with easy and convenient transportation facilities in bringing their produce to the market, Dequito said.

Apart from the benefits offered to the public by those projects, the DPWH also provided jobs to a total of 468 workers hired from Camarines Norte to do regular road maintenance and roadside clearing works between the months of January and April, he added. (PNA)

Albay province earmarks P236-M for 34,000 college scholars

LEGAZPI CITY, May 30 (PNA) -- Albay has earmarked some P236 million funds to finance the college studies of 34,000 scholars across the province despite budgetary constraints, a ranking official of the province said today.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the Albay Higher Education Scheme (AHECS) this school year would have to spend some P116 million to finance the initial 11,160 AGHECS scholars that will enter their second year in their chosen courses.

However, the AHECS Finance Committee announced that, due to budgetary constraints, they were compelled to limit their scholarship slots to only 5,000 scholars this year, which would be equivalent to another P50 million in funding requirement.

This is on top of the P50 million for 13,000 students enrolled in community colleges under Education Quality for Albayanos (EQUAL), Salceda said.

He said that with 27,000 high school graduates annually, the Provincial Education Department (PED) has decided to provide a lifeline to 5,000 new college enrolees who can not be accommodated by the AHECS.

Total assistance to college students would reach P236 million in 2011 and total assisted post-secondary/tertiary students would reach 34,000 in various degrees and year-levels.

Aside from being the only province and the only LGU that has a Provincial Education Department, Albay now has the single-largest college scholarship program in the history of the Philippines, even exceeding Cocofed, GSIS or CHED at any point in their student assistance programs, he pointed out.

Salceda said to cushion the effect of funds limitation for education, he initiated an Emergency Financial Assistance for Students in Tertiary Education of the EFAST, a new educational program with P10 million funding to give limited assistance of P2,000 for those students not included in the AHECS or EQUAL programs.

“Like AHECS, the EFAST slots are being distributed through the provincial Board Members to ensure geographical balance,” Salceda said.

EFAST vouchers can only be assigned to a tertiary institution accredited by the Provincial Education Department and is good only for the 1st semester of SY 2011-2012.

He, however, said that the provincial government will exercise best-efforts to secure funding for future assistance. The new program has essentially compelled further cutbacks in other programs.

He said during his term as Congressman of the 3rd district of Albay, his congressional scholarships beginning in 1999, have benefitted some 87,000 college or post-secondary students. (PNA)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Salceda, DepEd ensure school kids are familiar with climate change

LEGAZPI CITY, May 29 (PNA) — The provincial government of Albay, through the Center for Initiatives and Research on Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) and the Department of Education (DepEd), is conducting thorough monitoring sorties starting Monday until Wednesday to ensure students’ full access to climate change issues that are now part of their studies.

“We have finally added climate change into major subjects areas through the partnership of Albay and DepEd from grade four in the elementary to the high school levels, and we want to make sure that school children derive their Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation strategies out of their lessons from English, Science, Social Studies, Arts and even Mathematics so that they become fully aware of our zero casualty goals every time there is a disaster,” Albay Governor Joey Salceda said.

Manuel Rangasa, Albay-CIRCA executive director, said the joint project provides seminars for school mentors in laying out the preparations and foundation of CCA concepts, which will be used for this school year and onwards.

“We are now in full swing and the lessons will be given to all schools across Albay through CIRCA's supervision in partnership with the DepEd,” Rangasa said.

He said that the integration of the program will be beneficial for the country in fulfilling the requirements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) pursued by the United Nations, UN Development Program, Spanish Embassy and the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID).

Governor Salceda said the inclusion of the disaster risk reduction in the curricula is important as the province is under constant threat from Mount Mayon, categorized as an active volcano, lahar flash floods and inundations brought about by torrential rains, aside from tropical cyclones.

DepEd-Albay Division Superintendent Alice I. Terrell explained that 15 selected school teachers were trained per school district across the province. “These trained teachers will then train their fellow teachers at their respective campuses.”

A series of monitoring activity is being conducted and “we will gather the initial impacts to students by the end of the first semester and conduct an evaluation at the end of the school year so that we will be able to determine the level of awareness at various communities where the students belong,” Terrell said.

She added that there is a need to ensure a 100 percent saturated implementation of lesson exemplars and a sustained impact even outside the classrooms so that students would also be able to share what they have learned with their parents and the rest of their community, in a dynamic mood.

Rangasa, on the other hand, said that Albay-CIRCA is looking at the possibility of a partnership with private schools as a follow-up integration of the one that is now at work in the public elementary and high school curricula. (PNA)

Friday, May 27, 2011

News and Information Bureau (NIB) Director Brando F. Merrera (extreme left) administers the oath of office to the newly-elected officers of the NIB Employees Association (NIBEA) in simple ceremonies Friday (May 20, 2011) at the NIB building lobby, Malacanang Complex, City of Manila. The new set of NIBEA officers are (from right): Efren B. Santelices, president; Rose G. Coni, vice-president; Loida D. Javonillo, secretary; Malou C. Datiles, treasurer; Ines C. Delfin, auditor; and board directors Danilo C. Taguibao, Luisito Iglesias, Virgie Santos, Nelia Montecillo, Janet V. Mariano, Joselito dela Cruz and Jose Cielito M. Reganit. Also present is NIB Assistant Director Danilo S. Jamora (2nd from left). (PNA photo by Jess Escaros Jr.)
Hon. Hossein Divsalar (extreme right), Cultural Counselor of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, shakes hand with Mr. Virgilio DC Galvez, Supervising Officer of the Philippines News Agency (PNA) and concurrent Deputy Director General of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) following the signing of a memorandum of agreement between Mehr News Agency (MNA) of Iran and the state-run PNA on the exchange of news and information between the two news agencies. The signing, held Tuesday, May 17, at the PIA building in Quezon City, was witnessed by (from left) Director Danilo S. Jamora of the News and Information Bureau (NIB) and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary and PIA Director General Jose A. Fabia. (PNA photo by Jess Escaros Jr.)
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma (right) shares a light moment with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director-General Joel J. Villanueva after the Communication and News Exchange (CNEX) Forum and Talking Points Program at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Bldg., Visayas Ave., Quezon City on Thursday (May 26, 2011). At left is PIA Director-General Atty. Jose A. Fabia. (PNA photo by Gil S. Calinga)

Over 5,000 passengers stranded in Bicol ports

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Some 5,719 passengers are still stranded for the past two days in various parts in Bicol, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Thursday.

Nelson Torre of the Coast Guard said most of the passengers numbering 4,567 are bound for the Visayas and marooned at the Matnog Port since Wednesday .

Torre said the Coast Guard immediately suspended nautical operation as Signal 1 was hoisted in Bicol grounding 113 passenger buses, 124 trucks, 26 small cars, nine sea vessels, and 28 motor bancas in the ports of Tabaco, Pioduran, Pilar, Bulan, Matnog, Bapor and Milagros in Masbate, Catanduanes and Pasacao, Guiyan, Gihalo, Tinanbac, Camaligan in Camarines Sur.

Typhoon Chedeng hovered Bicol on Wednesday with pack winds of 170 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 205 kph, moving northwest with a speed of 19 kph.

Public Storm Signal 2 is still hoisted in the provinces of Catandaunes and Camarines Sur, while Signal number 0ne is in effect in Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Masbate. (PNA)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA)- Albay Governor and PDRRMC chairman Joey Salceda lifted the evacuation except in the 3rd district of the province. He also lifted the suspension of work in private and public offices effective Thursday noon.The PDRRMC chief reiterated that no sailing policy is still maintained since typhoon Chedeng is still located in the Pacific Ocean close to the vicinity of the Bicol region.(Photo courtesy of Roderick Mendoza)

Foresters nab 5 for cutting trees within Mt. Mayon forest park

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -– Anti-illegal logging operatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have apprehended over the weekend five persons while in the act of cutting trees for charcoal and firewood inside the government-protected Mayon Volcano Natural Park in Sto. Domingo, Albay.

Covered by a lush natural and residual vegetation, the park which is a vast expanse situated at the foot and lower slopes of Mt. Mayon is among the priority areas of concern for protection of the DENR as it serves as a buffer zone against landslides, lahar flows and flashfloods threatening farms and residential sites here and in Sto. Domingo town.

Considered as a mini-rain forest that offers a biologically diverse ecosystem, the Mayon Volcano Natural Park plays a critical role not only as a climate regulator for absorbing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide but also as a habitat for exciting variety of flora and fauna including rare and vanishing species of birds like homegrown falcons, hawks and several kinds of bats.

Given such importance of the Park, the area has been placed under the coverage of the National Integrated Areas Systems (NIPAS) Law that prohibits cutting of trees among protected areas and Executive Order No. 23 issued by Pres. Benigno Aquino III early this year declaring a moratorium on logging, timber poaching and other activities destructive to the remaining natural and residual forest across the country.

Rodolfo Matusalem, the DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office chief for Albay based here identified the arrested suspects as Darryl Ayado, Aldin Bitara, Ritchie Balanta, Liluiza Balanta and Rodel Valenzuela, all residents of Baragay Fidel Surtida of the same municipality. They are the first batch of offenders caught in Albay under EO 23.

Charges for violations of Presidential Decree No. 705 and other related laws against forest destructions were promptly filed against the suspects.

Matusalem said the arrest and charges against them would deliver a stern warning to other violators that “we really mean business in implementing EO 23 and enforcing all the laws for forest protection” in Albay.

And considering that the Mayon Volcano Natural Park is covered by the Republic Act 7586 or the NIPAS law, further penalties such as fines amounting not less than P5,000 and imprisonment from one to six years await the suspects when proven guilty by the court, according to Matusalem.

Earlier, DENR regional executive director and Regional Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (RAILTF) chair for Bicol Joselin Marcus Fragada said the implementation of EO 23 would spare no one including big time illegal loggers or small time poachers who would be caught cutting trees either for lumber, charcoal or firewood in areas covered by the moratorium across the region.

Bicol had over 500,000 hectares of forestland but about 80 percent of it has already been denuded of vegetation by massive illegal logging and cutting of trees for timber, firewood, charcoal and slash and burn farming (kaingin), Fragada said.

The remaining 20 percent or about 100,000 hectares of these forestlands is now the subject of the preservation efforts of EO 23 and the denuded areas made part of the 1.5 million-hectare across the country targeted for reforestation with around 1.5 billion trees to be planted in six years under the National Greening Program (NGP) being pursued by the Aquino administration, he added. (PNA)

21,000 families remain in evacuation centers of Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -– The Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) has ordered the decampment of more than 20,000 evacuated families in the 1st and 2nd district of the province while the remaining 21,000 families in the 3rd district will remain in their evacuation camps due to the effects of the southwest monsoon.

On Wednesday, the provincial government ordered the preemptive evacuation of 250,425 individuals or 49,893 families from landslide, flood, lahar prone areas and those living in the coastal barangays because of the possible impact of typhoon Chedeng.

As of 12:00 noon Thursday, Albay Governor and PDRRMC chairman Joey Salceda lifted the evacuation except in the 3rd district of the province.

He also lifted the suspension of work in private and public offices effective Thursday noon.

The PDRRMC chief reiterated that no sailing policy is still maintained since typhoon Chedeng is still located in the Pacific Ocean close to the vicinity of the Bicol region.

“No crossing of all river channels, spill ways and other water ways is still in effect,” Salceda added.

On the other hand Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional Director Bernardo Alejandro Jr., IV that relatively no untoward incidents reported to the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC). “So far, we achieve the zero casualty throughout the Bicol region and no other untoward incidents related to Chedeng.”

“We still advised all PDRRMC in six provinces of Bicol region to closely monitor their localities for possible effect of south west monsoon which is expected to bring heavy rains,” Alejandro said. (PNA)

PIA assistance tapped in school, hospital protection project in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -– The German permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) has tapped the assistance of the regional office of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) here in the implementation of the initial phase of a project in Bicol aimed at protecting educational and health facilities from violence especially during armed conflicts.

In the initial phase of its implementation, the PIA has been tapped in the collection or receiving of photographs, drawings and audio files that would identify schools, hospitals and other educational and health facilities in the region that need attention from the project and explaining why it deserve protection, PIA regional director Eduardo de Leon on Thursday said.

De Leon said his office is calling for participation from concerned citizens and organizations including local governments by way of submitting to the PIA regional office here or in its provincial offices in Bicol the same materials that will become part of the resolution to be submitted by the German government to the UN during its Security Council meeting in July.

The resolution, he said would be used by the UN to “establish some mechanisms in identifying and creating embarrassment to those who disregard the human rights of children in school or workers and patients in hospitals and similar facilities during armed conflicts situations”.

The UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) earlier noted that attacks on educational institutions have been devastating, depriving 40 percent of the 77 million children in conflict-laden countries in the world of their rights to education offered by affected schools, the PIA regional head said.

Meanwhile, the provincial government of Camarines Sur has agreed to put up an amount of P138 million as a counterpart fund to the allocation of the same amount provided by the Department of Education (DepEd) for the construction, repair and rehabilitation of 350 classrooms in the province.

This “counterparting” scheme in project implementation of the education department and the Camarines Sur provincial government, according to Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte “is the realization of his suggestion to Pres. Benigno Aquino III during the President’s first State-of-the-Nation Address (Sona) last year.

He had also inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the DepEd for the provision by the provincial government of an amount of P30 million that will be used as fund to assist all public elementary pupils and high school students in the province in settling school fees in the coming opening of classes in June.

The MOA signed by Sec. Armin Luistro for the DepEd stipulates that the local government of Camarines Sur will assume the payment of the school children for school publication at P50.00; contribution for participation of Grades V and VI pupils and all high school students to Student Technologists and Entrepreneurs of the Philippines (STEP) at P25.00; membership in student’s organizations at P5.00 per student and retention payable to the office of the school heads to finance school activities.

Under the agreement, the province will also assume the voluntary contributions to the Boys Scout of the Philippines (BSP), Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) and Philippine Tuberculosis Society, Inc. These organizations were also signatories of the MOA.

Luistro, who personally came to the province for the signing of the MOA over the week, lauded the administration of Villafuerte for taking the initiative in helping the less privileged children, particularly focusing on their educational and health needs. (PNA)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Text2Teach program launch in Polangui, Albay

POLANGUI, Albay, May 25 (PNA) -- Wanting to improve the standard of education in the field of science, English and mathematics, some 24 public elementary schools in this town were recipients of text2teach (T2T) launched here on Tuesday.

Text2Teach is a program that brings educational content through video downloaded via Short Messaging System (SMS) to public elementary schools.

T2T offers some 400 educational audio and video materials in Science, Math and English and Values Education that would reinforce the learning’s of Grade 5 and 6 elementary pupils in public schools.

The town of Polangui is the first in the division of Albay to receive the T2T program where 24 public elementary schools in this town will now be able to use the power of mobile technology in classrooms.

At the community launch held on Tuesday, T2T provided each of the schools with Nokia N86 8MP mobile phone pre-loaded with 400 educational audio and video materials on Math, Science and English; a Globe pre-paid SIM card, and 29-inch colored television sets.

Mayor Cherille Sampal at the launching rites also turned over to the Text2Teach alliance P951,000 check representing the local government’s counterpart funds to implement T2T in this city.

The Text2Teach alliance is a collaborative effort of Ayala Foundation, Nokia, SEAMEO Innotech, Globe, Department of Education (DepEd) and Polangui LGU.

Under the program, the SEAMEO will train some 120 school heads and teachers on the use of the T2T technology and educational materials to ensure the quality and standard of teaching in using the program.

The 24 public elementary schools that received the T2T packages were from the barangays of Agos, Apad, Balangibang, Balinad, Danao, Itaran, Kinale, La Medalla, Lanigay, Lidong, Magpanambo, Magurang, Matacon, Maynaga, Maysua, Napo, Polangui North Central School, Polangui South Central School, Ponso North, Ponso Sout, Salvacion, Santicon and Sugcad.

Marisse Catangay of the Ayala foundation said the T2T program was conceptualized in the US in 2003 and was pilot tested in the country with a very satisfactory mark.

He said that, to date, more than a million elementary pupils from 358 public elementary schools and 1,700 teachers nationwide are using the T2T. She added the program has won several awards and garnered accolades from various institutions worldwide.

Catangay said the country was chosen as one of the pilot areas because the Philippines was tagged as the texting capital of the world.

She said “the program has proven to be effective as students learning was made easy, informative and entertaining while there was a noted decrease in the rate of absenteeism and dropouts among pupils.”

The T2T program also gives a wide range of interaction and exchange of views between the pupils and teachers, he said.

Nikka Abes, Nokia Corporate Communication Manager, at the project presentation said the Text2Teach evolved from the original satellite-based delivery to a full cellular platform using 3G-enabled device such as the Nokia N95 8GB 8MP equipped with an application called Nokia Education Delivery (NED).

NED allows teachers to download and choose the educational audio and videos on Math, Science and English specifically created for the project, Abes explained.

At the launch, public school officials, local government officials and students were amazed following a demonstration of the actual downloading of the T2T video to the mobile phone using NED and Globe’s 3G network. (PNA)

Albay starts evacuations of population at risk from impact of Chedeng
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, May 25 (PNA) -– The Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) ordered the simultaneous evacuation starting 2 p.m. Wednesday of the population at risks from flood, storm, mudflows, wind and storm surge.

PDRRMC Chairman and Albay Governor Joey Salceda said 84,777 families or 421,398 persons will be evacuated from different towns and municipalities of the province.

Evacuees are expected to stay in the evacuation centers for two days upon the instruction from PDRRMC.

Salceda said that both food and non-food relief supplies have been prepositioned in all areas.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather specialist Landrico Dalida Jr., said that Chedeng has been elevated into typhoon category with 600 kilometer diameter and expected to bring heavy rains that will hit the entire Bicol region and parts of Luzon.

Dalida said that Chedeng is still moving westward and the 3rd district of Albay is expected to experience more heavy rains. (PNA)

Camarines Sur envisions AIDS, STD-free province

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 25 (PNA) -– The provincial government of Camarines Sur wanted the threats of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and any kind of sexually-transmitted disease (STD) eliminated from the province as it created on Tuesday a council composed of various government and non-government organizations (NGOs) to address the lingering social malady.

Created was the Provincial AIDS Awareness, Prevention and Control Council that, apart from concurring to the constitutional provision that mandates the protection and promotion of the right to health of the people, also aims to establish for the tourist–favorite province an AIDS and STD-free image and reputation, Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte on Wednesday said.

Supported by the provincial legislative board through a resolution adopting the creation of the council and instituting measures in pursuit of its goals, the move is also in compliance with Republic Act 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998 that mandates all local government units (LGUs) in the country to conduct an educational and information campaign on HIV/AIDS.

Under the same Act, LGUs are also pressed into coordinating and cooperating with concerned government agencies, non-government organizations, persons with HIV/AIDS and groups most at risk of HIV infections and providing community-based prevention and care services.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), meanwhile, have jointly issued a memorandum circular providing guidelines in the formation of Regional AIDS Assistance Teams (RAATs) and strengthening the interface and coordination among their offices in the complementation of their campaign against the killer disease.

Dr. Alan Lucañas, the regional STI/HIV AIDS coordinator of the DOH for Bicol said here during a recent conference with members of the provincial AIDS council that 48 cases of the disease were recorded in the region, 21 of them came from Camarines Sur.

Members of the council are representatives from various government agencies that include, among others, the DOH, DILG and Provincial Health Office (PHO).

The DOH is tasked to lead the health care and support service committee of the council while the PHO would take charge of the monitoring and surveillance committee. DILG would be responsible over the coordination and networking committee.

Citing latest reports from the National Epidemiology Center, Lucañas said that out of that 48 cases, seven were full blown AIDS and six of them have already died while the remaining one is still battling the disease.

The council intends to mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS and raise the awareness of the populace on how to prevent the occurrence of new cases of infections by ensuring access to HIV Treatment and accurate information, according to Villafuerte.

“Ours is a tourist-oriented province and building an image as an AIDS and STD-free territory will boost our bid to become the number tourist destination in the country in the very near future,” the governor said, adding that records available with the Department of Tourism have it that Camarines Sur placed second last year among the most tourist-visited destinations in the country next to Manila. (PNA)

(WEATHER UPDATE): "Chedeng" nears Samar provinces; Signal No. 2 raised

MANILA, May 25 (PNA) -- The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has raised public storm signal No. 2 over the Samar provinces and the whole Bicol region as Severe Tropical Storm "Chedeng" (International name: Songda) approaches.

PAGASA said as of 4:00 a.m. Wednesday STS "Chedeng" was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 365 kilometers east of Catarman, Northern Samar (Coordinates: 12.2°N, 128.3°E) as it maintained its maximum sustained winds of 115 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 145 kph.

As of PAGASA's forecast on Tuesday, the storm has slowed down from 17 kph to 13 kph as it moves west northwest at 13 kph.

The weather agency forecast "Chedeng" to be at 160 km. east of Virac, Catanduanes by Thursday morning; 120 km. southeast of Casiguran, Aurora by Friday morning and on Saturday morning at 40 km. northeast of Aparri, Cagayan.

This forecast differs from the earlier forecast that "Chedeng" would make its landfall by Friday over the Cagayan-Isabela area due to "Chedeng's" slowed down movement.

PAGASA raised Public Storm Warning Signal No. 2 (60-100 kph winds) over Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte, all in the Bicol region in Luzon and the Samar Provinces in the Visayas.

Signal No. 1 (45-60 kph winds) is hoisted over Marinduque, Masbate, Burias Island, Ticao Island, Southern Quezon, Polillo Island and Biliran Island.

Residents in low lying and mountainous areas under signals No. 2 and No. 1 are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this tropical cyclone.

TS "Chedeng" is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and will bring rains over Visayas and Mindanao.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions. (PNA)

P5-M await winners in tour of Camarines Sur

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 24 (PNA) -– Some P5 million in cash prizes are at stake in the nine-day Tour of Camarines Sur that fired its starting gun at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City last Friday, organizers of the event on Tuesday said.

The cycling tour being participated in by over a hundred professional local and international cyclists will cover a distance of 1,000 kilometers divided into nine laps passing through Lipa City in Batangas; Lucena City down to Calauag in Quezon Province; Daet, Camarines; Sipocot, Naga and Iriga Cities of Camarines Sur; and up to Tabaco City in Albay.

On reaching Tabaco City, the cyclists will pedal their way back to the finish line at the world-renowned Camarines Sur Watersports Complex at this capital town on May 29 in time for the culmination activities of the week-long celebration of the 432nd Foundation Day of the province dubbed Kaogma Festival which opened last May 20.

Kaogma means “very happy” and the festival is a fusion of local culture, various entertainments and sports events like skydiving, wakeboard and waterskiing competitions, 4x4 off-road challenge and the expanded Tour of Camarines Sur that now covers a longer distance and offers millions in cash prizes to the winners.

The tour would pass along the long stretch of scenic beaches, negotiate the high, winding road through the thickly forested Quezon National Park or the 3Ms Zigzag in Atimonan, Quezon, then "Bitukang-Manok" zigzag inside the forest reservation of the Bicol National Park before proceeding to Albay passing along the foot of Mt. Mayon in Tabaco City.

It is sponsored by the provincial government of Camarines Sur and its governor, Luis Raymund Villafuerte said the event is another boost to regional tourism and attract more tourists particularly those that are sports enthusiasts into Bicol.

Villafuerte said that Governors Vilma Santos-Recto of Batangas, Jay-Jay Suarez of Quezon and Edgardo Tallado of Camarines Norte, are in full support to the event by way of hosting to the cyclists and tour officials during their stop-over in their respective areas between laps.

The province has been a leading tourist destination in the country owing to Villafuerte’s aggressive programs in promoting the local tourism industry starting with the putting up here of the CWC some six years ago that since then had catered to various national and international water-based sports events.

Another attraction in the province apart from the yearly fiesta of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the patroness of Bicol, that draws thousands of tourists and devotees, is the Gota Village Resort, an eco-tourism destination nestled at a serene and exciting island property in Caramoan town developed by the provincial government three years ago.

Records of the Department of Tourism have it that Camarines Sur’s tourism industry grew tremendously over the past five years and last year, it posted over two million in tourist arrivals landing it into second place among the most visited places in the country next only to Manila. (PNA)
Banner stories of Manila's leading newspapers, Wednesday, May 25, 2011



BUSINESS MIRROR – Piatco to get only $ 175M

STANDARD TODAY – Court tells govt to pay $ 175m for Terminal 3

MANILA TIMES – Bungling in govt no big deal

TRIBUNE – Court orders State to pay Piatco

PHILIPPINE STAR – Gov't asks Sandigan to reject Garcia deal

MALAYA – Luzon braces for 'Chedeng'

INQUIRER - Coral reefs twice size of Manila destroyed (PNA)

RDRRMC deploys Task Force Sagip teams in flood and landslide prone areas in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- The Philippine Army (PA) in Bicol reactivated its “Task Force Sagip” a military disaster mitigating and response group that would assist various local disaster councils across the region in evacuation, rescue and relief operation, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said Tuesday.

Raffy Alejandro, OCD director and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) chairperson, said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Army, Navy and Airforce), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have joined forces to address a regional emergency at the onset of Tropical Storm Chedeng expected to hover the region on Wednesday and Thursday.

Landrico Dalida, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in a briefing today said TS Chedeng has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) today 540 kms East of Borongan, Eastern Samar with a maximum winds of 105 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 135 kph.

Chedeng has slowed down moving West Northwest with a speed of 13 kph with 480 kms in diameter at the center, it is expected to hover the Bicol region on Wednesday and Thursday bringing moderate to heavy rains in the entire Bicol region.

Dalida said the intensity of Chedeng is similar to that of Typhoon Bebeng that hit Bicol last May 7 with heavy rains that triggered floods and landslides in the provinces of Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

He said heavy rains spawned by Chedeng as it hovers Bicol on Wednesday would pelt the eastern and western seaboard of Albay affecting all the towns and cities of the province.

PAGASA hoisted storm signal number one in the provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon and Samar provinces.

Alejandro said as a pre-emptive disaster measure the RDRRMC would “muster” all possible assets (personnel and equipments) of the AFP, PNP, PCG and the BFP, the scenario calls for the deployment of personnel and assets to critical areas prone to flooding and landslides.

He said a team from the Navy would be prepositioned in the towns of Milaor, San Fernando in Camarines Sur, team from the PCG will be assigned to the town of Nabua, Camarines Sur; two teams from the PNP will handle Sorsogon; six teams from the Army with a rubber boat swill cover six towns in the 3rd district of Albay; a team from PAF will cover this city and two teams from BFP will be assigned at the PDRRMC.

Army BGen Marlou Salazar, deputy commanding officer of the 9th Infantry Division (ID) said the Army’s disaster response team is composed of 346 soldiers, 36 military trucks, two ambulances, a bulldozer, a back hoe, a grader and three rubber boats.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, PDRRMC chair said "Mustering of troops" is invariably a preparation to wage war and do battle versus disaster. While essentially it is like a "prepositioning of assets", "mustering" moves the assets much closer to the theatre of operations to give support more to the evacuation efforts by LGUs than rescue operations.

He said this avoids the possible problems that could arise and obstruct their movement due to heavy floods (army trucks can only safely navigate at most 5 feet of floods) or the more difficult landslides or road settlements that would require clearing, thus losing precious time that may save one more life and even require additional equipment (backhoe or bulldozer).

In Albay, 6 teams will be mustered, assigned and rapidly deployed tomorrow -- Polangui, Libon, Oas, Pioduran, Pantao and Albay West Coast, and Malinao, this are flood prone areas. (PNA)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

486 passengers stranded in Bicol ports as PAGASA hoists Signal No. 1 for Chedeng

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- At least 486 passengers on Tuesday were marooned in various major ports in Bicol as Public Storm Signal No. 1 was hoisted by the weather bureau as Tropical Storm "Chedeng" enters the country's area of responsibility (PAR).

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said they have suspended maritime operation after the weather bureau hoisted signal number one in Bicol on Tuesday.

PCG report said the suspension stranded some 486 passengers, 24 trucks, two cars, 11 buses, six sea vessels, and seven motor bancas at the ports of Tabaco, Albay; Bulan and Pilar in Sorsogon; and Catanduanes.

Affected by the suspensions were hundreds of passengers bound for Catanduanes. Sea vessels at the ports of Sorsogon bound for Masbate and the Visayas region were likewise not allowed to sail.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda today also issued a "No Sailing" directive to law enforcement agencies in view of PAGASA Severe Weather Bulletin Number 5 placing Albay under PSWS 1.

Salceda's said the directive was disaster countermeasures aimed to attain a "Zero Casualty" goal in times of disasters.

The directive strictly enforces the no sailing for small passenger sea crafts and fishing boats.

It also warned villagers living near rivers not to cross river channels, spillways and other waterways when rains start to pour that may raise water levels.

Tropical Storm "Chedeng" was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 540 km East of Borongan, Eastern Samar ( 11.9°N, 130.8°E) with maximum sustained winds of 105 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 135 kph. It is forecast to move West Northwest at 17 kph. (PNA)

DOH declares Bicol under Code White Alert as 'Chedeng' nears

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) – The Department of Health Center for Health and Development (DOH-CHD) has raised the entire Bicol region under Code White Alert effective Tuesday.

DOH Bicol regional director Nestor Santiago said that Code White Alert is meant to prepare all medical resources and facilities in connection with the possible threat of tropical storm "Chedeng."

“The Code White alert will remain until there is no longer a threat of 'Chedeng' to Bicol region,” Santiago said.

He said the declaration includes the provincial hospitals and all DOH-retained hospitals to minimize the impact of Chedeng.

Director Santiago has encouraged provincial health offices in six provinces of Bicol, district hospitals, city/rural health offices and Health Emergency Management Service (HEMS) to observe 24/7 operation.

In another development, the Regional Disaster Risk Management Council (DRRMC) will muster all possible assets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) at camp Simeon Ola in Albay for a more rational assignment and rapid deployment to well-targeted vulnerable areas before "Chedeng" could hit Bicol region at around 11 a.m., Wednesday.

Albay Governor and PDRRMC chairman Joey Salceda said today that "mustering of troops" is invariably a preparation to wage war and do battle. “While essentially it is like a "prepositioning of assets", "mustering" moves the assets much closer to the theater of operations to give support more to the evacuation efforts by local government units than rescue operations.”

“This avoids the possible problems that could arise and obstruct their movement due to heavy floods (Army trucks can only safely navigate at most five feet of floods) or the more difficult landslides or road settlements that would require clearing, thus losing precious time that may save one more life and even require additional equipment (backhoe or bulldozer),” he said.

He added that it will begin with a short program that would explain the mission as well provide motivation to the disaster warriors. “Then, assignments will be programmed and by 1pm they should be on their way to their assigned areas.”

In Albay, six units will be mustered, assigned and rapidly deployed on Wednesday in the municipalities of Polangui, Libon, Oas, Pioduran, Pantao and Albay West Coast. (PNA)

Albay wants to make sure villages truly prepared for 'Chedeng'

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) – The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Albay is tying knots between the province and the identified hazard zones along coastal areas, as its chairman, Governor Joey Salceda seeks reports on actions taken as early as Tuesday morning even as the Tropical Storm "Chedeng" has yet to affect the province and the rest of Bicol Region.

According to Jun Dalida, regional meteorologist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) “we still have enough time to prepare as the sun still shines this morning (Tuesday) but this ideal lead time to prepare is so precious that we cannot afford to let go.”

Dalida confirmed that "Chedeng" has intensified further and is moving westward towards Samar and the Bicol region.

Both the eastern and the western seaboards of Albay are ordered to prepare and submit reports to determine their preparedness and for assessing anymore problems that need the support of the PDRRMC while there is still time.

In the eastern seaboard, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) head Cedric Daep identified the towns of Tiwi, Malinao, Tabaco specially San Miguel Island, Malilipot, Bacacay specially Cagraray Island, Sto. Domingo, Legazpi, Daraga, Manito and Rapu-Rapu, as under preparedness status.

In the western part of Albay the towns of Libon, Polangui, Oas, Ligao, Pioduran, Guinobatan, Jovellar, Camalig are under "Alert Status."

Daep explained that under alert status, local government units (LGUs) must have advised all its village residents of no more travel, standby for further advisories, monitoring the situation and monitoring to radio broadcasts for blow by blow updates.

He also said that under preparedness status, actions include planning, preparations for actions, review of populations to be evacuated, identify schools and edifices as evacuation centers, check vehicles for their serviceability, manpower preparation for both skills and functions, conduct meetings and define and ready for activation.

He further pointed out that meeting all these prerequisites, the mobilization and activation of all preparedness plans are on call under ‘response’ status.

Salceda expects a zero casualty on this upcoming weather disturbance despite absence of some barangay officials who proceeded to Baguio City for a study tour. (PNA)

DENR nabs illegal tree cutters at the Mayon Volcano Natural Park

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- Forest guards collared five villagers while in the act of cutting “agoho” trees the other day at the Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP) in barangay Lidong in Sto. Domingo town in Albay, an official of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) said Tuesday.

Nabbed were Liluiza Balanta, Ritchie Balanta, Rodel Valenzuela, Aldin Bitara and Darryl Ayado, residents of Brgy. Fidel Sortida, Sto. Domingo.

PENRO personnel confiscated cutting equipment from the suspects which include two axes, two hand saws and a bolo.

Edilberto Matusalem, MVNP Protected Area Superintendent, said the arrest came in the wake of an intensified campaign on anti-illegal logging in Albay.

He said the suspects were turned over to police authorities in Sto. Domingo.

“This will only prove that we are doing our job and would strive harder to catch big time illegal tree cutters and gatherers that proliferate in Mayon Volcano Natural Park,” Matusalem said.

He added illegal tree cutting and gathering is rampant in the Mayon Volcano Natural Park with suspects ranging from minors, young adults to senior citizens.

Matusalem assured that his office will continue to monitor illegal tree cutting activities in MVNP with the composite team deputized composed of local government unit (LGU) and local PNP as members.

He said they will also intensify the information dissemination campaign around the communities adjacent to the natural park to promote the importance and the need to conserve the Park.

The natural park has total area of 5,000 hectares.

Despite the large area covered by the Park, Matusalem expressed resolve to pursue the mandate to implement the National Integrated Protected Areas Systems (NIPAS) law as well as the Executive Order (EO) 23 issued by President Benigno S. Aquino that puts moratorium on tree cutting in natural and residual forest. (PNA)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Albay readies preparation plans for approaching tropical storm 'Chedeng'

LEGAZPI CITY, May 23 (PNA) – Albay Governor Joey Salceda has reviewed all contingency plans of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) in preparation for approaching tropical storm "Chedeng" (international name: Songda) which is expected to lash Bicol region with heavy rains this week.

Ahead of Chedeng, PDRRMC and the Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) are pre-positioning military trucks to help evacuate residents once there is an advice.

A regional meeting of DRRMCs was conducted at the Office of Civil Defense at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola Monday morning to facilitate evaluation and sharing of resources as well as planning coordination among the local disaster councils from the village to the regional levels.

“There is too much public fixation on both landfall and wind strength but from our countless experiences with even low pressure areas (LPAs), tropical depressions (TDs), and tail end of a cold front (TECF), they are killing more people than typhoons because of floods,” Salceda said during the meeting.

Tropical storm "Bebeng," for example, devastated Bicol by P1.2 billion in agriculture and infrastructure facilities, aside from loss of lives, the governor said.

"This time, we are considering the following as basis for our disaster avoidance for Chedeng to achieve zero casualty goal. Chedeng will be much stronger than Bebeng which entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) only as an LPA before it battered Bicol as tropical storm while Chedeng is coming in as tropical storm possibly pointing to Catanduanes,” according to Salceda.

“Since we are already very wet due to Bebeng et al (cumulative rainfall at 301 mm as of May 16 vs. normal of 130 mm), probability of floods and flashfloods are higher especially since hindi pa ganap na humupa ang mga tatlong lakes ng Camarines Sur (Bato, Baao and now Milaor) - so instead of serving as drainage, it could cause a back flow,” Salceda warned.

Like Bebeng, the governor said Chedeng will induce the onset of southwest monsoon ("habagat"), thus further enhancing rains and winds. "And this was what happened during Bebeng and caused the massive floods in Polangui, Libon and Oas towns at the western part of Albay."

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Chedeng has a much wider rainband or circular flow than Bebeng. (PNA)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Police officer gunned down in Barcelona, Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, May 18 (PNA) -- A police officer was gunned down at dawn Wednesday by suspected communist hitmen in Barangay (village) Poblacion Barcelona town in Sorsogon, a Philippine National Police (PNP) officer said.

Killed was Senior Police Officer 1 Antonio Furio, 51, married, and a native of Barcelana town.

Police Senior Inspector Ayn Natuel, PNP Bicol spokesperson, said the victim was attacked at about 12:08 AM Wednesday by three suspected members of the Sparrow Unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels while the victim was attending an Alumni Homecoming at the Barcelona Comprehensive National High School (BCNHS).

The attackers armed with a 9mm and .45 caliber handguns approached the victim and fired at him at close range.

The victim was rushed to the Gubat District Hospital, but was declared dead on arrival (DOA) by attending physicians, who said the victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds.

The attackers immediately fled the scene while taking advantage of the crowd that panic at the crime scene.

Crime investigators recovered from the scene three empty shells of a 9mm hand gun and two empty shells of a .45 cal. pistol.

Responding policemen conducted hot pursuit operation and scoured barangay San Isidro, a neighboring village where the NPA rebels flee. (PNA)

Non-Combatant Army unit deployed in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, May 18 (PNA) -- The Philippine Army (PA) 9th Infantry Division in Bicol recently deployed the newly- formed 9th Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion in three Bicol provinces to give support to the three infantry brigades already performing peace and development efforts in the region, an Army officer said on Wednesday.

The 9th CMO Battalion, composed of four companies with 300 men, is under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Neneveigh L Alcovindas, PA CMO commanding officer in Bicol.

Alcovindas said the members of the Battalion were carefully selected from the different units of the 9th Infantry Division. Discipline and individual training were the primary considerations in the selection process.

He said the battalion was organized into four “non combat” CMO Companies, and had undergone a two-month organizational and pre-deployment training on public affairs, effective communication, identifying needs and issues, and community organizing.

Two CMO companies were deployed in the Camarines provinces, the Command’s priority area, and are operationally controlled by the 902nd Infantry Brigade.

Another CMO Company was deployed in Albay and Catanduanes provinces under the operational control of the 901st Infantry Brigade while one CMO Company will remain at the Headquarters of the 9th Infantry Division as reserve.

Alcovindas said, “We will be reaching out to the farthest of barangays as community organizers trained to identify and address the needs and issues of the community. The 9th CMO Battalion is going to be the link of the military and various stakeholders towards peace and community development,” he said.

The activation of the 9th CMO Battalion was to boost the 9th ID’s thrusts in the implementation of the government’s Internal Peace and Security Operations Plan “Bayanihan."

The plan adopts an approach wherein the solution in attaining peace is through the participation of all stakeholders with the Army acting as a catalyst.

Major General Josue S Gaverza, Jr., AFP commanding general to the 9th ID said, “We will not limit ourselves from “winning the war” against the NPA armed group in the region. We are more committed in “winning the peace “in Bicol Region in order for development to prosper. The 9th CMO Battalion will help fast track our pace in accomplishing this mission”. (PNA)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DA assures Bicol farmers, fishermen of fuel subsidy

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 16 (PNA) - The Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office in Bicol has assured farmers and fishermen in the region of fuel subsidy to help them cushion the impacts of the staggering cost of petroleum products.

Qualified to receive the subsidy are farmers using mechanical farm equipment such as tractors, palay threshers and dryers and marginalized fishermen using motorized fishing boats, Jose Dayao, the DA’s regional executive director on Monday said.

“We are just preparing the list of the would be recipients of this assistance that would be based on the application forms and inventory of farm machineries and motorized fishing boats we have distributed to all the six provinces of Bicol and as soon as it is ready and validation is completed, the distribution of the fuel subsidy will immediately be done,” Dayao said.

He said it is not the first time that the DA will be giving out fuel subsidy to farmers and fishermen in the region as it was also implemented during a fuel oil crisis situation affected by the Iraq war several years back.

Meanwhile, the DA opened on Monday at its Regional Field Office (RFU) complex in Barangay San Agustin here the two-day Barangay Food Terminal (BFT) Summit dubbed “Tiangge sa DA” that offered for sale different kinds of agricultural and fishery products from all the provinces of the region.

Delegations to the affair are hundreds of farmers, fishermen and agricultural traders involved in the operation of BFT supported by the DA in their respective localities under its Agribusiness and Supporting Services Program implemented in selected barangays in the region.

Dayao said the summit also serves as an avenue for the delegations to acquire new technologies and knowledge in farming, fishing, crops processing and marketing through exchange of ideas among each other, lectures provided by experts and audio-visuals produced by the DA.

In a related development, the Albay Provincial Agricultural Services Office (PASO) over the weekend convened in Legazpi City hundreds of farmers from all over the province for the ninth year celebration of the Provincial Agri-Fiesta in connection with the yearly Farmers and Fisherfolks Week festivity.

The week-long affair themed "Bracing for a More Climate Proof Farming: Agri-Fiesta in the Next Level", honored the outstanding farmers for their big contributions in agriculture and to showcase farm products in the province. (PNA)

Phivolcs closely monitoring Mt. Mayon and Bulusan in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, May 16 (PNA) -- Volcanologists are closely monitoring Mayon volcano in Albay and Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon after both showed signs of restiveness following events of phreatic ash explosion, volcanic quakes and ground deformation.

As Mount Bulusan continue to show signs of abnormality, Mayon volcano was jolted by 15 volcanic quakes for the past 24 hours on Sunday.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) seismic network recorded 15 volcanic earthquakes and one rockfall related event during the past 24 hours.

Moderate emission of white steam that reached a maximum height of 400 meters above the summit crater was observed drifting west–southwest and southwest.

Crater glow was observed at Intensity II (can be seen by the naked eye) Saturday evening.

Results of ground deformation measurement (precise leveling) conducted on May 7-11, 2011 showed slight inflation of volcano edifice as compared with March 6 to 10 survey.

Alert Level 1 is still in effect over Mayon volcano. Although this means that no eruption is imminent, it is recommended that the public should not enter the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone (PDZ) due to the continuing threat from sudden small explosions and rockfalls from the upper and middle slopes of the volcano.

Active stream/river channels and those perennially identified as lahar-prone areas in the southern sector should also be avoided especially during bad weather conditions or when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, in an email statement on Sunday, said he has directed disaster authorities here that the “No human Activities” within the PDZ around Mayon volcano should strictly be enforced, no orchid collection in the prohibited zone 3 and no mountain climbing up to Camp 2.

Tour agencies were advised to secure prior clearance from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council through the Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office (APSEMO) for tourism activities near the proximity of the PDZ.

Tourist and villagers were warned not to venture into critical channels such as Basud, Mabinit, Bonga, Buyuan, Mi-isi, Anoling, San Vicente and Buang channels.

On the other hand, the seismic activities of Mount Bulusan for the past two days, after spewing ash on Friday, has remained calm and manifested a downward trend in volcanic earthquakes.

Phivolcs Seismic instruments detected on Sunday only four volcanic earthquake during a 24-hour observation period, while 11 volcanic quakes jolted the volcano on Saturday, signifying that fluctuating trend in volcanic quakes are still signs that the volcano’s state remains unstable.

Dr. Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, in an interview, said that the agency is closely checking Mount Bulusan seismic behavior manifested by its recent phreatic explosion and the fluctuating trend in volcanic quakes occurrence, and ground deformation.

Laguerta said the precursor manifested by the volcano may either indicate that the volcano’s restiveness is building up or it is waning, so “we have to make more in depth scientific observation.”

Alert Level 1 remains hoisted over the affected areas, meaning that the source of activity is hydrothermal and shallow.

Residents were warned not to enter the four-kilometer radius PDZ since the area is at risk to sudden steam and ash explosions. (PNA)

Albay governor Joey Salceda briefs members of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) Monday at the office of Civil Defense (OCD) based at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola, Legazpi City, especially handling situations for Mayon and Bulusan volcanoes which are merely 80 kilometers apart from each other.
Both volcanoes are acting up anew asincreasing sulfur dioxide emissions and inflation of its edifice. (Photos by Rey M. Nasol)

Bomb explodes at the rooftop of RCBC bank in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, May 16 (PNA) -- Police operatives in Masbate are hunting down an unidentified person that lobbed on Saturday evening an improvised bomb that exploded on the rooftop of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., (RCBC) branch in downtown Masbate, slightly damaging the roof, a Philippine National Police (PNP) officer said Monday.

Initial police investigation report said the bomb exploded at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday which was lobbed by a man in his 30’s, 5’8 in height and masculine in built.

Police Senior Inspector Ayn Natuel, PNP Bicol spokesperson, quoting a report from the Masbate police station, said that witnesses saw the suspect clad in white t-shirt and maong pants, sporting a black Bull cap and carrying a black and red bag.

According to the witnesses, Natuel said the suspect was seen to have entered the Sampaguita hotel and restaurant beside the RCBC building.

After the suspect finished his drinks, he went up to the hotel’s terrace and stayed there for a while, after which he was seen leaving the hotel premises in a hurry and flagged down a motorcycle waiting for him.

Five minutes after, the residents and hotel occupants heard a loud explosion from the bank's roof top. No one was hurt by the blast, police said.

Police investigator are still facing a blank wall as to the identity of the suspect and the motive behind the bombing. (PNA)

Village officials urged to join anti-logging drive
By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY, May 16 (PNA) -– The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) here has called on barangay officials to actively participate in government’s efforts toward putting an end to illegal logging in support of President Benigno Aquino III’s policy declaring a total logging ban in the country.

“Village officials should join us in the battlefront of the fight against the still rampant illegal forest activities that involve cutting of trees for lumber and charcoal in compliance with their mandate of enforcing the law in their respective area of responsibility,” CENRO officer Oscar Dominguez said on Monday.

Barangay officials have the police power to enforce even special laws like those that provide for the protection of forest resources within their territories that is why we wanted them to help us particularly in the imposition of the total log ban policy which is part of the present administration’s environmental protection and anti-calamity measures, Dominguez said.

A barangay level implementation of this policy, he said would be an effective way towards realizing its intention of restoring and protecting the country’s forest cover that serves as the first line of defense of every community against natural calamities brought about by floods and landslides.

To make this work, Dominguez said he is coordinating with chairmen of all the 54 barangays here to orient them on how to enforce forestry laws including the guidelines on total log ban and establish with them a communication network for the monitoring of human activities in the timberland and forest areas within their respective jurisdictions.

The CENRO will be making them its partners in protecting the local forest resources and considering that these officials know who among their constituents are engaged in illegal cutting of trees and when, where and how these people strike, it will be easy for them to curtail such activities, he said.

Cutting of trees for lumber, charcoal and firewood remains rampant in most upland barangays of the city despite the implementation of the total log ban policy and the culprits most of the time go unmolested because “we do not have enough enforcers to cover all the specific areas that need to be guarded”, Dominguez said.

The barangay officials, when mobilized into this responsibility will certainly make a lot of difference insofar as curtailing illegal activities in the forest is concerned, he stressed.

On the sawmill in Barangay Pangpang owned by city councilor Peter Ravanilla that reportedly had been operating despite the moratorium on logging and intensified anti-lumber poaching drive, the CENRO chief said his office is seriously looking into it and vowed to prosecute its owner once found out violating the law.

Under President Aquino’s total log ban policy, operations of all logging equipment and facilities including sawmills are prohibited, Dominguez added. (PNA)

Sorsogon vet warns public on harming protected marine animals By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY, May 16 (PNA) – The Sorsogon Provincial Veterinary (Office (PVO) here on Monday reiterated its public warning against human activities harmful to animals especially marine and wildlife species that are considered rare and endangered.

“Our existing laws on animal protection are not sleeping and we will not hesitate to use its teeth against those who would harm or kill for one reason or another any of our animal species that should be conserved and protected,” Enrique Espiritu, the PVO chief warned as he expressed deep remorse over the recent mass slaughter of dolphins in Pilar, Sorsogon.

Among these laws are Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act; RA 8485 that is known as the Animal Welfare Act of 1998; RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code of 1998; Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) No. 185 Series of 1992; Fisheries Administrative Order No. 185-1 Series of 1997; Fisheries Administrative Order No. 208 Series of 2001 and; DENR Administrative Order (AO) No. 55 Series of 1991.

RA 9147, Espiritu said, prohibits the killing, hurting, keeping, selling, hunting, transporting snd destroying any kind of wildlife species while RA 8485 seeks to protect and promote the welfare of native animals by way of controlling the operation of facilities in connection with its domestication, training and breeding for commercial purposes.

RA 8550 on the other hand promotes the management and protection of fisheries resources and marine life in the country to prevent the extinction of rare and endangered species. Obstruction of its migration paths is also prohibited, Espiritu explained.

FAO 185 prohibits the catching, collection, selling, buying, possession and transporting of dolphins and FAO 185-1 amended Sections 1 and 2 of the former where except from dolphins, similar activities are also forbidden against sharks and related species that include the famous whale sharks which is aplenty and attracting tourists in the coastal waters of Donsol, Sorsogon.

FAO 208, the PAO said provides for additional protection of rare and endangered marine species while AO 55 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources declares sea cow, locally called “dugong” as a protected marine mammal in the Philippines.

All these laws provides for penalties of imprisonment and fine to those who would be found by the court guilty of violation and “we will not think twice in bringing before the court anybody who would violate any of its provisions”, Espiritu said.

Apart from these local laws, he said there are also important international agreements where the Philippine government is a signatory and being implemented in the country for animal protection like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Other international policies being implemented in the Philippines, Espiritu added are the agreements reached by the Convention on Migratory Species or Bonn Convention and the 21 or United Nations Environmental Program's (UNEP) Sustainable Development Agreement.

“We do not want a repeat of the gory incident in Barangay Bantayan of Pilar town where at least seven young dolphins were reportedly slaughtered en masse by two crooked fishermen for its meat last April 26 that is why we are continuously reminding and warning our fisherfolk that such barbaric act is punishable by law,” he added.

The suspects have been identified and now facing charges filed by the police before the local court. (PNA)

Bicol DRMMC holds emergency meeting to prepare counter measures in case Mayon and Bulusan volcanoes erupt

LEGAZPI CITY, May 16 (PNA) – The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) on Monday hosted an emergency meeting to validate and conduct an inventory of all available resources as well as logistics to prepare the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon for possible eruptions of Bulusan and Mayon volcanoes.

RDRRMC chairman and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional director Bernardo Alejandro IV said that leading government agencies involved in relief supplies, infrastructures, health, evacuation camps, actual evacuation and peace and order have prepositioned their resources (foods, human and equipment) in case there will be an eruption of Bulusan or Mayon volcanoes.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda told the same meeting that the provincial government is always prepared for any eventualities, like Mayon volcano eruption.

“The capability of the province to sustain the evacuation related operation is for 45 days. This means that the provincial government can still afford to sustain the resources needed in case Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) upgrade the alert level status,” he said.

The governor also ordered the Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) to call for an emergency meeting with municipal and city government units to tackle measures in case there will be an evacuation. “In the case of Albay, we are always in the preemptive measure which includes human and animal evacuation, medical mission at the evacuation camps and release of food assistance.”

Philippine Army Infantry Division deputy commander Marlo Salazar assured the Regional DRRMC that all vehicles (trucks) are on stand by and ready for deployment in case the local government units concerned ordered the evacuation of residents within the volcanoes' danger zones.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanology, said Bulusan volcano’s status remains at Alert Level 1, which means that the source of activity is hydrothermal and shallow. Entry to the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) is strictly prohibited, since the area is at risk to sudden steam and ash explosions.

On Mayon volcano, Laguerte said that since last week, there has been an increase of seismic events around the volcano. “However, there is an intrusions and deformation in the crater.”

“Mayon’s crater is still inflated. It means that quakes are notable and we are observing carefully and evaluating if it will result in upgrade of the level status of Mayon,” he said.

He added that the increase of alert level would depend on how Mayon volcano would react or behave. (PNA)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

DOLE eyes jobs, livelihood for 33,000 Bicol workers

LEGAZPI CITY, May 12 (PNA) – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Thursday it is targeting 33,000 workers for its job placement and livelihood opportunity assistance in the region this year.

It may be difficult target given the oil price hikes being experienced by the country that greatly impact on the economy, thus making local job openings scarce but not impossible to hit with the use of job fairs and livelihood projects as tools, according to DOLE regional director Alvin Villamor.

“We have been coordinating with various agencies both in the private and government sectors, including local government units (LGUs) as well as non-government organizations (NGOs) regarding the conduct of job fairs in different parts of Bicol,” Villamor said.

The DOLE regional office, he said, has P10.8 million in fresh fund for livelihood projects that would provide alternative sources of income for the unemployed workforce in the region, both the skilled and unskilled groups to include urban, coastal and upland villagers.

Villamor said his office is giving Masbate preference in the livelihood program to help the island province improve its poor economic condition that makes it the poorest among the six Bicol provinces.

Masbate’s severe poverty, he said, has been pulling the region down to its status as the second poorest in the country and among the highest in unemployment rate, making true the claim made by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda that Bicol is the “Tambay Capital” of the Philippines owing to this fact, Villamor said.

Latest employment statistics in the region released over the week by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said more Bicolanos were out of job in January this year, as employment rate declined to 92.9 percent from the same period a year ago.

Results of the latest round of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) show unemployment rate in the region accelerating by 2.0 percentage points, settling at 7.1 percent. The employment situation was generally better in January last year when employment rate stood at 94.9 percent and unemployment rate at 5.1 percent, the NSCB said. (PNA)

NFA says rice sufficient in Bicol even during calamities
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 11 (PNA) -– With the 1.3 million bags of rice at its warehouses as of this week, the regional office of the National Food Authority (NFA) for Bicol here on Wednesday said supply of the staple grain in the region would be sufficient even under the calamity situation left by typhoon Bebeng.

The typhoon hit the region with heavy downpour that triggered flash floods over the weekend affecting hundreds of thousands of Bicolano families that are now being attended to with relief operations by local government units and destroyed millions of pesos worth of farms, properties and infrastructures.

The region’s rice stock could last for the rest of this year, NFA regional director Piolito Santos on Wednesday said, allaying fears of a shortage that could be triggered by natural disasters requiring food relief operations for thousands of families in the region that are displaced by calamities that also destroy vast areas of rice lands.

Santos said his office is adopting measures to effectively implement in Bicol the NFA’s food security program that include compliance with its rice distribution target to ensure enough supply in six provinces, seven cities and over 200 towns of the region.

Under this distribution scheme, the NFA would be selling some 3.6 million bags of government rice across Bicol from January to December this year. “Through this, we are confident that we would be able to make supply and prices of rice stable in the region,” the food agency’s regional chief said.

Prices in local markets range between P30 and P35 for well-milled and premium rice varieties while the NFA is seeing to it that government rice is always available especially to indigent families at the subsidized price of P28 per kilo.

Santos said there is no indication that this price level will be more upward as the supply is stable particularly that it is still harvest season. Other farmers have also started preparing their farms for the next planting season that starts early next month which means, the coming October will also be the beginning of the second harvest period for this year, he added.

The palay procurement program of the NFA is also being implemented in full swing and Santos said, they are targeting a total of 1.5 million bags this year that is easily attainable given the bountiful harvest farmers are enjoying due to favorable climate that makes even rain-fed rice farms significantly productive.

“We see to it that our rice distribution and palay procurement programs are implemented well to ensure that no shortage of the grain is experienced by the region even under calamity situations,” he stressed. (PNA)