Wednesday, September 28, 2011

'Bayanihan' showcased in Pilipinas Natin launch in Camarines Sur

PILI, Camarines Sur, Sept. 28 (PNA) – The spirit of "bayanihan," a Filipino culture of cooperation has been relived in Bicol with the launching last Friday here of the Pilipinas Natin, a pet project of President Benigno S. Aquino III that spells out the value of volunteerism.

Sec. Sonny Coloma, of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), who represented the President in the grand affair, said the heart of volunteerism boiled down to the inner value of every Filipino —- the act of bayanihan. Coloma witnessed the construction being undertaken by volunteer workers of a school building in Barangay Himaao here.

The volunteers were composed of villagers, students, officers and members of the Parent-Teacher’s Association (PTA) and soldiers of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 9th Infantry Division based here.

Beatriz Teoxon, Himaao Elementary School Principal conveyed her gratitude to Camarines Sur, Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte and Pili town Mayor Tomas Bongalonta for choosing her school as recipient of the school building as she expressed her appreciation to Coloma for being the first Cabinet official to set foot in their school.

“This is a call for unity, for volunteerism and for solidarity. This is a realization of P-Noy’s vision to alleviate the country from poverty. Pilipinas Natin is one of the integral components of his economic program stipulated in his Philippine Development Plan and on top of this is his campaign for a better education,” Coloma said.

Coloma was also ushered to the two-hectare site of the Gawad Kalinga (GK) housing project in Barangay Pawili, Bula, Camarines Sur where houses for 44 poor and homeless families from the municipality are being built through the bayanihan system participated in by hundreds of volunteers not only from local communities but from all over the country.

The spirit of bayanihan being reawakened by Pres. Aquino through his Pilipinas Natin project forms a partnership between the government and the people towards achieving the country’s progress and development, and by the GK in building decent homes for the less privileged Filipinos.

“We can prove to the world that Filipinos are one in nation-building,” GK founder and president Tony Meloto who joined Coloma at the housing site said. “We need to prove to the world that Filipinos can afford to stay in decent houses and not as squatters in their own communities. Our President’s vision for Pilipinas Natin is the same vision that we want to show the world -- that Filipinos, by helping each other, can reach their dreams and join hands in nation-building,” Meloto added.

Meloto also expressed gratitude to the family of Denisio Eusebio who voluntarily donated the lot to the housing project which, he said, will serve as one of the landmarks of GK community in the country and all over the world where decent houses for indigent families are erected through the bayanihan way.

The launching event was made more momentous by thousands of Bicolano youth who came in from all over the region and volunteered to the tree planting activities simultaneously held in five sites in the province adopted for its reforestation program by El Verde, a project of the provincial government that seeks to plant 12,000 trees until 2014 to improve the environment and increase food production.

The volunteers planted 100,000 trees in Barangays Sto. Niño and Curry here; 75,000 in Barangays Harubay and Lugsad in Calabanga town; another 75,000 in Barangay Lupi, Tinambac; 65,000 in Barangays Villaflorida and Guinaban of Ocampo town and 12,500 in Barangay Libod, Tigaon.

The El Verde project is in support of Pres. Aquino’s National Greening Program that targets the planting of 1.5 billion of trees in 1.5 million hectares of forest lands all over the country until 2016. Last February 23 that marked the launching of the project, El Verde made it to the Guinness Book of World Records when 10,000 volunteers planted 500,000 trees in one hour. (PNA)

Three timber poachers in Catanduanes get 20-year jail term over a single tree
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept 28 (PNA) – Here’s one for timber poachers.

A 10 to 20 years imprisonment were meted out to three timber poachers for cutting a tree and hauling down the felled timber from a mountainous property to the village proper in Barangay Batong Paloway of San Andres town about two years ago.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu Contreras found Abelardo Solero, 58, Eddie Somigao, 36 and Wilson Solero, 28 guilty of violation of Presidential Decree 705, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, as amended, which declared that all lands 18 degrees and above in slope is considered watershed areas and therefore owned by the government.

Court records show that on Jan. 25, 2010, Solero ordered Somigao to cut down a red lauan tree using a chainsaw at a property considered as timberland and registered under the stewardship of a certain Eva Masagca. The younger Solero hauled its lumber down to the barangay proper.

When Masagca learned of the tree cutting a week later, she complained before the barangay captain, who summoned the trio to a confrontation, where the elder Solero admitted the offense, case records showed.

The case then reached the Catanduanes Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) where the three executed separate affidavits detailing their individual participation in the case.

CENRO elevated the case to the court later.

The convicts were also ordered by the court to be transferred from their place of detention at the Catanduanes Provincial Jail to the New Bilibid Prison of the Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR) in Muntinlupa City.

DENR regional executive director for Bicol Joselin Marcus Fragada said the conviction of the trio should serve as a warning to all people violating the law on the protection of the forest and watershed areas.

As this developed, operatives of Catanduanes provincial police office, under provincial director Supt. Joselito Petillano, seized over the weekend a truckload of sawn lumber and a chain saw in an operation in Panganiban town.

In a report, Petillano said the operations, which were part of the police’s unrelenting campaign to curtail illegal cutting of trees in the province and assisted by elements of the 83rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA), however failed to arrest the suspects behind the contraband as they scampered to several directions on noticing the coming of the lawmen.

The suspects left behind in fleeing a total of 400 board feet of fresh sawn narra flitches and a chain saw which were seized by the operatives and turned over to the CENRO for proper disposition, Petillano said. (PNA)

Camarines Sur's top NPA leader surrenders

PILI, Camarines Sur, Sept. 28 (PNA) – A top New People’s Army (NPA) rebel leader operating in Camarines Sur has surrendered last Friday to the Philippine Army (PA) 42nd Infantry Battalion based in Tigaon, Camarines Sur, an Army officer said Wednesday.

Danilo Sombrero, alias Ka Ben, has decided to return to the fold of the law and leave the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) after years of hearing false hopes and promises in the rebel organization, Army Maj. Angelo Guzman 9th Infantry Division, spokesperson said.

Sombrero, surrendered to Lt. Col. Ernesto A. Cruz, Commanding Officer of the 42nd IB stationed in Brgy. Mabalodbalod, Tigaon, Camarines Sur on September 23.

Sombrero, a resident of Bula, Camarines Sur, was accompanied by Herman Quingquing and William Morales, barangay captain and barangay kagawad, respectively, of Brgy. Mabalodbalod, Tigaon, Camarines Sur during his surrender, Cruz said.

Military intelligence disclosed that, Sombrero is the commanding officer (CO) of the Provincial Operational Command (POC) of the CPP-NPA operating in Camarines Sur, tasked to plan, organize, deploy and carry out tactical operations in the province.

The rebel leader said he gave up the movement in order for him and his family to live a normal and peaceful life. “I’m tired of the false hopes and promises from my former superiors in the rebel movement,” Cruz said.

Major General Josue S. Gaverza Jr., commander of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division in Bicol said that the surrender of Sombrero would be a big blow to the communist movement and it shows the worsening situation among the leaders and the ranks in the underground movement.

Gaverza said that Sombrero surrender would entitle him to avail of the Community of Hope Program, a housing and livelihood program for rebel returnees in Camarines Sur.

The program is a joint project of the Province of Camarines Sur, Gawad Kalinga and the 9th Infantry Division, where in the sincerity of the 9th ID’s “bayanihan” efforts has attracted not only the low key armed components but also top ranking leaders. (PNA)

Albay, CamSur lose P14.2M in agriculture to Pedring

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Bicol initially reported that the region lost some P14.2 million in agriculture after Tropical Storm Pedring dumped moderate to heavy rains in Bicol since Monday, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) said Wednesday.

Raffy Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional director and RDRRMC chairperson, said floodwaters destroyed P14,224,840.63 worth agricultural crops affecting 2,787.10 hectares of rice and corn.

The initial damage report came from the provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur. (PNA)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Study shows 2 Masbate marine sanctuaries toughest vs climate change
By Danny O. Calleja

MASBATE City, Sept. 26 (PNA) – Two local government-protected marine sanctuaries within the territorial waters of the island province of Masbate are exceptionally tough against the impacts of climate change, according to a new study.

According to the study recently conducted by the Angelo King Center for Research and Environment Management of the Siliman University (SU-AKCREM) based in Dumaguete City, the Bugsayon Marine Reserve in Masbate Pass bested the other 17 fish sanctuaries in Central Philippines in terms of climate change resiliency.

Buntod Reef Marine Reserve that is also under the stewardship of the local government unit (LGU) here came second while Carbin Reef in Sagay, Negros Occidental and the Hilantagan Marine Reserve within the coastal waters of Santa Fe, Cebu placed third and fourth respectively.

In a statement reaching here over the weekend, SU president and former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Angel Alcala said that based on the study, the water of Masbate Pass is colder, more nutrient-rich and calmer, making the Bugsayon sanctuary most livable for fishes and other marine species compared to the rest.

Masbate Pass is one of the various fishing grounds making the island province among a top contributor to the country’s fishing industry. It is located at the northern side of this city and separates the mainland of Masbate from Ticao Island.

These natural traits of Bugsayon waters make it highly resilient to the impacts of the prevailing climate change phenomenon as it bring down temperature stress to allow faster recovery of the coral cover and fish biomass, Alcala said in the statement.

Accounts on the historical background of Bugsayon gathered by the study, he said have it that the marine reserve was only an algal community seven years ago. The nurturing and protection provided by the city government enabled it to develop into a fish sanctuary with a 40 percent live hard coral cover and moderate fish biomass of 40 metric tons per kilometer.

City Mayor Socrates Tuason here said the SU study results confirm the good outcome of his administration’s initiatives toward the protection and preservation of the local fishing industry resources as part of its environmental care, climate change adaptation and disaster mitigation programs.

“We have with us our coastal communities as without their participation and cooperation, this endeavor would never earn any positive result. Illegal fishing such as the use of dynamites, toxic chemicals and other prohibited methods had been stopped owing to this campaign,” the city mayor said.

“Through vigilance and strict enforcement of maritime laws, we were also able to relieve ourselves of a severe headache from the encroachment of big commercial fishers into our municipal waters,” he added.

Alcala said it is important that marine sanctuaries within municipal waters are looked after by LGUs and local coastal communities so that its resources are developed and preserved to become sustainable sources of fish and other marine products for food security and livelihood.

Some of the other marine reserves placed under the SU-AKCREM studies were the Pasil Shoal in Ticao Pass and Naranggasan Shoal and Bangad Marine Reserve in Asid Gulf, both of Masbate; Asluman Marine Reserve in Gigante Norte, Sicogon Island, Cabugao Daku Islet, Granada and Gigante Marine Reserves and Bantigue Islet, all in Carles, Iloilo.

The Carburihan, Sicogoy and Ocoy Marine Reserves in Santa Fe and Hilatagan North in Bantayan Island, both of Cebu were among those studied and found out vulnerable to climate change compared to the first four marine sanctuaries in the resiliency rankings, Alcala said.

LGUs and all other fisheries and environmental stakeholders should initiate moves to regulate fishing pressures on these marine reserves otherwise, depletion of its resources would be out of control and its sustainability and resiliency amidst the erratic weather condition brought about by climate change would be compromised, he warned. (PNA)

PCA distributes 4,000 bags of salt for coconut fertilizer in Camarines Norte

DAET, Camarines Norte, Sept 26 (PNA) – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will be giving out this month 4,000 bags of table salt for fertilizer to at least 1,000 coconut farmers in Camarines Norte as part of its Salt Fertilization Project (SFP) under the National Coconut Productivity Program (NCPP).

The SFP is being implemented by the PCA to address the nutrient deficiency that has been plaguing coconut trees in over half of the country’s 3.4 million hectares of coconut areas to stagnate the growth rate of the industry while the demand for the crop continues to increase.

Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) statistics show that coconut production in 2010 hit only 15.9 million metric tons (MTs) or only an average annual growth rate in 10 years of two percent from about 13 million MTs in 2000.

From 1991 to 1997, farmers in the Philippines through the help of the PCA fertilized more about 18,000 hectares of coconut land or around 170,000 trees with salt resulting in an average relative yield increase of 125 percent over unfertilized coconuts, he said.

After that period, the government salt fertilization program was shelved but following a slump in coconut production it was revived in 2008 under the SFP and until July this year, the PCA had already distributed 1.3 million bags of salt for the fertilization of 32.77 million coconut trees in 327,650 hectares of land nationwide and monitored 30 percent in production increase.

PCA Camarines Norte provincial chief Bobbie Jacob said coconut fertilization using sodium chloride (NaCl) or table salt is the cheapest and best source of chlorine to increase copra weight per nut and yield per tree. It is a practical means of increasing coconut production in chlorine-deficient areas.

Jacob said farmers in the province are given the salt for free three times a year with an advice that they use it by way of broadcast application or placing it uniformly over a weeded area around the base of the coconut tree.

Generally, he said nut bearing palms are fertilized annually in areas with almost uniform rainfall distribution while in areas with distinct wet and dry seasons, with uneven rainfall distribution, and those with sandy soils, fertilizers are best applied every six months.

In a long-term study of salt application, 1.5 kilograms of salt per tree per year is considered to be the most effective and economical to increase nut yield and copra weight. Split application is done at the pre-bearing stages or one to four years of palms to reduce loss of fertilizer nutrients through leaching and run-off and makes fertilizer use more effective, Jacob said.

The use of common table salt as fertilizer also accelerates crop growth and development, minimizes leaf spot damage and increases tolerance to drought. It is also an environment-friendly fertilization method under judicious practice, Jacob said.

Farmers in the province are given the salt for free three times a year with an advice that they use it by way of broadcast application or placing it uniformly over a weeded area around the base of the coconut tree, he said.

Through the (NCPP) Jacob said, the PCA aims to increase the country’s coconut production to 3.37 million MTs by 2016 from 3.175 million MTs in 2010.

Apart from the SFP, the NCPP also had as its other components the Participatory Coconut Planting Project which pays a farmer P30 per coconut tree planted and the Coconut Intercropping Project which encourages planting of other crops under coconut trees. (PNA)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Albay ranks 7th among top 10 highly performing provinces, LGUs
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 19 (PNA) -- Albay ranks seventh in the top 10 performing provinces and 20 other local government units (LGUs) in the country based on the Local Governance Performance Management System (LGPMS) evaluation by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

LGPMS is a web-based, self-assessment tool managed by the Bureau of Local Government Supervision of the DILG which assesses LGU performance in administrative, social, economic, and environmental governance, as well as on fundamentals of good governance which include transparency, participation and financial accountability.

DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo recently announced the LGPMS evaluation results. He noted that LGUs have shown commitment in elevating the standards of public service delivery.

The top 10 high performing provinces are Bohol (4.9370); La Union (4.9115); Bulacan (4.8628); Negros Oriental (4.8331); Pangasinan (4.8185); Ilocos Norte (4.8185); Albay (4.8064); Cavite (4.8031); Compostela Valley (4.7812); and Tarlac (4.7773).

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said he is glad LGU efforts are given recognition, which encourages local leaders to perform better. He himself had initiated landmark programs that spurred socioeconomic activities and encouraged investments in the province.

“Our vision is to become the most livable province known for good schools, good hospitals and good environment,” he said.

Under the theme “Albay Rising,” the provincial government launched the 5 E’s platform: Economy, Education, Environment, Equity and Health.

Salceda’s notable projects include the Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA), Guicadale Business Platform, National Renewable Energy Program, Barangay Capacity Enhancement, the 4Ps, Education Quality for Albayano (EQUAL), Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme (AHECS), Bicol University and the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital Modernization and universal PhilHealth coverage.

Under Salceda, Albay has also embarked on aggressive, ground-breaking and innovative programs, among them the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) program with its ‘Zero Casualty’ goal and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA), under which the governor was named United Nations CCA-DRR Global champion and Albay as its Global Model.

The other LGUs which made it to the 30 top performers in the highly urbanized and independent component cities category are Valenzuela (4.9150); San Juan (4.8875); Puerto Princesa (4.8640); Angeles (4.7410); Davao (4.7380); Naga (4.6940); Zamboanga (4.6865); Iligan (4.6710); Cebu (4.6633); and Taguig (4.6415). (PNA)

DOLE, Salceda join forces vs child labor By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 19 (PNA) – Apart from championing several causes that include education, good governance and climate change adaptation and mitigation, Albay Governor Joey Salceda has embraced another advocacy: anti-child labor.

Late last week, Salceda formally forged an alliance with the regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Labor (DOLE) that places the Albay provincial government alongside with the labor department in the battlefront against the alarming incidents of child labor not only in the province but the entire region.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into by Salceda and Villamor in behalf of the province and DOLE respectively, provides for the creation of the Albay Anti-Child Labor Council (A-ACLC) whose primary responsibility is to formulate policies that would deter the use of children in tedious economic activities.

The Council will also be involved in massive advocacy campaigns against child labor, educating through information drives for parents on the children’s need for urgent attention in line with the government’s development agenda that prioritize policies and programs geared towards the welfare of children and prosecution of cases involving child abuse.

Its members include the Philippine National Police provincial office, representatives from the local academe, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Bureau of Investigations (NBI), Prosecutor’s Office, Liga ng mga Barangay, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA), among others.

“Albay, through Gov. Salceda will set an example in eliminating child labor especially its worst forms such as prostitution, white slavery, working in hazardous workplaces like mining and deep sea fishing and being used in arms conflict like joining the New People’s Army (NPA), among others but not disregarding the subtle forms,” DOLE regional director Alvin Villamor on Monday said.

Salceda said “the provincial government and the A-ACLC need no virtuosic decisions to succeed in saving our children as our love for children, genuine concern and political will are all that it would take”.

Villamor said organizing provincial anti-child labor councils in Bicol is one of the moves of the DOLE in solidifying its campaign against child-labor and child-trafficking in the region that is considered as among the areas in the country with highest incidences of these societal menaces. Bicol also serves as both a transit point and source of children for sex slavery.

DOLE statistics show that 8.6 percent of the region’s non-adult population is into child-labor which means that one of every 10 Bicolano children has to work to earn a living for himself or his family.

With high rate of poverty being the second poorest region in the country, Villamor said Bicol’s child-labor incidences are not surprisingly high given that the key factor that drags children into involving in forced labor is the need to earn to augment their poor family’s meager income.

In Albay, 62.4 percent of children belong to poor families ranking the province as the 22nd among provinces of the country with the highest rate of children in poverty, according to the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB).

Worse, the Bicol region is also one of five top areas in the country where children are trafficked into sexual slavery, according to the Ecpat-Philippines (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) and Albay and Sorsogon have been identified as gateways for the transport of children from the Visayas and Mindanao regions to Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon, Villamor said. (PNA)

DA-Bicol pushes peanut production to mitigate climate change By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Sept 19 (PNA) – The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Regional Field Unit (RFU) in Bicol is pushing wide-scale production in the region of peanut, a dollar earner, poverty reduction, health and climate change-mitigating crop.

Peanut is a legume that mitigates climate change with its ability to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas-emitting nitrous oxide as it can capture nitrogen from the air, “fix” this into plant food and thus make it a natural fertilizer to the plant, according to a recent Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) advisory.

Legume growing also supports a climate change mitigation measure called “conservation agriculture” which reduces soil tillage by way of storing carbon in soil rather than allowing it to be emitted into the air. Thus, its use will have a significant beneficial effect in reducing stress on the soil specially due to cropping intensity, it said.

Leguminous plants have a symbiotic relationship with a soil bacterium called rhizobia that thrives in the plants’ root nodules. Rhizobia can supply about 225 kilos of nitrogen per hectare per year or equivalent to input cost of P4,500, the advisory explained.

Considered climate change-ready varieties of peanut are Namnama-1 or Philippine-registered NSIC Pn 11 and Namnama 2 or NSIC Pn 14. They have a pod yield of 2.2 to 2.6 MT per hectare. These are breeds shared by the India-based International Crops Research Institute (ICRISAT) to the Philippines, it added.

BAR director Nicomedes Eleazar in a statement here Monday said, peanut is likewise considered drought-resistant with less water need. “We want to continue our support for peanut breeding and production because peanut remains to be a minor crop rather than a cash crop even if farmers have an opportunity to make money from it by replacing our big import.”

The country imports an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 metric tons (MT) of peanut yearly out of a total supply of 60,000 to 70,000 MT. This means Philippines imports more than 50 percent of its peanut supply yearly primarily from China, Eleazar said.

Legumes in general are eyed by DA as poverty reduction crops. When inter-planted with corn or rice, legumes can raise land use efficiency and farmers' income. At a production cost of P27,030, a farmer may earn a net income of P22,970 out of a 2,000 kilo per hectare yield, given a P25 per kilo farm gate price, according to DA regional executive director Jose Dayao based here.

Aside from high protein content at 26 to 28 percent, peanuts are rich in B vitamins, folate, niacin, and Vitamin E. It has the good fat that helps remove cholesterol from blood, consequently helping reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, Dayao said.

Peanut as a plant has other uses. Its hay is a good fodder for livestock with its rich crude protein, better palatability compared to other fodder materials, and digestibility. “Peanut hay is a high quality forage for cattle, carabao, horses, goat, sheep, rabbits,” he said, adding that the plant’s protein cake residue from oil processing and extraction is also used as an animal feed.

“We want to stabilize the peanut production in Bicol which has been erratic due to insufficient peanut seed supply. It will be done through intercropping as crops inter-planted with peanut usually have better performance even with low or no fertilizer application due to legumes' nitrogen-fixing capability. That makes organic legume production possible, Dayao said.

This cropping system, he said has been proven in Cagayan Valley where peanut-white corn inter-cropping practices do not use pesticide sprays or chemical fertilizers while in upland rice planting, the same chemical free rhizobia seed inoculant-dependent practice is adopted.

In that practice, Dayao said the legumes are supplanted with macro and micro-nutrients through spraying of organic foliar fertilizers like the humic acid-- a complex mixture of different acids forming humic substances that come from humus, peat, coal, and many upland streams.

The DA with the help of local government units (LGUs) and cooperation of local farmers targets an initial of 2,000 hectares for peanut production mostly applying the intercropping method in Bicol, the regional DA chief said.

There is a peanut variety called the Asha which could be used in this massive production undertaking. Also known as the “three in one” because of its flexible size of Class A “export” quality, Class B for domestic market and Class C for planting and processing, this variety yields pods of up to 3.1 metric tons per hectare, he added. (PNA)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Catanduanes solon allocates P1.5M for TESDA scholarship

VIRAC, Catanduanes, Sept. 15 (PNA) -- The lone district of Catanduanes announced recently the additional P1.5 million allocation for scholarships in technical and vocational courses of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Newly-opened training centers in Viga and Pandan, and TESDA-operated Cabugao School of Handicraft and Cottage Industries (CSHCI) in Bato will be the beneficiaries of the allocation.

Congressman Cesar V. Sarmiento said that the additional funding will make the scholarship program more proportionate and balance with those from the northern towns requiring less expense in studying closer to their home.

He also urged scholars to be diligent and creative in learning and using their skills in preparation for the job opportunities that will come their way from considerable number of vital infrastructure projects set to be implemented in Catanduanes.

The scholarship slots are divided in the following courses: Massage Therapy (37), Bartending (54), Computer Hardware Servicing (70), Commercial Cooking (70), Food and Beverage Services (30), Housekeeping (52) and Front Office Services (36).

The P1.5 million released from the Private Education Student Fund Assistance which is allocated to congressional districts nationwide, a total of 349 scholarships slots have been opened for Catanduanes youths. (PNA)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DENR says most of Sorsogon hospitals do not have proper waste disposal

SORSOGON CITY, Sept. 14 (PNA) -- Most of the hospitals operating in the province do not have waste water discharge permits and solid waste management system in violation of Republic Act 6969, known as "The Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990,” the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Environment Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) said.

EMB specialist Engr. Leonisa Madeloso said most of the 8 hospitals in the province are without waste water discharge permits, some are without solid waste management reports and most of the mercurial wastes from busted florescent lamps are not safely disposed together with other hospital wastes.

She said the EMB has already issued notice of violations and have conducted dialogues with the hospital personnel on how these wastes should be managed so as not to affect the environment and create public health problems.

Madeloso said that based on their monitoring, evaluation and assessment, eight hospitals in the province are not complying with the guidelines provided in RA 6969 in the proper disposal of hospital and hazardous wastes.

According to Madeloso, they have checked and evaluated one public and one private tertiary hospital; four secondary private and two secondary public hospitals and how these hospitals managed their wastes.

In their findings, Madeloso said all these hospitals lack the proper procedure in disposing their hospital waste while they only use chlorine and lysol as the standard chemicals for disinfecting hospital wastes.

The findings also indicate that no waste disposal signages are conspicuously placed inside the hospitals.

"Sharps and syringes used should always be properly managed and placed in plastic containers and these containers should again be placed in cans and with proper signage and should never be disposed together with other hospital wastes," Madeloso said.

She also reported that some hospitals do not have Pollution Control Officers (PCOs) or if there is one, most are not properly trained.

She urged local chief executives and members of the Sorsogon Provincial Solid Waste Management Board (PSWMB) to inform the provincial government to take action on the EMB findings and work out ways to address this environmental concerns.

"Proper report on what wastes are generated, volume and how these are treated, and disposed should also be made to keep track of the implementation of RA 6969 which hospitals are required to do," Madeloso explained

The PSWMB agreed to address these issues in the province by organizing a Provincial Monitoring Team to monitor and evaluate the implementation of RA 6969 and coordinate with the hospitals to reiterate their strict compliance on the provisions of the law. (PNA)

Cops hunting down Castilla massacre suspect as multiple murder charges filed in court

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 14 (PNA) -- The police are now hunting down the suspect in the murder of four family members in a remote village in Castilla, Sorsogon on Monday.

The police said a long standing family feud led Teodorico Alto to massacre Corazon Marvilla, 60; her daughter Gelandine Ortiz, 32; granddaughter Annika, 5; and grandson Joseph, 3; who were all hacked to death while asleep at their residence early Monday morning.

Police have filed multiple murder charges against Alto and an arrest warrant was issued by the local court. An all point bulletin (APB) was released to police field units in Bicol, Police Inspector Alfredo Nierva, Castilla town police chief, said.

Nierva said they have gathered testimonies from witnesses against the suspect who was seen in the neighborhood at the time the massacre took place.

Nierva said the suspect was a nephew of Corazon and they have a long standing land dispute including the alleged 2007 mauling of the suspect by Corazon's husband, who died two years ago. (PNA)

DENR says most of Sorsogon hospitals do not have proper waste disposal

SORSOGON CITY, Sept. 14 (PNA) -- Most of the hospitals operating in the province do not have waste water discharge permits and solid waste management system in violation of Republic Act 6969, known as "The Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990,” the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Environment Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) said.

EMB specialist Engr. Leonisa Madeloso said most of the 8 hospitals in the province are without waste water discharge permits, some are without solid waste management reports and most of the mercurial wastes from busted florescent lamps are not safely disposed together with other hospital wastes.

She said the EMB has already issued notice of violations and have conducted dialogues with the hospital personnel on how these wastes should be managed so as not to affect the environment and create public health problems.

Madeloso said that based on their monitoring, evaluation and assessment, eight hospitals in the province are not complying with the guidelines provided in RA 6969 in the proper disposal of hospital and hazardous wastes.

According to Madeloso, they have checked and evaluated one public and one private tertiary hospital; four secondary private and two secondary public hospitals and how these hospitals managed their wastes.

In their findings, Madeloso said all these hospitals lack the proper procedure in disposing their hospital waste while they only use chlorine and lysol as the standard chemicals for disinfecting hospital wastes.

The findings also indicate that no waste disposal signages are conspicuously placed inside the hospitals.

"Sharps and syringes used should always be properly managed and placed in plastic containers and these containers should again be placed in cans and with proper signage and should never be disposed together with other hospital wastes," Madeloso said.

She also reported that some hospitals do not have Pollution Control Officers (PCOs) or if there is one, most are not properly trained.

She urged local chief executives and members of the Sorsogon Provincial Solid Waste Management Board (PSWMB) to inform the provincial government to take action on the EMB findings and work out ways to address this environmental concerns.

"Proper report on what wastes are generated, volume and how these are treated, and disposed should also be made to keep track of the implementation of RA 6969 which hospitals are required to do," Madeloso explained

The PSWMB agreed to address these issues in the province by organizing a Provincial Monitoring Team to monitor and evaluate the implementation of RA 6969 and coordinate with the hospitals to reiterate their strict compliance on the provisions of the law. (PNA)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Escudero pushes DA to craft viable insurance schemes for farmers in typhoon-stricken areas
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 12 (PNA) – Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero is pushing the Department of Agriculture (DA) to step up its efforts toward encouraging farmers to place their crops under insurance coverage to protect them against losses brought about by natural calamities.

Several typhoons in the past weeks have destroyed large swaths of agricultural lands in the country and Escudero said the need to insure more farmlands and products in areas battered by severe tropical storms should be realized.

Escudero put to task the DA in encouraging more farmers to insure their lands and farm products with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), a government-owned and -controlled corporation tasked to provide insurance protection against loss of crops, livestock and agricultural assets due to natural calamities, plants pests and disease, among others.

According to the Bicolano senator, while new insurance schemes are being adapted by PCIC in some areas in the country, many farmers, particularly self-financed farmers, are not keen on availing insurance coverage.

This is the reason, he said, why the DA should craft viable insurance schemes for all farmers, especially for those in provinces usually hit by typhoons like the Bicol region, Eastern Visayas, Northern Luzon and some areas in the Central Luzon.

Local government units (LGUs) should also hold the DA towards this end, Escudero said, citing a recent agreement among the province of Negros Occidental, a farmer’s group and PCIC wherein a certain percentage of the insurance premium is shouldered by the local government. “This scheme could be replicated in other areas,” he said.

“The insurance premium can be shouldered by the LGUs with counterparts from the farmers. The amount is roughly computation for rice and sugar lands at P800 to P840 per year to cover a hectare with P20,000 benefit,” the senator noted.

Escudero also mentioned the insurance scheme he arranged with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Government Service Insurance System, which placed under coverage school buildings in natural calamity-prone regions to make sure there is enough funds for immediate repair after the onslaught of typhoon or other calamities.

“We spent only P100 million to insure all school buildings in the regions of Bicol and Eastern Visayas and in the provinces of Quirino, Aurora, Quezon, Isabela and Cagayan that are located in the eastern seaboard of the country,” Escudero said.

The school building repair fund of the DepEd is P3 billion and that amount of premium payment is less than four percent of this repair fund to cover all public school buildings in those typhoon-prone areas, he explained.

"In the case of the farmers, the more of them getting insurance coverage, the more would be protected. “With crop insurance, these farmers are assured to recover their losses when their farms are hit by typhoons, floods or pests and save them from being buried deep into indebtedness,” Escudero added. (PNA)

Four suspected illegal drug pushers nabbed in Camarines Norte

DAET, Camarines Norte, Sept. 12 (PNA) – Four suspected drug pushers were arrested over the weekend in separate buy bust operations in Labo and Vinzons municipalities, the police said Monday.

Supt. Jesus Martinez, the Camarines Norte Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy provincial director, identified the suspects as Marlon Glory Aloc, 28, Eduardo Labeste, 34, Venus Guisado, 24 and Cristopher Palomado Peña, 28, all members of the Calauag Drug Group whose drug trading operations cover the province and the southern Tagalog region.

The suspects were nabbed by joint operatives of the PNP provincial office, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Provincial Anti-Crime Task Force (PACTF) in a series of operations conducted in Vinzons and Labo towns following intensive intelligence build up started about a month ago, Martinez said.

PDEA provincial chief Cristopher Viaña said Aloc was arrested in possession of 13 sachet of crystalline substance believed to be shabu (matamphitamine hydrochloride) during a buy-bust operation in Barangay Sto. Domingo, Vinzons; while Peña fell into an entrapment procedure while in possession of 10 plastic sachets containing a similar substance in Barangay Talobatib, Labo.

Follow up operations, Viaña said, led in the arrest of Labeste and Guisadio in an apartment-hotel in Barangay Kalamanding, Labo while in possession of two large plastic packets and nine sachet of suspected shabu. The couple were said to be the distributor in the province of the prohibited drug they transport from the Calabarzon area.

The PDEA provincial chief said that based on intelligence reports, Labeste and Guisadio, who were both from Calauag, Quezon, had been transporting shabu to Camarines Norte from Southern Tagalog provinces, particularly Laguna and Batangas (PNA)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Running: Villafuerte knits sports tourism with reforestation in PHL’s biggest marathon at CWC
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Sept. 7 (PNA) –- Each one of the about 20,000 runners expected to see action in the Summit CamSur Water Marathon at the world renowned Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) here on September 25 will plant at least 10 trees in any of the province’s designated reforestation areas.

This is how Luis Raymund Villafuerte, the provincial governor who spearheaded Camarines Sur’s transformation into an international center for extreme sports is combining the sports tourism development blueprint of the province with its environmental management thrust, thus dubbing the forthcoming sports spectacular as the "Race to a Green Philippines."

With nearly P1 million in cash prizes at stake, marathon event is seen to be the biggest in the Philippines ever after the superb staging of the third edition of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 last week.

Principally sponsored by Villafuerte and the provincial government of Camarines Sur in partnership with overall organizer Event King and technical organizer Runrio, Inc., the Summit CamSur Water Marathon 2011races certified by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) will be run for 3K, 5K, 10K, 21K Local, 21K Foreign, 42K Local and 42K Foreign along courses centered at CWC.

The event is also sanctioned by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS), making it a qualifying race to all AIMS competitions, including the prestigious Boston Marathon, Villafuerte said here on Wednesday.

“While the Camarines Sur provincial government is keenly promoting sports tourism capitalizing on its CWC where world-class wakeboarding and other water-based sports such as triathlon and dragonboat racing are held, it is also occupied by its reforestation program which is part of its commitment to the environment,” he said.

Villafuerte said the province has been successful so far in its sports tourism promotion and the latest report of the Department of Tourism (DOT) that ranked Camarines Sur as the number one most visited tourism destination in the country bares that out and in reforestation, the Guinness Book of World Records had something to tell for us.

For the first quarter of this year, the DOT records show that Camarines Sur received a total of 406,036 tourists to chalk up some P279 million in gross receipts from its tourism industry.

The arrival figure represented 59 percent of the total achieved by the entire Bicol region while the gross receipts were 55 percent of the regional proceeds.

The recent staging of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 events at the CWC alone, Villafuerte said already drew into the province some 2,000 foreign and domestic tourists apart from the over 1,000 athletes that took part in the race.

On reforestation, the province last February 23 planted 64,096 trees in one hour which the Guinness Book recorded as the largest number that surpassed the previous record of India at 50,033 trees.

It is the first world record of Camarines Sur which the governor said shows that “we care for the environment and that we are at the forefront in the local initiative against climate change”.

That tree planting activity, Villafuerte said was not only for the world record but as part of the “El Verde”, the province’s reforestation program that aims to plant 12 million trees in two years, from 2011 to 2012.

“When we have 20,000 runners for the CamSur Marathon on September 25, then 200,000 more trees will start growing in areas of the province where they are needed most by our reforestation program seeking to restore our forest cover and lessen the impact of climate change on our agriculture and other aspects of local development,” he added. (PNA)

Army Battalion commander survives landmine attack in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 7 (PNA) -- An Army Battalion commander, including 10 of his men, escaped unhurt on Wednesday a landmine explosion that suspected communist rebels planted at a road in the vicinity of Brgys. Magdagunson and Buenavista in Irosin town in Sorsogon, a Philippine National Police (PNP) officer said.

Army Col. Epimaco Makalisang, Battalion commander of the 49th Infantry Battalion based in Sorsogon, together with his team on board a KM450 military truck were on their way back to their headquarters when the landmine exploded at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Police Supt. Wilson Asueta, PNP Bicol spokesperson, said a landmine exploded while Makalisang's group were negotiating a road in the named barangays on their way back to their camp in Sorsogon City from an Army company detachment in Irosin.

Asueta quoting reports said the landmine, which failed to hit its target, exploded hastily a few meters from where the military truck was approaching.

The report said Makalisang and his men visited an Army camp in Irosin and awarded medals and citations to a number of soldiers there.

Army patrols have been dispatch in the area to track down New People’s Army (NPA) rebels behind the landmine attack. (PNA)

Basic emergency obstetric care centers now in full operation in Albay's rural areas

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 7 (PNA) – The Albay provincial government announced Wednesday that the P27.8-million Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEmONC) centers of the province are now in full operation.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said that BEmONC is a project of the Department of Health (DOH) supported by the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para Desarollo (AECID).

“Primarily, the facility with complete equipment will provide services to women and children specially for those pregnant as well as lactating mothers,” he said.

“The goal of the facility is to help reduce or eradicate maternal and child mortality rate,” Salceda said.

According to the governor, BEmONC is not limited as a birthing home as it will also provide pregnant mothers with adequate and affordable basic emergency obstetric and newborn care, and encourage pregnant women deliver their babies in health centers and hospitals.

Birth delivery outside a health facility is commonly practiced, especially in far-flung areas.

All five of the major causes of maternal mortality – hemorrhage, sepsis, unsafe abortion, hypertensive disorders and obstructed labor – can be treated at a well-staffed, well-equipped health facility.

“In such settings, many newborns who might otherwise die can also be saved,” Salceda said.

Only the province of Albay has been given equipment and ambulances to be deployed in various BEMOnC.

The nine areas covered by the P27.8-million BEMOnC project are Tiwi, Oas, Jovellar, Bacacay, Libon, Manito, Sto. Domingo, Ligao City and Polangui municipalities.

Another P17 million pesos has been allocated and approved by the AECID for the second batch of BEMOnC construction in five areas of Albay. (PNA)

Camarines Norte farmers get cash aid to produce hybrid rice

DAET, Camarines Norte, Sept. 7 (PNA) – Several farmers in Camarines Norte have been granted loans whose proceeds would be used for the intensive farming of hybrid rice program being pursued by the provincial government and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Anita Borero, hybrid rice coordinator of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg,) on Wednesday said a total amount of P145,640 was released to 10 farmers in Labo and Mercedes, the two municipalities of the province considered as the local rice granary.

The amount, made available through the support of the Focus Food Production Assistance to Vulnerable Sector of the European Union (EU- FFPAVS) being implemented in the province by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), was used to purchase fertilizers and other farm inputs, Borero said.

Apart from the farm inputs and technical assistance, the DA is also providing free crop insurance for hybrid rice through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) while those using certified seeds are given P600 in production subsidy, she said.

The province, she said had been into hybrid rice production in the past 10 years which the DA, EU-FFPAVS and SEARCA have been supporting all those years. “Through this program, we were able to increase the local production of rice by 25 percent.”

Last year, Borero said, the program conducted several training sessions assisted with resource persons by the SEARCA on hybrid rice production for 240 farmers from all over the province and those who have undergone the trainings are now using their knowledge acquired in the modernization of their farming methods for hybrid rice production.

Meanwhile, in this capital town, municipal agriculturist Edna Aguila said the SEARCA had granted an amount of P1.7 million for the upgrading of a communal irrigation system in Barangay Mambalite as part of the EU-FFPAVS infrastructural support to the production not only of hybrid rice variety using certified seeds.

These grants, she said are part of the P193-million earmarked by the EU for its food production assistance program being carried out in Camarines Norte and five other vulnerable provinces in the country and aimed at reducing any adverse impact of climate change on poor communities. (PNA)

NIA bares P1.03-B irrigation budget for Bicol in 2012

NAGA CITY, Sept. 7 (PNA) - The regional office of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) here has allocated P1.030 billion for the construction, repair and restoration of new and existing irrigation systems in the six Bicol provinces in the 2012 national budget.

This is contrary to reports coming from the Regional Development Council 5 (RDC 5) that there are no funds next year for irrigation development of the region.

NIA Bicol Regional Director William Ragodon said his office originally proposed some P1.22 billion for various irrigation projects in the Bicol region for inclusion in the P30-billion overall budget of NIA under the 2012 national budget.

Ragodon said the listing of projects under the proposed P 1.22-billion funds for Bicol region was contained in the 2012 Annual Investment Plan (AIP) it submitted in October 2010 to the regional office of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) through the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“As a matter of fact, on February 25, 2011, RDC 5 issued Resolution No. 9B, series of 2011, which favorably endorsed NIA Bicol’s proposed 2012 budget to Secretary Butch Abad of the Department of Budget and Management,” Ragodon said.

The NIA regional executive made the clarification in reaction to RDC 5 chair Albay Governor Joey Salceda’s expression of dismay during the council’s meeting on September 2 over NIA’s failure to submit its AIP for 2012.

It was learned that NIA, as a Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC), which is under the DA family is not a regular member of the RDC. It is represented by the DA during RDC meetings, thus Ragodon or his representative was not around during the Sept. 2 RDC regular meeting.

The NIA 2012 revised allocation for Bicol, which was already tackled during the budget hearings in the House of Representatives shows that for next year the region has P1.030 billion funds for proposed projects, broken down to P1.003 billion for locally funded projects and P26.634 million for the Participatory Irrigation Development Project, a World Bank-assisted project.

Out of the locally funded projects, two are small reservoir irrigation projects (SRIP), namely: Sibagat SRIP in Minalabac, Camarines Sur and Ibingan SRIP in Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon have a line budget of P46.075 million and P64.505 million, respectively.

The 2012 total allocation for Bicol region will provide irrigation supply to some 3,983 hectares of rainfed rice farms, restore irrigation service to 4,115 hectares and rehabilitate the irrigation structures and facilities in 4,384 hectares of rice lands.

Some 15,000 Bicolano farmers will benefit from these projects. (PNA)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

DSWD opens jobs for Masbate fishermen idled by southwesterly wind

MASBATE CITY, Sept. 6 (PNA) –- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has earmarked P17.8 million for the alternative source of income for the thousands of marginal fishermen in Masbate idled by southwesterly wind or "habagat."

“Habagat” is a seasonal weather phenomenon that makes turbulent and risky for fishing the waters of Ticao and Burias Passes, Asid Gulf, San Bernardino Straits, Masbate Pass and Sibuyan Sea, all main fishing grounds for the about 30,000 small fishermen in the province.

This weather condition prevails around the province from July until the early part of November.

To cushion the impact of further their economic dislocation, DSWD provincial officer Amie Castillo on Tuesday said through the amount allocated, they will employ these impoverished fishermen in the island province under its Cash for Work Program, a livelihood assistance scheme that hires poor, calamity-stricken villagers into community service works.

Under this scheme, Castillo said each participating fisherman is hired for 11 days and paid P225 daily to maintain the cleanliness of public school grounds in the barangay, declog canals, collect household and street garbage, do coastal cleanup activities and plant trees, among other manual community works.

Supported by the Masbate provincial government under Gov. Rizalina Lanete, the Cash for Work Program is part of the a wider emergency response of the Aquino administration for the province’s needy sectors affected by calamities and lingering poverty, Castillo said. (PNA)

Legazpi toddler finishes 21K Eco Trail Run in Bulusan

BULUSAN, Sorsogon, Sept. 06 (PNA) -- An eleven year-old grade six pupil from Legazpi City and the youngest participant in the first 21-kilometer Bulusan Eco Trail Run ran and finished the event over the weekend stunning town villagers of the fourth class municipality in Sorsogon, where Mt. Bulusan is located.

Trisha Reginaldo, a graduating elementary pupil at the Albay Central School in Legazpi, took four hours and 22 minutes to finish the 21-kilometer trail run that traverses rough terrain, river crossing, shorelines and mountain slopes.

Trisha, the second child of Teody Reginaldo, 37, a Music Arts and Physical Education teacher and a Palarong Bicol track and field trainer, said her daughter started interest in running when she was eight.

To test the potential of her daughter, Reginaldo said he allowed her to compete in at least 20 running events including 3- to 5-K runs before the 21-K run in Bulusan where Trisha garnered several medal and citations.

Trisha won in the Milo Marathon in 2008; 1st place in the 3-K Female Category of this year's Magayon Festival Fun Run; and second place in this year's Ibalong Festival 3-K Run for Life.

Trisha is now preparing for this year's National Milo Marathon Competition 5-K Open Category (Elimination round) to be held in Naga City.

“I hope and pray that I be included among the top 10 qualifiers. I really love to run, I give all my best in every competition I joined,” Trisha said.

Trisha told the PNA that in preparation for the Bulusan competition she and her dad practices thrice a week running the eight kilometer stretch of the Legazpi City boulevard from Victory Village to Barangays Dapdap, Puro and Lamba and back.

At Sunday’s Bulusan Eco Trail Run, Fritz Hundig, a native of Gubat, Sorsogon, won the 21-K Male individual category beating 189 participants with a running time of one hour and forty seven minutes, while in the female category Luisa Katerta of Sta Rosa, Laguna bagged 1st place with a running time of two hours and three minutes.

Under the 21-k Team Category, the Legazpi City team led by Susan Jemutai, a Kenyan, together with Ram Lacson of Quezon City and Rolando Anonuevo of Legazpi City won first place beating eight other teams.

Eugene Postrado of Masbate won the 5-K run besting 97 other participants in the category.

Winners of the 21-km team category ran got P50,000 for first prize; P35,000 second prize and P20,000 for 3rd prize. Individual winners got P15,000 for first place, P10,000 for 2nd place and P5,000 for 3rd place.

Runners started their trail run from the gates of the town hall, passing through historical and tourism landmarks including the St. James the Great Belfry, Baluarte de Piedra stone watch tower, Bulusan river, Buyugan waterfalls, centennial Pili farm, San Francisco highlands overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Bulusan Lake, San Roque’s Lakelette ) Saday na Danao, Crystal spring, Nasipit spring and ended back at the town hall.

The eco-trail run dubbed as “Dalaga sa Kadlagan” was a first sport venture of Bulusan Mayor Michael Gussayko in partnership with the Aggrupation of Advocates for Environment Protection (AGAP) Bulusan Inc., the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Philip Bartilet AGAP president said the eco trail run aims to stir awareness on the protection and preservation of our environment specifically the Bulusan volcano National Park (BVNP), and raise fund to finance reforestation project and livelihood activities of volunteers in the preservation of the park

Bartilet said AGAP was given by the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) a P2.1-million fund to finance reforestation project in the 80-hectare denuded portion of the BVNP, and livelihood projects for poor families in the town. (PNA)

Albay, cities of Naga and Ligao named among 30 top performing LGUs for 2010

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 6 (PNA) -- Albay province and the cities of Naga and Ligao in Bicol were among the thirty top performing local government units in the country for 2010 chosen by the Department of Local Government (DILG), a ranking DILG official said Tuesday.

The 30 provinces and cities have been named top performing local government units for 2010 based on their high scores in the latest Local Governance Performance Management System (LGPMS), a web-based, self-assessment tool that measures their performance in key governance areas and provides information on their status in terms of local governance and development.

In an emailed press release, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said LGPMS, which is managed by the DILG’s Bureau of Local Government Supervision, assesses LGUs on administrative, social, economic, and environmental governance, and on fundamentals of good governance which include transparency, participation and financial accountability.

He said the 30 LGUs -– 10 provinces and 20 cities -– got an average overall performance index ranging from 4.6415 to 4.9370, with one as the lowest and five as the highest.

The top 10 high performing provinces according to rank are: Bohol (4.9370); La Union (4.9115); Bulacan (4.8628); Negros Oriental (4.8331); Pangasinan (4.8185); Ilocos Norte (4.8185); Albay (4.8064); Cavite (4.8031); Compostela Valley (4.7812); and Tarlac (4.7773).

Top performing cities in the highly urbanized and independent component cities category are Valenzuela (4.9150); San Juan (4.8875); Puerto Princesa (4.8640); Angeles (4.7410); Davao (4.7380); Naga (4.6940); Zamboanga (4.6865); Iligan (4.6710); Cebu (4.6633); and Taguig (4.6415).

For the component cities category, the top performers were Ligao (4.9240); Laoag (4.9193); San Fernando (4.9177); Vigan (4.8617); Gingoog (4.8568); Cabanatuan (4.8363); Dipolog (4.8113); La Carlota (4.7553); Iriga (4.7522); and Batac (4.7430).

Albay Governor Joey Salceda lauded the DILG for regularly conducting the LGPMS as this would encourage other LGUs to steam up their performance in various aspects of local governance.

Salceda said Albay under his stewardship have develop landmark programs that would spur socio-economic activities in the province.

The programs place Albay in the economic road map that would engage investors, tourist, and traders to be secure in the province as one of the most liveable place across the country.

“Our vision is to become the most liveable province know for good schools good hospitals and good environment,” he said.

Under the program Albay Rising the road map direction would focus on the 5 E’s : Economy, Education, Environment, Equity and Health.

The notable projects of 5 Es include, among others: the Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA), Guicadale Business Platform, National Renewable Energy Program, Barangay Capacity enhancement, 4Ps, Higher Education Contribution Scheme, Education Quality for Albayano (EQUAL), Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme (AHECS), Bicol University and the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital modernization and the Universal PhilHealth coverage.

The province has also embarked on an aggressive program such as Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) operation where pre-emptive disaster measure had been instituted to attain a “ Zero Casualty” goal and the Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) program. (PNA)

DENR donates confiscated six-wheeler truck, 5,000 bd. ft. of lumber to Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 5 (PNA) -- Albay Gov. Joey Salceda hailed over the weekend the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol for donating a confiscated six-wheeler Fuso truck and its cargo consisting of 5,000 board feet of Lauan lumber to the province for disaster risk reduction management purposes.

In simple ceremonies held recently at the DENR office in Quezon City, Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje and regional executive director for Bicol Joselin Marcus Fragada signed a deed donating a confiscated six-wheeler Fuso truck loaded with lumber materials to the 3rd District of Albay.

The donation was accepted by A. Salceda and Albay 3rd District Rep. Fernando Gonzales.

The cargo, consisting of about 5,000 board feet of Lauan lumber of different dimensions, are to be used in the repair of damaged property caused by tropical storm 'Juaning', which hit the area in July of this year.

Salceda said the provincial government of Albay had teamed up with the DENR to reduce and manage disaster risks in this calamity-prone province.

Salceda said the truck would be used by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) for disaster relief, as well as evacuation of families located in identified hazardous areas.

In the same event, both parties also signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the assessment of landslide and flood hazard risks of 18 municipalities in Albay.

The project, entitled “GIS-based Landslide and Vulnerability Assessment of the Province of Albay”, includes the densification of the province’s geohazard map on a scale of 1:10,000 by the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

“The donation, though small in comparison to the magnitude of disasters that face the province, can immediately help in recovery efforts. Meanwhile, the assessment project will be piloted in Albay as a laboratory of disaster preparedness,” said Paje, who also hails from Albay.

The DENR-MGB has completed the geohazard mapping of all municipalities in the country on a 1:50,000 scale.

The Albay project, however, which includes the development of flood and landslide hazard models for the province’s most vulnerable areas, will enable the province to plan for disaster risk reduction down to the barangay level.

The project also covers information dissemination on landslide and flood hazards and the installation of warning systems in highly vulnerable areas.

Salceda expressed gratitude for the donation and the MOA, which he said “respects the dignity of persons… and will reduce risks from climate change and geohazards, especially in our province which experiences a cocktail of disasters.”

The provincial chief executive also said that the maps would be used for response and reconstruction and that to avoid human casualties, all evacuation sites would be cleared by the MGB. (PNA)

Cops, soldiers on pursuit vs NPA rebels in Catanduanes

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 5 (PNA)-- Police and Army troops are tracking down a group of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels that ambushed and hurt at least five policemen, including its Deputy Chief of Police of Caramoran town, over the weekend at Barangay (village) San Jose in Catanduanes, a Philippine National Police officer said Monday.

The rebel attack wounded Police Insp. Rene Bea, Deputy Chief of Police; Police Officers 1 Rene Payunga, Edcel Brutas, Rommel Cardel and William Bagasbas all members of the Caramoran police station.

Police Supt. Wilson Asueta, PNP Bicol spokesman said the rebel attack took place at about 1 a.m. Saturday when a seven-man team aboard a police patrol car while negotiating a road in Barangay San Jose.

The rebels were on ambush position and bearing assault rifles as they fired upon the patrol car, however the policemen were able to retaliate and fired back at the rebels.

The rebels, sensing that reinforcement might soon arrive, withdrew and fled towards neighboring villages.

Asueta said that before the attack, the police patrol team were on their way back to the Caramoran police station after delivering the remains of Nazer Oturbo at their house in Barangay Milaviga, of the same town.

Azueta said Oturbo was a victim of a shooting incident where he was shot dead by Army Private First Class Richard Paran, 20, single a native of Zamboanga Del Sur and a member of the Army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion with a detachment at Barangay Milaviga according to police investigators. (PNA)

DENR says rivers, lakes in Bicol hyacinth-free

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 5 (PNA) – There is no fear that hyacinths or water lilies would clog rivers and lakes in Bicol to cause floods and pollution resulting in fish kills, the Environmental management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office here over the weekend said.

Fernando Quililan, the EMB regional technical director said recent ocular inspections conducted on major rivers and lakes in the region bared no threat of hyacinth overcrowding that may result in overflowing of water during heavy downpour or negative effects that may trigger fish kills.

The inspections were conducted to determine the extent of growth of the fast-multiplying water plant whose overcrowding has been blamed for the massive floods that recently happened in some Mindanao areas and the latest fish kill incidence in Lake Buhi, Camarines Sur, Quililan said.

It can be recalled that during last June’s incessant rainfall, the unceasing blockade of almost eight-hectare water hyacinth triggered the overflowing of 11 rivers covering 10 provinces in Central Mindanao, causing the displacement of hundreds of thousands of families in over 500 barangays.

Quililan said the massive fish kill late last year that plagued Lake Buhi, one of the major inland freshwater wonders of Bicol being home to the World’s Smallest Fish, sinarapan, has been blamed on the influx of water lilies in the area apart from the effects of pollution-causing organic materials such as unconsumed fish feeds and fertilizers, among others.

The overcrowding of water hyacinth, according to the findings of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources contributed to the deterioration of oxygen and suffocation resulting in the fish kill. Today, Quililan said Lake Buhi is already hyacinth-free owing to the massive clean-up drive initiated by the local government.

The Bicol River, another major fresh water body in the region that plays a significant role in the local economy has followed suit according to the regional EMB chief citing the ongoing river revitalization program being initiate by the local government of Naga City where the 15-kilometer tributary occupies a prominent space.

This river, he said is source of irrigation for the city’s expansive rice fields of the lowlands and upland barangays where vegetables and other cash crops thrive and is venue of the annual fluvial procession in honor of Bicolandia’s patroness, Our Lady of Peñafrancia.

When fully revitalized, Quililan said Naga River would cover a wide-range of concerns such as the improvement of livelihood opportunities for local residents, disaster mitigation and promotion of environmental consciousness and tourism. It will enhance the river’s aesthetic and historical value and create alternative water-based transportation.

“We have inspected 12 major rivers and four lakes in the region and no significant presence of water hyacinths was observed. Based on that observation, we are assured that this water-borne plant will not cause floods nor fish kill in those areas,” he added. (PNA)

Masbate DPWH bans smoking inside office compound

SAN JACINTO, Masbate, Sept. 5 (PNA) -– Cigarette smoking is now banned inside offices and within the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) district engineering complex here.

The ban is in compliance with a recent memorandum issued by DPWH Sec. Rogelio Singson in accordance with the guidelines of Republic Act 9211 or the Tabacco Regulations Act of 2003 that affirms the state policy of promoting the right to health of every individual, Elmer Redrico, the chief of the second Masbate engineering district based in this prime town of Ticao Island said on Monday.

It is also in keeping with Civil Service Commission Circular No. 17 that both forbid smoking inside government offices and its vicinities which is one way of promoting good governance, environmentalism, and health and wellness, Redrico said.

RA 9211, Redrico said defines smoking as the act of carrying a lighted cigarette or other tobacco products, whether or not it is being inhale or smoked.

“We started implementing this no-smoking policy last week and everybody here agreed to cooperate towards a perfect compliance even as ours is a government office occupied mostly by engineers, a professional title dominated by machos, thus in the old days, the vice of smoking is considered an expression of machismo,” he said.

But machismo is no longer expressed through smoking these days as instead, the vice is now widely looked at as a sign of disrespect to the rights of others to a healthful environment and convenient workplace, Redrico, himself a non-smoker said.

“Besides, scientific findings have it that cigarette smoking significantly reduces the smoker’s sexual performance apart from the fact that nicotine causes deadly diseases such as cancer, hypertension and strokes not only to smokers but also to non-smokers who may inhale the smoke discharged into the air,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Masbate first engineering district based in Masbate City, the provincial capital is not only implementing the no-smoking policy but also assuring that its officials and employees are devoid of prohibited drugs.

Its chief, Engr. Reynaldo Alcontel over the weekend said that he and all the over 100 officials and rank and file employees under him have undergone last week drug tests and results found no one among them to be using prohibited drugs. These findings have been made part of the medical records for this year of the employees.

The drug tests conducted by drug testing laboratories in the city that accredited by the Department of Health and the Dangerous Drug Board, he said was also in compliance with Singson’s directive of ensuring a drug-free DPWH so that each of its workers is productive and of moral ascendancy to be in government service. (PNA)

Sorsogon reaps awards for rural health programs

SORSOGON CITY, Sept. 5 (PNA) –- Rural health workers and several local government units (LGUs) in Sorsogon province were runaway winners in this year’s Bicol Health Awards by reaping nine major awards for their accomplishments in the efficient and effective delivery of health programs and projects spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH).

The recognition, called the Salud Bicolnon Awards, aims at drawing more support and performance in the delivery of health services in community levels.

The Bulan, Irosin, Matnog and Sta. Magdalena cluster of Sorsogon LGUs bagged the Outstanding Interlocal Health Zone (ILHZ) award while the Gubat District Hospital, in Gubat, Sorsogon topped in the Most Mother-Baby Friendly Initiative category.

The Vicente Peralta Memorial District Hospital in Castilla town, Irosin District Hospital in Irosin, Pantaleon G. Gotladera Memorial Hospital in Bulan, Prieto Diaz Municipal Hospital, Matnog Medicare Community Hospital and the Fernando B. Duran Sr. Memorial Hospital (FBDSMH) in this city were cited as the top implementers in the region of the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

The FBDSMH, formerly known as the Sorsogon Provincial Hospital, also shared the limelight with two other awardees, the Center for Health Office of Legazpi City and Intervida, a non-governmental organization assisting in renal disease prevention, in the Outstanding Kidney Disease Prevention and Control implementer category.

The Sorsogon Provincial Health Office (SPHO), on the other hand, was chosen as the regional best implementer on TB Control Program for Public-Private Mix DOTS, together with the Center for Health Office of Masbate province.

The SPHO was also winner along with Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Naga City in the Invaluable Contribution Commitment to the Success of the Measles Rubella Campaign while in the Taking the Challenge as Treatment Center for Multiple Drug Resistant TB, the sole awardee was the Sorsogon Medical Mission Group Hospital and Health Service Cooperative.

The municipal government of Magallanes on the other hand was given the Regional Red Orchid Award for the passage of an ordinance on anti-smoking. This award was also given to the city government of Ligao and Guinobatan town in Albay.

For the regional Best Performing Barangay Nutrition Barangay Scholar, the Barangay Health Workers of Sta Ana ,Gubat shared the same award with six other awardees.

"We are indeed very happy with the accolade given to the best performing health workers and local government implementers of health services here in our province," Dr. Edgar Garcia, the SPHO chief on Monday said.

"To all the awardees, let's not just think of the awards, let us feel proud and good that we got the honors for doing our best for humanity," Dr. Ferchito Avelino, the DOH assistant regional director said.

Cash incentives reaching as much as P100,000, plaques and trophies were given to the winners. (PNA)

PA to secure P2.1-B road projects in Catanduanes
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 5 (PNA) -– The Philippine Army (PA) will provide security to the implementation of two vital government projects worth some P2.1 billion in the communist rebel-infested island province of Catanduanes, the top military official in Bicol said over the weekend.

The projects, whose actual civil engineering works are set to start early next year, include the P1.5 billion improvement of the Catanduanes Circumferential Road (CCR), funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the P672-million upgrading of a 29.32-kilometer national and secondary roads funded by the national government.

Maj. General Josue Gaverza Jr., commanding officer of the PA’s 9th Infantry Division based in Pili, Camarines Sur, said contractors of these projects had already received extortion demands from the New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the province.

NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) which had been seeking to overthrow the government to establish a Marxist-Leninist state.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is mandated to ensure the security of critical government projects. It is under this mandate that the PA is seeing to it that the implementation of the Catanduanes road projects, which involve huge government and foreign funds, is free from harassment and other form of atrocities by the communist rebels.

He said the 83rd Infantry Battalion of the PA, which is currently based in San Andres, Catanduanes, was tasked to do the job and its commanding officer, Lt.Col. Rodolfo Batang has already been coordinating with the district engineering office of Department of Public Highways (DPWH) in the province and the projects contractors on the security arrangements.

Catanduanes, Gaverza said was one of the six Bicol provinces considered “highly threatened” by NPA atrocities that include extortion victimizing both small and big businesses, farmers and landowners and private contractors implementing government projects.

It is also among the country’s poor provinces being given priority attention by the present administration “so that is it not left behind” as the country moves towards progress and development under the stewardship of Pres. Benigno Aquino III “and we in the AFP will never allow the insurgents to gain foothold against these development initiatives”, he said.

DPWH regional director Danilo Dequito meanwhile said engineers of the consultancy firms that are undertaking the preliminary works like the preparation of the detailed engineering plans have already arrived in Catanduanes and now conducting ocular inspections and documentations of the 64.4-kilometer project site covered by the JBIC-funded project.

These engineers are from the Engineering and Development Corp. of the Philippines (EDCOP), which is doing the consultancy phase of the project in joint venture with the Katahira and Engineers International, Nippon Engineering Consultants Co. Renardet S.A Consulting Engineers, Egis International and Perk Technical Consultants Corp., Dequito said.

The project, which is the second phase of the 204.5-kilometer Catanduanes Circumferential Road Improvement Project (CCRIP), is included in the Arterial Road Links Development Project (ARLDP)- Phase IV funded under a ¥ 79.8-billion (P43.2 billion) loan agreement signed in December 1999 between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the JBIC.

Works on its first phase that covered the 79.8-kilometer section between San Andres and Viga towns passing through Virac, the provincial capital the municipality of Bato was started late in year 2000. It was undertaken by the China Road and Bridges Corp. for a contract amount of P952.6 million but left several portions unfinished.

The phase II is expected to be completed by 2014, the same year that the final phase covering the remaining 60.4 kilometers would be started and done by 2016 to finally end the long wait for the CCRIP completion which is envisioned to strengthen the economic linkage among the 11 municipalities of Catanduanes and promote inter-island development in agriculture, fishery and tourism, Dequito said.

The project on the 29.32-kilometer national road funded by the national government on the other hand whose implementation will also start early in the first quarter of 2012 is to upgrade from gravel to concrete several secondary roads not covered by the CCRIP.

“With this, all national and secondary roads in the province known for its extensive abaca production and still undeveloped tourism destinations will be concrete before President Aquino ends his term in 2016,” he added. (PNA)