Friday, October 28, 2011

Army, TV5 spearhead medical mission, relief operations in Matnog, Sorsogon

SORSOGON CITY, Oct. 28 (PNA) – The Philippine Army (PA) and TV5 along with several other volunteer groups over the week spearheaded a medical mission and relief goods distribution for hundreds of families in Matnog, Sorsogon.

Col. Felix Castro, the commanding officer of the PA’s 903rd Infantry Brigade that operates in the province on Friday said more than 700 families in at least four coastal barangays of the municipality benefited from the humanitarian mission arranged by TV5 Resource Mobilization Officer Chay Dionco in cooperation with the PA and Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).

The Kapisanan ng mga Kababaihan para sa Kaunlaran ng Matnog, Inc. (KABALIKAT), the Matnog municipal government along with its Municipal Health Office (MHO) and Rural Health Units (RHUs) assisted the medical mission which offered free consultations, treatments and medicines to sick residences, Castro said.

Free haircut services were also offered by Army barbers while relief goods provided by the TV5 were distributed to the beneficiaries. A feeding program was also initiated for school children in Grades I to III in the villages’ public schools, the Army commander said.

Mrs. Marie Ubaldo, who represented her husband, town Mayor Emilio Ubaldo in the mission, expressed gratitude to the attention given by the PA, TV5 and PRC to the villages of Matnog, one of the poorest municipalities of Sorsogon province.

Meanwhile, the PNRC said it is intensifying its Pledge 25 and RC 143 campaign being initiated to help victims of dengue not only in the province but elsewhere in the country.

PNRC Sorsogon Chapter manager Salvacion Abotanatin said they have been mobilizing volunteers from local schools and local government units (LGUs) in the campaign’s blood donation program for dengue patients who may need blood transfusion.

“Although dengue cases in the province are not alarming as no outbreak has been reported by the Provincial Health Office (PHO), so far, we are continuously enlisting blood donation volunteers in anticipation of possible needs and to help the PRC national office in its blood stocking program under its Pledge 25 and RC 143 campaign,” Abotanatin said.

PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang had earlier issued a memorandum addressed to all its chapters nationwide calling for the intensification of the campaign in their respective areas of jurisdiction to maintain vigilance against dengue.

Abotanatin said the PNRC is also helping in the information campaign of the Department of Health (DOH) on the prevention of dengue outbreaks like controlling the spread of dengue carrying mosquitoes in the communities.

“We have organized our RC 143 Community Health Teams and Pledge 25 volunteers for these purposes and they are readily on call in emergency cases,” she added.

PNRC national office records, Abotanatin said posted 38,000 dengue cases nationwide from January to July this year with 200 deaths. In Sorsogon province, Abotanatin said only nine dengue cases were recorded during the same period. (PNA)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

'Oplan Undas' launched in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 27 (PNA) -- Security measures are in place after police launched "Oplan Undas", an officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol said Thursday.

Police Senior Supt. Wilson Asueta, PNP Bicol spokesperson, said "Oplan Undas" would ensure that peace and order is maintained in various cemeteries, major roads during the observance of All Saints Day on November 1.

Asueta said aside from existing police units, they would field additional personnel to support public assistance centers in various cemeteries, terminals, ports and highways.

The police assistance center would assist incoming and outgoing passengers in the cities of Naga, Legazpi, and Masbate and in Virac town in Catanduanes.

He said checkpoints would be set up to assist motorists and other visitors from other places to observe the week-long religious observance.

Security checks would be strictly enforced in bus terminals and major seaports across the region, he added.

Asueta said the police would also closely coordinate with the Army with regards to security measures of cell site relay stations and towers in remote villages that have been prone to attacks by the New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas. (PNA)

Anti-tobacco group enjoins LGUs to institutionalize smoke-free Albay measures
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) – Taking a cue from the all-out campaign of the city government here in providing for a healthful environment, a local civil society group working on making Albay a smoke-free territory has enjoined local government units (LGUs) in the province to enact and enforce ordinances that would institutionalize their respective anti-smoking drives.

Albay board member Herbert Borja who heads the Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN) on Wednesday said that on the part of the province’s legislative board, legislation of the Smoke-Free Albay ordinance would be set up for committee hearing as soon as the provincial legal office is through with its review of the proposed ordinance.

Lawyer Rodolfo Bonafe Jr., the provincial legal officer said his appraisal of the proposed ordinance would be completed before the end of this month.

The proposed measure, Borja said is in line with the goal of the Department of Health (DOH) for a smoke free environment, a campaign started in the province by the city government here through its Revised Smoke-Free Ordinance enacted in 2009 which is now being strictly enforced in all public places of the city including government offices, public conveyances, malls and parks.

For this, the city government had won the DOH’s Red Orchid Award twice in a row of two years, the latest of which was this year. The award is being given yearly by the health department in recognition of LGUs’ successful implementations of anti-smoking programs in their localities.

Borja said, the drive for smoke-free province, also includes an appeal to towns and cities in Albay to pass similar ordinances. Except for Tabaco City and the municipality of Daraga, all the 12 other towns and Ligao City were yet to come up with a similar campaign.

In her report to the SFAN over the week, Tabaco City’s councilwoman and chairperson of the Sangguniang Panglunsod’s committee on health Sheina Onrubia said the smoke-free ordinance of her LGU has been approved last week. Daraga town had also passed the same ordinance.

SFAN’s executive secretary Rose Olarte-Orbita said that part of organization’s anti-smoking advocacy is training for its members to equip them with knowledge and capacity in dealing with the implementation of its programs.

“We have 23 members including myself who attended a meeting cum seminar on effective smoke-free implementation conducted by the University of the Philippines’ College of Law Development Foundation (UPCLDF) in Diliman, Quezon City last September 26,” Orbita said.

Such forum provided SFAN with the “teeth” and tools in its smoke-free advocacy and created a venue to discuss effective means in dealing with tobacco industry interference especially in the passage of ordinances by local government units, she said.

UPCLDF founding members and UP Law professors Rowena Daroy Morales and Cyril Alfred Castro discussed important issues on tobacco industry issues on Republic Act 9211, DOH smoke-free model ordinance and other policies, how to deal with tobacco industry interference and the use of UPCLDF tools and materials for effective implementation in the local level.

Both discussed the G7 model on how seven cities in Metro Manila are making inroads in their implementation of tobacco ordinances. G7 stands for the cities of the National Capital Region composed of Quezon, Makati, Manila, Marikina, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Calooocan which spearhead the campaign for smoke-free Philippines.

Participants to the seminar considered the activity as enhancement of smoke free advocacy to LGUs and government offices in implementing tobacco control laws. It will support enforcers raise peoples’ awareness of tobacco related laws and put into effect initiatives for law enforcement.

Pastor Deodato Quintela, the head of the Smoke-Free Legazpi enforcement unit who also attended the seminar said he found the UPCLDF encounter a valuable and helpful experience.

SFAN whose set-up includes membership of government and non-government organizations is led by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda as its honorary chairman. Salceda signed an executive order creating the SFAN in October last year. (PNA)

Authorities form task force to curb illegal fishing in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) - In the wake of a mounting clamor for more government actions toward the protection of Bicol's remaining marine resources, the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) has organized a multi-agency task force to go after illegal fishing activities in the region’s fishing grounds.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office based in Pili, Camarines Sur had been assigned to head the task force whose members were drawn from the regional Philippine National Police (PNP) office at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Maritime Police and the Philippine Army (PA).

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Departments of Justice (DOJ), Interior and Local Government (DILG) and local government units (LGUs) are also members of the task force.

In the organizational meeting conducted here by the RLECC headed by PNP regional director Chief Supt. Cecilio Calleja Jr., it was recalled that nine Bicol-based bishops last September 5 wrote a letter to President Benigno Aquino III appealing for “immediate enforcement of the law against commercial fishing within the coastal waters of Ragay Gulf in Camarines Sur and Burias Pass in Masbate”.

The bishops asked the President to compel and enable marine and coastal resources authorities to apprehend and prosecute commercials fishers who violate the law covering municipal waters, as well as, small fishers who practice illegal fishing, Calleja said.

The President was also asked by the bishops to order the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and BFAR to expedite the formal demarcation of municipal water boundaries as stipulated by the Fishery Code of the Philippines or Republic Act 8550.

Calleja said that the task force will pool together available resources and assets of member agencies of the task force to be able to conduct successful operations against the illegal fishers. “It is now preparing operational plans on how best to totally stop these illegal activities”.

‘With or without that letter sent by the bishops to the President, we are relentless in conducting anti-illegal fishing operations in the region’s territorial waters and we have accomplishments to boast,” the regional police chief said.

Senior Supt. Eduardo Chavez, the PNP regional intelligence chief said that from the period January to September this year, a total of 665 persons were arrested for illegal fishing which resulted in the confiscation of seven commercial fishing vessels, 44 fishing boats, 29 motor boats, nine bancas, 17 compressors, 1,846 kilograms of assorted fish, and the filing of 70 cases. (PNA)

Tanada sees enactment of FOI bill by next year

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) --- Deputy House Speaker and Quezon Representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada III said on Wednesday that the much awaited Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill will be passed into law next year.

Tanada was confident that the FOI bill, once approved by the Senate and House Bicameral Committee, would subsequently be signed by President Benigno Aquino III into law next year.

Tanada, who is also the Liberal Party spokesperson at a press conference here, said Aquino considerws the FOI as an important piece of legislation that he would wanted to be enacted during his term.

He said Aquino, when he was Senator was among the lawmakers who supported the bill.

The Quezon 4th district solon said he was among the principal sponsor of the Freedom of Information Act during the 14th Congress where the bill had been endorsed at the Congress Bicameral Committee for deliberation and approval, but the bill was overtaken by events with the holding of the Presidential and National election on 2010.

Tanada said the bill was one step away from passage, but the House of Representatives did not deliver as its last session day before going on recess for the May 10 elections.

Tanada said he was strongly pushing for the ratification of the bill on the last session day, but the House session was immediately adjourned because of lack of quorum. Only 91 congressmen were present, short of the needed 135 congressmen for a quorum.

During the 14th Congress the lower House failed to ratify the bill, putting to waste all the efforts put in by its advocates who said the bill would allow ordinary citizens access to information of public concern from all branches of government.

In the 15th Congress the FOI bill was set to be approved by the House Committee on Information chaired by Samar Rep. Ben Evardone while in the Senate a Technical Working Group (TWG) was formed to further study salient provision of the bill.

Tanada said one critical provision being studied by both houses was the proposal of the Aquino administration to exempt from the FOI act issues concerning “national security.”

The FOI, once passed, government agencies shall make available to the public for scrutiny, copying and reproduction of all information pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as government research data used as basis for policy development. (PNA)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Legazpi City water supply unsafe for drinking

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) - City Mayor Geraldine Rosal issued a health bulletin on Tuesday advising residents here to refrain from drinking the water supplied by the Legazpi City Water District (LCWD).

She said residents who could not afford to buy from water refilling stations may opt to boil their tap water for not less than 25 minutes.

A study of the University of the Philippines Natural Sciences and Research Institute (UP-NSRI) revealed that the water provided by PhilHydro to the LCWD does not conform with the Philippine National Standard for Drinking Water (PNSDW).

The study showed that the water that flows to household faucets contains high levels of magnesium, hardness (calcium carbonate) and total dissolved solids (TDS).

The presence of magnesium in water enhances the formation of kidney stones when regularly taken, according to Engineer Alain Mape, Provincial Sanitary Office.

PhilHydro, a water facility firm operating in this city, faces possible closure after it was found out by the Department of Health (DOH) to have committed violations in the Sanitation Code of the Philippines.

PhilHydro's business permit was revoked by the city government on recommendation of the DOH, saying that the company failed to comply with the requirements needed to operate a water supply facility.

Nestor Santiago, DOH regional director, said the agency found that PhilHydro committed at least three violations including the failure to secure with the DOH an initial permit to develop a drinking water supply system.

The company after it completed the construction of the water supply system and supplied drinking water to consumers also failed to secure a DOH Operational Permit, Santiago said.

PhilHydro entered an agreement with the LCWD in March 2007 to supply bulk water for a period of 25 years.

A consumers' group, and a non-government organization complained that the water supplied by the LCWD through PHilHydro facility was murky and with foul odor.

Last June, the Sangguniang Panglunsod served a notice of the violation and PhilHydro was given 60 days but failed to comply with the DOH requirements until its deadline expired on Sunday.

Rosal said Rolando Mangulabnan, PhilHydro chief operating officer, in responding to the notice instead asked for an extension of six months to meet the requirements to secure for the DOH initial and operational permits.

The city government is just waiting for the final action of the DOH regarding this matter.

PhilHydro with a P500-million investment to operate a Bulk Water supply facility supplies 600,000 cubic meters of potable water monthly to the LCWD which in turn delivers this water to 25,000 households in this city. (PNA)

Friday, October 21, 2011

VP Binay inaugurates typhoon-resistant housing units in Sorsogon
By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY, Oct. 20 (PNA) – Vice President Jejomar Binay Sr. on Wednesday led the inauguration ceremonies for the typhoon-resistant housing units built by the city government for homeless indigent families in a calamity-vulnerable village here.

The housing project is located in Barangay Talisay, one of the city’s villages that usually suffer severe impacts of typhoons and storm surge due to its proximity to Sorsogon Bay.

City Mayor Leovic Dioneda said the housing units inaugurated will also be replicated in other barangays here that are also considered highly vulnerable to natural calamities.

His coming to the city, according to Binay, was part of his role as the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) that implements and oversees the government's housing thrust in line with the standards being instituted under its climate change mitigation and adaptation (CCMA) mechanisms across the country.

“I also wanted to experience for myself the merrymakings of the Sorsogueños as they celebrate Kasanggayahan Festival being held this year in time with the 117th founding anniversary of the province,” said the Vice President who was welcomed by thousands of people including school children who lined up the city’s main street on his arrival Wednesday afternoon.

The children waved colorful flags while chanting “NoyBi” the campaign slogan coined by political campaigners in the 2010 presidential elections that supported then senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for president and Binay for vice-president. The two ran under separate political camps and voters here gave them overwhelming approvals over their respective rivals.

After the inauguration rites, Binay was ushered by Dioneda to the five School Mitigating, Adapting and Resilient to Typhoons (SMART) school buildings, water treatment facility and several other housing units newly constructed by the city government through funding provided by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The Vice President also met with other local chief executives in the province with whom he discussed concerns on instituting quality housing provisions for those who are usually affected by severe weather disturbances, identify relocation areas and provide housing that can withstand adverse effects of the change in weather conditions.

Important issues that include comprehensive land use plan, inventory of lands, housing regulation and land use planning, national drive against professional squatters and squatting syndicates, group housing loan program, community mortgage program and disposition of acquired assets, were also discussed.

Binay stayed overnight in the city and early in the morning of Thursday, he joined hundreds of runners in the five-kilometer Kasanggayahan Fun Run organized by his Bicol-based fraternity brothers in the Alpha Phi Omega.

The Vice President’s two-day stay here was part of the Bicol leg of the Pabahay Caravan, the second to the last of the series of forum in all 17 regions in the country to hasten the shelter program of the government in partnership with local government units (LGUs) being initiated by the HUDCC.

HUDCC regional director for Bicol Cristina Abaño said that the Pabahay Caravan launches the granting of financial support to LGUs so that they will be able to implement their own housing projects. Under Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, LGUs have important roles in pursuing housing programs for their constituents.

Abaño said that the Pabahay Caravan is expected to ease the housing backlog in Bicol which is about 46,000 per year. Based on the HUDCC inventory, the housing backlog in the country is estimated to 3.7 million units. (PNA)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mangrove Planting Activity

CAGRARAY ISLAND, Bacacay, Albay -- The mangrove planting activity initiated by Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists (PNEJ) regional coordinator for Bicol Rhaydz Barcia (with camera), along with elements of the Naval Forces Southern Luzon (Navforsol), Tactical Operation Group of the Philippine Air Force 5 (TOG-PAF5) and local residents plant over 10,000 propagules of mangroves in the island’s coastal areas over the weekend. (PNA photo)

NGP can make Bicol ‘Pili Capital of the Philippines’ — DENR
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 19 (PNA) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office for Bicol based in this city on Wednesday said President Benigno Aquino III’s National Greening Program (NGP) could earn for the region the title “Pili Capital of the Philippines”.

NGP is the flagship environmental program of the Aquino administration that aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of lands across the country until 2016 and according to DENR Regional Executive Director for Bicol Marcus Joselin Fragada, half of this targeted number of trees are fruit-bearings like pili.

Other that fruit trees, Fragada said forest trees identified for planting in the uplands include dipterocarps, narra and other premium and indigenous species, as well as fast growing species such as mahogany, gmelina, bagras, acacia and rubber.

Bamboos and mangrove species are also tapped as reforestation crops particularly in river banks and coastal areas to control soil erosion and as buffer against wave action, he said.

Fragada said Bicol had a total land area of over 1.7 million hectares and 1.2 million hectares of it are considered alienable and disposable. The remaining 541,189 hectares are classified as forest but as of today, only about 20 percent of this area is forested and the rest are denuded owing to destructions caused by illegal logging activities and industrial developments through the years.

Under NGP, he said the DENR which is the lead agency in its implementation targets at least 100,000 hectares to be planted in Bicol during the remaining five years of the program and “perhaps, depending on the availability of planting materials, we can plant at least 10,000 hectares with around two million pili trees across the region”.

Popularly known as the “majestic tree,” pili (Canarium ovatum) is ideal for agro-forestry, as well as an ornamental or lawn tree, along avenues, in parks, subdivisions and golf courses. As an evergreen with an even spread of branches and leaves, the tree is an excellent shade and typhoon windbreaker as it does not shed leaves with the changing for the seasons, Fragada said .

The plant easily adapts to different agro-climatic conditions and being indigenous to Bicol, it thrives in marginal soil conditions, harsh tropical climate and in low and high elevations. It also fits into the agro-ecotourism program of the government because its lush crown provides shelter to wildlife.

To take an active role in the NGP, several farm level stakeholders in the local pili industry, Fragada said have vowed to produce at least a million seedlings starting this year as part of their commitment to the program and at the same time to reinvigorate the industry.

“If Bicol has been able to get the title ‘sili capital’ of the country, it would also become the “Pili Capital of the Philippines’ once this massive pili tree planting inspired by the NGP is done in the region,” he said.

Pili used to be one of the seven major fruits of the country. However, production area is generally sporadic and semi-forestal with existing pili trees, which are natural borne such that land owners in the past take them for granted and cut them indiscriminately to give way to others like coconuts and various annual crops.

It is a promising crop of Bicol which has a great potential for development as a major export crop and like the coconut, pili is a tree of life, with all its parts being useful. The resin (elemi), which is extracted from the bark, is a known export product of the country for many years.

It has both pharmaceutical and industrial uses being ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks.

Rich in micronutrients such as magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, thiamine and niacin, it can be eaten raw or processed as roasted, fixated or sugar-coated and is served in the same way as cashew or almond, or peanuts.

Oil from both kernel and pulp is considered equal if not better to olive oil in quality and is suitable for culinary uses while the pulp also produces pickle, vegetable dishes and edible oil. It also serves as nutritious feeds for cattle and swine. (PNA)

Seaborne lawmen apprehend 3 fishing vessels, 22 crewmen for illegal fishing

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 18 (PNA) - The Naval Forces Southern Luzon (Navforsol) of the Philippine Navy (PN) with jurisdiction over Bicol and Southern Luzon waters has vowed to put an end to illegal-fishing in the area as it reported the apprehension over the week of three fishing vessels and its 22 crewmen while engaged in illegal fishing off the coast of Gumaca, Quezon.

“Illegal fishing is both a crime to our environment because of its destructive results and to our local fishermen who are fishing in an honest way,” Navforsol commander Capt. Abraham Celzo said in a statement here Wednesday.

Towards the end of eradicating illegal activities at sea, Navforsol will continue to collaborate with different stakeholders and agencies for the full implementation of the Fisheries Code of the Philippines, he said.

A report of the PN unit stationed at its detachment in Barangay Rawis here said a joint anti-illegal fishing operation conducted by elements of the Navforsol, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources(BFAR), 85th IB (2ID) of the Philippine Army (PA) and the local police recently resulted in the apprehension of three fishing boats engaged in illegal fishing operation off Gumaca, Quezon.

Apprehended for violation of Sec 90 or use of Active Gears of RA 8550 were M/B Melanie, M/B Excel, and M/B Ramil along with their illegally caught fishes and active gears.

The aggregate market value of the seized fishing boats, active gears, and fish catch is worth P1.1 million. The skippers of the three apprehended vessels together with their 19 crew were turned over to the BFAR-Quezon for proper disposition, the report said.

“The success of this operation is a bold statement of our commitment to finally put illegal-fishing into its end,” Celzo said in the report. (PNA)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Binay: P1.7 trillion needed to solve country’s 3.6M housing backlog

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct.19 (PNA) -- Vice President and housing czar Jejomar Binay said the government needs to infuse P1.7 trillion to address the housing needs of millions of people across the country.

Binay, chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating council (HUDCC), said the big amount would be needed to solve the 3.7 million housing backlog that is currently drawing back the government housing program.

He said the problem on housing backlog still persist as funds available for this sector is still not sufficient to meet the current housing demands.

In Bicol alone, the housing backlog is placed at 320,000 units spread over the six provinces.

Binay told media reporters at a press conference here on Tuesday that his agency is operating on a P60-million budget this year.

When asked how the housing sector contributes to the country’s economic growth, Binay said the housing sector had infuse billions of investment funds that fairly pushed the economy.

He said the sector has also gave its share in jobs generation citing statistics that eighth jobs are created in every housing unit developed.

He said that under President Benigno S. Aquino III's housing program, some P4 billion was spent for the construction of around 21,800 units for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Another P4 billion is earmarked next year for the construction of houses for thousands of homeless military and police p[ersonnel, he said.

Housing development studies are still on the drawing board for the construction of medium rise buildings in Southern Luzon to accommodate 100,000 informal settlers.

Agencies under Binay’s turf are the HUDCC, Housing and Land Use Regulatoy Board (HLURB), Pag-ibig Fund, Social Housing Finance Corp., (SHFC), National Housing Authority (NHA), Home Guaranty Corp. (HGC) and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation.

Binay visited the city for the Oct. 17-18 launching in Bicol of the agency’s Pabahay Caravan, a program that would provide Filipino families a decent and affordable housing.

With the battle cry, “Sa Pabahay Gaganda ang Buhay” Binay said that HUDCC is committed to give Filipino families not just with the infrastructure of a house, but a framework of a home; building not just a neighborhood, but a real harmonious community.

During the caravan, Binay also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between Ligao City and Pag-Ibig Fund to finance the construction of Ligao Socialized Housing project to benefit some 388 families of LGU employees, public school teachers and other government employees.

Binay also awarded Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) to 20 housing beneficiaries from two community associations in Daet, Camarines Norte under the SHFC Community Mortgage Program.

He also distributed TCTs to seven housing loan borrowers who have fully-paid their accounts under the NHMFC Unified Home Lending Program. (PNA)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DOST opens Bicol invention contest
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 18 (PNA)— At least 18 new Bicolano inventions have qualified as entries to this years’ Bicol Regional Invention Contest and Exhibits (BRICE) opened by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) at a posh mall here on Tuesday.

These relevant science and technology inventions, innovations and researches are now on display at the Pacific Mall in this regional government center where the best will be judged as winners on October 20 to qualify in 2011 National Invention Contest and Exhibits (NICE) in Manila next year.

The presentation and recognition of Bicolano winner in the 2010 NICE also highlighted the opening day of exhibition event that features local inventors, makers, designers and creative researchers, and the selection of regional winners, was by

DOST Bicol regional director Tomas Briñas said on the opening day that the regional invention competition would promote the potentials of Bicolano inventions and researches for commercialization.

He said that these inventions and innovations continuously provide answers and solutions to technological demands and requirements by firms, industries, academe and other sectors in the country.

The 18 entries this year will compete in five categories such as Utility Model, Industrial Design, Creative Research or Likha Award and Student Creative Research called Sibol Award for College and High School students. Cash prizes and plaques apart from the honor of representing the region in the 2012 NICE await the winners.

Bicolano 2010 NICE winner was Bicol University (BU), which bagged the first place in the outstanding invention category called Tuklas Award.

The winning entry was the pili depulping machine invented by Engrs. Arnulfo Malinis, Eleanor Balute, Herminigildo Lizano and Dr. Floria Tagarino, all of the same state-run university with main campuses here.

DOST- Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) director Edgar Garcia, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and Legazpi City mayor Geraldine Rosal were guests of honor in the opening rites.

The theme for this year’s BRICE is "Imbensyon at Inobasyon: Kabalikat sa Pag-unlad (Inventions and Innovations: A Partner of Development)” being the focus of the inventions and exhibits and its attached agencies, among them the Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) and Philippine Science High School (PSHS).

The other attached agencies, according to Briñas are the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Bicol Inventors’ Society (BIS) and the Science and Technology consortia of Bicol Consortium for Agriculture Resources Research and Development (BCARRD) and Bicol Consortium for Industry Energy Research and Development (BCIERD).

The ongoing invention exhibits, Briñas said would draw viewers from at least nine higher educational institutions and 10 secondary schools from the Bicol Region that already arranged with the DOST schedules for their coming to the Pacific Mall.

These schools include BU Colleges of Science, Engineering, Agriculture and Forestry and Industrial Technology, Computer Systems Institute, Legazpi Hope Christian School, Aquinas University of Legazpi Science High School, St. Raphael Academy, Legazpi City Science High School, Pag-Asa National High School, Banquerohan National High School, all based here.

From Camarines Sur are the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture in Pili town, Partido State University in Goa and Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges in Nabua.

The Camarines Norte State Colleges in Daet had also arranged for a schedule while the Polangui General Comprehensive High School and BU Polangui Campus both in Polangui, Albay; Tabaco National High School, Tabaco City; Bicol Regional Science High School, Ligao City, Daraga National High School, Daraga, Albay have also done the same, Briñas said. (PNA)

DOLE launches P2.7-M program to enhance abaca craft industry in Catanduanes

BATO, Catanduanes, Oct. 17 (PNA) – A P2.7-million funding has been put up by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its partner agencies to carry out in this major abaca-producing town a project that would boost the abaca craft industry of the locality.

Called the Community Enterprise Development (CED), the project which was launched last week will initially involve 1,000 women, most of them housewives who are members of the Women of the World-Kalipunang mga Pilipina (WOW-KALIPI) that would be trained on handloom weaving.

The husbands of these housewives will at the same be employed for a minimum daily wage to be paid by the DOLE in the abaca planting component of the project using the idle upland areas of the municipality with planting materials to be provided by the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA), DOLE project coordinator Russel Nieves on Monday here said.

Dubbed as “Abacatanduanes” for its focus on abaca weaving, the project would utilize seasoned handloom weavers in the training to be conducted at the training center of the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in the Cabugao School of Handicraft and Cottage Industries (CSHCI) located within the municipality, Nieves said.

DOLE provincial field officer Emma Acuña said that the department has earmarked an amount of P2 million for the project while P700,000 will come from its partner agencies like the municipal and provincial governments, the congressional office of Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of the province’s lone district and the Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC).

Its other government partners are the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), TESDA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the FIDA while from the private sector, the Agricultural and Rural Development for Catanduanes, Inc. (ARDCI), a non-government organization engaged in micro-finance activities is a major partner.

Elated by the project, Mayor Leo Rodriguez here has expressed confidence that “the women of Bato would be able to make it succeed as long as they take their responsibilities seriously and commit themselves to the task”.

Provincial Governor Joseph Cua and Sarmiento assured the agencies and the beneficiary group of their support.

TESDA regional director Conrado Bares on the other hand expressed gratitude to the DOLE for entrusting to his agency the handling of the training of the would-be weavers in the project that he described as the first of its kind in Bicol with the largest number of co-operators.

He assured that the TESDA-CSHCI is ready and very much capable of handling the training as it has a pool of highly skilled handloom weavers to do the job.

Under an agreement signed earlier signed, DOLE will take the lead role in the CED project implementation, provide funds, equipment, raw materials, services and extend assistance in the promotion of the products while the TESDA-CSHCI will provide the venue, facilities, shelter for equipment to be used in the training, skills development and preliminary activities including a product showroom, among others, Bares said.

“We are introducing in the training program new finely designed functional handicrafts that certainly will become an addition to the already wide array of designs now hitting both the domestic and international markets,” he added.

Under the same agreement, according to Acuña, the CSC will also provide venue for the training in abaca weaving and undertake research to determine the project’s impacts while ARDCI will provide microfinancing assistance to augment the working capital of the beneficiaries.

The DTI will handle the promotion and marketing along with several local private firms engaged in the exportation of abaca handloom products, she said.

Acuña said the success of the project will depend on how WOW-KALIPI will handle it as she challenged the group nurture it as it would be the basis for the DOLE in expanding its coverage to the 10 other municipalities of the province which are all abaca producing.

“This project aims to address the lack of employment opportunities in the island province even as it is known to be the biggest supplier of abaca fiber in the international market. We have to get more idle hands involved in the local abaca industry and the development of new products such as handicrafts would help a lot,” she added. (PNA)

Catanduanes to showcase agriculture, eco-tourism assets in foundation anniversary festival

VIRAC, Catanduanes, Oct. 17 (PNA) – This island province with plenty of typhoon experiences to recall will celebrate its 66th foundation anniversary next week through a three-day festival showcasing its agricultural wealth, exotic eco-tourism sites and impressive cultural heritage.

Officially set October 24-26, the celebration called Catandungan Festival, according to the line up of events prepared by its organizers will open with an early morning concelebrated Mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral on October 24 here to be followed by the procession of Our Lady of La Naval to the capitol.

The formal opening program will be held at the Virac Fountain Park to be signaled by the release of ceremonial balloons followed by wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and blessing and inauguration of the provincial tourism office and Museo de Catanduanes at the old capitol ground.

The Catandungan Fair, featuring the “One Town, One Product (OTOP)” of all the 11 municipalities of the province along with tourism, technology and institutional promotions to be spearheaded by the provincial government will open at the Plaza Rizal on the same day in this provincial capitol.

The day will be also be made busy by the inauguration of the Sipi agricultural tramline in Bato town and the civic-military parade, featuring a senior citizens float and the participation of farmers and fisherfolk winds around the town beginning while the Binibining Catandungan pageant night picks the island’s most beautiful girls at the Virac Sports Center.

On the second day, October 25, a bus will take tourists and visitors to an island tour from the capitol grounds, simultaneous with the Walk for the Environment to be participated in by various environmental groups and late in the afternoon, performers from elementary and high schools will vie for cash prizes in the Kalinga sa Kalikasan (Care for the Environment) interschool dance competition.

A jobs fair will also open on the second day at the Virac Sports Center along with the Skills Olympics begins at Plaza Rizal. The much-awaited Padadyaw sa Tinampo is slated in the afternoon with participating towns fielding 12 dancers to sway and leap to the music of “Pantomina Menor” for the honor of being adjudged Best Presenter.

At night, the Kundiman Fiesta at the Virac Fountain Park brings back memories of yesteryears, with competitors in the adult category and youth category singing Bicolano songs live string instrument accompaniment. The night would be spiced up by the scheduled performance of the Libmanan Bamboo Flute.

On the final day, October 26, the downtown here will be awakened by bands playing and marching around major thoroughfares and later of the morning, Sec. Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local government (DILG) will come as main guest at the Ugnayan sa Catandungan dialogue with barangay, municipal and provincial officials at the capitol grounds.

These activities will be followed by the unveiling of a marker in honor of former Congressman Francisco Perfecto, the man behind the proclamation of Catanduanes as an independent province.

The province which is geographically situated at the easternmost part of the Bicol Peninsula, separated from the mainland Bicol by the Maqueda Channel and the Lagonoy Gulf is the first landmass of the Philippine archipelago to kiss the Pacific Ocean, making it directly open to the path of tropical cyclones, thus the monicker, “The Land of the Howling Winds”.

Catanduanes was a sub-province of Ambos Camarines in the early 1900s and later of Albay.

It gained provincial autonomy when Perfecto filed House Bill No. 301 which separated the province from Albay. It was approved on September 26, 1945 and subsequently signed into law by then Pres. Sergio Osmena on October 24, 1945.

In the afternoon, the Festival of Festivals Street Dancing Showdown is expected to gather a large throng of spectators at the fountain park here to witness contingents from participating municipalities depicting the uniqueness of their town through dance in costumes showing touches of abaca.

A top prize of P100,000 awaits the champion contingent while the second and third placers go home with with P75,000 and P50,000 bounties respectively. A fireworks display is also set in the early evening at the same venue.

In the evening of the closing day, outstanding Catandunganos who have made significant contributions to the advancement of their individual callings, public welfare and provincial, regional, national or international development will be recognized in fitting ceremonies at the Virac Sports Center. (PNA)

Monday, October 17, 2011

BAR says rural-based animal industry development can raise local goat population by 80%
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 17 (PNA) - A goat-based Rural Enterprise Development (RED) program can raise by more than 80 percent the domestic goat population and generate more income for the P13.2-billion industry of specialty chevon meat, according to the Bureau of Agruicultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The multi agency-led RED-Innovative Goat Production System (IGPS) has successfully raised goat population in its Phase 2 trial farms of nine farmers association in the municipalities of Bacnotan, San Juan and Bauang in La Union province and Balungao, Baymabang and Bautista in Pangasinan, both in Region I, a BAR statement reaching here Monday said.

With a new breeding scheme, the project has produced superior breeds from the crossing of Philippine Native with Anglo Nubian and Boer breeds resulting in goats’ improved reproductive performance, improved capacity to produce milk and to sustain nutrient needs of their offspring called kids and faster fattening ability that allows for earlier slaughter, it said.

The project has the potential to boost nationally goat inventory, presently at 3.3 million heads, when replicated. It just won the Bureau of Agricultural Research-National Research’s (BAR) first prize for the Development Agriculture category. It empowered 461 farm families or goat entrepreneurs, BAR director Nicomedes Eleazar said.

“Goat raising is considered a rural growth booster. It deserves a top priority to intensify and build up farmers’ living asset. RED also has significantly contributed in encouraging entrepreneurship among small goat farmers,” Eleazar said.

“Goat production is already a successful poverty alleviation program. We just need to upgrade our systems so that it will become truly grounded as an enterprise among small farmers,” he said.

RED which was implemented from November 2009 to May 2011 taught farmers goat health and disease management including deworming that reduces mortality; improved goat housing; improved forage; and food supplementation through legumes, concentrates, vitamins, and urea-molasses multi-nutrient block (UMMB).

UMMB is fed on animals as a regular source of degradable nitrogen. It promotes growth of rumen microbes in ruminants or animals with four-compartment stomach, fed with poor quality forage.

Roundworm deworming alone is estimated to spare farmers from an annual goat loss of P142 million, according to an earlier study of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research which also said that farmers without proper training experienced 60 to 80 percent mortality rate of their herds due to diarrhea, parasites, and pneumonia.

Eleazar said goat production is economically valuable for the Philippines with value rising from P3.3 billion in 2000 to P5.113 billion in 2005. At the increased price of P4,000 per head, the 3.3 million-head inventory is now valued at P13.2 billion. Chevon, the goat meat, is considered a specialty meat served as a delicacy in important occasions.

“There was substantial interest in the sector with new farms being set up, increased importation of stocks and expanding organization of small ruminants nationwide. Goat importation rose about five times from 155 heads in 2001 to 1,330 heads in 2005. Imports come from the US, Australia, and New Zealand,” according to the Livestock Development Council (LDC).

After Phase 1 of RED, goat inventory increased by 65.9 percent. This is from 205 goats increasing to 305 in Pugo; 193 goats rising to 319 in Tubao and 83 up to 109 in Bauang. Does, the female goat, increased from 105 to 120 in Pugo, from 96 to 119in Tubao. Under Phase 2, goat inventory increased by 82.46 percent.

The marketing system put in place by RED has contributed to an improved pricing for farmers. Rather than based on an indiscriminate system such as on a per piece basis, slaughtered goat in the area is now based on live weight per kilo at P120 to P150.

With better goat raising practices and marketing systems, after one year of growth, goats are now sold at a much higher P2,500 to P4,000 per head or an increase of 150 to 167 percent. This was from only P1,000 to P1,500 per head.

The project also generated a total of P4.84 million just from goat manure value used as organic fertilizer. (PNA)

DOLE probes death of child worker in Albay
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct 17 (PNA) – The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is investigating the death of a 14-year old boy who was killed while working as a watchman inside the compound of an industrial firm in Sto. Domingo, Albay.

DOLE regional director Alvin Villamor on Monday identified the victim based on a police report reaching his office as Kyoto Evasco, a 14-year old freshman of the Sto. Domingo National High School (SDNHS) hired by Indoplex Industrial Corp. in Barangay Lidong, Sto. Domingo, seven kilometers north of this city.

Police said Evasco, a resident of the same barangay, was patrolling the industrial compound at around 8 p.m. last October 10 when attacked by suspected thieves who smashed his head with a hard object. He died while being taken to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) here.

“I have organized an investigation team from my office to conduct an in-depth probe on his employment as a watchman of Indoplex. The victim was a minor, thus he should not be hired as a security guard, a job that requires a license, training and more importantly legal age,” Villamor said.

Evasco’s employment could be considered a case of child labor and tasking him to perform risky duties like guarding the firm’s premises at nighttime was an aggravating circumstance especially that it cost him his life, he said.

“The premise of our investigation is confined on the employment aspect of the victim to determine the liability of his employer for employing a minor and assigning him in risky job. If found out to be liable for violating the Labor Code of the Philippines, Indoplex will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” the DOLE regional chief said.

For the moment that the investigations are yet to be completed, “we shall wait before making any conclusion”, he said. (PNA)

Four hurt in NPA rebel attack in Burias Island, Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 17 (PNA) - Two Army soldiers and two militiamen were wounded when New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attacked on Saturday a Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) detachment in Barangay Pasig, Burias Island in Claveria town, Masbate, a Philippine Army (PA) officer said Monday.

Wounded in the attack were Army Corporal Audie Estioco, PFC Albert Borja and militiamen Melchor Monticod and Anastacio Del Rosario all members of the CAFGU detachment in Burias Island, said Army Maj. Angelo Guzman, 9th Infantry Division spokesperson.

At least 50 NPA rebels, the armed wing of the Communist Part of the Philippines (CPP), encircled the CAFGU detachment at around midnight Saturday and fired upon the detachment that led to an hour-long firefight.

Guzman, however, said the troops manning the detachment fought back and defended their grounds, but four of its members sustained injuries in the process.

“Our troops bravely stood their ground. Our wounded soldiers are OK. Despite outnumbered; superiority in firepower, and fortified defenses were the key factors to the successful defense of the detachment,” said Lt. Col. Julian C. Pacatan, commanding officer of the 9th ID’s 9th Infantry Battalion stationed in Milagros, Masbate.

Earlier, soldiers deployed in San Pascual in Burias Island encountered in a hot pursuit operations the communist movement, leading to the death of two rebels and recovery of a cal. 30 heavy machine gun, an M16 rifle, M653 baby Armalite, three cal.38 revolvers, 12 improvised explosive devices and subversive documents. (PNA)

Friday, October 14, 2011

DOST says rapid diagnostic test kits for dengue out in 2012
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct 13 (PNA) – The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD) is developing field-based rapid diagnostic test kits for dengue which the agency considers part of the breakthroughs in its full blown program on the dreaded viral disease.

It will be completed in 2012, PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya announced in a statement released here on Thursday.

The test kits are similar to a dipstick method which changes color once it is dipped in a fluid substance from an infected human. This allows the detection of dengue along with its serotypes at a specific temperature within an hour, Montoya said.

Serotypes are the different strains of dengue and they are referred to as DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4 or simply dengue one up to four, he explained.

Studies are also being done on endemic plants such as the tawa tawa, carica papaya, tanglad, luyang dilaw, ampalaya, oregano, banaba and kamote to identify, characterize and evaluate its effect on the immune system and anti-hemorrhagic benefits to patients inflicted with dengue, Montoya said as he clarified that treatment for dengue will not be available until 2015.

He said the DOST-PCHRD is currently on its continuous program on dengue that is being be done to address any rise in the number of its victims in the future and currently, they are distributing the Ovicidal Larvicidal trap (OL Trap) to pre-selected barangays and to schoolrooms nationwide.

It is at the same time conducting a study with the University of San Carlos in Cebu on the trans-ovarial transmission of the dengue virus from the infected Aedes aegypti mosquito to its offspring.

Another project is the Dengue Early Warning System (DEWS) that pertains to the monitoring and forecasting of any impending dengue outbreaks in a particular region in which, the DOST is partnering with the US-based Colorado State University’s Integrated Vector Control Consortium in setting up a computer software that has the capability to forecast possible dengue outbreaks.

It will be supported by the earlier-developed software called Dengue Decision Support System (DDSS) that enables the prediction of dengue occurrences from barangays up to the regional level based on historical and prospective data from several surveillance instruments such as the OL Trap which measures mosquito density in targeted areas, Montoya said.

Also part of the DEWS project is using Geographic Information System (GIS) that integrates surveillance and environmental factors that affect the number of dengue incidences.

The PCHRD chief said GIS will be used in producing data on mosquito density as well as meteorological data such as precipitation, rainfall, temperature, altitude, vegetation, and elevation. “Through these projects, we will be able to control and evaluate strategies that we are to implement regarding dengue cases,” he explained. (PNA)

Malacañang declares Oct. 26 a special non-working day in Catanduanes

VIRAC, Catanduanes, Oct.13, (PNA) -- In commemoration of the founding day of Catanduanes, Malacañang has declared October 26, 2011 as a special non-working day in the province.

Pursuant to Proclamation No. 256 issued Sept. 20 by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on behalf of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, the Palace stated that it is fitting and proper to declare Oct. 26 as a Special Non-Working Day in Order to give people of Catanduanes the opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion.

The founding day is also in consonance with the Catandungan Festival 2011 which is a whole-month celebration that will officially open on October 24, 2011. (PNA)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Camarines Norte sets P33.8M for disaster management

DAET, Camarines Norte, Oct. 13 (PNA) – The Camarines Norte provincial government has earmarked P33.8 million from its five-percent calamity fund to implement its local disaster management programs.

Formulated by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Management Council (PDRRMC), the program would cover disaster mitigation, prevention, response and recovery activities, Gov. Edgardo Tallado, the PDRRMC chairman, over the week said.

At least P10.2 million of the total amount was allocated for disaster risk reduction and management, mitigation and prevention component of the program.

The program involves the implementation of integrated coastal resources management project and sustainable upland management strategy through integrated social reforestation, the governor said.

The protection of the forest resources of the Abasig-Magogdon-Mananap Natural Biotic Area, a key ecological site that serves as watershed area; provision of protected habitat for rare and endangered wildlife species as well as the installation of disaster risks early warning system are also part of the program component.

Tallado said mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) in the local development plans and decision making processes was allotted P600,000 to include hazard profiling and disaster risk assessment and plan formulation.

For the preparedness and capability enhancement program, he said, an amount of P6 million was allocated to be used for the stockpiling and pre-positioning of resources; information dissemination and public awareness; training, orientation knowledge management of DRR/CCA; and financial assistance to accredited community disaster volunteer organizations.

The biggest bulk of the fund totaling P11.2 million was assigned to quick response operations while P5.7 million was set aside for the recovery and rehabilitation program through relief, medical assistance, sanitation, financial assistance to disaster victims and evacuation management services, Tallado said.

“Ours is a calamity-prone province and our disaster mitigation efforts, zero-casualty initiatives and preparations to lessen its impacts on our people by responding promptly to their needs are well-expressed in this budgetary allocation coming from the province’s Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) as provided under Republic Act 10121,” he said.

The allocation maybe small as it is all the LDRRMF could afford.

The provincial government had several other programs toward DRR-CCA that are imbedded with the tasks of departments like the Provincial Health Office (PHO), Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) and Office of the Provincial Agriculturists (OPA), among others, Tallado said. (PNA)

PDEA nabs No. 2 drug pusher in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 12 (PNA) - Anti-narcotics agents collared over the weekend the No. 2 most wanted drug peddler in Albay, an officer of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Bicol said Wednesday.

The arrest of Ameroding Cadayon alias Oding of barangay Oro Site here boosted the agency campaign versus the illegal drug trade in Albay, said Archie Grande, PDEA Bicol chief.

Grande said the PDEA operatives caught Cadayon in a buy bust operation last Saturday in Barangay Arimbay, this city.

Quoting intelligence report, Grande said Cadayon is one of the main distributors and sellers of illegal drugs in the province.

PDEA operatives carried out a surveillance and eventually laid an anti-drug net operation resulting in the arrest of Cadayon who was caught selling to a PDEA poseur-buyer a plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance commonly known as “shabu” and P500 peso bill as buy-bust money at about 12:05 midnight on Saturday in Barangay Arimbay, this city.

Recovered from the suspect’s possession were two sachets of shabu, a tape-sealed cube containing dried marijuana; the marked P500 bill used as buy-bust money, a fragmentation grenade; P4,400.00 cash in different denominations; a Nokia cellular phone; a Yamaha Mio motorcycle with no plate number and registration paper.

The confiscated shabu and marijuana weighed a total of 21.098 grams.

Appropriate charge was filed against the suspect for violation of Republic Act No. 9165 or “The Comprehensive Drug Act of 2002” and he is presently under detention.

Grande stressed that the active involvement of the concerned citizens has greatly contributed to the arrest of the suspect which will definitely affect the distribution pipeline of illegal drugs in the area.

Over 2,000 passengers stranded in Bicol ports -- RDRRMC

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 12 (PNA) -- At least 2,034 passengers were marooned since Tuesday in various major ports across Bicol after maritime authorities prevented all types of sea vessels to sail as storm warning signal no. 1 was hoisted over Bicol due to Tropical Depression "Ramon", the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) said Wednesday.

The “no sailing” policy also stranded 59 trucks, 20 cars, 51 passenger buses, 15 sea vessels and 15 motor bancas in the ports of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Catanduanes.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Bicol reported that as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, 1,407 or half of the stranded passengers, who were bound for the Visayas, were in the Matnog port in Sorsogon while the rest were stranded in the ports of Tabaco (150), Pioduran (191) all in Albay; Pilar (163), Bulan (25) in Sorsogon; Sasban (920), Pasacao (35) Masbate (30) and Catanduanes with only eight passengers.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Albay PDRRMC chairperson, suspended classes in the elementary and secondary levels in schools in the third district of the province covering the towns of Guinobatan, Jovellar, Oas, Polangui, Pioduran, Libon and Ligao City, saying that these areas are prone to floods and landslides.

Salceda however said that classes in all levels in other areas (1st and 2nd districts) are not suspended. (PNA)

DA releases P1.3M for livelihood projects of poor agricultural households in Camarines Norte

PILI, Camarines Sur, Oct. 12 (PNA) – The regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) here on Wednesday said it recently released over P1.3 million in seed money for livelihood projects of 139 poorest-of-the-poor households in farming and fishing communities in two municipalities of Camarines Norte.

DA regional executive director Jose Dayao said the recipients are all from the municipalities of Talisay and San Lorenzo Ruiz, two of the 12 towns of Camarines Norte identified into the agency’s Agrikultura: Kaagapay ng Bayang Pinoy (AKBay) project.

Under the program, identified poorest of the poor households in the targeted farming and fishing communities were provided interest-free capital to finance income-generating micro-projects in agriculture and fisheries. It is funded by the Japanese Government under the Japan Grant Assistance for the Food Security Project for Underprivileged Farmers (2KR).

Each household was given P10,000 which they will use to establish swine fattening and broiler, vegetable, and crablets production ventures within their respective communities. They will be assisted by the local agriculture and fishery offices in putting up such ventures, Dayao said.

During the recent distribution of the checks to its recipients in the two municipalities, Dayao said Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo Tallado expressed elation over the AKBay project that has placed his province among its beneficiaries as he cited several other projects given by DA to the province like farm-to-market roads and farm inputs.

AKBay is a poverty reduction program intended for the poorest households in the farming and fishing communities in 31 priority provinces. In Bicol, targeted beneficiaries are communities in fourth, fifth and sixth class municipalities of the provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Masbate, the DA regional chief said.

Talisay Mayor Ronnie Magana, on the other hand, called on the beneficiaries to take care of the assistance received from the government be it from the national or local as these are intended to free them from the bondage of poverty.

The funds that would be recovered out of the repayments from the present beneficiaries will be used to assist other households within the barangay where the original recipient is located, he added.

Repayments will be based on agreed schedule and the collection will be managed by the Municipal Agriculture and Fishery Council (MAFC) together with the DA.

Meanwhile, the "Locally Funded Indigenous Crops Program" of the DA being implemented in partnership with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has recently conducted Farmers Training on Karagumoy Planting, Propagation and Processing at the Regional Fisheries Training Center in Tabaco City, Albay.

Karagumoy is identified as companion crop for coconut and the PCA initially distributed 5,000 pieces of planting materials for farmers in the city’s San Miguel Island aimed at generating livelihood opportunities for participants in the training on processing karagumoy for improved color, suppleness and texture.

They were also taught basket weaving out of karagumoy as Dayao said the participants were encouraged to continue to develop their products as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is scouting for local and international markets.

Dayao said weaving of baskets from natural fibers is the answer to reduce the proliferation of plastics that are non-biodegradable. Baskets are "in" nowadays because business establishments and concerned groups are now campaigning for “balik-bayong” to reduce garbage and pollution.

Karagumoy is a wild plant with long, flat leaves traditionally being used as raw materials for mat, baskets and other handicraft manufacturing in the locality. Baskets have great potentials for export because other countries are also conscious of their environment, Dayao added. (PNA)

Naga City prepares for Batang Pinoy sports championship
By Danny O. Calleja

NAGA CITY, Oct. 12 (PNA) –- “They will be here to play their games, we will give them a safe, world-class playground” was how organizers described their preparations for the holding here in December of the Batang Pinoy Sports Championship.

City Mayor John Bongat on Wednesday said the city expects some 1,500 young athletes with ages 13 to 15 coming from all over the country to compete in the championship events in athletics, archery, arnis, badminton, boxing, 3-on-3 basketball, chess, gymnastics, swimming, lawn tennis, table tennis, taekwondo, judo, wrestling and weightlifting.

‘These events will played in different venues within the city that we are now preparing into Olympic standards,” Bongat said.

Former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) cager now PSC Commissioner Joaquin “Chito” Loyzaga who was here to coordinate with Bongat on the preparations said Batang Pinoy, which is a revival of the Philippine Youth Games that went on hiatus for about a decade.

It was last played in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan in 2004.

It is being revived as a grassroots sports development program being spearheaded by the PSC and to boost the country’s search for future national team standouts.

“We expect to discover new talented athletes especially from the sector of out-of-school youth who will represent the country in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China,” Loyzaga said.

Top performing athletes in the December 10 to 13 national events here will automatically qualify to slots in the Philippine Team under the government’s development pool that will undergo training for three years in preparations for the China games, he said.

These athletes will be provided with allowances, meal subsidies, sports equipment and living quarters at the PSC dormitories while undergoing skills and physical trainings, Loyzaga said as he reminded local government units (LGUs) that will handle the selection process in their respective regions to strictly comply with the requirements.

Participating athletes must be Filipino citizens aged between 13 and 15 years old or born between Jan. 1, 1996 and Dec. 31, 1998, accredited by the LGU of their place of residence and first placers in the regional legs of the competition to qualify in the national championship, Loyzaga stressed.

Regional legs have been scheduled in Dumaguete City for the Visayas Leg; Zamboanga for Mindanao; Sta. Cruz, Laguna for the Southern Luzon Leg; Baguio City, Northern Luzon and; Makati City, National Capital Region (NCR) have been scheduled prior to the December 10 to 13 national championships.

The games are sanctioned by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd) headed by Sec. Armin Luistro and the Department of Interior and Local government (DILG) under Sec. Jesse Robredo, the former mayor of this prime Bicol city, Loyzaga said.

Bongat said “we are very particular with the safety and security of these young athletes that is why we are seeing to it that the venue of the events are risk-free, players-friendly and tightly secured”.

The Metro Naga and the provincial offices of the Philippine National Police (PNP) have been directed to provide security by fielding enough number of policemen to man all areas in the city and adjacent sites where these athletes and other members of their delegations would go even off-competition times, the mayor said.

“Major streets leading to the competition venues and all routes at the downtown here will be manned by policemen to manage the flow of traffic and deter possible street crimes that could be perpetrated by undesirable elements against the visitors,” Bongat said.

Hosting the first Batang Pinoy Sports Championship is a great honor as apart from becoming of help to the PSC in sports development of the youth, the city would also be a vehicle in grooming the children into good sportsmen and educating them on the importance of health and healthy life cycle, Bongat added. (PNA)

Volatile condition of Mt. Bulusan baffles Phivolcs
By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY, Oct. 12 (PNA) -– Volcanology experts are studying deeper the condition of Mt. Bulusan as local watchdogs are baffled by its unusual attitude that has become extremely unpredictable.

Crispulo Diolata, resident volcanologist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) based at the Mt. Bulusan Observatory in Barangay Cabid-an here, said the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is fielding a team of experts to conduct more in-depth studies to determine “what really this active volcano wants to prove”.

For the meantime, Diolata said they are maintaining alert level number one over the volcano based on the steaming activities being exhibited by at least two of its seven craters located at its northwestern shoulder fronting this city and the municipalities of Casiguran, Juban and Magallanes. Low and high frequency volcanic tremors are also being constantly monitored.

The alert level means that the volcano remains restive and may erupt anytime although major explosions are not likely to take place given the “non-explosive” character of Mt. Bulusan based on its past eruptions, the first one in 1885, he said.

Nonetheless, Diolata said, under alert level one, human activities are being forbidden within the four-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ) as sudden intense activities dangerous to life may occur.

Mt. Bulusan, which has an elevation of 5,135 feet above sea level, last erupted in May 13 this year. Residents near its foot described the eruption as thunderous rumbling sounds accompanied by a massive discharge of volcanic ash that reached as high as five kilometers.

Heavily affected by the ash fall were 12 barangays in the municipalities of Irosin, Juban and Casiguran, all located within the northwest quadrant of the volcano where 10 high frequency volcanic quakes were also felt before the explosion, Phivolcs records show.

Diolata said it was a phreatic type of eruption, the 12th of the same type since the volcano was declared abnormal following observations of severe volcanic activities over five years ago.

The Phivolcs declared alert level one on March 19, 2006 after it recorded increased seismic unrest that was followed by an explosion in June 8 of the same year. This prompted volcanologists to raise alert level two which means the volcano has erupted although major eruptions of vulcanian or any other explosive types were ruled out to be imminent.

Another eruption took place on April 8, 2007 and on the morning of July 31, a loud explosion described by local residents as bomb-like rocked the volcano. Six months later, on October 4, two episodes of ash explosions followed and after that, series of ash emissions accompanied by mild explosions were recorded until November that year.

After months of less significant activities, the volcano suddenly erupted last February and sent a plume of ash two kilometers high. Volcanologists said that eruption was triggered by the reaction of hot magma with water brought about by a heavy downpour. A lull again occurred until May 13.

Most of the 12 eruptions that took place within the span of more than five years came in near surprise as signs could hardly be monitored or would appear very close to the major activities giving the Phivolcs very limited time to issue warnings. Each eruption occurred after lulls in significant activities lasting within an average of four months.

Diolata said the present condition of Mt. Bulusan is considered the longest running period of abnormality in its recorded history or that of any other active volcanoes in the country and this is the matter that makes it very unpredictable this time.

Bulusan is generally known for its sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions and considered as the fourth most active volcano in the Philippines after Mayon, Taal, and Kanlaon.

Mt. Mayon in Albay, its neighbor separated by only about 70 kilometers does not have the same attitude as well as Taal or Kanlaon and even Mt. Pinatubo as all of these, when calm really rest and when restive, really act up intensely, he explained.

The experts coming to conduct the in-depth study would perhaps find out how Mt. Bulusan gathers pressure to suddenly stage short-duration eruptions within the average of only four months lull or why it cannot arrive at a normal condition within the span of more than five years unlike its past that took it decades to regain restiveness following eruptions, Diolata said. (PNA)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Philippine Army is now ‘darling’ of the barangays
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Oct. 11 (PNA) – It was when the soldiers of the Philippine Army (PA) shifted from guns to shovel as they represented the government in Bicol’s war-torn countryside when local communities came to realize that these men in combat uniforms were actually envoys of goodwill, not of malice.

Indeed, the 7th year of the PA’s 9th Infantry (Spear) Division (IB) of dealing with Bicolanos speaks of fascinating tales of approval as this bunch of soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) carried out the mission of liberating and protecting villagers from the atrocities of the New People’s Army (NPA) and introducing development in insurgency-torn barrios.

In the recent celebration of its foundation anniversary at the Camp Elias Angeles, its headquarters in Barangay San Jose of this provincial capital, Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, the AFP vice-chief of staff commended the troop under its commander Maj. Gen. Josue Gaverza Jr. for successfully engaging his men in numerous community works during the past years.

"Those efforts became instrumental in restoring the trust of the community and eventually their support in various endeavors of the AFP," Mapagu said.

Under the AFP’s Bayanihan project, members of the 9th ID vigorously supported the local government unit’s program on nutrition, environment and rescue operations.

Last week, military officers and personnel from this unit participated in the successful holding of the nationwide tree planting activity spearheaded by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters sa Pilipinas (KBP), in line with the National Greening Program (NGP) pursued by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

Cadet of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) under 9th IB supervision also took part in the activity by planting more than 300 tamarind trees along the camp’s riverside.

Maj. Angelo Guzman, the Army division spokesman said their participation in the tree planting activities aims to show the importance of the reserve component in delivering necessary services to the community.

During the occurrence of typhoons and other calamities, the men and women of the 9th ID’s Disaster Response Operations Team braved the floods to reach risky destinations to rescue villagers trapped by high waters and landslides and deliver relief goods to evacuation centers in far-flung areas. Instead of guns, they carried life saving equipment in rescue operations.

Recently, more than 150 soldiers participated in the blood-letting activity held at the 9th IB headquarters and supervised by medical personnel of the Bicol Medical Center (BMC). The collected blood is intended for dengue patients who may need blood transfusion to survive the dreaded disease that have been plaguing several communities in the region.

“You have done well in enjoining every sector of the government and the civilian communities to become partners in realizing your mission of winning back peace in Bicol. You are making a difference in collective works towards the achievement of lasting peace,” Mapagu told the soldiers.

“The environment you are creating in the region speaks well of the support you are giving to the efforts of the government to bring sustainable development in the countryside before 2016 and onward,” he said.

Indeed, the 9th IB’s community emersion program has been a significant factor in winning back the hearts of the people in rural villages of Bicol, according to Gaverza. (PNA)