Tuesday, February 28, 2012

US Pacific Angel humanitarian mission set in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 28 (PNA) -- Albay Governor Joey Salceda said that his province was chosen as a venue for PHL-US Pacific Angel 12-1, a joint humanitarian program by the US Pacific Command in the Pacific area, on March 5 to 10.

In a press briefing on Monday, Salceda said all preparation are in place for the holding of the Pacific Angel 12-1 in Albay, being one of the globally known province in pursuing an effective disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) and climate change adaptation (CCA) initiative.

He said the humanitarian mission is aimed to improve cooperation between national and local governments, military, international organizations and non-government organizations in responding to disasters.

Albay is one of the most disaster prone areas in the country, it has so many success stories to share on DRRM and CCA, it has also institutionalize civil-military cooperation in disaster preparedness and response.

He said this is the third time that Albay was selected as a venue for this kind of humanitarian mission in four years, citing that similar humanitarian mission was held by the USS Peleliu in 2007, RP-US Balikatan in 2009.

For his part, US Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Black of the Pacific Angel 12-1 said the event is not a combat exercise, but purely humanitarian, civic assistance and capacity building efforts.

Black said some 81 US personnel, composed of medical and engineering team, including two doctors from the Republic of Cambodia Armed Forces and two military observers from Tonga on board the US Air Force C-17 military transport aircraft would arrive at the Legazpi Airport on March 1, this year for the six-day humanitarian mission in Albay.

The humanitarian assistance activities are limited to health services, engineering Civic Action Projects and lectures on DRRM and CCA.

The humanitarian assistance is expected to provide free medical and other health related services to more than 10,000 beneficiaries and repair of four school buildings and public utilities.

Areas covered by the humanitarian mission are: Brgy. Tagas, Binitayan in Daraga; Arandurugan Social Hall in Guinobatan, Municipal Gymnasium in Sto Domingo; Bigaa and Lamba in this city.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army (PA) said security measures are in place to safeguard all participants of the humanitarian activities. (PNA)
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Catanduanes LGU up for typhoon-proof, renewable energy-powered housing
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 27 (PNA) — The provincial government of Catanduanes is putting in place a housing program featuring bad weather-resistant houses powered by renewable energy.

“We are initiating the implementation of the housing project that would provide affordable and safe homes to government employees and Home Development Mutual Fund (PagIbig) members in the province,” Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua told the Philippines News Agency here over the weekend.

Catanduanes is a third class Bicol province that sits at the middle of Philippine Sea and serves as the eastern gateway of typhoons developing within the Pacific Ocean.

The province also sits in an earthquake vulnerable area being along the Philippine Trench, a major fault considered as potential earthquake generator. An earthquake and tsunami hazard map prepared by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) listed 10 of the 11 municipalities of the province as prone to these disasters.

The green technology housing project will be in collaboration with the local government of Virac, the provincial capital as the project site is Barangay Sto. Domingo of this first class municipality.

Under this collaboration, employees of the local government of Virac will also be covered by the program and given slots in the four-hectare housing site, the governor said.

The project will introduce replicable strategies in building technology that provides for housing units capable of withstanding strong typhoons and using green designs and engineering techniques, according to Cua, himself a civil engineer.

As typhoon and earthquake-proof structures, the housing units would be single-detached, two-level duplex and low-cost modular studio-type row houses that can withstand wind speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour and magnitude 8 earthquakes, Cua said.

In green housing technology, he said the project will apply new approaches in renewable energy applications and waste management initiatives for the achievement of ecological integrity in mass housing projects.

It will also pioneer a sustainable home-owner livelihood programs with low cost energy that would be made available through renewable sources such as hydro plants and solar and wind powered electricity generators.

Electricity in the province is so scarce and expensive as its main suppliers are diesel-driven generator sets being operated by the National Power Corporation (NPC) under its Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) that charges exorbitant rates.

The housing project, Cua said will introduce and feature renewable energy such as solar panel for each household unit and off-grid wind and solar power for its water supply pump.

Solid waste disposable, biogas digester or anaerobic buffered reactor (ABR), composting, collection and processing of non-biodegradable waste in materials recovery facility (MRF) and waste water disposal, storm water and brown eater treatment before disposal will also be put in place, he said.

Qualified to avail the program, he said are permanent government employees with at least P3,000 net take home pay after deducting the probable monthly amortization of the housing loan or with at least 40 percent disposable income.

PagIbig members should satisfy eligibility requirements for housing loan application, the governor added. (PNA)
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Inmate killed, two others wounded in Sorsogon jail riot

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 27 (PNA) -- An inmate was stabbed dead while two others were wounded in a jail riot on Sunday evening between the "Sputnik" and the "Bahala na Gang" (BNG) inside the Sorsogon Provincial Jail in Sorsogon City, the Philippine National Police said on Monday.

Rommel Lanuza, a jail “mayor” and a member of the Sputnik Gang was pronounced dead upon arrival at a nearby hospital in Sorsogon City, according to Police Senior Inspector Jerry Cereno, commander of the PNP Community Police Assistance Center (CPAC) 3, in Sorsogon City.

On the other hand, one Ronaldo de Vera and Jerry Habla, also members of the Sputnik Gang, sustained stab wounds in different parts of their bodies.

Initial autopsy report said Lanuza sustained stab wound in his chest that caused his death while Habla in the armpit and de Vera sustained lacerated wounds in the body.

Police said that at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday while the victim with fellow inmates was celebrating his birthday and having a drinking bout, they were suddenly attacked by members of the rival gang BNG, led by a certain Raffy Bolanyo, reportedly armed with improvised knives.

A source who refused to be named also said the group of Lanuza were dancing and singing while a videoke machine was playing at a cell they were occupying, when they were attacked by the BNG.

The riot was controlled immediately by the Special Disorder and Commotion Unit of the Provincial Jail Guard.

Jail records showed that there are 395 inmates that are under the custody of the Sorsogon Provincial Jail awaiting resolution of their cases in various local courts in Sorsogon. (PNA)
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DOLE-Bicol allocated P13M for livelihood programs this year
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 27 (PNA) – The regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here has been allotted an amount of P13 million for the implementation of its employment program through livelihood projects in the region this year.

The disbursement of this amount would be in forms of livelihood grants under the DOLE’s Kabuhayan-Starter Kit (DK-SK) “Trabaho sa Bag” program for impoverished Bicolano families, according to DOLE regional director Nathaniel Lacambra on Monday.

“We have already distributed P854,436.95 of this fund on February 23 which was an amount representing the first quarter allocation for the first batch of the DK-SK grant to several beneficiaries identified by four local government units (LGUs) in the region,” Lacambra said.

The grantees are in the cities of Naga and Sorsogon which received P213,602.54 and P64,056.10, respectively; municipalities of Polangui, Albay, P333,025.64 and Daet, Camarines Norte, 243,252.67, he said.

“We decided to release the amount early to enable the beneficiaries of the program to start early coping up with the difficulties in life they are experiencing. More livelihood opportunities means more jobs and improved quality of work for Bicol,” Lacambra said.

The grant, he said will be a good start for Bicolanos in their quest for livelihood and gainful employment this year.

The DOLE DK-SK project represents the agency’s Kabuhayan (Livelihood) Starter Knowledge Sharing, Inputs Acquisition, Training on Skills (KITS) Acquisition which is a livelihood formation strategy to improve the socio-economic well-being of workers belonging to various sectors in society especially displaced wage-local and overseas workers and their families, Lacambra explained.

Aimed at engaging beneficiaries in sustainable self-employment, the project provides livelihood starter KITS consisting of package of services such as trainings, self-instructional learning materials and business advisories.

Lacambra said the grant also includes livelihood tools and equipment that can be used for easy to learn livelihood undertakings such as starting their own business.

Its priority livelihood projects are simple house-to-house service-oriented skills like massage, plumbing, cosmetology, electrical servicing, welding, native snack preparation, car wash and motorcycle, cellular phone, appliance and upholstery repair, among others.

For displaced overseas workers, the Training-cum-Production scheme of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) is adopted.

The program primarily targets the unemployed out-of-school youths, women, parents of child laborers, Indigenous People (IPs), physically or occupationally disabled, urban poor, elderly persons, landless farmers and fisherfolk and other workers in the informal economy and displaced wage-workers, OFW returnees and their dependents, either individually or as groups.

The package of benefits contains short period training on production skills with entrepreneurship and business management; learning reference materials on production, entrepreneurship and business management skills; livelihood tools, equipment, material and inputs and; continuing business advisory and consultancy,

The beneficiaries are also will be required to enroll themselves in social protection service like Social Security System (SSS) and and Philhealth, Lacambra added. (PNA)
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Alcala to award P22-M assistance to Masbate farmers, fisherfolks
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Feb. 23 (PNA) –- Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will be in Masbate on Friday to turn over agriculture and fisheries projects, farm equipment and other agriculture goods worth over P22 million to farmers and fisherfolks in the island province.

He will also consult and hold dialogue with stakeholders and local government officials and inspect agricultural projects in the province in line with DA's current thrust of continuously and directly providing the needed assistance to empower the country’s agricultural sector.

These activities are in relation to the desire of the DA for the agricultural and fishery sectors and the rural communities to increase their production and income which is aptly expressed in the agency’s battle cry, “Hatid nami'y Diretsong Ayuda nang Sakahan at Pangisdaa'y Guminhawa", DA regional executive director for Bicol Jose Dayao here on Thursday said.

The agricultural facilities, farm equipment and goods that the secretary will award to various farmers groups, irrigators associations, cooperatives and LGUs would include P2 million fund assistance for the construction of two trading posts worth P1M each for the municipalities of Milagros and San Pascual.

Milagros will also have one unit four-wheel drive tractor worth P1.2M, three units hand tractor worth P120,000 each, one flatbed dryer worth P700,000, two palay threshers worth P85,000 each and one corn sheller worth over P99,000, Dayao said.

The Masbate Seed Growers Association will have from the DA secretary a seed cleaner worth P80,000 and three units shallow tube wells worth P74,500 each while 13 units power sprayer with worth over P240,000, nine units power knapsack sprayers worth over P17,000 and 10 units pH meter with total worth of almost P50,000 will given to 13 municipalities.

In addition, Alcala will turn over 11,000 sets of assorted vegetable seeds for backyard planting valued at P410,000 and 48 kilos assorted vegetable seeds for vegetable enhancement project of commercial scale planting.

For the fisherfolk, the DA secretary along with Bureau of fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) assistant director Gil Adora will also award livelihood projects, fishing paraphernalia and other material assistance worth P9.8 million to 18 people's organizations in the province.

The livelihood projects will include abalone production, bangus culture, grouper culture, seaweeds farming, mudcrab culture, sea cucumber ranching, small scale coco fiber production and cassava production and marketing, Dayao said.

For tuna line fishermen, he said 30 set materials assistance will also be given while 21 Masbate local government units (LGUs) will receive two units each of 16-horsepower engines for Bantay Dagat patrol operations.

For Livelihood Techno Demo projects of fisherfolks, Dayao said 10 units of fish cages will be awarded and 10 bottom set gill nets will be raffled to lucky attendees in the agri-stakeholders forum, the DA regional chief said.

Alcala will also lead the ceremonial installation of markers and release of "pawikan" (sea turtles) at Buntod Sand Bar and Reef Marine Sanctuary which is being managed by the city government of Masbate along with the Samahang Mangingisda ng Puro Sinalakay Inc. based in the city.

He will also visit the Fazenda Da Esperanza, a Catholic rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol dependents through value reorientation, community work and productive endeavors by engaging in crop production, dairy production, vegetable production and vermicomposting.

The center is situated in a 240-hectare farm in Bangad, Milagros, Masbate.

Before the end of the day, Alcala have meetings with provincial and city officials led by Masbate Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuason. The three congressional representatives of the province and all the mayors of island’s 20 municipalities are expected to attend the meetings.

The secretary's visit will be capped by an interaction with the local media and a meeting with the officials of the DA regional office and its attached agencies led Dayao, BFAR regional director Dennis del Socorro and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) regional manager William Ragodon. (PNA)
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‘Bicol Express’ joins other Bicolano culinary delights in top food lanes
By Danny O. Calleja

GUINOBATAN, Albay, Feb 22 (PNA) – “Bicol Express” is now available in leading local food lanes and in other parts of the country as well as overseas.

This is not the train trip that used to ply the route between Bicol and Manila but the Bicolano culinary delight that non-Bicolanos in the old days won’t dare to ingest.

Reason? It has spicy mouth-burning taste that pranksters say makes one run as fast as the Bicol Express train to the nearest sink to throw out the stuff or get himself a glass of water to check the “blaze”.

It is a chili-laden menu that most Bicolano folks would cook and eat on a regular basis only to give them more energy and endurance for a whole day.

Others say this dish was developed by Bicolanos to sustain and keep them warm during typhoons that frequently hit the region.

It is cooked in coconut milk, shrimp paste of “balaw” in Bikol language and “alamang” in Tagalog, pork and lots of “siling labuyo” (hot pepper).

Later, as Bicolanos made their presence in other parts of the country due to migration, the delicacy was introduced.

It became widely acceptable as a mouth-watering delight even to non-Bicolanos.

Today, in addition to pili nut candies, Bicol’s signature sweet delicacies, Bicol Express is already a “must-have, take home” item from the region.

Jeil Rillo-Martinez, young enterprising Bicolana who had grown up in a family with a great passion for cooking and has deep attachment to her roots and tradition, has ventured into preparing and selling bottled Bicol Express.

She had made this available first in local food lanes and supermarkets, then in Metro Manila and other key cities of the country.

Through balikbayans, according to the Department of Trade and Industry regional office in Legazpi City, bottled Bicol Express labeled Jeryk produced by Martinez is already reaching other countries.

Aside from the traditional Bicol Express Martinez has added bottled macapuno preserves, cooked dried gabi (taro) leaves and fish sauce to her products which she now sells in big supermarkets in Bicol and Metro Manila.

The DTI and Department of Agriculture has been helping her in promoting and marketing the products in trade fairs while the Department of Science and Technology aided her in developing new innovative Bicol Express-based products like chicken, tuna and beef variants for non-pork eaters or Halal consumers.

With Martinez’s initiative and enterprising spirit, DTI regional director Jocelyn Blanco said Thursday, Bicol express is now available in well known supermarkets.

And it has joined the ranks of regional delicacies which has made their presence felt in the food business lane.

It is also through her that Bicol Express is now catching up with the trends in food processing which brought her into the pack of small Bicol entrepreneurs who are successful in the food processing business using locally available agricultural crops, Blanco said.

Martinez, in an interview her over the week said she is a college graduate who once worked with private companies and even entered government service.

She was working in a bank in Metro Manila when she realized that the city, with its polluted environment and fast-paced life is not the best place to rear her two kids.

So, she went back to her hometown here and finally decided to venture into a business that will not require her to be leaving home especially as her growing kids need special attention and her husband is working overseas.

According to Marinez, preparing Bicol Express is simple and easy.

The pork, shrimp paste, onions and garlic are mildly sautéed in a pan to produce a rather delicious aroma.

All of these are mixed into the coconut milk which will be left simmering until every ingredient is well cooked and tender.

A generous amount of chili is then added.

She said she does not use any preservative.

But she makes sure the bottles and other utensils she uses are properly sterilized to avoid contamination and ensure longer shelf life for the product.

Marinez explained that for six kilos of “balaw”, she uses nine kilos of grated coconut which is equivalent to about 15 nuts to which she adds 1/4 kilos of “siling labuyo” and small amount of pork.

A total of 30 bottles would be filled by three kilos of cooked Bicol Express at 250 grams per bottle.

The selling price of her product ranges from P125 to P140 per bottle.

Pork and chicken variants are priced at P125 per bottle, tuna at P135 and beef at P140.

As with any business ventures, she experienced birth pangs at the start but Martinez said she looked for ways to properly market her products by improving their packaging.

She gave her product a corporate look to make them more attractive.

Today, she is even contemplating to include nutrition fact in the product label which is a requirement for the international market, Matinez added. (PNA)
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Albay bracing up for heavy rains; Gov suspends classes in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 15 (PNA) -- The Albay Povincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) on Wednesday suspended classes in the preschool, elementary and high school levels across the province, as disaster authorities are bracing up for heavy rains spawned by an active Low Pressure Area (LPA) spotted in the Mindanao region.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the suspension of classes is a standard public safety and disaster avoidance measure to secure a zero casualty goal during disaster events.

“Due to the potential negative effects of the thick cloudiness associated with a Low Pressure Area it is estimated that rains with a volome of 10-18mm per hour is expected to affect the province today,” Salceda said.

Upon advice of the Office of Civil Defense-Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (OCD-RDRRMC), classes in preschool, elementary and high schools are suspended until lifted, he said.

Local disaster council in the 15 towns and three cities were likewise advised to be on high alert and to prepare those in low lying and landslide-prone areas for countermeasures including possible evacuation.

Residents were warned not to cross swelling rivers, and artificial pools of water while those living near mountain slopes were advise to take precautionary measures for possible landslides.

Army trucks and other military mobility assets were requested to be prepositioned in the towns of Libon, Oas, Polangui and Ligao City, areas which are prone to floods and landslides. (PNA)
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Salceda bats for building inspection as disaster risk reduction measure

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 15 (PNA) – “How safe and sound are our buildings and houses?” This was the question posed by Albay Governor Joey Salceda as he directed local chief executives to conduct an inspection and assessment of building structures in their respective areas.

In the wake of an earthquake of 6.9 magnitude that recently hit and devastated Negros Oriental, Salceda directed the mayors of 15 towns and three cities to conduct a thorough assessment of all buildings and houses as to their dependability and soundness during an earthquake.

The inspection would determine if building developers and homeowners strictly follow the guidelines stipulated in the National Building Code, Salceda said at the recently held Mayon Summit.

The inspection would also identify buildings that need to be condemned, structures that violated the code and edifice needing repair works.

The data would be submitted to the disaster risk reduction and management plan as a component of the provincial development strategy.

Salceda said that it is very vital that local government units strictly enforce the national building code to ensure that structures built are compliant with the code and provisions under the act are fully carried out by planners, engineers and developers.

The strict compliance with the law would guarantee that a building structure is safe and sound from any disaster event such as earthquake, and typhoons.

He also directed disaster authorities to regularly or on a quarterly basis hold earthquake, fire and tsunami drills so as to make the public aware of what to do in times of quakes, storms and fires.

Albay is located within the “ring of fire” or the Philippine earthquake fault or trench.

As this developed, Senator Francis Escudero recently reiterated his call for a comprehensive review of the National Building Code through Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2843 that seeks the strengthening the state’s existing structural policy.

The Bicolano lawmaker, said that the country had been through major weather disturbances, and structures and constructions in the country did not respond well to its natural impacts.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, said that under SNB 2843, conformity to structural protocols should be forced upon all stakeholders and authorities who violate its enforcement will be meted life sentence.

SBN 2843 directs the Departments of Interior and Local Government and the Public Works and Highways, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to work with all local government units to initiate and conduct a comprehensive inspection of all buildings nationwide before building officials could issue Certificate of Inspection and Clearance in conformity with the by-laws of Presidential Decree 1096 or the National Building Code of the Philippines.

Escudero said it was unfortunate that there had been building permits issued under questionable circumstances saying “these fraudulent issuances have allowed faulty building constructions to the detriment of its occupants and those beside and around it.”

Building authorities who will commit fraud related to the issuance of permits, clearances and certifications shall face life imprisonment, absolute disqualification to hold office and permanent revocation of professional license.(PNA)
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OPAPP grants funds for ex-NPAs’ livelihood projects in Catanduanes By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb 15 (PNA) – The Aquino administration, through the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), has provided P437,000 in grant for various livelihood projects of former communist rebels in Catanduanes.

Paul Escober, OPAPP area manager for Bicol, in a statement here on Wednesday, said the 12 rebel returnees, who were once members of the New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the island province, received the grant last week during turn over rites held inside the headquarters of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 83rd Infantry Battalion in San Andres town.

The fund grant, Escober said, is under the government’s Social Integration Program (SIP) for rebel returnees who have chosen to resume a normal life. The fund came from the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA), a priority government program being undertaken by the OPAPP.

PAMANA is being implemented towards the attainment of economic progress in conflict affected areas (CAAs) all over the country in line with the Aquino administration’s peace agenda geared at ending internal armed conflicts, according to Escober.

PAMANA operates under three pillars of program implementation wherein the province of Catanduanes had qualified in its intentions of building a foundation of peace, establishing resilient communities and addressing regional development.

It also focuses on empowering households and promoting convergent delivery of goods and services to the community, Escober explained.

He identified the recipients as Clarita Frias, Jolito Eugenio, Michael Rodriguez and Joseph Interior, all of Pandan, Catanduanes; Pablo Antonio, Mergilda Tevar and Juanito Lucero, all of Caramoran town; Maria Jane and Almir Español of Viga; Rowell Fernandez of Baras and; Alfredo Base of San Andres.

Frias, Eugenio, Antonio, Interior and Rodriguez received each a uniform amount of P50,000; Base, P45,000; Jane, P40,000; Fernandez and Eugenio, P20,000 each; Lucero and Español, P12,000 each and Tevar, P10,000.

The qualification of these rebel returnees to the livelihood assistance was validated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provincial office and the money received would be used by each recipient in establishing their own small-scale enterprises like backyard piggery, sari-sari stores and buy and sell ventures, according to Escober.

Based on military records, the 12 who have been integrated into the military as Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) volunteers were all former guerrillas belonging to the Nerissa San Juan Command (NSJC), the NPA unit operating in the province with a present force of about 40 armed regulars.

Español, 28, and a native of Albay was the highest ranking among them, being one of the command’s former unit commanders, the records show.

He started his stint with the rebel movement in his home province when he was 16 and in his 3rd year in high school. He was fielded in Catanduanes in 2002 to help in the organizations of rebel mass bases in the area and bringing in to the villagers the NPA message that the corrupt political system is to blame for poverty.

The NPA, which had been in the front line of the armed uprising being waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that is seeking to overthrow the Philippine government to establish a Marxist-Leninist state for over four decades now, set foot in the island only about 15 years ago. (PNA)
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Monday, February 13, 2012

One dead, thousands evacuated due to floods in Albay and Camarines Sur

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 13 (PNA) -- An 18-year-old girl drowned while crossing a swollen spillway in Barangay Monte Calvario, Buhi, Camarines Sur on Sunday afternoon, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the Bicol regionsaid Monday.

Rampaging floodwaters at spill way swept away and killed Lea Alarcio, a native of Sitio Omandao, Monte Calvario village in Buhi town while crossing the spillway at 3 p.m. Sunday at the height of a heavy downpour, according to Raffy Alejandro, OCD regional director and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) chairperson.

Alarcio’s body was recovered at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Rinaga river in Barangay San Pedro, Buhi, reports from the Camarines Sur PDRRMC said.

Jocelyn Pamor, 46, an ABC TV5 crew member and a resident of Cainta, Rizal, suffered multiple abrasions when she was carried by floodwaters while crossing the Cagsawa river in Barangay Busay, Daraga, Albay.

Pamor and 10 other TV5 crew members were covering an event on Sunday at the Cagsawa Ruins, a historical and tourist destination in Albay, in connection with the celebration of the month-long Cagsawa Festival in Daraga town.

The Low Pressure Area (LPA) spotted earlier in Malabalay, Bukidnon and the tail-end of the cold front (TECF) brought moderate to heavy rains in Albay and Camarines Sur on sunday.

The incessant rains spawned flooding in the villages of Busay in Daraga town, Masarawag in Guinobatan, Sugcad and Ilaod in Polangui, Libon, Jovellar, and in this city, all in Albay.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, PDRRMC chairman, ordered the evacuation of 679 families or 3,537 people affected by flooding in Polangui, Jovellar and Libon towns.

Salceda ordered the suspension of pre-school classes on Monday as a disaster-avoidance measure due to the incessant rains.

The governor said initial damage to agriculture was estimated at P8.6 million, affecting 220 hectares of rice land in Albay.

The OCD report said that Sunday’s heavy downpour also triggered the overflowing of rivers in Barangays Baliwag Viejo in Minalabac, Buhi town, and the flooding of Bombon Highway, all in Camarines Sur.

Landslide hit a national road network in Barangay Sugod, Tiwi, Albay, and Barangay Patitinan, Sangay, Camarines Sur.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Bicol issued an advisory to all passenger and cargo vessels and fishermen in all ports in Bicol not to sail due to strong waves at sea. (PNA)
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Rains pelted Albay bringing pockets of floods and landslides

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 13 (PNA) -- Several low-lying areas here were flooded due to heavy to moderate rains in Albay that prompted disaster authorities here to be on high alert for flooding and landslide in mountain slopes, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said.

Report reaching the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said flooding incidences were noted in low lying villages of Busay in Daraga town, Masarawag in Guinobatan town and Maoyod and Tula-tula in this city.

The report said a landslide hit Bargy. Sugod in Tiwi, Albay rendering the national highway impassable to all types of vehicles. The national road links Albay and the Partido area in Camarines Sur.

Salceda issued on Sunday morning an advisory placing the province under alert status following a Philippine Atmospheric and Geophysical and Astronomical Administration (PAGASA) forecasts that Bicol would be affected by the Low Pressure Area (LPA) in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

Jun Dalida, PAGASA southern Luzon bureau director in a phone interview, said widespread cloudiness and moderate to high rains blown away from the center of the LPA would affect the Bicol region.

Salceda advised villagers in low lying areas to take precautions and be alert of possible flooding.

Residents were also advised not to cross flooded waters, swelling rivers, artificial pools of water.

Households living near riverbanks and mountain slopes are to take precautionary measures.

Local disaster councils in the 15 towns and three cities were directed to monitor and disseminate weather bulletins and PDRRRMC advisories to BDRRMCs and to monitor and address situations in their respective jurisdictions.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said that military trucks are being readied for dispatch once the weather situation gets worst.

Raffy Alejandro, OCD regional director and RDRRMC chairperson, said the Maharlika Highway a major road network linking the main Bicol provinces (Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte) to Metro Manila are still passable to all types of vehicles as of press time. (PNA)
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Alcala orders BFAR to curtail illegal fishing in Burias Pass
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Feb. 10 — Burias Pass, a sprawling fishing ground within the municipal waters of at least eight Bicol towns, where thousands of marginal fishermen derive their livelihood, is besieged with massive illegal fishing and Department of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Proceso Alcala wants it stopped at once.

Dennis Del Socorro, the regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) based here on Friday said his office is under firm instruction from the DA secretary into initiating an intensified crack down on illegal fishers and clear away unlawful activities in the Pass.

The Secretary’s instruction was first issued verbally during his consultation meeting with local government officials, fishermen and farmers in Bicol held in Albay and Sorsogon last January 26 and it was reiterated in writing received by the BFAR regional office over the week indicating that he really means business in curtailing illegal fishing in the area, Del Socorro said.

The problem was brought before the agriculture secretary by the local officials in the municipalities of Donsol of Sorsogon, Pioduran in Albay, Balatan, Bula and Pasacao in Camarines and Claveria and San Pascual in Masbate, all towns covering the municipal waters of Burias Pass, he said.

According to reports, superlight, trawl and blast fishing have been rampant in the area depriving marginal fishermen of their only means of livelihood. There are over 10,000 fisherfolk families from these costal municipalities that rely solely on fishing for their daily existence, according to Del Socorro.

Immediately after receiving the first order from Alcala, the BFAR regional chief said his office started coordinating with local officials given that municipal waters are under the operational jurisdiction of local government units (LGUs) and the BFAR’s mandate over these waters is only general supervision on municipal fisheries.

Under this mandate, Del Socorro said, the BFAR, in coordination with LGUs could enforce fishery laws and prosecute offenders. “We have been doing these even without an instruction from our higher office but since this is not only our functions, we greatly rely on LGUs in safeguarding their municipal waters.”

The BFAR had also been working hand in hand with the maritime police of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in enforcing fishery laws particularly Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 that provides for the development, management and conservation of the fisheries and aquatic resources,

There have been several apprehensions and charges filed before local courts against violators caught along Burias Pass. Some were convicted and fined by the courts and some of the cases are pending, he said.

Nonetheless, Del Socorro said, “we are initiating more seaborne patrols along with the maritime police, PN’s Naval District Command and the PSG in this more intensified anti-illegal fishing campaign until we are able to wipe out these illegal activities not only in Burias Pass but all the coastal waters of Bicol”.

The DA through the BFAR is also already addressing the lack of livelihood opportunities of marginal fishermen via the aquasilviculture program, where fish species like grouper, tilapia and mudcrabs are raised in mangrove areas.

Likewise, the DA-BFAR is putting up multi-species hatcheries in Bicol and other parts of the country to provide additional income and employment opportunities for them, Del Socorro said.

In his recent Bicol sortie, Alcala provided over P19 million worth of agricultural and fishery inputs, equipment and livelihood projects, benefiting thousands of farmers, fisherfolk and their respective communities in Albay and Sorsogon.

Funds for the projects were provided under the “Agrikultura: Kaagapay ng Bayang Pinoy (AKBAY)” livelihood program of the DA being implemented under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III.

In his sortie, the DA secretary impressed upon Bicolano farmers, fishermen and local officials that the Aquino administration through the DA is willing to listen and ready to respond and act on the issues and concerns raised by the agricultural sector and all its stakeholders and development partners. (PNA)
LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd/

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

‘Fear campaign’ up vs cholera in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 8 (PNA) – The Sorsogon Provincial Health Office (PHO) has launched a “fear campaign” as it intensified moves to address the alarming cholera cases in the province that has already killed 18 persons and hospitalized 240 others during the last four months.

“Fear campaign” is a scheme that warns off residents in a particular area from all possible sources of the deadly bacterium called Vibrio cholera acquired through ingesting contaminated food or water, according to Dr. Edgar Garcia, the Sorsogon provincial health officer and chief of the Sorsogon Provincial Hospital in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

In the campaign, Garcia said “we see to it that barangay residents are totally prevented from sourcing their drinking or cooking water from open dug well. For those who source their water from deep wells, we impress upon them that they should boil it first before consuming.”

The campaign involves the PHO along with all its Rural Health Units (RHUs) including Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), local government officials. They are under instructions to conduct intensive information dissemination campaigns to warn the public and guide them into vigilance against this killer disease.

“So far, this strategy reinforced by our massive information, education, communication (IEC) campaign towards proper hygiene is gaining positive results as reports received by the PHO on cholera cases from the entire province have been leveling off, meaning no addition to the number of cases earlier reported has been monitored,” he said.

From October last year until January this year, Garcia said 240 diarrhea cases attributed to cholera have been reported in the province and 17 of them died. “There is another one case of death reported late in January but we are still validating it to confirm if it was caused by diarrhea”.

He said 13 of these deaths came from Sorsogon City, the provincial capital and the rest were distributed among its nearby towns of Castilla, Gubat and Bulusan.

These figures, he said are big enough to be considered an outbreak but since the cases were sporadic or not confined within a clustered area, it remains unqualified to be called a provincial level epidemic.

There is one barangay however in Prieto Diaz town where the cases are in a clustered section of the village and “we are still in consultation with the Department of Health (DOH) regional office whether to declare or not an outbreak situation. Residents of this village source their water from an open dug well.”

Almost all these 240 cases that were brought before the attention of the PHO, Garcia said were primarily attributed to the presence of “fecal ecoli” in rivers and streams in some areas due to poor hygiene and wrong toilet habits. “We found this out based on rectal swabs tests on patients including those who died,” he noted.

The prevailing rainy season had a very significant influence to the situation as contaminated water overflowing from rivers and stream pours into open dug wells from where the victims get their water. “I don’t know if it is caused by the climate change but rainy days in the past whose volume of water were greater did not cause much cholera troubles in the province,” he said.

Cholera, Garcia explained is an acute infectious disease characterized by watery diarrhea caused by the Vibrio cholera bacterium. It is the most feared epidemic diarrheal disease because people can die within hours of infection from dehydration due to the loss of water from the body through the bowels.

It spreads when human feces from a person who has the disease seeps into a community water supply. Fruits and vegetables can also be contaminated in areas where crops are fertilized with human feces. Cholera bacteria also live in warm, brackish water and can infect persons who eat raw or undercooked seafood obtained from such waters, he said (PNA)
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Bicol mercy mission send to Guihulngan, Negros Oriental

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 8 (PNA) -- A Mercy Mission composed of water and sanitation (WATSAN), medical and psycho-social teams will be dispatched to Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, the hardest hit area of the killer quake that struck on Monday, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said Wednesday.

The Mercy Mission is a joint undertaking by the OCD, Department of Health (DOH), Armed Forces of the Philippines (Army, Navy Air Force), the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), Raffy Alejandro OCD regional director said.

At a meeting held on Wednesday, Alejandro said the RDRRMC-Albay WATSAN and medical team is composed of 73 medical, sanitary and security personnel, including a water liquefying machine.

The WATSAN team will leave this city at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, on board a Navy boat BRP Gen. Luna at the port of Bulan, Sorsogon and is expected to arrive Guihulngan port Thursday afternoon.

While the medical team will enplane for Damaguete City on Thursday.

The medical team with two doctors and nurses led by Dra. Rose Rempillo of DOH will assist disaster and health authorities in Guihulngan City in providing post disaster health intervention and psycho-social services.

The WATSAN team led by Sanitary Engr. William Sabater of DOH, will operate and distribute water to residents that badly need potable water in the two cities in Negros Oriental.

The water purifying machine can produced 33,000 liters of potable water per hour.

Similar to the overall strategy of Team Albay was patterned to the WATSAN and Medical services interventions in Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City during typhoon Sendong, Isabela, Iloilo during typhoon Frank, and Bagong Silangan, Quezon City when hit by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

The 73-man team will render service for 10 days from February 9 to 18 this year.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, PDRRMC chair, said the mercy mission is in response to the call of President Benigno Aquino and the NDRRMC for LGUs to activate their disaster response and assist other LGUs affected by disaster events of huge impact.

Salceda at the organizational meeting said Guihulngan City with population of 91,358 was the most heavily hit area by the killer quake.

The water system of the city was totally damaged and people there are in dire need of water for their drinking and daily hygiene.

The mercy mission would provide clean, potable water to displaced and affected families, it will also render emergency pre-hospital care and pre-emptive public healthcare given the protracted water supply problems, while a psychosocial care would be given to people traumatized by the earthquake, Salceda said.(PNA)
FFC/LQ/MSA/cbd

Phivolcs to Bulusan geothermal developer: ‘At your own risk’
By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY, Feb 8 (PNA) – “At your own risk”.

This was the warning aired on Wednesday by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) addressed to a private industrial firm eying on the development of a geothermal power facility near the foot of the active Bulusan Volcano.

Crispulo Diolata, the resident volcanologist manning the Phivolc’s Mt. Bulusan Observatory in Barangay Cabid-an here said the volcano’s condition remains abnormal and still under alert level one.

Under this alert level, human activities are discouraged within the four-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ) of the volcano as a life threatening eruption may take place anytime, Diolata explained.

In its bulletin issued on Wednesday, the Phivolcs said “Bulusan Volcano’s status remains at Alert Level 1. Entry into the 4-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) is strictly prohibited due to sudden steam and ash eruptions.

Due to the prevailing wind direction, residents in the northwest and southwest sectors of the volcano are reminded to take precautions against ashfall from sudden eruptions.

Civil aviation authorities must also warn pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ejecta from sudden eruptions may be hazardous to aircraft. If possible, aircraft should avoid airspace west of the volcano as volcanic ash is likely to be dispersed in this direction by prevailing winds.

Furthermore, people living within valleys and along river/stream channels should be vigilant against sediment-laden stream flows and lahars in the event of heavy and prolonged rainfall.”

The Phivolcs is not saying that the developer of the proposed geothermal power project should not go ahead with their planned activities within the area but they should do it at their own risk. Mt. Bulusan eruptions are risky to human lives and may severely damage their equipment, Diolata stressed.

The proposed establishment of the geothermal facility was contracted by the Department of Energy (DOE) with the Summa Kumagai Industries (SKI) that expects to produce some 40 megawatts of geothermal power following a five-year exploration and construction activities that would slash into the Bulusan Volcano Natural Park (BVNP).

BVNP is a 350,000–hectare protected area covered by the municipality of Bulusan and four other adjoining towns sitting near the foot of the volcano. The area is gifted with lush vegetation teeming with exotic flora and fauna.

It serves as home to several endangered species of birds and animals like falcon, monkeys, deer, wild pigs, among other rare ecological properties that contribute to its rich biodiversity.

It is also a watershed area supplying water to thousands of households and irrigating extensive farmlands within the five towns bordering it. It covers the scenic Bulusan Lake Ecological Park, a sprawling virgin forest area that encloses the magnificent Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon province’s main eco-tourism landmark.

BVNP was awarded early last year by the DOE under its Geothermal Resource Energy Service Contract (GRESCO) to the SKI Construction Group Inc., a fully-owned subsidiary of First Philippine Holdings Corporation of the Lopez Group.

Most of the local government units (LGUs) covering the area are opposing the project on ground that it would destroy the ecological wonders of the area that serves a major destination for the growing local tourism industry.

The SKI, on the other hand, said it is determined to pursue the project despite oppositions from the host communities.

The Bulusan Geothermal Energy Project (BGEP) service contract between the DOE and SKI, covers a five-year development arrangement, the first two years for the exploration or pre-development stage and the next three years for the full development stage.

The pre-development stage would involve the conduct of date review, geochemical sampling, geophysical investigations, data evaluation and resource assessment through drilling of exploratory wells down to the earth’s core within the 26,000 portion of the BVNP.

The development stage is for massive constructions, forest clearing and well-drilling activities to put up roads, geothermal plants, power turbines, toxic waste tailing ponds and other installations.

Diolata said the proposed energy project would not affect in anyway the volcano and its natural attitude. “It is the volcano that would affect the project given its abnormal condition that poses danger to the project and the people working in it.”

Mt. Bulusan that stands 5,135 feet in elevation above the ground was declared under abnormal condition in March 19, 2006 after it manifested increased seismic unrest that was followed by an explosion on June 8 of the same year. At least 11 other eruptions took place later and the latest was on May 13, last year. (PNA)
DCT/LAM/LQ/DOC/cbd

Fear campaign’ up vs cholera in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 8 (PNA) – The Sorsogon Provincial Health Office (PHO) has launched a “fear campaign” as it intensified moves to address the alarming cholera cases in the province that has already killed 18 persons and hospitalized 240 others during the last four months.

“Fear campaign” is a scheme that warns off residents in a particular area from all possible sources of the deadly bacterium called Vibrio cholera acquired through ingesting contaminated food or water, according to Dr. Edgar Garcia, the Sorsogon provincial health officer and chief of the Sorsogon Provincial Hospital in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

In the campaign, Garcia said “we see to it that barangay residents are totally prevented from sourcing their drinking or cooking water from open dug well. For those who source their water from deep wells, we impress upon them that they should boil it first before consuming.”

The campaign involves the PHO along with all its Rural Health Units (RHUs) including Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), local government officials. They are under instructions to conduct intensive information dissemination campaigns to warn the public and guide them into vigilance against this killer disease.

“So far, this strategy reinforced by our massive information, education, communication (IEC) campaign towards proper hygiene is gaining positive results as reports received by the PHO on cholera cases from the entire province have been leveling off, meaning no addition to the number of cases earlier reported has been monitored,” he said.

From October last year until January this year, Garcia said 240 diarrhea cases attributed to cholera have been reported in the province and 17 of them died. “There is another one case of death reported late in January but we are still validating it to confirm if it was caused by diarrhea”.

He said 13 of these deaths came from Sorsogon City, the provincial capital and the rest were distributed among its nearby towns of Castilla, Gubat and Bulusan.

These figures, he said are big enough to be considered an outbreak but since the cases were sporadic or not confined within a clustered area, it remains unqualified to be called a provincial level epidemic.

There is one barangay however in Prieto Diaz town where the cases are in a clustered section of the village and “we are still in consultation with the Department of Health (DOH) regional office whether to declare or not an outbreak situation. Residents of this village source their water from an open dug well.”

Almost all these 240 cases that were brought before the attention of the PHO, Garcia said were primarily attributed to the presence of “fecal ecoli” in rivers and streams in some areas due to poor hygiene and wrong toilet habits. “We found this out based on rectal swabs tests on patients including those who died,” he noted.

The prevailing rainy season had a very significant influence to the situation as contaminated water overflowing from rivers and stream pours into open dug wells from where the victims get their water. “I don’t know if it is caused by the climate change but rainy days in the past whose volume of water were greater did not cause much cholera troubles in the province,” he said.

Cholera, Garcia explained is an acute infectious disease characterized by watery diarrhea caused by the Vibrio cholera bacterium. It is the most feared epidemic diarrheal disease because people can die within hours of infection from dehydration due to the loss of water from the body through the bowels.

It spreads when human feces from a person who has the disease seeps into a community water supply. Fruits and vegetables can also be contaminated in areas where crops are fertilized with human feces. Cholera bacteria also live in warm, brackish water and can infect persons who eat raw or undercooked seafood obtained from such waters, he said (PNA)
FFC/LQ/DOC/cbd/

Set 5 of 4Ps implementation covers IPs in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 7 (PNA) – Apart from covering all the other localities in Bicol that were earlier excluded from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) this year had also placed the Indigenous People (IPs) within its targets.

“No one among the poor sectors of Bicol will be left behind now as we are seeing to it this year that all the local government units (LGUs) not covered by the first four sets of 4Ps are reached under Set 5. This will include the IPs,” DSWD regional director Remia Tapispisan said here on Tuesday.

The implementation of Set 4 under the Aquino administration in the region last year has been exceptionally successful as it was able to cover and sustain a total of 140,500 households in 65 of the 99 towns and seven cities of Bicol, the country’s second poorest region listed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Tapispisan said each of these households that complied with the requirements received the cash subsidy allocations under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program of the 4Ps amounting to a maximum of P1,400 monthly and is continuously enjoying such monthly benefit today and until the program is terminated, she said.

Failure to abide by the conditions concerning the health aspect which includes pre- and post-natal care of the newborn and failure to have birth delivery in the presence of a trained health professional is one valid ground to forfeit or deduct a portion of the cash grant to its recipient. Children ages 0-5 years old must also receive regular preventive health check up and vaccines, among others.

CCT which is being implemented by the Aquino administration through the DSWD as an extended version of the 4Ps is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides cash subsidy to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly of children aged 0-14.

The program also helps the government to fulfill the country’s commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) such as to Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, Achieve Universal Primary Education, Promote Gender Equality, Reduce Child Mortality and, Improve Maternal Health.

Starting off with the top 20 poorest provinces based on the 2006 Official Poverty Statistics published by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), municipalities belonging to Set 1 became the recipients of the 4Ps in 2008.

Just a year after, Set 2 municipalities were selected based on the 2003 Small Area Estimates published by NSCB with 61.23 percent poverty incidence cut-off. In 2010, Set 3 reeled off and was based this time on the NSCB’s 2003 Small Area Estimates published with 57.15 percent poverty incidence cut off.

Then last year, Set 4 was implemented. These include next in rank municipalities not included during the previous sets with 36.99 percent poverty incidence cut-off. Under all these first four sets, the total of 140,500 households in Bicol was enlisted.

For the Set 5, Tapispisan said her office is targeting to enlist an additional of 56,000 more households still languishing in poverty in the remaining 41 LGUs including various IPs communities of the region to bring the total number to 199,500 or about 20 percent of its household population based on the 2007 census.

The region’s poverty incidence according to the latest statistics released by the NSCB was at 36 percent.

The DSWD, through the 4Ps or CCT is continuously providing an avenue for Bicol’s marginalized sector including the IPs to break the string of dearth that for decades pinned most of their communities to the vicious cycle of life difficulties. Poverty alleviation is a priority of the Aquino administration, Tapispisan stressed. (PNA)
LAP/LAM/LQ/DOC/cbd/

Chiz calls for review of national building code

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 7 (PNA) --- Senator Francis Escudero on Tuesday reiterated his call for a comprehensive review of the National Building Code through Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2843 that seeks the strengthening the state’s existing structural policy.

Escudero made this call following the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Negros Oriental that claimed the lives of at least 52 people and the vast damage it wreaked to public and private infrastructure.

The Bicolano lawmaker, in an emailed press statement, said that the country had been through major weather disturbances, and structures and constructions in the country did not respond well to its natural impacts.

“There is no more escaping the reality of climate change, earthquakes, flashfloods, landslides and recent tragedies have shown that existing buildings where people thought they could seek refuge did not stand a chance against nature’s wrath; it even claimed lives,” Escudero said.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, said that under SNB 2843, conformity to structural protocols should be forced upon all stakeholders and authorities who violate its enforcement will be meted life sentence.

SBN 2843 directs the Departments of Interior and Local Government and the Public Works and Highways, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to work with all local government units to initiate and conduct a comprehensive inspection of all buildings nationwide before building officials could issue Certificate of Inspection and Clearance in conformity with the by-laws of Presidential Decree 1096 or the National Building Code of the Philippines.

Escudero said it was unfortunate that there had been building permits issued under questionable circumstances saying “these fraudulent issuances have allowed faulty building constructions to the detriment of its occupants and those beside and around it.”

Building authorities who will commit fraud related to the issuance of permits, clearances and certifications shall face life imprisonment, absolute disqualification to hold office and permanent revocation of professional license.

The provisions of building code were created to ensure the state’s responsibility to safeguard its people, the policy responsibility should be anchored on safety and hazard mitigation therefore this should be strictly enforced, rather than openly impeded by its own regulators, Escudero said.(PNA)
LQ/MSA/cbd

Albay LGUs urged to evaluate all building structures
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 7 (PNA) – Albay governor Joey Salceda has urged all local government units in the province to conduct an evaluation of all building structures and houses to determine the soundness of every structure and prevent possible effects during earthquake.

During the Mayon Volcano Forum held here on Tuesday, Salceda said that it is very important that the community are well informed about the risk of earthquake, however, there should be a trained leadership who will guide and secure their constituents for safety.

In the case of earthquake preparedness, assessment is very important to understand the probability and magnitude of some future harm – like effects of earth quake.

Based in the self assessment and appraisal, building and house owners will determine whether their structures are safe from potential damages in case of an earthquake.

Salceda said that a structure is normally considered safe if it does not endanger the lives and well-being of those in or around it. “ A structure may be considered serviceable if it is able to fulfill its operational functions for which it was designed,” he said.

“People should know the earthquake hazards in their respective areas,” Salceda said.

Earthquakes can cause severe damage to buildings with design flaws. Buildings constructed in earthquake zones that aren't properly engineered can collapse or suffer irreparable structural damage. Buildings in earthquake zones ranging in size from single family homes to skyscrapers can be built to withstand earthquakes.

According to Salceda, the Province of Albay has complied with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council’s order to conduct regular/quarterly Earthquake drill. “Earth Quake Drill is to make population aware of the risk and how to respond,” he said.

The province of Albay is within the map of the “ring of fire” or the Philippine trench. On a regular basis the Albay provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) and the Office of Civil Defense are conducting and Earth Quake (EQ) and Tsunami Drills.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum Jr., during the forum also urged LGUs to conduct monitoring and assessment of houses and building. He suggested the utilization of hazard maps as guide for the development of local government annual investment plan.

He said that the Disaster Risk Reduction must be integrated in the Development Plan of a local government unit. (PNA)
RMA/LQ/MDR/cbd

Albay prepares mercy mission to Guihulngan, Negros Oriental

LEGAZPI CITY , Feb. 8 (PNA) -– Albay governor Joey Salceda announced late Tuesday night that a mercy mission has been organized by the provincial government of Albay to provide humanitarian services to the victims of earthquake in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.

Salceda said that Team Albay will be composed of the Office of Civil Defense, Department of Health in Bicol, Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, Military, Navy, Tactical Operation group of Airforce and the 901st Brigade of the Army based here.

The mission is composed of health team and water sanitation hygiene teams. According to the governor, the water filtration machine of Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation will be brought to Guihulngan to provide potable drinking water.

The water filtration machine has the capability to filtrate 33,000 liters (per hour) of drinking water. (PNA)
DCT/LQ/MDR/cbd

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mild quake felt in Albay and Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 6 (PNA) -- An earthquake of intensity 3 jolted this city while an intensity 2 rocked Cabid-an Sorsogon, on Monday morning, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Phivolcs instruments recorded the earthquake at about 11:49 a.m. Monday with a magnitude of 6.9 at the Richter scale with epicenter in Tayasan, Negros Oriental.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist here, said instruments located the earthquake at 9.97 Degrees North, 123.14 degrees east or 5 kms North, 41 degrees West of Tayasan, Negros Oriental, with depth of 010 kms.

The agency said the earthquake was of Tectonic origin, meaning the quake was triggered by the deformation of earth crust.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda issued an advisory to local disaster council in towns and cities along shorelines to be on heightened alert for possible tsunami occurrence.

The tsunami advisory warned residents living in shorelines, river banks and low lying areas to be on alert.

The governor however lifted the tsunami alert advisory after receiving a Phivolcs bulletin and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) after lowered its tsunami alert status. (PNA)
DCT/FFC/LQ/MSA/cbd

Disaster authorities alarmed over the rampant loss of Mayon volcano monitoring equipment

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 06 (PNA) --- Disaster authorities have expressed alarm over the lost and tearing down of several monitoring instruments installed around the slopes, an officer of the Philippine Institute of Volcanolgy and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

The security aspect of the Mayon Volcano Monitoring Networks are among the utmost concerns to be brought out on the Tuesday Mayon Summit, according to Alex Baloloy, volcanologist at the Phivolcs Lignon Hill Observatory here.

Baloloy said 11 monitoring equipment installed at the slopes of Mount Mayon have been either stolen or vandalized for the past seven years.

These equipment are composed of monitoring instruments, batteries, cables housed in a relay station that transmits data to the Phivolcs station here on the current state of Mayon volcano.

Baloloy and Jukes Nuñez of the Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office (APSEMO), in an interview, said that these equipment may be considered as vital installation that need to be secured and taken cared off.

Baloloy said the agency would not be able to accurately interpret the data transmitted by the Mayon Monitoring Networks if these equipment are lost.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRMC) chairperson, is expected to push for a more aggressive security measures to protect Phivolcs equipment installed at the slope of Mayon volcano.

Salceda said that at the Mayon Summit, he would ask disaster authorities to determine if these equipment and instruments would be considered as vital installation.

Once this is determined as vital installation, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army (PA) in close coordination with village officials will now have a reason to initiate measures to protect these equipment.

Salceda said as part of the security aspect he would also ask various village officials with jurisdiction over areas around the slopes of the volcano to be involved in protecting the equipment.

He would also ask villagers to be involved in a sort of a “community ownership” program where these equipment would be turned over to the village officials for security purposes.

The Mayon Summit would also review the sanctions and penalties imposed against offenders.

Police records indicate that since 2004, there were 11 burglary incidents that happened where at least seven batteries and cable wires were lost to thieves in the relay station in the villages of Anoling, Camalig, Masarawag, Guinobatan, Misericordia and San Roque in Sto. Domingo, an upper village in Tabaco City and Stanza, Legazpi City.

The recent burglary incident took place at the slopes of barangay San Roque on January 31, where thieves ransacked the Phivolcs relay station and carted away a 6 SMF truck battery and vandalized by cutting the cable wires that connect the battery to the instruments rendering the relay station unoperational, Baloloy said.

He said the equipment installed at barangay San Roque had recently undergone rehabilitation on January 9 this year after thieves ransacked the station and carted away the batteries last December. (PNA)
DCT/LAM/LQ/MSA/cbd

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Albay identified in 7th UNFPA’s Country Programme
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 2 (PNA) –- The United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA) begins its 7th Country Programme of Assistance to the Government of the Philippines for 2012-2016 and the province of Albay has been identified as one of the areas where the agency would provide support to existing programs.

The support will cover existing programs on maternal health, family planning, prevention of sexually transmitted infection and HIV, adolescent reproductive health and gender equality.

Part of the pre-implementation process of the 7th Country Program (CP), the UNFPA conducted a situational analysis (SITAN) of the reproductive health status of the province of Albay including the current priorities, challenges and needs as reflected in Albay’s policies.

Under the program package, the UNFPA will provide its assistance to advance the reproductive health program of Albay including Capacity Building of Health personnel/providers in municipal/city health centers as well as district hospitals.

The UN program seeks to strengthen institution and systems and leverage partnership rather than emphasize direct service delivery. The program will expand public – private partnerships in order to leverage resources for good practices and provide effective program models.

In the case of Albay, the sustainability of this program is assured because of its existing system and institutions. (PNA)
DCT/LAM/LQ/MDR/cbd

DOST-NRCP officer authors international award-winning paper
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 1 (PNA) -– A division level official of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) has won international recognition for the thesis paper he presented in the recent 20th General Conference of the International Federation of Social Science Organizations (IFSSO).

The paper, “Regenerating the Home Base of the Filipino Internal Migrants through Indigenous Volunteerism” authored by Gerardo Petilla, chief of the administrative and finance division of the NRCP, was adjudged as one of the five best among the 52 presented in the IFSSO which was held at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, Batangas City last November.

NRCP is under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and a statement released here by the Science and Technology Media Service (S&TMS) over the week said the 20th IFSSO themed Social Science Perspective on Human Security was participated in by 269 social science professors and government officials from Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nigeria, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey and the United States.

Petilla represented the Philippines along with NRCP Social Sciences Division Chairperson Prof. Carmencita Aguilar and NRCP Social Science Division Regular Member Dr. Nestor Castro. Incidentally, Dr. Castro was elected as the new president of the IFSSO during the assembly, according to the S&TMS.

In his paper, Petilla discussed internal migration and how it all begins when rural folks start to satisfy their desires, which may be to find a new way of life or to simply experience city lifestyles.

Other rural folks just want to gamble their fate for the cities’ perceived myriad of opportunities and good life, Petilla said.

To address this burgeoning threat in most countryside, Petilla suggested the development of strategy called “indigenous volunteerism”, more popularly called locally as bayanihan or pintakasi.

Indigenous volunteerism, he said in the paper, can be done through continuous or long term action through various interventions, such as education and knowledge sharing, skill and competency development, leadership, good governance, and environmental literacy.

These interventions empower the young and those left behind who serve as the home-base workforce that will sustain the community’s social and economic sides, Petilla stressed.

Movement of Filipinos from rural to urban centers, also called internal migration, is a threat to home-based human security. This is because migrating from the countryside to the city depletes home-based human capabilities and hinders the continuous economic and social development of the community, he explained.

Under his name, Petilla had another well-reviewed paper titled US–China Security Concerns: The Rimland Theory Revisited which was published in 1999. (PNA)
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Bicol gets P5.5-B fund for infra projects - DPWH

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 1 (PNA) - Some P5.5 billion will be spent this year to finance hundreds of infrastructure projects designed to sustain Bicol’s economic growth, a top official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the region said Wednesday.

In line with the government’s thrust to pump prime the country’s economy, the DPWH is gearing up to implement vital infrastructure projects that would pump prime the region's economy, according to Engr. Danilo Dequito, DPWH regional director.

He said the agency is now veering all its efforts toward the implementation of CY 2012 infrastructure projects.

Dequito, at a press conference here, said his office has received its yearly budgetary allotment amounting to P5.575 billion to be used to carry out close to 200 infra projects across the region.

He said “the allotment of P5.575 billion worth of infrastructure projects under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) released in Bicol, is 20 percent or P4.6 billion higher than our last year budget.”

The budgetary allotment would be shared by the various engineering district offices with P2.362 billion funding, followed by the regional office getting P1.376 billion, and the regional lump-sum appropriation with P1.837 billion.

The various district engineering offices would implement a total of 126 infra projects broken down as follows: P323.103 million is earmarked to Albay for 25 projects; P392.893 million to Camarines Norte for 16 projects; P654 million to Camarines Sur for 31 projects; P341.481 million to Catanduanes for 16 projects; P193.078 million to Masbate for 15 projects; and P457.913 million to Sorsogon for 23 projects.

The DPWH Regional Office (RO) will also implement P1.376 billion worth of projects region-wide or those projects beyond the limit of authority granted to DEOs but whose amount does not exceed P150 million per DPWH Department Order No. 55, series of 2010, issued by Secretary Rogelio L. Singson. (PNA)
LAP/LQ/MSA/cbd