Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DA equips agri-extension workers in Bicol with livestock disease control skills
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, July 30 (PNA) -- Agricultural extension workers (AEWs) in Bicol are now equipped with skills that strengthen their capabilities in the implementation of livestock programs particularly in the control of farm animal diseases.

“We have a total of 227 agri-extension workers deployed in all the six provinces, seven cities and 105 municipalities in the region who have recently completed a retooling course in Agri-Pinoy Livestock Program which updated them on the latest trends in livestock production,” DA regional executive director Jose Dayao over the week, said.

The retooling course was undertaken by the DA to enhance the knowledge and skills of these workers on the advocacy, prevention and control of economically important diseases (EIDs) as part of the intensified agricultural productivity initiative of the Aquino administration under the agriculture department’s Agri-Pinoy program, Dayao said.

The course improved their skills on the proper procedures and techniques in handling animal blood and fecal specimen for examination and updated them on existing policies and legal mandates on feeds, drugs, biologics and animal welfare, he said.

It is under the Agri-Pinoy Livestock Program and Economically Important Diseases that this retooling course was held.

AEWs, Dayao said, play an important role in farm productivity as they are in the frontline of the government’s implementation of various programs and projects for the peasant sector that is why the DA is making it sure that they are highly capable of meeting the challenges in the field.

“Being constantly in contact with the farmers, these workers serve as the DA’s main link with the former even as they are directly under local governments being devolved personnel,” he said.

Although under Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, agricultural extension workers were devolved to local government units (LGUs), the DA remains in constant communication with them and continuously updating and training them on new technologies and programs to improve their capabilities, Dayao said.

It is also imperative, according to the DA regional chief that AEWs are updated on the emerging EIDs like hemorrhagic septicemia, rabies, hog cholera, new castle disease and fasciolosis so that they are familiar with these diseases and equipped with know how in its prevention to avoid any outbreak.

Other diseases discussed in the training were surra, foot and mouth disease (FMD) and avian influenza. The AEWs were also updated on the quarantine rules and regulatory programs of the region.

Other topics included precautions in handling affected animals and specimens; collection and handling of specimens for laboratory examination; actual sampling and collection of specimens at the abattoir and hands-on collection of laboratory samples from poultry that is important to ensure accurate test results.

Participants were also provided with the animal health personnel field manual which will serve as reference or practical guide in the monitoring and surveillance in disease control and management.

Although Bicol livestock farms are not confronted with serious problems in livestock diseases, Dayao said it is important that AEWs are trained in handling possible problems to avoid massive impacts should unwelcome occurrences take place.

“We need to be ready to face any eventuality in Bicol’s livestock sector that serves as a big contributor in the region’s agricultural productivity, food sufficiency and income to farmers,” Dayao said adding that the livestock population in the area runs at an average of nearly 18 million yearly.

As of last year, he said the cattle population in the region was estimated at 100,000; carabao, 300,000; goat, 250,000; hog, 1.5 million; and poultry, 15 million.

He said it is not however only on livestock disease prevention and control that AEWs in Bicol are being made to undergo retooling courses but also on other agricultural commodities that ensures them right information and the latest technologies that in turn should be disseminated to farmers. (PNA) CTB/LQ/DOC/cbd/rsm

Masbate’s marine sanctuaries show more signs of stability
By Danny O. Calleja

MASBATE CITY, July 30 (PNA) -- After being adjudged recently as the most resilient marine sanctuaries in Central Philippines, the two underwater coral ridges off the coastline of this city are showing more signs of stability.

The context of local fisheries and how it is affected by disturbances is largely hinged on the resilience of its coral reefs.

Fortunately, Bugsayon and Buntod Reefs here are both showing excellent fighting ability to stay in good shape even under rigorous situations brought about by both man-made and natural disturbances.

On human activities that may render negative effects on the reefs, Tito Velza, the chief of the City Coastal Resources Management Office (CCRMO) over the weekend said, “we have no problem as rules and regulations being imposed by the city government against illegal fishing and other uncalled for undertakings are properly observed”.

"Our fishermen clearly understand the importance of these reefs so they are policing their rank," he added.

On the part of hundreds of tourists coming in daily, Velza said “they are disciplined and cooperative to the preservation efforts we are have laid down like the maintenance of cleanliness of the surroundings, particularly the water and the ban on collecting live corals”.

Apart from the CCRMO, he said two barangay-based people’s organizations (POs) have been assigned to look after the preservation of the marine sanctuaries under the government’s Integrated Coastal Resource Management Program (ICRMP) being implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Under the program, the two organizations-- Pawa Women’s Mangrove Guardians Association Inc. (PWMGA) and Samahang Mangingisda ng Puro-Sinalikway (SAMAPUSI) have been granted with a total amount of P860,000 to be used in coming up with tourism services and in maintaining the natural wonders of the two marine life reservations.

The women’s association looks after the nearby Pawa Mangrove Ecosystem and Wildlife Park, a 300-hectare mangrove plantation which is the city’s biggest site of natural mangrove growth serving as support area to the two marine sanctuaries.

Located in Barangya Pawa, the park offers dramatic scenery along its 1.3-kilometer wooden boardwalk and fascinates bird watchers for its being a perfect place to see kingfishers, herons and other estuarine birds.

SAMAPUSI on the other hand is in charge of providing services to tourists for the Buntod and Bugsayon Reefs, both famous marine life reservations off the coast of this city and being protected and maintained by the local government.

Buntod is 200-hectare marine reservation that ranks second as Philippines’ most resilient coral reef area declared by marine biologists from the Siliman University’s Angelo King Center for Research and Environment Management (SU-AKCREM) following an evaluation conducted on 18 marine life sanctuaries in Central Philippines late last year.

It is the first marine sanctuary established by the city government over five years ago to preserve its hard and soft coral covers that highlight its majestic underwater sceneries that is attracting huge arrivals of tourists.

Busayon Reef which was ranked by the study as the No. 1 most resilient sanctuary is a 50-hectare reservation within Masbate Pass, one of the various fishing grounds making Masbate province among a top contributor to the country’s fishing industry. It is located at the northern side of this city and separates the province’s mainland from Ticao Island.

Based on the SU-AKCREM study, the water of Masbate Pass is colder, more nutrient-rich and calmer, making the Bugsayon sanctuary most livable for fishes and other marine species compared to the other sanctuaries

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

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

"As one sign of Bugsayon and Buntod getting more stable in terms of underwater development, we now have in these two reefs thriving conch shells locally known as budyong, a widely acknowledged predator of thorns sea star that feed on coral reefs," Velza said.

Another sign, he said is that the sanctuaries are now home to a tremendous volume of parrot and surgeon fishes owing to its strict protection from fishing that has turned 40 percent so far of the vast area covered with live corals also covered heavily with brown algae called sargassum.

Parrotfish and surgeonfish are both important fishery species that feed on these algae.

The advantage of Buntod and Bugsayon sanctuaries according to Velza is its proximity to the deep waters of Masbate Pass that addresses the deterrent to growing fishing effort commonly occurring in shallow municipal waters.

A variety of marine life forms inhabit the sanctuary including green sea turtles, hard and soft corals and target species like coral breams, parrotfish, surgeonfish, snappers and goat fish, among others.

Covering a shoal with an approximate depth of 10 meters with gradual slope of up to 30 feet, Buntod sanctuary that occupies 52 hectares of core zone and nearly 150 hectares of buffer zone is located at 12.37142 North and 123.65034 East on the western portion of Barangay Nursery here. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd//rsm

DENR-Bicol wants Albay fisherman behind death of sea turtle jailed

LEGAZPI CITY, July 30 (PNA) -– The regional office for Bicol of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is seriously pursuing the criminal case against a 30-year-old Albay fisherman who was charged in court for the slaughter of a sea turtle he had recently caught from the Albay Gulf.

“We want the suspect convicted and placed behind bars to serve as a lesson to fishermen or anybody else who may have the intention of violating the law that protects endangered marine wildlife,” DENR regional executive director Gilbert Gonzales here on Monday said.

A case for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act was filed by the police before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Sto. Domingo, Albay against Boyeto Orosco of Barangay San Isidro of the same town and the pre-trial of the case was set on September 10.

According to police reports, Orosco was caught by a joint team from the Sto. Domingo Philippine National Police (PNP) municipal station and members of the Bantay-Dagat while slaughtering an adult green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) he had accidentally caught with his fishing net last July 20.

The turtle allegedly caught and slaughtered by Orosco weighed nearly 100 kilograms and with a carapace measuring about two feet.

Green turtle is a large, weighty sea reptile with a wide, smooth carapace inhabiting tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the world.

Green turtles are exotic animals that weight up to 317.5 kilograms and develop heart-shape carapace that measures up to five feet. They have flippers that resemble paddles which make them powerful and graceful swimmers.

Unlike most sea turtles, adult green turtles are herbivorous, feeding on sea grasses and algae.

Adult females migrate from foraging areas to mainland or island nesting beaches and may travel hundreds or thousands of kilometers each way.

After emerging from the nest, hatchlings swim to offshore areas, where they are believed to live for several years, feeding close to the surface on a variety of pelagic plants and animals.

Green sea turtles thrive in the Albay Gulf and other adjacent waters and islands of Bicol serving as nesting places and Gonzales said the DENR had been intensely campaigning for its protection and conservation being among the marine wildlife species classified as endangered and protected under RA 9147.

When accidentally caught, Gonzales said sea turtles should be released back to the sea alive or carefully taken to the shore and reported to the DENR for proper disposition or treatment when injured before they are released back to the sea with tags attached to their body.

Under the law, the DENR had “jurisdiction over all terrestrial plant and animal species, all turtles and tortoises and wetland species, including but not limited to crocodiles, waterbirds and all amphibians and dugong thriving in the country”.

Incidental capture in fishing gear such as gillnets, trawls, traps and pots, longlines and dredges is a serious ongoing source of sea turtle mortality that also adversely affects the species' recovery.

“We have had various reports of accidental catching of sea turtles in various sea waters of Bicol and all of them have been reported and attended to by local authorities and released back to the sea after proper documentations by the DENR. Orosco however acted otherwise and worse, he slaughtered the animal,” Gonzales said.

When found guilty by the court, Gonzales said Orosco would be sentenced according to the penal provisions of RA 9147 that declare killing and destroying wildlife species illegal and punishable with imprisonment of up to six years and/or a fine of P50,000.00 to P500,000 when the violation is inflicted against endangered species.

“We are determined in pursuing the case against Orosco so that it serves a lesson to fishermen. When found guilty, he might be the first in Bicol to be penalized by the criminal court for violating RA 9147,” the DENR regional chief added. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd/rsm

Friday, July 27, 2012

HERO Foundation sets fund-raising concert in Naga City in September

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -– The Help Educate and Rear Orphans (HERO) Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit organization founded by then President Corazon Aquino in 1988 will be holding a fund-raising concert in Naga City in September to bring smiles to the faces of children orphaned by the insurgency war.

These children who are benefiting from the Foundation are orphans of Filipino soldiers slain while fighting armed rebellious groups like the communist New People’s Army (NPA), Muslim separatists like the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and bandit-terrorist, Abu Sayyaf Group, among others.

Michelle Chan, the Hero Foundation’s director for Marketing and Resource Mobilization over the weekend said they are in Bicol to seek local governments’ help in raising the awareness of Bicolanos on the plight of these children orphaned by military parents.

The organization is also encouraging the business sectors, schools, universities, civic groups and individuals to support the Foundation's advocacy and help secure the future of these orphans.

“Come September, we will be in Naga City for the activity cum fund-raising concert dubbed, "Saludo: A concert for Heroes!” We hope that Naga City and the entire Bicol region will really bring smiles to the faces of our beneficiaries by giving their all out support to this endeavor,” Chan said.

Hero Foundation has been in existence for the past 24 years and never waned in its commitment to provide educational assistance to the orphans of men in uniform, according to Chan.

He said the Foundation is maintaining thousands of scholars around the country and some of them are in Bicol particularly the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon.

Chan said that in Camarines Sur, there are eight beneficiaries from Grades 2 to fourth year high school currently enrolled in various schools among them the Ragay Central School and Ragay Science and Math Oriented High School both in the municipality of Ragay.

Other schools are Colegio de Santisimo Rosario in Libmanan, Bato North Central School in the municipality of Bato, Pasacao Academy in Pasacao town, Sta. Justina West Elementary School in Buhi and Iriga South Central School and University of Saint Anthony both in Iriga City.

Chan said every year, Filipino soldiers are killed or incapacitated in line of duty and based on HERO’s record, each fallen soldier leaves behind an average of three school-aged children.

Chan said that to date, the foundation has already helped 2,261 scholars, 888 of whom have graduated from college and 699 remain active scholars.

“HERO aims to help more children obtain a college degree or a certificate in a vocational course through a consistent and secured education support from other stakeholders, particularly from individuals with benevolent hearts,” Chan added.

Since 1988, HERO Foundation, founded by the late former President Cory Aquino and then AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Renato De Villa, has been providing educational stipends to military orphans.

The financial support help keep orphans in school as it covers much needed requirements such as school supplies, transportation, meals and even a portion of their tuition fee.

This will in turn provide them a better opportunity to help their families and become productive members of our society.

“Now it’s our turn to help and be a hero to our heroes’ children,” Chan stressed. (PNA) LQ/DOC/cbd/eds

DENR presents P23.6-B proposed budget for 2013 in Bicol consultation

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -– The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is gathering consensus for the coming up with improvements in allocations for environment and natural resources sectors out of its proposed P23.7 billion budget next year.

The proposed agency budget was presented during a consultation-dialogue initiated by the agency and the Budget Initiative Environment Cluster (ABIEC) of the Social Watch Philippines (SWP) here over the week.

ABIEC is a network of civil society organizations advocating social development through budget reforms.

Among the organizations comprising ABIEC are Ecowaste Coalition, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Haribon Foundation, Aksyon Klima, Partnership for Clean Air, Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.

Joselin Marcus Fragada, the DENR regional executive director for Bicol based here, said on Thursday the consultation was part of the Budget Partnership Agreement (BPA) between DENR and ABIEC to gather suggestions and recommendations and come up with a consensus in further improving budget allocations for environment and natural resources sectors.

The output of the consultation would serve as reference for the continuing effort of the DENR in making its budget more responsive especially to the changing environment concerns, Fragada said.

Highlighting the consultation was the presentation to representatives from various civil society groups in Bicol of the proposed 2013 P23.7 billion budget by the national executive committee headed by DENR Secretary Ramon Paje.

The budget of the DENR, according to Fragada is part of the expanded participatory budgeting process under the National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 536 released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) early this year.

The amount is equivalent to approximately 1.5 percent of the total proposed national government budget for 2013 worth P2.006 trillion submitted for approval to Congress as it resumed sessions last Monday before Pres. Benigno Aquino III delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa Hall.

The proposed national budget, dubbed the “Empowerment Budget,” seeks to fund projects and programs that would have a significant impact on reducing poverty by 16.6 percent when President Aquino steps down in 2016.

In the 2013 proposed national budget, the Department of Education (DepEd) continues to get the biggest chunk as the Aquino administration aims to close the shortage of teachers and classrooms by next year.

The DepEd has been allocated P292.7 billion or P55.9-billion more for next year compared to this year’s budget of P238.8 billion.

Following DepEd in terms of budget allocation are the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with P152.9 billion; Department of National Defense (DND), P121.6 billion; Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), P120.8 billion; Department of Agriculture (DA), P74.1 billion; and Department of Health (DoH), P56.8 billion.

Coming next are the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P56.2 billion; Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), P37.1 billion; Department of Finance (DOF), P33.2 billion; and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), P23.7 billion.

Also under the 2013 proposed budget, the DBM is introducing the performance e-based bonuses, which can range from P5,000 to P35,000 per employee on top of the P5,000 productivity enhancement incentive (PEI) given annually during December.

Government agencies will be ranked “best,” “better,” “good,” or “poor” based on performance. Those agencies that did not achieve 90 percent of its target will not be included in the bonus system.

From those government agencies with high rankings, the administration will select employees who are performing well.

Fragada said that the people should keep themselves abreast of the issues on the budget if not actively participate and engage lawmakers in the budget making process.

The budget is the most important piece of legislation passed every year that every citizen should learn more about it.

The DENR-ABIEC consultation, Fragada added is one way of involving the people in the budget to the fact that they are its real owners. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd/eds

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NIB marks silver anniversary on July 25
By Severino C. Samonte

MANILA, July 24 (PNA) -- As the News and Information Bureau (NIB) under the Presidential Communications Operations Office celebrates its silver anniversary on July 25, 2012, it is also fitting to recall how the bureau came into existence as part of the government reorganization carried out by the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino in 1987.

The birth of the bureau actually came about with the President's issuance on July 25, 1987 of Executive Order No. 297 titled, "Reorganization of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS), Prescribing its Powers and Functions and Other Purposes."

In EO 297, the country's first woman president noted: "Realizing that the Office of the Press Secretary was precisely created by Memorandum Order No. 32, dated September 1, 1986 and Executive Order No. 92, dated December 17, 1986, to ensure that the government's point of view is communicated to the public, especially on issues affecting the nation's welfare, it is necessary that the mandate, powers and functions of this Office be redefined to avoid overlapping and to fix responsibilities therein."

Section 16 of EO 297 states: "The News and Information Bureau shall be responsible for providing efficient, effective, productive, and economical services relating to the development and formulation of a domestic and foreign information program for the government, in general, and the presidency, in particular, including the development of strategies for the dissemination of information on specific government programs."

The NIB shall be headed by a director and assisted by an assistant director, both to be appointed by the President, upon the recommendation of the Press Secretary.

Consisting the NIB are the Presidential Press Staff (PPS) and the sub-offices under it, Philippines News Agency (PNA), Media Accreditation and Relations Division (MARD), including the International Press Center (IPC), and Finance and Administrative Division (FAD).

Under the EO, the NIB has been given the following specific functions:

Formulate, develop, and implement a national information program for the Government and the Presidency, including the strategies in support of specific national development programs.

Formulate, develop, and implement an overseas information program, including strategies for the effective dissemination of information about the Philippines, the policies, activities, and programs of the Government and the Presidency.

Establish liaison with the representatives of domestic and foreign press, and provide assistance, as is deemed necessary, relevant to the projects, policies, and activities of the Government and the Presidency.

Establish and maintain a system of accreditation for local and foreign members of media.

Make arrangements for presidential press and broadcast coverages and conferences.

Provide services relative to day-to-day and special information and communication requirements of the Government and the Presidency, including the programming and monitoring of significant projects and activities on media relations and other media-related matters.

Provide daily news services to both local and foreign publics on the policies, activities, and programs of the Government and the Presidency, and maintain a wire service operation, for the purpose of effecting coverage of events and developments relevant to the information needs of the Government and the Presidency.

Produce and distribute information materials, such as: handbills, folders, pamphlets, posters, and other publications on the directions, policies, programs, and activities of the Government and the Presidency.

Perform such other functions as may be provided by law.

Twenty-three years later, upon President Benigno S. Aquino III's assumption of office, he signed E.O. No. 4 on July 30, 2010 reorganizing and renaming the Office of the Press Secretary as the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

Under the latest reorganization, the NIB remains as a line bureau of the PCOO headed by former President Cory Aquino Cabinet Member and Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Prof. Herminio "Sonny" Coloma Jr.

In his PCOO memorandum issued on January 19, this year, Secretary Coloma created the Integrated Management of National Media and Information Cluster through Office Order No. 1, series of 2012 in accordance with President Aquino III’s Executive Order No. 4 with “the primary objective to strengthen the pillar-institutions of Government in media and information.”

Under the department’s order, the News and Information Bureau and the Philippines News Agency serve as the lead agency in the pipeline production of Development News to be projected by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the Peoples’ Television (PTV) 4.

The Secretary also directed the NIB-PNA to put premium as an internationally-recognized news organization in the same league as the globally-known newswire agencies.

Secretary Coloma also ordered the NIB for the timely and efficient accreditation of foreign media practitioners for events and news coverage within the country.

According to the Office Order optimizing the utilization of Government media and information resources, the Secretary heads the Joint Management Committee that integrates the policies, programs and activities of the component organizations.

In his memorandum early this year calling for solidarity, Secretary Coloma called on key officials and middle managers “to achieve our lofty goals, we need to close ranks and work as a team.”

The Secretary rallied communications officials and employees “to commit ourselves fully and unconditionally to our shared mission: to be our President’s co-workers in serving our people and building enduring pillar-institutions for a vibrant democracy.”

During the first 25 years of its existence, the NIB has been headed by six directors -- two of them as officers-in-charge.

Veteran journalist Vergel O. Santos was named as the first NIB director on November 2, 1987 under OPS Department Order No. 13 signed by then Press Undersecretary Danilo A. Gozo.

When Santos resigned to resume editing privately-run newspapers, including the re-born Manila Chronicle and Manila Times, he was succeeded by Director German C. Galian, another veteran journalist who later headed the Presidential News Desk (PND) upon its creation by former Press Secretary Rodolfo T. Reyes during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos in May 1993.

Upon the promotion of Galian to OPS assistant secretary in 1994, he was succeeded by Director Lucita C. Sanchez, who formerly headed the National Printing Office. She held the top NIB post for 11 years.

After the retirement of Director Sanchez on July 6, 2005, the NIB was headed briefly by former Assistant Press Secretary Dennis Legazpi (July 11, 2005-August 11, 2005) and then by Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia (August 11, 2005-June 30, 2007).

After Capadocia, former PNA reporter, senior news editor and later managing editor Brando F. Merrera was appointed by then Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye as officer-in- charge of the NIB from July 1, 2007 to March 17, 2009.

Merrera was eventually appointed permanently to the post of NIB director on March 18, 2009 by then Press Secretary Cerge Remonde. He was the youngest so far to hold the NIB's top post and a Career Service Executive Officer (CESO) III. Unfortunately, Merrera died of heart failure last July 6, 2012 at the age of 50.

Through PCOO Department Order No. 4 dated July 9, 2012, Secretary Coloma designated Assistant Secretary Elizardo “Zaldy” de Layola as Officer-in-Charge of the NIB to oversee the day-to-day operations as well as to ensure the delivery of services to its stakeholders and clients. With ASec De Layola at the NIB helm is Assistant Director III Danilo S. Jamora. (PNA) FFC/scs/mec

DOH says Masbate City is ‘unfamiliar model’ in anti-cholera drive

DARAGA, Albay, July 23 (PNA) -- While other areas in Bicol are being troubled by cholera outbreaks, Masbate City, where sources of potable water are rare, posted an almost nil record of the disease during the first half of this year until the middle part of this month.

Of the over 3,000 of cholera cases recorded in Bicol from January to the third week of this month, the Department of Health (DOH) regional office for Bicol here listed only three cases in Masbate City.

These victims were not from the city proper, though, but from its outskirt barangays which means that not a single resident within the city limits was victimized by cholera during the period even as the place has been experiencing scarcity of potable water supply since time immemorial, according to DOH regional director Nestor Santiago on Monday.

With this, the health agency regional head said Masbate City becomes an “unfamiliar model” for the region in the control of the disease mainly acquired from unsafe drinking water and unsanitary environments.

“Unfamiliar” because the city is not very likely to attain an almost zero cholera case given the water problem its residents have been encountering, he explained.

Most households in the city rely on privately-owned deep wells for their daily water supply delivered by push cart-driving vendors for three to five pesos per container of four gallons.

Owners of these wells have provided electric water pumps to load the daily queue of containers at P1 each.

Behind this situation, the city administration headed by Mayor Socrates Tuason has been able to ensure that all local sources of drinking are safe with the use of water testing equipments that the city government has purchased, according to Santiago.

The City Health Office (CHO) uses these equipment in regularly testing all common water sources around the city for possible contamination.

The mayor also makes it sure that chlorine solution is always available to treat water sources that may be found infected with water-borne bacterium especially Vibrio cholera that causes an acute infectious disease characterized by watery diarrhea and spread by eating food or drinking contaminated water.

The city government had also been very strict in its implementation of food sanitation which sees to it that local food handlers undergo necessary training before they are given health certificates required in their operations, Santiago said.

Cholera is one of the most feared epidemic diarrheal diseases in Bicol and anywhere in the country because people can die within hours of infection from dehydration due to the loss of water from the body through the bowels.

Contamination usually occurs 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.

Santiago said signs of dehydration include intense thirst, little or no urine output, dry skin and mouth, an absence of tears, glassy or sunken eyes, muscle cramps, weakness and rapid heart rate. The fontanelle (soft spot on an infant's head) will appear to be sunken or drawn in.

Dehydration occurs most rapidly in the very young and the very old because they have fewer fluid reserves. Immediate replacement of the lost fluids and electrolytes is necessary to prevent kidney failure, coma, and death, he said.

Reports on cholera cases in Bicol recently became prevalent reaching an epidemic level in the first half of this year following confirmed cases reaching 3,158 with 30 fatalities. Last year’s cases in the same period were only 445 to show a 610-percent rise this year.

Highest number of cases was reported in the island province of Catanduanes with 1,831 cases and 14 deaths; followed by Camarines Sur with 811 cases and seven fatalities; Sorsogon – 291 with five deaths; Albay – 168 with four deaths; Camarines Norte – 54 cases and Masbate with three cases.

Amidst these situations, the DOH regional office early this month issued an advisory urging provincial, city and town executives to take the necessary health interventions to avert the rising incidence of the disease.

Local government units (LGUs) in affected areas were urged to step up the campaign on food and environmental sanitation by requiring food handlers and vendors to undergo rectal swabbing before they could be issued with health certificates.

DOH also asked the LGUs to make available chlorine stock solutions to ensure safe drinking water in the communities and local chief executives were urged to to activate their respective Water Quality Monitoring Committees to regularly check on the water sources of their communities and hold preventive and control measures to avert the spread of cholera.

All these measures have been in place in Masbate City even before the advisory was issued or even before the epidemic was declared in the region and the result “is very impressive”, Santiago said.

There is no formal or official citation being prepared by the DOH to recognize the accomplishment of the city government towards this end but Santiago said he is personally congratulating Tuason and his administration for a job well done. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd/mec

Human rights action center set up in 70 villages in Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PNA) -- At least 70 villages in this city have recently established a Human Rights Action Center (HRAC) in their respective localities to protect the rights of every individual against abuses, City Mayor Carmen Geraldine Rosal said Tuesday.

Rosal said over a hundred village officials have undergone a one-day training and operationalization of a Barangay Human Rights Action Center (BHRAC) so that they can be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills in adopting and confronting human right concerns in the community.

She said the training workshop was conducted in partnership with Councilor Atty. Melissa Abadeza, chairperson of the committee on Human Rights of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Legazpi held last July 18 at the Ibalong Conference Room, City Hall Compound.

The HRAC training was in compliance with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular 94-194 on October 27, 1994 enjoining all the barangays to pass and adopt a resolution for the establishment of Human Rights Action Center.

Rosal said that the Human Rights Workshop will give village officials more knowledge about the rights of every individual and to protect them from any abuse and other violations of the laws in order to maintain tranquility and peacefulness in the community.

She pointed out that city had been considered as a haven for investment in Bicol mainly because it had been regarded as one of the models of a peaceful place in the region.

Rosal said “we will work together to maintain our good image in order to attract more investors to do business here and will create more job opportunities to our constituents.”

Abadeza said the HRAC would be strengthened by crafting the necessary legislative action that would protect every individual right and to make sure that the justice system will become more effective in the barangays.

Abadeza said that she has submitted the proposed measures to SP for the creation of Barangay Human Rights Action Center (BHRAC) in the city’s 70 villages.

She stressed that the main functions of the BHRAC is to receive complaints of any human rights violation in a particular locality and to refer it to the nearest Commission on Human Rights Regional Office or Sub-Office for investigation. It is also tasked to conduct human rights information and education activities in the village. (PNA) LAP/LQ/MSA/cbd/utb

Bicolanos reaffirm support, trust to Aquino administration during SONA

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PNA) -- The usual human traffic normally crowding downtown places here paused over an hour as everyone were glued to their television sets during President Benigno S. Aquino III third State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

At the huge Central Bus Terminal here, all TV sets at the passenger waiting area, cafeterias, malls, offices and on board buses, jeepneys, taxis and tricycles were tuned in to the live telecast of the SONA and everyone enthusiastically clapped and cheered when the speech was interrupted some 120 times.

“Walang pagbabago kay PNoy. Siya pa rin ‘yung dating madaling unawain ang mga sinasabi’t nais ipahiwatig sa ating mga Pilipino. Prangka at hindi mo kakikitaan ng pagkukunwari. Lahat na kanyang mga sinabi sa SONA, lalo na tungkol sa mga nagawa na ng kanyang administrasyon para sa mga mahihirap ay totoo’t ramdam ang epekto,” Ramil Agripa, a 30-year old auto mechanic here, said.

“Madalang ang pasahero at ‘yung mangilan-ngilan na sumasakay nagmamadali’t gustong makauwi agad para manood ng TV. Iyon namang iba, ayaw nang bumaba ng dyip dahil nakikinig sa radio. Lahat po sila, gustong pakinggan o mapanood ang Pangulo,” a jeepney driver said.

Mayor Geraldine Rosal, who joined employees and visitors in watching the President's SONA over a giant TV screen at the city hall lobby, said they suspended work during its 91-minute duration.

“All the city employees were eager to listen to and watch PNoy with his SONA. As if they were inside the Batasan applauding almost every line of the President. We were all impressed by how the speech was delivered in Filipino language and dazzled by its contents particularly those that concerned government workers, rural development, national economy, anti-corruption, poverty alleviation and education, among others,” Rosal said.

The emotion observed from City Hall spectators, she said, reaffirms the support and confidence of Legazpeños to the President.

“He won an overwhelming percentage of votes from the city during his election and that support and confidence have never waned, instead multiplying all those two years of his presidency,” Rosal said.

At the nearby Albay provincial capitol, Governor Joey Salceda said “the 2012 SONA must be remembered more for its ‘statement of holy desires’ than getting fixated with its mechanical and protracted recitation of two-year achievements even if they are statistically verifiable. Such ‘holy desires’ are embodied by targets that are socially desirable and desirably ambitious.”

“All 1.2 million hectares of CARP lands (mostly private agricultural lands) distributed by 2016; 10 million tourists by 2016; Universal Healthcare from current 85 percent; Responsible parenthood; No backlog in education via 68 percent increase in DepEd; Better quality higher education through 43 percent increase in CHED/SUCS: All these can summed under the doctrine of ‘reforms as norm’ which lay the fundamental for "Talagang masarap maging Filipino sa panahon ngayon," the governor said.

Local radio commentator Ariel Ayque admitted that he was “terribly mesmerized.” “Of all the Presidents who delivered their SONAs…this one is credible. Congrats, PNoy,” he said.

Dante Magayanes, a DepEd employee, said what he likes most among the statements of PNoy was the mention of the new airport in Daraga.

"I was clapping alone in my office...go, go, go Daraga Airport. Go,go, go, PNoy and bring the best economy for us in Daraga. Can't wait anymore longer seeing the landing and taking off of planes on my native land,” Magayanes posted on his Facebook account.

Casiguran, Sorsogon town mayor Ester Hamor said in a text message that almost every Casiguranon watched the SONA on television.

“Parang fiesta sa kabayanan na masigla ang lahat sa panonood kay PNoy. Ramdam naming lahat dito ag katapatan ng Pangulo sa kanyang mga binigkas dahil kasama kami sa mga nagkikinabang sa mga nagawa nito sa mga mahihirap na pamilya,” Hamor said.

The municipality is beneficiary to the Aquino administration’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA), a rural development program being carried out by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) as a peace and development framework for the empowering of conflict-affected countryside.

The program is a way towards attaining economic progress as its objectives are based on initiating reforms and development projects in line with the national government’s peace agenda and ending internal armed conflicts.

“We now have a good road that opened a market link for four of our upland villages whose residents rely mainly on agriculture for their living. They could already deliver their crops to the market conveniently using motor vehicles,” Hamor added.

In Masbate City, Laura Marcayda, a city hall official, told the PNA over the phone that PNoy’s third SONA was very impressive.

“We really felt as we watch and listen to the President on TV that being a Pilipino remains a big pride,” Marcayda said.

She said that under the Aquino administration, Masbate, the province considered as the poorest in Bicol, has developed a great sense of perseverance to grow and be looked upon high in the near future as a top economy given its vast potentials in agriculture and tourism even as it is already the region’s top producer of cattle.

In Catanduanes, Governor Joseph Cua, in a statement Tuesday, said the SONA made Catanduanos realize further how the Aquino administration is doing its best to improve the living conditions in the countryside.

“Most of the infrastructure and other developmental projects the President have mentioned were directed to the provinces particularly those that are considered poor but potential growth areas,” Cua said.

Cua said Catanduanes is among the big beneficiaries of these projects since last year, as funds from the national government have been pouring into the province for the improvement of its roads, seaports, agricultural and tourism facilities and other vital infrastructures that the past administrations have failed to provide.

“We have ongoing road projects worth over P2 billion all financed by the national administration. And for Catanduanons, these projects are dreams coming true only under the Aquino administration,” he stressed.

Cua said the energization program mentioned in the SONA also includes the province as the President, during his visit last month, assured him of a P250-million funding for the installation of additional power transmission lines to reach areas still not served with electricity in Catanduanes. (PNA) LAM/LQ/DOC/cbd/utb

President Aquino's SONA inspires Bicolanos
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) -- Residents of this city who were glued to televisions as President Benigno "Noynoy" C. Aquino III delivered his third State of the Nation Address on Monday, described the SONA as inspiring as it gives more hope to Bicolanos.

Marivic Pelones, third year law student and an employee of a Regional Trial Court (RTC), said that the President's SONA was a big challenge not just for himself alone but also to every Pilipino.

"P-Noy's SONA is an inspiring statement that would awaken the need for the enactment of some laws not just by papers but by actions," she said.

"It will also be a good start to bring back the confidence in the executive and the judicial branch in appointing a new chief justice that will also trek “a tuwid na daan,” Pelones added.

Siena Lei Tabuena, an engineering student, said, "This is my first time to watch and listen to a SONA of a president; I really understand it because he uses Tagalog, every Filipino will able to understand it."

Donna Ravelo, a civil engineer of Sunwest Corporation, said that one thing she expects and hopes in the President's SONA is that everything will materialize, especially the Albay International Airport.

"It is right to reveal to the public the present condition of our national budget as well as the economy of the Philippines," she added.

A junior officer of Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Public Safety Battalion said that the SONA is full of "positives". He expressed hope that what he promised in terms of transparency, removal of red tape, job opportunities, pursuit of corrupt officials will "translate into concrete action and realistic programs."

"The PNP housing program and the 74,000 guns as promised will help us as law enforcers to do our job well," he added. (PNA) LAP/CTB/LQ/CBD/mec

Legazpi City officials hail P-Noy's assurance of Albay airport completion
By Lorenzita Z. Quitasol and Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) -- Local officials here hailed President Benigno Aquino III for the assurance that the Albay International Airport located in Daraga town will be completed before the end of his term.

Daraga Councilor Alex Comia said the airport will bring more investments and eventually provide more jobs and business opportunities to local communities.

For his part, Father Jun Barquez of Daraga Parish Rector said that President Aquino clearly set the ideals. The challenge is for each one in the government and even private entities to follow suit.

Real change for the better can never be achieved thru the effort of a single person alone, Fr. Barquez added.

A retired Philippine Information Agency (PIA) employee watched SONA and just realized President Aquino has already accomplished much in just two years. He said he also believes the Chief Executive's sincerity plus his choice of Cabinet heads helped him a lot to achieve the many positive changes in his administration. "I am happy with P-noy’s SONA," he declared.

The statement of President Aquino in terms of responsible parenthood is not clear whether he favors the enactment of RH Bill, Beth Fernandez, population officer, said.

She said that married couples should be given motivation but it should be coupled with reproductive health services in all local government units. (PNA) LAP/CTB/LQ/MDR/cbd/mec

Monday, July 23, 2012

Naga City searches for ‘most beautiful’ pregnant mother during Nutrition Month

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) –- Mothers who are at least four months pregnant will be on stage in Naga City this weekend as local organizers of a beauty pageant searches for the most beautiful of them all.

This rare contest of glamour, brains, good grooming and proper body handling among women heavy with child is one of the highlights during the ongoing observance of Nutrition Month in the city, Arlene Reario, the National Nutrition Council (NCC) program coordinator for Bicol said here on Monday.

Sans the traditional swim suit competition in beauty contests, the search dubbed “Gandang Preggy Nanay (Pregnant Mother Beauty)” will present at least 15 local entries who have earlier signed up to hit the ramp in their casual, formal and evening gown suits. They are four to nine-month pregnant.

They will also show their stage talents during the Saturday coronation night program to be held at the covered court of Barangay Concepcion Grande, Naga City. Judges will also measure the contestants’ level of intelligence in a question and answer portion of the program.

“The competition will not be different from the usual beauty pageants we are witnessing during fiestas and other special occasions or even the national or international searches for beauty queens, only that the display of body curves is not included as there will be no swim suit portion,” Reario said.

It aims to heighten the awareness of mothers in good grooming, proper body care, right diet and physical fitness while they are in the family way, she explained.

It is very vital that mothers know the importance of providing attention to their own health, hygiene and physical and mental fitness especially when they are pregnant because they need to be strong, healthy and fit while the development of the child inside their wombs take place, according to Reario.

The contest does not only promote good grooming and beauty care but also good attitude among pregnant mothers that include proper diet by eating nutritious foods, regular pre-natal consultation and post health care check-ups, she said.

Sponsored by the Committee on Women and Children of the barangay council of Concepcion Grande and supported by the City government of Naga and the regional office for Bicol of the NCC, the winner will be crowned as the “Gandang Preggy Nanay 2012.

Cash prizes, certificates and other awards are at stake. Two special awards—Mrs. Friendship and Best in Talent will also be given.

The contest that is very relevant to what the observance of Nutrition Month is all about is the first of its kind in Bicol and “we hope that this becomes a regular part of the yearly celebration not only in Naga City but elsewhere in the region so that attention is also focused on pregnant mothers who, more than anybody else need good nutrition for the proper development of her child”, Reario said.

She explained that child malnutrition that is prevalent in Bicol oftentimes starts inside the womb when the mother is unable to be observe proper nutrition.

The 2011 study conducted by the NCC says that 14.87 percent or 116,477 of children in the region are moderately to seriously malnourished, while three percent or 3,500 of them are severely affected.

Compared to the result of the same study in 2010, last year’s findings show a decline of 1.11 percent in rate or 8,468 cases in the child malnutrition in Bicol.

Regional reports on Operation Timbang in 2011, according to Reario showed that among the six provinces in Bicol, Camarines Sur retained the number rank in the prevalence of underweight children with 19 percent, followed by Catanduanes with 18.3 percent; Masbate, with 16.39; Albay,14.91 percent; Sorsogon,13 percent; and Camarines Norte,12.97 percent.

For the region’s seven cities, Masbate City registered the greatest rate at 14.82 percent in underweight children, followed by Ligao City in Albay with 11.55 percent; Tabaco and this city, also both in Albay with 9.79 percent and 8.41 percent respectively; Sorsogon City, 6.81 percent; Iriga City in Camarines Sur, 6.54 percent; and Naga City, also in Camarines Sur, 4.72 percent.

With this, Reario said, Bicol remains the second highest among other regions in the country in the prevalence of malnutrition among children with ages ranging from 0 to 5 years old.

“We are however confident that this standing of the region will improve given the commitment aired by various local government units (LGUs) to the campaign being undertaken by the NCC to bring down local incidences of malnutrition in the coming years,” she said.

These commitments, according to Reario are motivated by the intention of most LGUs to contribute in the Philippine government’s desire to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Bicol has realized a 16.0 score in MDGs attainment in 2010 with the high pace in the region of progress in the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger under Goal Number One.

Other indicators pointing to the lowering of the prevalence of malnutrition in the region include the increase in the funding support to the program by LGUs; most of the LGUs are strengthening their food production program; passage of legislative resolutions boosting local health, nutrition and agriculture production and organizing in the local levels functional nutrition committees in various LGUs.

The implementation of the Aquino administration’s anti-poverty scheme, the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) is also a great contribution to the solutions to the region’s malnutrition problem among children, she added. (PNA) FPV/LQ/DOC/cbd/mec

Naga City searches for ‘most beautiful’ pregnant mother during Nutrition Month

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) –- Mothers who are at least four months pregnant will be on stage in Naga City this weekend as local organizers of a beauty pageant searches for the most beautiful of them all.

This rare contest of glamour, brains, good grooming and proper body handling among women heavy with child is one of the highlights during the ongoing observance of Nutrition Month in the city, Arlene Reario, the National Nutrition Council (NCC) program coordinator for Bicol said here on Monday.

Sans the traditional swim suit competition in beauty contests, the search dubbed “Gandang Preggy Nanay (Pregnant Mother Beauty)” will present at least 15 local entries who have earlier signed up to hit the ramp in their casual, formal and evening gown suits. They are four to nine-month pregnant.

They will also show their stage talents during the Saturday coronation night program to be held at the covered court of Barangay Concepcion Grande, Naga City. Judges will also measure the contestants’ level of intelligence in a question and answer portion of the program.

“The competition will not be different from the usual beauty pageants we are witnessing during fiestas and other special occasions or even the national or international searches for beauty queens, only that the display of body curves is not included as there will be no swim suit portion,” Reario said.

It aims to heighten the awareness of mothers in good grooming, proper body care, right diet and physical fitness while they are in the family way, she explained.

It is very vital that mothers know the importance of providing attention to their own health, hygiene and physical and mental fitness especially when they are pregnant because they need to be strong, healthy and fit while the development of the child inside their wombs take place, according to Reario.

The contest does not only promote good grooming and beauty care but also good attitude among pregnant mothers that include proper diet by eating nutritious foods, regular pre-natal consultation and post health care check-ups, she said.

Sponsored by the Committee on Women and Children of the barangay council of Concepcion Grande and supported by the City government of Naga and the regional office for Bicol of the NCC, the winner will be crowned as the “Gandang Preggy Nanay 2012.

Cash prizes, certificates and other awards are at stake. Two special awards—Mrs. Friendship and Best in Talent will also be given.

The contest that is very relevant to what the observance of Nutrition Month is all about is the first of its kind in Bicol and “we hope that this becomes a regular part of the yearly celebration not only in Naga City but elsewhere in the region so that attention is also focused on pregnant mothers who, more than anybody else need good nutrition for the proper development of her child”, Reario said.

She explained that child malnutrition that is prevalent in Bicol oftentimes starts inside the womb when the mother is unable to be observe proper nutrition.

The 2011 study conducted by the NCC says that 14.87 percent or 116,477 of children in the region are moderately to seriously malnourished, while three percent or 3,500 of them are severely affected.

Compared to the result of the same study in 2010, last year’s findings show a decline of 1.11 percent in rate or 8,468 cases in the child malnutrition in Bicol.

Regional reports on Operation Timbang in 2011, according to Reario showed that among the six provinces in Bicol, Camarines Sur retained the number rank in the prevalence of underweight children with 19 percent, followed by Catanduanes with 18.3 percent; Masbate, with 16.39; Albay,14.91 percent; Sorsogon,13 percent; and Camarines Norte,12.97 percent.

For the region’s seven cities, Masbate City registered the greatest rate at 14.82 percent in underweight children, followed by Ligao City in Albay with 11.55 percent; Tabaco and this city, also both in Albay with 9.79 percent and 8.41 percent respectively; Sorsogon City, 6.81 percent; Iriga City in Camarines Sur, 6.54 percent; and Naga City, also in Camarines Sur, 4.72 percent.

With this, Reario said, Bicol remains the second highest among other regions in the country in the prevalence of malnutrition among children with ages ranging from 0 to 5 years old.

“We are however confident that this standing of the region will improve given the commitment aired by various local government units (LGUs) to the campaign being undertaken by the NCC to bring down local incidences of malnutrition in the coming years,” she said.

These commitments, according to Reario are motivated by the intention of most LGUs to contribute in the Philippine government’s desire to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Bicol has realized a 16.0 score in MDGs attainment in 2010 with the high pace in the region of progress in the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger under Goal Number One.

Other indicators pointing to the lowering of the prevalence of malnutrition in the region include the increase in the funding support to the program by LGUs; most of the LGUs are strengthening their food production program; passage of legislative resolutions boosting local health, nutrition and agriculture production and organizing in the local levels functional nutrition committees in various LGUs.

The implementation of the Aquino administration’s anti-poverty scheme, the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) is also a great contribution to the solutions to the region’s malnutrition problem among children, she added. (PNA) FPV/LQ/DOC/cbd/mec

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dialysis center for poor patients opens in Catanduanes

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 (PNA) -– A dialysis facility for the poor will soon be available for free in Catanduanes, according to the island province’s governor.

Governor Joseph Cua, in statement received here on Wednesday, said the dialysis center, housed at the government-operated Juan M. Alberto Memorial District Hospital (JMAMDH) in the municipality of San Andres will start servicing kidney disease patients within this week.

The facility is now ready with its brand new state-of-the art equipment and competent medical personnel.

What is only lacking for the dialysis center to start accepting patients is the license to operate which the Department of Health (DOH) central office in Manila is preparing to issue any day of the week, Cua said.

The dialysis center which occupies a specially-designed room at the main building of the JMAMDH is equipped with six dialysis machines -- five for regular patients and one for those suffering from infectious disease. A crash cart, defibrillator and other required emergency equipment are also on standby.

Its operations will be supervised by nephrologist Dr. Joselito Mora, a native of Viga, Catanduanes, who is also attached with the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI). He will be backed up by two well-trained and experienced nurses.

It will be run by the KEB Health and Wellness System Inc. whose president Elizabeth Directo, Cua said, is committed to helping poor kidney patients in Catanduanes.

“Finally, our poor people who are burdened by kidney disease can now have some relief from this facility minus the cost that they cannot afford. Those that can afford the expensive dialysis process can also have it here at lesser cost and easing them of additional expenses in going to Legazpi City or to Manila,” Cua said.

Patients from the province who are poor as certified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and listed as members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) under the Aquino administration’s National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) would essentially pay nothing in availing of its services.

Under a scheme devised by the provincial government with the KEB and PhilHealth, Cua said the latter would shoulder 45 treatments of each member patient per year.

For the rest of the required treatment, Cua said his office is now working on assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) that provides a patient with P10,000 monthly for a year.

Under this scheme, the center would send the monthly bill to PCSO, which will then allow the patient to undergo dialysis for the next month. The KEB advises patients to alternate between PhilHealth and PCSO the charging of the treatment cost for each month.

A dialysis process usually costs more than P20,000 per month at P4,000 for each of the four weekly sessions required and even more when a patient had to undergo two sessions a week which is necessary to regularly cleanse the kidneys of harmful wastes, excess salt and water when these organs fail due to the disease.

Each dialysis session would last four hours, with the facility able to accept a maximum of 10 patients per day. Each complete session would cost around P2,000.

KEB will provide 12 extra dialysis treatments for Catanduanes PhilHealth members which will be done using a holistic approach by way of considering the patient’s nutrition, rehabilitation exercises and patient care instruction to caregivers in order to make their lives productive, the governor added.

Hypertension and diabetes, along with a sedentary lifestyle, are the top causes of kidney failure. The disease can be prevented by having a healthy lifestyle, including a low fat, low salt and high fiber diet, avoiding vices such as smoking, and having regular exercise. (PNA) LAM/DOC/cbd/mec

Camarines Norte’s pineapple industry gets boost from BAR

PILI, Camarines Sur, July 18 (PNA) -– In an effort to maximize productivity, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has placed the pineapple industry in Camarines Norte under its National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP).

Established by the BAR as one of its flagship programs to ensure that technologies are strategically placed and transferred to areas and communities that most needed them, the NTCP ensures the transformation of agriculture from resource-based to technology-based industry.

It serves as a vital tool for the development of enterprises and the improvement of related industries anchored on appropriate activities emphasizing technology transfer, promotion, adoption, utilization and commercialization.

NTCP complements the BAR’s Community-based Participation Action Research (CPAR) program serving as the entry point for technology transfer as it serves as on-farm technology demonstration and assessment arena for potential suitable technologies for the communities.

Its attention is given to the strengthening of a market-driven approach for holistic and integrated development.

The program is now supporting pineapple growers in Camarines Norte particularly in Labo town where the DA’s Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (BIARC), in collaboration with the Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LPMCP) is implementing "Enhancing Competitiveness of the Queen Pineapple in the Bicol Region" project.

Camarines Norte, which is well-known for its queen pineapple, serves as the agricultural center and a potential investment destination and center for business and trade in Bicol. It has a total of 2,400 hectares of farmland in its 12 municipalities devoted to the production of the “queen” or Formosa pineapple, the sweetest in the world.

The LPMCP, according to DA regional executive director Jose Dayao here on Wednesday, is among the institutions in Camarines Norte that promotes livelihood projects on pineapple production and pineapple products and by-products processing.

It provides employment and creates more innovative products that respond to the needs of the international market.

In recognition to LPMCP's significant accomplishments and contributions, BAR Director Nicomedes Eleazar recently visited its pineapple fruit processing plant and pineapple leaf fiber weaving center in Labo town to extend more support particularly in the value-adding of the crop.

At the weaving center, LMPCP members and workers craft high-quality textile from fiber derived from pineapple leaves. Manually-scraped and machine- decorticated piña fibers are interwoven with other fibers, such as polyester or silk, to come up with expensive silky fabrics for Barong Tagalog.

In the 20th century, the barong was re-interpreted by the middle class especially by the "illustrados" into a symbol of national independence and national pride. Today, piña barong is extremely expensive because of low cloth production and painstaking process. Hence, it is considered luxurious and has the finest tissue.

Pineapple fiber handwoven into a high-end piña cloth has a delicate texture which is soft, with high luster and usually white or ivory in color. It easily takes and retains dyes.

LPMPC also uses the decorticated pineapple fiber as an excellent material in producing handmade piña paper out of what are left of the leaves after fiber extraction. This paper is used in novelties like greeting cards and home decors.

Dayao said the usual practice of pineapple farmers in Camarines Norte was to allow the pineapple leaves to rot or they just burn them after harvest. Now,the cooperative through the assistance of the BAR’s NTCP and guidance of the BIARC, pineapple leaves are made into gainful venture.

This practice has been going on for decades until one day, it was discovered to be a good source of fiber for handloom weaving. Today, it is becoming one of the sources of income of farmers and housewives not only in Labo which adopted it as the town’s One-town, One-Product (OTOP), but also in its neighboring towns.(PNA) FPV/DOC/cbd/mec

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cholera epidemic up in Bicol - DOH

LEGAZPI CITY, July 13 (PNA) - Health authorities in Bicol have raised the alert status here as Cholera cases already reached an epidemic level with 30 deaths and 3,158 people affected during the past two quarters of this year, a ranking official of the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Dr. Nestor Santiago in an emailed report said his agency has registered 3,158 cholera cases from January to July this year, representing a 610-percent rise from the 445 cases during the same period last year.

Cholera claimed the lives of at least 30 people who were inflicted with bacteria after eating dirty food and drinking contaminated water.

The data were gathered from various government and private hospitals in Bicol's six provinces, Santiago said.

The DOH Epidemiology Surveillance Unit said cholera incidence this year was reported high in the island province of Catanduanes with 1,831 cases and 14 deaths; followed by Camarines Sur with 811 cases and seven fatalities; Sorsogon – 291 with five deaths; Albay – 168 with four deaths; Camarines Norte – 54 cases and Masbate with three cases.

The report indicated that except for Camarines Norte that posted a 36 percent decrease on incidence from 84 cases last year to 54 this year, all other five provinces had an increasing trend.

The DOH, getting alarmed by the surging incidence of cholera, prompted health authorities to declare the disease as an epidemic.

In connection with the rising health concern, Santiago issued an advisory last July 2 urging provincial, city and town executives to take the necessary health interventions to avert the rising incidence of the disease.

Local government units (LGUs) in affected areas were urged to step up the campaign on food and environmental sanitation by requiring food handlers and vendors to undergo rectal swabbing before they could be issued with health certificates.

DOH also asked the LGUs to make available chlorine stock solutions to ensure safe drinking water in the communities.

Santiago also reminded the local chief executives to activate and functionalize their respective Water Quality Monitoring Committees to regularly check on the water sources of their communities and hold preventive and control measures to avert the spread of cholera. (PNA) LAP/LQ/MSA/cbd/utb

DOLE slates livelihood grants for Bicol’s PWDs

LEGAZPI CITY, July 13 (PNA) -– The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has prepared livelihood opportunities and training grants for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in the region including entertainment activities during the observance of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week this month.

“We are holding it with a week-long bash in two separate venues -— this city and the City of Naga in Camarines Sur so that all PWDs from all walk of life in the region are given the opportunity to join,” DOLE regional director Nathaniel Lacambra said on Friday.

It will kick off on July 17 at the Activity Center of Liberty Commercial Center (LCC) Mall here with a holy mass offered for the welfare and protection of all PWDs in the region and followed by training-orientation of the different livelihood and training programs.

These training programs will be conducted by the DOLE, Technical Education Services and Development Administration (TESDA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Before the end of the day, the DOLE will award livelihood assistance worth P50,000 and Information, Communication Technology (ICT) scholarship grants to deserving PWDs. Albay Governor Joey Salceda will be guest of honor in this affair.

The ICT scholarship and training will be provided by the Informatics Computer Institute (ICI) based here and in Tabaco City.

“It is impressive that the private sector like ICI is already helping us in this endeavor. I know that more private institution will soon offer their help in giving our PWDs the opportunity to be productive members of the society,” according to Lacambra.

On July 19, he said a training on food safety for food vendors to be sponsored by the DTI, DOST and the DOLE field office in Camarines Sur will be held in Naga City.

On the culminating activities on July 30, a public education on disability preventions with emphasis on smoke-free environment will be held at the Albay Astrodome here, an affair for PWDs and the general public as well.

It will be principally sponsored by the ADD+ADVANTAGE, Provincial Health Office (PHO), Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

“Livelihood grants have always been part of the (NDPR) week celebrations. In fact we will be giving out starter kits to the PWDs starting on July 17 and because we wanted these less fortunate Bicolanos to really feel special. We are also giving out during the celebrations entertainment showcases and some freebies,” Lacambra added.

Based on records, DOLE-Bicol has given some P200,000 livelihood grant to PWD organizations in Legazpi City alone during the past two year that includes the grant to the Visually Impaired Voices of Albay (VIVA), a Legazpi-based musical band and massage group provided with a complete set of musical instruments, electronic equipment and massage supplies and materials.

The VIVA band is set to perform on July 17 during the kick-off program at the LCC mall here. (PNA) LAM/LQ/CBD/utb

PNP intensifies hunt for 30,000 loose firearms in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, July 12 (PNA) – There are about 30,000 loose firearms all over Bicol and the regional Philippine National Police (PNP) office here on Thursday said all its field units are on an intensified hunt for these.

“We wanted to recover as many loose firearms as we can during the remaining period of this year until the early months of next year or before the campaign period for the 2013 senatorial and local elections starts,” Bicol PNP regional director Chief Supt. Jose Arne de los Santos said.

In line with this intention, he said “Oplan Kontra Boga”, an intensified campaign against loose firearms has been put in place across the region starting this year.

At present, according to De los Santos, the number of unregistered guns in the six provinces of Bicol is 29,975 and “the problem is that we do not have a concrete idea as to who are keeping them now and where exactly these firearms are.”

Based on the regional PNP records, Camarines Sur had a total of 11,412 unregistered firearms, the biggest compared to the other five provinces in the region.

Albay came next with 7,829, followed by Masbate with 4,403; Camarines Norte with 2,860; Sorsogon, 2,777; and Catandunes, 694.

These figures were collated based on intelligence reports and records of unrenewed firearm registrations and licenses, De los Santos said.

Records also show that the island province of Masbate which is known as the “Murder Capital of Bicol” had the most number of deaths from loose firearms by registering 225 cases in 2009.

The figure however slightly decreased on the following year owing to the massive disarming operations conducted by government forces against private armies employed by local politicians during the 2010 election period.

Task Force Masbate, an elite unit of lawmen from the PNP’s Special Forces, Regional Mobile Group Battalion and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), backed up by the local police force and the Philippine Army (PA) recovered around 4,000 loose firearms from various political camps and individual holders during that period.

Under “Oplan Kontra Boga”, according to De los Santos, police intelligence operatives have been scattered all over the region gathering information towards the identity of persons in possession of loose firearms from where application for search warrants with the courts would be based.

Checkpoints have already been established in regular bases in all strategic locations of main thoroughfares for possible apprehension of motorists particularly motorcycle riders and commuters in possession of unlicensed firearms.

Since the implementation of this operational plan, the Bicol regional police chief said a total of 160 assorted firearms have already been confiscated from January to June this year.

He said 73 firearms were confiscated in Masbate during the period. In Albay, 38 guns have been seized; 28 from Camarines Sur; 10 from Camarines Norte and eight in Sorsogon and three in Catanduanes.

As the election period draws near, the entire organization of the PNP all over Bicol is doubling its efforts to recover more loose firearms to minimize if not totally eradicate election-related violence in areas considered as troubled spots like Masbate and some parts of Sorsogon, De los Santos added. (PNA) FPV/LQ/DOC/cbd/utb

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Masbate to impose taxes on small-scale mining

LEGAZPI CITY, July 11 (PNA) -– The provincial government of Masbate is finding ways to collect taxes from the thousands of small-scale miners feasting for free on the rich mineral resources of the island province.

In a statement reaching here Wednesday, Masbate Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete said she had already requested the provincial legislative board to review the province’s revenue code to determine the taxes that should be imposed upon operators and financiers of these mining activities.

The governor said there are about 20,000 individuals who are engaged in the venture particularly in Aroroy, the municipality considered as one of the richest in the country in terms of mineral resources that include gold, copper, silver, iron, manganese and chromite.

At present, some of these miners whose projects are recognized as legal could only be charged by the local government with a meager sum for the processing of their temporary small-scale mining permits. She said that the rest, which is greater in number and whose operations are considered illegal, pay nothing.

Small-scale mining for gold and manganese in the island, Lanete said, is an over a billion-peso a year industry.

“We are a province rich in mineral, particularly gold and yet we are one of the poorest in the country in terms of local economy. That makes us look like an old man sitting on a pot of gold,” Lanete lamented.

This time, she said the provincial government will be taking advantage of this natural wealth to generate local revenue to uplift the economic condition of the province and deliver basic services so that their constituents can fully participate in economic activities.

Part of the measure that the province will be instituting is the legalization of all local small-scale mining operations under the jurisdiction and monitoring of the provincial government.

The large scale mining operations under the control of the national government are the Masbate Gold Project (MGP) of the Australian-owned Filminera Resources Corporation (FRC) and the Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corporation (PGPRC) that covers a 13,000-hectare of gold-rich upland property in Aroroy.

In 2010, the MGP produced some 141,000 ounces (4,000 kilograms) of gold and about 113,000 ounces (3,200 kgs) of silver for a total gross production gain of P6.9 billion.

In a steady state, the project is forecast to produce some 200,000 ounces in average yearly gold output over the first eight years of the mine’s life.

A report of the MGB said MGP yielded a total of 2,770.921 kilograms of gold valued at over P5.6 billion and some 2,166 kilograms of silver at around P105.4 million for a gross production worth P5.7 billion during the first half of 2011.

The company enjoys many attractive incentives from the Philippine government including an initial six year income tax holiday. The excise tax rate is 2 percent on gross revenue.

It is also in the process of acquiring another gold-rich property covering an area of 78 hectares located north of its existing pit even as the company already had more than 18 kilometers of exploration tenement.

From these developments, the province expects nothing for its coffer that could be treated as “blessings” except that economic activities in the area also expands, Lanete said.

“So, we turn to the small miners, the mining sector left for the provincial government to impose upon its authority and tax them,” she added. (PNA)
LAM/LQ/DOC/cbd/mec

OPAPP completes P22-M projects in Sorsogon

CASIGURAN, Sorsogon, July 11 (PNA) – Life will be better now for several barrios here and five other insurgency-affected Sorsogon towns following the recent completion of at least 10 rural development projects funded by the national government through President Benigno Aquino III’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program.

“We now have a good road that opened a market link for four of our upland villages whose residents rely mainly on agriculture for their living. They could already deliver their crops to the market conveniently using motor vehicles,” Mayor Ester Hamor told the Philippines News Agency on Wednesday.

The road she was referring to is the new one-kilometer concrete structure that links the barangays of Bactolan, Tiris, San Ramon and Burgos to the town’s main road down to the public market.

This fast booming 3rd class municipality is identified as among the hotbeds of communist insurgency in the province.

Hamor said over 2,000 farm households benefit from this project funded with P3 million by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the agency tasked to implement the PAMANA program, one of the two tracks of the Aquino administration in pursuit of a just and lasting peace.

This track to peace seeks to close the gap between what happens on the negotiating table and the realities on the ground as it also serves as a guide for national and local government agencies, international donors and non-government organizations in providing various interventions to address conditions that create unpeace

The first track is the negotiated political settlement of all armed conflicts through formal peace talks.

“We see PAMANA as a peace and development framework for the empowering of conflict-affected areas in the province and the entire country as it is a way towards attaining economic progress as its objectives are based on initiating reforms and development projects in line with the national government’s peace agenda and ending internal armed conflicts,” according to Hamor.

The other PAMANA projects in the province recently completed are the over half kilometer of concrete farm-to-market road constructed for P2.8 in Barangay San Isidro, Barcelona town; improvement from gravel to concrete of the one-kilometer Tublijon-Sipaya road in Juban worth P3 million; and the concreting of the Cogon-San Rafael road in Prieto Diaz for P3 million.

The others are the concreting of the Buenavista-San Isidro-Batang road in Irosin town for P2.5 million; establishment of an eco-tourism center in Barangay Salvacion, also in Irosin worth P2 million; and the P2-million improvement of the Parola Beach, Sta, Lourdes Grotto for P1 million and Bucal-bucalan Spring (P2 million) that are all tourism spots in Magallanes town.

These projects worth a total of P22 million are only part of the various development undertakings of PAMANA in Sorsogon allocated by the OPAPP with a total funding of P40 million this year.

The province is considered by the military as the most insurgency-troubled province in the Bicol Region with almost all its 13 municipalities and one city affected by the presence of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

During the turn-over ceremony of the completed projects here over the week, OPAPP ASec. Romulo Halabaso stressed that Pamana aims to achieve lasting peace using three pillars, among them policy reforms that establish the foundation of peace, thus improve governance.

The other pillars promote the convergent delivery of services and goods focused on households and communities, thus reduce poverty and link conflict affected areas to markets and promote jobs generation in provincial or municipal government, thus empower communities, Halabaso said. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd/mec

Tourism is new climate change adaptation tool

LEGAZPI CITY, July 11 (PNA) -– Eco-cultural tourism is now a new platform and focus of the global campaign for climate change adaptation (CCA).

The campaign formally takes off with a series of activities in line with the CCA mainstreaming policy of President Benigno S. Aquino III being implemented through the Climate Change Commission (CCC) headed by Sec. Lucile Sering.

This makes the global campaign for CCA focused on the tourism industry, Manuel Rangasa, national chairman of the Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD), said here on Wednesday.

The LCCAD, Inc. and The Philippine EpiCentre Climate Change Magazine are non-government organizations (NGOs) recognized by the Office of the President and composed of experienced community adaptation practitioners (CAPs) in the Philippines. Both are the prime entities assisting the government in the upcoming Philippine Tourism Conference for CCA (PTCCCA) on August 23-25 here.

Rangasa, also the conference director, said the campaign is working under a very strong collaboration between the government and the cross section of society through the public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives of Pres. Aquino.

Also deeply involved in the campaign are Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Ramon Paje, Department of Tourism (DOT) Sec. Ramon Jimenez and Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Sec. Herminio Coloma, the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) public awareness monitoring cluster head.

The conference is in response to the call of the President for more poverty alleviation actions from both the government and the private sectors for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs), Rangasa said.

In support to the LCCAD’s initiative, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Jesse Robredo recently issued Memorandum Circular 2012-108 which enjoins all local officials and tourism, planning and anti-disaster officers of provinces, cities and municipalities to attend the three-day conference.

“We have made PTCCCA a part of the yearly Ibalong Festival, a socio-cultural celebrations of the city government of Legazpi now under Mayor Geraldine Rosal, that draws thousands of tourists from all over the world,” Rangasa said.

He said an inventory and assessment of cultural properties and heritage sites would be initiated to find the importance of tourism destinations in the economic development of the country.

“Such inventory and assessment has never been done anywhere in the Philippines before the PTCCCA,” he explained.

Different adaptation strategies and safe practices will be featured in the PTCCCA by Albay Governor Joey Salceda, the United Nations First Senior Global Champion for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCA-DRR).

Scientists, experts, educators, businessmen and known officials of tourism in the country are slated to provide lectures, discussions and presentations during the three-day conference.

Cabinet secretaries, senators and delegates from LGUs as well as private groups are also invited to participate in the event. (PNA) LAM/LQ/CBD/mec

Camarines Norte town apprehensive over P80-M ARCP

JOSE PANGANIBAN, Camarines Norte, July 11 (PNA) – The town administration here is apprehensive over the manner in which the P80-million fund for road constructions under the Agrarian Reform Community Project (ARCP) is to be implemented.

The amount has been apportioned to the far-flung barangays of San Martin, San Pedro, San Rafael and Tamisan with each getting P20 million for the construction of concrete farm-to-market roads that are expected to bring about lasting improvements in the capabilities and well being of poor and marginalized groups in the target communities.

According to Mayor Ricarte Padilla, the local government requested the amount last year to augment its funding for its ongoing road cementing program across the municipality.

“What worries us here is the likelihood that the fund will not go directly to the town government but to the provincial government given the fact that government funding assistance of P10 million and above is usually parked with the provincial government before it is finally channeled to the recipient municipality,” the mayor on Tuesday here said.

It is very likely then that when the money is finally released, it will be the provincial government and the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) which would carry out the project at the “standard” contracted price of P10 million per kilometer making the target communities at the losing end.

Padilla also expressed fear over chances that the P10 million budget for a kilometer of cemented road would only build a shorter road as had been experienced in the past with provincial government-sponsored roads.

The mayor said they are still hoping that under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III, things have changed so that the municipal government is given direct access to the funds so that it is maximized to satisfy its intention of building good roads for agrarian reform communities (ARCs) in the municipality.

Under the implementation of the provincial government or the DPWH that follows the P10-million per kilometer four-meter wide standard, the P80-million fund could only construct eight kilometers, Padilla said.

“When we in the municipal government are allowed to do the implementation, we can make it 16 kilometers of concrete road of 4.5-meter wide at the cost of only P5 million per kilometer,” he stressed.

Meaning, each of the four beneficiary baranggays would get at least four kilometers of cemented roads hoped to speed up transportation and movement of agricultural products from these areas to the market, the mayor explained.

“We want to achieve the expected outcomes of these projects toward poverty reduction and sustainable livelihoods that is why we want its implementation to be done religiously,” he added.

Besides, he said ARCPs are supportive of strong participation of local communities in the development process through enhancement of social capital among target communities.

This is being done under the Aquino administration through the use of a community-based development approach as well as improved capacity of ARC organizations and local government units (LGUs) for better governance and convergence in the provision of support services, Padilla said.

ARCP is a support undertaking of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that assists ARCs in 35 provinces of the Philippines.

A recent report of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said the ARCP has been successful in achieving most of its targets with high rates of utilization of project financing.

Targets for most of the components have been exceeded, especially for rural infrastructure, which has had far-reaching effects on the access of target ARCs to processing facilities and bigger markets.(PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd/mec

Bicol malnutrition problem improving: NNC

LEGAZPI CITY, July 11 (PNA) -- Incidence of malnutrition among children in Bicol has improved from 124,945 malnourish children in 2010 to 116,477 last year or a drop of 1.11 percent, according to a study of the National Nutrition Council (NNC) regional office.

Latest result of NNC 2011 study indicated that 116,477 or 14.87 percent of children in Bicol are malnourished, while 3 percent or 3,500 children are severely malnourished.

Comparing the latest study with the NNC 2010 result, it showed that a decrease of 8,468 cases or 1.11 percent drop was significantly observed, Marlyn Valesa, NNC Nutrition Officer said.

Valesa in a telephone interview, however said that the drop in the number of malnourished children is not an indication that the prevalence of malnutrition in Bicol would continue to improve as the agency is still closely checking the nutrition programs initiated by local government units across the region.

Valesa, citing the regional report of Operation Timbang in 2011, showed that among the six provinces in Bicol, Camarines Sur still ranked 1st in the prevalence of underweight children with 19 percent, followed by Catanduanes (rank 2) with 18.3 percent; Masbate (rank 3) with 16.39; Albay (rank 4) with 14.91 percent, Sorsogon (rank 5) with 13 percent, and Camarines Norte (rank 6) with 12.97 percent.

For the cities, Masbate topped all Bicol cities posting a 14.82 percent underweight children, followed by Ligao with 11.55 percent, Tabaco, 9.79 percent, Legazpi – 8.41 percent, Sorsogon – 6.81, Iriga – 6.54 and Naga with only 4.72 percent malnourished children.

She said Bicol is still the second highest among other regions in the country in the prevalence of malnutrition among children with ages ranging from 0 to 5 years old.

The NNC/FNRI 2008 study indicated that Bicol malnutrition cases has surpassed the FNRI national average 20.7 percent prevalence on malnutrition incidence.

The study showed that Mimaropa ranks first, followed by Bicol, and third is Eastern Visayas.

Valesa expressed confidence that the commitment given by various local government units in the campaign would indeed bring down incidence of malnutrition in the coming years.

Valesa said that so far, the campaign against malnutrition in Bicol is gaining ground as it is attaining the targets in the Millennium Development Goal (MDG).

She said Bicol posted a 16.0 score in 2010 with a high pace of progress in the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger under MDG Goal 1.

Other indicators in bringing down the prevalence of malnutrition includes: the increase in the funding support to the program by LGUs; most of the LGUs are strengthening their food production program; passage of legislative resolutions boosting local health, nutrition and agriculture production and organizing a functional Nutrition Committee in various LGUs. (PNA) FPV/LQ/MSA/cbd/mec

Two Bicol lady mayors are finalists in CSC’s Dangal ng Bayan Awards

LEGAZPI CITY, July 10 (PNA) - Two lady mayors from Camarines Sur are Bicol’s bet to this year’s search of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for its Honor Awards Program (HAP).

They are Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen and Mayor Delia Simbulan of Nabua town.

CSC acting regional director for Bicol Daisy Bragais on Monday said here Gazmen and Simbulan made it to the final list of contenders in the current search, besting 18 other nominees from the region.

Both belong to the Outstanding Officials and Employees Awards or the Dangal ng Bayan Award category of the HAP bestowed to any public official who consistently demonstrated commendable ethical behavior pursuant to Republic Act 6713.

HAP is an annual undertaking of the CSC that recognizes government officials and employees who have displayed outstanding work performance.

Awardees this year will receive a trophy designed by the National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva, P200,000.00 cash reward and other forms of incentives.

It is an honor for Bicol, particularly the province of Camarines Sur to have two of its nominees named as finalists, Bragais said.

Gazmen, the first lady-mayor of the City of Smiles, has dramatically transformed Iriga into a booming agro-ecotourism center.

Holding the record as the city’s youngest mayor in the last 13 years, Gazmen, was able to give her city a +72 Net trust rating in a Social Weather Station survey. She contributed this to the satisfactory results of the Local Government Performance Management System initiated by the survey firm.

Now on her third term as city mayor and holding the record as the city’s youngest mayor in the last thirteen years, Gazmen’s accomplishments in the field of communications and the conservation and protection of the environment speak of her dream to make Iriga City an agro-ecotourism center in the Philippines.

Given a +72 Net Trust rating in a Social Weather Station survey, her vision for the city is anchored on programs on good local governance. These programs were measured in the Local Government Performance Management System sand generated very satisfactory results.

Under her leadership, the city, classified as 4th class was a recipient of the 2009 Award of Excellence in Good Local Governance under the component city category by the Department of Interior Local Government (DILG) in Bicol.

The award recognized the city’s outstanding performance and significant contribution in strengthening local government’s capacities and civil society participation in creating a synergistic partnership for an improved local service delivery, thereby ensuring an enhancement of the quality of life of Iriga’s constituents.

In 2010, the DILG further cited the City of Iriga as among the 10 top performing local governments on good governance under the component cities category in the national level.

Under her watch, Iriga was also bestowed, among other awards and citations, with the 2008 Saringaya Award by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the city’s various environmental programs and a 2010 Citation for Best Practices from the Asia Foundation and British Embassy for programs on people’s participation, revenue generation and environmental protection.

Simbulan, on the other hand, is a first-term mayor of Nabua and under her, the first class municipality received the Seal of Good Housekeeping from the DILG for its exemplary performance in internal housekeeping specifically in the areas of planning, sound fiscal management, transparency and accountability and for valuing performance management.

Nabua LGU also now has a website where all the government transactions are posted and is open for public perusal. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd/mec

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dengue cases high in Camarines Sur

DARAGA, Albay, July 10 (PNA) – The Department of Health (DOH) for Bicol here has recorded a total of 780 dengue cases in Camarines Sur during the first six months of this year or about 206 percent increase compared to the 296 during the same period in 2011.

DOH regional director Nestor Santiago on Tuesday said the cases may still rise as the June count was partial and the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit was yet to collate new data for the month received from various sentinel sites in the province.

According to Santiago, this is very alarming so that all concerned sector in Camarines Sur including local government units (LGUs), barangay officials and the people should double their participation in measures being initiated by the DOH and the provincial government to contain the situation.

He said an intensified information campaign on dengue is going on in Camarines Sur, which is being lead by the Provincial Health Office (PHO), to educate every resident in barangays on prevention and management.

Santiago pointed out that the most economical way to contain dengue is through the cleanliness of the surroundings to rid dengue-carrying mosquitoes of breeding places like old tires, roof gutters, discarded empty bottles, coconut husks and shells, flower vases and any other materials that hold clear water.

Santiago said the residents should also follow the other anti-dengue measures of the DOH such as Self protection, Seek early consultation and Say no to indiscriminate fogging.

He said the PHO in Camarines Sur reported that six towns and one city of the province registered the most number of dengue cases with Naga City topping the list with 409.

Last May, the Naga City government under Mayor John Bongat has declared a state of calamity in response to the increasing number of dengue cases in the locality that registered 284 then from the 25 of the city’s 27 barangays.

Under a state of calamity, the city legislative council appropriated P1 million for dengue prevention and purchase of medicines.

The six towns with most number of dengue cases were Pasacao with 37 cases; Canaman and Magarao, 33 each; Calabanga, 30, Sipocot 28 and Ocampo, 26 with one death. (PNA) FFC/LQ/DOC/cbd/mec

PhilHealth unveils new primary care benefits in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, July 9 (PNA) -- The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has introduced a new set of enhanced package of benefits designed to improve the financial risk protection for its members through the availability of quality outpatient and inpatient medical and health services.

Called the Primary Care Benefits (PCB) I, the package launched in Tabaco City over the week entitles members to basic, quality health care services through accredited public health care providers nationwide, PhilHealth regional director for Bicol Orlando Iñigo over the weekend here said.

The launch led by PhilHealth president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Eduardo Banzon and Tabaco City Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro marked the start of the implementation of the package across the country.

Iñigo said it was held in Tabaco City in recognition of the local government’s taking the lead among local government units in the country in the promotion of PhilHealth programs.

Tabaco City has exhibited its continuous support to PhilHealth programs and initiatives with its relentless drive to provide the locales of necessary health and medical services through enlistment with the government insurance corporation, Iñigo said.

The city government enrolled 6,989 members to PhilHealth in 2010 paying P4.193 million in premium contributions with 2,387 of them availing of the benefits the health insurance firm is providing.

A total amount of P17.193 was paid by PhilHealth for these benefits, according to Iñigo.

“It is interesting to note that while the total contributions of these members shouldered by the city government were only more than P4 million, the corporation paid over P17 million for the health services and medicines availed of by these 2,387 members or members of their families,” he noted.

For her part, Luistro cited PhilHealth for its bolder initiatives in improving services and develop new more responsive health and medical programs like the PCB I for its members that would provide more relief to the poor sectors of the community.

With the new package adding primary health care that even included more reproductive health services, the Tabaco City government will do its best to enroll more members from its constituents and be steadfast in supporting PhilHealth’s programs,” she stressed.

Iñigo explained that PCB I allows primary health care providers greater flexibility in the range of services the company can offer to enlisted PhilHealth clients, including consultations, regular blood pressure monitoring, and health promotion like education on breastfeeding, counseling on lifestyle modification and smoking cessation.

Medicines for common diseases like asthma and acute gastroenteritis (AGE) with no or mild dehydration, upper respiratory tract infection, pneumonia and urinary tract infection are also included and expected to be provided by the providers of this package, he said.

Diagnostic services such as complete blood count, urinalysis, sputum microscopy, fasting blood sugar, lipid profile, and chest x-ray are also available.

Initially, these new benefits will be available to members under the Sponsored, Organized Groups (OGs) and Overseas Workers Program (OWP) and to their qualified dependents, yet eventually, all other members in the different categories will have access to these benefits, according to Iñigo.

Availment of the PCB I benefits entails the assignment of sponsored program (SP) members to designated Rural Health Units (RHUs), health centers or outpatient departments (OPDs) of government hospitals nearest them.

OG and OWP members may choose their PCB I providers from the list of government hospitals that provides PCB I services.

Since April 1, PhilHealth has been assigning the SP members to designated PCB providers – RHUs, barangay health centers OPDs of government hospitals nationwide.

“The accredited provider shall actively seek out the SP members in their localities and once these members sign the master list, then they will be entitled to the benefits by presenting their valid PhilHealth ID cards,” Iñigo said.

These members need not pay any amount to avail of these benefits.

SP members are also reminded to avail themselves of the outpatient benefits which must be made within the validity period specified in their PhilHealth ID cards.

Members under the OG must have made at least three months contributions within the immediate six months prior to the use of the card, while OWP members can avail themselves of the benefits as soon as they have paid their annual premium.

“PhilHealth re-affirms its commitment to ensure better financial protection for our members in times they need it most and PCB I is a step towards this direction. The new benefit will also allow existing health centers and RHUs to improve and expand vital primary health care services and continue to meet the increased demand for these services,” the PhilHealth regional chief added. (PNA) FPV/LQ/DOC/cbd