Friday, August 31, 2012

Sorsogon cops hope to plant 50,000 trees until 2013

SORSOGON CITY, Aug. 31 (PNA) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) Sorsogon provincial office here ended on Friday the celebration of its Police Community Relations (PCR) Month for this year with a commitment to plant over 50,000 trees in the province until next year under its greening program.

The program dubbed “Pulis Makakalikasan: Sampung Milyong Puno, Pamana sa Kinabukasan” or the “10 Million Trees for 7,000 Islands Project” launched by PNP Dir. Gen. Nicanor Bartolome last February is the PNP’s support to the National Greening Program (NGP) of Pres. Benigno Aquino III and to the National Climate Change Action Plan of the Climate Change Commission.

NGP is one of the priority programs of government that aims to green bald forests, uplift the living condition of the upland dwellers and reduce poverty confronting poor households and indigenous people in coastal and rural areas.

Under the PNP program, every member of the national police organization are required to plant at least six trees every month or a total of 72 trees within one year, Senior Supt. John Jambora, the Sorsogon police provincial director based at Camp Salvador Escudero Sr. here said.

The entire Sorsogon police provincial organization is composed of 696 uniformed and 10 non-uniformed personnel distributed among its 17 field units which so far this year during the end of the PCR month already planted a total of 19,470 trees within PNP camps, public parks, road sides, reforestation sites, mangrove forests and other areas indentified into the program.

Targeting to plant 1.5 billion tree seedlings in 1.5 million hectares all over the country, the NGP implementation in Bicol works on the restoration of the denuded forest lands through rehabilitation approaches like upland reforestation and assisted natural regeneration and agro-forestry by contract with non-government organization, people’s organizations and local government units (LGUs).

Priority areas for planting include mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domain areas, civil and military reservations, urban centers under the greening plan of LGUs, inactive and abandoned mine sites and all other suitable lands for reforestation.

During the whole month celebration of the PCR, the Sorsogon police demonstrated aggressiveness in its tree planting activities which were made part of the projects for the occasion and Jambora said that with the nearly 20,000 tree seedlings that they have planted as of the month of August, “we can make it 50,832 by February when the PNP’s 10-million tree program completes its first year.

He said close coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is being maintained the Sorsogon PNP for the provision of planting materials and with the LGUs for the identification of the sites to be planted.

It could be recalled that a memorandum of agreement has been entered into between PNP chief Bartolome and DENR Sec. Ramon Paje last January that provides for the establishment of tree nurseries within police camps through the assistance of DENR local offices.

Under this collaboration, the DENR will determine the tree seedlings that would be propagated in the police nurseries based on the climate and soil condition of the particular area where the seedlings are to be planted.

The DENR in Bicol targets this year to produce 114 million seedlings that would be planted in around 200,000 hectares of lands across the region.

Last year, the NGP in Bicol realized about four million tree seedlings planted in around 5,000 hectares by about 22,000 people who participated in the program.

This year, according to the DENR regional office based in Legazpi City, government efforts in the NGP implementation will be doubled to enjoin as many Bicolano to plant and grow at least 10 trees each”. This year’s target for Bicol is 10,000 hectares for around eight million trees.

Bicol’s population is about 5.5 million and should a quarter of this number plant 10 trees each, then the region will have more than 10 million new trees this year, according to DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales. (PNA) LAM/LQ/DOC/CBD

CSC to highlight Robredo’s heroism in public service in 112th anniversary celebrations
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 31 (PNA) -- Themed “Kawani, Ikaw ay Isang Lingkod Bayani,” the month-long celebration in September of the Philippine Civil Service Anniversary in Bicol will highlight the works and accomplishments of the late Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo.

The theme aims to promote, showcase and celebrate stories of triumph and sacrifice among men and women in government.

Robredo, a highly praised public servant because of his spectacular accomplishment as mayor of Naga City for 18 years and as DILG secretary for two years, died in a plane accident last August 18.

His untimely death stirred a nationwide bereavement and deep grief of people he had lived with, served, worked with and even from those he did not knew but aware of his good deeds.

In his statement on the passing of Robredo, Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairman Francisco said the best way to honor the late Secretary is to carry on his legacy of transparent and accountable governance and to support his many noble advocacies.

Duque recalled that in May this year, Robredo joined a group of public service awardees to be part of the so called Lingkod Bayani Network organized to support awardees in pursuing excellence and professionalism.

“Early in his career as a public servant, as he served his first term of office as the youngest mayor of Naga City, Robredo’s unique brand of leadership – one that bespoke of sincerity and genuine commitment to public service – has been recognized,” Duque said in the statement.

“He received the Dangal ng Bayan Award in 1990, the first time that said award was given out. The conferment of Outstanding Public Officials and Employees Award or Dangal ng Bayan Award is provided under the then newly enacted Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees,” the CSC chief said.

The award jointly administered by the CSC and the Office of the Ombudsman recognizes individuals for exemplary conduct and ethical behavior.

Cecilia Nieto, the CSC regional director for Bicol on Friday said the 112th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary celebration in the region would be centered on this impression left by Robredo as a legacy to the country’s civil servants who should always aspire to become heroes in public service by maintaining integrity and professionalism in their day to day works.

Although the pain of untimely losing the late DILG secretary lingers among the still grieving Bicolano civil servants, they will go ahead with the anniversary bash in each of the region’s six provinces, seven cities and 107 municipalities not only to celebrate their contribution to nation building but to honor Robredo, Nieto said.

All government offices and agencies in the region are expected to participate in the celebration commemorating the birth of the Philippine Civil Service and celebrating the works of Robredo, she said.

In Masbate City, reports said the celebration will be highlighted by the ground breaking of the site along the Masbate Boulevard where the monument of the bust of Robredo will be erected.

The place which is not far from the sea site where the plane carrying him crashed will also be named Jesse M. Robredo Boulevard through a measure now being processed by the city’s legislative council.

Activities will simultaneously begin region-wide with kickoff programs like parades and masses on September 3. The masses will be held as a way of thanksgiving for God’s goodness to government workers.

In Catanduanes, according to reports, floats of Mutya at Lakan ng Serbisyo Sibil will be paraded along main thoroughfares of Virac, the provincial capital. The floats would express the inspiration and gratitude to Robredo and the nobility of the province’s government workers.

Bloodletting activities will to be spearheaded by the Catanduanes Provincial Health Office (PHO) will also be initiated under the theme “Giving Life for a New Life.”

An “Environment Awareness and Protection” activity, a coastal and river clean-up at Virac and San Andres Coast and Sto. Domingo River of Catanduanes will also be conducted within the month as a commitment of the whole citizenry to protect the environment.

A Family Day, a day of fun and relaxation for each office and agency as one family had also been slated.

In this city, Mayor Geraldine Rosal said, the city government will celebrate the Civil Service Month in a simple but meaningful way of honoring state workers in recognition of their important contributions to the progress and development that the city is presently attaining.

“We are going to do away with the usual fanfare in respect to the unexpected passing of Sec. Robredo who served as my administration’s inspiration toward good local governance and effective delivery of basic social services to the people,” the lady mayor said.

Former city mayor now city administrator Noel Rosal, a close friend of Robredo, said they are initiating a series of activities for the month-long occasion that would inculcate in the mind of every worker of the city government the legacies of the late DILG secretary as a highly dignified public servant and advocate of changes toward the “tuwid na daan”. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/CBD/

Albay to host ASEAN conference-workshop on climate change and tourism

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 31 (PNA) -- Ground works are being firmed up for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Conference Workshop on Climate Change and Tourism to be hosted by Albay province on September 11 and 12 at the Oriental Legazpi Hotel, a top official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Bicol said Friday.

The occasion will be the first ASEAN event to be held in the country and to be hosted by Albay, according to Maria Ong Ravanilla, DOT regional director.

Ravanilla said the ASEAN conference workshop expects to draw up an action plan that would address evolving issues on climate change currently affecting Asian nations, and also come up with strategies that would boost tourism activities among members of the ASEAN.

She said at the end of the conference, participants will have to develop their respective disaster action plan that will make their country a disaster-resilient place to live in.

Ravanilla said her agency in coordination with Albay Governor Joey Salceda has initiated a series of meetings to prepare activities that would make the participants enjoy their two-day stay and learn from the Albay experience, addressing issues on climate change and how it effectively pursued Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) measures and tourism development programs it initiated that made the province among the leading tourism hubs in the country.

“At the conference we will present success stories and documentation on how the Bicol specially Albay copes with various natural disaster challenges such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons, flooding and landslides and how these challenges were met and transforming these into opportunities, boosting the region's tourism,” Ravanilla said.

She said Albay was made host of the ASEAN conference because the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) recognized the province as a DRR CCA model and the agency also named Salceda as UNDP DRR CCA Global Champion.

Expected to attend the two-day ASEAN conference are tourism ministers from the 10 member ASEAN countries that include Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, Laos, Brunei Darusalam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The conference will also serve as a venue for DOT to showcase the country’s top tourist destinations. (PNA) LAP/LQ/MSA/CBD/

Sorsogon cops hope to plant 50,000 trees until 2013

SORSOGON CITY, Aug. 31 (PNA) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) Sorsogon provincial office here ended on Friday the celebration of its Police Community Relations (PCR) Month for this year with a commitment to plant over 50,000 trees in the province until next year under its greening program.

The program dubbed “Pulis Makakalikasan: Sampung Milyong Puno, Pamana sa Kinabukasan” or the “10 Million Trees for 7,000 Islands Project” launched by PNP Dir. Gen. Nicanor Bartolome last February is the PNP’s support to the National Greening Program (NGP) of Pres. Benigno Aquino III and to the National Climate Change Action Plan of the Climate Change Commission.

NGP is one of the priority programs of government that aims to green bald forests, uplift the living condition of the upland dwellers and reduce poverty confronting poor households and indigenous people in coastal and rural areas.

Under the PNP program, every member of the national police organization are required to plant at least six trees every month or a total of 72 trees within one year, Senior Supt. John Jambora, the Sorsogon police provincial director based at Camp Salvador Escudero Sr. here said.

The entire Sorsogon police provincial organization is composed of 696 uniformed and 10 non-uniformed personnel distributed among its 17 field units which so far this year during the end of the PCR month already planted a total of 19,470 trees within PNP camps, public parks, road sides, reforestation sites, mangrove forests and other areas indentified into the program.

Targeting to plant 1.5 billion tree seedlings in 1.5 million hectares all over the country, the NGP implementation in Bicol works on the restoration of the denuded forest lands through rehabilitation approaches like upland reforestation and assisted natural regeneration and agro-forestry by contract with non-government organization, people’s organizations and local government units (LGUs).

Priority areas for planting include mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domain areas, civil and military reservations, urban centers under the greening plan of LGUs, inactive and abandoned mine sites and all other suitable lands for reforestation.

During the whole month celebration of the PCR, the Sorsogon police demonstrated aggressiveness in its tree planting activities which were made part of the projects for the occasion and Jambora said that with the nearly 20,000 tree seedlings that they have planted as of the month of August, “we can make it 50,832 by February when the PNP’s 10-million tree program completes its first year.

He said close coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is being maintained the Sorsogon PNP for the provision of planting materials and with the LGUs for the identification of the sites to be planted.

It could be recalled that a memorandum of agreement has been entered into between PNP chief Bartolome and DENR Sec. Ramon Paje last January that provides for the establishment of tree nurseries within police camps through the assistance of DENR local offices.

Under this collaboration, the DENR will determine the tree seedlings that would be propagated in the police nurseries based on the climate and soil condition of the particular area where the seedlings are to be planted.

The DENR in Bicol targets this year to produce 114 million seedlings that would be planted in around 200,000 hectares of lands across the region.

Last year, the NGP in Bicol realized about four million tree seedlings planted in around 5,000 hectares by about 22,000 people who participated in the program.

This year, according to the DENR regional office based in Legazpi City, government efforts in the NGP implementation will be doubled to enjoin as many Bicolano to plant and grow at least 10 trees each”. This year’s target for Bicol is 10,000 hectares for around eight million trees.

Bicol’s population is about 5.5 million and should a quarter of this number plant 10 trees each, then the region will have more than 10 million new trees this year, according to DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales. (PNA) LAM/LQ/DOC/CBD

Escudero favors RH Bill on three conditions
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 31 (PNA) -- Bicolano Senator Francis Escudero said he favors the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill should his three conditions be reflected in the proposed measure.

In a Bicol-wide radio interview Friday, Escudero enumerated the three provisions that need to be incorporated in the bill. They are: (1)the measure should not meddle into the personal decisions of couples, particularly in determining the number of their children and the family planning tools or methods to be used; (2)if sex education would be included, it must only be taught to first year high school students and above; and (3) the state must act like a "sales lady" and not a "salesman" in carrying out the provisions in the bill.

Escudero explained that in distributing the family planning tools such as condoms or pills, the government must act like a "sales lady" who merely waits for clients to come to her stall and buy and not like a "salesman" who visits prospective costumers on a door-to-door selling scheme.

"If the government will act like a sales lady I will vote in favor of the passage of the bill," Escudero said and stressed that "the state must leave to the couple the personal decisions that will directly affect them. The government could only offer options."

He also explained that "elementary pupils must be spared from sex education. If teaching sex education will be included in the RH Bill, it must only be offered to the high school level," he added.

During the same interview, Escudero urged his fellow solons to do the the necessary steps to put the bill in voting before the year ends.

"The RH Bill must be subjected to voting before the end of this year--win or loose," Escudero said.(PNA) GHG/LQ/SMT/CBD/

Baldoz distributes livelihood kits to end child labor in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 31 (PNA) -- Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz over the week distributed livelihood starter kits and educational assistance in a densely populated fishing village in Masbate City as a measure to end the high rate of child labor in the area.

The labor and employment secretary’s visit in Masbate was part of the DOLE’s Child Labor-Free Barangay Campaign, a nationwide program that intends to bring back millions of child laborers and children at risks to schools from jobs such as mining, gold panning and fishing that are considered hazardous.

All over the country, the Survey on Children of the National Statistics Office in 2010 revealed that over 2.4 million children of school ages from poor families are forced to leave schools to help the family earn a living.

About 10,000 of these children laborers mostly engaged in small scale mining and fishing activities are in the province of Masbate.

The DOLE, as lead implementing agency of the Philippine Program Against Child Labor (PPACL) has been taking serious effort in carrying out measures and strategies in the campaign against child labor involving all stakeholders and partner agencies, especially those from the grassroots level.

Visited by Baldoz on Thursday where she distributed the DOLE’s Kabuhayan Starter Kits in cosmetology, massage and haircut services, mobile phone repair and other forms of livelihood ventures was Barangay Tugbo, a coastal village of Masbate City composed of some 6,000 households mostly engaged in fishing.

Nathaniel Lacambra, the DOLE regional director for Bicol based here on Friday said recipients of the assistance were over a hundred households belonging to the poorest of the poor and relying mainly on fishing for their subsistence.

The recipients have undergone livelihood training jointly initiated by the DOLE provincial field office and the Public Employment Service Office of Masbate City.

Apart from the kabuhayan kits, Baldoz also gave away school supplies to selected child laborers in the village.

At their young age, these children have already engaged in fishing to help the family earn a living but denied of the opportunity to be in school.

The livelihood starter kits, Lacambra said are expected to be used by the recipients in augmenting the family income and allow their children to go to school.

Barangay Tugbo has been identified by the DOLE Masbate field office as pilot area for Masbate province in the implementation of the PPACL and the Child Labor-Free Barangay Campaign that Baldoz wants to be radiated to all of the island province’s villages where child labor is rearing, according to Lacambra.

The implementation of these anti-child labor programs, he said is being done in convergence with other government agencies in the national and local level so that they are enabled to take away children from hazardous works and bring them back to school.

This initiative is enjoying a lot of support not only from the administration of President Benigno Aquino III as well as other stakeholders from national government agencies but also from non-government agencies, people’s organizations and the private sector, Lacambra said.

The partnership and convergence extend to the provision of livelihood assistance to parents of child laborers to ensure that they earn sufficient income and support their children through primary and secondary education, he explained.

Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuason in behalf of the livelihood starter kit and educational assistance recipients, according to Lacambra had expressed his gratitude to Baldoz for the DOLE’s choosing of one of his barangays into the child-labor free campaign.

Tuason has committed to extend all the support his administration could afford for the program to be successful in ending the social malady brought about by child labor in the city and all over Masbate, Lacambra added. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/CBD/

2-hour brownout hits Legazpi and Daraga

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 30 (PNA) -- A two-hour brownout hit this city and the neighboring town of Daraga Thursday, sending thousands of electricity consumers especially the business establishments to think that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has carried out the impending power cut off to the entire province due to the failure of the Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) to settles its P4-billion outstanding account with several power providers.

However, the NGCP said that the brownout was due to the maintenance work it had undertaken by shifting the load transformer 1 in Daraga town covering the Daraga-Sorsogon 69-KVA to load transformer 3, according to Luis Wong, head of NGCP District 3 of the South Luzon Operation and Maintenance (SLOM).

According to NGCP, they have issued a Notice of Power Interruption to Aleco before they implemented their maintenance work that caused the two-hour power interruption covering the city and Daraga town. (PNA) LAM/LQ/MSA/CBD/

Bicol revenue office exceeds tax collection target

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug 30 (PNA)-- The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in Bicol collected P460.455 million in taxes for July surpassing its collection goal of P409.380 million by more than P51 million or 12.48 percent.

Its cumulative collection as of July 31 reached P3.17 billion, P35.5 million or 1.13 percent more than the goal of P3.13 billion, the revenue office reported here Thursday.

The amount realized is also higher by P551.27 million or 21.02 percent compared to the P2.62 billion tax collected during the same period last year.

BIR Regional Director Esmeralda Tabule commended all revenue district officers in the region saying "almost all of them attained their respective collection targets for the month."

They were given certificates in recognition of their good performance during the regular monthly staff conference at the BIR regional office here.

Naga City headed by its chief Socorro Lafuente topped the collection performance with P154.331 million, P44.84 million or 40.96 percent more than the target collection of P38.725 million.

Virac, Catanduanes under Ma. Teresa Noemi Pizon placed second with P24.72 million, P3.8 million or 18.30 percent of the target collection of P20.901 million.

Masbate City led by Melquiades Cancela landed in the third place with a collection of P33.36 million, exceeding its goal of P30.306 million by more than P3 million or 10.10 percent.

The other Bicol revenue offices that exceeded their targets are Sorsogon City under Maria Thelma Pulhin which collected P43.82 million collection, P3.9 million or 9.87 percent more than the target of P39.889 million, Iriga City led by Ma. Luisa Belen, with P29.1 million, P800,000 or 2.83 percent more than its goal of P18.319 million and, Daet, Camarines Norte headed by Nemesia Diano, which collected P39.28 million, 1.45 percent more than its goal of P38.725 million.

Tabule said she is continuously encouraging the RDOs to sustain their collection strategies and come up with more tax initiatives that may be applicable in their respective jurisdictions to sustain their good performance.

“We need these taxes to help the national government operate according to the development programs of the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III that are focused on countryside development, poverty alleviation and efficient delivery of basic services,” she stressed.(PNA) GHG/LQ/DOC/CBD

Robredo’s bust to rise in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 30 (PNA) -- Apart from naming a major coastal road in Masbate City as Jesse M. Robredo Boulevard, a bust of the late secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will also rise along the same road near the crash site where he perished over a week ago.

“We received some suggestions and even demands from Masbateños insisting that we should not be contented with only naming the Masbate Boulevard in his honor. They want the image of Sec. Robredo sculptured and placed in a monument along this coastal road facing the direction of the sea where he died several meters away,” City Councilor Bert Abayon said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuason had already approved the project which unlike the renaming of Masbate Boulevard to Jesse M. Robredo Boulevard no longer needs to undergo legislative proceedings to be implemented, Abayon said.

Section 13 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991 says that “the sanggunians of component cities and municipalities may, in consultation with the Philippine Historical Commission, change the name of city, municipal and barangays roads, avenues, boulevards, thoroughfares and bridges within its territorial jurisdiction”.

Under this provision, he said an ordinance changing the name of Masbate Boulevard to Jesse Robredo Boulevard so that the name of the late DILG Secretary and his good works are remembered up to the next local generations is required and “we are already in the process of passing it”.

“Masbateños really wanted to retain the memories of Secretary Robredo whom they look up as a modern day hero and icon of a dignified and efficient public servant,” Abayon said.

The Robredo bust will be placed on a monument along the soon to be Jesse M. Robredo Boulevard that stretches along the eastern coastline of the city covering four densely populated barangays. The area is about 500 meters from the sea site where Robredo’s body and that of the two pilots were found.

The four-seater Piper Seneca private plane supposed to take Robredo home to Naga City from Cebu crashed in the afternoon of August 18 after reportedly developing an engine trouble.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is now conducting investigations on the plane crash to determine its cause.

President Benigno Aquino III has ordered a thorough investigation of the incident to find out if it was caused by human error or technical problem.

The people of Masbate, according to Abayon would best remember Robredo for his efforts as head of the DILG in introducing to local governments reforms toward good governance, sound fiscal management, corruption-free administration and proper delivery of basic social services, among other aspects of local development.

Masbate people are also aware how the late DILG chief worked so hard to reconcile warring local political camps and those efforts, Abayon said are now gaining grounds toward a peaceful province once known for its intense political rivalries that saw the bloody fall of several prominent public figures in series of politically motivated killings in the past.

For Masbateños, he said Robredo is a national hero because he is recognized as an epitome of a perfect leader and public servant loved by many Filipinos who admired his leadership as Naga City mayor for 18 years and the dramatic reforms he instituted as DILG secretary for two years.

With these bust and boulevard named after Robredo, Abayon said Masbate will be taking the pride of being the first all over the country to put up landmarks in his honor. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/CBD/

Sen. Escudero welcomes appointment of Mar Roxas as DILG head

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 31 (PNA) -- Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero said he welcomes the appointment of Transportation and Communication Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas as the new Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary.

Escudero said Roxas is capable of running the DILG and continue the programs and reforms initiated by former Sec. Jess M. Robredo.

Escudero, in an interview at a local radio station here on Friday, said he is optimistic that Roxas, with his competence, would perform well in delivering the services of the DILG.

DILG is overseeing the operations of the local government units, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM).

Roxas accepted the challenge to head the DILG post. Cavite Rep.Joseph EA Abaya will take the post he will vacate at the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

Both Roxas and Abaya are Liberal Party stalwarts; Roxas the LP president and Abaya, the party’s secretary general.

With the inclusion of Abaya to the Cabinet there would be three LP stalwarts under the PNoy administration, Roxas at DILG, Abaya DOTC and Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).(PNA) GHG/LQ/MSA/CBD/

Army troopers allegedly abduct a farmer in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 30 (PNA) -- Suspected army soldiers allegedly abducted a farmer in barangay Balocawe, a hinterland village off Matnog in Sorsogon, an official of Karapatan Bicol said Thursday.

Vince Casilihan, Karapatan Bicol spokesperson said Nilo Garalde, 27, of barangay Majumlad, Matnog, Sorsogon was abducted while gathering copra on Wednesday .

Casilihan, in a text message, said Garalde was with his uncle and cousin when 16 patrolling Army soldiers accosted them and collared Geralde. His uncle and cousin managed to flee.

“We are still looking where he might have been brought by his captors, we don’t know whether he is still alive,” Casilihan said.

Asked to comment on the Karapatan report Army Maj. Angelo Guzman, 9th Infantry Division spokesperson, in a phone interview said, a platoon of soldiers were indeed on security operation in said village.

Guzman quoting a report from Army Col. Theody Toribio, commander of the 31st Army Battalion in Juban Sorsogon confirmed that the Army troopers indeed confronted Garalde for regular security assessment.

According to Toribio his men let go of Garalde after he was asked a few questions.

Toribio denied the allegation of Casilihan that his men abducted Garalde. Hedirected his men to assist in locating him.(PNA) GHG/LQ/MSA/CBD/

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Local publication moves Bicol students into writing on Robredo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 29 (PNA) -- Bicol Harvest Magazine, a local publication based in Daet, Camarines Norte is moving Bicol college and high school students into writing articles in honor of the late Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Jesse Robredo.

Daet Mayor Tito Sarion, the magazine publisher, in a statement, said the articles which should be written in essay form would be the entry of its authors to the “Bicol 2012 Essay Writing Competition on the Living Legacy of Secretary Jesse Robredo” the publication is sponsoring.

Sarion said the contest, undertaken in cooperation with the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership is very timely to honor the late secretary who inspires many local leaders in the country, as such various sectors of the society had considered him as one good man in the public service.

Kaya Natin! Movement is a civil society group advocating good governance that seeks to continue the legacy left behind by Robredo.

Founded by Robredo in 2002, and organized at the Ateneo de Manila University, his alma mater, Kaya Natin! is a movement composed of good Filipinos from different sectors of society that aim to espouse genuine change and ethical leadership in the country, according to Sarion.

It aims to promote genuine and lasting change in government by promoting transparency, social accountability, people empowerment and electoral reforms.

By upholding these values and principles, Sarion said Kaya Natin! hopes to help make the government and the country’s leaders more responsive to the needs of the Filipino people and enable it to deliver basic services to those who need it most in the most efficient and effective way.

Sarion said this essay writing contest will continue Robredo’s advocacy “as we preserve and live out his legacy. We hope to be able to continue to share his life and his work to more people and hopefully influence more local government officials to be able to follow his lead.”

The competition will also be in coordination with the regional offices of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The contest, with the theme “The Living Legacy of Secretary Jesse Robredo," aims to honor the late Naga City mayor and DILG secretary for his achievements in service and attract youth participants to motivate them to choose the right path, Sarion said.

Apart from prizes, the winning essay will be published in the Bicol Harvest, a magazine for sustainable development of the Bicol region and the country, Sarion said.

The conduct of the region-wide contest will be facilitated by the regional offices of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and the DILG that are both based in this city, the center for education in Bicol.

Participants will be secondary and tertiary students endorsed by their respective schools. Winners will receive cash prizes as well as tokens from corporate sponsors like the SM Naga.

The contest will take off during its launching set on September 21 at the Heritage Center in Daet which will be capped by the signing of a memorandum of agreement among the Bicol Harvest, Kaya Natin! Movement and corporate sponsors. Awarding of winners will be on December 8 at the SM Naga City, according to Sarion. (PNA) FPV/LQ/DOC/CBD/

Legazpi hosts seminar on tourism and climate change
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug 23 (PNA) -- Participants to the three-day seminar on the first Philippine Tourism Conference on Climate Change Adaptation (PTCCCA) being at held at The Oriental Hotel started to arrive here Thursday.

The city government through the Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development Inc., (LCCAD) hosts the event that will run until August 25. It is expected to draw 3,000 guests, Mayor Geraldine Rosal said.

The opening of the PTCCCA coincided with the Ibalong Street Carnival, a socio-cultural celebration commemorating the mythical past of the city.

Participants to the event will tackle Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) strategies with focused on the tourism industry as a significant growth area for countryside to national economic development.

They are composed mostly of stakeholders in climate resilience policy, key government agencies, development planners, scientists, business enterprises, community organizers and tourism industry movers.

The activity would showcase the benefits of the nation’s economy from tourism, conference director and LCCAD president Manuel Rangasa explained, adding that this new advocacy complements government efforts on CCA and the new Climate Change Risks Management strategies (CCRM).

Rangasa said the participants would be the modern CCA ‘heroes’ that ought to be molded within the premises of the conference which is the expected outcome of this historic and first of a kind gathering in the country.

The LCCAD, along with The Philippine EpiCentre Climate Change Magazine, both non-government organizations (NGOs) composed of experienced community adaptation practitioners (CAPs) in the country are the prime entities assisting the government in the conduct of the conference.

He also said that the campaign on eco-cultural tourism which is a new platform that includes tourism industry as a focus of the global CCA formally takes off as part of the series of activities in line with the CCA mainstreaming policy of Pres. Aquino being implemented through the Climate Change Commission (CCC).

This is also 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.

Rangasa said the campaign works under a very strong collaboration between the government and the cross section of society through the public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives.

President Aquino is invited to keynote the conference that also aims to find solutions to the disastrous effects of extreme weather events like the recent floods that hit Metro Manila and the nearby provinces.

Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, hopes to include the result of the PTCCCA in the framework plans to address the massive flooding that hit Manila recently.

Based on a study of Dr. Fernando Siringan, an expert at the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, massive flooding occur in Metro Manila even with the absence of typhoon because it is “sinking.”

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 Sec. Herminio “Sonny” Coloma, the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) public awareness monitoring cluster head.(PNA) LQ/DOC/cbd/

Masbate coastal road to be named after Robredo
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug 29 (PNA) -- Masbate Boulevard, the three-kilometer concrete coastal road in Masbate City, will soon be changed to Jesse Robredo Boulevard in honor of the late Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) head who perished in a plane accident near the area last August 18.

The local legislative council of that city is now working on it, the regional office here of the DILG on Wednesday said.

According to Blandino Maceda, the DILG regional director for Bicol, he was recently consulted by a member of the Masbate City Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) over the matter and he said “go ahead”.

He explained that under Section 13 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, “the sanggunians of component cities and municipalities may, in consultation with the Philippine Historical Commission, change the name of city, municipal and barangays roads, avenues, boulevards, thoroughfares and bridges within its territorial jurisdiction”.

Masbate City Councilor Bert Abayon in a telephone interview Wednesday said all members of the SP have agreed to jointly sponsor an ordinance changing the name of Masbate Boulevard to Jesse Robredo Boulevard so that the name of the late DILG Secretary and his good works are remembered up to the next local generations.

“Masbate loved Jesse very much because of his efforts as head of the DILG in introducing to our local governments reforms toward good governance, sound fiscal management, corruption-free administration and proper delivery of basic social services, among other aspects of local development,” Abayon said.

Masbate people are also aware how the late DILG chief worked so hard to reconcile warring local political camps and those efforts, Abayon said, are now gaining grounds toward a peaceful province once known for its intense political rivalries that saw the bloody fall of several prominent public figures in series of politically motivated killings in the past.

“Jesse Robredo is a national hero because he is recognized as an epitome of a perfect leader and public servant loved by many Filipinos who admired his leadership as Naga City mayor for 18 years and the dramatic reforms he instituted as DILG secretary for two years,” he said.

With that, Abayon said Masbate will be very proud to be the first all over the country in naming one of its most important landmarks in honor of Robredo.

Built about 10 years ago, Masbate Boulevard is a paved coastal road that stretches three kilometers from Barangay Ibingay to Barangay Nursery at the southeastern section of the city about 500 meters from the site where the four-seater Piper Seneca private plane crashed while taking Robredo home to Naga City from Cebu last Aug 18.

Robredo and two pilots perished in the accident and their remains were recovered from the aircraft’s wreckage found two days after intense search, rescue and retrieval operations not far from the boulevard.

Abayon said he is principally authoring the proposed ordinance which he will file during the next SP session and “I am confident it will be passed and approved at once”.

Under the proposed measure, Abayon said arcs bearing the name Jesse M. Robredo Boulevard will be erected at the two ends of the road that covered four of the most densely populated barangays of the city as a testament of recognition of the goodness of the late DILG secretary.

The city councilor said that the process of changing the name of the boulevard will go through a public hearing and it is expected that no opposition from Masbateños will crop up to block the measure.

Jamon Espares, the chief of staff of former House Deputy Speaker Emilio Espinosa Jr. who was behind the construction of the boulevard said in another phone interview that he will be among the many Masbateños who would attend the public hearing and express support to its approval “so that the memory of Robredo lingers among us”.

Abayon said they are also soliciting the reaction of the family of Robredo especially his widow, lawyer Leni Robredo and their three children.

“We hope they will agree with us because it intends to extend the legacy and the good deeds of the late Cabinet secretary. The move in changing the name of Masbate Boulevard to Jesse M. Robredo Boulevard will also serve as the expression of gratitude of Masbateños with prayers that whoever replaces him in the Cabinet will have the same heart as with the late secretary and his campaign for good governance among local and national leaders is pursued,” Abayon added. (PNA) LAM/LQ/DOC/CBD/

Masbate coastal road to be named after Robredo
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug 29 (PNA) -- Masbate Boulevard, the three-kilometer concrete coastal road in Masbate City, will soon be changed to Jesse Robredo Boulevard in honor of the late Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) head who perished in a plane accident near the area last August 18.

The local legislative council of that city is now working on it, the regional office here of the DILG on Wednesday said.

According to Blandino Maceda, the DILG regional director for Bicol, he was recently consulted by a member of the Masbate City Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) over the matter and he said “go ahead”.

He explained that under Section 13 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, “the sanggunians of component cities and municipalities may, in consultation with the Philippine Historical Commission, change the name of city, municipal and barangays roads, avenues, boulevards, thoroughfares and bridges within its territorial jurisdiction”.

Masbate City Councilor Bert Abayon in a telephone interview Wednesday said all members of the SP have agreed to jointly sponsor an ordinance changing the name of Masbate Boulevard to Jesse Robredo Boulevard so that the name of the late DILG Secretary and his good works are remembered up to the next local generations.

“Masbate loved Jesse very much because of his efforts as head of the DILG in introducing to our local governments reforms toward good governance, sound fiscal management, corruption-free administration and proper delivery of basic social services, among other aspects of local development,” Abayon said.

Masbate people are also aware how the late DILG chief worked so hard to reconcile warring local political camps and those efforts, Abayon said, are now gaining grounds toward a peaceful province once known for its intense political rivalries that saw the bloody fall of several prominent public figures in series of politically motivated killings in the past.

“Jesse Robredo is a national hero because he is recognized as an epitome of a perfect leader and public servant loved by many Filipinos who admired his leadership as Naga City mayor for 18 years and the dramatic reforms he instituted as DILG secretary for two years,” he said.

With that, Abayon said Masbate will be very proud to be the first all over the country in naming one of its most important landmarks in honor of Robredo.

Built about 10 years ago, Masbate Boulevard is a paved coastal road that stretches three kilometers from Barangay Ibingay to Barangay Nursery at the southeastern section of the city about 500 meters from the site where the four-seater Piper Seneca private plane crashed while taking Robredo home to Naga City from Cebu last Aug 18.

Robredo and two pilots perished in the accident and their remains were recovered from the aircraft’s wreckage found two days after intense search, rescue and retrieval operations not far from the boulevard.

Abayon said he is principally authoring the proposed ordinance which he will file during the next SP session and “I am confident it will be passed and approved at once”.

Under the proposed measure, Abayon said arcs bearing the name Jesse M. Robredo Boulevard will be erected at the two ends of the road that covered four of the most densely populated barangays of the city as a testament of recognition of the goodness of the late DILG secretary.

The city councilor said that the process of changing the name of the boulevard will go through a public hearing and it is expected that no opposition from Masbateños will crop up to block the measure.

Jamon Espares, the chief of staff of former House Deputy Speaker Emilio Espinosa Jr. who was behind the construction of the boulevard said in another phone interview that he will be among the many Masbateños who would attend the public hearing and express support to its approval “so that the memory of Robredo lingers among us”.

Abayon said they are also soliciting the reaction of the family of Robredo especially his widow, lawyer Leni Robredo and their three children.

“We hope they will agree with us because it intends to extend the legacy and the good deeds of the late Cabinet secretary. The move in changing the name of Masbate Boulevard to Jesse M. Robredo Boulevard will also serve as the expression of gratitude of Masbateños with prayers that whoever replaces him in the Cabinet will have the same heart as with the late secretary and his campaign for good governance among local and national leaders is pursued,” Abayon added. (PNA) LAM/LQ/DOC/CBD/

Lawmen seize P2.7M pirated CDs in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug 29 (PNA) -- Lawmen swooped down over the week on Sorsogon stores and seized over P2.7 million worth of pirated audio-video optical disks illegally being sold to the public.

In a report released to the media here Wednesday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office based at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here, said a total of 5,455 pieces of illegally-produced pre-recorded compact disks (CDs), digital video disks (DVDs) and video compact disks (VCDs) were confiscated in a series of raids on stores in the municipalities of Bulan and Matnog.

Chief Supt. Jose Arne de los Santos, police regional director for Bicol, said the raids that found at least nine stores in the two municipalities selling the contraband were conducted by a joint team of operatives from the Sorsogon Provincial Public Safety Company, the local police and representatives from the Optical Media Board (OMB).

The items confiscated placed at a total cost of P2,727,500 were being sold in violation to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9239 or the Optical Media Act of 2003 that prohibits and penalizes with fines and imprisonment the sale or distribution of such optical media commodities, De los Santos said.

Sorsogon PNP provincial director Senior Supt. John Jambora said criminal charges have already been filed before local courts against the owners of the establishments in Bulan and Matnog where the pirated materials were confiscated.

When found guilty, these businessmen may be penalized with imprisonment of at least three years but not exceeding six years and fined with an amount not less than P500,000 but not more than P1.5 million depending on the discretion of the court including cancellation of business permits.(PNA) LAM/LQ/DOC/CBD/

500 more policemen deployed to Naga City for Robredo's funeral rites
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 28 (PNA) -- At least 500 more members of the Philippine National Police from Camp General Simeon Ola here were deployed Tuesday to Naga City to provide security and crowd control to the funeral rites of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, a police official said.

Senior Superintendent Renato Bataller, Bicol police spokesman, said the 500 policemen were temporarily pulled- out from their units in Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, and the regional command inside Camp Ola here.

Bataller said the additional force would be augmenting the existing almost 2,000 policemen deployed since the start of the wake and vigil of the late DILG chief at the Archbishop's Palace, the City Hall, the Basilica Minore.

"Our high ranking officials instructed us to deploy enough number of PNP personnel in order to ensure the safety of those who will join the funeral rites of Secretary Jess. In fact, we are anticipating big number of people who will be coming to Naga City to personally witness the last vigil and final ceremonies to be accorded to our beloved Bicolano son," Bataller said.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, President Aquino is expected to confer to Secretary Jess the posthumous Philippine Legion of Honor Award with rank as Chief Commander.

The late DILG chief's body will be cremated at the Funeraria Imperial in Naga City in the afternoon.

The urn will be displayed inside the Eternal Garden cemetery located about 800 meters away from the Basilica Minore.(PNA) FPV/LQ/SMT/CBD

Salceda not seriously considering DILG portfolio
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAPI CITY, Aug. 28 (PNA) -- Albay Governor Joey Salceda is not taking seriously reports that include him in the shortlist of possible replacements to the late Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Robredo, whose remains were set to be cremated Tuesday, died in a plane accident along with the two pilots of the private aircraft that was supposed to take him home to Naga City from Cebu last August 18.

“Malista lang (just being listed) is already an honor especially since I idolize him (Robredo) like a guiding star. Thanks anyway, but Jesse Robredo is a tough act to follow. His shoes are just too large to fill in,” Salceda said in a statement posted on his Facebook account, acknowledging published reports on his being shortlisted for the vacated post.

Salceda is presently in Switzerland seated in the 24-man Green Climate Fund (GCF) board of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which held its first meeting in Geneva from August 23 to 25.

Salceda won the seat in the GCF after he was endorsed by President Benigno Aquino III to Dr. Mohammad Salim Al Sabban, Coordinator of the Asia Pacific regional group of the UNFCCC.

The seat in the GCF comes as an additional responsibility for the Albay governor who is recognized as a global champion in climate change adaptation and a member of the Philippine Delegation to the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC since 2006 up to the present.

Representing the developing countries in the Asia Pacific Region including the Philippines, Salceda, shared seat with the other regional representatives from Africa, Asian-Pacific, Latin America, the Carribean; Australia, New Zealand; Denmark, Netherlands, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and USA.

Awarded as the first United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Senior Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change, Salceda is also a member of the Regional Development Committee of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and of the Council of Advisers of League of Provinces of the Philippines.

Others in the shortlist of possible Robredo replacement, reports said, are Vice President Jejomar Binay, Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas, Department of Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya and Senator Panfilo Lacson.

DILG is one of the most sensitive departments of the executive branch as its functions range from supervision over local government units, forest conservation, public instructions, control and supervision over the police, counterinsurgency, rehabilitation, community development and cooperative development programs.

Expressions of support and comments from Albayanos surfaced on various social networking sites after Salceda was reported of being shortlisted for the DILG portfolio.

Lina Asaytuno said: "Gov, you are the right person for the job. We are proud of you”.

Rowena Miller: “It's a tough job and you are tougher, you can do it, Gov! Oragon baga an Bicolano!"

Thelma Atos-Uy: “I'm selfish, Gov. Much as I want you to be the new DILG secretary, I'd rather want you to stay put in Albay. There's so much more to be done. Please don't leave...not until Albay is the number 1 province in the country... and I believe you can do it! The Albayanos have great faith in you! God bless you, sir!"(PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/CBD/

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

DA braces for rice grain bug attack in Bicol farms
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Aug 28, (PNA) -- The Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based here is vigilant against a new rice pest called Rice Grain Bug (RGB) that is far more notorious and damaging than any other rice bugs.

RCPC chief Evangeline de la Trinidad on Tuesday said RGB was first discovered in Bicol when it wreak havoc on rice fields in Dimasalang, Masbate in 2011 then, in Ragay, Camarines Sur during the onset of summer this year.

This new bug, she explained, is very agile thus can easily evade chemical spraying by staying on the upper side or underneath the leaves.

“They stay on upper portion of rice plants even in intense sunlight and can also thread on water or stay in stubbles,” De la Trinidad said.

Earlier findings reveal that these bugs are oval in body shape, shiny and lay reddish brown eggs along midrib of palay plant leaves that produce slender and brown-green nymphs that along with adult bugs feed on grains at the milking stage.

High RGB populations are influenced by factors such as nearby woodlands, extensive weedy areas near rice fields, wild grasses near irrigation canals and staggered rice planting.

The insect also becomes active when the monsoonal rains begin while warm weather, overcast skies and frequent drizzles favor its population buildup.

During surveillance and observation conducted by the RCPC along with national technical teams of the DA in Ragay rice fields last April, she said it was observed that RGB usually emerged between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon and damaged mostly the rice panicles.

Palay grains sucked by RGB, De la Trinidad said were observed to have discolored, unfilled and become infested with molds.

An after-harvest report on the infested field submitted later by Ragay municipal agricultural technologist Teresita Bravo revealed disturbing facts: 40 to 80 percent reduction in palay yield.

In her report to the RCPC, Bravo shared the experience of a farmer in one rice producing barangay of the municipality who complained that following an RGB attack, he was able to harvest only 14 sacks of palay from his half-hectare farm where he previously harvested 70 sacks without the pest.

Worse, rice recovery from the remaining palay was also dismally affected as when milled, Bravo reported, only 10 to 12 kilos of rice were recovered from each sack that usually yields 25 to 30 kilos under a normal rice recovery rate of about 60 percent.

Moreover, the rice grains were cracked and tasted bitter when cooked owing to the molds developed by the infestation.

These mean, according to De la Trinidad, that rice farms in Bicol earlier attacked by RBG were practically rendered totally unproductive.

Those experiences have been properly documented and now being made basis of researches and studies by the DA that expect to find solutions to this new pest problem.

And while concrete solutions are yet to be developed by government pest control experts, De la Trinidad said the RCPC along with the DA Regional Field Unit (RFU) for Bicol headed by Regional Executive Director Jose Dayao and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) is staying vigilant against it and ready with some damage mitigating measures.

Part of these measures is the recent conduct of the RGB awareness and management seminar-workshop held at the RFU training hall and participated in by farm technicians and farmers from the six provinces and seven cities of Bicol.

In the gathering, De la Trinidad said massive monitoring and information dissemination on this new rice pest was put in place with participation from all farm communities across the region.

“Prompt reporting of any sign of RGB build-up has been arranged in the seminar to be applied in the field so that immediate damage control measures are instituted,” she said.

Municipal Agricultural Offices have also been placed on alert and instructed to closely monitor rice fields in their areas and submit a specimen of pest they suspect as RGB as early detection is crucial to its control.

“We do this however without loosening our guard against other pests such as rodents, rice black bug, tungro, golden kuhol, armyworms and brown hoppers as the prevailing rainy season does not only brings more water but also these plagues,” De la Trinidad stressed.

Crop protection is a vital component in rice production as 35 percent of yield loss is attributed to insect pests and diseases occurrence, she said adding that often, the problem are not insects but the imbalance in the ecosystem which allow these insects to multiply.

Insects, she explained are only indicators of this environmental situation so that farmers must learn to detect the factors that disturb the insects such as continuous cropping, indiscriminate use of pesticide and asynchronous planting. (PNA) FPV/LQ/DOC/CBD/

Friday, August 24, 2012

Retrieval operations in Masbate officially terminated

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 23 (PNA) --Task Force Kalihim officially announced on Thursday that search and retrieval operations is now terminated following the recovery at around 7:45 this morning of the body of Nepalese student pilot Kchitiz Chand, the last missing passenger of the ill-fated twin-engine Piper Seneca plane that crashed off in Masbate waters last Saturday.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said he already ordered to go back to their headquarters all units of the Armed Forces of the Phillippines (AFP), who actively took part in the five-day search, rescue and retrieval operations of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robrero and the two pilots.

Gazmin said that because it was low tide, the Navy team was only able to bring the pilot's body at around 8:30 a.m. to the shoreline fronting the command post in Barangay Ibingay in Masbate City.

"With all the missing accounted for and the plane's wreckage retrieved, we will terminate all the operations and resume all our regular tasks which we temporarily suspended to give way for the rescue then retrieval operations," the DND Chief said.

He also expressed gratitude to all the local and foreign divers, the rescue teams from government and private entities, and the officials of Masbate for providing the needed logistics during the five-day massive search, rescue and retrieval efforts that started last Sunday.

Gazmin said that with the recovery of all the missing passengers and the termination of the retrieval efforts, the plane's wreckage would now be formally turned over to the custody of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to determine what triggered the plane crash.

"From here, CAAP will now takeover to formally conduct thorough investigation why the plane owned by the Aviatour company crashed," he said.

Government rescuers and the volunteers, however, decided decided to stay for another night today to attend a thanksgiving for the successful operations despite the danger and difficulties that they had withstood.

In Naga City, family and relatives of Secretary Robredo were inclined to cremate his body instead of the usual practice of burying it.

Robredo family's spokesman Councilor Jun Lavadia said the idea of cremation is considered as a likely option so that his urn could just be kept inside their residence.

"Cremation is a likely option for Secretary Jess' family and relatives," Lavadia said.

Even Robredo's brother Butch said that cremation is his sibling's wish while alive, adding that his wife Leni could have been told by the Secretary himself long before.

"I heard before that my brother Jess wanted that his body be cremated once he dies. His wife will probably abide by this wish," Butch said.

Lavadia said that Robredo's coffin would be toured to the different barangays located within the city proper once it is brought back to Naga City from Malacañang on Sunday.

"We will do this because this is what Secretary Jess was used to be doing during his incumbency as Naga City mayor for 19 years," Lavadia said.

Robredo's casket was not allowed to be opened. It was instead wrapped by the Philippine flag with his framed sketch on top for public viewing at the Good Shepherd Chapel inside the Archbishop's Palace in Naga City. (PNA) LGI/LQ/SMT/CBD

(Update)Naga continues to grieve the loss of its son
By Sarah C. Imperial

NAGA CITY, Aug. 23 (PNA) -- More mourners pack the grounds of the Archbishop Palace day two of the wake for former Interior and Local Government secretary Jesse M. Robredo and there is no sign of letting up.

People from all walks of life lined up to bow or offer a prayer for the secretary who lies in state inside a flag-draped bronze coffin at the Palace. Most of them lingered to hear the mass celebrated four times a day.

On Wednesday afternoon,the Ateneans' sponsored a march from the secretary's alma mater to the Palace where another mass will be celebrated. Also joining in are Atty. Leni's schoolmates from the Universidad de Sta. Isabel.

Elderly women would approach Atty. Leni Gerona Robredo, wife of the secretary, many of them weeping and saying why they are saddened by what happened. "He helped me when my son was in the hospital," one woman in her 60s told Mrs. Robredo.

Yellow ribbons adorned vehicles, lampposts, trees and gates. Even pedicabs are adorned with yellow ribbons tied on their sidecars.

Mass cards are flowing in as well as resolutions of condolences.Flowers filled the pathway to the Archbishop's compound prompting Atty. Leni to request the public that in lieu of flowers, a donation to her late husband's favorite charities will be appreciated.

In her presscon this morning, Atty. Leni said her husband's death seemed to her like "God's reward for the good things he has done."

She did not question God for his death. "I know he was prepared to meet the Lord. He goes to confession two to three times every month. He has been saying "he is already quotang quota, his cup is overflowing and he no longer dreams for himself. Just for his daughters."

While they knew that her husband was loved by the people of Naga, she is happy to feel and see that he has touched so many lives and overwhelmed by the expressions of love from so many people all over the country, even all over the world.

"Jess used to say with some frustration, may epekto ba ang ginagawa ko?" Looking now at the tributes and expressions of sympathy pouring; in the place where he lies in state, at the tri media, the internet; Leni said "maybe what he did had indeed impact on people's lives."

Bicolanos predict a toned down Penafrancia festivities this year with the loss of her loyal devotee and much loved son of Naga where the feast is concentrated every year. The feast of Bicol's patroness is celebrated every September.

The late secretary was a devotee of Ina, Bicolanos' term of endearment for the miraculous patroness. "He was a devotee of Ina since he was 16 years old. Every year without fail, Jess joined the processions during the festivities," said Mrs. Robredo.

In fact, photos of Sec. Jess showing him in the thick of the Traslacion and Fluvial processions have become viral in the social networks.

Asked where the family wants to bury the late secretary, Leni thanked the proponents of the move to bury the late secretary at the Libingan ng mga Bayani but added, "Jess would prefer to be buried here. This is his happy place."

Sec. Jesse Robredo's remains will be flown to Manila for viewing and memorial ceremonies at the Kalayaan Hall of the Malacanang Palace tomorrow. On Sunday, August 26, Naguenos will again welcome its favorite son in its arms until the cremation on Tuesday, Aug 28.

Cabinet secretaries Mar Roxas of DOTC, Bro. Armin Luistro of DepEd, Butch Abad of DBM, Teresita "Jing" Deles of the Peace Process Office, Senators TG Guingona, Francis Pangilinan, ex senator Jamby Madrigal, governors Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Chavit Singson of Ilocos Sur, Luis Raymund "LRay" Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, mayors from as far as Zamboanga to Legazpi City Mayor Geraldine Rosal and Tabaco City Mayor Crisel Lagman Luistro, with their officials were among the those present to condole with the family of Sec. Robredo.(PNA) SCI/CBD

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bicolanos bid goodbye, say thanks to Robredo
By Danny o. Calleja

NAGA CITY, Aug 22 (PNA) -- "Paalam Jess. Maraming salamat!," was the highly punctuated line among every Bicolanos familiar with the works and deeds of former Interior and Local Government secretary Jesse M. Robredo who also served the city as mayor for 18 years.

The people of Naga loved Robredo because of the very deep concern he had accorded them and for his being a truly simple man; approachable and ready to attend to their needs.

All around the city, billboards and streamers bearing the same line are displayed conspicuously, "We are grateful to Jesse and we are sending him off with good wishes."

"Jesse is the best for us and we don't see for now anybody who could match his accomplishments and quality as a public servant. But since he is already gone, all we can say now is "Goodbye Jesse and thank you very much!," a 62-year old market vendor, Maxima Tuazon, said.

At the height of the morning mass offered for the repose of Secretary Robredo this morning, the old lady isolated herself from the crowd in a corner of the Palace hall as she silently weeped over the death of Robredo whom she called her and her family's idol.

"I do not want other people to see me crying over Jesse's death because crying is an expression of weakness. All of us here wanted to be strong in accepting his tragic death," she said.

Local broadcaster Pax Rengalota, on the other hand said, "there is nothing more we can do now but to be strong in accepting that we lost another highly respected Bicolano leader who is looked upon as an epitome of good governance and inspiration for the entire Filipino nation as he takes the 'tuwid na daan' route being pursued by Pres. Aquino."

"We bid him goodbye and express our sincerest thanks to him for the greatness he had shown to us and to the entire country," he said.

Former Legaspi city mayor now city administrator Noel Rosal, for his part, said the city government looked up to Robredo as an inspiration of local governments towards good governance, dedication to public service and graft-free administration.

"Jesse is an icon of good local governance, that will stay forever with us. The Seal of Good Housekeeping and other citations he (Robredo) was accorded in recognition of its outstanding performances towards proper administration are lasting souvenirs that we will treasure forever" Rosal said adding, "Goodbye Jesse and thank you very much."

Cabinet secretaries attended the early morning mass held at the Palace Wednesday, the first day of the wake, officiated by Caceres Archbishop Leonardo Legazpi.

Among those present were Liberal Party stalwart Sen. Franklin Drilon, a partymate of Robredo, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad and Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang.

Robredo's remains were retrieved Tuesday morning from the plane wreckage over a hundred meter deep down the sea off the coast of Masbate City following an intensed two-day search and rescue operations that Pres. Benigno Aquino III personally supervised.

The President also escorted the body of his DILG secretary's when brought home from Masbate at noontime Tuesday. It now lies in a wake at the posh Archbishop Palace at the heart of this city.(PNA) ghg/LQ/DOC/cbd/

Naga people wait in grief to view idol's body
By Danny O. Calleja

NAGA CITY, Aug. 21 (PNA) -- Amidst grief, people here Tuesday night patiently awaited for the public viewing of the remains of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Jesse Robredo, after its arrival from Masbate early the afternoon.

Fron the Naga Airport in Pili, Camarines Sur, where the remains arrived on board a C-130 plane at 12:30 p.m., it was directly taken to Funeraria Imperial here for autopsy and other services. It was scheduled to be brought to the nearby Bishop's Palace at 11:00 p.m for a three-day wake before it is taken to Malacanang for the official vigil.

President Benigno Aquino III led the group that met Robredo's remains at the airport, where thousands of local residents flocked, hoping to take a glimpse at the body of their fallen idol who served as city mayor for 18 years devoid of any charge of corruption and abuse in service.

Public viewing of Robredo's body would be opened at the Bishop Palace. Not one from members of the family would give details including its place and schedule of burial.

Danilo Abad, a government employee here said the people of this city dear Robredo very much and his untimely death is considered a great loss to them.

"Idol s'ya ng masa dahil mahal n'ya ang mga ito at pinagsilbihan ng tapat at maayos (He is an idol of the masses because he loved them and served them sincerely and well)," Abad said of Robredo. (PNA)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

(Update)Robredo's body to be flown to Naga

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 21 (PNA) -- The body of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo will be flown to Naga City on board a C-130 plane hours after he was retrieved from the ruins of the ill-fated plane, reports reaching here said.Meanwhile, following the announcement of DOTC Sec. Mar Roxas that the body of Sec. Robredo has been found early Tuesday, his family went inside their house and privately shared their grief on the sad news.

Members of the media respected the family's privacy and just stayed out the house while waiting for any announcement from any member of the family.

Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Camarines Sur convened today to make a resolution expressing deepest sympathy for the demise of Secretary Robredo. (PNA)

Gloom pervades Masbate as searchers find Sec. Robredo’s body
By Danny O. Calleja

MASBATE CITY, Aug. 21 (PNA) -- An atmosphere of melancholy wrapped the entire city Tuesday after it was reported that Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo has been found dead inside the wreckage of the plane that crashed off the coast here Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of people abandoned their morning chores and rushed to the shoreline of Barangay Ibingay hoping to take a glimpse of the body of Bicol’s most admired political personality and one of the country’s most trusted luminaries.

“It’s so tragic that he died in our place this way. So sad for us here and the whole country to lose untimely an admirable man who is not even halfway of showing the entire Filipino nation how it is to be a truly good public servant and catalyst of good governance,” Laura Marcayda, a city hall employee, said as she joined a throng of villagers into the shore, most of them weeping in grief.

Robredo’s body was retrieved from the wreckage of the passenger pit of the chartered twin-engine, four-seater Piper Seneca plane that was supposed to take him and his aide-de-camp police Senior Insp. Don Abrazado from Cebu to his hometown in Naga City Saturday afternoon.

The plane owned by the Aviatour Flight School based in Cebu and manned by veteran pilot Capt. Jessup Bahinding and his Nepalese co-pilot Kshitiz Chand was reported to have developed an engine trouble minutes after take-off and plunged into the Masbate Bay before reaching the Masbate airport for an emergency landing.

Abrazado survived the crash with minor injuries as he was reportedly able to jump off the plane before crashing into the sea and was rescued by passing fishermen.

Immediately after the incident, local officials initiated rescue operations participated in by fishermen and divers until the fall of night darkness to no avail.

On the next day, search and rescue operations resumed, involving Navy and other technical divers with President Benigno Aquino III flying in to here to personally oversee the more coordinated operations, tapping at the same time coastal villagers who eagerly participated in scouring the crash site and hundreds others flocking the coastlines waiting for developments.

Masbate provincial board member Jamon Espares said that at night, when search and rescue operations had to be suspended, villagers here and along the coastline of the opposite island of Ticao would set bonfires at the shore to serve as guide in case Robredo and the pilots would be swimming toward safety.

Some villagers lighted candles as they held vigils at the beach, praying for the lives of Robredo and the pilots, Espares said.

“Robredo is really a darling for Masbateños for his ideal leadership as mayor of Naga City for 18 years and secretary of the DILG for over two years under the administration of President Noynoy Aquino. All of us here wanted him found alive all those hours that search and rescue operations were ongoing,” he said.

Espares said Robredo with his track record as a “clean” public official is known to Masbateños as a strong advocate of good local governance whose programs for the DILG speak well of the “Tuwid na Daan” direction of the Aquino administration.

“Jesse Robredo is a true icon of 'tuwid na daan' and his untimely death is a big loss to Bicolanos, to the country and to the administration,” he added.

It was after two days of intense search and rescue operations that the wreckage of the ill-fated plane with Robredo’s and that of the two pilots’ body inside was found lying inverted on the floor of the Masbate Sea with a depth of 180 feet. The plane fuselage was discovered 7:35 a.m. Tuesday and Robredo's body was retrieved 8:15 am.

Since Robredo’s body was at the passenger section of the plane, divers found it easier to retrieve, according to Transportation and Communication Secretary Mar Roxas who was designated spokesman for the operations here.

He said retrieval operations for the two pilots whose bodies were reported by divers to be inside the cockpit, were ongoing as of this writing.

The villagers who waited along the shoreline however were not able to see Robredo’s body as it arrived from the sea and taken to a local funeral parlor.

City Mayor Socrates Tuason said it would not also be offered for public viewing before it is flown to Naga City Tuesday as the DILG secretary’s remains are in "sensitive state" given its stay underwater for two days.

“Thousands here wanted to have a glimpse of their fallen idol but unfortunately, it would not be possible because of the present state of the body,” Tuason said.

He said Masbate local officials will be in Naga City to join thousands of Bicolano leaders and ordinary citizens who are expected to flock to the wake to pay tribute and final respect to Robredo. (PNA)

Monday, August 20, 2012

(Update) President Aquino creates Task Force Kalihim
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 20 (PNA) -- No less than President Aquino initiated the creation of Task Force Kalihim at the command center in the Lasala Hotel in Masbate City Monday.

This was formed to have a more coordinated search and rescue efforts to locate Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo who remained missing after their plane crashed into Masbate waters some 500 meters away from the Masbate Aiport on Saturday afternoon.

Aquino also ordered the Task Force officials to tap the help of the barangay officials in the coastal villages surrounding the crash site and the Ticao island in the search and rescue efforts.

The President also hinted that he would only leave the crash site should there be any positive developments in the on going search. He did not elaborate.

Col. Ogie Gaite, operations officer of Task Force Kalihim, said that aside from the two sonar gadgets already submerged under the crash site, a robotic offshore vehicle (ROV) was also borrowed from the US Navy and is expected to arrive in Masbate anytime Monday afternoon to augment the on going massive and expanded search and rescue activities.

Gaite said that helium and oxygen tanks were already airlifted into the crash site. "These tanks would be used by the divers in scouring the deeper portion of the crash site within the four-kilometer square grid of Ticao Pass," he explained.

Latest data showed that the plane's wreckage could have been carried away by strong current up to two kilometers towards the southeast direction of Ticao island.

"This means that the search area becomes wider. And an area like this is not very easy to scour," Gaite explained.

Transportation Sec. Mar Roxas said that the exact place where the flight manifest was retrieved could help a lot in determining the possible location of the wreckage.

The flight manifest was found some 300 meters away from the Masbate City shoreline, at the depth of 150 feet."This could be used as marker in launching the new search efforts," Roxas stressed.

In Naga City, family members of Robredo have decided to break their silence and face the media in a short briefing at their residence in Barangay Dayangdang Monday.

Robredo's daughters Tricia and Aica and wife Leni told the media that they remain hopeful that the Secretary would be found alive. "Ganon pa rin hopeful pa rin kami hanggang ngayon na makikita siyang buhay. Pero realistic din kami sa anumang pwedeng nangyari."

"At labis kaming nagpapasalamat sa mga dasal. Gumagaan ang aming kalooban sa nakikita naming paghihintay ninyo sa kanya. Alam namin na talagang mahirap maghintay," Aica told reporters who waited for that briefing since Saturday. (PNA)

DSWD, NAPC launch UNDP-funded anti-poverty project in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 20 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) launched an UNDP-funded anti-poverty project which aims to benefit communities in calamity-prone areas in Bicol.

Dubbed “Expanding the Food and Income Base in Target Barangays in Calamity Prone Municipalities in Bicol,” it is envisioned to benefit residents of Albay and Sorsogon who are highly exposed to natural calamities like typhoon, flood, landslide and volcanic eruption.

Remia Tapispisan, the DSWD regional director, said Albay has been identified into the project given the huge number of families living near the foot of Mayon Volcano, suffering from scarcity of food and livelihood due to volcanic disasters and typhoons.

Thousands of families in Sorsogon province are similarly selected as beneficiaries because their residential and work places are oftentimes ravaged by natural disasters, Tapispisan added.

The town of Daraga and City of Ligao in Albay while the towns of Irosin and Sta. Magdalena in Sorsogon have been chosen as the pilot areas for the UNDP-funded project.

Both Daraga and Ligao are situated near the foot of Mt. Mayon with several of its barangays directly affected by volcanic eruptions and flashfloods while Irosin is within the high-risk area to disasters originating from Mt. Bulusan.

Magdalena sits along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean making it vulnerable to ocean surges and typhoons, Tapispisan explained.

The implementation of the project in these two provinces is covered by a memorandum of agreement (MOA) recently entered into among the DSWD, NAPC, UNDP, Farmers Community Development Foundation International (FCDF), National Nutrition Council (NNC) and Bicol University (BU).

FCDF president Dr. Ponciano Batugal, in a statement issued Monday, explained that the project aims to ensure food security, nutrition and income generation for its beneficiaries.

They will be given training and seminars to develop their capabilities to produce food and generate income, he explained.

The FCDF is a non-stock, non-profit, tax-exempt foundation.It's main objective is to promote the meaningful development of farmer communities in socio-economically depressed areas.

Among its role in the newly launched project is to undertake baseline studies to identify the development needs and the problems and opportunities of farming communities in developing countries.

The Foundation is also involved in the planning, sourcing of fund for its implementation and the mobilization of technical and financial resources to increase farm productivity, improve nutrition, promote employment and raise income levels in the rural communities.

For the project beneficiaries, he said FCDF would develop strategies and methodologies and harness resources for establishing village-level rural enterprises, starting them up and eventually transferring their management to the local people.

“We would also undertake the training of technical and managerial manpower and farmer clientele in the establishment and management of agri-based rural enterprises and adopt research and development models, strategies and systems in agriculture and natural resources,” Batugal said.

The Foundation will also broaden the areas for cooperative research and development work and undertaking between research agencies and the industries to strengthen the bond of partnership between them for the accelerated development of depressed village communities, he said.

Among the strategies in the implementation of the project, Batugal said, is the establishment of planting material production facilities and food security gardens by the beneficiaries who will organize themselves into food associations based in each barangay.

To ensure sustainability of the project, he said all beneficiaries will be trained on how to process and market their products. The farmers will also be provided with training on micro-edit management and values formation, he added.

According to Tapispisan, the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) has been incorporated into this new project wherein its primary beneficiaries are families who are also recipients of the 4Ps Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme.(PNA)

Albay parishes offer masses for Robredo's safety

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- Simultaneous masses were offered in Naga City for the safe return of Sec. Jessie Rodredo from Saturday's incidents. Masses were held at Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, Immaculate Parish Church and San Francisco Church in Naga.

Supporters are still coming at Robredo's residence, anticipating positive development from the on going search and rescue operation in Masbate.

DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, who is now at the residence of Robredo and has spoken with lawyer Leni Robredo, the secretary's wife.

One Huey helicopter and three PZL Sokols have been hoovering over Masbate Bay in an effort to locate the downed Piper Seneca plane that carried Robredo and the two pilots.

Two additional Hueys based in Lucena City are on its way to Masbate to augment the search and rescue operations. A C-130 is in Masbate airport on stand-by.

All the 4-p.m. Sunday masses in the parishes of Albay are being dedicated by the province for the safety the cabinet official, the comfort of his family, the fortitude of the rescuers and the peace of "an entire nation in anguish" in this period of uncertainty.

"I ask every Albayano to pray for that miracle for Jesse Robredo and to storm the gates of heaven so every angel would descend to protect him, Albay Governor Jose Sarte Salceda said.(PNA)

Albay parishes offer masses for Robredo's safety

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- Simultaneous masses were offered in Naga City for the safe return of Sec. Jessie Rodredo from Saturday's incidents. Masses were held at Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, Immaculate Parish Church and San Francisco Church in Naga.

Supporters are still coming at Robredo's residence, anticipating positive development from the on going search and rescue operation in Masbate.

DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, who is now at the residence of Robredo and has spoken with lawyer Leni Robredo, the secretary's wife.

One Huey helicopter and three PZL Sokols have been hoovering over Masbate Bay in an effort to locate the downed Piper Seneca plane that carried Robredo and the two pilots.

Two additional Hueys based in Lucena City are on its way to Masbate to augment the search and rescue operations. A C-130 is in Masbate airport on stand-by.

All the 4-p.m. Sunday masses in the parishes of Albay are being dedicated by the province for the safety the cabinet official, the comfort of his family, the fortitude of the rescuers and the peace of "an entire nation in anguish" in this period of uncertainty.

"I ask every Albayano to pray for that miracle for Jesse Robredo and to storm the gates of heaven so every angel would descend to protect him, Albay Governor Jose Sarte Salceda said.(PNA)

Friday, August 17, 2012

PNP intensifies campaign vs blast mining in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 17 (PNA) –- Small scale miners in the gold-rich town of Aroroy, Masbate have been resorting to the use of dynamites and the Philippine National Police (PNP) has intensified its campaign to stop the illegal and hazardous practice.

The practice, which according to recent reports is rampant in small gold mining sites in the municipality, is not only life-threatening to miners themselves but also to the environment as it affects ground stability and kills living organisms in the area, Bicol PNP regional director Chief Supt. Jose Arne de los Santos based at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here on Friday, said.

The reports came from some residents near the mining sites who are disturbed by the blasts and other people who are wary of its ill effects to the environment and the safety of the miners, according to De los Santos.

He said he had already instructed Masbate provincial police director Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit to totally stop the practice the soonest possible time and the actions taken by the local police have been yielding positive results.

A report submitted to the regional police office over the week by Olitoquit, De los Santos said about a dozen of miners in the area have been arrested and charged in court for illegal possession of explosives.

The Masbate PNP had also been conducting dialogues with the miners and suspected supplies of the explosives to warn them of the consequences of violating the law on its use, possession and selling and its bad effects, De los Santos said.

The campaign against blasting in small mining sites, he explained is under Executive Order No. 79 issued by President Benigno Aquino III which provides for new regulations covering small-scale mining operations.

Miners in Aroroy are using dynamites to blast to pieces rocks to recover raw gold ore particles embedded in it.

Records of the Masbate provincial government have it that there are around 20,000 individuals in Aroroy that are engaged in small-scale gold mining activities and most of them are illegal, being not registered and not in possession of permits from the local government.

Aroroy is considered as one of the richest in the country in terms of mineral resources that include gold, copper, silver, iron, manganese and chromites. Small-scale mining for gold and manganese in the area is said to be an over a billion-peso a year industry.

The Masbate provincial government under Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete is initiating measures for the legalization of operations to be able to collect taxes from its operators and so that they are placed under the jurisdiction of the local government which should monitor their activities.

De los Santos said the local PNP is helping the provincial government in legalizing the operations of all the small mining activities in the province not only for tax collection purposes but for life and environmental conservation.

On the part of law enforcement particularly against the use of explosives, a total ban had already been put in place by the local police, he added.

On the part of the provincial government’s effort to collect revenues from these ventures, Lanete has earlier said that it is only these small-scale mining activities that the local government could place it hands on as the large scale operations fall under the control of the national government, leaving its host governments only pittance out of its share from taxes and duties.

The governor was referring to 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.

Big mining companies in the Philippines, the FRC among them, remit to the government a very low share of two percent for extracting natural wealth and only 40 percent of this goes to the host local governments or communities, she said.

FRC acquired the MGP in 2007 to become the largest operating gold project in the Philippines, being successful in developing the area pouring during its first year of operations as of May 2009 over 150,000 ounces of gold out of the site’s total indicated resource base of 4.55 million ounces, total inferred resources of 3.22 million ounces and a probable mining reserve of 3.03 million ounces.

As of May 2008, records of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional office here say the mine has 135.33 metric tons (mts) at 0.96 gold per ton (g/t) of indicated resources, including 127.15 mts. with 0.79 g/t of inferred resources. These figures reflect an increase of 62 percent from the time of acquisition by the FRC.

In the whole of 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 also 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. (PNA)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

DSWD sends Masbate 4Ps beneficiaries to college
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 15 (PNA) -- The Aquino administration’s Student Grant-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA) being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is now taking care of the college education of dozens of students belonging to highly impoverished families in Masbate.

“This is a dream-come-true for me and my family. Without this scholarship grant, it would be impossible for me to get into college because my parents cannot afford it. My father, a marginal fisherman is lone bread winner and we are four children in the family, all in school now owing to the 4Ps,” 17-year old Celeste (not her real name) told the PNA on Wednesday.

Enrolled with the Bicol University (BU) here, Celeste who hails from the coastal town of Monreal, Masbate, is among the scholarship grantees from the province this year.

She said, she is doing all her best to finish her course in Education and work for her family afterwards so that they are freed from the bondage of poverty.

“Hindi ko po sasayangin ang napakagandang pagkakataon na ibinigay sa akin ng ating pamahalaan sa ilalim ni Presidente Noynoy Aquino tungo sa ikahahango ng aking pamilya sa kahirapan,” she stressed.

“We have 28 scholars who are members of families listed as beneficiaries to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) from Masbate. They are enrolled as first year students this school year with the BU,” Remia Tapispisan, the DWSD regional director for Bicol based here over the week said.

This school-year is the first year of the implementation of the scholarship program and Tapispisan said Masbate was given the first priority in the grant being the poorest province of the region where a total of 76,222 families, the biggest in the region as of last July, are covered by the 4Ps. This figure represents 87.89 percent of the total number of potential CCT recipients in the province.

“This current number of scholars is only initial as the DSWD is continuously recruiting more eligible and deserving students in the province and practically from all provinces in Bicol who would qualify into the SGP-PA and be enrolled with the opening of next school year,” she said.

To be eligible, a candidate must be a 4Ps beneficiary; not more than 30 years old at the time of selection; should be physically and mentally fit; a high school graduate and/or equivalent; no other higher education scholarship/grant from public institutions; passed the entrance exam and academic requirements set by the SUCs; passed the requirements set by the National SGP-PA Committee; and must enroll to priority programs in the leading SUCs most accessible from their residence.

SGP-PA, Tapispisan explained, is a nationwide anti-poverty scheme integrated by Pres. Aquino into the 4Ps but with separate funding taken this year from the P4.2 billion investments plugged into state universities and colleges (SUCs) across the country.

The educational grant is given P500 million this year that now support qualified students identified by the DSWD from the poorest families to complete a college degree. The grant program focuses on vulnerable youth who are unable to pursue college education to land on gainful employment.

The beneficiaries are directed to enroll in priority courses that include Information Technology; agriculture, fisheries and related fields; education; science and math; engineering; health services such as Pharmacy, Radiology and Medical Technology; arts and humanities; and atmospheric and environmental science.

Each student-grantee is entitled to a maximum of P60,000 scholarship grant per school year divided equally between two semesters covering tuition fees, textbooks and monthly allowance of P3,500. They are required to carry a full load per semester as prescribed in the curriculum and finish within the required period of the program.

They are also required to maintain a satisfactory academic performance in accordance with the policies and standards of the SUC and render a return service of two years after graduation in the Philippines except for highly critical courses determined by local industry and government services.

On the other hand, parents of the grantees have a responsibility in the implementation of the SGP-PA as well, though responsibilities are not new for them since they have already been trained to handle such while they were trying to comply with conditions set under the 4Ps, Tapispisan said.

These conditions include pre and post natal care for pregnant women, immunization, weighing and monthly health check-up for children and attendance to family development Sessions to continue receiving the P500 monthly health grant.

Their younger children should also be sent to school and comply with the 85 percent monthly classroom attendance to receive the P300 monthly education grant for a maximum of three children only, she added.

For the SGP-PA, the parents are required to sign the contract with the SUCs as the executor of the program and support their child as recipient of grants-in-aid towards completion of college students.

In addition, the parent or guardian should ensure that the related expenses and other incidental expenses for health and clothing shall be paid on time while the student should religiously attend classes and minimize absences and complete school requirements.

Furthermore, the parent or guardian must provide such other moral support and ensure that all the financial benefits directly received by the grantee are spent for all the legitimate purposes and on time.

Like in CCT program, Tapispisan said monitoring and evaluation is of utmost priority, taking into consideration that SPG-PA is a pilot project, thus, the National SGP-PA Committee compose of implementing agencies conducts spot checks in the implementation of the program in accordance with the guidelines developed for its purposes. (PNA) DCT/DOC/cbd/ebp

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

JICA to construct 6 evacuation buildings worth P400-M in Albay
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 15 (PNA) -- After the ground breaking ceremonies last week, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is expected to start the construction works this month of six evacuation buildings convertible into classrooms worth some P400 million in Albay's six pre-identified hazard vulnerable ares.

Japan's consul-general and deputy chief of mission Minister Motohiko Sato; Akio Yonezawa, second secretary of Japan Embassy; Takahiro Sasaki, JICA's chief representative; and Hayato Nakamura; JICA's project engineer led the ground breaking recently.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the evacuation and preparedness centers would be addition to the existing similar structures earlier constructed in Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan and Ligao City by the Spain-based Agencia Española Cooperacion International para el Desarollo (AECID) worth P500 million.

The evacuation-cum-classroom buildings are to be built inside the Libon Community College in Libon town; Polangui North Central School in Polangui town; Oas South Central School in Oas town; Manito Central School in Manito town; Sto. Domingo Central School in Sto. Domingo town; and Gogon Central School in Legazpi City, all disaster vulnerable areas in Albay.

The structures would augment the existing refuge centers of residents perennially displaced by natural disasters, such as the Mayon Volcano eruption, flooding, storm surge and landslides during heavy rains and typhoon season, Salceda said.

"Indeed, we are very thankful to JICA for extending a helping hand to us. But we believe our benefactors are assisting us because they can see that we are trying very hard to help ourselves," Salceda said.

Last July 4, no less than Queen Sofia of Spain visited their funded projects in Albay worth about half-a-billion pesos. (PNA) LAM/SMT/cbd/ebp

700 indigent families in Legaspi receive monthly sustenance
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 15 (PNA) -- Families who failed to qualify for the state's conditional cash transfer (CCT) started receiving their monthly subsistence of food, medicine and clothing, the city government announced Wednesday.

At least 700 families who belong to the poorest of the poor received their first supply of assistance today, Legazpi City administrator Noel Rosal said.

"The 700 families came from the city's 70 barangays, pre-screened by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)," he explained.

Rosal said the main considerations in chosing the recipients are "they belong to the poorest of the poor and did not qualify with the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)."

He said they are those who could not send their children to school for lack of money or the parents are jobless.

He said they intend to increase the number of recipients in the coming months as long as their budgetary allocation permits.

Legazpi City has 1,366 household recipients of the 4Ps.(PNA) ghg/SMT/cbd/ebp