Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DepEd pushes IP education in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 30 (PNA) – Thousands of indigenous peoples (IPs) in Bicol will benefit from the education agenda for indigenous peoples being pushed by the Department of Education (DepEd).

The Aquino administration wants the DepEd’s IPs education agenda to end the long history of marginalization and neglect experienced by many indigenous communities in education, according to the education department’s regional office for Bicol here.

DepEd regional director Orfelina Tuy on Tuesday said there are about 50,000 IPs residing in different barangays in the region. They occupy a total land area of 74,000 hectares, with Camarines Sur having the greatest number of land area proclaimed as ancestral domain.

This time, she said that because of the deep concern expressed by the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III over the plight of IPs, that dream is becoming a reality.

Tuy said civil society groups and other stakeholders are helping DepEd in building a nationwide network of support groups to push forward an education agenda for the country’s IPs which was tackled during the recent celebration of the National Indigenous Peoples (IP) Month.

According to the National Council for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the total population of IPs in the Philippines is estimated at around 20 million. (PNA) LAM/DOC/CBD

PCAARRD runs P10-M R&D program to develop micro-algae as aquafeeds

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 30 (PNA) -- The Philippine Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) has released P10 million to jumpstart the development of micro-algae as aquafeeds.

The University of the Philippines (UP) in Los Baños and in the Visayas are working with the Bohol Island State University (BISU) on the project to develop feed formulations using micro-algae, seaweeds and seaweed by-products, and water hyacinth as possible protein sources.

The feeds will come in various forms such as algal paste, nutrient concentrates and as floating and sinking pellets. These will be field-tested on milkfish, shrimps, and tilapia, PCAARRD Executive Director Patricio Faylon, in a statement received here Tuesday said.

Under the project, a village-level feed mill prototype will also be built in Bohol to pilot-test small–scale commercial feed production.

With this development, plans are underway for the micro-algae through the Algae Research and Commercialization Master Plan (ARCMP). The five-year plan is a government’s roadmap for developing commercial uses for Philippine strains of micro-algae.

The plan places the micro-algae as part of human survival kit in the future. These microscopic organisms are big storehouses of many of man’s vital needs --- food, feed, fertilizer, and fuel, he stressed.

Thus, global demand for micro-algal products has spurred a multi-billion algal industry, estimated to be worth at least US$ 1.25 billion annually. In the Philippines, about 60 species of micro-algae had already been screened for food and aquaculture.

Through the algae master plan, Faylon said the country is in a bid to develop at least five local strains of micro-algae as shareholders of the world market for algal products. These are Chlorella vulgaris , Isochrysis, Nannochloropsis spp., Tetraselmis spp., and Spirulina platensis.(PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Training on creative kindergarten teaching held in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 30 (PNA) –- About a hundred teachers and graduating elementary education course students have recently been given training on Creative Teaching and Learning for Kindergarten Teachers at the Catanduanes State College (CSC) in Virac, Catanduanes.

Held for three-days last week, the training organized by the Extension Unit of the CSC and endorsed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) provided the participants hands-on-exercises in creating and developing instructional materials to enhance the teaching-learning process thus making the classroom experiences enjoyable, interesting and fun for the preschoolers.

Trainor was Prof. Leonora Valera of the Philippine Normal University-Center for Teaching and Learning. She is popularly known as Teacher Cleo and awarded the Most Outstanding Pre-school Teacher by the National Association for Early Childhood Educators and the Super Ma’am Grand Prize Winner awarded by ABS-CBN. (PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

AKB partylist asks TRO from Supreme Court vs COMELEC disqualification ruling

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 30 (PNA) --- The Ako Bicol (AKB) partylist filed on Tuesday a petition asking the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) prohibiting the Commission on Election (COMELEC) to enforce its earlier decision disqualifying AKB to run in next year's mid-term election.

Rep. Alfredo Garbin of the AKB partylist said the petition asks the SC to issue a TRO and seek to declare null and void the COMELEC’s Resolution issued on Oct. 10 and its Resolution No. 9513 on Aug. 2 this year disqualifying them as a partylist group for reasons that they do not represent the marginalized sector.

Garbin said lawyer Alfredo Molo III filed the petition for TRO at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday at the Supreme Court.

He said they have asked former SC Justice Vicente Mendoza to be the lead counsel to be assisted by Molo to handle the case.

The petition asks the SC to nullify the COMELEC decision disqualifying AKB among the accredited the party list groups on the grounds that the COMELEC allegedly acted without due process and beyond their jurisdiction.

The petition declared that the COMELEC has no power to determine the qualifications of party-list representatives as the election and qualification of the members of the House of Representatives is reserved to the House Electoral Tribunal (HRET) as “sole judge.”

It also said that the election body erred by cancelling AKB’s accreditation by embarking on an erroneous re-definition of “marginalized and under-represented,” a power the commission does not have.

Rep. Rodel Batocabe in a text message said: “I am hopeful that with the help of the Divine providence justice that we are asking will prevail despite the black propaganda hurled against us. It’s unfortunate that the AKB has to be a sacrificial lamb as a result of bogus group trying to join the party list.”

“Our track record in Congress and the advocacies and programs we have pushed are worthy of the overwhelming mandate given to us by the people which cannot be obliterated by the COMELEC,” he said.

AKB is a regional political party already accredited and registered by the COMELEC in 2009.

Later in 2010, the COMELEC confirmed AKB's eligibility by dismissing a petition filed for the cancellation of its accreditation and registration.

AKB won the largest number of votes gathered by all party lists garnering 1.5 million votes.

Garbin, in a phone interview, said AKB matched its poll record with its legislative record by filing 270 bills and 73 resolutions. (PNA) LAM/MSA/CBD

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Three int’l confab set in Legazpi City in November

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 29 (PNA) –- The Bicol University (BU) will hold at least three more international conferences by next month.

These are the three-day International Conference on Climate-Smart Knowledge Management for the Uplands (ICCSKMU) on first week of November, the four-day 2012 International Society for Southeast Asian Agricultural Sciences (ISSAAS) International Symposium and Congress (ISC) that shall kick off on November 13, and the International Conference on Kuroshio Science(ICKS) set either end of November or first week of December.

The state university just recently hosted the International Academic Colloquium (AIC) which was held second week of this month.(PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG/JCF

Government Intervention Program hires 1,175 Bicolano youth
By Freddie L. Vargas

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 29 (PNA) -– A total of 1,175 in school and out of school youth in Bicol Region have been earning at least P247 per day under the Expanded Government Intervention Program (EGIP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Each is hired for 52 days or is to receive an accumulated earning of P12,944 under work schedules designed according to their available time during the day so as not to conflict with school attendance and other skill enhancement opportunities of out of school beneficiaries.

Lirica Francisco, GIP Coordinator and Education graduate, revealed in a recent media forum the successes by EGIP in terms of behavior change among beneficiaries and their immediate families.

“They are happy now because they can buy for themselves soft drinks, soap, shampoo and other things that before EGIP was hard for them to avail,” she said.

Some beneficiaries designed a working schedule in response to immediate and upcoming financial needs as some sort of proof of becoming personal development-oriented.

After working for 15 days and being subsequently paid, Lara Mae Balares, a senior Management student of Bicol University, waited until the last week of the first semester before reporting back for job assignments so the payment she would be receiving could be used to pay for her second semester tuition and buy her school needs.

“I am now on the 30th day of my remaining 37 days in EGIP. Part of my take home pay I shall share with my parents for the family’s budget,” said Balares.

At least 10 of the 34 clients of the Home for Boys in Sorsogon City have already been admitted to EGIP after a series of advocacy and trainings which DSWD takes pride as a “success story”.

Maria Cristina Samson, Social Welfare Officer 2 of the DSWD regional office based in this city said the 10 Home for Boys beneficiaries are "minors in conflict with the law" who are now assisting other young offenders to reform and change for the better.

After a skills inventory on beneficiaries, job deployment and scheduling are arranged by GIP coordinators, social workers and work place supervisors.

Computer literate beneficiaries assist in clerical jobs at social welfare and development offices in local government units (LGU), others are on encoding and filing at the DSWD regional office.

Some assist in Day Care Center operations in the barangays, senior citizens affairs, in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and other programs led by DSWD. (PNA) LAP/ALV/MMG/JCF

Monday, October 29, 2012

Quilting now a P5-M industry in Catanduanes (with photo)
By Connie B. Destura

BATO, Catanduanes, Oct. 29 (PNA) -- The art of quilting which at the start has lured women here as a pastime craft is now a P5-million industry with a wide market abroad.

Introduced about 10 years ago, the craft is now drawing many households in the municipality and its neighboring towns of Virac and Baras not already as a hobby but a good alternative source of income.

The couple, Mark and Pura Teocson who both hailed from the island province but are now established businessmen in Hawaii, United States, introduced the craft to a group of housewives in the municipality during their vacation sometime in 2002.

Quilts are made from patches of fabric sewn together using tiny stitches to make finished products like bags, bed spreads, wall hangs and wallets, among other handmade novelties which are themed using appliqués or patterned patches of fabrics.

The designs applied by crafters in the province originated from the Teocsons and thus appeal to the Hawaiian market.

Quilting and appliqué can be done in two ways – by hand or by machine.

Nilda Traquena of Barangay Cabugao, who pioneered the craft and had established a micro-level quilting company here, said they do it using the hand sewn method making it really labor-intensive.

Traquena had around 70 workers mostly on job order basis. A worker earns an average of P4,000 monthly.

Initially, there were three companies that took interest in the craft after attending the demo conducted by the Teocson couple.

Nizzach Craft based here, Nicon Enterprises in Virac and and RBM Collection in Baras, started their production with the Teocsons providing the ready market in Hawaii.

The pioneering entrepreneurs realized that, as start ups, their production skills were not as efficient as they would want it to be. They produced good products but they were not effective overall.

Knowing this, in 2003, they decided to embark on a study tour in Pampanga and Bulacan where quilting and appliqué is an established export industry.

Since then, the quilting industry in the island province flourished on its own, penetrating more barangays and even enticing students.

Today, there are five companies in the province producing quilted products and employing around 350 workers mostly here and in Virac and Baras towns.

How the products are made is somewhat interesting. The jobs are contracted out to households making it a community-based industry with a designated coordinator.

Through this system, quilting becomes a collaborative homework for families involved –a mother may start working on a product which may be continued by her children and sometimes finished by the husband depending on their availability and skill.

The job then helps to glue the family closer together, contributing to better community building, according to Traquena.

In Legazpi City, the home of the regional office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), its regional director Jocylyn Blanco on Monday said she had observed how the small quilting industry in the province is making an impact in the communities.

Realizing its potentials, Blanco said she readily agreed to provide funding for skills training in quilting and appliqué in the province during her visit late last year.

Since then, a series of trainings realized through DTI funds were conducted in six barangays of Virac, the capital town.

The training provided an addition of 159 workers making quilting now a P5-million a year industry.

“Quilting is a passion and the chance of being able to help a lot of families including students who persevere in their studies, give the best satisfaction of all,” Blanco said. (PNA) LDV/CBD

BU offers foreign language courses

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 29 (PNA) -- The Bicol University (BU), the leading state in the region, is offering courses in international language studies.

The BU Language Center (BULC)has been facilitating the training of faculty members handling such courses and sponsoring awareness-raising activities for specific foreign languages to promote interest and appreciation for other cultures and languages.

BU president Fay Lea Patria Lauriaya on Monday said the school has entered into a partnership venture with the Spanish government’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) for the promotion of mutual cultural exchange and language learning.

Along with this collaboration, two BU professors- Inocencio Bermundo and Expedito Lobetania - underwent a summer scholarship program last April to May at the Instituto de Cervates in Manila which covered the Spanish language learning and teaching strategies and methodologies in language teaching.

The full scholarship was granted by the Embassy of Spain with the cooperation of the BULC, BU College of Education (BUCE) and BU College of Arts and Letters (BUCAL).(PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Naga City poor kids gather to honor Jesse Robredo
By Danny O. Calleja

NAGA CITY, Oct. 29 (PNA) -- The celebration this year of Children’s Month in Naga City has put together thousands of children from indigent families that have been beneficiaries of a poverty alleviation program put in place by the late Jesse Robredo during his incumbency as mayor of the city.

The program which saw its birth during the early years of Robredo’s 18 years as city mayor is called “Sanggawadan,” a native term which means to help raise up.

It has been adopted as a continuing anti-poverty project of the present city administration under City Mayor John Bongat through the City Social Welfare Development Office (CSWDO).

The program was formerly under the Street and Urban Working Children Project (SUWCP) funded by the Australian government.

When the program ceased to receive financial assistance from that foreign donor, Robredo adopted it, realizing that the incentives merited a positive effect on its beneficiaries particularly in improving the children’s attendance in school.

Currently, it has more than 2,000 beneficiary families coming from the 26 barangays of the city whom Robredo regularly visited during his incumbency and even when he was home here while serving as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Everytime he goes around barangays, children would mill around him. He was known to these children as “Mayor Pogi”. “Pogi” is street lingo for handsome.

This year, instead of the usual free-for- all participation of all Sanggawadan beneficiaries, it was decided that a week-long celebration be especially devoted to children in memory of Robredo who died in a plane crash off Masbate city last Aug. 18.

At the Naga city coliseum where over 2,000 children gathered for the affair over the weekend, Alvin Sanchez, a seven-year old elementary second grader from Barangay Tabuco said “kilala naming lahat si Mayor Pogi. Lahat kaming mga bata mahal nya at mahal din namin s’ya (we all know Mayor Pogi. All of us children are dear to him and he is also dear to us)”.

“Tatay naming lahat si Mayor Pogi kaya lahat kaming mga bata dito sa Naga ay magkakapatid (Mayor Pogi is father to all kids in the city that is why all of us here are brothers and sisters)”, Sanchez added.

CSWDO chief Jaime Reblando said they have initiated various activities for the kids under this year’s Children’s Month theme, “Bright Child ay Siguruhin, Responsableng Pamamahayag Palaganapin”.

The children called Sanggawadan Kids, Reblando said were pitted against each other in essay writing, slogan and poster making contests. Others took part in the singing and dancing competitions. They played parlor games and ate together as one big family.

“This is the most opportune time for the kids and their parents to bond and take a breather from their usual routine,” Reblando said.

Film showings and some other parts of the gathering made the parents relax and enjoy the day. While the kids played, their parents were into their parenting sessions with the Kingdom Apostolic Youth Ambassador (KAYA) volunteers, according to Maricar Moralde, the Sanggawadan coordinator. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

US surgeons to offer free harelip surgeries this November in Naga City

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 29 (PNA) -- Sixty U.S.-based doctors and other medical workers will be in Naga City for free harelip surgeries from Nov.12 to 24.

Information provided here over the weekend by Naga City information officer Allen Reondanga the free surgeries are part of the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of "Operation Smile", a humanitarian mission.

Those qualified to avail of free surgeries are residents of Naga City and Camarines Sur province especially those municipalities that are members of the Metro Naga Development Council, Reondanga said.

Prescreening of patients is ongoing until Wednesday and the pre-surgical screening will be held on Nov.8, a day before the arrival of the doctors who will conduct the operations, she said. (PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Greenpeace urges BFAR to come up with fisheries rescue plan
By Danny O. Calleja

DONSOL, Sorsogon Oct. 29 (PNA) -- “We are in deep trouble. The government must acknowledge that our seas are in crisis”.

This was the stern message recently conveyed by Greenpeace as it called on the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to come up with an emergency fisheries rescue plan, a roadmap for policy makers needed to restore the health of the oceans.

In a community forum organized over the weekend in this tourist coastal known as the “Whale Shark Capital of the World”, Vince Cinches, the Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans Campaigner, said the BFAR roadmap should serve as a comprehensive plan of action made more compelling by the relentless onslaught of climate change and over-fishing.

This grievous mix of ocean problems that are both man-made is threatening the country’s stature as the leader in global marine biodiversity, affecting communities that rely on rich marine ecosystems for food, he warned.

"In order to save the oceans which cover 70 percent of our planet, governments need a solid plan and strong political will which is all they need to restore the health of our oceans," Cinches said.

The emergency rescue plan, he said should focus on the need for the establishment of more marine reserves and the reduction of our fishing capacity to sustainable levels, alongside long term solutions to climate change.

“Marine reserves are the single most powerful way available for marine conservation, restoring marine biodiversity and bringing multiple benefits to fisheries, alleviating food insecurity and poverty and building the resilience of our oceans to the impacts of climate change,” Cinches stressed.

On the part of Greenpeace, he said the organization will launch soon its Ocean Defender initiative, bringing together a network of volunteers who are committed to raising awareness about oceans issues such as marine pollution and overfishing.

The group is calling on Filipinos who care about our seas to join this movement by logging on tohttp://www.facebook.com/groups/oceandefender/

Greenpeace, an independent global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace, according to Cinches is committed to defending the health of the world’s oceans and the plants, animals and people that depend upon them.

“We are an archaeological nation. Soon, we will become the epicenter of global marine adversity if our government agencies refuse to acknowledge and address the crisis at sea,” Cinches said.

“Our seas are already under threat from massive overfishing and decades of unsustainable fishing practices that have resulted in today’s dwindling fish catch. With ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures, fish won't be able to spawn and propagate. That now leaves 30 million Filipinos with even less fish to eat,” he added.

In this town where nearly half of the population is dependent on fishing for their daily subsistence, fishermen have been experiencing lackluster years, fisher folks who attended the community forum said.

Most can barely meet six kilos per day, the average haul that will give them a good day’s wage, they said.

Greenpeace is working to support fishing communities in the Philippines, particularly in places like Ticao and Burias Passes, the largest fishing ground in the region and here which are home to vulnerable species like whale sharks and manta rays.

Fishery resources of this fishing Bicol fishing ground had been severely depleted due to over-fishing particularly by large commercial fishing vessels, according to Greenpeace while the threat of degradation extends to the adjoining Donsol waters, San Bernardino Straits and Sorsogon Bay.

Cinches said about 1.2 million jobs in the Philippine fishing, tourism and the food sectors would be directly affected by poor oceans management so that the government should offer a comprehensive solution to revive the country’s fishery resources.

Philippine fisheries, he said has an annual estimated production of 6,000,000 metric tons of fish, but there has been a steady decline due to overfishing attributed to illegal fishing involving large commercial fishing vessels.

The BFAR has earlier revealed that 10 out of 13 fishing grounds in the country are heavily exploited due to illegal and unregulated fishing activities.

But the agency is doing all it can to reverse the situation as according to BFAR regional director Dennis Del Socorro on Monday, enforcement of laws on fisheries in Bicol had always been relentless “insofar as they are concerned”.

BFAR had already banned the use of “super lights” in municipal waters. Trawl fishers have always been made on the run while the use of cyanide and dynamites in fishing has been significantly reduced due to the vigilance of enforcers and the coastal communities, Del Socorro said.

What is more needed now is the political will among local government leaders given the fact that safeguarding and preserving municipal waters falls under the mandate of local government units (LGUs), he said.

Del Socorro said BFAR-Bicol appreciates the concern of Greenpeace over the region’s fishery resources and welcomes the call of Greenpeace for measures toward a more comprehensive ocean preservation plan.

In fact, he said BFAR had long been implementing various programs and projects toward this end and among these are the establishment of mariculture parks and marine sanctuaries within several coastal waters of the region, all in partnership with concerned LGUs.

Among them are the 250-hectare Bugsayon and Buntod Reefs in the municipal waters of Masbate City which have been showing excellent fighting ability to stay in good shape even under rigorous situations brought about by both man-made and natural disturbances, Del Socorro said.

Almost all coastal towns in Bicol have established and are maintaining their own marine sanctuaries while the BFAR had also established mariculture zones and parks in the City of Masbate; Matnog and Magallanes towns as well as Sorsogon City in Sorsogon province; and the municipalities of Ragay and Sangay in Camarines Sur.

These projects, he added are all marine reserves which Greenpeace is referring to as the “single most powerful way available for marine conservation, restoring marine biodiversity and bringing multiple benefits to fisheries, alleviating food insecurity and poverty and building the resilience of our oceans to the impacts of climate change.” (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

Lupi mayor in Cam Sur assassinated

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 28 (PNA) -– Police in Camarines Sur is still investigating the assassination of Lupi municipal mayor Raul Matamorosa.

In an initial report from the Philippine National Police (PNP) CAMARINES SUR SAID THAT THE INCUMBENT AND LAST TERMER MAYOR WAS AMBUSHED BY THREE UNIDENTIFIED GUNMEN ALONG DIVERSION ROAD OF NAGA CITY AT 4:00 P.M. SATURDAY. HE DIED AT THE MOTHER SETON HOSPITAL IN NAGA CITY EARLY SUNDAY MORNING FROM MULTIPLE GUNSHOT WOUNDS.

THE PNP IS YET TO ISSUE OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING THE ASSASSINATION OF THE MAYOR AND IF THE CRIME WAS ELECTION-RELATED. PDS/MDR/CBD/JCF

BU has 8 new board topnotchers

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 28 (PNA) –- In the licensure examinations for various courses given this year by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) from January until this month, Bicol University has produced at least eight board topnotchers.

The latest was this month’s Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Board Examinations where 61 of the 63 examinees from BU passed or at 96.83 percent passing rate and one of them, Jannine Czarina Bella Torralba, BU’s Outstanding University Graduate of 2012 placed 7th with a 92.71 percent rating.

The passing rate and Torralba’s belonging to the top ten passers earned for BU the title as 2nd Top Performing School for CPA Board 2012 next to the University of the Philippines Diliman campus.

In late last month’s Mechanical Engineer Licensure Examination, 41 out of 50 board takers from BU passed the examinations with two of them landing in the top ten: Darylle Consulta Dacillo – 94.35 percent (second place) and Emmanuel Arboleda Garcia -- 92.75 percent (Tenth place).

BU fresh graduates also bagged the first and second places in the top ten board passers of the 2012 Electrical Engineering Licensure Examinations; Bernard Bandojo Alzaga and Wilfredo Lignes Mata Jr., while 47 others passed the same examinations.

Three other BU engineering students; Arianna Bañega, Oliver John Borazon and Marcial Golingco placed 3rd, 5th and 8th respectively, in the Registered Master Electrician’s Board Examination last September 10. Twenty three (23) others are new Registered Master Electricians.(PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG/JCF

PRC to administer LET in Catanduanes

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 28 (PNA) -– Education graduates from the island province of Catanduanes will be spared from the long trips to come to this city to take the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET)in the coming years.

This following the successful conduct of the first-ever LET in the island and also the plan of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to hold the board examination there.

The first LET in Catanduanes was held September 30 for those who filed their applications at the PRC regional office based in this city and those who filed at the field office in Virac, Catanduanes.

The PRC’s decision was an offshoot of Catanduanes Provincial Legislative Council’s Resolution No. 90 – 2012 authored by Provincial Board Member Wilfredo Santelices requesting PRC Chairman Teresita Manzala to approve the conduct of LET in Catanduanes that was approved July 9 this year.

PRC testing centers in this city are more accessible to examinees from Catanduanes port towns of Virac and San Miguel and other municipalities facing Albay Gulf and the Pacific through daily ferry trips to the international port in Tabaco City.

It takes about four-hour sea travel from Virac port to Tabaco City and an hour ride to reach the testing centers in this city. LET examinees often come early and stay at hotels and lodging houses to avoid possible delay caused by stormy seas and other climatic phenomena.

The towns of Pandan, Panganiban and Caramoran facing Lagunoy Gulf are nearer to Caramoan Peninsula in Camarines Sur but there are no established testing centers in the area that examinees have to travel by land either to the port in Virac or in San Andres for the ferry trip to Tabaco City. (PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG/JCF

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Masbate City gov’t holds job fair

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct 27 (PNA) -- Hundreds of Masbateño job seekers were given opportunity to find employment in a special recruitment activity in a job fair organized by the city government of Masbate this week.

According to the Dept. of Labor and employment regional office for Bicol here, the job fair at the Masbate Coliseum last Oct. 25 was led by the Masbate City Public Employment Services Office.

The job recruitment was conducted by the Naga City-based MMML Recruitment Agency in Camarines Sur engaged in job placements abroad.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Dept. of Trade and Industry, National Statistics Office, National Bureau of Investigation, Caritas Masbate and several other government and private agencies assisted the conduct of the job fair. (PNA) HBC/DOC/CBD/

New DPWH engineers in Bicol undergo comprehensive training

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct 27 (PNA) -- Newly appointed field engineers of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways in Bicol underwent a comprehensive training in line with the transformation framework laid down by Public Works Sec. Rogelio Singson.

Completed last Oct 19, the 21-day comprehensive Training for Field Engineers covered various aspects of project implementation.

These included design, construction methods, materials quality control, construction supervision and management, DPWH Assistant Regional Director Jesus Salmo said Saturday.

On-the-job training -- where participants were assigned to a particular project to observe project implementation -- was made part of the entire training course.

Salmo said OJT was aimed at supplementing the theoretical knowledge that the participants acquired in the early part of the training.

A five-day course on Disaster Risk and Climate Change Adaptation in Infrastructure was also made part of the entire training, he said.

Seasoned resource persons from various fields of engineering from the agency’s regional and district offices were tapped to share their expertise, knowledge and experiences with the new DPWH engineers, Salmo added. (PNA) HBC/DOC/CBD/

Salceda leads tree planting during 51st bday anniv

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 27 (PNA)---Albay Gov. Joey Salceda celebrated Friday his 51st birthday anniversary through tree planting and other civic-oriented activities, including feeding, gift-giving and health calisthenics.

Accompanied by fellow government workers and law-enforcers, Salceda led the planting of 250,000 mangrove saplings in the coastal villages of Pio Duran town.

Feeding of indigent residents from the different barangays was also held at the Albay Astrodome; followed by raffle draws where at least 51 pieces of stationary exercise bicycles and assorted gift items were given to his well-wishers who trooped to Peñaranda Park here Friday morning.

Salceda also led the "Hataw" dancing joined by barangay and local officials and provincial employees.

Salceda said some of the activities were discreetly prepared for him by his fellow provincial officials and employees.

"I was really surprised by some activities prepared by my fellow government workers and friends," Salceda said.

For the first time, Salceda would run unopposed in his 2013 re-election bid as no one filed to contest his candidacy for the Albay's gubernatorial post. (PNA) HBC/SMT/CBD/

123 boat passengers rescued off Burias Island, Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 27 (PNA) -- A Philippine Navy gunboat rescued before dawn Saturday at least 123 passengers, mostly students, on board M/B Brian that encountered an engine trouble off Burias Island in Masbate, an official of the PN Naval Forces Southern Luzon (NAVFORSOL) said.

PN gunboat PG 374 sighted M/B Brian floating about 300 yards northwest of Cueva point in Burias Island at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, according to Navy Ensign Chibar Bullos, NAVFORSOL spokesperson.

On board the motorized banca were a delegation of 100 elementary students and 18 teachers from the Claveria South District Schools and five crew members.

Bullos said M/B Brian, carrying the school delegation, left Claveria town and was bound for Burias Island where the school delegation would participate in the District Sports Meet in San Pascual town.

Bullos said in a phone interview that the boat crew, after failing to repair the boat engine, made an emergency call that prompted the PN to immediately dispatch Navy gunboat PG 374 for a search-and-rescue operation.

The Navy gunboat towed the M/B Brian to the San Pascual pier at about 4:30 a.m.

Bullos said all passengers and crew are safe. (PNA) SCS/MSA/CBD/

Worms infest Cam Sur mangroves

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) –- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office based in this city has confirmed reports of worm infestations in the mangrove-teeming 21-hectare coastline of Calabanga town in Camarines Sur.

The infestation was initially reported by Calabanga municipal government to the DENR to occur in the 5-hectare mangrove plantation in Barangay Cagsao. However, successive reports were later received about its spread in the neighboring coastal barangays of Sibobo, Punta Tarawal, Balatasan and Sabang.

DENR mangrove expert Feliciano Laurico, who conducted ocular inspection and investigations, reported that the worms prey on leaves and twigs of mangroves and if not controlled the soonest could trigger either the plant’s death or stunted growth.

Laurico conducted orientation and training of mangrove caretakers in Calabanga on how to make and apply anti-worm solutions on affected mangrove plants.

The solution is a combination of water, ordinary detergent and “siling labuyo" (capsicum frutensis) sprayed on mangrove leaves and branches.

The same spray has been used and proven effective in the mangrove plantations stretching from this city until the geothermal-rich Manito, Albay co-financed and protected by the BACMAN Geothermal Plant, the city government and the provincial government of Albay.

Calabanga is presently among the sites of massive mangrove reforestation in Bicol region. Last year about 450,000 mangrove seedlings were planted in its coastlines.

Aside from serving as protection to coastline communities against storm surges, mangroves provide breeding grounds for crustaceans, clams and shellfish, and various species of fish that is safe from predators. (PNA) FFC/ALV/MMG/JCF

DOLE gets free lot for Cam Norte office

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) -– The municipal government of Daet has donated a 224 square meter prime lot to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for its field office in Camarines Norte province.

The lot donation was made possible through the passage of the Sangguniang Bayan Resolution 155-2012 with a condition that DOLE should start construction of the field office within a year.

Daet Mayor Tito Sarion joined DOLE Bicol regional officials in the recent groundbreaking ceremonies which culminated with the release of livelihood grant to 101 beneficiaries under the Community Enterprise Development program worth P540,861 for pili nut and pineapple commercialization in Daet.

It was learned DOLE spends P16,000 on monthly rental of its present office in Daet aside from huge travel and accommodation expenses for regional and national officials visiting the area.

Data gathered from DOLE regional office based in this city, a dormitory shall be constructed beside the field office in Daet and it will cut costs on travel and accommodation by not less than 30 percent.(PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG/JCF

Ofel' strands Bicol CSC training participants
By Alfredo L. Vargas Jr.

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) -– Close to a hundred town and city officials from across Bicol region who took part in the Personnel Management Training conducted by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) regional office based in this city have been stranded here due to the onslaught of tropical storm Ofel that started Tuesday night until the whole day Wednesday.

Areas accessible from this city through land transport waited for the rains and gusts to fade late afternoon yesterday before deciding to travel back home while those from the islands stayed inside hotels and lodging houses until sea travel was declared safe late afternoon yesterday.

The CSC two-day training that started Tuesday morning was held at the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Office in Barangay Rawis, this city.

At the culmination Wednesday afternoon, heavy downpour and squalls became frequent that instead of returning home, they opted to stay in nearby hotels.

The team from Masbate City lead by the city administrator opted to stay at the Xandra Hotel, the oldest hotel in this city and the cheapest since Wednesday evening.

The same was true to participants from the towns of Masbate province.

Ram Sison, Masbate City’s media affairs coordinator said they arrived in this city via the local government’s “Bantay Dagat” motorized banca and were about to be fetched by the same vessel Wednesday evening.

Late afternoon yesterday, the sea travel to and from Masbate Province was declared safe and Sison’s group was fetched by the motorized banca by 1:00 a.m. Friday.

Participants from the island province of Catanduanes who stayed in hotels at Tabaco City took the first trip to San Andres, Catanduanes early morning today. (PNA) LAP/ALV/MMG/JCF

Friday, October 26, 2012

DOH bares accomplishments in Universal Health Care in Bicol

DARAGA, Albay, Oct. 26 (PNA) -- The regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) here over the week said the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program is faring well in Bicol towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on health.

As of May this year, at total of 1,015,101 Bicolano households have been enrolled to the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), being provided by the state-owned Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), according to DOH assistant regional director Ferchito Avelino.

This figure, Avelino said, represents nearly 100 percent of the total number of households in the region covering a population of over 5.4 million.

The expansion in Philhealth coverage and benefits is one of the steps taken by the DOH to attain the three strategic thrusts of the UHC program under the Aquino administration, he explained.

The UHC’s thrusts, he said are financial risk protection, improved access to quality hospitals services and healthcare facilities toward the attainment of the MDGs.

Poor families covered by the NHIP are entitled to “no-balance-billing” when admitted in any government hospital so they need not pay any single amount. These families are explained on their entitlements and responsibilities under the progra, Avelino said.

Other efforts towards MDGs like reducing maternal and child mortality, morbidity and mortality from tuberculosis and malaria, and incidence of HIV/AIDS including the recent Chikungunya cases reported in Albay province are also in place and reaping good results, he said.

And to fill up the shortage in community health workers, the DOH regional office, Avelino said has trained and employed community health teams that assist in providing the health needs of Bicolano families, disseminate health information and facilitate communication with other health providers.

“We also have been initiating efforts for guaranteed public access to information on reproductive health (RH) services and educating Bicolanos on the RH Bill pending in Congress explaining to them its provisions on funding support to both modern and natural family planning methods, flexibility in the teaching of RH and sexuality education with emphasis that the bill is not a population control measure,” he added. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

DOLE-Bicol establishes vegetable garden for green workplace program

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) -- The regional office for Bicol of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here is now a “green workplace”-compliant institution.

DOLE regional director Nathaniel Lacambra on Friday said they now have their own “green garden” established recently on a vacant lot within the regional office complex in Old Albay District of this city.

“This is a garden put up through a bayanihan system among DOLE regional office employees as part of our Green the DOLE Program,” Lacambra said.

It does not only put DOLE-Bicol in compliance with the green workplace program of the department but is intended to be enrolled as a sample project under the agency’s Climate Change Adaptation (CAA) program, he explained.

The CAA, Lacambra said, is a national program aimed at combating the disastrous effects of climate change by ensuring environment-friendly operations of all public offices. The program is pioneered in Albay by provincial Governor Joey Salceda.

The green garden, the DOLE regional chief said, grows a variety of vegetables and other food crops that are organically grown.

Through this garden, he said the DOLE-Bicol is also promoting healthy lifestyle through naturally grown green foods and backyard gardening among Bicolanos as an alternative source of income and food for the family.

DOLE-Bicol employees are required to devote at least 30 minutes of their break time daily to tend on the garden as a means of exercise. Its crop yields will be given to the employees.

“The garden provides an environment-friendly ambience which makes everyone in the regional office excited about,” Lacambra added. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

DA launches contest on rice packaging design

PILI, Camarines Sur, Oct. 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture on Friday announced a contest on Rice Packaging Design in a bid to promote traditional rice varieties and for possible rice exportation.

Winning entries will be the official standard package design for export-bound Philippine rice varieties such as the Dinorado, Palawan, Azucena, Kamuros, Hinumay, Mimis, Galo, Binernal White/Red, Malido White/Red, Awot, Kalinayan, Inipot -Ibon, Binerhan, Pinurutong, Maria Gakit, malagkit Itim, Dumudao, and Ballatinaw.

Entries can be drawn manually or with the use of computer software. The package design should incorporate a label or a brand name that is uniquely Filipino, with the accompanying pertinent information that suits trade standards, and indicates important product information and Philippine origin, DA regional executive director for Bicol Jose Dayao said.

The contest is open to college students, college graduates, out of school youths, professionals and differently-abled individuals who are at least 18 years old. However, the deadline has yet to be announced.(PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Bicolanos named 2012 outstanding achievers in DA’s National Gawad Saka
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Oct. 26 (PNA) -- A coconut researcher from Albay, a women’s organization from Catanduanes and a fishery council in Masbate are among this year’s winners in the National Gawad Saka Awards, an annual search of agriculture and fishery achievers by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Ambrosio Raul Ricardo Alfiler, the chief of the Entomology-Epidemiology Division of the Albay Research Center (ARC) of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) based in Barangay Banao, Guinobatan, Albay has been chosen as this year's outstanding agricultural researcher, according to DA regional executive director Jose Dayao here on Friday.

Over the past 30 years, Alfiler has been involved in coconut pest management researches which include control of coconut leaf beetle, Brontispa longisima, mealy bug, rhinoceros beetle and cadang-cadang.

He had also been involved in other activities such as Embryo Culture of Macapuno and science and technology (S&T) interventions for the rehabilitation of calamity-stricken coconut lands in Albay.

The award entitles Alfiler a cash prize of P100,000, project grant of P900,000, a presidential trophy and a citation, Dayao said.

The Calatagan Tibang Rural Improvement Club of Virac, Catanduanes meanwhile has been chosen as this year's Outstanding Rural Improvement Club (RIC) in the national awards.

This rural-based association of women is engaged in various livelihood projects, among them swine breeding and fattening, native chicken production, agri-products trading, crop production, native food-making, buy and sell and marketing of ready-to-wear clothes.

The club is also active in community services like drafting of barangay ordinance on solid waste management, purchase and distribution of toilet bowls, feeding program for malnourished children and assistance to the 4H club in their barangay.

It also facilitated the installation of Level III water system in the baragay which benefited 25 households.

For winning this year’s award on the category, the Club will receive P150,000 project grant, P50,000 cash prize, a presidential trophy and a citation.

The Aroroy Municipal Fishery and Aquatic Resource Management Council (FARMC) of Masbate on the other hand had been named this year’s outstanding Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Committee (FARMC).

The council, Dayao said, won the top award in the category for vigorously pursuing its advocacy and campaign to rehabilitate, protect and conserve the local marine resources through participatory and community-based management strategies.

It was able to pass 13 resolutions to ensure the sustainable and judicious use of the marine resources in the municipality, served as facilitator in registering fisherfolk organizations, conducted intensive fishery law enforcement, and trained and provided its members alternative livelihood opportunities.

It is also the first municipal FARMC in the Philippines to have a Nemo Fish Catch Monitoring System and FARMC Database Management System which was instituted in 2008.

The council will receive a cash award of P450,00 from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) plus a presidential trophy and citation.

The date for the awarding ceremonies will be held sometime this December with no less than President Benigno Aquino III to confer the awards to the winners.

Meanwhile, Bicol's nominee to this year's National Search for Outstanding Rural Women, Susana Pasacay-Aseron of Barangay Caringo, Mercedes, Camarines Norte placed second and received a cash prize of P50,000 and a plaque of recognition.

An additional prize was given as project grant by DA Secretary Proceso Alcala during the awarding ceremony held last October 18, 2012 at the NIA Convention hall in Quezon City. Aseron shared the second place with Conchita Silor-Masin from Davao Oriental, according to Dayao. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

NFA-Masbate offers free transport of palay

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) -- The National Food Authority (NFA) office in Masbate is providing free transportation to haul palay from local farmers selling their produce to the government’s food agency, a top official said here over the week.

According to NFA Masbate branch manager Eden Redillas, her office is reimbursing farmers their transportation expenses in delivering their palay for sale to the NFA office.

In some cases, she said trucks are sent to facilitate hauling of larger bulks of palay for free.

“We are giving this incentive to encourage farmers to sell their palay to our NFA office under the government subsidized price of P17.20 per kilo, a rate that is very much higher than what is being offered by private rice traders in the province which is P10 or less,” Redillas said.

She said the NFA expects bountiful harvest of palay in Masbate this season because no natural calamity like typhoon or drought hit the province during the early period of the year, adding that local irrigation systems are now working following attention given by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA). (PNA) FFC/DOC/CBD

LTO gives Sorsogon cops free driving lesson

SORSOGON CITY, Oct 26 (PNA) -- The Land Transportation Office here on Friday conducted trainings on driving and traffic courtesy lectures to provincial policemen.

Sorsogon Philippine National Police (PNP) provincial director Senior Supt. John Jambora said policemen assigned in each of the 15 local police stations and three district offices tasked as drivers attended the one-day activity that trained them on “defensive driving strategies” to avoid getting involved in traffic accidents.

They were taught how and when to use hazard lights, parking lights and turning signal lights. They were also lectured on the importance of giving way to smaller or larger vehicles and correct vehicle maintenance.

LTO driving lecturer Ricardo Nepomuceno stressed in the training that policemen who are mandated to enforce traffic rules and regulations should also be good followers of road courtesy and driving rules. (PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Informants get cash reward for arrest of 2 murder suspects

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct 26 (PNA) -- Police have awarded P15,000 reward each to two civilians whose information led to the recent arrest of two of the most wanted persons in Masbate, Police Regional Director for Bicol, Chief Supt. Jose Arne de los Santos said on Friday.

De los Santos also identified those arrested as Francis Balmes and Godofredo Rufo, the number four and five most wanted in Masbate, respectively.

Balmes was wanted for murder while Rufo was arrested for murder, robbery and two counts of frustrated homicide, he said. (PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Scouters rescued, stranded passengers allowed to sail

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) -- Some 60 high school boys and girls scouts who were out on a three-day camping activity in a hilly portion of Sitio Malangka in Barangay Taysan here were rescued Wednesday night by a team from the city's Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) when heavy downpour and gusty winds triggered by Tropical Storm Ofel prevented them to safely leave the place.

The scouters were from the high school department of the private school College of Arts and Technology (CAT) in this city.

Meanwhile, at least 2,522 stranded passengers from Bicol's nine ports were already allowed to sail on Friday, the regional Office of Civil Defense (OCD) inside Camp General Simeon Ola here reported.

Most of them were at the Matnog port with 1,600; Tabaco City with 346; Masbate with 300; Pilar, Sorsogon with 168; San Andres, Catanduanes with 58; and Pasacao and Sabang ports in Camarines Sur with 50. At least 190 assorted vehicles were held at these ports.

Classes in the pre-school up to high school were suspended on Thursday in Albay, while in Camarines Sur the suspension covered only pre-school and elementary levels.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda also ordered the "no sailing policy" for the fishermen in Albay due to the gale warning issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) since Wednesday.

Power cut-off was also experienced in some parts of Albay, Camarines Sur and Masbate at the height of the lashings of Ofel Thursday night until Friday morning.

Meanwhile, a policeman died on the spot when his owner-type jeep rammed into an onrushing bus of the Antonina Bus Line while traversing the slippery bridge in Padang, Legazpi City before nightfall on Wednesday.

Superintendent Oscar Regala, Legazpi City police chief, identified the victim as Senior Police Officer 1 Benwart Belches, of Barangay 17 here.

Benwart was on his way home from his assignment in the Malilipot police station before the accident.

Regala said bus driver Reynaldo Tubunan, 56, a resident of Atimonan, Quezon, immediately surrendered to the Legazpi police after the accident.

He said appropriate charges were already being prepared against the bus driver. (PNA) PDS/SMT/CBD/

DSWD seeks bigger shelter for victims of human trafficking in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) -– The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is requesting the provincial government of Masbate to establish a new and bigger building that would serve as temporary shelter for victims of human trafficking who are rescued by local authorities.

The facility had became a necessity following the latest case of illegal recruitment wherein 36 victims have been rescued by the Masbate anti-trafficking task force while being readied for transport from the local port to Pilar, Sorsogon then to Nueva Ecija where they were supposed to be taken by their recruiters.

The putting up of the new temporary shelter, according to the DSWD regional office here was requested by Masbate Provincial Social Welfare Officer Amelia Danao to Masbate Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete.

The facility's construction will be shouldered by the provincial allocation through its Gender and Development fund next year worth P39 million. (PNA) FFC/DOC/CBD

Worker die, another injured in bridge construction in Sorsogon City

SORSOGON CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) -- A worker died while a fellow laborer was seriously injured when smashed by a fallen concrete girder they were installing at the edge of a bridge during heavy downpour triggered by tropical storm "Ofel" in Sitio Madarag, Barangay Guinlajon this city late Wednesday afternoon.

Dead on the spot was Pablo Lana, 40, resident of Barangay Taysan in Legazpi City while Raymond Mirabueno, 26, of Madarag sustained multiple injuries on the head and other parts of the body. Mirabueno is now recuperating in a local hospital in Sorsogon City.

It took about four hours before lifesavers were able to extract Mirabueno and Lana from the rubbles of combined concrete and mud.

The accident also triggered a five-hour traffic jam in both approaches of the bridge under construction and the nearby detour bridge.

Reports reaching the police revealed one of the crane’s boom lines where the girder was hanging broke off accidentally and the load fell directly to unsuspecting workers below around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The crane operator is now under police custody.(PNA) FFC/ALV/MMG/EBP

ALMASORTA targets 15 million tourists by 2016

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office in Bicol is optimistic to achieve the 15 million target of foreign and domestic tourist arrivals by 2016.

DOT regional director Maria Ong- Ravanailla said the target is based on the Albay Masbate Sorsogon Tourism Alliance (ALMASORTA), a tourism road map corridor conceptualized by Albay governor and Regional Development Council chairman Joey Salceda.

“The alliance on tourism is an approach of the province of Albay to compliment the marketing packages of Sorsogon and Masbate ,” Ravanilla said.

Ravanilla said that in the promotion package each province will highlight its respective tourist destinations and local products. “Albay will be the gate way to Sorsogon and Masbate.”

“The first leg of tour package could be from Albay’s tourist destinations then proceed to Sorsogon and in Masbate,” Ravanilla said.

Domestic or foreign tourists might opt to start fun with the trip to Mayon volcano , Cagasawa ruin, Albay’s different caves, Wild Park, Lignon Hill, Boulevard, Misbis, Tiwi Geothermal. And the next day, tourist may chose to interact with the “Butanding” (whale shark ) in Donsol, Sorsogon or mountain climbing in Bulusan volcano. From Sorsogon, via Pilar, proceed to Masbate for another fun in Bontod, a fish and manta ray sanctuary.

Tourist arrivals in Bicol region last year, both domestic and foreign, reached 3,413,610. DOT Bicol report placed the Albay-Legazpi arrivals at 350, 629 while Masbate has a total of 172,446 visitors and 132,692 in Sorsogon. (PNA) PDS/MDR/CBD/

Legazpi water unsafe for drinking

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) -- The city government here told residents to boil their tap water after recent laboratory analysis on samples showed it is unsafe for drinking due to excessive hardness, calcium and magnesium contents.

The recent study by the University of the Philippines Natural Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI)on samples of raw and processed water from Philhydro, the supplier of Legazpi City Water District (LCWD), showed a nine percent excess in hardness and 28 percent excess in total dissolved solids.

The UP-NSRI was requested by the Legazpi City Local Water Monitoring Committee (LCLWMC) last month to determine if LCWD water supplied to 25,000 consumers in this city is safe for drinking.

UP-NSRI took raw water samples from Barangays Pawa last September 27 and also took water samples on the same date from Philhydro's processing facility in Barangay Bogtong.

The calcium and magnesium contents, hardness and dissolved solids were noted to have increased after processing the reason why the city government here denied anew Philhydro’s application for business permit this year.

The city government maintains that drinking water should have a hardness of about 300 calcium carbonate per liter, and total dissolve units of 500 mg/L for it to be issued a certification of potable water supply and a business permit.

The same was true last year in Philhydro’s application for business permit for failing in the random samplings by local health offices and UP-NSRI that was subsequently tapped by the city government revealed similar findings.

“The UP-NSRI’s findings this year are almost the same with last year’s. We can’t issue a business permit unless the people of Legazpi is assured through laboratory analysis the water they are drinking is safe”, said City Councilor Rolly Rosal, committee on public utilities chair.

The Legazpi City government declined to issue business permit to Philhydro last year when the tap water random sampling by the composite team from DOH and CHO earned unfavorable results. In an effort to closely monitor water quality in the city and to assist Philhydro and LCWD, the city government created the LCLWMC.

The request by LCLWMC late last month was an offshoot of opposing results of water analyses conducted separately by the city health office (CHO) and the Department of Health (DOH) regional office based in this city early this year. The former’s finding was that LCWD water remains unsafe for drinking while the latter certified its safety.(PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG/EBP

Moths attack CamSur mangrove plantation

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) -- At least 80 percent of the five-hectare mangrove plantation in a Camarines Sur town was attacked by winged-insects called Tussock Moths (scientific name:Lepidopteral Lymatriidae) by eating the trees' roots and leaves.

The Ecosystem Research and Development Service (ERDS) division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol had immediately dispatched a team that evaluated the extent of damages and laid down the steps to stop the mangrove infestation in Barangay Cagsao, Calabanga town in Camarines Sur.

DENR-Bicol regional executive director Gilbert Gonzales said that the details of the pest attack was relayed to them by Calabanga mayor Evelyn Yu, who admitted she herself was alarmed when told that giant moths were past killing the three-year old mangrove plantation in her town.

Feliciano Lauricio Jr, a DENR-Bicol Pest Surveillance Officer, said the infestation caused the mangroves to gradually die as the moths' caterpillars were destroying their leaves and roots by eating them.

But Lauricio said that the infestation can be easily controlled by sprinkling water mixed with detergent soap and crushed red pepper to the affected parts of the mangrove trees.

He said another method is to manually remove every caterpillar from the trees, or even through the installation of light traps to attract and kill the moths.(PNA) PDS/SMT/CBD/

DA pushes camote production in Bicol

PILI, Camarines Sur, Oct 25 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) here has made available hybrid varieties of camote (sweet potato) seeds and planting materials for distribution to farmers in the region.

Its recipients will be farmers who have signified their intentions to participate in the region-wide campaign being undertaken by the DA towards a massive production of the root crop not only as key food but as cash crop for livelihood in farming communities across the region.

DA regional executive director Jose Dayao over the week here said the agriculture agency under this production program is taking advantage of the potential to diversify livelihood opportunities by enabling sweet potato farmers to capitalize on the expanding market for fresh roots, processed products and other new uses. (PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More than 4,000 passengers stranded in Bicol seaports reaches

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) -- The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) here reported that at least 4,309 passengers were stranded in different sea ports of Bicol region due to severe weather condition spawned by tropical storm "Ofel."

OCD and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council chairman Raffy Alejandro said as of 6:30 a.m. Thursday, the stranded passengers are in the sea ports of Matnog, Bulan, Pilar all of Sorsogon and Tabaco City in Albay.

He said a total of 1,600 passengers were stranded in Matnog sea port since Wednesday.

According to Alejandro, the number of stranded passengers is expected to increase before noon with the prevailing bad weather condition.

“The RDRRMC issued an advisory to all local government units throughout the province to strictly monitor their respective areas, particularly those in the coastal barangays,” Alejandro said. (PNA) FFC/MDR/CBD

Albay gets grand slam award for Gawad Pamana ng Lahi and Good Housekeeping Seal

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 24 (PNA) -- Albay province received another grand slam honor at the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi and Seal of Good Housekeeping Awarding Ceremonies on Wednesday.

Along with Albay province which was named the best province in Bicol, Ligao City was given the best city award and Tiwi local government was bestowed the best municipality in Bicol award during the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-sponsored award ceremony.

At least 10 local government units across Bicol were declared finalist at the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi Awards. These were: at the provincial category - Albay, Camarines Norte, and Sorsogon; city category - Ligao, Naga and Legazpi; and the town category - Tiwi, Sto. Domingo in Albay, Ragay and Calabanga in Camarines Sur.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda together with city and town chief executives of Ligao, Legazpi, Tiwi, Sto Domingo received their respective awards from DILG Director Manny Gotis of the Bureau of Local Government Development at the awarding ceremonies on Wednesday.

The awardees would also be qualified to avail of the Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) where they can acquire necessary funds for the development of their respective municipalities.

Albay province won in the best province award category for carrying out sustainable local governance thru environmental integrity, social transformation and economic viability.

Salceda highlighted his projects focusing on education with the following projects sustained: Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme (AHECS) and Education Quality for Albayanos (EQUAL), the biggest funded scholarship program granted by an LGU in the country with 34,000 scholars.

He said with this program, the province hopes to achieve a “college graduate in every family,” and a more improved rating in the National Achievement Test (NAT) with Albay being among the top 20 provinces with high NAT ratings in 2016.

Another impact program is the creation of a medical course at the Bicol University in close partnership with the Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital.

For health services: Sustained and vibrant universal health care services that would bring down maternal and child mortality, Tuberculosis, and other diseases; and Inclusion of poor people in the PhilHealth program.

Jaime Villanueva, mayor of Tiwi, shared the town's best practice of implementing the Tiwi Upland Management Area for Nature Based Agriculture.

Linda Gonzales, Ligao City Mayor shared her LGU best practices thru the Ligao Participatory Governance for Social Economic Enterprise Development.

Noel Rosal, former Legazpi City Mayor and City Administrator, underscored the significance and city’s best practice thru Legazpi City’s Ecological Waste Management Program.

The representative of Naga City LGU share their best practice on I-Governance: Application of ICT in Local Governance.

Blandino Maceda, DILG regional director, said the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi Award and the Seal of Good Housekeeping Award are given yearly to local government units that have shown exemplary performance in governance, including promotion of transparency and accountability.

The two LGU awards were a brain child of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo who died in a plane crash on the coastal waters of Masbate City last August 19. (PNA) LAP/MSA/CBD/

DSWD says Makamasang Tugon program right on track in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 24 (PNA) -- The Aquino administration’s Makamasang Tugon (MT) program is performing effectively as a government tool in empowering countryside communities and reducing poverty in Bicol, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office here announced on Wednesday.

Under its Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDDS) modality, the program has been able to implement across the region a total of 216 projects for 2011-2012 that keep it right on the target of concretizing its objective of community empowerment and poverty alleviation.

All these projects implemented in at least 20 of the 107 municipalities in the region considered as the poorest of the poor in all the six provinces — Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon involving some 400 barangays are set to be completed this year, Remia Tapispisan, the DSWD regional director for Bicol on Wednesday said here.

Its funding for all these projects worth P248 million is part of the P434 million allotted for Bicol under MT’s five-year duration ending 2015.

Under the CIDSS modality, selected local communities are trained to choose, design and implement sub-projects that address their most pressing needs including small-scale infrastructures such as far-to-market roads, water systems, school buildings, drainage and irrigation systems, environmental protection and seawalls, among others.

In a recent quarterly meeting of the Provincial Inter Agency Committee (PIAC) held in Naga City, Tapispisan said assessments done on the implementation of project in the entire area of coverage in the region found it “very satisfactory”.

Aside from meeting targets in physical accomplishment of each project, she said the ongoing phase of MT has been able to reach significant milestones particularly in terms of empowering the community which include trained community volunteers, increased people’s participation in development planning and the promotion of greater transparency through local planning.

In the meeting, the PIAC took as a showcase in the regional assessment the province of Camarines Sur where 483 barangays from 18 municipalities benefited from the prioritized sub-projects.

These projects were implemented in the coastal towns of Baao, Balatan, Bato, Bombon, Bula, Cabusao, Caramoan, Del Gallego, Gainza, Garchitorena, Libmanan, Minalabac, Presentacion, Ocampo, Sangay, Siruma, Pasacao and Ragay.

Anchored on partnership, Tapispisan said the fund used to finance Camarines Sur projects came from various organizations given that of the P105.9 million total cost of the 94 projects assigned to these municipalities, P78.4 million come from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) while the remaining P27.5 million is from the local contributions.

MCC is a US-based organization from where President Benigno Aquino III has been able to secure a fund grant in September 2010 to expand the implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS nationwide under its new name Makamasang Tugon.

Local contributions come from various sources -- P5.6 million from the provincial government, P9.2 million from the local government units (LGUs) concerned, P9.3 million from the barangays, P1.5 million from the community and the remaining P1.8 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of 4th District Congressman Arnulfo Fuentebella.

Currently, the provincial government of Camarines Sur has already delivered its full share while the municipalities and the local communities have already settled P8.3 million and P1.1 million of their respective commitments, according to Tapispisan.

Funds for community projects are released directly to communities that adopt an open menu system for small scale projects. The communities, through the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum, approve which projects are to be funded.

While barangays are allowed to decide which projects to implement, these usually fall under sub-categories such as general public goods or access projects, community enterprise projects, and human resource development projects.

Projects under public goods or access projects are intended to deliver public services and address an issue of access to basic services. Community enterprise projects are those intended to directly contribute to increasing income of its intended beneficiaries while human resource development projects intend to increase local capacities and capabilities.

MT is the flagship poverty-alleviation program of the Aquino government which adopts the community-driven development (CDD) approach as its overall strategy in targeting the poorest municipalities in the country.

It is one of the three core poverty alleviation programs implemented by DSWD in partnership with local government units (LGUs).

The objectives of MT is to improve local governance, reduce poverty, and empower communities by honing capacities of the people to analyze their local situation, identify community needs, and implement small-scale community projects in partnership with their LGUs. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

Catanduanes officials slam 300% Tabaco City Port terminal fee hike

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 24 (PNA) -- Tabaco Port and Cargo Corp. (TPCC), an arrastre firm operating the Tabaco City Port terminal building, plans to hike its passenger terminal fee by about 300 percent. From the present rate of P11.20, the terminal fee being charged by a private firm managing the passenger terminal at the government-owned seaport in Tabaco City would be raised to P33.60 or 300 percent higher.

A report of Catanduanes Tribune said P30 of the new amount would go to TPCC while the P3.60 would go to the government, representing Value Added Tax (VAT) of 12 percent.

Government officials in the island province of Catanduanes, representing thousands of sea travelers to and from the island through the Tabaco City port, are against the rate increase on grounds that it will severely take a toll on Catanduanons, especially the low income group that travel with meager pocket money.

The Tribune said about 14,000 passengers going to and from Catanduanes passed through Tabaco port during lean months this year, with the figure increasing to over 20,000 a month during the summer months of April and May, the semestral break in October and the Christmas holidays in December as students and vacationers go home.

Even at the existing rate and based on an assumed 200,000 passengers per year, TPCC could be raking in P2 million per year for operating the terminal building.

The amount, it said citing statements from sectors against the terminal fee hike, is more than enough for the operator as majority of ferry passengers just pass through the building after paying for their ticket and terminal fee.

It quoted Catanduanes provincial board member Edwin Tanael as describing in his recent privilege speech delivered before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that the proposed increase was “extremely exorbitant, excessive and confiscatory.”

In the same privilege speech, Tanael said that TPCC is imposing the rate increase even as there appeared to be no improvement introduced to the terminal, except for the repair and restoration of what were damaged by a previous typhoon.

“It (TPCC) does not even provide tissue papers and soaps in its toilets,” Tanael said.

Tabaco port manager Rosenda Sumagaysay, on the other hand, said over the week that the rate hike was intended “to effectively and efficiently deliver the best Port Terminal Building (PTB) services to the public”.

She said there was a need to augment the operational fund for the maintenance and repair of the PTB and the port facilities and amenities used by passengers.

From the proceeds of the new rate, Sumagaysay said funds for the environmental and marine protection and risk reduction management necessary in Bicol ports would also be drawn.

But why make Catandunganons shoulder the cost for the operation and maintenance of the PTB and augment the fund for the environmental protection and risk reduction management necessary in Bicol Ports when there is regular budget for these from concerned agencies like the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Department of Transportation and Communication, according to Tanael.

Tanael has sponsored a resolution “vehemently opposing the rate increase” while the municipal legislative councils of at least three towns of Catanduanes have passed similar measures.

They are also asking TPCC to justify the proposed increase and have sought copies of their financial statements for past years.

The Tribune said its sources claimed that TPCC paid no rental for the building which was constructed by the government and instead remits only 10 percent of its income to the PPA. Several PPA officials are allegedly benefiting from the arrangement.

According to Sumagaysay, public hearing for the proposed rate hike was conducted last Oct. 16 with regional heads and representatives of several concerned government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), among others in attendance.

The Tribune said, Catanduanes stakeholders, including local officials, were informed of the public hearing only on Oct 14 though a letter sent to Virac town port mananger Flor Balota by the PPA regional office here.

Tanael had also requested the PPA to reset the public hearing to a later date to give Catanduanes stakeholders time to participate but it was reported turned down.

Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of the lone congressional district of Catanduanes, in a statement here on Wednesday, said he also called the attention of Sumagaysay, requesting the same postponement of the hearing just to be informed that the PPA was standing pat on holding it as scheduled. (PNA) RMA/DOC/CBD/

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PNP launches Oplan Undas in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 24 (PNA) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol would set up check points and deploy additional police personnel as a security measure during the observance of All Saints Day and All Souls Day , a religious event celebrated across the country, a police official said Wednesday.

The security plan would put the PNP operatives on high alert after it launched Oplan Undas on Wednesday designed to maintain peace and solemnity in observance of All Saints and All Souls Days across the Bicol region, according to police Supt. Renato Bataller, PNP Bicol spokesperson.

Bataller said police operatives were tasked to secure religious, public and private cemeteries, churches, major roads, airports, ports and other places where people usually converge during the religious event.

All Saints and All Souls Day will be observed on November 1 and 2 this year and were declared holidays.

Bataller said the PNP would also field additional personnel to provide support in manning assistance centers set up at various highways, airports, ports, including malls and communication relay stations.

Police assistance centers will also be set up at major ports and airports to assist passengers particularly in the cities of Naga and Legazpi, Masbate and in Virac, Catanduanes.

Security checks would be strictly enforced in bus terminals and major seaports across the region, added Bataller. (PNA) LAM/MSA/CBD/

Bicol trade fair generates P18.7M sales

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 24 (PNA) -- This year’s Bicol regional trade fair generated P18.7 million in sales, 10 percent higher than last year’s P17 million.

On per province sales performance, the highest earner in the four-day fair was Camarines Sur whose exhibitors went home P6.8 million richer, followed by Albay with P4.1 million; Catanduanes, P2.9 million; Sorsogon and Camarines Norte, P2.2 million each; and Masbate, P.524 million.

The fair held at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City last Oct. 4-7 was another success towards perking up business transactions involving all-Bicolano native products, said Jocelyn Blanco, the regional director for Bicol.

Blanco said these products range from processed foods, giftware and holiday décor, home furnishings, shell crafts, organic crops and wearables, all made from locally available raw materials.

She said the trade fair dubbed OKB (Orgullo Kan Bikol)-Gayon Bikol already realized P131 million in direct sales for 15 years of yearly staging starting in 1996.

These contributed much to investments and job generation in the region.

“OKB is our vehicle to develop new entrepreneurs. Every year, new and first-timers debuting into the mainstream Manila market compose about 20 percent of the total number of exhibitors,” Blanco said.

Indeed, OKB has transformed Bicol’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into direct and indirect exporters, contributing significantly to the region’s socio-economic growth.

It is also worth mentioning, according to Blanco, that OKB had developed a world-class packaging of processed native food products which are now more competitive and thus, reached as far as the U.S. for its market.

The DTI regional office is supporting local MSMEs in areas of product development by tapping the services of local designers to assist OKB participants in developing new designs for their handcrafted products, she said. (PNA) LDV/DOC/CBD

Albay braces for moderate to heavy rains as Ofel intensifies

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 24 (PNA) -- The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Albay on Wednesday enforced a "No Sailing" order for fishermen due to the presence of tropical storm Ofel.

The Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), in an emergency meeting on Tuesday, directed the PCG to strictly carry out the order for fishermen in the coastal villages across the province to prevent any untoward incident.

Disaster authorities are expecting moderate to heavy rains to hit the Bicol region due to the tropical storm.

Albay governor and PDRRMC chairperson Joey Salceda said the "no sailing" policy will initially apply to fishermen, but once a public storm signal is raised in Bicol, the order will apply to all sea vessels in various ports in the province.

Salceda also advised villagers not to cross flooded waters, swelling rivers and artificial pool of waters.

He also directed various local disaster councils to activate their respective operation centers for close monitoring of weather bulletins and PDRRMC advisories.(PNA) PDS/MSA/CBD/

Tailing storage facilities in 2 Bicol large-scale mines reviewed
By Alfredo L. Vargas Jr.

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 23 (PNA) –- Two large-scale mining companies in Bicol Region have opened its doors for design review and actual monitoring and observation of the ongoing construction of its tailing storage facilities (TSF)in a bid to avoid leakage.

Top officials of the Rapu-Rapu Minerals Incorporated (RRMI) and the Masbate Gold Project (MGP) along with their hired TSF experts met with officials from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Bicol regional office and an independent third party consultant to review the design and construction of respective TSFs.

The meeting was recently held in Makati City.

The tailings dams of RRMI and MGP were designed by GHD Philippines, an international network of engineers, architects and environmental scientists.

The consultant commissioned by the Mine Rehabilitation Fund Committee (MRFC) is the AMH Philippines that renders services in the fields of road and utility infrastructure planning and engineering design, environmental engineering, landfill planning and design, geology and geo-hazard assessment, geo-technical engineering, construction management, including construction quality control, building structural assessment and design, coastal engineering, drainage and hydraulic studies.

AMH has been monitoring the progress of the construction of the TSF of RRMI’s Rapu-Rapu Polymetalic Project in barangays Pagcolbon and Binosawan in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and MGP’s TSF at Barangays Lanang and Panique in Aroroy, Masbate if these are in accordance with the Philippine government standards.(PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG/JCF

Radio commentator held for shabu

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 23 (PNA) –- Elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s Regional Special Enforcement Team (PDEA-RSET) and Sorsogon PDEA Provincial office arrested a radio block timer in Masbate City for illegal possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as “shabu”, before dawn Tuesday in Pilar, Sorsogon.

The team, led PDEA 5 Bicol Director Archie Alzaga Grande and Sorsogon PDEA Provincial chief Lirio Ilao, collared the suspect, identified as Felicito Riva Lazaro, 61, and resident of Nursery Street, Masbate City while about to board a motorized banca bound for Aroroy, Masbate. Seized from the suspect was one plastic sachet containing five grams of shabu with an estimated street value of P30,000.

Lazaro, the program host of a daily public affairs “Bareta at Opinion” over radio station DYME in Masbate City was arrested at around 3 a.m. inside the Roll-on-Roll off Terminal in Pilar.

Lazaro is considered as one of the major supplier of shabu in Masbate City and in Aroroy. An informant alerted the PDEA operatives on the suspect’s arrival from Manila with a fresh supply of the drug. (PNA) FFC/ALV/MMG/JCF

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DSWD provides P11M fund to boost child nutrition drive in Camarines Norte
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct 23 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has released to Camarines Norte P11.4 million in grant to arm its local government units (LGUs) with funds in combating malnutrition among children.

Camarines Norte had in place effective programs in fighting child malnutrition being implemented in its 12 municipalities down to 282 barangays.

Remia Tapispisan, DSWD regional director for Bicol on Tuesday said the national government through its social welfare agency wanted these programs sustained.

Owing to its serious health campaign, Tapispisan said the province posted the lowest rate in child malnutrition among the six provinces of Bicol based on the latest report of the regional office of the National Nutrition Council (NCC).

The 2011 Operation Timbang Survey of the NCC showed that among the six provinces in Bicol, Camarines Norte registered only 12.97 percent child malnutrition rate, the lowest in the region.

In the same survey, Camarines Sur maintained its top position in the prevalence of underweight children with 19 percent, followed by Catanduanes with 18.3 percent; Masbate, 16.39; Albay, 14.91 percent and Sorsogon, 13 percent.

Camarines Norte Gov. Edgar Tallado had earlier acknowledged the survey result released by the NCC last July as a result of the performance of barangay health workers and nutrition scholars.

These volunteer workers, the governor said, are manning the frontline of the province’s fight against malnutrition and serving as extension arms of the health department in attending to other public health concerns especially involving mothers and children in the community level.

Supplemental feeding and initiatives like popularizing simple, cheap but nutritious food for mothers and children are the basic components of the province’s nutrition program, Tallado said adding that the nutrition survey result had encouraged his administration to invest more in public health covering mothers’ and children’s nutrition.

Tapispisan said the P11,431,940 fund released to the province last week and distributed among five of its 12 municipalities would serve as augmentation to local governments’ investments towards the intention of sustaining its gains in the war against child malnutrition.

Recipients of the fund are the municipal governments of Daet, Labo, Mercedes, San Vicente and Vinzons which will use it in food supplementation for children in Day Care Centers with ages between three and five years old.

The food in the form of hot meals will be served during break time in the morning session or during snack time in the afternoon five days a week.

The parents will manage the feeding program based on a prepared meal cycle using available indigenous food materials.

The children will be weighed at the start of the feeding and a monthly weighing thereafter will be done to determine the improvement and sustenance in their nutritional status, Tapispisan said.

The feeding program that will go on for six months in the entire five towns is targeting a total of 7,384 pre-school children, she said.

Apart from food supplementation, the program also include teaching the children good health practices such as proper washing of hands before and after meals and introducing to them the importance of good nutrition.

The Camarines Norte Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) was tasked to look after the proper implementation of the program.

Tapispisan said the P11.4 release was only initial as all the remaining seven municipalities of Camarines Norte are also entitled to the program in an effort to further improve the province’s good performance in its nutrition drive.

These remaining municipalities are just completing the documents required for the release of the fund, she explained.

“"We are targeting a much lower malnutrition rate for Camarines Norte in the next NCC survey. If we can bring it down to zero, the better,” she said.

All the other five provinces of Bicol are beneficiaries to the program and in fact, they have received the funds from the DSWD ahead of Camarines Norte.

It was started in September 2011 with a regional target of 115,125 children of pre-school ages under the objective of improving and sustaining their nutritional status as well as ensure that these children are accessed to appropriate health unit regarding their nutrition related problems including those who are at risk of mal-nutrition condition.

Each child has been budgeted an amount of P12.50 per day for 120 days or five days a week. This amount is used to purchase fortified rice and viand served as hot meal. (PNA) FPV/DOC/CBD/

Lesbian, Gay federation pushes for voluntary HIV testing
By Mike de la Rama

TIWI, Albay, Oct. 23 (PNA) -- The lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) federation in this town is pushing for a mass voluntary HIV testing among the third sex community.

Ervic Clerigo, LGBT federation president in meeting with the United Nations Development Programme outgoing director Renaud Meyer held here, Monday, said the mass HIV testing is set on November 29, this year , a pre-activity for the upcoming World AIDS Day this December 1.

The LGBT is conducting massive campaign to encourage other members of the third sex community to submit voluntarily for an HIV test. “The risk of having infected with HIV or even sexually transmitted infection is very high among the LGBT and men having sex with men.”

The LGBT federation in Tiwi was organized last year composed of 136 members from different barangays. Their program focuses on prevention, treatment and awareness on STI /HIV.

“We are assured that confidentiality of the client for HIV test will be observed as mandated under Philippine AIDS Law,” Clerigo said.

The mass testing for HIV is in collaboration with the Albay AIDS Council and Department of Health (DOH) regional office in Bicol.

According to Clerigo, the only means of determining the status of every LGBT member whether he or she is HIV negative or positive is through testing. “This is our campaign to prevent the spread of HIV and STI in the province of Albay.”

This year, Albay reported 45 HIV cases, two of them are local transmission.

Gayon Albay, a non government organization representing gay and bi-sexual through out the province of Albay announced Tuesday that their municipal counterparts have started the information drive to encourage participation in the HIV voluntary testing.

Toots Rivac of Gayon Albay said that before testing, pre- test counseling will be conducted by qualified counselor. “The testing is not exclusive for LGBT community, this is open to all interested individual/s who wishes to know their status specially those sexually active and having multiple partners.”

On the other hand, UNDP newly- assumed country director Toshi Tanaka told local media in Albay during his first visit here that Albay is exhibiting good performance in responding to HIV and STI. “Albay performed very satisfactory in addressing HIV and other Millennium Development Goals related programme.”

He also hailed the initiatives of the provincial government on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation specially the establishment of the first Climate Change Academy in Asia and the Pacific.(PNA) FPV/MDR/CBD/

Renewed DRRM-CCA education in Albay public schools

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 22 (PNA) -– Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has ordered the immediate inventory of textbooks integrated with Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) information distributed to public schools in the province to determine if there is a need to reprint new copies before the year ends.

Banking on the belief that disaster preparedness and environmental protection are better learned and assimilated at early age, Salceda told the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) to collaborate with the Department of Education (DepEd) division office and the Provincial Education Department for a renewed DRRM-CCA education in the public schools.

“Not because we are almost totally spared from disastrous typhoons in 2012 that we relax DRRM-CCA programs”, Salceda said.

The governor also ordered for the retraining of all public school teachers in Albay on DRRM-CCA teaching modules.

APSEMO chief and Climate Change Academy Director Cedric Daep said his office is set to remind local education officials of a memorandum issued by the DepEd Bicol regional office on the use of textbooks and teaching modules on CRRM-CCA.

The Albay division office and the three city DepEd division offices altogether have not less than 6,000 public school teachers who Salceda wanted to retrain. (PNA) FPV/ALV/SSC

Recycled plastic bottles adorn Legazpi City roads
By Alfredo L. Vargas Jr.

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 22 (PNA) -– All roadsides here, from the city proper to the barangays, already display Christmas ambience with colorful decors made from empty plastic bottles.

Done in the shape of poinsettias, its leaves and petals sway from the monsoon winds and radiate when illuminated by the solar-powered street lights.

Joggers, strollers and brisk walkers frequenting sidewalks at the downtown, public parks and roads along Legazpi Boulevard and the spiral upslope of Lignon Hill Fitness Park are grateful and humbled by the innovation.

In separate physical education sessions among students from the Bicol University at the boulevard and Lignon Hill, the participants took the city’s use of renewable energy as gesture of gratitude for the blessings nature has.

“We thank God because the sun provides us with power, then in exchange we care for this blessing by making sure our environment is safe in using this type of energy,” said Micah Ballaran, an AB freshman.

With the recycled plastic decors suspended from lamp posts, participants said this was added proof of the city government’s care for the environment by making another use of non-biodegradable wastes.

City Councilor Rolly Rosal, vice chair of the committee on environmental protection, said: "Christians glorify the Redeemer who was born in a manger, a gesture of supreme humility.

"We decided to adorn our streets with these cheap recyclable and available waste materials to show to the people the city government’s humility by making better use of our funds and not overspend on decorations."

With empty plastic bottles, the city government saves not less than 90 percent of funds devoted to yearly Christmas holiday road decorations.

And these plastic poinsettias can be used again next year and probably in years next, he said. (PNA) HBC/ALV/SSC

DTI renews consumer rights education in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 22 (PNA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regional office for Bicol has renewed its efforts to educate Bicolanos on their rights as consumers.

“We are doing this as part of our activities in the ongoing observance of the Consumers Welfare Month (CWM),” Helen Manila, the regional chief of the Consumer Welfare Division (CWD) on Monday here said.

Although DTI is aware that majority of Bicolanos are already educated on the provisions of Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines that guarantee eight basic rights such as right to basic needs, product safety, product information, representation, choice, redress, consumer education and healthy environment, the move would only serve as a reminder.

Towards this end, the government is implementing measures for the protection of consumers against hazards to health and safety, and deceptive, unfair and unconscionable sales acts and practices.

The provision of information and education to facilitate sound choice and the proper exercise of rights by the consumer; provision of adequate rights and means of redress; and involvement of consumer representatives in the formulation of social and economic policies are also mandated by the Act.

The ongoing education and information campaign, Manila said, is in line with the theme “Get Organized, Be Heard, Be Empowered” which calls for vigilance among consumers especially in buying goods and services.

Its primary objectives are to revitalize, strengthen and empower the regional and national consumer organizations in the country.

The annual CWM aims to promote dissemination of sound consumer information on subjects that affect the consumers, and to encourage dialogue and cooperation among the consumers, business and government sectors in strengthening consumer awareness and protection.

It is also to assure consumers that DTI, which the lead agency in the implementation of RA 7394, has put in place procedures for systematically logging in, investigating and responding to complaints that provide practicable simple and easy access on the part of the consumers to seek redress for their grievances, she said.

“We are enjoining consumers to always be vigilant and critically aware of their rights in buying goods and services. Their purchase should be commensurate with the money parted,” Manila stressed.

Part of the information and education campaign that the DTI is conducting, she said, is focused on the need for consumers to be aware of misleading labels and advertisements by reading the specified information especially the precautions and warning in using it.

They can file complaints if the information on product labels and advertisements do not correspond with the actual product. “We have our consumer complaint desks not only in our office but also in different business establishments to address the concerns of consumers,” Manila said.

Since DTI had a standing prohibition against the “no return, no exchange” policy that some business establishments in Bicol are still imposing, she said the consumers should notify at once the agency about any violation encountered.

The prohibition however is not absolute as consumers are allowed to return or exchange products only due to defects and not simply because they changed their mind about wanting the product, she clarified. (PNA) FPV/DOC/CBD/

Monday, October 22, 2012

Copies of RH Bill amendments distributed in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 22 (PNA) -- A revised version of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill containing amendments had made its way around the House of Representatives before session resumes on Nov. 5.

Dr. Eden Divinagracia, executive director of the Philippine Non-Government Organization Council on Population Health and Welfare (PNGOC) distributed copies of the amendments on Saturday in an effort to seek more public support and considerations from print and broadcast media in Bicol.

PNGOC is an umbrella organization of 97 non-government organizations across the country and has been in advocating for the passage of a law on reproductive health for more than a decade now. Divinagracia was here to attend the maiden radio broadcast of a program about the RH bill.

RH bill ally Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman was quoted in the PNGOC information materials as saying these new amendments contained in the new version of the RH Bill were deemed acceptable to both warring factions of the measure.

PNGOC fielded an advocacy team to this city for last Saturday’s maiden broadcast of its one-hour radio forum “Kapihan at Balitaktakan sa RH Bill 2012” in the hope of gaining more support for the passage of the RH bill into law. (PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG/EBP

Forest guards tasked to check for infestations

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 22 (PNA) -- Aside from guarding the forests against banned activities particularly illegal logging,forest guards are now tasked to also check for pests, fungi or insects.

This was the goal behind the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) workshop dubbed as "Community-based Forest Protection and Integrated Pest Management Workshop," attended by forest rangers, forestry extension officers, and other stakeholders from the environmental protection sectors.

DENR-Bicol Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said that the pest control program is being undertaken vis-à-vis with the efforts to reforest the denuded areas through the government’s National Greening Program.

“Indeed, we cannot just undermine the importance of seriously guarding our forests against man-driven destructions as well as natural infestations side-by-side with our reforestation efforts,” Gonzales said.

He said that the efforts to reforest would be merely a waste if pests would be unchecked to destroy our newly planted trees.(PNA) PDS/SMT/CBD/

Albay allots P274M to climate change agricultural adaptation programs

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 22 (PNA) -- At least P274 million has been sourced out and earmarked by the Albay provincial government for climate change adaptation (CCA) programs and projects for the agriculture sector.

This, despite the province’s present lack of technical knowledge and information on agricultural adaptation program designs and implementation procedures.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda admitted the provincial government has not derived sufficient knowledge about agriculture practices that are responsive to climatology changes.

In the absence of success stories on agricultural adaptation from other areas in the Philippines available for replication and possible innovations in Albay, the local government is left without a choice but to make an inventory of local farming strategies and make the most of the available resources to map out workable and effective adaptation programs.

While assimilating lessons from local farmers and involving the expertise of agriculturists and scientists working on agriculture, the funds have been under the safekeeping of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional office based in this city.

“The good thing is we already have the funds and the soonest we derived the needed knowledge, we can at once implement (agricultural adaptation) programs,” Salceda said.

Initial plans presented by Salceda give priority focus on barangay level of adaptation especially in the islands of Cagraray, Rapu-Rapu, Batan and San Miguel (CRABS).

“It shall be integrated in our existing CRABS programs on agriculture. The expertise and experiences of farmers in the islands are important inputs we can make use of,” Salceda added.

Also, the provincial government plans to tap the Bicol University (BU) College of Agriculture and Forestry in Guinobatan, Albay and the BU College of fisheries in Tabaco City in designing agricultural adaptation programs. (PNA) LAP/ALV/MMG/EBP