Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Albay to make Mayon climbing a criminal offense
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 (PNA) – The provincial government of Albay will make Mayon climbing and any other activities in the volcano a criminal offense.

Alarmed by the two latest Mayon incidents that resulted in the killing and wounding of foreigners and local mountaineers with the province bearing the blame, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda met with the provincial board last week.

The result of the meeting is a soon-to-be-enacted ordinance that will ban Mayon climbing and make violators criminally liable with at least one-year imprisonment.

Mayon climbing has been an open activity to anyone when it is under “0” alert level.

This condition has attracted foreign and local tourists despite an executive order declaring the area within Mayon’s six-kilometer radius a permanent danger zone.

It is not clear, however, if the more than 2,000 farmers tilling their farms daily near the foot of Mayon, which is very much inside the six-kilometer (km) permanent danger zone (PDZ), will be covered by the proposed ordinance.

Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office, said local mountaineers and tourist guides have already registered opposition to the proposed ordinance.

“We need the ordinance to ban Mayon climbing in support of the executive order declaring the six-kilometer permanent danger zone a 'no man’s land',” Daep said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has maintained that under the six-km PDZ order, there should be no human activity even the volcano is on “0” alert level status.

Phivolcs officials claimed that Mayon is a dangerous active volcano that may erupt anytime without showing signs or indications of erupting such as the phreatic type which cannot be traced by the sensitive volcano monitoring equipment and gadgets.

Mayon resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta warned that even during earthquakes, Mayon climbers are in danger of getting killed or hurt by rolling boulders.

On May 7, Mayon erupted without an earlier sign of danger coming.

There were 28 foreigners and local tourist guides at that time.

Four Germans and one tourist guide were killed while 8 others were wounded.

The incident prompted President Aquino to blame the provincial government of Albay, wondering why Mayon had become free for mountaineers with the declaration of the six-km PDZ.

Reports said the government spent more than a million to retrieve the casualties and rescue the survivors.

On May 21, another foreigner, a Russian national, jolted the province again when he sought help through a text message to a local resident, saying he was trapped, could not move, with his feet broken while at the Mayon slope estimated at 1,700 meters above the sea level.

The Russian national identified as Mark Yuchugaev, 28, reportedly sneaked into Mayon on May 19, using an untried route despite warning from local residents on the ban.

According to an official of the local Office of the Civil Defense, the two-day rescue of Yuchugaev cost the government more than P.5 million.

Former Legazpi mayor now city administrator Noel Rosal said the ordinance is needed.

He also cited the big eruption that occurred lunch time in 1993 where close to 80 farmers from five barangays in Legazpi were killed.

The farmers were tilling their farms near the foot of Mayon, which is very much inside the six-km PDZ.

Rosal said the 1993 eruption did not also have a sign or indication of abnormality, saying it was under “0” alert level status.

Phivolcs had described the 1993 and the latest eruption on May 7 as phreatic explosion.

Rosal disclosed that then Albay Gov. Romeo Salalima filed a class suit against Phivolcs for the death of the farmers who were not warned earlier by the agency of the eruption that lasted for almost a month.

But because of the existing order for a six- km PDZ, then President Fidel Ramos sided with Phivolcs, blaming the province for failure to impose the danger zone as “no man’s land.(PNA) HBC/FGS/MU/CBD

Albayanos want sanction on Russian who climbed Mayon despite warning
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- Albay residents have asked authorities to sanction the Russian national who sneaked in and climbed Mayon despite it being declared a “no man’s land."

Russian national Mark Yuchugaev, 28, went up the volcano barely two weeks after its latest eruption on May 7 trapped 28 mountaineers, killing four foreigners and a local tourist guide and injuring eight others.

President Benigno Aquino III reacted sharply over the earlier incident, even expressing surprise on why mountaineers were being allowed to climb Mayon when there was an existing order declaring a six-kilometer radius from the volcano’s crater as a permanent danger zone.

The mountaineers, however, reportedly scaled Mayon without the knowledge of authorities.

On Sunday the other week, Yuchugaev climbed the volcano alone but was trapped after reaching 1,700 meters above sea level, his feet broken and he could not move.

He sent a text message to a local contact and relayed his situation.

A two-day search and rescue operation was mounted, costing the local and national governments P520,000, according to a local official of the Office of the Civil Defense.

Shocked and surprised by this second incident, resident volcanologists at the Mayon Observatory reiterated Mayon as a no man’s land and urged authorities to strictly enforce the order.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) described the latest Mayon eruption while it was under “0” alert level as phreatic, with no sign or indication of an impending eruption.

“The government should impose sanction on these foreigners to teach them a lesson,” said former Jovellar town mayor Jose Arcangel, Jr. “Imagine this Russian national who was already warned of the ban, violated it, and here we are pouring our resources with speed to rescue him alive without showing a sign of remorse,” lamented the mayor of the town for 24 years.

He said that in similar situations in other countries, one will certainly be rescued but will not be spared of possible incarceration for the violation.

According to Joshepus Ojano, Bureau of Immigration-Bicol officer, they are still awaiting for the result of investigation being conducted by the provincial government before imposing any sanction on the erring Russian. He said it is impossible that the Russian national was not aware of the warning imposed by the government following the May 7 eruption that killed four foreigners, bringing Mayon in the world news.

Local residents said the government should show to foreigners that the province also has a law to follow and respect.

Interviewed by the media after he was unloaded from the chopper, the Russian boasted that as soon as he recovers, he will return to scale Mayon again up to the crater, saying the volcano has an unexplainable attraction to him and its perfect symmetry fascinates him.

He thanked the rescuers but did not even say sorry for the blunder he committed for climbing Mayon volcano.

Legazpi City administrator now mayor-elect Noel Rosal agreed that a sanction should be imposed on Yuchagaev to serve as a lesson.

Supt. Renato Bataller, Philippine National Police Bicol spokesman, said the police are not aware of any criminal liability under the existing executive order for breaching the Mayon permanent danger zone.

He said a provincial ordinance that will impose sanctions and penalties for violators is necessary.(PNA) LAP/FGS/MU/CBD

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Legazpi recovers 3,492 kgs of residual plastic

LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- The City Government of Legazpi, through its City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), collected 3,492 kilograms of residual plastic in 2012 through the implementation of its Plastic for Rice Program.

The move is also in compliance with RA 9003, otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, and City Ordinance No. 0017-2009.

Both legislations aim to improve the social environmental living condition of the people by encouraging resource recovery and conservation and promoting public participation.

CENR officer Salve Corral said the Plastic for Rice Program is a special strategy of the city that aims to prolong the life span of its sanitary landfill by reducing the garbage being deposited in the area.

Corral said this is done in the 70 villages of this city by encouraging residents to collect five kilos of residual plastic in exchange for one kilo of rice.

She pointed out that this program also helps prevent the clogging of the canals and other drainage systems in the downtown areas of the city that cause heavy flooding, especially during rainy seasons.

Corral stressed that all the residual plastic recovered by the CENRO personnel are processed and pulverized using their pulverizer machine at the motor pool compound.

They then distributed the pulverized material to the barangays for their livelihood projects.

Corral also said some barangays are also buying from the eco aides and other scavengers plastic tetra packs or sachets of shampoos, toothpastes and juices which they use as materials for making decorative and other livelihood products.

City Mayor Carmen Geraldine B. Rosal said she had asked the CENRO and the Public Safety Office to inform the public to stop the burning of garbage from waste materials in public places, backyards, residences and all parts of the communities to stop the Unintentionally Produced Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOP).

She pointed out that this environmental friendly policy is in connection with the compliance of the city government to a memorandum of agreement recently entered into with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the implementation of Anti-UPOP projects.

The primary task of this city under the agreement is to stop the practice of burning in dumps to reduce the release of emission of dioxins and furans, she added.

The city government of Legazpi was awarded by the National Solid Waste Management Council on Jan. 30 at the DENR Regional office in Barangay Rawis as one of the best local government units to implement the solid waste management program of the government.(PNA) FFC/FGS/MPS/CBD

APEC summit seen to expedite construction of P3.5-B Bicol int'l airport in Albay
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- Should the provincial government of Albay win the bid to host the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2015 here, the construction of the South Luzon International Airport might be fast tracked.

The construction of the international airport here has been delayed due to the slow release of its budget, which affects the 2014 target completion.

With the winning of the hosting bid, the Aquino administration might expedite the construction of the airport in Barangay Alobo, Daraga town, so that the APEC leaders will fly directly here from their respective countries, business and political leaders here said.

The APEC is a forum of 21 member-economies that include the Philippines, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam.

The 21 Pacific Rim countries (member-economies), which seek to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region, established the APEC in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world.

The venue of the meeting rotates annually among the member-economies.

The Philippines will host the APEC summit in 2015, as announced in last year’s meeting in Russia.

Indonesia will host the 2013 gathering, and China will host the 2014 meet.

The provincial government of Albay led by Governor Joey Salceda is offering the venue for the 2015 summit -- the world-class luxury island in Misibis Bay, Cagraray Island in Bacacay town, facing the Pacific.

“It is time to paddle our canoe together towards its destiny and its destination -- greater social prosperity and economic progress,” Salceda said.

Albay is putting its best foot forward to gain the APEC hosting rights.

Salceda formally presented the province’s bid on Monday at the Asian Institute of Management.

Other places, mostly cities, will present their respective bids Tuesday.

The Philippines first hosted an APEC leaders’ summit in 1996 or almost eight years ago.

Albay, which faces the Pacific Ocean, is the most strategic and ideal venue for the summit being “truly the only Pacific province of the Philippines,” according to Salceda, also Bicol Regional Development Council chair.

Should the hosting committee approve the bid of the provincial government of Albay, the APEC 15 summit with be done in Misibis Bay in Cagraray Island—the precious jewel where the Bicol civilization began.

The Misibis Bay resort is located in a five-hectare seafront land with pristine stretch of beach at the southern tip of Cagraray Island.

It can be reached via a 50-minute flight from Manila to Legazpi, then a 45-minute scenic travel by land, or a 15-minute helicopter ride, or by fast watercraft in 30 minutes from Legazpi City seaport.(PNA) HBC/FGS/RBB/CBD/

Grandson-defeated old-time pol slams election defects
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- A defeated old-time politician in Camarines Sur, humbled by his grandson in a dramatic and hotly contested gubernatorial race, slammed alleged defects in the election results two weeks after the proclamation of local winners in the May 13 midterm elections.

Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte said Tuesday he would file a case at the Supreme Court as the total number of votes cast did not tally with the sum of votes in the gubernatorial position, with a difference of at least 100,000 votes.

Defiant, Luis enumerated a litany of alleged violations, including the use of his grandson of the name “Miz-LRay Jr.”

The Villafuerte clan patriarch dismally lost to his grandson Miguel “Migz” Luis Villafuerte, son of estranged son, outgoing Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte, by more than 60,000 votes.

Luis, a vocal critic of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo -- his estranged nephew even after the latter's death in a plane crash off Masbate coast last year, pointed a finger to representative-elect widow Leni G. Robredo, for using alleged funding from foreign sources.

Leni, who filed vote-buying cases against congressional opponent, Nelly F. Villafuerte and husband Luis at the Commission on Elections on May 13, has consistently denied Luis’ allegations.

At the family-owned Bicol Broadcasting System-dwLV, from 8-10 a.m. Tuesday, Luis aired unabashedly the alleged electronic cheating, citing pre-programmed results and perceived improbability of him losing more than 50 percent of his estimated voters.

The grandfather loser, who suffered only one defeat in 15 years as governor of Camarines Sur, was surprised that he was even defeated in his consistent bailiwick town of Calabanga by third-runner and Liberal Party candidate Jose Anselmo Cadiz.

Cadiz won against Luis and Migz in a five-corner gubernatorial race in that town with more than 40,000 voters.

Luis said he was announcing his take on what happened during the elections because he had enough information to do so as he is not wont to just give conclusions without studying them.(PNA) HBC/FGS/JME/CBD/

Cebu Pacific flies Masbate-Cebu route to boost trade, local tourism
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 (PNA) – Cebu Pacific will start flying the Masbate-Cebu route next week, a development that the Regional Development Council for Bicol considers as a boost to the island’s flourishing commerce and tourism.

In a statement Tuesday, Candice Iyog, CEB vice-president for marketing and distribution, said the budget carrier will launch its maiden flight for the route on June 1 using the 70-seater turboprop aircraft, ATR 72-500.

The ATR 72-500 is the latest development of the ATR 72.

It draws from the in-service experience of more than 700 ATR aircraft flying worldwide, with a proven average dispatch reliability of more than 99 percent, according to Iyog.

The ATR 72-500 fully meets the customer requirements in a rapidly evolving market and is playing a major role in the growth of regional carriers.

It offers the lowest seat-mile costs in its class and great efficiency and reliability to regional operation.

The aircraft perfectly suits operation on narrow runways like that of the Masbate domestic airport, Iyog added.

Initially, she said, the Masbate-Cebu and vice-versa flights are scheduled four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

One-way ticket price is placed at P688.

Flight schedules released by the CEB office here said departure time from Cebu is 6:15 a.m. and the expected time of arrival at the Moises R. Espinosa Sr. Memorial Airport in Masbate City is 7:10 a.m.

Return flight on same days to Cebu will leave Masbate airport at 7:30 a.m and arrive Cebu at 8:25 a.m.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, who heads the Bicol RDC, said this newest CEB route serving part of Bicol will be a big boost to the local tourism industry and trade exchanges between Masbate and Cebu.

The province is among the country’s richest in precious minerals with its gold and silver deposited in the mining town of Aroroy while its fertile pastures make the island known as the Cattle Country of the Philippines.

Abroad, Masbate is famous as the Rodeo Capital of Asia and a yearly destination for rodeo games enthusiasts from all over the world.

The RDC has been initiating moves to lure tourists looking for more fun and adventure into this magnificent island-province considered as the center ground of the Philippines.

The path leading to Its magnificent eco-tourism spots remains unbeaten, Salceda said.

Bounded on the north by Burias and Ticao passes, south by the Visayan Sea, east by San Bernardino Strait and west by the Sibuyan Sea, between latitudes 11º 43’ north and 123º09’ east and 124º5’ east, Masbate is one of Bicol’s six provinces considered as among the hidden treasures of the Philippines with its undisturbed natural reefs and reserves.

Most noted for its agricultural pasture lands, cattle raising, superb scuba dive spots, white sand beaches and gold mines, Masbate is indeed a “tropical paradise” with clear waters, lush farm lands, rolling hills and friendly people who call themselves Masbateños.

Just recently, the RDC came up with the Albay-Masbate- Sorsogon-Catanduanes (AlMaSorCa) Tourism Alliance, the tourism road map for the entire region conceptualized to achieve development not only in mainland Bicol but also in Masbate.

This calls for a more integrated and comprehensive promotion strategy to market the potentials of the regional tourism industry, eyeing some 650,000 foreign tourist arrivals in the area annually within five years.

At present, the Masbate mainland is served by Zest Airlines and Philippine Airlines Air Express with daily flights from Manila and back.

It could also be reached from the Bicol mainland via a two-hour fast craft cruise from Pilar, Sorsogon, or four-hours on ferry boat from Bulan, Sorsogon.

Large commercial sea craft sailing the Cebu-Manila route also stop over the Masbate City port to load or unload cargoes and passengers.

According to Salceda, the man behind the formation of the (AlMaSorCa) Tourism Alliance, a technical working group of the RDC has been conducting a “re-inventory” of Masbate and other Bicol tourism destinations as part of a strategic approach to accelerate tourism development and enhance the attractiveness of the region as a tourist destination.

The realignment of tourism activities in all provinces in the region will enable the Bicol peninsula to have a more coherent market positioning and promotion, he added. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

PNP-Masbate slates PO1 recruitment

CAMP BONNY SERRANO, Masbate City, May 28 (PNA) -– The Philippine National Police Recruitment Program for the year 2013 will resume on June 14 after the Commission on Elections ordered a freeze on hiring, promotion, salary increase and transfer of government employees during election period which will end on June 12, a top police official here said Tuesday.

Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, Masbate Provincial Police Office director, said the PO1 (Police Officer 1) Recruitment Program will start on June 14 and end with the oath-taking of successful applicants on September 30.

In line with this, Olitoquit said, the MPPO’s Administration Branch will be accepting application folders starting June 14 with the following documentary requirements contained in a folder with white tabbing and with table of contents:

Tab “A” - Duly accomplished Personal Data Sheet (CSC form 212/Revised 2005)/must be handwritten (preferably black ball pen); Tab“B” - Birth Certificate authenticated by the National Statistics Office (for married, submit marriage contract); Tab “C”- Eligibility Report of Rating authenticated by the issuing office/authority;

Tab “D” -2 pieces 2X2 black and white picture indicating applicant’s name (1 bust picture and 1 whole body picture); Tab “E” - Transcript of Scholastic Records and Diploma duly authenticated by the school registrar; Tab “F” - Certificate of good moral character issued by the college/university where the applicant graduated duly authenticated by the school registrar;

Tab “G” - Local clearances (barangay, police, police provincial office, mayors, municipal trial court, regional trial court, provincial prosecutor and National Bureau of Investigation); Tab “H” - Medical Certificate from city/municipal health office and ECG result; and, Tab “L” - Fingerprints and handwriting specimen from the National Police Commission.

To qualify, the applicant must be a citizen of the Philippines; a person of good moral character; must have passed the physical agility test, neuro-psychological examination, general physical and dental examination as well as drug test to be administered by the PNP for the purpose of determining physical and mental health; must possess a formal baccalaureate degree from a recognized institution of learning; must be eligible in accordance with the standards set by Napolcom; must have not been dishonorably discharged from military employment or dismissed for cause from any civilian position in the government; must have not been convicted by final judgment of an offense or crime involving moral turpitude; must be at least 1.62 meters in height for male and 1.57 meters for female; must not weigh not more or less five kilograms than the standard weight corresponding to his or her height, age, and sex; and, must not be less than 21 nor more than 30 years old upon oath-taking.

The deadline for the submission of folders will be on June 28.

For any inquiries relative to the PNP Recruitment for CY 2013, interested applicants may go to police offices in their locality, PNP Provincial Office, Camp Bonny Serrano, Masbate City or may contact cell phone number 09074081918.(PNA) LAP/FGS/EA/CBD/

Youngest elected governor in Philippine history faces great expectations
By John Mark Escandor

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 27 (PNA) -- Camarines Sur's incoming chief executive who is the country's youngest elected governor in history, is now confronted with great expectations and has been barraged with doubts on his capacity to govern the biggest province in Bicolandia.

Miguel “Migz” Luis Villafuerte, 24, son of outgoing provincial chief executive, Governor Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte, has no experience in governance and public service to speak of.

Yet, he bears the great responsibility of governing Camarines Sur, the largest province in Bicol, southeast of Metro Manila and carries the torch of the Villafuertes who have dominated the provincial politics for decades.

Miguel brushed aside doubts on his capability to run Camarines Sur.

“In the first place, being a public servant, a governor is not about age, sex or religion. I believe that in order to be a good leader, one must be sincere and dedicated,” he said in Filipino.

Pressed to react on the issue that he is inexperienced, he said, “Where am I inexperienced? I don’t believe in it. I believe in the sincerity and determination of a man to serve the country.”

Miguel is a graduate of Political Science at the University of San Diego in California in 2012.

He vowed to uplift the plight of the Camarinenses by continuing what his father has started, referring to the phenomenal rise of Camarines Sur in its tourism projects.

These projects that his father has pursued, like the Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) and development of the Caramoan peninsula, have made the province the top tourist destination in the Philippines since 2010, according to the Department of Tourism.

Miguel was introduced to the public through wakeboarding competitions at CWC, a commercial watersports facility inside the more than 100-hectare provincial government compound in Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur.

In his Facebook account, he listed his work as founder and chief executive officer of JungleFace and founder and president of Republic Inc.

JungleFace and Republic are business enterprises owned by the family of LRay.

He attended pre-school and grade schools at De La Salle Zobel and high school at the International School of Manila.

Miguel said he will start his work as a governor by providing villagers with drinking water, classrooms and livelihood opportunities from tourism.






Andaya urges politicians to learn from change of electoral dynamics in CamSur
By John Mark Escandor

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 27 (PNA) -- Reelected Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. (First District, Camarines Sur) said politicians must learn from what he perceives as a shift in the dynamics and demographics of elections in the province.

Andaya was reacting to the victory of Miguel "Migz" Villafuerte over his grandfather, Luis, and Jose Anselmo Cadiz, former solicitor-general, in which he observed the pattern of voting to have shifted to young voters and candidates.

"The shift explains why a lot of young leaders were elected this time around. It's a lesson to all officials and other incumbent to probably learn from this experience," he said.

Andaya observed that the old system of campaigning and the whole system of dealing with the public have already changed.

”These systems have evolved into something else, which explains these quite unique and interesting results," the reelected congressman added.

The former budget secretary said the province must respect the results of the elections.

Referring to apparent gubernatorial winner Migz, Andaya said he expects a dynamic and youthful leader who will go around the biggest province in Bicol.

"He (Migz) will take advantage of his age," he said.

Andaya noted that perhaps, the usual voters are not voting anymore now and the youth must be watched more.

“The old voters may not be that big now,” he added.

After filing his certificate of candidacy last year, Migz said he was targeting the youth sector that, he said, comprised about 60 percent of the total voters of Camarines Sur. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD

American prof claims patronage politics not primarily due to cultural factors
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, May 27 (PNA) -– A visiting American professor claimed patronage politics is not primarily due to cultural factors and that it is common in four Southeast Asian countries -- the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Paul D. Hutchcroft, American professor and director of the School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at the Australian National University, traced patronage politics in the country to its institutional formation during the American colonial period.

Hutchcrot was here recently to study patronage politics during elections.

He said it was easy for patronage-hungry politicians to overwhelm the nascent administrative agencies of the colonial state because representative institutions in the Philippines emerged before the creation of strong bureaucratic institutions.

“(Governor-General William Howard) Taft liked to evoke images of New England–style deliberative democracy, but the end result is better thought of as a Philippine version of Tammany Hall (the corrupt political machine of 19th-century New York City),” he added.

Hutchcroft authored the book “Booty Capitalism: The Politics of Banking in the Philippines” and essay titled “The Arroyo Imbroglio in the Philippines” in the magazine Journal of Democracy.

“The patterns of patronage politics in the Philippines can be traced most of all to the American colonial regime which goes back to the early 20th century. National-level politicians dispense pork and patronage in order to get access to vote banks controlled by local politicians, and the local politicians in turn enjoy the use of resources that can help them get reelected to office,” the American author said.

He said he does not think there is any sort of cultural propensity in the Philippines if on goes back to the way that the Americans set up representational structures raided by patronage-hungry politicians.

Hutchcroft said patronage politics has components that include vote-buying, pork barrel, jobs for supporters after elections and network in which patronage flows.

He these components of patronage politics are present in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand but take on different forms.

Comparing the Philippines to Malaysia, which has just held its national elections, Indonesia and Thailand, the American professor noted the difference that lies in the network in which patronage flow.

He identified four networks where patronage politics flows, serving as the framework of their study in the four Southeast Asian countries.

These, Hutchcroft said, are personal ties, brokerage relationship, large religious associations and political parties.

He said all four networks appear in the four countries they have studied, only with different focuses.

“In the Philippines, it seemed patronage politics focuses on personal relations; in Indonesia on social-religious organizations; Malaysia, political parties; and Thailand, brokerage ties,” the American professor said.

He said that in the Philippines, political parties are “notoriously weak, it’s a very candidate-centered party, where parties are not really important.”

Hutchcroft observed that in Indonesia, social-religious groups are influential while in Thailand, patronage politics is channeled through independent private groups brokering for politicians where campaign operators seek the highest bidder-politicians.

In Malaysia, he said, people choose candidates based on the agenda of political parties with great consideration on the ethnicity of the electorates comprising of Malays, Chinese and Indians.

“Patronage is fused to the state: the ruling coalition has access to state resources as it develops programs that essentially seek to bribe the voters,” Hutchcroft said.

He noted that in the same country, the ruling coalition has been in power for so long.

There has been such a fusion of the party and state that it is hard to tell where the party ends and the state begins, he said.(PNA) HBC/FGS/JME/CBD

CSC now grants civil service eligibility to qualified local legislators

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 (PNA) – The Civil Service Commission (CSC) in Bicol is now granting civil service eligibilities to elected members of local legislative councils and provincial legislative boards who may qualify based on the rules and guidelines it recently set.

These legislators may now apply for eligibility with the CSC regional office here provided they are qualified, based on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 10156, the law that allows members of the city and municipal councils and provincial boards a certain level of civil service eligibility.

RA 10156 or the “Act Conferring Upon Members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panglungsod and Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the Appropriate Civil Service Eligibility Under Certain Circumstances, and for Other Purposes” is now in effect following the issuance of the IRR covering the Sanggunian Member Eligibility (SME) by the CSC last May 1.

Cecilia Nieto, the CSC regional director for Bicol, on Monday said the SME may be granted to Sanggunian members if they meet the required number of years of service and educational attainment as defined under RA 10156.

Nieto said the Sanggunian First Level Eligibility is equivalent to a Career Service Sub-Professional Eligibility and is granted to Sanggunian members who have served for an aggregate period of six years and have completed at least 72 academic units leading to a baccalaureate degree.

Meanwhile, the Sanggunian Second Level Eligibility corresponds to a Career Service Professional Eligibility and may be granted to those who have served for an aggregate period of nine years and also completed a baccalaureate/bachelor’s degree.

Members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Panlunsod and Panlalawigan who have been elected after the effectivity of Republic Act 7160 or the the Local Government Code of 1991 or on May 11, 1992 onwards and have met the requirements are entitled to the SME grant, Nieto said.

Under the guidelines, she said, the prescriptive period for Sanggunian members who have completed six or nine years of service is within five years from the effectivity of the IRR or in May of 2013.

For those elected in the May 2013 elections, prescriptive period shall be within two years upon meeting required number of years of service.

The computation of the aggregate years of service shall be based on the actual number of years of service per official records of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and its regional offices.

Also, the number of years of service in any and in one or more positions may be accumulated for the purpose of computing and completing the required aggregate number of years of service.

Ex-officio council or board members who were not elected -- such as president of provincial, city or municipal chapter of the Liga ng mga Barangay and the Municipal Councilors League -- are not entitled to the grant of eligibility, Nieto clarified.

The CSC Bicol regional office, she added, accepts applications only from qualified Sanggunian members whose last terms of office or years of services were served in the province, city or municipality within the region. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

What’s keeping James punctual?
By Jesseshan Marbella

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 (PNA) -- James wakes up before his elder siblings could get up.

He sets off his day by serving as the alarm clock for his family.

As early as seven, he’s ready for another day in school.

James Jerald Balanes of Minalabac, Camarines Sur, is known for his punctuality in school.

This is something new to his parents. His zest to attend his class is something noteworthy.

His mother, Jennlyn, said that after her son transferred to their new classroom last September 2012, it seems that James has become more interested and engaged.

“Siya na ang nagsasabi sa akin na paliguan at bihisan na siya. Ayaw niya kasing umabsent kahit isang araw (He always reminds me to bathe and dress him up for school. He doesn’t want to be absent even for a single day},” Jennlyn said.

At the age of four, James has developed a strong sense of responsibility.

Gina Cilot, James’ teacher, said he regularly comes to school 30 minutes before their session begins.

“He comes to school early. He would even join his classmate’s parents if his mother is not able to bring him to school,” Cilot added.

The advent of the new daycare center in Barangay Irayang Solong has paved the way for more opportunities not only for James but also for other preschoolers in the village.

She said the center is accessible and conducive for learning, emphasizing that its location is safe for the pupils to play.

“Hindi na ako nag-aalala para kay James kasi alam ko na ligtas siya du’n. Malawak ang playground at malinis ang kapaligiran (I don’t need to worry about James anymore because I know it’s a safe place for him to stay. Its surroundings is clean and there’s a vast area for their playground),”Jenlynn said.

James said it’s better to study in their new daycare center because it is beautiful.

He enjoys the wooden tables and chairs with polychromatic paint and looks forward to the daily feeding program at school.

The daycare center in Irayang Solong is one of the subprojects of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

It is a multi-funded project of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) covering all provinces in Bicol region.

Kalahi-CIDSS is a community-driven development project in the Philippines, which strongly advocates the involvement of local communities in the design and implementation of development projects to address the issue of poverty in the country.

It aims to improve local governance by employing the participation of the people in the communities in the development process.

Community residents consensually decide on what type of poverty-reduction projects they prioritize for funding, based on the collective analysis of their needs.

Community proposals can vary from public goods/access projects, enterprise or livelihood projects or human development projects.

Kalahi-CIDSS is one of the core programs of DSWD, along with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Sustainable Livelihood Program.

The convergence of the three programs is aimed at a greater impact in reducing poverty.

The Balanes family is part of the 4Ps. Three of Jennlyn’s four children are beneficiaries of the said program.

“Laking pasasalamat naming mga magulang nagkaroong ng ganitong mga proyekto. Isa ang aming barangay na nagkaroon ng magandang proyekto para sa mga bata. Malaki ang tulong ng mga proyektong ito (We are very thankful that we have these kinds of projects which cater to the needs of our children. These projects provide a big help,” Jennlyn said.(PNA) HBC/FGS/DSWD/CBD

Legazpi heads further to environment-friendly urban dev't
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 (PNA) – Engineer Noel E. Rosal, who, as mayor for nine years of this largest Bicol city, engineered the transformation of its socioeconomic configurations into tremendous growth, is back with a renewed mandate to once again steer the city towards a more aggressive but environment-friendly urban development.

Rosal ran unopposed under the Liberal Party (LP) to start a new term with a reconditioned mission: respond dynamically to the next starting gun of the race for modernization and run through the rugged and winding track without looking back to reach ahead the straight, rolling path where the finish line is just a few more strides.

“For more than a decade now, we have been running the race with precise speed and passionate determination to stay in the lead pack even as today, our city is already recognized as one of the country’s fastest growing in all aspects of development,” he said.

A graduate of civil engineering from Adamson University, Rosal entered politics by serving as barangay captain of Barriada, an urban village of his birth and residence.

Three years later, he won a slot in the city council and after serving the local legislative council for six years, he ran for mayor in 2001 and won to become, at 37, the city’s youngest local chief executive.

He was twice reelected to reach the mandatory end of his nine-year term in 2010.

His wife, Geraldine, won the elections in the same year to serve as his replacement.

He worked as city administrator under her until his resignation when he filed his certificate of candidacy late last year.

Mrs. Rosal has decided not to seek reelection on her desire to return to private life and be able to attend to her three growing up children.

According to Marcial Tuanqui, the former president of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the city, under the stewardship of the Rosals, has achieved a robust economy -- owing to stable peace and order, infrastructure boom, good governance, massive tourism industry development, graft-free administration and pronounced partnership with the private sector.

Under engineer Rosal’s term as mayor, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in 1996 recognized the city as one of the most competitive cities in the Philippines and under his wife’s present incumbency, it was cited by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the most business-friendly city for the whole South Luzon.

The AIM then, in a study it conducted, adjudged the city as the next business and convention hub after Cebu and Davao.

The AIM study was made after the Cebu-based Landco Corporation established here the Pacific Mall, the first major mall in the Philippines back in 2001.

Metro Gaisano now stands as the anchor department store and supermarket of Pacific Mall, which has undergone three major expansions and is considered to be the biggest mall in Bicol.

In 2009, Sunwest Corporation, a private infrastructure development giant, came up with its first foray into the mall business here -- the P1.2-billion Embarcadero de Legazpi, a premier waterfront development now emerging as a world-class lifestyle hub both for tourists and the locals.

Under Mrs. Rosal, the city was cited as one of best places for business process outsourcing (BPO) outside Metro Manila as it advanced in 2011 to the 10 next wave cities in the country’s industry list of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines.

The city currently has two IT park -- the Embarcadero de Legazpi and the Legazpi Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Park -- that are both highly conducive for outsourcing businesses.

The two facilities offer about 8,000 call center seats that could provide jobs to some 24,000 agents in three-shifts.

Pioneering the business in the city is the Incubation Center of Southern Luzon Technological College Foundation Inc., which is an extension of Embarcadero’s P1.8-billion IT Park, the very first IT ecozone in the Bicol region inaugurated in July 2009.

An Australian BPO company has recently opened its own call center here while the US-based Sutherland Global Services is awaiting the completion of its three-storey building along the Legazpi City Boulevard to open another BPO hub to accommodate 4,500 call center seats.

Camella Homes, which has developed an expandable 20-hectare Caribbean-themed development located in Barangay Puro, is the latest entry to the city’s urban housing development while negotiations for land acquisition by Ayala Corporation is undergoing.

Tourism in the city, which last year earned the nickname “City of Fun and Adventure,” has also come of age.

The lady mayor attributes this to the long, hard work of all the tourism stakeholders in the locality that have merged their efforts to slowly transform the city into a showcase of tourism progress and development.

In 2011, the city posted tourist arrivals of 358,617, which climbed to 438,100 in 2012 for a 22.16-percent growth -- complementing Albay province’s 49-percent tourism increase within the same period.

Besides, she said, Legazpi, a first class city, has a beautiful skyline with the waters of the Albay Gulf on one side and the Mayon Volcano, a near perfect symmetrical conical volcano, towering over the buildings -- creating a majestic scene.

Situated in the heart of the Bicol Peninsula, the city provides tourists and guests enough flexibility to move around the Bicol Region -- being the center of land, sea and air transportation.

It has also emerged as the Convention Center for Bicol, with big local and international organizations regularly holding their grand occasions here yearly since about four years ago.

A Japanese firm has partnered with the city government in the putting up of a 500-room hotel also along the Boulevard to serve as a one-stop venue for conventions and seminars.

Its construction is presently ongoing.

Incoming mayor Rosal, now 49, said he is still very young and wearing the vigor and determination to continue pursuing the dream of all Legazpeños to make their place the most progressive and livable in this part of the world.

“We are doing that by way of introducing more developments that are friendly to the environment so that while we expand our urban center up to our outskirt barangays, we at the same time are protecting and preserving nature,” he added. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DENR intensifies protection for Bicol National Park
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 (PNA) -- The Bicol office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here has come up with schemes to give more protection to the over-5,000 hectares forest areas of the Bicol National Park (BNP), located between Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

Gilbert Gonzales, DENR-Bicol regional executive director, said these strategies are aimed at protecting and preserving BNP from threats coming from illegal loggers, kaingin (slash-and burn) farmers and communities residing inside the park.

“These strategies will provide solutions to various issues that are besetting the BNP which is contributing to further degradation of the protected area (PA)," Gonzales said through an official statement released by his office Monday.

He said the approaches that DENR-Bicol will be adapting include strengthening of the PA personnel by supplementing manpower/support; closely monitoring cases filed against poachers and illegal settlers; capacity-building workshops for field personnel (paralegal); comprehensive info campaign on the National Integrated Protected Areas System; pushing for the co-management of the protected area with the local governments; empowerment of the people’s organizations and issuance of resource utilization permit; and intensifying the implementation of “no charcoal making policy” in the BNP by patrolling and non-issuance of permit.

“Only by doing these (strategies) will we be ensuring that the BNP is well-protected from instances of encroaching by illegal settlers” Gonzales stressed, as he quickly cited the need for the forest occupants to clear out from the protected forest.

He said they will also consider the implementation of management zoning in the PA classified as the strict protection zone and the multi-use zone.

The DENR executive explained that the strict protection zone refers to areas with high bio-diversity value, which shall be closed to human activity -- except for scientific studies and/or ceremonial or religious use by indigenous communities.

The multi-use zone, meanwhile, pertains to areas where there is settlement and traditional or sustainable land use -- including agriculture, agro-forestry, extraction activities and other income-generating or livelihood activities, Gonzales explained.

He also directed Regional Technical Director Felix Mendoza, Protected Areas Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Service head, to further study the plans for the BNP and for the provincial environment and natural resources officers of Camarines provinces to adopt initial measures of intensifying mobile patrolling and and the conduct of checkpoints along the various entry and exit points straddling the forest.

The Bicol Natural Park is a protected area with an expanse of 5,201 hectares and an elevation of 100-538 meters above sea level.

It is located in the Camarines provinces, sprawling along the towns of Basud and San Lorenzo Ruiz at the side of Camarines Norte and Lupi and Sipocot at the border of Camarines Sur.(PNA) HBC/FGS/SMT/CBD/

Bicol towns expect more local dev't projects from PNoy
By Danny O. Calleja

TINAMBAC, Camarines Sur, May 27 (PNA) – Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III was simply impressed discovering the development prospects of some prime Bicol towns he visited when campaigning for the Team Pinoy early this month.

One is this coastal municipality which he acknowledged as a tourism potential, owing to the beautiful beaches bordering its wide and serene coastline along several coves that should be developed as among the attractions for the 56 million tourists that the country targets to receive by 2016.

Considered far-flung, being 20 kms off Naga City -- the heart of Camarines Sur, this town of about 64,000 people -- mostly dependent on agriculture and fisheries for living-- is classified as first class.

Sitting along the rich fishing ground of San Miguel Bay, the town’s total agricultural area is estimated at 17,230 hectares, dominated by coconut plantations.

Fishponds cover around 464 hectares or 1.8 percent of the total agricultural area.

Quaint and slack, the place plays host to simple life away from the hassles of crowded, polluted and expensive city lifestyle.

“Padyak,” the local term for a bicycle with a sidecar, is the common mode of transportation between the downtown and the barangays.

Town mayor Ruel Velarde over the weekend said that with the interest expressed by Pres. Aquino on its tourism potentials, the municipality expects help from Malacañang in terms of major projects that would transform the place from a merely agricultural performer to a key tourist destination.

“We have various breathtaking sites which when developed by way of providing travel facilities and amenities will certainly make a difference in the local tourism industry, especially in eco-tourism,” Velarde said.

Pres. Aquino did not make a promise but the enthusiasm over our place he demonstrated before us here during his visit, the first time that a Philippine president set foot on our land, was worth an unsaid commitment,” the mayor added.

Down the nearby town of Calabanga, a bigger municipality also classified as first class and home to around 80,000 people -- mostly fishermen and farmers, Vice-mayor Philip Dumalasa said the President’s enthusiasm over the place was expressed during the same sortie through an assurance of various development projects.

The President, during his May 3 visit, according to Dumalasa, assured the municipality of a hospital, new irrigation systems and a seaport.

On the hospital, Pres. Aquino, before the presence of over 8,000 Calabangueños who attended a gathering at the Calabanga People’s Center, directed the Department of Health to provide funds for the construction of a district hospital in the municipality, the vice-mayor said

Calabanga has also been scheduled as among the beneficiaries of 15 irrigation projects that will be implemented across Camarines Sur province and apart from this, the President also announced during that affair that the construction of the Sabang-San Vicente seaport in the municipality has also been set for construction by August, with its completion expected on April next year, Dumalasa said.

According to Calabanga Mayor Evelyn Yu, the municipality, which sits along the Bicol River and San Miguel Bay that both serve as rich fishing grounds for its fishermen, is blessed rich natural resources which the President wants to be preserved and serve as a sustainable provider of livelihood to keep its people away from poverty.

“We have expansive uplands and fishing grounds that -- side by side with agriculture, fishing and livestock-raising -- constitute major economic activities,” Yu said of the municipality that is known for the production of shellfish, oysters, capiz shells, prawns, shrimps and other marine species.

These marine resources provide industries such as fish processing and fish paste and other marine by-product manufacturing, she said.

Both Velarde and Yu expressed hope that although their municipalities never felt neglected by the Aquino administration, the next development projects that the President intends to deliver to the two localities will materialize soon or within the last half of his term.

Their towns are economic growth areas that the President wants to be developed more to maximize their contributions to the national economy, the two officials added. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Monday, May 27, 2013

Masbate cops arrest wanted person, 2 violators of Comelec gun ban
By Edison Aganan

CAMP BONNY SERRANO, Masbate City, May 24 (PNA) – Operatives of the Masbate Provincial Police Office arrested an person wanted for robbery with homicide and two others for violation of the Commission on Elections gun ban.

Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, MPPO director, identified the apprehended wanted person as Jose P. Tumulak, Jr, alias “Junnie,” 37, married, farmer and resident of Barangay Cabungahan, Cawayan, Masbate.

Tumulak was arrested at 10 a.m., Thursday, in Barangay Poblacion, Cataingan, Masbate, by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Domingo B. Maristela Jr., of the Regional Trial Court Branch 49 in Cataingan, Masbate.

The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 2413-12 dated September 5, 2012.

Tumulak was arrested by elements of the Cataingan Municipal Police Office (CMPO) led by Senior Insp. Josefino C. Titong, with no bail recommended.

He is now detained at the CMPO.

Olitoquit also announced the arrest by Claveria, Masbate, police under Senior Insp. Stephen H. Cabaltera of Carlos C. Lahoylahoy, 32, single and farmer, and Ronaldo M. Panghunasan, 30, single and fisherman.

Cabaltera and Lahoylahoy, both residents of Barangay Osmeña, Claveria, Masbate, were arrested on May 20 for violation of PD 1866 as amended by RA 8294 (Illegal Possession of Firearms) in relation to the Comelec gun ban and for illegal possession of deadly weapons in the same village.

The Claveria police have already filed a case against the suspects before the Provincial Prosecution Office in Masbate City.

The case was docketed under NPS No. V-12-INQ-13E-00094 and NPS No. V-12-INQ-13E-00904.

Olitoquit said the arrest was attributed to the active participation of the police force multipliers, especially the village officials who turned over the arrested suspects to the local police. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EA/cbd/rsm

11 injured in Albay town road accident
By Rey M. Nasol

PIODURAN, Albay May 24 (PNA) -- At least 11 jeepney passengers were injured in a road accident in Barangay Caratagan, this town, Thursday, initial reports reaching Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said Friday morning.

The identities of the victims were still being established, according to Salceda, who received the information from Dr. Eric Raborar, chief of the Albay Health and Emergency Management Team.

He quoted Raborar as saying that at least 11 passengers, mostly adults, suffered injuries.

Nine of those injured were rushed to the Josefina Memorial District Hospital, some 37 kilometers southeast of the site, for emergency treatment but five of them were transferred to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Legazpi City for closer medical attention.

Police investigators said the jeepney was a kilometer away to its destination from Ligao to Pioduran, a coastal town in the western part of the province, when the accident took place. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RMN/cbd/rsm

Cash benefits asked for Bicol cop who died while on poll duty

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -– The regional office for Bicol here of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is asking its central office to grant compensation to the family of the policeman who died in Masbate while performing duties for the May 13 elections.

Comelec Bicol Regional Director Romeo Fortes said he had formally requested Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. for cash benefits to the bereaved family of PO2 Jesus Apostol, who died while escorting the transport of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and other election materials to the island town of San Pascual, Masbate, before the May 13 polls.

Fortes said Apostol died at a hospital due to acute myocardial infraction secondary to anaphylactic reaction due to jellyfish sting.

He was attacked by an army of jellyfish after accidentally falling off the boat ferrying the election paraphernalia into the jellyfish-infested waters.

San Pascual is located at the northernmost tip of Burias Island.

A report by the Philippine National Police (PNP) regional headquarters to Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here said Apostol was the team leader of the joint elements of the Regional Public Safety Battalion and the San Pascual Municipal Police Office tasked with election security in the area.

Fortes said his request for compensation for Apostol’s family is necessary as Comelec Resolution No. 9640 only provides insurance and compensation to teachers who sustain accidents or deaths while performing election duties.

“Elections in any part of the country would have not been successful and peaceful if not for the vigor of our men in uniform, hence, compensation from the poll body when incidents like what Apostol encountered is deemed necessary for the victims or their respective families,” Fortes said.

Apostol, according to Chief Supt. Clarence Guinto, PNP Bicol regional director, was the lone police victim in election-related death in Masbate even as the province has been placed under close watch in anticipation of violent encounters between warring local political clans.

“He (Apostol) died with no single bullet fired,” Guinto said, adding that if not for the heroism of policemen, elections in Masbate and other parts of Bicol could have not been as peaceful and orderly as the May 13 polls.

Department of Interior and Local government Secretary Mar Roxas has cited Apostol as an election hero for faithfully performing his duties to the extent of sacrificing his own life in exchange for the attainment of peace and order in relation to the conduct of the May polls.

“He is a symbol of the PNP sacrifices and an inspiration for the entire force. Men like him are heroes. They have done their duty and paid this sacrifice,” Roxas said.

Fortes said that “had it not for their bravery and unwavering commitment on the part of the police force where Apostol belonged, the security of our Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) as well as the PCOS machines and other paraphernalia would have been compromised.”

“It is only just proper that policemen be given the same treatment accorded to the teachers,” he explained.

In his letter to Brillantes, Fortes recommended that the same compensation extended to the BEIs be granted to the family of Apostol, considering that his death happened while he was performing his election duties.

Apostol is survived by six children, all minors, who are left under the sole care of his widow, a plain housewife.

The poll body’s regional chief also suggested that all Comelec-deputized personnel from other agencies be given the same benefits in case of death or accident. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/utb

Bicol farmers asked to help save dying garlic industry

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 24 (PNA) -– Garlic is a seriously threatened Philippine commodity and local agricultural authorities are encouraging Bicolano farmers to produce the crop and be part of government efforts toward its rescue.

According to the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the Philippines has been import-dependent in garlic for some time now and while imports plummeted in 2011 to 8,000 metric tons (MT) from its peak volume of 55,000 MT in 2008, local production has remained flat at 10,000 MT over the last five years.

BAR Director Nicomedes Eleazar, in a statement reaching here over the week, said many agencies have embarked on projects supporting the country’s garlic industry and among them is the P3-million garlic technology commercialization program funded by his agency in an effort to revive garlic production in the Ilocos region.

The program, Eleazar said, offers garlic growers a competitive market advantage through the processing of their produce into garlic bulbs, noodles, pickles, flakes, chips and polvoron.

“We should continue to support planting of crops that are adversely affected by imports like garlic. We are strengthening the competitiveness of the industry through value adding and helping farmers turn into entrepreneurs,” he said.

Bicolano farmers, given the vast land available and suited to commercial production of garlic, should participate in this endeavor.

An expression from them to take part could already lead BAR and its mother agency, the Department of Agriculture (DA), into helping them as what is Ilocos farmers are enjoying, Eleazar said.

There are three remaining garlic-producing provinces in the country--Batanes, Mindoro and Ilocos--but the DA and BAR want participation from more areas in the country, given that the industry offers good income for farmers, the BAR chief said.

He cited the experience of Ilocos farmers in the program.

“For each hectare of land planted to garlic, they earn a net income of about P172,000 per cropping season. Traditional farms in the region and elsewhere around the country only earn some P100,000 per hectare,” he said.

BAR’s garlic project in Ilocos Norte hit a yield of 4,340 kilos per hectare in technology demonstration sites, which is higher compared to the yield of only 3,160 kilos for farmers that continued with their traditional practice, according to Eleazar.

The Department of Labor and Employment is also helping the industry by providing a farmers’ cooperative in Ilocos cash assistance worth P400,000 for the acquisition of the equipment needed for the processing of peeled and powdered garlic.

BAR’s garlic project with the Ilocos Integrated Agricultural Research Center (ILIARC), Eleazar said, has adopted good agricultural practice, integrated pest management (IPM), and processing-enterprise development programs.

In results, he said, farmers were able to sell in 2012 a total of 2,000 kilos of garlic at P120 per kilo, for a gross income of P240,000 and net income of P90,000, after deducting all production, processing and marketing costs.

The BAR-ILIARC project is aimed at restoring Ilocos Region’s glory as a leading garlic producer to reverse its declining contribution to national production.

From its 73 percent contribution in 2008, this dropped to 68 percent in 2010.

BAR has introduced a package of technology to the ILIARC project that includes IPM practices like the use of fish amino acid or bagoong spray for mites.

Farmers are also using Palmolive green aloe vera mixed with water to control mites.

Green muscardine fungus is used as biological control for lepidopterous pests while “makabuhay” herb is soaked in water and used as spray to control pests.

Naturally-occurring soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, is used as spray to control lepidopterous pests. The bio-fertilizer Vital N is mixed with water where garlic clove seeds are soaked for 30 minutes, dried and planted within 24 hours.

With this package of technology, farmers could harvest garlic 110 to 120 days after planting.

The harvested bulbs are sun-dried for seven to 10 days.

Each layer of bulbs is covered with a succeeding layer of bulbs to avoid garlic scalding.

These are then bundled and hanged under shade until fully dried.

The garlic bulbs are cleaned and stored in between lagundi leaves for better storage.

In processing, Eleazar said, garlic flakes and chips are produced, using extra large and large bulbs.

Smaller bulbs are used for garlic powder and pickles.

Processed garlic products--that include miki noodles, pickles, flakes, chips and polvoron--have become a market favorite as nutrient-rich food stuffs.

Garlic is also widely known as hypertension reliever, apart from many health benefits derived from its bulbs.

The popular claim that garlic is good in fighting cholesterol is attributed by laboratory studies to its rich allicin property that blocks HMG-CoA reductase within the liver cells.

Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by releasing nitric oxide, blocks plately clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels which helps decrease the overall risk from coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular diseases and stroke.

Other health benefits are the decrease in incidence of stomach cancer; and antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activities.

Garlic is also one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium, the heart-healthy mineral that is important for antioxidant enzymes.

It contains many flavonoid anti-oxidants like carotene beta, zea-xanthin, and vitamin C--making it a traditional cure for cold, cough, bronchitis.

Garlic oil is used to cure fungal dermatitis infection of skin.

As a food enhancer, it flavors vegetable, meat and seafood.

It is used as a spicy pungent flavor for Bruschetta (bread toasted and topped with garlic paste and olive oil and pepper); mixed with soup, chutney, and sauces; used like vegetable with its garlic tops just like scallions and chives.

In fact, Eleazar said, Ilocos garlic growers are optimistic of the prospects of the industry as they prepare to supply under contract peeled and powdered garlic to Jollibee and Splash Foods Corp. at 13.5 MT per month.

“Market demand is fast increasing and BAR and the DA want the benefits of a reinvigorated local garlic industry spread across many farms like in Bicol so that the country is liberated from exportation and farmers are provided more income,” he added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/u

PCA, DAR forge partnership for Bicol’s coconut industry revitalization

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -– The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) are joining hands for the revitalization of Bicol’s coconut industry.

The regional offices of the two agencies based here recently entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that provides for the acceleration of coconut planting and replanting across the region.

Bicol has been known as the country’s leading coconut producer but super typhoons “Reming” and “Milenyo,” which successively battered the region in 2006, reduced the industry to near extinction.

The rampant cutting down of matured coconut palms for lumber has also contributed heavily to the nut production slump in the region.

Coconut plantations are predominant in Bicol as they occupy 447,743 hectares of the region’s total cultivated area.

About 300,000 farmers are dependent on the crop, which contributes 33.4 percent to the regional gross domestic product, according to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional office here.

Another NEDA figure puts about 2.1 million Bicolanos, or nearly 50 percent of the region’s total population, as either directly or indirectly benefited by the local coconut industry.

Unfortunately, apart from the devastation left by the 2006 super typhoons, Bicol’s coconut continues to suffer from the impacts of erratic weather condition due to climate change while pests like brontispa inflict heavy losses.

These reduced the regional copra production in 2010 to only 430,054 metric tons (MT) from 473,077 MT in 1997, when weather was fine and the pests were manageable.

It was down to as low as 287,631 in 1999 due to a dry spell and a series of typhoons, according to NEDA records.

DAR regional director Maria Celestina Tam and PCA regional director Euclides Forbes over the week signed the MOA under PCA’s Coconut Seedling Dispersal Project that grants qualified coconut farmers in Bicol’s agrarian reform communities (ARCs) seedlings for planting and replanting in their farms.

These ARCs cover a total of 700 hectares of coconut lands all over the region, Tam said.

The agreement stipulates, among others, that PCA will provide planting materials, technical assistance on nursery establishment and operation, extension services and regular monitoring of the progress of the project.

At least seven seedling nurseries will be established in strategic areas of the region under the MOA.

For its part, DAR will identify suitable lands where the project can be implemented in the provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon.

The agrarian reform agency will also determine the target municipalities and barangays with capable people’s organizations and provide local counterpart contribution for trainings and capacity building among the beneficiaries.

On the other hand, beneficiary-organizations will provide labor for the establishment and operation of the nursery project, and formulation of policies in the selection of farmer-beneficiaries.

A roll-over scheme will be adopted in planting material grants wherein DAR will return the same value received in kind equivalent to 100 good quality seed nuts per hectare seven years after planting.

These planting materials will be distributed to the succeeding beneficiaries, Tam said.

DAR provincial offices is Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes already have their coconut nurseries established earlier in coordination with the PCA and local ARCs, she said.

In the initial identification of beneficiaries, Tam said, the Cabilang ARC in the municipalities of Daet and Talisay in Camarines Norte has qualified to a grant of 20,000 seed nuts of Laguna Tall variety worth around P300,000. Around 40,000 seed nuts have also been granted to the Pambuhan ARC in Garchitorena, Camarines Sur, while in Catanduanes, planting areas identified by ARCs are under validation, Tam added.

Meanwhile, Forbes said his office is putting in place a project to preserve and propagate good varieties of coconut that thrive only within the Bicol region.

The project will work on the character and conservation of the coconut genetic resources in the region that are threatened by extinction due to climate change and other natural calamities.

Forbes said they intend to save and promote indigenous coconut species in the region through the conduct of a focused study on the crop in identified conservation sites.

A component of the study will assess the genetic identity ideal for conservation and reproduction through agro-morphological and molecular markers.

It will also collect and conserve the genetic resources for a database of germ plasm of distinct and important coconut population for conservation and source of planting materials.

The project is important for the region, considering the dwindling resources of its coconut industry because of recent natural calamities.

Through the conservation and propagation of good coconut varieties endemic to the region, the industry would be back on its feet in five to seven years, Forbes added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/utb

Albay, agencies spend at least P520,000 to rescue mountaineer

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -– After 32 hours of search and rescue operation organized by Albay provincial government, rescuers brought down a trapped Russian mountaineer from Mayon volcano on Thursday afternoon.

Mark Yuchagaev, 29, climbed Mayon Volcano alone on Sunday morning but met an accident along the Miisi gully near the volcano's crater in Barangay Miisi, Daraga town, at the southwest quadrant.

With a broken right ankle, Yuchagaev got lost and texted on Tuesday evening his Filipino contact in Barangay Busay, located downslope, of his condition and that he needed help, according to Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office head.

Daep said that Yuchagaev was picked up by an Air Force helicopter at about 4:10 p.m., Thursday, and flown to the Philippine Air Force Tactical Operation Group base at the Legazpi Airport.

The injured mountaineer was immediately taken to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital here for medical treatment.

The search and rescue (SAR) operation involved 35 persons divided into five teams complete with rescue gadgets, two helicopters, provisions for a two-day search, and land transportation—making one wonders: How much did the province of Albay and other agencies concerned spend on the Yuchagaev episode?

Raffy Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense Bicol regional director, has a ready answer to this.

Alejandro said at least P520,000 was spent by the government during the two days SAR operation.

Breaking it down, he said: P450,000 for fuel for two helicopters for three hours; food and other provision amounting to P70,000 for the manpower complement.

Alejandro did not mention the miscellaneous expenses anymore but said the expenses were shouldered by the Disaster Emergency Response Fund of the PAF and the provincial government of Albay.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, who spearheaded the search and rescue effort, thanked all those who helped in the rescue operation.

Deep in his mind, however, one could not help reading the figures playing in his mind that went to the operation just to rescue a hard-headed mountaineer.

Yuchagaev went on his adventure despite a widely circulated notice by the provincial government that prohibits all forms of activity at the unpredictable Mayon.

The prohibition was enforced following the phreatic or steam-driven explosion on May 7 that killed five persons – four European tourists and their Filipino guide – and injured ten other climbers.

On its part, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has suspended the issuance of visitor’s permit to climb the 2,600-meter high volcano after this incident. (PNA) hbc/FGS/MSA/CBD/utb

TESDA-Bicol offers 1,000 indigent high school graduates another crack at education
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) – Another crack at education awaits 1,000 students from indigent families in Bicol during the opening in June of school-year 2013-2014.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is offering this opportunity to high school graduates in the region to improve their chances of landing a job or starting a business of their own.

TESDA is the agency of the government that provides scholarship programs that give free education and training to Filipino high school graduates who cannot afford the cost but willing to learn and become certified with skills and technical learning.

The agency’s programs provide accessible and relevant high-quality technical vocational education and training, especially to the youth belonging to the indigent sector.

For the province of Albay, 427 slots for new batches of scholars have been made available for the coming school year under TESDA’s Training for Works and Scholarship Program (TWSP), which provides more individuals with high-quality technical-vocational education and training (TVET).

The rest of the 1,000 Bicol slots are divided among the remaining five provinces of the region.

This year, TWSP caters to poor high school graduates in Bicol who may avail themselves of scholarships on commercial cooking, housekeeping, dress-making, food and beverage, welding, machining, refrigeration and air-conditioning courses, Aileen Lozada, TESDA regional technical education and skills development specialist for Bicol, said over the week.

Lozada added that aside from helping the poor students to get quality education, the scholarship program also aims to promote technical-vocational courses in a particular area either through school-based or center-based trainings.

School-based programs refer to the direct delivery or provision of TVET programs by the 57 TESDA-administered schools nationwide which include 19 agricultural schools, seven of them offering fishery courses, and 31 trade schools.

These programs include post-secondary offerings of varying duration not exceeding three years.

Center-based programs, on the other hand, covers training provisions being undertaken in the 15 TESDA regional and 45 provincial training centers in selected trade areas in the different regions and provinces in the country.

Bicol, according to Lozada, has the most number of TESDA training institutions–with 13 among the country’s 17 administrative regions–with the recent addition of two new technical vocational training centers in the municipalities of Pandan and Viga in the island-province of Catanduanes.

Central Luzon and Central Visayas only have 12 each.

TWSP, she said, also encourages technical-vocational institutions to offer programs in higher qualification, catering to in-demand industry requirements.

"We want to help our young people realize their dreams through the scholarships we provide. Many of them cannot afford the cost of education due to the escalating tuition fees charged by the schools,” Lozada said.

With the scholarship grants, TESDA hopes to offset if not eliminate one of the factors that get in the way of pursuing their dreams, she said.

TESDA, however, expects that the deserving ones chosen to receive the free education should do their part in ensuring that they complete the course, undertake the assessment and pass it to get the certification from the agency.

The certification will prove that they possess the knowledge and skills and can demonstrate the competencies of workers required by companies here or abroad.

The new batch of scholars will be given the option to enroll in qualifications or courses of their choice but will also be directed to take up courses which will offer greater opportunities for employment in their localities.

TESDA will assist the graduates in getting rightful employment or where they can maximize their skills immediately after their training under its Seek-Find-Train-Certify-Employ operational cycle applied to each and every TWSP beneficiary.

The 1,000 slots allotted to Bicol represent a big increase from last year’s 280.

The fund covering this bigger number of slots is P38 million in fresh allocation provided by TESDA to cover new fields of technical learning that are appropriate to the existing and developing demands, Lozada said.

The improvement will cover qualifications and programs in emerging key employment generators across the country and abroad – which include tourism, business process outsourcing, electronics, automotive, general infrastructure, agri-fishery, semi-conductor, baking and pastry, communications and other new industries.

She said Bicol now is being dubbed as a top tourism region and as such, it demands skilled workers to assist in its various endeavors, particularly in making use of the great advent of digital technology.(PNA)

APO brings 4,000 members to Legazpi for midyear confab
By Manny P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Around 4,000 members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Fraternity are attending a four-day midyear biennial convention that started May 23 to May 26, at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.

With the theme “Together as one: Rooted and Grounded on Service,” the meeting is hosted by the APO Gamma Xi Alumni Association - Aquinas University Legazpi City Chapter and the city government of Legazpi.

Deodato Quintela of the Delta Lambda Divine Word College - Legazpi City Chapter said this giant affair of APO materialized after the APO Gamma Alumni Association - Aquinas University of Legazpi City Chapter won in the bidding process to host the convention during their 6th National Convention in Cagayan de Oro last year.

He said the bidding process for the convention was participated in by the different chapters throughout the country.

On the first day of the convention, City mayor Carmen Geraldine B. Rosal thanked the participants for their holding of the gathering in the city that, she said, has been emerging as one of the most favorite venues for conventions and conferences of both private and government organizations.

Rosal said the city government of Legazpi always welcomes and treasures partnership with civic and brotherhood organizations.

”We are privileged to have a rewarding collaboration and alliance with APO. With your brotherhood, we can accomplish more activities that will redound to the well-being of our constituents,” she added.

The lady mayor said her administration is committed to support the projects and programs of the APO that will promote leadership, fellowship and service. ”In these days of complexities, more things are accomplished through cooperation and solidarity,” she pointed out.

She also told the participants that they will never regret in choosing the city as the venue of their gathering, “as having a taste of the city’s hospitality is one experience you will never forget.”

Legazpi City has hosted several large gatherings of organizations, from February this year, among which were the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers national convention on February 20- 22; Philippine Association of Civil Registrar biennial convention, March 4-8; Rotary International District 3820 intercity meeting - Area 4, March 9; Albay Medical Society Annual Convention, March 10-11; 1st Quarterly cluster meeting of the National Capital Region and Southern Luzon Department of Health/Center for Health Development 5, March 13-15; POGS national midyear convention, April 10-12; 17th Annual Social Welfare and Development Forum and General Assembly of ALSWDOPI, April 16-19; Quota International District Convention, April 25-27, and 11th Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers Region 5 Technical Conference, May 17-18.

Other conferences scheduled to be held in this city this year are the 6th National Convention and Seminar Workshop of the Philippine Association of Municipal Assessors, Inc. on May 28-31, seminar on Illegal Drugs Law and 24th Annual National Convention of the League of Local Planning and Development Coordinators of the Philippines, Inc. to be held anytime in June.

The Bicol National Association of America (BNAA) will also hold its 33rd Year Annual Convention this coming July 19-21, while the 14th National Convention of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) will be on Oct. 2-5. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MPS/CBD

Masbate police now armed with e-blotter to speed up crime reporting
By Edison Aganan

CAMP BONNY SERRANO, Masbate City, May 26 – Investigators from the different police offices in the province handling e-blotter, e-rogues and e-warrant encoder/editor are now ready to speed up preparation and solution of complaints from the public, a top police official here said Saturday.

Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, Masbate Provincial Police Office (MPPO) director, said these police investigators have just finished a two-day seminar on electronic crime incident reporting system on May 22-23 held at the Sinagtala Hall, Camp Bonny Serrano, Masbate City.

Olitoquit said the e-blotter system seminar aims to speed up access and preparation of complaints from the public which are usually logged at police stations.

”This system does not only facilitate crime documentation and modernize data storage but also presents quick, fast and reliable transmission of crime information and for speedy coordination for solution of crimes from police station to higher headquarters,” he said.

Meanwhile, Supt. Alex S. Pederio, chief of the Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch of MPPO, said the e-blotter is an effective management tool for decision makers and security strategists to have an easy and intelligent way of mapping out peace and order and anti-criminality strategy.

He, however, clarified that concerned individuals who want to put on record their complaints are still required to personally appear before the police stations for the same purpose.

”The complaints will be logged manually but at the same time, will be encoded immediately in a computer linked to the police's central reporting network called the PNP Crime Incident Reporting System” Pederio explained. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EA/CBD

Disaster heroes risk lives so that others may live
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY,May 26, (PNA) – What do 2Lt. Henry Allen P. Galvan of the Philippine Air Force, Lt. Joel Pedregosa of the Philippine Army, Lt. Junior Grade Rey Jabonete of the Philippine Navy, Insp. Domingo B. Tapel of the Philippine National Police and Fire Inspector Glenn Rodrigueza of the Bureau of Protection have in common, aside from their being in the government’s uniformed service?

They are always a part of a real-life drama rescuing victims every time a calamity strikes the Bicol Region.

Their role: risking lives so that others may live.

And the most common setting of their suspenseful episode is the Mt. Mayon – with its awesome sight outside and fearsome might inside.

Of course, they are just five of a bigger group of search and rescue teams that belong to the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) and its provincial counterpart, the PDRRMC.

In one of the latest episodes played by the group, Galvan, team leader of the 505th Search and Rescue Group (SRG), recalled how they painstakingly negotiated the treacherous terrain of the volcano while bringing down Thai national Boonchai Jattupornpong—the last alive man they recovered from the spot some 600 meters away from the crater of Mayon volcano.

“He (Boonchai) was found alive with broken right arm and neck and burn injuries by the BFP search and rescue unit and local guides at upper Camp 2. The team then advised us to commence ascent. Heavy rains and poor visibility engulfed the volcano, preventing us to go up,” he narrated.

Galvan and his men stayed for three nights on the slope of Mayon volcano for Boonchai’s rescue through the Lidong, Sto. Domingo drop zone from where they trekked two hours to reach Camp 1.

From Camp 1, the group walked for three more hours to reach Camp 2, passing through a very slippery and death-threatening terrain.

After reaching Camp 2, Galvan said, his group had another four-hour ascent passing through loose smoldering volcanic rocks to get to the location of Boonchai, already near the crater.

After the last leg of the risky climb, Galvan’s team luckily met the BFP rescue team and local climbers where they started to bring down Boonchai to Camp 2.

Intermittent heavy rains and poor visibility due to the cloud formation enveloping the volcano made the rescue effort tedious, precarious and slow as loose volcanic materials would roll down and overtake the combined rescue groups, this time composed of the PAF’s 505th SRG, BFP men, local tour guides and mountaineers.

“It was a indeed a death-defying rescue effort. Loose rocks were rolling down before us while we were going down to Camp 2. To save our lives from great danger we shouted ‘rocks’ to echo the message to other team members for safety. We held the stretcher bearing Boonchai tight as we descended towards Camp 2 via a narrow path,” Galvan recalled.

Sometimes, he said, they had to crawl like children.

“There was an incident when one of our companions almost fell into the ravine, luckily I was able to grab his belt,” Galvan recalled.

Despite the dangers, coupled by a freezing temperature, along the upper slopes of Mayon Volcano, Galvan said, the rescue men were able to exchange jokes and pleasantries with Boonchai, who happened to be a jolly person.

Boonchai is jolly person despite his sorry condition. When I told him that it’s really more fun in the Philippines, he replied to me, ‘yes, it’s funny, really more fun in Philippines.’ I knew he was in great pain then and in need of immediate medical treatment. We tried to ease his hapless situation,” he said.

Galvan said he told the Thai that if weather would permit, they could bring him down that day and finally take him to the hospital.

“Because if bad weather would still prevail, it would take us another day to bring Boonchai to Camp 1, which would aggravate his physical condition,” he said.

Galvan claimed he even served as nanny to Boonchai when he would urinate or move bowel.

On the way down, the rescuers, he added, would drink water from Mayon’s furrow or pit with sulphuric taste and eat wild strawberries endemic to the volcano’s slopes as their supply of food and bottled water had already depleted.

Indeed, through the night, the rescuers braved the darkness, rains, biting cold and hunger just to deliver Boonchai to a spot where Air Force pilots Capt. Celito T. Balico and Capt. Roy Philip C. Aguhob would extricate the Thai national.

The two pilots made two unsuccessful attempts due to poor weather condition and limited visibility as heavy cloud enveloped the mountain, making helicopter approach difficult.

The third try of Balico and Aguhob succeeded when a tiny opening appeared, enabling them to penetrate towards the volcano’s slope.

Galvan’s group immediately lifted Boonchai to the helicopter before the opening closed.

And on May 10, Boonchai was safely brought to the Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital here for medical treatment.

“The air extrication of Boonchai was just like a movie. The pilots waited for the perfect timing before the heavy clouds blanketed again the Mayon volcano. After lifting up Boonchai to the chopper, I saw him crying. Tears rolled down on his face, I told him ‘you’ll be okay. You will be given medical care, physicians are waiting on the ground with ambulance to bring you to the hospital’,” Galvan said.

He said Boonchai’s presence of mind partly saved him.

According to Galvan, the injured Thai national told him that he was shouting for help every time he saw government helicopters hovering over the Mayon volcano.

Boonchai was profuse with his profound expression of gratitude to his Filipino rescuers.

“Thank you for saving me. I owe my life to you. I’ll tell my countrymen the goodness, bravery and heroism of the Filipinos. I will come back to the Philippines," Galvan quoted him as saying.

Boonchai was one of the 28 foreign tourists who climbed the Mayon volcano when it exploded suddenly without warning on May 7, killing four European tourists and a Filipino tour guide.

For their heroism, RDRRMC and Office of Civil Defense director Raffy Alejandro, in partnership with the provincial government of Albay, will give a commendation for their exemplary performance in saving the precious lives of foreigners and Filipino mountaineers here.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda commended the professional competence and expertise of the rescuers, who painstakingly accomplished the missions set by Albay PDRRMC and the RDRRMC V despite the various hazards and volatile weather conditions.

“Truly, the act of heroism -- not involving actual conflict with an enemy but involving risk of lives to rescue, search and recovery of climbers affected by the sudden phreatic explosion barely three weeks ago here -- is highly commendable,” Salceda said.

He added that these men braved the risk of the foggy, rugged and sloping terrain of the volcano which “requires years of training, mental discipline and pure heart” to bring down the victims.

Aside from Galvan, Pedregosa, Jabonete, Tapel and Rodrigueza, the other officers and their team members who will be recommended for award are Capt. Eulogio Bilog from the91st Civil-Relations Office, PA; Lt. Rodel B. Balatbat from the 83rd Infantry Battalion; PA; Capt. Arvin Joel N. Buan from the Tactical Operations Group 5, PAF; Cpt. Roy Philip C. Aguhob from the 505th SRG; and Capt. Celito T. Balico, 505th SRG. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rescue team sights missing Russian mountaineer

LEGAZPI CITY, May 22 (PNA) -- Team One of the search and rescue units organized by the Albay provincial government to look for the missing Russian who climbed Mt. Mayon Sunday morning was nearing its target at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, according to the head of the operation.

Johnny Añonuevo, on-scene commander, sent a cellphone message to Dr. Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, that they had a visual contact with Russian national, Mark Yuchagaev, at the Miisi Gully along the slope of Mayon.

Earlier at about 10:00 a.m., Team One and the foreign mountaineer, who had sought assistance as he was suffering from pain and cold temperature at the slope, established mirror signal at the Miisi Gully, according to Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chair.

At 10:30 a.m., upon request of Team One, the PDRRMC transferred the Field Command Post to Barangay Miisi.

It must be recalled that on Tuesday evening, Salceda said they received a distress call at about 8:02 p.m., informing them that a certain foreign national climbed Mayon on Sunday, passing through the Barangay Miisi trail in Daraga town at the southwest portion of Mayon.

A certain Gerry Delana (not Jerry Bilala as earlier reported) of Busay, Daraga, Albay, reported to the Daraga Fire Station, asking assistance for a certain Mark Yuchagaev, who sent a message through his cellphone that he was at the slope of Mayon, could not move and asked for help.

Yuchagaev was in 1,700 meters above sea level, according to Delana.

The PDRRMC immediately set up search and rescue units to find the victim.

Early Wednesday morning, Team One and Team Two went up for the search and rescue operation, while Team Three and Team Four are on stand by at the Apsemo.(PNA) PDS/FGS/CBD/

Police bag 4 wanted persons in Masbate

CAMP BONNY SERRANO, Masbate City, May 22 (PNA) -- The Masbate Provincial Police Office collared four wanted persons in separate police operations in the past two days.

Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, MPPO director, identified the suspects as Vincent Tugbo, Jerome R. Inventor, Buenaventura J. Versales and Junnel S. Sañano.

Tugbo, 16, single, laborer and resident of Barangay Espinosa, Masbate City, was arrested at around 9:45 a.m., Monday, in Barangay Kinamaligan, Masbate City, by elements of Masbate City Police Office (MCPO).

He was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Manuel L. Sese for robbery with force under Criminal Case No. 15765 with bail bond recommended at P12,000 for his temporary liberty.

Inventor, 23, single, of Barangay Poblacion, Aroroy, Masbate, was also arrested at about 10:20 a.m. on same day at the same place by members of Aroroy Municipal Police Office by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Pazlinda A. Villamor-Sanchez, presiding judge of RTC Branch 44, Masbate City.

He was wanted for violation of RA 9287 (Illegal Numbers Game) under Criminal Case No. 15895 with bail bond recommended at P10,000 for his temporary liberty.

Versales and Sañano were arrested Tuesday by members of Placer Municipal Police Office and MCPO.

Versales, 61, married of Barangay Tubod, Placer, Masbate, was arrested in the said village at about 10:31 a.m.

He was wanted for Violation of RA 9262 (Violence Against Women and Children) docketed under Criminal Case No. 2487-12 dated Nov. 15, 2012.

A bail of P80,000 was recommended for his temporary liberty.

Sañano, 39, married and a resident of Barangay Pating, Masbate City, was arrested by elements of MCPO at about 3 p.m. at Barangay JT Fernandez, Masbate City, for grave slander under Criminal Case No. 14569.

The bail recommended for his temporary freedom is P6,000. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EA/CBD

Court TRO suspends electric cooperative's privatization bid

LEGAZPI CITY, May 22 (PNA) --- The Regional Trial Court here granted the petition of those who opposed the planned privatization of the near-bankrupt Albay Electric Cooperative for a temporary restraining order, lawyer Bartolome Rayco, a petitioner, said today.

In a two-page court order Judge Ignacio Almodovar of the RTC’s Fifth Judicial Region Branch 2 in this city issued on Monday a TRO stopping the Aleco interim board to proceed with the awarding to the winning bidder for the concession to operate the electric cooperative under the Private Sector Participation scheme.

The court-issued TRO will be effective for 20 days from receipt of the order by the interim board.

Almodovar, upon issuance of the TRO, also set on May 28 the hearing for the issuance of a preliminary injunction asked by Rayco and Darlan Barcelon, both electricity consumers.

At the hearing, the Aleco interim board will give its oral arguments in defending its PSP plan.

It is directed to show cause as to why no preliminary injunction should be granted in this case.

Rayco said in an interview that both parties will be required by the court to submit documentary evidence backing up their claim and names of witnesses to summon once a pre-trial is called for by the presiding judge.

Named respondents to the Civil Case No.11141 for prohibition with application for issuance of TRO and preliminary injunction with damages are Bishop Joel Baylon, interim board chair, and lawyer Ian Macasinag, Jose Misael Moraleda, Magen Del Rosario, Rosario Bombales, Augusto Villalon, Antonio Tan and lawyer Jose Vicente Fernandez, board members.

The court, after hearing the arguments of the parties and upon reading the allegation in the petition as well as the documentaries, was convinced that there is an extreme urgency in this case, necessitating the issuance of a TRO.

Asked to comment on the court TRO, Baylon begged off in a text message not to give reactions because he still has to talk with their lawyers to understand exactly what the TRO means.

The civil case started when Rayco and Barcelon, two electricity consumers in Albay, filed on April 19 a petition asking the RTC here to issue a TRO preventing the Aleco interim board to implement the “privatization” of the debt-ridden electric cooperative.

The petitioners also asked for a writ of prohibition by restraining the members of the interim board from making decision on the affairs of the electric cooperative for reasons that the members of the board were not duly elected by the members of the cooperative as provided by Aleco’s By-Laws.

Rayco said in an interview that the Aleco Board erred in pushing for the PSP proposal which, according to him, was rejected by majority of the member consumers at the special general assembly held on Nov. 30 last year.

Under the PSP option, Aleco shall enter into a contract with a private company that will manage and run Aleco for the next 25 years.

Rayco claimed that the privatization scheme is violative of the franchise of Aleco as an electric cooperative.

The interim board action on the PSP was without any jurisdiction and it committed grave abuse of discretion despite the rejection of the planned privatization, he pointed out.

He also cited that the PSP option of a profit-sharing scheme violates the cooperative’s By-Laws, which states that it will operate as a non-profit public utility.

The Aleco, which is under the supervision of NEA, will held a pre-bid conference next week to look into the proposals of private corporations interested to invest and buy out the cooperative.

The Aboitiz Power is reportedly interested in investing in and operating the electric cooperative despite the close to P4 billion outstanding bills it owes various power producers, National Power Corp., Wholesale Electricity Spot Market and the National Electrification Administration.

The outstanding debt of Aleco amounting to P3.7 billion is a result of mismanagement and unabated corruption perpetrated by officials who have run the electric cooperative for the past decade, he said.(PNA) HBC/FGS/MSA/CBD/

4 Bicol governors reelected, 2 new faces added
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, May 22 (PNA) — Four incumbent governors in Bicol have been reelected while two new faces, including that of a 23-year old-son of an outgoing governor, have been added to complete what has been called the Bicol Bloc.

Incidentally, the composition of the new Bicol Bloc of six governors has only one from the ruling Liberal Party, who ran unopposed.

The six Bicol governors have been proclaimed by the Commission on Elections without encountering any pre-proclamation protests.

They are governors Edgardo Tallado (Nationalist People’s Coalition) of Camarines Norte, Raul Lee (United Nationalist Alliance) of Sorsogon, Rizalina Seachon-Lanete (NPC) of Masbate, Joey Sarte Salceda (Liberal Party) of Albay, businesswoman Cecilia Wong (independent) of Catanduanes and LRay “Migs” Villafuerte Jr. (Nacionalista Party) of Camarines Sur.

Wong and Villafuerte are newcomers.

The four reelected governors are in their third term.

Salceda, who ran uncontested, was first to be proclaimed by the Comelec.

Comelec provincial supervisor Mae Ann Cortes immediately proclaimed Salceda, saying even for only one vote, he could be proclaimed winner.

Nevertheless, Salceda still managed to get almost 300,000 votes or 73 percent of the P411,271 votes cast during the election.

On the other hand, the young Villafuerte, son of the outgoing governor, trounced his grandfather, veteran Bicol political leader Rep. Luis Villafuerte whose wife, Nelly, was also defeated by the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s wife, Leni, in the third district of Camarines Sur.Migs father, L-Ray, lost to Rep. Diosdado ‘Dato’ Arroyo for the congressional seat in the Second District of Camarines Sur.

In Catanduanes, many could not believe that last termer Gov. Joseph Cua would be defeated by Wong, who twice lost in her previous attempts for the congressional seat.

Cua, who controls almost all big businesses in the province--transportation (sea and land), gasoline stations, restaurants, hardware stores, malls, cement supply outlets, construction, abaca supply and drug stores (name it and he has it, traders would say)--has been credited for shouldering the burial expenses of poor families in barangays during his two terms.

He immediately conceded defeat.(PNA) HBC/FGS/MU/CBD/