Wednesday, July 31, 2013

(2nd Nightlead) Power to be restored at 5 p.m. Wednesday – Rosal
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, July 31 (PNA) -– Now the good news.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, president of the Albay Mayors League, told the Philippines News Agency at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday that Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla had promised to restore power connection to Albay at 5 p.m.

In an effort to bring back power in Albay, the center of trade and seat of regional government in Bicol, the Albay Mayors League and the three congressmen in the province worked together to settle the P39 million remaining balance of the P56 million obligation to the Power Electricity Market Corp., Rosal said.

The three congressmen are Fernando Gonzalez (3rd District), Al Francis Bichara (2nd District) and Grecon “Grex” Lagman (1st District).

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines cut off power supply to Albay Tuesday for failure of the Albay Electric Cooperative to settle its obligation to the PEMC for the month of June.

“We have done our best to restore the power in Albay today because we cannot wait for another day or Friday as this is badly affecting our economy,” Rosal said, “and fortunately, Secretary Petilla approved the power reconnection on or before 5 p.m. today. "

Rosal met Wednesday morning with Aleco project supervisor Veronica Briones at her office where he handed over a letter signed by him and Gonzalez appealing to the National Electrification Administration to facilitate the release of a loan amounting to P36 million to Aleco.

The amount will be used as payment for the balance of the current billing from PEMC covering the period May 26 to June 25.

“We appeal to you for your assistance to further avoid chaos and huge economic loss in the province of Albay. On behalf of our league members in Albay and honorable congressmen, we will do our best to assist Aleco in their collection performance and any plan and for long-term solution to its gargantuan past obligations,” the league and the lawmakers said in their letter to NEA administrator Edita Bueno.

As Rosal was having a meeting with Briones, Petilla called up Rosal where the two officials discussed the possible restoration of energy supply in Albay. (PNA) HBC/FGS/RBB/CBD

(Nightlead) Albay business loses P55M in one day due to blackout
By Mario Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, July 31 (PNA) -- The business community in Albay Wednesday expressed dismay over the cutting of power supply in the entire province by the National Grid of the Philippines.

It said it incurred P55 million losses in terms of overhead expenses for the past 24 hours, a member of the Albay Chamber Commerce and Industry said Wednesday.

Marcial Tuanqui, past president of the ACCI, said in a phone interview “we can just imagine how much losses a business may incur if the power blackout continues for weeks.”

Tuanqui explained that overhead losses refer to spending caused by unprogrammed expenses for fuel to operate generator sets and other related expenses.

He said the business environment in Albay is on a standstill, claiming that the power blackout has severely affected food stocks in small groceries, stores and restaurants -- including disruption in the workplace and mobility.

The current situation, according to Tuanqui, marks a “black eye to Albay” since this would affect the tourism industry, specifically the hotels, restaurants and tourist destination areas.

Tuanqui said the province’s investment opportunity would dropped significantly and affect the province’s goal to be among the recognized business centers in the country.

“This serves as a wake up call, to all of us, especially Aleco, our political leaders and businessmen,” he said.

City Mayor Noel Rosal said in an interview that as president of the Bicol’s Mayors League and as a representative of the three congressmen of Albay he requested Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to extend to the league and the three Albay representatives a soft loan in the amount of P36 million in order to bail out Aleco from its current bill for June in the amount of P56 million.

The letter, signed by Rosal and Rep. Fernando Gonzales (3rd district, Albay), appealed to Petilla through Edith Bueno, National Electrification Administration administrator, that the loan assistance would further avoid chaos and economic loss in the province.

“This is an immediate concern that has to be solved at once --we cannot wait for the coming days. What I am worried is the peace and order condition and the economic effect on this to the city,” Rosal said.

He promised that they will do their best to assist Aleco in the collection performance and any plan for a long term solution to its gargantuan past obligations.

Rosal admitted that Legazpi City alone is losing P10 million in overhead expenses a day because of the power blackout.

Lawyer Veronica Briones, NEA-designated Aleco project supervisor, said on Wednesday that to date the cooperative still has to raise some P39 million in order to settle the current bill for June amounting to P56 million.

Briones said that on top of the current outstanding bill, the cooperative has close to P4 billion in outstanding power bills with other creditors.

Rosal has placed this city under a “state of calamity” to cushion the negative economic effect brought by the power cut in the province.

Rodrigo Aguilar, assistant regional director of the Department of Trade and Industry, said prices and supply of basic and prime commodities were stable.

Aguilar noted a rush in buying of candles and kerosene in various towns and cities of the province.

He, however, dismissed reports of panic buying as supplies of candles kerosene are sufficient.

The Department of Education said it issued an order suspending night classes in all public secondary schools across the province.

Senior Inspector Arthur Gomez, Albay police spokesperson, said the Philippine National Police in Albay is under heightened alert as they have deployed additional policemen to beef up the present forces that would guard malls, terminals and communication towers.(PNA) HBC/FGS/MSA/CBD/

Palace asks Bicol’s cooperation to resolve power concerns

MANILA, July 31 (PNA) -- Malacanang asked Bicolanos to help resolve the current energy concerns in Bicol that have been affecting other sectors including tourism.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla will be meeting with Bicol’s local leaders, especially those from Albay to solve the problem.

“This is a problem of Bicol and we ask the people from Bicol to also help in resolving the problem. This cannot bleed forever. It has to stop, and that’s the reason why Secretary Petilla is going to meet with them,” Lacierda said.

Petilla will meet three congressmen from Bicol as well as the AKO Bicol party-list representative about the action of the national government to resolve the issue.

The lawmakers realized that there’s a need to improve the situation of the Albay Electric Cooperative Inc. (Aleco), he said.

“Hindi na pwedeng lumaki pa itong problema dahil kung hindi maayos ito, lalaki at lalaki ang problema,” Lacierda said.

The province of Albay has been cut off from the power grid starting Tuesday after Aleco failed to settle debts with the electricity spot market.

The Department of Energy (DOE) said the Philippine Electricity Market Corp (PEMC), which operates the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), as well as power plant operators sought Aleco’s disconnection.

The DOE said power producers have obligations to their creditors, while the financial viability of the WESM must be ensured.

Reports said the Aleco’s arrears have ballooned to nearly P4 billion as a result of poor collections, high system losses, pilferage, and failure to secure long-term power supply contracts. (PNA) DSP/PCOO/SSC

Bicol economy growing but poverty still high

LEGAZPI CITY, July 30 (PNA) -- While the Bicol economy grew faster than the National Capital Region's in 2012, the region’s poverty prevalence is disturbing -- specifically in the provinces of Masbate and Camarines Sur, a regional official of the National Economic Development Authority said here.

Engineer Luis G. Banua, NEDA Bicol assistant regional director, said in an interview Tuesday that Masbate remains the poorest province in the region but the highest number of poor families is found in Camarines Sur due to its big population.

“Masbate is the poorest province in Bicol but the highest magnitude of poverty incidence is in Camarines Sur with 380,000 families or 1.8 million,” Banua said, citing statistics from the National Statistical Coordination Board Bicol regional office.

In the first quarter of 2013, Albay province ranked second with a high prevalence of poor families, surpassing the province of Camarines Sur.

“Bicol economy is growing, however, we are far from attaining the Millennium Development Goal on poverty because it takes time to reduce poverty; we’re just one rank higher than the ARMM because of underemployment. So, we need to create more quality jobs to graduate from poverty line and improve income,” Banua said.

The data, according to NEDA and NSCB, are based on 2009 statistics but in the first quarter of 2013, Masbate got a 44.2-percentage magnitude of poverty.

Surprisingly, the magnitude of poverty incidence in Albay rose by 36.2 percent surpassing the province of Camarines Sur with 33.5 percent.

Albay province is now ranked second in poverty incidence followed by Camarines Sur; Sorsogon ranked fourth with 32.1 percent; Catanduanes, fifth with 27.1 percent; while Camarines Norte has the lowest poverty prevalence, with 24.7 percent.

The Bicol region’s economy grew by 7.1 percent, faster than the NCR, unfortunately, the economic growth didn’t trickle down to the grassroots, Banua noted.

To reduce poverty in Bicol, the NEDA official said, there is a need to create more investments to produce employment.

He said that most Filipinos believe that being employed in a well-paying job is the only way to escape poverty.

However, getting a well-paying job requires good education, Banua said, adding that improving the country’s educational system requires huge investments and will take a long time to produce results.

“Jobless growth will perpetuate poverty. The creation of more high-paying jobs should be the end result of investments in agriculture, industry and services -- especially in the rural areas outside Metro Manila,” he said.

To achieve that societal goal, the NEDA regional official said, substantial public investments in education, health, good governance, rural infrastructure, security and promoting productivity must be given priority.

“Reducing poverty will take a long time, given the prevailing social structure in the country. Economic mobility is shackled by lack of jobs and low productivity. Therefore, creating a competitive environment and providing support to move more people outside the poverty trap must be the primary mission of the national government,” Banua said.

Based on the latest poverty estimates released by the NSCB, three out of ten Filipinos are considered poor.

In 2003, real per capita GDP was P48,955; in 2006 it was P54,226; in 2009, P58,211; and in 2012, P65,917.

The second increase in the number of employed persons was only half the increase in total population. From 2003 to 2006, the number of employed persons increased by 2 million, but total population increased by 5 million.

From 2006 to 2009, the number of employed increased by 2 million while total population increased by 4 million while total population increased by 4.8 million.

To reduce poverty, Banua said, there must be substantial increase in reap per capita GDP and increase in good quality employment.

In 2009, Filipino families in the bottom 30 percent income group earned an average of P62,000 per year.

Given the average family size of five, the per capita income was only P12,500, which is below the poverty threshold of P16,841. (PNA) LAP/FGS/RBB/CBD/UTB

NGCP cuts power supply to Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, JULY 30 (PNA) -- The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines cut off power supply to the heavily indebted Albay Electric Cooperative at exactly noon Tuesday for Aleco's failure to settle its bills for June amounting to P56 million, sending the whole province of Albay into darkness.

Hazel Morallos, Aleco spokesperson, said a disconnection notice was sent by the NGCP last week on orders of the Philippine Electric Market Corp., which the electric cooperative owes millions in current bills.

Morallos said the power disconnection will continue indefinitely unless Aleco will settle its current bills with the PEMC the soonest possible time.

The provincewide blackout is now affecting some 160,000 households in the province and has angered the business community, saying the power blackout would carry additional burden on their business operation.

Meanwhile, the cash-strapped Aleco has summoned its three Area Service Center managers and asked them to submit a list of 100 power consumers who have unsettled accounts for immediate collection of their unpaid bills to raise more funds to pay PEMC.

Morallos said the PEMC had asked Aleco to submit the names of 300 heavy load users that have failed to settle their outstanding accounts with the electric cooperative up to now.

The list should have notation as to whether these consumers have been disconnected already or not yet. (PNA) HBC/FGS/MSA/CBD/UTB

Carabao remains important to Bicol farmers despite farm mechanization

MANITO, Albay, July 30 (PNA) -- In the morning of each day, farmer Marcial Daet of Barangay Cawit here is seen heading toward the nearby grassland with his four carabaos in tow.

For this 64-year-old farmer, these animals remain his precious possessions even if they are now seldom used in major farm works due to the agricultural mechanization that the government is aggressively pushing through various programs being pursued by line agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Daet is among the over-a-hundred members from three barangays, including Cawit, of the Kamanitohan Irrigators Association in this fourth class coastal municipality at the southernmost tip of Albay province who are beneficiaries of a DAR program which provides agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) with farm machineries and equipment.

The DAR program called Agrarian Reform Communities Connectivity Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) is aimed at reducing poverty among agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) through farm mechanization to help improve their earning capabilities.

Under the same project, these ARBs are also aided in the development of business skills necessary for the management of their own enterprises.

Started early last year, ARCCESS, a nationwide program, transforms ARBs into viable entrepreneurs by providing them support services in two major components-- first is the delivery of professional services to farmers' organizations and the second is provision of farm implements and machineries.

Under the first component, DAR is tapping professional services of the private sector to conduct lessons on business development, agri-technology and finance management to ARBs and help them become entrepreneurs, not just mere crop producers.

So far, DAR has already awarded 62 units of farm machinery worth some P17 million and composed of 90-HP four-wheel drive tractors with implements, combined harvesters-threshers, hand tractors with implements, corn sheller, reapers, water pumps, fiber dryers, mechanical trans-planters and power tillers to 42 ARBOs in different parts of Bicol including Daet's group.

These farm machineries do not only shorten the time spent to farm tasks done by the farmers, including the number of persons needed to complete the job, but also provide additional income to them by renting out the machines to other farmers or groups, according to DAR regional director Maria Celestina Tam based in nearby Legazpi City.

Classified as common service facilities (CSFs) under the ARCCESS, these were distributed this year to ARBOs whose farms produce crops such as rice, corn, vegetables, sugarcane, pineapple, abaca and coco coir.

Most of the ARBOs that benefited from the CSFs are based in Camarines Sur with six ARBOs, followed by Masbate with three; Albay, two; and Camarines Norte, Catanduanes and Sorsogon with one each, Tam said, adding that more groups in the region are being processed to become additional beneficiaries.

Daet said the machineries awarded to his organization last March have been giving his carabaos their much-needed rest and behind the modern agriculture for food security that promotes farm mechanization, he never wants to set aside the opportunities that these lowly animals offer.

Facing extinction, a situation that should be promptly addressed, these draft animals, according to Albay Provincial Agricultural Services (PAS) officer Ruben Limos, remain a potential source of income and can still pull the plow and cart to haul farm produce.

Besides, carabaos -- which require low maintenance given that they require no housing, only pasture grasses and water to live compared to other farm animals -- are environment-friendly and do not require costly maintenance that farm tractors need, Limos stressed.

Since it has no sweat glands, the carabao wallows in mud, creeks, or streams. The mud caked in the carabao's body protects them from flea or other insects.

Notwithstanding the fact that the country is fast modernizing its farm activities, Limos said, the carabao is still the farmer's buddy that is why it is important that the animal is given proper nutrition to reciprocate its work performance in the field.

Daet agrees, that is why, he said, his pet carabaos are given the needed attention, especially in its need for a greener pasture area that has easy access to water.

With the machineries around, he said his carabaos have all the time of the day to feed themselves and wallow in water as long as they want. At night time, he keeps the animals in his backyard to protect them from rustlers.

And when an emergency arises in the family that would require a huge amount of cash, any of those animals could easily fetch a good price, he added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

(Nightlead) Salceda seeks selective reconnection for Albay power consumers
By Connie Destura and Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, July 30 (PNA) -- Albay Gov. Joey S. Salceda said Tuesday he is working hard and pleading with energy authorities and corporate boards to secure an "immediate selective reconnection" because a disconnection has inevitable disruptive economic impacts and bad signals on the Albay image to its national and global constituencies.

Salceda made the statement following the cutting off of power supply to the Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) Tuesday noon, sending the whole province into total darkness, by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines after Aleco failed to pay its current bill payment balance of P56 million to the Philippine Electricity Market Corp.

"But it would be worse, if this sorry event would not prompt long-term reforms to secure that these would not recur and if possible Aleco would become a positive force in Albay development. Please pray for me so the Holy Spirit can guide me in discerning what is best for our people. I cannot do it alone," Salceda said.

"Yes it is a disconnection which we were able to hold at bay for 15 years with state-owned Napocor (National Power Corp.) and three years with private PEMC. I did my best.

Aleco had to pay only the current. DOE (Dept. of Energy) Secretary Petilla was already very generous and kind in agreeing to our position during protracted meetings in July 2, 8 and 9 that collections on the P1 billion PEMC and P3 billion PSALM (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management) be deferred," he added.

By "selective," he said he means some 100 heavy loads will no longer be serviced.

"Immediate means 'as early as two days' but 'no more than one week' because the poor who share no blame are made to pay for the sins of the oppressive rich who pursue unli-profit on the back of the ordinary working families," the Albay governor explained.

After seven days of failed negotiations, the debt-ridden Aleco has finally become bed-ridden -- downed by a crippling P4-billion total debts plus P67 million in current electric bills.

Aleco is servicing at least 160,000 households, known as the third biggest cooperatives and among the 10 worst with the highest systems losses at 24 percent.

The National Electrification Administration, which has controlled Aleco since 2011, has started negotiating with the Department of Energy to defer the disconnection threats scheduled on July 22, then July 28, and finally July 30.

Petilla, however, asked the NEA-Aleco to at least settle the current bill of P67 million to spare Albay from a sure power cutoff.

According to Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, the Albay Mayors League had pleaded that the disconnection be postponed for at least two more days, hoping Aleco would meet the P67 million from collections but the DOE said there was nothing it could anymore. (PNA) FGS/MU/CBD/UTB

Monday, July 29, 2013

DOT nominates Salceda for Tourism Star Award

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -– He has been bestowed a lot of accolades both in the local and international circles for his highly appreciated achievements in governance, disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and tourism promotion.

Now Albay Gov. Joey Salceda is once again headed for the center stage -- the Dept. of Tourism's Tourism Star Award.

DOT Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla has said Salceda has been nominated for the award, a national recognition given to a local chief executive whose projects have created and are creating positive impacts on tourism.

The nomination came following an announcement last week by the DOT in Manila that Albay province has emerged as number seven in the country’s 14 Top Overnight Destinations in 2012 -- next to Baguio City, Puerto Princesa City, Lapu Lapu City, Cebu City, Boracay Island and Metro Manila.

Batangas, Cagayan de Oro City , Davao City, Bohol, Iloilo City, Clark and Negros Oriental came below Albay to rank number 8, 9,10, 11, 12, 13 and 14, respectively, in the list presented by the DOT during the Wellness Expo, 8th International Trade Fair and Travel and 4th Culinary Tourism held as a recent three-in-one fair.

In the same presentation, the DOT also revealed that the fastest growing tourism products of these 14 destinations were health and wellness that earned an overall value share of 68 percent due to the high average expenditure per visitor by consumers from Australia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman.

DOT said among those that attracted tourists into these 14 top destinations were good quality care in topnotch health facilities, large pool of qualified English-speaking and caring health and tourism professionals, a captive market consisting of Filipino Diaspora, proximity to Pacific and Micronesia, tropical environment and climate and cultural openness.

In the wake of these developments, the Philippine Tour Association’s (Philtoa) also named Albay as the 2013 “Summer Destination of the Year” during its latest summer tour program presentation and promotion for the domestic and inbound market themed “Summer Island Fun.”

Philtoa’s combined membership includes hotels, airlines, resorts, transport and other support services establishments.

A non-government, non-profit group, it focuses on promoting the Philippines as a tourist destination in both the domestic and global markets.

Salceda said the aggressive tourism marketing campaign of the province, which is now the fastest growing tourist destination in the country posting last year an all-time high growth rate of 49 percent, is the key factor affecting these recognitions in the tourism industry.

Albay was highlighted as a global tourist destination at the recent ITB-Berlin Tourism Fair in Germany.

Philtoa has also cited Albay as the Land of Festivals, 18 in all yearly -- including the ongoing Daragang Magayon Festival, Cagsawa Festival in Daraga, Karangahan Festival during Christmas, Pulang Angui of Polangui town, Sarung Banggi of Sto. Domingo, Tabak Festival of Tabaco City and Ibalong here, the oldest among all these festivals.

Across the province are several newly developed eco-tourism destinations -- among them are the Albay Green Zone; Vera, Busay and Botong waterfalls; Calabidongan, Pototan and Hoyop-hoyopan caves; hot springs and a boiling lake; vast mangrove plantations; and the Misibis Resort.

Among the province’s historic destinations are the El Camino Colonial road, Nuestra Senora de Porteria church on top of a hill in Daraga town, Cagsawa Ruins, Japanese tunnels in Camalig; Gen. Ignacio Paua Museum in Daraga, Gen. Simeon Ola Museum in Guinobatan and Villa de Santiago in Libon town.

This city, meanwhile, which is recognized in the international travel industry as the “City of Fun and Adventure” has specialized in eco-tourism and action tourism, providing the combinations of safety, adventure, fun and comfortable facilities.

The stimulating new horizons in tourism in the city’s outskirts allow visitors to push themselves to new levels of adventure and endurance while soaking up natural marvels and dramatic cultural attractions from the innate world.

According to City Mayor Noel Rosal, the city has a great comparative advantage based on several assets—guaranteed peace and order, healthful environment, hospitable communities and a base of powerful cultural attractions plus a wide range of very different, often stunning natural environments that are easily accessible and virtually undiscovered by the tourism industry.

Quality hotels and restaurants throughout the city mean that thrill-seekers who want to pamper themselves in-between the adventure treks and fun engagements have a wide range of facilities to choose from.

Nature enthusiasts, the mayor said, have many options in the city: the magnificent Mayon that offers a silent drama of mountaineering; ATV (all-terrain vehicle) rides around its lava-laden rugged terrain; or burying feet at the fine black volcanic sand bordering its beaches with enticing waters that provide relaxing interludes.

Besides, the sparkling lower slopes surrounding Mt. Mayon beckon hikers who seek new adventures over unconquered terrains while the newly established Legazpi City Boulevard, a five-kilometer stretch of wide and smoothly paved road and an expansive shoulder for joggers and brisk walkers along the serene coastline of Albay Gulf, and the Embarcadero de Legazpi are some other come-ons.

The city also boasts of the historic Ligñon Hill that stands 156-meter tall and whose top offers the best view of the entire south quadrant edifice of Mt. Mayon, the whole of Albay Gulf and the urban landscape of this city and the nearby towns of Daraga and Sto. Domingo.

A long tunnel bored by the Japanese during the war through the lower slope of the hill is another attraction.

“Legazpi City, the heart of Albay province, has become a destination of choice for both business and leisure travelers who come and stay to explore Bicol attractions and experience first-hand our products and warm hospitality,” Rosal said. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

NDRRMC to launch mobile info system on disaster awareness, mitigation

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -– Targeting a “zero” casualty goal, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) will launch next month the National Cell Broadcast System (NCBS), an information system through mobile phone that will update the public about looming disaster events that might happen, a ranking official of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said Monday.

Edward Del Rosario, Defense Undersecretary and OCD administrator, said the NCBS will be tapping the support and facilities of telecommunication companies like Smart, Globe and Sun in disseminating emergency broadcast warnings or infoboards through mobile phones in times of weather disturbance, flooding, landslide, earthquake and other disaster event.

Del Rosario said in a press conference here that the NCBS was conceptualized as part of the OCD’s Disaster Information Nationwide Awareness (DINA) Project.

He said the NDRRMC and the agency have firmed up negotiations and will enter into an agreement with the three big telcos in August, after which the NCBS will start to operate nationwide for the millions of cell phone subscribers of Smart, Globe and Sun.

Aside from the regular disaster advisories, the NCBS will broadcast up-to-date weather, flooding, earthquake and landslide bulletins, and information tips on what to do before, during and after disaster events, Del Rosario said.

He was guest the at a two-day Regional Summit on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management for local chief executives, planners and disaster action officers in Bicol held here from Monday until Tuesday.

The OCD administrator said the NDRRMC has enhanced the council’s enforcement strategy by requiring all local disaster councils across the country to submit by the end of July their comprehensive DRRM plans for consolidation and appropriate funding scheme.

Del Rosario said the event here is the second regional summit to take place, the first being in Iloilo City.

He stressed that the summit aims to enhance partnership between the national and local government units in strengthening DRRM operations.

He noted that so far, only 60 percent or 976 of the 1,627 town and cities in the country have submitted their respective DRRM plan.

Del Rosario hailed Albay Gov. Joey Salceda for a fully operational DRRM where it pioneered and sustained the “zero” casualty goal during disaster events.

Along this line, Salceda who is also the Bicol Regional Development Council chair, said that of the 120 town and cities in the region, 95 have their DRRM and all towns and cities have their DRRM action officers.

In Albay, 15 of the 18 town and cities have prepared their Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), however, these CLUPs are still on hold as it will go through a process of consultations and public hearings before it can be implemented. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD/UTB

NDRRMC to launch mobile info system on disaster awareness, mitigation

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -– Targeting a “zero” casualty goal, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) will launch next month the National Cell Broadcast System (NCBS), an information system through mobile phone that will update the public about looming disaster events that might happen, a ranking official of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said Monday.

Edward Del Rosario, Defense Undersecretary and OCD administrator, said the NCBS will be tapping the support and facilities of telecommunication companies like Smart, Globe and Sun in disseminating emergency broadcast warnings or infoboards through mobile phones in times of weather disturbance, flooding, landslide, earthquake and other disaster event.

Del Rosario said in a press conference here that the NCBS was conceptualized as part of the OCD’s Disaster Information Nationwide Awareness (DINA) Project.

He said the NDRRMC and the agency have firmed up negotiations and will enter into an agreement with the three big telcos in August, after which the NCBS will start to operate nationwide for the millions of cell phone subscribers of Smart, Globe and Sun.

Aside from the regular disaster advisories, the NCBS will broadcast up-to-date weather, flooding, earthquake and landslide bulletins, and information tips on what to do before, during and after disaster events, Del Rosario said.

He was guest the at a two-day Regional Summit on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management for local chief executives, planners and disaster action officers in Bicol held here from Monday until Tuesday.

The OCD administrator said the NDRRMC has enhanced the council’s enforcement strategy by requiring all local disaster councils across the country to submit by the end of July their comprehensive DRRM plans for consolidation and appropriate funding scheme.

Del Rosario said the event here is the second regional summit to take place, the first being in Iloilo City.

He stressed that the summit aims to enhance partnership between the national and local government units in strengthening DRRM operations.

He noted that so far, only 60 percent or 976 of the 1,627 town and cities in the country have submitted their respective DRRM plan.

Del Rosario hailed Albay Gov. Joey Salceda for a fully operational DRRM where it pioneered and sustained the “zero” casualty goal during disaster events.

Along this line, Salceda who is also the Bicol Regional Development Council chair, said that of the 120 town and cities in the region, 95 have their DRRM and all towns and cities have their DRRM action officers.

In Albay, 15 of the 18 town and cities have prepared their Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), however, these CLUPs are still on hold as it will go through a process of consultations and public hearings before it can be implemented. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD/UTB

OCD names Bicol regional winners to vie for national Gawad Kalasag search

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -– Bicol has eight entries submitted to the national selection committee of this year’s Gawad Kalasag Search for Excellence in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) and Humanitarian Assistance.

All entries are winners in the regional level of the search and five of them are from Albay province with this city’s DRRM Council named as best among the region’s seven cities; Sto. Domingo town as Best Municipal DRRMC representing 4th to 6th class municipalities; and Barangay Oro Site as Best Barangay DRRMC.

The Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) based here is Best Hospital in the region and Simon of Cyrene Children’s Rehabilitation and Development Foundation in Daraga town is Best Non-Government Organization on Humanitarian Assistance.

The three others, all from Camarines Norte, are the Provincial DRRMC which was adjudged best in the region; Camarines Norte National High School in Vinzons town as Best School in urban locality and D.Q. Liwag National High School, also in Vinzons, as Best School in rural location.

These regional winners were honored in awarding ceremonies at the La Piazza Convention Center here Monday.

OCD Regional Director Bernardo Alejandro said Gawad Kalasag is a nationwide award given yearly in recognition of excellence in disaster risk reduction and management and humanitarian assistance.

The search is for the best Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils, civil society organizations and heroic acts of individuals, groups, or institutions during natural or human-induced disasters, Alejandro said.

Launched in 1998, Gawad Kalasag is the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s recognition mechanism in obtaining sustained commitment and support by recognizing exceptional contributions of disaster risk reduction practitioners in strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacities of the country and communities to disaster risks.

Kalasag stands for Kalamidad at Sakuna, LAbanan, SAriling Galing ang Kaligtasan.

The recognition, according to Alejandro, also aims to promote the spirit of volunteerism among agencies and individuals in providing the urgent need for help in responding to disasters.

Up for grabs in the national search are awards in 28 categories, of which the top awards are for best LDRRMCs for provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays.

Other categories are Gawad Kalasag for CSOs, private organizations, volunteer organizations, government emergency response management offices, schools, hospitals, heroic acts of individuals or groups in providing humanitarian assistance while special recognition will also be given to individuals, agencies and media.

The regional search, Alejandro said, determines qualifiers from the region to the national level contest whose winners will receive cash awards for the top three awardees for each category as follows: first place – P100,000; second place – P75,000 and third place – P50,000.

The prizes should be spent for DRRM-related activities of respective LDRRMCs, Alejandro added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

P316-M road rehab project on in Catanduanes

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -– The rehabilitation and improvement of a 5.42-km section of the Catanduanes Circumferential Road costing over P316 million is set to start next month, according to the Dept. of Public Works and Highways regional office for Bicol here.

This comes after completion of the pre-implementation process like bidding and awarding of contract initiated by the DPWH Central Office in Manila and other preparations such as re-designing and road-right-of-way acquisition, DPWH Regional Director Danilo Dequito on Monday said.

The project, which will cover the Viga-Pandan section, is part of the Japanese-funded P2.6-billion Catanduanes Circumferential Road Improvement Project-Phase II previously set for implementation early last year but made to wait for another year due to some delays in its pre-implementation processes, according to Dequito.

“We have to accommodate the changes that need to be done on its design and the completion of the acquisition process of the road right-of-way, as a matter of new policy, had to be completed first, way ahead of the actual civil works with the owners of the properties affected by the road widening compensated as early as February this year,” he added.

A report of Catanduanes Tribune, a local weekly tabloid, over the weekend said Catanduanes District Engineer Romeo Doloiras told local media that the upgrading and improvement of the 5.42-km road section comprising Contract Package II and II-A will be undertaken by Cavite Ideal International Construction & Development Corporation at a contract cost of P316.9 million.

To be completed in January 2015, the contract consists of construction of new concrete pavement of intermittent sections from Viga to barangay Bacak in Bagamanoc, reconstruction of one bridge with a length of 30.80 lineal meters, widening of one bridge with a length of 132.60 lineal meters, earthworks, drainage structures and slope protection works.

The report also said, citing Doloiras’ announcement, that another procurement process covering Contract Package III-B for Bagamanoc section of the CCRIP-II project worth over P1 billion for some 16 kilometers of new paved road reconstruction is also ongoing at the DPWH Central Office and targets start of works in October and completion by May 2015.

Works for the Minaile-Pandan section -- with a length of 32.95 kilometers for Contract Package III-C worth some P1.3 billion for new concreting and construction of eight concrete bridges, among other construction components -- are also underway, the Tribune said.

The entire road and bridge construction and rehabilitation project is funded under the Road Upgrading and Preservation Project being undertaken by the Philippine government with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency.

As part of the intention of Pres. Benigno Aquino III of improving all existing roads in countryside economic growth areas of the country, the project will upgrade the CCR with all-weather type of pavement so that a more reliable, safe, comfortable and fast means of land transport can be provided to road users.

The island province of Catanduanes is considered a key ecotourism and agriculture growth area -- given its rich historical landscape, lush vegetation, exotic beaches and majestic coastal waters that are fast emerging as water sports destinations

When completed, the project will strengthen the economic linkage among the 11 municipalities of the province and promote inter-island development in agriculture, fishery and tourism as the route traverse through flat and rolling terrain consisting mainly of rice fields, coconut and abaca plantations, residential areas, swampy areas and mountains.

The entire P2.6-billion project is being managed by a joint venture between Nippon Engineering Consultants Co. Ltd. and Egis International and Renardet S.A. Consulting Engineers, with Katahira & Engineers International as the lead firm with three local consultants -- the DCCD Engineering Corp., Engineering & Development Corp. of the Philippines and Perk Technical Consultants Corp. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

Rep. Robredo to retrace husband’s last journey
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- On the occasion of the first death anniversary of former Interior and Local Government Jesse Robredo, Camarines Sur third district Rep. Leni Robredo will visit Cebu and Masbate, the last places her husband was seen alive on Aug. 18 last year.

“I will have an emotional journey. I will retrace the last route he (Jesse) took before he died,” Robredo revealed, saying she will go to Cebu on Aug. 15 and Masbate on Aug. 17 and then commemorate her husband’s death anniversary in Naga City in a simple ceremony on Aug. 18.

She wanted to visit and talk to the family of Capt. Jessup Bahinting, pilot of the ill-fated twin engine Piper Seneca, and open the photo exhibit dedicated to her husband.

Then in Masbate, the lady lawmaker will grace a simple ceremony in memory of husband Jesse and know the people who helped search the plane wreckage and the bodies of three crash victims.

Robredo will not exactly fly the same way her husband did almost a year ago as she confessed the family still feels the trauma of losing a loved one in a plane crash. “My children always have fear of me travelling, especially in an airplane. I don’t want them to feel stressed.”

She said she will ride the fast-craft going to Masbate from Pilar Port accompanied by the officials of Naga City who went to Masbate during the search operation after the tragic plane crash.

“I don’t know if I can now bear to visit the crash site,” Robredo said.

She had been planning to go to Masbate but elections came and after the elections she was not yet ready to be on the place where her husband died.

She said she is familiar with Masbate because she was assigned there in 2007 while working with the non-government organization Saligan.

Robredo disclosed she is ready to end her “babang-luksa” (grieving period) on the first death anniversary and start wearing clothes other than black color.

She said she did not expect President Benigno S. Aquino III mention Jesse in his recent State of the Nation Address but admitted that she was comforted by it.

“It was very comforting on my part, knowing that the relation between them (Jesse and Mr. Aquino) was not smooth sailing all throughout. It was unfortunate that by the time they came into terms, he (Jesse) was gone,” she said.

In his Sona, Mr. Aquino gave tribute to Jesse for his “skill, compassion, and humility” which were the reasons why the latter was recruited in the Cabinet.

At one point, he blamed himself for recruiting Jesse because he said that if he had not asked him to join the Cabinet “he would still be alive today.”

Robredo said she had come into terms with the grief of losing her husband and expunged from her system the questions of “what if and what might have been” and blamed nobody for his untimely death.(PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD/

JCI-Legazpi to use electricity, faith to save Albay Gulf corals (Feature)
By Rey M. Nasol

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) – Starting Aug. 3 this year, a youth leadership development organization, in partnership with the government, will be utilizing electricity -- and faith -- to propagate corals and protect existing ones which they hope will quintuple, according to organizers.

The Junior Chamber International (JCI) Legazpi has sounded the need to rehabilitate and protect the coral reefs of Albay Gulf and offered a tested scientific solution through the "coral genesis" project.

“Innovation is the solution, utilizing technology that will help corals grow up five times faster and become resistant to coral bleaching and algae through the coral reefs’ electrification concept,” said engineer Martin Reynoso, executive vice president of the JCI Legazpi.

Reynoso has introduced a concept, another version of the coral genesis, already employed in other parts of the globe that are utilizing minimal amount of electricity through solar panels.

He said coral genesis uses the technology with a portable micro underwater solar power source, wherein any shape, design, logo or sculpture can be charged for fast coral reef recovery or even in the creation of themed sculptures.

The JCI local official explained that “underwater micro solar electric power” that tickles the corals to grow would require less care as the power source is anchored on the sea floor, adding that electric-propagated coral reefs are less prone to algae attacks compared to non-electric propagated ones.

“The concept of coral genesis allows corals to be grown either on-site or grown off-site that can be delivered to the reefs site for propagation or restoration,” he said.

Reynoso said it will be used in creating bead-like coral reef structures resembling the Holy Rosary that will be deployed underwater on Saturday, Aug. 3.

“Some 60 coral beads and a coral cross will be fabricated -- made up of concrete, wires, lead conductor and glass jars,” he added.

Previous technologies, according to Reynoso, have shown improved coral growth using coral electrification, however, costs have been high due to expensive materials and power source issues

The project also won the 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT IDEAS) competition award but was not universally adapted partially because of power source complexity, reliability issues and unfortunately, it had been extremely expensive.

The MIT IDEAS Global Challenge connects students with the passion and talent to improve the world with the experience and resources of the MIT community worldwide and support innovation and entrepreneurship as a public service through an annual competition.

The electric-propagated coral works when wires reeled in the concrete beads are negatively charged as they will attract calcium particles that will then build up on the surface and form artificial reefs, but more importantly they will also serve as the base for the coral nodules to be attached to the reef.

With proper reef protection and management, corals were observed slowly growing back and very gradually reversing years of damage from pollution, overfishing, crown of thorns infestation, and the use of dynamite and poison.

The JCI Legazpi Chapter is partnering with the municipal government of Sto. Domingo to pilot the coral genesis project.

Sto. Domingo Mayor Herbie Aguas said ”this is a welcome development for the town as the novel project will manifest the people’s commitment to environmental protection and care, adding the many impacts the project will give to the tourism industry in this municipality.”

Sto. Domingo has a special charm of its own, with happy blend of relaxed atmosphere and scenic view that soothes, mesmerizes and delights with towns’ long stretch of black sand beaches that are irresistible, especially during summer.

The coastal town has a number of beach resorts from modest to more luxurious ones that have complete bathing facilities, good food, cottages and convention halls which are drawing tourists and visitors.

The underwater coral genesis is themed after the Holy Rosary, as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary happens to be the patroness of the Sto. Domingo Parish.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda has cited the coral genesis project as complementing the measures undertaken by the provincial government for rapid marine assessment survey to check the status of corals in Albay, and consequently, come up and implement measures to restore and protect coral reefs in the gulf.

The provincial government, according to Salceda, has also been since then pursuing coral gardening program that has developed low-tech, cost-effective systems for growing and transplanting corals to restore degraded reefs here.(PNA) CTB/FGS/RMN/CBD/

Man, 55, gets life for drugs
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, July 29 (PNA) – Elderly persons should serve as a model to the younger ones, so they say, but a 55-year-old man apparently believed otherwise and paid dearly as he will spend the rest of his life in prison for selling four grams of illegal drug methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu to a drug agent in 2011.

Primo “Perry” Palomares, a sari-sari store and junkshop owner of Pili town, was convicted Thursday as “guilty beyond reasonable doubt for illegal sale” of shabu by Judge Leo Intia, Regional Trial Court Branch 27 judge, who imposed the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.

Palomares sold shabu with a market value of about P20,000 at P5,000/gram, according to an agent at the Naga City Police Intelligence Group Friday.

A forensic chemist of the Camarines Sur Police Crime Laboratory Office submitted in court as evidence a medium size transparent heat-sealed sachet containing 4.017 grams of shabu.

Palomares was trapped into the illegal transaction through an agent named Mike, who befriended him two months before the sting that happened in a room of Zam’s Appartelle along Diversion Road, Naga City.

His wife testified in court that Mike was introduced to her as a friend in July 2011.

On Sept. 27, 2011, the day her husband was busted, he told her that he would be home late because Mike sent him for some errands.

Mike asked Palomares, who had another drug case lodged in a separate court by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, that he needed to buy 25 grams of shabu from a source named Rafao Domato, whom the latter knew.

He said he instructed Palomares to bring Domato and the shabu ordered at Zam’s Hotel where the exchange of cash and goods would take place.

Even though he failed to bring Domato and brought only four grams of shabu, Palomares consummated the illegal transaction with the delivery which signaled the arrest by back-up agents who were at another room in that hotel.

Palomares accused the drug agents of instigating him and then framing him up when he pleaded not guilty of violating the anti-drug law.

But Intia was not convinced and ruled that “the prosecution was able to establish that what happened was a buy-bust operation…a form of entrapment which in recent years has been accepted as a valid and effective mode of apprehending drug pushers.”

The judge further ruled that “the defense of frame-up, which has been held as a shop-worn defense of those accused in drug-related cases, is viewed by the court with disfavor.”

Intia explained that like the defense of alibi, frame-up is an allegation that can easily be concocted and the defense must adduce clear and convincing evidence to overcome the presumption of regularity of official acts of government officials for the claim to prosper.(PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD

Bicol economy growing faster than Metro Manila

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PNA) -- The Bicol economy is growing faster than that of the National Capital Region with a 7.1-percent registered growth in 2012 fueled by services and industry, according to a study conducted by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) regional office, supported by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional office here.

Bicol’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) grew at a rate of 7.1 percent compared to NCR’s 6.8 percent.

The NSCB and the NEDA attributed the high GRDP growth rate to the influx of tourists and robust trade and commerce here.

Gil R. Arce, NSCB regional director, said in a press briefing Friday that Bicol’s economic growth of 7.1 percent in 2012 was nearly four times faster than that in 2011.

The main driver for the fast economic growth in the region is the services sector, which accounted for the biggest share of the region’s economy at 56.0 percent -- followed by the agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing (AHFF) at 24.4 percent and industry at 19.6 percent,” Arce said.

The AHFF’s share to the regional economy, however, dropped from 25.4 percent in 2011 to 24.4 percent in 2012.

Arce said services, which cover trade and tourism, was the largest contributor to the growth of the region’s economy in 2012, accounting to 3.4 percentage points of the 7.1-percent growth while industry contributed 2.9 percentage points. The AHFF share was 0.7 percentage point.

Among the six provinces in Bicol, Albay province accounted for the biggest economic growth as businessmen, according to Luis G. Banua, NEDA assistant regional director, are very bullish in putting up more investments due to the rosy climate of growth, big number of tourist arrivals and positive economic performance.

Banua said the positive economic performance of Albay province is attributable to good governance under the leadership Gov. Joey Salceda, who also serves as the Regional Development Council chair, and good peace and order situation.

“Hotel and restaurant businesses are booming because of increasing number of tourists. We’re expecting very positive economic development in Bicol in the coming years, especially when the Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA) becomes operational, as many tourists could fly directly here,” Banua said.(PNA) JBP/FGS/RBB/CBD/

Legazpi agri sector to get more funding

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PNA) -- The City government of Legazpi will give additional funding to its agricultural sector, particularly in the production of hybrid rice and vegetables, to increase the yield in basic crops and provide sufficient food supply in the city.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal said the move of his administration to aggressively support the city’s agricultural sector is in line with the Aquino administration’s program of enhancing farm productivity to achieve food security and increase the income of farmers and fishermen across the country.

Rosal said the local government will start registering legitimate fishermen to have a reliable list of those involved in the fishing industry like individuals directly into catching fish, haulers of fish catch and persons who are involved in drying fish and other marine products.

Legitimate fishermen will receive social services like enlistment in PhilHealth and receive health services.

The city chief executive said Agriculture Secretary Procso J. Alcala promised to give Legazpi a 35-horse power four-wheel drive hand tractor to be used for vegetable planting in the city.

Aside from the promised hand tractor, Rosal said he also asked Alcala for another three hand tractors.

He said the City Agriculture Office will continue to conduct trainings for farmers in the 70 villages of this city, especially those in far-flung areas, to give them more knowledge on the proper way of planting vegetables.

Rosal encouraged all legitimate farmers to plant more vegetables in the remaining vacant agricultural lands, particularly in the upland areas of this city, by using advance agricultural technology to increase their productivity and meet the increasing demand of the city’s consuming public.

He also disclosed that the city will rehabilitate its irrigation systems to make sure the water to be used by the farmers in their farming activities will be sufficient.

Rosal said the city has organized the Legazpi City Vegetable Growers Association and the Farmers Field School Students whose officers he sworn into office on Friday at the City Agriculture Office.(PNA) JBP/FGS/EPS/CBD/

Albay CSOs want NAPC handle social aspect of poverty reduction action planning

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PNA) -- Representatives of various civil society organizations (CSOs) in Albay have passed a resolution asking the heads of four national government agencies to make the National Anti-Poverty Commission once again spearhead the social component activities of the succeeding Bottom-Up Budgeting-Local Poverty Reduction Action Planning (BUB-LPRAP), being the proper agency mandated by law to deal with CSOs, non-government and basic sector organizations.

The CSO representatives are sending copies of the resolution, a copy o which was obtained by the PNA Sunday, to the secretaries of the NAPC, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

They noted that one of the commendable programs of the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III is the BUB-LPRAP as it recognizes the voice of the communities, basic sector organizations (BSOs), NGOs and CSOs whom the President calls as his “bosses.”

The group members, who attended a two-day training-workshop on Advocacy Strategies for Implementing the Magna Carta of Women and the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law organized by the NAPC on Thursday and Friday here, also included parent leaders of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

They claimed that they have participated, in one way or another, in the BUB-LPRAP, particularly for the 2013 and 2014 national budgets.

They said their experience in the recently concluded BUB-LPRAP was entirely different compared to the BUB-LPRAP for the 2013 budget when the NAPC spearheaded the activities for CSO participation for BUB activities.

“To make the succeeding BUB-LPRAPs meaningful -- particularly for the CSOs, NGOs and BSOs -- and to ensure that our participation are not just mere technical requirements, it is necessary that the NAPC once again spearhead the activities for the social component of the BUB-LPRAP process, particularly when it concerns the participation of the CSOs, NGOs and BSOs,” the participants added.(PNA) JBP/FGS/EPS/CBD/

RDC-Bicol to tackle problem of declining whale shark sightings in Donsol

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Bicol will take up as an urgent matter in its next full council meeting on Sept. 6 the sad experience of Donsol town in Sorsogon aired by its officials on the decline in the number of butanding sightings in this “Whale Shark Capital” of the world.

“We will request the presence of the officials of Donsol as resource persons,” Salceda said.

This developed as Alan Amanse, board chair of the Butanding Interaction Officers (BIO) of Donsol, claimed that warming temperature due to the adverse impact of climate change has driven away the gentle giant fish from their coastal town.

Aside from rising sea temperatures, e-coli contamination aggravated the problem on the dwindling presence of butanding in this coastal town.

“For the past two years, presence of butanding in Donsol waters is decreasing because the sea temperature is getting hotter from 26 to 27 degrees centigrade ideal temperature to 29 to 30 degrees centigrade now, based on our dive computer measurement -- and this is due to climate change,” Amanse said.

Amanse, a former fisherman-turned-BIO, admitted the few sightings of whale shark for the last two years.

The effect was most felt by the local communities in terms of the decreasing number of visiting tourists, he said.

The whale shark, locally known as butanding, is an edentate fish which eats only plankton and small fish like “dilis” but grows to an enormous length of up to 50 feet and can weigh up to 40 tons.

The most popular butanding in the waters of Donsol among the visiting tourists and BIOs were Putol, Curly, Lucky and Nognog.

But Nognog and Putol are no longer spotted, according to Amanse, as the two had long been gone, perhaps due to old age.

Putol was the biggest butanding in Donsol, measuring 14 meters long and two meters wide, while the rest had normal sizes at about eight-meter long, he added.

But the “gentle giants” now come either alone or in twos, unlike before when they came in pods of 40 or more at one time, Amanse said.

“Maybe they’re too stressed now due to rising temperature, e-coli contamination and increasing number of boats in the waters of the town,” he said.

Councilor Rey Aquino, Donsol tourism committee chair, said the butanding is dwindling following massive catching of dilis--the main food of the giant fish.

To address the pressing issues affecting the environment here, Aquino said, he will work for the enactment of laws prohibiting the catching of plankton and removal of piggeries and toilets built along the waterways of Donsol river that are linked to e-coli contamination.

Amabe de la Cruz, Donsol revenue collector, said the declining presence of whale shark since 2011 to date has generated less income for the town.

She said that in 2011, at least P3.8 million was generated from visiting tourists and it slightly increased to P4 million in 2012; but this year they collected only P2 million. (PNA) PDS/FGS/RBB/cbd/

PDEA nabs 2, seizes shabu in Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) arrested two notorious drug pushers and confiscated from them some P275,000 worth of suspected shabu, a PDEA report Friday said.

PDEA Bicol Director Archie Grande identified the suspects as Josemari Manuel, 26, a resident of Barangay Balaguer in Daraga town, and Lourdes Isip, 49, of Barangay Pigcale in this city.

Grande said in a press statement that a confidential informant had reported the illegal drug activities of the suspects earlier.

After validating the information and surveillance operations, elements of the PDEA Regional Office V Regional Special Enforcement Team conducted a buy-bust operation at around 9:30 p.m., Thursday, at the PNB parking lot at the corner of Rizal Extension St. and Gov. Forbes St., in Barangay Baybay, Legazpi City, which led to the arrest of the suspects and the confiscation from them of about 50 grams of suspected shabu.

Grande said the suspects are facing charges for violation of Section 5 of Article II of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

PDEA also reported having formally charged last week two notorious drug pushers following their arrests in a buy-bust operation that also resulted in the confiscation from their possession of some 50 grams of shabu with estimated street value of P210,000.

Charged were Panaudan Cosain Macarimbang, alias Manong Boy and Abu, 47, and Jonah Rose Abraham Jaraba, alias Jona, 24, both residents of Sultan Esmael, Dasmariñas, Cavite.(PNA) FFC/FGS/SMT/cbd

Bicolano scientist: PHL fishing grounds in deep trouble unless commercial catch operations banned
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -– The country’s fishing grounds are in critical condition due to overfishing.

And it will take time to revive them unless the government will totally ban all commercial fishing operations across the country, a Bicolano scientist has told the Philippines News Agency.

“As early as 1981, the major fishing grounds in the country have biologically and economically reached the maximum yield, meaning these are overfished,” Dr. Victor Soliman, a Bicol University professor and fishery scientist, said Thursday.

This 21st century, Soliman said, the Philippines’ fishing grounds are in critical condition and the government must take rigid measures as the current situation is that “we’re managing overfishing instead of managing the fishing industry.”

Total ban on commercial fishing operations across the country should be implemented, according to him, as this is an effective measure to protect the Philippines seas from poaching.

Earlier, more than 1,000 people from all walks of life in the sleepy coastal town of Donsol along with Greenpeace officials, church leaders and other environmentalists walked in the streets of the town, calling on President Benigno S. Aquino III to stop commercial fishing operations in Bicol.

They claimed illegal fishing operations are rampant despite of the President’s directive to local government units and authorities to curb fishing activities in Bicol.

Soliman also admitted that the government will also be in trouble if they will admit the overfished scenario as it will affect the country’s gross domestic production because they could no longer export good quality of fish aboard.

But the best measure, according to him, is for the government to take serious action to put to an end to massive commercial fishing operation across the country.

Two years ago, President Aquino gave a marching order to the Maritime Police and Philippine Coast Guard in Bicol to intensify their operations against big-time illegal fishing activities across the region.

Mr. Aquino’s marching order was made during the launch of Albay Climate Change Academy in 2011, following the complaints of nine prelates in Bicol who wrote a letter of appeal to the President asking his intervention to put a stop to the massive illegal fishing activities of commercial fishers in two major fishing grounds in the western seaboard of Bicol -- Ragay Gulf and Burias Pass.

The letter of appeal was signed by Archbishops Leonardo Legazpi, Archdiocese of Caceres; Jose “Bong” Z. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi; Jose C. Sorra, bishop emeritus of Legazpi; Lucilo B. Quiambao, auxiliary prelate emeritus of Legazpi; Jose Rojas Jr. of Diocese of Libmanan; Arturo M. Bastes, Diocese of Sorsogon; Gilbert A. Carcera, Diocese of Daet; Manolo A. De Los Santos, Diocese of Virac, and Jose Batolo, Diocese of Masbate.

The Bicol bishops condemned the local authorities in Bicol as the massive operation of illegal commercial fishing activities in the western seaboard of Bicol are taking place under the very noses of public officials as well as law enforcers here.

Msgr. Angel Dy, head of the Sorsogon Social Action Foundation, Inc., said in a press statement that the illegal commercial fishing in Bicol, specifically in Burias-Ticao Pass, halted for at least six months after the President’s issuance of directive but after the lull, rampant illegal fishing resurged in the region and even worsened.

RA 8550 known as the Fisheries Code of the Philippines prohibits commercial fishing within 15-km of municipal waters, but this has been disregarded by commercial fishers with connection to high-ranking officials of the government, according to the church officials.(PNA) hbc/FGS/RBB/cbd/

'Sagip-Kalusugan' reduces malnourished pre-schoolers in Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- The City Health Office of Legazpi through its Nutrition Section said it had reduced the number of identified malnourished pre-school children in the city through its Sagip-Kalusugan Program.

City Nutrition Officer Naty Cardel said in an interview Thursday that out of the city's 25,583 pre-school children recorded in 2012, 1,512 or 5.9 percent were in the level of underweight and 463 or 1.8 percent were recorded as severely underweight, or a total of 1,975 or 7.7 percent identified malnourished children.

From January up to June this year, Cardel said they identified 1,754 school children as malnourished, or a reduction of 11 percent.

She said that all the identified malnourished children during the previous year until the present year are continuously under treatment through the Sagip-Kalusugan Program that involves medical check-up, free laboratory examinations, regular feeding activities, chest x-ray, de-worming and vitamins supplementation.

Cardel said they are continuously monitoring the weights of the pre-school children through the “Operation Timbang (weighing)” to ensure that these children always have the right weight.

She added that they are also conducting nutrition education among the mothers of the affected children to promote nutritional guidelines such as breast feeding, infant and young child feeding, responsible parenthood and maternal and child health care. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMP/cbd

Albay 3rd district solon bares use of pork barrel to public through social media

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- Amid the heated P10-billion pork barrel controversy involving several senators and congressmen, Albay Rep. Fernando Gonzalez (LP, 3rd District) has shown a good and an effective way of exercising transparency by using social media networking.

On his Facebook account, Gonzalez shared through his wall the link showing the releases and utilization of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for Fiscal Year's (FY) 2013.

The link was also shared to the PNA Friday so that, the Albay lawmaker said, the people may know where his PDAF goes -- in line with the “Matuwid na Daan” (righteous path) of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Based on data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), P35 million of the legislator’s PDAF that was given to him as part of his FY's 2013 allocation went to developmental, education, basic services, poverty alleviation programs, health services and farm-to-market road projects in the countryside.

Gonzalez, owner of a chain of shipping and hotel businesses in Manila, and a landlord before entering politics, has been practicing good governance in the performance of his functions.

His moved was lauded by his constituents and Albayanos from all walks of life as the real way of showing genuine transparency in governance.

“Even without the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill and before the President enunciated his policy, I have already been practicing it here,” Gonzales.

The bill allows access by the general public to data held by national government offices and agencies wherein a policy of full public disclosure of all their transactions involving public interest should not be withheld.

It complements the right to information under the Bill of Rights, specifically on the disclosure of all state transactions involving public interest.

Gonzalez has served as mayor of Ligao City for nine years, one term as Albay governor and now on his second term as representative.(PNA) PDS/FGS/RBB/cbd/

Friday, July 26, 2013

P1-B mall soon to rise in Legazpi; SM, Robinson's to follow
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) -– Another mall costing P1 billion will soon rise in the 1.5-hectare area formerly occupied by the burned old public market in the city’s central business district.

The new business building will be put up by the LCC chain of malls owned and managed by the Tan family headed by Antonio Tan as president.

“This new investment will greatly help us generate more jobs for the Bicolanos and additional income for the local government’s coffer,” Mayor Noel Rosal said.

The LCC chain of malls in Bicol is owned by Filipino-Chinese Tan family who originated from Tabaco City and pioneered in the establishment of malls in the region’s key cities of Tabaco, Legazpi and Naga.

Aside from these cities, LCC has express marts in various municipalities in the region to cater to the needs of the people in the rural area who do not have to go to these cities to buy cheap but quality goods.

Aside from this P1-billion mall to be put up by the LCC here, the SM and the Robinson groups of companies are also eyeing to put up their own investments in this city before the opening of the Southern Luzon International Airport in Barangay Anobo, Daraga, Albay, in 2015.

The Asian Institute of Management (AIM) has described Legazpi as a fast-rising city in terms of infrastructure development, business growth and notable peace and order condition as a result of good governance.

Currently business and hotel constructions are booming in this city to cater to the growing number of visiting tourists as well as year-round convention activities.

Legazpi is the center of education, trade and commerce in the Bicol region and is fast tracking the implementation of numerous infrastructure projects under the Aquino administration, which include the P500-million Legazpi City Urban Drainage Project that involves the 24/7 construction of pumping stations at Tibu and Baybay rivers to resolve the city’s perennial flooding problem during the rainy season.

“Legazpi is ranked fifth as fast-rising city in the Philippines in terms of infrastructure, business development and peace and order situation based on an AIM study, that’s why we want to build proper infrastructures in Legazpi, like the all-weather flood system funded by the administration of President Benigno Aquino,” Rosal said. (PNA) LAP/FGS/RBB/CBD/

Catanduanes university now ALS service provider

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) -– The Dept. of Education (DepEd) has assigned Catanduanes State University -- with campuses in Virac, Catanduanes -- as the service provider of the government’s Alternative Learning System in the island province.

According to the regional office of the DepEd based at the Regional Government Center in Barangay Rawis here, the CSU has been able to comply with all the requirements necessary to make ALS among the outreach services of the newly established state university.

The CSU was transformed from Catanduanes State College into what it is now by Pres. Benigno Aquino III only in October last year.

ALS is a free education program implemented by the DepEd through the Bureau of Alternative Learning System, which benefits those who cannot afford formal schooling and follows whatever is their available schedule.

Students in ALS have to attend 10 months of school or 800 hours in the classroom, after which, they can take the Accreditation and Equivalency Test that, when passed, entitles them to a high school diploma that is equivalent to a qualification to enroll in college.

Non-formal, informal and indigenous learning system, as well as independent learning and out-of-school study programs -- particularly those that respond to community needs, is guaranteed by the Constitution.

With the ALS services being provided by the largest educational institution in Catanduanes, DepEd regional director Orfelina Tuy on Thursday said poor youths in the province are given a good break.

As service provider, the state university will administer achievement tests to registered learners and assist them to take the annual Accreditation and Equivalency Test, maintain 50 learners per learning group during the contract period, and provide core modules, Tuy explained.

The implementation is covered by a service contract between DepEd Catanduanes, represented by assistant schools division superintendent Jose Doncillo, and CSU president Minerva Morales, with the education department’s regional office evaluating its implementation. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Army, police operatives nab Albay top NPA leader

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) -- Combined Army and police operatives captured a top-ranking leader of the New People's Army (NPA) operating in Albay province on Tuesday afternoon in his hideout in Barangay (village) Buang, Tabaco City, a Philippine Army official said Thursday.

Arrested was Bienvenido Paladin alias Ka Buddy Silva/Ronald/Ted, a native of Guinobatan, Albay, according to Army Col. Raul Farnacio, commanding officer of the Army 901st Infantry Brigade based in Daraga, Albay.

Farnacio said Paladin is a member of the NPA executive committee of the communist Front Committee Larangan 77 operating in Albay.

In a phone interview, the Army official said Paladin did not resist arrest when the government men swooped down at his safehouse in Tabaco City, some 50 kilometers from this city.

The arresting authorities were armed with a warrant of arrest issued by three local courts where the suspect is facing five counts of murder and several other heinous crimes.

Farnacio said before the suspect’s arrest, two rebel returnees have tipped off the command about the sightings of Paladin in the said village.

Following the information, the Army and the police initiated a surveillance operation on the suspect for over a month, Farnacio said.

The rebel leader was turned over on Wednesday to the Ligao City Police Office and was later booked at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology city jail.

Farnacio said the arrest of Paladin is a big blow to the dissident movement operating in the province.

The arrest of Paladin could have been the second achievement of government authorities in the month of July in terms of rebel manpower haul.

Earlier, Chief Supt. Clarence Guinto, Bicol Regional Police Office director, presented Merjel O. Nebria alias Ka Joy, reportedly vice commanding officer of the NPA Larangan No. 2 operating in Donsol, Sorsogon, who allegedly surrendered to Senior Insp. Jim Vargas Jeremias, Donsol police chief.

Media practitioners in Albay, however, expressed disgust over the way the top police official in Bicol handled the press conference on the surrender of Nebria.

When the media men started asking clarificatory questions from Nebria, Guinto started to become defensive of him – indirectly insulting the group.

The media persons have expressed desire to have an investigation into the alleged surrender of Nebria as they said they doubt the information they got from him and Guinto.

The following day, the Celso Minguez Command of the NPA operating in Sorsogon came out with a statement denying that Nebria was their member.(PNA) FGS/MSA/CBD/

DTI urges all Bicol LGUs to provide business-friendly environment
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) –Through streamlining of business permits and licensing system, the Dept. of Trade and Industry wants every local government unit in Bicol to provide business-friendly environment to local investors.

BPLS is a DTI project that provides for the upscaling of reforms involving the development of policies and guidelines that standardized the streamlining of business and licensing system in cities and municipalities in consonance with Republic Act No. 9485, otherwise known as the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007.

Named as among the priority programs of the administration of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III, the measures being carried out under this project are designed to attract investors by making licensing process less tedious, thus, more investors would mean increased revenue for LGUs.

DTI Bicol regional director Jocelyn Blanco on Thursday here said BPLS helps LGUs comply with the set standards that adopt the unified application form and reduced number of steps and limit to only five the procedures that an applicant has to follow in applying for a mayor’s permit, making processing time shortened to a maximum of 10 days for new permits and five days for renewals.

The number of signatories in securing business permits should also be reduced from five to only two as another reform to make business start-ups easier, especially for new investors who want to invest in the locality, Blanco said.

LGUs in support of this endeavor are also made to implement the Business One Stop Shop (BOSS), strategy that gathers all local agencies in one venue to allow business registrants easy access to local agencies providing clearances.

This has been proven in radically reducing the step and processes of securing business permit and necessary licenses.

BOSS is usually being set up by an LGU in January, in time for the business renewal period, giving businessmen an opportunity to obtain all the necessary documents and approval to install a new business or renew their trade in one streamlined and coherent process.

Recently, Blanco said, all LGUs in the Bicol provinces of Camarines Sur and Sorsogon have been able to complete their BPLS through the help of their respective DTI provincial offices which started the implementation process late last year.

In her report to Blanco, DTI Camarines Sur provincial director Edna Tejada said the project covered 35 municipalities and two cities in the province that are now implementing the BPLS reforms and have started benefitting from it.

“After completing the BPLS in the entire province, we have noted that LGUs are now using unified form in business permit application, reduced signatories from at least five to only two or one in the case of the city governments of Naga and Iriga and towns of Pili and Calabanga,” Tejada said.

In Sorsogon province, Blanco said, the 14 municipalities and one city have also completed their BPLS as of last July 12 wherein from 30 days, the processing of business permits have already been reduced to a day for renewals and five days for new applications.

Blanco said that with these developments, almost all LGUs in Bicol are now BPLS-compliant with this prime city, the regional government center, as the earliest finisher -- earning for it the first-ever tag in the region as the “Most Business-Friendly” locality in the region earned early last year.

With it, the city was cited last year by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the most business-friendly city for the whole South Luzon even as it has been recognized by the Asian Institute of Management 1996 as one of the most competitive cities in the Philippines. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Bicol farmers are trained para-engineers, too
By Danny O. Calleja

CANAMAN, Camarines Sur, July 25 (PNA) --- An organized group of farmers in this small farming town no longer needs the services of expert technical men as they themselves can already perform para-engineering jobs.

Members of the San Francisco Fundado-Linaga-Canaman Irrigators Association (SFFLCIA) have been trained as para-engineers under the Community-Managed Potable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (CPWash) Project jointly implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Philippine Center for Water and Sanitation (PCWS) and the local government unit (LGU).

The PCWS extends technical and training support and expertise on technologies in the construction and maintenance of biogas digester septic tanks, wastewater treatment, rainwater harvesting, spring gravity flow systems, water treatment facilities such as iron removal filters and bio-sand filters using low-cost technologies.

The DAR, with its Bureau of Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Development and DAR field offices, on the other hand, identifies partner communities and deploys agrarian reform program point persons to provide technical guidance in reinforcing local capacity building and maximize resource utilization.

The agency also initiates process enhancement for replication and expansion of project implementation like the organization of para-engineers network and provides project funds and other logistical support.

For their part, LGUs provide counterpart funds for the purchase of materials, render support to water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)-based rural livelihood activities as part of the intervention to enhance health and sanitation condition of the community and tap the trained community workers for project expansion.

Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs), on the other hand, serve as local advocates to promote WASH-technologies, participate in the project activities and learn how to build and sustain the water and sanitation systems.

SFFLCIA, like 15 other Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations in the province and in Albay, Camarines Norte and Masbate, is beneficiary of the project wherein the DAR introduced a technology that provides them and their household access to safe drinking water.

CPWash involves the adoption of low-cost water supply, sanitation and hygiene technologies that ensure easy management, replication and maintenance of the facilities by the communities themselves as some of the materials can be generated from the existing resources like gravel, sand, charcoal and empty cans.

These technologies offer new, effective, affordable and inclusive pathways to water security; helps in poverty reduction; contributes to health and environmental improvement; and provides long-term social and economic development in farming communities as it broadens opportunities through sustainable agribusiness and rural enterprise development.

It is also in accordance with the seventh Millennium Development Goal which aims to ensure environment sustainability and addresses health concerns by way of reducing the huge proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and improving sanitation.

This leads to enhance agrarian reform beneficiary household’s access to sanitation by improving the water supply and sanitation situation and livelihood enterprise creation in the agrarian reform areas using low-cost, culturally acceptable and appropriate WASH technologies that can be managed and sustained by the community.

Costing only about P10,000, a CPWash, a community-managed water supply facility, has the following water sanitation techniques – the iron-removing filter and bio-sand filter as water treatment facilities; bio-gas digester septic tanks and rainwater collector.

“It took time for us to study and observe how the facilities initially built for us by the CPWash project were working, and we noted that some of its features needed further innovations to provide an improved and safe source of drinking water to our community,” Nicanor de Castro, the SFFLCIA president, told the PNA over the week.

De Castro then mobilized fellow farmers who were trained as para-engineers for the project into doing some innovations on the design, particularly on its iron filter and biogas facilities wherein they replaced the hollow blocks with PVC pipes for stronger support and prevention of bacterial growth.

The new design also reduced the culvert filtration holes which minimize the possibility of insects passing through the holes while water outlets were also reduced to ensure the water that overflows from the unit does not blend with the filtered water.

SFFLCIA is composed of 130 members whose households as well as all residents in the community are now enjoying enough and safe water supply from the CPWash project being maintained by their para-engineers. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Legazpi holds walk for safe blood
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) -- Hundreds of participants from different sectors of society joined the “Walk for Safe Blood” Thursday in connection with the celebration of the Blood Donor’s Month.

The activity was spearheaded by the City Government of Legazpi in cooperation with the Dept. of Health Region 5 and had the theme “Every Blood Donation is a Gift of Life.”

The participants include barangay officials, city government employees, Department of Public Works and Highways, Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity, Guardians Organization, Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government, students and the academe.

The brisk walking activity started from Penaranda Park to the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation where a Eucharistic Mass officiated by Father Kuruz Benson was held.

City Health Officer Fulbert Gallego said this kind of health activity aims to inform the public that the present city administration under the leadership of Mayor Noel E. Rosal is very active in giving health services to the people.

Gallego said all the participants availed themselves of free blood test and medical examination before donating blood.

He revealed that his office has recorded a total of 459 bags of blood collected during the weekly blood-letting activity conducted in the 70 villages of this city and in the Office of the City Health Department for the first seven months of the year.

This will be used by needy patients as well as victims of calamities, Gallego added.

The city health officer also told the participants that his office will conduct a “Buntis Congress” on July 30 and invite at least 500 pregnant women from this city to help and inform them on how to avail of the free medical services for both the mother and the baby by way of using the PhilHealth Card Para sa Masa.(PNA) HBC/FGS/EMP/CBD

CamNorte LGUs get incentives for good housekeeping

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) -– The Dept. of Interior and Local Government has granted financial incentives to seven local government units in Camarines Norte after their performances in good local governance were recently recognized through the Seal of Good Housekeeping awards.

The recipients are the municipalities of Daet, Basud, Jose Panganiban and Labo under the first to third class town categories, and Talisay, San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Vicente under the fourth to fifth class categories, DILG Bicol regional director Blandino Maceda said here on Thursday.

The incentives given through the government’s Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) will be used to finance various projects designed to spur local economic growth, particularly among agricultural communities, Maceda said.

The projects that fall under each recipient’s Annual Investment Program include the construction of a slaughterhouse worth P500,000; rehabilitation of water system, P600,000; and asphalting of a half-kilometer farm-to-market road for P250,000 in San Lorenzo Ruiz.

In San Vicente, the projects are bridge construction worth P1 million; rehabilitation of the town’s Agro-Cultural and Sports Complex, P800,000; and improvement of the municipal plant nursery, P200,000.

Out of the grant, the municipal government of Talisay will establish a birthing facility for P700,000; rehabilitate a farm-to-market road at P200,000; and construct a processing center for bamboo by-products worth P100,000, Maceda said.

Daet, the capital town, on the other hand, will be constructing flood waterways for P2 million and establish a rural health center in Barangay Lag-on for P1 million while Labo and Jose Panganiban will improve from gravel to concrete barangay roads each for P1 million.

Maceda said that after the first seven, the remaining five of Camarines Norte’s 12 municipalities that have also been also awarded Seals of Good Housekeeping by the DILG will also be given similar cash incentives through the PCF in recognition of their adherence with good local governance that the late DILG secretary Jesse Robredo had instilled among LGUs before his untimely death in a plane accident late last year. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD

Regional summit on DRRM for local chief executives set
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) -- The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council V (RDRRMC V), through the Office of Civil Defense V, will be conducting a Regional Summit on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management for Local Chief Executives on July 29-30 at La Piazza Hotel and Convention Center, Legazpi City.

The activity will be attended by local chief executives of the region with their Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office heads and planning officers, members of RDRRMC V and resource speakers from local and national agencies.

The objective of the summit is to come up with a comprehensive and standard understanding of DRRM roles and responsibilities of the LCEs for the effective and efficient delivery of government services.

Included also in the activity are awarding of the Regional Gawad Kalasag winners and launch of Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan where all the member agencies of RDRRMC V will sign a pledge of commitment.

Governor Joey Sarte Salceda -- a Hall of Famer awardee of the National Gawad Kalasag, Global Senior Champion of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, chair of Regional Development Council V (RDC V) and a member of the Board of Director to the Asia Pacific Region of the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (UNGCF) -- will deliver the keynote address.

This summit is in response to one of the seven directives of President Benigno S. Aquino III during Typhoon “Pablo” on December 12, 2012 to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.(PNA) FPV/FGS/CBD/

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bankers plant mangrove propagules in Albay town

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PNA) -- Some 178 bankers of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) rolled up their sleeves and braved the mud and sharp barnacles and the heat of the sun to plant 3,000 mangrove propagules in the coast of Barangay Kawit, Manito, Albay, on Saturday as part of their 50th anniversary celebration.

Manito town, adjacent to Bacon town in Sorsogon, is 42 kilometers southeast of this city and faces Albay Gulf.

LBP Assistant Vice-President Alex Lorayes said in an emailed statement Wednesday that the event is in support of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) National Greening Program (NGP).

Lorayes said the LBP aims to plant 50,000 trees nationwide and the 3,000 mangrove propagules planted will add up to their total target as support to the NGP through their corporate social responsibility function.

“All of our employees in the region enjoyed the tree planting which we are doing every year; however, we do away with the tree planting in Mt. Mayon and instead we try to propagate some mangroves for the fact that these serve as spawning grounds for fish so we can be of help to improve the fish catch in a way,” he added.

Imelda Baltazar, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office-Albay chief, said the LBP committed to ensure that the propagules will survive as the top level management gave an order for their personnel to monitor the growth of the mangroves in the area.

“As we all know, mangroves are habitats of our marine resources and serve as a buffer zone against strong typhoons that are brought about by climate change so it is imperative that we should fortify our coastal areas with these mangroves,” Baltazar said.

She estimated an 85-percent survival rate among mangroves planted under the DENR’s greening program in identified mangrove sites in the municipalities of Bacacay, Rapu-Rapu and Manito and in Legazpi City.(PNA) PDS/FGS/CBD

Alcala underscores role of fisheries sector in national economy

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PNA) -- For the first time, the fisheries sector posted a 5.5-percent growth during the first semester of this year, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Alcala, speaking during the launch of the nationwide implementation of the National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration (FishR) at the Oriental Hotel here, claimed that the growth was an impressive one, compared to the 1.1-percent registered during last year’s comparative period.

“It is our aim to maintain this growth and, if possible, hit 5.8 percent,” he said with optimism.

Earlier, Alcala explained the overall concept and aim of the FishR program before some 600 coastal and inland municipal mayors and their municipal agricultural officers, agricultural technicians for fisheries and Municipal Fisheries Aquatic Resource Management, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional directors, provincial fishery officers, selected non-government organization representatives, national government heads and friends from the media who attended the launch.

The DA secretary said the FishR project aims to have a comprehensive list of legitimate fisherfolk in the country, which will include those engage in actual fishing, working in commercial fishing vessels, porters of fish catch, fish processing workers and others engaged in work related to fishing.

He said the FishR is designed to put in place a systematic program to assist fishermen in their important role in the intensified food production efforts of the government.

The municipal fisherfolk registration nationwide is required under the Fisheries Code of 1998, Alcala said.

The BFAR, the lead agency in the project, hopes to cover the whole country by September, according to lawyer Asis Perez, BFAR national director.

As an incentive to local government units, Alcala said the BFAR will give P15 for each legitimate fisherman registered and P1 million each to the first 100 LGUs to finish the registration of qualified fishermen in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

As counterpart, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda announced that he will give additional P1 million each to the LGUs that will be among the first 100 LGUs to finish the list-up.(PNA) PDS/FGS/NIM/CBD/

2 Bicol companies qualify for DOLE’s incentive for labor standards compliance
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PNA) -– After recently earning Tripartite Certificate of Compliance with Labor Standards awards from the Dept. of Labor and Employment, two big players in industries of their respective fields in Bicol have qualified for government’s Incentivizing Compliance Program.

These two industry players are the Energy Development Corp. and the Innodata Knowledge Services, Inc., two of the 22 companies in the country that are latest recipients of the TCCLS.

EDC is the leading producer of geothermal energy in the entire Philippines with its P5.1-billion renewable energy project at the Bac-Man geothermal energy field along the boundaries of Sorsogon and Albay.

Innodata, on the other hand, is the leading company operating in this city that responds to market demand for transformation from print publishing to online publishing, from search-based information products to workflow-based information products and from web-based distribution to multiple-channel distribution—including mobile, tablet and eReading devices—while continuously adopting new strategies, technologies and processes.

Located along the Alternate Road within this city’s commercial district, Innodata includes among its clients leading media, publishing and information services companies, as well as enterprises that are prominent in information technology, manufacturing, aerospace, defense, financial services, government, healthcare and law.

Provided under the DOLE Department Order (D.O.) No. 115-A Series of 2012, the TCCLS is the first-level seal of good housekeeping that is issued to registered establishments.

Also known as the Operational Guidelines on the issuance of TCCLS, DO 115-A is a DOLE reform measure that seeks to promote voluntary compliance with labor standards by giving due recognition and incentives to compliant establishments in pursuance to the ICP.

The ICP encourages voluntary compliance first by giving recognition and incentives to a company’s initiative to voluntarily comply with labor laws or having implemented a much higher standard and by assisting a non-compliant company through training and technical assistance to enable the company to comply with the requirements.

In essence, the ICP is an institutional reform outlined in the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016 requiring the convergence and integration of programs to reinforce self-regulation and voluntary compliance with the General Labor Standards, Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Child Labor Law among the Philippines’ industries.

DOLE regional director for Bicol Nathaniel Lacambra on Wednesday said the TCCLS award brings the 22 awardee-companies a step closer to the DOLE Secretary’s Labor Law Compliance and the Tripartite Seal of Excellence awards—the highest honor given by the department.

The TCCLS is a basic pre-qualification requirement for the SLLC Award and the TSE which can be gained by an establishment upon obtaining the entire five DOLE good housekeeping certificates -- including the Gawad Kaligtasan at Kalusugan, Child Labor-Free Establishment, National Productivity Olympics and the Outstanding Award for Industrial Peace.

To qualify for the TCCLS, Lacambra explained, an establishment must fit with the standards such as: it must be duly registered with either the Department of Trade and Industry, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Cooperative Development Authority, DOLE or other appropriate government agencies.

It must also be a holder of a valid business permit from the local government unit; has no pending case with the DOLE involving violations of general labor standards, occupational safety and health standards, and child labor law at the time of the application; and has no case of fatal accidents, permanent total/partial disability, or occupational illness within a period of one year at the time of application. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Salceda says PNoy worth support of every Filipino
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PNA) -– Following the 4th State of the Nation Address delivered by Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III Monday, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said Albay province is an ally of the President in his over-all government transformation goal.

“Maasahan ni PNoy ang buong probinsiya ng Albay bilang kasangga sa pangkalahatang pagbabago o transpormasyon lalo ng mga institusyon ng gobyerno. Ang Team Albay ay di lang pang-disaster, pang-development pa (PNoy can count on the entire province of Albay as an ally in the over-all reform or transformation, especially among government institutions. Team Albay is not only for disaster but also for development),” Salceda said Tuesday.

He said the President was right in saying in the SONA that the Presidency is enjoying the support of majority as also indicated by recent surveys that gave him an overwhelming approval and satisfactory ratings.

Based on the Pulse Asia survey taken three to four weeks before the Sona, the President’s trust approval soared from 72 to 77, representing a five-point jump in the past three months while his performance approval remained steady at 73 percent.

On the other hand, the President’s public satisfaction rating for the second quarter of the 2013 Social Weather Stations survey rose to 76 percent -- an improvement from the first quarter result of 74 percent.

In the early part of his Sona, the President said: “Tumugon nga po tayo sa panawagan, at ang mga kasama natin noong una, nadagdagan pa. Sa paniniwala ko nga po, kung tama ang aking ginagawa, lalo pang darami ang ating magiging kasangga.”

“Nito ngang nakaraang Mayo, tinanong ko kayo, Boss, tama ba ang direksyon natin? Ang tugon ninyo: tama, at pabilisin pa natin ang transpormasyon ng lipunan. Humiling ako ng mga kakamping makikisagwan sa iisang direksyon, at ibinigay ninyo ito.”

“Ang totoo nga po, hindi lang mayorya, hindi lang siyam sa labindalawa, kundi siyam sa sampung pinakamataas na puwesto ng mga senador ay mga taong inilapit ko sa inyo.”

On these lines, Salceda said “the imperative of our country is less to criticize or to compete. Rather, this generation is in the good mood to cooperate or at least collaborate with a President who is honest, sincere and totally trustworthy.” (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/