Friday, August 30, 2013

Solon questions P25-M PDAF project in Albay town

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 29 (PNA)--Albay Rep. Fernando Gonzalez (LP, 3rd District) is questioning the P25-million dredging projects in Polangui town partly funded through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of a party list congressman, branding them as a waste of money and against the pronouncement of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The bidding of the projects was done at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday at the ABC Hall of the Polangui municipal building.

Gonzales said the bidding of the two PDAF-funded flood control projects in Polangui town do not conform to the proper procedure as mandated by law and an open defiance of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s declaration of transparency.

In a telephone interview Thursday, he said that P10 million of the P25-million funding came from the PDAF fund of AKB Rep. Christopher Co.

The Albay solon claimed that the bidding made on Tuesday had no transparency and was through a "negotiated emergency."

“Garapalan (deplorable since it was obviously rigged),” he said. “How come that the bidding is termed ‘negotiated emergency’ when there is no disaster or typhoon?”

Polangui town Mayor Cherilie Mella-Sampal, however, clarified that the P25-million fund was downloaded by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the local government of Polangui before the May elections.

But the bidding was put on hold then due to the election ban.

When asked why the bidding was negotiated, Sampal explained that the bidding passed through the process and had Commission on Audit(COA)clearance as well as clearance from Albay Public Safety Emergency Management Office due to the exigency of the project.

She claimed they needed to implement the project before rainy season comes as the town of Polangui is often hit by severe flooding.

“Our town is the catchment of floods from Lake Bato, so we need to dredge and scour the rivers before the rainy season hits us,” Sampal said.

Asked on who the winning bidder is, the town chief executive said it was Ramar Contruction owned by former mayor Rafael Lo.

Gonzales said the LGU-Polangui has been a recipient of PDAF assistance for rehabilitation of flood control system for Nacascasan River (Lanigay-Balangibang-Matacon Section) in the amount of P10 Million.

It has posted in PhilGEPS the following procurement notice: Rehabilitation of flood control river system of Salug River (Basud-Ubaliw Section); rehabilitation of flood control system of Nacascasan River (Lanigay-Balangibang-Matacon).

"They’re just using the improvement of river but the truth is that this is dredging and de-silting which is a total waste of money. This is temporary in nature which is not allowed by the President,” Gonzalez said.

The President, he said, has spoken on PDAF -- that only open and competitive bidding shall be observe; no temporary structures as projects and neither can they be dredging, de-silting, re-gravelling or asphalt overlay.

“The posted project/procurement notice clearly does not conform to the criteria set by the President on PDAF, now or in the future,” the third district lawmaker stressed.

He said proceeding with the bidding might have been an open defiance to Presidential pronouncement and subject to an investigation by the Department of Justice/Ombudsman or any competent authority. (PNA) PDS/FGS/RBB/CBD/

Daet wins LGU of the Year in Apolinario Mabini Awards

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 29 (PNA) -– For its exceptional programs and services rendered for the welfare and protection of persons with disabilities, the municipal government of Daet in Camarines Norte was adjudged Local Government Unit of the Year for the Apolinario Mabini Awards.

Mayor Tito Sarion received the award during ceremonies graced by Pres. Benigno Aquino III at the Bulwagan ng mga Bayani in Malacañang on Wednesday.

Among those considered in selecting the awardee in this category were the passage of significant ordinances that protect and uphold the rights of PWDs; establishment of PWD-friendly and accessible physical structures, architectural features and facilities; active implementation of programs supporting PWDs like livelihood, employment and training; implementation of programs that create PWD awareness; and implementation of programs that positively impact on the community.

Daet has shown exemplary programs and initiatives which excel and become model for other municipalities in the country in terms of providing laudable programs and services for the PWD sector, the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Inc. said in a statement reaching here Thursday.(PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

NPA rebels burn 3 heavy equipment in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 29 (PNA) -– New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Wednesday night set on fire three heavy equipment at a construction site in an upland village of San Fernando town in Ticao Island, Masbate, a Philippine National Police (PNP) official said Thursday.

Inspector Malu Calubaquid, PNP Bicol spokesperson, said a band of communist guerrillas attacked at about 7 p.m., Wednesday, a heavy equipment pool at Sitio Puro, Barangay Buenavista, an upland village some 12 kilometers from the town proper.

Calabaquid quoted a report from the San Fernando Municipal Police Office (SFMPO) that said a group of NPA dissidents raided the equipment pool and set on fire a steam roller, a bulldozer, and a payloader owned by engineer Alejandro Lim Jr., the contractor of a road construction project in the village.

In a phone interview, Calabaquid, however, could not tell the type of road project that is being implemented there and what agency or local government entity is doing it.

Merien Esber, Masbate provincial government spokesperson, said in a phone interview that they had not yet received a report from the SFMPO regarding the incident but, she said, they would check with the provincial engineering office whether there is an on-going road construction being implemented there.

Calabaquid said police investigators ruled out the extortion angle as behind the burning of the heavy equipment.

Ticao Island in Masbate is consists of the towns of San Fernando, Batuan, Monreal and San Jacinto. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD

Catanduanes gets books, worms from PDAF-funded grants
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 29 (PNA) – Books as gardening manuals and worms for backyard vermiculture projects were among the items distributed in Catanduanes by “dubious” non-government organizations under a P7-million livelihood project funded through the pork barrel of two party list representatives two years ago.

The NGOs involved were identified as Gabay at Pag-Asa ng Masa Foundation, Inc. (GPMFI) and its two “sister” foundations – Gabay sa Magandang Buhay Foundation, Inc. (GBMFI) and Ikaw at Ako Foundation. Inc. (IAFI), according to a report of the weekly local paper Catanduanes Tribune released over the week.

These foundations were among those tagged along with those of Janet Lim-Napoles by the Commission on Audit (COA) to be behind a massive money-making scam that involved congressional fund called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), popularly referred to as “pork barrel” of several lawmakers, the report said.

GPMFI, GBMFI and IAFI were identified as having been given a total of P108 million from the solons’ PDAF in 2007 and 2009.

The three NGOs shared the same address – 5019 North Road, Raminel Subdivision, Veinte Reales, Valenzuela City – at a residential unit owned by one Myra Villanueva, who is also project coordinator of Kasangga sa Magandang Buhay Foundation, Inc. (KMBFI).

According to the Catanduanes Tribune, A TEACHER Party List headed by Rep. Julieta Cortuna and ALAGAD Party List of Rep. Rodante Marcoleta channeled the releases in 2011 of P4 million and P3 million in PDAF funds, respectively, through the local government of Virac.

The two party list representatives requested then Virac Mayor Jose Alberto II to release the amounts directly to the project implementer, GPMFI, for the vermi-composting/vegetable gardening and other income-generating livelihood projects, including the distribution of manuals.

Each of the 230 vermi-composting and vegetable gardening sets cost P3,500 while the 2,130 manuals cost P1,500 each.

On Jan. 31, 2012, Alberto ordered the municipal accounting office to release the funds upon written authority from the two congressmen after the execution of the memorandum of agreement covering their disposition, the Tribune said.

The MOA was signed by a certain Marilou Ferrer of GPMFI as one of the group’s incorporators, directors and stockholders and also an official of three other NGOs: Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc. (KMFI), Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation, Inc. (KKAMFI) and Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (KapKFI).

Villanueva, who reportedly migrated to the US in 2010, was also an official of these groups that COA reports cited by Tribune said had siphoned a total of P971 million in PDAF funds in 2007 and 2009.

Of the amount, P58.6 million came from the PDAF of former Catanduanes representative Joseph Santiago, it said.

Among the findings of the COA special audit regarding the NGO transactions were: total disregard of the procurement law in ensuring the lowest price; same list of beneficiaries submitted to two different agencies; list of beneficiaries taken from published list of board passers in various professions; and, multiple attendance of beneficiaries in the same or similar trainings conducted by different NGOs for as many as 15 times, receiving multiple number of the same kits.

Two Virac establishments – Cathy’s Restaurant and Music Avenue Band – were even named as among the suppliers of KKAMFI for their various livelihood trainings, several of which were funded by Santiago in the amount of P27.16 million.

The two establishments, however, have denied transacting business with KKAMFI, according to the Tribune report. (PNA) DSP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Catholic school expands health program in coastal villages
By Anecia L. Bailon

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 28 (PNA) -– The Aquinas University of Legazpi College of Nursing and Health Sciences (AUL-CNHS) here has expanded its health intervention program in the coastal villages in this city as part of its nursing students’ curricular requisite on community-related learning experience.

In the implementation of its diverse activities and programs, the AUL-CNHS uses the Community Organizing Participatory Action Research approach through people empowerment by mobilizing them to develop their capability and readiness to respond and take action on their immediate needs towards solving the long term problems.

From academic year 2009 to 2013, the AUL-CNHS students provided health intervention services and implemented programs in Barangay Lamba as their adopted barangay with a total population of 1,209 distributed into 249 households.

The programs and activities implemented in Barangay Lamba include feeding of 40 0-6 year old malnourished children which were weighed and identified during the “operation timbang” activity, establishment of herbal garden per purok (sub-village) and continuous health education to mothers, youths and elderly.

These also include lectures to barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholar on concerning basic health programs of the Department of Health for the sustainability and proper monitoring as well as assisting the city health workers on expanded program on immunization and related activities.

Currently, the AUL-CNHS has identified the coastal village of Dap-dap as the newly adopted barangay where the provision of health services and implementation of health programs will be extended as part of its community extension program.

This barangay has an estimated 341 children with ages 0-71 months old. (PNA) HBC/FGS/ALB/CBD

DBM releases P102M to Ako Bicol in 2013
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Aug. 28 (PNA) -– The Dept. of Budget and Management has released P102 million this year to representatives of the Ako Bicol Political Party for various projects that included road opening, flood control structure and financial assistance for education, health and livelihood.

DBM records showed that the agency has released P35 million each to Rep. Christopher S. Co and Rep. Alfredo A. Garbin Jr. and P32 million to Rep. Rodel Batocabe from their Priority Development Assistance Fund.

Co allocated most of the PDAF for flood control projects amounting to P23 million in the rivers of the towns of Sto. Domingo and Polangui in Albay province.

Another P3 million was spent for the rehabilitation of drainage system in Barangay San Roque, Daraga, Albay.

He allotted P7 million for a road-opening project in Negros Occidental and gave financial assistance of P200,000 for the National Kidney Transplant Institute and P500,000 for the Bicol Training and Teaching Hospital for indigent patients; and the rest for other financial assistance.

The Dept. of Social Welfare and Development got P500,000 for the Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services program while the Department of Labor and Employment received P800,000 financial assistance for 800 students undergoing Special Program for Employment of Students.

From Garbin’s PDAF, P15 million went to the towns of Daraga and Camalig for the item “financial assistance for the implementation of livelihood projects” for 1,200 and 6,000 beneficiaries, respectively.

The beneficiaries were supposedly trained in cosmetology, coconut processing, perfume making and making of juice, jam, concentrate and puree.

According to the DBM, the funds for livelihood projects were released before the May 2013 elections on Feb. 15.Road-opening project in Occidental Mindoro was also listed under Garbin’s PDAF at the cost of P7 million.

The Ako Bicol lawmaker’s PDAF also funded the rehabilitation of flood control project in Quinale River in Albay costing P12.5 million while it spent P500,000 for the construction of a classroom in Banquerohan, Legazpi City.

On June 19, the DBM released from Batocabe’s PDAF “financial assistance to the municipality of Daraga, Albay, for the rechanneling/deepening of Mi-isi, Salvacion River” amounting to P11.6 million.

The PDAF also financed the rehabilitation of two flood control projects in Mabinit and Yawa Rivers in Legazpi City for a total allocation of P20 million released on Feb. 8.Batocabe’s PDAF also gave financial assistance of P400,000 to eight scholars of the University of the Philippines.(PNA) HBC/FGS/JME/CBD

Albay PDC approves P5.3-B invest program for 2014
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 28 (PNA) -– The Albay Provincial Development Council approved on Wednesday the 2014 Annual Investment Program of the province with a budget of P5.3 billion.

Headed by Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda, the APDC is composed of office heads of the province, city and municipal mayors and representatives from civil society organizations in the province.

Capital outlay eats up the bulk of the AIP budget which stands at P4.3 billion, with P830 million and P230 million going to maintenance and other operating expenses and personal services, respectively.

Of the 19 offices of the provincial government, the Provincial Planning and Development Office swallows up P3.6 billion, P3.5 billion which goes to capital outlay.

The Governor’s Office gets the second highest budget at P614 million, followed by the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Office with P497 million.

The Albay Millennium Development Goals Office has P140 million while the Provincial General Services Office is allotted P100 million.

Salceda said the P5.3-billion AIP budget is aimed at achieving the goal of the province – that is, “to become the most livable province in the Philippines known for good education, good healthcare and good environment where people are healthy, happy and employed and live full lives.“

He said this means three things: 1) Short-term goal of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which has already been done, 2) Medium-term goal of becoming a bastion of education and tourism hub, which is being done, and 3) Long-term goal of becoming a California in 30 years.

“For the third goal, we are on our way,” the governor claimed.

Education, he said, is the heart and soul of the province as it is the principal weapon in the fight against poverty, against climate change and for equality.

“We hope to have a college graduate in every family in Albay,” Salceda added.

The province, he said, will continuously expand the universal PhilHealth coverage and fulfill its annual obligation to PhilHealth despite the massive increases in premium rates.

It also targets the opening of a cancer diagnostic/treatment center in the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, upgrading of rural health units in Polangui, Guinobatan and Bacacay towns, modernization of the Pioduran Hospital to full secondary so it could service the needs of the health markets of Donsol and Claveria and the Albay West Coast, and the completion of the Polangui Water System with a total cost of P124 million.

The province, Salceda said, will further increase the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program which stood at 64,000 families as of March this year.

It will further enhance its fight against climate change and for the disaster risk reduction through flood control and mitigation projects and updating of barangay risk maps and contingency plans.

“We shall continue to provide training to other local government units and those coming from other countries,” Salceda said.

Through the Climate Change Academy, Albay has already trained representatives from eight countries and six regions, 24 provinces, 27 cities and 189 towns.

“We have chosen tourism, agriculture and small and medium enterprises as our principal industries to grow and create jobs, increase incomes and build competitive enterprises,” Salceda said.

In tourism, the target is one million foreign tourists by 2017 through the help of Albay’s partners – Masbate, Sorsogon and Catanduanes – under the ALMASORCA Tourism Alliance.

“The Southern Luzon International Airport remains the centerpiece ongoing development of the Aquino administration for the Bicol region,” the governor said, adding the province is providing the support facilities for the project.

Among the infrastructure projects the province has in the pipeline and as ongoing are the P4.2-billion Quicadale (Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga and Legazpi) Economic Township, P100-million Oas-Cagmanaba Upland Road, P800-million Albay West Coast Road, P2-billion Daraga-Oas-San Fernando Road (Bicol Bypass Highway or formerly PGMA Highway), and Bacon-Manito road linkage, among other ambitious long-term infrastructure projects. (PNA)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Malacañang declares Sept. 2 non-working holiday in Albay for Gen. Ola day

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 27 (PNA) – Malacañang has declared Sept. 2, this year a special non-working day in Albay to give way to the province’s commemoration of the 148th birth anniversary of the late Gen. Simeon A. Ola, a Bicolano hero during the Philippine-American War.

Born on September 2, 1865 in Guinobatan, Albay, to ordinary citizens Vicente Ola and Apolonia Arboleda, Gen. Ola was a hero of the Philippine Revolution and widely remembered by Bicolanos to be the last general to surrender to American forces during the Phil-Am War.

He was a student at the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City in 1896 when he decided to give up his studies to join the local unit of the anti-American revolutionary movement in Albay.

As a brave fighter, Ola was promoted to the rank of captain after figuring in a fierce battle against American soldiers in Camalig town in 1898 and again promoted to the rank of major after a daring ambush mission that led to the capture of three American military officers.

He was also the leader of the subsequent valiant attacks on enemy forces in the towns of Oas, Ligao and Jovellar.

Considered by the Americans as a valiant defender of Filipino freedom, Ola agreed to surrender in exchange for the amnesty granted by the American government to his men.

Ola was subsequently put on trial and was proven guilty of sedition and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In 1904, he was given a pardon and returned to his place of birth in Guinobatan where he was elected town mayor in 1910 and served the position until 1919.

He died of a lingering ailment on Feb. 14, 1952 and to keep him remembered for his heroism, the regional headquarters for Bicol of the Philippine National Police here has been named after him.

In issuing Proclamation No. 635 signed by Executive Sec. Paquito Ochoa last Aug. 22, Malacañang said the non-working special holiday during Ola Day is to give the people of Albay the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda will lead the celebration highlighted by the lying of wreaths on the Ola monument in Guinobatan and at the police regional camp on Sept. 2. (PNA) DSP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

CamSur archbishop joins call to abolish pork barrel system
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Aug. 27 (PNA) -- The Archbishop of Caceres here has joined the call to abolish the pork barrel system and has asked the faithful to initiate social reforms with their active participation in governance.

In his pastoral letter, Msgr. Rolando J. Tria Tirona asked his flock in the archdiocese to demand speedy and fair investigation of those who misuse public funds.

“The lawful conviction of those guilty will signal commitment of our government to truth and justice,” Tirona said.

He said that pork barrel is not merely an administrative or an accounting issue but a moral issue that can only be resolved with a fidelity to truth and justice.

Tirona tagged the pork barrel system as a cause of unending poverty, like the political dynasty, which makes the people “beg for what actually belongs to them.”

He said the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) is used for personal interest by some erring lawmakers.

Tirona said that only fragments of benefit from the PDAF reach the people, compared to the benefits reaped by the congressmen and senators while strengthening patronage politics.

“Truly, the pork barrel system is a way for politicians to appear clean when their intent and purpose are in fact corrupt,” he said.

He urged the faithful to also demand transparency and accountability from political leaders and push for the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill “as it will provide for the structure for public to have greater access to data on government spending.”

The Church leader also rallied the faithful to demand for projects that are truly responsive to the needs of the people.

“When people themselves identify the services and infrastructure, there is no room for ghost projects and vigilance will be enhanced,” Tirona added.

He cautioned not to partake of the ‘pork’ in any form that, he said, is being dangled by corrupt politicians and criticized President Aquino for his move to regulate the pork barrel system which “does nothing to patronage politics which hurt the poor the most.”

“The decision of the President to regulate the PDAF is meaningless for as long as the heart of the pork barrel continues to beat strongly in our political system. It is the same heart that gave life to political dynasties. The essence of pork barrel system and political dynasties is the concentration of power,” Tirona added

He pushed for the restoration of integrity of public office from the barangay level, starting with the selection of candidates in the barangay election of leaders who do not represent political patrons. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD/

Albay to host 1st Adolescent Congress 2013
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 27 (PNA) – The Province of Albay will host the 1st Adolescent Congress set on Sept. 19-20 with an estimated 300 young people, aged 14-18 years old, expected to participate from the different towns and cities of the province.

With the theme “Albayano Adolescents: Asserting, Advancing & Achieving,” the congress is aimed at assisting in the formation of a general framework on adolescent reproductive health in the province.

Such framework will be the basis for adolescent reproductive health services, research and education.

The highlight of the congress is the valuable and active participation of adolescents themselves – an opportunity to hear their voice and consequently raise their awareness in understanding themselves, gender development and condition.

Specifically, the intentions are to enable these adolescents to identify the elements of adolescent reproductive health; gender and development; discuss the current problems, issues and concerns of the Albayano adolescents in reproductive health; explain different interventions – implemented and proposed – to alleviate the problems, issues and concerns; and pinpoint areas of collaborations for future plans and actions along the lines of service provision, education and training, research, advocacy, policy development and networking.

This confab is supported by the Department of Health (DOH) Center for Health and Development in Bicol region in collaboration with the Albay AIDS Council, Health Action Information Network, Inc., and Albay Reproductive Health Inter-agency Committee.

The participants are expected to propose recommendations to the Provincial Government of Albay and DOH for conceptualizing a Provincial Adolescent Health Master Plan.

The conference was conceptualized in order to discuss the prevailing issues and concerns involving young people such as teen-age pregnancies, early marriages, HIV/AIDS, nutrition and their role in disaster risk reduction.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said it is important to examine the strengths or assets that adolescents have to help them accomplish the developmental tasks of adolescence successfully and help them stay healthy. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MDR/CBD

Albay’s preparations for hosting of APEC meet in full swing
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 27 (PNA) – Albay province’s preparations for its hosting of the forthcoming Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC) meetings are now in full swing.

The province will be hosting at least three of the 21 meetings -- the first, the Senior Official Meeting (SOM) slated on December 4-5 at the posh Misibis Bay Resort, a private tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach along the southern tip of Cagraray island in Bacacay, Albay, which is considered as the luxury island playground in the Philippines.

The SOM, the biggest among these series of meetings, is expected to be attended by 300 ranking officials, including ministers and their deputies, of the 21 APEC member-countries.

Representatives of world media are also expected to cover this event, Albay Governor Joey Salceda on Tuesday said.

The two other APEC meetings Albay will be hosting are part of the series are slated in May and November next year.

“We are making our preparations very extensively so that we comply with the requirements set by the APEC National Organizing Council (NOC) and also required by protocols of the visiting states. NOC manages and supervises all activities to be hosted by the country, including assessment of potential venues,” according to Salceda.

He said the national site selection and inspection panel will be visiting the province on Sept. 4-6 to assess and validate the qualifications and preparations of the province to host the three meetings.

“We want to ensure that Albay will not lose these three events since Boracay and Iloilo have also been designated as alternative venues. It doesn’t mean that we will surely host these three meetings since it will depend on our preparations to be evaluated during the inspection,” the governor said.

The preparations have been assigned by Salceda to the Albay Provincial Preparatory Logistical Committee which will be conducting on August 29 its own assessment and inspection of the hotels in the province including the Misibis Bay to ensure their preparedness for the visit of the national inspection team.

The inspection committee will be considering many factors in assessing potential venues -- including logistics, accommodations, infrastructure, and security, given that heads of state will be taking part in the summit.

“APEC hosting may pave the way to several benefits for the province, including the fast tracking of the construction of major infrastructure projects -- among them the Southern Luzon International Airport in Alobo, Daraga town,” Salceda said.

The APEC Summit will bring together to the country and Albay world leaders from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, US and Vietnam to discuss issues aimed at strengthening political and economic ties, he added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DENR provides LGUs with MRS to cut gov’t spending on medicines

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 27 (PNA) -– The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is addressing problems on municipal wastes to cut the rising cost that the government is shouldering in providing medicines for diseases brought about by garbage pollution.

The measure taken by the agency toward this end is the provision of Materials Recovery System (MRS) to local government units (LGUs), which was pioneered in Bicol with the recent award of the facility to Albay province, particularly to the municipality of Guinobatan.

The MRS facility is composed of garbage truck for the collection and transport of solid wastes and a garbage shredder for its processing into recoverable materials.

The award of the facility is covered by a memorandum of agreement signed in behalf of the DENR by Secretary Ramon Paje; for the province by Gov. Joey Salceda; and for Guinobatan town by Mayor Ann Ongjoco.

In a statement related to this project, Paje, citing a report from the Department of Health, said the government spends close to P50 billion every year for treatment of illnesses caused by garbage pollution, mostly upper respiratory problems.

MRS is an imperative solution to problems concerning municipal waste since establishing of sanitary landfills, which is the most proper way of garbage disposal, is expensive, according to Paje.

Material recovery facilities are a complete system of recovering wastes that can still be of use – from recyclable materials to kitchen waste that can be turned into compost.

Under the auspices of the DENR, the system is now being used in Guinobatan as part of the LGU’s compliance with the Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Salceda on Tuesday said.

The governor explained that there is indeed a need for compliance of every LGU with is Act and the DENR has this MRS project to help.

Guinobatan is a third class municipality with a population of 75,967 people based on the 2010 census.

Its meager resources have prevented the local government unit from fully complying with the ESWM law that provides penalties for non-compliance. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD

DENR readies establishment of ‘automated nursery’ in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 27 (PNA) -- Bicol has been chosen by the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources as among the five sites nationwide for the establishment of automated plant nurseries that would ensure quality but less expensive tree planting materials.

This modern plant nursery is to be established at the Bicol National Park -- particularly in Barangay Sooc, Lupi, Camarines Sur, Ricardo Calderon, the regional chief of the DENR’s Forest Management Bureau, on Tuesday here said.

Automated plant nursery is a system that enables control of ambient conditions for a single plant such as humidity and temperature.

The whole system is controlled with a micro-controller which provides a temperature sensor that triggers fans to cool the seed boxes or the 40W bulb to heat them.

It is also equipped with a humidity sensor that triggers the pump which sprinkles water inside the box.

It has predefined ambient profiles for different kinds of plants and an additional customizable user profile.

There is also a digital subsystem indicating the water level in the tank connected to the micro-controller, hence, the water level can be displayed in the main LCD.

The electronic power system that supplies the energy to the project was also designed to guarantee power efficiency.

This system could be scalable to a major greenhouse, Calderon explained.

Modern greenhouses, he said, allow automated control of temperature, ventilation and light and semi-automated watering and feeding.

Some also have fold-back roofs to allow "hardening-off" of plants without the need for manual transfer to outdoor beds.

The BNP automated plant nursery will be the first in Bicol.

In non-automated nurseries, Calderon said, it remains highly unlikely that all plants treated in the same way at the same time will arrive at the same condition together, notwithstanding the fact that plant care requires observation, judgment and manual dexterity while selection requires comparison and judgment.

DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said the automated nursery is part of the agency’s efforts to produce more tree planting materials in the region for the National Greening Program, Pres. Aquino’s flagship program for the restoration of the country’s forest ecosystem.

The program targets to plant 1.5 billion seedlings in 1.5 million hectares of public lands nationwide in six years, from 2011 to 2016--more than twice the government’s accomplishment for the past 25 years, which adds to about 730,000 hectares.

In Bicol, the DENR expects to cover for the NGP a total of 220,906 hectares by the end of this year and an additional of 27,149 hectares within 2014, Gonzales said. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

CSC confers eligibility on 100 village officials in CamNorte
By John Mark Escandor

DAET, Camarines Norte, Aug. 27 (PNA) – The Civil Service Commission (CSC) Bicol regional office has conferred the career service sub-professional eligibility on more than 100 barangay officials in Camarines Norte.

This eligibility will qualify these village executives for employment in the government service, Cecilia Nieto, CSC Bicol regional director, said on Tuesday.

The career service sub-professional eligibility is appropriate for positions that require the completion of two years studies in college like the positions of clerk, administrative assistant or service positions, Nieto explained.

She said the civil service eligibility on the account of being a barangay official is open to the punong (chief) barangay, members of barangay council, Sangguniang Kabataan president, and the appointed treasurer and secretary.

“It is given to these persons (barangay officials) as long as they have completed six years in public service and submitted required documents pursuant to the Civil Service Service’s issuance of directive,” the CSC official said.

Cecilia Balmaceda, CSC provincial director, meanwhile, said the barangay officials submitted the oath of office, certification from the Department of Interior and Local Government, certification of absence of administrative case, certification of non-relationship with the secretary, treasurer, and punong barangay, birth certificate from National Statistics Office and payment of processing and evaluation fee of P500.

Nieto said the CSC launched last July the civil service eligibility for the members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panlunsod and Sangguniang Panlalawigan, including the vice mayor and vice governor of the respective sanggunian or council.

She noted, however, that nobody yet in Bicol has submitted application for the civil service eligibility offered to sanggunian members.

Nieto said the civil service eligibility that sanggunian members are entitled to include career service sub-professional and career service professional eligibility.

Sanggunian members qualified to apply for career service sub-professional eligibility must have served their positions for six years while for the career service professional eligibility, nine years of public service are required.

Conferment of career service professional eligibility qualifies a sanggunian member to be appointed to professional, technical and scientific positions to division heads, accountant, administrative officer, medical specialist, etc.(PNA) FPV/FGS/JME/CBD

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Start of feasibility assessment of Manila-Legazpi railway project set
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 24 (PNA) -– The Canadian consultancy firm contracted by the government to prepare the feasibility study for the proposed Philippine National Railways Integrated Luzon Railway project is set to start with its works on the Bicol section of the project before the end of this month.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, who chairs the Regional Development Council, over the week said Edna Rodriguez-Gaon, the social development specialist of the Public-Private Partnership Center of the Philippines, will be in Bicol area between Aug. 27 and 30 to gather data required for the feasibility assessment of the project.

The PPP Center, through its director Feriosa Francisca Concordia, is seeking help from the RDC over this matter by way of allowing Gaon to have access to related information and data that the council has.

“We are very much willing to be of help,” Salceda said.

It is the PPP Center that engaged Canada’s CPCS Transcom Ltd. to provide consulting services for the railway project, which has been tagged among the “ambitious” PPP proposals of the government under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III.

This is a proposed $ 2.5-billion PPP project that is meant to further develop and upgrade Luzon’s railway system, whose largest operator is the state-run Philippine National Railways, Salceda said.

As learned from the PPP Center, he said, the feasibility -- study to cover the entire PNR’s north and south mainline networks of 700 kilometers -- is expected to be completed by December, this year.

This includes the mainline north from Manila to La Union, covering a distance of 217 kilometers, as well as a branch line from Tarlac to San Jose, Nueva Ecija, and a possible extension to Cagayan.

The mainline south refers to the branch line from Calamba City to Batangas City and the 483- kilometer Manila-Legazpi route, the center said.

The feasibility study for the proposed PNR Integrated Luzon Railway project is meant to rehabilitate and expand Luzon’s train system when proven to be feasible in reviving freight operations and in providing a convenient, affordable and environment-friendly alternative transportation for people and their goods, it added.

This will come even as the rehabilitation of the south rail track is currently on its finishing touches, making PNR confident that it can resume train trips between here and Manila soon.

A recent test run on the Naga-Legazpi route proved successful and PNR general-manager Junio Ragrario said in a recent statement that construction crews are fast tracking the works so that southbound trips ending here are resumed by next month.

Apart from the Legazpi-Manila operations, Ragrario said the PNR is considering the fielding of train trips between Naga and this city for the benefit of the burgeoning volume of local commuters being generated by the fast-growing trade, commerce and tourism relations between these two cities of Bicol.

“We are fielding two ordinary three-coach trains each with a seating capacity of 240 and well-ventilated seats designed for comfortable travel,” he said.

The recent test run, he said, established that a one-way train trip between Naga and Legazpi takes one and half hour, which is more than an hour faster than an ordinary bus plying the same route through the Maharlika Highway.

Besides, according to Ragrario, local ordinary train trips will charge only P 82 in fare for a complete trip, which is cheaper by about P 50 than bus fares.

“We are doing all these pursuant to the government’s commitment to the total rehabilitation of the railways and provision of safe, cheaper and convenient alternative to the riding public,” he stressed.

Rehabilitation of the PNR south facilities from Calamba, Laguna, to this city covering a distance of 483 kilometers, which was allotted an amount of P 35.15 billion, was started in 2005 and is scheduled for completion by 2011.

The project, however, suffered a major setback when super typhoons "Milenyo" and "Reming" successively battered Bicol in 2006, rendering crippling damages on the railways between Naga City and here.

Plans then to restore the Legazpi trips were shelved even as the Naga City-Manila trips were maintained intermittently.

In 2011, the Aquino administration pushed for the resumption of the rehabilitation of the damaged Bicol section of the railways, which eventually was completed up to Ligao City, Albay, a year after.

Manila-Ligao trips were restored in early December last year with Salceda expressing optimism that rehabilitation works for the railway line down to this city will be completed at once so that trains would be once more seen traversing its original route deep into the central point of Albay.

Train trips, famously called Bicol Express, have been an important component of the regional economy because of its contributions to trade, tourism and transportation, Salceda noted.

The governor said that with the imminent restoration of train trips to Legazpi, trade activities would greatly improve as products from Albay and manufacturers from Calabarzon and Manila will use the railways, thus, this will result in cheaper products, freight cost and fast travel time.

For tourism, Bicol Express also offers a different and distinctive perspective of the countryside to tourists, both domestic and foreign, as it gives unrestricted view of Mayon Volcano surrounded by the greenery of Bicol farmlands, he said.

“With Bicol Express, passengers have all travel options... rail, road or air options between Albay and Manila and the rest of Luzon,” Salceda added. (PNA) hbc/FGS/DOC/CBD/jsd

Bicol seen as prime beneficiary of DENR’s protected areas’ ecotourism rule
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 25 (PNA) -– The guidelines recently issued by the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources governing the conservation and use of protected areas with great potential for ecotourism development will primarily benefit Bicol, according to a regional official.

The guidelines issued by DENR Sec. Ramon Paje provide mechanisms toward the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in areas with ecotourism importance such as terrestrial, coastal or marine, caves and wetland ecosystems.

The DAO is very much suited to Bicol, a region seen as boundless in terms of natural wonders distributed among its six provinces -- Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon, Gilbert Gonzales, DENR regional executive director, said Sunday.

It is a peninsula famous for its mountains and volcanoes like Mts. Mayon, Malinao and Masaraga in Albay; Isarog and Asog in Camarines Sur; and Bulusan in Sorsogon.

Apart from the iconic Mt. Mayon, Albay also boasts of its underground spectacles in Hoyop-Hoyopan, Calabidongan, Lingaw, San Ramon, Rawis, Pighulugan and Mataas Caves as well as the towering marvel of Ligñon Hill and exciting waterfalls and beaches.

The province also takes pride in its “green tourism” wonders offered by the fruit bats sanctuary at the BacMan geothermal complex in Mt. Inang Maharang of Manito town where the Parong Hot Springs and Nag-Aso Boiling Lake are also located.

Bicol also prides itself with the whale shark sanctuary in Donsol and hot springs down Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon, majestic surfing sites in Catanduanes, the adventures in Caramoan, Camarines Sur, unexplored islands in Camarines Norte and the Manta Ray Bowl of Masbate.

The region has also other places, most of them undiscovered and undeveloped destinations, that tourists are looking for to discover.

Among these are the exciting islets of Matnog, Sorsogon, and the marine wildlife parks and unexplored ancient caves in Masbate.

These are apart from the 25 protected areas covering about 59,000 hectares of terrestrial, wetlands and marine or coastal ecosystems that the DENR’s regional office based here has identified.

Among them are the Caramoan National Park, Libmanan Caves, Basot and Quinalaang Islands, Tanglar Point, Mt. Isarog Natural Park, Malabungot Protected Landscape and Seascape and Lagonoy Natural Bionic Area -- all in Camarines Sur.

Others are Camarines Norte’s Dahican and Capalonga Water Forest Reserves, Bicol Natural Park, Bagasbas Beach, Abasig-Matogdon Mananap Natural Biotic Area and Calaguas Island, and Masbate’s Chico and Naro Islands Wildlife Sanctuaries, Guinauyan, Pobre, Majaba, Napayuan and Dampalit Islands, Manta Ray Bowl, Bugsayon and Bontod Marine Sanctuaries and Pawa Mangrove and Wildlife Park.

Also included in the region’s ecotourism protected areas are the Bulusan Volcano Natural Park, Dancalan Beach and Prieto Diaz Mangrove Park in Sorsogon; and the Catanduanes Water Forest Reserve covering seven municipalities of the island province.

Bicol also has eight caves that the DENR has classified for protection, conservation and management, with six of them -- one located in Catanduanes and another one in Masbate -- categorized as generally safe for inexperienced visitors and have no known threatened species and archeological, geological, natural history, cultural and historical values.

The two others—Mataas and Calabidongan Caves, both in Albay -- are classified to be with areas or portions which have hazardous conditions and contain sensitive geological, archeological, cultural, historical and biological values or high quality ecosystem.

The DENR ecotourism guidelines on areas like these, according to Gonzales, institutionalizes the entire process of development, applies its concepts and principles and ensures equal participation and benefits among the community members and other stakeholders.

Protected areas, now numbering to 240 nationwide, are defined as “portions of land and water set aside for their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biodiversity and protected against destructive human exploitation” as defined under Republic Act 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.

“Ecotourism activities properly planned and managed will promote and guarantee the conservation and sustainable use of all biodiversity found within while providing business opportunities for the local community; involve women, children, indigenous peoples and the informal sector in all undertakings; and promote responsible tourism,” Gonzales said.

The guidelines came in the wake of an agreement under the Biodiversity Partnership Project recently hatched between the Depts. of Tourism and DENR to provide supreme protection to the region’s ecotourism marvels.

Since Bicol owes the impressive growth that the local tourism industry has been achieving in the past three years to its ecotourism sensations, the region itself will be the biggest beneficiary of these developments because of biodiversity conservation through sustainable tourism activities that are provided, Gonzales added.

Albay alone last year posted as much as 49-percent tourism industry growth for receiving a total of 523,832 foreign and domestic tourists, leapfrogging from its 350,629 arrivals in 2011, DOT records show.

The agreement forms part of the implementation of a project entitled “Partnerships for Biodiversity Conservation: Mainstreaming in Local Agricultural Landscapes” or simply BPP launched in December last year.

The project involves training local government units in pilot sites, mostly threatened by unsustainable agricultural production and incompatible land use, on planning and managing economic activities without affecting remaining natural habitats.

Under the MOA, the DOT is tasked to provide technical assistance to local communities in establishing sustainable tourism enterprises and activities under a Sustainable Tourism-Biodiversity Conservation Framework and Implementation Plan, and to facilitate its adoption.

Meanwhile, the DENR, along with the Department of Trade and Industry and other partners in the program, will assess the feasibility of potential tourism projects in the BPP areas.

The BPP is a $ 17-million project funded by the Global Environment Fund through the United Nations Development Program, and implemented by the DENR through its Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

Total grant proceeds from the GEF and UNDP are pegged at $ 4.8 million, while $ 12.2 million will be the counterpart from the Philippine Government and its partners, who come from LGUs and conservation organizations in the pilot sites. (PNA)

E-business offers profitable opportunities
By Danny Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) -– In this New Wave City, creating start-ups in electronic business (e-business), which now offers bigger profitable opportunities for information technology (IT) communicators, is easy, industry leaders say.

Janette Toral, a multi-awarded e-commerce and e-learning specialist, said many Legazpeños have been into online business and freelancing but they are less aware of the bigger opportunity in e-business.

They are encouraged to take advantage of the standing of Legazpi as among the 10 New Wave Cities of the country.

It scored high in the cost of doing business and availability of needed physical IT infrastructures to support the outsourcing industry, Toral said.

She explained that e-business, derived from such terms as "e-mail" and "e-commerce," is the conduct of business on the Internet --not only buying and selling but also servicing customers and collaborating with business partners.

Toral said major corporations today are using the web to buy parts and supplies from other companies to collaborate on sales promotions and to do joint research, among others.

With many companies exploiting the convenience, availability and world-wide reach of the internet, they have already discovered how to use it successfully, she noted.

Karlo Alamares, president of Equinox Virtual Solutions, believes that Bicolanos can make a big difference in e-business.

He also enjoined participants of the recent information and communications technology (ICT) innovation forum to submit their start-up initiatives at his office in Daraga that will find all means for their funding.

For his part, Ronald Cirujano, country manager of Elance Philippines, also underscored the home-based opportunities for ICT talents.

“Philippines remains one of the biggest markets for freelancers, with businesses all over the world now hiring talented Filipino freelancers. Bicolanos should take advantage of this,” he said.

Businesses based in the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and other European countries top the list of countries that trust the skills of Philippine freelancers.

Most of these hired freelancers are found to render services in administrative support, design and multimedia categories, Cirujano added.(PNA) LDV/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

Salceda to host foreign travel exchange buyers during Bicol tours

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) --Albay Governor Joey Salceda will play host to foreign participants in the Philippine Travel Exchange 2013 when they come to this city next week as part of their tour of key Philippine tourist attractions and destinations.

Maria Ong-Ravanilla, Department of Tourism (DOT) Bicol regional director, on Monday said the governor will lead the welcoming party as the visitors arrive on Aug. 31 for their pre-tours that will last until Sept. 4.

During their four-day stay here dubbed as “Bicol Express Run,” the delegations -- composed of 25 foreign buyers of tourism products, will visit tourist destinations in this city like the historic Ligñon Hill View Deck, Legazpi Boulevard and Mayon Volcano Lava Hills, among others, according to Ravanilla.

“Legazpi City has become a destination of choice for both business and leisure travelers who come and stay to explore Bicol attractions and experience first-hand local products and warm hospitality,” Ravanilla said.

The guests will also visit the Misibis Bay, a private tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach along the southern tip of Cagraray island in Bacacay, Albay, which is considered as the luxury island playground in the Philippines.

Other places to be visited are Matnog and Bulusan, which is home to Bulusan Volcano and Bulusan Lake -- both in Sorsogon province.

Ravanilla said Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) 2013, the 12th organized by the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) in cooperation with the Philippine Tourism Board, is themed “Unending Possibilities of Fun in the Philippines” in line with the DOT’s branding campaign.(PNA) PDS/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

Salceda to share Albay’s CCA-DRR successes during PHL-hosted global confab

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) -- Wearing the title United Nations Global Champion for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda will once again enlighten the whole world on the deliverance of his province from helplessness against calamity to resilience and invulnerability.

Salceda will do this during the global conference on public innovations in Manila on Oct. 3-4 which the Galing Pook Foundation and Global Public Innovations Network have jointly organized.

The meeting aims to showcase cutting edge public service solutions from different countries in various areas affecting economic development and poverty alleviation.

Topics to be tackled in the two-day gathering include climate change, disaster response and environmental protection, transparency and accountability, information technology and e-governance, service delivery and conflict management.

In a recent letter of invitation to Salceda, Eddie Dorotan, the GPF and GPIN executive director, said around 600 people which include local government chief executives, representatives from national agencies, donors, academe, non-government organizations and other advocates of good governance from all over the world will be attending the conference.

Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III will deliver the keynote address in the gathering dubbed as “Cutting Edge: Global Public Innovations Conference” and to be held at the Crown Plaza Manila Galleria in Quezon City, Dorotan said.

Salceda on Monday said he will deliver a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation on Albay’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Program during the Panel 2 Session on Climate Change, DRRM and Environmental Protection that will take place on the first day of the conference.

Dorotan said Albay is a model for disaster mitigation and preparedness, especially because while the Bicol Region is disaster-prone and vulnerable to several natural hazards, the province, under the leadership of Salceda as governor, has become disaster-resilient.

Albay has been recognized for its focus on preparing comprehensive land use plans that address climate and disaster risks, and for investing in disaster-resilient infrastructure, Dorotan added.(PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/NOD

Hundreds of marchers brave rains to join anti-pork barrel rally in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) --Hundreds of students, farmers, transport group representatives and militant group members braved the intermittent rains on Monday morning and held a march rally calling for the abolition of the corrupt-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers at the Peñaranda Park here.

Despite the rains, the protesters marched along the three-kilometer stretch of the J. P. Rizal St. from Peñaranda Park in Old Albay District to the Pinaglabanan Park at the Legazpi Port District -- bearing streamers with anti-pork barrel slogans, according to Vince Casilihan, Karapatan Albay spokesperson.

A short rally was held at 10:30 a.m. at the Pinaglabanan monument where protesters called for the abolition of the PDAF and urged the Aquino administration to transfer the fund to a more productive use that would improve the delivery of social, health, education and economic services.

They also sought for an independent body to investigate the people behind the pork barrel scam and prosecute and convict those found guilty.

Casilihan said in a phone interview that about 300 joined the march dubbed as "Lakaw Kontra Pork Barrel."(PNA) PDS/FGS/MSA/CBD/NOD

NGCP puts on line new rules to improve power transmission services
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) -- The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has implemented new technical standard operating procedures to improve its power transmission services to the public, a top company official said.

Nelson Bautista, public information officer, said in a phone interview Monday that the move is to continuously improve the NGCP’s daily operations.

“The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines recently revised some of its technical standard operating procedures (SOPs), especially those pertaining to the inspection of lines and substation equipment,” Bautista said.

In Bicol, at least two geothermal fields are supplying energy in National Capital Region through the NGCP.

"While most of the SOPs inherited from the former grid operator, the government-owned National Power Corp., were already enhanced by concessionaire NGCP since it took over in 2009, the privately owned corporation is bent on finding more ways to better enhance the delivery of high-voltage electricity to its power consumers," he added.

The revisions cover the SOPs on inspection of critical substation equipment such as power transformer and shunt reactor.

The NGCP created a new inspection checklist to ensure that all parts of the substation equipment function at optimal conditions.

Venusto D. Hamoy, NGCP’s deputy assistant chief technical officer for operations and maintenance, said the NGCP operates almost 20,000 circuit-kilometers of transmission lines and more than 27,000 megavolt amperes of substation capacity across the country.

“It’s a huge responsibility that the NGCP takes very seriously,” Hamoy said.

The NGCP has also improved its line patrolling and vegetation management on lands along its right of way.

Line patrolling, which includes activities like tower-to-tower inspection and aerial patrol, was made more stringent to thoroughly assess the status of transmission lines.

For aerial line inspection, the NGCP procured gimbal cameras to be installed in helicopters.

The cameras are expected to arrive before the end of the year.

“We are working on the more detailed reporting of transmission line and substation inspections as a proactive measure to avoid line tripping that may disrupt services to our customers,” Hamoy added.

Aside from the new procedures, the NGCP also conducted a series of training seminars for its engineers.

Before the first half of 2013 ended, all substation engineers were given a refresher on substation operations and protocols while a more advanced substation course is scheduled to be conducted by the third quarter of this year.

The NGCP also purchased more than a hundred line trucks and new personal protective equipment for its line personnel to be distributed to all its field offices.

“All these changes and purchases are expected to uplift the level of our day-to-day operations and to develop the skills of our personnel. We acknowledge that these seemingly small changes have a big impact on power delivery to the whole country,” explained Hamoy.

The NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining and developing the country’s power grid.

It transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines, towers, substations and related assets.

The NGCP’s regular maintenance activities and assistance to other members of the power industry aim to enhance the reliability and quality of electricity delivered to customers. (PNA) FFC/FGS/RBB/CBD/NOD

Friday, August 23, 2013

500 swimmers to join 1st National Swimming Championship Contest for Unity in Albay
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 23 (PNA) -– About 500 swimmers from the Bicol region and other parts of the country are joining the Ist Ibalong National Age Group Swimming Championship Competition to be held at the 50-meter pool of the Albay Sports Complex in Travesia, Guinobatan, Albay, Aug. 24.

Former Olympian Coach Susan Papa, national president of the Philippine Swimming League, and lawyer Maria Teresa Mahiwo, regional director of the PSL Bicol Chapter, are supervising the competition.

The swimmers will come from the cities of Manila, Pasay, Quezon, Cavite and Lucena and the provinces of Aklan and Laguna.

Bicol delegates will come from the cities of Iriga and Legazpi and the towns of Guinobatan, Malinao at Daraga – all in Albay.

Papa said most of the swimmers joining the competition have already joined national and international swimming contests.

She said this competition will serve as a selection process for the National Championship Competition in Metro Manila and future international competitions in Dubai and Bangkok in December this year.

Papa stressed that sports, like swimming, is a unifying factor among community members, especially among the youth as future leaders of the country.

The event is dubbed as “El Presidente” as this will serve as a gift to her on her birthday tomorrow by her colleagues in the PSL, she said.

The competition will feature the Unity Team for a Cause with its theme, “Langoy para sa kalusugan, kaligtasan at kapayapaan (Swim for health, safety and peace).”

About 100 non-competing swimmers from national government 15 agencies and the private sector in Bicol are also joining the swimming activity before the competition proper.

They are composed of doctors, lawyers, peace and safety officers, coaches, parents, teachers and students, Papa said.

The activity aims to emphasize healthy lifestyle, discipline, life-saving skills for personal safety and improve general well-being of the community.

Papa said the criteria to qualify in national at international swimming competitions is being an outstanding swimmer and speed in swimming.

For instance, for the age group 15-17 years old the required speed is 26 seconds for free style event with a distance of 50 meters, based on American quadruple international standard.

It also said that sports officials can choose 20-100 swimmers to compete for national and international events.

Meanwhile, Papa said, the Philippine Team emerged as champion in the International Swimming Competition held in Singapore this August.

The Team Pilipinas garnered 122 medals -- 50 gold, 40 silver and 32 bronze.

The team is composed of 52 swimmers, five of whom are Bicolanos.

One who earned one gold, one silver at one bronze medals is an Albayana in the person of Arianne Alcantara, 17 years old and former student of the Bicol University.

Alcantara is now studying at the De Salle University as a scholar of the league.

Papa said the PSL has 200 scholars in the entire country.

The PSL national president said Albay was chosen to host this year’s competition, owing to its “very nice people, beautiful tourist destinations like the majestic Mayon Volcano, and clean and scenic nature.”

Mahiwo, on the other hand, said among those expected to come for the event is former senator Nikki Coseteng.

She said the activity was made possible by the assistance of Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, Guinobatan Mayor Gemma Ongjoco, Ibalong Magayon Aqua Gliders, PSL and others.

The competition is part of the activities of the Ibalong Festival 2013 here in Legazpi City and is free free of charge, Mahiwo said.(PNA) HBC/FGS/NIM/CBD

NPA men set on fire 4 dump trucks, 1 cement mixer in Albay town

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 23 (PNA) -– Eight New People's Army (NPA) rebels set on fire four dump trucks and a cement mixer at a road construction site in an upland village of Pio Duran town in Albay at about 2:40 p.m. Thursday, a police official said Friday.

Sr. Inspector Larry Prepotente, Pio Duran police chief, said the NPA dissidents swooped down on an ongoing government road construction project in Barangay Salvacion, an upland village some 15 kilometers from Pio Duran town proper.

Prepotente said the village is a hotbed of communist guerrillas operating in Pio Duran town, which is 66 kilometers away from this city.

The NPA attack surprised some 53 construction workers who were unloading construction materials from the trucks while some workers were operating a cement mixer, the police official said in a phone interview.

He said the rebels gathered all the workers in one place and asked them to turn off their cell phones, then later set on fire the trucks and the cement mixer with a total worth of P1.2 million.

Propetente said the trucks and cement mixer were owned by Geronimo David, a project contractor.

Albay Rep. Fernando Gonzales (LP, 3rd District) said in a phone interview that the upland road cementing project is a P3-million farm-to-market road being implemented jointly by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Albay.

Gonzales said the farm-to-market road project was implemented on his request but not included in his Priority Development Assistance Fund.

The project will benefit hundreds of farmers living in Barangay Salvacion and neighboring upland villages of Pio Duran, he said. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD

Anti-smoking advocacy group promotes health, environment among boy scouts
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 23 (PNA) -– To promote health and environment consciousness among boy scouts, the Smoke-Free Albay Network and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Mayon-Albay Council Thursday held a contest among them.

This involved making a no-smoking signage using the combined arts of mural painting and poster and slogan making.

Some 17 contingents joined the activity dubbed as “Innovative and Effective No-Smoking Signage” and finished their entries in just two hours.

Winners will be announced and be given awards on Sunday, according to Albay Board Member Herbert S. Borja, SFAN chair.

The activity is part of the five-day International Boy Scouts Jamboree being held at the Kawa-Kawa Natural Park, California Village, Barangay Tuburan, Ligao City, which started Wednesday afternoon.

Around 7,000 boy scouts from all over the country and some Asean nations are participating in the jamboree.

Participants from the flood-affected areas in the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, Central Luzon and other typhoon-hit areas did not make it to the activity.

Borja said the contest was open to all Boy Scout contingents and each participating contingent was required to submit only one entry.

Each no-smoking signage must illustrate, interpret and emphasize effective smoke-free advocacy among scouts and youth and may include a graphic showing the ill effects of smoking with a slogan or timely message, he said.

Borja said each participant was allowed to use any indigenous, recyclable materials available within the campsite.

Plywood (2 feet x 4 ft., ¼ thick), rope (abaca or native material), hammer, nails and three-colored acrylic paint (white, red and black) with brush were provided by the jamboree organizers.

Signages will be judged according to the following criteria: creativity and presentation, 40 percent; originality, 30 percent; and smoke-free message, 30 percent.

The board of judges will declare the first, second, third and consolation prize winners who will receive prizes from Congressman Fernando V. Gonzales (LP, Third District, Albay).

The no-smoking signages produced by the scouts will be turned over to their respective local government units or mayors at a simple ceremony to be coordinated by the BSP, Department of Education and SFAN as the boy scouts’ counterpart to the promotion of environment and health of the youth in their locality.(PNA) HBC/FGS/CBD/

3,000 online petitioners hit destruction of Golden Rice trial farm

NAGA CITY, Aug. 22 (PNA) --Some 3,000 netizens have so far signed an online petition condemning the destruction of the Golden Rice trial farm in Pili, Camarines Sur.

Initiated by Indian scientist Channa Prakash, the petition, titled “Global scientific community condemns destruction of field trials of Golden Rice in the Philippines,” is making the round in the Internet through

It is a reaction to the Aug. 8 destruction of the Golden Rice trial farm inside the Department of Agriculture compound which militant groups claimed as a “political statement” against multinational corporations controlling the agriculture industry in the country.

“We, the undersigned members of the global scientific community, condemn the recent destruction of a Philippine Department of Agriculture’s Golden Rice trial plot in Pili, Camarines Sur, organized by the Peasant Movement of the Philippines and SIKWAL-GMO. We equally condemn the use of rumors and misinformation to raise unwarranted fears in vulnerable sectors of the population and to incite anyone to acts of destruction,” the petition said.

Being conducted by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the trial farm is part of the humanitarian work to reduce Vitamin A deficiency in more than 15 percent of children, six months to five years old and 10 percent of pregnant women in the Philippines, according to the petition.

It claimed that genetically modified (GM) crops are a critical resource in accelerating increases in crop productivity in general, as well as in enhancing their nutritional value to treat malnutrition and nutrient deficiency.

The petition further claimed that GM crops have provided large benefits to consumers, farmers and the environment as against the claim of militant groups that they pose danger to health and environment without a definitive study about its benefits.

“Not a single one of the many claims of negative health or environmental effects uniquely made against GM crops has withstood scientific scrutiny,” it said.

According to the petition, regulatory systems around the world mandate the thorough testing of new GM crops to ensure that there are no unintended harmful effects either from their cultivation or their consumption.

“New technologies often evoke fears that they are dangerous. Destroying a new technology based on such fears without testing its safety and efficacy can deprive humanity of a very valuable and much-needed advance,” it clarified.

In this case, it added, many more millions will needlessly suffer blindness and death because Golden Rice was not available to them.

“No group, regardless of its intentions, has the right to condemn a technology without evidence. It is an unconscionable criminal act to destroy a field trial conducted in accordance to international safety norms,” the petition claimed.(PNA) PDS/FGS/JME/CBD

Salceda: GDP opportunity losses due to climate change huge but recoverable

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 22 (PNA) -- The country's economic growth would be severely affected by a slump in the gross domestic product (GDP) due to climate change, Albay Governor Joey Salceda said.

He, however, expressed optimism that the economic situation can be recovered by initiating aggressive economic growth boosters.

"We must reckon the economic consequences of three straight days of climate change impacts. Offhand, the paralysis of the whole country for three days, the international flight cancellations and consequent tourist arrival losses are most apparent," Salceda, a noted economist, added.

These, he stressed, are aside from casualties and damages to property and agriculture.

Salceda, a former presidential economic adviser, citing an economic trend, said the total nominal output of the Philippines each day is P40 billion.

“Assuming a 90-percent recovery, that means economic opportunity losses of P12 billion,” he explained.

The green economist, however, claimed that the bigger cost is the rising productivity losses.

The Philippines has 37 million members of the working labor force and 26 million students, Salceda noted.

So, this would translate to lost "earning" days due unscheduled work stoppage for 37 million labor force members and lost "learning" days for 26 million students who missed their classes due to the cancellation of classes, he said.

“Econometrically, this is not totally lost as we can work on improving recovery rates on lost output and lost opportunities -- that means make-up classes and additional work shifts, increased inventory investment or increased use of labor-offsetting inputs like machines,” he clarified. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD/

Salceda stresses education before delegates to world research meet on K+12 curriculum
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 22 (PNA) – Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said he always believes in good education as a stepping stone for self-development and for the achievement of a better society and the advancement of civilization.

“A 10-year basic education is not enough for a student to be fully equipped to enter into college,” Salceda said in a message read for him by Vice Governor Harold Imperial during the first International Research Conference on K-12 Curriculum for 21st Century Learning: A Global Perspective, now ongoing at the Oriental Hotel here.

The Albay governor, DepEd Undersecretary Dina Ocampo and DepEd Assistant Secretary Lorna Dino were the conference guests but were not able to make it from Manila due to the cancellation of plane flights as a result of the southwest monsoon that hit Metro Manila.

At least 1,000 researchers and educators from all over the country and international observers from the United Kingdom and Canada are attending the meeting.

Orfelina Tuy, Department of Education of Bicol regional director, said the DepEd Bicol and the DepEd Region IV-A offices are the hosts of the activity with the assistance of the Bicol Association of Schools Superintendents, which has 27 members.

Tuy said the conference aims to formulate a critical mass on research and emphasizes that all department decisions and policies should be based on thorough research.

Salceda took pride in being a product of parents who used to be educators.

“With the full support of my parents -- and with my own initiative, perseverance, determination, and love for the country -- I became what I am now,” the well-known economist stressed.

Salceda added, “Not many of our students today are as fortunate as I was to have availed of the kind of education that I had. That is why, now that I am in the right position as governor of the province, I exert all legal influences possible to see to it that the lion’s share of the provincial budget is invested in education – 36 percent of our budget goes to education.”

The next highest budgeted item, he said, is health – 24 percent.

“Thus more than half of our budget goes to our dream of creating a society full of educated and healthy citizenry,” the Albay chief executive said, adding, “but as they say, money is not all. We need methods and systems. Thus, your coming to our province today to review, on a global perspective, the K-12 curriculum and to make it updated to today’s learning systems is a very welcome event.”

He said the event’s benefits would accrue to the benefit of the students and tutors.

“I congratulate you for your concern and dedication for the betterment of our youth. Rest assured of our government’s support for your endeavor during your short stay in Albay,” Salceda said.

The three-day international conference has been divided into eight group sessions for 285 research papers.

Each group will tackle each research work in 30 minutes, Tuy said.

She said she will submit the outputs of the conference to the DepEd national office to serve as a basis for the decision and actions of the policy-making body on the implementation of the K-12 curriculum.

The DepEd official said the present international conference is a sequel to the National Research Forum held in Naga City last year.(PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/

Thursday, August 22, 2013

‘Ibalong the Musical’ fills Albay air on Aug. 21-22

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 20 (PNA) -- As part of this city’s month-long Ibalong Festival, the Tanghalang Pilipino, the theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), will present on Wednesday the first of a two-day presentation of “Ibalong the Musical” production.

Ibalong the Musical was a hit during its presentation at the CCP’s Tanghalang Aurelio V. Tolentino hall last Feb. 8 to Mar. 3.

The city officials of Legazpi, led by Mayor Noel Rosal, decided to share with not only the Legazpenos but also interested Bicolanos the experience of experiencing the epic musical that relates to their ancient place.

In the stage musical, the Tanghalang Pilipino introduces a new musical score that combines a neo-ethnic and a rock-type musical production that portrays the Bicol’s Ibalong Epic in a musical format, said Tuxqs Rutaquio, music director of Ibalong the Musical.

Rutaquio, a graduate and Master’s degree holder in Theater Arts at the University of the Philippine (UP) and an officer of the Tanghalang Pilipino, said the musical presentation will feature at least 20 songs composed by Carol Bello, a known song writer.

The Ibalong musical play was written by Rody Vera, a known playwright, who made a research and wrote the script based on the 40-stanza Ibalong epic written by the late Prof. Merito Espinas of the Bicol University.

In a press conference here on Tuesday, Rutaquio said the two-hour musical presentation will introduce a musical arrangement by the Ingkantada, a Filipino fusion band that will play indigenous-inspired rhythms fused with rock.

At the musical production the band will use different musical instruments such as chants, kali drum, gong, tungatong, bamboo percussions, violin, djembe, chimes, t’boli bells, balimbing, kubing, rainstick, shakers, guitars and other organic sound effects.

Rutaquio said the presentation will bring a unique musical score that combines a neo-ethnic and rock aimed to satisfy the musical taste of both young and old.

Aside from the musical production, Ibalong the Musical will also offer the audience value-added attractions by its ethnic costumes, dance and stunt choreography, sound and lighting design and stage props.

The musical production is composed of 23 characters led by Oryol, played by Jenine Desiderio, a known singer-actress who played the role of “Kim” in the original cast of ”Miss Saigon.”

Other Ibalong Epic characters are Gugurang, Handyong, Opon, Buringkantada, Onglo, Anino, Sarimao, Kikik, Angongolood, Aswang, Rabot, Koro, Baltog, Bantong, Buring, Tambaluslos, Kalabaw, Bongo and Popo.

The musical play will be presented at matinee and gala shows at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation at Barangay Bitano here on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rosal said the musical production is a joint sponsorship between the city government and the CCP Tanghalang Pilipino where some P5 million was spent during the first presentation at the CCP’s Tanghalang Aurelio V. Tolentino hall on Feb. 8-Mar. 3.

Rosal said the joint venture was a success since the city government shelled out only a million and the rest came from the sponsors and ticket sales.

According to the organizers, he said, all tickets were sold out.

Rosal said that he looks forward to having the second run of the musical play as another successful hit as indicated by the tickets sales reported by various outlets.

Rutaquio said Ilocos Sur Gov. Imee Marcos has expressed interest in bringing Ibalong the Musical to her province in February next year.(PNA) dsp/FGS/MSA/cbd/

Albay rural development caravan brings joy to ‘longganiza’ town
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

GUINOBATAN, Albay, Aug. 20 (PNA) – The Team Albay Countryside Development Caravan rolled off on Tuesday for its second leg of multi-faceted services to rural folk.

The target was the Municipality of Guinobatan, which has been famous for its delicious longganiza.

Led by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, the caravan was joined by local officials of Guinobatan town headed by Mayor Gemma Ongjoco, regional directors of national government agencies, non-government organization and civic organization officials, and team Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The activities included civic assistance program, feeding program, local sports, consultation dialogue, medical and dental services, animal health services, tree planting and growing, distribution of vegetable seeds, eye and ear check-up, distribution of eye glasses, skills demonstration and livelihood training and barangay security system.

The activities were held in Barangay Sinungtan and also covered the villages of Sinungtan, Malipo, Bololo, Palanas at Batbat.

The first leg of the caeavan was held in Barangay Alobo in Daraga town for its clustered barangays.

Raffy Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense Bicol regional director, said the caravan is a local initiative of the provincial government of Albay under its “Pledge of An Albayano” program aimed to make the province the most livable province in the country.

The pledge stresses: that an Albayano is born beautiful under the shadow of Mayon Volcano, respectful, joyful, industrious and strong even during bad weather or calamities; that an Albayano aims to maintain peace and order, works for inclusive growth for all, uses knowledge for the benefit of the needy, protects the environment, develops oneself and native culture, and most of all, loves God and respects the government, elders and fellowmen; and, that an Albayano -- in thoughts, words and deeds – works towards the economic development and growth of Albay and helps bring the government closer to the people.

Alejandro said the convergence effort will continue up to December this year and aims to reach a total of 44 barangays.

The caravan offers social, health, economic, agricultural and veterinary services; disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation training; peace and order maintenance training and many others.(PNA) dsp/FGS/NIM/cbd/

Changes link family to life Jesse Robredo lived
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- A year after the late Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo met his untimely death in a plane crash off the coast of Masbate City, the family he left behind experienced changes in life that have incidentally connected them to the life Jesse lived.

In a period of 21 years -- 19 years as Naga City mayor and two years as DILG secretary -- that Jesse was in public service as a high-profile government official, widow Leni and her three daughters had been ensconced in privacy until the crash that killed him and two others on Aug. 18 last year.

Leni traced the changes in their lives the moment Jesse’s plane was reported to have crashed in the waters off Masbate and missing for almost three days, which thrust them into the limelight for several weeks up to the state funeral and beyond.

She described these changes as a “360 degrees” turn for her daughters -- Aika, Tricia and Jillian -- and herself.

From a very private person silently doing work in a non-government organization that served the marginalized farmers, women and children, Leni captured the attention of the whole nation when her husband died.

Later, she became a successful crusader who faced off with and defeated a well-entrenched political dynasty in Camarines Sur, which changed the political landscape and balance of power in the biggest province in Bicol.

Not necessarily filling in the shoes of her husband, Leni embraced the life of a neophyte politician guided by her vision to pursue and continue Jesse's legacy of transparency and good governance, from a loving wife and a mother who safeguards the privacy of their family.

Her daughters, too, have taken a new life, engaging themselves in the things they once shunned to maintain a low-key status far from the eyes of the public.

“Aika, for a very long time, was working in a private corporation. Her Papa had been encouraging her to try the government service but she did not like it. But all of a sudden, when her Papa died, she changed her mind and entered the government service,” Leni revealed.

Aika, she said, is now an executive assistant to the secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

“We were surprised when Tricia told us she auditioned as courtside reporter of the UAAP and she made it. I was amazed because among my three children she was the reserved one,” she said.

Leni recalled Tricia, the middle child, had no interest in basketball but she apparently confronted her fears as a way of coping as she felt the connection in the game because Jesse was a basketball enthusiast.

For Jillian, the youngest among her three daughters, the widow said she was happy she has fully recovered despite losing her father at a young age and now she is doing well at the Philippine Science High School in Manila.

Jesse took a chartered plane, even as he was already booked in a commercial flight to Manila, because he wanted to catch Jillian’s swimming competition at the Naga City Science High School when the plane crash happened.

I see that all of my daughters sought connection to their papa. The things that they previously did not want to do they do now. All of us actually,” Leni enthused.

She said that after a year, the situation is getting normal and she is experiencing to be more emotional now and cry easily -- remembering and missing her husband.

Leni believes that her being emotional now than when she was summoning her strength to face the tragic fate of her husband and for her grieving family is a necessary part of healing.

“There were many things that I don’t want to face before because I was not sure if I am ready to face them, but now I am confronting them. My grief has been suspended because I was overwhelmed by the public response to his death and the role I had to take,” she said.

Leni said she finally met the family of Capt. Jessup Bahinting even as, she said, she had so much anxiety while on her way to Cebu City.

“Meeting the widow of Capt. Bahinting has helped in the healing process. Even though we don’t know each other we have a special connection because both our husbands died at the same time and incident,” she narrated.

She was happy to take time to go to Cebu City because Bahinting’s widow told her that her visit has helped the healing process of the captain’s family.

Apparently, Bahinting’s widow had been planning to meet her but it would not materialize.(PNA) FPV/FGS/JME/cbd/

OCD-Bicol raises gale warning to fishers, small sea craft owners
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 19 (PNA) – The Office of Civil Defense Bicol regional office has warned fishermen and owners of small sea craft against going out to the sea as it raised a gale warning over the waters of Bicol and the whole of Southern Luzon.

OCD Bicol Regional Director Raffy Alejandro said Typhoon “Maring” has strengthened the southeast winds, prompting them to raise the gale warning.

Alejandro said he asked the Philippine Coast Guard and village officials in coastal areas of the region to implement the necessary measures to prevent fishermen from going out to the sea as it is dangerous.

The OCD Bicol head cited the assistance being given by the provincial government of Albay to fishermen every time they cannot go out fishing due to bad weather.

Alejandro told local officials not to stop finding and adopting measures to mitigate the effects of calamities.

He stressed the need to focus on preventing instead of responding to calamities.

He urged local government units not only in Bicol but also in the entire country to think twice about this reality.

Alejandro noted that the province of Albay, who is already a Hall of Famer in the National Kalasag Awards, is still not complacent as it continuously looks for innovations in the field of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation not because of the award but because it wants to always achieve zero casualty.

He said the general direction of typhoons entering Bicol has not changed because it has been only three years that typhoons have not hit the region.

Based on the pattern observed by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geographical and Astronomical Services Administration, it is within a period of 10 years that strong typhoons, up to five of them, usually hit Bicol during the last quarter of the year while a total of 23 enter the Philippine area of responsibility.(PNA) FPV/FGS/NIM/cbd/

DTI-Bicol uses bottom-up budgeting in funding town projects
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 19 (PNA) – Using the bottom-up budgeting (BUB) scheme, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is providing funds that municipal governments in Bicol can use in priming up local industries and help small entrepreneurs become competitive.

BUB, also called participatory budgeting, is a somewhat modern approach to planning in the use of government’s financial resources that is different from the usual top-down budgeting where the high level executives make all the decisions in fund dispensations, DTI Regional Director Jocelyn Blanco based here on Monday explained.

This scheme provides the opportunity for prospective beneficiaries to be involved in setting their own goals and expectations for a given financial period.

It also gives them ownership of the decisions, motivating them to meet budgetary constraints that otherwise might seem unattainable or unrealistic if they were delivered by someone without as much understanding of their day-to-day operations.

Along with this increased participation, bottom-up budgeting also helps to create a more accurate picture of how much each fund beneficiary needs in order to function effectively and prevent failure that, in most cases, the top-down budgeting encounter.

And since the government’s BUB approach is guided by three principles-- convergence, participation and empowerment -- Blanco said DTI is joined by the regional office of the Department of Interior and Local Government here in implementing the projects by way of providing beneficiary local governments the necessary guidance.

Blanco said the municipalities of Matnog and Prieto Diaz of Sorsogon province were the initial recipients of funds provided by her office under this new approach.

Matnog, under Mayor Emilio Ubaldo, was recently given P1 million intended to improve the local food service and handicraft industries by providing small industry players skills and capability through a training program on entrepreneurship to make them competitive in the local or even national and international markets.

With its bustling roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) terminal, Matnog -- located at the southern tip of Bicol -- serves as the jumping board between the Luzon and the Visayas islands.

Food services that cater to the needs of thousands of passengers is a primary local industry.

Being a tourist haven -- owing to its preserved nature, immaculate white to pinkish powdery sand beaches being kissed by crystalline waters, uphill caves, fish and lobster farms, fish and marine turtle sanctuaries and amazing view of sunrise and sunset -- cottage industry is another earner for its natives engaged in shellcraft whose products are tourists-favorite take-home items.

Blanco said that with the P1-million fund received from the DTI, the municipal government will be able to finance skills enhancement, business improvement and product enhancement trainings toward competitiveness for the local industry players, mostly small and medium entrepreneurs.

In Prieto Diaz, she said, the P500,000 received by its mayor, Benito Doma, is allocated to programs focused on the development of its food processing industry using coconut and its by-products as well as marine products like “danggit.”

Boasting of its rich marine resources that include an over-300-hectare brackish water cove featuring a dense mangrove cover serving as habitat of mollusks and birds and sanctuary of fish and crustaceans, the 5th class municipality that lies along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean is another eco-tourism treasure.

The municipality is also famous for its fine-crafted shell handicrafts that need some innovative ideas and craftsmanship that the DTI will be introducing to be more competitive both in the local and world markets, Blanco said.

Her agency will also be assisting stakeholders in the two municipalities in enhancing their products to improve functionality, quality, design and visual impact, she said.

“These local government units were the ones who identified their industries into the new budgeting approach, programmed the allocations, recommended the needed interventions and decided on the manner of implementation, the way BUB works,” Blanco said.

Marketing support programs will also be provided by the DTI to complete the package of government interventions in those local industries, she added. (PNA) dsp/FGS/DOC/cbd/

ICT industry seen to bring 20,000 jobs in Naga City, CamSur in 3 years
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Aug. 20 (PNA) -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) forecasts some 20,000 additional jobs in Naga City and Camarines Sur in 2016 brought about by the information and communication technology (ICT) industry, an agency official said Tuesday.

Monchito B. Ibrahim, deputy executive director of the DOST-ICT Office, cited the available pool of talents in Naga City and Camarines Sur at present, availability of fiber optic connection, encouraging business environment and infrastructures as key elements to attract IT locators here.

Ibrahim said the target of 20,000 jobs in three years' time for the ICT industry in Naga City and Camarines Sur is part of the 1.3 million jobs the present administration wants to achieve at the end of 2016.

He said the target for Naga City and Camarines Sur is achievable, citing the case of Bacolod City that, he said, has attained 18,000 ICT jobs from nothing.

Ibrahim said the government started helping Bacolod City in 2004 with zero employment in the ICT industry and after eight years, the industry has been infusing some P270 million in salaries alone into the local economy every month.

He, however, raised concern over the problem of electric power supply in Bicol that, he said, must be addressed.

The DOST official said it is fortunate that the IT giant IBM has located in this city with the establishment of business processing center which will cater to high-end services like accountancy, engineering and medical services.

At present, a call center at the Provincial Capitol Complex in Pili, Camarines, employs more than 1,000 workers while the provincial government of Camarines Sur operates an animation studio that subcontracts animation projects from international production outfits.(PNA) dsp/FGS/JME/cbd/

BOC-Legazpi bids out 94,000 bags of smuggled rice from Vietnam

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 20 (PNA) -- The Bureau of Customs Legazpi Office has auctioned off 94,000 bags of smuggled rice from Vietnam for over P154.5 million, a BOC official said Tuesday.

Cris Paller, BOC Operation Officer 1 and auction committee chair, said the Dragon Grains Trading (DGT), owned by Jaime Ang of Cebu City, won the bidding by offering the highest bid of P154,566,800 over three other qualified bidders that participated in Friday’s auction.

In a phone interview, Paller said the winning price offered by the DGT for the auctioned 93,952 bags of imported rice from Vietnam was a little above the floor price pegged by the BOC at P150 million.

Other qualified bidders that participated were Pacific Rim Harvest, Inc., represented by Tyron Fung of Pasig City; Ride’s Enterprise owned by Felipe Donayre of Mandaue City, Cebu; and D’Platinum Trader Enterprise owned by Ding Ding Noreen of Mandaue City, Cebu.

Paller said the amounts of sealed bids offered range from P124 million to P154 million.

The DGT bid was higher by only P245.00 than Ride’s Enterprise, which offered P154,566,555, he said.

Earlier, the auction proceeding for the imported rice was temporarily suspended by BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon following complaints that the P135 million floor price set by BOC was too low, placing the government at the losing end.

The P154-million floor price set for the merchandize, Paller said, was based on the National Food Authority rice valuation.

He said the auction went smoothly although there was a declared failure of bidding on Thursday the first day of the bidding where the six qualified bidders failed to bid higher from the set floor price.

On Friday, the second day of bidding, however, only four participated and offered prices above the floor price.

All qualified bidders were required to post a 20-percent or P30 million security bond and for the winning bidder to pay in advance 50 percent (P75 million) of the floor price and another 50 percent upon receipt of the merchandize, Paller said.

He said the payment will be held in escrow, pending the resolution of a case filed by the BOC against the alleged consignees of the smuggled imported rice.

The issue on the smuggled rice from Vietnam surfaced when a cargo ship, Ming Tuan 68, docked at the Legazpi Port on Sept. 23 last year and attempted to unload 94,000 bags of rice consigned to the NFA in the absence of import documents.

For this reason, the BOC was forced to impound the rice merchandise and grounded the cargo ship.

The cargo was consigned to the NFA for the account of at least five private importation consignees – the Ugnayan Magbubukid ng San Isidro, Inc., Magumbali, Candaba, Pampanga, with 21,000 bags; Karapatan Takusa Multi-Purpose Coop of Mapanicqui, Candaba, Palawan, with 21,000 bags; Malipampang Concerned Citizens Multi-Purpose Coop, Malipampang, San Ildefonso, Bulacan, with 18,000 bags; Samahan ng Magsasaka Capangpangan at Katagalogan Multi-Purpose Coop, Garlang, San Ildefonso, Bulacan, with 18,000 bags; and Sili Multi-Purpose Coop, Sili, Naguilian, La Union, with 16,000 bags.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) here impounded the cargo vessel after a PCG ship inspection team found out that the vessel violated eight of the ten provisions stated at the Marine Pollution 7378 Convention.

The PCG said they will require the vessel’s local agent to comply with the deficiency found by the inspectors before they will allow the vessel to sail.

Leovigildo Doyoja, BOC Legazpi customs collector, said in a phone interview after the auction that the MV Minh Tuan 68 has to comply with the PCG requirements before the ship may be allowed to sail back to Vietnam.

The ship has been impounded by the PCG since September last year after it entered the city port with 94,000 bags of rice smuggled from Vietnam.

Doyoja said his office has been spending over P4 million for anchorage fees of the cargo ship and warehouse rentals where the smuggled rice from Vietnam is being kept.

He said the vessel will still be held at bay, pending the resolution of the case which is still being evaluated by the BOC Legal Department in Manila.(PNA) dsp/FGS/MSA/cbd/

Legazpi mulls P 300-B urban dev’t project through PPP

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 17 (PNA) -– A P300-billion urban development project that will be implemented through public-private partnership is now on the drawing board of the city government here.

Once realized, this project -- which will involve, among others, the reclamation of a vast portion of an area off the shoreline covered by two barangays at the southern coast here -- will further accelerate the development of the city into Bicol’s leading investment and tourism hub, City Mayor Noel Rosal over the week said.

The reclamation will cover not less than 10 hectares along the four-kilometer stretch of the newly opened Legazpi Boulevard.

It will locate world-class tourism and commercial facilities within an impressive waterfront economic landscape with a sweeping 360-degree view of Albay Gulf opposite the heartwarming scenery of the majestic Mayon Volcano sitting at the northern side of the city, Rosal said.

Development of the area, which was started by the city government with the opening of the five-kilometer boulevard as part of a new road network extending up to the Southern Luzon International Airport, is currently ongoing.

SLIA, now ongoing construction within a 200-hectare plateau in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, Albay, some 10 kilometers from the city proper, is expected to start operations next year to become a testament to economic growth propelled by the fast-growing trade and tourism industry in the region.

“Since we will have a less traffic-congested road linking the new airport with this new urban center, most of the arrivals -- especially tourists -- will certainly find their way to here,” Rosal said.

“We now have the blueprint of this project that impresses some local and foreign investors and perhaps in the next three years' time, we will start seeing massive construction activities taking place in the area through these investors under the PPP scheme,” according to Rosal.

“This may be an ambitious undertaking yet not so difficult to realize because of the growing interest in PPP that the administration of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III has developed among investors towards the country’s progress and development, including the countryside,” the mayor said.

The aggressive PPP promotion by the Aquino administration enables the government to attract private partners to invest not only in traditional infrastructure projects -- such as power, transportation and water sectors -- but also in non-traditional infrastructure and development sectors, such as information and communications technology, health and property development.

Riding on the crest of an anti-corruption campaign grounded on transparency, the present administration has been able to make PPP a big lift in realizing various development projects both at the national and local levels across various infrastructure sectors.

“We are grabbing the opportunity being offered by this achievement and in fact, several big investors have already signified their intentions to take part in this mega project which will become our new urban development area that will also be the next city government center where the City Hall and all the other local government offices will be relocated,” Rosal said.

So far, the City Engineering Office and the City Fire Department have already been moved to their new buildings at the site near the foot of Kapuntukan Hill that separates the development site from Embarcadero de Legazpi, the city’s world-class lifestyle and tourism landmark.

Next year, the mayor said, the construction of the P100-million convention center that the city is putting up via PPP on a sprawling property along the bayside boulevard is set to start to later become a world-class facility conceptualized to support the city’s rise as among the country’s leading venues of big national and international conventions.

The city, now known in the international travel industry as the “City of Fun and Adventure” since three years ago, has been playing host to at least 20 big conventions, conferences, seminars and group tours organized by government, private and international organizations. The latest of these were the Bicol National Association of America Convention held last July 19-21 and the 14 National Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines Convention last Oct. 2-5.

“This convention center will be the first of its kind in the country outside Metro Manila. It will be built as a state-of-the-art facility that could conveniently accommodate even more than 5,000 people,” he said.

Among the amenities that the reclaimed area will accommodate are top-class hotels, specialty restaurants, cafes and shops, tourist center, water and land transportation terminals, bayview amphitheater, commercial strip, celebration plaza and business process outsourcing offices, Rosal said.

“A modern hospital and a posh residential subdivision will also be established within the area -- along with all utilities and services to make it a really stand-alone site for convenient living, leisure stays, shopping, recreation, special gatherings, physical fitness, works and even promenading,” he added. (PNA) hbc/FGS/DOC/CBD/jsd