Monday, September 30, 2013

Aquino issues proclamation declaring regular holidays, special non-working days and special holidays for schools in 2014

MANILA, Sept 30 (PNA) -- President Benigno S. Aquino III issued a proclamation declaring regular holidays, special (non-working) days and special holiday for schools for the year 2014, a Palace official said.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announced during the regular press briefing in Malacanang Palace on Monday that the Chief Executive issued Proclamation 655 on Sept 25.

The following regular holidays and special days for the year 2014 shall be observed in the country:

Regular Holidays for 2014 are as follows:

New Year’s Day Jan 1 (Wednesday); Araw ng Kagitingan; April 9 (Wednesday); Maundy Thursday April 17;Good Friday April 18; Labor Day May 1 (Thursday); Independence Day June 12 (Thursday); National Heroes DayAug 25 (Last Monday of August); Bonifacio Day Nov 30 (Sunday); Christmas Day Dec 25 (Thursday);Rizal Day Dec 30 (Tuesday);

Special (non-working) Days:

Chinese New Year Jan 31 (Friday); Black Saturday April 19; Ninoy Aquino Day Aug 21 (Thursday); All Saints Day Nov 1 (Saturday);

Additional special (non-working) days:

Dec 24 (Wednesday); Dec 26 (Friday);Last Day of the Year Dec 31 (Wednesday);

Special Holiday (for all schools):

EDSA Revolution Anniversary. (PNA) HBC/PCOO/SSC

Army to explode old ammos, bombs

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 30 (PNA) -- The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has issued a notice to residents of Barangay Lidong, Sto. Domingo town, Albay, not to be alarmed if they hear booming sounds on October 2.

OCD Regional Director Raffy Alejandro said that on that day, members of the 5th Forward Service Support Unit of the Army Support Command will explode old ammunition and bombs such as improvised explosive devices stocked in the said unit of the Philippine Army.

Alejandro said they have already warned the residents in the area not to come close to the explosion site for their own safety in the duration of the bomb disposal process.

The PA also conducted similar activity last month but it failed to give warning to the villagers, causing panic among them.

This also prompted local authorities to send security forces in the area when they heard the explosions. (PNA) LAP/PTR/FGS/EMC/CBD

Migration propels housing growth in Naga City
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Sept. 30 (PNA) -– The continuous migration of professionals and business expansion in this city has propelled a consistent growth in housing investments, a housing business executive said.

Toti Rocha, chief operations officer of Deca Homes, said the market of real estate in this city continues to increase because of people migration from different towns and provinces which he sees to go on in the next 15 years.

Rocha based his projection on the fast turnover of investment in their low-cost housing projects here, which takes them only three to four years to sell all the units in each project.

He said each project involves around 500 units of low-cost residential units, which are paid through monthly amortization equivalent to the prevailing house rental rates.

“Most of our clients are government employees like teachers and policemen working here and overseas contract workers whose families are also living here,” Rocha noted.

He observed that the new generation of young professionals with stable jobs and yet do not have a family of their own are now common investors in the real estate.

Rocha foresees the boom in real estate for the next 15 years will have no let-up if the development of Naga City continues while the market is still a long way for saturation.

He said the dynamic real estate development is now creeping toward the upper barangays of Naga City while there are still lots of room for development.

Rocha said the establishment of health facilities and the existence of several universities and education institutions are among the reasons people from other place are coming here.

Thriving for years here, Deca Homes recently inaugurated its four-storey corporate center along Panganiban Drive with three floors rented out.

Deca Homes, a pioneering low-cost housing corporation in Naga City, has been operating here for more than a decade starting at the Villa Karangahan.

It has established the low-cost housing of Villa Obiedo, another one in Bagumbayan Sur and two areas in San Felipe and now, new sites are to be opened in barangays Abella and Balatas.

Rocha said Deca Homes rents out each floor with an area of 500 square meters for P150,000 a month. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD

Most Bicol LGUs prioritize tourism industry in development plans
By John Mark Escandor

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 30 (PNA) -– At least 70 percent of local government units (LGUs) in Bicol are prioritizing projects that are connected with the development and promotion of tourism sites in their respective areas, according to a top local tourism official.

Maria “Nini” Ravanilla, Department of Tourism Bicol regional director, said she was overwhelmed by the participants in the first “Bicol Regional Tourism Summit” held here on Thursday and Friday last week wherein 70 percent of LGUs in the region participated.

“We were expecting about 350 target participants but more than 500 LGU representatives showed up at the summit held from September 28-29 and participated in by LGUs all over the region,” Ravanilla said.

The summit participants interacted in the workshops that deal with product development, introduction and promotion in the context of marketing a locality as tourist destination.

Ravanilla said the LGUs and tourism stakeholders have to confront limitations and shortages in facilities like how to promote the place when the roads are bad or accommodation facilities are not established yet.

The output of the workshops calls for the convergence of other agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways to build access roads in localities where tourist arrivals are already regular and consistent.

Ravanilla said that when a locality reaches a point when promotion is catching up and tourists are coming in, the DOT initiates convergence with agencies like the DPWH for public infrastructures through a bottom-up budgeting.

She is optimistic of the continuing growth of tourism industry in Bicol with 7.9 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, which grew from 3.1 million to 3.6 million tourist arrivals.

Ravanilla said Camarines Sur and Naga City maintained their lead in tourist arrivals in 2012 which, she said, was attributed to the yearly Peñafrancia fiesta where more than a million devotees from all over the world attend the regional festivities.

She noted a seeming competition between Naga City and Legazpi City, both top performers in tourist arrivals in Bicol, to bid for hosting of conventions and national events to increase tourism income.

Ravanilla aired her apprehension regarding the decline of tourists in Donsol because of the scarcity of whale shark visit this year but, she said, she was surprised there was a five-percent growth of tourist arrivals in Sorsogon for the first quarter.

Ravanilla cited Almasor (Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon), a tourism product hatched by Albay Gov. Jose Maria Salceda, which, she said, contributed to the increase of 29 percent of tourist arrivals in Albay in the first quarter of this year compared to last year’s.

The clustering is based on geographical proximity of the provinces which, she said, allows packaging of variety of destinations that interest tourists.

Ravanilla said they have already dry-run several times the number of the days tourists could possibly visit all the destinations in Almasor to at least five days.

The DOT regional head said it is estimated that every one foreign tourist spends US$ 90 a day while a local tourist may shell out more than P1,000 for every day stay in Bicol. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD

Bicolanos get health edge in fiery cuisine (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 30 (PNA) – Eating a lot of 'siling labuyo' (Capsicum frutescens l) requires the gut that makes Bicolanos lucky enough with their favorite fiery cuisine of hot pepper, which, besides being good source of nutrients, offers numerous therapeutic actions.

And since several food studies have listed vitamins and mineral as nutrients that can be found in sili (as simply called), never mind the common joke about the Bicolanos that describes their passion for it: “In the face of an oncoming typhoon, they will prop up their sili bush before the nipa hut.”

These are nutrients value per 100-gram (g) sili serving are water, 86.0 g; protein, 1.9 g; fat, 1.9 g; carbohydrates, 9.2 g; iron, 1.2 milligram (mg); calcium, 14.4 mg; vitamin A, 700-21600 IU; and vitamin C, 242.0 mg.

The same studies found medicinal properties of hot pepper such as excellent promoter of ligaments -- given that ingestion of fresh sili is believed to be wholesome for persons of phlegmatic temperament, being considered stimulating.

It is a powerful rube facient, a medicine for external application that produces redness of the skin; relieves pain by counter-irritant effect; an effective gargle when mixed with vinegar; warm fomentation of both leaves and fruit applied for rheumatic pains; leaves can be used as dressing for wounds and sores; strong infusion of the fruit is applied as a lotion for ringworm of the scalp; and cures stomach pain, gout, dyspepsia and cholera.

Laboratory studies say siling labuyo contains capsaicin, a chemical compound that causes the burning sensation in the mouth.

With that hot and burning feeling, capsaicin triggers the brain to kick out flood of endorphins, a natural pain killer of the body that promotes sense of well being and stimulation.

Siling labuyo gives an amazing relief to arthritis and rheumatism. It brings down blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol, prevents blood clots, halts bleeding quickly, knocks out cold and flu miseries.

It also reduces risk of heart diseases and tuberculosis apart from being an ulcer healer.

Currently, there are numerous studies going on for the medicinal applications of siling labuyo since it is associated with therapeutic actions such as: aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, expectorant, neural stimulant, rubefacient, synergist vasomotor stimulant and topical vasodilator, among others.

Abroad, siling labuyo (called jalapeno chili pepper) has been found to possess the ability to drive prostate cancer cells to kill themselves.

A study by a research team from the University of California and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center recently published by Washington Times found that the hot stuff in peppers, capsaicin, causes 80 percent of active prostate cancer cells growing in mice to "follow the molecular pathways leading to apoptosis" or cell death.

Capsaicin has a profound anti-proliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells in culture, the study shows.

The same publication also cited other researches which have shown peppers to have antioxidant properties and their anti-inflammatory properties have been tapped for treatment of migraines, arthritis and muscle pain.

Hot peppers have also been found to suppress appetites and clear a stuffy head and are a good source of vitamins A, C and E, folic acid and potassium, it added.

Now, wonder why some Bicolanos have been known to pluck a branch of the bush afire with ripe-red sili and eat the peppers as if they were salted peanuts.

For them, food without sili is tasteless and colorless, just as the French would say that a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.

According to Bicolano writer Honesto General in his “The Burning Passion for Sili,” hot pepper bush is as much a part of the Bicol landscape.

“There are no wide commercial plantings. But you will find the bush in backyards and front lawns and flowerpots in many a rural or urban home. In Bicol there is not a single vegetable stall in the public market or sari-sari store by a roadside that does not carry sili in its inventory,” General said.

The coconut cookery served in any public eating place in Bicol, especially in Albay, is almost certain to be liberally spiced with sili.

“The cast-iron kawali (wok) that has been used for years for cooking gulay (vegetables) becomes so impregnated with sili that if you use it to fry rice, your final product will automatically be richly spiced,” he added.

And so, Bicolano cuisine is famous for its rich and spicy dishes which are mostly cooked using coconut milk and spiced with the super hot siling labuyo.

Among the well known Bicolano specialties are: Bicol Express, a very hot dish made of small bits of meat, balaw (fermented shrimps), coconut milk, garlic, onion, ginger, and of course, red and green chilies; and pinangat, a concoction of ground shrimp or fish paste wrapped in gabi (taro) leaves and cooked into a stew with ginger, chili and coconut milk. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD

Land Bank bares P3-B loan portfolio in Bicol
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 30 (PNA) – The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) Legazpi and Naga branches have already lent a combined amount of P3 billion to its clients in the Bicol region as of this year, a top bank executive here said.

Gil Jose Sarte of the LBP Naga branch said over the weekend that the combined loan portfolio of the LBP Legazpi and Naga lending centers is expected to increase further toward the end of this year, owing to the significant role of the bank in the economy of the region.

One of the leading universal banks in the country, the bank held its LBP-LGU Regional Summit here over the weekend.

It is fourth among the leading banks in the country, Sarte said, with Banco De Oro as number one, followed by Metropolitan Bank as second and Bank of the Philippine Islands, third.

He added that the LBP is still the leading bank in terms of services to rural areas or the countryside.

Sarte said the LBP has a total of 300 branches nationwide, with 15 in Bicol -- Camarines Sur, 6; Albay, 4; Camarines Norte and Sorsogon, two each; and Catanduanes and Masbate, one each.

The LBP official said the LBP plans to increase this number of branches in the region in the coming years.(PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/

NPA rebels, Army soldiers clash twice

CAMP GEN. SIMEON OLA, Legazpi City, Sept. 30 (PNA)-- Elements of the 31st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and members of the New People's Army on Sunday morning had encounters on two separate occasions in Barangay Sta. Barbara and Sitio Kaprikupan, Barangay San Isidro in Bulusan Sorsogon as a result of the intensified operations carried out by the soldiers.

An Army report said the first encounter took place at about 9:00 a.m. in Barangay Sta. Barbara where 10 armed rebels clashed with members of the 31st IB’s Charlie Company for about 20 minutes. The rebels then withdrew towards neighboring Barangay San Isidro.

At about 11:25 a.m., however, the two groups clashed again in Sitio Kaprikuhan, Barangay San Isidro.

The firefight lasted for about 30 minutes; after which, the rebels decided to withdraw.

Army soldiers and police officers immediately put up checkpoints to prevent the rebels from escaping from the area.

They also scoured local hospitals and clinics to check whether there were rebels brought for treatment as some of them were believed to have been wounded.

The government security forces are now in hot pursuit of the dissidents who they believe are still in the neighboring villages of the encounter area.(PNA) PDS/FGS/EMC/CBD/

DepEd-Bicol to repair, rehabilitate 115 school buildings

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) -- The Department of Education Bicol regional office will repair and rehabilitate 115 school buildings in various sites in its 14 divisions in the region for a total cost of P88.5 million.

The school building repair and rehabilitation projects will be funded under the 2013 Basic Educational Facilities Fund, according to information released by Jose B. Bonto, Bids and Awards Committee chair.

Submission and opening of bids are scheduled at 9:30 a.m., Oct. 7, while the issuance of bidding documents is ongoing up to Oct. 7, Bonto said.

A pre-bid conference was held last Sept. 24.

Bonto strongly encouraged prospective bidders to order or download the electronic copy of bidding documents from the PHILGEPS website:, for them to be included in the Document Request List of the project.

Bids will be opened in the presence of the bidders’ representatives who will attend the opening of bids at the Deped-5, he said, adding that late bids will not be accepted.

Winning bidders should finish each division cluster of projects in 60 calendar days.(PNA) JBP/FGS/CBD/pjn

Comelec-Bicol reminds public on regulations as barangay election period starts Sept. 28

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 27 (PNA) -– Election regulations, especially the gun ban, start taking effect September 28, the beginning of the 45-day election period for the October 28 barangay polls, a public reminder issued by the Commission on Elections Bicol regional office here on Friday said.

Comelec Regional Director Romeo Fortes said the public as well as prospective candidates should abide by the regulations set in relation to the election period to avoid legal prosecutions.

The period starts on Sept. 28 and ends on Nove 12, and during this time frame, Fortes said issuance of appointments, promotions, creation of new positions or giving of salary increases in government offices, agencies or instrumentalities are prohibited.

Among the other forbidden acts are alteration of territory of a precinct or establishment of a new precinct; illegal release of prisoners; raising of funds through dances, lotteries and cockfights, among other activities; organizing or maintaining reaction/strike forces or similar forces; and transfer and detail of officers and employees in the civil service, including public school teachers.

Suspension of any elective provincial, city, municipal or barangay officer and use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates whether or not such bodyguards are regular members or officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or other government law enforcement agencies are also prohibited.

On the ban on carrying of firearms and other forms of deadly weapons, including unauthorized wearing of police or military uniforms, Fortes said the PNP and AFP are deputized by the Comelec to conduct checkpoints along highways and other strategic locations based on guidelines set by the poll body.

The gun ban does not exempt licensed firearms from being carried outside residences notwithstanding if they are holders of permits-to-carry.

Filing of certificates of candidacy is set on Oct. 15-17, after which the 15-day campaign period starts.

During the campaign period, Fortes said, making any donation or gift in cash or in kind that could look like an act of vote-buying is prohibited as well as the implementation of public projects like construction and maintenance of provincial, city, municipal or barangay-funded roads and bridges.

Use of armored vehicles, water or air craft and appointing or using special policemen, confidential agents or similar personnel are also disallowed, he said.

All these prohibitions, Fortes added, are to ensure the honest, credible, orderly and peaceful conduct of the electoral exercise.

The Oct. 28 elections, insofar as Bicol is concerned, will take place in all the region’s 3,471 barangays covered by 107 municipalities, seven cities and six provinces involving a total of 24,297 elective barangay posts and about three million registered voters. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/cbd/

Skyjet set to resume flights to Catanduanes Oct. 15
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) -- Skyjet Airlines will resume its flights to the Manila-Catanduanes route on Oct. 15, according to Joel Mendoza, chief executive officer of this new player in the country’s aviation industry.

Owned by Magnum Air Inc., Skyjet started flying the route in mid-April this year just to be suspended last July to resolve management issues that affected its operations.

Mendoza said that despite the flight suspension, the company company has mounted its 94-seater, four-engine British Aerospace 146-200 jet in servicing the Virac (Catandunes)-Manila route every Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.

The flight resumption will be in time with the Catandungan Festival, a three-day celebration of the province' anniversary on Oct. 24-26 at Virac, the provincial capital, he said.

The annual celebration draws plenty of homecomings and tourists who bustle around to join the merry-makings featuring street dancing of the famous Bicolano native dance called “Pantomina” and witness the crowning of the island's most beautiful lady, agro-industrial fair, grand parade and surfing competitions.

Spearheaded by the provincial government of Catanduanes, the celebration that sets the ambience of fun and pageantry as a celebration of life and lights was conceptualized as a season for Catandunganons to look into their past with appreciation and to make them aware of their history and culture as a people.

It is a celebration that showcases the Catandungan’s rich history, arts and culture, religious, trade and industry and tourism through a variety of special events, beauty pageant, sports, exhibitions, tournaments, recreation and bringing into life the Virac Heroes Memorial Fountain as the center of the events.

Servicing Catanduanes is part of Skyjet Arilines’ thrust to operate in underserved and unserved destinations in the country with great tourism potentials, Mendoza said.

The island, separated from the mainland of Bicol by Maqueda Bay and sitting at the Pacific Ocean, is considered one of the promising eco-tourism areas in Bicol owing to its rich ecology and majestic coastal waters that offer exciting surfing and diving sites.

Minus Skyjet, Cebu Pacific serves as the only airline operating the Manila-Virac route three times a week – which is not enough for the growing number of tourists and other passengers coming to and from the province.

Mendoza said that inasmuch as the airline wants to promote Catanduanes as a tourism site, it has also arranged with SM mall theaters in Manila for the showing of video materials of the island’s tourist destinations.

The airline is also offering a special rate to local resort operators, who are allowed to book complete tour packages for their potential clients.

“Tourists will be provided with hassle-free travel -- complete with tickets, room and board, and airport transfers,” Mendoza said.

“Our fares will remain competitive and offer no hidden charges, no additional charges for seats, free snacks for short haul trip, affordable rates and more cargo space. We focus on safety and our aircraft can operate in the most challenging runways and weather conditions in the Philippines as certified by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines,” he said.

The airline has an initial fleet of two 94-seater, four-engine BAE 146-200 jets and is anticipating the arrival of another aircraft to charter passengers from Batanes to Kaoshiung, Taiwan and vice versa, Mendoza added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/pjn

EMB-Bicol spearheads moves to revive Catanduanes river
by Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 27 (PNA) –- Various institutions headed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have agreed to put their acts together to bring life back into the Gogon River, a major freshwater channel in Virac, Catanduanes that has succumbed to the impacts of pollution and urbanization.

In partnership with the local government of Virac, the Catanduanes Sustainable Ecosystems Development, Inc. (EcoDev) and the Catanduanes State University (CSU), have put in place various activities to revive Gogon River,” Roberto Sheen, regional technical director of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) on Friday, said.

Gogon River, whose water flows through downtown Virac-- the provincial capital-- down to the sea, is formerly known to be a place where some households in the community do their laundry and bathing.

It is an important component of the urban ecosystem of the municipality and while it was a source of freshwater fishes, the river, like others elsewhere that are confronted by urbanization, had badly deteriorated, Sheen said.

Latest water samplings conducted on the river showed an alarming level of degradation as laboratory results reveal that dissolved oxygen (DO) along the main river channel was way below normal, he said.

DO refers to the volume of oxygen that is contained in water. Oxygen enters the water by photosynthesis of aquatic biota and by the transfer of oxygen across the air-water interface.

Sheen explained that the DO level, among other indicators, substantially provides a clear picture of the condition of a water body.

Low level of DO, caused primarily by the rapid growth of microorganisms as a result of pollution -- according to studies, affects the growth and survival of organisms in a river or other water bodies.

"It causes fish kill as it robs fish of oxygen,” he said.

Adequate DO, on the other hand, is necessary for good water quality and when levels in water drop below the tolerable level, aquatic life is put under stress.

Sheen said that EMB representatives recently met with Virac Mayor Flerida Alberto together with key officials of EcoDev and CSU and agreed to formulate necessary policies and institutional framework that will address urgent issues affecting the health of the river.

The initial course of action agreed upon in the meeting was to create a technical committee that will draft a policy framework for the management and development of the Gogon River, he said.

He said the EcoDev has suggested that the DENR and Virac LGU come up with guidelines that will govern the use of the river and where the granting of some forms of tax incentives or subsidies to environmentally compliant firms along the water body could be based.

Considering that various sectors are responsible for the degradation of the river, an integrated management and development approach will be applied, Sheen said.

The CSU meanwhile will continue with its “Greening the Blue Program” that intends to save the river ecosystem from further degradation and revive its ecological balance by further educating the residents about solid waste management.

The program was launched last July and initial cleanup yielded volumes of all sorts of household garbage extravagantly discharged into the river, a CSU report said.

Under the same program that was made part of the National Service Training Program (NSTP) for students, CSU will also plant trees along the river to build a natural control for soil erosion and water overflowing during heavy rains, he said.

Each NSTP class, headed by instructors and professors in the Civic Welfare Training Service, Literacy Training Service and Reserve Officers Training Corps have been given several meters of assigned areas along the river as their adopted sites.

They maintain its cleanliness, plant trees and conduct environmental education to the residents.

Sheen said some sections of the Gogon River tributaries are also under the care of two local business firms-- Catanduanes Power Generation, Inc. and Powerzone Petroleum Products, Inc. -- through the EMB’s Adopt-An-Estero program. (PNA) FGS/DOC/CBD/utb

27 students, 6 teachers hospitalized due to food poisoning

TABACO CITY, Sept. 27 (PNA) –- Twenty-seven students, six teachers and the janitor of the Mayon Elementary School (MES) in Barangay Buang, Tabaco City, are still confined in a hospital due to food poisoning after eating lunch Thursday during the start of a two-day district sports meet at Barangay San Antonio here.

Cecille Bernadette P. Rivera, Department of Education Tabaco Schools Division superintendent, said the victims are participants in the West District sports meet that ended Friday.

The district covers schools in the upland villages of the city.

Rivera said that after a parade, the students and teachers took their lunch that included “pochero,” a viand that consists of meat, cabbage and banana boiled with water.

Every school delegation had its own food preparation.

After partaking of their lunch, some of the victims became unconscious while others vomited and got pale while their lips and hands turned violet, Rivera said.

They were rushed to the Ziga Memorial District Hospital, she said, adding that they later on found out that there was indeed food poisoning among the students and teachers as found out in laboratory examination.

The teacher who cooked the food was among the victim.

Rivera clarified that what happened was unintentional on the part of the teacher and instructed all participants from the MES to undergo medical treatment.

Doctors at the ZMDH are closely monitoring the condition of the victims.(PNA) FFC/FGS/RBA/cbd

Friday, September 27, 2013

Legazpi, Makati ink sisterhood agreement

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 26 (PNA) -- Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay on Thursday signed a sisterhood agreement between Legazpi City and Makati City at the office of the Legazpi City chief executive here.

The signing was witnessed by the Sangguniang Panlunsod members and department heads of both parties.

The agreement materialized through Resolution Number 0258-2011 of Legazpi sponsored by Councilor Alan Ranola and approved by Vice Mayor Vittorio Roces during the city council’s 35th regular session on October 11, 2011 and also approved during the term of former Carmen Geraldine Rosal on Oct. 17 of the same year.

The resolution expressed the desire of the City of Legazpi to establish a sisterhood with the City of Makati.

Rosal disclosed that this relationship will open windows for opportunities to uplift the lives of all the people living in the territorial areas of the two cities.

He pointed out that this agreement of the two cities will make share their common desire to promote and foster strong friendship and goodwill.

“This will also mean a sharing of knowledge and expertise in the field of good governance towards prosperity and continuous success in urban and rural development,” Rosal added.

He said that based on the agreement, the two cities have the same intention of creating an atmosphere in which economic and community development can be implemented and strengthened.

He stressed that this relationship will also serve as a vehicle to improve their initiatives towards the adoption of science and technology, culture and arts, tourism, planning and urban development, commerce, trade and industry, education and sports development, environmental protection, public health and social services.

On the part of Binay, he vowed to help Legazpi to continue improve its business sector by way of encouraging other giant investors to put up business here.

The Makati mayor said he is very willing to share the key programs of his administration to Legazpi for the benefit of the Legazpenos and help Legazpi remain a strong modern city of the region. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EPS/CBD

DSWD opens KALAHI projects in Bicol to media
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 26 (PNA) – The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)on Thursday said its poverty alleviation and social development projects being implemented in all parts of the region are open to media scrutiny.

“As a matter of transparency, we want the media to partner with us in informing the public about all aspects surrounding every project we are implementing in the region,” DSWD Bicol regional director Arnel Garcia, said.

Initially, he said, his office is facilitating on Oct. 1 a media tour of completed and on-going Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDDS) projects in Camarines Sur where 23 of its 35 municipalities are beneficiaries.

KALAHI-CIDSS is an Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded program that seeks to empower communities in targeted poor areas to achieve improved access to sustainable basic public services and participate in more inclusive LGU planning and budgeting.

It is a Community-Driven Development (CDD) approach of the national government in strongly advocating the involvement of local communities in the design and implementation of development projects to address the issue of poverty in the country.

Placed under the supervision of the DSWD, the project aims to improve local governance by employing the participation of the people in the communities in the development process.

Under its CDD approach, community members consensually decide on what type of poverty-reduction projects they need for funding.

Common projects include public goods or access projects such as pathways, farm-to-market roads, health centers, water systems, day-care centers and school buildings; community enterprise projects such as solar dryers, fishery, rice mills and community markets.

The selection of Kalahi-CIDSS project areas is based on the 2009 Philippines poverty statistics of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

Bicol’s regional poverty incidence among families is 36 percent where 45 in every 100 Bicolanos are poor.

Today, 70 of the region’s 102 municipalities are recipients of Kalahi-CIDSS projects in different modalities.

Garcia said the whole-day media tour will cover Core Social Protection Programs implemented in the municipalities of Bombon and Gainza, both in Camarines Sur.

Bombon is beneficiary of the Pagao Water System project worth P1,263.742.05 and a Daycare Center in Barangay San Francisco costing P797,490.50.

DSWD is also constructing day care centers in Barangays Sto. Domingo, San Roque; health station in Barangay Sampaloc and drainage canal in Barangay San Jose, also in this town.

A total of 525 children are enrolled at the three-day care centers while 280 households will benefit from the water system that ensures a safe potable drinking water.

Garcia said five projects are in Gainza--the construction of the drainage canals in Barangays Loob and District II totally amounting to about P1.5 million and the covered drainage canal worth over P.7 million, covering Barangay District II.

A training center for out-of-school youth (OSY) and mothers was also constructed at Barangay Cagbunga, Gainza, worth P.8 million and a Center for Handicraft in Barangay Malbong worth another P.8 million.

These projects, Garcia said, are expected to improve the living conditions of the local community and give them ready access to the government’s services.

These are also implemented in line with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

The tour will give the media the opportunity to monitor DSWD’s projects at the community level and directly interact with beneficiaries, Garcia said, adding that the same activity will also be conducted in all other areas of the region where DSWD projects are in place. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Salceda leads DOT Gayon Bicol awardees in 1st Regional Tourism Summit
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 26 (PNA) – Nineteen Gayon Bicol awardees will be honored Thursday evening during the first day of the first Bicol Regional Tourism Summit sponsored by the Department of Tourism at the Oriental Hotel here.

Leading the awardees is Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda in the category of Gayon Bicol Awards for Tourism Champions.

Other awardees under this category are former Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte, Naga City Mayor John G Bongat, Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal, former Sorsogon governor and now Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Lee, Daet Mayor Tito Sarion, former Bulusan mayor and now Board Member Michael Gusayco (2nd District, Sorsogon); former Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen and the late Mayor Jerome Alcantara of Donsol, Sorsogon (posthumous awardee).

Gayon Bicol Medal Valor awardees are Philip Bartilet, Aguinaldo Carino, Bobby Adrao, Rhyan Nuyda and George Cordovilla.

The Gayon Bicol Awards for Enterpise Service Excellence go to the Avenue Plaza Hotel and the Misibis Bay Resort.

Recipients of the Bicol Awards for Tourism Development Partners are Cecilia H. Duran, World Wildlife Fund and Danilo Intong.

The Gayon Bicol Awards 2013 recognizes and honors individuals, groups and institutions in the tourism sector of Bicol

The criteria for the awards are leadership, innovation, creativity, contribution to the development of international, national, regional and local tourism.

DOT Bicol regional director Maria Nini Ravanilla said the awards will serve as an inspiration to anybody to contribute to the development of the tourism industry of the region, especially with impact on the national and global community. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD

Mayon top global tourism advantage of Albay
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 26 (PNA) -– Mayon Volcano is the number one global tourism advantage of Albay and the entire Bicol region, Gov. Joey Salceda said Thursday.

He was speaking at the opening of the two-day First Bicol Regional Tourism Summit at the Oriental Hotel here.

Speaking before some 500 participants, Salceda claimed that Albayanos were born and live in the shadow of Mayon, the global identity of the province.

He took pride in the character, culture and respectfulness of an Albayano as well as the spicy warmth of the Albayanos, in particular, and the Bicolanos, in general.

He said he is not afraid to gamble on Albay -- like joining in the international travel exhibit in Berlin, Germany, last year, where he spent millions of pesos as investment.

The province was the only local government unit that joined the world tourism event and the province, he said, is now preparing for the London global tourism event.

This bold step yielded more than a thousand returns to the province and the region.

Salceda also said Albay was the third largest cosmopolitan center of the Philippines during the Spanish time.

He announced that the Cagsawa Ruins will soon be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The tourism industry, he said, has horizontal and inclusive benefits to the community and the national economy in general.

For one, tourism does not need or has a little need for power, thus, power saving and incurs lower bills, he said.(PNA) HBC/FGS/NIM/CBD/

CamNorte farmers get productivity support from DA

LABO, Camarines Norte, Sept. 26 (PNA) –Bicol’s regional office of the Department of Agriculture has provided farmers here and three other municipalities of Camarines Norte with farm support to boost their productivity and raise income.

Turned over recently by DA Regional Executive director Abelardo Bragas to local government officials were vermi-composting facilities for Daet, Jose Panganiban, San Vicente and this town.

This town also received assorted vegetable seeds and 1,500 seedlings of coffee and cacao as part of the DA’s initiative in pushing for commercial production of these high-value crops in the region.

A check worth P1.5 million was also turned over to the Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative for the establishment of a technology demonstration facility in line with its community-based organic fertilizer production project.

The cooperative’s president, Mario Espeso, who received the check, said the project will benefit over 200 farmers who are shifting from chemical fertilizers to organic in their farming practices to save on production cost and be able to come up with naturally-produced food crops.

Labo Mayor Joseph Ascutia said the DA, since time immemorial, has been the partner of his municipality in farm development.

“Our town has been a recipient of infrastructure projects like farm-to-market roads and dryers, which greatly helped the farmers in their production and marketing of farm products.

Ascutia added that he believes that agriculture is the key to improving the lives of the people in Labo.

Their development agenda, he said, are deeply anchored on agriculture.

They also advocate for environmental protection because of the emerging threat of climate change.

Bragas said the DA production support being extended to farmers is part of the Aquino administration’s agriculture development agenda focused on helping the farmers not only in this municipality but also in the entire region and country, to increase their productivity and income.

DA is also establishing marketing linkages to ensure better prices for the farmer's produce.

Among the commodities mentioned by Bragas that have ready market both local and abroad are coffee and cacao.

For cacao, he said, Bicol has already “a good number” of farmers, intercropping it with other traditional crops such as pili and coconut -- a good farming practice that is projected to give a farmer additional income estimated at P60,000 per hectare by producing quality-grade fermented dry beans at about 500 trees per hectare.

“We are continuously initiating activities to develop warm acceptance of the smallholder cacao production approach among farmers and renew their interest and willingness to collaborate for the promotion of sustainable cacao production,” he said.

Apart from these, he said, the DA is identifying more suitable areas in Bicol for cacao production and maximizing the presence of markets that could be organized into workable production-market system.

The region has 242,644 hectares of coconut land and at least 10 percent of it or 24,264 hectares can be inter-cropped with cacao, Bragas explained.

If 500 cacao trees will be planted under these coconut trees, a farmer will get 1.5-kilo cacao yield per tree that, if sold at P65.00 per kilo will earn for the farmer an income of P48,750 per cropping season.

Although cacao grows readily in the Philippines, the country has a hard time joining the international market.

In fact, Philippines imports about 30,000 tons cocoa products in the form of beans, powder, butter and liquor annually because Filipino farmers can only produce about 6,000 tons of cocoa every year.

The country, however, could be one of the biggest producers of the crop in Asia, along with Malaysia and Indonesia, according to Bragas.

Market estimates have it that premium chocolate sales will continue to expand, commanding 25 percent of the market and generating US$ 4.5 billion in sales yearly. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Bicolano soldier killed in Zamboanga standoff given honor
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 26 (PNA) -- The composite team of Army, Navy and Air force and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol gave a hero’s welcome and military honors to a fallen soldier in the Zamboanga standoff at the Tactical Operations Group (TOG) 5 in the Legazpi City airport Thursday.

Major Arvin Joel Buan, TOG 5 deputy commander, identified the slain soldier as Corporal Jesi Chris Reyeg, 33, a resident of Barangay Ilaor Norte, Oas, Albay.

Reyeg is a member of the Light Reaction Company (LRC) under the Army's Special Operations Command based in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

Direct from Zamboanga City, through a C-130 Air Force plane, the victim's casket was brought to Legazpi City via a one-and-a-half hour flight.

Reyeg's body was brought to his home town in Oas, Albay. (PNA) FFC/FGS/CBD

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Relief Goods for Zamboanga residents

Soldiers of Philippine Air Force load to their vehicle relief goods donated by media men in Albay and architecture students of Bicol University for the residents of Zamboanga affected by the standoff. (PNA photo of Connie Destura/Legazpi Bureau) CTB/ron

Paje calls for massive plantation to preserve water sources
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 25 (PNA) -– To preserve the sources of water, there is need for massive plantation, application of correct science, comprehensive plan to address climate change and good governance, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said this morning.

Paje addressed some 300 participants of the International Conference on Sustain-Agility of Watersheds now going on at the Oriental Hotel in this city.

The conference, which started this morning and will end tomorrow, is attended by participants from Korea, Malaysia, Sri-Lanka and the Philippines.

The activity is being coordinated by the Bicol University College of Agriculture and Fishery (BUCAF) and has for its theme “Mainstreaming mindset and efforts in ensuring sustainable water for all.”

Dr. Marissa Estrella, BUCAF dean, explained that the meeting aims to formulate a comprehensive program on best practices in DRR and CCA for use by researchers, students and agencies of the government.

Other speakers aside from Paje are Dr. Rex Victor O. Cruz, chancellor of the University of the Philippines-Los Banos and Dr. Patricio S. Faylon of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Development who will touch on climate change and the impending water crisis that the world will face in the next decade.

Paje also discussed important points on the three elements of nature – earth, water and air.

“To have agility, we need talent and to be sustainable, we need endurance,” he said.

He cited the National Greening Program as a comprehensive program of the Aquino Administration not only on environment but also in addressing the problem of poverty and food security based on Executive Order No. 26 of the President.

The DENR secretary sounded the need to fight graft and corruption and asked every participant to the conference to contribute his share in this problem.

“Do not worry too much. Just do your job and we will be better off because our lifespan is just a blink of an eye of our mother earth,” Paje said.

He commended the BUCAF and the local government of Albay as a model province in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation not only in the country but also in the entire world.(PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/

P8-B investments poured in Legazpi City, says Mayor Rosal
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 25 (PNA) – At least P8 billion worth of investments from the private sector have been poured in this city, according to Mayor Noel Rosal.

Rosal made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday evening after the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Liberty City Center Mall, a P600-million mall project of the Tan family of Tabaco City and Legazpi City.

He said the investment of the Tan family, the owner of the oldest commercial center in Albay, could reach as much as P1 billion and is expected to employ at least 1,000 people.

The mayor added that the business investments of the Tans in the city alone represents about 6-10 percent of the total investments that flowed into Legazpi City.

Rosal estimated that investments in hotels alone would reach P2 billion; the Gaisano at Pacific malls, P2 billion; Embarcadero de Legazpi, P1 billion; LKY grand terminal, about P200 million and others.

“These investments have contributed a lot to the economy of the city and that of Albay province,” he said.

The city chief executive expressed optimism that more multibillion-peso investments will come to the city from within and outside the country within two to three years.

Antonio Tan, LCC Mall president and chief operating officer, said his company’s chain of commercial centers has a total of 50 in the entire region and one in Metro Manila.

Tan said his company has sunk multibillion-peso investments in these business entities.

“The large number of employment opportunities we have created and the direct and indirect benefits we have given to the regional economy is our humble contribution to our fellow Bicolanos. We are Bicolanos and we are for Bicolanos,” he stressed. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/

3 classrooms in CamSur burnt to ashes

CAMP GEN. SIMEON OLA, Legazpi City, Sept. 25 (PNA) -– A fire caused by faulty electrical wiring turned three classrooms of the Panaytayan Elementary School into ashes on Tuesday evening in Ragay, Camarines Sur.

Based on a police report, the fire that occurred at about 9:30 p.m. started from the Grade II-1 room and immediately spread to the other rooms.

The Bureau of Fire Protection rushed to the rescue of the burning rooms but failed to save them.

It estimated the damage at P400,000.

The fire came at a time when the Department of Education (DepEd) Bicol regional office is scheduled to repair and rehabilitate school buildings in various sites in the region under the 2013 Basic Educational Facilities Funds.

The DepEd Bicol has allocated a total of P88.5 million for the projects fairly distributed among its 13 divisions all over the region. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

Aleco employees on strike, urge management to respect CBA
By Richard Almonte

TABACO CITY, Sept. 25 (PNA) -- At least 350 employees of Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) at its two service offices here and in Legazpi City have been on strike since Monday.

The striking Aleco Labor Employees Organization (ALECO) members are calling on their officials to listen, understand and protect their rights.

Noel Cantal, ALEO spokesperson, said the basis of their strike is the gross and flagrant violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provisions, union busting and unfair labor practices.

Cantal said they are also holding the strike for the non-appearance of the management in the hearing by the Department of Labor and Employment–National Reconciliation Management Board (NRMB) Region 5 on security of their tenure, condemning management's action.

He added that they are invoking their right to participate in all negotiations affecting employees’ rights and welfare and questioning the delay of their salary for almost a month now.

"Our strike is legitimate and legal," Cantal claimed.

The labor leader added that they had complied with the necessary permits and requirements to conduct the strike.

He said their move has no relation to the outcome of the referendum last Sept. 14, wherein the Private Sector Participation option of management control won over the Coop to Coop (C2C) scheme.

“It is purely labor issues on the management of Aleco,” the ALEO spokesman said.

The strike of the ALEO members will continue until the company management will appear in the hearing of the NCMB, Cantal said.

Despite the strike, Aleco operation is ongoing. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBA/CBD/

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

EMB to order asphalt batching plant to temporarily stop operation

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA)-- The Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB-DENR) in Bicol said it will order an asphalt batching plant in Barangay Lidong here to temporarily stop operation for alleged violation of certain environmental requirements.

Earlier, teachers and students of the Lidong Elementary School as well as villagers residing near the plant complained of the foul odor coming from it every time it makes asphalt.

Upon learning of the problem, DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales immediately ordered EMB Regional Technical Director Roberto D. Sheen to conduct an investigation on the complaint.

“Our priority is the health and welfare of the community and we will not compromise these,” Gonzales said.

He said he has not talked with anybody from the batching plant and has left the matter to the EMB.

Sheen reported to the Gonzales that the asphalt batching plant had indeed been emitting a foul odor coming from chemicals in the asphalt, especially ammonia, which is dangerous to health.

This, he said, is in violation of the conditions in the environment clearance certificate that the batching plant should install the necessary equipment and measures to prevent noise and air pollution that would affect the environment.

The EMB official said to avoid further damage to the environment and possible health hazards to occupants of the elementary school and residents nearby, he has issued a cease and desist order to the asphalt batching plant.

Grace delos Santos, owner of the batching plant, said they are still installing the necessary equipment and measures to prevent noise and air pollution.

“The welfare of the community, especially the schoolchildren, is also our utmost concern. We will never compromise their health and their environment, that’s why we have been doing our best to avoid inconvenience to the public,” Delos Santos said.

Being new to the business, she said, they are doing everything to ensure that their operations adhere to the requirements of the law.

“We are asking the EMB to assist us in the technical and environmental aspects of the project and we will comply with what the law requires,” Delos Santos said.(PNA) PDS/FGS/CBD

Napolcom inspects PNP offices in Albay province

TABACO CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA) -– The National Police Commission (Napolcom) Bicol regional office is conducting an annual inspection of Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel in different PNP offices in the province of Albay.

Ricardo Fontanilla, Napolcom Bicol spokesperson, told the PNA Tuesday that the Napolcom inspection team visited the PNP offices in the municipalities of Malinao and Tiwi on Monday to conduct assessment and evaluation of police personnel.

Fontanilla said that during the inspection of the two police offices, they noted a 100-percent attendance, except for one personnel who is on training.

He said the inspection involves proper wearing of uniform, accounting of issued firearms and other government property such as vehicles and other equipment.

Glock 17 pistols have never been issued yet to the personnel of the two PNP offices as the personnel are still require to have a certification of training in using the pistol and that only Camp Crame is the one issuing the certification and distributing the said firearm, Fontanilla clarified.

He said that last week, they had finished inspecting PNP offices in the 3rd and 2nd districts of the province.

The Tabaco and Malilipot police offices are scheduled Tuesday for annual inspection and on Wednesday, the inspection team is scheduled in Bacacay and Sto. Domingo towns.

Fontanilla added that other teams from Napolcom are now also conducting an annual inspection at the province of Camarines Sur.(PNA) FFC/FGS/RBA/CBD

Rebels harass Albay countryside development caravan

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA) --New People's Army rebels Tuesday morning harassed the Albay Countryside Development Caravan being held at Barangay Maninila, Camalig, Albay.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said that at about 9:30 a.m., while Sangguniang Panlalawigan Board Member Herbert Borja was explaining the objectives of the caravan, gunshots were heard -- prompting the residents and personnel of various government agencies to scamper for safety.

Government security forces immediately pursued the rebels who ran towards unknown direction.

The activity was attended by officials of Albay province, Camalig town headed by Mayor Carlos Baldo, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Office of Civil Defense Team Albay and non-government and civic organizations.

Salceda said the program is an initiative of the provincial government based on the "Pledge of an Albayano" to make the province the most livable place in the country.

The caravan being done in Barangay Maninila, the third leg of the program, also services residents of barangays Taloto, Taplacon, Panoypoy and Mabunga – all in Camalig town.

It provides health, social, livelihood, public safety, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and other relevant and necessary services to the villagers. (PNA) PDS/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Army-NPA clash forces 81 families to flee homes in Sorsogon town

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA) -- An encounter between Army troopers and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Sunday afternoon in Barangay Upper Maalo, Juban, Sorsogon, forced at least 81 families to scamper for safety, a report reaching the PNA Tuesday morning said.

The report said soldiers belonging to the 31st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and a band of NPA guerrillas clashed at about 3 p.m. on Sunday in the upland village of Upper Maalo, some eight kilometers from the town proper.

As a result, the report added, 81 villagers caught in the crossfire immediately fled to neighboring villages.

Reline Arellano, public information officer of Juban town, said villagers started to evacuate to safer grounds at about 6 p.m. Sunday when the firefight intensified as the military sent two government helicopters to reinforce the men on ground with heavy gunfire at the area where the NPA rebels were sighted.

Arellano said Juban town officials immediately sent foodstuffs, blankets and medicines to the evacuees.

Bernardo Honra, village chief of Barangay Upper Maalo, allowed the 81 families to return home after given clearance by Juban officials when the situation returned to normal on Monday.

Army Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar, 9th Infantry Division spokesperson, confirmed that the Army's 31st IB engaged the services of two helicopters from the Philippine Air Force Technical Operations Group 5 in pursuing the NPA rebels.

Aguilar said "it is very unfortunate that civilians were affected during the armed skirmishes that took place on Sunday."

He, however, justified the military operation as move to drive away the armed group that were lording it over unarmed and defenseless civilian communities.

"We are very cautious in the conduct of security operations to ensure the safety of civilians, which is our primary consideration," Aguilar added.

He said several encounters between Army troopers and NPA rebels took place over the weekend in various villages in the towns of Magallanes, Bulan and Juban on Saturday and Sunday.

The first encounter occurred at about 4:50 p.m. on Saturday in Barangay Tula-Tula Sur in Magallanes town where a 45-minute firefight happened, resulting in the recovery of improvised explosive devices and backpacks, Aguilar said.

Another 20-minute engagement took place at the vicinity of Barangay Lapinog, Magallanes, at about 9:30 p.m. where one soldier was wounded during the clash.

In Bulusan town, NPA rebels fired at an Army detachment in Barangay Porog, Bulusan at about 11 a.m. Sunday. No casualty was reported. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD

P600-M mall project in Legazpi City breaks ground
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA) -– City officials, the business sector and church representatives led the groundbreaking Tuesday for the construction of the P600-million four-storey Liberty Commercial Center Mall at the burnt old public market here.

Councilor Rolly Rosal said the Legazpi City government and the management of LCC Mall agreed to implement the project in the two-hectare commercial area at the heart of the city.

Rosdal said construction will start as soon as possible and will last for 20 months.

Edgar Alejo of the LCC Mall information office said the P600-million mall project is part of their company’s expansion in the six provinces of the Bicol region.

With the project, LCC, the oldest commercial center in the city, will create thousands of jobs not only in Albay but also in the entire Bicol, Alejo said.

“It is part of the multibillion-peso investments that entered the city this year alone,” Rosal said.

Rosal disclosed that LCC Mall will pay more than P5.7 million in the form of taxes yearly in 10 years once it starts operation.

After 10 years, he said there will be an increase in tax payment. (PNA) LAM/FGS/NIM/CBD

DAR installs new director for Bicol under rationalization plan

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA) -– The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has assigned a new regional director for Bicol in an effort to achieve a mission-focused organizational structure under the agency’s approved rationalization plan.

Luis Bueno Jr. recently assumed the position, replacing lawyer Ma. Celestina Tam who was reassigned with the DAR’s Legal Service Department at its central office in Quezon City.

Bueno is considered a seasoned agrarian reform operator with his extensive experience, starting with his stint as Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer in various provinces of the Southern Tagalog Region before his assignment as assistant regional director for Operations in the Calabarzon area.

He started his career with the DAR during the early implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law in 1988.

“I am looking forward to unity among the Bicol DAR workforce, particularly that the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms is nearing its end,” Bueno added.

In relinquishing the post to Bueno, Tam said her new assignment is a big challenge to her, given the very big responsibility attached to it.

“My six-year stint as DAR-Bicol regional director served as a training for this new post,” she said.

Tam is credited for the aggressive reforms she instituted with the DAR-Bicol, the latest of which is her “One DAR Policy,” which she calls “DARamayan Bikolnon (Bicolano Unity) in identifying areas for the “radiation scheme” in reducing the high balance in land acquisition and distribution.

She also spearheaded the first ever partnership with the Philippine Coconut Authority in the implementation of the Coconut Seedling Dispersal Project, benefiting agrarian reform communities in the region under the Agrarian Reform Communities Projects II.

The rationalization plan made some movements affecting agrarian reform officers in various provinces of Bicol wherein Rodrigo Realubit was pulled out from Camarines Sur-A and assigned as assistant regional director for operations vice lawyer Miguel Gracilla who was recalled as chief legal officer of DAR-Camarines Norte.

These changes in assignments are based on a special order issued by DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes last August, according to Bueno. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

CamNorte gov’t introduces lapu-lapu fish culture to fisherfolk
By Danny O. Calleja

DAET, Camarines Norte, Sept. 24 (PNA) –- The provincial government of Camarines Norte has introduced lapu-lapu (grouper) culture as a potential money-maker for the province’s fishing communities.

The project, which has initially provided for the release of over 500 grouper fry in cages built by the Samahan ng Mangingisda ng SitioTabadyak (SMST) ng Barangay San Pedro, Jose Panganiban town, is supervised by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist-Fisheries Development Division (OPAg-FDD).

Materials, including fish nets in the putting of the cages, were provided free by the provincial government but expenses for the fry and feeds that it also shoulders for the first culture season will be collected from the SMST from the marketing proceeds of their full-grown lapu-lapu fishes.

The grouper fry were acquired by the provincial government from the commercial producers in Western Visayas, its major source in the country, OPAg-FDD supervising agriculturist Edgar Estanislao said here Tuesday.

Grouper, locally known as “lapu-lapu,” is one of the most expensive and commercially important fish species in the country being valued for the excellent texture and flavor of its flesh, as well as its great potential in aquaculture.

The fish that grows fast and attains marketable size of about 500 grams body weight in six to eight months of culture, depending on the environmental conditions and farm management skills employed, is farmed commercially in brackish water fishpond and net cages.

The grouper industry in the Philippines is developing rapidly mainly due to its export potential.

However, its growth and development is constrained by the lack of seeds supply and trash fish feed.

The domestic market is primarily the big hotels and seafood restaurants in cities, particularly Metro Manila, which pay about five times the normal price for any live grouper weighing between 400-1,000 grams body weight.

At present, the supply of grouper fry for commercial cage or pond production still depends on the wild.

However, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center-Aquaculture Department and other progressive fin fish hatchery operators are refining their brood stock and seed production techniques.

In due time, these hatcheries will be able to supply fry and fingerlings. Grouper fry are collected from tidal rivers, estuaries and coastal bays and their availability is seasonal -- although in some areas, grouper juveniles are available all year round, with a peak in November to June.

The Lapu-Lapu Culture Project, according to Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo Tallado, is the provincial government’s response to the call by local fishery communities for opportunities to more stable source of livelihood amid the bad effects of climate change on the fisheries industry.

Funded through the five-percent Local Risk Reduction Management Fund of the provincial government, the project is also aimed at increasing the province’s fish production for food security, according to Tallado.

The OPAg-FDD will also assist the fishermen group in the marketing of the fishermen’s produce under the project, he added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Bicol celebrates nat'l maritime week
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) -- It is but fitting that the country commend and honor the heroism of Filipino seafarers in national and international waters, a top regional official of the Philippine Ports Authority said.

PPA Bicol Regional Manager Rosenda G. Sumagaysay said the celebration, the 18th year commemoration of the Maritime Week in the country, started Sunday and will end on Sept. 29.

“We have almost one-half million seafarers in the Philippines – 400,000 navigating all around the world and more than 60,000 based in our country,” Sumagaysay said during the opening ceremonies for the Maritime Week celebration here.

The Maritime official cited the great sacrifice that the Filipino seafarers do for their family and their contribution to the economic growth of the country.

The occasion also centered on the commitment of the Philippines to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or more known as “Rio 2012, Rio+20.”

The conference agreed to form a Green Economy Roadmap for the 192 countries that are members of United Nations, including the Philippines.

Sumagaysay said PPA is spearheading the celebration in the region with sub-theme "Going Green in PPA Ports."

Assisting PPA are other agencies under the Dept. of Transportation and Communications like the Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, PNP Maritime Group as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Regal Arrastre and Stevedoring, Inc., and Mariners’ Polytechnic Colleges Foundation.

Featured activities in the celebration of the Maritime Week are: Eucharistic celebration, launching of the first-ever port park in Bicol ports, opening of the mural painting contest, motorcade in major streets of Legazpi City, port greening seminar program and educational field trip aboard vessel, seminar on marine pollution and environmental laws, search and rescue drill, boodle fight, mangrove planting, coastal clean-up and cultural night.

Sumagaysay said similar activities are being done in the ports of Tabaco and Pioduran in Albay, Matnog and Bulan in Sorsogon, Pasacao in Camarines Sur, Virac in Catanduanes at Masbate City.(PNA) HBC/FGS/NIM/CBD/

Legazpi cited as PHl's most effective LGU in IT business management
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) – This city has been cited as the country’s “Most Effective LGU (Local Government Unit)” in the field of information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) last year.

The good news was relayed to City Mayor Noel Rosal Monday by Arrish Altavano, head of the Legazpi City Information and Communication Technology Council (LCICTC), who said the citation came from the Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) and Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).

Altavano said the city showed its capability in attracting clients and hosting major IT-BPM activities for sustainable growth of the industry, thus, the citation.

The same acknowledgement was also given to the (LCICTC) that worked closely with the LGU in maintaining the IT-BPM industry growth in the city following its entry in 2011 into the country’s Next 10 Wave Cities (NWC), IBPAP president Jomari Mercado said in a statement.

LCICTC is a private organization that oversees the development of the local IT industry.

For his part, DOST Secretary Montejo said that with the IT-BPM industry’s significant contribution to the Philippine economy, the government is keen on supporting the expansion of voice and non-voice services to locations with the potential to support and sustain their growth.

Montejo revealed this recently in acknowledging the latest entries to the 10 Next Wave Cities judged by the IBPAP last year as best current or potential IT-BPM hosts based on talent, infrastructure cost and business environment and risk management (BERM)

In the latest list of entrants, Metro Naga (Naga City and Pili, Camarines Sur) joined this city in the club covering Bicol.

The others from different parts of the country are Baguio City, Davao City, Dumaguete City, Iloilo City, Lipa City, Metro Bulacan (Baliuag, Calumpit, Malolos City, Marilao, and Meycauayan City); Metro Cavite (Bacoor City, Dasmariñas City and Imus City); Metro Laguna (Calamba City, Los Baños, and Sta. Rosa City); and Metro Rizal (Antipolo City, Cainta, and Taytay).

Montejo said the DOST-ICTO will help both local and international investors make location decisions by assessing these cities as essential contribution to boosting national economic growth and job generation inclusive by spreading it from established to emerging IT-BPM hubs.

This year, Bacolod City has been elevated to the status of Center of Excellence for IT-BPM operations, joining the ranks of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Clark as a premier IT-BPM host and a high-density location, he said.

Montejo said Bacolod City has been on the NWC list for three years, increasing job generation by 68 percent, and creating over 12,000 employment opportunities in 2010 from only 2,154 in 2007.

Local stakeholders have also been aggressively marketing Bacolod City to large global companies and sustaining hosted operations, he added.

For the first time, DOST-ICTO and IBPAP also honored this year the best locations in talent, infrastructure and business environment and risk management (BERM).

These special citations are based on the original criteria of the NWC scorecard for each category.

Metro Cavite received the top score (99 percent) for talent availability with 17,000 graduates within the area covered, a workforce of over 1.2 million (of which 47 percent are professionals), two programs with Commission on Higher Education-certified Center of Excellence for Teacher Training and Center of Development for IT Education, and 95 percent of its absorptive workforce capacity still available for locators.

For infrastructure, Metro Laoag scored a perfect 100 percent after DOST-ICTO and IBPAP considered its quality of roads, availability of hotels, presence of international and domestic airports, frequency of domestic and international flights, and availability of office space in Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-certified buildings.

Iloilo City was named the top location for BERM (96 percent) because of its low vulnerability to natural disturbances and business friendliness.

A perfect score for BERM means that a location has at least four approved sites by the PEZA, is not covered by a travel advisory, has an ICT Council, has very low vulnerability to natural disturbances and a crime rate of less than two percent. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD

Salceda to press on ecosystem management during world ecotourism summit
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA)—Albay Governor Joey Salceda has expressed hope that his participation as resource speaker in the forthcoming World Ecotourism Conference (WEC) will provide a strategic policy that will articulate the importance of ecotourism in managing the ecosystem.

“I hope that my humble interventions and views at the conference will convey to world travel industry leaders the message that ecotourism does not only mean creating jobs for local people but also taking care of the fragile ecosystem,” he said here on Monday.

Salceda has been invited by Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. as speaker in the 5th WEC organized by the DOT along with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Its theme is “Marine and Coastal Ecotourism: Ocean of Uncertainties, Waves of Opportunities.”

The conference will take place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu on Dec. 13-15, this year and UNWTO Secretary-General Talib Lafai is expected to deliver a keynote address on its opening.

Salceda who is internationally noted as environmental and ecotourism champion will speak on the topic “Coastal Communities: Eliminating Poverty through Sustainability” wherein he will present Albay’s successful ecotourism strategy while sustaining the province’s programs on environmental care as part of its climate change adaptation policy.

The governor’s ecotourism initiatives for Albay have made the province top gainer in visitor arrivals, posting a 49-percent increase last year.

His administration now adopts a new tourism program that opens the province to chartered international flights to fly in tourists from key travel markets such as China, Korea and Russia.

Under his chairmanship, Salceda has also moved the Regional Development Council into forming the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Tourism Alliance (AlMaSorTA), a clustering of Bicol’s southernmost provinces which provides a package that enhances the area’s structural attractiveness in synergistic positioning and branch franchising.

A new marketing strategy and packaging of the tourism industry and prospects for these provinces under the branding “Soul of the South” is now being applied in this project.

In his invitation letter to Salceda, Jimenez said other tourism and environment ministers from different countries as well as eminent and renowned speakers from public and private sectors have also been invited to contribute to the conference their wisdom and knowledge.

Participation of tourism and environment officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will also reinforce the common resolve to cooperate on ecotourism development in the region. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DA pushes e-learning for Bicol farmers in finding solution to farm problems
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Sept. 23 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol regional office is educating Bicolano farmers on the use of social media in looking for immediate solution to farm problems.

This is the intention of the E-Learning and Farmers Contact Center projects that the DA's Regional Field Unit (RFU) is implementing under its E-Extention Program for Agriculture and Fisheries in cooperation with the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and the Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC).

The program is new and as a starting mark for its implementation, the RAFC, in partnership with the Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council (PAFC) of Camarines Norte, held a meeting at the Technology Livelihood Center in Labo town and discussed its mechanics.

In attendance in this gathering are officers of various farmers' organizations, municipal agriculture extension workers, local government officials and other stakeholders that are considered the key players in the implementation of the program.

Similar meetings are also set in all the other provinces of Bicol (Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon) so that the program that will primarily involve agricultural extension workers of local government units will become a regionwide undertaking.

"We do not expect most Bicolano farmers to have Internet access to be able to log on but we are making use of the over-a-thousand agricultural extension workers employed by local government units in the region in doing it for them," DA regional executive director Abelardo Bragas said over the weekend.

In the case of Camarines Norte farmers, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist is offering the facilities of its Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center for their social media access needs, according to Bragas. Perhaps, after these E-Learning training sessions are done in all the other five Bicol provinces, local governments can also provide to their farmers facilities similar to the Camarines Sur FITS Center, he suggested.

The RAFC is also pushing on putting up Farmers Contact Center in each of the six Bicol provinces to provide farmers the services of social media facilities, Bragas said.

Through social media, farmers can also be provided with knowledge in new agriculture technologies, get information on agricultural programs being pursued by both the government and private agencies and locate potential markets for their products, among other useful matters that are readily available in the Internet, Bragas said.

He said part of the E-Learning program is farm waste management and conversion of garbage to organic fertilizer, environmental care and new farm projects that could serve as alternative sources of income.

The program is being implemented in cooperation with the National Food Authority, National Irrigation Administration, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Coconut Authority and provincial governments, Bragas added. (PNA) LAP/PTR/FGS/DOC/CBD

Number of child-bearing teen-agers in Bicol doubles in 5-year period

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) -- The number of teenagers in the Bicol region aged 15-19 who have begun childbearing and have given birth to their first child has doubled from 2006 to 2010.

This was disclosed Monday by an advocate of the reproductive health who based her allegation on the 2010 Family Health Survey of the National Statistics Office.

“While the rate of teen pregnancy in Bicol is lower compared to other regions, the doubling of incidence needs to be looked into and addressed,” according to Chi Laigo Vallido, advocacy specialist of Forum for Family Planning and Development, a non-government organization based in Quezon City but working in several provinces in the country, including Albay.

Vallido, however, did not give statistics for the five-year period.

She said her NGO admires the local government of Albay for engaging in reproductive health issues head-on amid the realities on teenage pregnancy, “that’s why we supported the First Adolescents Congress of the province and we hope that other provinces will also be inspired.”

Various student leaders from 15 towns and three cities of Albay convened in Sto. Domingo town for the First Adolescents Congress over the weekend where they discussed the pressing issues being faced by the youth today -- such as reproductive health, education, poverty, substance abuse, disaster risk reduction and other issues affecting the youth here.

According Vallido, the Philippines has the highest cases of teenage pregnancy in Asia wherein 20 percent of maternal deaths came from teenagers.

Following the increasing case of teenage pregnancy across the country, at least 500,000 to 800,000 cases of induced abortion took place annually, according to the study, Vallido said.

“Before, the youngest teenage pregnancy reported was 15 years old but currently the youngest pregnancy occurrence is 12 years old,” she said.

An estimated of 14 to 15 women, Vallido added, die every day due to childbirth and pregnancy related complications in the country.

“Filipinos have fought for the passage of the RH Law for more than 14 years. With this delay, what does this mean for Filipinos who have been waiting for the RH Law?” she said.

“While Albay is lucky in the sense that their local leaders are determined to address adolescent RH issues, other provinces remain indifferent. That’s why we need to implement the RH Law now,” batted Nilda Devera of Health Action Information Network.

The RH Law or RA 10354 was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino 111 on Dec 17, 2012, however, the implementation of the enacted law was put on hold by the Supreme Court after anti-RH groups questioned the constitutionality of the law.

The court issued a status quo ante-order to hear the oral arguments between pro- and anti-RH groups. (PNA) HBC/FGS/RBB/CBD/UTB

USAID, Albay gov't to implement B+WISER Program
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) -- To address the drivers of biodiversity loss and deforestation in six identified areas in the province of Albay, the provincial government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will jointly implement the Philippines Biodiversity & Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program in a five-year period, starting 2014.

The project will cover flood control, irrigation, rehabilitation of river dikes (protective walls), and river rehabilitation in Ligao City and the municipalities of Libon, Guinobatan, Camalig, Oas and Polangui, officials said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will handle the land use planning, river basin and water management.

Aside from biodiversity activities, agriculture-related development assistance will also be implemented by local government units covered by the project, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and Fiber Industry Authority.

Edmundo Bailon, PCA Albay manager, said agriculture-related activities included plain and lowland farming and production technology, farm inputs, rural infrastructure, farm-to-market roads, marketing and product support; crop development, production improvement and expansion support/assistance like coconut, abaca, ipil, high-value crops, highland vegetables, coffee and others.

He said the actual project cost will be determined, depending on the project proposal per component.

The B+WISER Project helps generate financial incentives for biodiversity and forestry conservation and build capacity for sustainable watershed management in the Philippines, Bailon said.

The DENR will handle the implementation of infrastructure-related projects, with the DA and PCA handling agriculture-related activities and concerned local government units as co-implementing agencies.

The B+WISER project, funded by the USAID, aims at building capacity to manage forests areas at the national and sub-national levels and plans to contribute to disaster risk reduction programs.

The USAID intends to award a cost-plus-fixed-fee completion-type contract for a period of five years from the date of award with an estimated cost not to exceed a million.

Revealing the estimated cost of the contract does not mean that offerors shall necessarily strive to meet the maximum amount estimated, the USAID clarified.

Offerors must propose costs that they believe are realistic and reasonable for the work described in Section C of this solicitation, it added.

The most effective approach to achieving the expected results is encouraged and award will be made to the offeror whose proposal offers the best value to the government, considering technical and cost factors.

In the proposal of the DENR, five towns and one city were identified to be the areas covered for the implementation of the B+WISER program.

The Philippines is one of the few nations that is considered both a hotspot and a geographically diverse country.

The B+WISER Project is a great boost in the government’s efforts to conserve and protect its biodiversity.

The Philippines is also one of the world’s biologically richest countries with many endemic species confined to forest fragments that include the Philippine Cuckatoo, the Visayan Wrinkled Hornbill, the Negros Forest Frog and the enormous Philippine Eagle. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MDR/CBD/

12 cops rescued after boat sinks off Albay west coast

CAMP GEN. SIMEON OLA, Legazpi City (PNA) -– Crewmen of a passing roll-on, roll-off vessel rescued 10 members of the Philippine National Police and two civilians about six hours after the victims' motorized boat capsized at about 11:00 a.m. Sunday in the sea off Barangay Pantao, Libon town in Albay west coast.

Insp. Malou Calubaquib, PNP Bicol regional spokesperson, identified the rescued police officers as PO2 Roderick Macararanga, PO1 Mario Protacio Alay, PO1 Liomar Aguinaldo, PO1 Jose Garo, PO1 Erwin San Juan, PO1 Randy Barquilla, PO1 Gerwin Villanueva, PO1 Herbert Cantre, PO1 Jose Redita Jr., and PO1 Gomar Batiancila Jr. – all assigned with the 1st Maneuver Company of the 5th Regional Public Safety Battalion based in Sitio Calumpang, Barangay San Rafael, San Pascual, Masbate.

The rescued civilians are Rene Rosellosa and Michael Ongotan, boat crewmen of M/B Felix owned by one Alex Ocampo, and residents of the town.

Calubaquib said the rescuers found the victims at about 5:00 p.m., Sunday, clinging to pieces of wood and bamboo parts of the boat.

She said the police officers were going to Camp Gen. Simeon Ola for their physical fitness program in the regional office and hired the boat to ferry them to Pantao Port.

The boat was hit by strong waves brought by the southeast monsoon, causing seawater to accumulate inside the sea craft and made it sink.

The victims immediately clung to the boat and whatever they could hold on to and remained in that condition for about six hours before they were rescued by the passing cargo-passenger vessel.

Calubaquid said the service firearms and personal belongings of the police officers sank in the sea.

The victims were immediately brought to a hospital in Pio Duran town for immediate treatment. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Team Albay Countryside Development Caravan in Camalig town Tuesday

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) -- The Team Albay Countryside Development Caravan will hold its third leg in Barangay Maninila, Camalig town on Tuesday.

Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda will lead local officials of Camalig headed by Mayor Carlos Baldo, regional directors of national government agencies, non-government and civic organization heads and Team Armed Forces of the Philippines members.

Salceda said the caravan is the local initiative of the provincial government of Albay based on the Pledge of an Albayano to make Albay the most livable province.

"The initiative is aimed at bringing the government closer to the people," he said.

The services being undertaken are social services, health, livelihood, agriculture, veterinary services, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation training, peace and order and other related and necessary services.

Embodied also in the Albayano pledge is that he or she was born lovable under the shadow of Mayon Volcano, respectful, jolly, industrious and strong even in times of stormy weather and calamity.

The pledge also cites the aspirations of an Albayano, his duties to his family, fellowmen, country, environment and God.

The caravan Tuesday will service the clustered barangays of Maninila, Taloto, Taplacon, Panoypoy at Mabunga in Camalig.

The first leg of Team Albay Caravan was held in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, while the second was in Barangay Sinungkatan, Guinobatan, for the clustered villages in these areas.

Salceda said the convergence effort will continue up to December this year and will involve 44 barangays. (PNA) FFC/PTR/FGS/NIM/CBD

Phivolcs alerts residents near Mayon on lahar flow
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) -– The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) is warning residents around Mayon Volcano to be always on alert against the threat of lahar flow in this time of strong and sustained rains.

Dr. Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, said there are still some 50 million cubic meters of lahar deposits in river channels of the volcano brought about by past eruptions.

Aside from this condition, Laguerta said there could be sudden explosions or ash puffs and steam-driven phreatic eruptions from the summit.

He also cited the possible rolling down of rocks from the summit or slopes of Mayon, as well as landslides and avalanches at the middle to upper slopes of Mt. Mayon.

In this connection, Laguerta reminded the public about the strict implementation of the ban on human activity within the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone around Mayon.

Alert level one is still raised on the volcano, meaning it is still under abnormal condition.

“There is, however, not threat of magmatic eruption at present,” Laguerta assured the public.(PNA) LAM/FGS/NIM/CBD/

Monday, September 23, 2013

US Marine Corps humanitarian mission now in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA) -- Thirty-six United States Marine Corps personnel arrived at the Legazpi City Airport with medical and engineering supplies at 11:00 a.m. Sunday on board two USMC C-130 transport aircraft for the PHL-US Amphibious Landing Humanitarian Exercises here.

Commodore Natalio Abinuman, commanding officer of the Philippine Navy’s (PN) Naval Forces in Southern Luzon (Navforsol), other officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Office of Civil Defense and representatives from the Provincial Government of Albay welcome the USMC humanitarian and engineering team.

The two cargo planes came from Okinawa, Japan where the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit are stationed, US Marine Major Grace Janosek, USMC team leader, said.

Janosek said in a briefing that the PHL-US Amphibious Landing Humanitarian Mission will start on Wednesday until Oct. 10 this year and conduct engineering works and health services in the villages of Taysan, Victory Village and Bigaa in this city.

She said the PHL-US Amphibious Landing Exercises currently being undertaken in the country involve three phases: the Table Top PHL-US military planning exercise in Subic, Zambales and Clark in Pampanga; Amphibious Military combat exercise in Subic and Clark and in Ternate, Cavite; and humanitarian (med-cap, engineering) services in this city.

It is the fourth mission to be held in Albay, citing that similar humanitarian mission was held by the US Pacific Angel in 2010, USS Peleliu in 2007, RP-US Balikatan in 2009.

Janosek said the event is not a combat exercise, but purely humanitarian, civic assistance and capacity-building efforts.

She said the humanitarian assistance is expected to provide free medical and other health-related services to more than a thousand indigent beneficiaries and repair school buildings.

The mission leader said the USMC brought along two doctors, a dentist and medicines and other medical supplies for two-day medical and dental services in the elementary schools of barangays (villages) Bigaa and Victory Village here.

The engineering units will construct a 60-meter perimeter fence and repair three classrooms destroyed by typhoons at the Taysan Elementary School, in Barangay Taysan an upland village some five kilometers south of the city proper.

Abinuman said a similar number of personnel from the Navforsol, Army and the Provincial Health Office will be assigned as the PHL counterpart to the humanitarian mission here.

He said the AFP will also provide the necessary security assistance to the visiting USMC personnel to ensure no harm will happen to them during the exercise.

The navy officer said the humanitarian mission in Albay, specifically in this city, was considered since the province is known in pursuing effective disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation initiatives.

He said it is aimed at improving bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and the United States wherein the two countries will exchange experiences on matters concerning defense agreements and humanitarian services.

Albay is one of the most disaster-prone areas in the country and has many success stories to share on DRRM and CCA.

It also has institutionalized civil-military cooperation in disaster preparedness and response. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/EMC/CBD/RSM

Labor sector in Bicol seeks P37 hike in daily wage

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA) -- The labor sector in Bicol is asking for a P37.16 increase in the daily wage of agricultural and non-agricultural workers in the region.

The amount of increase is contained in a joint petition recently filed with the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) by the Alliance on Progressive Labor, Pinagkaisang Manggagawa sa Kooperatiba sa Kuryente-Bicol and the Camarines Sur Electric Cooperative Independent Union Employees (CINDUEM).

The petitioners justify the amount of increase as recovery of real wage in the amount of P66.43 for non-agriculture and P60.11 for agriculture which the sector sought in a petition last year but was not granted in full.

They are also asking for the activation of the Regional Tripartite Monitoring Board to ensure compliance by employers in the region with the new minimum wage that the RTWPB is expected to set based on the petition.

DOLE Regional Director Nathaniel Lacambra, who also sits as RTWPB chair, said the board will start a series of public hearings on the petition in all the six provinces of Bicol early next month.

The hearings, expected to be attended by management and labor representatives, are scheduled on Oct. 3 in Masbate, Oct. 8 in Catanduanes, Oct. 10 in Sorsogon, Oct. 17 in Camarines Sur, Oct. 18 in Camarines Norte and Oct. 21 in Albay, Lacambra said.(PNA) PDS/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

Salceda to present Albay tourism strategy to WTO ecotourism confab

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA) --Department of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. has invited Albay Gov. Joey Salceda to present the province’s successful tourism strategy to the 5th World Ecotourism Conference (WED) slated in Cebu City on Dec. 13-15, this year.

The conference, themed “Marine and Coastal Ecotourism: Ocean of Uncertainties, Waves of Opportunities,” is organized by the DOT and the DICOVERYMICE, an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

In his invitation letter to Salceda, Jimenez said “the conference will bring together policy makers, stakeholders and global ecotourism players to network, collaborate and share their experiences, good practices and technologies for the betterment of nature conservation, environment protection, preservation of indigent communities and consequently, the advancement of ecotourism around the world.”

The conference will allow the private sector, academe and civil societies to pool their resources and realize common aims and objectives of supporting national and international programs on conservation and protection of marine and coastal resources, Jimenez added.

Salceda has accepted the invitation and said he will be speaking on the topic “Coastal Communities: Eliminating Poverty through Sustainability.”

Salceda is internationally noted as environmental and ecotourism champion with his aggressive policies on climate change adaptation leading to the province’s natural disaster resilience and programs on ecotourism, among them the formation of the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Tourism Alliance (AlMaSorTA).(PNA) PDS/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

Friday, September 20, 2013

Female NPA finance officer in Sorsogon surrenders to authorities

SORSOGON CITY, Sept. 20 (PNA) -– A female finance officer of the New People's Army on Thursday surrendered to military authorities here, a Philippine Army officer said Friday.

Army Capt. Arthur Eamiguel, Army’s 903rd Infantry Brigade spokesperson, said Loradel Esquilon, alias Ka Sisa and Ka Megan, logistics and finance officer of the Komiteng Probinsyal Sorsogon, voluntarily surrendered to the 31st Infantry Battalion in Juban, Sorsogon.

He said Esquilon also surrendered her M16 rifle with magazines, ammunition and subversive documents.

Brigade officials presented Esquilon on Thursday to Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee.

Eamiguel said Esquilon’s voluntary surrender qualified her to avail herself of the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

Under the CLIP and the AFP’s Guns for Peace Program, Esquilon received P50,000.00 as part of the firearms renumeration package and other existing government assistance coming from government line agencies.

Esquilon, a resident of Matnog, Sorsogon, and the only daughter of a farmer, said she joined the underground movement in 2005 after graduating from high school because of the rebels’ promise of a better life and monetary support.

Inside the movement, she said, she underwent training and studies and later, was trusted by Andres Hubilla alias Ka Magno, a top NPA leader in Sorsogon, to become the finance and logistics officer of the central committee in Sorsogon province.

Esquillon confided that she had held money reaching as much as P3 million every month in revolutionary tax collection from businessmen, construction companies, government officials and local politicians.

The former NPA rebel said they would collect more money during election period from the imposition of permits to campaign or win.

She described her experience in the rebel movement as full of danger and hardship because of the continuous operation of the military against them.

“This experience and the constant threat of being raped by my commander, especially when he is drunk, made me return to the fold of the law,” Esquilon claimed.

She explained that Ka Magno had always made repeated sexual advances while she was in the organization and that life in the hinterlands was so difficult that she was prompted to leave the movement.

Esquilon confided, however, that there were other female NPA members who were unfortunate victims of Hubilla’s mundial desires.

She said she decided to formally come out into the mainstream society only this year after she was convinced of the good programs of the government for NPA surrenderers.

Col. Joselito Kakilala, 903rd IB commander, criticized the Communist Party of the Philippines for violating the rights of the female NPA members. (PNA) HBC/FGS/EMC/MSA/CBD/

DPWH sets up 4 motorist assistance centers for Our Lady of Penafrancia celebration

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 20 (PNA) -- The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Bicol regional office has again set up four motorist assistance centers in Camarines Sur as a road protection measure for the celebration of the Our Lady of Penafrancia on Sept. 18-23.

Lucy Castaneda, DPWH spokesperson, said in an interview Friday that Danilo Dequito, DPWH Bicol regional director, ordered the reactivation of at least four district motorist assistance teams in anticipation of the influx of devotees and visitors from other provinces and regions to Naga City to celebrate the feast of the patroness of Bicol.

Dubbed as “Lakbay Alalay”, the assistance centers were reactivated in coordination with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government units (LGUs).

Castaneda said the centers will be manned by engineers, car mechanics, equipment operators and service crewmen who will be ready to extend free roadside emergency assistance to motorists.

The Lakbay Alalay centers were put up at the national highway in Barangay (village) Gaongan in Sipocot town; Barangay Concepcion Grande in Naga City, Barangay Sta. Teresita in Baao town and Barangay Caraycayon in Tigaon town -- all in Camarines Sur. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD

Village security man shot by NPA rebels, critical

CAMP GEN. SIMEON OLA, Legazpi City, Sept. 20 (PNA) – A barangay tanod (village volunteer security man) is now in critical condition after New People’s Army (NPA) rebels barged into his house and shot him on Friday morning in Barangay San Fernando, San Pascual, Masbate.

A police report identified the victim as Romeo Cantuba, 34, married, a volunteer security man of San Pascual town.

The report said Cantuba and his family were still asleep at about 5:30 a.m., Friday, when 10 armed rebels suddenly entered their residence and looked for firearms allegedly in his possession.

The awakened victim sensed danger and immediately ran outside their house but the suspects shot him on his head and body.

The rebels casually left after failing to find firearms at Cantuba’s house.

Authorities are now investigating the incident. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

NPA rebels fire at policemen in tree planting activity, kill 1

CAMP GEN. SIMEON OLA, Legazpi City, Sept. 20 (PNA) –- New People’s Army (NPA) rebels fired at police officers conducting tree planting activity, killing one of them and wounding another in Barangay Buyo, Claveria, Masbate, at about 7:30 a.m., Friday.

Insp. Malu Calubaquib, Bicol police regional spokesperson, identified the slain police officer as PO1 Randolf Alegre who was hit on the head, and the wounded as PO1 McDonald Casi who sustained a gunshot wound.

Casi was brought to the Claveria District Hospital.

Both Alegre and Casi are members of Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB).

Calubaquib said members of the Claveria Municipal Police Office and the 5th RPSB were having a tree seedling-planting activity Friday morning when the rebels fired at them and hit Alegre, who died on the spot.

She said the tree-planting participants rushed toward safety to avoid getting hit by stray bullets from either armed group.

The activity was being led by local government officials of Claveria and Department of Environment and Natural Resources personnel and joined by police officers and community members.

Other police officers immediately responded, resulting in a brief firefight.

The rebels fled from the scene where police recovered one Garrand rifle, one cal. 9mm pistol, 1 cal. 38 pistol, empty shells of M-16 Armalite rifle and M-14 rifle and anti-government documents, which the rebels left behind in their hurried retreat.

Police and military men are now in hot pursuit of the fleeing rebels. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD