Sunday, June 30, 2013

Outgoing Legazpi City mayor cites accomplishments in Ulat sa Bayan

LEGAZPI CITY, June 30 (PNA)-- Outgoing Legazpi City Mayor Carmen Geraldine B. Rosal on Friday told Legazpi residents they have less worry on the problem of flooding in many parts of the city due to the rehabilitation of the Pili bridge and replacement of the old culvert-type canals with deep and wide line-box type ones in the downtown area of the city.

The move, Rosal said, aimed to avoid clogging that had caused massive flooding in the city during rainy season.

“The rehabilitated waterways are part of our preparation for the installation of pumping stations at the mouth of the rivers in the villages of Victory, Bonot, San Roque and Dap-Dap,” the lady mayor said in her last ”Ulat sa Bayan” or State-of-the-City address at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.

Together with the departments of tourism and of public works and highways, Rosal said, her administration has rehabilitated the Karangahan Park, formerly known as the Imelda Park, in Barangay Barriada, constructed a seaport near the Embarcadero de Legazpi and a fish port in Barangay Dap-dap.

Under her leadership, the city has undertaken a number of road concreting and improvements in different parts of the city, particularly in the villages going to the area of the Southern Luzon International Airport being constructed in nearby Daraga town, she added.

“When proper time comes to operate the said airport, our city will become the gateway of Bicol and all kinds of tourist personalities will visit first Legazpi before they go to other places of the region,” Rosal added.

Other infrastructure projects constructed under her leadership are the newly rehabilitated Albay public market, new City Engineering Office at Barangay Dap-dap, city slaughterhouse, newly renovated Office of the Sangguniang Panlunsod, City Prosecutor’s Office, Taysan barangay market, water system in Barangay Banquerohan, re-channelization and repair of flood control structures at various rivers and creeks.

The city also has newly installed modern street lights and solar road lights at the villages of Lamba, Dap-dap, Victory, Puro-Lamba Road, Rizal Street and its other streets.

These, she said, were partly made possible by the very efficient tax collection of the City Treasurer’s Office that provided a financial lifeline in the operation of her administration.

The lady chief executive pointed out that her administration has rehabilitated old classrooms and built school buildings with modern facilities and equipment in different villages, particularly in the far-flung barangays of the city.

“We have also students under the Local Government Unit of Legazpi and the Bicol University Tertiary Education Extension Program (LGU-BU-TEEP). Recipients of this program are those students who cannot afford to pay their tuition in higher education,” Rosal added.

In the field of health service, the outgoing chief executive said her administration has established three lying-in clinics with modern facilities and equipment.

These are located in Barangay Banquerohan in the southern part, in Buyoan that covers the northern part of the city and the last one is in the main office of the city health department.

The three clinics are operating 24 hours a day by professional doctors, midwives and other medical staff.

She said her administration has established Botika sa Barangay units in different villages of the city and conducted feeding program, diet counseling, nutrition lectures, blood-letting activities and other related health services in the 70 villages of the city to keep people away from deadly diseases like dengue, malaria, typhoid, and other dangerous diseases.

Rosal also cited accomplishments in terms of employment opportunities especially in business process outsourcing, tourism, environmental protection

Her administration got the Red Orchid Award of the Department of Health (DOH) for three consecutive years (2010-2012) for its anti-smoking ordinance, best Local Government Unit in practicing Business Permit and Licensing Reforms and the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi during the term of the late Jesse Robredo as Department of Interior and Local Government secretary for demonstrating exemplary performance in Administrative Governance, Social Governance and Environmental Governance.(PNA) PDS/FGS/MPS/CBD/

Outgoing Legazpi City mayor cites accomplishments in Ulat sa Bayan

LEGAZPI CITY, June 30 (PNA)-- Outgoing Legazpi City Mayor Carmen Geraldine B. Rosal on Friday told Legazpi residents they have less worry on the problem of flooding in many parts of the city due to the rehabilitation of the Pili bridge and replacement of the old culvert-type canals with deep and wide line-box type ones in the downtown area of the city.

The move, Rosal said, aimed to avoid clogging that had caused massive flooding in the city during rainy season.

“The rehabilitated waterways are part of our preparation for the installation of pumping stations at the mouth of the rivers in the villages of Victory, Bonot, San Roque and Dap-Dap,” the lady mayor said in her last ”Ulat sa Bayan” or State-of-the-City address at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.

Together with the departments of tourism and of public works and highways, Rosal said, her administration has rehabilitated the Karangahan Park, formerly known as the Imelda Park, in Barangay Barriada, constructed a seaport near the Embarcadero de Legazpi and a fish port in Barangay Dap-dap.

Under her leadership, the city has undertaken a number of road concreting and improvements in different parts of the city, particularly in the villages going to the area of the Southern Luzon International Airport being constructed in nearby Daraga town, she added.

“When proper time comes to operate the said airport, our city will become the gateway of Bicol and all kinds of tourist personalities will visit first Legazpi before they go to other places of the region,” Rosal added.

Other infrastructure projects constructed under her leadership are the newly rehabilitated Albay public market, new City Engineering Office at Barangay Dap-dap, city slaughterhouse, newly renovated Office of the Sangguniang Panlunsod, City Prosecutor’s Office, Taysan barangay market, water system in Barangay Banquerohan, re-channelization and repair of flood control structures at various rivers and creeks.

The city also has newly installed modern street lights and solar road lights at the villages of Lamba, Dap-dap, Victory, Puro-Lamba Road, Rizal Street and its other streets.

These, she said, were partly made possible by the very efficient tax collection of the City Treasurer’s Office that provided a financial lifeline in the operation of her administration.

The lady chief executive pointed out that her administration has rehabilitated old classrooms and built school buildings with modern facilities and equipment in different villages, particularly in the far-flung barangays of the city.

“We have also students under the Local Government Unit of Legazpi and the Bicol University Tertiary Education Extension Program (LGU-BU-TEEP). Recipients of this program are those students who cannot afford to pay their tuition in higher education,” Rosal added.

In the field of health service, the outgoing chief executive said her administration has established three lying-in clinics with modern facilities and equipment.

These are located in Barangay Banquerohan in the southern part, in Buyoan that covers the northern part of the city and the last one is in the main office of the city health department.

The three clinics are operating 24 hours a day by professional doctors, midwives and other medical staff.

She said her administration has established Botika sa Barangay units in different villages of the city and conducted feeding program, diet counseling, nutrition lectures, blood-letting activities and other related health services in the 70 villages of the city to keep people away from deadly diseases like dengue, malaria, typhoid, and other dangerous diseases.

Rosal also cited accomplishments in terms of employment opportunities especially in business process outsourcing, tourism, environmental protection

Her administration got the Red Orchid Award of the Department of Health (DOH) for three consecutive years (2010-2012) for its anti-smoking ordinance, best Local Government Unit in practicing Business Permit and Licensing Reforms and the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi during the term of the late Jesse Robredo as Department of Interior and Local Government secretary for demonstrating exemplary performance in Administrative Governance, Social Governance and Environmental Governance.(PNA) PDS/FGS/MPS/CBD/

Outgoing Legazpi City mayor cites accomplishments in Ulat sa Bayan

LEGAZPI CITY, June 30 (PNA)-- Outgoing Legazpi City Mayor Carmen Geraldine B. Rosal on Friday told Legazpi residents they have less worry on the problem of flooding in many parts of the city due to the rehabilitation of the Pili bridge and replacement of the old culvert-type canals with deep and wide line-box type ones in the downtown area of the city.

The move, Rosal said, aimed to avoid clogging that had caused massive flooding in the city during rainy season.

“The rehabilitated waterways are part of our preparation for the installation of pumping stations at the mouth of the rivers in the villages of Victory, Bonot, San Roque and Dap-Dap,” the lady mayor said in her last ”Ulat sa Bayan” or State-of-the-City address at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.

Together with the departments of tourism and of public works and highways, Rosal said, her administration has rehabilitated the Karangahan Park, formerly known as the Imelda Park, in Barangay Barriada, constructed a seaport near the Embarcadero de Legazpi and a fish port in Barangay Dap-dap.

Under her leadership, the city has undertaken a number of road concreting and improvements in different parts of the city, particularly in the villages going to the area of the Southern Luzon International Airport being constructed in nearby Daraga town, she added.

“When proper time comes to operate the said airport, our city will become the gateway of Bicol and all kinds of tourist personalities will visit first Legazpi before they go to other places of the region,” Rosal added.

Other infrastructure projects constructed under her leadership are the newly rehabilitated Albay public market, new City Engineering Office at Barangay Dap-dap, city slaughterhouse, newly renovated Office of the Sangguniang Panlunsod, City Prosecutor’s Office, Taysan barangay market, water system in Barangay Banquerohan, re-channelization and repair of flood control structures at various rivers and creeks.

The city also has newly installed modern street lights and solar road lights at the villages of Lamba, Dap-dap, Victory, Puro-Lamba Road, Rizal Street and its other streets.

These, she said, were partly made possible by the very efficient tax collection of the City Treasurer’s Office that provided a financial lifeline in the operation of her administration.

The lady chief executive pointed out that her administration has rehabilitated old classrooms and built school buildings with modern facilities and equipment in different villages, particularly in the far-flung barangays of the city.

“We have also students under the Local Government Unit of Legazpi and the Bicol University Tertiary Education Extension Program (LGU-BU-TEEP). Recipients of this program are those students who cannot afford to pay their tuition in higher education,” Rosal added.

In the field of health service, the outgoing chief executive said her administration has established three lying-in clinics with modern facilities and equipment.

These are located in Barangay Banquerohan in the southern part, in Buyoan that covers the northern part of the city and the last one is in the main office of the city health department.

The three clinics are operating 24 hours a day by professional doctors, midwives and other medical staff.

She said her administration has established Botika sa Barangay units in different villages of the city and conducted feeding program, diet counseling, nutrition lectures, blood-letting activities and other related health services in the 70 villages of the city to keep people away from deadly diseases like dengue, malaria, typhoid, and other dangerous diseases.

Rosal also cited accomplishments in terms of employment opportunities especially in business process outsourcing, tourism, environmental protection

Her administration got the Red Orchid Award of the Department of Health (DOH) for three consecutive years (2010-2012) for its anti-smoking ordinance, best Local Government Unit in practicing Business Permit and Licensing Reforms and the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi during the term of the late Jesse Robredo as Department of Interior and Local Government secretary for demonstrating exemplary performance in Administrative Governance, Social Governance and Environmental Governance.(PNA) PDS/FGS/MPS/CBD/

Landslides reported in Masbate due to bad weather

LEGAZPI CITY, June 30 (PNA)-- Bad weather brought about by typhoon "Gorio" caused two minor landslides in Masbate on Saturday, one of which led to the temporary closure of a road.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Bicol regional director, said prompt response by the District Engineering Office, eventually rendered the road in Barangay Panisijan, Uson, Masbate passable by Sunday morning after clearing operations.

Also in Masbate province, 18 families in Barangay Bolod, San Pascual town, were evacuated in San Pascual Elementary School, Terraplin Elementary School and the municipal building, according to Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, Masbate Provincial Police Office director.

There was a minor landslide in Barangay Terraplin, Olitoquit said.

He added that there were six cruise craft units, two cargo vessels, 20 fishing vessels and 136 passengers that were stranded on Saturday.

In Albay, Gov.Joey Salceda said 2,309 families or 11,691 persons living in 14 flood-prone villages in the towns of Sto. Domingo, Libon, Oas, Pioduran and Jovellar were moved to safer grounds on Saturday afternoon.

The Philippine Coast Guard said stranded passengers in various ports in Bicol as of yesterday stood at 2,999 passengers, 259 trucks , 83 small vehicles, 66 passenger buses, 26 roll-on-roll-off vessels and 18 motorized bancas. (PNA) PDS/FGS/MSA/CBD

Vietnamese ship grounds off Legazpi City

MANILA/LEGAZPI CITY, June 30 (PNA) --The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Sunday announced that a Vietnamese vessel ran aground off Legazpi City, Albay as the province was being buffeted by adverse weather caused by Tropical Storm "Gorio" on Saturday.

The Coast Guard stated that the ship, M/V Minh Tuan 68, was originally anchored off Legazpi Port when the heavy weather pushed it to a shallow part of Barangay San Roque.

The PCG is now conducting search and rescue operations for at least five crewmen of the ship. There was no initial report of injuries.

The Coast Guard also warned residents not to get near the vessel due to the risk of storm surge.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro,Office of Civil Defense(OCD) Bicol regional director,on Sunday said the incident took place at about 3:00 p.m. Saturday,when the vessel that was previously anchored at about a hundred meters from the Legazpi City port was swept by strong waves towards the nearest coastal village.

Alejandro said in a text message that the vessel drifted towards the shore because the vessel’s crewmen could not start the engine as its fuel tank was empty.

The cargo vessel, which is operated and owned by Ming Truong Shipping Lines, brought cargo in this city last September 2.

The Bureau of Customs and the PCG have impounded the vessel since September last year after it was involved in transporting 94,000 bags of smuggled rice from Vietnam.

The ship is also facing charges from the PCG for violation of maritime environmental regulations.

Legazpi City Mayor-elect Noel Rosal said the city is looking for a tug boat that will tow the cargo vessel back to the deep portion of the Albay Gulf. (PNA) PDS/PFN/FGS/MSA/CBD/

Saturday, June 29, 2013

DOLE taps village officials on Kasambahay Law consciousness
By Rey M. Nasol

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27 (PNA) -- The regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here is optimistic that some 300 barangay officials in selected areas of the province of Camarines Sur and Sorsogon, particularly the town of Juban, now fully understand the "Batas Kasambahay."

The DOLE expressed this optimism after the conduct of training for two batches of village officials entitled the Barangay Empowerment Training (BeT) for the Camarines Sur leg on June 19-21 and June 24-26 at the Concourse Convention Center here.

The BeT is the first-ever advocacy strategy implemented by DOLE which directly interacts with barangay officials.

It is a series of advocacy-training being participated by barangay chairmen, SK chairmen, councilors, secretaries and other officials.

The training was conducted in partnership with the Bicol Information Research and Development Center and the local government units’ Public Employment Services Office units regionwide.

Aside from the Batas Kasambahay, the barangay officials were also trained on: How to access DOLE and OWWAs’ livelihood programs, preparing a project proposal, anti-illegal recruitment, child labor and basic labor laws.

The concept of the DOLE-BeT emerged after several barangay officials had inquired from DOLE about its livelihood programs and the Batas Kasambahay, DOLE Bicol regional director Nathaniel V. Lacambra said.

“This is an attempt to break the deadlock in information dissemination. All throughout, we have been going around barangays, which has cost us a lot of manpower, time and money, Lacambra explained.

With the passage of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the recently signed RA 103611, otherwise known as Batas Kasambahay, and in line with the directive of Labor Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz to initiate a massive information campaign on the new law in the barangay level as soon as possible, the DOLE-Bicol initiated the advocacy strategy designed to cover the 3,482 barangays regionwide.

To cover the entire region, it is divided in 11 batches, starting with the barangays of Camarines Sur and will finish with the barangays of Catanduanes on Aug. 1-3.

The BeT sequence of schedules per province is as follows: Camarines Sur, Albay, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes.

Through the help of the various PESOs and the League of Barangays presidents in distributing the invitations, the BeT is projected to be able to saturate the 3,482 Barangays of the entire region as scheduled. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RMN/CBD

Rural banks’ bankruptcies traced to success of ‘5-6’ lending scheme B
y Manilyn Ugalde

NAGA CITY, June 27 (PNA) – The proliferation of the illegal and unabated “5-6” lending scheme, especially practised by Indian businessmen, has become a very lucrative investment activity in the country that its strong operation has been traced as one of the major factors for the bankruptcies of many rural banks (RBs), according to a Central Bank (CB) official here.

CB Naga City branch manager Danny Calumag said money borrowers find loans from 5-6 lenders readily available and involve no paper work.

According to him, the “5-6” loan strategy starts with a small amount and involved daily collections.

The amounts of loan progress as the borrowers show good paying performance.

This practice, Calumag said, has been in the country for so many decades now, with the lender, especially an Indian national, merely using a bicycle, then motorcycle.

Now they use luxury vehicles, with luxurious residences and capable of putting up good competition with rural banks in a particular community as what happened to many rural banks in Camarines Sur.

Calumag lamented that of the 35 towns and cities with rural banks in Camarines Sur, only 30 percent have remained operational, in Naga City alone.

Among those that have closed shop due to bankruptcy were the Rural Bank of Nueva Caceres, Camarines Sur Cooperative Bank, Farmers Bank, and Golden 7 Bank.

The Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. of the province has noted the strong operation of 5-6 lenders notably catering most in towns without rural banks.

Former Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Lito Tuanqui said 5-6 lenders abound everywhere.

He wondered why the government appears helpless in eradicating this type of underground economy.

“Only in the Philippines,” Tuanqui lamented.

He noted that while the underground economic activity involves 20-percent interest monthly charged on borrowers, the interest income is not covered by withholding and income taxes since these are illegal.

Calumag said the present low bank’s deposit interest of only 0.5-1 percent and the withholding tax imposed also discourage community traders from putting their money in banks.

He said many Filipino investors have also found investments in rural banks as burdensome with the P10 million capital requirement that the CB has imposed.

He, however, said that with Republic Act 10574, foreign investors are now given up to 60 percent ownership and control on rural banks operation. This would make RB operations competitive and strong, he added, saying RA 10574 is what foreign investors have been waiting for.

Calumag clarified that under RA 10574, the fear of fleeing capital outside the country is strictly guarded, saying its movement is regularly monitored and audited.

The CB official said that under the said law giving foreign investors 60 percent investment and control rights, many RBs are expected to open operation.

Calumag said high loan interest rates and heavy paper requirements really discourage businessmen from borrowing from commercial and rural banks.

He urged rural banks to simplify loan requirements, saying this is one big factor to attract borrowers and depositors.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/

DOH-Bicol insists e-cigarettes not safe
By Danny Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 29 (PNA) -- When there is smoke, there is risk.

This is how the regional office for Bicol of the Dept. of Health simplified its resolve that electronic cigarette is not, after all, a healthy substitute to tobacco.

An e-cigarette, also known as personal vaporizer, is an electronic inhaler that vaporizes a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, simulating the act of tobacco smoking.

“It should not be considered as substitute to typical tobacco products since e-cigarettes still emit smoke that contain harmful substances,” DOH regional director Gloria Balboa said here Friday.

She was speaking during culminating activities for the National No Smoking Month organized by the Albay provincial government.

The activities were highlighted by the forming of the giant human no smoking sign in a try by the province to set a record for the Guinness World Records participated in by 13,892 people.

The event was at the sprawling ball grounds of Bicol University here where the human formation that occupied a 5,033-square-meter area illustrated the internationally-recognized no-smoking sign featuring a lighted and smoking cigarette inside a red circle and backlash with a white background.

Balboa said e-cigarettes are no longer marketed as smoking cessation aids or tobacco replacement in most countries following findings on the health hazards they pose.

There may be similarities between conventional and some electronic cigarettes in the physical design and in the nicotine released, which approximates the same amount as a conventional cigarette, according to the DOH regional chief, citing the findings.

The World Health Organization said no rigorous, peer-reviewed studies have been conducted showing that the electronic cigarette is a safe and effective nicotine-replacement therapy.

Although WHO does not discount the possibility that the electronic cigarette could be useful as a smoking cessation aid, it insisted that claims that gadget can help smokers quit need to be backed up by clinical studies and toxicity analyses and operate within the proper regulatory framework.

According to Wikipedia, proponents of electronic cigarettes often claim that these deliver the experience of smoking while eliminating the smell and health risks associated with tobacco smoke.

They claim that base liquids -- which include propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and sometimes polyethylene glycol 400 -- have been widely used as a food additive, as a base solution for personal care products such as toothpaste, and in medical devices such as asthma inhalers.

However, the health effects of inhaling their vapor into the lungs are a subject of uncertainty.

E-cigarettes, Balboa said, give tobacco addicts more or less the same amount of nicotine as a conventional cigarette.

Last year, she said the American Lung Association issued its own warning about e-cigarettes, saying the product may actually be more harmful than traditional cigarettes since the doses of nicotine in an e-cigarette can be higher than a typical cigarette.

While e-cigarettes have been gaining favor among Filipinos as higher tobacco taxes make smoking more expensive, the Food and Drug Administration said that wittingly or unwittingly, the electronic cigarette promotes smoking among children and the youth, given that it makes them less fearful of hazards and risks of the vice.

The FDA also tested a small sample of the contents of e-cigarettes few years ago and found a number of toxic chemicals including diethylene glycol -- the same ingredient used in antifreeze.

The findings forced the FDA to issue a nationwide health warning.

Balboa reiterated that smoking is the cause of four deadly diseases--obstructive pulmonary diseases, lung cancer, kidney diseases and diabetes.

It harms not only the smoker but also persons who may inhale second hand smoke.

Classified by the International Agency for Cancer Research as a carcinogen, second-hand smoke has been the cause of death of more than 600,000 people each year worldwide, of which 168,000 or 28 percent are children.

According to Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, the province’s try for the world record in the most number of people arranged in formation to create a no-smoking sign at a single venue delivered a message saying “living a tobacco-free life is more healthful these days in any community such as Albay.”

“This gives relevance and meaning to the implementation of the Albay Smoke-Free Ordinance and to instill awareness among Albayanos on the ill-effects of smoking and its hazards to the environment,” he said.

Through its smoke-free drive, Albay is promoting healthy lifestyle as tobacco smoking kills at least 10 Filipinos every hour and threatens one-third of the Philippine population that are at risk of dying from debilitating diseases due to tobacco use. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Comelec to enforce gun ban during 45-day barangay, SK election period
By Danny Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 29 (PNA) –- The Commission on Elections will impose a gun ban during the 45-day period covering the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

The ban takes effect starting Sept. 28 until Nov. 12, which covers 30 days before and 15 days after the date of the elections.

Comelec Regional Director Romeo Fortes on Friday said here that under the law, no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places during the election period unless authorized in writing by the commission.

The same law says “only regular members or officers of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces and other enforcement agencies of the government who are duly deputized in writing by the Comelec for election duty may be authorized to carry firearms during the period.”

However, Fortes said, when in the possession of firearms, the deputized law enforcement officer must be in full uniform, showing clearly and legibly his name, rank and serial number which shall remain visible at all times and in the actual performance of his election duty in the specific area designated by the commission.

During the period, he said, no candidates, including incumbent officials seeking election, shall employ or avail themselves of or engage the services of security personnel or bodyguards -- whether or not such bodyguards are regular members or officers of the PNP, AFP or other law enforcement agencies.

When circumstances, however, warrant -- including but not limited to threats to life and security of a candidate -- he or she may be assigned by the commission, upon due application, regular members of the police or military who shall provide him security for the duration of the election period, Fortes said.

The officers assigned for security duty to a candidate shall be subject to the same requirement as to wearing of uniforms unless exempted in writing by the commission, he said.

Also during the election period, Fortes said “issuance of appointments, promotions, creation of new positions, or giving of salary increases in government offices, agencies or instrumentalities are prohibited.”

In the same way, transfer and detail of officers and employees in the civil service -- including public school teachers, and suspension of any elective provincial, city, municipal or barangay officer -- are not allowed.

Raising of funds through benefit dances, lotteries and cockfights, among other forms of fund-raising activities, is also forbidden based on the provisions of Omnibus Elections Code.

Fortes said qualified voters in Bicol should register to be able to vote in the Oct. 28 barangay and SK elections.

Those who voted for SK elections in 2010 and already qualified for the barangay elections need to register again to be able to vote.

Qualified to register for SK elections are Filipino citizens who are at least 15 but below 18 years of age on Oct. 28; actually residing in the barangay for at least six months on election day; and those not otherwise disqualified by law, Fortes said.

Registrations to be conducted by municipal election offices regionwide will start on July 22 and end on July 31, he added. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD

Albay forms world largest human no smoking sign for Guinness World Records
By Mar S. Arguelles and Rhaydz Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, June 28 (PNA) –- Some 13,892 Albayanos, out of 17,000 who registered from all walks of life led by Gov. Joey S. Salceda showed determination to form the world’s largest human no smoking sign for the Guinness World Records Friday at the Bicol University football grounds here.

Braving the heat of the morning sun and amid an atmosphere of fun, thousands of highly spirited people from the academe, national government agencies, local government units, private establishments, religious groups and civil society organizations converged as early as 6 a.m., Friday, in two designated assembly points – one at the Albay’s Penaranda Park and the other was in the BU oval grounds.

Salceda personally supervised the province's attempt to form the world biggest human anti-smoking sign.

He said he was optimistic that Albay’s endeavor to get the world record for the purpose would officially get the GWR not as they have complied with all the requirements set by the world records recognizing body.

The GWR confirmation would depend on the submission of written, photo and video documentation, including the validation of designated witnesses.

The release of the official confirmation, Salceda said, would take two to three weeks from to date.

Based on the GWR present record, the first biggest human no smoking sign was formed by only 250 individuals.

Salceda said the successful outcome of the event would put the province as a record holder for forming the world largest no smoking sign.

“We were privileged to be given an opportunity by the Guinness World Records to prove that we indeed can produce the world largest human no smoking sign,” the governor said with full enthusiasm.

Salceda, UN global champion on disaster risk reduction for local government unit, said what the Albayanos have done will convey a strong message that “living a tobacco-free life is more healthful these days in any community such as Albay.”

He said Albay has survived volcanic eruptions, massive flash floods, lahar flows, earthquakes and super typhoons and has gotten more resilient against all types of natural and man-made disasters.

“This time, we also want to tell the whole world that we can, at the same time, conquer the deadly habit of tobacco smoking in our communities,” Salceda said.

Video men and photographers on board two helicopters provided by the Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group 5 documented the historical event.

An automated counting system was used to validate the number of participants clad in hooded long-sleeved shirts divided into three colors: red, white and black.

These three colors were based on the internationally-recognized no-smoking sign featuring a lighted and smoking cigarette inside a red circle and backlash with a white background.

Salceda said the original plan was for only 13,000 people--7,263 of them to wear white shirts to form the background, 3,605 in red for the circle and backlash and 892, black for the cigarette and smoke images.

“We used the bar-coded identifying system, which is among the acceptable counting methods based on GWR’s guidelines,” he said.

It took the event organizers four hours to fully put in place the 13,892 participants that enthusiastically formed the no smoking sign, occupying the 5,033-square-meter space within the BU football grounds.

Herbert Borja, Sangguniang Panlalawigan board member and Smoke-Free Albay Network chair, said there had been glitches but they were not that serious to hamper the whole event as remedial measures were immediately done.

The event, organized by the province through the Smoke-Free Albay Network, is an advocacy campaign initiated by province against smoking.

It was highlighted by the public signing by Salceda of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Albay Smoke-Free Ordinance, signaling its full implementation in the province.

To date, the cities of Legazpi, Ligao, and Tabaco and the towns of Daraga and Guinobatan are in the forefront of implementing and enforcing the local anti-smoking laws.

Salceda stressed that with the signing of the IRR, a province-wide implementation will take effect even in other towns that have not passed a local ordinance against smoking.

The Philippine National Police rerouted the traffic flow along the J. P. Rizal St, a national road network that links the town of Daraga and this city, as early as 4 a.m. Friday.

The event ended at 10:30 a.m.

Though it created a huge traffic jam with hundreds of vehicles stalled along the J. P. Rizal Street for about an hour, everybody went home satisfied and fulfilled. (PNA) HBC/FGS/MSA/RBB/CBD

Bicol readies for Gorio's winds; 2,107 passengers stranded

LEGAZPI CITY, June 29 (PNA) – At least 2,107 passengers have been stranded in various major ports in Bicol after Tropical Storm Gorio intensified.

This prompted the weather bureau to raise public storm signal number two in five Bicol provinces, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Saturday.

The RDRRMC said the Coast Guard suspended Saturday morning all maritime operations in all Bicol ports due to stormy weather that has stranded not only 2,107 passengers but also 118 trucks, 46 passenger buses, 65 cars, 21 roll-on-roll-off vessels and 11 motorized bancas.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense regional director and RDRRMC chair, said all local disaster councils in Bicol had been advised to be on heightened alert as Gorio intensified into a tropical storm.

Alejandro also directed all Armed Forces units, the Philippine National Police and other disaster agencies to put on standby their respective disaster response units and assets for immediate mobilization once the bad weather worsens.

The OCD advisory also urged local disaster councils to closely monitor the situation, especially in areas prone to flooding and landslide and report any untoward incident caused by the weather disturbance.

In Albay, Gov Joey Salceda advised local disaster councils to be on high alert for possible flooding and landslide as moderate-to-heavy rains are expected as Gorio hits Bicol.

Salceda also renewed his warning to residents near river channels not to cross flooded waters and swelling rivers.

He asked law enforcers to strictly implement the “no sailing” order for small sea craft and fishing boats.

Salceda ordered all local DRRMCs to activate their respective operation centers for preparedness meeting and close monitoring of weather bulletins and PDRRRMC advisories through its Infoboard and for timely application of countermeasures for disaster avoidance in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Based on the advisory of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geographical and Astronomical Services Administration said that at 4 a.m. today, the center of Tropical Storm Gorio was estimated based on all available data at 100 kms east of Borongan City with maximum sustained winds of 65 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph moving northwest at 15 kph.

Public Storm Warning Signal No. 2 has been raised for Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate -- including Burias, Ticao Island, Samar provinces, Biliran and Leyte;

Public Storm Warning Signal No.1 has been raised for Camarines Norte, Quezon, Polillio Island, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, Metro Manila, Aklan, Capiz, Northeastern Iloilo, Bantayan Island, Camotes Island, Southern Leyte, Dinagat Province and Siargao Island.

The entire Bicol region is experiencing cloudy skies with light to moderate rains. (PNA) HBC/FGS/MSA/CBD/

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sorsogon’s ‘baluko’ makes exotic delicacies for seafood lovers
By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY, June 27 (PNA) – Fried, adobo or cooked in coconut milk with lot of chili to taste like the super hot “Bicol express,” baluko -- a meaty shellfish which has been a popular wet market commodity here -- makes exotic delicacies for seafood lovers.

Baluko is actually the pen shell (Pinnidae) whose meat looks like a hybrid of scallops and mussel with some tentacle-like extensions.

This mollusk has a long, triangular or wedge-shaped shell and attached to rocks or shells in sandy, shallow ocean bottoms.

A stiff pen shell can be up to 12 inches long and 6.5 inches wide.

It has a brown or purplish-brown color and 15 or more radiating ribs that fan out across the shell.

It may also have erect, tubular spines and found on sandy bottoms in shallow water.

It attaches with its byssal threads, pointed end down.

Pen shells have considerable economic importance here as food and, according to Serafin Lacdang, head of the Fisheries Division of the Provincial Agricultural Office, they produce pearls of moderate value.

Along the approach of the seaport here, residents of a squatter colony -- mostly fishermen, sell fresh meat of this mollusk from P35 to P60 per kilo (depending on the volume of stocks) and make it available to buyers who come for it every day.

The fishermen display the shells in huge containers filled with seawater to keep them alive and preserve their freshness.

They extract the meat from the shell for buyers and one problem is the dumping site for the empty shells that now end up being dumped into the nearby waters to become garbage, causing siltation and pollution of the sea floor.

Since empty shells have been serving as nuisance, Lacdang said, studies are now being conducted on how to come up with an industry out of it.

In other countries, he said, material made from the holdfast is being utilized in the manufacture of clothing such as gloves, shawls, stockings and cloaks.

Apparel made from this material has an attractive golden hue and this item was greatly valued by the ancients.

The shells are carved to form decorative articles and entire valves of larger specimens are sometimes used as plates, Lacdang added.

There are two versions of fried pen shell meat that Sorsogueños do -- one is to simply season it with salt and pepper, then deep fry it in a pan for a few minutes.

Another way to do it is to coat it with a butter made up of flour, salt and pepper before deep frying.

The plain and buttered pen shell meat tastes the same, except that the latter has more texture and crunch in them which most eaters prefer.

The fried meat is crunchy on the outside and a bit chewy, the round part of the meat tastes like scallops, too, and the tentacle like extension are like bland and less chewy versions of squid tentacles.

It is eaten with plain vinegar dip or spicy vinegar dip which is a mixture of vinegar, garlic, onion and chili.

“I totally enjoyed my first encounter with this type of shellfish. I have yet to find pen shell meat markets outside Sorsogon so cooking and eating baluko is definitely on my 'to do' list for our next trip to the city,” according to Eleonor Mesa, a summer vacationer from Manila.

“Adobong baluko is a delicacy which became my instant favorite during my week-long stay and you can call it destiny because every day, so many pen shells are unloaded from the bancas at the pier,” she said.

According to Lacdang, pen shells are filter feeders, and eat small particles passing through the water.

They have a scallop-like adductor muscle (the muscle that opens and closes the shells) and are edible.

They also produce black pearls which may be used in jewelry, he said.

Sorsogon Bay is home to this shellfish species that has emerged as the second top earner for local fisherfolk next to green mussel here, Lacdang said.

“We have a lot of this species now because the five years of red tide infestation of Sorsogon Bay, starting from 2007 to 2012, gave way to its growth and preservation as harvesting, selling, transporting and eating them have been banned like all other shell fish species from the bay,” he said.

Boyet Levantino, a pen shell diver from Barangay Talisay that covers the seaport, said he could harvest around 500 shells in a day’s outing and sells these himself to buyers along the port.

“I make an average of P1,000 in net income daily from this,” he told the PNA in Sorsogueño dialect.

He said buyers come and go on a daily basis and some tourists and visitors would buy in bulks as a take-home food item.

Mila Duran, a street side eatery operator, said most of her customers prefer baluko Bicol express a Bicolano native concoction that is made up of long chili, coconut milk and plenty of garlic.

The dish is named that way (derived from the Philippine National Railways train, Bicol Express, plying Manila-Bicol route) because it is so peppery hot that it can send one on an express trip to the showers.

Bicol express concoction is originally a lot of red and green chili stripped of their pulp and seeds and shredded or cut in diagonal strips and cooked with fatty pork and “alamang.”

The coconut milk is boiled down and reduced to almost just the shiny oil rather than the creamy. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

NASA to take pictures of Albay’s huge human no smoking sign
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27 (PNA) – Organizers of Albay province’s attempt to set a world record for the biggest human no-smoking sign are expecting the National Aeronautics and Scientific Administration (NASA) to take from outer space photographs of the event that will take place here on June 28.

“NASA is highly considering it based on information relayed to us by an official source,” provincial board member Herbert Borja said on Wednesday here.

Borja is the head of the Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN), a civil society group working with the provincial government in the project that will attempt to set the record for the most number of people arranged in formation to create a no-smoking sign at a single venue.

NASA is civilian agency of the United States federal government with the mission of conducting research and developing operational programs in the areas of space exploration artificial satellites, rocketry and space telescopes and observatories.

It is also responsible for international cooperation on space matters.

The US space agency operates an International Space Station (ISS) capable of taking images of the Earth as part of its scientific activities.

Images are acquired using hand-held digital cameras that are onboard the ISS.

These off-the-shelf cameras and a variety of lenses allow astronauts to capture images of Earth from the unique perspective of space and at varying resolutions.

Sometimes the ISS takes images of Earth just to reveal its beauty from space.

These images allow people to enjoy the wonder and beauty of Earth.

Borja said NASA could take clear photographs of the human no-smoking sign using powerful cameras from outer space because of its huge size that will occupy a 5,033 square-meter portion of the Bicol University ball ground at its main campus here.

Some 15,000 people, who will be divided into three groups, are expected to attend.

The participants will be classified according to the three colors based on the internationally-recognized no-smoking sign featuring a lighted and smoking cigarette inside a red circle and backlash with a white background and will form the image.

Borja said the original plan was for only 13,000 people--7,263 of them to wear white shirts to form the background, 3,605 in red for the circle and backlash and 892, black for the cigarette and smoke images.

“Since we have now over 14,000 who have formally signified their intentions to join the historic event, we are sure to make the image clearer and more distinct and the colors are more vivid for aerial documentation based on Guinness World Record’s guidelines,” Borja said.

It is expected that the image to be produced by this number of people is an easily identifiable no-smoking sign on both short and far distances, he said.

NASA’s reported intention to photograph the event came as both national and international organizations are taking notice on Albay’s unique strategy in pushing for its advocacy against smoking in a global platform.

“We are already receiving messages of support from national and international groups and individuals commending our efforts,” Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said.

Among the early out-of-town supporters of the activity are Metro Manila Development Authority Chair Francis Tolentino, the Health Justice and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids organizations, he said.

As arranged, the Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group for Bicol will facilitate the aerial documentation of the event on board helicopters while the media community will participate in two ways -- conduct coverage or be part of the human no-smoking sign.

A total of 50 local media practitioners have so far signified to cover the event and 143 opted to be part of the human sign.

The event will culminate the series of activities that the provincial government and SFAN have prepared in the ongoing observance of the “National No Smoking Month” in the country, which is meant to raise awareness on the ill-effects of cigarette smoking and its hazards to the environment.

Salceda said the huge human no-smoking sign will deliver a message saying “living a tobacco-free life is more healthful these days in any community such as Albay.”

“This gives relevance and meaning to the implementation of the Albay Smoke-Free Ordinance and to instill awareness among Albayanos on the ill-effects of smoking and its hazards to the environment,” he said.

This is to protect and promote the right to health of the people of Albay and its visitors, specially non-smokers who, when exposed to second-hand smoke, may suffer heart attacks, he said.

Classified by the International Agency for Cancer Research as a carcinogen, second-hand smoke has been the cause of death of more than 600,000 people each year worldwide, of which 168,000 or 28 percent are children.

Through its smoke-free drive, the governor added, Albay is promoting healthy lifestyle as tobacco smoking kills at least 10 Filipinos every hour and threatens one-third of the Philippine population that are at risk of dying from debilitating diseases due to tobacco use. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DENR-5 names 2013 Saringaya awardees
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, June 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Bicol Regional Office announced Wednesday its 2013 Saringaya awardees that have made successes in environment management.

Saringaya is a Bicol term which means lush or abundance of growth. A synonymous Bicol word is “marambong.”

Gilbert Gonzales, DENR Bicol regional executive director, said this year’s Saringaya awardees for schools are: Bolos Elementary School of Irosin, Sorsogon, headed by Maria Ines P. Galon, Head Teacher II (Elementary Level); Magallanes National Vocational High School, Magallanes, Sorsogon, led by Harrietta A. Mirasol, Principal I (Secondary Level); and Universidad de Sta. Isabel, Naga City, under the leadership of Sr. Lourdes Albis, university president (Tersiary Level).

The winner for the Industry Category is Bacman Geothermal, Inc. of Bacon, Sorsogon, led by engineer Ireneo D. Itoses, plant manager, while the Local Government Unit Category award was given to Sta. Magdalena, Sorsogon headed by Mayor Alejandro Gamos, municipal mayor.

The awardees were chosen by a technical working committee headed by Regional Technical Director Pobleo M. Florece based on the meritorious accomplishments and impact to the community.

For instance, Gonzales said, the Bolos Elementary School established a vegetable garden using indigenous and recycled materials and help raise the environmental awareness of the community to adopt the same project in their households.

The Magallanes National Vocational High School initiated the establishment of a mangrove plantation that steered the community members’ interest and participation in the upkeep of their coastline and in watershed adaptation -- all of which were duly supported by the local government units and non-governmental organizations, thereby strengthening their collective environmental advocacy.

The Universidad de Sta. Isabel runs programs that educate its students and the public on environmental concerns, especially in the aspect of waste management from within and from outside the campus, that help address pressing environmental problems.

The school engages in greenhouse gas emission inventory, as well as linked with local, national and international organizations to strengthen its environmental advocacy.

Meanwhile, the Bacman Geothermal, Inc. was strongly considered for its exemplary greening legacy, the BINHI Project, its being a willing host of the Adopt-A-WildLife Species Program of the DENR, its participation in the development and management of a 450-hectare watershed area together with the Local Government Unit of Castilla, Sorsogon, and for involving itself in the provincial multi–sectoral forest protection committee of the province of Sorsogon.

In the Local Government Unit Category, Sta. Maria, Magdalena in Sorsogon was considered for being an exemplary LGU when it created its own Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office and Municipal Waste Management Board, for the re-establishment of materials recovery facilities in clustered barangays, and for the successful implementation of eco-friendly home and community program.

The municipality has pioneered the successful co–management with the private sector in the conservation of small watersheds to sustain the domestic needs of the communities.

The election committee has decided to confer special recognition to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office of Sorsogon LGU, Albay Park and Wildlife and Bicol Scuba Divers’ Foundation Inc. for their initiative to organize Integrated Coastal Management Council; expertise in wildlife rescue operation, for allowing the use of its rescue facilities that served as temporary shelters to wildlife confiscated, surrendered and turned over to DENR V; and for supporting reef cleanup activities in the coastal waters, respectively.

Over the years a total of 89 individuals and entities have been named Saringaya Awardees, including the late Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, who was cited for his achievements as Naga City mayor in 2002. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

AIDS hits 45 persons in Albay
By Cherry N. Acabado

GUINOBATAN, Albay, June 19 (PNA) – Forty-five persons have been infected with acute immune-deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in Albay, a provincial legislator said.

“And Bicol is one of the seven AIDS-infected regions in the Philippines," Board Member Herbert Borja, co-chairperson of the Albay Aids Council, revealed during the Basic 101 health workshop entitled “Revitalizing the Youth on Health and Nutrition” held in Casa Basilisa Resort here, 15 kilometers west of Legazpi City.

The workshop aims to increase awareness on health and nutrition among the youth, determine their level of knowledge on HIV/AIDS, and identify issues and concerns of young people on health services.

It was attended by students from various universities in Albay.

The workshop also dealt on the communicable and non-communicable diseases that affect young people and maternal mortality/death which has already recorded 16 dead mothers based on the data of the World Health Organization.

Miguel “Mike” L. De La Rama, event coordinator, explained the importance of health maintenance among the youths, focusing on adolescent reproductive health and proper hygiene.

“The youth are more exposed to the environment. They must have enough knowledge and awareness to prevent the occurrence of communicable and non-communicable diseases among them,” he stressed.

De La Rama said maternal mortality/morbidity is a problem of the country today.

Based on the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute National Nutrition Survey of 2008, 17 percent of the adolescents were underweight while 4.6 percent were overweight, he said.

“There are 1.1 billion adolescents worldwide today and one in every five people in the world is aged between 10-19 years old. One-fifth of the population is 15-24 years old, numbering 16.5 million. It is estimated that in the year 2030 it will reach 30 million,” De La Rama disclosed.

Don Bailon, from Albay AIDS Council, discussed the Philippine AIDS Law or Republic Act No. 8505, whose goal is to strengthen the Philippine National AIDS Council and promulgate policies and prescribes measures.

In February 13, 1998, Republic Act No. 8504 established the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998.(PNA) CTB/FGS/CNA/cbd

DOH exec calls for aggressive campaign vs HIV-AIDS in Bicol
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, June 12 (PNA) -- The head of the Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol has called for the adoption of an aggressive advocacy campaign to curb the rising number of people inflicted with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus-Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

Gloria Balboa, Department of Health (DOH) regional director, said local health officials are closely monitoring cases of people suffering from HIV/AIDs virus in Bicol after her office recorded 104 cases for the past two decades.

Balboa said the 104 recorded cases occurred from January 1984 to December 2012.

Topping the list of HIV-AIDS cases in Bicol were the provinces of Albay, with 42 cases, and Camarines Sur, 38.

The number of cases in other Bicol provinces are: Masbate, 9; Sorsogon, 8; Camarines Norte, 5; and Catanduanes, with only two cases.

“We do not know, yet, if there are new cases for January and February this year in Bicol because all social hygiene clinics report directly to the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) in Manila due to the strict confidentiality of such cases," Balboa explained.

Mike de la Rama, provincial action officer of the HIV-AIDS Albay Council, said in an interview Tuesday that of the 42 cases in Albay, majority involved are males with a median age of 30.

Based on health records, previous cases showed that the AIDS virus was acquired through heterosexual encounters but recently the social disease was traced to cases of “male having sex with male.” The council also monitored two HIV patients who have acquired the disease locally — meaning, the transmission originated from the province, De la Rama said.

Quoting a health report, he said that out of the 104 cases, eight Bicolanos have been undergoing anti-retroviral treatment here while the rest are enrolled either in Manila or in other regions.

Dr. Enrique Tayag, DOH assistant secretary, in his recent visit here said a total of 380 new HIV cases were recorded in January this year, the highest increase since the government began monitoring HIV/AIDS cases in 1984.

This number brought to 12,082 the number of people suffering from HIV-AIDS since 1984, and the number is still rising, Tayag said.

“This means that from an average of nine new cases every day the previous year, we now have 12 new cases every day. So, our total (of HIV/AIDS) cases has reached 12,082 since 1984,” he added.

This translates to 380 cases from February 2012 to January 2013.

This record is 79 percent higher than the 212 reported in January last year.

The 380 cases also included 37 overseas Filipino workers, 93 percent of whom are males and with a median age of 27 years (age range: 17-62 years), according to Tayag.

Dr. Alan Lucañas, HIV-AIDS Prevention and Control coordinator for Bicol, reiterated the ABCDEs in the fight against the disease which are: Abstinence, Be Faithful, Consistent and Correct condom use, Don’t use drugs and alcohol and right Education.

Tayag was also once quoted as saying that one should always carry a condom.

“Don’t believe those who say that condoms have holes and you cannot benefit from them. And always carry it with you,” he said.

He explained that when one has a condom always, it does not mean that he is a bad person.

“It’s like carrying an umbrella. If you have an umbrella, it does not mean that you want it to rain. You only want to have one, just in case it does rain,” he clarified. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/cbd/abb

DENR holds exhibit, fair on environment

LEGAZPI CITY, June 25 (PNA) -- To give interested individuals and the public in general a view into the nature and operations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Bicol regional office and its various line offices, the agency Monday afternoon opened its Environment Exhibit and Fair at the DENR V covered court in Rawis, Legazpi City.

The event is part of the annual observance of Environment Month this June and has the theme “Think-Eat-Save.”

“This exhibit will serve as a vehicle to let the public know that the DENR is doing its best to protect and preserve our environment," said Gilbert Gonzales, DENR Bicol regional executive director.

The exhibit and fair, will run until Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

During the opening program and touching on the theme of the celebration, Legazpi City mayor-elect Noel E. Rosal underscored the need to be judicious in the consumption of right food and right amount of food being provided by the environment.

Rosal said a large volume of food go to waste due to improper eating habit while countless other Filipinos go hungry.

“We should only prepare the right quantity of food that we need and can take. Let’s not waste food that should have otherwise gone to others who need them,” he added.

The different heads of the DENR line agencies – Land Management Sector, Forest Management Sector, Economic Research and Development Sector, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and Protected Areas, Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Service -- explained the roles and functions of their respective offices.

The exhibitors include the DENR-V and its line agencies, mining and energy sectors of Bicol, local government units, other government agencies, the academe and food and beverage companies.

Participating companies like the Goodfound Cement Corporation, Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project and Masbate Gold Project, among other firms, are showcasing their responsible operations, environmental protection and management, and social development and management programs.

The exhibit and fair is being hosted by the MGB-V headed by engineer Theodore Rommel E. Pestaño as regional director.(PNA) PDS/FGS/CBD

CamSur town aims to be Bicol’s top corn producer
By Danny O. Calleja

BATO, Camarines Sur, June 25 (PNA) -– Farmers in this third class town have clustered their farms into a vast area for corn plantation as the municipality aims to be Bicol’s top producer of the crop that is valued second to rice.

“Our farmers have been challenged by the Department of Agriculture (DA) into producing more corn that is very suitable to their farms in the plains and uplands and they accepted the challenge for more income and agricultural jobs,” Jeanette Bernaldez, the town mayor here, on Tuesday told the PNA.

That was during the recent holding here by the DA’s Regional Field Unit based in Pili, Camarines Sur, of a two-day consultation, planning workshop and preparation of the 2013-2017 development plan for corn, which was attended by around 50 key farmers from different barangays of the municipality, Bernaldez said.

In the gathering held last June 20-21, Alejandro Pili, the municipal agricultural officer, said under the plan formulated, the DA will provide the necessary infrastructure and post-harvest projects that would benefit the farmers, especially in the far-flung barangays.

Among the infrastructure projects are farm-to-market roads that will help alleviate poverty as more farmers will be encouraged to plant, given the easy access to market that it will provide – thus, reducing transportation cost and lessen deterioration of the quality of their produce.

To qualify as a cluster, the farmers must have a minimum area of 200 hectares for the plantation and after deliberations, the group was able to come up with 260 hectares out of their farms put together to form one huge plantation, Pili said.

With this, he said, the municipality will be part of the 35 farm clusters covering some 36,000 hectares of effective area planted to corn in Bicol.

While the municipality lies along Bato Lake that is home to various kinds of freshwater commercial fishes like tilapia, it also covers a large upland territory occupied by thousands of farmers.

“With the 260 hectares that we have, we will be emerging as the biggest among the clusters with the potential of becoming the region’s leading producer of corn,” Pili added.

In the newly formulated development plan for corn in the region, Eduardo Lomerio, the DA’s regional corn coordinator, said the agency is widely promoting corn for food and for health.

It is also addressing major issues and concerns that include low productivity due to low utilization of quality seeds, high production cost and high post-harvest losses which is recorded at 12.7 percent, according to Lomerio.

In the development plan, he said, DA is focusing its interventions on organized groups, that is why it is urging farmers to cluster their farms and form organizations.

Lomerio explained that corn is the second most important crop next to rice as its products constitute 4.5 percent of the Filipino diet.

If quantified, according to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), a Filipino consumes about 13 kilograms of corn and corn products per year or roughly 36 grams each day.

Lomerio said 12 million Filipinos prefer corn as their staple food and Bicol shares only 5.1 percent or 80,789 hectares of the country's total corn area.

About 42,000 families in the region are dependent on corn for livelihood.

Lomerio said the DA’s corn development plan for 2013-2017 seeks to increase production of quality corn for human consumption, feeds and industrial uses by increasing average yield from 3.21 metric tons (MT) to 5 MT per hectare in Bicol.

“We are expanding area planted to hybrid yellow corn and reduction of post-harvest losses by five percent,” he said.

For crop year 2006, DA records show that Bicol produced 142,264 MT of corn despite the calamities in the last quarter of the year.

Out of that produce, 92,472 MT were used as feeds, 18,978 MT were processed into food and non-food use while 23,799 MT for food grains.

The bulk of yellow corn production came from Camarines Sur and Albay while white corn came from Masbate.

With the recorded production in the region, Bicol shares 2.3 percent in the total production of the country.

Corn production from year 2000, which is the start of the corn clustering in the region, was recorded at 62,787 MT and increased to 142,262 MT in 2006, representing 126.6 percent.

The three major corn-producing provinces -- Albay, Camarines Sur and Masbate -- contributed 98.8 percent to the total corn production of the region.

The region obtained corn sufficiency in year 2005 with 102.18-percent production sufficiency ratio.

The province of Albay obtained 102.76 percent sufficiency in year 2002 while Camarines Sur obtained a sufficiency ratio of 105.65 percent in year 2005.

For 2006, the region obtained 103.95 percent sufficiency in corn.

In 2011, the region’s corn production rose to 215,025 MT and area at 108,243 hectares increased by 23.24 percent and 6.32 percent, respectively.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, total corn production reached 34,850 MT with Albay and Camarines Sur as major contributors. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD

Albay keeps teenage pregnancy low

LEGAZPI CITY, June 25 (PNA) -- The province of Albay is taking an exemption from the country’s alarming teenage pregnancy situation which, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said, places the Philippines on top among six ASEAN’s major economies.

In its early 2012 report, UNFPA said the teenage pregnancy rate of the country was 53 in every 1,000 women aged 15 to 19.

Albay, however, begged off from being included in that unfavorable statistics as teenage pregnancy rate in 2012 was down by eight percent from its previous records mainly as a result of reproductive health interventions by the partnership among the provincial government, UNFPA and the Department of Health (DOH).

Governor Joey Salceda attributed this accomplishment to higher economic well-being and career ambitions, inspired by greater access to college education in the province.

He was referring to the provincial government’s aggressive college tuition financing during the period, saying the province’s tertiary beneficiaries leaped to 34,000 in 2012 from only 14,600 in 2010.

“Keep the kids busy, keep them in school. In the long run, higher educational attainment should lead to higher career ambitions, therefore, greater deferral of marriage and, thus, pregnancies,” Salceda explained.

He said Albay has one of the lowest rates of teenage pregnancies at only 24 births per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 19 versus a national rate of 53 births per 1,000 women of the same age bracket.

According to the National Youth Council (NYC), unplanned pregnancy is one of the main reasons why teens fail to finish schooling.(PNA) PDS/FGS/CBD/

Bicolano farmer strikes gold in 'pastime' beekeeping venture
By Danny O. Calleja

GOA, Camarines Sur, June 25 (PNA) – About 10 years ago, Edilberto Abad of Barangay San Pedro here brought home crudely developed hives of stingless bees he gathered from the wild.

From them, he learned to split the mature colonies into new hives and expand the chambers using coconut shells.

Today, he already boasts of over 200 hives around his farm, each producing two bottles of honey yearly.

He sells the product in the downtown market for P250 per bottle of 350 milligrams, giving him about P100,000 in extra income each year.

Beekeeping is indeed not Abad’s main job.

He is a farmer by heart who produces naturally-grown fruits, herbs, rootcrops and vegetables from the two-hectare agro-forest farm he cultivates and from where he derives the family income.

“From this farm I earned the money used to send my two children to college, one of them had graduated two years ago and now an entomologist. The other one is graduating this year,” he said.

In his farming, Mang Eddie, as he is fondly called in the village, applies his learning from the training on organic vegetable production he underwent about four years ago from the Municipal Agriculture Office through high-value crops coordinator Arlene Dayao.

Then a corn grower, he shifted to herbs, vegetables, fruit-bearing trees like cacao and avocado -- including other indigenous plants and root crops.

In herbs, he produces lemon balm, basil and anise, as well as host plants to butterflies that pollinate the flowers for the bees.

Natural farming is his way of practice wherein he incorporates aromatic leaves to serve as nutrient provider, pest repellant and soil conditioner on the area where major crops will be planted.

“Libangan ko lang ito (this is only my pastime),” Abad, now 57, would remark on comments about his beekeeping venture.

Others in the neighborhood, especially those who do not understand what he is doing, would say beekeeping is a crazy thing to do, but for him it is a fulfillment that is so pleasing to go over and over again.

“It is very gratifying to watch the bees busy working on their hives and flying around the farm to gather nectar from the flowers of my plants,” he told the PNA over the weekend.

However, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), beekeeping or apiculture could enable farmers to augment their income and take advantage of emerging opportunities which, in turn, will brighten up agribusiness in the country.

It is an industry with social, economic and ecological benefits and requires minimal time, labor and resources, the BAR said.

Apiculture, which refers to the art and science of beekeeping, is an agriculture-based industry that the DA is promoting through its Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in coordination with the National Apiculture Research Center.

With the on-going implementation of the National Organic Agriculture Program pursuant to the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, upland farms like that of Abad is in a good position to give new life to the beekeeping industry in the country.

The industry is as an organic and sustainable means of livelihood in the pursuit of development goals and in preserving national agro-biodiversity, BAR said.

There are four species of honeybee--the Apis mellifera also called European honeybees, Apis cerana locally called ligwan, Apis dorsata or pukyutan and Apis melliponinea or stingless bees that thrive best in the Philippines.

All these are present mostly in the forest of Mt. Isarog here but, Abad said, he prefers the Apis melliponinea species that is easier to tend and does not leave its colony after the honey is harvested or when the hives are dislodged during typhoons.

Most of the forest tree species which are good sources of pollen and nectar for the bees -- like narra, calliandra, eucalyptus, oak tree, molave, camachili, kakawate, duhat, rain tree, African tulip, jacaranda and ipil-ipil, among others -- grow in thick volume in forests on the slopes of Mt. Isarog nearby Abad’s farm.

He also has cereal crops like corn and plants such as banana, mango, coconut, coffee, cacao, citrus, peanut, mongo, tomato and eggplant that, according to him, are favorites of honeybees.

The product people most associate with bees is honey, although beekeeping, the Food and Agriculture Organization said, generates much more than just honey.

The maintenance of biodiversity and pollination of crops are the most valuable services provided by bees, it stressed.

Bee-keeping experts say that honey is just one of several products that can be harvested in the bee colony.

Others are bee wax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and venom.

Apitherapy, which is the medicinal use of honey bee venom as well as honey bee products, is also one of the benefits that can be derived from the beekeeping industry. (PNA) DSP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Albay chosen as pilot province for WB-assisted program
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) – The province of Albay has been chosen as the pilot province, with coconut as the priority commodity, for the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP), a World Bank-assisted program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in 16 regions of the country from 2013 to 2019.

This was announced Monday by Dr. Elena B. delos Santos, DA 5 regional technical director for operations and extension and PRDP contact person in Bicol, who said the national implementation team of the P27.5 billion WB-funded PRDP was here for a five-day “Orientation on Philippine Rural Development Program and Value Chain Assessment of Coconut Products in Albay.”

The orientation was held at Alicia Hotel on June 17-21.

Albay province is the second among the 80 target provinces in the country to benefit from the PRDP.

The PRDP is a national government platform for a modern and climate-smart agriculture that will involve 80 provincial local government units and agri-fishery stakeholders in realizing the goals of improved food security and increased incomes, climate resiliency and enhanced policy environment and governance.

Delos Santos said the five-day seminar-workshop was aimed to officially orient the program implementation unit of Albay on the details of the PRDP and to conduct an in-depth value chain assessment (VCA) of priority coconut products, especially coco coir and virgin coconut oil.

This VCA will be the basis in the preparation of the Provincial Commodity Investment Plans, which will give birth to sub-projects for possible funding under the project.

Ruben Limos, agricultural program coordinating officer for Albay, said the project will have a big impact on the coconut industry of Albay, considering that 40,200 hectares of the total 103,774 hectares agricultural land in Albay is planted to coconut.

The development of enterprises on coco coir and virgin coconut oil will create more jobs and added income for the coconut farmers whose majority rely only on copra trading.

Shandy Hubilla, PRDP Luzon B program coordinator, discussed the rationale, program costs and equity sharing and implementation arrangement of the PRDP.

He said the target provinces were ranked for prioritization through spatial multi-criteria analysis of climate, land suitability and crop type using the geographic information system.

Project monitoring will also be carried out through geo-tagging and mapping.

Hubilla said the PRDP has four components, which are: 1) I-PLAN or Investments in Planning at the Local and National levels; 2) I-BUILD or Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development; 3) I-REAP or Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity; and 4) I-SUPPORT or Implementation Support to PRDP.

The total project cost for PRDP is P27.5 billion -- consisting of P20.6 billion loan from the World Bank; P3.7 billion as national government counterpart; P3.2 billion equity of the local government units, and P287-million grant from the Global Environment Facility.

I-Build component gets the biggest share which is 67.4 percent of the total project cost; I-Plan, 2.9 percent; I-Reap, 25.2 percent; and I-Support, 4.5 percent.

Fund allocation for approved Provincial Commodity Investment Plans will be on a first-come-first-served basis and will be released directly to the province.

The PRDP is also being implemented in convergence with other government initiatives: the National Convergence Initiative for synchronized delivery of programs and services to the rural communities and harmonization of priority areas to eliminate duplication and maximize complementation of activities; the Department of Public Works and Highways for technical support in the design of farm-to-market roads/bridges and coordination to complement with the national road network plan; Department of Science and Technology to provide access to research activities and transfer of developed technologies related to agriculture products and processes; Department of Trade and Industry for enterprise development; Department of Social Work and Development as support to Conditional Cash Transfer Program; and Department of Budget and Management, Department of Interior and Local Government, DSWD and National Anti-Poverty Commission for a more participatory planning and budgeting through involvement of grassroots organizations and communities.

The PRDP team is composed of the National Program Advisory Board headed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD

BFAR pushes tilapia farming to cushion impact of climate change on Bicol fisheries
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, June 24 (PNA) – Tilapia farming is an option being pushed by the regional office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) here to cushion the adverse impacts of climate change on Bicol fisheries.

“We anticipate hazardous and damaging effects of climate change to the marine and inland fishery resources of the region, and tilapia farming is a good option to maintain local fish production for food security and income for the fisher folk,” BFAR regional director Dennis del Socorro said.

Bicol sits on a diverse terrain characterized by high mountains, volcanic land forms and extensive valleys interspersed with rivers and lakes -- making it highly vulnerable to the negative impacts of changing climate such as typhoons, flash floods, strong winds, thunderstorms and drought.

The fisheries sector is anticipated to be one of the most affected by climate change that induces rise in temperature, changes in rainfall patterns and frequent typhoons with extreme flooding, together with change in wind direction that alters the characteristics of near-shore fish habitats ocean circulation pattern, coral reef production and fish migration pattern, among others.

It will be greatly felt in coastal areas through rise in sea level and increase in temperature, which would inundate low-lying wet and dry land areas, erode shorelines, exacerbate storm flooding, increase salinity of estuaries and threaten freshwater aquifer.

With these, fishery resources will decrease while important fish species may move to other areas -- making it less available to fishers.

“Also, accretion in shorelines may occur due to drowning and inundation of coasts and the consequence of all these, simply put, is that climate change will affect fishing- and aquaculture-dependent Bicolanos,” Del Socorro said.

Thus, fishing communities shall have less food for their families and less opportunity to make a living, he added.

Climate change, however, is not the end of the world for the Bicol fishing communities as the BFAR has developed resiliency measures in responding, coping and adapting to climate change.

These measures are designed as proactive risk reduction and management strategy for agriculture and fisheries in the region, Del Socorro said.

One strategy is tilapia farming envisioned on increasing fish production with emphasis on developing new approaches on fisheries industry at the community levels, thus, integrating the necessary pre-requisites on food safety and quality from farm to table while institutionalizing resource sustainability and conservation.

One of the most important cultured fish in the country is the freshwater tilapia that grows in the inland bodies of water and sold readily in the local market with a good chance for the foreign market.

There are many ways to raise the tilapia like cage culture, in barricades, fish pens, tanks or even in hapa net but the most commonly used is the earthen pond culture.

In calamity-prone areas, tilapia is one of the best species – firstly, because tilapias are hardy fish that can tolerate adverse environmental conditions such as high temperature, low dissolved oxygen and turbid waters.

Tilapias are also fast growing and disease resistant and widely accepted as food fish even in coastal areas, according to Del Socorro.

Hence, the option to raise tilapia in the backyard is recommended for both coastal and inland as its fast growing and hardy characteristic can shorten the culture period and the cropping cycle adjusted to avoid typhoon and flood seasons.

In pushing tilapia farming, he said, BFAR is making available support facilities such as hatcheries, farm inputs and technology.

For this purpose, demonstration farms have been established in Buhi, Camarines Sur; Guinobatan, Albay; and Gubat, Sorsogon.

Apart from backyard tilapia farming, BFAR, along with the Regional Field Unit (RFU) of the Department of Agriculture, also here, is likewise pushing for integrated rice-fish farming, a method that has been proven to increase rice and fish yield.

Demonstration of fish culture in rotation with rice using the same paddy showed almost identical cost-benefit ratios with the value of returns or a little higher from rice than fish under normal conditions when rice harvest is good.

However, during monsoon season when typhoons often occur, the cost-and-return analysis can easily shift to fish.

More expenses are incurred for rice cultivation than fish culture.

This indicates that the farmer has the option to go into either rice or fish, depending on his feel of the weather conditions and preference.

This form of diversified farming technique is a good option in typhoon-prone areas like Bicol, Del Socorro said.

Under this technique, rice paddies are raised from usual elevation so that enough water is retained for fish cultivation while the central trench or canal is prepared in the rice field to serve as fish refuge, he added. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Albay frees back to forest captive monkeys, eagle for environment month celebration
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) -- From cages where they were held for years serving as among the exhibits at the Albay Park and Wildlife (APW) here, 11 monkeys and an eagle have been freed back into the forest of the province for the ongoing celebration of Environment Month.

They were released into the wilds of Manito, Albay, covered by the 250,000-hectare forest reservation of the Bacon-Manito (BacMan) geothermal energy field that straddles the boundaries of Manito town and Sorsogon City.

The monkeys called the cynomolgus macaque (Macaca fascicularis) or crab-eating monkeys belong to the smallest macaque species common in Bicol’s densely vegetated forests and in much wetter habitats like coastal areas, swamps and mangrove forests.

The eagle, a Philippine serpent eagle (Spilornis holospilus) locally called banog or lawin, is another wildlife species found usually in forest clearings, open woodlands and sometimes in cultivated areas with scattered trees of Bicol.

The bird -- which feeds on amphibians, reptiles and other live prey -- is often seen soaring over clearings and river valleys.

The Philippine serpent eagle is distinguished from other species of serpent eagle by more well-defined spots on the underpants and wings.

It is colored brown from above and had a short bushy crest, black crown, and gray to gray-brown cheeks and throat.

Its tail is black with a white tip, light brown central band and a secondary basal band while the primary feathers are also black with white spotting along the wing coverts.

Its eyes, legs, and lores are yellow.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda and Gilbert Gonzales, Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional executive director for Bicol, led the release of the animals over the weekend as part of the Environment Month activities in the province.

“We released these animals back in the wilds as part of the program of the provincial government and the DENR, in cooperation with its Protected Area and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), for the preservation and protection of our rare wildlife species,” Salceda said here on Monday.

Those monkeys and eagle have been “tenant” for years of the APW that serves as Albay’s Wildlife and Rescue Center wherein they were taken care of while being prepared to be released back into their natural habitat, according to Salceda.

Nestled between the tourist-spot Ligñon Hill and the Legazpi Airport, APW is the only zoo in the province that serves as safe home to more than 400 birds, mammals and reptiles like the Philippine Hawk Eagle, bleeding-heart pigeons, brown boobies, ring neck pheasants, iguanas, reticulated pythons, Philippine warty pigs, the Philippine deer, a tiger and red squirrels.

Gonzales said the BacMan area was chosen as new habitat for the released animals given that its steward, the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) that operates the giant geothermal power facilities in the area, is in agreement with the PAWB’s in an "Adopt-a-Wildlife Species Program (AAWSP)."

The program, being implemented since 2010, provides special protection to rare and endangered wildlife species found in Bicol.

Among the species being protected at BacMan are the Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus), Golden Crowned Flying Fox (Acerodon jubatus), Philippine Warty Pig (Sus philippensis), Philippine Brown Deer (Cervus marianus) and Philippine Eagle Owl (Bubo philippensis) that are all endemic in Albay and Sorsogon.

The Large Flying Fox, locally called “kabug,” is among the largest species of bats that inhabit primary and mangrove forests of these two Bicol provinces notably within BacMan.

The AAWSP is being implemented through DENR Administrative Order No. 16 issued in June 2010 to give local governments and the private sectors roles in the government’s biodiversity conservation initiatives and prevent the total extinction of the country’s wildlife species that are already considered endangered.

According to the EDC, the conservation of wildlife is part of its bio-diversity program being implemented in all sites of the power firm’s operations in the country.

A recent update by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the BacMan wildlife species as "near threatened" because of its significant decline due to ongoing degradation of their primary forest habitat.

Flying fox is sometimes hunted for food and the controls on hunting seem to be unenforceable.

The Golden-Crowned Flying Fox, also known as the golden-capped fruit bat, is a rare megabat and one of the largest bats in the world currently facing the possibility of extinction because of poaching and forest destruction.

The giant golden-crowned flying fox is primarily nocturnal, and can travel at least 40 kilometers in one night searching for food.

One economic importance of this bat is that it is considered a pollinator and seed disperser for many fruit trees within its habitat.

Known as "The Silent Planter," they release seeds in their droppings, often while flying. This helps maintain the rainforest.

The giant golden-crowned flying fox is under threat from deforestation and has completely disappeared from many smaller islands and some larger islands, such as Panay and most of Cebu.

The Philippine Warty Pig or “baboy damo” is a pig species endemic to the forests of Albay and Sorsogon but getting extinct due to hunting and losing its natural habitat to deforestation and uncontrolled logging.

The Philippine Brown Deer is a species of deer native to the forests and grasslands on most larger islands of the Philippines.

The Philippine Eagle-Owl, the largest in the country, is a vulnerable species of bird belonging to the Strigidae family.

This owl locally called “kuwago” inhabits forest edges near streams.

It rests in a tree during the day and hunts at dusk to feed on small vertebrates.

Although considered as one of the 17 mega-diverse countries in the world, the Philippines has also been looked at as one of the "hot spots" in biodiversity, with several species now under threat of near-extinction. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Albay targets zero maternal death through RH strategies
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Albay is targeting zero maternal death and big reduction in child mortality by 2015 through the application of reproductive health (RH) strategies.

hese can be achieved by increasing access of Albayanos to RH services from 80 percent in 2010 to 100 percent in 2015, according to the province’s health strategy towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Based on statistics provided by the Provincial Health Office (PHO), maternal mortality per 100,000 live births in the province registered 84 deaths in 2007, 81 in 2008, 60 in 2009, 66 in 2010, 58 in 2011 and 20 in 2012.

Child mortality per 1,000 live births were 377 in 2010 and 152 in 2011, with under five years old deaths posting 13.09 percent and 14.24 percent during the respective periods.

Infant mortality registered 5.51 percent and 5.53 percent, respectively, in the same years.

Recorded under five deaths in 2012 were 373 while infant and fetal deaths combined were 262.

The year-to-year figures indicate reductions and the provincial government headed by Gov. Joey Salceda is confident that the targets will be achieved through RH strategies.

These include skilled birth attendance and facility-based deliveries of 80 percent by 2015.

Skilled birth attendance in the province in 2007 was only at 52 percent in 2007, increasing to 57 percent in 2008; 62 percent in 2009; 72 percent in 2010 and 76 percent in 2011.

Facility-based deliveries were at 19 percent in 2007; 24 percent, 2008; 35 percent, 2009; 57 percent, 2010 and up to 70 percent in 2011.

By increasing access to RH services to 100 percent, the province seeks to reduce child mortality by 67 percent and the maternal death to zero.

RH means, among others, information and access to natural and modern family planning; maternal, infant and child health and nutrition; promotion of breast feeding; prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications; and adolescent and youth health.

It also involves prevention and management of reproductive tract infections, HIV/AIDS and STDs; elimination of violence against women; counseling on sexuality and sexual and reproductive health; treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers; male involvement and participation in RH; prevention and treatment of infertility; and RH education for the youth.

The Department of Health (DOH) said family planning can reduce maternal mortality in the country by about 32 percent as the RH Law is meant to prevent maternal deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth.

It said 11 women die while giving birth in the Philippines and these preventable deaths could have been avoided if more Filipino women have access to reproductive health information and healthcare.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), on the other hand, are jointly implementing a program of action towards reduction of maternal mortality rates and a narrowing of disparities in maternal mortality within countries and between geographical regions, socio-economic and ethnic groups.

The program also provides access to reproductive and sexual health services, including family planning such as counseling, pre-natal care, safe delivery and post-natal care, prevention and appropriate treatment of infertility, prevention of abortion and the management of the consequences of abortion, among others.

According to the WHO’s Global Strategy on Reproductive Health, adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2004, “as a preventable cause of maternal mortality and morbidity, unsafe abortion must be dealt with as part of the MDG on improving maternal health and other international development goals and targets."

WHO and ICPD also promote “Reproductive Justice,” which is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls.

Reproductive justice could be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for themselves, families and communities in all areas of their lives, according to the Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice.

It said advocates of reproductive justice support a greater diversity of issues they consider necessary for women to make reproductive decisions free of constraint or coercion.

These enabling conditions include access to reliable transportation, health services, education, childcare, and positions of power; adequate housing and income; elimination of health hazardous environments; and freedom from violence and discrimination.

The key to this new approach, it said, is empowering women and providing them with more choices through expanded access to education and health services and promoting skills development and employment.

The WHO-ICPD program also advocates making family planning universally available by 2015, or sooner, as part of a broadened approach to reproductive health and rights, provides estimates of the levels of national resources and international assistance that will be required, and calls on governments to make these resources available.(PNA) FPV/FGS/CBD

Quakes jolt 2 Bicol provinces

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) – A series of earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 2.9 to 4 hit the towns of Pio V. Corpuz in Masbate and Prieto Diaz in Sorsogon in the past 24 hours, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said on Monday.

Phivolcs instruments recorded an earthquake at about 1:42 a.m., Monday, with a magnitude of 2.9 and epicenter in Prieto Diaz; while four earthquake episodes with magnitude ranging from 3.3 to 4 rocked the town of Pio V. Corpuz in Masbate at 4:41 a.m., 4:42 a.m., 4:51a.m. and 5:41 a.m. on Sunday.

According to Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, agency instruments located the earthquake on Monday at 13 kilometers southeast of Prieto Diaz with 91 kms depth.

The quakes that hit Pio V. Corpuz were located first at 4:41 a.m., Sunday, at 18 kms southeast of the town with 15 kms depth; followed at 4:42 a.m. at 9 kms southeast with 9kms depth; at 4:51 a.m. at 14 kms southeast with 4 kms depth, and at 5:41 a.m. at 13 kms northeast of the town with 24 kms depth.

An earthquake of tectonic origin was felt in Prieto Diaz, Pio V. Corpuz and the neighboring towns of Esperanza and Cataingan in Masbate.

No casualties and damages to properties were reported.(PNA) FPV/FGS/MSA/CBD

Coral reefs in Albay Gulf come back to life (with photos)
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

BACACAY, Albay, June 24 (PNA) -- Political will and good partnership between the provincial government of Albay and the coastal communities in the province have been greatly responsible for the restoration of coral reefs in Albay Gulf.

Heavily damaged by blast fishing activities in the past, these coral reefs are progressively coming back to life as the local folk have turned wardens of the seas and closely working with the provincial government to bring back healthy reefs for the coming generation.

A few years after the provincial government established the marine sanctuary as a marine reservation and designated it as a protected area in the province, a new garden of healthy corals has been seen growing tremendously in place of the damaged corals, based on the assessment of a group of sea environmentalists and scuba divers here.

The sanctuary lies in the waters of barangays Manaet, Buang, Uson and Pongco Bonga in Cagraray Island, Bacacay town.

Divers from the Pacific Blue Dive Center led by Jin Masuda, a Japanese currently living in Legazpi City and diver Emmanuel Salazar, once explored the waters off Barangay Manaet.

They uncovered the new garden of corals beneath the Cagraray Pass, the eco-tourism haven of Albay province.

Masuda’s group scoured the waters off Manaet while local communities and village officials and a composite team of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, journalists, Office of Civil Defense Bicol led by director Bernardo Alejandro and Department of Environment and Natural Resources employees planted 5,000 mangrove propagules to reforest the denuded area of Manaet’s shorelines.

The activity was done during the first week of June in consonance with the World Environment Day and National Environment Month celebration of the provincial government of Albay to support the greening program of the government aimed at helping lessen the adverse impact of global warming.

“We dived up to 200-300 meters down into the reefs and saw around different kinds of fish and coral. Approximately 80-90 percent of the corals were badly damaged. The possible cause of the damages is blast fishing done in the past or very strong waves during typhoons,” Masuda said in his assessment report.

“A new garden of corals has started to grow in damaged corals sites. What I found were corals that are starting to grow. They are of different kind and seems to be stronger under murky water,” he said.

Masuda said there are few areas where the corals are not so damaged and have good corals with shoals of tropical fishes during their dive.

The dive was done in the northwest reef, some 500 meters away from the shorelines of Manaet.

Edwin Belano, village chieftain, said residents of Manaet and neighboring areas are now strictly watching over the waters off Albay Gulf to prevent the repetition of the illegal fishing activities in the past.

“Fish is getting expensive nowadays because of dwindling marine resources. So, we need to act together to save what is left for our children’s children. All of us nurture our surroundings. People from all ages and walks of life work together as guardians of the seas so that illegal fishing will not flourish again like in the past,” Belano said.

He said they have strictly prohibited fishing in the declared fish sanctuary.

Cagraray Island in Bacacay town was declared by then President Fidel V. Ramos as an eco-tourism site.

The island is host to the world-class, luxurious Misibis Bay Resort of Bicolano business tycoon Elizaldy “Zaldy” Co.

The resort is being targeted as a venue for ministerial sessions during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015.

Scuba divers in Albay have identified 16 dive sites in Albay Gulf and parts of Legazpi City’s coastal areas which are now being promoted as a tourist destination here.

Romeo “Nong” Dawal, Albay provincial consultant for marine eco-tourism under the Albay Millennium Development Goals Office (AMDGO), said 10 of the 16 dive sites are found in Cagraray Pass, within the territorial waters of Albay Gulf at the eastern seaboard of the province.

The six other sites have been discovered in Legazpi City. These, he said, are free from strong currents.

The provincial government, through the AMDGO, commissioned the Pacific Blue, an organization of professional scuba divers, to conduct rapid marine assessment survey to check the status of corals in Albay.

The tourism development program here is a component project under the Cagraray, Rapu-Rapu, Batan and San Miguel or CRABS area of the provincial government.

Part of the project is the promotion of capacity building of local communities through a divers’ training course for open water and corral gardening.

Dawal said skilled community-based divers will be deputized as dive guides and wardens of the corals and vast area of fish sanctuary.

The coral gardening program has developed low-tech, cost-effective systems for growing and transplanting corals to restore degraded reefs here.

The coral gardening approach combines strategies for sustainable management of marine ecosystems with restoration of coral reefs and associated habitats where appropriate.

Through this scheme, nurseries are established by trimming coral fragments from existing wild populations then securing them on underwater structures.

“The best way to save reefs is through carefully managed human impact and interaction with them, and let local people who know the reefs best take ownership of the cultivation of the flora and fauna, ‘planting’ missing key species of coral–fish or shellfish–to ensure the reef’s survival as an ecosystem,” Dawal said.

The original coral grew over a number of years and trimmed or propagated every 9–12 months, increasing the original fragments by 10 times.(PNA) JMC/FGS/RBB/CBD