Friday, November 29, 2013

Newly elected, re-elected Legazpi village officials take oath

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal administered the oath of office to the newly elected and re-elected barangay officials of the city on Thursday afternoon at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.

The ceremony was preceded by a Thanksgiving Mass officiated by Msgr. Ramon Tronqued, St. Raphael Parish priest, and attended by city elective officials and employees, business organization heads and civil society organization representatives.

Rosal said the barangay is the smallest but the most important local government unit because it is the base in a bottom-to-top approach of governance.

He said the most important thing in government is the delivery of good governance and the trust and confidence of the people to the government officials.

“You should always cooperate and work together for all the long-term development programs of the city administration to maximize the progress of the community as well as to attract more investors to put up business here that will help us sustain the economic growth of our city," the city chief executive added.

He said that these newly elected officials are now the legitimate people to govern their own respective villages by way of delivering square and honest public service, protecting the lives of individuals and meeting the needs of the barangay.

“They are the instruments for the implementation of all the programs and projects at their own respective localities for the continuous development of the city,” Rosal said.

He urged the village official to focus on the most important matters for the benefit of the barangay and cast aside politics.

Department of Interior and Local Government City Director Elmer Pecson explained that the oath-taking rite is the culminating activity of the barangay elections conducted on Oct. 28.

“This event will oblige you to perform your duties and responsibilities vested by authority pursuant to the law,” Pecson said.(PNA) FFC/FGS/EPS/CBD/PJN

2 Albay police chiefs axed

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- The Bicol Regional Police Office has formally removed two police chiefs from their respective posts reportedly for poor performance.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, BRPO director, said he has replaced Legazpi City Police chief Supt. Robert Morico with Supt. Rommel dela Rama, who came from Camarines Norte.

Rapu-Rapu Municipal Police Office chief Senior Insp. Gilbert P. Otivar was replaced by Senior Insp. Virgil Bibat from the neighboring Daraga town.

Morico and Otivar were reportedly uprooted from their post because of unchecked volume of criminality in their respective areas of responsibility and non-reporting of certain crime incidents in their jurisdiction to higher authorities based in this camp.

Dela Rama and Bibat, however, will occupy their respective posts as only officers-in-charge to provide continuity to the operations of their offices.

Deona also said there is a scheduled revamp of police office heads from provincial to municipal police offices before the year ends.(PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD/PJN

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sorsogon hosts Ms. Earth 'Resort Wear' competition

SORSOGON CITY, Nov. 26 (PNA) --Thirty-two international beauties from all over the world descended on this city Tuesday to compete in the “Resort Wear” segment of the Ms. Earth International competition on Wednesday at the Sorsogon Provincial Gymnasium.

The candidates arrived late Tuesday morning from Metro Manila and proceeded to the Siama Hotel in Barangay Bibincahan here where they will be billeted during their stay.

Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee accepted the hosting of the prestigious event as part of the efforts to promote the tourism potentials of the province in the international market.

At around 3:00 p.m., the contestants will participate in a mangrove-planting activity at Barangay Gimaloto, a seaside village where the government has an ongoing mangrove reforestation project,as part of the Ms. Earth competition’s advocacy on environmental protection.

On Wednesday, the beauties will travel to the town of Barcelona for a photo session in the ruins by the shore, after which they will proceed to Bulusan Lake for the water sports challenge.

The last stopover will be at the “Valley View” in Irosin town before they will have their lunch at the Guest World Resort in the same town.

The contestants will then head back to Sorsogon City at around 1:30 p.m. for a waste-recycling activity at the Kasanggayahan Village from 2:00 p.m.to 3:00 p.m. and a motorcade around the city proper at 4:00 p.m.

The “Resort Wear” competition is expected to start at 7:00 p.m. at the provincial gym which has undergone a major face-lifting to make it appealing to the audience.

Tickets to the competition come at a steep price of P3,000 each and only 300 will be sold by the provincial government.

Lee said he hoped that the provincial government’s hosting of the event would give the province an extensive exposure in the national and international media.

Ms. Earth is one of the three major international beauty pageants, together with Miss Universe and Miss World, in terms of prestige and number of participating countries and is primarily aimed at raising public awareness about the environment.

Philippines is represented by Angelee Delos Reyes.

The pageant’s final search will be held on December 7.(PNA) PDS/FGS/BQL/CBD

Late report on coal mine explosion angers Bicol police chief

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Nov. 26 (PNA) – The Bicol regional police director has ordered an investigation of the chief of police of the Rapu-Rapu island municipality in Albay after the latter appeared unaware of an explosion in a mining company that killed two persons and injured two others in Bagawbaw, Batan Island, on November 20, an area under his responsibility.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona has also ordered the investigation of village officials because they did not inform the proper authorities about the accident.

What angered him, Deona said, was that it took almost six days before he learned about the explosion in the coal mining village that claimed the lives of two miners and injured two others.

It was only on Monday that the authorities and the public learned about the accident.

Killed in the explosion were Antonio Grajeda and Jerson Dela Cruz while injured were Moises Boyon and Christian Santillan, all working at the Sammajo Mining Corp.

Senior Inspector Gilbert Otivar, acting Rapu-Rapu Municipal Police Office chief, claimed that they were just informed on Monday that there was indeed a blast that happened at Batan Island.

He further claimed that the owner, operator of the mining company and village officials had no plans to give information about the explosion.

Otivar said the incident happened at about 9:00 a.m. while the victims were inside a 125-meter-long tunnel, some 34 meters below the surface, mining coal or carbon.

One of the victims reportedly hit a hard stone that caused a spark which allegedly caused the blast.

The victims scampered out of the tunnel and were luckily seen by fellow villagers who brought them to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital for medical treatment.

Unfortunately, Grageda died at about 11:00 a.m. last Saturday and on Sunday, Dela Cruz passed away at 4:00 p.m.

Otivar said it was at the hospital that the two surviving victims bared what had happened.

He said the mining company is owned by a certain engineer Carlito Aparri and that the Department of Energy had long stopped its operation as it posed danger to the residents of the place.

Even the families of the victims have kept mum on the incident, prompting authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the case.

Otivar said he learned that the mining company has already extended help to the victims of the mining blast. (PNA) PDS/FGS/RBA/EMCCBD

Samar, Leyte survivors slowly picking up pieces, Team Albay says

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 26 (PNA) –- Survivors of the climate monster “Yolanda” in Samar and Leyte provinces are slowly picking up the pieces and starting to turn their lives back to normal.

This is the assessment of the 179-man Team Albay-Office of Civil Defense 5 upon its arrival here on Sunday from a 15-day humanitarian mission in the two typhoon-devastated provinces.

The team members said this was their most difficult endeavor among their 11 disaster assistance missions in various parts of the country ravaged by disasters in the past five years.

Looking exhausted by with smiles on their faces, the team members stressed that it was heartwarming and morally and spiritually rewarding that they were able to help their brothers who were in dire need of services like free potable water, medical, psychosocial care, search and retrieval operation and shared their in disaster risk reduction and response.

It must recalled that upon their arrival in Tacloban City last Nov. 10, their first area of assignment, they immediately buckled down to work on dead body retrieval operation.

Aside from the service mission, Albayanos have sent millions of pesos worth of relief goods to Leyte and Samar.

Earlier, the province of Albay gave P500,000 each to Samar and Leyte.

The province has also already adopted several families from Samar and has expressed willingness to adopt at least 2,000 families or 10,000 individuals from the two provinces.

Meanwhile, the “Tarabang Albay” for the calamity victims continues, Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said. (PNA) FFC/FGS/NIM/CBD

Monday, November 25, 2013

DPWH to cut down 785 old trees in Sorsogon
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 24 (PNA) -- A total of 785 old first-class species of shady and fruit-bearing trees that have been giving life to the environment will be cut down in Sorsogon.

Earlier, there was a similar plan to remove more than 650 same old trees in Naga City in Camarines Sur, which was scheduled two months ago, but the idea fizzled out due to strong opposition.

All the trees to be cut down, with permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, are those along the Maharlika Highway and are aged above 60 years old -- some comprise of narra species.

Rene Camacho, Sorsogon Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office chief, said he interposes no objection to the application for permit to cut down the hundreds of old trees filed by the Department of Public Works and Highways, saying the trees involved are within the road right of way.

In Naga City, however, nongovernmental organizations led by the Naga City People’s Council (NCPC) and backed by local executives led by Mayor John Bongat continued with their protests in blocking the DPWH project to cut down the 651 trees along the Maharlika Highway for a road-widening project, affecting at least four barangays.

NCPC officials criticized the national government in its efforts to resort to cutting down old trees, saying this might run counter to the government's National Greening Program to plant 1.5 billion trees from 2011 to 2016.

The protesters demanded that the P100-million road widening project be realigned instead to other location because the subject highway is the site of early morning joggers and bikers for both young and senior citizens.

As a result of the mounting protests, the DPWH could not start with the Naga City highway project until Secretary Rogelio Singson reportedly gave way and ordered the DPWH regional office to realign the P100-million budget for the project, said Regional Director Danilo Dequito.

Dequito would not say where the P100-million fund would be realigned.

In the case of the Sorsogon project, the DPWH said it found no objections from the three mayors of the affected municipalities -- including village executives -- who reportedly readily gave the go-signal to clear the highway of the trees, said Sorsogon 2nd District engineer Juanito Alamar.

According to Alamar, the highways affected for widening covers the Maharlika Highway stretching through the towns of Juban, Irosin and Bulan including road sections up to the idle Bulan airport.

It was not mentioned how much the budget for the Sorsogon road widening project is, but the district engineer said the project will start soonest when all the requirements are duly complied with.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/PJN

PCA eyes inter-cropping in 'Yolanda’ hard-hit provinces

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 24 (PNA) --The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is recommending the inter-cropping strategy to coconut farmers after the devastation brought by killer typhoon "Yolanda" in Samar and Leyte provinces.

PCA Albay official Ed Bailon said inter-cropping should be introduced as an alternative income of the affected coco farmers while waiting for the total recovery of the coconut industry after it was ravaged by "Yolanda".

The government will help the coconut farmers, however, they will be required to sow different kinds of seed in-between the rows of coconut trees.

“Planting of banana, root crops, peanut, corn and others is highly recommended and in this case, the coco farmers will be given a chance to regain their income losses,” Bailon told the Philippines News Agency (PNA)Sunday in a phone interview.

Due to the extent of damages in the coconut plantation in central Philippines, selective cutting of coconut trees is also recommended to prevent the spread of pests and diseases, he said.

“Unrecoverable coconut trees or totally damaged by typhoon is allowed to be cut,” Bailon said.

The next step is to initiate replanting of seed nuts and seedlings to replace those unrecoverable coconut trees, but coco farmers will wait for six to seven years, he said, adding ”This is why we are recommending inter-cropping.”

However, those recoverable coconut trees would take at least three years to bear fruits.

The PCA official cited that in the province of Albay, the same strategy was introduced right after the onslaught of super typhoon "Reming" that hit this province on November 31, 2006.

Bailon further said communities must adopt a “bayanhan” system to protect the newly planted coconut trees from astray animals.(PNA) PDS/FGS/MDR/CBD/PJN

NPA rebels execute farmer suspected of being military asset

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Nov. 24 (PNA) -- Suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels executed a coconut farmer in Barangay Pood, Guinobatan, Albay, Sunday morning.

A report reaching Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol regional director, identified the victim as Crispin Ordina, 53, married and resident of the village.

The report said Ordina was making copra in his farm at about 10:00 a.m. when the rebels arrived and forcibly took him.

The rebels took the victim some 20 meters away from his place of work and shot him on his head and body, killing him instantly, it added.

The gunshots were heard by Ordina’s relatives who immediately rushed to the place of killing and saw the victim sprawled on the ground.

The report said the suspects casually walked away.

It added that the NPA guerrillas suspected Ordina to be a military and police asset in their place who gave information on their activities.

The relatives, however, denied the accusation and claimed that Ordina was just an ordinary coconut farmer.(PNA) PDS/FGS/EMC/CBD/PJN

Ginger roots




Ginger roots grown not only as spice for native delicacies but for its high medicinal values. Aromatic, pungent and spicy, ginger adds a special flavor and zest to Asian stir fries and many fruit and vegetable dishes. Fresh ginger root is available year round in the produce section of your local market. Ginger is the underground rhizome of the ginger plant with a firm, striated texture. The flesh of the ginger rhizome can be yellow, white or red in color, depending upon the variety. It is covered with a brownish skin that may either be thick or thin, depending upon whether the plant was harvested when it was mature or young. (PNA Legazpi Bureau photo of Danny Calleja)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Team Albay-OCD Bicol sends off 3rd batch of humanitarian mission in eastern Samar
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) -- The third batch of humanitarian mission from Team Albay-Office of Civil Defense Bicol, composed of 63 members, left Thursday afternoon with 60 tons of relief goods intended for eastern Samar, one of the areas hardest hit by powerful typhoon “Yolanda.”

Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro, OCD Bicol director, said the third salvo of humanitarian mission is a composite team of personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, OCD and the provincial government of Albay.

The team will personally distribute relief goods and feed the children as soon as it arrives in the devastated areas of eastern Samar.

The search and rescue sub-team and medical component of Team Albay-OCD Bicol will pull out of Tacloban City this weekend after almost two weeks of operations, Alejandro said.

“But the water and sanitation component will transfer to eastern Samar for another one-week mission to provide safe and clean water to affected communities in that area,” he said.

The Team Albay-OCD Bicol is the first group of disaster responders that has provided aid to Tacloban City and other hard hit areas in western Visayas for three weeks now.

Aside from humanitarian mission, Albay, through the provincial government led by governor Joey Salceda, will also adopt 2,000 internally displaced families or 10,000 persons for 12 months or until after their new houses are built.

Albay, in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and OCD-Bicol, will also assist 2,000 families or 10,000 people in the newly constructed Japan-standard evacuation centers of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Monitoring Office in Barangay Gogon in Legazpi City and the towns of Polangui, Libon, Oas, Sto. Domingo and Manito as well as the evacuation camps provided by the Spanish government through the Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo.

Bicolanos from all walks of life have been lending hand to Yolanda victims even though some parts of the Bicol region have been affected by the deadly typhoon about two weeks ago but the solidarity of the Bicolanos through “Team Bicol” is outpouring to help rebuild the devastated region of Eastern Visayas.

Aside from Team Albay-OCD Bicol, another group called “Team Bicol” led by Bicolano billionaire and philanthropist Elizaldy “Zaldy” S. Co, chief executive officer of the Sunwest Group Holding Company inc. (SGHCI), sent off relief goods, 11 dump trucks, one boom truck and a tanker loaded with fuel to be used for clearing operations in Palo, Leyte.

Co pioneered the “Tarabangan Tugang” (Helping Bothers” in 2006 after the occurrence of catastrophic super typhoon “Reming.”

His firm also sent off a humanitarian team composed of electricians, mechanics and cooks from Sunwest Construction and Development Corp. and Misibis Bay, both affiliates of SGHCI -- including volunteers from other private companies in Legazpi City -- in partnership with the city government of Legazpi to extend assistance in hard hit areas of Visayan region.

The group augmented the first team of volunteers who arrived in Leyte about two weeks ago.

Historically, the SGHCI has been noted as the first private company that helped areas devastated by natural calamities not only in Bicol but also in other areas of the country.

Private stakeholders and government agencies from Bicol region unified as one team to help expedite the recovery of eastern Visayas.

With this, more and more Albayanos are opening their houses to adopt homeless families.

The Diocese of Legazpi led by Bishop Joel “Bong” Baylon also asked the Bicolanos to act as foster families to IDPs left homeless by deadly typhoon Yolanda.

Baylon made the appeal during the play of the life of Saint Pedro Calungsod at Ibalong Central Recreation last Satruday.

The proceeds of the musical were originally intended for the repair of the Albay Cathedral but with the devastation in the Visayas, the diocese announced that funds that will be raised will go to Yolanda victims instead.

The bishop emphasized his appeal to help by providing foster homes for these affected families. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/

PHL suffers badly from complex disasters caused by climate change, says Indian official
By Rhadyz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) -- Global warming, which has triggered complex disasters, is badly affecting developing nations’ economic sustainability like in the case of Philippines, a top academic official in India told the participants of the 9th ASEF Journalists Colloquium held recently at the Hilton Garden Inn, Gurgaon, New Delhi.

This writer was a delegate to the colloquium, which focused on the issue of energy, green economy and sustainable development in the context of poverty reduction in conjunction with the 11th Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers Meeting held at Hotel Trident.

It explored the role of the media in promoting an informed debate on environmental issues, as well as submitting recommendations on improved reporting on these issues.

The catastrophic devastation that took place in the Philippines brought by powerful typhoon “Yolanda” is a wake up call to wealthy nations to provide financial assistance in mitigating the impact of climate change, according to Prodipto Ghosh, head of the Earth Science and Climate Change Division of the Energy Resources Institute (ERI).

“In an era of global warming, the government of India is the first country in South Asia with an ambitious plan and program to mitigate the effects of climate change by allotting a lion's share of its annual budget, bigger than that of national defense,” Ghosh added.

He said that world leaders maybe tackling climate change in various fora but they are not on the same page to address effects of climate change, which devastated the most vulnerable and developing countries in the world like the Philippines.

“But in South Asia, India allocated billions or 2.7 percent of its .8 trillion gross domestic product, bigger than the national defense budget, to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change like flood, drought and major concerns where the country is most vulnerable,” Ghosh told this reporter in a one-on-one interview.

He expressed disgust over his observation that leaders from highly developed countries are not serious enough to mitigate the effects of climate change badly affecting the developing nations like Philippines, which suffered the most from the extreme impact of climate change phenomenon.

“In an era of climate change, we have witnessed the devastating impact on the Philippines where disaster frequently affected this country; unfortunately, highly developed countries perceive it as an economic opportunity to promote their commercial products and livelihood to the developing world. Wealthy countries do not even put up financial assistance to mitigate the bad effects of climate change on vulnerable countries,” Ghosh said.

The ERI official noted that India, with a population of 1.237 billion in 2012, is the seventh largest and the second most populous country in the world.

But 55 percent of its population, according to Navtej Sarna of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, is without access to energy and clean drinking water which breeds diseases -- making these a major public health concern, but India is the only country in Asia with very ambitious plan and program on climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

Sarna’s pronouncement was made also before foreign media from Asia and European countries wherein this reporter was chosen by Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) as the sole participant from the Philippines in the 9th ASEF Journalists Colloquium.

The activity has for its theme “Media and the Green Climate Reporting on Sustainable Development in Asia and Europe.”

“Extreme poverty is disturbing the biggest number of our population without access to energy and clean water which breed diseases. So imagine that despite these challenges, the government of India has a very ambitious plan on climate change mitigation in Asia to address the effects of climate-related risks and pursuing environmentally friendly measures,” Sama told the participants.

The climate change mitigation program, according to key officials of India, is very vital as this is interlock with energy and green sustainability, environment, poverty reduction and engine for economic growth.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed upon at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 are set to expire in 2015.

During the recently concluded Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, UN member-states agreed to develop Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which takes into account the impact of development on the environment, to replace or to continue the MDGs.

To ensure the sustainable development for the upcoming generation, Ghosh said that in 2006, India’s National Environment Policy mandated and implemented programs protecting and conserving critical ecological systems and resources.

This, he said, is to ensure intra-generational and inter-generational equity; integrate environmental concerns in economic and social development to ensure efficiency in environmental resources use; implement principles of good environmental governance to enhance resources for environmental conservation, thus, teaching the people to recognize and respect the finiteness of the biosphere as sustainability outcomes depend not only on policies and regulations but also on the lifestyles of the people.

“We look at some indicators of lifestyles having a bearing on sustainability irrespective of income levels,” Ghosh said.

In 2008, a Greendex study was made by the National Geographic evaluating several countries on the sustainability of life styles.

In the first evaluation, India tied with Brazil for the first place but in all the subsequent evaluations (2009-2012), India was ranked 1.

To check if India is doing better or worse than currently developed countries when they were at comparable levels of development, a study showed that empirical relationship showing that during economic growth, environmental parameters at first worsened and then improved.

The historical turning point for currently developed countries is $ 6,000 to $ 8,000 per capita, the study said.

“India still has a long way to go in ensuring sustainable development, however, despite strenuous attempts by various quarters to portray India as environmentally irresponsible, a careful reading of the facts reveals otherwise. International comparisons show that India has generally done better than currently developed countries at comparable stages of their development. This is to be attributed to policies, laws, regulations and the inherent sustainability of India’s cultural norms,” Ghosh said.

To sustain green growth, green energy, reduce poverty, green economy towards sustainable development, a cross border partnership among governments, scientists, media, policy makers and humanity should be done to meet the global challenges ahead with the extreme climate. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/UTB

P200-M Bicol Medical Center expansion project to start in January

NAGA CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) –- The national government, through the Department of Health (DOH), will start the construction of the P200-million Bicol Medical Center (BMC) expansion project in January next year.

Dr. Jensy Ong, BMC chief training officer, said during the 2nd Nursing Conference held here Wednesday that the expansion includes the construction of a nine-storey hospital building with 800-bed capacity, 12 operating rooms and a basement.

Based on the Master Site Development Plan, building construction also includes the five-storey emergency laboratory center, two-storey cancer center, wellness center, cardiac catheterization center and recreational facilities, such as covered court, basket ball court, swimming pool and fitness gym.

The expansion program will also put up a seven-storey Medical Arts building designed with parking space and cafeterias on the ground and second floors and medical consultants’ clinics on the 3rd to 7th floors of the building.

According to Ong, this project was designed by Singaporean consultants, which serves as their counterpart as contractors of the project.

He pointed out some implications to healthcare in the expansion and development of the hospitals -- like health care capacity will be at par with national standards.

The BMC official said there is no need for clients to go to Manila to seek specialized medical management/treatment as health services in parity with national standards will be readily available at the BMC.

He also noted that the expansion project could help generate employment opportunities to at least 1,370 individuals with plantilla positions as their target.

The project will also provide a reasonable/affordable health facilities and services, better training and research environment and will also serve as the benchmark in pricing even for private hospitals, Ong said. (PNA) FFC/FGS/ALB/CBD

60,307 families in eastern Samar priority for relief assistance – DSWD Bicol
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) –- Eleven municipalities and one city in eastern Samar with a total of 60,307 dislocated families after the devastation brought by "Yolanda" have been given top priority for relief assistance by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol regional field office.

“Operation for relief assistance continues to reach out to all affected communities in eastern Samar, even those in the island areas,” said Lex Armena, DSWD Bicol official.

On Thursday, the DSWD disaster relief operation center in Albay dispatched another bulk of relief goods to be distributed in the municipalities of Quinapondan, Balangiga, Lawaan, Gen. McArthur, Gipodos, Salcedo, Hernani, San Juan, Balangkayan, Llorente, Sulat and Maydolong, and Borongan City -- all located in eastern Samar.

Armena said the number of 60,307 confirmed affected families may change or increase within 24 hours.

“We have sufficient supplies of both food and non-food items being distributed regularly to the Yolanda victims,” he assured.

Aside from sending relief goods to eastern Samar, DSWD Bicol provided emergency food and gasoline assistance to five families from Sta. Fe, Leyte, on Monday after they were given medical treatment at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital here.

“They decided to move to Bulacan after their properties were totally destroyed by Yolanda,” Armena said.(PNA) FFC/FGS/MDR/CBD

Salceda proposes cash transfers rather than in-kind assistance for 'Yolanda' victims
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- Albay Governor Joey S. Salceda, concurrently Bicol Regional Development Council chairman, is proposing to give cash transfers to the internally displaced families in Samar and Leyte provinces rather than in-kind assistance.

Salceda explained that cash transfer is much better than providing in-kind assistance to the surviving victims of calamities since most of the time, markets do a better job of satisfying the needs of communities, households and individual victims.

"The exercise of consumer choice is intrinsic to the dignity of climate or disaster victims as persons; even renaming them as beneficiaries does very little to restore dignity, especially to the 595,000 families deprived of a roof upon their head," according to him.

He pointed out that this is to avoid the dysfunctional but natural practice of bartering since one person probably has too much of sardines or would prefer "Ligo" sardines rather than "555."

"While the grand avalanche of relief goods across the nation and across the globe will make some of these donations less attractive and may lead to significant wastage," the Bicol official said.

One proposal is for donors to auction their collected in-kind donations and donate the proceeds to a particular local government unit, civil society organization or non-government organizations to support their operations.

He also said that for those in the city proper, another viable option is to give a community or a cluster of beneficiaries vouchers with an indicated amount, say P2,000.

"Then put up a PX commissary or hold an auction or bazaar where they can use such vouchers to purchase certain goods, say sardines up to 10 cans of Ligo priced at cost, NFA rice up to 25 kilos at P30," he added.

If they find it costly, then they can buy another brand with lower price and that allows them to exercise their consumer preference, thus, reaffirm their standing as a productive member of a local economy, the governor said.

Just like during the period of relief for typhoon "Reming," Salceda suggested that these 595,000 families should not be deprived of the chance to celebrate the spirit of Christmas.

"Since there was barely a few days to prepare, we should distribute Noche Buena packs to all families -- which is nondiscriminatory based on the National Statistics Office since assigning rich/poor distinction only gives some barangay officials the pretext to make choices," he recommended.

With more time to prepare right now, Salceda suggested that cash vouchers or Buena gift checks be given to all of the 595,000 displaced families and another P1,000 Media Noche gift check for New Year.

"That's the least we can do for our brothers and sisters in this nation of 92-percent Christian and in this most meaningful period in our faith - the period of Hope," the governor said.(PNA) FFC/FGS/MDR/CBD

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Salceda claims NEDA’s recovery cost for Central Philippines too conservative
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) -- The National Economic Development Authority's estimated cost of P250 billion to rebuild what super typhoon "Yolanda" destroyed in Central Visayas, and some parts of Mindanao, and Southern Luzon could go higher, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said on Wednesday.

Salceda, one of the country’s top economist and vice-chairman of the United Nation Green Fund Council (UNGFC), said that aside from the NEDA;s P250-billion projection to finance the cost of rebuildung shelter, schools, hospitals and vital infrastructure, it needs another P148 billion for other increments.

In total, the national government needs P398 billion or US billion resources to fully rebuild the Central Philippines, he added.

The P148-billion increment includes the P1.0 billion for weekly lifelines to thousands of internally displaced persons (food for 600,000 families for 18 months or until they are relocated/resettled); livelihood and agricultural rehabilitation, P50 billion; and incremental cost for disaster proofing and geostrategic intervention, P50 billion.

“That’s my estimate -- P250 billion plus DRR rights-sensitivity investments of P148 billion and we have a total of P398 billion,” Salceda said.

The former Macapagal-Arroyo administration chief of staff and economic adviser said the estimates are lower than Kinetics' estimate of billion and it is also comparable to the -billion assistance raised by the international community for Haiti in 2010.

Salceda was reacting to Economic Secretary Arsenio Balisacan’s statement that the government needs to seek cheap loans from development agencies amounting to P259 billion or .8 billion for reconstruction of structures destroyed by “Yolanda” in the Central Philippines.

Balisacan said in a report that if the government is successful in seeking loans and deploying resources for post-typhoon reconstruction, the economy might move faster there. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/CBD/UTB

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Salceda opens Albay to Visayan families displaced by 'Yolanda'
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) -– Survivors of super typhoon "Yolanda" in Samar and Leyte who were left homeless and have no place to stay are accepted with pleasure in the province of Albay.

They can permanently resettle in the province and start a new life of their own or stay for a year, provided with help like temporary dwelling points and all other basic human amenities and social services that the provincial government under Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda is offering.

These amenities and services include education, health, shelter, livelihood opportunities and security, among others that the province can afford.

In education, members of these displaced families who are elementary grade pupils and high school students will also be accommodated in local public schools as soon as they are here, according to Salceda.

For their health services, the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRRTH) being run by the Department of Health (DOH) and all public health institutions operated by the province and local government units will take care of these needs, he said.

For their shelter, the newly constructed evacuation camps in this city and the municipalities of Polangui, Libon, Oas, Sto. Domingo and Manito will be made available to them.

"These evacuation camps, constructed under Japanese standards by the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) as well as those provided by the Spanish government’s Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID) are certainly the best accommodation the country can ever provide to internally displaced persons (IDPs),” the governor said.

The facilities that for now can accommodate at least 10,000 persons or 2,000 families are provided with electricity, water, gender-sensitive toilets and baths, kitchens and safety installations like fire exits and extinguishers.

“We are willing and ready to adopt this number of families for a period of 12 months but the number does not stop there as beyond that, the province has its new family fostering program called “Albay Hero-Hiro (Albay Hero-Move) to take the others in,” Salceda said.

He said the 12-month period is APSEMO’s best estimate for the government to build decent shelter for those left homeless in Tacloban City and other localities that were flattened by Yolanda.

The fostering program is a ‘big brother’-style of accommodation that the APSEMO has conceptualized. “Albay Hero-Hiro” in coined from the phrase “Albay, Hiro-Hiro”, a generic battle cry of the provincial government towards resilience against natural disasters and economic development, which means “Keep Moving, Albay.”

It is being undertaken for calamity-displaced families in collaboration with the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and Municipal and City Social Welfare and Development Office.

These offices will accredit them and attend to their needs during this 12-month period, according to the governor, whose administration has been in the forefront of attending to the needs of the survivors in Tacloban and neighboring municipalities that were badly devastated by the super typhoon.

Without waiting for a distress call, Albay has made its presence in the calamity-torn areas of the Visayas region, particularly Tacloban, since day one of the relief and rescue operations by dispatching its 179-man team of emergency response operators under the APSEMO bringing along with them food, water and medical supplies for the victims.

“We don’t stop after responding to the emergency needs of these victims. We will continue offering and providing help until they are able to stand up again. It may be a long process as long-term planning is required to ensure that these people, mostly farmers and fishermen, can resume their livelihoods,” Salceda said.

“While we were able to provide relief to the people as fast as we could, rebuilding a community will surely take time and funds. However, starting early with the victims can go a long way. Instead of giving them food at this point and time that relief has been delivered, give them money," Salceda said.

Commerce is set to follow once there is money being circulated in the region. This also gives them the option to choose what to eat and the power to spend, he explained.

On their shelter, the government should not prolong their stay in tent cities – they can be dehumanizing. Instead, invest on better-constructed housing units.

Tents or bunkhouses are second only to homelessness in degrading the dignity of victims, Salceda said.

“On the other hand, rebuilding what was lost is also not enough. We should be building back better elsewhere and now is the perfect opportunity to build a resilient society in one of the country's poorest regions,” he stressed.

To sustain the needs of the survivors from the Visayas who would be coming as IDPs to Albay, Salceda said, the province will seek national government funding.

“We will also tap volunteer families, private organizations and humanitarian institutions into these fostering contracts,” he added.

Concerned agencies like the Departments of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Agriculture (DA), Trade and Industry (DTI) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), among others will also be tapped in helping these refugees with livelihood options to help them pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

Salceda said this undertaking of the Albay provincial government is in support to the disaster risk reduction strategy which he pioneered, bannered by its “zero casualty” goal through preemptive evacuations during impending calamity situations.

“The fundamental response of Albay to climate change, disaster risk and poverty is the radical transformation of its people into communities with a total culture of giving and the development of responsive institutions like the APSEMO, Albay Millennium Development Goals Office and Climate Change Academy Albay,” he added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

New boulevard to be constructed soon in northern Legazpi By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) -– To sustain the booming tourism industry here, the City Government of Legazpi will put up a new boulevard to be constructed at the northern part of this city anytime next year after the completion of all the necessary requirements, permits and clearances, Mayor Noel E. Rosal said in an interview Tuesday.

The proposed project is a tourism-related infrastructure that will cover the coastal barangays of Sabang, Pigcale, Centro, Baybay and San Roque and will have an estimated road length of 2.7 kilometers.

Its right of way will utilize a foreshore land area of 24,000 linear meters.

It will include the construction of a 380-meter long reinforced concrete deck girder bridge to connect the boulevard across the Tibu and Yawa rivers.

Based on the concept study prepared by the City Planning Office, the estimated cost for the construction of the project is P240 million.

The project involves the laying of core rocks, backfill, area reclamation, grouted rip-rap, foundation, retaining wall, construction of two-lane all-weather concrete road, sidewalk and bike lanes, bridge approach and railings, solar street lights, construction of concrete fence, landscaping, greens and buffer zones and relocation site, if necessary.

The boulevard will serve an alternative route going to the regional government center in Barangay Rawis and to the First District of Albay.

It will be an extension of the eight-kilometer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi Boulevard located at the southern part of this city and known as the longest boulevard outside Metro Manila.

“The ambiance of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi Boulevard is perfect for physical activities and it will surely be a favorite venue of physical enthusiasts,” Rosal pointed out.

He said the project will serve as an opening avenue for economic prosperity and a welcome addition to the many land marks established by his administration for the past years as chief executive of the city.

The Legazpi City mayor stressed that the new boulevard will become a haven for leisure, recreation and entertainment for tourists and visitors who want to spend their vacation in Legazpi.

The Department of Tourism has declared Legazpi City as the biggest drawer of tourists and visitors today, as it has become the convention center of the country.

The city posted 22.16-percent growth rate in tourist arrivals in 2012 and it has hosted several big conventions, conferences and other national gatherings for the past years.

The new boulevard will also open window for opportunities to all the Legazpenos who want to engage in any form of entrepreneurial activities that will help generate jobs and employment to the constituents residing in the involved villages, Rosal added.

He said all the areas covered by this proposed project would have an increased land valuation and help sustain the economic growth of the city. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EPS/CBD/

From trash, Bicolanos cashing in on pili nut shell (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) – For Bicolanos whose orchards are not without pili trees, pili nut shell is no longer appreciated only as for charcoal but an important material in crafting valuable wares.

Enterprising handicraft makers mostly in Sorsogon and Albay where pili trees are largely grown, the shells are made into home decors, fashion accessories, key chains, fridge magnets and a lot more.

At the handicraft section of the Pasalubong Center at the Legazpi Central pili key chains are sold at P10-P15 each, fridge magnet at P15-P20, accessories and home decors at P50-P400 depending on the design.

It takes however resourcefulness and craftsmanship to earn extra income from the shell and appreciating its broad potential and realizing these needs, the Regional Field unit (RFU) for Bicol of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been conducting training on the craft under its Agri-Pinoy High Value Commercial Crops and Gender and Development (GAD) projects.

Initially, the RFU has already engaged about 25 Rural Improvement Clubs (RICs) and 4H Clubs from various parts of the region’s six provinces in the training, an intervention designed to provide rural women additional income by using the waste products of pili.

According to DA’s High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) regional coordinator Rosita Imperial here on Tuesday, DA will continue to conduct trainings on value adding on major commodities not only to rural women but to interested micro entrepreneurs.

Engaging women in the intervention is part of the agency’s program towards capacitating them into productivity and generation of additional income for the family.

It is important that women’s contributions in production, post harvest and processing activities are enhanced as GAD refers to their empowerment not only as mere housewives but partners in community building and poverty alleviation, Aloha Gigi Bañaria, DA’s GAD program focal person for the region said.

Imperial said to ensure that those trained apply what they learned and produce quality products out of shell craft, the program provided each RIC and 4H Club with mechanical equipments that will help make their works easier and faster and be able to come up with more refined finished products.

De-shelling a pili nut however remains perfectly done through the century-old tradition of manual cracking Bicolanos called “pagtilad” which is cracking the tough nut using a bolo, with unbelievably rhythmic, graceful and accurate whacking.

Expert paratilad (nutcrackers), usually rural Sorsogon women could easily slice through the thick, hardwood-esque pili shells and finish 100 kilograms in a day’s work, Jamoralin said.

Workers in the province’s pili industry are 58 percent women who handle the cleaning, most of the cracking, cooking and packaging stages in processing pili nuts. The male workers—42 percent-- are mainly in charge of harvest, delivery and partly de-shelling.

According to DA regional executive director Abelardo Bragas, the creativity of Bicolanos engaged in the crafting of highly salable decorative and wearable items out of pili shells, a once trash by-product of pili nuts that in the past were useful only as kindling if not dumped elsewhere to rot is impressive.

Pili shells have evolved in terms of its usage into a new industry that now provides both the domestic and international markets with valuable items like home decors and even body accessories like native necklace, earrings, headbands and bracelets that has already gained some fashion statement within ecology-conscious circles, Bragas said.

With its entrance in the global market, pili shell now offers opportunities for agricultural communities in Bicol especially in Sorsogon province which is the region’s leading producer of pili to make use of the shell in an industry that promises more economic returns, he said.

Started several years back by the RIC, a barangay-based organization of women in Sorsogon City, the shell has been creatively produced as elegant fashion jewelry and as add on local material that goes with beautifully crafted home products displayed in souvenir item stores and malls in the region as well as in Metro Manila.

Alicia Jamoralin, the RIC coordinator of Sorsogon said the industry has opened a livelihood opportunity to rural families that produce very salable being low-priced but artistically handcrafted products now usually worn casually or even with office uniform by women who loves donning a bit of style in their daily dressing concepts.

It has also entered the market of innovative fashion jewelries as one of the best exportable biodegradable products, Jamoralin said.

“This ingenuity of the village men and women in using pili shell into different fashion jewelries has now gained some global recognition based on the different demand for this product which the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) seen during recent trade fairs and as monitored from local and Manila outlets,” she added.

Bragas said the DA arrived at the intervention of training and providing equipments to the frontline pili shell industry players in Bicol to facilitate wider production of the industry that has become a home-based agri-entrepreneur engagement among pili producing barangays in the region.

Indeed, he said these people are further proving that pili that has emerged as another “Tree of Life” next to coconut is the flagship crop of Bicol which has opened additional opportunities for Bicolanos to liberate themselves from poverty that makes the region one of the poorest in the country. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Catanduanes town deputy police chief found dead inside her office

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Nov. 19 (PNA) – The deputy chief of police of the Panganiban Municipal Police Office (PMPO) was found dead by fellow police officers in her office in Barangay San Nicolas (Poblacion), Panganiban, Catanduanes, Tuesday morning.

A report reaching Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol police regional director, identified the victim as SPO1 Eva B. Ceballo, married, also the Women and Children’s Protection Desk (WCPD) chief of the PMPO.

The report said Ceballo was found dead inside her quarter in the PMPO at about 6:25 a.m.

Fellow police officers forced open the door of her room after her sister heard a gunshot and immediately asked their assistance.

They found Ceballo with gunshot wound in her head and still clutching her 9mm-caliber service firearm.

Police said the deputy police chief had a case about a businessman, a certain Carlos Barba Jr., who was allegedly a victim of revolutionary tax extortion by one who introduced himself as a New People’s Army member.

Barba reportedly received a text message from the suspect who introduced himself as Jay Cabrera alias Ka Arman, a construction worker and a resident of Sta. Maria, Panganiban town.

Ceballo reportedly arrested the suspect in an entrapment operation.

She was supposed to file a case against Cabrera but the weather was bad and there was no prosecutor on duty while the court was close.

The police were forced to set the suspect free.

However, from that time, Ceballo had been receiving text messages, believed to have come from Cabrera.

With the continuous messages of threat, Ceballo was not able to sleep well, prompting her fellow police officers to convince her to sleep inside the police office for her security.

Due to the threats, Ceballo started to act strangely, according to her sister, who then planned to bring her to a doctor but was not able to do because of what had happened.

On Tuesday morning, the victim locked herself up inside her temporary room and after a while, her sister heard a gunshot.

The police are now in custody of Ceballo’s cellphone where they saw the text messages of threat of one Ka Arman. (PNA) PDS/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Effective community worker must have dedication, patience -- and a bag of must-have items (Feature)
By Jesseshan B. Marbella

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) -- To most development workers like Rudynen “Rudz” L. Elaurza, their line of work is challenging yet rewarding.

“It requires much patience, and dealing with people from different walks of life is simply about respect,” Rudz, as she is fondly called by her co-workers, confessed, adding “You cannot please everyone around you but you need to maintain an objective approach in dealing with them.”

Such is the life of the field workers of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the core poverty-alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Kalahi-CIDSS seeks to actively engage people by empowering them so they can become active participants in identifying and solving the key problems affecting their communities.

Rudz is one of the field workers or community facilitators (CFs) of Kalahi-CIDSS who are directly responsible for achieving this.

They do this to ensure that all stakeholders, from the communities to the local government units to even third-party groups -- such as civil society organizations -- are involved throughout the process through their active participation.

The CFs are tasked with mobilizing residents to participate in Kalahi-CIDSS and facilitating their participation in the project’s processes and activities, such as barangay assemblies.

Each community facilitator handles five barangays within a Kalahi-CIDSS municipality.

Optimistic

From San Pascual, Libon, Albay, Rudz joined DSWD in 2012 and is now assigned to Gubat, Sorsogon, where she handles and monitors five barangays in the municipality -- Cabiguhan, Carriedo, Casili, Manapao and Payawin.

She learned that it is not easy to be a CF but is optimistic about her work.

“Rudz loves her work,” Joel Esperanzate, one of the residents of Manapao and a Kalahi-CIDSS volunteer said, “and I can attest to this, having seen her dedication to her job.”

“We can easily call on her, and she is always willing to help us. She personally comes to us anytime we need her assistance. She teaches us what to do, particularly with paperwork,” Esperanzate said.

Rudz said field workers should love their work and should be dedicated enough to surpass the hardships and demands of the job.

“Since community organizing is the primary duty of a CF, we need to cross boundaries to help the poor people in need,” she said.

For her dedication to work, Rudz was awarded as Bicol’s Best Kalahi-CIDSS Community Facilitator for 2012.

“Dedication to work, however, is not only the instrument of a community facilitator that he or she must in doing his or her job but also must-have items,” she claimed.

Due to the nature of their tasks, Rudz said, it is imperative that CFs are always prepared in their line of work.

Most of community facilitators of Kalahi-CIDSS use backpacks when going out to the areas they are handling.

Rudz, however, prefers her pink shoulder bag, having been used to carrying shoulder bags since she was in high school.

Bag items

The things inside her bag are a silent testament to how dedicated Rudz is in performing her duties.

Kikay Kit. Rudz wants to be presentable and tidy when facing the people in the community so she never forgets to bring her “kikay (vanity) kit.” Aside from the expected comb, face moisturizer, makeup, perfume, powder and lipstick, she also has alcohol, facial tissues and wet wipes, for sanitary purposes. She also has her ointment rub handy for insect bites and body pains. These essentials keep Rudz fresh and neat during her regular field work.

Office Supplies. Rudz’s bag is like a mobile office with all the necessary supplies she needs for community work. Since Kalahi-CIDSS involves a lot of paperwork, she makes sure that she has available office items in her bag. She has a plentiful collection of ballpens for meetings and community assemblies. On top of that, she ensures that she has scissors, stapler, scotch tape, glue stick, correction tape, pencils, markers and sticky notes. Her steno pad keeps a record of her activities and also serves as a journal. She tracks her daily schedule and notes important issues and concerns from the community. This, in return, becomes the basis for her plans of actions.

File Envelope Bag. Forms are important in a CF’s life. Rudz always carries her file envelope bag to ensure that she submits completed documents by the community to the office. Basically, these forms and documents are intended to capture the whole process of empowerment wherein trained residents prepare the said documents needed by the project.

Umbrella. Rudz simply says getting ill is prohibited for field workers like her. Aside from sun protection, the umbrella gives her refuge when the erratic weather shifts into a downpour, especially when she’s out in the field for monitoring.

Digital Camera. Documentation of community activities is required from CFs. Rudz takes her personal point-and-shoot camera to document all activities such as the conduct of community consultations, assemblies and other events related to the implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS. Her camera comes with rechargeable AA batteries and charger.

Office ID. Basically, Rudz always brings her ID to be formally recognized by those unfamiliar with her in the locality.

Pouch. Her violet pouch contains keys, receipts and her ATM card. Her religious side is reflected in her Novena booklet and her rosary. Her money is also in her pouch. She spends about P200 a day on her food, transportation and other expenses.

Cellular Phone. According to Rudz, she can live without most of the other things inside her bag – except for her cellphone. Communication is a vital part of her job, especially since she monitors five different barangays. She maintains a consistent link to those people in the barangay by receiving updates and queries sent through her cellphone. This also keeps her close to her co-workers, family, relatives and friends.

Yes, indeed! To be an effective community facilitator, one must have plenty of dedication to work and patience – and enough must-have items. Take it from Rudz. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DSWD/CBD

DSWD hails Albay volunteers in repacking of relief goods

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office 5 based here Tuesday hailed the different organizations, individuals and students for volunteering their free time to help in the repacking of relief goods intended for the victims of super typhoon "Yolanda" in Eastern Visayas.

DSWD FO5 Director Arnel B. Garcia said repacking of relief goods continues at the Albay Astrodome and at the Albay Capitol Building, which have been identified as the receiving areas for the donations.

“We commend every Albayano who volunteered to help DSWD in the preparation of food packs,” Garcia said.

He said the services of volunteers from different sectors of Albay is commendable.

We also commend the initiative of Albay Governor Joey Salceda for sending 'Team Albay' in Tacloban City to provide humanitarian services to the local government and to the survivors,” the DSWD official said.

He added that out of the 11,372 food packs produced during the first day of repacking, 8,000 were initially allocated and transported to Samar.

At present, additional of 3,296 family food packs were sent to Tacloban City.

Each food pack contains three kilos of rice, seven canned goods, and 10 sachets of coffee -- amounting to P257.30 per food pack.

“The repacking of food and non-food items shall continue to ensure augmentation support to the relief operations in areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda,” Garcia said.

The DSWD continues to assess the extent of damage caused by the typhoon.

Based on the initial rapid assessment report conducted by 22 DSWD field workers, a total of 21 municipalities and cities in the province of Samar were affected by the super typhoon.

These are Arteche, Balangiga, Balangkayan, Borongan, Can-abid, Dolores, Gen. McArthur, Giporlos, Guian, Hernani, Lawaan, Llorente, Maydolong, Mercedes, Oras, Quinacondan, Salcedo, San Juan, San Policarpio, Sulat and Taft.

A total of 64,729 families or 202,817 persons were also affected by the devastation brought by "Yolanda".

Garcia said the initial reports recorded shall form part of the bases of on-going interventions and the rehabilitation plans that will be formulated by the department.

Moreover, to facilitate the receipt, acknowledgement and processing of donations, the DSWD has established donation desks manned by DSWD staff in the six provinces of the Bicol region. (PNA) LGI/FGS/MDR/CBD

Gov’t agencies converge to improve Bicol town’s agricultural landscape
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) -– Various government agencies have pooled their resources together in coming up with projects worth over P208 million intended to raise the economy of a highly impoverished agricultural town in Bicol.

The projects, hatched under a program dubbed “Garchitorena: A Landscape in Rural Development” would be a showcase of national government agencies’ adoption of the concept of national convergence initiative where resources of participating departments are pooled together to bring in the much needed rural development interventions.

Benefiting from the program is Garchitorena, a sleepy fourth class municipality of Camarines Sur sitting at the northern tip of the Bicol Peninsula and home to more than 25,000 people mostly farmers and fisher folks.

The program would invest to stimulate the agricultural economy of this depressed town, reduce poverty confronting its people and bring about self-sustaining growth, Luis Bueno, Jr., the regional director for Bicol of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) based in this city said on Tuesday.

DAR is lead agency of the convergence initiative that involves the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

All these agencies take part in response to the Indicative Development Plan of Garchitorena that calls for infrastructure development and other pre- and post-harvest supports toward agricultural productivity particularly in the municipality’s agrarian reform areas.

So far, Bueno said the initiative already had some P208.4 million in fund coming from the DAR’s Agrarian Reform Communities Project Phase 2 (ARCP2) to feed the hunger for government interventions of agrarian reform communities (ARCs) in Garchitorena.

Under the infrastructure intervention plan, the municipality will be provided with rural infrastructures such as farm-to market-roads and bridges, school buildings, flood control structures and potable water systems.

On production support, Garchitorena farmers, mostly agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) will be provided farm machineries and tools; palay, corn and vegetable seeds; coconut seedlings; and other high-value crop planting materials.

The fisher folks on the other hand would be supplied with tilapia fingerlings; given seaweed culture projects and mangrove propagules, among other coastal community productivity assistances.

Intensified coconut production, tree planting under the National Greening Program (NGP) and organic farming are also included in the package. A livestock and poultry multiplier farm will likewise be established in the area.

On the coconut program, Bueno said the local convergence initiative started with the earlier collaboration forged between DAR and PCA wherein thousands of seedlings have been made available for distribution to ARBs all over Bicol.

In order to ensure sustainability, Bueno said these projects will be complemented with appropriate livelihood programs and local farmers will be made to undergo technology trainings to become para-technicians and agri-extension workers.

The recent launching of the convergence program themed “DARamayan Bikolnon, Garchitorena Pauswagon,” hosted by town mayor Jesus Rico Sarmiento, Bueno said was highlighted by the presentation of the development plan, declaration of commitment, awarding of credit assistance to recipient farmers and distribution of farm equipments and seedlings of various crops.

It was held in Asonvia, a far-flung coastal barangay reached by the participating agencies through a five-hour caravan over a rugged road along a rolling terrain to launch the unprecedented program that is seen to make Garchitorena one of most notable sites of the government’s high-impact projects in Bicol, Bueno said.

The newly-completed community-based potable water supply, sanitation and hygiene (CPWASH) project initiated by the DAR provincial office was also turned over to the recipient community of Barangay Canlong during the affair.

Ground breaking ceremony for the P14.6-million rehabilitation of Poblacion-Ason farm-to-market-road (FMR) under the ARCP 2 funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) was another highlight of the occasion.

Separated by a 130-kilometer partly rugged road from the municipality of Pili, Camarines Sur’s provincial capital, Garchitorena’s economy, according to Bueno had been lagging behind other agricultural towns of Bicol because of the absence of modern farming technologies, poor irrigation and insurgency problem that further complicates the dismal plight of its residents. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

(Feature)Ginger not just a spice but medicine too

CASTILLA, Sorsogon, Nov. 19 (PNA) -- Every morning, a good-looking man in ordinary farmer’s getup can be seen inside a fenced lot at a central village here with a water hose trained on his wide garden of assorted vegetables and other high-value crops, including ginger plants.

Renato Laurinaria, 58, a former police officer who entered politics to become mayor for nine years of this third class agricultural town and later vice-governor of Sorsogon province, has embraced vegetable gardening as a hobby after going out of government service.

He grows ginger in his half-a-hectare garden not for its commercial value but for household consumption.

“In every cropping, I grow ginger roots enough for a year-round household consumption not only as spice that provides a burning taste to our delicacies but more importantly for its medicinal powers that are traditionally and scientifically proven,” he declared to PNA over the weekend.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is usually a common cooking ingredient and many people may not know that it has high medicinal value handed down from ancient life, he said.

For thousands of years, ginger has been hailed as a superfood for its healing properties that aid every system of the body.

The oils that ginger contains are antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal and has also been found to inhibit cancer growth.

Ginger root, Laurinaria said, is well known as a remedy for travel sickness, nausea and indigestion and is used for wind, colic, irritable bowel, loss of appetite, chills, cold, flu, poor blood circulation, menstrual cramps, dyspepsia, indigestion and gastrointestinal problems such as gas and stomach cramps.

It is also proven to be a powerful anti-inflammatory herb and there has been much recent interest in its use for joint problems.

It has also been found good for fever, headache, toothache, cough and bronchitis, and used to ease tendonitis, lower cholesterol and aid in preventing internal blood clots.

Though widely used as an effective antidote to queasiness, it can also keep cholesterol levels under control, lower blood pressure by keeping the blood thin in higher doses and helps ease the inflammation associated with arthritis such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers have also found that ginger helps kill the influenza virus, plus it helps the immune system fight infection.

Recent studies found that ginger extract significantly reduced pain related to osteoarthritis of the knee.

About an ounce a day will bring benefits and using it in stir-fry dishes or meat marinades gives enough to help.

Ginger roots can also be grated and steeped in hot boiling water to make herbal tea.

Laurinaria said ginger root has been well researched and many of its traditional uses confirmed.

Ginger root is a medicinal herb used primarily for the treatment of dyspepsia (discomfort after eating) -- this includes the symptoms of bloating, heartburn, flatulence and nausea.

It is also considered helpful as a preventative for motion sickness and as a digestive.

Owing to its antispasmodic characteristic, some people have used it to help ease menstrual cramps and it may also be taken orally as a herbal remedy to prevent or relieve nausea resulting from chemotherapy, motion sickness, pregnancy and surgery.

Results of laboratory studies as well as from small studies conducted among seasick sailors or ship passengers, found that ginger generally has more effectiveness for relieving motion sickness than placebo or sugar pills.

Ginger has also been used in folk medicine to treat minor gastrointestinal problems such as gas or stomach cramps.

Recent studies may confirm that ginger directly affects the gastrointestinal tract, helping to improve muscle tone and prevent abnormally rapid and strong intestinal contractions.

A few small studies that have been conducted in humans have shown some promise for supplemental ginger in the treatment of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

If a person has exercised too much or suffers from arthritis or rheumatism, ginger has been known to ease inflammation of the joints and muscle tissue.

Owing to its tremendous circulation-increasing qualities, ginger is thought to improve the complexion.

It has reduced nervousness, eased tendonitis and helped sore throats return to normal.

Studies demonstrate that ginger can lower cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol absorption in the blood and liver; it may also aid in preventing internal blood clots.

Ginger root was recently the subject of a startling new research report presented at The American Association for Cancer research conference in Phoenix.

In the study, ginger actually suppressed cancer cells suggesting that the herb was able to fuel apoptosis or the death of the cancer cells.

Ginger has been shown to work against skin, ovarian, colon and breast cancer.

But it has not been shown to halt the progression of cancer until now, thus, requiring more research to confirm this. (PNA) LOR/FGS/DOC/CBD/DOC/UTB

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Catanduanes town deputy police chief found dead inside her office

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Nov. 19 (PNA) – The deputy chief of police of the Panganiban Municipal Police Office (PMPO) was found dead by fellow police officers in her office in Barangay San Nicolas (Poblacion), Panganiban, Catanduanes, Tuesday morning.

A report reaching Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol police regional director, identified the victim as SPO1 Eva B. Ceballo, married, also the Women and Children’s Protection Desk (WCPD) chief of the PMPO.

The report said Ceballo was found dead inside her quarter in the PMPO at about 6:25 a.m.

Fellow police officers forced open the door of her room after her sister heard a gunshot and immediately asked their assistance.

They found Ceballo with gunshot wound in her head and still clutching her 9mm-caliber service firearm.

Police said the deputy police chief had a case about a businessman, a certain Carlos Barba Jr., who was allegedly a victim of revolutionary tax extortion by one who introduced himself as a New People’s Army member.

Barba reportedly received a text message from the suspect who introduced himself as Jay Cabrera alias Ka Arman, a construction worker and a resident of Sta. Maria, Panganiban town.

Ceballo reportedly arrested the suspect in an entrapment operation.

She was supposed to file a case against Cabrera but the weather was bad and there was no prosecutor on duty while the court was close.

The police were forced to set the suspect free.

However, from that time, Ceballo had been receiving text messages, believed to have come from Cabrera.

With the continuous messages of threat, Ceballo was not able to sleep well, prompting her fellow police officers to convince her to sleep inside the police office for her security.

Due to the threats, Ceballo started to act strangely, according to her sister, who then planned to bring her to a doctor but was not able to do because of what had happened.

On Tuesday morning, the victim locked herself up inside her temporary room and after a while, her sister heard a gunshot.

The police are now in custody of Ceballo’s cellphone where they saw the text messages of threat of one Ka Arman. (PNA) PDS/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Albayanos-repacked DSWD family food items now in 9 eastern Samar towns

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) --Twenty-two field workers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 5 (DSWD-F05) on Tuesday are distributing relief goods to the victims of super typhoon “Yolanda” in nine municipalities and Borongan City in eastern Samar.

Arnel B. Garcia, DSWD FO5 director, identified the municipalities as Quinapondan, Balangiga, Lawaan, General Macarthur, Giporlos, Salcedo, Hernani, Llorente and Maydolong.

The 22 DSWD workers, he said, are now handing out 24, 664 DSWD family food packs to affected families.

Each pack contains three kilos of rice, four cans of sardines, two cans of corned beef, one can of Vienna sausage and 10 pieces of coffee with a total cost of P257.30.

These items were repacked at the Albay Astrodome, the operation center for relief items for Leyte and Samar provinces, by volunteer Albayano students, housewives and civil society organization members.

These were hauled by 17 military and private trucks which left last Sunday.

“The relief distribution in these areas will continue for five days to assure that the goods will reach the distressed families,” Garcia said.

The DSWD FO5 has already sent a total of 78 employees to aid in the disaster operations and will continue to deploy more staff to help the victims of the super typhoon.

There were 11,296 DSWD family food packs shipped last week to Guiuan, Taft and Balangiga in Eastern Visayas.

“We will produce more family food packs out of 10,000 sacks of NFA rice for the coming days,” Garcia added.

Meanwhile, more Albayanos are volunteering to help in the repacking activity. (PNA) PDS/FGS/EPS/CBD/

Bicolanos unite to help ‘Yolanda’ victims in neighboring Visayan region (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 18 (PNA) – Bicol also has its share of the devastation wrought by super typhoon "Yolanda" which affected over 145,000 families, killed five persons and destroyed some P175 million worth of agricultural crops in the region.

But the grisly pictures of deaths and undreamed-of degree of destruction in its neighboring Visayan regions are touching every Bicolano heart into moving to be of help in easing the unimaginable sufferings confronting the survivors.

The Albay provincial government under Gov. Joey Salceda, insofar as Bicol and other nearby Luzon regions are concerned, led the pack in responding by promptly -- without waiting for the call for help -- sending its highly-trained army of rescue and relief operators that bring along with them goods and equipment badly needed by the victims.

Since day one of the rescue and relief operations until today, aids have been pouring in from all corners of the world, the Albay Quick Response Team of 179 warm bodies -- armed with the heart and determination to help -- is still in the badly-whipped Tacloban City and neighboring localities doing the noble works of retrieving dead bodies, feeding the hungry and healing the sick survivors.

The team is headed by Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Officer Cedric Daep, an expert in disaster relief operations, and provincial board member Joseph Philip Lee, chairman of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Special Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.

The local government here headed by City Mayor Noel Rosal followed by dispatching a convoy of heavy engineering equipment to help in the road clearing operations with truckloads of food commodities and clothing as relief items.

Rosal, a road engineer himself, personally supervised the engineering team’s works that led to the reopening of several routes for the delivery of relief goods to areas around Tacloban City whose roads were temporarily rendered impassable due to the debris dumped by the storm.

Today, as calls for help mount, local government units and private groups across Bicol have been putting their acts together to help.

In Camarines Sur, the Pili municipal government under Mayor Alexis San Luis has launched “Tacloban, Tabangan” (Let us Help Tacloban), a project being done in partnership with the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division's Civil Military Operations Battalion, Unibersidad de Sta. Isabel, Camarines Sur Medical Society and other private organizations.

The same town also has the “Dyes Mo para sa Biktima kan Bagyo (Your 10 Centavos for the Typhoon Victims)” to solicit even a meager amount from nameless donors to sustain the fund drive.

“Let us help our brothers and sisters in Tacloban who are in dire need, especially of food and water. Let us join hands and find strength in this unfortunate time,” was the appeal aired by San Luis over the weekend.

Last week, Gawad Kalinga-Camarines Sur Provincial office, in cooperation with the City government of Naga and the office of the province’s third congressional district Rep. Leni G. Robredo also launched the same appeal in behalf of the people of Samar and Leyte.

Such appeal has so far generated a 10-wheeler truckload of relief goods which will be delivered to Tacloban City on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

The Camarines Sur chapter of the Philippine National Red Cross, apart from soliciting donations, is also offering “Tracing Services” for those families who want to locate missing members.

Various radio stations in the region have also come out with separate campaigns to generate more donations for the Samar-Leyte victims.

In Catanduanes, the provincial legislative board headed by Vice-Gov. Jose Teves Jr. last week approved a resolution providing for the appropriation of P400,000 in financial assistance to Leyte.

The provincial government headed by Gov. Araceli Wong is also sending food items, medicines and other goods generated from donations given by Catanduanons.

The Catanduanes offices of the Department of Education, through various schools in the province, has also been accepting community donations while the Association of Chiefs of Government Offices is conducting a fund-raising campaign whose proceeds will be turned over to the local office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

On the other hand, the Catanduanes Contractors Association has also come up with 300 bags of rice, which the group is delivering to Tacloban City this week.

The First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc., for its part, is sending a team of crewmen with equipment to help in the restoration of power in Samar and Leyte.

In Camarines Norte, Gov. Edgardo Tallado has issued a memorandum creating the “Kilos ng Bayan” project that rallies town governments and their constituents, public and private agencies, as well as social and civic organizations into donating relief goods for the Visayan victims.

In an open letter distributed in the province, Tallado said : “Ang inyo pong lingkod ay humihingi ng tulong sa ngalan ng lalawigan ng Camarines Norte para maibsan ang sakit at hirap ng naging epekto ng nagdaang sakuna sa ating mga kababayan sa Kabisayaan (Yours truly is asking for help in behalf of the province of Camarines Norte to ease the pain and suffering of our fellowmen resulting from the past disaster in the Visayas.”

The Philippine News Agency Legazpi Bureau manned by news reporter and bureau network controller Connie Destura also has its own way of generating relief goods by accepting donations from students, friends in the local media community and other supporters. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Flow of vehicles using Matnog port eases as Navy deploys vessels
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 18 (PNA) –- The flow of traffic of vehicles transporting relief goods and passengers from various parts of Luzon to Leyte and Samar provinces in eastern Visayas through the port Matnog in Sorsogon to the Allen port in northern Samar has eased up with the deployment of Philippine Navy ships.

The Navy, through its Naval Forces Southern Luzon, has deployed BRP Dagupan City (LC 551), a logistics support vessel, and BRP Tagbanua (AT 296), a landing craft utility vessel, from Cebu City to Matnog port to help decongest the number of stranded rescuers, relief operations, military troops and humanitarian mission caravan bound for Leyte and Samar.

Commodore Manuel Abinuman, Navforsol commander, said the AT 296 left Matnog port at 2:10 a.m. Monday bound for Allen port with 80 tons of cargo -- consisting of four M35 trucks, one Elf truck, one pick-up and two sports utility vehicles – and 19 civilians and 30 military passengers.

Abinuman said another four more Philippine Navy Auxiliary Reserve Unit (PNARU) vessels manned by naval reservists are expected to arrive Monday to augment the decongestion operation by helping ferry those stranded to the two provinces.

The Navy has also commissioned MV Maria Natasia, another PNARU vessel, and has already transported relief goods, military troops, disaster responders and trucks from Matnog port.

The augmentation of PN vessels is solely for relief and disaster response purposes, Abinuman clarified.

Thus, priorities will be personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, government line agencies and local government units.(PNA) FFC/FGS/EPS/CBD

789 newly promoted PNP-Bicol police officers take oath

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Nov. 18 (PNA) -- A total of 789 newly-promoted police commissioned officers formally had their mass pinning and oath-taking ceremonies on Monday at the Police Regional Office 5 here.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol police regional director, administered the mass pinning and oath-taking of the newly-promoted PCOs.

Promoted where senior inspectors - 21; inspector - one; senior police officer 4 - two; senior police officer 3 - five; senior police officer 2 - nine; senior police officer 1 - 19; police officer 3 - 219; and police officer 2 - 513.

Some of them belong to the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Class 2009 (Kaisang-Bisig).

"It's not just a decoration on your uniform; it means more responsibilities," Deona stressed before the police officers.

He exhorted them to continuously excel in their official duty as peace officers and protectors of the civilian populace.

The ceremonies were witnessed by relatives of the promoted officers.

The police officers given one rank higher positions are assigned to the different provincial and municipal police offices in the region. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/UTB

Monday, November 18, 2013

25 truckloads of relief goods from Bicol arriving in eastern Samar Monday

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 18 (PNA) –- Twenty-five truckloads of relief goods from Bicol intended for Leyte and Samar will leave Matnog Port in Sorsogon Monday and will arrive at their destinations on the same day, a regional official of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said.

Rafael Bernardo Alejandro, OCD regional director, on Monday said the military transport trucks being used by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Disaster Relief Convoy are now being loaded in MV Christian James while five trucks were accommodated in the Navy’s AT 296, a landing craft, that left Matnog Port at 2 a.m. Monday.

Alejandro said the Philippine Navy, through the Naval Forces Southern Luzon, has deployed two vessels at Matnog port to help decongest vehicular traffic in the area.

Another four Philippine Navy Auxiliary Reserve Unit (PNARU) vessels manned by naval reservists will arrive on Monday at the Matnog Port to augment delivery of relief operations in Samar and Leyte.

Another PNARU vessel has started transporting relief goods, military troops, disaster responders and trucks from the port, Alejandro added.

The DSWD in Bicol on Sunday shipped 24,664 emergency family food packs to Samar and Leyte provinces, a regional DSWD official said today.

The relief packs are the third batch of food items loaded in 17 Army trucks for delivery to 10 towns of eastern Samar where thousands of families were affected and displaced by super typhoon “Yolanda,” according to Arnel Garcia, DSWD regional director.

The food items, which include three kilos of rice and canned goods, were repacked at Albay Astrodome by hundreds of volunteers working on a three-shift daily.

Albay province, which was commissioned to undertake the repacking of food items supplied by the DSWD, has so far repackaged 39,960 relief packs worth P9.7 million, Garcia said.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who personally sent off on Sunday morning the convoy of trucks loaded with relief items, said “This is the longest and the biggest convoy of trucks loaded with relief items for Yolanda victims that set out for Leyte and Samar.” (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD/

Thursday, November 14, 2013

‘Yolanda’s damage to Bicol’s agriculture placed at P175M; death toll reaches 5
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 14 (PNA) – Latest report of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol released here on Thursday said that damage to the region’s agriculture have amounted to some P175 million.

It also said the death toll has climbed from two, as previously reported, to five -- with the province of Masbate reporting four and Camarines Norte, one.

Those initially reported as dead were identified as Enex Deinia of Barangay District II, San Jacinto, Masbate, and Marivic Alarzan, 17, of Barangay Lanol, Mercedes, Camarines Norte.

The damages in agriculture collated from reports of provincial agricultural offices from the six provinces of Bicol, according to OCD regional director Raffy Alejandro, affected a total of 4,005 farmers.

Alejandro said a total of 708,464 persons, representing 145,059 families, were affected by the typhoon which pounded the southern parts of the region -- particularly Masbate -- with wind packing over 200-kilometer-per-hour strength and the rest of the region with heavy rains and storm surges.

Most of the families affected were from Albay, which reported 145,825 families or 533,673 persons who were evacuated from risk areas to various refugee camps established in the province, the OCD chief said.

Sorsogon province reported 23,551 families or 95,691 persons affected and housed in evacuation centers at the height of the typhoon, he said.

The province of Masbate, Alejandro said, registered 20,521 persons or 4,501 families affected, with some losing their homes while Camarines Sur had 9,177 families or 42.956 persons in its affected list.

The island province of Catanduanes reported 390 families or 2,563 persons affected while Camarines Norte evacuated 2,317 families with a total of 11,341 members, he said.

As of the latest report, Alejandro said, a total of 667 families in Masbate who lost their homes remain in evacuation centers.

In Camarines Sur, he said, storm surges destroyed a total of 279 houses in the municipalities of Sagñay, Presentacion and San Jose.

A mini-tornado that damaged four houses also hit the municipality of Siruma while landslides triggered by heavy rains were reported between the municipalities of Lagonoy and Presentacion -- all in Camarines Sur -- at the height of the typhoon, he added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD

DENR to establish bamboo gene bank in Ligao City
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 13 (PNA) –- A bambusetum will soon rise at Kawakawa Hill in Ligao City to be followed by the establishment of a 15-hectare bamboo plantation in eight barangays of the same city in Albay.

These two projects are on the verge of realization following the recent formalization of a deal among Albay third district Rep. Fernando Gonzalez, the Departmentof Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Ligao City Mayor Patricia Alsua and Filmenera Resources Corporation (FRC).

At the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Ligao City over the weekend, DENR regional executive director Gilbert Gonzales said the bambusetum (a collection or gene bank of bamboo species) will include a 9,652-square meter of kawayang tinik (Bambusa blumeana) plantation, the 8,525-square meter gene bank and an 8,463-square meter nursery.

It will be established on the slopes of Kawakawa Hill, a 236-meter high peak in Barangay Tuburan developed by Rep. Gonzalez as a tourist destination that provides calm winds, fresh air and a panoramic view of Ligao City and beyond. Its summit forms a crater resembling a huge Chinese cooking wok ("kawa" in local dialect) hence its name.

Apart from kawayang tinik, the gene bamboo bank will have in its collection at least eight other local species such as anos (Schizostachyum lima), bayog (Bambusa merrilliana), Bikal (Schizostachyum dielsianum),Botong (Gigantochloa levis), Buho ( Schizostachyum lumampao), Laak (Bambusa sp.1), according to Gonzales.

It will also propagate overseas varieties such as the black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) from Japan; Buddha’s belly (Bambusa ventricosa) of Taiwan,Vietnam and Southern China; Giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper) that is native in the Southeast Asia; Hedge bamboo (Bambusa multiplex) of China; Iron bamboo (Guadua angustifolia) of Northeastern South America to Panama; Golden bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris); Pink bamboo (Gigantochloa kuring) of Sumatra; and Wamin (Bambusa vulgaris) from Southern China.

With these varieties, Gonzales said the bambusetum will contribute to the conservation of Philippine bamboo species and assemble a collection of temperate, subtropical and also tropical bamboo taxons from other parts of the world at one selected site.

It would also serve as Bicol’s center for bamboo information, training and extension and a useful facility for scientists, instructors and students for research and observation. In the near future it will be a source of newly introduced species for bamboo diversification purposes in watershed protection schemes.

The 15-hectare plantation that will primarily grow kawayang tinik will cover Oma-oma, Baligang, Busac, Abella, Nabonton, Amtic, Maonon and Tula-tula, all agricultural barangays of Ligao City with critical forest vegetations.

This plantation, Gonzales said will serve as a demonstration site of the diversification of economically important bamboo species in the Bicol Region for raw material production and watershed protection.

Under the MOU, FRC, an Australian-owned mining firm operating the giant Masbate Gold Project in Aroroy, Masbate will provide planting materials worth P100,000 as part of its “reaching out” initiatives to other areas outside their vast mining site that yields billions of pesos worth of gold and other precious metals.

Gonzales said FRC had expressed agreement with the plan of the DENR’s regional office for Bicol to pursue the development of areas devoted to bamboo.

The mining firm’s management, he said supportive of the project citing among others that as a large scale mining operator in Bicol, Filmenera provides for community development and environmental programs as responsible miner and as part of its corporate social responsibility.

Concerning the bambusetum and bamboo plantations, Gonzales said the DENR and Ligao City government are ensuring that villagers participating in the project are well-trained and would be able to make a living out of bamboo products sourced from it. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Ducks are farmers’ partner in organic farming /with photo
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 13 (PNA) – There is much help that ducks could provide in organic rice farming which the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) wants Bicolano farmers to take advantage of.

That is why the agency’s regional office for Bicol based here has been holding training sessions on its Rice-Duck Integrated Farming System (RDIFS) for agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in a campaign to bring back organic farming in the region in support to the National Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

DAR’s Program Beneficiaries’ Development Division regional chief Lucia Vitug on Tuesday said ducks which are locally called 'itik' are the best partner in palay farming, one, because they serve as weeders thus, farm owners need not hire laborers to remove the weeds in the farm because ducks can do the job more efficiently and effectively.

Ducks eat young weed plants and weed seeds while their trampling activity also kept the weeds under control by as much as 90 percent thereby oxygenating the water and encouraging the roots of the rice plants to grow vigorously.

Another, Vitug said is that there is no need to buy insecticides because ducks eat the pests in the farm such as the highly devastating golden kuhol (snail), green leafhopper, brown plant hopper, zigzag leaf hopper, rice bug, short-horned grasshopper and long-horned grasshopper.

Worldwide studies, she said, proved that the populations of these pests were significantly lower in rice-duck farms compared to paddies without ducks. Ducklings were found catching insects efficiently in the rice-duck plots, thereby reducing the insect population.

Besides, these common water birds’ droppings also serve as fertilizer, so that farmers save on the cost of this farm input.

Ducks, according to Vitug, also stimulates the growth of every palay plant as while they search for snails, they at the same time cultivate the soil.

RDIFS data show that, on the average, yields of the rice-duck are 20 percent higher than those of the sole rice paddies and the superiority of the rice-duck system is consistent in all locations and all seasons, she revealed.

“In short, the presence of ducks in the farm lessens the input cost in palay production,” she added.

DAR agriculturist Tomas Diesta agreed with Vitug as he added that the use of ducks in palay farms implies that the produce is certified organic given that the use of chemicals is forbidden by the presence of these birds, otherwise they will be poisoned.

Apart from reducing insecticide and chemical fertilizer requirements, RDIFS also ensures a safe environment and organic products, he said.

There are also previous studies which prove that the duck-rice organic farming system led to the increase in yield and food security since ducks also lay eggs which can be another source of food, reduction of manual labor, good health and sound environment, Diesta said.

The higher income from this system is generated in two ways-- the higher rice yields combined with the reduced cost of production and the additional income from ducks’ eggs, meat and live sales, he said.

One of latest training on RDIFS conducted by the DAR regional office was for various organizations of ARBS in Bulan, Sorsogon wherein participants shared some grievances in the farming business.

Diesta said the participants revealed that the farming system they were on has been pulling their life on much lower level because of the high input cost, climate change, poor irrigation system and absence of support services in technology.

“We were aware of these sentiments beforehand that is why we are pushing hard the application of ‘duck power’ in farming. With this, the participating ARBs found a new inspiration towards productivity,” he said.

Diesta explained: the soil is the most important component in farming, however, its fertility dies because chemicals kill micro-organisms that are naturally present in it and helping in the natural fertilization process like composting of dry leaves.

Soil analysis showed that nutrient levels in the soils of the rice-duck fields were higher indicating that the grazing of the ducks enriched the soil’s nutrients, probably through their excreta.

The movement of the ducks in the paddies enhances the aeration of the soil and prevents accumulation of harmful gases in the rhizosphere which is another reason for the stimulation of the growth of the rice plants.

Ducks’ movement and feeding activity in the rice field disturbed the soil, resulting in the improvement of its physical property, hence, enhancing the rice root systems, Diesta said.

“All these advantages give us the reason in pushing on organic farming and introducing to ARBs the use of ducks in the system,” he added.

After the Bulan ARBs training, Vitug said the participants were given opportunity to visit rice fields in the nearby town of Sta. Magdalena that are dedicated to organic farming particularly the RDIFS.

“They were amazed on seeing the rice fields that truly weed-free and the growth of palay was great. Convinced of what they have seen, they are determined to adopt the RDIFS organic farming,” she added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DSWD-Bicol, Albay province now satellite operations center of RDRRMC Region 8
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 13 (PNA) – The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Region 8 has made the Department of Social Welfare and Development Bicol regional office and the province of Albay as its satellite operation center.

DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia said DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman issued a directive for this purpose since the operation of the RDRRMC 8 has not been normal because its members were also affected by super typhoon “Yolanda.”

Garcia was assigned as vice chairman of the operations center with assistance from different government agencies that are members of the Bicol RDRRMC.

Albay province is assisting in the operation of the center – aside from the 179-member Team Albay-Office of Civil Defense 5 humanitarian mission deployed to Tacloban City.

Garcia said one of the priority functions of the satellite operation center is the rapid assessment of 21 towns in Samar by 22 social workers from his office.

He said the DSWD-Bicol group has already went to 130 barangays in Samar and based on its members’ assessment, the town of Guiuan was the hardest hit followed by Hernani town.

The assessment report of the group from the 130 villages, Garcia said, reported that there are 244 dead, 911 injured and 75 persons still missing.

It added that there are 64,729 families or 202,817 individuals affected by the killer typhoon.

There are 13,076 totally damaged houses and 12,076 partially damaged ones.

Garcia added that some 12,000 food packs have been sent to Samar from the Albay satellite operation center.

There was a first batch of 8,000 food packs sent earlier and a second batch consisted of 3,926 food packs.

Repacking is being done 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Garcia said seven trucks full of food and emergency packs have arrived in Albay from the DSWD and Philpost head offices and will proceed to the municipality of Basey and Tacloban City.

Garcia said the convoy will travel from Albay via Alen, Samar.

He said the convoy has police escorts from the Philippine National Police Bicol during the travel.

The Albay Astrodome serves as the repacking center of DSWD.

The DSWD also put up satellite repacking stations in the Aquinas University Gym, Bicol University College of Engineering and St. Agnes’ Academy Gymnasium – all in Albay.

The DSWD also set up donation desks outside Albay – in the DSWD provincial offices of Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

Garcia said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulation Board and other agencies of the government in Bicol are also helping the satellite operations center.

He said the primary function of the LTFRB is to gather buses and trucks to ply the Samar- Leyte route.(PNA) FPV/FGS/NIM/CBD

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Greenpeace says ‘Golden Rice' poses risk to environment, human health

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 11 (PNA)--Behind its proponents’ hype that it is a high-tech, quick-fix solution to Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), the genetically engineered (GE) “Golden Rice" is environmentally irresponsible, poses risks to human health and could compromise food, nutrition and financial security, Greenpeace International has declared.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organization that acts to protect and conserve the environment and promote peace by way of exposing environmental criminals and challenging government and corporations when they fail to live up to their mandate to safeguard the environment and the human race’s future.

In a statement reaching here Monday, the organization said it opposes the release of Golden Rice into the environment as this crop is prone to unexpected effects which can pose a risk to environmental and food safety.

Golden Rice has long been a poster child for the GE crop industry in an attempt to gain acceptance worldwide, it said.

Its leading proponent in the Philippines is the Philippine Rice Institute (PhilRice), a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture (DA), to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

In a recent seminar on rice and nutrition held here for the local media, PhilRice’s Golden Rice project leader Dr. Antonio Alfonso, who is also coordinator of the DA’s Biotechnology Program, said the Institute is already in the final stages of research and evaluation of this genetically modified rice variety which is targeted to be available in the local market by 2015.

Alfonso said VAD remains a serious public health concern in the Philippines, affecting approximately 1.7 million children under the age of five and 500,000 pregnant and nursing women many of whom are living in far-flung areas.

Rice is staple food for most Filipinos and Golden Rice is a sustainable response to VAD that would be more accessible than Vitamin A supplements in remote areas, Alfonso said, assuring that it is safe to eat, affordable and growing it will not cause adverse effects on rice fields.

However, Greenpeace said using GE crops to try to solve problems of malnutrition is simply the wrong approach and a risky distraction away from real solutions.

Golden rice does not address the underlying causes of VAD, which are mainly poverty and lack of access to a healthy and varied diet, it said, stressing that it is a technological fix that may generate new problems.

For example, Greenpeace said, the single-crop approach of Golden Rice could make malnutrition worse because it encourages a diet based solely on rice, rather than increasing access to a diverse diet of fruits and vegetables, considered crucial to combating VAD and other nutrient deficiencies.

Rice can become contaminated with GE rice, even just from field trials, such as in the United States and China.

If cross-pollination or seed mix-up causes Golden Rice contamination, it could prove difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate -- and despite all the hype surrounding this variety, it still remains unproven whether daily consumption would actually improve the Vitamin A status of people who are deficient, Greenpeace said.

In the case of the Philippines, it said, the diversity of rice is a valuable resource for developing new varieties with improved yields and can withstand diseases and environmental conditions without compromising human health and the environment.

However, this resource is now being threatened by plans to release and commercialize Golden Rice in the country even as more than 60 countries have imposed moratorium or outright ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to adopt the precautionary principle.

The problem with the Philippines is that it does not have a biosafety law nor the capacity and resources to conduct robust risk assessments for GMOs intended for field testing, food, feed and propagation.

Any deliberate release of Golden Rice can contaminate conventional crops.

This also means that the more than 80 GMOs allowed for importation for food, feed and processing and eight GMO corn varieties allowed for commercial propagation in the country actually challenge the integrity of the 2010 National Organic Agriculture Act.

Covered by expensive patents, Golden Rice and other GMOs can deprive farmer’s access, control and stewardship over plant genetic resources which have been nurtured, exchanged and shared across communities for generations.

Besides, Greenpeace said, the incidence of VAD in the Philippines has been significantly reduced to 15 percent for children as of 2008 and there are already solutions in place to address this health problem and other micronutrient deficiencies.

The funds that are being wasted on Golden Rice research and development should instead be used on solutions that are already working, which include fortification of foods and Vitamin A supplementation capsules.

Having a diverse diet is still the best solution to VAD, Greenpeace added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/cbd