Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Legazpi City to build statue of Saint John Paul II

LEGAZPI CITY, April 29 (PNA) -- The city government will pursue its plan to build a monument of Saint John Paul II here.

Vice Mayor Vittorio Roces said Tuesday that they could not help regretting why they had not done it before.

"Legazpi should have been crowded with pilgrims if we have pursued our plan," he said.

Since 2012, Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi supported the proposal of putting a shrine for the first Pope who visited Legazpi City.

Base on the proposal, the statue would sit at the top of Kapuntukan Hill or known as Lion Hill near the Legazpi City Boulevard.

It would be made out of steel and displayed with relics and memorabilia from the museum of the Diocese of Legazpi.

Some of these relics and memorabilia are Pope mobile, Pope's hat, pictures and other memorabilia during his visit in Albay province on February 21, 1981.

Roces said that a light house and chapel will be constructed at the top of the hill to at least promote religious diversity.

"It was such an honor to be chosen as the place to be visited by a Pope, so after he was named as Saint, it's high time to continue our plan," he stressed.

As part of the plan, according to the official, the city government will allocate fund for the religious project, aside from donations from other stakeholders.

John Paul II and John XXIII were canonized on Sunday by Pope Francis in an unprecedented ceremony witnessed by millions of devotees gathered in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. (PNA) LAM/FGS/AMM/CBD/

187,673 poor Bicolanos have no safe drinking water – DSWD
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, April 29 (PNA) -- Data from the Listahanan or the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development show that 2.5 million identified poor households nationwide do not have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

In Bicol, 187,673 poor Bicolanos are thirsty for this basic need in life, the DSWD said.

“Water is one of the most important substances on earth. It is a lifeline that bathes and feeds human beings,” Arnel B. Garcia, DSWD Bicol regional director said on Tuesday, adding “Likewise, having safe drinking water is very essential to humans and other life forms.”

The provinces of Masbate, Camarines Sur and Albay posted the highest incidences of households with no access to safe water and which have unsanitary practices.

Listahanan, the DSWD’s targeting system that identifies who and where the poor are, also shows that 30 percent of poor Bicolanos get their main source of drinking water from dug well.

These are commonly seen in rural areas, particularly in Masbate, Garcia.

To address this issue, the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) has provided 260 barangays across the region with potable water facilities.

Kalahi-CIDSS is one of the poverty alleviation programs of DSWD which uses community-driven development approach.

The program strongly advocates community involvement in the design and implementation of the projects, Garcia said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EPS/CBD/

OWWA-Bicol traces 8 Bicolanos as among plane passengers from UAE, refers them to DOH for MERS-CoV testing
By John Mark Escandor

LEGAZPI CITY, April 29 (PNA) -- The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Bicol regional office here had traced eight Bicolanos who were among the 174 passengers of a plane from the United Arab Emirates.

And, the Department of Health (DOH) has already tested them for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), the top OWWA Bicol regional official said on Tuesday.

Director Jocelyn Hapal said they were among the passengers who boarded Etihad Airways Flight No. EY 0424 with a male Filipino nurse initially tested positive to the deadly MERS-CoV.

Hapal said the the test has already been done but the results are still to be determined.

She said she hopes that the DOH can also provide their office with the results of the tests so that they may also know.

Of the eight, four are from Camarines Sur; 1 from Camarines Norte; and three from Albay.

Two more Bicolanos from the same flight stayed in Manila.

The male nurse who was initially tested positive to MERS-CoV in UAE arrived in Manila together with the 415 passengers, but he tested negative in two more testing conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City.

MERS-CoV is a communicable disease with an incubation period of 10-14 days and symptoms like fever, coughing, sneezing and runny nose for two weeks after being infected.

It is passed on through close contact with a positive carrier.

The World Health Organization has recorded 242 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV, of which 93 have died since it was first discovered in March 2012 in Saudi Arabia.

Reports showed that at least eight overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have been found positive of the virus.

One OFW died in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 29 last year while another OFW succumbed to the deadly infection on April 10 this year.

Hapal cautioned the public not to panic as the eight Bicolano passengers are not yet confirmed positive as the test results are still to be determined in Manila.

The testing of MERS-CoV is done through nose-and-throat swab.(PNA) FPV/FGS/JME/CBD/

DSWD orders probe of questioned Php300-M fund downloaded to Albay LGUs
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, April 29 (PNA) – The Province of Albay has been considered the luckiest local government unit (LGU) in Luzon for being the first recipient of a Php300-million fund from the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan–Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Service (Kalahi-CIDSS), a poverty-reduction project along with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

The other lucky province is the Compostela Valley in Mindanao, according to a DSWD report.

Controversy, however, rocked the fund after it was downloaded to the LGUs for project bidding and implementation.

DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia said he has ordered an investigation into a complaint that the project fund, distributed in Albay’s 15 towns, would be implemented by politically favored and controlled contractors, raising fears that this would result in rigged bidding.

Garcia said the funding is a poverty-reduction measure so that every centavo of it must be fully accounted for.

The Php300-million fund is for rehabilitation and improvement of farm-to-market roads.

The DSWD official said the funding has a counterpart of Php75 million from the provincial government with the Asian Development Bank sharing in the planning.

Garcia said Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda has asked DSWD to strictly monitor its implementation and should observe the "daang matuwid" policy of President Aquino.

This developed as a cousin-contractor of a former DSWD lady regional director was complained of for having allegedly approached a liaison officer of another contractor whom he offered Php 50,000 so as not to buy tender documents and participate in the bidding of the Php 66.8-million rehabilitation and improvement of Barangays Danao-Pintor road in Polangui town, according to a police blotter.

The police blotter identified one Joey Muñoz of Muñoz Construction as the person complained of and who allegedly introduced himself as the project negotiator.

The police report dated April 22 identified one Rosie Ravalo as the complainant.

A motion for reconsideration dated April 26 filed by lawyer Regie Regala, said her client was not allowed to participate during the April 24 bidding on certain indecent allegations that some requirements were not complied with on time, citing site inspection as having made on April 23 only.

Regala questioned why the site inspection should be made earlier when the bid and awards committee in-charge Edwin Baldemoro could not be located in his office since April 10 to receive her client’s Letter of Intent (LOI).

He said that when Baldemoro was finally cornered and he received the LOI, this time the municipal treasurer, Ana Robrigado, suddenly became non-available in her office, too, until she was cornered on April 23, the time her client was allowed to purchase bid documents.

The bidding was scheduled on April 24.

The Citizen Crime Watch-Bicol said the Php300-million fund should have not been downloaded to LGUs in the first place, saying LGU bidding has been normally tainted with irregularities, being done by a political body.

Romeo Esplana, CCW chief investigator for government corruption, said the CCW is also investigating the matter, adding that the type of project is among those banned by Secretary Rogelio Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways, being a potent source of corruption.

According to documents, the Municipality of Polangui had been implicated in a similar bidding fiasco last year when it awarded a Php 24-million dredging project from a senator’s pork barrel to the construction outfit of a former mayor who was said to be responsible for soliciting the funding.

The project was hidden and named as a mere flood control because it was banned in Albay.

Albay 3rd District Dongressman Fernando Gonzalez strongly condemned the bidding irregularities last year, saying he had strictly observed the banning of dredging projects in his district.

Singson has long banned dredging, including road regraveling and improvements, being a source of major kickback, saying “a mere drop of rain would already render a dredging project useless.”(PNA) FPV/FGS/MU/CBD

014 PHL-US Balikatan Exercise to finish school, health center construction on May 13, says US Army project officer

LEGAZPI CITY, April 29 (PNA) – The joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-US Armed Forces personnel undertaking the 2014 Balikatan Exercise vowed to finish the construction of schoolbuildings and a health center in Barangay Malobagao and Barangay Doña Mercedez in Guinobatan town on May 13.

Lt. Daina W. Bojorquez, US Army project officer, said they will finish all the projects they are doing in these villages on May 13 so that they can turn them over to the barangay officials the following day, before they leave Albay after the Balikatan Exercise.

In Barangay Malobagao, the group is building a classroom, repairing an old Marcos-type building and the village’s health center.

Belinda Balmaceda, a barangay tanod (volunteer village security officer) and resident of the village, said what the Balikatan group is doing is a big help to their place, especially the health center, which is bigger than the original one.

Bojorquez said the health center is typhoon proof and is expected to last long even during heavy typhoons.

The school being constructed and the classrooms being repaired in Barangay Doña Mercedez will be a great help to the students, especially that the classes will soon open.

American soldiers participating in the exercise were pleased with the warm treatment being given to them by the villagers as they mingle with them daily and even sleep in the place.

The residents had a taste of the boodle fight held during lunch on Tuesday.(PNA) FPV/FGS/EMC/CBD

RH law principal author, others will not file MR
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, April 29 (PNA) -- Although firmly believing that the few struck-down provisions of the Reproductive Health Law are truly constitutional, the government and most intervenors are not filing a motion for reconsideration (MR), a former representative of Albay and the principal author of the law said on Tuesday.

“We will not do so anymore because the voided provisions barely scraped the epidermis of the law whose heart and soul remain unsullied,” lawyer Edcel C. Lagman, former congressman of the 3rd District of Albay, said in an emailed statement.

Lagman, whose third term as a lawmaker ended in 2010, was replaced by his son and namesake Rep. Edcel B. Lagman Jr.

“The option not to seek reconsideration sends the clear message that the provisions declared unconstitutional have peripheral effect on the law whose main import and general efficacy have not been diminished and its implementation unhampered, the elder Lagman said.

The desistance from interposing reconsideration, he said, will enable the government to concentrate its efforts to fully implement the law after the Supreme Court had lifted the status quo ante order, which temporarily halted its enforcement.

The popular labor lawyer claimed that the supposedly infirm provisions pertain to exceptional circumstances like “conscientious objectors,” “spousal and parental consent” and “dissenting or renegade” public officials, and their minor effects on the RH Law can be tempered or altogether quashed by remedial legislation.

“The triumph of the RH advocates is neither ‘toothless’ nor pyrrhic because the unanimous verdict of the Supreme Court is indubitably singular and overriding.” Lagman added.

Nonetheless, he said, some RH advocates who are also parties to the case as respondent-intervenors may file reconsideration as a matter of right.(PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD/

Monday, April 28, 2014

Village awaits rehab of closed Rapu-Rapu mine site (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

RAPU-RAPU, Albay, April 26 (PNA) -– On late afternoons, fishermen in Barangay Pagcolbon of this natural resource-rich island town of Albay would be off on board large and small boats to a night-long venture at the nearby fishing ground by the Pacific Ocean.

On the “escallera,” a 201-step concrete stairway leading to the island’s lighthouse that sits on a hilltop overlooking the entire barrio, some villagers seated on the steps shaded by tall trees would see them off while children playfully roam the white sand beach, gathering marble-like stones and exotic shells for their toy collections.

The Pagcolbon beach, sporadically bordered by exciting rock formations and kissed by dazzling aquamarine waters, is among the marvelous yet unexplored white and brownish sand beaches that line the island’s shore.

Behind these looks of life’s tranquility, meanwhile, resides a nagging question: what happens now that the mining operations of a giant multi-national industrial firm in the mineral-rich village, on which most villagers were made dependent on for their livelihood for years, have already been terminated?

How about their lands within the 180-hectare site which were turned barren by the mining operations?

Pagcolbon was the center of the mining operations whose site also covered parts of its two adjacent barangays—Binosawan and Malobago.

Fishing and farming are the major sources of income for the local folk in seasonal periods.

January to August, when the sea is mild, are fishing months; while September to December, the rainy season, is for farming.

When mining, started by the Australian-owned Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI) in 2005, came to being, the villagers abandoned farming after selling their lands to the firm.

Fishing was also temporarily given up in favor of jobs provided by the mining operations.

LPI’s operations that mined gold and silver, however, were closed after two years following a series of toxic waste spill that triggered a massive fish kill at the coastal water down the mining site.

In 2008, Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP) -- jointly run by the Rapu-Rapu Minerals Inc. (RRMI) and Rapu-Rapu Processing Inc. (RRPI), both subsidiaries of Korea-Malaysia Philippines Resources Inc. (KMPRI) -- took over the operations which was earlier projected to last only until end of 2013, based on the estimated mineral deposits.

And so it happened as late last year, the RRPP ended -- leaving behind hundreds of workers jobless and a vast tract of land that would be worthless to farming for years unless a fast track Final Mine Rehabilitation Decommissioning Plan (FMRDP) as mandated under Department Administrative Order (DAO)–2005-07 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is implemented.

The Palcolbon villagers, meanwhile, remain hopeful for the better amid the disturbing situation of losing their jobs and farms.

For them, it is not the “end of the world” as, according to barangay chairman Wilson Echalas, they have prepared themselves and their families for this.

“We are now using the livelihood training that RRPP has provided us during its stay as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility”, Echalas said in the local dialect.

On the part of the barangay, he said, they are making use of funds provided by the mining firm before it left in community projects such as infrastructures, acquisition of fishing boats and establishment of a cooperative sari-sari store, among others, that would augment the earning capabilities of the villagers.

“Indeed, we do not consider ourselves losers but gainers in this development. We may have lost our mineral reserves but the land that we used to till is still there awaiting rehabilitation to be agriculturally productive once more,” Echalas said.

He cited as among the gains of the barangay the developments in terms of infrastructure facilities, community training on livelihood and the children who have graduated in college out of the scholarship RRPP has provided during its stay.

“What we are waiting now is the FMRDP which, as we were informed, would be implemented this year through a multimillion-peso fund provided by RRPP,” Echalas said.

The regional office in Legazpi City of DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) had earlier announced that the rehabilitation plan is designed to prevent or eliminate long-term environmental impacts by returning mining-disturbed land to a physically and chemically stable, visually acceptable, productive or self-sustaining condition.

It is taking into consideration the beneficial uses of the land and the surrounding areas after the mine life as agreed with the stakeholders, according MGB Regional Technical Director Theodore Rommel Pestaño.

FMRDP, he said, includes a “social plan” defining employee transition programs such as job retraining and education assistance and job search or placement, among others, as well as possible transfer of the management of some facilities to LGUs or communities to generate income.

There is also an assurance that alternative skills and sustainable livelihood opportunities are provided and left behind to mine employees and their dependents and to the host and neighboring communities, Pestaño said.

Market-driven sustainable livelihood and income-generating projects in the Direct Impact Barangays (DIB) are also required by the rehabilitation plan in order to gradually wean the residents away from mining dependence while the possible alternative post-mining land uses of the mine site would be the development for forest plantations and agro-forestry, he said.

RRPP has deposited an amount of over P71.8 million in a government bank for the rehabilitation plan, Pestaño added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/rsm

Albay cops nab 9 wanted men in 2 days

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- Different city and municipal police offices under the Albay Provincial Police Office (APPO) arrested nine persons wanted for various offenses in the past two days.

In a report to Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol Regional Police Office director, Senior Supt. Marlo S. Meneses, APPO director, identified the persons arrested on April 24 as Larry C. Canuel, who was nabbed by Polangui Municipal Police Office operatives in Ligao City for frustrated murder; Ronnel T. Respicio, who was arrested in Oas town by Oas Municipal Police Office members for serious physical injury; and Andy B. Burce, who was apprehended in Malilipot town by elements of Tabaco City Police Office for violation of RA 9262.

Those arrested on April 25, Meneses said, were Efren N. Opiana, Hernan P. Orogo and Randy B Tuazon, who were collared in Centro Poblacion, Guinobatan, by Guinobatan Municipal Police Office members for violation of PD 1602; Enrique M. Latuna, who was apprehended by Legazpi City Police Office personnel in the Legazpi airport for falsification of public documents; Alicio C. Diaz, who was netted by elements of the Tiwi Municipal Police Office for violation of Sec. 5(A) of RA 9262; and Arwin H. Llagas, who was bagged by Guinobatan MPO officers at Barangay Lower Binogsacan, Quinobatan, for attempted homicide.

The members of the various local police offices apprehended the nine wanted persons by virtue of warrants of arrest issued by the judges of the courts that respectively have jurisdictions over them, Meneses said.

The intensified operations being conducted by the police offices were on orders of Deona for them to turn in wanted persons, illegal firearms and violators of laws illegal activities.

Deona commended his men for their determined efforts to implement the law as well as maintain peace and order not only in Albay but in the entire region. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

UNTWO expects 21 countries in 3 Legazpi meetings next month
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced that the three meetings it will be holding in this premier Philippine travel destination in May this year are expected to be attended by over 1,000 tourism dignitaries from 21 member-countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The first event that is scheduled on May 15-17 will be the 40th Meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus three National Tourism Organizations which will be attended by only the ASEAN member-states that are also UNWTO members.

The second is the 26th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific (CAP) and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia (CSA) on May 18 and finally the UNWTO –ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change on May 19-20.

All these will be held at The Oriental, a plush hotel and resort located atop a hill here facing the iconic Mayon Volcano and overlooking the entire urban landscape of the city.

These international conferences will seek to analyze the effects of climate change on tourism, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, and endeavor to strengthen the industry´s ability to adapt to threats and utilize opportunities that arise as a result of climate change, Department of Tourism Bicol Regional director Maria Ong-Ravanilla based here said on Saturday.

The UNWTO is the UN agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability.

It also offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

Apart from 156 member-states, its membership includes six associate members and over 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

Ravanilla said the CSA/CAP Joint Commission meeting is UNWTO´s principal annual event in the Asia-Pacific Region and one key item on the agenda of this year’s conference will be a debate on air connectivity in the region set on May 18.

Delegates to these meeting will start arriving here on May 17 and they will be accorded with a welcome reception at the nearby Misibis Bay Resort, a private tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach along the southern tip of Cagraray island in Bacacay, Albay, which is considered as the luxury island playground in the Philippines.

UNWTO Regional Programme Director for Asia and the Pacific Xu Jing, according to Ravanilla, has already confirmed that invitations to member-countries including the Philippines had already been issued and has been receiving positive replies. South Asia member-states that are expected to join the gatherings are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Member-countries from Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas may also join the event including other non-member states that have signified intentions to observe the proceedings, Ravanilla said, citing latest information received from Xu.

Xu also informed the DOT that invitations had also been extended to UNWTO affiliate members in the Asia-Pacific region and selected international and regional organizations within the region.

These organizations include the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and Pacific Asia Travel Association.

“We are right now doing all the preparations for these big events that will put this city and the province of Albay in the history of the world’s tourism industry," Ravanilla said.

The preparations are being handled by the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (JIATF) earlier created by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda to manage and supervise all tasks and activities related to ensure a successful Philippine hosting.

The JIATF is composed of DOT-Bicol as lead agency and assisted by the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office.

Its members include among others, the regional officers of the Department of Health, Philippine National Police, Office of Civil Defense, Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Foreign Affairs and Bureau of Fire Protection, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Philippine Information Agency.

Other members are the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, Office of the Provincial Governor and the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office.

The Task Force, Ravanilla said, is expected to be ready with its action plans to be presented on April 29.

Partners from the private sector such as hotels, restaurants, resorts, transport are also required to prepare action plans to be presented on April 30.

All plans will be merged into a master plan which will be later subjected to an interfacing with DOT Assistant Secretary Rolando Canizal and Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Daniel Corpuz, Ravanilla added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/pjn

Albay declares Paje as Team Albay Hero, remembers fallen great Albayanos
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -– The Province of Albay on Saturday declared Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon B. Paje as a Team Albay Hero.

Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda echoed the declaration during a program that followed a “Parade of Heroes for National Liberation,” which started at about 8:00 a.m. Saturday from the Peñaranda Park here and ended at the Bicol University campus.

The Team Albay, in cooperation with the Office of Civil Defense-Bicol, has been at the forefront of humanitarian assistance, and among the first to respond, to victims of various calamities – the latest of which are the people of Leyte and Samar that were hard hit by super typhoon “Yolanda.”

Paje, an Albayano from Guinobatan, Albay, has been credited for his outstanding accomplishments and contribution to the province in the aspect of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction as head of the government agency that is responsible for the country’s environment and natural resources.

During the occasion, Salceda stressed the meaningful significance of remembering the province’s heroes.

“First, we owe them our free and peaceful living. Owing to them, there are no foreigners now that conquer and make us slaves. They gave their lives, sweat and blood for our country,” he said.

Second, the provincial executive added, the Albayano heroes “continuously give honor to our being Albayanos.”

“We can always look back to our history to draw strength and principle so that we can continuously uphold our noble objectives,” Salceda said, adding “Their noble lives are the light that guides us in this dark and complex world towards the right path.”

Third, he said, the present generation of Albayanos need their heroes as idols, as what they did in the face of danger and struggle against the tyrant foreigners are a sterling symbol of a noble objective.

“In this time of globalization where information dissemination is widespread and communication is so fast while one’s memory is short, we need to realize our image of being an Albayano. The noble lives of our heroes symbolize and mirror all that are noble and great in our race,” Salceda told his provincemates.

Thus, he said, there is a need to make it a practice annually to honor the Albayano heroes, among them: Camilo Soledad Jacob, Gen. Simeon Arboleda Ola and Gen. Ignacio Paua.

Jacob, a native of Polangui town in the third district of Albay where Salceda hailed, was a good photographer.

“He proved that one needs not bear a firearm nor kill to become a hero. All one needs is good principle and courage to face even death for one’s country,” Salceda said.

The Spaniards executed Jacob in Luneta on Jan. 4 1897, four days after the execution of Dr. Jose P. Rizal and right on the spot where the National Hero died.

“He proved that an artist can be also be a hero – like Rizal," the governor said.

Ola is the Albayanos' symbol of unwavering courage, he added.

The lack of firearms, great and modern armaments and lack of support from the national command did not prevent him from continuing his fight for the liberation of Albay.

He was the last Filipino general to yield to the Americans in 1903.

“In our present time that history is being repeated in some parts of our country – especially our small islands in the western part – we need Filipinos and ‘oragon’ Bicolanos like Gen. Ola,” Salceda stressed.

Paua was a Chinese who lived being more than a Filipino and at the end, became a full-blooded Albayano.

Though born in China, he became a Filipino at heart and joined the Katipunan to fight the Spaniards.

When the Philippines had a temporary independence on June 12, 1898, Paua went to Albay to collect funds for the New Republic and was able to raise Php360,000 in Bicol alone.

The general again fought when the war against the Americans broke.

Later he married a Bicolana, Carolina Imperial, and continued serving Albay as mayor of Manito town.

“Many more Albayanos dreamed, stood firmly and fought for the freedom of our country. Many fell in the dark part of our history without being known. They have no monuments, no marks in their graves. Their monuments are engraved in the minds of their loved ones they left behind but they are among those we honor today – among those that are being mirrored by our noble image as Albayanos,” Salceda said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD/rsm

Napolcom-Bicol wants more Criminology graduates in police service (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) -- Hilda is a nursing graduate while Jeffrey finished a course in business management. Both are in police service frequently assigned to man the flow of traffic in busy thoroughfares of the city.

Marvin, on the other hand, who is a graduate of criminology, the sociological study of crime, criminals and the punishment of criminals and should be in the place of Hilda or Jeffrey, now works as a call center agent, also here.

Asked why they are in there, Hilda told the PNA over the weekend: “It’s better here than working as a nurse. The entry and training may be difficult but the work is easy and high-paying for a woman like me.”

For Jeffrey: “I applied to become a policeman because I see a good future in here. I still want to engage myself in business based on my course after I raise money for capital out of my salary in the PNP.”

Marvin said he tried entering the police service immediately after graduating last year but he failed the interviews.

All three requested that their full name be withheld from publication.

The jobs where these young college graduates, especially the case of the latter, have landed show a discrepancy, which the regional office for Bicol of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) is seeking to address.

Data obtained recently from the same office have it that the present composition of the younger generation of policemen in the region is dominated by graduates of nursing, education, commerce and business administration.

Based on the records of the regional office of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol on its recruitment and training classes for the period between December 2010 and December 2013, criminology graduates comprised only 42.26 percent or 767 entrants compared to 57.74 percent or 1,048 who graduated from other courses, according to Napolcom Regional Director Rodolfo Santos Jr.

The period, Santos said, covered the Public Safety Field Training Program classes that are composed of six batches wherein nursing graduates dominated the recruits totaling 259; followed by graduates of education, 209; commerce and business administration,154; and Bachelor of Arts, 110.

These courses comprise the top four leading non-criminology programs in the last six recruitment periods and selection for entry in the police organization, he said.

“This simply indicates a diminishing number of Bachelors of Science in Criminology graduates in the region’s police service, which can end up being occupied by graduates from other courses not related to law enforcement,” Santos lamented.

He also revealed that in the conduct of recruitment evaluation and screening, graduates from other courses registered higher passing average than criminology graduates during the same recruitment period that resulted in other courses representing majority of the applicants and recruits in the police service.

It was also seen in a Napolcom study, according to Santos, that most of the criminology graduates in the region did not apply immediately for recruitment to the PNP service as they preferred other employments like security guards, call center agents and as Overseas Filipino Workers, among others.

One reason for this, he said, is that in most occasions, the criminology graduates who applied for entry in the police service have difficulties in communicating and explaining their knowledge and theories during the panel interviews, which are part of the screening process.

Disturbed by these findings, Santos said, his office has launched a project called “Post on-the-job training (OJT) for Graduating Criminology Students,” in response to the necessity of helping schools in the region prepare their students of relevant minimum qualifications for entry in the police service.

He said they have started with the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) College of Criminology in Sipocot, Camarines Sur, as the project’s pilot institution.

Part of the implementation of the project in CBSUA, Santos said, is the evaluation of graduating criminology students simulating an actual panel interview for police applicants for them to directly experience what transpire in the actual recruitment process.

Napolcom’s methodology being applied in the project would make all students under the mandatory OJT in police stations to be required to submit reports to include the extent of their learning on subjects like traffic management, crowd control, patrolling, criminal detection and investigation, among others, prior to their OJT.

After the OJT, they will be required to submit written articles on their impression on the police station’s system of teaching and transfer of actual information and knowledge on the same subjects as well as the knowledge and skills gained.

The post-OJT report will be the basis of another evaluation to be conducted by a Napolcom panel in the presence of the students’ instructors to determine and validate the improvement of their skills and knowledge on the subject areas.

This process will also be part of the pre-graduation evaluation of the students, Santos said.

Results of the project implementation in CBSUA will then be the basis for further enhancement of the program that will be recommended to CHED for adoption in criminology schools across the region, he added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/RSM

Daragang Magayon Festival mirrors Albayano traits, aspirations –Salceda

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) -- Jacqueline Bernarte of Bacacay, Albay won as Miss Daragang Magayon 2014 during the beauty pageant held on Saturday evening at the Albay Astrodome here.

The beauty pageant highlighted the over-a-month-long celebration of the Daragang Magayon Festival.

“It is one of the highest -- if not the highest -- pinnacles, the climax of the festival,” Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said in his speech that stressed and explained the importance of the festival celebration.

Salceda said that in the guise of a pageant and a festival, the Albayanos celebrate the Spirit of Magayon.

“Imbedded in the guise of a pageant are the ideals for which we -- as a people bound by one culture -- and for which I -- as a leader of a booming community -- will continue to live by and prosper,” he said.

He said the Spirit of Magayon mirrors the Albayano traits, aspirations, inspiration and guiding principles in life.

It is the gist of the beauty pageant, of the myth and of the festival that is being celebrated every year, the provincial chief executive said.

“It is the spirit of being a true Albayano, which we see, hear and feel in the environment, character, stories, songs and dances of our province,” Salceda explained.

He cited as an example the Albayano's care for nature, or love of nature, which emanates from the unique beauty of the province’s land and sea.

“There is Mayon, which we are always proud of; the richness of our land that yields golden harvest; the bounty of our sea; and the attractive beauty of our islands and shores,” the environmental expert said.

Salceda explained that the Albayanos’ flare for "sili" and spicy foods indicates their being adventurous and daring.

“We never hesitate to face the enemies or solve our problems -- and we always show our steadfastness,” he said.

With this courage, he added, is the renewed strength or resiliency the Albayanos display after every calamity, where they immediately stand after being devastated by it.

“This is perhaps the reason why heroism is natural among Albayanos –- and we don’t hesitate to fight or stand even before a strong enemy force, as shown by General Ola, Generl Paua and Camilo Jacob,” the economist governor said.

Imbedded also in the spirit of Magayon, Salceda explained, is the natural beauty not only of the physical but also the character of the Albayano –- his being friendly by nature and lover of beauty.

“The beauty pageant reflects our never-ending quest for beauty and excellence in all aspects of our being -- even in the face of nature’s anger and unfriendly weather condition!” he said.

It is just a simple beauty pageant, Salceda said, “but if we extrapolate the same principles, the same aspirations, the same strategies and the same energies to larger endeavors, then this beauty pageant becomes a paragon for excellence.”

“Although we often look up and pray for divine intercession, we never really rely on pure faith or blind belief. In our determined strides towards making Albay the Venezuela of Asia, we unceasingly aspire for the highest levels of beauty by searching for those who are genetically endowed, by preparing them for world-class competition, and by supporting their material needs until their goals are achieved,” the nature-loving Green Climate Fund co-chair further explained.

This, he added, is the same principle that is used in searching for excellence in education and taking care of the health of the Albayanos.

Salceda mentioned the example of the Team Albay that employs the same determination and strategies in risk reduction and mitigate the effects of calamities.

“We pray the Oratio Imperata, but we don’t fully rely on the act of God. We act to avoid danger, protect those who are in risk of disasters and help rehabilitate the victims of calamities,” he added.

And so, he said, the Albayanos are reaping the benefits of their unceasing quest for beauty and excellence.

“In the process, Albay became the world model for climate change preparedness and for disaster reduction and mitigation. We became a resourceful and resilient people,” the climate change adaption expert noted, adding, “And the principle of constant kindness even moves us to assist others who are beyond our borders.”

He said the Team Albay has already undertaken 11 humanitarian missions in many parts of the country.

“In the myth of the Daragang Magayon lies the simple and ordinary but strong principle in life. It is a conscious ordinariness yet an honest and determined stand to protect one’s integrity even in the midst of eminent danger,” the governor said.

In the midst of threats to her love and happiness, the Daragang Magayon never lost her respect for her honor, life and responsibility to her family, he said.

“These are the traits of an Albayano. We live in peace while struggling hard to prosper in life but once exposed to man-made and natural calamities, we face the danger and don’t yield our honor nor lower our dignity nor forget our province, neighbors and relatives,” he added.

These, he said, are the beautiful traits the Daragang Magayon Festival endeavors to portrait in the dances, songs, music -- in the streets and on stage.

“We are propagating and promoting the drama and musical richness of our province that depicts the Albayanos traits to raise our honor, pride and memories as a people,” Salceda said. (PNA) SCS/FGS/CBD/PJN

Albayanos pay homage to Pope John Paul II’s relics in Albay Cathedral

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) -- A big crowd of parishioners of the Saint Gregory the Great Parish here is expected to gather at the Albay Cathedral to join the procession at 3:00 p.m. Sunday and the Pontifical Mass led by Bishop Joey “Bong” Baylon at 4:00 p.m. for the canonization of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

The procession will be held from the Albay Cathedral to the Albay Astrodome.

The mammoth audience during the historic visit 33 years ago of Blessed Pope John Paul II in Legazpi City, where he conducted a Holy Mass outside the Albay Cathedral to accommodate tens of thousands of parishioners that flocked here to see him, is expected to be repeated Sunday.

Before the canonization of Pope John Paul II, his relics and memorabilia have been displayed at the museum of the Diocese of Legazpi as the Pope left behind lasting memories during his visit in Albay province in 1981, which will surely be pondered upon by the Bicolanos.

Parishioners of the St. Gregory the Great in Albay have been flocking here every day to visit the Pope’s relics and memorabilia.

Fr. Rex Arjona, social action executive director of the Diocese of Legazpi, said the photos and objects used by Pope John Paul II during his visit at the Albay Cathedral in this city on Feb. 21, 1981 are exhibited at the cathedral in celebration of his canonization.

Since April 24 to date, the Diocese of Legazpi led by Bishop Baylon has been holding Triduum of Masses in all parishes of the diocese in preparation for the canonization.

Evening reflections and talks regarding the life and teachings of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII in parishes, chapels and oratories by ecclesiastical communities and religious groups have been done here.

In his Facebook wall, Arjona cited Blessed John Paul II’s legacy as the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years.

“In particular, his global ministry quickly focused on Vatican II’s engagement with modern culture. As for teaching, the Pope has penned three major encyclicals on economic and social justice issues and has addressed the rich-poor imbalance continent by continent in post-synodal documents,” the priest said.

Over the last 10 years, Arjona said, the pope had also authored three other encyclicals that strongly challenged what he saw as a prevailing moral relativism in post-modern society.

“Veritatis Splendor” (1993) spoke of the truth of the Church’s moral teachings, “Evangelium Vitae” (1995) defended the inviolability of human life against what the Pope called a “culture of death,” and “Fides et Ratio” (1998) argued that human reason cannot be detached from faith in God, he added.

Meanwhile, under his guidance, Vatican agencies have issued important instructions on such specific questions as foreign debt, in vitro fertilization, the arms industry, the role of the mass media and the impact of the Internet, Arjona said. (PNA) SCS/FGS/RBB/CBD/PJN

Friday, April 25, 2014

El Niño unlikely to develop in Bicol this year — DA

PILI, Camarines Sur, April 24 (PNA) -– Rainfall condition in Bicol for the rest of summer will be above normal, rendering low the possibility of an El Niño phenomenon drying up farms in the region during the season, according to the regional office here of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In its Seasonal Climate Outlook and Advisory (SCOA) from April to June, DA said that easterly wind, trough of low pressure areas, tail end of cold front and inter-tropical convergence zone are the dominant weather systems to affect the region during the period.

SCOA is a special project of the DA that intends to keep agricultural stakeholders in the region guided on the seasonal weather situation for more productivity.

The forecast May climate condition is in contrast with that of April, which registered below-normal rainfall average in the region, except in Masbate where way below normal condition prevailed while it is normal in Camarines Norte.

April’s low rainfall and increased temperature reduced crop yield, specifically in rain-fed and irrigated areas at the tail end of canals, Abelardo Bragas, the DA regional executive director on Thursday, said.

It also caused heat stress to livestock and poultry production, Bragas noted.

Reduced rainfall in April, however, favored harvesting as well as post-harvest processing of rice and corn but reduced yield on vegetables crops;

Pasture areas for small and large ruminants were also affected by dry days, specifically in the province of Masbate, the region’s cattle industry capital.

Under the climate outlook, which was based on the forecast issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geosciences and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) for March to August 2014, DA is advising farmers in the region to plant early in May and June to be able to harvest before the typhoon season that usually occurs in September to November.

“Farmers should take advantage of the high moisture availability during these months,” Bragas advised.

PAGASA’s forecast rainfall analysis for May, he said, is at an average of 137 percent for the six provinces of Bicol with Camarines Norte getting the highest at 152.3 percent above the 100-percent normal condition and Catanduanes, the lowest at 124.3 percent.

Rainfall in Camarines Sur in the same month will be at 139.7 percent over the normal condition while Masbate, Albay and Sorsogon will have 143.5, 132.9 and 129.5 percent, respectively, according to PAGASA’s forecast.

Way above normal rainfall, Bragas warned, might cause a prevalence of chronic respiratory or bacteria diseases in poultry, hemorrhagic septicemia in large and small ruminants and pneumonia and diarrhea for swine.

In June, however, rainfall condition will be lower, reaching at a regional average of 95.8 percent against normal, with Camarines Norte still getting the highest at 110.4 percent and Masbate, the lowest, at 51.8 percent, the same forecast says.

This lowering in June of rainfall condition gives way to an increasing change (up to 50 percent) in the development of El Niño between July and September based on PAGASA’s El Niño/Southern Oscillation monitoring through its Climatology and Agrometeorology Branch.

It is under this situation that farmers should practice alternate wet and drying method in areas that could be affected by low rainfall condition to maximize the utilization of irrigation water, Bragas said.

They should also use early-maturing or drought-tolerant varieties or plant legumes like cowpea, winged bean, mungbean, watermelon, okra, squash and other crops that can tolerate below-normal rainfall and high temperature.

Fallow period must be practiced, if possible, in areas where the source of water for irrigation is difficult to rejuvenate the soil, Bragas said.

Vegetables growers, he said, should use mulch to conserve soil moisture and adopt Integrated Pest Management approach to control pest and disease infestation while livestock raisers must practice silage making to feed ruminants and provide enough drinking water during the dry months.

Animals should also be vaccinated to prevent disease occurrence, Bragas added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/JSD

Livestock ‘Oksyon’ market in Uson, Masbate, filled with action, keeps town economy alive
By Floreño G. Solmirano

USON, Masbate, April 24 (PNA) – Young and old. Men and women. With money or none. At least 500 people gather in Barangay Del Carmen here from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Thursday for the weekly livestock market day locally called “Oksyon” (auction).

Peak hours are between 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The livestock market, established by the Bureau of Animal Industry in 1970, is where buyers and sellers of carabaos, cows, horses, goats, pigs, chickens and other farm animals gather to haggle with each other for the right price for their commodity.

The place, some 11 kilometers from the town center, is a beehive of livestock trading where the sellers – mostly small farmers – hope to go home with cash on hand and the buyers -- from all over the country -- hope to buy at bargain prices and earn profits in their respective areas.

One of the sellers is Diosdado Aban, 45, who had with him his cow that he brought along on foot from his farm, about two kilometers from the marketplace.

Aban said with the sale of his cow, the enrollment of his three children in the coming schoolyear is secured.

In a little while, a man in white cowboy hat, polo shirt and pants – complete with boots, approached him and asked for the price of his commodity.

It was Edwin Du, the wealthy owner of ED Ranch, which has in its stock at least 600 heads – varying in number from time to time.

Aban’s voice was incomprehensible but Du told him in the local dialect, “I’ll take it for P7,000.00. Nobody will give you that much for your cow.”

The two agreed and Du went around to “whisper” and bargain again with other sellers.

Du, who has also a ranch in Pangasinan, has to stock up more heads of cattle in his ranch as he has closed a multimillion-peso deal with Gov. Imee R. Marcos of Ilocos Norte for the supply of about 300 heads of cattle for the governor's dispersal in the province.

He has also sealed a contract with the Department of Agriculture for its cattle dispersal program, the amount of which is double that of the Ilocos Norte transaction figure.

So, the wealthy rancher who lent his new Land Rover to Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda when he came as guest of the Rodeo Festival 2014, has to come to the Uson auction market every Thursday to beef up his cattle stock.

Managed by the Municipal Government of Uson headed by Mayor Salvadora Sanchez, the auction market is the biggest of its kind in the Bicol region and is being visited by buyers from the different parts of the country – from Mindanao, the Visayas and Luzon.

With the help of the BAI, the local government unit hopes to build modern and bigger livestock market soon.

Cows, whose live weights range from 90 to 520 kilos, are sold at P87 per kilo; carabao, 120-610 kilos, at P90 per kilo; goats sell at P1,500-P4,000 per head; horses and chickens per agreed price reached per head.

Registration per head of the livestock reaches a total of P335, which includes actual registration, transfer fee, police clearance fee and others.

“From fees alone, we get P30,000 to P40,000 per week or about P1.9 million a year, and that’s for the local government unit alone,” Uson municipal administrator Norman Capillan said.

With the income of the LGU, recorded livestock sellers and those that sell outside the auction market, the municipal economy could be said to revolve around or dependent on livestock, Capillan added.

With the artificial insemination project being pushed by the DA and the provincial government, Masbate hopes to further increase its population of high-class cattle to make the beef capital of the Philippines.

Uson, a third-class municipality of 35,000 people, is composed of 35 barangays. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/

Institutionalization of local DRRMOs now in full blast

LEGAZPI CITY, April 24 (PNA) -- Local government executives have welcomed the removal by the national government of the personal services limitation, which for the past three years has prevented local government units at all levels from creating local disaster risk reduction and management offices (LDRRMOs) and provide appropriations, a regional official of Office of Civil Defense in Bicol said.

OCD Bicol Regional Director Raffy Alejandro said the move has given way for the full blast institutionalization of LDRRMOs nationwide.

Alejandro said this is provided for under the latest Joint Memo Circular No. 2014-1 jointly issued on April 4, 2014 by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chairperson, Civil Service Commission chairperson; Department of Budget and Management secretary; and Department of the Interior and Local Government secretary.

He explained that the JMC has legal bases on Section 12 of RA10121; Section 76 of RA7160; and Section 83 of RA10352 -- all of which prescribe policies and guidelines in the establishment of LDRRMOs in the provinces, cities, municipalities and a BDRRMC in every barangay.

“This JMC No. 2014-1 further prescribes the creation of at least four statutory DRRM positions at all LGU levels, namely: one DRRM officer and three DRRM staff.

In accordance with Section 83 of RA10353, the enforcement of Sections (a) and 33 of RA7160 shall be waived to enable the LGUs to fund the initial year requirements for the creation of the minimum four mandatory positions at the local DRRM offices,” Alejandro said.

In fact, he said, some of LGUs have already formulated their disaster risk reduction and management plans (DRRMP) using the new DRRMP template prescribed by the NDRRMC.

“The island and disaster-prone province of Catanduanes Governor Arceli B. Wong is one of the first provinces to have formulated such plan,” the OCD 5 official said. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/JSD

Legazpi’s cool atmosphere impresses summer vacationers (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 24 (PNA) – Vacationers and visitors who have been flocking into this key Bicol travel destination by the foot of majestic Mt. Mayon since the onset of summer are impressed by the cool atmospheric temperature prevailing over the place.

This local weather situation, which plays in contrast with other parts of the country -- especially Metro Manila, is brought about by the gentle blowing of easterly wind and moderate occasional rains that contain the heat of summer.

“Nakaka-inggit ang Legazpi. Bukod sa maganda ang mga tanawin at mga pasyalan, sariwa pa ang hangin, malinis ang dagat at malamig ang kapaligiran kahit na tag-init (We envy Legazpi. Apart from beautiful sceneries and places to visit, its air is fresh, the sea is clean and the environment is cool even during the dry season),” according Noel Monteverde, a vacationist from Manila.

The city is indeed very different now from what it was 15 years ago, the last time he was around for a Holy Week break, he said.

Here, everyone can take a deep breath for fresh air coming from the Albay Gulf at the Legazpi Boulevard or the Ligñon Hill and have a sigh of relief from the air pollution in Manila, Bless de la Cruz, a vacationing "balikbayan" from the US, said.

“Clean, fresh and cool air is so enjoyable here unlike in other places of the country that are now sweltering in summer heat,” she said.

De la Cruz also based her remarks from what she learned from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which had earlier classified the air quality here as clean.

In determining the local air quality, EMB is using its recently-acquired Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS), an instrument that measures concentrations of atmospheric trace gases such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, among others, that are chemically reactive factors of air quality in a given area.

The air quality monitoring, the EMB said, is part of the mandate of the DENR, through the EMB, to generate necessary information in formulating a comprehensive air pollution management and control program.

On the part of the city government, Mayor Noel Rosal on Wednesday said measures such as the provision of bicycle lanes on existing roads to encourage biking and minimize the use of motor vehicles that emit air pollutants and the absolute ban on cigarette smoking in public places are now in place.

Concerning the quality of the local sea water, the DENR had also earlier ranked the city’s coastal and marine waters, particularly Albay Gulf, as Class SB -- which means it is fit for recreational activities such as swimming, bathing and diving.

The classification was made by the DENR based on the agency’s "Revised Effluent Regulations of 1990" that determines the heavy metals and toxic substances of a body of water.

The ranking is also in accordance with Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 that aims to protect the country’s water bodies from pollution caused by land-based sources like industries and commercial establishments, agriculture and community or household activities. According to Rosal, the DENR classification is a welcome development for the city and “we are happy about it because it will further strengthen the local tourism industry, apart from the good news it delivers that our sea waters is clean and safe for recreational activities.”

This adds color to the city’s waterscape, with beautiful white surging surfs of the ocean gracefully sweeping to form a sharp contrast with jet-black volcanic sands underneath up to the natural formations of the long stretch of beach, is itself a natural wonder added to the majestic view of the iconic Mayon Volcano, the city mayor added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Legazpi gets ready to host international tourism summits in May
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 23 (PNA) – This city is on its peak of preparations for the hosting of the 26th Joint Meeting of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Commission for East Asia and the Pacific (CAP) and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia (CSA) to be held on May 18-20, this year.

“We are closely coordinating with the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Tourism (DOT) based here in making every detail of our preparations at its best because these events expect the attendance of hundreds of dignitaries representing various countries that are members of UNWTO,” City Mayor Noel Rosal on Wednesday said.

The UNWTO is the UN agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability.

It also offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

Apart from 156 member-states, its membership includes six associate members and over 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

The preparations include security details to be provided by the local police office, the venue which is the posh Oriental Hotel located atop a hill facing the iconic Mayon Volcano and overlooking the city, emergency medical provisions, transportation and traffic management, among others, Rosal said.

According to DOT Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla, the CSA/CAP Joint Commission meeting is UNWTO´s principal annual event in the Asia-Pacific Region, attended last year by representatives from UNWTO member-states, in addition to some UNWTO affiliate members and international and regional organizations, including the World Federation of Tourist Guides Association (WFTGA) and Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).

This year’s one key item on the agenda of the Joint Commission will be a debate on air connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region, she said.

Ravanilla said the delegates will start arriving here on May 17 wherein they will be accorded with a welcome reception at the Misibis Bay Resort, a private tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach along the southern tip of Cagraray island in Bacacay, Albay, which is considered as the luxury island playground in the Philippines.

The first day (May 18) will be focused on thematic discussions on air connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region as well as on the nomination of a candidate to represent the UNWTO-CAP in the Committee on Tourism and Competitiveness, among others in the program, she said.

The second day will be for the UNWTO-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change wherein Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III is expected to deliver a keynote address in the opening program.

Topics to be discussed in this conference include New Realities of Tourism in an Era of Global Climate Change to be tackled by Dr. Rebecca Nadin, Director INTASAVE Asia Pacific; and Tourism’s Response to Climate Change: An Examination of Tourism-Related Initiatives in Asia and the Pacific by Dr. Andy Choi of the University of Queensland, Australia.

Other topics are Climate Change as a Major Crisis Event: Implications for a Tropical Nature Based on Destination to be discussed by Prof. Bruce Prideaux, School of Business, James Cook University, Australia; and ASEAN Framework, Parameters and Approaches on Tourism Responding to Climate Change by H.E. Le Luong Minh, ASEAN secretary general.

Philippine Climate Change Policies and Initiatives will be presented in the conference by Sec. Mary Ann Lucille Sering of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines while Sustainable and Innovative Climate Change Initiatives in the Tourism Sector will be tackled by Dr. Dirk Glaesser of the Sustainable Development of Tourism Programme, World Tourism Organization.

The Role of Travel Agency in Tourism Risk Management will be handled on the same day by Yoshinori Ochi, Director of the Board and Secretary-General, International Affairs, Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA).

Managing Aviation and Tourism Policies: Lessons Learnt for Climate Change will be discussed on the third day with a special presentation by Khorshed Alom Chowdhury, chairman of the Bangladesh Tourism Board to be followed by Consumer Behavior and Tourists Responses to Climate Change by Prof. Martin Lohmann, University of Luneburg – Leuphana, Germany.

Before the end of the third day, Glaesser will present the Legazpi Declaration on Tourism´s Response to Climate Change which the UNWTO will officially adopt, Ravanilla said.

After the closing of the conference, she said, all delegates will be ushered to a technical tour at the Ligñon Hill and the Legazpi Boulevard, and experience ATV (all-terrain vehicle) rides.

Ligñon Hill is a 156-meter peek near the Legazpi Airport that offers a 360-degree view of the Albay Gulf, the entire landscape of the city’s urban and rural centers, the historic Municipality of Daraga and the entire edifice of the volcano.

The Legazpi Boulevard is a four-kilometer stretch of wide concrete road bordering the long beach of Albay Gulf and serving as an artistic milieu for physical fitness activities that is well-lighted at night, clean, easily accessible, secure and free from air pollution.

Tourists have learned to love this boulevard as much as they love all other local wonders, both man-made and natural, which make Legazpi known today in the tourism world as the “City of Fun and Adventure.”

An ATV ride is a one-of-a-kind adventure that includes a nine-kilometer going to the lava front of Mayon Volcano from the foot of the Ligñon Hill. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/SGP

Monday, April 21, 2014

Albay police to hold research study on cop transformation plan

LEGAZPI CITY, April 15 (PNA) -- The Albay Police Provincial Office (APPO) has entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with a research team from the academe tapping its services in conducting extensive community-based research study on the Philippine National Police P.A.T.R.O.L. Plan 2030.

The PNP P.A.T.R.O.L. Plan 2030 is the PNP's blueprint of transformation being implemented nationwide.

Selected city and municipal police offices of the APPO will serve as respondents in the research study.

The MOA for the contract of professional services was formally signed on Monday by Senior Supt. Marlo S. Meneses, APPO officer–in–charge, in the presence of Senior Supt. Romulo A. Esteban, representing the PNP Police Regional Office 5, after the flag-raising ceremony at Camp General Simeon A. Ola here.

Meneses said the research team will conduct survey and field interviews with key informants who are individuals most knowledgeable about the Performance Governance System and PNP P.A.T.R.O.L Plan 2030 randomly selected by the project team in APPO.

It will also determine the final list of participants in the focus group discussion (FGD), conduct FGD with individuals with close contact/communication/interaction with the police, and ensure that the proceedings are properly documented, he added.

It will further collate and process the data gathered from the survey, field interviews with key informants and FGD with utmost care to ensure and protect the integrity of the data during the process.

Lastly, Meneses said, the research team will write the final report pertaining to the research study in coordination with him.

All activities of the research team shall be in close coordination with the APPO regarding this activity with the end in view of further gathering valuable inputs concerning the PNP P.A.T.R.O.L. Plan 2030, he added.

Earlier, the APPO formed a Provincial Advisory Council that will serve as its advisory body by providing strategic direction in realizing its long-term objectives in its journey of transformation. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/cbd/

PNP scores vs rampant carnapping of motorcycles
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, April 15 (PNA) – The Philippine National Police has finally scored against the rampant carnapping of motorcycles in Bicol following the arrest on Sunday of two suspects, one of them a former Legazpi barangay councilor, in possession of spare parts from various motorcycles without supporting papers.

A police report released Tuesday said Dindo A. Fuentes of Binanuahan, Legazpi City, was arrested at about 8:20 p.m Sunday in nearby Daraga town while about to flee with a stolen motorcycle.

Police found Fuentes in possession of 16 keys for various motorcycles.

During interrogation, he implicated one Janlen L. Azuran, a former barangay councilor of Barangay 23 (Imperial Court) in this city.

An operation in coordination with the Legazpi City Police Office (LCPO) led to the arrest of Azuran at about 8:45 p.m. Sunday at his residence in Barangay 23 here where he operates a junk shop.

Police found in his possession various motorcycle spare parts minus engines, said Supt. Joel Adan, newly appointed police chief of Daraga town.

Adan said a police intelligence report said a big-time trader is believed to be behind the rampant carnapping of motorcyles who sells the engines to fishermen for fishing boats used in Bicol island provinces.

Legazpi City is the alleged dumping ground of carnapped motorcycles that are reportedly chop-chopped.

A police report said Azuran has been presented for inquest at the Legazpi City Prosecutor’s Office for violation of the anti-fencing law. Azurn and Fuentes were charged with carnapping at the Daraga Prosecutor’s Office on Monday.

Earlier, the local police recovered a motorcycle which was reported stolen from its owner about four months ago.

The vehicle was intercepted by joint elements of the LCPO led by Senior Insp. Jan King Calipay and the Bicol police’s Regional Special Operations Group led by Senior Insp. Steve Dela Rosa at a checkpoint in Barangay Baybay here.

Upon verification, the motorcycle, colored black and bearing license plate number EI 2314, was the same vehicle originally colored yellow and white which was reported by its owner Tiffany Celis stolen from her garage in Barangay Our Lady’s Village here on Dec. 22 last year.

Its driver identified in the report as Randy Ortisio, 21, who claimed that the motorcycle was sold to him by somebody, was apprehended and charged with violation of Presidential Decree 1612 or the Anti-Fencing Law.

The court has recommended a bail of P30,000 for the temporary liberty of Ortisio who, as of this report, remains in the custody of the LCPO pending issuance of a jail commitment order from the same court, the report added

Radio broadcast accounts quoted LCPO reports that a total of 37 motorcycles have been carnapped in Legazpi alone from January to April 13 this year.

Statistics showed 19 carnapping incidents happened last March in Legazpi alone.

Latest incidents showed three carnappings happened on April 4 alone in this city in less than 24 hours, making some residents brand Legazpi as the carnapping capital in the region.

“It’s only seconds and your motorcycle is gone in Legazpi,” said a text message sent to radio station D’Wow-fm radio station here on Monday.

Mayor Noel Rosal said 30 percent of carnapped motorcycles in Legazpi City took place inside the Gaisano Mall within the city center of commerce.

According to Rosal, Gaisano Mall, which is the largest mall in Legazpi, lacks security personnel, “that is why carnap syndicate could easily penetrate its premises and flee with the stolen unit without so much hussle.”

He said he had already called the attention of the Gaisano management to address the security problem.

Previous police report showed a total of 251 carnapped motorcycles in Bicol region for the year 2013, with Albay having the highest incidents and Legazpi topping the list.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/cbd/

DENR uses commodity roadmap in implementing NGP in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, April 15 (PNA) -– With 71,990 hectares targeted for the National Greening Program of the Aquino Administration in the region, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Bicol regional office has adopted a commodity roadmap that it has effectively used in the implementation of the program.

Gilbert Gonzales, DENR Bicol regional executive director, said the region started the application of the Commodity Roadmap for the Bicol Region in 2013 and will adopt it until 2016.

Timber and fruit trees are the primary/major commodities that will be planted in forest plantations in the entire region and these will cover a total of 40,000 hectares, Gonzales said.

The commodities being planted are fruits -- 20,000 hectares; mangrove -- 5,000 ha; rattan – 500 ha; bamboo – 4,000 ha; cacao – 4,000 ha; coffee – 4,000 ha; fuel wood – 10,000 ha; and timber – 20,000 ha.

Other areas are reserved for protection production areas – 4,490 ha.

For this year alone, the DENR plans to target 22,096 ha, with the commodities distributed in its 11 community environment and natural resources offices (CNEROs) in the region.

Timber, Gonzales said, is still the major target commodity to be used in 16,703 ha.

The others are fuelwood – 500 ha; rattan – 275 ha; and others in protected forest – 226 ha, and urban – 263 ha.

The DENR conducted the survey and mapping of the CY 2013 sites covering a target of 22,096 ha through a competitive bidding pursuant to Republic Act 9184, in coordination with field offices and concerned local government units, the DENR official added.

“We established colored PVC corners, measuring two inches by two feet, on every corner of the project sites and marked live corners with ‘X’ as indicator, in the event that the PVC dilapidates through time,” Gonzales said.

He said the regional office has provided the concerned offices with GIS-generated electronic data and hard copies of maps.

“Most importantly, the contractor has provided us with photo documentation of the surveyed sites to include panoramic and four-corner shots using the N/S/E/W cardinal directions at center coordinates as reflected on every map,” Gonzales added.

The 22,096-ha surveyed and mapped areas in the 11 CENROS in the region are: Albay (Guinobatan and Legazpi City), 2,300 ha; Camarines Norte (Daet), 2,542 ha; Camarines Sur (Sipocot, Naga City, Goa and Iriga City), 5,137 ha; Catanduanes (Virac) 3,807 ha; Masbate (San Jacinto and Mobo), 4,981 ha; and Sorsogon (Sorsogon City), 3,329 ha.

The DENR Bicol regional office had planted 29.3 million various species of seedlings covering an area of 43,510 hectares in the entire region as of 2013 yearend under the NGP program.

Mandated under Executive Order No. 26 issued on February 24, 2011, the NGP is a priority thrust that harmonizes all greening efforts of the government and seeks to plant 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5 million hectares from 2011 to 2016 nationwide in public domain.

Gonzales said the implementation of the NGP will address some of the priority programs of the government for poverty reduction, resource conservation and protection, productivity enhancement, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The NGP has generated jobs that have improved household incomes and general well-being of villages across the region.

People’s organizations, non-government organizations and other entities have generated incomes from the activities under seedling production, site preparation and planning, protection and maintenance of plantations that have employed 32,896 jobs, Gonzales claimed.(PNA) LAP/FGS/Emmanuel P. Solis/cbd/mec

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DA rallies Bicol LGUs into heightened participation in climate-smart agriculture

PILI, Camarines Sur, April 14 (PNA) –- The Department of Agriculture (DA) is rallying provincial governments in Bicol into intensified participation in the ongoing implementation of a foreign-funded program that serves as a platform for a modern and climate-smart agriculture in the region.

The program is named Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) whose national implementation carries P27.535 billion in total fund -- consisting of P20.553 billion loan from the World Bank, P3.579 billion as national government counterpart, P3.118 billion equity of the local government units and P287-million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

It involves 80 provincial local government units and agri-fishery stakeholders nationwide in realizing the goals of improved food security and increased incomes, climate resiliency and enhanced policy environment and governance.

Its implementation from 2013 to 2019 has identified four -- Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon — of the six provinces in Bicol as beneficiaries that the DA is engaging in orientation-meetings on investments for Agri-Fishery Microfinance Program (AFMP) to support farmers and fisher folk engaged in priority commodities.

AFMP is a joint program of the DA, the Agricultural Credit Policy Council and the Land Bank of the Philippines to improve the incomes of small farm and fishing households through improved access to financial services that can help enable them to diversify income sources and improve the profitability of their main agricultural or fishing activities.

Albay was chosen as among the beneficiaries with coconut as the priority commodity focused on coco coir and virgin coconut oil as identified under the province’s Value Chain Assessment.

Ruben Limos, Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer for Albay, said the project will have a big impact on the coconut industry of the province since 40,200 hectares of its total 103,774 hectares agricultural land is planted to coconut.

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

For Catanduanes, the provincial government is yet to decide on one of the three commodities—abaca, coconut and crab -- identified for the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP) while Sorsogon has chosen pili.

Masbate has not decided yet on the specific commodity, DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas based here, on Monday said.

The orientation-meetings are focused on the four components of the program--I-PLAN (Planning at the Local and National Levels, I-BUILD (Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development), I-REAP (Investments for Rural Enterprises and Agri-Fishery Productivity and I-SUPPORT (Support to Program Implementation).

Bragas said the provincial governments are being taught by the DA how to prepare their PCIPs which is a requirement for fund allocation from the program that would be released directly to the province.

A PCIP is a product of the value-chain analysis and interventions focused on the identified commodity and orientations on this are being conducted to familiarize provincial governments and their planning teams on the process of its preparation using the same analysis, Bragas said.

The PRDP is also being implemented in collaboration with the National Convergence Initiative for synchronized delivery of programs and services to the rural communities and harmonization of priority areas to eliminate duplication and maximize complementation of activities.

The Department of Public Works and Highways is also involved to provide technical support in the design of farm-to-market roads and bridges and coordination to complement with the national road network plan.

Other agencies involved in the program are the Department of Science and Technology to provide access to research activities and transfer of developed technologies related to agriculture products and processes; Department of Trade and Industry for enterprise development; and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as support to Conditional Cash Transfer Program.

The Department of Budget and Management, Department of Interior and Local Government, DSWD and National Anti-Poverty Commission are also involved for a more participatory planning and budgeting through involvement of grassroots organizations and communities. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DA-Bicol intensifies production of genetically-improved carabao breeds
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, April 14 (PNA) –- The Regional Field Unit (RFU) here for Bicol of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is harnessing the potential of artificial insemination (AI) in accelerating genetic improvements towards increasing the productivity of carabaos.

“We are intensifying this activity to help farmers in the region in conserving animal genetics and promote better breeds that are resistant to diseases,” DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas on Monday said.

While farm mechanization is a campaign that DA is aggressively pushing for more crop production in Bicol, Bragas said the agency still accepts the fact that carabaos remain associated with local farmers who consider the animal as their best friend and work buddy especially in small hold and draft animal-dependent farming.

“Although mechanization is slowly sidetracking the use of carabaos, certain activities in the farm will never allow farmers to dispense with the carabao as, for them, it remains their best friend and work companion,” Bragas stressed.

And since the rise in oil price is significantly impacting on the cost of farm inputs -- leading to a considerable increase in the cost of production and resulting in upward movement of food prices, with rural farming families caught in a tight situation of declining net income and reduced purchasing power -- the importance of the lowly carabao that does not require fuel and spare parts persists, he said.

The swamp type of carabao is the most commonly use draft animal in the region and it can be used for farm works from four to 15 years.

It could also produce milk that contains five percent proteins, which is higher than the 3.5 percent in those sourced from cow and goat.

Its meat, commonly called carabeef, is more nutritious than that of the cattle because it has 41 percent less cholesterol, 92 percent less fat and 56 percent fewer calories.

Fresh carabeef has higher crude protein than pork and beef and the meat is produced with fewer hormones or antibiotics because they are raised mainly out of nature’s fodder and grain.

Besides, the carabao manure which is left anywhere in the field has economic importance as it contains 18.5 percent nitrogen, 43.7 percent phosphoric acid and 9.6 percent potash, making it a good fertilizer.

This waste can be used as fuel when dried and produce methane for biogas.

Despite these many uses and importance of the lowly carabao, the population of this animal, according to Bragas, is declining as most farmers are forced into selling their draft animal amid threats of diseases like hemorrhagic septicemia, a bacterial disease transmitted through infected feeds and water.

Besides, these animals are also getting smaller and poor producer of milk thus, the DA-RFU, in collaboration with the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), is intensifying the upgrading of the animal in the region through AI.

Earlier results of this activity show that crossing murrah buffalo and Philippine carabao into a genetically-improved breed called F1 makes the animal grow as much as 100-percent faster and produces up to 300 percent more milk, Bragas said.

Murrah buffalo, he explained, is the most important and well known water buffalo breed being traditionally managed under domestic conditions.

They feed on different kinds of roughages and on concentrate mixtures, and if pasture grasses are available, they graze all day long.

Growing with short, heavy and stockily-built body featuring a large belly, an F1 is resistant to damp conditions and tropical diseases and also the best breed for milk production, Bragas said.

Native carabaos, he said, weigh only at an average of some 100 kilos while the weight of an F1 could reach as much as 300 kilos.

Aside from this, the latter produces around 10 liters of milk per day, which is way above the production performance of the native of only about four liters, Bragas noted.

A female murrah buffalo can calve at three years of age and when crossbreed through AI with the Philippine carabao, he said, the first generation could be expected to be of quality animals that may also increase farmers’ income through milk production.

Bragas recalled that for the past several years, AI has been an effective tool of the DA in producing quality animals or in getting the desired genetic breed improvements.

The practice is used in crossbreeding animals and is widely and extensively used in carabao reproduction.

Since 2001 until 2012, Bragas said, a total of 1,293 calves have been produced by the DA in Bicol under this crossbreeding project that was also applied in the production of 7,362 caracows or the crossbreed of carabaos and cow through AI.

In Bula, Camarines Sur, particularly in Barangays Sto. Niño and Lubgan, about 25 calves were produced under this project and, according to Celestina Esteve, the municipal livestock coordinator, farmer-beneficiaries of the project have been enjoying better prices for their upgraded calves compared to the native.

Each head of an F1-native crossbreed calf, she said, fetches as much as P15,000 compared to the native that could only be sold at the highest bid price of livestock traders of P8,000.

This is because the genetically-improved animal is bigger, heavier and grows faster than the native carabaos, Esteve added.

“We are now aggressively pursuing this AI project to be able to produce more quality, sturdy and resistant breeds of carabao for the farmers,” Bragas said. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Poor Bicolanos pained by toll of over-fishing on favorite fish (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

MAGALLANES, Sorsogon, April 14 (PNA) – Pilchards, locally called “lawlaw,” which used to be the most abundant and affordable fish for poor Bicolanos, have been observed to be rapidly vanishing from the region’s fishing grounds.

The culprit, according to observers, is over-fishing.

Also known as sardine, pilchard -- an oily fish that can grow to around 10 inches in length and swim in large schools -- is believed to be a good source of protein, particularly by the average Bicol fisher folk, including lowly families in rural areas of the region.

In the past years until the middle of last year, tons of this fish species would be hauled from the waters of Ticao Pass and Burias Pass, two adjoining fishing grounds within the overlapping jurisdictions of the provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon.

The bonanza then spilled out to Sorsogon Bay that the around 8,000 fisher folk here and seven other localities, including Sorsogon City, considered God sent.

“We earned good income from lawlaw during those heydays. About 20 truckloads of the fish could be hauled then from our fish port and that of the nearby Bulan town for delivery to some canning factories in Metro Manila or delivered to markets all over Bicol,” Edgar Homo, a fish dealer here, recalled in local dialect.

Fish for everyday consumption of local consumers was not also a problem because a kilo then could be bought for as low as Php10, he said.

But now, seldom that the fish can be found in the town market or anywhere around the province, Homo lamented.

“Even for our own consumption, we can longer catch and enjoy the mouth-watering taste of lawlaw,” claimed fisherman Michael Barrios, also of this town by the coastlines of Ticao Pass and Sorsogon Bay.

According to Greenpeace, Ticao Pass is representative of Bicol’s marine biodiversity at risk, given that despite of the presence of iconic species and eco-tourism wonders, it is situated side by side with poverty in coastal communities.

It also represents the totality of the region’s fishing grounds where destructive illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing are rampant -- resulting in a considerable decline of catch and fisheries species, it said.

Ticao Pass and Burias Pass, located on the eastern coast of Bicol, are considered as Bicol’s most productive and also listed as two of the country’s major fishing grounds.

Both have very high plankton concentrations brought by strong currents from San Bernardino Strait that attract iconic marine creatures such as manta rays, whale sharks, hammerheads and thresher sharks, which feed on this marine organism.

Other fish species -- such as jacks, tuna, sardines and mackerel which are important to the local population for their daily protein needs -- are also endemic in these areas.

“When lawlaw was aplenty along our municipal waters, commercial fishing operations intrude our grounds, leaving very little fish catch for small-scale fisher folk like us. We can barely catch six kilos a day, the average haul that will give us a good day’s wage,” Barrios said.

Other modes of illegal fishing like the use of dynamites and trawl and pre-mature catching of lawlaw are also unchecked and the consequences of heavy damages are now being felt from the demolition of the population of lawlaw and other commercial species on these fishing grounds, he added.

Trawl fishing is a method of gathering huge numbers of fish and by-catch or unintended catches by dragging a giant net, sometimes up to the bottom of the sea, behind a ship.

In the nearby town of Donsol, Greenpeace said existing data have it that 32.5 percent of commercially important fish are over-fished.

The annual fish harvest of about 1,350 metric tons by the municipal fisheries sector is upset by the intrusion of commercial fishers that harvest about 12,000 metric tons of fish annually.

Municipal fisher folk along Ticao and Burias -- together with some concerned sectors both in the government and private sectors like the academe, civic groups and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources -- are active in protecting their municipal fishing grounds and have long been opposing the presence of illegal commercial fishing vessels in their waters.

Greenpeace is also working to support local fishing community to help put an end to destructive fishing and over-fishing by way of linking arm with local environmental conservation activists in a call for a stop to rampant illegal fishing activities that undermine marine-based development initiatives in the area.

Recognized as an independent global campaigning organization, Greenpeace has recently linked with some local non-government organizations in echoing its call for stakeholders’ change in attitudes and behavior to protect and conserve the environment.

The tie-up is particularly concerned over Ticao Pass, Burias Pass, Sorsogon Bay and San Bernardino Strait -- four of the many fishing grounds in Bicol that are considered heavily exploited owing to illegal fishing, especially by commercial vessels.

These destructive forms of fishing will certainly expand to adjacent grounds once illegal commercial fishing vessels are allowed to continue venturing into the seas of Bicol, according to Greenpeace Southeast Asia Ocean Campaigner Vince Cinches.

“Illegal commercial fishing activities in these areas are stealing the future of Bicol,” Cinches stressed, as he called on local authorities to initiate firm moves against it by way of determined law enforcement.

“While we recognize initiatives by different government units and agencies against illegal fishing in Bicol seas, we lament the qualitatively unchanged condition that resulted in high poverty incidence and a very degraded unproductive marine ecosystem in the area,” the group said.

If only the laws against illegal fishing are strictly enforced, then it will create a big difference towards the wish of Pres. Benigno Aquino III that stresses on the “need to rest our seas,” Cinches said.

The President’s primary concern is to make the fisheries sector sustainable through effective management of important biodiversity areas to replenish fish and ensure good catches for fishermen not only in Bicol but also in all the other regions of the country, he added. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Monday, April 14, 2014

Legazpi cops, regional operatives recover stolen motorcycle
By Connie Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, April 14 (PNA)—The local police recovered a motorcycle which was reported stolen from its owner about four months ago, a police report released over the weekend said. The Philippine National Police (PNP) Albay provincial office based at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here said the vehicle was intercepted by joint elements of the Legazpi City Police Office led by Senior Insp. Jan King Calipay and the Bicol police’s Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) led by Senior Insp. Steve Dela Rosa in a checkpoint at Barangay Baybay here.

Upon verification, the motorcycle, colored black and bearing license plate number EI 2314, was the same vehicle originally colored yellow and white which was reported by its owner Tiffany Celis to be stolen from its garage in Barangay Our Lady’s Village here on Dec. 22 last year, according to the report.

Its driver identified in the report as Randy Ortisio, 21, who claimed that the motorcycle was sold to him by somebody, was apprehended and charged for violation of Presidential Decree 1612 or the Anti-Fencing Law.

The court has recommended a bail of P30,000 for the temporary liberty of Ortisio who, as of this report, remains in the custody of the LCPO pending issuance of a jail commitment order from the same court, the report added.(PNA)

2 girls drown in Albay town resort

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, April 13 (PNA) -– Two girls, aged 8 and 10, drowned while swimming with their relatives at the Amater Spring Resort in Barangay Tanawan, Malinao, Albay, at about 10:45 a.m. Sunday.

In a report to Senior Supt. Marlo Meneses, Albay Provincial Police Office director, Senior Insp. Art Gomez, Malinao Municipal Police Office chief, identified the victims as Blessy Eunice Clapiz, 8 , and Elena Carlit, 10 – both residents of Purok 1, Barangay Santa Elena, Malinao -- who did not reach the Lianko Medical Hospital alive.

Gomez said the parents of the victims, Nessy Clapiz and Jocelyn Carlit, told them that while they were busy preparing food at their rented cottage just several meters from the swimming pool, they heard commotion, which they did not mind at first.

They later found out that their respective daughters were the victims, who had reportedly jumped into the deep part of the pool.

They rushed the victims to the hospital but the two young girls did not make it alive.

Police said their investigation showed that the resort has only one life guard on duty, Henry Capino, but he has no documents showing he has the proper training for a life guard.

The police also found out that the resort has no life-saving devices, has no markings or warnings in the pool area and has a municipal business permit that expired on Dec 13 , 2013. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/NOD

Masbate’s Rodeo Festival showcases local folk’s way of life, aspirations

MASBATE CITY, April 13 (PNA) -- The 21th Rodeo Masbateño Festival unsaddled on Saturday as it culminated five straight days of festivities showcasing the best breed of cattle in the country where the ranchers, cowboys, cowgirls, cowhands, stockmen and traders gathered for a cause: to bolster sports and agri-tourism here.

The event takes place every summer since 1993 in the province of Masbate, southeast of Manila and the “Cattle Capital of the Philippines.”

The highlight of the Rodeo was a display by local cowboys and cowgirls of their muscles and brains, dexterity, and correct and safe techniques in handling cattle.

Rodeo portrays the Filipino way of life as well as the daring and persevering character of the Masbateños as local cowboys and cowgirls compete in western-style rodeo events like bull riding, wrestling, lassoing and handling where men and women are dressed in cowboy outfits to perform the feats.

The thrilling show of skills involves several categories such as those for school men, school women, professional men and professional women contests.

These events draw people from the other parts of the Philippines and around the world as international cowboys and bull riders also participate in the competitions.

Also included in the events are a fair and exhibitions and trade of cattle and horses.

Apart from portraying the way of life and daring attitude of local cattle folk, the annual Rodeo festival here is pursuing to reinvigorate the dying cattle industry here as majority of the children of the ranchers opt to work in the big cities than to follow the footsteps of their parents, said Judge Manuel Sese, non-government organization Rodeo Masbateno Inc. president.

Through this annual event, cattle ranchers, horse breeders and feedlot operators showcase their best products as the ranchers breed the best and prepare for the show annually here.

Culturally rooted in the island province of Masbate where cattle are abundant, the Rodeo Masbateño is a day-to-day ranch practice that has been turned into a display of games and fun.

“The purpose of Rodeo festivity is to showcase around the country our livestock and tourism industry. Though before it was politically laden as it was run by politicians, forgetting that the RMI is a corporation, this is our own way of honoring farmers not only the ranchers but also the cowhands -- our devout partners in the farms,” Sese said.

In September 2, 2002, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared the island province of Masbate as the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines.

The annual Rodeo festivity was organized in 1993 by local ranchers and businessmen through the initiative of former governor Emilio R. Espinosa, Jr. with the aim of promoting the age-old cattle industry of the province, having once led in its production.

Eventually, Rodeo turned into an avenue for promoting local tourism.

Today, under the leadership of Sese, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 49, the festival aims to bring back the glory of Masbate as the number one cattle producer in the country.

“We are also encouraging the children of the ranchers to love the farm. It is also our desire to unite the Masbateños as our politics become divisive. Under our leadership the RMI members, irrespective of their political affiliations, work together to bolster our quest for development and promote sports and tourism,” Sese said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/PJN

1 dead, 3 seriously hurt in CamSur motorcycle accident

LEGAZPI CITY, April 12 (PNA) -- A housewife died and three others were seriously injured when the tire of the motorcycle they were riding on blew along the road in Zone 1, Barangay Kinalansan, San Jose, Camarines Sur, on Friday afternoon.

A police report identified the victim who did not reach the Partido District Hospital alive as Rosalinda Delos Santos, 50 and married.

Seriously injured and being treated in the same hospital are Delos Santos’ son, Joseph, 26, married; Daryl Pesimo, 19, single; and eight-year-old Marjorie Molina -- all residents of Zone 7, Barangay Lidong, Presentacion, Camarines Sur.

The report said the accident occurred at about 4:20 p.m. when the tire of the motorcycle driven by Joseph blew, causing him to lose control of the vehicle which subsequently overturned.

Responding residents immediately brought the victims to the hospital but Delos Santos failed to make it alive.

The report said the victims were going to Barangay Sabang to attend a fellowship of El Shaddai religious group where they belong. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

Bicol media seek fast solution to killing of lady journalist in Cavite

LEGAZPI CITY, April 12 (PNA) –- Six days since the killing of Remate tabloid news reporter Robelita “Rubie” T. Garcia, Bicol media practitioners are asking law enforcers to fast track the solution of the case as they condemned the murder of the lady journalist in her home in Bacoor City in Cavite province.

“We welcome the information that Senior Supt. Joselito Esquivel has given ‘Task Force Tugis’ 72 hours to arrest the perpetrator and his accomplice in the murder of Garcia,” said Mar Arguelles, Albay-Legazpi Press Association vice president.

Esquivel, the Cavite Provincial Police Office director, has formed a tracker team composed of 200 police officers.

“Our country is indeed not safe anymore for working media personalities,” said Dondi Bilason, president of the Police Regional Office 5 Press Corps.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has said that 24 media practitioners have been murdered under President Aquino's administration, the latest victim was Garcia who was murdered inside her residence in Cavite on April 6.

“And to think the latest victim is a lady journalist and a mother,” said Bicol University Prof. Cet Dematera of Philippine Star.

The Bicol Correspondents League (Bicol), Bicol Reporters Association for Development (BRAD), ALPA and the PRO5 Press Corps said that with the average of six journalists killed every year during the past four years, something must be wrong in the peace and order situation in the country.

Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said he could not fathom why journalists who merely report the news should be murdered.

Salceda is considered as the poster parent of media in Albay, having provided support to local broadcasters as his partners in promoting the many programs of his administration, among them the P700-million scholarship program and climate change adaptation initiatives.

Despite the risks facing media members, especially those with the guts and the nerve to expose wrongdoings in the government, more journalists are only challenged to face them, said BRAD president Salvador Flor.

According to Manuel “Manny” Ugalde of The Manila Times, who is the executive vice president of BICOL, a journalist worth his salt is not counting or thinking about the casualties and risks in the media practice but how he can provide and satisfy the public with a truthful news -- good and bad.

Ugalde was himself a victim of an aborted murder attempt when while driving his owner-type jeepney in Legazpi one early evening in 1992 to meet a fellow Manila Times reporter from Manila, two motorcycle-riding persons fired at him but failed to hit him.

Officials of the four local media organizations urged all media members in the region to show individual indignation against media killings and spare a few minutes to pray that Garcia’s killing will hopefully be the last. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/utb

Catanduanes eyes bridge to connect island province to Bicol mainland
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 11 (PNA) –- No objection has been raised so far against the plan of building a bridge that is about five times longer than San Juanico Bridge to connect the island province of Catanduanes to the Bicol mainland.

The plan was recently hatched by the present leadership of the provincial government.

While San Juanico Bridge, which links Samar and Leyte, is only 2.16 kilometers and considered today as the longest bridge in the country, the ambitious Catanduanes project is a 10.8-kilometer concrete structure to be called the Friendship-Tourism Bridge.

It would connect the island to Caramoan, Camarines Sur, crossing over Maqueda Channel, the narrowest body of water that separates Catanduanes from the Bicol mainland.

And while San Juanico Bridge, which was designed by Japanese engineers and constructed for $ 21.9 million by the Marcos administration from 1969 to 1973, the proposal for the Catanduanes bridge carried no cost estimate and time table.

The plan was recently presented to the provincial legislative board and later to the local media by Governor Araceli Wong.

In a statement reaching here Friday, Wong said the project is seen to spur the economic development of the island -- citing as one benefit the making way for power cables of the Luzon grid, ending the energy shortage confronting the province.

Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of the province’s lone congressional district, in a separate statement, described the proposed 10.8-kilometer bridge as a good project worthy of support.

He, however, cautioned that the proposal has to be carefully studied and supported by documents, especially on how it would be financed and how long it would take to complete.(PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/cbd/