Thursday, May 29, 2014

Australian Embassy officials visit funded projects in Sorsogon, Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- Australian Embassy officials headed by Ambassador David Dutton visited on Monday and Tuesday the projects that the Australian government has funded in the Bicol Region through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

With Dutton were Rosella Agcaoili, senior program officer, and Robyn Piti, counselor for peace and education.

The three Australian Embassy officials went to Pilar and Donsol towns in Sorsogon and Barangay Bitano in Legazpi City where they interviewed community-implementers and beneficiaries of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), the social protection programs of DSWD, which have been long supported by the Australian government.

The Australian officials personally observed how these programs/projects are being implemented and converged at the community level and how these contributed to the growth and personal development of the recipients.

The foreign visitors learned directly from the beneficiaries and implementers of the community being served by the DSWD.

The visit provided the guests with an opportunity to personally see for themselves the positive impact of the Australian-funded projects, according to DSWD-Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia.

“In particular, I’ve learned that the community-driven development approach (of KALAHI CIDSS) is really interesting. This is new to me because I’m still learning our work here,” Dutton said.

Moreover, the senior Australian Embassy officials were able to observe the conduct of the Family Development Session (FDS) and interact with the beneficiaries in Barangay Esperanza, Pilar, and Barangay Pangpang in Donsol.

The also interviewed the community implementers on how they managed and constructed the Australian-supported day care centers and school buildings under the KALAHI-CIDSS project in the same barangays.

“Our dream to get a KALAHI-CIDSS project came true. We now have a clean and orderly day care center,” said Marites Triñanes, a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary.

The Australian government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) has already provided a total grant of P45.3 million to complete the construction of 45 school buildings and day care centers, benefiting 14,597 household-beneficiaries in seven municipalities in Bicol.

These municipalities are Pilar and Donsol in Sorosogn; Claveria, Cataingan and Palanas in Masbate; and Manito and Rapu-Rapu in Albay, which previously implemented the KALAHI-CIDSS; however, certain communities were not prioritized under the project.

Dutton personally thanked the communities they visited during the two-day trip in Bicol.

“It is great to come to a classroom and see what real difference it makes to people’s lives,” he said.

The Australian government played a fundamental role in the inception of the 4Ps in 2008 and has continuously provided support in further enhancing the implementation of the Program.

As part of the exit strategy for the 4Ps beneficiaries, Australia has likewise supported SLP to help ensure that families will be able to continue the education of their children. (PNA) LGI/FGS/EPS/CBD/UTB

LTFRB-Bicol warns more than 15-year-old PUVs to stop operation

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Bicol regional office has warned public transport owners that it will be strict in its campaign against 15-year-old passenger buses that are still out in the streets despite non-renewal of franchise for having been phased out by the agency.

LTFRB Regional Director Roel V. Asisto on Monday reiterated the call of LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez to bus operators in Bicol during a recent visit to Legazpi City to stop the operation of buses that are already more than 15 years old for the security and safety of passengers.

If these aged buses would still continue plying their routes, they will be declared as illegally operating vehicles and will be apprehended and penalized by LTFRB operatives.

Public utility vehicle (PUV) owners, however, have asked the LTFRB to give them an extension as their units are still serviceable but Ginez asked them to submit a petition to the central office.

Asisto said more than 400 PUVs are plying various routes in the Bicol region and about 50 percent of these are included in the list to be phased out by the LTFRB.

Included in those placed under strict policy compliance are the PUV vans but most of them have already complied with the regulations of the agency, Asisto said. (PNA) lgi/FGS/EPS/cbd/jsd

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

BFP inspects boarding houses in Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- With the launch of the "Oplan Balik Eskwela," the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) here has also started inspecting the different schools and boarding houses in Legazpi City for the safety of the students.

Chief Inspector Damian Rejano, BFP city fire marshall, said they will have already inspected almost all public schools and boarding houses by this week.

In Legazpi City, Rejano said, they are focusing on more or less 30 legitimate boarding houses.

"Aside from the fire extinguisher, we are also inspecting the secondary exit, proper housekeeping, electrical connection, wiring and automatic emergency lights of every concerned house," he said.

The fire official admitted that they find it hard to identify the legitimate boarding houses because most of the owners have not applied for a permit to operate as such, instead, they claim that their boarders are relatives staying with them.

"Illegal boarding houses are double in number than than registered boarding houses and dormitories in Legazpi City," Rejano revealed.

If operators are discovered violating, he said, they give them a notice to correct the violation, otherwise, they would recommend the revocation of their business permit should they fail to follow the requirements.

Rejano warned students to choose houses that have undergone inspection and has business permits to ensure their safety. (PNA) CT/FGS/AMM/CBD/UTB

Salceda orders moratorium on cutting of trees in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- Albay Governor Joey Salceda has ordered a moratorium on cutting of trees in the province of Albay.

This developed after Salceda learned about the cutting of trees being done in the first district of Albay to give way for the widening of the national road.

In this connection, he appointed Arnold Embestro, former Board Member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay, as officer-in-charge of the Environment Natural Resources Office (ENRO).

Salceda said the new provincial "environment czar" will be tasked to urgently implement the following: 1) stop the cutting of trees and implement the "tree cutting for road" moratorium and file charges against all violators; 2) collect the correct quarrying fees from all franchisees; 3) plant more trees; 4) enhance the flora biodiversity of Mayon Volcano National Park, especially the slope on the way to the Mayon Rest House; 5) file for a "writ of kalikasan" with the Supreme Court praying for an urgent temporary restraining order/cease and desist order to stop all tree cutting activities for infrastructure under the provisions of RA 3571.

"I enjoin everyone to help Embestro do his job. Nothing more, nothing less," Salceda added.

Embestro was then the SPA committee on environment and natural resources chair where he authored the "Anti-Plastic Ordinance" in 2011.

He ran for re-election but lost for the same position representing the third district of Albay.

After election, the former board member still engaged himself in several organizations promoting love for environment like heading the "I Love Albay" movement which started last year.

In an interview, he said his focus is to implement ordinances that protect natural resources and immediately implement the moratorium on cutting of trees in the province.

"I am planning to have a meeting with all the concerned agencies to set all the plans," Embestro said.

He believes that not all the trees along the road would obstruct, just like in Ligao City where there are tunnel-like trees.

In an earlier statement, Salceda expressed his dismay on the reported cutting of trees in the first district of Albay.

Under RA 7160, he said, among the local government units, provincial government is specifically and principally tasked with environmental protection.

“As chief protector of the environment and as executive elected by our people, I demand in no uncertain and non-negotiable terms the immediate transfer outside Albay of the district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways covering the City of Tabaco and the towns of Malilipot, Tiwi, Malinao, Bacacay and Sto. Domingo for acts inimical to the interest of our people and putting at risk the future of our children,” the governor said.

He condemned the haste made by the DPWH personnel in removing the trees in these areas to give way to road widening.

“The surreptitious and speed is ignominious to the actual massacre of our trees in Tiwi and Malilipot both under his jurisdiction. How come there were no tree cutting in the two other engineering districts? Why the criminal speed with surgical precision in attempt to avoid the wrath now rising from his brethren's evil, outdoing David Copperfield in single-handedly and in one fell swoop magically made decades-old Bulan tree tunnel disappear from the face of the earth? He cannot be trusted with our welfare and our people cannot sleep well if he remains in our mid," Salceda added.

He directed the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay to investigate the said tree cutting.

"Roads are made by fools like me but only God can make a tree. Alis diyan! I beg my party mates in the SPA to declare him persona non grata for abusing the hospitality of the environment in Albay. He is a menace to our political unity, to our green economy and to our ecological heritage. Sa buong Almasor, may 10 kms lang tree tunnel, eh, we have 3,000 kms of roads. No ‘ifs’, No ‘buts’,” the provincial chief executive said in his official Facebook account. (PNA) CTB/FGS/AMM/CBD/UTB

Roxas relives 'Mr. Palengke' but mum on 2016 plan

NAGA CITY, May 27 (PNA) -- Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas II relived the "Mr. Palengke" brand when he visited this city early Tuesday morning, shaking hands, exchanging banter and inquiring about prices of goods with vendors at the Naga City Supermarket.

Mum on his prospects in the 2016 presidential race, Roxas said "Mr. Palengke" did not disappear and always sees to it that he visits the market wherever he goes as he believes the market is the center of whatever place.

He said that in his visit to the market in Naga City, he was able to know that the prices of commodities are average, like milkfish priced at P90 per kilo while pork is a bit expensive here.

Roxas said he was told by the vendors that there is a shortage of hogs so the pork is relatively expensive and asked Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Presidential Assistant on Food Security Francis Pangilinan about the reason why there is a shortage of hog here.

He said he was told that the price per kilo of live weight for hogs runs from P135 to P150, which could be translated into P200 per kilo.

Roxas said that with the expensive pork prices, he advised consumers to buy fish instead which, he said, is cheaper and healthier.

The DILG secretary was here to grace the 56th birth anniversary of the late Jesse M. Robredo who died in a plane crash on Aug. 18, 2012, together with the pilot and co-pilot, off the coast of Masbate City.

He also attended the Mass in honor of Robredo at the Basilica Minore and then laid wreath, accompanied by Rep. Leni Robredo and her family, at Sto. Niño Memorial Park.

Roxas also talked fondly about Robredo, who was his friend, as one person who strive to make a decent living and impart the practice of people’s participation in governance and transparency.

“Jesse left the earth better than when he came,” he told the crowd in a program held in a hotel here after the wreath-laying ceremony at Robredo’s tomb.

Roxas also distributed the so-called funds awarded to the local government units who were awarded the Seal of Good Housekeeping: for the province of Camarines Norte, P7 million; Naga City - P3 million; Iriga City - P3 million; and P1 million each for the municipalities.

The towns of Del Gallego, Bombon, Canaman, Gaiza, Magarao, Milaor and Tigaon in Camarines Sur and the towns of Basud, Jose Panganiban, Mercedes, Paracale, San Lorenzo Ruiz, San Vicente, Sta. Elena, Talisay and Capalonga in Camarines Norte were given P1 million each.

Camarines Norte Edgardo Tallado, a Liberal Party member, said the award they received would be used to build farm-to-market road in three villages in his province.

Iriga City Mayor Ronald Felix Alfelor said the award to his city was achieved through the collective work of all the employees of the city government and that he will use it to build barangay road.

After the program, Roxas met some leaders of the Liberal Party in Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte where, he said, they have “fellowship” to remember the memories and legacy of Robredo. (PNA) LGI/FGS/JME/CBD/UTB

Roxas turns over 500 Glock pistols to PNP Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 (PNA) -- Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II turned over on Monday 500 pieces of Glock handguns to Chief Supt. Victor Deona, Bicol police regional director, during a command conference at Camp. Gen. Simeon A. Ola here.

Roxas told officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol led by Deona that the DILG is set to purchase another 75,000 firearms to augment the supply of the much-needed firearms to various police offices across the country.

He said that in order to improve further police visibility, the national police leadership will also distribute some 2,000 police patrol cars, while 380 new fire trucks will be deployed to address the lack of firefighting equipment of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

He also inspected the Regional Personnel Human Resource Development Division building and the new firing range of the PNP regional office here.

Earlier, the DILG secretary attended the flag-raising ceremony led by Albay Governor Joey Salceda at the Penaranda Park in Albay District here.

Roxas said at the program that he was not only impressed by the accomplishments of Albay under Salceda’s leadership but also by how Albayanos value their history.

“I am impressed most by how you value your history. It shows how you broadly look at your past, your history,” he said.Roxas was referring to the earlier move by Salceda to distribute to the town mayors a copy each of a printed book about the history of their respective hometowns, which was culled from a library in Seville, Spain.

He also stressed the importance of attending the regular Monday morning flag ceremony as “it gives us the chance to re-examine our dreams, goals and aspirations as a people.”In his speech at the Penaranda Park in front of the Provincial Capitol here, Salceda thanked Roxas for his ardent defense of the Southern Luzon International Airport in nearby Daraga town when the latter was still secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

He also thanked Roxas for his third consecutive appointment as chairperson of the Regional Development Council for Bicol.

Salceda, who is co-chair of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for developing nations, reported on the successful completion of the eight prerequisites for the operationalization of the US$ 100-billion GCF. (PNA) LAM/FGS/MSA/CBD/UTB

Kaogma Festival reopens to a fiesta celebration from May 24-31

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 27 (PNA) -- After two years without the usual week-long celebration, the Kaogma (Happy) Festival of Camarines Sur province reopened on Saturday in the 120-ha Camarines Sur Capitol Complex to a fiesta theme complete with free rides, rock-band concerts, pageants, boxing and variety shows with television and movie stars.

The 25-year-old Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte, the third-generation Villafuerte to hold the reins of the provincial government here, excitedly announced in a press conference “that it is a very special feelings” to be able to host, prepare and organize a festival, after nine years behind the scene when his father Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte was the governor (2004-2013).

The Kaogma Festival, a brainchild of Miguel’s grandfather Luis R. Villafuerte, who occupied the gubernatorial position for 15 inclusive years (1986-1992, 1995-1998, 1998-2001, 2001-2004), is the commemoration of the creation of the 35-town 2-city province through a Spanish decree on May 27, 1579.

From historical and agricultural themes in the late 1990s of Luis’s administration, the Kaogma Festival has evolved through the years. When LRay took the reins of the provincial government, the celebration became upbeat with colorful parades coupled with national and international sports events.

“I can’t believe I am now the one organizing and talking to people regarding the celebration of Kaogma Festival, after observing for nine years how my father (LRay) pull the event,” Miguel enthused.

With the election last year and the alternative tact of celebrating the Kaogma Festival through service caravans a year before the election, the usual week-long celebration and revelry aimed at increasing tourist arrivals had been set aside, he said.

Miguel won over his grandfather Luis in a landslide in last year’s mid-term elections even as the legal battle lasted until Feb. 25 when the Supreme Court ruled against the latter’s petition to disqualify his grandson for “material misrepresentation” over the nickname LRay Jr.-Migz.

The young governor said the Kaogma Festival this year will kick off his program in tourism which, he said, would be at par if not more than what had been achieved when his father LRay put Camarines Sur from obscurity to the national and international tourism map.

“We acknowledged that the number of tourist arrivals stagnated last year, but still very good, despite bad politics and what was happening in Camarines Sur that time. And Supertyphoon 'Yolanda' stole away the limelight out of the international wakeboarding competition which started on Nov. 8,” he said in response to the PNA's question on the tourism performance of Camarines Sur in 2013.

Miguel said that this year, the activities in the province in hosting national and international events will be revived in coordination with Tourism Sec. Ramon Jimenez until 2015.

He said there are already two international events slated next year while in July this year he will unveil a new tourism package for Camarines Sur, which include adventure activities in places other than the Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) AND CARAMOAN.


PNP chief awards 4 provincial, 1 city police chief in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 (PNA) -- Philippine National Police Chief Alan L. Purisima gave citation awards to four provincial directors and one chief of police in the Bicol Region who passed with high marks the PNP Patrol Plan 2030 PGS (Performance Governance System ) during his visit at the Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here on Tuesday morning.

Those who received awards were the Sorsogon Provincial Police Office (SPPO), Camarines Sur PPO, Albay PPO, Masbate PPO and Legazpi City PO, which, Purisima said, all advanced the programs of the police in the region.

The PPOs of Albay and Masbate both received Silver Eagle Awards for outstanding commitment and unwavering support to the implementation of the PNP Patrol Plan 2030.

PNP Bicol Regional Director Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona thanked Purisima for his presence in the inauguration of the new office of the Regional Personnel and Human Resource Development Division, which was finished in just four months and was funded from the savings of the regional police office.

Also present during the occasion were Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda and Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal who both thanked the police officers for their assistance in providing security and maintaining peace and order during the recently held United Nations World Tourism Organization's three important international meetings in Albay which were participated in by at least 400 delegates from different countries. (PNA) LAM/FGS/EMC/CBD/UTB

3 cities, 13 towns in Albay receive checks for Seal of Good Housekeeping from DILG

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 (PNA) -– The cities of Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco each received on Monday a check amounting to Php3 million from Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas as an incentive for winning the 2012 Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) at the Albay Capitol.

Assisted by DILG Regional Office 5 Officer-in-Charge Elouisa Pastor, Roxas also distributed checks of Php1 million each to the municipalities of Bacacay, Camalig, Jovellar, Malilipot, Malinao, Manito, Oas, Polangui, Sto. Domingo, Tiwi, Daraga, Guinobatan and Pio Duran.

The SGH is a citation giving official recognition to LGUS advancing the principle of accountability and transparency in local governance.

It is the brainchild of the late DILG Secretary Robredo and is aimed at gauging the performance of all the LGUS on how they spend their budget at their own respective localities.

Roxas, together with Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal and the members of Sangguniang Panlunsod of Legazpi, also led the groundbreaking ceremony of the proposed expansion of the Phase III of the Old Albay District Public Market.

The DILG secretary said the market is the center of commerce and the place where people from all walks of life can buy of all kinds of food to be used for their own daily consumption.

He added that the market is also the mirror of progress because if one locality has a good business transaction at the market, surely, that is a progressive community.

During the distribution of checks to the SGH winners, he urged all local chief executives who got awards to continue to work hand in hand for the “Daan Matuwid” under the present administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

Rosal said the Php3-million incentive from the DILG will be used for the expansion and construction of the 230-square-meter one-storey carinderia section of the market to give all the customers a comfortable place during their dining hours.

The city chief executive said the amount received by the city administration was in line with the performance-based incentive policy approved by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee of the Department of Budget and Management, which provides for an incentive framework to rationalize national government and inter-governmental transfer to LGU performance and good governance as well as delivery of basic services.

Based on the project proposal prepared by engineer Rey Benedict Rico of the city planning office, Rosal said, the improved carinderia section will include five carinderias, nine kiosks, and a dining area with complete electrical and plumbing works, tile works, steel railings, stall/roof walls and painting works.(PNA) CTB/FGS/EPS/CBD/UTB

Monday, May 26, 2014

Salceda welcomes DILG chief, reports on Albay’s accomplishments

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Governor Joey Sarte Salceda welcomed Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas Albay who came to visit some of the important projects that his department has spearheaded in the province, which was awarded the best province in local governance in 2010-2013.

In his speech at the Penaranda Park in front of the Provincial Capitol here, Salceda thanked Roxas for his ardent defense of the Southern Luzon International Airport in nearby Daraga town when the latter was still Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

He also thanked Roxas for his third consecutive appointment as Regional Development Council Bicol chairman.Salceda, who is co-chair of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for developing nations, reported on the successful completion of the eight prerequisites for the operationalization of the US$ 100-billion GCF.

He said that despite the many challenges where many deemed the goal to be impossible, the board pulled a miracle and pulled through.

“Thanks to President (Benigno) Aquino (III) for his strong moral leadership for lifting our efforts,” the well-known global green economist said.

He said the board looks forward to the participation of President Aquino in chairing developing countries in the forthcoming leaders’ summit (or pledging session) on Sept. 23 in New York, coinciding with the UN General Assembly meeting.

Salceda cited salient growth areas in the Province of Albay since his term first started.

“In the health sector, we compare the Philhealth enrolment in 2006, which was 18,510, to 173,262 in 2013; infant mortality rate went down from 9.43 percent to 7.49 percent; facility-based deliveries went up from 14 percent to a staggering 90 percent; prevalence of malnutrition dropped from 21 percent to 17 percent; and as of 2008, Albay was declared malaria-free and in 2012, filaria-free,” Salceda claimed.

The Albay chief executive also reported that in the environment sector, the province has experienced an increase in forest cover, citing that forest cover was only at 10.25 percent in 2003, while in 2010 it has grown to 17.49 percent or a total of 44,891.16 hectares.

In the agriculture scene, Albay is now the largest producer of pili from 1,200 hectares planted to 2,972, and Albay is the second biggest producer of camote and possibly the largest exporter.

In education, Salceda said, from 177 out of 193, Albay leapt to Rank 19 in 2012 although it is now at 35 as of 2014, from only 34,000 college graduates in 2000.

“We now have 184,000, principally due to the aggressive funding assistance programs of the Provincial Government of Albay, and based on a PIDS UNICEF study, participation rate in elementary has jumped from 72 percent to 98 percent and there is only a 0.3-percent dropout rate versus the national average of 1.3 percent,” he said.

The governor also reported that on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, Albay has achieved remarkable accomplishments, such as: zero casualty achieved in 17 out of 20 years since 1994; the OCD-NDRRMC has designated Albay as training institute as mandated in RA 10121 Sec. 10 h, and Albay has provided skills training to hundreds of barangays, hundreds of municipalities, 24 cities, 26 provinces and in partnerships with NGOs, provided training to firms and communities.

“Albay is the center of tourism boom in the Philippines, from only 8,765 foreign tourists in 2006 (36,608 in 2007), Albay foreign arrivals are now at 383,000 -- of which 300,000 were added from 2010-2013,” Salceda said.

As proof of these achievements, the Province of Albay became the recipient of multiple awards through the years including: the Galing Pook for early achievement of health Millenium Development Goals, the Galing Pook for DRR institutionalization, and three consecutive KALASAG awards as best province in DRR and in 2013 as a Hall of Famer. (PNA) LGI/FGS/AMM/CBD

Roxas heaps praises on Albayanos for valuing their history
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel A. Roxas III on Monday said he was not only impressed by the accomplishments of Albay under Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda but also by how Albayanos value their history.

"(At) ako ay pinaka mas na-impressed sa inyong pagpapahalaga sa kasaysayan... Ito'y pagpapakita ng inyong malawakang pagtingin sa inyong nakaraan, inyong kasaysayan. (And I am impressed most by how you value your history. It shows how you broadly look at your past, your history)," Roxas said.

The DILG secretary is now in Albay as part of his regular visits to local government units nationwide as head of the second largest department of the national government.

He will also visit the Regional Personnel Human Resource Development Division building and the new firing range of the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here.

He said the gathering of Albay’s history from libraries in Spain and spending for its printing showed how the Albayanos value it.

Roxas was referring to the earlier move by Salceda to distribute to the town mayors a copy of a printed book about the history of their respective hometowns, which was culled from a library in Seville, Spain.

He also stressed the importance of attending the regular Monday morning flag ceremony as “it gives us the chance to re-examine our dreams, goals and aspirations as a people.”

"This gives us the opportunity to recall and learn the lessons of our best practices and reconnect with each other," the DILG secretary added.

Roxas is scheduled to visit Naga City Tuesday.(PNA) FGS/CBD/

Salceda reappointed RDC-Bicol chair for 3rd term, to focus on social revolution

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda formally took his oath of office as Regional Development Council for Bicol chairman.

The appointment letter of Salceda as RDC chairman from the Office of the President was personally handed to him by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II in his visit to Albay on Monday.

Lawyer Romeo Escandor, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Bicol regional director, facilitated the oath-taking ceremony held at the People's Hall of the Albay Provincial Capitol.

According to Escandor, Salceda was the first RDC chief to be appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III for this term.

"There was a little bit delay in the appointment of RDC chairs in the entire nation because the Office of the President is very careful in the appointment, so he is the first to be appointed," he said.

This is the third term for the Albay governor as RDC chairman.

"We are now focusing on what we call social revolution to ensure that every Filipino will act as actor-participant, not the beneficiary, in every project," Salceda stressed.

Tne RDC chair said the 4Ps, or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, is one of the best example wherein every beneficiary should not just wait for the assistance given by the government but instead produce his own livelihood.

"One of our focus is food through teaching ordinary Albayano culinary arts and food safety and assure its sanitation," he added.

Included, Salceda said, is the holding of night markets which captured the interests and taste buds of tourists last week during the convention of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and other international conventions. (PNA) LAM/FGS/AMM/CBD

Albay cops arrest 5 wanted persons in 2 days

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- Elements of three police offices in Albay province arrested five wanted persons in the past two days.

Senior Supt. Marlo S. Meneses, Albay Provincial Police Office (APPO) director, said three of those arrested were collared in Legazpi City on Friday.

Meneses said that at about 11:15 a.m. on Friday, members of Legazpi CPO, arrested Francis P. Rubio in Sitio Tico-Tico, Barangay 62 (Homapon), Legazpi City, by virtue of a warrant of arrest (WOA) issued by Judge Ruben B. Carretas, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 9, Legazpi City, dated May 20, 2014,for failure to attend the hearing of a case for slight physical injuries docketed under CC No. FC-14-1483, with bail bond fixed at Php10,000.00.

Another police team of the LCPO arrested Elmer A. Buenafe at about 2:00 p.m. on Friday at his residence in Barangay 30 (Pigcale), Legazpi City, on the strength of WOAs issued by Judge Isabelo T. Rojas of RTC Branch 8, Legazpi City, dated May 20, 2014; and Hon. Judge Ruben B. Carretas of RTC Branch 9, Legazpi City, dated May 21, 2014 and docketed under CC Nos. FC-14-1502 and FC-14-1503; and CC Nr FC-14-1504 -- all for the crime of rape, with no bail recommended.

On the same day, at about 3:30 p.m., the same group of LCPO personnel composed of PO2 Victor Esquivel, PO2 Carlo Lana and PO2 Maria Lourdez Nocedo – joined and led by SPO1 Carlo Daet of the Criminal Investigation and Detection-Albay arrested Rommel C. Balinsayo for attempted homicide.

The LCPO police officers arrested Balinsayo at his residence in Purok 4A, Barangay Bigaa, Legazpi City, armed with a WOA issued by Judge Ruben B. Carretas of RTC Branch 9, Legazpi City, dated June 29, 2010, docketed under CC No. FC-10-0545 with bail fixed at Php12,000.

In another occasion, operatives of the Malilipot MPO arrested Roger A. Vasquez at about 2:00 p.m. on Friday in Purok 3, Barangay Canaway, Malilipot, Albay, for frustrated homicide.

The arresting officers had a WOA issued by Judge Mamerto Buban of RTC Branch 15, Tabaco City, dated May 20, 2014 and docketed under CC No. 5844 with bail fixed at Php24,000.00.

Earlier, at about 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, elements of Polangui MPO led by Chief Insp. Pobleo Mariano P. Magistrado, chief of police, arrested Jerry O. Rariza at his residence in Barangay Sugcad, Polangui, Albay, on the strength of a WOA issued by Judge Blancaflor V. Joven-Salgado, presiding judge, MCTC Polangui-Oas-Libon, Polangui, Albay, docketed under CC No. 10290-P for grave oral defamation, with bail bond recommended at Php 10,000. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

(ENCOUNTER UPDATE) Another female rebel injured in Sorsogon encounter

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- Another female New People's Army rebel was injured in an encounter between a 25-man rebel group and Philippine Army soldiers in Sitio Bugtong, Barangay Balocawe, Matnog, Sorsogon, on Friday morning, a top military official in Bicol said here Saturday.

Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, Sorsogon-based 903rd Infantry Brigade commander, revealed that a rebel named "Ka Cynthia" is now under the strict monitoring of Philippine Army men while in a hospital with her one-year-old child after she was wounded in the clash.

Kakilala said that at about 5:45 a.m., while soldiers of the 301st Infantry Brigade troops were patrolling, they encountered more or less 25 rebels and killed six rebels, including the commander of the Sorsogon Guerrilla Unit identified only as "Ka Randy."

The Army men also captured one amazon or female rebel identified as as "Ka-Rupel" and other unnamed male dissidents.

Government troops recovered high-powered firearms including two baby armalite rifles, M203 grenade launcher and an M16 rifle in the 30-minute firefight, according to Kakilala, who added that there are now three captured guerrilla members under their custody. (PNA) CTB/FGS/AMM/CBD/nod

Naga City mayor to enhance project on migration, development
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- Naga City Mayor John Bongat on has said Friday he will work on enhancing the implementation of the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) project in Bicol that Naga City is spearheading.

Bongat bared his plan as a result of a five-day official travel to Stockholm, Sweden, where he attended the Global Forum on Migration and Development on May 12-16 and shared Naga City’s experience in mainstreaming migration in the local development planning process.

The global meeting brought together 150 states to discuss how to harness the development potential of migration.

The city mayor claimed that his joining the conference in Sweden gave him an opportunity to learn from other international experiences that will help him in the JMDI project.

He said he also saw the prospect of fostering stronger relationship with counterparts and other international donor agencies that can lead to mutually beneficial undertakings in the future.

Bongat said that in his speech during the forum, he related how Naga City has gone this far in addressing the issues about migration and sustaining the welfare and interests of overseas Filipino workers and their families.

He said the Naga City experience goes back to Aug. 24, 2010 during the European Union-funded Migrants’ Associations and Philippine Institutions for Development (MAPID) project dissemination forum at the Ateneo de Naga University.

During the workshop, the city government, through its City Planning and Development Office, promised to incorporate migration issues in the Comprehensive Development Plan it is preparing.

In Feb. 2011, Bongat recalled, the International Organization for Migration selected Naga City to pilot a project to mainstream migration issues in local development.

It was a strategic choice, he said, driven by the city’s good governance traditions and the opportunity presented by having its former mayor, Jesse Robredo, being appointed as Department of the Interior and Local Government secretary.

More things happened after that which included the creation of a technical working group to spearhead project implementation; sectoral consultations with various stakeholders that generated/validated data about the local Overseas Filipinos (OF) in Naga; project prioritization which identified priority areas for local action; and presentation of Naga City’s comprehensive development plan during the national stakeholders’ consultation in Manila.

From Dec. 2012 to Oct. 2013, the city government, through its CPDO, worked with the national-level Commission for Filipinos Overseas (CFO), an office under the Office of the President, to help the Provincial Government of Pangasinan scale up Naga’s experience at the provincial level.

This led to the creation of Pangasinan”s own Migration and Development Council – its version of Naga’s City Advisory Committee on Overseas Filipinos.

Then last month, the city’s partnership leveled up as it secured a US $ 230,000 grant from the European Union and Switzerland to mobilize and assist replication of Naga experience in 15 LGUs (provinces, cities, municipalities) in Bicol over a period of two years.

Bongat said he told his audience that migration is both a national and local issue and that while national governments often see the need to craft policies for M&D at the macro level, the matter is clearly a local issue, as well.

He stressed that in Naga, for instance, one of every four households has an OF member, and everyone has an OF for a relative.

At the local level, therefore, M&D assumes a human face, Bongat said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD/nod

SC denies grandpa Villafuerte’s petition vs grandson-governor
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, May 24 (PNA) -– Wondering why Camarines Sur Governor Miguel “Migz” Luis Villafuerte is sitting pretty and comfortably in his swivel chair as the provincial chief executive?

Many may have not known this yet but the petition of Luis R. Villafuerte, the grand old man of the Villafuerte political clan, to cancel grandson Miguel “Migz” Luis Villafuerte’s certificate of candidacy (COC) -- and thereby disqualifying the latter to assume the gubernatorial post, has been denied by the Supreme Court (SC) with finality.

The SC’s decision was posted on its website dated Feb. 25, 2014 but was chanced upon by this writer only on Friday.

In its website, the highest court exhaustively explained why the elder Villafuerte’s argument that grandson Miguel’s use of the nickname “LRay-Migz Jr.” is “material misrepresentation” did not hold water.

The SC’s decision was penned by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta and concurred in by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno and Associate Justices Antonio T. Carpio, Prebistero J. Velasco Jr., Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Lucas P. Bersamin, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Roberto A. Abad, Martin S. Villarama Jr., Jose Portugal Perez, Jose Catral Mendoza, Bienvenido L. Reyes, Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, and Marvic Mario Victor Leonin.

Luis, who filed the petition for certiorari against the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for denying his petition, elevated to the SC the resolution of the issue whether or not the use of LRay-Migz Jr. constitute “material representation.”

Listed among the jurisprudence in the February decision of the SC, it established that “the name which respondent (Miguel) wrote in his COC to appear in the ballot is not considered material misrepresentation under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, as it does not pertain to his qualification or eligibility to run for an elective public office.”

Luis claimed that his grandson Miguel committed material misrepresentation when he declared in his COC that his name/nickname to be printed in the ballot was “Villafuerte, LRay Jr.-Migz” instead of his baptismal name.

And “that such declaration made under oath constitutes material misrepresentation even if the misrepresentation did not refer to his qualifications but referred to his eligibility to be validly voted for as a candidate, and consequently, to his eligibility to assume office.”

But the SC did not find merit in Luis’ argument and cited Section 73 of the Omnibus Election Code that states that no person shall be eligible for any elective public office unless he files a sworn COC within a period of 15 days.

Citing the SC jurisprudence in Salcedo II vs. Commission on Elections, the highest court did not even consider as misrepresentation the use of surname of a husband of a candidate when the petitioner claimed the marriage was null and void.

The Supreme Court also ruled that Sec. 78 of the Omnibus Election Code that false representation must consist of deliberate attempt to misled, misinform or hide a fact which could otherwise render a candidate ineligible.

“As we said, respondent’s nickname is not considered a material fact, and there is no substantial evidence showing that in writing the nickname “LRAy Jr. Migz” in his COC, respondent had the intention to deceive the voters as to his identity, which has an effect on his eligibility or qualification for the office he seeks to assume,” the Supreme Court decision said.

So, the highest court find no grave abuse of discretion committed by the Comelec en banc in finding that respondent did commit material misrepresentation in his COC. (PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD/nod

‘El Niño’ lowers water level in Camarines Sur’s Rinconada Area
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, May 25 (PNA) -- The “El Niño” phenomenon has affected the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) dam in the Rinconada area as its water level dropped, forcing the NIA to temporarily stop water supply to farms that it services starting Wednesday.

The dam can service up to 6,000 hectares if it will release water.

The water supply is expected to last for only 15 days but the NIA does not consider yet as critical the water lack at 82.61-meter maximum elevation.

Under an agreement between the local government of Buhi, Camarines Sur, and the NIA, the latter can stock water in Lake Buhi up to 83.30 meters and release water up to the lowest level, according to Ed Yu, official spokesman of the NIA Bicol regional office based in Naga City.

He said that in the four Bicol provinces where there is a National Irrigation System, only in the Rinconada Integrated Irrigation System that the water level lowered.

In Camarines Norte, the water level in Alahiwow Dam and other dams in the province is still normal, Yu said.

In Calabanga, Camarines Sur, the three dams -- Tigman, Inarihan and Hinagyanan – have still normal water levels because the NIA has stopped releasing water for a while but resumed releasing water as the planting season has started.

If the El Niño will hit the Bicol region, about 7,170 hectares of rice lands will be affected.

Based on the experience of the NIA Bicol, the dam water level will really go down but in case this will happen, water supply to farms will be done not at the same time but will be made alternately to be able to supply water to all needing farms.

The NIA will also add personnel to monitor the distribution of water to farms to prevent some farmers from taking advantage. (PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD/RSM

'Taxicle' hits Naga City streets

NAGA CITY, May 25 (PNA) -- A comfortably tourist, family and driver-friendly new form of transportation is now roaming the streets of this city.

Members of the Pistton Development and Transport Service Cooperative found out the positive features of the new Italy-made transport vehicle – the taxicle – when they tried to hit the road with eight units transporting passengers within the week.

Naga City Mayor John Bongat was first to try the taxicle, the first in the Philippines, upon the arrival of ten units from a supplier in Italy.

The vehicle’s original name was ‘’tuktok’’ but Bongat renamed it as ‘’taxicle."

“This new passenger vehicle is an alternative public utility vehicle that is spacious and comfortable for passengers,” he said.

The mayor added that soon additional units will ply the city routes as the Sangguniang Panlunsod has approved 100 franchises.

Rafael Duque, chairman of the Pistton Cooperative, said the plan to introduce this three-wheeled vehicle in Naga City started when the manager of the distribution company, Michael Avellana, came over to observe the flow of traffic in the city and presented their product as a new form of public transport.

Bongat found out the taxicle is good for the city as an alternative transport vehicle for the riding public.

He agreed with Avellana and called Duque for a meeting, and the two decided to try the idea.

A unit of taxicle costs Php235,000, payable on installment basis of Php10,500 every month in three years.

It can accommodate nine passengers, including the driver, while fare will be Php8.00 per regular passenger.

The vehicle will consume only three liters of crude oil up to Legazpi City, which is about 95 kilometers from this city.

This type of vehicle is popularly used in Thailand, Europe, Singapore, Italy and other countries and its manufacturer has been in operation for 60 years now, Duque said.(PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD/PJN

Heat stroke hits man gathering nipa palms

LEGAZPI CITY, May 25 (PNA) -- Relatives found a 58-year-old man, who they believed to be a victim of heat stroke, sprawled on the ground at a nipa plantation on Saturday afternoon in Sitio Sooc, Barangay Camagong, Cabusao, Camarines Sur.

A police report identified the victim as Leon Dialogo, a resident of Barangay Sta. Cruz, of same town.

The report added that Dialogo left their residence in the morning to gather nipa palms for used in repairing their roof but had not come home for lunch.

Worried, his relatives looked for him and found his dead body beside the gathered nipa palms at about 3:00 p.m.

They brought Dialogo’s lifeless body at the funeral home for autopsy.(PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/PJN

PNP chief coming to Legazpi on Tuesday

LEGAZPI CITY, May 25 (PNA) -- Philippine National Police Director-General Alan Purisima is scheduled to visit the Police Regional Office-5 (PRO5) as guest during the inauguration and blessing of the newly constructed Regional Personnel Human Resource Development Division (RPHRDD) at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here on Tuesday.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, PRO5 regional director, said the new office was built in four months and will house all sections and units under the personnel department to become a one-stop, one-shop center for police officers in the region.

Deona said the center will be high tech as all transactions will be done on-line to fast-track the processing of documents as part of the PRO5 services.

The new building, which costs about Php 1 million, was realized owing to the savings of PRO5 from their projects.

“It is not only this building that was funded by the savings but also the PRO5 firing range which is now being constructed for use by Bicol police officers to make them experts in using their firearms,” Deona said.

Ahead of Purisima’s scheduled visit, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel A. Roxas will visit Albay and see the new PRO5 RPHRDD office to serve as a model to the other PNP regional offices in the country. (PNA) SCS/FGS/EMC/CBD/PJN

Friday, May 23, 2014

Roxas in Bicol on Monday for various activities
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, May 23 (PNA) -- The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Bicol told the PNA Friday that Secretary Manuel Roxas II will be here on Monday to attend various activities at the Hotel Venezia.

Roxas will interface with local officials and give checks as Payapang at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) awards to local government units (LGUs) in Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon, according to DILG Bicol Regional Director Elouisa T. Pastor.

He will also award checks to LGUs that won in the Performance Challenge Fund, attend the launch of "Bicolano Preparado," visit the Philippine National Police Regional Office V at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here and lead in the inaugural shoot at the new PNP Firing Range, Pastor added.

The DILG secretary will also go to Naga City for other activities.(PNA) FPV/FGS/CBD/

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bicol police in full alert for possible NPA attacks

LEGAZPI CITY, May 22 (PNA) -- Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol Regional Police Office director, has ordered all provincial, municipal and city police offices to be on full alert and undertake constant intelligence monitoring after gathered information revealed that New People’s Army (NPA) rebels are planning to attack anytime.

Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are also under the same orders from their superiors.

Deona said that based on their information, a group of rebels have been going around in far-flung villages in the region in the past few days and planning to stage ambuscades on military, police and Special Barangay Operation Team members as well as local police offices being manned by few personnel.

Related to this, Deona said all military Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel have been banned from going to cockfights due to information that communist dissidents are out to launch liquidation missions against AFP/PNP members who go to gamecock arenas especially during Saturdays and Sundays.

He said they also received information that NPA rebels have been trying to orient villagers and recruiting new members particularly from among the youth.

The AFP and PNP commands have already instructed their respective members to gather more intelligence information on rebel plans as to what offices would be the possible objects of attack.

Just recently, Deona said that NPA members attacked the Community Police Assistance Center 4 of the Legazpi City Police Office in Barangay Taysan at about 8:20 p.m. on May 16.

The village is just a few kilometers from the Oriental Hotel where the United Nations World Tourism Organization was holding a conference. (PNA) CMR/FGS/EMC/CBD

Fishkill hits 70% of Lake Bato’s fish cages
By John Mark Escandor

BATO, Camarines Sur, May 22 (PNA) -- Due to a sudden downpour after long sunny days and searing heat, fishkill has hit 70 percent of the fish cages of "tilapia" in Lake Bato, the municipal agriculture office here said on Wednesday.

Municipal Agriculture Officer Alejandro Pili said there are 18,770 fish cages of tilapia being grown in the 2,810-hectare Lake Buhi, which is being surrounded by three barangays of Libon, Albay, and 16 barangays of Bato, Camarines Sur.

Pili, however, could not give the exact value of the losses incurred by more than 200 fish cage owners in Lake Bato, saying they only have three personnel to cover and monitor the fishkill.

He said the peak of the fishkill was from May 7-10 even as, he said, it is continuing as of press time though the situation is gradually “normalizing.”

Pili said the cause of fishkill was oxygen depletion brought about by the result of decaying plankton submerged at the bottom of the lake when the downpour came.

He said the micro-organisms that break down the decaying plankton consumed much of the oxygen in the water, causing the depletion at the same time that ammonia dissolved in the water increased.

Pili said he had advised the fish cage owners to reduce fish stocks in every unit of fish cage from 2,500 to 1,200 as well as the feeding rate from 3-5 percent to 2.5 percent of the body weight of fish, or just feed the stock every other day, to ease the situation.

He said those affected by fishkill were of marketable sizes of 3-5 fingers.

Earlier on May 7, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) warned possible fishkill in the lakes in Buhi and Bato.

Dennis Del Socorro, BFAR regional director, said fishkill can occur in fish cages should there be sudden rains for two to three days from the hot weather being experienced now.

“The fishkill will occur because of sudden change in temperature in the waters of lakes Buhi and Bato,” Del Socorro explained.

He advised the operators of fish cages to harvest their fishes, especially those that had been stocked in January or those that are already ready for market.

Del Socorro said the fishes raised in fishponds will not be affected by the sudden change in temperature because they have control gates to adjust the water temperature. (PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD/

Solar halo appearing in Albay holds Bicolanos in awe but indicates inclement weather in coming days -- PAGASA (with photo)

LEGAZPI CITY, May 22 (PNA) -- Nature's beauty and wonder treated Bicolanos to a spectacular view when a rainbow encircling the sun caught the Bicolanos in awe and wonder on Thursday morning.

Ariel Zamudio, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather specialist, said it was a solar halo.

"A halo is formed because of the high clouds or like a cirrostratus cloud composed of high crystals and the rays of the sun hit these crystals, resulting in the refraction or bending of light and causing the formation of rainbow-like colors encircling the sun," Zamudio explained.

The weather expert said the solar halo was visible only in parts of the Bicol Region because of the cirrostratus clouds or high crystal.

He said he believes that this would be an indication of an inclement weather in the coming days.

In 2012, the same scenario was witnessed by the public wherein a spectacular phenomenon in the sky -- that of a blazing sun had a huge halo formed around it then after a month, there came a typhoon.

"This probably indicates bad weather but not necessarily means a typhoon; possibly it will cause rain but we cannot tell when," Zamudio added.

Meanwhile, the Albay Pubic Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) Monitoring Automatic Weather Station warns the public of the cumulonimbus clouds appearing around Legazpi City that can produce thunderstorms, sudden heavy rainfall, strong winds and lightning strikes that may reach up to 1 million volts of electricity.(PNA) FPV/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Green Climate Fund bares USD 36.68-M trust fund as of Q1 end, hopes to turn more pledges to cash
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, May 22 (PNA) -- The total amount of pledges and contributions to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Trust Fund amounted to USD 54.89 million (in dollar equivalent or USDeq.) as of March 31, 2014, representing an increase of USD 3 million since December 31, 2013, according to Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda, GCF co-chair for developing nations.

Quoting a financial report read during the seventh meeting of the GCF Board held on May 18-21 in Songdo, Republic of Korea, Salceda said that of this amount, USDeq. 36.68 million had been deposited in the GCF Trust Fund by 12 contributors with the World Bank (WB), which provides trustee services to the GCF on an interim basis.

The GCF Board meeting ended on Wednesday with important items of the agenda acted upon.

Among the items decided on were the initial modalities for the operation of the Fund’s mitigation and adaptation windows and its private sector facility; commencement of initial resource mobilization process; and trust fund financial report.

Given the urgency and seriousness of climate change, the purpose of the Fund is to make significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.

Salceda said that in the fight against climate change, there would be probably three major historic moments: in hierarchy, first would be the emission-reduction binding treaty to be forged in 2015; second would be the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund; and third would be the non-binding Kyoto Protocol which already expired.

“It makes me proud as a Filipino that I have been given the chance to steward the commencement of the GCF operations so that it could cushion and protect the poor from its impacts and help developing countries in contributing to low emission, climate-resilient development pathways. Together with my German co-chair, it was my honor as a Filipino and as a local government official to preside over this historic moment, to be in the driver's seat in making history, in making the world safe for children," the green economist said.

In this fight, he added, the community of nations has come together and received critical and timely interventions from civil society organizations, which enabled the process to move forward towards its completion.

“We are also challenged by the souls of our brethren who suffered the climate wrath of ‘Yolanda’ and ‘Reming’ and this has compelled us towards transformative pathways of growth. May God bless us in this noble undertaking,” Salceda said.

He said he is patting himself on the back for stewarding the GCF Board in completing the eight requirements so developed countries will not have the excuse in delivering on their US0-billion commitment.

“Very few expected that the newly composed board could do the job. In fact, it was seen as being short of a miracle. Fellow board members and CSOs watching the proceeding were unanimous in the savvy skillful and steady handling of the Filipino GCF chair,” said the GCF co-chair, the first Asean to occupy the position.

He said they hope to convert more pledges into cash contributions.

A pledge represents a contributor’s expression of intent to make a contribution and the pledges are converted to US dollar contributions by way of a Contribution Agreement/Arrangement signed by the contributor, the GCF, and the interim trustee.

Those who have pledged so far are Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

The pledges of Indonesia, Italy and Switzerland had not yet been entered in the records as these were still being revalued in terms of US dollar equivalent based on the exchange rates as of March 31, 2014.

Salceda said the Supplemental Contribution Amendments with Denmark, Japan and United Kingdom for contributions of DKK 3.6 million, USD 1 million and GBP 2.5 million, respectively, have been executed by the parties, while the balance of EUR 1 million of Germany’s total contribution was received during the first quarter.

The interim trustee continues to work with contributors to convert pledges into new contributions, and to receive payments into the GCF Trust Fund (Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland).

The 2014 first quarter report does not include financial information related to other trust funds outside the World Bank that may also support the GCF (e.g. at the UNFCCC Secretariat), or Supplemental Contribution Amendment to existing agreement/arrangement, or Funds Held in Trust that represents balance of cash, investments and unencashed promissory notes, if any, as of the reporting date.

As of March 31, 2014, the GCF Board has approved funding from the GCF Trust Fund totaling USD 54.82 million, in respect of administrative budgets of the GCF to support the activities of the GCF Board, secretariat and interim trustee; provided that funds would be committed and transferred by the interim trustee only to the extent that cash is available in the GCF Trust Fund.

Based on the funding decisions approved by the GCF Board, the Interim Trustee has transferred a total of USD 8.68 million up to March 31, 2014.

The Funds Held in Trust as of March 31, amounted to USD 28.06 million.

As of March 31, there were no resources available to support new GCF Board funding decisions.

Pending receipt of outstanding pledges of USD 14.04 million, the GCF Trust Fund would have USD 142,000 available to support additional GCF Board funding decisions. (PNA) FPV/FGS/CBD/

Legazpi gets second Seal of Good Housekeeping award
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, May 21 (PNA) -- For the second time, the city government of Legazpi was chosen by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as one of the recipients of the Seal Good Housekeeping 2012 awards, a citation giving official recognition to local government units for advancing the principles of accountability and transparency in local governance.

In 2011, the late former DILG secretary Jesse Robredo named Legazpi City as one of the winning local government units in the Seal of Good Housekeeping awards for excellently performing in the fields of local administrative, social, economic, environment and other forms of good governance that benefited both the community and the constituents.

Selection for the 2013 awards is still ongoing.

City Administrator Wilfredo Intia received the SGH award in behalf of Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal from DILG Bicol Officer-in-Charge Elouisa Pastor, who was assisted by Director Renato Solidum of the Department of Science and Technology and DOST Regional Director Tomas Briñas on Monday at the Avenue Plaza Hotel in Naga City.

Intia said the recognition was the result of honest and transparent governance shown by the Rosal administration with the full support of all the members of the Sangguniang Panlunsod and the department heads and city government employees.

He said this kind of award symbolizes the city administration’s rendering of judicious public service to uplift the lives of the people in the community by way of proper budget spending.

Aside from a trophy, Legazpi and the other awardee-cities will also receive Php 3 million each, provincial LGU winners will receive Php 7 million each and the municipal LGUs will receive Php 1 million each from DILG Secretary Mar Roxas anytime this month.

All second timer LGU-awardees were placed in the silver grade while the first timer were placed in the bronze grade categories.

The SGH was a brainchild program of Robredo in recognition of LGUs that perform exceptionally well in planning, budgeting, revenue mobilization, financial management, budget execution, procurement and resource mobilization.(PNA) LAM/FGS/EPS/CBD/

Bush fire razes 15-hectare of forest, grasslands along Mayon slope

LEGAZPI CITY, May 21 (PNA) --- A bush fire razed over 15 hectares of forest and grasslands along the slope of Mt. Mayon in Barangay Bonga, Legazpi City, from Tuesday afternoon up to early Wednesday morning.

City Fire Marshall Damian Rejano of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Legazpi said residents saw the fire at the lower slope of Mount Mayon at about 3 p.m. but BFP personnel were able to reach the village only at about 8 p.m.

Upon reaching the area, Rejano said firefighters were unable to get near the fire because of darkness and the area is too steep so they instead waited down slopes until the fire lasted.

Against the darkness, the fire seemed like a lava flow from a distance, according to some residents living two kilometers away from the fire.

On Wednesday morning, fire investigators and Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) personnel climbed the mountain.

In an interview, Forester Cesar Balderama said there was no indication of "kaingin" (slash-and-burn) activity that had resulted in the big fire.

“Most likely it was a man-made fire because we recovered improperly discarded cigarette butts that could have lit dry litter on the forest floor,” Balderama added.

CENRO Officer Marlon Francia also believed that farmers who cultivate the land carelessly threw away lighted cigarette butts.

"We cannot say that it is really a forest fire that resulted because of summer season but possibly because of farmers' cigarettes, that's why we reminded them to be careful," he said.

However, they said they have yet to make a report on the extent of the damage. (PNA) FPV/FGS/AMM/CBD/

UNWTO sec-gen brands Albay as gold standard in hosting treaty confabs
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, May 21 (PNA) -- "It will take years or decades to match the performance of Albay. The warmth, grace and beauty of the people are just as natural and God-given as Mayon Volcano. With its rich heritage and a culture of unity, Albay is now the gold standard in hosting treaty conferences."

This, according to Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda, was what Taleb Rifai, UNWTO secretary-general, told him frankly in front of many key UNWTO officials during a break from the hectic conference schedule of global tourism officials here.

Rifai, who is based in Madrid, Spain, presided over the two-day UNWTO-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change where the member-nations also took up the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.

“I see smiling faces and beautiful people among the Filipinos and the people are the country’s most important asset. Here in Albay you have beautiful people and beautiful places and your local officials are very supportive of tourism,” he said on a separate occasion, during the White Night dinner at the Misibis Bay Resort and Casino ’s beach front, where he was welcomed by Zaldy Co, a local business tycoon-philanthropist and owner of the posh resort.

Rifai, an environmentalist who holds a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degree from the University of Cairo, sees tourism as the key to peace, cooperation and economic growth.

It is for this reason that, he said, he is urging world leaders to open their country’s borders and skies so that people can travel from their place to other places, and this would in turn draw nations and the world’s different peoples closer.

Rifai sees tourism as a powerful force in the world, saying “I want billions of people to travel every year, going to other countries; this way, it would be an opportunity for people to be together, understand each other and promote their respective nations, thus, breaking the barriers that separate them.”

The tourism world leader sees Albay, in particular, and the Philippines, in general, as playing a pivotal role in the ASEAN region’s tourism industry because of cooperation and efforts being done by the local leaders and the people.

“I see Albay, with its awesome perfect cone-shaped Mayon, as a huge magnet for tourists where one sees beauty everywhere – in its people, culture and natural scenery,” Rifai, who has held the position of secretary general since January 1, 2010, said.

Reacting to Rifai’s comments, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said, “The rise of Albay as a tourism power in Asia Pacific is proof that all that a leader must do is to liberate the creative spirit of his people.”

“Anyway, that is all that he can. The rest follows. Therefore, it is nonsense to suggest just to please me that I cannot be replaced,” Salceda said.

It is people, he stressed, who fashion their own future and they will choose accordingly; nonetheless, they would be most cruel to anyone who would take them back to the bondage of hopelessness and negativity.

“It is the people not the leader,” said the green economist, who is also co-chair of the Korea-based Green Climate Fund, which is having it seventh board meeting now.

He claimed that one of the heads of the delegations told him that "all the girls in Albay are pretty. No one 'not pretty’."

Members of the 27-nation UNWTO were profuse in their praises to Albayanos, Salceda added. (PNA) FPV/FGS/CBD

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

UNWTO sec-gen cites PHL double-digit growth in international tourist arrivals despite disasters

LEGAZPI CITY, May 21 (PNA) -- Despite the devastating effects of natural disasters that had hit the country, the Philippines registered a 10-percent growth rate in international tourist arrivals last year, United Nations World Organization (UNWTO) Secretary- General Taleb Rifai said.

“Despite the calamity you have suffered, the performance of the Philippines is particularly noteworthy as international tourist arrivals registered a 10-percent growth while receipts increased by 15 percent,” Rifai said in an interview at the sidelights of the 26th United Nations World Organization (UNWTO) joint meeting of the Commission for East Asia and the Pacific (CAP) here which ended on Tuesday.

The Philippines is the 37th country in the world that joined and signed the “Global Code of Ethics for Tourism” during the signing held at The Oriental Hotel.

For 2014, the UNWTO forecasts international tourism to grow by 4 percent to 4.5 percent -- above its long-term forecast of 3.8-percent growth per year between 2010 and 2020, the UNWTO secretary general said.

“With its immense progress and expansion, tourism has become one of the main sectors of our societies and our economies – accounting for 9 percent of global gross domestic product, one in every 11 jobs and 6 percent of the total exports in the world,” he said.

Rifai said that in 2012, for the first time in history, more than one billion international tourists traveled the world in one single year, adding that by 2030 this number will reach 1.8 billion.

“One billion tourists can be one billion opportunities for sustainable development or one billion disasters. We need a coherent policy strategy to decouple the projected massive growth in tourism in the decades ahead from increased energy use and emissions,” he said.

A UNWTO research, the official said, shows that tourism accounts for five percent of global CO2 emissions -- with air transport accounting for three percent; accommodation, for one percent; and local transport and other activities, for around two percent.

On the other side, rising sea levels, coastal erosion and loss of biodiversity threaten the future of tourism, particularly in areas such as the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand -- all of which have been identified as hot spots most likely to be negatively affected by climate change.

“The debate about climate change is not a debate about planet and economy only; it is a debate about people. It is clear that for tourism, the paradigm between mitigation and adaptation and development is a key one,” Rifai said. (PNA) FPV/FGS/RBB/CBD/UTB

UNWTO delegates get a lot of ‘firsts’ from Legazpi experience (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 21 (PNA) -– Delegates to the six-day gathering of 32 nations hosted by this city for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) are taking home as they leave Wednesday so many “first of its kind” experiences and remarkable discoveries in this prime tourism destination called by the world’s travel industry as the “City of Fun and Adventure.”

The gathering, attended by about 400 tourism industry dignitaries, was for the 40th Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), Plus Three National Tourism Organizations; 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) UNWTO-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change.

The ASEAN conference was held from May 15 to 17; the UNWTO-CAP meeting on May 18; and the CSA-UNWTO-ASEAN conference, whose opening was graced by Philippine Pres. Benigno Aquino III, took place on May 19-20.

All assemblies were held at the plush Oriental Hotel and Resort here.

Among the most significant achievements of the triple conferences were the formulation and formalization of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET).

This code is a comprehensive set of principles designed to guide tourism development key players in helping government, travel industry and communities in maximizing the sectors’ benefits while minimizing its potential negative impact on the environment, cultural heritage and societies across the globe.

Signed by members and UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai last May 18, GCET has 10 principles that amply cover the economic, social, cultural and environmental components of travel and tourism.

Also done was an agreement on regional training sessions for hotel divisions where tourism professionals may find employment in other member-countries of the ASEAN National Tourism Organization.

The agreement came up in the special meeting of the ASEAN Tourism Professionals Monitoring Committee (ATPMC) held on May 15 where the establishment of the regional secretariat for the implementation of the mutual recognition agreement (MRA) on tourism professionals was also reached.

The MRA is aimed at facilitating mobility of tourism professionals within the region, fostering information exchange of best practices - especially in education and training - and providing opportunities for cooperation and capacity-building across ASEAN member-states.

During thematic discussions on air connectivity in the Asia-Pacific Region on Sunday, the UNWTO-CAP was also able to come up with a call on world leaders to open their country’s borders and skies so that people can freely travel places and draw nations and the world’s different peoples closer.

At the closing of the CSA-UNWTO-ASEAN conference on tourism and climate change on Tuesday, Rifai said all meetings held during the six-day gatherings “make us share and draw lessons from the experiences of fellow countries, tourism businesses and organizations represented on mitigation and adaption measures as well as on the impact of tourism on climate change and vice versa.”

All those that were achieved in the conferences here put the city in the history map of the world’s tourism industry that would serve as guide of present and future industry leaders toward more developments and benefits to the sector, he said.

It was not only that UNWTO-ASEAN was able to accomplish a lot in the triple meetings but also equally significant are the exciting experiences, “the firsts in our lives that we have gone through during our brief stay here,” Rifai said.

Upon his arrival at the Legazpi Domestic Airport last Saturday, Rifai was met by national and local officials and ushered to a tour of the Mt. Mayon Lava Front in Barangay Mabinit, a village of this city sitting at the foot of Mt. Mayon, the world’s most perfect cone-shaped volcano.

The tour ended at the Misibis Bay Resort and Casino in an island-village of the nearby Bacacay town where he was treated to White Night cocktails and dinner at a beach front hosted by Elizaldy Co, a local business tycoon-philanthropist and owner of the place.

Misibis Bay Resort is a tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach considered as a luxury island playground in the Philippines.

“Legazpi City Philippines will be a very memorable place for us. We experienced and discovered so many things here that we never did in other parts of the world,” Brunei Darrusalam’s Tourism Development Officer Affandi Alias said as he bade goodbye to City Mayor Noel Rosal who sent off the delegates at the city airport Wednesday.

Alias was among the delegates who made it to the “barrio fiesta” celebration dinner tendered at the Ligñon Hill Natural Park by Rosal on the second night of their stay on Friday where they were pampered with native dances, music and splendidly prepared local foods.

Ligñon Hill is a historic peak that stands 156-meter high and developed by the city government three years ago into one of the local prime destinations featuring a carefully-designed landscape that caters to restaurants and shops on its summit that offers a 360-degree view of Mayon Volcano and a very good view of the city as well, especially at night.

“The party was sensational. I have gone to too many places across the globe and it was only in this Philippine city that I enjoyed such kind of reception,” Alias said as he expressed his gratitude to Rosal at the end of the affair that lasted for four hours.

The food was very good, the entertainment was superb and the people and their officials are so hospitable, Sajidah Barahuddi, the head of Myanmar delegation, told the host city mayor.

After all, the ASEAN-UNWTO Legazpi assemblies have not been all focused on official businesses but also joy and great discoveries for the delegates.

In-between hectic conference schedules, the delegates were taken to technical tours around beautiful places and exciting sceneries here and nearby sites down Mt. Mayon -- like Ligñon Hill, Legazpi Boulevard, Cagsawa Ruins Park, Daraga Church and Legazpi Museum.

They were also made to experience ATV (all-terrain vehicle) rides along lava hills and stockpile of volcanic debris spewed by Mt. Mayon during past eruptions near the volcano’s foot.

While waiting for the flight back to Manila and home to Myanmar, Barahuddi told Rosal: “We do not want all these first experiences of Legazpi we got the last. We will surely be back even on our own to once more feel the coolness, feast on the beauty of the place and enjoy the hospitality of its people.” (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

Legazpi City aims to become one of the top 5 convention destinations in Luzon

LEGAZPI CITY, May 20 (PNA) -- Legazpi City is now targeting to be one of the top five convention destinations in Luzon after hosting big conventions recently, according to the Legazpi City Tourism Office.

Joan Jamisal, Legazpi City tourism officer, said that during the first quarter of the year, the city hosted almost 15 major conventions, including the latest big event of the United Nations World Tourism Organization which was graced by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III as guest speaker, together with other high-ranking officials from different countries.

"To be one of the top five convention destinations in Luzon in 2020 is our new vision," said Jamisal.

All stakeholders of Legazpi City have come up with a plan towards this goal, she added.

Starting January to May, the city has already hosted more than 11 major conventions of national and international organizations, aside from the ongoing UNWTO meetings.

"Aside from other tourist destinations, still the majestic Mayon Volcano makes for a great come-on," Jamisal added.

Jonathan Tourtellot of National Geographic, also a consultant specializing in sustainable tourism and destination stewardship, said that last 2013, Mayon Volcano was the big attraction in the whole world.

Recently, the Department of Tourism announced the city as one of the 14 top destinations in the country. (PNA) CTB/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Understanding hazards, resultant risks a must to achieve disaster resiliency

NAGA CITY, May 20 (PNA) -- For communities to achieve disaster resiliency, understanding of hazards and their resultant risks is a must, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario G. Montejo stressed on Monday.

Montejo was the keynote speaker during the launch of the "Science for Safer Communities" Campaign in Region 5 being held at the Avenue Plaza Hotel here starting Monday to Tuesday.

"Science for Safer Communities" is a nationwide campaign conducted by the DOST to help communities, through local government units, understand better the different disaster and climate risks with the use of science and technology.

The activity was made possible through the partnership of DOST with the Office of Civil Defense 5, Department of Interior and Local Government 5 and the city government of Naga under Mayor John G. Bongat, also chair of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

It was participated in by hundreds of key partners and stakeholders most of whom are local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers from the different LGUs in Region 5,

“Better understanding of hazards with the use of science-generated high definition hazard maps will enable communities to know better the response actions to be done in order to reduce the damaging impacts of disasters, Montejo said. (PNA) JBP/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

UNWTO sec-gen says tourism can be driver in fight vs. climate change
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, May 20 (PNA) -- Tourism is not only the biggest contributor to the world economy but also the driver in the fight against climate change, United Nations World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said during the opening of the joint UNWTO-ASEAN conference here on Monday.

Speaking before delegates of the 26th Joint meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia and, in the presence of President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Oriental Hotel here, Rifai said one of the most highly climate-sensitive economic sectors is tourism.

“Tourism -- given its huge economic and social value, its role in sustainable development and its relationship with climate -- can and should play a significant part in the fight against climate change. We need to advance our response to climate change if we are to have a successful and resilient tourism sector. Tourism can be a driver in the fight against climate change,” the UNWTO chief emphasized.

Rifai, a Jordanian national, flew in to Legazpi on Saturday to preside over the two-day international conferences.

He said many tourism destinations and operators are dependent on climate as their principal attraction -- sun-and-sea or winter sports holidays for example, or on environmental resources such as wildlife and biodiversity.

“Climate change poses an immense threat to sustainable development and poverty eradication,” he added.

Rifai said the UNWTO has been actively working to raise awareness on climate change issues in the tourism sector and integrating tourism into the United Nations’ and other international policy processes on climate change.

“Given that these resources are extremely sensitive to climate variability, a changing climate will have profound consequences on tourism flows and subsequently on the important contribution of tourism to poverty reduction and economic development, especially in developing countries,” he added.

On the global tourism outlook, Rifain said that with five-percent growth in both the number of tourists travelling the world and the volume of export earnings generated from international tourism, 2013 was undoubtedly an excellent year.

He said international tourist arrivals reached 1.087 million while the value generated by international tourism reached US$ 1.4 billion, or 30 percent of the world’s service exports.

Asia and the Pacific Region, according to him, was once again one of the star performers in international tourism.

With a six-percent rise in international tourist arrivals and a staggering eight-percent growth in receipts, the region further strengthened its position as a leader in the international tourism market.

“These are remarkable results, especially if we consider the ongoing economic and geopolitical challenges facing many countries around the world,” the UNWTO head pointed out.

The performance of the Philippines is particularly noteworthy, he said, as despite the calamity it has suffered, international tourist arrivals registered a 10-percent double-digit growth while receipts increased by 15 percent,” he said.

“As we look ahead, prospects remain rather positive. For 2014, UNWTO’s forecasts international tourism to grow by 4 percent to 4.5 percent -- well above our long-term forecast of 3.8-percent growth per year between 2010 and 2020,” Rifai said.

With its immense progress and expansion, he said, tourism has become one of the main sectors of the world’s societies and economies – accounting for nine percent of the global GDP, one in every 11 jobs and six percent of the total exports in the world.

These positive results, according to him, face important barriers to the growth and development of the tourism sector, which include complicated visa systems, unbalanced taxation, disjointed policies on tourism and aviation.

“But the major challenges facing today is the sustainability – the challenge of having tourism meeting the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and promoting opportunities for the future of promoting a model of tourism that is conceived as a way to manage all resources so that they can meet the economic, social and environmental needs while respecting the cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems.

“It is this overarching challenge that brings us together today,” Rifai claimed.

A UNWTO research shows that tourism accounts for 5 percent of global CO2 emissions with air transport accounting for 3 percent; accommodation for 1 percent; and local transport and other activities for around 2 percent.

On the other side, rising sea levels, coastal erosion, loss of biodiversity threaten the future of tourism, particularly in areas such as the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand -- all of which have been identified as hotspots most likely to be negatively affected by climate change.

UNWTO’s latest publication responding to Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific, which will be released shortly, revealed that this region is affected by 90 percent of global climate-related catastrophes, Rifai said

“Today we gather here to discuss how best can we respond to the call on the tourism sector to cut down on its greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to contribute in a decisive manner to economic growth and inclusive development. How best to make tourism a driver of sustainable development and the fight against climate change,” he said.

The conference, according to the UNWTO chief, is an ideal forum for them to share and draw lessons from the experiences of fellow countries, tourism businesses and organizations represented here on mitigation and adaption measures as well as on the impact of tourism on climate change and vice versa.

Three key issues will be taken seriously in the conference to address head on the effect of climate change, first, tourism relies on climate for its growth and development; second, tourism can be a driver in the fight against climate change; and third, the way forward: the focus on planet and people; and fourth, tourism relies on climate for its sustainable development .

“Mr President, dear friends, the way forward – the focus on the planet and on people. The debate about climate change is not a debate about planet and economy only: it is a debate about people. It is clear that for tourism, the paradigm between mitigation and adaptation and development is a key one,” Rifai said.(PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/

Albay likely to host 'Palarong Pambansa' before 2016 -- Salceda

LEGAZPI CITY, May 19 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Albay will soon bid to host the "Palarong Pambansa" (National Games) before year 2016.

“This is what I wish to achieve before my term ends,” said Governor Joey Sarte Salceda after his conversation with President Benigno S. Aquino III, who visited Legazpi City on Monday morning.

Salceda said he requested from the President at least P280 million for a chance to host the event by modernizing the sports facilities of the province.

"Ilang beses na po sana kaso hindi po kaya ng budget. Ayaw ko naman mangutang kasi ginagamit ‘yung pera for scholarships lalo na sa BU. Eh, mga P280 million po (For several times I have wanted to host it but our budget would not permit it. I don’t want to borrow because we need the money (for payment) for our scholarships, especially in the Bicol University. About P280 million only," Salceda said he told President Aquino.

He had a chance to talk to Aquino after the inauguration of the Bicol University Health Sciences Building Phases 1 and 2 and the launch of the MD-MPA Program in the university, where the President stressed the importance of education as one of the pillars of change.

According to the target list of the Department of Education (DepEd) of possible venues for the year 2015, the annual multi-level national scholastic athletic competition could be in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, Koronadal City, South Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, Butuan City, or Agusan del Norte -- all in Mindanao.

In 2016, Tuguegarao City in Cagayan, Lingayen in Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Pampanga, Bocaue in Bulacan – all in Luzon -- will possibly bid for the annual multi-sporting event.

The winning bidder is given the chance to host.

If Albay constructs new sports facilities that can accommodate the delegates of the 17 regions of the Philippines before 2016, the province will possibly host the national games after several years, Salceda said.

In 1974, the Bureau of Public Schools-Interscholastic Athletics Association Games or (BPISAA) was renamed "Palarong Pambansa."

It was the fifth BPISAA games in 1952 which Albay hosted, particularly in Legazpi City, while Naga City, Camarines Sur, hosted the event for almost four times. (PNA) LAM/FGS/AMM/CBD/UTB

Monday, May 19, 2014

President Aquino inaugurates Bicol University Health Sciences Building Phases 1 and 2

LEGAZPI CITY, May 19 (PNA) -- President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday led the inauguration of the Bicol University Health Sciences Building Phases 1 and 2 in Legazpi City, Albay as part of the government’s commitment to provide quality education for all Filipinos.The President also launched the Doctor of Medicine-Master in Public Administration (MD-MPA) Program.

In his speech, President Aquino said that education is one of the government’s top priorities.

“Malinaw po, edukasyon ang isa sa mga haligi ng ating agenda ng pagbabago. At bawat kuwadrado-pulgada ng gusaling ito ay kongkretong patunay sa panata nating iangat ang antas ng edukasyon sa bansa,” he said.

“Ito ang pangunahin nating paraan upang siguruhin na ang pera ng taumbayan ay bumabalik sa kanila—ipupunla at didiligan ng kaalaman, at magbubunga ng oportunidad at kabuhayan.”

The President said the university’s MD-MPA Program would provide students more opportunities.

“Balita ko, ito pa ang unang paaralan para sa medisina sa ilalim ng pangangasiwa ng gobyerno sa buong rehiyon ng Bicol. At ang bonus pa, may katambal itong isa pang kurso na Master in Public Administration,” he said.

“Malinaw po ang ating istratehiya: tinutugunan natin ang mga pangangailangan ng kasalukuyan, habang patuloy namang namumuhunan sa kinabukasan, sa pamamagitan ng mga proyektong talagang nanganganak ng oportunidad para sa ating mga kababayan.”

In his speech, the President cited some of the reforms initiated at the education sector, such as the instruction to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to identify low-performing schools to make sure that Filipino students are receiving better-quality education.

“Naging mahalagang hakbang po ito para masigurong ang perang inilalaan natin mula sa kaban ng bayan ay nagbubunga ng resulta, at hindi nawawaldas lamang,” he said.

He further said that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), CHED, and the Department of Education (DepEd) are working hand-in-hand to resolve the job-skills mismatch and to ensure that graduates have acquired the correct training for their chosen courses.

President Aquino reaffirmed the government’s continued support to the State Universities and Colleges.

“Makatwiran tayong nagkakaloob ng pondo para sa pagpapaunlad ng kanilang mga pasilidad, sa pagsusulong ng mataas na kalidad ng pagtuturo, at sa pagbibigay ng suportang pinansyal sa mga mag-aaral,” he said.

“Naniniwala po tayo: obligasyon ng ating State Universities and Colleges ang makaambag sa pag-unlad ng komunidad; marapat lamang bigyan ng karampatang insentibo ang mga nagpapakitang-gilas sa gawaing akademiko at serbisyo-publiko.”

President Aquino on Monday also addressed the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) – ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change here. (PNA) LGI/PND/UTB

Albayanos support move of 2 environmental groups on Makati Fiesta tobacco ad

LEGAZPI CITY, May 19 (PNA) -– Albayanos, led by the Smoke Free Albay Network (SFAN), on Monday hailed the move of two environmental groups scoring on Sunday what they called an advertising attempt by a tobacco firm that placed its product's logo on banderitas (flaglets) at a fiesta in Makati City.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) and the EcoWaste Coalition on Sunday said the move by Mighty Corp. was a "deceptive marketing practice" that violated the tobacco regulation law.

"Such evident breach of the tobacco advertising ban undermines our nation’s efforts to prevent tobacco use and addiction that is killing 10 Filipinos every hour. It is totally disgusting and unconscionable,” said pulmonologist and FCAP executive director Dr. Maricar Limpin.

The SFAN said Republic Act 9211, the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, bans outdoor advertising materials beginning July 1, 2007, except inside the premises of point-of-sale retail establishments.

EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero, meanwhile, said her group abhors this "blatant use of the barangay fiesta for tobacco advertising in residential streets that obviously seek to promote tobacco consumption by people of all ages and gender for increased sales.”

Albay Board Member Heriberto Borja, SFAN chairman, said Albayanos are fortunate that the province and its three cities and certain municipalities have ordinances banning smoking in public places and that business establishments are cooperating by supporting the ordinances and discouraging the putting up of advertising and promotional materials by cigarette companies.

Even provincial, city and municipal festivals have been supporting the anti-smoking campaign by strictly imposing the ordinance against smoking in public places. (PNA) FPV/FGS/AMM/CBD/UTB

Korea contributes 1.17-M tourist arrivals in PHL
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, May 19 (PNA) -- Koreans are the top contributor to tourism industry in the Philippines, with a total inbound market of 1.17 million tourists in 2013, according to the ASEAN National Tourism Organizations (NTOs).

Other ASEAN top contributor to the country's tourist arrivals is China, coming as fourth, with 426,352 tourist arrivals last year.

In the Bicol Region, Department of Tourism Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla said Korean nationals also recorded the highest tourist arrivals last year.

"We already have a comprehensive tourism package which has contributed to the influx of foreign visitors in the Bicol Region," Ravanilla said.

On the fourth day of the ASEAN NTOs meeting, the members agreed on the creation of an ASEAN Plus Three Tourism Crisis Communication Team and a joint market research programs to boost tourist arrivals in the region.

A familiarization for top media agencies from Japan, China and Korea is also set this year as an ASEAN promotion strategy.

The ASEAN NTOs, in a meeting with India's representative on tourism, formalized a sustainable tourism cooperation among the ASEAN countries in terms of tourism education, participation in the travel marts, marketing promotion, crisis communication, exchange of information pertaining to statistics and development strategies.

Myanmar Ministry of Tourism Director-General Tint Thwin said that through a friendly cooperation among tourism organizations in the region, the economic advantages of member-nations have been further enhanced. (PNA) LAM/FGS/MDR/CBD/EBP

PCG men rescue 7 passengers of 2 boats that collided off Tabaco City port

LEGAZPI CITY, May 19 (PNA) -- Seven passengers of two small motorized boats were saved by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) men after the vessels collided at about 7 p.m. on Sunday at the sea off Tabaco City port.

A police report identified those rescued as David Balingbing, 54, owner of one of the boats; Victor Bora, 24; Joy Bora, 22; Angeline Balingbing, 50; Michael Balingbing; Joseph Balingbing; and Mary Joy Balingbing, all residents of Purok 1, Visita, San Miguel Island, Tabaco City.

The other boat is owned by Roger Bernabe.

The report said some of the victims were going home to their village while the others were from the village going to the city when their boats collided.

The Coast Guard immediately responded and rescued the passengers who were thrown into the water.

The PCG has warned both boat owners and passengers not to sail out at night time to avoid similar accidents. (PNA) SCS/FGS/EMC/CBD/EBP

Albay rice farmers advance toward farm mechanization through DAR aid

LEGAZPI CITY, May 19 (PNA) -– Farmers in a remote Albay town are advancing toward modern rice farming through the recent grant of mechanized farm equipment by the regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The grant is under the common service facilities (CSFs) dispersal component of Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS), a DAR program under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III that aims to improve farm productivity and earning capabilities of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

This is in line with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform (CARPER).

The CSFs that the Agrarian Reform Community (ARC) in Barangay Kamanitohan, Manito, Albay, received during a recent simple turn-over rites at the town’s municipal hall were two units of hand tractors, two units of mechanical harvesters, two units of mechanical transplanter and a palay thresher, DAR Regional Director Luis Bueno Jr. on Monday said.

All items, which include 8,000 pieces of rice seedling tray and turned over to the farmer’s group called Kamanitohan ARC Irrigator’s Association (KARCIA), were placed at P3.4 million in total cost.

Manito, which is located in the southeastern coastal tip of Albay separated by high mountains from this city, is a fourth class municipality whose about 22,000 residents rely principally on farming and fishing for livelihood.

While it plays host to the operations of the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corporation (EDC) at the 125,000-hectare Bac-Man (Bacon-Manito) geothermal power field that straddles over the boundaries of Albay and Sorsogon, the municipality is considered the most under-developed locality in the province.

Apart from dispersal of CSFs, ARCESS, Bueno said, also provides ARBs a window for business, livelihood opportunities and economic growth.

It is under this intention that the equipment were granted to the KARCIA through a memorandum of understanding defining the policies governing its utilization by members and non-members by way of a rental system.

According to Romulo Britanico, DAR Albay Provincial Agrarian Reform Program officer, any rice farmer in the municipality can avail the service of the facilities under the rental system formulated by KARCIA, reviewed by the DAR and approved by the Manito local government unit (LGU).

The rental system makes the association an agri-enterprise that will help not only to improve farm productivity in the locality but also the ARBs’ earning capabilities, Britanico explained.

Before the grant of CSFs to the KARCIA, he said, a Community-Based Enterprise Organizer (CBEO) was deployed by DAR to guide the organization in creating a business plan and built its capacity in managing the equipment as a business unit.

Through ARCCESS, the DAR is seeing to it that ARBs are provided with assistance to sustain their livelihood by improving the organizational capacities of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) in agri-enterprise development, according to Bueno.

DAR interventions like this, he said, has been leading farm consolidations in Bicol and in turn contribute to better prices, improved net income and sustainable livelihood of land reform beneficiaries.

ARCCESS operates as a government-led inter-sectoral partnership participated in by state universities and colleges, civil society organizations and private institutions aimed at providing a range of services intended to improve the performance of ARBO’s agri-enterprise, access to markets and its ability to compete with other markets, Bueno explained.

This means that it is a convergence of the rural development agencies such as the DAR, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources with LGUs and non-government agencies into public-private partnerships toward ARC connectivity and enterprise support services, he said.

Under this program, the DAR identifies and organizes qualified farmer-beneficiaries and provide up to 90-percent premium subsidy taken from the CARPER fund and the remaining 10 per cent shouldered by the farmers as their equity.

So far, Bueno added, nearly 20 ARBOs in the six provinces of Bicol are now enjoying the benefits of ARCCESS—most of them rice and sugarcane farmers in Camarines Sur, cattle raisers in Masbate, abaca producers in Catanduanes and coconut and corn producers in Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Norte. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB