Thursday, August 28, 2014

Passenger boat sinks off Masbate; 8 passengers safe

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 27 (PNA) -- Eight persons were saved when the passenger boat they were riding in sank in the seas off Mandaon, Masbate, at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Saved were boat machinist Mona Asot Magalaman and his seven passengers who were not identified as of press time.

The victims came from Roxas City on board the boat marked "KIMDIN 1" and were bound for Mandaon.

Strong waves brought by the bad weather condition hit the boat but Magalaman was able to sound an SOS alarm immediately, prompting the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council of Mandaon to come to their rescue.

The rescued victims were brought to the Mandaon Rural Health Unit where they were treated.

The survivors were already sent home. (PNA) LGI/FGS/EMC/CBD

President Aquino attends to poor Bicol town's request for intervention to realize local solar power project

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 27 (PNA) – Pres. Benigno Aquino III has entertained the request for intervention of a poor town in the power-needy Bicol island-province of Catanduanes toward the realization of its solar power project.

In doing so, the President has directed National Electrification Administration (NEA) administrator Edith Bueno to look into it.

In her recent letter to Malacañang, town Mayor Salvacion Isuela of Camaroran, Catanduanes, informed Pres. Aquino of her local government unit’s plan to secure a loan amounting PHP130 million through the Department of Finance (DoF) to finance the project, which will be implemented in partnership with a South Korean renewable energy developer.

In a statement reaching the PNA here Wednesday, Isuela said she told the President in the letter that her administration has been “introduced by a company called Apple Korea to the newest technology of renewable energy generation by converting the light coming from the sun through a Grid-Tied Solar Power System with a generating capacity of one megawatt.”

The lady local chief executive said she told the President in the same letter that “we believe the adoption and construction of said solar power-generating system will accelerate economic development and prosperity not only in our municipality but also in the entire Catanduanes island.”

Being an area off Luzon Grid, the island-province relies for its electricity needs mainly on power distributed to its 45,000 member-consumers by the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative (Ficelco) that buys it from privately-owned generator sets contracted by the National Power Corp. (NPC).

These gensets, however, have been performing dismally due to high maintenance cost and unavailability of spare parts constantly plaguing the province with prolonged brownouts.

This power supply is augmented by the twin hydropower plants being operated by the Sunwest Water and Electricity Corp. (Suweco), a private renewable energy developer and another hydro plant being maintained by the NPC.

These hydropower facilities have also been performing poorly due to low water level, especially during summer.

It can be recalled that Pres. Aquino has approved the release of Php 200 million from the national government’s Development Acceleration Program (DAP) in 2012 for the upgrading of the island province’s power supply facilities.

Now, the project, which includes installation of transmission lines and power substations, is ongoing implementation for the purpose of energizing sitios which, since electricity was introduced in the province, have been left groping in the dark.

Observers say that the project, expected to be completed this year, would greatly improve the reliability of electric service in the province.

In her statement, Isuela said the local legislative council or Sangguniang Bayan (SB) approved the solar power project and has authorized her to enter into negotiations in behalf of the municipality for the Php1 30-million loan.

Some PHP100 million of the total amount will be allocated to the installation of the solar power facility and the rest—PHP 30 million -- for the acquisition of the two-hectare lot where the facility will be established, she said.

“I submitted the loan documents to the DoF last month and I was assured by the department that it would be approved the earliest as possible as per advice of the President,” she said.

Isuela said the help she asked from Pres. Aquino is for the expeditious execution of a power sales agreement (PSA) between the Caramoran LGU and Ficelco so that the former is assured of generating proceeds for loan servicing and recovery of investment.

Caramoran is a third-class municipality and largest among the 11 towns of Catanduanes, with its 25,240 territorial land covering 27 barangays occupied by about 30,000 people-- mostly farmers and fisher folk.

The municipality lies along the northern coastal tip of the province, nearly100 kilometers from Virac, the provincial capital.

It has an average annual income amounting to some PHP 61 million, about 97 percent of which coming from its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and the rest from locally generated revenues.

The municipality boasts of a wide ecotourism potential with its white-sand beaches and clean coastal water, particularly in Palumbanes Island -- a leisure fishing, diving and snorkeling haven.

Under a proposed PSA, Isuela explained, power generated by the solar facility will be sold to the cooperative in a meter-based scheme at the prevailing market price.

“I informed Pres. Aquino in my letter that I already made an offer to Ficelco through an official letter addressed to its general-manager saying that under the LGU’s tariff threshold proposal, the solar energy will cost either Php 8.65 per kilowatt hour (kWh) subject to increase without prior notice, depending on the inflationary rate, exchange rate and market force,” Isuela said

Other options in the PSA, she added, are PHP 9 per kWh fixed for 10 years; or, a combined offsetting and exporting, with onsite loads to be supplied first and the excess power exported.

The lady mayor said she was informed lately by Bueno that as a preliminary action taken concerning Pres. Aquino’s directive addressed to NEA, she (Bueno), in a letter had asked Ficelco general-manager Samuel Laynes to comment on her request.

Laynes reportedly has not acted on it as of this week as he is yet to determine whether the project is viable based on its technical details. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Legazpi City nutrition program 1st runner-up in NNC tilt

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 27 (PNA) -- The Legazpi City Nutrition Office was named by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) as 1st runner-up in the City Level Category in the search for 2013 Outstanding City of the Region during the Regional Nutrition awarding ceremony Wednesday at the La Piazza Hotel Convention Center.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal, City Administrator Wilfredo “Pecos” Intia, City Health Officer Dr. Fulbert Gillego, City Nutrition Officer Natividad Cardel and the members of the City Nutrition Committee received the award from Department of Health (DOH) Bicol Regional Director Gloria Balboa and Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator Arlene R. Reario.

The cities of Iriga and Tabaco were named by the NCC as the Green Banner Awardee and 2nd runner-up, respectively.

Naga City got the merit award for sustained, efficient and effective implementation of 2013 Nutrition Program.

In Barangay Category, Napoleon Cardel, barangay captain of Binanuahan East of this city and his 10 other members of the Barangay Nutrition Committee also received an award from the NNC as one of the 2013 top performing barangays in the Bicol Region.

Merly B. Lopez of the same village also received cash award as one of the Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholars (OBNS).

The recognition was based on the study conducted by the Regional Nutrition Evaluation Team on the implementation of the city’s nutrition program such as Sagip Kalusugan, Promotion of Healthy Lifestyle, and Good Nutrition where Legazpi City Nutrition Office got an average rating of 90.15 percent -- the highest average of this city since 2006.

The activity aims to recognize outstanding local nutrition committees of the province, cities, municipalities, barangays and outstanding barangay nutrition scholars, who continue to effectively and efficiently manage their nutrition programs at their own respective localities.

Natividad Cardel said that based on her record, in 2011, Legazpi City posted 2,190 or 8.41 percent identified malnourished children in 2012,

It improved the record down to 1,975 or 7.71 percent and in 2013, the identified malnourished children were reduced to only 1,754 or 6.93 percent.

This satisfactory rating was the result of the aggressive implementation of the city’s Sagip Kalusugan Program, creation of the breast feeding support group and intensification of mothers class in the 70 villages of this city.

The 6.93-percent malnourished prevalence record of the City’s Nutrition Office is lower than the 19.2 percent recorded malnourished prevalence rate by the National Nutrition Survey.

Cardel explained that her office through Sagip Kalusugan program has regularly conducted medical and dental check-up to all the children in the entire city, laboratory examinations, chest X-rays, de-worming and vitamins supplementation.

In the implementation of the breast-feeding support, the city nutrition officer said her office has encouraged all the mothers to exclusively breast feed the infants and children from zero to six months.

Under the Intensify Mothers Class, Cardel revealed that her office has conducted a regular nutrition education program among all the mothers in the 70 villages of this city as part of the promotion of the nutrition guidelines by way of informing and educating them on how to apply the proper way of breast feeding, responsible parenthood, and maternal and child health care.

She disclosed that she regularly holds “Operation Timbang” among pre-school children to monitor their weights. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EPS/CBD/UTB

Albay asked to lead AlMaSor booth in 25th Philippine Travel Mart
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 22 (PNA) -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) – Bicol has asked the Provincial Government of Albay, through Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, to lead the AlMaSor Pavilion in this year’s edition of the Philippine Travel Mart at the SMX Convention Center on Sept. 5.

In a letter sent by DOT Regional Director Maria O. Ravanilla, the DOT-Bicol requested the PGA to be the lead agency in this endeavor and manage the AlMaSor Pavilion information counter to cater to guests making inquiries about the three provinces during the three-day event.

AlMaSor is a collaborative tourism promotion effort of the provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon.

It has recently been making waves in the local tourism industry as well as in the international tourism market ever since this brainchild of Salceda was set into motion.

Aside from the tourism officers and employees from the PGA, the DOT-Bicol has also invited DOT-accredited tour operators from the AlMaSor area to help market and sell Bicol tour packages, particularly those that highlight Albay and AlMaSor destinations.

This year’s Travel Mart is the 25th rendition of the yearly event, marking its silver anniversary and making it the longest-running travel trade exhibition in the Philippines.

It is also regarded as the biggest travel trade exhibition in the promotion and marketing of domestic and inbound tourism in the country.

To mark this significant milestone, the Philippine Tour Operators Association -- the biggest association of tour operators and agencies that promote exclusively domestic and inbound tourism, as operators and organizer, promised that the 25th Philippine Travel Mart will be the biggest and most meaningful staging of the event."(PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD/

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

DOST- Bicol trains 10 jail officers, 30 inmates in vinegar, nata de coco making
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) -- Ten regional and provincial officers of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and 30 resident inmates are now ready to make vinegar and nata de coco either for their families' use or for business purposes.

This, after they learned the processes of making the products in a recent Skills Training on Vinegar and Nata de Coco Making jointly sponsored by the BJMP and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Bicol region office.

The training was conducted by Cristopher G. Millena, science research specialist II, and product specialists Vanessa SM. Caluza and Aubrey Rosebud R. Balonzo, who discussed the formulations and procedures in vinegar and nata de coco making.

The three lecturers also stressed the use of other indigenous sources as well as food safety and good manufacturing processes that will result in quality products.

BJMP Regional Director Ignacio S. Panti said the conduct of this activity is in line with BJMP’s therapeutic community services.

Meanwhile, in support of the programs and services of the Cathedral Parish Credit Cooperative (CPCC), one of the top performing credit cooperatives in the region, the DOST Bicol also conducted earlier a training on food processing and preservation for 20 senior citizens and retirees in the CPCC office at the Albay Cathedral Compound, Legazpi City.

The activity also formed part of the Nutrition Month Celebration in the region.

Fae B. Bajamundi, DOST science research specialist II, lectured and demonstrated on the following technologies: 1) tomato processing (jam and preserve), 2) squash processing (puree and catsup) and 3) onion preserve.

CPCC has Aurora V. N. Lucena as board chair and Nerisa Dolot as coop manager.

Dolot said they envision more members to engage themselves in productive endeavors through technology adoption/enterprise development.

Moreover, CPCC also encourages that loan applications be intended for the establishment/expansion of micro and small enterprises of cooperative members in the City of Legazpi and Province of Albay.

DOST V Director Tomas B. Briñas said their agency is committed to deliver S&T services that will benefit and improve the lives of Bicolanos -- especially the poor, displaced and low-income group -- to attain regional development.(PNA) LAM/FGS/EPS/CBD/

Legazpi water distributor cites extreme weather condition, busted transformer for water supply lack

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) -- Some residents of Legazpi City will experience insufficient water supply this week, a top official of the Legazpi City Water District said.

LCWD spokesman Richard Atun said Philippine Hydro Inc. (PhilHydro), the bulk water supplier to LCWD, recorded a decrease in water supply due to extreme weather condition, aside from the busting of its electric transformer being used in the operation.

Atun said they expect the installation of a new transformer on Wednesday, which he hopes will bring back the normal operation of the water agency.

He said the decrease of water level started since summer season but became worst this week.

Atun said unstable flow of water leads to insufficient and unclean water distribution.

"Because of the intermittent supply, more residues have been formed in pipelines that lead to unclean water supply which is unfit for drinking. This can be solved if the supply will be continuous, aside from the effort of Phil-Hydro to install reverse osmosis system which will be used to filter water," the LCWD spokesman added.

Atun asked for the patience of Legazpenos for this temporary inconvenience.

Phil-Hydro's water supply comes from a developed spring source located at the boundary of Barangay Pawa and Barangay Bogtong, aside from wells in villages of Bogṅa and Mabinit and spring in Barangay Buyuan, both in the northern part of the city.

Atun said that in normal days, the water district distributes almost 200 cubic meters in a day but this week, it decreases up to 120 cubic meters only -- which is distributed to 21,000 consumers in 52 of 70 villages in Legazpi City.

Legazpi City is divided into four water areas; the Albay District, Legazpi Port District (commercial area), southern (upland) area and northern area where sources of water are.

Water supply is still limited in Albay District, Legazpi Port and part of southern area. On Wednesday last week, Atun said, the situation worsened -- reason why they started "valving" the pipelines to equally distribute water.

Valving refers to closing the pipe partially to control the flow of water into other lines.

Valving areas are at the Bogtong area to divide supply of water to reach Albay District and at Barangay Dita area to supply water to the city commercial area.

Legazpi water was declared not potable by former Mayor Geraldine Rosal last year 2011 after the University of the Philippines Natural Sciences and Research Institute (UP-NSRI) study showed that it does not conform with the Philippine National Standard for drinking water because of high level of total dissolved solids (TDS), indicating not fit for drinking and that resulted in the revocation of the business permit of Phil-Hydro.

Maynilad took over the operations of PhilHydro in October 2012.(PNA) FPV/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Saturday, August 23, 2014

DA embarks on enhancing pili production in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 22 (PNA) –- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol regional office is embarking on the enhancement of production of pili nut, the region’s source of prime and indigenous delicacy that has been winning a competitive niche in the world market.

“We have been distributing thousands of pili seedlings for free to farmers all over the region as we embark on the expansion of local pili nut production, which has a great potential for development as a major export crop,” DA Regional Director Abelardo Bragas said in a statement reaching the PNA here Friday.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala would even participate in the distribution process every time he holds sorties in the region—the latest of which were for the “Bicol Rehabilitation Assistance for Glenda—Agriculture Sector,” DA’s quick response to provide immediate assistance to farmers and fisherfolk in provinces hardly hit by the typhoon last July 15, Bragas said.

For Camarines Sur alone, the recent distribution spearheaded by Alcala involved 18,500 pieces of pili seedlings given to farmers affected by the typhoon.

Almost the same number has also been distributed earlier to each of Sorsogon and Albay, also in occasions attended by the DA secretary, he said.

Apart from pili seedlings millions of pesos worth of farming inputs, implements, farm animals and facilities have also been distributed under this rehabilitation response, Bragas said.

There have been over 80,400 farmers across the region affected by typhoon "Glenda" that left around Php 3.9 billion-worth of damages to crops in Bicol.

“We in the DA Regional Field Unit (RFU) want these farmers and all the rest, including landowners in the region, to plant and grow more pili trees as another source of good income and Sec. Alcala have been doing his share in promoting it by way of talking with them as well as local pili nut processors on how to improve the industry,” Bragas said.

Apart from the attractiveness of pili nut’s products to the world market, he said, pili is another tree of life in Bicol -- next to coconut -- with all its parts being useful.

The resin (elemi), which is extracted from its bark, is a known export product of the country for many years.

It has both pharmaceutical and industrial uses -- being ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks.

DA records shows that for many years, the Philippines has been exporting resin or Brea (Manila elimi) to the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Cuba, China, Hongkong and Japan.

The kernel, when roasted and ground, is used as ingredients here and abroad for ice cream, salads, puddings, toppings for cakes, bread, pastries, confectioneries and other delicacies like marzipan, fruit-cereal bar and fruit and nut mixed chocolate.

Rich in micronutrients -- such as magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, thiamine and niacin -- it can be eaten raw or processed as roasted, fixated or sugar-coated and is served in the same way as cashew or almond, or peanuts.

Scientific studies conducted by the country’s top institutions dedicated to pili research, and replicated by studies abroad, according to Bragas, have confirmed the nut’s impressive nutritional content, being high in thiamin, magnesium and phosphorus.

As Bicol’s top product next to coconut, the pili nut has rightfully became a luxury food item -- one of the finest gifts of the Philippine tropics to the world.

It is a versatile gourmet treat, lending a distinct flavor and taste to many culinary fares.

At present, Sorsogon is the largest pili producer in Bicol, followed by Albay and Camarines Sur.

“We want all the other three provinces of the region—Catanduanes, Masbate and Camarines Norte -- to get involved in this enhancement program,” Bragas stressed. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cayetanos’ scholarship bill enlivens Bicolano youth’s college dream (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

CASTILLA, Sorsogon, Aug. 19 (PNA) – A consistent class topnotcher since her elementary grades, 16-year-old Babaylyn Barrios will be graduating from the public high school here next year with a gloomy prospect of getting into college because of poverty.

She also dreams of going to college but her mother—a widow for five years now and whose measly earnings from farming is barely enough for the immediate daily needs of the family—cannot afford it.

It’s a painful fact but like most of the thousands of Bicolano teenagers now in rural high schools, she has already admitted that college would not be possible for her after high school.

“Yes, I admit that I cannot go to college under our present economic situation but I am not giving up my dream of becoming a teacher someday, somehow. I want to take a path that is different from my peers’,” Barrios said after getting a glimpse of the works where high school graduates ahead of her have ended in.

Most of the boys are jobless and the girls—some of them house maids and several are dancers in Manila cabarets or elsewhere.

Others are tempted into early marriage and end up poorer with many unwelcomed kids, she lamented.

Barrios said she cannot give up her dream, especially now that her hope has been enliven by a legislative measure recently filed jointly by Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano that hopefully will be enacted soon to grant scholarships to top public high school graduates and compulsory admission to state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Alan Peter is chairman of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture and Pia, of the committee on finance.

Senate Bill No. 2275 or Iskolar ng Bayan Bill, when passed into law, will mandate SUCs to annually give outright admission and scholarship privilege to public high schools graduates who belong to the top 10 of their respective classes.

It will cover all SUCs, except the University of the Philippines because of its institutional autonomy as the national university under Republic Act No. 9500 or the "University of the Philippines Charter of 2008"; “provided, that the University shall come up with its own scholarship programs for the Top 10 students from public high schools.”

The likes of Barrios, who certainly will graduate next year with the top 10 based on his impressive scholastic records, will be among the over 6,000 graduates from 653 public high schools across the Bicol region.

Nationwide, there are 7,913 public secondary schools operating as of this school-year 2014-2015 from where 79,130 would qualify to the grant.

In its Declaration of Policy, the bill said the “State is mandated to increase access to quality education to alleviate poverty and promote the intellectual well-being of the youth. It shall likewise give priority to measures that reduce social and economic inequalities. As such, it is the policy of the State to democratize access to education at the tertiary level and make higher education available to underprivileged but deserving students.”

The scholarship grants, it said, will be in the form of free tuition fee and other school fees to the Iskolar ng Bayan in all SUCs; reasonable textbook allowance per academic year as may be determined by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) based on annual inflationary rates; and reasonable monthly living allowance based on the cost of living as determined by National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for full scholarship.

“This is one issue we could all agree on, no matter what political color you carry. That access to quality education is a right, not a privilege, even in the tertiary level. Let us provide Filipino families, especially the poor, the kind of education that would lift them up from poverty,” Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement reaching here Tuesday.

The bill has been approved on third reading by the Senate and has recently hurdle the appropriations committee in the House of Representatives.

“This is roughly 79,000 students who are sure of going to college if this measure becomes a law. It would mean over 79,000 poor Filipino family members who would be given the chance of waking up to a better future,” he said.

Cayetano said the enactment of this measure becomes particularly important now that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has been abolished by Congress, leaving some 400,000 scholars on their own to fend for their schooling.

“I wish and I deeply pray that this bill is enacted without hitches and delay. I am now pinning my last hope on it for me to realize my dream of going to college and be able to liberate my family from the bondage of poverty later,” Barrios said as she expressed gratitude to the Cayetanos. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Albay board OKs ordinance limiting use of ambulances

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay approved Monday an ordinance aimed at curbing blatant and frequent misuse of government ambulances, intended to be utilized for sick constituents.

Entitled “Regulating the Use of All Government Ambulances in the Province of Albay, and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof,” the ordinance is authored by 3rd District Board Member Rhederick N. Riva from Oas, and co-authored by 3rd District Board Member Herbert S. Borja from Polangui.

It aims to make government ambulances readily available to transport the seriously sick and injured patients requiring immediate medical treatment to or from a facility to another that is sufficiently equipped to handle the matter and save lives.

The legislation states that it has been observed that in many instances, government ambulances have been gravely misused, to the detriment of the public, whereas said vehicles have been seen in recreational areas where they have no business being there.

"There were cases where fees have been collected for their use, defeating the very purpose they were purchased for," Riva said.

According to the ordinance, it is unlawful for public officials or employees to use government ambulances for personal use or as an office service vehicle and it shall also be unlawful to use these vehicles for transporting patients deemed not in a medical emergency situation.

Whether with fees or not, government ambulances cannot be used for private purposes but government officials or employees shall not refuse the use of any government ambulance by patients who cannot pay fees, nor should there be any deprivation of use to any individual due to their gender, religious beliefs, economic status, or political affiliations; and government ambulances cannot be used to transport cadavers.

"There are exceptions though given to the use of government ambulances in non-emergency situations and these include the use of the vehicles in official and authorized medical outreach missions and other hospital services and operations related to medical missions, delivery of medicines and other medical supplies," Riva explained.

Public officials or employees caught violating this ordinance shall be penalized, after due process, with a P1,000 fine, and or imprisonment of one month for the first offense.

Second offense entails a fine of P2,500 and or six months of imprisonment; and being caught for a third time will result in a fine of P5,000 and or imprisonment of one year, without any prejudice to the filing of appropriate administrative charges. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Legazpi wins Galing Pook award
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 18 (PNA) -– Recognizing its excellence in local governance, the Galing Pook Foundation has adjudged this city as one of the 10 winners of this year’s Galing Pook Awards.

“The panelists of Galing Pook Awards have unanimously chosen your presentation as one of the 10 Galing Pook awardees for 2014. Congratulations for a job well done in your city. See you in Malacañang (for the awarding) on Oct. 21,” Dr. Eddie Dorotan, the foundation’s executive director and awards chairman, said in text message received by Mayor Noel Rosal over the weekend.

Interviewed on Monday, Rosal told the PNA here that his administration’s public-private partnership (PPP) undertakings that have been proven effective in the implementation of high-end development projects in the city was the program he presented and won the Galing Pook Awards.

His administration’s flagship project implemented through PPP, Rosal said, is the Legazpi Central Grand Terminal, a P300-million deal which was completed without the local government spending even a single centavo as it is being done under the build-operate and transfer scheme.

Located in a 3.9-hectare prime site owned by the city government, the facility -- developed by LKY Development Corp. and whose construction was completed in 2009 -- now serves as an integrated bus and other public utility vehicles terminal serving as the major transit point of the city.

The terminal has grown into one of the country’s best terminals, being a big boost to the local tourism industry and, together with the newly renovated Ibalong Centrum for Recreation (ICR), the site has also been developed into a central core for leisure and recreation.

The development within the terminal complex of a premier destination mall to serve as the main anchor for the development that would attract increased foot traffic and provide with a place where people can congregate and spend time together is now in the blueprint, also under the PPP scheme, Rosal said.

The centrality of the development of this project and its comprehensive and intrinsic integration of functions created a major destination point that rivals most developments in the region as its unique character and vast scope create myriad opportunities for growth and economic progress, he said.

Rosal said the PPP program won for the city the Galing Pook Award under the Ten Outstanding Local Governance Programs as it was able to show positive results and impact, promotion of people's participation and empowerment, innovation, transferability and sustainability, and efficiency of service delivery.

“This Galing Pook Award would further give rise to a relatively young and dynamically growing demography of the city and demonstrates the determined and persevering character of Legazpeños as they live under the shadow of Mayon Volcano,” Rosal said.

Galing Pook traces its beginnings in 1993. The Awards Program was a joint initiative of the Local Government Academy–Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Ford Foundation and other individual advocates of good governance from the academe, civil society and the government.

The Asian Institute of Management administered the awards program until 2000; however, the Galing Pook Foundation was formally established as a private awards giving body in 1998 to sustain the Awards Program.

In its almost two decades of existence, Galing Pook has become a leading resource institution continuously promoting innovation and excellence in local governance.

It proactively searches and recognizes best local government practices and facilitates their adoption in more communities in the country. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Escaped prisoner seriously wounded in shootout with arresting jail guards

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 18 (PNA) -– A prisoner who had earlier escaped from the Masbate Provincial Jail was seriously wounded while his companion was caught when they resisted arrest and engaged arresting jail guards in a shootout at their hideout in Sitio Camila, Barangay Baang, Mobo, Masbate, on Monday morning.

A police report identified the wounded escapee, who is now being treated and under heavy guard at the Masbate Provincial Hospital, as Arnold Sampaga, 26 and single, and his companion as Randy Ramos, 24 and single – both prisoners of the Masbate Provincial Jail who escaped last week.

The report said provincial jail guards led Jail Officer Artemio Ibanes got a tip that the suspects were in their target area and swooped at the identified residence at about 10:00 a.m.

Armed with a .45-caliber pistol, Sampaga, however, slugged it out with the jail guards and got shot at his chest and body.

Upon seeing the futility of resisting, Ramos surrendered to the jail guards and was returned to his cell where he is detained for a murder case with Sampaga.

Sampaga and Ramos had been a subject of a manhunt launched by jail authorities immediately after they escaped from detention.

Ibanes thanked residents who had tipped them off on the location of the two prisoners. (PNA) FPV/FGS/EMC/CBD/UTB

Albay prepares for Mayon ‘big bang’

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 18 (PNA) -– The present condition of Mt. Mayon may lead to a big explosion, Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) resident volcanologist said Monday.

Laguerta issued the statement during the Mayon condition assessment meeting led by Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda and attended by officials of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) and local government unit executives at the AECID conference room of the APSEMO building here.

Laguerta said it has been four years now since the volcano last erupted in 2009.

He said in the past, Mayon usually erupted within an interval of 7-12 years. Its recent eruptions, however, occurred within an interval of just 3-6 years, he added.

The veteran volcanologist cited as an example the eruptions in 1993, 1999, 2001, 2006 and 2009.

Laguerta stressed the importance of close monitoring of the activities of Mayon physically and through the Phivolcs' various instruments on the geophysical, geochemical and geodetic aspects of the volcano.

The geodetic aspect refers to the shape of the volcano – and, he said, the volcano is inflated.

The geochemical behavior of Mayon, Laguerta said, refers to the volume of sulphur oxide (SO2) it spews, whose baseline is 500 metric tons per day.

He said the present volume of SO2 being vomited by Mayon reaches at least a thousand metric tons; while the geophysical aspect touches on the movement of magma inside the volcano.

The Phivolcs official said the lava dome that has formed on the mouth of Mayon reaches up to 30-50 meters high.

“Definitely, Mayon will explode though we cannot tell when,” he said, adding “It might be in the next few days, weeks, months or one year.”

Laguerta, however, assured that if ever Mayon erupts, it would not be sudden and it will be recorded by the instruments and be evident through the physical appearance of the volcano.

He said the first risk that will be brought by volcano would be ash puffs, followed by ash falls -- and these will not have signs or precursors.

He said the big eruption of the volcano will be magmatic, wherein there will be voluminous pyroclastic flows like in the 1984 eruption.

Laguerta said it has been 13 years since Mayon last erupted in 2001 when there was pyroclastic flow.

It was a lava flow in 2006 and 2009.

Jun Dalida, deputy administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, noted the increase in temperature in Legazpi City.

Dalida said the normal temperature in the city is only 32 degrees Celsius but it has now reached 34.2 degrees Celsius.

In this connection, Salceda discussed with the officials present the measures to be undertaken by the province based on the recommendations of the Phivolcs.

Salceda underscored the need for a massive information drive or communication with the public on the situation of the volcano.

The governor also stressed the need to bring to evacuation centers those who live within the six-kilometer-radius permanent danger zone.

He said the National Housing Authority was not able to fund their proposed relocation homes.

These include the 733 families in Camalig, 19 in Guinobatan and 3,222 families in Tabaco City. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/UTB

PDEA-Bicol seizes shabu, gun in CamSur raid

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 17 (PNA) – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Bicol has intensified its drive against illegal drugs in the region, netting another suspected drug pusher in Camarines Sur who yielded 52.59 grams of shabu worth Php 300,000.

PDEA Bicol Regional Director Archie A. Grande said Sunday that a report submitted by PDEA Camarines Sur Provincial Officer Agent Noe. S. Briguel disclosed that combined law enforcement operatives raided and arrested Nicanor A. Belleca alias Niknik in his residence in Barangay San Isidro, Tinambac, Camarines Sur.

The joint elements of PDEA, Camarines Sur Provincial Police Intelligence Service, Regional Public Safety Office Group and Tinambac police arrested Belleca at about 6:30 p.m. and seized from him eight heat-sealed plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance they suspect to be “shabu.”

Grande said the raiding law enforcers were armed with Search Warrant No. 14-065 issued by Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Pedro M. Redoña of RTC Calabanga.

The raiding team also confiscated a coin purse, a grey belt bag and .45-caliber pistol from Belleca.

Belleca is now under the custody of the PDEA Camarines Sur Office pending inquest proceedings. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/ssc

Salceda orders inventory of evacuation shelters as Mt. Mayon’s restiveness intensifies
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 17 (PNA) -- As the restiveness of Mt. Mayon continues to intensify due to magma buildup, Albay Governor Joey Salceda has ordered an inventory of school classrooms that could be used as evacuation camps of tens of thousands of Albayanos should the volcano explode.

Salceda's directive to local government units came two days after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert warning status of Mt. Mayon from Level 1 to Level 2 due to the abnormal activities of the volcano.

The governor wants local officials across the province to assess the classrooms, water, toilet facilities -- including solid and liquid waste disposal system, communal kitchen, medical station with provision for normal spontaneous delivery, breast-feeding corner and recreational space to ensure the comfortable condition of the evacuees in times of natural calamity.

He also reactivated the health emergency teams (HETs) to be dispatched to the different local government units to be affected by the Mayon volcano eruption.

The HETs are composed of rapid health assessment team, medical team, SPEED team, mental health and psychosocial team, nutrition team, and health promotion team and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) team.

He also alerted the ALbay HEMS emergency officers on duty at the Albay Operation Center at this early so that all disaster responders will be in place before the possible hazardous explosion of Mayon volcano.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, reported increasing volcanic gas emissions and slight but persistent swelling due to the intrusion of magma beneath the volcano while sulfur dioxide emission posts an average of 850 tons per day, higher than the normal 500 tons per day, for the past two months now. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/rsm

Popcom-Bicol holds forum on young adult fertility study

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) -– The Commission on Population Bicol regional office will hold a half-day Regional Dissemination Forum on the Results of the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS) at 1:00-5:00 p.m. Aug. 18 at Fiesta Ballroom, Central City Subdivision, Tahao Road, Legazpi City.

The YAFS is the 4th in a series of nationwide surveys on the Filipino youth, conducted since 1982 by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation.

It is one of the primary sources of information on sexual and non-sexual risk behaviors and their determinants at the national and regional levels.

The UPPI team itself will be coming over to present the results, according to Magdalena G. Abellera, PopCom Bicol regional director.

Abellera said YAFS covers a wide range of topics that are relevant to the youth such as education trajectories, labor force participation, relationships and roles in society, values and attitudes, in addition to the risk behaviors.

Findings from the YAFS series have been widely used in education and health and have provided the evidence base for health programs for young people by government and nongovernment organizations nationwide, she added.

YAFS 4 is co-funded by the Australian Government, the United Nations Population Fund, the Department of Health and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. (PNA) CTB/FGS/AMM/CBD/rsm

Being poor not hindrance to being happy family – Bongat
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) – Naga City Mayor John Bongat on Saturday stressed that being poor is not a hindrance to having a happy and wholesome family.

That’s why, Bongat said, the local government of Naga has institutionalized the search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya in Naga City.

The search, which is an annual activity conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, will be part of the celebration of the family week, which is every third week of September of every year, he added.

The Malasa family of Barangay Balatas is the 2014 Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya of Naga City; followed by the Braga family of Barangay Panicuasion, second; and the Palibino, also of Barangay Panicuasion, third.

The province of Camarines Sur also has its own set of winners who were awarded recently by Camarines Governor Miguel “Migz” Villafuerte and Buhi Mayor Rey Lacoste.

The first is the Victoria family of San Francisco, Buhi, Camarines Sur, as the provincial winner.

It is also this year’s regional winner and the Bicol’s bet for the national search.

The second prize is the Benosa family, a member of the Tabangnon tribe of San Francisco, Iriga City, while the third prize winner is the Camalia family of Bombon, Camarine Sur.

Lacoste said he felt proud and honored for Buhi for having a two-time winner in the search and this year’s participant in the national contest.

He claimed that getting the top prize for two consecutive years is a manifestation of a dedicated and efficient implementation of the program and the full support of the local government unit.

To compensate the hard work of the Pantawid Pamilya staff, the mayor committed to provide a bigger office space for the staff.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the grand winner for this year’s national competition will be from Bicol, the Victoria family,” Lacoste said.

Villafuerte, on the other hand, said he is very supportive of the DWSD programs and projects.

“We will aim to get the top in the national search. Everything will be possible if we are one. Let us join hands to have a change for the better and change for development,” the Camarines Sur governor said.

The winners received a cash prize of Php 5,000, Php 3,000 and Php 1,000 for the first, second and third prize, respectively. (PNA) CTB//FGS/JME/CBD/rsm

Albay promotes healthy lifestyle for employees
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government of Albay -- in partnership with the Department of Health-Commission on Population Regional Office 5, National Nutrition Council-Region 5, and Team Albay/OCD 5 -- has developed a series of activities which will promote the general welfare of its employees and several other concerned stakeholders in Albay.

The move is in line with the celebration of the National Nutrition Month, National Disaster Consciousness Month and World Population Day.

Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, in a memorandum, enjoined all officials and employees of the PGA to support and participate in one of the culminating activities lined up in the calendar of events scheduled for the celebration, the Healthy Lifestyle Promotion or HATAW, to be led by the Provincial Health Office HATAW team.

The activity is on Aug. 20 at the Peñaranda Park in Legazpi City starting at 7:00 am.

HATAW, a popular short physical program launched by the DOH in 1994, is a mix of exercise and dance which can be done almost anywhere and anytime.

Its popularity stems from the enjoyable physical training which involves fast body movements that result in the production of several progressive health benefits.

Due to the reduced physical activity that many office workers experience on a daily basis, PGA employees or any other office worker subjected to limited bodily movement are exposed to dangers that produce grave consequences to their health.

Studies have shown that the lack of adequate physical activity has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and obesity.

It also increases the risks of colon and breast cancer, high blood pressure, lipid disorder, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety.

With healthy employees and officers, the PGA and all other offices will be able to provide more than adequate service to their clients and their constituents. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/rsm

Legazpi council to launch legislative tracking website
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) -- The Sangguniang Panlunsod of this city will launch a legislative tracking website or the “Paperless Sanggunian “this coming end of the month, Legazpi City Vice-Mayor Vittorio “Bitoy” Roces said in an interview Saturday.

“We are now in a modern society and guided by information technology (IT) wherein almost all people know how to use the website, computer and Internet,” Roces explained.

The project materialized when Roces and Randy Alzaga, owner of the Zabina Lexus I.T. solutions signed a confirmation of engagement on December 9, 2013.

According to Roces, Harley M. Napay of the STI Computer School in this city will be the one to administer the website and teach some of the SP personnel on how to operate and manage it.

He said the legislative tracking website project is his long-time dream to modernize all the transactions in his office and this will serve as an information tool to inform the public regarding the enacted ordinances, resolutions, programs and projects and other agenda of the SP.

Through this legislative tracking system, Roces said, all the SP members -- including the SP secretary -- will have their own laptops to be used in deliberations during session time and that there is no need to a use paper during the meeting.

The vice mayor pointed out that if the member of the SP is on official business or on leave but he is willing to observe or participate in the session, all he needs is to simply go on-line and he will see the deliberations and discussions of his colleagues through the website even if he is in another place.

Roces, the youngest son of the late former city mayor Imelda “Nana” Roces, revealed that not only the Legazpeños but also all people in the entire world are free to open the Legazpi SP website to inform them of what the members of the SP are doing.

He said the SP website will also remind and inform the SP members regarding their respective committees they handle.

The Office of the Sangguniang Panlunsod of Legazpi will be the first implementer of this legislative tracking system in the Bicol Region, he added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EPS/CBD/rsm

Authorities conduct aerial survey over Mayon’s southeast quadrant
By Eduardo M. Casulla

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) -- Officials of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC ), Philippine Air Force and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Saturday morning conducted an aerial monitoring of the activities of Mt. Mayon.

This, after the active volcano showed higher abnormal activities in the past few days, prompting the Phivolcs to raise Alert Level 2 on Friday afternoon.

OCD Bicol Director Raffy Alejandro said the group surveyed the southeast quadrant of Mayon, especially the area within the six-kilometer-radius Permanent Danger Zone and eight-kilometer-radius buffer zone where there are villagers residing.

Alejandro said he immediately advised ground authorities to warn residents of the possible danger.

Local government executives of Legazpi City and Daraga, Sto. Domingo and other towns affected by Mayon during eruptions immediately convened their respective local DRRMCs to prepare for contingencies.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda earlier directed city, municipal and barangay officials to be on guard in anticipation of possible Mt. Mayon volcano explosion.

Salceda also banned climbing in Mt. Mayon and ordered the suspension of the famous ATV trail beyond lava front, no orchid picking, no vegetable harvesting in the delineated 6-km-radius PDZ and no human activity near the perimeter of the PDZ. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/rsm

Thursday, August 14, 2014

45 priests assail SMC unit's selective power restoration
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) – At least 45 Catholic priests under the Diocese of Legazpi have signed an open letter addressed to the Department of Energy and the San Miguel Energy Corp (SMEC) appealing for the early restoration of power supply in Albay even as it assailed what they branded as an anti-poor “prioritization scheme” of reconnection the company is doing against the majority marginal consumers.

The SMEC took over the ailing Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) of more than 230,000 consumers last January following the latter's conversion into a privatized entity after San Miguel bested three other bidders -- Meralco, the Aboitiz and the Lopez groups.

The SMEC also changed the name of the Aleco into Albay Power and Energy Corp.

But since the SMEC assumed full control of the electric cooperative, the local business community has described in a resolution issued last June the power supply in Albay as dismal and frustrating.

Monsignor Ramon Tronqued, Legazpi City's St. Raphael de Arcangel Parish priest and vicar general of the Diocese of Legazpi based at St. Gregory Cathedral, described APEC'S power service as “inefficient to the maximum.”

Tronqued is the first signatory to the open letter which also called the attention of Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda, one of the major proponents of Aleco’s privatization.

The open letter was prompted by the delayed restoration of power in Albay since typhoon "Glenda" struck on July 15, placing the restored power to only 30 percent so far, according to the Aleco Labor Employees Organization (Aleo).

The priests' open letter assailed APEC's prioritization policy as consumers with records of unpaid electric bills would not be energized.

They urged APEC to abandon its prioritization scheme, saying it was the poor consumers who after all voted for the privatization against the coop-to-coop proposal by Aleo during a consumers assembly.

In the open letter, the catholic priests minced no word in describing the SMEC-controlled APEC's power service as frustrating eight months after the Aleco acquisition.

The dismal power service has reinforced calls by Aleo for a boycott of the payment of electric bills as consumers complained of terrible damages in appliances caused by the strange brownout frequency.

Some priests said the open letter was not the Diocese of Legazpi's stand as it was not signed and endorsed by Legazpi Diocese Bishop Joel Baylon, however, many priests in Albay could have signed the open letter if it reached them.

On July 25, or 10 days after Glenda, the APEC sent an advisory to every barangay that consumers without clearance from it would not be reconnected with power.

This developed following the boycott move spearheaded by the Aleo, reinforced by a resolution from the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) LAST JUNE.






DA-Bicol expects mild El Niño in September
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) -- With farmlands still reeling from the destruction of typhoon "Glenda" that destroyed almost PHP 4-billion worth of crops and infrastructure, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Bicol anticipates the coming of a mild El Niño in September.

DA OIC-Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas said Wednesday that the agriculture agency is focusing its preparation on mitigating the weather phenomenon that brings dry spell in Camarines Sur.

“Camarines Sur has the widest area of rice farms in the region that is composed of about 80,000 hectares out of the regional total of 160,000 hectares,” Bragas said.

He said the effect of El Niño on rice crop is the decline of yield should it strike when the plant is in fruiting stage due to lack of water.

Bragas said one of the mitigation measures the DA will implement is the provision of shallow-tube wells to augment the anticipated shortage of irrigation water.

But, he said, how to fast-track the mitigation measures will be a challenge because the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) responsible to provide irrigation to rice farms now belongs to a different agency.

The NIA, Philippine Coconut Authority, National Food Authority, and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority have been transferred to the Office of Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agriculture Modernization headed by former Senator Francis Pangilinan.

“The problem here is that there will be no continuity on intervention,” Bragas quipped.

Bragas is optimistic that the effect of the El Niño on rice crop could still be recovered in December if the farmers plant in September. (PNA) FPV/FGS/JME/CBD/

Rosal cites Legazpi’s contributions to health care services
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) -– Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal on Tuesday said the foremost item in the agenda of his administration is to deliver health services to his constituents, particularly those who belong to the identified indigent families.

That is why he is very supportive to the Sagip Kalusugan Program of the City Nutrition Office, Rosal told the hundreds of members of the Provincial Health Officers of the Philippines (PHOAP) HEADED BY DR. RICARDO RAMOS, PRESIDENT, WHO ARE NOW ATTENDING THEIR NATIONAL MEETING FROM AUGUST 12-14 AT THE ORIENTAL HOTEL HERE.











DA team gives recommendations to resolve saltwater intrusion problem in farms caused by 'Glenda'
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) -– A team of experts from the Department of Agriculture (DA) has come up with recommendations on how farmers can manage the salt intrusion problem in Bicol towns and identified some good practices options against floods, typhoons and saline intrusions.

This, after the DA said huge portions of farms in the region now have to endure saltwater intrusion as another problem left by typhoon "Glenda" last month.

These recommendations include intervention and rehabilitation plans which the office of Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Leni Robredo will help package, consolidate and submit to possible fund sources at the national government level, Bragas said.

One intervention proposed is the construction of a sea wall — a proposal which the district engineering office of the Department of Public Works and Highways will not commit to, being expensive and could not be immediately done as a proposal and budgetary requirements should be submitted to the Department of Budget and Management for processing.

Regional Director Dennis del Socorro of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, who is a member of the assessment team, suggested that the sea shells-covered areas be converted into fishponds for tilapia species that thrive in saline water.

Bragas said that as far as the DA is concerned, one of his recommendations for saline-intruded farms is the application of organic materials such as rice straw and farm manure to recycle potassium or through regular flushing or irrigation.

“We are also introducing in these sea water-damaged farms salt and submergence-tolerant rice varieties like the Green Super Rice which were already tested in some rice farms in the municipality,” he said.

Other solutions suggested by the DA are submerging in fresh water the field for two to four weeks before planting rice; non-use of sodic irrigation water or alternating between sodic and non-sodic irrigation water sources; leaching the soil after planting under intermittent submergence to remove excess salts; collecting and storing low saline water for irrigation of dry season crops by establishing reservoirs; and using fertilizers efficiently.

In a statement reaching here Wednesday from the DA’s Regional Field Unit (RFU) based in Pili, Camarines Sur, DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas said results of the recent assessment conducted by a team of experts from his office confirmed that around 150 hectares of farms cultivated by 165 farmers were affected in six barangays of Calabanga, Camarines Sur.

The areas include over 20 hectares of rice fields that were turned into a wasteland by saline intrusion which dumped heavy volumes of sand and sea shells locally called “bogitis” and other ocean debris into the paddies.

These figures are only partial as DA teams are still assessing reports from other parts of Bicol hit by typhoon Glenda last July 15, Bragas said.

Typhoons usually cause the rising of sea levels and salt water ingress to farms not far from coastal areas and Glenda brought to fore a saline intrusion that left extensive damages apart from its wind and rain-triggered floods, destroying over Php 3.8 billion worth of crops in the region, he said.

“Salinity tests in Calbanga farms showed that the range of pH (potential of hydrogen) in affected barangays reached about level eight, indicating high alkalinity of soils—a condition that breaks humus apart, causing concentration of salt that suppresses plant growth,” Bragas explained.(PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DENR-Bicol intensifies anti-'kaingin' drive as wild fire preventive measure
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA)—Accusing fingers point to "kaingin" (slash and burn) farming system as the principal suspect in the recent series of wild fires in some Bicol forested areas, prompting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office based here to embark into a more intensified move against this prohibited use of the forest.

Kaingin or slash-and-burn farming refers to the common system of clearing areas for two purposes--cultivation and cutting trees that are burnt into charcoal.

Both purposes are sources of livelihood for some residents of barangays covering timberlands and forests areas in Bicol.

Kaingineros cultivate the area until such time that the soil is no longer good for planting, then transfer to another area that is again cleared and fell trees, burn these and sold as charcoal.

Unfortunately, this practice had, in the past few days or shortly after typhoon "Glenda" ravaged most parts of the region last July 15, been the main suspect in the series of wild conflagrations that had engulfed several forests and bushes in Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Sur.

DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales on Wednesday said he had already directed the Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs) in all the six Bicol provinces to mobilize their forest rangers into an intensified campaign to suppress kaingin system in their respective areas of responsibility.

If necessary, court charges for violations of Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Code of the Philippines should be filed against kaingineros caught.

Imprisonment and fines await violators of this Code, Gonzales said.

While forest protection law enforcers are focused on illegal logging, particularly that a total logging ban is in effect all over the country as declared in 2011 by Pres. Benigno Aquino III, “we are now also focusing our attention on kaingin that is more dangerous than logging”, he said.

In logging, he explained, chances are high that there are seeds left over after the cutting of a certain tree which will sprout anytime to replace the one taken out.

But in kaingin, there will never be a chance that trees of its kind will sprout again after the area is burned, especially when it causes wild fires, Gonzales added.

It also contributes to soil erosion, habitat loss for wild animals and ultimate environmental collapse within the area, he said.

All these negative effects are expected to prevail in areas recently razed by the recent wild fires such as in the island-town of Rapu-Rapu, Albay, that destroyed last August 1 to 8 some 3,100 hectares of forested areas and threatened the densely populated downtown area of the island-town.

Last Aug. 4, five separate but simultaneous fire incidents—one in Cagraray Island of Bacacay town; another one at the Mayon Volcano Natural Park within the municipality of Sto. Domingo; Cayaban Mountain, Manito; Barangay Putsan, Tiwi; and Barangay Guadalupe, Rapu-Rapu also took place, turning to ashes vast forest and bush areas.

On Aug. 8, a fire also broke out at the forest of Mt. Isarog National Park along the municipalities of Calabanga and Tinambac in the province of Camarines Sur.

It destroyed around 150 hectares of woodland within the government protected park.

As fires raged in those areas, similar incidents were also reported in Sorsogon City and its nearby town of Casiguran that destroyed a total of about 100 hectares of cogonal areas, coconut plantations and root crop farms.

The Casiguran fire took place for three days last week in Barangay Inlagadian that is situated near the foot of Mt. Bulusan, following the Sorsogon City incident that engulfed for five days a forested site covered by the Bacon-Manito geothermal energy reservation in barangays Osiao and Sto Niño, both in Bacon District, according to a belated report reaching here Wednesday from the Sorsogon Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The Casiguran Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council also said over the week that two more bush fires were recently reported at the vast mountainous areas of barangays Sta. Cruz and San Pascual, destroying farms of agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“We have also alerted local authorities including barangay officials into becoming more vigilant against similar incidences that should be immediately reported to proper agencies for prompt response,” Gonzales said.

The DENR has also intensified its Climate Change Advisory Campaign to raise public awareness on the serious effect of the global warming which weather experts say is increasing the frequency and severity of bushfires and will lead to increased days of extreme fire danger.

It is also high time for the public to be more responsible in dealing with the environment and get rid of illegal forest activities, Gonzales said.

“Our forests could easily catch fire nowadays because there are huge volume of dried leaves and branches of trees scattered around due to typhoon Glenda” he said.

The region has a total of 543,000 hectares of forest land, out of which only 155,689 hectares have remained forested as of 2011.

“We are now hurrying up the organization and training of the Regional Forest Fire Respond Team (RFFRT) so that they are immediately dispatched as anti-forest fire vanguards,” Gonzales said.

The RFFRT is part of the DENR-Bureau of Fire Protection tie-up recently forged to enable a sustained and pro-active forest conservation and management protocol, he added. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DSWD-Bicol holds songwriting contest
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office in Bicol is sponsoring a songwriting contest anchored on the theme “Community-driven development (CDD), a successful approach in poverty reduction.”

The activity is aimed at creating more awareness of the government programs under the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia said the songwriting contest will be held on Oct. 8, even as their office is now accepting entries already, with the submission deadline set on Sept. 17 and the initial screening on Sept. 30.

Garcia is asking all Bicolano musicians and bands to join the friendly competition so that they could contribute their talents to the creation of awareness on the government’s pro-poor programs.

“All composers are enjoined to create a theme song based on the CDD strategy of Kalahi-CIDSS-NCDDP and Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) programs implemented here in Bicol since 2003. Song entries must incite public’s interest to build appreciation and support towards the programs,” Garcia.

NCDDP stands for National Community-Driven Development Program.

Garcia said the contest is open to all Bicolano amateur and professional songwriters with a band who will interpret the composition, adding that the entry form and contest mechanics can be downloaded via DSWD regional website using the link:

The selection of the winning theme song will be based on originality, public appeal, musical composition and lyrics and its relevance to the theme.

“We would like to engage the public to appreciate CDD by coming up with a song which simplifies the message of success in engaging ordinary citizens to participate in the planning, implementation and management of resources for local development,” Garcia added.

He said there will be an initial screening on Sept. 30 to identify the top five qualifiers for the live performance during the grand finals, which is scheduled on Oct. 18 to be held in Legazpi City.

The grand winner will record their original composition with DSWD on top of the cash prize of Php 30,000, while other top four qualifiers will receive a consolation prize of Php 5,000.

Garcia said the songs featured in DSWD 5’s Facebook fan page with the most number of likes will also receive P5,000.

Garcia said Jesseshan B. Marbella of Kalahi-CIDSS-NCDDP can give more details of the event through cellphone numbers 09173747003 or (052)4805754.

Kalahi-CIDSS puts the power back in the hands of the people by giving them the opportunity to make informed decisions on locally identified options for development and manage resources to implement sub-projects that address needs identified by communities themselves, he explained.

Consequently, the NCDDP scales-up CDD, which was used and has been proven effective by Kalahi-CIDSS in its past 11 years of implementation in Bicol and in the country as a whole.

The program is now called Kalahi-CIDSS-NCDDP, Garcia said.

On the other hand, he explained, Pamana projects under its second pillar is implemented by the DSWD to facilitate the delivery of basic services at the community level through CDD, and community livelihood interventions.

Garcia said both Kalahi-CIDSS-NCDDP and Pamana aim to reduce poverty, empower communities and improve local governance.

In these programs, he said, community residents consensually decide on what type of poverty-reduction projects they prioritize for funding based on the collective analysis of their needs.

Community proposals can vary from public goods/access projects, enterprise or livelihood projects or human development projects.

Kalahi-CIDSS-NCDDP is one of the core social protection programs of the DSWD along with Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). (PNA) SCS/FGS/SMT/CBD/

Government operatives nab NPA rebel wanted for murder in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) -- Joint operatives of government security and law enforcement units arrested on Tuesday night a New People's Army (NPA) rebel in his residence in Barangay Basicao Interior, Pioduran, Albay.

Combined elements of the Pioduran Municipal Police office, Albay Provincial Police Office (APPO), 5th Regional Public Safety Battalion , 97th Military Intelligence Company and 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army arrested Alberto Bronzal alias Ka Berto.

APPO director Senior Supt. Marlo Meneses said the authorities swooped down on the residence of Bronzal at about 11:00 p.m. and apprehended the suspect based on the warrant of arrest issued by Judge Pedro R. Soriano of Regional Trial Court Branch 13, Ligao City, for two counts of murder.

Meneses said Bronzal had played a big role in NPA operations against government personnel and actively engaged in activities against the government in the past months.

He said the government troopers acted on an information that the wanted rebel was often seen in the area so they immediately set up an operation to get Bronzal. (PNA) LAM/FGS/EMC/CBD

(Feature) DENR-Bicol treats wounded green sea turtle, brings her back to natural habitat after 40-day care
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) – Amid the backdrop of a bushfire developing at a mountainous area of Legazpi City at its southern part, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol regional office on Monday night returned to its natural habitat a green sea turtle that swiftly flipped its way to freedom at the waters off the city boulevard.

The juvenile female green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) displayed an unusual strength when an identification tag was pinned on her by DENR personnel -- a usual reaction of a pained living marine animal.

It was a far different sight when the reptile was found wounded on its right flipper by Legazpi City Bantay-Dagat volunteer guards on July 2 at the waters off Legazpi City.

“It looked lifeless, so we immediately treated its wounded flipper upon its turnover to us by the volunteer sea guards,” Myrnia Baylon, DENR Wildlife Section head, told the Philippines News Agency in an interview.

Baylon said they poured betadyne on the wound and sewed it.

“For seven days, we gave her vitamin that cost Php 650 per bottle and fed her with ‘lato’ (seaweeds). Then we turned her over to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for further nourishment and care,” she added.

Seeing that the reptile was already in good condition, Baylon said, they decided to release the sea creature back to its natural habitat on Monday.

DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert C. Gonzales headed the release of the 41-centimeter long, 39-cm wide turtle at about 6:30 p.m. at the breakwater area of the Legazpi City boulevard.

The release was witnessed by the creeping red-orange moon that looked like another fire that had threatened another tree-covered area of the city.

The newly released green sea turtles was one of at least 30 members of its species that were released by the DENR back to sea this year alone.

“I’m glad they had been found by fishermen or villagers who now realize the value of conserving and showing concern for our endangered species, like the green sea turtle,” remarked Gonzales.

He said the green sea turtle -- also known as the green turtle, black turtle, or Pacific green turtle -- is a large sea turtle of the family Cheloniidae and is the only species in the genus Chelonia.

On birth, a green sea turtle is only 5 cm long but it grows up to 1.5 meters long and weighs about 300 kg., making it the largest hard shell sea turtle.

Its name is derived from its greenish-colored skin, Gonzales added.

Its paddle-like flippers help in their ability to swim speedily and gracefully.

With its renewed strength, the green sea turtle released back to sea on early Monday evening quickly blended and lost herself in the darkness of the deep sea water, leaving DENR folk and other witnesses with smiles on their face, having witnessed an endangered sea animal flipping back to her fellow marine creatures. (PNA) SCS/FGS/CBD

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tuesday is day of prayer, mourning for Archbishop Legaspi

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 12 (PNA) – Deeply grieving over what they call a big loss, the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres paid their last respects to the late Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi, their beloved former spiritual head.

The whole day Tuesday was the day of prayer and mourning with all parishes, religious houses and institutions celebrating Mass in the morning for the eternal repose of the soul of Msgr. Legaspi.

The moments of prayer started 12:00 a.m. with the vigil of the Missionaries of the Poor; 1:00 a.m. – 4 a.m., Vigil of the Daughters of Mary and Caceres Catechetical Community; 5:00 a.m., Gualandi Community/CFSOP community.

At 6:00 a.m., a Requiem Mass was at the Basilica Seminary by (Major, Minor & Preparatory) Priests, after which at 7:00 a.m., there was a procession to the Cathedral participated in by minor and major seminarians, DM sisters, Caceres Catechetical Center, Missionaries of the Poor, Association of Consecrated Life in Caceres and the general public – accompanied by the Mariners Polytechnic College Band and the Ateneo de Naga University Band.

At 8:30 a.m., a Liturgical Reception was held at the Cathedral led by Archbishop Rolando Tirona, the current Archbishop of Nueva Caceres.

There was a Requiem Mass at 10:00 a.m. with Fr. Rogelio Largoza as main celebrant and Msgr. Jeffrey Nelson Tria as homilist.

The public was allowed to view the casket of the late archbishop at 11:00 a.m. while the Rosary was being prayed by DC sisters.

At 12:15 noon, a Requiem Mass for office workers and establishments was held with Fr. Danilo Dizon as main celebrant and Msgr. Zosimo Sañado as homilist.

Another public viewing was allowed at 1:15 p.m. with the praying of the Rosary by St. Paul sisters.

A Solemn Pontifical Concelebrated Mass was held at 3:30 p.m. with Most Rev. Rolando J. Tria Tirona as celebrant.

Again, a public viewing was held at 4:30 p.m.

At 6:30 p.m., there will be a Requiem Mass by Diocese of Libmanan to be led by Most Rev. Jose R. Rojas, assisted by the Libmanan clergy, then followed by a public viewing and praying of the Rosary by Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers.

A Para-Liturgy with necrological services will be held at 8:00 p.m., by the city and provincial governments.

Another vigil will be done at 10:00 p.m. by Couples for Christ and CWL members.

At 12:00 midnight Wednesday, there will be a vigil by Adoracion Nocturna, El Shaddai, all religious organizations and movements.

There will be a farewell dawn Mass at 3:30 a.m. to be performed by Monsignori and palace community with Msgr. Noe Badiola as in-charge.

The coffin will be prepared at 4:15 a.m. by St. Peter’s Chapel – Mabulo.

At 4:45 a.m. will be the preparation for departure and ringing of Cathedral bells.

Msgr. Legaspi’s remains will depart for the Legazpi Airport at 5:00 a.m. and will be accompanied by a convoy of priests, private cars, police escorts.

It is expected to arrive at the at the Legazpi Airport at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday.

The PAL plane bearing the coffin of the late Msgr. Legaspi will depart at 11:05 a.m.

At 2:00 p.m Aug. 15, there will be a Funeral Mass at the Sto. Domingo Priory (Sto. Domingo Church) in Quezon City, after which he will be buried in Sto. Domingo Church. (PNA) FPV/FGS/CBD/UTB

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Albay to nominate Mayon Volcano as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 11 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Albay will nominate Mayon Volcano as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Governor Joey Sarte Salceda disclosed Monday.

In a letter to Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol, Salceda said the Philippines National Commission for UNESCO has provided the province with information for its guidance on the nomination of Mayon Volcano as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

A Biosphere Reserve, he said, is an internationally designated protected area meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature, hence, promoting values such as sustainable development.

“The status is conferred by UNESCO, particularly by its Man and the Biosphere Program and currently, there are only two UNESCO biosphere reserves in the Philippines – namely, Palawan and Puerto Galera,” Salceda said.

He invited Gonzales to join a meeting on the nomination of Mayon Volcano as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on Aug. 13 at the UNESCO office in Pasay City.

He also invited Edelberto Matusalem, Protected Area supervisor for the Province of Albay, to join the meeting.(PNA)

Fire eats up 150 hectares of forest in Camarines Sur
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Aug. 11 (PNA) -- A forest fire that started 1 p.m. Saturday had eaten up at least 150 hectares of a second-growth forest before it was put out by joint efforts of the provincial government of Camarines Sur and villagers on Sunday.

Edencia Orlina, head of Barangay Harubay in Calabanga town in Camarines Sur, said in a telephone interview Monday that the concerted efforts of employees from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council of Camarines Sur and volunteers from their village paid off using simple ways of preventing the fire from spreading further.

Orlina said the forest fire burned hundreds of trees of hardwood species at the shoulders of Mt. Isarog.

She also noted that Barangay Kaway-nan in the neighboring town of Tinambac had been greatly affected with at least 100 has of forest while on their side (Harubay), 50 has had been consumed.

She said they could not have put off the fire had it not been for the immediate response of Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte who dispatched more than 50 volunteers, mostly foresters, to the area.

Orlina said provincial government employees and volunteers did the job by studying the direction of the wind and the fire and preempted its spread through simple clearing of the vulnerable area.

She said one small rest house was destroyed by the fire. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD/

Monday, August 11, 2014

Forest fire in Albay town spreads to nearby villages

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 8 (PNA) -- The forest fire in Cagraray island in Bacacay town, which started two days ago in the mountainous area of Barangay Manaet, has spread to nearby villages of Tanagan and Namantao, displacing close to 100 families now.

Edwin Belano, village chieftain of Manaet, said the forest fire is getting bigger now, as it is being fueled by strong wind.

“The forest fire is getting bigger and at an alarming stage now because it has spread already to neighboring villages due to strong wind. We’re doing now the 'bayanihan' system to contain the fire but it seems to be uncontrollable,” he said.

Many residences are threatened to be engulfed by the spreading wild fire while vast tracts of coconut plantation and karagumoy — the main source of indigenous materials for Albay’s native bags -- have already been damaged.

The Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group 5's bucket operations in Cagraray Island yesterday were halted temporarily as a result of an aircraft accident in Marawi City.

But on Friday, the PAF central command gave the green light anew for two helicopters to proceed with the bucket operations to contain the forest fire.

Office of Civil Defense Bicol Director Raffy Alejandro, also the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chair, said that as of 7:00 a.m. Friday they had received clearance to mobilize the two choppers.

“We received clearance to mobilize two Huey helicopters from the Philippine Air Force and two RHIBs (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, 10-foot boats) from the Philippine Navy to support and augment firefighting operations of the local government unit and the Bureau of Fire Protection,” Alejandro said.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said the forest fire in Cagraray Island is continuously sweeping closer to Barangays Manaet and Tanagan.

It is also observed to keep on raging with its big flames covering timberland while the river system cannot serve as a buffer to protect the population, according to the governor.

“The authorities in the area are ready and have assured to protect the population. If ever, they will just transfer them to nearby safe residences within the area; no need to evacuate to the main land. They organized themselves within the barangay and agreed to establish a fire line,” he said.

The provincial government, through the social welfare office, is providing food-for-work assistance to Barangay Manaet, intended for people doing the bayanihan system and making the fire line in the upper slope to protect their properties and houses.

While the forest fire in Cagraray Island is getting bigger, other forest fires were reported in the geothermal towns of Tiwi and Manito.

The fire in Tiwi has been observed to be moving towards the forest.

In Manito, planted trees in Cayabon Mountain are being engulfed by the flame right now while it is moving closer towards the Energy Development Corp.'s area.

The flame is big as it swallows big trees, according to a report reaching the Governor's Office here.

There is no population threatened as the fire moves far from the residential zones but the EDC has positioned one fire truck for contingency.

Earlier, the island town of Rapu-Rapu was also hit by a forest fire but it was contained three days ago due to heavy rain and continuous bucket operations of the Philippine Air Force. (PNA) LAP/FGS/RBB/CBD/utb

Alcala lauds Albay rehab efforts
By Connie Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 7 (PNA) – Albay’s effort to fast track its rehabilitation is remarkable, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said during a press conference Thursday morning in this city.

Alcala led the turnover of rehabilitation assistance to farmers and other agri-stakeholders affected by Typhoon “Glenda” in the province of Albay.

Dubbed as Bicol Rehabilitation Assistance for Glenda –Agricultural Sector, the quick response effort will provide initial assistance consisting of agricultural inputs, farm machineries and equipment.

According to Regional Executive Director DA-Bicol Abelardo Bragas, the assistance turned over to Albay recipients includes: 1,000 bags of certified rice seeds, 5 units of hand tractor, 9,000 packets of assorted vegetable seeds, 9,000 pieces of pili seedlings, 185 bags of hybrid corn seeds, 15 bags of open-pollenated variety corn seeds; 54 sets of garden tools and 1,000 pieces of laminated sacks or canvass pieces.

Ten lucky farmers who attended the event got 10 units of hand tractor with trailers; 10 carabaos and 3 packets (consisting of 5 females and 1 male ) of sheep.

The total value of assistance to Albay is over Php 5.6 million.

The quick response effort in Bicol was first launched in Sorsogon province last week, which was also led by Alcala.

“I saw the conditions of the farmers and fishermen in typhoon-battered areas, thus, I want to fast track the assistance to them so that they can immediately recover and recoup their losses,” Alcala said.

The total damages brought by tyhoon Glenda to agricultural sector are valued at Php 3.9 billion while the number of farmers affected is about 80,435 (rice, corn, coconut, abaca, high value crops farmers and fishermen)

Production volume losses in metric tons are: for rice, 97,898; for corn, 44,567; high value crops, 40,578, and abaca, 3, 039.(PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD/

DA extends Php 5.6-M aid to Albayano farmer-victims of ‘Glenda’
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 7 (PNA) -- Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala on Thursday distributed Php 5.6-million worth of assistance to Albay farmers affected by typhoon “Glenda” to help them get back on their feet.

Alcala flew in Albay on Thursday morning to personally hand over to provincial and municipal officials as well as the farmer-victims assistance consisting of 1,000 bags of certified rice seeds, five units of hand tractors, 9,000 packets of assorted vegetable seeds, 9,000 pieces of pili seedlings, 185 bags of hybrid corn seeds, 15 bags of open-pollinated variety corn seeds, 54 sets of garden tools and 1,000 pieces of laminated canvass.

Alcala also raffled off 10 units of hand tractor with trailers and 10 male and female carabaos.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda thanked Alcala for lending a hand to Albayano farmers as the assistance, he said, will greatly help them recoup their lost income when Glenda wrought havoc in the province last July 15.

Abelardo R. Bragas, DA Bicol regional director, said the Php 5.6-million worth of farm equipment and materials is just an initial assistance of the department to fast-track the rehabilitation efforts dubbed as Bicol Rehabilitation Assistance for Glenda - Agriculture Sector.

The DA-Bicol estimated the damages caused by Glenda on the agriculture sector at Php 3.9 billion -- the aggregate total for crops, livestock, agri-infrastructure, abaca, coconut and fisheries.

Of the six provinces in Bicol, Camarines Sur has the biggest reported crop damage, followed by Albay and Sorsogon.

Bragas said he has already submitted to the central office a comprehensive rehabilitation plan to expedite the release of fund for the devastated areas of Bicol. (PNA) LAM/FGS/RBB/cbd/

72 families evacuated due to forest fire in another Albay town

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 7 (PNA) -– Authorities immediately evacuated 72 families in four villages affected by a forest fire that started at about 11:00 p.m. Wednesday in the island barangay of Cagraray, Bacacay, Albay.

Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council chair, said the affected villages aside from Cagraray are Tanagan, Manaet and Namantao – all in an island under the political jurisdiction of Bacacay town.

Salceda said the fire, fanned by the southwest wind, swiftly swept through the forest and spread to the residential area, prompting local officials to bring the villagers to the Bacacay Women Center for temporary refuge.

The Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group 5 rushed to conduct a helicopter bucket operation to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to other nearby villages.

Bureau of Fire and Protection officials could not yet determine the cause of the fire.

The PAF-TOG5 conducted another bucket operation at about 8:00 a.m. Thursday as the fire was still sweeping through rows of trees and bushes in a still-undetermined number of hectares of land in the area.

It can be recalled that early this week, a five-day conflagration consumed combustible materials along its path in about 6,000 hectares of trees and grasses in the nearby gold-rich island-town of Rapu-Rapu.

The deeply religious Salceda and the Albayanos claimed it was divine intervention that prevented a catastrophe as heavy rain poured, with the residents coming out unscathed by the fire. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/cbd/

DSWD-Bicol hiring 382 trainers, field workers

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 7 (PNA) -- At least 372 field workers are urgently needed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its expanded Kalahi-CIDSS programs across the Bicol Region.

DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia said that their office in Legazpi City is accepting applications for the positions of 162 community facilitators with salary grade 13; 92 deputy area coordinators with salary grade 17; 70 municipal financial analysts with salary grade 13; 48 area coordinators with salary grade 18; eight community development officers with salary grade 15; a regional procurement officer with salary grade 22; and, a regional training assistant with salary grade 11.

Community facilitators must be graduate of any four-year course relevant to social development; with two years of relevant, progressive work experience in development assistance projects; with at least four hours of relevant training experience; can demonstrate capabilities in community organizing and social facilitation/mobilization; possess effective verbal and written communication skills ; and computer literate in MS Office applications.

Deputy area coordinators must be graduate of Civil Engineering course, preferably a licensed Civil Engineer; with five years of relevant experience in rural or community-based infrastructure development, three years of which in foreign-assisted development projects; preferably with relevant technical trainings on water supply systems, roads and bridges, procurement, and other social infrastructure; can demonstrate competencies in construction and contract management; posses effective verbal and written communication skills; and computer literate in MS Office applications.

Municipal financial analysts must be business course graduate or preferably Accountancy; at least one year relevant work experience; computer literate; and can work well with others, that is, self-confident, assertive, and independent-minded.

Area coordinators must be graduate of any four-year course relevant to social development; with five years of relevant, progressive work experience, of which three years should be in a supervisory or semi-managerial capacity, three years should be in development assistance projects; with 40 hours of relevant training Gender and Development related training a plus; can demonstrate leadership and project management capabilities; possess effective verbal and written communication skills; and computer literate in MS Office applications

Community development officers must be graduate of bachelor’s degree in Community Development, Anthropology, Public Administration, Social Work, or any of the Social Science, Post-graduate degree or units in social science, sociology, anthropology, community development, development research, project management, and/or development studies will be an advantage; with at least two years of combined, progressive experience in project management, community organizing and community development strategies/methodologies.

As community development officers, experience in participatory local governance, community-based resource management, community-based disaster risk reduction management, and conflict sensitivity and peace building, and indigenous people sensitivity will be an advantage.

These positions also require experience in foreign-assisted projects; with at least 40 hours of relevant training in project management, community organizing, and community development approaches, strategies/methodologies, and gender and development, community-based resource management, community-based disaster risk reduction management, conflict sensitivity, peace building or IP and ICC engagement; posses proficiency in word processing and database applications (MS Office); and excellent in written and verbal communication skills; and proficient in the major dialect of the region they would be assigned.

The regional procurement officer must be a holder of Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering; with at least five years work experience in social development program/project with procurement-related function; three years of which in foreign-assisted projects; facilitated procurement activities using the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other international funding institution including the RA 9184.

As procurement officer, experience in community-based procurement is an advantage; with at least 48 hours of relevant procurement training; must be proficient with computer application using MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access and other applicable software; and preferably licensed engineer.(PNA) LAP/FGS/SMT/cbd/

PDRRMC conducts medical mission after forest fire in Albay island-town

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 6 (PNA) -- The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) conducted a medical mission among villagers after the forest fire that devastated the island-municipality of Rapu-Rapu in Albay.

Dr. Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, said that aside from the assessment of the Bureau of Fire Protection on damages brought by conflagration, the Department of Health - Bicol and the Provincial Health Office are now focusing on interventions to provide for the medical needs of the residents affected by fire.

On Monday, Dr. Eric Raborar, coordinator of the Health and Emergency Management Service of the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, said residents of Rapu-Rapu town must prepare for health hazards like upper respiratory tract infection, water-borne diseases, snake bites, colds and fever.

On Monday evening, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda ordered the forced evacuation of residents threatened by fire.

In Morocborocan, 188 families or 1,019 persons were evacuated while 275 families or 1,170 persons from Mananao, 1,748 families or 8,142 persons from Buenavista and 152 families or 791 persons from Guadalupe were also brought to safe shelters.

Other residents moved to other barangays such as Batan, Dapdap, Bagao-baoan and San Ramon.

On Tuesday morning, the PDRRMC ordered decampment after heavy rains controlled the fire that raged across 2,093 hectares, as an initial estimate, for almost five days.

The PDRRMC reported no casualty and missing persons. (PNA) LAP/FGS/AMM/CBD/utb

Coconut farmers to suffer until 2016 due to 'Glenda' -- PCA

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 6 (PNA) -- As a consequence of typhoon "Glenda," coconut farmers will suffer from loss of income until next year or even up to 2016, an official of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA)-Albay said.

Alvin Trespeces, PCA senior agriculturist, said the agency's records estimated the total loss in terms of farmers' income up to December stands at Php300 million.

Trespeces said all farmers tending almost 99,000 hectares of coconut farms in the province have been affected and experienced great impact on their lives until 2015 to 2016.

"The price of copra was good before Glenda, that was why farmers' income increased, so as the estimated total damage could reach as high as Php300 million. We have to wait for several years before we can recover -- that is, if we experience no devastating typhoon during this recovery period," he added.

The PCA-Albay, in its initial report on July 30, said 1,728,030 bearing coconut trees had been slightly damaged -- meaning the trees have disarranged and dropped leaves -- and these are expected to recover within three months.

There were 3,009,161 moderately damaged coconut trees -- with wasted or broken fronds, matured nuts have fallen.

These trees may take about six months to recover and 10 percent of the harvest nuts for the year would be lost.

Heavily damaged reached up to 4,359,830 coconut trees or those with broken branches and twisted/ broken fronds, at least 50 percent of immature nuts have fallen.

These trees may take about two to three years to recover in terms of production.

Glenda also left 66,269 coconut trees totally damaged and have no chance of recovery because of broken or cracked fronds and that 100 percent of the nut production will be lost permanently.

Trespeces said while farmers wait for several months for the re-germination and recovery of coconut trees, the PCA will offer remedies and interventions to support their alternative livelihood.

"Coconut trees should recover first through growing its leaves to bear fruits, so every after typhoon, we fertilize trees that were slightly and moderately damaged," he added.

The agency gives free coconut seedlings for replanting to replace totally damaged trees.

It also offers inter-cropping assistance, often called cash cropping, wherein farmers can cultivate fast-growing plants like camote, corn and other root crops where they can earn in a short span of time.

Meanwhile, Trespeces reminds public of the limitations in cutting broken coconut trees.

"Since December 2013, we have moratorium on cutting coconut trees so even if their trees have fallen, they will still apply for a permit," he stressed. (PNA) lgi/FGS/AMM/CBD/utb

Legazpi’s Ibalong Festival comes with more fun, adventure this August
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 6 (PNA) – The city government here has issued a guarantee that the 2014 holding of Ibalong Festival, which comes this month, will be loaded with more fun, adventure and surprises.

“I assure you of more fun, exciting adventures and big surprises as we go along with this month-long celebration—the 23rd Ibalong Festival,” City Mayor Noel Rosal, who is also chair of the festival executive committee, told a press conference at the city mayor’s office Wednesday.

The festival’s formal opening will be on Aug. 16 but preliminary activities like the screening of candidates for the Mutya ng Ibalong beauty pageant, which was held last Aug. 3, the kick-off of the Mt. Mayon Triathlon on Aug. 10 and opening of the 2nd Ibalong National Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship on Aug. 15-17 will serve as advance activities.

The triathlon event is one of the big surprises offered this year as it will be participated in by about 200 celebrated international players, Rosal said, describing the event as a grueling physical fitness competition that will pass through varied routes along the Legazpi Boulevard to the town of Sto. Domingo, Albay, near the foot of Mt. Mayon.

The women’s beach volleyball games expected to be played among teams coming from big universities and colleges around the country will be held also along the Legazpi Boulevard.

To highlight the formal opening program of the festival on Aug. 16 will be the rolling out of the Ibalong Festival Weekend Market that will open up business opportunities to small and medium enterprise operators in the locality and those coming from far as Metro Manila and Cebu, City councilor Lilian Ramirez, the event’s committee chairperson, said in the press conference.

In support to the festivities, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will be holding its 2014 Southern Luzon Cluster Science and Technology Fair at the city’s Ibalong Centrum for Recreation from Aug. 17 to 20, according to Tomas Briñas, the DOST regional director for Bicol.

The event will also mark the launch in the city of Juan Time that will make Legazpi the first local government unit in Bicol to have the giant Juan Time clock to be mounted by the DOST at the heart of the city’s business center, Briñas said.

He said the S&T fair -- which will be focused on regional development thrust, tourism and disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), will be attended by delegations headed by DOST regional directors from 16 regions of the country.

In this affair, Legazpi will showcase its tremendous gains in tourism development that has made the city achieve remarkable growth in the travel industry and in DRRM that won for it the national championship in the Gawad Kalasag Awards of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council last year, Briñas said.

“Legazpi recognizes DRRM not only as a program but also as a culture—a trait that other LGUs should replicate,” he added.

One more big surprise that Ibalong Festival 2014 will be pulling, according to Rosal, is the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Legends Exhibition Game to be held at the ICR on Aug. 22.

The game will feature veteran Bicolano PBA players like William “Bogs” Adornado who hails from this city, Fortunato “Atoy” Co of Daet, Camrines Norte, and Rommel Daep of Manito, Albay.

They will be joined by Vince Hizon, Paul Alvarez, Noli Locsin, Nelson Asaytono, EJ Feihl, Bong Hawkins, Gerome Ejercito and Gerry Codiñera in playing against the Ibalong Team.

Other events include the Ibalong Zumba Party at the ICR and Otaku Summit at the Pacific Mall on Aug. 23; 1st Ibalong Color Run at the Legazpi Boulevard on Aug 24; the Ibalong Enduro Pilipinas Mountain Bike Race along the foot of Mt. Mayon; the Operation Hoops Care Goodwill Mission to the Philippines at the ICR on Aug. 26-27; and the Siram na Sana: A Legazpeño Food Festival at the Casablanca Convention Hall.

The traditional Ibalong Street Presentation, which will feature six contingents to portray in different styles the epical heroes of Bicolandia -- Handyong, Baltog, Bantong and Oryol -- and the Ibalong epic through dances and colorful attires, will be held at the city downtown on Aug. 30.

During the street presentations, the competing contingents will parade in the streets wearing masks and costumes to imitate the appearances of the heroes and the villains, portraying the classic battles that made their way into the history of Bicol.

At night of the same day will be the coronation of the Mutya ng Ibalong at the ICR.

Ibalong Festival, now on its 23rd year, is a month-long non-religious fiesta depicting Bicol’s early beginnings based on the Ibalong Epic written by the late Prof. Merito Espinas that tells of mythical super heroes, villains, monsters and wild animals in the ancient times.

“This is the longest running tourism promotion-related festival in the Bicol region that expresses warmth and goodwill to all people and encourages visitors and tourists to celebrate with the Legazpeños,” Rosal said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/cbd/