Thursday, February 27, 2014

SMC to manage and operate Aleco starting March 1
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) -- The San Miguel Electricity Corp. (SMEC) announced on Tuesday that it will fully assume the management and operation of the cash-strapped and debt-ridden Albay Energy Cooperative (Aleco) starting the first week of March.

Alan Marchan, the newly installed general manager of the Albay Power Energy Corp. (APEC) – the new name of Aleco, said that after conducting management, technical and operational audit of Aleco last January, SMC is now ready to fully take over the operation of the electric cooperative.

In a press conference Tuesday, Marchan said the SMEC is committed to assist the cooperative in transforming itself into an efficient and reliable power distribution utility.

He said the audit result conducted by their technical personnel revealed that the cooperative’s operation is saddled with technical problems, which include the "sorry state" of the cooperative’s power equipment and distribution lines, pilferage that led to high systems loss and poor collection performance.

The APEC chief said that based on the audit, their company’s priority program will be to bring down the systems loss to the allowable rate of 13 percent from the current 26 percent systems loss or Php 32.5 million in power losses.

The APEC will also upgrade its existing power sub-stations and distribution lines by substituting new equipment and clearing barriers in various distribution lines.

“The inventory indicates that almost 90 percent of the coop’s equipment is old and dilapidated,” Marchan said.

He said billing and collection systems will be enhanced by setting up 11 Bayad Centers in the 15 towns and three cities of the province.

“The centers will improve the current collection backlog,” the APEC official added.

Marchan said the cooperative’s current collection efficiency is only 50 percent, claiming that its monthly power bill payable is placed at Php 200 million while it can only collect Php 100 million.

He noted that Php18-million collectibles from the Barangay Power Associations in the third district of the province remains uncollected while a military detachment in the province has outstanding power bills for over two decades now.

Department of Energy data showed that Aleco’s financial losses started in 1995 due to collection inefficiency that amounted to Php2.4-billion.

In 2012 alone, this amounted to Php478 million.

The DOE estimated that financial losses due to systems loss amounted to Php1.9 billion and in 2012 alone, this amounted to Php240 million.

In the campaign against power pilferage, Marchan said 3,500 new electric meters have been installed while another 15,000 meters are scheduled to be set up in March in households with defective meters.

To further improve the delivery of service, it reorganized the whole personnel force where out of the 504 employees, 225 or 44 percent were re-hired and the rest were either retired or given their separation pay. (PNA) FPV/FGS/MSA/CBD/utb

DA, DILG impose blue crab ban
By Bobby Q. Labalan

SORSOGON CITY, Feb. 26 (PNA) -- Alarmed by the indiscriminate catching of blue swimming crabs (BSC), local authorities here have enforced the selective ban on catching and selling of this pelagic crustacean imposed recently by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The Joint DA-DILG Administrative Order No. 1-2014 sets a specific size of crabs that are allowed to be harvested or catch and at the same time imposes a closed season during which a total ban shall be in effect.

The joint order issued by DA Sec. Proceso Alcala and DILG Sec. Mar Roxas sets the allowed size of crabs at a minimum of 10.2 centimeters, or about 4 inches, carapace.

It also prohibits the catching of berried or egg-bearing crabs.

As defined in the joint order, “blue swimming crabs refer to what is locally known as ‘kasag’ which has rough and broadly flattened carapace and has single pair of chelae with three long ridged legs and a pair of modified legs as swimming paddles.

Generally, the color of the female is mottled green brown and the male is mottled blue.”

Upon the effectivity of the administrative order, all crab fishers shall register with their respective local government units for masterlisting, which shall also include information about the number of units per gear that they own, the length and size of the nets, DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas said.

Only single layer crab entangling nets with a minimum mesh size of 11 centimeters and crab nets with three centimeters stretch mesh are allowed together with crab pots or traps with minimum five centimeter hole diameter, Bragas further said, adding that berried crabs may be retained by the fishers provided they are placed in holding cages wherein they would be able to breed.

The order also directs crab buyers, traders and processors to first secure an auxiliary invoice and local transport permit (LTP) before they could legally transport or ship crabs from buying stations and meat-picking plants to processing plants.

A fine of P2,000 to P20,000 or imprisonment of six months to two years will be imposed against those who will violate the minimum size of the crab as well the sizes of the nets and traps, Bragas warned.

Boat captains and vessel owners are also subject to such penalties, plus possible cancellation of their permits and licenses, he added.

Violators of closed season or closed area provision face heavier penalties of six months to six years imprisonment and/or a fine of P6,000 plus cancellation of the permit or license while violation on berried crabs carries a penalty of six months to eight years imprisonment and a fine of P80,000, forfeiture of catch and fishing equipment used and revocation of license.

Traders who will fail to secure auxiliary invoice and LTP will face a penalty of P200 to P1,000 fine plus imprisonment of five to 10 days, Bragas cautioned.

The move was in accordance with the provisions of the Philippine Fisheries Code, Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act and the Blue Swimming Crab Management Plan, he added.(PNA) JBP/FGS/BQL/CBD/

DOST measures 'happiness at work' of BPO workers (Feature)

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is a growing industry in the Philippines that employs over 500,000 Filipinos, mostly young professionals.

These white-collar job workers are considered highly paid, enjoying quick promotions and waves of benefit packages but, are they happy with their jobs?

This is the question that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), has sought for an answer through a research study that measured the “happiness at work” in this thriving industry.

The study conducted recently by researchers Dr. Socorro Rodriguez and Dr. Nimfa Ogena is titled "Health and Social Policy Issues of BPO Workers in the Philippines: Is Happiness at Work Attainable?"

The duo looked into the health and social life of BPO workers using online questionnaires and proposed policy recommendations for them to have productive, healthy and happy lives.

Online questions included: How would you describe your current state of health? In your current work, how happy/unhappy are you in this company? Which problem(s) arising from BPO industry need to be addressed at present by the government?

Results of the study was obtained by the Philippines News Agency here through Jaime Ragos of the DOST’s Science and Technology Media Service.

Ragos said that based on the responses, the top three reasons why respondents joined the BPO workforce are high salary (77 percent), gain experience (65 percent) and benefits package (64 percent).

Respondents of the online survey, he said, totaled 698 BPO workers -- 51 percent were from Metro Manila, 21 percent from Cebu, 15 percent from Davao and 13 percent from North Luzon.

Majority of them were employed in call centers and the rest were into non-voice services such as back office, software development, medical transcription and engineering.

The study, according to Ragos, revealed that majority of the BPO respondents were of “average health” (50 percent) and “healthier than average” (25 percent).

BPO workers who are of “average health," according to Rodriguez, are those that are not afflicted with serious diseases, do not have hypertension, diabetes and other diseases and need not be hospitalized for treatment.

But they sometimes suffer from headaches, cough, and other minor ailments due to smoking and lack of sleep.

Meanwhile, BPO workers who are "healthier than average" are those who do not suffer from any ailment. Since most of the BPO workers are very young, they do not easily get tired, catch cough or suffer from headache and other minor ailments, Rodriguez explained.

Meanwhile, top social problems identified by the study include lack of quality time with family and friends, addiction to alcohol and smoking, and marital problems.

According to the respondents, they would rather sleep or rest during leisure time.

So, are BPO workers happy at work?

The study showed, Ragos said, that happiness at work is positively influenced by the importance given by a BPO worker on job productivity in the workplace and the mean number of hours of uninterrupted sleep.

And what makes BPO workers happy?

Ragos said that since many of the BPO workers are very young and fresh college graduates, their state of happiness rests on financial, medical, and social factors, the study revealed.

However, they are likely to leave their current BPO employer in the next 12 months for higher salary offered by other BPO companies, especially if they experience fatigue and stress due to overtime at their current work.

Their work activities are constantly monitored by strict supervisors.

The online survey was conducted in selected BPO companies and the research instrument was developed in collaboration with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP).

Seven BPO companies participated in the research: three from the National Capital Region (NCR), two from Luzon, one from Cebu and another one from Davao.

Respondents were selected by human resource managers, Ragos said.

He said the study also conducted a multi-sectoral forum held last September 2013 at the Pearl Hotel in Manila participated in by government, academe, and representatives of BPO companies.

The forum resulted in several policy recommendations and program interventions including: review of current health and safety guidelines for the BPO industry, technical assistance from appropriate government agencies, positioning of Filipinos competitively through training that allows for career development within the BPO industry, and the use of Philippine unit chrono questionnaire tools to identify workers who are really fit to work at night.

Although there have been social, health programs, and policies that the government implemented to protect BPO workers, not all are complied with by BPO companies, the study revealed. (PNA) SCS/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

Bicolano farmers are farm implement inventors, too
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Feb. 26 (PNA) -– A mechanical paddy weeder that is useful in making rice farming easier, more productive and more economical has been invented by two full-time Bicolano farmers from Ocampo, Camarines Sur.

The farmer-inventors are Carlito Aquino and Gil Pentrante who put their talents and skills together to come up with the machine that has earned praises and appreciations during its exhibition at the 1st National Congress on Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) in Manila last week.

Aquino, a former Philippine Army soldier who shifted to farming after his retirement from military service, is a community volunteer deputized by the Department of Agriculture (DA) under its Magsasaka Siyentista (farmer scientist) program and a leader of a local farmers' organization.

As a volunteer farmer-scientist, Aquino plays vital roles in serving as researcher and agricultural extension agent who showcases and promotes in his town both indigenous and science and technology-based agriculture, forestry and natural resources technologies based on his own farming experience.

Pentrante, who was once a machinist, on the other hand, is a deputized Local Farmer Technician (LFT) or a para-extension worker trained as among the partners and active players in the development and promotion of modern rice production and post-production technologies in the locality.

Abelardo Bragas, the regional executive director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based here, on Wednesday said the mechanical weeder developed by the duo has been tested to save on work-time for farmers and reduce labor cost by almost half compared to the manual practice.

It also aerates the soil while turning weeds back into the soil to decompose into fertilizer, thus, contributes to the over-all rice production efficiency of the farm, according to Bragas.

He described the machine as a four-row weeder designed for the prescribed rice-planting distance of 25x25 under the System of Rice Intensification or SRI scheme.

The design, Bragas said, is similar to the cono weeder with an engine, curved handle and four cage wheels or rotator and four balancers in front and two at the back.

The prototype weeder developed by Aquino and Pentrante is powered by a 50 cubic centimeter engine salvaged from a discarded motorcycle which consumes one liter of gasoline per hour.

The motor is mounted on top of the unit that can churn the weeds in a hectare of paddy within eight hours.

Bragas said the operation of the machine requires a team of three men-- one operator and two assistants to help in the hauling or lifting of the machine as its makes a turn at the end of each rice row.

Certainly, this newly-developed mechanical farm implement is more economical as it only requires a total amount of around P1,260 in expenses per hectare which is nearly 50 percent less compared to manual weeding that needs P2,500 for the labor of 10 persons to cover a hectare in one day, Bragas said.

The two farmer-inventors spent some P30,000 for the fabrication of the prototype machine with the larger bulk of the amount going to the purchase of the second-hand motorcycle engine, he said.

Himself an agricultural engineer, the DA regional chief said he is helping Aquino and Pentrante improve the invention by way of using a single-piston power motor to make it handy and lighter at the same time as well as reduce its fabrication cost.

“I am personally proud of these two Bicolano farmer-inventors for their initiative and innovations. I promised them support to further refine the invention and have it patented in their name,” Bragas said.

DA, he said, encourages farmers innovations and participation in the development of farm equipment and machinery and technologies to make them more appropriate to local conditions and for farmers to have the ownership for these innovations or inventions.

Bragas said he is also committed to have a palay shed-cum-workshop constructed at the farm of Aquino where he and Penetrante can further work on and polish their invention.

He also asked Luz Marcelino, the regional chief of the DA research division, to help the inventors in complying with the requirements in securing the patent for the invention.

Bragas said he has also directed the engineering division to extend the necessary technical assistance and the information division to help in the packaging and documentation of the invention. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Monday, February 24, 2014

DOST measures 'happiness at work' of BPO workers (Feature)

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is a growing industry in the Philippines that employs over 500,000 Filipinos, mostly young professionals.

These white-collar job workers are considered highly paid, enjoying quick promotions and waves of benefit packages but, are they happy with their jobs?

This is the question that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), has sought for an answer through a research study that measured the “happiness at work” in this thriving industry.

The study conducted recently by researchers Dr. Socorro Rodriguez and Dr. Nimfa Ogena is titled "Health and Social Policy Issues of BPO Workers in the Philippines: Is Happiness at Work Attainable?"

The duo looked into the health and social life of BPO workers using online questionnaires and proposed policy recommendations for them to have productive, healthy and happy lives.

Online questions included: How would you describe your current state of health? In your current work, how happy/unhappy are you in this company? Which problem(s) arising from BPO industry need to be addressed at present by the government?

Results of the study was obtained by the Philippines News Agency here through Jaime Ragos of the DOST’s Science and Technology Media Service.

Ragos said that based on the responses, the top three reasons why respondents joined the BPO workforce are high salary (77 percent), gain experience (65 percent) and benefits package (64 percent).

Respondents of the online survey, he said, totaled 698 BPO workers -- 51 percent were from Metro Manila, 21 percent from Cebu, 15 percent from Davao and 13 percent from North Luzon.

Majority of them were employed in call centers and the rest were into non-voice services such as back office, software development, medical transcription and engineering.

The study, according to Ragos, revealed that majority of the BPO respondents were of “average health” (50 percent) and “healthier than average” (25 percent).

BPO workers who are of “average health," according to Rodriguez, are those that are not afflicted with serious diseases, do not have hypertension, diabetes and other diseases and need not be hospitalized for treatment.

But they sometimes suffer from headaches, cough, and other minor ailments due to smoking and lack of sleep.

Meanwhile, BPO workers who are "healthier than average" are those who do not suffer from any ailment.

Since most of the BPO workers are very young, they do not easily get tired, catch cough or suffer from headache and other minor ailments, Rodriguez explained.

Meanwhile, top social problems identified by the study include lack of quality time with family and friends, addiction to alcohol and smoking, and marital problems.

According to the respondents, they would rather sleep or rest during leisure time.

So, are BPO workers happy at work?

The study showed, Ragos said, that happiness at work is positively influenced by the importance given by a BPO worker on job productivity in the workplace and the mean number of hours of uninterrupted sleep.

And what makes BPO workers happy?

Ragos said that since many of the BPO workers are very young and fresh college graduates, their state of happiness rests on financial, medical, and social factors, the study revealed.

However, they are likely to leave their current BPO employer in the next 12 months for higher salary offered by other BPO companies, especially if they experience fatigue and stress due to overtime at their current work.

Their work activities are constantly monitored by strict supervisors.

The online survey was conducted in selected BPO companies and the research instrument was developed in collaboration with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP).

Seven BPO companies participated in the research: three from the National Capital Region (NCR), two from Luzon, one from Cebu and another one from Davao.

Respondents were selected by human resource managers, Ragos said.

He said the study also conducted a multi-sectoral forum held last September 2013 at the Pearl Hotel in Manila participated in by government, academe, and representatives of BPO companies.

The forum resulted in several policy recommendations and program interventions including: review of current health and safety guidelines for the BPO industry, technical assistance from appropriate government agencies, positioning of Filipinos competitively through training that allows for career development within the BPO industry, and the use of Philippine unit chrono questionnaire tools to identify workers who are really fit to work at night.

Although there have been social, health programs, and policies that the government implemented to protect BPO workers, not all are complied with by BPO companies, the study revealed. (PNA) SCS/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

Whistleblower in plunder case vs 42 DPWH execs, employees seek PNoy’s help
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 23 (PNA) -- A lowly employee of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Bicol who had turned whistleblower and filed a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman in 2012 against 42 top executives and employees of his office is crying foul over the pressures he has been receiving.

Equipment operator Roberto Canezal of the Masbate Area Equipment Service has denounced efforts by the DPWH Central Office asking him to withdraw his complaint, prompting him to appeal to the Office of the President to look into his case.

“I am making this appeal as I just acted on the call of President Benigno S. Aquino III to tread the ‘Daang matuwid’,” he said.

Canezal said he had long run out of courage to fight for his case due to the absence of support from top officials at the DPWH.

He claimed he has to be always mobile and on-guard because of threats against his life.

Canezal said Saturday that he decided to seek the help of the Philippines News Agency (PNA) as he was already suspended for 90 days from his job as a result of his refusal to back off from his complaint, aside from the threats on him.

The whistleblower claimed that in August last year, DPWH lawyer Umbra Benaning from the Office of Secretary Rogelio Singson came to Masbate to see him and asked him to withdraw the plunder case against the executives and employees led by DPWH regional director Danilo Dequito.

Aside from Dequito, Canezal has charged, among others, Assistant Regional Director Jesus Salmo, Legal Officer Oliver Rodulfo, Area Equipment Regional Director Antonio Ruivivar, Area Equipment Assistant Regional Director Casimiro Castaneda, DPWH Regional Construction Division Chief Godofredo Beltran, Maintenance Division Chief Antonio Saguinsin, Administrative Division Chief Flordeliza Azotea, former Masbate District Engineer Elmer Redrico, Masbate Area Equipment Chief Eddie Potestad, and DPWH Regional Personnel Officer Teodora Losantas.

Dequito was appointed to the Bicol post in August 2010 following the election of President Aquino.

He said Benaning told him that Dequito had nothing to do with his suspension, saying it was all the handiwork of the DPWH regional legal officer.

Canezal said Benaning had told him that the fabricated administrative case filed against him by his superior could be withdrawn only if he would also withdraw the plunder complaint.

According to him, DPWH wants the plunder case withdrawn, fearing that the agency could be dragged to the Napoles scandal involving the P10-billion pork barrel senators and congressmen.

“Basta e-withdraw mo na ang kaso at tumahimik ka na lang at ‘wag nang mag-ingay pa against DPWH dahil maayos na ang takbo ng DPWH ngayon (Just withdraw the case and just be silent and don’t make noise about the DPWH because all’s is already well in the DPWH),” Canezal quoted Benaning as saying in Filipino.

He said he believed Singson had something to do with the mission of Benaning as, he said, that in the visitors’ log book at the Masbate District Engineering, the lawyer had written as his purpose: “to see Robert Canezal.”

The DPWH employee said Benaning was accompanied by a certain Andro Santiago, also from the office of Singson.

In his complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman on June 18, 2012, Canesal said the DPWH regional office held bidding on March 29, 2012 for the disposal of chop-chop equipment, machinery and tools declared as scrap and junk at the Masbate Area Equipment Service.

The bidding included the scrap and junk materials at the Area Equipment Service offices in Catanduanes and Camarines Norte.

The documents showed that Dequito awarded on March 30, 2012 the controversial scrap materials to one Benjamin Careon of IPE and Sons Equipment from Tarlac for a total bid amount of only P858,058.

In his complaint, Canezal also disclosed that being the only equipment operator, he was a collector of rentals of DPWH equipment leased to contractors but the collections were allegedly pocketed by his officials and divided among a few, including him.

He further revealed said that in cahoots with top regional officials in Legazpi City, a recommended procurement for rehabilitation of two drilling equipment worth P15 million was approved and the amount was collected without the delivery, saying the rehabilitation merely used recycled spare parts.

He said it was a normal and regular trade at the area equipment service office to subject operational equipment to pilferage and cannibalization, then declare them as scrap and junk to effect new procurement.

In early 2011, Canezal said a misunderstanding among the perpetrators erupted that he started reporting the scam to the regional office and the COA.

Dequito sent an investigator named Romeo Esplana, now retired, who confirmed in his explosive investigation report in 2011 the multimillion-peso equipment scam.

In a separate interview earlier with Esplana, he said the report was composed of 19 pages, backed up by 82 pages of photos, documents and witnesses’ testimony which, he said, he had officially submitted to Dequito on March 17, 2011, his assistant regional director Jesus Salmo, regional legal officer Oliver Rodulfo, and the Commission on Audit regional office.

This, however, had not been acted upon until a report came out that the physical evidence supposed to be preserved had been bid out as scrap and junk on March 29, 2012 or one year later.

Esplana said his report contained a strong recommendation for the creation of a fact-finding team composed of the National Bureau of Investigation, COA, DPWH, and witnesses but this was never acted upon.

Canezal, who is assigned at the Masbate Area Equipment Service as the lone equipment operator for 22 years, lamented that like in the case of the four small-time Overseas Filipino Workers, his efforts to be included in the Witness Protection Program have not also been acted upon.

He said he had lately received information that the administrative charge filed against him by his superior pending at the Civil Service Commission would have him convicted by dismissal from service in the absence of his witnesses who were afraid of the repercussions.

He admitted that he himself was very much involved in the decade-long scam allegedly tolerated by the local office of the commission on audit.

He said COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza and Whistleblowers Association of the Philippines president Sandra Cam, including a referral letter to the Ombudsman from then Senator Panfilo Lacson, have given him the extra courage not to surrender his case.

And he said he is now pinning his hope with the Office of the President. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/RSM

AFP junior officers stress they strictly uphold Honor Code
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 23 (PNA) -– Two junior officers of the country’s premier military institution said they strongly uphold the “Honor Code” to the fullest.

Major Angelo Guzman, former public information officer of the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division based in the Bicol region and now assistant chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s Public Affairs Office, said Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia violated their sacred pact Honor Code — the pillar of the institution which guides them to do right.

“It guides us to do right, it is as important as life itself. He violated the Honor Code System, that’s it,” he said Sunday.

Another PMA graduate, Major Arvin Alexander Buan, deputy commander of the Tactical Operations Group Bicol-Philippine Air Force (TOG5-PAF), said the Honor Code is an inviolable covenant and as such any violation committed by a cadet is a paramount grave offense which is not allowed by the academy.

Buan said that when a cadet is found guilty of not living up to the sanctity of the Honor Code he or she is given a chance or choice to resign as an honorable act rather than to stay in the institution or take the dose of his own medicine.

Guzman, who belongs to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Masikhay Class 1999, defended the Honor Code System, saying it is an unbending accord of the cadets and cadettes.

On his Facebook wall, Guzman also expressed his thoughts as member of the cavaliers.

“I am a PMAyer...I have the balls to face the consequences of all my words and actions,” the military junior officer said.

When asked on his comment regarding the euro military generals facing plunder cases and other high crimes for not living up to the standards of the PMA’s honor code, Guzman timidly said others forget the sacred covenant.

“Others forget. It’s a big organization, We are also a mirror of the society na kung saan may mabait, may otherwise...pero how I wish every graduate will hold on to their pledge to protect and serve the country and the people as well as to practice the Honor Code even after graduation,” he added.

The rosy future of Cudia, who is supposed to be the PMA class salutatorian this year and is the top cadet to join the elite unit of Philippine Navy, has been wasted after he violated the revered and incontestable Honor Code of the academy, Guzman said.

Cudia was suspended for this violation and not for being two-minute late, for which he has already served the punishment.

“A cadet found guilty of violating the Honor Code is equivalent to one losing his face. So, you’re given a choice to resign as this is a more honorable act rather than to stay. If you choose to stay in the institution, you must suffer the consequences of your action,” Buan said.

The Honor Code, according to him, is not only the pillar of the cadets but a binding principle among the officers’ corps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/RSM

Friday, February 21, 2014

DOLE provides more assistance to Bicol child laborers
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) – The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Thursday that the agency is providing more livelihood assistance to families of children engaged in child labor in the region.

The latest assistance is under the Kabuhayan Para Sa Mga Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa (KASAMA), a program of the of the Aquino administration that aims to prevent and eliminate child labor by providing families of child laborers with decent livelihood opportunities.

Being implemented as one of the regular projects under DOLE’s Kabuhayan Program, its primary target beneficiaries are parents or elder brothers/sisters of child laborers who are of employable age.

Beneficiaries should participate in group activities including social preparation, trainings and actual project implementation.

They shall express their willingness to remove or not engage their children or younger siblings in hazardous or exploitative labor.

“We are now processing the livelihood assistance initially for 400 families of child laborers in the region identified through the latest Listahanan or the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),” DOLE regional sirector Nathaniel Lacambra, said.

Listahanan is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are in the country.

The system makes available to national government agencies and other social protection stakeholders a database of poor families as reference in identifying potential beneficiaries of social protection programs.

It was formulated in order for the government to equitably distribute its resources and services to the poor.

With the system, the issue of leakage or non-poor being included and deprivation or poor being excluded as beneficiaries of social services is addressed.

A recent study cited by the World Bank revealed that poorly targeted social services result in the exclusions of the poor from necessary social services and the waste of resources on those who are not actually poor.

In the NHTS-PR survey spearheaded by the DSWD, a total of 775,014 households in Bicol were assessed and 461,242 of them were identified as poor from where about 300,000 working children 5-17 years old and exposed to hazardous labor belong.

KASAMA is only one of the livelihood programs that DOLE is implementing to address the problem on child labor in Bicol and the 400 identified beneficiaries are only the initial that need immediate attention.

The same number of children belonging to these families was also beneficiaries of Project Angel Tree, a feeding and gift-giving activity for child laborers spearheaded by DOLE-Bicol in cooperation with private establishments.

Livelihood assistance preferred under the KASAMA project, Lacambra said, involves viable or marketable product or services such as food processing and other consumer products; processing of environment-friendly commodities like herbal drugs, organic fertilizer and other agricultural-based products; and usage of indigenous resources in the manufacture of handicraft and souvenir items.

DOLE-Bicol is also in the process of implementing HELP ME, a four-year program of the Aquino administration that intends to eliminate child labor in the country.

HELP stands for health, education, livelihood, and prevention/ protection/ prosecution, while ME stands for monitoring and evaluation.

Its implementation would contribute to the realization of the country's ultimate Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of eradicating poverty through decent work

Implemented under a proposed budget of P9 billion from 2013 to 2016, HELP ME is a convergence program that would apply a community-based approach against child labor in bringing down the government’s child labor programs and services in the barangay level.

The program is now being implemented in several barangays in Masbate where child labor in mining and fishing, among other jobs hazardous to children, are rampant.

At least 15 barangays in the province, particularly in the municipalities of Aroroy and Cawayan, are already receiving assistance for poor households whose children are forced to work to earn family living under the DOLE’s Child Labor-Free Barangay Campaign.

HELP ME is expanding this coverage to more barangays affected by the child labor menace.

Records show that Masbate has around 20,000 working children mostly engaged in small-scale mining, particularly in the gold-rich town of Aroroy.

Others are distributed among the province’s coastal communities where they are involved in fishing activities. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Bicol top cop pushes local police chiefs into accomplishing targets or get sacked
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb 20 (PNA) – Philippine National Police Bicol regional director Victor Deona is pushing provincial and municipal police chiefs into accomplishing their regular performance targets, otherwise they will be removed from their respective posts.

“Their monthly accomplishments will be evaluated and those who will be found out to have not met their targets by the end of the quarter will be replaced,” Deona, whose office is based at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola -- the police regional headquarters, on Thursday told the PNA.

The evaluation process involves the accomplishments of all police field units in the region in their anti-criminality campaign, police-community relations (PCR), gender awareness, community organization and mobilization, police assistance and personnel development, he said.

Under this year’s target for anti-criminality, each municipal or city chief should recover at least one unlicensed or loose firearm—either surrendered or confiscated—per month.

For police offices covering capital towns, cities or bigger and urbanized localities, the monthly firearm target is higher at three so that the overall result would hit the goal of three percent per month in the reduction of loose firearms in the region, according to Deona.

Based on police records collated through latest intelligence reports and list of un-renewed gun licenses, there are about 30,000 loose firearms in Bicol.

Of the total, some 11,000 of them are in Camarines Sur, the biggest in number compared to the other five provinces of the region.

Albay comes next with 7,829, followed by Masbate with 4,403; Camarines Norte, 2,860; Sorsogon, 2,777; and Catandunes, 694.

Also under the anti-criminality campaign is the fight against illegal drugs wherein police stations covering smaller municipalities are expected to apprehend at least one drug personality in possession of prohibited stuff per month.

Higher target of at least two is set for urban towns and cities.

This is to reduce the supply and demand of illegal drugs in the region by at least five percent per month, Deona explained.

Each chief of police must also initiate at least one successful operation against illegal gambling and logging in their respective areas of responsibility with corresponding case filed in court each month while the same number of accomplishment is set against illegal fishing in coastal municipalities or cities.

In illegal logging, recovered “abandoned” forest products would be credited as an accomplishment, he clarified.

In the implementation of the Police Integrated Patrol System, each police office needs to conduct 31 foot patrols and 31 mobile patrols each month, as well as a total of 12 checkpoints or three times a week.

They are also required to conduct four Oplan Bakal Operations each month under the task of recovering loose firearms and checking the carrying of firearms in prohibited places like entertainment houses.

Deona has obliged local police offices to reduce their respective index crime volume by at least 10 incidents per quarter based on each town’s baseline index crime for 2013.

Furthermore, each has to have a Crime Solution Efficiency of 35 percent and Crime Clearance Efficiency of 50 percent.

A crime is considered cleared if the case has been filed although the suspect is still at large while a crime is considered solved if the case has been filed and the suspect has been arrested.

In the arrest of wanted persons, all police offices have been given a target of five percent of the total number of wanted persons not arrested in 2013 plus those covered by arrest warrants for 2014.

To strengthen these campaigns, PCR activities must be conducted at least once a month by each police office.

These community relation activities must be in line with the PNP PCR Master Plan that mandates, among others, the implementation of Oplan Santinig, a police mission to provide adequate, accurate, relevant and timely information about the PNP programs and activities and to clarify these issues through the tri-media.

Under this mission, each police office has been given a monthly target of four police institutional information, three community awareness lectures and dialogues or “pulong-pulong,” three lectures on Violence Against Women and Children and one Gender Awareness Development seminar or workshop.

The Master Plan also provides the implementation of Oplan Sambayan whose mission is to organize the different community sectors, and forge a united front against crime, insurgency and other forms of lawlessness.

Through this Oplan, each police office is expected to hold per month one seminar on Barangay Peacekeeping Operations and mobilize one Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team into participation in at least four environmental protection and preservation activities in the community.

The PCR Master Plan’s components, Deona explained, involve awareness and education wherein communities are subjected to face-to-face interactions to educate, enlighten and create an understanding of the police programs.

The principal purpose of PCR activities is to awaken citizen responsibility in the peace and order effort and to the national development programs, he said.

Police office chiefs in any of the 107 municipalities and seven cities as well as provincial directors of the six provinces in the province who fail to achieve their targets by the end of each quarter will be automatically relieved, Deona stressed. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Salceda admits Green Climate Fund has gargantuan task to do

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda, Green Climate Fund board co-chair, admitted that the GCF has a gargantuan task to do but he assured everybody that it is strong and solid to face any challenge for the sake of the countries seriously affected by climate change.

"The board and the secretariat consistently work together to produce results that address the aspirations of our 'climate-challenged' people and planet," Salceda told the PNA Thursday.

He said that industry, patience and dedication are the imperatives of the task.

"Though it's tough, we have to face the challenge," the economist governor added.

The GCF, he said, will draw its strength from the board to answer the needs of its clients, like the poor countries that are greatly at risk due to climate change.

Salceda said the deep and meaningful comments of the members of the brilliant GCF team during the ongoing sixth meeting of the board in Bali, Indonesia, serves as an inspiration to him.

He expressed confidence that up to the last day of the board's meeting, the productive discussions will bear results owing to the intellectual contributions of every board member.

"The GCF should not fail because the future of the countries greatly affected by climate change lies on it," the environment champion stressed.

He also urged civil society organizations, private groups and all sectors of the society to contribute their knowledge and recommendations that will add something in the formulation of the plans, programs and policies of the GCF for the success of its mission.

"The Green Climate Fund is 'our' fund. We cannot afford to fail! Our people cannot afford a failure," Salceda underscored.

He assured that all are equal in the discussion on climate change, whether one is a poor or a rich country as, he said, all issues will be given attention for the benefit of all.

The GCF board co-chair said the Fund is an open book.

"Transparency will be the hallmark of this chairmanship and the work is intensive but extremely satisfying, with consultations that we will continue," Salceda emphasized.

He thanked the officials of Indonesia for their hospitality and full support to the GCF, his co-chair, executive director, secretariat and people working for the GCF.

The Albay governor expressed his full appreciation of the beauty of Bali, Indonesia.

He also appreciated the recognition given by the GCF to Albay for its climate change adaptation practices and the humanitarian mission of TEAM Albay-Office of Civil Defense 5 in areas ravaged by natural calamities like super typhoon "Yolanda" that hard hit the provinces of Leyte and Samar. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/UTB

Butandings post 90 recorded appearances in Albay Gulf waters in past 2 weeks

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- A total of 90 appearances of whale sharks in the waters off the Albay Gulf, some 30 meters from the shorelines of the Legazpi Boulevard, have been recorded in the past two weeks, Bem Redito, city butanding interaction officer, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Redito said the presence of whale sharks was first noted during the first week of the month with six sighted, followed by another two in the second week.

The eight whale sharks, with measurements ranging from six meters to 13 meters long, have been frolicking at the shorelines of the Legazpi Boulevard, bringing in hundreds of viewers daily since Feb. 2, he said.

Redito said that since the first appearance of the gentle giant fishes, at least 40 foreign tourists from Europe, Germany, United States, Japan, Singapore and Korea visit the city daily to watch and interact with the whale sharks.

Asked if these butandings came from the coastal waters of Donsol town in Sorsogon, Redito said the butandings appearing in this city are still juvenile or not fully grown and are not from Sorsogon, citing a photo identification conducted recently by the WWF.

Tourism and business in this city have been on the upbeat for almost three weeks now since the gentle sea creatures first appearance.

City Mayor Noel Rosal said in an interview that hundreds of local and foreign tourists watch in awe these playful sea creatures swimming and exhibiting their white-dotted bodies about 500 meters off the shorelines of the Legazpi City Boulevard in the vicinity of the coastal villages of Dapdap, Puro and Lamba.

Rosal said that with the influx of foreign visitors as well as local tourists, he issued an executive order regulating the watching and interaction with the friendly sea creature.

The code was made in response to the wrong practice engaged by some foreign visitors while interacting with the butanding by either riding at the back of the sea mammal or feeding them.

As a result, two butanding interaction officers and two boatmen were suspended for allowing foreign tourists to ride on the whale shark despite the guidelines his office had issued.

Rosal said the code of conduct is based on the guidelines laid down by the World Wildlife Fund which prohibits the practice of touching, riding on and feeding the whale shark, restricting the movement of the whale shark, taking underwater photography with a flush, and using of scuba apparatus, scooters, jet ski or any motorized underwater gadgets.

Swimmers interacting with the butanding are allowed to swim along with the creature at a distance of four meters from the tail and three meters from the head and body.

Joan Encinares, the city tourism officer, said in an interview that in order to strictly enforce the code, they have trained and accredited 14 butanding boatmen and boats with white and red flags bearing the city government seal.

She said that under the guidelines, non-accredited sea crafts and boatmen will not be allowed to engage in any interaction activity or get near the whale shark.

The daily whale shark interaction is only allowed from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The city government has also regulated the interaction fees at: P1,000 per small boat for two guests and P1,500 for big boats to accommodate four or more guests, including a P100 registration fee, Encinares said.

Legazpi Boulevard is a major road network by the bay where business establishments such as resto-grille, videoke bars and refreshment parlors line up along the five-kilometer boulevard.

Chito Ante, city business consultant, said in an interview said that income from businesses at the boulevard is increasing as their operations went on 24/7.

The presence of whale sharks here has been attributed to the abundance of plankton, the food they eat, in the Albay Gulf, Rosal said.

Donsol town in Sorsogon has been tagged by tourism authorities as the Butanding Capital of the country because of the presence of several whale sharks measuring 14 meters long.

Butanding season is observed in February until March where thousands of local and foreign visitors spend their holidays in Donsol town, some 47 kilometers from this city.

However, last year, the sightings of butanding at the coastal waters of Donsol dwindled because of the rising sea temperature due to climate change, stress and lack of food.

Alan Amanse, Donsol BIO board chairperson, confirmed in an earlier interview that the rising sea temperature, stress and insufficient plankton are the factors that cause the whale sharks to transfer to cooler areas and swim to the deep sea or look for areas with abundant food.

He said because of this condition, the sightings of butanding in Donsol has considerably dropped from eight sightings the previous year to only two during the first half of last year, endangering the tourism industry of the town.

Amanse claimed that sea temperature rise has significantly increased from the ideal temperature range 26 to 27 degrees to 29 to 30 degrees last year.

Currently, there are only two eight-meter long and two-meter wide whale sharks swimming off Donsol waters.

They are “Curly,” a butanding with curly dorsal fin, and “Lucky,” with a nylon cord tied on the tail.

“Wala na 'yong mga malalaki measuring 14-meters long, and gone are the likes of the famous “Putol” and “Nognog,” Amanse said.

Another cause for the depletion, he lamented, is that the butandings are suffering from stress because of the many interaction events that the BIOs conducted during the butanding season which is held in May and December.

Rey Aquino, town councillor, claims that the rampant gathering of plankton by fisherfolk and the presence of ecoli contamination in the Donsol river due to existence of household toilets along riverbanks contributed further in the problem of scarcity of food (plankton) in the butanding feeding grounds. (PNA) FPV/FGS/MSA/CBD/UTB

Albay has most number of TESDA schools, training centers among Bicol provinces

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- Albay province has the most number of schools and training centers under the Technical Education and Skills Development Administration (TESDA) in Bicol, the regional spokesperson of the agency said Thursday.

Rose Perida said the Bicol region has seven TESDA schools -- two in Albay and one each in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Sorsogon and Masbate.

On the other hand, there are four training centers, two of which are in Albay -- one in Guinobatan town and the other in Malilipot -- and one each in Pili, Camarines Sur, and Labo, Camarines Norte.

There are also private technical vocational schools, which, Perida said, cannot operate if not registered with TESDA.

She disclosed that TESDA Bicol is aiming to be ISO certified before the year 2014 ends, based on the program of their office.

The TESDA Bicol official said that of the 17 TESDA regional offices in the whole country, Bicol is among the remaining six that need to be ISO compliant this 2014.

Perida said their office is continuously preparing for the ISO certification; in fact, she said, all TESDA provincial offices in the region have already undergone internal audit.

In addition, the TESDA spokesperson added, they are also improving the physical appearance of their buildings.

The ISO certification requirements also include the two primary programs of their office: program registration and competency assessment certification.

Perida said it is very important that the programs of TESDA be ISO compliant in order for Filipino technical workers to be globally competitive.

She said TESDA gives competency assessment certification that vouches for the ability of a worker after finishing a training.

Once the trainee passes, the TESDA will give him a National Competency Certification as a proof that he is a skilled worker like the Overseas Filipino Workers and will be branded as a Global Pinoy skilled worker. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/UTB

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Salceda to declare Albay as rebel-free province
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 18 (PNA) -- With the silence of the New People's Army rebels in Albay during the past few months, Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said Tuesday that he is set to declare the province as insurgency free soon.

Albay is where the bulk of rebels had concentrated in the past decades -- specifically in the '80s.

“Albay will be the first insurgency-free province in the country under the helm of President Benigno Aquino,” the governor said.

His pronouncement came after the province opened its door as an international gateway for chartered flights from other countries early this month.

Salceda also underscored the development projects going on in the countryside and expressed belief that this will eventually solve the four-decade insurgency problem in the province.

The concurrent Regional Development Council chairman said development through infrastructure projects and investments can hasten economic growth in the hinterlands.

The provincial government of Albay, in partnership with Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade under Col. Raul Farnacio, has launched a series of development programs dubbed as “Countryside Development Caravan."

The initiative is being done in coordination with local government units, nongovernment organizations, Office of the Civil Defense, national government agencies and uniformed services to push economic development in far-flung areas, thus, rendering the presence of rebels here irrelevant.

Salceda said the caravan is the initiative of the provincial government based on the "Pledge of an Albayano" to make the province the most livable place in the country.

The caravan is a multi-discipline partnership of the government to give free medical and dental mission and provide livelihood development training, animal health services and information education campaign to the people residing in far-flung areas here.

Before the launch of the countryside development caravan here, the provincial government and the Philippine Army rolled out the Kalayaan sa Barangay Program (KBP) to bring basic services to communities.

Under the KBP, Army engineers have constructed school buildings, electrification systems, water systems and farm-to-market roads.

Aside from development projects, the government troops have beefed up security to prevent NPA rebels from extorting from contractors of development projects in Bicol.

Salceda said the development programs, disaster and rescue operations, and respect for human rights have drastically diminished the influence of the CPP-NPA in Bicol, specifically in Albay.

Earlier, AFP Chief of Staff general Emmanuel T. Bautista lauded the efforts of government forces in Southern Luzon, specifically in Albay, for achieving peace in the countryside.

In terms of disaster preparedness, Albay leads the way as first disaster responders. (PNA) FPV/FGS/RBB/cbd/

Butanding presence in Albay Gulf perks up business in Legazpi

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 19 (PNA) -- The presence of whale sharks locally called "butanding" at Albay Gulf here is perking up business and entrepreneurs along the five-kilometer Legazpi City boulevard have been raking in better income since last week.

Lisa Cargullo, a "buko" (young coconut) vendor in Puro village, said they are operating 24 hours now as more people and tourists are swarming the boulevard to watch the whale sharks that have provided excitement and entertainment to spectators.

“Since February 14 until today we have been sleepless because a lot of people are coming here to see the playfulness of the butanding while foreign tourists are interacting with the whale sharks,” Cargullo said.

She said they are happy that the local business is booming, owing to big tourist arrivals in the city since the resurgence of butanding -- their third appearance in the city waters since 2010.

With the majestic Mayon volcano providing the background, the presence of butanding indeed provide a double treat to tourists -- not to mention the other tourist attractions in the province of Albay that would complete their trip.

Thus, brisk business spilled over to other areas of the province, benefiting both small and big businesses.

With the influx of foreign tourists here, Mayor Noel E. Rosal has enforced stringent measures on how to appreciate seeing or interacting with the whale shark after foreign visitors rode at the back of a butanding on Saturday afternoon despite the code of conduct implemented by the city government of Legazpi.

As a result also, Rosal suspended two butanding interaction officers and two boatmen for allowing the foreign tourists to ride on the whale shark despite the guidelines his office had issued.

“We’re strictly enforcing the guidelines not only to protect the whale sharks but also because we don’t want to disturb their natural feeding habitat. And so, we don’t want the repetition of what happened in Oslob, Cebu, where the locals and tourists rode on the butanding, which disturbed their natural way of feeding and caused stress to the gentle mammals,” he said.

“Butanding is one of the endangered rare sea creatures in the world so we need to safeguard them not only because they’re giving us livelihood but also because we want to preserve and, if possible, increase their population for our upcoming generations,” Rosal added.

The code of conduct was issued by the mayor a day after a school of theses gentle giant sea creatures appeared at the ritzy waterfront of Embarcadero de Legazpi and the seaside areas of Puro, Dapdap and Lamba villages here.

The guidelines asked tourists, swimmers and divers not to touch or ride on the whale shark nor restrict its movement or impede its natural path to ensure its safety.

The rules also recommended that the distance from the animals that divers should maintain is three meters away from its tail.

Similarly, Rosal directed the Integrated Coastal Resource Management Unit led by former councilor Chito Ante to see to it that the COC is strictly followed and observed.

Ante said his office is adopting the Standard Operating Protocol in responding to emergencies involving whale sharks like stranding incidents.

Other prohibited acts are the use of flash in taking underwater photographs as well as the use of scooters, jet ski or any motorized underwater propulsion so as not to cause even minimal disturbance to the sharks.

Everyday, the Legazpi City boulevard is jam-packed with local and foreign tourists as the playfulness of the butanding could be seen just 100 meters away from the shoreline of Albay Gulf.

As foreign and local tourists thronged here, Rosal said he will limit the whale shark interaction from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. so as not to stress the gentle creatures.

“We will strictly enforce the guidelines, and even elected and government officials should follow the rules, like they cannot interact or use any boat for interaction. They should register with our tourism office,” Rosal stressed.

The presence of butanding in Albay Gulf, specifically in Legazpi waters, first happened in February 2010, when two of them stayed for a week in the waters of Legazpi.

This year, the number of butanding increased from two to nine.

Since the re-appearance of butanding on Monday last week, the five-kilometer boulevard spanning from the beachfront leisure and commercial center Embarcadero de Legazpi to Lamba area has been picture of a festival.(PNA) LAP/FGS/RBB/CBD/UTB

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

3 brothers nabbed for drugs in Masbate City

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Feb. 17 (PNA) -– Three brothers were arrested by joint operatives of the Masbate Provincial Police Office, Masbate City Police Office, Regional Intelligence Division 5 and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 5 in a raid conducted at Barangay Ibingay, Masbate City, on Sunday afternoon.

A police report identified the suspects as Anthony, 27, alias Toni; Tristan, 30, alias Biboy; and Alex, 22, alias Patoy -- all surnamed Villanueva and residents of the village.

The report said the raid was conducted at about 2:30 p.m. against the three brothers who were reportedly known drug pushers in the Masbate City.

The authorities were armed with Warrant of Arrest No. 2014-1 for violation of RA 9165, or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, issued by Judge Maximino R. Ables of Regional Trial Court Branch 47 of Masbate City.

Recovered from the Villanuevas were five plastic sachets of suspected shabu, P5,240 cash, a cellphone, a .22-caliber pistol, bullets and drug paraphernalia.

Police said Anthony and Tristan are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the drug watch list of the city.

The three were brought to the MCPO for the filing of appropriate charges.(PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

DSWD trains 21,655 Bicolanos as community implementers

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 17 (PNA)--The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol Regional Office has initiated the training of 21,655 residents of 591 barangays on managing community-based sub-projects (SPs) under Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) project.

The first cycle of the project, which started in 2012, is being implemented in five provinces -- Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon and Catanduanes with 10,831; 3,203; 3,931 and 1520 of local residents trained, respectively.

Of these, 2,348 are Pantawid Pamilya Parent Leaders who are actively involved in the whole process of the project.

According to DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia, prior to the actual implementation, appropriate community training sessions are provided to selected project volunteers.

DSWD-hired workers, with the help of other government agencies and local government units (LGUs), train them in basic community finance, procurement, project development, operations and maintenance with an annual funding of P27,000 for each barangay from the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the World Bank.

He said the elected group of community residents called Barangay Subproject Management Committee (BSPMC) is trained on ensuring proposed community SPs such as roads, health stations, fishing boats, cable bridges, schools, day care centers, disaster risk reduction-related SPs and water systems are completed and maintained.

“These training sessions safeguard transparency, accountability and participation of community implementers with the engagement of the LGU at the barangay, municipal and provincial levels,” Garcia said.

Crispina Cacidilla, a volunteer of Barangay Malbong in Gainza, Camarines Sur, on the other hand, said they were able to construct a production center for handicraft with an amount of P745,030.08 last 2013.

“As a housewife, I’m happy to serve my neighborhood. Those trainings are helpful,” Cacidilla said.

Through the barangay assembly, more than 20 members of the BSPMC are elected for each community.(PNA) PDS/FGS/MDR/CBD/

Legazpi City to install digital traffic lights

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 17 (PNA) --Mayor Noel E. Rosal has approved the proposed installation of digital traffic lights in major street intersections in the city due to the continuous ballooning population and increasing number of vehicles.

Rosal said the installation of the digital traffic lights will start anytime this year after the completion of all the necessary requirements, permits and clearances.

The proposed project is part of the modernization of traffic system in this city that will cover the areas of intersections and road junctions in Rizal Avenue, Alternate Road, Ramon Santos Street, Rizal Street, Fr. J. Bates Street, F. Aquende Drive, Airport Road junction, B.S. Imperial Drive junction, Binanuahan Road junction, Lakandula Drive, Peñaranda Street and Bogtong Road junction.

Rosal disclosed that this project is also part of the preparation for the opening of the Southern Luzon International Airport that is expected to bring a huge number of tourist personalities from different parts of the world who want to spend their vacation in this city and Albay.

Upon completion and once the SLIA is operational, Legazpi will become the gateway of Bicol and all the visitors will stay first in this city before they go to the other places in the region, the city chief executive explained.

Rosal said the proposed installation of the digital traffic lights is designed to improve and promote the safe and smooth flow of vehicular traffic along the road network in order to lessen or prevent road accidents.

It will also decongest the traffic situation, particularly in the downtown area of the city, and hasten the movement of transactions and other activities of the commuters.

“Once this project is realized, we will experience a very comfortable joy riding with lesser travel time going to the point of destination,” Rosal claimed.

This project will also serve as a welcome addition to the many landmarks established by his administration during the past years as city chief executive, which have benefited the community and resulted in Legazpi being one of the strong modern cities and best haven for investments in the region, Rosal pointed out.

Based on the feasibility study made by the City Planning and Development Office, the estimated cost of the project is P18 million.

The goals and objectives of this study is to provide economical, high-quality transportation to all commuters and motorists and to give them an efficient, service effective, cost effective and reliable transportation facilities.

The project proposal was prepared by engineer Rey Benedict Rico of the CPDO.(PNA) PDS/FGS/EPS/CBD/

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mayor Rosal orders security for water channel where whale sharks feed
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 17 (PNA) -– Mayor Noel E. Rosal here on Monday ordered the city government’s Integrated Coastal Resource Management Unit (ICRMU) to fully secure from uncalled for activities the coastal water channel where whale sharks that currently inhabit city waters feed on plankton.

“We want Poliqui Bay conserved by way of protecting it from illegal fishing activities, water pollution and other wrongdoings that could negatively affect its being the feeding area of whale sharks now inhabiting our waters,” Rosal told the PNA.

Poliqui Bay is host to several river channels draining into Albay Gulf and plankton develop at the mouth of these rivers.

Extending from the shorelines of Barangay Puro to Barangay Buenavista, 10 kilometers away, Poliqui’s seabed is rich in sea grass while its shoreline teems with mangroves, making it a habitat for various marine species.

Poliqui Bay attracts whale sharks owing to its plankton and other marine resources, thus, the conservation and protection of its biodiversity become necessary and urgent, Rosal said.

Poliqui Bay is also an ecotourism destination for its various dive sites — the Malaya and Pulang Buya Reefs, Kabunturan, Sagogorong, Maslog Out, Maslog In, Sadit na Masolog, Dakula na Masolog and Canal.

“I toured Poliqui Bay over the weekend and saw fishing installations like cages encroaching reefs and coral colony patches that need to be dismantled in favor of the area’s fragile marine ecosystem,” Rosal said.

These installations also offer obstacles to the movement of whale sharks that is why the ICRMU is under instructions to apply an iron hand in its enforcement of marine, fishery and environmental laws against illegal and non-tolerable activities, he said.

The city mayor has also organized a detachment now deployed along the Bay for monitoring, enforcement and rescue operations manned 24/7 and equipped with two fast crafts.

Rosal has also reiterated his instruction to the ICRMU to strictly implement the whale shark interaction guidelines he issued in the wake of the arrival of a pod of the “gentle giants of the ocean” in the area.

The guidelines carry a “Code of Conduct” in dealing with the enormous sea mammals that, since its first public appearance near the waterfront of Embarcadero de Legazpi adjoining the city harbor last Feb. 10, have been continuously hanging around nearby sites along the Legazpi Boulevard.

The four-kilometer boulevard that fronts Albay Gulf and stretches from Embarcadero de Legazpi to Barangay Puro is the newest leisure spot that serves as a daily rendezvous for tourists and locals for its fresh ocean air and picturesque setting with the majestic Mt. Mayon on the background.

The coming of the whale sharks has become an added attraction, drawing hundreds of tourists rushing to go seaborne for underwater interactions and, Rosal stressed in the guidelines, that “to ensure safety and enjoyable experience and to prevent the animals from being disturbed, the Code of Conduct must be observed.”

“First, do not touch or ride on the whale shark nor restrict its movement or impede its natural path. The recommended distance from the animals that divers should maintain is three meters from its tail,” the city mayor said.

While whale sharks are passive creatures, they can be agitated by any form of aggression such as being touched or chased that is why in the Code, these behaviors are strictly forbidden, he explained.

Rosal warned that although whale sharks are harmless, their sheer size makes it necessary for the divers to exercise caution around them, especially at the tail end.

Other acts that are forbidden during interactions, Rosal said, are the use of flash in taking underwater photographs and the use of scuba, scooters, jet ski or any motorized underwater propulsion so as not to cause even minimal disturbance to the sharks when approaching it by boat or when diving.

Thousands of divers seek out this opportunity and this Code of Conduct guides them how, for their own safety and that of the whale sharks, locally called butandings, he said.

“We have also organized whale shark interaction units composed of experienced boatmen and divers to serve as guides to tourists who are frantically seeking the experience,” he added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Salceda addresses ADB confab on readiness, preparedness in Bali
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 17 (PNA) -– Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, Green Climate Fund co-chair, thanked the World Resources Institute and the Asian Development Bank in organizing the meeting of finance and economic ministers from 154 developing countries and 23 developed countries in Bali Dusa Nua Convention Center, Bali, Indonesia, today, Monday.

The meeting is a side event prior to the official opening of the sixth GCF board meeting starting tomorrow up to February 21.

In a statement sent to the PNA Monday, Salceda said the result of today’s meeting is important to the GCF board in connection with the formulation of guidelines, rules and regulations on the implementation of the fund.

He said it is timely for the GCF board meeting proper as it will serve as a guide and clarify the policies on accessing the GCF and the climate financial needs of developing countries or countries greatly affected by climate change based on conditions required.

“In fact, it is the poor nations that have been long and most affected by the situation,” the economist governor stressed.

Salceda said it is but proper to give these countries access to the fund, based on their needs, as a consequence of climate change.

“The effects of climate change have been mounting, especially in poor nations,” the disaster risk reduction expert said.

He gave as example super typhoon “Haiyan” or “Yolanda” that hit the country last year.

Salceda noted that as a result, these nations, especially the Philippines, have crafted their own National Action Plan or National Adaptation Plan of Action.

He stressed that the ball is now in the hands of the GCF.

It needs a fast and comprehensive action on the needs of these victim-countries as the primary client-recipients of the Fund.

The co-chair of the 24-member GCF board believes that the needs-based approach is the key to the fast and effective way towards the realization of the objectives of the GCF.

“I hope we will have a fruitful meeting as part of the GCF sixth summit here in Bali,” said Salceda, who arrived in the venue on Saturday morning.

He and Manfred Konukiewitz of Germany, GCF board co-chair, were the early birds for the Fund’s meeting.

The board is expected to tackle initial modalities for the operation of the Fund’s mitigation and adaptation windows and the private sector facility; additional result areas and indicators for adaptation activities; initial results management framework of the Fund, policies and procedures for the initial allocation of Fund resources; terms of reference of the Independent Evaluation Unit, Independent Integrity Unit and independent redress mechanism; and progress reports on other essential requirements for the initial resource mobilization, he added.

Also to be discussed are the options for a Fund-wide gender-sensitive approach; detailed program of work on readiness and preparatory support; financial terms and conditions of grants and concessional loans; and status of resources. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/

Daraga town makes Cagsawa Dos Siglos Festival smoke free
By Connie B. Destura

DARAGA, Albay, Feb. 17 -- As this municipality celebrates Cagsawa Dos Siglos, the local government unit here, with the help of the Rural Health Unit and the Smoke-Free Task Force, will strictly implement its Anti-Smoking Ordinance during the said event.

The LGU plans to put more “No Smoking” signages within the locality to increase public awareness and protect the public from being victims of second-hand smoking.

Councilor Mark Magalona, tourism and cultural affairs committee chair and in-charge of the Cagsawa Festival activities, pledged to reproduce several layout copies of “No Smoking” signages provided by Add+Vantage Community Team Services.

And as a non-smoker, Magalona said, he will certainly help in the Smoke-Free campaign in any way he can, not only in Daraga but also in the whole province.

“The Anti-Smoking Ordinance was already tackled and discussed during the executive committee,” he told the Philippines News Agency (PNA) on Monday.

Councilor Mabel Tan also agreed to put more “No Smoking” signages.“The more signages, the better,” Tan said.

She added that the LGU is open to any plans and proposals that will be given by the RHU and/or Add+Vantage Community Team Services with regard to the implementation of the ordinance.

As a member of the Smoke-Free Task Force, the Daraga Municipal Police Office headed by Chief Inspector Sotero Bobis actively assists in the enforcement of the ordinance, especially now that there will be a beer plaza during the occasion.

Bobis said they will automatically file cases against those caught smoking within the vicinity of Daraga, which, he said, they normally do even without a special event.

Dr. Mercy Chua, Smoke-Free Daraga Task Force chair, gladly announced that they are receiving full support and coordination from their members, thus, making her feel confident that the force to prevent smoking in the municipality is becoming stronger.

Chua said they conduct regular monitoring in Daraga, held every Thursday afternoon, to ensure the sustainability of the progress of the ordinance.

“The ordinance is at its full implementation,” she exclaimed.

Chua proudly highlighted their smoking cessation clinic which provides help to people who are willing to quit the vice.

With this and the continuing support of all the officials and the local government, she positively hopes to at least reduce the number of smokers in Daraga, one step at a time.

Meanwhile, as developments on the ordinance arise, allegations are being circulated that the Anti-Smoking Ordinance will be suspended in the beer plaza during the festival.

Bobis and Tan both stressed that the alleged suspension is not true and a false report.

When asked about the report, Tan said there is no truth to it. “There is no such rule in the law that during festivals there will be suspension of any ordinance. Whatever is stated in the law shall strictly be implemented,” Bobis said.

The continuous efforts of the Daraga LGU, together with its partners, in implementing the Anti-Smoking Ordinance will take the municipality into the next level by hopefully being an addition to the list of Red Orchid Awardees in the country, he said, adding the Department of Health plans to re-evaluate Daraga, as well as the other cities and municipalities in the province, for the said award.

Ligao City is also taking further measures in the implementation of its Anti-Smoking Ordinance, Bobis said.

On Feb. 6, city health officials conducted surprise inspection of establishments within the city to check if they are still selling cigarettes.

Among the 19 firms inspected, two branches of the LCC Supermarket are still selling, he said.

When asked if they have a permit to sell, the managers said they do not have.

“It seems that they are still not fully aware of the ordinance so the task force is set to conduct more information drives,” inspectors said.

The City Health Office will conduct more surprise inspections to identify compliant establishments, which will be recognized as they plan to have their non-monetary awards.

Non-monetary awards in Legazpi City and Daraga have already been given.

Legazpi City awarded 20 compliant establishments on Feb. 5 while Daraga had 10 compliant companies awarded on October 30, 2013.

Daraga, on its way to becoming a 100% smoke-free municipality, will open a wider gateway for tourism not only in the municipality but also in the whole province of Albay, especially now that the first international chartered flight from Xiamen, China, has arrived and is expected to be followed by other international flights.

Anti-smoking signages are posted at the airport, thus, creating a smoke-free image of the province among tourists.

“With all preparations set in place, such as the celebration of Cagsawa festival, arrival of tourists, more anti-smoking signages, strong enforcement and full implementation of the ordinance -- the once sleepy Daraga town, will surely boom this year,” Chua pointed out. (PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD/

Legazpi mayor airs warning vs wrong whale shark interaction

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 17 (PNA)--Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal on Monday warned against mishandling of the whale sharks that have appeared along the city boulevard at Barangay Puro.

At least six whale sharks (scientific name: Rhincodon typus) have been spotted at the Albay Gulf since last week. catching the attention of both local and foreign tourists.

“I have alerted the concerned personnel and the city tourism office to investigate the reported act of riding at the back of the whale sharks which is prohibited under our laws,” Rosal said, as he sought media’s help in reminding the public against any disturbance to the “gentle giants.”

Rosal said he suspended one butanding interaction officer (BIO) over the weekend and, he said, the BIO cannot perform his duties pending an investigation.

“I have talked to the BIOs and some foreign tourists to strictly follow the rules to avoid driving away the spectacular creatures,” Rosal said, assuring that with the help of the different line agencies, appropriate penalties would be imposed on violators.

The netizens have likewise shared the same apprehension with the mayor and are starting to post their suggestions and observations on various social media pages.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda earlier dramatized the beautiful sight in the area that has been appreciated by curious visitors and spectators.

Salceda likewise encouraged the Albayanos and the foreign tourists to coordinate with the local tourism officers for proper guidance on butanding watch. (PNA) PDS/GS/RMN/CBD/

LTFRB to suspend 2 bus firms involved in Sunday collision

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 17 (PNA) -- The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will issue anytime a preventive suspension order against the Elavil Transit and Antonina Bus Line after their passenger buses collided along the Maharlika Highway in Barangay Mambolo Nuevo, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

LTFRB Regional Director Ruel Alsisto said their national office formed a task force Monday morning to investigate the tragedy involving the two bus lines where six passengers died, including the drivers of the two vehicles, and 46 others were seriously injured.

Alsisto said he already sent a police report, damages and other important information so that their head office can decide on whether or not to issue a preventive suspension order.

"I cannot tell if it would be within 30 days or more as we will thoroughly study the said accident that claimed lives,” he added.

The LTFRB official said the preventive suspension will apply to the buses covered by the companies’ franchises.

He said they will impose penalties on public vehicles involved in franchise violations.

Initial police report said a unit of the Antonina Bus Line was going to Metro Manila when its driver lost control of the vehicle and went on a zigzag motion, occupied the opposite lane and hit a Elavil Bus Line vehicle that was going to Legazpi City. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

3-hour blaze burns Sorsogon National High School
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 15 9PNA) -- A three-hour fire broke out early Saturday morning at the Sorsogon National High School (SNHS), burning its main building in Barangay (village) Almendras Cogon in Sorsogon City, a top official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, PNP Bicol regional director, said the fire started at around 2:20 a.m. Saturday and razed the whole of SNHS main building as city firefighters were able to put out the fire at around 6:07 a.m. on the same day.

Deona quoted witnesses as saying that the fire started from the right wing of the building and moved so fast that it became so huge to be controlled.

A security guard stationed at the building’s annex said he was about to leave his post when he noticed the fire.

Villagers said dogs started wailing, awakening them in their sleep.

The burned building houses the classrooms of the fourth year students; the offices of the registrar, accounting, cashier, supply, guidance, head teacher, school library and faculty, and record rooms.

Fire investigators are still determining the cause of the fire and the estimated damages it brought, Deona said in a text message.

Fire trucks from the towns of Gubat and Juban and fire volunteers responded and assisted the city firemen in putting out the fire.

Sources who refused to be named, however, said it took the city firefighters about 45 to 60 minutes to respond to the fire alarm.

The Bureau of Fire station, according to the source, is about 600 meters away from the school.

The Sorsogon National High School, formerly the Sorsogon Provincial High School, located along Magsaysay Street, Sorsogon City, is the largest public/government high school in the province of Sorsogon.

The century-old edifice was considered as a historical landmark since it was used as a Japanese garrison during World War II and later converted into a school building.

It was destroyed by a fire in 1941 but was rebuilt on its original site after the Liberation.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/cbd

Green Climate Fund board co-chairs now in Bali, Indonesia for 6th meeting
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 15 (PNA) – Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda and Manfred Konukiewitz of Germany, co-chairs of the 24-member board of the Green Climate Fund, are the early birds for the Fund’s sixth board meeting on Feb. 16-21 in Bali, Indonesia.

Salceda, who will be presiding over the meeting, said he landed safely at the Ngurah Rai Airport at about 7:00 a.m. and checked in at the Hotel Santika Siligita Nusa Dua.

“The room is very cheap here at per night with free breakfast and wi-fi,” he said in a message sent Saturday morning.

The 6th meeting of the GCF board will be held in the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center in Nusa Dua, Bali.

“This island is considered as one of the world’s best meeting places, combining the luxury modern meeting facility and the beauty of the nature,” Indonesian organizers of the meeting said.

Nusa Dua is just 12.7 kilometers away or approximately 17-minute drive from the Ngurah Rai International Airport.

It is easily reached from the airport by public transportation such as taxi and city minibus, with taxi fare of about US$ 8-10 from the airport to the hotels in the Nusa Dua area.

The host country provides hospitality airport transfer from the Ngurah Rai Airport to the three official hotels, which are the Grand Hyatt Bali, Melia Bali-Indonesia and Hotel Santika Siligita Nusa Dua.

Bali is located just off the eastern tip of Java, from which it is separated by the Bali Strait, the meeting organizers said in an information material. On its north and south side, the island is flanked by the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean, respectively.

The island occupies an area of approximately 6,000 square kilometers and lies on a latitude of 8 degrees south of the equator, having population of around 3.5 million.

Bali is one of Indonesia's provinces, with Denpasar as the provincial capital.

Its great natural beauty and rich culture have made Bali globally known as an island of paradise.

Bali's spectacular beaches, volcanoes, lakes, temples, and terraced rice fields --combined with its deeply artistic roots and its legendary hospitality -- have made it one of the most visited places on earth, the organizers added.

The religion and culture of Bali are unique in the world, and the Balinese have preserved their traditions in spite of the island's growing tourist industry. Bali International Airport, Ngurah Rai, is the nation's eastern gateway, served by numerous international air lines and charter flights.

It enjoys warm, tropical, weather all year as its temperature average is between 21-33 degrees Celsius year round.

In general, Bali experiences two seasons: moist and wet.

Bali is the Central Indonesian Time zone, which is GMT+8 hours.

Even though Bahasa Indonesia is the national/official language, English is widely spoken and understood by the local people, the organizers information said.

The GCF co-chairs, secretariat, committees, panels and group are scheduled to report on their respective activities, Salceda said.

The board is expected to tackle initial modalities for the operation of the Fund’s mitigation and adaptation windows and the private sector facility; additional result areas and indicators for adaptation activities; initial results management framework of the Fund, policies and procedures for the initial allocation of Fund resources; terms of reference of the Independent Evaluation Unit, Independent Integrity Unit and independent redress mechanism; and progress reports on other essential requirements for the initial resource mobilization, he added.

Also to be discussed are the options for a Fund-wide gender-sensitive approach; detailed program of work on readiness and preparatory support; financial terms and conditions of grants and concessional loans; and status of resources.

On Feb. 17 and Feb. 18, there will be preparatory and informal committee, panel and group meetings.(PNA) CTB/FGS/cbd

DA, BAI Bicol hold seminars on animal welfare
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Feb. 15 (PNA)— The Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit for Bicol here has conducted a seminar that reoriented participants on animal welfare and the use of laboratory animals in research and scientific procedures.

Participated in by hundreds of animal welfare officers, researchers, veterinarians serving local government units, students from various state colleges and universities and owners of animal facilities from the six provinces of the region, the seminar was initiated by the DA’s Regional Regulatory Division in partnership with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

It was divided in two batches with the first batch attended by participants from the provinces of Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte and held at a hotel in Naga City last Feb. 12.

The second batch, which was held in Guinobatan, Albay, the next day, was for participants coming from the provinces of Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon.

Edgar Madrid, DA regional technical director for research and regulations, on Saturday here said researchers and veterinarians attached with the DA regional office and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources also attended the seminar which was the first of its kind in Bicol.

While the standard procedures and guidelines on animal welfare have been laid out since 1998 through Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act, the seminar, according to Madrid, capacitated the participants with the different procedures in implementing animal welfare programs and updated them on innovative strategies in animal welfare.

Veterinarians from the Philippine Association for Laboratory Animal Sciences (PALAS) and BAI served as resource speakers.

Madrid said Dr. Ma. Gracia Flores, the regional Animal Welfare Division chief of BAI, discussed issues and concerns in animal welfare in the country.

She also enlightened the participants on the rules in conducting scientific procedures using animals in accordance with provisions of DA Administrative Order (AO) No. 40 stating that “any private or government entity must secure from the BAI and DA authorization to conduct scientific procedures using animals," Madrid said.

Likewise, provisions of DA’s AO No. 8 series of 1999 mandates that animal farms should be registered with the DA-BAI when they have animals falling in the minimum number of 20 heads for large ruminants (cattle and carabao); 50 heads for small ruminants (goats and sheep); hogs (breeders or fatteners, 20 sows or 200 heads; poultry (broilers or layers), 10,000 birds; dogs or cats, 20 heads; and gamecocks, 1,000 birds.

Certificates of registration must be renewed every three years and non-compliance is punishable by six months to two years imprisonment and a fine of P1,000 to P5,000, which was emphasized in the seminar, Madrid said.

Dr. Hercules Baldos, owner of Simian Conservation Breeding and Research Center, Inc.-- the largest monkey farm of 34 hectares in the country engage in breeding and export of monkeys to European countries, Japan and the United States for bio-medical research, was also a resource person in the seminar.

Madrid said Baldos discussed the various laboratory animals used in research, as well as care and handling of monkeys. stressing that such animals should be treated with utmost respect because these species help humans attain advances in medical and environmental sciences.

Dr. Luida Cruz, veterinarian of United Laboratories (Unilab), demonstrated handling procedures of laboratory animals, while Dr. Mariano Jovellanos, a retired veterinarian of BAI and former president of PALAS discussed the functions of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and handling of rabbits and guinea pigs, Madrid said.

Dr. Renato Almonte, chief of the DA Regulatory Division, also explained in the seminar that DA is mandated to implement RA 8485, as he solicited the commitment of and support from the LGUs, academe and owners of private animal facilities in the promotion of animal welfare in the region, according to Madrid. (PNA) CTB;FGS/DOC/cbd

Suspected police asset shot dead by NPA rebels

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Feb. 14 (PNA) -- New People's Army (NPA) rebels shot dead a farmer who they suspected to be a police and military asset in Sitio Iraya, Barangay Poblacion District 1, Claveria, Masbate at around 6 a. m. Friday.

Patricio Alim, 50, married and a resident of the village, was preparing for the breakfast of his family when four armed men barged into his house and went to the kitchen where they shot him dead.

The suspects casually went out of the house and fled towards the mountainous area of the village.

Police said the rebels suspected Alim of being a police-military asset as he was close to one PO2 Rio Belarmino, a former investigator of the Claveria Municipal Police Office.

Alim’s body was brought to a funeral parlor for autopsy.(PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/cbd/

DOLE gives livelihood assistance to parents of child laborers in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 14 (PNA) -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is now processing livelihood assistance for the parents of child laborers that it has earlier started to assist.

“The program for these parents is called the Kabuhayan Para Sa Mga Magulang ng Batang Manggagawa (KASAMA) Program," Edward Lovedorial, DOLE regional contact person on Child Labor Program, said Friday.

Lovedorial said that earlier, the DOLE gave assistance to 400 child laborers identified by Listahanan or National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Done under the “Project Angel Tree,” the assistance involved feeding and gift-giving activity for child laborers. The children were given toys, bags, school supplies and groceries.

The activity is spearheaded by the DOLE in cooperation with private establishments.

“Our aim is to give joy to at least 80 percent of the total child laborers in the region,” DOLE Regional Director Nathaniel V. Lacambra said.

Listahanan provided the list of child laborers to DOLE for the implementation of Project Angel Tree.

The DOLE and the DSWD have entered into a memorandum of agreement for the use of data in the Listahanan, specifically the list of child laborers in the region, to identify their beneficiaries.

“The list of child laborers provided to us by the DSWD’s Listahanan has been very useful to us in the identification of child laborers in the region,” Lacambra said.

Aside from Project Angel Tree, DOLE also used the Listahanan’s data on their Regional Anti-Labor Strategic Planning as reference on the number of child laborers in the region.

Listahanan is the country’s database of poor households which makes available to national government agencies and other social protection stakeholders as reference in identifying potential beneficiaries of social protection programs. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/cbd

Albay handloom weavers to hike output with help from DTI program
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 14 (PNA) –- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has turned over 120 handlooms to weavers in various villages in Albay to increase their production.

The handloom weavers are in Interior 9, Libon; Sumlang, Camalig; Anislag, Daraga; and Banquerohan, Legazpi City.

The DTI-Albay has launched two projects under its shared service facility (SSF) program.

Both projects were for Technology Upgrading for Handloom Weavers for which the DTI gave a total of P960,000-worth of handlooms for free to 120 weavers, DTI Bicol Regional Director Jocelyn L.B. Blanco said Friday.

Bukluran sa Kabuhayan, Inc., co-operator of the project, will oversee the operation of the equipment.

It shall see to it that the sets of equipment are used for the purpose intended.

For 2014, Bicol region has been allocated P35 million for its SSF program, Blanco disclosed.

The SSF program seeks to address the low-production capacity of existing industries in the rural areas.

By providing the micro, small and medium enterprises with equipment, products marketability and efficiency will be enhanced, which in turn will generate more jobs and better income.(PNA) LAP/FGS/EPS/cbd/

200 couples marry in Cagsawa Ruins, Basilica Minore as part of Pag-IBIG Fund-sponsored mass wedding nationwide

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 14 (PNA) --Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga town in Albay and Basilica Minore in Naga City were the settings for the nationwide mass wedding of 4,400 couples sponsored by the Home Development Mutual Fund in celebration of its yearly Pag-IBIG Day on Valentine’s Day.

Some 150 couples got married in tourist destination Cagsawa Ruins, coinciding with Cagsawa Dos Siglos Festival celebration and with the help of the local government unit of Daraga and the provincial government of Albay led by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda.

Salceda, Mayor Jerry Jaucian of Daraga and Vice President Jejomar Binay stood as sponsors although the vice president and the governor were unable to attend due to previous commitments but sent their representatives.

Fifty couples were wed in Basilica Minore.

The 4,400 couples that got married on Friday are active members of PAG-Ibig Fund who had not yet to hold a church wedding.

There were 27 venues for the mass wedding nationwide.

Noli Martirez, Pag-IBIG Fund Legazpi Branch manager, said other places were the mass weddings were held included Intramuros in Manila. Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, Hundred Islands in Pangasinan, Banaue Viewpoint in Ifugao, Fort San Pedro in Cebu, People’s Park in Davao and many others.

Martirez said the Pag-IBIG Day has been observed for three years now by their agency as a symbol of trust, true and pure love of those who get married.

He said their office welcomed the newly married couples as new and responsible members of the Pag-IBIG Fund.

In return, Martirez said that, in behalf of Fund led by President and Chief Executive Officer Darlene Marie B. Berberabe, he pledged a faster and more efficient service to the 13.5 million members of the HDMF or Pag-IBIG in the whole Philippines.

Martirez said his agency has 200,000 members in Bicol.

The Pag-IBIG Fund Legazpi Branch has 112,000 while the Naga Branch has 107,000.(PNA) PDS/FGS/NIM/cbd/

Mayor Rosal leads Legazpeños plant 14,000 trees on Feb. 14
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 14 (PNA) – On Friday, Feb. 14, the day of romance called Valentine’s Day, City Mayor Noel Rosal here led 14,000 Legazpeños in planting 14,000 trees on a vast denuded site along a major crevice serving as pathway of volcanic debris emanating from the majestic Mayon volcano.

“This is the gift we offer to Mother Nature as an expression of love as we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Valentine in gratitude to Her generosity in allowing our city and communities prosper into a very livable place that we enjoy now,” Rosal said in short ceremonies at the Albay Park and Wildlife before the crowd of 14,000 started the early morning five-kilometer walk to Barangay Pawa, the planting site.

The crowd, most of them couples in red, was composed of government workers, professionals, barangay officials, village folk and military, police and jail personnel.

High school and college students who participated were counted at around 8,000.

“This is the biggest crowd so far that we were able to muster for this yearly event. This is also the biggest number of trees that we planted in eight years of observing this activity we call Lakad-Tanim Para sa Puso (Walk-Plant for the Heart) that we already call a Valentine’s Day tradition,” Rosal, who was with his wife and former city mayor Carmen Geraldine Rosal, said.

Before starting with the walk, Rosal also led all the participants in greeting each other “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Couples were teased into giving their partners a kiss.

Incidentally, the combination of figures involved were more striking—the date is 14, the year is abbreviated as 14 (for 2014) and the number of trees planted by the same number of people is 14,000.

“We also offer this activity to the 1,400 Legazpeños who perished during the onslaught of super typhoon ‘Reming’ in September 2006 that triggered massive flashfloods from the slope of Mt. Mayon which also left behind an unimaginable degree of destructions to the city,” Rosal said.

“It was the same natural disaster that gave us the wake-up call into launching this yearly mass tree-planting activity for us to be able to fortify our defense against similar calamity by way of restoring our forest down the slopes of Mayon,” he explained.

This tradition was already able to plant around 60,000 trees in different sites near the foot of Mt. Mayon since it was started as a yearly event in 2007, Rosal said.

Most of these are already full-grown pine and narra trees that now provide vegetation in the once critically denuded sites.

The planting materials have been provided by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Bicol regional office through its plant nurseries being maintained jointly by its Forest Management Bureau and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/cbd/

Friday, February 14, 2014

DAR-Bicol assigns project to address potable water woes in Catanduanes villages
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 13 (PNA) – Agrarian reform communities covered by at least 15 barangays in Catanduanes will soon be enjoying safe, potable water courtesy of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Bicol regional office based here.

This initiative is under the land reform agency’s Community-Managed Potable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (CPWASH), a project that serves as a mechanism to raise the agrarian reform beneficiaries' (ARBs) awareness and appreciation on the relationship of water, health and poverty that are closely linked to each other.

“We have identified at least 15 villages of agrarian reform communities (ARCs) in Catanduanes for this project that features low-cost water supply technology and sanitation systems,” DAR regional director Luis Bueno Jr. said Thursday.

Thousands of residents in these areas have been relying on unsafe artesian wells for their drinking water during the past many years,he said.

The project, which was recently launched in the island province, will have as its first beneficiary Barangay Bon-ot, a coastal-agricultural village of San Andres town where the first-in-the-province prototype potable water sanitation system that with iron removal filter, bio-sand filter, rainwater collector and biogas digester will be constructed.

The launch, which was held in the same barangay, Bueno said, was highlighted by the signing of a memorandum of agreement by Catanduanes Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Alexander Teves (in behalf of DAR), San Andres Mayor Peter Cua, barangay chairman Gaspar Santelices and ARB head Demetrio Rodriguez Jr.

Under the agreement, DAR, through its provincial office, will provide the necessary financial, technical and logistical support to facilitate project implementation.

For this project package in Barangay Bon-ot, the agency has provided an amount of P155,000.

The San Andres municipal government, on the other hand, is contributing an additional amount of P50,000 for the cost of labor and laboratory fees for water analysis to ensure that the village will have a reliable potable water system to prevent water-borne diseases.

Apart from its cash counterpart, the municipal government will also expand and replicate the project in at least one barangay while the farmers' association and the barangay council in Bon-ot will provide the labor, create a water and sanitation committee, as well as jointly manage and operate the project.

“We see this project that carries with it a unique add-on in terms of swine dispersal representing its livelihood component as a way towards improving access of ARCs to basic services, partnership and community-based social services," according to Bueno.

The project also provides capacity development, enterprise management of the water system, monitoring/evaluation and technical assistance to end-users.

"This is just the beginning of DAR’s partnership with local government units in Catanduanes with other agricultural-related programs and projects to be implemented soon in all the other 14 barangays not only for the benefit of ARCs but also the entire barangay," Bueno said.

And since CPWASH deals with the interrelation among water, health and poverty, the project is a response of the DAR under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III in addressing these problems, particularly in ARCs where they are most prevalent like Catanduanes, he stressed.

He recalled that in early 2012, the province was hit by a cholera epidemic that killed at least 18 persons and hospitalized about 3,000 others.

Most of the fatalities were reported in Virac, the provincial capital, with eight deaths; followed by San Andres, six; Pandan, three; and, Viga, one, according to records of the Department of Health regional office based in Daraga, Albay.

Potable water systems in these areas are limited and most communities obtain their drinking water from deep wells that are prone to bacteria contamination.

Cholera is an infection in the small intestine caused by the bacteria called vibrio cholerae and can be transmitted primarily by drinking water or eating food that are contaminated by the feces of an infected person. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/