Friday, June 27, 2014

Tabaco City vows to stop smoking as 40 business establishments get awards for anti-smoking advocacy
By Rose Olarte-Orbita

TABACO CITY, June 26 (PNA) -- Mayor Marie Demetriou admitted in an interview here Thursday that she is still struggling to quit smoking and that little by little, she's doing fine because of the anti-smoking ordinance of this city and the pressure of being a role model to her constituents.

Demetriou said she is a smoker but said, she fully supports the no-smoking advocacy.

The mayor added, "I promise to smoke (only) once a day," then laughed.

She said how proud she feels for Tabaco City.

Tabaco City has been encouraging its business establishments to create and display their own anti-smoking signages.

Comparing the state of the city before, Demetriou said, she saw a big change -- like when she passes by the bus stop in front of Jollibee, she said, there are no smokers anymore, unlike before.

Even the barkers at the terminals do not smoke anymore because "they heard from the radio that smoking is now prohibited in public places."

She thanked the media for being a great medium of communication and influence to the public.

Forty business establishments in Tabaco City were given non-monetary awards by Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN) on June 19 at the Tabaco National High School Alumni Hall.

The occasion was one of the events of 2014 Tabak Festival, No Smoking Month and DOH's Red Orchid Awarding Month.

Councilor Sheina Onrubia, committee on health chair and one of the proponents of the ordinance on anti-smoking, also thanked the SFAN and the ADD+VANTAGE Team for consistently helping them in the advocacy, providing technical help and a push of moral support.

She said the non-monetary award is "very effective in encouraging the establishments to be smoke-free... since it is very rewarding to be recognized."

Board member Heriberto Borja, SFAN chairman, said the plaques and the frames given as awards were not just tokens of appreciation but a constant reminder to the awardee and other establishment of how rewarding it is to show concern to other people, customer and employees by helping promote the smoke-free advocacy.

Borja inspired the listeners by making Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda an example.

Even when the executive order for creating SFAN was signed, he said, the governor was still a smoker then.

A few years later, the governor renounced smoking and became a major advocate of Smoke-Free Albay.

In an interview with one of the award recipients, Jinky Barcenas, store supervisor of Oriental Bazaar, she said "a smoke-free establishment is much more appreciated by the citizens and even a small signage does so much in reminding every individual about the city ordinance and the concern of the management."

The Tabaco City Smoke-Free Ordinance No. 019-2011 was approved on Oct. 17, 2011 with the following as proponents: Councilors Alfredo C. Adalla, Sr., Sheina Marie C. Onrubia and Lourdes B. Berces.(PNA) CTB/FGS/ROO/CBD

Legazpi takes pride of owning lady chess wizard Frayna
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 26 (PNA) -- Woman World Chess Federation Master (WFM) Janelle Mae Frayna hails from this city, and Legazpeños are celebrating with profound pride the prominence she has reached in her field of sport.

After winning her division in the recent ASEAN age group in Macau, Frayna is now one of the country’s newest woman international masters, a step below the grandmaster level reached by the legendary Grandmaster (GM) Eugene Torre.

We in the City Government celebrate along with all the Legazpeños in having her as our very own,” City Mayor Noel E. Rosal told the lady chess celebrity’s mother, engineer Corazon Sonia Frayna on her visit at the mayor’s office Thursday.

Frayna, according to her mother, started her international exposure at age 16, when she captured the World Junior Championships for girls in 2011 and then as a 2012 Chess Olympiad.

Now 19 and a junior college student majoring in Psychology at Far Eastern University (FEU) in Manila, Frayna, earned her Woman International Master (WIM) title during the US$ 100,000 Manny Pacquiao Cup Asian Continental Chess Championships organized by the Eugene Torre Chess Foundation, Inc. in May last year held at the Midas Hotel in Pasay City.

Frayna, a member of the star-studded FEU chess team, finished eight in that tournament, the highest standing won by a Filipino woman woodpusher in the Asian Continental Chess Championship, which earned her a passport to the 2013 ASEAN Age Group tournament in Chang Mai, Thailand, in April of the same year where she won a gold medal.

Last March, she also won the Luzon elimination leg of the National Age Group chess championships held at the Activity Center of SM City Naga.

Frayna now plays in the week-long yearly Battle of the Grandmasters at the Philippine Sports Commission Athletes Dining Hall where she was, as of Wednesday, clinging to the second place along with GM Torre.

The first woman to qualify for the men’s division of this event by being among the top six semifinalists, Frayna has defeated in the early rounds of the tournament International Master Joel Pimentel and Grandmaster Richard Bitoon.

She, along with another WIM, now holds a berth in the Olympiad, qualifying her to represent the country in 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, the elder Frayna said.

On the next time that Frayna is home here, Rosal said he will tender a celebration for her victories and outstanding performance in the field of sports that make every Legazpeño proud and feel distinguished. (PNA) LAM/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Norwegian gov't pledges US $ 1B for Green Climate Fund -- Salceda
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, June 26 (PNA) -- After a series of consultations with and the display of skepticism by rich nations to commit cash, the Norwegian government finally pledged US$ 1 billion for the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Albay Governor Joey Salceda, United Nations Green Climate Fund chairman for developing countries, said.

“Norway already pledged US$ 1 billion. My target is US$ 15 billion this year, so US$ 1 billion to go,” Salceda said.

The US$ 1-billion endowment is part of the 0 billion dollars commitment for the operationalization of GCF, which intends to finance international programs to help the vulnerable countries adapt with the changing climate, the governor added.

Salceda, who is also the Bicol Regional Development Council chairman, said the US$ 1 billion commitment is the first-ever bequest despite of too much skepticism.

“Despite much skepticism, we were able to finish the eight prerequisites for operationalization. So now, we commence the first initial resource mobilization with the contributors meeting in Oslo, Norway,” he said.

Salceda is the first Asian to chair the GCF, which was established by the conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2011.

With 2014 as the target for the operationalization of the GCF, the green economist said, the fund will work for developing countries, the most vulnerable against the worst impact of disasters due to extreme climate.

The GCF aims to help developing countries adapt to the adverse impacts of global warming that triggers climate change.

Salceda explained that the 24-member GCF board oversees the operation of the fund, which expects to have pledges of US$ 100 billion by 2020 and approves the funding of projects in line with the Fund’s principles, criteria, modalities, policies and programs.

The UNGCF chairman said he would ensure that funds would be available and operational this year to address positive changes in the lives of the vulnerable communities in developing nations affected by climatic change.

“Developing countries stand to benefit from the UNGCF by initiating a paradigm shift toward low-emission and climate-resilient development in adapting to climate change,” he said.

Salceda said the GCF's target is to reduce carbon emissions, which are largely blamed to developed countries for emitting to much green house gases that trigger extreme change.

The financial and operations plan intend to assist international programs to help the vulnerable countries adapt with the changing climate.

Earlier, Margareta Wahlstrom, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and a special representative of the UN secretary-general, said nine of the world’s 10 most significant disaster events last year with greater number of fatalities took place in the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Japan and China.

According to her, some 14,500 lives were lost to tropical cyclones, floods, heat waves, cold waves and earthquakes.

As to economic losses, Wahlstrom said, these disasters brought about US$ 50-billion damages across China, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Australia and Pakistan last year.

She visited Legazpi City more than a year ago where she lauded the provincial officials of Albay as well as the city government of Legazpi for implementing the best disaster risk reduction adaptation measures wherein she cited Albay province as model of best DRR in the Philippines.

Disaster risk is a combined result of hazard, exposure and vulnerability.

Any improvements in reducing vulnerability of the communities, through poverty reduction and alleviation programs, according to her, are insufficient to offset the very rapid increase in exposure across Asia and the Pacific -- fueled by population growth, urbanization and economic development. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/

Legazpi, San Juan cities sign sisterhood pact
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, June 26 (PNA) -- Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal and San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez on Wednesday signed a sisterhood agreement at the Ibalong Conference Room of the city hall here.

The signing was witnessed by former San Juan mayor and now Senator JV Ejercito and members of the Sangguniang Panlunsod and department heads of both cities.

The partnership agreement materialized when Legazpi City Councilor Alan Ranola passed a resolution expressing the desire of Legazpi City to establish sisterhood relationship with San Juan City of Metro Manila.

The said resolution was adopted by the Legazpi City SP during its 17th regular session on May 27 and approved by Rosal on June 13.

Rosal pointed out that the agreement will serve as a symbol of friendship and open windows for opportunities to adopt the best practices, knowledge and expertise in the field of good governance for the continuous urban development and progress of both cities for the benefit of their respective constituents.

“What is important for us is a continuing journey that we can learn not only in the spirit of influence but also most importantly, the best practices that we have done in other cities," he added.

Rosal said the sisterhood agreement will also serve as an accelerator for economic growth of the two cities and an engine to improve their initiatives towards the adoption of science and technology, culture and the arts, tourism, planning and urban development, environmental protection, public health, trade and industry, education and sports development and social services.

On the part of Ejercito, he disclosed that the City of San Juan today is a top performing locality in Metro Manila, with lower incidence of poverty.

The senator said that even during his time as the city executive of San Juan, his administration conducted a yearly planning session in the cities outside Metro Manila such as the cities of IloIlo, Bacolod, Davao and Bohol, among others, and those localities are already sister cities of San Juan.

He stressed that he will share to Legazpi the strategies towards the financial and economic successes of San Juan to sustain its sound fiscal condition and most importantly, to uplift the living condition of the people and reduce poverty incidence.

Even before he became a senator, Ejercito said he had always visited the members of the Jaycees International of this city where he was once the president.

“The JCI has helped so much in my political career," he added.

Ëjercito vowed to support Legazpi City and other local government units in Bicol and give them more projects for the benefit of the people in the region.

Gomez, on the other hand, commended Legazpi City for being one of the fastest growing localities in the country as well as the best implementer of ecological solid waste management practices, best city disaster risk management performer and a smoke-free territory in the Bicolandia.

She vowed to encourage the different giant investors and business establishments in Metro Manila to put up businesses here in Legazpi.

She said her administration will follow all the written agreements in the sisterhood pact to sustain the strong relationship of both cities.

Gomez said she also wants to share her key developmental programs as part of her support to Legazpi City for the benefit of its constituents.

After signing of the sisterhood agreement, Rosal handed over the symbolic key to Legazpi to Gomez while the latter also gave to Rosal the symbolic statue of “Diwa ng 1896” or the Battle of Pinaglabanan. (PNA) LAM/FGS/EPS/CBD/

Albayanos seek NBI help over Aleco fund mess By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 26 (PNA) -- A group of Albayanos believes that the P500-million rehabilitation fund the Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) received from the national government some seven years ago has been misappropriated.

To shed light on this, the group which calls itself Aleco Forum has asked the Anti-Graft Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct investigations and prosecute those who may be identified as culprits.

In a letter to the NBI sent over the week, the group headed by lawyer Oliver Olaybal said “We respectfully request your assistance in investigating and prosecuting the culprits involved in the misappropriation of the P500-million rehabilitation fund intended for Aleco.”

The amount, the group said, was sourced from the P10-billion Bicol Calamity Assistance and Rehabilitation Effort fund provided by Malacañang under then Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo following super typhoon ""Reming that ravaged the region in September 2006.

It was intended for the rehabilitation of the distribution system of the power cooperative--but the system was not rehabilitated following its misappropriation that left Aleco suffering until now from 24-percent systems loss, which is equivalent to P48 million in monthly deficit or P576 million peso deficit per year.

The amount was disbursed by then Barangay Captain Jose Zamora of Ubaliw, Polangui, Albay, the group said in the letter.

The Aleco board then formally recommended the appointment of Zamora as cooperative’s general manager, but as if on cue, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) denied the request but at the same time appointed him as NEA project supervisor for Aleco, a position that is actually higher than the position of general manager, the Aleco Forum claimed.

Zamora was not an employee of NEA, which suggests the commission of graft on the part of the appointing authority, for the reason that only NEA officers are to be appointed project supervisor for any distressed electric co-operative, and the appointee must be experienced in running a business the size of Aleco whose annual sales reach P2.4 billion, the group said.

Apart from the alleged fund mess, the Aleco Forum also requested the NBI to conduct probe into the “collusion by officials of NEA and Department of Energy (DOE) in formulating Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), unlawfully increasing to 11 the two options provided by Republic Act No. 10531 (NEA Reform Act) for the rehabilitation of financially distressed cooperatives like Aleco.”

Under the law, only Congress can amend the law, it stressed, adding that the modified IRR was obviously adopted to pave the way for the entry of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) Global Power Holdings Corporation as Aleco subcontractor, because at the time the new law was passed the NEA and DOE officials were already working on their plan to subcontract the franchise operations of the cooperative.

“In doing so, the officials involved possibly violated Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” the group said.

To this effect, Aleco is now run by SMC under a “concession agreement” which created on Nov. 14 last year the Aleco Power and Energy Corporation as its subsidiary tasked to handle the cooperative’s operations.

“The award of the franchise operations to SMC Global under the concession agreement, it claimed, is tainted with graft for being disadvantageous to Aleco and the national government, because DOE, NEA and the NEA-designated interim board are not authorized by law to assign the right of Aleco to operate its franchise, because under Republic Act No. 9136 (EPIRA), only Congress is authorized to issue or amend franchises for the distribution of electricity in the Philippines.”

On Thursday, Olaybal told PNA here that the Aleco Forum is doing it right through seeking help from NBI and later letting courts provide relief to the ails that the power cooperative is suffering now from its about P4 billion financial encumbrances. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gold-rich Masbate town to borrow Php 45-M for various projects

AROROY, Masbate, June 24 (PNA) -– The Municipality of Aroroy in Masbate will secure a loan of Php 45 million from a bank to finance its housing project and the purchase of heavy equipment, Mayor Enrico Z. Capinig said.

Capinig said the project is a local priority development project included in the Annual Investment Program of the municipality and the Executive-Legislative Agenda for CY 2014.

The authority to borrow the amount of Php 45 million was authorized by the Sangguniang Bayan through an ordinance passed during its 16th regular session on June 2 presided over by Vice Mayor Manuel L. Valera, Jr.

The ordinance shall take effect upon its publication once in a local newspaper of general circulation in the Province of Masbate and compliance with all procedures required under Republic Act No. 7160, the mayor said..

The loan will be guaranteed by the Municipal Development Fund Office (MDFO) of the Department of Finance (DOF) in accordance with Section 297 of the Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code.

Under Section 123 of Republic Act No. 7653 as implemented by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Circular No. 402, the municipal mayor shall have full power and authority to represent the municipality in negotiating the terms and conditions for the said borrowing and in signing, executing and delivering such agreements, contracts, deeds, papers, and documents as may be necessary and proper for the full and total implementation of the authority herein granted, Capinig said.

The housing units will be constructed in the existing housing site of the municipality with an area of 21 hectares at a cost of Php 7 million.

The heavy equipment, costing Php 38 million, will be used for the development of controlled garbage dump site, development of housing site and construction of affordable housing units, and opening and development of farm-to-market roads.

The loan will have an interest of 6.5 percent with a grace period of two years.

The LGU of Aroroy will assign 20 percent of its internal revenue allotment for the loan. (PNA) FPV/FGS/NBT/CBD/UTB

Rosal urges public market administrators to observe proper waste management

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) -- Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal has urged public market administrators of different local government units (LGUs) in Bicol to remember what they learned on the proper ways of solid waste disposal.

These LGU officials attended an Orientation on Ecological Solid Waste Management and other Environmental Laws for Public Market Administrators and a Climate Change Forum for Communities held at La Roca Restaurant on Tuesday.

The activity was spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau.

“Environmental problem is one of the most alarming issues we have in our society today as it affects the younger generation,” Rosal claimed.

He said solid waste management is everybody’s concern and the responsibility of each individual as he believes that garbage starts from the household, market, different establishments, schools and parks, among others.

“This kind of activity will serve as an additional knowledge to all the market administrators regarding the proper implementation of solid waste disposal to make sure that all the commodities such as meat, fish, vegetable, dry goods, storage and eatery sections in the market are clean and safe to the consuming public,” Rosal added.

His administration, he said, is aggressively implementing the Integrated Ecological solid Waste Management Ordinance of the City by way of “no collection, no segregation” policy as its support to the Republic Act 9003 to ensure the protection of public health and the environment, which aims to promote the proper way of collecting garbage.

Rosal also told the participants of the activity that Legazpi City is also implementing the “no burning of garbage in the backyard” to reduce the Unintentionally Produced Persistent Organic Pollutants from waste materials that cause the adverse effect of global warming which triggers the climate change phenomenon. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EPS/CBD/UTB

Legazpi City council pays tribute to former city dad

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) -- The 13th Sangguniang Panlunsod of Legazpi on Tuesday passed a resolution recognizing the legacy of former Legazpi City councilor Benedicto Atun Azul who died on June 18 at the age of 72.

According to proponent Councilor Jesus Chito Baldo, Azul deserves a tribute and honor befitting a great public servant.

Azul was city councilor for from 1988 to 2007 after his service as chairman of Barangay Bonga for 20 years.

Legazpi City Vice Mayor Vittorio C. Roces recalled that when his mother was the chief executive, Azul was one of the councilors.

"One legacy of Tio Bending Azul was the creation of Bantay Dagat (sea watchdog), being the committee on agriculture chair," Roces said.

The late former councilor suffered from hypertension, diabetes and pneumonia.

According to his wife, Zoraida, on Father's Day last June 15, her husband suffered cardiac arrest and was confined for three days but died at 2:15 a.m. of June 18.

He was bedridden for five years and four months.

Zoraida described her husband as a principled man who was always concerned about the welfare of his constituents.

Before his interment on Monday, Azul was brought to the City Hall lobby and was given tribute by the present city officials headed by Mayor Noel Rosal. (PNA) LAP/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Local firms help DSWD address poverty in Albay
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) – In Albay, a Bicol province where almost half of the population is poor, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has tapped several local business firms to help in addressing poverty.

So far, according to DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia on Monday, three private entrepreneurs have tied up with the agency towards this end by way of providing the province’s poor, particularly beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), sustainable means of livelihood.

These entrepreneurs, which have recently entered into a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the DSWD regional office here, are the Nasol Haircraft Corp. (NHC), Fundline Finance Corp. (FFC) and Entrepreneurs Alumni Development Cooperative (EADCOOP).

The NHC, which has its main factory in Camalig, Albay, and a branch in this city, is a private company that leads in the production for export of synthetic hair like wigs and hair extensions in the province.

In the MOU, the company has committed to train and hire at least 120 4Ps beneficiaries as factory workers for its upcoming expansion in Masbate.

The NHC hopes to contribute in alleviating the lives of poor Albayanos with this partnership with the DSWD, Merry Belludo, the company president and chief executive officer, said.

The FFC, which is a micro-lending and financing company based here, on the other hand, will help in job placements and enterprise development of 4Ps beneficiaries wherein it has allocated 71 positions to be filled by 4Ps beneficiaries as financial consultants and branch secretaries.

It has also provided loans amounting from Php8,000 to Php35,000 as seed capital in the putting up of small businesses to 16 4Ps members.

Likewise, the EADCOOP, which is a micro-finance institution organized by the 1986 graduates of Bicol University and facilitating financial, managerial and technical assistance to small and large-scale businesses, committed to provide skills training and enterprise development to 4Ps beneficiaries who are willing and potential to establish their own businesses.

“This partnership with DSWD that we have entered into is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us in the private business sector to be of help to our poor province mates,” EADCOOP board secretary Regine Moyo said.

Garcia said the partnership with these companies in pursuing poverty-alleviation initiatives in Albay sees the potential in creating a formidable alliance between the private and public sectors through more sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Based on the latest survey, the province has a population of about 1.3 million people comprising some 212,000 households with an average size of 5.22 persons each, which is significantly higher than the national average of 4.99, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) of the Philippine Statistical Authority.

Of this number, NSCB said 511,636 or nearly half are poor -- ranking Albay the No.10 with the highest share in the poor population nationwide.

Region-wide, the statistical board placed around 43 poor for every 100 Bicolanos during the first semester of 2012 while the regional office of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said Bicol ranked as number one in the percentage share of the poor population from among all the country’s regions.

In its recent report to the Regional Development Council, the NEDA said Bicol contributed some 2.3 million or 9.8 percent to the country’s 23.8 million poor populations as of the same year, to top the list of the poorest region in terms of population share.

This means that about one of 10 poor people in the country comes from Bicol, a region rich in mineral and marine resources and well-visited eco-tourism destinations distributed among its six provinces, seven cities and 107 municipalities.

Garcia said that it is under these reasons that DSWD is making its presence highly noticed in the region, more particularly in Albay, where the national government through the 4Ps is spending Php1.05 billion per year in Conditional Cash Transfer to about 200,000 beneficiaries.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who has fought for the full coverage of 4Ps in Albay’s 15 towns and three cities, said the program actually constitutes the biggest and the more socio-economically beneficial relief to the province in this period of economic stress. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DOT holds 3-day tourism mission In Hongkong to promote Albay as destination
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) – The Department of Tourism(DOT) has embarked on a three-day Hongkong Tourism Business Mission for the province of Albay at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Hongkong.

The mission, which started Sunday and will be up to June 24, is headed by Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, accompanied by acting Consular Head Rosanna Voogle, DOT Bicol Regional Director Maria “Nini” Ravanilla and other DOT officials.

Jimenez’s team is meeting with more than 200 participants in the said tourism business event in Hongkong.

Among the participants in the occasion are representatives from the Hongkong Government, travel and dive operators, business sector, media members and private sector from different parts of the world.

Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said the DOT mission is centered on the province of Albay as it is considered as an emerging tourist destination in the country.

The many achievements of Albay under Salceda in the field of tourism have been reflected in the International Tourism Promotion of the DOT.

The Daragang Magayon Festival, the governor said, is one of the factors that has made the province known worldwide.

The contributions of the 18 other festivals of 15 towns and three cities of the province have also been recognized, Salceda added.

“As a result, the DOT considers Albay province as a tourism power house – a competitive and fun destination,” he said.

In this connection, the province has registered more than 800,000 local and foreign tourist arrivals, representing a 66-percent growth rate, Salceda disclosed, adding that this is owing to three reasons.

“First, the province is connected to global tourism market and tourist arrivals are expected to increase once the Southern Luzon International Airport in Daraga town becomes operational,” he added.

The second reason, Salceda said, is that the province has a unique tourism branding in the local and international tourism markets.

“Thirdly, the province has a strong leadership, which it the main key to a successful cooperation among all stakeholders to achieve its objectives," he added.(PNA) FPV/FGS/NIM/CBD/

Legazpi wins bid to host 2014 PICE national convention in November

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) –- Some 4,000 civil engineers will troop to this city in November this year for the 40th National Convention (NatCon) of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), City Mayor Noel Rosal announced on Monday.

“It's final! We won the bid to host the 2014 PICE National Convention. More than 4,000 members are coming to find out for themselves why Legazpi is called in the travel industry world as the City of Fun and Adventure,” Rosal said.

The decision was finalized by members following the PICE Midyear Convention recently held in Baguio City and attended by over 2,500 members, including members of the organization’s student chapters, he said.

PICE, the organization accredited by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) of the Philippines, is composed of more than 74,000 registered civil engineer members in 96 chapters and some 47,000 civil engineering student members in 179 student chapters throughout the country.

The 40th PICE NatCom is now listed as among the about a dozen more big gatherings that the city will be hosting this year following its successful handling of a least six earlier this year that included the three Association of South East Asian Nations/World Tourism Organization (ASEAN-WTO) conferences held at the Oriental Hotel here last May.

Next year, among the biggest occasions that the city will be hosting, as slated so far, is the 99th Annual Convention of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines that will take place in April.

It is expected to be participated in by over 5,000 members of the over 350 lodges comprising more that 50 Masonic districts nationwide.

It will be followed by the 41th Annual National Directorate Meeting and Convention of the Geodetic Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. (GEPI) to be held in May next year with an expected attendance of not less than 2,000 geodetic engineers from all over the country.

Indeed, the city is now fast emerging as a “convention capital” owing to its attractiveness as a venue of big formal gatherings such as international conventions, conferences, meetings and reunions, according to Rosal.

As recorded by the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Tourism based here, Rosal said the total arrivals of both domestic and foreign tourists in the city for the whole year of 2013 reached 579, 470, which was higher by 141,370 over the 2012’s 438,100 figure.

“Our 2013 tourist arrival figure is good enough for the main time—surpassing even the 523,832 arrivals that the entire province of Albay posted in 2012. We hit the half million mark last year and by 2016, our goal is to hit the one million mark,” Rosal said. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

22 sacked police chiefs undergoing 8-day refresher course

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) -– The 22 chiefs of police in Bicol who were sacked last week from their posts after failing the target policy output being implemented by the Philippine National Police are now undergoing an eight-day refresher to give them a second chance to be chiefs of police again.

The re-training started on Monday morning after the flag ceremony at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, PNP Bicol regional director, opened the refresher course where he explained that the chiefs of police are undergoing the course in preparation for their reassignment as police chiefs in other towns of the region.

The refresher course has eight modules that will last for eight days and these are: Human Resource Management, Internal Discipline, Intelligence, Operation, Police Community Relations, Resource Management and Financial Matters, Investigation and General Subject.

Deona said the refresher course will be a regular study course for police officers who will aspire to become chiefs of police in municipalities where their main task is to supervise men.

He stressed that no police officers will be removed from their posts as long as they do their do their task to accomplish the target policy output of the performance governance system, which is the present program of the PNP.

"We should start to upgrade the level of standards of the police organization. We will no longer tolerate the ‘business as usual’ attitude which makes the public look down at the police,” Deona stressed.

He also informed the police chiefs that 1,237 Glock units have arrived in the region and these will be distributed among the provinces in Bicol to fill the gap in the number of service firearms of the police in different areas of the region.

“Since the need for more firearms has been satisfied, there is no reason for a police officer to avoid the marksmanship program of the regional leadership, especially that we have reconstructed the firing range in this camp for your continuous training,” Deona said.

Before he finished his message, the regional police chief decided to extend the refresher training for one more week so that additional modules could be introduced to the present curriculum. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Inmate bolts Masbate island-town prison

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) -- A manhunt operation has been launched by members of the Claveria Municipal Police Office after a suspect escaped from his detention cell in Claveria, Masbate, around 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

A police report identified the suspect as Joel Bustamante, single and resident of Sitio Bodega, Barangay Pasig, Claveria, Masbate.

The report said Bustamante escaped by destroying the padlock of his cell and fled towards an unknown direction.

It added that the escapee was facing a case for attempted rape which is now being heard at the local court.

The police on duty said that Bustamante had just taken his dinner when he disappeared.

Authorities believe that the suspect is still in town and are now tightly guarding the local pier. (PNA) LAM/FGS/EMC/CBD

Albay, Phivolcs to lead 200th year commemoration of 1814 Mayon eruption
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Albay and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) will lead in the commemoration of the 200th year of the most destructive eruption of the Mayon Volcano in 1814, which will be held at the Florence Hall of the La Piazza Hotel and Convention Center here on June 26-27.

The occasion aims to increase the level of awareness of the public on the tragedy that befell the province as a result of the Mayon explosion in 1814.

The observance carries with it the lesson learned from the catastrophe and measures to prevent dangers during volcanic eruptions based on the Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) program of the province, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said.

Salceda and Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum will lead the occasion to be participated in by about 150 officials of the local government units around Mayon, representatives of national government agencies, members of the media and the private sector.

The event will have two parts.

On the first day, foreign experts from the United States, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Indonesia will speak on various related topics.

Experts from the Phivolcs, Office of Civil Defense-Bicol and the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) will also share their expertise.

Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., Phivolcs director, will discuss “Why We Are Commemorating the 1814 Eruption of Mayon Volcano," while historian Dr. Danilo Madrid Gerona will touch on the topic "Fire From Heaven. The History of the Eruptions of Mayon Volcano 1814."

Ma. Antonia V. Bornas of the Phivolcs will give her share on the 30 years after the grim explosion.

Another speaker will be Dr. Ma. Hannah T. Mirabueno, environmental officer of the Christchurch City Council of New Zealand.

Dr. Christopher G. Newhall, USGS emeritus, will speak on the “Scenario of Possible Precursors to The Next “1814” Eruption of Mayon” while Dr. Tetsou Kobayashi, professor, Kagoshima University, Japan, will deal on “New Innovative Approach to Past 20,000 Years.”

The “Lessons from Experiences: People’s Narratives of Past Eruptions” will be discussed by Ma. Mylene M. Villegas of the Phivolcs.

The “May 2013 Experience of Hikers” will be narrated by Joseph Wyne Manjares, Chapter Representative on Safety.

In the afternoon of the first day, Salceda will lay down the Planning Development in the Shadow of Mayon: Albay Province Development Plan.

The different LGUs of Albay will show their respective DRRM programs and practices, such as the towns of Camalig, Daraga and Malilipotm and the cities of Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco.

Dr. Cedric Daep, APSEMO chief, will handle the subject “Preparedness, Emergency Planning and Good DRR Practices of Albay” while OCD-5 Director Bernardo Rafaelito R. Alejandro will give the closing remarks.

On the second day, the participants will visit the places gravely affected by the 1814 eruption like the Mabinit Channel in Legazpi City, Cagsawa and Budiao in Daraga town and Barangay Maipon in Guinobatan.

The group will also go to the Mayon Resthouse Observatory, where old and modern equipment for monitoring the activities of Mayon are found, and the Sto. Domingo Elementary School, a foreign-assisted school and an evacuation center.

It will also proceed to the Mayon Volcano Observatory at Ligñon Hill where the Phivolcs Operations Center is located.(PNA) LAM/FGS/NIM/CBD

Local firms help DSWD address poverty in Albay
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) – In Albay, a Bicol province where almost half of the population is poor, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has tapped several local business firms to help in addressing poverty.

So far, according to DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia on Monday, three private entrepreneurs have tied up with the agency towards this end by way of providing the province’s poor, particularly beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), sustainable means of livelihood.

These entrepreneurs, which have recently entered into a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the DSWD regional office here, are the Nasol Haircraft Corp. (NHC), Fundline Finance Corp. (FFC) and Entrepreneurs Alumni Development Cooperative (EADCOOP).

The NHC, which has its main factory in Camalig, Albay, and a branch in this city, is a private company that leads in the production for export of synthetic hair like wigs and hair extensions in the province.

In the MOU, the company has committed to train and hire at least 120 4Ps beneficiaries as factory workers for its upcoming expansion in Masbate.

The NHC hopes to contribute in alleviating the lives of poor Albayanos with this partnership with the DSWD, Merry Belludo, the company president and chief executive officer, said.

The FFC, which is a micro-lending and financing company based here, on the other hand, will help in job placements and enterprise development of 4Ps beneficiaries wherein it has allocated 71 positions to be filled by 4Ps beneficiaries as financial consultants and branch secretaries.

It has also provided loans amounting from Php8,000 to Php35,000 as seed capital in the putting up of small businesses to 16 4Ps members.

Likewise, the EADCOOP, which is a micro-finance institution organized by the 1986 graduates of Bicol University and facilitating financial, managerial and technical assistance to small and large-scale businesses, committed to provide skills training and enterprise development to 4Ps beneficiaries who are willing and potential to establish their own businesses.

“This partnership with DSWD that we have entered into is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us in the private business sector to be of help to our poor province mates,” EADCOOP board secretary Regine Moyo said.

Garcia said the partnership with these companies in pursuing poverty-alleviation initiatives in Albay sees the potential in creating a formidable alliance between the private and public sectors through more sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Based on the latest survey, the province has a population of about 1.3 million people comprising some 212,000 households with an average size of 5.22 persons each, which is significantly higher than the national average of 4.99, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) of the Philippine Statistical Authority.

Of this number, NSCB said 511,636 or nearly half are poor -- ranking Albay the No.10 with the highest share in the poor population nationwide.

Region-wide, the statistical board placed around 43 poor for every 100 Bicolanos during the first semester of 2012 while the regional office of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said Bicol ranked as number one in the percentage share of the poor population from among all the country’s regions.

In its recent report to the Regional Development Council, the NEDA said Bicol contributed some 2.3 million or 9.8 percent to the country’s 23.8 million poor populations as of the same year, to top the list of the poorest region in terms of population share.

This means that about one of 10 poor people in the country comes from Bicol, a region rich in mineral and marine resources and well-visited eco-tourism destinations distributed among its six provinces, seven cities and 107 municipalities.

Garcia said that it is under these reasons that DSWD is making its presence highly noticed in the region, more particularly in Albay, where the national government through the 4Ps is spending Php1.05 billion per year in Conditional Cash Transfer to about 200,000 beneficiaries.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who has fought for the full coverage of 4Ps in Albay’s 15 towns and three cities, said the program actually constitutes the biggest and the more socio-economically beneficial relief to the province in this period of economic stress. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Monday, June 23, 2014

Salceda joins panel of experts to review HUDCC report on habitat

LEGAZPI CITY, June 22 (PNA) -- The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), together with the United Nations–Habitat (UN Habitat) and concerned government agencies, has prepared a Philippine National Report for Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda for the 2016 World Conference on Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).

The HUDCC, however, would first present the first draft to a group of experts for review and comments “to ensure that new ideas, current views and critical thoughts on urban development in the Philippines are captured and incorporated in the report dated June 17, 2014.

In this connection, it has invited Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda to be among the panel of experts, in view of his interest in the sustainable development of Philippine cities as well as his involvement in urban development affairs, to a roundtable discussion at 10 a.m. on June 26 at the Magellan Function Room, 41st Floor Discovery Suites, 25 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Metro Manila.

The first draft of the national report shall be presented to the National Executive Committee for Habitat III before June 30 for its final review and approval.

The committee is composed of representatives of key shelter agencies and lead support agencies.

The national report contains six sub-themes: (1) Urban Demography (led by the Population Commission); (2) Land and Urban Planning (led by the HLURB); (3) Urban Economy (led by the NEDA); (4) Urban Governance and Security (led by the DILG); (5) Environment and Urbanization (led by the DENR); and (6) Housing and Basic Services (led by the HUDCC).

Two regional consultations -- one in Cagayan de Oro for the Mindanao regions and another in Cebu for the Visayas regions -- were held on June 2 and 6, respectively, to present the briefs of the thematic reports for validation and enrichment by stakeholders and development partners from the regions – i.e., the regional government offices, local government units, private sector, academe and non-government organizations.

A national consultation was held after the regional consultations to review, augment and refine the content of the sub-theme reports. (PNA) SCS/FGS/CBD/PJN

Key Bicol LGUs support UNDP project on migration, development initiatives
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, June 22 (PNA) -– The six provinces, seven cities and three capital towns in Bicol are supporting the Joint Migration and Development Initiative Phase 2 (JMDI 2) being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), according to Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda, concurrent Bicol Regional Development Council chair.

The JMDI 2 is a global program that aims to strengthen and reinforce the role of migration for development by upscaling and institutionalizing local migration and development (M&D) initiatives.

The project, Salceda said in an interview Sunday, will contribute to the attainment of the objectives of the regional development plan, especially on ensuring economic growth and providing for basic needs.

It specifically aims to: (1) raise awareness of key Bicol local government units (LGUs) on the strategic value of M&D; (2) develop the capacity of target LGUs in mainstreaming M&D in local plans, investment programs and local projects; and (3) institutionalize local structures that will promote M&D and develop services for overseas Filipinos.

“It has a total funding assistance of USD229,998.98 and will be implemented over a 22-month period, which started in April,” Salceda said.

He added that the Naga City government’s project “Mainstreaming Migration and Development in the Governance of Local Authorities in Bicol Region” was selected as one of the two projects under the JMDI 2.

It aims to mainstream M&D issues in local development planning, investment programming and project development among the six provinces, seven cities and capital towns in the Bicol region.

The Bicol RDC chair said the project is expected to result in: (1) a high level of commitment to promote M&D issues, indicated by a signed covenant among target Bicol LGUs; (2) improved capacity on mainstreaming M&D in local development processes through the conduct of training programs and completion of M&D-responsive and gender-sensitive local development plans, investment programs, and pre-feasibility studies of projects for investment by overseas Filipinos; and (3) functional M&D councils in the target LGUs, organized through executive orders and ordinances.

He added that the UNDP has designated the Commission on Filipinos Overseas as lead government agency to provide technical assistance in the implementation of project activities. (PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD/RSM

AFP to honor Albayano Marine who died in Sulu encounter

LEGAZPI CITY, June 22 (PNA) -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will honor the Albayano soldier from Camalig, Albay, who died during an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Patikul, Sulu, last June 19.

Lt. Col. Johannes Dimaano, head of the Tactical Operations Group 5 of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), said the honors will be done during a ceremony on the interment of the fallen Cpl. Jose Mario Muron, whose remains lie in state at their residence in Barangay Ilawod, Camalig.

Muron will be given a 21-gun salute during his burial whose date has not yet been decided by the family, Dimaano said.

Relatives and fellow soldiers were emotional when they met the body of Muron that arrived from Metro Manila on board a C-130 plane at about 3:30 p.m. on Friday at the TOG-5 headquarters at the Legazpi Airport compound.

Muron’s group in the 2nd Marine Brigade encountered a group of Abu Sayyaf on June 19 where 10 ASG members and seven government troopers died and 24 were wounded. (PNA) SCS/FGS/AMM/CBD/PJN

Friday, June 20, 2014

City gov’t, DPWH implement P300-M urban drainage project in Legazpi
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 19 (PNA) – The local government here and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are now jointly implementing the P300-million urban drainage improvement project funded by the national government to put an end to the flooding problems constantly confronting the central district of this city.

The project covered by this funding, worked out by City Mayor Noel Rosal with Pres. Benigno Aquino III and recently released via the 2014 General Appropriation Act (GAA), involves the construction of seawall and flood control structure along Tibu and Macabalo rivers including tributaries and improvement of the Capantawan River channel.

It is part of the P2-billion flood control program approved by the President for the city last year and now ongoing implementation, Rosal on Thursday told the PNA here.

The entire program will provide giant pumping facilities to pump out into Albay Gulf flood waters from three strategic locations around the city’s urban center covering the entirety of its commercial, industrial and residential areas.

The works are now being undertaken by the DPWH in coordination with the City Engineering Office initially through the P800-million funding earlier released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“It was through the approval made late last year by Pres. Aquino of the project plan earlier presented by the city government that this gargantuan project is materializing in the city right now,” Rosal said.

The city mayor said the anti-flood project includes the construction of powerful pumping stations in barangays Victory Village, Bonot and San Roque -- all coastal barangays within the urban center.

It also involves the repair and construction of a dike along the Macabalo River and wide canals to serve as waterways.

A huge jetty will also be constructed along the Yawa River to ensure steady flow of flood water and secure dikes from over-flooding, the mayor said.

“Through local and national funds, we have also rehabilitated our century-old drainage systems around the city and established additional ones in areas where this kind of structures are needed most. These lead to the lessening of the city’s flood problems,” he said.

The P800-million fund now at hand is only for the support structures and the remaining balance from the P2-billion promised by Pres. Aquino will be for the pumping generators and other required equipment and facilities, Rosal said.

Like most areas of Albay, this city is prone to flash floods due to its proximity to lahar gullies and waterways on the slopes of Mayon Volcano.

Lahar and water rampage during heavy rains while many of the city’s barangays are in low-lying areas.

“The city government, under its public safety program, has been enhancing its calamity resilience and with these anti-flood projects, our place will soon be an all-weather city so that it becomes a very livable place more than ever,” Rosal said.

Meanwhile, he said, the widening of the Yawa Bridge, a major bridge along the national highway connecting the city with the first district of Albay province, is also set to start soon through the P50-million initial appropriation under the 2014 GAA released by the DBM.

Yawa Bridge is a 64-meter-long concrete structure whose two-lane make has grown too narrow for the burgeoning traffic between the city proper and its urban barangays on the northern side up to Tabaco City and five municipalities of the province’s first district.

The traffic congestion being caused by the bridge as the bottleneck would be eased by widening it to four lanes—a project approved by Malacañang for an amount of P140 million, according to Rosal. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Albay helps smoking employees ‘kick the habit’
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, June 19 (PNA) – Helping all smoking employees of the Provincial Government of Albay quit the habit is one of the important items in the agenda of Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda now.

In fact, Salceda has issued an order enjoining these personnel to undergo a Smoking Cessation Clinic during office hours for the purpose.

The order came while the entire country is observing the No Smoking Month this June.

“We need to start it within our respective offices, departments and units,” Salceda said in his order.

The provincial government is strictly implementing Provincial Ordinance No. 10-2002, otherwise known as the “Smoke-Free Ordinance of Albay” and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, 2013-10.

The order requires all offices and departments to submit to the Office of the Governor a list of identified smoking employees who will be required to attend the clinic to be facilitated by personnel from the Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN), Provincial Health Office and Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH has started its anti-smoking campaign through posters showing graphics of tobacco-related diseases to scare smokers and discourage the youth and would-be smokers.

Smoking is known to be the leading cause of lung cancer and other tobacco-related diseases and deaths worldwide.

The government has not stopped warning smokers about the dangers of tobacco smoking.

For its part, Legazpi City has continued its existing strict implementation, apprehending violators; while Daraga, Tabaco, Ligao and Guinobatan put up posters and information and education campaign materials around their areas.

Last year, the province, through the SFAN, attempted to land in the Guinness World Records by forming the World’s Largest Human No-Smoking international sign.

The move sought to show to the world how everyone in Albay supports the province's anti-smoking advocacy.

On June 28 last year, a crowd of 13,892 people in red, white and black hooded shirts assembled at the Bicol University football field.

Although the attempt failed, no-smoking advocates hailed the formal signing in public on that day by Salceda of the implementing rules and regulations of the province-wide ordinance.

Further, although the attempt failed to put the event in the Guinness book, the World Records Academy has informed the Smoke Free Albay Netwqork, the group tasked to assist in the implementation of the Albay Smoke-Free Ordinance, that the event was already accepted as a world record. (PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD

Salceda sees international airport in Albay finished in May 2016
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, June 19 (PNA) -- Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda sees the completion of the South Luzon International Airport (SLIA) project in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, Albay, in May 2016, following the announcement made by President Aquino on June 12 that it is one of the administration’s projects in Bicol.

Salceda said the horizontal work of SLIA will be bid out in July and will be finished this year, including the ramp and runway and the construction of the terminal with a "bahay-kubo" or nipa hut design.

He said he is optimistic it will be finished before the presidential elections in 2016 because there is no other project like this under the Aquino administration.

“Of the projects announced in 2010, the SLIA will definitely be finished in 2016,” the Albay chief executive reiterated.

Salceda said the total cost of Php 4.7 billion is comparatively small compared to some other projects of the Aquino administration like the light railway train extension to Cavite, which will cost the government some Php69 billion for only 14 km.

He said that once completed, the SLIA will have four bays and can accommodate Airbus 360 and the first international flight will come from Inchon, South Korea, and most of the Asian hubs like Hongkong, Singapore and Bangkok.

Salceda said the SLIA has to establish its spokes, including new the Milagros Airport in Masbate, Virac Airport in Catanduanes and Naga Airport in San Jose, Pili, Camarines Sur.

Targeted to link Bicol to international airways, the national government has so far released Php 1.7 billion for civil works, engineering and right-of-way acquisition for the SLIA project.

Started five years ago, the SLIA is a 300-hectare airport complex with 2,200-meter runway strip, night-capable landing and take-off facilities, apron and taxi, control tower, passenger terminal, cargo terminal, car park and fire station.

The government released Php 250 million from the General Appropriation Act (GAA) in 2007, followed by two more releases amounting to more than Php 167 million for right-of-way acquisition and detailed engineering design.

In the years to follow, the national government released funds for civil works, broken down as follows: Php 300 million in 2008 and another Php 300 million in 2009.

There were no releases in 2010 and 2011.

In 2012, the national government released Php 963 million for the SLIA project.

Rolling over private properties, the SLIA project has paid for 1,477,525 square meters of private lots affected by the development.

The SLIA is a perfect site with wind conditions conducive to year-round air transportation, according to a Department of Transportation and Communication’s study.

It takes a critical role in tourism and increasing air traffic of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the region, and the progress of the regional economy, the DOTC added.

With SLIA, tourists anywhere in the world can fly easily to Albay with travel time shortene.

Once operational, the SLIA will be a gateway for foreign tourists and investors to Bicol from their point of departure outside the country with its completion and assured regular allotment from the national government. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD/

PCA-Bicol sets up defense line vs ‘cocolisap’
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 19 (PNA) -– Local coconut industry authorities are fortifying Bicol’s line of defense against the likelihood of an attack by the pest now wreaking havoc on plantations in provinces of the nearby Southern Tagalog Region.

The pest called coconut scale insects (CSI) and locally known as “cocolisap,” according to recent reports, have been attacking coconut plants in the Southern Tagalog provinces of Batangas, Cavite, Laguna and Quezon -- all in the western flank of the Bicol Peninsula.

And since CSI is dispersed by wind, the probability that the pest may reach Bicol grows with the coming of "habagat" (southwest monsoon), PCA Regional Director Mateo Zipagan on Thursday said here.

Also known as Aspidiotus destructor Signoret (Hemiptera: Diaspididae), CSI are small insects which are plant parasites that usually cause problems not only in coconut nurseries and young palms but also among those that are already bearing nuts.

Its enigmatic nature, which is very small and remains undetected for long periods -- during which it rapidly multiplies before infested leaves show signs of yellowing, is a big problem being encountered by PCA in dealing with this pest, according to Zipagan.

On infested coconut plants, these insects reside underneath the leaves of young palms while in affected bearing palms, they are found not only at the underside of the leaves but also on the surface of the fruits and petioles.

These insect pests cause yellowing or chlorosis, wilting, premature nutfall and low yield because they continuously siphon off the plant sap with their specialized mouth parts.

Thick sooty molds grow on the honeydew excreted by these insects, preventing photosynthesis.

In the process, coconut trees die because CSIs block leaf pores, preventing leaves from producing nutrients for the tree.

So far, Zipagan said coconut plants in Bicol, particularly in Camarines Norte, the region’s province closest to Quezon, remain free of the pest and “while praying that its extent do not reach any part of our area of jurisdiction, we remain steadfast in fortifying our defenses against it.”

To make sure that cocolisap does not stage a “surprise attack” on Bicol’s coconuts, he said, an awareness campaign has been put in place by his office in partnership with local government units (LGUs), initially in Camarines Norte.

The local media have also been tapped to help in the information dissemination drive to make the farmers more aware on how to combat the possible infestation, Zipagan said.

A team of PCA workers is now making rounds in Camarines Norte’s municipalities—first in Sta. Elena and Del Gallego that both share territorial boundaries with Quezon Province -- to discuss with LGU officials several measures related to the awareness campaign, he said.

And to arm Bicol with effective anti-cocolisap fighting tools, the PCA regional chief said, mass breeding of predatory coccinellids (Cryptolemus and Telsimia) beetles that eat scale insects in the affected areas is also ongoing.

“We will release these predators once the CSI is detected in any part of Bicol,” he said.

On the other hand, the Albay Research Center (ARC), the study arm of PCA based in Guinobatan, Albay, is looking for sustainable long-term solutions—one of which is biological control.

This initiative is being collaborated by ARC with the Bureau of Plant Industry’s (BPI) Plant Quarantine Service (PQS) and National Crop Protection Center (NCPC), both of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Biological control, Zipagan explained, involves insects, earthworms and other species which may become predators of CSI.

“It is a way that lets nature take its course on preventing the spread of the infestation,” he said.

Another pest-fighting measure that PCA-Bicol is putting in place is mechanical control wherein the scale insects and mealy bugs are scraped out manually from young coconut plants or sprayed off with a jet of soapy water.

Washing infested plant parts or a brisk wash spray of water can be helpful in reducing insect populations, particularly in cases of small infestations and/or in young palms, Zipagan said.

Also part of this mechanical control is leaf pruning and disposal of pruned leaves by burning, reducing the reproducing population of the scale insects and mealy bugs and preventing the spread to other areas.

Chemical control with contact or systemic insecticides can be used but is effective only for the "crawler" stage of the pest or the very young scale insect.

Furthermore, the use of insecticide spraying is also applicable but only for young palms and seedlings.

All these measures, Zipagan added, are recognized by Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francisco Pangilinan who recently created a national task force which he tasked with its implementation to address the cocolisap infestation. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Cemetery for sea creatures rises inside BFAR compound
By John Mark Escandor

BULA, Camarines Sur, June 19 (PNA) -- A cemetery for sea creatures deemed protected under the law for being endangered or threatened -- like whale sharks, dolphins and manta rays -- has risen inside the 15-hectare compound of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Barangay Fabrica here.

BFAR Regional Director Dennis Del Socorro said Thursday that the cemetery for cetacean raises awareness on mammals that live on the marine waters like whales and dolphins and marine species that are endangered or threatened.

“By establishing the cemetery for these sea creatures, we convey marine mammal protection and conservation and raise the level of awareness, on marine flagship species, of people visiting our office,” Del Socorro said.

He said it was established under the concern of the Fisheries Regional Emergency Stranding Response Team, a group responsible for conducting emergency rescue operation and postmortem examination of protected marine species.

Nonie Enolva, marine biologist and chief of the response team, said the carcasses of two whales and two dolphins were buried in the cetacean cemetery, and the fifth carcass buried on June 6 was a 625-kg reef manta ray.

Enolva narrated that the more than a half ton of reef manta ray was accidentally entangled in a fishing net owned by small fishermen in Pilar, Sorosogn, and was turned over to the local government unit (LGU) there, then reported to the team.

She described the reef manta ray to be female and it spanned 4.15 meters in width with one of its two rostrums, protrusions on the left and right sides of mouth that guide its feeding, was not there anymore.

Enolva said Dr. Evelyn Saberon, BFAR’s veterinarian, conducted a necropsy on the carcass of reef manta ray and found out that its internal organs were in good condition, so it was declared that it died due to deprivation of dissolved oxygen caused by its entanglement in the net.

“The manta could be one of those which aggregate in Ticao Island’s manta bowl fronting Pilar town,” she said.

Enolva said that one of the carcasses buried at the cetacean cemetery was that of a pregnant dwarf sperm whale which was found dead by fisher folk of Barangay San Rafael, Ragay, Camarines Sur.

She said they were able to recover a fully grown fetus with its umbilical cord intact which they have preserved as a laboratory specimen for educational and research purposes.

Enolva said the establishment of cetacean cemetery in Bicol was pushed after stranding cases grew through the years.

She said the academe or research institutions are welcomed to excavate the bones of dolphins, whales and manta ray for reconstruction and display in their premises.(PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD

DENR to lead tree planting activity on Arbor Day

LEGAZPI CITY, June 19 (PNA) –- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol regional office will lead stakeholders from the various sectors of the society in the planting of trees at the foot of Mt. Mayon in connection with the celebration of Arbor Day on June 25.

DENR Bicol Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said he expects a bigger participation of various sectors in the tree-planting to be specifically conducted in Barangay Lidong, Sto. Domingo, Albay.

Gonzales said the village is among the areas that are targeted for the National Greening Program of the government, which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land in the entire nation.

“The activity is one way of making the public a part of the government’s effort to reforest mountains,” he added.

About 2,000 seedlings were planted on the same date last year, which was participated in by 400 volunteers. Gonzales said the Arbor Day celebration is mandated under Proclamation No. 643 where all agencies of the government, government-owned and –controlled corporations, private sector, schools, civic groups and others are enjoined to be a part of. (PNA) LAP/FGS/AMM/CBD/

PAGASA, JICA choose Bicol as pilot area for weather forecasting capacity enhancement project
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, June 19 (PNA) -- The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have chosen the Bicol Regional Weather Station here as the pilot area for the implementation of the Weather Observation Forecasting Capacity Enhancement Project.

The project is part of the technical cooperation ties between PAGASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Nakamura Hayato, JICA project formulation advisor, said the JICA earlier donated three Doppler weather stations costing a total of 3.3 billion yen as grant from the Japanese government.

These are stationed in Virac, Catanduanes; Aparri, Cagayan; and Guian, Samar.

Raymond Ordinario, weather specialist of the PAGASA Central Office, said that as partner of JICA in the project, PAGASA provides the necessary technical support.

Also cooperating in the project are the Office of Civil Defense, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) and various local government units.

Ordinario said the group had just visited the Virac Doppler Radar Station and met with officials of the APSEMO, OCD and PAGASA Regional Weather Station in this city.

He said the information that will be gathered by the three Doppler radar stations will be more detailed and easily understood by the public.

The PAGASA Central Office will do the analysis of the information that will be gathered by the stations.

After the analysis, it will pass the information to the regional forecasting stations for their local forecasting and warning.

The project aims to coordinate the weather forecasting and warning in a certain area like the Bicol region and moreover, to strengthen the capability and knowhow of weathermen in the entire country through the sharing of technical knowledge and knowhow between Filipino and Japanese weather experts.

Sato Nobuo, PAGASA chief adviser/weather specialist, said the automated weather stations will give advance weather forecast and warning to a specific place in the country like Albay province.

All PAGASA personnel nationwide will undergo training in connection with the project this coming July. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spanish ambassador to grace Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day bash in Legazpi
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 18 (PNA) -– Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Manuel Domecq Fernández de Bobadilla will be the guest of honor when the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day is celebrated in this booming metropolis on June 28.

To be spearheaded by Bicol University (BU) with main campuses here, the celebration will be themed “Educating to Build Resilient Communities through Philippines and Spanish Partnership,” Fay Lea Patria Lauraya, the university president, on Wednesday said.

“Given that theme, we have chosen Barangay Oro Site as the center of this forthcoming celebration because of its reputation and active involvement in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) initiatives,” Lauraya said.

Along with the city government, this urban barangay located at the heart of the city’s commercial district and headed by its chairman, Joseph Philip Lee, has been able to exceptionally manage its DDR commitments leading to regional and national recognition as among last year’s Gawad Kalasag national champions, Lauraya said.

The city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (DDRM) has been adjudged 2013’s best for the Component/Independent City City category while its Barangay Oro Site won the number one spot for having the Best Barangay DRRMC for the Urban Barangay Category, nationwide.

Gawad Kalasag is a nationwide award given yearly in recognition of excellence in disaster risk reduction and management and humanitarian assistance.

Kalasag stands for Kalamidad at Sakuna, Labanan, Sariling Galing ang Kaligtasan.

The Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day is celebrated nationwide every 30th of June and this year’s celebration will coincide with the 115th anniversary of the Siege of Baler -- a lengthy military operation of Filipino forces against the final holdout of Spanish troops in the Philippines who were garrisoned in the church of Baler, now the capital of the province of Aurora.

It ended with Spanish capitulation, with then President Emilio Aguinaldo issuing a decree that those Spanish soldiers who survived the siege be treated not as enemies and prisoners of war but as friends.

They were granted safe passage to Manila, en route to their return to Spain, as a tribute to the loyalty and gallantry they had displayed.

This act of chivalry and military honor would later form the basis for the promulgation of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day by virtue of Republic Act. No. 9187, s. 2002.

RA 9187 states: “June 30 is a day when President Emilio Aguinaldo commended the besieged Spanish soldiers in the Church of Baler for their loyalty and gallantry. To mark this momentous occasion, there is a need to declare said day a national holiday to remember the act of benevolence which has paved the way in bridging better relations between Philippines and Spain.”

City Mayor Noel Rosal said the city government partners with BU in this celebration of the strong links between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain.

“We are greatly honored to play a part in this celebration particularly that our city, which began as a barangay called Sawangan whose early inhabitants were mostly fishermen and farmers, was named as how it is called today to perpetuate the memory of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Spanish conquistador who served as the first governor of the Philippines, from 1565 until his death,” Rosal said.

A Legazpi statue now prominently stands along a modern boulevard built by the local government along the city shoreline which was also named after him.

Since its opening about three years ago following seven years of civil engineering works and landscaping, the Legazpi Boulevard, considered the longest outside Manila, has become one of the most picturesque seaside roads in the Philippines, with a spectacular view of the Mayon Volcano and Albay Gulf.

The boulevard has also become a favorite recreation area for the city owing to the cool, fresh sea breeze gently blowing from the gulf.

In mornings and afternoons, locals, visitors and tourists rendezvous at the boulevard for their outdoor physical fitness rituals.

“We Legazpeños specially celebrate the friendship between Philippines and Spain because we know that our city occupies a special place in the heart of the Spanish Government as manifested during the visit of Queen Sofia of Spain last July,” Rosal said.

In that visit, Queen Sofia acknowledged the city as the model in the Spanish government’s global initiatives towards environmental protection and preservation amid the growing impacts of climate change.

The city also recognizes the Spanish government through its Agencia Española de Cooperation Internacional Para el Desarrollo (AECID) as among the biggest donors in the local government’s initiatives toward urban and rural developments that now see the city as the most advanced in Southern Luzon in terms of tourism, business investments, infrastructure development and ecological care, he added.

Among the forms of assistance that the city has received from AECID was the P100-million grant four years ago for the establishment of the modern sanitary landfill that the local government now uses in its ecological solid waste management program. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DENR turns over 4 rescued hawk eagles, 2 hornbills to Albay Park and Wildlife

LEGAZPI CITY, June 18 (PNA) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol regional office turned over to the Albay Park and Wildlife on Tuesday four juvenile birds rescued in Barangay Tabugon, Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte, on May 20 for treatment and rehabilitation until they are healthy enough to be released into their natural habitat.

DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said Alice Mata, of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office – Daet, turned over a crested hawk eagle, a Philippine hawk eagle and two Natural Rufous hornbills.

Mata said three other juvenile birds failed to survive after they were rescued from an attempted smuggling aboard a Manila-bound bus.

She said the DENR has filed a case against Wilbert Era, bus conductor of Twin Hearts bus, for violation of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act.

Era was caught in possession of the juvenile birds, which are considered as threatened species under the statute. If found guilty of the offense, the bus conductor will suffer the indeterminate penalty of six months and one day as minimum and one year as maximum or a fine of P10,000 to P100,000. (PNA) LAP/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Paje cites two DENR Bicol officials for ‘Yolanda’ aid role

LEGAZPI CITY, June 18 (PNA) -- Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje recognized the efforts of two Department of Environment and Natural Resources Bicol officials for their important role during relief operations for typhoon “Yolanda” victims, the Regional Public Affairs Office said Wednesday.

Paje cited DENR Bicol Regional Executive Director Gilbert C. Gonzales for having immediately dispatched a team led by Forester Gemma Lavilla to assist victims of the super typhoon, especially the affected personnel and their families in the DENR regional office.

He handed the Award of Commendation to the two Bicol personnel during the agency’s 27th founding anniversary celebration in Quezon City recently.

The DENR Bicol was the first regional field office outside Region VIII to organize a team that went to Tacloban City and immediately undertook relief distribution to the affected personnel of the typhoon-ravaged region.

Lavilla, a native of Tacloban, Leyte, helped secure the aid materials against pilferage, set up relief operation and upon instruction of Gonzales, coordinated with active government agencies of Eastern Visayas -- including the National Bureau of Investigation.

After negotiating human corpse-strewn roads two days after the typhoon and amid life-threatening situations, the DENR Bicol team reached Tacloban City and immediately buckled down to work.

The DENR Leyte personnel immediately received relief goods and their predicaments were documented and relayed to the DENR Central Office, paving the way for increased assistance and resumption of service delivery in the region, Paje said.

In giving the award to Gonzales and Lavilla, the DENR secretary said he considered the DENR Bicol officials’ deed as “acts of courage and bravery.”

“I don’t deserve it. What prompted me was the instinct to make life easier for our neighbor-region in the Visayas,” Gonzales said regarding the award. (PNA) CTB/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Legazpi hits .5-M tourist arrivals mark in 2013 (with photo)

LEGAZPI CITY, June 18 (PNA) – This leading Bicol metropolis called in the world’s travel market as the “City of Fun and Adventure” received last year over half a million tourists—a whopping increase of 32.27 percent from the previous year’s number of arrivals.

City Mayor Noel E. Rosal announced this in his yearly “Ulat sa Bayan (Report to the People)” last Monday.

As recorded by the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Tourism based here, Rosal said, the total arrivals of both domestic and foreign tourists in the city for the whole year of 2013 reached 579,470, which was higher by 141,370 over the 2012’s 438,100 figure.

“Our 2013 tourist arrival figure is good enough for the meantime—surpassing even the 523,832 arrivals that the entire province of Albay posted in 2012. We hit the half million mark last year and by 2016, our goal is to hit the one million mark,” Rosal said.

The local government relentlessly pursues a massive tourism promotion campaign that highlights the city’s irresistible natural wonders to world-class facilities.

“Tourists now visit Legazpi not only for the breathtaking view of Mt. Mayon, one of the world’s most active volcanoes made famous by its magically-configured perfect cone form, but also for its sparkling metropolis loaded with heavy tourism-related activities and exciting places to relax, play and enjoy a healthful living,” Rosal said.

The city’s air and coastal waters are certified “clean” by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) while the local police consider the peace, order and security prevailing over its communities as stable and manageable.

The city is also recognized now as a “convention capital” owing to its attractiveness as a venue of big formal gatherings such as international conventions, conferences, meetings and reunions.

And since tourism growth enlivens trade and commerce, the mayor said, the local business climate has also been made pleasant as investment opportunities have been going broader and more fortified.

Among the latest and most significant additions to the city’s commercial and tourism landmarks are the Central Bus Terminal cum Metro Hub and Lifestyle Center, a P300-million Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investment that refurbished the city’s public transportation landscape into a first-rate facility for travelers.

The Liberty Commercial Center (LCC) management is likewise in the process of constructing a more modern mall within a 1.5-hectare site at the city’s commercial district for its latest expansions.

The Marina-inspired Embarcadero de Legazpi has also been continuously expanding its facilities from a mere information technology hub and high-end commercial complex into a first of its kind tourist-oriented leisure park in Bicol.

Works on the “mega highway” project to connect the city’s urban district with the Southern Luzon International Airport is now undergoing construction in nearby Daraga town and expected to be completed in the first half of 2016.

According to Rosal, the mega highway -- whose prime section is the now-famous Legazpi Boulevard, will traverse several upland villages of the city and “will be our new investment haven and another site for our tourism industry development.”

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

Riding ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) over lava hills and along rugged crevices down Mt. Mayon slopes and a climb to Lignon Hill Nature Park are among the exciting experiences for tourists in the city.

Another boost to these gains of the city in terms of tourism, jobs and investment is the proposed “sister cities” tie with Xiamen, a major city on the southeast of the People's Republic of China that is one of the four original Special Economic Zones opened to foreign investment and trade when China began economic reforms in the early 1980s. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Works on Legazpi’s Php200-M ‘tourism mega highway’ ongoing

LEGAZPI CITY, June 18 (PNA) -– Works on the Php 200-million “tourism mega highway” that will open a direct link between this tourist city and the South Luzon International Airport (SLIA) now being constructed in the nearby Daraga, Albay, are ongoing, City Mayor Noel Rosal on Wednesday said.

It will be a 10-kilometer concrete road whose prime section is the now-famous Legazpi Boulevard in Barangay Puro, a four-kilometer stretch of wide concrete road bordering the long beach of Albay Gulf and serving as an artistic milieu for physical fitness activities that is well-lighted at night, clean, easily accessible, secure and free from air pollution.

The “mega highway,” according to Rosal, will traverse several upland villages along the southern sector of the city and become the new local investment haven and another site for tourism industry development.

Now ongoing construction through Public-Private Partnership arranged by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), SLIA will be a modern facility to replace the existing Legazpi Domestic Airport that sits within the city limits not far from the Albay provincial Capitol and the Legazpi City Hall.

This new airport is a Php 4.7-billion project approved by the Aquino administration to provide Bicol a safe, efficient and dependable transportation system that meets international standards and practices.

Of the Php4.7 billion, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) already released P150 million for this airport development project this year via the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

A total of Php 2.1 billion has already been spent from 2007 to 2012 for advance work such as earthwork, right-of-way acquisition, access road construction and preliminary detailed engineering.

The DOTC has assured that it will finish the construction by the end of President Aquino’s term, saying this improvement will help further economic development in the region.

The “tourism mega highway,” which is part of the local and national government’s public investment for access roads leading to tourist destinations, is expected to be completed by the end of next year, according to Rosal.

It traverses a rolling terrain over hills and mountain sides along four agricultural barangays that would offer travelers a panoramic view of Albay Gulf.

At night, the entire stretch will be lighted by colorful streetlights to make the highway another sight to behold, he said.

Implementation of this new highway is being jointly undertaken by the city government and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which this year has been allocated under the General Appropriation Act with an amount of Php80.8 million.

“What are ongoing now insofar as this new highway is concerned are road opening and concreting projects, which are almost halfway to completion,” Rosal added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Legazpi mayor vows to preserve 8 big trees in proposed mall site

LEGAZPI CITY, June 17 (PNA) -- Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal defended the local government of Legazpi City against criticisms to the construction of a mall, activity center and museum at the former Locsin Park in Albay District here.

In his "Ulat sa Bayan 2014" on Monday afternoon, Rosal cited the advantages of entering into a public-private partnership to develop the area, which, he said, would bring another opportunities to Legazpeños.

The city chief executive has been questioned on the possible cutting of trees within the natural park if he would pursue with the city government’s plan.

According to Rosal, only Legazpi City has a concrete greening program wherein the local government unit plants almost 10,000 trees a year every Valentine's Day, so he assured the public that the city will preserve the more or less eight big trees based on the terms of reference the Sangguniang Panlunsod has approved.

"I already issued the notice to proceed. I tell you, we will preserve what should be preserved. The Locsin Park will not be an eyesore to Albay District," he stressed.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, a staunch protector of the environment, has directed former Albay board member Arnold Embestro, newly appointed environment and natural resources officer of the province, to issue a moratorium on cutting trees. (PNA) FPV/FGS/AMM/CBD/UTB

Legazpi legal officer reminds project, service contractors to strictly follow bidding requirements

LEGAZPI CITY, June 17 (PNA) -– With multimillion-peso projects in the city government’s pipeline, a city official has reminded all interested manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, contractors or consultants who want to participate in the bidding for the city’s projects to comply with all the necessary requirements issued by the bids and awards committee.

"This is to ensure that the procurement process will be fair and square and the bidding is transparent and competitive," City Legal Officer Marietta Belgica said in an interview Tuesday.

She also advised the concerned persons to first seek registration with the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS).

Among those subject to bidding, Belgica said, are infrastructure projects, which refer to the civil works of the government such as construction, improvement and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, railways, airports, seaports and communication facilities, among others, to be used in sustaining the progress and development of the city.

Construction of public school and hospital buildings are also included in the infrastructure projects to give the students, particularly in the far-flung barangays an opportunity to finish their studies.

To provide health care services, the city government also constructs hospitals for treatment of indigent and needy Legazpeño patients, the city legal officer pointed out.

Belgica said irrigation, flood control and solid waste management facilities are also part of the list of government infrastructure projects to increase agricultural productivity and ensure proper waste disposal.

“Government infrastructure projects are considered as an accelerator for the economic growth of every locality, that’s why the city government always includes these in its projects in the pipeline," Belgica said.

All interested persons with knowledge and expertise in the area of consultancy who want to render services as consultants for civil work projects of the government in the form of advisory and review services, pre-investment or feasibility studies, design, construction supervision, management and related services and other technical services or special studies, shall also undergo the bidding process, she added.

Further, parties who want to supply goods and materials needed in the construction of the government projects or activities such as the repair and maintenance of equipment and furniture, trucking, hauling, janitorial and security and other related analogous services are included in the procurement process.

On the part of the city government, Belgica said, the city government’s bid and awards committee has the responsibility to advertise or post the invitation to bid, conduct pre-procurement and pre-bid conferences, evaluate the bids, determine the eligibility of the bidders, undertake post-qualification proceedings and recommend the award of contracts to the head of the procuring entity.

The lady lawyer stressed that the BAC should advertise the invitation to bid at the PhilGEPS as the definite source of information of all public bidding.

To strengthen the capability of BAC members, she said, the Department of Budget and Management, in cooperation with the European Union, recently conducted a seminar-workshop on the Government Procurement Policy held at the Twin Towers Hotel, Ortigas Avenue, Mandaluyong City.

Belgica said the activity tackled the bidding procedures for infrastructure, goods and consulting services. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EPS/CBD/UTB

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bicol farmers back in the field as wet season starts (Feature with photo)
By Danny O. Calleja

CASTILLA, Sorsogon, June 16 (PNA) – Since last week, farmer Romeo Llandelar of Barangay Mayon here has been starting his days in the farm earlier than dawn -- preparing his one-hectare rice field for planting as the wet season begins.

“Habagat na ang hangin at hudyat ‘yan na tag-ulan na. Kaya heto kami, balik sa gawaing-bukid (The wind is already southwest monsoon and it signals that it is already rainy season. So here we are, back to farm works),” he said while taking a noontime break in a farm shed Monday along with several fellow farmers and randomly discussing some farming concerns.

Municipal agriculturist Marleen Quiñones was among the small crowd participating in the discussions, keeping the farmers abreast with the latest developments in the field and to enhance their enthusiasm to learn the best farming practices.

Her presence was part of the “Usapang Palay (Rice Talks),” a project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that features an interactive activity focused on the sharing of rice information and technology updates among the agency, agricultural extension workers and farmers in line with the Aquino administration’s Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Program (FSSP).

The project also has something to do with the DA’s rice self-sufficiency target before the end of this year with the implementation of a medium-term agricultural and fishery sector mechanization and modernization program that commenced in 2011 and to last until 2016.

The Aquino administration envisions to attain rice self-sufficiency and the DA is bent on providing interventions to ensure that rice production will increase.

“We have been making the rounds in barangays, organizing crowds and starting conversations with updates unfolding in the rice industry like the prevailing palay price in the local market, the government-subsidized buying price of the National Food Authority (NFA), private trading situations, new farming technologies, rice consumption management, success stories and problems encountered, among others,” Quiñones explained.

Planning for the next cropping season is also discussed so that synchronized planting in a particular barangay is done for better pest management, irrigation water allocations and seed preparations, she said.

“Farm technicians and extension workers are trained on how to keep Usapang Palay discussions with farmers alive and it is interesting to note that farmers themselves are radiating to their counterparts in neighboring areas significant matters reached during latest talks,” she added.

Llandelar and his group are part of the nearly half a million rice farmers across Bicol who, since last week, have made themselves once more busy in their fields when habagat started to prevail following a long dry spell that started early this year.

Areas harvested with rice in Bicol, according to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), are 313,602 hectares, 248,550 hectares of which are irrigated and the rest are rainfed.

The province of Camarines Sur has the biggest rice area, with 158,348, hectares supplying 45 percent of the regional rice regional requirement; followed by Albay with 48,638 hectares.

Masbate ranks third in terms of area devoted to rice with 39,148 hectares; Sorsogon - 33,804 hectares, Camarines Norte - 20,671 and Catanduanes - 12,993 hectares.

And as earlier advised by government farm technicians, Llandelar and his fellow farmers in the village and other neighboring areas are planting this month earlier than the usual beginning of the cropping season that used to be on the late part of July, for good.

The same advice is carried by the Seasonal Climate Outlook and Advisory (SCOA) regularly being disseminated by the DA’s regional office for Bicol based in Pili, Camarines Sur, through the Internet, from where farm technicians derive information that they relay to farmers in their respective areas of responsibility.

In its latest SCOA posting covering the period between May and July, this year, the DA advises farmers all over the region to plant early in June and July due to high moisture availability owing to normal-to-above-normal rainfall forecast.

It said planting early within the period would enable farmers to harvest before the typhoon season that usually comes in September to November.

Forecast rainfall analysis for the six provinces of the region is “near normal” in the late part of this month and “near normal” to “way above normal” the whole of July.

Near normal rainfall in June and above normal condition in July will favor crop establishment due to the available soil moisture, the SCOA said.

However, it warned that the above normal rainfall in July might cause prevalence of insect pest and fungal disease on crops; chronic respiratory or bacteria diseases in poultry; hemorrhagic septicemia in ruminants; and pneumonia and diarrhea for swine, it said.

Weather systems to affect Bicol during the period, according to the SCOA based on climate forecast issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), are trough of low pressure areas, tail end of cold front and inter-tropical convergence zone.

In its weekly weather outlook from June 13 to 20, PAGASA said southwest monsoon prevails over the country, making most part of the country, including Bicol, cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorm.

“Itong habagat ang pinakahihintay namin at sa wakas, dumating din matapos ang mahaba-haba ring tag-tuyot. Humupa na ang init ng panahon kaya ulan na ang susunod (This southwest monsoon is what we are waiting for and at last it came after a relatively long drought. Temperatures have started to go down, thus, rains will follow),” Llandelar optimistically said.

In fact, he added, there have been already occurrences of occasional rainshowers and thunderstorms in afternoons and early evenings since last week, providing farms with humidity required for land preparations to an early planting season.

In high spirits, Llandelar and all other rice Bicolano rice farmers expect to recover from the production losses they suffered from the long summer heat which damaged vast rice plantations here and most areas in the region.

These production losses, however, according to the DA, will not severely affect the region’s overall rice output that last year attained 99.75 percent of the target and recorded a 5.96-percent production growth rate over 2012.

With that, Bicol achieved a 118.19-percent RSS level which means Bicolano farmers produced 18.19 percent more than the amount local consumers could eat, latest agricultural production data of the DA say.

Palay yield in the region also increased from 3.51 metric tons per hectare in 2012 to 3.62 metric tons last year, representing a 3.13-percent growth rate, DA data also show. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

BRTC set to implement Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon area development plan
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, June 16 (PNA) – The Bicol Regional Tourism Committee created by the Bicol Regional Development Council is all set to implement the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon (AlMaSor) Area Development Plan (ADP) 2015-2020 which was approved by the RDC in its full-council meeting last June 6, Department of Tourism Bicol Regional Director Maria “Nini” Ong-Ravanilla told the PNA on Monday.

The BRTC, in coordination with the TDA Management Office -- which is under the supervision of the DOT-Bicol, provides the policy direction and coordinates the implementation of the AlMaSor ADP.

“We are making sure that the priority programs/projects/activities identified, be these access/product development/institutional governance and human resource development, are met. We need the full support of the local government units (LGUs) and the convergence of national government agencies (NGAs) to make it happen,” Ravanilla stressed.

The DOT-Bicol -- in collaboration with regional line agencies, LGUs and the private sector – is aggressively pursuing tourism development programs to contribute 1.2 million foreign tourist arrivals to the 2016 national target of 10 million.

The AlMaSor ADP 2015-2020 provides the overall framework in addressing the primary tourism concerns of connectivity and access, tourism product development and governance.

It aims to develop new and emerging destinations that will increase domestic and foreign tourist arrivals in the region by providing quality tourism a products and services.

"The development of AlMaSor TDA will contribute to the attainment of the objectives of the Bicol Regional Development Plan, one of which is to increase gross value-added from tourism sector with adequate and quality tourism promotion services and infrastructure facilities," RDC Chair and Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said..

The Bicol RDP 2011-2016 identifies tourism as one of the most promising and resilient sectors that will spur economic development in the region, Salceda added.

The AlMaSor TDA is one of the top five TDAs in the central Philippines with the capacity to support strategic and niche products that are attracting tourists.

The AlMaSor ADP was formulated in accordance with RA 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009, the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2011-2016, and the updated Bicol Regional Development Plan 2011-2016.

The NTDP was formulated envisioning the country to become the “must experience and more fun” destination in Asia in accordance with RA 9593, Salceda explained.

It aims to develop a highly competitive, environmentally and socially responsible tourism, providing widely distributed income and employment opportunities.

Under the NTDP, the Philippines was subdivided into three greater regions: Northern, Central and Southern Philippines.

The greater regions are subdivided into 21 thematic cluster destinations, which are further subdivided into 77 TDAs.

Salceda said the Bicol Tourism Cluster was subdivided into two TDAs: the Triple C (Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes) and the AlMaSor.

The idea is to focus on the comparative advantage and desirability of specific destinations and develop them as “power brands” that will create global awareness, he clarified.

The AlMaSor TDA is the first of the 77 TDAs with an area development plan, which aims to put Bicol in the global tourism market.

Specifically, the ADP aims to: (1) Set the vision and future direction of tourism development in Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon; (2) Guide the various stakeholders on the key areas for tourism development, related tourism facilities and services, and support infrastructure; and (3) Specify the roles and responsibilities of key players, institutional arrangements and resource requirements.

It aims to address the following needs: (1) Address high poverty incidence, especially in Masbate; (2) More investments in tourism-related infrastructure; (3) Enhance education and skills of the workforce; (4) Improve access and connectivity; (5) Improve facilities and services; (6) Extensive tourism promotion and marketing; and (7) Create healthy business environment and transparent and proactive tourism rules and regulations. (PNA) FPV/FGS/CBD/