Thursday, July 31, 2014

The President knows best, Bicol villagers say on SONA
By Danny O. Calleja

CASTILLA, Sorsogon, July 30 (PNA) -– Hundreds of villagers in Barangay Mayon of this impoverished town gathered shortly after dusk Tuesday at the village square where a 32-inch television screen was mounted over head.

The show they watched was the playing of the recording of President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered at the Batasang Pambansa and aired live over televisions last Monday.

The entire village was unable to watch it live at home because their power supply was cut off by typhoon "Glenda" last July 15 and yet to be restored by the local power distributor—Sorsogon Electric Cooperative II.

Cable TV connections were also broken.

And since it has been a habit of the barangay to watch President Aquino deliver his SONA since his first in 2010, Ferdinand Ballatan, the barangay chairman, was compelled to have it recorded so they would not miss the President’s 5th, although late, on compact disk and on a TV monitor run by a portable power generator.

Loudspeakers were also mounted around the venue to reinforce the audio output of the TV set.

“I requested a friend in Legazpi City to have the SONA recorded on CD and I got the copy Tuesday afternoon. After works, these people are now gathered to watch together the SONA, as what we have been doing yearly since PNoy became our President,” Ballatan told the PNA.

He said “the President knows best what really is happening to our country and what the government is doing for its people like us, that is why it is only upon him that we rely when it comes to the state of the nation,” Ballatan said in local dialect.

He and his village mates, Ballatan said, seldom pay attention to news reports concerning the political affairs and negative issues constantly being raised by the opposition against the Aquino administration.

“Yes, we listen to news over radio and TVs from the limited number of channels reaching us, but we always take them for granted as these information outlets are most of the time not objective. Newspaper circulation does not reach the village and we do not have Internet connection to provide as more information.” according to him.

But when it is the President talking on radio or TV, that’s the time that they take news seriously and the SONA, the village chieftain said, is the best source of information that they can rely on for the truth.

Unlike the lavishly furnished Batasan Hall and gallery where the legislators, their spouses, invited guests and cabinet secretaries, among other VIPs, in luxurious attires watched and listened to the President delivers the SONA, the village’s plaza where the villagers mostly in their dirty work clothes gathered for it is a fenced open pavement that serves as a basketball court, palay drying area and public dance site.

And in contrast with the Batasan where the President’s audience ceremoniously arrived walking gracefully on the red carpet raring to catch the attention of TV cameras and press photographers, the entrance of the village plaza was muddy.

While people at the Batasan were seated comfortably on foamed chairs, the village square had no seats for everybody and villagers were either standing or sitting on the concrete floor as they attentively watched the President delivered his speech for over an hour.

Occasionally, they would break their silence with hand clapping and yells of approval everytime the President made mention of something of their concern -- one of them the free vocational training program that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) offers to poor students.

“Totoo’yan. Isa ako dyan (That is true. I’m one of those),” Alexander Mangampo yelled when the President on the early part of his speech stressed on the accomplishments of the TESDA program that have benefited hundreds of thousands of poor youth.

Mangampo, 25, later told PNA that he completed a two-year auto mechanic course two years ago at the TESDA Mayon Campus and is now gainfully employed as an instructor in the same school.

Barangay Mayon plays host to a TESDA training school for short-term vocational and technical courses.

The agricultural education campus of the Sorsogon State College is also in the village.

When President Aquino made mention of his administration’s anti-poverty programs, particularly the Conditional Cash Transfer under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) being undertaken by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the villagers acknowledged it with cheers as among them are over 200 household-beneficiaries.

The Department of Agriculture’s undertakings toward farm productivity was another item in the President’s speech that was wildly applauded and Romeo Llandelar, president of the Mayon Irrigators Association, explained that the irrigation systems of their rice farms are now working, providing sufficient water to their once rain-fed paddies.

Technical and farming inputs interventions have also been coming to them from the DA under its Agri-Pinoy Program on Rice that provides new technologies, hi-bred seeds and farm mechanization equipment,he said.

“Sagana na kami sa ani at kumikita nang maayos mula sa aming palayan (We now have abundant harvest and earning substantially from our rice farms),” Llandelar said.

Barangay Mayon is a modest agricultural barrio of about 600 households that rely mostly on rice farming, vegetable production and livestock-raising for their livelihood.

Llandelar said his group appreciates very much DA’s intervention program in line with the Aquino administration’s Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Program (FSSP) that has something to do with the rice self-sufficiency target with the implementation of a medium-term agricultural sector mechanization and modernization program that commenced in 2011 and to last until 2016.

The mention of the government’s gains in its anti-insurgency campaign was another item in the President’s speech that drew a thundering applause from the villagers.

“Yes, yes, yes!” they applauded with their clenched fists raised.

The village, which sits four kilometers from the national highway, was a hotbed of insurgency for decades until in mid-2000s when then town mayor Renato Laurinaria, who later became Sorsogon’s provincial governor, declared an “all-out war” against the New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the municipality.

That campaign, motivated by the abuses and atrocities ranging from extortion and public executions of “uncooperative” civilians committed by local elements of the NPA, gained support from the barangays and the military, forcing the rebels to give up the area.

Now, Barangay Mayon is a peaceful community with people living normally without fear from the cruelty of the insurgents and even by abusive government soldiers who once treated barangay folks as enemies.

A detachment of the Philippine Army manned by friendly soldiers now exists in the village safeguarding the gains of the local anti-insurgency campaign and helping the villagers live a peaceful life.

After the show, the villagers, satisfied by what they learned from the SONA, moved in good spirits from the plaza.

“Masaya kami at malayo na pala ang narating nating mga Pilipino tungo sa mga pagbabago at maayos na pamamalakad ng ating pamahalaan. Saludo kami kay PNoy (We are glad that we, Filipinos, have already gone that far towards reforms and good governance. We salute PNoy),” Llandelar said.

But before the villagers could disperse, Ballatan addressed them: “Pagkatapos ng SONA ni PNoy noong Lunes ay may mga negatibong pagpuna mula sa kanyang mga kalaban sa pulitika na ating narinig. Huwag nating silang pansinin. Basta tayo, tanging sa Presidente lang naniniwala tungkol sa mga usaping sangkot ang pamahalaan (After PNoy’s SONA last Monday, we heard of negative comments from his political enemies. Let us not mind them. For us, it is only the President whom we should believe when it comes to matters concerning our government).”

So, for these lowly villagers, feeling that President Benigno Aquino III had spoken directly to them once again for the fifth time through the SONA, the government has been coming so close to them even as the same occasion happens only once year.

Ballatan said, “the President has one more and we will never miss it next year. After that or when PNoy completes his term, we hope that his successor does the same.” (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bicolana champion cop shooter gets efficiency medal

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, July 29 (PNA) – Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Police Regional Office 5 regional director, awarded during the regional office’s flag-raising ceremony here on Monday the PNP Efficiency Medal to PO2 Jennifer Kristine P. Galang for being the Champion in the Lady PNCO Category Individual Shooting Competition.

The shooting contest was held during the Chief PNP Cup: Glock Shooting Challenge held at Olongapo Practical Shooting Association Firing Range, Naval Magazine, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Olongapo City, on June 26-27.

The shooting competition, which is in line with the Chief PNP’s Strategic Focus “CODE-P 2013 and Beyond,” was participated in by selected shooters from the different offices/units nationwide.

Deona also awarded a PNP Merit Medal each to Insp. Renato B. Ibarondo, SPO3 Francis Fidel R. Agnas, PO3 Michael A. Barra and PO1 William V. Bagasbas in recognition of their distinct accomplishment as team leader and members of the combined elements of the Provincial Intelligence Branch, Camarines Sur Provincial Police Safety Company and Nabua Municipal Police Office, Camarines Sur PPO, during the Intelligence Buildup and subsequent implementation of Search Warrant Nos. 2014-19 and 2014-20.

The team was able to arrest on May 14 at Zone 4, Barangay La Opinion, Nabua, Camarines Sur, Phillip B. Sacdal, Penvenbar B. Sacdal, Raymundo B. Salazar and Christian P. Hernandez.

It also confiscated one .45-caliber pistol, one .38-caliber revolver, assorted ammunition, 12.505 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, 0.177 gram of dried marijuana leaves and several drug paraphernalia.

“Their sterling performance immensely contributed to the campaign of the PNP against illegal drugs and loose firearms in line with LOI ‘Kontra Droga-Bravo’ and ‘Kontra Boga-Revised’, thus earning credit not only for themselves but also for the Philippine National Police,” Deona said. (PNA) SCS/FGS/EMC/CBD/

DOLE allots Php 25M for emergency employment of Bicol workers displaced by 'Glenda'
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) – The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is providing some Php 25 million for its emergency employment program that would benefit about 7,700 Bicolano workers displaced by typhoon "Glenda."

DOLE Regional Director Nathaniel Lacambra on Tuesday said the provision of emergency employment to residents, with the bulk coming from Albay province, affected by the typhoon will be implemented under the agency’s Tulong Alalay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) program.

The program is based on instructions received from Labor and Employment Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz shortly after the typhoon hit most parts of Bicol last July 15, with Albay suffering the widest extent of damages compared to other provinces in the region.

In her instructions, Baldoz directed the DOLE Bicol regional office to map out plans for the rehabilitation and speedy recovery of workers affected by the calamity, according to Lacambra.

“After determining the baseline data on the damage extent by way of coordinating with local disaster risk reduction authorities, we were able to come up with this intervention, the fastest that the agency could offer under this emergency situation,” he said.

Data obtained from the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) for Bicol have it that Albay recorded a total of 308,046 persons, representing 62,951 families from 160 barangays, who were evacuated to safer grounds and economically displaced by the typhoon that triggered flashfloods and landslides.

Across the region, the RDRRMC reported that a total of 2.04 million individuals belonging to 468,174 families were affected while 33,898 and 134,835 houses were totally and partially damaged, respectively.

The typhoon also left enormous damages on crops and other sources of livelihood of the victims, RDRRMC records show.

Lacambra said TUPAD will start up implementation in Albay, considering this province suffered devastation the most from the recent typhoon Glenda and with the biggest number of families directly affected.

DOLE-Bicol and Albay DRRMC authorities are now in the process of identifying the program’s prospective beneficiaries who need the most assistance, he said.

“Rehabilitation requires team effort, thus, data and recommendations from the Bicol RDRRMC and Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office regarding this concern will be our baseline. They are the ones in the field so they know which areas need the most intervention.” Lacambra explained.

He clarified that workers to be hired under the TUPAD program will come from the areas hardest hit and labeled “priority” on the list of the RDRRMC and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils across the region. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Sorsogon solon urges gov’t agencies: Expedite typhoon aid
By Bobby Q. Labalan

SORSOGON CITY, July 29 (PNA) – Congresswoman Evelina Escudero has urged government agencies to extend all the help that their respective offices can extend to those affected by typhoon “Glenda” even as she called on them to expedite the required processes.

Escudero made the appeal following the visits she made to various villages affected by the recent calamity, bringing with her some food stuffs, medicines and emergency flashlights.

“Our kababayans need government help now more than ever and we should respond immediately to lighten their sufferings,” she told some agency heads whom she talked with after the typhoon.

The woman legislator asked Director Nathaniel Lacambra of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to facilitate prompt approval of applications for aid by typhoon-hit areas, especially those who are seeking cash-for-work assistance.

If possible, government agencies should minimize the requirements for the release of the assistance but without necessarily violating rules and policies, Escudero said.The two officials discussed DOLE-initiated programs during the turnover of livelihood kits under the “Kabuhayan Starter Kits” Program in Barangay Buhatan.

Lacambra assured the lady lawmaker that he would cause immediate actions on all applications for assistance in his office, especially those coming from typhoon-affected areas.

Earlier, Escudero met with Sorsogon City Mayor Sally and the barangay chairmen about the damages wrought by the howler and discussed possible means of assisting them.

Escudero also talked with Ruby Abundabar, the schools division superintendent in the province, about the damages inflicted on public school infrastructures.

She urged Abundabar to submit an accurate report so it could be considered when deliberations for the 2015 budget start next month.(PNA) CTB/FGS/BQL/CBD/

DSWD extends Php 30-M worth of emergency assistance to 'Glenda' victims in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -– The Department of Social Welfare and Development Bicol regional office here has reported that it had provided about Php 30-million worth of emergency assistance to over two million Bicolanos affected by typhoon "Glenda."

Apart from this amount, local government units (LGUs) and the private sector also extended some Php 5.4 million and over P48,000 in relief goods, respectively, Arnel Garcia, DSWD regional director, on Tuesday said.

In his report to DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, Garcia said the agency provided a total of Php 29.9 million in relief assistance with the biggest bulk amounting to Php 24.05 received by the province of Camarines Sur, followed by Albay which got Php 2.037 million and Sorsogon, Php 1.97 million.

The three other Bicol provinces of Masbate, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes also received assistance from the DSWD worth Php 654,080, Php 650,000 and Php 475,000, respectively, Garcia said.

LGUs in Masbate augmented the amount received from DSWD with some Php 1.7 million in relief goods; Albay, Php 1.6 million; and Camarines Sur, Php 1.08 million, he said.

Sorsogon LGUs, meanwhile, provided assistance to their respective constituents affected worth a total of about Php 976,171 while Catanduanes released P27,000 worth of relief goods.

The assistance given to typhoon victims were family food packs, each containing three kilos of rice, five packs of noodles, four cans sardines, two cans corn beef and eight sachets of 3-in-1 coffee -- each worth P269.30 good -- for a family of five members, Garcia said.

Reports from several barangays in Sorsogon, however, have it that most families who were affected by the typhoon received only ¾ kilo of rice each and nothing more.

Garcia said the LGUs made use of their calamity funds in providing assistance to their typhoon victims.

He also reported that 468,174 families, composed of 2,003,605 individuals, were affected by the typhoon across Bicol.

A total of 33,898 families were left homeless while 134,838 households have their houses partially damaged, Garcia added.

Camarines Sur reported 194,161 families of 742,878 individuals affected; Sorsogon, 121,796 families or 576,974 individuals; Albay, 110,527 families represented by 501,460 individuals.

There were 28,452 families or 116,504 persons affected in Camarines Norte; 9,170 families or 45,538 individuals in Masbate; and 4,068 families and 20,251 persons in Catanduanes. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Sorsogon village faces ‘extinction’ due to flooding; EDC blamed
By Bobby Q. Labalan

SORSOGON CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- A village in Bacon district here may soon be erased from the map of this city if the geo-hazard threatening it would not be acted upon, the village chief on Monday warned.

In a meeting of barangay captains called by City Mayor Sally Lee to assess the damages wrought by recent Typhoon “Glenda,” village chairman Tito Dio of Barangay Osiao said the typhoon spawned massive flooding in their barangay, made worse by the infrastructure put up by the Energy Development Corp. (EDC).

Dio blamed the disaster to the Bac-Man Geothermal Production Field whose water drainage empties onto the village.

“Their open canals are directed towards us; say, there are five canals measuring about 0.4 by 0.8 meter on top of the mountain at the back of the village, imagine the volume of water that this drainage system pumps down to our barrio,” Dio narrated during the meeting.

He said the flood has damaged the entire rice farms in the village, turning rice paddies into a river.

Dio said that due to the enormous water coming from the geothermal field owned by the EDC, the river path has been altered and has run towards rice farms.

“Our farmers are supposed to harvest by September but now everything is gone,” Dio lamented.

He appealed for immediate help to dredge the river so that the original course of the water would be restored.

“If no action will be done soonest, our barrio would be erased from the city map -- especially with the onset of the rainy season,” he stressed, as he called on the Lopez-owned EDC to have pity on them.

Dio said they can no longer protest against the operation of the giant multinational company as it would be like crying in the wilderness but they just want some help to spare his constituents from danger.

“We just want to appeal for help,” he claimed.

The village chief said at least 200 households are directly threatened by the inundation.

He said that since the EDC flattened the mountain at the back of the village and constructed a production plant, flooding at the barrio has become more frequent.Water quality also deteriorated and has turned mocha in color.

The geothermal company has not yet visited the village, the official said, adding that flooding has become a normal occurrence in their barangay since EDC started its expansion -- and sometimes, some scrap materials from the geothermal plant like tires are washed down to the barrio.

He said they fear that toxic chemicals from the plant might have been spilling down to the river during heavy rains as there have been instances when water smelled of chemicals.

Dio also complained about skin diseases which are being attributed to the plant operation, though, he said, those afflicted are being assisted by EDC and brought to a skin clinic in Legazpi City.

Ed Jimenez, EDC’s local community relations officer, said he would bring the matter to the attention of his superiors even as he tried to downplay the complaint of Dio. (PNA) LAP/FGS/BQL/CBD

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Legazpi mayor thanks President Aquino for helping boost city's economy

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PNA) -- Albayanos felt proud while watching President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday afternoon.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal said President Aquino showed his sincerity to his job in promoting good governance and progress in the country.

“We are very grateful to the President because he really cares for and loves Legazpi City because for four years, he has infused multi-billion-peso funding for infrastructure projects in the city. These initiatives are making Legazpi the fast-rising economic and tourism hub in the country today,” Rosal said.

Architect Kristine Lagman, a member of the United Architects of the Philippines and a Bicol University professor, said one thing she expected and hoped in Mr. Aquino's SONA was that everything would materialize.

“Education is everything. The President must give more funds to education,” Lagman stressed, adding “It is right to reveal to the public the present condition of our national budget as well as the economy of the Philippines."

The salary of rank and file employees in the government should also be given priority by the administration not only those in the private sector, she said.

Market vendor Maria Vibar smiled and clapped her hands as she watched the President on television.

Vibar said Mr. Aquino's SONA made her proud as an Albayana as the President mentioned Albay for the recent zero-casualty experienced by the province from Typhoon “Glenda.”

"As an Albayana, I was happy and felt special when the President gave recognition to our beloved province," she added.

For his part, barangay tanod (village watchman) Christopher Abellano expressing hope that President Aquino will see the plight of village volunteer security men like him. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/UTB

Albayanos elated over President Aquino’s special mention of Gov. Salceda in SONA
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PNA) -– Albayanos expressed elation when President Benigno Aquino III made special mention in his State of the Nation address of the zero-casualty experienced by the province of Albay when the super typhoon “Glenda” unleashed its fury on the night of July 15.

They joined President Aquino in crediting Albay Governor Joey Salceda for his early order for a preemptive evacuation, as he had always done in the past, starting that Monday afternoon as the storm continued to move toward Bicol.

“Congrats po, Gov. Joey! Ang galing n’yo!” said second year college student April Abarquez.

“Tama lang ma-mention ni P-Noy si Gov. Joey (It's but right for P-Noy to have mentioned Gov. Joey). He really deserves the citation,” Odette Ternate, a public elementary school teacher, commented.

Salceda, in turn, credited the Albayanos for the success of the zero-casualty policy of the province.

"I am grateful to the people of Albay for heeding our call always to go to safer grounds so that no single precious life will be lost due to disaster. This is our paramount policy. Foods are given to them before evacuation to ensure that their food is provided before the disaster strikes,” the governor said when sought for comment on Mr. Aquino’s special mention of him.

He also commended the President for the immediate assistance he has been giving to the province whether in times of calamity or not.

It can be recalled that although "Glenda" felled old trees and electric posts along the main roads, crippled businesses and uncovered, if not flattened, government and private buildings and residential houses along its path, it failed to break the solid zero-casualty policy of Albay.

This, observers attributed to the preemptive evacuation and counter-measures adopted by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headed by Salceda himself as chairman.

Based on the report of Salceda, as of 5:00 p.m. on July 15 when "Glenda" made landfall in Albay, the PDRRMC had evacuated a total of 65,082 families or 320,784 persons living in flood, lahar flow and wind/storm surge-threatened areas.

He designated 114 school classrooms as evacuation camps for thousands of people as he ordered since Monday afternoon the suspension of classes at all levels in both public and private schools across the province, after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration placed the province under Storm Signal No. 2 at about 10 a.m. Monday.

“We had 5,000 bags of NFA (National Food Authority) rice to be given to the evacuees to ensure that their lives are at safe condition,” Salceda said.

In its 11:00 a.m. bulletin, the PAGASA said it had placed all provinces in the Bicol Region, except Masbate, under Signal No. 2.

Salceda immediately warned all residents along river systems and steep slopes to go to pre-identified safer grounds and facilities for possible evacuation in case of flood and landslide for disaster avoidance.

He also ordered all Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils to be on heightened alert in their respective areas of responsibility to monitor the status of Glenda.

On his instruction, the Philippine Coast Guard prevented small fishing vessels and passenger sea craft from sailing.

Salceda also asked Albayanos to expect regular and periodic issuances of further emergency advisories through the Albay PDRRMC’s Smart infoboard and local broadcast stations. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/UTB

Monday, July 28, 2014

Police rescue female teenager from pot session

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) –- A speedy relay of information to authorities saved a 16-year-old girl from a group of drug addicts having a pot session inside the Golden Leaf Hotel on Misericordia St., Barangay Tinago, Naga City, Friday night.

Rescued was Sherrybel (not her real name), a student and resident of the city.

A police report named the suspects as Jhon Josua Abad, 22; Jarid Ortua, 21; Jun-Jun Lopez, 19; and Phil Alfred Atos, 21 – residents of different barangays in the city.

The report said the operation was conducted at about 6:55 p.m. Friday after the mother of the teenager went to the police office to report that she had received information that her daughter entered the hotel with the four suspects and went inside Room 203.

The police immediately set up the rescue operation and found that the suspects were taking shabu.

They recovered from the room several plastic sachets containing shabu, cash, a cellphone, digital weighing scale and drug paraphernalia.

The authorities believed that the four suspects had a bad intention in the girl who, they said, was already drugged at the time of rescue.

The girl’s mother profusely thanked the texter who informed her about her daughter’s whereabouts.

The police are now investigating the suspects as to where they got the supply of the illegal drug which they also sell to students in the city. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/rsm

6 Bicol provinces, one city included in search for PHL's 100 millionth babies
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- Seven of the 100 millionth babies to be born at exactly 12:06 a.m.on Sunday, July 27, will come from the six provinces and a city in the Bicol Region, the home of 5,420,511 Bicolanos.

Magdalena G. Abellera, Bicol regional director of the Commission on Population (PopCom), said the city will yet to be selected through drawing of lots from among the seven Bicol cities.

The winners will receive P5,000 worth of starter kits, which may include cloth diaper, clothing, baby bag, blanket and other baby accessories.

Abellera said the general guidelines on the search for the 100 babies who will be born to symbolize the 100 millionth Filipinos are: the babies are born at exactly 12:06 a.m. on July 27; should have been born in a government licensed health facility, whether national or local, and run by the national or local government; the baby's parents should be residents of the city or town in the province where the health facility is located; and the baby is born through normal, spontaneous delivery.

Induced birth or caesarean operation will not be accepted.

To ensure simultaneous timing of birth nationwide, she said, the health facility must be observing the Philippine Standard Time, and certified by the attending doctor or birth attendant.

"In case of a tie, a member of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) will be given additional weight," Abellera said.

She said the local government unit or the local chief executive should be present in the health or birthing facility on the date and time of the newborn to account for the "new constituent" in his locality.

"Provinces and cities taking part in the search will be given a week to report the baby's birth to PopCom," Abellera added.

The official said the event signifies a happy and challenging demographic moment in the lives of the Filipinos.

"On this day (July 27), the 100 millionth Filipino baby will be born, marking a celebration of life and a prospect for another productive citizen if proper care for his/her growth will be accorded sustainably," Abellera said, adding that "The 100 millionth Pinoy will usher a symbolic hope for better quality of life for every Filipino as he/she epitomizes the challenge to make every Filipino count in prosperity and development."

The projected count of 100 millionth baby is based on the population count in the country, she added.

Overseas Filipinos are not included in the count. (PNA) CTB/FGS/SMT/CBD/rsm

Salceda asks help of Cabinet members for early restoration of power service in Albay
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- Governor Joey Sarte Salceda on Saturday said he has asked the assistance of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras and National Electrification Administration head Edith Bueno for the restoration of power service in the entire Albay province within two weeks.

"Gov, per Ellen Go, restoration is within two weeks po. On sked ang APEC, she said, and this has been properly disseminated," was Bueno’s answer to the governor.

Earlier, Salceda expressed irritation on the announcement of the Albay Power Energy Corp. (APEC) that the electricity supply in the entire province will be restored in October this year yet.

This announcement raised the eyebrows of power consumers in the province.

“The restoration schedule of APEC wherein the last village to be given power service will still be in October is foolish,” Salceda said.

He said the absence of power is a big loss to the economy of Albay and that the APEC should double time in their power service restoration efforts for the sake of the 1.3 million Albayanos and also, to prevent further losses for the company itself.

"Those schedules being released by APEC refer to the deadline for the last barangay to be energized in a particular locality. I told them that this is insane. Anyway, it is a loss-loss situation for all of us. They lose money and we suffer, too. The best way is to look at doubling the restoration efforts as an investment and to insure them against future losses so there will be spontaneous funding," he clarified

The restoration schedule of APEC was announced by Jane Rogando, company spokesperson.

Electricity was first restored in backbone lines in APEC’s three service centers in the province -- Tabaco, Legazpi and Ligao cities.

Next will be the lateral or interior lines which are part of distribution lines of APEC down to the barangay level. Rogando also said earlier that the town of Malinao has two feeders and power service in the area is expected to be restored in Feeder 1 on July 30 and in Feeder 2, on Aug. 31.

The four feeders in Tabaco City will have power supply on Sept. 30.

On Branch II in Legazpi City – composed of Bitano and Washington feeders – power will be restored as follows: Bitano Feeder 1, July 29; Feeder 2, Aug. 8; Feeder 3, Oct. 15 and Feeder 4, Sept. 15.

At the Washington substation: Feeder 1, Aug. 3; Feeder 2, Aug. 30; and Feeder 3, Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, in Branch III, the APEC cannot yet issue the exact restoration schedule because it is still assessing the effects of typhoon “Glenda” in the area.

Rogando said their office has already issued its weekly restoration plan.

She clarified, however, that the schedule of dates of power restoration is subject to changes, depending on the extent of damages in a particular area. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/rsm

PopCom to launch interactive youth portal in Bicol
By Ma. April M. Mier

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- The Commission on Population (PopCom) will launch a teen resource portal on Aug. 29 to deliver critical information on sexual debut to Filipino teens in the Bicol Region.

The online portal www.u4u.ph or the U4U (You-for-You) is a dynamic and interactive website that allows teen users aged 10 - 19 to learn about self-identity, friendship and health advocacy to delay sexual debut and prevent sexually transmitted infections, Josephine Chua, PopCom Planning Officer IV, said.

With the 1.46-percent increase in population growth Bicol, there is need to start and reiterate awareness among youth, she explained.

"This would be of great help to youth, instead of browsing at any other sites, in here they can know themselves more through interactive portal and, thus, prevent early sexual debut," Chua stressed.

Study shows that due to exposure to technology, there is an increase in the rate of teenage pregnancy, she added.

“The sexual behavior of these people changes due to access to pornographic materials,” the PopCom official said.

The Youth Hub is also supported by UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Interested youth will just need to register in the site and fill out personal information wherein they can post their questions and seek for answers and counseling.

"Hopefully, we can help them learn to say "no" (in sex) because I believe being in a relationship at their young age can not be permanent," Chua added.

It can be done also through an Interactive Voice Response System through an automated mobile service that gives a recorded information to teens who will send a "U4U" text message to dedicated phone numbers -- Globe: 0915-523-8885, Smart: 0908-158-8885 and Sun: 0942-843-8885 -- and the texter will wait for a free call from the system where he/she can ask questions on teen health, sex and other concerns.

It is dubbed with a line "Para sa tanong na hindi matanung-tanong, ito ang sagot, Mag text... Magtanong... at Matuto."

The PopCom started the pre-test or pilot stage in November 2013 in other cities and officially launched it on Jan. 15 in Ligao City, Albay. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MAMM/CBD/rsm

(SONA) Bicolanos see full resumption of PNR trips under PNoy administration

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) -- Bicolanos are confident that they will once again see the famed Bicol Express train cutting through regional borders between this city and Manila, moving people and goods in less expensive means within the remaining two years of the term of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III.

That confidence was built by the recent enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 10638 that extends the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) for another 50 years starting last June 20, Marcial Toangqui, a prominent local businessman who once served as president of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on Friday said.

The same law amended RA 4156 -- the Act that created the PNR "as a corporation to serve as the instrumentality of the Government of the Philippines in providing a nation-wide railroad and transportation system, which shall exist for a term of 50 years from its approval” on June 20, 1964.

“Masaya ito pagka bumiyahe na uli ang tren dito sa atin.

Marami ang magkakaroon ng pagkakakitaan, katulad naming mga nagtitinda ng pagkain at mga nagbubuhat ng mga kargamento (It will be fun once the train resumes its trips here. Many will be provided with earning opportunities, like us food vendors and the baggage boys),” Pamela Lopez, a 60-year old carinderia owner here, said.

She said hopes are high on her part and many Legazpeños that the administration of Pres. Aquino will be able to bring back the trains to this city before he finishes his term in 2016.

She recalled that PNR trips last arrived at the PNR Central Terminal here more than 30 years ago and before that, commerce was alive within the facility 24/7, owing to the trooping of hundreds of incoming and outgoing passengers daily.

The trains stopped serving the Manila-Legazpi route sometime in the late 1970s due to the deterioration of the railroad tracks between Calamba, Laguna, and here, which PNR was not able to maintain due to huge financial losses in its operations then.

Rehabilitation of the railways and other PNR facilities between the route covering a distance of 483 kilometers was first attempted in 2005 with an allocation of Php 35.15 billion and scheduled for completion by 2011.

The project, however, suffered a major setback when super typhoons "Milenyo" and "Reming" successively battered Bicol in 2006, rendering heavy damages on the railways between Naga City and here.

Plans then to restore the Legazpi trips were shelved even as the Naga City-Manila trips were maintained intermittently.

In 2011, the administration of Pres. Aquino pushed for the resumption of the rehabilitation of the damaged Bicol section of the railways, which was eventually completed up to Ligao City, Albay a year after.

Manila-Ligao trips were restored in early December last year, raising optimisms that rehabilitation works for the railway line down to here would be completed at once so that trains would be once more seen traversing its original route deep into the central point of Albay.

Train trips, famously called the Bicol Express, have been an important component of the regional economy because of its contributions to trade, tourism and transportation, according to City Mayor Noel Rosal.

He said that with the imminent restoration of train trips to here, trade activities would greatly improve as local products and those from manufacturers in Calabarzon and Manila would use the railways, thus, this would result in cheaper products, freight cost and fast travel time.

“Rail transport is the cheapest, while exerting competitive pressure on the other forms of transportation by increasing supply,” Rosal said.

He also noted that the rail transport is government-subsidized up to 70 percent anywhere in the world in order to equalize opportunities for the rural countryside and promote tourism as well.

For tourism, Bicol Express also offers a different and distinctive perspective of the countryside to tourists both domestic and foreign as it gives unrestricted view of the Mayon Volcano surrounded by the greenery of Bicol farmlands, he said.

“With Bicol Express, passengers have all travel options... rail, road or air options between this city and Manila and rest of Luzon,” the city mayor added.

According to Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of the lone congressional district of Catanduanes and who chairs the House committee on transportation, the resumption of the Legazpi trips would “close the loop” linking the North and South Rail projects.

“We recently conducted an inspection tour on the Southern Tagalog-Bicol PNR route to determine the physical condition of the rail tracks and gauge what assistance is needed to rehabilitate and modernize national rail operation,” Sarmiento said.

PNR, he said, is proposing for Php 11-billion budget for 2015 for the repair of the tracks and acquisition of new coaches that could help make it a viable alternative mode of transportation between the Bicol-Manila route.

The amount, which is for capital expenditure that is much higher than the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)’s recommended subsidy of Php 374.18 million, was proposed by PNR General Manager Joseph Allan Dilay during the recent public hearing of the House transportation committee, according to the Catanduanes congressman.

Sarmiento quoted Dilay as saying in the proposal that DBM’s recommended amount is not in line with the goal of the PNR to improve the Bicol line.

Under their proposed budget, which Pres. Aquino is very likely to approve, the PNR seeks to spend Php 5.2 billion to rehabilitate the line between Calamba City and this city; Php 3.65 billion to purchase new passenger cars, and the rest to acquire other new equipment, Sarmiento said.

On top of this, the state-owned rail company is seeking for another Php 625.8 million to repair the stations, bridges, and railroad tracks, he added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/cbd/utb

PCA allays fear of ‘cocolisap’ infestation in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) – When a news that the dreaded coconut scale insects (CSI), which the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) calls “cocolisap” had already reached the island- province of Catanduanes broke out, the agency’s regional office for Bicol based here was quick to declare it as a “false alarm.”

Not any coconut plantation in Bicol, which includes Catanduanes, has been detected by now to be affected by the pest that has been creating troubles in Southern Tagalog provinces, PCA Regional Director Mateo Zipagan on Friday said.

And while it is not impossible for cocolisap to reach Bicol when dispersed by the wind, Zipagan said his office and local government authorities have been keeping defenses fortified and making sure that it does not stage a “surprise attack.”

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, according to the PCA regional chief, coconut plants in Bicol, particularly in Camarines Norte -- the region’s province closest to Southern Tagalog, remain free of the pest and the news that broke out in Catanduanes about its alleged infestation in some plantations in the island was false.

What actually affects coconut plants in Catanduanes as well as in some parts of Bicol that the PCA is now actually attending to is brontispa (coconut leaf beetle), another plant-devastating insect that feasts on young coconut leaves, Zipagan said.

Some 18,000 hectares of coconut lands representing about 15 percent of the province’s plantations are affected by this pest, he noted.

It will not be easy for CSI to be carried by the wind and cross Maqueda Bay to reach Catanduanes but still, coconut trees in the island can be affected through birds that feed on the insects and fly to the island, he said.

To make sure that cocolisap does not stage a “surprise attack” on Bicol’s coconuts, Zipagan 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.

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 Plant Quarantine Service and National Crop Protection Center, both of the Department of Agriculture.

CSI infestation started in some parts of Southern Tagalog Region in 2012 with a 3.62-percent infestation.

Last year, the pest was detected in Quezon Province and latest PCA reports said that as much as 10 percent of coconut plantations in the area has been so far damaged, with the amount of industry losses placed at around Php 170 million.

The same reports said the infestation is now nearing the doorsteps of Bicol as few areas are already affected in Tagkawayan, a town that borders Camarines Norte.

As another counter-measure, Zipagan said his office has set up a quarantine area at Barangay Tabugon, Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte, to monitor the entry of coconut products.

A one-kilometer-wide buffer zone straddling the Quezon-Bicol border has also been set up and monitored daily by technicians while more than 24,000 of the yellow-black beetles have been released into the field to help control the infestation in some areas.

Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan has already created a national task force to look into and implement necessary measures to address infestation, with Malacañang authorizing the use of Php 700 million from the coco levy fund in the fight. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/cbd/

Damages in regional agri sector hit Php 3.7B
By Johm Mark Escandor

PILI, Camarines Sur, July 25 (PNA) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Friday that the partial damage estimate in agricultural production and infrastructure a week after Typhoon “Glenda” hit the Bicol region reached P3.7- billion as of 12:00 noon Wednesday.

Camarines Sur incurred the biggest losses in all areas of the agriculture industry, with damages estimated at Php 2.3 billion or 62 percent of the total regional losses.

Albay placed second in damages to agricultural production and infrastructure with Php 0.8-billion losses while Sorsogon was third hard-hit province, having Php 0.2- billion worth of destruction.

Masbate’s agriculture industry lost Php 0.1 billion; Catanduanes, Php 0.1 billion; and Camarines Norte, Php 97 million.

Across the agriculture industry, coconut production damages were estimated at Php 1.3 billion, distributed as follows: Camarines Sur, Php 0.8 billion; Albay, Php 0.4 billion; Sorsogon, Php 0.1 billion; Camarines Norte, Php 4.6 million; and Catanduanes, Php 2 million.

The damages included fallen nuts, trees and trees with broken trunks.

Masbate had no reported damage to its coconut industry.

Other crops damaged were rice, Php 790 million; corn, Php 280 million; high-value crops, Php 756 million; livestock, Php 41 million; agri-infrastructure, Php 392 million; fisheries, Php 74 million; and abaca, Php 135 million.

The DA said its damage report included dryers, barns and shades for animals, office buildings and fences for agri-infrastructure.

Damages in fisheries included motorized and non-motorized fishing boats, gears, nets, paraphernalia, seaweeds, hatcheries, mangroves, fish corrals, fishcages, ponds, abalones and green mussels.(PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/cbd/

Friday, July 25, 2014

(SONA) DOT cites Bicol’s tourism growth as great contribution to achievement of development plan
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PNA) -– Halfway of the ongoing implementation of the six-year National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) of the Department of Tourism (DOT) under the Aquino administration, Bicol has already contributed greatly to the realization of its goal, according to the agency’s top regional official.

“As an strategy in the implementation of the 2011-2016 NDTP, we identified the institutional role and responsibilities of the DOT and the local government units (LGUs) in key areas of Bicol toward the strengthening of local tourism governance and policy formulation,” DOT Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla on Thursday said here.

That way, she said, DOT was able to strengthen support for LGUs by establishing provincial tourism units that now function as tourism awareness and capability building arms of the agency, leading to the realization of the goal of NTDP, she said.

This goal, she explained, is to create “an environmentally and socially responsible tourism that delivers more widely distributed income and employment opportunities as indicated by 6.6 million international arrivals and 38.4 million domestic travelers -- generating Php1.8 billion in total expenditures, contributing 6.78 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 6.5 million people by 2016.”

So far, Ravanilla said, DOT and the LGUs in key areas of the region have been able to implement sustainable tourism development infrastructure program and develop diversified tourism products that engage local communities.

Public-Private Partnership (PPP)-based mandatory tourism enterprise accreditation system was also implemented along with the lowering the cost of business that enabled tourism investments, she said, adding that natural and cultural heritage and vulnerable groups were also safeguarded.

With all of these and many more activities related to the implementation of the NDTP in Bicol during the last three years, the region realized a remarkable growth of the local tourism industry as shown by increased arrivals of both foreign and domestic visitors and travelers in specific key areas like this city, according to Ravanilla.

Last year, she said, Legazpi emerged as the biggest gainer in tourism growth by posting a whopping increase of 32.27 percent from the previous year’s volume of arrivals.

As recorded by the DOT regional office, 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.

Following this development, City Mayor Noel Rosal has declared that the city has set a target of one million arrivals by 2016 with the LGUs continuing development of more tourism products and its emergence as one of the country’s convention capitals or favorite venues for grand international and national gatherings such as conventions and summits.

Since the last three years, the city has been playing host to about 20 big conventions, conferences and similar crowds, the latest of which were the triple meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations-United Nations World Tourism Organization (ASEAN-UNWTO) all held at the Oriental Hotel here and attended by 32 member-states represented by about 2,000 delegates.

Indeed, from nothing special but Mt. Mayon, Legazpi has grown into a world-class city now that plays host not only to thousands of tourists and visitors but also to an influx of investments and massive urban development that continuously attract travelers, Ravanilla said.

And since tourism growth enlivens trade and commerce, the local business climate has also been made pleasant as investment opportunities go 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.

This development is part of the local government’s public investment that now works on the “mega highway” project funded by the national government to connect the city’s urban district with the Southern Luzon International Airport now undergoing construction in the 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.”

Now, with this city on the lead as Bicol’s most-visited tourism destination, the DOT regional office has set the region’s three-year tourist arrivals goal at 5 million.

“Hitting this target would make Bicol a truly livable region where the reaping of the benefits from the local tourism industry left not any of the region’s six provinces, seven cities and 105 municipalities,” Ravanilla said.

Ravanilla, who also chairs the Bicol Regional Tourism Council (BRTC), said the five-million tourist target was arrived at following the recent formation of the “3Cs,” the cluster of three Bicol provinces-- Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur-- into a local tourism industry development alliance.

These provinces form the second cluster of Tourism Development Area (TDA) in the region as identified in the 2011-2016 NTDP.

The first cluster formed last year by the BRTC in collaboration with the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional office is the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Tourism Alliance (AlMaSorTA).

Then the formation of the “3Cs” was formalized through a covenant entered into among the three provinces represented by Governors Araceli Wong of Catanduanes, Edgardo Tallado of Camarines Norte and Miguel Villafuerte of Camarines Sur.

The covenant provides for the adoption of an inter-provincial tourism alliance strategy for local development with tourism as the main driver for economic growth and social progress, with the aim of uplifting the living conditions in the region and the three provinces by tapping their respective natural tourism resources, Ravanilla explained.

There are two sub-TDAs under this new cluster--the Caramoan-Catanduanes Tourism Link (CCTL) covering the tourism town of Caramoan, Camarines Sur and the entire Catanduanes area; and the Camarines Tourism Circuit (CTC) to cover the rest of Camarines Sur and the whole of Camarines Norte, according to Ravanilla.

AlMaSorTA, which was conceptualized as the tourism road map for Bicol, is designed to achieve development not only in the mainland provinces of Albay and Sorsogon but also in the island of Masbate.

It debuted its global exposure at the 2013 Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB)-Berlin as part of its integrated and comprehensive promotion strategy to market the potentials of the regional tourism industry, eyeing around 700,000 foreign tourist arrivals in the area annually within four years.

By featuring AlMaSor, which was tagged as the “Soul of the South” of Philippine tourism industry, ITB, the world's leading yearly travel trade held in Berlin, Germany on March 6-10 last year, notably helped increase arrivals of European visitors here and other parts of the cluster.

The cluster features Albay with its Mayon Volcano and the Cagsawa Ruins among the other tourism marvels of the province; Sorsogon offers its butanding (whale shark) interactions; while Masbate has its unspoiled world-class beaches.

Tour packages to these inviting destinations are offered to tourists, with this city taking the lead in view of its ethno-cultural logic and aggressive urban-rural development and making it known as the “City of Fun and Adventure” to the travel industry world. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Albay posts Php 7.6-B damage from 'Glenda'
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) – While Albay recorded no casualty during typhoon “Glenda,” the total damages in the various sector of the provincial economy ballooned to Php 7.6 billion, according to the latest report of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO).

Dr. Cedric Daep, APSEMO chief, said this could go higher as reports are not yet complete and these keep on coming from the 15 towns and three cities of the province.

Of this total, the infrastructure sector posted the highest, with Php 3.6 billion.

Damages to bridges and roads totalled Php 242.7 million; flood control, water irrigation system and provincial buildings, also amounted to about Php 242.7 million.

All these are under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Engineering Office.

Among the local government units (LGUs), the Municipality of Polangui registered Php 190 milion; Legazpi City, Php 100 million; Sto. Domingo, Php 64 million; Tabaco City, P23.2 million; Guinobatan, Php 23 million; Ligao City, Php 18 million; and Jovellar, Php 9.7 million.

The Agriculture and Fisheries sector registered Php 1.9 billion; coconut industry, Php 1.3 billion; vegetables, Php 386.8 million; rice, Php 166.4 million; corn, Php 18.2 million; and fishpond Php 0.4 million.

Livestock recorded Php 4.250 million.

Destroyed houses cost Php 2.2 billion, broken down into: totally damaged houses, Php 720.1 million; and partially damaged, Php 24.0 million.

Critically damaged houses were estimated at Php 1.5 billion and a total of 48,785 houses were damaged.

As a whole, the affected population in the province totalled 136,825 families or 711,490 persons while those evacuated totalled 100,936 families or 500,506 individuals.(PNA) LAM/FGS/NIM/CBD/

UN chooses Albay as global model in DRR-CCA

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) -- The United Nations (UN) has chosen the province of Albay, which is often visited by typhoons, as its global model in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate-change adaptation (CCA).

Private sector leaders expressed no surprise because, they said, local government authorities, headed by Governor Joey Salceda, have already established measures ensuring the safety of people -- including those living and working in far-flung communities -- during floods and typhoons.

In fact, Salceda now sits as co-chairman of the UN Green Climate Fund, representing Southeast Asia and developing countries, they said.

Albayanos and non-Albayanos in and outside the province noted that Albay again posted a zero-casualty score during the destructive pounding of superhowler Typhoon “Glenda” which swept across the province Tuesday night, uprooting trees and damaging billions of pesos-worth of houses, buildings and other infrastructures.

Crediting the residents themselves for the zero casualty, the soft-spoken but hard-working Salceda was even quoted as telling print and broadcast journalists that “taking care of themselves has become ordinary, as taking a bath or eating.”

Various quarters, however, attributed the zero-casualty record to the provincial government’s “pre-emptive evacuation” of residents, which was carried out by members of “Team Albay,” headed by Salceda himself.

Team Albay is a home-front emergency group organized by the Albay governor to spearhead mercy missions in the different parts of the country during natural and man-made disasters and other national emergencies.

Hours before "Glenda" made a landfall in Albay, packing center winds reaching 180 kms per hour, the team had already evacuated more than 65,000 families from risk areas to the safety of evacuation centers in various parts of the province.

Salceda pioneered pre-emptive evacuation and the “zero casualty” goal, which are now bywords in disaster risk reduction and adopted by the national government and many local government units (LGUs) across the country.

And for the sake of the Filipino people and the country, which is visited by an average of 20 typhoons and storms every year, other LGUs would do well to adopt Salceda’s highly-successful “pre-emptive evacuation” strategy, even national leaders said.

“Ito ay kung gusto nating walang mamamatay tuwing may bagyo o baha sa ating lugar (That is if we want no casualty in times of typhoons or floods in our area),” they added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Power restoration in Albay may take 2-3 months, says supplier
By April M. Mier

LEGAZPI CITY, Legazpi City (PNA) -- The whole province of Albay would have to wait for at least two to three months for the full restoration of the power supply after Typhoon "Glenda."

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, engineer Russell James Serrano, chief of the Technical Operations and Maintenance Division of the Albay Power and Energy Corp. (APEC), said they are now prioritizing all the backbone lines or primary lines that have been damaged.

"Based on our assessment, the restoration of backbone lines would take until the end of July but it would be two to three months for the whole system to fully function," Serrano explained.

Backbone lines are poles or posts which are connected within the main road wherein hospitals, schools, central business districts and institutions are located.

On the initial report after the clearing operations, a total of 321 poles from Branch 1 in Tabaco City, Branch 2 in Legazpi City and Branch 3 in Ligao City have been damaged.

As of Jan. 21, Serrano said, a portion of backbone lines in Legazpi City from Washington Substation and Bitano Substation have been energized.

"We have deployed 12 teams in the whole province to restore the supply as fast as we could," Serrano added.

According to Jane Rogando, head of the APEC Customer Service, as of now they are still coordinating with the barangays in the whole province to assess all the damages.

"The restoration would take long for lateral lines in every barangay until we finish the assessment," Rogando stressed.

Most of the rural areas in Albay do not have electricity yet due to damaged transmission lines and power facilities.(PNA) LAM/FGS/AMM/CBD

Bicol U family mourns death of a legacy -- the Centennial Tree
By April M. Mier

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) – “The centennial tree measures the length of your legacy if you plant a tree,” stressed Bicol University (BU) President Dr. Fay Lea Patria Lauraya in an interview when all had calmed down after the fury of superhowler typhoon "Glenda" that struck the Bicol region on July 15.

Lauraya could not help shedding tears when asked about the 107-year-old acacia tree, popularly known as the Centennial Tree or CenTree, which was uprooted when Glenda unleashed it wrath on standing structures along its path on July 15, leaving a swath of destruction regionwide.

"It was already 107 years old. It was a tree that connected the inter-generation of all alumni. Bicol University is just 45 years old, so it means that all the graduates of BU had witnessed it. It was a tree that had seen many wars, even the Japanese Occupation. It was a tree that connected all the stories of alumni and so it is indeed very sad, very painfu!" said Lauraya, as she gently wiped the tears slowly rolling down her lightly made up cheeks -- preventing them from falling on her plain pink dress.

The BU president said she started her school days at the BU Laboratory School.

Grief was also very evident on Dr. Shirley Maloles, Speech and Theater Arts Department chair of the BU College of Arts and Letters, when interviewed by the PNA after the CenTee succumbed to the blend of Glenda's pounding winds and piercing rain.

"I am so sad because that tree was such a memorable thing to me, especially in my high school years when we were in our CAT way back in 1981. We used to eat in a canteen under that tree wherein a lot of students also took rest and relaxed. Like a human being, I think it was time for the CenTree to take a rest, eternal rest," the soft-spoken Maloles said in slow, emphatic manner as she tried to bring back the memories she had with the CenTree.

Students of the biggest state university in the Bicol Region also mourned upon learning of the sad fate that befell the tree.

They say that you are not a true graduate of the Bicol University if you do not know the CenTree.

John Orbeta, a 5th year Chemical Engineering student of the BU College of Engineering, visited the slumped CenTree right after the typhoon.

"How sad because we consider it as an iconic view as it witnessed the start of Bicol University. It was such an iconography of our school!" Orbeta uttered as she shook his head.

The centennial tree had withstood the heavy punches of all the strongest typhoons that had hit the region -- and only Glenda knocked it down.

Lauraya is now calling on the university alumni to share ideas on how to preserve what is left of the fallen tree.

"We will not cut it and we are thinking of how to still make it meaningful and memorable. We are thinking of putting a portion or panel of the tree in every office in the school," the BU president added.

Based on her plans, every panel of the tree to be displayed in an office will be labeled with "1907-2014, this is the length of your legacy if you plant a tree."

The iconic tree fell on the road side near the BU-College of Nursing.

Aside from the centennial tree, lots of big trees inside the campus have also been damaged. .

Until now school authorities are consolidating reports to assess the extent of damages of Glenda on the school -- aside from the death of a legacy.(PNA) FPV/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Albay to celebrate Mabini’s 150th birth anniversary
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government of Albay will celebrate the sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary of the birth of Apolinario Mabini on Wednesday.

The event aims to honor Mabini, the “sublime paralytic,” who, being physically handicapped, was considered as the brains behind the Philippine Revolution.

It has for its theme “Mabini: Talino at Paninindigan.”

Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said Tuesday that he has always acclaimed Mabini, a profound thinker and political philosopher, as his personal model and national hero for disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation within the more overarching fight by the disadvantaged and disabled for social justice.

Apolinario Maranan Mabini was born on July 23, 1864 in what is now Barangay Talaga, Tanauan City in the Province of Batangas.

Mabini served as the prime minister and head of the Cabinet of the First Republic under the administration of Emilio Aguinaldo on January 2, 1899.

The event’s highlight will be the unveiling of his statue made by reknown scuptress Julie Lluch in the lobby of the Provincial Capitol of Albay at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday.

Abdon M. Balde Jr., Albay poet laureate and consultant for cultural affairs, will deliver a short biography of the hero while Albay Provincial Administrator Jesap Salceda will read the governor's annual Mabini speech.(PNA)
FGS/CBD/

Training set for LGUs' resiliency building efforts
By Rey M. Nasol

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PNA) – Despite the brunt of recent super howler "Glenda" last week, the three-day training-workshop for the formulation of the Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) will proceed as scheduled on July 23 - July 25 at the Hotel Casablanca here.

Nong C. Rangasa, Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD Inc.) executive director and resident trainer for the LCCAP formulation, assured the participants that the event has no hassle as the venue is very much ready with its facilities, good supply of water, ample supply of electricity from its 210-kilowatt generator set, continuous wi-fi Internet, communications and other amenities.

The same assurance was issued by the hotel management.

“For this batch (July 23-25, 2014), there are 11 LGUs that have re-confirmed attendance of their delegates from the different municipalities of the provinces, mostly from the northern regions of the Philippines,” Rangasa said, adding that the participants have scheduled their arrivals as early as Tuesday, a day before the start of the training-workshop.

The LCCAP document is listed No. 16 in the array of requirements for the Seal of Good Local Governance Award to be given by the Department of the Interior and Local Govenrment Central Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, among others.

The training-workshop is a highly technical writing capacity building for LGUs to come up with their respective local capacity assessment framework, climate change sectoral vulnerability assessment, undertake anticipatory adaptation measures, contingency plans and LCCAP document. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RMN/CBD

CamSur town mayor focuses on access to affordable education

PILI, Camarines Sur, July 21 (PNA) —- The municipal government here has included in the town’s development plan innovative ways to increase access to quality but affordable education.

These will be topped with infrastructure projects for proper education service delivery, according to Pili Mayor Alexis San Luis III.

“The future lies in the ability of the children and the youth to take the cudgels of development. We must exert effort in providing good and quality education to our young people to ensure that they become productive citizens of our municipality and are provided with the opportunity to realize their potentials to the maximum,” San Luis said in a statement Monday.

Three weeks ago, he said, the local government unit (LGU) of Pili started the construction of the Php 2.3-million National Child Development Center in Barangay Anayan here.

The center will serve as a national learning center to introduce best practices of the integrated early childhood care and development services to selected 0 to 4-year-old recipients.

It will also house a laboratory where research and innovations about early childhood development will be conducted to enhance parenting skills and at the same time, increase the level of capabilities of the educators.

The high-tech day care room is equipped with modern facilities to give children the optimum exposure to learning.

The local engineering office has also constructed classrooms and repaired and improved daycare centers, multi-purpose rooms and classrooms.

Over 10 education-related infrastructure projects were funded from the Agrarian Reform Communities Project and Comprehensive Development Plan which benefited more than 10 barangays.

With the indigents in mind, San Luis ordered the strict implementation of a “No Collection” policy in all 31 elementary schools situated in various parts of the municipality.

He pointed out that although public education itself is free, the parents still have to take the burden of paying the miscellaneous fees.

Togas and medals are also given free by the LGU during graduation.

The LGU Pili’s Local School Board Plan has allotted P3.5 million as educational assistance for high school and college students and offers vocational trainings in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

“Even before I was sworn into office, it has been my dream that policies and programs addressing the concerns of children and youth must be given priority for us to take pride in pursuing a truly meaningful development of our municipality and our people,” San Luis added.

He believes that it is only through education that the younger generation becomes disciplined citizens and counted as members of the labor force with skills and capabilities at par with their counterpart. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD/

NBI hunts owner of illegal logs found in graveyard
By Joh Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, July 21 (PNA) — Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Naga City office are still on the hunt for a local dealer of hardwood and operator of furniture shop who they claimed owns the 3,000 board feet of assorted hardwood lumber from the second-growth forest that they found in a graveyard in Tinambac, Camarines Sur, early morning of July 11.

Lawyer Tomas Enrile, acting regional director of the NBI-Bicol, identified the subject of the manhunt as a certain Mariano Clapis, who had been on surveillance since July 2 after NBI agents intercepted and confiscated some 6,000 board feet of hardwood lumber along Tamban River in the same town, which were said owned by the suspected illegal lumber dealer.

Enrile said they had already filed criminal charges against Clapis for possession of forest product without permit under Presidential Decree 705 or the forestry law of the Philippines, which has a minimum of 12 years in prison as penalty, aside from fines that may be imposed on him.

He said that when they launched the July 11 operation, after court’s approval of a search warrant, they were surprised to discover that the thousands of board feet of lumber, which had been earlier positively confirmed stocked in Clapis’ warehouse, were already gone.

The NBI official said they almost lost hope to retrieve and confiscate the illegal lumber confirmed kept in Clapis’ warehouse when NBI agents scoured the surrounding area at the back of the establishment, which is the cemetery of the town.

Enrile said there they found 17 piles of hardwood lumber hidden beneath dried leaves, twigs, and grasses inside the graveyard which they inventoried to be more than 3,000 board feet that could be contained in more or less three medium-sized trucks.

He revealed that Clapis was not in his establishment when they conducted the raid and thus, avoided the authorities’ apprehension.

Enrile said the lumber Clapis stocked in his warehouse were covered by a moratorium because these apparently came from the forest and the government does not issue permit for this.

He said the government only allows the cutting of trees for commercial and domestic use from privately established tree farms.

The NBI official noted that it was the biggest haul in one month this year under the campaign against illegal logging which totaled almost 10,000 board feet of hardwood.(PNA) FPV/FGS/JME/CBD/

CamSur town celebrates 436th annual feast, Bamboo Festival
By John Mark Escandor

BULA, Camarines Sur, July 21 (PNA) — This town will hold its fluvial procession of the image of Saint Mary Magdalene at the Bula River on Monday and its 436th annual fiesta main celebration on Tuesday with the theme “Our People, our Treasure.”

The town also celebrates the Bamboo and the Tambubong Festival.

The celebration’s theme clearly manifests the local government’s appreciation of the significant contribution of its constituents, not only in their local economy but also in the preservation of their rich cultural heritage, Mayor Rolando N. Canet said Monday.

“After more than a year that the new mandate has been entrusted to us in leading a responsive, new leadership to our constituents, it is only appropriate to give back and express our gratitude to God for all the blessings bestowed upon us through the intercession of Mary Magdalene,” Canet said.

He enjoined the cooperation of all sectors to be a part of the celebration as they take pride in celebrating their festival in this opportune time when the town of Bula rises behind new achievements for new and productive changes.

Canet added that it is not important that these accomplishments are enumerated but to ensure that the constituents can see, feel and experience these tangible changes.

Bula is famous for the rich supply and abundance of bamboo, known as one of the fastest-growing plants in the world – thus, the creation of the Bamboo Festival here.

The product’s economic value can be seen in the line of bamboo furniture makers along the Maharlika Highway.

Bula is a first class municipality classified as partially urban and boasts of its big ricelands where Bulaeños get their source of palay.

Tambubong for Bulaeños means palay in its early blooming stage.

Canet also commended the LGU’s elective officials, heads of offices and its employees, including the socio-civic and religious organizations for their unwavering support to rapidly transform the system of governance in Bula, which resulted in the social and economic growth of the municipality.

Bula, according to history, is among the towns in Camarines Sur founded by the Spanish conquistadores when they arrived in Bicol after their sojourn from Visayas in 1576.

Other areas include Naga City, Quipayo, Calabanga, and Nabua.

The local government has also prepared a long list of activities in time for the town’s feast on July 22.

A grand motorcade was held on July 12 to jumpstart the celebration, followed by Youth Day, Barangay Day and three-in-one celebration of Senior Citizen’s Day, Health Day, and Persons with Disability.

To recognize the contribution of the farmers and fishermen to the local economy of the municipality of Bula, there was also a Farmers and Fisherfolk’s Day on July 16 where they showcased their produce.

Other activities held were: July 17 - LGU Day; July 18 - Araw ng Kababaihan and the much-awaited Coronation Night of Ms. Bula 2014; July 19 - DepEd Day and the one-day civic parade; July 20 - Military Parade; July 21 – Fluvial Procession of the Image of Saint Mary Magdalene at Bula River, and on July 22 - the main date of the celebration. (PNA) FPV/FGS/JME/CBD/

Prisoner escapes in Sorsogon, another inmate dies in Masbate jail

LEGAZPI CITY, July 21 (PNA) -- Bicolanos have expressed concern over the situation in local jails after a prisoner escaped from the Sorsogon City District Jail in Barangay Balogo, Sorsogon City on Sunday afternoon while another inmate died of sickness inside his detention cell in Masbate early Monday morning.

A police report said inmate Carlos Espera Tiu, of Purok 8, Barangay Sampaloc, Sorsogon City, escaped at about 4:45 p.m. Sunday by destroying the lock of his detention cell, jumping over the fence and running towards the direction of Sitio Little Mahingang in the city.

JO3 Antonio Calinao, JO2 Rommel Hernandez and JO1 Rolly Malagueno went after the suspect but failed to catch him.

Tiu was detained for violating Republic Act 9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Meanwhile, another prisoner was found dead inside his cell in the Masbate Provincial Jail in Barangay Matiporon, Milagros, Masbate, early Monday morning.

A police report said prisoner Jose James Francisco, separated and resident of Barangay Mabuhay, Balud, Masbate, was jailed for a rape case.

Provincial Guard 2 Lasadani Sta. Cruz, jail guard-in-charge, said the victim was found dead inside his cell around 4:00 a.m. Monday.

Sta. Cruz said that earlier, Francisco complained of feeling extreme cold and high fever, for which fellow inmate Ramil Torrecampo gave him medicine.

After about one hour later, Torrecampo noticed that the victim was no longer moving.

Sta. Cruz immediately called a doctor from the Balud Munipal Health Unit who pronounced the prisoner dead. (PNA) LAM/FGS/EMC/CBD/

301 electric poles downed by 'Glenda' to be replaced this week -- Salceda
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, July 21 (PNA) -- Replacements for the 301 fallen electric poles of the Albay Power and Energy Corp. that were downed by typhoon “Glenda” will arrive in two days, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said Monday.

“I have asked APEC to double its 12 restoration teams to 20. I was on the phone with Sec. Ikot (Jericho Petilla) till early morning until NGCP (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines) energized. Now, the hard part begins. This will take at least eight days to rebuild,” Salceda.

He added that it is not bad, as Albay was struck by a strong typhoon in 2006 and it took 17 days, the earliest, to bring back power to Polangui town in Albay.

And the power in the entire Albay, the chief executive said, was restored in four months by March 2007.

“With every hand on the paddle, we made Glenda look so easy despite the massive damages,” he said.

The three telecommunications companies alone suffered Php 620 million, he said.

This is on top of the Php 4.274-billion damages suffered by agriculture, housing and other sectors.

“There exists a band where we can demand performance from each other -- including APEC, Smart, Globe and Bayantel but there is an upper limit set by technical requirements like the procurement of new poles, which, if we undercut, would only prolong the agony or produce imbalances ahead. I will not ask for understanding but we must accept that band of fairness,” Salceda explained.

In related development, he ordered on Monday that all offices and facilities of the Provincial Government of Albay with generating sets or with regular power supply at present to open and charge public cellphones and other electrical devices.

Refusal in any form or gesture shall be charged to the 201 File of the head of office concerned, the governor said. (PNA) LAM/FGS/CBD/

Monday, July 21, 2014

(SONA) Bridge widening in Legazpi gets Php 140-M allocation from Malacañang
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 21 (PNA) -– The funding for the urgent widening of a major bridge on the national highway that serves as main link between this booming city with various growth areas in the first district of Albay has been assured with funding from Malacañang, according to City Mayor Noel Rosal.

“Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III gave this assurance to me when he visited the city for the inauguration last May 19 of the newly completed Bicol University Health Sciences Building which will house the first state-run medical school in the Bicol region, the Bicol University College of Medicine,” Rosal told the PNA here Thursday.

In fact, the city mayor said, an initial amount of Php50 million had already been allocated for the project under the 2014 General Appropriation Act and released by the Department of Budget and Management to the Department of Public Works and Highways, which will implement it starting soon.

The project is the widening to four lanes of the Yawa Bridge, 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 down to Tabaco City and five municipalities of the province’s first district.

The total cost of the project “which we consider a priority” was placed at Php140 million—an amount that was already approved by Pres. Aquino, Rosal said.

On apprehensions aired by some motorists that the construction will cause more traffic congestion along the route, the city mayor said “don’t worry, we are not going to knock down the bridge to give way to the construction. The additional two lanes will be constructed parallel with the two sides of the existing bridge so there is no need to close it and construct a detour structure.”

The bridge that crosses over Yawa River, a major waterway that emanates from the southern slope of Mt. Mayon facing the city, was constructed several decades ago and was repaired and reinforced in 2000 to withstand the avalanches of volcanic debris during flash floods.

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 flood-resistant projects like Yawa Bridge, our place will soon be an all-weather city so that it becomes a very livable place more than ever,” Rosal said.

While the bridge serves that purpose and prevented the traffic cut-off during heavy rain and typhoon situations, the problem now, Rosal said, is the growing number of motorists to which the bridge would become the bottleneck of vehicles coming from both directions that are four-lane roads.

The improvement to four lanes of this bridge is also part of the local tourism-related infrastructure projects being helped by the administration of Pres. Aquino to maintain this city as the best haven for tourists and grand conventions or similar gatherings and business center for Bicol.

Recognized in the world’s travel market as the “City of Fun and Adventure,” the city’s tourism industry has been growing impressively with a whopping increase of 32.27 percent in tourist arrivals last year.

As recorded by the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Tourism based here, 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.

Another local tourism-related infrastructure project that is supported by the Aquino administration is the P200-million “tourism mega highway” now ongoing construction to open a direct link between the city and the new Southern Luzon International Airport now being constructed in the nearby Daraga, Albay.

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 “tourism mega highway” 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, Rosal added. (PNA) FPV/DOC/MEC

Phivolcs repairs 15 monitoring stations rendered non-operational by ‘Glenda’ in Bicol
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 20 (PNA) -- A group of two teams of professionals from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in Manila have already made operational nine of the 10 monitoring stations around the Mayon Volcano and six of the seven similar equipment around the Bulusan Volcano that were temporarily disabled by typhoon “Glenda” that hit the Bicol region on July 15.

The group, headed by Dr. Maria Antonia V. Bornas, Phivolcs Volcano Monitoring and Eruption and Prediction Division chief, arrived on Saturday morning and immediately buckled down to work.

One of the group’s teams is composed of engineers who did the trouble shooting work on the equipment and the second unit is made up of geologists who are going around the two volcanoes to determine their respective activities.

Bornas said her group and Phivolcs-Bicol personnel headed by Dr. Ed Laguerta, resident volcanologist, initially found out that these equipment were not functioning, which affected the overall monitoring of the condition of the Mayon Volcano that is on Alert Level One.

The only one monitoring station left functioning, which is at the Lignon Hill Observatory, could still detect quakes and seismic activities but it could not determine the ground deformation survey and other important information on the status of the volcano, Bornas claimed.

She added that this was the same situation being experienced by the Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon although its alert level is at zero.

Bornas said that out the seven monitoring stations in the area, only one was functioning although the volcano’s two repeaters had sent information from the only one functioning monitoring station.

Each monitoring station costs Php 3 million.

These equipment were a joint project of the Philippine government, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the government of Singapore.

Bornas warned the public on the possible movement or flow of the old volcanic deposits along river channels caused by the continuous rain.(PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/RSM

Temporary direct connection from source possible in Albay -- Salceda
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 20 (PNA) -- Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has agreed to the temporary island mode power service for Albay, which means the province can directly access power from the Tiwi Geothermal Power Plant (TGPP) and the Bac-Man Geothermal Plant, according to Governor Joey Sarte Salceda.

Salceda said he had earlier proposed the idea of this power service to Petilla since the province of Albay has the complete elements for this purpose.

He said it has the TGPP in Tiwi town, which is a present source of energy for the Luzon Grid.

From the TGPP, electricity will go to the power lines of the Albay Power and Energy Corp. (APEC).

Salceda said this scheme of power service was used in his hometown, Polangui, in 2006 when typhoon “Reming” hit Albay.

In related development, the Albay chief executive met with the economic sector of the Provincial Planning and Development Council headed by Department of Trade and Industry Bicol Assistant Regional Director Rodrigo Aguilar to come up with solutions to the problems confronting the sector.

First, on power concern, he said the actions and solutions of the APEC on the issue it receives from the power consumers must be clear.

Salceda cited the need to restore power immediately in the entire province, especially in public offices, business districts, town and city proper areas and the basic services sector that needs power.

He said there were 301 electric posts of the APEC in the entire province that were damaged by Glenda and there is a need to know whether these have been restored to use.

Second, the governor called the attention of telecommunications companies to provide efficient service, which, he said, is very important before, during and after a calamity.

Third, Salceda stressed the importance of the service of banks in the province.

He noted the long lines of bank clients at the ATM machine booths and that, the governor said, the banks should have contingency measures on this aspect.

The Albay top official said the banks need to provide generators for a continuous service to the public.

On water service in Legazpi City and in Daraga town, although some areas have already water supply, most residents do not have water supply yet, and if ever, water coming out of the faucets is murky.

The economic sector also approved a package of monetarist approaches to post-disaster reconstruction.

These measures were made possible by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay’s declaration of state of calamity, Salceda said.

Among the package is the automatic approval by the Pag-IBIG of a P150,000 home improvement loan or up to 80 percent of a member’s contributions, payable in 24 months and interest of four percent for all Albay-based Pag-IBIG members.

The Social Security System shall defer installment payment on housing and members’ loan for 12 months for all Albay-based SSS members.

For its part, the Government Service Insurance System shall defer installment payments on housing and members' loan for 12 months for all Albay-based GSIS members. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/RSM

All Bicol provinces order decampment of 504,222 evacuees

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18, (PNA) – Amid the absence of electric power regionwide, all provinces in the Bicol region have ordered the decampment of a total of 98,133 families or 504,222 persons inside and outside evacuation centers.

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Bicol reported that of the total evacuees, 75,491 families or 364,990 individuals were inside 72 evacuation centers in the entire region.

RDRRMC-Bicol Chairman and Office of Civil Defense Bicol Chief Raffy Alejandro said this total of 504,222 persons were part of the 761,228 total persons or 162,225 families in 652 barangays in the entire region that were affected by the wrath of typhoon “Glenda” that left a swath of destruction along its path.

As of Friday, Alejandro and officers of the Tactical Operations Group 5 of the Philippine Air Force have been continuously conducting damage assessments in the entire region.

A partial report on damaged houses said 7,993 were totally destroyed while 27,802 were partially destroyed.

Damages on infrastructure were partially placed at Php1.2 billion. Destruction on agriculture, however, had conflicting figures.

RDRRMC’s figure of damages,however, was only Php 2.5 billion, in Albay alone, it was Php4.2 billion as of Friday.

Two provinces were declared under state of calamity, Albay and Camarines Sur, while one municipality – Tigaon, Camarines Sur, and one city – Naga City, were in similar situation.

All Bicol provinces now have water supply, except Albay province and the City of Naga.

To the dismay of Albayanos, Internet communications also bogged down. (PNA) FPV/FGS/EMC/cbd /utb

Prices of goods in Albay maintained -- DTI

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 (PNA) -- Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Albay provincial director Rodrigo Aguilar has assured that prices of basic and prime commodities in Albay will remain stable.

This, he said, is the result of the cooperation of the business sector in maintaining the availability of goods at affordable prices in the wake of the impact of typhoon “Glenda” that hit the province and neighboring areas last Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has activated the Emergency Wage Employment Assistance (EWEA) program to augment government efforts for the rehabilitation of areas hardest hit by Glenda.

It has an initial plan to provide emergency employment to at least one family member from each of the 77,689 families evacuated in the province of Albay. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/utb

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

(Update) 'Glenda' pummels Albay with strong winds

LEGAZPI, Albay, July 15 (PNA) -- As of 4:30 p.m., Albay residents started to feel the wrath of typhoon "Glenda" as strong winds battered trees and standing structures.

The winds got more furious starting at past 5 p.m. and whipped trees, stripping these of branches and leaves that littered the streets.

In some areas, some trees, commercial signs and electric posts have succumbed to Glenda’s strength.

Since about 4:45 pm, power was out for safety reason.

Relief operations intensified as darkness started to envelop the province. (PNA) LAP/CONNIE DESTURA/SGP

Albayanos can now access disaster-related info via fingertip

LEGAZPI CITY, July 15 (PNA) -- With the onset of bad weather disturbances in the country, monitoring of disaster warning in Albay is just within the “pindot” (pushing with the fingertip) of even an ordinary Albayano, according to a top disaster official of the province.

“With pindot, even the farmers, vendors, children or house helpers can relay disaster warnings from the authorities to their loved ones before, during and after disaster occurrences,” Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office (APSEMO) CHIEF, SAID.

DAEP SAID THIS IS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THE THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IS EMPLOYING A MOBILE APPLICATION IN PARTNERSHIP WITH TELECOMMUNICATIONS GIANT SMART COMMUNICATIONS, INC.

HE EXPLAINED THAT THE MOBILE APP IS AN ADDITIONAL TOOL USED BY THE PROVINCE ASIDE FROM MASS MEDIA, INFOBOARD AND SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES TO PASS ON IN THE FASTEST WAY DISASTER WARNING ADVISORIES TO THE PUBLIC.

NAMED PINDOT, THE MOBILE APP IS A PRO-ACTIVE, COMPREHENSIVE AND RATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT MOBILE AND WEB APPLICATION WHICH THE APSEMO ADOPTED FOR EASIER AND FASTER INFORMATION DISSEMINATION TO MITIGATE THE DISASTROUS EFFECTS OF NATURAL AND MAN-MADE CALAMITIES WITH THE HELP OF NEW MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES.

PINDOT IS SHORT FOR PROVINCIAL INFORMATION NETWORK ON DISASTER OCCURRENCES AND THREATS WHEREIN THIS MOBILE APP CAN BE USED TO GIVE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO DISASTER WARNINGS, ADVISORIES, LOCATION DATA AND DISASTER MAPPINGS, DAEP SAID.

ALBAY, THE UNITED NATIONS MODEL FOR BEST DISASTER RISK REDUCTION MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION MEASURES IN THE COUNTRY, IS PIONEERING THE PINDOT MOBILE APPLICATION IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SMART TO TRANSMIT EARLY WARNING ADVISORIES TO THE PUBLIC AHEAD OF THE IMPENDING NATURAL DISASTER.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ALBAY LED BY GOVERNOR JOEY SALCEDA IS NOTED FOR TAKING EIGHT STEPS AHEAD OF THE IMPENDING NATURAL CALAMITIES AS HIS PARAMOUNT POLICY ON DISASTER RISK REDUCTION MANAGEMENT AND ADAPTATION MEASURES IN PURSUIT OF ATTAINING A ZERO-CASUALTY GOAL.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IS USING CELLULAR PHONES TO INFORM THE PEOPLE HERE OF THE IMPENDING THREATS TO SAVE PRECIOUS LIVES.

ALBAY PROVINCE -- CLASSIFIED AS THE LABORATORY OF ALL NATURAL HAZARDS SUCH AS VOLCANIC ERUPTION, EARTHQUAKE, TYPHOON, FLASH FLOOD AND TSUNAMI – HAS PARTNERED WITH SMART TO EXPEDITE THE RELAY OF DISASTER WARNING ADVISORY.

SMART HAS CHOSEN ALBAY AMONG 81 PROVINCES IN THE COUNTRY FOR PINDOT MOBILE AND WEB APPLICATION AS A PRO-ACTIVE TOOL BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER DISASTER OCCURRENCES.

“SMART KNOWS THAT THE TECHNOLOGY WILL BE OPTIMIZED HERE BECAUSE THE ADOPTER IS ENGAGED, WHICH MEANS WE KNOW WHAT WE WANT SO THE TECHNOLOGY CAN DELIVER EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED RATHER THAN DICTATE WHAT IT CAN DO. TIMELY AND ACCURATE COMMUNICATIONS BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER DISASTERS AND EMERGENCY SITUATIONS PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN SAVING LIVES,” SALCEDA SAID.

WITH PINDOT THE WEATHER FORECAST AND ADVISORIES OF THE SOUTHERN LUZON REGIONAL OFFICE OF THE PHILIPPINE ATMOSPHERIC, GEOPHYSICAL AND ASTRONOMICAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION CAN NOW BE ACCESSED.

EQUIPPED WITH A USER-FRIENDLY INTERFACE, IT FEATURES EASY-TO-FOLLOW STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS THAT CAN GUIDE USERS TO SAFETY DURING DISASTERS.

THE APPLICATION ALSO ALLOWS USERS TO CONTRIBUTE PERTINENT INFORMATION TO EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE AGENCIES EASIER AND FASTER.

PINDOT ALSO ALLOWS USERS TO POST PHOTOS, TO PROVIDE CONCISE DETAILS AND INFORMATION ABOUT EVENTS CURRENTLY UNFOLDING.

THE APPLICATION ALSO OFFERS USEFUL TOOLS WHICH CAN CONVERT ONE’S SMART PHONE INTO A SIREN, FLASHLIGHT, STROBE LIGHT AND COMPASS.

THE PHONE CAN ALSO STORE EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS FOR EASY ACCESS AND DELIVER SAFETY TIPS IN CASES OF EMERGENCY.

AFTER INSTALLING THE APP AND FOLLOWING VERIFICATION FROM THE APSEMO ONE WILL BE ASKED TO SIGN UP.

ONCE DONE, ONE CAN POST REMARKS AND EVENTS, CHECK OUT UPDATES FROM AUTHORITIES, AND USE A HOST OF FEATURES AVAILABLE TO THE APP.

RAMON ISBERTO, HEAD OF THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE OF SMART, SAID EARLIER THAT SMART CHOSE ALBAY AS PILOT LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT FOR THIS VALUABLE MOBILE APP AS THE PROVINCE IS RECEPTIVE TO NEW COMMUNICATION TOOLS AND THE PROVINCE IS WIDELY KNOWN FOR ITS PRO-ACTIVE DRR PROGRAMS, MAKING IT THE PERFECT PARTNER IN PROPAGATING DRR AWARENESS.

ASKED ON HOW TO USE PINDOT, ISBERTO EXPLAINED THAT ONE SHOULD FIRST LOG IN AND AFTER LOGGING IN, HE WILL SEE ON THE HOME SCREEN RECENT EVENTS WHERE HE CAN INPUT REMARKS, AND CHECK ACTIONS TAKEN BY AUTHORITIES OR POST AN EVENT, ITS DESCRIPTION, AND EVEN ADD HASHTAGS.

IT AUTOMATICALLY PINPOINTS THE USER’S LOCATION.

USERS CAN ALSO ADD A PHOTO VIA CAMERA OR PHOTO LIBRARY OR SEE MULTIPLE EVENTS ON THE MAP.

WHEN ZOOMED IN, DETAILS WILL BE SHOWN INCLUDING DESCRIPTION, DATE AND TIME, AND THE USER, WHO REPORTED THE EVENT.

ISBERTO SAID LINKING THE DEVELOPER AND TECH START-UP COMMUNITY WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND INSTITUTIONS ENSURE THAT INNOVATIVE MOBILE APPLICATIONS ARE PUT TO GOOD USE AND ACTUALLY BENEFIT THE PEOPLE.

“THIS IS ‘APPTIVISM’ OR USE OF MOBILE APPS FOR SOCIAL GOOD AT ITS BEST,” HE SAID.

SMART ALSO DONATED FREE SMART PHONES TO ALBAY’S 15 TOWNS AND THREE CITIES DURING THE LAUNCH OF PINDOT HELD EARLIER AT THE CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION AND DISASTER RISK REDUCTION MANAGEMENT TRAINING INSTITUTE HERE.

PINDOT WAS DEVELOPED BY CEBU-BASED TUDLO INNOVATION SOLUTIONS, A TECHNOLOGY START-UP FOUNDED BY VINCE LOREMIA AND HIS TEAM, ASSISTED BY APSEMO, AND IS NOW AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD FOR FREE FOR IOS AND ANDROID USERS.

TUDLO IS A CEBUANO WORD THAT MEANS “TO TEACH, GUIDE OR POINT.”

IT EMERGED AS ONE OF THE 20 FINALISTS IN THE FIRST NATIONAL COMPETITION FOR THE BEST TECH START-UP IDEA OF THE IDEASPACE FOUNDATION.

TUDLO WAS AMONG 10 YOUNG INNOVATORS WORLDWIDE CHOSEN BY THE UNITED NATIONS-BACKED INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION LAST YEAR. (PNA)
LAP/FGS/RBB/CBD

35,182 evacuated, 1,146 stranded in Bicol ports

LEGAZPI CITY, July 15 (PNA) – The total number of persons evacuated in the towns of Pio Duran, Camalig, Daraga and Guinobatan in Albay has reached 35,182 while 1,146 passengers have been stranded in various ports in the Bicol region as of 8:00 a.m. Tuesday due to tropical storm “Glenda” that is expected to hit Albay Tuesday night.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the evacuees were brought by local authorities to their respective designated evacuation centers to protect their affected constituents against flooding.

In Pio Duran, 650 individuals are involved; Camalig, 7,250; Daraga, 24,535; and Guinobatan, 2,747.Other towns and cities have not yet submitted their reports to the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), Salceda said.

The APSEMO estimated about 58,901 to be evacuated to safer areas, he added.

Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) recorded 1,146 passengers stranded in various Bicol ports, mostly going to Samar and Catanduanes.

In Tabaco City Port, there were 367 passengers reported as of Monday afternoon and Matnog Port, 725.

The numbers are expected to increase this Tuesday as passenger buses coming from Metro Manila have been continuously arriving.

The OCD has been continuously monitoring the situation in these areas, especially Albay and Sorsogon, as these provinces are expected to be along the path of Glenda. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/