Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bicol takes pride of RIC national champion in 2014 Gawad Saka Awards
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 29 (PNA) -– A small group of rural women in a modest rice farming village in Bicol has been crowned as this year’s national champion in the Gawad Saka Awards of the Department of Agriculture (DA), a notable achievement that the entire agricultural sector of the region is taking pride of.

“We are so proud of the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) of Barangay Miluya, Castilla, Sorsogon for winning the national award under its category. The award recognized its exemplary performance that should be emulated by its counterparts in Bicol,” DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas based in Pili, Camarines Sur said in a statement reaching here Monday.

Gawad Saka is considered the most prestigious award being given by the DA to individuals and groups in farming communities that excel in their respective fields leading to exemplary contributions to the realization of food security and sufficiency.

RICs are nationwide rural-based non-government organization of women whose goal is to uplift the living condition of barrio families and the Bicol Region has 435 RICs representing a total of 15,000 members.

Composed of 40 members, the Miluya RIC exemplifies women’s capability in rice farming not restricted by gender roles and socio-cultural stereotypes, according to Bragas.

It won the award because the group demonstrates the mettle of women in doing farm work and managing farms to liberate their families and community from poverty, he said.

Organized by the DA in 2009, the Miluya RIC started with several farming projects in the same year with a borrowed Php5,000 capital plus the collection of membership fee of P100 each.

Now, the club already boasts of cash and material assets worth over Php1.4 million earned by way of initiating various farm projects.

The group, according to its president Jenie Matamorosa, attributes this success to farm mechanization introduced by the DA way back in 2012.

“First, the DA constructed for us a flatbed rice drier worth Php624,500, followed by the provision of a hand tractor with trailer in November of the same year, then the construction of a palay shed and solar dryer in October 2013. We hired men to operate these facilities and equipment and since then, the management skill of the club was put to test and was honed through time,” she said.

Agricultural mechanization, she said, has increased the productivity not only of these women-farmers and their families but also of the whole rice farming community through the more efficient use of labor, the timeliness of operations, and reduction in post-harvest losses.

Since 80 percent of the 402.10 hectares total land area of Barangay Miluya is devoted to rain-fed rice farms, the availability of modern farm equipment helped them cope with the brunt of climate change.

Bragas said the mechanization does not only make their farm works a lot much easier but gives the RIC additional income wherein its flatbed drier and hand tractor rented by other farmers generated a net income of about Php62,000 in its first two years of operations.

The club also maintains a one-hectare communal garden of pechay, tomatoes, eggplant, pepper, string beans and "gabi" which gave them a total net income of more than Php35,000 in the past two years.

The Miluya RIC also advocates organic agriculture, making them a beneficiary by Intervida, Phils., a non-government organization, of a 250-square-meter vermin-culture facility now being maintained by members who were given various training on organic agriculture.

This project gave the group an income of about Php40,000 as of last year out of vermicast produced and sold to Intervida and local users at Php5 per kilo.

Bragas said it is very impressing that although the Miluya RIC is composed of women whose highest educational attainment is high school, they strived to be at the best of their self-acquired craft—rice farming combined with learned skills in organic agriculture.

“These rural women believe that to be effective leaders in the community, they must first equip themselves with knowledge on technologies that could bring greater benefits to them. Hence, they never hesitate to attend training courses and seminars extended to them particularly by the Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA) campus located in the nearby barangay of Mayon,” he stressed.

For being this year’s winner of the Gawad Saka Award, the Miluya RIC, along with other winners in all the other 22 categories of the awards, was conferred by Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala with honors during a fitting ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City last December 18.

Apart from a plaque and a certificate, the group also received an incentive of Php300,000 in project grant plus Php50,000 cash award.

The awards were received by Matamorosa and Miluya barangay chair Vilma Marticio, who is also an active member of the group.

Bragas said that Alcala, told the awardees during the awarding rites that while Philippine agriculture sector is greatly affected by numerous typhoons and the heightened competition in the ASEAN market, the DA is intensifying its interventions to help farmers and fisherfolk increase their income.

Despite the calamities like typhoons "Yolanda" and "Glenda," the agriculture sector steadily maintained its upward trend in the first three quarters of this year, with the crops subsector registering 1.2-percent growth and 1.05 percent for the livestock sector,

Although the fisheries and poultry sectors suffered setbacks from those typhoons, Bragas quoted Alcala as saying that over all, the agriculture sector this year managed to achieve Php1.1 trillion profit based on current prices, which is 9.55 percent higher than last year’s.

Alcala said these growths have been possible because of massive government interventions particularly focused on farm mechanization and modernization backed up by agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation systems, farm-to-market roads and post-harvest facilities, among others.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture who also graced the awarding event, said the 22 awardees representing all the 11 million Filipino farm workers are the tangible proof that there is hope for agriculture in the Philippines, according to Bragas. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS

DOH reports 41 victims of firecrackers in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 29 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday expressed alarm over the high number of firecracker injuries in the Bicol Region which stands at 41 cases as of date or 17 percent higher than last year’s record during the monitoring period Dec. 21-28.

DOH Regional Director Gloria Balboa said that most victims are aged 7-12 years old, with Albay posting the highest number of injuries at 21, as reported by the government hospitals in the region -- three each in Albay and Camarines Sur and one each in Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes.

Balboa urged firecracker vendors not to sell banned firecrackers, especially to children.

She called on the parents to caution their children on using firecrackers in their merriment and urged authorities to be strict in implementing laws prohibiting the sale of banned firecrackers.

Piccolo, a banned brand of firecracker, had the highest victims with 29.

While the fountain firecracker, while not banned, had one victim recorded.

Senior Supt. Marlo Meneses, Albay Provincial Police Office director, said they have been inspecting firecracker vendors in the province and closely monitoring those selling firecrackers banned under RA7183.

Meneses said they have already confiscated Php25,000 worth of prohibited firecrackers in the province and have soaked these in water so that these could not be used anymore. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD/EDS

UNFCCC COP commends Green Climate Fund board
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 29 (PNA) -- The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (C0P) praised the work of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board during its 20th session in Lima on Dec. 1-12 for putting in place the eight prerequisites for the operationalization of the Fund and for raising US $ 10.2 billion in its Initial Resource Mobilization.

This was learned by the Philippines News Agency on Monday from Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, GCF co-chair for developing countries, who added that the UNFCC-COP welcomed the GCF report to the COP -- in particular, the detailed and comprehensive list of responses of the GCF Board to guidance received from the COP.

“The Conference of the Parties also noted with appreciation the progress made by the Green Climate Fund, and the information contained thereon in the report of the GCF, particularly the decision on the confirmation of the completion of the essential requirements and the commencement of the initial resource mobilization process,” Salceda claimed.

He added that the COP welcomed with appreciation the successful and timely initial resource mobilization process of the GCF that led to the mobilization of US $ 10.2 billion to date by contributing parties and enabling the GCF to start its activities in supporting developing country Parties of the Convention, and making it the largest dedicated climate fund.

“As GCF co-chair for the developing countries from Oct 2013-2014, I feel reaffirmed by the Lima decision on the GCF which recognized the achievement of the eight prerequisites of the operationalization of the GCF and the outcome of the initial resource mobilization (IRM3) to be a major stride in helping vulnerable countries like the Philippines adapt to the climate impacts while enabling the world to come together in Paris in making an emission reduction deal that would save earth, the planet as we know it,” the UN-named climate change champion added.

While the initial capitalization of the GCF is touted as a sign of trust-building between developing and developed countries, Salceda continued to remind developed countries of their Copenhagen commitment of US $ 100 billion per year by 2020.

“Moreso, the GCF has been tasked by the Lima COP to ensure that before the 3rd meeting, scheduled on Oct. 2015, projects should have already been considered for approval and implementation, which is a challenge to the Board and the Interim Secretariat of the GCF,” the Filpino green economist added.

During the COP’s 20th session, it enabled the GCF to start its activities in supporting developing country parties of the convention, and making it the largest dedicated climate fund by contributing parties and enabling the GCF to start its activities in supporting developing country Parties of the Convention, and making it the largest dedicated climate fund.

The COP also requested the GCF to ensure that the ongoing resource mobilization efforts are commensurate with the ambitions of the Fund, and called for contributions by other developed country parties as well as invite financial inputs from a variety of other sources, public and private -- including alternative sources throughout the initial resource mobilization process.

It urged the Fund, the interim trustee, and contributors to confirm the pledges in the form of fully executed contribution agreements/arrangements, taking note that the commitment authority of the GCF will become effective when 50 percent of the contributions pledged by the November 2014 pledging session are reflected in fully executed contribution agreements/arrangements received by the secretariat no later than April 30, 2015 as provided for in the Green Climate Fund Board decision on Aug. 13.

The COP also welcomed the GCF Board decision to start taking decisions on the approval of projects and programs not later than its 3rd meeting in 2015.

It further requested the Board to accelerate the operationalization of the adaptation and mitigation windows, and to ensure adequate resources for capacity-building and technology development and transfer, consistent with the governing instrument.

It also requested the Board to accelerate the operationalization of the private sector facility by aiming to ensure that private sector entities and public entities with relevant experience in working with the private sector are accredited in 2015, expediting action to engage local private sector actors in developing country parties, including small- and medium-sized enterprises in the least developed countries, small island developing states and African states -- emphasizing a country-driven approach, expediting action to mobilize resources at scale, and developing a strategic approach to engaging with the private sector.

The COP further requested the GCF Board, in the implementation of its 2015 work plan, to complete its work related to policies and procedures to accept financial inputs from non-public and alternative sources, the investment and risk management frameworks of the GCF, the impact analysis on its initial results areas, including options for determining Board level investment portfolios across the structure of the Fund, and its approval process, including methodologies for selecting programs and projects that best achieve its objectives.

It also requested the GCF Board to consider ways by which to further increase the transparency of its proceedings.

The Conference likewise requested the Board to accelerate the implementation of its work program on readiness and preparatory support, ensuring that adequate resources are provided for its execution -- including from the initial resource mobilization process; providing urgent support to developing countries -- in particular the least developed countries, small island developing States and African States -- led by their national designated authorities or focal points to build institutional capacities in accordance with Green Climate Fund Board decision B.08/11.

It encouraged the timely implementation of the accreditation framework and requested the Board, in its implementation, to pay adequate attention to the priorities and needs of developing country-parties, including the least developed countries, small island developing states and African states, emphasizing the need to provide readiness support to those national and regional entities eligible for fast-tracking that request it.

The COP is composed of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America. (PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Albay power provider cuts off service to mariners training school
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec.16 (PNA) –The Albay Power and Energy Corp., a subsidiary of the San Miguel Corp., has disconnected power supply to the Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation (MPCF) here due to unpaid electricity bills for eight months since March amounting to Php2.2 million, APEC general manager Manuel Imperial said Tuesday.

The MPCF is among the proponents to boycott electric bill payment to APEC, which acquired the former Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) in January, making the power cooperative the first such entity to privatize.

The APEC disconnected the power lines of MPCF in Barangay Rawis here on Dec. 4.

But four days after the MPCF power line was disconnected, terminated employees of the Aleco, who are mostly members of the Aleco Employees Organization (Aleo), restored the school’s power line.

The APEC tried to disconnect the reconnected lines but failed.

Aleo vice president Ephraim De Vera said the terminated employees have the authority to reconnect MPCF’s power line because they have a “return to work order” (RTWO) from the Department of Labor issued last March but the APEC would not honor the RTWO and instead offered a separation pay which the concerned employees, at least 70 of them, refused to honor.

De Vera claimed that the terminated employees have not been receiving their salary for almost a year now and that the APEC has begun harassing boycotting consumers.

MPCP president Dante Jimenez, also the founding chair of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, claimed that upon receipt of disconnection notice from the APEC, he paid MPCF’s electric dues to the Aleo-reconstituted Interim board of directors (IBOD) headed by lawyer Bartolome Rayco as chairman following a constituent assembly.

Jimenez said he does not recognized the IBOD created by the National Electrification Administration in 2012 that formulated Aleco’s privatization.

The reconstituted latest IBOD, which the APEC would not recognize, was a result of the unending consumers complaints against APEC’s dismal performance, resulting in the company’s poor average collection efficiency of only 40 percent.

De Vera confirmed Jimenez’s electric bill payment made through the Aleo-backed IBOD amounting to Php2.2million.

A case has been filed by the Aleo-backed IBOD for the annulment of the Aleco privatization scheme, alleging that the acquisition of Aleco by SMC through a public bidding was a farce and was conducted through a highly manipulated constituent assembly.

Jimenez has actively joined protest rallies and legal actions led by Aleo and the Aleco Multi-Sectoral Stakeholders Organization (Amsso) against the APEC.

Late last week, he filed a case against the APEC for theft and illegal disconnection while Imperial disclosed that the APEC is readying charges against MPCF for illegal connection.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/

MGP ‘I-smile’ project in Masbate enters second year
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE CITY Dec. 16 (PNA) --– The Masbate Gold Project (MGP) will hold its second annual medical mission, dubbed as “I-smile,” in the province of Masbate by January or February next year.

As part of MGP’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, MGP has been hosting the project “I-smile” of the Interplast Foundation, which provides free constructive facial treatment to poor children suffering from cleft lips/palate and burns.

Gene Gregorio, MGP communications director, said Tuesday that the MGP medical mission held a three-day mass screening of patients in MC Hospital on Dec. 11-13, in Cataingan Municipal Hospital on Dec. 13 and in Aroroy Municipal Hospital on Dec. 14.

The mission was headed by MGP special operations manager Florencio Cayco, company physician Dr. Jonathan Ang and Department of Education nurses in the province.

It was the second medical activity of a three-year-round medical mission of MGP in the entire province of Masbate, which started in early 2014 and will end in 2016.

Gregorio said the mission would possibly extend by 2016 onwards.

The project “I-smile” of MGP offers the highest level of medical care to children and adults suffering from intuitive facial deformations so that they can experience care and compassion and live a normal life,

It will be carried out by surgeons, anesthesiologists, speech pathologists and nurses from Australia in cooperation with the provincial government and the city government of Masbate, Interplast Team, Masbate Medical Society, Caritas Masbate, Pambansang Samahan ng mga Nars, Masbate Hospital, Health Services Cooperative, DepEd and local nurses.

Gregorio said the MGP shoulders the expenses of patients like transportation, accommodation, food and other incidental expenses during the screening and actual operation.

The team of Australian and Filipino practitioners will bring their own medical supplies and equipment.

DepEd nurses helped in the selection and recommendation of patients while the provincial, district and municipal hospitals and the City Health Office played an important role during the enlistment of patients.

Walk-in patients also have a chance to join if they can pass the medical screening process.

Other towns like Claveria in Burias Island and those in the Second District joined the screening at the MC hospital from Thursday to Friday last week while Dimasalang, Palanas, Pio V. Corpus, Cataingan and neighboring towns had their medical screening at the Cataingan Municipal Hospital on Saturday.

The activity was organized and managed by the MGP headed by its key officials: resident manager Bon Latuga, community relations manager Ramon Velasco, Ang, Cayco and Gregorio.(PNA) RMA/FGS/NBT/CBD/

910 newly-promoted police officers sworn in

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 16 (PNA) -- A total of 910 members of the Police Regional Office 5 who recently passed the promotion process formally took their oath after the pinning of ranks before Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, PRO5 director, in a program held Monday after the flag ceremony at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here.

Deona said those promoted consisted of police superintendent, 19; chief inspector, 16; senior inspector, 26; inspector, 1; senior police officer 4 (SPO4), 97; SPO3, 41; SPO2, 143; SPO1, 283; PO3, 177; and PO2, 167.

The newly promoted officers are well distributed all over the Bicol Region, he said.

The region had a quota of 1,057 for the promotion of officers from the rank of PO2 to police superintendent but only 910 qualified, the police official added.

“The newly promoted police officers and their relatives were very happy for the early Christmas gift they received in return for their dedication to service,” Deona noted. (PNA) SCS/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Monday, December 15, 2014

20 Legazpi villages bag good solid waste management awards
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- The City Government of Legazpi has cited with honors and cash incentives 20 of the city’s 70 villages that have shown outstanding performances in ecological solid waste management practices this year.

This environmental achievement search is a yearly activity being initiated by the City’s Environment and Natural Resources Office to examine the implementation of the barangays regarding the proper way of disposing the garbage at their respective areas.

The selection of winners in this year’s competition was based on the criteria of segregation at source, segregated collection (No segregation, no collection policy), collection coverage, operation and maintenance, barangay initiatives and apprehension of violators.

“The success of the implementation of our solid waste management program is a luminous symbol of Legazpi’s identity as a strong modern city that maintains healthful and environment-friendly communities,” said Mayor Noel E. Rosal who handed over the certificates of commendation and rewards to the awardees during the Christmas Party and awarding ceremony at the City Hall compound on Friday.

The three topnotchers among the ten under the Small Barangay Category of the city’s Search for Outstanding Solid Waste Management Program implementers were the villages of Sabang headed by its Punong Barangay (PB) Ismael Buban, with an average rating of 94.52 percent; followed by Barangay Maoyod under the leadership of PB Manuel Omnes, with an average of 94.15 percent; and 3rd place, Barangay Tamaoyan led by PB Sylvia Del Agua. with an average of 91.86 percent.

Each village received Php50,000.

The villages of Cabangan East headed by PB Nimfa Bolanos and Dap-Dap led by PB Marites Barcelon got the fourth and fifth places, respectively, and each received Php15,000.

The five other barangays that received Php10,000 each were Capantawan, Bano, Binanuahan West, Sagpon and Ilawod West.

The top three placers under the Large Barangay Category were Gogon headed by PB Perfecto Nacion, with an average of 91.75 percent; followed by Bigaa, PB Roberto Arienda, with an average of 89.83 percent; and, third place, Oros Site, PB Joseph Philip (JP) Lee, with an average of 85.33 percent.

Each also received Php50,000.

The fourth and fifth placers were Bitano, PB Joel Balinis, and Arimbay, PB Rozalina Gervero, with an average of 85 percent and 84.50 percent, respectively, and each received Php15,000.

The sixth to tenth placers, which got Php10,000 each, were the villages of Puro, Buraguis, Taysan, Bogtong and Bagumbayan.

During the awarding ceremony, Rosal commended all the winners of the search and urged all the barangay chairmen to continue to perform aggressively for the proper disposal of waste to maintain the cleanliness of the communities.

He also urged them to always remind their constituents, school superintendents and owners of business stablishments at their own respective villages to always support the city’s ecological solid waste management program to protect the residents from the dangerous effects of garbage to their health and maintain the cleanliness of the city’s surroundings.

The city chief executive explained that the implementation of the solid waste management program of Legazpi is in connection with Republic Act 9003 otherwise known as the Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000 and City Ordinance No. 0017, which both aim to improve the living condition of the people through proper environmental management.

On that same day, Rosal also awarded three winners in the choral competition participated in by different departments and offices of the city administration.

The first prize went to the City Treasurer’s Office, which got Php100,000; followed by City Budget and Planning Department, which received Php50,000; and third, City Agriculture and City Environment and Natural Resources Offices.

The six other participants received Php10,000 each as consolation prize. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EPS/CBD/SSC

DENR says Bicol done with measures to face challenges of climate change (Yearender)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- Measures that would keep Bicol ready to face the challenges of climate change are now in place, according to the regional office here of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The first four years of President Benigno Aquino III in power saw the DENR instituting sustainable precautionary measures that are now in place through comprehensive programs implemented to fortify the region’s line of defense and facilitate its preparedness against the negative impacts of the climate change phenomenon.

One of the most important components of these programs is the massive restoration of local watersheds and forest lands, including mangrove areas to serve as the first line of defense against typhoons, floods, sea surgesand landslides during the wet season and drought taking place during the dry season.

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

Of these forested areas, 86,931 hectares are in the province of Camarines Norte and 68,758 hectares in Catanduanes province.

Camarines Norte plays host to the Bicol National Park (BNP), a government-protected area which is considered as one of the region’s remaining natural forests once confronted with rapid deterioration, even as it is a natural heritage site for its endemic tree and wildlife species, pristine rivers and other ecological wonders.

BNP covers 5,700 hectares of forest and considering that only 15 percent remains of the old growth, meaning only 760 hectares of its original grandeur had been left as of 2011 due to past illegal forest activities, its dwindled vegetation could have endangered the watersheds that also supply water to some 40,000 hectares of rice fields in the province.

These wrongdoings have already been checked; reforestation efforts are showing good results and the area is now regaining life towards its old vibrant form, according to DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales.

In Catanduanes, the region’s island-province most vulnerable to typhoons -- being the first landmass to be kissed by the waves of the Pacific Ocean, protection of the substantial forests, which stand still as the largest remaining forest block in the whole of Bicol, has been heightened, he said.

These forests include the Catanduanes Watershed Forest Reserve covering 26,010 hectares, which is now being evaluated to become a natural park with an expanded protected area of 49,000 hectares.

The density of forest cover in Albay has also been increased to almost double owing to relentless reforestation activities and vigorous environmental advocacies over the past four years.

The growth is measured by the DENR based on satellite imagery which indicates that the province’s forest cover increased by 86 percent between 2010 and 2014 resulting from robust environmental advocacies and activities despite the massive destruction inflicted by typhoons especially "Reming" and "Milenyo" that hit the province successively in the last part of 2006.

Albay has a total land area of 256,677 hectares, of which around 80,000 hectares covering key mountains and protected areas like the Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP), Mt. Pocdol, Mt. Malinao, Mt. Masaraga and Mt. Manaet are considered forest land.

Gonzales said, Albay’s forest cover was measured at only 26, 298.71 hectares or 10.25 percent of the province’s entire land area in 2007.

Over the next seven years or until this year, it grew to 44,891.16 hectares or 17.49 percent to post an increase of 18,792 hectares or an expansion of 41.42 percent over the total for a growth rate of 5.92 percent or 2,656.06 hectares per year.

“This is a very remarkable achievement for Albay, a province where about 73 percent of total land area is vulnerable to landslide and soil erosion due to its mountainous terrain,” Gonzales noted.

The DENR’s anti-climate change comprehensive programs on forest and watershed revitalization also cover Mt. Isarog Natural Park and Mt. Asog, both in Camarines Sur, as well as Bulusan Volcano Natural Park in Sorsogon, which are all part of the 25 protected areas in the region covering about 59,000 hectares of terrestrial, wetlands and marine or coastal ecosystems.

The National Greening Program (NGP), one of Pres. Aquino’s flagship environmental programs, generated the biggest impacts on these forest restoration achievements wherein nearly 15 million new trees, including mangrove propagules, have been put in place over the past three years largely through voluntary public participation.

NGP is a nationwide re-greening campaign launched by Pres. Aquino through his Executive Order No. 26 issued in February 2011 that intends to percolate the country’s green renaissance towards a more focused and unified interventions to achieve sustainable rural development.

The total log ban policy of the present national administration is another big help, Gonzales said.

Another key component of the DENR comprehensive anti-climate change programs is geohazard mapping that has provided local government units (LGUs) with maps that enable them to pinpoint specific areas where to focus disaster preparedness and mitigation measures for zero casualty during natural calamity situations.

The maps, technically prepared by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR, are now in the hands of Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils (MDRRMCs), particularly in 83 of the region’s 107 municipalities classified as highly vulnerable areas.

These geohazard maps, whose preparation and distribution are under the government’s Ready Multi-hazard Mapping and Assessment for Effective Community-based Disaster Risk Management Project, are designed according to geographic and tectonic settings with emphasis on areas highly exposed to natural hazards, Gonzales added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/SSC

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

‘Ruby’ no significant impact on Masbate Gold Project
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE CITY, Dec. 9 (PNA) -- Typhoon “Ruby” had no significant impact on the Masbate Gold Project’s (MGP) operations when it passed over the province of Masbate and its outlying islands, a top official of the company’s operator said.

The Masbate Gold Project is being operated by Filminera Resources Corp. and is the Philippines’ largest gold mining company based in the town of Aroroy in Masbate.

“Prior to the storm’s landfall, all safety precautions were taken to ensure the safety of personnel and neighboring communities. Equipment and supplies were safely stored ahead of time and personnel were placed in storm shelters,” Gene Gregorio, FRC spokesman, clarified.

Gregorio said that prior to the storm’s landfall, all safety precautions were taken by MGP to ensure the safety of personnel and neighboring communities while equipment and supplies were also stored safely ahead of time and personnel were placed in storm shelters.

Both mining and processing operations were briefly halted as a safety measure, Gregorio added, saying a report documenting MGP’s safe record during the typhoon will be submitted to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Preparations in the mine had been finalized earlier last week in accordance with our established procedures and the Incident Management Team (IMT) continued to review the situation as the path of the storm became clear,” he said, adding. “The mine site is well prepared for such events with established emergency measures and typhoon shelters.”

MGP stands by to provide local assistance if required.(PNA) RMA/FGS/NBT/CBD/

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

PLDT’S Smart, Sun roll out additional Libreng Tawag, charging stations

MANILA, Dec. 9 (PNA) -- Additional “Libreng Tawag” and free mobile device charging stations were deployed by PLDT mobile subsidiaries, Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) and Sun Cellular (Sun) to assist communities in areas affected by typhoon “Ruby.”

In a statement, PLDT said that free calls and charging of mobile devices are available in the following sites: Cebu City Hall; San Vicente Parish in Bogo City, Province of Cebu; Municipal Hall of San Jose in Mindoro; Malabon City Hall; Calauag in Quezon; and in Sta. Cruz and Boac in Marinduque.

For Eastern Samar, the telcos are setting up Libreng Tawag stations at the Borongan City Hall; and at the municipal halls of Dolores, Taft, and Catarman.

The telco also handed additional Smart Satellite phones over to the Department of National Defense (DND) to augment government coordination for emergency assistance and disaster relief.

It is also deploying additional Libreng Tawag sites, and portable power generation sets to help affected residents communicate with family and friends.

So far, commercial power has not yet been restored in parts of Samar, Sorsogon, Quezon and Marinduque.

More company facilities will also be opened for free mobile device charging in areas that will have more prolonged power outages.

PLDT said that although no major damages to any transmission facilities have been reported, some locations in the Batangas and Mindoro provinces may experience diminished indoor coverage due to the loss of commercial electric power and the possibility that some antenna towers were misaligned by strong winds.

On the other hand, network services continue to operate in the CALABARZON and MIMAROPA areas - the areas on Ruby’s direct path on Monday (Dec. 8).

Meanwhile, a second team of network personnel and equipment arrived Tuesday in Eastern Samar on-board an aircraft of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to join the first team that was pre-deployed prior to the arrival of Ruby.

Restoration work is in full swing in Eastern Visayas with more base stations initially affected last Sunday currently running.

At present, the telco continues to provide emergency communications assistance in the form of Smart Satellite phones, mobile and Internet devices, load, and Infoboard text messaging service for various government offices, relief agencies and citizen volunteer groups. (PNA) FFC/ANP

Lahar isolates several barangays in Albay town due to typhoon 'Ruby'
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

GUINOBATAN, Albay, Dec. 8 (PNA) -- Several barangays in this town have been isolated since Saturday night after volcanic materials from the lower slope of Mayon rolled down toward Barangay Maipon here at the height of typhoon Ruby’s onslaught.

Army Col. Perfecto Penaredondo, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion based in Tula-Tula Grande, Ligao City, on Monday said car-sized boulders and other volcanic materials tumbled down towards Maipon village here.

Jun Pavericio, Municipal Disaster Risk Reducation Management Council officer, said deposited lahar remobilized and rolled down due to torrential rains.

Pavericio, his men and military soldiers visited Maipon Monday morning and saw that lahar has covered the road network, making it unpassable to all types of vehicles up to now.

In 2006, Maipon village was buried by a big volume of volcanic materials from the slopes of Mayon Volcano, killing some 500 people during the height of super typhoon “Reming.”

Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Bicol chief resident volcanologist, warned that remobilization of lahar from Mounts Bulusan in Sorsogon and Mayon in Albay might occur due to heavy to torrential rains.

With this lahar flow advisory, Albay Governor Joey Salceda has increased the number of evacuees threatened by lahar here.

Typhoon "Ruby" flattened houses in the Bicol Region as it pummeled on Saturday afternoon. Car-sized boulders tumbled down to low-lying areas in Albay province.

Storm surges as high as 10 to 15 feet slammed coastal areas of Sorsogon and Albay provinces, engulfing houses in these areas.

Bernardo “Raffy” Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense regional director, said his office received a report regarding a storm surge that took place in the island-province of Masbate even before typhoon Ruby’s landfall on Saturday.

A television report said one such surge happened in Dimasalang, Masbate, but a physician-resident of the area denied that it ever occurred.

Though there was no reported casualty, numerous houses in the coastal areas of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon were reportedly damaged.

In the coastal villages of Sabang, Pigcale, Baybay and San Roque in Legazpi City, numerous houses made of light materials were either washed into the sea or half-buried by sand due to storm surges even before Ruby’s landfall.(PNA) LAM/FGS/RBB/CBD/

Camarines Norte PDRRMC bans heavy vehicles from Sta. Elena town route
By John Mark Escandor

DAET, Camarines Norte, Dec. 8 (PNA) --- While heavy rains hit Camarines Norte, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council banned heavy vehicles from passing Sta. Elena town at the boundary of Quezon and Camarines Norte provinces.

Antonio Espanya, head of the PDRRMC office in Camarines Norte, said that since Sunday afternoon, they have not allowed all heavy vehicles to pass through the temporary road that crosses the Kabuluan River as one lorry truck had been stuck down the river, preventing other vehicles from passing through it.

Espanya said the lorry truck was finally extracted from the river early morning Sunday, allowing light vehicles stranded since Saturday evening to pass through the river.

He said they expected the temporary road would eventually be closed down to all vehicles once the river starts to swell.

The temporary road that passes down the river was opened in October after the detour bridge that connects Camarines Norte to the regions north of the province, including Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila, was completed.

The detour bridge was destroyed by Typhoon "Mario" in September.

He said the heavy vehicles from Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila going to Daet, Camarines Norte, are ordered to take the Andaya Highway to Sipocot town crossing the Bicol Natural Park; and vice versa to those heavy vehicles from Daet town going to Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila.

This route makes the travel longer of about 200 km, according to Espanya.

He said the PDRRMC has already undertaken the evacuation of residents living in the coastal, landslide- and flood-prone areas in the towns of Mercedes, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Capalonga and Labo.

Espanya said Camarines Norte has evacuated 3,247 families composed of 15,574 individuals in 117 evacuation centers.

He said food packs had been distributed by the provincial government while the Philippine National Red Cross distributed hot meals to the evacuees. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD/

Fire eats up Php10M at Camarines Norte town market

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 8 (PNA) -- About Php10-million worth of goods and materials at the grocery section of the public market of the Jose Panganiban town in Camarines Norte went up in smoke early Monday morning while the town was under Typhoon Signal No. 2.

A report reaching Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol regional police director, said the fire started around 2:00 a.m. Monday at the grocery section of the market and immediately spread to the other parts of the building.

Members of the Bureau of Fire and Protection of the municipality immediately responded and declared a fire-out at 4:20 a.m.

BFP officials have yet to determine the cause of the conflagration, according to Edgardo Magana, town market administrator.

Deona said everybody was at that time focused on the preparations for typhoon “Ruby.” (PNA) LAM/FGS/EMC/CBD/

No storm surges in Dimasalang town in Masbate -- medical doctor
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE, Dec. 8 (PNA) – To allay fears of relatives of Dimasalang residents who are living outside the town, a concerned citizen of the municipality told the Philippines News Agency that contrary to reports in a local radio based in Masbate City, there were no storm surges that happened in the municipality.

Dr. Elpidio Lim, a private doctor in Dimasalang, clarified that storm surges had not happened in his hometown.

Lim posted on his facebook yesterday that he recently had a communication with Barangay Chairman Perseus Cabalan of Barangay Canomay and confirmed that the report of storm surges in this village was not true.

Earlier, a concerned citizen had sought confirmation on how true villages in Dimasalang town, among which is Barangay Canomay, was reportedly ravaged by storm surges that he could no longer contact his family in this town.

Though recent reports were aired on television, social media and radios that Barangay Canomay was among those barangays with storm surge signals, typhoon "Ruby" did not bring any storm surge in the town, Lim claimed.

He said the alleged report made by dyME radio station here and was picked up by the ABS-CBN news correspondent in the province was negative and just a speculation.

"Though the devastating typhoon Ruby spawned big waves and cut off power supply in this town, there was no such storm surges," the practicing physician added.

Village officials led by Cabalan and some able-bodied males remained at the village to strictly implement preemptive measures and later sensed that storm surges had not really happened.

No casualty has also been reported by the police station of the municipality. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NBT/CBD/

Albay achieves zero-casualty goal -- Salceda
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 8 (PNA) -- After its decampment order, the provincial government of Albay declared that the province had achieved its zero-casualty target.

"We have carefully and deliberately reviewed event reports from Department of Health (DOH) V headed by Regional Director Gloria Balboa, Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) led by Rogelio G. Rivera, Eric Raborar, BRRTH HEMS and private hospitals, Albay Provincial Health Office headed by Nats Rempillo and its district hospitals, rural health units and their infirmaries, and no one has recorded any death occurrence as a result of typhoon 'Ruby'," Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said.

Salceda said they had also validated the reports of Albay Provincial Police Office led by Provincial Director Marlo Meneses and its 18 city/municipal police stations, "and there were no deaths reported and attributed to super typhoon Ruby."

Salceda said they also reviewed actions in respect to the body of commitments to achieve zero casualty such as:

1. Was population-at-risk for various hazards posed by super typhoon Ruby updated with LGUs/LCEs? "'Yes, in four PDRRMC meetings in Dec. 1, 2, 4 and 5;"

2. Were these populations identified at risk evacuated pre-emptively or reasonably moved out of harms way ahead of the occurrence of risks? "Yes;"

3. Were the evacuees supported with standard food packs and sheltered in safe evacuation centers? Were resources raised promptly both from internal (state of calamity) and traditional sources of external assistance (DSWD)? "Yes;" and

4. Were the un-evacuated but possessing capacity to respond to risks properly informed of the risks or assisted, if needed? "Yes."(PNA) LAM/FGS/CBD/

'Ruby' causes Php202-M damages to agriculture in Bicol
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 8 (PNA) -- Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) destroyed 8,111.01 hectares of rice plantation and high-value crops or an equivalent of Php202.8-million worth of staple food in the Bicol Region, Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council chair Bernardo “Raffy” Alejandro said during the council meeting here Monday.

Bicol’s rice granary provinces of Camarines Sur and Albay are the most badly affected as vast tracts of rice plantation have been affected by Ruby.

Based on the report from various disaster offices from the region’s six provinces transmitted to the RDRRMC and the Office of Civil Defense here on Monday, affected were about 7,362.01 hectares of rice or 16,888.66 metric tons amounting to Php176 million; 644 hectares of corn or Php18.6 million; high-value crop, 105 hectares or equivalent of Php8.0 million; and livestock, Php31,250.00.

Among the six provinces of Bicol, Camarines Sur posted the highest agricultural loss with 2,247 hectares of riceland damaged or Php66.6 million; followed by Albay, 2,422.50 hectares or an equivalent of Php51.3 million.

Catanduanes reported at least 1,072 hectares of rice plantation or Php30.9 million; Masbate, 1,094.40 hectares or Php26.0 million and Sorsogon, 526 hectares of rice or Php1.4 million.

Sporadic landslides were also reported in the island-province of Catanduanes while an 18-day-old baby boy, Justice Canezo, from Zone 6, San Nicolas village in Iriga City died due to hypothermia during the height of the typhoon.

The Bicol Region achieved zero-casualty as the people supported the government’s call to take shelter a day before Ruby’s landfall, Alejandro said, adding that the excellent cooperation of the people with the government and the lessons learned from the previous calamities greatly helped to achieve the zero-casualty goal of the government.

“The resiliency of the Bicolanos and their excellent cooperation with the government is a great relief for disaster officials when the casualty goal is achieved. No amount of money when a single precious life is lost,” Alejandro said.

When the weather permits, Alejandro said, they will conduct an aerial assessment in Bicol provinces, especially in Masbate where typhoon Ruby made a second landfall on Saturday.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ available assets -- such as air, sea and land vehicles and manpower -- are all ready to be sent to badly affected areas in Easter Samar when the need arises, Commodore Aurelio Rabusa, commander of the Naval Forces Southern Luzon, said during the RDRRMC briefing.

In Albay, soldiers under Col. Raul Farnacio of the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade and municipal disaster offices are working together to remove the volcanic debris that rolled down the slope of the Mayon Volcano in Maipon village in Guinobatan town, which isolated several villages. (PNA) LAP/FGS/RBB/CBD/

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes evacuees now returning home --SolCom

MANILA, Dec. 8 (PNA) -- Evacuees who hunkered down into various evacuation shelters in Sorsogon, Albay and Catanduanes in the Bicol Region over the weekend due to typhoon "Ruby" are now returning home, Major Angelo Guzman, Southern Luzon Command (SolCom) spokesperson, said on Monday.

"The 903rd Infantry Brigade and 31st Infantry Battalion started assisting evacuees in Sorsogon in returning to their homes at 7 a.m. Monday," he said.

He added that the 901st Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Battalion and 83rd Infantry Battalion also began assisting evacuees in Albay and Catanduanes to return to their homes starting at 9 a.m.

Guzman also said that the Masbate airport in the same region is now clear for landing.

No casualties attributable to "Ruby" were reported in the three provinces, he added.

"The Southern Luzon Command is closely monitoring the preparations and effects of Ruby in Romblon and Mindoro," Guzman said.

Aside from this, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has given 500 sacks of rice to the Southern Luzon Command units directly involved in humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR).

Around 300 troopers from the 2nd Infantry Division were alerted for HADR missions, complementing efforts being done by the 4th Infantry Battalion.

"All three naval vessels docked in San Pascual, Burias Island, Masbate were properly secured and in operational condition," Guzman said.

Aside from these missions, the Southern Luzon Command announced that it has now alerted its rapid damage and needs assessment teams for post-"Ruby" operations.

Guzman said that disaster response operation units are now helping in clearing roads blocked by typhoon debris. (PNA) SCS/PFN

Salceda orders decampment of ‘Ruby’ evacuees
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 7 (PNA) -- With the improved weather condition, though it was still raining and gusty winds were present, the Provincial Government of Albay on Sunday afternoon announced the decampment of all typhoon “Ruby” evacuees that are threatened by strong winds, mud and lahar flows, floods, landslides and storm surges.

On Friday, Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda ordered the evacuation of about 600,000 people who were most likely to experience these five hazard threats.

With Ruby sparing Albay, however, Salceda and other officials of the province decided to issue five orders, among them is the decampment of Ruby-related evacuees.

Those who reside within the six-kilomter-radius permanenet danger zone of Mayon Volcano are exempted from decampment.

There are 30 military trucks used during the forced evacuation which are ready to be used for the decampment of 183,180 families or close to 600,000 people.

The second order issued by Salceda, through Dr. Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office chief, is that classes at all levels in the province will remain suspended on Monday until further notice.

Third, employees in both private and public offices are required to report for work on Monday.

Fourth, Salceda said the opening of the Karangahan Festival will be on Dec. 10.

Lastly, he asked the Albay Power and Energy Corp. to restore power in commercial areas as soon as possible so as not to disrupt economic adctivites. (PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD/SSC

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Salceda fears negative economic effects of 'Ruby' on Albay
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 7 (PNA) -- It is the negative impacts of typhoon "Ruby" on the economy of Albay that Governor Joey Sarte Salceda is fearing.

Salceda disclosed this in a media briefing at the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office operations center Sunday.

"In short, my greatest fear now for the province is economic damages rather than casualty," he confided.

The economist-governor said he is now praying for the winds and rains being carried by Ruby to tone down so that the typhoon would not bring much destruction on trees and electric posts because, he recalled, it took 120 days before the normal power service was restored after typhoon "Glenda" in July this year.

He said there are even some areas in the province where electricity has not yet been reconnected.

Salceda said there used to be 15 million coconut trees in the province, 9.4 million of which were destroyed by Glenda and only five million are left.

"These are the remaining standing coconut trees in the province," he claimed.(PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/

Salceda confident of attaining Albay's zero-casualty goal
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 7 (PNA) -- Governor Joey Sarte Salceda at noontime on Sunday said he was confident that Albay would attain its zero-casualty goal during the onslaught of typhoon "Ruby".

"More than 85-percent zero casualty is answered," Salceda said, adding that typhoon "Ruby" is like a "political storm" -- puro hangin, wala namang laman (full of air but empty)

RUBY MADE ITS SECOND LANDFALL IN CATAINGAN TOWN AT THE SOUTHERN PART OF MASBATE, ABOUT 120 KILOMETERS FROM THIS CITY, AT ABOUT 10:00 A.M. SUNDAY.

THE STORM CARRIED HEAVY-TO-TORRENTIAL RAINS WITH 500-KM DIAMETER AND WITH 10-30-MM-PER-HOUR RAINFALL, ACCORDING TO LILIAN GUILLERMO, PHILIPPINE ATMOSPHERIC, GEOPHYSICAL AND ASTRONOMICAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION BICOL OFFICER-IN- CHARGE.

PHILIPPINE INSTITUTE OF VOLCANOLOGY AND SEISMOLOGY BICOL CHIEF RESIDENT VOLCANOLOGIST ED LAGUERTA EXPLAINED THAT NO POSSIBLE LAHAR FLOW WOULD HAPPEN WITH THIS VOLUME OF RAINFALL.

"FOR LAHAR TO OCCUR, IT NEEDS A 60-MM-PER-HOUR RAINFALL, BUT STILL AREAS WITHIN MAYON'S AREA MUST BE SECURED," LAGUERTA ADDED. CTB/LAP/FGS/CBD/

AFP deploys disaster operation units in Bicol
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 7 (PNA) -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has deployed soldiers specializing on disaster response measures in Biol to ensure the safety of the Bicolanos.

Army Major Gen. Yerson E. Depayso said the Philippine Army in Bicol has committed all its capabilities and assets for emergencies that would be caused by Typhoon "Ruby" to ensure the safety of the Bicolanos with their target of zero casualty.

“Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) is a major effort of the 9ID since this region is frequented by typhoons,” he said.

Depayso said the military is continuing to train its personnel on disaster preparedness, rescue operations, and water and search specialized training to immediately respond in times of disaster.

Army Col. Raul Farnacio, commanding officer of the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade, said 23 military trucks and three police trucks with 18 disaster response operation units have been mobilized in Albay.

While in Catanduanes, six military trucks were deployed for evacuation of the people threatened by storm surge and landslide.

The AFP in Bicol activated the Task Force Sagip Ruby as Ruby was to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

Brig.Gen. Felix J Castro Jr., commander of Task Group Sagip Ruby, said all Army units in Bicol under the 9ID were already on the ground to lend a hand to the Bicolanos.

He said a battalion-size rescuers and responders were organized by the 9ID and were deployed across the region before Ruby entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

Three rubber boats and water rescue equipment were deployed in flood-prone-areas like Legazpi City, Albay; Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

“The three infantry brigades and battalions have prepositioned their personnel with military vehicles and were dispatched for preemptive evacuation at flood-prone, landslide-prone, and mudflow areas.

Army reservists of the 5th Regional Community Defense Group, ARESCOM were also alerted for possible deployment,” Castro said.

At least two million Bicolanos evacuated by disaster responders at the Bicol region were facing complex disaster.

Bernardo “Raffy” Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense regional director, said 500 families or an equivalent of two million people across the region have been evacuated to safety.

The biggest number of evacuees came from Albay and Sorsogon provinces as the complex disaster might occur following the threat of landslides, flashfloods, lahar flows and storm surges.

Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology resident volcanologist, warned disaster officials and responders to prepare for a worst-case scenario as complex disaster in Bicol is possible as the restive Mayon might explode while old volcanic materials are expected to go down in low-lying areas in the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon.

“Typhoon Ruby may trigger sudden Mayon explosion, possible upper-level collapse and simultaneous remobilization of lahar from the slopes of the country’s two most active volcanoes, Bulusan in Sorsogon and Mayon in Albay,” Laguerta said.

“Intense rainfall may trigger upper-level collapse of the volcano that could lead to explosion. So we need to be ready and prepare for the worst-case scenario as mudflow may tumble down due to heavy rainfall,” he said.

In Albay province, even before Ruby’s landfall, raging big waves pummelled in the coastal areas of Legazpi City, destroying numerous light material-made houses in the villages of Pigcale, Sabang, San Roque, Bigaa and Rawis on Thursday evening.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said the province is bracing for flashfloods, mudflows, storm surges and massive landslides.

“We’re ready for worst and complex scenario. We’re declaring Albay under state of calamity for the local government units to use their calamity fund,” Salceda said.

The provincial government of Albay allocated at least Php15 million for disaster response operations and sought assistance from Department of Social Welfare Department for additional support.

The DSWD allocated 6,000 bags of rice for Albay to support the needs of almost 600,000 Albayanos evacuated to safer grounds.

“Local government units must complete evacuation before darkness. Families not evacuated should complete their family preparedness plan, no extra movement – stay home or stay in evacuation centers. No crossing of rivers, no sail to sea, fix your homes and secure your pets and other domestic animals. Our goal is always zero casualty. Remember our policy is no rescue during the height of typhoon so as not to put the lives of the rescuers into danger,” the Albay governor reiterated. (PNA) FFC/FGS/RBB/CBD

PLDT, Smart-Sun assist gov’t in preparations for 'Ruby'

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 7 (PNA) -- In line with the preparations for typhoon "Ruby," PLDT, Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) and Sun Cellular (Sun) have been assisting various local government offices and agencies for their emergency communications requirements, a company statement reaching the PNA here Sunday said.

In Bicol, Smart provided the Naga City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council with Smart Bro wifi units and additional PLDT landline as backup emergency communications.

The province of Albay is also using Smart Infoboard and Pindot, a mobile app that runs on the same platform as OCD’s Batingaw.

About two years ago, Sun distributed free cellular phones to Bicol meadiamen and provided them free loads monthly to help them in their field reports.

Sun is planning to update these cellphone units to better and updated-model ones.

Smart Infoboard is also currently being used by other local governments and agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Southern Leyte, Bohol, Cebu City, Danao City, OCD-Cordillera Autonomous Region, as well as by the Archdiocese of Cebu, the statement said.

PLDT, Smart, and Sun are continuously monitoring the updates on the typhoon as network and operation teams have been stepping up preparations to ensure that vital communications services will remain on-air.

The companies are also prepared to deploy "Libreng Tawag" stations for post-disaster response in coordination with the local governments.

On top of making their networks more resilient, PLDT, Smart and Sun have been expanding efforts to provide communications solutions for government offices and agencies to assist in crisis management.

Recently, the telephone companies provided voice, SMS and Internet services for the UN Peacekeepers quarantined in Caballo, Island, the statement added.(PNA) FFC/FGS/CBD

Albay officials urge evacuees to remain at safe temporary shelters
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 7 (PNA) -- Officials of Albay province have asked the evacuees to remain at their present safe temporary shelters while typhoon "Ruby" lashes at Masbate and its neighboring areas.

Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda and Dr. Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office chief, jointly issued the appeal Sunday morning to keep every Albayano safe from harm and achieve the zero-casualty goal of the province.

Albay is about 70 kilometers from Masbate, where Ruby is estimated to make a second landfall from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Sunday.

Daep said while the typhoon is passing through Masbate, there is a need for everybody to be at a safe place and heed the advice of local officials.

He advised the Albayanos to always keep tuned in to their radios and other forms of communication for continuous flow of information.

The Albay official said the information coming from authorized officials through these means of communication is the best way of knowing the real situation in the province and the neighboring area.

Daep asked Albayanos to thank God for the present situation and continue praying for Him to spare the province from being in worse situation, although the whole of Albay is prepared for it.

Meanwhile, Sr. Supt. Marlo S. Meneses, Albay provincial police director, said peace and order has remained maintained in the province, especially at the evacuation centers.

Meneses said there has been no untoward incident reported in the past hours.

He advised the public not to drink liquors at the evacuation centers to avoid discussion that could eventually lead to heated arguments and physical confrontation.

Col. Raul Fernacio, commanding officer of the 901st Infantry Brigade based in Barangay Villa Hermosa, Daraga, echoed Daep and Meneses' advice.(PNA) FFC/FGS/NIM/CBD

DA-Bicol issues advisories to lessen typhoon ‘Ruby’ impacts on farms
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Dec. 6 (PNA) -– The Regional Field Unit for Bicol of the Department of Agriculture (RFU-DA) based here has issued an advisory for farmers to avoid suffering much from the impacts of typhoon “Ruby” threatening the region.

DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas on Saturday told the Philippine News Agency that rice farmers have been told to harvest their crops that can already be harvested.

“We have made our two combine harvesters available to farmers for them to be able to harvest their palay that are already due for harvest at once and save them from destruction of strong wind and flood. We shoulder first the cost of fuel which the farmer will reimburse to us after harvest,” Bragas said.

There are also 12 units of combine harvester in possession of farmers’ cooperatives in the region that can also be used for this purpose and these groups have also been advised to make them available, he said.

After harvest, the palay should be taken directly to flatbed dryers distributed in various parts of the region to dry the grains.

There are 300 flatbed dryers which the DA has made available across the region, according to Bragas.

Farmers are also advised to set aside palay seeds out of their harvest for the next planting season.

Palay and fertilizers in storage should not also get wet so that they should be packed in laminated sacks, Bragas said.

In areas prone to floods, he said, farm animals and livestock should be evacuated to designated evacuation camps for animals, with their owners ensuring sufficient stock of feeds.

Fruit-bearing trees like mango, pili and santol, among others, should also be pruned to save them from being uprooted by the expected strong wind that typhoon Ruby is packing, Bragas said.

On the part of the DA-RFU, he assured the availability of seeds and planting materials for rehabilitation of farms should these be needed based on the extent of damages that the typhoon may render.

Before the arrival of the typhoon, which is expected Saturday night or Sunday morning, Bragas said all farm machinery and equipment of the DA regional office will be kept secured inside its pooling area and would be readily available for use in the rehabilitation of damaged farms, should the need arise afterwards.

“Let us be ready and brace for the typhoon. Prayers will surely help us to be spared from its fullest brunt,” he added in the urgent advisory relayed through all means of fast communications to farmers’ groups, agricultural extension workers and individual farmers in the region. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/SSC

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Albay declares state of calamity
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 6 (PNA) -- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay on Saturday held a special session and passed Resolution No. 109-2014 declaring the entire Province of Albay under state of calamity due to Typhoon "Ruby" (international name: Hagupit).

Ruby is expected to hit land at Borongan, Samar at about 8 p.m. Saturday and batter Masbate province, which is about 70 kilometers from Legazpi City, at about 10 p.m.

The provincial government of Albay has been evacuating residents that would be under any or more that one of the five threats that would be brought about by Ruby, whose classification has been downgraded from super typhoon to and an ordinary typhoon.

These threats are strong winds, floods, mud and lahar flows, storm surges and landslides.

Albay has been declared by the weather agency as under Public Storm Warning Signal No. 3.

Meanwhile, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines personnel had been working to restore power transmission service after an outage hit portions of Albay province as of 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Power consumers of the Albay Power and Energy Corp. had been affected by the outage due to a customer-owned pole that leaned over the transmission.

Normal operation resume after work completion at about 1:35 p.m., the NGCP said.

The power transmission company restored power in Albay after re-energizing the Tiwi-Malinao-Tabaco 69kv transmission line.(PNA) RMA/FGS/CBD

Evacuation in Albay resumes; evacuees to reach 600,000

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 6 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Albay on Saturday morning continued evacuating residents who are threatened by strong winds, mud and lahar flows, floods, landslides and storm surges.

Those ordered to evacuated by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda may reach about 600,000 people who are most likely to experience these threats.

Salceda on Friday issued a directive to government troops and disaster responders to start evacuation that should be finished on or before Saturday night, when typhoon “Ruby” was originally estimated to make a landfall.

He requested 30 military trucks from Office of Civil Defense Director Bernardo Alejandro, concurrently Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council chair, to be used for evacuation of 183,180 families or close to 600,000 people.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has committed 73 military vehicles, 1,223 troops, 2 ambulances and 3 rubber boats to be sent to the 9th Infantry Division command post for Typhoon “Ruby” based in Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here for disaster response operation all over the Bicol Region, according to Brig. Gen. Felix Castro Jr., Task Force Sagip commander.

Based on the record of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, at least 57,421 families would be affected by floodings; 14,546 families, by landslides; 37,704, lahar and mud flows; 27,154, storm surges; and 46,335, strong winds (families with light material houses).

Salceda’s directive came after Ruby (with international name: Hagupit) slowed down with 700-km-diameter coverage area, packing maximum winds of 215 kph and gustiness of 250 kilometer per hour.

“We’re preparing for supertyphoon Reming-like event here. We must apply Reming learnings. Half of Albay population will be evacuated. For storm surge, rich and poor families -- especially at beach resort towns of Sto. Domingo and Bacacay will be evacuated to safer grounds because we’re anticipating for a 15-foot storm surge, considering that there is no buffer zone in Albay Gulf,” the governor said.

Eight years ago, Reming pummeled the Bicol Region, specifically in Albay province, for eight hours without letup.

At least 1,500 people were buried alive by cascading walls of volcanic debris and washed to the seas on November 30, 2006.

Reming left hundreds of thousands families homeless, massive devastation to agricultural crops and destroyed multibillion-peso government and private infrastructures.

The governor also directed local officials from city, municipal to barangay levels to trim trees near their residences so that these will not fall on the roof and electric posts.

“Trim trees that could fall on electric posts. Our experience shows that it takes time and effort to restore power due to fallen posts which also scuttle the wires. And as far as housing is concerned, it is just as difficult to find rehab funds for housing materials. We should do this because we keep coming back to the national government and international non-government organizations and international agencies for help for Reming in 2006, for Juaning in 2011, Glenda in 2014 and Mayon pre-emptive in 2014,” Salceda said.

“I will still do everything to restore everything but it is in our own interest to implement simple measures to reduce damages. So we save our hard-earned fixed capital and also avoid the liquidity trap between disaster and recovery,” he added.

Lilian Guillermo, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Bicol, told disaster officials here in a briefing Friday afternoon that heavy-to-intense rains will cause massive flooding and could trigger landslides across the region.

“Albay is placed on red alert with expected rainfall of 55-60 mm per hour. Coastal waters along the seaboards and eastern coast of Albay will experience storm surges, so be ready,” she said.

Guillermo said Ruby slowed down and this would the typhoon much more time to develop and gain strength, specifically that she is within the ocean.

“The typhoon will landfall in Eastern Samar and pass through the southern tip of Sorsogon. But because Albay is very near Sorsogon, most likely these provinces will experience similar wind strength of 215 kph associated with heavy precipitation. The wind is stronger than Reming’s and it might hit us for seven hours as Ruby slows down,” she added.

“This would give us more time to prepare for Ruby's arrival, but we must anticipate stronger winds and heavy rainfall. Remember that the longer a typhoon stays in the ocean, the greater it generates stronger winds -- making it more powerful by the time it makes landfall within the landmass,” Guillermo explained.

Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology resident volcanologist in Bicol, also warned disaster officials that with intense rainfall, an upper-level landslide from Mayon might occur, thus, remobilizing the volcano’s old volcanic debris deposited at that portion.

In Sorsogon province, the Matnog Port was declared a no-man’s zone, grounding all sea vessels in all seaports in Bicol for safety.

The Office of Civil Defense and Philippine Coast Guard in Bicol grounded all forms of sea transportation in all seaports to prevent possible eventualities.

In Albay province, all sea vessels took refuge in Sula channel in Cagraray Island, Bacacay town.(PNA) LAM/FGS/RBB/CBD/PJN

MGP pays Php2-B in taxes to government
By Norman B. Tamar

AROROY, Masbate, Dec. 5 (PNA) -- In the past five years of its operation in this town from 2008 to 2013, the Masbate Gold Project paid over Php2.028 billion in regulatory fees and taxes to the local government unit and the community, according to a top official of the Filminera Resources Corp., a sister company of the MGP.

Gene Gregorio, FRC corporate affairs officer, said that with this amount of contribution to the fiscal resources of the LGU of Aroroy, the MGP accounts for almost 8 out of 10 taxes generated locally by the municipal government.

“MGP’s total tax payment to the LGU is almost one-third of its total taxable base, including the internal revenue allotment (IRA) from the national government,” Gregorio added.

Meanwhile, the FRC paid Php305-million in 2012, about 43-fold from Php7.2-million in 2008.

On the other hand, the Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corp. (PGPRC), which processes and refines the mineral product, remitted over Php213-million in 2012 – more than double the amount of Php93.5-million remitted in 2008.

Gregorio noted that a typical LGU sources it taxes from the national government in terms of its share in the IRA and from local taxes such as business permits, business licenses, and local fees.

Many LGUs tend to aim for a higher share of local taxes in its total tax base in order to wean away from over-dependence on the national government, he said.

In fact, some LGUs strive to generate more of their taxes from so-called internal sources such as real estate and business taxes in order to be more independent from the national government and flexible in its plans and projects.

Among the significant sources of local income of the municipality are the real property and business taxes.

Gregorio said that from Php17.1 million in 2009, Aroroy’s real estate tax revenues more than doubled to Php34.7-million in 2012.

Revenues from business licenses also shot up sevenfold from Php4.0-million in 2008 to over Php28-million in 2012.

The real estate taxes paid by MGP in 2011 to Aroroy alone would already account for 80 percent of the combined real estate taxes paid to all the 20 municipalities under the province of Masbate.

In 2011, business taxes paid by MGP to Aroroy alone would already account for 64 percent of the combined business taxes paid to all the 20 municipalities in the province of Masbate.

“The combined real estate and local business taxes paid by MGP in 2011 to Aroroy alone would already account for 46 percent of the total real estate and business taxes received by the 20 municipalities under the province of Masbate,” Gregorio said.

Meanhwile, the real estate taxes paid by MGP in 2011 to the Provincial Government of Masbate already accounted for 69 percent of the real estate taxes collected by the LGU, he added.

Gregorio said that assuming that the mandated shares of the LGUs from the excise taxes have been remitted to these LGUs, MGP alone should account for the following:

1. Eight percent of the total tax receipts (combination of local taxes and allotments from the national government) of the 20 municipalities of Masbate;

2. Discounting the IRA, the MGP would have accounted for more than a third of the total tax receipts of the municipalities of Masbate;

3. MGP alone should account for 6 percent of the total tax receipts of the provincial government of Masbate; and,

4. Without the IRA, MGP’s local tax payments would have contributed over one-half of the total tax receipts of the provincial government.

“Overall, the fiscal impact of MGP’s regulatory and tax payments has, to a large extent, increased the base of local taxes of the municipalities and the provincial governments,” Gregorio claimed..

All these exclude the social development and management program (SDMP), including information and education campaign, representing the direct contribution of MGP to the eight affected barangays.

From just Php7.65-million in 2009, SMDP payments of MGP had reached over Php15.8-million in 2012, the FRC official disclosed.

Meanwhile, the barangays’ estimated share in excise taxes in 2012 should be about Php33.6-million – from just Php8.6-million in 2009, he added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NBT/CBD/

Soldier on disaster response mission wounded in mine explosion in Sorsogon

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) -- A soldier assigned to a disaster response mission in Sorsogon was wounded after his team stumbled on a mine planted by suspected communist insurgents in Irosin, Sorsogon, around 11.45 a.m. Friday.

Army Col. Cesar M. Idio, commanding officer of the Army’s 903rd Infantry Brigade, said a Disaster Response Team under 1Lt. Carlito A. Carino of the 31st Infantry Battalion, was on board a civilian vehicle to establish a Quick Reaction Team at the Irosin Disaster Risk Reduction Management Operation Center in connection with typhoon "Ruby" when their vehicle hit a land mine set up by New People's Army (NPA) rebels.

“Our men were on their way to the municipality of Irosin, Sorsogon, when their vehicle hit a landmine with an improvised explosive device planted by an undetermined number of NPA members at Barangay Monbon, Irosin, Sorsogon,” Idio said.

He identified the wounded soldier as Pfc. Jerlou B. Diesta.

Diesta was brought immediately to the Irosin District Hospital for treatment and is already out of danger, according to the attending physician, the Army officer said.

“We condemn this barbaric act by the rebels, especially in times of disaster when our troops are conducting humanitarian mission in preparation for typhoon Ruby. But despite the rebels' attack, your soldiers will continue to respond during disasters and lend a hand to our kababayans,” he said.

Idio mobilized additional troops in Sorsogon to help and assist residents during evacuations.

He said the safety of the people of Sorsogon is their primary concern. (PNA) LAM/FGS/RBB/CBD/SGP

500,000 persons to be evacuated in Albay due to threat of 'Ruby'

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) -- About 500,000 individuals will have to be evacuated in Albay province due to the threat of super typhoon "Ruby," the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) disclosed in a meeting Friday morning.

Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda, PDRRMC chairman, said those who will be evacuated are under the threat of flooding, landslides, mud and lahar flows, storm surges and strong winds.

The half-a-million individuals belong to about 128,217 families.

Ruby is seen by officials as like typhoon "Reming" that wrought havoc in 2006 in the Bicol Region, where many died and they are bracing up for Ruby so that no life will be endangered or lost and the zero-casualty goal of the province is achieved.

Salceda estimated that the province will spend Php15 million for the evacuation of affected residents to keep them safe from the onslaught of Ruby.

Meanwhile, during the meeting of the Regional DRRMC at the Office of Civil Defense conference room in Camp Gen. Simeon Ola, local government units have been instructed to prepare already this early for Ruby.

An OCD report said 333 passengers are now stranded at the port of Matnog in Sorsogon going to the provinces of Samar and Leyte.

The Philippine Coast Guard prevented sea vessels to travel, stranding also various vehicles at the port.

OCD Regional Director Raffy Alejandro said the PCG did not the vessels to travel due to the fear of storm surges with estimated heights of about 15 feet.

All other government agencies involved in relief operations are now ready, he said. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

128,217 Albay families face 5 threats if 'Ruby' hits land
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) -- A total of 128,217 families will be evacuated in the province of Albay due to five threats that would be brought by super typhoon "Ruby" if it hits land on Saturday night, according to Governor Joey Sarte Salceda.

The five threats are from floods, strong winds, mud and lahar flows, storm surges and landslides that could occur in the three province's three cities and 15 towns.

Salceda said 40,195 have to be evacuated due to flooding, mostly in the third district of Albay;

Some 32,435 people will have to be moved due to strong winds because their houses are made of light materials; 26,395 families are threatened by mud and lahar flows from Mayon; 19,009 by storm surges and 10,182 due to landslides.

He said the pre-emptive evacuation is effective Friday afternoon.

The provincial chief executive said the evacuation should be completed on or before 8:00 p.m. on Saturday before the province feel the wrath of Ruby.

"There is a need to run from Ruby because we are no match to her strength," Salceda claimed.

He said about 50 percent has already been evacuated or have evacuated on their own and will temporarily stay with relatives or friends who more typhoon-resistant shelters.

Salceda said they are also coordinating with the Catholic Church for the implementation of the private evacuation under its "Project Harong."

He added that the rice support of the province to evacuees is a private evacuation scheme and will be coursed through the Church because of the presence of parish councils in the towns and cities.

The Albay top official said the private evacuation to be implemented by the province this time is the biggest in the history of the province.

He called on all Albayanos to heed the advice of their respective mayors.

Salceda assured that the province is ready to assist the local executives, noting the immediate release of five kilos of rice to every family daily.

In this connection, he asked the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office to buy 12,000 sacks of rice for the evacuated families. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/

Friday, December 5, 2014

DA turns over Php4M for farm-to-market road in Legazpi City
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 4 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol Regional Office turned over Php4 million to Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal during the meeting on Wedesday of the city’s Local Poverty Reduction Action Team (LPRAT) held at the Kanzo Restaurant here.

The check, handed over by DA accounting officer Hernan Elano, is the first tranche of the total Php8-million budget for the construction of a farm-to-market road in Sitio Calawog, Barangay Cagbacong at the southern part of the city.

The funding was given by the DA after the Office of the City Agriculturist submitted a proposal to the LPRAT based on the guidelines of the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) approach being implemented by the national government through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and in partnership with the city government.

Rosal said this budget is a big help for the infrastructure development of the upland portion of Barangay Cagbacong that will benefit the land owners as it will result in possible increases in the value of land in that area.

The city chief executive pointed out that this infrastructure project would hasten the transport of the agricultural products from the barangay and its neighboring villages to the downtown areas of this city and the neighboring town of Castilla, Sorsogon.

He revealed that his administration will invest more in agriculture to make local food abundant and agricultural commodities available and affordable for the daily consumption of the people in the community.

City agriculturist Jesus Kallos disclosed that Sitio Calawog is one of the best area for cacao and other root crops such as camote and cassava that will help improve the livelihood activities of the constituents in the community.

Upon completion of this project, another vacant silted areas will be developed into a 75-hectare rice field that will contribute to an abundant and affordable supply of rice in the market.

Kallos said his office is planning to put up an irrigation system in that area to make sure that there will be sufficient water to be used for farming activities in the village. (PNA) LAM/FGS/EPS/CBD

Albay lifts suspension of classes on Dec. 8-9

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 4 (PNA) -- The head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office said on Thursday that since the Informal Senior Officials Meeting (ISOM) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum has been transferred to Metro Manila, the advisory on suspension of classes in all levels in Albay on Monday and Tuesday is now lifted.

"All the preparations and advisories related to APEC are lifted, but we are monitoring the typhoon, and there will be possible suspension of classes if the typhoon intensifies," APSEMO head Cedric Daep said.

Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda earlier declared the suspension of classes to enable the students from public and private schools to join in welcoming the delegates through rondalla, chorale and dances.

The APEC-ISOM, which is supposedly to be held in Albay on Dec. 8-9, has been moved to Manila because of the expected landfall of typhoon “Hagupit” (local name: Ruby).

The decision to cancel the event in Albay has been announced by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.

Ochoa thanked Salceda for understanding the decision deemed to ensure the safety of at least 400 delegates from 21 member-countries.

"We thank Governor Salceda and the people of Albay for their cooperation and understanding. We are united in ensuring the safety and comfort of all delegates; we are likewise conscious of our abiding obligation to ensure that all steps are taken to prepare for the typhoon," he said in a statement.

In a Facebook post, Salceda said "there is nothing to be blamed because Albay has learned a lot and got exposed to complex challenges in almost a year of preparations. God giveth, God taketh it away. Albay will just move on from this towards new opportunities. No excuses. No blaming. No weeping, we bury our dead and embrace the living. No 'sayang' because we learned a lot and got exposed to complex challenges. Albay is always a winner. No consolation prizes, no 1st runner-up, Albay is Miss Universe," he said in his official Facebook account.

Senior Supt. Marlo Meneses, director of Albay police, said he had ordered more than 1,500 augmentation force members to pull out of their posts at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday.

Since last week, security teams have been deployed in advance to different hotels, tourist destinations, airport and other areas where events were scheduled. (PNA) SCS/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Phivolcs warns of lahar flows in Albay, Sorsogon
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) -- The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned disaster officials and responders to be on guard as re-mobilization of volcanic debris from the slopes of Mounts Mayon in Albay and Bulusan in Sorsogon threatens the communities around them once super typhoon "Ruby" makes landfall on Saturday.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs chief resident volcanologist in Bicol, said during the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council emergency briefing here on Thursday afternoon that lahar flows will hit low-lying areas due to typhoon with heavy-to-intense rainfall.

“Most probably the remnants of the 2006 eruption and in quarrying sites of volcanic debris will cause the re-mobilization of lahar in low lying-areas near Mayon volcano," said Laguerta. "Based on Phivolcs study, a 6-mm-per-hour precipitation could initiate re-mobilization of volcanic materials."

Based on Phivolcs advisory issued at 3:00 p.m. Thursday, lahar flows from the slopes of two most active volcanoes in Bicol is expected to cascade down to low-lying areas once "Ruby" makes landfall on Saturday.

It said typhoon "Ruby" is estimated to bring heavy-to-intense amount of rainfall within its 700-km-diameter coverage area, thus, posing grave threat of extreme rainfall-induced landslides and lahar in volcanic edifices, particularly in Albay and Sorsogon Provinces.

In Albay province, extreme rainfall may trigger landslides and excessive erosion of old pyroclastic deposits in the upper-to-middle slopes of Mayon Volcano, generating lahar in all river drainage.

Potentially, large-magnitude lahar can threaten downstream communities along river channels with inundation, burial and washout.

The greatest lahar hazard can consequently be faced by communities along the Masarawag (Guinobatan), Maninila (Guinobatan), Buyuan-Padang (Legazpi City), Lidong (Sto. Domingo), Mabinit (Legazpi City), Basud (Sto. Domingo), Miisi (Daraga), Anoling (Daraga) and Nabonton (Ligao City) channels.

Furthermore, lahar-related flooding, washout and siltation can subsequently occur along the Yawa River, threatening adjacent and low-lying areas of Legazpi City.

In Sorsogon province, extreme rainfall may cause excessive erosion of existing pyroclastic deposits in the upper slopes of Bulusan Volcano, triggering lahar in rivers draining the southeastern, southwestern and northwestern flanks.

Potential moderate-volume lahar can threaten downstream communities along the Malunoy (Patag), Mapaso, Cadac-an, Tinampo and Cogon Rivers in Irosin and the Añog-Rangas River in Juban.

The Phivolcs strongly recommended vigilance and readiness of communities in pre-determined zones of lahar hazards in the above volcanoes.

Preparedness on clearing and rehabilitation operations is also recommended in the event of debris deposition on roads and bridges that traverse lahar channels.

Similarly, the Phivolcs reiterated the strict implementation of no entry on the declared permanent danger zones in both Mayon and Bulusan volcanoes due to the potentially amplified dangers of rockfalls, avalanches, landslides and steam-driven explosions at the summit area.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Bicol warned disaster officials and responders that with 700 diameter associated with heavy-to-intense precipitation, super typhoon "Ruby" (international name: Hagupit) will be causing massive landslides across the region, storm surges, and flashfloods, thus, re-mobilizing lahar flows from the restive Mayon volcano here.

"We are urging the public to take shelter before 'Ruby' makes landfall on Saturday. We urge sea, air and road travelers to cancel their trips ahead of time for safety,” said Lilian Guillermo, PAGASA Bicol officer-in-charge, before local chief executives of Albay, disaster officials and responders during the emergency meeting presided by Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety Emergency Management Office here.

She said "Ruby" is expected to make a landfall on Saturday in Samar, passes through Sorsogon and the west coast area of Albay province with intense rainfall.

Daep said they will enforce evacuation ahead of time, specifically those people threatened by storm surges in coastal areas of Albay, lahar flows, flash floods and families with light houses materials.

PAGASA officials warned that three-to-four-meter high storm surges might pummel in coastal areas of the Visayas, specifically in Samar and the Bicol Region.

Daep recommended the no-sailing policy of all sea crafts starting Friday. -

The Albay official also urged the mayors to work closely with the barangay officials on the ground.

“Starting tomorrow, there must be no sailing. We need to evacuate ahead of time because we don’t want the repetition of super typhoon 'Reming',” Daep pointed out.

Office of Civil Defense Director and Regional DRRMC chairman Bernardo “Raffy” Alejandro said during the RDRRMC briefing held at the OCD -icol social hall that all disaster officials and responders are on heightened alert.

“The emergency management team is in place and on standby. We have prepositioned 500 bags of rice from NFA with on-going repacking of family food packs,” Alejandro said.

Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda ordered the cancellation of classes Friday to give way for typhoon evacuees.

“Don't go to class unless you are evacuating. We need the classrooms and we have to clear and clean them. Use the time to prepare for a possibly two to three days of seclusion from bad elements. All levels, all areas, all types. Classes are suspended tomorrow (Friday) until lifted,” the governor said in his directive to disaster officials here Thursday.

Salceda also directed employees of the provincial government of Albay not to report to their respective offices, except for disaster response offices here.

“As a matter of policy, government employees in Albay must take care of their family preparations and should therefore not go to work,” he said, adding “But with exception of those directly engaged in disaster response, especially in the AFP, PNP, DOH, OCD in the national government and Provincial Health Office, hospitals, APSEMO, Provicnial General Services Office and Provincial Engineering Office and those units of LGUs as determined by their local government executives; those that requested prior and continuing exemption like the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas."

Salceda said it is understood that these agencies will do their tasks ahead or ask others to do these for them.

"I also strongly persuade the private sector to dismiss their employees after lunch,” the Albay governor said.

In Camarines Sur, Governor Jose Miguel Villafuerte also suspended classes on Friday to accommodate the evacuees in schools that will serve as shelter areas against the wrath of super typhoon "Ruby".

A Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) study showed that half of the Bicol Region is prone to landslides and floods.

Arlene E. Dayao, Geosciences Division officer-in-charge, identified the areas in Albay province susceptible to landslides as 10 towns in Masbate, 14 in Albay, 8 towns in Camarines Norte, 20 in Camarines Sur, 11 in Catanduanes, and 12 in Sorsogon.

The MGB official warned residents in these areas to prepare and evacuate to safer grounds at the onset of the rainy and typhoon season.

This means that more than half of the 114 local government units, seven cities and 107 municipalities in Bicol are under threat of floods and landslides.

In Albay, all of its three cities – Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco – are vulnerable to floods and landslides, the MGB geo-hazard study said.

The flood-prone towns are Bacacay, Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Libon, Malilipot, Malinao, Manito, Oas, Rapu-Rapu, Sto. Domingo, Pio Duran, Polangui and Tiwi.

Manito and the island-town of Rapu-rapu are also landslide-prone areas, the study said.

In Camarines Sur, aside from the city of Naga, 22 of its 35 municipalities are prone to landslides and flooding.

These are Bato, Bombon, Buhi, Bula, Calabanga, Camaligan, Canaman, Caramoan, Garchitorena, Goa, Magarao, Lagonoy, Libmanan, Lupi, Pasacao, Presentacion, Sagnay, Sipocot, Pili, Ocampo, Tigaon and Tinambac.

In Camarines Norte, the towns of Basud, Capalonga, Labo, Mercedez, Paracale, San Lorenzo Ruiz, San Vicente and Sta. Elena in Camarines Norte are susceptible to rain-triggered disasters.

In Sorsogon, the towns faced with the risk of landslides are Bulan, Magallanes, Sta. Magdalena, Matnog, Castilla, Prieto Diaz, Pilar, Donsol; while the towns of Gubat, Casiguran, Irosin, Juban, Bulusan and Barcelona, which are all situated near the foot of Mt. Bulusan, are declared flood-prone areas.

In Catanduanes, prone to landslides and flooding are all of the 11 towns of the island-province: Bagamanoc, Baras, Bato, Caramoran, Gigmoto, San Andres, San Miguel, Pandan, Panganiban, Viga and the capital, Virac.

In Masbate, the gold mining town of Aroroy as well as the municipalities of Baleno, Mandaon, Milagros and Mobo are at risk.

Dayao said residents of the following municipalities should be prepared and evacuate to safer grounds when typhoon or continuous rain in their localities occurs: Bacacay, Libon, Malilipot, Malinao, Manito, Rapu-Rapu, Sto. Domingo and Tiwi and the City of Ligao -- all in Albay.

In Camarines Norte: Basud, Capalonga, Labo, Mercedes, Paracale, San Lorenzo Ruiz, San Vicente, and Sta. Elena; Buhi, Caramoan, Garchitorena, Goa, Lagonoy, Libmanan, Lupi, Pasacao, Presentacion, Sagnay, Sipocot and Tinambac in Camarines Sur; Bagamanoc, Baras, Bato, Caramoran, Gigmoto, Pandan, Panganiban, and San Andres in Catanduanes; Aroroy, Baleno, Mandaon, Milagros, and Mobo in Masbate; and Bulan, Irosin, Juban, Magallanes, Matnog, Sta. Magdalena and Sorsogon City in Sorsogon.

The MGB warned residents in low-lying villages, near river channels and shorelines, as well as mountain slopes to take extra cautious in time of natural disasters, specifically on the onset of rainy season. (PNA) LGI/FGS/RBB/CBD/EDS

Rely on PAGASA for information on typhoon ‘Ruby’, DOST tells public, LGUs

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) regional office for Bicol based here on Friday called on the public and local government units (LGUs) to rely only on the country’s weather bureau for information about “Ruby.”

“The information that our weather bureau, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), provides are now the most reliable with the typhoon’s entry into the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR),” said DOST Regional Ddirector Tomas Briñas.

Once the typhoon is inside the PAR, its position becomes PAGASA’s sensors and observatory equipment, he said.

In the advisory, PAGASA Deputy Administrator Dr. Flaviana Hilario explained that it is important to note that once a storm or typhoon enters the PAR, the information of PAGASA becomes more reliable than those provided by its foreign counterparts because it is able to acquire more observational data from different field stations in the country.

“In fact, foreign warning agencies make use of PAGASA information once the weather disturbance gets within the range (400 kilometer radius) of our meteorological equipment such as radars and automatic weather stations,” she added

DOST Secretary Mario Montejo has been taking the lead in typhoon monitoring at the PAGASA Flood Forecasting and Operations Center since Wednesday, even before "Ruby" entered the PAR.

"“As we had predicted, the typhoon further intensified as it approaches the land mass at a slower pace. This means, we have to prepare as we are faced with a typhoon that brings destructive winds and heavy-to-intense rains within the typhoon’s 300-kilometer radius of uncertainty,” Montejo said.

“It would help a lot if the people, including local government units (LGUs), to take the information we are providing seriously as they prepare. Let us take all the necessary precautions without having to panic,” he added.

Montejo also appealed for an end to sending prank messages on typhoons through SMS or social media.

“If you find it fun, you should realize that the lives and properties of people to be affected by the typhoon are at stake here.” (PNA) LGI/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS

Thursday, December 4, 2014

OCD-5 places Bicol under red alert
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 4 (PNA) -- The Office of Civil Defense-Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has raised its red alert status on typhoon “Ruby” effective Wednesday afternoon, according to OCD Regional Director Raffy Alejandro.

Alejandro said all members of the council are 100-percent focused on the coming typhoon.

With the red alert status, he said, all RDRRMC members are are ready to respond to emergencies with the expected impact of Ruby.

The OCD regional chief said he convened on Wednesday afternoon all the response units under the RDRRMC like the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Public Works and Highways to check on their readiness in terms of manpower and equipment resources.

He advised them to be ready with their respective contingency plans.

Alejandro said they are also prepared to evacuate residents who are living in high risk areas.

He said that based on his meeting with weather officials in Bicol. Ruby will bring strong winds and rains, storm surges, flash floods, erosions and lahar flows, particularly in river channels of the Mayon Volcano.

Based on the the models that the RDRRMC is monitoring, Ruby is expected to hit the region on Saturday, Alejandro said.

He added that 44 provinces will be on the typhoon’s path. (PNA) FFC/FGS/NIM/CBD

Ombudsman suspends PNP chief for 6 months
By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, Dec. 4 (PNA) -- The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) on Thursday ordered a six-month suspension against Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Alan Purisima in connection with the alleged anomalous contract between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and a courier service in 2011.

Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said that the suspension imposed against Purisima will last for a period of six months while he is being investigated.

Rafanan said that Purisima will not receive his salary within a period of six months.

According to the Ombudsman, after receipt of the order, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should immediately implement the suspension against Purisima. (PNA) RMA/PTR/EDS

Albay braces for 'Ruby'
by Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 4, (PNA) -- The Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) on Thursday morning convened the local chief executives (LCEs) and the Association of Barangay Captains in the province to map out preparation and mitigation measures in response to the threats of super typhoon "Ruby."

PDRRMC chair Governor Joey Salceda also directed the LCEs to convene their respective city and municipal DRRMCs to mobilize some communities for evacuation and propositioning of manpower and resources.

In an advisory posted by Salceda in his Facebook page, he said "Don't go to class tomorrow unless you are evacuating. We need the classrooms and we have to clear and clean them. Use the time to prepare for a possibly 2-3 days seclusion from bad elements."

All classes on Friday are suspended until lifted.

The governor also advice middle class and working class families with houses built of strong materials and located in low risk areas to stay home "to make sure you have five kilograms of rice, 15 instant noodles and nine canned goods.

"Don't forget the traditional items in a survival kit, especially flashlight with battery, power bank charger and modest load. Avail of three-day unlimited packages tomorrow," he added.(PNA) FFC/FGS/CBD