Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DA names leading Bicol crops for farmers’ agri-entrepreneurship
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) — Each of the six Bicol provinces has its own signature crops that homegrown farmers can exploit in their agricultural entrepreneurship ventures, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

For Albay, DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas suggested cacao and coconut; pineapple for Camarines Norte; papaya, tomato and high-value fruits and vegetables for Camarines Sur; abaca and mushroom for Catanduanes; cassava for Masbate; and pili for Sorsogon.

Bragas made the suggestion during the recent Entrepreneurship/Salesmanship and Pricing Seminar conducted here by the agency’s regional Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) for farmers, barangay food terminal operators, food processors, officers and members of Rural Improvement Clubs and agricultural extension workers.

He said Albay is Bicol’s leading coconut producer as 95,794 hectares of its 158,262-hectare agricultural land are planted to this crop that should not be good only for copra but also for other processed or manufactured commodities such as industrial coir, virgin oil and natural vinegar.

Coconut coir or geonet, which is manufactured from coconut husk, has an existing total market value of PhP 5 billion and a market potential of PhP 12 billion per year — an earning opportunity that the province’s agricultural sector should take advantage of.

There are now several manufacturing firms, farmers’ organizations and households in the province engaged in this venture that has been turning out very profitable and all that is needed to nurture this industry are more hands that are determined to earn more by trying their luck in entrepreneurship, Bragas said.

Virgin coconut oil, which is processed from pure coconut milk, and natural coconut vinegar or “sukang niyog” that is made from coconut water or from sap or “tuba” through a fermentation process are both products that could be produced at home of community-based processing plants and supplied to its fast-growing market, he said.

On cacao, the DA recently launched a commercial production in the 3rd district of Albay under its “Seeds-to-Shelf” program, a strategy that involves interventions starting from making seeds available to farmers up to the process foods go through before hitting the market.

All around the province is a tropical weather and volcanic soil that is suitable for cacao farming but, unfortunately, this important high-value commercial corps have not been given due importance by farmers in the past, Bragas said.

“For now, we are focusing on cacao in its implementation which was recently rolled out in Jovellar, Albay in partnership with the town government and Rep. Fernando Gonzalez of the province’s third congressional district,” Bragas said.

Gonzalez himself has been pushing local farmers into agri-entrepreneurship as a way to alleviate them from poverty by increasing their earning capabilities.

“Entrepreneurship is one effective way for our farmers to improve their purchasing power, leading to a more progressive economic life for their families. We want to reverse the situation wherein farm folk, the most dominant in number in every rural community are counted as among the poorest sector of the present local society,” he said.

Camarines Norte is among the country’s top producers of Queen or Formosa pineapple, touted as the world’s sweetest variety, which the province produces from its 2,400 hectares of farmland distributed among its 12 municipalities from where an average of 40,000 metric tons of fruits are harvested per cropping cycle of 12 months.

But it is not only the fruit that makes the province’s pineapple famous but also for its leaves, once considered as farm waste but now being processed into fiber that is manufactured into high-end fabrics called “piña cloth.”

With the demand in foreign markets for good piña cloth that can meet the preference of high end consumers, more Camarines Norte farmers are needed to engage in this form of entrepreneurship to satisfy the demand by both the domestic and international markets.

Catanduanes, an island province sitting off the northeastern side of the Bicol Peninsula, has a total of 23,676 hectares of abaca plantations cultivated by 15,454 farmers that produce an average of 19,000 metric tons of fiber yearly representing 33.2 percent of the total national production.

While Catanduanes grows a lot of abaca, Bragas said, the province also needs to make use of its idle farm land in the wide-scale production of mushroom that enjoys a high market demand and high price.

Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), called locally as kamoteng kahoy or balinghoy, is an important crop not only for its value as a substitute staple to rice but also as principal raw material for the manufacture of livestock feeds and industrial uses such as an alternative source of raw material for producing liquor as well as medical and industrial alcohol.

In production, compared to other crops, cassava does not need rigid cultural management and favors the very hot temperature of summer, especially at harvest and drying time -- that is why it is best suited to Masbate, according to Bragas.

He said his office is encouraging the province’s farmers to increase areas planted to cassava while the DA is helping them with the provision of high-yielding varieties, farm mechanization, capability building and market matching.

Camarines Sur, the largest Bicol province in terms of population and land area, on the other hand, has an expansive farm area which can be utilized into the commercial production of high-value vegetables and fruits which local farmers can make use in their entrepreneurship ventures, Bragas said.

Pili nut is the region’s most popular processed food product whose leading source is Sorsogon where pili trees, known as another “tree of life” next to coconut, are grown intensively in farms, plantations and backyard orchards.

Sorsogon pili is known not only for its nuts but the tree is also a source of resin and pili pulp oil, among other byproducts, which farmers can make use of in putting up small enterprises, Bragas said.

“We are providing Bicol farmers with different entrepreneurial skills, such as assessing the demand; sizing up the market; estimating the cost and setting the price; business management; good communication and listening skills; time management; practicing business ethics; and mobilizing financial, human and material resources,” he added. (PNA) SCS/FGS/DOC/CBD

Public school teachers in Bicol to receive performance bonus starting this October—DepEd
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) – The over 35,000 public school teachers in Bicol will start receiving their Performance-Based Bonus (PBB) for this year early next month, the regional office of the Department of Education here on Monday announced.

Each classroom teacher, both in the elementary and secondary levels, will receive starting this Oct. 5 the amount ranging from Php5,000 to Php35,000 based on their performance, DepEd Regional Director Ramon Fiel Abcede on Monday here said.

The DepEd, he said, evaluates and grants the PBB to all its bureaus or delivery units and employees who have worked diligently and have performed well according to their contribution to the achievement of the department’s overall performance targets, which, in turn, will determine the amount to be received.

Abcede said the DepEd regional office has already received the amount from the Department of Budget and Management and it will be distributed upon the completion of requirements that schools division heads should submit prior to the processing.

Only classroom teachers are to receive their PBBs out of this initial release and other DepEd personnel such as non-teaching staff and employees assigned with the regional and division offices are not yet included, he clarified.

The grant is based on Executive Order No. 80 signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III in July 2012, directing the adoption of the Performance-Based Incentive System (PBIS) consists of the Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) and the top-up PBB for government employees.

EO 80 is based on the principle that service delivery by the bureaucracy can be improved by linking personnel incentives to the bureau or delivery unit’s performance, and by recognizing and rewarding exemplary performance to foster teamwork and meritocracy.

On the part of DepEd, a guideline issued by Sec. Armin Luistro says that PBB shall be given to all personnel in accordance with their contribution to the accomplishment of their department’s overall targets and commitments.

To be eligible for PBB, the performance of each agency shall be measured using verifiable and credible indicators based on the pillars of the Results-Based Performance Management System (RPMS) that include Major Final Outputs (MFOs) and Performance Targets as specified in the Organizational Performance Indicators Framework.

Other RPMS pillars are good governance conditions based on the performance drivers of RPMS, namely, financial stewardship, process efficiency, and leadership, learning, and growth.

Once the agency acquires eligibility to PBB, the DepEd guideline says, the delivery units and personnel shall be evaluated according to their performance in the achievement of the agency’s performance targets by the task force assigned to oversee its implementation.

The DepEd, according to Abcede, qualified to the top-up PBB for its personnel this year as it has achieved at least 90 percent of last school year’s targets of each MFO, Support to Operations, and General Administrative Support Services as well as of its priority program/ project targets.

It was also able to satisfy 100 percent of good governance conditions event as those who have qualified from the central office, regional offices, division offices and attached agencies, shall be further evaluated based on the said guidelines and on their individual performance.

As for teaching and non-teaching personnel of the schools, there will be no individual ranking at the school level, thus, the performance category of the school shall determine the level of PBB that each employee will receive.

Furthermore, DepEd employees who are recipients of awards such as the literacy swards and national awards from the Civil Service Commission and Metrobank Foundation last year are guaranteed beneficiaries of the Php35,000 bonus—the highest incentive level of PBB.

On the contrary, employees who received a “Below Satisfactory” rating or who are guilty of administrative and/or criminal charges shall automatically be disqualified from receiving the PBB.

The PBB acts as an incentive in addition to the across-the-board bonus of the Productivity Enhancement Incentive and will not replace any given incentive, Abcede said, adding that it aims to promote excellence and accountability among government employees, thus, providing their best public service. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD

Naga police believe that thieves’ fingerprints can give early solution to crime
By Eduard M. Casulla

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) – With fingerprints as their lead, Naga City Police Office investigators believe that they can easily identify the thieves who on early Monday morning entered the residence of a travel agency owner and carted away Php266,000 worth of jewelry and other personal belongings.

PO1 Clynne Jane Sarmiento, officer on case, said about two or three unidentified persons broke into the house of Florian E. Floriano at Door 5, MMCN Bldg No. 2, Mayon Avenue, Barangay Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City between the hours of 12 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Sarmiento said that while the victim and her family were asleep at the 2nd floor, the unidentified suspect/s entered at the ground floor by climbing over the cemented fence then destroyed the screen cover of the door and the window then reached for the lock of the kitchen’s door.

The suspects then proceeded to the living room where they saw and carried away two wristwatches TM: Techno Marine worth Php 60,000; one wristwatch TM: Philip Stein with red strap worth Php45,000; one pair of diamond heart earrings worth Php 30,000; one Omega necklace chain worth Php 40,000; one white gold Mary/Jesus Pendant worth Php 15,000; one wristwatch TM: G shock color white worth Php 9,000; one gold bangle worth Php 40,000 -- all placed on top of a drawer; and one Samsung 32” LED television worth Php27,000 which was attached to the wall.

Responding investigation and intelligence officers immediately took the fingerprints of the suspects and are now comparing them with their file as they believe that the culprits have already records in their office. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD

Monday, September 28, 2015

DENR rejects power firm’s bid to cut mangrove trees in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 27 (PNA) -- An application filed by a giant power firm for a permit to cut down mangrove trees along the shoreline of Mobo, Masbate has been denied by the regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The application filed by David M. Consunji (DMCI) Power Corp. was for it to be allowed to clear a portion of the shore of Barangay Tugbo of over 50 fully-grown species of the evergreen trees for the construction of a private wharf.

The company currently operates a diesel power plant in the area based on a contract awarded in 2007 by the National Power Corp. (NPC) for the supply of power for 15 years through a Power Supply Agreement with Masbate Electric Cooperative (Maselco).

Grace Cariño, the regional chief of the DENR’s Conservation and Development Division, over the weekend said here that DMCI’s request for a permit to cut down at least 54 mangrove trees was recently denied by her office in favor of preserving these ecologically important coastal resources.

The refusal to grant the request was also consistent with the DENR’s primary mandate of protecting and preserving Bicol region’s already dwindling mangrove forest under its “ridge to reef” initiative geared towards healthy and well-managed river basins and coastal areas where people and nature thrive, Cariño explained.

It is under this initiative that the DENR implemented in Masbate and several other seafront communities in Bicol the Integrated Coastal Resources Management Project (ICRMP) which it considered as one of the government’s most comprehensive biodiversity management programs toward the sustainable management of the marine resources.

Funded with a total amount of Php2.6 billion for its implementation that covered 80 municipalities in seven provinces in the country, the program, which was implemented from 2007 to 2014, was also designed as a poverty alleviation strategy among coastal communities and local fisher folk by providing them greater access to livelihood opportunities.

The ICRMP was implemented in one city and 17 towns of Masbate through a holistic approach premised on the concept that “our coastal and marine resources can only thrive and be sustained if we address threats in the uplands, lowlands and coastal areas,” she said.

It was a joint project of the DENR and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in collaboration with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Municipal Development Fund Office under the Department of Finance.

Well-managed coastal and estuarine ecosystems, Cariño said, support livelihoods and provide income from fisheries and tourism while mangrove forests play a central role in coastal protection and transferring organic matter and energy from the land to marine ecosystems.

Compelling evidence suggests that mangroves play an important role in climate stabilization, possessing carbon storage and sequestration potential considered to be greater than that of tropical forests.

In addition, mangrove forests are nesting and migratory sites for hundreds of bird species, as well as home to a wide variety of reptile, amphibian and mammal species as observed from the ones now existing in Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon and from the Pawa Mangrove Forest Park being maintained by the city government of Masbate, according to Cariño.

She said the DENR cannot allow mangrove forests of the country to continue to be one of the most severely threatened and undervalued ecosystem on earth as they provide a wide variety of ecosystem services currently valued globally at US.6 billion.

An international study says that mangroves are being cleared at an alarming rate and there are numerous threats to these forests, including land development, pollution, deforestation for fuel and climate change.

Establishment of fishponds for aquaculture and industrial development, such as construction of maritime facilities like ports, wharves and other infrastructures, the same study shows, are among the major reasons for the loss of mangroves in the Philippines.

Cariño said the DMCI readily accepted her office decision and vowed to abide by it as the company is opting to an alternative site for the wharf in the same town where no mangroves will be affected.

The establishment of a wharf is said to be part of DMCI’s plan of converting its diesel power plant into a 15-MW coal-fired power facility to bring down the high cost of electricity in the so-called “off-grid” area.

At the same time, putting up coal facilities is expected to reduce the subsidies given to the off-grid areas, whose electricity requirements are being provided by the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) of the NPC, the DMCI said.

These subsidies are, meanwhile, being shouldered by grid-connected consumers in mainland areas through the Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification (UCME), it added.

The plan was to have a coal facility in Masbate that would make the country less dependent on petroleum whose prices are highly volatile, pointing out that one kilowatt of power produced will cost about Php2 when coal is used but roughly about Php10 for diesel.

A 15-MW plant will save the country Php560 million a year, it said.

The proposed Masbate coal plant, however, is being opposed by the provincial legislative board and local civil society groups which they claim will not be good for the environment and the health of Masbateños being, by standard, an obsolete and dirty technology.

They said operating the plant will increase in the ambient or natural temperature in the immediate vicinity, putting at risk the ocean ecosystem, considering the expected wastage during the loading and unloading operation.

The Masbate provincial legislative board has instead challenged DMCI to set up for the province solar or wind energy plants.(PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

Sorsogon’s pols ‘jump ship’ to LP is Escudero’s ploy—Frivaldo’s kin says

SORSOGON CITY, Sept. 27 (PNA) -- The irony on the part of the Liberal Party (LP) is that all its latest recruits in the province of Sorsogon are staunch political followers of Sen. Francis Escudero, Sen. Grace Poe’s declared running mate in the 2016 presidential contest.

“It’s a ploy hatched by Escudero designed to drain LP’s resources in the province for the presidential bid of Mar Roxas into his and Poe’s favor,” former provincial board member Vladimir Frivaldo, a long-been LP member and grandson of the late former Sorsogon governor Juan Frivaldo said.

Obviously, Frivaldo told the Philippines News Agency here Sunday, these people who were taken into LP by its provincial chairman Rep. Deogracias Ramos of the province’s second congressional district will support not Roxas and whoever will the administration party’s vice-presidential bet would be, but the Poe–Escudero tandem.

Ramos himself, Frivaldo said, is a loyal follower of Escudero who in the 2013 elections junked LP’s senatorial bets in favor of Escudero and Poe and betrayed the party’s provincial lineup as he went all-out for candidates of the opposite camp.

Among key political personalities in the province who were recruited by Ramos and have taken their oath as new members of the administration-backed party is Sally Lee, the incumbent mayor of this city and wife of reigning provincial governor Raul Lee.

The Lees supported 2nd district Rep. Evelina Escudero, the senator’s mother in her 2013 candidacy vice her husband Salvador Escudero III who died in 2012 while serving his 16th year as congressman.

Other newcomers to the LP are the Lee couple’s son Robert Rodrigueza who is running in the next polls for governor in lieu of his father, four incumbent Sorsogon town mayors, two vice-mayors, three provincial board members, two town councilors and three prospective local candidates.

The incumbent mayors are Emilio Ubaldo of Matnog, Domingo Halum of Bulusan, Marnellie Robles of Bulan and Benito Doma of Prieto-Diaz; while the vice-mayors are Wilfredo Cielo of Irosin and Salve Ocaya of Donsol and the board members are Joey Guban and Arze Glipo of second district and Rebecca Aquino of the first district.

All these incumbent local officials are Escudero’s benefactors and supporters, making it impossible for them to support the administration ticket in the 2016 polls, Frivaldo said.

Ramos earlier said the incumbent mayors, vice mayors and board members who are new LP members will be the official candidates of the party in their respective areas while the younger Lee will the gubernatorial bet.

Frivaldo, who ran for vice-governor in the 2013 elections but lost to Antonio Escudero Jr. whom Ramos supported, said he had already informed the LP leadership through its acting president, Joseph Emilio Abaya, of this gloomy scenario it is facing in the province.

In his recent letter to Abaya, Frivaldo said, “Mr. Ramos is not yet senile to forget his 2010 elections shameful act when he ran then under the Liberal Party. Actually, Mr. Ramos was simply ordered by Sen. Francis Escudero to recruit several LP candidates, leaders and voters to deceptively shift party support that led to the defeat in 2010 of the vice-presidential candidacy of Roxas in Sorsogon.”

LP should ask directly Ramos now to answer if he could still support the party’s standard bearers in the 2016 presidential elections should Sen. Escudero run as an independent or under other political party for vice-president in tandem with Poe, Frivaldo said.

“During the 2015 Gubat town fiesta and his 50th golden wedding anniversary, Rep. Ramos announced in the gathering that he will resign his LP membership in order to support Sen. Escudero. He also announced that he doesn’t need Liberal Party to win his last term,” he told Abaya in the letter.

Frivaldo, who said he is not running for any elective position in the coming polls, is asking the LP national leadership to rethink the 2010 election acts of Ramos and Sen. Escudero in junking Roxas and to “remember this famous quote, “You fool me once, shame on you. You fool me twice, shame on me”.

The LP, he said, is the second-oldest political party in the Philippines and the oldest continually-active political party in the Philippines led by respected liberal thinkers and pro-development politicians.

“My grandfather, the late Juan Frivaldo, served eight terms as governor of Sorsogon as an original LP official together with Presidents Elpidio Quirino, Diosdado Macapagal and Manuel Roxas and senators Benigno Aquino Jr. and Jovito Salonga, among other loyal party leaders,” he recalled.

Unfortunately, he claimed, the good image of LP is being compromised by the childish action of its current provincial leader in the person of Ramos.

The PNA tried to reach for Ramos' comment to no avail.

“While there is still time, the national leadership should come up with a wise decision to restore the rationality of the party in the province,” he added.(PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

Village anti-drug abuse groups undergo training

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 27 (PNA) -- In line with the nationwide revitalization of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs), various government agencies jointly conducted a seminar-workshop for the BADACs of the 44 villages in Polangui, Albay.

The agencies involved were the local government unit of of Polangui headed by Mayor Cherilie Mella-Sampal, Polangui Municipal Police Station headed by Chief Insp. Joseph Marribay, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Regional Office V.

The seminar-workshop started on Sept. 14 and ended on Sept. 24 with two or more barangays as participants each day.

Members of the PDEA ROV Preventive Education and Community Involvement Team headed by lawyer Teodoro Caparroso discussed topics on drug identification and the penal provisions of the Republic Act 9165 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and shared some tips for citizen’s arrest.

Marribay also imparted ideas on how the BADAC members can assist the law enforcement agencies in clearing their barangays of any drug problems.

The MSWDO gave participants tips on strengthening family ties and empowering families so that they can avoid being involved in any drug problem.

As part of the culminating activity of the seminar-workshop, a random drug test for the employees of the Polangui Municipal Hall was also conducted.

Caparroso said barangays, being the grass-root level of the society, should be empowered against the dangers of illegal drugs.

Seminar-workshops such as these will help them understand their power, duties and responsibilities, not only as BADAC members but also as part of the community.

As BADAC members, they should become more vigilant in protecting and in clearing their barangays of any drug problem, the PDEA ROV legal officer said.(PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/PJN

Gold mining firms turn over 2 school buildings in Masbate’s 3rd district

AROROY, Masbate, Sept. 27 (PNA) -- The Masbate Gold Project (MGP) and Filminera Resources Corp. based here and their key partners -- the local government units, Philippine Army (PA) and Department of Education (DepEd) -- have turned over two two-room school buildings to pre-qualified high schools in Barangays Nabangig in Palanas town and Pawican in Cataingan town, both in the third district of Masbate.

The painted high school buildings have two classrooms each and equipped with comfort rooms, proper lighting system and ceiling fans.

First to be turned over to the school, students, Parents-Teachers Association and village officials on Sept. 9 were the newly-built school building in the Rondina-Atendido National High School in Barangay Nabangig, Palanas.

The turnover ceremony was attended by MGP/FRC officials; high-ranking officers of the PA’s 9th Infantry Division headed Maj. Gen. Yerson Depayso; 903rd Infantry Brigade headed by Col. Caesar M. Idio; 565th Engineering Construction Battalion-51stEngineering Brigade led by 1st Lt. Julius Caizar Licaros; Civil Military Operations Officer Lt. Col. Ericson; 9th Infantry "Sandigan" Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Roel Donato Cayabyab; 1st Lt. Olimer Bermudes Jr., Charlie Company commander; DepEd Masbate headed by Schools Division Superintendent Jose L. Doncillo, CESO VI and Assistant Schools Division Superintendent Raymond Cantonjos; RANHS School Principal Rey B. Atacador, faculty members, students and PTA officials.

The following day, Sept. 10, another turnover ceremony was done at the Pawican National High School in the presence of the same guests and local officials headed by Cataingan Mayor Wilton Kho, Vice Mayor Alfonso Son and PNHS Principal Emiliano S. Bulanon.

The school and village officials appreciated the MGP and FRC for their continued support to the province without seeking anything in return.

Kho also thanked the MGP/FRC and the PA for including Cataingan, his hometown, as one of the recipients of a two-room school building and hoped for more projects to come from the gold mining company.

“The spirit of bayanihan still exists and is a customary attitude among us, Filipinos. The private organization and the government come in common to put this project into reality,“ he added.

For his part, Doncillo said, “It is in this classrooms that the student of the Pawican National High School will enjoy learning and this building will be their intellectual sanctuary for the next years to come.”

He encouraged the principal, faculty and stakeholders to protect the school buildings because this project came not from the government but from a private entity, the MGP.

Doncillo said the MGP is one of the two big contributors in education in the island of Masbate and continuously support the Deped Masbate to provide the answer to the lack of school classrooms.

This project, he said, is actually responding to one critical need to bridge the gap between the number of classrooms and the students, especially that in the year 2016, the Senior High School will be implemented in Pawican National High School.

The PHS, he said, is one of the performing high schools in Masbate that deserves support from willing partners.

Doncillo said there are three critical resources Deped Masbate needs: classrooms, teachers and textbooks/furniture (chairs, tables).

Filminera, he said, has answered the school classroom shortage.

An additional 24 classrooms for a thousand of students will be addressed this coming year wherein Grade 11 was added.

“You feel how Filminera works and assists in our school buildings needs,” the DepEd superintendent stressed.

Ten other similar school building projects of MGP are underway and out of 12 school building units committed by MGP to the nine schools in this province, the two turned over projects are now ready for occupation.

Atacador, the RANHS school principal, extended gratefulness to FRC and appreciated not only the donation but also the quality of materials used in the construction of school buildings.

He said the materials used, such as gravel and black sand, were even imported from Ormoc City in Leyte where hollow blocks made from these materials, if thrown at a kilometer distance, according to him, would not easily break.

Mabelle Grace Casiño, Teacher III of PNHS, said in her opening remarks during the turnover ceremony that the FRC and the members of the military corps shared not only their time and efforts but also their hearts in erecting the two-classroom school building with comfort rooms.

“Their acts are just few of the many manifestations that they have the heart for others, that they do not just have personal care but also they are indeed evidence of being persons for others,” Casiño said.

She added that in the mid of the implementation of the K-12 basic education curriculum, the newly built classrooms will soon become a venue for quality basic education as it accommodates almost 80 students in Grade 8 and Grade 7 who will feel comfortable and happy in those classrooms.

“We are very thankful to Filminera Resources Corp. and to the 565th Engineering Construction Battalion of the Philippine Army,” she stressed.

During the turnover events, the MGP/FRC personnel were led by Community Relations Manager Ramon S. Velasco, Special Project Manager Florencio Cayco and Educational Consultant Joni Soncuya.

In his message, Velasco said the school buildings commitment is part of their Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.

“The school buildings were constructed with the joint efforts of the engineering construction battalion of the Philippine Army for the benefit of quality education for students. This is our meaningful contribution to our rehabilitation efforts following the devastation caused by super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ two years ago,” he explained.

He said the MGP -- through its lead company, B2Gold, based in Vancouver, Canada -- is pleased to have become a key partner for this project.

“We assure that the company, the Masbate Gold Project, being the single biggest investment in Masbate Island, will remain to be your committed partner in development in more years to come,” Velasco stressed.

He also thanked MGP’s partners, such as the RANHS and the PNHS faculty, staff and the students.

He also acknowledged the LGUs, Department of National Defense, DepEd and Barangay Chairwoman Letecia A. Tamayo of Nabangig, Vice Mayor Alfonso Son of Palanas, Senior Insp. Jun Natumban, the chief of police of Palanas, Rev. Fr. Edgar Mamporte, parish priest of Palanas; Rev. Fr. Raymond Rhys A. Garucho, parish vicar of Cataingan; the local and barangay officials and the community who shared their little but meaningful efforts in the success of the school building construction.

Turnover of the symbolic keys was done through the school principals while cutting of ribbons and blessing of schools classrooms were initiated through the towns’ respective officiating priests, Fr. Garucho in Cataingan and Fr. Mamporte of Palanas.(PNA) CTB/FGS/NBT/CBD/PJN

Comelec-Sorsogon holds 11th hour effort to convince voters to validate registration

SORSOGON CITY, Sept. 27 (PNA) -- The Sorsogon provincial office here of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday staged a “last ditch” activity to convince the local electorate to submit themselves to a biometric capture to validate their registration and be able them to vote in the 2016 elections.

Dubbed “Fun Walk and Run: Huling Hirit sa Pag-Validate”, the activity participated in by over a hundred physical fitness buffs, according to assistant election supervisor Renie Daymon, was in line with the poll body’s information drive called “No Biometric, No Vote” which carries a stern message that voters will never be allowed to vote without validating their registration records.

The validation refers to the capturing through an electronic machine of each voter’s biometrics such as photograph, fingerprints and signature for them to be recognized as a duly registered voter and allowed to vote in the forthcoming national and local elections pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 10367.

Signed by President Benigno Aquino on Feb. 15, 2013 to become the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Law, RA 10367 states that voters who do not have biometrics will not be able to vote in the May 9, 2016 local and national polls.

Hence, Daymon said, it has become the policy of the commission as declared under Comelec Resolution No. 9853 to establish a clean, complete, permanent and updated list of voters through the mandatory taking of photograph, fingerprints and signature in the registration process.

At present, the Comelec is holding a registration of new voters and validation of old ones, which was started in May 2014 and to end on Oct. 31.

For the purpose of validation, all previously registered voters without biometrics are required to go to the Local Election Registrar’s Office and have themselves subjected to biometrics capture using the Voter Registration Machine (VRM).

The VRM is simply a desktop computer, with a digital camera, fingerprint scanner and signature pad attached to it and biometrics capture becomes possible with the use of this high-tech equipment.

Daymon stressed that the absence of biometrics in the voter’s registration record will cause Comelec to deactivate the concerned registration records “and when that happens, the concerned voter shall not be allowed to vote in the May 2016 elections”.

In the case of Sorsogon, he said, the province has a total of 409,426 registered voters as of last Aug. 31 and 37,618 of them remained without biometrics data; 135 incomplete; and 371,673 complete.

From this with complete data figure, Daymon said, 56,213 are previously registered voters who have come to their respective Comelec registrar’s offices for validation since the process was started.

Apart from the massive information drive, the Comelec municipal and city offices have also gone into barangays for their satellite registration and validation program that significantly contributed to the achievement of this number, he recalled.

This turnout for the validation is quite good but not yet satisfactory since as much as possible, Daymon said, the Comelec wants a 100-percent result so that all registered voters in the province will be able to cast their votes in the next elections.

“We hope that this fun run awakens the awareness of those who have not complied and finally drive them into presenting themselves to the Comelec field offices where they are registered for the biometric capture which is a very easy process that takes only at least five minutes,” Daymon said.

All they have to do is introduce themselves to the personnel manning the VRM sit in front of the camera for his or her picture to be taken, have his or her fingerprints captured by the scanner and write his or her signature in the signature pad, that’s all, and everything is done, he explained.

Daymon said the Comelec safeguards the integrity and secrecy of the biometric voter registry as he noted that while biometric systems are increasingly being deployed in the developing world with the aim to ensure a fair and efficient electoral process, it is important that countries, such as the Philippines, ensure that such data is properly regulated and safeguarded.

The “Fun Walk and Run: Huling Hirit sa Pag-Validate” event was started with a zumba exercises at the Capitol ground here at 5 a.m Sunday followed by a run/walk event that covered a 3.2-kilometer distance around the city proper.

Participants were local government workers, members of civic organizations, students and individuals who believe that the right to vote is an inherent right and one of the democratic means to choose capable and worthy leaders in our government, Daymon said.

The future of the government, he stressed, rests largely upon the active participation of the public in the cherished democratic right of suffrage and upon the kind of people they elect to public office.

Accordingly, each qualified and registered voter should vote, regardless of his personal dissatisfaction towards the government, so that those elected to public office derive legitimacy and authority from those who are governed, Daymon added.(PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

PDEA-Bicol nets Php3.55-M shabu, bags 5 drug suspects in 3 raids

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 27 (PNA) -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Regional Office V and partner agencies in three provinces of the Bicol Region have arrested five suspects, including a barangay chairman, and seized 1,110 grams of suspected “shabu” worth about Php3.55 million in three separate raids, the agency said in a consolidated report made available Sunday.

The PDEA ROV said that in three occasions, its operatives, in cooperation with other law enforcers, apprehended Ryan C. Santos; Francisco Rivera Jr., Marcelina Rivera and Gemmalyn Rivera; and Richard Andes.

Santos was collared by operatives of the Camarines Sur Provincial Office and the Naga City Police Office Intelligence Section on Friday at Sitio Sagrada Familia, Barangay Peñafrancia, Naga City.

His cohort, Rhyzel Santos, is still at large.

Confiscated during operation were four knot-tied plastic ice wrappers containing white crystalline substance suspected to be shabu weighing more or less 1,000 grams (1 kilo) and has an estimated street value of Php 3 million.

Earlier, the Albay Provincial Office conducted a buy-bust operation in Barangay Doña Tomasa, Guinobatan, Albay, resulting in the arrest of the three Riveras.

Two other suspects, Michael Tayo and Diomedes Rivera, eluded arrest.

Taken from the Riveras were two heat-sealed plastic sachets containing suspected shabu weighing more or less 100 grams which has an estimated street price of Php500,000.

The PDEA Regional Special Enforcement Team also implemented a search warrant operation at Centro B, Barangay Dinapa, Castilla, Sorsogon and handcuffed Richard Andes, chairman of the village.

The Law enforcers found some 10 grams of suspected shabu in Andes.

Director III Bryan B. Babang, PDEA V regional director, commended his agents and the members of Philippine National Police for bringing in high value targets and implementing high impact operations from Camarines Sur, Albay and Sorsogon and confiscation of a large volume of illegal drugs.

The arrested suspects are now facing charges for violations of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Babang said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/SSC

Cops arrest two for illegal firearms in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 26 (PNA) -- Masbate police arrested two persons for illegal possession of firearms.

Elements of Masbate City Police Station, led by Insp. Bryant Tacazon, responded to a complaint against a person for alleged grave threat while carrying a handgun at Barangay Nursery, Masbate City.

They apprehended Jereto T. Montuerto for Violation of RA 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act) at about 7:05 p.m. Thursday for illegal possession of one caliber .38 revolver without serial number.

Upon verification, the suspect failed to present the necessary documents for the possession or control of the firearm.

Montuerto is now facing a criminal complaint for violation of RA 10591 before the Office of City Prosecutor, Masbate City through inquest proceeding docketed under NPS No. V-04-INQ-15I-01039.

On the same night at 8:05 p.m., elements of Placer MPS, led by Sr. Insp. Carlos Estonilo Jr. were conducting “Oplan Bakal Sita” at Mary Gold Restaurant and Videoke Bar located at Barangay Katipunan, Placer, Masbate when they chanced upon and arrested Joseph M. Coneconde.

Coneconde a fisherman, had in his possession one caliber .357 without serial number, six live ammunition for the same caliber and one color black holster without pertinent documents.

Upon verification, the suspect failed to present the necessary documents for carrying the firearm.

Members of the different police offices and stations in the Bicol Region have intensified their presence in the communities following orders from their new regional police director.

Earlier on Thursday, police Chief Supt. Augusto Marquez, the new chief of the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office, said patrolling and crime investigation efforts are the two marching orders he received from the PNP hierarchy, which he also gave his men.

Marquez, an Albayano from Camalig town, said he would step up the police patrol beat system which, according to him, is a national program in crime prevention.

Following the guidance from Police Director General Ricardo Marquez, PNP chief, he said only five percent of the police force in Bicol will do desk work while 95 percent will be working on the streets, patrolling and conducting investigation.(PNA) RMA/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

60 CSO members train on monitoring, evaluation of BuB projects
By Irene A. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 26 (PNA) – Sixty members of different civil society organizations in the second district of Albay are now prepared to monitor and evaluate projects implemented under the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB) program of the government.

This, after the CSO members, mostly members of the Local Poverty Reduction Action Team of the local government units in the district, underwent a four-day Rollout Training on BuB Citizen’s Monitoring and Evaluation on Sept. 22-25.

The activity was in line with the Bottom-Up Budgeting Capacity Development Program of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

It was conducted by the DILG Albay Provincial Office headed by Olivio D. Ramirez, OIC-provincial director, and the 2nd district cluster head Elmer C. Pecson.

On the first day, the participants had orientation, lectures and focus group discussions at the Bicol Greenleaf Grill here.

On the following two days, the group conducted field visit/praticum and interviews with stakeholders of the BuB projects in their respective LGU areas.

The last day was devoted to evaluation and consolidation of reports.

Lending assistance and knowledge to the seminar participants were cluster heads Rebecca O. Britanico, Jocelyn A. Belen and Pecson.

Also present were Marlene Magayanes, DILG community organizer, and Zurima C. Baldeo, DILG BuB focal person.

During the project monitoring, the Legazpi City participants visited ten BuB projects in the villages of Cagbacong, Homapon, Mariawa, Taysan, Dapdap, Rizal, Victory Village and Bitano.

Residents in areas visited by the monitoring trainees were one in welcoming the presence of a monitoring team.

“With the presence of a monitoring team, ghost projects are now things of the past,” they said.

They added that they now know the specific sources of the project funds.

Concepcion O. Quiñones of Barangay Mariawa, a beneficiary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, said absence of money for her daily needs used to be her frequent headache.

After learning how to make powder soap and dish washing liquid, however, she now has a daily income with the use of the starter kit given to them after the training.

Each of them, 120 participants in all, who were trained by the Entrepinay Legazpi Chapter on powder soap making and dishwashing liquid received materials good for 20 kilos of finish products.

Magayanes said the BuB program is an innovative budgeting process anchored on the people’s participation that leads to transparent and effective governance.

BuB projects are those chosen by citizens and local government units based on real and identified needs.

The program is changing how citizens engage their government, Magayanes said.

The DILG community organizer said that from being just beneficiaries of government programs, citizens are now empowered to choose projects that will be implemented in their communities.

“BuB also facilitated more meaningful devolution by giving more resources to local governments on the condition that they demonstrate a capacity to implement development projects and comply with governance conditions,” she said. (PNA) RMA/FGS/IAS/CBD/ssc

PNP-Bicol bags 10 wanted persons in past 2 days

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 26 (PNA) -- Philippine National Police Bicol officers arrested 10 most wanted persons, including three in the top ten municipal most wanted persons list, on Thursday and Friday.

Arrested were Gabriel S. Palma, Agapita S. Registrado, Rex J. Nacario, Cale N. Pacio, Cris B. Perico, Eduardo V. Corral, Angelito G. Rabago, Carlo B. Beleny, Alvin M. Warde and Michael B. Aragon.

Palma, 18 and No. 1 Municipal Most Wanted Person (MMWP) of Calabanga Municipal Police Station (MPS) in Camarines Sur, was arrested at Barangay Banjo East, Tanauan City, Batangas.

Elements of Calabanga MPS led by SPO1 Cecilio Lopez collared him by virtue of a Warrant of Arrest (WOA) for murder issued by Pedro M. Redoña, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 63, Calabanga, Camarines Sur, docketed under Criminal Case (CC) No. RTC 1415-2248 with no bail recommended.

Registrado, 85, was the No. 10 MMWP of Bula MPS for violation of PD 705 issued a WOA on March 20, 2012 by Marvel C. Clavecila, presiding judge of RTC Branch 33, Pili, Camarines Sur, docketed under CC No. P-4607 with bail fixed at Php40,000.

Joint elements of the Pasacao MPS, Camarines Sur Criminal Investigation and Detection Team and 22nd CAA of the Philippine Army arrested Nacario at Barangay Odicon, Pasacao, Camarines Sur, for murder on order of Pablo C. Formaran, presiding judge of RTC Branch 21, Naga City, docketed under CC No. 2015 -0471 with bail of Php200,000.

Combined members of the Bato MPS led by SPO2 Wilgea M Idlisan and Camarines Sur CIDT led by SPO2 Clifford De Jesus arrested Pacio for direct assault as ordered by Soliman M. Santos Jr., presiding judge of 9th MCTC Nabua-Bato, Nabua Camarines Sur.

Perico was apprehended by Presentacion MPS led by SPO4 Jaime D. Pequiras Jr. for attempted rape on order of Noel Paulite, presiding judge of RTC Branch 30, San Jose, Camarines Sur, with bail fixed at Php24,000.

Operatives of the Libmanan MPS led by PO3 Edgar Mulleda arrested Corral for attempted homicide with a WOA issued by Antonio G. Cereno, presiding judge of 3rd MCTC Libmanan-Cabusao, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, with bail fixed at Php12,000.

Pamplona MPS personnel collared Rabago for qualified theft on order of Leo L. Intia, presiding judge of RTC Br. 27, Naga City, with no bail recommended.

Elements of Labo MPS led by PO3 Roberto B. Quilas Jr. caught Beleny for reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries and damage to property with an WOA issued by Salvador C. Villarosa Jr., presiding judge of MTC, Labo, Camarines Norte, with a bail fixed at Php10,000.

Warde, the No.7 Most Wanted Person of Ibaan, Batangas, was handcuffed on Thursday by Pilar MPS Barangay Ginablan, Pilar, Sorsogon.

Joint forces of the Pilar MPS led by PO3 Erwin Lumaban and Ibaan, Batangas MPS led by PO3 Enrico Faral arrested the accused for theft on order of Rosemarie J. Manalang-Austria of RTC Br. 87, Batangas, with bail fixed at Php36,000.

On Friday, Legazpi City police cornered Aragon at the Legazpi Public Market in Barangay Bitano for violation of Sec. 15, Art. II of RA 9165 issued as ordered by Edgar L. Armes, presiding judge of RTC Br. 4, Legazpi City, with a bail fixed at Php60,000.(PNA) RMA/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

Woman shot dead by suspected NPA rebels

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 25 (PNA) -- A housewife was killed by suspected New People’s Army members in the presence of her husband and three companions at Barangay Valparaiso, San Fernando, Masbate allegedly for refusing to be their community organizer.

Victim Meriam J. Capsa was with her husband Ariesto and three other aboard a passenger motorcycle going to Barangay Poblacion, San Jacinto, Masbate when upon reaching Barangay Valparaiso, San Fernando, they heard multiple gunshots from unidentified persons clad in military uniform and armed with long firearms, prompting them to stop.

More or less five persons approached Ariesto, forcibly grabbed him from the motorcycle, tied his hands and instructed him to lie facing the ground.

Afterwards,he heard five gun shots and the unidentified suspects immediately fled towards the mountainous part of the village.

Moments later, responding village volunteer security men arrived and discovered the lifeless body of Meriam.

Ariesto said that since 2013, NPA rebels operating in Ticao Island had been dropping by their house and convincing his wife to be one of their community organizers.

The San Fernando MPS is still conducting an in-depth investigation for the possible identification and apprehension of the suspects. (PNA) RMA/FGS/EMC/CBD/rsm

Bicol police net 7 wanted persons in past 2 days

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 25 (PNA) -- Elements of the Philippine National Police in Bicol arrested seven wanted persons -- five of them in Masbate, one in Camarines Sur and the other one in Camarines Norte -- in the past two days.

Arrested in Masbate on Wednesday were Alano S. Francisco, Ryan P. Vicente, Jeza P. Azares and a 17-year-old girl, while nabbed on Thursday was Glenda R. Alvarez.

Abdon T. Aborquez was served a warrant of arrest (WOA) on Wednesday at the Tinangis Jail and Penal Farm, Tinangis, Pili, Camarines Sur while Ricardo E. Delos Santos was collared at the LTO Daet District Office, Maharlika Highway, Barangay Pamorangon, Daet, Camarines Norte.

Joint operatives of the Mandaon Municipal Police Station (MPS) and Masbate Criminal Investigation and Detection Team arrested Francisco by virtue of a WOA docketed under Criminal Case (CC) No. 16880 for frustrated murder issued by Judge Manuel L Sese of the Regional Trial Court Branch 45, Masbate City dated Dec. 9, 2014 with PHP200,000 bail recommended.

Vicente, wanted for qualified theft, was caught by elements of Masbate CPS at Sitio Matungao, Barangay Tugbo, Masbate City also by order of Sese who slapped him a bail of PHP80,000.

The same police unit apprehended Azares at Barangay Nursery, Masbate City for violation of Section 12, Art. II of RA 9165 with a WOA also issued by Sese dated Sept. 18, 2015 with PHP10,000 bail recommended.

At Barangay Kalipay, also in Masbate City, MCPS personnel arrested the teen-aged girl for violation of RA 10591, or Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, on order of Sese with PHP10,000 bail recommended.

Aborquez, wanted for rape, was issued a WOA by Cecilia R. Borja-Soler, presiding judge of RTC Branch 29, Libmanan, Camarines Sur dated May 13, 2011 with no bail recommended.

Meanwhile, Daet MPS bagged Delos Santos, a vehicle insurance agent, by virtue of a WOA issued by Judge Rene M. De La Cruz of Municipal Trial Court of Daet, Camarines Norte dated Sept. 21, 2015 for estafa with PHP12,000 bail recommended.

Alvarez was picked up by Milagros, Masbate police at 8:45 a.m. Thursday at Barangay Bacolod, Milagros, Masbate on order of Judge Jose C. Fortuno of RTC Branch 48, Masbate City for the crime of child physical abuse with PHP80,000 bail recommended and for violation of Article 257 of the Revised Penal Code (unintentional abortion) issued by Judge Rolando G. Sandigan of MTCC, Masbate City, docketed under CC No. 14800 with a bail of PHP10,000.(PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

Police file murder case vs 2 suspects in officer’s killing

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 25 (PNA) -- The Irosin Municipal Police Station on Wednesday filed a murder case at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Sorsogon against two suspects in the killing of one of its men.

PO2 Roque G. Añonuevo Jr., IMPS intelligence operative and a resident of Barangay San Juan, Irosin, was gunned down by three suspected New People’s Army rebels on May 19 in Barangay Gabao, Irosin, Sorsogon.

Añonuevo was shot dead while verifying a report on the presence of armed men in the village.

The IMPS has identified Mario Hamto and Randy G. Llonoza as two of the three suspects after a thorough investigation of the killing.

The case against the two was docketed under NPS No. V-13-INV-15I-4144 dated Sept. 23, 2015.(PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

Friday, September 25, 2015

New Bicol police chief stresses patrolling, crime investigation efforts as key to crime prevention

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA) -- The new chief of the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office on Thursday morning said patrolling and crime investigation efforts are the two marching orders he received from the PNP hierarchy, which he also gave his men.

Police Chief Supt. Augusto Marquez, an Albayano from Camalig town, said he would step up the police patrol beat system which, according to him, is a national program in crime prevention.

Following the guidance from Police Director General Ricardo Marquez, PNP chief, Marquez said only five percent of the police force in Bicol will do desk work while 95 percent will be working on the streets, patrolling and conducting investigation.

In a press conference after taking over the Bicol regional police office top post in a simple ceremony at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here, he explained that if police are out on the streets, criminal elements would have second thoughts in committing misdemeanors.

Marquez stressed that patrolling is a basic crime-deterring measure that when efficiently adopted would bring down criminality to a manageable level.

Another police program that he would like to underscore is the conduct of investigation by police operatives.

Marquez said he expects police investigators to make follow-up on pending cases, whether they are sensational or not.

“I would like to see results and I would personally ask them what has happened to the case,” he added.

The Bicol top police official warned police investigators that he will not hesitate to suspend and dismiss them from the service if found to be remiss in their duty.

He said as part of the police investigation program, he will also introduce in Bicol the new “e-Blotter” system, an investigation computer network that will link police stations in the regions, provinces, towns and cities.

“I personally designed this computer system that will store data gathered from various police investigation networks across the country to a central data bank,” he disclosed.

The police patrol system, investigation protocols and e-Blotter system are programs under the Lambat Sibat, a nationwide PNP crime operation strategy that is a brainchild program of the PNP chief, he said.

Marquez is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Batch 84.

As a young police officer he was assigned as Legazpi City police chief in the early 1990s, later moved to Cebu City as its police head, then assigned in various positions at Camp Crame.(PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD

Albay adopts multi-sectoral approach vs TB, HIV
By Mike de la Rama and Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept.24 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government of Albay has created a multi-sectoral alliance to stop the spread of tuberculosis and human immuno virus (HIV).

As first step, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay approved on Tuesday an ordinance entitled “An Ordinance Creating and Constituting the Albay Tuberculosis (TB) Program Provincial Multi-Sectoral Alliance (PMSA) to Unify Efforts Towards Improving TB Case Finding and Case Detection in the Province, and Appropriating Funds Thereof” in the hope of alleviating the rising number of TB sufferers in the Province of Albay and prevent the rise of such cases.

In the ordinance authored by Board Member Herbert S. Borja, committee on health chair, it is stated that tuberculosis remains a major public health problem where the Philippines ranks ninth among the 22 high burden countries, and that TB is the sixth leading cause of mortality in the country with 26,588 deaths and mortality rate of 31.2 per 100,000 population.

As such, Borja noted in the ordinance that the persistence of TB requires a renewed call for increased efforts to control such disease, hence, the creation of the PMSA.

The ordinance also states that the PMSA will serve as the coordinating body for public-private sector partnerships and advise the provincial government on the implementation of the policies and strategies, civil society groups and private sector.

The main roles, functions of the PMSA involves: 1) To identify and establish the roles and responsibilities of the partners and program of the partners in the organization and delivery of TB care as per National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTP) guidelines; 2) To coordinate the different sectors involved in the NTP implementation and ensure that the NTP policies and the Directly Observed Treatment Short course (DOTS) strategy are implemented, thereby ensuring a case detection rate of at least 90 percent and a treatment success rate of 90 percent, and; 3) To ensure that efforts and resources are generated and geared towards achieving the goal of having a community where TB is no longer a public health problem.

Heading the PMSA will be the governor or his duly authorized representative, while a core team from the Provincial Health Office shall serve as the secretariat.

The recommendation of the Albay AIDS Council is a collaborative approach to TB and HIV prevention and control.

Included in the lined advocacy program for implementation is the establishment and strengthening of the mechanisms for delivering integrated TB and HIV services; setting up and strengthening a coordinating body for collaborative TB/HIV activities functional at all levels; determining HIV prevalence among TB patients and TB prevalence among people living with HIV; carrying out joint TB/HIV planning to integrate the delivery of TB and HIV services; monitoring and evaluating collaborative TB/HIV activities; and reducing the burden of TB in people living with HIV and initiate early antiretroviral therapy (the Three I’s for HIV/TB).

The Department of Health Bicol regional office region strongly believes that partnership between national government agencies and local government units is important to intensify TB case-finding and ensure high quality antituberculosis treatment.

To reduce the burden of HIV in patients with presumptive and diagnosed TB, the Albay AIDS Council also suggests to provide HIV testing and counseling to patients with presumptive and diagnosed TB, provide co-trimoxazole preventive therapy for TB patients living with HIV, ensure HIV prevention interventions, treatment and care for TB patients living with HIV and provide antiretroviral therapy for TB patients living with HIV.

One of the functions of the TB-HIV Collaborative Committee is to formulate guidelines on the establishment of cross referral mechanism between NTP and NASPCP to provide access for TB-HIV services. (PNA) FPV/FGS/MDR/CBD

US-based disaster education advocacy outfit mulls network expansion in PHL
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA) –- Impressed by the performance of its extension program in Bicol, the disaster education network of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is exploring the possibility of expanding its coverage all across the Philippines.

The first-ever and so far the only official member of the USDA Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) in the country was launched here in 2010 and made operational by the Bicol University (BU) under its Extension Service Center.

EDEN, which links various disciplines in extending research-based information and learning opportunities -- from food safety to field safety, from physical to psychological safety, from government to community development through disaster messaging and information, was introduced to BU by Dr. Caroline Crocoll, a professor from the USDA.

It happened during Crocoll’s visit in April 2010 when she came as BU’s resource speaker on Disaster Education and Messaging.

EDEN-Bicol was then conceptualized and was formally launched in July 29, 2010 to pull together almost all government and non-government agencies, hoping to reduce the impact of disaster in the communities since the region located in the southernmost part of Luzon is often visited by typhoons and heavy monsoons, among other form of natural calamities.

Since then, Bicol-EDEN has been US EDEN’s network in working collaboratively with the region towards having an institutional approach, giving rise to a national network that is now mutually beneficial to both US and Philippines through sharing of education resources and researches aimed at reducing the impact of natural and man-made disasters.

Owing to its commendable performance in accomplishing the task as member, EDEN voted in October 2012 to extend a three-year full membership to BU.

In choosing BU as a member outside US and voting for its membership extension, the Network recognized the university as “a public institution in Legazpi City which includes disaster education in its extension program”.

BU, with main campuses in this city recognized as Bicol’s center of education, is the premier higher education institution in the region.

It is the oldest state-owned higher education institution in the region which has been on the lead in producing globally competitive graduates imbued with the highly held values of scholarship, leadership, character and service toward generating and disseminating new knowledge and technologies beneficial to all stakeholders and to improve the well-being of the community.

Historically, EDEN membership has been available only to those institutions in the US and its territories that provide outreach through extension, offering non-formal education at the local level to reduce through education the impact of disasters.

According to BU president Arnulfo Macariñas, the university’s extension is similar to the EDEN extension service in the US.

The US EDEN, he added, is a collaboration of the various extension services to improve the nation’s ability to mitigate, prepare, prevent, respond, and recover from disasters by providing disaster education resources delivered through the Land Grant University System and is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

In an earlier statement, its chair, Rick Atterberry, said that “with this international membership, EDEN remains faithful to its roots while expanding its reach and expertise. Offering a three-year membership to Bicol University Extension gives us an opportunity to check the realities of international membership.”

Atterberry, who is a marketing and communications specialist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, also noted that the advantages of extending membership to qualifying international institutions run in both directions.

“Traditional and international members gain access to additional research, new perspectives on understanding disaster, and contact with university-based and field-based experts from other countries, expanded reach, and potential new funding opportunities,” he added.

And as the three-year membership extension given to BU nears its end this October, EDEN representatives from US, along with Department of Agriculture (DA) officials in Manila, came to BU over the week as part of an evaluation towards the possibility of expanding EDEN-Bicol to EDEN-Philippines.

As a start, the team had a meeting with the BU officials and city mayor Noel Rosal about the project and to provide technical assistance in developing its framework and shared their best practices and experiences to be able to craft strategies on how to better improve the network and make it more efficient in serving the needs of the communities, according to Macariñas.

Beverly Samuel, the national program leader of the USDA who was in the team, explained that the mission of EDEN is to share educational resources to reduce the impact of natural and man-made disasters carried out through interdisciplinary and multi-state research and education programs addressing disaster mitigation, preparation, response and recovery.

It also provides linkages with state and local agencies and organizations, anticipates future disaster education needs and facilitate timely and prompt communications for the delivery of credible and reliable information that meets audience needs, Samuel said.

She revealed that the ongoing collaborative work of EDEN’s Disaster Issues Community of Practice provides the best of extension's research-based, interdisciplinary, educational resources to help people prepare for or recover from natural or man-made disasters affecting their communities, families, farms or businesses.

Its focus area, on the other hand, is agro-security wherein the community of interest includes producers of agricultural commodities, the animal health care industry, food and commodity processors, suppliers and distributors, consumers and the agencies that have responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of the country's food industry from farm to table, according to Samuel.

Another focus area is floods, wherein individuals, communities, elected leaders, agencies concerned and those that provide assistance to affected communities can access valuable information on all phases of flooding -- from preparedness, mitigation, response or recovery, she added.(PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Burias Pass coastal communities to benefit from PHL-Italy funded ecological program
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) –- Fisherfolk communities along the coastlines of Burias Pass are the target beneficiaries of a coastal resource management undertaking funded under the Philippines-Italy Debt for Development Swap Program, according to officials involved in its implementation.

Now on its initial stage of operation, the program is being carried out through a partnership among the office of Albay 3rd district Rep. Fernando Gonzalez, local governments covering beneficiary barangays, Bicol Consortium for Development Initiative (BCDI) and Social Action Center of the diocese of the city.

Gonzalez’s representation includes the entire Albay west coast section composed of Ligao City and the municipalities of Oas, Pioduran and Libon where 12 barangays are covered by the program.

Other areas chosen as project sites are 12 more barangays along the coastlines of Claveria and San Pascual at Burias Island of Masbate and Donsol and Pilar of Sorsogon province.

BCDI, on the other hand, is a multi-agency collaboration that addresses the need to establish a strong health research and development coordination system involving various institutions in Bicol with interest in health research towards the improvement of the health conditions of Bicolanos.

SAC-Legazpi is a church-based organization for social services aimed at improving the conditions of the poor by way of addressing their social, cultural, economic and political needs based on thrust to serve the deprived and the oppressed, especially women and children, in the province of Albay.

Called the “Partnership for the Sustainable Management of Municipal Waters in Burias Pass, Bicol Region for the Benefit of the Disadvantaged Sector”, the program was recently launched in Barangay Catburawan, Ligao City through a signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) among the involved parties.

Bicol University (BU) president and BCDI chair Arnulfo Macariñas on Wednesday said the program is designed to improve the living conditions of coastal communities along Burias Pass and increase the quality of its marine resources.

According to Macariñas, this new program looks like an extension of the World Bank-funded Community-Based Resource Management Project (CBRMP) introduced in Bicol way back in 1998 and implemented for five years in an effort to address the region’s high levels of environmental degradation and poverty.

As in CBRMP, Macariñas said, the Burias Pass program aims to enhance the capacity of local government units (LGUs) and communities to plan, implement and sustain high-priority marine resource management projects.

Burias Pass is an inland sea that separates Burias Island from the mainland of Bicol.

It covers an area of 414,244 hectares serving as fishing ground for a total population of 93,943 coastal villagers, 41.4 percent of them languishing in poverty as reported last year by the National Statistics Coordination Board of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The area, along with its adjoining water of Ticao Pass, is being proposed, through a bill recently filed in Congress by Gonzalez, as a protected seascape to become a site of harmonious interaction of man and ocean while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through the recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle and economic activities it offers.

According to the Greenpeace Southeast Asia, an independent global campaigning organization that among other environmental activism, challenges wasteful and destructive fishing activities and creating a global network of marine reserves, both water bodies are being overfished and devoid of more sustainable coastal resource management initiatives.

Gonzalez has expressed high optimism that his Burias-Ticao Pass Protected Seascape bill will soon be enacted by the Lower House and Senate, knowing that the area it covers is a promising tourism hot spot in line with the national government's drive to create multi-faceted tourist destinations.

Part of the new marine resources management program, Macariñas said, is the preservation of Burias Pass’ marine resources through an intensified enforcement of anti-illegal fishing policies under a Community-Based Monitoring and Enforcement System (CBMES), which is now in place along coastal barangays of Ligao City and neighboring areas.

The Ligao CBMES is being handled by a group of lawmen organized and being maintained as “sea wardens” by the city government and supported by the office of Gonzalez.

It is composed of Philippine Army soldiers, militiamen, police operatives, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) enforcers and deputized local government personnel.

Macariñas said that through the CBMES, whose area of jurisdiction will cover the entire Burias Pass, it is expected that incidence of abusive commercial fishing and illegal activities in the area would be significantly abated, if not totally eradicated, through the program whose implementation period is five years starting this year.

It also targets to rehabilitate 100 hectares each of mangrove sites and near shore forests so that by the end of its second year, at least over half of these are already rehabilitated, he said.

The community life improvement component of the program, Macariñas said, involves the provisions of stable potable water supply and sustainable livelihood opportunities for its beneficiaries.

Within this year, he said, the program would directly benefit a total of 3,740 marginal fishermen while over 10,000 villagers representing nearly 4,000 households would be its indirect beneficiaries.

“All we need here is a strong partnership among stakeholders to intensify the coastal resource management efforts and achieve sustainable development for the improvement of the economic condition of our fisherfolk communities,” he added. (PNA) LAP/BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

(News Feature)DILG to widen use in Bicol of barangay performance measuring tool
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) – The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is rolling out in Bicol the use of a more effective system of measuring the performance of barangays in various fields of governance like administration, social services and environmental concerns.

Tested effective in barangays of the municipality of Sta. Magdalena, Sorsogon following its preliminary implementation in the region, the Enhanced Barangay Governance Performance Management System (EBGMPS) will now be used regionwide, DILG Regional Director Eloisa Pastor on Wednesday here said.

She described EBGPMS as an electronic software conversion of manually-operated Barangay Governance Performance Management System (BGFMS) introduced during his tenure by the late former DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo.

It comes now as a powerful tool that determines the level of compliance of barangays in various service areas through a scoring system processed electronically, Pastor said.

Results of this self-assessment, she said, served the barangays as a guide in coming up with plausible and responsive performance appraisal, particularly on identified areas of governance with gaps and deficiencies.

With the EBGPMS, it would be easier for the barangays to accomplish the Data Capture Form (DCF) owing to the automatically-generated score card that facilitated the preparation of their narrative reports, the DILG regional chief noted.

The BGPMS was introduced by Robredo and adopted by the DILG to serve as the basis for the national government and policymakers in formulating policy that would rationalize assistance to barangays and, on the other hand, raise awareness of the barangay officials on their state or level of performance.

Involved in this level of performance are benchmark information generated necessary for the preparation of plans and budget as well as crucial in the assessment of their skills and training needs; and identified presence or absence of services and facilities which serve as guide in enhancing the delivery of services to their constituents.

Another inclusion in the performance assessment is the level of promotion of transparency and accountability in barangay through compliance to laws and other issuances.

The system, according to Pastor, also serves as a tool that appraises the city or municipal government of the present state or level of performance of its component barangays and, thus, be guided in the formulation of integrated policies, plans and programs that will lead to the efficient delivery of basic services and effective discharge of its functions and responsibilities.

At the same time, it provides the city and municipal government with vital data or inputs in the accomplishments of the data requirements of their own LGPMS, she said.

Also introduced by Robredo, the LGPMS serves as a robust on-line national information system on local governments by way of generating information that are useful in policy and program development, both at the local and national government levels.

As an assessment tool, the system has the ability to assess performance and state of development using sets of questions or indicators that enable self-assessment among local government units (LGUs) since respondents are local government officials and functionaries themselves.

LGPMS is also a survey tool with the main purpose of gathering raw data from LGUs with the analysis done manually—meaning no artificial intelligence is integrated in the system for a particular survey and purpose.

“This opens a venue where other required data of the DILG or of other national government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Tourism (DOT), which are not covered by the LGPMS indicators, can be gathered through the system’s web-database,” Pastor said.

Other national government agencies, development institutions, investors, non-government organizations, the academe and the general public also use the LGPMS to facilitate research and the pulling of information about local governments as inputs to development studies, policy or project development.

The strength of the LGPMS is that, it is capable of creating sub-systems to customize the data capture and reporting functionalities in organizing the flow of information between local governments and specific national government agencies.

Since it is web-based, the exchange of information is faster and accessible 24/7 and as the process implies, the LGPMS can be used as a common platform of national government agencies in generating performance information on local governments, Pastor said.

It also features a convergence wherein the DOH and DOT converge with the DILG in making the system a common platform on local government information.

As such, Pastor explained, the LGU Scorecard on Health of the DOH and the Local Tourism Statistics of the DOT are both integrated to LGPMS as sub-systems to generate crucial information particular to health and tourism which can be used for planning and investment programming.

Through convergence, other national government agencies need not develop a separate system which may cause disjointed efforts in collecting and processing of performance information of local governments.

More importantly, the convergence harnesses the expertise of various agencies in providing a performance management tool for local governments, she said.

In introducing the system, Pastor quoted Roberedo as saying that “identifying and monitoring of appropriate measures are important to determine whether we are successful in our initiatives or not. What is more important is not what we have done but the impact that we have created in the lives of the Filipinos. We see LGPMS as a system that can help boost the performance of local governments.”

Pastor said her office is now in the process of preparing Bicol barangays in the use of EBGPMS, starting with the island-province of Catanduanes where barangay chairmen, secretaries, treasurers and chairs of the barangay councils’ appropriation committees are undergoing training on its applications.

The training is to equip these officials with the knowledge in the system’s operation, after which, the project will start immediately, she added. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD

DSWD-Bicol Listahanan finishes household assessment
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol regional office announced on Wednesday the completion of the second round of household assessment in the region under its Listahanan or National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia said 1,056,722 households were assessed out of the 1,087,720 target for the Bicol Region.

The result of the assessment per province is as follows: Albay, 244,245; Camarines Norte, 107,549; Camarines Sur, 339,860; Catanduanes, 47,682; Masbate, 166,790; and Sorsogon, 150,596 households.

“This does not include households visited but have no qualified respondents, no respondent, or vacant at the time of visit,” Garcia clarified.

Meanwhile, he said, households not assessed during the regular enumeration shall be given a chance to appeal and be assessed during the validation.

This will be scheduled in October until November before the finalization of the database.

It is in validation phase where the initial list of poor is posted in strategic places in the barangays to let the community validate the list since they know more their neighbors.

A Local Verification Committee (LVC) will be organized to resolve complaints and appeal received during the validation period.

The members of the LVC will include the local chief executive, municipal social welfare and development officer, municipal planning and development officer, civil society organization representative and the Listahanan area supervisor.

Queries, appeals and complaints will be entertained five days after posting of the initial list of poor and will last for 15 days, while resolving of complaints will be conducted in 20 days.

The agency encourages everyone to participate in the upcoming validation of poor households before it finalizes the list.

“The validation is our mechanism to minimize the inclusion and exclusion error of the Proxy Means Test (PMT), that is why we need the involvement of the community because this phase is very crucial,“ said Garcia.

The PMT is a statistical model that approximates family income based on the observable and verifiable non-income indicators of the family’s income.

It has been found to be a good way of targeting in large the informal sectors where actual incomes are difficult to be verified.

It has been proven to be an effective targeting mechanism in countries like Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico where the informal labor market is large.

Moreover, inclusion error refers to the error when a non-poor family was classified as poor whereas exclusion error happens when a true poor household was classified as non-poor using the PMT. (PNA) FFC/FGS/CBD

3 teachers, tricycle driver hurt in Camarines Norte road mishap

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) -– Three teachers and the driver of the tricycle they were riding were injured in an accident Monday morning at the corner of Dasco and Bautista streets, Barangay Kalamunding, Labo, Camarines Norte.

A police report on Wednesday identified the victims as Ludylin T. Bardon, Angel Carillo, Norma R. Campita and tricycle driver Rafael A. Soterio who all sustained injuries and rushed to the Labo District Hospital in the town.

Initial investigation conducted by the police said the tricycle was traveling along Bautista Street from Barangay Fundado going to downtown Labo and upon reaching the intersection at the place of incident, a bus driven by Rolly V. Talento accidentally sideswiped the right rear portion of the tricycle.

As a result, the victims sustained head and body injuries. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

DTI-5 partners with EU-funded food safety project
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA)--- The Department of Trade and Industry Bicol regional office has collaborated with the European Union (EU)-funded Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) Project 3 to provide technical knowledge on food safety laws and standards among the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and government employees serving the food and drug sectors of the region.

The TRTA Project 3 organized the “Training and Workshop on Food Safety and Regulation for Region 5 in partnership with the Department of Health–Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA), DTI Bureau of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise Development and the Department of Agriculture (DA) Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Over 30 food micro-entrepreneurs attended the recent three-day training to get information in obtaining the FDA-issued licenses to Operate and Certificates of Product Registration as a step towards enhancing marketability of their products.

Other participants were from the government sector, which included the sanitary inspectors of the local government units and the account officers on food of the DTI-Bicol.

DTI-5 Regional Director Jocelyn L.B. Blanco stressed the need for local food enterprises to shape up and meet the challenges that the ASEAN integration brings by achieving increased competitiveness in terms of compliance with the Food Safety Law of 2013.

Resource speakers from the BFAR, TRTA 3, GS1 Philippines and the Small Business Corp. covered relevant topics, including the rules and regulations for the country’s fisheries sector, the benefits of applying the value chain framework and traceability, the importance of the bar coding system and the financing packages that are available for MSMEs.

The training is seen to increase the number of FDA- and BFAR-licensed enterprises throughout Region 5.

The DTI encouraged the participants to acquire the necessary FDA licenses as these will serve as their entry tickets to trade fairs which will give them access to bigger markets. (PNA) LAP/BNB/FGS/CBD

Huge waterjet vessel starts serving Catanduanes passengers, tourists
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA) – Sailing time between ports serving as jumping boards between the island-province of Catanduanes and the Bicol mainland is now shorter by two hours.

This comes true as the new passenger ferry -- a waterjet propulsion catamaran-type fast craft boat touted to be the largest, fastest and most modern in the country today embarked on its maiden voyage Sunday.

From the usual four hours on board propeller-driven roll-on, roll-off vessels, this newest addition to the sea transport service facilities of the island separated from Albay and Camarines Sur by Maqueda Bay negotiates the route in just two hours.

It leaves the port of Virac, Catanduanes’ provincial capital daily at 9:30 a.m. and arrives at the port of Tabaco City, Albay at 11:30 a.m. then sails back to the island at 12:30 p.m. to reach the San Andres port at 2:00 p.m., the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) regional office here on Tuesday said.

Cost of accommodation, however, is twice the price of the roro vessel as the new boat charges each passenger Php450 for the Virac-Tabaco trip and Php395 for San Andres-Tabaco, except when they are senior citizens, disabled, students and young children who are given 20 to 50 percent discounts.

Operated by the Cardinal Shipping Lines (CSL) owned by businessman Carlito Tariman, a native of Bato, Catanduanes, the new passenger vessel is registered with the regional office for Bicol here of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) under the name Silangan Express.

Marine propulsion systems, it said, provide speed across a wide variety of commercial, military and workboat applications for its rugged durability to withstand the most brutal conditions imaginable at speeds of up to 35 knots.

The Australian-built Silangan Express 1 was acquired recently by Tariman’s firm from Seodong Maritime Company Ltd., a Korean-based shipping outfit, MARINA records show.

In its application for a Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) for the new boat filed with the MARINA, CSL said, its entry into the local ferry industry emanates from its aspiration to offer an innovative means of sea transport for the people of Catanduanes as well as to tourists and visitors coming in and out of the island-province.

According to the PPA, an average of 16,000 passengers—a considerable number of them tourists and visitors -- take ferry boats serving the Tabaco City-Catanduanes route monthly.

CSL also invoked Republic Act 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act of 2015 that prohibits, among others, anti-competitive agreements to promote Filipino entrepreneurships and 9295, otherwise known as the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004 which encourages private capital to invest in the local shipping industry.

The CPC was granted by the MARINA late last week, marking a new era of modern marine transport industry in the island-province that boasts of an exotic surfing spots sitting amid the backdrop of scintillating coves and rolling hills and marvelous off-the-beaten path ecotourism attractions.

The boat is a double aluminum-hulled passenger craft powered by twin water jet engines which, according to the MARINA, works basically like the external combustion engines of jet planes.

MARINA explained that water jet is a boat propelled by a jet of water ejected from the back of the craft.

Unlike a propeller-driven sea craft, a jet boat draws the water from under its hull into a pump inside then powerfully expels it through a nozzle at the stern that pushes it forward in high velocity.

Steering of the boat, on the other hand, is accomplished by moving this exhaust nozzle to either side or less commonly, by small gates on either side that deflect the jetstream, according to MARINA.

“The entry of this new shipping company will be a big boost to the travel industry of the island,” said Department of Tourism Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla.

She said tourist arrivals in the island have been steadily increasing owing to the Catanduanes provincial government’s aggressive engagement in local tourism promotion through digital marketing strategies using online sites and news publications featuring the province’s innovative travel industry products.

It is also influenced by the travel market trend showing that tourists, particularly foreigners, do not tend to repeat a local destination as they follow a cycle leading them from one place to another.

“Tourists are now finding the island-province as an alternative destination whose attractions are rare, natural and not yet highly commercialized,” she said.

During the second quarter of this year alone, the DOT regional chief said, the province received 53,424 arrivals, showing an increase of 15.18 percent compared to the same period last year. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

DepEd-Bicol readies incoming senior high school students for early registration this October
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA) – The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Education has set out a Career Guidance Program (CGP) for incoming Senior High School (SHS) students that will guide them on their career path in time for the national early registration for Grade 10 completers this October.

DepEd Regional Director Ramon Fiel Abcede on Monday said the CGP will assist Grade 10 students make informed choices regarding their preferred SHS track when they enter Grade 11 in school-year 2016-2017, the scheduled takeoff of the six-year high school program under the K-12 curricula.

The SHS is the additional two years in high school curriculum designed for the specialization of students, depending on the occupation or career track they wish to pursue with the intention of providing them time to consolidate acquired academic skills and competencies in preparation to college.

In the CGP, the DepEd wants its students to be aware of the importance of choosing a track that suits their interest while, at the same time, matches the available resources as well as job opportunities that await them, he explained.

The four major tracks in the SHS program are Academic, Technical-Vocational Livelihood, Sports, and Arts and Design, which will help prepare graduates for higher education, entrepreneurship and further middle skills development or work.

Bicol, according to Abcede, is now ready for the SHS as his office has already oriented school officials, organized the implementation teams, launched advocacy programs, conducted consultative conferences, coordinated with other government agencies, benchmarked pilot implementers, formulated action plans and strengthened the CGP.

These are all the most salient points that are needed prior to the start of the implementation of the new program, Abcede said, as he stressed that his office is seriously concerned about laying the grounds for the smooth transition that will usher in significant changes in the educational system not only in the region but also the whole country, in general.

As specified in Department Order 41 series of 2015 issued by Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Abcede said, one of the activities of the CGP is the discussion of the Career Guidance Manual containing three modules to be conducted by the class adviser during the homeroom guidance class.

The DepEd regional chief described Module 1 “Embarking on a Journey of Self-Discovery” as about the learner’s discovery of who they are in terms of likes, values, skills, and interests.

Module 2 “Examining the Destinations”, he said, informs the learner of the possible resources they may use in realizing their dreams through the different SHS tracks while Module 3 “Charting Your Own Course” focuses on improving the decision-making skills of the learner and integrates his/her self-awareness in choosing the SHS track that suits him/her.

The activities under CGP will culminate in the Career Guidance Week set this coming Oct. 12-16, during which schools are directed to intensify the awareness campaign through career fairs and orientation seminars on the SHS program.

DepEd local officials will also discuss with the parents the SHS program through the Parent-Teacher Conference scheduled on Oct. 17.

Upon culmination of the CGP, Abcede said the National Early Registration Day will be conducted on Oct. 19-23 to ensure that incoming students are enrolled when the SHS is implemented next school year.

DepEd division offices, he said, will also conduct a division-wide career guidance activities to cater to Grade 10 students enrolled in private schools and to high school graduates prior to the full implementation of the of K-12 Program.

The career guidance is also open to the passers of the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) and the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test for the junior high school level, Abcede said.

Based on the Electronic Basic Information System (EBEIS) of the DepEd on current enrollment and cohort survival rate in the region, he said, the projected SHS enrollment is 427,975 and 69,825 for School Year 2016-2017,and 437,247 and 74,850 for School Year 2017-2018 in both public and private schools, respectively.

Of this projected enrollment, Abcede admitted that there would be inadequacy in schools to fully absorb the learners who will enroll in Grades 11 when the SHS program opens.

An absorptive capacity survey of the public and private schools, he said, revealed that not all high schools in the region will have the capacity to offer SHS.

"In fact, among the region’s public high schools, only 452 or 70.73 percent of the 639 schools have expressed willingness to offer SHS. For private schools, 130 or 69.14 percent of the 188 schools will offer SHS", he said.

This means that of the 218,703 learners projected to enroll in public SHS by School Year 2016-2017, existing high schools can only handle 178,727 learners, which is equivalent to only 81.72 percent.

So, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Technical, Vocational Institutions should accommodate 39,976 students or 18.27 percent of the total projected enrollment, Abcede said.

For private schools that have a projected enrollment of 40,887, the absorptive capacity of private HEIs is 34,438 or 84.20 percent.

The remaining 6,449 will have to be accommodated also, he added.

Because of this, Abcede added that his office is also strengthening the advocacy campaign throughout the region in order to encourage more schools to offer SHS. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD

For alleged failure to pay revolutionary tax, NPA men burn firm's heavy equipment in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA) -- For allegedly failing to pay revolutionary tax, New People’s Army (NPA) members on early Monday morning set on fire four heavy equipment of a company at its construction site in a village in Mandaon town, Masbate, a police officer said Tuesday.

Police Senior Insp. Malu Calubaquib, Philippine National Police (PNP) Bicol spokesperson, said a group of 50 communist dissidents raided at about 4 a.m. Monday the equipment compound of the Hi-Tone Construction and Development Corp. in Barangay (village) Tagpu, Mandaon town.

The construction firm is reportedly owned by Legazpi City-based businessman Elizaldy Co.

The communist rebels burned two dump trucks, a backhoe and a truck cement mixer of the construction firm by pouring gasoline and setting these on fire.

The police report could not yet determine the cost of damage brought by the incident and could not say if there were employees at the site when the raid took place, Calubaquib said.

She said the heavy equipment were being used in constructing a barangay road in the vicinity of barangays Alas and Tagpu in Mandaon town.

Police investigators theorized that the motive for the attack was the failure of the construction firm to pay extortion money demanded by the rebels. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD/EBP

Legazpi City to put up wastewater treatment facility before yearend
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA) -- The city government will construct a comprehensive septic tank and wastewater treatment facility before the year ends at the northern portion of Barangay Banquerohan, Mayor Noel E. Rosal said in an interview on Tuesday.

The project is in compliance with Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 2004, P.D. 198 or the Water District Law, PD 856 or the Sanitation Code of the Philippines and the RA 7160 or the Local Government.

Local government units (LGUs) are mandated to pursue a policy for the protection and preservation of marine waters.

Rosal said this kind of project will serve as an effective tool in promoting environmental strategies in order to protect water resources and to prevent water from any contamination and pollution from the wastes of septic tanks.

With this project, the city administration will require all households, subdivisions, business establishments and government offices, among others, to have their own septic tanks with water-tight, no leaching compartment, appropriately sized and must be located at least 25 meters from any well and contain access port for de-sludging, he added.

Through this project, the city chief executive said his administration will also require all septic tank owners to dislodge their individual septic tanks every three to five years and the wastes removed from these tanks should be transported to the Legazpi City Septic Tank.

Rosal said all the sludge and septage collected from the septic tanks will undergo process using this wastewater treatment facility.

The treated waste will be deposited to the nearby sanitary landfill or maybe applied to agricultural and forest lands as an organic fertilizer and or soil conditioner to facilitate nutrient transport and increase water retention.

Based on the study of the City Planning Office, this Comprehensive Septage and Wastewater Treatment Facility will be funded by multi-lateral agencies with an estimated cost of PHP40 million.

Once the project becomes operational, the Sangguniang Panlunsod will enact an ordinance for its proper implementation.

The city administration will make an option for the operation of this project whether its management will be handled under the Private-Public Partnership Scheme (PPP) that can provide good-quality service by the Legazpi City Water District or it will be spearheaded by the city government. (PNA) FFC/BNB/FGS/EPS/CBD/EDS

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ligao City joins International Coastal Cleanup Day observance
By Danny O. Calleja

LIGAO CITY, Sept. 21 (PNA) -– Hundreds of volunteers on Saturday participated in the 30th International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day.

Close to 300 participants collected tons of marine debris dumped in the waters of Burias Pass into the coastline of three barangays in the city.

The volunteers collected nearly three tons of ocean garbage along the shorelines of Barangays Cabarian, Catburawan and Maonon during the day-long cleanup drive organized by the city government, city mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua told the Philippines News Agency on Monday.

These three barangays, covering 8.4 kilometers of shoreline, are the only ones within the coastal territory of the city along Burias Pass, a rich fishing ground that separates the Albay west coast area from Burias Island of Masbate.

The volunteers were composed of students, young professionals, government employees, members of civic organizations, policemen and women, military personnel and locals who joined the city government in the international observance that comes yearly every 3rd Saturday of September, Alsua said.

The city government’s participation was part of its dedication to the improvement of beaches, coastal sites and surrounding areas of the locality aimed at engaging people to remove trash and debris from beaches, change their behaviors that cause sea pollution and aid in improved solid waste management undertakings, she stressed.

The ICC is the world's largest volunteer effort for ocean's health that mobilizes each year thousands and thousands of volunteers from around the globe into clearing tons of trash from coastlines, rivers and lakes.

It also educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean leading to the protection and conservation of its wildlife for the future generations.

The Philippines officially joined the ICC in 1994 through the initiative of the International Marinelife Alliance (IMA), an environmental non-government organization funded by the United States Assistance for International Development.

In 2006, ICC Philippines, a volunteer group headed by then Vice President of IMA, Commodore Gerry Reyes, was created to assume coordination of ICC nationwide, and in 2012, the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary was designated as its co-national coordinator.

What makes the ICC unique, aside from the simultaneous and coordinated global execution, is the emphasis on organized scientific data collection wherein volunteers are requested not only to pick up trash but also to count every item collected and record in a standardized data card, according to Alsua.

Through the data collected from the annual cleanup, innovations to develop materials, manufacturing processes and products that will interrupt the cycle of pollution are being made.

Alsua explained that "the maintenance of clean coastlines is vital since the ocean supplies much of the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink—meaning, no matter where people live, their lives depends on the ocean."

According to ICC Philippines, “the health of our ocean directly affects us and our ability to manage impacts on the ocean will make a critical difference in sustaining the resources and ecosystems that we need to thrive.”

"Indeed, without effective engineering and policy interventions -- combined with citizen action -- that break the chain of marine debris, ocean trash will continue to be out of control, and the impacts on wildlife, on our economy and on human health will only get worse," it added.

Alsua said she wanted the ocean cleanup in the city to become not only a one-day activity as “we want our communities to become an epitome of love for our environment.”

Rep. Fernando Gonzalez of Albay’s 3rd congressional district covering this city and the entire west coast section of the province said that while local residents and concerned agencies have been initiating moves showing care of the municipal waters, a bill he filed in Congress seeking the declaration of the Ticao-Burias Pass as a protected seascape is gaining support from various sectors.

“There is indeed an urgent need for the Burias-Ticao Pass to be declared a protected seascape to save and preserve its great marine diversity threatened by unabated illegal activities and other abuses,” Gonzalez said.

These waters are home to whale sharks, manta rays, dugong and various kinds of sea turtles, and lately discovered to be a habitat of the globally rare megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) that are all considered endangered marine species, he said.

While awaiting the enactment of the bill into a law, which will classify the twin waters as a Marine Protected Area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, Gonzalez said, the city and its adjoining municipalities are serving as a united front that aims to put an end to abusive use of local marine resources and revitalize its coastal environment.

Alsua said that on the part of the city, whose municipal water is approximately 126 square-kilometers in expanse, a marine ecology enhancement program reinforced with a “we-mean-business” anti-illegal fishing campaign is entrenched.

The program, started in 2006, has established fish and marine reserves with an aggregate total area of 135 hectares off the coastlines of the three barangays and an aquasilviculture project along with a 62-hectare mangrove forest that now boasts of nearly 500,000 healthy growing trees.

It has also put in place a coral reef rehabilitation and seagrass protection program that now provide for coral regeneration and protection to fish biodiversity, resulting in increased fish catch for local fishermen, she added. (PNA) LAP/BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD/