Monday, December 28, 2015

Bicol cops nab 3 wanted men

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 28 (PNA) -– Units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol arrested three wanted persons in Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur during the past two days.

Apprehended were Carlos D. Liagoso, Bienvenido P. Maraño andf Fredie O. Panday.

Elements of the Paracale Municipal Police Station cornered Liagoso, a gold panner, at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Purok Masagana, Barangay Palanas, Paracale, Camarines Norte by virtue of a warrant of arrest (WOA) for violation of RA 7942 (Illegal Mining Exploration) issued by Judge Roberto A. Escaro of the Regional Trial Court Branch 38, Daet, Camarines Norte with a bail of PHP25,000.

A day earlier on Saturday, operatives of the Del Gallego Municipal Police Station collared Maraño and Panday at Zone 1, Barangay Sinuknipan, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur at 10:30 a.m.

The police officers served the WOAs issued by Manuel G. Salumbides, presiding judge of RTC Branch 56, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, dated July 10, 2015 against the two for qualified theft docketed under Criminal Case No. L-5680, with a bail of PHP16,000. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

Bicol fails to meet zero score in firecracker victims as DOH lists 24 patients

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH)'s campaign for a zero-casualty goal in terms of firecracker injuries did not work out in the Bicol Region after it registered 24 cases during the period Dec. 21-Dec. 26.

A DOH report on Saturday said Albay topped the list with 16 cases; followed by Camarines Sur, 6, and Masbate, with only 2.

No casualty was reported in the provinces of Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes.

The victims of firecracker-related injuries were mostly minors (67 percent), with “piccolo” as the leading injury-causing firecracker.

The DOH records indicated that there were 89 cases of firecracker injuries last year while there were 93 cases in 2013.

Doctor Evi Sarmiento, DOH Bicol Action Paputok Injury Reduction (APIR) program coordinator, said in a phone interview that the number of injuries for this initial period slightly increased as compared to 21 cases reported at the same period last year.

Sarmiento lamented that the campaign would have made it if only the ban on firecrackers had been strictly enforced.

She said piccolo and the watusi firecrackers have been banned in the market but despite this, the products are still being sold, especially in sari-sari stores across the region.

These types of firecrackers are commonly bought by minors who are the usual victims of firecracker injuries, the DOH official said.

She even cited a 9-year-old boy from Pili, Camarines Sur who was rushed and confined on Thursday at the Bicol Medical Center in Naga City after suffering from a serious wound at his back due to a piccolo blast.

Sarmiento said the zero-casualty campaign could have been met, had the firecracker ban been strictly enforced by the police and the local government units.

She said LGUs can totally enforce the total ban on the sale of firecrackers in their locality.

Since the majority of victims are minors, Sarmiento asked parents and teachers to teach their children alternative ways in celebrating the holiday season without the use of firecrackers.(PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/pjn

(Yearender) Organic agriculture key to Bicol’s sterling achievements in rice production
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Dec. 28 (PNA) – Year 2015 saw Bicol maintaining its dramatic feat in sustainable farming first noticed in 2013 when the region was cited as the country’s top organic rice producer.

Sustainable agriculture, more popularly known as organic farming, is an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that last over the long term.

It provides or secure human with safe and nutritious food, enhances the quality of environment based upon which the agricultural economy relies and makes efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources that are integrated into natural biological cycles and conditions.

The system also makes farm operations economically viable and enhances the quality of life of farmers and the community or society as a whole and the success achieved by Bicol in this field is part of the Aquino administration’s implementation of Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act (OAA) of 2010.

The region’s adoption of organic agriculture based on the OAA -- which aims to enrich soil fertility, reduce pollution and farming’s environmental destruction, prevent natural resources depletion, save on imported fertilizer, and protect the health of farmers and consumers alike -- has been a proven approach for increasing productivity and income.

Indeed, the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bicol regional office gave this year more attention to the region’s organic farming communities from where the country owes around 74 percent of its organic rice production.

According DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas, Bicol also contributed 44 percent to the country’s overall production of other organic crops owing to their expansion of organic farming with the Php6-million upland farming project that boosts the region’s hefty contribution.

Under this project, the region’s organically-produced upland rice was further developed for its market potential as some of these traditional strains have been reported to outperform some modern rice varieties.

The advantage of these traditional varieties is in higher grain production and drought tolerance which has become a critical trait amid the prevailing climate change threats.

Upland rice varieties generally have an average yield of only one to two metric tons per hectare, but selected Bicol varieties which the DA projects use in reviving vast upland rice farms in the region exceed such yield average.

Based on a report of the International Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Bicol had 63,699 hectares of upland farms, some of it rendered idle by unfavorable weather conditions and pest in the past.

DA’s development of the region’s upland rice is very timely as these varieties have the potential to withstand higher temperature and less water supply which is needed amid the threatening climate condition.

Upland rice production is ideal since it can make up for any shortfalls in flood-prone lowland irrigated areas.

This is specifically during wet season cropping when flooding in lowland prevails.

Hence, uplands are now rice production frontier in Bicol showing improved yield through enhanced varieties and cultural management practices that suit the soil, climatic and social conditions.

The DA started it all from its establishing in 2012 of a technology demonstration farm in the nearby Bula town from where the agency took off with its project for the revitalization of organic agriculture in the region.

Established within the vast agricultural property that the Pecuaria Development Cooperative Inc. (PDCI) is tending in Barangay Lapigna, Bula, the one-hectare demo farm has been planted to organic and aromatic rice varieties called JM2 and Basmati.

The experimental farm located within the 800-hectare Pecuaria Rice Central also grows traditional varieties such as RC 160 and RC 18.

RC 160 is a high-yielding variety developed by the Central Luzon State University while the MS 16 (Maligaya Special), which has good eating quality, is from the PhilRice.

Since then, until now, the project has made PDCI the leading single producer of organic rice in Bicol and among the five certified organic collaborators chosen by the DA nationwide for the Development of National Organic Rice Seed Production Systems with Informal Sector.

The seeds produced from this techno demo farm is being procured by the DA and distributed as starter seeds to farmers engaged in organic rice production.

The project is one of the DA’s programs and projects for the promotion of sustainable agriculture.

“This is a model farm that demonstrates the unity of Bicolano farmers evidenced by the success of PDCI towards the region’s commendable rate of rice production,” Bragas said.

DA’s revitalization of organic agriculture in Bicol and the entire country is part of the Aquino administration’s National Rice Program being implemented for increased production towards rice-self sufficiency of the country and more income for Filipino farmers to liberate them from the bondage of poverty.

Apart from the PDCI organic agriculture demo farm, a four-hectare rice farm established in Barangay Binanuanan Sur here by Carmela Cervantes, a faculty-researcher at the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture, is another feather added to the cap of the region’s organic farming initiative.

The farm certified by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines is now a popular destination of people who want to learn and adopt organic farm systems serving as a laboratory cum training farm showcasing sustainable agriculture through natural farming technologies.

The farm keeps a collection of 20 traditional rice cultivars which is being mass-produced and using modern rice varieties like RC 18 and NSIC 222 which they found to perform well under organic production systems that give them average yield of 100 cavans of palay per hectare.

It also produces organic seeds which are made available other organic rice farmers in the province. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD

Monday, December 21, 2015

Smart offers communication support to 'Nona'-hit LGUs in Bicol
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 17 (PNA) -- Residents of villages in Bicol, especially in Sorsogon and Masbate, hit by Typhoon "Nona" may reconnect with their loved ones through the free calling and charging services made available by PLDT mobile subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. (Smart).

The "Libreng Tawag" services via Smart Satellite (SmartSAT) and “Libreng Charging” stations are currently available in LPMC Office, Rizal St., Sorsogon City. Smart will also set up free calling stations in some areas in Catarman, Samar where 90 percent of the population is affected by Nona.

The Samar Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office is coordinating response and rescue efforts via SmartSAT.

In anticipation of the typhoon, Smart has prepositioned communications support for the use of local government units for emergency response efforts. It also deployed mobile phone and SmartSAT units to Alagang Kapatid Foundation of its sister company, TV5.

The telco provided SmartSAT to the Department of Social Welfare and Development to facilitate faster coordination of relief efforts, and extended communications assistance to the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office before Typhoon Nona made its landfall in Sorsogon.

Recognizing communications as an important form of relief, Smart has been consistent in immediately providing free calls and charging services during disasters.

Furthermore, as part of the Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team (RETT) formed by the Office of Civil Defense, Smart has made a commitment to make available emergency communication links to help government and humanitarian agencies assess the needs of survivors and coordinate with each other better for more effective relief efforts to affected communities. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/eds

PNP-Masbate police offices conduct simultaneous gun muzzle-taping
By Norman B. Tamar

CAMP BONNY SERRANO, Masbate City, Dec. 17 (PNA) -- The Masbate Provincial Police Office (MPPO) here under Police Senior Supt. Prexy Dugas Tanggawohn has warned his men in the different offices and stations of the organization not to violate his strict order of muzzle-taping their service firearms.

Tanggawohn said Thursday that he initiated the move to prevent his men from indiscriminate firing during Christmas and New Year revelries.

He personally led the activity after the flag-raising ceremonies held on Monday at the MPPO headquarters and police stations in the 20 towns and one city of Masbate.

Tanggawohn said this is in compliance with the directive from higher headquarters to make sure that improper use of firearms will be avoided in the upcoming celebrations.

The activity also supports the MPPO campaign on zero casualty this Christmas and New Year holidays.

Tanggawohn said policemen who will be caught firing indiscriminately will face appropriate charges or dismissal from police service.

He also warned gun owners not to engage in indiscriminate firing to avoid untoward incidents. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NBT/cbd/eds

'Nona' leaves 1 dead, 5 injured in Masbate
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE CITY, Dec. 17 (PNA) -- One person died in Mandaon town and five others were injured in various parts of Masbate province during the onslaught of Typhoon "Nona", a report of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) said Thursday.

The PDRRMO estimated damages of Php2.1 million in infrastructure, particularly in Burias Island.

At least 229 houses were totally damaged -- 224 in San Pascual, Burias Island and five in Balud town -- rendering 1,145 individuals homeless.

Partially damaged abodes numbered 627, involving 3,135 persons.

Also affected were 43,397 individuals inside evacuation centers and 31,087 outside these temporary shelters, the PDRRMO said.

About 43 persons got stranded in Cataingan port as the Philippine Coast Guard did not allow them to travel to Cebu.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development distributed 100 sacks of rice to the towns of Aroroy, Balud, Cawayan and Milagros and 50 sacks of rice in the municipalities of San Fernando and Batuan.

The PDDRRMO report said local government units shelled out relief goods in Balud with 16,000 food packs; Cataingan, 8,600 food packs; Milagros, 777 food packs; and Mobo, 46,050 -- at Php150 per food pack.

The provincial government of Masbate also gave out relief goods consisting of 69 boxes of corned beef and 33 boxes of sardines in the towns of Aroroy, Balud, Cawayan, Milagros; and 34 boxes of corned beef and 16 boxes of sardines in Batuan and San Fernando towns.

Although there are no longer rains and winds, only a few areas have electric power restored.

The absence of Smart and Globe telecommunications signals in some parts of the province still poses a problem.

Operations of sea vessels have been back since Wednesday while classes at all levels from elementary to college have been resumed. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NBT/cbd/eds

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

LGU-operated terminal income grows to more than 150 percent
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Dec. 15 (PNA) -- The gross income generated from the operation of the Central Bus Terminal (CBT) in Naga City has ballooned to 150 percent, or to Php40 million from the highest income from lease of Php16 million in one year a private operator gave the local government unit here.

Francisco Mendoza, acting manager of the CBT since the Naga local government unit (LGU) took over the CBT operations in January 2014, estimated that of the present gross income generated, a net income of at least Php30 million is earned after deducting about Php10 million operational and administrative expenses.

“It’s a far cry from the Php16 million that the Naga LGU earned from the yearly payment received from the FPM Corp. that had operated the government-owned CBT for nine years,” Mendoza said.

So much has changed since the Naga LGU took over the management and operation of the government-owned central bus terminal in the city, he said.

After almost two years running the CBT, the toilet fees are gone and the income generated from its facility increased two-fold even though other fees formerly imposed by the FPM Corp. had been waived in favor of efficient service and openness to the public.

Parking areas are now open for free use unlike the past nine years when the CBT was still managed and operated by FPM Corp., which is owned by Fortunato Mendoza.

In a study submitted by acting manager Mendoza to the Sangguniang Panlunsod, it was shown that for the use of four toilets alone, the FPM Corp. could have earned about Php1.4 million from collecting fees of Php5 per head for every use of the toilet.

It also showed that based on the previous policy of collecting fees per passenger from bus companies of at least Php40 per passenger, the FPM may have earned at least Php18.8 million per year.

But the Naga LGU has chosen to waive these income sources by implementing standards in the CBT operations which included scrapping of variety of fees like collecting fees based on the number of passengers and instead a fee per bus was implemented.

Including fees for toilet use, per passenger, parking and planned monthly rental increase of 5 percent, the Naga LGU estimated that some Php21.5 million had been waived in one year.

Mendoza said that even with the Naga LGU waiving the previous fees imposed on CBT users, still the income generated from the CBT operations has improved tremendously.

“Considering that the then terminal management was not open to giving away its financial secrets, much less disclosing in full and in a complete manner its sources of income at the terminal, it’s well possible that the enumeration (of the waived possible income) is not complete,” he said.

It came a long way for the CBT, which funds for its construction at the cost of Php15 million came from a loan the LGU of Naga City borrowed from the World Bank during the one-term administration of former mayor and Congressman Sulpicio Roco Jr., to realize the income-generating potential of the Naga LGU until it took over its operation.

Originally intended for privatization, the LGU at present is not keen to open for bidding the CBT operation while it is setting its standards on how should the bus terminal must operate in terms of its facilities and income generated.

“If ever the city government decides to reopen its bidding for the CBT operation, the standard will be higher for a bidder to comply with,” Naga City Vice Mayor Nelson Legacion said.

Legacion, a lawyer by profession, is among those who stood in court to defend the decision of the LGU to take over the management and administration of the CBT from the FPM Corp.

After a strong resistance from and legal tussle with FPM Corp. questioning the propriety of the LGU’s takeover of the terminal on the basis of an old ordinance, the central bus terminal was taken over by the LGU on January 17, 2014.

Fortunato Mendoza filed criminal and administrative cases against Naga City officials at the Ombudsman aside from asking the court to issue temporary restraining order (TRO) when the LGU was about to take over the CBT.

After the TRO lapsed, however, Mendoza again applied at the court for a writ of injunction which was dismissed on Jan. 16, 2014.

The Ombudsman dismissed Mendoza’s criminal and administrative cases against the city officials on June 26, 2015.

From then on, under the LGU management and operation of the terminal changes started to get into the system.

Acting manager Mendoza said they did not start the operations of the CBT from scratch but based on the continued data gathering and assessment of its operations months before the takeover.

He said they deployed Naga LGU personnel to religiously record the number of buses coming in and going out during the lean and peak months, aside from other observations when FPM Corp. was still the private operator of the CBT.

Mendoza revealed they discovered other practices inside the CBT which were purely based on personal judgment of the owner of the FPM Corp. like the uneven rates the fees were collected.

He said prior to the taking over of the CBT, a Technical Working Group (TWG) was formed to layout the management and administrative plan of the operations which they had followed and improved up to the present. (PNA) FPV/FGS/JME/CBD/EDS

Sorsogon school conversion to university gets multi-sectoral support
By Bobby Q. Labalan

SORSOGON CITY, Dec. 15 (PNA) -- With no objection from any sector it consulted, the House committee on higher education is set to approve the proposal to convert the Sorsogon State College (SSC) into a state university, the chair of the committee said.

Rep. Roman Romulo (Lone District-Pasig City) said the public hearing and consultation initiated by his committee received tremendous endorsements for the passage of House Bill 5913 filed by Rep. Evie Escudero.

Among those who attended the public hearing was Bishop Arturo Bastes, who strongly pushed for the immediate approval of the bill so that more people could benefit from the services of the SSC once it is converted into a university.

Even the private schools sector also endorsed the proposal and expressed confidence that it will not pose a threat to private schools.

In a press conference following the public hearing, Romulo said even the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) had expressed support to the passage of the bill.

CHED confirmed during the hearing that the SSC had complied with and met the seven basic requirements necessary for its conversion.

Romulo said Escudero’s proposal is expected to be approved for the third and final reading before Congress finally adjourns next year.

Dr. Modesto Detera, SSC president, said once converted, the SSC will expand its curriculum offerings but assured the public that it would not cause increases in fees and charges.

He said that aside from the prestige that naturally attaches to being a university, the conversion would certainly bring more benefits to the students and mentors like access to grants and aids which are exclusively available to universities.

Eduard Carrascal, the president of the Supreme Student Government, on the other hand, said the conversion would expectedly boost the morale of the students and faculty members and encourage them to perform better, especially in licensure examinations.

Carrascal stressed that SSC, as it is now, has been faring well in government eligibility examinations with some of its graduates topping the tests, the more that it can perform better once converted into a university.

Aside from the consultation held at the SSC main campus, similar activities were also conducted at the Magallanes and Bulan campuses.

The bill will soon be submitted to the committee for deliberation and approval before it is tackled at the House plenary for final approval.

Escudero has been pushing for the conversion of SSC into a university, a move which debunked the claims by some critics that she was against the change in its status.

“It was just a matter of waiting for the proper timing to introduce the bill. Had I filed the bill much earlier, the SSC was not ready then yet, then the bill would be stalled at the committee level or worse it could have been set aside,” she said.

Escudero said now that the SSC is ripe for the conversion it will just be a matter of time before it obtains its new status as a state university. (PNA) FPV/FGS/BQL/CBD/EDS

Man electrocuted while preparing for 'Nona'

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 15 (PNA) -- A man died when he was electrocuted while removing a billboard of a salon in preparation for the onslaught of Typhoon "Nona" on Monday morning at Ziga Avenue, Tabaco City.

Victim Allan Padilla, 45, married, and a resident of Purok 2, Barangay Bangkilingan, Tabaco City, died while being treated at the Cope Hospital in the city.

A report reaching Police Senior Supt. Marlo S. Meneses said Padilla was removing the billboard at about 11:40 a.m. while a power outage was being experienced in the area.

The electric current, however, was suddenly restored, which the victim did not notice at once.

Unknowingly, Padilla held the electric wire and because of the sudden heavy current that hit his body, he fell to the ground.

Bystanders rushed him to the hospital for treatment but he died in the process.

The report said the salon owner contracted Padilla to remove the billboard as it would certainly be felled by strong winds that would be brought by Nona but it turned out to be tragic for the victim. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/EDS

'Nona' batters Albay for more than one hour -- PAGASA
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 15 (PNA) -- Typhoon "Nona" battered Albay province for one-and-a-half hours Monday night, an official of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Tuesday.

Lilian Guillermo, a staff member of the PAGASA Legazpi, said the province felt the fury of Nona as it swept through the province with winds of 100-120 kph.

Guillermo said the nearest distance to the eye of the typhoon in Albay was 30 kilometers and was in the second district of Albay.

In Legazpi City, the nearest distance was 50 km at past 6 p.m. Monday, she said.

The PAGASA official said the heaviest rain felt by the province was about 50 millimeters between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Nona felled electric posts and trees in Albay, authorities said.

Disaster officials said they would come out with an assessment report on Wednesday, particularly in the sectors of agriculture and infrastructure.

Guillermo also said that after its second landfall in Magallanes, Sorsogon, Nona struck at Claveria, Masbate.

Tuesday morning greeted Albayanos with intermittent weakening winds and rains. (PNA) RMA/FGS/NIM/CBD/EDS

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Former Albay town mayor passes away

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 15 (PNA) -- Former town mayor Juan M. Garcia of Guinobatan, Albay died of heart failure on Monday at the Aquinas University Hospital of Legazpi (AUHL, a close relative said Tuesday.

Garcia, who just turned 68 on Dec. 8, had been hospitalized for almost two weeks as he was fighting pneumonia that resulted in cardiac arrest, according to Marcial Tuanqui, Garcia's brother-in-law.

He was survived by his wife Tess and their 7 children -- Joseph, Cheryll, Marilen, John, Catherine, Paul and Juan Miguel III.

His remains lie in state at the Garcia residence in Guinobatan town in Albay.

In an interview, Tuanqui said Garcia, a San Beda College law graduate, started his political career in 1986 when he was appointed town mayor by the late President Corazon C. Aquino following the bloodless EDSA revolt that catapulted Ninoy's widow to the presidency.

Since then Garcia held the post for 18 years and was considered the longest serving mayor of the town.

He was also the former Albay Mayors' League president during his term as town mayor and was challenging the incumbent Guinobatan Mayor Gemma Ongjoco in the upcoming national and local elections next year.

His constituents branded him as a true and humble public servant, and a man for all seasons. (PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS

Nona' batters Bicol, displacing at least 372,327 persons

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 15 (PNA --Typhoon "Nona" battered Bicol, specifically Sorsogon, after it made a landfall Monday night with 140 kph sustained winds and rains.

"Nona" left at least 83,766 families, or 372,327 persons displaced, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Tuesday.

Storm surges and floods spawned by Nona also destroyed public infrastructures and hundreds of houses made of light materials in coastal villages along the eastern seaboard covering the provinces of Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur, according to Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Bicol regional director and concurrent DRRMC chairperson.

Alejandro said that based on initial damage assessment, the agricultural crops and housing sectors were the most affected.

As to initial cost of damages, he said, they are still awaiting the reports from the provinces and that they are currently making a regional damage and needs assessment, the OCD official said.

Alejandro said that generally, Bicol has achieved its zero- casualty goal that it has been maintaining every time a disaster happens.

He said the zero casualty goal was attained in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Camarines Norte.

When asked about a report that a 72-year-old elderly man and an 11-year-old child died when tree fell at the height of the typhoon in a village in Casiguran, Sorsogon, Alejandro said they are still waiting for the town's DRRMO report for confirmation.

In Sorsogon, a fisherman from Virac who sailed on Dec. 6 to catch fish sought refuged on Monday and was assisted by disaster response unit of Barcelona town.

According to Robert Busito, 21 and a native of Catanduanes, he and six others went fishing off the waters Pandan, Catanduanes on Dec. 6 but they were hit by strong sea waves that forced them to individually look for shelter.

Carole Mendizabal, Philippine Ports Authority(PPA) spokesperson, reported that as of 8 a.m. Tuesday there were still 1,423 passengers and 120 trucks and buses stranded in Matnog port.

According to Mendizabal that with the big volume of trucks and buses waiting to be shipped, it would take 3-4 days to decongest the port and bring it back to normal operation.

In Albay, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal reported that over a hundred houses made of light materials in the coastal villages of San Roque, Sabang, Pigcale and Baybay were partially and totally destroyed by a 9-foot-tall storm surge that hit the villages Monday night.

Knee-deep floodwaters also hit Barangay Oro Site and several other low-lying villages in downtown Legazpi.

Power and communication lines were still down in some parts of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Masbate.

Flights were still cancelled in Legazpi and Naga as PWS No, 1 is still hoisted over Bicol.

Major roads in Bicol have been cleared of fallen trees and electrical posts and have been passable, except in some areas in Manito, Pioduran in Albay. (PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS

Albay hits zero-casualty goal
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 15 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Albay achieved once again its zero-casualty goal.

After eight hours that Typhoon "Nona" landed in Bulusan, Sorsogon at 4 p.m., no single report of casualty was received by the Office of Civil Defense V (OCDV), Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) and Albay Provincial Police Office (APPO) on Tuesday morning.

"It is reasonable for Albay to declare that our communities, together with our partners, have achieved our zero-casualty goal during disaster in the face of hazards of strong winds and heavy rainfalls from Typhoon Nona, possibly one of the most rapid cyclogenesis in our history, a near-supertyphoon, to harass Albay," Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said.

"Our 'whole of government, whole of society' approach under Team Albay immediately went to work after 9 p.m. when Nona's manifestations in Albay began to weaken so that our people could wake up to normalcy as if Nona was just a bad dream," Salceda added.

In reality, he said, the Albayanos prayed the "Oratio Imperata"together; they stood up and helped each other in evacuation centers to overcome the rivers of difficulties and the tears of challenged dreams of the youth.

"Our people have learned to Pray and Prepare. And the highest form of prayer is preemptive evacuation since it is essentially a community prayer in obedience to God's command to avoid danger and temptations. For, He said 'where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them'," the former seminarian said.

With so little time, he said, the Albayanos only had themselves -- the long years of drills and training that have made DRR so banal as taking a bath "as we teach our people that at the end of the day no matter how I try, I can not be there to save them. Thus, capacity must be built-in in every home and in every person." "We can only rely on whatever resources we can summon from within and from our friends (DSWD, OCD, AFP) to save that solitary life that could violate the goal of zero casualty which we hold as sacred since even in our most modest means it makes real the dignity of persons and upholds the equality of all.

During disasters, the poor are the most vulnerable, their rights are more pronounced, and the duty of state increases exponentially. As we fight climate change in the streets of inner city, our fragile coastlines and our eroded mountain slopes, it breaks my heart and it disturbs me existentially how can something so wrong remain so long un-righted, how can the rich countries violate the rights of poor with impunity? So much for non-binding commitments," Salceda said. (PNA) RMA/FGS/CBD/EDS

Monday, December 14, 2015

Albay PHO now on Code Blue
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- The Albay Provincial Health Office (APHO) raised its code from white to blue during the meeting of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council on Monday morning.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Nathaniel Rempillo said the Albay Health and Emergency Management (AHEM) team is on standby mode as Typhoon "Nona" is expected to landfall in Albay early Monday evening.

"With more than 200 ready and well-trained personnel and staff, we are prepared," Rempillo said.

At least 121 personnel composed of nurses, doctors and trained rescuers and health personnel from AHEM and 100 from the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) Health Emergency Management staff are on standby for action anytime, he said.

Code White represents the readiness of the team while Blue is used for possible affected families that range from 50 or more, and Red as highest form involves more than 100 affected families.

Emergency codes are used in hospitals worldwide to alert staff on various emergencies.

The use of codes is intended to convey essential information quickly and with minimal misunderstanding to staff, while preventing stress and panic among visitors to the hospital.

Codes are posted on placards throughout the hospital, or printed on employee identification badges for ready reference. (PNA) FPV/FGS/CBD

589,235 moved to safe shelters in Albay as typhoon 'Nona' nears
By Eduardo Casulla

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- At least 589,235 persons or 133,905 families were forcibly evacuated in the entire province of Albay to ensure zero casualty in the villages threatened by floods, storm surges, landslides, strong winds and lahar flows.

Albay Gov.Joey Sarte Salceda said those moved from their homes have been temporarily resettled to various evacuation centers in the province.

The local government units of Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Tabaco City, Legazpi City, Ligao City, Tiwi, Libon, Oas, Sto. Domingo, Malilipot, Malinao, Bacacay, Jovellar, Pio Duran, Rapu-Rapu, Manito, and Polangui were prompt in the enforcement of preventive evacuation of all residents that would be affected by Nona.

Office of Civil Defense Regional Director Raffy Alejandro said that all Bicol provinces have suspended classes at all levels for both private and public schools in preparation for the strong weather disturbance.

Search and rescue teams of each province have been place on readiness to respond to disaster need of those who will be affected by the typhoon.

At least 1,000 passengers have been stranded in Bicol after the Philippine Coast Guard banned sea travel, especially by vehicles going to the Visayas and Mindanao from Metro Manila. (PNA) FPV/FGS/EMC/CBD/EDS

Sorsogon evacuates villagers threatened by Typhoon 'Nona'
By Mar Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- Officials of Sorsogon province have also enforced preemptive evacuation of residents seen to be affected by Typhoon "Nona", which is expected to hit the province on Monday afternoon.

As of 12.:45 p.m. Monday, seven schools in four municipalities in the province reported 198 families that are temporarily housed under their roofs, the Department of Education Sorsogon Division said.

These are Bulusan National High School in Bulusan town, 40; Bagacay National HS in Gubat town, 50; Bonifacio Elementary School in Gubat, 50; Gubat National HS, 35; Aguinaldo ES in Gubat, 3; San Rafael ES in Prieto Diaz town, 15; and Lipaso ES in Pilar town, 5 families.

Typhoon Nona is expected to make a landfall in Gubat on Monday afternoon.

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) said thousands of families have been evacuated to various evacuation camps in the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon.

Bernardo Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional director and concurrent RDCC chairperson, said the massive pre-emptive evacuation activities have been going on since Sunday.

Alejandro said that the RDCC expects to move out some 37,436 families or 118,473 individuals living in coastal villages prone to storm surge in the towns of Bulan, Bulusan, Magallanes, Sta Magdalena and Prieto Diaz.

He said forced evacuation is also being implemented in the Camarines provinces though his office is still waiting for their respective reports.

In Albay, Gov. Joey Salceda said as of 12 noon Monday, the on-going preemptive evacuation has placed under safer grounds some 22,752 families or 115,916 persons or 17 percent from the projected 133,000 families living in storm surge, flood and landslide-prone areas.

Salceda said initially affected by the massive evacuation were residents living in coastal, low-lying villages in the towns of Daraga, Guinobatan, Tiwi, Oas, Libon, Sto. Domingo, Manito and Polangui.

“We are still waiting for reports from other towns and cities,” he said.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Bicol said that as of 10 a.m. Monday, there were 1,052 passengers stranded in the ports of Albay (334), Sorsogon (601), Masbate (107) and Catanduanes (10), while 212 trucks, buses and cars were likewise stranded in these ports. <>p>The Department of Health (DOH) Bicol said that all government hospitals across the region were on Code Red.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Nona would make a landfall over Sorsogon early tonight, then cross Albay and Burias Island. (PNA) FPV/FGS/MSA/CBD

Albay under state of imminent disaster due to 'Nona'
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- A state of imminent disaster has been raised in the entire province of Albay as typhoon "Nona" is expected to hit its area late on Monday afternoon.

Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, Provincial disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council head, said the move is based on RA 10121 or popularly known as Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Law and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Albay Resolution No. 0060-2015 passed by the council headed by Vice Governor Harold Imperial.

Storm Signal No. 3 is now raised in Albay based on PAGASA's report that the province will experience the brunt of the typhoon on Monday afternoon until evening.

Dr. Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office chief, said about 500,000 individuals need to be evacuated in the three cities and 15 towns of the province up to Monday afternoon.

Daep said the evacuation would be completed before dark Monday due to the threat of floods, strong winds, lahar flows, soil erosion or landslide and storm surges.

In this connection, Salceda has ordered the suspension of classes at levels in both private and public schools as well as work in public and private offices, commercial establishments and banks, except those involved in DRR.

The said move aims to achieve the province's zero-casualty goal. (PNA) FFC/BNB/FGS/NIM/CBD

1,052 passengers stranded in Bicol ports
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- A total of 1,052 passengers are stranded in the ports of the four provinces of Bicol, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Bicol reported on Monday in the meeting of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

The state weather bureau raised Public Storm Signal No. 3 Sunday evening in provinces of Albay, Catanduanes and Sorsogon and in Ticao Island, Masbate.

In Albay, stranded in the port of Tabaco City are 179 passengers, 11 rolling cargoes; Pioduran, 155 passengers, 20 rolling cargoes. In Sorsogon: Bulan, six passengers; Pilar, 95 passengers, 14 rolling cargoes; and Matnog, 500 passengers, 115 rolling cargoes.

In Virac, Catanduanes, held at the port for safety are six passengers, three rolling cargoes; San Andres, four passengers, two rolling cargoes.

In Masbate: Bapor port, 61 passengers, seven vessels, two motor bancas and 22 rolling cargoes; Aroroy, one passenger; Cataingan, 42 passengers, two vessels and 16 rolling cargoes; Calumpang, Masbate City, two motor bancas.

The PCG has three teams composed of seven personnel who are on standby.

All stations and detachments of PCG-Bicol districts are in close coordination with other agencies while local government units are also on standby. (PNA) JMC/FGS/CBD

Albay official bats for comprehensive mental health program
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- Albay provincial board member Herbert Borja is pushing for a comprehensive mental health program among local government units, including the provision of treatment support.

According to Borja, local mental health policies shall be pursued through a mental health program strategy prioritizing the promotion of mental health, protection of the rights and freedom of persons with mental diseases and the reduction of the burden and consequences of mental ill-health, mental and brain disorders and disabilities.

“Adhering to the National Mental Health Program of the Department of Health, we in the local level must establish systems and mechanisms that will ensure equitable accessible, affordable and appropriate health services for the mentally ill patients, victims of disaster and other vulnerable groups,” he said.

In the province of Albay, the only facility catering to mental health-related services is the Holy Face, a religious organization serving a total of 17 patients under the residential program and 3,380 out-patients.

All of them need to be provided with regular medical treatment, especially medicines or drugs maintenance.

Majority of the patients being served by the Holy Face were victims of typhoon "Reming" that severely damaged the province of Albay on November 30, 2006.

They were displaced and rendered homeless after the disaster and their family members were buried alive due to landslides, flash floods and lahar flows from Mayon volcano.

In a study conducted by Anecia Bailon of the Aquinas University Graduate School revealed that there was no intervention followup for those who manifested post-traumatic syndrome, no available medicines or pyschotic drugs/anti depression at the evacuation centers and absence of referral system.

Psychosocial intervention like stress debriefing to calamity victims was only done inside the evacuation centers.

Borja, chairman of the committee on health, also urged that inter-sectoral approaches and networking with other government agencies, non-government organizations, academe and private service providers shall be pursued to develop partnership and expand the involvement of stakeholders.

Yolanda Guanzon, Provincial Social Welfare Office head, on the other hand, said that in the absence of a system or mechanism to strengthen the intervention program for mental health, their office is extending financial support to patients.

“Actually, we have regular clients seeking for medical assistance for mental health patients, especially from the 3rd district of the province,” Guanzon said.

Aside from the provincial assistance, according to her, they can also avail of the same assistance or support from their respective municipal or city social welfare offices.

Guanzon is amenable to the recommendation of having a comprehensive mental health program in every local government unit so that a mechanism can be developed for a clear mental health intervention including the establishment of database and information system.

This is needed to determine the magnitude of the problem to serve as basis for shifting the program to institutional and treatment focused on being preventive, family focused and community oriented.

According to the Rhode Island Psychological Association, many research studies have shown that when people receive appropriate mental health care, their use of medical services declines.

For example, one study of people with anxiety disorders showed that after psychological treatment, the number of medical visits decreased by 90 percent, laboratory costs decreased by 50 perent, and overall treatment costs dropped by 35 perent.

Ther studies have shown that people with untreated mental health problems visit a medical doctor twice as often as people who receive mental health care.

Excessive anxiety and stress can contribute to physical problems such as heart disease, ulcers, and colitis.

Anxiety and stress can also reduce the strength of the immune system, making people more vulnerable to conditions ranging from the common cold to cancer. (PNA) FPV/FGS/MDR/CBD/EBP

Classes suspended in Masbate
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -– Acting Masbate Governor Vicente Homer B. Revil has issued Executive Order No. 18 suspending classes at all levels, both private and public, in the province Masbate on Monday and Tuesday due to typhoon “Nona” which is expected to hit the province on Monday.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council held an emergency meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday to discuss the preparations of the various agencies involved in disaster risk reduction prior, during and after a disaster and authorized Revil to suspend classes “in order to mitigate, if not avert, any adverse effects of the storm upon persons and properties.”

The suspension of classes is aimed at affording all residents of the province to prepare for the forthcoming storm and its consequences, Revil said.

Nona is expected to make a landfall in Samar at about noontime on Monday. (PNA) FFC/FGS/NBT/CBD

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Legazpi among best performing LGUs, says UNDP-run initiative
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 9 (PNA) -- After a three-phase training conducted by the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) and participated in by local government units in Bicol, the JMDI has chosen the City Government of Legazpi as one of the best performing cities in the entire Bicol region.

The measures of selection are migration and development in local governance, Mayor Noel Rosal said in an interview Wednesday.

Rosal said the training focused on the mainstreaming migration and development (M&D) plans as well as building and strengthening local M&D institutions and developing, implementing and sustaining M&D services.

The JMDI is an inter-agency initiative implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in collaboration with the International Training Center-International Labor Organization and International Organization for Migration (IOM).

It aims to maximize the potential of migration for local development through local authorities and non-state actors by upscaling locally-led M&D initiatives through financial and technical assistance and capacity building.

Rosal said Bicol University and the Social Action Center have already organized an Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Family Association to include them in a representation to the city’s local development planning.

The city already has a desk for OFW families and other information campaign to prevent city workers from illegal recruitment and other forms of human trafficking.

"We will also localize the Balikbayan website to pave the way for information needed by the migrant families," Rosal said.

He said his office has conducted training for OFW families regarding financial literacy, capacity building and investment.

The city chief executive disclosed that his administration will hold an entrepreneurial skills training and implement a pre-migration orientation seminar for those who are interested to work abroad in order for them to make themselves ready for any job opportunities.

Rosal said this will familiarize themselves with the culture of other nationalities in order to prevent any culture shock.

The City Government of Legazpi and the Department of Education will also implement a school-based program for the children of migrants to inform them of the situation of workers in other countries and educate them on how to spend their money properly.

He said his administration, together with the Department of Labor and Employment and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs, will implement the reintegration program for displace OFW by providing them a jobs and other forms of livelihood activities. (PNA) JMC/FGS/EPS/CBD/EDS

(NEWS FEATURE)DepEd hails Masbate Gold Project’s sincere help to education
By Norman Tamar

MASBATE CITY, Dec. 9 (PNA) -- The Department of Education Masbate Division Office here has hailed the sincere contribution of the Masbate Gold Project to education by, among others, constructing new school buildings in the towns of Placer and Cataingan.

DepEd Assistant District Superintendent Raymond Cantonjos said the school building units donated by the MGP in these towns are not ordinary edifices but important instruments to educate children towards a bright future.

“It is in sincere, honest and great intention that we reap a very good result in education,” Cantonjos said.

He emphasized that it takes a village to educate a child, as he witnessed the good partnership of the MGP, Armed Forces of the Philippines, local government unit (LGU) officials, teachers and parents in the realization of the school building project in Placer and Cataingan towns.

After constructing a couple of school building units in these towns, turnover ceremonies followed.

It was a blessing to have sunny mornings on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26 when the ceremonial blessing and turnover rites of the school building project in Placer and Cataingan town happened, Catonjos said.

“The DepEd, Philippine Army, MGP and other agencies came as one for a single purpose: to build and make a bright future for young generation of the place,” he said.

The DepEd official said how grateful the DepEd is to the assistance extended to it.

Filminera, according to him, could have invested its many millions to some others but instead invested it to education “because it believes that it is in education that we can capture all of the development of the school children of today.”

Catonjos said that in behalf of their schools division superintendent, Jose Doncillo, Filminera and the Philippine Army will forever be part of their lives in creating the future of the children.

He mentioned that the DepEd will exist and forever exist if it is being partnered by private organizations.

“We need to deliver the best education to school children because this is the only return we can give. Let’s join hands together because it is in education that we can make this province great again,” he said.

Joni Songcuya, MGP education consultant, said both activities started with a prayer from pastors of Born Again Christians who are also teachers of the respective schools.

In their simple expressions were words of thanks to those who owned the resources and praised their lives and the courageous hands of the soldiers and other entities who got involved in making the school buildings.

Soncuya said that in Matagangtang, Placer, the activity was attended by Barangay Captain Arnel S. Amag, Pawican Barangay Chairwoman Merriam P. Caballas, PTA President Francisco Ytang, School Head Claudette Pillejera, Cantonjos, Lt. Col. Patrick E. Cinco and Lt. Col. Erwin R. Salibad, Adriano Gulay, the lot donor, students, faculty and staff.

In Poblacion Cataingan, the turnover rite was attended by Village Councilor Rodolfo Dalimocon, Engr. Jesus P. Dela Peña, Cantonos, Salibad, Cinco and Col. Felipe B. Bejar.

Also spotted around were Police Senior Insp. Albert Abayon of the Cataingan Municipal Police Station, SF03 Ronnie U. Grafilo of the Bureau of Fire Protection, ROTC Unit Col. Ariel B. Bionat, teachers, staff and student government officers.

The MGP was represented by Community Relations Manager Ramon S. Velasco and staff, Special Projects Officer Florencio T. Cayco Jr. and Security Consultant Luciano Gaboy.

Pillejera said in her speech that she at first refused to have this project in his village for some valid reasons.

“Had I continued refusing it, I would have been very sorry in the long run. Thank you to Filminera; thank you, Philippine Army,” she said.

Pillejera quoted the old Chinese proverb: ”when you drink water don’t forget who dug the well. Thank you for the water, Thank you for the early Christmas gift.”

Filminera as known to many is the Filminera Resources Corp. (FRC) and is one of the two big companies that operate the Masbate Gold Project (MGP) in Aroroy town, with the Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corp. (PGPRC) as partner.

Caballas, the Pawican village chief, said in Filipino, “Ang Filminera ay parang bisyo. Tumulong ang bisyo nila. Kaya dapat ibalik sa kanila ang bisyo, na ipagdasal sila na mabigyan pa ng magandang pangangatawan. Bakit pinili ng Filminera ang Army na maging katuwang? dahil sila ang may disiplina (Filminera is like a habit.

Helping people is their addiction that’s why we need to pray for them for their good health always. Why Filminera opted for Army as their project partner is because they are the ones with discipline).”

Amag thanked Filminera for extending its help.

Ytang also thanked the Filminera for its open heart which, he said, could never be forgotten for a lifetime.

Dela Peña, the school head of Poblacion, Cataingan, also expressed gratitude to the sweet and gentle effort extended by Filminera to the growing population of students and teachers in Poblacion and for sending the 51st Engineer Brigade of the PA.

He also acknowledged the cooperation of LGU, barangay, parents and other stakeholders in bringing this project forward.

Bejar, a newcomer in the province, stressed in his short message his observation and impression to the enthusiasm and energy displayed by Masbateños.

He then asked to give the PA more time to assist in the project.

Velasco, who represented the MGP, proudly said the school building project in Placer and Cataingan are the third and fourth projects turned over to the “Yolanda”-devastated area of Masbate.

He continued that all these constitute the answer to the dream that every child possesses in his young heart and mind. (PNA) RMA/FGS/NBT/CBD/EDS

PNP-Bicol recruiting 1,000 new cops
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 9 (PNA) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) Bicol regional office has opened its recruitment program for new policemen and women who will fill up the 1,000 slots allocated for the region in 2016.

Chief Supt. Augusto M. Marquez Jr., the regional police director, said on Wednesday the ongoing recruitment is part of the 20,000 openings for Police Officer One (PO1) nationwide for next year — a number which is more than threefold of last year’s 300 slots for the region.

For the regular first cycle of the 2016 recruitment program, the initial screening will be in February 2016, with the new policemen taking their oaths by July; while for the second cycle, which is the attrition, initial screening is set in June, followed by the oath-taking in November 2016, according to Marquez.

Aside from being a Filipino citizen, an applicant should be of good moral character; must have passed the psychiatric/psychological, drug and physical test; and must possess a formal baccalaureate degree from a recognized learning institution.

He or she must also possess an eligibility acquired by passing the PNP Entrance Examination being given by the National Police Commission (Napolcom) or for lateral entrants — civil service eligibility from board or bar exam as provided under Republic Act No. 1080 or the Act declaring the bar and board examinations as civil service examinations.

As much as possible, meanwhile, the Napolcom Bicol regional office here wants more graduates of Criminology courses in the ongoing and future recruitment of new members of the uniformed police service to address the discrepancy in college graduates entering the police force.

Recent studies show that the present composition of the younger generation of policemen in the region is dominated by graduates of nursing, education, commerce and business administration.

Based on the records of the PNP regional office on its recruitment and training classes for the period between December 2010 and December 2013, criminology graduates comprised only 42.26 percent or 767 entrants compared to 57.74 percent or 1,048 who graduated from other courses.

The period, according to Napolcom Regional Director Rodolfo Santos Jr., covered the Public Safety Field Training Program classes that are composed of six batches wherein nursing graduates dominated the recruits totaling 259; followed by graduates of education, 209; commerce and business administration, 154; and Bachelor of Arts, 110.

These courses comprise the top four leading non-criminology programs in the last six recruitment periods and selection for entry in the police organization, he said.

“This simply indicates a diminishing number of Bachelors of Science in Criminology graduates in the region’s police service, which can end up being occupied by graduates from other courses not related to law enforcement,” Santos lamented.

He also revealed that in the conduct of recruitment evaluation and screening, graduates from other courses registered higher passing average than criminology graduates during the same recruitment period that resulted in other courses representing majority of the applicants and recruits in the police service.

One reason for this, he said, is that in most occasions, the criminology graduates who applied for entry in the police service have difficulties in communicating and explaining their knowledge and theories during the panel interviews, which are part of the screening process.

Disturbed by these findings, Santos said his office has launched a project called “Post on-the-job training (OJT) for Graduating Criminology Students,” in response to the necessity of helping schools in the region prepare their students for relevant minimum qualifications for entry in the police service.

Napolcom’s methodology being applied in the project would make all students under the mandatory OJT in police stations to be required to submit reports to include the extent of their learning on subjects like traffic management, crowd control, patrolling, criminal detection and investigation, among others, prior to their OJT.

After the OJT, they will be required to submit written articles on their impression on the police station’s system of teaching and transfer of actual information and knowledge on the same subjects as well as the knowledge and skills gained.

The post-OJT report will be the basis of another evaluation to be conducted by a Napolcom panel in the presence of the students’ instructors to determine and validate the improvement of their skills and knowledge on the subject areas.

This process will also be part of the pre-graduation evaluation of the students which will then be the basis for further enhancement of the program that will be recommended to Commission on Higher Education for adoption in criminology schools across the region, he added.

In the ongoing recruitment, Marquez said, applicants must not have been dishonorably discharged from military employment or dismissed for cause from any civilian position in the government; and must not have been convicted by final judgment of an offense or crime involving moral turpitude.

Male applicants must be at least 1.62 meters in height while the height requirement for females is not less than 1.57 meters.

They must weigh not more or less than five kilograms from the standard weight corresponding to one’s height, age and sex; and, must not be less than 21 or more than 30 years of age.

Qualified applicants, Marquez said, may submit their accomplished PO1 application forms, including the photocopies of their National Statistics Office birth certificate, Certificate of Eligibility Rating, Transcript of Records, diploma and two valid IDs thru online ( and email (

They can also submit their duly accomplished application forms and other requirements to the police station in their municipality of residence or with or to their provincial police office (PPO).

They will be notified if they passed the pre-assessment and then require to submit the documents and clearances to the police station or the PPO, after which they will undergo, in succession, the Psychological/Psychiatric Examination and drug test, physical/medical/dental examination, complete background investigation, physical agility test, and the final screening committee interview. (PNA) SCS/FGS/DOC/CBD

Boy, 11, injured in firecracker explosion

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Dec. 9 (PNA) -- A top official of the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office on Wednesday has issued a stern warning to all who never learn their lessons on firecrackers after an 11-year-old is now in critical condition due to firecracker injury.

Police Chief Supt. Agusuto M. Marquez Jr., Bicol police regional director, disclosed a report coming to his office said an 11-year-old boy is now in critical condition after the unconsumed firecracker powder that he had gathered after a fireworks display on Tuesday afternoon at Centro Poblacion, Oas, Albay, particularly in front of Oas Parish Church, exploded.

Marquez said victim Jay-An Antonio De Vera, a student and resident of Iraya Norte, Oas, was rushed to the Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital (BRTTH) in Legazpi City.

The fireworks display was done at about 2 p.m. in celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of the town.

After the event, De Vera and his two companions decided to gather the unspent powder of the explosives, place these in a can and ignited the contents.

The burning powder exploded, causing burns in De Vera's face and body.

He is now being treated at the BRTTH.

The victim's two friends were spared as they were able to run when the powder was still burning.

"This should serve as a lesson to those who still plan to use firecrackers in the celebration of Christmas and New Year despite our strong warning and strict implementation of the firecracker ban," Marquez said. Authorities are investigating the incident. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD/EDS

Bicol wins 2 DA national awards in organic farming
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Dec. 9 (PNA) -- An ethnic family and a local government worker from Bicol were among this year’s national champions in the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) search for outstanding performers in organic agriculture.

Named as Outstanding Organic Farming Family during recent awarding ceremonies held at the SMX Convention Center in Bacolod City was the Avila family, a member of the indigenous Aeta tribe in Tigaon, Camarines Sur; while Sienna Sombrero, the same town’s agricultural extension worker, won the National Outstanding Municipal Focal Person in Organic Agriculture award.

The awarding ceremonies highlighted the yearly holding of the DA’s National Organic Agriculture Congress, now on its 12th year.

Abelardo Bragas, the DA-Bicol regional executive director, on Wednesday here said his office is so proud of these Bicolano national championship winners who bested all the other finalists in the awards from different parts of the country.

“The honors received by the Avila family and Sombrero are also our pride in DA-Bicol as it symbolizes our success in our revitalization program of organic agriculture, also called sustainable farming which is an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that last over the long term,” Bragas said.

Sustainable agriculture provides or secure human with safe and nutritious food, enhance the quality of environment based upon which the agricultural economy relies and makes efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources that are integrated into natural biological cycles and conditions, he explained.

The system also makes farm operations economically viable and enhances the quality of life of farmers and the community or society as a whole, the DA regional chief said, citing the success achieved by Bicol in organic farming, which is part of the Aquino administration’s implementation of Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act (OAA) of 2010.

“Our adoption of organic agriculture has been a proven approach for increasing productivity and income. It is also based on the OAA which aims to enrich soil fertility, reduce pollution and farming’s environmental destruction, prevent natural resources depletion, save on imported fertilizer, and protect the health of farmers and consumers alike,” he said.

Bragas said special attention is being given by the DA to organic farming communities in Bicol from where the country owes 74 percent of its organic rice production last year.

The region also contributed 44 percent to the country’s overall production of other organic crops owing to the DA-Bicol’s expansion of organic farming with the Php6-million upland farming project that boosts the region’s hefty contribution to national rice production.

Under this project, the region’s organically-produced upland rice was further developed for its market potential as some of these traditional strains have been reported to outperform some modern rice varieties.

The advantage of these traditional varieties is in higher grain production and drought tolerance which has become a critical trait amid the prevailing climate change threats.

Upland rice varieties generally have an average yield of only one to two metric tons (MT) per hectare, but selected Bicol varieties which the DA projects use in reviving vast upland rice farms in the region exceed such yield average, according to Bragas.

Based on a report of the International Rice Research Institute, (PhilRice), Bicol has 63,699 hectares of upland farms, some of it rendered idle by unfavorable weather conditions and pest.

DA’s development of the region’s upland rice is very timely as these varieties have the potential to withstand higher temperature and less water supply which is what is needed amid the threatening climate condition.

Upland rice production is ideal since it can make up for any shortfalls in flood-prone lowland irrigated areas.

This is specifically during wet season cropping when flooding in lowland prevails.

Uplands are now rice production frontier in Bicol as its yield has the potential to improve through better varieties and cultural management practices that suit the soil, climatic and social conditions.

For winning the organic farming championship award, the Avila family got a cash prize of Php300,000 while Sombrero received Php40,000.

In the awarding rites, Bragas said, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala cited the two Bicol awardees along with the six others from other regions who won the awards in different categories of the search as “worthy of the recognition” for besting 67 other contenders from all over the country.

Other categories of the awards are Outstanding Province, City/Municipality, Farmers Group, Provincial focal Person, Agricultural Extension Worker and Small Individual Farmer.

Bragas said the awarding ceremonies and the three-day 12th national Organic Agriculture Congress was attended by over 1,500 organic farmers, processors, traders, advocates from NGOs, organic agriculture focal persons of DA regional offices and local government units from all regions of the country.

The Congress featured exhibits of organic products and plenary sessions where technical topics on local policies and global standards, organic vegetables and crops production, promotional strategies to expand market reach and health benefits to delectable organic kitchen recipes were discussed, Bragas said.

In the discussions, Alcala stressed that “converting to organic is not instant, but time will come that more farmers will adopt the organic system because it is safer,” the DA regional chief added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cops nab 4 for illegal miners, seize compressor

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- Members of the Jose Panganiban Municipal Police Station (MPS) arrested four persons caught engaged in illegal mining operation at Barangay San Rafael, Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte at about 10 a.m. Saturday.

Apprehended were Joel V. Botalon, 41; Mark Angelo N. Evidor, 18; Noe M. Castillo, 47; and Leah C. Castillo y Comedes, 51 -- all of Camarines Norte.

The police found them in the act operating/conducting illegal mining using a compressor.

They recovered from suspects’ possession one compressor tank, one motor (Kenstone) and more or less 50 meters long hose.

The four arrested persons and the confiscated pieces of evidence were brought to the Jose Panganiban MPS for proper disposition.(PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

Cops nab Masbate town's most wanted person in Quezon City

CAMP BONNY SERRANO, Masbate City, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- Combined operatives of seven law enforcing units arrested Mobo town's No. 1 most wanted person on P. Tuazon St., Cubao, Quezon City on Thursday morning, a Masbate top official disclosed Sunday.

Police Senior Supt. Prexy Tanggawohn, Masbate Police Provincial Office (MPPO) officer-in-charge, said Jerry O. Carmen, a carpenter and a native of Barangay Mandali, Mobo, Masbate was apprehended by joint elements of the Masbate Provincial Intelligence Branch, Regional Intelligence Division, Criminal Investigation and Detection Team, Regional Intelligence Unit, Masbate Provincial Public Safety Company, Baleno Municipal Police Station (MPS) and Mobo MPS.

Tanggawohn said the arrest was in line with the ideals of the PNP P.A.T.R.O.L Plan 2030 and Oplan Lambat Sibat.

Carmen had a warrant of arrest for rape in relation to R.A. 7610 under Criminal Case No. 16718 issued by Judge Jose C. Fortuno of Regional Trial Court Branch 48, Masbate City with no bail recommended.

Tanggawohn personally commended the efforts exerted by the operating units in this accomplishment.

He said the arrest of Carmen is a major accomplishment in the MPPO’s campaign against wanted persons through Oplan Lambat-Sibat.(PNA) CTB/FGS/NBT/CBD/pjn

Masbate fisher saves man who jumped off passenger ship

BALUD, Masbate, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- A fisherman rescued a passenger who jumped off a 2GO Shipping Lines ship bound for Iligan City from Metro Manila at the seawater off Barangay Cantil in this town at 10 a.m. Friday.

The Balud Municipal Police Station identified the man as Amron Sarakan, 27, single and a resident of Barangay Libud, Marawi City.

The unidentified fisherman saw Sarakan gasping for breath as he tried to float for survival off the coast.

A police report said the victim jumped into the sea from the ship in the middle of the trip.

Police said Sarakan was wearing white and blue t-shirt and dark blue shorts, is 5' 2" in height, brown complexioned and was noticed to have mental problems when seen during the time of rescue.

The man is now under the care of the BMPS, which is now seeking help from netizens in informing the family and relatives of Sarakan and urged them to contact their office in Balud at mobile number 09298036997 for Smart and 09173973708 for Globe subscribers.

“With your cooperation, we can help send this man back to his family by sharing his picture and details in any social networking site,” the BMPS said.(PNA) CTB/FGS/NBT/CBD/pjn

PATA chief cites tourism's bullish growth potentials
By Allan Tan

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 28 (PNA) -- The head of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) acknowledged the high growth potentials of the tourism industry in the next decade.

Mario Hardy, PATA chief executive officer, however, stressed the need to promote tourism to adapt to and mitigate climate change as well as ensure that acts of terrorism do not threaten the competitiveness of the tourists’ respective destinations.

Hardy headed some 560 PATA delegates from 20 countries that attended the PATA New Frontiers Forum 2015 held for three days at The Oriental Hotel, which overlooks Albay’s ecotourism icon -- the Mayon Volcano, starting Wednesday up to Friday.

The forum had for its theme: “Ecotourism – Transcending Climate Change” and explored how alternative forms of tourism can help counter the negative impacts of climate change on tourism based on the context of emerging destinations.

“As the CEO of PATA, it’s my honor to welcome you all to PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2015 -- our first event of its kind and our first event in Legazpi City,” said Hardy, who thanked the Albay provincial government and the tourism department for holding the event.

He said the delegates traveled from all corners of the world -- including Canada, Rome, Hongkong, Kenya, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.

“This is just fantastic,” Hardy said.

PATA delegates came to share their insights and experiences in tourism and how it impacts on climate change, responsible growth and development as well as challenges for humanity.

There were 21 dynamic speakers on related topics.

Hardy said the tourism forecast in the Asia Pacific Region, including the Philippines, in the next decade shows a phenomenal growth in tourism -- driven primarily by China, Indonesia and India – owing to rising income.

Asked on his first impression on Albay, Hardy said the province has a promising future.

“Because you've got beautiful nature -- and this is a true story: When my wife and I landed here yesterday we were looking at the window outside,” he said, adding, “I was amazed how green it is. We live in Bangkok, and it’s a great city but there are lots of cement and not green anymore.”

“So when we come to places like this, it’s wonders for us. And my wife, who comes from the Indian Ocean and the landscape which is very similar to here, thought she was home. Even the village in the city and the landscape are much the same,” Hardy said.

During a media briefing on Wednesday afternoon with Albay Governor Joey Salceda, he said the numbers are phenomenal and driven by the growth in China.

Based on a Merrill Lynch published report that a Chinese, to travel overseas, has to earn at least US,000 a year, and, Hardy said, by 2020 half a billion or 500 million Chinese will be earning more than US,000 a year and the present trend shows some 120 million Chinese are traveling overseas every year.

Some forecast in 2020 puts it at 200 million Chinese tourists.

The high potential for tourism is there and there is a need to look forward, said the PATA chief executive officer, who also cited Indonesia with 350 million people and India, owing to their rising incomes.

“The thing is, if you can find ways to assure the public and develop the friendship by both parties, I think that’s the way to move forward to ensure the development of tourism,” Hardy said.

He said he has been closely watching the development at the South China Sea where the Philippine, Vietnam, Japan and other countries in the region are at issue with China over recent years.

China’s expansive claims in disputed waters have no basis in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and encroach on the rights of coastal states, the Philippines told a UN tribunal Tuesday.

The Philippine legal team presented its argument at the hearing on the merits of Manila’s case against Beijing with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, saying China’s “historic” claims and “nine-dash line” should be considered unlawful and without basis.

Hardy said that despite China’s dispute over the Senkaku Islands with Japan, more Chinese tourists are really visiting Japan at a fast rate.

But he urged nations to be prepared for any terroristic attack after the ISIS upped its warning to include countries in Asia Pacific.

“My word of caution is that there are no destinations that are not at risk and anyone can be at risk to terror attack as well as natural disaster or any other event,” said Hardy.

He said countries should prepare themselves by ensuring that good communications are in place to ensure security of tourists coming to their destinations.

“All what is needed is one incident that can destroy your market for a short or a long period of time,” he said, recalling the recent bombing of Erawan Shrine last Aug. 17 where at least 20 people died and more than 120 were injured.

“We live in Thailand and I see that we experience this in regular basis like what happened early this year,” Hardy said.

He said Thailand was able to recover fast with more than six million visitors this year and a target of 28.8 million tourists at the end of this year.

He said the immediate effect was not so severe as what was thought before.

The PATA official said more investment in security and safety to protect the tourists will be tackled in an international conference next year. (PNA) RMA/FGS/AT/CBD/ssc

PNP-Bicol chief vows to dig up, solve 'cold cases'

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 28 (PNA) -- The head of the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office has ordered the reopening of at least four “cold” cases that involved the killings of two Bicol University (BU) students and two broadcast reporters in Camarines Sur.

Police Chief Supt. Augusto Marquez Jr., Bicol police regional director, on Saturday told the Philippines News Agency that he had directed Police Senior Supt. Marlon Tejada, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) regional chief, to reopen the unsolved killings of BU student leader Cris Hugo, another BU student Laesybil Almonacid and broadcast journalists Ronaldo Anjo Julia and Romeo Olea.

Hugo, a BU journalism student, was gunned down in March 2006 by unidentified gunman while he was walking in front of the Bagumbayan Elementary School in Barangay 8 in this city.

The BU student leader, 20, was reportedly the regional coordinator and national council member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and the Grand Chancellor of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Fraternity BU chapter.

Almonacid, a BU third year Accountancy student, was found dead and half-naked in a grassy area, a few meters from their house in Barangay (village) Bascaran, Daraga town.

Julia was gunned down by unknown gunman while walking along the street in Magarao town in Camarines Sur in August 2008.

Meanwhile, Olea was shot dead in June 2011 in Iriga City by a motorcycle riding gunman while he was also on board his motorcycle on his way to work at the dwEB-FM in Nabua, Camarines Sur.

The reopening of the cases was prompted by queries from media amid reports that authorities are still facing a blank wall in identifying the suspects and gathering pieces of evidence and testimonies from witnesses.

Marquez committed to personally oversee the resolution of the murder cases earlier considered as “cold cases.”

He explained that cold cases refer to pending criminal cases that were not resolved in a span of six months due to the failure of police investigators to track down suspects and gather testimonies of witnesses and hard evidence to pin down the suspects.

Asked if there is a given timeline for these cases, Marquez said they can not give a timeline as the cases to be reopened need to be re-investigated thoroughly.

He said the reopening of these cases will form part of the regular agenda during Special Investigation Task Group's weekly conference where we will ask updates from investigators handling the cases.

Earlier, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III slammed the PNP "for its failure to resolve the killing of student activist Cris Hugo nine years ago in this city."

Pimentel asked the PNP why the alleged killers of Hugo and his conspirators -- who, reports said, belong to a rightist group in the military -- have remained at large.

In an emailed statement, Pimentel said that unless justice is done, killing students and other political activists in the country would be like an albatross that would weigh down the positive achievements of the present administration.

He added that he will maintain a database in his office of all unsolved killings and “move to make the crime of murder imprescriptible so that killers can be brought to justice anytime a killing is solved by the police.”

The lawmaker has appealed to the police to intensify their drive to arrest the killers of activists, who reports have identified as members of paramilitary or vigilante groups. (PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/ssc

Italian, 2 others die in Albay road accident

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 28 (PNA) -- An Italian national and two others died in a multiple-vehicle accident along the Maharlika Highway in Barangay (village) Busay, Daraga, Albay at about 2:20 p.m. Friday, a report reaching the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol said Saturday.

Killed were Carol Lopez, 43, married and resident of Barangay Bonot in this city, and a certain Juvan, a truck helper from Barangay Putiao, Pilar, Sorsogon.

The two victims were pronounced dead on arrival by attending physicians of the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) here.

Tomas Tognolio, 42, married and an Italian national, died at about 1 a.m. Saturday while undergoing treatment at the same hospital, according to Senior Inspector Malu Calubaquib, PNP Bicol spokesperson.

The victims suffered fatal head and body injuries that killed them, according to attending physicians.

Eight others were reportedly injured and were taken to different hospitals in Albay.

Calubaquib said a truck (WKC 634) loaded with gravel and sand and being driven by Samson Loterte, 56, bumped the rear side of an Isuzu passenger utility jeep (PUJ) driven by Warren Magdasoc, 35.

The PUJ lost its control when hit by the truck, veered at the opposite direction and collided head-on with the Misubishi Montero (WBQ 949) with Tognolio on the steering wheel and Lopez as passenger.

Police investigators said the gravel and sand truck and the Isuzu jeep were negotiating the Maharlika Highway on their way to Daraga town proper while the Montero SUV and the Isuzu truck were traveling at the opposite direction towards Camalig town. (PNA) /FGS/MSA/EMC/CBD/ssc