Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NPA rebels gun down new police officer in Sorsogon amid Pili Festival celebration

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, June 29 (PNA) -- New People's Army (NPA) rebels shot dead a new police officer who was on routine security duty during the Pili Festival celebration and procession in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in front of the Capitol Park, Rizal St., Barangay Burabod, Sorsogon City.

A report identified the victim as PO1 Rolly Dollentas, assigned with Community Police Assistance Center (CPAC) 3, Sorsogon City Police Station, and resident of the city.

The report reaching Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Bicol police regional director, said two young-looking rebels, aged about 15-20 years old and armed with .45-caliber pistols, approached Dollentas and shot him on his head and body.

Dollentas' companion, PO3 Rhea Laganzo, was stunned by the speed of the execution but was able to draw her gun.

Laganzo, however, could not fire at the assailants due to the presence of a dense crowd, among which the killers blended.

The suspects made good their escape by boarding a motorcycle and sped off.

Laganzo rushed Dollentas to the Sorsogon Doctors Hospital but her fellow officer died on the way.

The rebels failed to get Dollentas' service firearm, which is now in the custody of his superior. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD/EBP

Lahar flows along Bulusan Volcano channels feared
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, June 29 (PNA) -- Authorities on Monday expressed fear of lahar flows along river channels in case of heavy and sustained rains.

To be affected are Ranggas Channel in Barangay Aniog, Juban town, and Cogon Channel in Barangay Cogon in Irosin.

Henry Imperial, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) research assistant specialist based in Barangay Cabid-an, Sorsogon City, said heavy rains will surely carry the old and new ash deposits brought about by the explosions on May 1 up to June 23.

Imperial said that although the new deposits are still not huge, the old ones were large enough to cause the lahar threats.

He warned villagers living near the affected river channels to be on alert and be always ready to move to safe place in case of heavy rains.

Dr. Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, said the rains being experienced in the area are due to thunder storms.

Although these are strong, Laguerta said, these could not bring strong lahar flows.

What is threatening are strong and sustained rains in the area of the volcano, he added.

Engineer Raden Dimaano, Sorsogon Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said his office has already pre-positioned food supply in the three towns of Sorsogon where the threats from the Bulusan Volcano are most feared -- Irosin, Juban and Bulusan.

Dimaano also assured the public of enough supply of medicines that the villagers need in case they would be affected by Bulusan’s abnormal situation.

Despite these threats, however, the situation in the province is generally normal, he said.

No volcanic quake was registered in the past 24-hour observation period. (PNA) FFC/FGS/NIM/CBD/EBP

3 pumping stations for Legazpi flood control project 65-percent complete -- Rosal
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, June 29 (PNA) -- One of the most-awaited components of the flood control project of the City Government of Legazpi will soon be enjoyed by the Legazpeños because almost 65 percent of the civil works of the three pumping stations have been completed already, Mayor Noel E. Rosal said Monday.

Rosal said the three pieces of pumping equipment have been installed already at the 4,000-square-meter area Tibu River in Barangay San Roque, at the 400-square-meter location in Victory Village and at the 400-square-meter site in Barangay Baybay.

He said he is very optimistic this project will become operational this coming September and the contractor is just finalizing the pumping facilities in Victory Village, whose affected residents will be relocated to pave the way for water to flow out to the Albay Gulf.

In the next three months, the so-called “Jetty” facility will be constructed near the mouth of the Tibu River Channel in Barangay San Roque, which is designed to prevent the entry of sand bar that could cause the clogging of river, Rosal said.

He pointed out that these three pumping stations are the ultimate solution to the flooding problem in this city, which affects almost 80 percent of the total population in the city proper during rainy season and high tide.

“These pumping equipment will give us more business activities that will surely result in the continuous economic growth because Legazpi will be converted into an all-weather city,” the chief executive said.

This anti-flood control facilities will serve as a welcome addition to the many landmarks established by the present city administration, he added.

“It is the best structure that other local government units need to establish, especially those localities that always suffer from flooding problems. This kind of project is also a testament that even if one locality is below sea level, there is a solution to the perennial flooding through a good infrastructure program,” Rosal pointed out.

He said he is very thankful to the administration of President Aquino for giving Legazpi City PHP2.1-billion budget, which is considered one of the biggest funds in an anti-flood control project outside Metro Manila.

The civil works of this project are being supervised by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Bicol Regional Office in cooperation with Legazpi City Engineering Office.

These include the flood control structures along Tibu and Macabalo rivers to serve as the waterways and also the rehabilitation of canals in the main thoroughfare, which removed the old-type culvert canals and replaced these with the new box-type canals.

The project also involves the improvements and construction of flood control dikes, drainage system and sea wall.

Rosal said the operational expenses and other maintenance of these pumping stations will cost at least PHP10 million yearly and it will be shouldered by the city administration.

He said that through this project the flooding problem will be controlled, especially in Barangays Oro Site, Peñaranda, Cabangan, San Roque, Sabang, Lapu-Lapu and other low-lying areas of the city.

The three pumping stations will be closed during continuous rains and high tide and, at the same time, flood waters from the slope of Mount Mayon and other sources of waters from the nearby Municipality of Daraga will be pumped out into the Albay Gulf.

The pumping facilities will be the first flood mitigating structure in the Bicolandia, patterned after the project of the Japan International cooperation Agency (JICA) with a capacity of throwing out three cubic meters of flood waters per second.

Rosal said all the garbage and other waste materials in the rivers will go directly to the trash rake, be filtered by the trash conveyor and go to the trash hopper.

Out of the PHP2.1-billion budget, the national government, under the General Appropriations Act (GAA), has already released already PHP1.39 billion to the DPWH-Bicol for the civil works of the project.

In 2012, the Aquino administration released PHP500 million, followed by PHP300 million in 2013, PHP290 million in 2014 and PHP300 million this year.

The city’s anti-flood control program materialized through the project study prepared by the city administration in 2009.

The study was submitted to Malacañang in 2010.

At the same year, the city administration entered into a contract with Vergel Colsult and Joint Venture (Schema United Technologies Colsult), a private consultancy firm based in Metro Manila which also conducted a study on the Master Flood Control Program of the city. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EPS/CBD/EDS

Friday, June 26, 2015

BU to give incentives to Nursing board exam topnotchers

LEGAZPI CITY, June 25 (PNA) -- The Bicol University's (BU) College of Nursing is organizing a motorcade and testimonial party for Benedict Rey Montas Serrano, who placed No. 1 in the Nursing Licensure Examination (NLE) and other topnotchers and passers of the school.

Emerlinda E. Alcala, dean of the college, said that on July 9, in time for their 41st College Foundation Day, members of the college community will be roaming around the central areas of Legazpi City and Daraga town with the topnotchers and passers.

She said that in the usual anniversary celebration, they conduct motorcade only around the Albay district to the Bicol University Campus but this time they would like to go around a wider area.

“Since I entered in this college in 1988, this is the first time that we have had a Top 1, so this really calls for a big celebration and thanksgiving. We, with my 29 teaching staff members, are so thankful that they have given us very high honors, not only by passing but also by having very high passing percentage,” she said.

Alcala said their faculty and staff are more encouraged to teach their present students.

“They are very happy to continue teaching, this is a lifelong endeavor so what we have today may be passed on to the future generations,” she added.

In the May 2015 NLE, 102 of 106 examinees passed, with 96.23-percent passing rate, causing the university to be listed in the Top 5 Best Performing Nursing Schools based on the results.

Alcala said all the topnotchers will be given financial incentives and recognition based on the board resolution by the university.

As a former professor of Serrano in some subject areas, Alcala remembered him as a silent worker.

“He was really a silent worker. If you asked him, he participated but he was not the type of person who always raised his hands in the class. I always reminded him to maintain his good performance then,” he said.

The head of the college also pledged to help Serrano in finding a scholarship for medical school by asking the alumni to grant him.

Serrano said yesterday that he was hoping for a scholarship opportunity after topping the NLE. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MAM/CBD/EDS

DOH steps up health monitoring in villages around Mt. Bulusan

LEGAZPI CITY, June 25 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol is investigating if the three reported cases of respiratory illness, specifically asthma, in the town of Bulusan were caused by the ash spewed by Mount Bulusan since May 1 this year, a top DOH official said Thursday.

Dr. Emilia Monicimpo, DOH OIC-director, said personnel of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Sorsogon, Municipal Health Office of Bulusan and DOH-Bicol regional office are conducting surveillance of the health condition of residents in the town and its nearby villages.

The surveillance team will determine how many indeed acquired respiratory illness due to ash fall emitted by the volcano as reported earlier by media.

Monicimpo said the agency has scaled up its effort in preventing the rise of illness related to volcanic ash.

Some Php100,000 worth of drugs and medicines were given to the PHO and MHO as augmentation supply for this operation to eventually prepare them to address health concerns of residents in communities affected by the Bulusan eruption, she said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and Office of Civil Defense aerial survey over Mount Bulusan on Wednesday found only thin new layers of ash in the vents and slopes of the Bulusan Volcano.

The survey, however, discovered significant volume of lahar deposits that would trigger lahar flows in times of heavy rains.

After emitting ash columns into the air for about six times this month, the Bulusan Volcano on Thursday stayed calm as Phivolcs seismic network did not detect any volcanic earthquake for the past 24 hours.

Slight bulging at the volcano’s edifice was noted during a precise leveling survey, the Phivolcs bulletin said.

Alert level 1 (abnormal) remains in effect, meaning the public is not allowed to enter the 4-km Permanent Danger Zone due to sudden phreatic explosions.

The bulletin also warned residents living along river and stream channels, especially on the southwest and northwest sectors of the edifice, against lahar flows in the event of heavy and prolonged rainfall. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS

Legazpi to send delegation to promote local tourism among Filipinos in US
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 25 (PNA) -– A two-man delegation will be sent abroad by the local government here to spread the good news among Filipinos in the United States (US) about the city’s being one of the best places in the Philippines to visit nowadays.

The delegation, which will head for Florida to attend the 34th Annual Convention of Bicolano National Association of America (BNAA) at Miami (South, Florida) on July 10-12, will be composed of Vice-mayor Vittorio Roces and Councilor Allan Rañola, chair of the city legislative council’s committee on tourism.

“We will be there on invitation by the BNAA to their 34th Annual Convention which will be hosted by the Bicol Association of South Florida (BASF) at the Bayanihan Arts and Events Center located at Tampa, Florida,” Roces told the Philippines News Agency here on Thursday.

The invitation, signed by BNAA president-elect Helen Piloneo, is an offshoot of the successful hosting by the city government of the association’s 33rd Annual Convention at the Oriental Hotel and Resort here in July 19-21 last year which was attended by over 500 representatives from the organization’s various chapters across the Continental USA.

In the Florida trip, Roces said, he and Rañola will be presenting to the BNAA and all convention delegates, expected at around 10,000 Bicolanos presently living in the US, the tourism development gains that the city has achieved over years of hard work by the city government in partnership with other industry stakeholders.

“We want our fellow Bicolanos there to visit the city and stay here during their vacations or homecomings for them to see for themselves and experience why Legazpi is now known in the travel industry world as the City of Fun and Adventure and one of the three most livable cities in the Philippines, next to Iloilo,” Roces said.

The “fun and adventure” moniker of the city was achieved through a successful promotion campaign that featured exciting and adventurous ecotourism experiences that the city offers to tourists amid the shadows of the majestic Mt. Mayon.

“Indeed, the city government has specialized in eco-tourism and action tourism, providing the combinations of safety, adventure, fun and comfortable facilities that make the industry such an exciting proposition today,” Roces said.

The stimulating new horizons in tourism in the city’s outskirts allow visitors to push themselves to new levels of adventure and endurance while soaking up natural marvels and dramatic cultural attractions from the natural world, he said.

The city has great comparative advantage in this sector, based on several assets—guaranteed peace and order, healthful environment, hospitable communities and a base of powerful cultural attractions plus a wide range of very different, often stunning natural environments that are easily accessible and virtually undiscovered by the tourism industry.

Roces said quality hotels and restaurants throughout the city mean that thrill-seekers who want to pamper themselves in-between the adventure treks and fun engagements have a wide range of facilities to choose from.

Nature enthusiasts, according to him, have many options in the city: the magnificent Mayon that offers a silent drama of mountaineering; ATV (all-terrain vehicle) rides around its lava-laden rugged terrain; or burying feet at the fine black volcanic sand bordering its beaches with enticing waters that provide relaxing interludes.

Besides, the sparkling lower slopes surrounding of the Mayon, the world’s most perfect cone-shaped volcano beckon hikers who seek new adventures over unconquered terrains, he said, adding that all of these await tourists in a 24/7 manner.

Legazpi’s most livable city title, on the other hand, was earned when it won last year the second slot in the Livable City Challenge initiated by the United States Assistance for International Development (USAID) through the National Competitive Commission (NCC), APEC 2015 National Organizing Council (NOC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction (ASSURE) and Asia Society and Urban Land Institute (ULI).

The contest, which required competing cities to come up with strategic vision and plan for a resilient and livable city and in developing an APEC meeting venue, was aimed at getting city planners across the Philippines to be more aware and better prepared for disaster-risk reduction.

The city will be hosting two of the series of 2015 APEC conferences -- the Meeting/Workshop on Rebuilding Resilient Infrastructure to be held on July 23-24 and the Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum on Sept. 14-15.

Both events will be held at the Oriental Hotel, a plush resort-hotel located on a hillside fronting Mt. Mayon from a distance of some 15 kilometers and overlooking the scenic cityscape and the picturesque Albay Gulf.

In the Livable City Challenge, the city government came up with a strategic plan for a highly resilient and livable city featuring a safe and green environment aimed at sustaining good public health which impressed the search judges.

The plan, themed “Healthy City, Happy City” presents far-reaching innovations that inspire a more dynamic development of the city into a very safe and healthy locality for its people and visitors, as well.

The plan was based on the peculiarity of the city in refusing to go down on its knees amid past natural disasters, and raising fast and sparkling once again as Bicol Region’s most exciting place to visit and stay.

Roces said that convincing the BNAA or some of its business-minded members to put up investments in tourism in the city is another purpose of their attendance.

“As you can see around, Legazpi is now an investment haven with all those high-rise and elegant commercial establishments that have sprouted in just a matter of about seven years. The city has also emerged as the convention capital of Luzon with its playing host to dozens of grand gatherings, both national and international on a yearly basis,” he added. (PNA) LAP/RCK/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Army gives livelihood project to CAFGU men
By John Mark Escandor

PILI, Camarines Sur, June 25 (PNA) -- The Philippine Army made a stride in organizing the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) with the provision of livelihood project to uplift its members' economic condition.

The CAFGU is considered a force multiplier and a regular unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Ryan Bonite, 22, a resident of far-flung village in Tigaon town, is among the 4,000 CAFGU members being alleviated by the formation of a multi-purpose cooperative that the Army’s 22nd Infantry Battalion started last year.

Bonite said before his enlistment into the CAFGU battalion, his life was nothing but full of misery with no hope in sight to end the gnawing poverty his farming family experienced every day.

He graduated from high school in their village but, he said, his educational attainment could not land him any decent job.

More so, his pockets were always empty to even afford him to leave their village to apply for a job in the town center.

“Any where I turned, it seemed to be I am on a dead end and cursed to live in abject poverty in my lifetime,” Bonite said.

He said his life started to make a different turn when a friend encouraged him to join the CAFGU in 2012 -- and then he made it when he passed the basic military training.

Mark Joseph Ronato, 27, another member of the same CAFGU battalion, tells the same story as that of Bonite.

His enlistment has turned his life around from hopelessness to something to hope for.

Both of them and the rest of the CAFGU members now look forward that every end of the month they receive remuneration from the government, which somehow makes a big difference from their previous situation of nothing to look forward to in any day of the month.

As CAFGU members, Bonite and Ronato perform their duties for the AFP for 15 days and the rest of the days of the months, they are free to work on their farms or do work for their families.

They are receiving Php4,500 and make both ends meet with their work outside the AFP.

“The CAFGU is part of the regular reserve force and not a paramilitary unit convened only for counterinsurgency. It is integrated into the military chain of command and is subject to all applicable military laws, rules, and regulations,” according to Herman Joseph S. Kraft, assistant professor of Political Science of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Since the CAFGU belongs to the AFP Reserve Force, the government and the AFP reject the characterization of the CAFGU as either a militia or paramilitary unit, Kraft added.

Lt. Col. Andrew Costelo, the commanding officer of the 22nd IB, said CAFGU members belong to CAFGU Active Auxilliary (CAA) who were selected and screened from the communities and must have clean records.

“CAAs are composed of courageous civilian volunteers who signified to be part of the territorial forces in securing their local communities against the lawless elements that foster threat in their locality. Hence, they are part-time soldiers who act as force multiplier to the regular Army forces in the region. Majority of the said group belongs to the poor families in their respective communities,” Costelo said.

He said the battalion leadership fully understands the implication of the small allowance the CAFGU members receive so that they devised a way for them to earn additional income and support to their families.

1Lt. Joash Pramis, civil military operations officer, said they have transformed the CAFGU into a multi-purpose cooperative registered as Valor Multi-purpose Cooperative.

Pramis said the cooperative started with about Php500,000 capital collected as membership fees from the members of the CAFGU battalion.

He said the cooperative provides members of cheaper basic commodities and soft loans with low interest at 2.5 percent and deductible from their monthly allowances.

Ronato said the cooperative has weaned him away from loan sharks whom he used to run to whenever he is in dire need of cash since he sends a sibling to college.

Master Sergeant Candido Gapang, chairman of Valor Multi-purpose Cooperative, said they started the cooperative in the first week of September last year.

Gapang said they had to go through the learning process wherein they had to temper the expectations from the members of getting immediate benefits in terms of dividends.

He said that through values formation they were able to put the frame of mind of the members to the proper cooperative orientation which fueled the success of their operation so far after almost a year in operation.

Pramis said that aside from the cooperative development, the CAFGU battalion is implementing livelihood programs in coordination with government agencies that provide livelihood training and income-generating skills to CAFGU members and their families.

He said 213 CAFGU men and their family members have been given training in organic fertilizer making, organic farming, cooking, and food processing.

“The Army leadership not only inculcates sense and direction to the life of CAFGU members but it aslo fully changes their way of life. They turn idle life into a meaningful one, incapable individuals to productive members of the society and dreams into reality,” Costelo said.

He added that “uplifting and changing one’s life is harder than fighting our enemies in the battlefield. Here in our battalion, we just not teach how to win over our enemies but more on winning life’s challenges.”(PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD/

DA earmarks Php48-M farm machineries for Bicol agrarian reform beneficiaries
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 25 (PNA) –- A total of 120 units of farm machineries worth Php48 million is set for distribution to organized groups of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Bicol.

These perks will come from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) regional office here under its Agrarian Reform Communities Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS), a program of the agency under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III that aims to improve farm productivity and earning capabilities of ARBs.

With ARCCESS, DAR aims to transform ARBs into viable entrepreneurs by providing them with support services to enhance their farming capabilities and increase their income, Agrarian Reform Bicol Regional Director Luis Bueno Jr. on Thursday said.

This, he said, is in line with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform (CARPER).

The farm machines -- consisting of corn shellers, hand tractors, power tillers, floating tillers, threshers, reapers, water pumps and sprayers -- will be turned over to qualified Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) composed of farmers tilling farms acquired through the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), Bueno said.

“They will have them as soon as these pre-identified ARBOs have complied with the needed requirements—one of which is that each ARBO must have a warehouse to serve as storage for these farm machines,” he stressed.

He said this will not be the first time that the DAR will be distributing farm machineries and equipment to ARBs in Bicol since the program was started more than two years ago as in early 2013, wherein the department first released various sets of agricultural implements, including farm tractors to ARBOs in the region.

The project, Bueno said, was not only dispersal of common service facilities (CSF) like mechanized farming equipment but also a government effort towards providing ARBs a window for business, livelihood opportunities and economic growth and seeing to it that they are provided with assistance to sustain their livelihood by improving the organizational capacities of ARBOs in agri-enterprise development.

Among the early recipients of the equipment are the Bicol Sugar Coconut Planters Association (BISUCOPA) based in Pili town, Pinit Irrigators Association (Pinia) in Ocampo and Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Tinawagan (Alamat) Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Tigaon.

Other recipients were the Bayanihan Savings Replication Organization (BSRO) of Del Gallego, Camarines Sur , Quepotol Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (QFMPC) based in Milaor town and San Agustin-San Ramon Farmer’s Cooperative, Inc. (SARFC) of Bula.

Also part of the ARCCESS program is the provision of comprehensive business training programs to officials and members of ARBOs who are given learning on business etiquette, marketing assistance, accounting and financial management, credit funds and guarantee programs, among others, Bueno said.

Another ARCCESS-assisted project in Bicol is the commercial production of coconut-based vinegar and amino sauce.

The ARBO in Labo, Camarines Norte started early this year with this undertaking which will later be radiated to other areas in the region to boost their earning capabilities and enhance the commercial production of these coconut-based products.

The assistance given by DAR to this project, Bueno said, was composed of the provision of processing equipment such as an acetator set composed of large-sized jacketed kettle, high pressure burner, storage drum, compressor, digital PH meter, large blue carbon containers, double burner gas stove with pre-loaded LPG cylinder tank, working tables, hot air gun for bottle sealing and bottle caps—all worth about Php200,000.

Coconut vinegar or “sukang niyog” is similar to other fermented vinegar such as apple cider and balsamic vinegar.

It can either be made with coconut water or from the sap, or "tuba," of the coconut tree to come up through a fermentation process with a white and cloudy food additive with a very pungent acidic taste and a hint of yeast.

It is a food supplement appropriate for diabetic patients, as it is very low on the glycemic index, which categorizes carbohydrate-containing foods by how much they raise blood sugar level.

Natural coconut vinegar that contains no artificial preservatives is rich in vitamins and alkalising minerals like potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and sodium and also contains anti-oxidants which makes this natural food such a great part of one’s diet for the benefits it provides.

Coconut amino sauce, on the other hand, is made from raw coconut tree sap and sun-dried sea salt that is naturally aged to come up with a condiment that catches on as a potential alternative to soy sauce.

It contains a higher level of 17 amino acids, which may contribute to heart health, digestive health, and mood stabilization.

It is also rich in vitamins B and C, and various minerals.

Bueno said the all-natural coco vinegar and amino sauce are among the ARBO’s products commended by the Asian Development Bank Review Mission during its recent visit in Camarines Norte.

Before the delivery of the equipment to the Labo ARBO, the DAR, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry, conducted various technology training for its members that provided them “Learning Expedition for Coco Vinegar and Coco Toyo” processing, packaging and marketing, he added. (PNA) LAP/RCK/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Albay joins world in Arbor Day celebration
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, June 25 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government of Albay headed by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda joins the world in the celebration of the World Arbor Day Thursday.

The occasion is focused on the massive planting of seedlings in the entire province.

Former board member Arnold Embestro, head of the Environment and Natural Resources Group-Provincial Office, said the activity is in line with the all-out efforts of the province to lessen the impact of climate change.

Embestro said a special activity is being held at the schools in Barangays Bulusan, Bonbon and Familia Sagrada in Libon town with the full participation of students and their parents, who will plant pili seedlings.

Each planted seedling will be named after the student who will plant it.

In this connection, all field offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the six provinces of the Bicol Region will have similar activities. The World Arbor Day celebration is centered on the theme "We plant, We harvest". The celebation is also a part of the observance of Environment Month in June, with the DENR spearheading.

The World Arbor Day celebration in the country is based on Proclamation No. 643, series of 2004: Declaring every June 25 as Philippines Arbor Day and Proclamation No. 396, series of 2003: Declaring June 25, 2003 as Philippines Arbor Day.

Based on these proclamations, all government agencies are required to actively participated in the occasion, together with government-owned and -controlled corporations, private sector, schools, civil society organizations and the public in general.

Arbor Day started in the City of Nebraska in Nebraska, United States in 1872. (PNA) LAP/RCK/FGS/NIM/CBD/

PNP-Bicol chief disappointed with mis-encounter probe result, calls CIDG to handle the case

LEGAZPI CITY, June 25 (PNA) -- Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Philippine National Police (PNP)-Bicol police chief, on Thursday said he is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation on the mis-encounter incident between Army troopers and a team of local PNP members last month in Barangay Maslog here that claimed the life of a police officer and the wounding of another.

Deona said he has trashed out the report because it did not contain relevant discussions and recommendations that would pinpoint who indeed was responsible for the mis-encounter.

“I find the report sloppy, one-sided and indecisive,” he said.

The report, according to him, contains testimonies from the policemen as the members of the investigating team failed to get the side of the Army men who were involved in the mis-encounter.

“As an investigating body, its members should have gone and secured the testimonies of the Army soldiers involved in the botched clash,” Deona said.

While the report recommendation was not decisive, it contains tentative bases that suggest that the final decision would be in the hands of the police regional director, he said.

Deona believes that “The report failed to arrive at a logical discussion that will arrive at a logical conclusion.”

Unsatisfied with the investigation report conducted the the PNP Albay office, Deona turned over the case to the regional Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

In an interview, he said he has asked the CIDG that the “no whitewash” probe is still the order, "dig out who was responsible, what were the lapses and look for civil and criminal liabilities; what is important is to bring justice to the victim.”

The PNP-Bicol chief also called for an immediate case conference with Army Col. Raul Farnacio, commander of the 901st Infantry Brigade, and Lt. Col. Perfecto Penaredondo, commander of the 21st Infantry Battalion.

It is expected that the Army will also submit its own investigation report and this report will be consolidated by the CIDG and a joint PNP-Army investigation report will be submitted by the end of the month.

Earlier, Deona ordered a full investigation on the reported mis-encounter between the members of the PNP and a squad of Philippine Army soldiers that killed a cop and wounded another in Sitio (sub-village) San Jose, Barangay (village) Maslog,here.

The mis-encounter that lasted for 45-minutes led to the killing of PO3 Rene Balaguer and the wounding of PO2 Ronald Bondal -- both members of the 16-man Albay PPSC team.(PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD

Salceda: Albay now on last phase of 'main thing' growth strategy
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, June 26 (PNA) -- Like the popular NBA champion Golden State Warriors, Albay employs a game plan centered on the “main thing” strategy in each of its three growth phases from 2007 to 2016, and then beyond, to complete a victorious economic transformation.

Governor Joey Salceda said Albay is now reaping the initial fruits from its plan having finished two of its three-phase strategy, and is now well on its third stage towards the 2016 deadline, beyond which it will “rock its way further towards victory.”

Salceda compares Albay’s winning development strategy with that of his favorite NBA team -- the Golden State Warriors whose head coach, Steve Kerr, executed a plan centered on the “main thing” concept or “play small” strategy which sealed his team’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The game plan, according to Salceda, is “equivalent to what AIM (Asian Institute of Management) professors taught me - UNA COSA or the single most important factor or key driving force to an organization or an event.” Albay’s three growth stages represent Salceda’s three consecutive terms as Albay governor.

From 2007-2010, with the province being regularly mauled by calamities, Salceda’s administration bannered the Albay Mabuhay program focused on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (DRR-CCA) as its “main thing,” with significant results.

For his second term, 2010-2013, under the “Albay Rising” theme, Salceda sealed the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in education and health. In his current 3014-2016 term with “Albay Boom” as theme, the “main thing” focus is tourism plus high value crops and small and medium size enterprises, especially in value-added processing.

Salceda has already set the stage for the “Albay Rocks” phase beyond his three terms, with a triumvirate of infrastructures-- the Southern Luzon International Airport in Daraga town, the Southline Railways, and the Southern Luzon Expressway Extension from Lucena to Legazpi City.

Also lined up are the Megabridges from Cagraray to Batan islands and Batan to Rapurapu mainland town. The governor will run for congressman of Albay’s 2nd district in 2016, where he will pursue the cityhood of Daraga and Polangui towns.

Albay’s successes in Albay Mabuhay, Albay Rising and Albay Boom, are overwhelming: Three Gawad Kalasag Awards and a Hall of Fame niche for DRR/CCA from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council; two Galing Pook Awards, and a Gawad Pamana ng Lahi Award as best province for three consecutive years from the Department of Interior and Local Government.

The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has declared Albay as its DRR/CCA Global Model and Salceda as its Senior Global Champion. Albay was also cited as a model province of the Department of Agriculture-World Bank - Philippine Rural Development Project. The governor was likewise conferred an Outstanding Filipino Award.

Albay has increased its irrigated rice lands from 17,000 to 19,433 hectares; hiked palay harvest from 147,000 metric tons in 2008 to 228,000 metric tons in 2014; became the second biggest camote producer in the country, more than doubled its Pili nut plantation from 1,200 to 2,972 hectares; tripled mangrove area from 700 to 2,400 hectares, and expanded forest cover by 88% from 26,000 to 44,000 hectares.

Under the MDGs, Albay became Malaria- and Filariasis-free in 2008 and 2012, respectively; modernized health facilities and cut down maternal mortality rate from 87% in 2006 to 33% in 2013; reduced malnutrition from 21% in 2006 to 14% recently; and hiked Philhealth membership to 173,262.

Albay’s rank in the National Achievement Test likewise rose from 177th in 2007 to 19th in 2012. It has set up the Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme (AHECS) to ensure at least one college graduate in every Albayano family with a present roster of 188,000 graduates up from 34,000 in 2007. Some 77,137 college students have availed of educational assistance under AHECS.

For “Albay Boom,” the province was declared the country’s fastest growing tourism destination in 2013 with 330,000 foreign arrivals, up from only 8,700 in 2006. Salceda was recently conferred the first Tourism Star Philippines Award by the Department of Tourism. (PNA) LAM/JCN/EDS

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bulusan Volcano spews ash anew
By Nanacy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) -- Mt. Bulusan emitted ash anew at about 11:08 p.m Tuesday but the emission was weak and small, Dr Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology resident volcanologist, said Wednesday.

Laguerta said the mild explosion was registered at their seismic instrument but was not seen or felt due to the very weak activity.

Aside from this, it was dark and cloudy on Tuesday night.

However, in this condition of the volcano, he said, one can expect a series of phreatic explosions.

The veteran volcanologist said that since Bulusan's first display of abnormality on May 1, the Phivolcs has already registered eight explosions.

On May 1, the agency posted one explosion, two on May 6, and five this June (16, 19, 21 and Tuesday night).

Laguerta said the strong explosions occurred on Mayo 6 and June 19, with the last one spewing 1.5-kilometer-high ash column.

He said the lahar flow along the river channels of the volcano on Tuesday, particularly in Barangay Cogon in Irosin town, is just small as a result of overflowing of the river.

"The mudflow was contained within the river channel," the Phivolcs official said.

Laguerta explained that the lahar flow on Tuesday was just caused by rains brought about by thunderstorms that lasted for only two hours.

If there would be heavy and sustained rains in the Bulusan area, he said, these would carry down not only the new ash deposits but also those deposited along the slopes during the previous explosions.

The scientist stressed the need for an aerial survey over the volcano, which did not push through on Tuesday, to determine the amount of materials deposited at its summit, adding that heavy lahar flows would be very damaging to the villagers and communities around the Bulusan volcano. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/EDS

Comelec-Bicol to intensify satellite biometrics registration

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) -- Voters were urged by Commission on Elections (Comelec) Bicol to have their biometrics taken for registration in the 2016 national and local polls.

Biometrics refers to the automated identification of an individual, particularly his/her photograph, fingerprint, and signature.

If a voter has not had his/her biometrics taken, it would lead to deactivation of registration and he/she cannot vote in 2016 even if he/she had already voted in previous elections.

Romeo Serrano, Comelec regional executive director, said they will intensify the campaign to meet the deadline for the registration.

Among the regions in the country, Bicol landed 4th with most numbers of the voters who still have no biometrics -- reaching 362,869.

Serrano said this July, they will be utilizing different provincial offices to conduct satellite registrations in rural barangays to speed up the process.

“This July, we target to invade all the rural areas in all provinces and we will proceed to different colleges and universities for the information drive. We want to ask at least five minutes of their time to have their biometrics taken. We are targeting at least 95 percent if not 100-percent registration until the Oct. 31 deadline,” he said.

Serrano said the public can check if they have biometrics through the Comelec website http://www.comelec.gov.ph , by clicking the “Without Biometrics” under “Voter Registration” icon where they can view the lists of names who need to activate their data. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MAM/CBD/EDS

Legazpi files Php4-M damage suit vs Vietnamese vessel owner

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) -- The city government of Legazpi on Wednesday filed a civil case for damages against Hoang Anh Shipping, the owner of the Vietnamese vessel MV Ocean 3, City Mayor Noel Rosal said.

In an interview Wednesday, Rosal said he has instructed lawyer Marietta Belgica, city legal officer, to file the case at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) here in order prevent the vessel from leaving port.

Rosal said the civil suit will also demand the settlement of Php4 million in damages as a result of negligence of the vessel when it ran aground and plowed on Monday 1,200 meters of structural and superficial coral reef along the Pulang Buya, or Demson Reef, at the Albay Gulf, some four kilometers from this city.

Belgica said she filed the case at around 2:00 p.m. Wednesday at the RTC in Barangay Rawis, and paid the corresponding filing fee of Php78,780.00.

She said the case would be raffled on Thursday and, according to her, she hopes to get from the court handling the case a “writ of preliminary attachment” or a temporary restraining order (TRO) holding the vessel at the port while the case is being heard.

When asked if the city government has a strong case against the Hoang Anh Shipping, Belgica said they have the documents, including the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) survey assessment of the damages wrought by the vessel to the Pulang Buya, a four-hectare shallow reef and a marine protected area at the Albay Gulf.

Jesus Kallos, city agriculturist, said in a phone interview that they have a strong case but still there are protocols that have to be followed, including legal and diplomatic issues to be addressed.

"We have the pertinent documents that is now with the city legal officer including the technical opinion of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources regarding the matter,” Kallos said.

Maximo Paraiso, Coast Guard quarter master, said it was a navigational mistake when the vessel ship captain erred while maneuvering the cargo ship and did not follow the right course.

The cargo vessel, with 4,532 gross tonnages and manned by 21 Vietnamese crewmen, reportedly had departed from the city port after unloading tons of imported rice from Vietnam when it ran aground and damaged the city’s coral reefs.

Meanwhile, a prankster who claims to be Environment Secretary Ramon Paje called up Rosal to facilitate the settlement of the case.

Rosal, however, was quick enough to recognize that the caller was not Paje, a Bicolano, when during the conversation, the mayor asked the latter in the local dialect (Guinobatenio) about the case and the caller always talked back in Filipino.

Belgica said the prankster also called her and offered to facilitate the case on condition that if the city government settles for Php3 million in damages, then she gets Php1 million.

She said the Hoang Anh Shipping represented by Aquila Maritime Business Inc. and Pandiman Philippines Inc offered in an email message an amount of Php1 million for the settlement of the alleged damages incurred to the coral reefs and its rehabilitation.

The city legal officer said the proposal was outrightly rejected by the city government, then the Aquila raised the amount to Php2.5 million.

Belgica immediately responded that the city government would come across if the amount be paid in full as stipulated in the demand letter sent to the owner of Ocean 3.

The Vietnamese cargo vessel is still on “ship arrest” or being held by the Coast Guard after the vessel could not produce an assessment or certificate of seaworthiness following the run- aground incident.

A private surveyor from a classification society conducted an underwater hull inspection to determine the seaworthiness of the said vessel. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD/

Albay to present best practices in 2015 International Confab on Family Planning
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Jun 24 (PNA) – The Provincial government of Albay, for the first time, will present its best practices in the 2015 International Conference on Family Planning to be held in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, on Nov. 9-12 to highlight its interventions with children and women during emergency or calamities.

Of more than 2000 abstracts submitted to the conference committee, Albay is one of the successful candidates accepted to present both oral and poster the best practice entitled Integrating Minimum Initial Service Package in DRRM Plan of Local Government submitted by the Albay AIDS Council.

The abstract demonstrates the intervention of the provincial government of Albay in responding the needs of vulnerable groups like children, lactating/ pregnant women, elders and persons with disabilities during emergency, especially at the evacuation camps.

This approach is called the Minimum Initial Services Package wherein immediate needs of sectors are properly addressed. Included also in the services is the assurance of zero gender-based violence against children, women or any individual while at the evacuation camps.

Provisions of hygiene kits, breastfeeding room, psychosocial activities for children, availability of family planning commodities for current users and 24/7 health staff at the evacuation centers.

The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) has brought together the family planning community to share best practices, celebrate successes, and chart a course forward. The first conference was held in Kampala, Uganda, in 2009 and convened more than 1,300 participants around the topic of family planning for the first time in 20 years, sparking positive change for family planning policies in Uganda.

With more than 2,200 participants, the second conference was held in 2011 in Dakar, Senegal, and highlighted family planning issues in Francophone, Africa.

The 2013 ICFP drew more than 3,500 attendees to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The 2015 ICFP will be held in Indonesia, a country that has successfully proved its leadership in innovative family planning programming.

Indonesia’s national family planning initiatives doubled the contraceptive prevalence rate to nearly 60 percent between 1976 and 2002 and decreased the fertility rate by half.

The Indonesian government is now committed to revitalizing the country’s national family planning program to improve on the progress that has slowed since 2002.

The country has quadrupled its budget allocation for family planning, from USD 65.9 million in 2006 to USD 263.7 million in 2014, which will enable better health worker training and the provision of free family planning services through the country’s new universal health care system.

The 2015 ICFP will be co-hosted by the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BkkbN) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

This year’s conference is expected to draw the largest number of attendants yet, and the ICFP will help shape and influence the role and contributions of family planning in attaining the new sustainable development goals.

The ICFP is more than a conference, as it is a movement and a platform for strategic inflection points in the family planning agenda.

The theme for 2015 is Global Commitments, Local Actions.

Each day of the conference will feature a plenary session focused on a different track theme.

The tracks will feature issue-oriented themes, such as: addressing youth needs and involvement; rights and quality of care: true improvements or lip service; the demographic dividend: how south-to-south exchanges can help its realization; implementation best practices (IBP); advancing FP through faith organizations; FP2020 progress and challenges; innovations in financing (GFF, Universal Health Care); and accountability and advocacy.

Since the first international conference on family planning in 2009, the issue has gained a lot of momentum.

The London Summit on Family Planning took place on July 11, 2012, and 69 countries made commitments to family planning.

Many countries have held their own family planning symposia to develop strategies to achieve commitments made during the London Summit.

The ICFP provides a platform to highlight successes that have been achieved in family planning around the world as well as hurdles that still need to be addressed. (PNA) RMA/FGS/MDR/CBD

Masbate City’s Lapay Bantigue bags championship crown in Bicol festivals showdown
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) – Lapay Bantigue dancers, in colorful getup, performed with astonishing grace and exceptional show of treasured culture to capture for Masbate City this year’s championship crown in Bicol’s showdown of festivals staged in Daet, Camarines Norte on Tuesday.

Maria Ravanilla, regional director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) which organized the competition dubbed Gayon Bikol Festival of Festivals, said Lapay Bantigue Festival captured the hearts of Bicolanos who witnessed the show with its performers’ remarkable rendition of the traditional folk dance that imitates the movement of the seagull, called in Masbate as “lapay”.

They gracefully imitated the movement of the lapay -- one of the most typical and beautiful scenes in Barangay Bantigue, Masbate City, when boats laden with abundant fish caught by small-scale fisher folk eagerly awaited by fish buyers--making an engaging portrait of the village’s everyday simple way of life.

This marvelous scenery has inspired old folk to come up with a local folk dance very much rightfully originated from the graceful movements of the bird and the harmonious relationship it has created to the lives of the fisher folk of Bantigue, whose seashores can never be more cherished without the lapay.

Such festival is staged yearly in Masbate City in celebration of its cityhood anniversary every Sept. 30.

For besting 11 other entries coming from all parts of Bicol and winning the championship title, the delegation got Php500,000 in cash prize on top of the other cash prizes, trophies and citations it won for Best Costume and Festival Queen.

Other winners were Ligao City’s Sunflower Festival which got Php300,000 as first runner-up; Virac, Catanduanes’ Burak Festival, Php200,000 as second runner up; and Daraga, Albay’s Cagsawa Festival for Best Street in Dance and Best in Music with Php50,000 cash prize for each category.

Staged in Daet in time with the holding of its yearly Pinyasan Festival, now on its 23rd year, and celebration of the town 432nd Foundation Anniversary, the showdown came as another grand and unique display of colors, culture and grace.

Pinyasan Festival is a yearly celebration showcasing Daeteños' unique arts, culture, capabilities in fostering their heritage and vast environmental resources gifted with land where the world’s sweetest pineapple, queen Formosa, abundantly grows.

The festival -- which runs for 10 days each year starting from its kick-off in June 15, the municipality’s foundation day, and culminates on June 24, the feast day of St, John the Baptist, its patron saint -- is one of Camarines Norte’s tourism promotion tools being initiated by the municipal government.

It features agro-industrial fair, beauty tilts, historical-cultural presentations and different sports events.

Daet’s Foundation Anniversary celebration is a commemoration of its birth when decreed as a municipality by the Spanish government in June 15, 1583. which marked its evolution from an ancient settlement that dates back from the time of Tabon cavemen, or long before the discovery of the Philippines by Magellan in 1521, into a progressive provincial capital.

This evolution has marked for the municipality a significant breakthrough when it was adjudged last year as the country’s overall most competitive municipality in the rating of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).

The municipality has also been consistent in poverty reduction wherein it was listed by the National Census and Statistical Board (NSCB) to have the lowest in terms of poverty incidence among towns and cities in Bicol in 2012.

Ravanilla said 12 contingents representing major festivals in each of the six provinces of Bicolandia, known to be the region with the most number of festivals compared to its counterparts across the country, joined the competition, she said.

Now on its 13th year of holding Gayon Bikol Festival of Festivals, according to Ravanilla, the event once again became a festive encounter focused on the best festivals of the region, considering its importance as one attraction for tourism.

She explained that festivals usually depict the host locality’s rich culture and tradition, showcase their primary product, feature sports event distinct in an area and display Bicolanos’ talents through artistry and creativity.

Capitalizing on these assets, Ravanilla said, her office holds the showdown of festivals to create in the region a tourism culture, foster unity and cooperation and ultimately attain the common goal towards economic prosperity through tourism.

Apart from Lapay, Cagsawa, Sunflower and Burak, among the other festivals which joined the Daet competition, were this city’s Ibalong Festival; Bulan, Sorsogon’s Padaraw Festival; Tabak Festival of Tabaco City; Rodeo Masbateño of Masbate province; Palong Festival of Capalonga, Camarines Norte; Iriga City’s Tinagba Festival; and Boa Boahan Festival of Nabua, Camarines Sur. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

DOST invites Bicol’s farm sector to agri products, technology demo during S&T Week
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) – The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is inviting Bicolano agri-industry stakeholders to see for themselves the latest agricultural product innovations and technology which will be showcased during the celebration of the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) next month.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) will handle the exhibition that will banner DOST’s Outcome 1, which is Agricultural Productivity.

It will be held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City from July 24 to 28, DOST Regional Director Tomas Briñas on Tuesday said.

The PCAARRD commits to deliver results on Outcome 1 which showcases science-based know-how and tools that enable the agriculture sector to raise productivity to world-class standards, according to Briñas.

In particular, the PCAARRD aims to hasten the delivery of technologies to farmers and other clientele in order to achieve higher agricultural productivity, improve product quality, lower production and distribution costs, and strengthen the country’s rural-based micro, small and medium enterprises, he stressed.

Lilibeth Padilla, head of the DOST’s Science and Technology (S&T) Media Service, said these interventions will ensure that there is enough food on the table of every Filipino home.

The council addresses this concern primarily through its Industry Strategic Plans (ISPs), an S&T strategy to accomplish its overall long-term goal of reducing poverty, attaining food security, global competitiveness, and addressing related environmental issues and concerns, Padilla said.

The ISPs are specific plans for 34 selected commodities that include banana, mango, coconut, rice, mud crab, goat, mussel, and shrimp fortified with the corresponding research and development agenda to address demands of a particular commodity industry. Through the ISPs, Padilla explained, stakeholders involved in the value chain of an industry are provided with a framework to articulate the priorities and the necessary initiatives to realize the outcomes of a specific commodity. The PCAARRD, represented by Juan SIPAG--a persona of the NSTW mascot Smarty—will highlight in the five-day event the importance of its ISPs as captured in the tagline Strategic Industry Plan for Agricultural Growth or SIPAG ni Juan, she said.

In the NSTW exhibition, she said, the PCAARRD will have four pavilions featuring S&T innovations for aquatic resources, forest and environmental resources, crops, and livestock—the sectors that are integral to achieving the development goals of the country.

The aquatic resources pavilion will feature S&T-based products and tools developed in accordance with global standards and are ready for pilot testing and roll out to enable the aquatic sector to increase production efficiency and improve quality.

The forest and environment pavilion, on the other hand, will showcase technologies for producing quality planting materials and managing plantations to increase yield and farmers’ income, as well as tools essential for decision support systems to promote climate-smart and resilient communities and ecosystems.

The crops pavilion, meanwhile, will focus on information, products, and technologies developed to attain crop productivity and improved product quality following global standards.

These outputs are generated from initiatives such as crop varietal improvement, crop management practices enhancement, harvest and post-harvest improvement, and value adding, according to Padilla.

Finally, the livestock pavilion will present technologies to raise farm productivity and build rural assets.

As a centerpiece of the exhibition, the PCAARRD will put up a booth showcasing eight agricultural commodities and their respective selected technologies.

For banana, the Fusarium wilt-resistant giant Cavendish tissue culture variant somaclones and banana bunchy top virus-resistant Lakatan will be featured; while for mango, it will be its integrated crop management and post-harvest quality management and a feature on hot water treatment.

Others to be showcased in the booth are the local coconut somatic embryogenesis; soft shell mud crab farming; genome-based lateral flow strip biosensor kit for shrimp pathogens; depuration prototype for small-scale mussel farmers; slaughter goat production: the Halal way; and irradiated carrageenan for rice growth promotion.

Bearing the theme Philippines: A Science Nation Innovating for Global Competitiveness, this year’s NSTW event, apart from DOST’s Outcome 1 will also be anchored on the agency’s seven other Outcomes—Enterprises, Industry Competitiveness, Information Technology-Business Process Management, Good Governance, Quality Healthcare, Education and S&T Disaster Preparedness, Briñas said.

“Farmers and other agricultural industry players as well as other S&T stakeholders from Bicol will benefit significantly from this exhibition that as we are enjoining them to find time, efforts and resources to be there,” he added. (PNA) CTBFGS/DOC/CBD/

DA honors lady farmer from Catanduanes as country’s outstanding rural woman this year
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) –- A former government geologist from Bicol’s island-province of Catanduanes, who after retiring from service has devoted her time in empowering farm folk and the rural community, has been awarded as this year’s national champion in the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) search for Outstanding Rural Women. Luzviminda Teston-Oropesa of Baras, Catanduanes was recently bestowed the honor by DA Undersecretary for Special Concerns Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who is also the chairperson of the agency’s Gender and Development Focal Point System (GDFPS) which spearheads the yearly search.

Being initiated in partnership between the DA-GDFPS and the Interagency Committee on Rural Women, the competition was conceptualized several years back in order to give due recognition to rural women for their outstanding accomplishments in developing the rural sectors.

Oropesa, as with the other awardees ahead of her, made significant impacts on the lives of the people in the rural areas and their achievement were documented as success stories showing the importance of committing to the right of individuals to food and serve as role models of women empowerment.

Abelardo Bragas, DA’s regional director for Bicol based in Pili, Camarines Sur, in a statement reaching here Tuesday said Oropesa received a cash prize of Php100,000 from the DA through Puyat during fitting ceremonies held at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City last June 19.

In addition, Oropesa was also assured of a project grant worth Php100,000 from the DA regional office, according to Bragas.

He said women like the caliber of Oropesa serve as “the main engine of our economic growth who have shown exceptional courage, innovativeness and ability to balance family and work life.”

With the Philippines being an agricultural country, it is important to recognize the role of women because of their priceless contribution to the farming industry and to the empowering of rural communities towards a more productive sector of the Philippine society, Bragas said.

Under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, he said, women empowerment and gender equality come as among the main government agenda and DA will continue to respond to gender and development concerns.

DA’s regional spokesperson Emily Bordado, in the same statement, described Oropesa as a dutiful and loving daughter as after retiring from government service she decided to settle back to her old hometown of Baras -- a small, sleepy fifth class municipality -- to take care of her aged and sickly parents.

“It was then that Luz, as Oropesa is fondly called, renewed her passion for farming and pursued a self-imposed social responsibility of helping her town mates, especially the women,” Bordado said.

Luz, a registered geologist, spent 35 years in her work with both the public and private sectors which brought her to different places across the country.

Before entering the government service, she worked as a Corporate Social Responsibility Officer of a mining company in Leyte, a juicy position she gave up when taken in by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as senior geologist then as supervising geologist at the same agency’s regional office here.

As a farmer leader and community worker after her retirement, Bordado said, Oropesa was able to access funds for projects from the DA such as an Enhanced Modified Rapid Composting facility worth Php2.3 million and a small water impounding system worth Php2.5 million which irrigated rice fields in six barangays of their municipality now benefitting 300 farmers.

Under another DA grant, she also facilitated the construction of Small Water Impounding Project in Barangay Benticayan, Baras now irrigating 30 hectares of formerly rainfed rice fields.

“Luz was also instrumental in convincing farmers to rehabilitate and revitalize previously mined areas through organic farming while she herself established her own farm of about 5,000 square meters which she developed as show window of good agricultural practices and technology on Diversified Integrated Farming System and System of Rice Intensification,” Bordado said.

Then, she organized the Happy Farmers Producers Integrated and Livelihood Association Inc. in their municipality—a group that is now successfully engaged in various livelihood and small entrepreneurial activities like organic fertilizer production and processing into capsules and marketing of food supplements from naturally grown plants like malunggay, lemon grass, guava, oregano, guyabano, gynura, duhat, ampalaya and turmeric.

In about two years of operation, the association, under Oropesa’s stewardship, has already generated a net income of about Php2 million and has constructed a Livelihood Training Center in Nagbarorong, Baras which serves as venue for trainings and as the extension of the Municipal Agriculture Office.

As a highly esteemed and looked upon peer in her town, Oropesa is also entrusted with the vital positions as president of the Rural Improvement Club and as chairperson of the Municipal Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

In her acceptance speech during the awarding ceremonies, she said, “the amazing hands of a woman shape and rock the cradle of a nation and there is like nothing more beautiful than a woman who goes out of her way to make life beautiful for others.” (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Malacañang declares June 24 non-working day in Tabaco City
By April M. Meir

TABACO CITY, June 23 (PNA) -- Malacañang has declared June 24 a special non-working day in this city, some 27 kilometers north of Legazpi City, to give way to the celebration of the 14th Tabak Festival in line with the feast of its patron, St. John the Baptist.

The festival is a livelihood showcase of the city, particularly cutlery.

It derived its name from the local word “tabak,” meaning bolo, where the name of the city (Tabaco) was taken from.

Councilor Raul Borejon, the author of the resolution sent to Malacañang through the Sangguniang Panlunsod, said this is to give their constituents time to celebrate, especially the feast of their patron saint.

Proclamation No. 1060 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa was issued last June 22.

Rolly Embile, Tabaco City public information officer, said the festival started last June 15 where they highlighted the events with the city's main products.

Embile said the city does not only promote its known product “tabak” but also promotes its long-time tradition that gives primary livelihood to their people, the "padyak”.

He said almost 7,000 persons are operating padyak units round the clock.

“More or less 10,000-12,000 families rely on this livelihood for over 20 years now and the drivers collect only Php5 fare anytime of the day. Our city is famous for this tradition,” he said.

Among the events were “Padyak Amazing Race”, a summer cycling race and the competition on best padyak design.

The event also showcases different agri-industrial products, legend and pageantry.(PNA) CTB/FGS/AMM/CBD/

DSWD-Bicol gives Php2.4-M worth of family food packs to Sorsogon as Bulusan acts up
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development Bicol regional office has given Php2.39 million worth of family food packs to Sorsogon for the families affected by the current restiveness of the Bulusan Volcano.

DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia said the towns of Irosin, Juban and Casiguran received 300 family food packs each.

Garcia said their office has also given 5,000 food packs to the Provincial Government of Sorsogon.

He said each family food pack amounts to Php406.00, consisting of six kilos of rice, eight cans of sardines, noodles and coffee, and is good for two days.

The DSWD official said their office is ready to give additional provisions to Sorsogon if the abnormal condition of Bulusan prolongs, based on the instruction of DSWD Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman.

He said the DSWD Bicol regional office has a total of Php14.21 million worth of 35,000 family food packs at the agency's warehouse ready for distribution to any part of the region in cases of calamity.

Garcia said their office is ready anytime to respond to the needs of local government units like what it did to the Province of Albay during the times of Mayon's abnormal condition.

Aside from these, he said, the social workers of DSWD-Bicol are ready to conduct stress debriefing for affected families in Sorsogon.

Garcia said the Regional Disaster and Risk Reduction Council, of which he is the vice chair, is always prepared to respond to any form of calamity in any part of the region.

He said the zero casualty target of the Province of Albay under Governor Joey Sarte Salceda should always be attained. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/

EDUCO recognizes Bicol schools that carry out literacy projects
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) –- The EDUCO, formerly Intervida Philippines Foundation, has given recognition to 11 schools in the Bicol Region with good reading practices and select partner-districts which went beyond the implementation of reading programs.

The foundation is carrying out the reading program among the 223 EDUCO partner-schools in the Bicol Region from school year 2012-2013 to school year 2014-2015 with a total beneficiaries of 85,838 pupils and 2,448 teachers in four partner DepEd Divisions of Albay, Camarines Sur, Ligao City and Sorsogon.

These beneficiaries are roughly 10 percent of the total pupil-and-teacher population in the Bicol Region.

The EDUCO on Tuesday said in a statement reaching the Philippines News Agency that it had observed very remarkable good reading practices in the 11 awardee schools for these year’s good reading practices.

“They developed a reading program together with their community members through an in-depth analysis of the context and the varying factors which hinder pupils from acquiring mastery in reading,” the foundation noted.

It observed a very strong community engagement in the San Jose Elementary School, one of the awardee schools.

The school is non-central and is located in a very remote area in Donsol, Sorsogon.

Its community members, notwithstanding budgetary constraints, wholeheartedly embraced the school’s program and made themselves available and willing resource for the implementation of the reading sessions.

They become story readers and tellers’ community librarians and tutors, the EDUCO said.

Among their good reading practices, the outreach reading activities, it noted, are the most inspiring owing to the heartfelt commitment of the school personnel and pupil leaders to conduct home visitation for teaching reading.

This year’s good reading practices underscore fundamental components for a successful reading program and among them, the appreciation, willingness and commitment of the teachers and the community are still the most basic and important.

For three years, EDUCO has implemented a reading program composed of remedial reading, story read-aloud and Project Drop Everything and Read (DEAR).

After three years, the partner schools’ level of implementation has improved tremendously, with almost 75 percent or majority of the 223 partner-schools reflecting mature to ideal level of implementation.

This means that the schools have attained 4 to 5 scores (highest scores) in each of the following criteria: 1) institution of the reading program within the daily supervised study period, 2) availability of developmentally rich library or reading center, 3) establishment library hour, 4) completeness of records such as attendance sheets, borrower logs, session guides and reading progress charts, 5) strong community engagement in the reading program, and 6) conduct of monitoring and evaluation on pupil’s reading proficiency.

This level of implementation implies high sustainability and transference of the project in the future, the EDUCO said.

The result of the program on the reading proficiency of pupils among the awardee schools is also remarkable, it added.

Based on Phil-IRI English oral reading test, of the 4,165 enrollment, the 19-percent non-readers decreased to 2 percent and the 10-percent independent readers increased to 38 percent by the end of SY 2014-2015.

In 2014, the EDUCO started to recognize schools with exemplary performance in implementing a reading program based on the engagement of the community, result on the reading proficiency of pupils, and added creativity and innovation in designing meaningful reading experiences for children, thereby increasing their motivation and love for reading. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD

Monday, June 22, 2015

Albayanos prefer Salceda's brother as his successor in capitol
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, June 22 (PNA) – Media practitioners in Albay claimed that many Albayanos prefer Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda’s brother as his successor in the Capitol.

Earlier, Salceda, who is the Liberal Party provincial chair, declared his open support to Rep. Al Francis Bichara (Albay, 2nd District) as his successor while the provincial board endorsed Vice Governor Harold Imperial for governorship.

The governor had earlier announced his intention to run for the third district as early last year and attended barangay assemblies, reassuring his constituents of his return in the 2016 election.

To the surprise of Albayanos, however, he suddenly switched his registration as voter last May from his hometown Polangui (3rd District) to Daraga town (2nd District) where he has a residence and announced that he is running for the second congressional district.

Salceda said Bichara, who is on his last term as congressman of the 2nd District and former governor, is his personal choice to succeed him -- a declaration Salceda made through his Facebook account an hour after filing his voter's registration in Daraga town.

Bichara is the provincial chair of the Nacionalista Party.

He has openly declared his intention to return to the Capitol when his term expires in 2016.

But, according to media practitioners here, many Albayanos they have interviewed prepare Jessaf Salceda, the governor’s younger brother who run but lost in the third district in the 2007 elections.

Despite his absence in politics, many Albayanos said they prefer Jessaf because they see in him the work of a true public servant, emulating the practice of his brother-governor.

Jessaf is currently the provincial administrator.

Salceda will step down from the Capitol in 2016 after his three-term that is credited with a very impressive performance, citing his advance advocacy in climate change and disaster risk reduction management that made Albay province known in the world map and have the province catapulted as among the tourists' sought-after destinations.

In 2017, Albay is expected to finally open the Php4-billion Southern Luzon International Airport in Barangay Alobo, Daraga town, a project of the governor which President Aquino wants to be completed as soon as possible.

With Salceda, Albay also won as among the venues of the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit ministerial meeting held at the Misibis Resort in Bacacay town last December 2014.

Media practitioners said that under Salceda, the province has created the Provincial Education Department that launched a scholarship program aimed to produce a college graduate in every Albayano family.

“It should be continued after the program is successfully implemented,” said Marcial Tuanqui, former president of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/

PPA to spend Php100M for Legazpi seaport repair

LEGAZPI CITY, June 20 (PNA) -- A Php100-million worth of repair works will start this July to restore into full operation the Legazpi City seaport damaged by Typhoon "Glenda" last year, an official of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in Bicol said Saturday.

Carole Mendizabal, PPA port services division manager, said the project funding would come from the PPA central office.

The PPA engineering construction work had a timeline of 365 days starting next month, and would be fully operational by July next year, Mendizabal said in an interview.

Repair and restoration works will involve the 100-meter berthing area along Barangay Baybay shoreline here, which was damaged when Glenda hit Albay last year.

The damaged area is approximately 50 meters by 12 meters, which practically eaten up the waterfront quay operational area for loading and discharging activities of foreign or domestic tramping vessels at any given time.

The strong winds and waves brought by Glenda ruined a portion of the port by six inches, from its original surface level.

There is a noticeable gap of five inches between the undamaged retained wall of the inner structure and the edge of the damaged reinforced concrete deck and pile.

Mendizabal said the damaged area had been cordoned off since July 25 last year to prevent serious accident to people, equipment and vessels.

Legazpi Port, which seats on a 1.1-hectare lot, is one of the major and busiest ports in Bicol catering to domestic and foreign vessels.

The port has 535-meter quay facilities that can accommodate five to eight vessels during regular operations, but with the damage caused on the 100-meter berthing facility, it can only hold about four sea vessels now.

It accommodates inbound foreign vessels that bring in commodities such as coal, rice and palay, gypsum, crude minerals, fertilizer and salt; while domestic vessels cater to inbound and outbound cargoes which include, among others, cement, coal, sugar silica sand, copra fertilizers, sand and gravel, transport equipment, limestone, iron and steel, refined petroleum products.

Legazpi port is considered a century-old pier built in 1910 and through the years, it has been developed as a major seaport in Bicol.

A new two-storey passenger terminal was built at the pier site last year.(PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/pjn

Bank manager lauds Masbate town cops for return of his valuables
By Norman B. Tamar

CAMP BONNY SERRANO, Masbate City, June 20 (PNA) -– The LandBank branch manager of Irosin, Sorsogon, has lauded members of the San Fernando Municipal Police Station (SFMPS) for having able to recover and return his valuable personal belongings.

Cicero S. Conag lost his cell phone case containing iPhone5S, Lenovo, Landbank Visa credit card, ATM debit cards, and a necklace on May 16.

The valuable items were earlier found by an honest fish vendor, who in turn gave it to the police.

“Just as I and my family were pleased with and appreciated the honesty of Mr. Reynaldo Almojuela Cantoria, a fish vendor who found the lost case and turned it over to the police station, we are likewise very much grateful to the unconditional assistance of your men." Conag said in his letter sent to Senior Supt. Prexy D. Tanggawohn, officer-in-charge of the Masbate Provincial Police Office.

For this noble deed, Tanggawohn gave the SFMPS personnel under Senior Insp. Rodel C. Arevalo an award during the traditional Philippine National Police flag-raising ceremony here on Monday for earning the admiration of people whom they have sworn to serve and protect.

He also read Conag's letter and commended the good deed of the SFMPS policemen for the invaluable assistance rendered by bringing back the lost and found items.

"Such gesture deserves commendation and that my 'thank you' is not enough,” the letter added.

Conag also expressed his deep appreciation and gratitude to the three policemen of San Fernando involved for their prompt action resulting in the immediate recovery of his lost valuable items.

He said that while SPO1 Sebastian E. Jetajobe made entries in the police blotter, PO2 Noli G Bartolay proceeded at the pier where he lost his things to conduct verification.

PO3 Roger Alindogan Jr., when informed, also made a follow-up search and investigation.

Tanggawohn stressed that the letter is certainly heartening and hoped to inspire more policemen.

The good deed was worthy of emulation by all personnel, he added. (PNA) RMA/FGS/NBT/CBD/ssc

Masbate police nab drug pusher
By Norman B. Tamar

CAMP BONNY SERRANO, Masbate City, June 20 (PNA) -– Joint operatives of various police units and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Regional Office V arrested a drug pusher at his residence in Barangay Puro, Aroroy, on Friday night.

Senior Supt. Prexy D. Tanggawohn, officer-in-charge of the Masbate Provincial Police Office, identified the arrested pusher as Leonardo S. Mancio, 38 and a resident of the place.

Tanggawohn said the law enforcers were armed with search warrant issued by Judge Manuel L. Sese of the Regional Trial Court Branch 45, Masbate City.

He said the police found three plastic sachets of suspected shabu, six unsealed plastic sachets with shabu residue, 11 strips of aluminum foils, improvised burner, a pair of scissors, eight disposable lighters and 16 official receipts from Palawan Express Pera Padala which were taken as evidence of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.

The raiding team was composed of elements of the Aroroy Municipal Police Station, Regional Special Operations Group, Criminal Investigation and Detection Team, MPPO Public Safety Company and the PDEA.

Tanggawohn commended the raiding team for a job well done.

He also encouraged the public to cooperate with police authorities for the easy crackdown on illegal drug activities "to make Masbate a safe place to live in."

Charges for violations of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 are now being prepared for filing against Mancio. (PNA) RMA/FGS/NBT/CBD/ssc

5 Sorsogon town villages showered with ash after Bulusan sends 1.5-km high ash column Friday

LEGAZPI CITY, June 20 (PNA) -- Six villages in Juban, Sorsogon have been affected by the recent explosion of Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon which spewed a 1.5-kilometer high ash plume cloud at around 2:55 p.m. Friday, a report from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Bicol said.

The five villages hit by ash fall were barangays Anog, Puting Sapa, Katanusan, Bacolod and Bura-buran with a total population of 5,713 persons.

Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanolgy and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) resident volcanology, said the eruption was a “phreatic” one, similar to the three steam-driven explosions that happened within this week.

“This time, the volcano billowed a 1.5-kilometer high ash cloud as compared to the eruption that took place on Tuesday and Thursday,” Laguerta said in a phone interview.

On Thursday, Phivolcs seismic instrument recorded one explosion-type and one rockfall event occurred but the small explosion event lasted for about two minutes based on seismic record but was not observed visually due to thick clouds covering the summit.

A rumbling sound was heard Friday between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m by residents of Barangay Monbon in Irtosin town, the Phivolcs said.

Rachelle Miranda, OCD spokesperson, said in a phone interview that the ash cloud emitted by the volcano drifted towards the west-southwest direction, possibly affecting at least five villages of Juban town.

Volcanologists are currently checking traces of ash that fell on the villages of Juban.

The collected volcanic ashes will be tested whether its texture contains magma fragments, which would mean that magma is building up in the volcano’s vent, Laguerta pointed out.

“if the test finds that it contains ‘juvenile magma fragments, it would be a precursor to a much stronger eruption” Laguerta said.

Miranda said classes in public elementary and secondary schools were still suspended for the third day when the eruption happened Friday.

Alert Level 1 remains in effect and the Phivolcs warned the villagers not to venture inside the four-km Permanent Danger Zone due to sudden phreatic explosions.

Civil aviation authorities were likewise told to advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden phreatic eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.(PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/pjn

Masbate cops nab town's No. 6 most wanted person
By Norman B. Tarman

MASBATE CITY, June 19 (PNA) -- The No. 6 most wanted person in the town of Claveria was arrested Tuesday in Barangay Halabangbaybay, San Pascual, Masbate, by combined operatives of various police units in the province.

The group arrested Alex M. Dela Cruz, 30, married and a resident of Sitio Manggahan, Poblacion District No. 2, Claveria, Masbate by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Maximo R. Ables, acting presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 46, Masbate City, for murder.

Dela Cruz, after being duly informed of the nature and cause of his arrest in the local dialect, was subsequently brought to the San Pascual Police Station for proper disposition.

The arrest was made by joint forces of San Pascual Municipal Police Station led by Senior Insp. Victor Edgar Moraleda, officer-in-charge; Claveria MPS led by Insp. Joven B. Moriones; 5RPSB 1st Manuever Company led by Senior Insp. Abel D. Jarabejo; Masbate Provincial Police Office Safety Unit led by Senior Insp. Allan E. Macoy, and Masbate PPO Investigation Service led by Insp. Benjie Calixto.(PNA) CTB/FGS/NBT/cbd/

Masbate village official shot dead by motorcycle-riding men
By Norman B. Tamar

CAMP BONNY SERRANO, Masbate City – A village official was shot dead by men riding in tandem in Sitio Imburnal, Barangay Daraga, Placer, Masbate at around 7:00 a.m. Tuesday, a police report said Friday.

Senior Supt. Prexy D. Tanggawohn, officer-in-charge,of the Masbate Police Provincial Office (MPPO), identified the victim as Jerry C. Jumao-as, 41, married and a barangay kagawad (village councilman) of Barangay Pili, Placer, Masbate.

Police investigation showed that Jumao-as was driving his motorcycle on his way home when fired at by two unidentified men wearing helmets aboard another motorbike.

The victim died on the spot due to several gunshot wounds in his body and a fatal shot on his head.

A responding team of the local municipal police in Placer town led by Senior Insp. Carlos G. Estonilo Jr. recovered two pieces of fired cartridges from caliber 9mm pistol, five fired cartridges and two slugs of caliber .45 pistol at the crime scene.(PNA) CTB/FGS/NBT/cbd/

PA eyes Bicol as region cleared of NPA by 2016
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 19 (PNA) – Just two more of the six Bicol provinces and the region’s insurgency problem comes to a manageable level, according to the Philippine Army (PA).

Maj. Gen. Yerson Depayso, the PA’s 9th Infantry Division commander based at Camp Elias Angeles in Pili, Camarines Sur, said in statement reaching here Friday that Sorsogon and Masbate are the two remaining provinces in the region where the threat of New People’s Army (NPA) insurgency to internal security remains a major concern.

The government’s security sector, however, is doing all measures to clear these areas of the threat so that they are, at least by the end of 2016, be declared, along with the other four Bicol provinces, as “conflict manageable and ready for further development (CMRFD)” areas, Depayso said.

The four provinces—Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Albay -- have been declared as CMRFD areas one after the other starting late last year up to early this year following the forging of separate memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with the respective provincial governments and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Each MOU formalized the declaration of a particular province as a CMRFD area as recommended by the provincial government through a resolution passed by its local legislative board.

The signing of the MOU, according to Depayso, signaled the "shifting of effort" from clearing of barangays from insurgent affectation supported by socio-economic development to a reverse role.

It also emphasizes the implementation of more socio-economic and development projects that the civil government will implement with the continuous support and protection of the military.

The declarations of peace in these four provinces were based on the decreased violent activities of the NPA, the reduction of its potential support system in the barangays and its failed recovery efforts.

This achievement, according to Depayso, was made possible through the cooperation of the leaders of the province, along with the local government units (LGUs), who have partnered with the AFP in fighting insurgency.

The 45-year-old insurgency being waged by the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF), he said, has been preventing the progress and economic development of all affected localities in Bicol and in the country.

“These MOUs bring great pleasure for it is a proof that the efforts of the government and its armed forces to restore peace and tranquility in the provinces have not been put in vain. We in the military stand by our mandate as the protector of the people and keepers of the integrity of the state,” Depayso stressed.

At least these first four Bicol provinces are now provided with space where the people can feel safe and grow as progressive communities and, Depayso said, the AFP wants this environment expanded down to Sorsogon and Masbate.

The AFP has been maintaining the presence of the Philippine Army (PA) for about 16 years now in Bicol with its 9th Infantry (Spear) Division (ID) based in Pili, Camarines Sur, manning the internal security of the region from the activities of the NPA.

This PA ID is in command of three infantry brigades composed of eight infantry battalions and seven support units, including an engineering battalion, distributed in all the six provinces of the region.

In over 40 years, Depayso said, Bicol’s opportunity to advance to progress -- with its vast mineral deposits, agricultural lands, rich fishing grounds, exotic tourist destinations, rich natural resources and hard-working people -- has been stalled by unstable peace situation due to the presence of the NPA and the culture of violence it has developed among local communities.

The NPA members prevent the implementation of government infrastructure projects, harass mining companies, extort money in the form of “revolutionary taxes” from businessmen, contractors and even from farmers, and execute those who refuse to remit, including innocent civilians and civilian government officials.

Now, the strength of the rebels in the four provinces has been significantly reduced, paving the way for the CMRFD declaration.

In the case of Sorsogon, the military chief said, the Area Clearing Validation Board (ACVB) from the 9th ID and the Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office for Bicol recently convened to validate the reports on the clearing of 13 rebel-affected barangays of the five municipalities of the province.

The ACVB, chaired by Brig.Gen. Ignacio Obligacion, assistant division commander of 9ID, according to Depayso, is looking at declaring Sorsogon along with Masbate under CMRFD before the end of 2016.

These 13 Sorsogon barangays, which have undergone AFP’s Bayanihan Team Activities, have been recommended “cleared of NPA” by the Area Clearing Evaluation Team headed by Col. Alden Juan Masagca, deputy commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade based in the province.

Such recommendation was the subject of the validation by the ACVB in reference to AFP/PNP Joint Letter Directive dated Oct. 13 2008 that states, among others, that a resolution from the Board will be signed by the members from AFP and PNP and for approval of the provincial chief executive.

The 9ID, Depayso said, is in the right track on its internal peace and security operations campaign plan which is currently on its Phase IV--clearing of Sorsogon and Masbate provinces.

“I am optimistic that the security sector would continue to achieve significant gains in addressing the threat situation in the province of Sorsogon and Masbate, obviously resulting from concerted efforts of different stakeholders in addressing social problems. Bicol is now on its way towards becoming a region of peace, progress, and prosperity," he added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/cbd/

TESDA bares opening of online education
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 19 (PNA) – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is coming out big this year in terms of cyber-education as it recently announced the opening of online courses to all aspiring Filipino learners who lack time or can hardly afford to be in school.

“This is a good news for all Filipinos who want to enhance their knowledge and skills or learn more about Information Technology (IT), Web Development using HyperText Markup Language (HTML) 5 and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) 3, among other fields of online education,” TESDA Bicol Regional Director Conrado Bares said here on Friday.

HTML5 is a core technology markup language of the Internet used for structuring and presenting content for the World Wide Web.

It particularly adds many new syntactic features -- including new video, audio and canvas elements, as well as the integration of scalable vector graphics (SVG) content -- replacing generic object tags and MathML for mathematical formulas.

These features are designed to make it easy to include and handle multimedia and graphical content on the web without having to resort to proprietary plug-ins and application programming interfaces (APIs).

CSS, on the other hand, is a style sheet language used for describing the look and formatting of a document written in a markup language and designed primarily to enable the separation of document content from document presentation, including elements such as the layout, colors, and fonts.

This separation improves content accessibility, provide more flexibility and control in the specification of presentation characteristics, enable multiple HTML pages to share formatting and reduce complexity and repetition in the structural content, such as semantically insignificant tables.

CSS3 is the latest standard for CSS which is completely backwards-compatible with earlier versions.

In this new TESDA offering, learners could also familiarize themselves with anime design using the 3rd Generation (3D) animation, Bares said.

He explained that the TESDA Online Program has been around for quite some time but never had an official launch and only this year that it is coming out big in this field with the offering of various courses in IT, Game Development, Tourism, Housekeeping, Cookery, Electronics, Agriculture, Automotive, Air conditioning, Trainers methodology and Massage therapy.

Under IT, the program offers Intel Easy Steps (Facebook App), Basic Computer Operation, Computer Systems Servicing, Web Development using HTML5 and CSS3, CAD / CAM Operation, Animation (3D Digital) and Microsoft Online Courses.

In Game Development, the courses are Game Production Basics, Developing 2D Games with HTML5, Developing 2D & 3D Games with Unity, Software Development Fundamentals and C# Fundamentals for Beginners while in Automotive, Diesel Engine Tune Up and Automotive Battery Servicing are offered.

Packaged Air Conditioner Unit Servicing; Trainers Methodology I to facilitate learning session and Trainers Methodology II for Curriculum Development; and Health, Social and other Community Development Services such as Swedish and Thai Massage under Massage Therapy are other courses available, Bares said.

Interested parties may inquire from Tesda Online Courses Program website www.e-tesda.gov.ph, send email to etesdapmo@yahoo.com, call mobile number +6323837839 or visit the TESDA regional office at the government center in Barangay Rawis here or the nearest TESDA school, he added.

In the wake of this development, the TESDA also announced the launch last Wednesday of the TESDA-Samsung Consumer Electronics Servicing Training Laboratory held at its Women’s Center in Taguig City.

Inside electronics laboratory put up in partnership with Samsung Electronics Philippines Corp. (SEPCO), trainees can actually tinker with electronic gadgets as a way to learn.

The room is equipped with tools, gadgets, appliances and electronic equipment that the students can use to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become a competent electronics technician.

"The laboratory will be a hub for learning, building, playing, creating, innovating, and we could not thank Samsung enough for working with TESDA to put this up," TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva said in a statement.

The TESDA-SEPCO partnership program, according to Villanueva, seeks to ensure the availability of a pool of highly-skilled workers in the electronics industry.

It also aims to give the graduates a chance to get a job immediately and to specialize in the repair of Samsung products like audio-video equipment, domestic appliances such as washing machine, microwave oven, vacuum cleaner, hand-held phones, refrigerator and air-conditioning units, he added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/cbd/

NPA rebels burn mining equipment in Camarines Sur

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, June 19 (PNA) -- New People's Army rebels burned an estimated PHP10-million worth of various equipment of a mining company on Thursday night at Barangay Himagtocon, Lagonoy, Camarines Sur.

A police report said that at about 6 p.m. Thursday, members of the NPA's Tomas Pilapil Command armed with high-powered firearms arrived at the compound of the Bicol Chromite and Manganese Inc. (BCMI) owned by Lydia Cu.

They immediately poured gasoline on the backhoe, bulldozer, owner-type jeep, generator set and other equipment of the company and set them on fire.

Company guards could not do anything and could only watch what was happening.

The rebels, however, did not harm them.

Police said the rebels had long been asking for revolutionary tax from the BCMI but it did not yield to the demand, prompting the rebels to "punish" the mining company.

The BCMI has been mining in the mountains of barangays Himagtocon, Pinamihagan, Del Carmen and Bocogan -- all in Lagonoy town.

The rebels retreated after the burning incident but told company guards why they burned the company's assets, the report said.

Tomas Pilapil Command spokesperson Baldomero Arcangel immediately came out with a statement admitting that their group was responsible for the burning of the equipment. (PNA) JBP/FGS/EMC/CBD/eds

Friday, June 19, 2015

DENR official seeks declaration of Burias-Ticao Pass as marine protected area
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, June 18 (PNA) -- The head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resourcs’ Protected Areas and Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Service (PAWCZMS) in Bicol said his office is recommending to the national government the declaration of Burias and Ticao Passes as a marine protected area to preserve the region’s marine biodiversity.

Al Orolfo, PAWCZMS regional technical director, said the Ticao and Burias Passes are very significant to the Bicol Region, especially Albay, and these bodies of water must be declared as protected seascape owing to their being very rich in marine biodiversity.

“This combined body of water is also the best site for snorkelling with the presence of unique coral reefs and the habitat of the world’s rarest mammals like the megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios), whale sharks, dugong, manta rays and other marine species,” Orolfo said.

Dr. Victor Soliman, a Bicolano scientist and professor at the Bicol University College of Fisheries in Tabaco City, meanwhile, said the country’s fishing industry is in crisis and the government should take serious steps to revive the dwindling marine resources.

He said the country’s fishing grounds are almost depleted and it will take time to revive them.

Soliman said that as early as 1981, the major fishing grounds have reached their maximum yields, meaning (they are) overfished.

“The country’s fishing grounds are in critical condition and the government must take rigid measures as the current situation is that we’re managing overfishing instead of managing the fishing industry. A total ban on all commercial fishing operations must be done to protect our seas,’ Soliman said.

The Ticao Pass-San Bernardino Straight-Samar Sea Corridor is one of the country’s bodies of water rich in biodiversity but big-time poachers have been destroying these areas, he lamented.

According to him, the Ticao and Burias Passes, which depths of up to 700 fathoms, are part of the migratory route of whale sharks, the fifth largest fish in the world.

These whale sharks have been found to migrate transnationally through the seas of the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Three species of sea turtles (olive ridley, hawksbill and green) have been tagged in the waters around Ticao, according to him.

It is not known whether the turtles utilize the extensive sand beaches of the island for nesting although these beaches appear to offer suitable nesting habitat.

Dugongs have been sighted around Burias; while the San Miguel Pass, which separates Burias and Ticao, is an area where dolphins were plentiful in the past, but recently, a decline in the population of these animals has been noted.

This, Soliman said, could have been possibly due to increased fishing pressure by residents of Baleno municipality on Masbate, who have traditionally hunted cetaceans.

He said the major threats in Bicol waters is encroachment and illegal poaching, mainly by foreign commercial fishing vessels operating in municipal waters, occur frequently; thus, catch levels for commercially-important species are largely unmonitored.

Local fishers are usually hired by commercial poachers.

Blast fishing is still practiced in the area by local fishers and outsiders (though much reduced from prior levels through local enforcement efforts).

The massive poaching in Bicol waters had earlier alarmed top Church officials in Bicol who even demanded President Benigno S. Aquino to intervene to stop illegal fishing in the region.

They even made a letter of appeal signed by the late Archbishop Leonardo Legazpi, Archdiocese of Caceres; Bishop Joey “Bong” Z. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi; Bishop Jose C. Sorra, Bishop Emeritus of Legazpi; Bishop Lucilo B. Quiambao, auxiliary prelate Emeritus of Legazpi; Bishop Jose Rojas Jr. of Diocese of Libmanan; Bishop Arturo M. Bastes, Diocese of Sorsogon; Bishop Gilbert A. Carcera of Diocese of Daet; Bishop Manolo A. De Los Santos of Diocese of Virac and Bishop Jose Batolo of the Diocese of Masbate.

The Bicol bishops condemned local government authorities in Bicol as, they said, the massive operations of the illegal commercial fishing activities in the western seaboard of Bicol are taking place under the impunity of the public officials as well as law enforcers before Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona became the Bicol regional police director.

The prelates sadly noted that the commercial fishers shamelessly overfish from the municipal waters where the small fishers are gravely affected and could cause serious marine depletion and high prevalence of poverty.

Upon Deona’s assumption as Bicol’s top cop, he directed and enforced a stern marching order to his men: stop illegal logging, drugs, illegal gambling, illegal fishing and loose firearms.

He said Bicol is one of the richest fishing grounds in the country but organized big-time commercial fishing operators in the country are raping the Bicol waters for a long time.

“I assure you that under my watch there will no longer be untouchables in our campaign against illegal fishing in Bicol. We mean business in the PNP’s regional command. We’re happy that Congressman Fernando Gonzalez and the city government of Ligao initiated the anti-illegal fishing drive. We hope that other LGus will follow the same efforts to save our seas as a gift to our children and their children,” Deona said.

At least 237,053 poor families living along Burias pass and Ragay Gulf belong to the poorest municipalities (poverty mapping research in 2006).

In response to the prelates’ letter of appeal, Aquino then directed the Philippine Coast Guard and Maritime Police to strengthen the campaign against big-time illegal fishing activities but the practices did not stop.

The President said that to address the illegal fishing activities in Bicol the people should work together and cooperate with the government’s authorities to apprehend persons involved in trawl fishing activities here.

Mr. Aquino said that law enforcers could not thoroughly address and cover the sea waters of the country specifically in Bicol due to limited resources and mobility.

Among the six provinces of Bicol, however, only the province of Albay leads the way in the effort to save the seas.

The prelates pleaded for the total stoppage of illegal fishing in Bicol.

A peninsula, the Bicol region has a total of 94 coastal municipalities and 1,067 coastal barangays, spread along a coastline that measures up to 3,116.1 kms.

Bicol is blessed with rich marine resources with five major fishing grounds -- Lagonoy Gulf, Ragay Gulf and San Miguel Bay in Camarines Sur; Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon; and Asid Gulf in Masbate.

Poverty incidence in the fishery sector of the region, however, is the highest in the country, based on the 2014 National Statistics Coordination Board report, with a poverty rate of 41.4 percent, (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/EDS