Monday, February 29, 2016

PNA@43: What others say about Philippines News Agency
By Leilani S. Junio & Juzel L. Danganan

MANILA, Feb. 28 (PNA) -- As the Philippines News Agency (PNA) marks its 43rd year of existence on March 1, its staff members decided to ask some government agencies and other organizations on how they view PNA in a general perspective.

Here are some of the highlights of their remarks:

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon J. Soliman congratulated PNA for its fair and objective reporting of events and developments as she greeted the agency on its 43rd anniversary.

“Thank you, PNA, for your truthful reportage of events in the country,” Secretary Soliman said.

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Zenaida Monsada also congratulated PNA as one of its dependable partners in the media.

"My warmest congratulations to the dedicated officials, reporters and correspondents of PNA as you celebrate your 43rd anniversary," she said.

"The DOE lauds PNA for being one of its dependable partners in the government for timely dissemination of fair, accurate and objective information," the secretary said.

She also said PNA's international reach helps the DOE disseminate its energy policies, programs and services to foreign firms, inviting more energy investments.

"As you journey through your new milestone, the DOE hopes for your strengthened resolve to guide more people with the much needed news and information that will catalyze the upliftment of their lives," Monsada said.

She also called on the organization to "uphold utmost professionalism by practicing highest ethical standards in journalism."

"On behalf of the DOE family, we congratulate you and wish you more successes for the next years to come. We assure you of our continued support in advocating for the greater good of the nation and the people," the secretary said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also extended its felicitations for PNA’s 43rd anniversary.

"The entire corps of the AFP salutes PNA on its 43rd anniversary. May the PNA staff continue its mandate to deliver relevant and timely news about events and issues," AFP Public Affairs Office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Civil Defense Administrator and Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Undersecretary Alexander P. Pama lauded PNA’s adherence to the journalist’s code of ethics, stating that the agency has been a pillar in the industry that deserves emulations by other similar news agencies and outfits.

“From March 1973 until the present time, the PNA has been characterized as a capable organization that provides reliable and factual coverage of important occurrences in Philippine History: pivotal events which affect the lives of our people in all corners of the globe,” Pama said.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) also acknowledged PNA’s role in reporting relevant news and information on scientific breakthroughs.

"Thank you, PNA, for bridging Filipino developed science, technology and innovation and all the good news it brings to our people and the entire world," said DOST Assistant Secretary Raymund Liboro.

Meanwhile, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and Chief Executive Officer Ariel Paciano Casanova said PNA “continues to play a crucial role in the country’s socioeconomic growth by being a credible channel to inform, educate, communicate and empower the public to make the best decision.”

He added that “countless Filipinos have improved their lives by availing of government’s new programs, projects and reforms mainly because PNA has effectively disseminated them nationwide.”

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) also lauded PNA’s “priceless role in being at the forefront of news gathering and dissemination of reliable and factual coverage of crucial events that have helped shape the country’s rich history.”

”I urge you (PNA staff) to remain in upholding the journalistic credo of factual, timely and responsible reportage of all events – whether its local or global developments, whether its about personalities, industry sectors, or current events that affect the whole nation,” said LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez.

NorthBound Philippines News Online said that since PNA’s founding as a news organization, it has distinguished itself as news features source and distributor.

“It has been spreading information, knowledge, not to say, opinions not only in but from the country and abroad with its vast and trusted network."

The subscriber also agreed with other subscribers' impression that PNA, as a news organization, has exercised restraint and observed the admired tenets and high values and principles of responsible journalism.

They further said that PNA’s reporters and writers have efficiently used the tools of the trade — the 5Ws and 1H in their pursuit of the truth in the social and physical environment. (PNA) SCS/BNB/LSJ/JLD

PNA@43: Former staff members, interns thank PNA for ‘life-changing’ experiences
By the Philippines News Agency

MANILA, Feb. 28 (PNA) -- Several former employees and interns of the Philippines News Agency (PNA) have expressed their gratitude to the agency which has served as their training ground and helped them make their way in the media industry and other related disciplines.

Former GMA senior reporter Sherrie Ann Torres is thankful to the now 43-year-old PNA which gave her a bright start in her media career.

"Twenty years have passed already, after jumping out of PNA straight to strings of newspapers, but I remain very grateful to PNA for opening my eyes about my strength, skills and bright future as a journalist," she said.

For her, PNA was particularly important in forming her writing and reportorial skills.

Those skills proved useful for her career in newspapers -- after she left PNA -- then for her move to television.

Torres also shared she learned how to write for the interest of the government during her stay in PNA.

She now works as the Corporate Communication Officer for oil firm Flying V.

“Being in the field is the best experience I had when I was still working for PNA as a reporter,” said Jade Miguel, who is now working as a news reporter of People's Television Network or PTV-4.

Miguel, who is enjoying now a flourishing career in the field of broadcast reporting, recalled that one good aspect of becoming a reporter of PNA was the opportunity to travel in other parts of the country while covering events.

She further said that the rewarding part was as she learned the craft of writing stories for the readers. It was quite fulfilling that in the process, as a reporter, she experienced to be the first one to break the stories before it circulated in the following days.

In terms of those who have experience to be part of the PNA On-the-Job Trainings, it is heartening to note that they also have some good remarks as well as how PNA has helped them in their current undertakings.

Ramil M. del Rosario, a mass communication student then of New Era University, became an OJT of PNA in 2001 and then began his career as a clerk in Market Strategic Firm Inc. from May 2001 to May 2008.

He later on became Information Officer III of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) from 2008 to April 2015.

Del Rosario is currently working as Junior Communications Analyst, Media Monitoring and Feedback Team, Media Affairs Department of Social Security System in Quezon City.

He recalled that as an OJT during that time, he was one of those who had learned a lot in terms of translating English news into “Tagalog Broadcast News” by his mentor, now retired senior news editor Virgilio C. Sagun.

At that time, PNA was still maintaining a Broadcast News Desk responsible for providing fresh news summaries in English and Filipino to subscribing radio and television stations in Metro Manila and the provinces.

“I learned that in order to translate the news effectively into Tagalog, I have to understand first the story,” Del Rosario said.

He also said that PNA was the one that provided him with a glimpse of the actual practice in the real media world which differs a lot in the theoretical teachings in school.

“One of the advice of Mr. Sagun to me was that in this line of work, media practice, you have to be assertive. This one really had made a mark on me,” he added.

He further said that the wider perspective that was opened up during his intern days was something that PNA provided and helped him a lot in his jobs later on.

“To PNA, thank you very much,” he said.

The on-the-job training program of PNA was also life-changing for some of the former interns, as the agency helped them develop their skills and confidence.

For former trainee Liezel Buñao, the program helped her enjoy meeting different people, especially during her solo coverage in Binondo, Manila.

”My internship in PNA helped me enjoy meeting different kinds of people. I was tasked to write a story on the aspirations of the Filipino Chinese community in Binondo for the Chinese New Year in 2014,” she said.

Buñao recalled she was nervous with the experience at first, with the uncertainty of exploring a new area.

"I felt accomplished after my visit in Binondo, not only because it was a requirement at my internship, but more importantly I enjoyed doing it. You feel really nervous inside not knowing which street you are passing, but you are happy going through it," she said.

Buñao also stressed the internship helped her learn to rely on people.

"I asked directions from people and they helped me. They showed me one of the temples and told their stories," she said.

Working for an events and marketing company now, Buñao said the enthusiasm to meet people that she got from the Binondo report currently helps her with her job.

"I'm employed in an events and marketing company now and I still enjoy meeting new people. I think my internship (with PNA) is compatible with my work. I'm happy every time I go out," she said.

Buñao also recalled she had the opportunity to meet a descendant of the national hero Jose Rizal in one of her intern assignments.

"In one of the coverages, I met one of the descendants of Dr. Jose Rizal -- I never imagined to meet someone related to the national hero," she said.

Overall, she enjoyed her OJT experience due to her exposure to new perspectives.

"There's an unusual feeling after meeting different people -- you're seeing and hearing their perspective. I still feel that -- now I'm working -- it's a really good feeling," Buñao said.

Erickson Reeve Malabana, a former intern from the University of the East, also recognized why PNA is different from other media outlets.

"It taught me the valuable ability to write without bias, covering both sides of the story instead of the predominant way of writing in popular channels -- where the government’s side is downplayed even though there were clear efforts to address, mitigate, or solve a problem," he said.

The former trainee also said the skills he developed in PNA helped him land a job in a local paper.

"Thanks to PNA, I was able to work in my field as a news writer, the skills that I developed during my time under the wing of my mentor Priam Nepomuceno allowed me to become a writer for a local publication just one month after I had graduated from my university," he said.

Malabana bared he had no forte in writing news before his internship.

"News writing was difficult for me, as my ability had yet to be developed during that time. But, as I continued through my internship, I began to learn the basics and improve on them," he said.

With the skills he learned from his internship in 2014, the former trainee also emphasized he owes PNA for his success.

"If it weren’t for the encouragement of the office staff and reporters of the PNA, who acted as a second family of mine during my days as one of their trainees, I would have never gone this far -- nor been able to work in my field as efficient as I am now," Malabana said. (PNA) SCS/BNB/ANP/FMC/LSJ/JLD

Friday, February 26, 2016

Stalled Bicol airport project may affect administration bets --Salceda
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) -- Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said on Wednesday the administration candidates might suffer in the upcoming May elections in Bicol, mainly due to the stalled completion of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Daraga, Albay.

“Blame (Transportation Secretary Joseph) Abaya for the loss of the administration candidates,” Salceda said, pointing out that the international airport should have been completed and made operational this year, given the project timeline.

He feared that administration candidates would experience the anger of Bicolano voters, specifically the Albayanos, who are dismayed by the slow pace of the implementation of the airport project by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

In an interview, Salceda said he was disappointed with the agency's delay in the implementation of the BIA despite the readiness of funds to carry it out.

Earlier, the Albay chief executive expressed dismay over the statement of Transportation Secretary Abaya blaming the losing bidders for the delays in government flagship projects, like airports and seaports.

In a letter to Abaya on Feb. 1, Salceda urged the DOTC chief to speed up the award of the contract for the Phase 2A of the BIA, covering the construction of land side facilities which was bid out on Dec. 8 last year.

“The biggest losers here are the Bicolanos and they are really sour at the additional two-year delay in an already-delayed project,” he said.

Salceda lamented the slow implementation of the project after the DOTC disqualified a winning bidder and is set to hold another bidding that would further delay the project.

By declaring a failed bidding, DOTC’s Bids and Awards Committee found a convenient excuse to conduct another bidding.

“This would further delay – by at least one year – the actual construction of the long-awaited BIA. All our best laid-out plans for tourism development will suffer as a consequence,” Salceda stressed.

He urged Abaya to personally look into the project bidding to ensure that the transaction is above board.

“I don’t want to think that there are favored contractors in the DOTC because this doesn’t speak well of the administration’s 'Daang Matuwid' (straight path) mantra," the Liberal Party Albay leader added.

He said Albayanos are appealing for the immediate implementation of the international airport, as he understands that the project is not the only major infrastructure project suffering from unjustified delays.

"Our people deserve better,” he said.

Salceda said the airport is a Public-Private Partnership project and was allocated the amount of Php2.2 billion for the construction of runway, apron and taxiway which are now being implemented.

The government has already poured in some Php1.6 billion since 2009 for the construction of the SLIA (Southern Luzon International Airport).

The funds were released in three tranches: Php300 million in 2009 and another Php300 million in 2010 for concrete road construction and site development.

The Php970-million funding released in 2012 was spent for the construction of a 2.1-kilometer runway according to international standards.

Salceda, however, said the scope of work was only confined to the air side while the structures at the land side area of the proposed airport is still being worked out.

He said the project, once finished, will not only totally address the technical limitations of the existing Legazpi Airport due to the frequent flight cancellations but will also provide a safer air transportation to the growing number of passengers owing to the booming tourism industry in the area.

Businessmen are becoming impatient over the delay in the construction of the BIA in Daraga, Albay.

“We are missing out on opportunities, especially tourist arrivals, as the Southern Luzon International Airport will reduce transportation costs and travel time,” Salceda said of the delay.

The governor sees the generation of 1.5 million tourists coming to Bicol by 2017 once the international airport has been completed.

While there are several airports north of Manila like the Clark International Airport and the Laoag International Airport, Salceda said, there is none in the southern part of Manila.

The BIA would be a viable market and serve as alternate gateway to Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao, especially in times of extreme weather disturbances in these areas.

It lies in a 148-hectare area with 2,100-meter runway strip, to be equipped with night landing capability and takeoff facilities, control tower, passenger and cargo terminal, car park, fire station, and other modern facilities. (PNA) SCS/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS

Albay sets steps vs avian pests

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) -- The Provincial Veterinary Service Office (PVSO) of Albay is now ready with precautionary measures against the avian pest that is reportedly affecting small and large chicken producers across the province, Governor Joey Salceda said Thursday.

Salceda said he has directed Dr. Florencio Adonay, PVSO chief, to implement measures to control and prevent the spread of the pest, locally known as “rabia”.

Quoting a report from the PVSO, he said the cases are still above the normal level “so the appropriate thing to do is implement counter-measures.”

“The preventive measures are being carried out during regular village visitations by the El Niño Caravan,” the governor said.

The counter-measures include: coordination with local government units for the gathering and reporting of new cases; submission of specimens to animal laboratory for examination; inventory and purchase of vaccine supply; and conduct of mass vaccinations to affected poultry farms in villages.

Salceda also directed village officials to activate their respective animal health workers to monitor and report avian pest cases.

And in case the avian pest incidence worsens, he urged them recommend the declaration of a state of calamity in the affected towns, cities or in the entire province.

Salceda, however, denied an avian pest outbreak earlier reported by media, saying there are no official data or report that said an avian pest was occurring in the communities.

The PVSO said it had only received verbal reports of sign and symptoms of the disease from veterinary technicians in villages in the towns of Tiwi, Bacacay, Camalig and Daraga and Tabaco City.

The signs and symptoms of the disease were observed and found positive at backyard farms.

In Albay, no case of disease has been reported in commercial farms, which account for 85 percent of domestic production, Salceda said.

“We have big farms with almost three million per load capacity, at 60 days, that is 18 million. Albay is a big exporter of chicken,” he said, adding that the issue with “rabia” is affecting only small farmers or households in terms of income and food security. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS

Albay poet laureate: Freedom from poverty is the real spirit of EDSA Revolution
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) -- An official of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) said liberation from poverty is the real spirit of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

KWF Commissioner Abdon Balde Jr., also Albay's poet laureate, stressed this on the 30th anniversary celebration here of this historical event that freed the Filipinos from the dictatorial regime of former Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Balde said the Filipino people, especially the youth, should always nurture and remember the spirit of the EDSA Revolution.

The bravery of those who dauntlessly fought to attain freedom from dictatorship -- from those in the media to the armed forces, Church and all sectors of the society -- should always be remembered and valued, he said.

Because of the unity against dictatorship, Filipinos created a niche in the world map, showing everyone that a peaceful revolt is possible.

The KWP commissioner said the EDSA People Power served as an inspiration to Nepal, on which he wrote the "Filipino Legacies in Nepal before the Everest Conquest", which first came out at 9 p.m. June 19, 2006 and published on Page A13 of the June 20, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Balde, however, felt sad that after 30 years, the true objective of EDSA Revolution has never been achieved to make the lives of the Filipinos better.

He expressed with dismay that freedom belongs only those at the top level of the Philippine society, the powerful and the rich, and not the poor Filipinos.

True democracy is in the fight against poverty and that all ordinary Filipino families should feel the growth of the economy, he said.

He said a Filipino family should have livelihood and dignity as means to achieve freedom from poverty. The Filipino masses should have enough education on the forthcoming elections in May wherein they should realize the sanctity of their ballots.

He urged the voters not to believe in empty and unfulfilled promises and cast their ballots on the basis of who could lift them up from poverty through livelihood, employment and dignity for the ordinary Filipino.

Balde said kindness should be down to the village or household level and that the next president should be clean, with heart and and excellent one.(PNA) JMC/FGS/NIM/CBD/EDS

Bicol police bags 8 more wanted persons in past 2 days

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) -- Different units of the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office raked in eight more wanted persons in the past two days, the police regional journal showed Thursday.

Hauled into police jails were Gerry M. Ines, Willy B. Roco, Ramon V. Manzano Jr., Ricardo Q. Casaul, Rodel D. Musni, Melvin B. Valenzuela, Efren A. Biag, Ronel D. Castro

Ines, Roco and Manzano were arrested on Wednesday while Casaul, Musni, Valenzuela, Biag and Castro got apprehended on Tuesday.

At 10:40 a.m., Wednesday, joint operatives of the Pili Municipal Police Station (MPS) led by PO3 Alvin C. Corporal and Gainza MPS led by Police Senior Insp. Frederick L. Aguirre collared Ines at Barangay Caroyroyan, Pili, Camarines Sur by virtue of three warrants of arrest issued by judges Pedro M. Redoña, Vivencio Gregorio G. Atutubo III and Erwin Virgilio P. Ferrer, of Regional Trial Court Branches 31, 32 and 33, Pili, Camarines Sur.

The suspect was wanted for violation of Sec. 5 (a) and 6 of Republic Act 9262 (Physical and Psychological Violence) with bail recommended of Php 12,000 Php 24,000 and no bail recommended, respectively, for the three cases.

Elements of Ligao CPS cornered Roco at 11 a.m. at his residence at Barangay Binatagan, Ligao City on order of Judge Maria Theresa San Juan-Loquillano of RTC Branch 11, Ligao City for violation of Sec. 6 of RA 8042, with a bail of Php36,000.

Pamplona MPS members led by Police Senior Insp. Chester M. Enriquez Jr., police chief, caught Manzano at his residence at Zone-5, Barangay Tampadong, Pamplona, Camarines Sur.

The police were armed with an arrest warrant issued by Judge Erwin Virgilio P. Ferrer of RTC Branch 20, Naga City for violation of Sec. 10 (a) of RA 7610 with a recommended bail of Php 80,000.

Personnel of Legazpi CPS handcuffed Casaul on order of Pedro R. Soriao, presiding judge of RTC Branch 8, Legazpi City for rape through sexual assault under Art. 266-A of RA8353 with a bail of Php200,000.

They found the suspect at his residence at P-32, Barangay Gogon, Legazpi City.

Musni’s arrest was done by Sorsogon CPS personnel led by SPO1 Orlando Dondonilla who were armed with a WOA signed by Judge Maximo R. Ables of RTC Br. 52 for failure to appear during a scheduled hearing for estafa.

No bail was recommended for the temporary liberty of Musni who was nabbed at his residence at Barangay Bibincahan, Sorsogon City.

Iriga CPS found Valenzuela at his residence Barangay Sta. Elena, Iriga City where they served a WOA on order of Ma. Luzy B. Torres-Clasio, presiding judge, MTCC, Br. 2, Iriga City.

Torres-Casio also ordered the arrest of Biag who did not resist when found by personnel of Baao MPS led by P03 Jeffrey Tabayag at his dwelling at Barangay Bagumbayan, Baao, Camarines Sur.

Manuel L Sese, presiding judge of RTC Branch 45, Masbate City, ordered the arrest of Castro who the police found at his home at Barangay Poblacion, Balud, Masbate.

His bail was fixed at Php212,000. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/RSM

DA’s PRDP eyes empowerment of abaca, pineapple farmers in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) -– The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) has set its eyes on the empowerment of abaca and pineapple farmers in Bicol through a set of business plans geared towards the establishment of processing plants designed to add value to these indigenous crops.

The Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP) component of the PRDP is pushing for the approval of these plans — the Php22.4-million Pineapple Trading and Processing Project for Camarines Norte and the Php24.8-million Abaca Fiber Processing and Trading Enterprise for Catanduanes.

These projects are seen to benefit a combined total of 13,559 farmers, rural women and cooperative members in communities of the two provinces which are the region’s leading producers of the crops, Adelina Losa, the component’s head, said in a statement reaching the Philippine News Agency here Thursday.

Camarines Norte is home to the queen Formosa variety, which is touted as the world’s sweetest pineapple for which the province, sitting at the northwestern end of Bicolandia, takes pride, being its only commercial producer. The province accounts for over 90 percent of the region’s supply of the fruit.

Camarines Norte is also the country’s fourth largest producer of pineapple with its 2,400 hectares of farmland whose soil is rich in potassium — the biggest factor contributing to the sweetness of the fruit - distributed among its 12 municipalities, from where an average of 40,000 metric tons of queen pineapple fruits are harvested per cropping cycle of 12 months.

The proposed business enterprise is projected to benefit 299 farmer-owners, 1,330 farm laborers, and 572 processors, laborers and workers on its first year of implementation alone.

It also aims an increase of Php2,600 in the monthly rate of workers engaged in the processing and trading of pineapple in the province.

What the cooperative needs from DA-PRDP is assistance in providing the additional equipment, building and logistics necessary to meet the market’s demand, Losa said.

The Abaca Fiber Processing and Trading Enterprise project, on the other hand, is expected to benefit most of the nearly 15,500 Catanduanes farmers mainly relying on the province’s 35,500 hectares of abaca plantations that produce a average of 19,000 metric tons of fiber, representing 33.2 percent of the total national annual production.

This makes abaca the province’s backbone industry that has made the island, known as the first landmass to be kissed by the waves of the Pacific Ocean -- making it highly exposed to tropical cyclones hitting the country’s eastern seaboard, a prized contributor to country’s fiber export earnings reaching about USD 120 million yearly.

The proponent of the abaca project is the Pinoy Lingap-Damayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PLDMC) which started its dry-run operations of the processing and trading enterprise in Viga, Catanduanes, generating a positive response from the island’s abaca community.

Losa said the project aims to provide an incentive markup as well as productivity bonus worth Php1.00 for every kilogram of fiber sold to the cooperative, an intention that is projected to increase farmers’ income.

Though the PDRP, she said, the PLDMC aims to be a major player in the local abaca industry in Catanduanes which could change the local economic landscape as it will break the monopoly of abaca fiber trading by influential and wealthy local businessmen.

Wellington Flores, planning officer of the regional Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) office in Bicol, said the cooperative’s marketing strategy will open the abaca farmers’ horizon to buyers.

“This is a good investment because abaca farmers will have fixed buyers and fixed source of income. It will bring the true price of abaca fiber to the farmers whose majority lives below poverty level,” Flores said.

The establishment of abaca processing plants in Catanduanes is a development long-been sought by the province to add value to the crop that has given the island the glory of being its top producer in the country.

Called a smart crop owing to abaca plants’ resistance to typhoons and drought, it serves as the top agricultural commodity that keeps the island’s local economy alive from the farm gate down to traders’ receipts -- providing stable employment, livelihood and business opportunities leading to the province’s lower poverty rate compared to other Bicol areas.

Losa said both business plans for pineapple and abaca in the region submitted for funding support by the PDRP are aligned with the government’s goal of inclusive growth and the Project’s development objectives.

The business plans, she added, meet PRDP’s objectives of at least five percent increase in household incomes of farmers, seven-percent increase in value of annual marketed outputs, and 30- percent increase in incomes for targeted beneficiaries engaged in enterprise development, making their approval necessary, she added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/RSM

(Feature) Ligao City villages now equipped with DOST’s Tech4Ed centers
By Danny O. Calleja

LIGAO CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) -- Some barangays in the city are now enjoying online access to government services, non-formal education, skills training, job markets and business portals, courtesy of the Tech4Ed project of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Established in two strategically located barangays in this young Bicol city serving as center for Albay province’s 3rd congressional district, the project launched over the week materialized via a partnership between the local government and the DOST’s Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO).

The ICTO is the lead implementing agency of the government in all information and communication technology (ICT)-related efforts with special focus on areas of industry development, policy, infrastructure development, research and development and capacity building of the public sector,

“We are so thankful to DOST-ICTO for this project that provides not just basic hands-on ICT training, Internet-based research and email services but offers expansive help and solutions for the marginalized sector to enhance their skills and increase their worth in the employment market,” Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua on Thursday said.

Its services are open for free to everyone in the city -- including out-of-school youth, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, indigenous peoples and women needing Internet access to information and communication as well non-formal education and skills training, she said.

So far, Alsua said, two Tech4Ed centers, each with three computer sets, now operate in the city--one in Barangay Nasisi for its Mayon Unit villages and the other one in Barangay Paulba for the upland communities.

Each center is manned by an information technology specialists assigned by the city government to assist the users.

Nasisi barangay chairman Jurlan Buello said the center now enhances the learning experiences of his constituents through online access to government services, vital sources of information worldwide, educational material providers, health tips and the job market.

Among the features of Tech4Ed are the Learning English Applications for Pinoys (LEAP) training software, eSkwela learning modules, Online TESDA courses, and e-Library which provides learning materials for entrepreneurs and jobseekers including ICT for Financial Literacy, ICT for Entrepreneurs, ICT for Digital Literacy, and ICT for Career Development.

Also included is e-Govserve which provides various users access to government services such as BaLinkBayan for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) online information, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) registration, as well as Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) information.

Applications for birth certificates with the National Statistics Office (NSO) and National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) clearances can also be done through the e-Govserve.

Among its segments of Tech4Ed are eEduSkills that enables education seekers to gain a high school diploma through informal education; eAssist that offers digital and employment opportunities to vulnerable groups and marginalized communities; and eAssess that provides students with industry partnerships that offer them evaluations for job-readiness.

Other segments are mAgri that seeks to empower farmers, cooperatives, agribusiness and food processors by helping them obtain real time information price in the market; and mMarketplace which enables new competitors in the market specifically from rural communities.

Alsua said the facilities now encourage her constituents in the barangays to make use of them in looking for opportunities for personal growth and career development that would help them ease the economic and social difficulties confronting their rural communities.

“We were given this opportunity to avail of the advancements in ICT so we take advantage of it as a bigger prospect in information gathering and dissemination as well as for the local government in the delivery of basic social services to our people,” she said.

ICTOs’ information technology engineer Antonio Bonganay explained that unlike in the previous years when ICT is limited to only the privileged few, the technology now is being made by the government available also to the less-privileged down to the rural areas with the implementation of Tech4Ed.

The project, he said, provides access points for individuals and communities to bridge the digital and education gap in order to promote grassroots development and opportunities for inclusive growth and poverty reduction.

The DOST-ICTO is establishing thousands of Tech4Ed centers, covering most regions across the country and giving priority to communities that are less served by Internet connectivity, a marketing strategy that proves to be one of the most vital components of the project.

In Bicol, Albay is the first of the region’s six provinces to benefit from it with this city the second in the province, next to Sto. Domingo town where a center has been established in Barangay Lidong about a month ago, Bonganay said.

“The mark of digitization would be a truly connected and inclusive society that provides equal opportunities for everyone—every race, religion, municipality and human. Since technology proves itself a luxury for most, it is hard to ensure that the opportunity reaches far beyond the homes in the capital,” he said.

However, according to him, the government, through the DOST-ICTO, is addressing this issue with Tech4Ed that stands for Technology for Education, to gain Employment and train Entrepreneurs towards Economic Development.

It is a project that aims to harness ICT to enable, empower and transform society toward creating an inclusive, integrated and equitable countryside, through providing opportunities for employment and empowering entrepreneurs.

Its mission is simple: to harness the power of ICT in society towards creating a progressive countryside in 42,000 Tech4ED centers nationwide, Bonganay said.

“By giving the marginalized access to digital opportunities, Tech4Ed is now making it possible for hundreds and thousands of people to start businesses, get education, gain employment and take their first steps towards improving their families’ well-being, through a single ICT portal in a single center,” he added. (PNA) BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD/RSM

Boat capsizes off Camarines Sur village; operators, passengers safe

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) -- The operator and passengers of a motorized boat were rescued after it capsized at about 7 p.m. Wednesday at the seawaters of Barangay Anib, Sipocot, Camarines Sur.

A police report said the boat was going to Barangay San Vicente from Barangay Manga of the town when the accident happened.

The passengers would serve as advance party to a medical mission sponsored by the local government unit of Sipocot and Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr.

Saved were Virgel Mark Baldoza, Chito Pena, Cherry San Joaquin, Renne Nebria, Leah Artiaga, Dennis Oliva, Francis Louie Ramos, Arquimedes Dolor, Virgil Francisco, Myel Faith Navarroza, Joana Mae Alemania, Jamir Abejuela, Jay Candelaria, Jay Marbella, Mariel Alemania, Mary Grace Genio, Orly Consulta, Marlon Sto. Domingo, Jojo Saberon, and John Aira Tarvoli.

It was not yet clear what caused the motorboat to capsize. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/RSM

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

DA’s Rice Processing Center projects increase farm productivity, farmers’ income in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Feb. 23 (PNA) -– Bicol farmers are now realizing the benefits of the multi-million-peso Rice Processing Center (RPC) and farming modernization projects earlier awarded to them by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The 400-strong San Antonio Farmers Irrigators Multipurpose Cooperative (SAFIMCO) in Buhi, Camarines Sur got from the DA regional office based here in June 2014 its RPC worth Php6 million.

Its basic components are a one-ton-per-hour multi-pass rice mill worth Php1.2 million; 300-square-meter warehouse costing Php3.3 million; a Php.5-million administrative building; and Php1 million operating capital.

Ahead of the RPC, the same cooperative also received from the DA solar dryers, a tractor with trailer, flatbed dryer, palay shed and a warehouse as part of the agency’s farm modernization undertakings.

RPCs are established in cooperation with Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) to lessen dependence of farmers on rice millers and traders and dramatically reduce post-harvest losses.

These are facilities developed by the PHilMech which can be availed of by farmers' associations in Bicol under the Rice Mechanization Program of the DA which aims to optimize the use of modern technologies in farming and offers machinery and equipment that lessen the drudgery of field works, lower operational cost and increase farmers' yield and income.

With these grants, SAFIMCO members were able to collectively increase rice production in the 266 hectares of farms they cultivate as gleaned from the operations of its RPC in 2015, which saw a total procurement of over Php2.2-million worth of milled rice which the cooperative has sold to consumers and traders in neighboring markets.

Loreto Ceneta, the cooperative’s chairman, on Tuesday recalled that they started in 1992 with a meager capital of only Php30,000 used in the palay procurement business of the organization.

“Now, after all those assistance from the DA, we already have fixed assets amounting to some Php33 million while our individual members have also increased by more than double their farm income using the RPC facilities and farming modernization facilities provided,” Ceneta said.

Abelardo Bragas, the DA regional executive director, said the SAFIMCO is among the groups of rice farmers in Bicol helping the government in its rice self sufficiency efforts under the agriculture department’s Agri-Pinoy Program on Rice that provides new technologies, hi-bred seeds and farm mechanization equipment.

Another is the Narangasan Multipurpose Cooperative (NMPC) of Milagros, a second-class coastal and lowland municipality of the island-province of Masbate, whose people rely mainly on farming and fishing for their livelihood.

The NMPC, a 120-strong cooperative of farmers, received its RPC project of the same cost also in 2014 and through this facility and seed money, the group was made beneficiary of agriculture intervention programs in line with the Aquino administration’s Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Program that has something to do with the rice self-sufficiency target.

Today, the group is no longer dependent on middlemen in the marketing of their harvest and those availing of the services of its RPC can already command better price for their palay produced because it is dried and milled first before being brought to the market, preventing post-harvest losses and improving milling recovery, Bragas said.

The NMPC also sells rice to the neighborhood and hometown consumers at prices lower that the commercial varieties being offered by local retailers and for the year 2015, it earned a net income of Php311,075 from milling 8,313 bags or 384,644 kilos of palay alone, the DA regional chief said, citing recent reports received.

One more recipient of RPC in Bicol is the Saradit na Kristiyanong Komunidad (SKK) Organic Farmers Association of Libmanan, Camarines Sur, which got the facility, also in 2014, worth Php16 million.

It is equipped, among others, with a multi-pass rice mill with 1.2-ton-per-hour output capacity and a minimum of 65-percent milling recovery and a 550-square-meter warehouse with complete drainage, rat proofing and a three-phase line electrical system including transformers.

Bragas said the facility benefits farmers in the 11 municipalities in 2nd and 3rd districts of Camarines Sur covering 80 farmers’ organizations.

Owing to the bulk of its operation, the SKK was granted last year by DA with another 360-square-meter warehouse, additional flat bed dryer with agitator and multipurpose drying pavement, one unit combine rice harvester, a four-wheel drive mini tractor and mechanical transplanter.

All these multi-million-peso facilities that farmers in Masbate and Camarines Sur now enjoy serve as a big gift representing the commitment of the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III to help the agricultural sector grow through the DA, Bragas said.

These groups of farmers have been instrumental to Bicol’s attaining of regional rice self-sufficiency, he added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD

Mt. Bulusan emits 500-m high ash column

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 23 (PNA) -- Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon spewed a 500-meter-high grayish ash column, which drifted towards villages in the town of Juban and Irosin, at about 5:01 p.m. Monday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanolgy and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, said the volcano exhibited two successive minor explosions that produced a grayish ash plume, followed by a steam and ash plume, which was 500 meters high, that drifted towards the west side of the volcano.

Laguerta said the eruption was a “phreatic” type as indicated by the two steam-driven explosions that took place.

The eruption consisted of two earthquakes, followed by rock-fracturing events a few second later by an explosion-type earthquake that lasted for about four minutes and 20 seconds.

Prior to the low-energy ash and steam ejection on Monday afternoon, Phivolcs seismic instruments detected no volcanic earthquake, although increased seismicity was recorded over the weekend.

In a phone interview, Laguerta said the easterly wind that prevailed triggered the ash fall to drift to the villages of Cogon and Bulos in Irosin town and Puting Sapa and Sangkayon in Juban town -- areas located at the west side of the volcano.

The Phivolcs will examine on Tuesday the extent of ashfall that drifted towards the villages in Juban and Irosin towns.

Laguerta said the phreatic explosion might have been produced by hydrothermal fluid or steam.

He said the steam pressurization underneath the volcano edifice might have triggered the movements in the local earthquake faults, saying further that “it needs to be thoroughly evaluated.”

The Phivolcs official said it needs further close monitoring because the volcano, although still in restive state, did not show signs of magma movements signified by volcanic tremors or ground deformation.

Laguerta said Mt. Bulusan remained in a restive mode following series of eruptions that have taken place since June last year.

Alert Level 1 remains in effect and the Phivolcs warned the villagers not to venture in the 4-km Permanent Danger Zone due to sudden phreatic explosions.

It also told civil aviation authorities to advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden phreatic eruption can be hazardous to an aircraft and its passengers. (PNA) BNB/FGS/MSA/CBD

Cops nab Sorsogon town’s No. 10 most wanted man

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 23 (PNA) -- Joint elements of Juban Municipal Police Station (MPS) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Sorsogon arrested the No. 10 Most Wanted Municipal Personality in Juban, Sorsogon, a police report said Tuesday.

The authorities handcuffed Balbino B. Guevarra at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Sitio Calle Nueva, Barangay South Poblacion, Juban, Sorsogon.

The police officers were armed with a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Adolfo G. Fajardo, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 55, Irosin, Sorsogon, for robbery under Article 293 in relation to Article 294 (5) of the Revised Penal Code.

Guevarra’s case was docketed under Criminal Case No. 2813 with a bail fixed at PHP180,000.

He is included in the Lambat Sibat watchlist of criminal gang, and is now under the custody of the Juban MPS for presentation to Fajardo. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

3 improvised hand guns yielded to police

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 23 (PNA) -– Authorities received three surrendered home-made firearms in two separate occasions in Camarines Sur and Masbate provinces.

In Pamplona, Camarines Sur, Marijun I. Albino, accompanied by the village chief of San Ramon, Pamplona, appeared to the Pamplona Municipal Police Station (MPS) and voluntarily surrendered one improvised home-made gun propelled by alcohol and marble, and one improvised shotgun (sumpak) with one live ammunition for shot gun.

The home-made guns are now in the custody of the Pamplona MPS for proper disposition.

In Masbate, Edgar I. Benitez, village security volunteer of Barangay Malubi, Aroroy Masbate, turned over to Aroroy MPS one homemade shotgun locally known as "Riot" at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

A police investigation disclosed that the firearm was recovered by a certain Rolly V. Ibanez, a farmer and a resident of the same place from the possession of Jeston O. Mato, who managed to escape to an unknown direction.(PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

Catanduanes police nab man for drug, firearms

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 23 (PNA) -- Joint operatives of three police units in Catanduanes arrested the No. 5 drug personality in the province at his residence in Barangay Gogon Centro, Virac town on Monday.

Armed with Search Warrant No. 2016-10 for violation of RA 9165 issued by Lelu P. Contreras, executive judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 43, 5th Judicial Region, Virac, Catanduanes, members of the Virac Municipal Police Station, Catanduanes Provincial Police office and Catanduanes Intelligence an Detection Team led by Insp. Jean B. Calleja cornered Manuel Charlie Taopo at his residence.

During the search operation, the raiding authorities recovered and seized from the suspect six big transparent heat-sealed plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance believed to be shabu, one caliber .22 revolver magnum without serial number and with four live ammunition, two cellphones, various drug-related and non-drug items, peso bills in various denominations, one drive max capsule, and one wallet containing two driver's licenses, one Land Bank ATM Card, one temporary driver license, one OR for a driver's license, two PHP20 bills and one BDO deposit slip.

The search and seizure operation was witnessed by media representative Donnie Vic G. Tabirara, barangay chairman Eliseo D. Frontuna Jr. and barangay kagawad Santos Burce.

Taopo underwent a medical examination at EBMC Hospital in Virac, Catanduanes and is now under the custody of Virac MPS which has filed cases against him for violation of RA 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002) and RA 10591 (Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition).(PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

Mayon farmers earn extra income from tourism
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 23 (PNA) -- Farmers living at the southeast quadrant of Mount Mayon is now getting additional income as tourist guides and entertainers for visitors going to the famous icon of Albay.

Maria “Nini” Ong-Ravanilla, Department of Tourism Bicol regional director, said Mayon farmers are now being tapped by the city government as partners for tourism promotion as local guides, especially for guests using the all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) for a thrilling adventure.

This development cropped up after the four-story-high lava front formed in 2006 during Mount Mayon “quiet” eruption, which has started to bring employment and livelihood to Mayon farmers, aside from the usual vegetable and other agricultural crops production.

The famous lava front or lava wall, which tumbled down and within the six-kilometer danger zone in the gully of Mabinit village facing the southeast quadrant of this city, is now the region’s top tourist destination following the introduction of an ATV trail going to this nature-made structure.

The blend of agriculture and tourism as a source of livelihood has somewhat raised the farmers' income.

Visitors wanting to experience the excitement of riding an ATV find assistance from Mayon farmers as they go through a snakelike path of the gully and fertile slope of the Mayon Volcano where there is an abundance of agricultural crops, especially vegetables.

The ATV ride for tourists was introduced seven years ago by former city councilor Celoy Chan, whose sons Cyrel and Junjohn manage Your Brother Mayon ATV Tour to promote tourism adventure with the semblance of a science thriller.

The first set of riders that braved the ATV ride going to the the base camp near the lava front are the city government officials led by Mayor Noel Rosal.

Subsequently, Rosal introduced the ATV adventure to Ravanilla, who, in turn, brought along her fellow regional directors from different national government agencies to try the ATV ride along the identified trail to promote another avenue and tourism activity for tourists in pursuit of providing jobs and livelihood and bringing back the glory of Albay tourism after the occurrence of super typhoon "Reming" in 2006.

At first, the ATV tourism adventure here was a bit dull until it became popular among domestic and foreign tourists who love to go on an adventure.

The ATV adventure has become well-known following the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference attended by Secretary General Taleb Rifai two years ago.

The UNWTO meet participants, mostly foreign ministers and associates from about 100 countries, explored the ATV ride everyday from Barangay Pawa to Barangay Mabinit, where the ATV base camp is located, before hiking towards the lava front.

Before the adventure, brothers Cyrel and Junjohn brief ATV riders on the sacred rules and safety for the adventure.

"Wear helmet and face mask, no racing and no overtaking, maintain distance from each other and follow the marshals," they clearly emphasized in a pre-departure briefing.

The ATV is an automatic four-wheeled vehicle designed to cruise over rough terrains and can be driven by a single rider even if he does not how to ride a bike, drive a motorcycle or a car.

The first salvo of the trail is to navigate the 15-meter cemented road before going to an uneven rugged pathway, crisscrossing rivers to snake-like bumpy Mabinit gully channel walled by volcanic debris and boulders scattered over the cliff-to-cliff track, sporadically showing residents engaged in small-time quarrying and vegetable planting.

The final leg of the ATV ride is crisscrossing the flat bed of a river with towering verdant canopy of Agoho trees planted by the elder Chan, the city government of Legazpi, villagers and multi-sector volunteers.

After an hour of thrill and adrenaline-rising off-road ATV drive, the last part of the trail is a upland trek to the four-story-high lava wall.

Atop the lava front is the 400-square-meter helipad used as a base point either for rescue missions and tourism perspective.

The helipad was put up by Bicolano business tycoon Elizaldy “Zaldy” S. Co.

Beyond this paved helipad is a wide expanse of volcanic rocks and boulders towering over the abundant coconut trees.

While being kissed by the gentle breeze from the sea, tourists can relish the panoramic view of Albay Gulf and a sea of development in the city proper.

To ensure a fast descent from the lava front top, one can find answer through the zipline and be a superman, at least for several minutes.

Ravanilla said there are two kinds of ATV adventure: first the ATV Lava Vein, a two-hour trail navigating an 18-km distance, and second, the extreme ATV Mayon Summit, about 4,000 feet above sea level or a five-hour off-road drive halfway from the summit of the Mayon Volcano.

“Upon climbing about 4,000 meters above sea level, there is a community of farmers waiting for tourists who they transport through a carabao sled to see and experience the rustic life,” she said.

In extreme off-road ATV Mayon Summit, tourists will be served local food harvested and cooked by the farmers such as sweet potato, banana and cassava, served with a refreshing buko juice.

After eating, the tourists will be ferried by farmers through the carabao sled going to the farm where they can harvest and buy a variety of vegetables and crops, Ravanilla said.

“The tourists will be allowed to harvest crops and vegetable of their choice then pay the respective amounts incurred to our farmers. Through this, we are helping the community of farmers in the slopes of Mayon while linking them with agriculture tourism as our partners in national development,” she said.

At least 300 tourists, both foreign and domestic, have been going daily to the area for an all-terrain-vehicle drive where farmers and tourists bond amid a rustic way of life within the fertile slopes of Mayon volcano as the City Government of Legazpi and the DOT promote an off-road adventure in agri-tourism here. (PNA) LAP/FGS/RBB/CBD

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

More visitors coming to Albay park
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- More and more visitors are flocking to the Albay Park and Wildlife (APW) in this city. From January to June last year alone, 64,882 visitors came to the park, which collected Php2.2 million in the form of entrance fee from them.

“The figure could have been higher if not for the park’s closure to give way to Gov. Joey Salceda’s order for its immediate renovation to accommodate construction of additional facilities,” said Dr. Florencio Adonay, Albay provincial veterinarian.

Although the facility was nearing renovation, Adonay said the park is still a top grosser in gate receipts because of its welcoming environs of spacious mini-forest and caged animals numbering about 22 plus the 46 others representing various species.

Added to it, he said, are the amusement features consisting of playground, biking area, lagoon for boating, cottages for picnics and meeting, horseback riding area, food court, zipline and a nerve-wracking wall-climbing facilities.

Adonay said the park has been a favorite itinerary for educational tours, family picnics, meetings and social gatherings, adding that the most important role of the facility is to serve not only as an eco-tourism area but also as a wildlife rescue center.

“We also cater to research on wild animals as well as everything about flora and fauna,” he added.

Located at the foot of Lignon Hill in Legazpi City, the five-hectare facility is expected to re-open by second quarter of this year, maybe in time for the province’s hosting of the Palarong Pambansa in April — a time when Albay expects thousands of visitors.(PNA) JMC/FGS/CBD

3 Bicol provinces gear for oral polio vaccine catch-up immunization week
By Gina V. Rodriguez

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon in the Bicol Region will be among 65 provinces in the country where the nationwide oral polio vaccine (OPV) catch-up immunization of the Department of Health (DOH) will be conducted on February 22-26.

Hundreds of barangay health workers, midwives and nurses deployed in various rural health units will be in fixed posts such as barangay health centers, health stations and covered basketball courts in the morning and will go from house to house in the afternoon to administer the oral dose, said Dr. Gladys Escote, DOH Albay officer.

She said children, 0-59 months or those under five years of age, will be given the supplementary dose, regardless of whether they have completed the three doses and booster dose in the routine OPV immunization program in the barangays.

In the routine immunization program, a one-and-a-half-month-old child takes a dose of OPV with intervals of 30 days for the succeeding second and third doses.

On the third month, the child takes a booster dose.

Escote, in an interview Monday, said their data showed these three of the six Bicol provinces (that also include Masbate, Catanduanes and Camarines Norte) have “low OPV3 coverage.”

She said the low OPV3 coverage is due to the mothers' or caregivers’ failure to bring their infants to health centers for the third dose of OPV because of “increased mobility” or transfer of work to other areas of the country or overseas.

The activity seeks to meet a 95-percent OPV coverage in the targeted areas.

Escote added these areas included in the catch-up immunization also have reported cases of “acute flaccid paralysis (AFP)” characterized by the weakening of the lower extremities.

The DOH, in a memorandum circular issued to its regional health officials on Jan. 18, said the catch-up immunization hopes to mitigate the risk of a wild polio virus outbreak in the Philippines after it has been identified as among the countries at highest risk due to its “low OPV3 coverage and inadequate surveillance for AFP.”

“While the world is getting closer to globally eradicate polio, high population immunity needs to be maintained in polio-free countries to prevent re-infection,” the DOH said.

It said the number of polio cases caused by wild polio viruses has declined to 99 percent in 2015 compared to 1988.

Currently Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries reporting wild polio virus outbreaks.

Escote said the catch-up immunization project is a preparation to the nationally synchronized switch from the trivalent OPV (tOPV) to the bivalent OPV (bOPV ) on April 27.

She said the bivalent vaccine to be used in the country by April 27 will have only two kinds of weakened virus content as the third type of virus content in the trivalent vaccine has already been eliminated or “deemed negligible” because of the mass immunizations and routine campaigns in countries where the virus used to be prevalent.

The DOH Albay official said the switch from trivalent to bivalent OPV is a worldwide activity of the World Health Organization scheduled from March to May 1 this year, the season when the virus is seen to be scarce or weak.

“The Philippines chose April 27 to make the (synchronized) switch,” she said.

Escote said the goal of the catch-up immunization campaign is also to use up the presently available tOPV before use of the bOPV is enforced.

She said that in Albay, there are 1,000 vials of tOPV available for the catch up campaign and each vial has 20 drops that will be good for 20 children. (PNA) FFC/FGS/GVR/CBD

Albay town named DSWD’s regional awardee for 2015 Gawad Listahanan
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) –- The Department of Social Welfare and Development has chosen the town of Sto. Domingo in Albay as the regional awardee for the 2015 Gawad Listahanan.

Mayor Herbie Aguas and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Ma. Salome Villanueva accepted the plaque of recognition from Regional Director Arnel Garcia during the agency’s 65th founding anniversary on Friday at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation, Legazpi City.

The Sto. Domingo local government unit (LGU) used the Listahanan database for the provision of financial assistance, scholarships and referral system to its constituents.

The municipality entered the competition under the municipal category in the national level, wherein Jaen town bagged the title.

Meanwhile, Baguio City won over Bislig City and Cebu City for the city category; while Iloilo and Pampanga over Palawan for the provincial category.

Garcia extended his gratitude to the Sto. Domingo-LGU for its unwavering support to the implementation of Listahanan.

Gawad Listahanan is an award conferred to LGUs for providing services to the poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable sector of the society.

It aims to promote the convergence of all social protection stakeholders on the identified poor to effectively address the different aspects of poverty.

Spearheaded by the DSWD, the Listahanan is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are.

This system makes available to national government agencies, LGUs and other social protection stakeholders a database of poor families as a basis for identifying potential beneficiaries of their social protection programs and services. (PNA) JMC/FGS/CBD

Albay student decides to vote after watching Pilipinas presidential debate
By Connie Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- With certainty, she is now decided to vote for the upcoming 2016 presidential election after watching the 1st Pilipinas 2016 presidential debate on the national television late Sunday afternoon.

I am very convinced by what former DILG secretary Mar Roxas said. He will continue what was started by the Aquino administration. Being the future leader of this country, I want a president that is firm, honest and with clean hands," Siena Lei Tabuena, a graduating engineering student of Divine World College of Legazpi, said after watching the verba tussle among the five presidential aspirants.

For her, she said, Roxas is a man with will power to serve the country.

"Mar Roxas is my president. Among the presidentiables, he has a good track record in good governance, with his experience as a public servant, I really believe he will win," Christine D. Villanueva, a mother, a professional teacher and a wife of a police officer, said.

Roxas has a heart for the policemen, she added.

Joan Arango of EM's Barrio believes that Grace Poe is the right one for the position.

"Lahat 'yan corrupt, lahat yan may sariling interest. Try naman natin ang bago at 'yan si Grace Poe," Arango said.(PNA) RMA/FGS/CBD/EDS

Monday, February 22, 2016

Salceda steps up moves vs smoking in Albay
By Irene A. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- To further reduce, if not totally eliminate, smoking among employees of the provincial government of Albay, Gov. Joey Salceda has urged smoking personnel to enroll in the Provincial Smoking Cessation Program of the Capitol.

Salceda also tasked every PGA office to submit a list of employees interested to join the program to the Provincial Human Resource Management Office not later than Feb. 28.

He hopes that with this measure and with the full cooperation of PGA personnel, all PGA offices and workstations shall be able to establish a healthy workforce which, in turn, would result in a more productive service to the Albayanos.

Salceda has also issued a memorandum calling for the strict implementation of the provisions stated in the Albay Smoke-Free Ordinance passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in 2012.

The ordinance regulates the use, sale, distribution, and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the province.

The memorandum, which also reiterates the primary mandate of safeguarding the health of PGA personnel, instructs all the officers and employees of the PGA to observe strict compliance to CSC Memorandum-Circular No. 17-2009 which adopts and promulgates a 100-percent smoke-free policy and a smoking prohibition in all areas of government premises, buildings, and grounds, except for open spaces designated as smoking areas.

Subsequently, the memo-circular stresses the closure of all smoking areas that violate the provisions set on the guidelines issued by the CSC, which states: that the smoking area should be located in an open space with no permanent or temporary roof or walls; it shall not be located within 10 meters of entrances and exits; it shall be no larger than 10 square meters; there shall only be one smoking area per government building; no foods or drinks shall be served in the smoking area; and a smoking area signage should be highly visible and prominently displayed. (PNA) JMC/FGS/IAS/CBD/EBP

Authorities catch 15 illegal fishers in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 21 (PNA) -- Joint elements of various law enforcement units confiscated a fishing boat and arrested its 15 crewmen, including the skipper, while actually engaged in illegal fishing locally known as trawl at about 3:57 a.m. Friday within the seawater of Barangay Zapatos, Balud, Masbate.

Operatives of the Balud Municipal Police Station, Provincial Intelligence Bureau, Regional Special Operations Task Group-Masbate, Regional Maritime Unit 5 Task Force Dagat, 402nd Maritime Police Special Task Force and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Masbate were conducting a seaborne patrol operation in the area when they intercepted a fishing boat marked F/B Gezel Kelvin owned by Glen Sumbilon and skippered by Renante B. Blances -- both residents of Panay, Capiz.

The apprehending units seized from the illegal fishers one fishing boat, a fishing net and 30 plastic “banyeras” (basins) containing assorted fish.

The arrested persons and the confiscated evidence are now under the custody of the Philippine National Police Maritime Group for filing of charges in violation of Republic Act No. 8550. (PNA) SCS/FGS/EMC/CBD/PJN

(News Feature)Throngs of volunteers plant thousands of trees off Mt. Mayon for Legazpi’s Valentine’s month celebrationText and photo
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) -– Throngs of volunteers mobilized by the city government here for its yearly Valentine’s month celebration planted thousands of tree seedlings near the foot of the majestic Mt. Mayon on Saturday.

Dubbed as “Tanim Alay sa Puso (Plant for the Heart)”, which has been institutionalized by the administration of City Mayor Noel Rosal, the annual activity, now on its 10th year, is in line with the local government’s greening program inspired by its commitment to healthy environment and climate change adaptation (CCA).

Rosal led the early morning undertaking, which was participated in by nearly 4,000 volunteers composed, among others, of government workers, local officials, barangay leaders and students who trooped off to the planting site in Barangay Pawa along a giant crevice emanating from the slope of the 2,462-meter high volcano, one of the most active in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

In an on-site interview, Rosal said a total of 4,500 seedlings of palm and ipil-ipil trees provided by the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) based here were planted during the event.

“As in the past years’ practice, we should have done this one last Feb. 14, the feast day of St. Valentine, which was also declared through a local legislative council resolution passed two years ago as the city’s Arbor Day but the erratic weather condition that caused rains made us decide to move it to this day when downpours were not expected,” he said.

For three straight years now, the planting activities have been done along flood routes down the slope of the volcano as a measure to reinforce its flood control structures with trees that prevent soil erosion.

DENR Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales, who was among the tree-planting event’s participants, said this yearly activity that the city government is initiating is the most sustained tree-planting euphoria in Bicol.

It demonstrates the zeal among Legazpeños in growing trees motivated by their concern for the environment, according to Gonzales, who assessed the survival rate of trees planted in the area during the past two consecutive years at more than 60 percent—an achievement that could already be considered as above expectation.

“As we can see, the palm trees planted over those years are now more than four meters tall and the pili plants, which grow slower, are now about two meters in height. It’s really pleasing to see them grow, providing the greenery in the area which in the past had been rendered barren by lahar flows and floods from the volcano,” he said.

This year, palm and ipil-ipil trees were used because these varieties have higher rate of survivals as they can stand alone without being attended to by caretakers, apart from the fact that they are more suited to the soil and climate condition near the foot of the volcano, Gonzales said.

Last year’s Valentine’s Day planting activity used 4,000 pili tree seedlings, also provided by the DENR that can be observed as already young and healthy growing trees, providing shades and vegetation along both banks of the Pawa water channel.

DENR-Bicol, Gonzales said, has been producing grafted pili planting materials for the National Greening Program (NGP) in the region to help the local pili nut industry satisfy the growing demand in both the domestic and international markets while providing the barren forest with sturdy trees that can withstand strong typhoons and flashfloods.

Rosal said the Barangay Pawa tree-planting site and lands at its adjacent barangays are being developed by the city as a public pili orchard which later would become an additional source of income for local residents who will benefit from the fruits and other by-products of the trees.

“While we in the local government is aggressively pursuing programs leading to the development of the city as a highly urbanized metropolis, we are at the same time enhancing our countryside environment to maintain ecological balance not only to address the negative impacts of the changing climate but also provide livelihood opportunities to our poor,” he said.

Later on, the mayor said, the pili trees will be intercropped with other high-value crops such as cacao, malunggay (moringa), squash and eggplants, among others, that do not compete with pili over the soil’s nutrients.

Pili is among the most common trees in Bicol whose nuts, processed into sweet delicacies, enjoy a huge demand in both the domestic and international market.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) recognizes pili nut as a “climate-smart” crop that carries with it a limitless top earner industry potential for the region.

Rosal said that through the establishment of the pili orchard around areas near Mt. Mayon, the city is participating in the pili nut industry enhancement program that the DA-Bicol is currently implementing aimed at plantations expansion.

In embarking on the expansion of local pili nut production, the agency has been propagating and distributing thousands of quality pili seedlings for free to growers all over the region.

The area planted to pili in Bicol as of 2012 was at around 1,800 hectares for nearly 500,000 trees and “we are working on our contribution to the expansion of these plantation areas through our tree planting programs,” the city mayor said.

At least, he added, the “Tanim Alay sa Puso” has already grown about 2,000 pili trees on the project’s planting sites around the city, he added. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/SSC

BFAR confirms goby fish toxic in Camarines Norte
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) confirmed Friday that the goby fish eaten by three children who died on Feb. 9 in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte was positive to Tetradotoxin or TTX.

Nonie Enolva, BFAR Bicol public information officer, said the Department of Health Toxicology Center in Legazpi City has confirmed through a text message that the samples collected from the leftover the victims ate showed positive to TTX.

Enolva said there was no known antidote or cure to the TTX poisoning, which is more potent than sodium cyanide.

She identified the children who were poisoned and died from eating goby as siblings Mark Veejay, 7, John Rommel, 6, and Jessarel, 2 -- all surnamed Galeon.

Their father Valentino, who caught the goby in the sea of Jose Panganiban, and another son John Christopher, 5, have been treated at and discharged from the Camarines Norte Provincial Hospital, Enolva added.

The BFAR official said the symptoms of poisoning from goby fish include numbing of the lips, stomachache, paralysis, chest pain, drop in blood pressure and loss of breathing 3-30 minutes after ingesting the fish.

With the recent deaths from goby fish poisoning, the BFAR has issued a warning regarding the permanent prohibition of the catching, selling and eating of goby locally known as biya, palo or tambagoy.

Enolva describes the poisonous goby (Gobius criniger) as a thorny fish with narrow body, two dorsal fins, round-pointed pectoral fins, brownish-red body color and silvery below, and 3-4 large dark or blackish brown spots on its side. (PNA) RMA/FGS/JME/CBD/ssc

Lacson vows to push for Php 483-B allotment to LGUs
By John Mark Escandor

PILI, Camarines Sur, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- Making his first sortie in Camarines Sur on Thursday, senatorial candidate Panfilo Lacson wooed local officials in the province with a regular yearly allotment of Php 483 billion from the General Appropriation Act (GAA).

Presenting his legislative agenda before a crowd of about 2,000 local officials from the 35 towns and Iriga City on Thursday, Lacson promised to push for the legislation of a yearly allotment of Php483 billion to provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays all over the country.

“The national government can give every year Php81 billion (Php1 billion/province) to 81 provinces, Php43 billion (Php300 million/city) to 144 cities, Php143 billion (Php100 million/town) to 1,490 towns and Php210 billion (Php5 m illion/barangay) to 42,026 barangays to augment the budget of the local government units,” he said, receiving resounding applause from the local government officials.

Lacson said that since 2002 to 2014 the national government has failed to utilize huge funds allocated in the GAA because the line agencies and bureaus “cannot take more than what they can chew.”

“The question is, why can’t we give this appropriation that the line agencies and bureaus cannot use to the LGUs?” he said.

Lacson cited the Php2.26-trillion national budget in 2014 in which, he said, was the accumulated unused allocation at the Department of Budget and Management, including continuing appropriation and unused appropriation ballooned to Php502.9 billion.

He said the continuing appropriation was an allocated fund not used in the previous year and added into the budget the following year while the unused appropriation is the fund released to the line agencies but was not spent because they have no capacity to implement it.

Lacson said that because of the unused appropriation of Php502 billion in 2014, the 2015 budget of Php2.6 trillion increased to more than Php3 trillion.

He showed that the unused amount from the GAA allocated to line agencies can very well augment the LGUs' budgets for projects and services based on their own priorities.

“This way we can debunk the notion that development is dictated by the Imperial Manila,” Lacson said.

He said that the funds the national government will give the LGUs must not be used for personnel services and maintenance and operational expenses but for development projects only.

Lacson said the problem with the accumulating unused allocation in the GAA was rooted in the absence of consultation with the LGUs on the priority projects they needed in their localities and comprehensive planning on the part of line agencies and bureaus.

He said the result of accumulated unused allocation was realignment of the budget and insertions, which the congressmen and senators control over through the departments for their patronage interest.

Lacson said it also led to huge lump sums in the national budget which became discretionary funds, which were prone to abuse and misuse.

Getting the approval of the local officials here, Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Villafuerte said Lacson’s legislative agenda would further enable the LGUs to determine and expand the development initiatives in their jurisdiction.

Villafuerte said Lacson’s proposal differed from the so-called Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) that the Liberal Party is espousing because the latter does not provide real independent decision to the LGUs.

He said the fact that the BuB predetermined the projects based on the menu imposed by the national government, it did not necessarily reflect the actual needs in the province.

Villafuerte said the provision of regular allocation from the national government that augmented the local budget covered areas for development that the LGUs would rather not explore because of limited fund resources.

He added that Lacson’s proposal would directly improve the overall domestic production with more projects implemented that would generate greater employment and goods and services produced within their local jurisdiction. (PNA) RMA/FGS/JME/CBD/ssc

Argentine envoy graces book launch of Borges' Bikol-translated work
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- For the first time, the Argentine ambassador visited Naga City this week to grace the launching of Jorge Luis Borges’ selected poems translated to Bikol by poet and fictionist Kristian Sendon Cordero.

Cordero has received recognition for his literary works, including Maningning Miclat Poetry Prize, the National Book Awards for his books "Labi" and "Canticos," and the Palanca Awards for Literature.

Ambassador Roberto Sebastian Bosh came here as the official representative of Argentina after their embassy commissioned the work of the 20th century Argentine author to Cordero in 2013.

The rights to translate the works of Borges required the consent of the Borges Estate in Argentina which finally allowed the translation work by Cordero and its printing this year.

Fr. Wilmer Tria, director of Ateneo de Naga University Press that published the translated work, introduced Bosh as the first-time ambassador assigned in the Philippines in October 2014 as “a rare blend being a political scientist and a lover of culture.”

Tria said the Argentine ambassador was the chief of the economic and trade affairs of the economic section of the Argentine embassy in Brasilia.

Bosh held the position director of economic and trade affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina.

He also served as representative of Argentina in the international economic mission in Geneva, dealing with trade issues at the World Trade Organization and the United Nations’ mission on trade and development.

Bosh graduated with political science course in the Universidad del Belgrano in Buenos Aires in 1992 and in 1998, he received the gold medal of the Instituto Exterior de la Nacion for the highest grade he achieved.

He also got the highest grade and received medal for the subjects in international politics.

In his talk, Bosh confessed that he came to the Philippines without knowing anything about the country.

He said that aside from Evita Peron, tango and football star Maradona, Argentina has many other things to offer as he showed visual presentation of his country’s geographical location, demography, weather and culture.

Bosh cited the similarity of the Philippines and Argentina as both were part of the Spanish empire.

Cordero, as the translator of Borges’ poems, reminisced the time when he developed his love for books by hanging out in the library and eventually, as becoming a writer that he is today.

“Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine writer we are honoring today, thought of heaven as a library,” he said.

Cordero narrated that he remembers all the librarians in his “childhood life with fondness and trepidation.”

He said Borges started as a librarian in a small library in Argentina “until the change in political leadership and he was reduced into a poultry inspector, a post he certainly despised.”

Cordero said Borges persisted, “like all good writers must; in spite the usual persecutions and harassments. He would later become the librarian of the National Library, a post he held for several years until his blindness.”

“Borges is claimed by the Guardian as the best writer of the 20th century, although some say it is Franz Kafka that is the best writer of the last century,” Cordero said.

Cordero has also translated the work of Kafka, which translation was published by Ateneo De Naga University Press and whose launch was attended by Czech ambassador last month.

“Borges, known for the splendor in his writings, has always inspired me to go through the labyrinth of language and the language of my dreams,” he said.

Cordero explains that in Borges’ essays entitled “The Argentine Writer and Traditions,” the Argentine author talked about the universality of the local, which for him is the Buenos Aires.

“It is this same fervor for his Buenos Aires that I want to share with you with your love for Bikol, and for this sad republic. For Borges, the local is not tied up with the image of the local alone, within every local there lies the universal, the other world, the parallel universe, the other shore,” he said.

Cordero concluded that “by working this most noble task of translation, we are moving towards a literature that knows no borders.” (PNA) RMA/FGS/JME/CBD/ssc

Bicol cops nab 16 wanted men within this week

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- Different units of the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office hauled in 16 wanted persons from Monday to Friday this week in various parts of the region.

Arrested for various offenses were Jose S. Condelozano, Boyet P. Pagayonan, Cesar A. Bantal, Reynaldo P. Ornopia, Jubert O. Estrella, Edwin L. Bauca, Nilo B. Alumbro, Federico A. Olimpo, Ike D. Salamoding, Romeo F. Galarosa, Pampilo S. Indico, Arnel M. Victa, Antonio B. Bas, Erwin C. Fernandez, Jerome F. Sabalis and Alberto B. Panisales.

Elements of Guinobatan Municipal Police Station (MPS) led by SPO3 Ruperto E. Solana collared Condelozano at Barangay Poblacion, Guinobatan, Albay at 8:30 a.m. Monday by virtue of a warrant of arrest (WOA) issued by Judge Pedro R. Soriao of Regional Trial Court Branch 8, Legazpi City for five counts of acts of lasciviousness with recommended bail fixed at Php180,000.

Thirty minutes earlier, Polangui MPS personnel led by PO3 Richie M. Sabando cornered Pagayonan at Barangay Balangibang, Polangui, Albay on order of Judge Annielyn B. Medes-Cabellis of RTC Br. 12, Ligao City for estafa with a bail of Php26,000.

At 12 noon the same day, operatives of Siruma MPS headed by Police Senior Insp.Romeo T. Ranara, chief of police, handcuffed Bantal in Barangay Salvacion, Tigaon, on order of Pedro M. Redoña, of RTC Branch 63, Calabanga, Camarines Sur for rape by sexual assault with a bail of Php120,000.

Ornopia was taken in by officers of Cataingan MPS led by Police Insp. Brian C. Jaime in Sitio Be-is, Barangay Poblacion, Cataingan, Masbate as ordered by Judge Fred A. Bien of MCTC Dimasalang, Masbate for violation of Section 88, RA 8550.

Daet MPS personnel led by SPO1 Arnold Santiago Labarro arrested Estrella and Bauca for estafa at Governor Panotes Avenue, Purok Guyabano, Barangay Gubat, Daet, Camarines Norte.

The police were armed with a WOA issued by Judge Arniel A. Dating of RTC Branch 41 of Daet, Camarines Norte, with a recommended bail of Php16,000 each.

In Barangay Macabog, Sorsogon City, police handcuffed Bandabia for frustratedmurder on order of Rofebar F. Gerona, presiding judge of RTC Branch 53, Sorsogon City, with a bail of Php 200,000.

Olimpo was cornered at Barangay Malobago, Manito, Albay by the group of Police Senior Insp. Johnwen Balueta, which was armed with a WOA issued by Judge Carlos L. Bona of MCTC Sto. Domingo-Manito, Sto. Domingo, Albay for attempted homicide.

Law enforcers apprehended Salamoding at Purok 2, Barangay Nabasagan, Claveria, Masbate on order of Judge Manuel L. Sese of RTC Br. 45, Masbate City for rape with no bail recommended.

Sta. Magdalena MPS (Sorsogon) led by Police Insp. Jose Arnel G. Geronga served a WOA to Galarosa at Barangay Talaba, Bacoor, Cavite for attempted homicide issued by Judge Leo G. Lee of MCTC Matnog-Sta. Magdalena, Sorsogon with a bail of Php12,000.

Indico was cornered by law enforcers led by SPO3 Joseph Antiporda at Barangay Tubli, Caramoran, Catanduanes at 3 p.m. Saturday on order of Lelu P. Contreras, presiding judge of RTC, Branch 43, Virac, Catanduanes for violation of R.A. 9262 (VAWC) with PhP12,000 bail recommended.

Victa was arrested Daet, Camarines Norte for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property; Bas, in Iriga City for violation of city ordinance; Fernandez in Libmanan, Camarines Sur for rape, and Sabalis in Barangay Abuyog, Sorsogon City for rape – all on Thursday.

Panisales was handcuffed by police on Friday in Pilar, Sorsogon for violation of Section 93 of RA10654, which amended RA 8550.(PNA) RMA/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

NPA rebels abduct man in front of kin in Masbate

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- New People’s Army rebels executed a fisherman after abducting him in front of his relatives at 7:35 a.m. at Sitio Cogtong, Barangay Quezon, Claveria, Masbate.

The lifeless body of victim Aurillo Riva, 39, married and resident of Barangay San Antonio, Milagros, Masbate, was found by villagers in an isolated area of Barangay Quezon where the rebels shot him dead.

Riva, his son and nephews were temporarily staying at the residence of his cousin, Leonica Riva, in the village when the communist dissidents approached them and took the victim with them.

Patrolling village volunteer security men found Riva’s bullet-ridden body and brought it to the Claveria municipal hall for autopsy.

Residents believe that the rebels had suspected the victim of being a military-police asset as he was not from the place, which is under the influence of the rebels.(PNA) RMA/FGS/EMC/CBD/pjn

Saturday, February 20, 2016

6 Albay towns, 1 city face charges for improper waste disposal -- EMB

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 19 (PNA) -- The National Solid Waste Commission (NSWC) has warned six towns and a city in Albay that it will file environmental charges against them with the Office of the Ombudsman for their failure to strictly comply with proper waste disposal program under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Management Act (ESMA) of 2000, a top official of Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Environment Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in Bicol said Friday.

Roberto Sheen, EMB regional director, identified these local government units (LGUs) facing environmental charges with the Ombudsman as the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Polangui and Tiwi and Tabaco City.

The six Albay towns were among the 50 towns and cities across the country that belong to the first batch of LGUs that have been assessed and validated by the NSWC to be non-compliant to the ESMA of 2000 despite repeated warnings, Sheen said.

In an interview, the EMB official said the commission's assessment indicated that, except for Legazpi City, almost all the 113 towns and cities in Bicol failed to comply with the parameters laid down by the law on waste disposal.

“Regrettably, the six LGUs in Albay were included in the first batch to be advised to comply with the law or face administrative and criminal charges as consequence,” Sheen said.

He, however, cited a commission guidelines saying that these affected LGUs will be given six months upon receipt of the advice to make the necessary compliance based on the parameters set by the waste disposal law.

The warning should serve as a wake-up call for them to heed the commission’s demands, he said.

The commission's assessment found out that the five towns and Tabaco City have violated the law on solid waste management using open dump in their waste disposal and despite the warnings, they have failed to close these open garbage dump sites as required by law.

Only the Legazpi City government operates a solid waste disposal landfill in the entire Bicol Region, Sheen said.

Households in these towns and cities do not practice the waste segregation process where biogradable, non-biogradable and residual waste materials are properly segregated and are brought to collection and segregation centers in villages, town and city.

It was also observed that the towns of Daraga, Camalig and Tiwi have no Material Recovery Facilities (MRF).

The commission's assessment found out that while all six LGUs submitted their respective 10-year Solid Waste Plans, the plans were not implemented.

As for the safe closure and rehabilitation plan only five have submitted.

Sheen is hopeful that the six Albay LGUs would be able to comply with the commission's demands for reasons that the town of Polangui is the hometown of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Guinobatan is the place of Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Tiwi is the hometown of his wife.

As this developed, Salceda said in a text message, “We have put earnest effort over the years to hold the hand of our LGUs in complying with RA 9003.”

“In fact, the provincial environment natural resources governance office was created to mobilize other functional units of the provincial government to support our environment compliance,” he said.

In defending the affected LGUs, Salceda said the question of funding is to be addressed as these LGUs feel the urgency of their strategies not just to comply with the letter but also to comply with the spirit of the law.

Cherilie Mella Sampal, Polangui town mayor, said in a separate interview, that she was surprised as she only learned about the complaint through media reports, saying “so far we have not yet received the complaint-advice from the EMB.”

Sampal said the LGU has already submitted to the EMB its 10-year solid waste plan and has been working out since 2011 to purchase a lot for the proposed sanitary landfill.

The plan includes a common or clustered sanitary landfill.

Asked on how the complaint process flows, Sheen said that after exhausting all the given parameters and the LGU still fails to comply, the NSWC will conduct an assessment and advise the LGU to comply with the deficiency.

The LGU will be given six months to comply and in case they fail, the commission will submit the recommendation to the Ombudsman where the latter will file criminal and administrative cases against the mayor, the environment and natural resources officer and the LGU council members. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS

PNP to deploy 100 SAF commandos to Masbate to augment gov't forces vs lawless groups
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

MASBATE CITY, Feb. 19 (PNA) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy 100 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos from Cordillera, who are currently on test mission in Compostela Valley, in the island-province of Masbate next month to augment government troops now in the province, the top PNP official in Bicol said Friday.

Chief Supt. Augusto Marquez, PNP-Bicol regional director, said the SAF members would augment the 700 policemen under Regional Task Force Masbate that he dispatched last week here and the current 1,000 regular policemen of the Masbate Provincial Police Office.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines will deploy also 100 soldiers more, according to Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya.

Masbate province has been identified by the Commission on Elections as one of the six areas of concern in the country, with a history of election-related violence in the past and the presence of New People's Army (NPA) rebels and private armed groups (PAGs).

VIsaya warned politicians employing communist insurgents as PAGs that they will be dealt with accordingly if found cuddling and giving money and arms to government enemies.

The Solcom commander's warning came after local mayors in Masbate revealed in a dialogue here on Tuesday that powerful politicians in the province are employing NPA members, former and active soldiers, policemen from Mindanao as PAGs.

Local mayors also said that some politicians even swapped goons with their counterparts in Samar and Sorsogon provinces to threaten and kill people.

The mayors' expose came out during the first joint AFP-PNP-Special Task Force Masbate dialogue with reelectionists and candidates running for various posts held at Camp Bonny Serrano here.

The dialogue aimed to address peace and security issues in the province as well as get the commitment of the provincial, city and municipal chief executives and candidates to ensure safe, clean, honest and peaceful elections here.

The AFP and the PNP initiated the joint dialogue with the candidates to seek commitment from them for safe, fair, honest and peaceful elections in May.

During the dialogue, former Masbate City prosecutor Freddy Sera said powerful politicians were hiring criminals, maintaining PAGs, and giving grease money and arming the NPA rebels in the province.

Sera even challenged politicians here to stop importing and maintaining PAGs and supporting the NPA to put an end to the series of election-related incidents here.

Retired policeman Elpidio Daligtig of Cataingan, Masbate, who is running for town councilor, also revealed that politicians in Masbate are swapping goons from Samar in Visaya and Sorsogon provinces with their counterparts in these areas.

Aside from exchanging goons, big-time politicians are hiring retired and active soldiers, policemen and criminals to terrorize and kill people, according to Daligdig.

San Jacinto Mayor Leny A. Arcenas said the killings that have taken place in Masbate have been associated to the election fever.

Arcenas said they were happy that the Masbate Special Task Force had been re-established here to thwart bloody election-related violence here.

Visaya warned politicians here that they face necessary action from the government once found violating the law.

“We will go after you even if you are our friends. We will intensify our intelligence gathering and go after those involved in this unlawful act,” he said.

The Solcom chief said the communist insurgents remained as a potent threat for the May 2016 polls following the imposition of extortion activities in the guise of permit to campaign or permit to win.

Chief Insp. Arturo Gomez, spokesman of Task Force Masbate, said there were four PAGs operating in Masbate.

Marquez warned PNP personnel taking sides with politicians.

He said he would dismiss cops found out violating the PNP Code of Conduct and making wrongdoings.

The PNP Bicol and the AFP will conduct a peace covenant on Feb. 26 among local politicians here in pursuit of a peaceful conduct of synchronized national and local elections.(PNA) RMA/FGS/RBB/CBD/EDS

Top scientists lead discussions in Legazpi on youth anti-climate change disaster learning
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 19 (PNA) -- Over a dozen of the country’s top experts in the scientific fields of environment and climate are here for a three-day drafting of learning materials to be used in educating the youth on climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk and vulnerability reduction (DRVR).

They now sit as the National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) in the K to 12 Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk and Vulnerability Reduction: Learning Materials for Philippine Schools project rolled out in this city Friday.

Highlighting the roll-out activities are tough technical write-shops to be participated in by scores of teacher-writers mobilized by the Department of Education (DepEd) in the crafting of the learning materials targeting the youth in the propagation of awareness to enable them to directly participate in CCA/DRVR efforts toward building resilient communities.

DepEd Regional Director for Bicol Ramon Fiel Abcede said the participation of the teachers in the write shop is “buoyed up by the experience during the first workshop in 2008 for us to come up with a first of its kind CCA-DRVR learning materials for Filipino students as a sequel to the lesson exemplars for teachers developed and produced earlier.”

A brainchild of Albay 3rd district congressional Rep. Fernando Gonzalez, the project concept is anchored securely on the commonly accepted fact that measures to address climate change and disaster risk impacts start at home where families and individuals are the basic elements of the day-to-day decision-making process.

Either the community does not understand the threat or underestimates CCA impacts, and does either nothing or something inappropriate due to lack of capacity to address it even as year after year, weather-related disasters recur and exposed communities become more and more vulnerable after each extreme event, Gonzalez said.

These experiences are concrete, physical and scientific lessons that drive innovation in proactive approaches, measures, strategies and options to plan and manage against economic loss, damage and risk scenario and “preventing climate change from becoming a major disaster” hence, the CCA-DRVR education project, he said.

According to Gonzalez, educating the youth is a significant element of a new strategy to embed climate change adaptation in the country's educational system.

“Our schools can provide the venue for the adoption and implementation of the integrated global goals for resilience among vulnerable peoples, multiple stakeholders and communities by preparing the populace, both socially and culturally, to meet the unequivocal challenges of climate change and natural disasters,” the congressman stressed.

The implementation of the project is born of the interlocking between the Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD) based here and headed by its executive director Manuel “Nong” Rangasa and Climate Change Commission (CCC) under Sec. Emmanuel de Guzman.

The CCC provides the guidance in its implementation by the LCCAD through the support of the local government here headed by City Mayor Noel Rosal, Gonzalez and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among others.

The write-shops that intend to develop explicit learning materials and teaching modules on CCA and DRVR in the primary and secondary school levels, according to Rangasa, will be focused under the guidance of the NPTE on the conceptual framework towards the integration of information related to disasters in the K to 12 basic education program.

Pursuant to Republic Act 9729, otherwise known as the Climate Change Act of 2009, as amended by RA 10174 “The People’s Survival Fund”, the NPTE, Rangasa said, was constituted to provide the CCC policy recommendations as well as technical and advisory services related to climate science, technologies, and best practices for risk assessment and management.

Among its members are environment and ecology scientists Rex Victor Cruz, Felino Lansigan, Rodel Lasco and Juan Pulhin; ecology and biodiversity experts Profirio Alexander Aliño and Laura David; climate change and earth scientist Leoncio Amadore; and health science specialist Glen Roy Paraso.

Others are meteorologists Rosa Perez and Lourdes Tibig; earth science and environment specialists Carlos Primo David and Fernando Siringan; greenhouse gas emission inventory sector representative Leandro Buendia; and climate scientist Jose Ramon Villarin.

Inputs from these experts, Rangasa said, will provide write-shop participants the direction towards coming up with the draft learning materials and teaching modules on CCA and DRVR.

He said the goals of CCA and DRVR education are to foster public awareness of and concern about economic, social, political, ecological and cultural interdependence of rural and urban areas as well as create new patterns and norm of behavior of individuals, groups and multiple stakeholders as a whole towards these concerns.

It also aims to simplify, facilitate and provide individual with opportunities to acquire solid foundation of knowledge, values and skills needed to protect and improve the environment to develop and implement comprehensive risk management strategies and build better for community resiliency.

Created about four years ago, LCCAD, which is based in this city, is the national CCA and DRVR training institution and service provider recognized by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) that provides theoretical moorings to national, local government units (LGUs) and multiple stakeholders.

In entering into a tie-up with the LCCAD, Rangasa said De Guzman took note of the K to 12 conceptual frameworks that call for the integration of information from three international agreements related to disasters crafted in 2015 that reflect the growing awareness about the need for more resilient communities and economies.

De Guzman was referring to Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals, as enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Year 2016, according to De Guzman, is a critical and exciting year as it marks the start of the implementation of these global agreements which are doubly significant for the Philippines as they address common, interlocking issues affecting the country’s aspiration for a prosperous, sustainable future.

These issues converge on the Philippines’ vulnerabilities which stem from its geographical location, socio-economic features like a rapidly growing population, and external factors like climate change which is outstripping the country’s natural coping capacity.

Rangasa noted that all these issues have to be factored in the preparation of the next Philippine Development Plan with resilience becoming a national priority, given that global warming leading to climate change turns into a local disaster when the root cause is not identified or the response is not appropriate to the threat. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS