Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Salceda to craft legislated nat'l scholarship program
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, May 30 (PNA) -- Graduating three-term Albay Gov. Joey Salceda considers his pioneering free tertiary education program which has now benefited 88,444 scholars as his biggest and most significant legacy to his province.

Many of these scholars have already graduated and are now either thriving entrepreneurs or gainfully employed locally and abroad.

Designated as the Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme (AHECS), the program is a novel study-now-pay-later scholarship program started in 2007, initially aimed to produce a college graduate for every Albayano family. On account of its overwhelming success, Salceda said its goal was recently raised to at least one college and one technical-vocational graduate per family. The program is his brainchild and forms part of his governance package for the past nine years.

Salceda completes his three terms as governor this June and will takeover as Representative of Albay’s Capital (second Congressional) District which gave him a 92-percent vote mandate in the May 9 elections. He said AHECS will continue to leave its mark on every Albayano family who benefited from it and who will forever reap the fruits of its successes.

Having successfully tested the program in Albay, Salceda plans to make AHECS a model for a legislated National Higher Education Contribution System for Private Tertiary and Free Public College which he said he will push in Congress. AHECS takes the biggest chunk of the provincial budget. It was funded by a P700 million secured loan from Land Bank in 2010, and is hailed as among Albay’s more effective development strategies. It was patterned after the Australian scholarship program that beats the US educational system.

AHECS had an initial enrolment of 34,000 Albayano students in 2007, which grew to 77,172 in 2012 and then to 88,444 in 2015. Its beneficiaries are given a “free hand to choose their fields of study, minus the usual financial woes that hamstrung parents and students who desire to pursue college education,” he said, adding that most of his programs are predicated on the philosophy and value of “constant kindness, categorical imperative of fairness and equality, and the capacity to dream and be creative, while not forgetting humility.”

Albay goes on record as the country’s first and only province to have institutionalized its education program. The program is administered by its Provincial Education Department, created by an Albay Provincial Board ordinance and duly approved by the Civil Service Commission, the Department of Education and the Department of Budget and Management.

AHECS has partnered with some 53 colleges and universities across Albay. At the Mariners’ Polytechnic Institute, the most popular school for seafarers in Southern Luzon, its beneficiary graduates from 2009 to 2015 have reached 3,247. The total scholarship investments for them stand at P16,235,000. Many local government units in the country have visited Albay to study and replicate the AHECS model.

In many Albay schools’ graduation ceremonies where Salceda guested, parents and students would stand up, applaud, thank and honor him. In several instances, he expressed surprise when he found out that more than 50 percent of the graduating class were AHECS benificiaries. He has thanked students, parents and the schools across the province for supporting the program, and due to its overwhelming good results, he decided to “raise the target to one technical-vocational and one entrepreneur graduate in every family”.

“Albay aims to produce a corps of technically trained and employable manpower out of its trainable human resources through AHECS, through partnerships with local colleges and universities, led by the Bicol University, which are catalyst institutions that inculcate knowledge and develop skills and attitudes needed by the workplace, and serve as repository of intellectual resources, including technical and cultural heritage,” he explained.

With AHECS and Salceda’s previous scholarship program when he was Albay 3rd District congressman, before he became governor, his scholarship scheme’s benediciary list has now reached a total of 104,035, many of whom are now thriving entrepreneurs and gainfully employed and raising their families. (PNA) BNB/JCN/EDS

PDEA-Bicol expects busiest days once Duterte sits as president

LEGAZPI CITY, May 29 (PNA) -- "We expect to be busiest once Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte sits as our new president," the information officer of the Philippine Drug Information Agency-Bicol regional office based in Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here said in relation to Duterte's vow to eradicate the drug problem within six months once he sits as the head of the country.

Cotton Yuson said that although they cannot promise to do it in six months, they would surely be most occupied in going after drug criminals once Duterte assumes as president although, she said, the PDEA has been very busy in their continuous efforts in intelligence gathering and monitoring of drug suspects in the region.

Yuson said that in the past months, the PDEA has been concentrating on "high impact operation" wherein its agents targeted high volume seizures or drugs, especially shabu, that have weights of 50 grams and above, drug laboratories and drug dens, and "high-value targets" like big drug personalities, government officials and employees, politicians down to the barangay level who have big drug transactions.

She added that her office is now prepared to submit reports to Duterte for the period September 2015 to April 2016.

During the period, the PDEA Bicol spokesperson said, the agency confiscated more than four kilos of shabu during its high impact operations like the raid on the residence of Ryan Santos Comprado on Sept. 14, 2015 in Sitio Sagrada Familia, Barangay Peñafrancia, Naga City wherein PDEA agents seized 1,136.99 grams of shabu.

The PDEA-Bicol also caught Cherrylyn N. Estacio in a buy-bust operation at Wiltan Hotel in Barangay 5, Daet, Camarines Norte on Nov. 7, 2015 and confiscated 1,012.72 grams of shabu.

The third successful operation happened in a buy-bust operation on Nov. 10, 2015 against Vergel D. Deuna in Tabaco Port, Barangay Cormidal, Tabaco City, from whom they got 1,004.29 grams of shabu.

Their latest successful exploit was during the joint operation of the PDEA, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Ligao City Police Station on April 1, 2016 in Ligao City against suspect Eduardo Embido who yielded one kilo of shabu.

"We expect to bag more big and known people under the Regional Target Lists and Drug Watch Lists as high-value targets in the days to come," Yuson said.

Last year, she said, the PDEA caught a "big fish" in the person of the vice mayor of a Masbate town who was running a clandestine laboratory of illegal drug, government employees, politicians and barangay officials.

The PDEA in Camarines Sur had the highest netted suspects because of its large area of coverage that has a big population compared to the other provinces of the Bicol Region.

In 2015, there were 814 drug suspects that fell into the dragnets of authorities wherein 33 were collared by the PDEA; 687 were caught by the Philippine National Police and and 94 were the result of joint operations of the PNP and the PDEA.

From January 2016 to date, 271 were handcuffed by the law enforcers -- PDEA, nine; PNP, 231; and 31, joint operations of the two agencies.

"Despite its successful operations, however, the PDEA regional office is faced with lack of personnel," Yuson said.

Aside from Regional Director Bryan Babang, the agency has only 76 men in the region, of which 50 percent are agents or operatives while the other half handles the administrative and technical functions.

"Each province has only five agents/operatives so that the support being given by the PNP during joint operations is very valuable," the information officer said.

Yuson said they expect to have additional personnel in Bicol once the candidates undergoing training in their main office graduate. (PNA) SCS/FGS/JH/CBD/pjn

Bicolanos rejoice over Leni’s triumph

LEGAZPI CITY, May 29 (PNA) -- Bicolanos from all walks of life, including the Diocese of Legazpi, are rejoicing over the victory of Camarines Sur Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo (3rd District) in her bid for the country’s second top post.

The Diocese of Legazpi was among the first to extend a congratulatory message to Robredo through its social networking site after the official counting of the National Board of Canvassers in Congress ended on Friday evening.

Camarines Sur Governor Miguel Villafuerte, a staunch supporter of Grace Poe in the presidential race but opted to support Robredo for vice president over Senator Chiz Escudero, also expressed delight over the Bicolana aspirant's successful bid.

“We’re proud to have a new vice president that was born and raised here in Camarines Sur,” Villafuerte said.

He described Robredo as simple yet hardworking public servant.

“We wish her all the best in her new mandate as vice president of the Philippines. Congratulations, Vice President Leni,” the young governor said.

Villafuerte and his father, former governor now congressman-elect of the second district of Camarines Sur El-Ray Villafuerte, stood pat for Robredo’s candidacy since the start of the vice presidential race until the last hour of her political battle.

The city officials of Ligao City in Albay led by Mayor Patty Gonzalez-Alsua were also elated by Robredo’s triumphant bid as the first Bicolana elected in the country’s second top position.

“The vice-president-elect is a Bicolana! The people of Ligao City and the Bicol Region are so proud of you!” Alsua said.

Even the non-political allies of Robredo are now hoping for the best for the Bicolana lawmaker-turned-vice president.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who dumped the candidacies of Mar Roxas and Robredo for Poe and Escudero two weeks before the 2016 elections, also extended his congratulatory message to newly elected vice president.

“Congratulations to the highest Bicolano official in government ever,” Salceda said in his message to Robredo.

He expressed willingness to help the new vice president.

Irene A. Solmirano, president Entrepinay Legazpi City Chapter--a civil society organization that gives livelihood training to poor women in Bicol, jumped with joy as, she said, her prayers and religious campaign for Robredo paid off.

"We will now have a strong leader in our advocacy for women's rights and welfare, especially in empowering them," Solmirano said, adding. "I hope incoming president Rodrigo Duterte appoints him to be the secretary of either the Department of Social Welfare and Development because of her fervent concern for the marginalized members of the society or the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) since she has been involved in barangay immersion and has worked with the villagers and she will provide the guidance and inspiration of a mother to the local governments, police and other members of the DILG family."

Robredo’s journey to politics began in 2013 after the tragic incident of former DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo in 2012 in the waters off Masbate.

The late DILG secretary died in a plane crash, an incident that created an outpouring support and called for the widow to continue her husband’s legacy by joining the world of politics and public service.

At first, the widow was hesitant to join the world of politics as she focused on helping the impoverished families through non-governmental tasks and providing legal assistance to the poor.

The vice president-elect, however, was compelled to run for vice president following a strong clamor of the public to continue her husband’s legacy as a role model of good governance and simple way of life.(PNA) BNB/FGS/RBB/CBD/pjn

Friday, May 27, 2016

DA OKs PHP20.7-M PRDP funding for Bicol fisherfolks, farmers calamity recovery strategy
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has approved the grant of some PHP20.7 million to finance the establishment of microenterprise (ME) ventures for the recovery from economic dislocation of farmers and fisherfolk affected by past calamities in Bicol.

The fund, intended for 15 groups of recipients, will come from the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), a foreign-funded program being implemented by DA and designed as a platform for a modern and climate-smart agriculture in the region and other parts of the country.

The grant, which was recently announced here by the PRDP’s Regional Project Advisory Board (RPAB), was based on microenterprise project proposals earlier submitted by the proponent groups from Catanduanes, Albay and Sorsogon -- three of the six Bicol provinces hardest hit by recent typhoons.

Catanduanes was badly hit by typhoon "Lando" in October last year while Albay and Sorsogon suffered from the onslaught of typhoon "Nona" in December, also last year.

Both weather disturbances heavily affected the livelihood of the local fisheries and agricultural sectors.

PRDP-Bicol enterprise development (I-REAP) component head Adelina Losa on Thursday said these ME sub-projects under the PDRP are aimed at providing the direct beneficiaries sustainable income-generating activities for them to be able to recoup from their losses.

She said 11 of the ME sub-projects reviewed, approved and endorsed for PRDP funding by the RPAB were proposed by groups of farmers and fisherfolk from Sorsogon who will engage, among others, in native chicken-raising, gabi (taro) and ginger production and marketing and cottage industry.

Other enterprises are seaweed production and marketing, cassava chips processing as well as organic vegetable and other food crop production.

An amount of PHP10.6 million was approved for these undertakings, Losa said.

Among the recipients is the Fisherfolk Association of Barangay Tomalaytay in Castilla, Sorsogon whose president, Roberto Salgado, said the group is using the fund granted amounting to PHP1.2 million in seaweeds production and marketing.

“Ito’y para sa unti-unting pagbangon sa kabuhayan naming mga mangingisda para maitaguyod namin ang aming pamilya sa pamamagitan ng seaweeds. Pauunlarin namin ito upang di masayang ang tiwalang ibinagay sa amin ng gobyerno. Salamat sa DA at kay Pangulong Aquino (This is for the gradual economic recovery of us, fisherfolk, for us to be able to support our family through seaweeds. We will nurture this so that the trust given us by the government is not wasted. Thanks to the DA and to Pres. Aquino),” Salgado said.

For Albay, among the sub-projects approved for funding is for the province’s Small Ruminant Raisers Association (ASRRA) whose Enhancing Farm Capacity and Adoption of Nutrition Technology for Goat Production enterprise is getting PHP1.3 million as per RPAB recommendation, according to Losa.

She said two MEs worth PHP2.7 million were also approved for the municipalities of Gigmoto and Pandan of Catanduanes whose recipients will engage in rice and broiler production and marketing.

This PHP20.7-million grant is just but partial as the RPAB, Losa said, has approved more for PRDP funding this year like the PHP2.9-million charcoal and rice hull briquette production and farm mechanization proposed by the municipalities of Esperanza and Milagros, Masbate

The RPAB, Losa said, has also approved and endorsed the PHP3.2-million Seaweeds Nursery and Production Project proposed by the Biga Farmers and Fishermen Association in Magallanes, a Sorsogon coastal town along the shoreline of Ticao Pass.

This sub-project is Bicol’s first Global Environment Facility (GEF)-supported ME designed to contribute to biodiversity conservation and strengthen the coastal and marine resources base in targeted project areas.

The Ticao Pass is one of the region’s biodiversity waters pre-identified by DA and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as target sites for PRDP, which will integrate to its funding the PHP287-million grant from the GEF, an international organization that helps address global environmental issues to its institutional reforms.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director Jocelyn Blanco, who is a member of the RPAB, said awardees of I-REAP sub-project funding should see it as an opportunity for them to progress so that each group must work together on the sustainability of their approved microenterprises.

The PRAB is the body that provides guidance, reviews and approves undertakings for funding under PRDP, a six-year rural development project worth over PHP27.5 billion funded through a loan from World Bank amounting to PHP20.56 billion and PHP7 billion counterparts from the Philippine government and local government units (LGUs).

In six years—2013-2019, PRDP aims to raise annual real farm incomes of household beneficiaries by five percent, increase the value of annual marketed output by seven percent and ensure that 20 percent more farmers and fishers benefit from DA services.

On top of the recently approved PHP20.7-million I-REAP funding, DA-Bicol is also awaiting the release of the PHP1.5-billion fund for various sub-projects under the Intensified Building Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD) component of PRDP which the RPAB has approved for the provinces of Albay, Camarines sur and Camarines Norte.

Among these subprojects are the PHP618.6-million construction of Tablon-Cagmanaba Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) with five bridges in Oas, Albay and the concreting of FMRs in municipalities of Paracale, Basud and Sta. Elena, all of Camarines Norte amounting to PHP413.8 million.

Apart from these, the RPAB also endorsed for funding this year seven I-BUILD subprojects worth a total of PHP452 million for the municipalities of Pamplona, Del Gallego, Pasacao, Libmanan, Sipocot and Ragay—all in Camarines Sur.

Elena de los Santos, the DA’s Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension and PRDP focal person, said these subprojects are the first batch of proposals submitted by the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Units (PPMIUs) in Bicol for 2015 and subsequently approved by the RPAB. (PNA) BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD

Salceda eyes barangay, SK elections postponement amid federalism talks

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Outgoing Albay Governor and newly-elected 2nd district House Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said he will file a bill seeking the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections set in October.

Salceda said his proposal is to give way preparation for the country's possible shift to federal from the presidential form of government.

“I will file or co-author a similar bill seeking the postponement of the barangay and SK elections once the 17th Congress opens in July to give way for this political and constitutional reforms,” Salceda said in a statement posted on his Facebook account.

He said the upcoming 17th Congress should start debates on the possible Charter change.

Salceda said the Constitutional amendments should include not only the political but economic reforms "to break down high concentration of business ownership and market share through foreign competition."

Earlier, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista said the commission would suggest to Congress to postpone barangay and SK elections.

Bautista cited 'election fatigue' considering the country has just finished its national and local elections.

The Comelec top official also said holding election in over 42,000 barangays would cost at least Php3.4 billion.

Bautista said he plans to consult with presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte about the commission's proposal.

Duterte has been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government.(PNA) JFM/FGS/MSA/CBD

Thursday, May 26, 2016

DepEd urges schools not to require expensive school supplies
By Filane Mikee Z. Cervantes

MANILA, May 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Education (DepEd) is urging all public schools to refrain from requiring expensive school supplies for students as classes begin on June 13.

The DepEd made the call together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) during the special monitoring activity for school supplies in bookstores around Recto Avenue, Manila on Tuesday.

DepEd Assistant Secretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs Atty. Tonisito M.C. Umali called on the administrators of public schools to refrain from prescribing any branded or expensive school supplies which contribute to budgetary constraints of parents, especially those with children studying in public schools.

"Makakaasa po kayo na ang ating mga pampublikong paaralan ay hindi mag-oobliga ng mga mamahaling school supplies. (Rest assured that our public schools will not require expensive school supplies) No specific type or brand of school supplies will be required," said Umali.

"Maski po yung mga lumang kwaderno na spiral na may sobrang pahina na hindi nagamit noong nakaraang taon ay pwedeng pagsama-samahin at tahiin (All the unused pages of old notebooks in the previous school year can still be compiled and sown together),” he added.

The DepEd official recommended the "Gabay sa Pamimili ng School Supplies" released by the DTI to properly guide consumers in their purchase of school supplies. The link is posted on the official website and social media accounts of DepEd.

The special monitoring activity for school supplies was spearheaded by the DTI, together with representatives from DepEd, Department of Health-Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA), Local Government Unit-Manila and Senator Bam Aquino.

The monitoring team reported stable and reasonable prices of school supplies. (PNA) BNB/FMC/EDS

President Aquino signs law enhancing depositor protection

MANILA, May 25 (PNA) -- President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed Republic Act No. 10846 amending the Charter of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) or the deposit insurance law.

The depositing public, consisting of approximately 50 million deposit account holders as of December 2015, stands to benefit from the amendments which further enhanced PDIC’s authority to provide depositor protection.

The law also gives PDIC fiscal and administrative autonomy and authority to resolve problem banks while still open. It will take effect 15 days following the publication in the Official Gazette or in two newspapers of general circulation.

R.A. No. 10846 is a product of the painstaking work undertaken by the authors in both Houses of Congress – Senator Sergio R. Osmeña III, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, and by Rep. Nelson P. Collantes, Chairman of the Committee on Banks and Other Financial Intermediaries of the House of Representatives.

PDIC President Cristina Que Orbeta welcomed the passage of the law.

“The amendments to the deposit insurance law will ultimately redound to the benefit of the depositing public. The enhanced authorities will afford depositors better protection as PDIC may now address risks posed by problem banks early on. This will also enable PDIC to perform its role in maintaining financial stability and managing the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF),” Orbeta said.

Under the law, depositors will have quicker access to their insured deposits in the event of bank closure since PDIC now has the authority to pay insured deposits without netting out depositors’ loan obligations with the closed bank, and based on evidence of deposits and not on the closed bank’s records alone. To further protect depositors from unsafe and unsound banking practices of some banks, the law also restored PDIC’s authority to terminate the insured status of banks that engage in unsafe and unsound banking practices.

With its enhanced resolution authorities, PDIC will also be able to more effectively promote financial inclusion through early intervention in problem banks or open bank resolution.

In cases where bank closure becomes inevitable, R.A. 10846 enhanced the chances of recovery by creditors of their claims against the assets of the closed bank by preventing the further dissipation of these assets through seamless transition from bank closure to liquidation.

The law does away with the 90-day receivership period and allows PDIC to proceed directly to liquidation. The immediate assignment of encumbered assets to closed bank creditors, adoption of purchase of assets and assumption of liabilities as a mode of liquidation, and express prohibition on reopening of banks ordered closed by the Monetary Board will help enhance recovery rate for creditors of closed banks.

R.A. 10846 also strengthened PDIC’s institutional and governance framework to align it with international best practices. (PNA) SCS/PR/PDIC/EDS

Duterte mulls on nationwide revamp of PNP, random drug test of police officers

DAVAO CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is mulling on a massive revamp in the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the highest officers down to the rank and file as wake-up call to their sloppy performance and get rid of those involved in illegal activities.

“I will sleep on it tonight,” Duterte told reporters in a two-hour press conference midnight Wednesday at the Royal Mandaya Hotel. He said he would implement a massive reshuffling not only the officers but everybody once he sits as the President.

Duterte is eyeing assignments of those in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) particularly the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinglupa and Iwahig Penal Colony where drugs are manufactured; the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA); and other PNP units to hard-to-reach areas or the rebels’ lair in Mindanao. He said he might even assign officers in the police stations in Metro Manila to Davao or the boondocks in Mindanao like Jolo.

And before going to new assignments, Duterte will order a random drug test on all police officers beginning July 1. He said he would even buy the most sophisticated drug test unit known in Japan.

Duterte made the declaration following reports that five died of drug overdose in a Close-Up concert party in the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. He was outrage that the police failed to prevent the incident from happening.

“There was failure of intelligence. Umpisa pa lang dapat nang-aamoy na kayo At the start (of the party) you should be sniffing (for information),” said Duterte, adding that the police failed in monitoring the activities of the people inside the venue. “Ang nangyari sa atin crime solution na lang (What is happening to us is just crime solution),” he said.

According to Duterte, it is common knowledge that rave parties are usually associated with drugs like ecstacy. He said it should have been strictly monitored by the law enforcers. “Magpapasahan sila diyan (They are just pass it around),” he said.

After the revamp and the officers still fail to reform, Duterte said he will ask the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to temporarily perform law enforcement duties particularly the illegal drugs and the task of guarding the prisons.

Duterte called for the press conference at 11:30 p.m to express his outrage on the Close-Up concert incident.

“As a mayor – I am addressing myself as a citizen of this Republic. I am not really the one person talking like this,” he said asking intelligence community like the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), PDEA where is the money of people for intelligence and operations.

“You are paid to prevent incidents from happening. I am at a lost. It is unacceptable that you can’t prevent people from…(bringing into the venue) entertainment drugs,” he said, emphasizing that government is allotting huge funds for intelligence and operations.

Duterte said he can feel the anger of the parents of the young people. "Nobody is talking about it,” he said. (PNA) FFC/LCM/LDP

Identities of HIV-positive persons must remain confidential -- Albay AIDS Council
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, May 25 (PNA) -- An official of the Albay Aids Council (AAC) has appealed to the public to understand and respect the rights of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-positive persons.

Miguel Dela Rama, AAC spokesperson, said the AAC has been continuously informing the public about issues on HIV through seminar and training of health personnel, persons with HIV, media and community leaders but they cannot reveal the names and locations of HIV-positive patients in Albay as what some curious individuals want the AAC to do.

The AAC provides information and education communication to the public about HIV and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), he said.

"This is HIV-AIDS 101 or basic information on what the disease is, what the modes of transmission are, how to prevent it and what the services of concerned agencies are," Dela Rama added.

Again, he said, one can only acquire the virus through penetrative unprotected sexual intercourse, blood transfusion and breast milk, if the mother is positive.

"If you are faithful to your partner, then there is no risk," the AAC spokesperson said.

Dela Rama disclosed that from 1984 to 2016, there have been 124 HIV cases reported in the province of Albay.

The AAC also educates the community on how to deal with persons with HIV but not to warn the public about the existence an HIV person in a certain community.

"It is not the right approach. Instead we need to inform the community that HIV can be prevented and easy to prevent. It is acquired, not hereditary, Dela Rama explained.

Article VI of Republic Act 8504, otherwise known as the “Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998” states that the medical confidentiality shall be strictly observed in the handling of all medical information, particularly the identity and status of persons with HIV.

However, in the following instances the exceptions to the mandate of confidentiality shall not be considered breached: (a) when complying with reportorial requirements in conjunction with the AIDSWATCH programs provided in Sec. 27 of this Act; (b) when informing other health workers directly involved or about to be involved in the treatment or care of a person with HIV/AIDS: Provided, That such treatment or care carry the risk of HIV transmission: Provided, further, That such workers shall be obliged to maintain the shared medical confidentiality; (c) when responding to a subpoena duces tecum and subpoena ad testificandum issued by a court with jurisdiction over a legal proceeding where the main issue is the HIV status of an individual.

The law also provides that results of HIV/AIDS testing shall be confidential and shall be released; the person who submitted himself/herself to such test; either parent of a minor child who has been tested; a legal guardian in the case of insane persons or orphans; a person authorized to receive such results.

Any violation of medical confidentiality shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment for six months to four years, RA8504 said.

"Our office is mandated to follow this law and its implementation.

"Persons with HIV are monitored by our office because they receive regularly their anti-retroviral drugs/ medicine from the HIV-AIDS Core Team," Dela Rama said.

Persons living with HIV, he said, are fully aware of the infection prior to the voluntary HIV test; meaning to say, they are given HIV counseling before they submit themselves for an HIV test.

After the result, the patient will again undergo of post-counseling, which includes information about HIV and important details on how to undergo the treatment as well as where to coordinate and avail of other services.

Dela Rama said tuberculosis is much more contagious than HIV.

"You can acquire TB easy thru saliva, sharing of foods or utensils of a TB patient but in HIV, you can only be infected through unprotected sexual intercourse (multiple partner), blood transfusion of an contaminated blood -- meaning with HIV, breastfeeding or mother to child transmission," he said.

The AAC official lamented the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV due to low knowledge of the community, adding that the problem lies not in the persons with HIV but in the few who know less about HIV.

"If we name names and the identity and location of the HIV-positive persons in our province, we are not just committing sins but we are killing them little by little by not giving them the right to live. The stigma and the discrimination of the society is more contagious than the virus of HIV," Dela Rama said.

In Albay, the HIV testing facilities are in Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital, Daraga Social Hygene Clinic and Tabaco Social Hygiene Clinic. In Naga City, one may go to the Social Hygiene Clinic or Bicol Medical Center. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD

PSSST urges Bicol farmers to apply soil-friendly farming methods
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 25 (PNA) -– Data obtained from the Bureau of Soils show considerable increase in Bicol’s soil degradation, prompting an encouragement from the Philippine Society of Soil Science and Technology (PSSST) for Bicolano farmers towards the application of soil-friendly farming.

In its 19th Annual Meeting and Scientific Conference held recently here, the PSSST said it is focusing on the improvement of soil fertility not only in the region but also all over the country where soil degradation has been growing alarmingly.

“Farmers’ fertilizer application practices are often unbalanced or sub-optimal, resulting in low yields, nutrient imbalances and environmental degradation,” Mirasol Pampolino, the Southeast Asia program deputy director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute, told the hundreds of participants in the grand event sponsored by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

According to Pampolino, there is a great need to educate the farmers and planters of the country in terms of fertilizer usage to lessen soil degradation and increase agricultural profit.

PSSST president Redia Atienza said the annual conference was among the organization’s activities in keeping with the purpose and objectives it was organized, one of which is promoting the advancement of soil science and technology in the Philippines.

“The challenge is upon us members to break free from the trending concept on organics and spread out the scientific knowledge so we can capture the true meaning and give optimum food production opportunities beyond our shores,” Atienza said in her message.

The challenge involves the career orientation program designed to encourage students to major in Soil Science, where soil scientists and technologists share their knowledge regarding the many opportunities ahead, in the development and conservation of Philippine soils, she said.

"This is augmented and or complemented by the PSSST Thesis Grant Program for those majoring in soil science,” she added.

The annual meeting and scientific conference, according to her, supports the objective to serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas and knowledge among soil scientists, technologists, and planners.

The PSSST commitment to partnering with the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation, Philippine Association of Agriculturists, International Union of Soil Science and East and Southeast Asia Federation of Soil Science Societies is in support of the objectives in establishment of formal and non-formal linkages with similar organizations locally and abroad, Atienza revealed.

“We enjoin all members to be one in continuing the implementation of such programs in support of the PSSST's set objectives,” she stressed.

PSSST is a non-stock, non-profit professional scientific organization which boosts of nationwide membership devoted to various objectives, among them to promote the advancement of soil science and technology in the Philippines.

It also performs the task of mobilizing and encouraging soil scientists and technologists of the country to share their knowledge in the development and conservation of Philippine soils and serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas and knowledge among soil scientists, technologists, and planners.

Also among its objectives is to establish formal and non–formal information linkages with other similar organizations and institutions, locally and abroad.

The society is composed of members from various government agencies like the Departments of Agriculture, Science and Technology and Environment and Natural Resources and attached agencies, local government units, state colleges and universities, private agencies, non-government organizations and international institutions based in the Philippines.

Part of the three-day conference was discussions on farming methods formulated to preserve long-term soil fertility along with proper fertilizer utilization.

The participants were also ushered to a tour around Albay where they were given in-depth insights of the province’s soil conditions mostly described as sandy loom and volcanic in nature hence, fit for a large variety of cash crops and other high-value agricultural products like vegetables, root crops and fruit trees.

The conference participants also visited tourist spots around the city to find out for themselves why it is called in the international travel world as the “City of Fun and Adventure”. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD

DepEd-Bicol ready for June 13 class opening
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, May 25 (PNA) -- The Department of Education (DepEd) in the Bicol Region is now well prepared for the opening of classes on June 13 for both elementary and Grade 11 of the senior high school.

This was the assurance DepEd Bicol Regional Director Ramon Fiel Abcede made Tuesday as he said his agency will implement the new curriculum under the K-12 program.

Abcede said he sees no problem in the implementation as they had been preparing for it for five years.

Aside from their preparation, he said, they have Plan B and Plan C for any problem that may crop up during the opening of classes.

The DepEd Bicol chief said there are more than 2,000 new school buildings intended for the senior high school in the entire Bicol and 50 percent of these are ready for use by Grade 11 while those under construction are 20-60 percent completed and are scheduled to be finished in the first semester of the coming school year.

"Also part of the Plan B and Plan C is to use the excess and un-utilized classrooms of the junior high school in various parts of the region and there will be adjustments in the time of classes," he said.

Abcede said the more than 53,000 teachers in the region are also ready for the class opening, of which 2,777 are newly hired for the senior high school, courtesy of the DepEd national office.

"Since 2013, the government has solved the problem on the lack of about 100,000 teachers in the entire country; in fact, more than 12,000 have been given to Region 5." he said.

Abcede said the ratio now is 1:38 in every classroom in the region or one teacher for every 38 students in the elementary.

"As of now, 75 percent of the more than 90,000 Grade 10 completers have already enrolled and are expected to enter Grade 11. Of this total, about 10,000-15,000 are private schools and the rest are from public junior high school," he said.

The DepEd official called on those who finished high school under the old curriculum and are enrolling for Grade 11 to do so as the subjects in the first year and second year in college are the same.

Abcede said their technical personnel are monitoring the delivery of the of procured needed items whose supply has been awarded to contractors, involving Php400 million worth of tools, equipment, materials and other technical-vocational and livelihood tracks needed for the entry of senior high school students. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JH/CBD

DSWD empowers Bicol poor with more livelihood training programs
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 25 (PNA) – The regional office for Bicol of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is not relenting on its task of building the capacity of the poor towards sustainable living.

Recently, 170 beneficiaries completed various training courses held in this city on skills enhancement that provided them the knowledge and capabilities either for future employment or microenterprise development under the agency’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

After the completion of the week-long training program themed “Strengthening People to End Poverty and Promote Progress”, the beneficiaries, who are considered within Albay’s poorest-of-the-poor sector, were awarded certificates of completion which they could use in applying for work.

DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia on Wednesday said the latest graduates have advanced one step ahead to improve their living realized as the rally to work towards mutually inclusive sustainable growth continues under strategic partnerships between businesses and underprivileged communities in promoting mutually inclusive growth through the SLP.

As among the poorest, beneficiaries of this program are also recipients of the Conditional Cash Transfer government subsidy under the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Also under the SLP, the DSWD, together with collaborating agencies -- both government and private, help the beneficiaries find jobs through referrals to different partner industries and available markets in the Bicol region, Garcia said.

Other graduates, he said, are also encouraged to venture into self–employment where they can start a small enterprise or use the starter kits provided to them as part of their completion.

With proper monitoring and assistance, these graduates may also be grouped into an association or have their own spa, rehabilitation clinics or business in the future being graduates of courses in beauty care services and wellness massage provided by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

One of the graduates, Marylyn Bien of Tabaco City who completed the beauty care services, said it feels good that the hardships encountered during the training have gained positive results,given that she was able to improve her talent which she can use anywhere she goes while making use of it as a life time treasure.

The Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) is a community-based capacity-building program of the government that seeks to improve the socio-economic capacity of the poor to enhance access to basic social services and improve their standard of living.

SLP began in 2011 and it designs its projects to mainly increase the communities’ sense of dignity, yield long-term results for all actively participating stakeholders, and maintain consistence with both communities and partner establishments.

The program prioritizes participants who are underprivileged, which are legitimately identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

According to Garcia, the main objectives of SLP are providing sufficient and sustainable source of income, giving equal opportunity to gain resources for their needs and skills, and to help people recognize and understand the “new normal.”

Given that DSWD’s pledge at large is geared towards providing capabilities-building and developing strategic and sustainable partnerships, the agency recognizes the need to educate people on how times have changed nowadays, he said.

Because of its commitment to seeding sustainable prosperity, SLP trains the communities to contribute to production and labor markets by utilizing available resources and accessible market.

Through the Community-Driven Enterprise Development (CDED) approach, they are given the option to take either a Micro-Enterprise Development Track or an Employment Facilitation Track.

Both programs also provide social preparedness, furthered skills training, and ultimately, sustainable sources of income.

It also makes sure that the communities are independent enough and the corporate social integration programs are holistic and impactful, Garcia said, adding that SLP would not be holistic without partnering with different institutions.

“Seeding economic prosperity is a major facet in all these efforts. But given a closer look, what SLP really does is it hones individuals to be independent, proud of what they do, and it believes their actions benefit the community at large,” Garcia said.

SLP, according to DSWD records, is only among the Aquino administration’s poverty alleviation programs implemented in Bicol where an amount of at least PHP5.6 billion has been spent for social and anti-poverty projects for poor families in the region, resulting in some notable improvements in living conditions.

These programs include the 4Ps and the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

The 4Ps program spent PHP4.4 billion for 374,459 families; SLP, PHP380 million for livelihood and micro enterprise development projects of 42,530 beneficiaries; and Kalahi-CIDSS, PHP789 million for a total of 532 community development projects in 26 poor Bicol towns.

Through these, the DSWD said at least one out of 10 poor families in Bicol have improved their well-being and are now out of the poverty threshold. (PNA) BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD

Legazpi starts yearly checkup of pre-schoolers in its 70 villages
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, May 25 (PNA) -- This City Health Office has started giving health services to the pre-school children in the 70 barangays here.

City Health Officer Fulbert Gillego said in an interview Wednesday that the city’s professional doctors, pediatricians, medical technologists, dentists, pharmacists and nutrition officers have started rendering medical services to the city villagers as part of bringing health care services closer to the people.

The health services activity is part of the city's yearly Sagip-Kalusugan Program with a holistic approach involving free medical check-ups, laboratory examinations, urine examinations, feeding activities, chest X-ray, de-worming and vitamin supplementation which aims to reduce malnutrition cases in the community.

The medical services aimed at preventing children from being victims of tuberculosis, asthma, skin disease and other dangerous infectious illnesses, Gillego said.

He said Sagip-Kalusugan was conceptualized in 2007 during which the recorded malnourished cases were 16 percent of the total population of children in this city.

Through this program, however, malnutrition was reduced to only 6 percent or less than 1,000 children posted in the first quarter of 2016.

Aside from this yearly Sagip-Kalusugan project, the City Health Office has also conducted a monthly regular monitoring and holding of Operation Timbang for pre-school children in the community to make sure they are always in their proper weight, Gillego said.

He said his office also conducts nutrition education for all mothers as part of promoting nutritional guidelines that include proper way of breast feeding, infant and child feeding, responsible parenthood, maternal and child health care. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EPS/CBD

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Case filed vs man with 330 kilos of fish caught using dynamite
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- Authorities on Tuesday morning filed a case of violation of Section 126 of Republic Act No. 8550 against a fish broker found in possession of 330 kilos of illegally caught fish.

Joint operatives of the Bulan Municipal Police Station (BMPS) and the Fishery Division of the Office of the Provincial Agriculture of Sorsogon confiscated 16 styrofoam boxes containing the assorted fishes at Bulan Port, Barangay Zone 4 early Monday morning.

A police report reaching Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here said the BMPS received a call from the Sorsogon agriculture office that a fish cargo from Mandaon town in Masbate would land at the Bulan Port.

The combined elements of the two law enforcement agencies led by Maritess Gelua of the Bulan Municipal Agriculture Office and SPO2 Edgar Calupit immediately proceeded to the Bulan port where they discovered 11 boxes full of fish of various species and weighing 220 kilos.

While the authorities were doing an investigation, they discovered five more boxes of fish of different varieties and weighing 110 kilos in the possession of fish broker Louie G. Meteoro, 42, who was able to escape.

During the investigation by Provincial Agriculture Office fish examiners Nacer Bataller and Ronilo Conde, they confirmed that the fish catch was a result of dynamite blasting. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JH/CBD

Globe says 'sorry' to customers for communication glitches

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- The Globe Telecom issued on Monday a public advisory apologizing to its customers for the inconvenience caused by the intermittent communication service problem.

The telecommunications firm posted at the Globe Icon website the apology for the communication glitches that affected mobile and broadband customers in the six provinces of Bicol and Quezon province.

The advisory said the problem started on April 11 when the firm's undersea fiber cable between Legazpi City and Calbayog City was damaged by the unusually strong sea currents.

“This is a natural occurrence and a hazard that all submarine cable systems around the world face from time to time,” the Globe statement said.

The firm said it expects to fully restore the facility by mid-June subject to tide and sea conditions in the area.

Despite the communication service problem, the firm was able to implement redundancy measures to provide voice, text and data service to most of the affected provinces.

The advisory said that while rehabilitation works were being done, the company incurred two fiber cuts that led to service disruptions on Saturday and Sunday.

It claimed that the first disruption happened at 9:43 p.m. Saturday due to an accidental damage caused by construction work on the northern segment from the undersea cut.

Service was restored at 5:50 a.m. Sunday but another section of the fiber facility broke down at 10:55 a.m. Sunday after a dump truck accidentally dragged the cable facility.

Service was restored by 12:55 p.m. Sunday.

The firm said the unfortunate series of events is beyond any telecommunication company’s control, saying “we did all that we could to restore communications services as soon as possible.”

Earlier, Albay Governor Joey Salceda scored Globe Telecom for the unexplained service interruption since Saturday, warning the firm of a congressional sanction if the problem is not addressed promptly.

In a statement at his FB wall, Salceda said he asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to investigate this man-made disaster and impose penalties sufficiently high to deter its repetition.

Thousands of Globe subscribers in Albay have been complaining of poor signal in their phones for the past two days.

Salceda also warned the telecommunications firm that if it fails to address this communication glitch, he will be forced to file a resolution in the House of Representatives for the revocation of the firm’s franchise.

“If this is not done before July 27, when Congress opens, then my first order of business in the House of Representatives is the revocation of its franchise,” he said. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD

New mushroom culture technologies introduced in Catanduanes
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- Edible mushroom production in the abaca-rich island-province of Catanduanes is expected to become a trend following the introduction of new technologies in the culture of this highly in-demand food commodity.

It certainly would offer another good source of income for the island’s farmers, most of them presently confined only abaca production, Governor Araceli Wong said in a statement reaching here Tuesday.

Spearheaded by the Provincial Agricultural Services Office, the initiative, collaborated with the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Trade and Industry, featured demonstrations of latest technologies and training focused on the use of abaca waste other than rice straw, bran or hull as culture medium.

The training and demonstration also oriented hundreds of farmer-participants on the health benefits of the commodity and its offer of sustainable income for rural families even for those who only have small spaces and less capital for investment, Wong said.

PASO head Roberto Ceballo said in the same statement that the training hopes to enlighten and supplement ideas to further improve trade of farmers, given that mushroom products have been continuously gaining popularity among high-class hotels and restaurant consumers as connoisseur delights.

A good cash crop that is rather easy to grow, mushroom commands a high demand owing to its health benefits as a chemical-free food and nutritional values, being rich in prime nutrients and even medicinal properties.

Mushroom, which contains about 90-percent water and very low in calories, is enjoyed for its flavor and texture when added to soups, salad and sandwiches or used as an appetizer while extracts are also increasingly being used in nutraceutical products and sports drinks.

It has very little sodium and fat and very high in dietary fiber; hence, mushroom is an ideal food for persons following a weight management program or a diet for hypertensives being an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower elevated blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke.

One medium portabella mushroom has even more potassium than a banana or a glass of orange juice and one serving of mushroom also provides about 20-40 percent of the daily value of copper, a mineral that has cardio-protective properties.

Mushroom is a rich source of riboflavin, niacin, and selenium -- an antioxidant that works with vitamin E to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and reduces the risk of prostate cancer among males and breast cancer among females.

“Commercial production of edible mushroom would be a trend in Catanduanes. While we grow a lot of abaca, we also see in the province the potential of wide-scale production of this highly-profitable commodity using idle farm spaces,” Wong said.

The training and techno-demo activities provided hundreds of participants, mostly farmers and women, a discovery of an opportunity to earn from the simple technology of mushroom culture even within the confines of their homes, in their backyards up to their abaca farms, according to Ceballo.

The techno-demo included discussions on mushroom fruiting bag production, mushroom processing, inoculation procedure and technology on how to start community-based culture with emphasis on the sterilization process that is imperative in the production of mushroom fruiting bags to eliminate contamination.

Policy and technology updates involving the country’s mushroom industry were also provided during the occasion which drew overwhelming interest from those who witnessed and participated in the techno-demo including Wong, he said.

“And so, another lucrative industry that the provincial government will be supporting financially, with the PASO and DA providing the technology, has been born in Catanduanes based on a work plan that tackles the problem on the lack of knowledge on the proper culture of mushroom among most rural folk and farmers,” the lady governor said.

The work plan also addresses the old belief that mushroom grows naturally during the wet season by way of an intensified information dissemination and technology transfer in coordination with local government units (LGUs), the Catanduanes State University (CSU) and farm cooperatives as a way to popularize mushroom culture among local farmers.

Earlier, Luz Marcelino, regional chief for Bicol of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) research division which takes the lead role in the implementation of mushroom projects in the region, underscored that mushroom production is not only a big livelihood opportunity but also a gender responsive undertaking as women can also engage in this economic activity.

Moreover, she said, mushroom locally called “kurakding” or “kabute” in Tagalog, is a high-value farm product that is a delicacy accepted as vegetable usually cooked with coconut milk and other vegetables which is considered one of the favorite local dishes.

Apart from its popularity as a food commodity, edible mushrooms that could be produced in Catanduanes may also address the high demand but meager supply in Metro Manila and other major markets in the country and abroad, Marcelino said.

The DA regional official explained that mushroom production involves fungiculture, a process that requires different conditions for optimal growth.

Instead of seeds, mushrooms reproduce asexually through spores.

Despite all of these, Marcelino said, Bicol has limited mushroom production even as resources for its culture are readily and widely available.

But for Wong and Ceballo, this commodity would be another moneymaker for the province, next to abaca, as a result of the recent technology demonstration and training.

The province, sitting off the northeastern side of the Bicol Peninsula and separated from the mainland by Maqueda Bay, has a total of over 35,500 hectares of abaca plantations cultivated by 15,454 farmers, producing an average of 19,000 metric tons of fiber yearly, representing 33.2 percent of the total national annual production to become the country’s fiber industry leader.

This makes abaca its backbone industry, which since time immemorial has made the island a prized contributor to country’s fiber export earnings. (PNA) BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD

DSWD chooses Ligao City as pilot area in Bicol for new PWDs care program
By Danny O. Calleja

LIGAO CITY, May 24 (PNA) –The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has chosen this young Bicol metropolis as the region's pilot area in the implementation of a new care program for persons with disability (PWDs).

Called Community Action and Resources for Accessible, Better, and Leverage Environment (CARe-ABLE), the program’s pilot implementation here was recently formalized with the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that interlocks the city government and DSWD in a partnership deal.

Signatories to the MOA were Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua for the local government and Regional Director Arnel Garcia and Social Technology Bureau Director Thelsa Biolena, representing the DSWD.

Biolena on Tuesday said the CARe-ABLE program aimed to provide interventions to PWDs that include, among others, reducing barriers for greater access to resources both from the government and non-government sectors.

The program is also focused on increasing the potentials of PWDs and promoting their rights by way of administering for the sector social enhancement and capability-building activities, she said.

Under the MOA, PWD desks, manned by registered social workers, will be set up by the city government in five pilot barangays—Basag, Tuburan, Pinamaniquian, Maonon and Mahaba, with the DSWD providing funds for their operations.

Alsua expressed gratitude to the DSWD for choosing her administration as implementer of the program and her city as pilot area in Bicol as it would strengthen PWD capacities and promote the sector’s active participation in productive activities.

“Ligao City is a place full of positivity and a city where good things happen. We are committed to building a well-rounded community for the PWDs as we commit ourselves to the success of the program. We are ready to take on this challenge.” she stressed.

Garcia explained that the selection of the city as pilot area for CARe-ABLE was based on certain criteria that include the passage of significant ordinances that protect and uphold the rights of PWDs; and establishment of PWD-friendly and accessible physical structures, architectural features and facilities.

Other considerations taken were the city’s active implementation of programs supporting PWDs like livelihood, employment and training; implementation of programs that create PWD awareness; and implementation of programs that positively impact on the community.

He said physical disability among people came inevitably owing to some natural and man-made circumstances, “nevertheless, disability should not totally render individuals hopeless as they must adjust their sails in order to succeed and reach their destination.”

The level of CARe-ABLE program implementation will be raised throughout its duration based on the needs that would be determined as it goes along, he explained, adding that the city was seen as efficient and reliable in carrying it out, given its all-out support of programs dedicated to PWDs.

As pilot area for Bicol, Garcia said, the city government’s good practices in caring for the disabled will serve as a show window and basis of replication by other local government units (LGUs) in the region.

This is not the first time that the city was awarded DSWD programs designed to help the needy sectors owing to the local administration’s showings in good governance, he said.

Garcia has earlier acknowledged the city as among the few of LGUs in the region using supplementary funds derived from the national government the more sensible way.

Late last year, the city government was provided by the DSWD funds from its Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) under its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), a community-based capacity building initiative that seeks to improve the participants’ socio-economic status by way of preparing them for locally available jobs or facilitate opportunities for micro-enterprise development.

Formerly known as the Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB), GPBP being applied by the Aquino administration is a somewhat modern approach to planning in the use of government’s financial resources that is different from the usual top-down budgeting where the high-level executives make all the decisions in fund dispensations.

This scheme provides the opportunity for grantees to be involved in setting their own goals and expectations for a given financial period and gives them ownership of the decisions, motivating them to meet budgetary constraints that otherwise might seem unattainable or unrealistic if they were delivered by someone without as much understanding of their day-to-day operations.

This city is among the 79 of the 120 LGUs in Bicol assured of Php45 million in extra funding for three years (2014-2016) for use in GPBP-driven initiatives such as projects which include agri-livelihood projects, farm-to-market roads, irrigation and other agri-infra facilities, among others.

These LGUs automatically qualified to the GPBP for having met the requirements, such as being the recipient of Department of Interior and Local Government’s Seal of Good Housekeeping, and implementation of Public Financial Management Improvement Plan as determined by the Department of Budget and Management.

“We are certain that every time the city government is awarded national funds for projects that would benefit the poor and marginalized, the money is in good hands and the projects are religiously implemented,” Garcia said.

He cited as example the SLP which the city government assigned to ditch the old way of “hand-feeding” patronage and conforms with the Indian proverb—“give a man a fish and he lives for day, but teach a man to fish and he lives for life.”

Unlike most LGUs which use their GPBP allocations in infrastructures projects that are not for long time use, Garcia said, Ligao City uses the fund in providing skills training and livelihood technology education that are of lifetime worth for the individual beneficiaries as well as the community which would gain in terms of enhanced longtime productivity. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Salceda hits Globe Telecom's poor service

LEGAZPI CITY, May 23 (PNA) -- Albay Gov. Joey Salceda led Globe Telecom subscribers in Albay in assailing the company's unexplained service interruption since Saturday.

In a statement at his Facebook wall, Salceda warned the firm of a congressional sanction if the problem is not remedied.

He said he had asked the National Telecommunications Commission to investigate this man-made disaster and impose penalties that are sufficiently high to deter the repetition of the situation.

Globe subscribers in Albay have been complaining of either poor or absence of signal in their phones for the past two days.

Salceda also warned the telecommunications firm that if it cannot not remedy its current poor service to its subscribers, he will be forced to file a resolution in the House of Congress for the revocation of the firm’s franchise.

“If this is not done before July 27, when Congress opens, then my first order of business in the House of Representatives is the revocation of its franchise,” he said.

Salceda said the unannounced, unexplained and almost uninterrupted service interruption of Globe Telecom since Saturday could not be left unpunished.

He even cited the ill consequences on the normalcy of lives and livelihood of thousands of subscribers, especially those non-restorable and non-recoverable effects.

“Globe should give just compensation of Php30 vouchers good for one day to texting, calling and surfing subscribers,” the congressman-elect said. (PNA) LGI/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS

Salceda welcomes Pernia as NEDA chief

LEGAZPI CITY, May 23 (PNA) -- Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda on Monday said he welcomes the appointment of Ernesto M. Pernia of the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics as secretary of the National Economics and Development Authority (NEDA).

“I am excited about his NEDA appointment as I valued his advice when I was a congressman and a member of the Economic Managers Group.” Salceda said in a text message.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday announced at a press conference in Davao City that he had appointed Pernia as NEDA secretary.

Salceda said Pernia is a top-caliber economist and biased towards countryside development.

He is confident that with Pernia at the NEDA, the implementation of the Bicol International Airport project will be fasttracked while the south train project to Legazpi and the modern express way will enjoy higher prospect of realization.

Earlier during his campaign trail here, Duterte offered the NEDA portfolio to Salceda if he would be elected president.

Salceda, who won as congressman in Albay’s 2nd District by a landslide vote, said in an earlier interview that he would be willing to accept Duterte's offer, saying “given his historic mandate, it will be an honor to serve his maiden cabinet, since it would provide a better alternative in serving my constituency.”

Weeks before the election, he bolted the Liberal Party and gave his support to presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe.

Duterte appointed Pernia on Saturday along with retired former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon as his National Security Adviser and his campaign manager Leoncio “Jun” Evasco as cabinet secretary. (PNA) FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS

Legazpi mayor sees city hospital as most updated pro-poor public health facility in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 23 (PNA) -– To be furnished with high-end equipment solicited from various United States- based donors, the public hospital now being established by the city government here would be the most modern public healthcare facility in Bicol, according to Mayor Noel Rosal.

“We are now assured of a big bulk of modern hospital equipment packed in two 40-footer containers due for shipment from the United States,” Rosal said in a statement reaching here from the US on Monday.

It is composed of high-standard (16 slice) CT scan and X-ray machines, operating tables, wheelchairs and other state-of-the art stuffs which the mayor, now on official travel to the US, personally solicited from friendly donors.

CT (computed tomography) scan, which is so expensive in private local hospitals, is an imaging method that uses X-rays to create pictures of cross-sections of the body.

“We are going to use this high-end modern equipment free of charge on the part of indigent patients for whom our city hospital is primarily intended,” he said.

The mayor said one of the American institutions he visited on invitation of its president and chief executive officer George Samson was the headquarters of the World Medical Relief Inc. (WMRI) in Detroit, Michigan from where he was able to secure the big chunk of the donations.

He described the WMRI as a multi-funded, non-profit charitable organization whose mission is to impact the well-being of the medically impoverished on a local, national, and international basis.

Other donors are Filipino communities in the same American state who also gave him a clear insight on the proper way of handling a government hospital to ensure more effective medical services to the benefit of local families, particularly those who belong to the poorest of the poor, Rosal said.

The establishment here of a state-of-the-art public hospital has been placed in the pipeline since three years ago and the beginning of its realization came last year with the start of the construction that marked another milestone in furtherance of the local government’s “most livable city” character.

The project, located within a 3,000-square-meter city-owned property inside the eight-hectare city government business center at the heart of the commercial district, will rise as the most modern public health facility in the Bicol Region primarily devoted to indigent patients in the city and its neighboring localities.

Its operations would help decongest the 250-bed capacity Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, a Department of Health-run hospital here catering to the needs of patients from the provinces of Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon and part of Camarines Sur.

The construction is being facilitated via the Php60-million fund poured into the city by the DOH and counterpart from the local government of Php20 million.

It is scheduled to be completed within this year and expected to be made operational early next year initially as a Level One hospital to attend to less serious cases, simple surgical operations and emergency treatments, among others.

The request for funding from the DOH made last year by Rosal was granted on agreement that the maintenance and other operating expenses of the hospital amounting to Php50 million yearly will be shouldered by the city government through an annual allocation from the local coffer.

The local allocation, according to city administrator Wilfredo “Pecos” Intia, would ensure that the Legazpi City Hospital is manned by competent doctors, nurses and other medical staff; and supplied with medicines that will be dispensed free to indigent patients; and provided with new medical equipment required to make it a truly modern public health care facility, Intia said.

“It is very fortunate that the DOH, under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, is helping us a lot in this endeavor as part of its program of establishing public hospitals in most localities of the country,” he said. (PNA) SCS/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS

DA lures Bicol farmers into coffee, cacao production

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 22 (PNA) -- The regional office for Bicol here of the Department of the Agriculture (DA) has trained farmers, nursery operators and farm extension workers on propagation of coffee and cacao.

The two-day training course on “Nursery Establishment, Management and Propagation Techniques of Selected Fruit Crops” recently conducted in Nabua, Camarines Sur was focused on the two high-value fruit crops in an effort to lure the participants into their commercial production.

Attended by 58 extension workers, farmers and nursery owners selected from the six provinces of Bicol, the training was able to enhance their knowledge and skills in nursery establishment and management as they were oriented on rootstock technology -- particularly budding, grafting and other plant propagation techniques, Rosita Imperial, DA’s regional supervising science research specialist, on Saturday said.

Participants were able to familiarize themselves with propagation tools and techniques of selected fruit crops in different regions and enhance skills and knowledge on the best practices of asexual plant propagation, she said.

Coffee and cacao are among the high-value crops being promoted for development in the region owing to enormous market demand and high export potential, Imperial said.

The DA-Bicol, she said, is currently working on the expansion of these two crops plantations all over the region under the agency’s Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), an intervention falling under the application of the High-Value Crops Development Act of 1995 which allots funds for providing production assistance, technology transfer, marketing and processing that now steer farmers towards generating more income.

In HVCDP whose implementation has been intensified in the region since about four years ago, assistance to producers concerning crop insurance, credit, post-harvest facilities, good seeds and planting materials and fiscal incentives are also provided.

Commercial production of coffee beans, according to Imperial, should be expanded so that its benefits in terms of financial returns that local farmers could reap from the growing demand in the country and abroad of this high-value crop is maximized.

About three decades ago, the Philippines was fourth largest coffee-producing nation and noted as among the few countries in the world where leading coffee varieties like robusta, excelsa and liberica exist.

Through the years, however, coffee plantations in the country decreased from 149,657 hectares to 138,830, putting the domestic production down to only 0.12 percent of the world’s coffee output and making the Philippines now a net importer as total demand reaches 70,350 metric tons (MT) while local production is only 47,838 MT.

Imperial said the country’s latest yearly coffee importation is 22,500 MT valued at Php6.72 billion and out of the 88,526-MT coffee production of the Philippines in 2011, Bicol was able to contribute only 327 MT.

Sorsogon is Bicol’s top producer of coffee with its 171 MT, followed by Albay, 103.66 MT; Camarines Sur, 26.54 MT; Camarines Norte, 22.93 MT; and Catanduanes, 1.99 MT.

“We need to enable local farmers to turn to this high-value crop and eventually void of the need to import coffee beans, such as from Indonesia and Vietnam, to meet the local demand,” Imperial said.

There have been various training sessions conducted by the DA on nursery management for coffee seedlings of robusta variety, described as a sturdy species of coffee bean with low acidity and high bitterness and used primarily in instant coffee, espresso and as a filler in ground coffee blends.

Robusta, Imperial said, is easy to care for, has a greater crop yield than arabica coffee, has almost double the amount of caffeine, more antioxidants than arabica coffea and is less susceptible to disease.

Roasted robusta beans, she said, produce a strong, full-bodied coffee with a distinctive earthy flavor, but usually with more bitterness than arabica due to its pyrazine content.

Approximately 30 percent of the coffee produced in the world is robusta and in recent years, Vietnam, which produces mostly this variety, has surpassed Brazil, India, and Indonesia to become its world's single largest exporter.

Studies show that robusta coffee is used as a stimulant, diuretic, antioxidant, antipyretic and relieves spasmodic asthma.

Cacao, which that grows well in the region owing to its tropical climate, meanwhile, has a big potential due to global consumption and demand for chocolates.

In 2020, a global scarcity of cacao beans is being anticipated and the DA is preparing Bicolano farmers to this scenario that would benefit them should they participate in large-scale production being promoted by the agency under the HVCDP in partnership with the Philippine Coconut Authority that provides technologies in cacao intercropping with coconut and pili.

So far, enthusiasm on cacao growing has been spreading like wildfire in Bicol since the program started about three years ago a campaign towards grooming cacao beans as another sunshine industry of the region by way of promoting this high-value crop’s significance both in terms of economic and health gains.

Imperial, who is also the regional HVCDP focal person, said she is optimistic that with the help of local government units in the region, the program can attain its targets for 2016 which include an addition of 850 hectares for cacao and 75 hectares for coffee, in the province of Camarines Sur alone.(PNA) BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD/pjn

Outgoing PNP chief won't speculate on whether Duterte can stop crimes, illegal drugs in 6 months

LEGAZPI CITY, May 21 (PNA) -- Outgoing Philippine National Police Director General Ricardo Marquez said here he would rather not speculate on whether the campaign promise of presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte to stop crimes and illegal drugs in country within six months will be feasible or not.

“It is hard to speculate but I assure the new administration that the whole PNP organization will toe the line and do its best in preventing and fighting crimes," Marquez said on Thursday afternoon during the awarding of medals to 20 officials of the PNP Bicol regional office or Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) for working hard to make the recent elections safe and orderly, especially in Masbate province which had been historically marred by election-related violence.

He said that during his stint as PNP chief, he was able to bring down the crime figures to a significant level, with a considerable decrease in the incidence of murder, homicide, carnapping, robbery and theft and other street crimes.

Marquez told reporters that the decrease in the crime figures may be attributed to a policing strategy by bringing more policemen on the streets.

Asked what legacy he will leave as he bows out as PNP chief by the end of June, Marquez said “I have elevated the level of the PNP to the next higher level in law enforcement. It is better to ask my men.”

He even cited events wherein the PNP had successfully carried out its duties like during the APEC meeting, Pope visit and the recent national and local elections.

On the campaign against illegal drugs, Marquez said the PNP has initiated strategies that continue to break the supply of illegal drugs in the country, including the reduction in the demand for drugs, with the help and participation of the community.

He said that from January to date police enforcers have seized 526 kilos of shabu with a street value of Php2.6 billion, arrested 4,000 people with undocumented firearms.

He believes that the appointment of Police Chief Supt. Ronald De La Rosa as the next PNP chief is within the prerogative of the President, saying “It is an accepted fact.”

“I think there was no by-passing as De la Rosa is a qualified and well-trained police officer. The appointment of police generals is a regular occurrence as it happened during the times of Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo and Aquino,” Marquez explained

Asked what lies ahead when he retires in August, he said he will not join other government agencies nor run for public office but instead, spend his time with his family.

Marquez said he has no objection about the plan of the new administration to give amnesty to political prisoners, but there should be a consultation process.

He claimed that there are cases where these political prisoners are facing criminal complaints still pending in courts.

Marquez also commended the Police Regional Office 5 for a “job well done” during the conduct of the national ad local elections.

He also bade farewell to his men, saying, “Change is coming -- there is nothing to fear, just continue to be faithful and loyal to the service.”(PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/pjn

ECC kicks off nationwide advocacy seminars in Bicol
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, May 20 (PNA) -- The Employees' Compensation Commission (ECC) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) started its first of a series of advocacy seminars on Thursday in Tabaco City.

Lawyer Jonathan T. Villasoto, ECC deputy executive director, said the seminar aims to raise the awareness of both the employers and the employees on the additional benefits that have long been given to the latter but many of them still do not know yet.

With Villasoto is Dr. Raymond C. Bañaga, medical officer lll of the ECC's Work Contingency Prevention and Rehabilitation Division.

The employees compensation benefits under the ECC-DOLE has been implemented since the Marcos regime, particularly in 1975, through Presidential Decree 626, which implements a social security benefit programmed for the employees who get sick, meet accident, get injured or die in connection with their work.

These are added and separate benefits of the employees, aside from the Social Security System and the Government Service and Insurance system benefits, Villasoto clarified.

The ECC benefits are separate from those of the SSS and the GSIS since the funds came from the Php10 and Php30 being contributed monthly by the employers, depending on the salary of the employee, he said.

The ECC official explained that once an employee establishes an employer-employee relationship with the owner of the business establishment, even he has not yet contributed to the SSS or GSIS, he is already automatically a member of the ECC and already qualified to get additional benefits even just on the first day of his being an employee, if he meets an accident, gets sick or dies.

Even an employee is not yet a member of the SSS and the employer has not yet paid the initial SSS contribution, he can already get a claim as an employment compensation benefit beneficiary or else the employer will be held liable for neglect, Villasoto added.

He cited the claims under the ECC as loss of income wherein the cause of temporary total disability or sickness benefit is cited.

The employee is entitled to a sick leave of 120 days with a compensation of Php200 per day or equivalent to 90 percent of the average daily salary being given by the employer; permanent total disability (PTD) and permanent partial disability (PPD) which have a corresponding payment from the ECC fund coming from the monthly contributions of the employer.

There is also a career allowance where the pensioners in both the private and public sectors will be given a supplemental pension of Php 575 per month if they experience work-connected permanent partial and permanent total disabilities.

Under the medical benefit an ECC member can reimburse expenses for medicines, medical care, hospital care, surgical expenses and other related expenses.

The death and funeral benefits extend Php20,000 to the family of a dead member.

ECC also offers rehabilitation benefit to the member-employee.

Employee-beneficiaries have three years from the time they get sick to claim the benefits or for the relatives, three years from the death of the ECC member.

Villasoto said the ECC has now a total fund of Php32.9 billion for the private sector members and Php17.6 billion for the government employees.

He said they decided to go around the country to explain these benefits, which many employees and workers do not know yet even the program has been in place for a long time.

The ECC also plans to set up ECC offices in the DOLE regional and provincial offices to make employees aware of these benefits.

The government sector members include the members of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippine, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy and their civilian personnel. (PNA) PGL/FGS/JH/CBD/eds

PNP chief awards medals to 20 Bicol officials
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, May 20 (PNA) -- Philippine National Police chief Director General Ricardo Marquez awarded medals of merit, special service and efficiency to 20 officials of the Police Regional Office 5 on Thursday afternoon at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here.

The awards were given especially to the higher-rank officers of PRO5 in recognition of their successful operations that resulted in the clean and safe conduct of the recently concluded elections and making PRO5 the most outstanding among the 18 PROs in the entire country in terms of accomplishments.

Given PNP Special Service Medal were Chief Supt. Augusto M. Marquez Jr., PRO5 director, and Sr. Supt. Lito Pitallano, deputy regional director for operations and head of the Regional Special Operations Task Group-Masbate.

A Medal of Merit was given each to Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, spokesperson of RSOTG; Sr. Supt. Alexander Sampaga, Masbate Provincial Police Office director; and the operation officers of the RSOTG -- Supt. Marlon Catan, Supt. Erwin Doma, Chief Insp. Rodel Pescuela and SPO3 Nick Paul Macaalay.

Each of the following received a Medal of Efficiency: Chief Supt. Romulo Esteban, deputy regional director for administration; Sr. Supt. Petronelli Baldebrin, chief of the Regional Directorial Staff; Sr. Supt. Marlon Tejada, 5th Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief; Sr. Supt. Edwin Portento, Regional Intelligence Division chief; and the other five provincial directors of Bicol -- Sr. Supt. Celso Arcueno Jr. of Albay; Sr. Supt. Rudolph Dimas, Camarines Norte; Sr. Supt. Walfredo Pornillos, Camarines Sur; Sr. Supt. Jesus Martirez, Catanduanes; and Sr. Supt. Ronaldo Cabral of Sorsogon.

Sr. Supt. Narciso Domingo, Naga City Police Office chief; Supt. Abelardo Borromeo, Regional Operation and Plans Division chief, and Supt. Efren Orlina, Regional Election and Monitoring Action Center chief, also got a Medal of Efficiency each.

After the awarding ceremony, Marquez and the PRO5 officials had a closed-door meeting at the camp's multi-purpose building and had an assessment of the best practices they implemented during the recent elections, especially in Masbate.

Marquez also called on all police personnel not to fear the incoming PNP chief and just focus on their duties and responsibilities.

He gave a piece of advice to his provincial directors not to be partisan in service and be a good example of leadership to their men.

The PNP chief bade the PRO5 personnel farewell as he is retiring from the service this coming July. (PNA) FFC/FGS/JH/CBD/eds

DOST helps address kids’ malnutrition problem in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 20 (PNA) -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Bicol regional office here is working closely with local government units (LGUs) in the setting up of complimentary food facilities in an effort to address the serious malnutrition problem among children in the region.

So far, DOST regional director Tomas Briñas on Friday said, two key Bicol LGUs have already partnered with his office in the program called “Establishment of Processing Facility for the Production of Complementary Food, Veggie Noodles and Bread.”

The latest to embrace the program is Gubat, a first class urban-rural town of Sorsogon, which under the partnership agreement was provided by the DOST equipment for the production of complementary foods using the recommended formulations from DOST’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).

Under the agreement, the Gubat LGU, through the new facility, will produce sufficient amount of food products that it would serve to malnourished children in the locality under its feeding program and sell to neighboring municipalities, Briñas said.

These food items will include rice-mungo curls, rice-mungo baby instant blend and rice-mungo with sesame, which have been tested to reduce by over 50 percent the malnutrition incidence in certain application areas of the country.

Studies conducted by the FNRI show that mungo or mungbean (Vigna radiata), which is mainly used as human food, is one of the cheapest sources of plant protein which contains at least 27-percent protein and a good source of minerals such as calcium and sodium.

Dried mungo bean seeds are high in vitamins A and B while the sprouted ones are rich in vitamins B and C.

Rice, on the other hand, is the staple food serving the predominant dietary energy source for Filipinos.

A combination of these two locally-produced agricultural crops, when processed into complementary food supplement, showed significant increase in body weights of children after a four-month-long feeding program as tested in Agusan del Sur, Briñas said.

The rice-mungo curls, he said, a blend of rice flour and mungo is crispy with an appealing cereal taste enhanced by artificial flavors.

This product contains 130 kilocalories (kcal) of energy and four grams protein per 30 grams serving that is enough to meet the 12 percent of recommended energy and 14.3 percent of recommended protein intake of children with age of one to three years.

As a nutritious snack, it contains 15 milligram of calcium, one milligram of iron and 21 grams of carbohydrates, Briñas said.

The rice-mungo baby food blend in plain variety, meanwhile, is an instant food preparation rich in protein and energy processed using the extrusion cooking method.

The DOST regional chief said this food blend contains 120 kcal and four grams protein per 30 grams serving.

This formulation, he said, is enough to meet 17 percent of recommended energy and nutrient intake (RENI) for children aged six to 12 months and 29 percent of recommended protein intake for children of the same age.

It contains 140 calories (19 percent RENI) and four grams of protein (19.4 percent RENI) for children aged six to 12 months.

The other Bicol LGU now involved in the program is Iriga City of Camarines Sur where the earlier established DOST-assisted complementary food production facility being operated by the local government produces rice mungo curls and ready-to-cook rice mungo sesame blend.

The Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) in Pili, Camarines Sur, meanwhile, also has its DOST-FNRI complementary food processing equipment and food testing laboratories.

Briñas, on Friday, said the development of these food supplements for children and the implementation of the production program in partnership with LGUs are part of DOST’s commitment to help curb malnutrition in the region and in the country.

According to the latest report of the Department of Education (DepEd) Health and Nutrition Center (HNC), Bicol ranked third highest among the country’s 18 regions in malnutrition among elementary pupils.

In school-year 2012-2013, it recorded 52,310 pupils, representing 5.37 percent of the region’s total number of elementary school children who were classified as severely malnourished (severely wasted) and fourth in secondary schools with 3.75 percent or approximately 10, 379 students classified under the same malnutrition status.

The region also had 139,539 pupils equivalent to 14.32 percent of all elementary pupils in school year 2013-2014 and 36,475 students, or 13.19 percent of enrolled as secondary students in public schools, considered as malnourished or wasted, according to the HNC.

Based on the same data, Albay had a 6.86 prevalence rate for severely wasted, a new term being used by nutrition officials to mean severely underweight.

The province had an even higher rating for wasted, or underweight, children at 17.55 per cent.

On the other hand, FNRI’s latest National Nutrition Survey (NNS) says the number of malnourished children in Bicol had increased from 33.5 percent in 2008 to 39.8 percent in 2013.

While the same survey noted that the underweight cases in the region declined from 33.8 percent to 24.6 percent, still it belongs to the top three regions with the highest number of undernourished children ages 0-5 years old (low weight for age ratio) next to Region IV-B or the Mindoro-Marinduque-Roblom-Palawan region with 27.5 percent and Western Visayas with 26 percent. (PNA) PGL/FGS/DOC/cbd

US-based Filipinos vow to help Legazpi City hospital
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, May 19 (PNA) -- The Filipino community based in Detroit, Michigan in the United States has pledged to donate hospital beds and other medical equipment to be used for the operation of the Legazpi City hospital, Mayor Noel E. Rosal said in a text message on Thursday.

Rosal, who is in an official business in the US, said the group of US-based Filipinos explained to him in a meeting over the weekend the proper way of handling a government hospital to make sure it will give more effective medical services to the people, particularly those who belong to the poorest of the poor families.

The city hospital is located in a 3,000-square-meter lot owned by the city government inside the eight-hectare central business district at the heart of the city at Barangay Bitano.

The hospital is being constructed through a counterparting agreement between the Department of Health, which poured in Php60 million, and the local government unit of Legazpi City, which gave a share of Php 20 million.

Rosal said the civil works of the project are now having final touches and expected to have a soft opening for its operation this coming July.

The medical facility will have an initial OF 25-50 beds plus additional beds and other medical amenities to be donated by the US-based Filipinos, mostly Bicolanos.

He described the project as a state-of-the-art public hospital which will be one of the most modern public health facilities in the entire Bicol and will be manned by professional doctors, nurses, midwives and other medical personnel who will render health care services to the city’s indigent patients and those of neighboring municipalities.

The city hospital will have medical equipment that include dialysis that can be availed at lower charges.

It can also offer medical services to less serious cases, simple surgical operations and emergency treatment, among others, Rosal said.

Upon completion of the project, he said, the operation of this health facility would decongest the highly congested Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital that presently caters to the medical needs of patients from the entire province of Albay and neighboring localities.

Rosal said the city administration will shoulder the yearly operational expenses of the hospital that require at least Php50 million for salaries and wages of medical practitioners who will manage the hospital operation. (PNA) RMA/FGS/EPS/CBD/eds

Friday, May 20, 2016

(FEATURE)Masbateños long longing for potable water
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

MASBATE CITY, May 18 (PNA) -– Lack of potable water has created a brisk business for water peddlers who daily roam the streets not only of this city but also of other areas in the island-province of Masbate to deliver the precious commodity in waterless communities.

Water has become a luxury here that residents of the province envy the cattle owned by ranchers since they enjoy more the availability of the earth’s most precious liquid.

Edgar Ramos, 58, single, who lives with his 95-year-old mother Caridad, said water is the most expensive basic need in this province that is experiencing water shortage.

Ramos said they long for politicians who could address water scarcity that had been affecting their province since time immemorial.

“We are buying four containers of water every day at Php5 each or Php20 from water peddlers, or a total of Php600 monthly, for washing and bathing alone. For our drinking water, we are spending Php1,200 for filtered water from refilling stations,” he said.

The bachelor said availability of water in their faucets is one of the critical issues that they are raising to politicians -- to prioritize the need to provide clean drinking water to waterless communities here to prevent water-borne diseases.

Ramos said water deficiency in this province is even aggravated by the extreme climate condition, or the El Niño phenomenon, that is now prevailing all over the country.

The Masbate Mobo Water District, the local water supplier, cannot meet the water requirement of the communities here.

Thus, the proliferation of water peddlers.

Lani Alba -- 68, widow, homeless and mother of 22-year-old Mylene – has a down syndrome but has been peddling water for 18 years now to the waterless village of Bagumbayan, a community here with sanitation problem as defecation is done through the sea.

Alba took over the peddling of water after the demise of her husband, Wilfredo, 18 years ago as their source of living.

She is earning Php100 to Php200 a day from vending water, enough to feed their hungry stomachs and survive a daily existence.

Every day, she pushes a cart made of steel bars packed with water containers from national highway down to the slum areas of Bagumbayan, even with her frail body.

But before she can sell water, Alba commissions her younger brother, Arturo, to buy water from a private owner of deep well or pumping station at Php3 per container or Php300 for 100 water containers.

But water commodity taken from these private deep wells or pumping station facilities are not checked by health authorities if their water is fit for human consumption

Daily, Alba hits the street with her cart passing through a crisscrossing passageway heading to the slum areas of Barangay Bagumbayan.

Of course, she is not alone in the local water peddling trade as the scarcity of fresh water supply confronting Masbate since for a long time has created a permanent source of income for about a thousand of her peers pushing container-laden improvised carts.

Placer town Mayor Jay Lanete, vice gubernatorial candidate and running mate of her mother-governor, Rizalina, admitted that horses of the ranchers had the luxury of water supply than the people of Masbate in the past.

By the way, the mayor lost to Kay Revil in the race while his mother lost to come-backing governor Antonio Kho.

He said that upon her mother’s assumption as governor of Masbate, she was able to bring down poverty, provide water supply and address the sanitation problem.

“It used to be 90 percent of the people in Placer without access to clean and potable water. But with my mom on the helm, she provided water and bring down by 35 percent those families without access to potable supply of water,” he said.

Incumbent Gov. Homer Revil also said that upon his assumption into office as acting governor last year, after governor Lanete was put behind bars due to plunder case, he provided more water systems from the 20-percent development fund of the province to provide clean and potable water and address sanitation problem affecting their province.

“One of the indicators of poverty is lack of clean water and poor sanitation. As soon as water and sanitation problems are given special preference we will be out of poverty because the worst scenario of democracy is poverty,” Revil said.

Revil ran for the congressional post in the 2rd District under the Liberal Party but lost to reelectionist Olga Kho of PDP Laban.

The towns of Cataingan, Cawayan, Mandaon, Milagros, Placer and Uson are among the 115 local government units nationwide identified by the National Anti-poverty Commission (NAPC), based on the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction, to receive Php10-million worth of water system project each, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development regional office here.

The project is the flagship program of the Aquino administration anchored on Millennium Development Goal No. 7 to halve the population without access to safe and potable water and is included in the Philippine Water Sector Roadmap.

The project is targeting LGUs identified and ranked based on thematic concerns as poorest LGU, with high incidence of water lack and poverty incidence.

The Department of Health-Bicol is also implementing the Salintubig project worth Php68 million in Masbate province.

Under the project, water supply facilities will be constructed for the waterless towns of Placer, Cawayan, Mandaon, Cataingan, Uson, Milagros, Claveria, and San Jacinto.

Water and sanitation problem in Masbate is among the poverty indicators being considered by the National Statistical Coordination Board.

It has remained a challenging situation, according to health officials in Bicol.

Potable water shortage in Masbate City and neighboring towns compel hundreds of thousands residents to source water from artesian wells in the uplands or deep wells that are just near the sewerage system of Masbate City.

Though the province is surrounded by water unfortunately, the island-province has limited access to safe drinking water sources and sanitation facilities.

The island-province of Masbate is one of the poorest provinces in the country wherein 60 to 65 percent of the population is considered poor.

Noemi Bron, DOH-Bicol public information officer, said 91 percent of Bicolanos have access to safe drinking water but Masbate province has the lowest access to potable water on the average, regionwide.

Bron said the National Target for Access to Improve water supply is 87 percent for households with access to improved safe water supply for category level I, level II and level III. (PNA) RMA/FGS/RBB/CBD/EDS