Saturday, July 30, 2016

(2 p.m. update) “Carina” accelerates further, maintains strength

MANILA, July 30 (PNA) -- Tropical Depression Carina has accelerated further to 17 kilometer per hour (kph) towards north northwest direction, but has maintained its maximum sustained winds of up to 55 kph near the center, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Saturday afternoon.

Moderate to heavy rains within 300 kilometer (km) diameter of "Carina" may be expected.

Fisherfolks were alerted about the moderate to rough seas over the eastern seaboards of Luzon and Visayas.

Meanwhile, Cagayan, including Babuyan Group of Islands, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Northern Aurora, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, northern and eastern Samar have been put under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal (TCWS) No. 1.

Areas placed under TCWS No. 1, as well as the rest of the Visayas, Masbate, Camarines Norte and Quezon were also warned about the moderate to heavy rains which may trigger flash floods and landslides.

”Carina” still enhances southwest monsoon that may bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains over MIMAROPA or Region 4-B, PAGASA said.

The weather bureau said the center of “Carina” was last eyed at 260 km east northeast of Virac, Catanduanes. (PNA) JSV/MCCA

2,031 passengers stranded in Bicol due to TD 'Carina'

LEGAZPI CITY, July 30 (PNA) -- Some 2,031 passengers have been stranded in 12 ports across Bicol region as of 12nn Saturday due to tropical depression Carina.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Bicol suspended sailing of all types of sea vessels on Friday after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Administration (Pagasa) raised storm signal number 1 over Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, and Sorsogon.

According to Pagasa, TP 'Carina' sustained its strength as it moves north northwest at 15 kilometers per hour with maximum winds of 55 kph near the center. As of 10a.m., it was spotted at 175 kms east northeast of Catarman, Northern Samar

Ensign Lear Kenneth Ampalayo, assistant officer-in- charge (OIC) of PCG-Bicol, in a text message, said as of 12 nn, the number of passengers stranded in the 12 ports across the region were: Tabaco port-150, Legazpi-150, Pio Duran-331, Pilar-30, Bulan-18, Matnog-1,132, Bapor-101, San Pascual-15, Mandaon-12, Virac-8, San Andres-13 and Pasacao-53.

He said PCG-Bicol’s suspension order also put on hold at the ports 40 sea vessels and 224 rolling cargoes such as trucks, buses and light vehicles like cars.

Rafael Alejandro, head of the Office of Civil Defense Bicol (OCD), in an interview, said majority of the stranded passengers were bound for the Samar and Leyte provinces while the rest were bound for the island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate.

Alejandro, who is also chairperson of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), urged all local chief executives, especially those in Albay and Catanduanes, to make the necessary preparations because of the expected heavy rains.

He called on the Bicolanos to be “vigilant and to refrain from going out of their houses, especially since there are no classes during the weekend.”

Pagasa estimated the rainfall amount to be from moderate to heavy within the 300-km diameter of the tropical depression.

It also said areas under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal (TCWS) No. 1, the rest of the Visayas and the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate have been alerted against moderate to heavy rains which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.

Other areas under Signal No. 1 include Cagayan, Isabela, Northern Aurora, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Visayas, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Samar.

Pagasa also alerted fisherfolk against moderate to rough seas over the eastern seaboard of Luzon and Visayas.

Alejandro said OCD-Bicol reactivated its Operation Center and placed it under “Blue” alert status which means disaster agencies and assets are placed under standby 24/7.

He has issued a disaster bulletin to the six Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils to likewise be on “Blue” alert and closely monitor the weather situation and immediately coordinate with the RDRRMC once the weather condition worsens.

Pagasa said it expects “Carina” to be 215 kilometers east of Casiguran, Aurora within the next 24 hours or by Sunday morning.(PNA) JFM/GVR/MSA/JH/CBD

Albayanos: FOI order shows “serious commitment to transparency, fight vs corruption”
By Connie B. Destura and Mar Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- Albayanos welcomed the recent signing of an executive order (EO) on the Freedom of Information (FOI) as they said it showed that President Rodrigo Duterte is seriously committed to promote transparency and fight against corruption in government

The directive, which allows the public to ask any vital information about any transaction with various government agencies, including local government units, across the country has “institutionalized transparency and good governance,” said Edgar Alejo, a columnist of the 66-year-old Mayon Times, a pioneering local publication in Albay.

He said the FOI order is a recognition that “finally” allows media’s right to information on issues of public concern.

“To us in the media, we are given access to records and documents related to official acts, policies and decisions which were once hidden from us,” said Alejo, who has been a community journalist from the martial law years to the Post-EDSA 1986 years and now serving as an editorial consultant for several local publications in Bicol.

Marcial Tuanqui, a businessman and a director of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry commended the FOI order, saying it is a sign of the President’s “serious commitment for transparency and in its fight against corruption.”

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said the order is “a very good move to show the people of his (Mr. Duterte’s) commitment for transparency in his government.”

Jesus Calisin, a former vice governor of Albay and a broadcast anchorman, said the order “has long been overdue” as it is in accordance with the transparency provision of the Philippine Constitution.

The order, he said, “is not only a bastion of the people’s right to information but a weapon for accountability, transparency and good governance.”

Joy Tango, an employee of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the past 14 years, said the EO is in line with the “full disclosure program of the DILG for the local governments.

“We need to exercise transparency in the government so that the people’s trust and confidence in our leaders would be strengthened,” she said.

Tango said while the FOI order sets limitations it has provided “no excuse to cover up for something irregular that may happen.”

She said to make the FOI meaningful there should be a law that must be passed so that all branches of government could be covered by the “full disclosure” policy.

“After all transparency must be practiced by everyone in government,” Tango emphasized.

Christine Villanueva, a teacher and mother who used to stay in Davao City but has now made Albay her home, said “change is really here.”

“Every step of the way we can see that the government is now reaching out to the people,” she said.

Ken Tabuena, a resident of Legazpi City, said he hopes the FOI order will become a law, so the legislative and judiciary branches of the government will be included.(PNA) PGL/GVR/CBD/MSA/

Legazpi City seen to rise as Bicol’s investment hub
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -— This premiere city in Bicol will soon rise as one of the country’s future investment hubs after getting the third spot in the overall ranking set by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) Philippines to measure the performance of more than 1,300 local government units (LGU) across the country in providing an attractive climate for business.

City Mayor Noel Rosal said Legazpi City got a total of four awards, including the third place over-all ranking, during the 4th Regional Competitiveness Summit and Awards ceremony held on July 14 in Manila.

He said in an interview that he was “elated when the city was recognized as the third most competitive LGU in the country.”

This raised his hopes, he said, that Legazpi City would become the “next investment hub outside Metro Manila, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao.”

Rosal said the city’s rating has jumped seven notches higher, “to number three this year from its number 10 rating in last year’s evaluation.”

The summit highlighted results of the 2016 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI), which measured the LGU’s ranking based on three criteria—economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure.

An annual ranking developed with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a telecommunications giant, CMCI measured the LGUs classified into four categories: 3rd to 6th class municipalities, 1st to 2nd class municipalities; component cities; and highly urbanized cities or HUCs.

In its category as a component city, Legazpi received three awards –all in the third spot—in all the three criteria cited. The fourth award is the third place for “over-all competitiveness.”

“Placing third among hundreds of component cities in the country is a great honor to us as we strived hard to gain the recognition,” he said. The Philippine Statistical Authority said a component city is that which is located within the boundaries of two or more provinces. It said such a city shall be deemed a component of the province of which it used to be a municipality.

According to NCC, there were 1,389 LGUs, 144 of them cities and 1,245 municipalities, which joined this year’s CMCI, the largest number since the index started in 2013.

NCC said the number of participants in this year’s ranking was 85 percent of the total LGUs in the country. In 2013, only 17 percent of the LGUs joined the CMCI index. Both the academe and public and private sectors helped gather the data for the rankings.

Once only known as a disaster prone area in the Bicol Peninsula frequented by typhoons, storm surge, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Legazpi City has been transformed into a thriving investment center in Bicol and the entire Southern Luzon area.

Rosal said the NCC recognition would boost the city government in its drive to carry out investment-friendly projects that would further help improve its economic standing.

He said the CMCI index rating would give confidence to the business sector in putting investments in the city while financial institutions would be encouraged to offer grants to sustain the economic development projects being pushed in the city.

Rosal said he believes in the city becoming an “investment center” since Legazpi City is by law the regional center site in Bicol where all national agencies with regional offices are situated.

He said the city is also a center of trade in Bicol because Legazpi is strategically located with “four million people from the (Bicol) provinces of Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate, as well as the (Visayan) provinces of Samar and Leyte, doing their shopping here.”

Rosal said several investors who set up businesses here have noted Legazpi as the “best haven for investment” and “one of the better places to live in.”

Recently, AyalaLand in partnership with the LCC Group of Companies opened Ayala Malls Legazpi, a four-story complex worth P1.6-billion that is seated on a 1.4-hectare lot in the city’s commercial district.

A PHP2-billion condominium hotel to be called Horizon Plaza Legazpi will break ground within the next two months, an official of the property development firm owned by the Gaisano family-led Viscal Development Corp. announced last week. The three-tower high-rise will each have ten stories.

Rosal added that through the Department of Public Works and Highways, a P1-billion flood control project was implemented in the city with the construction of three pumping stations, making it an “all weather city” with no worries for floods and storm surges during stormy weather.

He said Legazpi is the only local government unit in Bicol that has built and maintained a P2.-1 billion state of the art sanitary landfill in partnership with the Spanish Agency for International Development Corp. (AECID) in Barangay Banquerohan.

The mayor said owing to its majestic Mayon volcano, a wonder that rises 2,460-meter above sea level and known for its nearly perfect shaped cone, Legazpi City, the capital of Albay province, would remain a top tourism destination in the country.

City tourism data show Legazpi has an annual average of 35 different kinds of conventions, seminars and conferences with an increase of 45 percent in tourist arrivals or a total of 967,396 visitors recorded in 2015 compared to the 666,210 tourists posted in 2014.

Legazpi has been tagged as the second most liveable city by USAID and as a “City of Fun and Adventure” by the Department of Tourism.(PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD

Friday, July 29, 2016

Albay local executive vows to increase health budget in Polangui town
By Mike de la Rama

POLANGUI, Albay, July 29 (PNA) -– Vice Mayor Herbert Borja of this town vowed to increase the budget for health to fully fulfill the implementation of all programs and services.

During the multi-sectoral forum organized by the Philippine NGO (non-government organization) Council and Welfare (PNGOCW) here, Borja told participants that the current budget for health is only P11.1 million with the P7.6 million devoted to personnel services, P1.6 million for maintenance and other operating expenses and the remaining P1.9 million for all health programs.

He said the budget is too small compared to what is being recommended by the Department of Health (DOH) to the local government unit (LGU). DOH had said the health budget of the LGU should be 15 percent of the total LGU budget per year.

“We need to prioritize health if we want to provide better health services to the people. At least we should have a realistic budget to be able to serve the 89,0001 people of Polangui,” said Borja.

He pointed out that the multisectoral forum, which is being conducted by the PNGOCW, is very timely because the Polangui Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) will be properly guided in having proper budgetary requirements for health services, especially in the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law.

PNGOC gets support from the foundation established by internationally renowned philanthropist-couple Bill and Melinda Gates. The latter deems PNGOC as her special project in Asia.

“Even President Rodrigo Duterte in his first State of the Nation Address made mention of the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood (law) otherwise known as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act,” said Borja.

In this case, he said the LGU must do something to provide the necessary health services so it could properly serve its constituents, especially those in isolated areas.

Borja added the Sangguniang Bayan is working along with the local chief executive to find other means to source out funds.

He however said local policies will be enacted soon so that funds could be given for the creation of the Polangui Reproductive Health Council and the local AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) Council.

The local official also hailed the consortium implementing the project which would ensure the advocacy on reproductive health would be sustained in both national and local levels. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MDR/CBD

Bicolanos praise passport validity extension plan under Duterte administration
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PNA) -- “On the clamor of our citizens for timely issuance of Philippine passports, the government shall work towards amendment of the 1996 Passport Law to lengthen the validity of the passports from the current 5 years to 10 years.”

This was the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte as part of his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday.

In Bicol, first-time passport applicant Sharahden Destura, 27, an employee of the Legazpi City government, who intends to go to Guam, said she felt “happy and excited” to have heard from President Duterte that the validity of the passport will be extended from five years to ten years.

On Wednesday morning, two days since the SONA of President Duterte, Destura went to the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs located at the fourth floor of the Metro Gaisano Mall, which is in the Central Business District of this city.

“After a two-hour transaction, I was given a receipt with an appointment date, that said I need to come back on August 5, 2016 to get my new passport,” she said in a text message.

Melanie Ibardaloza, 29, a nurse, currently working as a “quality improvement and patient safety officer” at the Sharourah General Hospital in Najran, Saudi Arabia, has just renewed her passport last June when she came for a vacation to her native province of Catanduanes.

She has been working for the last five years in Saudi Arabia. Ibardaloza has since returned to work after her vacation in Catanduanes last June.

On the President’s plan to extend the validity of passports up to 10 years, Ibardaloza, in a text message, said she is “confident I could travel and work abroad for it (passport) will not expire even if I am out of the country.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD

Naga City gets 'most competitive component city' award
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, July 28 (PNA) -- Naga City's performance as the best component city in the country in a competition launched by a public-partnership council has boosted its reputation in providing a good climate for business, Mayor John Bongat said.

Bongat received the award on July 14 from the National Competitive Council (NCC) for performing best among the 110 less urbanized cities in the country in the areas of economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure has reinforced its “reputation in attracting investments.”

He said “the opportunity for Naga’s growth becomes greater in the present Duterte administration because of its thrust of decentralizing investments."

He said Naga City is defining its role in Bicol as the center of commerce and investments with a gross annual income reaching PHP1 billion, that comprised about 42 percent of the total investments in Bicol.

Bongat said the July 14 award was the second in a row given to Naga City since it was named in 2015 as the best in its category among local government units nationwide.

Bongat said NCC has been recognizing the best performing cities since 2013 when Naga City was categorized among the 110 less urbanized cities or those which have a population of less than 250,000.

He said the other category in the recognition scheme of NCC are the 34 cities classified as highly urbanized which have a population of more than 250,000 like most cities in Metro Manila.

In its website, NCC said its mandate is the implementation of the “action agenda with private sector initiatives that support public policies as its mission.”

Bongat said he was glad that two Bicol cities were able to receive recognition in the July 14 NCC awards among the less urbanized. Aside from Naga City which was named number 1, Legazpi City was awarded the third spot.

The second place went to San Fernando City in Pampanga.

He said in 2013, when NCC first measured the index performance of all cities in the country, both the highly urbanized and less urbanized were grouped together, in which case Naga City earned the 9th rank from among the total number of cities competing.

Bongat said the following year, when the performance index used the same categorization, Naga City was third place among all the cities that joined.

In 2015 up to the present, he added, that NCC gave separate categories for the 34 highly urbanized cities (HUC), such as Quezon City and Manila, and the 110 less urbanized, that were now deemed in the “component city” category. In both instances, Naga City topped the race as the most competitive component city.

NCC said those cited on July 14 were chosen from a field of 1,389 local government units who joined the 2016 performance index. In its website, NCC said of this number, 144 were cities while 1,245 were municipalities.

The number of participants in 2016, added NCC, represented the “largest number” of those who joined since the rankings were first done in 2013.

It said the 2016 rankings made up 85 percent of the total local government units in the country. In 2013, only 17 percent of the LGUs nationwide joined.

Immediately after this city received the citation, Bongat said a big property firm showed its interest in investing in Naga City --an “8,448-hectare compact city with a population of 190,000.”

He said Naga City is now hosting four big business process outsourcing firms like IBM, Concentrix, Stellar and Sutherland while 54 commercial banks have established branches here.(PNA) JMC/GVR/JME/CBD

Legazpi lying-in clinics show zero maternal death
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PNA) -- City Mayor Noel E. Rosal on Tuesday commended the City Health Office (CHO) for its “very successful” implementation of the city’s maternal health care services that have resulted in zero maternal death since the three lying-in clinics in Legazpi City started becoming operational in 2009.

Rosal specifically asked City Health Officer Fulbert Alec Gillego to pursue its educational campaign on the city’s maternal health care services, that also include nutrition counseling, to all the mothers of this city.

The mayor said the campaign is one way of giving the mothers additional knowledge to ensure they would have a safe pregnancy so maternal death cases and premature delivery of babies could be avoided.

Data gathered showed CHO has sustained the operation of the three maternity lying-in clinics in the city located in three villages (barangay): one each in Barangay Buyuan at the northern section of this city, Barangay Banquerohan at the southern part, and in the main building of the CHO.

The birthing homes, which are operating 24/7, are being manned by medical professionals and health workers such as doctors, nurses and midwives.

A total of 206 babies have been delivered from January to June, all of whom have been screened under the city’s newborn screening program, said data from the CHO.

CHO records showed the same babies, which were immunized under the expanded program on immunization, were able to receive proper pre-natal examination and newborn care from the medical health providers.

Gillego said two other lying-in clinics were constructed in Barangays Taysan and Dap-dap, both in the southern portion of the city. Building of the two facilities was made possible through an agreement between the office of the Department of Health-Bicol and the city government.

He said the clinics will be additional venues for maternal health care services as these would be serving women in the lower portion of the southern villages and those coming from coastal barangays. “We are just awaiting installation of tiles and windows while the perimeter fence of the two birthing homes will be painted before it could be opened to the public,” Gillego pointed out.

He said his office achieved zero maternal death because they followed the rules of the Department of Health in conducting a yearly “Buntis Congress” that educates women on prenatal care to avoid complications in pregnancy, proper breastfeeding and care for the newborn.

“During the prenatal consultations of the pregnant women the CHO gives them micronutrients, folic acid, iron, vitamins and calcium to ensure the babies would have strong bones,” he added.

Gillego pointed out that CHO conducts a yearly “Sagip Kalusugan” (save the health) program that provides a package of health services to pre-school children from 70 villages in the city.

The services include giving free medical consultations, laboratory exams and chest x-ray exams. As a way of reducing malnutrition cases in the communities, CHO conducts feeding activities and deworming and gives vitamin supplements.

CHO also holds a yearly congress that promotes proper breastfeeding practices among mothers and ensure their babies get the proper nutrients and saved from malnutrition and infectious diseases.

“The breastfeeding system is very important because the milk of the mother has antibodies that will coat the intestine of their babies to help them fight infectious diseases. Breast cancer on the part of the mother could also be prevented,” said Gillego.(PNA) BNB/GVR/EPS/CBD

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bicolanos relish President Duterte's quotable quotes, say he spoke to the people's hearts
By Connie B. Destura, Jorge Hallare and Emmanuel Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, July 27 (PNA) -- The Bicolano audience comprising the local chief executives, soldiers, students, professionals and the simple folk, who listened in earnest to President Rodrigo Duterte as he delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday afternoon, reacted with avid hopes as they remembered the President’s “quotable lines” and gave him the “thumbs up,” after he uttered his last lines, exhorting the Filipino people “to help each other. For then and only then can we truly prevail.”

“The no-nonsense but wisecracking new President was able to give his best shot, speaking in concrete terms, sans the heady statistics, on how he could uplift the lives of the majority of the people in his speech,” observed Professor Anacito Dematera, chair of the Print and Broadcast Department of the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) of the Bicol University, the premier state university in the region which hosts a student population of around 25,000.

He noted how a student had asked for permission to open the television monitor, one of around a dozen scattered in his college schoolbuilding, as early as noontime just so he could view the address that was to start at 4 p.m.

Dematera said a fellow faculty member, whose husband is an Overseas Filipino Worker, was generous with praise when she heard the President vowing to provide a one-stop shop for the processing of documents needed by those currently applying in queues for their passports.

He said there were around 150 students, faculty and non-teaching staff who listened attentively broke into amused laughter as the unabashed “probinsyano” (from the province) President veered away from the script in the teleprompter and engaged in his trademark impromptu remarks.

Dematera said whether he is a congressman seated at the Batasan or the local chief executive watching TV at the municipal hall, if not simply a commuter taking the van, that plies the routes across the region, or a top military official listening at the Army division headquarters, they understood the message of the new President who hails from Davao City.

He said the President was able to speak to the hearts of the people, from wherever part of the country they came from.

At the Batasan, Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of the lone district of Catanduanes, in an interview, said he relished the special moment he had when he told Mr. Duterte he is “a fellow Bedan and a brother of peace panel member Rene Sarmiento.”

He remembered the President remarking: “Ganun pala, kaya pala kamukha ka niya. (that is why you seem to resemble each other)”

Rep. Jose Salceda of Albay’s second district, in another interview, said he managed to greet the President as the latter sped past him on his way out of the Batasan hall after the speech.

“I told him ‘God Bless You,’” said Salceda.

“He was at first not looking when he grasped my hands but then he lingered and grabbed my hands some more, smiling as I told him: ‘At your service, Sir,’” added the Albay solon.

Ako Bikol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin (also interviewed) said the speech was lengthy but “inclusive enough” to address the present circumstances of the Filipino people.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, in a text message, said he was glad about the plans to augment the runways at the Manila airports and the President’s mention of pursuing the “South Luzon Railways project.”

Salceda said the “south line” is the “most ready to go, finally it was mentioned.”

Bicol military

Major Virgilio Perez, spokesperson of the 9th Infantry

Division (ID) of the Philippine Army, based in Camp Gen. Elias Angeles in Pili, Camarines Sur, said he was glad about the mention of “strengthening of the Reserved Officers Training Course program to instill love of country and good citizenship.”

“Kasi yan na ang nawawala ngayon sa kabataan, (that is what is already lost in the Filipino youth)...that of instilling nationalism among the youth and college students,” he said in a text message.

Perez said the Philippine Army will give their full support to the President's desire to give an end to the decades-long insurgency problem and in helping put a stop to the drug menace in the country.

"On the unilateral ceasefire, we support the effort of the government for the resumption of the peace talks with the New People’s Army and even the problem with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front,” he said.

Perez said the 9th ID is for resolving the armed conflicts and for “promoting peace for the safety and well-being of the people and the attainment of a quality and progressive life for the Filipino people."

Catandunganons

Alvin Ravalo, a doctor from Albay who is practising in Catanduanes, an island town across mainland Bicol that is frequently at the eye of ferocious storms, said he loved hearing from Mr. Duterte “that he will not dwell on the sins” of his predecessors.

“I bow down before you Digong,” he added in a text message.

Ravalo said it is no longer election campaign period and the President has already proven himself by winning over his rivals.

“He is now our President..and I hope he will be so for the next six years,” he said.

Ravalo said at the end of the day, the real gauge of a presidency is how it could “better our lives after his six-year (term), not after an hour and a half of watching TV.”

Rhondon Ricafort, a law student from Daraga, Albay who posts his advocacy for the youth in his Facebook account, said that since the three major posts of the land are now in the hands of the Mindanaons, referring to Mr. Duterte, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Ricafort said he is “hoping for peace and progress not just for Mindanao but for the entire Philippines.”

Leonardo Balsarza III, marketing officer of the 66-year-old “Mayon Times” in Legazpi City, a pioneering tabloid-size publication being circulated in Albay province, however, believes that the President “should have mentioned that the franchises given to transport operators be reviewed” as one of the measures needed to ease traffic congestion in the metropolis.

Marlon Arteta, a service technician of an auto service shop in this city, recalled how on a trip from Daet, capital town of Camarines Norte, while at a terminal for a UV express van that was waiting for the 16-seat vehicle to be filled up, he noticed the van’s radio tuned in to the SONA.

“Most everyone was attentively listening, but they broke into wide grins and laughter when the President spoke in his native Visayan dialect,” he said.

Arteta said it seemed the language gap notwithstanding the commuters were more focused on the “apparent sincerity” of the President as he spoke.

He added another van driver even sidled close to the door of the vehicle, explaining “makikinig (ako) sa sinasabi ni Presidente (I will listen to what the President is saying.)

The time was 5 p.m. and the van was waiting for four more commuters before it could make its way for the one-hour drive to Naga City, from where Arteta would take another passenger van that would take him to an estimated two-hour drive back to Legazpi City where the auto shop is located.

Alexis Bruce, a nurse from Barangay Marinawa, Bato town in Catanduanes, in a text message, said what she remembered most about the SONA was that part of the speech in which she quoted the President saying, “we cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back". (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD/EPS/JH/

Salceda: Paris pact not good for developing countries
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, July 27, (PNA)--Albay Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd district) expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s position “not to honor” the Paris agreement on climate change which was adopted by nearly 200 countries in December 2015 to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

This was the first public statement issued by Salceda against the Paris deal that came after the President’s position was made a few days prior to the latter’s first State of the Nation Address on July 25.

Salceda said the Paris deal was a bad agreement as it had shifted the burden of trimming emissions to developing countries like the Philippines.

The Bicol solon was formerly co-chairman of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). GCF, according to its website, is intended to be the main fund for global climate change under the guidance of the Conference of the (COP) to the convention.

According to Salceda, most of the Western-dominated world media had hailed the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the 21st session of the COP of the UNFCCC last December (COP21) but the few voices of dissent, most of them from developing countries such as the Philippines, were left “unheard and unheeded.”

He said responsible voices from both the developed and developing world were able to point out that the Paris deal, which was meant to replace the only legal instruments on climate change--the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol--”is still far from providing a viable solution to the increasingly urgent problem of climate change and its adverse effects.”

According to Reuters, in a news release on July 22, the new climate agreement hammered out in December aims to transform the world’s fossil-fuel driven economy within decades and slow the pace of temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. It said as of last month (June) 19 countries have ratified it but it will come into force only once 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of the world’s total emissions, have ratified the deal.

Salceda said the December accord was essentially a compilation of pledges from all parties to the convention to limit emissions while at the same time serves as a review of all of these pledges.

He said “the purpose of the agreement is to hold the increase of global average temperatures to ‘well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels’ and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels.”

Salceda said developing countries had held on to the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius since the negotiations prior to the Paris deal process, even as the “prospect of holding on to this limit dim with each COP, and further dims as it is pushed over on 2020, when the agreement will presumably come into force.”

Reuters said the new deal was originally scheduled to take effect in 2020 but Christiana Figueres, who stepped down this month (July) as the UN’s lead climate executive, has said she believes the agreement could come into effect early, or “by 2018.”

Salceda said studies have shown that the current pledges of developing countries go far beyond their “fair share” of responsibilities for addressing climate change.

He said the overall effect of the Paris agreement was a weakening of commitments of developed countries under the convention, which could also mean a shifting of these commitments to include developing country-parties but “without any certainty of predictable and accessible financial resources to developing countries.”

Salceda said all of these “intended national contributions” were then subject to review, previously limited only to developed countries under the convention.

He said the agreement was particularly weakened in terms of the legal obligations of developed countries, especially those with the highest responsibility in terms of historical emissions and provision of financial resources--including for the transfer of technology--to developing countries.

Salceda said the provision of financial resources had been extended, albeit as a voluntary action, to “other Parties,” and such actions, also voluntarily to be reported accordingly.

He underscored that the Paris deal mentioned that developed country-parties “should” continue to take the lead in “mobilizing” finance, “as part of a global effort,” and “from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels.”

Salceda noted that these items in the accord were “far removed from the legal commitments” under the convention.

Reuters, in the same news release, quoted Lucille Sering, former vice chairman of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, that the country’s agreed contribution to the global climate deal is a 70 percent cut in emissions by 2030--but “conditional on sufficient international resources, technology and training being made available to make that happen.”(PNA) RMA/GVR/RBB/CBD

Applause greets “ad-lib remarks” in SONA speech
By Jorge Hallare and Emmanuel Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, JULY 25 (PNA)—-President Duterte’s impromptu remarks that veered away from the prepared text of the State of the Nation Address was greeted with applause by around 150 students, teachers, non-teaching staff who stayed glued to some 10 television screens in offices, classrooms and lobby of the building of the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) at Bicol University (BU).

Professor Anacito Dematera, chairman of the Print and Broadcast Department of BU CAL, observed this demeanor of President in his SONA showed he was “genuinely concerned” in ensuring the plight of the poor would be uplifted by the reforms he intend to make in the bureaucratic processes.

Dematera cited the TV audience in BUCAL, applauding most parts of the SONA, especially those that touched on providing a more equitable personal and corporate income tax and the one-stop shop in the processing of documents of Overseas Filipino workers.

Meanwhile, Major Virgilio Perez, spokesperson of the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, based in Camp Gen. Elias Angeles in Pili, Camarines Sur, said the Philippine Army would give their full support to the President's desire to give an end to the decades-long insurgency problem and in helping stop the drug menace in the country.

"On the unilateral ceasefire, we support the effort of the government for the resumption of the peace talks with the New People’s Army and even the problem on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front,” he said.

Perez said the 9th ID “promotes peace for the safety and well being of the people and the attainment of a quality and progressive life for the Filipino people." resolving all armed conflicts." Perez added.

He added the Army is one in strengthening of the reserved Officers Training Course program to instill nationalism among the youth and college students.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said he found of particular interest President Duterte’s mention in his SONA the rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Southbound and the establishment of additional runways in Manila. (PNA) RMA/GvR/JH/EPS/cbd

Salceda votes for Alvarez as House Speaker
By Connie B. Destura

MANILA, July 25 (PNA) --- As the 17th Congress opened and the election for Speaker of the House of Representatives was held Monday morning, 2nd District of Albay Congressman Joey Sarte Salceda voted for Napoleon "Bebot" Alvarez as leader of the Lower House.

Salceda said he voted for Alvarez, because the country needs a Speaker from the countryside, someone who is close to the President.

On a personal note, he added, he and Alvarez were colleagues in the 11th Congress.

Alvarez won the Speakership through the vote of 251 lawmakers.

The Speaker is the head of the House of Representatives. He presides over the sessions; decides on all questions of order subject to appeal by any member; signs all acts, resolutions, memorials, writs, warrants and subpoenas issued by or upon order of the House; appoints, suspends, dismisses or disciplines House personnel; and exercises administrative functions.

The Speaker is traditionally elected by members of the Lower House at the convening of each Congress. (PNA) LAP/CBD

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Police officers: Ex-President Arroyo 'vindicated'
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 20 (PNA) -- A police official at the Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) based in Camp Simeon Ola in this city, said former President and Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) was “vindicated” by the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit her of the plunder charges against her over the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds.

“The Supreme Court has decided based on the merit of the case," said Police Chief Insp. Gilbert Remo, acting public informattion officer of PRO5.

Remo said the case did not prosper “maybe because there is no sufficient evidence against her and maybe the former president was firm (in her belief) that she will be acquitted.”

He said the former president even denied the presidential pardon offered her by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“It is her right to ‘enjoy’ the verdict because she has suffered during her almost four years of hospital arrest that denied her rights, especially the medical attention she needed,” said Remo.

But he said the rumors on the alleged “political decision,” referring to the 11-4 ruling of the Supreme Court, could not be dismissed soon.

He said the 11 justices who favored GMA were her appointees during her term while the four who voted against her were appointed justices during the term of former President Benigno Aquino Jr.

PRO5 Spokesperson Senior Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib said the ruling would mean Macapagal-Arroyo is “now free” and can now fully attend to her sickness and duties as representative of her district in Pampanga.

The 69-year-old former president, held for nearly four years at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City, is suffering from ailments resulting from a spinal problem.

Calubaquib is also hopeful Mrs. Arroyo will have more have time to push for the approval of her proposed bill to increase the salary of members of the Philippine National Police. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

PRO5: Police-community relations backbone of effective law enforcement
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 20 (PNA) -— The Police-Community Relations (PCR) program has been serving as the “backbone of the PNP for effective law enforcement" since Republic Act 6975 established the Philippine National Police more than two decades ago.

Senior Inspector Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 5, issued this statement to explain the significance of the 21st year anniversary of “Police Community Relations (PCR)” Month this July.

She stressed effective PCR could not be achieved without the local government unit (LGU), a major supporter of the PNP in creating many programs for the community.

Calubaquib said the police and LGU are partners in many programs, especially in the creation of a drug abuse council in the provincial level (Provincial Anti Drug Abuse Council or PADAC) and its counterpart in the municipal (MADAC), city (CADAC) and barangay levels (BADAC).

She said there is a mistaken notion for some that PCR Month merely means fun and a colorful parade of the participating agencies that will come to pass after the month of July.

“But for many police officers they consider everyday as PCR Day (as PCR would help) them effectively enforce the law to have real peace and order in the community,” she said.

Calubaquib said PRO5 under the leadership of its regional director, Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, is thankful for the support of many LGUs and other partners to better attain peace and order in every locality.

She said the four roles of the police force —investigation, intelligence gathering, operations to solve crimes, and implementation of peace and order, could not be achieved without establishing “good rapport” with the community.

Calubaquib said the PNP needs the support of stakeholders from LGUs, and national government agencies, nongovernment agencies, media and community so it could establish the PNP’s program in the area.

She cited a “neglected” aspect of the strong partnership between the police and the community, which is the creation of the Local Anti-Criminality Action Plan (LACAP), a directive of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to LGUs.

“The governors and mayors in cooperation with the PNP (are authorized) to order the creation of peace and order programs in their localities” and are “responsible for approving these programs.”

She said LACAP is “badly needed” for the smooth implementation of the PNP’s anti-criminality program.

“It is considered the ‘bible’ or guide on the creation of an interagency task force for law enforcement in the province, city and municipality, especially in fighting illegal activities, such as those involving drugs, logging, gambling and fishing,” said Calubaquib.

She expressed “disappointment”, however, that some of the local chief executives have yet to formulate their LACAP while those who have it have yet to implement them.

"It is supposedly the primary concern of all the local chief executives. They are mandated to do it,” she added.

Calubaquib said the mayors should create LACAP and propose a corresponding budget that will be taken from their Internal Revenue Allotment. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Supporters from Legazpi hail SC decision as Arroyo's 'vindication'
By Samuel M. Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 20 (PNA) -- Although she has been placed under hospital arrest for nearly four years, many supporters in Bicol of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo believe her acquittal is not just another case of “justice delayed is justice denied.”

Macapagal-Arroyo’s supporters believe the favorable decision is but a vindication for all the insults that demeaned her status as head of state after she stepped down as president of the country.

"We feel mad and very sad when former President Arroyo was arrested and later on placed under hospital arrest,” said Rosita Vibal, a vendor of native food and mother of 13 here, said in the dialect.

“We are very poor. It was only during her term that the price per kilo of NFA (National Food Authority) rice was lowest at P18. For this alone, we cannot forget her,” she said.

The former president, whose son Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo was educated at Ateneo de Naga University, was known for her closeness to the Bicolanos. During her term, she made frequent visits to the Bicol provinces more than the other provinces outside Metro Manila.

Dato who regards himself a Bicolano, was the representative of the second congressional district of Camarines Sur from 2007 to 2016.

Several recipients of the government’s poverty alleviation program Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) that was started during the term of Mrs. Arroyo expressed jubilation over her acquittal.

“We welcome her acquittal. We know she was the one who started the 4Ps that is until now helping us a lot,” Gerald Roxas, 32 and a laborer, whose family is a 4Ps recipient, said in the dialect.

According to a state university professor here, the former president’s acquittal is not merely another case of “justice delayed is justice denied,” but more so a vindication for all that had happened to her after she stepped down from power.

“Can we still remember when she was permitted by the Supreme Court to leave for medical treatment abroad but was stopped while about to board her plane on orders of then Justice Secretary, now Senator Leila De Lima?” said Prof. Anacito Dematera.

He believes that Mrs. Arroyo is less mindful of her nearly four-year hospital arrest but more elated by her acquittal in the plunder case.

“But of course, GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) has yet to face her remaining cases,” Dematera said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/SMT/CBD

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Salceda introduces NDRRMA as 'world's best approach to disasters
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, July 20 (PNA) -- Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda has introduced in Congress what he describes as ‘the world’s best approach to disaster risk reduction’ (DRR).

Salceda proposes an independent Authority dedicated to pre-disaster risk reduction and post-disaster reconstruction.

Picking up from where he left as a multi-awarded local government executive who pioneered effective emergency response programs, Salceda has filed House Bill 1648 which will radicalize the country’s disaster risk reduction and management system. HB 1648 seeks to amend R.A. 10121, the country’s disaster risk reduction and management law, and further strengthen calamity response by “institutionalizing the framework and plan, and establishing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA).”

Salceda’s nine years as governor of Albay saw the transformation of his prostrate province that was constantly battered by strong typhoons and mired in poverty to become a vibrant local economy it is now today. Albay has been the first province to win the Gawad KALASAG Hall of Fame honor, following its three successive awards as best in Disaster Risk Reduction.

Salceda said the measure he seeks to establish, offers what could be the best approach to DRR, and may be considered radical in many ways. NDRRMA will be an independent Authority; it promotes risk reduction initiatives’ and stresses the primacy of rehabilitation effort. The agency has a proposed initial budget of P10 billion. It shall be attached to the Office of the President, considering its emergency role in times of disasters.

Although a landmark legislation, Salceda said the structural strength of RA 10121 has continuously been stress-tested by calamitous disasters, tge latest of which was supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013 – which took almost 10,000 lives and destroyed billions of pesos of livelihoods and economic assets in one swoop. He noted that Yolanda’s devastation exposed the weaknesses of the institutional set up under RA 10121, where extreme difficulties were encountered in carrying out the heavy responsibilities of concretely integrating the disaster risk management in national and local planning processes… that should mitigate the impacts of disasters.

“RA 10121’s shortcoming is its failure to create an institution that is sufficiently in a high position to oversee the implementation of streamlined disaster risk reduction and management policies nationwide, an institution that has the necessary authority, mandate and resources to lead and coordinate the efforts of different stakeholders towards a more resilient nation,” he explained.

Salceda was former governor of Albay for three terms before he won the May elections as Congressman representing the province’s 2nd district. He was co-chair of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Green Climate Fund from 2013 to 2014. He was declared by the UN as its Senior Global Champion for DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA), while Albay was designated as its Global Model.

As governor, he popularized the much acclaimed disaster risk reduction principles of “Preemptive Evacuation” and “Zero Casualty,” which have become household bywords. Aside from his novel CCA and DRR approaches, he also spearheaded the Green Economy program, which transformed calamity proned Albay to a booming LGU economy and is now a global tourism destination, with poverty incidence that slid down from 32 percent in 2006 to 24 percent in 2015, the lowest in Bicol.

When created, the NDRRMA shall be the primary government agency accountable and responsible for coordinating, overseeing and implementing a comprehensive disaster risk reduction and management program. Salceda said it shall provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation, recovery and rehabilitation.

HB 1648 also proposes the transfer of the personnel of the Office of Civil Defense, which is presently under the Department of National Defense, to the new disaster management agency that shall also strengthen the implementation of DRRM programs in collaboration with relevant national government agencies, LGUs, civil society and people’s organizations, and other stakeholders, he added. (PNA) BNB/JCN/EDS

Monday, July 18, 2016

Horizon Plaza Legazpi: New high-rise building to dot city skyline
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 (PNA) -- A top developer here announced the groundbreaking within the next two months of a PHP2-billion high-rise building, the newest attraction to dot the skyline of this city, gateway to the Bicol region recognized as one of the fastest-growing and most competitive cities in the Philippines.

“The company will break the ground in the area on August or September,”

Rouen Paz, vice president of Taft Property Venture and Development Corp. announced last week.

Taft Property is one of the business ventures of the Gaisano family-owned Viscal Development Corp. (VDC) which is prominent for its nationwide retail chain of Metro department stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets .

“We are now in the process of fine-tuning all the necessary documents and permits to prepare for construction of the ‘condotel’ (condominium-hotel) within the podium parking area and retail spaces of Pacific Mall,” said Paz.

The three-tower high-rise called Horizon Plaza Legazpi will be located in the 3,000-square-meter parking area along the Landco Business Park. It is at the heart of the city’s business center at the corner of the circumferential road in Barangay Bitano.

He said each building in the three-tower high-rise will be a “studio-type condominium” with ten stories.

Paz said the project will initially construct 200 units but after full-scale completion of the three towers, the design is for a total of 600 to 900 rooms while the car park building for the venture will provide space for 200 cars.

He said Taft Property has decided to establish the big project in Legazpi City because different business organizations recognize it an investment haven and a world class business site in the Bicol region.

Paz said the city is the home of regional government offices as well as the center of transportation and education in the entire Bicol region, attributed to the presence here of the Bicol University (BU).

Established 47 years ago, BU is the premier state university in the Bicol region with a population of 26,352 scholars as of 2015-16 . It is known as home of topnotchers in the fields of accountancy, engineering, midwifery, nursing and social work.

Paz cited the influx of new investments in the city and how it hasincreasingly become a favorite of tourists. Tourist arrivals increased by 45 percent in 2015 compared to 2014 with a total of 976,396 visitors recorded in 2015 compared to 666,210 the previous year.

City tourism data show that Legazpi, which is touted by the local government as a “city of fun and adventure,” has an annual average of 35 different types of gatherings such as conventions, seminars and conferences.

City Mayor Noel E. Rosal said Horizon Plaza Legazpi would be “another land mark development “in this city that could offer comfortable rooms and secure place for clients seeking to acquire a condominium unit.

He said the project is very timely because the soaring high cost of retail estate in major urban areas is providing prospective clients the choice of buying a condotel unit rather than a residential lot in satellite cities like Legazpi City.

Rosal said several big investors, who have come to Legazpi City, are the clearest manifestation that the city is the “best haven for investment and one of the better places to live in.(PNA) BNB/GVR/EPS/CBD

Salceda on Charter Change: Structural change will lead to political, economic stability, help solve poverty
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 (PNA) -- Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda has voiced his support to the proposed Charter Change, saying the country needs the “structural change” for political stability to attract more investments, which will lead to more jobs and help solve poverty problems.

Salceda, who was guest at a recent media roundtable in Manila, said he intends to co-author the bill on Charter Change filed by Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, immediately.

Charter change towards Federalism is among the leading agenda items of the Duterte administration, next to the fight against drugs, criminality and corruption.

A noted economist and economic adviser to former Philippine presidents, Salceda was governor of Albay for three terms, and won the 2nd Congressional seat of the province in the elections last May. He is credited for bringing down his province’s poverty incidence from 32 percent in 2006 to 24 percent in 2015, the lowest in Bicol.“Charter change will lead to political stability which leads to more investments which will in turn lead to more jobs, that will help the poor,” Salceda said.

He said he agrees with the popular opinion that the country needs to reexamine the 1987 Constitution and make it more relevant and responsive to present-day realities.

A Federal government setup, through a revision of the Constitution, he added, “will promote political security in troubled areas of the country, and achieve peace and political, and economic stability.”

Federalism, he pointed out, can offer rare opportunities for peace and to unite the country’s diverse ethnic, cultural and religious groups, particularly in Muslim Mindanao.

Sponsors of Federalism in Congress have set a timeline of amending the Charter in the first half of Duterte’s six-year term to put in place a transition government in the second half that will set the stage for a full federal state.

Salceda said the primary goals of Charter change includes enhanced decentralization, greater local government power and access to resources, especially among regions outside “Imperial Manila,” for them to chart their own development directions.

As Albay governor, Salceda chaired the Bicol Regional Development Council for nine years and the Luzon Area Development Council for six years. Through these councils, he introduced various development programs and strategies that sought to open economic development in the countrysides, among them the the approval of the Tutuban-Legazpi-Matnog Train, SLEX Extension to Legazpi and the Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay set for completion by August 2018. (PNA) JMC/JCN/EBP

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Suspect in robbery of PHP3.4-M 4Ps fund nabbed in Albay town

LEGAZPI CITY, July 17 (PNA) -- Policemen arrested on Friday afternoon one of the two suspects involved in the robbery of PHP3.4 million cash intended for around 1,300 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Rapu-Rapu, Albay in January.

Senior Insp. Arnel Bellen, chief of Rapu-Rapu Municipal Police Office, said police collared Henry Bibat, 44, inside his house in Barangay Carcaran, Rapu-Rapu at 1:30 p.m.

Bellen said the policemen served a warrant of arrest issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 4 Judge Edgar Armes to Bibat after witnesses and other pieces of evidence pointed to a possible “inside job” by Bibat and his uncle Eddie Bibat in the close-to-midnight heist on Jan. 26.

Eddie, a village councilman who owns the boarding house rented by two employees preparing the cash envelopes for the 4Ps beneficiaries, however remains at large.

Investigation showed the two employees were held up, tied and gagged by two bonnet-wearing men armed with bladed weapons.

Bellen said the two suspects went missing and could not be located after the robbery incident although witnesses said the two were visible around the neighborhood prior to the incident.

Bellen said the two victims, identified as Allan Competente and Rechilda Batang, had earlier distributed PHP4.6 million cash assistance to 1,466 4Ps beneficiaries in the poblacion of Rapu-Rapu.

The two sailed to Barangay Villahermosa in Batan Island to distribute the next tranche of PHP3.4 cash assistance for 1,350 beneficiaries when they were waylaid.

Bellen added the suspects staged the robbery at a time when power on the island was turned off. The island-town’s power needs was provided by a generating set that was turned off from 10:00 p.m. - 6:00 a.m. the following day, he said.

Barangay Villahermosa in Batan Island is a two-hour boat ride away from the poblacion of Rapu-Rapu which is four to five hours of boat ride to this city.

The victims were employees of Saint Anthony Development Cooperative, a sub-conduit of the National Confederation of Cooperatives, an authorized conduit of the Land Bank of the Philippines, which is the depository bank of funds for the government’s 4Ps or poverty alleviation program. (PNA) BNB/GVR/MSA/CBD

Drug "personality" in Sorsogon yields gun, shabu as mass surrenderees mount in Bicol
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 16 (PNA)--The provincial police in Sorsogon said a 41-year-old drug personality in the municipal watchlist of Irosin, Sorsogon, recently surrendered his gun, plastic sachet of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and drug paraphernalia to the Irosin Municipal Police Office, one among many in the growing list of over 10,000 mass ssurrenderees in the Bicol region since the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte took over two weeks ago.

Sr. Supt. Ronaldo Cabral, Sorsogon police chief, in an interview Friday, said Wellie Lopina, married, of Barangay San Pedro, Irosin town surrendered his .45-caliber gun, plastic sachet of shabu and drug paraphernalia on Wednesday afternoon.

Records from the Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) based in Camp Ola said surrenderees like Lopina continued to flock to offices of the police and local chief executives all over Bicol region since President Duterte took over.

PRO5 told a regional consultation of the National Police Commission in this city on Wednesday that the number of surrenderees in Bicol has reached 10,483, of whom 9,590 were users and 893 pushers, over a two-week period that started on July 1.

In Sorsogon, Cabral said the total number of surrenderees reached 1,414, of whom 1,254 were users while 160 were pushers. He said 18 peddlers had been arrested and three drug pushers killed since start of the campaign in the province. He said Sorsogon police recovered three hand grenades and four handguns during the same period.

He said some of the suspects deemed as a "high value target" in their province had already surrendered. They included an incumbent village chairman in Bulan town, a 50-year-old businessman in Pilar town and a 59- year- old male suspect listed as number eight in the target drug personalities in Bulusan town.

Among the drug personalities deemed of high value was a businessman who was arrested in a buy-bust operation on July 6 in Barangay Talisay, Sorsogon City. He was identified as 53-year-old Peter Escobar. (PNA) RMA/GVR/JH/CBD

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Albay LGU starts collecting educational loans from graduates
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, July 15 (PNA) –- The provincial government of Albay has started collecting payments of the educational loans granted to graduates who benefited from the Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme (AHECS).

Out of the 88,444 student grantees from 2007 to 2015, there are 17,300 AHECS graduates who are required to repay the provincial government.

AHECS is a study-now-pay later program of the province that was introduced by then governor Jose “Joey” Salceda Jr, who is now a second district congressman.

The program got the biggest chunk of the P14-million provincial budget from 2009 to 2010 that was sourced from the general fund while Land Bank of the Philippines provided a guaranteed loan of P700 million in 2010.

Vice Governor Harold Imperial said it is high time for the provincial government to require all graduates and even the drop outs to pay the government.

The Provincial Education Department (PED) of Albay reported that the total due for collection under the AHECS program is P530.4 million.

As of July 14 this year, the total amount collected was P348,849.00.

Imperial said PED has intensified their monitoring and coordination to fast track the collection process.

“AHECS graduates need to secure clearance from the PED office and pay their dues directly to the provincial treasurer’s office,” he said.

From 34,000 students in 2007 AHECS grew to 77,172 in 2012 and 88,444 in 2015. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MDR/CBD

Bicol police notes decrease in crime volume in 1st half of 2016
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 15 (PNA) -— Records from the Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) based in Camp Simeon Ola in this city showed a decrease in the volume of crimes committed during the first semester of this year compared to the same period last year.

Supt. Abelardo Borromeo, chief of Regional Operations and Plans Division or R3 of PRO5, made the disclosure during a regional consultation organized Wednesday by the National Police Commission in Bicol in this city, that was attended by representatives of various national government agencies, military, local government units and non-government organizations.

The Bicol police noted that “except for Naga City,” there was a “parallel and significant decrease in the comparative crime volume in most areas in the region during the first semester of 2016” compared to the same period last year.

Among the six Bicol provinces, Masbate recorded the highest percentage decrease in crime volume with a 34 percent decrease, down to 1,620 in this year compared to 2,443 last year.

This was followed by Camarines Norte with 25 percent decrease, down to 1,505 from 2,009; and Albay with a 17 percent decrease, down to 4,147 from 4,975.

According to Borromeo, the three other Bicol provinces with the least decrease in crime volume were Catanduanes with a 14 percent decrease, down to 704 from 814; Sorsogon with a 4.7 percent decrease, down to 881 from 925; and Camarines Sur with a 4.1 percent decrease, down to 6,288 from 6,558.

He said, however, the opposite trend is noted in Naga City in Camarines Sur, where there was a n11 percent increase in crime for the first semester this year compared to the same period last year, from a crime volume of 3,549 last year to 3,955 this year.

It could be noted that a recent buy-bust operation of lawmen, where 13 drug personalities were arrested, occurred in Purok Isla Sison, Barangay Penafrancia in Naga City. “Isla Sison” is included in the list of illegal drug hot spot areas in Naga City.

Borromeo added that a comparison of the crime index for the two periods showed that most of the crimes, which have decreased in number, were cases of theft, robbery and physical injury.

He said there was a 19 percent decrease in theft cases, down to 2,204 this year from 2,720 last year; 18 percent decrease in physical injury cases, down to 1,170 from 1,433; and 17 percent for robbery cases, down to 697 from 843.

Borromeo reported that the Bicol police suspected that the perpetrators in these cases were mostly involved in the illegal drugs problem and were part of over 10,000 surrenderees who responded to the authorities’ campaign to yield instead of fighting it out with lawmen.

In the Napolcom-sponsored forum, he told participants that the Bicol police recorded 10,483 drug personalities-surrenderees in the region over a two-week period, representing 10 percent of the total estimated number involved in the illegal drug trade, since the crackdown started when Duterte assumed office on June 30.

Authorities have launched “Oplan double barrel” that targeted both “high-value and street-level personalities” and Operation Tokhang a Visayan term that means knock and appeal) in neighborhoods known to be lairs of illegal drug syndicates. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Albay to establish PHP10M worth facility to fight TB
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, July 15 (PNA) -- A provincial health official said Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara has approved creation of a PHP10-million two-story building to help a public-private sector partnership carry out its role in helping rid the province of tuberculosis (TB).

Dr. Antonio Ludovice, assistant provincial health officer and current head of Josefina Duran Belmonte District Hospital (JDBDH) in Ligao City, said Bichara has approved the construction of the facility for Albay Coalition Against TB (ALCAT) to serve TB patients and facilitate prevention and control of this highly communicable disease.

“Our aim is to prevent, reduce local variations in TB control program performance, scale up and ensure provision of quality TB services,” he said.

ALCAT, which is a public and private sector collaboration towards a TB-free Albay, will work in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) to spearhead efforts to control tuberculosis.

He said the partnership will work with leading local specialty societies of chest physicians, infectious disease specialists and pharmaceutical industry representatives to realize its goals.

TB remains one of the world's most deadly diseases. It is estimated that three persons die every minute from causes related to TB. Each year, nine million people develop TB while 1.5 million die from the disease.

Albay recently received recognition for the provincial government’s strong support for the National TB Program (NTP)

According to DOH-National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (DOH-NCDPC), through NTP, the Philippines was able to achieve the global targets of 70 percent case detection for new smear positive TB cases with “89 percent of these successfully treated.“

DOH-NCDPC said various initiatives by the NTP with critical stakeholders as partners allowed the program to sustain its targets.

“Nonetheless, emerging concerns like drug resistance and co-morbidities need to be addressed to prevent rapid transmission and future generation of such threats,” it said.

“Coverage should also be broadened to capture the marginalized populations and the vulnerable groups namely, urban and rural poor, captive populations (inmates/prisoners), elderly and indigenous groups,” DOH-NCDPC added.

Meanwhile, Ludovice added that the provincial government will convert JDBDH into Albay Provincial Hospital.

“We need to increase the bed capacity from 25 to 100 and be upgraded from a secondary to tertiary hospital,” he said.

He also said the HIV program of the provincial government under the Albay AIDS Council and Facility will be permanently based in the same hospital. The human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is known to cause HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency virus or AIDS.(PNA) FFC/GVR/MDR/CBD

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bicol police: 10,483 mass surrenderees in two-week drug war, one-tenth of target
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 14 (PNA) -- Bicol police recorded 10,483 drug personalities-surrenderees in the region over a two-week period, representing 10 percent of the total estimated number involved in the illegal drug trade, since the crackdown started when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office on June 30.

Supt. Abelardo Borromeo, chief of Regional Operations and Plans Division or R3 of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5), gave this report during a regional consultation organized Wednesday by the National Police Commission in the region in this city.

He told representatives of various government agencies, military and non-government organizations attending the consultation that of the 10,483 surrenderees -- to both local government executives and police officials—there were 893 pushers and 9,590 users.

Borromeo said Albay has the highest number of surrenderees with 3,730, Camarines Sur- 3,105, Camarines Norte—1,385, Sorsogon- 1,206, Catanduanes--417, Masbate--192 and Naga City Police Office-- 448.

He said aside from the mass surrenders of drug personalities for the period July 1 to 12, there were 11 drug personalities killed and 88 arrested during the same period.

National government agencies that sent representatives to the consultation included the Department of Justice, Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government.

Representatives from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and other local government units, also learned the police recovered 321 plastic sachets of shabu (methampetamine hydrochloride), 16 firearms and three hand grenades.

Police reported the achievements resulted from two campaigns it launched. These are "Oplan double barrel" or the targeting of both “high-value and street-level drug personalities and “Operation Tokhang” (a Visayan term that means to knock and make an appeal), in various neighborhoods where the drug rings operate.

Borromeo said they would give all the drug personalities in the region an ultimatum of up to three months to surrender before they launch more aggressive operations.

“We are planning to create an anti-illegal drug task force in the provincial, city and municipal levels that will cover all areas in the Bicol region,” he said.

Napolcom Regional Director Atty. Josephmar Gil said he prefers that the consultation be done at the provincial level because of the different situations in the drug and crime problems.

“People in the provinces are more knowledgeable of their situation so it would be best if they will be the one to plan and discuss solutions to their problem,” he said.

Gil said they plan to hold a national consultation in the central office of Napolcom in Metro Manila where inputs from the regions will be taken up. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Judge cum peace advocate says IBP on 'wait-and-see mode' on use of iron hand vs drug menace
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 14 (PNA) — A judge and peace advocate from Masbate, who attended Wednesday a National Police Commission (Napolcom) –organized regional consultation here on the police’s war against illegal drug, said lawyers in Bicol are on “wait-and-see mode” on the “iron hand” being implemented since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office on June 30.

Judge Igmedio Camposano, executive judge of Masbate Municipal Circuit Trial Court and current chairman of the Masbate Advocates for Peace, cited during the consultation the “alarming trend” of 11 drug personalities killed since the new administration waged war against illegal drugs.

He said the trend “may have resulted from the new approach of President Duterte on how to curb the drug problem.”

Camposano added lawless elements “could take advantage of the pronouncements of the President for anyone or to any ordinary people to kill people and just tag them as a drug peddler.”

The Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) had told the Napolcom-sponsored forum, that included representatives of government agencies, military, local government units and nongovernment organizations, there have been 11 drug personalities killed and 88 arrested from July 1 to 12.

Bicol police also told the forum it had recorded 10,483 drug personalities-surrenderees in the region over the same period, which represented 10 percent of the total estimated number involved in the illegal drug trade, and the recovery of 321 plastic sachets of shabu (methampetamine hydrochloride), 16 firearms and three hand grenades.

In the Napolcom-organized forum, Judge Camposano cited that during the regional convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which was held in this city last week, the “lawyers said they would just be “on wait-and-see mode.”

He said the lawyers wanted to see the situation unfold “if the iron hand is really being justified to stop the drug menace.”

“At mahirap on our part bilang abogado dahil alam namin kung ano ang dapat at di dapat and later on may impact ito sa amin…(It is difficult on our part as lawyers because we know what should be done and what should not be done (and we know) this will later on have an impact on us), said Camposano.

He said he is in favor of the proposed investigation in aid of legislation in the Senate to “clear the rules of engagement” of the authorities.

According to him it is “badly needed especially nowadays that there have been many killed in recent police operations.”

Camposano shared the observation of lawyers that the trend on the killings of suspects, who fight the police operatives, could be part of the police’s “eagerness” to have a good record in responding to the call of the new administration to stop the drug scourge.

“We are just wondering in the judiciary why all the slain suspects reportedly drew their handguns and attempted to shoot the police,” he said.

He added it is “alarming” on the part of the judiciary if the drug suspect would be acquitted for lack of evidence or technicalities in which case “members of the judiciary could be tagged as a protector or coddler.”

“Even in the police organization, many of them don’t know what to do because if they do not follow, they will also be accused as a drug protector.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Police seize PHp2.13-M worth of buried shabu in Catanduanes town
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 14 (PNA) -- Authorities seized Thursday dawn PHP2.13 million worth of shabu buried beside an acacia tree in Pandan, Catanduanes, a haul deemed as the biggest accomplishment of the provincial police since the war on illegal drugs at the start of the term of President Rodrigo Duterte. Senior Supt.Jesus Martirez, director of Catanduanes Provincial Police Office, said a confession from a top drug personality in the province, Randy P. Eusebio, who was arrested on Monday for possession of 12 sachets of shabu, led to the record shabu haul. A joint provincial and municipal police operation recovered 71 bulks (plastic bags) of shabu, each bulk valued at PHP30,000, after digging at 2:00 a.m. in the house of Eusebio alias “Bong” in Barangay Balangonan, Pandan town, Martirez said in his report to Chief Supt. Melvin Marlon Buenafe, regional director of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) here in Camp Simeon Ola. Martirez cited the Pandan Municipal Police Office headed by Senior Insp. Virgil Bibat for the pike-and- shovel operation. According to Martirez, the lawmen arrested Eusebio on Monday after a search in his house yielded 12 sachets of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride.) The lawmen obtained a search warrant from Judge Lelu Contreras of Regional Trial Court Branch 42 and 43. In the course of investigation Eusebio disclosed the bulks of shabu which he buried beside an acacia tree near his house. “Eusebio even sketched the area where the bulks of shabu were buried and provided it to the lawmen,” said Martirez. Given the new information the combined the municipal and provincial police team immediately proceeded to the area and began digging, added Martirez. He said that since July 1, start of Oplan Tokhang (Visayan term for knock on doors) in neighborhoods known as lair of drug rings, the province has recorded 417 drug personalities from various towns who have surrendered. He said policemen involved in the P2.13M shabu haul would be given awards and medals. Buenafe had sent his congratulatory message to the Catanduanes Provincial Police Office and Pandan Municipal Police Office. (PNA) BNB/GVR/JH/CBD

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Drug death toll hikes to 11 as 2 more peddlers die in Bicol
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 13 (PNA) -- Two drug peddlers died Tuesday in an alleged shootout with lawmen in separate incidents in Albay and Camarines Sur, increasing to 11 the number of suspects killed in the Bicol region since the intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign was launched by the police two weeks ago.

Both suspects were declared dead on arrival in medical facilities in the two provinces. They were identified as Rafael Penera of Barangay Peñafrancia, Naga City in Camarines Sur and Joseph Maquiñana of Barangay Cotmon, Camalig, Albay.

A police report said Penera was stopped at a checkpoint of the Naga City Police Office traffic division in Barangay Peñafrancia for not wearing a helmet and for other traffic violations.

In the course of investigation, however, Penera, tried to grab the service firearms of the two arresting policemen who found out that he also has in his possession a plastic sachet of marijuana and other "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) paraphernalia.

The report said the scuffle prompted the two policemen-- PO1 Joan Ancheta and SPO1 Carlos Neola - to shoot Penera. The latter was brought to the Naga City Hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

In the second incident, Maquiñana was pronounced dead on arrival at the Municipal Rural Health Unit in Barangay Cotmon, Camalig, Albay after shooting it out with a poseur-buyer in a buy-bust operation, said Chief Insp. Benito Dipad, police chief of the Camalig Municipal Police Office.

Dipad said during the buy-bust, Maquiñana had suspected the poseur buyer to be a policeman so he drew his firearm and shot the operative thrice, prompting retaliation from the operative. Maquiñana died from multiple gunshot wounds in the body.

Police recovered a .38-caliber revolver and one plastic sachet with shabu from Maquiñana.

Prior to Tuesday’s incidents, a report by the Police Regional Office 5 based in Camp Simeon Ola in this city showed nine suspects killed during buy-bust operations in Bicol during the past two weeks.

They included two in Albay, three in Camarines Sur, one in Camarines Norte and three in Sorsogon.

Meanwhile 71 suspected drug peddlers have been arrested in the same period, said the same report. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Gov. Bichara thanks USNS Mercy for health and social services rendered to Albayanos
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, July 13 (PNA) -— Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara hailed and thanked the hospital United States Navy Ship (USNS) for the treatment of more than 3,000 local patients and the construction and repair of schoolbuildings and water facility in some villages in the province.

He expressed his gratitude at Monday’s closing ceremony of the Pacific Partnership 2016, a two-week humanitarian and disaster relief preparedness mission of the hospital ship United States Navy Ship (USNS) Mercy docked at waters off Albay Gulf, some five kilometers from this city’s port.

The vessel, which is equipped with an emergency room, X-ray room, CT Scan, Intensive Care Unit and blood bank, provided surgical services to the patients such as general surgery, hernia, bone realignment, cataract operations and cleft plate.

Its staff of 600 medical personnel, including nine doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff provided neurological examinations, pediatric, internal medicine, radiology, dental and eye health and dental services.

Bichara also acknowledged the mission’s joint team of engineers, who finished construction works of two-classroom school buildings with comfort rooms, including repair works of other classrooms in Barangay Cotmon, in Camalig town and in Barangay Kinawitan in Daraga town.

He also cited the completion of a water tank and lavatory at the elementary school in Barangay Mabini, also in Daraga.

During the same event, Bichara remembered the first visit of the mercy ship, which came right after typhoon Sisang slammed Albay in November 1987 and “crumpled the province like a piece of paper.”

Second visit

Bichara noted this is the second visit of USNS Mercy to Albay.

“The Mercy was first commissioned here in 1987 at a time when Albay crumpled like a piece of paper,” Bichara told officials of the United States Armed Forces. The governor was congressman of the province’s third district when Sisang hit Albay that time.

He said the governments of the Philippines and U.S. have a long-standing relationship marked by brotherhood and friendship.

Bichara said the USNS Mercy gave hope to the Filipino people, especially Albay, when it came to visit right after Sisang occurred.

After super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck Tacloban City in 2013, experts listing the 10 deadly typhoons on record to have hit the Philippines had included Sisang in the list.

“Mother nature blessed us with a beautiful nature but also blessed us with all types of natural disasters that we have become used to it,” the governor told the visitors.

Located in mainland Bicol peninsula, Albay is also home to the 2,460-meter Mt. Mayon, an active volcano with a nearly perfectly-shaped cone touted to rival the beauty of Japan’s Mt. Fiji but known also for its sometimes deadly episodes of explosions.

Reaffirming how Albay manages to return to normalcy after disasters, Bichara cited the revisiting USNS for rekindling hope in the population of the province, now recorded at 1.4 million.

“The visit of USNS Mercy gave us hope. Your tour here is not the end but a beginning. Make Albay as your home. I wish to see you again not for typhoon relief but to explore the beauty of our province as tourists,” he said.

USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), that departed from Legazpi City on July 11, is now headed to Da Nang, Vietnam for a similar humanitarian mission. Deemed as the world’s biggest hospital ship its home port is San Diego, California. Over 1,000 soldiers from the US Armed Forces with support from its allies from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, along with Filipino counterparts engaged in the mission in Albay.

Filipino-American

Since 2006, Pacific Partnership has been the largest annual humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Indo-Pacific region, according to Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, the first female Filipino-American commander of the US Naval Command Northwest Region.

Born in Hawaii, Bolivar is of Filipino descent as her father is from Nabua, Camarines Sur while her mother is from Pangasinan.

“I was thrilled to meet and speak to my fellow kababayan (townmates) in Legazpi City,” she said.

Bolivar spoke at a forum in the city that highlighted the issue of gender and development. It was part of the mission’s goal to foster exchanges with various sectors in the local communities they were serving.

The initiative was inspired by a United Nations resolution empowering women by including them in the planning and implementation of disaster preparedness and relief efforts of their countries.

She lauded Commodore Tom Williams, USNS Mercy head, for everything they have accomplished since arriving in Legazpi City.

For his part, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said the Pacific Partnership recognizes that countries are interdependent of each other, citing the war in Syria that caused an influx of migrants to host countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

“It is not so much a question of whether we have the means but a question of whether we have the will,” he said.

Major General Arthur J. Logan, adjutant general, Hawaii Army National Guard of the US Armed Forces, said Albay province is not done dealing with natural disasters but they are now better prepared for whatever comes next.

“Pacific Partnership allows us to prepare during the calm in order to respond in a crisis. We do what we do not for recognition but to enrich each other with our experiences and the Spirit of Aloha,” he said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/RBB/CBD

Motorcycle rider killed, 8 others injured in 5-vehicle smash-up in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, July 13 (PNA)-- Police said one person was killed and eight others were injured in a five-vehicle smash-up Wednesday morning along the Maharlika Highway in Barangay Salvacion, Daraga, Albay.

Investigation showed an unidentified driver of a Mitsubishi van (EVR-143) lost control of the vehicle while negotiating Zone 1, Barangay Salvacion and collided with a motorcycle before hitting a passenger jeepney and sideswiping a tanker and a passenger van—all bound for Daraga town-- at 7:30 a.m., said Senior Police Officer 3 Vicente Naira, police investigator.

He said the motorcycle driver, Marvin Dado, 48, died while being brought to the Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital here.

Naira said eight other persons, who were passengers of the vehicles involved in the road mishap, were brought to the same hospital after suffering injuries.

He however said the Mitsubishi van driver fled and is now subject of pursuit operations. (PNA) BNB/GVR/MSA/CBD

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

CIDG exec: 3 Bicol cops tagged 'protectors' of illegal drug trade relieved from posts

LEGAZPI CITY, July 12 (PNA) -- A top official of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in the Bicol region said three members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Naga City facing investigation as protectors of the illegal drug trade have been relieved of their duties.

Police Senior Supt. Marlon Tejada, CIDG regional operations director in Bicol, said an arrested drug pusher pinned down two policemen with ranks of Police Officer 2 (PO2) and another with rank of Police Officer 1 (PO1) as protectors of the illegal drug activities.

He said the three policemen were on duty at PNP Station 3 in Baranga Penafrancia, Naga City when they were named by the drug suspect.

Tejada, in a phone interview Tuesday morning, however, declined to identify the three policemen for lack of authority to divulge their identities.

He said, however, the three policemen have been relieved of their assignments so as not to prejudice the ongoing investigation.

The three policemen allegedly received protection money from drug dealers operating in Naga City.

Tejada said if found culpable, the three lawmen would face “administrative and disciplinary action” and at most be booted out from service.

“Cops who are behind the illegal drug (trade) are even worse than drug pushers and users,” he said.

The naming of the three Naga City policemen stemmed from a buy-bust operation in Purok Isla Sison, Barangay Penafrancia, Naga City, wherein one of the 13 drug personalities arrested confessed how the three policemen would ask protection money in exchange for not arresting them.

“Isla Sison” is included in the list of illegal drug hot spot areas in Naga City.

Since the Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) based in Camp Simeon Ola in Legazpi City launched “Operation Tokhang,” that involves going from door-to-door in neighborhoods of suspected drug users and dependents, it has recorded 6,371 drug personalities-surrenderees in various police stations in the Bicol region, within a span of two weeks, a report showed on Monday.

Tokhang is a Visayan term that means to knock on doors and make an appeal.

The 6,371 drug personalities included 5,774 drug dependents or users and 597 pushers.

Of the 6,371 drug personalities, Albay has recorded 1,679 surrenderees, Camarines Sur - 1,941, Naga City - 133, Catanduanes - 185, Masbate - 532, Sorsogon - 1,009 and Camarines Norte - 892.

A PRO5 report also showed the arrest of 71 suspected drug peddlers while nine suspects, who engaged in a shootout with PNP operatives during buy bust operations, were killed. (PNA) FFC/GVR/MSA/CBD

DOH-Bicol allots PHP25-M for infirmary hospital in Albay town
By Mike de la Rama

DARAGA, Albay, July 12 (PNA) – The Department of Health in the Bicol Region (DOH-5) has allocated PHP25 million for the construction of an infirmary hospital in this municipality that is expected to be completed in three years.

Mayor Gerry Jaucian said the infirmary hospital, which will be built at the Dona Maria Subdivision in Barangay Tagas, will serve a population of over 125,000 in Daraga and its neighboring towns.

“It will also help the municipality improve its health services and generate income as soon as we start the operation,” he said.

Jaucian said the construction of the infirmary is part of the preparations so Daraga, a first class municipality, could become a city.

“We need to establish our own hospital not only for the cityhood (process) but also to help decongest the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) serving the whole Bicol region,” he said.

Jaucian said the project is included in the list of priorities of Congressman Joey Salceda (Albay-2nd District) to prepare Daraga for cityhood. The province of Albay currently has three cities: Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco and 15 municipalities.

“We are very much optimistic that we will complete the project within three years,” he said.

The mayor said site development plan has been completed and other requirements are ready for submission to the DOH-5 office.

Aside from the infirmary hospital, the mayor said that two lying-in hospitals will become fully operational before the year ends.

The two lying-in hospitals, one in the municipal health office and another in Barangay Anislag, will cater not only to the residents of Daraga but also to those of adjacent Sorsogon province.

Once operational, the two lying-in facilities are expected to generate an income of PHP10 million annually.

Jaucian said the municipality expects to achieve “zero maternal and neonatal mortality” (zero deaths for both mother and child in the womb) in Daraga with the establishment of the lying-in hospitals.

He said all DOH requirements on the license to operate of a lying-in have been prepared while the site is ready for inspection.

Jaucian added the lying-in facilities will not only be provided with equipment and supplies but will also be manned by health personnel round-the-clock and seven days a week under the supervision of the local government of Daraga.

He urged the municipal health office to also strengthen its services for cases of tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus or HIV that causes HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS, and adolescent reproductive health. (PNA) SCS/GVR/MDR/CBD

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Legazpi starts PHP10-M 'TraBAJO' skills training program
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, July 11 (PNA) -- Mayor Noel E. Rosal of this city on Monday ordered the city’s Public Employment Services Office (PESO) to evaluate the potential beneficiaries of its skills training program that would help them secure gainful jobs.

The program called TraBAJO is being facilitated by a PHP10-million grant given to the city government by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in 2015.

Under its Skills Training for Accelerated Growth in Local Government and Training for Better Access to Job Opportunities (STAG-LG: TraBAJO), the DILG seeks to help target local government units increase the capacity of their community members in acquiring skills required by private enterprises.

After signing a memorandum of agreement with the heads of six technical vocational institutions on Friday that would help TraBAJO realize its goal, Rosal asked PESO to recommend beneficiaries to the program.

The institutions include ABEC Institute of Business and Technology Inc., Meriam College of Technology Inc., Southern Luzon Technological College Foundation Inc., Apicius Culinary Arts and Hotel Management Inc., Computer Arts and Technological College Inc. and Evegate Technical and Development Training Academy Inc.

Rosal said his administration has created a technical working group composed of different department heads to evaluate the institutions based on their training capacity to ensure success of the program.

PESO Manager Diosdado “Dads” Raneses said target beneficiaries of TraBAJO must be 18 years old and a bonafide resident of the city who have completed high school or junior high school.

He said out-of-school youths, unemployed men and women, drivers of tricycles, vans or jeeps or their spouses with no means of livelihood, displaced Overseas Filipino Workers and their families, as well as industry workers interested in upgrading their skills are qualified under the program.

Raneses said persons with disabilities, senior citizens, families of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police killed while on duty, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups can also be beneficiaries of the program.

He said the skills training covered by TraBAJO are the courses related to the tourism industry as well as the Information Technology-Business Process Outsourcing or IT-BPO sector, and the areas of metal engineering and “agripreneurship.”

The PHP10-million skills training program will be implemented through partnership with government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment, which will facilitate matching of jobs with the beneficiaries, and the Technical Skills Development Authority for the skills training.

Raneses said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will be tapped for the livelihood component while the Department of Education will provide the list of out-of-school youth.

He said TraBAJO supports the national government’s thrust to help the unemployed and empower them through training projects that would lead to gainful employment and entrepreneurial activities.(PNA) BNB/GVR/EPS/CBD

“Stop or face teeth of law,” CIDG Bicol chief warns drug pushers, users-surrenderees
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 11 (PNA) -- The head of the Criminal and Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in the Bicol region warned drug pushers and users, who have surrendered to lawmen, to refrain from returning to their illegal activities or they will face the “teeth of the law.”

Police Senior Supt. Marlon Tejada, CIDG- Bicol chief, aired this warning after discovering that some surrenderees present themselves to police and local officials in the morning but return to the illegal drug trade in the evening.

He cited the case of Rommel Rafal of Zone 3, Barangay Balatas, Naga City in Camarines Sur who submitted himself to city mayor John Bongat on Friday morning but was arrested by CIDG lawmen in a buy-bust operation in his village that same evening.

The lawmen arrested two other two suspects, Romnick.Regia and Jonneles Silvestre, from the same village, along with Rafal.

Tejada asked the support of barangay officials and residents in monitoring their constituents involved in illegal drug activities.

“Even those who have surrendered are still subject to close monitoring and surveillance by the local police,” he said.

Tejada added that some of the surrenderees have “questionable sincerity.”

He noted the alarming drug problem in the region which could escalate into “narco-politics” within a span of six years if not stopped, citing the big number of “drug personalities “among the surrenderees as proof.

Prior to his inauguration, President Rodrigo Duterte spoke at a flag-raising ceremony in Davao City on June 27, alleging that many local executives are connected to drug rings. He said some poll bets did not join political parties because they already have campaign funds supposedly given by crime syndicates.

Tejada said that since their buy-bust operation in Purok Isla Sison,Barangay Peñafrancia and Purok 3,Barangay Balatas, both in Naga City, that resulted in the arrest of 17 drug personalities, similar operationss will be launched in other areas suspected as lair of illegal drug activities in Bicol provinces under “Oplan Double Barrel.”

This means law enforcers will target both high value targets—the “big personalities”—and the “street-level personalities. (PNA) BNB/GVR/JH/CBD

3 police officers in Naga City tagged as drug “coddlers”
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, July 11 (PNA) ---The 13 drug personalities arrested by a combined team of lawmen in Bicol during a buy-bust operation in Camarines Sur on July 2 have identified three police officers from the Naga City Police Office as their coddlers or protectors.

Police Sr. Supt.Marlon Tejada, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Bicol, said the drug personalities arrested by the joint team of CIDG-5, National Bureau of Investigation-5 and Regional Public Safety Battalion of the Philippine National Police (PNP) had told probers the police officers regularly collect or ask money from them.

He said the drug personalities nabbed in the buy-bust operation in Purok Isla Sison, Barangay Penafrancia, Naga City, narrated how the police officers would ask for money as a trade off for not arresting them .

“Aside from the money, sometimes the suspected coddlers would ask for shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) or both shabu and money,” said Tejada.

He said the three police officers are members of Police Station 3 that covers the so- called "Isla Sison” area in Barangay Penafrancia.

“They are a Police Officer 1 or PO1 and two Police Officers 2 or PO2,” he added.

Tejada, however, temporarily withheld their names pending.

He said if Chief Supt.Melvin Ramon Buenafe, director of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) would authorize him he would give the names of the erring police officers.

Tejada said he gave the names to Buenafe in his written report but “it’s up to him if he will divulge it.”

Last week, Supt. Allan Ramos, newly installed officer-in-charge of the Naga City Police Office, ordered his men to undergo random drug testing but they were still awaiting results from the Camarines Sur PNP Crime Laboratory.

Earlier, in a police report said that some police officers in the Bicol region were not only involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs but also hooked on using these drugs.

On Friday, all 185 members of the Regional Police Public Safety Battalion based in Camp Gen Simeon Ola, PRO5 headquarters in Legazpi City, Albay, including their Regional Batallion head Senior Supt. Dennis Rellata, submitted to a drug test by the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory.

Members of the six Provincial Safety Companies in Bicol also underwent random drug tests in police stations all over the region, results of which would be submitted to Buenafe and his directorial staff.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa earlier declared that should any member of the PNP be found positive for use of illegal drugs they would be subjected to dismissal proceedings under the present administration’s “zero tolerance on illegal drugs.” (PNA) RMA/GVR/JH/CBD