Friday, October 28, 2016

DOLE-Camarines Norte awards P5.3-M livelihood fund to 13 villages in Labo town
By Gina V. Rodrigez

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 28 (PNA) -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Camarines Norte has awarded P5.3 million livelihood fund assistance to 13 villages in Labo, Camarines Norte.

Jane L. Rolda, head of DOLE-Camarines Norte, gave the amount to the barangay heads of the 13 villages in Labo town for their 789 home-based and self-employed workers, according to Raymond Escalante, public information officer of DOLE-Bicol, in a news release today.

She said the fund would be exclusively used for the purchase of equipment and tools for carpentry and masonry, welding, automotive service, electrical service, dressmaking and tailoring, cosmetology and hair care, and food processing.

Rolda said the 13 identified barangays belong to the second batch of barangay councils who qualified as accredited co-partners of DOLE.

The villages were Pag-asa, Malasugui, Baay, Bagacay, Pangpang, Bakiad, Macogon, Talobatib, Bautista, Pinya, Gumamela, Fundado and Tulay na Lupa.

She acknowledged the significant contribution of the barangays in the effective delivery of projects and services of DOLE that reach even the most remote communities.

Rolda said the livelihood assistance seeks to augment the income of disadvantaged workers in the informal sector.

The barangay chairmen of the 13 villages received the check award in turnover ceremonies on Sept. 27 at the DOLE-Camarines Norte Provincial Office.

She said the first batch of awardees was composed of seven barangays who received the same livelihood fund support in 2014. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EDS

Legazpi gets 'Seal of Good Local Governance' award from DILG
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 28 (PNA) -- Legazpi City was among 306 local government units (LGUs) across the country which received the “2016 Seal of Good Local Governance Award” (SGLG) award from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for its good governance practices.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal announced Friday that DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno and Senator Sonny Angara handed a plaque of recognition and P3 million check to him and DILG-Legazpi Director Elmer Villanueva during the awards ceremonies Thursday in Manila.

Rosal said the SGLG award is the highest recognition given by DILG to an LGU in its performance in the areas of financial administration, social protection and disaster preparedness.

He said the three other criteria in the award include business friendliness and competitiveness, peace and order, and environmental management.

“The SGLG award will inspire our investors to do more business in the city,” Rosal said.

He said the Php 3 million that came with the award can be used to implement important projects and programs of the city administration.

Rosal said the award would also help the city hurdle one of the requirements for securing approval of loans in the bank.

In the Bicol region, the LGUs that received the 2016 SGLG award were the provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon; the four cities of Legazpi, Ligao, Masbate and Sorsogon; and in the municipalities category - Tigaon, Camarines Sur; Virac, Catanduanes; and Mobo, Masbate.

Nationwide, the 2016 SGLG award produced 306 winners — 43 in the provinces level, 51 cities and 212 municipalities.

The SGLG was launched by DILG in January 2014 to challenge LGUs to continue good governance practices while providing better services. It originated from the “Seal of Good Housekeeping” program that was introduced in 2010. (PNA) LAP/EPS/RSM

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bicol's gov't hospitals to be put on 'code white alert' during 'Undas'
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 27 (PNA) -- Bicol's health office will place all government hospitals in the region under “code white alert” or “on-call” mode during the traditional celebration of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, also known as 'Undas'.

The alert will be effective from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, regional health official, Ken Nuyda, said.

“During this period, hospital personnel, such as general and orthopedic surgeons, anaesthesiologists, internists and nurses will be ready to respond in any emergency situation,” he said.

Nuyda said the health department's Health Emergency Management Bureau Operation Center will continuously monitor health-related events during the period and will be closely coordinating with other agencies, such as the Philippine National Police and Bureau of Fire Protection.

He said they did not participate in the "Lakbay Undas Assistance Centers" with the PNP and radio groups stationed along the highways as they will concentrate their personnel in hospitals and the operation center at their regional office in Legazpi City.

Nuyda said since last week, personnel of the health office have been calling on the public to have a healthy and safe observance of 'Undas'.

They have advised the public to avoid diarrhea or food poisoning by ensuring proper food preparation and sanitation.

"Food-borne illnesses are usually caused by food produced for mass catering which have not been cooked, stored or handled properly,” he said.

Nuyda said the regional health office has also appealed to the public to avoid overcrowded places and overloaded utility vehicles when going to cemeteries.

Parents have been advised to refrain from bringing babies and toddlers to cemeteries where they are vulnerable to diseases due to their low resistance to infection, heat and congestion. (PNA) CVL/GVR/JH/EDS

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

3 fishers from Catanduanes rescued off Borongan, Eastern Samar
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA) -- The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Bicol has been coordinating with authorities in the Visayas after reports reaching it said that the three fishermen from Catanduanes, who were reported missing due to typhoon Karen and supertyphoon Lawin, were rescued off Borongan, Eastern Samar, OCD-Bicol head Bernardo Alejandro said today.

He said the three fishermen from Viga, Catanduanes were afloat at the Pacific Ocean for 14 days before their rescue at 2 p.m. on Monday by a local fishing vessel, some 50 nautical miles off the coast of Sabang North, Borongan.

The three, identified as Zaldy De Jesus,41, Luis Tupig,37 and Reise Del Valle,38, were reported missing on October 11 by OCD-Bicol.

They told rescuers they were on their way home after a fishing trip when bad weather and big waves filled their boat with water and sunk it.

To lessen the load of their boat filled with water they decided to let go of their engine in the hope that other fishermen would see and rescue them.

Alejandro said the three ate raw fish and floating sea weeds and drank rainwater but sometimes thirst forced them to drink seawater that caused them dehydration.

He said after days of floating and on the verge starvation, the three were were chanced upon by a fishing vessel owned by a certain Lito Rosales.

The fishermen in the vessel found the three floating alongside their almost capsized motor boat.

“Upon rescue the fishermen had cracked lips, very dry, and badly scarred skin due to long exposure to the sun and dehydration,” said Alejandro.

Rosales brought the fishermen to Borongan with local government officials headed by Mayor Maria Fe Abunda assisting them.

The three are still confined at the Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital but in stable condition.

Alejandro said the ordeal of the three were posted in the Facebook account Quora Bee of Eastern Samar until it was read by OCD 5 and other agencies.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, Police Regional Office Bicol spokesperson, said Sr. Insp. Enesto Montes Jr., Viga chief of police, has been coordinating with Viga Mayor Emeterio Tarin so the fishermen’s families can go to Eastern Samar to be reunited with their loved ones. (PNA) /GVR/JHALLARE/EBP

DA-BFAR awards Legazpi City for big number of registered fishermen
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 26 (PNA)-- The Legazpi City government received an award from the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for being in the list of the first 100 municipalities and cities across the country with the most number of fishermen registered under the 2015 national program for fisherfolk’s registration.

Mayor Noel Rosal, in a statement Wednesday, said the award which came with a PHP2 million cash prize was handed by Eduardo Gonggona, DA’s undersecretary for fisheries, to Legazpi City Agriculturist Jesus Kallos during the 53d year celebration of Fish Conservation Week held in Quezon City last week.

Kallos said his office has registered a total of 11,123 fishing vessels with 789 uploaded to the registry of BFAR’s central office.

“If they (fishermen) have a permit to operate then, they are free to catch fish in any part of the country’s marine waters,” he said.

Republic Act No. 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 mandates the development of a registry of municipal fisherfolk to help manage the municipal waters, monitor fishing activities and guide national government agencies in providing benefits to the fisherfolk.

Kallos said the PHP2 million received by the city will be used to buy fishing equipment for distribution to all legitimate fisherfolk.

Rosal urged the legitimate fishermen to work closely with the city agriculture office in preventing illegal fishing activities and preserving juvenile fishes.

He said his administration will focus on the coral restoration project to protect mangrove areas and rehabilitate coral reefs and watershed areas.

“This is a strategy of the city government to maintain an adequate supply of our marine resources that contribute a lot to the volume of our marine and freshwater production,” said Rosal. (PNA) FPV/GVR/EPS/EDS

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bicol police list 351 public officials, majority them village officials, among drug surrenderees
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) -- Some 351 public officials in the Bicol region, mostly barangay (village) officials, suspected of being drug personalities have surrendered to authorities from July 1 to October 21.

“We expect an increase in the number of these public officials who will surrender as Operations Tokhang and Double Barrel of the Philippine National Police continue,” director of the Bicol Regional Police, Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, has said.

Buenafe said the 351 is broken down into 346 village officials and five city and municipal councilors.

Of the 346 village officials, 47 were chairmen, 202 were councilmen, 76 were watchmen, seven were treasurers, seven were secretaries, four were chief watchmen, two were staff members and one was a justice committee head.

Buenafe said of the five city and municipal councilors, two were from Albay and one each from Camarines Sur, Catanduanes and Masbate.

Aside from the 351 public officials, police also have in their list 54 other drug personalities who are in government service or are public servants, he added.

“The 54 include 34 government employees, 13 public school teachers, one principal, two policemen, two firemen, one member of the Cafgu (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) and one member of the Philippine Army,” he said. (PNA) CVL/GVR/JH/EDS

Monday, October 24, 2016

DOLE-Albay holds career guidance talks to address 'jobs-skills mismatch'

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 24 (PNA) -- Nearly 1,500 high schools students have benefited from the career guidance seminars which are being conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-Albay in various parts of the province since early this month to address the “jobs-skills mismatch.”

“Our records showed 1,460 high school students in Albay have been given counseling on the courses they should choose in college,” said Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, DOLE-Bicol officer-in-charge regional director.

Trayvilla, in a news release issued Monday, said the seminars, which focus on the topic “Our Skills and Passion Today; Our Career Tomorrow,” seek to help the students on their choice of courses so they could easily land jobs after they graduate.

She said the career guidance program is DOLE’s answer to the long-term problem of “jobs-skills mismatch” so that the courses taken by the students will later fit the job requirements of hiring firms.

Trayvilla said the program aims to provide a ‘trending’ of available jobs in both local and international markets and serve as a guide to the high school students, their parents, officials of local government units or villages, and even the company owners.

“Naturally, we want our college graduates to have decent jobs. But how can they get jobs if their courses do not match the available jobs whether here in the Philippines or overseas,” she said.

DOLE Albay OIC-Ma. Ella E. Verano said the career guidance seminar is one way of helping the students avoid shifting of courses so they can make the most of their time in college and be assured of job placements later on.

She said the career seminar is a continuing project that has started early in October with Mary Jane Secretario, DOLE-Albay officer, as a main speaker.

Verano said the 1,460 students come from 10 secondary schools in various towns in the province, namely, Vinisitahan National High School and Pili National High School, both in Bacacay town; Virgin of Carmel High School, Naga National High School, Tiwi Agro-Industrial School, all in Tiwi town; Kilicao National High School in Daraga; Homapon National High School and Cagbacong National High School, both in Legazpi City; Bantayan National High School in Tabaco City; and Malinao National High School in Malinao town.

She said DOLE also enjoins the parents to attend the career talks so they would know the ill effects of forcing their children to take certain courses which offer little job opportunities later on.

“This is the kind of mentality that we would like to change,” (Ang kaisipang ito ang nais nateng baguhin) said Verano.

DOLE-Bicol records showed Albay is next to Camarines Sur with the most number of high school graduates.

Albay province is also the site of regional offices of national government offices, big companies and the biggest university in the Bicol region--the Bicol University,

"Albay serves as the hub of companies in Metro Manila and Laguna who are looking for job applicants. It is always the center of the biggest job fairs in the Bicol region,” said Verano. (PNA) FPV/GVR/GINA V. RODRIGUEZ/EBP

Salceda wants BOC to address smuggling of products from China
By Alan Tan

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 24, (PNA) -- Albay (second district) Rep. Joey Salceda wants the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to address the smuggling of products from China estimated at USD17 billion.

He said the country imports about USD11 billion worth of goods from China through formal channels.

"With our new trade relationship, we can now monitor smuggling from China," said Salceda, who is the vice chair of the House appropriations and ways and means committees.

He said an independent assessment placed at USD34 billion the estimated worth of smuggled goods from China but the country's formal records had placed it at USD17 billion.

President Duterte's four-day state visit to China has garnered USD24 billion worth of investments and financing agreements broken down into USD15 billion investment projects and USD9 billion credit facilities.

Salceda said the country can achieve stable and higher growth as the country expands its potentials under the Duterte administration through “equidistant economic relations with other countries.”

He said that Filipino investors are “heavily exposed” with their investments estimated at USD6 billion in China.

"We need this kind of economic rebalancing especially with China," said the Albay lawmaker.

He said the country has a USD5 billion negative trade imbalance with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) while with the United States the country had posted a positive 1.5 percent and with Japan, another positive 5 percent.

Salceda said stronger relations with China can ensure higher growth as well as balanced trade with the ASEAN countries.

He cited Vietnam as a model of having a pragmatic foreign policy among the ASEAN countries.

Salceda said Vietnam has strong trade relationships with China but is not afraid to challenge the powerful country based on its claims in the South China Sea.

“Vietnam buys military equipment from Russia and allows that country to drill for oil in its territorial waters.

The US is moving closer to Vietnam as it strengthens its military pivot in the Pacific and has recently dropped its arm embargo on Vietnam,” he said.

Salceda said Vietnam is a signatory to the European Union Free Trade Agreement and the US-initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership in which the Philippines is not a member.

He said the country should not just focus on the ASEAN.

Salceda cited the beneficial impact of the Japanese Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) of USD3 billion, of which USD2 billion came from the Asean Development Bank and World Bank.

"We are now a lender to the International Monetary Fund, and a net payer to the ASEAN Development Bank and the World Bank," he said.

"We can ensure our high growth potential if we can replicate treaties like the Japan- Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) because of which the country was able to achieve a USD34.3 billion advantage,” he added.

Salceda also wants the country to take advantage of being a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an international financial institution initiated by China that aims to support the building of infrastructures in the Asia-Pacific region.

He said the goal of AIIB is to construct a road system from Paris to Shanghai then to Thailand down to Malaysia and Singapore.

"If we are not part of this we will be like a bouy bobbing up and down in the middle of the ocean unconnected," said Salceda, former co-chair of the Green Climate Fund board representing the developing countries in 2013 to 2014.

Salceda said “China is just a start.” (PNA) FPV/GVR/AT/EBP

Sunday, October 23, 2016

De Lima has the right to file complaint vs President Duterte – Ombudsman Morales

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct 22 (PNA) -- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Senator Leila De Lima has every right to seek and consider any legal remedy by filing a case against President Rodrigo Duterte wherein the latter could not invoke presidential immunity.

Morales led the Office of the Ombudsman in a two-day “Integrity Caravan” here on Thursday and Friday for a dialogue with students of the Bicol University and multisectoral groups to garner support for her office‘s anti-corruption initiatives.

At the forum, she emphasized the importance of braving a collective front in the fight against corruption while urging her audience to report the corrupt activities of local officials.

Morales when asked if it is possible for De Lima to file complaints against Duterte, she said the lady senator had all the rights to seek remedy which she thought would protect her.

“Well everything is possible, hintayin na lang natin (let us just wait) if she will go on with the case.It is still very speculative, hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang plano niya (we still do not know what her plans are),” she said.

Morales said the question on the President’s immunity against suit would largely depend on what De Lima intends to file in any court or with the Supreme Court.

“If it is not a criminal case, I don’t see why immunity should come in,” she said.

Morales even cited former President Benigno Aquino III as being a respondent in a case before the Supreme Court where the former chief executive did not invoke his right for protection against suit.

“Nothing can prevent De Lima from filing a complaint against her tormentor but it will all depend on what legal course of action she would file,” she stressed.

Earlier De Lima announced that she would file a complaint against President Duterte at the Supreme Court which to her would test the President’s immunity from suit.

De Lima had said among the cases that she would file against Duterte are the petitions for the writ of amparo and writ of habeas data.

“Kung hindi naman criminal case ang i-file laban kay (if it is not a criminal case that would be filed against) Pres. Duterte I don’t see why immunity would come in,” Morales told a press conference at BU.

She said should De Lima file a criminal case against Duterte, she may submit the complaint before the Ombudsman where the office could give due course to the case.

Morales, however, said the President could still invoke his presidential immunity from suit.

She even cited the case of former Vice President Jejomar Binay whom her office found to be probably guilty of so many crimes but the office deferred the filing of the information until after Binay’s immunity was lifted. (PNA) RMA/MSA/SSC

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mayor Rosal opens new park at Legazpi City's Southern Boulevard
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 21 (PNA) -- A fully landscaped park, that has just been launched by the Legazpi City government, promises to be the newest attraction in the Southern Boulevard here, a seaside road network that is one of the city’s major tourist attractions.

Mayor Noel Rosal, who led the opening ceremonies on Thursday for the newly constructed park, said it will serve as an additional tourism infrastructure at the boulevard.

Extending from the city’s central business district and port area to the southern villages, the eight-kilometer boulevard is a favorite venue for biking, jogging or walking.

The park, which is sitting on a 1,000-square meter space adjacent to the bridge area and Bureau of Fire facility, is located in Barangay Dapdap, one of the southern villages.

Rosal said the park is part of the beautification program for Southern Boulevard where an international passenger cruise ship terminal will also be built.

He said the city is “fine tuning the final program” for the terminal,” a multi-billion facility under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.

Rosal said the park is just in its initial phase as only 25 percent of the P5-million park project has been completed.

Now furnished with street furnitures such as tables and benches and installed with decorative lights, he said the park is expected to “add beauty to the boulevard especially during night time.”

He added a 200-linear meter road was also constructed at the side of the park for the promenaders.

Rosal said his administration through the Department of Public Works and Highways, has an ongoing construction of another 2.7-km road to serve as the northern boulevard from the coastal road of the villages of San Roque, Baybay, Sabang and Pigcale.

“It is designed to protect the lives and properties of the residents from the impact of storm surges during typhoons,” he said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/RSM

Friday, October 21, 2016

Work on septage treatment facility in Legazpi City begins 1st quarter of 2017
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 21 (PNA) -- The Legazpi City government will start construction of a septage treatment facility (STF) in the first quarter of 2017 to comply with national laws aiming to protect and preserve the country’s marine waters.

“The project will serve as an effective tool to protect water resources and prevent contamination and pollution from the wastes of septic tanks,” Mayor Noel Rosal said Friday.

He said the STF will be located at the upper portion of the southern side of the city--in Sitio (sub-village) Caridad, Barangay (village) Banquerohan.

The facility will occupy a two-hectare land adjacent to the city’s “Engineered Sanitary Landfill” that was funded by the AECID (Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation).

Rosal said the treatment facility project falls under the city’s Comprehensive Septage and Waste Water Treatment Facility program.

He said the program complies with the implementation of Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 2004, PD 198 or the Water District Law, PD 856 or the Sanitation Code of the Philippines and RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

“All local government units are mandated to pursue a policy for the protection and preservation of marine waters,” said Rosal.

He said the STF project was conceived after the city Legislative Council enacted Ordinance No. 0025-2015 in 2015 that provides for a septage management program to ensure the “right to a balanced ecology and safe health” of the people in the community.

The ordinance requires all households, subdivisions, establishments and government offices to have their own septic tanks with a water tank that has “no leaching compartment.”

Rosal said the septic tank must be located at least 25 meters from any well with an access port for de-sludging.

He said the city administration will require all septic tank owners to de-sludge their own septic tanks every three to five years with the waste removed from the septic tanks to be transported to the STF.

The city administration and the Legazpi City Water District (LCWD) will enter into a memorandum of agreement for an additional P80 monthly to be included in the water billing of its residential consumers while P250 will be collected from establishments.

Rosal said the sludge and septage collected from the septic tanks will undergo a process using the STF with the treated waste deposited to the nearby sanitary landfill or applied to agricultural and forest lands as organic fertilizer.

The ordinance said violators will be penalized with fines ranging from P1,000 to P5,000 and prison terms of five days to 30 days. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/RSM

Albay lawmaker: China gave more support to PHL’s climate change position than US, EU
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 20 (PNA) -- Albay Rep. (2nd district) Joey Salceda said China has been more supportive of the Philippine’s position on climate change than the United States and European Union which have been contributing the most to carbon emissions in the world.

Formerly co-chairman of the United Nations Framework Convention and Climate Change (UNFCCC) Green Climate Fund, Salceda said both the US and EU had ignored the position of the Philippines in its fight against climate change.

He said at the UNFCCC Green Climate Fund the US and EU were always his opponents whenever he presented the position of developing countries on climate change but “China was always there supporting” the Philippine’s proposition.

“The US ignored our country...in our fight against climate change as they were not willing to pay for ... causing so much environmental havoc to developing countries,” Salceda said.

He said “it’s high time to have a strong alliance with China ...to get tangible support for the developing countries who are struggling against climate change.”

The Albay lawmaker also contested British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad’s pronouncement that the United Kingdom topped the list of foreign aid donors to victims of super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Ahmad said UK had donated $ 122.7 million as aid to the Yolanda victims.

Salceda, however, said the fund given was not aid or charity but a form of “climate justice” as compensation for losses and damage.

“It is not charity but climate justice as they hardly involved transfer cash, except for some $ 98 million donated by private individuals and organizations,” he said.

Salceda said the P35.6 billion that was given by foreign governments for the Yolanda victims paled in comparison to the P550.5 billion cumulative actual losses and damage the people of the Philippines suffered from 1990 to 2015 due to climate change caused by developed countries.

“If accounted at current prices, these would mount to P1.903 trillion,” he said.

Salceda added that the Yolanda aid projects were implemented by the donors themselves.

“To my best estimate, 40 percent was paid to their highly paid expatriate consultants and coordinators or their choice of contractors and sub-contractors,” he said.

Salceda said for the past few years, the Philippines has been suffering increasingly harsh climate-related events such as extreme episodes of storms, monsoon rains and El Niño.

He said this is due to climate change which was aggravated by the western countries who contributed greatly to greenhouse gas emissions.

Senator Loren Legarda, in a statement, said in the past 20 years, natural hazards had killed 1.35 million people, which was more than half of those who died in earthquakes with the remaining due to weather and climate-related hazards.

She said the Emergency Events Database of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) had recorded 7,056 disasters worldwide during the period 1996 to 2015.

CRED said all over the world, tragedies of even greater magnitude had occurred, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed around 230,000 lives, 2008 cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar and caused 138,000 deaths, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed 223,000 persons.

“In the Philippines, deaths caused by storms alone reached 15,880 during the period 2006-2015, which was significantly higher than the 3,970 storm deaths in the previous decade,” said Legarda.

She said this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), which is celebrated every Oct. 13 through the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, had carried the slogan “Live to Tell.”

Legarda said the IDDR event focused on reducing global disaster mortality, the first of the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

She said in 2005, governments around the world had adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action which aimed at “substantially reducing disaster losses in lives and in the social, economic and environmental assets of communities and countries” by 2015.

The Philippine government for its part enacted the the Climate Change Act of 2009, which was touted by lawmakers as a “landmark legislation on disaster and climate risk management.”

This was amended by the People’s Survival Fund of 2012, and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which has institutionalized and mainstreamed disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the development policies, plans and programs and public funding of local government units. (PNA) LAP/GVR/RBB/EDS

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Police probe half of village chiefs in Albay town linked to illegal drugs
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 20 (PNA) -- Anti-narcotics agents are investigating half of the total number of village chiefs in Sto. Domingo in Albay province over their alleged role in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the town.

Chief of the investigation division of the Albay Provincial Police, Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, said they are in the process of validating reports from their informants on the suspected role of 12 out of 23 barangay (village) heads in the illegal drug trade in the town.

"They will be subjected to our Operation Tokhang if results of the validation against them will turn positive," he said.

Gomez said from July 1 to Oct. 19, some 12,294 drug personalities -- 1,108 of them pushers and 11,186 users -- have surrendered to authorities in Albay.

He said 165 of them were village officials, 19 of whom were barangay chairmen.

On Oct. 12, Rommel Marticio, chief of Barangay Inarado in Daraga, Albay and one of the surrenderers in the province were killed in a buy-bust operation by narcotics agents.

Gomez said law enforcers are also validating reports on the involvement of two broadcast media persons in the illegal drug trade.

"We need at least three confirmatory validation on their involvement in illegal drugs before we conduct Oplan Tokhang against these mediamen," he said. (PNA) CVL/GVR/JHALLARE/EBP

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bulusan volcano erupts anew; second in a week

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 19 (PNA) -- Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon spewed a kilometer-high ash cloud that lasted for around nine minutes early morning on Wednesday, its second time this week, the Philppine Institute of Volcanolgy and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. “The ashfall drifted towards villages near the slopes of the volcano in Bulusan town,” said Crispulo Deolata, Phivolcs’ resident volcanologist based in Sorsogon.

He said volcanologists found 0.5 millimetres traces of ashes that drifted towards villages in Bulusan town.

Eduardo Laguerta, resident volcanologist at the Phivolcs’ observatory in Lignon Hill here, said the phreatic eruption was the second to take place this week (the first was on October 17) and the third eruption this month.

He said the eruptions were normal occurrences since the volcano has been exhibiting some 20 eruptions since May last year.

“What we are closely checking is the presence of fresh magma that could be expelled by the volcano which would indicate that magma is developing beneath the volcano’s vent,” Laguerta said.

State volcanologists are gathering ash samples every time the volcano erupts to determine if there are fresh magma particles in it.

Phivolcs’ seismic monitoring instruments recorded 28 volcanic earthquakes during the past 24-hour period, said Phivolcs’ 8 a.m. bulletin today.

The earthquakes were triggered by rock fracturing due to hydrothermal pressure developing in the volcano’s vent that also generates the phreatic explosion, added the bulletin.

Mt. Bulusan also emitted 176 tonnes of sulfur dioxide which Laguerta said is just a “normal value.”

The volcano’s slopes continue to show signs of “bulging” or inflationary trends since July this year.

Alert Level 1 remains in effect over Bulusan volcano which means it is in a restive state or abnormal condition.

The public are reminded not to enter the designated four-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone due to the possibility of sudden and hazardous phreatic eruptions.

Civil aviation authorities advised pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden phreatic eruption could be hazardous to aircrafts.

Residents near river channels, especially on the southwest and northwest sectors of the volcano’s edifice, should be cautious. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/MEC

Catanduanes firm absorbs 231 workers, comprising half of regularized workers in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 18, (PNA) -- One of the biggest firms in Catanduanes voluntarily absorbed its 231 contractual workers, contributing to half of the total workers regularized in the Bicol region since start of the campaign against "Endo" or contractualization by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Bicol.

Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, DOLE-Bicol officer-in-charge regional director, said the move of the Cua Group of Companies to regularize 231 workers in its businesses in shipping, dockside work and office management is more than good news.

“It means that we are on the right track in addressing this Endo issue here in Bicol,” Trayvilla said in a news release issued today.

She said, including the 231, there are now 552 contract workers who have been voluntarily absorbed by principal employers since the start of the Endo campaign in Bicol when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency.

Trayvilla, quoting a report of DOLE Catanduanes, said the Cua Group had released the appointment papers of their employees last October 1.

She said even even prior to the regional consultation on “Endo” last Sept. 1 at the Legazpi City Convention Center, top executives of the Cua Group had decided to support the Endo campaign by regularizing its 231 contractual employees.

“In fact, a focused group meeting with the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry was held on Aug. 12 at the Virac town Center to discuss the regularization of contract employees not just by the said company but in the entire province,” said Trayvilla.

Christine Cua, vice president for finance of the Cua Group of Companies, said they had hoped to become a role model in the business community when they regularized their workers.

“We want to show to Catandungans our sincerity in upholding the security of tenure of our workers,” she said.

Trayilla said she hopes the move of the Cua Group will inspire other big firms in Bicol to follow.

She said she expects an increase in the total of 552 contract workers voluntarily absorbed by principal employers since start of the Endo campaign in Bicol.

“The number is expected to rise even higher within the week since other DOLE provincial offices have yet to submit their reports,” said Trayvilla.

She said DOLE-Bicol has just finished its Endo provincial consultations in Camarines Norte and Masbate last week with a consultation in Sorsogon next in the schedule.

“Our aim in these consultations is to inform our principal employers that it’s better to voluntarily absorb workers rather than wait for us to issue a compliance order on Endo,” Trayvilla stressed.

Prior to the regional consultation on Endo on Sept. 1, DOLE-Bicol gave establishments, local companies and manpower agencies engaging in ENDO until December this year to voluntarily absorb their workers.

But prompted by a pronouncement early this month of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to speed-up the issue on Endo, which is also known as Labor Only Contracting or LOC, DOLE Bicol has announced that after appropriate proceedings, they will be issuing compliance orders for companies.

Trayvilla said that to date, DOLE-Bicol has not yet issued any compliance order for ENDO as all the 552 workers were absorbed voluntarily.

She added, however, that by the end of October, DOLE-Bicol will start giving compliance orders.

“Let me warn those hard-headed companies that when October ends ... if we find out that you’re practicing ENDO and have not come complied voluntarily, then expect a compliance order from us,” said Trayvilla.

She said the 552 workers voluntarily absorbed by their employers in the Bicol region comprised five percent of the total absorbed workers nationwide.

Trayvilla cited the “national total tally of Endo of DOLE Central Office through its Labor Communications Office is nearly 10,000 as of Sept. 30.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/GINA V. RODRIGUEZ/EDS

Legazpi City starts assessment of drug surrenderers
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 18 (PNA)--The Legazpi city government, through the City Health Office (CHO) and City Social Welfare and Development Office, has started assessing over 2,000 drug dependents who had voluntarily surrendered to police officials since start of the illegal drug campaign in July, said Dr. Fulbert Gillego, CHO chief.

He said collated records at the City Police Office showed that as of Oct. 18, there were 2,467 drug dependents who voluntarily surrendered to local authorities, 2,326 of them were male and 141 female.

Gillego said 271 of the drug surrenderers were pushers while 2,196 were drug users.

“There were also 62 minors among those who surrendered to authorities,” he said.

Gillego said the medical teams they formed will categorize the drug dependents as either severe or mild cases.

Those identified as severe cases will be referred to the Malinao Rehabilitation Center for treatment while those deemed to be mild cases will undergo counseling and given livelihood activities.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, Tabaco City Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro and Ligao City Mayor Patricia Alsua held a meeting recently with officials of the Department of Health-Bicol so that immediate intervention could be given to the drug surrenderers.

Rosal said all officials in the city’s 70 villages, from the village chief to the village watchmen, and city employees have undergone drug tests.

He said those who have yet to submit to tests should schedule tests to erase doubts on their involvement in illegal drug use.

Rosal urged the police to continue the illegal drug campaign of the Duterte administration to help reduce drug-related crimes in the country.

Chief Insp. Errol Garchitorena, Legazpi city police chief, said they are conducting house-to-house visits of all identified pushers and users in the barangays as part of Oplan double barrel and Operation Tokhang.

He said police officers have been disseminating information in the villages on the ill effects of illegal drugs while continuing with their search and seizure operations on known drug dens. (PNA) RMA/GVR/EPS/EDS

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

400 passengers stranded in Albay, Catanduanes ports due to 'Lawin'

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct.18, (PNA) -- Some 400 passengers as well as 35 trucks, buses and cars, and seven ships were stranded on Tuesday in the ports of Tabaco in Albay and San Andres in Catanduanes, after the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal (TCWS) No. 1 over Catanduanes as typhoon 'Lawin' (Haima) intensified while traversing the Philippine Sea.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional director, said the Philippine Coast Guard cancelled all inbound and outbound vessels sailing in Catanduanes following the raising of the storm signal.

He said the cancellation of trips to and from Catanduanes took effect at 7:00 a.m. with 350 passengers, 24 trucks, buses and cars and five ships put on hold at Tabaco Port in Albay while 50 passengers, 11 trucks, buses and cars and two ships were not allowed to sail at San Andres port in Catanduanes.

Alejandro warned fishermen in the coastal towns of Catanduanes not to go out at sea as strong waves are expected to occur as the typhoon hovers the province on Tuesday.

The state weather bureau raised the storm signal at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday to indicate that the typhoon has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility. 'Lawin' has winds of up to 185 kilometers per hours near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph.

The eye of the typhoon was located 1,075 kms east of Daet, Camarines Norte and is moving west northwest at 24 kph.

Aside from Catanduanes, TCWS No. 1 is hoisted over Cagayan, Isabela and Northern Aurora. (PNA) BNB/GVR/MSA/EBP

Miss World Philippines Catriona Gray celebrates victory in Albay
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 17 (PNA) -- Newly crowned Miss World Philippines 2016 Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray trooped to her hometown in Oas, Albay, on Monday for a victory celebration before leaving for the international pageant in Washington D.C.

Gray’s mother, Normita Ragas Magnayon, a native of Barangay Ilaor, Oas town, comes from a family of musicians.

Here in Albay for a four-day visit, Gray arrived on Friday in this city where she made courtesy calls to Mayor Noel Rosal and Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara.

Albay Rep. Jose Salceda (second district) and Rep. Fernando Gonzalez (third district) lined up several events for Gray in the course of her visit to Albay that ends Monday.

Gray said while representing the country in the global arena, she would showcase the country’s economic gains in Southeast Asia, tourism destinations and rich culture and traditions.

“We have postcard-worthy destinations. We have a beautiful country and Filipinos are loving and very welcoming,” she said.

When asked to comment on President Robrigo Duterte’s rejection of the Paris climate agreement inked last December on the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Gray said that climate change needed long term action and the “President as a leader needs to focus on pressing issues right now.”

She said every Filipino could lessen his carbon foot prints by saving water and properly disposing of his garbage.

Gray said she had an advocacy to help raise funds to build a school in a slum area in Tondo so poor children could have access to education.

Cory Quirino, national director of Miss World Philippines, who flew in to Legazpi City along with Gray, has predicted that Gray will bring home the crown as Miss World.

She said within four hours of Gray’s winning her photo was uploaded by Miss World in its social media account, “which is an indication that Gray is an early favorite among the candidates.”

Quirino said they needed the support of Filipinos around the world to like and vote for her on social media.

“That’s why we’re so excited… grateful and we need Congressman Joey Salceda because he’s number one in social media…and helping Catriona,” she said.

Quirino called on Filipinos in the US, Canada and all over the world to go to Washington D.C. to be part of the Philippine contingent in supporting Miss Philippines in the Miss World pageant in December.

Miss World is the oldest and biggest beauty pageant in the world with 120 countries joining it. It was established in 1951 in London or one year ahead of the Miss Universe pageant. (PNA) RMA/RBB/EDS

3 nabbed with 'shabu', guns, explosives in Bato, Camarines Sur
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 17 (PNA) -- Anti-narcotics lawmen arrested three suspected drug peddlers found with "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) guns and hand grenades in Bato, Camarines Sur over the weekend, said a report that reached the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) Monday.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the lawmen arrested Manuel Lauta, 47, and two companions in a raid in his house at Sitio Maogmang Kulod, Barangay Tres Reyes, Bato at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Police identified Lauta’s two other companions as Rosemarie Tumbado, 37, and Jomar Santor, 25.

The operatives seized from the suspects nine sachets of shabu, drug paraphernalia, three pieces of 12-gauge shotguns, two .38-caliber revolvers, ammunition for the two firearms and three hand grenades.

Calubaquib said the joint team which conducted the raid were from the Bato Municipal Police Office, Provincial Intelligence Branch, Regional Anti Illegal Drug Special Operation Task Group and Regional Intelligence Division.

She said the suspects would face charges for violations of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002 and RA 10591 or Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition and Providing Penalties Thereof. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/EDS

Monday, October 17, 2016

Over PHP500-M agricultural produce destroyed by 'Karen' in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 17 (PNA) -- The Office of Civil Defense (OCD)in Bicol on Monday estimated initial losses of half a billion pesos or PHP571 million worth of agriculture products after typhoon Karen pummeled the region on Saturday.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, OCD-Bicol head, said the initial crop damage indicated that moderate rains poured by the typhoon had affected 16,352 hectares of rice land or an equivalent of PHP334 million production losses, 1,400-ha of high value crops or production losses of PHP210 million, and corn production losses of PHP36 million.

He said Camarines Sur suffered the most with PHP419,392,834 worth agricultural produce destroyed, followed by Albay - PHP68,149,711, Sorsogon – PHP59,217,858, and Camarines Norte - PHP1,980,194.

Alejandro said the damage to agriculture is expected to rise as OCD-Bicol still awaits the reports from the island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate.

“We expect more damage from Catanduanes as typhoon Karen hovered the province, bringing heavy rains that brought flooding and landslides in the area,” he said.

Some 6,068 families or 24,528 persons staying in 182 evacuation centers across Bicol had returned to their homes on Sunday.

Government engineers have cleared roads hit by landslides in San Andres and Gigmoto towns in Catanduanes; Irosin, Sorsogon; and in Cataingan Masbate.

So far, power was already restored in Catanduanes and in 10 towns of Camarines Sur, three towns in Camarines Norte, two towns in Sorsogon and some areas in Albay. (PNA) BNB/MSA/EDS

Mt. Bulusan explodes anew, its second in one month

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 17 (PNA) -- Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon has exploded anew, sending a kilometer-high white grayish cloud into the air that lasted for 24 minutes Monday morning, its second this month, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

“Though the event was a minor phreatic eruption that is produced by steam the volcano’s restiveness has remained,” said Eduardo Laguerta, Phivolcs’ resident volcanologist.

Bulusan volcano’s eruption on Monday is the second this month after the first on Oct. 6 but it is the 20th eruption since May last year, he said.

Phivolcs’ monitoring instruments recorded 24 volcanic earthquakes during the past 24-hour period, its 8 a.m. bulletin said.

Laguerta said the earthquakes were triggered by rock fracturing due to the hydrothermal pressure that has developed in the volcano’s vent which also generates the phreatic or steam-driven explosion.

Aside from the quakes that shook the volcano it also emitted 79 tonnes of sulfur dioxide which Laguerta said was of “normal value.”

Alert Level 1 (abnormal), which was hoisted over Bulusan volcano in September to denote its restiveness, remains in effect.

The public are reminded not to enter the designated four-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone due to the possibility of sudden and hazardous phreatic eruptions.

Civil aviation authorities advised pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden phreatic eruption could be hazardous to aircrafts.

Residents near river channels, especially on the southwest and northwest sectors of the volcano’s slopes should be cautious against lahar flows in the event of heavy rains and prolonged rainfall, added Phivolcs. (PNA) JMC/GVR/MSA/EDS

OCD-Bicol: Nearly 3,800 stranded passengers allowed to sail

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 16 (PNA) -- As the weather normalizes in the Bicol Region, disaster authorities on Sunday allowed 3,732 stranded passengers to travel from the ports of Albay, Masbate, Catanduanes and Camarines Sur to sail, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said.

The Philippine Coast Guard gave the green light after the local weather bureau announced in its 8:00 a.m. advisory that Bicol region’s weather is back to normal, according to Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, OCD-Bicol director.

“It is a normal practice that we allow passengers to leave and ships to sail following the lifting of all public storm warning signals over the region,” he said in a phone interview.

Alejandro said majority of the passengers who were allowed to sail were bound for Samar and Leyte provinces in the Visayas.

He said as weather has improved various Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (PDRRMC) and Municipal DRRMCs could start decamping the 1,566 families or 7,380 persons who sought refuge in various evacuation centers in Albay, Camarines provinces, Catanduanes and Sorsogon.

OCD-Bicol’s initial report on Sunday indicated that 12 towns in Bicol were affected by floodings brought by the downpour spawned by typhoon Karen on Saturday.

Landslide hit San Andres and Gigmoto towns in Catanduanes and Irosin town in Sorsogon.

Total power blackout has been reported in the entire province of Catanduanes since Saturday while power outages affected 10 towns in Camarines Sur, three towns in Camarines Norte, two towns in Sorsogon and some areas in Albay.

Alejandro said the Catanduanes DRRMC is still validating reports of two-typhoon related deaths and three missing fishermen. But flight operations of commercial aircrafts to and from the region is back to normal. (PNA) BNB/MSA/RSM

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Proposed anti-discrimination bill wins support from Bicol multisectoral groups
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 14 (PNA)— Multisectoral groups from various Bicol provinces, who joined a regional workshop and forum organized by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), expressed full support for the passage in Congress of the proposed Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Act of 2016.

Representatives from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, youth and student organizations, who attended the forum held here Thursday, pledged to urge Congress to fast track the deliberations on the proposed bill.

The measure will prohibit discrimination for various reasons such as age, race, religious belief, political inclination, social class, gender, sexual orientation, marital status and disability.

CHR Bicol Director Arlene Alangco said several suggestions and issues were tackled during the forum, that aimed to get the support of all sectors for the enactment of the proposed bill.

She said the participants presented concerns such as discrimination in the employment of elders, person with disabilities and women who are ex-convicts.

“Bullying among indigenous people, the giving of scholarships only to bright individuals, non-involvement of the youth in government planning, poor compliance to giving access to the disabled in buildings and gender inequality were also raised,” Alangco said.

“The recommendations of the participants will be forwarded by the CHR regional office to the House of Representatives and considered for inclusion in the draft proposed bill,” she said.

Ako Bikol Rep. Rodel Batocabe told participants that as co-author of the bill he wants to introduce a gender sensitive curriculum so there will be a “culture of change.”

“If we want to eradicate discrimination, we should start from the young and the venue for this is the educational institution,” he said.

Edith Manila, vice president of Bicol Senior Federation, said they will pass a resolution supporting the bill’s approval.

She said the elders should help re-fashion the future of the young people since “we were born first so we should be able to do something for them” (tayo ang naunang ipinanganak, kaya dapat may magawa tayo para sa kanila).

Albay Board Member Job Belen said he will pass a separate provincial resolution supporting the enactment of the bill.

Rosalie Maestrado, the only indigenous person elected as council woman in the village of Santiago, Iriga City, told participants that she used to cry over the discrimination that they experienced.

“Before, I was afraid to ask help from the village chief because we were being ignored. Even my child was bullied in school,” (Dati kahit paghingi ng tulong sa barangay official natatakot ako kasi hindi naman kami pinapansin, at pati mga anak ko na bully sa school) she said.

Maestrado said, however, that they will continue to fight for their rights and “the bill has offered big hopes of ending the discrimination against indigenous people (pero itong bill na ito malaking bagay para matigil na ang discrimination sa mga minorya).” (PNA) FPV/GVR/Mike de la Rama/SGP

Friday, October 14, 2016

OCD-Bicol: 1,045 passengers stranded in Bicol
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct.14, (PNA) -- The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said 1,045 passengers have been stranded in Bicol ports as of 9 a.m. today after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) suspended sailing of sea vessels due to rough weather brought by tropical storm Karen.

OCD-Bicol director Bernardo Alejandro, quoting a PCG report, said the port in Albay has 621 stranded, Sorsogon-343, Catanduanes-20, and Masbate-61.

He added that there were also 37 buses, trucks and cars and 10 sea vessels stranded in the ports.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical, Services Administration (Pagasa) said estimated amount of rainfall is from moderate to heavy within the 400-kilometer diameter of the tropical storm.

Pagasa said fisherfolk should not venture out to the eastern seaboard of central and southern Luzon and over the northern and eastern seaboards of eastern Visayas because of high waves.

Alejandro said there are 28,700 family food packs and 1,500 sacks of NFA rice available at the warehouse of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in its regional office here.

He said non-food items such as 258,137 pieces of malong, 2,836 rolls of laminated sacks, 1,830 pieces of plastic mats, 1,784 mosquito nets and 1,784 blankets are also available and ready for distribution anytime. (PNA) FPV/GVR/JR/EBP

Bicol braces for TS 'Karen'

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct.14, (PNA) -- Some 10 families or 50 persons living along river channels near Mount Bulusan in Irosin, Sorsogon were evacuated on Friday due to threats of possible lahar flows spawned by rains brought by tropical storm Karen, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) said Friday.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical, Services Administration (Pagasa) placed the Bicol provinces of Catanduanes under tropical cyclone warning signal (TCWS) number 2 and Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay and Sorsogon under TCWS signal number 1 due to Karen.

The evacuation was a preemptive and precautionary measure carried out at 7 a.m. Friday by the Irosin MDRRMC to keep villagers along river channels safe from flooding and lahar flows, according to Bernardo Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Bicol director and RDRRMC chair.

He said some 360 passengers were stranded while 37 buses, trucks, cars and six sea vessels were put on hold in the ports of Tabaco in Albay; Virac, Catanduanes;and Pilar in Sorsogon.

The Philippine Coast Guard suspended sailing of all types of sea vessels following the hoisting of storm signals in the Bicol provinces.

Alejandro, quoting a PCG report, said as of 5 a.m. Friday, most of the stranded passengers were bound for Catanduanes while 134 passengers were bound for Samar and Leyte provinces.

Classes were suspended in all levels in Bicol’s six provinces, he said.

The OCD reactivated its Operation Center and placed it under “blue” alert status, which means disaster agencies and assets are on standby 24/7.

Alejandro said he issued a disaster bulletin to the six Provincial DRRMC’s to likewise be on blue alert and closely monitor the weather situation and immediately coordinate with the RDRRMC once the weather condition worsens.

Albay PDRRMC issued on Thursday an advisory to the 15 Municipal DRRMCs and three city DRRMCs to be on 24/7 alert for possible flooding, lahar flows and landslides.

Villagers living near Mt. Mayon were warned not to enter the six-kilometer designated Permanent Danger Zone. They were also advised not to cross swollen rivers should rain intensifies.

Both Mt. Mayon and Mt.Bulusan are in restive state and have been placed on alert level one status since September. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/EDS

Albay police say over 150 village execs in its drug watchlist
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 13 (PNA) -- More than 150 village office officials, most of them councilmen, watchmen (tanod) and village chiefs, are involved in the illegal drug trade in Albay province, said an official of the Albay Provincial Police Office (PPO).

Arthur Gomez, spokesperson of Albay PPO, said they have listed over 150 village officials who have surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNP) since the illegal drug campaign started on July 1 up to the present.

He said there are 77 village councilmen, 57 watchmen and 19 village chiefs, 2 treasurers and 3 secretaries or a total of 158 village officials in their drug watchlist.

Gomez added that they have recorded two councilors in the watchlist in the municipal level.

One of the village officials involved in illegal drug trade was Rommel Marticio, head of Barangay Inarado in Daraga town who was killed in a buy bust operation Tuesday afternoon.

Gomez said Marticio, who was in the drug watch list of the PNP two years ago, surrendered under Oplan Tokhang but had continued with his drug peddling activities.

Sr. Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquid, spokesperson of Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5), said 63 people were killed while 46,000 surrendered in the region during the illegal drug campaign from July 1 to Oct 11.

She said over 600 were arrested and 63 killed in the police operations.

Calubaquib said elected officials and government employees were among the more than 400 drug personalities who had surrendered.

Chief Supt. Melvin Buenafe, director of the Bicol police, regional director, said the public officials who surrendered showed willingness to be rehabilitated but he stressed the need for immediate intervention.

“Considering the limited rehabilitation facilities and resources the surrenderers should be assessed and their problem addressed accordingly,” he said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/RBB/EDS

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Death toll rises in anti-drug war in Bicol
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 12, (PNA) -- The death toll in the government’s war against illegal drugs in Bicol continue to rise with 63 deaths, including the recent death of a village chief in Daraga, Albay, a top official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol said Wednesday.

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, Bicol police regional director, said the anti-illegal drug campaign in Bicol went full steam from July until Oct 11 with 600 drug personalities arrested, of whom 63 were killed in police operations.

Buenafe identified the recent fatality as Rommel Marticio, a village chief of Barangay (village) Inarado, Daraga town in Albay.

Quoting a police report, Buenafe said the victim resisted arrest and drew his .38-caliber revolver at a policemen posing as a buyer on Tuesday afternoon in his house in the village of Inarado.

“This forced police narcotics operatives to shoot the suspect, killing him instantly,” said Buenafe.

The victim was a suspected illegal drug peddler, whose name was in the provincial illegal drug watch list and among the “high value targets” wanted by the police, said Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, chief of the investigation division of the Albay Provincial Police Office.

Recovered from the victim were a sachet of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride), drug paraphernalia, his .38-cal. and live ammunitions.

Gomez said the suspect was under surveillance before the operation by the combined elements of the Regional Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operation Task Group, Regional Intelligence Unit, Provincial Intelligence Branch,Provincial Public Safety Company, Military Intelligence Branch and Daraga Municipal Police Office.

Buenafe said “the war on drugs was overwhelming that it significantly brought down the region’s crime incidents by 13 percent.”

He said the crime volume in Bicol drastically dropped from 3,031 during the period July to Sept last year to 2,646 for the same period this year.

Citing the achievements of Oplan Tokhang, he said there were 46,000 drug personalities who voluntarily surrendered.

He said elected officials and government employees were among the over 400 drug personalities who had surrendered. (PNA) FPV/GVR/JH/MSA/EDS

Construction of SM City Legazpi mall starts January 2017
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 11 (PNA) -- SM Prime Holdings, owner of the country’s premier shopping malls, will break the ground on the P1.5-billion SM City Legazpi in January 2017, Mayor Noel Rosal said Tuesday.

He said the company, which is one of the biggest shopping mall operators in Southeast Asia, is in the last stage of processing the necessary documents and permits to prepare for the construction.

Rosal said the city administration and SM management are now looking for a temporary transport terminal before civil works for the project could start.

The mall will be located within the 4.5-hectare area adjacent to the City Central Terminal complex and Ibalong Centrum for Recreation, which is at the heart of the city’s commercial district in Barangay Bitano.

SM City Legazpi, a four-level structure, will house a department store, supermarket, cyberzone, appliance center and a five-level car park, “among other world class lifestyle amenities,” said the developer.

Rosal said the mall is expected to provide around 3,000 jobs to Legazpeños and residents from neighboring municipalities.

He said the Gokongwei Group of Companies is also planning to construct in the city the Robinson’s Galleria de Legazpi, which is patterned after the Robinsons Galleria de Cebu.

Rosal said this will also be located at the adjacent area of the city’s grand terminal in Barangay Bitano.

The four-level shopping mall, which will have a multi-level parking area will house the Summit Hotel, Go Hotel and a Business Process Outsourcing center.

There are now five malls operating in Legazpi City, including the Gaisano Mall owned by the Cebu City-based Gaisano family and the LCC (Liberty Commercial Center)-Ayala twin malls being managed by the Tan Family with the Ayala Group of Companies as its partner.

The other malls that also recently opened in the city include Yashano Mall that is owned by the Hong Family and 101 mall which is owned by a local businessman.

Expected to open in December is the Gregorian Mall, a public-private partnership of the city government and WholeGrain Land Inc. that is located at Old Albay District across the provincial capitol. It will house a city museum and a sports activity center.

Rosal said the entry of giant business groups in Legazpi signifies the city as a center of investment in Bicol with the city’s neighboring municipalities and provinces expected to be a strong market for these groups.

He said these businesses will create more employment opportunities for the community and contribute to the city’s local coffers by way of business taxes that the city can use for health and social services, infrastructure and environmental projects for its constituents. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/EDS

Albay solon cites Duterte’s anti-drug campaign for protecting the next generation of Filipinos
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 11 (PNA) -- Albay (second district) Rep. Joey Salceda said President Rodrigo Duterte’s first 100 days in office was highlighted by his anti-drug campaign, a legacy to the next generation of Filipinos.

“The President is protecting the next generation of Filipinos because if the drug contagion will be allowed to spread the children will be exposed even before birth,” he said.

Salceda said as drug incidence went down by 80 percent the crime volume in the country dipped by 31 percent while the crime against persons was reduced by 39 percent.

He said the weakening of the Philippine currency does not have a significant effect on the country’s economy.

“As an economist, the weakening of the peso is no Duterte factor as the fallen stock market is just a reaction to the interest rate of the United States,” said Salceda.

He said the pinch is felt so much more in other countries, citing Mexico as being in a “worst” situation while “in the emerging markets, the Philippines is not at par.”

Salceda also lauded the administration’s independent foreign policy, immediate action on the “Freedom of Information” through an executive order and the move to curb “endo” (end of contract) “with 11,000 contractuals already regularized.”

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 as the highest, the Albay solon said he is giving the President a satisfactory rating of 8 “because for a short period of time” he was able to push for an indefinite ceasefire with the National Democratic Front, Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA).

Salceda noted the ongoing resumption of peace talks with the NDF-CPP-NPA. (PNA) JMC/GVR/RBB/EDS

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sorsogon teacher giving reading lessons on a raft, honored as one of 'Many Faces of Teachers'
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 10 (PNA) -- Ryan Homan, a teacher from Donsol, Sorsogon, was honored by an education development organization as one of the “many faces of teachers” for his novel community reading projects, among them a “balsa-basa” initiative that brings together poor children from the hinterland for weekend reading classes on a raft.

Homan, 31, a school principal of San Jose Elementary School in Donsol, was honored last week as one of the four winners across the country of Bato Balani Foundation’s “Many Faces of the Teachers” project.

According to Ruby K. Austria, PR consultant of Diwa Learning Systems and Bato Balani Foundation, Homan was recognized for his notable project aimed at uplifting the reading habit and knowledge of poor children in the far-flung villages of Donsol.

“This educator went to great lengths just to teach the children in his community how to read. To date, he has involved students, parents and teachers in his school and community-based reading crusade,” she said.

Homan, son of the village chief in Barangay San Jose in Donsol, who has made it his mission to spend extra time with kids who need a little more help with their lessons, conceptualized three reading projects in 2013.

One of these is the “walk for knowledge,” in which the teachers take a long walk to reach a student’s house for tutorials while another is the “bankaaraman,” wherein a student’s house is reached through a boat.

The third concept is the “balsa-basa,” coined from the Filipino words “balsa” (raft) and “basa” (read) whereby the raft picks up the pupils from their houses along the river. For around five hours in the morning, Homan and a co-teacher read books to the children and teach them lessons.

At the San Jose Elementary School, the pupils have reading stations with different challenges such as a word hunt or a reading bingo to make reading also fun for the children.

Homan also introduced home-based reading corners wherein households are encouraged to have reading corners for children.

Educo Foundation, a non-governmental organization here in Legazpi, which aims to improve education in the countryside, and the Department of Education in Bicol have also commended Homan for his innovative reading projects.

Homan said he plans to conduct a seminar-orientation for other public schools about his undertakings “to inspire them to do something that will change the lives of the Filipino youth.”

Austria said aside from Homan, who was cited as a “reading innovator,” Batobalani’s other three winners were “community biochemist Vivian Topor, guitar maestro Jose Valdez and values advocate Suzanne Rivera.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/RBB/EDS

Head of barangay captains' group in Bicol gunned down
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 10 (PNA) -- The president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) in Bicol died on the spot after a lone gunman riddled his body with bullets, said a report that reached the regional police office Monday.

ABC-Bicol president, Joel O. Briones, 47, was shot eight times in different parts of the body as he was sitting in front of a sari-sari store after attending a barangay assembly in Barangay Tinagonan, Donsol in Sorsogon province at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, said regional police spokesperson, Sr. Insp. Malou Calubaquib.

Recovered from the crime scene were eight empty shells of a .45-caliber pistol.

Calubaquib said the alleged gunman, identified as Edgar Magtibay alias Edgar Garcia, 48, is a notorious drug personality in their village who earlier surrendered under the police’s Oplan Tokhang. He fled the scene of the crime.

Sr. Insp. Joel Trinanes, acting chief of the Donsol Police, said revenge could be the motive for the killing due to Briones’ active role in the anti-illegal drug campaign.

Trinanes said the suspect probably believes that Briones tipped off his name to police officers as one of the drug personalities in their village.

Last July, Briones represented ABC-Bicol in signing an agreement with regional police director, Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, to support the Philippine National Police’s campaign to eradicate the drug menace in the region. (PNA) CVL/GVR/JH/EDS

Mindanao IP holding protest caravan arrive in Bicol
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 10 (PNA) -- Militant activists from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)- Bicol warmly welcomed thousands of indigenous people (IP) belonging to the Bansa Moro and Lumad tribes in Mindanao who arrived on Monday at Matnog Port in Sorsogon for a protest caravan asking the government to protect their ancestral domain rights.

Vince Casilihan, Bayan Bicol spokesperson, said 38 passenger buses and seven vans carrying thousands of IP on board Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) sea vessels from Tacloban City arrived at 6 a.m. Monday at the port in Matnog.

He said the Mindanao caravan led by Sultan Maskasalong, a tribal leader of Bansang Moro in Northern Mindanao, is set to hold rallies in the cities of Sorsogon, Legazpi and Naga as part of their protest action in Bicol.

Casilihan said the group will hold a torch parade in Naga City and will rest overnight at the Jesse Robredo Coliseum.

On Tuesday, the caravan will proceed to Barangay Tabugon, Sta Elena town in Camarines Norte, where they will converge with other IP groups from Quezon, Mindoro and Romblon.

The caravan dubbed as "Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpasya at Makatarungan Kapayapan" (Lakbayan of the indigenous people for self-determination and a just peace) will ask President Rodrigo Duterte's administration to end the human rights abuses committed against the IP.

Upon reaching Metro Manila, the caravan will stay at the University of the Philippine in Diliman, Quezon City for a series of forums and dialogues.

Their culminating event is a march to Malacanang on October 21 for an audience with the President.

The group will ask President Duterte to push for programs that would help the IP strengthen and protect their rights with respect to ancestral domain, religion, culture and seek justice for the killings of Lumads and other tribal groups.

They will also urge the chief executive to put an end to the economic and environmental blunders committed by private mining companies and government officials.

The Mindanao Caravan started on Friday from the Soccsksargen region (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani provinces and General Santos City), from where they proceeded to Zamboanga, Maguindanao, Lanao, Bukidnon, Cagayan De Oro, Surigao City and Tacloban City. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/EDS

Monday, October 10, 2016

DOST puts up 57th “library in a box” called Starbooks in Bicol
By Gina V. Rodriguez

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 7, (PNA)—-The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Bicol has now installed 57 so-called “libraries in a box,” known as STARBOOKS (Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosk Station), in the Bicol Region since it was conceived five years ago, an agency official said.

“The last eight STARBOOKS, which were installed in September in Iriga City, Camarines Sur, had added up to the 49 previously installed in the Bicol region, for a total of 57,” said Rafaelita Lucena, public information officer of DOST-Bicol, in a news release Saturday.

The digital science and technology library is a computer server which was developed in 2011 by the DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute (STII). Lucena said that as of July the agency has installed 965 STARBOOKS in various parts of the country.

Accessible even if there is no internet, STARBOOKS has rich materials sourced from local and foreign linkages, subscriptions, archive collections and in-house publications.

Browsing of its contents, which are in various formats--text and video/audio, are easy because of their user-friendly interfaces.

It has Encyclopedia Britannica in its collection with its contents categorized into elementary, high school and college levels.

The server, pegged as a “stand-alone information kiosk” by the agency, also has how-to videos on livelihood opportunities called “Tamang DOSTkarte Livelihood Videos” that were produced by DOST’s Technology Resource Center.

STII said that STARBOOKS sought to stimulate curious minds into developing new ideas and inspire their entrepreneurial and research spirit.

In Iriga City, the setting up of STARBOOKS in eight schools was initiated by Gerson Cepe, current state auditor of the DOST-National Research Council of the Philippines and formerly with DOST-STII.

Lucena said this was part of Cepe’s “social and humanitarian advocacy.”

The Iriga City schools who benefited from the project were Iriga Central School (ICS), University of Northeastern Philippines, La Anunciacion Elementary School, Sta. Justina East Elementary School, La Medalla Elementary School, Iriga South Central School (ISCS), Iriga North Central School, and Cawayan Elementary School (CES).

Lucena said Lloyd Frederick Mandapat and Legee Boy Valmoria of DOST-STII provided the “hands-on session and demonstration and one-on-one administration training” to 40 participants during the orientation and installation of the computer servers held on September 7 at ICS.

Pamela Dreo and Mirasol Fernandez, the team from DOST-Bicol in charge of STARBOOKS, assisted in the training and demonstration while the ceremonial signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOU) with the schools was witnessed by Patrocinio Felizmenio, director of the Provincial Science and Technology Center of Camarines Sur.

Dreo emphasized the roles of the STARBOOKS base schools while Felizmenio stressed how the schools could “have their kind of science and technology service extended to the community.”

Crestito Morillo, schools division superintendent, Department of Education-Schools Division of Iriga City, along with school principals and teachers from the eight schools graced the orientation session.

During the Iriga event DOST-Bicol Regional Director Tomas Briñas cited the importance of STARBOOKS in the “pursuit of quality education towards a science and technology career in the future and for the country’s human resource development and nation building.” (PNA) RMA/GVR/cbd

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cops seize 'shabu', gun from staff of Masbate provincial body vs crimes

DIMASALANG, Masbate, Oct. 6 (PNA) —- A staff member of a body created by the Masbate provincial government to curb crimes was arrested in Dimasalang, Masbate for possession of illegal drugs and firearms, said a report that reached the Dimasalang Municipal Police Office (MPO) Thursday.

Senior Insp. Aldrin Rosales, officer-in-charge of Dimasalang MPO, said Agapito Perez, a staff of the Provincial Operation for Socio-Economic Development and Against Crimes or POSDAC, was arrested at dawn on October 5 in his house in Barangay Gaid, Dimasalang.

Rosales said the lawmen seized two plastic sachets of "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride), drug paraphernalia, a .45-caliber and hand grenade from Perez, alias "Pito", 34.

Among those who arrested Perez were police from the Regional Intelligence Division-Masbate Provincial Police Safety Company, Regional Public Safety Battalion, Masbate Provincial Police Office and Dimasalang MPO.

They issued a search warrant from Judge Teofilo B. Tambago of Regional Trial Court Branch 46 in Masbate City.

Perez will face charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms Law. (PNA) LAP/GVR/NBT/CBD

Thursday, October 6, 2016

DOLE-Bicol notes increase in local firms absorbing contract workers as regular employees
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 6 (PNA)—-The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Bicol reported an increase in the number of private companies in Bicol voluntarily absorbing their contract workers as regular employees in response to the government’s call for an end to contractualization.

DOLE Regional Director Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla said they have recorded 285 contract workers who were absorbed by 24 local firms or principals from all over the region as regular employees.

She said the move of the private firms to regularize their employees is a positive response to the call of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to put a stop to contractualization or “endo” (end-of-contract).

“Actually, we were expecting this to happen. We know that our local firms would understand the context of ‘endo’ and will positively react to it,” Trayvilla said.

She said the number of local companies voluntarily absorbing their contract employees “have at least doubled” after DOLE Bicol publicly announced the first three companies which voluntarily absorbed their employees after a regional consultation with DOLE.

DOLE Bicol earlier announced that at least 50 percent of the recorded contract workers must be absorbed by the principals before the end of 2016. The agency, however, has yet to release official figures on the number of these workers.

Trayvilla said the newly absorbed contract workers were from shopping malls, restaurants, manufacturing, distribution and sales sectors, an electric cooperative, and even from a national government agency,”

She said she hopes other establishments would follow in voluntarily absorbing their workers.

“As I always say, we are all Bicolanos and I am appealing to the principals as a Bicolano so that they (principal) would absorb workers voluntarily,” she added.

DOLE-Bicol reiterated that it will be more beneficial to both the manpower agency and the principal to voluntarily absorb workers rather than wait for DOLE Bicol to rule a “Labor-Only-Contracting (LOC),” which means the firms will be obliged to hire the workers on a permanent basis.

Trayvilla said if the principal voluntarily absorbs its workers, DOLE-Bicol may even give some incentives like giving monetary benefits to the firms.

“This is better compared to issuing a compliance order in which the process would have to be followed,” she said.

Meanwhile, some 10 manpower agencies went to DOLE Bicol early last week to seek clarification on the “endo.” (PNA) FPV/GVR/CBD

Mt. Bulusan erupts anew but Phivolcs says its 'minor'

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct.6 (PNA)--Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon erupted anew early morning Thursday but scientists described the steam-driven or phreatic eruption that lasted for around 15 minutes as “minor.”

“The explosion today was only of low energy though observed with a long duration,” said Eduardo Laguerta, resident volcanologist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

He said the minor phreatic eruption could not be observed due to thick clouds covering the summit.

Laguerta said if it were a high-intensity eruption, no large volume of thick clouds could cover the ash plume spewed as high as five kilometers above the summit.

Phivolcs in its bulletin today said Mt. Bulusan recorded 40 volcanic earthquakes and a short harmonic tremor.

It said rumbling sounds were heard in Barangay San Roque in Bulusan town while ashfalls reached some areas in Gubat, Sorsogon.

Laguerta said the harmonic tremor was not produced by magma building up inside but by the phreatic explosion due to hydrothermal pressure beneath the volcano.

“The harmonic tremor was due to an explosion which is of low intensity and should not be a cause for alarm,” he said.

Phivolcs has advised 188 families or 728 persons in Irosin town in Sorsogon to be cautious against sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and volcanic ash spewed by a fissure on the southeast portion of the slopes of Mt. Bulusan for the past seven days.

The Irosin Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management office told villagers of Barangay Mapaso to take precautions against respiratory illnesses that could be triggered by the volcanic ash and SO2 emissions.

Alex Baloloy, Phivolcs volcanologist, said a degassing episode at the fissure, 1.5 kms away from the volcano’s southeast summit, has reactivated.

“This (fissure) emits a low-lying plume with minor amounts of ash and gas creeping downslope that affect residents of Barangay Mapaso,” he said.

Barangay Mapaso is five kms away from Irosin town proper or 101 kms away from this city.

A Phivolcs advisory said the degassing episode, which has been observed since September 30, sent hundreds of villagers to complain about the foul odor brought about by the strong sulfuric odor emitted by the fissure.

Phivolcs said the fissure could have been reactivated by hydrothermal pressure and rock fracturing beneath the volcano’s vent.

This prompted the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) to send a team of health and environment personnel to determine the extent of hazard posed to the community by the volcanic gas and ash emission.

Alert level 1, indicating abnormal behavior, remains hoisted over Mt. Bulusan. The four-km Permanent Danger Zone remains off limits to residents living near the volcano. Authorities raised the alert level to 1 on Sept. 16.(PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/CBD

Phivolcs checks vent on Mt. Bulusan emitting large volume of gas, steam

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct.5 (PNA)—The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (RDRRMO) on Wednesday said scientists of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) are checking a vent on the slopes of Mount Bulusan in Barangay (village) Mapaso in Irosin, Sorsogon which is said to have emitted a large amount of ash laden steam and gas.

Eduardo Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, said volcanologists would immediately conduct an aerial survey to validate a report from the Irosin DRRMO that residents have been complaining of foul smell due to sulfur dioxide gas emissions at the volcano’s vent.

Laguerta said should the weather be good, volcanologists, health and environment officials would document if the reports were true.

“The documentation would determine and measure how much volume of steam and gas were emitted and if there were traces of ash in Barangay Mapaso,” he said.

The vent is located 1,200 meters at the slopes on the southeast flank of Mount Bulusan, some five kilometers away from Irosin town proper.

Jessar Adornado, Office of Civil Defense operation chief, quoting reports from the Irosin DRRMO said residents had complained of respiratory illness due to the foul smell.

A Phivolcs bulletin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday showed Bulusan volcano recorded 23 volcanic earthquakes in the the past 24 hours.

It said moderate emission of white steam plumes that crept downslope from the southeast vents was observed. Sulfur dioxide emission was measured at an average of 33 tonnes per day on September 22, 2016.

Alert Level 1 (abnormal) remains in effect over the volcano. The public is warned not to venture inside the four-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone due to sudden and hazardous steam driven or phreatic eruptions.

Phivolcs raised the alert to level 1 on Sept. 16 after an ash explosion that could lead to a phreatic eruption. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/CBD

Bicol police updates community on 'Oplan Double Barrel' through giant billboard
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 5 (PNA)—-A giant billboard at the entrance gate of the Bicol police headquarters in Camp Simeon Ola here is giving a daily report to the community on the illegal drug campaign.

The billboard gives an update on the number of those killed, arrested or who have surrendered as part of the illegal drug campaign "Project Double Barrel" and "Oplan Tokhang" that started July 1 up to the present.

"It is our obligation to provide Bicolanos with the latest information on the government’s campaign against illegal drugs in the region,” said Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, regional director of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5).

He said the billboard also served as a warning to the drug personalities still involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the region.

PRO5 provides information on its illegal drug campaign through daily news releases in print and broadcast media. It also has accounts in social media such as Facebook, viber and twitter.

Buenafe earlier said they were optimistic they could attain the six-month time frame given by President Rodrigo Duterte to eradicate the drug menace in some areas of the Bicol region.

PRO5 data from July 1 to October 4 showed there were 587 drug personalities arrested and 62 killed in the illegal drug campaign.

The same data said 1,839 sachets of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and 86 sachets of dried marijuana leaves were seized while 115 firearms, 39 vehicles and over Php 1 million cash were confiscated during the operations.

PRO5 recorded during the same period 45,893 surrenderers, of which 42,669 were users and 3,224 pushers.

Camarines Sur topped the list with 16,806 drug personalities who have surrendered, 12,234 in Albay, 6,300 in Camarines Norte, 4,235 in Masbate, 2,731 in Sorsogon, 1,769 in Catanduanes and 1,818 in Naga City, Camarines Sur. (PNA) RMA/GVR/JH/CBD

Suspected NPA rebel, 3 pals arrested in Sorsogon checkpoint
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 5 (PNA)--A suspected New People’s Army rebel and his three companions were arrested after evading a checkpoint put up by a joint team of policemen and soldiers in Magallanes, Sorsogon, said a report Wednesday that reached Camp Simeon Ola, headquarters of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) here.

Senior Insp. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the four tried to flee and execute a U-turn at a checkpoint in Barangay (Village) Aguada Norte, Magallanes at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, but a blocking force of soldiers and policemen was able to stop them.

Seized from them were a .45-caliber pistol, two magazines loaded with eight live ammunitions and a hand grenade.

The operatives also found subversive documents from the backpack of the suspects and cash money of PHP304,255.

Calubaquib identified the NPA guerrilla as Edwin Dematera alias Dupax, 44. Police said he has a warrant of arrest for murder.

His companions were Amador Benzon, 26, Eduardo Lactao Jr., 29, and Den Adrian Dela Cruz, 44.

The blocking force was composed of policemen from the Magallanes Municipal Police Office, Provincial Public Safety Company, Provincial Intelligence Branch of Sorsogon Provincial Police Office and government troopers from the Army’s 31st Infantry Batallion.

Calubaquib said the police and soldiers received information that the suspects were travelling on board a tricycle from Juban town to the poblacion of Magallanes so they set up the checkpoint.

The four suspects, who are now under the custody of the Magallanes police, will face charges for violations of Republic Act 10591 or illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions and RA 9156 or illegal possession of explosives. (PNA) FPV/GVR/JH/CBD

5th most wanted in Bicol drug watchlist nabbed in Legazpi City
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 5 (PNA) —- Anti-narcotics lawmen arrested Wednesday the fifth most wanted in the illegal drug watch list of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) in Barangay Oro Site in this city.

Senior Insp. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said a combined team of operatives swooped down on the house of Minsuary Cadayon alias "Minsoy," 27, at Purok 1, Barangay Oro Site on Wednesday morning and arrested him for possession of illegal drugs.

The lawmen seized six sachets of suspected shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride), aluminum foils and other drug paraphernalia from Cadayon.

Calubaquib said Cadayon is one of the three regional drug personalities who are subject of surveillance operation in the village.

She said Cadayon’s older brother Ameroding was arrested by anti-narcotics policemen in Barangay Arimbay, Legazpi City on October 7, 2011 for possession of illegal drugs while his father Amir was also nabbed in 2014 for the same offense.

Calubaquib said Cadayon was under surveillance by the Legazpi City Police Office (CPO) and Albay Provincial Police Office (PPO) after police received reports from villagers about the illegal drug trade in Barangay Oro Site.

After confirming the reports, operatives from Legazpi (CPO), the Provincial Intelligence Branch, Regional Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operation Task Group and 5th Regional Public Safety Battallion under Senior Supt. Antonino Cirujales, director of Albay PPO, conducted the raid on Cadayon’s house.

The lawmen issued a search warrant from Judge Alben C. Rabe of Tabaco City Regional Trial Court Branch 15.

Cirujales said Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal and Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara personally requested them to give special attention to Barangay Oro Site because of the rampant illegal drug trade in the area. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Anri-narcotics lawmen nab 11, including 5 minors, while in pot session in Iriga City
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 4 (PNA) -— Anti-narcotics lawmen swooped down on a house converted as a drug den in Iriga City, Camarines Sur, and arrested 11 suspected drug users, including five minors, while in the act of sniffing "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride), said a report reaching the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) Tuesday.

PRO5 spokesperson Senior Insp. Ma.Luisa Calubaquib said the suspects were placed under surveillance before their arrest in the house in Barangay (village) San Francisco, Iriga City around 4 a.m. on Monday.

She said the lawmen seized seven sachets of suspected shabu and four sachets of dried marijuana from the suspects.

Calubaquib identified the suspects as Rosa Dize, 44, allegedly the drug den operator, Shabina Lacap, 21, Michael Olea, 26, all residents of Barangay San Francisco; Maricel Ramboyong, 24, Roberto Lucena III, 20, both residents of Barangay San Jose, Iriga City; and Jonathan Baita, 19, of Barangay San Juan, Baao, Camarines Sur.

There were also five minors arrested, who were identified only by their aliases Wally, Candy and Arianna — all three are 17 years old; Melvin, 15, and Mayla, 13. The five minors are residents of Barangay San Francisco.

Calubaquib said some villagers provided information to the police operatives on the pot sessions in the village.

She said after confirming the reports, joint elements of the Iriga City Police Office, Regional Anti-illegal Drug Special Operation Task Force Group, Provincial Intelligence Branch and Camarines Sur Provincial Public Safety Company under Supt. Alex Pederio conducted the raid.

They presented a search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 35 Judge Salve Eva Villareal-Dimabayao.

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, PRO5 regional director, in an interview, said they are optimistic they can attain the six-month time frame given by President Rodrigo Duterte to eradicate the illegal drug problem, especially in some areas in the Bicol region.

He said the Sorsogon Provincial Police Office headed by Senior Supt. Ronaldo Cabral has arrested the 465 suspects listed in its provincial drug watch list under Project: Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang.

"They are now concentrating on arresting the ‘new players’ in the drug trade in Sorsogon that were given to them by their informants.

Calubaquib said nearly all the 8,079 listed in the drug watch lists in the Bicol region have been arrested while some had surrendered to police authorities and local government officials.

She said 46,858 drug personalities have surrendered in the Bicol region since July 1, the start of the illegal drug campaign, until Oct. 4, while 62 suspected drug users and pushers were killed during the campaign. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

DSWD sends drinking water to 3 Albay towns under state of calamity
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 4 (PNA) --- The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Bicol (DSWD-5) is distributing potable water amounting to PHP800,000 to over 20,000 families or 108,000 persons in three northeastern municipalities in Albay affected by a severe water supply shortage since last month.

The municipalities of Sto.Domingo, Malilipot and Tiwi declared states of calamity in September, after the drying up of natural springs which are major sources of water supply in these areas, DSWD-Bicol Director Arnel Garcia said Tuesday.

He said 55 barangays with more than 22,560 families or 108,358 persons in the three municipalities towns have been affected.

The cause of the drying up of water sources in the three towns has yet to be ascertained but some have attributed these to the recent activities of Mayon Volcano.

Mayon was put on alert level one status on Sept. 8, that indicated abnormalities in the volcano’s behavior.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), however, has not confirmed any direct connection between Mayon’s new alert status and the drying up of water sources in the three towns.

Garcia said DSWD-Bicol’s assistance, which has now amounted to PHP800,124, is in the form 10,258 pieces of six-liter bottled water that are being distributed to the three towns.

He said DSWD is continuously coordinating with the affected local government units to alleviate the scarce water supply situation in the areas.

“Water, especially potable water, is a basic necessity — it’s a human right. We cannot afford any delay in the delivery of services to the people affected,” said Garcia.

In Sto. Domingo, where 24,290 persons or 5,129 families in 17 barangays are affected, the local government passed a resolution on September 21 declaring a state of calamity.

Villagers tapped into alternate sources such as deep wells to cope with the situation.

In Tiwi town, DSWD-5 said 8,800 families or 44,000 persons from 20 barangays are affected by the water shortage.

The local government declared a state of calamity on Sept. 28 due to rising temperatures in the past few months that caused damage to crops and decrease in the supply of drinking water.

In Malilipot town, 8,631 families or 40,068 persons in over 18 barangays are affected by the water shortage.

Additional water provisions are being given by the Bureau of Fire Protection in Santo Domingo and neighboring Tabaco City to the affected municipalities. (PNA) FPV/GVR/CBD

Monday, October 3, 2016

Father of most wanted gang leader in Albay shot dead
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 3 (PNA) -- The father of the leader of an organized crime group operating in Albay and other parts of Bicol was killed on the spot when a lone gunman shot him in different parts of the body over the weekend in Libon, Albay, police said Monday.

A report from the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) said Chief Insp. Eduardo Azotea, Libon police chief, identified the victim as Ramon L. Concepcion, 60, father of Gilbert Concepcion, leader of the Concepcion gun-for-hire and robbery-holdup group and tagged as the most wanted person in Albay.

Police authorities said Gilbert's group was responsible for the killing of former Makati City engineer Nelson Morales in front of a church in Malinao, Albay on September 7, 2012. Morales was a close aide of former Vice President Jejomar Binay when the latter was mayor of Makati City.

Azotea said Ramon was shot while standing in front of their house in Barangay (village) of Molosbolos in Libon at 8 a.m. on Saturday. He is also the husband of Asuncion Concepcion, barangay chief of Malosbolos.

“The gunman approached Ramon and fired successive shots at him,” said Azotea.

A joint team of the 83rd Infantry Batallion of the Army under 2Lt. Marlon Urbano, Libon Municipal Police Office (MPO) and Albay Provincial Police Office (PPO) Public Safety Company led by Insp. Joseph Laurio immediately proceeded to the crime scene to investigate the killing, according to Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, head of the investigation division of Albay PPO.

Gomez said, however, that the family of the victim refused to cooperate in the investigation.

He said the family refused to send the victim's body for autopsy.

“The family also recovered the empty shells of the firearm used by the gunman but they do not want to turn it over to police investigators," he added.

Azotea said investigation is ongoing as to the motive for the killing but the Libon MPO is on alert for possible retaliatory attacks from Gilbert’s group because of the shooting incident.

Gilbert has a bounty on his head of P1 million and has warrants of arrest for cases of multiple murder and rape.

Police said the Concepcion group is responsible for the killing of Senior Insp. Joerem Kallos, former deputy chief of police of Libon MPO on Dec. 29, 2015.

Kallos was shot dead while conducting a checkpoint as his fellow policemen were serving an arrest warrant against Gilbert at a village road in Sitio Pinagbadilan in Barangay Buga in Libon.

Gilbert’s brother Ramson, also a gang member, was killed by operatives on Nov. 27, 2014 in Barangay Buga during a running gun battle after policemen tried to arrest Ramson when the latter staged a holdup in the village of Matacon in Polangui, Albay. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Local execs of Albay join hands vs looming power cut off

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 3 (PNA) -- Local officials in Albay have joined hands to address the threat of a total power cut off in December from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) should the Albay Power Energy Corp. (APEC) fail to collect the outstanding bill of P1.8 billion from its consumers.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara, in a phone interview, said if APEC would not be able to solve this problem, he would bring the matter to President Rodrigo Duterte and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

He said APEC’s operations showed signs of mismanagement as reflected in the “poor performance of its billing and collection system.”

“The LGU’s (local government units) hands are tied in helping them collect the outstanding bills from the consumers,” said Bichara.

He said the LGU could only refer the list of unpaid bills to local executives but APEC has to do the actual collection.

Bichara said he met with the local town and city chief executives about the impending power blackout in December.

“We are fully supporting APEC but there should have some improvement in their collection and billing system,” he said.

Albay third district Representative Fernando Gonzalez, in a text message, said blaming each other will not resolve the problem.

“Let us work together to resolve it. APEC has to improve its billing system to make collections more effective,” he said.

Pat Gutierrez, APEC public affairs consultant, said NGCP recently served a notice to APEC to settle its outstanding account or face a power cut off in the entire province of Albay on December 22.

She said APEC has around P1.8 billion in collectibles from the 180,000 consumers in Albay’s 15 towns and three cities.

Gutierrez said that only 30 percent of its customers regularly pay their power bills while the 70 percent are deemed as “customers of not good standing.”

She said APEC needs to raise 50 percent or P900 million to save the province from the looming power blackout in December.

APEC, a subsidiary of San Miguel Energy Corp. (SMEC), took over the operation of the financially strapped Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) in 2014 after entering into a 25-year management contract with ALECO.

But APEC has been saddled with poor billing and collection system, frequent power outages and high system losses.

SMEC has been helping subsidize APEC with its power bills but it recently served notice it could no longer continue doing this because of overhead expenses incurred in its other energy ventures.

Gutierrez said SMEC advised APEC that to sustain its operations it has to do better in its billing and collection efforts. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD