Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cagsawa Ruins joins 'Orange you Icon' campaign to end violence vs women

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 23 (PNA) -- Cagsawa Ruins park in Barangay Busay, Daraga, Albay will glow with the orange color on November 25 as it becomes part of Department of Tourism (DOT)-Bicol and Philippine Commission on Women’s (PCW) launch of “Orange your Icons” campaign to end “Violence Against Women” or VAW.

"Orange is a bright color that will create awareness among the public on the advocacy,” said Maria Salee Mora, DOT-Bicol tourism officer.

She said Cagsawa park like other tourism sites, landmarks and icons in every region in the country will simultaneously shine with the orange color on Nov. 25.

Mora said these tourist attractions that are rich in history and culture, will be illuminated by the orange color for 18 days, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 12, to generate public interest in the VAW campaign.

She said every year, PCW has a partner agency for the campaign which is in solidarity with the United Nations’ “Unite to end VAW campaign.”

Mora said this year, DOT has joined the collective effort to pursue the vision of a VAW-free community.

PCW, in its website, noted that even as the tourism industry has created economic opportunities for women, who make up between 60 to 70 percent of all workers in the tourism industry in the world, they have become victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking that form of the larger social issue referred to as VAW.

Mora said DOT expects from 500 to 800 participants from the academe, local government units, non-government organizations and national government agencies who will join the ceremonial lighting of the Cagsawa ruins park on the evening of Nov. 25.

She said Tourism Undersecretary Alma Rita Jimenez is expected to lead the ceremonial lighting along with the directors of government line agencies in Bicol and the mayors of Legazpi City, host municipality of Daraga and Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JORGE HALLARE/EDS

Member of notorious Concepcion crime group killed in Libon, Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- A member of the notorious Concepcion criminal group was killed, another member of the group was captured while a policeman was injured in a firefight that ensued when a combined group of operatives swooped down on a house, that is said to be the safehouse of the group, in a remote village in Libon, Albay Monday evening, an Albay police official said today.

Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, head of the investigation division and information officer of Albay Provincial Police Office, said the lawmen were to issue a warrant of arrest against Gilbert Concepcion, head of the crime group, at a house in Barangay Nogpo, Libon at 10 p.m.

“But before reaching the targeted house in Nogpo a group of gunmen, who were having a drinking spree, fired upon the operatives and a four-minute firefight ensued,” said Gomez.

Slain in the gun battle was Jose Delos Reyes, 50, tagged as a member of the criminal gang, while Alfredo Mata, another member of the group, was captured during the firefight and now facing charges of illegal possession of firearm

Wounded in the gunfight was PO2 Manolo Nierva of the 5th Regional Public Safety Batallion (RPSB). He suffered a gunshot wound in his right arm and is now undergoing treatment at a hospital in Albay.

Gomez said four other other men were held for questioning at the Libon Municipal Police Office.

He said the combined team of 30 operatives, who conducted the raid in Barangay Nogpo, were from the 5th RPSB, Albay Provincial Public Safety Company, Provincial Intelligence Branch and Libon Municipal Police Office.

Gomez said Gilbert Concepcion has standing warrants of arrest for seven cases of rape and murder from different regional trial courts, including the murder case of former Makati City engineer Nelson Morales.

The operatives are still conducting hot pursuit operationS against the gang members in the hinterlands of Libon town. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/JORGE HALLARE/EDS

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Legazpi City’s high quality slaughterhouse to become operational in January

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- The rehabilitation and improvement of the city slaughterhouse is now nearly 70 percent complete and the facility is expected to become operational by January next year, Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal said.

He said the project aims to make the existing slaughterhouse meet the “Double AA” standard required by the National Meat Inspection Services (NMIS).

“If the civil works of the project reaches 75 percent we will ask the Commission on Audit (COA) in this city to issue a certification as a proof of accomplishment to be submitted to the COA national office, said Rosal in an interview.

He said the city government has earmarked Php17 million for the civil works of the abattoir project while the Department of Agriculture will give Php 5 million to the city administration as its counterpart fund after completion of the project as stated in a memorandum of agreement between the two parties.

Rosal said the project will have a water treatment facility for the proper disposal of waste materials from the abattoir to prevent contaminating water in the surroundings.

Dr. Nancy Andes, head of the City Veterinary Office (CVO), who will handle operations of the abattoir, said the double AA slaughterhouse is expected to generate income of around Php 10 million yearly for the city.

She said it will also serve neighboring towns and big establishments in the city which will need its services such as Robinsons, Metro Gaisano, LCC Ayala Malls and other establishments selling meat to the public.

Andes said the slaughterhouse will ensure disease-free meat because of regular inspection services to be conducted by CVO and NMIS.

These services include “ante mortem” or inspection of the live animal before its slaughter, “post mortem” or inspection on animals slaughtered and “post abattoir” or inspection to be done at marketplaces, groceries and barangay meat vendors’ stalls.

Andes said CVO now has two butchers ready to be trained by NMIS on the operations of the double AA slaughterhouse.

Two resolutions, that were adopted by the City Legislative Council during its regular session on Jan. 26 and signed by Mayor Rosal on February 3, had helped make the slaughterhouse project possible. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EMMANUEL P. SOLIS/EDS

PopCom-Bicol seeks support to lower maternal deaths to 52 per 100,000 live births in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) —- The head of the Population Commission (PopCom) in Bicol is seeking support anew from health workers, policy planners and pregnant women themselves to help reduce the rising cases of maternal deaths in the region.

"Under the government's new ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ or SDG program, we are targeting to lower maternal mortality to 52 deaths per 100,000 live births," PopCom Bicol Director Magdalena Abellera said in an interview.

SDGs, otherwise known as the “Global Goals,” are universal calls to action to promote development that are being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 170 countries.

Abellera said maternal mortality, which was recorded at 99 per 100,000 live births in the Bicol region in 2010, increased to 221 per 100,000 in 2011.

She said the main causes of maternal deaths are complications that arise during pregnancy, in the course of labor, delivery and post delivery, and abortion.

Records showed that young mothers, aged 19 years old and below, who constitute a big number of the pregnant women in Bicol, contribute to the maternal death cases.

"The reproductive age of female persons is from 15 years old to 49 years old but nowadays there have been cases of a 9-year-old and a 10-year-old (in Bicol) who got pregnant," she said.

Abellera said these young mothers are not mature enough and prone to danger because their bodies are not yet ready to get pregnant.

She noted the thinning of the uterus of the young mothers after four deliveries that could create complications and lead to their deaths.

“The families of these young mothers have big roles to play so they can get education about safe pregnancy and delivery of the babies,” said Abellera.

She said the government has been “strongly discouraging” the mothers from delivering inside their houses with the "hilot" (village healers) as birth attendants.

“It is highly recommended to give birth in private or government hospitals,” said Abellera.

She added it is very for important for pregnant mothers to visit health workers or doctors regularly for prenatal check up to ensure their good health and that of their babies.

During a regional congress on adolescent health and environment held November 18 in Daraga, Albay, Rosalinda Marcelino, former PopCom executive deputy director, stressed the importance of encouraging the participation of everyone in pushing the government’s new SDG program.

The 17 goals under the new SDG program, which came into effect in January 2016, guides UNDP policy and funding for the next 15 years. UNDP provides support to governments to integrate the SDGs into their national development plans and policies.

“The new SDG program tackles the environment and how it contributes to the health and resources of the population,” said Marcelino.

Agnes Espinas, director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Bicol, said government agencies nowadays are giving importance to policies in relation to population, health and environment.

"The population is increasing so we have to utilize our resources to cope with the needS of the population,” she said.

Dave Plopino, nurse 5 of the Department of Health in Bicol, added that the environment should be “livable” since a polluted environment, whether through water or air pollution, contributes to sickness among pregnant women. (PNA) LAP/JORGE HALLARE/SSC

Sorsogon town mayor heeds Ombudsman dismissal order; files motion for reconsideration

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) —- A town mayor of Sorsogon, who stepped down from office after a dismissal order from the Office of the Ombudsman was served to her last week by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Bicol, said she has filed two filed two motions for reconsideration with the Ombudsman for the cases she is facing.

Zalman Uddin, chief of DILG–Bicol’s legal department, said Mayor Helen De Castro of Bulan town in Sorsogon, was removed from her post after the Ombudsman found out that the construction of the P32.9-million Bulan Integrated Bus Terminal project in 2007 and the P4.9-million town slaughterhouse were tainted with defects and irregularities.

De Castro, 65, in an interview Monday, said she filed the motions for reconsideration on November 2 and 8.

“That’s the reason I did not receive the Ombudsman order, there are still pending motions for reconsideration,” she said.

De Castro said should the Ombudsman deny her appeal, she would elevate the case to the Court of Appeals.

Uddin said the dismissal order had cited De Castro and her co-accused municipal engineer Toby Gonzales Jr. for committing “administrative acts that were prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and serious dishonesty in pursuing the two projects in Bulan.

The DILG team led by DILG-Bicol Director Eloisa Pastor served the dismissal order against De Castro at her office on Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. But De Castro had asked that she be allowed not to personally receive the order due to “legal technicalities.”

Her request was heeded by the DILG team which instead posted a copy of the dismissal order at the municipal bulletin board, which Uddin said was among the standard procedures in serving an order.

The posting of the order was followed by the turnover of the mayoral post to Vice Mayor Romeo Gordula as acting mayor and town councilor Jeofry Azur as acting vice mayor.

De Castro said she did not resist the dismissal order served on her as the complaint was just a simple offense since she was performing “ministerial functions” with regards to the documents being questioned.

She said the “technical aspects (of the case) had been remedied and that wala naman akong tinatago (I am not hiding anything).”

She said complainant Romeo Valeriano had an ax to grind against her concerning past differences between their families, with “politics seemingly at play" in the case.

Uddin said De Castro has the right to seek legal remedies to get back her elective mayoral post by submitting an appeal or a motion for reconsideration with the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman order had exonerated the other members of the town’s Bids and Awards Committee who were included in the complaint sheet.

According to the Ombudsman decision, a Commission on Audit (COA) report had said the P32.9 million cost of the construction of the bus terminal was overpriced by 26.79 percent or by P6.9 million as compared to COA’s estimated cost of P26 million.

The 16-page decision was approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Sept. 23. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/EBP

Monday, November 21, 2016

DSWD-Bicol gives P3-M fund for sustainable livelihood program

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol has been pouring P3 million for a sustainable livelihood program that aims to ease poverty and hunger in the region, said its top official in the region.

Arnel Garcia, DSWD Bicol director, said the P3-million budget was released by DSWD for livelihood projects that fall under its “Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty” (PAHP) program.

He said the projects focus mostly on high value vegetable production that use organic farming as a method and for trainings on the production of community-based small-scale seaweed value added products or those which use seaweeds as a major ingredient, such as pancit, seaweeds, pickles, chips, puto and spring rolls.

Garcia said the program also provide trainings on dried anchovies production.

He said the livelihood projects have been pilot-tested in Bicol, wherein DSWD’s supplementary feeding program for day care centers are linked to the Department of Agrarian Reform’s support services program for their agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations or ARBOs, Department of Agriculture and local government units.

“These agencies have created greater synergy in engaging the poor households by working closely with rural communities to improve their social capital while addressing hunger and alleviating poverty in the community,” said Garcia.

He said PAHP seeks to create the essential social infrastructure to improve access of rural households to basic services and facilitate investments in the rural economy.

Garcia said to implement PAHP a memorandum of understanding was forged between the DSWD, DAR and DA last June.

He said PAHP is currently being piloted in Bicol and in Eastern Visayas and Zamboanga peninsula.

Garcia said in Bicol, the program is being implemented in Camarines Sur, particularly in the towns of Pili, Canaman, Ocampo, Bomboa and Calabanga; and in Sorsogon in Castilla town.

“It will soon be implemented in Camarines Norte, (also in Bicol),” he said.

Garcia said community based service providers and farm service providers now provide the needed food items required in day care centers and supervised neighborhood play (SNP) areas under the supplementary feeding program and other government food related programs.

“It is envisioned that PAHP will expand nationwide where the ARBOs, sustainable livelihood Program associations, cooperatives and other qualified farmers’ organizations will provide essential food items required for feeding the children in day care centers and SNP areas while improving farm productions,” he said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/RHAYDZ B. BARCIA/EBP

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mayor acts on street sign 'renaming' avenue that created buzz among Legazpi City netizens
By Gina V. Rodriguez

LEGAZP1 CITY, Nov. 18 (PNA) —- Reports on Friday morning said Mayor Noel Rosal has called the attention of a project contractor to correct a street sign that has caused confusion among the public here.

This, as museum curator Apo Gonzales posted a photo on Facebook that went viral on social media this week after it showed a newly put up street sign mistakenly identifying a major thoroughfare in the city.

Gonzales was referring to the sign, which he said should be Imelda Roces, not Imelda Marcos Avenue. Imelda C. Roces is the late and former mayor of Legazpi City, whose dedication to public service was recognized through the street sign named after her on May 2014.

Imelda Marcos is the widow of deposed Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos who was buried Friday at the Libingan ng mga Bayani following a ruling from the Supreme Court despite protests from the victims of his martial rule and their families.

Set against a background of green and white colors, the directional sign that created the stir shows three arrows to the left pointing to three city landmarks. The top arrow points to the “Central Bus Terminal,” middle arrow to “Our Lady of Fatima Church,” and bottom arrow to “Imelda Marcos Avenue.”

When Gonzales first posted the wrong street sign on Tuesday, it was posted by 200 others with 73 comments from netizens in Legazpi City.

The street sign is located in a corner of Vel Amor Subd. in Barangay 18, Cabangan, Legazpi City.

“Dapat Imelda Papin (the famous Bicolana singer),” Caesar M. Ortega said in jest as he cited the Legazpi City map that points to Imelda Roces Ave. as running from Vel Amor Subd. to Lakandula Drive.

Formerly Tahao Road, Imelda Roces Ave. is a street perpendicular to Rizal Street and Lakandula Drive.

“Du30 joke lang naman daw po hehehe,” wrote Alexander Jao.

“Su …proofreader na overwhelm garu kan SC ruling over Marcos burial at Libingan hehe,” (the proofreader was overwhelmed by the SC ruling…) said Edgar Alejo.

In his post, Antonio Fernandez Reyes Jr. said Mayor Rosal has called the attention of the billboard’s project coordinator.

The coordinator said they have seen the viral photo in Facebook and that “we are having this corrected now.”

Dar Perez Jr. added they have already informed the artist shop group responsible for the mistake. “Expect that action will be made,” he said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EDS

Salceda says infrastructure spending hastened PHL economic growth in Q3

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 18 (PNA) -- Albay second district Rep. Joey S. Salceda said the infrastructure spending, peace initiatives and economic reforms of the Department of Budget and Management under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte have helped spur the fast economic growth of the country in the third quarter this year.

According to a report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Philippine economy grew by 7.1 percent in the third quarter of 2016, much better than China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. It noted that the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product or GDP was higher than China’s 6.7 percent, Vietnam’s 6.4 percent, Indonesia’s 5 percent and Malaysia’s 4.3 percent.

Salceda said the Philippines showed the fastest growth in Asia with “83 percent in the national government’s infrastructure spending in September …indicative of the third quarter’s performance.”

He cited the big contributions of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to government’s coffers as another factor for this fast economic growth. Salceda said the OFWs, who constitute the “bulwark” of the new administration’s support have remained “strong contributors” for the higher growth.

He said the new government’s peace initiatives with the communist rebels and the Muslim groups have also earned “dividends” for the administration and “should boost business activities and investments in so-called “green field areas.”

Salceda added that the fast economic growth “on the supply side… was led by manufacturing's resurgence with industry growth of 8.6 percent now exceeding services at 6.9 percent" while citing the modest recovery of agriculture. (PNA) LAP/RHAYDZ B. BARCIA/RSM

Thursday, November 17, 2016

PNP, Army in Bicol, Calabarzon undergo post blast investigation course to cope with bomb threats

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 17 (PNA) --Some 57 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Army and other law enforcement agencies from Bicol and the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) regions are undergoing post blast investigation course at the Police Regional Office-Bicol (PRO5) headquarters here to help them handle bomb threats and bombing incidents.

Senior Inspector Ma.Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the course, that runs from November 14 to 25 at Camp Simeon Ola, headquarters of PRO5 in this city, is intended to enhance the capability of the military and law enforcement agencies in intelligence gathering and handling of bomb scares and incidences of explosions.

She said the participants are members of intelligence operatives, Special Warfare and Armed Tactics or SWAT, explosives ordnance division (EOD) of the Bicol and Calabarzon police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Directorate for Intelligence, Regional Special Training Unit-5, National Bureau of Investigation-5 and EOD Battalion of the 9th Infantry Division of the Army.

Calubaquib said police and military officers who have the expertise on intelligence gathering and bombs are handling the course.

She said the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other law enforcement agencies want to address the recent bomb scare in Luzon, especially in Bicol and Calabarzon regions.

Two weeks ago, some government agencies in Albay such as the Department of Interior and Local Government regional office, malls and schools received a bomb threat through text messages.

Investigation, however, showed it was a prank.

"Because of the bombing incident in Mindanao and the recent bomb threats in Luzon from a suspected terrorist group and lawless elements, we cannot disregard the possibility of terrorist attacks,” Calubaquib added. (PNA) ZST/GVR/JORGE HALLARE/EDS

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Salceda: Space agency for Philippines now a must
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) -- Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has filed a bill in Congress that seeks to establish the country’s space development and utilization policy and create the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) as the primary state agency that will spearhead the program of space access, science and technology applications.

The measure, House Bill No. 4367, also referred to as the “Philippine Space Act of 2016,” serves as a response to the country’s growing need for a secure and independent access to space through the establishment of its own space policy and space agency. As conceived, PhilSA will be the central state agency that will address all national issues and concerns related to space science and technology applications, and safeguard the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and interests.

Salceda said PhilSA shall be the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing and administrative body of the executive branch of government that will plan, develop, and promote a national space program in line with the Philippine Space Policy.

He noted that space technology has become ubiquitous so that many vital and modern activities would not operate without space systems, such as satellites, to provide capabilities in communications, navigation, environmental monitoring and disaster assessment, and defense and security, “This makes space infrastructure and capabilities as indispensable assets and an essential requirements for any modern country,” he added.

As a developing country and an emerging economic powerhouse in the Asia-Pacific region, Salceda said it is crucial for the Philippines to embark on an efficient utilization of space science and technology applications to address various national development and security issues and keep up with the rest of the world that is gradually becoming more space capable.

He said the “creation of a national space policy to serve as the Philippines’ primary strategic roadmap for space development will embody the goal of the country to become a space-capable and space-faring nation”.

The establishment of PhilSA to address space-related issues, advance space science and technology research, coordinate all national space activities, and provide a framework for harmonious cooperation will ensure the country’s space development goals are realized. With a strong national space policy and agency, the Philippines can become a significant member and contributor to the global space community in the future, he added.

As defined, HB 4367 aims to safeguard Philippine sovereignty, territorial integrity, interest, and the right to self determination as mandated under Article II, section 7 of the 1987 Constitution; support and commit to the development of science and technology and its application for national security and for the benefits of Filipinos; ensure access to space and its environs as a sovereign right; and stipulate the need to create a national strategy for space development.

The bill also seeks to: recognize the urgent need to create a coherent and unified program and strategy for space development and utilization to keep up with other nations in terms of space science and technology; ensure the country’s official representation in the international space community for establishing cooperation agreements and linkages on space development; and ensure that the Philippines abides by the various international space treaties and principles promulgated by the United Nations and is an active participant in the international space community. (PNA) LAP/JCN/SSC

7 hurt as fire razes building housing armory inside Masbate provincial police compound

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) -- A four-hour fire razed an old building that houses seven offices, including an armory, inside the compound of Camp Bonny Serrano, headquarters of the provincial police in Masbate City, at dawn on Tuesday, a top official of the police in Bicol said.

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, Bicol police director, said seven people living nearby were hit by shrapnel and debris when the armory containing grenades and ammunition exploded after the fire hit the supply room.

He said the fire broke out shortly before 2 a.m. and was declared fire out at 5 a.m.

Aside from the supply room, the blaze engulfed the provincial crime laboratory, intelligence unit, Police Community Relations Branch, Women and Children's Desk, Provincial Internal Affairs office and National Police Commission provincial office.

Buenafe, quoting a Bureau of Fire Protection report, said faulty electrical connections at the office of the intelligence branch could have caused the fire at the 50-year-old building.

Senior Supt. Jerry Biares, Masbate provincial police director, said they are still accounting for the damage due to the fire.

He said the Explosive Ordnance Division was clearing first reports from the crime laboratory that an M203 grenade was stored in the area.

“Probers were not allowed in this area for fear of another bomb explosion,” said Biares.

The burned structure sits in a 100-square-meter lot inside the compound of the provincial police headquarters.

Buenafe said the seven people hurt in the explosion were rushed to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

They were identified as Clara Otic, 25; Andrino Ayeng, 27; Lenita Mojado, 25; and Michael, 37, Maricel, 32, Seferino, 36, Ceperino, 30—-all surnamed Baranggan. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA&JH/EDS

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Salceda: Space agency for Philippines now a must
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) -- Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has filed a bill in Congress that seeks to establish the country’s space development and utilization policy and create the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) as the primary state agency that will spearhead the program of space access, science and technology applications.

The measure, House Bill No. 4367, also referred to as the “Philippine Space Act of 2016,” serves as a response to the country’s growing need for a secure and independent access to space through the establishment of its own space policy and space agency. As conceived, PhilSA will be the central state agency that will address all national issues and concerns related to space science and technology applications, and safeguard the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and interests.

Salceda said PhilSA shall be the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing and administrative body of the executive branch of government that will plan, develop, and promote a national space program in line with the Philippine Space Policy.

He noted that space technology has become ubiquitous so that many vital and modern activities would not operate without space systems, such as satellites, to provide capabilities in communications, navigation, environmental monitoring and disaster assessment, and defense and security, “This makes space infrastructure and capabilities as indispensable assets and an essential requirements for any modern country,” he added.

As a developing country and an emerging economic powerhouse in the Asia-Pacific region, Salceda said it is crucial for the Philippines to embark on an efficient utilization of space science and technology applications to address various national development and security issues and keep up with the rest of the world that is gradually becoming more space capable.

He said the “creation of a national space policy to serve as the Philippines’ primary strategic roadmap for space development will embody the goal of the country to become a space-capable and space-faring nation”.

The establishment of PhilSA to address space-related issues, advance space science and technology research, coordinate all national space activities, and provide a framework for harmonious cooperation will ensure the country’s space development goals are realized. With a strong national space policy and agency, the Philippines can become a significant member and contributor to the global space community in the future, he added.

As defined, HB 4367 aims to safeguard Philippine sovereignty, territorial integrity, interest, and the right to self determination as mandated under Article II, section 7 of the 1987 Constitution; support and commit to the development of science and technology and its application for national security and for the benefits of Filipinos; ensure access to space and its environs as a sovereign right; and stipulate the need to create a national strategy for space development.

The bill also seeks to: recognize the urgent need to create a coherent and unified program and strategy for space development and utilization to keep up with other nations in terms of space science and technology; ensure the country’s official representation in the international space community for establishing cooperation agreements and linkages on space development; and ensure that the Philippines abides by the various international space treaties and principles promulgated by the United Nations and is an active participant in the international space community. (PNA) LAP/JCN/SSC

LGBT group in Albay seeks separate custodial cell from male inmates
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 14 (PNA) -- A representative of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Group (LGBT) in Albay has asked a top Philippine National Police (PNP) official engaged in human rights affairs to provide them with a custodial cell separate from the male offenders in various municipal police offices in the province.

Rolando Riva, known as "Tots", chairperson of Gayon Inc. in Albay, made the request to Chief Supt. Dennis A. Siervo, chief of Human Rights Advocates Office in Camp Crame.

Riva said they are not asking for special treatment, only “fair treatment” for LGBT members facing charges and held at PNP custodial centers in various police stations in Albay.

He said there were instances when LGBT members were sexually abused and maltreated inside the custodial cells for men.

Riva said people have a negative notion that “we are happy to be jailed along with men.”

He is also asking for PNCOs or Police Non-Commissioned Officers, who are members of the LGBT community, to be assigned in the investigation division so the “rights of LGBT offenders as human beings will not be violated.”

Riva cited some “abusive or offensive words suffered by an LGBT from a male investigator of the Tabaco City Police Office during the investigation of an LGBT member who was killed in Tabaco City last year.

Siervo told Riva the PNP’s current budget has no allotment for the construction of additional custodial facilities for the LGBT group.

He admitted, however, of cases recorded in Camp Crame wherein some gay inmates were sexually abused by male inmates inside their facilities.

"This is also our problem on how to look at of the security of gay inmates, especially in overcrowded custodial cells,” said Siervo.

He said the LGBT could not be separated from the male inmates because of lack of spaces and custodial facilities.

“Our cell facility is intended only for the temporary custody of suspects but it is not a facility for inmates like those under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology,” said Siervo.

Atty. Arlene Alangco, regional director of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Bicol, instead advised the PNP to "focus on the security of the inmates,” in their custodial facilities.

The multisectoral forum on human rights, which was held Nov. 10 here, was attended by representatives from the ranks of students, media, Moslem groups, nongovernment organizations and government agencies such as the Bureau of Jail and Management Penology, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and CHR. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/EDS

Monday, November 14, 2016

Albay public can view Nov. 14 supermoon in PAGASA-Legazpi
By Alan Tan

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 14 (PNA) -- The public in Albay will get to see the biggest and brightest supermoon in nearly 70 years tonight (Monday) at the facility of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Legazpi.

Ariel Zamudio, weather forecaster of PAGASA-Legazpi, said the supermoon, which is a full moon that appears larger and brighter than normal, is a phenomenon because the last time this happened was on January 26, 1948.

He said with the aid of a telescope and “if good weather will prevail,” the public will have a visual feast watching the Nov. 14 supermoon because the “moon will appear 30 percent brighter and 14 per cent bigger.”

Zamudio said this happens when when the moon is closest to earth or when the full moon falls on the same day as the perigee.

“The perigee or the closest distance between the earth and the moon will occur at 7:21 p.m. on Monday or two hours before full moon at 9:20 p.m.” he said Zamudio.

He said this will not come again until Nov. 26, 2034.

November’s supermoon is the second of three in 2016, the first of which happened on Oct. 16 and the final will occur on Dec. 13. While one of three supermoons in 2016, Nov. 14’s supermoon is the largest one since 1948 said the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. (PNA) LAP/GVR/AT/EDS

Albay exec asks DENR chief to check rehab plan of decommissioned mine site in Rapu-Rapu, Albay
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 14(PNA) —- A provincial government official of Albay is asking Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez to check if proper rehabilitation is being done at a decommissioned mine site in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, particularly in three villages, which were most disturbed by past mine activities.

Provincial Board Member Raul Rosal of the second district of Albay, who heads the environment committee of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council), said they plan to present to Lopez the committee resolution on how the mine site could be properly revived, especially the most affected villages of Binosawan, Pagcolbon and Malobago in the island town of Rapu-Rapu.

The committee had initially addressed the resolution to the Contingent Liability on Rehabilitation Steering Fund Committee (CLRSFC) which is the government body overseeing the rehabilitation program in the mining site.

CLRSFC is composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, its two attached agencies—Environmental Management Bureau and Mines and Geosciences Bureau; Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and other government agencies.

In 2005, Australian-owned Lafayette Philippines Inc. established two subsidiaries--Rapu Rapu Minerals Inc (RRMI) and Rapu Rapu-Processing Inc. (RRPI) for its mining and processing activities in Rapu-Rapu, an island rich in copper, gold, zinc and silver reserves.

Two tailings spill, however, occurred in the project site in October 2005, which prompted investigations from the Philippine government while various local and national government bodies and nongovernment groups raised serious environmental and social concerns.

In 2008, economic woes forced Lafayette to sell its stakes in its Philippine operations. A consortium composed of LG International, Korea Resources Corp. and Malaysian Smelting Corp. took over and appointed RRMI and RRPI to run mine operations. This revitalized production.

In 2013, the mine was decommissioned. RRMI presently conducts mine rehabilitation activities for the “Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project” under the supervision of CLRSFC.

Rosal, in a recent interview, said the committee on environment has recommended that the disturbed 40 hectares with a “90-meter deep open pit mining area, which was the center of mining operation, to be fully backfilled.”

He said the rehabilitation plan showed the company will only backfill a depth of 60 meters and retain the depth of 30 meters.

“This will be extremely dangerous to the villagers who might be fall in the open pit or to anyone who will swim in the contaminated water,” said Rosal.

Christine May Baldeo, Mines and Geosciences Bureau information officer, in an interview, said the 90-meter deep open pit mining area will not be fully backfilled because it is filled with water contaminated with chemical solutions, which was used by the mining company during their five-year operation.

She said if the open pit will be fully backfilled the contaminated water might overflow into the creeks, watershed and rivers with the big possibility of affecting the water sources of villages around the area, including sea waters off the island.

Rosal added that during a recent ocular inspection in the area, it was discovered that the contaminated water of the open pit was pumped out from the mining tailings pond or storage area, which he said “was a clear violation of mining safety standards.”

He said RRMI under its president, Melvin Alonzo, who is in charge of the company’s rehabilitation program, should heed the committee on environment’s recommendations.

“We just want to follow the golden rule of safe mining here (which is) to have responsible mining," Rosal said.

He said the company should also put a half meter of fertilizer soil above the backfilled area to grow plants or trees.

Rosal added that the PHP200 million that has remained from the PHP310 million rehabilitation fund of the company will not be enough to fully sustain the 10-year rehabilitation program. The committee has recommended PHP1 billion to complete the rehabilitation program for the mine site.

Rosal said the committee on environment is hoping the government’s overseeing body, especially DENR and MGB, will take into consideration their recommendations.

He said he will “personally meet” with Lopez immediately “before it would be too late for all of us here.” (PNA) FPV/GVR/JHALLARE/EBP

20,000 join march against illegal drugs in Legazpi City
By Rhadyz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 14 (PNA) -- An estimated 20,000 Legazpenos threw their support to the fight illegal drugs by joining a march-rally called “Lakad laban sa Droga” (walk against drugs) in the city’s main thoroughfare on Monday afternoon that was spearheaded by the City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC) of the city government.

Participants to the march, which were composed mainly of students from the elementary, high school and college levels, marched a five-kilometer stretch from the City’s Central Business District up to Penaranda Park in Old Albay, a stone’s throw away to the City Hall and Provincial Capitol.

They waved banners urging the youth and their parents to spend "quality time" together so they can “listen to each other” and the battle against illegal drugs be won.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal called the rally one of the biggest assemblies of participants since it was first held eight years ago.

He said the participants from various schools were joined by barangays, private and government offices, groups of senior citizens, women’s organizations, youth and civic organizations and composite forces of government troops.

Rosal acknowledged the help of village officials, school authorities and the Diocese of Legazpi headed by Bishop Joel Baylon for supporting the city’s advocacy against illegal drugs.

He said CADAC’s program has greatly increased public awareness on the drug menace.

“A few years ago, only a thousand were joining our advocacy rallies but today the public has shown their strongly support for our anti-drug campaign by showing up big numbers to the march-rally,” said Rosal.

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, director of Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5), said that since the launch of Oplan Tokhang in July, PRO5 has listed some 56,903 drugs surrenderees in Bicol, 52,926 of whom were users and 3,977 pushers, while 75 have been killed.

“If we work together, we will get rid of the illegal drug trade in the country…Let us continue to be partners in making our communities safer and a more conducive place where we could live, work and do business,” he said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/RBB/EDS

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Young swimmer in Legazpi wins 6 gold medals in Japan invitational
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 11 (PNA) -- Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal on Friday commended eight-year-old Trump Luistro of this city for giving honor to the country by hauling six gold medals in an invitational swimming competition in Tokyo, Japan last month.

Rosal, in an interview today, said the medals Luistro brought home after competing in the swimming event at St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo last October 22 and 23 have brought so much pride to the country.

Gigi Luistro, Trump’s mother, said her son, a Grade 3 student of the Legazpi Hope Christian School, placed first in the six swimming events where he competed.

She said Trump competed in the 8-year-old under category in the 25-meter freestyle, 25-meter breast stroke and 25-meter butterfly events on the first day of the invitational meet while on the second day, he competed in the 50-meter freestyle, 25 meter breast stroke and 100-meter individual medley.

Trump was up against competitors from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, China and US, said his mother.

Gigi said Trump’s first international competition was at the swimming championship at Singapore Island Country Club on August 6 and 7 where he earned five medals.

She said before Singapore, Trump had joined local swimming competitions in Bicol, National Capital Region, Aklan and some areas of Mindanao.

Gigi said that her son started his swimming career at the age of 5 when he joined the Mayon Swimming Club.

She thanked Rosal and Governor Al Francis Bichara for the financial support given to Trump for the competition in Japan. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/RSM

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Albay officials commend President Duterte’s decision to honor Paris pact
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 10, (PNA) -- Two Albay officials -- third district Representative Fernando Gonzalez and Legazpi City Noel Rosal, lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to honor the Parish climate agreement of 2015 as it will help the country cope with the adverse impact of climate change.

The Philippines, who was chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum during the Paris climate talks last December 2015, was among the countries most influential in the crafting of the Paris deal that led to the call to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, Albay is deemed as a laboratory of natural disasters in the country because of the presence of the active Mayon Volcano and it is perennially in the path of strong typhoons.

The strongest to hit Albay was supertyphoon Reming (international name: Durian) which pummelled the province on November 30, 2006 with mudflows from the slopes of Mt. Mayon burying low-lying villages and killing over 1,000 people.

Gonzales said Duterte’s approval of the Paris accord is a “wise decision” as the Philippines will be safer from the detrimental effects of climate change “with the world together working to reduce carbon emissions.

Rosal added the President’s decision is “a very good move” as it will greatly help the country in fighting climate change.

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committees on climate change and finance said the President’scommitment to ratify the deal is timely as the country has commemorated the third anniversary of supertyphoon Yolanda, one of the strongest natural disaster in the world, which was “one of the rallying points for a more ambitious Paris agreement.”

Legarda said “after ratification, we can be a strong voice in the world to fight for climate justice…and can lead vulnerable nations to compel developed countries to comply with their commitments to reduce emissions.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/RBB/EDS

TESDA-Bicol holds dialogue on massive training-for-work scholarship program in villages

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 10 (PNA) -- Some 500 representatives from various local government units (LGUs), particularly the barangays, attended the first in a series of regional consultations on the massive free training and scholarship program to be offered in villages in the six provinces of the region by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Bicol.

TESDA-Bicol Director Conrado Bares, in an interview today, noted the “successful participation and fruitful discussion” during Wednesday’s dialogue on the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP).

“TWSP is a flagship program of TESDA Director General Guiling A. Mamondiong that will give free trainings to villagers in TESDA’s partner universities and colleges in the region,” he said.

Bares said the program believes that anyone who wants to undergo training, as long as they are qualified and mentally and physically fit, should be given importance.

“No one should be neglected and must be given help by TESDA in getting the skills they need,” he said.

Bares said they have Php400 million remaining in the allocated budget for the 2016 scholarship fund.

He said all universities and colleges in the region, who are partners of TESDA, have been told to prepare to open technical and vocational courses.

Bares said Mamondiong gave assurance that the government is now preparing for the 2017 and 2018 budgets because of a plan for massive trainings, especially for the villagers, in the coming years.

“Even the LGUs, especially the mayors and the Liga ng mga Barangay (league of villages) have been told to prepare their constituents,” he said.

Bares said the village chiefs and mayors are responsible for selecting the qualified villagers whom they will recommend to TESDA to undergo the program.

Jose Serrano, assistant regional director of TESDA, said they have conducted skills mapping in the 1,041 barangays of the 3,500 barangays in Bicol wherein 82,000 villagers who want to undergo the skills training and scholarhip program were able to register.

Bares said an expanded program will also give free skills trainings to be coordinated by line agencies for drug surrenderees, inmates, overseas Filipino workers, persons with disabilities, women and indigenous people.

He said Mamondiong had promised to come to Legazpi City for a second round of regional consultation with the same participants.

Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi City said the program, which is part of the government’s plan to decongest Metro Manila by strengthening the provinces, will give the villagers a better life in the future.

He urged the government to find a way to link the employers with the program so more job opportunities will be given to those in the provinces. (PNA) PGL/GVR/JORGE HALLARE/EBP

PNP-Army team rescued in sea mishap after search for suspected shabu lab in Sorsogon island
By Jorge Hallare and Alan Tan

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 9 (PNA) —- A team of five policemen and Army soldier, who were searching for an island east of Matnog port in Sorsogon for a reported shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) laboratory, were rescued and brought to safety after their motorboat capsized on their way back to the port on Tuesday, said a report that reached the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) Wednesday.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the team left Matnog port at 10 a.m. on Tuesday for Tikling Island but halfway on their way back, giant waves smashed into their boat, causing it to sink around 3 p.m. that day.

Tikling could be reached in 30 to 40 minutes of sea travel from Matnog port, she noted.

She said the police team included Sr. Insp. Joseph Millares and SP01 Ruel Renolayan of the Regional Maritime Group-Bicol, SPO1 Ely Moraleda of Sorsogon Public Safety Company and P01 Christopher Docog of Sta. Magdalena Municipal Police Office; and Cpl. Joven Borbor of the 31st Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army.

Calubaquib said the Coast Guard at Matnog port and Sorsogon Maritime Police rescued the five policemen and corporal one hour after the mishap.

The team, however, lost some eight government-issued high powered assault rifles, handguns, magazines and ammunition, as well as P47,500 cash.

The firearms consisted of a baby Armalite, 2 M16 Armalite rifles, 1 M4 rifle, 3 Glock 17 pistols and a Stoegar Cougar pistol.

Calubaquib said some elements from the Matnog Municipal Police Office, the joint Army-PNP team, Philippine Coast Guard and Maritime Divers are now conducting search and retrieval operations to recover the firearms.

She said PRO5 plans to conduct another operation against the reported shabu facility. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/AT/EDS

Except for Albay, 5 other Bicol provinces free from cocolisap
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 8 (PNA) –- Except for Albay, the five other provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes in the Bicol region are now free from the infestation of coconut scale insects, popularly known as “cocolisap,” according to an official of the Philippines Coconut Authority (PCA) regional office here.

Eduardo Bailon, PCA Bicol information officer, said this year’s infestation in Sta. Elena and Mercedes towns, both in Camarines Norte, and in Del Gallego and Sipocot towns, both in Camarines Sur have been controlled.

“So far, the most actively infested is Albay province, particularly in Barangay Banao, Guinobatan, where a total of 156 coconut trees have been affected, and in Bonga, Legazpi City, where 224 coconut trees have been confirmed infested by cocolisap,” he said.

Bailon said PCA has conducted immediate treatment of the affected trees by “pruning and trunk injection of pesticides” and monitoring in other areas in the province to ensure the infestation will not affect other coconut plantations.

“Our office has provided salt fertilizers and other technical assistance needed by the coconut farmers,” he said.

Bailon assured farmers that the infestation will be contained and treated within this month.

He added they cannot yet make any estimates on the loss to coconut production in Bicol because PCA is still monitoring the other municipalities in Albay.

“In terms of the market price of coconuts, however, it’s the same. This means that the cocolisap has no effect on the production and prices of coconuts,” Bailon said.

He said there is no reason for the coconut farmers in Albay to panic or for the declaration of an outbreak of cocolisap.

“We have curtailed the problem and local government units are also urged to help in the monitoring so we can immediately address or counter the infestation,” said Bailon. (PNA) FPV/Mike de la Rama/ssc

SC decision on Marcos burial at LNMB brought more wounds to martial law victims, says militant group

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 8 (PNA) —- The Supreme Court (SC) decision favoring the burial of deposed President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) is a dark phase in the country’s history that has brought more wounds to the victims of martial law and their families, said a statement of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Bicol.

“Walang sugat na nahilom, kundi mas lalong sinugatan ang mga pamilya at biktima ng martial law," said the statement written in Filipino and released to media Tuesday afternoon by Vince Casilihan, Bayan Bicol information officer.

Bayan-Bicol said the SC decision has made a mockery of Philippine history by allowing “a thief, murderer and dictator” to be buried at LNMB.

The group added that the high court, which is the last refuge of the martial law victims, did a great injustice to the Filipino people and to the next generation when it favored the Marcos family.

“…ang SC ay pumabor sa pamilya Marcos ay isang kalapastanganan sa buong sambayanang Pilipino at sa mga susunod na henerasyon,” said the statement.

Bayan-Bicol said the SC decision has allowed a “comeback for the family of the dictator and a cleansing of the Marcos name.”

Bayan-Bicol affirmed its stand that “Marcos is not a hero.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/ssc

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Legazpi mayor seeks revival of Legazpi City-Xiamen flights
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 8 (PNA) -- Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal is seeking the revival of direct flights from Legazpi City to Xiamen City in China because of the big number of Chinese tourists who have expressed interest in visiting Legazpi again.

Rosal on Tuesday said he is optimistic flights between the two cities could resume after the recent visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to China fostered goodwill between the two countries.

The flight between Legazpi and Xiamen was initiated in 2014 but it was later cancelled after a misunderstanding with the administration of former President Benigno Aquino 111.

Rosal said the Philippine Airlines made its first chartered flight from Xiamen to Legazpi on January 30, 2014 with 156 Chinese visitors, including journalists, who went on a familiarization tour of the various tourist spots in Legazpi City.

“The media tour was organized by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) of the Philippines, an attached agency and marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT), which has been promoting the Philippines as a top destination site for meetings, conventions and exhibitions,” he said.

Rosal said the original plan was for twice-a-week flights between the two cities but it was “cancelled due to a misunderstanding with the Aquino administration.”

He said he will again make an arrangement with TPB and the tour operators in Shanghai, Guangzou and other cities in China regarding the revival of the flight from Xiamen to Legazpi in order to give new opportunities for the Chinese tourists to visit Legazpi.

Rosal said resumption of the direct flights will be a “big factor” in improving the city’s tourism industry which has an estimated 17,000 to 20,000 additional tourist arrivals annually.

He said he has asked the City Tourism Office (CTO) to establish numerous tourism desks in Legazpi’s major tourist attractions that include Lignon Hill, Embarcadero De Legazpi and City Boulevard, all of which provide a panoramic view of the world-famous Mayon Volcano, whose nearly perfect shaped cone is said to rival the beauty of Japan’s Mt. Fiji.

CTO records showed Legazpi City, which hosts an average of 35 various gatherings annually, posted a 45 percent increase in tourist arrivals in 2015 compared to the previous year. The number of visitors in 2015 was up to 967,396 from 666,210 in 2014. (PNA) PGL/EMMANUEL P. SOLIS/SSC

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Except for Albay, 5 other Bicol provinces free from cocolisap
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 8 (PNA) –- Except for Albay, the five other provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes in the Bicol region are now free from the infestation of coconut scale insects, popularly known as “cocolisap,” according to an official of the Philippines Coconut Authority (PCA) regional office here.

Eduardo Bailon, PCA Bicol information officer, said this year’s infestation in Sta. Elena and Mercedes towns, both in Camarines Norte, and in Del Gallego and Sipocot towns, both in Camarines Sur have been controlled.

“So far, the most actively infested is Albay province, particularly in Barangay Banao, Guinobatan, where a total of 156 coconut trees have been affected, and in Bonga, Legazpi City, where 224 coconut trees have been confirmed infested by cocolisap,” he said.

Bailon said PCA has conducted immediate treatment of the affected trees by “pruning and trunk injection of pesticides” and monitoring in other areas in the province to ensure the infestation will not affect other coconut plantations.

“Our office has provided salt fertilizers and other technical assistance needed by the coconut farmers,” he said.

Bailon assured farmers that the infestation will be contained and treated within this month.

He added they cannot yet make any estimates on the loss to coconut production in Bicol because PCA is still monitoring the other municipalities in Albay.

“In terms of the market price of coconuts, however, it’s the same. This means that the cocolisap has no effect on the production and prices of coconuts,” Bailon said.

He said there is no reason for the coconut farmers in Albay to panic or for the declaration of an outbreak of cocolisap.

“We have curtailed the problem and local government units are also urged to help in the monitoring so we can immediately address or counter the infestation,” said Bailon. (PNA) FPV/MIKE DE LA RAMA/SSC

PNP on alert over bomb threat in Albay malls, schools and parks

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 7 (PNA) -- Police operatives were placed on alert on Monday following a possible bomb threat report in shopping malls, parks and schools in Albay by a still unknown terror group, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Albay said.

The bomb threat, which circulated by text message on Sunday, prompted the Albay police force to refer and validate the report to other police and military intelligence units across Bicol, according to Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, spokesperson of the Albay Provincial Police Office.

He said although the bomb scare report is still being validated “we have deployed additional uniformed as well as civilian clothed police personnel to man vital installations in the province.”

Gomez said the vital installations include roads, bridges, communication towers, transport terminals, shopping malls, schools and public parks.

The bomb threat message, which was received by media reporters, was quoted as saying “Our attack sa Nov. 9-11, 2016, nagpakalat na kami ng bomba sa mga malls ng Legazpi at Daraga. Pasasabogin naming ang Rizal Park at Ibalon Central School. (Our attack will be on Nov. 9-11. We have distributed bombs in malls in Legazpi and Daraga. We will bomb Rizal Park and Ibalon Central School) Be ready Albay, be ready for our attack.”

The message came from a mobile phone with the number 09263435575, Gomez said.

He said they have checked the given number but the phone just kept on ringing.

Earlier in September this year, a bomb scare also circulated in this city that advised the public to be vigilant in going to commercial malls for possible bombs planted in these establishments.

Gomez said the National Bureau of Investigation in Legazpi found the threat to be a hoax. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/EDS

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Albay police aim to arrest 3 drug suspects daily as part of PNP’s 'extensive' drug war
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 4, (PNA) -- The Albay Provincial Police Office (PPO) has ordered all 15 Municipal Police Offices and three City Police Offices in the province to arrest at least three drug suspects everyday as part of the extensive anti-illegal drug campaign of the Philippine National Police.

Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, spokesperson and chief of investigation division of Albay PPO, disclosed that the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) has ordered all the six PPOs in Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte to divide among themselves the more than 24,000 drug personalities still listed in the drug watch lists, including the new listed suspects in the region, who should be hunted and arrested.

He said the campaign is under Camp Crame's newest implemention of "Double Barrel Alpha," which is the second wave of Project: Double Barrel that has been targeting both high-profile and street level drug suspects.

Gomez said Albay PPO still has over 4,000 drug suspects in the province who are subject of their “expanded and extensive anti-illegal drug campaign.”

Data from PRO5 showed that out of the 46,207 drug suspects who have been surrendered since start of Operation Tokhang (the neighborhood campaign to knock on doors) on July 1 in the Bicol region, Albay has recorded 12,314 surrenderees, of whom 11,194 are users while 1,120 are pushers.

He said, however, that despite the big number of surrenderers in Bicol, Camp Crame has said there are still around 24,000 drug personalities in the region.

“They should be ordered hunted and arrested as soon as possible. The remaining 24,000 drug suspects in the region have been divided into six by all the PPOs,” said Gomez.

He said Senior Supt. Antonino Cirujales, Albay PPO director, has ordered the chiefs of police in the province to “double or triple their efforts” to arrest all of these 4,000 drug suspects in Albay until December 31.

"Director Cirujales gave orders to our chiefs of police to arrest at least three drug suspects a day in their town to meet the deadline given to us by PRO5 and Camp Crame," Gomez said.

The Albay PPO has implemented a revamp of some of the chiefs of police as part of the extensive and expanded campaign against illegal drugs.

Last Wednesday, Chief Insp. Luke Ventura, Guinobatan officer-in-charge (OIC) chief of police was replaced by Chief Insp. Cecilia Zuniga.

Gomez said in Malinao, Sr. Insp. Jumie Cardano was replaced by Chief Insp. Vergel Bibat as OIC.

On Thursday morning, Chief Insp. Errol Garchitorena, was replaced as OIC chief of police of Legazpi City by Supt. Nilo Berdin. Mayor Noel Rosal who witnessed the turnover was assisted by Cirujales as the installing officer.

“Ventura and Cardano will undergo schooling needed for their promotion while Garchitorena will be assigned at the Regional Police Strategic Management Unit of PRO5 in Camp Simeon A. Ola here,” said Gomez. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/EDS

OCD-Bicol: Flood, landslide in Sorsogon prompt suspension of classes

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 4 (PNA) -- Floods and landslide that hit Sorsogon due to moderate to heavy rains pelting the province since Thursday has prompted disaster authorities to be on alert status and suspend classes in all levels in the entire province, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said on Friday.

Jssar Adornado, OCD-Bicol operations chief, said Sorsogon Governor Sally Lee has issued an order suspending classes for two days, on Thursday and Friday, in all levels in the entire province, to keep students away from hazards brought by floods and landslides.

The state run Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration has warned Friday morning that Tropical Storm Meari would bring moderate to heavy rains and thunderstorm which may trigger flooding and landslides in Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and the provinces of Aurora and Quezon.

Adornado said a low pressure area, which is embedded in the Intertropical Convergence Zone approaching Northern Samar region, has brought moderate to heavy rains on Thursday in Sorsogon, affecting low lying towns of the province.

He said the continuous heavy downpour has triggered river channels to swell and flood waters to spill over rice fields in the towns of Pilar and Castilla in Sorsogon.

Adornado said as a disaster mitigating measure, the governor reactivated various disaster risk reduction councils in the province’s 14 towns and city.

Lee warned villagers in towns surrounding Mount Bulusan, which is on alert level one status or in restive state, to be vigilant against flashfloods and lahar flows that might cascade down from the volcano’s slopes.

Adornado said landslide hit the Sta. Fe-Sapa road and the old Pilar-Donsol Road in Pilar town.

No evacuation was reported, he said.(PNA) JMC/MSA/EDS

Friday, November 4, 2016

Salceda says Philippine economic growth continues despite weak peso

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 3 (PNA) -- The country’s economic growth has continued despite the weakening of the Philippine peso against the US dollar, which was allegedly triggered by President Rodrigo Duterte’s outbursts against the United States, Albay second district Rep. Joey Salceda said Thursday.

Asked to comment on a report that the Philippine currency rate could possibly fall to P50 to a dollar next year due to the government’s failure to sustain a good relationship with its trading partners, Salceda said the economic impact is a global phenomenon related to the anticipation of a US Federal interest increase.

The report said “the last time the Philippine peso neared P50 to the dollar was when the global financial system was melting down and the Central Bank raised interests to defend it. This time, it has been driven by the President’s cursing of his trading partners and his finance chief accepting the declines.”

There was little change in the Philippine currency from Friday at P48.43 per dollar, added the report.

“Local markets were shut Monday and Tuesday for the holidays. The peso has weakened from a seven-month high of P45.85 on June 9 before Duterte started his six-year term,” said the report.

Salceda, one of the country’s leading economists, was quick to defend President Duterte and in dismissing allegations that the peso has weakened due to the President’s tirades against his trading partners, specifically the US.

The Albay lawmaker said it would be unfair to put the blame on Duterte’s cursing of US President Barack Obama and announcing a “separation” from US during a recent official visit to China.

Salceda said the weakening of the peso against the dollar may be attributed to “a global phenomenon in all emerging markets anticipating a US Federal reserve hike.”

He said the US Federal reserve increase would not only affect the Philippine market but other countries as well, specifically citing Mexico as the “worst to be affected.”

Salceda said to cushion the economic impact of such rate increase the President and his economic managers have recently expanded to two major markets, such as “China for $ 24 billion in investments followed by Japan with $ 25 billion worth of investments.”

He said the business and trade investment packages entered into by the Philippines with China and Japan would serve as a “rebalancing” move.

Salceda said a “market diversified economy should reduce our risk profile for annoying the US policy apparatus.”

He said the economic stimulus that could help hasten and attain a 6 to 8 percent growth rate is higher infrastructure spending, which should be from 5 to 6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Salceda described this kind of stimulus as “more of execution or absorptive capacity than fiscal capacity.”

He also suggested keeping the macroeconomics stable by maintaining inflation within 2 to 4 percent, that would include a monetary policy from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas “to sustain interest rate within the corridor while government deficit should be beneath 3 percent of the GDP.”

Salceda said the fiscal reforms are needed to step up Customs collections with “incremental taxes at 1.6 percent of GDP.”

“Solving the traffic and congestion would perk up the economy as this problem eats up 2.8 percent of GDP,” he said.

Salceda is hopeful that the country’s economic road map will focus on agriculture modernization, which has been posting a negative trend for nearly three years now, while “sustaining the growth of industry at 6.9 percent, services at 8.4 percent, and allowing a resurgence in manufacturing to bring in 42 industries.”

“The ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front will also serve as a strong economic stimulus to make the country an investment-friendly hub among developing countries,” he said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/EDS

Thursday, November 3, 2016

1 shot dead, 4 wounded by riding-in-tandem in Tabaco City, Albay
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 2, (PNA) -- A riding-in-tandem sprayed bullets on a group of five men, leaving one dead and four seriously wounded predawn Wednesday in Tabaco City, Albay, said an official of the Albay Provincial Police Office (PPO).

Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, chief of investigation division of Albay PPO, identified the fatality as Joseph B. Borleo, who was heaving a conversation with four companions along a roadside in Purok 4, Barangay San Roque, Tabaco City at 12:20 a.m. when the gunmen struck.

Gomez said the gunmen, who wore black jackets and helmets rode a scooter type motorcycle, arrived at the scene of crime and peppered the five men with bullets for no apparent reason.

Borleo was rushed to the Ziga Memorial District Hospital in Tabaco City but pronounced dead on arrival by attending physicians for multiple gunshot wounds in the body.

His companions,identified as Eddie M. Buela, Christopher B. PifaƱo, Jose C. Tuscano and Ronald B. Broso, were brought to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Legazpi City for treatment of serious injuries in different parts of the body.

Gomez said they were still investigating the possible motive of the crime. (PNA) RMA/GVR/JHALLARE/EBP

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Drug peddler shot dead in buy bust in Camalig, Albay
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 2 (PNA) -- Anti-narcotics lawmen shot dead a drug peddler who tried to resist arrest during a buy-bust operation in Camalig, Albay, said an official of the Albay Provincial Police Office (PPO) Wednesday morning.

Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, chief of investigation division of Albay Provincial Police Office (PPO), said the suspect, identified as Ben M. Nuez, 51, sensed the buy bust and shot it out with the police operatives in Barangay Libod, Camalig Tuesday afternoon.

Gomez said this prompted the lawmen to retaliate and shoot Nuez. Recovered from Nuez were two sachets of shabu (methampetamine hydrocloride), P500 marked money and a .357 magnum revolver.

He said Nuez was among those who surrendered to the Philippine National Police’s Operation Tokhang several days prior to the buy bust operation.

The combined team that conducted the buy bust was composed of the Provincial Intelligence Branch and Camalig PPO led by Chief Insp. Benito Dipad Jr., its acting chief of police.

Gomez said Nuez was the 72nd drug suspect killed since start of the illegal drug campaign of the Bicol police on July 1.(PNA) LAP/GVR/JHALLARE/EBP

Bicol police on full alert for 'Undas', deploys 2,000 cops
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 31 (PNA) -- Bicol's regional police has placed all police units in the region under full alert effective midnight of Oct. 30 until Nov. 3 for the traditional observance of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

Bicol Police spokesperson, Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, said they have deployed 2,142 policemen to strategic areas in the region to augment local police units in cities and municipalities in ensuring peace and order, especially around cemeteries.

She said they have established 224 public assistance centers, desks and hubs and assigned 92 road marshals and 468 uniformed police officers along Bicol’s national highways.

In Albay, Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, spokesperson of Albay's provincial police, said they have also deployed an additional 1,205 police officers from the provincial command to augment the local police in the province’s 15 municipal police offices and three city police offices.

He said early Monday morning that people have begun to troop to private and public cemeteries, with more than 200,000 expected to visit their dear departed in 49 cemeteries in Albay.

Gomez said Albay police director, Sr. Supt. Antonino Cirujales, has been continuously conducting inspections and personally instructing his men to ensure peace and order in all areas.

Calubaquib added that their regular monitoring on the regional situation showed that no untoward incident or violation has happened so far in cemeteries. (PNA) CVL/JH/ssc

Bicol police on heightened alert before Nov. 1, 2
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 29 (PNA) -- All units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the Bicol region have been put on heightened alert two days before observance of All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2, said a top official of the Bicol police.

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, acting director of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) based here in Camp Simeon Ola, said this is part of Bicol police’s preparations to ensure the safety of the public who will troop to cemeteries to pay respects to their departed loved ones.

He said since Wednesday all police units have been assigned in all areas, where the public are expected to gather, such as bus terminals, seaports, airports, malls, plazas and churches.

Buenafe said they have established police assistance and monitoring desks in all strategic areas in the region.

He said on midnight of Oct. 31 the heightened alert will be upgraded to full alert status wherein all police officers will maximize their presence in the areas where people converge and even along highways.

Buenafe has appealed to the community to be more vigilant for their own safety and to take precautions before leaving their homes.

“They should always remember that crime exists everywhere and no one knows when perpetrators will attack,” he said.

Buenafe said PRO5 would deploy its personnel on Oct. 30 to Nov. 3 in city and municipal police stations to augment the local police in maintaining peace and order, especially within and in the periphery of cemeteries.

Meanwhile, police officials in the region conducted an aerial survey of Albay province on Saturday morning to find out the real situation in cemeteries amid the rains that occurred in the past days.

The police officials were composed of Senior Supt. Antonino Cirujales, Albay provincial police office (PPO) director; Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, chief of investigation division Albay PPO; and Sr. Insp. Ma.Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson.

Cirujales said the police were making preparations not just for security purposes but also for possible disasters. (PNA) RMA/JH/ssc