Wednesday, December 28, 2016

President Duterte assures typhoon-affected Catanduanes people of government aid before New Year
By Connie B. Destura

VIRAC, Catanduanes, Dec. 27 (PNA) —- President Rodrigo Duterte arrived Tuesday afternoon in this capital town that was badly-hit by typhoon Nina in the evening of Sunday.

The President, addressing the townsfolk gathered in Barangay Francia, said he came to bring the people much-needed help in the aftermath of the disaster.

Mr. Duterte was accompanied in his visit here by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, Secretary of Education Leonor Briones, Secretary Alfonso Kusi of the Department of Energy, and Secretary of Social Welfare and Development Judith Taguiwalo.

The President said members of his Cabinet came here to make an assessment and report when they hold a meeting in Malacanang what needs to be done to help the typhoon-affected people of Catanduanes.

The President affirmed his support for the townsfolk, in restoring what typhoon Nina had taken.

He said, "We have money, I have my social fund and we will make the assessment how much we will be extending help, you will know that before new year".

"What can I assure you, based on money that we have, we will make the restoration, giving the assistance before the new year, because I know, it is important to all of you," he added.

The President stressed government aid will be given as soon as possible, and damaged schools will be rebuilt immediately.

Based on the partial assessment report for the province of Catanduanes, typhoon damage to agriculture reached Php 134,335,393.10.

In Bato town, damage to agriculture was pegged at Php490,000; San Andres, Php 650,000; San Miguel, Php 129,375,000.00 and in Virac, 3,820,393.00.10.

Typhoon Nina first made landfall in Catanduanes at 6:30 p.m. Christmas Day with gustiness of 235 kilometers (146 miles) per hour, placing the province under tropical cyclone warning signal (TCWS) no. 4. (PNA) LAP/CBD

Monday, December 26, 2016

Albay declares state of calamity
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 26 (PNA)--The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay held a special session to pass Resolution No. 255-2016 declaring the entire province of Albay under a state of calamity due to typhoon Nina.

Vice Governor Harold Imperial today said a P23 million calamity fund is available so the province could recover from the damage wrought by typhoon Nina.

He said the typhoon has caused heavy damage in the entire province, particularly in the first and second districts.

The first district is composed of Tiwi, Malinao, Malilipot, Bacacay and Tabaco City while the third district consists of the towns of Guinobatan, Oas, Polangui, Libon and Ligao City.

In the third district, especially in Polangui town, 70 percent of the houses have been totally destroyed, said Imperial.

The provincial government of Albay has been evacuating a quarter of a million families since Friday evening. These were the villagers threatened by strong winds, flood, mud and lahar flows, storm surges and landslides.

On Sunday evening, the state weather bureau declared Albay under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 3.

Meanwhile, personnel of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines have been working 24/7 to restore power transmission service after an outage hit portions of Albay province. (PNA)
GVR/CBD

OCD-Bicol: Bicol to Manila road impassable, AFP conducts clearing operation
By Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 26 (PNA)-–Roads from mainland provinces and municipalities in Bicol, especially in the municipality of Nabua, Camarines, Sur going to Metro Manila are still not passable to all forms of vehicles due to landslide, floods and debris brought by typhoon Nina.

2nd Lt. Rachelle Marie Villaluz of the 901st Brigade of the Philippine Army said military personnel from the 901st brigade and 83rd Infantry Battalion are conducting massive clearing operations in Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes, the Bicol provinces most affected by floods, landslide and debris due to typhoon Nina.

“Our team have been deployed early morning today (December 26) to assist other government agencies and local government units in clearing the roads to make it accessible to relief operations,” Villaluz said.

As of 12 noon today (December 26) there were 21 landslides that were reported to have occurred in San Miguel, Catanduanes while 10 municipalities in Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte have remained flooded.

Villaluz said Daang Maharlika is not passable and this is the reason for the suspension of all provincial buses operations from Bicol to Metro Manila.

“Debris can easily be removed along Daang Maharlika, however, while some main roads remained flooded,” she said.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol has initially reported that electric power in the provinces of Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte have yet to be restored while mobile phones (Globe and Smart) have become operational since 12 noon.

OCD-Bicol Director Bernardo Rafael Alejandro said that after an aerial survey this morning, they found out that national roads from Albay to Camarines Sur up to Manila have yet to be cleared from debris and toppled electric posts.

He urged the public to help the government in coordinating with their barangay officials in the clearing operations to facilitate immediate post-disaster operations.

He said an initial report from the Albay Power Energy Corp. showed that power along 264 electrical posts have yet to be restored in Albay.

“We are still waiting for the complete assessment report from the other provinces hit by typhoon Nina,” Alejandro added. (PNA)
GVR/MDR/cbd

Albay governor orders evacuees to decamp from shelters
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 26 (PNA)--With the improved weather condition and subsequent lowering of tropical cyclone warning signals in the Bicol provinces for typhoon Nina, Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara, who is also chairman of the Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC), has directed the decampment of all evacuation shelters as there are no longer threats from the weather disturbance.

In PDRRMC’s advisory No. 6 issued this morning, Bichara has ordered the decampment of all evacuation shelters in the province except for those with damaged houses that were declared unfit for occupancy and those still affected by flood.

The advisory has also declared the phasing out of the “Emergency Response and Phasing In” plan and the phasing in of the “Recovery and Rehabilation” plan of the entire disaster response team in the province.

In Libon town, at least 6,000 evacuees will still remain in evacuation centers for three more days due to flooding. Residents of the town remain isolated with floodwaters submerging main roads going to neighboring towns.

Bichara has also ordered the immediate provision of relief goods and other essential needs to affected residents of Libon.

Since Friday, he has been ordering the evacuation of around 181,011 persons who are most likely to experience hazard threats such as floods, landslides, lahar flows and storm surges due to typhoon Nina.

Bichara also ordered all local government units (LGU) to form a team that will assess the damage due to the typhoon. The team shall be composed of LGU representatives engaged in agriculture, social services, engineering and health concerns. (PNA)
GVR/CBD

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bicol prepares medicines for distribution to local government units
By Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DoH) in Bicol has prepared all medical commodities for distribution to different municipalities and cities across the region as Typhoon "Nina" intensifies and increases its threat to the Bicol region.

This as evacuation of over a million persons living in flood, landslide and storm surge prone areas in Albay have been stepped up by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) today.

PDRRMC data showed as of 12 noon Sunday there were 12,855 families or 64,276 persons who have initially moved out to designated evacuation shelters.

Dr. Napoleon Arevalo, DOH-Bicol director, has warned the public to boil drinking water to avoid water borne diseases due to water contamination.

“Our personnel and supply of medicines are ready,” he said.

Arevalo said during emergencies, DOH-5 along with local government units in the Bicol region are strictly monitoring the health situation to prevent any outbreak.

“The most common health concerns during an emergency are water borne diseases and gastro-intestinal problems,” he said.

Arevalo said diarrhea is the usual problem, especially in evacuation centers, so DOH strongly recommends to residents to boil their drinking water.

He has advised the public to observe proper hygiene to avoid possible infections.

Dr. Nathaniel Rempillo, provincial health officer of Albay, said provincial health personnel have been deployed to different stations to assist municipal health units in giving medical services to various evacuation centers.

He said all humanitarian personnel will report 24/7.

“It is our policy to make all personnel available and accessible to affected families in times of emergency,” said Arevalo.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cedric Daep, executive director of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Albay, said residents in areas prone to floods, lahar, landslide and storm surge must “evacuate without delay.”

He said the PDRRMC is closely monitoring all towns and cities in Albay and is ordering the strict compliance to advisories on mandatory evacuations. (PNA) JBP/GVR/MDR/CBD

Albay solon reminds Albayanos on how to stay safe during typhoon Nina
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 25 (PNA)--Albay second district Rep. Joey Salceda has given some “ten survival tips” to Albayanos on how they could stay safe during typhoon Nina.

This, as he reminded Albayanos to follow the advisories of authorities so the zero casualty goal could be achieved.

As of Sunday afternoon typhoon Nina has intensified and continues to threaten the Bicol region. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration or Pagasa said the typhoon is expected to make its landfall in Catanduanes early Sunday evening.

Pagasa raised tropical cyclone warning signal (TCWS) No. 4 over Catanduanes, TCWS No. 3 for Burias Island in Masbate, Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, and TCWS No. 2 for Masbate, includng Ticao Island, and Sorsogon.

The Albay lawmaker’s reminders to Albayanos:

1. Stay at home and don’t venture out, watch out for flying debris.

2. Those GI sheets may be valuable in the junk shop but they are deadly.

3. Those who live in houses made of light materials must evacuate, weak structures may not be able to resist the force of typhoon Nina.

4. Secure signboards and billboards. Take them off now. They can pose additional hazards to people.

5. After shoring up the sili tree, board up the weak spots of your homes, especially the glass windows but don’t forget to “relieve some pressure” (against the strong winds) so the windows won’t blow up. Always leave a window or door open opposite the wind direction.

6. Stay away from glass windows in case these blow up. You might get injured. “Remember those who live in glass houses shouldn't be throwing away lives.”

“Also, don’t believe what Clinton said about glass ceilings- when there is no ceiling, sky is the limit. During the typhoon, the sky will fall on you instead.”

7. The storm surges will be lethal. Stay away from shorelines by at least four meters.

8. If you believe that your building is strong enough to withstand a storm surge, remember it is not the height of your building, it is the elevation of your location measured in ASL (above sea level) that matters. Under the Beaufort scale, it should be 9 feet for every 100 kilometers per hour (kph) but half of the wave below level. So, it would be 4.5 for 200 kph or 9 feet or about 3 meters plus 1 buffer, ergo, 4 meters.

8. The better-offs in the barangays who live in better structures must practice “project HARONG (Bicol for house) of the Diocese of Legazpi--please accommodate your neighbors.

9. For dinner, canned sardines sauteed in lots of tomatoes, kangkong or camote tops taste better with freshly cooked rice, and taste the best when eaten together.

10. For midnight snacks, it should be arroz caldo. If you don’t have chicken parts, then chicken eggs - that keep the caldo in the arroz caldo. For breakfast, sinangag or fried rice can go with sardines. Again, cook it differently, if possible in an omelet. (PNA)
GVR/CBD

Albay PHO now on code blue alert; power shut down in Catanduanes
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 25 (PNA)--The Albay Provincial Health Office (PHO) announced it has raised its code alert from white to blue during the meeting of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) on Sunday morning.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Nathaniel Rempillo said the Albay Health and Emergency Management (AHEM) team is on standby mode as typhoon "Nina" is expected to make its landfall in Catanduanes early Sunday evening.

"With more than 200 ready and well-trained personnel and staff, we are prepared," he said.

Rempillo said some 121 personnel composed of nurses, doctors and trained rescuers and health personnel from AHEM and 100 different hospitals, rural health units are on standby for action anytime.

“Code white represents the readiness of the health teams while blue is used when the possible number of affected families range from 50 or more. The red code as the highest form of alert means more than 100 families are affected,” he said.

Emergency codes, which are used in hospitals worldwide to alert the staff on various emergencies, are intended to convey essential information quickly and with minimal misunderstanding among staff while preventing stress and panic among visitors to the hospital.

Codes are posted on placards throughout the hospital or printed on employee identification badges for ready reference.

Meanwhile, as of 2:25 p.m. today a total of 12,108 persons or 2,651 families from 53 barangays (villages) from different towns in Catanduanes have taken shelter in various evacuation centers and private houses, said Edna Bagadiong, information center manager of the Philippine Information Agency in Catanduanes.

She said as part of preventive measures power distributors have shut down power service in Catanduanes. (PNA)
GVR/CBD

Evacuation of over a million persons stepped up in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 25 (PNA)--Evacuation of over a million persons living in flood, landslide and storm surge prone areas in Albay have been stepped up to meet its 2 p.m. deadline today, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said today.

As of 12 noon Sunday there were 12,855 families or 64,276 persons who have initially moved out to designated evacuation camps, according to Cedric Daep, PDRRMC executive officer.

Daep, in an interview, said the initial evacuation report came from the towns of Polangui, Pio Duran, Malinao and Legazpi City.

He said "we are expecting reports to come in this afternoon before the given deadline."

Daep expressed optimism that the evacuation would be carried out smoothly even if it is Christmas day.

He added they have also evacuated hundreds of passengers stranded in parts of Tabaco City and Pio Duran town.

Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara on Saturday ordered the mandatory evacuation of 207,774 families or 3.7 million individuals living in 1,545 villages prone to flooding, landslides, lahar flows and storm surge.

As of Sunday morning, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has issued Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal (TCWS) No. 4 for Catanduanes, TCWS No. 3 for Burias Island in Masbate, Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, and TCWS No. 2 for Masbate, includng Ticao Island, and Sorsogon. (PNA)
GVR/MSA/CBD

Air, sea travel suspended in Bicol due to typhoon Nina

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 24 (PNA)--Air and sea transportation across Bicol have been cancelled on Saturday as typhoon Nina threatens to hit the Bicol region on Sunday, the Office Of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, OCD regional director and Bicol Regional Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) chairperson, on Saturday said the plane flights of Cebu Pacific Air from Manila to Virac, Catanduanes, Legazpi, Naga City and Cebu have been cancelled Saturday due to the typhoon.

He added the number of passengers stranded in the ports of Pilar, Matnog and Bulan, all in Sorsogon; Tabaco City and Pio Duran in Albay; San Andres in Catanduanes; and Bapor in Masbate have reached 2,499 as of 12 noon Saturday.

Alejandro said the number of cargo trucks, passenger buses and cars stranded in Matnog and Pilar ports in Sorsogon and Pasacao in Camarines Sur have reached 330.

He said the Philippine Coast Guard Bicol has suspended sea travels in major ports in Bicol after the state weather bureau raised tropical cyclone warning signal number 1 over the six Bicol provinces of Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Masbate, including Ticao and Burias Island.

As typhoon Nina intensifies, the RDRRMC and local disaster councils have been placed on red alert status which Alejandro said means that the “deployment of disaster response units are in place for mobilization and evacuation operation.”

He said land, sea and air rescue units and communication equipment have been prepositioned and on stand by.

“All government hospitals are on code white alert status which means on emergency and standby mode,” added Alejandro.

The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol has reported that health emergency teams are on standby while some Php 1.6-million worth of assorted drugs and medicines have been inventoried and stockpiled. (PNA) RMA/GVR/MSA/CBD

Over 200,000 Albay villagers to be evacuated as typhoon Nina threatens Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 24 (PNA)----Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara on Saturday said mandatory evacuation would be carried out on Sunday in all villages in the province which are prone to flooding, landslide, mud or lahar flow and storm surges.

The state weather bureau said typhoon Nina, which has been located 480 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes as of 10 a.m. Saturday, continues to threaten the Bicol region. It has maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour with gusty winds of up to 185 kph while moving west northwest at 15 kph.

Bichara, who is also head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC), said disaster authorities are preparing to move out 207,774 families or nearly a quarter of a million people living in areas prone to flood, landslide, lahar flow and storm surges in Albay’s three cities and 15 towns.

PDRRMC data indicate that there are 1,616 villages threatened by flooding, landslide, lahar flow and storm surge should typhoon Nina hit the province on Sunday.

There are also around 59,790 families in low-lying villages at risk of flooding, 21,294 families at risk in landslide areas, 34,631 families at risk in lahar-prone areas while 29,087 families are at risk to storm surges in coastal areas.

Bichara said some local municipal DRRMCs have began moving out villagers to safer grounds as a preventive measure should typhoon Nina hit Albay.

The typhoon, which is expected to make a landfall in Catanduanes province on Sunday afternoon or evening, is also expected to bring moderate to heavy rains and strong winds to Albay.

Bichara has also directed the Department of Education to open school campuses that are not at risk to floods, landslides and storm surges, to be ready for evacuation use.

Albay province was placed under a “state of imminent disaster” on Friday to facilitate use of calamity fund by local disaster councils in its 3 cities and 15 towns.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical Astronomical and Services Administration has placed the Bicol provinces of Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Masbate, including Ticao and Burias Island under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal Number 1. (PNA) RMA/GVR/MSA/CBD

(12 nn update) 'Nina' intensifies, Catanduanes under signal no. 4
By Ma. Cristina C. Arayata

MANILA, Dec. 25 (PNA) -- Typhoon 'Nina' has intensified further, prompting authorities to raise Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal (TCWS) No. 4 over Catanduanes as of 11 a.m. Sunday, before the typhoon’s landfall in the province on Sunday night.

'Nina' was last eyed at 150 km east of Virac, Catanduanes, and is forecast to move west at 15 kph.

It has a maximum sustained winds of up to 185 kph near the center, and gustiness of up to 255 kph.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the estimated rainfall amount is from moderate to heavy within its 500 km diameter of 'Nina'.

Sea travel is risky over the seaboards of Luzon, the state weather bureau added.

Storm surge height of up to 2.5 meters is possible over the coastal areas of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon and Catanduanes.

PAGASA warned that “Nina” has increased its threat the Bicol region.

Burias Island, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and southern Quezon are currently under TCWS No. 3.

TCWS No. 2, on the other hand, was raised over Masbate, including Ticao Island, Sorsogon, Oriental Mindoro, Batangas, Laguna, rest of Quezon including Polillo, Marinduque, Romblon and northern Samar.

Metro Manila, Rizal, Bataan, Occidental Mindoro including Lubang Island, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, southern Quirino, southern Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Cavite, Aklan, Capiz, Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran, Leyte and Bantayan Island are still under TCWS No. 1. (PNA) BNB/MCCA

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Nearly 2,500 passengers stranded in Bicol sea ports; gov’t hospitals on code white alert
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 24 (PNA)--The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol reported that nearly 2,500 passengers have been stranded in various sea ports in the Bicol region since yesterday after Coast Guard authorities cancelled the sailing of all sea crafts due to bad weather spawned by typhoon "Nina."

As of 12 noon today, typhoon Nina was spotted 445 kilometers East of Virac, Catanduanes. The state weather bureau said Nina has slightly slowed down but it has intensified further as it continues to move in a west northwest direction.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, head of both OCD-Bicol and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, said as of 4 a.m. today, the number of passengers stranded in the ports of Pilar, Matnog and Bulan, all in Sorsogon; Tabaco City and Pio Duran in Albay; San Andres in Catanduanes; and Bapor in Masbate have reached 2,499.

He said they have been in these ports since yesterday.

Alejandro said the number of rolling cargoes stranded in these ports have reached 367, majority of them in Matnog port in, Sorsogon where the there were 360 cars, trucks and buses stranded.

He said there were two light vehicles stranded in Pilar port, also in Sorsogon; 2 in San Andres, Catanduanes; and 3 in Bapor, Masbate.

Alejandro said the RDRRMC has issued an advisory to all DRRMCs in various local government units in the Bicol region to be on heightened alert, particularly those in coastal barangays, for possible floods, landslides and storm surges.

Meanwhile, the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) based in this city has now been been placed under the code white alert status so it could respond and ensure efficient services as typhoon Nina approaches the various Bicol provinces.

Dr. Butch Rivera, BRTTH chief of hospital, said all hospital personnel have been directed to report with all leaves of absences temporarily suspended.

“During a code white alert status, all hospital personnel -- general surgeons, orthopedists, anesthesiologists, internists, operating room nurses, ophthalmologists and other specialists -- are expected to be on duty," he said.

Rivera has assured that standby ambulances and generators are prepared to ensure effective delivery of services to the public once typhoon Nina hits the Bicol region.

He said all rural health units and birthing facilities in Albay have also been advised by the provincial health office to operate for 24 hours.

Rivera said in cases of emergency, the BRTTH contact numbers are (052)-483-00-17; Globe-0917-571-7234 and Smart-0998-576-2240. (PNA)

20 Legazpi City villages get awards on eco-waste management
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 22 (PNA) -- Some 20 villages from among 70 villages in Legazpi City led by Barangays (village) Gogon and Cabangan East were given top awards in the annual Solid Waste Management awards initiated by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

City Mayor Noel E. Rosal handed the certificates of commendation and cash prizes during today’s Christmas celebration of the “eco-(waste) managers and “eco-aides” to the heads of the villages, 10 in the big barangay category and 10 in the small barangay category, who have shown proper ways of disposing of their waste materials in their respective communities.

During the awarding ceremony, Rosal acknowledged the role of the eco-waste managers and eco-aides for their effective implementation of the city’s “no segregation no collection policy” as mandated in the city’s Ecological Solid Waste Management Program (ESWMP).

“This policy on which is anchored the city’s solid waste management program is proof of Legazpi‘s identity as a strong modern city that maintains a healthful and environmental-friendly community,” said Rosal.

During the award-giving ceremony, CENRO head Salve Corral also distributed motorized collection vehicles to eight new barangays, the additional areas which will adopt the “no segregation no collection policy.”

Rosal said the collection vehicles, which are motorcycles equipped with sidecars for collecting waste materials, were issued through a grant from the World Bank Global Environmental Fund.

He said the collection vehicles will also support the implementation of the City’s Integrated Persistent Organic Pollutant or IPOPS project.

The IPOPS project prohibit the burning of garbage in the community as one way of reducing toxic emissions such as dioxin and furans that are generated by waste materials and contribute to global warming.

Rosal said there are 49 barangays included in its ESWMP, which has been expanded to include eight more villages, for a total of 57 villages now implementing the city’s environmental program.

The top ten villages under the large barangay category, who were commended during today’s awarding ceremony, were Gogon with a total rating of 89.7 percent; Puro-89.1 percent; Bigaa-87.7 percent; Bagumbayan-87.3 percent and Arimbay-87 percent.

Barangay Bogtong with a rating of 86.4 percent was sixth place, followed by Oro Site-83 percent; Penaranda-82.9 percent; Cabangan West-80.42 percent while Bitano was tenth with an average rating of 80.40 percent.

The top ten recipients under the small barangay category were the villages of Cabangan East with 91.30 percent; Dap-dap-90.12; Sabang-90 percent; Maoyod-87.97 percent; and Binanuahan West--87.27 percent.

On 6th place was Barangay Tamaoyan who got an average rating of 84.21 percent; Sagpon- 82.4 percent; Ems Barrio South-82.2 percent; Barangay Bano-81.5 percent; and Ilawod (10th place)-80 percent.

The eight villages who received the motorized collection equipment were the villages of Pawa, Dita, Bagong Abre, San Joaquin, Buyoan, Lamba, Homapon and Banquerohan.

Rosal said his administration is planning to construct another concrete cell at the adjacent area of the sanitary landfill because its lifespan is expected to expire by next year.

The engineered sanitary landfill was constructed by the city government in 2010 at a 1.5-hectare land area in Barangay Banquerohan, an upland village some 20 kilometers away from downtown Legazpi.

A Php100-million grant from the Spanish aid agency Agencia Espanola Cooperacion International Para El Desarollo or AECID has made the landfill possible.

Legazpi City is the only local government unit in the Bicol region which has an engineered sanitary landfill that has made it fully compliant with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/CBD

Bicol braces for tropical storm 'Nina'

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 23 (PNA) -- Disaster councils across Bicol have been placed on “blue alert” or heightened alert as it prepares for disaster pre-emptive measures should tropical storm Nina (international name: Nock Ten) hit the Bicol peninsula on Saturday, Christmas eve, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said Friday.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, OCD-Bicol director and concurrent Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) chairperson, said since Wednesday, he has been advising all Provincial DRRMCs to be on high alert for the worsening weather situation and the possible effects the weather disturbance may bring to the community.

Alejandro said should tropical storm Nina hit the Bicol region, it could bring flooding, landslide and storm surge in disaster-prone villages in the region’s six provinces.

On Thursday’s RDRRMC meeting, disaster councils in Bicol were placed on “preparedness mode,” which means all national and local DRRMCs should be ready for activation and deployment, he said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported that 20,256 food packs and thousands of non-food items such as malong, laminated sacks, plastic mats, mosquito nets and blankets were made available for prepositioning and distribution to local government units.

Aside from the food packs and non-food items, DSWD has made available hundreds of NFA rice sacks, canned goods, including a P3.1-million standby fund.

All government hospitals were placed under code white alert (preparedness mode) while the Department of Health Operation Center is on 24/7 operations.

Alejandro said the “no sailing policy” for sea vessels would be enforced should the state weather bureau raise public storm warning signals in Bicol. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD/RSM

Thursday, December 22, 2016

(Update) Albay adopts 5 disaster-scenario based preparations as TD Nina threatens Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 22 (PNA) —- A top officer of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Albay will adopt five scenario-based disaster strategies as authorities brace for the entry of Tropical Depression Nina into the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) this week.

Cedric Daep, PDRRMC action officer, said preparations are in place as they consider the occurrence of four disaster-based scenarios.

These include--should the province be directly hit by Nina; not directly hit but affected within the 300-kilometer radius of the storm’s diameter; Albay to be affected even outside the 50-km periphery of the TD but within the rain band; TD Nina to be affected by "amihan" or the northeast monsoon that would push TD Nina to move south, affecting Sorsogon and Masbate.

The last scenario is when TD moves on the northside of Albay.

"We have prepared disaster mitigating measures for these eventualities," said Daep in an interview.

He said floods and landslide will threaten the three cities and 15 towns of Albay as TD Nina approaches PAR and hit the Bicol region either on Saturday or Sunday.

Daep said Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara, who is also PDRRMC chairman, has issued an advisory on Thursday morning declaring the province under a state of preparedness.

He said all city DRRMCs and municipal DRRMCs have been directed to prepare and execute disaster pre-emptive measures to ensure PDRRMC meets the zero casualty goal.

The PDRRMC also issued a no sailing order for small types of sea crafts to prevent fisherfolk from fishing as rough seas develop due to the bad weather condition prevailing today.

Three city mayors and 15 town local executives have met to discuss preparations for TD Nina.

PDRRMC data show that during typhoons there are 487 villages affected by floods with 59,796 families or 286,160 persons threatened.

The same data indicate that 21,294 families or 96,828 persons in 211 villages will be affected by landslides while 29,087 families or 144,119 persons living in 161 villages will be affected by storm surges should there be a typhoon. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD

Albay province under state of preparedness due to approach of tropical depression Nina
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 22 (PNA) -- The Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) has issued advisory number 1, which places the province under a state of preparedness, after noting the presence of a tropical depression some 1,757 kilometers east of Mindanao which is outside of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

Albay Governor and PDRRMC chairman Al Francis Bichara has issued the advisory shortly before noontime Thursday while calling for an emergency meeting with the DRRM councils in the cities and municipalities of the province and the Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo) at 1 p.m. today.

He advised the local executives to shift to a “state of preparedness” in their respective areas so they can immediately execute measures in their areas that would ensure the province’s a “zero casualty” goal.

Bichara also asked the local DRRMs to immediately convene to prepare for the weather disturbance and review their respective risk reduction plans on floods, strong winds, storm surges, landslides, lahar and other forms of natural calamities.

He asked the mayors of the cities and municipalities, who head their DRRMs, for a readiness plan so evacuation procedures could be readied for residents “threatened by these forces of the nature.”

Advisory number 1 has ordered “no sailing for small types of seacrafts” due to the abnormal sea conditions.

Bichara asked the local DRRMCs to immediately coordinate with the PDRRMC.

As of its 11 a.m. bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said there is a tropical cyclone within PAR. (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD/EBP

Duterte TRAIN Xpress to boost GDP growth to 9%, achieve single-digit poverty
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 18 (PNA) -- Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has filed House Bill 4688, titled Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN, a centerpiece program that will “ultimately reduce poverty to single digit, grow the economy by 9%, and transform the Philippines into an Asian economic powerhouse by 2028, with USD 1.2 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It will then qualify the country for membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“This is the TRAIN of the Duterte Express, which I committed to file during the Philippine Development Forum in Davao last November with the participation of non-government agencies, civil society organizations, official development assistance ODA partners, and LGUs,” the Albay lawmaker explained.

House Bill 4688 aims “to create a tax system that is simpler, fairer and more efficient, characterized by low rates and a broad base that promotes investment, job creation and poverty reduction.”

The bill, Salceda said, ran parallel with President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Tunay na Pagbabago” or real positive change commitment to the Filipino people, that included more inclusive growth and comfortable life for all, improved public services, more and better jobs and more money in the people’s pockets; and safe, healthy, and peaceful communities.

The measure is a concrete step in making tax rates on income in the Philippines competitive in the region and fit the structural objective of the Asean Economic Community (AEC). It seeks the “full and immediate adjustment of Personal Income Tax (PIT) on the first year,” since according to Salceda, “the PIT income bracket is one of the most horrific and protracted social injustices” confronting Filipinos.

Salceda describes the Philippine PIT as the most regressive in the entire Asia. “And we do this to the most faithful partner of the government and dependable pillar of taxes -- the employees whose share of nation building is automatically withheld, with compliance at almost 99% since they have no choice. The expected net benefit here would be P156 billion,” he pointed out.

HB 4688 also provides that 25 percent of the compensating revenues from excise tax on petroleum of Php 165 billion will be earmarked for subsidies to the lowest 50 percent by way of fare vouchers and direct income transfers to be administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and to be designed by an inter-agency committee composed of DSWD, Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Finance.

The direct income transfers, he said, would make the entire tax package more progressive with the lowest 10 percent of the population seeing incomes rise by 12 percent, and it would be effective for three years. The annual inflation adjustments on excise tax on petroleum would not be implemented if the Dubai crude exceeds per barrel in the previous year, he added.

He stressed that the Philippines needs to sustain an annual high growth of at least 7 percent one generation; shifts the source of growth from consumption to investment; and heavily invests in our people through improved social services, such as public health and education systems, and in better infrastructure to improve connectivity and raise productivity.

The country, he added, required an additional one trillion pesos necessary investments annually over the long term, of which some Php 600 billion — equivalent to 3 percent of the GDP — was targeted by 2019.

Salceda said HB 4688 would be complemented by major tax administration reforms in both the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs, proposed separately under the Tax Administration Reform Act, in addition to continuing budget reforms pursued to promote spending transparency and efficiency.

The tax reform program consisted of several packages, with each package balancing trade-offs — lowering of some tax rates while broadening the base of others, Salceda said. (PNA) RMA/JCN/SSC

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Legazpi CHO gets recognition for newborn screening program
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 20 (PNA) -- Legazpi City has received recognition from the Department of Health in Bicol (DOH-5) for being the second best local government unit (LGU) in the region in terms of implementing the new born screening (NBS) program.

Fulbert Alec Gillego, head of the City Health Office (CHO), in an interview Tuesday said Legazpi City was named “as the second best implementer” among the LGUs for the NBS program.

He said it is “very important” to screen the babies to find out if it is affected by a certain genetic, metabolic or infectious condition which if left untreated may lead to severe growth and mental retardation, anemia, cataract or even death.

NBS, where a baby’s foot is pricked for a blood sample one to two days after birth, was integrated into the public health delivery system with the enactment of Republic Act 9288 or Newborn Screening Act of 2004.

Currently, there are six disorders screened under the system: congenital hypothyroidism (CH), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), phenylketonuria (PKU), glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, galactosemia (GAL) and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD).

Gillego said DOH-5 gave the citation to Legazpi CHO this month through its “7th Salud Bikolnon Awards,” which is its way of honoring its partners who have performed well in implementing DOH’s various health programs for the community. Salud is a Bikol term for health.

DOH-5 awarded the rural health unit (RHU) of the municipality of Sta. Magdalena, Sorsogon as “first best implementer” while the RHU of the municipality of Bulan, also in Sorsogon, was named “third best implementer” of the NBS program.

Gillego, along with personnel of the CHO nursing division, received the plaque of recognition from DOH Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago Jr. and DOH Regional Director Napoleon Arevalo during the awarding rites held in this city.

Santiago said “DOH will also “implement the expanded NBS next year as part of improving the health care services to our babies.”

Expanded screening, which was first implemented in Metro Manila in 2014, includes 22 more disorders such as hemoglobinopathies and additional metabolic disorders, namely, organic acid, fatty acid oxidation, and amino acid disorders. The latter are included in the standard care across the globe.

Santiago pointed out that NBS is an “integral part of routine newborn care in most developed countries.”

He said in the 2017 national budget, Php43 billion from the people’s taxes will go to pay premiums for Philhealth, the government’s national health insurance program that subsidizes the P600 cost of the newborn screening tests.

Santiago said this means that if a poor patient uses the health facility of the hospital then the NBS will be paid by Philhealth.

The Salud Bikolnon Award is focused on the theme: “Gabos Para Sa Salud, Salud Para Sa Gabos,” that refers to DOH’s flagship health agenda under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte--“All for Health Towards Health for All.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/CBD/EDS

Tabloid publisher in Catanduanes gunned down
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 20, (PNA)—-A publisher of a local tabloid in Catanduanes died while undergoing treatment at a hospital early Tuesday morning for a gunshot wound suffered after he was gunned down by a riding-in-tandem on Monday morning.

Sr. Insp. Ma.Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of Police Regional Office (PRO) in Bicol, said the publisher, identified as Larry Sy Que, was in front of his office building in Barangay San Isidro, Virac, Catanduanes when two gunmen on board a motorcycle shot him at close range around 10:30 a.m.

A witness, PO3 Ma. Teresa Reyes of the Virac Municipal Police Office (MPO), who was off duty and in civilian clothes, said she had talked with Que prior to the shooting.

She said Que had just finished a transaction at the Land Transportation Office, which was in front of his office, the Liberty Insurance Company, when the gunmen struck.

Reyes said the gunmen, who were wearing a bonnet, helmet and raincoat, shot Que in the head. She said the assailants escaped to an unknown direction.

Que was rushed to the Eastern Bicol Medical Center for treatment but he succumbed at 1:45 a.m. on Tuesday.

Calubaquib said Que suffered a gunshot wound on his head with the bullet piercing through his jaw.

Reports said Que ran for a mayoral post in Virac town during the May elections but lost. Two months ago, he also put up a local tabloid in Catanduanes.

The tabloid tackled the November 26 raid by a team of anti-narcotics lawmen of a clandestine shabu laboratory in Barangay Palta Small in Virac town that could process 9.6 tons of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) a month.

Catanduanes Provincial Board member Joseph Al Randie Wong strongly condemned the killing of Que during their regular session on Monday.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Virac chapter held a lighting of candles at Freedom Park in Virac on Tuesday evening to condemn the killing of Que. (PNA) RMA/GVR/JH/CBD/EDS

Legazpi City honors Taysan village for 'stray-dog-free' practice
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 20 (PNA) —- The city government of Legazpi handed over certificates of commendations and cash prizes to the six barangays (villages) and ten barangay health workers (BHW) who have shown outstanding performances in implementing the city’s rabies eradication and control program for 2016.

Nancy Andes, CVO chief, said the awarding ceremonies, which were held Tuesday at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation (ICR), named Barangay Taysan in the southern portion of the city as most outstanding in the “big barangay” category.

Andes, along with Mayor Noel E. Rosal, also handed certificates to Barangay Rawis and Maslog for being second and third place, respectively. All three winners were under the “big barangays” category.

Renato Valladolid, chairman of first place winner Barangay Taysan, commended the city administration and CVO for recognizing the efforts of the barangays in implementing the city’s anti-rabies program.

He said his barangay won in the search because he was able to properly implement the anti-rabies ordinance of the city.

The Barangay Council of Taysan also created a “Sagip Aso Program” (dog rescue program) to encourage animal owners to become responsible pet owners.

“I always inform my constituents that stray dogs are not allowed in our barangay,” said Villadolid.

He said these were the reasons Barangay Taysan has become a “stray dog-free” territory.

Under the “small barangay” category, the winners were Barangays Mariawa, Ilawod West and 19 Cabangan.

The most outstanding BHWs included Zenaida Toledo of Barangay Centro Baybay, Perla Mirafuentes of Barangay EM’s Barrio, Gloria Luzon of Barangay Penaranda, Lilia Botalon of Barangay Pigcale, Jacqueline Banzuela of Barangay Cabangan West, and Rowena Marfil, Ma. Fatima Bornilla, Josephine Benitez and Fe Apin—all of Barangay Oro Site.

Andes said there were three criteria for selecting the winners.

She said the barangays and BHWs must have achieved a “100 percent” rating in both its dog population survey and anti-rabies vaccination in their respective villages.

“They must have also conducted successful anti-rabies vaccination awareness programs in their barangays,” she added.

Andes said this year, CVO was able to vaccinate a total of 19,000 dogs in Legazpi City’s 70 villages.

She said that last year, CVO posted 1,650 animal bites, usually of dogs and cats, while in the first five months of 2016, CVO recorded a total of 375 animal bites.

“Anti-rabies vaccination is an annual activity of the CVO which seeks to eliminate the negative effects of animal bites and maintain the city’s status as a zero rabies territory,” said Andes.

She said rabies is a virus that affects the brain and spinal cord that may eventually lead to a person’s death. The symptoms include loss of appetite and weakness.

Andes urged all the barangay chairmen and BHWs to always cooperate in the city’s anti-rabies vaccination program to reduce and eliminate rabies cases in communities.

She urged all barangay officials to always inform the pet owners to be responsible in caring for their pets to reduce the cases of animal bites in the community.

“At the age of three months, the dogs and cats should be vaccinated and the owners of the animals should always consult a veterinarian regarding the status of the health of their animals,” Andes pointed out.

Rosal urged all the barangay chairmen and BHWs to always cooperate in the city’s anti-rabies vaccination program to wipe out rabies cases in the community. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/CBD/EDS

Monday, December 19, 2016

Bicol police recover cocaine bricks worth PHP100-M off Tiwi, Albay
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 19 (PNA) -- The government’s anti-drug campaign in Bicol got another boost after local fishermen turned over to local police authorities 18 bricks of cocaine that they found floating 100 meters off the shores of Tiwi town in Albay on Sunday night, said the top official of the Bicol police Monday morning.

Chief Supt. Melvin Buenafe, director of the Regional Police Office (PRO5), in an interview, said each of the cocaine bricks found in waters off Barangay Sogod, Tiwi weighed 1 kilogram each and that the 18 kilos of cocaine bricks could cost up to PHP100 million. Senior Insp. Jan King Calipay, chief of police of Tiwi Municipal Police Office (MPO), said two fishermen while on board a motorized banca found floating offshore a net full of “brick-like items wrapped with brown packaging tape.”

He said the two fishermen, Manuel Comota and Razel Bragais, informed Teresita Cericos, barangay captain of Sogod, about the package and immediately informed the MPO about it.

Buenafe thanked the fishermen and Cericos for their “courage in responding to the Philippine National Police’s campaign against illegal drugs.”

He encouraged the public to continue supporting the Philippine National Police (PNP) in its anti-drug campaign.

Calipay said the recovered cocaine bricks were submitted to the PNP crime lab for further testing.(PNA) BNB/GVR/CBD/EBP

Christmas cards, letters flood Legazpi City post office
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 17 (PNA) -- Amid the widespread use of social media like Facebook and various messaging apps, traditional postal services that require postage stamps for mails to be sent is enjoying a resurgence in this city, especially during the holiday season.

An official at the Legazpi City Post Office (LCPO) said they are now experiencing a "mail traffic problem" because of the huge volume of Christmas cards and letters that must be sent abroad.

“Many are still patronizing the old way of sending their messages and greetings to their loved ones, especially this yuletide season,” said Honorio Pecundo, postmaster 6 of LCPO.

He said as early as the middle of November they have been experiencing problems sending mails abroad, especially in the US and Middle East, where many Filipinos are living and working.

"In fact, we have suspended accepting mails going to the East Coast (in the US) and some parts of the Middle East where we are experiencing an extremely high volume of mails," Pecundo said.

He said LCPO has stopped accepting mails that are intended for the 14 US states in the East Coast like Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida and Cyprus and Yemen in the Middle East.

Among those who could not send her holiday greetings abroad is Amparo "Ampy" Luna, 76.

Luna, a resident of Barangay Pigcale in this city, said that three days ago, she tried to send a Christmas card through LCPO for her son, 50-year-old American national Michael Uenkingcard who is based in Virginia, but was told by LCPO that they have stopped sending mails to that US state.

Pecundo said LCPO’s counterparts in the US have been faced with lack of personnel who will deliver a big volume of mail this coming Yuletide season.

He added that they have also suspended the sending of mails to Cyprus and Yemen because of war in that part of the Middle East.

Luna said she usually prepares for the Christmas card that she would send to her son because she knows he would want to read it as many times as he would like to.

She believes a card has a more "personal touch" to it than if she were to send her holiday greetings through her cellphone or via the internet.

Luna said that her son told her he could not understand why the shipment of Christmas cards to the East Coast has been suspended.

“That's really weird and there's no reason for it," her son told her through Facebook.

Cesar Baliza, assistant post master, said they receive an average of 45,000 mails and letters on regular months while during special periods such as December they receive 60,000 mails and letters for shipment abroad.

He said they expect a similar number of mails and letters from other countries to be delivered monthly to 70 barangays in Legazpi City.

Baliza said after suffering a slump for many years due to competition posed by advanced technologies in the Internet the demand for postal services at LCPO has been seeing a significant increase this year.

He said even during the months outside of the holiday season they get “bulk volumes” of mails and letters from different government agencies, regional trial courts, Public Attorneys Office, private lawyers, commercial banks and insurance companies -- all of whom are regular clients.

Baliza cited PhilHealth as among those who contribute to their bulk volume of mails because of the PhilHealth cards they send annually to indigent members in various barangays in the city.

He said LCPO now has an average monthly income of PHP1.3 million or PHP13 to PHP14 million annually.

“There are even students who still patronize the old way of sending messages,” said Baliza.

But LCPO discovered however that majority of the letter senders do not know how to send a letter or mail properly as they are more familiar with cellphones, internet and other modern means of sending messages.

“They are confused as to where to put the name of the letter sender and receiver in the letter envelope and as to what is meant by the Zip code,” he said.

Baliza conveyed an appeal to the public, especially students and those who do not know how to fill up the face of the letter envelope, that LCPO personnel are willing to go to schools or even barangays to conduct an orientation on how to correctly do them to facilitate the sending of their greeting cards or letters to their loved ones. (PNA) JBP/GVR/JH/CBD/RSM

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

250 mothers join Legazpi City’s breastfeeding congress

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 6 (PNA) —- Some 250 mothers participated in a breastfeeding congress today, Tuesday, the second to be held this year by the City Health Office (CHO), so that the mothers in the city’s 70 villages could be more aware on proper infant and young child feeding practices.

City Health Officer Fulbert Gillego said the conference held at the Ibalong Conference Room inside the City Hall compound has the theme “First 1,000 days ni Baby Pahalagahan para sa Malusog na Kinabukasan,” (give importance to baby’s first 1000 days for a healthy future).

As in the first breastfeeding congress that was held in July, today’s undertaking is in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) Bicol.

According to the National Nutrition Council (NNC) the first 1,000 days of a child, which starts from conception and before the second birthday, presents a “golden window of opportunity” for nutrition and related intervention to achieve complete child development.

Gillego urged the mothers in today’s congress to always visit maternity lying-in clinics to be able to monitor the health of their babies.

He also asked the participants to regularly apply the breastfeeding system because the milk of the mothers has antibodies that will coat the intestines of their babies and serve as protection against any infectious diseases.

Gillego told the mothers that breastmilk is easy to digest and has the perfect nutrients for the baby’s health while at the same time ensure bonding of both mother and child.

He also informed the mothers about the danger posed by the Zika virus which can also affect the baby inside the womb of a pregnant mother.

Gillego urged the mothers to always maintain the cleanliness of their surroundings and to destroy all the possible breeding areas of mosquitoes in their villages to prevent the spread of the zika-virus carrying mosquitoes in the community.

During today’s breastfeeding congress, the CHO, along with its partners Luzon Health, a non-government organization and private firm IDEA Inc., provided a range of medical services to all the babies such as free medical consultation, immunization, newborn screening, de-worming and vitamin supplementation.

City Mayor Noel Rosal told participants that breastfeeding practices are not only good for poor mothers but even for rich families because of the health benefits, both for the mother and her baby.

He said the practice can also help reduce poverty incidence in the community because mothers would not need to buy expensive bottled milk.

Aside from conducting a regular breastfeeding congress, the city government provides legislative support for the breastfeeding practice.

The Sangguniang Panglunsod (city council) has enacted ordinance 0021-2015 during its 30th regular session on August 18, 2015 that require big public and private establishments and offices to establish a breastfeeding/lactation station within their premises.

The NNC has been coordinating efforts to achieve the goals of the Early Childhood Care and Development Intervention Package or ECCD-IP which is behind the concept for the “First 1,000 Days program.”

The program’s services that are being provided to local government units seek to reduce mortality and morbidity rates among children 0-23 months old; reduce the prevalence of stunting and wasting among children 0-23 months old; and increase the percentage of children 0-23 months old meeting developmental milestones. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/CBD

PRO5 announces no muzzle taping of police’s firearms during holiday season
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 12 (PNA) -- There will be no muzzle taping of the firearms of members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) nationwide this coming holiday season, especially on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, said a police officer of the Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5).

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said this was announced by Sr. Supt. Petronelli Baldebrin, PRO5 deputy regional director for operation, during their Monday morning command conference.

Baldebrin who attended the command conference last week at Camp Crame, said the verbal instruction on “no muzzle taping” was given by PNP Chief Ronald Bato Dela Rosa.

Calubaquib said the PNP chief has decided to depart from the annual muzzle taping of firearms because he does not want to endanger the lives of his men during the coming holiday season, especially with the continuous implementation of “Double Barrel Alpha,” the anti-illegal drug campaign of the PNP.

She said Dela Rosa has full trust on his men.

Calubaquib said, however, that any police officer found liable for firing indiscriminately will face criminal and administrative charges.

She said the police are old enough to have self-discipline during the holiday season.

We are here to protect and serve the citizenry by maintaining peace and order," Calubaquib added. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD/EDS

Catanduanes police file charges vs 11 suspects behind clandestine 'shabu' lab
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 12 (PNA) -- The Catanduanes Provincial Police Office (PPO) has charged 11 suspects at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the discovery of a clandestine "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) laboratory in Barangay Palta Small in Virac, Catanduanes more than two weeks ago.

Sr. Supt. Jeffrey Fernandez, director of Catanduanes PPO, said in his report Monday to Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, director of Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5), that in their amended complaint filed over the weekend, the 11 suspects were charged with violation of section 8 of Republic Act 9165 which penalizes the manufacture of dangerous drugs/and or controlled precursors and essential chemicals.

Fernandez identified the suspects as Paulo Uy and Jayson Gonzales Uy, allegedly the operators of the shabu lab who have remained at large.

Lorenzo Pirena II, the caretaker who was arrested during the Nov. 26 raid in the shabu facility, and Angelica Balmadrid, owner of the warehouse leased by the Uys that was converted into a secret shabu laboratory, were included in the charge sheet.

Also charged were Paulo Wee Palisoc, two Korean nationals identified as Phung Yuan Estoco and She Wang and a certain "Tore." Fernandez did not indicate the role of these four suspects in the shabu lab’s operation.

Fernandez said three others have been charged as accessories to the crime. They were identified as Lorenzo Pirena IV, and brothers Dennis and Roel Samonte.

The 11 suspects were charged in inquest proceedings at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor headed by Francisco A. Samonte Jr.

Fernandez said the anti-illegal drugs lawmen are still investigating the other possible suspects responsible for the operation of the shabu lab.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said there are groups of trackers that have been deployed by Buenafe to locate and arrest Jayson and Paulo Uy.

The duo are considered as the important missing links to other possible suspects involved in operations of the shabu lab in Virac town. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD/EDS

Bicolanos see promise in federal system of gov't

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 10 (PNA) -- Bicolanos who warmly welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit to Albay on Thursday for the seventh year anniversary of Federalismo Alyansa ng Bikol (FAB) said they see some promise in the federal system of government.

Among them was Benjamin F. Santiago, provincial convenor of FAB in Albay, who said the President’s visit showed he was sincere in pursuing reforms in government.

Convenors of the FAB movement in each of the six provinces of the Bicol region were presented by anti-crime crusader Dante Jimenez to nearly 3,000 local government officials in the region and representatives from various sectors who gathered at the Legazpi City Convention Center to listen to the President explain the merits of the new form of government.

The president emphasized that federalism would be advantageous for Bicol “so you could operate your own resources... so that these are not lost to corruption …with the bulk of money collected going down to your own pockets.”

Santiago said FAB was formally launched as the Bicol Autonomy Movement on Dec. 8, 2009 in Daet, Camarines Norte. He said, however, that in January 2015 when the President was still mayor of Davao City, the latter had suggested the change in name to FAB.

Aside from Santiago, the other convenors in the Bicol region, who pledged to sustain the advocacy for federalism during FAB’S founding anniversary celebration, were Dorothy Neil B. Doroin, Luis San Ramos, Susan Ordinario, Hamilcar Arregadas and Godofredo Ditan for the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon, respectively.

“Bicol is the only region which has a structure of federalism,” said Santiago.

At present, FAB is governed by an organizational structure with a Jimenez as its regional convenor and the six provincial convenors. The movement is expected to expand towards having district, municipal and barangay coordinators working as volunteers.

As part of its advocacy FAB is pushing for constitutional amendments to pave the way for the establishment of a federal system of government that it believes would help hasten development in the regions.

According to Raul Lambino, an official of PDP-Laban, the political party that helped Mr. Duterte win the presidency, the “creation of autonomous regions would serve as the transition for the federal” set-up from the prevailing unitary system of government.

Some Bicolano congressmen like Albay third district Rep. Fernando Gonzalez expect the federal form of government “to happen soon.”

He said federalism would be “for the good of the country, especially for the Bicol region.”

“Bicol has six provinces and it is perfectly set up to become a (Bicol Federal) state because it has its own congressional districts, cities, municipalities, barangays and local government units,” he added.

Gonzales is optimistic that the federal system of government can be realized in the next three years.

He said there were certain models in the world to follow but he was inclined towards the French government’s system, which is composed of a parliament and a president who is given strong powers.

“The Philippines needs a president equipped with certain powers so the country could be united and a parliament which also has powers to govern the states,” said Gonzales.

He believes in adopting the French model but said there should be room for “innovation” depending on what could be “applicable for the federal states.”

Gonzales said in Congress, where the deliberations on the constitutional amendments would occur, there would be some “adjustments” on how to distribute the resources and income of the country.

He cited that “there are regions and provinces which cannot stand alone” and those “poor and with no resources at all.”

AKO Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin, one of the members of the constitutional committee in Congress, said he was in favor of the federal form of government.

He said, however, that we should "determine first what kind of model suits the history, culture and experiences of the Filipino people."

"Hindi naman pwedeng basta na lang mag a-adopt tayo ng model ng sistema ng gobyerno ng ibang bansa na hindi naman bagay sa ating mga Pilipino at mismong sa ating bansa," (We should not just adopt any model or system of government in other countries that is not suitable for Filipinos and for our country) said Garbin.

Deo Eldiocada, 22, a resident of Sorsogon City and a political science student of the Divine Word College in Legazpi City, who was present in Thursday’s FAB convention, said he favored Bicol becoming a federal state.

"We will benefit directly from our own resources and wealth,” he said.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said it was still unclear what specific laws would be amended in the Constitution.

"We still have to wait for the committee,” he said.

During the FAB convention, President Duterte announced that he has issued an executive order creating a committee that will conduct a consultative study of the 1987 Constitution.

He was in Bicol on Thursday, also for the groundbreaking ceremony for the Php 4.8-billion Bicol International Airport in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, Albay. (PNA) RMA/JORGE HALLARE/RSM

Ligao City gets award as Bicol’s most “friendly municipality to senior citizens”

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 9 (PNA) -- The local government unit (LGU) of Ligao City has been recognized with four awards by the Department of Health in Bicol (DOH-5) for providing quality health care to its constituents, that include ensuring a health program that is most friendly to senior citizens, in awards rites held today in this city.

This annual recognition called the “7th Salud Bikolnon 2016 awards” is given by DOH-5 to its partners, who have performed well in implementing health programs in the city.

Salud is a Bicol term for health.

The awards are focused on the theme: “Gabos Para Sa Salud, Sa lud Para Sa Gabos,” that refers to DOH’s flagship health agenda under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte--“All for Health Towards Health for All.”

Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua and City Health Officer Dr. Wynns Samar received the four awards from DOH-5 Director Napoleon Arevalo while DOH-5 Assistant Secretary Nestor F. Santiago Jr. acknowledged the honorees during the awarding at the La Piazza Convention Center, Tahao Road, Legazpi City.

Aside from being named as “Senior Citizen-Friendliest Municipality,” the LGU of Ligao was also commended for being one of the top performing LGUs in the Bicol region for providing essential health services to the poorest members of the community.

Ligao Rural Health Unit was recognized as “orally fit community” in the LGU category while the Ligao City Health Office was named “Best Achiever on Belly Gud for Health” and “Best Implementer of the National Tuberculosis Control Program.”

DOH-5’s health program aims for a health system for Filipinos which ensures financial protection, better health outcomes and responsiveness.

The program also seeks universal health coverage and the attainment of health-related “Sustainable Development Goal” targets that were laid down as universal goals for developing countries by the United Nations over a 15-year-period beginning 2016. (PNA) RMA/CBD/RSM

Friday, December 9, 2016

President Duterte leads groundbreaking of P4.8-B Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay
By Connie B. Destura

DARAGA, Albay, Dec. 8 (PNA) -- President Rodrigo Duterte with Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Thursday led the groundbreaking rites for the long-delayed P4.8-billion Bicol International Airport (BIA) project in Barangay Alobo in Daraga town, Albay province.

The groundbreaking marked the start of the P708-million construction work of the landside facilities of the airport project that is seen to boost tourism and economic development not just in Bicol but in the entire Southern Luzon.

Elizaldy Co, owner of Sunwest Construction and Development Corp., contractor of the BIA project, in an interview, said the project carries a two-year time frame.

He said “the project would be completed by 2019.”

Co said the landside facilities consist of 17 buildings for administration, cargo terminal, air traffic control, crash fire rescue, power house, maintenance, material recovery facilities, pump room and water reservoir, chilled water pump house, chlorination house 1 and 2, guard houses and headquarters of the Department of Transportation (DOTr)-Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

The government has initially spent some P1.6 billion for the airport project for the acquisition of the lands and the construction of a 2.1-kilometer runway.

Implementation of the airport project was delayed for 11 years as this was conceptualized and approved during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and passed on to President Benigno Aquino III.

The project should have been operational this year but despite the availability of funds, work was snail paced due to lapses in the bidding process. Construction work has been confined to the airside while the structures at the landside area of the proposed airport are still being worked out.

Funds for the airport project were released in three tranches: P300 million in 2009 and another P300 million in 2010 for concrete road construction and site development. The P970-million funding released in 2012 was spent for the construction of the 2.1-kilometer runway.

Once finished, the BIA project will not only totally address the technical limitations of the existing Legazpi airport due to frequent flight cancellations but will also provide safer air transportation to the growing number of passengers because of the booming tourism industry in the area.

The BIA lies in a 148-hectare area with 2,100-meter runway strip. It will be equipped with night landing capability and take-off facilities, control tower, passenger and cargo terminal, car park, fire station and other modern facilities.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said that as President Duterte led the groundbreaking rites of the “BIA Package 2” project, he requested the President and Sec. Tugade to revise the airport’s design.

He said he has asked DOTr to redesign the BIA airport so it could meet the required standards of an international airport.

Bichara said that after a consultation with known architect Felino “Jun” Palafox, the latter told him that the international airport had yet to start operating but “it seems the facilities are already obsolete.”

Palafox specifically requested that there should be a revision of the airport taxiway to make room for the planes’ arrival and departure.

He also noted that the existing two-lane road networks that connect the airport to the Maharlika highway should be expanded to a six-lane road to meet international standards.

Albay second district Rep. Joey Salceda thanked Mr. Duterte for his decisive action in giving the go-signal for the airport’s construction.

He expressed confidence that the international airport will sustain the gains of Albay’s tourism with foreign tourist arrivals shooting up from 8,700 in 2007 to 339,000 in 2015 during his term.

Together with the new South Railway project, Salceda said he is confident foreign tourists will triple to 1.2 million by 2025 and make Albay an economic powerhouse.

The President affirmed his support in reviving the railway system in the Bicol region so the region could catch up in its infrastructure development.

He said the railway system in Southern Luzon could be completed in two to three years time as long as it is not tainted with corruption. (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD/MSA

President Duterte assures Bicolanos VP Robredo will stay in her post
By Connie B. Destura

DARAGA, Albay, Dec. 8 (PNA) -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday assured the Bicolanos that Vice President Leni Robredo will stay in her post, dismissing speculations that there are moves to unseat her after the camp of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos filed a protest with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal asking for a recount in areas where he allegedly got zero votes.

The President made the assurance in an ambush interview on Thursday after gracing the groundbreaking ceremony for the long-delayed P4.8-billion Bicol International Airport (BIA) project in Barangay Alobo in Daraga town in Albay.

Also on Thursday, he was in Albay to attend the seventh founding anniversary of the Federalismo Alyansa ng Bicol (FAB) at the Legazpi City Convention Center. Regional convenor of FAB is Dante LA. Jimenez.

“I will assure Leni and the people of the Bicol region that they will have her until the very end of her term.”

Mr. Duterte, when asked to comment on Robredo’s statement about alleged moves to remove her by some political forces close to Duterte, strongly declared “there is no such thing as removing the Vice President as she has done nothing wrong.”

President Duterte assured the Bicolanos that Leni Robredo will remain as Vice President of the Philippines.

In July, Duterte made a phone call to Robredo to head the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council but early this week, Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco Jr. told the Vice President that the President wanted her to "desist from attending all Cabinet meetings starting Monday, December 5.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

President Duterte expected to grace Bicol International Airport groundbreaking on Dec. 8

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 6 (PNA) —- The construction of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Barangay Alobo, Daraga is seen to push through after 12 years of delay.

This, as President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to come to Albay to grace the groundbreaking ceremony for the project on December 8 as announced by Ako Bicol partylist Representative Alfredo “Pido” Garbin.

Garbin said the President will visit Albay to grace the launching of government programs and projects, one of them the groundbreaking ceremony.

Construction of the P4.8-billion BIA project has been delayed for over a decade after two former Presidents Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Mr. Benigno Aquino 111 failed to implement the project that was widely expected to spawn development in the Bicol region.

The BIA was a flagship project of Macapagal-Arroyo, which her administration upheld to boost tourism and economic growth not just in Bicol but in the entire Southern Luzon.

But the project did not take off after former Albay governor and now Albay second district Rep. Joey Salceda abandoned Arroyo’s administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro in favor of Aquino during the 2010 presidential polls. Aquino was a classmate of Salceda in college.

The Aquino administration also promised to pursue the project as part of his pledge to the Bicolanos during the 2010 presidential elections. Again, it did not materialize due to the snail-paced release of its budget.

In June, following Mr. Duterte’s assumption in office, the Bicol representatives in Congress asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to hasten construction of the international airport. They blamed former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Emilio "Jun" Abaya for not prioritizing the project.

The Bicol legislators told DOTr further delay in the airport project will continue to hamper economic growth in the Bicol regon.

In May this year, the DOTC was reconstituted into two separate government agencies--DOTr and Department of Information and Communications Technology.

Construction of the international airport was first tackled and proposed at the Regional Development Council (RDC) during the term of Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara in the late 90’s up to early 2000. It was later pursued by Joey Salceda who became governor of the province after Bichara.

Bichara has assumed office as governor of Albay while Salceda is now second district representative of the province.

The RDC in Bicol, which is under the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), is a key advisory body that promotes development in the region. It develops policy proposals on development issues affecting the countryside and serves as a liaison between commissions and relevant national government agencies.

When Bichara was elected Albay governor in May and subsequently voted as chairman of RDC here in Bicol he asked DOTr to revise the feasibility plan for the airport due to technical lapses which do not comply with international standards.

He said the feasibility study, which was poorly done, did not provide for adequate taxiways and has no provisions for a passengers’ tube. He said the study which was done by DOTC then was just “relocating the Legazpi airport facility to Daraga.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/RBB/CBD

250 mothers join Legazpi City’s breastfeeding congress

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 6 (PNA) —- Some 250 mothers participated in a breastfeeding congress today, Tuesday, the second to be held this year by the City Health Office (CHO), so that the mothers in the city’s 70 villages could be more aware on proper infant and young child feeding practices.

City Health Officer Fulbert Gillego said the conference held at the Ibalong Conference Room inside the City Hall compound has the theme “First 1,000 days ni Baby Pahalagahan para sa Malusog na Kinabukasan,” (give importance to baby’s first 1000 days for a healthy future).

As in the first breastfeeding congress that was held in July, today’s undertaking is in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) Bicol.

According to the National Nutrition Council (NNC) the first 1,000 days of a child, which starts from conception and before the second birthday, presents a “golden window of opportunity” for nutrition and related intervention to achieve complete child development.

Gillego urged the mothers in today’s congress to always visit maternity lying-in clinics to be able to monitor the health of their babies.

He also asked the participants to regularly apply the breastfeeding system because the milk of the mothers has antibodies that will coat the intestines of their babies and serve as protection against any infectious diseases.

Gillego told the mothers that breastmilk is easy to digest and has the perfect nutrients for the baby’s health while at the same time ensure bonding of both mother and child.

He also informed the mothers about the danger posed by the Zika virus which can also affect the baby inside the womb of a pregnant mother.

Gillego urged the mothers to always maintain the cleanliness of their surroundings and to destroy all the possible breeding areas of mosquitoes in their villages to prevent the spread of the zika-virus carrying mosquitoes in the community.

During today’s breastfeeding congress, the CHO, along with its partners Luzon Health, a non-government organization and private firm IDEA Inc., provided a range of medical services to all the babies such as free medical consultation, immunization, newborn screening, de-worming and vitamin supplementation.

City Mayor Noel Rosal told participants that breastfeeding practices are not only good for poor mothers but even for rich families because of the health benefits, both for the mother and her baby.

He said the practice can also help reduce poverty incidence in the community because mothers would not need to buy expensive bottled milk.

Aside from conducting a regular breastfeeding congress, the city government provides legislative support for the breastfeeding practice.

The Sangguniang Panglunsod (city council) has enacted ordinance 0021-2015 during its 30th regular session on August 18, 2015 that require big public and private establishments and offices to establish a breastfeeding/lactation station within their premises.

The NNC has been coordinating efforts to achieve the goals of the Early Childhood Care and Development Intervention Package or ECCD-IP which is behind the concept for the “First 1,000 Days program.”

The program’s services that are being provided to local government units seek to reduce mortality and morbidity rates among children 0-23 months old; reduce the prevalence of stunting and wasting among children 0-23 months old; and increase the percentage of children 0-23 months old meeting developmental milestones. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/CBD

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

PNP prepares raps vs 2 Taiwanese suspected of operating 'shabu' lab in Catanduanes

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) —- A top police official in Catanduanes said they are preparing to file charges against the two Taiwanese nationals suspected to be the operators of the clandestine shabu laboratory that was raided by the police in Barangay Palta Small in Virac, Catanduanes more than a week ago.

“A case of violation of section 8 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 9165), that penalizes the manufacture of dangerous drug/and or controlled precursors and essential chemicals, will be filed against Taiwanese nationals Jayson Gonzales Uy and Pascual Uy before the Provincial Prosecutors Office in Catanduanes,” Senior Supt. Jeofrey Fernandez, acting director of the Catanduanes Provincial Police Office (PP0), said in his report to Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) Director Melvin Ramon Buenafe.

Fernandez said six plastic containers found with a white crystalline substance inside the shabu facility disguised as a warehouse had tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu".

He said one rectangular plastic container with 792 grams of the substance had tested positive for shabu while five round containers had 360 kilograms of ephedrine, that could be deemed “as almost finished products of shabu.”

Police report said in March this year, the two suspects leased the warehouse from Angelica Balmadrid.

The suspects, however, eluded arresting anti-narcotics lawmen on Nov. 26 when the raid was conducted. Jayson Uy’s abandoned getaway vehicle was later recovered by the police in Caramoran, Catanduanes. The two suspects are now the subject of police manhunt operations.

Police said equipment found in the facility showed it could produce 9.6 tons of shabu per month. Authorities said the facility is probably the biggest among similar facilities they have raided since July, the start of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the case will be submitted for regular filing this week at the prosecutors’ office.

Calubaquib added the recovered copy of the CCTV cameras and a blue book found with Chinese characters with corresponding amounts have already been submitted for forensic examination to the forensic and cybercrime divisions in Camp Crame.

She said they are optimistic the results from the two divisions would be very useful as strong evidence against the suspects. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

National Nutrition Council-Bicol honors 'nutrition achievers' among LGUs

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) —- Local government units (LGUs), their officials and “Barangay Nutrition Scholars” (BNS) across the Bicol region, who have successfully implemented the government’s various programs on nutrition, will be given awards by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) in Bicol on Tuesday (December 6).

“The efficient and effective implementation of the nutrition program has not only resulted in sustained reduction of malnutrition among the children in the community but has also given honor and prestige to performing LGUs,” said Arlene Reario, NNC-Bicol head.

She said these awards “speak well of the selfless dedication and cooperation of the leaders and nutrition workers with the support of the community.”

Reario said the awarding ceremonies that will start at 1 p.m. at The Oriental Hotel will have as keynote speaker and guest of honor Dr. Azucena M. Dayanghirang, newly-installed deputy executive director of NNC.

The top performing province for nutrition is Sorsogon while in the city category, Tabaco and Legazpi is first and second, respectively.

Reario said the “Green Banner Awards” for outstanding performing municipalities are Bulusan in Sorsogon and Guinobatan in Albay.

She said awards will also be given for the top 10 performing barangays in nutrition, and the 12 LGUs in Bicol with the lowest prevalence of malnutrition in 2015.

Naga City will be given a special award as the “most efficient Bicol LGU in nutrition program implementation,” said Reario.

To be honored as “Regional Barangay Nutrition Scholar” (RBNS) is Wedona B. Ariola, BNS of Barangay Quitago in Guinobatan, Albay. BNS Jocelyn B. Buena of Barangay Panicuason in Naga City is first runner-up while BNS Merly B. Lopez of Barangay 22, Binanuahan East in Legazpi City is second runner-up.

Six more outstanding provincial and city BNS will receive certificates and cash awards from NNC.

The regional nutrition achievers were determined by an interagency regional evaluation team who evaluated the LGUs in Bicol from May 4 to October 27. Some 300 participants, who are members of the regional nutrition committee headed by Department of Health Bicol Director Napoleon L. Arevalo, members of the regional technical working group and regional evaluation team (RET), and members of the nutrition committees at all levels, are expected to witness the celebration, Reario said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/SMT/CBD

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bicol police exec: Shabu lab in Catanduanes can process 100 kgs of shabu per cycle

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- A top police official in Bicol, who inspected the clandestine shabu laboratory in Virac, Catanduanes after it was raided by a combined team of antinarcotics lawmen last Saturday, said the facility could produce around 100 kilograms of "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) per cycle.

“The shabu laboratory was discovered five months since 71 bulks of shabu with an estimated street value of P2.13 million was recovered by the police in Barangay Balangonan in Pandan, Catanduanes,” said Bicol Police Director Ramon Melvin Buenafe, in an interview Tuesday.

He said the shabu facility raided on Saturday was inside a warehouse located in Barangay Palta Small in Virac town.

Buenafe said the warehouse, that used to manufacture plastic, is on a 400-square-meter lot owned by Angelica Balmadrid and leased in March this year to Jayson Gonzales Uy, a Taiwanese national.

“It is equipped with closed circuit television cameras,” he said.

Benafe said the raiding team found a hydrogenator, weighing scale, various glasswares, motorized mixing apparatus and chemicals believed to be ingredients in producing shabu.

He said the getaway vehicle of Uy, who fled after the Saturday incident, has been recovered after it was abandoned at Caramoran town, also in Catanduanes.

Buenafe said the warehouse caretaker, a certain Laurence Perenia, is now undergoing investigation and police are preparing to file charges against him.

He said an anti-illegal drug alliance in the province called “Kasurog Kontra Droga” has helped discover the shabu laboratory.

Buenafe thanked those who provided information so the police could organize a team that conducted the operation.

Meanwhile, Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua and Virac town Mayor Samuel Laynes denied allegations linking them to illegal drug operations in the island province.

Cua said election propaganda has been linking his name to illegal drugs since the 2004 elections.

"I was really surprised about this because Catanduanes is just a small area for a shabu laboratory," he said.

Cua said it is his first time to hear the name of Uy, lessee of the property where the shabu facility was found.

The governor, whose business has expanded from San Andres town to Virac over 20 years ago, said the truth will come out once Uy is arrested.

"I'm glad this was discovered so we will know who is really involved in illegal drugs in Catanduanes," said Cua who was elected governor during the last May elections. He replaced Araceli Wong as governor but prior to Wong’s term, Cua was also governor from 2010 to 2013.

On the other hand, Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes said the shabu laboratory was already constructed even before he became the town mayor.

"I don't know why my name is being linked to the shabu laboratory," he said.

Laynes added he was part of the team which secured the area when it was inspected by Buenafe.

Police data showed more than 600 drug personalities have surrendered in Virac since Oplan Tokhang was launched in July.

Laynes said the illegal drug campaign has covered all the 62 barangays in the provincial capital of Virac.

"We are proud to say that we have conducted an intense and saturated campaign against illegal drugs in Virac," he said Leynes, formerly the general manager of Catanduanes Electric Cooperative before becoming Virac mayor.

He said there were more than 600 drug surrenderees in Virac since Oplan Tokhang was launched July 1 this year.

The team which inspected the shabu laboratory was headed by Buenafe and included Supt. Alex Pederio of Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group, Chief Insp. Edgar Moraleda of Catanduanes Public Safety Company and Catanduanes Provincial Police Office headed by Chief Insp. James Ronatay Balmadrid, the lot owner and Laynes joined the inspection team. (PNA) LAP/GVR/ALAN TAN/EDS

DSWD-Bicol provides shelter units to Bicol’s oldest tribe

LABO, Camarines Norte, Nov. 28 (PNA) -- The Kabihug tribe, the oldest surviving tribal group in the Bicol region, no longer dwells under the trees, especially during bad weather conditions, after housing units were constructed for them through a core shelter assistance program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol.

Arnel B. Garcia, DSWD Bicol director, said to date, 70 shelter units have been built through the agency’s Core Shelter Assistance Project (CSAP) that has received support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

He said since the project started in 2009, 23 shelter units out of the 70 core units have been given to Kabihug families so they could cope with extreme weather events brought by climate change.

The Kabihugs, also known as Agtas, who live in the highlands of Camarines Norte, are of pre-colonial origin whose culture has been preserved through the ages.

Kabihug literally means “friend,” a cultural minority who subsists on root crops, rice and vegetables that they grow in their farms.

“Rice is often hard to come by and is readily substituted with a root crop called “dogma,” said Garcia.

He said the Agtas thrive on fishing and catching crabs, copra making, charcoal making and gold mining.

Garcia said the tribal group is known to seek refuge under big trees during heavy rains that makes their lives miserable and devoid of dignity.

“They sleep in improvised beds while taking shelter in makeshift dwellings framed in wood and roped with leaves with the hard ground as flooring,” he said.

Garcia said because of their isolation, the Kabihug tribe members have lost their network of ties with families and kin that used to provide members with assistance, privileges and protection.

“The Kabihugs, who have their own history of contact with society, wanted to be placed somewhere on a spectrum from ‘isolation to acculturation,’” he said.

Garcia said to improve the living conditions of the Kabihug tribe in Camarines Norte, DSWD-Bicol, the provincial government and the municipal government of Labo, started implementing CSAP that initially benefited five Kabihug families in 2009.

He said the project aimed to provide indigenous families with decent dwellings they could call their own.

In fact, there were 18 Kabihug families who have signified their intention to avail of the program and be relocated to a permanent site,” Garcia said.

In 2010, UNDP linked arms with DSWD to construct another 65 core shelter units, 18 of which were allotted to the 18 Kabihug families.

Garcia said the tribal folks later realized there was more that could be derived from the project’s implementation.

Lorelie Villanueva, municipal social welfare officer of Labo town, helped organize the CSAP beneficiaries into the Neighborhood Association for Shelter Assistance or NASA.

Garcia said the beneficiaries, who were actively involved in the project’s implementation, worked collectively so they could an realize their dream of having a home they could call their own.

Doris Candule, one of the Kabihug recipients, said the house given to her family has been of big help as they will no longer move from one place to another, particularly during bad weather conditions.

“There will be no more sleepless night for us during typhoons and heavy downpour,” she said.

Garcia said following the assistance given by the government and UNDP, the Kabihug tribe is now closely working with other local communities and sharing their knowledge in community building.

He said some tribe members are now employed in the Guisican Multi-purpose Cooperative that engages them in the planting of fruit bearing trees for P250 a day.

Garcia said tribe members were also provided with disaster preparedness training and given orientation on an early warning system for different calamities.

“These trainings are helpful to them especially that they travel from one place to another,” he said.

Garcia said DSWD has provided them with around a hundred battery operated transistor radios as requested by their tribal chieftain, who said they need these as source of information, especially when there are weather disturbances.

He said that while transistor radios serve as a means for information dissemination, 70 percent of the tribe’s members have their own mobile phones. (PNA) LAP/GVR/RHAYDZ BARCIA/EDS

PNP official says Catanduanes 'mega shabu lab' could be the biggest, most upscale raided since July
By Jorge Hallare

VIRAC, Catanduanes, Nov. 30 (PNA) -- A high ranking official of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) anti-illegal drugs group making an inventory of the "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) laboratory found in Virac, Catanduanes said it could probably be the biggest such facility discovered since the start of the government's anti-illegal drug campaign in the country in July.

Senior Supt. Bert Ferro, director of PNP’s Anti Illegal Drugs Group, said the facility operating inside a warehouse in Barangay Palta Small, Virac is a “mega-sized” shabu laboratory because it can produce up to 9.6 tons of shabu a month.

Ferro’s team is now on its fourth day of inventory of the equipment and chemicals found inside the warehouse since the raid on Saturday by a combined team of anti-narcotics lawmen.

“This is bigger than the clandestine shabu laboratory we have found and raided in Cauayan town in Isabela months ago wherein only two hydrogenators were recovered by PNP operatives," he said.

Ferro said the shabu lab in Virac is more upscale than any other laboratory because of the type of apparatus and equipment found that uses two systems in manufacturing shabu.

He said the Virac facility simultaneously uses the “Rigai” and hydrogenator systems in manufacturing the illegal drugs.

“The Rigai system uses heat while hydrogenator uses water in manufacturing shabu,” said Ferro.

He said they found six hydrogenators in Virac, each of which can produce around 1.2 tons per cycle or weekly so that the six machines can produce an estimated 9.6 tons of shabu per month.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Bicol Director Ronald Ricardo, also said the Virac facility is the “biggest” they have found since July.

He said PDEA suspects the laboratory has already produced a big amount of shabu before it was discovered.

Ricardo admitted that even before the search warrant was served on the facility, they had been receiving some intelligence reports regarding Jayson Gonzales Uy, lessee of the 400-square property where the warehouse is located, but they have not found any evidence to link him in the illegal drug trade in Catanduanes until last November 26.

Chief Inspector Josephine Clemens, crime forensic chemist of the Scene of the Crime Operatives in Catanduanes, said they found six big plastic drums with around 360 kilograms of precursor or ephedrine which is the primary ingredient in manufacturing shabu.

She said the equipment and chemicals found in Virac's shabu laboratory are all major requirements in producing illegal drugs.

Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) Director Melvin Ramon Buenafe said they expect another week to be able to finish their inventory of the big volume of chemicals and large number of equipment found in the facility.

He said after the inventory, they will start an exhaustive investigation on those involved in the operation of the shabu laboratory.

Buenafe added that Laurence Perenia, caretaker of the shabu lab, has been charged with violation of Republic Act 9165 or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

He said PRO5 operatives have been sent to track down the whereabouts of Uy and a certain Pascual Uy, the suspected operators of the shabu lab, after they eluded arrest during Saturday’s raid.

Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes, in an interview, admitted that the discovery of the shabu lab in his town was a shock to him and the town’s residents.

He said they are saddened about the discovery of the drug laboratory in their town.

"This is a very big issue against us but I remain steadfast in my campaign and duty to cleanse our town against illegal drugs, petty crimes and other social problems,” said Laynes.

He urged the people to remain calm and avoid speculations but maintained a strong support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign “to make the nation safe for all people at any time and day in any street and place." (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/EDS