Saturday, March 25, 2017

Albay youth group to hold peace rally
By Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, March 24 (PNA) -- The Team Albay Youth Organization Inc. or TAYO is set to hold a whole day peace rally that seeks to put an end to the armed conflict being waged by insurgent groups on March 29.

Alfred Nimo, president of (TAYO), a civic group that actively helped in post-disaster humanitarian work in areas devastated by typhoon Nina last December, said the activity is an undertaking of the 91st Civil Military Operation Company; different community-based organizations; and youth, religious and media groups.

He said a short program will be conducted at the Albay Freedom Park, also known as Peñaranda Park, starting at 6 a.m.

“The activity is to show full support to the government's campaign to have lasting peace and protect the interest of civilians against any form of abuse,” Nimo said.

Joey Cabang, commanding officer of the 91st Civil Military Operation Company, said multisectoral support is important so all forms of abuse against civilians could be checked.

“We are conducting a series of dialogues in the communities to explain our mission which is peace and order,” he said.

Cabang said the most common problem of villagers in upland barangays (villages) are the armed encounters initiated by various armed groups.

He said the military is strongly urging village officials and community-based organizations to help put an end to the insurgency and promote peace in the communities.

“As much as possible we want to prevent any armed encounter that is why we keep advocating for peace,” Cabang added.

He added that the message of the peace rally is to have a peaceful environment.

He added the peace rally will also ask participants to commit in the quest for peace in various upland villages. (PNA)

Lawmen nab trader, teenager in Camarines Norte for illegal drug possession

NAGA CITY, March 24 (PNA) -- Police on Friday were preparing the filing of charges against a businessman and a teenager who were arrested late Thursday afternoon in Daet, Camarines Norte for possession of shabu (methampthetamine hydrochloride) and drug paraphernalia.

Supt. Victor E. Abarca, public information officer of the Camarines Norte Provincial Police Office (PPO), said Rodel D. Leona, 44, the businessman and Aldrin R. Ubana, 19, were found in possession of nine heat-sealed plastic sachets of shabu when a combined team of lawmen from the Daet Municipal Police Office, provincial intelligence police and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency pounced on them.

Abarca said Leona and Ubana were at the house of Leona in Purok 6, Barangay Borabod, Daet when the composite team of operatives implemented the search warrant against them. Ubana is a resident of Jose Panganiban town, also in Camarines Norte.

An improvised burner and tooter were also confiscated from the two drug suspects who were detained at the Daet municipal jail.

The search warrant served by the arresting team was issued by Judge Evan S. Dizon, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 40 in Daet.

Abarca said the two drug suspects will be charged with violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002. (PNA) JEJR

DA chief stresses 'technology, financing, marketing' in dialogue with Ligao City farmers, local execs
By Connie B. Destura

LIGAO CITY, March 24 (PNA) -– Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piňol turned over PHp20 million worth of agricultural production inputs and facilities to Bicol on Friday during a dialogue attended by 600 farmers-leaders and local officials in this city wherein he stressed how giving attention to “technology, financing and marketing” could adequately help the country’s farmers and fishermen.

During the dialogue called “TAPATAN: Gobyerno at mamamayan (face-off: govt and citizens)" he said it is important to help the farmers and fishermen because both the agriculture and fisheries sectors are “the hope of this country, nothing else.”

“Let's go back to the countryside because the countryside is the life of our country," Piňol said.

Emily Bordado, Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bicol information officer, said DA distributed during the event 100 bags of hybrid seeds, 200 bags of urea fertilizers, and 300 bags of open pollinated white corn seeds — all worth PHp420,000.

She said a unit of rice processing center or RPC 1 worth PHp6 million will be handed to the Monoporong Farmers Association Inc. of Oas, Albay while a cacao processing equipment worth PHp350,000 that include a roaster, grinder and cracker with cleaner and power sprayer will be given to the Kawa-Kawa Organic Planters Processors Association of Ligao City.

Bordado said 100 sets of garden tools and 100 packs of assorted vegetable seeds worth PHp170,000 will also be given to women's groups from towns in the third district of Albay while 100 heads of ducks and 10 heads of sheep worth PHp135,000 will be given to Nabonton 4-H Club of Ligao City.

The third district towns in Albay include Guinobatan, Ligao City, Oas, Polangui and Libon.

Bordado added a warehouse and combined harvester worth PHp5.6 million will be turned over to PhilRice or Philippine Rice Research Institute, a government corporate entity attached to DA that is tasked to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce sufficient rice for all Filipinos.

Piñol said to achieve the goals in the agriculture sector of the country, the government should enhance technology in the farms, financing schemes for farmers and the marketing of their produce.

He said in terms of technology, DA has introduced the solar-powered irrigation system that will do away with the building of a dam. In this regard, he added the department is set to distribute 10 solar powered irrigation systems in selected pilot areas.

DA has also launched the website "" which will specify the appropriate agricultural products to be planted in specific areas.

"We made this guide map because for so long farmers just guess what to plant in their farmlands without really knowing what kind of land they have and what fertilizers they really need,” Piňol said.

He added that the system seeks to do away with the “guessing game in farming” which Filipinos of all ages have been doing for a long time now.

Piñol said that with the intervention and help of the government, farmers can now plant based on soil suitability and climate condition.

He said that “another page is expected to be launched soon” when DA can show farmers how water source can be detected in different barangays.

The DA chief said in terms of “financing”, the total loan package that farmers could avail of amounts to PHP3 billion with nine loan programs that can cater to both farmers and fishermen.

He said he has submitted to Congress a draft bill that will change the requirements before a loan could be obtained.

Piñol added “the requisites do not include asking for more collaterals” from farmers and fishermen.

The farmers, however, must be registered with the national registry of farmers and fishermen so they could avail of the “farmers-fishermen quick credit facility.”

Piñol said the farmers can avail of up to Php50,000 (PHp 25,000 for agricultural products and PHp 25,000 credit line) that can be released “within a period of three days.”

He said there will be another modification in terms of mode of payment of loans such that maturity of the loan will be determined by the kind of agricultural seeds being planted compared to the current practice of making the farmers pay for their loans the following year.

The DA head added the department will support the farmers, “who will be the ones who will engage in marketing their own products,” through cooperatives to be organized by DA.

He said the cooperatives will be given tractors, planters, harvesters, dryers and a rice processing facility so that by harvest time the farmers can bring their products to the market already.

Piñol stressed the produce of the farmers will become useless if the farmers are not helped in bringing them to the marketplace.

From Ligao City, Piňol is expected to proceed to Casiguran, Sorsogon where he will be joined by Senator Francis Escudero for the turnover of boats and fishing paraphernalia to identified fisherfolk. (PNA)

Scientists record steam emissions from Mt. Mayon’s summit to assess lava dome activity
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, March 24 (PNA) -- A group of scientists from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and Earth Observatory of Singapore, along with civil defense officials, conducted an aerial survey over Mount Mayon on Friday morning to gather steam emission directly from the summit of the active volcano so activity inside it could be recorded in “real time.”

Eduardo Laguerta, resident volcanologist of Phivolcs-Legazpi, said the group that included five chemists and led by Dr. Regan Rebadoria, collected steam emissions near the summit for their “real time monitoring” of the situation inside the volcano.

He said they will compare the real-time data with the recorded data gathered through the so-called remote monitoring that uses Phivolcs’ instruments installed at its observatory stations in Barangay Masarawag in the town of Guinobatan and in Malilipot town, both in Albay.

According to Laguerta, they sometimes find difficulty gathering sulfur dioxide or SO2 emissions because of unfavorable weather condition that tend to provide inaccurate data.

“This is why we gather plumes from the summit itself (when the weather is fine),” he said.

Laguerta added the volume of gas gathered from the volcano is very important for a “complete” record of the observed parameters of Mayon’s activity.

He said another reason for the real-time monitoring is to get a picture of what’s inside the lava dome when viewed from the summit.

Laguerta said they need to get the data on the volume of materials inside that have remained from the 2014 phreatic (or steam-driven) explosions of the volcano.

“The power inside the volcano is ascertained by the depth of magma underneath which also causes the swelling or inflation of the mountain,” he said.

He added that the data they had gathered during their “precise leveling” at Mount Mayon in January showed a “slight inflation” that was added to the “inflation recorded” during the explosion of Mayon years ago.

“Even if physically Mayon is quiet we do not really know what is happening underneath her,” said Laguerta.

He said the present study and observations are significant as they are wary of the ensuing danger should there be a sudden phreatic explosion, especially now that it is summer.

Laguerta said the slightest explosion of ash puffs is already extremely dangerous, especially at the volcano’s rim.

He explained that even if the surface of the lava dome is hardened there is steaming liquid underneath that could pose a lot of danger when sudden phreatic explosions occur.

Laguerta said when this happens “the 45 degree slope of the mountain could trigger an avalanche of pyroclastic materials,” referring to the cloud of ash and lava fragments carried through air and vapor during volcanic eruptions.

He said geologists from Phivolcs-Manila again plan to conduct a “precise leveling” around Mayon volcano on the first week of the second quarter to get the latest data of the inflation of Mayon.

Laguerta said they would compare it with the result of the SO2 emissions gathered during the aerial survey today.

He added that whatever result they would get they will present it to the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, that is in charge of disaster risk reduction and mitigation efforts in the province, and to members of media. (PNA)

Archdiocese of Caceres launches 4th short filmfest on Bicol patroness 'Our Lady of Peñafrancia'

NAGA CITY, March 24 (PNA) -- The Archdiocese of Caceres in partnership with the Department of Education, Naga City government, Bicol Association of Catholic Schools or BACS in Libmanan and Caceres Commission on Communications (CCCom) launched on Thursday (March 23) the fourth Peñafrancia Short Film Festival 2017 as part of preparations for the annual regional religious fiesta in September.

But unlike the three previous short film festivals honoring the ,"Our Lady of Peñafrancia" or "Ina" to her legion of devotees, which tap the talents of amateur filmmakers, this year’s organizers want to showcase the talents of student filmmakers.

Organizers said to qualify in the festival the entries must be submitted by those from Grade 7 to Grade 12 and studying in any school in the Bicol region.

Only one entry in each school will be accepted with all members of the production team officially enrolled for the first semester of schoolyear 2017-2018.

Also, the actors in the film must be enrolled with the exception of the roles involving elderly actors. The mentor or coach of the production team is required to be officially employed in the participating school.

To be listed among the official entries in the short film festival, the organizers require the submission of a filled-up registration form and letter of intent and payment of P1,000 registration fee on or before June 20, 2017.

Entries that had been featured in local and national competitions, uploaded in the social media and other platforms are disqualified and only original creations that do not violate violation copyright laws could be accepted.

The past three short film festivals in honor of Ina gave top recognition to the short films created by Ronald Rebutica (Sakay, 2013), Jordan de la Cruz (Nawawara, 2014) and Aljanmar Rebeta (Laboy, 2015).

Fr. Louie Occiano, CCCom head, said all the three top filmmakers in the previous three short film festivals are now into indie filmmaking.

He said this year’s festival, which aims “to bring the pulpit to the cinema,” carries the theme “bridging communities through Christian values and Ina.” Student filmmakers should interpret the theme in a film not shorter than 10 minutes but not longer than 20 minutes in length.

Occiano added the short film festival opens opportunity for student filmmakers to bring out their talents in promoting the devotion to the Bicol patroness and at the same time be able to reach out to the young generation and devotees wherever they may be.

Entries to the short film festival will be judged by a panel of professional filmmakers, documentarians and selected staff from CCCom.

According to the rules of the festival, the short film must “highlight the role and identity of every lay faithful and the essence of devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia.”

Included in the criteria for the content of the short film are that it should courageously portray Christian values, promote deep faith in God and include Filipino or Bicolano culture and identity.

The short film festival “definitely disqualifies immoral, defamatory, obscene or scandalous content or similar content deemed unfit for the theme of the festival or Christian values,” said Occiano.

The winners who will make the cut after the deadline of entry submission on August 15, 2017, will receive cash prizes of P50,000 with trophy for the best picture; P25,000 and trophy for second best picture; and P15,000 for the third best picture.

During the launching of the short film festival, Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona pledged to add P10,000 more for the best picture prize and P5,000 more for the second and third best picture prizes. (PNA) JEJR

Thursday, March 23, 2017

DOLE grants PHp2.1-M livelihood packages to 6 villages in 2 Bicol provinces
By Gina V. Rodriguez

LEGAZPI CITY, March 23 (PNA) —- Six villages and 333 villagers in Albay and Camarines Norte have benefited from a total of PHp2.1-million livelihood packages given over a one-week period by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said an officer of DOLE-Bicol.

The distribution of the livelihood packages, which were given from late February to early March, were part of the labor department’s Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program or DILEEP, which seeks to provide an alternative livelihood to identified beneficiaries and ease poverty in the communities, said Raymond Escalante, DOLE-Bicol’s public information officer.

“We are not only giving away free stuff but what we are giving here, really, is the hope for a new life and new beginnings,” DOLE Bicol Director Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, said.

In Camarines Norte, five barangays (village) in Labo town received P1.5-million worth of livelihood package consisting of small hand tools, materials and equipment for 239 beneficiaries.

DOLE Camarines Norte Provincial Head Jane L. Rolda had reported that the beneficiaries were “very happy” with their new livelihood with some who “even shed tears of joy.”

She said the distribution was done in each of the five barangays in late February.

“The livelihood grant was distributed as follows: Barangay Macogon-70 beneficiaries with a budget of PHp465,927.43; Barangay Bagacay-46 beneficiaries with PHp313,644.19; Barangay Bautista-59 with PHp397,348.32; Barangay Pangpang-25 with PHp101,073.08 and Barangay Pag-Asa-39 with PHp270,013.57,” reported Rolda.

She said the package distribution was identified based on the skills of the beneficiaries and included start-up materials for food preparation, carpentry, welding, vulcanizing, appliance repair, dressmaking, tailoring, bag making, cosmetology, electronics servicing, automotive servicing, car wash, haircut servicing and beauty care.

Trayvilla said in 2016, 12 barangays in Labo town took interest in DOLE’s livelihood program to help their disadvantaged but skilled constituents rise from poverty.

She said DOLE has so far granted the wish of nine out of 12 barangays in Labo town.

In Albay, Ella Verano, DOLE Albay head, said 94 beneficiaries in far-flung Barangay Balogo in Oas town received a PHp0.6-million livelihood grant from DOLE.

She said the PHp629,800 livelihood package consisted of materials, small hand tools and equipment which correspond to such skills as welding, food preparation and sewing.

“If summed up, each beneficiary received some PHp6,700 worth of materials,” she added.

Verano quoted a beneficiary who said he was very thankful for the opportunity given by DOLE.

“With this we can start our own small business and support our family. Again thank you very much DOLE Bicol,” said the middle-aged beneficiary who Verano said declined to be identified.

According to her, the local government unit of Oas also signified its willingness to avail of the same project under their current poverty alleviation program.

Trayvilla stressed the livelihood program is open to all qualified beneficiaries.

She reiterated however that DOLE wants to look for those beneficiaries who really want to start anew as DOLE is keen on its livelihood program really reaching the grassroots. (PNA)

PHp511-M modern fish port to soon rise in Sorsogon
By Bobby Q. Labalan

BULAN, Sorsogon, March 23 (PNA) -- A modern fish port is expected to rise within the year in this coastal municipality of Bulan in Sorsogon as government officials led by Senator Francis Escudero held the groundbreaking ceremony here Thursday.

According to lawyer Glen Pangapalan, general manager of the Philippine Fishery Development Authority (PFDA), the two-phased infrastructure costing PHP511 million, which will be equipped with modern facilities, will cater to the needs of Sorsogon province and the Samar and Masbate provinces as well.

He said phase 1 of the facility, which will start construction soon, will cost PHP 111 million while the second phase costing PHp400 million is set for construction in 2018.

Pangapalan said the fish port, which will be the ninth such facility in the country, is envisioned to boost the fishery sector in the province.

The existing mini-fish port is owned and being managed by the municipal government of Bulan.

Escudero, who initiated the project, said he hopes that the facility will invigorate the fishery sector in the province and help the marginalized fishermen.

“Through this modern fish port, we hope to elevate the income level of our fishermen by providing them with the necessary assistance especially in selling their catch,” he said.

Escudero urged the local government and the community to help in the proper maintenance of the facility.

After the ground-breaking, the municipal government led by Mayor Romeo Gordola formally turned over the ownership and management of the existing port to PFDA. (PNA)

DOT Bicol cautions public on fake online travel agencies
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 23 (PNA) -- The Department of Tourism in Bicol has alerted the public about bogus travel agencies offering too-good-to-be true travel packages with low prices for both domestic and international sites that turn out to be non-existent, especially during the summer season.

“If the travel packages are too good to be true, these are not true and are illegal,” said Bobby Gigantone, administrative officer of DOT-Bicol.

He said the tourism department does not have any police power to run after these illegal online travel operators.

“(But) we will be making advisories and declare the travel agencies that are accredited with the Department of Tourism,” Gigantone said in an interview Wednesday night.

He said the advisory will include information if the tour operator has a mayor's permit which is one way of ensuring the travelers are protected and safe.

Gigantone said travelers plan their Bicol trips for more than a year only to find out that the places they will be visiting are different from what was initially advertised.

“That’s what we're afraid of especially if they are operating here in Bicol,” he said.

Gigantone said these fake tour operators will be tarnishing Bicol’s image.

He said DOT-Bicol does not tolerate online travel agencies.

Gigantone said the tourism department, which is “upgrading and reconstructing its website,” has a Facebook fan page where the public can view the list of accredited tour operators, travel agencies and tour guides who can assist them.

He said the department has the hotline number 742-5004 for tourists who cannot afford tour packages, such as backpackers and those who go for solo or budget trips, the so-called “tipid” trips.

“We can assist them so they can experience what's truly ‘Gayon Bicol’ (Beautiful Bicol),” he added.

Gigantone said Camarines Sur is the top destination for local and foreign tourists as it is the biggest province in the Bicol region with so many activities to offer.

He said the province offers a lot of island hopping, one of them to the famous Caramoan Island.

Gigantone said next to Camarines Sur travelers favor Albay, Camarines Norte (where the famous Calaguas Group of Islands is located), Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes.

He said the tourism department has always been reminding the local government units (LGU) to be conscious about projecting a good “image brand” which could be achieved not just by focusing on the business aspect of enticing travelers to their places.

Gigantone said “service, safety and security” should be of utmost consideration to the LGUs seeking to attract a big number of visitors to their places.

“The success of whatever efforts made in tourism lies in the hands of the local government, who should be able to serve and not just do business,” he said.

He added that for resorts with facilities like swimming pools, DOT-Bicol is coordinating with the Philippine Coast Guard to ensure that all amenities are there such as life savers and life guards, especially in private resorts and public beaches in various municipalities.

Gigantone advised LGUs to have a “lot to offer” so that tourists can go to their places.

He cited that LGUs should offer new destinations in their areas, ensure these are accessible and that there are accommodations, good eating places and transportation facilities.

Gigantone said these components affect tourists’ preferences on which place to visit that would give them a fulfilling experience.

In January, DOT-Bicol records showed that domestic and foreign tourist arrivals in all the six Bicol provinces and six cities in the region, that were recorded from January to June 2016 increased by 26.6 percent compared to the same period in 2015.

The total number of combined domestic and foreign tourists was 2,202,003 million from January to June 2015 while for the same period the total arrivals in the region was 2,787,719 million.

“Bicol is now a promising and rosy tourist destination compared to the other areas in the country as the number of visiting tourists, particularly foreign tourists, has tremendously increased annually, said Maria O. Ravanilla, DOT-Bicol director.

Ravanilla, in an interview, said the “Bicol region has now emerged as one of the top five tourist destinations in the country compared to its ‘sluggish’ performance during the early ‘90s.” (PNA)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bicol police plans response center in Legazpi similar to 911 of US, Davao City
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, March 22 (PNA) —- A newly created special working committee started planning Wednesday for the establishment of an emergency response system similar to the 911 of the United States and Davao City which will have Legazpi City as its command center.

The committee, which was created by the Regional Advisory Council of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5), is composed of representatives from local government units and other line agencies with second district Representative Joey S. Salceda as the chairman. The latter is also the chairman of advisory council.

To be called "Legazpi City Metropolitan 911”, the response center will respond to any emergency in this city and in the nearby towns of Daraga and Camalig in Albay.

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, PRO5 director, first introduced to the advisory council in July last year the concept of an emergency 911 for the Bicol region.

This was after he and some of his directorial staff visited and observed the command center of "Davao 911."

He said it would be of big help to all Bicolanos especially during times of calamity and emergencies.

The members of the special working committee are City Administrator and former councilor Carlos Ante of Legazpi City; Supt. Nilo Berdin, chief of Legazpi City Police Office; and representatives from Daraga local government, Office of Civil Defense, PRO5, Department of Interior and Local Government, Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital, academe and non-goverment organizations.

Salceda said that instead of creating a Legazpi City, Daraga and Camalig Urban Alliance for police, disaster and health emergency response, they instead thought of creating the Legazpi City Metropolitan 911 to serve as the command center.

He said Daraga and Camalig towns have been included because “whatever happens in Legazpi City will affect the two nearby towns.”

“The emergency 911 command center will also respond to emergencies like traffic problems and accidents,” he said.

The committee has commissioned a private group to do the application system or "Apps" that will be installed in the proposed command center and all the partner agencies like the police stations of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, hospitals or health response team, ambulances, Philippine Army and other agencies as needed.

Salceda said they are pushing for a private Information Technology group which could be commissioned to create a special application for the benefit of disabled persons.

He said they will allocate an initial fund of PHP40,000 for the "app system" in the command center so it can function.

“We will need at least half a billion pesos to complete all the (components of the) system,” he said.

Ante said metropolitan 911 will be very helpful and useful to all Legazpeńos for any emergency case that needs immediate response.

He said they are hoping to implement it the soonest time possible.

“In just one click, nandoon na agad ang mga responders," (responders could be easily summoned with just one click) Ante added. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

Village chiefs in Tiwi, Albay enjoined to discuss PNP’s drug war during assembly
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 22 (PNA) —- The head of the Tiwi Municipal Police Office has reminded the heads of the town's 25 barangays to provide an update to their constituents on the war against illegal drugs during the synchronized barangay assembly that will be held on Saturday.

Senior Insp. Jan King Calipay, Tiwi chief of police, said the assembly will be an opportunity for the people to be heard and be involved in discussions with local officials in the village level on important issues in their communities.

“We are planning to discuss the results of the war against illegal drugs and to ask the people to pledge their support to the Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya – Mamamayang Ayaw sa Iligal na Droga (MASA-MASID) program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG),” he said.

Calipay explained that the campaign against the proliferation of illegal drugs is being continuously pursued by the Philippine National Police (PNP) with police operations ongoing in all the barangays of the town.

He said any barangay which has been declared “cleared” of the illegal drug problem will still be subjected to police operations against both “big-time” and street level drug personalities.

Calipay said nearly all barangays in Tiwi have been declared as “drug-clear” while Barangays Cale and Joroan are still in the process of declaring their barangays as such.

Declaring a barangay as “drug-clear” is a prerogative of the PNP in the area which conducts massive police operations, information education campaign and police-community relations work with support from various sectors in the locality such as the church, schools, non government organizations and business groups.

The Philippine Drug and Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which supports the PNP in the drug war, is tasked with declaring a village as “drug-free” based on the parameters set by the Dangerous Drugs Board.

Calipay said the Tiwi MPO has recorded the arrest of six drug personalities and the surrender of 724 persons who are either users or pushers of illegal drugs.

Pursuant to Memorandum Circular No. 2017-31 dated February 20, all barangays have been enjoined to conduct a barangay assembly for the first semester of 2017.

The activity is set on March 25, 2017 with the theme: "Sulong Barangay Kontra Droga, Krimen at Katiwalian: Makialam! Makilahok! Makiisa!" (Onward against drugs, crime and corruption: Get involved and be one with the community).

A barangay-based program that encourages volunteerism to curb crime, corruption and the drug menace, MASA-MASID is implemented through a MASA-MASID team that engages in advocacy and education campaign; information gathering and reporting; and community-based rehabilitation program for drug dependents. (PNA)

Monday, March 20, 2017

BIR-Bicol head confident of reaching PHP10-B collection target
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 20 (PNA) -– Newly appointed Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Bicol Director Edgar B. Tolentino told participants to Monday’s region-wide kick off for this year’s tax campaign that he is confident tax collections in the region will reach their goal of PHP 10.9 billion.

"I am extremely positive that we can reach our goal for this year in Bicol which is Php 10.9 billion,” he said as he explained the event is part of the localized information campaign to encourage taxpayers to pay the right taxes.

Tolentino said BIR records showed the collection for the past year had indicated a 16.25 percent increase over the previous year.

“We are expecting a growth rate of 20 percent from the 333,000 strong registered taxpayers (in the region)," he said.

Over a thousand local government officials, BIR’s partners among government line agencies, businessmen and groups of taxpayers’ organizations in the region attended the launch of the tax campaign which carries the theme "Tunay na Pagbabago" (true change).

The event that was held this afternoon at Casablanca Convention Hall in this city, was led by BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay.

He said the government derives 80 percent of its revenues from the BIR but these are contributed by the taxpayers.

“Taxes are the ‘lifeblood’ of our country. The government will not run without taxes that are contributed by the people,” he added.

Dulay cited that taxes are the sources for government’s infrastructure program and payroll of local and regional governments.

“Even the salaries of the street sweeper comes from your contributions (taxes),” he added.

Dulay said the BIR and taxpayers are “partners” in ensuring that the government continues to operate.

“Without your cooperation and your taxes the government will not run,” he said.

The tax campaign launch emphasized the role of the taxpayers in helping the government attain the change it aspires.

Tolentino said that even as BIR is committed to attaining its collection target its primary obligation is to ensure “improvement in taxpayer’s satisfaction” in the services rendered by the agency.

He said BIR will also focus on regaining public trust and confidence in its services.

Tolentino said aside from these goals, the BIR also seeks to “adopt an expanded compromise settlement program” for certain kinds of taxpayers.

He added the partnership of the BIR and taxpayers will help “sustain and strengthen our beloved nation." (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD

Mayor explains federalism scenario to women from city’s 70 villages
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, March 20 (PNA) —- Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal has asked members of the city’s women’s federation to support the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in its proposal to change the system of government from the current presidential to federal form.

Rosal endorsed the federal set up during Sunday night's celebration of National Women’s Month that was held at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here and had for its theme “We make change work for women.”

Attended by women representatives from the city’s 70 barangays, the event featured whole-day activities, that included talks on how to generate alternative sources of livelihood to help the women become empowered in their communities while rice packages were also handed out to the women at the close of the event.

Rosal said in a federal form of government, women’s organizations play an important role in the local government’s projects, especially in strengthening sustainable sources of income for the family.

“We are highly centralized under our present presidential form of government because almost all policies and decisions come from the national government,” he said.

Rosal said, however, that a federal set up will result in a decentralization of the government as some powers of the central offices will be transferred to the local governments.

He explained that in a federal set up, the central government only has jurisdiction in the areas of national defense, foreign relations, currency, commerce and citizenship.

“But the local government will have the power to impose its own taxes and has the freedom to utilize its natural resources and deliver social services that include public education and housing,” Rosal added.

He said a decentralized government can impose lower tax rates to improve the investors’ confidence so they can be encouraged into putting up more business establishments.

Rosal explained that such a scenario will result in the development and progress of the “states” or local governments.

He told the women’s federation members that in a federal set-up, the senators in Bicol will be enacting laws and adopting different policies that can be implemented only in the entire Bicol region but not in the whole country.

Rosal said the other regions will also have their own senators whose legislative measures can be implemented in their own regions. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/CBD

DOLE-TESDA tie-up gives more jobs to villagers in Sorsogon
By Gina Rodriguez

LEGAZPI CITY, March 20 (PNA) —- A tie-up by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Technical Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) has given livelihood opportunities to 70 villagers in Sorsogon City and four municipalities in Sorsogon province.

Raymond P. Escalante, information officer of DOLE-Bicol, said Monday a total of P651,315.76 worth of livelihood kits have been awarded early this month by DOLE-Bicol to 70 graduates of TESDA’s Special Training for Employment Program (STEP).

He said Marilyn L. Luzuriaga, DOLE Sorsogon provincial head, had reported that the beneficiaries composed of 9 dressmakers, 17 tune-up engine technicians, 9 construction painters, 17 cosmetologists and 18 tile setters came from various barangays in Sorsogon City and the municipalities of Castilla, Magallanes, Barcelona and Prieto Diaz.

“The villagers from Sorsogon were the first batch of STEP beneficiaries ever awarded with livelihood kits in the entire Bicol Region,” said Atty. Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, DOLE-Bicol director.

STEP’s training program, which consists of short-term modules, addresses specific skills needs of the communities through enterpreneurial, self-employment and service-oriented activities that will promote employment.

Initiated in 2014, STEP is in line with the thrust of TESDA to expand the reach of its technical, vocational, education and training (or TVET) programs to the grassroots and “increase the employability and productivity” of beneficiaries.

Jose V. Serrano Jr., TESDA-Sorsogon provincial director, said he is thankful to DOLE for being its allied partner in providing livelihood support to STEP’s beneficiaries.

Trayvilla said the partnership with TESDA is a “real tool” in efforts to “lessen if not stop unemployment” in the Bicol region.

She said after STEP, the common problem of graduates is how to “start up.”

“Some of the graduates seek employment but most graduates want to test their skills and venture into small businesses but their financial resources are often minimal so they cannot afford to buy the necessary tools and equipment,” she said.

Trayvilla said combined with the STEP of TESDA, DOLE Bicol’s livelihood program can attain its real goal to generate sustainable alternative sources of income. (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD

PDEA seizes P6-M 'shabu' in Milaor, Camarines Sur

NAGA CITY, March 20 (PNA) -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) confiscated one kilo of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) estimated to be worth P6 million during a search warrant at a residence just in front of the police station in the town of Milaor, about five kilometers away from Naga City, Sunday night.

PDEA Agent Noe Brigel said the shabu was found and seized in the house of siblings McNiel and Tristan Abines, after a composite team of PDEA agents and policemen enforced the search warrant issued by Executive Judge Pablo Fomaran of a regional trial court in Naga City.

Brigel said it took them one month of surveillance operation of the suspected illegal drug trading of the “pushers” before applying for the search warrant and pouncing on them around 9 p.m. Sunday when they were finally able to carry out the operation.

He said aside from the Abineses, four other persons -- Ivan Soreta, Meland Cabase, Bobby Pequit and Ben Araojo were inside the residence at Diaz St. corner Ibarlin St. in Barangay Del Rosario.

Brigel said the house of the Abineses siblings is being used a drug den and the four other persons who were arrested were “users.”

“The shabu seized (in Milaor) is so far the biggest that has been confiscated by PDEA this year in Camarines Sur,” he said. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JEJR/CBD

375,224 4Ps program beneficiaries in Bicol to get rice subsidy- DSWD
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 20 (PNA)-- A total of 375,224 households in the region will benefit from the rice subsidy provided by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

Arnel Garcia, Department of Social Welfare and Development regional director said the rice subsidy is a commitment of President Rodrigo Duterte that was made during his first State of the Nation Address in 2016, to ensure that all Filipinos will be free from hunger and poverty.

The PHP600 subsidy shall be given to the 4Ps beneficiaries.

Garcia said the rice subsidy will be implemented based on the provisions of the General Appropriations Act of 2017 which was reiterated by DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

Garcia said Taquiwalo has in turn issued a memorandum to the regional offices of the department that explicity stated that the rice assistance will be in the form of cash.

The household beneficiaries in Bicol as of January 31, 2017 are as follows: Albay--77,947; Camarines Norte--32,663; Camarines Sur-113,360; Catanduanes- 15, 796; Masbate-75,015 and Sorsogon-60,443.

In Bicol, Garcia said the provision for rice subsidy covers only the “registered, active and compliant” 4P households from ‘regular Conditional Cash Transfer’ or CCT and ‘Modified Conditional Cash Transfer’ or MCCT, including those who will be classified as ‘transitioning beneficiaries.’”

“They must be monitored by the program and have been compliant with at least one program conditionality monthly before they receive the same (rice subsidy),” he added.

Garcia said a household who has one child who attends school regularly as a condition for the 4Ps cash subsidy will get rice subsidy for the month the child has been compliant.

He said another scenario is when a household complies with both “FDS attendance and applicable health conditionalities” even if there is no compliance to education (conditionality) will be given rice subsidy for the months they have been compliant.

FDS refers to the “Family Development Sessions” conducted monthly by social workers assigned to clusters of 4Ps households in several barangays where they tackle a range of topics such as proper waste disposal, disaster mitigation or dengue prevention in the communities.

On the other hand, the “health conditionalities” refer to health programs undertaken in the community by barangay health workers and rural health units such as immunization for the newborn and “weighing” of schoolchildren to check against malnutrition which 4P members are required to uphold.

He said a complaint household is entitled to PHP600 per month of rice subsidy or a total of PHP7,200 per year.

Garcia said the rice subsidy will be given on a bi-monthly basis.

“The first subsidy will be released this month (March 2017 payout),” he said.

Garcia said it is given only for their compliance in January 2017.

Households that are compliant in December 2016 but not in January 2017 will not be given the said subsidy.

For the next payout, which is in May 2017, the compliant household will receive a rice subsidy of PHP1,200 if it is compliant for both February and March.

“But if the household is compliant in February but not in March, it will only receive PHP600 and not PHP1,200,” Garcia explained.

He said the rice subsidy was a commitment made by President Duterte.

“It was adopted as a policy by this administration and was included in GAA 2017 for DSWD,” said Garcia.

He said for now, coverage of rice assistance is until December 2017, the last payment of which shall be received by compliant households (4Ps beneficiaries) in March 2018. (PNA)

Vet office in Legazpi City starts vaccination, stray dog elimination program
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, March 17 (PNA) -- The head of the City Veterinary Office (CVO) said they have started the vaccination and capture of stray dogs roaming around villages and subdivisions in the city as part of its “high density vaccination and stray dog elimination” program.

Dr. Nancy Andes, head of CVO, said that from March 1 to 16, they have recorded 2,006 dogs who have been vaccinated in 10 of the 70 villages of Legazpi City.

She said CVO was also able to capture 111 stray dogs which were found roaming around the streets unattended during the same period.

Andes, in an interview, appealed anew to dog owners in the city to be responsible pet owners.

She said the dog owners should put up their own animal pound in their backyards to ensure the dogs could not roam the streets and other public places.

“This is one way of reducing dog bites and preventing spread of rabies cases in the community,” she added.

Andes said the city’s dog elimination program also aims to prevent vehicular accidents that are sometimes caused by dogs that roam the main roads.

“All the pet owners are required to register their dogs at their respective barangay halls. The CVO will also issue a dog registration certificate to the pet owners,” she said.

Andes said pet owners should have their registered dogs vaccinated at the age of three months and must always consult a veterinarian on the health status of their animals.

She urged the owners of dogs captured in the streets to claim their pets at CVO or the dogs will either be given up for adoption to other interested pet lovers or impounded at the city’s animal pound in Barangay Banquerohan.

The vaccination and dog elimination program are part of the implementation of the city’s anti-rabies ordinance that supports the national government’s rabies control program.

Pet owners violating the ordinance shall pay a fine of Php 1,000 or imprisonment of 5 to 10 days for the first offense. Second time offenders will pay a fine of Php2,000 or be meted a prison term of 15 to 20 days while third time violators will pay Php3,000 or be jailed from 25 to 30 days.

Anti-rabies vaccination is CVO’s annual activity that seeks to maintain the city’s status as a zero-rabies territory.

Rabies is a virus that may affect the brain and spinal cord of the victim. Patients who manifest the rabies infection show loss of appetite and weakness that could lead to death.

Andes said her office has been conducting annual lectures on “responsible pet ownership” and “rabies awareness” for pet owners during barangay assemblies. (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/CBD

Friday, March 17, 2017

AKB Partylist solon seeks to regulate ride-sharing platforms
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 17 (PNA)-- AKO Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe has filed House Bill 4891 or the “Transportation Network Service Act” that classifies ride-sharing platforms like Grab and Uber as public utilities that should be regulated by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Batocabe, in a statement sent to PNA, said the measure, if it would be passed into law will standardize the regulation of riding platforms such as Grab and Uber.

HB 4891 has defined the “online-enabled transportation services” as “transport network vehicles” which could be deemed as public utilities that should be regulated by LTFRB.

Batocabe said passage of this law would set strict guidelines to ensure the safety of passengers.

“With the emergence of online-enabled transportation services that connect transportation mediums and passengers, the government should take action to make sure that the safety of the riders and drivers is guaranteed at all times,” he said.

Batocabe explained that the additional modes being made available for public transportation would also compel existing taxi operators to improve their services.

He added the legislative measure would decongest roads by encouraging car owners to leave their vehicles at home and use a Grab or Uber instead and at the same time improve the people’s mobility.

“It (HB 4891) also aims to diminish the presence of vehicles in roads by promoting car-pooling or ride-sharing,” said Batocabe.

Citing a study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA, Batocabe said there is a big need to decrease land traffic as it contributes PHP2.4 billion in economic losses each day for the country.

“Transport network companies could not just waive liability when there is a breach on the contract of carriage,” he said.

He added that transport network service operators should approach rider and driver safety with “due diligence.”

HB 4891 would prohibit the transport network firms from evading liability and escaping accountability when issues arise between riders and passengers.

The measure also requires the transport network companies to keep records of electronic receipts issued by the drivers.

“This shall be the basis for the taxes to be imposed upon operators to be collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” as stipulated in the measure.

According to Batocabe, the proposed bill would also address the gaps in policies of Department Order (DO) 2015-11 released by the Department of Transportation in 2015.

He said that even as DO 2015-011 had provided the rules for accreditation of transport network services, many taxi operators were frustrated because ride sharing platforms do not undergo the same “austere regulation imposed on taxis.”

Under HB 4891, transport network companies should apply for accreditation to be able to operate, which will be subject for renewal every two years.

Drivers would also have to comply with prescribed requirements before being allowed to operate their vehicles and cater to the riders.

Batocabe said transport network companies will be mandated to make available the computation of fares for the information of the riders.

He said this means these companies would be prompted into explaining their “surge pricing” policy that has resulted into extremely high fares for the riding public.

Batocabe said during the last holiday season many ride-sharing users had protested the surge pricing policy of the ride-sharing platforms.

“This can be attributed to the lack of information as to how these rates were computed,” he said.

Batocabe added that HB 4891 would also inhibit drivers from discriminating riders due to their disabilities.

“No additional charges should be imposed on people with disabilities,” he said.

He added that riders should also have the option to request for vehicles that can accommodate equipment such as wheelchairs.

Over the last three years, Uber and Grab became popular, particularly in Metro Manila, with the advent of the android phone that has allowed cellphone users the option of getting a ride home simply by downloading the Uber and Grab app and transacting online.

Despite the legal and regulatory challenges that they have been facing, Uber and Grab continue to enjoy the patronage of the riding public because commuters find ease in getting their services.

Private car owners who operate under Uber and Grab also offer brand new vehicles that afford great comfort to riders weary of navigating through traffic for a long period of time each day they go to work. (PNA) FPV/GVR/CBD

Robredo to pursue legal action vs people behind online expose

NAGA CITY, March 17 (PNA) -- Vice President Leni G. Robredo is determined to pursue legal action against the people behind an online expose who cast a shadowy and criminal character of her late husband Jesse M. Robredo, a 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for government service and an icon of good governance practices.

On March 4, a blogspot under the name of an anonymous group called “We are collective,” published through social media the so-called #Nagaleaks with allegations against the longest-serving mayor of Naga City that linked him to "jueteng", illegal drugs and the disappearance of a former city councilor, among others.

“Even though it will be very difficult for us because the people behind the online expose are hiding behind anonymity, we will pursue legal action. We are studying the case now,” Robredo, speaking in Bikol Naga, told some 2,000 supporters conducting a prayer-rally against cyberbullying at Plaza Rizal here on Thursday night.

The prayer-rally was attended by the group that calls itself Silent Majority, Ateneo de Naga University, University of Nueva Caceres, Universidad de Sta. Isabel, Millennials PH, Daughters of Charity, Bantay Familia, Naga City People’s Council, Senior Citizens Association, Organization of persons with disabilities or PWDs and Urban Poor Association.

It was also attended by the local officials of Naga City and Camarines Sur third district Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr.

Vice President Robredo said she ignored the online attack against her that started during the election period last year but it continued even after she had won the polls against Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

She said she cannot anymore ignore the online expose that attacked the name of her husband Jesse who cannot defend himself now since he has been dead for almost five years now.

Robredo said the attack did not only destroy the name of her husband but the name of Naga City as well.

She said it was #LeniLeaks in January but when March came it was already #NagaLeaks which already involved the name of the city itself.

“We know how hard we have built this city to achieve its present status. Nobody has the right to destroy the name of this city,” she added.

Robredo said the people of Naga City had worked hard to build a good reputation for the locality.

She said the problem with the online expose is that it peddles the same lies which had been answered and proven untrue by her husband when he was still alive.

Robredo said she has no problem if the expose were confined to Naga City because she is confident the people will not believe it.

The crowd gave a negative response when she roused them to ask if her husband had ever been involved in the illegal numbers game jueteng, drugs and murder.

Robredo said that if the cyberbullying could not be stopped it will continuously create division among the people of Naga City who could be pinpointing at each other due to posts in the Internet that have no basis.

She advised the crowd to avoid sharing fake information by blocking these items when they appear in their Facebook timeline.

Trinity Mayor, a leader of the Silent Majority, said they organized the prayer-rally because the online expose against Jesse Robredo had been rehashed and issues thrown at him which were proven untrue when he was still alive.

“We cannot keep silent now because this cyberbullying is not only destroying the name of the late Jesse Robredo but the people of Naga City who believe in his ideals,” said Mayor.

Paz V. Santos, a retired professor of the De La Salle University, said there is someone or force behind cyberbullying who wish to destroy the name of Jesse Robredo and his wife and will benefit from the slur on their name.

“We, as people of Naga, demand that these trolls, naysayers and twisted evil doers stop and let us go on with creating a society that is right and just,” Santos said.

Christopher Molin, leader of the PWDS, shared his testimony regarding the accessibility and openness of Jesse as a public servant who gave importance to their sector.

“We are witness to the genuine openness and leadership of Jesse Robredo in Naga City. We should not believe whatever stories that taint the name of our former mayor because we know that he was not like that,” Molin said.

He said it is the people of Naga who know the legacy of good governance that Jesse Robredo had left behind.

Naga City Mayor John Bongat was conspicuously absent in the gathering after his wife Farrah complained of cyberbullying from people belonging to the Liberal Party.

In a press conference held early this week, Farrah issued statements saying she was cyberbullied through Facebook posts that she had linked to “high profile and/or staunch supporters/sympathizers and personalities appearing to be associated directly and indirectly with Liberal Party and its officials.”

Farrah, in her Facebook posts before she deactivated it on Tuesday, had shown her support to President Duterte with photos welcoming him at the Naga Airport during his visit last year at the Army camp in Pili town. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JEJR/CBD

Czech firm invests in Bicol

NAGA CITY, March 17 (PNA)-- One of the biggest Czech companies engaged in giving credit to people “underserved by traditional banks” is establishing branches in Bicol cities that include Naga, Legazpi and Iriga, according to Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olsǎ.

He announced during a visit to this city that Czech company Home Credit has opened in Naga City to serve customers who are not usually served by commercial banks.

“They (Home Credit) opened in Naga City in November last year. It is a company that’s giving small credit to the people who can’t receive credit from the banks,” Olsǎ said.

He said the Czech company, which has already employed about 5,000 Filipinos all over the Philippines, opened in Legazpi City last February and will later establish a branch in Iriga City.

Home Credit’s website claims the company focuses “on responsible lending to people with little or no credit history, who may be undeserved by traditional banks.”

It further claimed that for 2016, it has given 114,309,976 loans worldwide and continues to develop new operations in Indonesia, the Philippines and India.

It considers the three Asian countries as representing “significant growth opportunities for the future.”

In the Philippines, Home Credit said it was able to expand operations from 13 to 21 provinces in 2016.

“In Indonesia, Home Credit is on track to hit the one million customer mark by 2017. India has seen an acceleration in new loans rising almost 178.0 percent year-on-year while in the Philippines it increased to 433.8 percent and Indonesia 251.0 percent,” the company added.

“In India, Home Credit has continued to expand its footprint and is now present in nearly 70 cities in 14 states, servicing customers in 11 languages though almost 6,000 point of sales,”it added in its website.

It said that in 2016, Home Credit further expanded its operations in most established markets in China and Vietnam.

“In both countries, Home Credit has become a major contributor to the local consumption-driven economy, employing 64,000 in China alone,” the website declared.

China remains Home Credit's biggest market with over 141,000 retail outlets at the end of 2016, while also being an important partner for major manufacturers seeking access to a wider customer base.

“Home Credit issued EUR 6.7 billion in new loans in China in 2016, a 150 percent increase compared to 2015 while in Vietnam the EUR 786.6 million in new loans represent a ‘year-on-year’ increase of 95 percent,” said the Czech firm. (PNA) FPV/GVR/JEJR/CBD

Masbate fisherman shot dead by rogue policeman
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, March 16 (PNA) –- A rogue police officer shot dead a fisherman after a heated dispute that stemmed from a cellphone that was accidentally dropped at the seashore off Claveria town in Masbate pre-dawn on Wednesday, said a report that reached the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) here today.

The police report at PRO5 headquarters here in Camp Simeon Ola identified the victim as Argie S. Urbano, 27, who was with his cousin and friends lying alongside the seawall in the seashore off Sitio Intramuros, Barangay Poblacion District 1 in Claveria around 2:45 a.m. when he engaged the suspect in a heated argument.

According to the report, Urbano accidentally dropped his cellphone but was able to recover it but the suspect, identified as PO1 Rodney Mark R. Oller, 26, approached the former and taunted him.

The report said the incident resulted in a verbal spat between the two that triggered a fistfight and later the drawing of Oller’s service firearm.

Urbano was dead on the spot from a gunshot wound in the stomach while Oller fled the scene of crime.

Chief Insp. Jonathan Apili, chief of the Claveria Municipal Police Office (MPO), said upon recovery of an empty shell of a .45-caliber pistol at the scene, they ordered a hot pursuit operation against Oller.

At 11 a.m. that same day, the report added that Oller had voluntarily surrendered to the 5th Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) based in Milagros town in Masbate while admitting to Oller’s killing.

Oller, a native of Barangay San Nicolas Central, Agoo, La Union, is presently assigned to the 5th RPSB.

Insp. Glen Alumit, platoon leader of the Alpha Company of RPSB, immediately turned over Oller to Claveria MPO which prepared the charges against Oller. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD

PRO5 sends off 345 PO1s to various police offices in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, March 16 (PNA) -- A send off ceremony led by a ranking official of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) was held Thursday afternoon for the 345 new police officers, who will be deployed to major provincial and city police offices in the Bicol region to increase the strength of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the region to 8,214.

Senior Supt. Lito Pitallano, assistant regional director for administration of PRO5, officiated the send-off at the parade grounds of Camp Gen. Simeon Ola, headquarters of PRO5 in this city, for the new policemen with a rank of Police Officer 1 or PO1, 120 of them female and 225 male.

“They were automatically deployed to the six Provincial Police Offices (PPO), one City Police Office and 5th Regional Public Safety Batallion (RPSB),” he said.

The 345 new PO1s are in addition to the 7,869 strength of the PNP at PRO5.

Pitallano said 11 were assigned to the 5th RPSB, 7--Albay PPO, 56--Camarines Norte PPO, 24-- Camarines Sur PPO, 45--Catanduanes PPO, 50--Sorsogon PPO, 142--Masbate PPO and 10-- Naga City Police Office.

Sr. Insp. Ma.Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of PRO5, said the Masbate PPO has the most number of new police officers compared to the other provincial offices.

She said Masbate PPO has more requirements to fulfill, especially with regards to strengthening their police force, compared to the other PPOs.

Pitallano said the new police officers underwent 12 months and 45 days of academic and field training on various aspects of police work. He said the academic phase consisted of six months of studies on “Public Safety Basic Recruit” at the Regional Training School inside Camp Ola.

“They also underwent six months of field training on patrol and traffic investigation,” he added.

Pitallano said aside from these the new PO1 underwent a 45-day mandatory training on the so-called “modified police scout on counter-insurgency.” (PNA)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

PHP1.5M equipment for PWDs, women’s livelihood projects in Albay
By Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, March 15 (PNA)-- The provincial government of Albay has distributed PHP1.5 million worth of assorted medical equipment for therapy use, computer sets for disabled persons and sewing machines for the livelihood projects of various women’s organizations in the province.

Ms. Eva Grageda, officer-in-charge of Albay Social Welfare and Development (SWDO), said computer sets with software and printers were distributed to all 18 towns and cities in the province that are intended for data banking and online registration of the so-called PWDs or persons with disabilities.

“The data banking and online registration will benefit at least 15,000 registered PWDs throughout the province,” she said.

She added that aside from computer sets, they have also provided medical equipment to therapy centers in Guinobatan and Tiwi to upgrade the satellite rehabilitation centers being manned by local government units (LGUs).

“So far, we have only two satellite rehabilitation centers in the province and our hope is that other LGUs will establish a similar facility to cater to their local PWDs,” said Grageda.

Meanwhile, around 1,944 members of KALIPI or Kalipunan Ng Mga Liping Pilipina, an active women's organization in the province, will also benefit from the livelihood equipment and materials distributed to the municipalities of Tiwi, Sto Domingo and Tabaco City.

According to Grageda, Each KALIPI group was given a sewing machine, sewing materials and accessories.

“The KALIPI group from Tabaco City will produce school uniforms, curtains, pillow cases and bed covers while Sto Domingo and Tiwi will be producing T-shirts, eco-bags and mats,” she said.

KALIPI groups from the three areas were the first to submit their proposal for livelihood but she added that the provincial SWDO also expects KALIPI organizations from other municipalities to submit their proposed livelihood programs. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MDR/CBD

Naga City fire exec mulls closer coordination with volunteers, villagers

NAGA CITY, March 16 (PNA)-- A top official of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in this city urged closer coordination with firefighting volunteers and village officials to improve fire control and safety measures.

Chief Insp. Alberto de Baguio, Naga fire marshall emphasized during a round table discussion organized by the city’s business executives and Philippine Information Agency (PIA) as part of Fire Prevention Month.

“We are not prohibiting them (fire volunteer groups) from conducting a fire operation. But upon arrival of the BFP, their team leader must coordinate with us because they will be under our supervision,” he said.

De Baguio emphasized this so that various initiatives in fire fighting will be successful.

He said there can be instances when a fire volunteer group arrives earlier than BFP personnel, citing the case of the so-called Naga White group of volunteers who was the first to be in the scene of one fire incident.

De Baguio said BFP is mandated by law to conduct and supervise firefighting operations.

“There must be a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between BFP and fire volunteer groups regarding firefighting operations,” he said.

De Baguio said as a protocol other fire-fighting units must coordinate with BFP in all operations.

He acknowledged his “lapses” regarding the misunderstanding with fire volunteer groups in Naga as he has assumed that the protocol and coordination with BFP had already been instituted.

De Baguio said he is the 16th fire marshall of Naga City and he assumes the MOA with the fire volunteer groups had been in place but he was proven wrong.

“After two years and three months in my position, I have observed wrong processes in firefighting operations,” he said.

De Baguio said he is correcting the wrong processes while assuring continuous improvement in BFP-Naga’s performance.

He cited a 60 percent decrease in fire incidents in 2015 compared to 2014 and 80 percent lesser incidents in 2016 compared to 2015.

De Baguio said he is correcting some processes especially with regards to the commitment of village officials and business owners on observing proper fire safety measures.

He rues that when evaluations are conducted after a fire incident “what usually happens is that only the top management knows the listed violations.”

He said these wrong processes had been corrected through information dissemination by way of seminars and fire drills in which the violations were being listed for strict compliance.

De Baguio cited that a business establishment should designate an incident commander who will act as the “force multiplier” while waiting for arrival of BFP personnel.

“Aside from having an incident commander, the business establishment must assign a team leader and safety officer,” he said.

De Baguio said at the barangay level, the “tanod” (village watchman) must secure the properties while the barangay officials should prevent people from getting near the fire scene as the police undertake crowd control.

He said except for the BFP personnel, nobody is allowed inside the fire scene to ensure evidence is preserved while looting and “water damage” are prevented.

De Baguio related an instance in Barangay Abella, in this city, where BFP officials failed because one of the tanod grabbed the firehose from a BFP personnel, “an action which is prohibited.”

SFO4 Benhur Caronan, in the same Kapihan forum, explained that during a fire incident the owner of the place must shout for help to attract attention.

He said the fire victims must immediately leave the fire scene and stay on safe ground.

“Never go back to the establishment or house when the fire is already raging,” he said.

Caronan said once attention has been given to the fire neighbors or anybody could already be calling BFP.

He asked for understanding should BFP personnel be unable to come immediately since they still have to evaluate the situation and location of the fire so they could bring the appropriate equipment and carry out the apt firefighting technique.

Caronan said once the BFP receives a call, several questions will be asked from the caller such as his name, telephone number and location as a way of avoiding waste of resources when prank callers are entertained.

Fire prevention month which is focused on the theme: “Buhay at ari-arian pahalagahan ibayong pag-iingat sa sunog ay sa sariling bahay simulan” encourages everyone to start fire prevention safety measures inside one’s home.

The regional kick-off for the month-long activities on raising fire safety awareness among the Bicolanos was held at the Bicol University grounds on March 7 in Legazpi City with a grand rally of the various firefighting units in Albay and neighboring provinces that converged at the university grounds after a fun walk that started at Daraga, Albay.

Chief Supt. Igmedio Bondoc Jr., BFP-Bicol fire chief, had said the agency wants to strengthen its “Ugnayan sa Barangay” program to make people more fire safety conscious in the grassroots level.

He said BFP could be asked to conduct seminars in coordination with village officials, especially in the hinterland, where bush fires or grassfires at the slopes of the active Mayon Volcano could be instigated by the simple throwing of a cigarette butt by a villager ignorant of fire safety rules.

Bondoc said there are 158 firetrucks in the Bicol region and 1,250 BFP personnel ready to respond for any call for help. (PNA) FPV/GVR/JEJR/CBD

Tabaco City grants cash incentives to first honor students
By Mike Dela Rama

TABACO CITY, March 15 (PNA)-–All graduating first honor students in public elementary schools and grade 10 completers in public high schools in this city will be granted cash incentives by the local government of Tabaco City.

Councilor John Gio Bonga, chairman of the committee on education and youth of the city council said through ordinance No.011 series of 2016, the local government has allocated half a million pesos to first honor students in the elementary and secondary levels of “small, medium and large schools.”

He said the message they want to impart is that students are not being paid for what they are expected to do but the cash incentive is for the hard work that goes with attaining exemplary academic ratings.

“The financial grant will be handed to the students on the day of their graduation,” said Bongao.

He said a first honor student from a small elementary school is entitled to receive PHP5,000, medium school--PHP7,000.00 and large school--PHP10,000. In a public secondary school, a first honor from a small school will receive PHP10,000, medium school-- PHP15,000 and large school--PHP20,000.

Bongao said the local government is encouraging many deserving students to understand the value of working hard in class.

He said the school officials are responsible in certifying and identifying honor students who could qualify for the cash grants.

Bongao, however, said it is too soon yet to tell whether the incentive program will have a lasting effect on the students’ academic performance or if they will retain their first honor status in the years to come. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MDR/CBD

NPA rebel killed in clash in Camarines Sur town
By Alan Tan

LEGAZPI CITY, March 15 (PNA) -- A suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebel was killed in an encounter with government troops in Barangay Itok, Capalonga, Camarines Norte Wednesday morning, an Army official said.

Brig. Gen. Roland Manalo, 902nd Brigade commander, said a squad from the 9th Infantry Batallion led by SSgt. Hernandez figured in a five-minute firefight with around five communist rebels in Sitio Public, Barangay Itok at 5:30 a.m.

He said one of the rebels, who has yet to be identified, was killed while an M-16 rifle with three short magazines and a backpack were recovered at the encounter site.

Manalo said the rebels immediately fled towards the neighboring Barangay Lukbanan, Capalonga.

Maj. Gen. Manolo Orense, commanding general of the 9th Infantry Division based in Camp Elias in Pili, Camarines Sur, has ordered continuous combat operation against the fleeing rebels.

Meanwhile, Army authorities have identified the NPA rebel who was killed on Sunday in an encounter with government troops in Barangay Pinamihagan, Lagonoy, Camarines Sur.

The slain insurgent was identified as Arden Drice Napili alias "Nick,” a resident of Barangay Sisigon in Matnog, Sorsogon, whose body was claimed by his mother.

On Sunday at 12:11 p.m., the troops from the 83rd Infantry Batallion clashed with around 30 NPA rebels in Barangay Pinamihagan.

Recovered from the communist guerillas were an M-60 machine gun, three M-16 rifles and an M-14 rifle, improvised explosives, grenades and communist propaganda materials. (PNA) LAP/GVR/AT/CBD

Maritime police seize 500 pieces of good lumber off Esperanza, Masbate
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE CITY, March 15 (PNA) —- The maritime police of Placer town in Masbate intercepted around 500 pieces of good lumber floating off the seas of Esperanza town while being dragged by a boat on Tuesday afternoon, a top maritime official of the province said Wednesday.

Sr. Insp. Alvin Santillan, maritime police chief of Masbate, said the two truckloads of lumber consisting of lawaan, mahogany, tangili and apitong were being transported from the Placer Municipal Police Office to Masbate City.

He said a tipster had informed the maritime police in Placer town that a boat was dragging the floating pieces of lumber that were secured by a rope and nails while these were at sea off Esperanza.

“The lumber had come from Samar and about to be transported to Bantayan Island in Cebu when confiscated at 3 p.m. They were cut into sizes 2x6x16 and 2x6x20,” said Santillan.

He said the transport of the lumber was “on and off” as the boat crew were on the look out for maritime police who were on seaborne patrol.

Santillan said the three crew members of the boat, identified as Rolly Flor, Junrey Parinal and Jessie Ancajas, all residents of Barangay Pinya, Samar, were arrested and will be charged with violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.

He said the first truckload of lumber that arrived today in this city are currently being kept at the Provincial Agriculture Office where there is a space to accommodate them before their turnover to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office.

Santillan said pending a complete inventory, they have yet to estimate the total value of the confiscated lumber but said it could reach up to a million pesos. (PNA) LAP/GVR/NBT/CBD/EDS

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

DPWH-Bicol is now headed by Danilo E. Versola
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 14, (PNA)-–Danilo E. Versola, the new director of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Bicol, said his wish is to foster teamwork in the agency that he now heads after his predecessor Reynaldo G. Tagudando was given a new assignment at the central office.

“I want us to work together to deliver the best in infrastructure service for the Bicolanos,” said Versola during the turnover ceremony held at DPWH Regional Office in Barangay Rawis in this city on March 9.

Tagudando, who was only recently appointed to DPWH-Bicol by President Rodrigo Duterte, is now the Director of the Bureau of Research and Standards in DPWH central office. Tagudando had served DPWH-Bicol for almost two years before his brief stint as DPWH-Bicol head. He helped the agency become an “ISO 9001:2008 certified regional office,” said an agency employee.

Versola, in an interview, said there is a mountain of challenges to face but he said he holds high the value of teamwork with each team player dedicated to the goal of the whole organization, that is the DPWH-Bicol.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” he said, quoting one of Helen Keller’s famous quotations.

Versola was previously assigned to the Caraga region where he served as DPWH regional director for nearly seven years. He has 39 years of government service and rose from the ranks before his current position.

In 1979, he was awarded as the “most effective employee” and in 1984 became a “model employee.” He acquired his Civil Executive Service Officer status in 2002.

Key officials of DPWH-Bicol said they look forward to having “good if not perfect working relations with our new regional director.” (PNA)

DTI-Bicol celebrates World Consumer Rights Day
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 14 (PNA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Bicol joins the celebration of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) through a one-day regional consumers seminar on Wednesday at the Avenue Convention Plaza, Avenue Plaza Hotel, Naga City.

Joceleyn Berango, DTI Bicol information officer, said the theme of the celebration is anchored on building a digital world which consumers can trust through measures that would provide better digital access, security, understanding and system of redress for their major concerns.

“The DTI through this regional consumer seminar aims to create and promote a reliable digital economy that consumers can depend on without having to worry about their safety and security," she added.

The topics to be discussed in the seminar include: making the digital age work for consumers via technology and innovation; protecting consumer privacy in the digital age; getting protection from cybercrimes and online scams; and resolving consumer complaints on online transactions.

WCRD is an annual occasion that marks the day when the late US President John F. Kennedy formally addressed the issue of consumer rights on March 15, 1962 at the US Congress.

Berango said the occasion provides an opportunity to raise global awareness about consumer rights which must be protected and respected at all times.

She said other than the different consumer groups all over the region, the target audience of the seminar are the millennials who are seen as more likely to engage in many online activities that might involve e-commerce. (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD

National Press Club offers P200,000 reward for killers of Remate columnist Jun Briones
By Norman B. Tamar

MILAGROS, Masbate, March 14 (PNA) -- The National Press Club (NPC) has offered a P200,000 reward to anyone who could point to the suspects in the slaying of Joaquin “Jun” Briones, columnist of Remate, a nationally circulated daily tabloid being published in Intramuros, Manila.

Briones, also known in the island-province of Masbate as anchorman of the defunct “Dos por Dos” radio program aired over DYME in the late 90s and early 2000, was gunned down Monday morning by a riding-in-tandem suspect in Barangay Bacolod in his hometown here.

Chief Inspector Leus Anselmo Prima, Milagros chief of police, said they are eyeing local politics and old personal grudges as possible motives for the killing of Joaquin, 54.

The victim’s brother, Diosdado “Dadong” Briones, a mediaman in the province, said NPC officials told him the reward money is to help immediately resolve the murder of his brother and put a stop to media killings.

“Any informant to the case can call or text 0910 462 1882. NPC officials vowed to keep the identity of the informant confidential,” he said.

A post in NPC’s website Tuesday said that “a kind-hearted donor" who asked to remain anonymous has stepped forward to help solve the murder of Joaquin, an NPC member.

NPC said it is now working closely with the Presidential Task Force on Media Security or PTFoMS to hasten the resolution of Joaquin’s death.

The victim’s eldest brother, Rey, is the publisher and owner of Remate.

Diosdado said his brother Joaquin was the fourth journalist from Masbate who was killed since 2003.

Nelson Nadura was killed on Dec. 2, 2003. Slain on June 12, 2009 was Antonio Castillo and Ariel Lerit on Feb. 28. 2015.

NPC added in its post that Joaquin Briones is the second NPC member to be murdered, after Ms. Ruby Garcia, also from Remate, was gunned down inside her house in Bacoor, Cavite on April 6, 2014.

“Despite these attacks, the NPC shall continue to be the vanguard of press freedom in the country and in seeking justice to all fallen members of the press. On these issues, it will never be cowed,” said NPC.

A professional and social organization of print, radio and television journalists that has been in existence since the 1950s, NPC was founded through the initiative of the late newspaperman Teodoro Valencia. (PNA) LAM/GVR/NBT/CBD

DOST awards “Youth Excellence in Science” to 34 students in Bicol
By Gina Rodriguez

LEGAZPI CITY, March 14 (PNA) -- Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Director Tomas B. Briñas presented on Tuesday the “Youth Excellence in Science (YES)” awards to 34 Bicolano grade school pupils and high school students who won in international science and mathematics competitions for school year 2016-2017.

“The YES awards that consisted of gold medals accorded by DOST Secretary Fortunato T. De La Peña was given to the 34 Bicolano students in ceremonies held at 2 p.m. at Kanzo Hall and Restaurant, Peñaranda Drive in this city,” said Dr. Pilita Lucena, DOST-Bicol public information officer.,

Lucena said the gifted students in Bicol had earned 4 platinum, 6 gold, 6 silver, and 18 bronze medals in the science and math competitions.

She said four of the awards were earned in the grade school levels of the following contests: 12th International Mathematics Competition–Singapore; 2016 China Primary Math Olympiad or CPMO; 2016 International Mathematics Wizard Challenge or IMWiC; and 2016 Wizards at Mathematics International Competitions or WIZMIC.

Lucena said the 30 other awards were garnered in the secondary level of the 12th International Mathematics Competition–Singapore; 2016 CPMO; Young Inventors’ Challenge; and 2016 IMWiC.

She said DOST through the Science Education Institute has institutionalized the YES Awards, a recognition system for young achievers in international science and mathematics competitions.

Lucena said it is implemented yearly to further motivate and inspire the Filipino youth to strive for excellence in the fields of Science and Mathematics.

The 34 student-medalists came from the following schools in the Bicol region -- Sunshine International School, Ateneo De Naga University (ADNU)- Grade School, Albay Central School, Philippine Science High School-Bicol region campus, Ligao National High School, Legazpi Hope Christian School, St. Agnes’ Academy, St. Joseph School– Naga City, Aquinas University of Legazpi Science High School, Marcial O. Rañola Memorial School, Josephine F. Khonghun Special Education Center, ADNU – High School, and Blessed Lights Int’l Christian Academy.

DOST regional directors throughout the country represented DOST Secretary De La Peña in awarding ceremonies scheduled for YES awardees in their respective regions. (PNA) LAM/GVR/CBD

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

National Press Club offers P200,000 reward for killers of Remate columnist Jun Briones
By Norman B. Tamar

MILAGROS, Masbate, March 14 (PNA) -- The National Press Club (NPC) has offered a P200,000 reward to anyone who could point to the suspects in the slaying of Joaquin “Jun” Briones, columnist of Remate, a nationally circulated daily tabloid being published in Intramuros, Manila.

Briones, also known in the island-province of Masbate as anchorman of the defunct “Dos por Dos” radio program aired over DYME in the late 90s and early 2000, was gunned down Monday morning by a riding-in-tandem suspect in Barangay Bacolod in his hometown here.

Chief Inspector Leus Anselmo Prima, Milagros chief of police, said they are eyeing local politics and old personal grudges as possible motives for the killing of Joaquin, 54.

The victim’s brother, Diosdado “Dadong” Briones, a mediaman in the province, said NPC officials told him the reward money is to help immediately resolve the murder of his brother and put a stop to media killings.

“Any informant to the case can call or text 0910 462 1882. NPC officials vowed to keep the identity of the informant confidential,” he said.

A post in NPC’s website Tuesday said that “a kind-hearted donor" who asked to remain anonymous has stepped forward to help solve the murder of Joaquin, an NPC member.

NPC said it is now working closely with the Presidential Task Force on Media Security or PTFoMS to hasten the resolution of Joaquin’s death.

The victim’s eldest brother, Rey, is the publisher and owner of Remate.

Diosdado said his brother Joaquin was the fourth journalist from Masbate who was killed since 2003.

Nelson Nadura was killed on Dec. 2, 2003. Slain on June 12, 2009 was Antonio Castillo and Ariel Lerit on Feb. 28. 2015.

NPC added in its post that Joaquin Briones is the second NPC member to be murdered, after Ms. Ruby Garcia, also from Remate, was gunned down inside her house in Bacoor, Cavite on April 6, 2014.

“Despite these attacks, the NPC shall continue to be the vanguard of press freedom in the country and in seeking justice to all fallen members of the press. On these issues, it will never be cowed,” said NPC.

A professional and social organization of print, radio and television journalists that has been in existence since the 1950s, NPC was founded through the initiative of the late newspaperman Teodoro Valencia. (PNA) LAM/GVR/NBT/CBD

Monday, March 13, 2017

NPA guerrilla slain, 5 firearms recovered in Camarines Sur clash

LEGAZPI CITY, March 12 (PNA) -- A suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebel was killed in a clash with government troopers in a hinterland village in Lagonoy town in Camarines Sur around noontime Sunday, said a ranking official of the 9th Infantry Division.

Capt. Joash Prames, spokesperson of the 9th ID, said the slain rebel, who has yet to be identified, was among a group of communist rebels who engaged a platoon of soldiers from the 83rd Infantry Battalion in a fierce firefight around 12:11 p.m. in Barangay Pinamihagan, Lagonoy.

He said five high powered rifles that included a M-60 machine gun, 3 M-16 rifles and a M-14 rifle were seized during the encounter.

Prames, quoting a report from Lt. Col. Eduardo Monjardin, commander of the 83IB, said villagers had tipped off the Army camp on the presence of a group of NPA rebels.

“A 10--minute firefight ensued that led to the death of a rebel while Army soldiers also recovered improvised explosives, grenades, communist propaganda materials and personal belongings left by the fleeing NPA rebels,” Prames said.

He said it was the second firefight between government troops and the communist guerrillas in Camarines Sur this month.

“On March 7, three NPA rebels were killed in a clash between troops from the 83rd IB and 20 rebels in Barangay Tabgon in Goa town,” Prames said.

Recovered were three .45-caliber pistols and materials for making improvised explosive devices.

A member of the Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) identified as Simon Bivira was wounded in the encounter and brought to Camp Elias Angeles Station Hospital inside the 9th ID headquarters in Pili, Camarines Sur for emergency treatment. (PNA) LGI/GVR/MSA AND ALAN TAN/CBD/SSC

Friday, March 10, 2017

Bicol police reports arrest of 28 most wanted persons
By Samuel M.Toledo

LEGAZPI CITY, March 9 (PNA) -- Some 28 most wanted persons were arrested in separate operations across the six Bicol provinces with recommended bails amounting to a total of P1.1-million, showed a report released today at Camp General Simeon Ola, headquarters of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5).

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the suspects, who were arrested from Saturday to Wednesday, were held for crimes ranging from murder, homicide, rape, violence against women, child abuse, estafa, robbery to illegal gambling.

“Most of the arrested were hiding for several years already as their names had been listed in either the town or province’s most wanted persons,” she said.

Calubaquib said arrested for murder were Romeo Doncillo, 56 of Mobo, Masbate and Santiago Bornalo, 41 of Balatan, Camarines Sur; for frustrated murder were Felipe Jaliamao, 61, and Ian Marlon Roson, 29, of Daet, both of Camarines Norte.

Arrested for rape was Avelino Tano of San Andres, Catanduanes; and for forcible abduction with rape was Ricojay Punay of Pili, Camarines Sur.

PRO5 said arrested for frustrated homicide was Joleto Lopez, 58; for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide were Errol Oliva, 37, of Milagros, Masbate, and Jayco Basalaysay, 16, of Bacon District, Sorsogon City.

Arrested for reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries were Rosel Olayta, 37, of Camalig, Albay, and Estilito Alcantara, 63, of Tinambac, Camarines Sur.

The others arrested were Elvira Dumandan, 58, of Iriga City and Leonora Consulta, 44, of Tigaon, Camarines Sur, both for estafa; and Allan Agravante for seven counts of falsification of commercial documents.

Arrested for robbery were Andro Rivero, 27, of San Pascual, Masbate and Romy Rizalon, 30, of Balud, Masbate and Emmanuel Salem, 35, of Paracale, Camarines Norte. Ricky Boy Antiquera, 26, of San Roque, Legazpi City was arrested for theft.

Ruben Morales, 47, was arrested for violence against women and Nestor Ruiz, 34, of Garchitorena, Camarines Sur, for child abuse.

Alberto Clemente, 63, of Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte and Joey Gigante, 35, were arrested for illegal possession of ammunition.

Erol Perdon, 32, was arrested for illegal logging while Manuel Publico, 65, Norman Lleva, 54, of Daraga, Albay, and Noel Dejumo were all arrested for illegal gambling.

Also arrested were Benedict Brizo, 26, for grave threats and Jose Asis, 69, of Daet, Camarines Norte, for perjury. (PNA) LAP/GVR/SMT/CBD/EDS

300 complete skills training through PHP10-M DILG grant
By Emmanuel P.Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, March 9 (PNA) -- Public Employment and Services Office (PESO) Manager Diosdado “Dads” Raneses of this city said the first batch of 300, who have graduated from short-term training courses under a city government program called “STAG-LG Trabajo,” are ready to receive their certificates of completion from the various training institutions involved in the program.

Raneses, in a statement issued Thursday, said out of the 300 recipients of the program, 125 have completed trainings in contact center services, 25 in cookery, 25 in food and beverages services, 25 in bartending, 25 in costumer services, 25 in hilot or wellness massage, 25 in housekeeping and 25 in shielded metal arc welding.

He said the city administration will also give certificates of recognition to the new graduates of the program that was designed to ensure that community members could get added trainings for skills that would make them gainfully employed or become enterpreneurs.

The program called “Skills Training for Accelerated Growth in Local Government’s Training for Better Job Opportunities” or “STAG-LG: Trabajo” has been made possible through a PHP10-million grant of the Department of Interior and Local Government to the city government.

Raneses said the city government’s partners in the program are the Department of Labor and Employment, Technical Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Education.

He said TESDA will assess the new graduates through written and practical examinations so they could become National Certificate 2 (NC2) holders.

“The NC2 certificates can be used as tools for employment in our country and even in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian) countries,” he said.

Raneses said the Trabajo program supports the national government’s thrust to help the unemployed and empower them through training projects that would lead to livelihood opportunities.

He said his office is now fine tuning all the documentations needed for the second batch of recipients of the training program.

Raneses said the target beneficiaries of the project must be 18 years old and bonafide residents of this city who have completed high school or junior high school.

“Also qualified under the program are the out-of-school youths and unemployed; drivers of tricycles, vans and jeepney whose spouses have no livelihood; displaced Overseas Filipino Workers and their families and industry workers,” said Raneses.

He said the other possible beneficiaries of the program are persons with disabilities, senior citizens, families of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police killed while on duty, indigenous people and other marginalized groups. (PNA) FPV/GVR/EPS/CBD/RSM

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Drug surrenderers in Bicol undergo assessment for 'categorization'
By Mar Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, March 8 (PNA) —- Health authorities in Bicol have begun validating and sorting out the records submitted to them on the cases of the drug surrenderers in various villages and municipalities in the six provinces of the region.

During the first six months of the campaign that started in July 2016 immediately after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, the Philippine National Police (PNP) recorded an upsurge in the number of drug surrenderers resulting from its “Oplan Tokhang (a Visayan term that means to knock on doors),” whereby the law enforcers went around known lairs of suspected drug users and pushers in various villages in the country to convince them to yield.

Dr. Evy Sarmiento, coordinator of DOH-Bicol Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program, in an interview, said as of Dec. 31, 2016, the cases of 4,051 drug surrenderers had been validated and assessed by the DOH technical staff as to the extent of their drug dependency.

“The figure represented only four percent of those who surrendered,” she said.

Sarmiento said of the 4,051 cases submitted for assessment, 1,446 patients belong to the low risk category while 1,367 cases are deemed mild, 989 are moderate and 249 are severe cases who need to undergo treatment.

She said the initial report came from towns in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Sur.

“We expect more to come as these are initial data with other provinces still in the process of screening and validating (their cases),” said Sarmiento. (The “other provinces” are Masbate, Catanduanes and Camarines Norte)

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, PRO5 director, said for the period July 2016 to January 30 this year, their records showed 86,607 “drug personalities,” have voluntarily surrendered to various police units in the six Bicol provinces.

He said 93 percent or 80,653 were deemed users while only 7 percent or 5,954 were pushers.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the surrenderers were allowed to return to their homes after undergoing screening and documentation in the various provincial and municipal police offices in the region.

“After police documentation the names of these illegal drug users (and pushers) were compiled and turned over to their respective local government units (LGUs) for further assessment and categorization by a core team,” she said.

Calubaquib said after turnover to the LGUs the latter were expected to follow up on the status of the drug surrenderees.

On July 4, 2016, the President issued Executive Order (EO) No. 4 that created an inter-agency task force (TF) that was tasked to establish and provide support for the drug dependents through the creation of drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers.

Aside from the PNP and PDEA, the task force was composed of technical personnel from the Departments of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Health (DOH), Justice (DOJ), Social Welfare (DSWD); Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); and local Anti-Illegal Drug Abuse Councils such as the Barangay Drug Abuse Council.

The task force was mandated to conduct validation and categorization of the cases of drug dependents, whether they are “mild, moderate or severe.”

Sarmiento said the process of assessing and categorizing the degree of drug dependency among the surrenderees “took some time” because of the many steps involved in evaluating their cases.

“The process starts from Tokhang to the LGU-core team for assessment, screening, categorization and finally treatment,” she said.

Sarmiento said there are LGUs who don’t have qualified personnel to properly handle drug cases as they are still in the process of training personnel at the town and provincial levels.

“The LGU people were telling us that they need to train people on how to handle the drug dependents,” she added.

Sarmiento lamented that of the 249 deemed as severe cases, only 89 were had been referred by the core team to undergo treatment in a rehabilitation center.

Quoting a study of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Criminality, she said only 1 to 2 percent of those categorized as drug dependents undergo treatment in a drug rehabilitation center.

As a way of explaining the categorization process, Sarmiento said patients in the low risk category are those drug users who undergo intervention by attending a month-long seminar on illegal drug use and prevention.

She said drug users in the high-risk category are deemed to be “mild cases” and need to undergo community based intervention in LGU-sponsored seminars for a period of three months.

She said the moderate cases can be accommodated as outpatients in designated treatment and rehabilitation centers for four to six months.

“Those categorized as severe cases are referred for treatment to rehabilitation centers for a six-month treatment period,” said Sarmiento.

She added that patients deemed “severe” can be accommodated in any drug rehabilitation center but required to submit a court order, physical examination from a DOH-accredited physician and clearance from a psychiatrist.

Sarmiento said DOH-Bicol has released a P1.5-million fund to the Bicol Regional Teaching Hospital in Albay, Bicol Medical Center and Bicol Sanitarium in Camarines Sur to finance the expenses for laboratory examinations of indigent drug dependents.

In Bicol, there are only two drug rehabilitation centers--one in Malinao, Albay and another in San Fernando, Camarines Sur.

“Both institutions have a 150-bed capacity,” she said.

A patient has to spend P3,000 monthly or P18,000 for a six-month period for the drug rehabilitation treatment.

“For the many poor families of drug dependents, who could not afford the treatment fee and thus refuse or shy away from the treatment program, we have asked the LGU to set aside funds to assist the indigent patients,” said Sarmiento.

Buenafe said from July 1, 2016 to January 18 this year, 466 of the 580 barangays have been “cleared” of the illegal drug problem.

PDEA records showed that there were 580 barangays or 16.7 percent of the total 3,471 barangays in the region which it deemed to be drug-affected when the campaign started.

“The remaining 20 percent or 114 barangays of the total drug-affected barangays are still under the PNP’S clearing operation,” said Buenafe.

During the same RPOC meeting, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, the newly installed RPOC chairperson, disclosed that there were local officials and police officers in Bicol who were included in the narco-list that President Duterte presented during a dialogue with the mayors in Malacaňang early in January.

In Albay, Governor Al Francis Bichara, in an interview, said the province is ready to put up a drug rehabilitation center in Barangay Tula Tula in Ligao City.

He said at least 10 big cargo aluminium containers, measuring 40 feet each, that were donated by friends and supporters, are ready to be set up at the one-hectare rehabilitation site.

Bichara said they are awaiting the categorization of the drug dependents because “as a standard practice the rehab centers could only accommodate patients deemed with a ‘severe’ drug problem.”

He said the categories of drug dependents should be determined first as these would be the basis of how many drug rehab centers should be put up.

“Without the numbers and the categorization of drug patients we would not be able to provide the much needed intervention,” said Bichara. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

AKB, CHED to award 'Ten Oustanding Bicol Students'
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 7 (PNA) -- After months of rigorous screenings, the Commission on Higher Education and AKO Bicol Partylist named the “Ten Outstanding Students of Bicol” (TOSB) who will be presented in an awarding ceremony on Thursday at the Bicol University (BU) here with Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" M. Angara as guest of honor and keynote speaker.

Rosalieh Constante Luces, political affairs officer and TOSB coordinator, said the judges chose the 10 from a list of 20 semi-finalists based on their exemplary performance in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service and social responsibility in the Bicol region.

She said the 10 who will be honored on March 9 at the College of Arts and Letters in BU are: Maegan Alexis A. Almasco and Katherine Princess Vista, both from University of Northeastern Philippines or UNEP in Iriga City; Romeo B. Sotto Jr. and Claudette May B. Mora, both from University of Saint Anthony or USANT, also in Iriga City.

Juvin M. Durante, Cristia Shiena S. Amparo, Christine Mae Valencia, all from University of Nueva Caceres or UNC in Naga City, Camarines Sur; and Charles Michael G. Salas of Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges.

Karen Daniela Besmonte of Aquinas University of Legazpi or AUL and Karen V. Segovia of Divine World College of Legazpi or DWCL, both schools in Legazpi City.

A special award will be given to Nico Jazmin Guillermo as the “People’s Choice Award.”

According to Luces, three special Sunwest Awards, that will be announced during the ceremony, will be given--the awards for leadership, distinction in accountancy, and overall excellence.

The special awards will be given by Sunwest Construction and Development Corp.

Luces said it also significant that among the 10 TOSB seven are women who will be honored in March which is International Women’s Month.

“They all deserve to win because they are all unique and talented,” she said of the women college students.

Luces said Angara’s presence is highly anticipated as he will inspire the students, teachers and parents to become the best in their field and contribute to nation-building.

She said prior to the awarding ceremony, Angara will also visit Tagas Elementary School and Binitayan Elementary School in Daraga, Albay to distribute bags and school supplies to hundreds of student beneficiaries of AKB.

CHED and AKB chose the finalists to the search from among nominees from various private and state colleges and universities in the Bicol region.

CHED and AKB said TOSB, an annual search that was initiated in 2009, aims to recognize the hard work and contribution of Bicolano students in local and national development, a vision shared by the two award-giving bodies.

The Ako Bicol partylist Representatives--Alfredo Garbin Jr, Rodel Batocabe and Christopher Co., espouse improvements in the lives of Bicolano people. (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD