Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Monday, March 30, 2009


LEGAZPI CITY- Preparations for the joint RP-US Balikatan 2009 exercise next month in three Bicol provinces are now on its final stage as advance parties involved in the final stage of the preparations and coordination already arrived in this city since Friday (March 27).

Commodore Joel E. Babas, commander of the Naval Forces Southern Luzon (NavForSol) command here, stressed during the Kapihan held the other day at the navy headquarters here that there will no military exercise during the month long RP-US Balikatan exercise in the region which will simultaneously start on Wednesday, April 1, 2009.

He explained that only medical and dental and engineering activities will be conducted in the province of Albay, Sorsogon and the island province of Masbate.

Babas said that about 11,000 to 12,000 Bicolanos will be benefited by the medical and dental mission which will start on April 16 to 30, while the engineering component will start construction on April 1 to 30.

He said the engineering team from the US armed force numbering some 100 and Philippine armed forces will construct farm to market road, water systems and school buildings.

Meanwhile Col. Ariel Bernardo, 901st Brigade commander said that security personnel from the Philippine National Police and the army are now in place in the area of engagement.

He also appealed to the local communities for support for the exercise.(EDLeon, PIA V)


MASBATE Province – Shorter travel time, reduced transport costs, a tourism boom and the opening of new food markets are among the benefits of the newly opened roll-on roll-off in Cawayan town which is part of the Strong Republic Nautical Highway.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s nautical highway projects has “delivered much of its promised benefits,” according to Mayor Edgar S. Condor, quoting various stakeholders.

They were referring to how the roll-on roll off (Ro-Ro) system has been able to quickly spur economic growth in Cawayan and neighboring localities, including Masbate City.

Condor inaugurated last Feb. 10 the maiden voyage of the first Ro-Ro type of ship that connects Cawayan and Bogo City in Cebu.

The Ro-Ro ports in Cawayan and Bogo are part of the Eastern Nautical Highway component of the SRNH, which connects Bicol region to Mindanao (Sorsogon, Masbate, Cebu, Bohol. Camiguin and Misamis Oriental).

The Ro-Ro ports were opened by no less than President Arroyo but the Cawayan ports was destroyed by typhoon before the Shuttle Super Ferry could start its voyage.

Interviewed after the inauguration which was also graced by Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, Vice Mayor Ramon B. Abinuman and Bogo City Mayor Junnie Martinez, Condor: “The benefits include reduced transport costs, increased regional trade, enhance tourism and agricultural productivity, growth in investments as well as poverty reduction.”

From 12 hours, the travel time from Masbate City to Cebu City was cut to six hours with the Ro-Ro system in Cawayan and Bogo, Condor said.

Also reduced were transport costs with the multiple loading and unloading of goods eliminated, thus resulting in service efficiency.

“Aside from no cargo handling, the Ro-Ro is also exempt from wharf-age,” Condor said adding he had already won the support of those who were adversely affected by the new facility.

“Freight and passenger cost was reduced by significant percent,” he said.

The Western Nautical Highway has also opened new market to farmers and fishermen, citing the case of fruit growers in Cawayan finding new markets for their mangoes in Bogo and the case of Cawayan and Placer finding new markets for their dried fish in Cebu City.

The Ro-Ro route has also seen tourism boom for Masbate City growing by leap.(E.A.Delgado, PIA-Masbate)


NAGA CITY — The city government here hurdles anew the Presidential Award for the Most Child-Friendly City, independent city category besting Santiago City.

This city earned the award for the second time in a row on the basis of the efforts of the city government, under the leadership of Mayor Jesse N. Robredo, to innovate and sustained programs for the welfare of children particularly on the education sector.

Robredo stated programs like the Naga Early Education and Development Program, a comprehensive pre-school education that addresses the need for improved access, equity and quality of education; EDUCARE-the City’s Educare Montessori System, where 20 per cent of its centers have already been accredited by the DWSD tool; Nutri Dunong and Iskolar Kan Ciudad help parents from financially distressed families to send and maintain children in school; HELP Learning Center; Naga City Special Education Program and QUEEN – Quarterly Universal Elementary Education in Naga City, have won us this recognition which will continue to inspire us to better serve our constituteents..

The Sangguniang Kabataan has also manifested its support by providing 70 per cent of its budget to educational assistance to indigent students

Mayor Jesse N. Robredo received the trophy and a cash prize of P300,000 from Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo held at Malacañang Palace during the awarding ceremony for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities last March 12.

He was joined by Mr. Jim Reblando, the City Social Welfare and Development Officer and Mrs. Corazon B. Miña of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 5.

Through the concerted efforts of the Naga City Council for the Protection of Children and its partners, Naga City was again vested as the most child-friendly city in the Bicol region and one of the finalists for the Most Child-Friendly City recognition at the national level for 2008.

It has been a national finalist since 2002 and won for the award first time in 2006. Naga’s desire to be a child-friendly city became a commitment.

Driven by the strong determination to give the Nagueños a more and nurturing and caring environment, Naga is a child-friendly place to watch.

Meanwhile, the town of Casiguran is the 2008 Regional Awardee for the search and a finalist to the national competition for the 4th to 6th class category. The finalists have also received trophies from President Arroyo.

The search for the Most Child-Friendly City/Municipality which was launched in November 1998 aims to: a) give national recognition to municipalities and cities and are considered as “child friendly”, b) to encourage LGUs to recognize and address issues and concerns affecting/effecting the full realization of the rights of children, c) heighten the awareness of the LGUs on the rights of children, and, d) monitor and evaluate the implementation of programs and services for children.(EEJerusalem, DSWD/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — Secretary Lito L. Atienza of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Department Administrative Order (DAO) numbered 2008-20, which requires exporter of mineral ores and other by-products to secure first a Mineral Ore Export Permit (MOEP) before they can export their products, is lawful and constitutional.

Atienza said DAO 2008-20 is consistent with Republic Act 7942 otherwise known as the New Mining Law of 1995 and RA 7160, the Local Government Code, which mandates the DENR to regulate and manage the country’s natural resources.

“Section 17 of RA 7160 provides that the DENR devolved functions (to the local government) are subject to supervision, control and review of the DENR. This includes the devolution under DAO 30, series of 1992 to the Provincial Government on the enforcement of the small-scale mining law which is subject to the policies, standards and guidelines of the DENR,” Atienza explained.

The Secretary defended the validity of the MOEP after some 42 members of the League of Governors of the Philippines, through a paid advertisement urged President Arroyo to intervene and direct him (Atienza) to recall DAO 2008-20.

The Governors claimed DAO 2008-20 is defective and unconstitutional for: it usurps the legislative powers of congress, contradict the Local Government Code; adds another layer of bureaucracy that may become a new source of corruption, it is contrary to the President’s policy and vision for a fully developed and revitalized mining industry as a source of employment for the Filipino people as well as commitment to strengthen the decentralization and local autonomy, and the order will cause direct injury not only to the operations of the large and small-scale mining companies but also to the revenue collection and job generation efforts of the national and local governments.

Atienza clarified it is not in anyway taking away the powers of Congress or the Local Government Units as the DENR is just safeguarding the country’s mineral wealth and fulfilling its mandate to ensure the preservation of the country’s natural resources today and for the future.

“Smuggling of mineral products out of the country has been happening and requiring mining companies and mineral traders to get MEOP is an effective mechanism to monitor the movement of mineral resources,” he said.

“Citing estimates by the MGB, the government lost as much as P1 billion in excise taxes due to the non-payment and mis-declaration, mostly by small-scale mining and non-metallic mining operations, in 2007 alone,” he added.

He also said under DAO 2008-20, which took effect on January 5, 2009, all exporters of mineral ores and other by-products are required to apply for MOEP from the regional offices of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) before the actual date of shipment.

He stressed that all regional directors of MGB were advised by the DENR to ensure the speedy processing of applications in their respective regions, including the required field validation, so as to ensure the issuance of MOEP within 10 days at the most.

“It is not only the government that stands to benefit from this new policy reform but also the responsible mining companies whose legitimate business is protected by the system. Failure to present the permit will be considered a prima facie evidence of illegal mining and theft of minerals, he noted.

Atienza said the MOEP is seen to curb the illegal export of Philippine mineral products and its submission before a mining firm is allowed to export its products will boost the government’s nationwide campaign to generate more revenues to finance its various socio-economic development projects.(MGB release/PIA)


ALBAY Province — Seven Chinese media practitioners from Shanghai, China visited this province for a briefing on climate and disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation through the Centre for Initiatives and Research on Climate Adaptation (CIRCA).

Manuel Nong C. Rangasa, executive director of the CIRCA, said that the foreign guests who came from different media networks in Shanghai, China had viewed several video footages of the worst places hit by the super typhoon Reming last 2006.

The Chinese nationals were Xu Jin Gen, Chen Q, Qui Fangfang, Qian Zheng, Dajian Zhu, Wang Haiyan and and Yiqi Yang who came from CBN, British Consulate, General Shanghai, Tongji University, Jiangsu Modern Express and Wenhui Daily, respectively.

They also toured the areas of Maipon, Guinobatan and Padang, Legazpi City, which were worst hit by the typhoon claiming the most number of casualties in the province.

Rangasa added that the CIRCA shared with the Chinese journalists the recent studies and findings on climate-related risks in the province and other areas in the Philippines, introducing concrete disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation options for the most vulnerable communities in the Philippines.

Albay province, under the leadership of Gov. Joey S. Salceda, is the first province in the country to launch and initiate program on climate change adaptation dubbed "Albay in Action on Climate Change (A2C2)," being one of the most vulnerable province to extreme weather impacts and climate change in the country.(MALoterte, PIA V)


NAGA CITY --- The city government here has commenced the Search for Outstanding Naguenos for 2009.

The awards are given to Nagueno individuals or groups who have distinguished themselves by their exemplary achievements in various fields of endeavor, thereby contributing positive enhancement to Naga’s growth, honor and glory.

Gil de la Torre, chair of the secretariat for the 2009 Mayoral Awards, said nomination forms are now available at his office at Sangguniang Panglunsod and at the Naga City Visitors Center.

The same forms are also downloadable by browsing through the city website, www.naga.gov.ph.

The awards come in three categories: 1) Distinguished Mayoral Award (the highest city award); 2) Special Mayoral Award, and; 3) Mayoral Recognition Award.

Torre related the scope and criteria for the distinguished and special mayoral awards cover government service, professional service, and volunteer service.

“Nominees in these categories are evaluated according to their personal qualifications and moral integrity, quality of service and degree of commitment, and extent of involvement and impact of project/activity,” he noted.

He added further the mayoral recognition awards, on the other hand, are given to nominees who have brought singular honor, recognition and positive impact to Naga City by the award given the nominee in the national and international levels, including individuals who have shown exemplary acts of heroism, valor and civic duty worth emulating.

He said the awards are given annually during the charter day celebration of the City of Naga on June 18, a public holiday, which is marked by parades, and other colorful cultural and civic activities.

Though it was originally a Spanish city as early as 1575, Naga became a chartered city on June 18, 1948 by virtue of a Republic Act authored by then Congressman Juan Q. Miranda.(DCAbad, PIA Cam. Sur)


MANILA — When President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo turns a year older on April 5, her birthday wish would be for the Philippines to overcome the worldwide economic crisis and cushion the harsh blow on the Filipinos of the meltdown that has already affected two-thirds of the world.

Thus said Press Secretary Cerge Remonde who told a Radyo ng Bayan Sunday afternoon (March 29) that the President has no personal birthday wish nor gift for herself.

In fact, it is the President who has a birthday package: her heart, her soul and her sacrifices, all for the Filipino people, Remonde said.

“Ang birthday gift ni Pangulong Arroyo sa Filipino people ay ang kanyang sarili – ang pagbibigay niya sa kanyang lahat -- ng puso, diwa, at mga paghihirap para po… sa pagtulong sa mga mahihirap.

“There’s no greater gift that any one can give anybody… the birthday gift of one’s dedicated service,” Remonde added.

As to her birthday wish for the Filipino people, Remonde said the President hopes that “sana makatawid ang bansang Pilipinas dito sa hinaharap natin ngayon na pandaig-digang crisis ng ekonomiya sa buong mundo.”

“At para po makatawid tayo dito… para po makatawid tayo sa pandaigdigang crisis ekonomiya na ito, sana po ay magkaisa tayong mga Pilipino.

“At puede nating ipasantabi kahit panandalian lamang ang pamumulitika para po matulungan natin ang ating mga kababayan,” Remonde said.

The President’s birthday itinerary will be “simpleng-simple lang -- magsisimba lang siya sa hometown niya sa Lubao, doon lang magla-lunch.”

“’Yan po ang ating Pangulo, kahit po sa kanyang sariling kaarawan, wala siyang personal na birthday wish -- ang kanyang birthday wish is for the good of the country and our people,” he said. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President has tasked the National Water Resources Board to do everything to ensure that water supply will be adequate this summer.

In a radio interview with Radyo Ng Bayan, Remonde said according to a report of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, access to water has improved to 88 percent between 2001 and 2008 reaching an additional 404,270 people or 60,745 families.

He added that from the 7.3 million people in 2000, the total population provided with water is now at 12 million or 7.97 million households in 2008.

“In terms of infrastructure and basic services, unbeatable ang record ni Presidente Arroyo,” Remonde said.

Concerns raised about a potential energy crisis in the Visayas this summer, Remonde said the President has ordered the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission to do everything possible to stave off this crisis by attracting investors into the power sector.

Similarly, the President directed the DoE to look into the records of the oil companies to determine their justification for raising their fuel prices.

“If we are not satisfied with their explanation, we will ask the DoE and the Department of Justice to look into their (oil companies’) books and investigate if they are unjustly profiteering at the expense of the greater majority of people,” Remonde said.

He appealed to the people to "be united for the development of the country and to ensure that we overcome all these problems."

He also asked the leaders of the transport sector, who are planning to stage massive transport strikes against the increased penalties for traffic violations, to air their grievances in the proper forum, to abide in the rule of law and to consider the greater interest of their countrymen.

While we recognize the rights of people to be heard, we are leaving this matter to the Department of Transportation and Communications to resolve.

“If they should continue with their plan, then they should do the strike peacefully and without bringing inconvenience to the riding public,” Remonde said.(PIA V Release)


MANILA — In these challenging times, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo emphasized the need for government to tighten its belt and stop wasteful spending to save billions needed in sustaining efforts to lessen the impact of the lingering global financial crisis particularly on the poor and the most vulnerable.

The President stressed this in her speech in the first-ever Asian Development Bank (ADB) Reception on Friday night (March 27) at the ADB headquarters in Mandaluyong City, the President said.

Among those present during the reception were ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda and his spouse, Mrs. Kumiko Kuroda; ADB vice president C. Lawrence Greenwood Jr., ADB executive director Marita Jimenez, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, other government officials and members of the diplomatic corps.

“In challenging economic times, the government must tighten its belt and live within its means, just like the average Filipino household. To that end, our government is taking a series of actions to stop unnecessary and wasteful spending. The taxpayers deserve no less from their government and public servants,” the President said.

The President said funds generated from economic and tax reforms should not be wasted on unnecessary spending as these are being poured into various human and physical infrastructure to keep the economy afloat and make funds available to create jobs, provide incentives for the private sector, and put up subsidies for food, fuel and rice to help the poor and most vulnerable.

The President said she already has instructed all national government agencies, including government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) to reduce their maintenance, overhead and operating expenses (MOOE) by 1.5%, that would result to an equivalent saving of some P7 billion and even help the environment.

“I have directed national agencies to save fuel and electricity. Our target: bring down the use of fossil fuels by 25 percent and reduce electric consumption by at least 10 percent,” the President said.

Under her directive, the President said government agencies must turn off their air conditioners at 4:30 p.m., except those with 24-hour work; and use the Filipino-invented fluorescent lamps instead of incandescent bulbs.

“If all bulbs in the country were to shift to fluorescent, we could save P2 billion. And I thank the ADB for supporting this endeavor,” the President said.

The President added that 20 percent of national government vehicles in major cities would eventually be converted to non-fossil fuel, and government vehicles not on official trip shall be garaged in the agency office and the keys kept by guards during weekends and holidays.

The President said government must pour all savings and revenue into programs that help the poor and the middle class including continuing investments in education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

“To keep our economy and way of life going strong, we must tackle many challenges at once. On the part of government, we must live within our means and run a lean, efficient government. This includes fiscal prudence not only on the part of the national government but also local governments,” the President said.

The President told the audience that she just came from Davao where the League of Board Members of the Philippines pledged to stop wasteful spending and replicate the same actions by legislating belt-tightening measures in their own provinces.(PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare witnessed today (March 30) the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries that manifests their strong desires to enhance and expand their existing friendly and cooperative relations.

The document was signed by Department of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and National Fisheries Authority of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea Minister Ben Semri right after the bilateral meeting between Mrs. Arroyo and Somare at the Sagana 3 function room of Shangri-la Resort and Spa in Boracay Islands, Aklan.

“It is born of a shared desire to maximize mutual benefits from the implementation of joint undertakings in commerce, trade, investment, research and technical cooperation in the field of fisheries,” the document stated.

Under the MOU, both parties committed themselves to secure a productive and sustainable future for their respective fishing industries through joint exploration, development and implementation of priority developmental undertakings.

In essence, the document reflects the consensus of both governments to give emphasis to projects and activities that facilitate:

1) Technology transfer, especially in the area of aquaculture development;
2) Promotion of fishing ventures;
3) Infusion of investments;
4) Technical training;
5) Joint research; and
6) Strategic complementation of each country’s plans and programs in response to the challenges and opportunities presented by the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI).

Earlier, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said that the MOU is one of the top agenda in the bilateral talks between the President Arroyo and Sir Somare.

Both the Philippines and Papua New Guinea are members of the so-called Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) countries and during the bilateral talks they discussed the joint venture for fisheries cooperation.

According to CTI reports, the Philippines which is at the center of the Coral Triangle has richest concentration of marine life. The CTI is spearheaded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The coral triangle spans 6.5 million square kilometers and also covers Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, and the Solomon Islands.

Reports also said the Coral Triangle which can sustain the lives of nearly 130 million people keeps key spawning and nursery grounds for tuna and other fish harvested for food.(PIA V Release)

Friday, March 27, 2009


NAGA CITY – “Use it or lose it,” this in short is the new policy of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on funds release to all government agencies starting this year, according to Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, Jr. during the Philippine Economic Briefing held here yesterday.

Andaya said that under the new procedure whatever funds are released to the agency for the month should be fully utilized for that month or else the DBM will take back whatever remains and that agency will lose that unspent money.

Andaya said many agencies, particularly infrastructure agencies, like the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) have low absorptive capacity whereby funds released to agencies lie idle in banks for which interest is paid because these monies were borrowed by the government.

Andaya explained that the new policy was adopted so that government agencies will be able to efficiently and effectively utilize the funds allocated to them. The policy will improve their capabilities to judiciously speed-up the spending of their funds considering that in the 2009 budget a large increase in the allocations of the infrastructure and social service agencies were made part of the stimulus program of the government to mitigate the impact of the global financial crisis in the country.

He disclosed that in 2007 DPWH was only able to spend 76.6 per cent of the money released to the agency while DOTC was able to spend only 85.1 per cent and DA 82.6 pr cent for the same year.

Andaya said this year they have authorized the infrastructure agencies to bid out their projects even witout the special allotment advice (SARO) from DBM. He added that funds will only be released after the award is made and the cash flow is submitted by the concerned agency.

He said in the 2009 budget, P219 billion was allocated to four agencies namely; DPWH with P137.5 billion; DOTC –P26.1 billion; DA –P12.8; DENR –P12.8 billion; while P210.7 billion was allocated to three social servide agencies namely: DepEd –P171.5 billion; DOH –P28.5 billion; and DSWD with P10.7 billion as part of the government stimulus package.(EAdeLeon, PIA)


SORSOGON CITY — Employees of the Bacman Geothermal Production Field (BGPF) here have committed to join the ‘Earth Hour’ global campaign by switching off lights in their residences and offices from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM on Saturday, March 28.

BGPF is one of the five geothermal project sites of Energy Development Corporation (EDC) that has actively campaigned and promoted the ‘Earth Hour’ event among its employees, host communities, local government units, local media and other relevant stakeholders.

EDC expects to contribute between 5,000 to 10,000 signatures to the ‘Earth Hour’ on-line campaign as it counts on the participation of all its employees from BGPF, Manila head office, Leyte Geothermal Production Field (LGPF) in Tongonan, Leyte; Mindanao Geothermal Production Field (MGPF) in Kidapawan, North Cotabato; Northern Negros Geothermal Production Field (NNGPF) in Bago City, Negros Occidental; and Southern Negros Geothermal Production Field (SNGPF) in Palinpinon, Negros Oriental, as well as its host communities.

In addition, the energy company is also promoting the program and encouraging participation of other corporations and organizations such as the Lopez Group and League of Corporate Foundations.

“EDC has always actively participated in projects that will help arrest global warming. As a responsible corporate citizen, we have initiated some environmental projects that have become model for other companies,” BGPF resident manager Liberato Virata stated

“For ‘Earth Hour’, we are doing our share in encouraging maximum participation by spreading the word and promoting the program to all our employees and host communities,” he added.

The ‘Earth Hour’ is a worldwide event that calls for the switching off of lights in households, offices, major thoroughfares and landmarks for one hour between 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM on March 28, 2009.

The campaign is a prelude to the United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009 which aims to solicit commitment to actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure a sustainable future.

‘Earth Hour’ aims to reach one billion people in 1,000 cities all over the world. In the Philippines, Earth Hour is targeting to get at least 10 million Filipinos to participate.(EDC/PIA Sorsogon)


SORSOGON Province — Government agencies, private organizations, along with the local residents here have committed to support and join the observance ‘Earth Hour’, international event spearheaded by the World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund (WWF), set on March 28, 2009,

‘Earth Hour’ encourages business establishments and households across this province to turn-off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one (1) hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

On Saturday, from 8:30 until 9:30 pm, local chief executives, along with heads of government and non-government organizations, institutions, business establishments and households, will turn off their lights for an hour to send message to the whole world of the urgency to reduce green gas emissions for the long and short term benefit of the precious earth in order to avert its widespread disastrous impacts.

"Just one hour to save energy, but we can bring greater impact in saving our mother earth for our kids and the future generations," said Sorsogon Governor Sally A. Lee who urged all government agencies and private institutions concerned to support and cooperate in conveying this message of hope and action.

Local officials, meanwhile, said that even before the directives of Department of Interior and Local Government and the Provincial Government to observe the ‘Earth Hour’, there were already efforts to conserve electricity and fuel, among others, in response to the austerity measures called upon by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police Provincial Office and barangay peacekeping officers here have been alerted on possible untoward incidences that may arose in observance of earth hour.
In the Philippines, the Earth Hour is targeting to get at least 10 million Filipinos to participate and aims to reach one billion people in 1,000 cities all over the world.

The Earth Hour is a worldwide campaign and a prelude to the United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009 which aims to solicit commitment to actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure a sustainable future.(BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


LEGAZPI CITY — Women have greater educational advantage over men in all six provinces of the Bicol Region both in 2000 and 2003 based on gender-related development indicators, according to National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) here.

The latest fact sheet released by NSCB Bicol stated the study was based from the Gender Equality Ratio (GER) that shows which of the gender have higher development in specific components.

The GER suggests that a ratio greater than one indicates higher development of women over men. The magnitude of the ratio quantifies how much more developed women are than men, it explained.

Records show that in 2000, women’s advantage over men is pronounced in all provinces in terms of health, income and education, except in Camarines Norte. This advantage declined in half of the provinces of the region in 2003.

Women in Camarines Norte however, narrowed the gap in 2003 by posting the highest increase at 0.3015 index point recording a GER of 1.1507, the third highest among provinces in the region.

Women in Albay (GER of 1.2968), had the greatest advantage over men in terms of development.

Women in Masbate showed the highest advantage in education in 2000 and 2003 (GER in education of 1.0948 in 2000 and 1.1498 in 2003).

Today’s women pursue careers other than home managing that make them financially less dependent on men. This situation is true in the Bicol region (except in the Camarines provinces) in 2000 where women’s share in family income was higher than men’s.

In 2003, however, the earning edge of women over men declined in the provinces of Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon. Women in Albay, on the other hand, recorded a2.0143 GER in income in 2003 – the highest among provinces, an indication of Albay women’s more pronounced edge over men in income share.

Health-wise, women in Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon are better off than men in 2000 and at slightly lesser degrees in 2003. The women in the three other provinces, while showing improvements in the health component of the GER in 2003, still have to catch up with men in terms of health.

NSCB has noted the development of women had improved through the years, albeit not as fast as some would want it. The indicators provide greater awareness of the challenges presented by the gaps and the opportunities that come along in reducing these gaps.

Lastly, the indicators should not be viewed as “battle of the sexes” but should be seen as catalysts for change by providing policy-makers a glimpse of the development of women and men and provide effective measures to reduce the magnitude of disparities in their development, the document underscored.(MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) takes the lead anew in cleaning up major urban rivers and esteros in the Bicol region on March 29, 2009, as the country will link arms with the international celebration of World Water Day on March 22.

EMB Bicol regional director Gilbert C. Gonzales has mobilized the Clean Bicol Rivers (CBR) River Management Councils to lead stakeholders in the said event.

The International theme for the World Water Day is “Shared Water, Shared Opportunities”. Special focus will be placed on transboundary waters.

The local theme, on the other hand, is “Makibahagi at Pagyamanin, Tubig Natin”.

Gonzales underlined the significance of cooperation among the water-agencies, stakeholders and local government units (LGUs) by promoting the importance of clean rivers for a healthy society and wholesome environment for the present and future generations.

Hundreds of volunteers are expected to participate in the simultaneous clean up of urban streams of Sagumayon River in Albay, Balos River in Camarines Sur, Daet River in Camarines Norte, Gogon River in Catanduanes, Tugbo River in Masbate and Salog River in Sorsogon.

EMB is optimistic that the observance of World Water Day and Philippine Water Week from March 23-29, 2009 will create public awareness regarding conservation of clean and safe urban rivers.

The World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.(EMB release/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte – Seven youth organizations in this municipality have been cited by the municipal government here under the Annual Search for Outstanding Youth Organizations of Daet awards program.

The Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity and Sorority of Camarines Norte State College notched the top place, followed by the Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay Camambugan and the Scouts Royale Brotherhood scoring the third spot.

Other youth organization-awardees were the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Youth Association, Sigma Lambda Phi Fraternity and Sorority Camarines Norte Chapter, Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay Magang and Young Christian Workers of Camarines Norte State College.

The awards program for the youth intends to recognize the exemplary contributions and services of the youth organizations of Daet to the community building and development of the society.

“The municipal government is giving due recognition to these outstanding youth organizations in Daet for their vital role as pillars and future leaders of the community,” stated Sangguniang Bayan member Hon. Joan Kristine Tabernilla, who authored the Municipal Ordinance 153 adopting the Annual Search for Outstanding Youth Organizations of Daet awards program.

It can be recalled the Tabernilla was one of the awardees of the Search for Kampeon ng Kabataan as Young Legislator, cited for her SB Resolution No. 078 and Municipal Ordinance 153.

“The winners also received incentives and will represent Daet in the regional and national competitions for outstanding youth organizations which can give our town honor and recognition,” she added.

Present during the awarding ceremony were Daet Mayor Tito Sarte Sarion, Camarines Norte Board Member Romeo Marmol, Usec. Edgar C. Galvante of Dangerous Drug Board, Commisioner Precilla Marie Abante of National Youth Commission and DILG MGOO V Estela E. Dames.

The awards program, an annual event every youth organization in this town look forward to, has been organized by the municipal government’ Local Youth Affairs Office.(RCYu, LGU Daet/PIA)


SORSOGON PROVINCE – Maunlad na Asosasyon, Relasyon at Ehemplo ng Comunidad (MAREC) is encouraging Sorsoganons to become more persistent in planting malunggay (moringa oleifera) because of its high demand in the market.

MAREC, a multi-purpose cooperative comprised mostly of women, is pushing for a massive malunggay planting campaign with bright prospects for livelihood and nutritious food for local residents, especially for breastfeeding mothers.

MAREC project coordinator Lito Bonifacio said that malunggay farming would not only address the problem on malnutrition in the province but will also provide alternative source of income if only the community will support this project.

He said that about two hectares of land has recently been planted by MAREC wherein 3,000 square meters are within the garden of some elementary schools in Sorsogon City while the remaining areas were government-owned and the 37 members of the said cooperative.

He said, however, that the volume of malunggay which has been planted could still not meet the high demand of the nutritious vegetable in the market, thus MAREC encourages every resident here, particularly owners of vacant or idle lands to make use of their properties by planting this exceptionally nutritious vegetable.

Bonifacio further said that their cooperative is also willing to enter into an agreement which would allow MAREC to plant in widely idle lands in order to make use of them and be more productive by providing extra income to the indigent residents of the province.

Malunggay leaves are now being processed or made as tea, bread, pasta and other foodstuff while dried seeds of malunggay are processed as cooking oil or even as an alternative source of fuel.(HAFormento, PIA Sorsogon)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Wednesday (March 25) cited the importance of promoting tourist destinations and the availability of vital infrastructure to attract more tourists and to create more employment for the Filipinos.

In her informal media interaction with members of the Malacanang Press Corps at the Virgin Beach Resort in San Juan, Batangas the President said tourism creates jobs for all sectors from the professional level to the least skilled.

“Tourism generates jobs,” the President said as she underscored the need to develop good roads and airports that are vital to promote the tourism industry.

The Chef Executive cited as a good example the interaction venue which, she said, has big potentials due to its close proximity to Manila.

“This is one of the closest white beach resorts to Manila because we fixed the roads. Before, it took six hours to come here,” she said.

The Chief Executive also took pride in the country’s other beach resorts and tourist sports, for boosting the tourism industry.

She said investors have started arriving in the Philippines to develop some resorts and hotels in the countryside and even in metro Manila.

“We have a hotel surge. Every month, there is an opening,” the President said, adding that "a lot of jobs are coming from the tourism industry.”

Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said tourism is the least affected by the global economic recession among the sectors in the country.

“Tourism and business process outsourcing (BPO) are the least- affected dollar earnings,“ the President concurred.

“With the development going on, it is one sector that is still expanding in terms of investment and employment, “ Durano said.

Durano cited as example the newly-inaugurated Banyan Tree in Palawan where thousands of workers have been employed.

After the informal interaction, the President joined members of the Malacanang Press Corps in walking along the seashore, a manifestation of her strong initiative to further promote the tourism industry.

The government has identified the tourism sector as one of the biggest contributors to the government's goal of creating 6-10 million jobs until 2010.(PIA V Release)


MANILA — Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Wednesday (March 25) that there are two ways of looking at the International Monetary Fund’s projection last February of a lower growth rate for the Philippines of 2.5 percent owing to slowdown in remittances of overseas Filipino workers.

In an interview on Radio ng Bayan, Remonde said this is expected because of the global economic crisis.

But, he said: “The other positive way of looking at it is despite na 2.5% growth na lang, ang Pilipinas ay isa sa dalawa lamang bansa sa Asya that will continue to experience positive economic growth. Ang lahat ng mga bansa dito ay puro walang growth puro nagde-decline.”

“At least we are one of two countries in Asia to experience this positive economic growth. At iyan po ay in the light of the global economic crisis is still a major accomplishment or something that still good about,” he added.

On how close the administration is in implementing the temporary unemployment insurance, Remonde said; “Iyan po ay isang napakagandang panukala because despite the objections by some Cabinet members, we have a thinking and dynamic Cabinet led by equally thinking and even more dynamic President. Hindi po maiiwasan na meron talagang mga magandang diskusyon o talakayan sa mga mahalagang mga panukala tulad niyan. At patuloy ang usaping iyan.”

On reports that some opposition quarters are asking Gov. Panlilio, another presidential aspirant, to first denounce the President before running for the post, Remonde said: “That is between Governor Panlilio at iyong mga umuudyuk sa kanya na mga opposition groups. Like iyong pagtakbo niya bilang Presidente is his own personal decision.”(PIA V Release)


MANILA — Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said today that the Philippines is now being recognized as one of the best performing economies of Asia because of President Arroyo’s economic and fiscal policies.

In an interview with Radyo ng Bayan, Remonde cited Business World’s report showing that “the peso has outperformed most emerging market currency so far this year and is likely to prove a strong value in 2009 as the Philippine economy is least vulnerable to the factors of hammering markets elsewhere.”

Remonde added that the Philippines will likely be the only nation in Southeast Asia to post a sharp pick-up on its balance of payment surplus in 2009, partly, the result of loans and privatized proceeds. So, talagang dapat din nating malaman na kinikilala talaga ang ating bansa ngayon bilang the best performing economy in Southeast Asia despite the global crisis.”

Reports said the U.S. is now showing signs of improvement and recovery from the crisis, which Remonde said will augur well for the Philippines and the rest of the world. As you know, “may kasabihan nga na that when America is sick, the rest of the world catches cold. And it is precisely that reason na noong nagkaroon ng pag-collapse iyong mga financial houses ng Amerika ang buong mundo ngayon ay naharap itong global economic crisis.”

“Buti na lamang dahil sa vision at determination ng ating Pangulo, we are not as badly affected as the rest of the world,” Remonde said.

Besides, he said, during President Arroyo the Philippines diversified its export market and now “medyo iyong percentage ng ating international trade with the US has already gone down a bit compared to the previous years. So, we have become less dependent on the US for trade though the US remains our major trading partner and a world political and economic leader.”

Remonde repeated that President Arroyo has her plate full attending to her economic programs, creating jobs and addressing poverty and hunger rather than political issues like charter change.

“As I have already pointed out, si Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ay wala ng panahon diyan sa mga pulitikang usapin. Dahil siya po ay nakatutok po sa ating ekonomiya at sa paglikha ng trabaho,” Remonde stressed anew.

“By continuing investment in hunger mitigation programs, the President seemed to have succeeded in this area as borne by the Social Weather Station February survey showing hunger incidence dipping to only 15.5 percent, Remonde said.

“Ang sinabi nga ng Pangulo sa kanyang talumpati kahapon na patuloy ang investment ng ating gobyerno sa mga food for work program, food for school program, livelihood program at ipagpatuloy at i-eexpand po ang pakikipagtulungan ng ating gobyerno sa simbahan at iba pang mga faith-based organizations na magkakaroon ng mga joint projects like feeding programs and livelihood programs po diyan.

Finally, he said, the Department of Public Works and Highways is now rushing its construction of a major road project that will link Surigao with Davao. This biggest road project for Mindanao was discussed in the Cabinet meeting in Misamis Oriental where the President tasked DPWH to work 24/7 to ensure its completion.

He added that the President inaugurates today the P218 million provincial government complex in Maguindanao which will house the provincial Capitol, sports and social center and other government offices. Of the P215 million, P25 million came from the President’s Social Fund. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has instructed government authorities to exert all possible efforts to ensure the safety and immediate release of the three Red Cross workers still being held by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said the President issued her instructions following the ASG’s threat to behead one of the hostages by March 31 if military troops would not pull back from their jungle stronghold.

Teodoro bared the president’s order in a media briefing this afternoon in Malacanang.

The briefing was also attended by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, Lt. General Alexander Yano, and Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez.In the light of the government’s no-ransom policy, Teodoro said authorities would continue what they are doing “and explore all possible options for the safe release of the hostages.”

“Foremost in our minds is the safety of the hostages. The Chief Executive has reiterated to us her strict instructions that utmost efforts be made to protect the safety of the hostages,” Teodoro said.

The latest ASG threat, Teodoro said, should best be left to the decision and assessment of the local crisis management committee.

The ASG earlier reneged on their promise to release one hostage last week in Indanan, Sulu even after government troops complied with their initial demand to move back.

“Naturally with every demand there is a response and we deemed it best that the local crisis management committee formulate the best response possible on the basis of conditions to include the latest demands or threats by the ASG,” Teodoro said.

The three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers – Andreas Notter of Switzerland, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Mary Jean Lacaba of the Philippines – were abducted by the ASG while inspecting a water project in Sulu last January 15.(PIA V Release)


MANILA — Carrying out the President’s directive for graduation ceremonies to be as simple as possible, the Department of Education (DepEd) has issued a memorandum order to all DepEd units to ensure the conduct of no-fee and “no-frills” graduation rites.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued her “no-frills graduation rites” order early this year as her administration started the provision of emergency government jobs to Filipinos affected by the global economic downturn, and initiated a state-church partnership to alleviate the lives of indigent Filipinos.

“In line with the government’s austerity program,” the DepEd issued Order #15, series of 2009, where “public schools are not allowed to collect any graduation fees or any kind of contribution for graduation rites.”

The DepEd order also mandated that “no extraordinary venue” and “no special attire for the ceremonies should be required.”

“Contributions for the annual yearbook shall likewise be on a voluntary basis,” according to the DepEd order which added that “holding the graduation within the school premises is strongly encouraged.

As to the attire, “wearing of togas may be allowed, subject to the approval of the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) officers and members representing the graduating class, and that only the actual cost of rental of togas is borne by the graduating students.”

The PTA “may solicit voluntary contributions from their members for graduation ceremonies and celebrations; however, teachers and principals should not be involved in the collection of said contributions.

“Use of such contributions for graduation shall be coordinated with and properly reported to the PTA/PTCA members.”

The DepEd Order adds that “no non-academic project shall be imposed as a requirement for graduation.”

Also, “graduation rites should be conducted in an appropriate solemn ceremony befitting the graduating students and their parents, and shall not in any way be used as a venue for political forum.”(PIA V Release)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

PIA SUPPORTS WOMEN’S MONTH CELEBRATION. PIA Regional Office V spearheaded March 18 the Press Conference in support of the Women’s Month celebration this March 2009, held at the PDCC Conference Room at the Provincial Capitol Building in Legazpi City. Above photo (L to R) Visitacion Nuyda-Racho, a farmer and 2007 Most Outstanding ARB in Region V, 1st runner-up National level, PIA Bicol director Eduardo A de Leon, DSWD Bicol assistant regional director Cora Miña, and Social Welfare Officer. (Alex Cal/PIA-V)

LEGAZPI CITY — To be able to take advantage of the summer season the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional office here has bid out a total of P2.923 billion worth of pump-priming projects as part of the stimulus program of the government.

Engr. Orlando Roces, DPWH Bicol regional director, said that the amount covers the implementation of a total of 87 projects in the six provinces of the Bicol region.

He said the 13 district engineering offices will implement 56 of the projects worth P836 million while 31 projects worth P2.087 billion will be implemented by the regional office through the construction division.

He said that the bidding was completed last week and construction will start by first week of April.

Roces explained that the bidding was hastened in line with the directive of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane to fast-track the bidding of the projects in line with the P330 billion stimulus package of the government that would generate some 15,000 jobs nationwide to mitigate the impact of global financial crisis in the country and at the same time improve the infrastructure facilities in the region.

He said that one of the projects involve the construction of the P100 million access road to the new Southern Luzon International Airport being constructed in Barangay Alobo of Daraga, Albay.

He added that P200 million was also allocated for the completion of the rehabilitation and asphalt overlay of the 60-kilometer Andaya Highway in the first district of Camarines Sur.(EAdeLeon, PIA)


PILI, CamSur – Camarines Sur will once again take center stage in the extreme sports limelight when Governor L-Ray Villafuerte partners with the World Wakeboard Association (WWA) to stage the five-day WWA Wake Park World Championships at the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) on March 25 to 29 this year.

This will be the second consecutive year Camarines Sur hosts the competitions, unprecedented in the history of the WWA World Championships which have never been played anywhere else outside the United States except last year.

Camarines Sur’s successive selection as venue of this year’s world wakeboard games all the more confirms the reputation of CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC) as the best cable wakeboard park in the world.

No less than a total contingent of foreigners, 300 to 500 of the top riders from all over the world will attend the competitions, the event actually a triple-contest and dubbed by the WWA as the “largest collective wakeboarding event to date”.

Alongside with the 2009 WWA Wake Park World Championship pulled behind the cable, Governor Villafuerte will again open host the first stop of the WWA Wakeboard World Series during the week and the Cam Sur Riders’ Cup will kick off the World Series behind the boat, with all the world’s top riders expected from some 25 countries competing for a chance to become the WWA Wakeboard World Series champion at the end of the season.

With the added Rail Park at the CWC, the five-day event will also include one of the most highly anticipated contests behind the revolutionary Sesitec System 2.0 with three professional and three amateur divisions.

Professional Men Wakeboarders will be collecting points to determine an overall winner of the entire event. The divisions that will be included for the Pro Men Wakeboard category will be the Pro Men Wakeboard division during the Cam Sur Riders’ Cup (boat), the Pro Men division in the WWA Wake Park World Championships (cable), the Obstacles Only division during the WWA WakePark World Championships (cable) and the Pro Men Wakeboard division of the CWC Rail Park Contest (System 2.0).

The rider with the most cumulative points in these four divisions at the end of the event stands to collect US$8,000.

There will also be a similar cumulative race during the week for Professional Wakeskaters as well. They will compete in three divisions to crown an overall winner in the wakeskate category including the Pro Wakeskate division during the CamSur Riders’ Cup (boat), the WWA Wake Park World Championships (cable), and the CWC Rail Park Contest (System 2.0). The Wakeskate Champion will receive US$4,000.

Further inquiries may be entertained directly by the World Wakeboard Association (407) 362-7841 or EventOrganizer@thewwa.com and registration filed via internet at www.thewwa.com/WPWorlds09Pre2.shtml. (GBClaveria, MMEC/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — In time for the celebration of the Women’s Month, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Bicol regional office will be having a magazine-type talk show dubbed “Talk CSC: All About Women”, on March 25, 2009, 1:30 p.m. at the Bicol University Amphitheatre here.

This years Women’s Month theme is “Babae Yaman Ka ng Bayan”.

In this activity, resource persons were invited from the different government line agencies including personnel from the Civil Service Commission ROV (CSCROV) Legazpi City Health Office, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Technological Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Issues and concerns to be discussed are the Latest Rule on the Administrative Offense of Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct and Sexual Harassment, Women’s Health and Wellness, and business ideas and ideals dubbed as “Go Negosyo for Women”.

The talk show is designed to recognize the significant role of women in the community by way of addressing various issues besetting them.

Mindful of the major roles of the women especially in this time of global financial crisis, Talk CSC will be providing them thoughts and means to expand prospects for better and happier life.

Talk CSC will be hosted by Atty. Daisy P. Bragais and Mr. Raymundo V. Atendido of CSCRO5.(CSC release/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY – The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Bicol enjoins the whole Bicolano community to show solidarity on March 28, 2009 at 8:30 p.m. for the Earth our.

As cities and towns across the world will turn off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour – sending a powerful global message that it’s possible to take action on global warming.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DoE), the Green Army and the SWITCH Movement will turn off lights nationwide – Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao aiming for the participation of at least 10 million Filipinos.
The Bureau urges every Bicolano to support the Earth Hour 2009 through the following ways:

1) switching off your corporate signages and/or the majority of all the lights at your headquarters and all facilities within your control during Earth Hour;
2) mobilizing your networks and communities to participate during Earth Hour event at the Mall of Asia or in your respective communities;
3) organizing your own Earth Hour event in your community or locality to widen the reach of the campaign;
4) encouraging your networks and communities to switch from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFL5); and
5) using various communication channels to promote Earth Hour, including company websites, community newsletters and blogs.(EMB release/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte – Marikina City Mayor Marides C. Fernando graced the launching of Daet Eco-Savers Movement on March 13, 2009 at Daet Kalinangan Center.

Mayor Tito S. Sarion said Daet Eco - Savers Movement will adapt the Marikina’s experience and way of recycling garbage of the community, adding that the concept of the project is to tap all the sectors of the community, wherein they will gather and segregate their household garbage and sell it.

Target recyclable garbage are papers, aluminum cans, bottle of mineral water, plastic, copper, aluminum, metal, glass bottle and hard board. They are usually found in household backyard. Segregate and put in one container. Bring the collected garbage in school on the scheduled “Eco-Day”.

The Eco-Solid Waste Management Office (ESWMO), under the municipal government, will initially tap the education sector as major partner in this project. Students from various schools will collect recyclable household garbage and consolidate it in school where the ESWMO will collect and buy them.

The garbage collected by the students will be monitored and accounted thru the passbook as points to be distributed to the students for free. School supplies will be the counterpart of the points they will earn.

Marikina City government donated eco-savers paraphernalia and it was accepted by Daet Mayor Tito S. Sarion and representative from the Department of Education. Mayor Fernando encourages everyone to be part of the eco-savers movement and keep Daet clean just like Marikina City.(RCYu, MPA, MIO Daet)


NAGA CITY – The SM Foundation offers college scholarship for young Bicolano hopefuls vying to be among its scholars for the year 2009-2010.

Lilibeth P. Azores, public relations officer of SM City Lucena and Naga, said that that the exam and interview schedule for the scholarship program will be on March 31, 2009 at 9 a.m. at the 2nd floor of Regent Hotel, here.

She said that only graduates of public high schools in Camarines Sur and Naga City with Php 150,000 or less household income per year and fourth year GWA of 88% are eligible to apply. Prospective scholars are expected to be in their complete school uniform, armed with ID, ballpen and pencil, and a photocopy of their 4th year report card, BIR Income Tax Return or Certificate of Non-Filing of Income Tax if the student cannot produce the ITR come screening day.

Scholarships are open for the following courses: BS Computer Science, BS Information Technology, BS Information Management, BS Electronics and Communications Engineering, BS Civil Engineering, BS Electrical Engineering, BS Mechanical Engineering, BS Elementary Education, BS Secondary Education (major in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and English) and BS Accountancy BSC / BSBA (major in Accountancy).

SM Foundation partner schools in the Bicol region include the Ateneo de Naga University, University of Nueva Caceres and Universidad de Sta. Isabel-Naga.
In NCR partner schools are Asia Pacific College (APC), FEU, National University (NU), Adamson University, Jose Rizal University, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina, Pamantasan ng Lunsod ng Maynila, Philippine Normal University, UE, at UP Diliman / Manila.

The SM Foundation is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Group of Companies. (DCAbad, PIA Cam. Sur)


PILI, Camarines Sur — Based on the latest laboratory results of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), shellfish ban is still imposed on the following areas: Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur; Juag Lagoon in Matnog and Sorsogon Bay, Sorsogon; coastal waters of Milagros in Masbate and Bislig Bay in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.

All types of shellfish and acetes sp. or alamang gathered from the above banned areas are not safe for human consumption. Fish, squids, shrimps, and crabs are safe for human consumption provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking.

The following areas continue to be free from toxic red tides, coastal waters of Cabite, Las Piñas, Parañaque, Navotas, Bulacan and Bataan in Manila Bay; coastal waters of Alaminos, Anda, Bolinao and Wawa Bays in Pangasinan; Masinloc Bay in Zambales; coastal waters of Mandaon in Masbate; Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa City;

Inner Malampaya Sound in Taytay and El Nido, Palawan; Saplan Bay, Capiz; coastal waters of Pontevedra in Negros Occidental; Irong-irong, Maqueda and Villareal Bays in Samar; Ormoc, San Pedro and Carigara Bays in Leyte; Biliran waters in Biliran Province; Hinatuaan and Lianga Bays in Surigao del Sur; Laguines Lagoon in Camiguin Island; Balite Bay in Mati, Davao Oriental; and coastal waters of Kabasalan in Sibuguey Bay, Zamboanga, Sibugay.(BFAR release/PIA)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today received former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the ‘Bahay Pag-asa’ and talked peace with him for one and a half hours.

Blair, who arrived at 11:40 a.m., was welcomed by President Arroyo at the entrance steps of the Bahay Pag-asa in Malacañang Park across the Pasig River from the Palace.

The President led Blair to the covered lanai and there exchanged notes for some 20 minutes about keeping the peace in England and the Philippines, and in the Middle East, before proceeding to the dining area for the luncheon prepared for the British leader.

“You have carved a niche for yourself in world affairs,” the President told Blair as media cameras clicked and video cameras whirred during the brief photo opportunity allowed by the Palace.

Blair was accompanied by British Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Beckingham and another embassy official while the President was flanked by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Peace Process Adviser Avelino Razon and Peace Panel Chair Rafael Seguis.

Blair talked about how his former administration had resolved the secessionist movement in Ireland, and shared one of its lessons: “face-to-face talk” brings about better understanding.

To this, President Arroyo talked about the government’s pioneering inter-faith dialogue which has since been institutionalized, telling Blair that the dialogue among various sectors, including the religious sector, has brought “more understanding now."(PIA V Release)


MANILA — Numerous interventions by the Arroyo administration in improving supply and access to food resulted in a decline in hunger incidence in the past three months of from 23.7 percent to 15.5 percent based on the independent survey conducted last February by the Social Weather Station.

The SWS reported that the number of Filipinos who experienced severe hunger (respondents experienced it very often) decreased from 5.2 percent (about 940,000 families) to 4.4 percent (down to 810,000 families) while moderate hunger (those that experienced it not that often) declined from 18.5 percent (3.3 mllion) to 11.1 percent (2 million families).

Hunger incidence in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao declined dramatically, especially in Mindanao by 22 points.

The SWS survey covering 1,200 adult respondents divided into random samples of 300 from Metro Manila, Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao said “the results are heartening and very uplifting in the light of the global financial crisis.”

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said President Arroyo’s Anti Hunger Task Force led by the National Nutrition Council Chair and Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III intensified the anti-hunger projects and programs within the framework of the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program (AHMP) to benefit the most vulnerable and the poor.

Initiatives under the AHMP were: increased food supply through the Programang Gulayan Para sa Masa, rice and other crops, livestock and fishery programs; the Tindahan Natin, Barangay Bagsakan centers; improving the delivery of food and services through improved farm to market roads and transport facilities and the Food for School Program in preschools, daycare centers and public elementary schools; improving incomes of the poor and the unemployed through microfinance and income generating and employment opportunities; enhancing the skills of the workforce through trainings and capability building of the community-based nutrition and health implementers on nutrition program management.

Remonde said that for the rest of the year, the Arroyo administration will further hasten construction of ports, farm to market roads, small water impounding projects and diversion dams to increase food production and build post harvest facilities (to ensure against crop wastage).

The government will also augment the number of barangay Bagsakan and Tindahan Natin outlets, particularly in AHMP areas.Likewise, the Gulayan ng Komunidad at Paaralan will be bolstered to ensure food for everyone’s tables, Remonde stressed.

Remonde said he would tap media to promote breastfeeding, “the best anti hunger and anti poverty strategy and to promote nutrition-related laws like mandatory fortification of rice, cooking oil, sugar and wheat flour." (PIA V Release)


MANILA — With hunger incidence reported as having declined from 23.7 percent to 15.5 percent in the past three months, Malacanang, though happy about this development, is urging Filipinos to resort to practical ways to cope with the current global financial and food crises contained in Social Weather Stations’ s Feb. 20-23, 2009 survey.

Among these tips are: Encourage mothers to breastfeed their children for better nutrition, accessibility and economical reasons; don’t leave rice on the plate; grow and raise your own food right at your backyards; plan and prepare nutritious, low-cost recipes using alternative and cheap sources of nutrients; practice a healthy lifestyle in spite of the crisis.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, while showing elation at the declining incidence of hunger, said more needs to be done by everyone to ensure that food access to more people.

“Each one of us can do something to reduce wastage and improve supply by just applying some, if not all, of the tips mentioned,” he said.

According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, 14 grams of rice per capita per day is lost to plate waste and other wasteful eating habits of the more affluent people and diet-conscious consumers.

Growing and raising nutritious fruits and vegetables and small animals like chicken, goat and swine and fish for protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates will greatly improve food supply and ensure greater access to nutritious food for everyone, Remonde said.

More importantly, spending the limited family resources on food and other basic needs and observing healthy lifestyles will go a long way in improving the quality of life and reducing medical expenses, he added.

A great contributor to the decline in hunger incidence was the daily distribution of one kilo rice for free to over 3.5 million preschool and schoolchildren and their families.

The Gulayan Para sa Masa Program also fed close to 2 million families and the establishment of 70 barangay Bagsakan or food terminals became a source of vegetables, fruits, meat and fish at cheaper prices.

Over 2.4 million poor clients obtained seed capital amounting to P47.21 billion to set up small enterprises.

Still another 200,000 people trained with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority with over 90 percent now gainfully employed.

The Arroyo administration provided emergency employment to 25,000 unemployed individuals.(PIA V Release)


MANILA — Press Secretary Cerge Remonde today ordered the newly-installed head of the National Printing Office (NPO) to conduct a continuing review and accreditation of suppliers and to adhere to the procurement law.

The NPO is under the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).

Remonde relayed the orders during the turn-over of the leadership of the NPO from OIC Dionisia Valbuena to newly-retired police general Servando Hizon, former head of the directorate for intelligence of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The Press Secretary presided this morning (March 23) over the turn-over which was held during the Monday flag ceremony at the NPO in Quezon City, congratulating Valbuena for “the efforts and sacrifices that she has done as OIC of the NPO for the past several months.”

Remonde recommended a “periodic annual review” of the “security suppliers” which, he said, should be categorized “according to kakayahan.”

The Press Secretary said Hizon was “personally chosen by Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for his sterling record as a police officer.”

“Para sa akin, ‘yan ang pinakamahalaga,” added Remonde about what he dubbed as the “unblemished record” of Hizon, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1973.

The Press Secretary also called on the new NPO head to follow Republic Act (RA) 9184, the new procurement law, and to “level the playing field” among suppliers.

For his part, Hizon expressed his “deepest gratitude to Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for allowing me to serve under her administration again.”

The NPO director vowed to Secretary Remonde that he will be a “staunch ally in trying to forge an alliance between the NPO, on the one hand, and all concerned agencies, on the other, that will address all the perceived woes and concerns relative to our mandate.”

Remonde had also issued the following marching orders to Hizon; to evaluate and review the NPO’s organizational set-up; revive the Legal Department; improve performance by continuing education and training of personnel; improve the quality of printing materials; strictly maintain the sanctity and security of government accountable and standard forms; proper coordination and cooperation among government agencies to maintain the latter’s inventories at reasonable levels. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malacañang welcomes the proposal to enlist the help of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and “all men of peace” in resolving the decades-old Mindanao conflict.“

In the (cause) of peace, all ideas and help of all men of peace, especially yung malawak ang karanasan sa peace process, should be welcome,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said in an interview over Radyo ng Bayan this afternoon.

He said Blair’s experience in resolving the secessionist movement in Ireland would be immensely helpful in advancing the cause of peace in Mindanao if he were to help lead efforts to end the conflict in the southern Philippines.

He pointed out that during a meeting with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when Blair was still Prime Minister, the latter had offered to help push the Mindanao peace process.

“Nagkaka-meeting po ang ating mahal na Pangulo at itong si Tony Blair ay prime minister pa ng Inglatera; (nag-offer) si Prime Minister Blair na tutulong -- kung paano siya makakatulong sa peace process po sa Pilipinas,” Remonde said.

“Yung experience ni Prime Minister Blair kasi – halos magkapareho ang problema natin with the secessionist movement in Ireland (that was resolved) during the time of Mr. Blair -- so yung experience ni Mr. Blair malaking tulong po sa ating problema sa Mindanao,” he concluded.

Aside from Blair, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan is also being touted as another international leader who could help push the Mindanao peace process. Remonde said Blair and Anan are “eminent persons with ample experience in the peace negotiations and peace processes.”(PIA V Release)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Trainers' Training on the Renal Disease Control Program
held @ Fernandinas 88 Suites, Manila
March 17-20, 2009

PIA RO V ID head Marlon Loterte and (SIC) AVAT II Benny Recebido
attended and participated in the activities, underscoring PIA Bicol's
Communication Plan in support of the REDCOP

Saturday, March 14, 2009


LEGAZPI CITY — To help stimulate the economy and generate more jobs in the countryside and mitigate the effects of the global financial crisis the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is now implementing some P2.9 billion worth pump-priming projects in Bicol for this year.

Orlando Roces, DPWH Bicol regional director, said that the amount will be used to fund some 87 projects in the six provinces of Bicol in line with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s P330 billion pump priming program for 2009.

He said the projects include road opening, road concreting, flood control structures, construction of new school buildings, and repair of roads and bridges.

He said initially some 360 workers have been hired since the launching of the job generation program of the DPWH two weeks ago.

Roces said a total of 742 applied for the jobs under the “Programang Pangtrabaho ni Pangulong Arroyo” job generation program of the government being handled by the agency.

Roces said the initial holding of the one-day jobs fair resulted in th eimmediate hiring of 360 workers by participating contractors who are undertaking pump priming infrastructure projects of the DPWH in the region.

He explained the role of DPWH is to match the available jobs with the skills of the applicants before they are recommended for hiring by participating contractors.

Roces said that similar jobs fair will also be conducted in the coming months to be able to hire more workers who were earlier retrenched by their previous employers.

He added that the jobs fair is being undertaken in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the National Constructors Association and the Philippine Constructors Association, Inc.(EDLeon, PIA V Release)


LEGAZPI CITY — Environment activists rescued what they believe might be the smallest living offspring of the world’s biggest fish— a whaleshark (rhincodon typus) the size of a forearm.

The World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature said maritime officials, along with the environment activists in Pilar, Sorsogon, a town in the eastern Philippines, rescued the 15-inch (38 centimeter) – long believed to be a newborn whale shark last week and released it in deep waters.

It’s tail was tied to small rope on a beach when the rescuers discovered the creature.

The group called it “arguably the smallest living whale shark in recorded history”

WWF said the discovery is the first ever indication that these parts of Sorsogon coastlines, which includes Donsol town known as the whale shark capital of the world, may really be their birthing ground

The group has encountered very few baby whale sharks and can only compare the size of its new discovery to embryos found in a dead female shark in 1996 – which measured 14.6 to 18.9 inches (37 to 48 centimeters), according to Elson Aca, project manager for the WWF whale shark tracking project.

The gentle creatures, which can grow to be as big as a bus, make regular stops along the Philippines’ eastern shores from December to May , attracting thousands of tourists. But little is known about where they breed as they cruise the world seas.(MALoterte, PIA V Release)


Catanduanes Province — They were hot-tempered, they were losing hope, and they may lose their jobs anytime. The tension between the workers and the management was mounting… This was the scenario DOLE Provincial Office chief Emma Acuna came upon at the Virac Eastern Hardware.

“Akala ko po sasalubungin ko ang taon ng wala akong trabaho. Hindi ko na nga alam kung anong gagawin ko..Salamat dumating ang mga taga DOLE…” shared by a worker requested anonymity.

Acuna related 23 employees of said establishment in Virac town here feared losing their jobs when the management submitted a retrenchment report to DOLE provincial office here last January 2009.

The retrenchment, management said, was due to the drastic slump of its business which, allegedly, is caused by the global economic recession.

“Business was down and continuous operation will pull down the establishment to deeper trouble. He wanted to terminate the employees in order to save.” she explained.

Following the retrenchment report, Acuna conducted an investigation and pushed for a dialogue between the workers and the management.

Initial findings prompted DOLE Catanduanes quick response team (QRT) to pursue an aggressive lobbying for the retention of the employees.

“Actually we became like an adviser to them just to save the employees,” she related.

Through the QRT, the management was provided with several options such as reduction of working hours, job rotation and reduction of working days to accommodate the employees and avoid termination.

“Within a couple of weeks, the management has decided to adopt a job rotation scheme wherein each of the the 23 employees were given a 3-4-day work schedule. Our efforts paid off. No one was laid of,”” she noted.

Earlier, DOLE Bicol regional director Ernesto C. Bihis directed all field offices to ensure and adopt all means necessary during QRT interventions to save jobs, adding that the main objective, in this time of crisis, is to safeguard employment and facilitate generation of more jobs.

“I commend DOLE Catanduanes for a job well done. Their effort means that 23 families would have food on their plates in the coming days. We are pushing for maximum tolerance on rotation and reduction of work hours just to save jobs” Bihis commented.(RPEscalante, DOLE Bicol/PIA)


TABACO CITY - The city government here received a P300,000 grant from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol for the implementation of the government’s emergency employment under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay Para Sa Ating Disadvantage Workers (TUPAD) program.

DOLE Bicol regional director Ernesto C. Bihis turned-over the check to Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro during the flag ceremony at the Tabaco City Hall last Monday (March 9).

The grant will be utilized to pay the wages of some 51 workers from the informal sector affected by the global financial crisis. Workers who will qualify will earn a minimum wage of P260.00 per day for a one (1) month work schedule.

The work program focuses on the rehabilitation of the Tabaco River which includes riverside clean and green maintenance, dredging, some street sweeping and some paint jobs.

“Mayor Krisel has lined up the work activities to be done by the workers on this emergency employment. We hope that we could at least supplement the needs of the affected workers through this program” Bihis explained.

It can be recalled that the TUPAD program of DOLE was launched late February to specifically address the aftermaths of the global challenges. The aim is to provide immediate job placement to affected workers in the area. “

We plan to implement all TUPAD programs within the 1st quarter. Even though Bicol is not so much affected by the GC, still we have workers who were affected which needs immediate job.” Bihis explained.

Since January, DOLE-Bicol has already released a total of P 2.4M for emergency employment. “We will be releasing more this month.” Bihis stressed.(RPEscalante, DOLE Bicol/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte – The municipal government here, under the leadership of Mayor Tito Sarion, opens today the Character First Youth Leadership Seminar at Daet Kalinangan Center with the youth sector convening to hone their leadership skills and pursue the advancement and welfare of the young generation.

Sarion said the 3-day, March 13-15, event to exploit the potentials, knowledge and skills on leadership of the young citizenry in this town and enhance good values among them by introducing the Character First Program of the local government.

Among the thrusts of the municipal government which will be discussed during the seminar include Daet on the Go: Direction of Governance, Go Green! Go for the Real Thing!, Community Service: Interpersonal Communication, Values Formation: You were Made for a Mission, Alternative Medicine, Good Governance: Using What God Gave You, The Youth Situation in the Country Today, Strengthening Drug Prevention Program, Youth Security Awareness, Youth Entrepreneurship and The BIDA Program in Daet.
Highlight of the activity is the awarding of the outstanding youth organization of Daet.

Invited resource speakers with great influence in the community will enlighten the youth participants are Speakers includes Commisioner Precilla Marie Abante the National Youth Commission-Commissioner at large, Usec. Edgar C. Galvante of Dangerous Drugs Board, Ms. Juliet Fortuna of A teacher Partylist, Mr. Allen Reondanga of Naga City Mayor’s Office, Mr. Benedict Ella of Nestle Philippines and the President of IMDM Ms. Corazon Tecson Jimenez.

Coinciding with the occasion is the launching of Daet Eco-Savers Movement (Adapting the Marikina Experience) as well as the turn-over and acceptance of Eco-Savers paraphernalia with the City Mayor of Marikina, Marides C. Fernando.(RCYu, LGU Daet/PIA)

By: Christian Martinez

MINALABAC, Camarines, Sur — Pre-school children in colorful dresses waved yellow and white banderitas to welcome guests for the inauguration of two sub-projects in barangay Sagrada Familia here.

Barangay residents, who live some 303 kilometers southeast of Manila, also joined the festive celebration to formally open the Day Care Center and farm-to-market-road (FMR) sub-projects constructed through the KALAHI-CIDSS “has made a difference” in his municipality.

KALAHI-CIDSS, the national government’s poverty alleviation program implemented by DSWD started in Minalabac January of 2006. The World Bank-assisted project has funded subprojects ranging from health station to sea wall in 13 of its 25 barangays.

Mayor Basmayor said communities in his town “learned the transparencies of finances,” people were kept informed about how much money was used and what items were purchased.

“There exists no corruption (in KALAHI-CIDSS),” he testified.

Commitment to CDD

The mayor who received a Special Leadership Award for Local Chief Executives in the recent Gawad KALAHI-CIDSS also declared that he was determined “to sustain and adopt the Community-Driven Development (CDD)” of the project.

DSWD Bicol regional director Remia Tapispisan who attended the opening of the subprojects congratulated the barangay for “working together to complete and implement community subprojects under the KALAHI-CIDSS”

She also told the barangay that she hoped they will “continue to show their support and cooperation” in the last full year of the project.

Hungry for Projects

According to Sagrad Familia punong barangay Ceasar Frunguso, before KALAHI-CIDDS’s entry, they were “hungry for projects from the national government.”

Although “unsure” of how the Project would turn our, people “found” themselves involved in discussing their needs and making plans for the community,” he said.

“During the first cycle, this barangay proposed a FMR because the existing roads were muddy and narrow,” he narrated.

“On the second cycle, the community proposed for a Day Care Center. Children were losing interest to learn because the poorly ventilated bodega near the plaza that served as temporary center was not conducive for learning,” he added.

Showing their joy and appreciation, the Day Care’s pupils danced to a novelty song and were all smiles and motivated to go to the center.(DSWD V/PIA)


MANILA — Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Ombudsman will be able to investigate Securities and Exchange Commissioner Jesus Martinez despite of his retirement from the service.

Aside from criminal and administrative liabilities, Ermita said Martinez stand to lose his retirement benefits and be disqualified from occupying any public office if the Ombudsman probe proves him guilty of charges.

Martinez has been accused of allegedly accepting bribes from the Legacy group.

In a press conference yesterday, SEC Chair Fe Barin guaranteed the commission’s full cooperation to all investigating bodies looking into the Martinez case.

The Department of Justice has already organized a panel tasked to probe Martinez ’ alleged fraudulent involvement with Legacy.(PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo feted yesterday (March 12) five local government units for making their areas fit for children.

The Presidential Award for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities were held today at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang Palace .

New Lucena of Iloilo took the lead in the 4th-6th Class Municipality category while San Mateo of Isabela was the champion among 1st – 3rd class municipalities.

Meanwhile, Makati was declared the child-friendliest among other highly urbanized cities, Naga among charted cities and Vigan among component cities.

Each winner received trophy and Php 300,000 award.

According to the Council for the Welfare of Children, the Presidential Award for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities was encourages LGUs to create a ‘child-friendly’ environment by protecting the rights of children by ensuring their survival, protection, development and participation.

Meanwhile, the number of abandoned, orphaned and neglected children to be placed for legal adoption may increase in the coming months.

The President has signed into law Republic Act 9523 otherwise known as “An Act Requiring the certification of DSWD to Declare a Child Legally Available for Adoption” which reduces and simplifies procedures of declaration of abandonment cases by transferring this function to the DSWD.

Under the new law, DSWD shall process within 3 months all petitions for declaration of children legally free for adoption.(PIA V Release)


WORKERSMANILA — Press Secretary Cerge Remonde today condemned as “arrogance of the highest order” the declaration of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group that there are only two ways the government could secure the release of three kidnapped workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): the payment of a P50-million ransom, and through a military rescue operation.

The first condition would presumably lead to the safe release of the kidnap victims even as Abu Sayyaf warned that any attempt to rescue the hostages was fraught with ``danger.``

In a radio interview yesterday, Remonde assailed the pronouncement of the bandit group, saying it has no place in a civilized society.

He also assured that the ``government is on top of the situation, and the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the defense establishment under Secretary (Gilbert) Teodoro are doing their job.``

Remonde was commenting on today`s headline story of the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the bandit group was demanding a P50-million ``cigarette money`` in exchange for the freedom of the ICRC workers.

Remonde stressed that the government is sticking to its policy of leaving it to the Local Crisis Management Committee to resolve the matter.

The local crisis management group knows best how to deal with the problem involving the three kidnap victims, he added.

The Abu Sayyaf`s hardline stand on the release of the ICRC workers was revealed by Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema and Abdul Sahim, chairman and secretary-general of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the PDI report said.

Mary Jean Lacaba, a Filipino; Eugenio Vagni, an Italian, and Andreas Notter, a Swiss, were abducted by armed men last Jan. 15.

The trio had just inspected a water supply facility at the Jolo provincial jail when the kidnappers pounced on them.

Remonde reported that the crisis committee is handling ``many developments` ` involving the kidnapping case, ``but we cannot reveal this in public right now . . . for the safety of the hostages and for national security reasons.``(PIA V Release)


MANILA –- Malacanang on Thursday reaffirmed its no ransom policy in exchange for the release of the three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers abducted on January 15 by suspected Abu Sayyaf Group bandits in Sulu.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the government will stick to its policy of leaving the matter to the local crisis management committee.

“We stick to our policy. We are leaving this matter to our local crisis management committee which we feel is the body that knows best how to deal with this situation,” Remonde.

Media reports quoted Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema as saying the that ASG is demanding P50 million ransom for the release of the ICRC workers Mary Jean Lacaba, Eugenio Vagni and Andreas Notter.

Remonde said the act of the ASG "should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

The Press Secretary, however, assured that the government is on top of the situation as the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is doing its job.

In fact, he said, there are many developments that are being handled by the local crisis committee but “we cannot reveal this in public right now, for the safety of the hostages and for national security reasons.”

Earlier, the ICRC abductors had demanded the pullout of government troops in the area.(PIA V Release)


MANILA — The Philippines has been selected by the Washington-based Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors as among the countries eligible for a large-scale grant that can be used as additional source of capital for investment in economic development.

``Congratulations to the Philippine government for its demonstrated commitment to tackling difficult challenges and improving the lives of its people,`` MCC Ambassador John Danilovich said in a statement.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the MCC statement reaffirms the Arroyo government`s commitment in reducing poverty and focus on making the economy grow.

``This grant is a seal of the government`s good housekeeping, `` Remonde added.

At present, the Philippines enjoys a threshold program status, which means it is only receiving smaller grants designed to help improve performance on specific indicators.

With a compact assistance status next year, the Philippines will be eligible for full assistance from the US-based MCC.

Remonde said the MCC chooses its beneficiaries based on the measure of good governance, the country`s investment on people and policies that encourage economic freedom.

"Being selected as one of the countries given this means a lot and we should all be happy about it. This will be an additional source of capital for investment in economic development, both in human and infrastructure," he said.

Countries selected as eligible for a large-scale grant (compact status) have the opportunity to submit a proposal for five-year program to reduce poverty.

The MCC, a firm that works with among the poorest countries in the world, said the Philippines will be given a compact status starting next year.(PIA V Release)


MANILA -- The Philippines will be hosting in November the East Asian Seas Congress 2009.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo discussed the preparations for the country’s hosting of the congress with Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza yesterday (March 12) at the Music Room of the Palace.

The Congress, which is held every three years, expects some 1,000 participants “from within and outside the East Asian Seas Region.”

“This year’s congress will focus on sharing local implementation and good practices in Sustainable Development and Integrated Coastal Management in the coasts and oceans of the region,” according to the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), an office under the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

PEMSEA, which has former Energy Secretary Rafael Lotilla as regional program director, has been hosted by the Philippine Government through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) over the last 15 years.

In the same meeting were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, UNDP Resident Rep. Renaud Meyer, PEMSEA Chair Dr. Chua Thia-Eng, and PEMSEA chief technical officer Adrian Ross, and Lotilla.(PIA V Release)