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

Thursday, April 30, 2009


ALBAY Province — United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney, during her visit here Tuesday (April 28), promised that humanitarian missions will continue as component of the Balikatan Exercises, with the US-RP military counterparts building roads, school buildings, providing free medical services and other humanitarian projects for the Filipino people.

“I am very impressed by the progress of the US-RP Balikatan humanitarian mission here and in the provinces of Sorsogon and Masbate,” Kenney said in a media interview following the inauguration and turn-over of humanitarian-assisted projects in Pio Duran town here.

Kenney, along with Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Albay Governor Joey Salceda, graced the inauguration of the 3 km. road built by the RP and the US military engineers as part of the Balikatan 2009 humanitarian projects, in Pioduran town.

The US Ambassador also visited Malipo Elementary School in neighboring Guinobatan town joining the RP and the US military contingents and local government medical personnel providing free medical services to local residents. She also proceeded to Guinobatan East Central School, where she also observed a Summer Camp for Young Emergency Response Team, sponsored by the USAID and run by Save the Children.
“I am very pleased to see the US and the Philippines work together, not just our military forces. We just came from a medical mission… we have civilian doctors, community volunteers, people from the congress and staff helping out. It is wonderful to see us coming together to give, maybe the greatest gift you can give, the gift of health to the people who are in need,” she said.

Kenny said that with or without the Balikatan humanitarian mission, US will remain a friend and a partner here, recalling on July 4 some years ago the USS Pelleliu was here in Albay and the marines providing free medical care to the locals… And we will continue to do that.

“Balikatan exercises, particularly the humanitarian aspect, provide us great opportunity to work together with our Philippine counterpart, with civilians like myself and the military, to really improve people’s lives whether building of roads, school buildings or medical care,” she related.

Teodoro, meanwhile, has maintained that this year's joint RP-US Balikatan Exercises mark the "robust, resilient and responsive" bilateral partnership between the Philippines and the United States.

He said that thousands of people benefit from the Balikatan Exercises, such as building of roads, school buildings, free medical services, among many other humanitarian-assisted projects all over the country.

He said that the Philippines cannot just turn its back on the agreement because, adding that we signed it with eyes open and that many of our countrymen benefit from it.

“As an example, we can not but appreciate the benefits that the newly-built road in Pioduran town would provide. Access to the area had been reportedly been difficult, but with the new road thousands of residents of Sorsogon and Albay will benefit from the growth of commerce trade as well as easier access,” he added.

He also said that the road network links Pio Duran in Albay with the tourist town of Donsol town in Sorsogon province which is considered the whale shark capital of the world

As this year’s exercises come to a close, the Joint RP-US Civil Military Operation Task Force reported some 17,314 residents from the three provinces have already benefited from the medical care and services in the 22 Medical Civic Action Program (MedCAP), while two roads, two 2-room school buildings and two water wells were built in the 6 Engineering Civic Action Program (EnCAP) of the Balikatan this year.
This year's exercise, which runs from April 1 to 30 is the 25th in the Balikatan series under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). (MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY — Shoe Mart (SM) group of companies and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol regional office are jointly staging the JOB-apalooza on May 1, in time for the observance of the International Labor Day and opening of the SM mall in Naga City.

DOLE Bicol assistant regional director Irma Valiente stated that the JOB-apalooza has been an annual undertaking initiated by SM Supermalls nationwide on job generation intended to provide domestic and overseas job opportunities, this time to Bicolanos workers who were displaced by the global economic crisis and the unemployed.

The mega jobs fair will open at 10:30 A.M. and will be held at the 2nd floor of the SM Naga City, the newest malling center in Bicol.

JOB-apalooza is also made possible with the support of the Naga City Public Employment Services Office (PESO) and ABS-CBN regional network group based in Naga City, through its “Kaya ni Juan: Trabaho Patrol” advocacy program, in response the national government’s program on gainful employment generation in the wake of the economic meltdown.

Among the participating agencies and companies are SM conglomerates and affiliates like Watsons, Ace Hardware, Appliance Center, BDO, Sum Supermarket, SM Department Store and Shopping Center Management Corporation; eleven (11) local companies including Bigg’s, Inc., Dranix Distributor, Inc., Milaor Trading Corporation, Filway Marketing, Inc., Grepalife, Bon Manpower Services, Sutherland Global Services, Mang Inasal Phils. Inc.; and, three (5) overseas recruitment agencies namely Accelerated Distribution, Inc., Isearch International Co., Nonstop Overseas Employment, P&R Manpower Services, Inc., and, Mori International Agency Corporation.

Valiente said that the National Statistics Office (NSO), Social Security System (SSS) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will also be setting up booths to process job placement papers for prospective applicants.

“Some 3,000 jobs are up for grabs during this mega jobs fair, which coincides and definitely will make our observance of the Labor Day more productive and meaningful,” she said. (MALoterte, PIA V)


DAET, Camarines Norte — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol has targeted eight indigent groups from the different municipalities of Camarines Norte province to benefit from the Self-Employment Assistance-Kabataan (SEA-K) this year.

Earl Maximillan Cecilio, project development officer of the DSWD Bicol, said that the lending and capability building components of SEA-K program correspond to the economic stimuli package of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in generating employment thru micro-enterprise in the wake of the present global economic crisis.

He added that the different Municipal Social Welfare and Development Offices (MSWDOs) will identify the prospective indigents in their respective localities, while DWSD will provide them the series of trainings on basic management.

He explained that within a group of indigents, composed of 20-25 persons, each member will be given a loan of P5,000 which the recipient will pay the amount in one year and with zero interest.

He said that if the borrower is a good payer for two or more loans they have earlier availed, he/she will qualify for Level 2 wherein they can borrow P10,000 capitalization for micro-enterprise, P10,000 for home improvement and P25,000 for housing loan with very low interest.

Indigent groups from the towns of Basud and Capalonga have now qualified for the Level 2.

The funds will be provided by the DSWD V upon identification and approval of the recipient’s application. (RBManlangit, PIA Cam. Norte)

SM Supermalls opens in Naga City

NAGA CITY — The City Police Office (CPO) and the Public Safety Office (PSO) here have since April 21 started an experimental rerouting scheme along Panganiban Drive in preparation of SM City Naga’s grand opening on May 1.

PSSupt Edwin Jose G. Nemenzo, police chief of Naga City, said that the implementation of the new traffic scheme is going-on smoothly and showing positive signs of public acceptance.

“The dry-run intends to make motorists more familiar with some change on the traffic in the area. SM City Naga, which opens on May 1, is expected to draw shoppers across the region and may congest traffic in the vicinity,” he related.

From the eastern part going to SM City Naga, Del Rosario-Concepcion jeeps via Panganiban going to Centro are to turn left to Plaza Medica (one way direction south) and right to East Bound terminal (one way direction west) going to the Loading and Unloading Zone of the mall. Going back to Panganiban, they are tu turn left and circumvent the CBD2 Bus Terminal block (one way direction south).

From the city proper going to SM City Naga, Del Rosario-Concepcion jeeps via Panganiban are to turn right (one way direction south) and circumvent CBD2 Bus Terminal (one way direction north and west) then right to the mall’s Loading and Unloading Zone along CBD Service Road, and then right towards Panganiban Drive. If not heading for the mall, after circumventing CBD2 Bus Terminal, they are to turn right to the East Bound terminal, then left to Carnation St., right to Naga City Subdivision, then left going back to Panganiban.

From the eastern part going to SM City Naga, Del Rosario-Concepcion jeeps and buses are to take the Almedia Highway leading to Diversion Road and then right to the CBD Bus Terminal (one way direction north), then left to the mall’s Loading and Unloading Zone.

From the east, intra city vehicles such as vans and jeeps going to the mall are to take the Almeda Highway going to Diversion Road. They are to turn right and circumvent the CBD 2 Bus Terminal (one way direction north) and then go left (one way direction west) to the mall’s Loading and Unloading Zone and then right heading to Panganiban. Going to the mall, they can also turn right to Carnation St. from Almedia Highway, then go left toward the mall’s Loading and Unloading Zone.

From the south, intra city PUVs and Del Rosaio Concepcion jeeps via Diversion Road are to turn left to circumvent the CBD2 Bus Terminal (one way direction north and west) toward the mall’s Loading and Unloading Zone and then right to Panganiban Drive.

Tricycle color coding will also be in effect along Panganiban Drive preventing entry of certain colors on a designated day. Mondays will be a no entry for red tricycles, Tuesdays for yellow, Wednesdays for green and Thursdays for blue. Fridays-Saturdays will be a free day for all colors.

Likewise there will also be a public and private vehicles number coding along Panganiban Drive. Mondays will not see plate numbers ending in 1-2, Tuesdays 3-4, Wednesdays 5-6, Thursdays 7-8, and Fridays 9-0. Saturdays-Sundays will be a free day for all vehicles. Number and color coding will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. only.

Public Safety Office (PSO) head Lito del Rosario, meanwhile, noted that traffic congestion has been a perennial problem along Panganiban Drive long before the opening of the SM mall.

“We hope that the rerouting scheme will once and for all untangle traffic knots in the area during busy days.

Along with traffic signs and barricades in key areas, PNP and PSO personnel will be detailed along Panganiban Drive and CBD Service Road to guide motorists. (DCAbad, PIA Cam. Sur/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte — Pinyasan Festival 2009 shines as the Media Trade Exchange, Inc., in partnership with this local government here, launched the 17th Pinyasan Festival at Cucina Victoria, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City on April 21, 2009.

Resti Reyes, president of the Media Trade Exchange, Inc., Daet Mayor Tito Sarion and Congresswoman Liwayway Vinzons-Chato of the Lone District of Camarines Norte, signed and entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the press conference following the launching of the festival.

The conference also marked the launching of the official website of the 17th Pinyasan Festival, http://www.mediatrade.com.ph/daet, where everyone can access information on Pinyasan Festival, news, event schedules, photos, among others.

Known celebrity Bing Pimentel, a Daet native, hosted the event.

In gracing the occasion, Chato offered the guests and tourists attending the Pinyasan Festival to taste the mostly unique local food products and crafts of this town, made from its famous pineapple, Queen Formosa variety.

Political figures, celebrities and entertainers, the likes of Mayor Jejomar C. Binay of Makati City and former hotshot playmaker Atoy Co, added color to the occasion and showed their appreciation and support for the Pinyasan Festival.

Mr. Dondi Ong III, a proud son of Daet and a member of the UP Singing Ambassadors, provided an artistic dimension to the event, performing Josh Groban’s song You Raise Me Up, as well as the aria Nessun dorma from Puccini’s opera Turandot.

Daet’s most famous annual event is held every year to showcase its prime agricultural product, the sweet Queen Formosa pineapple. (RCYu, LGU Cam. Norte/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) announces the Call for Entries to the 5th PopDev Media Awards.

The contest is open to all print, broadcast, online, photo, and citizen journalists nationwide. Entries must deal with population and human development issues such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), public health (especially reproductive health), reproductive health policy and governance, economic growth and poverty, climate change, housing and urban development, sustainable development, environment, education, gender, maternal health, adolescent reproductive health, family planning, food security, reproductive rights, migration, and population ageing.

For the Print and Online Category, awards will be given for Best News Reportage (should consist of a body of work or a series of at least three spot news reports); Best Opinion or Editorial Piece; Best Investigative Report, and Best Feature or Magazine Article.

For Television, awards will be given for Best TV Documentary and Best Magazine Program or Talk Show.

For Radio, awards will be given for Best Radio Program. Entries to this could be news, commentary (should consist of a series of at least three separate news reports or commentaries) or a special production of media agencies.

For the Photojournalism category, awards will be given for Best Single Photo and Best Photo Essay.

Citations will also be given for blog (text) and photo blogs (single photo and photo essay) in recognition of the significant contribution of citizen journalists in the informed discussion of population and human development issues. Entries from professional journalists may be considered as long as these were posted in their personal blogs.

Entries should have been published, aired, or posted between August 16, 2008 and August 15, 2009 in a publication or network that has been in existence for at least one year, or in a blog site that has been created at least since January 1, 2008. Deadline for submission of entries is on August 31, 2009.

Interested parties may send as many entries in a chosen category. Winners will receive a cash prize, trophy, certificate, and a chance to go into a study trip to a PLCPD project area in the Philippines .

For more information, interested parties may contact PLCPD at (02) 9251800 or (02) 4362373 or visit http://www.plcpd.org.ph/Media%20Awards/default.asp. (PLCPD/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) field office here convened Tuesday (April 28) the provincial chief executives of Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Albay as well as heads of the different partner agencies for the Briefing on the Recovery Project for Typhoon-Affected Provinces in Bicol.

DSWD Assistant Secretary Vilma Cabrera explained the Recovery Project for Typhoon Affected Province in Bicol aims to:
• Complement the on-going recovery efforts in Bicol region;
• Assist the families and communities currently experiencing difficulty in regaining normal lives;
• Implement a disaster preparedness and mitigation program in partnership with the government and other UN agencies; and
• Establish a tracking and coordination mechanism for the government, UN agencies, NGOs and CSOs on early recovery efforts and future emergencies.

The project is being implemented in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), local government units (LGUs) and DSWD.

Cabrera said that the recovery project will be implemented in the typhoon-affected areas of Bicol region giving priority to the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon having the most number of affected families, damaged houses and prevailing recovery/rehabilitation gaps.

The UNDP-funded project will be implemented starting this year up to 2011.
Present during the briefing were Mr. Renaud Meyer, the Country Director of UNDP; USEC Celia C. Yangco, National Project Director; UNDP Program Officer Ms. Alma Evangelista; regional directors of OCD, DOLE, NEDA, DSWD, Gov. Sally Lee of Sorsogon, and representatives from the provincial government of Albay and Camarines Sur. (EEJerusalem, DSWD/PIA)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo embarks on a mission of peace and search for new business and investment opportunities for the country during her scheduled state visit to Syria on May 3 and 4.

Syria is among the newest strategic partners of the Philippines in the Middles East. The Philippine Embassy in Damascus was officially inaugurated only last April 13 this year, following its upgrade from its former consular office status.

It now serves the estimated 17,000 Filipinos working in Syria.

The former Philippine consulate in Damascus used to serve as transit point for Filipinos in times of crisis in the Middle East. It served as an exit point for thousands of Filipino workers fleeing the war in Lebanon in 2006.

Aside from being one of the supporters of the country’s peace and development initiatives, Syria is a crucial player in the Middle East on account of its energy resources and fertile lands. It is a key player and a major participant in the struggle for peace and security in the region.

Before going to Syria, President Arroyo will first have a working visit in Egypt on May 2-3. She will leave Cairo on May 3 and proceed to Damascus for her state visit upon the invitation of the Syrian government.

The President is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting and sign partnership and cooperation agreements with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who will tender a state dinner in her honor.

The Chief Executive is also scheduled to address the People’s Assembly of Syria and hold meetings with leading Syrian business leaders and prospective investors.

President Arroyo will likewise visit one of the biggest container terminals in the Middle East operated by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) before heading back to Manila on May 5. (PIA V Release)


Manila — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will grace Friday (May 1) the leadership turn-over of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

The President will be given full military honors upon her arrival at the AFP’s general headquarters (GHQ) for the 11:30 a.m. ceremonies that will also feature a testimonial parade and review in honor of outgoing AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Alexander Yano.

The change of command from Gen. Yano to incoming AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado, Philippine Army (PA) commanding general, will start with the reading of the Relief And Designation Orders, followed by the remarks of Gen. Yano who will then read and sign his Relinquishment Order as his personal flag is lowered.

Ibrado will then read and sign his Assumption Order before the hand-over of the command symbol and the raising of his personal flag.

The President will deliver her speech following the remarks of the newly installed AFP chief of staff.

The ceremonies will be followed by a March in Review, and concluded with departure honors for President Arroyo, and then for Gen. Yano who will don a new hat as Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today directed Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila to facilitate the release of the P1-billion Export Support Fund to help export industries cope with the global economic fallout.

The President issued her directive during the closing ceremonies of the 30th National Conference of Employers (NCE) this morning at the Manila Hotel.

In her speech, the President instructed Favila to coordinate with the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Finance (DOF) to expedite the release of the export support fund under the Economic Resiliency Plan (ERP).

She pointed out that the fund would help the various export groups ride the storm brought about by the global financial meltdown.

The President said the government’s assistance to the export-oriented sector would eventually help the more than 50,000 local workers displaced by the crisis get new jobs.

“I have instructed Secretary Favila to work with the PMS, DBM and DOT a final evaluation of the various proposals with the intent of releasing the fund soonest,” the President said. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malacanang today advised the people not to panic over the swine flu epidemic because “we do not have that disease” in our country.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Golez said in an interview with Radyo ng Bayan, that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to closely monitor the epidemic that has already killed more than 100 people in Mexico and the United States.

Likewise, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro was ordered by the President to convene the NDCC and review contingency plans already in place in case swine flu is reported in the country.

He said this is not the first time that a pandemic scare has gripped the world. The first was in 2003 when SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) broke out, and also in 2006 when the avian influenza spread to some parts of the world.

Golez said the country has had experiences in contingency planning, with the NDCC as the lead agency and the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Agriculture (DA) as members.

He said contingency plans now have been drawn up to address flu epidemics. “What is important is that aside from the government, the people help so that we can all prevent the Mexican swine flu from reaching our country,” he said.

Golez explained that swine flu that has infected a number of people in Mexico is a mixture of the flu virus from pigs and from humans, which made the SI evolve into a different strain of virus.

There has been no vaccine discovered to treat the Mexican swine flu. He said vaccines manufactured in the past were found not effective in treating current or new viral strains. The strains mutate, added Golez, a doctor of medicine.

He said the mortality rate from Mexican swine flu has reached two percent or two persons out of every 100 contaminated by the virus.

Reports said the virus has spread to the United States, Spain and even Australia. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed today the amendments to Republic Act (RA) No. 3591 increasing by 100 percent, from P250,000 to P.5 million, the insurance coverage by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) of bank deposits.

The President signed Republic Act No. 9576, the PDIC charter amendments, during the Philippine Economic Zone Authority PEZA (PEZA) Investors’ Recognition Day at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Pasay City on Wednesday (April 29).

Witnessing the signing ceremony were Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. and PDIC president Jose C. Nograles.

Also present were the principal authors and sponsors of the amendments, namely, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Manila Rep. Jaime Lopez, Quezon City Rep. Matt Defensor, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and Negros Occidental Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson.

Amendments to the PDIC charter form part of the financial reforms designed to bolster the protection of bank deposits, and enhance confidence in and contribute to a stronger banking system.

The increase of the deposit insurance coverage to P500,000 is expected to encourage depositors to keep their money in the banks against effects from the present global financial crisis. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today cited the role of the business and labor sectors in nation-building and in helping the government overcome the challenges arising from the global economic crisis.

The President expressed her gratitude for the “sense of community” of employers in the business sector during the closing ceremonies of the 30th National Conference of Employers (NCE) this morning (Wednesday, April 29) at the Manila Hotel.

Saying the global crisis also offers opportunities, the leaders of the business sector who are the country’s biggest employers assured the President that they will work with the government in preserving jobs and businesses.

The employers’ expression of “community” with the government in the midst of the worldwide economic downturn was contained in a resolution they presented to the President.

In their resolution, the employers also vowed to minimize job losses and business dislocations; build the capacity of the domestic economy to create jobs and business; and unite in support of reform and transformation in society, particularly in improving economic and political governance.

In her speech, the President also thanked the business sector for sharing the sacrifices of their workers by letting them undergo work-sharing and training arrangements instead of directly laying them off.

Instead of lay-offs, the President urged companies to pay half the minimum wage of their workers to undergo training at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for them to become more competitive and productive when they find new employments.

The President thanked companies like the Calamba-based Yazaki Torres which continues to provide half of the basic pay of its workers who are “on vacation.”

She also expressed her gratitude to the country’s labor sector for its strong bond with employers, thus resulting in sustained industrial peace in the workplace.

“We must and we will sustain this partnership as we work together to hasten our country’s economic rebound. And that is our response to the global crisis,” the President said. (PIA V Release)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional office here has earmarked some P5.2 million for the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) this year.

DOLE regional director Erensto C. Bihis said the SPES will benefit some 3,148 poor but deserving students all over Bicol.

Bihis said that SPES is aims to support poor but deserving students by providing them employment during summer and Christmas vacation wherein their wages they earn from the program can be used to pay for tuition fees and other educational expenses in the coming school year.

He explained that DOLE pays 40 percent of the salary, while cooperating government agencies, mostly local government units (LGUs), and private business establishments shell out the 60 percent of the total amount.

He said that SPES is a “trademark” program of DOLE Bicol every summer and an “outstanding program” nation wide benefiting thousands of Filipino students every year.

“With the SPES growing number of applicants, yet due to limited funds at this time, students will be hired within 15 working days only instead of the usual 30 or 45 day in order to accommodate more beneficiaries. The program has since been implemented on April 5 and will end on June 9, this year,” he noted.

Bihis has also directed Public Employment Services Office (PESO) managers to strictly evaluate SPES applicants, stressing the “DOLE has limited slots wherein only 70% of the student-applicants will be hired for this year and we want these slots be given to students who belong to indigent families.

We will strictly impose the P36,000.00 net income of parents” he said.

SPES is open to students 15-25 years old enrolled during the present school year or will enroll immediately after summer vacation; and dropouts who intend to continue their education but have no money for matriculation.

However, assistant regional director Irma S. Valiente said that these students or dropouts must have good educational track records with a passing mark on the last school year they attended.

“We also need to make sure that they are intellectually capable to finish their studies. Pangit naman kasi kung tatanggapin natin sa SPES tapos magbubulakbol lang naman. We do not want that,”she elaborated

Requirements for application to SPES include: duly filled registration form No. 01 with 3 copies ID photo; birth/baptismal certificate, Form 138 or certified true copy of student’s class card or Certification by School registrar that the student has a passing grade during the previous semester/school year; and the most important part, LATEST INCOME TAX RETURN OF THE PARENT or Official Certification form the Municipal Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) office that the net income of parents is not more than P36,000.00 per annum; or a certification form the employer/union president that the parents of the applicant is to be displaced or has been displaced form the job. However, if the student has no birth or baptismal certificate they must secure a Joint Affidavit of two disinterested parties attesting the age of the student.

Jose Banda, chief of the Technical Services Support Division (TSSD), explained that student-applicants who have already complied with the documentary requirements and are found to be eligible to join the program will be given a SPES ID.

“The ID will be their passport on the next SPES year. They will just present the ID. No need to comply, again with the requirements. However, we would like to reiterate that selection and hiring is done by the PESO” Banda assured.

Students who will be accepted are officially enrolled in the program. An employment contract will then be issued by the employer and the PESO duly attested by a representative of DOLE-Bicol.

However, Bihis said that salaries of students varies from the class of municipality or city as approved by DBM Circular No. 74 series of 2001. “Just like our wage order wherein there is a classification of salaries.” Bihis said. (RPEscalante, DOLE V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — PhilHealth has since January 1, 2009, extended its coverage of normal spontaneous deliveries (NSD) to the first four births as per PhilHealth Circular No. 20, s-2008.

PhilHealth Bicol regional director Orlando Iñigo, Jr. bared that this shall be implemented in all PhilHealth-accredited hospitals and accredited non-hospital facilities (Lying-in Clinics) in the country.

He explained that this amendment applies only to normal (uncomplicated) vaginal deliveries in both accredited hospitals and lying-in clinics.

He added that for non-hospital providers of the maternal care package, (e.g., lying-in clinics, birthing homes, midwife-managed clinics), the first prenatal visit of patient must not exceed the 16 weeks age of gestation. Patients who do not satisfy this criterion should be referred to accredited hospitals to qualify for the normal spontaneous delivery package.

“Excluded in this package are the 5th normal spontaneous deliveries and subsequent births. Also excluded are those pregnancies resulting to abortions since they are not covered by the limitation of coverage of NSD of the first four births,” he noted.

“Those with history of medical conditions (e.g., hypertension, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disorder, morbid obesity, moderate to severe asthma, epilepsy, renal disease, bleeding disorders) are also excluded as well as those with other risk factors that may arise during present pregnancy (e.g. premature contractions, vaginal bleeding) that should be referred for further management,” the director added.

Iñigo elaborated that the following conditions remain to be excluded in PhilHealth accredited non-hospital facilities:
a) maternal age under 19 years old;
b) first pregnancy of patients aged 35 years and older;
c) multiple pregnancy;
d) ovarian abnormality (ovarian cyst);
e) uterine abnormality (myoma uteri);
f) placental abnormality (placenta previa);
g) abnormal fetal presentation (e.g. breech);
h) history of three or more miscarriages/abortion;
i) history of one stillbirth;
j) history of major obstetric and/or gynecologic operation (e.g. cesarean section, uterine myomectomy);
k) history of medical conditions (e.g. hypertension, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disorder, morbid obesity, moderate to severe asthma, epilepsy, renal disease, bleeding disorders); and l) other risk factors that may arise during present pregnancy (e.g. premature contractions, vaginal bleeding) that warrants a referral for further management.

He explained that normal birth is characterized by spontaneous onset of labor; low risk at the start of labor, throughout labor, and delivery; infant in vertex position; and 37-42 weeks of completed pregnancy. (PhilHealth V/PIA)


PILI, CamSur—Camarines Sur residents will be treated to another colorful and exciting cycling event as registration for the 12th edition of the Tour of Camarines Sur scheduled from May 25 to 27 is now in full throttle.

Top-notch cyclists from throughout the country are expected to once again participate in this annual biking event which is continually supported by Governor LRay Villafuerte as part of the Kaogma Festival to celebrate the foundation anniversary of the province. The Festival will showcase the province’s beautiful attractions like the Caramoan Peninsula which now boasts of a world-class tourist resort.

The Multimedia Education Center of the Provincial Capitol has announced that the registration for the 12th Tour of Camarines Sur has been scheduled from April 20 to 30 only.

This year’s Tour has three laps, with the first stage kicking off on May 25 from the town of Caramoan to the town of Goa. The first lap will pass through the municipalities of Presentacion, Lagonoy and San Jose.

The second lap scheduled on May 26 will start from Goa to Baao via Tinambac, Calabanga, Bombon, Naga City and Pili.

The last lap on May 27, the longest route at 150 kilometers will take off at Baao, passing through Nabua, Bula, Minalabac, San Fernando, Pamplona, Sipocot, Libmanan, Milaor and then at the Almeda Highway in Naga City en route to the finish line at Provincial Capitol.

Interested cyclists can register within the allotted period from April 20 up to 30. Only limited slots are available for participants in the Tour. For further information the Multimedia Education Center can be contacted at Telephone 477-3160. (SNieves, MMEC/PIA)


Legazpi City — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol has established the Sagip Batang Manggagawa (SBM), a special task force designed to pursue advocacies on protection and welfare of the children and committed to eliminate the worst forms of child abuse in the region.

DOLE Bicol Regional Director Ernesto C. Bihis stated that the task force is an alliance of government agencies, non-government organizations, trade unions, and sectoral organizations which will track down and push for the strict implementation of the anti-child labor program of the government,

“Actually, this program has been existing for a long time, however, we are now pushing the team to conduct more surveillance.” Bihis explained.

The Anti-Child Labor law, the backbone of the SBM, is being guaranteed by RA 9231 of the Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.” Providing for the worst forms of child labor and affording stronger protection for the working child.

The activities of the SBM will focus on Bicolana (female) teenagers who are among the most vulnerable sectors of the community and commonly the victim of prostitution.

The SBM, moreover, will respond to and address major types of potentially hazardous working conditions on children which includes long work hours, heavy physical work, physical and mental abuse or humiliations, sexual abuse, low or no wages, lack of educational opportunities and lack of social and emotional development and support.

“The risks of early pregnancies, susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases, and threat of contracting HIV/AIDS are given special attention now due to marginal rise of GROs and student sex workers.” Bihis explained.

The SBM Team is composed of Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health (DOH), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), DOLE-RCC, LGU, and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Further, DOLE and the heads of colleges and secondary schools in the region have forged partnership for the purpose of determining and surveying student sex workers.

“RA 9231 widened the scope of DOLE which covers student sex workers. Although there are no supported reports that this new breed of GROs are growing, we do not want to be caught off guard. We have to act fast since most of them (student sex workers) are unrecorded and the threat of STDs and AIDS are greater than the regulated workers in entertainment establishments. Rest assured, we will do everything we can…”he said.

DOLE Bicol, meanwhile, noted a decline on Bicolano (male) children exposed to the worst forms of child labors following the massive information campaign focusing on education of parents, business establishments and local enforcers.

RA 9231 also increased Penalties to violators of the Anti-Child Labor Law depending upon gravity of offense as follows:

1. For violation on employment of children below 15 years old, long work hours and prohibition on employment of children in certain advertisements the penalties are: 6 months and 1 day to 6 years imprisonment, fine of not less than P50,000.00 to P300,000.00 or both.

2. For violation on prohibition against worst forms of child labor/hazardous work the penalties are: imprisonment of 12 years and 1 day to 20 years or fine of not less than P100,000.00 but not more than P1M or both.

3. For violation on engaging children in all forms of slavery, prostitution and pornography the penalties shall be in accordance with penalty provided by RA 9208 (Anti Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003) and shall be in the MAXIMUM PERIOD.

4. For violation on use of children for production and trafficking drugs the penalties shall be in accordance with RA 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) and shall be in the MAXIMUM PERIOD.

If a corporation commits violation, the board of directors, trustees and officers including the president, treasurer and secretary shall be penalized accordingly.

In cases wherein the parents or legal guardians are the violators the penalties are fine of not less than P10,000.00 but not more than P100,000.00 or Community Service for not less than 30 days but not more than 1 year (maximum length of community service if violation is 3 times) or both fine and community service. If violation is more than 3 times, community service and imprisonment of 30 days but not more than 1 year or both shall be imposed.

DOLE is also mandated to order closure of cessation of business establishments found to have committed violations more than 3 times. As of press time, DOLE-Bicol is conducting several ocular and surveillance operations region wide. “But as to where and the name of establishment, well, we prefer to keep it a secret. Baka makatakas pa eh.” Bihis stressed. (RPEscalante, DOLE V/PIA)


DAET, CAMARINES NORTE – The Provincial Government of Camarines Norte is now conducting summer workshops on theater, music and arts for the children and youth.

Abel Icatlo, division chief of the Provincial Museum, said that the series of workshops basically aims to develop the artistic talents of children specially this summer vacation.

He said that the training/workshop on folkdance and playing banduria was conducted last April 20-24; on flute and guitar playing on April 27-May 1; on theater arts, May 4-8; on acrylic oil painting and charcoal painting, May 11-15.

He also said the training program is open to all children, aged 10 and above, and is offered for free.

Showcase of their works and talents is set on May 22 at the Central Plaza Mall Atrium here.
Icatlo said that this year’s training program is its 12th year, conducted every summer vacation.

He added that the trainers are from the Bicol University and the local talents here. (RBManlangit, PIA Cam. Nor.)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has reiterated her directive to all agencies to speed up the completion of priority government programs and projects to ensure the timely and efficient delivery of public services to the people.

Last month, the President issued Executive Order (EO) 789 enhancing project performance, monitoring and evaluation system and reinforcing public-private partnership and collaboration in the monitoring of government projects.

EO 789 provides a “private sector representative” as the chair of the steering committee of the Project Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (Pro-Performance) System (PPS), and the head of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) as co-chair.

The EO also tasks all government television and radio networks to “allot air time for purposes of communicating the status of all projects, including the televised bidding of all departments.”

The PPS is an “integrated monitoring system established to facilitate, evaluate and advocate, and to strategically monitor the implementation of the President’s priority programs and projects.”

“As such, this (PPS) function shall form part of the mandate of the PMS,” EO 789 stated.

Under the President’s directive, the PPS will “provide independent and up-to-date constructive information on the status of project implementation based on physical development performance and quality, financial performance and timeliness; and identify areas, issues and concerns that need to be addressed by lead implementing agencies and/or project management offices.”

The President also tasked the PPS to “provide information as appropriate to the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) for the latter’s (implementing agencies’) action”; and to “ensure public awareness and participation through information campaigns and advocacy programs.”

“The PPS shall monitor the priority programs and projects of the President, such as but not limited to the projects committed (by the President) through the State of the Nation Addresses (SONA), major infrastructure projects, health and education programs, regardless of fund source.”

The PPS Steering Committee shall be composed of representatives from the business sector, civil society sector, academe, youth sector, mass media, religious sector, local government sector, international development organizations, and a national government advocacy group.

EO 789 was allotted a P10-million operational budget to be sourced from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to enable it and its “secretariat to effectively perform its mandate,” including the submission to the President through the PMS monthly project evaluation reports with photo-documentation.

To promote public awareness and generate stakeholder support for the President’s priority programs and projects, subject to pertinent laws, issuances and accounting and auditing rules and regulations, “the PPS-SC shall have the authority to require the implementing agencies to conduct and fund from their respective contingency funds the appropriate facilitative and advocacy campaigns and other related activities.” (PIA V Release)


MANILA — A top official of the United Nations’ Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers (UN-CMW) has commended the Philippines for being a model in best practices in migration policy.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde announced over DZRB OVER THE WEEKEND that UN-CMW chair Abdelhamid El-Jamri also called the Philippines “a source of inspiration for other countries because of its wealth of experience and dynamism in migration management and development.”

Remonde, who is concurrent acting executive secretary vice ES Eduardo Ermita who is attending annual session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (UN-CHR) in Geneva, added that El-Jamri commended the Philippines at the start of the consideration of the Philippines’ initial report on its compliance with the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ICPRMW) and members of their families at the 10th session of the UN-CMW in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN-CMW is commending the Philippines for “its clear commitment to the ICPRMW even as other committee members cited the Philippines for pursuing a rights-based approach to migration, for not treating workers as commodities and for taking broad approaches in assisting workers in the midst of the global economic crisis,” said Remonde.

The Press Secretary added that Prasad Kariyawasam, former permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York and former chairman of the UN-CMW, “also echoed the statement of El-Jamri, saying, “We hold you in that higher threshold -- the Philippines has served as a model for other migrant-sending countries.”

The Philippines was also lauded for its successful chairmanship of the second Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) last October in Manila where President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo made a pitch for the universal adoption of the ICRMW.

The President’s pitch is being reiterated by the Philippine delegation headed by Ermita in the ongoing Durban Review Conference in Geneva.

“We are now reaping adulation from the international community with our handling of the problems of our expatriate Filipino workers. These are pleasant to hear amidst the criticisms we are getting from the leftist groups -- that we are being recognized as a world leader in handling our overseas workers,” Remonde said. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed over the weekend the Department of Agriculture (DA) to take all necessary precautionary measures to prevent the deadly swine influenza (SI) from reaching the country.

The virus has spread in Mexico and the United States, and latest reports said the SI may have already reached New Zealand.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap reported that steps have already been taken to address the SI crisis from hitting the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a global advisory, warning against the spread of the virus.

In an interview over radio DZRB yesterday, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said that Yap has informed the President that he has mobilized the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to ensure that imported live animals entering the country are not carriers of the virus.

He added that the DA veterinarians have been instructed to deploy vaccines to strategic areas in the country and launch a massive information and education campaign among swine farmers and the general public as part of precautionary measures against the virus. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Press Secretary Cerge Remonde will be acting executive secretary for seven days following the departure Saturday morning of ES Eduardo Ermita for Geneva to attend a meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Remonde will also supervise the activities for the May 1 Labor Day celebration which will be highlighted by the holding of the biggest jobs fair at the Rizal Park by the Department of Labor and Employment with simultaneous job fairs in all provinces all over the country.

“In lieu of the traditional military and civic parades and the usual economic benefits being announced during Labor Day celebrations, we are focusing more on the job fairs since we have to address unemployment and creating jobs so that our country will be better able to overcome the current global financial crisis,” Remonde said.

As this developed, acting Executive Secretary Cerge Remonde urged the organizers of big rallies on Labor Day, May 1, to make sure that the rallies will be peaceful and orderly exercise in the democratic process.

“They should also ensure that these planned rallies will not be used by bad elements—terrorists---whose only objective is to sow terror and violence in society,” Remonde said in an interview over DZRB.

“These man-made disasters are the last things that we need especially during these times of crisis,” he stressed.

He said rallies are part of the democratic system which the Arroyo administration respects and upholds. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — In the face of uncertainties brought by the current global financial crisis, a lot of good things have been happening to our country contrary to the pessimism and criticisms of some, stressed Press Secretary and Acting Executive Secretary Cerge Remonde.

He said despite the zero growth projection made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), “we are still optimistic of the growth of our economy, albeit not as robust as we have been used to.”

The programs of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo continue to be our buffer in this era of global financial crisis, one of which is the micro small and medium enterprise (MSME) program of which I had the pleasure of being the Cabinet oversight official for the last two years, Remonde said in his opening statement at the Saturday radio forum of the Malacañang Press Corps over DZRB.

He said it is heartening to note that only recently US President Barrack Obama allotted $100 million for the micro finance growth fund for small businesses in the Western hemisphere as part of the broad measures to address the global recession.

“Micro and small businesses, especially in the Philippines, have been very efficient job generators. In the credit crunch, however, we could be the very first to be affected,” Remonde said.

He said lending to MSMEs amounted to P305 billion to 5.6 million microfinance clients all over the country since it was launched by the President in 2004. The program has created some 2.5 million jobs. From a five-year head-start, we had a three-fold edge in investments.

The other good news is the Philippines being chosen as the most popular destination in Asia at the last World Travel Fair held in Shanghai, which is a credit to Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano’s marketing skills that led to 74% monthly growth in visitor arrivals from China, he said.

He expressed hopes that the remarkable performance of the tourism industry will encourage the other sectors of society. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo embarks on a mission of peace and interfaith dialogue by going on a special working visit to Egypt on May 2 and a state visit to Syria on May 3 and 4.

Syria and Egypt are two of the most influential countries in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Arab League. In fact, the headquarters and leadership of the OIC are in these countries, according to Press Secretary and Acting Executive Secretary Cerge Remonde.

Egypt is considered one of the most effective and efficient peace brokers in the Islamic world, and the President’s visit there shows the importance she attaches to peace and development in Southern Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, Remonde added.

President Arroyo will leave for Cairo in Egypt on May 1, Labor Day, Remonde said.

On her first day (May 2) in Cairo, the President will hold a one-on-one meeting with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt; and hold meetings with the Filipino community in Egypt, and with Egyptian businessmen on possible investments in the Philippines.

This is the first time in 30 years that a Philippine president is visiting Egypt.

From Cairo, the President will proceed to Damascus in Syria for a state visit upon the invitation of the Syrian government.

Tentatively, she will hold bilateral meetings with President Bashar al-Assad and sign various partnership agreements.

She will also address the People’s Assembly in Syria, hold meetings with the Syrian business community, and attend a state dinner tendered by the Syrian president.

President Arroyo will also visit one of the biggest container terminals in the Middle East that is operated by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) before heading back to the Philippines on May 5. (PIA V Release)

Saturday, April 25, 2009


NAGA CITY – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced here on Monday (April 20) that the construction of the multi-million peso Libmanan-Cabusao irrigation project will start soon after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the project.

The President made the announcement during the one-on-one interview she had with Ms. Sonia Leaño at the University of Nueva Caceres here on Monday.

The President said that the bidding for the P700 million irrigation dam that will irrigate more than 1,183 hectares of rice land in the towns of Libmanan and Cabusao in the first district of Camarines Sur will be conducted next month.

She said aside from the irrigation dam some P300 million worth of distribution canals will be constructed bringing the total cost of the project to more than P1 billion.

The project is under the multi-billion Bicol River Basin Water Management Program covering the two provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur which includes the construction of roads, flood control structures and reforestation projects aside from the irrigation facilities.

She said that when completed the palay production in the province of Camarines Sur will surely rise bringing more income to our farmers.

President Arroyo graced the opening of the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) National Games held in this City. (EAdeLeon, PIA V)


NAGA CITY—President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who graced the formal opening of the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) National Games 2009 here, said that the government has lined-up tourism development projects in Bicol that will provide opportunities for employment to Bicolanos, who have lost their jobs locally and abroad in the wake of the global economic meltdown,.

In a one-on-one interview with Ms. Sonia Osorio Leano at the University of Nueva Caceres on April 20, the President said “with the development of Bicol region as a tourist destination, grassroots entrepreneurship, eco-tourism jobs will be available.”

The majestic Mayon Volcano, whale sharks, pristine and white fine sand beaches, caves, and other natural wonders, world-class extreme watersports are among Bicol’s leading tourist attraction.

“We are doing everything we can to support our workers during these challenging times and the Comprehensive Livelihood and Employment Program (CLEEP) is one of these programs,” the President said.

She pointed out that during the onset of the global crisis, the government directed all government agencies to allocate and utilize 1.5 percent of their operating expenses to hire workers under the CLEEP.

Since then, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the local government units are taking the lead in the implementation of the CLEEP that has benefited displaced worker and unemployed with already some very positive results

President Arroyo has also directed Cabinet officials to closely monitor the implementation of the government’s emergency employment program particularly in Region IV and Bicol to immediately provide employment to workers affected by the global economic slump. (MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY – As part of the observance for the 39th Earth Day celebration, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Bicol staged several special events to emphasize strong public involvement on environmental protection towards sustainable development.

True to its commitment to the Earth Day Green Generation Campaign – as a day of action and civic participation, to defend its core principle – the Bureau spearheaded a Recyclable Fair which highlighted the exhibition of recycled products made from waste materials displayed on April 21-25 at Landco Pacific Mall here.

The event was participated in by entrepreneurs coming from the different provinces of the region who will also showcase their eco-products out of disposed materials during the fair.

Dir. Gilbert Gonzales, EMB Bicol regional director, said “the Earth Day Recyclable Fair aims to promote environmental awareness and the significance of recycling practice by becoming more creative through making useful products out of trash materials.

“In this noble way, we start to educate people to create a community of responsible individuals towards caring of the environment,” he said.

The bureau, meanwhile, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Legazpi Central (Rotaract), also launched the Enviro-Warriors, an organization of enlisted volunteers, private citizens and other civic-minded individuals that will help DENR in the carrying out environmental projects and programs in the Bicol region.

“Its specific objectives are preparation and publication of environmental manifesto, raising the level of awareness of the public to their participatory role in the implementation of government programs on environment through volunteerism, and living up to the Filipino’s spirit of ‘Bayanihan’ in clean-up drive, tree planting, among others,” said Ma. Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez, president of Rotaract. (DENR-EMB V/PIA)


PILI, Camarines Sur — The CamSur Dragon Boat Team proved once again its world-caliber supremacy by bagging the championship trophies in the two events up for grabs in the Manila Ocean Park Race held last April 19.

The grand slam win was the second this year for the CamSur Team which is continually supported by Governor LRay Villafuerte since the time the provincial chief executive assumed the reins of the provincial government.

The province’s team also achieved a grand slam in the Dragon Boat Festival held in Olongapo City just last March 22 by capturing the gold medals for Men, Women and Mixed Teams.

In the Manila Ocean Park Dragon Boat race, the CamSur team won the championship in the Men’s Final by beating the Philippine Navy Team, which settled for the first runner up honors.

CamSur was a run away winner in the Mixed team beating the De La Salle University team (DLSU) by 2.94 seconds to romp home with the second championship in the Manila race.

The CamSur Team has been a consistent winner in the dragon boat race whether held in the waters of the Philippines or in other parts of the world.

Meanwhile, Governor Villafuerte has announced that the province is hosting the Dragon Boat Festival on May 8 to 10 to be held at the classy Lago Del Ray at the CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC). (SNieves, Cam. Sur Multi-media Educ. System)


Masbate Province – An official of David M. Consunji Holdings, Inc. (DMCI) announced the power company had decided to shelve the coal-fired power plant project in barangay Tugbo following the threats of successive protest rallies to those opposed to the project.

DMCI official in charge Nolasco Pasion said that the company has decided to replace its proposed coal operations with diesel–fed power plant, that has won acceptance among Masbateños,

The switch was announced immediately after the creation by the Masbate City government, led by Mayor Socrates M. Tuason, and the Catholic Church, headed by Bishop Joel Z. Baylon, of a task force to monitor the company’s coal operations.

The task force will check the potential carbon dioxide and mercury emissions from the ash byproducts of the coal plant.

Pasion told provincial government officials here that construction of diesel-fed plant on the same site in Tugbo is already in progress and that DMCI aims to start generating power by next June.

The DMCI official said the company will operate the diesel-fed plant for at least three to five after which it will resume the coal plant project.

He said DMCI Power, the DMCI subsidiary that is undertaking the power plant, will rework its commitment to provide coal-fired power to Masbate Electric Cooperative (MASELCO) to conform to diesel-fed power plant.

Energy officials and DMCI Power have claimed that a coal plant is the most viable source of additional power supply in Masbate because of the lack of sources or renewable energy.

MASELCO is depending on the National Power Corp.’s diesel-fed power plant that produces up to eight megawatts only, or less than the power need of Masbate mainland’s 14 towns and one city.

Citing recent studies that exposed the toxic emission from coal-fired power plants which are potential hazards to his marine life conservation program in the municipal waters of the city, the mayor questioned claims that the proposed coal plant is safe to human health and the environment. This triggered successive rallies by militant groups, branding the coal plant a toxic polluter and climate killer. (EADelgado, PIA Masbate)


LEGAZPI CITY— A joint investigating team composed of technical personnel from the Bicol regional offices of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has investigated the death of two persons in sitio Gintong Araw, barangay Panique in Aroroy, Masbate.

Media reports as well as complaints from the next of kin of the victims prompted the DENR bureaus to investigate the death of siblings Romely and Ronalyn Danao, whose mother claimed that the source of potable water has become polluted caused by the operations of the Filminera Resources Corporation (FRC).

The investigating team conducted water sampling at source as well as four other sources of potable water in barangays Capsay and Panique last March 19.

Personnel of the EMB and the DOH Bicol Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit Water analyzed the water samples and showed presence of E-coli bacteria.

Reports released last March 23 showed findings of the Aroroy municipal health office pointed out cardio respiratory arrest secondary to acute gastroenteritis with severe dehydration caused the death of the siblings.

Dr. Marilou A. Hernandez, Arorory municipal health officer, certified that the Danao sisters died last February 24, 2009 of severe dehydration secondary to diarrhea caused by drinking water contaminated with Fecal Coli form or E-Coli.

Dr. William Ecalnir of the Aroroy District Hospital, who was also interviewed by the investigating team, said the bacteria contaminated the water source and poor hygiene usually caused gastroenteritis, parasitism, infectious diarrhea leading to loose bowel movement and dehydration.

Ecalnir also said diarrhea and gastroenteritis are the most common illnesses attended to and treated in the district hospital.

Reports of the investigating team noted that the mother of the victims related her deceased children had diarrhea and were vomiting for almost three days after drinking water from the shallow well and were not given immediate medical treatment due to financial difficulties of the family.

Romelyn and Ronalyn’s death could have been avoided if they were immediately brought to the hospital for treatment, stated the report. (DENR-MGB V/PIA)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressed elation over the accolade heaped on the Philippines as the most popular and well-liked travel destination in Asia in this year’s World Travel Fair held in Shanghai, China.

The citation for the Philippines was made after a public vote and an evaluation process by professional jurors from the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration and the VNU Exhibitors Europe.

“In spite of the global financial crisis, things continue going our way,” the President said as she cited some very encouraging developments that have raised the Filipinos’ optimism about the future of the country.

These recent developments, she said, include the continued decline in self-rated poverty and the downward trend in poverty incidence as attested by the latest SWS surveys; the gains in the fight against graft and corruption as shown by the results of the PERC surveys which brought the Philippines from number one to number six; the stable outlook for the Philippine economy as expressed by Moody’s; and the hopeful business community outlook as evaluated by the well-respected Grant Thornton consulting firm.

“This unprecedented accolade given by the WTF is another special feather in our cap that places us over and above other tourism sites in the region, perhaps in the rest of the world,” the President said.

President Arroyo noted that the country’s competitive tour pricing, remarkable progress in transportation and tourism facilities, and the Filipinos’ innate friendliness and hospitality are some of the major factors that made the Philippines a most desired tourist destination and a haven for tourism investment.

“It is payback time for our efforts at creating a most inviting tourism industry and a resilient economy,” she added.

The Philippines is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in China’s outbound travel industry, recording a 74-percent month-on-month growth rate in visa issuances for February this year.

Chinese travelers rank the country’s beaches and heritage sites high, as proven by the various recognitions they have awarded to the Philippines’ tourist spots. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malacañang disputed the forecast of zero growth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) saying the projection is negated by current realities like increased remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in February, more job deployments overseas and adjustments in the budgetary deficit to pump prime the economy.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Golez said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) based its projections on assumptions of a zero growth on a) remittances by overseas Filipino workers declining by 7.5 percent; b) exports dropping by 20 percent and c) imports would drop by 18 percent.

He said these projections are “well below the estimates of a flat growth because February numbers showed a 4.9 percent growth in OFW remittances, so, that alone would negate what the IMF projected.”

Second, there is a continuing deployment of OFWs, which means that OFW remittances will further increase, he said.

Golez said the original budgetary deficit target of P177 billion was revised upward to P199 billion and this will contribute largely to stimulate the economy. This means, he explained, that the government foresees a favorable growth situation.

Additionally every campaign season perks up the economy and “we are headed for a campaign season.”

The economic resiliency package (ERP) being implemented by the government to help the country weather the current global economic crisis has been noticed by the IMF itself when it said that the “Philippines is in a good position to weather the storm due to its strong fiscal track record.” “So in the middle of a crisis we are in a better position,” Golez said.

The IMF’s projection is way below the World Bank projection of 1.9 percent growth and the Asian Development Bank’s 2.5 percent, Golez said. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo batted for an Asian Economic Community (AEC) to bolster the region’s economy, security and prosperity amid the global financial crisis.

In her address Thursday (April 23) before the 28th general assembly of the Asian and Oceanian Stock Exchanges Federation (AOSEF) at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort in Cebu, the President said that the Asian region is “best suited to weather the global crisis and come out the strongest compared with other regions.”

The AOSEF is holding a four-day general assembly at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort here.

In her speech, the President welcomed the chairmen and presidents of 17 stock exchanges in the region as she noted that the general assembly now being held in the country is a “fitting homecoming for the federation which was organized in the Philippines in 1990 in order to promote closer ties among the stock exchanges in the East Asian and Oceanian region.”

“It is a good idea that we should put together the economic and financial activities of Asia and Oceania,” the President stressed.

“In fact, I have been advocating that we should push for an Asian Economic Community including the Middle East, Central and South and East Asia, Russian and Oceania to maximize growth and trade and investments and financial stability in the Asian region,” she said.

The President noted that this is the first time in its history that the AOSEF is welcomed by the head of state of the nation hosting a “very important general assembly.”

“Welcome to the Philippines and I understand that it is the first time that a head of state welcomes you to a conference so I am very glad that we showed you how important the capital market is to our country and to the region,” the President told the leaders of the stock exchanges in the region.

Attending the four-day general assembly are the Australian Securities Exchange, Tokyo Stock Exchange Group, Korea Exchange, Taiwan Stock Exchange, Indonesia Stock Exchange, Bursa Malaysia, The Stock Exchange of Thailand, Shanghai Stock Exchange;

Mongolian Stock Exchange, Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, Shenzen Stock Exchange, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, National Stock Exchange of India, Bombay Stock Exchange, Osaka Securities Exchange, Taiwan Stock Exchange Corporation and the Bursa Malaysia Berhad.

“It is not a question of whether a larger fund of a regional body is necessary. The question is, rather, will we be stronger with a more united region?

“And the answer should be: ‘An Asian community including Oceania will strengthen our regional economy, our security, and our prosperity.”

The President was welcomed to the AOSEF general assembly by Goban Arasu, chairman of the AOSEF Working Committee and head of Global Markets and Strategy of Bursa Malaysia, together with the officers of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), namely PSE chair Jose Vitug and PSE president and chief operating officer Francisco Ed Lim.

The PSE is hosting this year’s general assembly.

The AOSEF said the General Assembly is its “supreme decision-making body.” (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Estafadores and professional squatters are back from the grave.
Housing authorities warned the public Thursday (April 23) about groups selling properties with fake titles.

Vice President and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Noli De Castro clarified that documents such as Titulo de Proprieda (4136) or Original Certificate of Title (OCT) 01-4 are no longer used in land registration.

The Vice President revealed that some of these groups are requiring their target victims to join associations before they can buy properties under prices lower than current market values.

Reports say the lands being offered by land scam syndicates are located in Metro Manila and surrounding areas. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malacanang accepted the Court of Appeals ruling that overturned a lower court's decision convicting a US marine for raping a woman in Subic Bay Freeport in 2005.
“We will respect its verdict,” said Press Secretary Cerge Remonde.

Associate Justice Monina Arevalo- Zena of the Special 11th Division ordered Thursday the immediate release of US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith after the CA found no evidence to prove that he used force, threat and intimidation to force himself into the victim, Suzette Nicolas, also known as Nicole.

“What we see was the spontaneous , unplanned romantic episode with both parties carried away by their passions and stirred up by the urgency of the moment caused probably by alcoholic drinks, " the CA ruling said in a document that is 71 pages long.

In March 22, Nicole has withdrawn her complaint because she had doubts whether the rape took place or not.

She left for the Unites States while Smith is under custody of the US Embassy in Manila. (PIA V Release)

Thursday, April 23, 2009


NAGA CITY – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced here Monday (April 20) that the Philippine National Railways (PNR) is expected to resume train travel between Manila and Bicol region before the end of the year.

The President came to grace the formal opening of the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) National Games of 2009.

The President said she was informed by PNR General Manager Manuel Andal that the rehabilitation of the Manila-Bicol-PNR line would be completed before the end of 2009 paving the resumption of the train service between the two points.

She added that PNR has already started fast-tracking the repair and upgrading of stations of the southbound train in March while the rehabilitation of the railroad tracks would start by May.

Last month, Andal stated that some P500 million had already been released to the PNR out of the P1.8 billion budget for the repair works of the Tagkawayan-Bicol stretch.

He said that once the ongoing rehabilitation works of the rail tracks from Tagkawayan, Quezon to Guinobatan, Albay have been completed, a commuter train will start running to provide fast, convenient, and cheaper transport service to residents of the railroad towns in the provinces of Quezon, Camarines Sur and Albay.

PNR totally stopped its Manila-Bicol-Manila service for more than two years due to heavy damage wrought by super typhoons "Milenyo" and "Reming" to substantial portions of its tracks starting from Calamba City in Laguna up to Legazpi City in Albay.

The President further stressed that the Arroyo administration is committed to modernize infrastructure to spur economic development in the countryside.

The restoration, rehabilitation and modernization of the existing lines of the PNR is envisioned to be the key to the development of Central and Southern Luzon as it is expected to provide effective and efficient means of transportation to and from Metro Manila and the provinces in Northern and Southern Luzon.

When completed, the railway rehabilitation project will lead to the resumption of the long-distance train services between Metro Manila and the Bicol Region up to Matnog in Sorsogon. The line will eventually link Luzon to the Strong Republic Nautical Highway System.

She hinted reviving the Bicol train would help boost the economy as it would bring freight from Bicol to Manila and vice versa and the rehabilitation of the railway line would benefit some 20,000 passengers daily.

“The movement of more passengers and commodities by rail will further strengthen the economic ties of Manila to the production centers of the South. The economy and people of Bicol will surely benefit from this very positive development,” she added.

“By the time of the Peñafrancia fiesta on September, this year, commuter train travel between Iriga City, Camarines Sur and Tagkawayan, Quezon will already be in place,” the President said. (MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional office here reported yesterday that it has initially hired a total of 3,120 new workers since the start of the implementation of the P2.9 billion pump-priming projects in the six provinces of Bicol and maintenance of national highways as part of the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) in support of the Economic Resiliency Program (ERP) of the government.

Eng’r. Orlando Roces, DPWH Bicol regional director, said that as of April 17, 2009, some 1,769 were employed by contractors in the job site.

“As each project implementation progresses, more skilled and non-skilled workers will be hired,” he added.

He said that 1,287 of the total workers were employed in the maintenance of national roads while 64 youths, age ranging 18-25, were hired under the Youth In Infrastructure Development (YID) as part of the Kabataan 2000 program of the government.

Roces said that a total 87 projects are currently being implemented under the P2.9 billion pump-priming projects which include the construction of roads, bridges, flood control structures and farm to market roads.

He said that DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane has directed all regional and district offices of DPWH to fast track the implementation of these projects and take advantage of the summer months to complete the projects as scheduled. (EAdeLeon, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY — PhilHealth regional office here announced that the revised in-patient benefit schedule has since in effect April 5, this year, pursuant to PhilHealth Board Resolution No. 1212s2009 as stated in the PhilHealth Circular No. 09 s-2009.

PhilHealth regional director Orlando Iñigo, Jr. said all accredited institutional and professional health care providers, members of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), PhilHealth regional offices and all others concerned were instructed to implement the revised benefit schedule subject to the following general rules for hospital reimbursement:

1) Primary (Level 1) hospitals shall be reimbursed for primary illness classified as case types A and B;

2) Dialysis, chemotherapy and radiotherapy done in primary hospitals shall not be compensated. However, procedures with RBU above 30 may only be reimbursed if considered as emergency;

3) Secondary (Level 2) hospitals shall be reimbursed for clinical conditions classified as case A, B and C;

4) Only Tertiary (Levels 3 & 4) hospitals shall be reimbursed the maximum amount specified in case type D;

5) All claims with primary conditions classified as case type D shall require submission of PhilHealth Claim Form 3 or Clinical Abstract for proper evaluation regardless of hospital category;

6) Benefits for drugs and medicines, supplies and laboratories shall be subject to the limits covered by the rule on single period of confinement for the same illness. Availment of benefits for the same illness or condition which is not separated from each other by more than 90 days will not be provided with a new benefit. Only the remaining benefits from the previous confinement/s may be availed for succeeding confinements due to the same illness;

7) all claims for drugs and medicines, supplies and necessary laboratory procedures supported by official receipts dated 30 days prior to admission may be reimbursed for hemodialysis, chemotherapy and other elective surgeries.

Iñigo further elaborated that the revised benefit packages include the increase in Room and Board benefit, Drugs and Medicines, Supplies and Radiology, Laboratory & Ancillary Procedures, Operating Room Fee, Professional Fee, which includes the Surgeons and Anesthesiologists Fee depending on the hospital category, type of illness and patient’s length of stay. (PhilHealth V/PIA)


SORSOGON Province — Aquing Bicolnon, a multi-sectoral environment advocates here, is calling for greater efforts necessary in safeguarding incessantly our natural resources despite the collective efforts of the government and other stakeholders in preserving and protecting the environment.

Revor J. Lasay, president of the Aquing Bicolnon, stressed that the fight against environmental abuse and exploitation is still far from over, thus the “My Tree, My Life” project has been conceptualized as an innovative approach to sustain the environment and natural resources through reforestation by harnessing children and the youth while generating livelihood opportunities.

It can be recalled that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo conveyed her appreciation and commended the Aquing Bicolnon in its effort to help in mitigating the massive threats of global warming to the environment.

The President hinted that with Aquing Bicolnon spearheading a year-round environment advocacy and training programs that principally involve the youth, it would make a direct and immediate impact not only on the global environment but more so, on the lives of the Bicolanos and the rest of the Filipinos as well.

Part of the “My Tree, My Life: A Reforestation and Livelihood” Project, is a three-day training program on April 27-30, 2009 at the Sorsogon State College where participants will be given an orientation on the project, training related to understanding the environment as well as tree planting activities.

Topics for discussion include Forest/Upland/Urban Ecosystem; Coastal, Marines, Fresh and Water Ecosystem; Environment Leadership; Para-Legal on Apprehension and Prosecution of Violation of Environmental Laws; Community Organizing; Leadership Team Building; Filipinism/Nationalism/Patriotism; and Solid Waste Management.

Revor J. Lasay, President of Aquing Bicolnon bared that through this project, the people, especially the youths are encouraged to invest and care for the environment. “Entrusting them the responsibility as a proof is a “Certificate of Ownership” for every tree that they have planted, hence, it will surely restore their pride, patriotism, dignity and productivity as citizens.

The project has also gained overwhelming support from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for according to Secretary Lito Atienza, this will not only promote the DENR-tested Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) module, but also it will give the Bicolanos an opportunity to showcase unity and civic spirit as tools for sustainable development and as an investment as well, in the region’s youths as future leaders.

The Aquing Bicolnon is a group of leaders and organizations of farmers, fishermen, urban poor, formal and informal workers, transport, women, senior citizens, youth and students including cooperatives in the Bicol region that has a primary goal of making every member of the society specifically the youth, a potent instrument towards sustainable development and a safe generation ahead. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


LEGAZPI CITY— The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol regional office here leads today the celebration of “Earth Day” aimed at raising awareness and improving efforts to heal our planet.

Regional executive director Joselin Marcus Fragada said that every one should become more conscious of his impact to the environment and what he or she can do to heal our planet Earth

This year’s national celebration is anchored on the theme “Tubig at Lupa Buhayin, Hangin Linisin, Batas Tuparin.”

Fragada said that the celebration of “Earth Day” this year focuses on informing and educating the people on the importance of fresh water and top soil and the urgency to conserve them; cleaning-up the air of greenhouse gases to mitigate global warming and climate change, and, the need for the public to strictly comply with environmental laws to contain environmental degradation.

Meanwhile, DENR Environment Management Bureau (EMB) regional director Gilbert Gonzales related that government entities, academic institutions, private companies and other sectors are encouraged to put up streamers highlighting the theme for this year’s Earth Day.

“Information and education activities will be conducted in several radio/TV programs all over the Bicol region to gain massive support and cooperation of the people towards this environmental advocacy,” Gonzales said.

On April 21-25, the Earth Day Recyclable Fair which showcases recycling processes and recyclable products is being held at the Landco Pacific Mall here to encourage the community to recycle wastes as part of environmental conservation and entrepreneurial venture

The Enviro-Warriors was launched last April 21, also at the Pacific Mall, wherein non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) committed to support and assist in the government’s campaign to conserve, rehabilitate and protect the local ecosystem.

In a related report, DENR Secretary Lito Atienza led this morning the celebration of “Earth Day” at SM Mall of Asia and delivered the State of the Philippine Environment Address.

“The annual celebration of Earth Day is a good opportunity to make a report to the people on current situation of our local environment, including the resources therein. At the same time, the report will serve as guide in improving our efforts to make the Philippines a more livable place for the next generation,” Atienza said.

Atienza noted the growing environmental activitism in the country, adding there is more room to make every one more conscious of his impact to the environment and what he or she can do to heal our planet Earth.

He asserted that one way to contribute to the healing of the environment is for the government to religiously enforce the laws, and for people to comply with the laws.

The celebration of the Earth Day started in the United States 39 years ago, when Senator Nelson Gaylor called on the people to protest the degradation of the environment. (ASAraya, DENR V/PIA)


SORSOGON Province — Shellfish ban remain hoisted in Sorsogon Bay with still high concentration of red tide organism, according the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

BFAR has recently issued Shellfish Bulletin No. 08, dated April 15, series of 2009, that included anew Sorsogon Bay and Juag Lagoon in Matnog town, this province, among the bodies of water where the shellfish ban is imposed.

BFAR Bicol regional director Dennis Del Socorro said the red tide, caused by increased concentration of microorganism known as dinoflagellates, continues to bloom and multiply in the waters of Sorsogon Bay.

“Pollutants from several water tributaries flowing through the bay and domestic wastes from the coastlines surrounding it are already piling up,” he noted.

He said that as long as the water in the bay is polluted, the red tide will continue to infest Sorsogon bay and we can not determine when it will stop.

Business for the shellfish growers and traders remain bleak as the shellfish ban in Sorsogon Bay has remained for more than two years now causing a big loss to the shellfish industry, the shellfish industry, particularly the production of ”tahong” (green mussels) that are cultured or naturally grown here.

Sorsogon City and five other towns, with 61 out of 82 are coastal barangays within the bay area, surround the bay.

With shellfish ban still imposed in Sorsogon Bay, the BFAR advised that all shellfish, including "alamang," (tiny shrimp) are banned and not safe for human consumption.

It further advised that fish, squid, shrimp and crab are safe for human consumption in the areas identified where the red tide reaches dangerous level, provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking. (MALoterte, PIA V)


MANILA — Sport bodies representing major stakeholders in Philippine sports reaffirmed Monday (April 20) their support for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s directive for an integrated sports development program that would bolster the country’s chances to win an Olympic gold medal that has eluded the Philippines.

Gonzalo Duque, national chairman of the Private Schools Athletic Associations (PRISAA), affirmed the support of his group for the President’s directive during the opening of the PRISAA Games 2009 in Naga City.

The President was the guest of honor at opening ceremonies of the PRISAA Games at the University of Nueva Caceres (UNC) Sports Palace.

Last March, four leaders of major Philippine sports stakeholders, namely, Harry Angping, chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC); Emmanuel Angeles, chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHE); Lauro Tacbas, head of the State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA), and Duque signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) binding their respective agencies to work together in an effort to “attain quality sports development through cooperation between stakeholders.”

“May I inform our Madam President…that through this MOA, next year or starting next year we will implement your directive to have an integrated national sports development program so that we can produce gold medalists in the Olympics,” Duque said.

Under the MOA, a technical working committee will be created to study the possibility of holding a combined PRISAA and SCUAA tournament as part of efforts to boost the competitiveness of Filipino athletes and their drive to win.

The MOA also aims to establish the Philippine Sports Academy, similar to Philippine Sports Institute launched by William "Butch" Ramirez during his term as PSC head.

The sports leaders are also hoping to forge cooperation and eventually enter into agreements with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) on sports development programs.

The Philippines has yet to win a gold medal in the Olympics since it joined the prestigious world games in 1924.

The Olympic medals that the country has won so far were two silvers, courtesy of boxers Anthony Villanueva in the 1964 Tokyo Games, and Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Games. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — More Filipinos feel they are better off now than they were three months ago despite the global economic meltdown as shown by the latest results of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey on self-rated poverty.

In a media briefing this afternoon in Malacanang, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the SWS survey conducted in February showed a decline in self-rated poverty from 52 percent in December 2008 to 47 percent in February this year.

The SWS survey also showed that self-rated food poverty went down from 42 percent in the December 2008 survey to 36 percent in February 2009.

Remonde said the survey results clearly showed that the Arroyo administration’s anti-poverty programs to soften the impact of the global crisis, particularly on the poor, are working and right on target.

The survey was conducted last February involving 1,200 adult respondents nationwide. The respondents were asked to rate if their families were poor, “on the line,” or not poor.

Remonde congratulated the government agencies primarily responsible for the implementation of the government’s anti-poverty programs that include the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and the Department of Health (DOH). (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed Cabinet officials to strictly monitor the implementation of the government’s emergency employment program particularly in Region IV and Bicol to immediately provide employment to Filipino workers affected by the global economic slump.

In a media briefing in Malacanang, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde and Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the job monitoring was focused particularly on Regions IV-A and IV-B and the Bicol region which have been affected by a high rate of job displacements amid the global economic crisis.

Economic zones in Laguna and Cavite employ thousands of Filipino workers.

“In two weeks time, the Cabinet officials will be monitoring the implementation of all pending projects especially the CLEEP or the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program of government,” Bello said.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has instructed all government departments to set aside 1.5 percent of their monthly operating expenses (MOE) to fund livelihood and employment projects under CLEEP.

Remonde said the 1.5 percent savings to be generated would reach a total of P7 billion a year, enough to finance 180,000 emergency employment for local workers.

Bello said National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Domingo Panganiban has reported that the implementation of CLEEP has generated emergency employment for 75,000 workers.

Bello added that job prospects are getting brighter, citing a report of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that more than 12,000 of the 30,000 workers displaced as a result of the global financial meltdown have already been rehired.

Bello said more workers will find employment as the Department of Public Worlks and Highways (DPWH) has been directed to create an additional 500,000 jobs to help the poor and spur the economy in light of the persisting global economic crisis. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the employment picture is now improving throughout the country with the 300 jobs being generated daily by the government’s Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP).

The National Anti-Poverty Commission alone has brought emergency employment to 75,000 people during the first three months of 2009, added Remonde in a press conference in Malacanang today (April 21).

This is augmented by the mandatory 500,000 jobs to be generated by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) from its roads and infrastructure projects, and the government-wide mandatory 1.5-percent budgetary savings on operations and maintenance expenditures to raise P7 billion to fund 180,000 jobs in the next six months, Remonde said.

Remonde added that Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito Roque had reported that of the 30,000-plus displaced workers in the export-oriented industries affected by the global financial crisis, some 12,000 workers have already been re-hired by their employers locally.

Meanwhile, the Arroyo administration is focusing its job creation activities in Regions 4-A, 4-B and the Bicol region where the number of unemployed has risen as a result of lay-offs from export-dependent industries that had to close shop earlier because of the global economic crisis.

This was reported in the same presscon by Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III who said “the primary consideration is that unemployment worsened (because of layoffs from export-oriented industries) in Cavite, Laguna and the Bicol region."

Bello added that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had instructed the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to gather fresher updates on the GRIM (or global recession improvement monitoring) report.

In lieu of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting, Vice President Noli de Castro and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita met with senior officials of government to get an update on their implementation of the economic resiliency program (ERP) and the CLEEP, said Bello. (PIA V Release)