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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

PLEDGE OF COMMITMENT – Tabaco City Mayor Cielo Krisel Lagman-Luistro (upper photo) leads other municipal mayors, representative of government agencies, non-government organizations, pledge to commit to uphold the highest ideals of voluntary blood donation the very essence of “Bayanihan Spirit” through volunteerism in blood donation, during the 1st Regional Dugong Bicol awarding ceremony, held at The Concourse, Legazpi City last July 28. (Alex Cal/PIA-V)

LEGAZPI CITY — The 9th State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Gloria-Arroyo today (July 27) drew mixed reactions from Albayanos but most of them praised her speech which showed her determination to achieve even more before she ends her term next year.

“Despite the short period of time left in her term, it seems that President Arroyo is determined to achieve her goals on education, environment and peace and order situation,” Elsie Atienza, a migrant worker from the province of Albay, said.

After watching the SONA, Atienza hailed President Arroyo for her commitment and determination to overcome all hindrances being met by her administration.

She said the message of President Arroyo to her critics is very clear which is everyone should work for the common good.

“I also agree that one punch is not enough to knock down all the problems in the country,” she said.

Punong barangay Jonathan Lorbes of Barangay 7, this city, said the President has satisfactorily delivered on her promises, but more efforts should be exerted in the areas of education and poverty reduction. He said there is a need for the Executive branch and Congress to work hard in order to intensify hunger mitigation in the country.

Angie Toledo, 45, married and a news paper vendor in this city, said that strict enforcement of law is necessary to stop atrocities in Mindanao areas. “It must be stopped once and for all if the President is determined to make a difference before she steps down in 2010.”

“Dakol man siyang naginibuhan, arog kan mga tabang niya sa Albay pagkatapos kan bagyong Reming, napadali an recovery program ta digdi (She contributed a lot to the province of Albay specially after the devastation brought by typhoon Reming),” Toledo also said.

“We hope that she can make it even in a short period of time,” she added.
On the other hand, Danilo Cabidog, an employee of a non-government organization working for people living with HIV, credited the President for arresting the increase in prices of basic commodities and for keeping the economy afloat even amidst the global financial turmoil. (MDRama, PNA/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — Bicol region’s economy posted a moderate 4.3 per cent growth in 2008, with the industry sector as the strongest performer with a 7.5 per cent expansion.

Engr. Gil Arce, National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Bicol regional head, averred the region was one among five regions of the country recording growths higher than the national average.

In a press conference held recently, the Arce bared that the service sector, which held the biggest share in the region’s output at 43.1 per cent, grew at a decelerated rate of 4.2 per cent from 6.1 pr cent in 2007.

“Except for government services showing improvement to 5.7 per cent from 3.5 per cent in 2007, growth in all sub-sectors slowed down,” he said.

He said that growth in the transportation, communication and storage slipped to 4.3 per cent from 5.7 in 2007 due to the slowdown in the communication sector.

He added that the trade sector decelerated from a 5.5 per cent growth in the previous year to 2.7 per cent in 2008. On the other hand, the healthy performance of financial services in the previous years was not sustained in 2008 with the 9.8 percentage point reduction in growth rate from 15.5 per cent in 2007 to 5.7 per cent in 2008.

He also stated performance of the ownership of dwelling and real estate sub-sector slightly slowed down from 3.7 per cent to 3.0 per cent. Private services, on the other hand grew at a much slower rate of 5.9 per cent from 9.8 per cent in 2007.

“The contraction in private education services and the sluggish performance of personal services pulled down overall sub-sector performance,” he noted.

Arce, meanwhile, has attributed the healthy performance of the industry sector to the hefty 16.7 per cent growth in electricity and water, a complete turn around from the 10.4 per cent slump in 2007, noting that the completion of rehabilitation works on the region’s power generating plants restored the region’s power generating capacity.

NSCB data show the performance of mining and quarrying sector, following three years of continued growth, faltered posting a negative 1.5 growth on account of decreased gold output.

They also illustrate that construction sector managed to grow by 6.9 per cent, down from a fast 65.5 per cent expansion in 2007.

The NSCB regional chief explained that the growth was largely attributed to the spill over of typhoon rehabilitation works and increased private construction activities.

He observed further that the manufacturing sector, on the other hand, has remained steady growing by 4.6 per cent, slightly faster than the 4.4 per cent growth recorded the previous year.

“The deceleration in food manufacturers was compensated by the increased output in the beverage industries resulting in the faster growth,” he said.

The improved performance of Industry in 2008 further increased the sector’s share to the total regional economy from 25.2 per cent in 2007 to 25.9 per cent in 2008.

Agriculture, fishery and forestry’s performance slightly slowed down from 2.3 per cent in 2007 to 2.0 per cent growth in 2008.

“The continued slump in the livestock and poultry industry pulled down over all industry growth, adding that sluggish growth in the output of cereal grains added to decelerated growth of the sector. AFF comprised 31 per cent of the regional economy,” he noted.

Arce stressed that the per capita GRDP improved by 2.3 per cent from P7,058 in 2007 to P7,222 in 2008, however, is still the third lowest among that regions in the country. (MALoterte, PIA V)


NAGA CITY — At least 38 barangays across the Bicol region will soon benefit from the recent tools for planning and development as proven effective and efficient by majority of well-developed and rich cities and municipalities in the country.

Asec Tomasito Monzon, Office of the Presidential Assistant for Bicol chief, said his office and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) have already set a series of Participatory Rapid Needs Assessment (PRNA) in seven (7) municipalities in the region to determine its needed priority projects.

Among the municipalities included in the targeted PRNA activities starting today (July 27) until tomorrow are Calabanga, Bato, Bula, Iriga, Del Gallego, Lupi and Sipocot, all in Camarines Sur province.

From these municipalities, 38 barangays are included among the prospective beneficiaries of Kalayaan Barangay Project (KBP) of the Arroyo administration to the PRNA.

Covered barangays include Harobay in Calabanga; Sta. Rita, Tablon, San Pablo in Del Gallego; Polantuna, Alanao, Belwag, sitio Bansuray, Buenasuerte, Lourdes, Napolidan, San Rafael, Casay, Del Carmen, Mangcawayan, San Rafael Norte, San Ramon, Tible in Lupi; Salvacion, Gabi, Lubigan Sur, sitio Tigman, Tible, Binahian, Bagong Sirang, Anib, Cotmo in Sipocot; Mangga, Lobong, Maniit, Sooc, Cotmon, Lubigan Sur, Cristo Rey, Del Rosario in Bato; Paslong in Bula; and Niño Jesus in Iriga City.

Monzon said that PRNA is aimed to determine the essential infrastructure and livelihood development in the said barangays in effort to improve way of living of the residents in the area.

He explained that in the assessment process, public participation in development planning is encourage, thus the whims of one or two persons or groups were avoided.

“Dito lahat ay nakukunsulta at nakakapagbigay ng panig nila sa kung anong proyekto ang kailangan ng barangay,” he said.

KBP, on the other hand, is a poverty reduction project of the Arroyo administration that focused on the less developed communities in the country.

“In Bicol alone, KBP were able to carry out a total of 117 projects including construction of school buildings and health facilities, construction or improvement of water systems, farm to market roads, electricity, and livelihood projects,” he said..

Monzon, who also chairs the Regional KALAHI Convergence Group, said that community driven development strategies are the most appropriate procedures that should be adopted, not only by local governments but also by regional line agencies, because through the process it empowers the communities and fosters not only ownership of the projects but also sharing of responsibilities in the maintenance and sustainability of the projects.

Earlier, OPAB piloted PRNA activities in 33 barangays in Libmanan town last May 5-15, 2009. (MBQuiñones, OPAB/PIA)


NAGA CITY — In an effort to completely re-activate the Local Poverty Action Teams (LPRAT) in the Bicol region, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Bicol (OPAB) has spearheaded a series of consultation-dialogues, this time with the Camarines Norte and Albay provincial teams.

OPAB has just finished the first interfacing last July 24 in Camarines Norte, and set the other one on July 31 in Albay.

Participants in the said consultation-dialogues are the provincial chief executives and team leaders of LPRAT of each municipality and cluster heads of the Regional KALAHI Convergence Group (RKCG).

Monzon said that a consultation-dialogue is essential in formally and effectively resolving issues and concerns that negatively affect the organization and full operation of the LPRATs.

LPRAT is a team of executives from the provincial and national government agencies and/or instrumentalities in a locality that plans and executes convergent and synchronized local anti-poverty strategies.

“Such were the objectives of the consultation-dialogue that OPAB, along with the RKCG, held for the past few months. We want to re-activate and strengthen the provincial LPRATs across Bicol for them to conceptualize and implement consolidated poverty reduction plans with developmental catalytic effects to their provinces,” he said.

To date, two consultation-dialogues had been conducted in Masbate and Sorsogon provinces last April 14 and June 11, respectively. (MBQuiñones, OPAB/PIA)


CAMARINES NORTE Province — Three farm to market roads and eight other infrastructure projects were completed in this province, as promised in the previous State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Gloria Maapagal Arroyo.

Engr. Williard Atutubo, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) district office chief here, said that the farm to market road projects were implemented under the Department of Agriculture (DA) agricultural development and food security thrusts.

Atutubo said that these projects include the farm to market roads in barangays Catandunganon, Mercedez town and San Nicolas, Talisay town, which cost P5 million each project.

He added that the government allotted a total of P1 million for the gravelling and installation of reinforced concrete pipe culvert or RCPC in barangay Maot, Labo town.

He said that the farm to market road projects will help the farmers in bringing their products to the market in less travel time

It can be recalled that eight other infrastructure projects were completed during the last quarter of 2008 until January this year, including the Bayabas bridge in Labo; repair and rehabilitation of Daang Maharlika in Itomang section of Talisay town, Tabugon section of Sta. Elena, and Labo town, scoured embankment in barangay Paraiso, Sta. Elena, and asphalt overlay in Tuaca section of Basud, slope protection in Talagpucao section of Capalonga; and concreting of Gahonon road in Daet. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


CATANDUANES Province — Kristine Arcilla Ramos, a 2009 BS in Nursing graduate of the Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC), has placed 10th in the June 2009 Nurse Licensure Examination (NLE) given by the Professionals Regulation Commission (PRC) with a rating of 84.60%.

Ramos who earned her BSN degree as cum laude in March 2009, is the 5th graduate of the CSC who made it into the circle of board topnotchers in the licensure examination for nurses.

Her achievement, including that of her schoolmates who passed the NLE, according to a CSC College of Health Sciences official, is a timely vindication to the external attempts to ruin the reputation of the college.

The 20-year old topnotcher is the daughter of Ramon A. Ramos Sr. and Beata Ramos of San Jose, Oco, Viga town, this province. She finished her elementary education at San Jose Elementary School and her secondary education at San Jose National High School, also in Viga.

It is also a double victory for the CSC College of Health Sciences (formerly College of Nursing) who was proclaimed by the Professionals Regulation Commission as one of the best performing nursing schools nationwide in the recent NLE.

Overall, CSC is ranked 11 in the list of Best Performing Schools in the Philippines.
There were around 178 nursing schools in the country evaluated by PRC.

It can be recalled the the CSC ranked first in Bicol in the highest number of passers, first take category in the November 2008 NLE.

Ramos is the 5th CSC nursing graduate who made it in the roster of NLE topnotchers. She now joins the league of Rebecca A. Sarmiento, 7th Place, 1979 NLE; Oscar Chancoco, 1990 NLE; Therese Pia Noceda, 19th Place, 1994 NLE and Richard Evangelista, 7th Place, 1997 NLE.

The CSC nursing programs is likewise consistently producing above national passing percentage. Through the years, it has sustained its groundwork as one of the best nursing schools in the country, with its graduates occupying strategic positions and dispensing significant roles in the medical field in the country and around the world. A big number of its alumni are now the moving forces in the global health care industry. (GSRubio, CSC/PIA)

“State of our Nation is a Strong Economy”--- PGMA

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reported to the nation that the country’s economy is strong despite the global economic slump.

In her 42-minute Ninth State-of- the- Nation Address (SONA) delivered this afternoon before the joint 3rd Regular Session of the 14th Congress, the President said that the strong economic fundamentals were the result of the bold fiscal and economic reforms she introduced when she took over in 2001.

“The state of our nation is a strong economy. Good news for our people, bad news for our critics,” the President said, adding that: “We have a strong economy in a strong fiscal position to withstand global shocks….”

The result of these reforms were an increase in national output and productivity as real gross domestic product (GDP) grew from a low of 1.8 percent in 2001 to a 31-year high of 7.1 percent in 2007, and a still positive GDPO growth at 3.8 percent in 2008.

The President noted that the Philippines was not insulated from the global economic meltdown but “the story of the Philippines in 2008 is that the country weathered a succession of global crises in fuel, food, then in finance and finally the economy in a global recession, never losing focus and with economic fundamentals intact.”

International rating agencies like Moody’s, she noted, upgraded the country’s credit rating due to the resilience of the economy brought about by the tough fiscal and economic reforms her administration put in place before the financial crisis, thus sparing the Philippines from the worst of the global financial shocks.

The President said the bitter and unpopular reforms raised revenue collection that stimulated the economy and enabled the delivery of enhanced basic socio-economic services to the people.

Among the fruits of these reforms she said, include better healthcare, surge in infrastructure, a strong education system, housing for the poor, food security
and increased income for farmers and fisherfolk; increased Internal Revenue Allotment for local government units, increased resources for social welfare and increase in the salary of state workers, among many others.

“Our reforms gave us the resources to protect our people, our financial system and our economy from the worst of shock that the best in the west failed to anticipate,” the President stressed. (PIA V Release)

PGMA fights back, fells critics with one big punch

MANILA — With one single blow, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo got back at her critics in her State of the Nation Address this afternoon, and like the winner that she has always been, must have knocked them out cold.

Breaking her silence on a number of issues raised against her by her detractors, President Arroyo said she has never expressed the desire to extend herself beyond her term.

“Many of those who accuse me of it tried to cling like nails to their posts,” she pointed out.

The President noted that those who accuse her of mis-governance actually left her with the problem of mis-governance to solve. “And we did it,” she emphasized, referring to how she turned around the ailing economy.

Saying she has been falsely accused without proof of using her position for personal profit, the President said it is actually her accusers who have lifestyles and spending habits “that make them walking proofs of that crime…”

“We can read their frustrations. They had the chance to serve this good country and they blew it by serving themselves,” she stressed without naming names.

While talking about the issue of cheaper medicines and placing drugs under a maximum retail price, the President issued a sound advice to those who want to become president – again without naming names.

“If you really want something done, just do it. Do it hard, do it well. Don’t pussyfoot. Don’t pander. And don’t say bad words in public,” she said obviously referring to critics who have accused her of conspiring with drug firms to circumvent the cheaper medicines law.

As a parting shot, the President also advised those who live in glass houses not to cast stones. “Those who live in jail should not threaten it, especially if they have been there.”

Long urged to answer her critics, the President has ignored the political innuendoes and remained focus on governance, saying there is plenty of work to be done.

In the early part of her speech, the President said that her administration couldn’t have done what it has set out to do if she had allowed herself to be bothered by her critics.

“Had we listened to critics of those policies, had we not braced ourselves for the crisis that came, had we taken the easy road much preferred by politicians eyeing elections, this country would be flat on its back. It would take twice the effort to get it back again on its feet – to where we are now because we took the responsibility and paid the political price of doing the right thing,” she said. (PIA V Release)

PGMA SONA elicits varied reactions

MANILA — Fiery but done in good taste.

That was how Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando described the State of the Nation Address of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today at the joint session of Congress at the Batasang Pambansa.

“Matapang, but she said it in a nice way,” Fernando said, referring to President Arroyo’s response to critics on various issues.

“I would like to congratulate her for the very good language. They were done in a very good taste,” Santiago agreed.

Cavite 2nd District Representative Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga, on the other hand said that as far as managing the economy is concerned, President Arroyo is tops on his list.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate her more than nine. I’m sure even her critics would agree that she is the best president in so far as managing the economy is concerned,” he said.

Barzaga pointed out that although the country has been affected by the global meltdown, the President has been able to stir the economy clear of trouble.

He said the President was able to put the country’s inflation in check despite the global financial downturn. “And that, I believe, is her major accomplishment considering that there is a global recession, there is economic crisis.”

Manila 5th District Representative Amado Bagatsing agreed, saying her fiscal reforms kept the country afloat.

“She has shown us that she has the foresight. She made us take the bitter pill to withstand the tough times,” he said. (PIA V Release)

Next RP President is very lucky, PCCI official says

MANILA — The next President of the Republic is “very lucky” as he would inherit from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a better economic climate, improved education for all and infrastructure projects that are vital to development.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Sergio Luis Ortiz said this is how he rates the President on her performance over the last eight years that she steered the country to progress.

“The next President is lucky to inherit a Republic with a better economic climate that has survived the global economic slump much better than its neighbors,” Ortiz said.

“There is no industry sector with a problem, even education that has been left out for decades was given top priority by the Arroyo administration and, there was a surge in infrastructure,” Ortiz said as he cited some of the major achievements of the Arroyo administration.

Since she assumed power in 2001, Ortiz emphasized that President Arroyo worked hard and fast to practically reverse an economy fast on a decline when she inherited it by implementing fiscal and economic reforms.

The result, he said was an economy that has been continuously growing, achieving record-highs. Even with the global economic crisis that started last year, the country remained generally resilient due to the macroeconomic reforms instituted by the President, he added. (PIA V Release)

PGMA administration cites importance of education in reducing poverty

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo underscored today the importance of education in reducing poverty and attaining the country’s development goals even as she cited her administration’s top investment in education, skills development and training.

“Education is the great equalizer that allows every young Filipino a chance to realize their dreams,” President Arroyo said in her last State-of-the-Nation-Address during the Third Joint Regular Session of the 14th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa.

The Chief Executive stressed that her administration has built 95,000 classrooms throughout the country and created 60,000 teacher items from 2001 to 2008.

“We allocated Php1.5 billion for teacher training, especially for 107,000 English teachers,” she added.

The President affirmed that one of the most difficult Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target is the “Education for All,” or universal primary education by 2015.

Although most countries will not be able to achieve it, the President said, her administration is trying its best to improve its own education system.

She said her administration have cut the cost of going to school by building more classrooms in 1,000 barangays, stopping the collection of miscellaneous fees for primary school, and declaring school uniforms optional.

She added that 47 percent of students in private high schools have likewise been provided government assistance including the funding for technical education and skills training which is three times larger than the budget allocated to such training by previous administrations.

At the same time, the President noted that her government has also provided 600,000 college and post-graduate scholarships.

In this connection, she recognized and introduced one of the beneficiaries of the program, Mylene Amerol-Macumbal, the first Muslim woman bar top notcher who finished accounting in MSU-IIT, went to law school and placed second in the last bar exams.

The President mentioned the accomplishments of the Presidential Task Force on Education headed by Jesuit educator Father Bienvenido Nebres that came out with the Philippine Main Education Highway Towards Knowledge-based Economy.

“Our educational system should make the Filipino fit not just for whatever jobs that happen to be on offer today, but also for whatever economic challenge life will throw them,” she said. (PIA V Release)

There is still more work to be done, PGMA says

MANILA — In spite of the accomplishments of her administration the past eight years, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today there is still more work to be done to further improve the lives of the people.

“Some say that after this SONA, it will all be politics. Sorry, but there is more work,” the Chief Executive said in her State-of-the-Nation-Address.

Because of this, the President asked Congress to legislate nine essential measures, among which are:

-A Philippine Transport Security Authority Law ;

-Amendment to the Commonwealth-era Public Service to improve the telecommunications industry and be more consumer –friendly;

-The creation of a Department of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to steer further to progress the business outsource processing (BPO);

-The extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program plus the condonation of P42 billion in agrarian liabilities;

-Additional budget for the government’s Hunger Mitigation Program to further lessen the number of those hungry;

-Amendment to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Charter for the institution to further improve the banking system;

- Passage of new revenue –generating measures such as new sin taxes for social welfare programs;

- The SNITS Law or the Simplified Net Income Taxation Scheme (SNITS) to generate a PhP5.24 billion rise in revenues collected from self-employed taxpayers nationwide; and,

- More funds for the hiring of more policemen on the streets. (PIA V Release)

PGMA cites benefits derived from her trips abroad

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today that her trips abroad were aimed at looking after the welfare of overseas Filipino workers in their host countries, bring in foreign investments, jobs, historical injustice aside from strengthening bilateral and trade ties.

“I always look into the plight of Filipino workers overseas and work out better policies on migrant labor or by saving lives and restoring liberty,” the President said in her last State-of-the-Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa.

She stressed that when she visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 700 jailed OFWs were pardoned by King Abdullah.

After her state visit to Spain in 2007, Spain became the country’s biggest European donor .

Spain’s King Carlos, Bahrain’s Prime Minister Sheik Khalifa also helped her in talking to other countries where Filipino workers had problems.

In Kuwait, Emir Al-Sabah commuted sentences of some Filipinos.

“Our vigorous international engagements has helped bring in foreign investments. Net foreign direct investments multiplied 15 times during our administration,” the President said.

Foreign investments and remittances more than doubled the foreign exchange reserves and strengthened the peso, which helped upgrade the country’s credit ratings as foreign reserves grew by $3 billion.

“Our international engagement has also corrected historical injustice,” she said referring to her working visit to Washington last year, resulting in the successful sponsoring of the US Senate of the benefits for the WWII veterans as part of the US Stimulus package. (PIA V Release)

Saturday, July 25, 2009


MASBATE CITY — For every 10 Filipino youths aged 15-24, only five are employed, and those who find employment are mostly working overseas.

These facts from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and United Nations International Children’s Fund (Unicef) have prompted the Spanish government to approved a P35.7-million worth of youth employment program for Masbate province and three other Philippine provinces.

Together with the provincial governments of Masbate, Antique, Agusan del Sur and Maguindanao, various agencies of national government and the private sector have partnered to implement the “Joint Programme on Alternatives to Migration: Decent Jobs for Filipino Youth.”

Amy B. Danao, provincial social welfare and development officer, said the approval of the assistance was announced by ILO officials during the launching of the program in Manila last June 22.

Danao said the program aims to improve policy coherence and implementation on youth, employment and migration through full stakeholder participation.

She added it also seeks to increase access to decent work for poor, young women and men, which is part of the Millennium Development Goals.

Other partners in the program are Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Education, Department of Trade and Industry, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, National Youth Commission, Technical Education and skills Development Authority, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, organizations of employers and business and commerce, workers’ organizations, and youth organizations. (EADelgado, PIA Masbate)


SORSOGON CITY — The Kapisanan ng mga Taong may Kapansanan sa Sorsogon (KAPITAKS) calls on all differently-abled persons age 18 and above from all across Sorsogon province to come out and register for the 2010 local and national elections.

Carlo Bustamante, KAPITAKS public information officer, said though persons with physical disabilities, given the right age and proper sanity, the truth remains that they have the right to participate and exercise sovereignty in the upcoming elections.

Bustamante stressed “this is why, we encourage all persons with disabilities (PWDs) to register with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) as qualified voters.”

He lamented that given the big number of population of differently-abled persons in the country, they cannot even obtain a party-list representation in the House of Representatives.

“This can be attributed to the minimal participation of this sector in the electoral activities in the country,” he observed.

A sector is entitled to a seat in the House if it gets two percent of the votes cast for party-list groups, two seats if it gets four percent and a maximum of three seats if it gets at least six percent.

Bustamante also noted that aside from the minimal participation, most PWDs have also the lack of proper knowledge and information of their rights, low self-esteem, as well as, lack of further support coming from their respective communities.

“In time for the observance of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week this month, we highlighted activities that dealt mainly on the rights of PWDs stimulating awareness on their part regarding issues and concerns that will strengthen their involvement in various community activities,” he said.

Anent to this, Bustamante appeals to PWDs to exercise their rights to choose the leader that they like and even encourage qualified PWDs to file for candidacy.

“The Comelec along with the Commission on Human Rights and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting has also assured us that they will help and craft PWD assisted programs to give us more opportunities to participate actively in the coming elections,” he averred.

“We are also hopeful that the Comelec’s plan of providing a special lane or special voting centers for PWD voters come 2010 elections will materialize,” he added.

Meanwhile, he also said that KAPITAKS is grateful particularly that the Department of Education (DepEd) through its School Improvement Plan (SIP) has ordered public school officials to identify children with disabilities in their areas and convince their parents to bring them to school.

Bustamante stressed “it will certainly strengthen the pro-active role of the DepEd in the promotion of programs for the welfare of children with special needs,”.

In Sorsogon, some 4,000 PWDs are registered members of KAPITAKS. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


STO. DOMINGO, Albay — Some P7.5 million funding for various livelihood programs will be released by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol before the end of 2009, according to DOLE Bicol regional director Ernesto Bihis.

Bihis said during the agency’s Mid-Year Planning and Assessment Workshop done late last week that the livelihood programs will be awarded to organized groups as well as individuals who will pass the qualifications set by the DOLE

“Bicol is gradually recovering from the effects of the global financial crisis. Now, in order to totally combat this, we need to establish local businesses including individual small-scale livelihood programs. This will create more jobs,” he noted.

It can be recalled that sometime last year, DOLE Bicol has been more strict in giving livelihood grants.

“Well as I always say, this is the people’s money so we have to take good care of it,” he said.

In 2008, DOLE Bicol released a total of some P12.5 million for various livelihood programs in the region. (RPEscalante, DOLE/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — Members and dependents of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) who contracted Dengue fever and confined in a hospital can now readily avail of the agency’s medical benefits package.

Orlando Iñigo Jr., PhilHealth Bicol regional director, said the incidence of Dengue fever is usually in an uptrend on the onset of the rainy season and the agency just wants to ensure the patients can avail of the social health insurance for their hospitalization, professional feees, laboratory and medicine expenses.

Iñigo said Dengue Fever is classified as Case Type A illness, hence, if confined in a Level 3 or 4 hospital, a member or his/her dependent/s can avail of the following amounts which could be deducted from their hospital bill: room and board –P500/day; drugs and medicines – P4,200; X-ray, laboratory and others – P3,200; professional fees of doctors for the daily visit during the whole duration of confinement – P300/day or maximum of P1,200 for general practitioners, while P500/day or maximum of P2,000 for Specialists.

He added if the dengue fever develops into a Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, which is a severe, often fatal, complication of dengue fever, the classification of illness is upgraded to Case Type B.

“As the disease becomes more severe, PhilHealth provides higher benefits to its members and their dependents,” he said.

He explained for this particular Case Type, and patient is confined in a Level 3 or 4 hospital, a member or his/her dependent/s can avail of the following amounts which could be deducted from their hospital bill: room and board – P500/day; Drugs and medicines – P14,000; X-ray, Laboratory and others – P10,500; Professional Fees of doctors for the daily visit during the whole duration of confinement – P400/day or maximum of P2,400 for general practitioners, while P600/day or maximum of P3,600 for Specialists.

Iñigo stressed in availing of these benefits, a member should have at least paid three months of contribution or at least one quarter within the six months prior to the confinement period.

“If a dependent is confined, ensure that your Member Data Record is updated to ease the processing of your claim,” he esaid.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth Bicol has encouraged the populace to observe the following precautionary measures to prevent infection and spread of the dreaded disease:

Avoid mosquito bites when traveling in tropical areas:

• Use mosquito repellents on skin and clothing,
• When outdoors during times that mosquitoes are biting, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks,
• Avoid heavily populated residential areas,
• When indoors, stay in air-conditioned or screened areas. Use bednets if sleeping areas are not screened or air-conditioned,
• If you have symptoms of dengue, report your travel history to your doctor.

Eliminate mosquito breeding sites in areas where dengue might occur:

• Eliminate mosquito breeding sites around homes. Discard items that can collect rain or run-off water, especially old tires,
• Regularly change the water in outdoor bird baths and pet and animal water containers.

“An ounce of prevention is still better than a pound of cure. Therefore, before we get stuck with the complications that could arise in having dengue fever, let us observe these Dengue Fever prevention tips,” the regional chief stressed. (PhilHealth V/PIA))


PILI, Camarines Sur – The Department of Agriculture (DA) regional field unit here takes pride in honoring the seven winners in this year’s Regional Gawad Saka Awards among Bicolanos whose achievements have contributed in agricultural development and food security.

This year's regional winners are the Provincial Agriculture and Fishery Council (PAFC) of Catanduanes for the Outstanding PAFC category; Countryside Multi Line Cooperative of Gubat, Daet, Camarines Norte as an Outstanding Small Farmer Organization; Municipal Agriculture and Fishery Council (MAFC) of Lupi, Camarines Sur being the Outstanding MAFC; Engr. Raul T. Carreras of Panagan, Tigaon, Camarines Sur as Outstanding Corn Farmer; Jose T. Quimpo of Abucayan, Goa, Camarines Sur as Outstanding Coconut Farmer; Linda Rebosura-Corsiga cited as Outstanding Agri-Entrepreneur; and, Luz Marcelino, DA Bicol Experiment Station superintendent – for being an Outstanding Agri-Scientist.

PAFC Catanduanes and Countryside Multi Line Cooperative will receive P15,000 cash prize, while the other awardees will each receive P10,000.

The winners will also be Bicol region’s entry to the National Search for the Gawad Saka Awards

Dr. Jose Dayao, DA Bicol regional executive director, said the agency hopes that the honor Gawad Saka Awards bestows on them shall inspire the honorees into even greater heights in enriching agricultural development in Bicol region, as the same successes should encourage others to walk the same path they are treading.

Special Citations were also awarded to Archie Ellama of Sto. Domingo, Vinzons, Camarines Norte (Young Farmer category); Benedicto A. Palmares of Matnog, Basud, Camarines Norte (HVCC farmer); Mr. and Mrs. Purisima of Tigaon, Camarines Sur (Family Farm); RIC Bagacay (Rural Improvement Club category).

RIC Bagacay will receive cash prize of 7,500 while the three other will each receive P5,000.

The GAWAD SAKA is a yearly undertaking of the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with other government institutions, non-government offices and the private sector.

This project aims to give due recognition and pay tribute to dedicated individuals ad institutions whose exemplary accomplishments in their respective fields of endeavor and contribution to the country's agricultural development are deemed worthy of emulation.

It is a tribute to farmers, fisherfolk, and institutions in recognition of their significant contributions towards a modernized and equitable agriculture. (DCAbad, PIA CamSur)


LEGAZPI CITY — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gave Albay province various types of medicines to be used for medical missions in areas considered as high risk zone once the 2,760 meters high volcano erupts.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda expressed his gratitude to Secretary Duque for the medicines to be used in medical missions in five towns and three cities surrounding Mayon volcano.

Salceda said the medical mission is a preemptive health care measure, a new strategy adopted by his administration designed to reduce potential spread of disease in times of mass evacuation once a full blown eruption occurs anytime.

“We have to prevent spread of diseases inside the evacuation centers by holding medical missions to determine the residents’ health conditions and make curative or preventive medical measures to curb potential disease outbreak to take place in evacuation camps,” Salceda said.

The medical mission will be held in 56 villages at risk to eruption covering 127,000 residents in Malilipot, Sto Domingo, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan towns and the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco and Ligao.

He said the medicines would be of great help as this will mean conservation of the limited calamity funds not only for Mayon but also for upcoming typhoons.

Meanwhile, Mayon volcano continue to manifest intense seismic abnormality signified by low intensity volcanic quakes, crater glow and moderate steaming.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the agency instrument monitoring the volcano seismic activity for the past 24 hours recorded 12 low frequency earthquakes.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist said that the quakes are manifestation that magma is building up inside the volcano.

Alert level 2 remains hoisted meaning the volcano is still on a state of unrest which could lead to ash explosions or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruption.

Police and military authorities are still manning their respective check points to prevent any human activity inside the 6-km Permanent Danger Zone including the 7-km extended danger zone at the southeast quadrant of the volcano. (MSA, PNA/PIA)

PGMA to highlight her legacy in final SONA

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to talk about her outstanding legacy since she took over the presidency in 2001 until her current administration as one of the highlights in the forthcoming state of the nation address (SONA) on July 27.

In a press conference at Malacanang, Deputy Spokesperson Anthony Golez said that President Arroyo’s SONA will not only focus on the previous year’s accomplishments but the entire eight years since she assumed office.

Golez noted that the Chief Executive will talk about “what she feels are her unfinished legacy that she wants the next president to take on.”

He cited that part of Monday’s SONA is to remind the Filipino people about her vision for the country. She may also tackle, he said, the issues close to her heart including volunteerism and climate change.

Presidential Economic Spokesperson Gary Olivar, however, clarified that President Arroyo will not address the issue of term extension which the opposition continues to throw at the administration.

“I am not sure a formal and official address to the Congress of the Philippines is a proper forum to respond to speculations especially speculations (that are) neither backed by facts nor even by intended good faith or good will,” Olivar stressed.

Instead, Olivar added that what the President may include in her SONA is her political visions –on the “need to continue to strengthen the political institution and what she has done on those issues during her watch.”

“It is time to have a deeper discussion on how politics have conducted in this country including the level of political dialogue. And the SONA is a proper venue to do that –not to answer baseless speculations but to talk about issues that matter,” he added.

The Palace officials added that President Arroyo will inform the Filipino people about the accomplishments of her administration and the status of the projects and programs that she initiated for the welfare of the citizens. (PIA V Release)

Palace lauds Enrile’s positive appraisal of PGMA’s legacy

MANILA — Malacanang thanked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for his positive assessment of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s performance particularly the country’s sustained growth despite the global financial crisis.

Presidential Economic Spokesperson Gary Olivar said Enrile’s appraisal “would be appreciated by the Palace.”

“I think Senator Enrile’s political memory goes back a long, long way even before many of us here were born. Mang Johnny knows what he is talking about especially when he talks about things like that,” he added.

Enrile said in a news report that President Arroyo has done better as compared to her predecessors noting the economic programs of the administration that cushioned the country from the impact of the global financial crisis.

Olivar was visibly surprised but thankful for the remarks of Enrile, who is also the president of the opposition’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

Enrile has earlier pointed out that despite the global economic crunch, its impact in the Philippines is hardly felt. He cited as an example the country’s low inflation rate.

He likewise praised the administration for establishing the nautical highway through the Roll-On, Roll-Off (RORO) program, the construction of new airports and upgrading of existing ones to international standards, as well as efforts to modernize agriculture in the Philippines, among others. (PIA V Release)

PGMA envisions RP to join first world countries in 20 years

MANILA — With less than a year before she bows out of office, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stressed anew today her vision for the Philippines: A republic ready to join the first world countries in 20 years.

“To work and to lead, to protect and to preserve our country and our people, that is why I became President,” thus said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her message at the induction of the new set of officers of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) Thursday morning at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall.

“When my father left the Presidency, the Philippines was second to Japan. I share his vision. If not second to the best, then a republic ready to join the first world in 20 years,” the President stressed.

Thus, in achieving this vision, the President said she made key reforms--tough and painful decisions, including the so-called “bitter pill”—the expanded Value Added Tax Law.

The President noted that the past 12 months have been a year of financial meltdown and the Philippines was not insulated from it.

“Financial systems in the West shattered. Even conservative financial systems in the East were shaken to their foundations. Grand names in international finance fell into disrepute and vanished overnight. Tens of millions have lost their jobs; billions across the globe have been hurt—the poor always harder than the rich,” she said.

However, due key economic reforms already in place before the financial crash, “the headline story of the Philippines in 2008 is that the country decently survived a succession of global crises in fuel, then food, then financial and finally economic, keeping economic fundamentals and not losing focus.” (PIA V Release)

CLEEP employs 237,601 Pinoys

MANILA — National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Domingo F. Panganiban revealed that at least 237,601 Filipinos have earned employment during the last six months under the Arroyo government’s Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP).

In a statement, Secretary Panganiban said the generated jobs are in public works and services with more than P7 billion already committed of the P13.58 billion as pledged by various agencies to the CLEEP.

Panganiban reported that DPWH has hired some 46,604 workers; DA provided emergency jobs for 37,524 workers; DSWD 27,127; DTI hired some 29,545; DepEd employed 19,356 workers for its herbal soap-making project and as utility workers; and 13 other government agencies provided jobs to 77,445 Filipinos across the country.

The Secretary hinted that the figure is yet to grow as agencies are still in the process of tallying its CLEEP reports.

Accordingly, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is closely watching the implementation of the project to ease the burden of the people amidst the challenges of the global economic slowdown.

In a related development, the Arroyo administration, in its relentless effort to open new and better job opportunities here and abroad, has already generated more than 6.3 million jobs since 2001 for wage employment alone in sectors like the ICT and BPO and through jobs facilitation program.

To better the workers condition, the daily minimum wage in the private sector were increased from P265 in 2001 to P382 to date, while in the government, salaries of state employees were raised four times, including this year with the first of the four tranches of the Salary Standardization Law 3 after being signed by President Arroyo. (PIA V Release)

PGMA, VP Noli lead groundbreaking of new housing project for state workers

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chairman and Vice President Noli de Castro have graced the groundbreaking of a new socialized housing project that will benefit less than 3,000 state employees.

The housing project, located within the New Bilibid Prison Reservation Property in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, will be developed on a 41-hectare property which will be offered to employees of the Office of the President (OP), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Bureau of Correctional, and the City of Muntinlupa.

HUDCC chairman and Vice President de Castro said the houses and lots will also be offered to other government employees after four months that the priority agencies’ employees were not able to buy the units through their Pagibig Fund contributions.

Project developer R-II Builders was also present through its chairman Reghis Romero III and president/CEO Pol T. Sanchez. Romero said they have one year to finish the first phase of development in 16.76 hectares covering 1,495 units which involves the construction and selling of the housing units.

Close to 3,000 government workers stand to benefit from the government housing project within the New Bilibid Prison reservation in Muntinlupa following its groundbreaking this morning by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro.

The new socialized housing project on the 41-hectare gently rolling property will be offered to employees of Office of the President, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Justice and its attached agency the Bureau of Correctional and the City of Muntinlupa.

In the same event, President Arroyo signed into law the Home Mutual Development Fund (HMDF) Bill with Vice President Noli de Castro, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Representatives Edcel Lagman & Amelita Villarosa as witnesses. (PIA V Release)

DOH: Anti-H1N1 vaccine possibly available in October

MANILA — Dr. Eric Tayag, chief epidemiologist of the Department of Health (DOH), hinted that A(H1N1) flu vaccine might be available in the market by October this year.

In a television interview, Dr. Tayag said the production of the vaccine is now being fast-tracked and this may be available first in the United States of America (USA).

The DOH chief revealed that the development of the anti-swine flu vaccine was not subjected to the usual rigorous step-by-step process in order to be approved due to its immediate necessity.

While the vaccine is still being developed in Australia and the United Kingdom, the DOH is reminding the public to continue practicing the following health tips:

a.) to keep your three feet distance
b.) wash your hands regularly
c.) cover your mouth when coughing
d.) stay at home if not feeling well

He warned also the public that the high risk individuals – such as people with respiratory problems, of old age, and pregnant women – should be more extra careful so as to avoid infection.

In the same interview, Dr. Tayag performed a sample of the ‘Jai Ho H1N1 campaign’ dance steps which will be launched to make the health tips on anti-influenza be more retentive in the public’s mindset.

The DOH official likewise announced that the recovery rate from A(H1N1) infection in the country is very positive saying, “halos lahat gumagaling kasi mild lang ang virus at hindi parin nagbabago”. (PIA V Release)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

MURINGA RECIPE WINNER – Grade six pupil Hazel Peñaflor Gabica and her coach Emma Naguna of Naga Central School 1, Naga City, declared by the board of judges as winner during the Malungay recipes regional cookfest contest last July 23, held at LCC Events Center, 4th Level, LCC Mall, Legazpi City. (Alex Cal)
NUTRICOMNET-BICOL – Regional Director Tomas B. Briñas of Department of Science and Technology (DOST-V) delivers his message during the Malungay recipes regional cookfest, last July 23 held at LCC Events Center, 4th Level, LCC Mall, Legazpi City. (Alex Cal/PIA)

CASTILLA, Sorsogon — Local government officials here remain optimistic that improvements for the Castilla All-Weather Seaport (CAWS) will push through within this year that will make the seaport a world-class marine transport facility capable of accommodating both domestic and international sea vessels.

Adams N. Manatlao, municipal administrator here, bared the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had earlier allocated some P25 million to be implemented by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) for the improvement of the seaport, specifically for the extension of the wharf and construction of another docking area.

“The project implementation has not materialized up to this date, due to some legal impediments over a portion of lot covered by the seaport site, which is now pending with the Court of Appeals,” he said.

He stressed the municipal government, however, has already taken certain moves to resolve the issue through a compromise agreement with the lot owner.

“We are positively looking forward that everything will turn out favorably so that the seaport can already be of use for the public’s advantage,” he averred.

He also related that last May this year, in one of the Sangguniang Bayan regular sessions, they had already given the Regional Head for Operations of the PPA the assurance that legal matters obstructing the project implementation are now being handled properly.

“In return, PPA also informed us that necessary preparations for the project implementation are also being undertaken and will immediately start the improvements the moment everything is cleared,” he said.

Aside from the allocation from DBM, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) has also included the seaport here as one among its pump-priming projects, appropriating an additional of P150-M for other needed improvements and construction of the new access road suited for heavy loads between the port area and the Maharlika Highway.

The seaport covering 60-meter of the proposed wharf is a municipal seaport constructed manually by local laborers for P6-M taken from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) savings of the municipal government, under the administration of then mayor now vice governor Renato Laurinaria.

Meanwhile, Laurinaria said that the site of the port covering a 10-has area acquired by the municipal government is ideal for an international seaport that could accommodate large cargo vessel and serve as a roll-on-roll-off (RORO) facility for the government’s nautical highway program.

“It is also envisioned to serve as center of maritime transportation for Bicol given its location that cuts short by over six hours cruising time between Manila or other major ports across the country and the cities of Legazpi and Tabaco, both in Albay, where the existing international seaports in the region are located,” he said.

“It is an all weather seaport because it is shielded from strong typhoons by high mountains,” he added. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) has transferred to the Albay Provincial Government P85 million to pay for the 140-hectare prime land straddling the areas of Daraga and Camalig town to be developed for the Bicol International Airport.

DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza recently turned-over to Albay Governor Joey Salceda the funds for the purchase of the new airport site.

DOTC officials and Albay local officials, including Camalig mayor Irwin Baldo and Daraga mayor Cicero Triumfante, and officials of the five barangays on the actual site of the proposed airport witnessed the turn-over ceremony.

Mendoza said construction works on the proposed airport are expected to start shortly and set its completion within 30 months or two and a half years.

Salceda conceptualized the idea of the Bicol International Airport and has since pursuing the construction of the new airport in Albay province to fast track and catapult the region’s economic development.

He said the proposed airport and its facilities will answer the need for a modern airport in Southern Luzon that will cater to more business activities in the area and conveniently links Bicol to the rest of the country and the world.

He added the air transport facility would further improve the performance of the region in tourism arrivals, employment generation and business investment.

The Bicol International Airport easily qualifies as among the biggest and most ambitious government projects in the Bicol Region to date, with prospects of even greater returns on investment. (MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY — Almost half a million jobs were generated from the farm and fishery sector this year, making it the top job generator for the first quarter of 2009, according to Presidential Economic Adviser and Albay Governor Joey Salceda.

Salceda on Tuesday said that based on data of the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, employment in the farm and fisheries sector as of April 2009 was estimated at 12.318 million, which is higher by 3.47 percent compared to 11.905 million for the same period last year.

“Philippine agriculture created more jobs than the trade sector, which only ranked second with 345,000 jobs,” he added.

He said “this proves that the Arroyo government’s decision to reverse 30 years of official neglect of the agriculture sector through sustained, higher public investments is now reaping positive results.”

The government has also increased spending for agriculture, focusing on irrigation and other rural infrastructure which already yielded positive results with the increased of palay rice production by 5.1 percent or double its average growth a year ago.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has also fast tracked rehabilitation and restoration work of irrigation system that has allowed farmers to plant an additional 69,000 hectares of farmland or 5.7 percent more than last year.

The administration of President Arroyo has increased spending on agriculture, P25.36 billion in 2007, P35.39 billion in 2008 and P46.86 billion this year.

Salceda further recommended to the government to pour more “stimulus funds” into the country’s agriculture, particularly into irrigation, to sustain the sector’s resilience and its status as a primary growth driver even in the midst of a global financial contagion.

“Without the agriculture growth contribution, GDP [gross domestic product] would have been sub-zero. Despite the obvious odds, its 2.1-percent increase in gross value added may not be stellar but it was the highest among the sectors which best proves the logic of government budgetary stimulus, specifically to the Department of Agriculture,’’ he said.

He added that the Department of Agriculture’s policies in the last two years have enabled the agriculture sector, which accounts for 20 percent of the economy, to remain resilient while every other sector had gone into a slump.

From 2001, the start of the Arroyo presidency, to the present, the government was able to generate a total of 8.95 million jobs in the private sector and at least 12 million jobs were created through government projects, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). (PIA V Release)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) regional office here has set a target to universally cover at least 85 percent of the population of Bicol region with health insurance protection they deserve.

Orlando Iñigo, Jr., PhilHealth Bicol regional vice president, stated the agency is geared towards ensuring all Bicolanos be covered by social health insurance in accordance with the principles of universality and compulsory coverage as mandated by RA 7875 or The National Health Insurance Act of 1995 and RA 9241.

Iñigo said “this tall order is now what PhilHealth is hoping to accomplish on its way to the agency’s 15th year anniversary in 2010.”

He added PhilHealth Bicol recognizes its vital role in accomplishing the agency’s mandate, organizing its marketing team ready to speed up enrollment, and a manpower pool that will efficiently deliver public service.

He said the PhilHealth Bicol is equipped with all its armors driven towards universal coverage.

Iñigo further related Albay province as of April 30 this year has a total number of 281,258 enrolled members, including employees from the government and private sectors, to PhilHealth’s programs such as Sponsored Program, Individually Paying Program, Lifetime Member Program and the Overseas Workers Program.

“This figure is actually 138.3 per cent of the total baseline set for the province’s enrolment,” he said.

Records also show Sorsogon province follows the uptrend to universal coverage is covering a total number of 101,016 members for all the programs, that is, 92.1 per cent of the 109,656 potential members in the province.

Meanwhile, the island province of Catanduanes already covers around 90 per cent of its population with social health insurance, ensuring 32,123 Catandungeños and their dependents.

On the other hand, Camarines Norte has an enrollment that covers 78 per cent of its population which is translated as 68,185 members plus their dependents who can enjoy the PhilHealth benefits.

Camarines Sur was able to cover 51.4 per cent of their population which is only 148,879 out of the 289,701 identified potential members of PhilHealth.

Due to limiting factors, particularly geographical in nature, the province of Masbate only has 43,529 members or only 34.8 per cent of its people are covered by PhilHealth.

Iñigo noted “with this statistics at hand, truly there are still areas for collaboration as we seek more partnerships with out stakeholders in the implementation of our programs.” He said the Sponsored Program, which is considered as the heart of the NHIP, continues to seek for alliances as PhilHealth recognizes the need to extend its services to the marginalized sector of our society.

“On this note, we at PhilHealth Bicol would like to exert all possible means to ensure that the sustainable, affordable and progressive health care service that Bicolanos deserve is delivered,” he stressed.

The PhilHealth Bicol chief is also appealing to all local chief executives across the region to enroll every household, particularly the underprivileged, to the health care program.

“Let us uplift the value of social solidarity through the NHIP as the means for the healthy to pay for the care of the sick and for those can afford medical care to subsidize those who cannot,” he said.

“We strengthen more our linkages with our partners and we are optimistic that soon enough there will be no more Bicolanos who will pose in despair for financial difficulties in seeking health care services,” he added.

“For all throughout, PhilHealth will be your partner in health. With this let me state, “Ako, PhilHealth member na, ikaw?” he concluded. (PhilHealth V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — Regional and provincial officials and employees of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Bicol went through a training-seminar on first-aid administration last July 17, in time for the observance of the National Disaster Consciousness Month this July.

“You can never know when accident will happen, it’s better to be prepared than to be caught off-guard,” DOLE Bicol director Ernesto C. Bihis observed.

The Philippine National Red Cross, led by Peter Andrew Balmaceda and Jasper Navarro, facilitated the one-day training-seminar held at the conference room of the DOLE regional office.

The participants were trained on the basic principles of first-aid, common ‘emergencies’ and ‘types of wounds’ needing first-aid attention and actual practical test on bandaging.

“Actually it’s not just a regular seminar; the participants were given written and practical tests. Passers were formally recognized by the red cross as accredited first-aiders,” Bihis stressed.

The employees who underwent the training are expected to share their knowledge during DOLE-Bicol led seminars on workplace safety and health. (RPEscalante, DOLE V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Nutrition Communication Network (NUTRICOMNET), in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Bicol and the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), spearheads the Malunggay Recipes Regional Cookfest on Thursday (July 23) at the LCC Event Center here.

The cooking contest highlights the celebrations of the National Nutrition Month this July and the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) on this third week of the same month.

Elementary pupils, who qualified from 13 school divisions–six provinces and seven cities in the region, are expected to participate in this regional competition.

Malunggay recipes featured in this competition will be developed and printed into pamphlets and brochures to be distributed to nutritionally-depressed barangays in the region.

Winning entries could also have potentials for technology adoption either for home or school use or enterprise development.

Based on the guidelines of the contest, all contestants are required to submit a certification of enrolment for the present school year from the school principal. There will only be one contestant per division.

Contestants are required to bring their own contest supplies, materials, ingredients, tools and equipment. They should be at the venue 20 minutes before the contest in their official school uniform with ID. Only the contestants, board of judges and contest administrators are allowed inside the cookfest area.

The recipe to be prepared either original or an innovation of an existing recipe is for a snack – easy to prepare, low cost, nutritious and can be sold in school canteens. It should yield 10 servings with nutrition contribution of 200 calories for the snack and two tablespoons powder for the drink.

The name of the recipe, its general description and process flow should be printed in a whole cartolina with black print to be displayed in a designated area. A copy of the entire recipe is required to be submitted at 1:00 p.m., July 23, 2009 before the contest proper to the NUTRICOMNET Secretariat.

This must consist of the ingredients, procedure, estimated total nutrient content, number of servings, total preparation/cooking time, estimated total cost based on prevailing supermarket price in Legazpi City, and estimated cost per serving. Props are not allowed during the presentation of the finished product.

Criteria in the selection of the regional winners consist of the following: Nutritive Value – 30%; Cost of Recipe per serving – 20%; Time of Preparation – 10%; Neatness and Orderliness – 10%; Proper Use of Utensils/Tools/Implements – 10%; Appearance of Food – 10%; and Palatability – 10%, a total of 100%. Major cash and consolation prizes, and plaques/certificates await the winners and non-winners, and their coaches. Judging in this contest is final and irrevocable.

NUTRICOMNET’s full support and participation in this regional endeavor will go a long way in its efforts to improve the nutritional status of schoolchildren in the region.

Contestants are advised to contact NUTRICOMNET through Ms. Shirley B. Borja, Chair, Core Group at DepEd Region V (821-1143) or Dr. Pilita O. Lucena, DOST V at (052) 821-7930 for any other details regarding this contest. (POLucena, DOST V/PIA)


MANILA— President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will highlight the achievements of her administration and the status of the government’s projects and programs in her upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the opening of the Joint Congress on July 27.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in a press briefing today that President Arroyo will dwell on how her administration has given “too much attention to the overall welfare of the Filipinos.”

He explained that President Arroyo will try to highlight the accomplishments of the major projects she initiated since 2001.

Ermita cited the BEAT THE ODDS program of the government which the Chief Executive will most likely tackle on Monday’s SONA.

BEAT THE ODDS is an acronym for the government’s priority project which stands for: Balance budget, Education for all, Automated elections, Transportation and digital infrastructure, Terminate hostilities with the MILF and NPA, Heal the wounds of EDSA’s I, II and III, Electricity and water for all, Opportunities for livelihood and ten million jobs, Decongestion of Metro Manila, and Develop Subic and Clark.
President Arroyo, Ermita added, may also report the developments on the Super Region concept, the development in Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon and the other parts of the country.

Ermita reiterated that this is President Arroyo’s last SONA and she wants to inform the Filipino people on the accomplishments of her administration and the status of the projects and programs that she initiated for the welfare of the citizens. (PIA V Release)


MANILA -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to sign an executive order imposing the maximum price ceiling on six to seven essential drugs not included in the list voluntarily recommended by pharmaceutical firms for price slashing.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press briefing today that the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) has already submitted a letter of undertaking voluntarily trimming down prices of some 14 to 15 essential drugs by at least 50 percent.

The drug firms, he said, offered to reduce the prices of six to seven essential medicines to only 30 to 35 percent. These include anti-hypertensive, anti-cholesterol, anti-diabetes, two anti-infective and anti-cancer drugs.

Duque said that they are now carefully reviewing the proposals and will submit the recommendation to the President not later than Wednesday this week.

He said the forthcoming executive order will take effect on Aug. 15 and include only the six to seven essential drugs.

The proposals received by the government came from 11 members of PHAP and two drug companies that are not members of the association.

Duque explained that some of the pharmaceutical companies that do not carry the 21 essential drugs also offered price reduction to 12 more products.

The Health Secretary pointed out that he does not accept the explanation of drug companies which failed to voluntarily slash the prices of the six to seven essential drugs that further reductioncould “eat up their profits.”

He said these drug firms have already generated hefty profits from these medicines. (PIA V Release)


MANILA -- The Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) on Monday filed a "very urgent motion" before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from paying an initial amount of P4 billion to Smartmatic-Total Information Management consortium for the automation of the 2010 polls.

The group asked the High Court to stay the initial payment to the consortium pending their (CCM) petition questioning the validity of the P7.2-billion poll automation contract entered into by the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM.

Under the contract, Smartmatic-TIM may collect from the Comelec up to P4 billion out of the P7.194-billion contract prior to its delivery of the 80,200 Precinct Count Optical Scan (POCS) machines to be used for the May 10, 2010 national and local elections.

The consortium has promised to deliver the first batch of the 80,200 machines in November this year.

In their motion to stay the first payment of fees to Smartmatic-TIM Corporation, the petitioners said that such payment could cause irreparable injury not only to them but to the Filipino people as well in case "payment is made and the contract is declared invalid."

The CCM claimed the contract is "frontloaded" and that "an obvious proof of this is that the delivery of the 80,200 machines will only require payment of 35 percent of the budget, when in the original Comelec budget the rental of equipment is 72.5 percent of the totalbudget."

"Thus, such terms of the contract patently disadvantageous to the people justify the immediate issuance by this Honorable Court of an order staying the expenditure of public funds in the contract to automate the country's election system awarded to the Smartmatic-TIM joint venture," the CCM said.

The CCM cited the MegaPacific contract which was nullified by the SC, wherein the Comelec spent P3.9 million in storage fees each year for automated counting machines (ACMs) not used due to violations of the law.

"The instant petition involves an even bigger contract. Petitioners respectfully argue that the lessons of the MegaPacifc deal should not be lost on this Honorable Court. The payment could well be made with no tangible deliveries. And if this Honorable Court nullifies the contract, Respondent Comelec will have already paid for something that it cannot use later," the petitioners said.

"At least, in the MegaPacific deal, the machines had actually been delivered," the CCM argued.

In the Comelec-Smartmatic- TIM deal, P2.8 billion of the P7.194-billion contract price will have to be paid by Comelec before the machines could be delivered.
Aside from this, the Comelec is also required to pay a "project initialization setup" or 10 percent of the contract cost equivalent to P719 million.

This means, following the schedule of payments by December 2009, the Comelec shall have already paid P4.135 billion or 57 percent of the contract price, the petitioners said.

The High Court scheduled the CCM motion for oral argument on Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 2 p.m.

The CCM earlier asked the SC to stop the signing of the contract between Comelec, Smartmatic International Inc. and its local partner Total Information Management (TIM).

They also asked that the contract be declared void for alleged violation of several provisions of the law.

In their 49-page petition, the CCM cited violations of the provisions of Republic Act 9369, otherwise known as the Poll Automation Law of 2007, saying that the Comelec failed to conduct any pilot testing of the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines by Smartmatic-TIM, which is arequirement under RA 9369.

They noted that Section 5 of RA 9369 mandates that for the regular and national elections, the automated election system shall be used in at least two highly-urbanized cities and two provinces each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to be chosen by the Comelec. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — State-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Northeastern Luzon Pacific Coastal Service, Inc. (NLPCSI) signed recently a P64.7 million loan agreement to finance the acquisition of two ferry vessels that will ply the missionary route in northeastern Luzon.

The ferry vessels will serve the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, and Aurora, providing an affordable, reliable and convenient mode of transportation to move passengers, agricultural and marine products from coastal towns to mainland markets.

DBP president & chief executive officer Reynaldo G. David said the initiative is in line with DBP’s flagship project, the Sustainable Logistics Development Program (SLDP) and supports the national government’s Strong Republic Nautical Highway.

He added that the opening of a missionary route will improve economic conditions and harness the tourism potential of northeastern Luzon, subsequently generating more employment opportunities for residents of coastal towns in the area.

NLPCSI president and chief executive officer Sec. Jose Mari Ponce, who is also administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority(CEZA) said the initiative will link two economic zones --the Aurora Economic Zone and the Cagayan Free Port.

He expressed optimism that the initiative will boost economic activity in the three provinces.

Isabela Governor Ma. Gracia Padaca, on the other hand, said the project will also help in promoting eco-tourism in the area while supporting the campaign against logging activities in the Sierra Madre mountain range.

The project supports the Road Roll-on Roll-off Terminal System which is one of the three components of DBP’s Sustainable Logistics Development Program (SLDP). This is an investment financing facility for a comprehensive and integrated transportation system as well as related infrastructure and support services.

The other components are the bulk grains highway which facilitates the transport of corn from Mindanao to Northern Luzon, while the cold chain highway is aimed at re-engineering the logistics system for perishables.Founded in 2003, NLPCSI was formed by the provinces of Aurora, Isabela, and Cagayan, and the CEZA to establish a RORO system along the northeastern coast of Luzon. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita confirmed on wednesday that an executive order for the imposition of maximum drug price ceilings on several essential drugs may be signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before she leaves for the United States late this month.

The EO, he said, will take effect on August 15.

Ermita said the report from the Department of Health will be the basis of the draft executive order that they will submit to President Arroyo “to implement the intent and spirit of the Cheap Medicines Act.”

“You can be sure that the President will take a final decisive action on that matter that would be advantageous and beneficial to the majority of our people. You can be sure of that,” Ermita told Malacanang reporters in a press briefing.

In a letter submitted to the Office of the President, the health department disclosed that they have finalized the review and validation of the Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) letter of undertaking where prices of 16 drugs were voluntarily reduced by 50 percent while five other were non-compliant.

Among the 16 preparations that complied were medications to treat hypertension, diabetes, common infections, amoebiasis and some cancers like leukemia.

The five others that did not voluntarily comply with the 50 percent price cut will be recommended for the imposition of the maximum drug retail price through an executive order to be signed by the President.

However, pharmaceutical companies have added 22 molecules (or 31 products) that will have voluntary price cuts from 10 to 50 percent. These medications will treat diseases such as goiter, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, arthritis, fungal infections, diabetes, among others.

President Arroyo last year signed into law RA 9502, or the Universally Accessible, Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008. Under the law, any individual or organization listed with the Bureau of Food and Drugs may import medicines and sell them at affordable prices to the public. (PIA V Release)

Funds for Bicol International Airport -- Albay province recently received from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) some p85 million to pay for lands at the site of the Bicol International Airport at the boundaries of Daraga and Camalig town, at a ceremony at the DOTC office in Makati. In photo are (from left to right) Daraga Mayor Cicero Triunfante, DOTC Sec. Leandro Mendoza, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, and Camalig Mayor Irwin Baldo.

Albay receives P85 million for land acquisition -- DOTC Sec. Leandro Mendoza (5th from left) shakes hands with Albay Gov. Joey Salceda during the turn over recently of the P85 million funds at the DOTC office in Makati, for the acquisition of lands at the site of the Bicol International Airport in Albay. Looking on are DOTC officials and representatives from the province of Albay among them Daraga Mayor Cicero Triunfante and Camalig Mayor Irwin Baldo ande Albay Provincial Board Member Neil Montallana.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


LEGAZPI CITY— The remaining months in office of President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo will be devoted to education, peace talks and call for civic duty, according to Albay Governor Joey Salceda.

Salceda, who is also a senior economic adviser of the President, said the Arroyo administration will focus on upgrading the educational system in the country, including the hiring of additional teachers, construction of more classrooms and other school facilities.

“We can expect the administration to pour in more money on education and pursue the establishment of regional universities based on the recommendation for Philippine Main Education Highway,” he noted.

He said the administration is also determined to reopen and pursue peace negotiations with the National Democratic Fronts (NDF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Fronts (MILF).

“Talk is cheap… but in the peace process, talk is very critical. So, this is the only instance where talk is not cheap. At least in talking, it will put us back in the peace process,” he stressed.

Salceda further said the President will encourage more involvement from the civic society to share the burden of nationhood, especially a call for civic duty among the youth.

“Such may be the main theme of the upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the President on July 27,” he averred.

As to the achievements of the President in 2008 alone, Salceda said he gave President Arroyo a passing grade of 92 percent for handling very well the national economy, adding that she was able to overcome all crises, especially the economic slowdown.

“We are one of only nine countries that did not contract, we were still able to produce a lot more jobs,” he stressed.

“Also in 2008, the Arroyo administration devoted more on social welfare programs and services in response to fuel crisis, food, crisis, financial crisis, and then later the global economic crisis,” he added.

Salceda further stated “as far as her performance from 2001 to 2009 is concerned I will give her 82 percent and my basis was the target goal set by the President herself.”

He said President Arroyo had set her own goal for the country, wherein she was somehow able to achieve a balanced budget, automated election, and developing Subic and Clark into a world class and revenue generating economic zones.

“On education, decentralization, peace process, healing the wounds of EDSA, water and electricity, job generation, and decongestion of Manila, “all these are conditional, which means the administration needs more efforts to achieve these goals,” he averred.

He, however, noted that the administration has achieved 70 percent of the 1 million jobs target per year, wherein each year at least 700,000 jobs were generated; much has also been done to keep the prices of water and electricity stable; more infrastructure projects were completed and some are underway for Metro Manila.

In President Arroyo’s almost nine years in office, she has accomplished the much needed fiscal reforms of the government, including the P300 million additional revenues from the R-VAT, the EPIRA Law which opens the power sector from monopoly and oligarchy, and strengthening of the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) especially in Subic and Clark economic zones.

Salceda stressed the present administration has solid achievement in terms of pursuing its goal in setting the thrust “BEAT THE ODDS” in consonance with the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) 2004-2010,

“The President wants to leave a legacy of a strong economy that works for the poor, secures peace, invest in the future—basically on education, and a lot more about on education reforms,” he concluded. (MALoterte, PIA V)


MASBATE CITY—Four key infrastructure projects in Masbate province have been completed including the roll on-roll off (RO-RO) type of ports in the towns of Aroroy, Cawayan, Esperanza and San Pascual.

As part of the nautical highway, the ports, located in barangay Poblacion in Aroroy, Mahayahay in Cawayan, Poblacion in Esperanza and Poblacion in San Pascual, are expected to cut travel time and costs and boost the province’s tourism.

The Aroroy port will mean shorter travel for people bound for Sorsogon in Bicol mainland, while the Cawayan port will cut travel time for those going to Cebu and Mindanao.

On the other hand, the Esperanza port will reduce travel time for travelers going to Biliran, while the San Pascual port will mean shorter travel time for those bound for Camarines Sur in Luzon mainland.

Masbate Governor Elisa T. Kho and Rep. Rizalina Seachon observed businessmen and other stakeholders in this island-province of Masbate have started to feel economic growth spurred by the RO-RO system.

Before the four ports started their operation, the RO-RO port here had served as the province’s main gateway to Luzon and Visayas.

No less than President Macapagal-Arroyo graced the opening of the P42.95-million RO-RO port in Cawayan in April last year.

Only last April 16, the President was scheduled to lead in launching the P96.47-million RO-RO port in Aroroy and the multi-million peso port in Esperanza.

However, the deaths of an advance party of eight aides in a helicopter crash in Ifugao a week before prompted the President to send Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza to grace the opening of the ports.

The fifth RO-RO port in Masbate, located in the town of Claveria in Burias island, is on its way to completion, according to local journalists who had gone to the site.

The five projects were started in 2007 immediately after they were identified in the State of the Nation address of the President. (E.A.Delgado, PIA Masbate)


LEGAZPI CITY -- Disaster authorities heightened security measures by setting up police and military check points in designated danger zones around Mayon volcano to ensure the safety of residents in case the volcano erupts.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) chairman at Sunday's council meeting, said the measure would prevent people to trek the volcano's surrounding, the 6-km Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) and the 7-km extended danger zone at the southeast quadrant of the volcano.

Salceda said “we have to enforce the off limits rule to prevent any untoward incidence that might occur once the volcano goes at an eruptive stage.”

“The rule will apply to all residents and visitors including media reporters covering the Mayon eruption event, reinforcing the long standing policy of a 'Zero Casualty' objective of the province in times of disasters," Salceda said.

Army Col. Marlou Salazar, commanding officer of the 901st Army Brigade here, said he has set up checkpoints in 12 villages surrounding the PDZs around the volcano covering Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Polangui towns and the cities of Ligao and Legazpi.

Salazar said the brigade has deployed a battalion of soldiers to man the checkpoints and maintain security in times of evacuation.

He also reported that 15 (6X6) Army trucks and several light vehicles are on stand by for dispatch when disaster authorities declares mass evacuation procedures. The trucks can load 30 people, Salazar said.

Aside from the check points, soldiers are also holding dialogues with village officials and residents concerning rescue and evacuation procedures in times of eruptions, he said.

Salceda said under Alert Level 3 disaster authorities will have to evacuate over 8,000 people or 1,785 families living near the 6-km PDZ and under Alert level 4 around 75,144 people or 15,243 families in 39 villages around the volcano have to be move to safer grounds.

As this developed, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Mayon's alert status remains at level 2, meaning the volcano is on a moderate stage of unrest. (PNA/PIA)


PILI, Camarines Sur – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo conferred to the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur the prestigious 2009 Presidential Citation for Best Practice in Business Investment and Enabling Environment recognizing the innovative tourism initiatives of Governor Luis Ray Villafuerte.

The award was conferred during the formal ceremonies at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City as part of the celebration of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Week (MSMED Week) last July 6 to 12 as mandated by RA 9501, the amended Magna Carta for MSMEs.

The recognition specially cited Camarines Sur tourism development projects for creating a business investment and enabling environment that have paved the way for economic opportunities significantly contributing to the development of MSMEs.

This year’s MSMED Week celebration with the theme NEGOSYO, KAYA MO features for the first time the granting of Presidential Awards and Citations for best practices in MSME promotion and development.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), under the stewardship of Secretary Peter Favila, and GO NEGOSYO of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, headed by RFM top honcho Joey Concepcion, jointly spearheaded the MSMED Week.

The annual celebration of MSMED Week mandated by RA 9501 is designed to inculcate a continuing awareness of the primacy of small businesses in nation-building and people empowerment.

Noteworthy among tourism-related projects in Camarines Sur are the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) that is now a world-renowned extreme sports attraction and the Gota Village Resort that has virtually placed the province at a very prominent spot of the most favored eco-tourism destinations of the world. (DCAbad, PIA CamSur)


CAMARINES SUR Province — Some 200 talented local dancers selected from various state universities and colleges in this province will be awarded college scholarships by the Provincial Government here as part of Gov. Luis Ray Scholarship Program.

Dubbed “Search for LRay Dance Scholars”, the program is geared towards assuring continuing college education for currently enrolled college students as well as for those graduating high school scholars under the aforementioned scholarship program with talent and potential in dancing.

According to Manny Nierva, head choreographer of the Cultural Development Office (CDO), 50 students from all four congressional districts of the province will be awarded with said scholarship.

Schedule for screening is on the following dates and venues:
1. July 27, 2009 at the Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges (CSPC) Nabua for the 4th district
2. July 28, 2009 at Partido State University (PSU) for the 3rd District

3. July 30, 2009 at Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges (CSPC) Naga for the 2nd district.

Nierva meanwhile said that for the 1st district schedule, we are still negotiating with school administrators of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Ragay and Camarines Sur State Agricultural College (CSSAC) Sipocot.

He further said that announcement of the results of the screening as well as the award of scholarship will be held on August 3, 2009 at the Provincial Convention Center here.

He noted that admitted dance scholars will be required to maintain a minimum average of 85% and will be required to attend practices with their respective dance groups. DCAbad, PIA CamSur)

…highlights observance of NDCM 2009 in Camarines Norte

DAET, CAMARINES NORTE – Some 580 Super Batang Kalasag joined the 1st Super Batang Kalasag Disaster Preparedness Skills Olympics last week held in Labo town in connection with the observance of the National Disaster Consciousness Month this July.

Carlos C. Galvez, Municipal Civil Defense deputized coordinator of Labo town, said the contest areas and coverage of the Olympics focused on First Aid and Basic Life Support.

Galvez said the participants, comprised of 460 pupils from the elementary level and 120 high school students, showcased their knowledge and skills on rescue breathing, cardio pulmonary resuscitation, bandaging relay, victims carry and transport relay.

He added their skills were also put to test with the scenario problem solving on fire rescue and evacuation; fire control technique (bucket) relay; typhoon plotting/tracking relay; disaster quiz relay, problem solving/games and disaster incident reporting.

He said that a total of P127,000 cash prizes and participation incentives were given to the participants.

He explained that the Super Batang Kalasag (Super BK) is the youth version of the Barangay Emergency Response Teams wherein the Super BK insures sustainability and continuity of the BERTs project since when Super BK members reached the maturity they automatically qualify to be a BERTs member.

The activity was spearheaded by the Municipal Government of Labo headed by Mayor Winefredo Oco, in cooperation with the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Bicol, Department of Education (DepEd) Labo East and West District, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Labo and the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Camarines Norte Chapter.

This year’s theme for the NDCM runs “Pag alerto, malayo sa peligro”. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


MANILA — “Everything is now being put in place,” so said S/Supt. Leonardo Espina, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson, in an interview.

Espina issued the statement in relation to the security plan being implemented by the PNP, including the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in strategic areas in Metro Manila in coordination with the PNP – National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) for the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on July 27, 2009.

The PNP spokesman said that aside from the installation of CCTV cameras, the PNP, the rally organizers and Quezon City Mayor Belmonte will meet on July 22, 2009 to iron OUT matters that may cause security concerns during the event.

He explained that the PNP is doing this to install peace, security and road traffic ease for the general public despite rally groups’ protest actions.

In a related story, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Leila De Lima said that emotions are expected to rise because this is the last SONA of the incumbent President.

She pointed out that protest actions should be given leeway as this is a way for people to express themselves to the government. (PIA V Release)

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is determined to eradicate terror and pursue a lasting peace throughout the country.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Golez, in a radio interview Sunday (July 19), said that one of the major priorities of President Arroyo is to promote peace by keeping all Filipinos safe.

When asked about the recent lifting of the suspension of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), Golez pointed out that when two opposite groups sit together to discuss an agreement, it is already “a first step towards peace.”

Golez noted that President Arroyo is hopeful that the problem with the communist rebels will soon be over and that peace will reign all over the country.

The lifting of the suspension of JASIG allows communist rebel negotiators to prepare for the resumption of formal peace talks to be held in Oslo, Norway next month.

It can be recalled that peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) collapsed in 2005 after the United States tagged the NPA as a foreign terrorist organization.

Negotiations with the MILF also bogged down in August 2007 following the aborted signing of the controversial memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) that triggered renewed fighting between government forces and the MILF.

However, during that period, the government continued its efforts to conduct back-channeling negotiations for the resumption of peace talks. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — A Palace official on Saturday (June 17) said that Filipino voters should be more discerning in choosing the candidates that they are planning to support in next year’s polls.

In a radio interview, Deputy Spokesperson Lorelie Fajardo pointed out that Filipino voters should look into the political platforms of the presidential aspirants, their backgrounds as well as their performances in their current posts since most of them are incumbent officials holding various positions in the government.

Fajardo challenged the candidates eyeing the presidential post in 2010 to present their platforms to the Filipino people so the voters may have more time to carefully study their plans for the country.

When asked if she thinks that Pampanga Governor Eddie Panlilio is a formidable candidate for next year’s elections, Fajardo said that the former priest is indeed popular to the masses but it is only up to the voters to discern who they think is the best candidate for the position.

Fajardo added that she is happy for her “kabalen” since he has many supporters and this would be the good start for him to present his agenda for next year’s elections.

The Deputy Spokesperson also reiterated the statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that elections will push through next year as planned.

President Arroyo made this assurance on Friday -- first, during her regular regional media interview by Ms. Ethel Cantor-Constantino of NBN-4 and second, at the culmination of the Zero Basura Caravan 2009 of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.

The Chief Executive pointed out that those who questioned the certainty of next year’s polls undermine the government’s commitment to vibrant democracy. (PIA V Release)


MANILA— Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the Department of Health (DOH) is set to submit a draft Executive Order to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this coming Wednesday that will bring down the prices of drugs.

Duque, in an interview over the radio Monday, said the draft EO will recommend the maximum retail price (MRP) of some 21 sensitive drugs which will take effect on August 15 this year after pharmaceutical companies failed to comply with the deadline to lower the prices of the said drugs.

The drug manufacturers during the weekend submitted a proposal and list to the DOH to bring down prices of a list of medicines that address major public health concerns such as hypertension, diabetes, common infections, and cancer, among others.

The list was transmitted by the Executive Director Reiner Gloor of the Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) where it contained a summary of the medicines being offered and their respective price reductions. It carried the proposals of both PHAP member companies and some non-PHAP members.

The PHAP met the deadline given by Malacañang for them to submit a proposal on how to make commonly prescribed medicines cheaper to the people.

The drugs covered by PHAP's proposal include: amlopidine, telmisartan, irbesartan, which are anti-hypertensive drugs; clopidogrel, an anti-thrombotic drug; the anti-cholesterol drug, atorvastatin; the anti-diabetic drug, gliclazide; piperacillin + tazobactam, ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, metronidazole and co-amoxiclave, which are anti-biotic drugs; bleomycin, carboplatin, cisplatin, cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, doxorubicin, etoposide, mercaptopurine, methotrexate sodium and mesna, which are anti-cancer drugs.

The DOH and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reviewed the list over the weekend. However, Duque said drug manufacturers failed to lower the prices of the said 21 drugs so they will submit an EO as a recommendation to President Arroyo to bring down their prices by August 15.

Duque said the government made sure that the price reductions for the 21 drugs are consistent with the 50% price reduction policy that has been adopted. (PIA V Release)