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

Saturday, January 30, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY — The Provincial Government of Albay has slated the implementation of the Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme (AHECS) this coming school year 2010-2011 that will benefit graduating high school and college students in the province.

Salceda said that AHECS is a concessional loan facility, adopting the Australian model, to motivate students from Albay province to finish high school because the provincial government assures them of easy access to tertiary education upon graduation.

He explained that the loan facility entails a deferred payment scheme, that is, AHECS pays fraction of school fees to the school and so to the student, adding that the same program offers P5,000 pesos loan per semester.

AHECS is an expanded version of the Brilliant Young Teacher (BRYT) and an education assistance program catered to community colleges and Bicol University satellite campuses offering tuition fee refund to qualified student-resident of Albay.

Salceda stressed that every family deserves to produce a new Albayano capable of attaining his personal happiness and well-being, fully deserving to occupy a rightful place in the society.
“The provincial government needs to complement the efforts of the parents thus intends to meet the learning needs of the individual and to improve the quality of life,” he said.

AHECS is open to all Albayanos, who are high school graduates or college students enrolled in accredited Albay-based Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and technical vocational schools taking up a minimum of two-year course.

Salceda further said that AHECS does not prohibit the granting of loans to old and returning students at any levels from HEIs and technical vocational schools; neither has it prohibited the granting of loans to new students and transferees nor the course preference required and maintaining grade.

The guidelines also sets that AHECS grantees must finish the study in the prescribed course, regularly inform the provincial government, including change of name in case of female grantee, residents and employment.

It states that the loan shall bear an interest of rate of 10 percent per annum. Monthly amortization will be seven percent of gross monthly earnings of the grantees until fully paid.

The provincial government will require loan payment after the completion of the prescribed course, when the grantee decided to stop availing the loan, and upon employment. In case the grantee stops it shall be considered a breach of agreement and the parent is immediately obliged to settle the availed loan.

This year, the provincial government has allocated an amount of P16 million for AHECS alone and P328 million for educational assistance program.

Albay provincial government has been aggressive in promoting universal access to education, also through the Project Education Quality for Albayanos (EQUAL) providing education assistance or tuition fee refund to all Albayanos enrolled in eight community colleges and three Bicol University local campuses. (MALoterte, PIA V)


PILI, Camarines Sur — Governor LRay Villafuerte has topped the list of well-known personalities named in the “Visionaries List: 100 names to reckon with in the 2010 elections” of the prestigious 100 Magazine.

Villafuerte was cited for his development initiatives, including but not limited to the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC), considered the best wake cable park in the world, and transformation into a world-class of the natural attractions and facilities in Caramoan town catapulting the province into the top among tourism destinations of the country.

Barely a week ago, Camarines Sur was adjudged “Top Destination of the Year” by People Asia. Furthermore, the province’s domestic tourist arrivals increased by 163 percent while foreign visitors by 29 percent last year.

Aside from his inclusion in the list of noted personalities in the 100 Magazine, Villafuerte also keynoted the launching of the magazine Wednesday (January 27) at the Bonifacio High Street Activity Center, The Fort in Taguig City.

100 Magazine third issue, featuring national and local politicians, intends to boost the nationalistic spirit of the idealistic youth and to serve as inspirations to future leaders.

Other personalities in the visionaries list include Rep. Cynthia Villar, Atty. Adel Tamano and Taguig Mayor Freddie Tinga.

On December 2009, the governor also earned three other accolades in prestigious magazine All New Power 88, a yearbook published by Fookien Times for individuals who represent the next generation of business movers and shakers.

The governor was also conferred the BREW Award (BizNews Asia Real Estate Who’s Who) which recognizing entrepreneurs, tycoons and taipans who made a mark in the field of real estate and in enhancing the lifestyle and lives of Filipinos.

He was also in the cover highlight in the December, 2009 issue of the BizNews Asia magazine. (STNieves, MMEC/PIA)


SORSOGON Province — Police Officer 3 Judith Daria–Olbes, non-commissioned officer of the Sorsogon Police Provincial Office (SPPO) was named among the 8th Search of the Ten Outstanding Police Women of the Year (TOPWP) 2009.

Olbes is the first lady law enforcer in this province feted with said recognition receiving the TOPWP Kabalikat Awards trophy.

She also received cash prize from ZONTA Club of Makati Paseo de Roxas Foundation, gift certificate from the Arms Corporation Philippines (ARMSCOR) and the Outstanding Achievement Medal from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

PSSupt. Heriberto Olitoquit, police provincial director here, stated that among hundreds of nominees from the police commissioned and non–commissioned officers across the country, 28 were chosen finalists and wherefore named the deserving ten outstanding police women of the country.

“Olbes indeed deserves the recognition considering her dedication and exemplary work significantly contributing to the cause of peace and order in the local community,” related Olitoquit.

It can be recalled that Olbes was part of the successful implementation of PNP programs bridging the gap between the police and the community, including the Expanded Community Orienting Polishing System (ECOPS) that focused on the promotion of public’s health; “Kampo ng Bayan sa Lawasnon” showcasing sports development, as well as the maintenance of heightened security at the Sorsogon Baywalk.

Likewise, Olbes initiated the “Malusog na Bata, Malusog na Bansa” program targeting children in the remote barangays to be their feeding program recepients, the “Konting Tulong ni Mama at Aleng Pulis” where they chipped-in certain amount from their own pocket and used this to realize the “Kaarawang Handog ni Mama at Aleng Pulis” and the distribution of slippers, food and school supplies to children.

Olbes who is currently the SPPO’s Family Juvenile and Gender and Development PNCO is an active officer of Sorsogon Women’s Network and Development (SWND) and Visayan Forum Foundation respectively working on women and children’s welfare.

In an interview, Olbes, though didn’t expect she can really make it to the top, extends her utmost gratitude to the past provincial chiefs of SPPO including PSSupt Joel Regondola, PSSupt Henry Rañola and to PSSupt Heriberto Olitoquit, the present PD. “I am also grateful to PSupt Edgardo Ardales, Deputy Prov’l Director PSupt Elmer Ferreras and to the Non-Uniformed Personnel as well as the Police Non-Commissioned and Commissioned officers of SPPO,” she added.

Other awardees are: PSupt Lailene Amparo – Marilao Police Station, Bulacan Provincial Office (PO), Police Regional Office(PRO) 3; PCI Delia Ingalla – Taguig City PO, Southern Police District, NCRPO; PSI Lerma Tirana – Regional Police Community Relations Division, NCRPO; SPO1 Marifel Cortez – Butuan City PO, PRO 13; PO3 Zorayda Aripin – Zamboanga City PO, PRO 9; PO3 Ruth Poserio – Sta. Barbara Police Station, Pangasinan PRO, Police Regional Office 1; PO3 Lilybeth Pascual – WCPD PNCO-Camarines Sur Police Provincial Office (PPO), PRO 5; PO2 Famela Suba – Cabiao Police Station, Nueva Ecija PPO, PRO 3; PO2 Rina Salaya – Maasin Municipal Police Station, Iloilo PPO, PRO 6.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself conferred the award to the Ten Outstanding Police Women of the Philippines, Jan. 13, at Rizal Hall in Malacañang.
These awardees that make up this year’s TOPWP were chosen for the honor by the ZONTA Club of Makati Paseo de Roxas Foundation and the Philippine National Police.
(Bennie A. Recebido, PIA Sorsogon)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Technology Resource Center (TRC) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) invites students of public and private higher education institutions to join the “TeknoBiz Idea Challenge” to be held in conjunction with the 1st Techno Partnering Forum to be hosted by TRC on February 24, 2010.

Evolving on the theme: Merging Business with Technology, the event typifies a youth business idea contest designed hone their creativity and entrepreneurial skills to become successful techno-preneurs in the future.

DOST’s promotional papers states that entries on technology-based ideas should be innovative, must not have been introduced elsewhere in the country and have market acceptability both to the Philippine and foreign markets.

It added that the entries must be endorsed and signed by the school’s authorized representative (College Dean or President) shall be accepted.

The entry form and requisite proofs of registration shall likewise be submitted in a folder in two sets and similarly labeled on the outside for easy and clear identification.

Elimination will be held on January 27, 2010 and winners will be duly notified by the Contest Secretariat through email and call-out.

Pre-requisites for participation include the following:

a) All registered students should submit their technology-based business idea between December 15, 2009 and February 5, 2010.
b) Must be a bonafide student of a CHED-accredited educational institution or a state college/university during the abovementioned period. Proof of enrolment in the form of a photocopy of each team member’s Registration Form or school I.D. for SY 09-10 must be attached to the Entry Form.
c) Must comply with all contest entry requirements (eligibility, entry form, formats for concept paper and presentation, and school endorsement) per information kit.
d) Must agree to abide by the TeknoBiz Idea Challenge contest rules and the decision of TRC, the Contest Organizer.
e) Students may opt to form a team but should not be more than five. All team members must be enrolled in the same school.
f) A student can be a member of only one team.

In addition, participants are required to submit a concept paper or the executive summary of their business technology idea. Participant are also encouraged to submit a prototype/model/design mock-up/sample product to support their idea.

Entries must be submitted to TRC’s Technology Livelihood & Information Dissemination Services Group (TLIDSG), TRC Bldg., #103 J. Abad Santos St., Little Baguio, San Juan City, Metro Manila 1500 with contact nos. (632) 727-6205 locals 201 or 206 (telephone); (632) 721-0063 (fax) and tlidsg@yahoo.com (email/Mr. JC Amobit, Junior Technical Expert as contact person) on or before 5:00 p.m. on January 31, 2010 and to consider the other contest timeline as follows:

Deadline for submission of entries : February 5, 2010
Announcement of 10 Finalists : February 12, 2010
Presentation at the Technology Forum/
Final Judging : February 23, 2010
Awarding Ceremonies : February 24, 2010

All basic criteria must be met and judging will be based on the following factors:

Innovativeness - 25%
Market Potential - 25%
Feasibility (Philippine Contest) - 25%
Social Impact - 15%
Environment Friendly - 10%
T o t a l 100%

The DOST-TRC TeknoBiz Idea Challenge: Merging Business with Technology is a great opportunity for enterprising Bicolano college students who have excellent achievements in Business and Technology to participate in said youth competition. (POLucena, DOST V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITYY — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), has reaffirmed it commitment and relentlessly pursued climate change adaptation and mitigation information and education drives

DENR Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada stated the agency has since last year provided technical assistance to local government units (LGUs) on climate change adaptation and mitigation planning activities and intensified enforcement of air pollution laws to contain emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Fragada pointed out that Republic Act No. 9728 or the Climate Change Act of 2009 signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on October 23, 2009 explicitly mandates local government units to be “the frontline services in the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas.”

He noted that DENR has long been a partner of LGUs in crafting measures to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change

“These include the implementation of smoke belching regulation to contain the excessive emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from transport vehicles, provision of technical support for Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM), particularly in setting up and operation of material recovery facilities and sanitary land fills,” he said.

DENR has recently been assisting LGUs in planning formulation of mitigation and adaptation projects to address global warming and climate change.

Fragada also said that the DENR Regional Public Affairs Office (RPAO) has been complementing the climate change advocacy of the EMB thru press and broadcast releases to local newspapers, radio and television, and production of information materials on climate change which are distributed to school libraries, barangay information centers (GMACs) and other institutions and individuals.

DENR-RPAO staff also provided library services and assistance to researchers on climate change.

Fragada recently created the Climate Change Regional Desk which will provide focus assistance to students, teachers, local government officials and other persons seeking information on climate change. (AMContreras, DENR/PIA)


SORSOGON CITY— Police operatives here arrested a drug pusher in a buy bust operation last Monday (January 25) in Purok Dapdap, Barangay Balogo, this city.

Joint elements of the Sorsogon Police Provincial Safety Management Company and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Bicol, led by Intelligence Officer Juan Arnel Lasay apprehended one Antonio Labitag Y Peralta, 34 yrs. old, single and a resident of said barangay while selling marijuana to some students of Sorsogon National High School (SNHS) around 6:45 pm.

Initial investigation shoed that majority of his clients are students from the said school.

Confiscated from Labitag are four (4) sachets of marijuana leaves, Php200.00 marked money and one (1) 1100 unit cellphone.

Labitag is also an active barangay tanod in Balogo and already in the authority’s watch list since 2009.

The suspect is now under the custody of PDEA ROV Legazpi City in Albay for further investigation for record filing purposes and inquest proceedings.

Lasay said the feat has manifested the local authority’s commitment to intensify anti-drug campaign activities here. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)

2009 GDP growth within target

MANILA — Fuelled by government spending and Christmas retail sales, the Philippine economy grew by 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, pushing the full-year growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), or the sum of goods and services produced in the country, to 0.9 percent.

This was within government’s target range of between 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent but lower than the previous year’s growth of 3.8 percent.

“The positive GDP growth is a clear indication that the country has already survived the worst effects of the global economic crunch,” Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar said in a press briefing today after the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) released this morning its latest economic data.

The Philippines is one of only a few Asian countries that escaped recession last year.

If remittances are factored in, the country grew by three percent last year compared to the previous year’s 6.2 percent.

This year, the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) projects GDP growth of between 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent.

Olivar said another 0.5 percent may be added to this year’s GDP due to the massive rehabilitation of Luzon as a result of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year.

Earlier, the World Bank revised its GDP forecast of the Philippines from 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent. (PIA V Release)

PGMA stresses importance of education

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called on Thursday (January 28) the youth to get involved in a positive way in the civic life of the nation by helping ensure free, fair and non-violent elections.

The President, during a visit to the Holy Spirit College of Manila in Mendiola, the second in a series of campus tours aimed at reaching out to the youth, also urged the students to finish their college courses “because education is a ticket to a better life.”

According to the President, the combined budgets of the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education has doubled during her term, from P90 billion to P180 billion.

To improve the quality of education, she said, more classrooms were built—100,000 so far— especially in far-flung barangays.

She added that teachers were trained, especially in English, Math, and Science so that they can prepare their students for global competition. For the poorest of the poor, she also said, cash allowance is given to encourage them to keep their children in school.

“I want to instill in our youth pride in our nation and a desire to get involved in the civic life of their country. To that end, I call on the youth to help our society become more safe and less violent,” the President said.

The President said her administration has worked hard to ensure a safe and peaceful nation by putting an end to kidnapping, insurgency and terrorism.

The President’s visit to the College of the Holy Spirit is the second in her campus tour. The first campus she visited was the Don Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte Wednesday. (PIA V Release)

PGMA all set to sign Senior Citizens Act of 2010

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is set to sign into law another major social legislation—the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010—that will exempt the country’s estimated 4.6 million senior citizens from paying the 12 percent expanded value added tax (EVAT) and thus enable them to enjoy fully a 20 percent discount on the purchase of essential goods and services.

The original law, Republic Act 7432, gives senior citizens the discount. However, since the elderly are required to pay EVAT like anybody else, the discount has been effectively reduced to only eight percent.

The measure, titled “An Act Granting Additional Benefits and Privileges to Senior Citizens, Further Amending Republic Act No 7432, also known as “An Act to Maximize the Contributions of Senior Citizens to Nation Building, Grant Benefits and Special Privileges, and for Other Purposes,” was passed by both Houses of Congress on Wednesday.

It is this jointly approved measure that President Arroyo intends to sign.

House Speaker Prospero Nograles has described it as “early Valentine's gift to senior citizens.”

The bill exempts senior citizens, or those who are 60 years and above, from paying the 12 percent EVAT on medicines and essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment; fees of attending physicians; medical, dental fees and diagnostic and laboratory fees; fares for buses, jeepneys, taxis, AUVs, shuttle services, public railways, domestic air and sea transport craft.

The tax privilege also applies to services in hotels, restaurants and similar establishments; admission fees in cinemas, theaters and other places of culture, leisure and amusement; and funeral and burial services.

Additionally, the bill provides each senior citizen a monthly stipend of P500, subject to the periodic review of Congress in coordination with the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD).

In case of death of an indigent senior citizen, the amount of P2,000 will also be awarded to his or her nearest kin as benefit assistance.

Under the bill, senior citizens may also enjoy a five percent discount on their water and electric bills on condition that the utilities are in the name of senior citizen, and that the consumption is below 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 30 cubic meters of water a month.

The measure also expands the penalties for those who refuse to grant the benefits. Establishments and their owners, managers and personnel found violating any provision of the law face a penalty of not less than P10,000 but not more than P50,000, or imprisonment of at least one month but not more than six months.

Administration allies in both houses of Congress said the new measure will form part of the legacy President Arroyo is leaving the Filipino people when she steps down in June. It was early in her term, in 2003, when the original law on senior citizens benefits –RA 7432—was passed.

Rep. Reynaldo Uy (Samar), and Rep. Eduardo Zialcita (Parañaque) and Sen. Pia Cayetano, principal sponsors of the bill, hailed the measure as timely and very beneficial to many Filipinos.

Cayetano said approval of the measure would allow the senior citizens to enjoy fully the 20 percent senior citizens discount that was originally envisioned for them under Republic Act 7342.

Cayetano explained that the senior citizen’s discount has been effectively reduced to only eight percent since seniors were also required to pay the 12-percent VAT in their purchase of medicines, good and services. (PIA V Release)

Firm thanks PGMA for helping BPO sector

MANILA — Hinduja Global Solutions Inc. (HGSI) today thanked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for nurturing the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, thus enabling it to grow from just 4,000 workers in 2001 to half a million workers last year.

The President led the ribbon cutting and unveiling of the marker opening HGSI’s 3,000-seat facility located at 1880 Building in Eastwood Center, Libis, Quezon City.

In a press conference, Partha de Sarkar, chief executive officer, said HGSI is expanding this year to other urban centers of the country, notably Clark, Tarlac, Cavite, Batangas, and Laguna, all in Luzon; Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas; and Cagayan de Oro and Davao in Mindanao.

Last year, the company’s operations grew by 20 percent and generated revenues of $16 million. It is projecting higher growth this year, with the economy recovering in most parts of the world, said HGSI Manila chief executive officer Pushkar Misra.

HGSI’s investments in the Philippines stand at $35 million, including the cost of acquiring the facility of another BPO in 2003. With additional investments this year, the company expects to double the number of its employees.

The company currently has 80 clients in different industries around the world. It employs 14,500 people in the US, Canada, Europe, Mauritius, India, and the Philippines. It also has a working relationship with partners in Colombia, China and Japan, all employing over 1,800 people. (PIA V Release)

6 OFWs return from Haiti; OWWA assures them of livelihood

MANILA — Six of the 64 Filipinos who were evacuated from Haiti arrived in Manila Friday morning, as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) assured them of assistance to help ameliorate the impact of losing their livelihood following the devastating earthquake that hit the Caribbean country two weeks ago.

The repatriates arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 at 6 a.m. on board Philippine Airlines flight PR 103.

They are Gregoria Bacurin, Donna Bacurin, Rochelle Cruz, Sonny Maning, Mikaela Santos and Rosario Santos.

"We know they have been through a traumatic experience and they will not forget it," OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon said as she led OWWA staff in extending arrival assistance at the airport.

Other officials from the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Social Welfare and Development were likewise on hand to help.
This first batch of repatriates is part of 64 Filipinos evacuated from Haiti, which was hit by a disastrous earthquake last January 12.

They were first transported to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and then took connecting flights to Florida and Los Angeles, from where they were flown home.

Another batch is expected to come home over the weekend.

Dimzon said some of the workers were not able to process their visa.
The Philippine government said the DFA and DOLE are shouldering expenses for the repatriation while OWWA and DSWD will provide psycho-social as well as reintegration assistance to the repatriates. (PIA V Release)

Thursday, January 28, 2010


SORSOGON CITY — The approval of creation of the 16 new cities would create budgetary problems to existing cities in the country, including Sorsogon City.

Sorsogon City Mayor Leovic Dioneda lamented that some P30 million will be cut from the city’s annual internal revenue allotment (IRA) the moment Supreme Court (SC) upholds the ruling for sixteen towns to become new cities.

It can be noted that in December last year, the high court approved the motion for reconsideration filed by the counsel of sixteen towns on SC’s earlier decision denying the petition of said towns for city hood.

The Supreme Court reversed its decision saying the sixteen towns have already met the legal requirements set by the law for city hood status.

Dioneda, however, clariefied that he does not object the conversion of towns into cities, he only would like concerned authorities to study the repercussions of the decision, specifically to existing cities after the approval.

“By conversion of these towns into new cities, the existing 120 cities in the country including Sorsogon City will likely to suffer an enormous annual cut from its IRA,” said Dioneda.

“This will affect some of the city’s programs and social services whose funding was already included in the 2010 budget which we have already passed last year,” he added.

As of press time, the Treasurer’s Office here averred that the expected cut in IRA for this city has not yet taken effect.

Nevertheless, it would learn of the cut in IRA once the amount will be deducted from the IRA it will receive from the national government on a monthly basis.

Some P2.5 million to P2.75 million can be slashed to its monthly IRA affecting the budget of city government this year.

Meanwhile, the former towns declared qualified to become cities by vitue of the recent Supreme Court decision are Batac in Ilocos Norte, Baybay in Leyte, Bayugan in Agusan del Sur, Bogo in Cebu, Borongan in Eastern Samar, Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte, Carcar in Cebu, Catbalogan in Samar, El Salvador in Misamis Oriental, Guihulngan in Negros Oriental, Lamitan in Basilan, Mati in Davao Oriental, Naga in Cebu, Tabuk in Kalinga, Tandag in Surigao del Sur and Tayabas in Quezon Province. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


LEGAZPI CITY— The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol on Friday included the Baros River in Iriga City in the list of classified water bodies in the country.

In Memorandum Circular No. 17, dated Dec. 23, 2009 signed by then DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, and which was published in the Dec. 30, 2009 issue of The Philippine Star, Baros River was among the 27 Rivers and 2 Bays officially classified pursuant to DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 34, series of 1990 and in accordance with the Manual of Procedure for Water Classification.

The circular said that the Baros River was classified as “Class B” and as such its beneficial use is primary contact recreation such as bathing, swimming, skin diving, etc. (particularly those designated for tourism purposes).

The Circular requires industrial establishments, business, commercial and agricultural firms, political subdivisions, government-owned or controlled corporations and other similar entities and instrumentality, including persons discharging liquid wastes into said water bodies to “observe and comply with the foregoing classification. (ASAraya, DENR V/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte — Mantagbac (Barangay IV) of this town notched the top place in the 2008 Search for Child Friendly Barangay in Camarines Norte province

Mantagbac bagged some P60,000 prize money and a plaque of recognition.

Barangay Calamunding of Labo town capped the second spot receiving P40,000; Barangay III in Vinzons won P30,000 for the third place; Barangay Capacuan in Paracale won fourth place winning P20,000; Barangay San Ramon in San Lorenzo Ruiz received P10,000 for the fifth spot; and Barangay Poblacion in Capalonga landed on the sixth place gaining P5,000 cash prize. A plaque of recognition was also given each to winners and participating local government units (LGUs).

Criteria for judging were based on the programs implemented in health, maternal care, education, child protection, children’s participation and family practices.

The awards program commenced in 2003, spearheaded by the Provincial Government of Camarines Norte, in cooperation with the Provincial Evaluation Team composed of Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), Provincial Health Office (PHO), Community Affairs Office (CAO), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Philippine National Police (PNP).

Financial assistance were also given to the seven disparity barangays seriously affected by typhoon Santi, including Osmeña, P10,000; Parang, P20,000; San Rafael, P10,000, all of Jose Panganiban town; Bagumbayan, 15,000; Batobalani, P20,000; and Palanas, P15,000, all of Paracale town; and San Lorenzo of Sta. Elena town 10,000. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


DAET, CAMARINES NORTE – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) bared that 86 percent coverage among Filipinos has already been achieved, according to the agency’s top official during a press conference and meeting with stakeholders held here recently.

Dr. Rey B Aquino, PhilHealth president and CEO, said that the number exceeds the 85 percent target set on February 14, 2010, in time for the agency’s 15 years of service.

Aquino added that PhilHealth has also accredited some 1,500 hospitals and 20,000 doctors.

He explained that an average of 60 percent of the amount to be paid by a patient is being shouldered by the PhilHealth.

He stressed that they have standards for hospital accreditation including the purchase of medicines and they will on watch on the alleged fraud of hospitals in claiming patient’s benefits.

He cited that benefits in PhilHealth are given equally among members even contributions are not the same.

PhilHealth members include employees, overseas workers, lifetime members, individual paying members and family health card identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and enlisted by the local government units.

Aquino announced that PhilHealth has a funding totaling to P105 million pesos to carry out is programs and service, adding that any centavo from the fund will never be used in politics as reported in 2004 and proven by the court wrong. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


PILI, Camarines Sur — The burgeoning stature of Camarines Sur as a popular tourist destination has been reaffirmed by the People Asia as “Top Destination of the Year”.

People Asia, on its “People of the Year” awards program, cited Camarines Sur for its outstanding achievements in tourism development during the magazine’s 10th anniversary celebration held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza on January 21, this year.

It was deemed certain and indubitable for Camarines Sur to receive the special tourism citation in view of the recent rise in both domestic and foreign tourists arrival in the province, for certain periods even eclipsing the popularity of other established tourist destinations in the likes of Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Subic and Davao.

Camarines Sur ranked first among tourist destinations in the country for the first semester of 2009 and posted the most impressive overall tourists arrival growth as much as 163 percent and 29 percent growth in domestic and foreign tourists arrival, respectively, for the last quarter.

Camarines Sur’s popularity as a tourism site has emanated from the innovative development initiatives of Governor LRay Villafuerte, setting up the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC), now considered the best wake cable park in the world and now a center of extreme sports having been the venue nation of national and international wakeboarding, dragon boat and triathlon competitions.

The large-scale tourism development has been carried out in Caramoan Peninsula, showcasing Gota Village Resort where the franchise version of Survivor reality show series of the countries of France, Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia were shot on location in outlying islands.

International recognition of the province’s tourism magnetism was further bolstered by being selected as top tourism destination by Top Resa Paris, the biggest travel and tourism forum in Europe, and being chosen as the world’s best eco-tourism destination by Nature magazine.

The recent accolade as top tourism destination is expected to go a long way towards fortifying the province’s stature as the country’s premiere tourism site as well as a world-class, globally competitive spot in the tourism map of the world. (GBClaveria, MMEC/PIA)

DBP presents P2.5 B check to PGMA

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo received Monday (January 25) a ceremonial check of P2.5 billion representing DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) dividend payment to the national government for 2009.

Patricia Sto. Tomas and Reynaldo David, chairperson and president, respectively, of the state-owned bank presented the check to the President and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves during the bank’s 63rd anniversary celebration held at the DBP Head Office in Makati.

With the amount, the total dividend received by the national government out of DBP operation from 2001 to 2009 now stands at P11.4 billion.

According to David, 2009 was a banner year for the bank. It posted a net income of P6.09 billion then, up from P263.25 billion the previous year. He said DBP owes this achievement to the President’s support.

The President was presented a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding between DBP and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), which puts in place an integrated assistance program for overseas Filipino workers .

Being prepared under this program are mini gas station dealerships and other livelihood projects for OFWs and their dependents.

At the celebration, the President unveiled a scale model of the new DBP Green Building soon to be constructed at the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

The builders will utilize eco-friendly architectural designs, thus the name. It will use solar power, for instance, for its energy requirements.

Also, President Arroyo was shown the gold trowel her father, the late President Diosdado Macpagal, used to lay the cornerstone of the present DBP building 46 years ago. She intends to use the same trowel to launch construction of the DBP’s future building.

The anniversary celebration highlighted the bank’s contributions to the Ten-Point Agenda of the Arroyo administration, particularly in four major areas---infrastructure and logistics; schools and hospitals; micro, small and medium entrepreneurship; and the environmental.

The bank traces its history to 1947 when it was established as the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation tasked to provide credit for the development of agriculture, commerce and industry, and the reconstruction of properties damaged by the war.

In 1958, RFC was renamed DBP and reorganized to take on activities designed to accelerate national development. (PIA V Release)

RP mission to Haiti calls on PGMA

MANILA — The Philippine medical team that will conduct a humanitarian mission in Haiti called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacañang Monday afternoon (January 25) before its scheduled flight this evening to the earthquake-ravaged country.

Dr. Emmanuel Bueno led the 21-member team, composed of five surgeons, two orthopedics, three general surgeons, two anesthesiologists, five nurses, three epidemiologists, and two engineers.

Joining the President were Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos, Jr.

In her brief remarks, the President thanked the members of the team for volunteering their services to help their unfortunate Haitian brothers and sisters.

“It is our obligation to help,” the President said. “We know how it feels to be stricken, having been hit by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, and Frank. We too received international humanitarian aid.”

The President said the country is short on funds, but it has good doctors and nurses willing to extend help to calamity victims.

For his part, Conejos informed the President that as of now, the first batch of OFWs in Haiti is arriving on Friday. He said 67 out of 290 Filipinos in that country want to come home. (PIA V Release)

JBC tacitly recognizes PGMA’s right to appoint CJ’s replacement

MANILA — The Judicial and Bar Council has impliedly recognized the authority and obligation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint the replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno when he retires on May 17.

Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the JBC has done so by opening the nomination process to prepare a shortlist of possible replacements.

“The JBC is chaired by no less than the chief justice of the Supreme Court,” Bello pointed out in an interview on DZRB, a government–owned radio station. “So when it submits to the President the list of nominees, which is an implied recognition of the authority and power of the President to make the appointment.”

Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez had disclosed that JBC, in an en banc meeting on Jan. 18, unanimously voted to open the nomination for the still-to-be vacated position of chief justice.

Under the Constitution, Bello stressed, the President has the power and obligation to appoint the chief justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Sandiganbayan. (PIA V Release)

PGMA assures foreign media there will be no failure of election

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has assured foreign correspondents there will be no failure of elections in May.

In a dinner she hosted for the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) at the Palace Friday (January 22), the President said she was assured by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that it is doing its best to complete the automated poll system before May. She said all the funds necessary for holding the national elections have been disbursed.

The President also said she will continue to focus on her 3Es—education, economy and environment –-program for the rest of her term.

The President added the country will maintain its stimulus program this year “as no other country in the world has scrapped its stimulus program.”

Last year, government’s P330 billion stimulus program helped the economy post positive growth and escape recession. This year, government is expected to spend at least P100 billion but not more than P300 billion to stimulate the economy.

The 22 FOCAP officers and members described the dinner as very relaxed, with discussions wide-ranging. “The President did not obviously look at any timepiece, which is her trademark,” remarked FOCAP president Jim Gomez, who writes for the Associated Press.

Talks mainly dwelt on her life in Iligan City where she grew up, her three years as a professor, and her two years as a classmate of former American President William Clinton.

Prior to the dinner, the President had French wine and cocktail canapés with her guests and she spoke lengthily about the late Cerge Remonde, recalling her most recent conversations with her eighth press secretary.

The President was candid about her feelings over the loss of Remonde and told the FOCAP that she is flying to Cebu tomorrow, Sunday, to attend the burial of Remonde.

The President deftly parried questions on politics, saying that she wanted the dinner to be light and easy as possible.

On whether a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is forthcoming, the President said negotiations are ongoing and “we are hopeful to reach an agreement very soon.” (PIA V Release)

Cerge laid to rest in hometown

ARGAO, Cebu -- Press Secretary Cerge Remonde was laid to rest here Sunday (January 24), in his hometown, thus closing the final chapter of the storied career of a poor country boy who achieved his dreams through hard work, perseverance, and, most of all, faith in God.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo joined Marit Remonde, nee Stinus of Denmark, family members, friends, provincial and town officials, and people of all walks of life in the funereal march to the public cemetery this afternoon.

Interment took place after the 12:30 afternoon mass at the St. Michael Archangel, a church built in the 15th century.

The late Press secretary had been given full military honors and welcomed to the church with the tolling of the bells. He was earlier conferred the rank of lieutenant colonel in the reserve force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The officiating priest, Msgr. Cris Garcia, recalled that for the past 20 years he and Cerge had ridden the galleon float together in the procession on the eve of the feast of the Señor Sto. Nino de Cebu.

According to the priest, he could observe the man’s devotion and strong faith in God as he intently prayed every time.

At the mass, Mrs. Remonde, spoke to tell her husband’s townmates and friends that the man she met and married 17 years ago, "was then broke but had strong conviction to attain his dreams."

“And he shared his dreams with me. I know Cerge was able to live all those dreams. Whenever he went, whatever he did, whatever conviction he held, he always did it differently than anybody else. He always made an impact. He always touched more lives than anybody else,” the widow said.

For his part, Hemres Alburo, thanked the public for the outpouring of love and support and the President for trusting his half-brother enough to make him a member of her Cabinet.

Among those present at the mass and interment were Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, and Cebu officials led by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Cebu congressmen and Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos.

It was Gen. Victor Ibrado, AFP chief of staff, who entered the name of the deceased in the roster of reserve officers in ceremonies held at the President Diosdado Macapagal-Arroyo Sports Complex.

Mrs. Remonde and Alburo received the uniform and insignia.

At the necrological rites on Saturday night, Mayor Edcel Galeos, a childhood friend, said “the people of Argao will always remember Cerge as a humble and hard working man who did not let poverty get in the way.”

“Although the people of Argao are in deep mourning, they at the same time are celebrating the wonderful and exemplary life of Cerge, who serves as a beacon of hope to future generations,” Galeos said.

The 200 students who received scholarships through the intercession of the late press secretary promised to work just as hard to finish their college courses.

“Your success is our inspiration,” said Rebekah Navales, one of the students. (PIA V Release)
STOP KILLING JOURNALIST-- Gilbert Remulla of Cavite, former representative of the second congressional district of Cavite and a media practitioner himself, speaks before the Bicol media during a press conference, stressing the exigency of ratification of the Magna Carta for Journalists to ensure protection of the rights and welfare of the media sector, held at the Pepperland Hotel on Tuesday, January 19, at Legazpi City, (Alex Cal/PIA)
Inquirer Southern Luzon Bureau Chief Floreñio Solmirano (left) in pointing gesture, made some queries to Rep. Gilbert Remulla (right) during the media interaction on the "Stop Killing Journalists" advocay program. (Alex Cal/PIA)

Monday, January 25, 2010

CFO ENSURES MIGRANTS WELFARE – Representatives from Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO), together with Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Bicol regional director Jocelyn Hapal, holds interfacing with Albay media delving on Filipino migrants, workers, among others last Jan. 20, at the City Mayor Conference room in Legazpi City. (Alex Cal/PIA V)

Friday, January 22, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY — Police operatives arrested 13 persons in various police checkpoints in three provinces of Bicol region for violation of the nationwide gun ban imposed b the Commission on Election (COMELEC).

According to the Regional Election Monitoring Action Center (REMAC) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office here, police arrested 11 violators in Masbate and one each in the provinces of Camarines Sur as of January 18, 2010.

All violators are now facing charges on Illegal Possession of Firearms and for violation of COMELEC Resolution No. 8714, imposing the nationwide gun ban covering the entire election period from January 10 until June 9, this year.

The COMELEC directives is a proactive measure by government to strictly implement the total gun ban, as the country braces for the May 2010 elections, to once and for all curb the dirty election-related violence that has festered the country for decades.

Police checkpoints were set-up in all towns and cities in Bicol to impose stricter security measures, though will bring minimum inconvenience upon persons to be searched, but will have a long and lasting effect to curb the proliferation of loose firearms.

Checkpoints are conducted in well-lit and strategic places conforming to the established police operational procedures in the proper conduct of checkpoints and overall supervised by Joint Security Control Centers (JSCC) that oversees the implementation of the nationwide gun ban.

Arrested persons are treated humanely and with utmost respect for their constitutional rights. Police operatives manning checkpoints are strictly mandated to observe the “Plain View” doctrine in searches of vehicles and persons, and should observe the Rules of Evidence and Searches.

With Filipinos pinning so much hope on the outcome of May 2010 elections to make life better in this country, no effort must be spared to make this exercise as peaceful and credible as possible. This includes containing violence with the use of firearms and other deadly weapons. (PRO V/PIA)


CASIGURAN, Sorsogon — The of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) have finally completed and turned over the Communal Irrigation System (CIS) project to the Tigbao-Banawang Irrigators Association (TBIA) of this municipality.

Leto P. Bernal, NIA Sorsogon Irrigators Development Section chief, said during the turn-over rites that the project has been carried out based on the needs identified by the beneficiaries themselves and “it is the now for the beneficiaries to take responsibility of its management, operation and maintenance.”

“Of course, we will continue to assist the association, which forms part of the Casiguran Agrarian Reform Cluster (ARC) Cluster B, in their continuous endeavors to pursue agricultural development and food security,” he stressed.

Rodrigo Estremera, Casiguran agrarian reform officer, said that the project, implemented under the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project (ARISP) II, intends to increase rice production to ensure higher income for farmers to finance their children’s education.

Salvador Hife, TBIA president, thanked and expressed his appreciation to DAR and NIA, noting that “the association had agreed to allot 75 kilos of palay per hectare every harvest to fund the CIS maintenance.

Hife also clarified that the palay allotment will not serve as payment but for maintenance of the facility, since the responsibility of taking care of the project now lies in their hands.
CIS will be benefiting a total of 89 hectares of rice land tilled by 112 farmers covering Barangays Tigbao and Banawang.

Through ARISP II, a dam in Talinga River in Tigbao was also constructed in 2004 to provide the water source for the irrigation system. (LAArbolente, DAR Sorsogon/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — Disaster managers and media practitioners in the provinces of Camarines Sur and Catanduanes have renewed partnership to ensure efficient communication strategies to prevent the loss of lives and mitigate the impacts of calamities and disasters.

The provincial disaster coordinating councils (PDCC’s) and media practitioners from these two provinces had recently participated in a Seminar/Workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) held at Barriada Complex of Corner’s Place Hotel here last January 12, 2009.

Accion Contre La Faim (ACF), an international humanitarian group against hunger, under the latter’s community-based disaster risk reduction project, spearheaded the one-day activity participated in by some 23 representatives from both sectors.

Rita Marie Petralba, ACF DRR project coordinator for Bicol, said the activity intends to increase awareness among disaster managers on EWS, on the other hand, define the roles and responsibilities of media on accurate and responsible information dissemination of information pertaining to advisories of warning agencies, DRR, preparedness and mitigation measures that need to carried out be local disaster coordinating councils.

Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) chief, delved on the different hazards and their implications, also emphasizing the need to establish Early Warning System (EWS) communication strategies in different local government levels.

Daep stressed the provincial, city or municipal, and barangay disaster managers should ensure that communication link in EWS must be observed for a more efficient risk reduction and preparation of the community in the wake of impending disaster or calamity.

Disaster managers, meanwhile, are now strengthening their collaboration with the media acknowledging the vital role of communication networks in the implementation of the Early Warning System (EWS).

Daep noted that the media should also be aware of the right and responsible way of communicating information to the communities, analysis of the problems, and identification of solutions related to dialects and broadcast communications during emergency.

Marlon Loterte of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Bicol, meanwhile, related the roles and responsibilities of media in the communication network on EWS.

Media should always be one of the main stakeholders in every government program, specifically on EWS for disaster preparedness, response and mitigation, recognizing the sector’s vital role in communicating information to ensure the safety of the people and prevent extensive damage on properties, among others. (MALoterte, PA V)


DAET, Camarines Norte – All systems go for the Palarong Bikol 2010 in this province set on February 1-5, according to Department of Education (DepEd) division office here.

Condrado Rempillo, DepEd Camarines Norte sports coordinator, said that delegations from the elementary and secondary levels are expected to arrive starting January 27 from different provinces and cities across Bicol region.

Prior to the sports competition, organizers slate the LITMUSDA rehearsal and pictorial of candidates for Search for Palarong Bicol on January 28; literary, musical and folkdance contest on January 29; and talent competition on January 30.

Palarong Bikol 2010 will formally open on January 31, to be highlighted by a parade, street dancing showcasing contingents from the 14 local government units, field demonstration, festival of festivals and Governor’s Night.

Rempillo said that sports activities will be held in different venues, including Basud National High School, Eco Athletic Field, Labo Sports Plaza, Division Office, Camarines Norte Agro Sports Center, Vinzons Pilot Elementary School, CNSC Abaño Laboratory School, Wiltan Hotel, Mabini College and La Consolacion College here.

Billeting of the delegate is also already arranged, security measures are already in placed and public utility vehicles’ operators and drivers were already briefed to ensure a visitor-friendly environment.

Sports events for the week-long Palarong Bikol will include archery, arnis, atletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, chess, gymnastics, sepak takraw, sipa, soccer football, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis and volleyball. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


PILI, Camarines Sur — The provincial government of Camarines Sur, led by Governor LRay Villafuerte, posted a very commendable record assisting its constituents on job placements and in providing other essential services related to employment.

This is the clear import of the records and data which summed up the total number of individuals who availed of the services of the provincial government, under the auspices of the Camarines Sur Employment Center (CSEC).

This year alone, CSEC has provided assistance in the processing of 3,554 passports which brings to a total of 13,177 passports since 2006.

Said Mobile Passport Servicing at the provincial capitol, now included in the list of frontline services provided in the province’s Citizen Charter, will now be held every 1st and 3rd Thursdays and Fridays of the month from its former schedule of every 1st and 3rd Mondays and Tuesdays.

Likewise, the services offered by the National Statistics Office (NSO) at the same venue, also through the initiative of the CSEC that commenced last August, have posted some 241 processing of birth certificates, marriage contracts and certificates of no marriage.

CSEC, in partnership with reputable and accredited recruitment agencies, has also provided job opportunities here and abroad for the constituents of Camarines Sur. (AFernandez, MMEC/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY – Some Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers (CENROs) of the DENR in Bicol have been reassigned.

In a special order dated January 6, 2010, DENR Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada reassigned the following CENROs: Ponciano Mabesa, Jr. from San Jacinto, Masbate to Daet, Camarines Norte; Pio Bernal from Naga City, Camarines Sur to Goa, Cam. Sur; Eduardo Ampongan from Goa, Cam. Sur to Mobo, Masbate; Tito Migo from Mobo, Masbate to San Jacinto, Masbate; Imelda Baltazar from Legazpi City to NaGA City; Ricardo Ramos, Jr. from Daet, Camarines Norte to Legazpi City; Rene Camacho from Sorsogon City to Iriga City; and Luvimindo Chioco from Iriga City to Sorsogon City.

Fragada said the order takes effect immediately for 30 days and automatically renewed thereafter for same period and thereafter until such time a regular special order has been issued by the DENR Secretary. (ASAraya, DENR V/PIA)

PGMA confers Order of Sikatuna on US Ambassador Kenney

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo conferred Thursday (January 21) the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Datu with Gold Distinction, on Kristie Ann Kenney, outgoing US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Philippines.

The American lady diplomat merited the honor for her outstanding contribution to advance bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States.

“I wish you all the best,” the President said after the ceremony, held this morning at Malacanang’s Music Room.

“It is such a great honor,” Kenny responded. “I appreciate your leadership, openness and support to me.”

The order is conferred on diplomats, officials, and nationals of foreign states who have rendered services in fostering, developing and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines.

In Kenny’s case, the citation says she has done so much to educate the young people of the country, protect the environment, advance the interest of Filipino veterans, improve defense and security cooperation between the two countries, and foster peace and development in Mindanao.

The citation also notes her leadership in facilitating immediate assistance to the Philippines in times of calamity.

Kenney, the first woman US Ambassador to the Philippines, said the award was also for her two thousand colleagues at the US Embassy in Manila, both American and Filipino.

“I’m their face but they do the great work,” she said.

“It has been an extraordinary honor to represent my country in the Philippines, one of our oldest allies. I have felt very much at home in the Philippines, perhaps because our two countries have so much shared history. Our fathers and grandfathers shed blood together in World War II to protect our freedom. Millions of Filipinos live and work in the United States, and many Americans call the Philippines home. We are so much more than friends,” Kenney said in her farewell statement.

She asked Filipinos to extend the same hospitality to her successor Harry K. Thomas, who President Barack Obama has nominated as the first Afro-American US envoy to Manila. (PIA V Release)

PGMA names Icban acting press secretary

MANILA — Crispulo Icban Jr., editor in chief of the Manila Bulletin, will replace the late Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde in an acting capacity.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made the announcement at the lunch Thursday (January 21) she hosted for the Malacañang Press Corps at the Palace.

“Like Cerge, Jun is first and foremost a journalist,” the President said of the new Cabinet secretary.

Icban is the ninth press secretary under President Arroyo. His predecessors were the late Noel Cabrera (whom he inherited from President Estrada), Rigoberto Tiglao, Silvestre Afable, Ignacio Bunye (who served twice), Hernani Braganza, Milton Alingod, Jesus Dureza, and Remonde.

Born in Tondo, Manila, on Aug. 3, 1935, Icban graduated from the Tarlac Central Elementary School in 1946 and from the Pampanga High School in 1950. He was class valedictorian in both instances.

He graduated from the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman with a bachelor of arts in English, magna cum laude, in 1954. In his senior year at UP, he served as editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian, the university students paper.

Upon graduation, he joined the Manila Times as general assistant in the editorial department, later as reporter covering the Department of Foreign Affairs, and then as editorial writer. He was subsequently appointed news editor, a position he held until 1972, when the paper was closed down upon declaration of martial law.

In 1957-58, he took a leave of absence from the Manila Times, to work for his master’s degree in journalism, under Fulbright and Smith Mundt Grant, at Syracuse University in New York.

In 1966-67, he was one of 12 American and six international newsmen in the annual Nieman Fellowship program at Harvard University in Massachusetts.

Icban served as professorial lecturer in journalism and English at the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) from 1956 to 1957 and at the UP-Diliman from 1958 to 1973.

He authored, in collaboration with Dean Gloria Feliciano of the UP Institute of Mass Communication, Philippine Mass Media in Perspective, a book now used as school reference.

In 1974, Icban joined the Manila Bulletin, as consultant to the publisher and later as news editor. He became editor-in-chief on Nov. 25, 2003.

Icban has received numerous awards in over half a century of service as journalist. He was named Outstanding Kapampangan by the Pampanga Provincial Government, 1988; and Distinguished Tarlaquenos by the Tarlac Provincial Government, 2003.

He was conferred a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Management, honoris causa, by the Pampanga Agricultural College on April 12, 2006.

He is married to Zenaida Pamintuan Icban of Bacolor, Pampanga. They have six children and 16 grandchildren. (PIA V Release)

PGMA confers Order of Lakandula on Press Secretary Cerge Remonde

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo conferred Thursday (January 21) the Order of Lakandula with Rank of Grand Cross (Bayani) on the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde as he lay in state at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang Palace.

His widow, Marit Stinus-Remonde, received the posthumous award, given “for his outstanding service to the Republic of the Philippines and in recognition of his life as an exemplary media man and public servant.”

The late Cabinet Secretary’s body, brought from Heritage Park in Taguig City, was flown to Cebu this morning.

In her speech, the President praised Remonde for his selfless dedication as a public servant and for his achievement as a journalist, noting he reached his peak in her administration.

“Cerge gave fully of himself for the sake of our country, both in government for the last nine years and in media since he was 18 years old,” the President said.

According to the President, Remonde deserved the love and adoration of friends and colleagues that are pouring on him.

“A popular radio host, Cerge interviewed me frequently on the phone in Cebuano,” the President said. “ That exposure helped me because it made many people in the Visayas and Mindanao realize that I spoke Cebuano, and that resulted in my landslide win in 1995, 1998, and 2004 in Visayas and Mindanao, where people speak the language.

“When we would discuss in caucus proposed measures that involved media, Cerge was always consulted as a stakeholder,” the President said.

“I learned to take Cerge’s opinion into account, in my work as Senator and, later, as President,” she added. (PIA V Release)

Malaysia rejoins IMT of Mindanao peace process

MANILA — After more than a year of hiatus, Malaysia returns to the renegotiated Mindanao peace process by rejoining the International Monitoring Team (IMT) as its leader effective the middle of February, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Special Concerns Rafael Seguis confirmed Thursday.

Even when it was out of the IMT since December 2008, Malaysia has remained the facilitator of the now-resumed peace talks between the panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Seguis said Malaysia formally agreed to rejoin the IMT last December 7. Others in the IMT who served without a gap since the body was formed in 2004 are Libya, Brunei and, later, Japan.
The IMT will basically look into the ceasefire plans of the Philippine government as it prepares for the May 2010 national elections. Malaysia will deploy about 60 personnel from its various military forces.

Seguis also said that Norway, Indonesia and Qatar have been invited to join but their response is still awaited.

As to the resumed talks, Seguis said that “deepened exploratory talks” will continue in Kuala Lumpur next week.

He maintained that the MILF’s usual point of reference is the issue of a Bangsamoro ancestral domain, or a separate homeland for Muslims.

But the GRP, he added, will “never compromise” on what is constitutionally-mandated as Philippine territory.

The GRP-MILF talks resumed late 2009, after they conked out in August 2008 following a Supreme Court decision annulling the so-called Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain between the GRP and the MILF that favoured a physical area reserved for Moros only.
Seguis was not the head of the GRP panel at the time, though Mohagher Iqbal remained remained the MILF’s representative. (PIA V Release)

Thursday, January 21, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY — With barely two weeks of intensified anti-illegal gambling operations, a total of 409 individuals were arrested some P53,613, believed to be bet money, were confiscated by police operatives across Bicol region.

Bicol PNP acting Regional Director Police Chief Superintendent Cecilio B. Calleja, Jr., said the feat has manifested police’s resolve and commitment to eradicate all forms of illegal gambling activities in the region.

The operation has resulted to the filing of criminal charges now pending and being tried in various courts in the region, against persons involved including their financiers.

Among those considered gambling offenses defined and penalized under RA 9287 (illegal gambling) are Card Games, Pula Puti, Cara y Cruz, Fruit Game Machines, Sakla, Illegal Cockfighting, Lotteng and Jueteng.

With this successful no non-sense drive against illegal gambling, PNP Bicol is sending the message and warning against would-be violators that law enforcers will never get tired of enforcing the law and without feat and favor.

“For police commanders who cannot perform the task of stopping gambling activities in their turf will be replaced by those capable and willing to accomplish the task,” Calleja stressed. (PRO V/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Revenue District 64 office collected a total of P355 million last year, short of the P439 million target for the same year.

Revenue District Officer Marcelino M. Quito explained that the deficit on the collection was due to tax measures carried out by the government to help employees, particularly on the increase in personal and additional exemption as mandated by Republic Act 95.

Quito elaborated that under RA 9504, personal exemption from P20,000 for single, P25,000 for head of the family and P32,000 for married were increased to P50,000; while additional exemption for dependent children from P8,000 to P25,000, resulting to some P128 million revenue loss.

“The global economic crisis, wherein one company based here stopped operation in its export venture, was also contributory to the shortfall, noting that only P8 million was generated compared to P15 million average for the past years,” he said.

Quito also cited the rate of corporations for tax was decreased from 35 percent to 30 percent and tax amnesty totaled P64 million pesos last year.

He added that the total loss rose to P117 million, on the other hand, without such hitch tax collection can raise 30 percent more of the 2009 target. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Bicol regional office here has officially announced the guidelines and procedures on the Student Financial Assistance and Scholarship programs for SY 2010-2011.

General Guidelines:

1. CHED Bicol will start receiving all complete application documents after the close of SY 2009-2010.
2. Screening all complete application documents shall commence after the specific deadline for the submission of application is set by this Office.
3. All application documents should be submitted to the CHED Regional Office V with postal address at EM’s Barrio South Barangay 2, Legazpi City, Albay
4. General qualification requirements that applicant must:
a. be a Filipino citizen of good moral character
b. be a High School graduate and/or entering freshmen and/or college student in any curricular year level (For Loan Programs)
c. have at least the following Form 138 General Weighted Average (GWA) and General Scholastic Aptitude (GSA) in the National Career Entrance Examination (NCAE) to wit:
1. 90% above – Full merit
2. 85% above – Half merit
3. 80-84% - Grand-in-Aid and Student Loan Programs
d. have a combined annual gross income of parents that should not exceed P300,000
e. not more than 30 years of age at the time of application except for CHED OPAPP-SGPRR
f. for Study-Now-Pay-Later Plan:
1. must enter into a loan agreement with CHED
2. must have a guarantor (SSS/GSIS member of good standing, who has paid at least six monthly contribution for the least 12 months) who shall act as the co-borrower
g. have not availed of any government scholarship and/or grant.

5. Documentary Requirements:

a. Duly accomplished application documents (may be availed of from CHED Regional Office V, downloaded from the CHED website at www.ched.gov.ph
b. Form 137/Report Card/Certification of Grades the average of which should not be lower than 85%
c. NCAE Results (not lower than 85%)
d. Income Tax Return with annually family income of not more than P300,000 or tax exemption certificate from the BIR in case the parents are exempted from payment of taxes
e. Certificate of Good Moral Character issued by the High School Principal
f. Certificate of Good Health issued by government physician
g. Certificate as solo parent (for solo parent dependent) from the DSWD, if applicable
h. Certificate as bona fide member of a “Hill Tribe” from NCIP, if applicable

6. Benefits
Qualifiers shall be entitled to the following financial benefits per semester:
Full Merit (90% and above) P15,000.00
Half Merit (85% above) 7,500.00
Study Now Pay Later Program 7,500.00

7. Only complete application documents shall be accepted by this office
8. For inquiries, please see the scholarship coordinators at the Office of Student Services, CHED Regional Office V or call tel. no. 481-5096 for more details. (DRRebueno, CHED V/PIA)


PILI, Camarines Sur — The Civil Service Commission (CSC) field office here announces the 2010 schedule of Career Service Examination (CSE) Paper and Pencil Test (PPT) on both professional and sub-professional levels set on April 25 and October 17, this year.

Director Lida C. Ayon of CSC Camarines Sur has announced that her office is now accepting applications on the first-come-first served basis.

Ayon added that applicants must be 18 years old and above and submit the following requirements for the said examinations:

1. Accomplished application form (CSC Form 100, revised 2008);
2. 4 copies (1 ½ x 2”) ID picture with full nametag taken within three months;
3. Valid ID (photocopy, back to back); and
4. Application fee of 350 pesos.

Ayon also said that deadline for filing for the April 25, 2010 examination will be on March 10, 2010 and for October 17, 2010 examination be announced later.

The examination center for Camarines Sur applicants will take the examination at the Camarines Sur National High School located at Peñafrancia Avenue, Naga City. For more information please contact telephone number 054-4753429. (DC Abad, PIA CamSur)


LEGAZPI CITY-– Albay Governor Joey Salceda has extended condolences to the family of Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, who succumbed to a heart attack shortly before noon on Tuesday (January 19) at the Makati Medical Center.

Salceda said Remonde was a public relation asset of the Arroyo Administration, doing it so well even if he at time had sighed in admission of being a failure as lead communicator of the Office of the President.

The governor was in disbelief upon learning of the untimely demise of the Press Secretary.

Salceda recalled he was with Remonde, along with President Arroyo, just last Monday at the Malacañang study room from 2:00 pm up to 5:00 pm discussing a major policy speech, “inviting him afterward to one of the Palace corners facing Pasig river for a smoke.”

“Cerge has hardly shown a hint that he would go so soon,” he narrated.

According to Salceda, Remonde was a hardworking cabinet member and a good friend who he and his multitude of friends would miss.

“He (Remonde) was a close confidant not only to President Arroyo but also to all cabinet members,” he said.

Salceda added that Remonde’s loyalty to the Arroyo Administration is highly remarkable. (MALoterte, PIA V)


PILI, Camarines Sur — The Civil Service Commission (CSC) field office here announces the 2010 schedule of Career Service Examination (CSE) Paper and Pencil Test (PPT) on both professional and sub-professional levels set on April 25 and October 17, this year.

Director Lida C. Ayon of CSC Camarines Sur has announced that her office is now accepting applications on the first-come-first served basis.

Ayon added that applicants must be 18 years old and above and submit the following requirements for the said examinations:

1. Accomplished application form (CSC Form 100, revised 2008);
2. 4 copies (1 ½ x 2”) ID picture with full nametag taken within three months;
3. Valid ID (photocopy, back to back); and
4. Application fee of 350 pesos.

Ayon also said that deadline for filing for the April 25, 2010 examination will be on March 10, 2010 and for October 17, 2010 examination be announced later.

The examination center for Camarines Sur applicants will take the examination at the Camarines Sur National High School located at Peñafrancia Avenue, Naga City. For more information please contact telephone number 054-4753429. (DC Abad, PIA CamSur)


PILI, Camarines Sur – The intensive tourism development programs of Camarines Sur has significantly propelled its reputation as an exotic tropical Eden increasingly attracting even non-tourists, now including film and television show producers, for location shooting amidst the province’s natural wonders.

On Monday (January 18), the crew of major local film production (Viva Films) is billeted at the cabanas of the renowned Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) to shooting sequences of a movie flick featuring actors Aga Mulach, Regine Velasquez and Mark Bautista.

Aga Mulach, who has Bicolano roots and close friend of the Governor Lray Villafuerte, regularly finds time between shoots to greet his fans and enjoy the amenities of CWC, conceded to be the best cable wake park in the world today.

Since being acclaimed by Top Resa Paris, the biggest travel forum in Europe, as one of the best eco-tourism destinations in the world because of its large-scale tourism development projects in Caramoan Peninsula centered at Gota Village Resort, the area has also become a popular choice as setting of the Survivor TV reality show series.

Initially the Koh Lanta: Caramoan, the French franchise of Survivor, was filmed in Matukad, one of the untouched tropical islets just offshore of Gota beach where the entire cast and crew stayed for shooting the serial in its entirety before being aired over major networks in Europe and viewed by millions.

The French Survivor was followed by Israel, Bulgaria, Turkey and Serbia.

Major Hollywood production firms are also eyeing Caramoan as setting for outdoor scenes. (GBClaveria, MMEC/PIA)

Statement by the Office of the Press Secretary
on the passing away of Secretary Cerge M. Remonde

MANILA — The Office of the Press Secretary wishes to announce, with profound sorrow, that Secretary Cerge M. Remonde succumbed to a heart attack shortly before noon Tuesday (January 19) at the Makati Medical Center. He was 51 years old.

The Secretary was earlier discovered unconscious in the bathroom of his residence in Makati. He was brought to Makati Medical where efforts were made to revive him, but to no avail. The news of his passing was first broken by the Executive Secretary, Eduardo Ermita, at the hospital premises.

Secretary Cerge leaves behind his wife, Mrs. Maret Remonde, who is presently en route to Manila by private plane from his home in Cebu. His remains will lie in state at the Heritage Memorial Park in Fort Bonifacio, pending final disposition by his wife upon her arrival here.

Cerge Remonde traced his roots to Argao, Cebu where he grew up. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from the University of the Visayas in Cebu City. Later he took up Cooperation and Development Studies at the Afro-Asia Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1986, and also attended an International Visitors Program hosted by the US State Department in Washington, DC in 1992.

From his initial days as a radio reporter and commentator, Cerge carved out a distinguished career in radio, television, and print. He served as anchor of the highly-rated DYLA Interaction, a primetime show that set the benchmark for public affairs programming. He was also the first ever to rise from the ranks of provincial reporters to become the national chairman of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), a position that he held for an unprecedented six terms.

In January 2001, only three days after President Arroyo first took office, Cerge Remonde was appointed Press Undersecretary in charge of broadcast. In 2004, he was named head of the Government Mass Media Group (GMMG), a Cabinet-level position which oversees all the various government owned media entities. He also served concurrently as Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

In October 2006, Cerge Remonde was appointed to head the Presidential Management Staff, and in February 2009, he was named the Press Secretary to the President. Among the many positions he held concurrently, he served as senior adviser to the GRP-NDF Peace Panel, commissioner of the Communications Committee of UNESCO, and chairman of the Advertising Board of the Philippines, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, and the Appeals Board of the MTRCB.

Secretary Remonde was lavished with many awards and distinctions, among them the Most Outstanding Visayanian in the field of Mass Media in 1998, and, together with former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr, the Most Outstanding Cebuano in 1999.

But as any one of his multitude of friends and admirers well knows, it was their friendship and high regard that he valued most highly. This esteem was something that in turn was given easily to a man with his admirable qualities — professionalism at work, solicitude for the plight of others, loyalty to his President and to the high ideals of public service, and most of all, devotion to his Church and to his God.

Secretary Cerge Remonde will be sorely missed by his colleagues, his friends, and all who grieve his passing today, even as he will continue to be an inspiration to them and a shining example of a life well-lived in the service of his fellow man and for the greater glory of the Creator above. (PIA V Release)

PGMA pays last respects to Secretary Cerge Remonde

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo paid her last respects to Press Secretary Cerge Remonde at the Heritage Park Memorial Chapel in Taguig City today at around 4:30 a.m.

Upon arrival at the chapel, the President, clad in white shirt and pants, embraced Mrs. Marit Stinus Remonde. After viewing the press secretary’s remains, she sat and chatted with the wife. She stayed at the wake for 30 minutes.

One of the longest serving officials in the current administration, Remonde died Tuesday shortly before noon. He was found unconscious by aides at home in Bel-Air, Makati City, a victim of heart attack. He was brought to the nearby Makati Medical Center, but efforts to revive him proved futile.

In an interview, the President said she lost not only a Cabinet secretary but also a close family friend.

Remonde was to mark his first anniversary as press secretary on Feb. 1. He took over the post from Secretary Jesus Dureza last year.

Members of the Malacañang Press Corps fondly remember Remonde as “a cool cat”, one who could answer a withering barrage of tough questions with candidness and humor.

The late press secretary’s remains will be brought to Heroes Hall in Malacañang on Thursday for necrological services. It will be flown to Cebu on Friday and interred in the family plot in Argao, his hometown, the next day. (PIA V Release)

Another RP peacekeeper found dead in Haiti

MANILA — Another Filipino soldier serving as peacekeeper for the United Nations was found dead underneath the rubbles of the quake-fallen Christopher Hotel, headquarters of UN in the troubled Caribbean nation.

This brings to three the number of Filipinos who died in last week's devastating intensity 7 earthquake that has claimed the lives of thousands others.

AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner identified the latest Filipino fatality as Sgt. Eustacio Bermudez, who is serving as clerk for the UN mission at the second floor of the hotel.

Brawner said the body of Bermudez was plucked from the collapsed hotel around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday by a multinational team that was tasked to conduct search, rescue and retrieval operations.

On Tuesday morning, the body of Navy Data Processor 3 Pearly Panangui was found from the building. On Monday, the body of UN civilian staff Jerome Yap was also found at the building.

With the retrieval of the body of Bermudez, the number of missing Filipinos in Haiti is reduced to two, said Brawner. They are Grace Fabian and Geraldin Lalican, who were trapped at the
Caribbean Supermarket where they worked.

Filipino rescuers are helping in the rescue or retrieval of the two. (PIA V Release)

PSALM sets forum on privatization of Ilijan IPPA

MANILA — The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corporation will conduct a forum for the appointment of the Independent Power Producer Administrator (IPPA) for the contracted capacity of the 1200-megawatt Ilijan Combined Cycle Power Plant on Tuesday, 26 January 2010, at the PSALM Filipinas Hall, 6th Floor Bankmer Bldg., 6756 Ayala Avenue, Makati City. The forum will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

Pablo Anido, PSALM’s team leader for the IPPA privatization, explained that the objective of the forum is to present to prospective bidders and investors the technical details and operational experience regarding the plant, and the commercial approach and legal structure that PSALM is considering for the tendering of the IPPA.

“We expect that inputs from interested parties will help ensure the successful selection of an IPP administrator for Ilijan,” Mr. Anido said.

Due to limitations of the venue, interested parties must register online at the PSALM website, www.psalm.gov. ph, to reserve a seat at the forum. PSALM will advise registrants of the confirmation of their registration. (PIA V Release)

Diplomatic corps supports PGMA’s peace initiatives

MANILA — Members of the diplomatic corps, led by its dean, Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams, today pledged support for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s efforts to achieve peace for the common good.

In his response to President Arroyo’s speech at the annual Vin d’Honneur at Malacañang Palace this afternoon, Adams said “peace and the common good is indeed not only a possibility and a compelling goal but our collective duty.”

The attainment of peace, through the termination of hostilities with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, is one of the items in the ten-point agenda of the Arroyo Administration.

The President has time and again made it clear that the government is fully committed to bringing lasting peace in Mindanao and the rest of the country.

“So, Madam President, our very presence in this gathering is an expression of our shared desire and need to join our hands in continued collaboration for peace and the common good,” Adams said.

“We who have the privilege of serving here as diplomats gladly assure you, Madam President, of the pledge of the countries and organizations we represent to further advance these noble aspirations,” he also said.

Adams also expressed the group’s collective confidence that President Arroyo would remain steadfast in working towards achieving this goal.

“We are assured too, Madam President, that in these few remaining months before the national elections, your personal dedication and industry for the welfare of this great nation will not waver,” Adams said.

“We appreciate your administration’s stated resolve to work for unity, progress and the well-being of the people of this country,” he added. (PIA V Release)

Lives of Filipinos improved under my watch – PGMA

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today the lives of Filipinos have improved during her nine-year administration.

''I’ve worked hard every single day to lift up the lives of our people,'' the President said at the traditional vin d'honneur for the diplomatic corps held today at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang.

According to President Arroyo, her focus since she assumed the presidency in 2001 was to turn the economy around, create jobs, and invest in human and physical infrastructure.

She pointed out that the growth of the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product or the sum of all goods and services produced in the country, and the number of jobs created under her watch were the highest in the last 30 years. Average inflation or increases in the prices of goods and services, she added, were also the lowest since her father's administration in the early 1960s.
By pushing economic reforms in the early years of her administration, the President helped the country weather the global financial crisis that started in September 2008 better than other countries.

“Even at the height of the global economic tempest, the Philippines was able to post positive growth,'' the President said.

The Philippines is one of a handful of countries in Asia, including China, which escaped recession. It posted economic growth of 0.7 percent for the first three quarters of 2009.

Along the way, the President said she made tough and unpopular choices. Despite threats of dissension within her own party, she implemented the expanded value added tax law or EVAT, and the result was P80 billion in annual revenues generated for the government.

With such steady income coming in every year, the country borrowed less and spent more on people, thus “breaking the cycle of economic misery we had operated under,” she said.

Between 2000 and 2009, the number of healthcare insurance beneficiaries expanded from 29 million to 89.64 million, 100,000 new classrooms were built, and teachers’ salaries increased from P9,000 a month to P14,000.

At the of 2009, 99.39 percent of barangays in the country had electricity, while 319 out of 432 waterless barangays were provided with potable water.

“Infrastructure development has been at the center of our development agenda. It is working to create a competitive Philippines, both as a place for doing business and as a place to be a good employee,” the President said.

The President also said the economic development strategy is working well, with tourist arrivals increasing and business process outsourcing expanding in such a way that its is expected to employ its one millionth employee by the end of the year.

The development of the freeports of Subic and Clark as strong logistics and service hubs are on track.

Aside from the construction of roads and bridges, the Arroyo administration also invested in education in the last nine years. Billions of pesos were spent in vocational training and English literacy to make the Filipino worker more competitive here and abroad.

Looking ahead, the President said she wants to spend the remaining five months of her term reaching out to the youth to help ensure free, fair, and credible elections in May.

''They are the future...They can be the guardians of non-violence as they interact with adults and others in the community,'' said the President of young people. (PIA V Release)

Monday, January 18, 2010

163% domestic and 29% foreign arrivals increases

CAMARINES SUR Province — Domestic visitors to this province rose by a hefty 163 percent and foreign arrival grew by 29 percent for overall increment of 124.6 percent to sustain its stature among the most visited destinations in the Philippines at the end of third quarter of 2009.

According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), the province’s growing tourism allure was significantly boosted by tourism promotion initiatives of Governor LRay Villafuerte focusing on extreme sports competitions like the World Wakeboarding Championships, the International Dragon Boat Competition and the Ironman 70.3 Philippines.

Development of world-class natural attractions, particularly around Caramoan Peninsula, attracting films on location of several Survivor reality show serials also contributed a hefty share to the some 1.23 million tourists and overall tourism increment despite the third quarter traditionally being a lean tourism period.

Along with Camarines Sur, the country’s most frequented sites are traditional favourites Cebu, Bohol and Boracay. But travel trends indicate Camarines Sur showing greater potential for attracting both foreign and domestic travelers.

Volume of domestic tourists in the country has registered an increase by 21 percent, while foreign arrivals grew by 2.7 percent despite marked slowdown in tourism movement in the Southeast Asian Pacific region. The Philippines, though, is expected to sustain tourism growth in comparison with its neighbors.

Governor Villafuerte, meanwhile, has bigger and more grandiose activities lined up for CamSur for 2010. (GBClaveria, MMEC/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — Albay Governor and Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) Chair Joey Salceda has created Thursday last week the Provincial El Niño Task Force to formulate and oversee the implementation of preparedness, mitigation and response strategies in the wake of the impending dry spell.

Salceda said the task force was part of a strategy to cushion the negative effects of the dry spell, though the province was not on the list of areas which can be hit by the impending El Niño.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has recently confirmed that the natural phenomenon already entered the country’s threshold, affecting three Bicol provinces in the first half of the year.

PAGASA identified the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon among the 23 provinces that could be affected by the dry spell.

“Albay cannot afford to be complacent, considering that we experienced a six-month low rainfall level last year and we are at the middle of El Niño areas,” Salceda said.

Salceda meanwhile has released an initial fund of P1.5 million for the operation of the task force, composed of the Provincial Agricultural Services Office (PASO), Provincial Health Office (PHO), Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), and National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

The provincial task force, also chaired by Salceda, has readied initial measures to mitigate the effects of the dry spell including water conservation, cloud seeding to induce rainfall utilization of underground water, use of surface reservoir and food security.

The agriculture cluster will set up a number of small-scale irrigation system with a short gestation period, as well as hasten the rehabilitation of national and communal irrigation systems, in addition to increasing crop production, optimize area productivity, decrease water duty and diversify cropping.

El Niño phenomenon is a recurrent ocean-warming and atmospheric disturbance resulting in deficient rainfall or prolonged drought in some areas and heavy rains, storms and typhoons in other areas of the globe, and usually recurs every two to seven years.

For the past 40 years, the episode rated that of 1982-83 as the most intense because of the unusual worldwide anomalies it brought.

Adverse effects would be reduced crop yield or productivity and serious damage to livestock; reduced production capacity of industries and loss of jobs; famine due to lack of food, and desertification as a result of rapid soil degradation. The phenomenon may also cause possible outbreaks and epidemics, frequent brownouts, dropping out of pupils and students, and out-migration. (MALoterte, PA V)


SORSOGON CITY — The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) here has spearheaded the annual seminar for business permit applicants held at during the “One-Stop-Shop” business permits renewal program of the city government.

Chief Inspector Renato B. Marcial, Sorsogon City fire marshal, said the seminar is one of the requirements in securing a fire safety clearance, most importantly reminds them of basic fire safety and prevention, emergency response, among others.

In his opening message, Marcial cited that owners and operators of business establishments should learn and understand, furthermore, observe and comply with the provisions of the newly amended Republic Act 9514 or the Fire Code of the Philippines 2008.

Engrs. Peter Labayo and Roland Dio of the Integrated Electrical Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. (IIEE) Sorsogon expound on the electrical fire safety, emphasizing avoid electrical short circuit, overload, among others, that usually are the common causes of fires.

Senior Fire Officer Tomas Dio, BFP Fire Safety Enforcement Section chief, stressed applicants of fire safety clearance will not be given their fire safety inspection certificate without first attending the seminar.

Dio noted that the newly amended Fire Code of the Philippines introduces some changes in terms of grace period to comply and given to those establishments that were found to have violated the new law.

“Under the old fire code or PD 1185 the maximum grace period given to correct then violation is up to 60 days, however under RA 9514 the maximum grace period given is only up to 15 days,” he added.

He warned that stringent penalties were introduced under this new law, wherein private person as well as public officer shall be meted with administrative or punitive sanction if they will violate the said law.

He explained that under Sec. of the code, the owner, administrator, occupant or other person responsible for the condition of the building structure and their premises or facilities who violates any provision of the Fire Code shall be penalized by an administrative fine of not exceeding fifty thousand pesos or stoppage of operation or by closure of such buildings, structures and their premises or facilities.

He further said that in case of willful failure to correct the deficiency, they can be punished by imprisonment of not less than six months nor more than six years or a fine of not more than P100,000.

He noted that on the part of the public officer, they can be punished by reprimand, suspension or removal from the service depending on the gravity of the offense committed.

Marcial has appealed anew to all the owners of the establishment to cooperate with the fire bureau in the implementation of the newly amended Fire Code.

He reiterated that BFP will not issue a fire safety inspection certificate to those establishments who were found with deficiencies or have violated the rules and regulations of this code.

“One-Stop-Shop”, meanwhile, is a program of the city government carried out every January to expedite the processing of permits and other necessary requirements for those who will renew their licenses, by detailing personnel from different line agencies needed in the renewal at the city hall.

Two hundred twenty five participants attended the fire safety seminar that started on the first week and more are expected to troop to the city hall for the program.

The seminar is held at the 2nd floor of the City Hall every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00 o’clock in the morning and 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon. (LGFuntanares, BFP Sorsogon City/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY— The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) announces that payment for the Normal Spontaneous Delivery (NSD) Package and Maternity Care Package (MCP) was increased to P6,500 in all accredited providers, in accordance with PhilHealth Circular No. 39, s. 2009.

The circular states that the total amount is comprised of P2,500 for payment hospital facility, P2,500 for professional or doctor’s fee, with an additional amount of P1,500 for prenatal medicines, laboratory and consultation components.

Prenatal component of the packages shall cover prenatal expenses incld\uding drugs and medicines, laboratory tests and ancillary procedures, tetanus immunizations; and prenatal consultations as supported by official receipts.

The same directives clarifies that if a PhilHealth member of his/her dependent benefited from prenatal services provided by the accredited facility, payment for the reimbursement of the P1,500 for the prenatal component may be authorized to the accredited facility.

It further stressed that the member should first acknowledge that all the required services like drugs, laboratory, tetanus immunization and consultation were provided by the accredited facility.

Hence, a member must not sign the preformatted form if no prenatal services were availed of. (MALoterte, PIA V)


NAGA CITY – Renaming of Liboton Street to M.T. Villanueva Avenue of this city is now is now affirmed under Republic Act No. 9704, as duly signed and approved by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Speaker of the House Prospero Nograles, and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Blessing and unveiling of street signs and marker at the M. T. Villanueva Avenue and corners of Peñafrancia Avenue and Bagumabayan were held last January 6, 2010.

Atty. Carlo C. Villanueva, Jr., current Naga College Foundation Alumni Association (NCFAA) president, led the ‘renaming petition’ by means of a written communication to the Congressman Luis R. Villafuerte of the third congressional district of Camarines Sur.

The said street is named after the late Dr. Melchor Trinidad Villanueva, founder of Naga College Foundation (NCF).

The avenue houses the mentioned institution which originally started from a single-built school building; to having the tallest school facility in the city – the seven story Melchor Trinidad Villanueva Hall.

Villanueva, who had contributed quality yet affordable education for the Bicolanos, is not only a dedicated educator but also an acknowledged war hero serving as a Lieutenant during World War II.

In fact he was awarded the prestigious Presidential Gold Medal for his heroic exploits during the guerilla movement. He was a man of talents and skills. He was a musician, a violinist in particular.

He was also considered a sportsman; as he was a weightlifter and boxer during his time. His physical regimen even enabled him to live up to the age of 93. Dr. Villanueva passed away June 13, 2000; leaving his legacy as an Educator, a Hero, a Musician, a Sportsman… but above all as our inspiration… He will live on through the street named after him.

Present during the occasion were Cong. Villafuerte, representatives from the city government, family and relatives of Villanueva, faculties and students of NCF, and witnessed by the general public. (DC Abad, PIA CamSur)


Price Situation: Year-on-Year

At the regional level, the year-on-year inflation rate continued to increase at 5.5 per cent in December 2009 from 4.2 percent in November 2009 as higher annual rates were recorded in all the commodity groups except for miscellaneous items where inflation rate declined by 2.1 percent from 2.5 percent.

Rates recorded were 6.9 percent from 6.2 percent in food, beverages and tobacco; 1.5 percent from 1.4 percent in clothing; 0.8 percent from 0.6 percent in housing and repairs; 10.0 percent from 1.6 percent in fuel, light and water and 3.7 percent from 1.7 percent in services.

The average annual inflation rate in Bicol region for the year 2009 was 4.6 percent, slower by 4.9 percentage points than the 9.5 percent in 1008.

Province-wise, all provinces in the region recorded higher annual inflation rate in December compared to November as follows – Albay, 3.6 percent from 2.5 percent; Camarines Norte, 3.8 percent from 2.3 percent; Camarines Sur, 6.3 percent from 5.0 percent; Catanduanes, 6.0 percent from 5.3 percent; Masbate, 6.7 percent from 5.4 percent and Sorsogon, 6.2 percent from 4.7 percent.

Price Situation: Month-on-Month

On a month-on-month basis, the consumer price index for all income households in the region was registered at 164.6 in December 2009, higher by 0.8 index points as compared to the 163.6 index in November 2009. In terms of price movement, it went up at a slower pace of 0.5 percent in December from 0.8 percent in November.

Across food, beverages and tobacco (FBT) commodity group, slower price increases were noted in the indices of all the food items except meat and miscellaneous foods where prices slightly increased by 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, from their corresponding last month’s rates of 0.6 percent and 1.1 percent due to higher demand for meat and meat products during the holiday season and continued price increments in sugar and selected spices and seasonings under the miscellaneous foods.

On the other hand, the sufficient supply of rice and corn pulled down the cereal and cereal preparations index by -0.6 percent from 1.1 percent while a zero percent growth was recorded in the dairy products index from 0.1 percent a month ago.

Price add-on in the rest FBT items were recorded at 0.3 percent from 0.5 percent in eggs; 0.9 percent from 1.4 percent in fish; 1.5 percent from 5.3 percent in fruits and vegetables; 0.1 percent from 0.3 percent in beverages and 0.1 percent from 0.8 percent in tobacco. Overall rate of FBT index was registered at 0.4 percent in December from 1.3 percent in November.

Under the non-good group, upward adjustments in the prices of kerosene and LPG raised the fuel, light and water index in the region by 2.3 percent from 0.2 percent.

The increase in the services index in the region was at 0.5 percent from 0.0 percent due to the continued price hikes in gasoline and diesel. Price gain in clothing index increased slightly by 0.1 percent from 0.0 percent while price increase in miscellaneous items slowed by 0.1 percent from 0.2 percent.

On the other hand, housing and repairs continued to record a zero percent growth. Overall rate of non-food group was registered at 0.6 percent from 0.1 percent.

With such rate in the price change of commodities in the region, the Bicol region’s purchasing power of the peso (PPP) in December 2009 remained at P0.61. Similarly, previous month’s PPP was maintained in Albay (P0.60), Camarines Norte (P0.60), Catanduanes (P0.56), Masbate (P0.61) and Sorsogon (P0.61). On the other hand, worth of peso declined b one centavo in Camarines Sur (P0.63 from P0.64). (NSO V/PIA)

PGMA surpasses accomplishments of 3 predecessors in terms of infrastructure projects

MANILA –- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may have been receiving a seemingly unending criticisms, but these have never diminished the enthusiasm of the second woman to lead this country to perform better.

President Arroyo has actually surpassed the records of her three predecessors in terms of the infrastructure projects accomplished by her administration in nine years in an effort to deliver the development she promised in the rural areas throughout the country.

As of December last year, the Arroyo administration has already spent P97.3 billion for the construction of roads and bridges, farm-to-market roads (FMRs), school buildings, classrooms, flood control and irrigation systems, airports, seaports and fish ports.

Actually, more roads and bridges were built nationwide during President Arroyo’s term than in the past three administrations, promoting domestic and foreign tourism while reducing the cost of travel and stimulating investments and trade.

From 2001 to 2009, a total of 47,773 kilometers of road were constructed, surpassing the 34,327 kilometers of road built during the time of former Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada.

From 1986 to 2000, the three presidents built national bridges with a total of 274,747 lineal meters, but under President Arroyo’s term, the government has constructed 289,944 lineal meters of national bridges.

Farmers and traders have experienced more efficient transport of produce, thanks to the 17,517 kilometers of farm-to-market roads built for the last eight years that also lowered the prices of produce and provided more income for the farmers.

Traders from the various regions have enjoyed cheaper costs of transporting their goods with the construction and rehabilitation of the roll-on, roll-of (ROR0) ports. The RORO operation has also significantly increased local tourism as it connects the different provinces and islands of the archipelago.

The tourism industry also experienced a boom with the construction of three new airports. Under the present administration, three airports have also been upgraded, 71 others got major facelift, while five are still under construction, including the Caticlan International Airport in Aklan.

President Arroyo described the Caticlan airport as a dream come true since the P2.507-billion project will serve the local and foreign tourists going to Boracay Island, famous the world over for its white, powdery sand beach.

“I saw this as a challenge since not all tourists are rich and have the money to spend for frequent bus and ferry transfers,“ the President said during the recent lowering of the time capsule of the airport.

The President said she is happy that airport modernization and construction, “which is one of my State- of-the-Nation Address (SONA) promises, is about to make a positive impact on the lives of the people.”

The construction and completion of more infrastructure projects have not only improved the delivery of services but also boosted the administration’s bid to post the highest average gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.6 percent since 1966.

According to Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who is the presidential economic adviser, the GDP peak growth of 8.3 percent, which happened in the second quarter of 2007, was the highest in 30 years.

In an effort to provide better learning environment, the Arroyo administration has constructed more than 100,000 new classrooms, bringing the total to 323,684 as of last year.

The country's Region 1 composed of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan and La Union provinces got the highest budget of P223 million for the construction of classrooms, followed by Bicol Region with P61 million, and Cordillera Administrative Region with P44 million.

The government has spent a total of P586.5 million for the construction of classrooms nationwide.

Before her term ends in June, the President is expected to inaugurate the much-awaited connection of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 North Extension from the Monumento Station in Caloocan City to Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 North Station near SM North EDSA in Quezon City.

With the completion of the North Extension project next month, the LRT ridership is expected to hit another new record high.

Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) Administrator Melquiades Robles said a total of 149.44 million passengers used the Baclaran-Monumento Line (Line 1) in 2009, beating the old record of 145.83 million passengers set in 1994.

Robles said the record-breaking feats were also achieved because of the LRTA’s Capacity Expansion Project (Phase II), which was completed in 2007, the acquisition of new trains as well as the speedy rehabilitation of all idled trains, some of which were inoperative for almost 15 years.

More infrastructure projects are expected to be built and completed this year and onward with the allocation of big budget for this purpose in the 2010 national budget approved by Congress.

Senate finance committee chairman Senator Edgardo Angara has said the P1.541-trillion national budget channels vital resources into the construction of major roads and bridges that will open up the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector across various provinces in the country, and create additional jobs for many Filipinos.

These include the Los Baños Interchange (P500 million), the Dinadiawan-Madela National Road in Quirino and Aurora provinces (P470 million), Pantabangan Bridge in Nueva Ecija (P502 million), the Butuan City Bypass Road (P185 million), the Allen-Malaga Road Section in Northern Samar (P500 million), Surigao-Davao Coastal Road (P728 million), Cebu North Coastal Road (P597 million), the Upgrading of Junction Sayre Highway in Valencia City, Bukidnon (P120 million) and the Sinsayon-Dabinan West Plaridel-Patul-Rosario-Caloocan (P200 million).

The Congress has also approved a P12-billion supplemental budget for reconstruction since last year’s typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng caused a total damage of P4.74 billion to infrastructure facilities. (PNA Release/PIA)

PGMA has the prerogative to appoint next SC Chief Justice -- Gonzalez

MANILA — Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. said on Monday
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can appoint the replacement or successor of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Reynato Puno who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 on May 17, 2010.

"For me, the President (PGMA) has the prerogative to appoint the Chief Justice once Justice Puno retires," Gonzalez stressed.

The retirement of Puno comes a week after the scheduled May 10, 2010 presidential elections and 45 days before the end of President Arroyo's term on June 30.

"There are instances that the submission of a list of nominees is delayed due to certain requirements and processing," Gonzalez noted.
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), a constitutional body, submits its short list of nominees, at least three or four aspirants, to the Office of the President (OP) once vacancy exists in the Judiciary.

"President Arroyo can appoint, but the list of nominees cannot be made
in advance," Gonzalez pointed out. Likewise, the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel negated the statement of Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III that he will not recognize whoever President Arroyo will appoint as the next SC Chief Justice.

"Noynoy Aquino is very arrogant in this issue and presuming that he will be the next President," Gonzalez stressed.

Aquino has stated that once he is elected president, he will not recognize the appointment of the new SC Chief Justice by President Arroyo, adding that such appointment is covered by the "prohibitive period" such that the President cannot make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions, 60 days prior to the next succeeding presidential elections until his/her term expires.

"I don't think Noynoy knows the integrity of the Constitution," Gonzalez said. (PIA V Release)

NBDB again takes train passengers on a “poetic ride of their lives”

MANILA — The National Book Development Board (NBDB) in partnership with the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), Vibal Foundation, Optical Media Board, and the Book Development Association of the Philippines formally launched the “Tulaan sa Tren 2” last Saturday, January 16 at the LRT Santolan Depot in Pasig City.

“Tulaan sa Tren 2” is a readership promotion campaign that aims to bring Philippine poetry closer to the general public.

National artist for literature Bienvenido Lumbera, the event’s guest speaker, stressed the need for the Filipino people to be aware of Philippine poetry. He said that Tulaan sa Tren is the easiest way that this can be achieved.

The Tulaan sa Tren 2 featured poems by the country’s best poets and the winning entries of the Tulaan sa Tren 2 Poetry Writing Contest, launched by the NBDB in 2009.

Featured alongside the works of revered Filipino poets like Lumbera, Rio Alma, Jose Lacaba, Marra Lanot, Marjorie Evasco, and Alfred Yuson were the winning entries by Joselito de los Reyes (1st Prize, Filipino category), Gexter Ocampo Lacambra (2nd Prize, Filipino category), Abdon Balde, Jr. (3rd Prize, Filipino category), Kristian Sendon Cordero (Runner-up, Filipino category), Danilo Diaz (Runner-up, Filipino category), Raymond Falgui (1st Prize, English category), Louella Santiago Suque (2nd Prize, English Category), and Raymund Reyes (3rd prize, English category). Mr. Lumbera and Italy’s Premio Feronia recipient Gemino Abad selected the winning poems.

The launching also witnessed the inaugural train ride from the Santolan Station to Recto Station where the poems were simultaneously read.

The affair showcased poems about travels and places, from moving house and leaving behind one’s childhood memories, to the OFW’s longing for his own country and family, the Filipino’s globalization experience, escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, and many more.

The poems also ranged from happy and nostalgic, to distressing and heart-breaking, so that even for just a few minutes, a train passenger would get a momentary break from the daily stress of every day commute. The featured poems are compiled in the book Off the Beaten Track, printed by Vibal Foundation.

Tulaan sa Tren was first launched in 2008 to bring Philippine poetry closer to the general public. Posters of poems are posted inside LRT trains, while the audio versions recorded by celebrities are played over the LRT’s public address system. (PIA V Release)

Usec. Ebarle thanks NBI, Police for Ivler’s arrest

MANILA — Presidential Chief of Staff Undersecretary Renato Ebarle Sr. on Monday thanked the law enforcement authorities for the successful arrest of road rage suspect Jason Ivler who is accused of shooting to death his son, Renato Jr. during a traffic altercation in Quezon City late last year.

“We thank the Philippine National Police (PNP), Quezon City Police District (QCPD) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the speedy solution of my son’s case. Mr. Ivler has disturbed a lot people,” Ebarle said in a telephone interview.

The elder Ebarle said Ivler and those involved in hiding him should be given a hold departure order including his step father, Stephen Pollard.

Undersecretary Ebarle noted Ivler's mother even told police that she received an e-mail from her son, saying that he was already in the United States.

The elder Ebarle said charges should be filed against the house staff of the Ivler home as well as Ivler's father, Asian Development Bank official Stephen Pollard, for harboring a known criminal.

The Palace official thanked law enforcers for not letting up on the case and for finally arresting Ivler. "It's good that he was finally arrested because he could hurt a lot more people," he said.

"Today, January 18, is the 60th day since my son was killed. He was killed on November 18. This is my only son. It's been very hard for us but this morning, our prayers were answered," he added.

Ivler, the suspect in the killing of the son of a Malacañang official, was finally arrested Monday morning by NBI operatives after a gunfight that injured an agent and allegedly, the suspect himself in Quezon City.

Initial reports showed that at 7:35 am NBI agents arrested Ivler, who was allegedly hiding inside his room located at the basement of their residence in No. 23 Hillside Drive in Blue Ridge A Subdivision in Libis, QC.

The NBI agents arrived at the suspect’s residence at around 6 a.m. Monday. Before the arrest, NBI agents were posted around the residence of Marlene Aguilar, after receiving a tip-off that Ivler had been "hiding" in the said mansion for several weeks now.

Using two ladders, several operatives went over the gate of the Aguilar residence and searched the entire house. They were greeted by the protestations of Aguilar, who earlier claimed that she was not aware of the whereabouts of her son.

A wet towel, which was seemingly dumped hurriedly at the basement floor, however, tipped NBI agents further that "someone" was inside one of the basement rooms.

NBI agents converged at the area. When agents were about to arrest Ivler, the latter allegedly open fired at the arresting team, hitting Special Investigator (SI) Anna Labao in the right leg.

Ivler, while being whisked out of the mansion, also seemed to have been hit. NBI lawyers were present during the NBI operation.

Ivler was implicated in the killing of Renato Ebarle Jr., who was gunned along Boni Serrano in Barangay Socorro, Quezon City, after figuring in a traffic altercation on November 18, 2009. Ivler was rushed to the Quirino Memorial Medical Center (QMMC) after sustaining gunshot wounds to the right shoulder and left upper abdomen.

Dr. Fernando Lopez, chief of the QMMC Surgery department, said in a telephone interview Ivler's vital signs have already stabilized although he would have to undergo surgery to remove his spleen.

"The patient has been stabilized and his vital signs are OK at the moment. He's currently under general anesthesia. The bullet went through his abdomen and pierced his large intestine," he said.

Ivler’s name was already on the Interpol Red Notice List since his warrant of arrest was released in the Philippines on December 23, 2009.

Malacañang also offered a P1-million reward for any information that would lead to Ivler’s arrest.

Ivler, an American citizen, is the stepson of an Asian Bank economist. He faced a criminal case in 2004 which accused him of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.
He was involved in a deadly car accident that killed presidential adviser Nestor Ponce Jr. in August 2004.

Road rage suspect Jason Ivler was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before dawn Monday at his family residence in Blue Ridge, Quezon City. (PIA V Release)

LPA to bring rains over southern Philippines

MANILA — The state weather bureau warned of possible landslides and flashfloods triggered by continuing rains over southern Philippines due to a low pressure area spotted near southern Mindanao, the weather bureau said.

In its 11 a.m. bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that the weather disturbance was located at 230 kms West of Southern Mindanao.

"Occasional to frequent rains over Visayas and Mindanao can be expected, particularly over the Central and Eastern sections which may trigger flashfloods and landslides," it said.

"Residents along the flood and landslide prone areas are advised to take all the necessary precautionary measures," Pagasa added.

The rest of the country, including Metro Manila, will have mostly cloudy skies with scattered light rains.

The northeast monsoon is still affecting eastern seaboards of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao which may cause rough seas.

Pagasa also warned operators of small fishing boats or sea crafts against strong to gale force wind which is expected to affect the seaboards of Luzon, Visayas and Eastern Mindanao while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves. (PIA V Release)