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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

… showcases whalesharks, world-classs Misibis resort, eco tourism

LEGAZPI CITY — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited Monday, February 22, Bicol to kick-off the tour on Central Philippines of Super Region on Tourism showcasing Bicol’s tourist destinations the likes of the whaleshark interaction in Dosol, Sorsogon and world-class Misibis Bay Raintree resort and spa in Cagraray Island in Albay.

President Arroyo arrived at 1:00 PM at the Legazpi City Airport, proceeded to Donsol town in Sorsogon, known as “whaleshark capital of the world”, for the media interaction activities citing the administration’s milestone legacies on tourism development, especially in the Bicol region.

Donsol has been cashing in on the development of the town’s world-class tourist destination, wherein it used to be a sixth-class, sleepy, remote fishing village in the northwestern part of Sorsogon, but now a first-class municipality that derives the bulk of its revenues from eco-tourism.

Its major eco-tourism activity is whale shark watching and interaction that was already featured in Time Magazine in 2004 as ''Best Animal Encounter in Asia''

''The whale shark interaction has changed the lives of the people here,'' the President said.

In Donsol, the President also cited local government unit (LGU) officials, including Sorsogon Gov. Sally Lee, Donsol Mayor Jerome Alcantara, and Department of Tourism (DOT) Bicol Director Maria Ravanilla, for their continued support and contributions in pursuit of her vision to turn Central Philippines into a globally competitive tourism destination.

The President also met with Allan Amanse, one of the beneficiaries of the development of eco-tourism in this municipality, citing that “this local used to earn a measly P100 a day as a fisherman and tricycle driver, but now he earns ten times what he used to earn or about P1,000 a day by being a whale shark or ‘butanding' interaction guide.

The President also noted the increase in the number of beach resorts in the area.

At night time, President Arroyo hosted a dinner for the media at the world-class Misibis Bay Raintree resort and spa, and during conversation at the President’s table, affirmed that Bicol has rich natural wonders, long beaches and eco-tourism sites

“The government's task is to provide more roads, airports, and bridges to make these tourists’ destinations more readily accessible to tourists,” she pointed out.

The President said government plans to build an international airport in Daraga, Albay so tourists need not come from Manila to visit Donsol. Instead, foreigner tourists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, among others can fly directly to Albay.

Bicol is part of Tourism Central Philippines super region, one of the five growth corridors identified in President Arroyo’s super region development strategy that is known for its natural wonders and rich cultural heritage.

The Present spent the night at the resort, and left the next day around 8:00 PM for Palawan. (MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is appealing to those running for public office in this coming May 2010 elections to observe the law covering the posting of campaign materials.

Joselin Marcus Fragada, DENR Bicol regional executive director, recently issued the appeal upon noticing the widespread posting of campaign propaganda materials many of which are mounted, posted, nailed or stapled wire on trees along roadsides.

“Spare our trees from harm! Let’s not nail propaganda materials on them!” Fragada said.

Foresters have observed a sudden increase in infection of trees five to six months after election due to wounds inflicted by the nails and staple wires used to post campaign materials on them, the DENR official said.

The DENR’s involvement in the tearing down and removing of campaign materials in public places outside the common poster areas started when the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) issued Resolution No. 6616 dated February 12, 2004 entitled “In the Matter of Deputizing the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the purpose of implementing COMELEC Resolution No. 6520.”

The said Resolution deputized the MMDA and DENR to perform the following specific duties:

1) to tear down and remove campaign propaganda materials posted in public places outside the common poster areas,
2) To tear down and remove illegal campaign materials wherever posted and displayed,
3) To make report of said activities done by then, and
4) To monitor and watch out for persons posting and distributing said unlawful election paraphernalia and to arrest said persons caught in flagrante delicto.

The then DENR Secretary, it will be recalled, wrote a letter to the then COMELEC Chairman requesting him to deputize employees and officials of the DENR to remove illegally placed campaign materials, the department being “the primary government agency responsible for the protection, conservation, management and development and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources”.

The request was made in line with Section 24 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 9006 (Fair Election Practices Act) promulgated by the COMELEC in January 6, 2003 prohibiting the posting of campaign materials in public places outside the designated common poster areas such as streets, bridges, public structures or building, trees, electric posts or wires, schools, shrines, main thoroughfares and the like.

Fragada said he will issue an instruction to DENR field offices to coordinate with COMELEC officials and concerned law enforcement agencies on the removal of campaign propaganda materials posted on trees in their area of jurisdiction.

Per Section 21b of COMELEC Resolution No. 8758 pertaining to the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 9006, otherwise known as the Fair Election Practices Act, in relation to the May 10, 2010 Synchronized National and Local Elections, and Subsequent Elections,” promulgated on February 4, 2010, “The posting of campaign materials in public places outside of the designated common poster areas such as streets, bridges, public structures or buildings, trees, electric posts or wires, schools, shrines, main thoroughfares and the like is prohibited.”

“Members of the PNP and other law enforcement agencies called upon by the Election Officers or other officials of the COMELEC shall apprehend the violators caught in the act, and file the appropriate charges against,” the same Resolution further states.

The said Resolution states that a common poster area does not refer to a post, a tree, the wall of a building or an existing public structure that is in active use, but a structure, location and number of which are determined (in the following Sec 22b) that is temporarily set-up by the candidates or political parties for the exclusive purpose of displaying their campaign posters.

It may also be recalled that the COMELEC promulgated Resolution 7623 on February 14, 2007 deputizing barangay officials and barangay tanods of all cities and municipalities through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), with the authority and duties to tear down and remove campaign materials posted in public places outside the common poster areas.

Fragada said that in removing campaign materials posted on trees, the DENR is also guided by Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3571, otherwise known as “An Act to Prohibit the Cutting, Destroying or Injuring of Planted or Growing Trees, Flowering Plants and Shrubs or Plants of Scenic Value Along Public Roads, in Places, Parks, School Premises or in any Other Public Grounds.”

Even as Fragada appeals for the proper posting of election campaign materials here urged the public anew to take care for the trees and nurture them well as trees help us contain greenhouse gases emission like carbon dioxide that cause global warming and climate change. (ASAraya, DENR V/PIA)


MASBATE CITY—The Provincial Agriculture Office disclosed on Friday (February 19) the island-province of Masbate will require artificial method to induce rainfall immediately because the island’s soil has started drying up and the supply of water has become scarce.

Provincial Agriculturist Orlando D. Esparraguerra said his office has been monitoring the situation in the province particularly its main island because the supply of water in the area was dropping fast.

Advisories of Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) stated that Masbate’s closest neighbors, including Capiz and Sorsogon, were already in drought as they suffered from lack of rainfall in the last few months of 2009.

The El Niño is a periodic atmospheric disturbance characterized by deficient rainfall and prolonged drought in some areas. This results in severe damage to crops, livestock, property and even human lives.

Esparraguerra said most farms that are feeling the effects of El Niño are planted to rice and corn.

He reported that about 121,000 cavans of palay and 32,120 cavans of corn in expected crop harvest may be lost this year because of the drought caused by El Niño.

On Esparraguerra’s advice, Governor Elisa Kho asked the Department of Agriculture to conduct cloud seeding in Masbate.

In a Feb. 9 letter to Marilyn Sta. Catalina, DA acting regional executive director, the governor said cloud seeding, in addition to other measures, is direly needed in Masbate to cope with the impact of the dry spell.

An aircraft is used in cloud seeding in which each cloud seeding operation, aviation authorities said, would require one flying hour and cost about P50,000.
(EADelgado, PIA Masbate)


CAWAYAN, Masbate — Mayor Edgar S. Condor of this town has affirmed his commitment to allot a counterpart funding for the implementation of the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Community Integrated Development and Social Service (KALAHI-CIDSS) project here.

In a brief talk with Assistant Regional Director Evelyn M. Lontok of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol, Condor has assured the municipal government will shell out the P8.1 million counterpart for the entire cycle (one year) of the KALAHI-CIDSS regardless of the 2010 election.

“I am positive and excited about this project,” Condor said, adding that during the initial negotiation, he did not even think of implementing other special projects but allocated the full counterpart for KALAHI-CIDSS.

In fact, the mayor conducted a municipal assembly to make sure that the 37 barangays are also ready to allocate their counterpart.

“We want everything in place for the smooth implementation of the KALAHI-CIDSS, DSWD has programs and projects proven to help the poor—we have 4Ps or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and now we have KALAHI-CIDSS. We are lucky because the government has not forsaken us,” Condor remarked.

Lontok, meanwhile, said that Cawayan town is indeed lucky because it is the only municipality in Bicol chosen for the additional 16 municipalities to implement KALAHI-CIDSS nationwide.

She bared KALAHI will pour P16.6 million grant fund for Cawayan.

Lontok said initially two other municipalities – Dimasalang and Mobo enrolled in KALAHI-CIDSS but has only 59 and 57 percentage of poverty incidence, as compared to Cawayan with 74 per cent poverty incidence.

“We are fast tracking hiring members of the Area Coordinating Team so that we could proceed to the municipal orientation this March. We are also positive that the LGU officials headed by mayor Condor will sustain their support even after the project ends in March 2011,” sheadded.

Meanwhile, the KALAHI-CIDSS project in Bicol region has funded a total of 667 community infrastructures and interventions that responded to the people’s prioritized problems from 2003-1009 in the amount of P779,668,600.26. Over 160,065 household beneficiaries presently reap benefits from the project.

KALAHI-CIDSS is the largest poverty alleviation portfolio of the World Bank in the Philippines. (CLMartinez, KCRSMO-DSWD/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — 87 Bicolano elementary graduates have qualified as scholars of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Philippine Science High School (PSHS) based on the Freshmen Admission Processing System.

DOST Bicol Regional Director Tomas B. Briñas explained that the passers of the DOST-PSHS examination given last November 7, 2009 in six testing centers in Bicol, are qualified to enter PSHS for school year 2010-2011.

Of the 87 successful examinees, eight may opt to enroll in PSHS Main Campus in Diliman, Quezon City or Goa Campus in Camarines Sur, together with 79 qualifiers.

The PSHS scholars for SY 2010-2011 include 25 in Albay, 10 in Camarines Norte, 35 in Camarines Sur, 6 in Catanduanes, 3 in Masbate, and 8 in Sorsogon.

The eight qualifiers at PSHS Main Campus are Candano, Danielle Bea Cortez (Legazpi City); Lagrito, Christian Kent Manila (Legazpi City); Mallapre, Owen Tito Orbase (Camarines Sur); Parañal, Vince Christian Lavilla (Iriga City); Roco Russel Avery Imperial (Naga City); Salceda, Trisha Montais (Iriga City); Tatel, Nonito John Liguid (Catanduanes), and Villareal, Kristen Leanne Emberga (Sorsogon City).

The institution has already notified the qualifiers and their parents through individual notices by mail.

For more inquiries and further details, the qualifiers can visit or call PSHS-Bicol Region Campus at telephone nos. (054) 453-2048/453-1463 or PSHS Main Campus at telephone no. (02) 924-0614. (POLucena/CLGillego, DOST V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY – Nine graduating high school students from across the Bicol region are among the top 150 passers out of 2,363 national examinees for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Education for Development Scholarship Program (EDSP) for the school year 2010-2011.

OWWA Bicol Regional Director Jocelyn O. Hapal disclosed that the nine successful examinees are: Kristin E. Antivola (Gubat, Sorsogon), Carina O. Capsa (Gubat, Sorsogon), Jerome D. Balanoyos (Bulan, Sorsogon), Carlo B. Ditan (Sorsogon City, Sorsogon), Ralph Christian G. Bodollo (Pili, Camarines Sur), Peter Paul Victor J. Canada (Naga City, Camarines Sur), Elsie R. Delfin (Tabaco City, Albay), Loren A. Bolilan (Tabaco City, Albay), and Anna Trisha A. Olivera (Ligao City, Albay).

EDSP is a scholarship grant offered to qualified beneficiaries/dependents of OWWA member-OFWs who intend to enroll in any 4- to 5- year baccalaureate course, with financial assistance amounting to P30,000) per semester, or a maximum of P60,000 per school year covering the tuition fees and allowances.

“We are very proud of these young Bicolanos who bring pride and source of inspiration and hope for their parent-OFWs.” Hapal said.

The nine successful examinees, together with their parents or guardians will be awarded with the certificates of scholarship on March 9, 2010 at the OWWA regional office here.
The qualifying exam was administered throughout the country by OWWA in coordination with the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) last November 15, 2009. Bicol region had a total of 133 EDSP applicant-examinees. (OWWA V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — Some 32,325 new household beneficiaries covering 46 municipalities in all provinces of the Bicol region will benefit from the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office here.

Remia Tapispisan, DSWD Bicol director, elaborated that for Set 3 areas, the validation and registration for the first seven new municipalities were conducted last January 17-28, this year

“An estimated 7,643 potential household beneficiaries registered in Dimasalang, Mobo, Palanas, and Cataingan towns in Masbate; Pilar and Castilla in Sorsogon and Balatan, Camarines Sur,” she added.

Registration for Bacacay, Malilipot, Manito, Pioduran, Rapu-Rapu and Sto. Domingo of Albay province; Garchitorena, Camarines Sur and Matnog, Sorsogon will be conducted this month, while the registration for the remaining municipalities are still to be set.

Selection of Set 3 areas of the program is based on the 2003 Small Area Estimates, poverty incidence, and pockets of poverty of the municipality.

Poverty incidence refers to the proportion of families/individuals with per capita income/expenditure less than the per capita poverty threshold to the total number of families/individuals.

Pockets of poverty refer to the geographical area/s in the barangay or municipality/city where clusters of poor households reside. These areas are characterized by pre-determined indicator.

The other set of 3 areas are Mercedes, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Paracale, Sta. Elena and Capalonga in Camarines Norte; Bagamanoc, Caramoran, Pandan in Catanduanes; Ligao City, Tabaco City, Legazpi City, Polangui, Jovellar, Pioduran, Bacacay, Daraga in Albay; Naga City, Cabusao, Siruma, Tinambac, Caramoan, Presentacion, Sagnay, San Jose, Bula, Ragay, Del Gallego, Libmanan, Lupi, Pasacao, Minalabac and Pamplona in Camarines Sur.

4Ps is a poverty alleviation program of the government under President Gloria Arroyo that aims to help the poorest of the poor by extending conditional cash grants to household beneficiaries by complying to verifiable conditions set by the program.

Bicol has 56,124 household beneficiaries from its Set 1 and 2 areas namely: Cawayan, Esperanza, Placer, Uson, Balud, San Pascual, Claveria, Monreal, Mandaon, Milagros and Aroroy in Masbate; Libon, Albay; and Donsol, Sorsogon. (MZVillagomez, 4Ps IO DSWD V/PIA)

PGMA transfers water board supervision to DENR

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has transferred the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) Secretariat from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In Executive Order 860 dated last February 8, the President also ordered NWRB to “desist from regulating the water tariffs of water districts”, which will now be undertaken by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

LWUA currently supervises the bulk of water districts in the country, which has resulted in the government bringing potable water to most Filipinos in the last nine years.

The NWRB Secretariat will be chaired by the DENR Secretary and co-chaired by the Socio-Economic Planning Secretary/director general of the National Economic and Development Authority. Members of the Secretariat are the Department of Justice Secretary, the Science and Technology Secretary, the National Hydraulic Research Center director, and a representative from the University of the Philippines.

“The primary function of the NWRB shall be to control and regulate the utilization, exploitation, conservation, and protection of water resources in accordance with the specific provisions of the Water Code,” the EO noted.

The Philippines is currently experiencing a moderate El Nino phenomenon, which means the rainy season will start late this year.

As a result, the critical level in dams as well as drought in several farming areas has destroyed thousands of hectares of corn and rice, mostly in northern Luzon. The lack of water has also worsened the power crisis, particularly in Mindanao, which is dependent on hydropower. (PIA V Release)

PGMA rides MRT-LRT loop train in EDSA Day “dry run”; then meets billion-peso taxpayers

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will lead a flag-raising tomorrow (February 25) at the People Power Monument at EDSA in Quezon City to commemorate the 24th year of the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

She will also observe EDSA Day with two other events: test ride of the near-complete LRT-MRT loop project also in Quezon City and the launch in Makati of the large taxpayers campaign of the Bureau of Internal Revenue which will feature the Billionaires Club awards to four biggest corporate taxpayers in the country.

Vice President Noli de Castro and several cabinet members will join her in the MRT-LRT dry run.

As of December 2009, physical interconnection of the MRT3-LRT1 loop has been completed although the 5.7 kilometer stretch of the LRT 1 North Extension project has been 80.9% complete.

The project, which costs about P7.5 billion has four stations: Monumento, Balintawak and Roosevelt including the common one at North Avenue. This will close the EDSA Loop as this would be connected to the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 in North Avenue Station. The Balintawak station will provide modal interchange for bus and jeepney services entering Metro Manila from the north via the North Luzon Expressway.

The project also involved the construction of a P777-million Grand Central Terminal, which will connect the existing MRT Line 3 to the future lines as MRT 7.

LRT Line 1 currently runs from Baclaran in Pasay City to Monumento in Caloocan City. Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 runs from the intersection of Edsa and Taft Avenue in Pasay City up to the North Avenue in Quezon City.

The integrated terminal provides for seamless rail operation of Lines 1 and 3. Upon completion, the LRT 1 and the loop is expected to serve about 800,000 to one million passengers .

In the afternoon, the President will launch the Large Taxpayers Service (LTS) campaign of the BIR at the NBC Tent in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, to help raise awareness on the importance of paying the proper tax obligations.

Included in the event is a video presentation of the BIR’s Large Taxpayer System (LTS), a computerized accounting system particularly for the estimated 1,500 firms in the country which are classified as large taxpayers.

During the BIR launching, the President will also award the Billionaires’ Club to the country’s largest taxpayers that include the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Nestle Philippines Incorporated and Holcim Philippines Incorporated. (PIA V Release)

PGMA orders CAAP to resolve US-FAA downgrade of RP’s aviation ratings

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to immediately resolve the civil aviation ratings downgrade of the Philippines by the US Federal Aviation Authority (US-FAA) so that the country can capitalize on the rebound of international travel and the corresponding global tourism boom.

Talking to reporters covering President Arroyo’s inspection of the tourism-related projects in the Central Philippines Super Region, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said the President wants the FAA ratings downgrade issue to be resolved at once.

“Her guidance to the CAAP is that the sooner the issue is resolved, the better for us so we can take advantage of the rebounding international routes,” Durano added.
Durano said the President wanted CAAP (headed by Ruben Ciron) to infuse more technical experts in the agency to overcome the concerns on aviation safety standards in the country

FAA, the US aviation watchdog, downgraded in 2007 the Philippine aviation ratings from Category I to Category 2 along with countries like Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia due to concerns” about air safety operations which, it said, were not compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.
Durano said the President took note of the rebounding global economies, which means more travel by citizens of countries whose economic conditions are improving.

He added that national carrier Philippine Air Lines’ planned expansion of flights to and from North America through its Boeing-777 jumbo jet, the world’s largest twin jet, fleet has been stunted due to the downgrade.

“The FAA downgraded us to Category 2 and because of that, we cannot maximize our opportunities coming from North America, especially now that Philippine Air Lines has new 777 and we cannot use it for this route,” Durano said.

Durano stressed that a contributing factor to the FAA downgrade was the lack of the technical personnel for specific CAAP functions. (PIA V Release)

Palace happy with $1.1B raised via samurai bonds

MANILA — Malacanang expressed satisfaction at the pricing of the 100-billion yen ($1.1 billion) samurai bonds, which showed the foreign markets’ confidence in the Philippines.

“We congratulate Secretary Margarito Teves and his team at the Department of Finance for a successful offering of 10-year samurai yen bonds today. This landmark issue, which realized substantial savings on both credit and currency costs, reconfirmed our credit strength relative to benchmark sovereign borrowers like Indonesia and improved liquidity by widening our market presence abroad. The market is always the best judge of fundamentals and the success of this issue is a clear vote of approval over and above the campaign noise for the economic record of this presidency,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar.

The country’s 2.32 percent 10-year notes compares favorably with the 2.73 percent that Indonesia paid in July last year on 35-billion yen bonds. In November, Colombia paid a 2.42 percent coupon on a similar-maturity debt. Mexico paid a lower 2.22 percent for its samurai bonds in December but its foreign currency long-term rating by Standard and Poor’s was four levels higher than the Philippines’ BB minus.

The samurai bonds, which were 95 percent guaranteed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, completes the country’s plan to raise $2.5 billion overseas this year. Early in January this year, the country raised $1.5 billion in dollar-denominated bonds, also at better than expected market rates.

Borrowings raised from abroad will help narrow the country’s budget deficit, which stood at P293 billion ($6.3 billion) last year. (PIA V Release)

DA to farmers: Grow veggies, other cash crops while El Nino dries up rice, corn lands

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) urged Tuesday (February 23) rice and corn farmers all over the country to shift to vegetables and other cash crops to cushion the impact of the El Nino weather phenomenon on their livelihood.

Agriculture Undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla hinted that vegetable cultivation could be a lucrative endeavor for farmers who might be affected by the protracted dry spell called El Nino.

“Our country’s consumption of vegetables is still very low,” Fondevilla told reporters covering President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s visit here to a major tourist site, adding there is much room for expansion.

Emerging from a Cabinet meeting being held at a beach resort in Barangay Sabang in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Fondevilla said “there is enough room for expansion for farmers likely to be hit by the drought.”

President Arroyo presided at the Cabinet meeting after touring the world-renowned St. Paul Subterranean River National Park on a canoe, escorted by local government officials and Palawan-based journalists. The meeting tackled the Arroyo administration’s economic and anti-poverty policies.

The DA official disclosed that the government, for its part, has mapped out a contingency plan that includes subsidies to the farmers in terms of seeds and other farming inputs.

As early as July last year, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap directed all DA officials in charge of various commodities like palay and corn to draw up their respective contingency plans in preparation for El Niño.

The order was given to the heads of the different Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) programs.

The heads of the various commodity groups were instructed to craft their respective contingency plans designed to mitigate the adverse impact of El Nino on the farmers.

The DA official also said his department would streamline its budget program to ensure that a lion’s share of DA funds go to funding programs meant for the country to attain food security and sufficiency in the medium term despite challenges such as climate change and globalize trade. (PIA V Release)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CENPHIL SUPER REGION ON TOURISM GAINING GROUNDS... President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo confers with resort owner Elizalde Co and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal reaffirming that Bicol has rich natural wonders, long beaches and eco-tourism sites and the government's task is to provide more roads, airports, and bridges to make these tourists’ destinations more readily accessible to tourists. Bicol is part of Tourism Central Philippines super region, one of the five growth corridors identified in President Arroyo’s super region development strategy, that is known for its natural wonders and rich cultural heritage. (Alex Cal/PIA)
WORLD CLASS MISIBIS BAY RAINTREE RESORTS AND SPA... President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo listens to the rondalla group followinng the deinner she hosted for the media and local dignitaries in Misibis. The president is joined by (L-R) Albay 1st District Cong. Edcel Lagman, Misibis Resort owner Elizalde Co. (Alex Cal/PIA)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DONSOL TOURISM BOOM... President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Sorsogon Governor Sally Lee were all smiles on the development of tourism industry in Donsol, which used to be a sixth-class, sleepy, remote fishing village in the northwestern part of Sorsogon, is now a first-class municipality that derives the bulk of its revenues from eco-tourism, specifically on whale sharks that abound in the local waters during the months of December to May. (Alex Cal/PIA)
IT IN SCHOOL... President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo check on the internet facilities of Donsol National Comprehensive High School (DNCHS) in Donsol,Sorsogon last Monday, February 22. (from L to R) Sorsogon Gov. Sally Lee, Donsol Mayor Jerome Alcantara and PA for Educ. Mona O. Valisno also join the President in doing rounds of the facilities. (Alex Cal/PIA)

Saturday, February 20, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY---Albay would become the first province in the country to pioneer a tool to battle climate change, address disaster risks, and achieve sustainable development when a tripartite agreement on the creation of the Albay Sustainable Development Guidebook would be finally signed next week.

Albay provincial government, the Manila Observatory (MO) and Chevron Geothermanl Philippines (CGPHI) is expected to sign the Memorandum of Agreement on Thursday (February 24)

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said that the Guidebook is a response to the need to proactively address key issues of climate change and disaster preparedness in a local setting.

”This is the first time a study of this kind has been undertaken at the provincial scale, and we plan to make this a part of the accountability process in our land use planning,” Salceda noted.

“I am proud that Albay will not only be the first province to take the lead in creating a comprehensive program for this critical issue, but also to serve as a model for other provinces and communities to follow,” he said.

He added that MO is the Philippines’ leading scientific research institution on climate change and has been appointed to manage this 20-month program to study the geological, climate, disaster risks, and socio-economic indicators specific to the province, and to provide effective recommendations to address these risks.

Salceda explained that study would be focusing on the area spanning the critical Malinao watershed and Tiwi coast within the province.

"MO, in coordination with the provincial government and CGPHI, will undertake and analyze extensive satellite, climate, and technical analysis and field work to fully determine these risks and recommendations which can, in turn, serve as a planning and development tool for the province," he explained.

For their part, Antonia Loyzaga, MO executive director, said that “their group believes that public-private partnerships between a scientific institution like MO, a proactive government such as Albay, and a private investor and corporate citizen in the form of Chevron, are among the most effective ways to confront the complexities of climate and disaster risks which can be replicated in other provinces.

“The ultimate goal is to build the capacities of provinces like Albay and others around the country so they can not only manage risks within their own communities, but together plan for the future by laying the foundation for the Philippines’ response to climate change and sustainable development," she explained.

Tony Yee, president and general manager of CGPHI, which pioneered geothermal development in the country beginning in Tiwi, Albay, said that they partnered with MO and the Albay LGU by commissioning and funding the Guidebook as part of its Corporate Responsibility and Community Engagement Program.

“As a long-term partner to our host community, CGPHI believes this Guidebook will both sustain the watershed that supports our geothermal operations, while building the capacity and collaboration with our community stakeholders to improve disaster preparedness and mitigate the effects of climate change for now and the future,"Yee said.

Salceda expressed confidence that once the Sustainable Development Guidebook is completed in June 2011, the findings will be utilized by the Albay LGU and shared with other municipalities for their development planning purposes. (CTDematera, BUCAL/PIA)


SORSOGON PROVINCE (February 17) – The provincial government of Sorsogon recognizes for the second consecutive year Local Government Unit’s (LGUs) best community health initiatives during the recently concluded 2nd Sulong Salud Sorsoganon Awards.

Through the Provincial Health Office (PHO) in partnership with the Center for Health Development – Department of Health Region V and the Lingap Para sa Kalusugan ng Sambayanan (LIKAS), the 2nd Sulong Salud Sorsoganon Awards feted LGUs with best health programs, projects and practices in the barangay, municipal, inter-local health zone and hospital level.

Dr. Gladys D. Escote, Formula1 program pocal person of the PHO – Technical Services Department said that of the eight entries from five LGUs and one Inter-Local Health Zone from across the province received by the screening committee, the following top three best health practices were chosen:
• Barangay Health Worker’s Association Community Pharmacy of Sta. Magdalena town – First Place
• “Sa Buntis na Handa at Ligtas, Pamilya’y May Maligayang Bukas” of Casiguran Rural Health Unit (RHU) in Casiguran town – Second Place
• Animal Bite Treatment Center: Bringing Services Closer to the Community of the Bulan, Irosin, Matnog and Sta. Magdalena (BIMS) Inter-Local Health Zone – Third Place

Included in the finalists are: Improving RHU Performance through Effective Supervisory System of Barcelona RHU, “Kalusugan ng Ina at Sanggol… Pag sa RHU Inaruga, Syurbol!” of Matnog RHU, and the Social Mobilization on TB Project of the Sorsogon City Health Office.

Top three winners received each a trophy and cash award from the Sulong Salud Sorsoganon while the finalists received each a plaque of recognition.

“Winners and finalists will also be given the opportunity to be nominated to other award-giving bodies of similar interest at the regional, national and international level aside from the opportunity for best health LGU initiatives to be published in local and global circulation,” said Escote.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Sulong Salud Sorsoganon Sustainability Award are also received by the Casiguran Birthing Home of the municipality of Casiguran, “Safe Pregnancy Towards a Healthy and Progressive Community” of Bulan-RHU, and the “Barangay Health Station (BHS) Padaba Ko, Kumpleto Records Ko” of Sapnangan BHS in Bulusan town, the three were also the top winners of the 1st Sulong Salud Sorsoganon the past year.

Other sustainability award recipients are Networking Towards Alleviation of Suffering of Patient with Disability Associated with Lymphatic Filariasis project of Bulusan RHU, Irosin Controlled Dumpsite: Ecological Park of Irosin RHU and the Proficient Health Personnel Towards Quality Health Service Delivery of Gubat, Prieto Diaz, Bulusan and Barcelona (GuPriBBar) Inter-Local Health Zone.

The Sulong Salud Sorsoganon Awards is an award-giving body that recognizes and documents LGUs best health initiatives that are people-centered, doable, sustainable and replicable and have not yet been recognized by any award-giving body. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


SORSOGON CITY — Twenty years and counting.

The Sorsogon Arts Council (SAC) is celebrating its 20th Foundation Anniversary this February coinciding with the observance of the National Arts Month.

Mr. Dan Razo of the Community-based Theater Group (CBTG)-Bukawel Performing Arts, a member organization under the umbrella of SAC, revealed that they are gearing for short performances and excerpts of some of the plays written by SAC founding Chairman Reynaldo “Tootsie” Jamoralin as a tribute for his great contributions in the field of arts.

Razo said that the performances will be the highlight of the general assembly of SAC in the afternoon of February 26, 2010 at the Sorsogon Museum and Heritage Center here.

“Our local artists will discuss, share and propose strategies, activities, programs and projects, including emergent concerns, for the promotion of local or Bikolnon arts and culture, in particular, and the true Filipino arts and culture, in general,” Ella Grajo-Jamoralin said.

The SAC ad-hoc committee/convenor’s group is regularly convening on Saturdays since January this year to pursue the initiatives of its founding chairman.

It can be recalled that Jamoralin was instrumental in the realization of the Sorsogon Museum and Heritage Center which the SAC is a member organization. (JJJPerez, SAC-Sorsogon/PIA)


CATANDUANES Province — The Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)in Bicol and the Provincial Agricultural and Services Office (PASO) in this province have slated a series of interfacings with concerned sectors on the different programs and projects of the government on the sectors’ development.

The duo agencies also intend to strengthen the organization of the Fisheries Aquatic Resource Management Councils (FARMCs) in the 11 municipalities to identify common predicaments of the involved sectors, consequently, address them through the agency’s intervention and community cooperation.

Among the projects and programs are BFAR and PASO need to intensify among FARMC’s include fishery law enforcement, formulation of municipal fish ordinances, coastal resource management and new trends on mud crab culture, seaweed culture, and post harvest technology.

Other activities will be the harvesting of grouper cultured in fish cage in Caramoran, test planting of seaweeds in Pandan, and launching of aquasilviculture in Magnesia del Sur in Virac.

The 24-day event will start in Caramoran, then Bagamanoc, Panganiban, Viga, Gigmoto, Baras, Bato, Virac, San Andres, San Miguel and Pandan.

This routinary activity of PASO and BFAR will be held from February 10 until March 5. (OAPrivaldos, BUCAL/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte – The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) here has recently conducted a demonstration on the use of Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machine in preparation for the May 10, 2010 automated national and local elections.

Local politicians, COMELEC-deputized agencies, heads of agencies and local government units (LGUs) across the province took their time to test and scrutinize the capability and credibility of the equipment all vying for clean and honest elections.

Atty. Annie A. Romero-Cortez, provincial elections supervisor, meanwhile disclosed that the number of registered voters per municipality in the first district totaling to 138,078 and 123, 956 in the second district or a total of 262,034 registered voters in the whole province.

Smartmatic-TIM representatives, on the other hand, demonstrated the use of PCOS machines, from insertion of the ballots, to counting, and transmission of results.

COMELEC Assistant Regional Director Atty. Romeo B. Fortes, clarified that the agency is doing its best to speed up preparations for the coming elections, specially on demonstration of the PCOS machine and educating voters and the general populace on the poll automation.

He added that similar activities were held in the first congressional district. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


LEGAZPI CITY — seven Bicolanos youth who have outstanding achievements in Science and Mathematics were honored as national awardees for the Department of Science and Technology-Youth Excellence in Science (DOST-YES).

DOST Bicol Regional Director Romas B. Briñas said that the awards program is in consonance with the Science Education Institute’s (DOST-SEI) thrust to develop Science culture among the citizenry.

The YES national awardees are:

John Reinier B. Bulaong Ateneo de Naga (Bronze) 2009 China Junior High School Math Olympiad, Tianjin, China;

Joseph Ma. Francis C. de Leon, Blessed International Christian Academy (Bronze) - 2009 China Primary Math Olympiad, Tianjin, China; (Silver/Team) - 2009 Wizards at Mathematics International Competition, Luknow, India; (Bronze) – 2009 Philippine International Mathematics Competition, Philippines;

Christian Rey Notario, Marcial O. Rañola Memorial School (Bronze) – 2009 China Primary Math Olympiad, Tiankin, China;

Brian James T. Masalunga, Naga Hope Christian School (Silver) – 2009 Wizards of Mathematics International Competition, Luknow, India; (Bronze) – 2009 Philippine International Mathematics Competition, Luknow, India;

Trisha Nicole T. Aman, Naga Hope Christian School (Silver and Silver/Team) – 2009 China Junior High School Math Olympiad, Tianjin, China; (Bronze, Merit/Team, Gold/Group, Gold/Puzzle) – 2009 Philippine International Mathematics Competition, Philippines;

Gio Eledao, Philippine Science High School (Bronze) – 3rd International Earth Science Olympiad, Taipei, Taiwan;

Jillian Therese G. Robredo, Universidad de Sta. Isabel (Silver) – 5th International Mathematics Competition (IMC) in Singapore.

The awarding of DOST-YES Medals to Region V Student-Achievers was held last February 12, 2010, at the DOST Bicol regional office here.

DOST, through the YES Award, has institutionalized the recognition system for international young achievers in Science and Mathematics competition in the elementary, secondary and collegiate levels. YES is a national award was undertaken by the Science Education Institute (SEI) under DOST. (POLucena, DOSTV/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte – The Department of Labor and Employment Office (DOLE) here has revealed at least 18 cases on violation of Labor Code of the Philippines covering January to February this year.

Ruben L. Romanillos, chief of DOLE Camarines Norte, said 7 violators were charged in January and 6 were already resolved, a case still pending in court; 11 cases were recorded this month and now being heard in court.

He said that majority of cases violated the Labor Code, including non-payment of separation pay, underpayment and other problems of employees from their employers in private establishments.

He said that last year they recorded some 62 cases as compared to 60 cases in 2008.

Romanillos reminded employers that the 13th month pay among private sectors is mandatory under Presidential Decree No. 851.

He explained that all employees in the private sectors aside from the government sectors having any positions and designations should receive said benefits even if they just work for one month of the calendar year. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)

DOT chief to LGUs: Develop more tourism products

MANILA — Tourism Secretary Ace Durano today called on local government units (LGUs) nationwide to develop more tourism products to make their respective localities key tourist destinations.

At the same time, Durano urged media and other stakeholders to vigorously support the campaign to muster international acceptance of the famous underground river in Puerto Princesa, Palawan as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Durano told reporters from the Visayas, Palawan and Bicol regions attending a media briefing and open forum at the Heroes Hall of Malacañang that tourist attractions are all over the country, but only a few are considered destinations that bring in tourists the whole year round.

Other resource speakers at the forum were Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr., Director Dennis Arroyo of the National Economic and Development Authority, and Presidential Management Staff Undersecretary Andy Cui.

The Tourism chief explained that such festivals as Dinagyang in Iloilo, Sinulog in Cebu and Ati-Atihan in Aklan are held only once a year and do not attract a continuous flow of visitors unlike beaches and other ecotourism magnets.

The visit to the Palace by the regional journalists ushers in President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s weeklong sortie around the Central Philippines Tourism Super Region, one of five growth areas identified by the government under its Super Regions development strategy.

In his remarks, Icban said the President’s Super Regions travels were meant to underscore her milestone achievements over the past nine years which she intends to turn over to the next President “who will build on them further.”

Central Philippines Tourism Super Region is composed of Regions 4B, Regions 5 to 8, as well as the provinces of Romblon, Palawan, Camiguin and the island of Siargao “whose natural wonders and cultural heritage, complemented by the extraordinary hospitality and warmth of the people, make these places potential world-class tourist detinations.”

“Central Philippines accounts for more than 50 percent of the country’s tourism industry,” Durano said. He added that the Philippines’ tourism sector remained afloat, while other countries suffered setbacks.

Government records showed that the country’s tourism industry remained resilient, posting a 6-percent growth in foreign tourist arrivals in the first half of 2009 amidst an 8.5-percent decline worldwide.

A total of 3.14 million foreigners visited the country in 2008, compared to only 869,665 in 2000. Local and foreign tourists in the country’s top destinations totaled 5.2 million from January to September 2009, representing a 17-percent increase from the 4.5 million in 2008.

Cebu topped the list of 14 leading tourist destinations in the Philippines, followed by Camarines Sur and Metro Manila in that order.

Camarines Sur, however, posted the highest growth last year with a hefty 117.25 percent, or from 721,024 local and foreign visitors in 2008 to 1,566,447 last year. Cebu had only 1.24 percent improvement, or from 1,596,238 in 2008 to 1,615,982 in 2009.

Palawan’s capital city of Puerto Princesa, ranked 10th on the Department of Tourism list, posted the second highest growth with 21.29 percent.

President Arroyo will fly to Puerto Princesa on Tuesday for the second stop of Central Philippines Tourism travel, next to Donsol, Sorsogon which has made its mark on the world map of tourist spots because of the awesome whale sharks that habituate its coastal waters.

Puerto Princesa boasts of the subterranean or underground river and the world-renowned Tubbataha diving reef, among other natural wonders.

The slight growth of the tourism sector despite global economic slump was traced in part to massive investments in tourism-related infrastructures in the Central Philippines Super Region since 2001. These included 42 airport projects, costing P27.31 billion; 108 ports constructed by the PPA, costing P8.76 billion, and 145 municipal ports, costing P1.23 billion; 8,783.07 kms of roads and 18,741 meters of bridges constructed, improved , and rehabilitated, costing P54.14 billion; and the P52.44-billion Southrail Project.

Complementing these was the development of other tourism support infrastructures and services including communications, banks and hospitals and health facilities. To address the energy requirements of Visayas, five power plants were commissioned in Central Philippines, providing power to almost all of the16,690 barangays in the region.

Private sector investment in tourism facilities in Central Philippines increased by 50 percent from P389.2 million in 2000 to P658.72 million in 2008. From 2001 to January 2009, 20 projects, mostly resorts and hotels, were registered with the BOI, costing P6.6 billion. At the same time, hotel rooms capacity in the Central Philippines increased by 16 percent from 8,046 in 2006 to 9,361 in 2007 while resort rooms increased by 41 percent from 2,780 rooms in 2006 to 3,917 in 2007. (PIA V Release)

PGMA orders use of bamboo desks in public schools

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo launched Friday (February 19) during her sorties in Binalona, Pangasinan the Engineered Bamboo Project, which may require about 25 percent of all public schools to use environment-friendly bamboo desks.

“Makakatulong sa edukasyon at sa kalikasan ang isang proyektong ilulunsad natin ngayon, ang Engineered Bamboo Project ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Inaasahan natin na 25 percent sa mga kinakailangang mesa ng Department of Education (DepEd) ay manggagaling sa kawayan at hindi sa punong gubat,” the President said during the launching of the Aeronautical Highway of Northern Luzon at the Binalonan Airfield in Barangay Linmansangan here.

Under the project, DENR will establish bamboo nurseries and distribute the shoots to farmers for the project while the DTI will manufacture the bamboo desks through the Cottage Industry Technology Center.

As part of the project launch, DTI will provide Binalonan with a bamboo desk-making machine, which costs P185,000, by next month.

After her speech, the President launched the Ilocano translation of Carlos Bulosan’s semi-autobiographical book “America is in the Heart.” Entitled “Adda Iti Puso Ti America”, the book and mini exhibit followed Bulosan’s immigrant journey from Binalonan to the United States, where he lived most of his adult life.

Aside from Favila, the President was accompanied by Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., Presidential Adviser on Climate Change Secretary Heherson Alvarez, DENR Secretary Horacio Ramos, and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (CORD) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (PIA V Release)

PGMA has best scorecard for industrial peace -- Planas

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has the best scorecard in promoting industrial peace, compared to previous administrations, said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Charito Planas at a press briefing in Malacanang Frida (February 19)..

“The adoption and establishment of labor-friendly measures paved the way to bringing down the number of incidence of labor strikes and achieving a harmonious employee-employer relationship during the Arroyo administration,” said Planas, who has a long record of public service that spanned the terms of several presidents.

Planas said a remarkable change in the country’s labor scene happened in the last three years, as the number of strikes dropped to single-digit levels. Last year, only four strikes were recorded.

Data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) showed that labor and management relations were at low levels from 1886 to 1992, during the Aquino presidency, with a total of 1,846 strikes that involved 345,765 workers.

President Fidel Ramos was able to cut by two-thirds the number of strikes during his term, with only 573 strikes involving 256,711 workers. During President Joseph Estrada’s two-and-a-half years in office, 139 strikes occurred affecting 40,919 workers.

“Such stability in the industrial front (during the Arroyo administration) was due to the vigilance of the Labor Secretaries in mending differences between labor and management at an early stage, thus averting the occurrence of strikes,” Planas said.

During the Arroyo administration, the foundation of dispute resolution mechanism was set up via grievance machinery in various firm: a non-traditional approach in resolving labor disputes through human relations seminars was introduced and local government units and private sector were tapped in creating a more dynamic system for dispute resolution.

SENA or single entry approach, an option in resolving labor disputes by giving non-unionized employees an option to avail of conciliation proceedings, was also introduced.

“The creation of a more stable environment wherein labor and management would be able to work harmoniously together contributed to the positive employment growth figure registered despite last year’s global economic crisis,” Planas said.

Planas cited data from DOLE that showed employment rose by 2.7 percent from 34.53 million in 2008 to 35.47 million last year, translating to almost a million jobs generated in just one year.

Moreover, out of the 222 wage orders issued since 1989, when the minimum wage was set through the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board, almost half or 100 wage orders, mostly motu propio, were issued in the last nine years of the Arroyo administration.

“Maintaining industrial peace is not only conducive to both labor and management but is a scenario that will definitely invite more and more investors to the country,” Planas added. (PIA V Release)

Anti-private armies body steps up action plans; PNP lists 117 armed groups

MANILA — The seven-man Independent Commission Against Private Armies, also known as the Zenarosa Commission, has stepped up meetings and liaison with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement groups to firm up urgent action plans against private armed groups, which now number 117 nationwide.

“Just like candidates and political parties, we too are in a race with time because the private armed groups (PAGs), by their nature and intentions, are principally election accessories and are very disruptive ones,” said Commissioner Herman Z. Basbaño, spokesman of the presidential body. President Arroyo created the Commission last December 8.

Basbaño said that upon directives issued by Commission chairman, retired Justice Monina Arevalo Zenarosa, the Commission has been holding daily meetings and consultations to coordinate its action plans with law enforcement agencies, including the military, the prosecution arm of government and anti-crime groups and non-governmental organizations.

He said the Commission has been briefed by PNP Intelligence about the existence of 117 PAGs in all the regions, with members running close to 5,000 many of them with arms.

The PNP said the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which includes Maguindanao province, scene of the gruesome massacre of 58 persons last November, accounts for 25 PAGs, the biggest for any of the country’s 13 regions..

Although individually operating and not exactly linked to each other, the PAGS constitute a significant threat to peace and order, especially during the election period.

He said the Commission, whose members are Bishop Juan de Dios M. Pueblos, Mahmod L. Adilao of the Ulama League of the Philippines, Army Gen. Jaime Echeverria (ret), Dante L. Jimenez of the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption, and Police Director General Virtus V. Gil (ret), met again Monday through Wednesday this week to receive intelligence updates from PNP and to assess the reports.

PNP Intelligence officials said that while a number of PAGs have already been neutralized, and its members disarmed and charged in court, many of these groups remain active and at the sides, waiting for possible election engagements.

PNP officials said 117 special police task forces, one for every active PAG, have been formed to intensify monitoring of PAG movements, checkpoint operations, and intelligence build up.

Former Armed Forces General Edilberto Adan, a permanent adviser to the Commission, said the body will press for the detailed inventory of PAGs, a sort of an “order of battle” to enable the commission to determine PAG profiles, membership, and capability. Adan said it is not remote that some PAGs could be employing not only private bodyguards of politicians, but also retired, inactive, and even active policemen and soldiers.

According to Basbaño, the whole Commission is slated again to go to another Mindanao province for another consultative dialogue with various sectors.

Zenarosa declared earlier that Commission was bent on exhausting all means so that none of the reported PAGs can possibly disrupt the forthcoming elections. (PIA V Release)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


SORSOGON PROVINCE (February 11) – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has assured the elderly that they will be lifetime members of the agency endowed with the same health insurance and medical benefits they enjoyed in the past.

Dr. Veronica T. Mateum, PhilHealth Bicol officer-in-charge, explained that lifetime coverage is granted to the members who have reached the age of sixty (60) and have paid at least 120 months premium to the program (including those made during the former Medicare Program).

Mateum added that these are elderly who retired or were separated from employment, individually paying members and Social Security System (SSS) members including those permanent total disability and survivorship pensioners before March 4, 1995

She elaborated that old-age members of PhilHealth can still avail of inpatient care benefits, outpatient coverage and special packages.

“During the member’s retirement years, PhilHealth will provide them financial protection necessary in maintaining their health, either here or abroad, without further paying their premium contributions,” she stressed.

PhilHealth also maintains that as lifetime members, they are also entitled to the full benefits together with their qualified dependents.

To avail of the lifetime membership, old-age members are to submit certified true copies of any of the following documents:

• Duly accomplished M1c Form (in duplicate copies)
• Two (2) latest 1" x 1" ID picture
• Certified True Copy (CTC) of the SSS or GSIS Retirement Certification and any pertinent data that Philhealth will require

Following the submission, members will be issued of his/her PhilHealth Lifetime Member Card which is a valid ID to be used in all PhilHealth transactions.

“Should there be discrepancies or any concerns pertaining to lifetime membership and benefits availment, qualified members or trusted relatives may visit the nearest PhilHealth Office in their area,” Mateum related. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


SORSOGON CITY — The reorganization of the Sorsogon Arts Council (SAC) has re-affirmed and strengthened its role as advocate for indigenous, regional and Filipino artistic talents and the enhancement, development and promotion of Filipino culture, thus remarked long-time members of the local arts council.

SAC Ad-hoc member Joseph Perez said that the reorganization is necessary and urgent to sustain the initiatives and accomplishments that the council pursued in the past 20 years under our founding chairman, Reynaldo “Tootsie” Jamoralin including the redefinition of our future plans and objectives.

Founding member Isable Gile, on the other hand, said that the local arts council, known for being Sorsogon’s vanguard for culture and the arts, is presently in the process of reconstructing its roster of membership, retrieving old records, renewing registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and linkages with Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and finally, establishing an office.

Another founding member, July Mendoza, is leading the efforts in communicating with the past members and possible new members for the added SAC general assembly and 20th foundation anniversary on February 26, 2010 at the Sorsogon Museum and Heritage Center here, coinciding with the celebration of the National Arts Month.

“Previous members and interested persons are very much welcomed to contact me at cp# 09298577417 or through my email alma_angela.gamil@yahoo.com for details,” SAC Secretary Jane Gamil said. (JJJPerez, SAC-Sorsogon/PIA)


SORSOGON CITY — One with the entire nation, the Sorsogon Arts Council (SAC) is lining up various activities in observance of the National Arts Month this February.

The council’s ad-hoc committee/convenor’s group will conduct a series of radio and TV guestings/interviews at the local radio and TV stations here to air updates regarding the council and the local arts scene in the province of Sorsogon, including issuance of press releases.

SAC will cap the celebration with the 20th anniversary program and general assembly slated in the afternoon of February 26, 2010 at the Sorsogon Museum and Heritage Center, Provincial Capitol Compound, here.

During the program and general assembly, the Community-based Theater Group (CBTG)-Bukawel Performing Arts, a member organization under the umbrella of SAC will fete the local artists, art patrons, local government officials and visitors with short performances and excerpts of some of the plays written by SAC founding chairman Reynaldo “Tootsie” Jamoralin as the highlight of the affair as disclosed by Ms. Becky Razo.

“We are expecting the participation of all local artists representing the different artistic fields/disciplines to assess and evaluate our work during the past 20 years and plan out programs, projects and activities for the next decades in our new millennium,” Jane Gamil, incumbent secretary of SAC said.

The SAC has been at the forefront of advocating and promoting Sorsoganon, Bicolano and Filipino Arts and Culture in the province of Sorsogon since the late 1980s.

It has established partnerships with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and local organizations such as the Kasanggayahan Foundation, Inc., the Sorsogon Provincial Tourism Council, and the Sorsogon Museum and Heritage Center, Incorporated which the SAC is a member organization. (JJJPerez, SAC-Sorsogon/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Bicol joins the celebration of the National Arts Month this February bringing out the region’s best of culinary arts.

The culinary arts exhibit of innovation in native cuisine or dishes is held in connection to the month-long celebration of the arts month and Bicol Arts Festival 2010, hosted by the city government here, with the theme “Ang Kabikolan Mayaman sa Arte at Kultura”.

The culinary arts features 11 TESDA accredited schools from the six provinces in Bicol region.

Camarines Sur Institute of Fisheries and Marines Sciences showcased Sauid specialty; Masbate School of Fisheries with its cheese cakes; Bulusan National Vocational and Technical School prepared bungkang na patis; Sorsogon National Agricultural School cooked cassava roll with buklog; Cabugao School of Handicraft and Cottage Industries and San Francisco Institute of Science and Technology of Malilipot, Albay prided their food for the gods or linutuang balat ng baka, respectively; La Consolacion Collegein Daet, Camarines Norte offered pili-pina cake; Universidad de Sta. Isabel of Naga City with duck meat-corn meal or stick rice/kalamay with caramel sauce; and Philippine Women’s University of Daet with the masira-mun/bangus.

The event was also participated in by TESDA provincial directors Al Aryola of Camarines Sur, Hedy Marin of Camarines Norte and Rudy Benemerito of TESDA Sorsgoon.

After cooking presentation specialties were distributed for the audiences for free.
(MNMagdasoc, BUCAL/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY – The Technology Resource Center (TRC) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) invites college students of public and private institutions to join the Teknobiz Idea Challenge on February 24.

Tomas Briñas, DOST Bicol regional director, said this youth business idea contest is designed to enhance and further hone their creativity and entrepreneurial skills and become successful techno-preneurs.

Participants can submit their technology-based business idea from December 2009 to January 2010.

The students who will join must be a bonafide student of a CHED-accredited educational institution during their submission and must comply will all entry requirements.

Students can form a team, maximum of five members and the team members must be enrolled in the same school and should form part only of one team.

Final judging of this competition is on February 23 and the awarding ceremonies will be on February 24.

Criteria for judging will be based on innovativeness, market potential, and feasibility which is 25 percent; social impact, 15 percent; and environmental friendly, 2 percent.

Briñas said that this DOST-TRC Teknobiz Idea Challenge: Merging Business Technology is a great opportunity for enterprising Bicolano college students who have excellent achievements in business and technology to participate in this youth competition. (JRegulacion, BUCAL/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY – At least 5,000 examinees from Bicol region will take the first batch of Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) board exam tomorrow (April 18), the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) said yesterday.

Elenita Tan, PRC officer-in-charge, said the deadline for filing the application form for the first batch of 2010 LET exam for both public and private elementary and secondary levels ended last February 10.

“The application forms are free and can be filed at PRC Legazpi and the LET examination fee will cost P900,” she said.

The applicants are advised to bring duly accomplished Teachers Application Form (TAF), Permanent Examination and Registration Card (PERC), Transcript of Records, Diploma, National Statistics Office (NSO) birth certificate, three identical passport size pictures, two pieces PRC mailing envelop with three postage stamps card, Community Tax Certificate (cedula).

Meanwhile, start of filing of application form for the second examination will be
from June 1 until July 16. The date of exam is scheduled on September 16. (JRegulacion, BUCAL/PIA)

MANILA — Malacanang is calling for more water conservation efforts nationwide.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said these efforts, particularly in urban areas, will help ensure continuing availability of water for irrigation.

"We must conserve so there's still water left for our farmers," he said.

The Palace made this appeal as the onslaught of El Nino beginning late last year raised concerns about shortage of water for agricultural and non-agricultural use.

Authorities expect the dry spell from El Nino to last until around mid-2010.

Experts say an El Nino episode occurs when there is unusual warming of sea surface temperature along the equatorial Pacific belt.

El Nino-affected areas experience dry spells from below-average rainfall there.
The National Irrigation Administration confirmed that the dry spell already caused water elevation in dams and rivers nationwide to dip about halfway from its normal level, threatening irrigation of agricultural areas.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Bernie Fondevillas reported that corn and rice damage from the dry spell already amounted to over PhP1 billion.

"The biggest damage is in the north," he said.

With this, Olivar said the government re-activated its El Nino Commission, with DA Secretary Arthur Yap as its head, to address agricultural problems arising from the prevailing dry spell.

Repair of small wells is also in progress so farmers can have additional sources of water for irrigation, Olivar said.

He noted cloud seeding is another measure to address this problem, although this could not be implemented always as there are no clouds to seed sometimes.

To help ensure irrigation amidst EL Nino's onslaught, the DA ordered scheduling of water use in farming communities.

It also reported setting aside nearly P570 million for measures aimed at helping mitigate El Nino's impact on rice production this year.

Fondevilla said this amount is part of the P1.7 billion fund the DA will realign under its regular budget for 2010 so the agency can carry out measures that will reduce the expected agricultural production loss from the drought. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Administrators Jessup P. Navarro of National Food Authority (NFA) and Rafael L. Coscolluela of Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) have released the guidelines for the importation of 150,000 metric tons of refined sugar.

The guidelines contain the mechanics of importation, eligibility rules for participants or importers, allocations per sugar end-user sector and arrival deadlines. The guidelines also provide for a protection mechanism for producers as well as consumers.

The Notice of Bidding was published by NFA on February 11, 2010 in a leading newspaper (Philippine Star) announcing that the pre-bid conference will be held on February 16 and the bidding on February 23, 2010.

The arrival period of the first tranche of imported sugar equivalent to 60,000 metric tons is scheduled to arrive not later than May 15 and the second tranche equivalent to 90,000 metric tons not later than July 31.

While the government allows the importation in its bid to stabilize the domestic price of sugar, curtail speculations and provide sufficient buffer stock at the end of the cropping season, Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap and Administrators Coscolluela and Navarro have assured that the country’s local producers and farmers would not be disadvantaged by the importation.

The program is expected to keep retail prices of refined sugar within the P 50.00 to P 52.00 per kilo level, and millgate buying prices between P 1,700 – P1,800 per 50-kilo bag of raw sugar.

In a cabinet meeting held last February 9, 2010 at the Talipapa Barangay Hall in Novaliches, Administrator Coscolluela raised the producers’ concern that during times of low sugar prices and high cost of farm inputs, the sugar industry is left on its own. Now that high prices allow them to recover from two years of difficulty, they are dismayed to hear that government wants to force prices down.

Some cabinet members, however, stressed their concern for the need to protect the consuming public from profiteers. The importation, they opined, would help balance the interest of both sectors.

The President then instructed Secretary Yap and NFA to fast-track the program that would help address the concerns raised. (DA/PIA V Release)


MANILA — The National Food Authority is inviting all interested sugar traders and end-users for today’s (Feb. 16, 2010) pre-bidding of the performance bond for the importation of 60,000 metric tons (MT) of refined sugar.

This volume will be the first in the two tranches of the 150,000 MT private sector-financed sugar importation following the government approval to import the commodity using the tax expenditure subsidy of the NFA as provided under Executive Order 857 issued on January 29, 2010.

The second tranche of the importation totaling 90,000 MT will be done through the sugar industry’s export replacement scheme.

EO 857 authorized the NFA to intervene in the sugar market to soften or stabilize the domestic price of sugar and price of the commodity. This is one of the mitigating actions the government has implemented to ease the present tightness in the domestic sugar supply.

Earlier this month, the NFA also started to sell refined sugar through the Institutionalized Bigasan Sa Palengke (IBSP) at a subsidized price of P48 per kilogram.

Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA) subsidized the balance differential to make the commodity more affordable to consumers.

Under the guidelines issued for sugar importation, only those traders and end-users accredited by the Sugar Regulatory Administration and registered with the SRA in the crop year 2009-2010 will be eligible to participate in the bidding.

For the first tranche, bidding shall be made on a per lot basis. Lot number I totaling 20,000 MT is allocated for industrial users, lot number 2 totaling 6,000 MT for food processors-exporter s, lot number 3 with 12,000 MT for institutions and lot number 4 with a volume of 22,000 MT allotted for repackers-retailers .

All interested accredited sugar traders and end users can participate in the bidding of one or all the lots.

The final bidding for the first tranche of the sugar imports will be on February 23 with the commodity scheduled to arrive by May 15. For the 2nd tranche, expected arrival will be up to July 31 this year.

The bidding will be held at ten in the morning at the Social Hall of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, Philippine Sugar Center Bldg., North Avenue in Diliman Quezon City.

For more information on the story, the public may send their inquiries via Text NFA program through mobile number 09176210927. (NFA/PIA V Release)

PGMA signs EVAT exemption for senior citizens

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Tuesday (February 16) into law the bill exempting the country’s estimated 4.6 million senior citizens from paying the 12 percent expanded value added tax (EVAT) on basic purchases and other essential goods and services.

This was announced today by Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar.
Called the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (Republic Act 9994), the new law enables senior citizens to enjoy fully the 20-percent discount on consumer goods and services provided under a 2003 legislation known as RA 7342, otherwise known as “An Act to Maximize the Contributions of Senior Citizens to Nation Building, Grant Benefits and Special Privileges, and for Other Purposes.”

The EVAT exemption for the senior citizens, or those who are 60 years old and above, applies to purchases of 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 Welfare and Development (DSWD).

In case of death of an indigent senior citizen, the amount of P2,000 will 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 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 between P10,000 and P50,000, or imprisonment of at least one month but not more than six months.

Administration congressmen led by House Speaker Prospero Nograles, one of the bill’s sponsors, described the measure as a significant legislation that will form part of President Arroyo’s legacy to the Filipino people after she bows out of office in June.

Rep. Reynaldo Uy (Samar), and Rep. Eduardo Zialcita (Parañaque) and Sen. Pia Cayetano, principal sponsors of the bill in the House and in the Senate, hailed the measure as a tangible recognition of the role senior citizens play in Philippine society.

Cayetano explained that the senior citizen’s discount under the original law passed in 2003, had effectively translated to only eight percent since seniors were also required to pay the 12-percent EVAT in their purchase of medicines, good and services. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — At the close on Tuesday of claims applications for one-time benefits for living World War II veterans, 12,846 were approved and paid a total of more than P7.2 billion by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) in Manila, according to the U.S. embassy.

February 16, 2010 was the final day for such veterans to apply for one-time benefits created by the 2009 Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Between February 17, 2009 and February 16, 2010, USDVA held 22 outreach events in partnership with Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) offices around the Philippines.

In addition, USDVA-Manila Director Jon Skelly and his staff appeared in dozens of TV and radio interviews to explain the benefit and the process, and to remind veterans of the application deadline of February 16, 2010. The USDVA even accommodated applications on February 15, even though it was a U.S. legal holiday.

Skelly thanked the Philippine news media and the PVAO in helping get out the word about the benefits claims. “Thanks to the Philippine news media and our partners at the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, we were able to get the word out about the benefit to veterans living all over the Philippines and in the United States,” said Skelly in a statement to media.

“We had thousands of applicants on the final two days at our office and at PVAO, so we really did get the word out,” he pointed out.

To date, of some 40,000 applications received, around 7,000 have been duplicate applications, and 14,500 cases remain pending, the embassy clarified. Those cases will be adjudicated without delay, so that qualified veterans will get their benefit as quickly as possible, according to the USDVA. The USDVA-Manila staff includes 222 Filipino employees, working hard every day to serve these honored veterans.

USDVA also said that veterans who have already applied for this one-time benefit will receive an acknowledgement receipt from USDVA. There is no need to obtain additional military service information unless requested by the USDVA.

“We continue to pay around million monthly in previous and continuing benefits to Filipino veterans and their family members,” Skelly further said. “My staff will gladly review records of individual Filipino WW II veterans or their survivors because we want to make sure these heroes are receiving all benefits to which they are entitled.” (PIA V Release)


MANILA — The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) on Wednesday said power supply in the Luzon grid is now stable after the 620 Limay combined cycle plant has been put online today.

The NGCP said Limay as of 1 p.m. started running at 240 megawatt (MW) and is expected to increase its capacity at 360MW within the day.

”The Luzon grid has stabilized and is under normal status as of February 17,” the NGCP said in a statement.

NGCP, the country’s operator of transmission highway, also ruled out any uninterrupted power supply until June 2010.

Based on the power update of the NGCP, Luzon grid has a reserve of 929MW after its available capacity was placed at 7,565MW and peak demand hit 6,636MW.

Aside from coming on stream off Limay plant, the NGCP said Kalayaan, Binga and Casecnan added in the increased capacity of the Luzon grid.

Kalayaan from 360MW last Monday has increased its production to 540MW, Binga from zero capacity to 20MW and Casecnan from zero to 75MW capacity today.

The NGCP also reported that they expect maintenance shutdown of four plants to be completed before the end of this month and early next month.

Among the plants that are under maintenance shutdown includes Binga 1 hydro plant; Bacman 4, Sta. Rita Gas 1, Sta. Rita Gas 3, Ilijan A1, Ilijan A2, Ilijan A3 and Makban 7.

In Luzon, the continued maintenance shutdown of Malampaya SPEX until March 11, 2010 has limited the supply of natural gas to Sta. Rita plant which has already shut down two of its gas turbines for the said annual preventive maintenance.

Meanwhile, the NGCP said Visayas and Mindanao grid will continue to suffer rotating brownouts.

Visayas has an available capacity of 1,098MW as against peak demand of 1,199MW or a shortfall of 101MW.

Mindanao, on the other hand, has higher power shortage of 159MW after its available capacity was placed at 1,021MW as compared to its peak demand of 1,180MW.

As the System Operator, NGCP’s main responsibilities are to transmit high-voltage power from generators to distributors and to operate the power system in accordance with the Philippine Grid Code. The NGCP does not own nor operate and maintain any power generation and distribution facilities.

The shutdown of power plants, the increase in power demand among customers, and the dry weather of the El Niño have been limiting the available capacity or supply in the power system.

In Visayas and Mindanao, electricity supply generated from power plants continues to be low and may not be enough to meet the demand of power grid users.

Because of the lean power reserves, the system may be forced to implement load curtailment among Visayas and Mindanao grid users to ration the available power and to ensure the reliability and stability of the entire transmission network.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes warned last week that the metropolis will suffer one hour rotating brownouts after Limay plant failed to go online while the Malaya plant runs low on its rated capacity. (PIA V Release)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY – Some 2,194 overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their dependents in Albay have graduated from the free computer literacy training under the Microsoft Tulay Project of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Bicol since 2007.

OWWA Bicol Regional Director Jocelyn Hapal said the project has provided opportunities to OFW families in terms of learning new technology, enabling them to communicate with their loved ones abroad through e-mail, chat, blogging, and other social networking tools.

“We are preparing to make the computer training mobile and bring it to provinces, especially to Camarines Sur where there are many OFW families. This agency is already negotiating with the management of the Shoemart (SM) in Naga City for a space inside the mall to accommodate the training program,” she added.

Two batches of OFW families will be trained every Saturday and Sunday for two months at the OWWA regional office here. One personal computer is designated for every trainee to facilitate efficient fast and efficient learning.

Microsoft Corporation’s accredited trainers will provide training on at least eight courses, including basic computer fundamentals, word processing, spreadsheet, power point, database, internet use, digital media, and web design.

Hapal, meanwhile, told PIA News Service that OWWA in Bicol is also targeting affected families of Mayon eruption, particularly those displaced from their homes, to benefit from the same training program.

“Their livelihood and other sources of income were damage or lost in the course of the recent Mayon eruption, so the agency sees the need to provide these local with their needs and in the long run help them to mainstream their craft in putting up small business venture, the likes of printing of documents, cards, encoding service, technical, troubleshooting, designs, among others,” elaborated the OWWA Bicol chief. .

She bared that residents of Barangay Caguiao in Guinobatan town are already into the training program held at the barangay hall. OWAA brings along the hardware, particularly laptop computers, to the target barangay which locals used during the training.

The agency also plans to implement the same program in affected barangays Sto. Domingo, Albay, as well as for OFWs and their families in Sorsogon and Camarines Norte provinces.

Tulay project is a part of the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Community Skills Program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and OWWA since 2004. (MALoterte,PIA/MAIArana, BUCAL)


BULAN, Sorsogon (February 15)— Sorsogon State College (SSC) campus here has offered since last year courses on Bachelor of Science in Accounting Technology ( BSAT) and Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education ( BSED), in response to the request of the business community and the locals themselves.

SSC President Antonio Fuentes averred the two courses, offered in many colleges and universities across the Bicol region, were approved for implementation in the Bulan campus by the Board of Trustees by virtue of Resolution No. 8, s. 2009.

“The college likewise implements the enhanced program for information and communication technology (ICT) courses by adopting CHED Memorandum Order 18, s, 2008 and the BS Entrepreneurship by adopting CMO 17, s. 2005,” he added.

BSAT is a four-year course under the Business Management Education (BME) department, with 21 enrollees in the first semester and 22 in the second semester for school year 2009 - 2010.

BSED, with Math and English as fields of specialization, was shelved for several years but reopened this current school year with 24 and 22 enrollees for the first and second semesters, respectivel.

“Approved policies on admission, retention, qualifying examination, and internship of Bachelor of Science in Accountancy were also implemented this year,” he further said.

In other development, Bulan campus admission sets promotion drive with the aim to increase college enrolment every school year.

Fuentes also said that the admissions office spearheaded the popularization of curricular programs of the campus to various high schools in Bulan and nearby towns.

“In order to bring SSC closer to far flung communities, the mobile admission scheme was already held in Gallanosa National High School, Gubat National High School, and San Andres Clemente Junior High School in Masbate and hopefully in other areas for the next school years for the purpose of public assistance,” said Fuentes.

“The campus here also launched an Open House and Synchronized Career Guidance activities for graduating students of secondary schools in the whole municipality,” he further added. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon with reports from HDemdam.)


MASBATE CITY (February 15) —Effective immediately, all banks and other big trading houses in this city must install close circuit television (CCTV) cameras in their establishments to deter robbery and help the police identify suspects.

This would become mandatory once a proposed ordinance that requires all banks and trading houses to have video surveillance devices within their premises is passed in the city council and approved by Mayor Socrates M. Tuason.

The measure, shelved for the time being at the city council after it was assailed in a public hearing as “additional burden for business,” received the endorsement of the multi-sectoral Masbate City Peace and Order Council.

Rogelio Magalang, city agriculture officer, sponsored the CPOC resolution, noting that the equipment would deter robberies and aid the police in their investigation.

“With the use of video cameras in and outside of their place of operation, the business houses can record all persons coming in and out of their premises and monitor the goings-on inside,” a draft copy of the resolution said.

The CPOC, convened by Tuason Wednesday last week, noted that criminal syndicates in other cities have become daring in their operation, often using high-powered firearms in their heists.

With the use of CCTVs, police investigators would have easier time piecing together information about the suspects, Supt. Jeffrey Z. Fernandez, chief of city police force, said.

Under the measure, the banks and trading houses should store their daily video recordings for at least 15 days. After 15 days, the recordings would be destroyed unless their preservation is required by a court order, the local police or the city mayor.

The ordinance also orders bank officials to give police investigators access to their recordings. Only those authorized by the city police chief, however, would be allowed to view the video footages.

The measure also decrees that it would be unlawful for any person to allow the unauthorized or unofficial use or viewing of any saved video-recording and the unauthorized public identification of any person or client seen in the video, except in the case of a complainant or a victim.

Those who violate the ordinance would be fined. (EADelgado/PIA Masbate)


MASBATE CITY (February 15) — In describing the scale of seeming lawlessness in the pistol-shaped island province of Masbate, Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa turned to Maguindanao, the site of the massacre of 57 people by some 100 gunmen last Nov. 23, for comparison.

Verzosa, who recently convened military, police and election officials involved in the security preparations for the upcoming elections here, sought to explain Masbate’s inclusion in what he has come to describe as “hot spots,” saying “halos sunod-sunod talaga ang patayan at hindi magandang nangyayari dito.”

The PNP chief attributed the propensity of Masbateños for murder to the proliferation of firearms in Masbate.

“As early as last year we have already concluded that the single instrument na ginagamit dito sa mga karahasan na ganyan ay baril.”

To support his conclusion, he cited the case of provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), particularly Maguindanao.

“Doon sa Maguindanao and most areas in ARMM, ‘yan din ang cause ng kaguluhan. Almost all residents (have firearms),” he said.

He hastened to add: “Mukhang ganun din dito.”

To check the proliferation of firearms, he said the PNP has begun implementing a program called “National Firearms Control.” (EADelgado/PIA Masbate)


LEGAZPI CITY – At least a hundred residents and officials of Barangay Taysan, this city, took part in the “Ugnayan sa Barangay” program of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Wednesday last week

SFO1 Sarena Socorro Tolarba, BFP Legazpi City Plans and Training head, said that the series of interfacing held and set in the coming days intends to inform and educate the people on fire safety tips and precautions, as well as emergency response measures in time of fire incidents.

BFP records last year showed that the most common cause of fire incidents in business establishments or offices were results of electrical short circuits, while unattended lighted candles triggered fires in residential houses.

During the information and education drive in Taysan, FO1 Norman Andes expounded on the “Chemistry of Fire and Theory of Extinguishment and Portable Fire Extinguisher”.

Tolarba, on the other hand, tackled Fire Prevention and Safety Hazards and Fire Brigade Organization.

SFO3 Rogelio Andes briefed the locals and staged an exercise of fire suppression and bucket relay.

The activity was conducted successfully with the active participation of the barangays residents, who in return were grateful to the bureau with the new and helful knowledge and skills to prevent fire and respond to emergencies brought by related incidents..

“Ugnayan sa Barangay” targets all barangays of Legazpi City to further educate and help the residents be aware on fire safety.

In preparation for the Fire Prevention Month this March, BFP has also lined up similar activities.

Tolarba enumerated posting of streamers, fun run, motorcade, distribution of information materials, conduct of lectures on all types of occupancy, on the spot drawing contest in primary level, in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd), open house for schools, television and radio news exposure-fire safety, conduct of industrial and commercial fire drill exercises, and organize fire control brigade for the Fire Prevention Month. (JTBTapel/SDLaguno, BUCAL/PIA)

…blames uptrend prices of sugar, other ingredients

LEGAZPI CITY — Increase in prices of bread has been noted recently here, with authorities passing on the blame to the upward trend of sugar prices in the market.

The price of loaf bread has increased by P2.00, with the big size from P27 to P29 and the small one costing P14 from P12.

Pan de sal (salt bread) was then sold 6 pieces for only P5, but now it is sold P1 per piece.

“Sugar is very expensive. If we are not going to increase the prices of our products, we will not only suffer from huge losses but it could also result to the closure of our business,” said a bake shop owner in Legazpi City Public Market who asked not be named.

“If sugar and other ingredients will have price rollbacks, we will follow suit,” he added.

The prices of sugar in the public market range from P52-P56 per kilo for refined sugar, P50-P52 for washed and P45-46 for brown variety.

Catherine Subido, statistician from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) here assured the public that the sugar price hike will not last long.

“At the end of January, we are already progressing. As the harvest progresses we will have an increase in the supply of sugar. As soon as this happens, there would be price rollbacks,” she explained. (AGBLatigay, BUCAL/PIA)


Below is an open letter which Wilma B. Cledera herself wrote for her sister.

“…I used to write letter to my sister. She left our family 10 years ago when I was just five years old. She was 17 and never came back since then. My parents seldom talk about her, especially my father. He was devastated when my sister went to Manila to work in a paper factory. Until one day, my mother caught me writing a letter to my sister. She asked me if she could read it. I didn’t know what came over me but I handed it to her. For the first time, she read one of the unsent letters I wrote.

My sister Dianne,

I don’t know where exactly you are but our family has been doing great since you left. You said that development is hard to come by in our isolated barangay. Like any of fellow villagers, I too had to walk several meters everyday just to go to school. The road leading to the school is hardly passable, especially when rain comes. I knew how hard it is for father to bring the root crops to the town center. Father has to leave the house at dawn on foot, carrying a big basket full of goods. By the time he reaches town, the basket would only be half-full. Given the terrain leading to the town, one gets the impression that development efforts are extremely difficult. But our people proved this wrong.

You could have seen the way our village has changed. The things that you hated had been given utmost attention by our local officials with the help of the social workers from KALAHI-CIDSS. KALAHI-CIDSS is one of the few CIDSS, our village received aa grant of P3.6 million that all went, understandably, to road project. Our local officials from the municipal and barangay worked fast in implementing the process of KALHI-CIDSS. Even our parents volunteered to do manual labor just to finish the road project on time.

With the help of KALAHI-CIDSS our barangay is slowly gaining public access. The road leading to the town proper had been passable. It was indeed a dream come true for all of us. You could have witnessed how father and is overjoyed with the blessing the program has given us father told me you wanted to be a doctor. You used to be upset when sick people were put up in a cradle and sometimes died in the middle of what used to be the troubled road.

Father thinks of you. There’s something in his eyes. I asked him if what he would do if you come back. He said, “I would love to ask her to accompany me in my walks on the road that she used to hate.”

His response made me smile. I was inspired to continue to pursue their dreams for a peace and prosperous community.

Your loving sister,


My mother folded the letter. She embraced me and said “Nothing is impossible if there is determination, unity and cooperation, coupled with prayers”.

(Wilma B. Cledera is a community volunteer of The Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan, Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS): KKB in Barangay. Salvacion, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur. She manifested support to the project through her attendance and participation to the community trainings and assemblies.)

PGMA tells DepEd to continue English proficiency program

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today (February 15) instructed Education Secretary Jesli Lapus to continue the government’s English-proficiency training program for public school teachers.

The President issued the directive after observing the ongoing National English Proficiency Program (NEPP) for elementary teachers at the P. Burgos Elementary School along P. Guevarra St. in Manila this afternoon.

Noting that 100,000 of the country’s estimated 500,000 teachers have already benefited, the President wants the program to continue.

“We have made progress in many areas, but more is needed to be done. I instruct Secretary Lapus that English training should be a continuing program,” the President said.

The President said the government has allocated over P2.5 billion for teacher training over the last three years especially for English teachers.

The establishment of the NEPP in 2003 was an offshoot of Executive Order 210 mandating the use of English as a medium of instruction in the elementary grades and high school, particularly in English, Math and Science.

According to the President, the Department of Education (DepEd) is to be cited for their contribution to the English language proficiency. As a result of the teacher’s grasp of the language, she said the National Achievement Test (NAT) went up from 44 percent to 65 percent in elementary schools and from 36 to 47 percent in high schools.

The President said she would like to visit one of the 23 Centers of Excellence to observe how newly hired teachers are trained.

To further improve the country’s educational system, the President said a Presidential Task Force on Education was established headed by Jesuit educator Father Bienvenido Nebres.

“They have come up with what is called the Main Education Highway towards a Knowledge-Based Economy. It envisions seamless education from basic education to vocational school or college. And that is what we are trying to carry out,” the President said.

She said she will continue her hands-on governance until her term ends to further promote key initiatives that include providing quality education for all and a continuous focus on the youth, “our best hope for a brighter, better Philippines.”

The President said her administration has invested much in education and skills. She added she doubled the budget of DepEd, Technical Education and Skills Development Auhtority (TESDA), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the state universities, to P180 billion from its P90 billion budget at the start of her term.

Also, the President said, 100,000 classrooms were built; miscellaneous fees eliminated for public primary schools; and school uniforms made optional.

To encourage the poor to keep their children in school, the President said her administration launched the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P) which provides conditional cash transfer of P 800 to P 1, 400 per family.

The current administration also extended scholarship to the GASTPE program.

Over 600,000 students taking up undergraduate and post-graduate college courses.

“We created 60,000 teaching jobs, and increased teachers’ pay. A Teacher I who was then receiving P9,000 now earns P14,000,” the President said amid the applause of the teachers present.

All this, the President said is meant to achieve the difficult UN Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015, a feat only Cuba has so far achieved. (PIA V Release)

PGMA's Super Regions tour shifts to Mindanao

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo flies tomorrow (Tuesday) to Mindanao for the third leg of her Super Regions tour, beginning with on-site inspection of an ongoing upgrading of the Surigao-Davao Coastal Road.

The road project links the eastern towns of Bacuag, Surigao del Norte and Mati, Davao Oriental. When completed, travel time between the two towns will be cut by one-half, or from the usual eight hours to only four hours.

Necessarily, this will speed up the transport of products and services in these areas, notably from the Caraga region and Davao Oriental to the Davao Port and nearby ports.

The Arroyo administration has mapped out several development projects for Mindanao to spur the southern regions’ economic growth under the Super Region strategy.

President Arroyo said she had identified two overriding objectives of her mission and visions for Mindanao.

First is to “unlock” the human and natural resource potentials of Mindanao and free the people from the threat of violence.

“We must free our young people in Mindanao from the scourge of poverty so that they may look to a brighter future. This future will be built on education, good roads and infrastructure, and jobs for them and their families,” the Chief Executive stressed.

The second is to restore peace and prosperity in the region. The President pointed out that the people of Mindanao have suffered long enough.

”I have made sure that every single day as President, I put the needs of Mindanao front and center. We are investing in Mindanao at every level, for only investment in hope—not fear—will set the region free to grow and prosper,” she said.

According to the President, the Mindanao Super Region is host to a number of companies, including multinationals that produce high value crops, fruits, vegetables for the domestic and global markets.

Mindanao produces also 100 percent of rubber and pineapple production, and 50 percent of coconut, considered as three of the country’s top agricultural commodities.

Government peace initiatives under the Arroyo leadership have also attained breakthroughs towards the conclusion of a peace accord with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), notably the resumption of the on Dec. 8-9, 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The MILF strength has decreased by about 10 percent, or from 12,570 armed combatants nine years ago to 11, 352 as of third quarter last year. On the other hand, the manpower strength of the Abu Sayyaf Group was cut by almost one-half, or from 800 in 2001 to only 345 as of May last year.

“Peace and development go hand in hand. With agribusiness underpinning our unstoppable march towards peace and development in Mindanao, we are optimistic that the attainment of our development vision is at hand,” President Arroyo emphasized.

Reaping the fruits of peace and development

The gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of the Mindanao Super Region grew by 42.977 percent, from P175.93 billion in 2000 to P251.53 billion in 2008. The GRDP growth rate of the Super Region expanded by 14.29 percent from an average of 6.02 percent in 2000 to 6.88 percent in 2007. In 2008, Mindanao’s GRDP contributed 17.71 percent to national GDP.

The gross value added (GVA) of the Mindanao Super Region in agriculture and fishery increased by 38.95 percent from P64.52 billion in 2000 to P89.65 billion in 2008.

The inflow of investments and growth of the economy led to the increase in jobs and income in the Mindanao Super Region.

Employment rate increased from 92.5 percent in 2000 to 95.1 percent in 2009. More than half were employed in agriculture and other related sectors as of October 2007.

The average daily income of private sector workers increased from P110-P180 in 2000 to P195-P265 in 2009.

Citing government records, the President asserted that the much-improved peace and order situation in Mindanao has already resulted to growth of the agribusiness sector.

Supply of commercial fisheries grew by 28 percent from 737,600 metric tons (MT) in 2001 to 922,500 MT in 2008, accounting for 75.23 percent of the 1.23 million MT national production last year. On the other hand, chicken and hog industries grew by 28.3 percent and 18.64 percent, respectively, from 2001 to 2009.

Total banana exports increased by 13 percent from 418,654 MT in 2001 to 473,301 MT in 2009. Moreover, two giant banana exporting companies joined the Mindanao-based Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association.

Mindanao palay production increased from 3.14 million metric tons in 2001 to 3.79 million MT in 2008. This accounts for 23 percentof the 16.8 million MT national production in 2008. In addition, corn production went up by 32 percent, while coconut by 19.25 percent in 2008.

Approved investments in the Mindanao Super Region more than doubled from P23.01 billion in 2007 to P79.33 billion in 2009. Share of Mindanao investments to National Board of Investments-Philippine Export Processing Zone approved investment increased by four times from 6.5 percent in 2007 to 26.47 percent in 2009. (PIA V Release)

PGMA sets dinner with media begins with Agribusiness Mindanao tour

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will host a dinner for media practitioners in Davao City and other parts of Mindanao tomorrow.

The President, who is expected to fly to Davao City, will check on the status of the different infrastructure projects in Surigao and Davao.

The development of Mindanao takes high priority in the program of the current administration. In fact, Agribusiness Mindanao is one of five Super Regions.

Through the media practitioners, the President hopes to inform the people of Mindanao what her administration has accomplished in nine years.

The President's visit to Mindanao is the third leg of her Super Regions performance evaluation.

Under the Super Regions strategy, Mindanao's potential as the country's agribusiness center is being developed and harnessed through major infrastructure projects.

The President began her legacy tour two weeks ago with visits to the Cyber Corridor and the Urban Luzon Beltway.

She has yet to visit the North Luzon Agribusiness Triangle and Central Philippines Tourism Center super regions.

The Super Regions was first unveiled in her 2006 State-of the-Nation Address. That time, she noted the importance of grouping selected regions and provinces by their economic strengths to stimulate economic growth and development and make the Philippines in step with its ASEAN neighbors.

Mindanao's competitive edge is agribusiness. It supplies 40 percent of the country's food requirements and contributes more than 30 percent to the national food trade. (PIA V Release)

PGMA cites 3 Filipino, 2 Japanese

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today (February 15) conferred Presidential Citations on three Filipinos and two Japanese in simple rites in Malacañang.

Teiko Inabata and Tsueno Tanaka were cited for their invaluable assistance to the Philippines through their Global Voluntary Service, a non-government organization engaged in community and social projects in the country since 1993.

Global Voluntary Service (GVS) was founded in 1992 to help people improve their living conditions.

Through GVS, Inabata and Tanaka implement projects that benefit the Filipino people in such areas as vocational training, health education and entrepreneurial development.

They have conducted seminars and training programs focused on poverty alleviation in numerous cities and municipalities in Batangas, Benguet, Cavite, Cebu, Davao del Norte, Ilocos Sur, Iloilo, Laguna, Negros Occicdental, Pampanga, Quezon, Rizal, and South Cotabato as well as in Metropolitan Manila.

Also cited by the President were Makati City 1st District Representative Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Drs. Ernesto Domingo and Mercedes Concepcion.

Locsin was conferred the Philippine Legion of Honor with the degree of Grand Officer, one of the senior honors of the Republic, in recognition of his valuable and meritorious service in military affairs.

Locsin had been instrumental in upholding the honor and integrity of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a member of the House of Representatives.

Drs. Domingo and Concepcion were cited for their pioneering work in the field of gastroenterology and internal medicine and in demography, respectively.

Domingo is known for his studies on the nature of schistosome granuloma and its role in hepatosplenic disease.

Concepcion is recognized for her study on population composition and trends and their implications for social and economic development, the growth of urbanization, the situation of the elderly and of employment.

Present during the awarding ceremonies were Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro. (PIA V Release)

France, Monaco Consuls call on PGMA, begin 5-day RP familiarization tour

MANILA — Honorary Consuls from France and Monaco called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacañang this Monday morning (February 15).
Honorary Consuls Jean Jacques Rinck and Guy Alain Lafont de Sentenac of France and Patricia Zobel de Ayala of Monaco are on a five-day tour of the Philippines to gather knowledge that will help them promote the country as a trade and tourist destination in their places of origin.
Joining the President in welcoming the visitors were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Minister and Consul General of the Philippines in Paris Rosalita Prospero.
The familiarization tour is an initiative of the Honorary Consuls themselves and the Philippine Embassy in Paris.
According to Ambassador Prospero, the two will represent the Philippines in Monaco, Lyon and Toulossa, and the tour will help them do their job.

Honorary Consuls are men and women of consequence who complement the efforts of the country’s foreign service. (PIA V Release)

Feb. 22 is special holiday in all schools

MANILA — It will be a special holiday in all schools on Monday, February 22, as the country commemorates the 24th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9492, all holidays, except those which are religious in nature, are moved to the nearest Monday unless otherwise modified by law, order or proclamation.

In July last year, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 1841 declaring the regular holidays, special (non-working) days, and special holidays (for all schools) for the year 2010.

Under the proclamation, February 22, or the Monday nearest February 25, was declared a special holiday to serve as an “inspiration to all Filipinos everywhere as we continue to chart our collective course as a nation and as a people.”

The country yearly celebrates the February 25, 1986 People Power revolution which restored basic liberties such as free speech, freedom of assembly and a free press after 14 years of Martial rule. (PIA V Release)