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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY — Albay Gov. Joey Salceda was dismayed over the decision of the organizers of Binibining Pilipinas Universe replacing Ms. Venus Raj, this year's Miss Binibining Pilipinas Universe, with a second rank winner.

Salceda said he would ask the organizers why Miss Diane Samar Necio, the 1st runner up, did not automatically take the place of Raj.

“I know, this is very parochial, even trivial to some, but I am asking the organizers why the 1st runner up, Ms Diane Samar Necio, my town mate, did not automatically take the place of Ms. Binibining Pilipinas Universe - Ms. Venus Raj who was ousted,” Salceda said.

“Typically, we send a morena to Ms.Universe and Ms. Necio was a morena beauty and she was proclaimed the 1st runner up,” he said.

Raj was dethroned for submitting questionable documents to the Bb. Pilipinas Universe organizers, a ground for disqualifications under the pageant rules.

Raj was born in Camarines Sur but she studied in this city (Bicol University) and was poster girl of Albay CIRCA (Center for Initiatives and Research on Climate Adaptation), Salceda said .

Over the past three years, Albay has had a bountiful harvest of beauty trophies. Last year, Miss Melody Gerbasch first won as Miss Magayon 2009 before becoming Binibining Pilipinas International and was a semifinalist in China.

Necio, the Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1st runner up, was a runner up to Gerbasch in the Mutya ng Magayon Pageant.

Another Albayana beauty, Jane Banares, won as Mutya ng Pilipinas 2009 even after losing in Mutya ng Magayon but winning Miss Polangui.

Salceda said the titles were a source of local pride and to a certain extent a uniting force for Bicolanos.

The provincial government provided support, although private funded, these aspirations.

“ We provided assistance to three candidates in this year's Binibining Pilipinas (Raj, Necio and Santos from Daraga who was actually the winner of Miss Magayon 2009). We sent a delegation to China to support Ms. Melody Gerbasch,” Salceda said. (MSArguelles, PNA Bicol/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY —Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is set to release the new design of the Philippine monetary bills and coins by the end of 2010.

Marlyn Paje, acting deputy director of BSP branch here, said that this is in accordance the New Central Bank Act or Republic Act 7653 giving the Central Bank Monetary Board, with the approval of the Philippine President, the power to prescribe denominations, dimensions, designs and inscriptions and other characteristics of notes issued by the BSP.

She added that the new face of the Philippine currency is to circulate by 2013. From this year on, current bills and coins will still be considered as legal tender while a 5-year exchange period for these is in place.

Paje said that the new currency design will have brighter colors and will feature the Philippines’ national wonders at the back side of the bills and Mayon Volcano may be included in the new design. Currently, historical buildings are featured at the back side of the bills.

Dorothy Colle, Officer-in-Charge of the Albay Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office, said that the possible inclusion of Mayon in the Philippine currency will be an opportunity for promotion for the province.

She added that local and foreign tourists will be made more familiar to where Mayon is and it may boost the province’s tourist arrival which is at 235,000, a far second to Camarines Sur’s roughly million tourist arrival in 2009.

BSP redesigns the Philippine currency every 10 years as a measure to avoid counterfeiters in mastering the country’s bank notes. (JMYee, BUCAL/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol, Provincial Government of Masbate and Municipal Government of Cawayan penned recently the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the implementation of the poverty reduction project Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Community Integrated Development and Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) in Cawayan town.

DSWD Assistant Regional Director Evelyn Lontok was joined by Masbate Governor Elisa T. Kho, Cawayan Mayor Edgar S. Condor, Vice Mayor Ramon Abinuman and officials from the provincial government of Masbate.

Governor Kho said that communities from Cawayan should continue to support the programs and projects of the government especially the DSWD’s KALAHI-CIDSS and 4Ps or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

“The people should be involved right from the start of the project because the people from the barangays are our partners in development. All of us have a very important role for the success of this project,” Kho enthused.

Mayor Condor expressed gratitude for selecting Cawayan as the only municipality in Bicol for the additional 16 municipalities to implement KALAHI-CIDSS. Adding 16 more to the original 184 municipalities was a directive from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her visit in Arakan, North Cotabato last year. Cawayan will receive P16 million grant fund from KALAHI this year.

Condor affirmed his counterpart funding amounting to P8.1 million for the implementation of KALAHI-CIDSS in his municipality this year. “I am confident that with the support of the barangay officials and commitment from the community, Cawayan will pursue the goals of KALAHI-CIDSS which are to reduce poverty, improve local governance and empower communities,” Condor said.

Meanwhile, the Regional Project Management Team (RPMT) is in the process of selecting additional areas and negotiating the further expansion of KALAHI-CIDSS in the next three years. The DSWD in Bicol initiated screening of additional municipalities for KALAHI-CIDSS, adding five more additional areas, which are being assessed by the RPMT.

Considered for inclusion are the towns that are “currently covered by the DSWD’s 4Ps program” with “no previous arrangement with KALAHI-CIDSS” and those that have a “poverty incidence of 50 per cent and above,” said Regional Director Remia T. Tapispisan.

The percentage of poverty incidence of municipalities is based on the 2003 Small Area Poverty Estimates released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

The municipalities already assessed were Dimasalang, Mobo, Palanas, Milagros, Balud, Mandaon, Placer and Cataingan.

KALAHI-CIDSS project in the Bicol region has funded a total of 667 community infrastructures. Projects that responded to the people’s prioritized problems from 2003 to 2009 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 (WB) in the Philippines. (CLMartinez, KCRSMO-DSWD/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte (March 26) — The Provincial Census Coordinating Board (PCCB) has convened Friday (March 19) in preparation for the 2010 Census of Population and Housing (CPH) this coming May 17 to June 11, 2010.

NSO Provincial Statistics Officer Rodolfo Guevarra said that the conduct of census is pursuant to National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB) Resolution No. 12 declaring the May 2010 as the National Census Month.

He said that the 2010 census is designed to take an inventory of the total population and housing units in the country and collect information about their characteristics.

Guevarra said that the 2007 census focuses only in population while the 2010 census will be for population and housing.

He explained that CPH aims to provide government planners, policy makers and administrators with data on which to base their social and economic development plans and programs

He cited that population of the country is expected to reach 94 million in 2010 from the 88.8 million in 2007 while in Camarines Norte population is expected to reach 533 thousand in 2010 from the 513,785 in 2007.

He also cited that the CPH will be conducted nationwide in 17 regions with 85 provinces, 1,631 cities and municipalities, 42,000 barangays.

He added that the CPH will be conducted simultaneously in the country with teachers as priority enumerators.

The NSCB is composed of the following agencies: DAR, DA, DepEd, DOE, DENR, DOF, DOH, DILG, DOLE, DND, DPWH, DOST, DSWD, DTI, DOTC, DOT, Sec. Gen of NSCB, Administrator of NSO, DG of Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Director of the Statistical Research and Training Center and Private Sector Representative.

The Regional, Provincial, City and Municipal Census Coordinating Board are representatives from the said agencies in the locality. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


SORSOGON CITY (March 25) – The Bureau of Fire protection (BFP) Sorsogon City launched over the week end the “TXTFIRE” Philippines at the Central Fire Station, this city.

Personnel coming from the Sorsogon City Central Fire Station and its two sub-stations together with the Sorsogon Fil-Chinese Volunteer Fire Brigade headed by its founder, Gerry Chua, participated to the said launching.

Sorsogon City Fire Marshal Chief Inspector Renato B. Marcial said the TXTFIRE Philippines is an very active firefighting organization that originated from Binondo, Manila.

TXTFIRE is an SMS dispatch system whose primary task is to inform the public particularly the responders on the latest news and ongoing fire alerts and incidences.

“What they have to do is to specify via their text messages relevant information such as the location, time and status of fire and send it to our txtfire hotlines,” Marcial said.

BFP Hotline for Sorsogon City is 09184390852, while 09099152075 for Bacon District sub-station and 09099152098 for Abuyog sub-station.

“Txtfire has the right to filter messages that is sent within the system and the organization abides by the rules and regulations set by the system’s administrator. If fire incident occurs in the area, the operator will dispatch the nearest firefighter to the fire scene,” Marcial explained.

“I also directed all my personnel to join the Txtfire Philippines organization for them to be aware of the fire incidents here as well as in the whole Philippines,” he further said.

Meanwhile, fire volunteer in the Philippines are now eligible to apply for a txtfire firefighter card and grouptxt for their own fire brigade group for free. They only need to accomplish the forms downloadable at www.txtfire.net. All application forms must be sent to Café Mezzanine 650 Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon/with reports from MBDollente and LGFuntanares, BFP Sorsogon)


(National Demographic and Health Survey 2008)

Rural women marry younger and start childbearing earlier (21.1) than those in urban areas (23.2). Such situation may end up having large family size.

Based on the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), fertility in the Philippines for the past 36 years has been steadily declining. Of the 26 women age 15-24 years who have begun childbearing, young women in rural areas are more likely than those in urban areas. Although trends in fertility show a declining level, fertility is still high among those with low level of education, the lowest quintile (wealth index) and those from rural areas.

The total fertility rate (TFR) in the Philippines declined from 6.0 children per women in 1970 to 3.3 children per woman in 2008. Those women with college education have lower TFR (2.3) than with high school (3.5) and elementary (4.5) education. Rural women have more children than those residing in urban areas (TFR of 2.8 vs. 3.8). In the same manner, poor women have higher number of children per family. In Bicol region, the TFR trend is likewise declining from 5.9 in 1993 to 4.1 in 2008 and those women in rural areas have more children.

Some proximate determinants that influence fertility are: age of first marriage; first sexual intercourse, insusceptibility (sexual abstinence and amenorrhea); and birth spacing or limiting birth.

On sexual intercourse, half of the married Filipino women experience first sexual intercourse at age 21.5. Said event likewise happened in younger age among rural (20.6) than urban women (22.3). But other studies, like Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Studies (YAFSS), reveal that significant number of sexual debut among young females happened before turning 20 years or even younger. And that the behavioral trend is rising. For example in Bicol Region, incidence among females was 11.2 per cent in 1984 (YAFS 1) and jumped to 17.5 per cent in 1992 (YAFS 3).

The unmet need for family planning or the percentage of currently married women who either do not want any more children or want to wait before having their next birth is 22 per cent, or which 13 per cent is for limiting and 9 per cent is for spacing. Similarly, more women in rural areas (23.7) have higher unmet need than those in urban areas (21.1).

On fertility preference, around 82 per cent of married women want either to space births or to limit childbearing altogether. But over half (54%) of married women age 15-49 in the country do not want another child but many of them end up having pregnancies. In fact, one in three births (36%) are either unwanted (16%) or mistimed and wanted later (20%).

On the other hand, it is ironic to know that abortion in the country is high among married ad unmarried women. One study estimated that, despite legal restrictions, in 1994 there were 400,000 abortions performed illegally in the Philippines and 80,000 hospitalizatios of women for abortion-related complications. 12% of all maternal deaths in 1994 were due to unsafe abortion according to the Department of Health of the Philippines. Two-thirds of Filipino women who have abortions attempt to self-induce or seek solutions from those who practice folk medicine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_the_Philippines, accessed o 3/25/2010.

Respoding to the unmet need for family planning and contraceptive use, unwanted pregnancies and abortion could be prevended.

There are observed differences in contraceptive use. Women in urban areas (53.4%) are more likely to use a family planning method than in women in rural areas (48.0), reflecting wider availability and easier access to contraceptive method in urban areas than in rural areas. The contraceptive prevalence rate for modern methods is 53 per cent in urban areas, compared with 48 per cet in rural areas. Educational attainment and economic status influence use of contraception. Of the married women, only 19 per cent with no education are currently using contraception compared with 53 per cent with high school and college education.

On health care situation, over half (52.5%) women in urban areas received antenatal care from a Doctor, compared to over one fourth (25.9) in rural communities who also received 61.1 per cent the same services from midwives. Only 44 per cent of births in the Philippines are delivered in a health facility while the rest take place in a home. The data show that 70 per cent of mothers in rural areas and 40.3 per cent in urban areas delivered their babies at home.

Such realities imply a greater need for information and services in rural areas. More health workers are needed in the field. The Local Government Units should hire more midwives, at least there should be one midwife per barangay, and provide more incentives to community-based health volunteers such as the barangay health workers (BHWs), barangay nutrition scholars (BNSs), ad barangay service point officers (BSPOs).

With the forthcoming election, who among the national and local candidates take the issue of population, family planning ad reproductive health seriously in their agenda?

` We cannot postpone delivery of nor deny services especially to the women in the rural and far-flung areas. The situation is appalling; need is very evident and urgent. ACT NOW!


MANILA — Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said Monday (March 29) that all the recent appointments made by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were a timely and legitimate exercise of her appointing powers, with the highest interest of the country in mind.

Stressing that nothing was irregular in the appointments, Mendoza said all, but one, were done in accordance with law, civil service rules and other regulations and before the 60-day election ban on appointments took effect.

Even the only exception, which was the change at the top post in the Department of Energy where Jose C. Ibazaeta was designated, in temporary and acting capacity, to replace the recently-resigned Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, was justified by Mendoza as a case of a “permitted executive appointment” covered by Section 15 Article 7 of the Constitution.

Newly-assumed Presidential Legal Counsel Raoul Victorino helped explain that the particular Constitutional provision allows temporary appointments when “continued vacancies will prejudice public service and endanger public safety”.

Victorino, a former Sandiganbayan justice and member of the Judicial and Bar Council, said the DOE appointment satisfied the required elements of “temporariness” of the appointment and the elements of public safety and service.

Earlier the Department of Justice said that the absence of a secretary at the DOE will prejudice public service especially in Mindanao where a power crisis is taking place on account of the El Nino phenomenon.

“I wish to clarify, once and for all, that all of the appointments recently made by President Arroyo constitute a timely and legitimate exercise of her appointing authority, consistent with law, civil service and other regulations, and invoking the highest national interest by putting in position only the most competent executives to assist in completing her legacy agenda for the country within the brief time remaining. “ Mendoza stressed during a Malacanang press briefing where he was joined by Victorino and Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar.

During the briefing, the Malacanang officials sought to put an end to the developing controversy over the alleged unceremonious replacement as ambassador to Germany of Delia Domingo Albert by businessman Alfonso Yuchengo, by allowing Albert herself to explain her replacement during the press briefing.

Forthwith, Albert clarified that nothing was wrong because in her ambassadorial posting to Germany, she is a “political appointee” serving at the pleasure of the appointing authority ---the President.

Albert said she has long retired from the career foreign service but was picked from retirement by the President. “ As a political appointee, I am co-terminous with the President, ” Albert made it clear.

Albert, who served as foreign secretary in 2003, said she is one of two former foreign affairs secretaries whose services have been extended by the President, the other being Domingo Siazon, who is ambassador to Japan.

Albert categorically said her replacement is “the prerogative of the President.”

She dismissed as conjectures reports that one reason why she was replaced has something to do with a report she made about Germany’s supposed doubts on the feasibility of the first-ever automated election in the Philippines.

“ I am surprised by the report,” she said, adding “it was pity that bilateral relations would come in” in her case. She said there was no such discussion in Germany on the matter.

The controversy notwithstanding, Albert said she was thankful for President Arroyo.

She said she was asked by the President to wait for her replacement as there is still a process to be done.

Olivar meanwhile, took critics to task especially the political opposition for injecting political intrigues into the Albert case. “Let us spare our foreign relations and bilateral relations (with Germany) from election politics.

Mendoza said no more appointments are likely as the recent reorganization forced by the 2010 election campaign has been completed. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — There is no need for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to take a leave of absence in the wake of the medical confinement of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

This, Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza emphasized Monday (March 29), saying the President is governing the affairs of the state from the hospital suite of her husband.

“There is no need for her to take a leave of absence. She has just transferred office ” Mendoza said during a Malacanang press briefing, in reaction to suggestions that the Chief Executive take time off from her duties to fully attend to the First Gentleman who had been admitted to St Luke’s hospital in Taguig for his heart ailment.

Mendoza said that while watching over the First Gentleman, governance remains foremost in the mind of the President as she calls everybody whenever there are important activities.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raoul Victorino said that taking a leave of absence is a matter solely for the President’s judgment. “ It is a presidential prerogative, ” he added, pointing out that there is no legal basis to force the President to do that.

“She is President and we have only one President,” Victorino asserted.

Accompanied by Deputy Spokesperson Gary Olivar, Ambassador Delia Domingo Albert and Victorino, Mendoza said the President has given instructions to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), to ensure safety provisions for travelers this Holy week.

As to the scheduled foreign trips of President Arroyo next month, Mendoza said there have been no word yet on a possible cancellation. (PIA V Release)

DOJ says recent PGMA appointments “legal and valid”

MANLA — Justice Secretary Alberto C. Agra said Monday (March 29) that all appointments in executive department posts recently made by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are valid and legal, having been done in full observance of the law and the Constitution.

Agra, himself a professor of administrative law, pointed out that the presidential appointments were made on or before March 10, 2010, the last day for President Arroyo to appoint government officials without contravening the 60-day election ban on appointments.

Defending Malacanang, Agra dismissed as “bereft of legal basis” and purely “malicious talks,” criticisms questioning the legality of the presidential appointments.

“Even under the prohibitive period on presidential appointment under the Constitution, there are exemptions,” the new Justice Secretary said.

Among settled exemptions to the 60-day ban immediately prior to the next presidential election he added, are temporary appointments to executive positions “when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.”

“This makes the appointment of an Officer-in-Charge for the Department of Energy to replace Secretary Angelo Reyes, valid. Having met the condition of temporariness, it cannot be denied that the continued vacancy will prejudice public service on account of the Mindanao power crisis and the worsening El Nino phenomenon,” Agra said.

He said that having no cabinet secretary at the helm of the Department of Energy will definitely undermine governance.

The justice secretary also said the prohibition on midnight appointments does not cover designations, details, transfers and re-assignments because all these acts presume previous or earlier appointments.

Another exemption to the ban is the appointments in the judiciary which was affirmed by the Supreme Court in a ruling last March 17, which gave the President the legal and valid premises, should she decide, to appoint the replacement for Chief Justice Reynato Puno who will retire on May 17, 2010.

“The Supreme Court reasoned, among others, that the establishment of the Judicial and Bar Council and their subjecting the nomination and screening of candidates for judicial positions to the unhurried and deliberate prior process of the JBC, ensured that there would no longer be midnight appointments to the Judiciary,” Secretary Agra explained further on the SC appointments issue.

Agra said the prohibition “applies only to the act of the President which is to appoint, and does not extend to other acts which are part of the overall appointment process. He was referring to events subsequent to the actual appointment, such as transmittal of the appointment papers and oath-taking.

“Please bear in mind that the appointing authority of the President in these cases of recent presidential appointments are absolute, as opposed to subjecting the same to assent or confirmation of another body,” the justice secretary said.

“It is long settled in the law of public officers that where the power of appointment is absolute, and the appointee has been determined upon, no further consent or approval is necessary, and the formal evidence of the appointment, the commission, may issue at once. Thus, the transmission of appointment papers, the acceptance of the appointment and the administration of oaths are clearly subsequent appointment processes, and do not in any way affect the appointing authority of the President,” Secretary Agra explained. (PIA V Release)

PGMA's public engagements remain on hold -- Icban

MANILA — Malacañang said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cancelled all her public activities Tuesday (March 30) to be with First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo who remains confined at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City for a life-threatening heart ailment.

Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. said in a phone interview this morning there was no word as of the moment when the President would resume her public engagements, including her campaign for a congressional seat in her home province of Pampanga in the coming May 10 elections.

Meanwhile, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar said that despite the cancellation of the President's public engagements, she continues to run the government through her Cabinet members.

According to Undersecretary Olivar, some of the Chief Executive’s appointments have been delegated to Vice President Noli de Castro.

President Arroyo also put a satellite office at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig to be able to do some important tasks of governance while watching over her husband's condition, Olivar said.

He also said the Arroyo family is waiting for the new medical bulletins from the attending physicians of the presidential spouse if he would be fit to travel to Baguio City for the First Family’s annual Holy Week vacation.

Atty. Arroyo was rushed to St. Luke’s Medical Center last Thursday due to severe back pains and high blood pressure which doctors later diagnosed as “re-dissection of the thoracic aorta” which was similar to the dissecting aneurism the First Gentleman suffered in April 2007.

Olivar said the First Gentleman’s condition continues to improve daily and that he has started to receive "bedside rehabilitation" and medication. (PIA V Release)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

… scores on her administration’s gains in education; grants assistance to former rebels

PILI, Camarines Sur (March 26) — Barely a year after signing the law that gave the Camarines Sur State Agricultural College (CSSAC) its new status as a university, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo set foot on its ground Wednesday (March 24), as part of her legacy tour in various learning institutions in the country.

Atty. Marito Bernales, the first university president of CSSAC now known as the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture or CBSUA expressed his appreciation to the President for choosing the university as one of the recipients of her educational tours.

“CBSUA has transformed itself into one of the best universities in the region. Its commitment for quality education as crucial instrument in nurturing the Bicolano youth has propelled its desire to assume its challenging role as the only agricultural university in the Bicol Region.”

Before delivering her speech in front of the students, President Arroyo personally received former members of the New Peoples Army into the folds of law during a simple awarding ceremony at the CBSUA Social Hall.

Thirty-six (36) rebel returnees coming from different provinces in the region individually received P20,000.00 as livelihood assistance plus an additional cash for every firearms surrendered. The amount will serve as the returnees’ start up capital in establishing their new life in the community as part of the government’s social integration program.

Aside from the cash grant, the recipients are also being enjoined to participate in the livelihood trainings being conducted by other government agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

President Arroyo also hailed CBSUA for the notable increase of enrollees and course offerings after being declared as a university. She also reiterated her 3Es program - education, economy and environment and challenged the youth to assume its challenging role as the hope of the new generation. She gave emphasis on education as a foundation of opportunity and as a key for a better life.

The President also scored on her administrations’ gains in the education sector as evidenced by the construction of more than 100,000 school buildings, particularly those damaged by the recent typhoons that hit Bicol region and the thousand of scholarship grants, particularly for technical-vocational courses.

From 2001 to 2009, she has already put in place 49,000 tech-voc scholarships in the region, 14,000 of which are recipients from the province of Camarines Sur.

The President also made mention of the commuter train system which aims to make accessible the routes from Camarines Sur going to Albay. Aside from improving the commuter train system, her administration also improved and developed the ports and RORO in Pasacao, going to Burias Island, as part of the eastern nautical highway project.”

Aside from the Arroyo administration’s gains in terms of education and infrastructure, it has also scored on delivering its other services in the community like the electrification of barangays, increased access in PhilHealth and increased revenue due to its aggressive campaign in tax collection. (LSMacatangay, PIA CamSur)


LEGAZPI CITY (March 26) — Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Bicol Director Danilo Manalang has ordered the setting up of Motorists’ Assistance Centers (MAC) along the national highways of Bicol in preparation for the influx of travelers in time for the observance of Holy Week.

said that every District Engineering Office (DEO) across the region has an existing organized team ready to give free roadside emergency repair assistance to traveling public during long holidays.

Dubbed “Lakbay Alalay”, the assistance centers are manned by engineers, car mechanics, equipment operators and other service crews.

This coming Holy Week, “Lakbay Alalay” will start on Wednesday (March 31) from 6:00 am to Monday (April 5) at 12:00 noon.

MAC is carried out in coordination with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government units (LGU).

In Albay, MACs will be set up in Daang Maharlika junctions of Legazpi City-Sto. Domingo-Tabaco City-Camarines Sur boundary road; Basud in Sto. Domingo; Busay in Daraga; and, Paulog Station in Ligao City.

In Camarines Norte, motorists can get in touch with MACs located in Tabugon, Sta. Elena Section and Tigbinan, Labo Section

Motorists plying Catanduanes routes can find MACs in Manambrag, San Andres; Pagsangahan, San Miguel; Bato; and, in Sicmil, Gigmoto

In Camarines Sur, “Lakbay Albay” is available at DPWH Sub-Office in Agrupacion, Ragay; Tambo, Pamplona,; Cam. Sur Traffic Mgt. Group (TMG) Headquarters, Daang Maharlika in Concepcion Grande, Naga City; Mambulo Nuevo, Libmanan; DPWH Junction, Tigaon; Lagonoy Poblacion; Crossing/Diversion, Baao; and, Bato Resthouse, Agos, Bato

MAC personnel will keep watch on motorists from Pepita Park in Bucalbucalan and Multi-Purpose Barangay Hall in San Pedro, Irosin, all in the province of Sorsogon.

While in Masbate, MACs will be all over the place with 12 centers put up to attend to the needs of motorists in the island province, including Jct. Milagros-Baleno-Lagta Road; Jct. Tawad-Balud Road; Masbate-Milagros/Masbate-Cataingan Road; Jct. Buenavista-Cawayan Road, Jct., Buenavista; Jct. Buenavista-Cawayan Road, Bgy. Del Carmen; Jct. Balatucan-Cataingan Road, Balocawe, Dimasalang; Jct. Balatucan-Catainga Road, Jct. Cataingan; Jct. Cataingan-Placer Road, Bgy. Katipunan; Roving Unit (National Road covered Masbate 2nd DEO/3rd Legislative Dist); San Fernando South Road (Batuan Section); San Fernando North Road (San Fernando, San Jacinto and Monreal Sections); and, San Pascual-Claveria Road (San Pascual side & Claveria side).

At the DPWH Bicol regional office, a skeletal workforce from Maintenance Division will man the office to receive reports from field offices and to render emergency services that may be required during the said holidays. (LVCastañeda, DPWH/PIA)


SORSOGON CITY (March 26) — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) station here is now all set for the observance of the holy week anticipating the influx of vacationers to roll up in the province.

PCG Sorsogon City OIC Station Commander Lt. Jr. Grade Jose Ronnie Ong, said that early as this time the agency has already alerted their special operations unit and K-9 unit personnel in connection with the PCG’s program for holy week dubbed as “Oplan Mahal na Araw 2010”.

Ong said that PCG has launched anew the “Oplan Mahal Na Araw” program this year in partnership with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Maritime Industry Administration (MARINA) to fine tune security in the province’s major ports.

“We will also activate the Passenger’s Assistance Centers in Matnog, Pilar and Bulan ports starting March 30 until April 14,” he assures.

With this, travelers and the public as well are guaranteed that sea travels of all the shipping companies here will be safe, well-facilitated and systematic,” Ong further said.

Ong added that they have also coordinated with the Philippine National Police (PNP) as well as with the Philippine Army in the province for an integrated commitment that would ensure security of water transport services and a more efficient implementation of the safety standards and regulations concerning inspection of passengers and baggage including as well security procedures at the ports.

“Aside from this, we also assure the public that we will relentlessly monitor activities and occurrences in all ports here to avert possible breach of security protocols and to protect passenger vessels not only during holy week but during the entire duration of summer vacation,” Ong said. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


LEGAZPI CITY (March 26) — The Center for Initiative Research for Climate Change Adaptation (CIRCA) in Albay calls on Albayanos to switch off their lights from 8:30 until 9:30 in the evening in response to the global observance of Earth Hour 2010 tomorrow (March 27).

Manuel “Nhong” Rangasa, CIRCA executive director, said Albay, known globally and even declared as global model for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and mitigation initiatives, should be among the forerunners in such endeavors and show the world what we can do to protect and save the planet.

“Simultaneous with people across the globe, the switching off of lights in our homes, offices, and establishments, among others, will serve as an avenue to appeal to our people start mending their wasteful ways, protect and conserve, and save Planet Earth,” Rangasa explained.

“Albayanos, living up to the reputation as good environment-friendly citizens, can make an impact on this side of the biosphere,” he added.

Rangasa stressed that Albayanos’ choice and taking part in the Earth Hour 2010 will underscore the stark reminder of climate change now really occurring with notable adverse implications in many parts of the globe, adding that the one hour “lights off” will translate into “an immense decrease in amount of fuel burning."

“El Nino is a reminder that we should reduce the amount of carbon footprint and rebuild our forests," he related.

This year’s observance of the Earth Hour aims to be the largest environmental mass-participation event in Philippine history, according to organizers in the country.

Earth Hour 2010 hopes to inspire 15 Million Filipinos in 1000 cities and towns to join the global switch off.

Earth Hour movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations.

Now in its third year in the country and envisioned as a celebration of climate change solutions, Earth Hour Philippines aims to inspire 1000 towns, cities and municipalities to switch off and join in the revelry – in an environmentally-conscious manner, that is.

Many of the nation’s most iconic landmarks are expected to dim their lights in the largest call for action on climate change. Cities from around the world, from Europe to Africa, are expected to join in.

Crafted to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off lights for an hour to deliver a powerful message on the need for climate change solutions.

This simple act has captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world, becoming a worldwide phenomenon in 2008 and 2009 – where the Philippines placed first globally in terms of town and city participation. (MALoterte, PIA V)


DAET, Camarines Norte (March 26) — Governor Edgardo Tallado has formally assumed as chief executive of Camarines Norte around 5:00 pm yesterday following a 4-day resistance from former Gov. Jesus O. Typoco Jr .

The installation of Tallado came upon with the intervention of Regional Director Blandino Maceda of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Bicol and assisted by with Camarines Norte Police Provincial Director PS/Supt. Pierre Bucsit.

It can be recalled that Tallado was proclaimed Monday (March 22) by Commission on Elections (COMELEC) as the winning gubernatorial candidate in the province.

Resistance from the camp of Typoco were observed after the proclamation by barricading the vicinity of the provincial capitol to prevent the entrance of Tallado.

Tthe political fight between Typoco and Tallado escalated after the Supreme Court en banc denied the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Typoco with 11-2 votes and 1 abstention in favor of Tallado last March 5, 2010.

In its 16-page decision, the highest court has sustained the April 30, 2008 resolution of Comelec First Division granting Tallado’s petition to correct manifest error found in the Municipal certificate of canvass in the municipality of Labo.

Based on the records of COMELEC, upon proclamation Typoco garnered 80,830 while Tallado got 78,287. After the correction, Tallado earned 79,969 and Typoco had 79,904 votes.

The body annulled the proclamation of Typoco as winner of gubernatorial race in May 14, 2007 elections and directed the proclamation of Tallado.

The decision also upheld the February 24, 2009 Comelec en banc decision denying the motion for reconsideration of Typoco.

It will also be recalled that former Governor Typoco remained governor afterwards due to temporary restraining order given by the Supreme Court. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)

…more grantees noted in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY (March 26) — The Ford Foundation’s International Fellowships Program (FP) in the Philippines has sent 28 more scholars abroad to study for post graduate degrees, mostly abroad, 26 of which were deployed second half of 2009 and 3 more last month.

The 29 scholars are part of Cohort 2008, so named because IFP Philippines selected them from a pool of applicants in 2008. The very first group was Cohort 2002, while members of Cohort 2009 are in the process of applying to their chosen universities.

Of the members of Cohort 2008, 12 are now studying in the United States, 6 in the United Kingdom, 2 in the Philippines and one in Thailand. Two scholars will leave for Australia this month.

The scholars come from varied backgrounds. Fifteen are from the academic institutions, 5 from non-government organizations, four from government service, and two from the private sector.

Likewise, they are pursuing different areas of study. Twelve are in the natural sciences, 6 in the social sciences, 5 in the arts and humanities, 4 in education, and 2 in law.

The Ford Foundation launched the IFP in 2001 with an allocation of $280 million, the largest single grant in the foundation’s history. The program operates in 22 countries where the Ford Foundation is a grant maker.
The IFP is different from other international fellowships for the following reasons: first, scholars are selected on the basis of their leadership record and commitment to their country or community as well as on the strength of their academic achievement; second, they come from disadvantaged groups with limited access to higher education; and third, scholars can pursue graduate studies in educational institutions anywhere in the world.

In the Philippines, IFP has already granted scholarships to 246 people, 93 of whom have already completed their degrees.

The IFP selects its scholars through a rigorous series of interviews. Interviewers include top academics from different fields.

Already, 104 Filipino alumni of the IFP Philippines have been accounted for from Cohorts 2002 to 2007. Ten has finished doctoral programs and 82 earned master degrees while 7 have to defend doctoral dissertations. A third of grantees pursued studies in the field of development or development management while 18 did so in social sciences; a fifth took up applied science and environment; 9 finished masters in public policy and management, 8 in education, 2 in law, 2 in fine arts degrees, 2 in tourism and 1 in information management.

More than two thirds studied in universities outside the Philippines and nearly all of them have returned.

In terms of geographic origin, grantees came from up north as Basco, Batanes to far south as Isabela City in Basilan. Mindanao is strongly represented among the alumni as is Bicol Region particularly Camarines Sur.

Of the 18 Bicolano scholars from 2002-2007, nine are from Camarines Sur with 4 from Naga City, Pedro B. Bellen, Jr., MA Development Studies ’04; Wilfredo B. Prilles, Jr., Masters in Planning, Growth and Regeneration ’05, University of Cambridge;; Arnel B. Sanchez, MA Forest and Nature Conservation ’05; Wageningen University; Melinda T. Agapito, MSc Marine Resource Management ’08, Oregon State University.

Victoria Serrano of Ocampo, Camarines Sur, MSc Organic Agriculture (Major in Consumer and Market) ’07 Wageningen University; Francia L. Villaflor of Bato, Camarines Sur, PhD candidate Child and Family Studies, Miriam College; Charlie Balagtas of Tigaon, Camarines Sur, MA Sustainable International Development ’08, Brandies University; Trixie Ann C. Clemente of Ragay, Camarines Sur, MSc Environmental Forestry ’07, University of Walges-Bangor; Felicidad Mendoza-Justiniana of San Fernando, Camarines Sur, MA Sustainable International Development ’08, Brandeis University; and Iligino Francisco Peñones, Jr. of Iriga City, MFA Creative Writing ’09, San Jose State University.

Albay fellows who have graduated are Gremil Alessandro Alcazar-Naz of Legazpi City, Master of Arts in Media, Culture and Community ’08, New York University; Jenifer B. Belarmino of Malilipot, Albay, Diploma in Development Studies ’07, University of Leeds; and Nomer C. Esmero of Malinao, Albay, Masters in Public Policy ’08, Australian National University.

There were two grantees from Sorsogon, Jose Marie L. Gonzalez, Jr., Master in Development Management ’07, Asian Institute of Management and Pacita D. Fortin, MA Development Studies, Institute of Social Studies both from Sorsogon City; and so from Masbate, Joey Deinta Alcantara of Batuan, Masbate, MA Development Studies (Major in Local and Regional Development) ’07, Institute of Social Studies and Ma. Lyn Estoquia of Masbate City, MA Philippine Studie s’09, De La Salle University.

Joshua B. Guinto of Daet, Camarines Norte finished MSc Management of Agro-Ecological Knowledge ad Social Change ’08, Wageningen University.

Upon the return of the scholars from their studies especially those who completed their graduate studies abroad, a re-integration program is conducted by the Philippine Institute of Social Science based in UP Diliman, Quezon City. Last week, Higino Francisco Peñones, Jr., Gremil Alessandro Alcazar-Naz and Ma. Lyn Estoquia underwent said re-assimilation program held in Central Luzon State University in Science City of Muñoz. (GAANaz/AANaz, PIA V)


DAET, Camarines Norte (March 26) — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) district office here in this province expressed optimism that it can achieve its collection target of P430 million for this year, assured a bureau official in Camarines Norte.

In a press conference during the launching of 2010 Tax Campaign here, Revenue District Officer Marcelino M. Quito said that for the month of January this year the bureau already collected 101 percent more than the monthly target and overshoot by 32 percent the target for February compared to the same months last year.

Quito averred that they have 100 days to implement the bureau’s intensified revenue generation programs, including the early filing of income tax before April 15 to avoid the rush.

Aside from the income tax campaigns, BIR is keen on stepping up the “Project Iboto Mo” campaign under Revenue Regulations 8-2009 to ensure that the purchases of goods and services for the campaign and election expenditures of the candidates, including their supporters’ contributions, will be subject to 5 percent withholding tax.

Quito added that the bureau will carry out tax mapping operations, to warn and apprehend tax evaders and cheats, enhance voluntary compliance through dialogues and appeals to taxpayers, RVAT to top taxpayers, monitoring of private withholding agents, and projects of LGUs, NGAs and GOCCs.

He said that BIR will also intensify enforcement measures through the conduct of quality audit, surveillance/stocktaking/ machine reading of CRM/POS machines and gasoline meters.

Meanwhile, the local business stakeholders, including Camarines Norte Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Doming Tan, Camarines Norte Bankers Association President Ranulfo Baloro, PICPA President Madelon Lee, local tax payers and members of the print and broadcast media assured their support to the BIR tax campaign. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte).


LEGAZPI CITY (MARCH 26) — The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corporation formally launched the sale process for the 150-megawatt (MW) BacMan geothermal power plant package located in the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon with the publication of the Invitation to Bid (ITB) Friday (March 19).

The ITB has specified that the sale will include the BacMan I Geothermal Power Plant located in Manito, Albay, and the BacMan II geothermal power plants situated in Sorsogon City, Sorsogon.

The PSALM advisory has stated that prospective bidders have until today to submit a Letter of Interest, which is a prerequisite for the bidding.

It further noted that interested parties also must execute a Confidentiality Agreement and an Undertaking with PSALM, and pay a non-refundable participation fee of USD2,000.00 not later than 5 p.m. of 29 March 2010 to signify further participation. The Bidding Package will then be issued by PSALM.

The pre-bid conference for the Bicol region-based geothermal power plants will be held on April 6, 2010 to discuss the Bidding Procedures. The Bid Submission Deadline is on May 5, 2010.

The BacMan I geothermal plant consists of two 55-MW turbines, which were both commissioned in 1993. BacMan II, on the other hand, consists of two 20-MW units namely, the Cawayan located in Barangay Basud and the Botong in Osiao, Sorsogon City.

The Cawayan unit was commissioned in 1994 and the Botong unit in 1998.

The Philippine National Oil Company-Energy Development Corporation supplies the steam fueling the BacMan geothermal power plants. (MALoterte, PIA V)


MANILA — President Arroyo’s directive on the strict implementation of an improved set of biosecurity and quarantine protocols on imported goods will help the government strengthen its efforts in shielding Philippine agriculture from pests and diseases as well as other environmental and human threats, according to officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

DA Secretary Bernie Fondevilla said President Arroyo issued the directive during a recent Cabinet meeting to help the agriculture sector meet the challenges of a new global trading order, which calls for, among others, drastic cuts in tariffs on farm goods traded between and among countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) starting this year.

Besides the Philippines , the Asean groups Indonesia , Malaysia , Brunei Darussalam, Thailand , Singapore , Vietnam , Myanmar , Laos and Cambodia . They also comprise the economies under the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA).

“In line with the efforts of the Department to strengthen our quarantine and inspection measures on agriculture and fishery products entering our borders, the effectivity of the President’s directive will efficiently protect the country from the entry of agricultural and fishery pests and diseases as well as other human and environmental threats,” Fondevilla said. “This is as well, more cost effective and brings about the immediate disposal of problematic goods supposed to enter the country.”

Fondevilla said closer coordination between the DA and the Bureau of Customs in implementing the government’s improved quarantine and biosecurity protocols will not only help safeguard the welfare of Filipino farmers but consumers as well.

Such an effort was initiated, he said, on the watch of his immediate predecessor, then-Secretary Arthur Yap .

Last year, the DA issued a “harmonized” administrative order—AO No. 8—to standardize the business processes of DA regulatory agencies in approving the entry of imported goods.

This harmonized AO orders all agencies and bureaus issuing Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) clearances, formerly known as import permits to use a single or uniform form for application, clearance, inspection, and confiscation; and ensures that all import-related business processes will follow a unified procedure.

The harmonized AO was crafted based on the following objectives:

 to formulate a consistent and adequate legal administrative policy framework for SPS regulations to be effective and supportive of business;

 to develop transparent, firm-neutral, and simplified processes for enforcing SPS measures effectively; and

 to institutionalize effective and sustainable organizational, technical, and funding arrangements for SPS enforcement.

Besides issuing this order, the DA has also worked to automate applications and issuances of SPS Import Clearances, through the Bureaus of Plant Industry (BPI), of Animal Industry (BAI), and of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Under this automated procedure, the issuance of veterinary, plant and fisheries import permits will be faster through processing via an Internet-based program.

The new system will use the standardized forms prescribed in the harmonized AO and will reduce the clearance process cycle time by allowing importers to prepare and submit their applications 24/7 online and allowing as well their subsequent online validation and approval by the concerned agency.

Before leaving the DA early this month, Yap had said the Department’s regulatory agencies will play a critical role in safeguarding the farm sector from pests and diseases, and consumers from unsafe food items, once new tariff cuts take place starting this year under AFTA.

The full implementation of the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme in AFTA at the start of 2010, was agreed upon in a series of Asean meetings that started way back in 1992 as a prelude to the proposed creation in 2015 of a single market with a common production base and free flow of goods in the region.

The Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) signed the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), which consolidated and streamlined all CEPT agreements, in February last year. President Arroyo ratified ATIGA six months later and issued an executive order lifting by January 1, 2010 all customs duties on selected products coming in from, or being shipped to, other Asean member-countries. (DA/PIA)

No need for PGMA to issue written assurance on support for clean May polls – Palace

MANILA (March 26) — Malacanang said today there is no need for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to issue a document manifesting her support for honest, orderly and peaceful elections (HOPE) this May so she can formally assure transition to a new government on June 30.

"President Arroyo need not do that," Presidential Spokesperson Ricardo Saludo said in reaction to the reported call of former President Fidel V. Ramos, urging Mrs. Arroyo "to lead by example and issue a written order declaring her support for HOPE."

Secretary Saludo noted that the 1987 Constitution already covers provisions on transfer of power from one administration to another so it is unnecessary for President Arroyo to issue the document Ramos is clamoring for.

"The Constitution is there -- it's the only document needed to effect such transition," Saludo stressed.

Reports said Ramos made the call before departing for Taiwan yesterday to end speculations that the Palace targets crushing HOPE to bring forth failure of elections in May so President Arroyo can continue ruling the country.

Malacañang continues denying such speculations.

Presidential election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said there can be no poll failure this year as people will still cast their votes using paper ballots which can be counted manually if government's poll automation machines and supporting infrastructure break down.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairperson Jose Melo agrees, noting isolated cases of terrorism and other untoward incidents will cause poll failure in some precincts but such would not affect overall results of the elections.

To minimize the possibility of occurrences of untoward incidents, Saludo said President Arroyo ordered the police and military to help ensure peace and order before, during and after the May 10 polls.

"We're striving to ensure the elections will be successful," he said.

Citing Comelec's assessment, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar also said failure of elections this year is a statistical improbability.

Comelec attributed this assessment to the very unlikely scenario that all poll automation machines and supporting infrastructure nationwide will break down simultaneously amidst brownouts, he noted.

"The confluence of such events is so unique it defies all odds," Olivar said.

Malacanang is perplexed about Ramos' latest call for President Arroyo on the issuance of a written order declaring her support for honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

Saludo recalled Ramos himself did not formally seal during his final weeks in office his commitment to HOPE and to relinquishing the nation's top post to the next president.

"He didn't issue a written order saying he'll step down," Saludo noted.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Charito Planas earlier said President Arroyo's ongoing moves for turning over government projects to the next administration reflects her intention to relinquish her post on June 30, this year.

"Its proof she'll step down from power then," Planas said.

She noted President Arroyo is traveling around the country and checking on her administration's projects to ensure these are either completed in time for the turnover or progressing as scheduled. (PIA V Release)

Local campaign period starts Friday

MANILA, (March 26) — The 45-day campaign period for candidates running for the local positions in the May 10 polls starts on today.

With this, Commission on Election (Comelec) Commissioner Rene Sarmiento urged the local aspirants to follow election laws so as to prevent the filing of election-related charges against them.

“We have come up with resolutions regarding campaign guidelines, we advised them to read these so that they will know what to avoid so that they will not be facing any complaints,” he said.

Local positions that are up for grabs in the scheduled polls are: 222 seats for the House of Representatives; 80 each for governors and vice governors; 762 provincial board members; 120 each for city mayors and vice mayors; 1,514 each for municipal mayors and vice mayors; 1,346 for city councilors; and 12,116 for municipal councilors.

Sarmiento added that the Comelec will continue to monitor if candidates are following the laws on TV advertisements and the posting of streamers and posters.

Meanwhile, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said that candidates running for local positions are mostly the violators on common poster areas and streamer sizes.

Under the law, the size of posters should only be two feet by three feet while streamers should be three feet by eight feet.

"The common poster rule, as simple as it may seem, is the law. If they violate it, then all they do is showing contempt for the law," Jimenez said.

The Comelec has designated common posters areas, where candidates should post their streamers and other campaign materials.

The poster areas are located in plazas, markets and areas being frequented by the public.

On the other hand, Sarmiento said they expect election-related violence to increase with the start of the campaign period for the local polls.

The poll body official called on the Philippine National Police to be serious in eliminating private armed groups.

Jimenez noted, "Ever since, the violence comes from the local elections. People are more hot headed in the local politics." (PIA V Release)

Gov't sees better 2010 for RP economy despite risks - Santos

Manila (26 March) — The government is optimistic that 2010 will improve as part of a global rebound as early signs show.

"There is a global economic rebound this year and there are good signs coming. Exports are rebounding although we have El Niño. Also, inflation is moderate," said Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Acting Director-General Augusto B. Santos at the Philippine Economic Briefing on March 22, 2010 at the Marriott Hotel, Cebu City.

He added that the government is still maintaining its macroeconomic targets. "There may be a reduction in our agricultural output, but there will definitely be gains in other sectors," he said.

The Development and Budget Coordinating Committee's (DBCC) 2010 target for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 2.6-3.6 percent while for Gross National Product (GNP), 4.7-5.6 percent.

In his presentation to business and economic leaders in Cebu, Santos said that attaining the full-year 2009 DBCC's growth rates for GDP and GNP is already an encouraging development for the country.

"This positive performance should be taken as an opportunity to further bring the Philippine economy to a higher level of growth in 2010 and beyond," the NEDA official said.

However, while the government is upbeat for 2010, Santos said that they are also mindful of the risks that can affect macroeconomic stability. These include global economic conditions, crude oil prices, exchange rates, natural calamities, and narrowing sources of investment.

"We are aware that the world recovery remains fragile. Crude oil prices have been rising in the world market, ever since green shoots began appearing last year. That in turn may put some pressure on consumer prices, backed up by utility rate hikes," he said.

The US dollar, Santos said, is still uncertain but more volatility is expected this year compared to 2009. "Aware of these risks however, the government is committed to implement the appropriate policies that will provide the right environment for our key growth drivers," he said.

These drivers include outsourcing, finance, mining and quarrying, public construction, government services and medical tourism.

Moreover, Santos said that the government will continue to build on its strategic pillars in order to provide a stronger foundation for future growth and development.

The government stands firm in providing a clear framework for economic stability. This entails a sustainable fiscal position and macroeconomic policies that lead to prolonged high growth, more domestic employment, and lesser inequality.

"We must address the country's problems in bottlenecks to competitiveness, particularly corruption and still-inadequate infrastructure," stressed Santos.

He added that the government is committed to accelerating public investments in infrastructure. The World Bank in its publication "Philippines: Meeting Infrastructure Challenges" earlier gauged that the country needs to spend at least five percent of its GDP annually on infrastructure.

Santos noted that this is clearly defined in the Philippines' Comprehensive and Integrated Infrastructure Program (CIIP). "Average spending per year under the CIIP is more than that five-percent threshold," he said.

Santos also said that the main challenge for this year is for the next administration to sustain the rebound that the country is experiencing and curtail the ballooning budget deficit.

"The challenge is to continue to boost this economic growth, to pump prime the economy, particularly with infrastructure spending. NEDA has been saying, time and again, that we have to continue our stimulus policies," he said. (PIA V Release)

Thursday, March 25, 2010


SORSOGON PROVINCE (March 24) — For more than three years now, shellfish enthusiasts famished from consumption of different kind of shellfish particularly of green mussel (locally known as tahong) harvested from Sorsogon Bay, but has now a reason to party following result that the bay is finally free from the deadly red tide toxin.

Latest laboratory results of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Local Government Units (LGUs) in its Shellfish Bulletin No. 06 dated March 17, 2010, says shellfish collected at Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon City, this province, is now free from the toxic red tide.

Gil A. Adora, officer-in-charge of BFAR laboratory in Diliman Quezon City said that with the negative results obtained from the water and shellfish meat samples at Mandaon and Milagros waters in Masbate, Juag Lagoon in Matnog, Sorsogon, which was declared negative of harmful algal bloom or red tide in February this year, and now, Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon City, coastal waters of Bicol region is generally safe from the noxious red tide toxin.

He, however, despite of the declaration, reminded the public to remain on guard advising them to buy only fresh marine products and wash (them) thoroughly, removing internal organs before cooking.

“Particularly that the country is currently suffering from El Niño phenomenon, there is a high possibility of re-occurrence of harmful algal bloom or red tide to previously contaminated coastal waters, so the public has to take necessary precautions and be kept updated of the latest results of BFAR’s regular monitoring activities,” he added.

Significantly, coastal waters in some 19 provinces in the country are free from said toxin. However, shellfish collected at Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur; Bislig Bay in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur and Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental are still positive for paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond the regulatory limit.

“Furthermore, Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar is now positive for red tide toxin,” says BFAR Bulletin.

Meanwhile, with the lifting of shellfish ban in Sorsogon Bay, locals here expect a remarkable recovery of shellfish industry which was hurt for quite a long time now displacing thousands of populace dependent on the industry and impairing economic growth of five towns surrounding Sorsogon Bay. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur (March 24) – Newly installed Army Chief, Lieutenant General Reynaldo Mapagu has visited Thursday (March 18) 9th Infantry Division headquarters of the Philippine Army and led the awarding of medals for the heroic fete of soldiers.

Major Harold M Cabunoc, 9ID spokesman, said that 16 soldiers who scored against NPA rebels in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Catanduanes were conferred of the medals for bravery.

Among the awardees is Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Basco, commander of the 83rd Infantry Battalion, who confiscated eight high powered firearms in two separate encounters this year.

Basco’s unit also confiscated over 600 color-coded permit-to-campaign cards distributed by NPA extortionists in the island province of Catanduanes. For his heroic feat, Basco awarded the Bronze Cross Medal.

Major General Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the 9ID, averred that the internal security operations (ISO) campaign of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is gaining more grounds in Bicol Region following the successful campaigns against insurgents in the area, said.

“As of today, we have recovered 34 high-powered firearms and 16 low powered firearms,” he noted.

Enemy strength is significantly reduced with the killing of four NPA rebels and the capture of two others. As of December 2009, the NPA strength was reduced by 120 from its original strength of 520 in CY 2008.

9ID is the first field unit visited by General Mapagu after his assumption of command on March 12, 2010. As part of his visit, he also led the inauguration of the Army Store which will cater the issuance of combat uniforms and other supplies for the operating troops.

Bicol Region is one of the national priority areas in the AFP’s ISO campaign nationwide. (Maj. HMCabunoc, PAO 9ID PA/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY (March 24) — At least 300 examinees around the region will take the first batch of Career Service Examination – Paper and Pencil Test (CSE-PPT) this year for the Professional and Sub-Professional levels on April 25.

Buddy Villaroza, Civil Service Commission (CSC) Assistant Regional Director, said the examination will be held in different testing centers.

He said here the venue of the exam is in Divine Word College, Divine Word High School Department, Marines Polytechnic College Foundation and in Pag-Asa National High School; while in Camarines Sur will be held in Camarines Sur National High School.

“The examinees should familiarize the place they will be assigned to take the exam, current events, and should have basic in Mathematics,” Villaroza said.

He said that examinees should not concentrate on difficult question when taking the exam because he is allowed to go back if there is time.

“To pass the test, the examinees should get a rating of at least 80%,” Cecilia Nieto, CSC Bicol regional director, said.

Meanwhile, start of filing of application form for the second examination will be on October 10. The date of the exam is scheduled on November 15. (JORegulacin, BUCAL/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY (March 24) – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) here is fast tracking the completion and expected to open this year of its new office building along Rizal St. in Albay District, this city to have a bigger Economic and Financial Learning Center (EFLC), an official of the agency reported.

Marlyn Paje, BSP Bicol acting deputy director, said that the construction of the new building is financed by the central office with P270 million and is expected to be done this March if there will be no problem or conflict that will disrupt the construction works.

She added that once everything is done, BSP will have a bigger building that will cater to its clientele.

Paje pointed out that once it is opened, BSP will admit students and interested groups and individuals who are willing to tour EFLC and be familiar more about the pillars of central banking, and BSP itself.

The public economic and financial information of BSP can be found in EFLC. Moreover, it contains of mini-museum, library, interactive section and conference rooms.

According to her, aside from the learning center, BSP’s new office will also have larger cash operations division, administration division, security section, and financial service section.
(GARosales, BUCAL/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY (March 24) – To help enhance voters’ awareness in the electoral process, the Bicol University (BU) Graduate School of Public Administration (PA), in coordination with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) here and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), conducted over the weekend a voters’ education in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, Albay

Alobo is one of the adopted barangays and pilot area of BU.

Spearheaded by students of the College of Business, Economics and Management and PA Graduate students, led by its Professor Dr. Rosemarie Frias, the campaign program was held at the Immaculate Conception Chapel, Barangay Alobo, Daraga Albay.

The campaign aims to inform voters in the first poll automation in the country and ultimately encourage them to exercise their right to suffrage.

It was followed by a forum on values formation with speakers Atty Jasmin Cecilia Banzuela, COMELEC officer, Legazpi City, Mr. Norly P. Reyes, College of Law, Bicol College and Brigadier General Marlou Salazar AFP, Commander 901st Infantry Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, Philippine Army.

Topics on what the voters will do during the election day, familiarization on how to fill up ballots, voters profile, clustered precincts were the highlights of the voters’ information drive. The AFP, on the other hand, explained on its role in maintaining peace and order, especially in the upcoming elections.

The whole-day event was attended by 58 participants, including barangay officials, headed by Bgy Chairman Dexter Marmol, Philippine Army troops in the area, residents of Bgy Alobo, Daraga, Kusog, Kontra, Komunismo (KKK), a non-government organization against insurgency and other local media practitioners. (Capt. ALSaturnino, PA/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY (March 24) – In quest for clean and peaceful national and local elections, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), together with other government and private organizations in Bicol has joined in a Walk for Hope in Camarines Norte last March 20, 2010.

Dubbed as “Lakad sa Pagkakaisa Para sa Halalan 2010” (A Walk towards Unity in the 2010 Elections), at least 300 participants from the council of the laity, COMELEC V, LGU Daet, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), TAU GAMMA , KAAGAPAY, Kabalikat CIVICOM, PNP Cam Norte and other religious and student groups marched from Plaza Mall, Camarines Norte to Gov. Panotes Avenue, Daet, with their aim to uphold agreement among local candidates in the said province.

Led by Colonel Danilo Torralba (GSC) PA, Commander of the 902nd Infantry Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, the activity was part of the AFP’s pursuit of Honest Orderly and Peaceful Elections (HOPE), as they beef-up on national security for the first poll automation in the country, which will be on May 10, 2010. (Capt. ALSaturnino, PA/PIA)


MANILA (March 24) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has put in place measures to ensure that the meat, milk , eggs and fish intended for human consumption are free from the presence of residues of banned veterinary drugs, antibiotics, and other restricted drugs which may cause hazardous effects to humans that may lead to cancer, allergies, anaphylactic shock, drug resistance, cardiac symptoms, difficulty in breathing and other commulative effects.

In the interest of the services and to further promote public health through food safety, the Philippines has streghthened its Veterinary Drug Residues Control Program through the DA Administrative Order (AO) No. 14 series of 2006: Implementation of the National Veterinary Drug Residues Control Program and Creation of the Inter-Agency Committee.

In a report to DA Secretary Bernie Fondevilla, Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Davinio Catbagan said DA-A.O. No. 24 Series of 2009: The Implementing Guidelines on the National Drug Residues Control Program in Foods Pursuant to A.O. No. 24 Series of 2006 has been approved by Secretary Arthur C. Yap on the 3rdday of November, 2009. The program is currently implemented by the BAI, National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and the National Dairy Authority (NDA). These said DA agencies are now continuously enforcing their respective strenghtened activities on drug residue control program.

There are Administrative Orders issued by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health on the banning of the following Veterinary Drugs. To wit;


DA-A.O. No 60 Series of 1990 and DOH A.O No. 91 Series of 1990
Declaring a Ban on the Use of Chloramphenicol in Food Producing Animals
April 30, 1990

DA-AO No. 1 Series of 2000 and DOH-AO No. 4-A, series of 2000
Banning and withdrawal of Olaquindox and Carbadox from the Market
January 11, 2000

Joint Administrative Order of DA-DOH No. 2 Series of 2000
Declaring a ban / Phase-Out of the use of Nitrofurans in Food-Producing Animals
August 17, 2000

DA-AO No. 14 Series of 2003
Ban on the Use in Food Animals of Beta-Agonist Drugs in Human as Bronchodilators and Tocolytics and Tocolytic Agents
May 12, 2003

BAI continuously undertakes the monitoring and surveillance of animal feeds and veterinary drugs and products among the manufacturers, importers, distributors, and outlets for the presence of banned veterinary drugs and compliance to the Republic Act (RA) 1556 otherwise known as the “Livestock and poultry Feeds Act”, and the RA 3720 (Foods, Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics Act), RA 6675 (Generics Act of 1988) and other relevant laws.

It had collected feed samples for laboratory analysis from the accredited piggery farms in Mindanao for export purposes and the results of which were found to be negative of banned veterinary drugs.

The safety and quality of food is a matter of concern for everyone and everywhere. The responsibility for drug residue control and prevention cannot lie solely within the government agency, rather the responsibility must be shared by the government, producers, veterinarians, teachers, academicians, marketing associations and all of us who must strive to produce both healthy and drug residue-free animals to have healthy animals and safe food for everyone. (DA-BAI/PIA)


MANILA (March 24) — Newly appointed Secretary Bernie Fondevilla of the Department of Agriculture has assured the hog industry that the DA will continue the programs initiated by his predecessor to help the sector sustain its rebound last year, including the implementation of big-ticket projects like a modern slaughterhouse and an egg processing center.

Fondevilla said that just like former DA Secretary Arthur Yap, the country’s hog raisers can count on their open line of communication to him to urgently address pressing concerns that could plague the industry.

“We would like to assure our hog raisers that the programs that our Secretary Yap has started will continue to be pursued,” Fondevilla said at the recent 19th National Convention of Hog Raisers held in Tagaytay City. “Among the projects lined up are the constructions of a Triple A slaughterhouse in Marulas and an egg processing plant.”

Fondevilla was referring to the modern slaughterhouse that the DA will help build BAI compound in Marulas, Valenzuela 50 heads per hour capacity and the 900 square-meter (floor area) egg processing center in San Jose, Batangas that will be operated by the private sector.

Also present at the Tagaytay event were Yap , Bureau of Animal Industry Director Davinio Catbagan, and other BAI officials.

On Catbagan’s watch, total livestock and poultry industry sub-sector has consistently contributed 26%-28% to the whole agriculture output production increased by 1.49% in 2009 compared to 2008, which is no mean feat given the bureau’s tasks in keeping the Philippines free of the dreaded avian influenza (AI) or bird flu virus, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and other threats to the animal industry.

In 2009, livestock production increased by 1.20% while poultry output increased by 1.82%. For broiler production, supply is projected to be higher that the demand in the first semester of 2010.

BAI also efficiently marshaled its resources to prevail over the huge difficulties of two El Niño episodes; the series of powerful tropical cyclones; and the reemergence of diseases such as the Ebola Reston Virus.

It has successfully kept the Philippines bird flu-free, which has allowed the Philippines to export poultry meat and poultry products to Japan, Hong Kong and the Middle East; as well as breeder chicks to Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Nepal and the Middle East.

The BAI also maintained the internationally recognized freedom of Mindanao, Visayas, Palawan and Masbate from the FMD since 2001 and 2002 respectively, and the looming declaration of Luzon recorded a zero incidence from FMD for the last 51 months by the Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE) or World Organization for Animal Health, which will add to the country’s attractiveness as a reliable source of high-quality livestock products, notably for the global Halal market that the DA is trying to develop.

It was also able to:

1) eliminate non-effective imported drugs and biologics from the local market through field-testing and validation;

2) develop technologies on the production of local diagnostic antigens as alternative to expensive imported antigens;

3) implement a successful disease monitoring and surveillance system resulting in the non-entry of exotic animal diseases into the country;

4) develop and standardize practical diagnostic tests and protocols for the prompt and accurate diagnosis of disease outbreaks;

5) formulate and validate several cost effective control measures against several parasitic disease problems; and

6) transfer diagnostic technologies to upgrade the capabilities of the DA-Regional Diagnostic Laboratories. (DA/PIA)


MANILA (March 24) — The Independent Commission Against Private Armies (ICAPA), the Presidential body created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to look into the existence of partisan armed groups in the country, has directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police(PNP) to step up efforts to dismantle these groups to ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections in May.

The directives were contained in two resolutions the ICAPA forwarded to the AFP and PNP through their representatives in simple ceremonies held Wednesday (March 24) at the Conference Room of the Mabini Hall in Malacañang .

ICAPA Chair Monina Zenarosa, retired associate justice of the Court of Appeals, presented ICAPA Resolutions No. 001-10 and 002-10 to Colonel Ricardo Nepomuceno of the Operations Division of the AFP and Chief Superintendent Cipriano Querol, Jr., Executive Officer of the Directorate for Police Community Relations of the PNP.

“Today I am pleased to announce that the Commission after thorough deliberations, interviews, consultative meetings with politicians and other stakeholders have come up with these two resolutions, ” Zenarosa said.

Under Resolution No. 001-10, the ICAPA strongly urged the AFP to conduct an inventory of firearms and ammunition issued to Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and to monitor CAFGU and Special Civilian Active Auxiliaries personnel to detect the possibility of them getting involved in election-related violence.

The Commission asked the AFP to report on the matter to the Commission within 10 days.
The Commission also directed the AFP to beef up troop presence in identified security-risk areas, such as Lanao del Sur and Masbate, and to set up more checkpoints in the coastal areas of the two provinces, amid reports of unregulated firearm shipments.

The commission also requested the beefing up of military and police checkpoints in Abra, particularly in the far-flung towns of Tineg and Malibcong, to ensure strict compliance with the gun ban to deter not only political groups but armed insurgents from disrupting the election process.

In the other resolution (No. 002-10), the ICAPA also directed the PNP to conduct a physical inventory of firearms issued to Provincial Jail Guards, Provincial Security Forces, Civilian Volunteer Organizations, police auxiliary units and/or Barangay tanods and to submit a report to the Commission within 10 days.

Part of the directive was for the PNP to regulate the unauthorized use of police and military uniforms and vehicles and to cause the arrest of civilians and unauthorized personnel in violation of such.

The ICAPA was created by President Arroyo’s Administrative Order No. 275 issued by on December 8, 2009. The AO gave further directions to PNP and AFP with an additional impetus in dismantling partisan private armies in the country.

President Arroyo created the commission in the aftermath of the Nov. 23 massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao that has involved the Ampatuan clan and its private army.

Aside from Zenarosa, other ICAPA members are Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, Mahmod Mala Adilao of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, retired Police Deputy Director General Virtus Gil, broadcaster Herman Basbaño, Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and former AFP Lieutenant General Edilberto Adan. (PIA V Release)


MANILA (March 24) — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be the keynote speaker Thursday (March 25) during the joint 4th Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Ministers Responsible for Culture and Arts (AMCA) and the 7th Senior Officials Meeting for Culture and Arts (SOMCA) to be held in Clark Education City in Pampanga.

The Philippines has been designated the cultural capital for 2010 and 2011 by the 10 member-countries of Asean.

Patterned after the European Capital of Culture program started in 1985, the designation of the Philippines as Asean’s designated cultural capital enables the country to showcase not only its cultural life and development over the next two years but also to help use culture as a key element in the development of the country.

Singapore will be the next Asean culture capital for 2012 and 2013.

Along with the official meetings this week in Clark, the Philippines will also host the 4th Asean Festival of Arts (AFA), which aims to promote Asean’s common identity and cultural diversity.

The successful projection of the Philippines in the Asean culturescape was made possible through the National Commission for Arts and Culture (NCCA) headed by Executive Director Cecile Guidote-alvarez.

“It is also in conjunction with the twin observance of International Women and World Theatre Month coordinated through the UNESCO-ITI.

This is institutionalized under Presidential Proclamation No. 1262 by President Arroyo to showcase the vigor of Philippine theatre as a meeting ground of all the arts dynamically applied to promote a culture of peace, social justice and sustainable development as well as a radar screen to demonstrate our wealth of heritage, history, habitat and indigenous traditions,” remarked Guidote-Alvarez, the 1972 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for public service through the arts. (PIA V Release)


MANILA (March 24) — The Arroyo administration has so far provided gainful employment to 436,322 Filipino workers under three emergency programs created to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis on the people.

The figure represented 88.43 percent of the targeted 493,388 people to be given jobs under the government’s Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) created under Memorandum Circular 168.

In its latest accomplishment report to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) said P10.32 billion, or 75.12 percent of the P13.74 billion allocation have been spent for the three CLEEP employment programs as of last March 12.

Contributory factors to CLEEP’s success are the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 782 by the President last year which enjoined government agencies to institute measures to assist workers affected by the global financial crisis and temporary filling up of vacant government positions, as well as EO No. 783 which provided for government interventions “to save and create jobs” as part of the Economic Resiliency Plan.

“In crisis situations, government intervention to extend relief and comfort to the people, particularly those most vulnerable to hostile economic forces, can never be overemphasized,” Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. said.

At least 32,410 workers landed jobs, courtesy of the two EOs, NAPC Secretary and lead convenor Domingo Panganiban reported to President Arroyo.

On the other hand, the Youth National Service program created by EO 788 has recruited a total of 16,546 persons, aged 18 to 24, to undertake a two-year national service commitment with modest stipends through the National Service Corps or the Youth Conservation Corps.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) turned out to be the biggest achiever in this department with 5,293 recruits, about 4,000 of them coming from Metro Manila; followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with 4,495; the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DNR) with 4,390; and the Department of Social Welfare an Development (DSWD) with 850.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) accounted for 1,498, while the Department of Education (DepEd) reported only 20 recruits.

Icban said the three major job generation programs instituted by the President “were extremely relevant considering the fact that not a few multinationals in the country collapsed under the sheer pressure of the global economic meltdown.” (PIA V Release)


MANILA (March 24) — Deputy Presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar issued today the following statements in reaction to the reported warning by Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Aquino III during a campaign sortie in Pangasinan about another people power if the May elections failed:

“It seems that Sen. Aquino has finally answered our question yesterday WHY the opposition keeps trying to scare our people with all talk about election failure.

Many of his (Sen. Aquino’s) leaders appear to have developed an unfortunate addiction to EDSA adventurism.

It’s no longer people power we’re talking about here.

It’s nothing but a naked threat of power grab in case the voters turn them down at the polls.

Unluckily for them, our people have grown tired of unconstitutional shortcuts no matter how well-intentioned.

And our uniformed services will not look kindly on any new challenge to the chain of command and the laws of the land.” (PIA V Release)

Friday, March 19, 2010

NBN TV8 LEGAZPI SIGNING IN... Rolando G. Reyes, Chairman/President of the National Broadcasting Network delivers his messsage during the launching ceremony of NBN TV8-Legazpi held at Southroad Bar Hall, Pepperland Hotel, Airport Road, Legazpi City, last Thursday (March 18). Other photo shows (from right to left) NBN General Manager Mr. Jose S. Isabelo, NBN TV8 Legazpi President/CEO Mrs. Teresaita S. Oringo, 2nd District Congressman Representrative James Calisin and PIA Regional Director Eduardo A. de Leon. (Alex Cal/PIA)

Thursday, March 18, 2010


SAN VICENTE, Camarines Norte (March 17) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo underscored the importance of education among the youth, who, she said “serves as the bridge from our past to our future.”

In a speech before students, teachers, and officials of the Froilan D. Lopez Technical and Vocational High School here Monday morning (March 15), the President pointed out that education is the foundation of opportunities and the key to a better life.

“Kayong mga kabataan ang kumakatawan sa mga pangarap ng ating bansa. Sa inyo natin iniaalay ang lahat ng ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan upang maiangat ang Pilipinas. (The youth represents the country’s future that is why we are investing in them to uplift the nation),” she said.

In this connection, the President spelled out her administration’s three-pronged development objectives anchored on the following:
• to spur regional development by enhancing empowerment in each region;
• to continue and develop further the 3 Es of the administration’s governance thrust: Education, Economy and the Environment to ensure sustainable and equitable development in the areas; and
• to focus on the youth and assure their welfare and development through education into molding them as the next generation of leaders for the country’s better and brighter future.
The President said that while the country has accomplished much in the field of education and technology, a lot still needs to be done to achieve her goals.

She noted that she created the Presidential Task Force on Education headed by Fr. Bienvenido Nebres primarily to review the country’s educational system.

In conclusion, the President expressed hope that the youth of today will come into their own, give priority to education and modernity and use it as a tool for the development of the country.

The Chief Executive was welcomed here by Camarines Norte Gov. Jesus Typoco. San Vicente Mayor Joseph Stanley Alegre and DepEd officials led by Regional Director Celedonio Layon Jr.

Before delivering her speech, the President toured the school’s training and demonstration classrooms, computer literacy laboratory, garments technology and dressmaking class, food trades technology, the school’s ICT building for the PC Hardware servicing course, computer internet lab and the electricity training shop.

According to Alegre, the President’s visit to this fifth class town of 8,000 residents “is only the second by a Philippine President in almost 60 years since President Ramon Magsaysay.

San Vicente is the smallest municipality with nine barangays in the Bicol Region’s northernmost province of Camarines Norte. (PIA V Release)


DAET, Camarines Norte (March 17) — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was elated with the information and communication facilities and internet connections now available at Froilan D. Lopez Technical and Vocational High School (FDLTVHS) in San Vicente town, Camarines Norte benefitting thousands of students and school personnel.

The President inspected the ICT lab, established under the Department Education (DepEd) Computer Literacy Program (CLP) and one of her administration’s flagship programs for education.

FDLTVHS has 40 computers with internet connections at present..

In her statement, President Arroyo said that there are a lot more to do for the future of the next generation where the youth served as hope and inspiration of the government thus will continue to pursue programs and projects that will ensure their better and brighter future.

She explained that as country we have to focus on our future, to do what is good and to work hard in order to face challenges.

She said that youth is the bridge of the past and future because they represent the dream of our country where government offered all efforts to uplift the country.

“Edukasyon ang pundasyon ng oportunidad. Ito ang susi sa mas maginhawang buhay. Binubuksan nito ang isipan at pintuan nga pag-unlad. At mundo ngayon, ang malakas na edukasyon ay dapat sinasamahan ng malakas na backbone ng tekonolohiya.” She said.

The President stressed that she has allocated some P2 billion for the training of teachers in English, Math or Science wherein 750 teachers in Camarines Norte will be given similar trainings this coming summer months.

She also cited that under her administration, the salaries of teachers were increased from P9,000 for Teacher I to more than P14,000 and another increase is will soon be implemented as part of Salary Standardization Law (SSL) together with other government employees.

She also said that she organized a Presidential Task Force on Education to review the system in Philippine education.

“Nawa’y kayong mga kasalukuyang kabataan will come into your own, pahalagahan ang edukasyon at modernity, at gamitin itong mga sandata para sa ikinabubuti ninyong sarili at bansa” she added.

San Vicente Mayor Joseph Stanley Alegre meanwhile said that the visit of President Arroyo in this town is only the second by a Philippine President after 53 years, since President Ramon Magsaysay.

He was thankful that the town, though a small one, was given priority of the President for her visit.

Other national and local government officials present were Camarines Norte Governor Jesus O. Typoco Jr., Congresswoman Liwayway Vinzons Chato, Daet Mayor Tito Sarion, DepEd USec. Vilma Salvador, Bicol Regional Director Celedonio Layon Jr. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay (March 17) —The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol has urged all local government units (LGUs) in the region to conduct Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIAs) in their respective areas to avoid possible measles cases among their constituents.

Dr. Nestor F. Santiago, Jr., DOH Bicol regional director, stressed that LGUs should instruct the health workers to trace children, aged nine months to 59 months old, whom they missed vaccinating during their routine immunization schedules and have them immunized at once.

The appeal was made as a result of the measles outbreak in the municipality of Mobo and Masbate City totaling to 57.

Santiago explained that as early as the first week of February, this year, the Provincial Government of Masbate was advised to conduct outbreak response immunization after detecting clinically-confirmed cases of measles in 2010.

A team from Community Health Development (CHD) of DOH Bicol was already dispatched to assist local health authorities combat an on-going measles outbreak in identified areas in Masbate localities.

The said office has dispatched some 3,000 vials of anti-measles vaccines, Vitamin A capsules ad syringes as initial logistics assistance for the province.

Nancy Pastrana, DOH Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) coordinator, meanwhile related that SIAs will be undertaken even in those areas without cases yet.

“Health workers are advised to review the immunization status of their target clients and if necessary to do a house-to-house operation to identify those children who missed the vaccination,” she noted.

Pastrana added that children should have at least two anti-measles vaccines before they reach the age of 24 months to have a higher immunity against the disease. (AMAmador, BUCAL/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY, Albay (March 17) — All forms of wildlife hunting are prohibited in the Philippines. the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) warned.

Reiterating DENR Secretary Horacio Ramos’s advisory issued recently, Bicol Director Jocelyn Marcus Fragada has sternly warned the public that the agency does not allow hunting of wildlife in any place of the Bicol region, noting several wildlife species also abound in this part of the country.

DENR’s move to reiterate the entire Philippines being “off limits” to wildlife hunters came following reports that a US-based website www.adventures41.com offers a jungle safari on Mindoro island to kill “some native species you simply cannot hunt anywhere else in the world today.”

In its 14-day hunting package, the website offers a “guaranteed 100 per cent of killing major trophy animals” that includes some of the Philippines’ endangered animals like the Asian Sambar deer, Philippine mouse deer, saltwater crocodile, and the Philippine wart pig.

Fragada has reiterated that hunting or unauthorized collection of endangered and vulnerable species (meaning their number is nearing extinction) is a criminal offense under Republic Act 9147, otherwise known as the Philippine Wildlife Conservation Act of 2001, and carries penalties of imprisonment from two to 12 years, including fines ranging from P30,000 to P1 million.

He likewise cautioned foreigners that they may still be caught for breaking Philippine wildlife laws even if they are on their native soil citing the reported conviction of a German national, named Gunther Wenzek, last January 14 on the strength of an American law that recognizes Philippine Law on wildlife conservation ad protection.

Wenzek was arrested in 2007 by US customs officials for violation of the Lacey Act and RA 9147 which strictly prohibits the harvesting and trading of Philippine corals.

The Lacey Act, on the other hand, prohibits possession, transport or trade of wildlife species that have been illegally collected, transported or sold in violation of wildlife laws existing in their countries of origin.

Wenzek was sentended to serve three years on probation and pay a fine amounting to at least $35,000 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon for shipping into the Port of Portland, Oregon some 40 tons of corals belonging to the scientific order Scleractinia, genera Porites, Acropora, and Pocillopora, common to Philippine reefs.

The web-based hunting package cited the provinces of Palawan, Mindoro Oriental and Occidental, Romblon and Marinduque as the places where this “Philippine safari” as showcased in the www.adventures411.com were to be held, prompting DENR to urge “anybody who has knowledge of these hunting groups” to get in touch with local DENR offices either via telephone at (02) 4050323, short message service at 0917-302-9257 or email at pawb_4b@yahoo.com/ph.

Fragada cited that DENR has warned that local and foreign nationals alike are equally liable under the act even by mere publication of the activity, saying “any published or posted information in the internet or in any publication, inviting prospective tourists or individuals for action adventure in the Philippines by way of game hunting, must be treated with utmost caution as these activities may be illegal”. (DENR V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY, Albay (March 17) — The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) provincial office here has advised coconut farmers to plant bananas to mitigate and prevent the spread of coconut leaf beetle (Brontispa Longissima) in coconut plantations across the province.

Edmundo R. Bailon, officer-in-charge of the PCA Albay, said that planting bananas could help the coconut farmers.

“The agency encourages coconut farmers to plant bananas because earwigs are found in them. Earwigs are friendly insects which feed on the larva and eggs of Brontispa,” Bailon added.

PCA stopped the use of trunk injection because the people are afraid to be poisoned.

“In planting bananas, the farmers could save the Brontispa-infested coconut tree and at the same time they could also harvest and make money out of the bananas,” Bailon furthered.

As of press time, at least six municipalities in the province are affected by the coconut leaf beetle.

PCA classified the affected municipalities into slightly, moderately and severely affected.

The municipalities of Malinao, Tabaco, Polangui, Libon and Pio Duran are classified under slight with about 300-500 trees affected while Manito is classified under moderate with more or less 1,000 coconut trees infested by Brontispa.

Brontispa Longissima is an imported fest that feeds on young leaves and damages seedling and mature coconut palms. (GBLatigay, BUCAL/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte (March 17) – The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) here has recorded some 33 apprehensions of illegally cut and transported logs or lumbers from December 2009 to January 2010.

Camarines Norte PENR Officer Elpidio Orata bared that of the 33 apprehensions, 17 was recorded in December last year with 492 board feet of logs confiscated amounting to P19,680 while 16 apprehensions in January with 106.66 board feet amounting to P4,266.40.

He also cited that last year the agency confiscated some 7,903.33 board feet of logs with no case filed in court while 1,106.36 board feet confiscated logs with 3 cases filed in court.

Orata also said that in 2008 they have also confiscated some 12,486.8 board feet logs with no case filed in court while 7,390 board feet confiscated logs with 3 cases filed in court.

He added that vehicles used by the illegal loggers were in the office of the Community Environment and Nautral Resource (CENRO) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


LEGAZPI CITY, Albay (March 17) — A total of 430 Bicolano examinees passed the Career Service Examinations conducted last November 15, 2009 by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Said number comprises 23.28 per cent of the 4,555 hopefuls who took the examination in Region 5 (Bicol). Of the said figure, 348 passed the Professional while 82 passed the Sub-Professional test.

Passers of the Professional examination shall be conferred Career Service Professional Eligibility needed for appointment to professional, technical and scientific positions in government. On the other hand, those who hurdled the Sub-professional test shall be conferred the corresponding eligibility for clerical, trades, crafts and custodial service positions in government.

Eligibility is one of the four qualification standards (QS) for permanent appointment to a career service position in government. The three others are education, experience, and training.

Mr. Jules Cezar P. Garcia led the new Professional eligible with a rating of 86.46. Completing the Top Ten Passers for the Career Service Professionals are Eden R. Arcos, 86.28, Arabelle V. Morillo, 85.72, Daila R. Aragon, 85.55, Sarah Jane E. Velasco, 85.47, Catherine L. Huit, 85.36, Edrian M. Apaya, 85.33, Janine B. Martinez, 85.23, Kathryn B. Felices, 85.19, and Maria Concetta L. Claveria, 84.98.

Topping the Sub-Professional level was Margarita G. Ferreras with a rating of 90.80 followed by Bryan O. Ricafort, 90.16, Brenda C. Nicolas, 88.89, Joan Isabel Z. Morales, 87.66, Jeffrey Domingo B. Baluyot, 87.35, Kristel C. Malañana, 87.21, Ornell O. Ricafort, 86.76, Sharla Jean C. Del Agua, 86.51, Richard A. Dionela, Jr., 86.06, and Vevian V. Javier, 86.04.


CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur (March 17) — The Joint Special Task Force Masbate has arrested Wednesday (March 17) a village leader who possessed high-powered firearms inside his home, a military report said.

Lt. Col. Anthony Purugganan, commander of the 9th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, said that a team from his unit, in a joint operation with police personnel, led by P/SInsp. Dennis Balla, raided the house of Punong Barangay Geronimo Remulta of Tan-awan in Placer town, Masbate around 5:00 am that resulted to the confiscation of two (2) M16 Armalite Rifle with Serial Nrs RR207305 and RR732070 and one (1) Cal.45 Pistol with Serial Nr C02669.

Purugganan averred that a case for violation of PD 1866 as amended by RA 8294 (Illegal Possession of Firearms) and violation of COMELEC Resolution 8714 (COMELEC Gun Ban) are now being prepared for filing in court.

He noted that the raid was conducted by virtue of a Search Warrant issued by Judge Maximino Ables of Sorsogon RTC.

Remulta is the third politician to be charged with a criminal case for illegal possession of firearms in Masbate Province and the second to be arrested from the town of Placer.

On February 14, Punong Branagay Antonio De Ocampo of Daraga, also of Placer town, was collared for possessing three unlicensed high-powered firearms.

On March 12, a certain Richeliu Tamayo, village chief of Barangay Nipa in Palanas, Masbate was also arrested for keeping an unlicensed Cal .45 pistol.

Government troops had made several arrests around Masbate province in its bid to dismantle the various partisan armed groups (PAGs) who are involved in various election-related violent incidents in the area.

JSTF Masbate has already netted 11 PAGs members as of today. Seven of the suspects were alleged members of the Gerry Solasco PAGs members based in Pio V. Corpuz while the three are all incumbent village leaders. (Maj. HMCabunoc, PAO 9ID PA/PIA)

Redeem true meaning of respective faiths, PGMA challenges NAM

MANILA (March 17) — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo today challenged delegates attending a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the country to redeem the true meaning of their respective faiths to bring lasting peace and prosperity to the world.

In a speech at the Special NAM Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development at the Philippine International Convention Center, the President said the draft Manila Declaration that the delegates would adopt should contain an action plan of practical action-oriented policies culled from numerous local, regional and multilateral interfaith and intercultural dialogues.

“All great religions advocate love; hold life to be sacred; profess peace and promote understanding,” she said. “Our challenge in promoting interfaith dialogue and cooperation is to redeem the true meaning of our respective faiths if we are to bring lasting peace and prosperity to the world.”

The Philippines is hosting the special ministerial meeting originally scheduled last December but deferred when parts of the country were devastated by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

Majority of the 118 NAM member countries represented in the meeting will tackle issues such as the financial crisis, climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and other pressing global concerns.

It is the first time that NAM, an international organization of states not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc, will harness the great potentials of interfaith dialogue and cooperation to advance concerns for durable and lasting peace and sustainable development.

The President said the Philippines is honored to host the special ministerial meeting, saying the country is a living witness to the importance of intercultural and interfaith tolerance.

“The promotion of intercultural and interfaith dialogue and cooperation, rooted in tolerance, mutual understanding, trust, and respect is a primary strategy to achieve peace as well as a key element in the country’s peace process as embodied in our country’s Medium Term Development Plan,” she said.

Interfaith dialogue, according to the President, is a major contributor to peace and stability in Mindanao.

“While lasting peace has yet to be achieved, we have taken heavy political risks to broker a peace. We have reached within the affected communities to change the peace paradigm,” she explained.

Through the steady promotion of interfaith dialogue, and respect for diverse cultures, traditions and practices in Mindanao, the President said the government was able to build roads that opened up remote areas into the mainstream of economic activities and to construct irrigation systems in farmlands that used to be impenetrable to construction companies because of conflict.

“We have brought together an international consensus to aid the process from the outside. Japan, Australia, the United States, England, the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), Malaysia, and so many others now have a vested interest in peace in Mindanao,” she said.

The President pointed out the Philippines and Pakistan, with the full support of NAM member countries, have actively pursued in the United Nations (UN) the promotion of interfaith and intercultural dialogue, understanding, and cooperation for peace since 2004.

The UN General Assembly, she said, has adopted by consensus the country’s annual resolution on promoting of inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace.
“This is new proof that we are all united by our common humanity and by our common quest for peace and prosperity,” she said. (PIA V Release)

Gov’t opens door to $300M new Japanese investments

MANILA (April 17) — Government has welcomed a decision by Japanese electronic giant NIDEC to infuse US $300 million (about P13 billion) in fresh investments in the electronics industry in the Philippines, thereby expanding the firm’s current exposure in the country to about $800 million.

NIDEC’s decision was disclosed during a call Tuesday on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Malacanang by Shigenobu Nagamori, chairman and chief executive officer of NIDEC Philippines, a subsidiary of NIDEC Japan. Nagamori was accompanied during the call by new Trade and Industry Secretary Jesli Lapus and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) director-general Lilia B. De Lima.

Nagamori said the new investment will boost the production capacity of NIDEC’s four existing plants in the country engaged in the manufacture of electronics and computer parts and will provide employment to l0,000 additional Filipino workers. NIDEC‘s current exposure consists of three plants in Laguna and one in Subic.

Nagamori also informed the President NIDEC intends to set up a research and development (RD) facility, said to be a global trade strategy of the Japanese firm.

The Japanese businessman said the firm’s good relations with Philippine leaders is behind the decision to divert the firm’s investible resources to the Philippines rather than to another Asian site.

“It’s definitely too risky to invest about $1 billion were it not for the good relationships we have with your government leaders,” Nagamori said through interpreters. He said he recognizes the Philippines lags behind its neighbors in investments attraction but said “it can get bigger.”

Lapus called NIDEC’s decision a significant move by the company and a very beneficial one for the Philippines. “This is my first day in office and it’s a good buena mano,” said Lapus who took over last week at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) from Peter Favila.

Lapus said NIDEC’s officials are aware of the improved infrastructures in the country especially travel infrastructures which have cut travel time by about half. Today, visiting NIDEC officials are slated to visit Subic, using the new Subic- Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). (PIA V Release)

PGMA highlights role of science and technology in nat’l dev’t

MANILA (March 17) — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo highlighted today the leading role of science and technology (S&T) in national development, including adaptation to the impact of climate change.

The President specifically cited the invaluable role of the Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research Development (PCIERD), an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in bridging private and public sector cooperation to fuel technology-backed economic development.

The President said S&T is also crucial in adaptation to climate change, even if the Philippines is a “good world citizen” having a low carbon footprint of 1.6 tons per capita compared to the carbon footprint of many industrialized countries of six tons per capita.

“I have an unshakeable faith in science and technology as the main driver of modern-day growth and now as the main protector against the onslaught of climatic changes,” the President said.

The President was the guest of honor and speaker during PCIERD’s 28th anniversary celebration at the Hyatt Hotel in Manila this afternoon.

The President said she served as a member of PCIERD's Governing Council when she was an undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The group provided policy and management decisions on the implementation of plans and programs in the industry and energy sectors.

In her very first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) in 2001, the President said she underscored the importance of technology as a means to spur economic growth and the foundation of future economic development.

To date, the President said her administration has reformed the educational system by strengthening the teaching of mathematics and science in basic education and has reviewed policies to forge broader coordination among public and private institutions, including the increase of budget allocations especially with the implementation of the expanded value-added tax in 2007.

Included, the President said, are the investment of P3 billion for R&D technology, the opening of 100,000 DOST masteral and doctorate scholarships to 27,000 beneficiaries, the allocation of P1 billion for the establishment of the Science and Technology Complex at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, the retention of at least 100,000 teachers in Math, Science and English, and the provision of Internet connection to 5,000 public high schools in the country.

Under the 2004-2010 Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP), the President said human capital has been enhanced to develop a critical mass of engineers and scientists; increase productivity through S&T; and promote technology-based entrepreneurship.

For climate change adaptation, the President said 10 Doppler radars has been earmarked to modernize the weather reporting of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) with five radars fully operational in the next two years.

To help the environment, the President added PCIERD’s researches on energy such as on geothermal, solar and wind power are now proven to be commercially viable.

To sustain national growth, the President said she hopes the next administration will also provide the necessary support and funding to S&T and R&D, including PCIERD’s invaluable contribution in helping develop an ASEAN S&T Roadmap towards a Climate Change-Resilient ASEAN Region by 2015. (PIA V Release)