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

Friday, April 30, 2010


SORSOGON Province — The Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA) here encourages local farmers to intensify the use of Quick Turn-Around (QTA) technology pursued by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to sustain agricultural productivity in the wake of the dry spell brought about by El Niño phenomenon.

Provincial Agriculturist David Gillego said that though the province is not directly hit by the effects of El Niño and has maintained a sufficient supply of agricultural products, local farmers growing palay and corn to venture on the QTA, a high productivity program to respond with the impacts of abnormal weather.

“By this system, farmers will be able to harvest three times per year increasing rice and corn production with low irrigation requirement, lower production cost, but a higher yield in less time,” said Gillego.

Gillego added that El Niño is a recurring phenomenon to be prepared upon particularly that Sorsogon belongs to the so-called “moderately vulnerable” province to be hit by El Niño this year.

“Though we have to be thankful that our province was not sternly hit by this phenomenon, we should not stay unruffled, but instead be more prepared for the coming years to avert the situation from actually occurring,” he bared.

“Aside from El Niño, the effect of climate change is now also felt here with some agricultural areas particularly that Brgys. Abuyog and Gimaloto in Sorsogon City are already subjugated by sea water,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DA’s Regional Field Unit, continuously provide alternative agricultural strategies to help farmers adapt or cope with the abnormal weather condition.

“The Agriculture Office keeps its partnership with other government agencies like the National Irrigation Administration, Bureau of Soils and Bureau of Plant Industry through a massive conduct of trainings, orientation/briefings, techno-demo on water saving technology and other information drive to enhance the farmer’s technical competence,” he also said.

“The government is doing its best to help our farmers, what we expect in return is the all-out cooperation from our farmers,” Gillego further said. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur — At least 2,000 soldiers of the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army are expected to cast their votes during the three-day local absentee voting which started Wednesday (April 28) in various designated camps across Bicol Region, a military officer said.

Major Harold M. Cabunoc, division spokesperson, said that the soldiers are expected to avail of this rare opportunity to vote for their choice or preferred national candidates.

Soldiers from various infantry brigades started casting their votes at round 8 a.m. yesterday in a makeshift "polling center" located in designated voting center inside the camp.

“There are also several other designated polling places around Bicol where soldiers can cast their votes in the next three days, our soldiers are given the opportunity to exercise their right to vote,” said Cabunoc.

Some of the soldiers who cast their votes are first-time voters, among them 2nd Lt. Marie Christine Samson, 23, a military nurse and a registered voter of San Mateo, Rizal.

“I availed of the local absentee voting because I want to help elect my preferred presidential candidate. My father is a retired soldier so we are united in supporting our trusted candidate,” she said.

Military personnel who are detailed for election duties outside their polling registration center are covered by the local absentee voting. Under the Commission on Elections (Comelec) guidelines, local absentee voters will use manual ballots and they are only allowed to vote for national elective positions.

The local absentee voting in the 9th ID camp is being supervised by lawyer Fatima Gados, a representative from Comelec. (PIA V Release)


CAMARINES SUR Province — Magarao town in this province has won the first-ever National Zero Basura Olympics cited among the fourth to sixth class municipalities with most innovative and effective approaches managing solid waste.

Mayor Nelson Julia, along with the municipal government officials, received the award from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in an awarding ceremonies held in Malacañang Palace last April 23.

The winners represent a diverse mix of topography and fiscal standings ranging from top to the least revenue earners led by the country’s financial capital, Makati City and San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, a second class component city, both winning in the “Highly Urbanized and Component Cities” category.

Other winners include San Mateo in Isabela, a first class municipality, and the coastal town of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur, a 3rd class municipality, notching the top 2 spots in the first to third class municipalities category.

Magarao, a 4th class municipality and Bicol lone entry to the awards program, was declared as the lone winner in the fourth and sixth class municipalities category.

Environment Secretary Horacio Ramos said the winning three towns and two cities, “collectively send a strong message that geography and fiscal standing are not obstacle for local governments to find viable means in soling their solid waste management problems.”

The nationwide contests for best eco-waste management practices started in 2003 to generate greater multi-sectoral interest and partnership in addressing the solid waste management problem in the country and spur compliance by local government units to RA 9003.

Zero Basura Olympics is the upgrading of the nationwide search to municipal and city level. A total of 62 LGUs took part in the contest with 11 cities and 51 municipalities. (EMB V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY— The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol has ordered the stoppage of operation of the Artemis Salt Corporation in Tabaco City for failure to secure Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and other permits.

“Dai magpapadagos an operasyon kan Artemis Salt Corp. sagkod dai sinda nagkaka-igwa nin ECC (There’ll be no operation of Artemis Salt Corp. until they’ve secured an ECC)”, EMB V regional director Gilbert Gonzales underscored in an interview.

Gonzales emphasized that alongside the ECC application the salt plant is required to implement mitigating measures to ensure the public health and further assuage fears of a possible seepage to the ground water.

Earlier, the bureau conducted a technical conference to address the complaint against Artemis Salt Corp. wherein the management of the facility committed to stop their operation and secure business and health permits from the local government of Tabaco City and apply for an ECC.

Gonzales also assured the bureau’s continuous monitoring and evaluation of the issue to protect public health and the nearby environs.

The complaint against the company arose from protests from local residents of Barangay Cormidal due to alleged toxicity run off, seepage to ground water, corrosion, noise pollution and adverse health effects. (EMB V/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) district office here has increased their collection for the first quarter of this year to P100 million as vis-a-vis the agency’s collection target of P75 million.

Marcelino M. Quito, BIR chief here, said that the increase was attributed to the intensified tax campaigns in the municipalities, dialogues with tax payers and appeal to the tax practitioners.

Quito averred that the filing of income tax returns (ITRs) before and during the deadline last April 15, 2010 was very smooth due to the assignments of some BIR personnel in the different towns five days prior to the deadline.

He said that they also conducted briefing last April 14 for the Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants (JPIA) of the Camarines Norte State College (CNSC) that in turn assisted them during the filing of ITRs.

He also cited discussions on the Cooperative Taxation and its implementing rules and regulation during the forum conducted by the Cooperative Development Authority last April 21 held at the provincial capitol.

He added that they will focus now on the “Project Mo Iboto Mo” for candidates for the 5% withholding tax for the services and materials they used during the campaign period. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


DAET, Camarines Norte — The Provincial Veterinarian Office (ProVet) and Provincial Health Office (PHO) has jointly spearheaded series of information dissemination drives on anti-rabies program in the wake of spate of cases recorded in two municipalities recently.

Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Edgardo Gonzales said the Provincial Government of Camarines Norte has since intensified the campaign following the death of two residents due to rabies from January to March this year

He bared that among the 282 barangays in the province, two barangays namely Mabilo in Labo town and Gubat, in this capital town were found with positive cases of rabies in canine and human.

He added that some 72 dogs with rabies were already killed from January to March to avoid the spread of rabies.

On the other hand, Dr. Arnulfo Salagoste of the PHO also confirmed the fatalities from said barangays, adding that one suspected case of rabies was also reported in the town of Basud.

Provet has also been doing rounds to vaccinate dogs and warns owners to keep their pet on leash, while advising those bitten by dogs or cats to immediately consult the doctor for proper action and medication.

He cited that Rabies Awareness Month falls on March but due to the summer season and El Niño phenomenon, more dogs might be infected by rabies. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MAY 3, 2010 (MONDAY) declared of as REGULAR HOLIDAY
throughout the country (in lieu of MAY 1, Labor Day)
by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 2043


MASBATE CITY – The Special Task Force (STF) Masbate, led by PSSupt Victor P. Deona, has cored anew recovering loose firearms in its relentless effort to rid the province of Masbate of instruments of violence through its Oplan Sagip Baril

Joint elements of the task force, Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), National Police Commission (Napolcom) and local government officials have primarily employed the use of appeal and persuasion in convincing the various political leaders to voluntarily give up their illegally possessed guns and ammunitions. .

Myrna L. Guban, Napolcom Masbate provincial officer, and Governor Elisa T. Kho also helped out in the negotiations resulting to the surrender of high-powered firearms from people who were convinced by the sincerity and dedication of officers and men of the STF Masbate.

Deona cited that the measures were born out of the longing of the Masbateños, who for a very long time, lived under atmosphere of fear and violence.

Surrendered firearms totaling to 23 high powered firearms, consist of 2 M60 Light Machineguns, 1 bush master rifle (cal. 5.56), 1 Baby Armalite with M203, 6 NM16 rifles, 1 M14 rifle, 3 Sub-Machineguns (KG9), 5 cal. 45 pistols, 1 magazine for M14 rifle, 5 magazines for M16 rifle, 5 magazines for cal. 45 pistol, 4 magazines for Machine Pistol and 810 rounds for M60 machineguns were presented after the PPOC meeting.

The painstaking efforts of the Joint AFP-PNP Special Task Force Masbate in winning the trust and confidence of the Masbateños have also spawned the organization of a multi-sectoral peace advocates who are now spearheading the crusade that power does not come from the barrel of a gun.

It also emphasized that there is a superior and more civilized way to attain lasting peace and promote the development of the province through mutual trust, respect, and reverence for life.

The meeting of the PPOC here presided over by Defense Sec. Norberto Gonzales, Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali, commander of the Southern Luzon Command, Maj. General Pabustan of the 9ID, PCSupt Cecilio B. Calleja, acting regional director of PNP Bicol , Governor Kho, and different stakeholders of the province towards encouraging others not to live under the false mantle of protection and the barrel of the gun, instead abhor violence by surrendering illegally possessed firearms to the police and embrace the culture of peace. (PRO5/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY – To show that beauty and brain should complement the campaign on ecosystem conservation and protection, contestants of the Magayon Festival Bikini Open signed up for Earth Day’s 10 Million Movement last April 21, 2010.

Led by the 2010 Bikini Open winners Keshia Mae Dee and Warren Flores, the contestants committed to incorporate in their lifestyle green acts like waste minimization, energy conservation and water conservation.

Addressing hundreds of participants at the Peñaranda Park, Legazpi City, Environment Management Bureau (EMB) Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales lauded the significant increase of participants in the annual Earth Day celebration.

Gonzales said that the 10MM is part of the campaign to gather 10 million commitments for the environment from all over the country.

Under the movement, every Filipino is encouraged to commit to an environmental-friendly act, which can be as simple as turning off the lights and all electrical appliances when not in use.

He pointed out that the importance of the event is the heightening of the public awareness from all stakeholders on environmental conservation and protection.

“Magsisimula sa bawa’t isa ang patuloy na pangangalaga natin sa Kalikasan, huwag na natin antayin kung ano ang gagawin ng gobyerno para sa atin, datapwa’t bawa’t isa sa atin ay kumilos na. (Environmental conservation will begin from all of us, let us not wait for our government’s action instead each one of us should move now),” emphasized Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol..

Among Earth Day 10MM volunteers were Wilfredo Intia, City Disaster Coordinating Council chief and representative of Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal, personnel from DT, CSC, DOH, HDMF, PNP, AFP, PhilHealth, Napolcom, COA, DepEd, LGU Legazpi City, provincial government of Albay, various services of the DENR V and other stakeholders.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroo has declared April 22 as the “Philippines’ Earth Day” through Presidential Proclamation No. 1481, amending Presidential Proclamation Nos. 553 and 1276, making Earth Day a permanent environment holiday in the Philippines.

Earth Day 2010’s national theme is “Hamon ng Panahon Climate Change: 10 Milyung Solusyon (Kols Na! Ngayon Na!). (EMB V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — Member-consumers of the Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) expressed a sigh of relief after the local electric cooperative was successful in getting a bilateral agreement with Aboitiz Power Renewable’s Inc. to supply cheap electricity in the province.

ALECO has recently entered into an agreement with Aboitiz, an independent power provider (IPP), for the latter to provide the cooperative with 40 percent of its electricity requirements.
Engr. Alex Realosa, ALECO acting general manager, said he himself and ALECO Board Chair lawyer Rudolfo Bonafe signed the agreement on April 12, 2010 marking the start of a bilateral contract between the two power firms.

The contract states that Aboitiz, the firm also operating the geothermal power plant in Tiwi, Albay, would provide 40 percent of the local cooperative electricity power requirements.

“ALECO would pay Aboitiz P50 million worth of electricity supply per month,” Realosa said.
Aboitiz would be selling its power to ALECO by P4.21 per kilowatt hours compared to P65 per kilowatt hour imposed by the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

He said the agreement would be beneficial to the 150,000 member consumers of the cooperative as this would bring down its power rates unlike the very high electricity price spikes imposed by the WESM.

WESM is administered by the Philippine Electricity market Corporation (PEMC) and is presently supplying ALECO with 60 percent of the 23 million kilowatt hour electricity power requirements of the cooperative.

Realosa said he is working out for other bilateral agreements with IPPs as provided for by the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act or the EPIRA law granting cooperatives to enter into agreements with IPPs for power supply generation and distribution.

He said ALECO is presently facing a tight spot in its finances because of its total dependency for its source of electricity from WESM.

Realosa said aside from the P1.8 billion in outstanding accounts from the National Power Corporation (NPC) and Transco, the WESM through the PEMC has billed the cooperative covering January 26 to February 25 this year a staggering amount of P317 million for its electricity supplied to ALECO.

Another statement in the amount of P321 million was billed by PEMC covering the months from March to April this year.

ALECO receives from some P150 million in monthly sales revenues from 150,000 member-consumers across the 15 towns and three cities of the province.

He claimed that the WESM electricity price of P65 per kilowatt hour hit a 300-percent spike from the P7 previously priced, saying this would definitely paralyze the cooperative operation.
The price spike, once passed on to consumers, will be prejudicial to them and will eventually bear the brunt of this exorbitant and baseless billing, Realosa said.

For this reason, the ALECO has petitioned the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to arbitrate and issue a cease and desist order directing the PEMC to refrain from collecting from the cooperative the payment for its electricity bill until this case is finally decided by the commission. (MSArguelles, PNA/PIA)


SORSOGON CITY — The unity and cooperation shown by the different sectors in this province promise an honest, orderly and peaceful election comes May 10, this year, assured the police provincial official here.

Police Provincial Director P/SSupt Heriberto O. Olitoquit made this remark following the successful conduct of the National Prayer for Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Election 2010 held Wednesday (April 21) at the Camp Salvador Escudero here.

Olitoquit stressed that the successful activity led by the Philippine National Police (PNP) office here is part of the continuous effort to achieve a peaceful electoral process.

Present during the activity were the PNP Provincial Headquarters personnel, under the headship of Deputy Provincial Director Police Supt. Elmer M. Ferrera, Sorsogon Public Safety Management Company, headed by Police Chief Inspector Rogelio A. Beraquit, elements of the Philippine Army, headed by Major Christopher Morales, chiefs of police from the different police stations across the province and members of the Provincial Council of Community Elders (PCCE).

Olitoquit said that he personally invited leaders and members of various religious sects, including Catholics, Islam, Iglesia Ni Kristo and the Life Giver Church Worldwide, among all other existing spiritual groups in the province to be the forefronts in the said unified prayer.

Sorsogon City Election Officer Ryan Filgueras, meanwhile, in his thanksgiving message put across a positive view about the forthcoming election and challenged everyone saying that the success of any electoral activities lie in the unity, commonality of purpose and fortitude of each one to attain the desired goal, regardless of one’s affiliation or group. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY — The 724 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines intended for Masbate province has arrived this morning at the Masbate City port, according to a ranking police officer here.

Police Senior Supt. Eddie Benigay, PNP Masbate police director, said security measures have been tightened by the Task Force Masbate (TFM) to secure the machines that arrived at around 9 a.m. today from the port in Pilar, Sorsogon.

Benigay said the machines were loaded into two 10-wheeler trucks escorted by TFM operatives and brought to a well guarded warehouse in Masbate City.

Soon after the machines were secured in the warehouse, he added, TFM has put up checkpoints to monitor any events and development on a 24/7 basis.

At the recent Comelec Joint Consultative Conference held at Camp Simeon Ola on Friday, Comelec Regional Director Zacarias Zaragoza said over 4,000 PCOS machines are now ready for distribution to clustered precincts voting centers in various towns and cities across the six provinces of Bicol.

Zaragoza said the PCOS machines would be ready for testing on May 8 and 9 to ensure that no failure of the machine operation would happen during the May 10 elections.

He asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to make available all public school classrooms for the PCOS machine testing on the scheduled date.

The police and military were likewise directed to closely coordinate with the local Comelec and the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) concerning the guarding of the machines and the security aspects during the testing course and the actual election procedures during the May 10 election. (MSArguelles, PNA Bicol /PIA)


Sorsogon Province — Two among the six municipalities in Sorsogon, Casiguran and Irosin , launched just recently the second phase of the Agrarian Reform Community Project (ARCP) being implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) all over the Philippines.

ARCP2 is a Foreign Assisted Project (FAP) of DAR funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and OPEC Fund for International Development (OPID) which will be implemented in the country from 2009 to 2014.

According to Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Roseller Olayres, whether or not a region is a recipient of ARCP, part of its tax collection will proceed to the ADB and OPID as payment for the government loan. Bicol region is a recipient of the ARCP.

It can be recalled that the Phase I of ARCP was implemented from 1999 to 2007 covering 11 regions including Bicol. The town of Donsol and Sorsogon City were the only recipients during the first implementation of ARCP in Sorsogon.

"Unlike ARCP1, this current Project involved 6 regions: Region IV-B, V, VI, VIII, IX and ARMM. Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon were among the 3 provinces included in the Bicol region," Olayres bared.

"In the province of Sorsogon, only Sorsogon City and 5 other municipalities namely Casiguran, Irosin, Castilla, Juban, and Bulan are involved in ARCP2," he added.

"The town of Irosin is indeed very lucky because it has been a recipient of several projects from DAR. And having hard-working leaders, more projects will be underway for this town," Nelson Espaldon, CARP Officer for PBD (Program Beneficiaries' Development) said in his message in behalf of PARO Olayres, during the ARCP2 launching in Irosin.

The ARCP2 is in response to majority's call to provide farmers with support services and was brought to the community in coordination with the local government unit. It has 4 components namely: Community Driven Development (CDD), Agriculture Enterprise Development (AED), Rural Infrastructure (RI), and Project Management. Most important document required in this project is the minutes of Barangay Workshop Consultation (BWC).

"Our role in DAR is to assist the LGUs and the barangays in the preparation of the needed documents for the central government's approval of their proposed projects. The length of time depends on the community's cooperation," Ferdie Balmaceda, Project Consultant said.
"We, in DAR, looks forward to finish the launching in the four remaining municipalities the soonest possible time," Balmaceda added. (BARecebido/CAGoboli/AArbolente, PIA/DAR Sorsogon)


LEGAZPI CITY— The inflation rate of the province of Albay maintained its rate at 3.8 per cent from January to February 2010 this year, 2.5 percentage points lower compared to the 6.3 percent inflation rate in February last year.

Albay Quickstat, updates of National Statistics Office (NSO) on consumer price index (CPI), showed the current level of the province’s inflation rate was the result of the stationary rate of both the heavily-weighted food, beverages and tobacco (FBT) index of -0.30 per cent and the non-food commodity/service index of -0.78 per cent.

The indices under the latter group showed increases – clothing (0.59 per cent from 0.46 per cent), housing and repairs (0.21 per cent fro0m zero per cent). Lower rates were likewise recorded in the indices of fuel, light and water (12.93 per cent from 16.33 per cent) and services (4.03 per cent from 4.14 per cent). On the other hand, miscellaneous index maintained its rate at 1.42 per cent between the two-month periods.

On a month-on-moth basis, the CPI for all income households in Albay was registered at 168.5 in February 2010, higher by 0.1 index point over the January 2010 level of 168.4. This indicates a 0.06 per cent change in the all-item index, lower by 0.24 percentage point than the previous month’s rate of 0.30 per cent.

Across commodities under the heavily-weighted FBT index, significant decreases were registered in the indices of fish (-1.12 per cent from 1.49 per cent) and fruits and vegetables (-7.15 per cent from -1.14 per cent), while the rest of the indices revealed increases in its entire item index – cereals & cereal preparation (0.51 per cent from zero per cent), dairy products (1.21 per cent from zero per cent), eggs (1.18 per cent from 0.24 per cent), meat (0.06 per cent from 0.13 per cent), miscellaneous (2.47 per cent from 0.29 per cent), beverages (0.36 per cent from zero per cent) and tobacco (0.26 per cent from zero per cent). In effect, the over-all rate posted in the FBT went down to 0.06 per cent from 0.12 per cent last month.

In the non-food commodity/service group, two of its indices exhibited higher rates – clothing (0.13 per cent from zero per cent) and miscellaneous (0.22 per cent from 0.07 per cent). Contrary to this, decrements were recorded in the indices of fuel, light & water (-0.06 per cent from 1.46 per cent) and services (-0.10 per cent from 0.54 per cent). In effect, the over-all rate posted in this group moved down to 0.06 per cent from 0.42 per cent.

As a result of the price changes reflected in the CPI above, the purchasing power of the peso (PPP) in Albay maintained its value at P0.59. (NSO Albay/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — The opening of a road network in Barangay Rawis, Pioduran, Albay has dramatically improve the lives of the locals, furthermore, also provided more opportunities and development for other government projects to come in.

The 9-kilometer road has been completed under the Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan and Community Integrated Development and Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) project of the government, led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol.

Rawis is one of the 33 barangays found in the southwestern part and flanked on the south by Alabang Puro and Lawinon on the east in Pioduran town.

Prior to KALAHI-CIDSS project, the road to Rawis is not passable by any vehicle because of the knee-deep mud, especially during rainy season, and the only means of transport is the ‘paragos’, a carabao-driven sled that usually takes five hours.

“Difficulty in transportation hampers development in this humble barangay. We have been waiting for this, because of this government project, more improvements and projects are coming in,” said Barangay chief Solomon Polloso.

Polloso noted that KALAHI-CIDSS project has also proven its being one with the people of Rawis in their dream for having an improved and concrete road. A road project was implemented and constructed when the community was prioritized under the project.

The project is a poverty-alleviation project also funded by the World Bank

“Truly, there is a promise for the people who showed cooperation and commitment with the KALAHI-CIDSS. The farm-to-market road project brought opportunities and has opened for other government project such as the KALAHI Para sa Kalayaan to implement in the barangay,” the punong barangay related.

“We are very thankful for KALAHI-CIDSS, if not for their projects, our barangay will be forever deprived of basic social services,” he added.

KALAHI Para sa Kalayaan, spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), is a national program for peace development in conflict-affected and peace agreement areas involving 89 barangays in Bicol were chosen as showcase barangays of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. (EEJerusalem, DSWD/PIA)


DAET, Camarines Norte — The National Food Authority (NFA) provincial office here has assured the public of sufficient supply of rice for the next 43 days based on the 4,560 bags daily consumption.

Jose Danilo Nieves, NFA provincial manager here, said that some 198,192 bags of rice are now stored in their warehouses and ready for disposal anytime the public needs them.

Nieves noted that the production of rice in the province was not affected by the dry spell brought about by El Niño phenomenon.

He explained that they are now distributing only 20 percent of the estimated daily consumption due to the availability of rice in the market since January 2010, and may last up to April 16, this year.

He also said that NFA has already purchased some 35,700 bags of palay from February to April 16, 2010.

Nieves reiterated that the agency has 319 Tindahan Natin Outlets, parokya outlets, markets and bigasang bayan in the barangays across the province.

He added that if the distribution of rice will continue to be only 20 percent of the daily consumption, the rice stocks will be sufficient until December this year. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


by Cpt. Amadeo L. Saturnino II, (INF) PA

The four decades of continuous lies, treachery, bloody , and deceitful armed struggle of the Communist Party of the Philippines ( CPP), its armed component, the New Peoples Army ( NPA ) and its National Democratic Front Organization ( NDF) commonly termed as CNN with one intention: to seize the reigns of government through bloody revolution is a useless struggle, local and foreign analysts say.

These communist terrorists should realize by now that peace-loving people living in the countryside’s, especially in far flung villages and barangays are already fed up with the extortion, revolutionary taxation, cruel and unjust killing that make these hapless people always their victims.

Many years ago, the propagandists of the communist terrorists went to their barangays, and convinced them to join the communist movement with promises of employment, decent life with higher incomes, possession of large tracks of lands to be seized from the landed people, and seize the reigns of government through bloody revolution to be orchestrated by the poor peasants. These were the propaganda outcry of the communist terrorists in 1985 at the height of their recruitment where they were able to generate a total of 25,000 members in the communist movement.

But now, their membership has shrunk to less than 6,000 revolutionaries, and is expected to be reduced to a negligible rag tag bandits group to less than 2,000 revolutionaries by this year. This gives a total reduction of an average of 76 percent in the followers, supporters and armed cadres among the CTs. And within this year, if they will be further reduced to 2,000 or less followers, supporters and armed cadres, their percentage of defeat will rise to 92 percent from their 1985 strength.

In the words of field Commanders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines assigned in the Bicol Region, the CNN is now on its final stage of eventual demise as the Filipino people are already fed up with their lies, banditry, extortions , threats, summary killings of innocent civilians, revolutionary taxation, and also victimizing political candidates through their imposition of permits to campaign and permits to win with the imposition of illegal fees for these permits. From a political ideologue type, they have diminished to banditry which is a preoccupation only of hopeless criminals, robbers, and plunderers whose victims are mostly innocent and peace-loving civilians.

We Filipinos are freedom lovers and we always adhere to peace and tranquility. In fact, residents of villages and barangays that, in the past, were highly influenced by the Communist Terrorists, have returned their support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and pledge to be law abiding citizens under the present government where rule of law and democracy prevails. Now, they are back to their normal tranquil life. But in communities that are still highly influenced by the CTs, people there live in fear and ignominy as they are always threatened to be executed anytime including members of their families if they dare to tip off the military of their identities and whereabouts and worse, the poor residents have to contribute food, money, livestock and farm produce to help feed these NPA bandits. Now, these poor people have realized that their NPA bandit visitors are their tormentors – their real enemies.

According to reports, the Commanders of these CT bandits are enjoying the fat shares in the total revolutionary tax collections and have their own personal bank accounts where the biggest percentage of their loot money are deposited. While only a very small percentage are given to their poor foot armed cadres who can not even afford to give a decent life for their families. And for this, there is growing jealousy, envy and dissension among the CTs and most of these foot armed cadres have decided to surrender and avail the total amnesty under the Social Integration Program of the present government wherein each surrenderee will immediately get P20,000 cash incentive and a cash value for each firearm that will be surrendered.

Backtracking on the CTs’; presence in the Philippines since the 1960’s, we could have been more prosperous and our poor village people living in more decent living conditions if from those years, they already slammed their doors to these terrorists. However, the time is still of the essence. The earliest that these CT bandits are driven off from their communities the better for they only thrive because of the hospitality of the community people.

(The author is the Acting Commander of the 21st Civil Relations Unit, 2nd Civil Relations Group of CRSAFP based in Camp General Simeon A. Ola in Legazpi City, Albay)


MANILA — Press Secretary Crispulo “Jun” Icban Jr. told a Mindanao media gathering Saturday (April 24) that as government spokesman among his key functions is to “set the record straight” especially on contentious issues like corruption and alleged human rights violations, and he advised media against untruths while in pursuit of their duties.

Speaking at the induction of officers and fellowship of the Independent Press of Zamboanga Peninsula Inc. (IPZPI) in Zamboanga City led by its newly elected president Mohammadnur Ajihil Al Haj, Icban, a long time journalist, said he values press freedom, but its exercise is being destroyed by disinformation that tends to magnify if not embellish incidence of corruption and human rights cases in the Philippines.

Quoting an independent report by the Hong Kong-based Public Economic Risk Consultancy, Icban said; “The actual level of corruption in the Philippines is not as bad as it is often portrayed.”

He said that over the past years, public attention “has been drawn to denunciations and investigations.”

“Now, in the remaining months of the (Arroyo) administration, we have found that so much has been achieved—in economic growth and stability, in infrastructure, in tourism, in information and communications technology and agribusiness—and that they constitute a formidable legacy that will now be handed over to the next administration to build upon,” Icban added.

In line with the theme of the IPZPI affair “The Fourth Estate: Antidote to Power Abuse, Oppression and Corruption,” Icban said journalists should balance press freedom with responsible news reporting.

Halfway in his speech, the lights went out due to a power outage. However, the secretary refused to be interrupted, and continued to deliver his piece from memory until power came back a few minutes later. The entire Mindanao is still reeling under daily brownouts as its major power plants, mostly hydroelectric, ground to a halt in the wake of the El Nino weather phenomenon.

He reiterated a challenge to the press raised by his predecessor, the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, who in one of his newspaper columns wrote, thus:

“The times call for us to go beyond being just information disseminators. We can be harbingers of truth and hope, inkwells of inspiration, to draw for our people not only the roadmap to survival, but the landscape of achievable growth.”

We need to uphold press freedom with responsibility, and our responsibility is not only to tell the truth, but to make that truth bring comfort and benefits to the people we serve.”

On human rights issues, Icban indicated that figures being projected by militant groups in the media are far from the truth.

“A major hurdle in government’s campaign for the promotion and protection of human rights is the disinformation spread by certain groups. Media’s role as facilitators of open debate on matters of public interest may be jeorpardized if we fail to be more cautious and responsible in raising such issues,” Icban stressed. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malacanang Deputy Spokesperson Gary Olivar stood behind Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Jose Melo who aired doubts over the need of a full manual parallel count for the May 10, 2010 voting being called by poll watchdog groups.

“I will side with the Comelec on this one. I don’t think the Comelec is in favor of a full (manual) parallel count. And I think, because Comelec is the institution that is authorized and knowledgeable on this aspect, we will support Comelec’s position on this,” Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar said in a radio interview Saturday (April 24).

Olivar said that having a parallel count ‘sets us up for a very contentious outcome’ of the elections.

He said it violates the law which requires the election process to be automated and might undermine the credibility and integrity of the process.

“Paano kung may diprensya ang dalawang results, tapos ang nakalagay sa batas automated ang sundan?” (What if the two counting systems came up with different outcomes and the law says the automated count should prevail?), Olivar asked.

“It does not help in the ultimate integrity and credibility of the process,” Olivar said, adding that the country cannot afford to have this kind of uncertainty at this time.

“Dati, pagka-manual ang bilangan, madaming complaints tungkol sa dayaan. Ngayon na nalipat tayo sa automated, gusto pa nila ng full manual parallel count. Ano ba yan? (There were a lot of complaints when we were doing full manual count. And now that we shifted to automated count, they want a full manual parallel count,” Olivar said.

Olivar dismissed doubts on the credibility of automated polls, saying the Comelec has ‘already done well, doing beyond the requirements of the law by instituting the higher sample of voting units for random manual audit.’

The Comelec has decided to increase the random manual audit of ballots from a single precinct to 5 precincts per legislative district.

Section 24 of Republic Act 9369 requires a random manual audit to be conducted in one precinct per congressional district randomly chosen by the Comelec in each province and city. Any difference between the automated and manual count will result in the determination of root cause and initiate a manual count for those precincts affected by the computer or procedural error.

A total of 1,145 precincts will be undergoing the manual audit, which will be conducted immediately after polls close. (PIA V Release)

MANILA — Over two million small farmers and fisher folks have directly benefited from the various initiatives vigorously implemented by the Arroyo administration via its centerpiece food security program, dubbed FIELDS since its launching two years ago, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

DA officials noted that 930,000 farmers have been beneficiaries of fertilizer discount coupons; another 327,157 farmers and fisher folks took part in training activities to raise production; and close to 140,000 others were able to avail themselves of P4.9 billion worth of agricultural loans under the Agro-Industry Modernization Credit and Financing (AMCFP) which are all part of President Arroyo’s FIELDS initiative.

Millions of small farmers and other agriculture stakeholders have also benefited from FIELDs through the restoration and rehabilitation of irrigation systems, the construction of farm-to-market roads, distribution of high-quality seeds, and the establishment of mariculture parks and post-harvest facilities, the DA noted.

FIELDS, which stands for Fertilizer; Irrigation and other rural infrastructure; Extension and education services for farmers; Loans; Dryers and other postharvest facilities; and Seeds and other genetic materials—was unveiled by the President during the DA-sponsored National Food Summit at the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga in April 2008.

“We were able to succeed with our accomplishments in FIELDS through our partnerships with the local government units, farmers and fishers’ groups, the private sector, agri-fishery associations, the members of the academe, non-government organizations and other government agencies,” DA Secretary Bernie Fondevilla said.

Malacañang has put FIELDS on the fast lane starting 2009 as several of its intervention programs had been incorporated into the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) component of the President’s economic stimulus package, which is meant to help Filipinos ride out last year’s global economic crisis.

As of this year, the FIELDS program has remained on track with the following accomplishments since 2008:

-- Distributed 3.56 million fertilizer discount coupons of which 2.057 M coupons were utilized benefiting 930,000 farmers, and 41,40 million kilos of organic fertilizer and other soil ameliorants along with the establishment of 52 composting facilities and six Bio-N mixing plants in 2008.

In addition, the Department established complete package of composting facility in 1,367 sites nationwide;

-- Generated 23,390 hectares of new irrigation areas; rehabilitated 261,811 hectares and restored 153,598 hectares of unserviceable and deteriorated irrigation facilities; and also constructed 6,305 kilometers of farm-to-market roads, established 23 mariculture parks located in coves and protected areas;

-- On Extension, R&D and capacity building, the DA-Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) conducted training and training related activities to farmers/fisherfolk to equip them with farming technologies that will improve their production and productivity. To date 327,157 farmers and fisherfolk participated in various training activities conducted by DA-ATI through its 75 series of Training of Palaycheck Trainers (TPTs), 2,790 Farmers Field Schools (08-09 dry and 09 wet season) 148 techno demos, 1,091 Regional Trainings; 3,094 Farm and Business Advisory; 206 Field Day/Mass Graduation; school-on-air, e-learning courses and info caravan.

-- Released P4.9 billion worth of loans to 141,916 farmers and fisherfolk under the (AMCFP), and P34.5 billion through Land Bank of the Philippines of which P21.7 billion was for palay production released to 721,690 farmer-beneficiaries.

-- Installed 2,061 flatbed dryers and 11 operational corn postharvest processing and trading centers, along with tramlines, cold storage facilities for fishery products, 7 municipal fishports; and 62 bagsakan centers or market retail outlets and 483 barangay bagsakans or wholesale markets; and,

-- Provided certified seeds to over 4 million hectares and hybrid seeds to 329,665 hectares; distributed 45.7 million pieces of planting materials, 85,478 head of various animals; 452.08 million pieces of fingerlings and 4.078 million pieces of broodstock. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malacanang is encouraging the Filipino electorate "to vote wisely and according to their conscience" instead of electing candidates based solely on survey results.

"Decide based on what your mind and heart tell you and not on surveys alone," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar advised voters during a Palace briefing on Monday.

He said such call is particularly directed to voters who still have not decided on who to elect.
At the same time, Olivar said Malacanang is not joining calls to stop surveys since results of these undertakings can still help voters assess candidates seeking to be elected on May 10.

"We should accept survey results as inputs in helping us decide on candidates to vote for," he said.

Such an assessment is important so voters can make informed choices on who to elect, he added.

Bagumbayan Party standard-bearer Sen. Richard Gordon and several others earlier sought scrapping surveys, claiming data these produce cause trend-setting and condition people's minds.

Malacanang is aware of such dangers but is not joining calls to scrap surveys, believing these manifest people's freedom of expression.

Olivar stressed voters themselves must decide on whether or not they will be mere blind followers of survey results.

"It's up to people if they'll allow surveys to rule them," he said.
He acknowledged that some candidates who people will vote for may not win.

"What's important is people expressed through voting their trust in these candidates," he said.

Earlier, PulseAsia (PA) reported the results of its March 21-28, 2010 survey showing nine percent of respondents interviewed expressed indecision on the presidential candidates they will vote for on May 10.

The survey also ranked administration standard-bearer Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. fourth only in voters' presidential preference (seven percent) after Liberal Party's Sen. Benigno Aquino III (37 percent), Nacionalista Party's Sen. Manny Villar (25 percent) and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino's Joseph Estrada (18 percent) who is attempting a Malacanang comeback this year.

The survey firm likewise reported that presidential aspirants Gordon and Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas registered voter preference ratings of two percent each.

Administration-backed Lakas-Kampi coalition, however, is not dismayed by this survey's results.

The coalition is optimistic Teodoro can get the support of more voters, including those still undecided on who among the presidential candidates to elect this year.

"We can convince them," Teodoro's spokesperson Mike Toledo said.

He said Teodoro can continue winning voters to his side since his governance platform is solution-oriented and the kind of politics he engages in is issue-based.

Teodoro has the talent, experience and capability to run the country, Toledo noted.

The coalition believes Teodoro can still win the presidential race this year.

Toledo said Teodoro is a gifted speaker who can explain his governance platform even to simple folk so more people are becoming convinced about voting for him and are converting themselves into being his supporters.

Teodoro's speaking ability is already paying off, Toledo noted.

"His conversion rate is eight out of ten people," Toledo said. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — The Philippine Bar Association (PBA), the oldest voluntary organization of lawyers in the country, on Monday said it will file a second motion for reconsideration in connection with the ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) allowing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint the successor of Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who will retire on May 17, 2010.

The SC ruled with finality in en banc session in Baguio City on April 20, 2010 that President Arroyo has the power to appoint the next Chief Justice of the highest court of the land.

The SC also ordered the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to submit its shortlist of nominees to President Arroyo on or before Chief Justice Puno's retirement.

In a press conference on Monday, PBA president and former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo said that within 15 days upon their receipt of the recent SC ruling, they would file before the SC their second motion for reconsideration.

"We expect the JBC to not yet submit a shortlist of nominees to the President," Marcelo said.

Marcelo cited that a third motion for reconsideration was granted by the SC in a certain case wherein the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) lost in their first and second motions for reconsideration, but subsequently won in their third motion for reconsideration.

"Under the Constitutional Law, decisions should be rendered on the basis of facts and not on speculations," Marcelo said.

Marcelo said that the mandatory provision of the Constitution that the appointment to the SC should be made within 90 days upon the occurrence of the vacancy, will not be violated as it is only "directory".

He also said the appointment of former SC Associate Justice Minita Chico-Nazario was made eight months within the occurrence of the vacancy in the Judiciary such that the 90-day period stated in the Constitution was only "directory". (PIA V Release)

Friday, April 23, 2010


CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur — The newly deployed government troops which now augments the elements of the Special Task Force Masbate arrested Thursday (April 22) four suspected members of the partisan armed group (PAG) in Barangay Naocondiot, in Placer town, Masbate, a military officer disclosed.

Major Harold M Cabunoc, spokesperson of the 9th Division of the Philippine Army, said that the troops, former UN peacekeepers, were among the combined elements of the STF Masbate sent to check the reported presence of gun-toting gunmen in the village.

Led by Police Inspector Nicolas Malipot Jr, the government forces stormed the place after being fired upon by the said gunmen.

The suspects surrendered upon seeing that they were surrounded by heavily armed soldiers. One caliber .357 Smith and Wesson revolver and copies of official ballots for the upcoming elections were recovered from the suspects.

No one was hurt among the responding STF Masbate personnel.
Cabunoc identified the suspects as Ronald Santianes, Dennis Salvador, Ardito Gailan and Sonny Espinosa, now detained in Masbate Provincial Police Office as criminal cases are filed against them.

The STF Masbate has confiscated 10 high-powered firearms and 77 low-powered firearms from 98 arrested PAG members as of today. It has also recorded 8 election-related violent incidents (ERVIs) since January 1, 2010.

A consistent election ‘hotspot’, Masbate has recorded 22 ERVI’s in 2004 and 18 tally in 2007 elections.

The task force was augmented with additional forces after the deployment of a 250-men strong battalion of former UN peacekeepers on April 16, 2010.

The newly deployed soldiers are already assigned to the different municipalities where violent incidents had been recorded. (PAO-9ID-PA/PIA)


NAGA CITY — In a unanimous call to confront and send the message of accord to all environmental stakeholders, the city government here, in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB in Bicol, Naga City Youth Officials and SM City Naga, gathered on April 22, in a simple yet significant observance of Earth’s Day 40th year anniversary.

The event, which took place at SM activity center was participated in by various organizations whose campaign runs synonymous with the government’s battle cry for resource conservation and environmental protection.

Dubbed as “Earth Day 2010 at Naga City”, the activity became an appropriate venue to raise public awareness on the dangers posed by climate change.

Mr. Oscar Orosco, Naga City Environment Officer, in his message, reiterated the importance of maintaining the cleanliness of our environment and called on everyone to take this as an individual responsibility.”

“We will not succeed in our battle to reverse the ill-effects of climate change if we cannot mend our ways and give ourselves this one-time opportunity to become a responsible agent of change and an essential instrument in building a clean and healthy environment. “

Orosco added that even before the celebration of Earth Day, they have been doing a lot of activities aimed at preserving our environment. One of which is the Signature Campaign dubbed as “Climate Change 101”where they garnered a total of 1,650 signatures. Signatories were enjoined to seal their commitment to participate in the 10million solutions to combat climate change.

ENRO-Naga, in cooperation with the City Youth Officials, also conducted a clean-up activity inside the protected area of Mount Isarog . They were able to collect twelve (12) sacks of garbage and two (2) sacks of empty bottles of mineral water at the site. With the Philippine National Authority, Ateneo de Naga University students and a British National, the City ENRO also planted a total of 1,850 trees inside the Mount Isarog National Park .

Under this year’s Earth Day theme: “Hamon ng Panahon- Climate Change , 10M Solusyon (Kilos Na! Ngayon Na!) , all stakeholders are also being enjoined to develop solidarity and cooperation among the members of the community, provide activities that will promote corporate social responsibility among the business establishments and instill awareness about environmental issues confronting our present society.

Orosco added that also part of the climate change campaign is to create a collective understanding of each individual’s role as environmental advocates and stewards of God’s creaton.

EMB Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales, also present during the occasion, said that our collective action will surely reap a good result if we will sustain and adapt greener lifestyles to face the challenge of climate change. “We all need to recognize the country’s vulnerability to calamities, such as typhoons and floods. Let us work collectively and meet the greatest challenge of combating the ill-effects of climate change.”

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared April 22 as the Philippine Earth Day through Presidential Proclamation No. 1481 amending PD Nos. 553 and 1276 finally declaring Earth Day an official environmental holiday in the country. (LSMacatangay, PIA CamSur)


DONSOL, Sorsogon — Mesmerizing...Magnificent... Enchanting... Breathtakingly Wonderful!
These were the very words uttered by the group of tri-media practitioners from Sorsogon after the interaction with the acclaimed 'Gentle Giants of the Deep' or the butanding thriving in the coastal waters of this town.

One participant of the media familiarization tour on Donsol Whale Shark Interaction activities said she has since been promoting Donsol's butanding for years now to her relatives, friends and acquaintances but never she had the opportunity to personally experience the real adventure.
"I only learned what I share to them through information from video, reading stuffs and stories from friends who had been in the place," she said.

"But with the opportunity given to us, we now have our own story to tell, from the very hospitable and accommodating guides who were so patient in bearing with us considering that we are neither swimmers nor diver either, and down to the actual experience of catching a glimpse of almost ten amazing butanding in just less than three hours," she added.

Lynn Jimenez, reporter of DWLH-FM said that as a first timer in the experience of Butanding interaction, an extraordinary feeling mesmerized her.

"I could truly say we are very lucky to be given such wonderful endowment of nature, and hopefully, we'll help each other to protect these creatures so that the next generation may also experience the same beauty and bounty of God's given gift to us," she also said.

The tour held on April 15 was sponsored by the Department of Tourism Regional (DOT) Office V in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Sorsogon Information Center and the Committee on Tourism of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.

Maria O. Ravanilla, DOT Bicol director, said that hordes of tourists, both foreign and domestic, flock to take a glimpse and interact with this sea creatures and they also do not want the local media here to miss the most-sought after Bicol tourism destination and at the same time our way of thanking the media for supporting us in popularizing and promoting our local tourism assets.

"About 3 years ago, DOT Bicol also sponsored a media tour butanding interaction activity but there were no sightings. Last summer, we again planned to hold the same, however, the very slim chance for the whale sharks to appear in view of the heavy rains compelled the DOT to postpone it," said Ravanilla.

"This year, we really made sure to push through this exciting adventure-experience for our media," she added.

As disclosed by Allan Amanse, president, Butanding Interaction Officers (BIO) Association, these gentle giants are spotted from November to May this year in the sea waters of Donsol, the seasonal feeding ground of butanding, acclaimed as the world's largest fish.

Donsol was considered a 5th class municipality not until it was included in the world's tourism map accelerating it to first class municipality with nearly P70-M Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) yearly.

Local media here, meanwhile, were so grateful to DOT V for the wonderful experience and hospitability extended to them during the said media exposure. (PIA Sorsogon with reports from CLOcfemia)


LEGAZPI CITY — Jorge Almoete of Masbate City notched the top place in the 2010 Holcim “Galing Mason” Olympics besting 28 other competitors from six provinces in the Bicol region.

Certified masons in the region competed last April 6-8, this year, at the Provincial Training Center in Guinobatan, Albay for the coveted plum in this craft.

Almoete, who got the P7,000 top prize, will represent Bicol in the national competition that will be held in the latter part of this year.

Noli Belgica of Albay won second place with P5,000; Renato Madrigalejos of Camarines Sur and Sergio T. Tarnate of Catanduanes tied in the third place, each receiving P3,000 cash incentives.

The masonry skills competition was an open category and has no age requirements. The only restriction is that an applicant must be an NC II certificate holder.

The event was sponsored by Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Bicol, in partnership with Holcim Philippines, Inc., a leading cement manufacturer in the country.

Holcim provided each competitor with a t-shirt, daily allowance, transportation subsidy, meals for the 3-day event and likewise provided a total 150 bags of cement for use during the actual competition and the cash prizes.

TESDA and Holcim focuses on bringing dignity to Filipino masons thru holding of skills training and competitions throughout the country. (RTPerida, TESDA V/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — “Mayon volcano is still unsafe for mountaineers and human activity also remains prohibited within the six-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ),” Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned.

Phivolcs Resident Volcanologist Ed Laguerta warned mountaineers and tour guides that climbing Mayon is still unsafe as it continues to emit gases and lava, adding that “although the lava and gases emission are minimal, it is still dangerous.”

“Alert level 1 is still hoisted over the volcano, indicating that human activity in the area is not allowed,” Laguerta explained.

According to Phivolcs bulletin, mild explosions have been observed in the crater and thousands volcanic debris deposited around the body of the volcano might collapse any time if triggered.”
Laguerta said once Phivolcs lifted the alert level in Mayon Volcanol, that is the only time that mountaineers can be allowed to climb.

Jukes Nunez, Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Office (APSEMO) operation chief, said Mayon is still in abnormal stage.

“Sudden rock falls might occur,” he said, adding that “the policy of Albay restricts human activity within PDZ.”

Phivolcs has reminded the public that the six-kilometer radius PDZ remains off-limits due to continuing threats of sudden small explosions and rock falls from the upper and middle slopes of the volcano.

Active river channels and those areas perennially identified as lahar prone in the southeast sector should also be avoided especially during bad weather conditions or when there are heavy and prolonged rains. (MDRama, PNA Bicol/PIA)


MASBATE CITY — An increasing number of pregnant women has availed the services of birthing facility in Placer town, Masbate following the implementation of the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)

Dr. George Galindez, Placer local health office chief, said pregnant women have since four months after 4Ps’ implementation started to seek pre and post natal services as well as safe child birth in rural health units (RHUs)

RHU records revealed that in 2005 only five women had given birth in the clinic, while they increase in 2007 with 48 deliveries, 118 in 2008 and 506 in 2009. Proper hygiene among mothers also improved with the intensified health education campaigns carried out by the local heath office.

Galindez, who fervently pushes advocacy on safe motherhood and child health care, stressed that pregnant mothers should submit for pre and post-natal care and seek the assistance of a trained ‘hilot’ or midwife in giving birth.

He recalled most pregnant women would still prefer to have home deliveries and get the services of the traditional ‘hilot’ way back 2005, thus relentlessly pushed for the campaign urging women of child bearing age to avail of the services of trained ‘hilots’.

On the other hand, latest survey of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed that one out of three mothers giving birth die due to infection or hemorrhage, attributing such to pregnant mothers in the rural areas who did not submit for pre-natal care or those who gave birth at home with the traditional ‘hilot’.

It was in 2009 that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol started 4Ps implementation in Masbate province identifying the town of Placer as one covered municipality, with 5,487 potential beneficiaries including 430 pregnant women in the list.

4Ps is a government scheme developed to help alleviate poverty in the country by providing cash grants to poor households to support the educational, health and nutritional needs of children ages 0-14.

A family who is enrolled in the program has to follow certain conditionalities and one of which is for pregnant mothers to avail of the pre and post-natal care and be attended during childbirth by a skilled health professional. Non-compliance to the conditionalities would mean termination from the list.

“I was so happy when I learned about the program. My campaign was not in vain,” claimed Dr. Galindez.

Another factor which contributed to the increase of the deliveries in the RHU is the implementation of the financing scheme of the UNFPA under the Maternal and New-Born Health Demand Side Financing. This is in partnership with the DSWD which will respond to the mandate of the UNFPA which is “Every birth should be safe, every pregnancy is wanted, every girl should be treated with dignity and no woman should die giving life.” (EEJerusalem, DSWD V/PIA)


SORSOGON CITY — Three fatalities were left following a road accident involving a fuel tanker and a motorcycle on Friday (April 23) around one o’clock in the morning along Maharlika Highway in Barangay Boton in Casiguran, Sorsogon,.

Noted dead on arrival were the motorcycle driver identified as Pfc. Randy Milagrosa y Miraflor, 35, single, resident of Barangay Abucay in Pilar, Sorsogon and an active personnel of the 49th IB, 9ID Philippine Army based in Bulan town, this province. His back rider who, as of press time is yet unidentified, is also declared dead.

Another fatality is the truck driver, identified as Salvador Fernandez, of legal age, married, and resident of Barangayy Pagcolbon in Rapu-rapu, Albay.

Sammy Bolaños, 31, married, resident of Barangay Binusawan, also in Rapu-rapu town, and helper of the tanker, is the lone survivor of the accident

Bolaños was rushed to Dr. Fernando B. Duran, Sr. Memorial Hospital (Sorsogon Provincial Hospital) here for immediate medical attention.

Remains of the three victims were brought to a funeral home in this city for proper disposition.

Report disclosed, meanwhile, that the truck also collided in some residential houses affecting 2 households.

Investigation of further damages the accident has brought to the affected households is still in progress. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


MANILA — The search is on for the top institutional and individual performers in disaster risk management and humanitarian service from both public and private agencies.

This was recently announced by Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, also chair of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, as the NDCC opened this year’s Gawad KALASAG search with the theme: Kalamidad at Sakuna Labanan Sariling Galing ang Kaligtasan.

Gawad KALASAG is held every year, with the President conferring the awards in Malacanang, to give due recognition to outstanding performance of local Disaster Coordinating Councils (DCCs) in provinces, municipalities, and barangays.

The project also recognizes private / volunteer organizations and non-government organizations (NGOs) providing humanitarian assistance; and government emergency responders (GOERs) which are major stakeholders and partners in the implementation of disaster management programs and activities.

It also honors individuals or groups that have shown extraordinary courage, heroism, self-sacrifice and bravery against odds in times of natural and man-made disasters and emergencies.

Gonzales has tasked the NDCC National Selection Committee to now start screening nominees from all regions of the country.

The committee is headed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and include local-based organizations such as the Leagues of Provinces, Cities, Municipalities and Barangays; the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, and a representative agency of PINGON.

The awarding ceremonies are slated in July to coincide with the country’s observance of the National Disaster Consciousness Month. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo recognized today local government units (LGUs) which implemented the best and efficient solid waste management programs under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The President awarded Zero Basura Olympics trophies to Magarao, Camarines Sur (4th to 6th Class municipality); and the towns of San Mateo, Isabela; and Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, the co-winners in the 1st to 3rd class category during rites held at Malacañang’s heroes Hall.

Winners in the highly urbanized and component cities categories were Makati City and San Carlos City, respectively.

The Olympics is part of the President’s solid waste management program to lessen the emission of greenhouse gases such as methane from garbage, including the establishment of materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in every barangay and the shift to sanitary landfill by closing and rehabilitating open dumpsites.

Among those present during the awarding rites were Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Horacio Ramos and some 200 representatives from various non-government organizations and international environmental groups.

Romeo Trono, executive director of Conservation International, said the President’s environmental program has produced numerous policies and guidelines in the crucial preservation and conservation of Philippine marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

Trono said these government policies and programs resulted in the establishment of numerous marine reserves and parks and in preventing poaching and illegal fishing that will help increase the income and catch of sustenance fishermen.

Trono said these guidelines and policies fully complement the Philippine plan of action to support the Coral Triangle initiative and the global conservation initiatives in this United National-initiated international year of biodiversity. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lauded Wednesday (April 21) the country’s employers and labor sectors for keeping industrial peace that helped ensure national economic growth.

Speaking at the closing day of the National Conference of Employers at the Manila Hotel, the President said harmony between employers and labor has kept the number of labor strike at an “all-time low” despite that Philippine labor laws that are considered the most democratic in Asia.

“A major source of our economic strength is our harmonious industrial relations system. The number of strikes in the country is at an all-time low, low even if our labor law is one of Asia’s most democratic. This is because you, our employers and you our labor leaders are able to communicate with one another in a professional and open manner without resorting to bluster and threats. You have agreed that the fastest way to resolve differences is over the negotiating table, not through messy strikes and lockouts,“ she told the employers’ gathering, which included the nation’s top corporations and business organizations.

With government in the tripartite partnership, the President said the nation was able to deal with the global economic crises in a collective and non-partisan way.

“I cite the leadership and constructive role of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) in all these dialogues,” she said.

The President said a result of the tripartite partnership was keeping “millions of jobs intact and creating even more along the way even during the global crisis.”

With 37 consecutive quarters of growth posted by the country, the President said nine millions jobs were created for which, she said the employers’ sector should be praised.

Citing once more the impact of her aggressive economic reforms, she said decisions, especially in the public financial sector, were made even at the expense of her being unpopular.

The President cited her championing of the expanded value added tax (EVAT) as an unpopular decision, which turned over to be very beneficial. “We were able to turn around the dire financial situation we inherited from the past,” she said, adding the tax measure provided much of the government investments in infrastructure, information technology and resources for basic social services. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has allocated P400 million for the installation of shallow tube wells in El Nino-hit farming communities as part of its ongoing efforts to help small farmers offset production losses due to the prolonged dry spell.

DA is the lead agency of the El Nino Task Force, which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reactivated earlier this year to coordinate government responses to the weather phenomenon.
DA Undersecretary Joel Rudinas reported to Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla that the Department has already used P120 million of the amount to procure water pumps and was seeking approval from Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to realign another P300 million for the shallow tube well projects.

Each water pump, Rudinas said, could cost from P8,000 to P80,000, depending on the horsepower and brand of the pumps needed. Moreover, the cost of installing water pumps for shallow tube wells will depend on whether a community will rely on self-running engines or electricity to power them, he said.

The Department, he added, has also been distributing seeds other than palay and corn to farmers in El Niño-hit towns who want to temporarily shift to vegetable or fruit crops.

“Water in El Niño-stricken communities may be scarce, but you can tap big rivers and streams or dig to pump and draw out water from underground. That’s why the provision of pumps and engine sets is one of our priority projects to help our farmers cope with the dry spell,” Rudinas said.

The array of El Niño mitigation measures include cloud seeding operations in watershed areas; construction of shallow tube wells; provision of fishcages, vegetable seeds, fruit flower inducers and microbial fertilizers; building small scale irrigation facilities; and livelihood assistance.

President Arroyo has also ordered government officials to provide emergency employment program for farmers who have lost harvest incomes due to the long dry spell brought by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

She pointed out that the employment of affected farmers will be the main tool to address the drought problem in the countryside.

Affected farmers, according to her, will be employed in the desilting of rivers and other water tributaries, and in repairing and rehabilitating water irrigation systems. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malacañang lauded Thursday (April 22) the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for upgrading the country’s growth forecast for 2010 to 3.6 percent from an earlier forecast of 3.25 percent.

“I would like to commend the IMF for its recent decision to upgrade its growth forecast for the Philippines this year. Its forecast for 2011 is even higher growth at four percent,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar said in a news conference in Malacañang today.

He said the IMF forecast is in line with other multinational lending institutions (MLI).

Last week, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) raised its Philippine growth forecast from 3.3 percent to 3.8 percent; and the World Bank from 3.15 percent to 3.5 percent.

These positive forecasts are within the target growth range of 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent set by the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).

Olivar also noted the IMF improved its forecast for Philippine inflation to five percent inflation rate this year and a more moderate four percent in 2011, well within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) target range of 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent.

“But we should be happy about such conservatism. As any good manager will tell you, it is always better to under-promise but over-deliver,” he explained.

“We take to heart the IMF’s prognosis for our country that ‘private domestic demand is expected to be the main driver of growth’, and its advice for us to focus on ‘improving the environment for private investments’ to support domestic demand growth,” he said.

But while the country is performing better against DBCC expectations, Olivar said the Philippines still has to catch up with the rest of its neighbors in Southeast Asia.

IMF growth forecast for the original Association of South East Asia Nation (ASEAN)-5 are 5.4 percent this year and 6.5 percent next year.

While he recognized the substantial contribution of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) remittances as a major engine behind the growth of domestic demand, Olivar urged: “We should continue to work for the day when enough local jobs are being created by mush higher levels of investment within out country, so that our workers have more options to stay home as well as leave.”

“The President has already done much to improve the investment environment on her watch, mainly through fiscal reforms that were instrumental in promoting macroeconomic stability and financial liquidity; unprecedented support for both physical and digital infrastructure that has permanently brought down the logistical cost of doing business and created whole new sunshine industries; and massive investment in education infrastructure to sharpen the competitive edge of our human resources. She also pursued aggressive trade and investment diplomacy during her trips abroad,” Olivar said.

Olivar expressed hope the next administration will take up and push with as much vigor and success as the President has shown with her own agenda over the last nine years. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malacanang deputy spokesman Gary Olivar said Thursday (April 22) that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wants no less than justice for the victims of the November 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre

“In no uncertain terms, the President demands justice for the heinous crimes committed in Maguindanao. She expects that the judicial system will prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law, so that justice will be served, ” according to Olivar during a Malacanang press briefing today

According to Olivar, the Office of the President through Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza has advised Justice Secretary Alberto Agra to take a second look at the Maguindanao case and to confer with the public prosecutors to ensure that all pieces of evidence are considered in his resolution freeing two members of the Ampatuan clan from indictment for multiple murder.

Olivar reminded those adversely affected by Agra’s ruling: “If there may be objections to his resolution or the court ruling, there are remedies available to those aggrieved, such as filing a motion for reconsideration with his office, or an appeal before the Court of Appeals”

Olivar added that the case is already in court and Agra’s resolution is “merely recommendatory in nature. “He added it is now the discretion of the court to grant or deny any motion in the case.

He also said that since all legal remedies are available to the aggrieved parties, “its is but just proper to let the proceedings take their natural course.

Furthermore Olivar said that there is no need for the President to intercede in court cases due to the principle of constitutional separation of power.

“To do otherwise that might be prejudicial to the conduct of impartial judicial proceedings, “ Olivar stressed adding that “the president must observe the boundaries set by law.”

Olivar said the he hopes that the families of the victims “understand the legal constraints at work here and to appreciate what can’t or what can be done.” (PIA V Release)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

…focuses on peacekeeping on election day

MASBATE CITY—In an unprecedented campaign against violent electoral contests in Masbate, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Delfin N. Bangit deployed a new battalion to help the Commission on Election preserve peace and order and protect voters when they troop to the polling places next month.

With the deployment of a new battalion Friday morning (April 16), a total of two Army battalions now work protecting Masbate, an island-province with long history of political violence.

The 85th Infantry Battalion, headed by Col. Lope Dagoy and composed of 250 officers and men who have just arrived from their peacekeeping missions in conflict areas in Africa and Haiti, was newly activated by the Philippine Army to boost the 9th Infantry Battalion under the command of Col. Anthony Purugganan.

With the recent spate of violence in Masbate involving suspected armed goons of warring political groups, Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales said the 85th Infantry Battalion will be invaluable in restoring order in the province.

The new battalion will focus on peacekeeping in the second congressional district, where reelection-seeking Rep. Antonio Kho, the patriarch of the long-reining political family in the province, is pitted against a newly retired police general, Darius Tuason.

Gonzales, here with Bangit and the head and members of the Independent Commission Against Private Armies presiding over the deployment, said the troops will stop the armed goons of politicians from sowing terror during the election period.

“Lilinisin natin ang Masbate sa mga undesirable elements,” he said.

State forces have identified 10 private armed groups in Masbate, Gonzales said.

Since January, the island-province was placed under special police watch until the end of the election period.

On the other hand, Bangit said the troops will help finally end Masbate’s reputation as a sanctuary for political leaders’ gun-for-hires.

“Hindi dapat magkaroon ng reputasyon ang Masbate bilang taguan ng mga mamatay-tao. Ipinadala kayo rito para matigil na ito,” Bangit said. (EADelgado, PIA Masbate/MALCID)

MASBATE CITY – The Philippine Army has activated a new battalion to provide security during the automated elections and run after communist rebels in the island-province of Masbate.

Military sources said the 85th Infantry Battalion headed by Col. Lope Dagoy, is composed of 250 officer and men, all but 60 whom served with the United Nations’ peacekeeping teams in Haiti and Liberia.

The new battallion will beef up the present military forces in Masbate, the 9th Infantry Battallion headed by Col. Anthony Puruganan.

In a television interview, Dagoy said his battalion “will be able to run after partisan armed groups in Masbate in line with the Armed Forces of the Philippine s’ goal of ensurig honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

Puruganan said the new battalion will be assigned to Masbate “as part of the military’s duty to assist the Commission on Elections, applying the principles of peacekeeping they learned from their previous assignment.”

Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales presided over the deployment of the battalion in ceremonies at the Masbate City Port Friday (April 16). A navy ship took the battalion from Sangley Point in Cavite. (EADelgado, PIA Masbate/MALCID)

Friday, April 16, 2010

GAYON BIKOLNON... visit island province of catanduanes... explore...

LEGAZPI CITY — Errol John Suarez, a Grade 4 pupil of the Bicol University Integrated Laboratory School (BUILS), has qualified, along with some 122 qualifiers and 137 alternates from different schools nationwide, to represent the country in the forthcoming math competitions.

Suarez was selected from among the 700 elementary math wizards vying for the slots during the the 2010 Young Mathematicians' In-house Intensive Training Program (YMIITP) in Balanga City, Bataan March 26-29.

The BUILS pupil is also the lone Bicolano named to the elite qualifier group of young Pinoy math wizards.

Suarez, at his age of nine, also made it to the national limelight in February last year following his fete as the youngest Kumon Math completer in the country.

Meanwhile, five other Bicolanos pupil were named alternates including Edrian M Octavo of BUILS and Sophia Lore Abad of the Blessed Lights International Christian Academy (BLICA) in Naga City for Grade 3; Tatyana Marie Gonzaga of the Unibersidad de Sta. Isabel, also in Naga City, for Grade 5; Danica Mae Berunio and Christina Marie Moneda of BLICA for Grade 6.

The young Pinoy math wizards, who ranged from grade 2 to grade 6, were all determined and confident to crack the mind-boggling math problems within the three straight strenuous days. Both new trainees and "old" yet so young members were not spared by sheets after sheets of math problems which came from session after session.

Though tired and beaten, their strength of mind made them succeed to meet the dominant purpose of the training, that is, to select the best from the best for the international math contest, consequently, Suarez along with other 122 qualifiers and 137 alternates grabbing the spots to represent the country in future international math Olympiads.

However, those MTG kids who were not able to make it for the 2010 Math Olympiad Summer Training Program (MOSTP) pledged to be back next year for they were challenged not to let go their math skills.

Suarez, along with this year's batch of qualifiers and alternates, were set into another tough training under the MOSTP from April 12 to May 14 at the Deeco Technological Institute in Santolan, Pasig City.

MOSTP is a must for all those qualifiers who wish to participate in the international math contest, wherein they will be exposed to a more rigid training experience by solving really more challenging math problems. (MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) in Bicol has assured the public that there will be adequate power supply in time of the national and local elections on May 10, this year.

Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Bicol director Raffy Alejandro said all local disaster councils (DCCs) will be ready to provide back up power source, with functional electric generator sets prepositioned in polling centers, in case power brownouts occur during the election day.

In a conference Tuesday (April 13), RDCC crafted measures to ensure adequate power supply on May 10 elections, in line with Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales directive.

Alejandro said that the initiative form part of the NDCC’s operation plan to guarantee a credible and efficient electoral process on Election Day.

Although the Commission on Election (COMELEC) has assured that counting machines will not be affected by power failure because of back-up battery and stable power supply, the generator sets will serve as back-up to ensure that the polling places are well-lighted and visible, Alejandro said.

Meanwhile, OCD Bicol has already created a special task force to carry out the measures, including planning, preparation, management and implementation to ensure the proper mobilization of back-up power supply.

Director Blandino Maceda of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Bicol has issued Wednesday a regional memorandum directing all national government line agencies in the region to submit an inventory of all functional electric generators and DCCs, to include in their inventories sets owned by private firms and individuals, that can be used in their respective localities.

DepEd Bicol, on the other hand, has also instructed all school heads to inventory their respective schools’ facilities in order to be well-equipped in time for the elections.

The military, on the other hand, was directed to assist in the transport, deployment and protection of said generator sets to and from their sources.

Navy Commodore Joel E. Babas said that the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) will ensure the task of mobilizing the back-up generators in the precincts in the region as directed by Secretary Gonzales. (MALoterte, PIA V)


TABACO CITY — Albay I District Rep. Edcel Lagman, regional chair of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD in Bicol, said Wednesday party members in Albay will remain steadfast in supporting their standard bearer, former Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro.

In a statement, Lagman stressed that “I, together with Lakas-Kampi allies in Albay like Tabaco City Mayor Krisel Lagman Luistro and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal and a host of municipal mayors and officials will remain supporting Gibo Teodoro in his bid for President.”

He said Teodoro is a cut above the rest in competence, capacity, integrity and sincerity.

Lagman said Teodoro’s politics and campaigns are anchored on issues and principles without any mudslinging and character assassination.

Quoting Dr. Mahar Mangahas, the dean of Filipino pollsters, in a paper for the Second International Conference of Public Opinion Polls in Cairo, Egypt in November 2009 asserted that: “The effect of election surveys is small, and may even be more pro-underdog rather than pro-bandwagon.”

The study shows that 53 percent of the voters are unaware of surveys, 32 percent are aware but say the surveys have no effect on them, while only eight percent said surveys influenced them to switch votes partly to favored candidates and partly underdogs.

Five percent said the surveys have induced them to switch to underdogs and only three percent said surveys have induced them to switch to favored ones.

Lagman said not a few say that it would be unfortunate and a waste if Teodoro does not win the Presidency because of his sterling qualifications.

Lagman said that to avert this misfortune, “we must campaign and vote for Teodoro and prove the surveys wrong because the real survey is conducted on election day.” (MSArguelles, PNA Bicol/PIA)


BULUSAN, Sorsogon — The Aggrupation of Advocates for Environmental Protection (AGAP-Bulusan) Inc. has successfully launched recently the Mt. Bulusan Conquest Special held here recently highlighting Mt. Bulusan Mountaineering as its major activity.

AGAP-Bulusan President Philip Bartilet said the mountaineering activity promotes and develops Mt. Bulusan and its environs as a competitive tourism product not only of Sorsogon but also of the Bicol region.

“We have also officially launched the Mt. Bulusan mountaineering as a major ecotourism activity in Bulusan Volcano Natural Park (BVNP) to encourage mountain enthusiasts to explore the beauty of Mt. Bulusan, promote protection and conservation of BVNP through eco-adventure and at the same time generate revenue through eco-tourism activities,” said Bartilet.

Some 30 mountaineers joined the hike from Ayala Mountaineers Club, Inc., AGAP-Bulusan, Inc. and its Eco-Tourism Beneficiaries who at the same time served as guides and porters, representatives from the local government unit of Bulusan and the Sangguniang Bayan for Tourism and Environment, Sorsogon Provincial Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Tourism Regional Office V.

“Aside from the official launching of Mt. Bulusan Mountaineering as major ecotourism activity in BVNP, clean-up drive and tree planting activity were also conducted as part of maintenance and ecological protection of the said park,” Bartilet said.

He also added that an orientation program before the actual hike in Mt. Bulusan was conducted explaining to them the PRESERVE BVNP Conservation Program as well as the Mountaineering Safety and Security Guidelines to ensure protection of mountain and safety of the mountaineers.

Bartilet shows optimism that the commitment of AGAP-Bulusan members and the launching activity will promote further Mt. Bulusan and Bulusan Lake which is also dubbed as “Switzerland of the Orient”, because of its pristine beauty and the unusual ecological experience it provide to both foreign and domestic tourists visiting the place.

AGAP-Bulusan, Inc. is a non-government organization that maintains and protects BVNP and its surroundings. The organization is likewise responsible for the promotion of Bulusan Volcano and Bulusan Lake as one of the prime eco-tourist destinations in the province. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon)


DAET, Camarines Norte — Some 57 street children benefited from an outreach program spearheaded by the Daet local government held at the Little Theater, Provincial Capitol Compound here yesterday.

Nora Miraflores, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) chief, said the program were able to help children, ages ranging from 5 to 7, from indigent families in Barangays 4 and 5 of this municipality.

Miraflores related the outreach program was held every year, providing the children food supplementation and school supplies in line with the LGU’s Back-To-School program in preparation for the school year 2010-2011.

Women Desk Officer PO2 Maricel Labarro and PO2 Rosalinda Tensu of the Municipal Police Station here, meanwhile, discussed with the children “The 10 Rights of the Child”.

Miraflores added that MSWDO will also conduct another outreach program for the parents of street children to enlighten them that children should be in school and not in the street. (RBManlangit, PIA Cam Norte)

Spanish dairy firm eyes 6M Euro investment in RP

MADRID, Spain — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo met Thursday with Grupo Leche Pascual President Tomas Pascual Gomez Cuetera to discuss the projected six million euro investment of one of the biggest dairy companies in Spain.

In the meeting held at the Ritz Hotel here, Pascual presented to the President his plan to invest in the Philippines.

Pascual's company will build a plant for the production of long life yogurts (non-refrigerated) and soy products.

Trade Secretary Jesli Lapus said executives of San Miguel Corporation, Magnolia and Purefoods, who earlier met with Pascual, were impressed with the project.

Lapus said Grupo Leche Pascual is determined to achieve with a local partner the double goal of meeting domestic and regional market demand.

''This is a good investment...part of their marketing educational campaign is to do yogurt feeding in Philippine schools,'' Lapus said.

Considering the nutritive value of yogurt, the feeding program will greatly improve the Filipinos’ eating habits.

Lapus added that Leche Pascual chose the Philippines for its first Asian venture due to its strategic location.

''The Philippines can be a hub for export,'' he said. (PIA V Release)

Spanish course in RP schools focus of RP-Spain bilaterals

MADRID, Spain — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and His Majesty King Juan Carlos I Thursday agreed to push for a four-year program in the teaching of the Spanish language in Philippine schools and the training of Filipino teachers in Spain.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said the teaching of the Spanish language in Philippine schools was among the topics discussed during the bilateral meeting between the President and the Spanish King held at the Palacio de la Zarzuela. The meeting was held after President Arroyo was awarded the prestigious Premio International Don Quijote de la Mancha in recognition of her efforts to bring back the Spanish language training in public schools in the country.

His Majesty Juan Carlos 1 presented the Manolo Valdes sculptured trophy to the President.

The President was in the Spanish capital for a two-day official visit. She arrived at the Barajas International Airport here Wednesday from a successful trip to Washington DC where she participated in the Nuclear Security Summit.

The International Don Quijote Award, now on its second year, was given to the President in the category Best Institutional Contribution.

In giving the award, the sponsoring Fundacion Santillana and the regional government of Castilla-La Mancha considered that by incorporating the Spanish language in the school curriculum, the Philippine government had recognized the growing importance of Spanish as a world language.

Furthermore, the awards body said the teaching of the Spanish language in Philippine schools broadens the scope for political, institutional and economic collaboration with regards to the Spanish language.

The International Don Quijote de la Mancha Award was, established in 2008, and is aimed at giving institutional recognition to the work of candidates of any nationality who contribute most to the international awareness and promotion of Spanish culture and language. (PIA V Release)

PGMA’s foreign travels reaped P500B investments, trade & grants, Palace says

MANILA — Malacañang said Thursday (April 15) the travel expenses incurred by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from 2007 to 2008 reaped P500 billion in investments, grants and trade from the countries she visited.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar said in a briefing that “we certainly don’t claim all the credit for that, but it seems clear that this kind of return is not bad.”

From 2009 onwards, the President’s travel expenses reached P921 million.

Olivar also said that contrary to some critics that “public finances are nearing final collapse, this is not the view of ratings agencies like Moody’s Investors Services—which do not have hidden agendas and are paid to be dispassionate. We enjoyed most recently a full letter upgrade from Moody’s with stable outlook which should comfort foreign lenders and investors who are risking their money precisely on the fiscal health of the country.”

Moody’s gave the Philippines a Ba3 rating while other rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s gave the country a BB-rating, the same as Indonesia, and Fitch Ratings gave a BB rating.

The President’s achievement of maintaining positive economic growth throughout the global recession and getting rating upgrades during the period certainly came with a price like allowing the budget deficit to reach P298.5 billion by implementing stimulus spending worth P330 million and other social safety nets last year, he stated.

“But the cost was worth it if we look at the benefits generated: billions of pesos in interest savings, together with greater liquidity from more borrowing availability, due to higher credit ratings, jobs and livelihoods that were kept afloat by positive growth no matter how small, rather than negative, and millions of poor families who were protected from the worst of the recession by government’s social spending,” Olivar said. (PIA V Release)

PGMA orders LGUs to promote law on persons with disability

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed Republic Act 10070, a law establishing the institutional mechanism to ensure the implementation of programs and services for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in every province, city and municipality, as envisioned by RA 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

The law, signed last April 6, promotes the creation of organizations of PWDs in their respective territorial jurisdictions.

National agencies and local government units may enter into joint ventures with organizations or associations of PWDs to explore livelihood opportunities and other undertakings that shall enhance the health, physical fitness and economic and social well-being of PWDs.

The law mandates the creation of Persons with Disability Affairs Office [PDAO] in every province, city and municipality with the local chief executive appointing a PWD affairs officer to manage and oversee the operations of the office. Priority shall be given to a qualified PWD to head and man the office in carrying out the following functions:

1. Formulate and implement policies, plans and programs for the promotion of the welfare of PWDs in coordination with concerned national and local government agencies.

2. Coordinate the implementation of this Act, Batas Pambansa Blg. 344 or the Accessibility Law and other relevant laws at the local level.

3. Represent PWDs in meetings of local development councils and other special bodies.

4. Recommend and enjoin the participation of NGOs and people’s organizations (POs)in the implementation of disability-related laws and policies.

5. Gather and compile relevant data on PWDs in their localities.

6. Disseminate information including programs and activities for PWDs, statistics on PWDs, including children with disability and training and employment opportunities for PWDs.

7. Submit reports to the office of the local chief executive on the implementation of programs and services for the promotion of the welfare of PWDs in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

8. Ensure that the policies, plans and programs for the promotion of the welfare of PWDs are funded by both the national and local government.

9. Monitor fundraising activities being conducted for the benefit of PWDs.

10. Seek donations in cash or kind from local or foreign donors to implement an approved work plan for PWDs in accordance with existing laws and regulations.

11. Perform such other functions as may be necessary for the promotion and protection of the welfare of PWDs.

Within three years from the effectivity of this Act, appropriate agencies headed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, in consultation with the National Council on Disability Affairs and other relevant NGOs and POs shall review the implementation and recommend to Congress the need to mandate the establishment of a PDAO in 4th, 5th , and 6th class municipalities.

The national government, through the DSWD, shall ensure that the annual budget includes provisions to fund programs and provide support to PWDs.

Local governments shall ensure that the necessary funds from any available local revenue are allocated for the implementation of this Act for the benefit of PWDs. (PIA V Release)

BIR exceeds 1st quarter collection target

MANILA — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has exceeded its collection target for the first quarter of the year by P14.6 billion or 9.27 percent.

BIR Commissioner Joel Tan-Torres said that from January to March, BIR’s income tax collection reached P172 billion, higher than its target of P157.7 billion.

“We are off to a good start. We have exceeded the collection target for the past three months of the year,” Tan-Torres said in a news conference in Malacañang this afternoon.

He attributed the feat to the continued support of the taxpayers and the efforts of the BIR in enhancing taxpayers’ service and enforcement and collection strategies.

The last time the BIR exceeded annual collection target was in 2003.

“If we continue this, it will benefit all of us. The deficit will be better managed. We would be able to borrow less. We’ll have more funds for developmental needs,” Tan-Torres said. (PIA V Release)

No martial law in Basilan -- Malacañang

MANILA — Malacañang scoffed Thursday (April 15) at proposals to declare martial law in Basilan in the aftermath of recent bomb attacks from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Isabela City.

“The level of concern that we should have over what is happening in Basilan does not rise to a level that would warrant a serious consideration of martial law for the time being,” Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Gary Olivar said in a press briefing today.

Olivar indicated that the siege of Isabela City by the ASG could not be compared with the situation on Maguindanao, which was briefly placed under martial law following the November 23, 2009 massacre of 57 people, mostly journalists.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad has asked President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to “suspend some civil liberties and to declare martial law” after the ASG attacks that left 15 people dead and dozen others wounded.

Olivar said that if there were serious proposals to declare martial law, the security authorities will study it before recommending it to President Arroyo. “I am not aware of moves to review that possibility” he added.

The government has already mobilized the anti-terrorism task force and dispatched more troops to Basilan to go after the ASG. (PIA V Release)