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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

THE Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) full council meeting held May 26 at NEDA Conference hall in Arimbay, Legazpi City was headed by Chairman and Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda (3rd from left) with Romeo C. Escandor (left to right), Co-chairman Fr. Joey V. Casas and Luis G. Banua, secretary. (Alex Cal/PIA)
RDC Chairman Gov. Salceda (center), awards Plaque of Recognition for exemplary services to former Governor Dr. Jose S. Estevez (left), and RD Romeo Escandor (right) during Council’s 2nd Quarter meeting held at NEDA regional office V, Arimbay Legazpi City. (Alex Cal/PIA)
ARRIVAL honors given for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at Pili Airport (Cam.Sur) with Commanding Gen. Pabustan during the former’s trip in Bicol Region. (Alex Cal/PIA))

Friday, May 28, 2010


SAN PASCUAL, Burias Island, Masbate — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inaugurated Thursday (May 27) a new strategically-located RoRo (roll-on-roll-off) port here during her visit to this town.

The P46.3 million RoRo port here, conceptualized as a “bridge between Luzon and the Visayas,” was completed last year but blessing and inauguration was held when the President set foot in this remote town for the first time yesterday..

President Arroyo was the second president to visit this town, after her father President Diosdado Macapagal, who was here on December 28, 1962.

The construction of the port was supervised by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) under the Strong Republic Central Philippines Nautical Highway program of the President.

San Pascual, is bordered by Camarines Sur in the north, Albay in the east, Bundok Peninsula of Quezon in northwest, and Sibuyan Island of Romblon and Ticao Island of Masbate in the south.

This town is 3rd class municipality with an annual income of P63.7 million in 2009, produces copra, cattle, hogs, goats and fish products. It is located at the northernmost tip of Burias Island, one of the islands that make up Masbate province. It is has 22 barangays with a population of 41,736.

"We are very happy that the President visited us even if we are just a small municipality in this island of Masbate," San Pascual Mayor Zacarina Lazaro said.

The new port can accommodate bigger cargo and passenger vessels passing through routes to and from Quezon, Masbate, Romblon, Cebu and Davao.

The upgraded port facilities include a (9m x 11m) RoRo ramp, (6m x 7m) trestle deck and two (2) sets of 9-pile breasting dolphin. The port also is a safe docking port for cargo vessels during tropical storms.

With this port's strategic position, Lazaro said trade and commerce in and around the province will be significantly enhanced, with the benefits seen to trickle down directly to the municipality and its people.

"It opens bigger trade market for us as we can now easily bring our products to Camarines Sur, Quezon, Romblon, Cebu, General Santos in Davao and some other provinces in Visayas and Mindanao'" Lazaro said.

Lazaro also said the port will boost local tourism as San Pascual has numerous tourist spots like Sumbrero Island and Tinalisayan Island which are inhabited by green sea turtle or pawikans. (MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Regional Development Council (RDC) in Bicol has officially endorsed Wednesday (May 26) the Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi (GUICADALE) platform project as one of the major priority measures to pursue development in Albay province.

Bicol RDC Chairman and Albay Governor Joey Salceda stated that the proposed project will consist of circumferential road and new arterial roads cascading from the urban center of Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga Jovellar towns and, Legazpi City.

Salceda averred that the project was designed to encourage economic activities safe from the threats posed by Mayon Volcano eruptions, lahar flows, flooding and tsunamis.

The project, according to him, will eventually realize the goal to establish Metro Albay comprised of Mega Daraga, and Metro Legazpi.

Salceda furthered that the road network project, when completed, will provide easy and efficient access to the Bicol International Airport, new economic investment opportunities, increased farm income through reduced transport costs, improved living condition through efficient access to health and welfare facilities, linkage of agricultural areas to the market centers and integration of the economies of Albay and Sorsogon provinces.

“Areas within the periphery of the road network will also provide safer relocation sites for communities displaced and threatened by typhoons, flood, volcano eruption and tsunamis,” he added.

The project will consist of 17 road sections, wherein 11 sectors will comprise the circumferential road and six are arterial roads, involving new road opening and improvement of existing ones with a total length of 109.3 kilometers.

Salceda said that the project will cost some P854.2 million, with funding requirement for local roads and barangay roads amounting to P739.5 million, while for the national roads is P114.7 million.

“It will benefit a total population of 187,314 covering the municipalities of GUICADALE,” Salceda added.

The GUICADALE project is consistent with the Regional Physical Framework Plan in terms of land use, settlement and infrastructure planning.

The provincial government of Albay has completed the feasibility study of the project in July 2008.

The economic internal rate of return of the project is estimated at 23.65 percent while the net present value is P872.54 million. (MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Provincial Health Office (PHO) in Albay are now monitoring and preparing for possible outbreaks of flu and other diseases in time for the opening of classes in June.

Albay Schools Division Superintendent Epifanio Buela he has directed all heads of public elementary and high schools here to ensure the cleanliness of their respective schools and surroundings.

Buela said that while sanitation should perk-up weeks before schools open, students, on the other hand, will be taught the proper hygiene during the first week of school year.

He added that the DepEd will make sure that classrooms and school facilities as well as the vicinity are mosquito-free.

He further said that teachers and parents should also keep watch of students who show signs of flu and fever.

Dr. Luis Mendoza, Albay provincial health officer, meanwhile, stressed that PHO has been on watch for possible illness outbreaks, including dengue hemorrhagic fever and possible second wave of Influenza A H1N1.

Mendoza has warned the public to be wary of dengue noting that there are so far 308 cases, with 3 deaths in Camarines Sur recently, recorded from January to May, this year, across Bicol.

Dengue is caused by day-biting mosquitoes while cholera is transmitted through eating of food and drinking of water contaminated with human waste. Both diseases could prove fatal to students and adults alike.

Albay PHO has also released an advisory on different water and food borne diseases in time for the school opening.

Mendoza said that the public should exercise utmost vigilance by making sure that their water and food are clean.

Mendoza noted further that Influenza A H1N1 which hit many countries in the world in 2009, including the Philippines, is as good as gone but there is actually still much that needs to be done in order to prevent another outbreak

He said that the illness is communicable and that students, especially those who had spent their vacation abroad with cases of Influenza A, can be carriers of the virus.

The health office has advised the frequent washing of hands, proper hygiene and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus. (MALoterte, PIA V)


LEGAZPI CITY— Science and Technology Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro has visited three provinces in Bicol last week for a three-day road show of the agency’s milestone programs and projects science and technology research and delivery services in the region.

Albastro led the team of national and regional officials of DOST in the visit and assessment for possible intervention of the government in DOST-assisted programs and projects including the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP), Farmers’ Information Technology Service (FITS) Centers, the S&T information outlets under the Techno-Gabay Program of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCARRD).

The Secretary went to see the project “Upgrading of Furniture Production” of A. Teves Enterprises in Barangay Calatagan of Virac, Catanduanes showcasing a micro-enterprise that adopted improved processes in furniture making and has capabilities to craft furniture with designs based on client specifications.

The team also met with Catanduanes Governor Joseph C. Cua, who relentlessly pursued the rehabilitation and development of the abaca industry in the province.

The team also dropped by the FITS Center at the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) within the provincial capitol compound.

In Barangay San Lorenzo, Baras town, Alabastro has inspected the DOST SET-UP assisted firm for “Abaca Pinukpok Project” held a dialogue with the cooperators/weavers. The cooperative managing the project has been for long a beneficiary of the agency’s programs pertaining to trainings, material dyeing and product quality development.

The team proceeded from Baras side tripping to PAGASA Radar Station in Barangay Bagumbayan in the municipality of Bato.

The Secretary’s next stop was Masbate province visiting the facilities and led an interfacing with the personnel of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa).

Alabastro met with Dr. Victor Soliman, project leader of BUTC and cooperator of “Resource Assessment of Scallops” in Asid Gulf Area in Barangay Cawayan, Masbate.

In this project, DOST is the local government units of Cawayan and other localities within Asid Gulf in generating scientific basis for the sustained exploitation and management of scallops through various entrepreneurial skills training and post-harvest processing that will later initiate the establishment of viable livelihood projects in the community.

In Masbate, the team also visited the FITS project in the municipality of Uson, two SET-UP assisted projects, namely “Mechanizing Production and Upgrading Quality of Driftwood Products” of J. Woodcrafts in Dimasalang town which availed of technology upgrading assistance in the production of innovative furniture items from wood stumps of left-over tree cuttings; and “Upgrading and Diversification of Salubre Food Products” of Salubre Processed Foods in Masbate City, wherein the agency assisted the venture through acquisition of food processing equipment for their assorted food products.

Alabastro’s visit in Sorsogon province led the team to the project “Improving Safety Equipment for Street Food” and SET-UP project “Improving Quality of Handicrafts” of Galoso Handicraft, both in Sorsogon City. (POLucena, DOSTV/ PIA)

By Maj. Eugenio Julio C. Osias IV

MANILA —The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has reaffirmed its commitment and determination to protect the rights and dignity of children in the wake of the implications of the armed conflict in several areas in the country.

Brigadier General Francisco N Cruz Jr., commander of the AFP Civil Relations Service emphasized that this commitment is tangible in the sets of policies, guidelines and directives that substantially enforce Republic Act 7610 or the “Act Providing Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination” and RA 9344, otherwise known as the “Juvenile Justice Welfare Act”.

AFP is one of the signatories to the Memorandum on Agreement (MOA) on the Handling and Treatment of Children Involved in Armed Conflict where among its duties is to “rescue or facilitate the surrender of children involved in armed conflict and shall report within 24 hours of such rescue or surrender to the Dept of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office and/or to the local chief executive”.

Other signatories of the MOA are the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Dept. of National Defense (DND), Dept of Health (DOH), Dept of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP), National Program for the Unification and Development Council (NPUDC), and Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Among the AFP’s first priority is to prevent recruitment of child combatants. We complement the child protection laws with our own operations and guidelines to facilitate the rescue of these children; and we cooperate with other government agencies and organizations to trace these child combatants’ families or guardians, and in finding the best solutions congenial to their rehabilitation, needs, and development,” Cruz said.

The MOA has been translated by the AFP into standard operating procedures for its troops on the ground where certain steps are strictly followed. The most immediate action of which is to provide medical treatment to children wounded in the firefight, including psychological treatment when necessary. The AFP is also tasked “to protect the child from further exploitation and trauma,” as well as “to provide the child with subsistence and other basic needs while in custody.”

DSWD records show that from year 2000-2006, it has served 925 child combatants turned over by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Of this figure, four children belong in the age bracket of 0-4 years old; while most of the children rescued, numbering up to 256, belong to the age bracket of six to twelve years old. DSWD defines that children involved in armed conflict are “those who are direct or indirect participants to armed hostilities either as combatants, guides, couriers, spies, medical aide, and cooks, among others.

“Through the years, we have been fulfilling our side when it comes to children involved in the armed conflict. There may be debriefings of the child rescued but these are done in the presence of a DSWD representative, and which intends to help the child cope with his/her situation. The UN report citing AFP as violator of children’s right seemed inaccurate and without sufficient basis”, Cruz said.

Included in child combatants turned-over by the AFP to the DSWD are the three boys (ages 14, 15, and 16) who were sent by the CPP-NPA on a test mission to assassinate an entire family of a former rebel on August 27, 2006 in Brgy Agutaya, San Vicente, Palawan.

For 2009, a total of 23 teenagers, the youngest being and the oldest 19, were accounted to have been recruited by the New People’s Army. From the 23, 14 voluntarily surrendered, eight (8) were captured in military operations; while one (1) unfortunately died in encounters. While for the first quarter of 2010, at least four (4) child combatants have been accounted.

The strongest military operations are directed against the CPP-NPA as a persistent violator. This has also been consistently listed in the UN Secretary General’s reports that the CPP-NPA has “shamelessly defied the Security Council by using children as soldiers”. The reports were issued in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, and on 2009. No reports were issued on 2004 and 2008.

“The enemies of the state have been recruiting child combatants to replenish their dwindling strength. The NPAs especially, are the number one recruiter of child warriors due to its difficulty recruiting from the older youth and peasants. This is desperate on their part. The minors are deceived into joining the rebel movement and later on given military tasks like participating in ambushes and extortion. The only way to end this practice is to end armed struggle by addressing their root causes like injustice, ignorance, deprivation and poverty,” expresses BGen Cruz.

The AFP once again exhorts all stakeholders, particularly the LGUs to work hand-in-hand with the military to solve the problem, “The military cannot do it alone. The AFP can only address its symptoms like terrorism and violence and protect communities. The strategy must be holistic, comprehensive with all elements of national power tapped. Counterinsurgency must be a priority of government. And effective governance, local and national, must prevail. Most LGUs are beginning to take active role in suppressing insurgency in their areas. We hope the newly elected local executives will do their part,” concluded Cruz. (CRSAFP/PIA/mal)

By Danny O. Calleja

VIRAC, Catanduanes — Outgoing Rep. Joseph Santiago of the lone district of this abaca-rich island province has cited the Spanish government for its P30 million grant for the building up of the Philippines’ abaca industry that he said remains an enormous potential driver of economic growth in the countryside.

Abaca (Musa textilis Nee) or Manila hemp, a fiber crop indigenous to the Philippines, as a main source of strong natural fibers for domestic and international markets, brings an annual US$ .6 million to the country.

The fund assistance released late last year to the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) by the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para Desarollo (AECID), was used for the acquisition of mechanized abaca-stripping machines as part of the aggressive abaca development program being undertaken by the government.

The amount covers this province, noted as the “abaca capital of the Philippines,” and Caraga, also a promising abaca producing region in Mindanao.

Out of the grant, nine of Catanduanes’ abaca-producing municipalities initially receive one unit each of the machine, Santiago said.

"The mechanized stripping of abaca allows us to increase daily fiber output 10 to 20 times compared to what we produce from manual peeling," Santiago who would vacate his congressional seat on June 30 after completing a nine-year term said.

He ran for governor of the province but lost to incumbent Gov. Joseph Cua.

To fully develop the abaca industry, Santiago stressed the need to exploit all possible commercial uses of the plant's fiber, and enlarge its domestic as well as export markets.

Some 136,000 hectares nationwide are planted to abaca. Over 82,000 farmers directly subsist on abaca production. Annually, they produce some 70,000 metric tons of fiber, of which about 25 percent is shipped abroad, according to the FIDA.

Catanduanes is the country's largest producer of abaca, accounting for 20 percent of national output. Abaca provides livelihood to some 23,500 farmers in the province, where around 23,600 hectares are devoted to growing the plant.

FIDA said the production, however, dwindled to only 8,646 metric tons in January to May 2009 because of the series of typhoons that hit the province and the effects of plant diseases.
With the spread of two main viruses, abaca mosaic and abaca bunchy top, that inhibit growth, weaken the fibers, and result in profit loss among small abaca farmers.

The FIDA however in coordination with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Biotechnology Program Implementation Unit (BPIU), all attached agencies of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been making use of the expertise of abaca experts in genetically engineering an abaca plant that are resistant to these diseases.

Former Department of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has approved a budget for this project before he left the Department to run for congressman unchallenged in Bohol.

Dr. Vermando Aquino of the UP-Diliman (UPD) National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB) and Dr. Evalour Aspuria of the UP- Los Banos (UPLB) Department of Horticulture are into the project that was started in January this year and would be completed by 2011.

According to Aquino, who has been studying the abaca bunchy-top virus (ABTV) since 1997, he and Dr. Aspuria are working on isolating genes from the pathogens and inserting them directly into the abaca’s DNA.

Once the genes are “expressed” by the abaca, the abaca will likely resist infection.
Even with the reduced production, however, Catanduanes remains the country’s top abaca-producing province, the FIDA said.

After Catanduanes, the other top producers are Southern Leyte, Leyte, Davao Oriental, Northern Samar, Davao del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Samar, Sulu, and Sorsogon.

Abaca is a species of banana native to the Philippines and cultivated in 26 provinces in Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao.

The abaca plant grows 20 feet tall and is harvested mainly for its large leaves and stems that produce natural fiber.

Used to make twines, ropes and carpets, abaca fiber also has multiple applications as raw material for various functional and decorative products.

The fiber is used in clothing material and handicraft like bags and baskets. The pulp is processed into tea bags, coffee filter, vacuum cleaner bags, currency notes and other specialty paper.

Abaca-based furniture and fixtures -- from settees to lounge chairs, from dividers to coffee tables, and from sofas to loveseats -- are also widely recognized for their elegance in Europe and North America.

Studies have likewise identified abaca enzymes for use in high-value cosmetic and dietary products. (PNA Bicol)


DAET, Camarines Norte — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provincial office here has intensified its monitoring of prices of school supplies in preparation for the opening of classes on June 15.

DTI Camarines Norte chief Ernesto Pardo said that the agency’s monitoring team is staging a weekly check of basic commodities, adding recently the prices of school supplies like pad paper, notebooks, ball pens, pencils and crayons, among others to prevent unreasonable increase in the prices of the said supplies.

He said that recent monitoring of prices of school supplies remains normal based on the suggested retail price (SRP) implemented by the DTI.

“The prices of school supplies, however, may vary depending on the brand of the commodity,” he said.

Pardo has urged consumers to canvass the prices before buying for them to budget their money. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


MANILA — Malacanang on Thursday (May 27) said the country's economic growth in the first quarter reflects the sound economic policies that the Arroyo administration initiated in the past nine years.

"We see the strong growth as benefiting from the sound economic management we had in place for years," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Ricardo Saludo said in a regular press briefing.

Latest data from the National Economic and Development Authority show that the Philippines' gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.3 percent in the first quarter, from 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2009. This is the highest in 30 years.

"We see this as a sign that confidence remains strong. This really underlines the sound management that allows you to maintain a strong growth overall," he said.

The NEDA said the uptick was attributed to the improvement in the global economy, brighter economic outlook, increased business and consumer confidence, and election-related spending. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — This year’s 112th Independence Day celebration on June 12 will restore the pomp and significance of the civic-military parade at the Rizal Park Grandstand (Luneta) in Manila.

“For the last two years, we have been focusing on major programs and projects of the government and did away with the usual civic military parade. This time, we are returning the parade to showcase the achievements of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo especially before she bows out on June 30,” said Ludovico Badoy, executive director of the National Historical Institute (NHI), which was designated the lead agency for this year’s Independence Day celebration.

This year’s parade will feature 10 floats highlighting the 10-point agenda during the nine-year term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. An eleventh float will honor the country’s modern-day heroes, particularly those who have made names for themselves here and abroad in their respective fields of endeavor.

Badoy will flesh out the details for the Independence Day celebration and the coming Flag Awareness Day on May 28 during this afternoon’s meeting of the Technical Working Group, which he chairs.

The Independence Day festivities will be launched on May 28, with Education Secretary Mona Valisno as the guest of honor and speaker in an event in Cavite City to commemorate the Battle of Alapan where the Philippine flag was first hoisted at Teatro Caviteno by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898.

Flag will be simultaneous raised nationwide at 8 a.m. To give homage to the flag, NHI will ensure that the Philippine flags are prominently placed in all major thoroughfares.

Badoy also urged both the public and the private sectors to proudly display the flag not just outside their offices but also outside their homes.

On Independence Day, “we expect the President to be there at 6:45 a.m. and lead the flag raising simultaneously with other local government officials all over the country,” Badoy added.

There will be the usual simultaneous flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies at 7 a.m. at the Rizal monument.

The parade will take place in the afternoon. There will be a fireworks display immediately after the parade.

To help Metro Manila residents celebrate Independence Day , the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) may give free train rides (for rapid transit systems like MRT-2, MRT-3 and Light Rail Transit). (PIA V Release)


MANILA — The government may now allocate for use in disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation projects un-programmed funds in the 2010 budget following the approval of borrowings from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank (WB) that will form part of the additional revenues required in the budget law.

Presidential Spokesman Secretary Ricardo Saludo said Thursday (May 27) during a Malacañang press briefing that the foreign funding commitments that will come in the form of soft or concession al loans will now “unlock” un-programmed funds in the 2010 budget for use in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, flood control and other facilities and services as the country recovers from the destruction for the past two years caused storms Frank, Ondoy and Pepeng.

Saludo, who is also secretary general of the Special National Public-Private Reconstruction Commission (SNPPRC) created by President Arroyo, said JICA released last month P3.5 billion in concessional loans and the World Bank board approved last week another $258 million also with soft terms, to assist the Philippine reconstruction efforts

“These foreign loans will help us unlock the un-programmed funds in the 2010 budget so we can push ahead with our reconstruction and rehabilitation programs and in the process prepare the country for the coming rainy season,” said Saludo

In the 2010 General Appropriation Act, Congress offered the un-programmed funds for reconstruction on the condition that the government must put up additional revenues which could include domestic and foreign borrowings.

Saludo said the SNPPRC, in partnership with the private sector–led Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) headed by Manuel Pangilinan, have already spent P8 billion for reconstruction and recovery, coming from the realigned budgets of several agencies pending the release of the 2010 budget for reconstruction.

“We are grateful to some of the agencies which have realigned some of their funds to get the reconstruction and recovery programs going even before the actual funds in the budget are released,” Saludo said.

Just recently, some P600 million were released for typhoon Frank projects in Panay Islands. Again these are funds that are not yet part of the reconstruction budget allocation. These came from existing budgets that could be used for reconstruction.

The borrowings from JICA will be for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the reconstruction of infrastructure (roads, bridges and others) and upgrading of flood control systems. ‘We need to prepare these flood control systems for the coming rains this July,” Saludo said.

Finally he said that the $258 million loan from the World Bank will also “help us use the un-programmed funds in the budget.”

Agencies deemed to be given funds from the P0 billion reconstruction funds are Department of Education (DepED) for classroom reconstruction; Department of Health (DoH) for hospital rehabilitation; more infrastructure and flood control works for the DPWH; relocation of evacuees and people living along waterways for the National Housing Authority (NHA) and finally, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its continued recovery assistance to flood victims and shelter assistance for those who lost their houses. .

The 2011 budget also contained provisions for additional reconstruction funds as indicated in a national budget call last May 17 and Item 2.3 of the National Budget Memorandum which specifies: “recovery and reconstruction projects with the objective of building back better and implement quality improvements, disaster resilience and climate change adaptation given the damage and losses inflicted by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.” (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has exceeded the combined accomplishments of three past presidents in the country in terms of infrastructure projects.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Victor Domingo said during Monday's formal inauguration of the P330 million Bitnung-Belance road project in Barangay Belance Dupax Del Norte, Nueva Viscaya, President Arroyo has built more bridges and roads than the combined infrastructure projects of former presidents Joseph Estrada, Fidel Ramos and Cory Aquino.

“They only achieved 34,000–kilometer roads and bridges but President Arroyo has accomplished 47,595 kilometers already,” Domingo said.

After a private lunch with provincial officials, the President was accompanied by Representative Carlos Padilla, Governor Luisa Cuaresma, Mayor Antonio Palugod, Bishop Ramon Villena and Secretary Domingo in barangay Belance for the inauguration.

According to Domingo, the 13.194–kilometer Bitnung-Belance road project which is intended primarily for poor farmers to make their transportation easier and faster will also trigger economic interactions in three urban municipalities of the province such as Bambang, Bayombong and Solano.

He also said that the road project is expected to be extended to link Aurora province to Nueva Vizcaya, where upland farmers can bring their agricultural products in the Aurora Export Processing Zone (AEPZ).

“The agricultural products of Nueva Vizcaya will also go to the provinces of Aurora and Quirino,” Domingo said.

The road project was started in November 6, 2008 after it was committed in that same year by President Arroyo in her visit to the 68th birthday of Bishop Villena in Barangay Belance.

Used by upland indigenous farmers in transporting their products, the project was funded under the General Appropriations Act-Regular Infrastructure Program (GAA-RIP).

It went into three construction phases with concreting of 5.22 kilometers in 2008 with P130 million, asphalting of 3.242 kilometer road with P100 million and the asphalting of 4.732 kilometer road with P100 million. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Despite concerns over “Jejemon”, or text messaging that distorts the use of English language and spelling, the Department of Education (DepEd) is not inclined to ban its practice among schoolchildren.

Education Secretary Mona Valisno said during a press briefing in Malacanang that instead of resorting to a policy banning “jejemon”, she just called the attention of the teachers on the need to inculcate proper values, including communication skills on the young as these are necessary for them in high school and even college.

“We want to maintain our dominance in communication skills, which has made our country very attractive to investors in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector because our people have very good communication skills and are easily trainable,” Valisno said.

“But I will not go to the extent of banning it in elementary schools or high schools. I am just urging the teachers to ensure that proper communication skills and values are continuously imparted to the students. We do not need to issue a memorandum or impose penalty for such practice,” Valisno stressed.

“I only became aware of ‘jejemon’ from media. I only order the teachers not to allow wrong English, wrong spelling and wrong grammar. Even when my grandchildren text me in wrong grammar or wrong spelling, I never reply,” Valisno said.

“We would like to encourage our children to text in the correct way, correct construction of sentence, correct English, grammar and spelling because they would need this practice in their higher years,” Valisno said.

“Practice makes perfect. So if you resort to wrong practice, then the outcome is also wrong. Just like in piano if you resort to wrong finger dexterity, you can’t correct that anymore,” Valisno added.

Meanwhile, Valisno said with the bigger population, the expected school enrollment this year will increase to 23.43 million, with about 20.17 million in public schools and 3.26 million in the private schools.

We will do all we can to accommodate all of them in school but we can not refuse anyone who come to our public school system, Valisno stated.

Valisno said they are also strictly monitoring public schools that are exacting or collecting contributions from the students or their parents, adding “we will also not tolerate mandatory school uniforms and books.” (PIA V Release)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


DAET, Camarines Norte — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been doing rounds in several localities, particularly among schools, in the Bicol region recently to ensure the administration’s thrust on super regions, three E’s are bringing in development to improve the quality of life of the people.

The President, who recently visited the Camarines Norte State College (CNSC) Entienza Campus in Barangay Tabugon of Sta. Elena town, Camarines Norte, stressed in her speech that she will continue her active governance until the end of her term on June 30.

President Arroyo said that she will continue to pursue her administration major thrusts on the regional development, the three E’s (Education, Economy and Environment) for sustainable development, and youth development preparing them as the next leaders and future of our country.

She furthered that under the super regions projects, Bicol Region grows in terms of its tourism industry, citing the development of Bagasbas Beach here which possess potentials similar to Boracay.

The President lauded CNSC President Winefredo Oñate and other local officials for the establishment of the college’s campus in Sta. Elena, “Hindi na kailangan pang pumunta ng bayan ng Daet ang mga mag-aaral upang makapag-aral ng kolehiyo”.she said.

She said that the school now offers courses on Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship and Bachelor of Science in Education.

CNSC is the main public college in the province with its main campus located in the capital town of Daet, with four other campuses in the municipalities of Mercedes, Jose Panganiban, Labo and Sta. Elena. All campuses are strategically located in various localities of the province to cater to most number of students.

CNSC Entienza Campus started its operation in July 2, 2007 with less than a hundred first year students. For this school year, the school will be able to serve 141 students including their first batch of graduates.

Also present during the activity were Governor Edgardo Tallado, Congressmen-elect Renato Unico and Elmer Panotes, CHED representative Manuel Mendoza, PNP Provincial Director Pierre Bucsit and AFP 902nd IB Col. Teodoro Cirili Torralba III. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


PILI, Camarines Sur — Some 1,600 square meters of land has been apportioned by Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) here as pilot site for the propagation of biotech eggplant here.

Dr. Dulce Mostoles, CBSUA’s research professor and one of the facilitators during a biotechnology workshop and study tour conducted here recently, gladly stated that “this is the university’s response to our farmer’s clamour for a better alternative to traditional control methods.”

Farmers suffer a yield loss of more than 50 percent every crop season, excluding the health and environmental hazard that they are facing due to frequent spraying just to get rid of eggplant pest and disease problems, particularly the harmful and most destructive pests in the Philippines and other Asian countries - the fruit and shoot borer, commonly called FSB.

Every year, eggplant production suffers a detrimental setback in terms of crop harvest due to a wide-scale infestation caused by FSB.

Dr. Diseree M. Hautea, Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSP II) regional coordinator and product manager, has been working on developing a biotech eggplant which would solve the unending plight of farmers for an FSB-resistant eggplant.

“Eggplant yield losses from 51- 73 percent due to FSB have been reported in the country. We need to develop a biotech eggplant since conventional breeding method is difficult due to sexual incompatibility and we have no sources of resistance in commercial varieties.”

FSB poses great danger to farmer’s potential yields since its larvae or caterpillars feed on eggplant’s leaves and tunnel inside shoots, causing the shoots to break or wilt. Once invaded by FSB, the maturing fruits will eventually become inedible and unfit for market, thus contributes to the production loss of the eggplant farmers.

As to the question if f BT eggplant is safe for human consumption, Hautea has assured the public that before the FSBR or Fruit and Shoot Borer-Resistant eggplant is approved for commercial use, scientists and regulators ensure that it passes through many tests and safety assessments.

“Currently, the biotech eggplant is not yet commercially available. It is still under the multi-location field trials. Various tests are continually being done to ensure safety and performance of the product.”

Approved pilot sites include Pangasinan, UPLB Extension Farm in Laguna, Sta. Barbara in Iloilo , Visayas State University in Leyte, UP Mindanao in Davao City , Cotabato and the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) here in Camarines Sur.

Eggplants are widely grown in most parts of the country and considered as one of the leading vegetable crops in terms of area and volume of production. It is a good source of vitamins, fibers and minerals. (LSMacatangay, PIA CamSur)


DAET, Camarines Norte — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) District 64 is gearing up for zonal valuations in this province.

BIR Camarines Norte District Officer Marcelino M. Quito said that as a start the agency conducted a series of conference for the sub-technical committee, composed of municipal and provincial assessors and private appraisers.

Quito said that in the meetings the project will prioritize the conduct zonal valuations in the different streets and zones of the different barangays across the province.

He explained that a zonal valuation is an evaluation of value and amount of land in streets, zones in the different barangays, and municipalities in a province.

Another meeting has been set for the final zonal valuations of the sub-technical committee to agree on the amount of land to be followed by a hearing this coming June, he said.

He cited that the final zonal valuations will be submitted to the Regional Technical Committee of the BIR then to the Executive Committee of the BIR, Department of Finance (DOF) for the final approval and a publication to the gazettes before its implementation. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Provincial Health Office (PHO) in Albay has urged barangay officials to strictly enforce the ordinance on rabies prevention and control in their respective areas to free the province from rabies, particularly those inflicted by stray dogs.

Francis Daisy Ardales, Albay PHO nurse coordinator, said that the role of barangay officials is very important not only in monitoring but also in ensuring respective areas free from rabies.

PHO has also reiterated its call for a responsible dog owner.

Ardales bared Albay has recorded 1,269 dog bites, with three cases of death in human caused by the dreaded virus from January to April, this year.
In 2009, PHO also recorded four human fatalities and 3,711 dog bites, which according to Ardales, the number is very high.

Aside from dog vaccination, PHO is set to conduct training for “Tandok-Tambal” healers.

Ardales said that “Tambal-Tandok healers” will be trained on how to administer first aid to victims of dog bites. “However, immediately after providing first aid the patient should be referred to health facility for proper treatment.”

She said that strict implementation of vaccination and responsible pet ownership remains the best ways to eliminate rabies in the province rather than castration of canines.

Albay veterinarian Dr. Jose Losa was pushing for castration of dogs. “This is to control dog population.”

Losa said the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) will conduct mass castration of canines in every barangay to reduce the dog population and stray dogs in the province.

Losa also shared the same views with Ms. Ardales, saying that responsible pet ownership is still a big factor to stop cases of rabies. (MDRama, PNA Bicol)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol has officially declared this year’s Saringaya Awards program open to Bicolanos for nominations.

DENR Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus E. Fragada bared he has earlier ordered all operating units of the DENR Bicol identify potential nominees that may be cited for the award in their respective areas of responsibility.

Fragada explained that the Saringaya Award is given to industries, non-government organizations, peoples organizations, local government units, groups or associations, other government agencies, academe and other entities in Bicol region who, as group, corporate body or individuals have supported DENR Bicol through the establishment and implementation of program towards protection, conservation and safety of the environment.

The Saringaya Awards program has since 2000 been recognizing individuals and groups who have contributed to the protection, preservation, rehabilitation and conservation of the Bicol environment.

Saringaya is a Bicol term for abundance of growth, lush, and healthy environment teeming with green trees and mountains ideal for biodiversity and a well balance system.

Saringaya Award, which is in the form of plaque and certificate, is done during the culmination program of the Environment Month celebration in June. (ASAraya, DENR/PIA)


MANILA — Malacañang thanked the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for being appreciative of the efforts exerted by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to uplift the lives of Filipinos through enhancements introduced by her government in the fields of livelihood, infrastructure and economic stability.

Deputy Spokesperson Gary Olivar said aside from the above-mentioned achievements the President is also known for her anti-poverty and quality education advocacy which had been an integral part of her administration's programs and projects since she assumed power.

"We are grateful for the positive comments about the President which were reported from the members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines about her achievements in livelihood protection, infrastructure and macro-economic stability," Olivar said.

"While many bishops criticized her about poverty, Bishop Jaucian commended her anti-poverty program to which we might add that self-rated poverty under the President has come down to its lowest point since the end of the Marcos era or 43 percent last quarter," he added.

The 13-member CBCP cited yesterday the accomplishments of President Arroyo's administration since she became President in 2001.

The CBCP is composed of Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Virgilio David, Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso, Iligan Bishop Elenito Galido, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, Dumaguete Bishop John Du, Batanes Bishop Camilo Gregorio, Bangued Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian, Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad, Palawan Bishop Pedro Arigo, Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros, and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma.

Olivar said that while several bishops criticized her on several occasions including her failure to address environmental issues and illiteracy, there were those who stood up and took notice of her education and scholarship program.

"Other bishops criticized her about illiteracy, but Bishop Domoan praised her scholarship program in his province," Olivar said.

He pointed out that the President "has done more than any of her predecessors in the basic areas of more classrooms, more textbooks, more teacher-training and more scholarships."

He also said that while the President is cognizant about the growing number of Filipinos and how the educational system must be upgraded to be in tune with this reality, "a whole new educational strategy is required which is now being introduced by the Task Force on Philippine Education which she created and it will be the centerpiece of her legislative agenda in the 15th Congress."

On the environment, Olivar noted that the President had already been devoting half a day every Friday to discuss with stakeholders ways and means on how to clean up the environment and through her efforts, the Philippines now "leads the region in the global advocacy against climate change."

According to Olivar another bishop accused the President of destroying the democratic system," but this is nonsense."

"All the coup attempts against her were put down with ordinary powers, the violence of local politicians that is the real threat to grassroots press freedom and democracy was met with limited martial law in Maguindanao and a first time ever commission on private armies, elections were automated, judges are not muzzled, and the press is free enough and ungracious enough to talk even about subjects like her breast implants," Olivar stressed.

"The President may have some personal qualities that some people dislike, including some of the bishops but her record in office speaks loudest for her and will be vindicated by history," Olivar concluded. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stressed that development and economic growth must be alongside environment protection.

In her message at the Lions Club 61st Multiple District Convention over the weekend at the Araneta Coliseum, the President said the theme of the Convention “Move to grow: Responding to Global Climate Change,” is very timely as climate change has become the most pressing issue not only in the country but the whole world.

“Responding to climate change is not an option but a necessity because we are an archipelago,” she said.

The Philippines, according to the Chief Executive is not a climate change maker but a climate change taker since the country’s carbon emission is only 1.6 tons compared to other countries that emit six tons annually.

The country, she further explained is a climate taker because of its geographical location—the western Pacific, where typhoons come from.

The President said all the typhoons that enter Asia enter the Philippines first with full force and fury.

“That is why in Asia, the Philippines is one of the top most vulnerable countries and in the world we are the number nine most vulnerable country to natural disasters,” she said.

Stressing the need to protect the environment, the President said: “We have a moral obligation to the next generations to protect the environment and to mitigate climate change brought not by us but by the abuse of the entire humanity.”

Thus, she said when she became President her priorities included environment protection while lifting the lives of the poor. This can be gleaned from her 10-point pro-poor agenda—BEAT THE ODDS.

Through the Green Philippines program, the President said “we can have a growing economy and we can have a green growing economy—and fighting the effects of climate change.”

“There must be a healthy balance between development and conservation,” she said. The Arroyo administration, she added, came up with landmark environment protection laws such as the Biofuels Act, Renewable Energy Act as well as the creation of a Climate Change Commission among others.

The President said adaptation and mitigation were the important means of the Arroyo administration in fighting climate change or reducing risks and reducing the effects of climate change.

Thus, she urged businesses to be environment-friendly by building environment-friendly buildings with less use of aircon, and buildings with garden roofs.

In agriculture, she said rain water must be saved for irrigation purposes during dry season and for risk reduction, vulnerable residents in risk areas must be relocated. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — The Philippines' competitiveness ranking rose to 39th with a score of 56.525, from 43rd last year, from among the 58 economies included in the World Competitiveness Yearbook released by Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Center.

The 4 notches improvement in the rating is attributed to the government's unwavering effort to maintain the country's economic growth and to address inefficiencies in government.

Competitiveness is the "ability of a nation to create and maintain an environment that sustains more value creation for its enterprises and more prosperity for its people," according to the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), the Swiss-based business school that has been publishing the World Competitiveness study since 1989.

To rank the competitiveness of nations covered, the study takes into account 327 criteria divided into four factors: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.

The country's rank moved upwards because of its economic performance and government efficiency. Under economic performance, the country saw developments in international trade, domestic economy and employment.

As for government efficiency, the study revealed that the Philippines improved in the areas of public finance and fiscal policy.

The country still fared low in business efficiency, mitigating corruption and infrastructure, the study pointed out. Other local government units should follow the simplified registration and licensing procedures to attract more investors. Infrastructure projects must be designed for competitiveness.

The report said that for 2010, the Philippines has to hurdle challenges like applying the rule of law and restoring faith in public institutions, ensuring food and energy security, planning for natural disasters and climate change, providing entrepreneurial opportunities, jobs, skills training and education in the countryside, and addressing migration into cities and configuring urban areas appropriately.

The country's competitiveness rank may not be that which it is aiming for but it is definitely better than that of last year. The fact that is an improvement to that of last year must be enough assurance that the country is on the right track. With a little more cooperation among all stakeholders, not only the government, the country will achieve the ranking it is aspiring for in terms of competitiveness. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malacanang spokesman Secretary Ricardo Saludo called on the people to be circumspect and not lose faith in the country’s resolve to modernize its electoral process because of minor and still-unproven allegations of electoral fraud.

“Hindi dapat hayaan ang pahayag ng isang tao at mga problema sa ilang mga dokumento at materials na mapawalang bisa ang buong halalan (We should not allow hollow allegations of one and a few purported documents of fraud to undermine the results of the recent elections), “ said Saludo in a press briefing today.

He said the issue is already being addressed in the ongoing committee investigation at the House of Representatives following accusations of electoral fraud from a still-unidentified “whistle blower”.

Saludo said that the recently conducted elections is widely accepted by the people as credible and recognized as a success by foreign observers.

He shared the view of the private-based poll watchdog, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), that the accusations be followed by proof, under the principle “that the burden of proof lies in the accuser.”

Saludo also reminded that there are proper venues to address electoral concerns. He added that the minor problems on the electoral process should not in any way hinder the canvassing and proclamation of election winners.

He said that the unhampered canvassing of votes is important because there is a constitutional deadline for the proclamation for the country’s new set of leaders.

Saludo said he hopes that the proclamation of winners could proceed on schedule so that there will be smooth and proper transition of governmental power to the next President by June. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s peace initiatives in Mindanao have paid off and mechanisms are in place for the next administration to build upon the gains to sustain peace and development in the region, Secretary Jesus Dureza, chairman of the newly-created Mindanao Development Authority (MDA said Monday (May 24).

Dureza added that the ceasefire between government forces and the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been holding and has contributed to the right atmosphere necessary for the peace negotiations.

“On the whole there are mechanisms in place to keep the peace sustained in Mindanao. The President said there is peace on the ground right now. And we hope the building blocks that have been set over the years will be there for the next President to take off from. But the efforts for peace have paid off so far,” Dureza said during a media briefing today in Malacanang.

Meanwhile, Dureza said the President has tasked the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to continue helping some 80,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) temporarily housed in the 56 evacuation centers mostly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Dureza said a number of number of humanitarian institutions, foreign and international entities and even the MILF are actively helping government efforts to restore normalcy in the lives of these IDPs.

As it is now, Dureza said the worst is over in the peace problem in Mindanao, although there is still much to be done to fully develop and sustain peace there.

Amid this period of what he calls as one of “guarded optimism” among Mindanaoans, Dureza said they have come up with a Mindanao 2020 Plan which is a product of dialogues, consultations and groups discussions from among all sectors in Mindanao.

“Hopefully we can present the plan to the next administration so that they can take a look at it as a product of what Mindanaoans want for themselves,” Dureza said. (PIA V Release)

LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Provincial Health Office (PHO) in Albay are now monitoring and preparing for possible outbreaks of flu and other diseases in time for the opening of classes in June.

Albay Schools Division Superintendent Epifanio Buela he has directed all heads of public elementary and high schools here to ensure the cleanliness of their respective schools and surroundings.

Buela said that while sanitation should perk-up weeks before schools open, students, on the other hand, will be taught the proper hygiene during the first week of school year.

He added that the DepEd will make sure that classrooms and school facilities as well as the vicinity are mosquito-free.

He further said that teachers and parents should also keep watch of students who show signs of flu and fever.

Dr. Luis Mendoza, Albay provincial health officer, meanwhile, stressed that PHO has been on watch for possible illness outbreaks, including dengue hemorrhagic fever and possible second wave of Influenza A H1N1.

Mendoza has warned the public to be wary of dengue noting that there are so far 308 cases recorded from January to May, this year of

Dengue is caused by day-biting mosquitoes while cholera is transmitted through eating of food and drinking of water contaminated with human waste. Both diseases could prove fatal to students and adults alike.

Albay PHO has also released an advisory on different water and food borne diseases in time for the school opening.

Mendoza said that the public should exercise utmost vigilance by making sure that their water and food are clean.

Mendoza noted further that Influenza A H1N1 which hit many countries in the world in 2009, including the Philippines, is as good as gone but there is actually still much that needs to be done in order to prevent another outbreak.

He said that the illness is communicable and that students, especially those who had spent their vacation abroad with cases of Influenza A, can be carriers of the virus.

The health office has advised the frequent washing of hands, proper hygiene and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus. (MALoterte, PIA V)


DAET, Camarines Norte — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) District 64 is gearing up for zonal valuations in this province.

BIR Camarines Norte District Officer Marcelino M. Quito said that as a start the agency conducted a series of conference for the sub-technical committee, composed of municipal and provincial assessors and private appraisers.

Quito said that in the meetings the project will prioritize the conduct zonal valuations in the different streets and zones of the different barangays across the province.

He explained that a zonal valuation is an evaluation of value and amount of land in streets, zones in the different barangays, and municipalities in a province.
Another meeting for the final zonal valuations of the sub-technical committee to agree on the amount of land to be followed by a hearing this coming June, he said.

He cited that the final zonal valuations will be submitted to the Regional Technical Committee of the BIR then to the Executive Committee of the BIR, Department of Finance (DOF) for the final approval and a publication to the gazettes before its implementation. (RBManlangit, PIA CamNorte)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

… urges people’s support and cooperation for the success of the census

LEGAZPI CITY — Family households in Albay have been since Monday (May 17) subjected to a statistical survey by the National Statistic Office (NSO).

NSO Albay officer-in-charge Cecil Brondial said Tuesday on PIA Aramon Ta Daw radio program that the census will take an inventory of the total population and housing units in the country and collect information about their characteristics.

She said that the collected data in the census will be useful in the formulation of policies, plans and programs of the government relative to the delivery of basic health and social services to target beneficiaries and the general public.

“It will also determine business opportunities and industry status, in research and development studies,” she added.

The NSO provincial chief explained that data obtained from the census will provide reliable basis for redistricting and apportionment of congressional seats, allocation of resources and revenues, and creation of political and administrative units.

Results of the 2010 Census of Population and Housing (CPH) will be presented to the President who will proclaim the population counts by barangay at the end of the year, she said.

In Sorsogon province, NSO chief Elvira O. Apogñol appeals to every household to spare a few minutes for the census.

Apogñol said that some 545 enumerators, 110 team supervisors, 25 assistant area supervisors and 27 area supervisors are being tapped by NSO Sorsogon to carry out the census.

“Of the 707 census field workers in totality, three-fourths are personnel from the Department of Education and Culture (DepEd) and one-fourth are hired NSO personnel,” she noted.

“They will be covering 541 barangays and some 596 enumeration areas in the province. All enumerators will be wearing an official 2010 CPH ID during their field work,” she added.

Latest census records of NSO dated August 1, 2007, show Sorsogon with a total population of 709,673.

Apogñol explained that data to be gathered were all related to family membership including age, gender, educational attainment and number of household members as well as water sources and waste management, among others.

NSO assures the public that the information gathered will be held in strict confidence as stated in Section 4 of the Commonwealth Act 591 stating that “no information obtained be divulged to anyone except for bona fide NSO personnel”.

Apogñol said that by virtue of the Presidential Proclamation No. 2028, the month of May this year was declared as National Census Month.

“The Census on Population and Housing (CPH), the biggest civilian operation in the country, started on May 17, 2010 with May 1, 2010, 12:01 a.m., as the reference time and will end on June 12, 2010,” she said. (MALoterte and BARecebido, PIA Bicol)


LEGAZPI CITY — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared that there is no absolute military solution to insurgency as it exhorts LGUs and other stakeholders to mobilize and take active role.

Brigadier General Francisco N Cruz Jr., chief of the Civil Relations Service (CRS) of the AFP, averred that realities on the ground suggest the severe decline of the CPP-NPA as military efforts have reduced the group’s strength by 78.7% from its peak of 25,200 in 1987. In 2009, its strength is estimated at 4,702.

Cruz elaborated, “from 2001-2009, there has been an annual average of 10.8% consistent decline in NPA strength; while the CPP-NPA is estimated to be in existence at only less than 3% in rural barangays.

“However, considering the multi-dimensional nature of insurgency, there needs more synchronization of government efforts to strategically and categorically defeat the CPP-NPA-NDF insurgency. The best approach is the holistic approach that addresses the root causes of insurgency – injustice, deprivation and ignorance,” he stressed.

AFP cites Executive Order 773 or the “Further Reorganization of the Peace and Order Council”, enacted in 2009, as an effective response to insurgency, aiming to achieve a unity of effort in all levels – strategic, operational, and tactical.

The National Internal Security Plan (NISP) under EO 21, meanwhile, also demands a “strategy of holistic approach”.

“As supported by EO 773 and the NISP, LGU chief executives should be empowered and become more decisive to lead us in our counter-insurgency efforts because it is them that can effectively address the grievances in their localities through the use of their development funds,’ explained Cruz.

“We need to civilianize this war; meaning, we must allow the non-military methods to dominate our strategy with LGU taking the lead role,” conveyed the CRS chief.

AFP alludes to Bohol as an exemplary paradigm of an LGU-led counter-insurgency. Other provinces that have also been declared as insurgency-free are Aurora, Cebu, La Union, Marinduque, Quirino, Guimaras, Siquijor, Biliran, Apayao, Tarlac and Romblon; while more are poised to follow.

Cruz explained that declaration of insurgency-free in an area means that the insurgent’s influence in the mentioned areas is non-existent or too insignificant to affect the lives of the residents.
“We believe that with the proactive participation of the LGUs and other stakeholders, driven by a sense of purpose and urgency, the CPP-NPA can finally be defeated,” he stressed.

AFP avows to uphold its main role to secure communities to allow development to thrive, also sustaining its non-traditional duties such as its engineering civic actions through the National Development and Support Command (NADESCOM) and its Kalayaan Barangay Program (KBP); the deployment of Peace and Development Teams (PDTs) nationwide to fast-track the delivery of government’s basic services and localized dialogues; its support to literacy through the Army Literacy Patrol System (ALPS) and the adopt-a-school projects; among many others.

“Assigning more troops will never be enough to enforce lasting peace and sustainable development. The nation can always depend on our soldiers’ unflinching courage, professionalism, and commitment. But we cannot win this fight alone. We enjoin all stakeholders to join us in this fight. The mobilization of every sector shall serve as a powerful catalyst in securing democracy and ensuring sustainable peace and progress,” concludes BGen Cruz. (Maj. EJCOsias IV, PA GC CRS-AFP/PIA)


CASTILLA, Sorsogon -- The government’s peace education program has paid-off, especially to school children in this conflict-affected area where teachers inculcate the value of peace to ensure a brighter future for their young pupils as law-abiding citizens.

The San Isidro Elementary School here has been selected as one of the pilot areas in the country, where peace education is taught --an initiative of the Bicol Consortium on Peace Education and Development (BCPED), in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) in Region V.

The project is fully supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through its Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Programme. Technical expertise is provided by the United Nations Act for Peace Program.

The program is to train teachers and administrators on how to mainstream peace perspectives into the basic education curriculum as well as into school policies, processes and relationships to make them conflict-sensitive and peace promoting.

Teachers are trained how to reach out to the families of the students and other members of the community for a holistic approach to build a culture of peace.

Emma J. Sario, a grade one teacher, upon returning from a training seminar, set up a corner in her classroom where she posted several ways on how to transform the classroom into a place of peace.

A co-teacher Sandra Aninipot encouraged her 55 students to come up with their own guidelines, many of which focused on respecting, helping and showing compassion towards their fellow students.

Aninipot has also adapted peaceful approaches in dealing with trying circumstances at home.
Barely five months after the implementation of the project, the teachers noticed remarkable changes in the behavior of their pupils, who now refrain from saying bad and hurting words to fellow students.

They also keep their composure and avoided retaliating when provoked by their classmates.
The phrase “Peace be with you” has become the popular saying heard around the campus.
School principal Teddy Jañola cited the importance of training the pupils on the importance of a lasting peace.

Aside from mainstreaming peace perspectives into the school program, Jañola and his teachers have spread the peace virus outside the school premises.

Jañola said a progress report has been submitted to the municipal and provincial officials about the project.

The school is actively working with the parents’ association to be able to reach out to the community more effectively.

Through peace education, the young students will be trained as peace advocates, he said.
With the success of the peace education program, teachers at the San Isidro Elementary School have felt a sense of personal triumph in helping the transformation of their students into peace- loving individuals.

Relationships among fellow teachers and students also have vastly improved.

For teacher Armie G. Buban, the whole experience reminded her of her commitment to become a peace advocate.

She said that being trained under this project has steadily helped her to keep her composure, especially in dealing with hard-headed students.

The school has already received commendations for the early success of the project resulting in the additional support being granted by the Department of Education and the expansion of the project to more schools in the Bicol region. (CBD/PNA Bicol)


SORSOGON CITY — All dormitories and boarding houses in this city will be subjected to a thorough inspection by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) office here in preparation for the upcoming school opening in June.

Chief Inspector Renato Marcial, BFP Sorsogon City fire marshal, said the inspection intends to ensure the safety of the students, especially that we expect students from distant areas from this city will occupy rented rooms.

Marcial bared that the inspection has since started last May 13, 2010
Marcial has already directed the agency’s fire safety inspectors to all the dormitories and boarding houses to abate fire hazards and other related emergencies.

BFP has also requested the support and cooperation of barangay officials in the implementation of the Fire Code of the Philippines, also appealing to the owners to secure business permits before they operate their own businesses.

“They must comply with fire safety standards as required by law, including provision of fire exits, emergency lights, fire extinguishers and installation of alarm system,” he elaborated.

Marcial appealed to the community to report to their office at 421-6320 that if in case they found out some boarding houses who operate without the necessary permits and do not follow the fire safety standards required by law. (FO1MBDollente/FO1LFuntanares, BFP Sorsogon City/PIA)

By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY – Farmers here and other parts of Sorsogon province have recognized goat raising as environment friendly and profitable farming venture.

City councilor Roberto Dollison, head of the three-year old Sorsogon Goat Raisers Association (SGRA), on Tuesday said “from backyard raisers, our group is mulling on converting into a cooperative and turn bigtime entrepreneur to take advantage of the demand for goat products like breeders, meat and milk.”

Each of the 25 members of SGRA had an average of 10 heads of goat stocks of various breeds and raising them is already a quite good number to start for bigtime farming, Dollison said.

The country had still a meager number of goats even with the shift in diet preferences and the growing demand and interest for goat meat in the local market. The goat population is presently estimated at 3.3 million and rising continuously, Dollison ,quoting a recent report of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), said.

One big problem, he said was the cost of breeder goats that as of the present, a six-month old native female at 10-12 kilograms already commands a price of P2,500. A four-month old meztizo weanling costs P4,000 and bucks for breeding are now at P11,000 to P20,000 per head.
But a recent report of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) said that this problem does not stop raisers and breeders from dipping their hands into this low-risk profitable livelihood.

Goats adapt well to any existing farming system and feed on forages and other farm products although raisers also use concentrates, it said.

“Goats are very popular among Filipinos because they require low initial capital investment, fit the small hold farm conditions, and multiply fast,” PCARRD explained in its investment briefer. “Culturally, goats are integral to every special occasion such as birthdays, baptisms, weddings, and fiestas. Hence, they command a higher price compared with other meats in the market.”

These ruminants require low maintenance because they eat tree leaves, grasses, weeds and agricultural by-products. “Goats require less feed than cows and carabaos as about 10 native goats can be fed on the feedstuffs sufficient for one cattle and about seven purebred dairy goats can be fed on the feedstuffs adequate for one dairy cow.

“Although a goat is small, it can produce as much as four liters of milk a day if it is purebred and is given a ration to meet all of its nutritional requirements,” the PCARRD added.

A PCARRD study conducted found out that goats are multi-purpose ruminants producing 58.4 percent milk, 35.6 percent meat, 4.3 percent hide and 1.7 percent fiber. It said that these small ruminants could provide the answer to improve nutritional requirements of the predominantly rural farm families scattered all over the archipelago.

As goat production requires low initial investment and small risks compared to other livestock, it is therefore an attractive undertaking among resource-poor families. In addition, women and children can raise the animals, making it a sound option to augment the country’s programs on livelihood. Goats provide livelihood to about 15 million Filipinos across the country, according to PCARRD.

Despite this, goat farming is still not very popular among Filipinos and no one exactly knows how many goats are there in the country.

PCARRD claims that the total goat inventory is “steadily increasing” at 2 percent per year. This supply is still not enough to meet the current demands. “We expect that the increased demand will last to 2020 when the project supply can meet the demand of the consumers,” PCARRD said.

The optimum potential of goat as one of the main sources of milk and meat has not been fully tapped in the country.

The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported that the total number of goats in the country is about 3,355,574. Most of the goat farms are concentrated in Southern Luzon and various parts of Mindanao.

In Mindanao, Dollison said, goat farming was considered a “sunshine industry.” The country’s second largest island has a large Muslim population and goat meat is considered Halal food. There is also a big demand in the international market, particularly the Middle East.

In Sorsogon, Dollison said more and more people were raising goats in their farms that aside from providing them a steady income from the milk and sales of breeding stocks, they have discovered one thing about the animals.

“Their manure is a good source of fertilizer,” he said. SGRA’s combined stock of about 250 goats provides organic fertilizer for our farms planted to rice, rootcrops, vegetables, coconuts and fruit trees that since fertilizer costs have gone up, more and more farmers are turning to goatraising, Dollison said.

There are at least 12 known goat species in the world but only a relatively small number of breeds are economically useable. The Philippine’s native goat is small but hardy. It weighs about 25 kilograms at maturity and produces only about 350 grams of milk with butterfat content of around 4.6 percent daily.

The Dadiangas goat is common in General Santos City is a mixture of native, Nubian and Jamnapari goats and some animals may even have some Alpine or Saanen blood. The milk production and butterfat content are marginally higher than native goats and they do best in the drier areas of the country.

Of the introduced breeds in the country, Anglo Nubian performs the best along with the newer introduced Boer goats. The dairy breeds such as the Saanen, Toggenburg and French Alpine perform relatively poorly.

For those who cannot afford a purebred stock, starting with the best female goats available in the locality is the best idea and bred them with purebreds or upgraded stock and by selecting th desirable offspring and discarding the undesirable ones, a good stock will emerge later, Dollison said.

For commercial or large-scale operation, the production inputs are aplenty. Fixed investment includes land, goat house, fences, pasture area, water pump, feeding trough, spade, wheelbarrow, and ropes.

“You have to buy breeding does and breeding bucks. Operating expenses include veterinary medicines, drugs, and vaccines; feed supplements and goat rations; and repair and maintenance of goat house, fences, equipment, and pasture. Fixed and seasonal labor is also required,” he said.
PCARRD said, with minimal initial capital investment of about P67,000 for 25-doe level, P174,500 for 60-doe level, or P349,000 for 100-doe level, positive net income and return-on-investment (ROI) are realized, even as early as the first year.

The ROI for five years is 67 percent from a 25-doe level operation under semi-confinement scheme and 60 percent from 50- and 100-doe level operations under pure confinement system. Payback period is two years, the PCARRD added.

Goats have gone a long way from being just poor man’s cows. These animals have proven to be more than just four-legged mammals that generate milk and meat. They survive in almost any kind of environment that is dry and where feed resources are available, making their potential as one of the main sources of farm income.

Given all those advantages, PCARRD said it has picked up on this renewed interest on goats and is now laying various science and technology (S&T) initiatives to continue coming up with better quality stocks, promote goat reproduction techniques and encourage new and fresh approaches to manage goats and the business of raising them.

Along with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFDA), PCARRD has initiated trainings on effective goat management to further promote its competence.

After analyzing the cost and returns of raising goats, they proved that it is a low-risk profitable livelihood. Assuming a goat raiser has five does at P2,500 each, an initial investment of P32,000 can mean extra income of at least P14,800 in sales of goat stock after two business years.

PCARRD has also initiated its 1,000-goat farms program that aims to launch 1,000 smallholder farmers into full-time commercial goat raisers to continue the wave of effect that goat raising has started.

In the end, even with problems on seasonality of demand, fluctuating prices of goats and breeders, high costs of feed, wavering veterinary services and high taxes and business permits to start with, raising goats will continue to flourish and find its optimum potential in the future, it said.

That is because 63 percent of the world’s total meat consumption can be credited to goat meat. According to www.boergoatshome.com, people-from Mideasterners and African to Latin American and Arabs prefer goat meat than any other veal-like meat around the world. (PNA Bicol)


MANILA — Malacanang on Tuesday (May 18) called on everyone to unite and cooperate with the incoming administration so the Philippines will continue to move forward and achieve further development.

In a press briefing, Press Undersecretary Rogelio Peyuan said that since the elections are over, it is best for everyone —winners and losers alike, to “unite and work together” with the new administration for a better Philippines.

Peyuan also said Malacanang is leaving it to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to decide on the alleged irregularities during the May 10 polls.

“The first fully automated polls is part of President Arroyo’s legacy so let us leave it to the COMELEC to assess the level of satisfaction on Smartmatic’s delivery of what was expected of them,” he said.

Peyuan said the European community and China, among other nations, have congratulated the Philippines for the conduct of a peaceful elections.

He advised those questioning the credibility of the May 10 polls to go slow and “observe a certain level of decency” in any act they take.

“Let’s leave it to the COMELEC to assess the entire exercise. It is the best authority to do that,” he said.

Peyuan also said it is best to allow the new President to have a freehand in choosing the persons who will help him run the government.

Peyuan praised Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino III, the newly elected President, in saying that he will retain some of the Arroyo administration cabinet members in his official family.

“We take it as a very good sign. That is uniting and healing…We pray the next President will be a listening President,” he said.

Peyuan said there were many deserving officials in the Arroyo administration who could be of help to the next administration.

“It’s a very good sign. Let us now set aside politicking.It will always be an honor to serve the government,” he said. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo graced Tuesday (May 18) the 16th anniversary of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), leading the inauguration and awarding ceremonies at the commission’s headquarters in Diliman, Quezon City.

The President was welcomed by CHED Chairman Emmanuel Angeles and Commissioners Nenalyn Defensor, William Medrano, Nona Ricafort and Luningning Misuarez-Umar at the foyer entrance of the CHED building.

The President was ushered in the second floor where she led ribbon cutting ceremonies marking the inauguration of the commission’s newly constructed auditorium.

The auditorium is just one of the many new features introduced during the administration of Angeles to upgrade the image of the commission.

Aside from housing CHED’s central offices, the Higher Education Development Center, one of the sub-components of the seven investment strategies under the Higher Education Development Project (HEDP), is home to a higher education virtual library, higher education management information system, media room, accreditation rooms, technical panel offices, multi-agency projects management units, training rooms, and accommodation facilities.

The construction of the HDEC was accomplished in two phases: the partial completion of a P 141-million four-storey building with an approximate floor area of 6,752 square meters and the complete construction of the building peripherals including the fourth floor, roof deck and the multi-purpose area from the ground to the third floor and its roofing.

Phase II covers an approximate floor area of 4,390 sq.m. and its contract price is P115-million.

After the ribbon cutting ceremonies, the President led in the distribution of recognition awards to CHED employees who have shown exemplary work in their respective fields of endeavor.

Among those awarded by the President were: Eleanor Fernandez, Charlie Calimlim, Caridad Abuan and Zenaida Gersana as Best Technical Chiefs and Violeta Galo and Juan Purian, Jr. as Best Administrative Chiefs. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cited Tuesday afternoon (May 18) the significant role the academic community, particularly the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has played in strengthening the Philippine economy.

In her speech keynoting the commission’s 16th anniversary held at its headquarters in Diliman, Quezon City, the President said the partnership between the government and CHED has resulted in numerous benefits which redound to the people in the form of better delivery of services and quality education for all.

“During my administration, CHED helped me change the Philippine economy significantly and for the better. With the support of CHED and the academic community, the Philippine economy today is far stronger than it was nine years ago,” the President said.

“We are now on a path of sustainable growth after 37 unprecedentedly consecutive quarters of growth. We have created millions of jobs that help keep some of our brightest workers here at home and we have resources to invest in better healthcare and education,” she added.

The President pointed out that these were made possible through “tough and unpopular” implementation of new taxes “which we reinvested in our people through expanded and improved education, social services, infrastructure and salary increases.”

“Education must be at the center of any government development platform. In that regard, we have invested in an education budget that is more than P200 billion this year compared to less than P100 billion when we started nine years ago. So we have more than doubled our budget in the last nine years,” the President said.

Because of the budget increase, CHED has been able to provide college and post-graduate education for over 600,000 scholars including those in the fields of science, technology and engineering.

The President further pointed out that CHED has grown in scope, holding jurisdiction over almost 2,000 higher education institutions (HEIs), 89 percent (over 1,500) of which are private schools, plus 109 state universities and colleges (SUCs), 81 local HEIs and 16 other specialized schools.

“Your policies influence the fields of study and the lives of almost three million students, 600,000 of which over the years have been scholars,” the President said.

However, the President acknowledged that despite having “succeeded on our part to pave the way and build a stronger foundation for sustainable growth, we still have a long way to go.”

The President pointed out the importance of working towards achieving a main education highway towards a knowledge-based economy that will result in a seamless education from pre-school to the tertiary level.

The President also talked about recommendations to improve consultations among the academe and industry and business leaders to determine new skills needs for present and future manpower.

“The main objective of these consultations is to make the skills of our college graduates more relevant to the jobs with high demand, therefore closing the jobs-skills gap and improving the employability of the graduates,” the President said.

“We want a seamless educational highway towards a knowledge-based economy because we are in the knowledge century and I desire to see a brighter future for the hardworking men and women of this nation. I have an abiding interest in seeing your clients and mine, in other words the students of higher education, will come into their own, seize the value of modernity and education and use these tools to advance themselves and the nation,” she added. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — The European Union (EU) has accepted membership in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) on the Mindanao peace process, a move welcomed by the negotiating panels of both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Panel (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The EU joins Japan, Brunei, Libya and the group’s head, Malaysia in the monitoring group. The latter is also the Facilitator of the overall peace negotiations.

EU’s participation will be finalized once appropriate terms of reference TOR) have been agreed with the GRP-MILF, according to EU ambassador to Manila, Alistair MacDonald, who informed both sides of the decision.

A revised TOR for the IMT agreed in December 2009 include four components, among them the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development (HRD) aspect which the EU will now lead.

Norway has also been invited and had indicated its willingness to participate in the IMT depending on the TOR. Norway is not a EU member but is closely associated with the Union through its membership in the European Economic Area (EEA).

“The EU’s decision to join the IMT is indeed good news for both GRP and MILF Panels which now endeavor to preserve the gains of the peace talks as we transition from the current administration to the next,” GRP chief negotiator and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis said in a letter to MacDonald.

MacDonald announced EU’s acceptance at the reception on Tuesday night celebrating the European Union National Day last May 9, as requested by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

“The EU’s presence in the monitoring team would be an unequivocal manifestation of its support and commitment to the peace and development agenda in Mindanao, for which we are thankful,” Seguis added.

MacDonald said the decision was based on its assessment that "Mindanao has a tremendous potential to be a prosperous and peaceful part of the Philippines, for the benefit of all who live there, whether Moros, Christians or Lumads.

”But this potential can only be realized if the vicious cycle of conflict and poverty can be broken, and if local governance can respond to the needs of the people and provide effective services to all."

He added he is “delighted that in addition to our longstanding development and humanitarian cooperation with the Philippines in general and in Mindanao more specifically, the EU will now be able to help more directly in the peace process, joining the efforts of other international and local partners, both in the IMT and in the International Contact Group."

From EU headquarters in Brussels, Catherine Ashton, High Representative (HR) of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, said “the European Union attaches great importance to helping promote peace and development in Mindanao, and has long been active in providing both development and humanitarian assistance in the conflict-affected areas."

”The EU was honoured to be invited by the Parties to assist further in the peace process, by taking part in the IMT, and I see this as a very important contribution which the EU can make, together with other international partners, to help promote peace, security and prosperity in Mindanao, and to help strengthen the long-term development of the Philippines," HR Ashton said.

She noted that since the end of 2008, the EU and its Member-States had provided more than Euros 14.5 million (about P820 million, at current exchange rates) in humanitarian assistance to help civilians displaced by the conflict in Mindanao.

Peace negotiations bogged down in August 28 when a GRP-MILF provision for a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity was declared unconstitutional by the Philippine Supreme Court. Violence ensued, displacing thousands of civilians in Mindanao. Talks resumed in December 2009.

While last-ditch efforts are exerted to carve a possible interim agreement before a new administration is installed in Malacanang on June 30, “there is still a great need to build confidence, a context in which international support is of great importance,” the EU in Manila said in explaining the rationale of its acceptance.

In addition, an International Contact Group (ICG) was established in September 2009 to assist the GRP and MILF panels and Malaysia as Facilitator in carrying the peace process forward. Its members are Japan, Turkey and the United Kingdom and a number of international non-governmental organizations.

EC development assistance grants to Mindanao since the 1990s have amounted to some Euros 96 million in total (about P5.4 billion, at current exchange rates) focusing on rural development and the environment, agrarian reform, and the health sector.

The EC has also provided some Euros 21 million (P1.2 billion) in grants for livelihood support and rehabilitation for civilian victims of conflict and about Euros23 million (P1.3 billion) in humanitarian assistance, particularly for internally-displaced persons (IDPs).

Separately and on a bilateral basis, a number of EU Member-States, such as Spain, have also been active in providing development and humanitarian assistance in Mindanao. (PIA V Release)