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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY — President Benigno Aquino III should complement his advocacy on voluntary family planning, birth spacing and contraceptive use by likewise endorsing the immediate passage of the reproductive health bill whose central idea is freedom of informed choice.

House Minority Leader and Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel C. Lagman has stated that this endorsement would fittingly cap the Aquino administration’s first 100 days and mitigate early setbacks.

Lagman said, “House Bill No. 96, the first of several reproductive health bills re-filed in the 15th Congress, and I principally authored, guarantees the right to make free and informed decisions and promotes without bias all modern natural and artificial methods of family planning that are medically safe, legal and effective.”

He furthered that the bill underscores in its Explanatory Note that “neither the State nor the Church has the authority to compel the people or the faithful what family planning method to adopt. The choice belongs to parents and couples, particularly to women who have an inherent right over their own bodies.”

The Philippines is the only middle-income Asian country without a comprehensive reproductive health law.

Lagman stressed that the need to institutionalize by legislation a progressive reproductive health policy is imperative to counteract the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of changing administrations and leaders.

In 2008, Millennium Development Goal No. 5 on improvement of maternal health and reduction of maternal mortality was amended to include the achievement of “universal access to reproductive health” by 2015.

The Philippines is one of 189 signatory countries to the Millennium Declaration 10 years ago this month.

Reproductive health and family planning are interlinked with all of the eight MDGs from the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty, combating HIV-AIDS and reducing child mortality to achieving universal primary education and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Lagman noted that when the first comprehensive version of the RH bill was filed in the 11th Congress 10 years ago, the Philippine population was about 75 million. A decade later or on 01 July 2010 when House Bill No. 96 was filed, the country’s population has ballooned to 93.4 million or a staggering increase of 19.3 million or an average increase of almost two million annually.

He also cited that while the Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world, its human development index ranking has slipped to 105th among 182 countries in the latest Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 2009.

The solon stressed that a high population growth rate of 2.04% impacts adversely on all indicators of human development like health, education, food security, employment, mass housing and the environment. (Office of Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman/PIA/mal)


LEGAZPI CITY – The Provincial Government of Albay has adopted an awards program to motivate local government units combat dengue in their localities setting sight a “zero casualties” target and prevent the spread of the dreaded disease.

Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said that the awards program recognizes the performance or achievements of city and municipal governments in the province for preempting or stamping out dengue cases in their respective areas.

“We reward outputs, not inputs; real outcomes, not efforts,” stressed Salceda.

The awards program, the governor furthered, will be given for both monthly and year-to-date feats of LGUs to prevent and control dengue infections and death.

Awards up for grabs include “Zero Dengue for the Month” commencing this Setember 2010 for LGUs with no recorded dengue cases; while the “Performance Award” will be conferred only to LGUs with a minimum of six (6) months dengue-free out of the part eight (8) months.

In the event of a tie, the city or municipality with the lowest incidence will determine the rank of the awardees, computed on the basis of dengue cases recorded over the total population.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Albay has cited Libon town garnering both awards for Zero Dengue for the Month of August and ranking first as dengue-free for seven months out of the past eight months. The town recorded the lone dengue case on March, this year, out of its 71,328 population, with an attack rate of 0.001 percent.

Jovellar has also recorded zero dengue case for August and ranks second for seven months dengue-free with also lone dengue case in February out of 18,249 population implying a 0.005 percent attack rate, followed by Malilipot with two cases out of 34,802 population, 0.006 percent attack rate, and six months dengue-free; Oas recording four cases out of 66,188, 0.006 percent, and five months dengue-free; and Malinao, four cases out of 40,939 with 0.010 percent and five months dengue-free.

PHO Albay has recorded 1,095 dengue cases out of the 1,233,695 population across Albay from January to August this year, with three deaths recoded in Daraga town (2) and Tabaco City (1).

PHO Albay chief Dr. Luis Mendoza has announced that awardees will be conferred with the certificates of recognition this coming Friday (October 1) at the AECID Hall of the PDMO Building, Provincial Capitol here to coincide with the briefing for the National Philhealth Registration Day. (MALoterte, PIA V)


NAGA CITY — Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman led Thursday (September 23) the distribution of conditional cash grant under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)to 1,385 extremely poor families in this city.

Resident-beneficiaries hailed from five barangays, including Pacol, Balatas, Sabang, Mabolo and Concepcion Pequeña, all earlier identified as poverty stricken villages that need government intervention.

Contrary to some claims that the 4Ps is one of the “dole-out” programs carried out by the government, Soliman has asserted that the fund is far from that sort since recipients have to follow certain obligations in order to avail of the conditional cash assistance.

Under the program, parents are obliged to attend sessions on Parent Effectiveness gatherings, Family Planning seminars, and other similar endeavors aimed at equipping them with know how on good parenting and good household management.

The monthly cash grant would also require its beneficiaries, particularly pregnant mothers to have a regular preventive health check-up and ensure the vaccination of their children with age range from 0 to 5 years of age. Preschoolers, ages ranging between 3 to 5 years old should have an 85 percent attendance rate in day care or preschool classes, while elementary and high school students from 6 to 14 years old should also be regularly attending school. Regular de-worming on children-beneficiaries is also a must.

Aside from personally handing over the cash grant, Soliman also witnessed the launching of programs and projects under the Poder Y Prosperidad dela Comunidad funded by the Spanish development agency, Agencia Española dela Cooperacion International para el Desarollo (PODER).

PODER also served as Presedent Aquino’s centerpiece program specifically for those communities living beyond the poverty threshold. Aids or assistance would come from the local government units which will provide various lifeline activities geared towards social development and improving the lives of poor constituents.
These projects aimed at alleviating poverty focusing on human capital investment to the poorest of the poor households in the country. (LSMacatangay, PIA CamSur/mal)


SAN ANDRES, Catanduanes — Army soldiers, while in pursuit of the killers of a village youth leader, clashed Tuesday (September 28) with more or less ten suspected NPA bandits in Catanduanes, a military official said.

Lieutenant Colonel Danilo Aquino, commander of the Army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion, said that a squad of soldiers, led by Corporal Rocky Bumalay, caught up with the fleeing bandits of the Probinsyang Yunit Gerilya led by a certain Ka James in Magsaysay village in Bagamanoc town at around 9:30 am.

Aquino added that a running gun battle ensued as the bandits scampered to various directions following several minutes of gunfight and dragging with them their casualties.

“No one is injured among government soldiers while they recovered an M16 rifle believed to be owned by one of the rebel casualties and three backpacks containing subversive documents,” he bared.

Aquino also said that pursuit operations employing more troops are ongoing as of press time.

He said that civilian residents are updating the soldiers about the general direction of the bandits’ escape route.

The military authorities in Catanduanes have launched continuous manhunt operations to arrest the rebels who shot and killed two village officials namely Jay Carlo Cameleon and Lando Tavar a week ago.

The two victims were accused as military informants by the rebels who are becoming weary about the accurate information fed to the military leading to the series of arrests and clashes in all of Bicol’s six provinces.

In 2010, the Army’s 9th Infantry Division has recorded 24 deaths among civilians as a result of the NPA’s extra-judicial killings in the Bicol region. (HMCabunoc, DPAO 9ID PA/PIA/mal)


LEGAZPI CITY — The International Society for Southeast Asian Agricultural Sciences (ISSAAS) ‐ Bicol Chapter and Bicol University jointly host the 10th National Congress on September 28 to 30, 2010 at Bicol University Amphitheater here to provide an avenue to discuss updates on emerging trends, issues and directions in agriculture to help build more resilient communities in the country.

The conference evolves on the theme “Resilient Communities through Agriculture” with five sub-themes; namely, climate change adaptation for sustainable agriculture, ensuring food safety, sustainable management of bio‐resources, agri‐entrepreneurship for productivity and efficiency and community empowerment.

This year’s congress aims: to (1) encourage and create awareness of the people on climate change and its possible impacts to the various aspects of agriculture; (2) share experiences and exchange current information on technological advancement as well as on implementation of innovative development and adaptation programs in response to climate change; and (3) discuss the role of agriculture in building resilient communities to climate change and natural disasters.

Three plenary lectures will be delivered by Mr. Alejo N. Balaguer of Department Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Dr. Arnulfo M. Mascariñas, Director of Bicol University Research and Development Center (BURDC) and Dr. Nena O. Espiritu, professor at the College of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Parallel sessions will follow where over 90 papers revolving around the congress theme will be presented. In addition, there will be poster presentations and an educational tour on the third day which will give the participants and first‐time travelers to Albay a chance to see tourist sites and local products the province has to offer. Business meeting of the members of ISSAAS ‐ Philippines and oath taking of new members and officers will also be conducted.

This congress will be participated in by researchers, practitioners and development/extension workers from government agencies, non‐government organizations and private sectors, academicians and teachers from various higher learning institutions, and students from the different provinces of the country. (MBMamansag,BURDC/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY — A total of 1,338 families in the province of Catanduanes will benefit from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) following validation and registration of qualified beneficiaries were conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol last September 6-10, 2010.

DSWD Bicol Regional Rirector Remia Tapispisan bared these families are from the municipalities of Bagamanoc, Caramoran and Pandan.

Breakdown of the beneficiaries shows that 458 of these beneficiaries were from Bagamanoc, 436 from Caramoran, and 444 from Pandan.

Tapispisan added that these municipalities belong to the set three areas of the program which were selected based on the 2003 Small Area Estimates, poverty incidence and pockets of poverty.

4Ps is a poverty alleviation strategy of the government which aims to break the intergenerational poverty cycle by promoting behavioral transformations among parents. Cash grant amounting to P1,400 shall be provided to extremely poor households for the improvement of their health, nutrition and education particularly of their children aged 0-14 years old.

The program will require each family beneficiary to comply with the following conditionalities:
a) pregnant women must avail of pre and post natal care and be attended by skilled attendant during child birth, b) parents must attend responsible parenthood sessions, mothers classes and family planning, c) children 0-5 years old must receive regular preventive check-ups and vaccines, d) children 3-5 years old must attend day care classes, e) children 6-14 years old must attend elementary and high school classes at least 85% of the time. They will however be terminated from the program if they fail to comply with these conditions.

The program now covers 59 municipalities with 86,601 household beneficiaries in the six provinces of the Bicol Region. (AMayor, 4Ps PIO-DSWD/PIA/mal)

Malacanang welcomes OECD move to strike off RP from gray list

MANILA — Malacanang welcomed the move of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to strike off the Philippines from its list of tax havens.

“We are happy the Philippines is out of the gray list. It is a significant step in our fight against money laundering and tax evasion,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail de la Fuente- Valte said in a press briefing at Malacanang on Wednesday.

The OECD, in a statement, said the Philippines “moved up to the list of jurisdictions that have substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard."

The OECD statement further said the Philippines “overturned domestic legal restrictions that prevented its tax authorities from obtaining and exchanging certain types of information, such as bank information.”

The Philippines had been on the "gray list" of territories that had committed to internationally accepted tax standards but had not yet fully implemented them.

The OECD announcement came shortly after Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima signed Revenue Regulations (RR) 10-2010 that will be used to implement Republic Act (RA) 10021, or The Exchange of Information on Tax Matters Act.

RR 10-2010, which became a law in March this year, will still have to be published in a newspaper of general circulation before taking effect 15 days after.

The OECD statement noted that the Philippines has a network of more than 30 treaties that provide for exchange of information in tax matters. Until now, however, domestic legal restrictions prevented its tax authorities from obtaining and exchanging certain types of information ... The new law and regulations remove these restrictions, thus enabling many of the Philippines’ existing treaties to meet the international standard." (PIA V Release)

President Aquino visits La Salle blast victims

MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III visited Wednesday (September 29) the victims of the explosion that rocked the last day of the bar exams at La Salle Taft in Manila last Sunday.

The President talked to three of the 47 victims, most of whom are law students who joined the revelry outside the university.

First to be visited by the Chief Executive was Raissa Laurel, 23, second year law student of San Sebastian whose legs were amputated as a result of the blast.

Dr. Reynaldo Ang, an orthopedic surgeon from the Philippine General Hospital where the victim was confined, said Laurel’s legs were badly damaged by the blast.

“Mangled ang legs ng patient, the soft tissues were not very good, they are lost,” he said. “After a while the patient might need plastic surgery and prosthetics.”

Ang said, however, that Laurel is fast recovering, hinting that it might take a month for her to be discharged.

Raissa’s mother, Reggie, said her daughter, a member of a choir in their Christian church, was supposed to have a choral presentation at the PhilamLife Auditorium that fateful Sunday afternoon.

She said her daughter might have escaped injury had she left earlier for their choral presentation.

Also visited by the President at the Manila Doctors Hospital were Joana Ledda, 23, daughter of Sanggunian Bayan member and a Municipal Health Officer in Bauan, La Union and Camille Villasin, a sophomore student from San Beda and daughter of Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD) president Nestor Villasin.

Accompanying the President in the hospital visit were Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma and Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang. (PIA V Release)

Malacañang urges all Filipinos to join Philhealth

MANILA — Malacañang urged all Filipinos to join the government’s health insurance program by registering themselves and their qualified dependents with Philhealth on Saturday, October 2.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte issued the call during a press conference in Malacañang on Wednesday (September 29).

“I would like to remind everyone that October 2 is…going to be National Philhealth Day. We encourage everybody to go out if you have not yet registered at Philhealth, please go out on Saturday and do so,” Valte said.

The Department of Health has designated October 2 as “Philhealth Sabado” to allow non-members to become part of the government’s health insurance program to ensure themselves access to quality health services.

“PhilHealth Sabado is the start of a continuing advocacy program to increase Filipino’s awareness and knowledge on the importance of becoming a PhilHealth member,” the DoH said in a statement, adding that being a member “will ensure access to quality health services to the member and his/her dependents.”

“PhilHealth Sabado fullfills universal health insurance coverage within three years as promised in the first State of the Nation Address of President Benigno S. Aquino III,” the DOH statement said.

All interested applicants are invited to visit the Philhealth Registration Desk located in any of the following: Philhealth Regional and Service Offices, Department of Health Centers for Health Development and Hospitals, participating public schools and designated areas predetermined by local government units for registration instructions. (PIA V Release)

Palace lauds Comelec resolution granting exemptions to appointments ban

MANILA — Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Wednesday (September 29) lauded the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for granting Malacañang's request for an exemption on the appointment ban because of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls on October 25, saying this would allow President Benigno Aquino III to fill up critical government posts.

The government is prohibited from appointing or transferring officials and employees during the campaign period under a resolution issued by the poll body, but the Comelec en banc approved the request of Ochoa to grant exemptions for 143 key positions last Monday.

In a letter to Comelec sent September 24, Ochoa explained to the poll body that the appointments were being made “not for the purpose of influencing or affecting the results of the barangay elections” but to ensure the “proper functioning of the offices or agencies concerned.”

“The President arrived last Tuesday in good spirits, and this resolution was welcome news for him as he wants to continue naming individuals to posts that need to be filled as soon as possible,” the Executive Secretary said.

The exemptions cover 143 positions in government, such as non-career ambassadors, regional trial court judges, officials in line agencies and special bodies, and government-owned and -controlled corporations like the Manila Waterworks Sewerage System.

The Comelec has said that similar exemptions were granted to Malacañang and other offices in the past so as not to disrupt government operations and public service.

Specifically, the poll body eased the prohibitions set in Section 261 (g, h and x) of the Omnibus Election Code and Comelec Resolution No. 9040 on the appointment of new employees, whether temporary or casual; creation of any new position; transfer or detail any officer or employee, including public school teachers; and suspension of elective officials, without the prior approval of the Comelec.

Under Comelec Resolution No. 9040, no appointments shall be made from September 25 to October 25, and transfer or detail of employees from September 25 to November 10, 2010. (PIA V Release)

Lawmakers laud P-Noy's accomplishments in US trip

MANILA — Lawmakers lauded on Wednesday (September 29) the success of President Benigno S. Aquino III in bringing home from his trip to the United States some US$ 2.8 billion worth of investments that would help boost the economy and generate more job opportunities for Filipinos.

Marikina City Rep. Marcelino Teodoro said the US$ 2.8 billion, or P123.2 billion worth of investment brought in by the President is a commendable accomplishment by the Aquino administration as these will result in positive social and economic changes.

"These investments will help boost local and other foreign investments in the country. Aside from the economic returns from taxes that these will generate, these investments will provide better job opportunities for Filipinos," he said.

On the other hand, Compostela Valley Rep. Maria Carmen Apsay said the President's efforts at bringing in investments are testament to international community's commitment to invest in the country.
She lauded President Aquino's feat, saying these investments will go a long way towards building economic independence.

"The President's achievement is the fruit of all our efforts to move forward, and we will continue to work together in creating and building economic independence," the Mindanao solon said.

"Patuloy rin po tayong magtatrabaho upang salubungin ang ganitong pagpundar sa ating bansa at bayan (We will continue to work harder to match the effort of the administration)," she added.

For his part, Misamis Occidental Rep. Loreto Leo Ocampos said he is impressed by the performance of the President in his U.S. trip.

"He (President Aquino) has delivered the bacon resulting in thousands of jobs, thereby boosting the local economy," he said.

But for Gabriela Party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, she said the whole nation would have to wait for these investments to be actualized.

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating," she said. (PIA V Release)
NATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN UP—Photo shows the coastal clean up in Brgy. Puro, Legazpi City. Other agencies who joined the clean up were assigned in different municipalities of the province of Albay. Civic Organization who joined the said activities are: (Rotary Clubs, Kabalikat Civicom, Earthsavers, Youth for Christ, Ako Bicol, Bicol Scuba Divers etc) and government agencies, provincial employees, barangay councils, PAF, Phil Army, Phil Navy NAVFORSOL, Coast Guard, DENR-EMB, schools-from prep (St Agnes Academy) to universities and colleges, held last Saturday Sept. 25. (Rey Nasol, with Contributed courtesy of Jojo Elvira, Provincial Agriculture Rehabilitation Officer, and PIA)

Monday, September 27, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY – The Provincial Government of Albay has adopted an awards program to motivate local government units combat dengue in their localities setting sight a “zero casualty” target and prevent the spread of the dreaded disease.

Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda told PIA News Service that the awards program recognizes the performance or achievements of city and municipal governments in the province for preempting or stamping out dengue cases in their respective areas.

“We reward outputs, not inputs; real outcomes, not efforts,” stressed Salceda.

The awards program, the governor furthered, will be given for both monthly and year-to-date feats of LGUs to prevent and control dengue infections and death.

Awards up for grabs include “Zero Dengue for the Month” commencing this Setember 2010 for LGUs with no recorded dengue cases; while the “Performance Award” will be conferred only to LGUs with a minimum of six (6) months dengue-free out of the part eigth (8) months.

In the event of a tie, the city or municipality with the lowest incidence will determine the rank of the awardees, computed on the basis of dengue cases recorded over the total population.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Albay has cited Libon town garnering both awards for Zero Dengue for the Month of August and ranking first as dengue-free for seven months out of the past eight months. The town recorded the lone dengue case on March, this year, out of its 71,328 population, with an attack rate of 0.001 percent.

Jovellar has also recorded zero dengue case for August and ranks second for seven months dengue-free with also lone dengue case in February out of 18,249 population implying a 0.005 percent attack rate, followed by Malilipot with two cases out of 34,802 population, 0.006 percent attack rate, and six months dengue-free; Oas recording four cases out of 66,188, 0.006 percent, and five months dengue-free; and Malinao, four cases out of 40,939 with 0.010 percent and five months dengue-free.

PHO Albay has recorded 1,095 dengue cases out of the 1,233,695 population across Albay from January to August this year, with three deaths recoded in Daraga town (2) and Tabaco City (1).

PHO Albay chief Dr. Luis Mendoza has announced that awardees will be conferred with the certificates of recognition this coming Friday (October 1) at the AECID Hall of the PDMO Building, Provincial Capitol here to coincide with the briefing for the National Philhealth Registration Day. (MALOterte, PIA V)

Friday, September 24, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Bicol will stage anew the the “Orgullo kan Bikol” Regional Trade Fair on October 7-10, 2010 at Megatrade Hall 2, of the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.

DTI Bicol Regional Director Jocelyn L.B. Blanco said the trade fair is an annual marketing event where Bicol’s homegrown entrepreneurs are afforded valuable market exposure showcasing the region’s distinct products, ethnic foods, and delicacies, among others.

Blanco averred that the “Orgullo kan Bikol” is now on its 14th year and acclaimed to be the longest running DTI-organized trade fair in the country.

Blanco furthered that DTI remains committed to provide its clients – the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) better avenues to promote their fine products.

“By way of trade fairs, we enjoin domestic and foreign buyers to take a closer look and become more aware of what our homegrown MSMEs produce. We also encourage our MSMEs to continuously improve and become more globally competitive despite difficult times,” she explained.

The agency has aptly chosen this year’s theme “Weaving Opportunities”, to unite opportunities in pursuit of fresh markets for these entrepreneurs.

For this year, a total of 103 manufacturers/exhibitors will join the event, including 32 traders coming from Albay; Camarines Sur, 22; Catanduanes,10; Sorsogon, 18; Masbate, 5; Camarines Norte, 10; and, 8 from beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“It will feature 20 new participants, who will now be given full marketing assistance by the DTI via this trade fair,” she said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Bicol will also join as an institutional exhibitor.

DTI has also slated the Bicol Investment Conference (BICon) on October 8 at 1:00 pm at the SM Megamall Conference Center, also highlighting the trade fair.

BICon aims to present potential Bicol investment areas/projects for promotion to investors and synchronize investment promotion activities by stakeholders and concerned institutions in Bicol. (JRBerango, DTI V/PIA/mal))


PILI, Camaries Sur — Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has met and interfaced with some 700 farmers and local chief executives of Camarines Sur in his first Bicol’s sorties on Thursday (September 23) since he assumed his post in the agency.

Alcala led the awarding of checks amounting to some P1.6 million for several livelihood projects of rural-based organizations, rural youth organizations, farm machineries and postharvest equipment for farmers association.

He also turned-over certificates of ownership to the recipients of 26 units of green house and three units of packaging house as well as certificates to operate three units of “Bagsakan Centers” and 25 units of “Barangay Bagsakan” to LGU recipients.

Alcala was the guest of honor during the graduation ceremonies for some 200 farmers who completed the course on postharvest technologies via the school-on-the air which DA Bicol conducted in collaboration with the Philippine Postharvest Research Center for Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).

DA Regional Executive Director Marilyn V. Sta. Catalina said the secretary visited the Regional Freshwater Fisheries Training Center of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Barangay Fabrica, Bula town leading the inauguration of the newly-constructed facilities funded by the Japanese government.

The DA chief also met with the heads of DA attached bureaus and Camariens Sur’s local chief executives and local media discussing the “AgriPinoy” concept anchored on the principles of sustainable agriculture, natural resource-based management, food security and local development.

A techno clinic was also be conducted at the Capitol Convention Center providing opportunity to farmers, extension workers and other stakeholders to get updates and consult with those concerned on matters pertaining to agriculture.

Participating agencies included the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Agricultural Technology Institute (ATI), PhilMech, PCIC and local manufacturers/fabricators of farm equipment/machines. (EBBordado, DA V/PIA/mal)


LEGAZPI CITY — A ranking New People’s Army (NPA) rebel was slain in encounter with Army troopers on Wednesday in a village in Goa town in Camarines Sur, Philippine Army (PA) report said.

The slain NPA leader was identified as Elmer Osila alias Ka Fredo, Secretary General of Guerrilla Front Committee (GF) 75 operating in Camarines Sur.

Cabunoc said the incident took place at around 7:15 pm Wednesday (September 15) in Barangay Lamon a remote village in Goa town where a platoon of soldiers engage a 10-man band of NPA rebels led by Osila in a 5 minute running gun battle.

Cabunoc quoting a report from 1st Lt. Dion Elliot leader of the Army platoon said during the exchange of gun fire between the Army soldiers and the rebels Osila was fatally hit killing him instantly.

Elliot said “the first volley of gunfire send the NPA leader down as his companions sensing their defeat immediately fled leaving their leader at the encounter site.”

Soldiers at the clearing operation found Osila’ s body with his .45 cal. Handgun, they also recovered from the fight scene a 9mm pistol and a blood soaked jacket left by the fleeing rebels.

According to Elliot, they were responding to an information send by residents there that the NPA band led by Osila was campaigning for their favoured candidate for the October Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Election.

Elliot said the informant told him the group were either convincing or harassing the villagers to support their candidates for the barangay election.

The body of Osila was brought to the town hall for police documentation purposes.

Military and police records indicate that Osila gained notoriety after his involvement in attacks on heavy equipment by private contractors implementing infrastructure projects in the area.

He was responsible for the ambush that claimed the lives of four soldiers including 2nd Lt. Michael Logronio in Presentacion town last July.

Military report said his group was also involved in the burning of two heavy equipment owned by the Sunwest Corporation and the killing of two militiamen in Presentacion town in Camarines Sur.

Army Maj. Gen. Ruperto Pabustan, commanding general of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division based in Pili, Camarines Sur said Osila death was considered a “big blow” on the NPA in Bicol, as he directed his field commanders to pursue the remnants of Osila’s group. (PNA Bicol/PIA/mal)


LEGAZPI CITY — The newly-completed Padang Bridge here was formally inaugurated last September 11 (Saturday) by Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay first congressional district and Mayor Geraldine B. Rosal of Legazpi City.

The bridge, once destroyed by typhoon “Reming” in 2006 and lahar cascading from Mayon Volcano, costs some P32 million to complete the 282 meter stretch of the bridge and approaches and constructed by WCS Construction under the supervision of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Albay 2nd Engineering District Office, headed by Engineer Manuel Azurin.

Furthermore, The construction of the new bridge was made possible through the efforts of Lagman, who thanked Rep. Al Francis Bichara of Albay second congressional district and then Mayor and now Administrator Noel E. Rosal of this city for giving him an opportunity to push for the completion the said bridge even if is it not his jurisdiction.

Lagman recalled that commuters, travelers, traders, among others from both first and second congressional districts of the province, as well as emergency cases and the transport of goods and commodities were greatly affected by then detour lane temporarily constructed especially in times of heavy traffic, rainy days, mud flows and flooding who stalled the flow of traffic prior to the completion of the bridge. .

On the other hand, Mayor Geraldine B. Rosal was grateful Lagman for his indefatigable efforts that made headway after the successful construction of the said bridge.

The city chief executive likewise said that this new bridge is very important for the locals first and foremost because this will resuscitate the accessibility and other business activities in this part of the province. (MPSolis, LGU Legazpi City/PIA/mal)

Int’l Coastal Cleanup Day 2010

RAPU-RAPU, Albay — Workers at the Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project (RRPP) and mining stakeholders picked up a total of some 3,700 kilos of garbage in two separate cleanup drives in Barangay Pagcolbon here in line with the celebration of International Coastal Cleanup Day 2010 on September 18.

According to Carmelita Pacis, RRPP environmental department manager, the clean-up of Malobago Shoreline and Project Wharf Underwater netted some 3,000 kilos of waste —1,000 kgs from the shorelines, mostly plastics, and 2,000 kilos from underwater near the project wharf, comprised of debris such as rubber tires, sacks, PVC pipes and scrap metals.
Eighty (80) employees, workers and officers at RRPP and 21 company scholars from the barangay conducted the one-hour shoreline cleanup while a group of company scuba divers carried out the 3-hour underwater cleanup.

The project was implemented after Rapu-Rapu Minerals Inc. president Rogelio Corpus and Vice President Alex Limosnero, together with Pacis, paid a courtesy call to barangay captain Reynold Asuncion.

The other activity, the Rapu-Rapu Poblacion Shoreline Cleanup, conducted a day earlier on Sept. 17 collected some 700 kgs of trash. The Municipal Police Station of Rapu-Rapu, Albay spearheaded the hour-and-a-half cleanup drive at the pier site and Poblacion shoreline joined by some residents and the 31-man RRPP contingent, led by the Security Manager Francis Suan and the Special CAFGU (SCAA).

The International Coastal Cleanup Day is conducted every year under the banner of the Clean Up the World/Clean up the Philippines campaign of which RRPP is an adherent. (ANP/CACalleja, RRPP/PIA/mal)



The year-on-year inflation rate of Bicol Region continued to slow down at 3.8 per cent in August from 3.9 per cent in July. However, compared to the 1.6 per cent inflation rate in the same period last year, the August 2010 rate was higher by 2.2 percentage points.

The slight decrease in the inflation rate for August can be attributed to the decline in the annual price increments recorded in the fuel, light and water index (6.4 per cent from 7.7 percent); services (2.2 percent from 2.7 percent); and clothing (1.2 percent from 1.3 percent). On the other hand, the previous moth’s annual inflation rate was maintained in the indices of the remaining commodity groups as follows – food, beverages and tobacco (4.5 percent), housing & repairs (1.8 percent) and miscellaneous items (2.1 percent).

Across provinces, higher annual inflation rates were noted in Albay (3.2 percent from 3.0 percent), Camarines Norte (4.7 percent from 3.8 percent) and Catanduanes (3.4 percent from 3.3 percent). On the other hand, a slower rate compared to the previous month was recorded in Camarines Sur (3.6 percent from 3.8 percent), Masbate (4.0 percent from 5.1 percent) and Sorsogon (4.5 percent from 4.8 percent).


On a month-to-month basis, the consumer price index (CPI) for all income households in the region was registered at 167.3 in August 2010, slightly higher by 0.6 index point than the July CPI of 166.7. In terms of rate, the all items month-on-month inflation rate was registered at 0.4 percent in August from zero growth in July.

The overall rate of food, beverages and tobacco (FBT) index increased to 0.7 percent in August from 0.1 percent in July. The increase in FBT was influenced by the higher price increments in the indices of cereal and cereal preparation (.07 percent from 0.0 percent), dairy products (0.2 percent from 0.1 percent), eggs (0.4 percent from 0.1 percent), fruits & vegetables (2.1 percent from 1.6 percent) and miscellaneous foods (1.8 percent from 1.2 percent). Upward adjustments in the prices of sugar and cooking oil pulled up the miscellaneous foods index to its current rate. The effect of those increases were counteracted by the negative rates recorded in fish (-0.9 percent from -1.8 percent) and meat (-0.1 percent from 0.5 percent). Enough supply of selected fish species and broiler chicken in the markets
primarily brought down the fish and meat indices at its respective rates. Meanwhile, the same rate as in July was registered in the indices of beverages (0.1 percent) and tobacco (0.3 percent).

Under the no-food group, prices of housing and repairs item items continued to post a zero growth since June 2010. On the other hand, the fuel, light and water index (FLW) still posed a negative rate (-0.7 percent from -0.9 percent) due to the price decline in LPG. Similarly, services index recorded a negative rate (-0.1 percent from 0.2 percent) because of the rollbacks in the prices of gasoline and diesel. On the other hand, the previous month’s rate was maintained in the indices of clothing and miscellaneous items at 0.1 percent. Overall rate or non-food remained negative at -0.2 percent from -0.1 percent.

With such prices of the commodities and services, the Bicol Region’s purchasing power of peso (PPP) remained at P0.60. Across provinces, the previous month’s PPP was maintained in Albay (P0.59), Camarines Sur (P0.62), Catanduanes (P0.55), Masbate (P0.60) and Sorsogon (P0.59). On the other hand, PPP in Camarines Norte declined by one centavo at P0.58 from P0.59. (NSO V/PIA)
MARITIME WEEK CELEBRATION – A press conference was conducted after the water search and rescue drill at sea, held at Embarcadero Business Center, Legazpi City, today September 24. Participated by Maritime Community including NAVFORSOL and other government agencies, with the theme: Philippine Maritime Industry: Onward to Global Competitiveness. In attendance (L-R) PIA Dir Eduardo A. de Leon, Legazpi City Vice-Mayor Vittorio Roces, Commodore Joel Babas, AFP, Albay Vice-Governor Harold Imperial, MARINA Dir. Lucy Madarang, other guest, print and broadcast media practitioners. (Alex Cal/PIA)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Department of Health OIC-ARD Dr. Virgilio Ludovice discuss the importance and awareness of every Filipino regarding the Nationwide PhilHealth Registration Day comes October 2, 2010 during the press conference held at Kanso Restaurant, Legazpi City. (Alex Cal/PIA)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY— Ako Bikol partylist (AKB) has filed House Bill No. 3198 converting the Presidential Security Group (PSG) into a highly professional civilian security organization which will be re-named as the Government Protection and Security Service (GPSS).

AKB Cong. Rodel M. Batocabe explained that in said bill the GPSS will be created under the control and direction of the Office of the President and no longer as a military unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Currently, the PSG is a unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with headquarters in the Malacañang Palace although police personnel and operators from the PNP Special Weapons and Tactics and Special Action Force are also assigned in the PSG.

Batocabe furthered that AKB sought the need to pass the bill in response to the unpopular perception that PSG posts are perceived to be the most sought-after assignment as they are closest to the seat of power – the presidency.

Military and police officers and personnel are designated to the PSG which serves as a spring board for their professional careers. It is also alleged that military or police personnel assigned to the PSG are politicized as they are promised high-ranking positions in the AFP or PNP and stay beholden to officials they have served.

To date, there had been at least three (3) PSG Commanders who had become AFP Chief-of-Staff or assigned to other high-ranking posts who are perceived, rightly or wrongly, to have been appointed because of their closeness to the President.

Batocabe believes that “this perception should be eradicated as it demoralizes the members of the armed forces and weakens the public’s confidence in its military.”

“The creation of an institutionalized civilian agency, independent from the AFP or PNP, ensures that the protective role of the agency, that is, ensuring the safety of national leaders, their families, the Malacañang Palace, and foreign visitors, shall be upheld and given utmost priority,” he stated. (AKB/PIA/mal)


SORSOGON CITY— The Department of Health (DOH and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), in collaboration with its partner agencies, spearheaded here on Tuesday (September 21) the one-day orientation and organizational meeting in preparation for the Nationwide PhilHealth Registration Day set on October 2, 2010.

The upcoming activity is in consonance with President Benigno C. Aquino’s priority agenda to ensure that all Filipinos, especially the indigents, to have access to quality health care services through universal health care in three year-time.

PhilHealth Bicol focal person for Sorsogon Jindra Mingoy said that membership coverage of the poor and the informal sectors remains inadequate due to poor targeting system, unsustained enrolment, inaccessible accredited facilities and poor awareness regarding PhilHealth entitlement and processes.

“With P-Noy’s priority now of ensuring quality health care services to all Filipinos, it is expected that these concerns will be addressed. In fact, in Sorsogon alone, some 40, 726 indigents identified through the National Household Targeting System – Proxy Means Test (NHTS-PMT) of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are likely to gather at the Sorsogon Provincial Gymnasium on October 2 to register,” she said.

She further added that interested registrants may still visit the nearest PhilHealth office, selected public schools or the local DSWD counterparts in their respective localities for further details.

Meanwhile, in support to the program, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Sorsogon Information Center has crafted canned radio plug distributed to local broadcast media here.

The DOH as the lead agency, on the other hand, is helped by the DILG in engaging local chief executives in the enrollment of indigents identified by the DSWD in their respective jurisdictions, while the Department of Education (DepEd) helps conduct Information Education Campaign (IEC) among parents through their Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) to encourage them to register and become Philhealth members. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon/mal)


MASBATE CITY—The office here of the Department of Health (DOH) and its partners kicked off Tuesday (September 21) preparations in support of the massive registration for the government’s health insurance program on Oct. 2, Saturday.

Norlinda Castillo of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) said some 46,900 families identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development as the “poorest of the poor” in Masbate are targeted for the day-long registration which will be held in this city’s crowded corners as part of what is billed as “Nationwide PhilHealth Registration Day.”

In a briefing for representatives of agencies and non-government organizations that will take part in the event, Castillo said the national government has pledged to shoulder the cost of their insurance premiums—at least P1,200 yearly—as part of efforts to carry out President Aquino’s promise to provide health care coverage to the country’s poor within three years.

To be drummed into public awareness with the slogan “PhilHealth Sabado, Magseguro, Magparehistro,” the event aims to instill in every citizen the value of a PhilHealth membership, which assures him or her and their dependents proper health service.

According to DOH’s Pedro Lee who will oversee the registration in the three venues, the event also intends to enlist the self-employed under PhilHealth’s “Individually Paying Program.”

In a plan crafted during the briefing, the registration will be held in the local PhilHealth office, at the main public market here, and in the city’s main park.

The local government units, local offices of the Department of Education, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Philippine Information Agency, DSWD and members of civil society and non-government organizations comprise the back-up team for DOH and PhilHealth.—(EA Delgado, PIA Masbate/mal)


LEGAZPI CITY – Fed up with a decade’s long arms struggle at least nine New People’s Army (NPA) rebels operating in Albay voluntarily surrendered to military authorities on Friday (September 17), a military official said.

Lt. Col. John Oberio, commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Albay, said that rebels that are members of the Barangay Revolutionary Committee of the communist movement turned themselves in at around 10:00am Friday in his headquarters in Ligao City.

Oberio identified the surrenderees as Margie Bayle alias Cheryl, Marilon Orido alias Lay, Joe Morada alais . Boy, Santos Alcadeza alias Karantog, Edralyn Sodsod alias Chie, Nicanor Lambo alias Bugoy, Rolando Almojuela alias Joy, Homer Espana alias Lito and Jose Lupera alias Juan.

Oberio said the surrederees told him that they have realized that their fight against the government was an exercise in futility.

The former rebels have already undergone custodial debriefing by soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Battalion in Ligao City.

The civil-military operations (CMO) efforts initiated by the Army have remarkably led to the surrender of a big number of NPA rebels in various part of Bicol.

He said tactical offensives had been intensified due to the rising number of tipsters who pinpointed the locations of NPA rebels and its hideouts.

“It is now easier to find and capture these rebels with the valuable help provided by the local residents themselves,” Oberio added.

Recently, a series of brief firefights occurred in Albay that led to the killing of several NPA rebels and the capture of a ranking communist leader identified as a certain Alvin Orpiada.

The invaluable information provided by the civilian was attributed to the success of the military operations.

During his field visit to Army camps in Bicol on Wednesday (Sept. 15), Major General Arturo Ortiz, the Army Chief, awarded combat medals to soldiers who figured in the successful encounters against the bandit rebels in Albay. (PNA Bicol/PIA/mal)


LEGAZPI CITY--- Army soldiers recently unearthed two gravesites of three civilians that were summarily executed by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) in Albay and Sorsogon, military reports said.

In Albay, Army soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, led by Lt. Col. John Oberio, exhumed the remains of two people who were killed by the NPA rebels in Cabarian village, Ligao City at around 2:30 pm Tuesday (September 14).

A former rebel, who is now helping the military in its campaign against the insurgents, pinpointed the exact location of the gravesite.

Oberio identified the victims as Manuel Harden, 46, and his brother Domingueto, 44, both members of the communist movement.

The victims were accused by the communist movement as military assets and were sentenced to death through the movement’s ‘kangaroo court’.

In Sorsogon Army soldiers also exhumed on September 9 the remains of Julius Escudero, a militiaman who was abducted and killed by the NPA sometime in 2006.

The remains of Escudero were exhumed in barangay Marinas, a remote village in Sorsogon City.

According to military intelligence the discovery of the various gravesites is an indication that the communist movement continues to purge its own ranks and resort of extra judicial killing against those members they believe are returning into the folds of the law.

Major General Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, has called on various human rights groups and local officials to denounce the dastardly acts by the NPA bandits.

“The continuous killing spree perpetrated by the NPA in 2010 is the indication that the bandit group remains as the main violators of the International Humanitarian Law. It is high time that local leaders and human rights groups take a stand to condemn these senseless killings,” said Pabustan.

Meanwhile, a notorious gang member was s shot to death by suspected NPA rebels on Wednesday (September 15) in Pamplona town in Camarines Sur, a military official said.

LtCol Ernesto Cruz, commander of the Army’s 42nd Infantry Battalion based in Camarines Sur, identified the victim as Sonny Nollasco, 27, a resident of Tambo village, Pamplona town.

Cruz said that five armed men approached the victim near his house and dragged him to a swamp where he was shot in close range with Cal .45 pistol at around 10:20am Wednesday.

“The victim was tagged as a member of the notorious hold-up gang in the area. He was shot to death in front of his relatives who witnessed the crime,” said Cruz.

Lt. Col. Leoncio Cirunay, Commander of the 22nd Infantry Battalion also said that Nollasco was a former NPA rebel who asked for his help in going back to mainstream society.

“I was studying the possibility of letting him (Nollasco) join my CAFGU personnel. This is my own way of helping enlightened members of the bandit group to become peaceful citizens in our country,” said Cirunay.

Nollasco is the 35th victim of the bandit group’s policy of extra-judicial killing after the shooting of Rey Diolata, 24, in Gubat town in Sorsogon on September 10. Diolata was killed by NPA rebels in front of his wife and children. (PNA Bicol/PIA/mal)


SORSOGON PROVINCE (Sept 20) – Consistent with the national and regional goals, the Department of Trade and Industry – Comprehensive Agrarian Reform program (DTI-CARP) Sorsogon has implemented programs and projects that capacitated agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to become entrepreneurs.

According to DTI Provincial Director Leah Pagao, this effort has resulted to the creation and development of new enterprises along food processing and handicraft making and the managerial and skills training programs resulted to the emergence of equipped ARB-entrepreneurs ready to produce quality products that will serve the demand of the market.

Pagao said that to make the assistance more comprehensive, product development programs were further provided to both food and handicraft sectors. “DTI-CARP succeeded in developing ten product labels to the food producers,” she added.

Mr. Andres De Dios, a freelance designer, was commissioned to come-up with designs, introduce innovations with consideration on the latest trends and colors particularly on the “bayong” so as to increase the marketability of handicrafts,

The twenty five designs provided were all executed into new prototypes.

“With this package of assistances ten ARCs are now taking off with their projects. Through market matching activities, they were able to realize sales amounting to P436,000,” said Pagao.

Among the MSME-ARBs, coops and groups who are geared - up to set its footprints on the road to success are: Juban and Casiguran Weavers, Macalaya Handicraft Association (Castilla), Boton Handicraft Workers Association (Casiguran), GK Poblacion Weavers (Castilla), LK Handicraft (Juban), Luna’s Food Products (Irosin), Edsun Pilinut Products (Prieto Diaz) and Teresa Lareza Food Products (Casiguran).

“In terms of bottomlines, the DTI-CARP contributed investments of P2,636,000, sales of P3,559,000, creation of 105 jobs, development of 28 entrepreneurs and provided assistance to 347 ARBs for the first semester of 2010,” Pagao also bared. (LJMapagdalita, FFSy & SCMalaya, DTI, Sorsogon/PIA/mal)

Aquino to meet Obama and other world leaders

MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III is looking forward to meeting with heads of state and heads of government from around the world including United States President Barack Obama while he is in New York to attend the 65th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The President left Manila on Monday (Sept. 20) for his first foreign trip as the country’s Chief Executive.

In an interview upon his arrival in New York, the President said his attendance at the UNGA will give him the opportunity to meet with his counterparts “to be able to resolve a lot of issues and we can get better cooperation amongst the concerns, especially in ASEAN.”

Some 150 world leaders are attending the 65th UNGA.

The President also expressed hope that his proposed one-on-one meeting with President Barack Obama will push through.

“If I get the chance to meet with President Obama, of course, that would be most welcome. There are a lot of concerns that have to be taken up with President Obama,” he said.

According to the President, the proposed one-on-one meeting with Obama had yet to be confirmed. However, they will have a chance to meet when the US President meets the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during the 2nd US-ASEAN Leader’s Meeting..

The President will be the coordinator for the 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders meeting in New York as the Philippines is currently the Country Coordinator for ASEAN-US Dialogue relations for 2009-2012. (PIA V Release)

Aquino shuns expensive dinners, stays at cheaper hotel in New York

MANILA — There will be no expensive dinners for President Benigno S. Aquino III and his official delegation while they are in New York.

The Chief Executive, who is on a weeklong working visit to the United States to attend the 65th United Nations General Assembly, said he was looking forward to eating hotdogs, pizza and chow mien in New York.

He recalled that his family used to eat pizza and chao mien when they were in Boston while his late father, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was in exile.

Shortly after his arrival in San Francisco, the President together with his delegation ate hamburgers at the “In and Out “.

The President noted that he and his cabinet secretaries were like kids as they enjoyed eating their burgers which were really huge.

The President, who shuns using sirens in his travels around the country, also said that his escorts in New York used sirens to take him from the airport to the Sofitel Hotel, where he is billeted during the duration of his stay in the city. He described it as something beyond his control as “we’re just visitors here.”

The President chose to stay at the cheaper Sofitel instead of the more elegant and expensive Waldorf-Astoria but the room he is occupying has likewise an ambience that befits a head of state. (PIA V Release)

Aquino to meet with business leaders in New York

MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III will meet with several business leaders in New York on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), in line with his efforts to attract investors to the country.

In a media briefing in Malacanang, Wednesday morning, Deputy Spokesperson Abigail dela Fuente-Valte said President Aquino is scheduled to meet with former US Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger and officials of the Synergos Institute and AES Corporation as well as World Bank president Robert Zoellick.

Also part of his itinerary is an interview with the Wall Street Journal and the conferment rights at the College of Math Saint Vincent where he will receive the Elizabeth Ann Seton medal, the highest honors given by the school.

Valte said that part of the topics the President will discuss with officials of the AES Corporation is a possible expansion of its power plant’s capacity. AES is an electricity generation and distribution company which has a plant in Masinloc, Zambales.

Valte said the President’s meeting with Zoellick will cover issues such as climate change, additional infrastructure funding and additional support from World Bank’s country assistance fund.

One of the highlights of the President’s US visit is his speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, Thursday, (Friday in Manila) where he is expected to appeal for greater cooperation not just between the developed and developing countries but among all nations. (PIA V Release)

Aquino to attend ASEAN Summit and visit Vietnam in October

MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III will go to Hanoi on Oct. 28 to 30 to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit.

But prior to his attendance at the ASEAN Summit, the Chief Executive will first make a state visit to Vietnam upon the personal invitation of Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said, in an interview in New York, that the President was originally scheduled to visit Vietnam last September 13-14 but the hostage crisis took place at the Quirino Grandstand last August 23, which forced the President to stay and attend to domestic problems.

According to Romulo, when he informed President Triet of the postponement, the latter understood completely. “President Triet thanked President Aquino for congratulating Vietnam on the celebration of their 65th anniversary.”

Romulo said the two leaders talked about the ASEAN-US meeting that will take place this Friday (Sept. 24) and President Aquino, as the coordinator, just talked about their full agenda including the communiqué, which has been arranged by the senior officials.

He reported to the Vietnamese leader that President Aquino is looking forward to his visit to Hanoi in order to “deepen the relationship already existing between the two countries.”

The Vietnamese president also expressed his confidence in the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Vietnam.

President Aquino said he expects to sign in Hanoi the agreements on higher education, defense, maritime issues and disaster coordination, including oil spill and natural calamities, Romulo added. (PIA V Release)

More world leaders invite Aquino

MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III has yet to finish his official schedules in the United States but already invitations are pouring for him to visit other nations.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, in an interview Tuesday night in New York, said leaders of several countries including China want to cement their relations with the Philippines.

Romulo said a representative from China extended the invitation to President Aquino.

“There are invitations to him everywhere. But like he said, in accordance with tradition he will visit the Association of Southeast Asian nations first, which is in Hanoi for the regional ASEAN summit,” he said.

Expected to be discussed in President’s Aquino’s expected meeting with US President Barack Obama, according to Romulo, is the Asean US agenda pertaining to the regions and the continuation of the ASEAN-US Summit.

It should also tackle, he said, the Eminent Persons Group by which each country to the US would name an eminent person to discuss further how the ASEAN-US will continue to proceed as an important grouping.

The Philippines has been the coordinator of the ASEAN-US summit meetings since last year and will continue to do so until next year, he said.

Romulo said the meeting between President Aquino and President Obama will tackle future agenda in the Philippines’ role of coordinator, and the topics will be up for ASEAN members to agree on. The ASEAN chair now is Vietnam and the US and next year it will be Indonesia and the US.

According to Romulo, issues common to ASEAN and the US include the declaration of conduct in the South China Sea, of which there is a declaration between the Asean-10 and China.

Asked why the President was not scheduled to be among the first four speakers at the UN General Assembly, Romulo said “we have arranged it as such because he has so many other meetings to attend to. The first speaker is always Brazil then the United States then the country of the president of the General Assembly, Romulo explained. (PIA V Release)

Monday, September 20, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY — The National Maritime Week celebration has commenced Monday (September 20) promoting the contribution of the maritime sector and a fitting tribute to the country’s seafarers who enliven the domestic and foreign commerce.

This year’s celebration evolves on the theme, the “Philippine Maritime Industry: Onward to Global Competitiveness”
Atty, Francisquiel Mancile, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Legazpi City port manager, said the observance serves as an excellent avenue to raise the level of people’s consciousness on issues and concerns prevalent in the maritime front like the seafarers’ welfare, marine habitats and coastal activities, prevention and disaster response protocol and dimensions, among others, as well as highlight the role of maritime sector in nation-building.

Now on its 15th year, this year’s celebration started off with the National Seafarer’s Day Thanksgiving Mass September 20 at the Modular passenger shed at the Port of Legazpi, followed by a Tribute to Fallen Sailors/Memorial at the Sea, Blowing of Ship’s Horn, Floral Offering to Lost and Dead Seafarers and Motorcade within selected city thoroughfares.

On Tuesday (September 21), the Static Display/Video Show will be launched to feature the agencies under the Department of Transportation and Communication’s Water Sector, namely the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), & Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). Also featured will be the Philippine Navy, PNP-Maritime Group, Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) and Mariners’ Polytechnic Colleges Foundation. The exhibit will last up to September 26, 2010.

The subsequent days will have the Maritime Seminar on Career Path (Sept. 22); Search for Outstanding Merchant Marine Cadet 2010 (Sept. 23); Search and Rescue Drill; boodle fight; and, launching of the Philippine Marine Environment Protection Associate (PHILMERA) will all be held on Sept. 24; the Coastal Clean-Up, and Maritime Quiz Bee (General Maritime Information) is set on Sept. 25.

The week-long events may also serve as avenue for both the public and private sectors to engage in dynamic interaction and information sharing with the end-view of unifying efforts and consciousness to be able to meet the many challenges besetting our maritime front. (PPA V/PIA/mal)


LEGAZPI CITY — Disaster managers in Bicol region are in full force to test disaster response capabilities as a Water Search and Rescue Drill (WASAR) is set on Friday at the coastal waters of this city, an officer of the Philippine Navy (PN) in Bicol said.

Ensign Denver Ramon, Naval Forces Southern Luzon (Navforsol) spokesman, said the disaster preparedness and response drill would put to test various maritime groups in land, sea, and air disaster search and rescue operation.

The activity aims to gauge the preparedness of rescuers of different agencies in the advent of sea disasters as well as develop their interoperability to carry out an efficient and successful search and rescue operations. Rescuers will also display to Bicolanos their capability in responding sea mishaps.

Ramon averred the exercise will train participants on rescue at sea, and provide opportunity to train Naval Special Operations Unit personnel on some aspect of special rescue operations such as Helo-cast.

“The drill will involve the use of two Cessna planes, two Huey helicopters, six rubber boats, a Navy Patrol gun boat, an ambulance and a fire truck,” added Ramon.

Ramon furthered the search and rescue drill would involve 68 personnel from the PN, Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group (PAF-TOG), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), PNP Maritime, Albay Health Emergency Management (AHEM), and the Bureau Fire Protection (BFP), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Maritime Polytechnic College Foundation, and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

The drill highlights the observance of the National Maritime Week Celebration on September 20-26 and pre-anniversary activities of Navforsol’s 8th Foundation Day on October 4 2010.

Navforsol’s, in partnership with maritime agencies, will spearhead the joint capability demonstration on WASAR along Embarcadero waters here. (MALoterte, PIA V)


SORSOGON Province — The Sorsogon Consumers Association, Inc. (SORCASS), an active partner of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the implementation of consumer welfare programs, has commenced with the retooling of the “Timbangan ng Bayan” (public weighing scales) in several towns in the province .

Initially, two new weighing scales were turned-over to municipal public market in Casiguran town and Abuyog satellite market in Sorsogon City just recently through their respective custodians, market administrator Luisito Mendoza, Jr. and Isagani Hubilla, respectively.

The turn-over was witnessed by Casiguran town Mayor Ester Hamor and Abuyog OIC Punong Barangay Augusto Laguna.

DTI Sorsogon Consumer Welfare Division Head Evelyn G. Paguio said that the project is a collaborative effort of its volunteer-members to help protect consumers against deceptive sales acts and practices.

SORCASS volunteers who joined the significant event were, Ted and Elsa Malecki, Renerio Hubilla, Mark Grajo, Teresita Go and Salvacion Destura. DTI, on the other hand, was represented by two personnel from the Consumer Welfare Division.

Divina M. Diaz, SORCASS President, meanwhile announced that a similar timbangan will also be given to the municipality of Donsol where the association has a chapter.

Besides being a strong advocate for consumer welfare, the association also assists the DTI in its price monitoring and enforcement activities. (Rod Doctor & SCMalaya, DTI Sor/PIA/mal)

…award after award for ANALOBEL

by Jacque G. Mance, Maynardo E. Doluntap, Jr. & SCMalaya

Sorsogon Province — The backyard enterprise in the coastal barangay of Poropandan in Matnog, province of Sorsogon has grown by leaps. It has become one of the leading handicraft exporters of the province and the company's impact to the community and the local economy has been reaping for Analobel Enterprises awards and recognitions from various institutions.

During the "Halyao Award" for Outstanding Bicolano Businessperson of the Year (Manufacturing Sector) given by the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) in partnership with the City Government of Naga and the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur, Ana G. Gotladera, the proprietor of Analobel Enterprises, proudly received the award.

The event was held on July 3, 2010 at the Villa Caceres Hotel in Naga City. Halyao, is the pre-hispanic word for merchant, it is presented to entrepreneurs who are Bicolano by birth or by affinity, who maintain Management Excellence over a sustained period of time (not shorter than 5 years), resulting to successful enterprise within the region and in the Philippines and that it manifest deliberate and sustainable practices of corporate social responsibility.

It can also be noted that during the OTOP (One Town One Product) National Congress held at the PTTC in Pasay City on March 12, 2010 the company was named as an ENVIRONMENT-FRIENDLY OTOP MSME.

The citation is an acknowledgement of the company's active effort in utilizing local resources and indigenous materials in creating livelihood among the people. As an entrepreneur and advocate of environment-friendly and biodegradable products, Ms. Gotladera, has committed to produce bayong (bags) and packaging materials that help preserve and conserve our environment. "Bayong" has been identified as a good alternative packaging for plastics.

Analobel was also the recipient of 2009's OUTSTANDING OTOP MSME during the 2nd Provincial OTOP Congress in Sorsogon, held on October 2009. The enterprise brought significant impact to the community, starting as organic soap producer in 2002, the company expanded to handicraft the following year to earn better income as well as provide employment opportunities to the marginal folks of Matnog and its neighboring municipalities.

Utilizing the available raw materials in the area and armed with her innate talent in designing, Ms. Gotladera made the company's handicraft business very promising. The number of workers/subcontractors soared from 5 to its present 620. The product lines now include: bags, placemats, hampers, packaging bags and boxes, novelty items and decorative products. Its market also spread extensively within and outside the country. It found a niche in the USA for the packaging bags and boxes, home decors and accessories made from "sinamay" (woven abaca fiber) and buri.

After only eight years, the backyard enterprise has grown to sustain approximately 150 families. An exemplary transformation from micro to small level enterprise, It operates with the strong ideals of, "making business and preserving the environment". (DTI Sorsogon/PIA/mal)


Legazpi City- “We cannot do this alone. Everyone must help, especially the media, if we want illegal recruiters to stop we must expose their modus operandi,” thus stated Administrator Jennifer Jardine Manalili of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in response to DOLE - Bicol’s call for a massive Anti-Illegal Recruitment (AIR), Anti-Human Trafficking, and Anti-Child Labor campaign in the region.

Manalili’s visit in Bicol early this month signified the start of coordinated moves against illegal recruiters, human traffickers and child labor perpetuators, who are terrorizing the region. The moves, including organization, orientation, training of personnel and MOA signing among DOLE, PESO Officers, OWWA, PNP, DOJ and members of the regional tri-media, on RA 8042 (Anti-Illegal Recruitment Law), RA 9208 (Anti-Human Trafficking Law) and RA 7610 (Anti-Child Labor Law) is the first step in the quest to rid Bicol of these illegal menaces.

“For the past 10-years or so, Bicol was never visited by the POEA until now. Actually we planned this earlier but the administrator’s schedule was too tight. Illegal recruitment is present and happening in Bicol but most Bicolanos are not aware of it, so they fall as easy preys.” DOLE Bicol Regional Director Atty. Alvin M. Villamor explained.

The 2-day training was held last August 31 to September 1 in a three (3) separate-public venues as a strategy to tickle the curiosity of Bicolanos. The first venue, on August 1, was at Embarcadero Legazpi on the set of “Kapihan Sa Embarcadero” a weekly gathering and open discussion with recent issues and concerns with Legazpi based tri-media.

The second was at People’s Hall Albay Capitol Building with the Regional PESO Managers and members of the regional tri-media and the third venue, on September 1, was at Coastal View Resort Sto. Domingo, Albay.

Also, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the first ever Regional Anti-Illegal Recruitment, Anti-Human Trafficking, and Anti-Child Labor Alliance codenamed “Rehas Bicol” was signed with POEA Administrator Manalili as the lead signatory on the first day.

“This MOA will strengthen our alliance and it is only the first step. Our next step will be creating an Inter-Regional Alliance with Regions VI, VII, VIII and IX. We need the cooperation of these other regions because Bicol Region serves as a transit point for trafficked persons coming from them.” Villamor stressed.

DOLE and OWWA Bicol took the initiative of inviting POEA Manila to conduct the training after the operation of POEA Bicol and its personnel were suspended due to initial findings of illegalities. (RBEscalante, DOLE Bicol/PIA/mal)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


LEGAZPI CITY — The Albay provincial government has achieved most of its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets earlier than the 2015 global deadline. Since 2007, the province has adopted the United Nations’ defined MDGs as its very own objectives.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said their MDG performance is actually way up the targets at all levels, largely through the efforts of the Albay Millennium Development Goals Office (AMDGO) which he created to monitor their MDG performance and manage their social assets program.

Salceda said he created the AMDGO after re-visioning the original vision of "safe and shared development" where “safe” came to include Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) under the Hyogo Framework (Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters), and “shared” was operationally defined as MDG compliance and sustained improvement in the Human Development Index.

“To put money where our hearts lay, our health budget was increased from P103 million in 2007 to P173 million in 2010, nearly 17 percent of the budget. The allocation for education was similarly increased from virtually nothing outside of the Special Education Fund (SEF) to P178 million this year, while the SEF itself was hiked from P5 million to P18 million,” he added.

The outcomes of the bold moves are most fulfilling -- elementary school participation rates went up from 77 percent to 89 percent in 2009; Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) improved to 12/1000 from 33/1000; Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) dipped to 59/100,000 from 133/100,000); and Child Mortality Rate (CMR) went down to 18/1000 from 23/1000 seven years earlier than target date. Philhealth coverage also increased from 10,000 to 173,000 -- the biggest for any province and virtually universal.

Poverty rate has similarly fallen to 38.7 percent in 2006, the lowest in the Bicol region. And while still high compared to the national 33 percent, recent GDP trends (8.2 percent in 2009) suggest that the downward trajectory is gaining traction. The full coverage of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) combined with massive investments of P37 billion over the past three years are likely to sustain poverty reduction.

This impressive MDG performance, Salceda said, leaves them only two problematic goals -- access to sanitation and improved cohort survival in elementary education.

Currently, Albay focuses on further improving its performance in the National Achievement Test (NAT) of the Department of Education, aiming to hit the top 10 of the NAT by 2016. This objective is not among the MDG targets but is complementary to its enhanced education goal.

Salceda said they have also lobbied with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for full coverage of their 18 towns and cities under the agency’s conditional cash transfers.

”On our part, we have limited the utilization of our annual P100,000 subsidy for barangays to education projects. We will launch BAKAS or Barangay Kasangga sa Edukasyon to recognize barangays which host schools that achieve 100 percent participation and excellent performance in the NAT,” the governor said.

On HIV/AIDs, Albay has activated its Provincial AIDS Council and partnered with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Department of Health (DOH) on programs and projects to outperform the MDG goal. “We put in a dedicated program manager, Mike de la Rama, and recruited an Assistant Chief of the Provincial Health Office, Dr. Felino, with expertise in public health,” he added.

Salceda said he has asked help from DOH and seeks financial assistance from partner NGOs and INGOs to help ensure meeting their problematic goal of access to sanitation as 76,000 homes still do not have sanitary toilets although 96 percent have access to potable water.

“All told, Albay is single-mindedly focused on achieving its MDGs by 2015. We are confident we will. Preliminary results of our journey towards this destination have essentially been rewarding to our people in terms of better health and education outcomes. We have shifted our overall development strategy from physical capital formation to human capital formation. We have also shifted our approach from opportunity-seeking to capability-building,” he explained.

Sound governance is indeed a key to MDG achievement as it helps generate the required resources.
”Similarly, local ownership of set MDGs compels communities to develop pathways and expenditure patterns where good governance is spontaneously built-in. MDG and good governance are twins. They reinforce one another and one cannot do without the other,” Salceda pointed out. (PNA/PIA)


LEGAZPI CITY – Bicol region is all set for the holding of the Nationwide PhilHealth Registration Day (NPRD) on October 2, 2010 which is expected to see the registration of some 800,000 new PhilHealth members nationwide who will benefit under the government health insurance program and eventually attain universal health coverage, according to the Department of Health (DoH) regional office here.

Dr. Nestor Santiago, DoH regional director, said that all preparations are on schedule including the organization of the regional and provincial committees’ task to oversee the registration day activities next month.

Santiago said that of the 800,000 indigent families initially targeted nationwide, 72,044 is earmarked for the region or 9 percent of the more than 379,424 poorest families identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office here.

He said that initially the six PhilHealth provincial service offices will serve as the registration venue while other sites like shopping malls are being considered because of their accessibility.

Santiago added that aside from the indigent families the registration venue will also accommodate enrollment of self employed or the individually paying members and those with expired coverage who wish to continue with their membership.

He said that an IEC campaign on NPRD will be launched by the middle of this month to further inform the prospective PhilHealth members of the medical benefits to be derived from the program.

The Nationwide PhilHealth Registration Day campaign is led by the DOH with PhilHealth, DSWD, DepEd and DILG as members. (EDLeon, PIA V)


SORSOGON Province — Ten Handicraft producers of Sorsogon embarked on a Benchmarking Mission on August 31, 2010 to successful craft makers in Albay province.

Visited firms include RCB Crafts and Design, Nesscraft Philippine Industries, Sola’s Handicraft and the makers of bag handles, buttons, buckles and accessories, the Puenlabrada Handles and Accessories and Balance Handicraft, all located in Tabaco City.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Provincial Director Leah Pagao said, the one-day activity was considered highly beneficial to the participating Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) achieving its objectives of exposing the local firms to the industry practices of known and established handicraft companies.

“It inspired them to improve their own production and competencies to produce more competitive products, allowed them to forge business alliances with other local producers in terms of supply of raw materials and pre-fabricated components, as well as identified potential buyers and widen the market opportunities,” she added.

Pagao said that aside from its being an eye opener, it has also become productive particularly for Fulgosino’s Handicraft of Barcelona who got initial order for her “bacbac” ring bags from Nesscraft Philippine Industries amounting to P16,000.00.

Meanwhile, the companies visited by the group showed interest on Sorsogon products. “In fact, negotiations now are ongoing for the supply of coco shell necklaces, earrings and accessories to said Albay MSMEs,” said Pagao.

Among the firms in Sorsogon that participated in the negotiations were Biday’s Bagol Ini Handicraft of Bulan, Dinglasan Unique Woodworks of Sorsogon City, Irosin Woodworking of Irosin, Sanj Handicraft of Matnog, and five other micro entrepreneurs from the municipalities of Castilla, Donsol and Pilar that is being assisted by Intervida Philippines.

Pagao futher said that to enhance the capabilities of these firms, a technology transfer training was also identified specifically on the new “bayong” trends on coloring and shaping as well as processing of bacbac ring bags to ensure that the demand created by the Tabaco-based handicraft producers will be served according to schedules.

The group likewise visited the OKB (Orgullo Kan Bikol) Showroom in Legazpi City where they were able to acquire valuable inputs on the designs, functions and product presentations.

The activity was successfully accomplished through the collaborative effort of DTI-Sorsogon and Intervida Philippines. (JGMance & SCMalaya, DTI Sor/PIA)


PILI, Camarines Sur — A senior official of the regional office of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) has called on the New People’s Army ‘not to commit dastardly acts’.

CHR Bicol Regional Director Atty. Pelagio Senar was referring to the reported rising numbers of extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the NPA which, this year alone, had claimed at least 34 people including 12 of 9ID’s soldiers and militiamen.

Senar made the statement in an interview with the local media during the CHR Bicol information and education campaign at the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army headquarter here.

“Rebels can only engage the soldiers and militiamen, the combatants, during combat engagements. If you are a non-combatant, termed as ‘hors de combat’, or if you have no firearm, you are not supposed to be fired-upon or killed, that is human rights violation,” said Senar.

Asked about the CPP-NPA-NDF’s continuous outcry about allegations of human rights abuses by the Army, Senar said that, “Dyan sila nagkakamali”.

“CPP-NPA-NDF would like the government forces’ adherence to the International Humanitarian Law; so, they (NPA) must also observe the same provisions. Hindi lang dapat ang Philippine Army ang mag-observe nyan(IHL)”.

Senar also expressed appreciation for the Army’s continuous indoctrination campaign to educate the soldiers on human rights protection.

“The minor infractions allegedly committed by the soldiers in the Bicol Region are practically negligible,” commented Senar.

Army officials led by Colonel Arthur Ang, the Army 9ID chief of staff, toured Senar to the various camp facilities. He (Senar) was shown the Army’s detention center where soldiers with various administrative cases are currently held in custody.

As the soldiers vowed to uphold the provisions of the international humanitarian law, the CPP-NPA-NDF has turned deaf ears on the mounting calls for them to stop committing human rights abuses.

Senar’s visit was punctuated by the NPA’s latest extrajudicial killing when Sonny Rey Diolata, 24, of Tigkiw village in Gubat, Sorsogon was shot and killed by two NPA assassins in front of his wife and children inside his residence at around 7:45pm last night (September 10).

The rebels fled the crime scene after ensuring that Diolata was dead. Responding policemen from Gubat town recovered empty shells for cal .45 pistol and 9mm pistol.

The death of Diolata followed after the exhumation of the skeletal remains of a certain Julius Escudero (previously identified as Julius Espadera) by Army troops on September 9, Thursday. Escudero was a victim of the NPA’s summary execution sometime in 2006. (HMCabunoc, DPAO 9ID PA/PIA)


MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines exhorts all human rights advocates to join in the human rights summit on October this year and be part of a convergence that promotes and protects civil liberties.

Maj Eugenio Julio C Osias IV, Group Commander, Information Development Group of the CRSAFP said that this bid of the military leadership to bring together various groups and personalities is based on a clear and hopeful vision for the realization of human rights; as well as mirror the aspirations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Realization of human rights is one of the most fundamental roles of a state. As embodied in the Philippine Constitution, the AFP is firm on its role as protectors of the people and be a paragon of human rights advocacy. However, all of us who believe in equal rights share the responsibility of promoting it. We hope that this summit can provide the coalition of human rights groups who can be a steady guiding light for every Filipino,” Osias noted.

The AFP also expresses hope that groups like Karapatan and other AFP critics not to immediately cast doubts and easily dismiss the forthcoming summit and the many possibilities it may offer.

“We hope that Karapatan and other groups will listen first to the different voices of human rights advocates before issuing judgments. In fact, the summit may be the best forum for them to raise their issues concerning the AFP. We would appreciate their inputs especially those that can improve AFP’s adherence to human rights. We believe that any event that gives importance to human rights is worth attending and should not be held in low esteem,” conveyed Osias.

The AFP expects other government bureaus, law enforcement and security agencies, non-government organizations, policymakers, human rights foundations, academic institutions, and religious groups, among others to attend the October 2010 summit.

“I believe that we can set aside our differences and work with mutual respect to forge common grounds to ensure human rights and human dignity for every Filipino. Indeed, together, we can make a world of difference,” concluded Osias. (CRS AFP/PIA)


CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur — Army soldiers discovered a suspected ‘killing fields’ in an upland village of Sorsogon City Thursday last week, a military official said.

1st Lieutenant Oliver Dela Cruz, commander of Charlie Company of 49th IB Philippine Army, said that a former rebel pinpointed the location of one of the remains believed to be that of Julius Espadera, a CAFGU member who was abducted by NPA terrorist rebels about four years ago.

The skeletal remains were unearthed by the soldiers in a shallow grave located in Marinas village in Sorsogon City.

Dela Cruz said that the burial site is located in an unpopulated and hilly portion of the village bordering with Gubat town. The local police and some media practitioners accompanied the soldiers as the remains were dug out.

“My informant revealed that Espadera is one of the victims of the summary executions perpetrated by the CPP-NPA-NDF in CY 2006. He (informant) was the one who identified the victim through his clothing,” said Dela Cruz.

The informant had also claimed that there were many other skeletal remains of victims buried by the NPA rebels in that same area. He said that he is finding a way to contact the other former rebels who have direct knowledge about the precise locations of these burial sites.

Espadera’s remains were brought to the police station in Sorsogon City for further investigation. Relatives of the victims were also contacted to help in the identification process.

The terrorist rebels have continued its policy of extra-judicial killings in the Bicol Region as it wage its ‘protracted war’ against the government.

Last year, 52 people were summarily executed for various allegations of ‘offenses against the masses’.

In 2010, military records have tallied 33 people killed all over Bicol Region.

A certain Dondie Dioda of Irosin town was the latest victim after he was gunned down by suspected NPA bandits in Gubat town on September 7. (HMCabunoc, DPAO 9ID PA/PIA)


PILI, Camarines Sur — Ocean Adventure’s most popular dolphin named C2 or better known as “Dolly” in ABS-CBN’s Fantaserye - Agua Bendita, helped the participants from the Provincial Government of Albay and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Bicol in its Training on Marine Mammal (MarMam) Stranding Response held in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Olongapo City on September 1-2, 2010.

Along with two other dolphins, Dolly’s aesthetic beauty, charisma and the ability to brazenly simulate stranding incident assisted the trainees to learn hands-on marine mammal rescue.
“Dolly” is a common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). It is an archetypal and the most adaptable dolphin species found abundantly worldwide and common all over the Philippine waters. It belongs to the Order Cetacea and is classified in the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) Appendix II which means, it is not yet in danger of extinction but could easily become so unless trade is strictly regulated.

Marine mammals like C2 is protected by various laws such as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (RA9174), Animal Welfare Act (RA8485), the Philippine Fisheries Code (RA8550) and by international agreements signed and embraced by the Philippine Government like the CITES, Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or the Bonn Convention), Convention on the Biological Diversity, and Agenda 21 of UNEP’s Sustainable Development.

The hands-on activity in Ocean Adventure was the conclusion of the Marine Mammal Stranding Response Training held in Bacacay, Albay last July 21-23, 2010. It is part of the capacity building activities of the BFAR Bicol in partnership with the Provincial Government of Albay with the objective of strengthening the Local Government Units and other allied agencies in enhancing the technical know-how on responding to stranded whales and dolphins.

Trainees included veterinarians, LGU personnel from coastal municipalities, Provincial Agricultural Services, PNP-Maritime, Philippine Navy, FLET members, MFARMC chairpersons and BFAR Bicol personnel.

The Philippines harbor a diverse assemblage of marine mammals, yet limited studies has been conducted, so far. The people may lose some of the important areas for these animals before they can discover it. Thus, more researches are needed in this field.

With these pressing issues, the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Inc. (PMMSN) was founded as a result of an inter-agency workshop on marine mammals in 2003. This was followed by the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between BFAR and Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc. (Ocean Adventure) in 2004 for capacity building and development of programs for marine mammal conservation.

From 2005 onwards, the PMMSN has conducted several trainings nationwide. The network has also established a database system to standardize and systematically collect as much information from every stranding - alive or dead, and to collate all data on stranding events nationwide.

BFAR Bicol Director Dennis del Socorro is optimistic in providing similar trainings to more LGU personnel of coastal municipalities and allied agencies in the coming years to strengthen capacities and to raise the level of awareness in terms of marine mammal protection and conservation. Dir. del Socorro added that the bureau has the Fisheries Regional Emergency Stranding Response Team (BFAR-FIRST) that could be pooled round-the-clock. (NPEenolva, BFAR V/PIA)


MANILA— Malacanang is keeping its hands off the impasse between the judiciary and the legislative branch anent the impeachment proceedings on Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

Newly-designated Deputy Spokesperson Abigail de la Fuente-Valte said in a press briefing that although the Palace is concerned with the issue between the two branches, it still respects their independence.

“Is not proper to intervene. As co-equal branches of the government, they’re separate and entitled to do what their leadership thinks is best,” she said

The Supreme Court yesterday (September 14), with a vote of 8-3, suspended impeachment proceedings against Gutierrez and asked for a status quo on the case.

Gutierrez filed on Monday a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for a temporary restraining order or writ of injunction. She urged the High Tribunal to stop the committee on justice headed by Rep. Niel Tupas from hearing two impeachment complaints filed against her by former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros Baraquel and the progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN).

Tupas, from reports yesterday, said that his committee would proceed with the impeachment hearings scheduled on Sept. 28 and 29 in defiance of the SC order and warned of a constitutional crisis.

De la Fuente-Valte said that it is still too early to consider that the impasse will lead to such a crisis as the leadership of both branches is open to talks. (PIA V Release)


CEBU CITY — “There is renewed interest among foreign businessmen to invest in the Philippines,” President Benigno S. Aquino III told some 120 local business leaders and economic managers here.

In his message at the Regional Economic Managers’ Briefing and Dialogue held on Wednesday (September 15) at the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel here, the Chief Executive said the reinvigorated confidence of the international financial community and the bullishness of businessmen on the Philippines can be attributed to his determination to get rid of corruption, propel the economic engine to prosperity, and achieve political stability.

The President further said that some of the business leaders who were turned off by the corruption and uncertainty in the economy and politics over the last decade have expressed a desire to invest again in the Philippines as evidenced by the recent business trip of his economic managers in the U.S.

“The prognosis is very, very good, that we can offer a better business environment for the investors,” he stressed.

For one, the President said, there are positive signs of economic recovery early on in his administration as he cited the bullish performance of the Philippine Stock Market index Monday closed at 3,972.60, so far the highest in the Philippine Stock Exchange’s history.

The President also cited last week’s resounding success of the first-ever peso denominated global bond float where the government sold 44.109 billion pesos worth of 10-year Philippine Peso Global Bonds. He added the maiden issue was 13 times oversubscribed.

According to the President several portfolio investments are on the table such as investors who want to build an expressway from Manila that will pass through Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, until Cagayan Valley, thus will save government billions of pesos that can be used to fund needed social services.

For Cebu province and the rest of the Central Visayas region, the President said his administration continues to strive to enhance the business climate in the area.

He pointed out that the infrastructure projects to help boost the tourism industry in the region are among the potential public-private partnership projects. Among these are the redevelopment and upgrading of the Mactan International Airport, where a new instrument landing system will be installed in the next few months, and eight new air bridges will be bidded out in order to finally retire and replace the old ones.

A cold chain system from Mindanao to Cebu and Manila will also be established.

The President noted that with these projects coming to reality with the help of the private sector, tourist arrivals in the region will significantly increase and thus provide the country a more successful entrepreneurship.

For the power situation in the region, he assured them that the government is addressing the problem of the power shortage.

Plans are also underway for the possible liberalization of the air transport sector to make it easier for people to visit Cebu and other parts of the country.

“You can count on us to do our part,” the President empathically said.

The Regional Economic Managers Briefing intends to inform the industry leaders on the economic plan of the new administration and at the same time provide an opportunity for key business leaders to have a meaningful dialogue with the President. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III assured Muslim communities that his administration will work doubly hard to advance the welfare, aspirations and interest of Muslim Filipinos by supporting and strengthening the autonomous region in Southern Philippines.

In his remarks at the Hariraya dinner held at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall on Monday (September 13), the Chief Executive thanked the envoys from different Muslim nations and local Muslim leaders for attending the Hariraya dinner celebration he hosted for them in the spirit of solidarity, celebration, obedience and devotion.

The President told them that his administration is committed to end decades of government neglect that has afflicted Muslim Filipinos.

“We will do better. Muslim Filipinos are part of our nation,” he stressed.

He assured them that the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos will be strengthened and will serve as the government’s principal arm in advancing the rights, welfare and aspirations of Muslim Filipinos.

“We will support and strengthen the autonomous regional government. It will be our lead government instrumentality in advancing the welfare of the inhabitants of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” he said.

According to the President, he has already appointed Luwalhati Antonino as chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority “who will kindle and lead the conversation among Christians, Muslims and Lumads for their inclusive and integrative development.”

The President likewise vowed to resume the stalled peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

With the Moro National Liberation Front, “we are about to complete the legal bond to rectify imperfections in the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement,” he said. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Newly-appointed Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Raul M. Bacalzo this morning vowed to continue the good work that his predecessors started shortly after assuming the leadership from Gen. Jesus Versoza.

“Continuity is the operative word and it is in this spirit that we define our goals,” said Bacalzo at the change of command rites at the PNP headquarters attended by no less than President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Hundreds of active and retired police officers and the provincemates and classmates of Bacalzo from his law school at the University of the East and his mistahs at the Philippine Military Academy Class 1977 attended the change of command. Bacalzo served for five years in concurrent capacity as member of the GRP Peace Negotiating Panel in 1993 to 1998.

He enumerated the three tenets of his leadership: a) Our service is a continuing challenge to right what is wrong and review our policies and implement practical action plans; b) discipline, perseverance and dedication will be the hallmarks of our service and c) every police officer must learn the lessons well, focus on the day-to-day responsibilities and push the program for reform.

Bacalzo is an outstanding graduate of the Masikap Class of 1977 of the Philippine Military Academy landing both in the Dean’s List and Commandant’s list and finishing 12th in the 1984 bar with a rating of 87.43 percent. He made a strong point towards training and re-training of police men to transform them as a “mentor to all, a problem-solver as needed and a teacher to others.”

Stressing that PNP’s training will go back to basics, Bacalzo cited the importance of “reviving the virtues of discipline and courtesy, good manners and right conduct that are the hallmarks of a public servant and essential to being a good citizen.”

“Basic equipment must also be reviewed for the street policeman and the special units for different types of crisis situations. With appropriate (budget) support, we will equip our men and women with the training and resources to handle local problems and provide appropriate solutions,” he said. “Every police station must be at the cutting edge of performance and professionalism.”

Citing President Aquino’s observation about improving the procurement system, the order of the day, according to Bacalzo, is to set the proper standards and specifications attuned to the requirements on the ground.

Bacalzo revealed his plan to put up a human rights help desk similar to the women and children’s desk in all 1,528 police stations all over the country.

Bacalzo, who hails from the small town of Tuy, Batangas, said he would begin his “back to basics” training and re-training programs with the 23-strong police force of his hometown. “We will not waste any time,” he said. (PIA V Release)


MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III said he will not go to any foreign trips “without direct benefits to the people.”

The Chief Executive made this statement during an ambush interview on Tuesday (September 14) after he personally witnessed the change of command between retired Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Jesus Versoza and newly-appointed PNP Chief Gen. Raul M. Bacalzo at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Asked if he would be bringing projects with him to propose to foreign investors during his trips to the United States, the President said “I would rather have them (investments) in hand before I start mentioning what exactly these (projects) are. That way people will have an assurance of the investments that are arriving.”

The President is set to leave for the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly, to sign the Millennium Challenge Corporation grants and a lot of business conferences from both east and west coasts. “I think I will also be visiting my mother’s (former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino) alma mater, the College of Mount Saint Vincent, at the Riverdale section of New York.

The President also said he is bringing with him during his US trip Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, among others.

The President, who earlier rang the bell marking the opening of trading at the Philippine Stock Exchange, said he was informed that the market already breached the 4,000 points.

“I understand that this is the first time which has ever reached that particular record. At some point in time, there will be corrections. There will be people who will be taking their profits (after selling their stocks). What is significant is these records have been coming one on top of the other. Obviously there is no such thing as endless bull runs. But the point is there is increased confidence demonstrated by the activities of the stock market,” the President stressed.

The President stressed that he expects foreign direct investments to increase. As regards the public private partnerships, he added that “we already have a list but I would rather talk of them when they are already completed or close to fruition rather than talk of potentials.” (PIA V Release)


MANILA — Malaysia will continue to act as facilitator at the resumption of peace talks in Mindanao.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo disclosed this Tuesday (September 14) following the courtesy call of Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Sri Anifah Aman on President Benigno S. Aquino III in Malacanang.

Romulo said Malaysia has been playing a constructive and positive role to encourage a peaceful resolution in the Mindanao problem.

The President welcomed Minister Anifah who was accompanied by Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dato’ Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad.

Also present during the call were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Deles and DFA Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio.

Minister Anifah’s visit centered on Malaysia’s role in the formal peace negotiations scheduled this month between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

As its closest neighbor in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines earlier decided to retain Malaysia as third party facilitator in the resumption of the GRP-MILF peace talks, a role which Malaysia has assumed since 2001.

Since 2004, Malaysia also led the International Monitoring Team together with Libya, Japan and Brunei which successfully contributed to the comprehensive peace process in Mindanao. (PIA V Release)