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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Local officials, united in a move to restore power supply in Albay

By Marlon A. Loterte and Sally A. Atento

LEGAZPI CITY, July 31 (PIA) -- Albay Gov. Joey S. Salceda said he has since been working hard and pleading with energy authorities and corporate boards to secure an "immediate selective reconnection" for Albay’s electric power supply that for long was in the balance due to the financial accountability of service provider Albay Electric Cooperative or Aleco.

Commenting on the province wide power black out since Tuesday noon, Salceda noted that cutting off the power supply of the province has disruptive economic impact and has somehow tarnished Albay’s image to its national and global constituencies.

Albay remains without power more than 24 hours now following disconnection carried out by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) when Aleco failed to pay its current bill payment balance of P56 million to the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC). By

“By "Selective," 100 heavy loads will no longer be serviced. While “Immediate” means reconnection must be madedas early as two days' but 'no more than one week' because the poor who share no blame are made to pay for the sins of the oppressive rich who pursue only profit at the expense of the ordinary working families," Saceda explained.

Salceda noted that the present sorry state of the province could be much worse if this incident would not result to long-term reforms to secure the power services in Albay. He added that this must not recur anymore and for Aleco to become a positive force in Albay'sdevelopment.

As the crisis stays, Salceda called on all Albayano, “Please pray for me so the Holy Spirit can guide me in discerning what is best for our people. I cannot do it alone."

Salceda furthered, “This is a disconnection which we were able to hold at bay for 15 years with state-owned National Power Corporation (Napocor) and three years with private PEMC. I did my best.”

"Energy Secretary Petilla DOE was already very generous and kind in agreeing to our position during protracted meetings in July 2, 8 and 9 this year that collections on the P1 billion PEMC and P3 billion PSALM (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management) be deferred," he added.

After seven days of failed negotiations, the debt-ridden Aleco has finally downed by a crippling P4-billion total debts plus P67 million in current electric bills.

Aleco is servicing at least 160,000 households, known as the third biggest cooperatives and among the 10 worst with the highest systems losses at 24 percent.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA), which has controlled Aleco since 2011, has started negotiating with the DOE to defer the disconnection threats scheduled on July 22, then July 28, and finally July 30.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said the city and municipal Mayors Leagues in Albay had pleaded that the disconnection be postponed for at least two more days, hoping Aleco would meet the P67 million from collections but the DOE said there was nothing it could anymore.

Meanwhile, Rosal said in a radio interview this morning that he and Rep. Fernando Gonzales of Albay third congressional districts are one with the recommendation that NEA should loan P36 million to Aleco to augment the amount needed to pay its current bill to power suppliers.

Aleco, on the other hand, said it will endorse the recommendation to NEA through a board resolution.

The request, according to Rosal, is parallel to Salceda’s call and initiative for immediate restoration of power to Albay the soonest possible time.

Gonzales furthered that the solution for Aleco to recover is not to infuse added capital but to increase collection efficiency from 65 percent to 95 percent and lower the system loss from 24 percent to 13 percent.

“With good management and cooperation of all consumers by paying their bills, Aleco can go back to its normal operation and move on towards recovery,” Gonzales said. (MAL/SAA-PIA5/Albay) 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Search on for best slogan poster on road safety in Albay

By Sally A. Atento

LEGAZPI CITY, July 30 (PIA) -- The Land Transportation Office (LTO) in the Bicol region launched on Tuesday a poster and slogan making contest at the multi-purpose hall of Sto. Domingo National High School, Albay.

Mar Magistrado, LTO V operations division chief, said the contest is part of their campaign and advocacy programs for road safety as specified under the road safety action plan of the United Nations and the Philippines for 2011-2020.

Some 26 high school students from Sto Domingo National High School, San Fernando National High School, Alimsog Integrated High School and Bical National High School qualified for the competition after the pre-evaluation and seminar on road safety conducted by the LTO in the region on July 19 this year.

Based on the mechanics, each contestant will compose and design a poster and slogan on the theme “Ligtas na paglalakbay, masaganang buhay.” All of the materials were provided by the agency.

The winner will be chosen based on the following criteria: relevance to the theme (30%), creativity (30%), originality (30%) and impact and presentation (10%).

Magistrado said three winners will be chosen from the contestants. They will receive a cash prize and plaque of appreciation

The champion will receive a cash prize of P5,000, P3,000 for the second prize and P2,000 for the third placer. The rest of the contestants will have a consolation prize of P200 and certificates of appreciation.

The artworks of the winners, added Magistrado, will be used as promotional materials and reminders in roadside streamers and placards for motorists and other road users.

All artworks in the competition will be posted at www.ltobicol.com, the official website of the LTO in the region. (MAL/SAA-PIA5/Albay/GVR-LTO5) 

OCD cited regional winners in Gawad Kalasag

…6 out 8 entries enter list of national finalists

By Marlon A. Loterte

LEGAZPI CITY, July 30 (PIA) -- Six out of the eight entries of the Bicol region were among the top finalists of their respective categories in the national level of this year’s Gawad Kalasag awards program according to a top regional official of the Office of the Civil Defense in Bicol.

OCD Bicol regional director Raffy Alejandro said the regional winners in the Bicol were adjudged based on their excellence performance in the fields of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) as well as humanitarian assistance.

Bicol regional winners of this year’s Gawad Kalasag awards program included the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Camarines Norte in the provincial category; City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) of Legazpi City in the city category; Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) of Sto. Domingo in the 4th-6th class town category; and Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee (BDRRMC) of Oro Site in this city for barangay category.

Simon of Cyrene Children’s Rehabilitation and Development Foundation, Inc. based in Daraga, Albay notched the Best NGO on Humanitarian Assistance; Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) adjudged Best Hospital; Camarines Norte National High School in Daet and DQ Liwag National High School in Vinzon, both in Camarines Norte, named Best Schools in the urban and rural categories, respectively.

Daraga National High School in Daraga, Albay and San Felipe National High School in Basud, Camarines Norte were adjudged second place in Best Schools in the urban and rural categories, respectively.

OCD executive director Eduardo Del Rosario, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, DILG Bicol regional director Blandino Maceda and Alejandro led the awarding of plaques of recognition and cash prize to the winners in time for the Regional Summit for Chief Executives on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management today held at the La Piazza Convention Center here.

Alejandro said the incentives for the regional winners also include cash prize of P50,000 for the first prize and P30,000 for the second prize in every category.

Bicol entries, according to Alejandro, in the city, municipal, barangay, NGO, hospital, rural school categories also qualified among national finalists and the National Screening Committee are doing rounds for validation of their respective programs and initiatives.

National winners will receive plaques of recognition and cash awards for the top three awardees for each category which are as follows: first place – P100,000; second place – P75,000 and third place – P50,000.

Albay meanwhile no longer vied for the citation for this year as it won its third straight year of citation and elevated as Hall of Famer last year as best province among the region’s six provinces for the outstanding and exemplary performance of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) in the same field.

Albay, under the stewardship of Salceda, is cited the model province in the field of DRRM because of its successful programs such as the institutionalization of Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), the first of its kind in the country; “zero casualty” goal in times of disasters and emergencies, among others.

“Kalasag” stands for Kalamidad at Sakuna, LAbanan, SAriling Galing ang Kaligtasan.

Gawad Kalasag is a nationwide annual awards program conferred to local disaster risk reduction and management councils of provinces, cities, towns and barangas, health and medical institutions, schools, and civil society organizations for efficient implementation of disaster risk reduction and management initiatives and to groups or individuals for their heroic acts in times of natural disasters and emergencies.

Launched in 1998, Gawad Kalasag awards program is led by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council providing mechanism in obtaining sustained commitment and support by recognizing exceptional contributions of disaster risk reduction practitioners in strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacities of the country and communities to disaster risks. (MAL-PIA5/Albay) 

Bicol has most number of irrigation projects under DAR

By Joseph John J. Perez

LEGAZPI CITY, July 30 (PIA) -- Bicol region remains the leader in the entire country in the total tally for irrigation projects implemented under the Agrarian Reform Communities Project Phase II (ARCP2).

“DAR-Bicol has the most number of approved irrigation projects under ARCP2,” DAR-Bicol regional director Maria Celestina Manlangit-Tam stressed.

Sorsogon province will benefit much from six irrigation projects while Camarines Sur will have three irrigation projects with total amount of P195,476,074.43 covering a service area of 2,433 hectares of agricultural land.

Tam elaborated that communal irrigation systems (CIS) in Sorsogon will be constructed in Barangay Lictin in Casiguran amounting to P16,742,275.05 covering 120 hectares; Malbug with P17,878,358.85 worth with 120 hectares, and Pili with P28,611,889.32 covering 400 hectares, both in Castilla; Tabon-Tabon with P20,965,775.39 worth for 363 hectares, and Burabod-San Julian with P6,130,094.37 worth with service area of 100 hectares, both in Irosin town. Barangay Bonifacio in Bulan town will benefit from a small water impounding project (SWIP) worth P7,488,449.84 to serve 60 hectares of agricultural land.

On the other hand, Camarines Sur’s irrigation projects include the rehabilitation of the Himaao CIS in Pili with total project cost of P39,006,828.86 covering 520 hectares; and the rehabilitation of the 750-hectare Hingaroy Communal Irrigation System amounting to P58,652,402.75, located at the boundary of the municipalities of Sangay and Tigaon, Camarines Sur. It will cover 500 hectares and 250 hectares from the Sangay and Tigaon sides, respectively. Total Project Cost for Sangay side is P38,965,506.53 while the TPC for the Tigaon side is P19,686,896.22 according to DAR - Bicol.

ARCP II is funded mainly through loan assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with the support from the national government through its National Government Assistance for Local Government Units or NGALGU, which shoulders 25% of the total project cost (TPC), thus automatically easing the LGU counterparts, DAR Bicol told PIA.

DAR – Bicol was earlier commended by ARCP II Deputy national project director Herman Ongkiko for leading the entire country as the most ‘time efficient’ region in matters of fund disbursements necessary to expedite construction of approved sub projects of the ARCP 2. (MAL/JJJPerez-PIA5/Albay) 

DRRM Regional Summit Press Conference : Usec Eduardo D. Del Rosario, Administrator, Office of Civil Defense and Executive Dir., National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council,  Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, OCD 5 Dir. Raffy Alejandro and DILG 5 Dir. Blandino Maceda,  answers queries from the media during the Regional Summit on DRRM for local chief executives held at La Piazza Hotel & Convention Center, Legazpi City, yesterday July 29, 2013. (Alex Cal/PIA)

Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda delivers his message during the Regional Summit on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management for Local Chief Executives at La Piazza Hotel and Convention Center, Legazpi City, yesterday July 29, 2013. (Alex Cal/PIA)


Monday, July 29, 2013

Bicol’s economy grows by 7.1 percent in 2012

By Marlon A. Loterte

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PIA) -- The Bicol region economy grew by 7.1 percent in 2012, nearly four times faster than in 2011, according to a report of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

NSCB Bicol regional director Gil Arce said in a press statement that the industry sector fueled the region’s economy while agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing (AHFF) and services recorded accelerated growths.

Arce said the services sector accounted for the biggest share of the region’s economy at 56.0 percent, followed by AHFF at 24.4 percent and industry at 19.6 percent, while AHFF’s share to the total economy dropped from 25.4 percent in 2011 to 24.4 percent in 2012.

The same report indicated that industry sector bounced back from a negative 2.6 percent growth in 2011 and grew by 16.1 percent in 2012. Construction spurred industry’s growth surging by 25.8 percent from a 12.7 percent slump in 2011.

Similarly, mining and quarrying posted an 11.8 percent growth, a complete turnaround from the 4.0 percent contraction in the previous year. Manufacturing, on the other hand, decelerated from a fast 24.4 percent growth in 2011 to 5.0 percent in 2012, not enough however to dampen Industry’s upsurge. Electricity, gas and water supply (EGWS) almost tripled its pace from 3.2 percent a year ago to 9.3 percent.

The report furthered that services grew at a faster rate from 3.9 percent in 2011 to 6.1 percent in 2012. Transportation, storage and communication (TSC) sustained its momentum expanding in 2012 by 10.2 percent, 3.7 percentage points faster than the 6.5 percent growth in 2011.

Similarly, performance of trade continued to improve from 3.3 percent a year ago to 9.7 percent in 2012. From a 0.1 percent contraction in 2011, growth of finance surged to 10.9 percent in 2012.

The growth of real estate, renting and business activities (RERBA) slowed down from 3.5 percent to 2.3 percent while public administration and defense (PAD) grew at a faster 5.0 percent pace in 2012 from 0.2 percent in the previous year.

Other Services turned in the most sluggish performance among the Service subsectors from 7.0 percent expansion in 2011 to 1.9 percent in 2012.

AHFF showed signs of improvement expanding by 2.9 percent in 2012 from a lethargic 0.8 percent growth a year back.

Agriculture and forestry accelerated from a 1.2 percent growth in 2011 to 3.1 percent in 2012. Fishing recovered from 0.5 percent slump a year ago to grow by 2.5 percent in 2012.

Services were the largest contributor to the growth of Bicol region’s economy in 2012 accounting for 3.4 percentage points of the 7.1 percent growth. Industry contributed 2.9 percentage points, while AHFF’s share was 0.7 percentage point. (MAL/NSCB5/PIA5) 

“Coral Genesis” project to help restore coral reefs in Albay Gulf

By Marlon A. Loterte

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PIA) -- The Junior Chamber International (JCI) Legazpi has joined efforts with the government to rehabilitate and protect the coral reefs of Albay Gulf through the "coral genesis" project .

“Innovation is the solution, utilizing technology that will help corals grow up to five times faster and resistant to coral bleaching and algae through the coral reefs electrification concept,” Engr. Martin Reynoso, executive vice president of the JCI Legazpi, said.

Reynoso has introduced a concept of another version of the “coral genesis” already employed here and abroad utilizing technology that will help bolster propagation and restoration of coral reefs in Albay Gulf.

Reynoso said that “coral genesis” uses the technology with a portable micro underwater solar power source, wherein any shape, design, logo, or sculpture can be charged for fast coral reef recovery or even creation of themed sculptures.

He elaborated that that “underwater micro solar electric power” that tickles the corals to grow would require less care as power source is anchored to the sea floor, adding that electric-propagated coral reefs are less prone to algae attacks compared to non-electric propagated ones.

“The concept of “coral genesis” allows corals to be grown on site or grown off site the can be delivered to the reefs site for propagation or restoration,” he said.

“The concept of “coral genesis” will be used in creating bead-like coral reef structures resembling a Holy Rosary that will be deployed underwater on Saturday, August 3,” explained Reynoso.

“Some 60 coral beads and a coral cross will be fabricated made up of concrete, wires, lead conductor, glass jar,” he added.

Previous technologies, according to Reynoso, have shown improved coral growth using coral electrification, however costs have been high due to expensive materials and power source issues

The project also won 2006 MIT IDEAS competition but was not universally adapted partially because of power source complexity, reliability issues and unfortunately, it had been extremely expensive.

The MIT IDEAS Global Challenge connects students with the passion and talent to improve the world with the experience and resources of the MIT community worldwide and support innovation and entrepreneurship as public service through an annual competition.

The electric-propagated coral works when wires reeled in the concrete beads are negatively charged, they will attract calcium particles that will then build up on the surface and form artificial reefs, but more importantly they will also serve as the base for the coral nodules to attach to the reef.

With proper reef protection and management, corals were observed slowly growing back and very gradually reversing years of damage from pollution, overfishing, crown of thorns infestation, and the use of dynamite and poison

JCI Legazpi chapter partners with the municipal government of Sto. Domingo to pilot the “coral genesis” project, which is set for deployment next Saturday, August 3, in the municipal coastal waters.

Sto. Domingo Mayor Herbie Aguas, remarked, ”this is a welcome development for the town as the novel project will manifest the people’s commitment to environmental protection and care adding the impacts it will give to the tourism industry in this municipality.”

Sto. Domingo has a special charm of its own with happy blend of relaxed atmosphere and scenic view that soothes, mesmerizes and delights with towns’ long stretch of black sand beaches that are irresistible especially during summer.

The coastal town has a number of beach resorts from modest to more luxurious ones that have complete bathing facilities, good food, cottages and convention halls which are drawing tourists and visitors.

The underwater “coral genesis” themed on the Holy Rosary, that happened to be Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary is the patron of the local parish of Sto. Domingo.

“The project, noted Aguas, will be definitely an added tourist attraction for underwater getaway enthusiasts or divers, or even to ordinary travelers., and such may become someday a pilgrimage site for Holy Rosary devotion.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda meanwhile has cited the “coral genesis” project complementing the measures undertaken by the provincial government for rapid marine assessment survey to check the status of corals in Albay, consequently, come up and implement measures to restore and protect coral reefs in the gulf.

The provincial government, according to Salceda, has also since been pursuing coral gardening program that has developed low-tech, cost-effective systems for growing and transplanting corals to restore degraded reefs here.

“Projects, the likes of the “coral genesis”, would be a significant boost to strategies employed for sustainable management of marine ecosystems with restoration of coral reefs and associated habitats where appropriate,” Salceda said.

The coral reefs propagation and restoration also form part of the tourism development program under the Cagraray, Rapu-Rapu, Batan and San Miguel or CRABS++ area of the provincial government.

Salceda noted that one of the province’s most ardent partnerships with JCI Legazpi, JCI Dawani, and JCI Daraga is on Albay Environmental Protection and Ecological Balance, besides two others on education and tourism.

Rev. Fr. Efren Borromeo, a Roman Catholic priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Trinity, who is also known a healer priest and staunch advocate of environmental protection, committed to pitch in for augmentation of budgetary requirement generated from fund raising activities for the completion of the project.

The Philippine Guardians have also donated the Bamboo raft, which can accommodate up to 8 people, that will ferry the components of the structure from shore to the site.

Divers of the Naval Forces of Southern Luzon (Navforsol) of the Philippine Navy based here and from Bicol scuba Divers Foundation Incorporated, along with the locales, barangay residents and volunteers, will help out in the deployment and layout underwater of the themed “coral genesis” project.

Implementers of the “coral genesis” project are also mulling to enlist the project to be the world’s largest underwater coral rosary. (MAL-PIA5/Albay)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Camarinenses, generally satisfied with PNoy's SONA

By Analiza S. Macatangay

NAGA CITY, July 26 (PIA) -- More Camarinenses are now confidently looking forward to a better Philippines after hearing President Benigno S. Aquino III's delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Camarines Sur provincial director Edna Tejada specifically shared her thoughts on the consistency of the government's objective of incorporating inclusive growth in all its endeavors.

"President Aquino's statement was centered on the government's programs on ensuring that basic services are delivered. I also like it when the President commended specific agencies and personnel for good accomplishments like the lady police officer Arbo who hails from Bicol and I like him more when he made a no nonsense mention of agencies which are not contributing well to his administration and that they will be made answerable," Tejada said in an interview.

Juan Carlos Madrid, a Grade V student of Naga Parochial School agreed on almost everything that the President said, who said that he was with her mother while listening to the SONA.

“It is just right that he mentioned Jesse Robredo as a good servant to the government. It is also right that he mentioned the failures of some government agencies for it to be corrected, and it is right that he also praise those officials serving well, like Sec. Albert del Rosario of DFA and the three (3) policemen.”

“We have started a very good fight against corruption. We are now looking at the fruits of our labor, we are continuing planting the good seeds and we are looking forward to fulfilling more of these aspirations,” Ellen Borja , a plain housewife also related.

Jane Marie Tria Santellices, a government employee also remarked, “As long as we Filipinos have a skewed sense of patriotism - love of personal interests above love of country - then it would be hard for PNoy and even succeeding presidents to uplift our nation to where it should be. Corruption is a perfect example of this.”

GNN TV 48 station manager and CEO Fred Perdon also lauded the President's accomplishments for the past three (3) years.

"President Benigno Aquino has specifically cited the weaknesses and corruption of the government agencies to the extent of naming names and that should send signal to all government employees to do their job well and adopt transparency in all its transactions, Perdon stated.

Naga City Mayor John Bongat specifically cited President Aquino's program to alleviate poverty in the country, particularly pursuing it in the provincial outskirts.

"One of the most notable achievements that the Aquino administration have done is the successful implementation of the 4Ps or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program for it really helps the poor families especially the children ages from 0 to 14 years old."

Naga City City Councilor Gabriel Bordado also posted on his facebook account his appreciation of the Presidents SONA.

"After all is said and done, everything boils down to two words --- inclusive growth. Here in Naga, we have a rough (but rather familiar translation): Ubos kung Ubos, Gabos kung Gabos , in other words, nobody should ever be left out in the process of economic growth and development. Let's go for it! And finally, President Aquino praised Sec Jesse in a SONA. Mabalos po."

Generally, even the ordinary folks will have something to look forward to in the next three (3) years of President Aquino's presidency. (MAL/LSM-PIA5/Camarines Sur)

Bicolano solon, executives affirm 4th Pnoy’s SONA

By Joseph John J. Perez

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PIA) -- The fourth State of the Nation Adress (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III is his best so far. This is the reaction of Bicolano Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero who ran under the President’s Team Pnoy in the recent midterm election and placed fourth in the final tally of winning senators.

“Compared with the previous (SONAs), this is the best, detailed and clear SONA of President Aquino,” Escudero said.

The president was able to lay down the things he wanted to realize and accomplished and the things he wants to do in the next three years, Escudero added.

Escudero however wished that the President should have included in his latest SONA the controversial Freedom of Information Bill. “However the President previously made his position clear already that he is not yet convinced with the existing version and he is yet to see the version that he wants to be done,” Escudero said.

Escudero also supported Pnoy’s top priorities in the final three years of his term which are sustainable economic growth and inclusive growth. “Make sustainable the economic growth and development and more than that, make it inclusive and felt by the poor and marginalized sectors and not only for the rich,” Escudero added.

Meanwhile Bicol’s top executives also express approval on the general content of the SONA.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla was glad on the inclusion of the Bicol International Airport as one of PNoy’s pipelined projects.

It means it will be completed in 2016 as it will bring more tourists to Bicol,” Ravanilla said.

Bicol contributed 17% or 700,000 of the 4.2 million foreign tourists in 2012, Ravanilla said.

“We expect to contribute one million foreign tourists or at least 10% of the expected foreign tourists based on the new target,” Ravanilla said. Around P10M revenue is expected to be gained by Bicol on tourism industry, Ravanilla said.

Land Transportation Office (LTO) Bicol assistant regional director Vincent Nato described PNoy’s latest SONA like the famous Filipino dish adobo with complete ingredients.

“In local lingo we say "Kumpletos recados" like an adobo that is ready to be served,” Nato said.

"With PNoy’s advocacy for "tuwid na daan" the government was able to save in its budget that can be realigned to other priority projects. The government is more decisive now for its advocacy,” Nato added.

Maria Libertad Mella-Dometita, project manager of the European Union-supported Good Governance project of the Integrated Rural Development Foundation of the Philippines (IRDF) assessed the SONA as containing good information and "entertainment value".

“It made good use of multi-media, good to report on exporting rice and reminded us on reproductive health,” Dometita said. However, the 4Ps testimony is like a case study that is not reflective of its majority results, and the "pogi points" for the military and police is "over", Dometita said. "The SONA did not touch core agrarian issues,” she added.

Meanwhile, regional director Maria Celestina Manlangit-Tam of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Bicol explained that the Hacienda Luisita is considered as a “barometer” of accomplishment for other regions that is why it was highlighted in the SONA.

“If our counterparts in Region 3 can do it in Hacienda Luisita, we are also expected to do the same in our respective regions (in distributing highly contentious lands),” Tam said.

Tam also approves the inclusion of notable government personnel who made exemplary performance in their jobs that gave hope and proves that the "tuwid na daan" is achievable. “Being a government employee, I feel proud that I am also part of the government’s achievements here in Bicol especially in serving the agrarian reform beneficiaries as part of our mandate,” Tam said. The President is telling the truth that there is indeed development that is trickling down to the countryside, Tam added. (MAL/JJJP/PIA5-Albay)

Simultaneous registration of NSRC for disaster preparedness conducted in Cam Norte

By Rosalita B. Manlangit

DAET, Camarines Norte, July 26 (PIA) -- A province-wide simultaneous registration of the National Service Reserve Corps (NSRC) was conducted recently which aimed to mobilize graduates of National Service Training Program (NSTP) in disaster preparedness and response during calamities.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Carlos Galvez said that the registration is being held at the municipalities of the 12 towns here through their Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (LDRRMCs) with the assistance of their provincial office.

He said that those who undergone Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) and Literacy Training Service (LTS) which are components of NSTP as mandated by Republic Act 9163 are encouraged to register in NSRC.

Those will be registered will undergo disaster training and response and will be accredited by the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

The implementing guidelines and procedures on the development, organization, training, administration, utilization, mobilization, operation, accreditation, protection and funding of the NSRC is provided in Section 13 of RA 10121 otherwise known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM) Act of 2010 and Rule 9 of its implementing rules and regulations.

This is also stipulated in Section 11 of RA 9163 or NSTP Act of 2001 which provides for the creation of NSRC and its mobilization by the NDRRMC or the LDRRMCs for the delivery of disaster risk reduction programs and activities.

Galvez said that the registration today will be the first batch and continuous listing will be accepted throughout the year.

The mission of the NSRC is to provide a trained, motivated and organized manpower reserve that can be tapped by the state for DRRM civic welfare, literacy, national emergency, environmental protection and other similar endeavours in the service of the nation.

The OCD will maintain a centralized NSRC reservist database, provide training and prescribe the procedures for the utilization of NSRC.
Under the law, the Chairperson of the LDRRMCs shall have the power to mobilize the NSRC units based in their respective localities for DRRM response within their geographical jurisdiction upon the declaration of a state of calamity. (MAL/RBM/PIA5-Camarines Norte)

Annual inflation rate in Bicol up in June - NSCB report

By Marlon A. Loterte

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PIA) -- The annual inflation rate of the Bicol region rose further in June after posting its lowest level for the year two months ago, according to National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

In a recent report of the NSCB, the year-on-year change was placed at 3.5 percent, 0.2 percentage point higher than the previous month.

NSCB reported that this month's level is well above the 2.6 percent posted in the same period last year and 0.7 percentage point higher than the national average.

The same report furthered that inflation rates in four of the eleven commodity groups registered increases.

Among those that registered faster inflation rates for the month were: Transport (0.6 percentage point), Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas, and other Fuels and Recreation and Culture (0.5 percentage point apiece) and Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (0.2 percentage point).

Inflation rates in most of the commodity groups dropped, but these were not enough to pull the overall level of inflation as oil prices were still high.

Inflation rate in the food group, which accounts for about half of the basket of goods and services in the Consumer Price Index, sustained its previous month's level.

Average prices of consumer goods went up as reflected in the region's average monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 136.7, a 0.8-point increment from its index in May.

Indices in all commodity groups had varying increases: Education (4.2 points), Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages (1.1 points), Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (1.0 point), Recreation and Culture (0.8 point), Transport (0.3 point), Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas, and other Fuels (0.2 point) and the rest of the commodity groups with 0.1 point increment each. Communication stayed at its previous month's level.

On a month-on-month basis, average inflation rate for the Bicol Region grew by 0.5 percentage point.

Higher inflation rates were noted in Education (3.1 percentage point), Food group (0.8 percentage point), Recreation and Culture (0.6 percentage point), Transport (0.2 percentage point) and Furnishing, Household Equipment and Routine Maintenance of the House (0.1 percentage point).

Five commodity groups posted decline in inflation rates for the month while Communication remained unchanged.

Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco slipped by 0.2 percentage point while Clothing and Footwear and Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas, and other Fuels fell by a minimal 0.1 percentage point apiece.

The purchasing power of the peso in Bicol Region dropped to 73 centavos in June 2013 from P1.00 in 2006.

Across regions, Region IV-B (MIMAROPA) posted the lowest at 1.5 percent while Region X (Northern Mindanao) registered the highest at 4.3 percent. Regional inflation rate for the first half of the year averaged at 3.3 percent. (MAL/NSCB/PIA5/Albay)

Rebels burn 2 backhoes in Catanduanes

By Edna A. Bagadiong

VIRAC, Catanduanes, July 25 (PIA) -- Two units of heavy equipment of Sunwest Corporation (SUWECO) were burned by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) yesterday, July 24 at Sitio Ogaw, Solong, San Miguel, according to a military official based in Catanduanes province.

Sitio Ogaw is located in a mountainous area of barangay Solong where the Mini-Hydro Power Plant of SUWECO is based. This is one of the sources and suppliers of electricity to the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO).

Lt. Col. Bernardo R. Fortez, Jr., commanding officer of the 83rd Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army based in Lictin, San Andres said the rebels poured gasoline into the two units of backhoe of the construction firm implementing a road opening project in the village, about 15.7 kilometers from this capital town of Catanduanes.

The NPA guerrillas did not harm the heavy equipment operator and other workers who were having a lunch break when the attack occurred.

Fortez said that based on their assessment, the hostile activities made by the rebels are part of their revenge for their comrade who was killed in Sorsogon. He added that it may also be a diversion tactics on troops conducting simultaneous massive combat operation in the areas of San Andres, Caramoran, Viga and Panganiban towns.

Intelligence operatives of the Batallion were immediately sent to the area to confirm movement of perpetrators for deployment of troops for pursuit operations. (MAL/EAB/PIA5-Catanduanes)

Panganiban cops nab Nueva Ecija’s No. 2 most wanted person

By Edna A. Bagadiong

VIRAC, Catanduanes, July 26 (PIA) -- Panganiban town’s Municipal Police Station (MPS) nabbed on Tuesday, July 22 Nueva Ecija’s Number two (2) most wanted person.

According to the spot report, a team led by Police Senior Inspector Edmundo A. Cerillo, Jr. is conducting "Oplan Pagtutugis" particularly at Sitio Sara Saraan, San Miguel of Panganiban town when they chanced upon the suspect.

By virtue of Warrant of Arrest issued by presiding Judge Wilfredo L. Maynigo of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 87 of Gapan City, Nueva Ecija, the suspect was arrested for murder.

According to PSI Cerillo, subject person was arrested through the active participation of the established Barangay Information Network (BIN).

Upon apprehension, the subject was brought to Panganiban MPS for booking and was also brought to Viga District Hospital for medical check-up. Said arrested person is now under the custody of the station for subsequent turnover to the court of origin.

Meanwhile, PNP Provincial Director Eduardo Chavez lauded Panganiban police for the arrest of a number of wanted persons.

It can be recalled that on June 2, same team led by PSI Cerillo arrested the 5th most wanted person in Panganiban town.

On May 20, another person who also belongs to the most wanted list of criminals in Nueva Ecija was also nabbed by the same team.

According to Dir. Chavez, the arrest is part of their campaign to apprehend criminals with standing warrants of arrest not only in the province but also those suspected to be hiding in the province.

He added that with these successive apprehensions, they are confident that more criminals will be captured with the help and cooperation of the public.(MAL/EAB/PIA5-Catanduanes)

Thursday, July 25, 2013


The National Statistical Coordination Board Regional Office V, holds a News Conference on the  2012 Report on the Regional Economy of the Bicol Region today July 25, 2013  at Kouzina-Seafood Restaurant, Legazpi City. Photo shows  (R-L) NSCB Central Office  Representative Luzviminda Mitra, NSCB-V Regional Head Engr. Gil R. Arce,  NEDA-V Assistant Reg. Dir. Luis G. Banua  and PIA-V OIC Reg. Dir. Aida Alcazar-Naz,  welcomes and acknowledges the media practitioners. (Alex Cal/PIA)

BFP holds seminar on mobile radio operation

By Sally A. Atento

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PIA) -- The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) regional office in Bicol led a seminar on Restricted Land Mobile Communication Equipment to enhance the knowledge of radio and telephone operators in handling land mobile radio equipment in the operations of the bureau.

Maria Simona Cemitara, BFP 5 information officer, said the seminar is part of the duties and functions of the BFP to provide continuing education to its organic personnel.

Around 65 BFP personnel from the special rescue unit (SRU) and radio and telephone operator groups all over the region attended the seminar.

BFP 5 Investigation and Intelligence Section chief SFO2 Aramis Aristhedes Balde said participants were likewise reminded of their responsibilities and obligations.

“With the conduct of this seminar, it is expected that radio usage in the Bureau will improve considerably for it is in good communication that fire services will be better delivered to our stakeholders,” she said.

Among the topics discussed are Radio Communication Laws and Regulations, Licensing Procedures, Traffic Handling Procedures and Interference and Operation of Land Mobile Radio Equipment. (MAL/SAA/PIA5/MSC-BFP5)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bicol leg tour of Fil-Am Rondalla Ensemble in Boston rocks Albay

By Sally A. Atento

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PIA) -- The Iskwelahang Pilipino (IP) Rondalla ensemble from Boston Masachussets recently held its two-day show in the province of Albay as part of its Bicol leg concert tour in the Philippines.
The Iskwelahang Pilipino (IP) Rondalla ensemble performs at the
Bicol College Gym as part of their national concert tour
in the Philippines. (Photos courtesy of Kendra Sy)
The stringed instrument ensemble, composed of Filipino-American performers, played Filipino folk songs Sarung Banggi, Sitsiritsit and Manang Biday among others along with popular local and foreign music before the audience at the Bicol College and St. Agnes Academy gymnasiums.

President Benigno Aquino III has earlier lauded this group, which also performed July 3 in Malacañang Palace, for sharing with fellow Filipino-Americans in the United States the rich cultural traditions of the country during their courtesy call at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang on July 3 this year.

The President also thanked the IP for developing a strong positive ethnic identity and instilling pride for the cultural heritage of its Fil-Am students.

IP is the longest continuously running Filipino school in the United States.

It was founded in 1976 by Cristina Castro in response to a group of parents who expressed a need for their children to to understand their Filipino heritage and develop a sense of community among Fil-Am residents in Boston.

The IP Rondalla was started in 1986 under the guidance of Michael Dadap, a classical guitarist, composer and conductor based in New York City.

The ensemble has been conducting national concert tours in the Philippines since 1990 to keep and revive rondalla music, promote cultural exchange and benefit various children and youth organizations in the country.

The varied repertoire of the IP Rondalla reflects the influence of Filipino-American culture drawn from rich folk music heritage, modern arrangements of traditional folk songs and original compositions. (MAL/SAA/PIA5/Albay) 
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) launch in Bicol Region the National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration (FishR) to help Local Government Units (LGUs) follow the provisions of RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code of 1998.   Photo shows during the Press Conference  are  Agriculture Sec. Alcala, Albay Gov.Joey Sarte Salceda,   BFAR National  Dir. Asis G. Perez,  held at The Oriental Hotel, Legazpi City  last July 23, 2013. (Alex Cal/PIA)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Legazpi dad invites Bicolanos in US to invest in the city

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PIA) -- Tourism and information technology are top fields here wherein Bicolanos who are making it good in America could invest in, according to Mayor Noel Rosal of this city.

Speaking before hundreds of balikbayans from the US who were in the city for the Annual Grand Convention of the Bicolano National Association of America held during the weekend at the posh Oriental Hotel here, Rosal was enjoining the group to put more investments in the city.

Over 500 officers and members of the association representing Bicolanos in various American states with their families in tow were in the city the whole week for the convention that also marked BNAA’s 30th year of benevolent services for the Bicolanos in the continental America and at home.

“As you can see around, Legazpi is now an investment haven with all those high-rise and elegant commercial establishments that have sprouted in just a matter of about seven years. We have already regained the title as Bicol’s tourism capital and had recently earned the nickname, City of Fun and Adventure,” the mayor told BNAA delegates.

The city had also emerged as the convention capital of Luzon as apart from the BNAA, dozens of local and international organizations have been holding big gatherings here one after the others all year round, Rosal said.

In information technology, the city is one of the country best Business Process Outsourcing locations being adjudged by the Business Processing Association of the Philippines as one of the 10 New Wave Cities that is why “what you see around are some of the world’s industry leaders like Innodata and Sutherland," Rosal said.

Meaning, he said “the investments here that would be best for you people who have been making it good in the US are on tourism and IT”.

These local investment opportunities, according to Rosal are expecting more boost from the Southern Luzon International Airport that is ongoing construction in the nearby Daraga town and expected to start operations next year.

The city government, he said is already halfway finish with its construction of the 10-km access highway to the SLIA that will provide fast and convenient travel as it bypasses the traffic- congested Daraga town.

Indeed, Legazpi is now very different from what it was seven years ago when the BNAA held its convention here in 2006, according to BNAA president Adolf Manlangit.

“It’s now sparkling with new and modern structures that is making the city a very advance place in terms of development, economy, public utilities, government services, lifestyle and peace, order and security,” he said.

The place is now “very inviting that make us feel going home here more frequently from far away America a very likely commitment”, Manlangit said as he assured Rosal the BNAA would include among its urgent agenda the putting up of investments in the city. (Danny O. Calleja/LGU/MAL/PIA5)

DTI Sorsogon to launch SSF Project for Sorsogon food & craft makers

By Benilda A. Recebido

SORSOGON CITY, July 23 (PIA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provincial office here will launch one of its priority projects towards the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the province.

Public Information Officer Senen Malaya of DTI Sorsogon said that the agency will launch this month two Shared Service Facilities (SSFs) for the food sector in the Province of Sorsogon

“One of the SSFs dubbed as Sorsogon City Food Processing and Packaging Facility will address the need for various industrial type equipment required by the pili, fruit and vegetable processors. It will include the provision of various processing and packaging equipment that will raise the level of productivity, improve product handling and product quality of food products by Sorsogon processors,” he said.

Malaya said the SSF valued at P875,000 will be located at the Food Processing and Packaging Center of Sorsogon State College (SSC) Sorsogon City Campus.

“SSC as the cooperator will oversee the operation of the facility which is expected to benefit 72 SMEs from all over the province and generate 120 employments,” he added.

He further said that another SSF which costs around P675,000 will be established in Brgy. Sabang, Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon that will cater to the needs of the fish processing industry. This will be called as Prieto Diaz Deboned Danggit Processing Project.

“It will make available food-grade processing equipment and storage facilities to enable the fish processors to store raw materials during peak catch and process even during rainy days that have been a production limitation to the processors,” Mr. Malaya also said.

The project’s co-operator in Pto. Diaz is the Seamancor Eco-Developers (Seamancor), a people’s organization concerned with ecology promotion and livelihood generation. The SSF will benefit primarily 20 fish/danggit processors of the municipality but will also cater to fish processors from the neighboring towns. It is expected to generate some 130 jobs.

The program launch will be attended by the project cooperators, Local Chief Executives of Sorsogon City and Prieto Diaz, DTI Officials from the national, regional and provincial Offices as well as the project beneficiaries.

The launch aims to drumbeat the availability of the facilities for the local food processing industry. It will also encourage start-ups who initially have no equipment for their production venture.

Aside from the two SSFs to be launched, DTI-Sorsogon has four other projects approved by the DTI Regional Office 5 for the priority sectors of the province. These are SSFs which will include tools and equipment for handicraft weavers in Barcelona, Casiguran and Bacon and industrial-type equipment for product development and finishing for the bamboo industry.

Acquisition of related tools and equipment is now being facilitated by DTI-Sorsogon.

Aggregate cost for the six facilities is P5,085,500 with 1,000 jobs to be generated.

“DTI-Sorsogon aims to complete a total of 10 SSFs for the province within the year which is expected to impact the livelihood of our craftsmen, food processors and other micro entrepreneurs,” Mr. Malaya said. (MAL/BAR/DTI/PIA5)

Greenpeace International press conference on advocacy vs illegal, destructive fishing

DONSOL SORSOGON, July 23 (PIA) -- Greenpeace International, global environment advocacy organization, holds a press conference last July 20 at Vitton Beach Resort in Donsol Sorsogon as part of its “Lakbay para sa Kadagatan pasiring sa Sustenableng Pangisdaan,” a community solidarity activity aiming to intensify community action in defending the oceans against illegal and destructive fishing. Photo shows Francisco Ombao, chief of the fisheries regulatory enforcement division of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR); Dr. Dennis Del Socorro, professor at Bicol University (BU); Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans Campaigner and Msgr. Angel Dy, head of the Sorsogon Social Action Foundation Inc. (SAA/RHA/PIA5/Albay)

Bennie Recebido, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Sorsogon information center
manager, facilitates the discussion of issues and concerns raised by the media.

The Regional Nutrition Committee meeting held at Renaissance Gardens, Washington Drive, Legazpi City, last July 22, 2013. The highlights was the celebration of the 39th Nutrition Month focuses on hunger with the theme: “Gutom at malnutrisyon, sama-sama nating wakasan” (Alex Cal/PIA)

Monday, July 22, 2013

BFAR launches 'MuSEAka, SEAnema: Likhang Kabataan para sa Yamang Pangisdaan'

By Marlon A. Loterte

PILI, Camarines Sur, July 22 (PIA) -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAS) has launched MuSEAka, SEAnema that would challenge the artistry of all enrolled high school and college students and at the same time involve the youth in the government’s effort to save the country’s aquatic resources.

The MTV and short story documentary contest for the youth will highlight this year’s Fish Conservation Week Celebration.

The competition intends to showcase the youth’s creative juices as they venture into two trendy MTV production and short film documentary.

MuSEAka, SEAnema has two categories: the first category gives opportunity to high school students to show their talents in song-writing, video producing and even singing as they take on the challenge of producing a music video of their own song composition while the second category opens a venue for college students to prove their skills in scriptwriting, directing and video-editing as they embark on producing documentaries that feature the state of the fisheries resource to conserve them.

The competition will be held at three levels: the regional screening for the top three entries in each contest; the preliminary screening of the regional winning entries at the Central Office to determine the contests’ 10 best entries that will be uploaded on a specially-created Facebook account for online voting and finally, the selection of three grand prize and two consolation prize winners for each contest.

Upon receipt of the winning entries from the regions, a preliminary screening for the contests’ 10 best entries will be conducted on September 25, 2013. The chosen entries will then be uploaded on Facebook for online voting beginning September 26 until October 13, 2013. The popular votes will constitute 20 percent of the total score.

The Information and Public Relations Group (IPRG) of BFAR Central Office will hold the judging of the selected best entries for each contest on or before October 14, 2013. Six national winners and four consolation prize winners will be invited to receive their awards and winnings during the culmination of the 50th Fish Conservation Week celebration. Five judges for each contest will be invited from DepEd, the academe and professional media groups in the field of music and film editing.

The bureau partners with the media industry alongside government institutions like DepEd, CHED and NCCA in pushing through its initiatives and advocacies. It can be remembered that in the 49th Fish Conservation Week last year, these institutions went side by side in partnership with BFAR as it launched a similar two-part competition for the youth in its effort to promote and instil awareness on conservation and protection of endangered and threatened fish species not only among few groups of people but on all levels, especially among the youth.

Thus, “Angry Fish” essay writing contest and “Fish on the Red List” drawing and painting contest was also then launched.

Similar to the previous contests last year, cash prizes await regional and national winners.

For the MTV-making, the top three regional winners will receive P7,500 each.

The grand prize winner will receive P20,000 while the second and third place winners will receive P15,000 and P10,000, respectively.

The two consolation prize winners will receive P5,000 each. For the short film documentary production contest, the top three regional winners shall receive P15,000 each.

The grand prize winner will receive P30,000 while the second and third place winners will receive P20,000 and P15,000 respectively. The two consolation prize winners, on the other hand, will receive P7,500 each.

Participating students may submit their entries to BFAR regional offices on or before September 13, 2013. Entries from the NCR may be submitted at the BFAR Central Office in Diliman, Quezon City.

Registration forms can be downloaded at http://www.bfar.da.gov.ph. (MAL/BFAR5/PIA5) 

Farmers coop in Camarines Sur lauded for micro-finance initiatives

DAR Bicol targets 9,000 farmers for crop insurance, preps up for credit program

By Joseph John J. Perez

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PIA) -- The Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARRD) lauded the Minalabac, Mataoroc, Sagrada, San Jose, Baliuag Viejo (MASSBA) agrarian reform community (ARC) Cooperative in Camarines Sur for its micro-finance initiatives in launching a credit program in their locality.

“The CARRD was so impressed with the very remarkable achievement of MASSBA ARC Coop for their savings generation that is utilized to give out loans to fellow farmers,” Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Bicol regional director Maria Celestina-Tam said.

MASSBA ARC Cooperative was able to reach half million total deposits coming from the investments of their member-farmers for their savings generation project in barely three months when they started the program in April this year, Tam said.

“According to their records, the total amount of 497,000 was pooled and availed by members though their credit or loan program,” Tam added.

CARRD is a non-government organization initially formed in 1987 to provide technical assistance to peasant organizations and formally established in 1989 to advocate for agrarian reform and rural development agenda.

This notable feat of MASSBA ARC Cooperative spurs DAR for the full implementation of the Agricultural Insurance Program (AIP) and Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP) to mitigate agricultural losses due to natural calamities and farm pests.

“We have 9,000 target agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) for crop insurance and we are now conducting orientations for them to avail of the insurance as well as the loan,”

DAR-Bicol is now conducting underwriting trainings for ARBOs as part of the preparations to avail the AIP. Immediate completion of the requirements is urgent to jumpstart the insurance program to coincide with the onset of the upcoming cropping season, Tam said.

The national government allocated P1 billion for the AIP to be implemented by DAR together with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) and another P1 billion for APCP which is a joint undertaking of the DAR, Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Landbank of the Philippines, DAR-Bicol told the Philippine Information Agency.

The AIP is an insurance assistance that can be availed to cover rice, corn, high-value crops including livestock production of ARBs, DAR-Bicol said. The APCP meanwhile provides credit assistance to ARBs or ARB household through organizations or other conduits to support individual or communal crop production.

“APCP ensures sustainable production of crops and increase the income of ARBs household members to strengthen ARBOs and improve the capabilities of ARBs through the provision of institutional capability building,” Tam said.

Aside from loans to finance crop production, APCP also provides agricultural production agreement, financial management support and institutional capability building for ARBOs, DAR-Bicol told PIA. The program requires preparation of ARBOs to become credit conduits and priority is given to provinces with high records in land acquisition and distribution (LAD), DAR-Bicol said.

According to DAR-Bicol, only 57% of farmers have access to credit from financing institutions while one in three ARBs in ARCs is in need of credit. Further, new ARB organizations may still not qualify under the credit assistance program-program beneficiaries development (CAP-PBD) of DAR and LBP regular lending program and some ARB organizations still require organizational strengthening to make them credit worthy.

These situations prompted the launching of APCP by pooling the resources and expertise of DA, DAR and Landbank to help ARBs access affordable credit, development assistance and marketing support. (MAL/JJJP-PIA5/Albay) 

Greenpeace, locals partner for protection of Bicol seas, resources

By Sally A. Atento

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PIA) -- Global environment group Greenpeace International partnered with local communities and officials in the Bicol region to intensify community action for protection of Bicol seas and marine ecosystem.

Around 30 Greenpeace volunteers, 20 of whom are foreign nationals, led the solidarity activity, “Lakbay para sa Kadagatan pasiring sa Sustenableng Pangisdaan,” on July 20 this year at the shoreline of Dancalan beach, Donsol, Sorsogon.

The event gathered fishers, government officials, and representatives from various civic and non-government organizations in the region to come up with efficient programs to address problems and issues on illegal and unregulated fishing, said AC Dimatatac, Greenpeace Southeast Asia media assistant.

“This activity is the continuation of the community conference held last year at the same venue where fisher folks highlighted the problem of illegal fishing. They cannot compete with large commercial vessels encroaching on municipal waters. This time we will include local officials to come up with committed solutions to these problems,” Dimatatac said.

This event features the docking of the MY Esperanza, the latest and largest vessel in the Greenpeace fleet, where a flotilla of around 60 fishing vessels will be formed along the 15-kilometer municipal waters to signify the symbolic claim of the said territorial waters.

Dimatatac said this ship is based in Amsterdam and has been used for environmental campaigns around the world particularly in defending oceans in crisis.

“The MY Esperanza is used for the Greenpeace Ocean Defender Tour in various parts of the world. In the Philippines, the first stop was at Dumaguete, the second stop here in Bicol, and the last will be in Manila,” said Dimatatac.

The MV Esperanza, refitted to be environment friendly, was one of 14 fire-fighting ships formerly used by the Russian navy. It is ideal for fast and long range work at 72 meters length and top speed of 16 knots.

The event commenced with a solidarity walk for the seas with local fishers and communities marching from Donsol local government unit (LGU) park to the venue carrying advocacy materials for ocean protection.

The community program also included presentations of best practices on environment protection from the academe, local government units and agencies, and fisher folks.

With this event, Dimatatac said they are expecting to strengthen the relationship between the Greenpeace and the local communities in the region to address the threat of climate change, ocean pollution, and over fishing. (MAL/SAA/PIA5, Albay) 

DTI CamSur completes Business Licensing System in the province

By Analiza S. Macatangay

NAGA CITY, July 22 (PIA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Camarines Sur has completed their streamlining of business permits and licensing system (BPLS) and up scaling of reforms in its continuing endeavor to increase the local government's competitiveness business processing.

DTI Camarines Sur provincial director Edna Tejada said the project covered 35 municipalities and two (2) cities in the province, including the four pilot local governments of this city, Iriga City, Calabanga and Pili towns, now already implementing the BPLS reforms which initially benefited from the said project.

On August 30, 2012, the last remaining 10 LGUs in Camarines Sur undertook the BPLS Reforms at the Regent Hotel, completing the DTI’s target by 100 percent.

Tejada said the BPLS involves the development of policies and guidelines that standardized the streamlining of business and licensing system in cities and municipalities in consonance with Republic Act No. 9485 otherwise known as the Anti-Red tape Act of 2007.

These measures are carried out to attract investors by making licensing process less tedious, thus more investors would mean increased revenue for the LGU.

This is also among the priority programs set by President Benigno S. Aquino III as mentioned in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2010.

“Calabanga and Pili towns have been implementing the BPLS since January 2011 as validated by the submission of their monthly monitoring report. As to the remaining 33 towns in Camarines Sur, the field monitoring and evaluation in the first quarter of 2013 has validated BPLS reform implementation in their respective areas which means compliance with the BPLS standards set forth in the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) between the DTI and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG),” Tejada added.

Jay Ablan, DTI Camarines Sur Spokesperson said that after starting the BPLS in 2010 in 4 pilot LGUs in Cam Sur, namely Naga CIty, Iriga City, PIli and Calabanga, they have already noted its positive effect.

“After completing the BPLS in Camarines towns and cities in the province, we have noted that the LGU have already adopted the use of unified form in business permit application, reduced signatories from 5-10 to 2 only and noted Best Practices for having one signatory only for NAga City, Iriga City, PIli and Calabanga,” Ablan added.

LGUs, in compliance with the set standards should adopt the unified application form. There should also be a reduced number of steps or a limit of only to five (5) procedures that an applicant has to follow in applying for Mayor’s permit. The processing time should be shortened to ten (10) days for new permits and five (5) days for renewals. The number of signatories should also be reduced to two in securing business permits.

DTI has reported that the local governments continue to implement reforms to make business start-ups easier especially for new investors who want to invest in the locality.

Local government units in support of this endeavor, has also implemented the BOSS otherwise known as Business One Stop Shop which has radically reduced the step and processes of securing business permit and necessary licenses from the LGU. Through the BOSS, the concerned LGUs gather all agencies in a “one stop shop” Scheme, allowing the business registrants to have an easy access to the departments providing clearances.

BOSS is usually being set up by an LGU on January, in time for the business renewal period giving businessmen an opportunity to obtain all the necessary documents and approval to install a new business or renew their trade in one streamlined and coherent process. (MAL/LSM-PIA5/Camarines Sur) 

Sorsogon City takes issues one step at a time

By Benilda A. Recebido

SORSOGON CITY, July 22 (PIA) -- The administration of the newly elected Mayor Sally A. Lee of this city faces big challenges to the local chief executive.

City administrator Atty. Cesar J. Balmaceda disclosed that the major problem is the shortfall in finances.

“We still have the resources. However, from the P25-millionper month Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the city government, P18 million goes to the salaries of our permanent employees. At this point in time, we can’t even afford to pay for contractual workers and in like manner, our traffic enforcers,” the city administrator explained.

Furthermore, the city government pays for its monthly electric consumption bill of P1 million.

The administrator also said another fiscal constraint is the gasoline consumption of the 11 serviceable garbage trucks.

“The city government is just lucky that the provincial government is providing us two more trucks to shore up our garbage collection in the meantime that we are in tight budget,” Balmaceda said.

"The city government pays up anywhere from P118,000 to half a million pesos in a month’s time," he noted.

But, one step at a time, the new city administration is getting to the bottom of every concern. On the issue of garbage collection, Balmaceda said for the time being, the city’s traffic enforcers, street cleaners, and garbage collectors are doing this job.

He likewise divulged that the previous administration has P7 million in unpaid salaries for June 2013 of 2,000 contractual workers.

“We are at present trying to find means to pay these employees,” he said.

Balmaceda also said that the city government for the past six years never had the chance to achieve the prestigious Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH).

During an initial dialogue with stakeholders, a new traffic scheme was taken up which acts on various grievances of drivers, commuters, and businesses along Sorsogon City’s main thoroughfares.

For more than a year now, tricycle operators and drivers, commuters, and business owners have been complaining about the one-way traffic scheme which the past administration had implemented specifically along the main thoroughfare – Rizal and Magsaysay Streets – hence, the suggestion to bring back the old two-way traffic scheme.

The city government will implement a new traffic scheme in August.

Earlier, Lee emphasized the need to re-establish the two-way traffic system, particularly along Sorsogon City’s main access roads under one of her Team Sally slogans “Bisay na Trapiko, Ginhawa kan Gabos!” (Orderly Traffic, Relief of All). (MAL/BAR-PIA5, Sorsogon) 

Bicol leads in fund release for agrarian reform projects worth over P1B

By Joseph John J. Perez

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PIA) -- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Bicol now leads the entire country as the most ‘time efficient’ region in matters of fund disbursements necessary to expedite construction of approved sub projects of the Agrarian Reform Communities Projects II (ARCP II), according to an agency's top official.

DAR ARCP II National Project deputy director Herman Ongkiko said to date, the total fund amounted to P1,082,280,888 for 161 sub projects spread in the three ARCP II-covered provinces in Bicol, Camarines Norte getting the biggest allocation amounting to P446,345,799.06 for its 64 sub projects, Camarines Sur with P 395,918,230.49 for 77 sub projects and Sorsogon getting 240,016,858.45 for 20 sub projects.

ARCP II is funded mainly through loan assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with the support from the national government through its National Government Assistance for Local Government Units or NGALGU.

Leading this male-dominated job is not a toughie macho but a persuasive lady who is DAR regional director and ARCP II regional project manager Maria Celestina Manlagñit-Tam, fondly called as RD Waying.

“When ARCP II started in 2009, it was neither attractive nor palatable to the local government units (LGUs) due to substantial equity required from them,” Tam said.

Notable among the three provinces was Camarines Norte since they will be having for the first time foreign assisted projects (FAPs) in their agrarian reform communities (ARCs). Without any previous experience on FAPs, the initial five identified LGUs in Camarines Norte, mostly fifth class municipalities, were earlier reluctant to be involved with ARCP II.

This is where the provincial government of Camarines Norte came in headed by Governor Edgardo Tallado, who shouldered all the equities required from the covered municipalities composed of Labo, Paracale, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Basud and Jose Panganiban. After Governor Tallado’s commitment, ARCP II was in full throttle in Camarines Norte.

The equity share for a first and second class municipality is 70 percent, 60 percent for the third and fourth class, and 50 percent for the fifth and sixth class.

On the other hand, Camarines Sur was very receptive to the project. This can be linked to the success of previous projects implemented like the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project (ARISP) and other FAPs that gained the confidence of local chief executives (LCEs) in the province.

Further, DAR’s development facilitators (DFs) were personally involved in the grassroots and have positive relations with the LGUs that facilitated the strong partnerships between DAR and the municipalities.

“This personal linkaging really proved effective that enhanced our partnerships with local decision-makers,” Tam said.

Worth commending is the strategy of the provincial project manager and Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) Rodrigo Realubit who organized constant meetings of all LGU-beneficiaries with every LGU having a chance to host meetings in its locality. Realubit was also instrumental in Governor Tallado’s support to ARCP II by laying the foundation for the partnership during his previous tenure as PARO for Camarines Norte. Templates of designs were also shared among LGUs living up to the local tradition of Bayanihan.

The Bayanihan Spirit is necessary to synergize the efforts of 12 LGU-beneficiaries composed of the municipalities of Sipocot, Del Gallego, Libmanan, Milaor, Ocampo, Garchitorena, Tigaon, Buhi, Baao, Bula, Pili and Sangay. Write shops were conducted for one week under one venue to prepare all technical documents required by the ARCP II, a strategy that proved very effective with the output of complete set of technical documents of the sub-projects.

Meanwhile in Sorsogon, the LGUs were initially hesitant on the project. The DAR provincial office doubled its efforts to catch up with the pace of the two other provinces.

“The province now is in high spirit with the sudden surge of approved sub-projects,” Tam said.

As of this writing, six irrigation projects and one farm-to-market road have been approved for implementation. Sorsogon has seven municipalities under ARCP II composed of the towns of Castilla, Matnog, Irosin, Juban, Casiguran, Gubat and Bulan.

Personal linkaging was also Tam’s strategy in managing the regional sub project approval committee (RSAC) which is responsible in authorizing projects not exceeding P3.5 million in total cost.

“We don’t simply give invitation but we use personal persuasion in encouraging our partners and line agencies to be active in the project to expedite approvals,” Tam said.

Aside from DAR, the RSAC is composed of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the Bureau of Government Finance under the Department of Finance (DOF).

It also pays off that the lady director is an active member of the Regional Directors Association (REDIRAS). To date, RSAC has approved 55 sub projects representing 30% of the 161 subprojects in seven meetings that they convened within the span of a year and a half. “We always have a quorum since the regional directors usually personally attend the meetings,” Tam said. The remaining balances of the grand total of 161 subprojects which amounted more than P3.5 million each were approved by the national sub project approval committee (NSAC).

ARCP II implementation follows the bottom-up approach wherein sub projects are identified by the beneficiary communities themselves. The personnel of ADB and the National Project Coordinating Office (NPCO) immerse themselves in the grassroots to consult, confirm and validate the proposed projects.

“A mere presence of a NPCO staff excites the community and local officials which make them feel important resulting to gaining full cooperation and trust from them for the project implementation,” Tam said. The agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) through their organizations actively participated in barangay workshops and consultations giving us vital information for the projects, she added.

One significant lift in ARCP II implementation is the provision of support fund through NGALGU which covers 25 percent of the LGUs’ equity for every sub project. NGALGU basically resolves the LGUs’ problem on fund scarcity.

“Another 20% support fund from the performance-based grant system (PBGS) can also be availed that can result to a possible 45% total national government share,” Tam said.

Vital requirement to avail said 20% is by achieving the DILG’s Seal of Good Governance which was introduced by the late DILG Secretary Jessie Robredo. Luckily, the LGU-beneficiaries were conferred with such award.

The approved 161 subprojects range from farm-to-market-roads, irrigation systems, multi-purpose buildings and post harvest facilities such as solar dryers, and social infrastructures such as school buildings, health centers, day care centers and level II potable water system. “We also give equal importance to agri-enterprise development component of the project to eventually transform our farmers as entrepreneurs,” Tam said.

Ongkiko lauded DAR Bicol for its noteworthy performance and said he believes Region V has set the pace and momentum that need to be emulated by other regions in order to bring the benefits of the subprojects to the end users as fast as possible.

Tam said that the infrastructure projects aim to stimulate the economic activities in the ARCs especially with those numerous farm-to-market-roads and post harvest facilities.

Alex Robles, an agrarian reform beneficiary from Barangay Aslong in Libmanan, Camarines Sur said, "The road has a great impact to us especially that I own a tricycle. It is now very easy for me to transport products and there is no need for me to look for an alternative route which I did previously to evade the formerly muddy road.”

More than 50% of the 161 sub projects are either on the ground breaking phase or on-going in terms of construction, Tam said.

“We already completed 20% of the total sub projects and some of these are already turned over to the community-beneficiaries,” she added.

Aslong Barangay Captian and ARB Eduardo Borromeo reflects on the significance of the ARCP II in his community; “Almost everybody benefited from the farm-to-market road project of ARCP II here in Aslong. Various mode of transportation now ply in our community giving better mode of transportation especially to the students who previously ride on “hilada” or carabao sleigh.”

“It is now easier to transport our products. The students can now walk conveniently to school not worrying on mud. Because of this better road, almost all residents are striving to own vehicles.”

Indeed, time is gold in Bicol as it expects fields of golden grains to be harvested in due time. (MAL/JJJP-PIA5/Albay)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

DAR promotes mechanized farming through P17-M Arccess program in Bicol

By Joseph John J. Perez

Legazpi City, July 20 (PIA) -- The ever-reliable ‘damulag’ (Bicol for carabao) can now take a much-needed rest from farming chores courtesy of a Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) project.

The DAR’s Agrarian Reform Communities Connectivity Economic Support Services (Arccess) had provided 14 agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) in Bicol Region with different types of farm machinery and equipment.

These include 62 units of farm machinery composed of 90 HP four-wheeled drive tractors with implements, combined harvesters-threshers, hand tractors with implements, corn sheller, reapers, water pumps, fiber dryers, mechanical trans-planters and power tillers.

All in all, these farming gears cost at least P17 million.

“The farm machinery will not only shorten the time spent to farm tasks done by the farmers including number of persons needed to complete the job, but will provide additional income to them by renting out the machines to other farmers or groups,” said DAR Bicol Regional Director Maria Celestina Manlagñit-Tam.

Classified as common services facilities (CSFs) under the Arccess, these were distributed March this year to ARBOs farms producing crops such as rice, corn, vegetables, sugarcane, pineapple, abaca and coco coir.

Most of the ARBOs that benefited from the CSFs are based in Camarines Sur with 6 ARBOs, followed by Masbate with 3, Albay with 2 while the provinces of Camarines Norte, Catanduanes and Sorsogon have one ARBO each.

“There will be more ARBOs that will receive CSFs after the required processes are done,” Tam said.

These farmer organizations are: Bicol Sugar Coconut Planters Association in Pili, Pinit Irrigators Association (PINIA) in Ocampo, Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Tinawagan (ALAMAT) Multi-purpose Cooperative in Tigaon, Bayanihan Savings Replication Organization (BSRO) in Del Gallego, Quepotol Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative (QFMPC) in Milaor, and San Agustin-San Ramon Farmers Cooperative Inc. (SARFC) in Bula, all in Camarines Sur;

Kamanitohan Irrigators Association in Manito, Maysua Farmers Association in Polangui both in Albay, Jamorawon Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Bagahanglad Peoples Organization in San Jacinto and Placer Multi-Purpose Cooperative, all in Masbate; Sta. Elena Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Camarines Norte, Casama Farmers Irrigators Service in Panganiban, Catanduanes and Bangate Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Barcelona, Sorsogon.

“Aside from mechanizing farming methods, Arccess also utilizes the expertise of professional services providers whom we refer to as ‘business coaches’ to transform farmers to become entrepreneurs,” Tam said.

"These sectoral partners are state-run colleges and universities, civil society organizations, and private institutions who can train farmers in bookkeeping, financial reports preparation and management and other technical operations," Tam added.

According to DAR Bicol, Arccess aims to improve the net income of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) by providing strategic subsidies in the form of professional services and revenue-generating agri-machineries to ARB organizations. These interventions aim to establish organizationally-matured ARBOs that are ready to undertake agri-enterprises, DAR Bicol told PIA. (RDA/MAL/JJJP-PIA5/Albay) 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bicolano farmers improve on design of a DAR water supply project

By Joseph John J. Perez

LEGAZPI CITY, July 19 (PIA) – Camarines Sur farmers trained as para-engineers were able improve on the construction design of a community potable water project under the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Members of the San Francisco Fundado-Linaga-Canaman Irrigators Association (SFFLCIA) in Canaman town are beneficiaries of the Community-Managed Potable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (CPWash) Project jointly implemented by the DAR, the Philippine Center for Water and Sanitation and the local government units

“We took time to study and observe how the facilities are working, and we noted that some of its features need further innovations to provide an improved and safe source of drinking water to our community,” SFFLCIA President Nicanor de Castro said.

De Castro led his fellow farmers who were trained as para-engineers for the project so they can innovate on the CPWash design, specifically on its iron filter and biogas facilities.

The farmers replaced the hollow blocks with PVC pipes for stronger support and prevention of bacterial growth. The new design also reduced the culvert filtration holes from 12 to 6 to minimize possibility of insects passing through the holes. Water outlets were also reduced from 12 to only one to ensure the water that overflows from the unit will not blend or mix with the filtered water.

De Castro’s group composed of 130 member-farmers is among the numerous beneficiaries of CPWash in at least 16 municipalities in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Masbate.

Like the members of SFFLCIA who were trained as para-engineers, more than 120 farmers were already trained on CPWash development and installation. They are responsible for the livelihood enterprise component of the project that is focused on setting up low-cost, culturally acceptable and appropriate water sanitation technologies that can be managed and sustained by the community, DAR-Bicol said.

“I personally consumed water from CPWash facilities and it is clear, odorless, tasteless and definitely potable,” DAR Regional Director Maria Celestina Manlagñit-Tam said. It also passed the water analysis test of the Department of Health.

DAR introduced the CPWash technology to provide agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) households access to safe drinking water.

CPWash has four water sanitation techniques – the iron removal filter and bio-sand filter as water treatment facilities; bio-gas digester septic tanks and rainwater collector. There are already 20 iron removal filters, 70 bio-sand filters, 9 rainwater collectors and 22 bio-gas digesters set up in the Bicol Region with 140 households benefiting from them, DAR Bicol said.

According to DAR-Bicol, the project involves the adoption of low cost WASH technologies which ensures easy management, replication and maintenance of the facilities by the communities themselves. Some of the materials can be generated from the existing resources and even solid waste in the community such as gravel and sand, charcoal and used cans. Estimated cost per facility is only a little over P10,000 excluding labor, DAR told PIA.

“Local government officials were so impressed with the project that they committed to allocate funding for its replication in their barangays that need potable water supply,” Tam said. About 1.1 million ARB households require upgrading from the current level 1 water system to improved quality of water and sanitation, DAR said. (MAL/JJJP-PIA5-Albay)