Thursday, June 29, 2017

DOST, DTI in Bicol help upgrade skills of abaca workers

LEGAZPI CITY, June 28 -- The regional offices of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Bicol have been closely working together to help upgrade the skills of workers who are into abaca fiber production and processing.

Dr. Pilita O. Lucena, DOST-Bicol public information officer, said the two agencies had spearheaded a training program for the abaca workers on how to soften the abaca fiber and apply the proper dyeing techniques.

“The training for the abaca workers fall under the ‘wearable and houseware cluster’ in the region that assists micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMES which are into fiber production and development,” she said.

Lucena, in an interview on Wednesday, said that to attain quality and add value to the product of the abaca workers there was a need for proper abaca fiber processing and dyeing.

“This need was identified during consultation meetings for the ‘National Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Project’ or NICCEP,” she said.

Lucena said the NICCEP meetings stressed that the marketability and global competitiveness of abaca fiber products could be realized through training and exposure to actual production sites.

She cited that on May 23 and 24 this year DOST and DTI conducted a training-workshop on “Softening Abaca Fiber and Training on Dyeing Techniques and Standardization (water pH factor).”

Lucena said 19 abaca raw material producers and processors attended the training held at DOST Bicol conference room in Barangay Rawis in this city.

Engineer Adela H. Montalvo, senior science research specialist of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI), discussed the procedures on abaca fiber softening and later conducted an actual demonstration together with the participants.

A site visit by the participants to Banquerohan Resettlement Site Neighborhood Association Inc. (BRSNA Inc.) in Barangay Banquerohan, Legazpi City followed.

Pilar M. Aydalla, BRSNA Inc. president, led the group tour of the abaca processing facility that houses the DOST-PTRI rotary press machine being used in abaca softening, locally called the abaca “pinukpok” technology.

Prior to introduction of this technology the softening of abaca fibers was traditionally done manually by abaca processors.

Lucena said during the hands-on activity, the participants were able to experience abaca softening using the PTRI press machine.

She said the during the workshop on proper color choice and combination and cooking of the abaca fiber the participants had adopted the techniques on abaca dyeing that were taught to them.

Lea A. Pagao, provincial director of DTI in Sorsogon, closed the training program by commending the participants who were “actively involved and determined to find ways and means to improve their business enterprises.”

Lucena said the participants, who were encouraged by their learnings, hoped that similar activities could be conducted in the future.

“The DOST, DTI undertaking with the abaca producers and processors resulted into a public and private partnership which created opportunities and benefits for both,” she said.

Lucena said the partnership is important as like pili and coconut, abaca is one of the leading export industries in Bicol. (Gina V. Rodriguez/PNA)

Declining seagrasses worry seashell gatherers in Albay coastal village

BACACAY, Albay, June 20 (PNA) —- Seagrasses gracefully dance with the sea current, serving as a nesting ground and as habitat of marine species to create a natural seagrass garden along the coastline of Bacacay town in Albay.

In Barangay Buang, Bacacay, villagers, who rely on the sea for a living, however, attest to how these seagrasses have been on a decline through the decades.

They said from the 1960s up to the '80s, their coastline, which faces the Pacific Ocean, were once dense with seagrasses, so-named because most species have long, green, grass-like leaves.

“Over time, there has been a decline in the seagrasses, which are home to the seashells,” said Marcy Burac, 53, a resident of Buang who collects seashells along the coasts as a means of livelihood.

Fishermen here noted the decline in the marine species from the 90s up to the present.

On a particular day, Marcy, along with her 10-year-old son Jeric, a grade 4 pupil, rush to the seashore as soon as the sea water recedes to collect the seashells.

Mother and son, with their “eco-bags” and “bolos” (a type of native knife) then scoop the seashells beneath the seagrass beds.

Locally known here as “bariw-bariw,” the seashells appear once the sea water recedes during low tide, which occurs for around two to three hours.

During this time Marcy and son start to collect the seashells which they sell to local tourists at PHP60 per one medium-sized eco bag.

They fill up the eco bag with a variety of seashells.

According to Marcy “sarad” and “kudkud” are the other types of seashells that villagers could find beneath the seagrass bed.

Scientists attribute the depletion of seagrasses along the coasts such as that in Buang to the warming of sea temperatures brought by climate change.

They said rising sea temperatures produce bigger waves from the ocean which in turn pound the coastlines where the seagrasses are nurtured.

Marcy noted how big waves hit the coastlines of Buang, particularly in the months from July to February.

Restoring the conditions in the ocean so seagrasses could thrive as they did in the past is a concern of everybody, said exhibits mounted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Bicol.

The agency, which is observing June as Environment Month, has been spearheading various activities, among them the holding of a “biodiversity challenge” to spread awareness on environmental consciousness among communities, especially those living along the coastlines.

Environmentalists said restoring the seagrass beds are important as after the estuaries and wetlands, seagrasses are the third most valuable ecosystem in the world.

They said seagrasses modify their environments to create unique habitats.

Known as the “lungs of the sea,” the seagrasses support commercial fisheries and biodiversity, clean the surrounding water and help take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

According to scientists, one square meter of seagrasses can generate 10 liters of oxygen every day through photosynthesis. (PNA)

64 Albay villagers down with Chikungunya; outbreak seen

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27 -- Some 64 villagers fell ill from suspected Chikungunya fever that struck eight villages in Guinobatan town in Albay, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) said Tuesday.

A provincial epidemiology team was sent on Tuesday to check reports by the town’s Municipal Health Office (MHO) that Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease, hit the villages of Poblacion with 32 cases, Muladbukad Pequeña with 26 cases while the villages of Ilawod, San Francisco, Malabnig, Banao, Masarawag and Maninila have one reported case each, according to Dr. Antonio Ludovice, acting Provincial Health Officer.

An initial report sent by Dra. Joanna Limos, municipal health officer of Guinobatan, said that the people who fell ill manifested on and off fever, skin rashes and joint pains in the extremities -- the clinical symptoms of Chikungunya.

The MHO reported that the cases of dengue-like symptoms were observed since April but during health surveillance, the cases of the mosquito-borne virus turned out to be Chikungunya cases.

PHO said that a possible outbreak could be declared following the significant rise in the number of people becoming ill due to Chikungunya fever in Guinobatan town.

As this developed, Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara directed the PHO to closely coordinate with the MHO and carry out disease control measures to stop the possible spread of the disease.

A PHO epidemiology surveillance team has started gathering laboratory examinations from the patients which would be sent to the Department of Health in Bicol for analysis.

The PHO medical team dispatched medicines to treat the patients suffering from the disease.

As a counter-measure against the disease, the PHO has urged local government units to organize an “Aksyon Barangay Kontra Dengue,” a surveillance team from the provincial down to the barangay level.

The PHO urged residents to observed the “four o’çlock habit,” which means to stop at this time during the day so as to eliminate the breeding places of mosquitoes.

In previous years, at least 100 people fell ill from Chikungunya fever that struck two villages in Sto Domingo town and a village in Batan Island in Rapu-Rapu town, both in Albay. (Mar S. Arguelles/PNA)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ASEAN info caravan by PCOO, DILG, DFA set June 30 in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27 -- The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Bicol in partnership with the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be hosting the Bicol regional leg of the information dissemination caravan on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

An activity to increase the people’s awareness on the concept of the “ASEAN integration,” the information caravan will also focus on the theme of the ASEAN conferences being hosted by the Philippines this year, which is “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

Ma. Grace Joy Tango, DILG-Bicol information officer, in an interview Tuesday, said the caravan aims to orient the participants on what is ASEAN and the benefits that could be derived by the Philippines and its citizens by being a part of the regional group of nations.

She said around 300 participants are expected to the whole-day event on June 30 at the Legazpi City Convention Center wherein a forum and press conference will follow the talk of the various speakers.

Tango said the series of activities for the day will be attended by local government executives, national and local government representatives, heads of state universities and colleges, various other stakeholders and media practitioners.

Tango said PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar is expected to deliver a short message while DILG Regional Director Eloisa Pastor will welcome the participants.

DFA-ASEAN Executive Director Zaldy Patron will discuss the hosting of the ASEAN by the Philippines, an original member of the 50-year-old regional organization.

Tango added that other topics to be discussed in the event are updates on the declaration of martial rule in Mindanao in the aftermath of the Marawi crisis, ways to counter violent extremism and federalism.

Aside from the Philippines, the other members of the ASEAN Community are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (Connie B. Destura/PNA)

Civil works for PHP7.2-M drug treatment facility in Albay start in July

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27 —- Civil works for the construction of a PHP7.2-million drug rehabilitation center in Barangay (village) Tula-tula, Ligao City in Albay will start in July this year, according to Governor Al Francis Bichara.

He said in an interview on Tuesday (June 27), that the project had been bid out soon after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) approved the funds for the project.

“The site development plan is ready and now scheduled for bidding while the construction which will start in July, is expected to be finished by the end of August,” said Bichara.

He added the facility will be operational by the end of the year.

Bichara said the architectural design of the treatment center, which is seated on a one-hectare lot, is that of a two-story structure “of at least 10 big cargo aluminum 40-foot containers.”

Aside from the center, a separate administration and medical building will also be built in the drug rehabilitation center compound.

The construction cost for the rehabilitation center is PHP5 million while another PHP2.2 million will be spent for the administration and medical buildings.

Bichara said the funds were sourced from the Provincial General Fund.

He said provincial architects and engineers have designed the center as a “dormitory type” that could accommodate 150 drug dependents as patients.

“As a standard practice, the rehabilitation center could only accommodate patients with a severe drug problem,” Bichara said.

The site is located at the compound owned by the provincial government which is presently the headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Public Safety Company or PPSC.

Bichara said he doesn’t foresee any problem on security at the facility because of the presence of the PNP.

He said there are plans to put up in the adjacent lot a correctional facility for youth offenders to be manned by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Bichara said management of the rehabilitation center will be a joint effort of the Departments of Health, Social Welfare, PNP and provincial government.

During the second quarter council meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council or RPOC on June 20 the Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol reported that it has validated and assessed 38,234 drug surrenderers.

DOH-Bicol records showed that of the 38,234, there were 4,332 who belong to the low-risk category, 4,301-mild, 2,561-moderate and 557 deemed as “severe.”

It added that among the 557 in the severe category, there were 179 who had been referred for treatment at two existing rehabilitation treatment centers in Bicol, one in Malinao, Albay and another in San Fernando, Camarines Sur. (Mar S. Arguelles/PNA) #REALNUMBERS

DOST-Bicol sets June 30 deadline for invention entries

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27--The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Bicol has set this June 30 as the deadline for the submission of entries to this year’s “Bicol Regional Invention Contests and Exhibits” or BRICE.

Dr. Pilita Lucena, DOST-Bicol public information officer, said this year’s BRICE would be one of the major highlights of the celebration of the Regional Science and Technology Week or RSTW on Sept. 26-28, 2017 in this city.

“Through the RSTW celebration, outstanding science and technology programs and projects will be showcased and recognized for their contribution to the advancement of science and technology and regional growth and development,” she said.

Lucena, in an interview on Tuesday, said BRICE has the following categories: “Tuklas” Award on inventions, Outstanding Utility Model or UM, Outstanding Industrial Design or ID, “Likha” Award on creative researches, and “Sibol” Award for the high school and college levels.

She said qualified inventors; makers; designers and creative researchers, both professionals and students from the academe, research and development institutions, local government units and other public and private entities must submit to DOST-Bicol the complete contest requirements together with the duly accomplished forms.

Lucena said “innovation and creative breakthroughs and other milestones” will be featured during the RSTW in September. (Gina V. Rodriguez/PNA)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Albay’s 'pinangat' ranks 22nd in Top 50 World Street Food list
By Johnny C. Nuñez

LEGAZPI CITY, June 13 -- 'Pinangat', one of Albay’s outstanding ethnic dishes that have been making waves in world food expos, has bagged the 22nd spot in the Top 50 World Street Food Masters list at the recently concluded World Street Food Congress (WSFC) 2017 in Manila.

The Top 50 eats include Singapore's Hill St. Hwa Pork Noodle, Franklin’s BBQ of Austin, Texas, US and Bangkok's Che Paek Pu Ob Voon Sen.

Aside from its intrinsic savory taste, the pinangat's success is partly credited to Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda's 2D Culinaria initiative that focuses on food and travel, and supports ethnic cuisines and local food producers.

The 2D Culinaria Albay program was derived from the original Culinaria Albay, which significantly enhanced the local food industry and opened new avenues for small and medium food producers and entrepreneurs in the province. On account of its successful participation in past international food expos, the Department of Tourism has tasked 2D Culinaria Albay to represent the Bicol region in the May 31-June 4 WSFC held at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

The WSFC has been acclaimed as a resounding success, and local entrepreneur Zeny’s pinangat of Camalig town in Albay made it to the 22nd spot in the Top 50 World Street Food Masters list. The pinangat is a concoction of pork or fish wrapped in taro leaves, and gently simmered in coconut milk.

Two native Albay dishes were presented during the WSFC -- the Bicol Express risotto and the pinangat burger. Both merited good reviews and were included in the “10 things to try at WSFC” by Spot.ph; the “8 must-try dishes” by interaksyon.com; and the “7 local food picks” by ABS-CBN.

2D Culinaria Albay’s success at the WSFC followed its equally outstanding presentation last month at the IFEX Philippines, one of the country's biggest international trade exhibitions.

The WSFC featured 28 of the world’s best Street Food Masters from 12 countries who dished out authentic mouth-watering heritage street food for five days. Present during the congress were world-class chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain, and WSF organizer Makansutra, a photojournalist-entrepreneur and founder of KF Seetoh of Singapore. Albay’s 2D Culinaria team included Oriental Legazpi's executive chef Andhei Nacion and two sous-chefs.

Salceda has sustained his support for his province’s food industry through the Culinaria Albay brand and has urged Albayanos to patronize local products to support the native industry, and promote their chefs and homegrown restauranteurs in the global food arena.

The 2D Culinaria Albay has also joined the Madrid Fusion Manila food exposition last April 6-8 at the SMX Mall of Asia, after which three international chefs and food writers from Russia, London and the Middle East visited Albay and Sorsogon as their post-expo destination, a validation that Culinaria Albay is on the right track, said Salceda.

The Madrid Fusion food expo was among Albay’s most notable and productive participation in food expos, where buyers — having been familiarized with the Albayano ethnic tastes in previous events — showed astounding interest in Albayano cuisine.

In recent years, Albay has been acknowledged and conferred various awards for its culinary tourism and its notable global tourism assets that have drawn international tourists in droves. (PNA)

DOH denies citing 59 evacuees from Marawi died of various illnesses

MANILA, June 16--Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial on Friday denied that there were a total of 59 deaths recorded in the evacuation centers in Iligan City, where resident-evacuees from Marawi City had been staying since the Marawi crisis took place.

In an interview with this reporter, DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the information that came out in some media reports, which cited such number of deaths, were totally wrong and she had never said them.

She said she had reviewed the video and clearly showed she said that there were no deaths in evacuation centers," said Ubial.

The video that Ubial was referring to was the press briefing during the event of ASEAN Dengue Day held in Legazpi City in Bicol on June 15 (Thursday)..

She admitted that what she mentioned there were actually deaths outside the evacuation centers or in the hospitals where some of the evacuees were referred to for further treatment which then totaled to only 19.

She insisted that such deaths can be attributed to pre-existing conditions suffered by some patients such as cancer, undergoing dialysis treatment.

She added that aside from the said 19 deaths, she mentioned that there were four other cases of deaths that they were still checking to establish the cause of death.

In mentioning that, she said that she even raised her hand as gesture to indicate that number.

"Itinaas ko po ang kamay ko saying may apat na allegedly namatay (I raised my hand saying there were four who allegedly died (due to still unverified reasons)," the Health Chief said.

She said she was willing to show the video of the entire press conference to further prove that she had not mentioned 59 deaths.(LSJ/PNA)

23 refugees die from illnesses in Marawi

LEGAZPI CITY, June 15 -- Some 23 refugees from strife-torn Marawi City have died due to various illnesses, of whom 19 died inside designated evacuation camps while the remaining 4 died outside the camps, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said here on Thursday.

She emphasized that the victims died not because they were hit by bullets and bombs during the crisis but because of sickness.

“The four evacuees staying outside the evacuation centers died of dehydration,” said Ubial who arrived in this city today for the 7th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Dengue Day celebration.

She said during the press conference at Daguinsin Hall at the Department of Health-Bicol (DOH-5) office in this city that the 19 death cases at the evacuation centers were of people who were already suffering from illnesses when they were brought to the various camps.

Ubial said some of the evacuees suffering from kidney disease are undergoing dialysis while the others who had died of cancer and heart ailments were able to undergo treatment at a government hospital.

Ubial said DOH set up 68 evacuation centers for the 20,627 persons or 4,249 families who fled Marawi City.

She said the centers were established in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, particularly in Cagayan De Oro City, and in Lanao del Sur where the majority of the refugees are being housed.

Ubial said the common illnesses reported included acute gastroenteritis, upper respiratory tract infection, diarrhea and skin diseases.

She said these diseases were widespread due to the cramped situation inside the camps.

Ubial, quoting DOH evacuation data, said that of the 280,581 people who fled Marawi because of the crisis, only 20,627 persons are housed in various evacuation camps while the 280,581 evacuees are living with either relatives or friends.

She said the doctors and health workers are doing their daily rounds to check on those evacuees inside the camps who need medical attention.

“The thousands of evacuees staying outside the evacuation camps are our major health concern in terms of how fast our physicians and health workers can attend to them,” she added.

Ubial said she has directed the DOH in Mindanao to launch a campaign advising Marawi evacuees staying outside the shelter to immediately visit the barangay, town and city health centers and hospitals for free medicines, treatment and confinement should they become sick. (Mar S. Arguelles/PNA)

DOH reiterates evacuees' death in Marawi happens in hospitals

MANILA, June 19--Department of Health (DOH) on Monday reiterated that deaths among evacuees in Marawi City occured in the hospitals and not in the evacuation centers.

"The deaths are in the hospitals...Most of them have pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, cancer and high-blood," DOH Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial said in an interview with the media during the launching of DOH Quitline in the Lung Center of the Philippines.

Ubial said that to date (June 19), a total of 25 deaths were recorded by DOH among evacuees in Marawi.

The latest of these deaths was the premature death of a pregnant mother that caused the death of the baby the other day (June 18).

Meanwhile, the Health Chief once again reiterated that there was no truth on the news that that she mentioned that there were a total of 59 deaths among evacuees in Marawi duing a press briefing held in Legazpi City during the ASEAN Dengue day event.

"That was totally wrong" she said.

The Health Chief repeated her earlier clarification that what she said was "misheard" when she mentioned that aside from 19 deaths there were still four other deaths that could be attributed to dehydration.

She said that adding 19 and 4 together totaled only to 23.

She said that she was unsure if intentionally or unintentionally what she mentioned in Tagalog as "apat na po" ) were taken in the context of "apatnapu" or 40 by the media who ask for that question during a presscon in ASEAN Dengue Day.

"How can they conclude when in the first place, kayo (media practitioner) ‘yong nagtanong sa akin kung anong nangyari sa apat na namatay. I don’t know if it’s intentional or unintentional pero mali po. That’s 19 plus 40. Doon po nakuha ‘yong 59 which is not true," when asked to explain how the conclusion came.(LSJ/PNA)

P285B South Railways project pushes thru under Duterte admin
By Johnny C. Nunez

MANILA, June 20 (PNA) -- President Rodrigo Duterte is set to officially approve by the end of this month the PHP285 billion South line of the North-South Railway Project (NSRP) that will provide reliable rail system between Bicol and Manila.

After several hitches in the past, and reportedly stricken out of the Department of Transportation’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) list due to funding and investment problems, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said the project will finally push through under the Duterte administration.

Salceda said the project will start this year, this time under a different procurement method, since it “remains a priority investment project of the national government” and a vitally urgent infrastructure for Southern Luzon.

It was reclassified under direct expenditure scheme, which means the national government and Congress “would find ways to look for the needed financing to implement it, said Salceda, senior vice chair of the House ways and means committee.

The project which will be completed by 2021, within the term of President Duterte, involves new sets of railway tracks from Tutuban to Legazpi City in Albay, then to Matnog in Sorsogon, crossing the Southern Tagalog region and mainland Bicol.

He said Japan and China have both recently pledged commitments to the project.

“As I have been advised, the Tutuban-Los Banos line would be financed (and therefore implemented) by Japan and the Los Banos-Matnog would be financed by China. This is a critical and central project of President Duterte,” said Salceda who recently had consultation meetings with Socio Economic Planning Sec. Ernesto Pernia, Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Deputy Director General Rolando G. Tungpalan.

The NSRP south line was one of three railway projects approved by the NEDA-Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) during the joint technical board and Cabinet Committee meeting last June 1. It was approved in 2015 by the Bicol Regional Development Council which Salceda chaired, and endorsed to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Inter-agency Coordinating Committee for PPP. It was approved by the NEDA Board on February 16, 2015.

Salceda said the South Railway Line, when completed, will vastly improve connectivity and efficiency among urban centers and regional growth hubs and thus enhance productivity in the industry, services and agriculture sectors, and will further boost Bicol’s tourism by as much as 30 percent which forms part of the predicted 24% economic returns it will bring to the countryside when fully operationalized.

The lawmaker, one of the most ardent proponents of the project, said the NRSP South Line completes Albay’s multi-modal transport model -- air, sea, road and rails – and is expected to unlock the huge potentials of Bicol, particularly Albay, Bicol’s regional center and hub.

It is also expected to cut by half the present 12-hour Manila-Legazpi travel time and at the same time provide commuters a comfortable and reliable transport system. Its proposed PHP1,300 fare per passenger is deemed reasonable enough.

“The project will likewise expand trade and open more investment opportunities that will make Bicol’s agricultural and processed products more competitive in the markets of Divisoria, and in bringing in needed inputs to our industries, and basic commodities to our households. Tourism will receive the biggest boost from it, hiking tourist flow -- domestic tourism by 30% and foreign arrivals by 10% -- since a train ride from Manila to Legazpi is an attraction by itself,” Salceda added.

The new railways system involves seven train sets, 66 stations and 10 daily trips that will ferry some 316,000 passengers per day, when it opens in 2020.

Rail transport between Manila and Bicol is considered practical and convenient for students, vacationists, traders and workers. (PNA)

DOH-Bicol releases PHP5.9-M fund for poor drug users
By Mar S. Arguelles and Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, June 21 —- A ranking official of the Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol said DOH has released a PHP5.95-million fund that would be used to finance the expenses for the laboratory examinations of indigent drug dependents.

Dr. Ernie Vera, DOH-Bicol assistant regional director, made the disclosure during the second quarter meeting on Tuesday (June 20) of the Regional Peace and Order Council or RPOC.

The meeting of the RPOC, which is headed by Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal, was attended by heads of local government units or LGUs, various government agencies and units of the Philippine National Police.

Vera said the PHP5.95 million fund has been released to five hospitals and treatment rehabilitation centers or TRCs in the region.

He said the Bicol Regional Teaching Hospital in Albay was allotted PHP500,000; Bicol Medical Center in Naga City, Camarines Sur–PHP500,000; Bicol Sanitarium in Camarines Sur-PHP250,000; Camarines Sur Rehabilitation Center-PHP 2.6 million; and Malinao Rehab Center-PHP2.1 million.

Vera reported before the RPOC meeting that as of June 19, they have also referred 179 persons, deemed as “severe” users of illegal drugs, to TRCs in the region.

He said the 179 were among the 557 in the region who were categorized as “severe” users.

“DOH-Bicol also has in its list 2,561 who were deemed as of moderate risk, 4,301 as mild risk and 4,332 as low risk users of illegal drugs,” said Vera.

The moderate risk cases are accommodated as outpatients in TRCs for four to six months while those deemed as “mild” have to undergo community based intervention in seminars sponsored by the local government units or LGUs for a three-month period.

Vera said the “severe cases” are required to submit a court order, physical examination from a DOH-accredited physician and a psychiatrist's clearance before their admission to any TRC.

He added that DOH also has in its list 72 persons, whom they refer to as PWUDs or “persons who used drugs,” 32 of whom were classified as “intensive out-patient” while the 40 others were clustered under “residential” treatment.

Vera said they are undergoing “interventions” at the TRC in Malinao, Albay and San Fernando, Camarines Sur.

Both TRCs, which have a 150-bed capacity, require a patient to spend PHP3,000 monthly or PHP18,000 for a six-month treatment period.

DOH-Bicol records showed its health personnel have validated and assessed a total of 38,234 users of illegal drugs who had voluntarily surrendered to the police.

In the course of the illegal drug campaign, the drug surrenderers who underwent screening and documentation were allowed to return home. Their names, which were compiled by the police, were turned over to their respective LGUs which formed a core team to make the assessment and classification as to level of drug dependency of the drug users.

Vera told the RPOC meeting that in July it is possible to complete their assessment of those in the severe risk category so that all those in this listing could be admitted to TRCs.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said they have yet to start construction of a planned treatment facility in Barangay Tula Tula in Ligao City as they are still awaiting word from the LGU for a complete list of severe drug users from DOH.

“We have to know the number of patients as this will be the basis for the size of the facility to be built,” he said.

Rosal has earlier offered a site in Barangay Bnaquerohan in Legazpi City for an additional TRC in the region.

During the same RPOC meeting, Bichara submitted a resolution asking PhilHealth and the LGUs to help the enrollment of indigent drug dependents in PhilHealth so that their expenses in the TRCs could be defrayed by the state health insurance fund.

The resolution was immediately approved by the RPOC members. (PNA) #REALNUMBERS

Illegal drug trader yields P600-T shabu in Naga City

LEGAZPI CITY, June 22 —- An illegal drug trader from Cavite yielded 100 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) valued at PHP0.6 million in a buy bust operation at the Bicol Central Terminal Station in Naga City, Camarines Sur on Wednesday, said reports that reached the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) on Thursday.

Sr. Supt. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of PRO5 based in Camp Simeon Ola in this city, said the suspect, identified as Jalil Guro Macabando, 23, was arrested at the terminal station in Barangay Triangulo, Naga City around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

She said the team of police operatives pounced on Macabando, a resident of Barangay H2 in Dasmariñas, Cavite, immediately after his arrival at the terminal station.

“The shabu was wrapped with a masking tape,” said Calubaquib.

She said the lawmen handed PHP1,000 marked money to Macabando before announcing his arrest.

The arresting team was composed of operatives from the Regional Police Enforcement Drug Unit at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola and Stations 2 and 4 of the Naga City Police Office.

Calubaquib said Macabando was under surveillance for several days before the buy bust operation was conducted. (Jorge Hallare/PNA)

BU allots PHP39M for free tuition of medical students

LEGAZPI CITY, June 22 (PNA) -- Qualified and deserving medical students who desire to pursue their dream of becoming doctors can now enjoy free tuition at the Bicol University (BU) here which has allocated a PHP 39-million budget for the program this year.

Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-Bicol Director George Colorado on Wednesday said that BU was among the eight state universities and colleges (SUCs) nationwide which were selected to provide free tuition for medical students.

“About PHP39 million will be disbursed under BU’s general appropriations budget allocation until December 31, 2017 for this grant,” he said.

Colorado said that a total of P317.1 million has been allotted from CHED’s 2017 budget for academic year 2017-2018 under its “Cash Grants to Medical Students Enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (CGMS-SUCs)” program.

He added that the implementing rules and regulations or IRR for the said student assistance fund were already finalized with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

In a joint memorandum circular of CHED and DBM, qualified student-grantees shall be entitled to receive 100 percent tuition subsidy based on the actual tuition of their respective SUCs.

It was learned from Colorado that this initiative was in response to the continuing lack of doctors in the country due to the high cost of medical education, overseas migration and brain drain.

“To address the problem, the Duterte administration decided to subsidize the tuition of medical students and facilitate their residency and practice in different parts of the country,” he said.

Colorado said to qualify for CGMS-SUCs, a student must pass the admission requirement and should also enroll in an authorized Doctor of Medicine program of the SUC.

Grantees are also required to maintain a general weighted average of at least a passing grade, carry a regular academic load and complete the degree within the period allowed in school.

“Student-grantees of CGMS-SUCs will have to render a one-year ‘return service’ in the Philippines for every year of cash grant received as part of their public service responsibility,” said Colorado.

Grantees can serve as doctors in government or private hospitals, local government facilities or become doctors to the barrios, he added. (Edgar Isidro Alejo/PNA)

Police exec says crime index in Bicol down by 20.5%

LEGAZPI CITY, June 22 —- A ranking official of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) said the crime index in the Bicol region went down by 20.52 percent during the first five months of this year compared to the same period last year.

This was disclosed by Sr. Supt. Cirilo Trilles, chief of operation division of PRO5, who presented the data during a meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC).

Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal, RPOC head, convened the second quarter meeting of the council that was attended by heads of key local government units, government agencies and units of the Philippine National Police.

Trilles said the help of various government agencies, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the people in the communities themselves contributed to the decrease in the index crime.

He said that for the period January to May 2017, there was a decrease in the index crime to 3,235 cases from the 4,070 cases for the same period in 2016.

He said there was a downtrend in the incidence of most crimes cases such as theft-31.4 percent; cattle rustling-27.7 percent; robbery-25.6 percent; rape-25.6 percent; homicide-17.6 percent; and physical injury-2.1 percent.

Trilles, however, said their data showed that for the period compared there was 3 percent increase in the murder cases this year compared to last year.

He said PRO5 recorded 171 cases from January to May 2017 compared to 166 for the same period in 2016 for a 3.01 percent increase.

Trilles noted also that there was a very minimal decrease in the incidence of theft of cars and motorcycles, which went down by just “.86 percent.”

PRO5 records showed there were 116 cases of cars and motorcycles that were lost to theft or “carnapping and motornapping” from January to May in 2016 compared to 115 cases for the same period this year. (Jorge Hallare/PNA)

Rifle grenade blast kills household helper in CamSur

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 -- A rifle grenade explosion killed a 36-year-old female household helper while her companion was severely wounded in Iriga City, Camarines Sur on Friday evening, said a report reaching the headquarters of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) on Saturday.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the victim, identified as Marites Capena, 36, was seated in front of a table around 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Barangay San Isidro in Iriga City when her companion in the house, Roy Tino, 48, arrived.

“Tino held in his hand a rifle grenade that he picked up somewhere in their barangay,” said Calubaquib.

She said Capena and Tino played with the grenade not knowing that it could explode.

“Suddenly the grenade exploded, ripping apart Capena’s body while Tino was critically injured,” said Calubaquib.

Capena was rushed to the Medical Mission Group Inc. in neighboring Nabua town, also in Camarines Sur, but was declared dead on arrival.

Tino was rushed to the same health facility but later transferred to the Bicol Medical Center in Naga City because of his critical condition.

The Iriga City Police Office is continuing with its investigation to determine how Tino managed to get hold of the rifle grenade, said Calubaquib.

Capeno was a resident of Barangay Sta. East in Buhi town in the province while Tino is a resident of Barangay San Nicolas, Iriga City. (Jorge Hallare/PNA)

5 nabbed in buy-bust in Camarines Sur

LEGAZPI CITY, June 26 -- Anti-narcotics police arrested five suspects, who yielded three heat sealed plastic sachets of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), in a buy bust operation at a lodging house along Magsaysay Ave. in Naga City, Camarines Sur on Sunday, said a report that reached the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) on Monday.

Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said one of the five suspects was nabbed in a buy bust held at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday inside the B5 Lodging House in Barangay Balatas, Naga City.

She said the lawmen composed of the Regional Police Drug Enforcement Unit, Drug Enforcement Unit of Naga City Police Office (NCPO) and Station 2 of NCPO recovered two unopened sachets of "shabu", one opened sachet of "shabu" and drug paraphernalia believed used by the group in their pot session inside the lodging house.

The lawmen also recovered the PHP500 used in the buy-bust.

Calubaquib said the five suspects were identified as Princess Lucas, Franco Mesa, Ramon Garcia, Rey Earl Reyta and Leonard Casaul, all residents of Naga City.(Jorge Hallare/PNA)

Friday, June 16, 2017

86% of 20-M poor Filipinos availed of DOH's free checkup, says Sec. Ubial
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, June 15 (PNA) —- Some 86 percent of the 20 million poor Filipinos nationwide have availed of free medical consultation and checkup since the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte launched the health program last year and made it accessible to the poor.

This was stated by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Pauline Jean Ubial during a press conference at noontime today at Daguinsin Hall at the Department of Health Regional Office in Bicol (DOH-5) here in this city where she led the 7th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Dengue Day celebration.

Ubial said DOH chose the poorest 20 million from among over 105 million total population in the Philippines, who could qualify under the program, because the budget of the government cannot provide for all.

She said out of the 20 million ,over 50,000 with various illnesses are scheduled to undergo free surgical procedures on June 1 in all hospitals owned and run by DOH and local government units.

She added there will be another medical consultation on July 1 which targets to provide for another batch of 20 million poor Filipinos.

Ubial said by which time, the program would have rendered free medical consultation service to a total of 40 million poor Filipinos for the second year of implementation of the program.

The DOH targets to include PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.) in the program so that it will be the latter which will pay for the medical consultation of other people seeking services in various government-run hospitals.

“This is because DOH wants to include the most number of Filipinos, whether rich or poor, who could be given appropriate medical services,” she said.

In Bicol, Dr. Napoleon Arevalo, DOH-Bicol director, reported they have implemented a free medical consultation program for the poorest members of the population in the region.

“Out of the more than five million population in Bicol, DOH-Bicol was able to serve the poorest 1.4 million Bicolanos in various communities,” he said.

Arevalo said the 1.4 million received free medical consultation in various DOH- and LGU-run hospitals in the region with support from some private hospitals.

“Most of them will undergo free surgical procedures, including those with cases of cleft lip and cleft palette,” he said.

DOH-Bicol was honored by DOH as a “topnotcher” among all the regions nationwide because of the “successful implementation” of its free medical check-up campaign.

Ubial said that with regards to the government’s free medicine program, DOH has started giving medicine in the entire country with help from the local health centers, rural health centers and other government-run hospitals.

“The government has allotted nearly PHP3 billion to DOH for free medicines for illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, tuberculosis and others,” she said.

On the other hand, the government gave PHP1 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) so it could help DOH distribute the free medicines for the poor which are in DSWD’s list. (PNA)

Ubial wants sustained fight vs dengue despite 32% drop in cases this year
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, June 15 —- The Philippines has shown a nearly one-third decrease in dengue cases this year compared to the previous year but there should be no let up in the country’s efforts to reduce the number of cases, according to Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial.

"We need to work together and join in the campaign to eradicate dengue cases in our society,” said Ubial who was here today for the 7th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Dengue Day.

Citing DOH data, she said there was a 31.8-percent decrease in dengue cases this year compared to last year, from 211,000 cases in 2016 to 143,902 cases in 2017.

Ubial said the call of the World Health Organization (WHO) is to have a 50-percent reduction in dengue cases by 2020.

She said the Philippines is among the countries in Asia and the Pacific which have a high prevalence of dengue cases.

“We bear nearly 75 percent of the global burden of dengue,” Ubial said.

She said with WHO’s help, the country has developed a dengue and prevention control program, a strategic plan covering 2017 to 2022, that will be rolled out to all areas of the country.

Ubial said the plan uses the 4S strategy against dengue or what is referred to as --“Search and Destroy,” “Seek Early Consultation,” “Self-Protection” and “Say No to indiscriminate fogging.”

The “ASEAN Dengue Day,” which enjoins the active participation of people in the communities for a more effective anti-dengue response, is an annual advocacy campaign that started in 2011 among the ASEAN countries that are committed to the prevention and control of dengue.

Undersecretary of Health Dr. Gerardo Bayugo and Dr. Guindo Weiler, WHO representative to the Philippines, officials from the Department of Education in Bicol and local government units in Albay graced today’s celebration here along with Ubial.

There was also a display of booths showcasing the good practices of all the provinces in the region with regards to dengue prevention and control while the winning entries in the dengue short film contest were also presented and adjudged.

But the highlight of today’s activities was the blessing of the “Public Health Laboratory and Regional Insectary” within the compound of the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) located in this city.

During a forum at the DOH-Bicol office on June 8 held as a prelude to today’s celebration, DOH-Bicol Director Napoleon Arevalo said the “insectary” is a facility that seeks to study mosquitoes and other insects that have “medical importance.”

“It will study insects like mosquitoes that bring about such diseases as dengue, malaria and chikungunya,” he said.

He added the goal of DOH is for the laboratory facility to serve as a diagnostic center for these diseases in the same manner as how the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine or RITM is operating for certain types of illnesses.

“Bicol is one of the pilot areas for such a diagnostic center,” said Dr. Arevalo.

In the same June 8 forum, Ma. Cecilia Pan, coordinator of the dengue prevention and control program in Bicol noted a 25 decrease in dengue cases from January 1 to June 3 this year compared to the same period last year.

“There were 738 cases recorded in 2016 compared to 555 cases in 2017,” she said. Pan added that among the six Bicol provinces, Camarines Norte showed the biggest decrease at 57 percent, followed by Albay at 42 percent and Catanduanes at 41 percent.

Arevalo said he would like to believe the decrease could be attributed to the effective partnership of DOH-Bicol with the Department of Science and Technology-Bicol and the local government units in developing and adopting a technology that measures the “density” of dengue cases in various communities in the region. (PNA)