Thursday, July 20, 2017

DOT exec winds up gov't service with Bicol as PH's Top 10 tourist destination

LEGAZPI CITY, July 20 -- Seventeen years after a “roller-coaster-ride” and hard work, Bicol tourism director Maria “Nini” Ong-Ravanilla has bowed out of service after making the region the Top 10 tourist destinations in the country.

In the past decades, Bicol lagged behind but with Ravanilla at the DOT helm, the region transformed as among the country’s top destinations with 1 million tourists registered in 2016.

Ravanilla reported to tourism stakeholders in Bicol that she will be leaving behind Php9 billion worth of completed projects and a Php23-billion budget for Bicol region tourism development for 2018 to 2022.

“From 2018 to 2022, our office in partnership with DPWH endorsed 26 projects worth Php23 billion. Fifteen (15) out of 26 projects were approved. Road access is very important for tourism development. We’re building more projects and access roads for investors to come in and for them to development its product,” she said.

Ravanilla explained that the role of the government is to strengthen the governance and the community for transformation as the human capital.

“We started a roller-coaster-ride when we started 17 years ago, from the second bottom to Top 10 tourism destinations in the country," she said.

Ravanilla said Camarines Sur is Top 3 and Albay is Top 6 among tourism destinations in the country in the province category with the helped of their Bicol local officials, media and tourism stakeholders.

When Ravanilla took her post, there were only two flights in Legazpi, but to date, there are more than 10 flights per day excluding the two night flights, owing to the influx of tourists and businessmen here.

In 2016, the Legazpi City National Airport was upgraded as Albay International Gateway for Chartered Flights to accommodate more visiting Chinese tourists.

Ravanilla said that after 17 years and six months of working so hard to sell the wonders of Bicol specifically Albay, it was finally chosen by foreign tourists to become a new major destination in the country.

“Bicol is now the country’s top tourism hub. The only problem is that we don’t have a direct flight from Korea and other countries. Koreans and Chinese tourists are clamoring for a direct flight from their respective country to Legazpi. Hopefully, the construction of Bicol International Airport will be fast tracked to accommodate direct and international flights here,” she said.

Ravanilla also cited that through tourism promotion and development, the cities of Legazpi and Naga are the country’s most competitive cities with two aggressive chief executives promoting tourism here.

“With Mayor Noel Rosal, Legazpi City is the number one most competitive city in the country and Naga City ranked second under Mayor John Bongat. They are very aggressive mayors with a vision to accredit more establishments. These two cities are recognized as the most competitive in the country,” she said.

Under Ravanilla’s helm, Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon (ALMASOR) covering three provinces in south Bicol generated more tourists as triumvirate package.

Another tourism promotion here is the so called Triple C, representing the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes Island in north Bicol suited for surfing and wakeboarding events.

“We’re leaving a legacy behind of remarkable development the Almasor and the Tripple C for Bicol governors. I hope the new DOT director will be enjoying a lot. This will be my legacy. Before bowing out in my office, I will be working and bid in US for us to host the annual BNAA convention in Bicol next year,” Ravanilla said.

“I think the wonderful ride comes to a close. Along the way, it was not a smooth ride it was the roller-coaster ride but with your remarkable help specifically my partners in media we made Bicol as Top 10 tourist destination in the Philippines,” Ravanilla said.

Ravanilla is the longest serving director in Bicol region. She was appointed as DOT director in Bicol during the administrations of Presidents Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino and reappointed again by President Rodrigo R. Duterte. Her term of office was extended again by Duterte six months after her retirement age. (Rhaydz B. Barcia/PNA)

BSP holds economic, financial forum in Legazpi

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 -- Hundreds of stakeholders from the government, business, banking and academe sectors met here Tuesday for three days of economic, financial learning sessions sponsored by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Legazpi Branch, a BSP official said.

The “Economic and Financial Learning Session” now in its third year is an event that highlights the observance of BSP’s 24th anniversary, said Sharon Moyano, BSP Senior Research Specialist, and branch spokesperson.

Moyano, in an interview Tuesday, said the learning session is aimed at spurring public understanding and appreciation of relevant economic and financial issues shaping the country’s economic growth.

Highlighting the event were presentations and discussions of economic and financial issues which include : Investing for Your Future: Understanding Personal Equity and Retirement Account (PERA); Overview of E-Banking and E-Money in the Philippines and How to Avoid Related Threats and Scams; and Recent Economic Developments in the Philippines and the Bicol region.

Moyano said BSP resource persons including other banking experts presented and discuss the topics among the multi-sectoral participants.

The PERA account, she noted, is an investment and insurance plan similar to what the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System are offering to government and private employees, respectively.

But unlike the GSIS and SSS, the PERA investment and pension account would be available in private banking institutions accredited by the BSP, Moyano explained.

Currently, the BDO and BPI are accredited to offer this pension plan to either government and private employees including overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who wish to avail of the plan.

She said, "the financial and insurance account refers to a voluntary retirement account established for the exclusive use and for the benefit of the contributor.”

Under PERA account, contributors such as employees and self-employed persons would shell out P100,000 a year in maximum investment while Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) could invest with a maximum amount of P200,000 a year.

Contributors would receive their return on investment (ROI) upon reaching the retirement age of 55 years old.

Earning or gains from the PERA account are either in cash, treasury bonds and share of stock. These are tax-free from the regular 20 percent withholding tax, while subscribers who plan to sell their shares upon maturity would be exempted from paying the capital gains tax.

PERA is a financial framework introduced by the BSP, and made into law by RA 9505 otherwise known as PERA Act, Moyano said.

For the E-Banking and E-Money and how to avoid related threats and scams, BSP banking experts relayed the various threats and scams prevailing in the banking operations including: the malpractices such as scheming and phishing. (Mar Arguelles/PNA)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

North-bound boulevard soon to rise in Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 -- Construction of phase one of the seawall cum boulevard project in the northern portion of Legazpi City has started as part of the P2.1-billion master flood control project being supervised by the Department of Public Works and Highways in cooperation with the City Engineering Office, City Mayor Noel E. Rosal said in an interview on Tuesday.

Rosal said the project is considered as another mega tourism infrastructure with a total road length of 2.70 kilometers traversing the coastal villages of Sabang, Pigcale, Baybay and San Roque, all facing the Albay gulf.

The project is not only a boulevard but also a seawall designed to protect the lives and properties of the villagers from the impact of storm surge especially during typhoons and other forms of natural calamities, he said.

Rosal said this project would also serve as an alternate route of the motorists going to the first district of Albay and portions of Camarines Sur.

"This road project would also serve as a primary solution to traffic congestion at the major thoroughfare in front of the regional government center in Barangay Rawis, he added.

He said these coastal villages in north of this city would be the next haven for investment that is being anticipated to boost the economic activities by bringing more employment opportunities to the people in the villages.

Rosal said this project will also be useful for jogging, running, walking and other forms of physical exercises as part of promoting healthy lifestyle to the people.

The mayor said this concrete road would also serve as another venue for leisure as well as for recreation and entertainment for all the visitors and residents.

Upon completion of this phase one project, the next will be the civil works or the phase two that will include the construction of the 380-meter long reinforced concrete deck girder (RCDG) four-lane bridge; and also for the utilization of the 24,000-linear meter foreshore land to pave the way for the construction of road right of way that will connect the boulevard across Tibu and Yawa rivers going to the regional government center, Rosal pointed out.

The project came out through the master plan prepared by the Legazpi City Planning Office that was submitted to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Bicol for inclusion in the investment program in Region 5.

Based on the study prepared by the city planning office, the construction of the boulevard includes the putting of core rocks, backfill, grouted riprap, foundation, retaining wall, construction of a two-lane all weather concrete road, sidewalks and bike lanes, construction of concrete fence, bridge approach and railings, solar street lights, landscaping, greens, and buffer zones. (Emmanuel Solis/PNA)

DA-Bicol selects taro, pili, abaca and pineapple as priority products for ASPIRE

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 -- Bicol’s local products made from gabi (taro), pili, pineapple and abaca handicrafts were showcased during the recently held Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Expositions (ASPIRE) project launched by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Bicol in Naga City, an agency top official said Tuesday.

Elena de los Santos, DA regional director, said the ASPIRE exhibits would look for potential investors that would promote and market the region's priority commodities such as gabi, pili, pineapple, and abaca products abundant in Bicol.

De los Santos said that the project aims to bridge the gap between the farmers, producers, processors, and consumers and to build a simpler supply chain where everybody would benefit from the product commodities.

During the exhibit, Delos Santos said, shoppers from different walks of life were awed by the different agribusiness commodities and products.

These included elegantly packed Pili confectioneries, organic products and supplements, Pineapple fiber products such as Pinya clothes, handicrafts, processed marine and agricultural products, and low priced organically grown agricultural commodities and planting materials, which were sold like hotcakes, the director pointed out.

Engr. Leandro Gazmin, DA Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness and Marketing who led the launching in Naga City, said, “this exhibition is the very first of its kind in the country and it is a very vibrant partnership among government and the private sector.”

Gazmin said that a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the DA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) marking the start of a convergence among the key players in agribusiness and industry sectors.

Gazmin said, “We want to build a simpler supply chain para madaling makabili ng raw materials ang mga processors/suppliers within an area. Dahil laging sinasabi ng processors na walang raw materials, at sabi naman ng farmers ‘walang market’. We aspire for the farmers, processors and consumers to all be happy in a healthy industry, kung saan hindi na madedehado ang farmers. We will look at Bicol’s priority commodities and strengthen value addition of quality products.”

Carolyn Castro, OIC Director of Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) who gave the project overview, said the project aims to integrate market development services to farmers, fishers, micro small and medium enterprise (MSME); promote regional commodities to showcase strong backward and forward linkages with farmers and fisherfolk; develop the capacities of local farmers and fisherfolk and MSMEs to optimize market opportunities; and promote/advocate investment opportunities to encourage market investments.

ASPIRE has four driving components, namely: production support; enterprise development and industry support; investment promotion; market promotion and development.

Naga City Mayor John G. Bongat, for his part, said that the city government puts a lot of premium on the role of agriculture in the overall growth of the city and has allocated a big chunk of the city’s annual budget to agriculture.

But he said this move will have no bandwagon effect to the communities without the inspirations being stirred by the Bicol Business Month which is on its 30th year now. He added that the best message of the month-long celebration is value-adding in agriculture. (Connie Destura/PNA)

Legazpi water firm to increase rates in August

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 -- The Legazpi City Water District (LCWD) is set to raise its water rates starting next month.

LCWD Customer Accounts Division officer-in-charge Richard Atun in an interview Tuesday said the current rates could no longer meet the increasing cash requirements of the water district in its operation and maintenance.

The last water rates hike was in 2010 and there’s now a need for additional funds to carry out projects that would improve water supply facilities and expand services, Atun said.

When the water rates increase takes effect, there will be at least 10 percent increase for 0-30 cubic meters’ consumption. One cubic meter is equivalent to 1,000 liters. So, a minimum consumption of 10 cu. m. or 10,000 liters will amount to 2 centavos per liter for residential connections using the new rates.

With the new rates, the LCWD expects about P281 million in revenues this year. Last year’s collections totaled P248 million while disbursements reached P250 million.

The LCWD is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) and yet it does not receive subsidy from the national and local government unit. The funds being used for its operation and projects only come from the payment of consumers using and consuming LCWD’s water supply.

In her presentation, Engr. Barbie Vonette Borromeo, engineering and operations department manager, said that for the past three years, the LCWD has invested P82 million in its water supply development projects, including reduction of non-revenue water – P5.26 million; effective pressure management – P5.5 million; and growth in service connection – P7.27 million.

The LCWD would also invest some P608 million in future projects until 2021 which will include expansion of water coverage and building up service capacity, she said.

The water rates increase was not met with resistance from the consumers. However, complaints about low supply, bad odor, rust and sand as well as water potability were raised.

Arch. Ranulfo Imperial, LCWD Board chair, said that they had been pressuring PhilHydro to cope up with the demand of coming up with clean water. He said the management had even threatened to tap other bulk suppliers if it fails to improve water quality.

PhilHydro which has been depending on Yawa as its source, was questioned before when the supposed water rates increase in 2013 did not push through due to water quality problems. Maynilad reportedly intervened when tests were conducted by the University of the Philippines and the Department of Health.

Since the LCWD was established in 1981 with only close to 500 residential consumers, it is now servicing some 23,000 households, or a population of 135,718 all over the city. It currently supplies 33.93 million liters per day.(Edgar Alejo/PNA)

Legazpi City bags Child-Friendly Local Governance Award

LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 -- The city government of Legazpi bagged the Best Local Government Unit award for its implementation of a child-friendly program in the entire region.

Legazpi Mayor Noel E. Rosal on Tuesday morning received a plaque of recognition from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Bicol at La Roca restaurant in this city.

Rosal said that one of the most priority agenda of his administration is the child welfare program as part of protecting the children from abuses and encouraging them to finish their studies for their good future.

The city government of Legazpi has constructed elementary school buildings in different villages here and Special Program for Education (SPED) Centers, all located at the down town areas of this city, Rosal added.

He noted that the 13 school buildings established by his administration would serve as an instrument for improving the high quality education of children particularly those residing in far-flung areas of Legazpi.

City Councilor Vince Baltazar III, author of the City Children’s Rights and Welfare Code enacted by the members of the City Council, said that based on the Code, Legazpi must be a conducive place for the holistic development of children residing in this city to make sure they are always protected from all forms of abuses.

Baltazar noted the city administration should always protect the rights of the children for their survival and development.

According to the code, the city government shall support the family as a basic social institution by giving assistance to children in various forms and providing trainings to parents to make them more capable of rearing healthy children during the earliest stages of infancy to adolescence, Baltazar pointed out.

He said the city government should encourage private and people’s organizations and other non-government groups to sponsor programs and projects designed to promote health as well education and general welfare of the children.

Other LGUs of Albay that received the same awards were Ligao City and the Municipalities of Guinobatan, Camalig, Polangui, Santo Domingo, Malilipot, Malinao, Tiwi, Bacacay, Daraga, Jovellar, Libon, Oas and Rapu-Rapu. (Emmanuel Solis/PNA)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Bicol Solon bats swift nod of Bill for vape regulation

LEGAZPI CITY, July 14 ---- AKO Bicol Partylist Representative Rodel Batocabe is urging the House Committee on Health to fast track the approval of House Bill 3330 or the “Vaporized Nicotine Product Regulation Act”.

Batocabe said that the enactment of the proposed legislative measure would police the use, sale, packaging, distribution, and advertisements of Vaporized Nicotine Products.

This new class of products delivers nicotine to the user without combustion. This proposal is timely given the recent pronouncement of the Department of Health (DOH) to adopt the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) to disallow the use of vaporized nicotine products in indoor spaces, the Bicolano solon explained

“We are seeking to enact the Vape regulation bill in order to guarantee the safety of our Filipino consumers. This will provide a clear-cut policy in addressing the concerns and issues concerning the use of e-cigarettes”, Batocabe said.

He added that "since the medical and scientific community have yet to arrive at a consensus regarding the safety of e-cigarettes, in the absence of the Philippine Food and Drug Administration’s validation, we should not assume that these products have the absolute propensity as reduced risk nicotine-delivery systems."

Groups such as the Public Health England and the British Lung Foundation have emphasized the importance of creating a separate regulation for vaporized nicotine products from cigarettes and other tobacco products, he said.

"A specialist in epidemiology and public health at the University College of London expressed that e-cigarettes are safer and less toxic than conventional tobacco cigarettes based from a study involving people who have switched to e-cigarettes having lower levels of toxins in their saliva and urine compared to the group who have continued to smoke tobacco products," Batocabe quoted a published study.

He said that the regulation of the Vaping industry would guarantee the quality and safety of the items available for use in the market. Products will be required to be registered at the Department of Trade and Industry three months prior to its release in the market.

Vaporized Nicotine products will be obligated to contain instructions for its handling, use, and maintenance.

Vaporized nicotine products will contain the health warning ‘This product may damage your health and is addictive’.

Also, his proposed measure says that minors will not be allowed to purchase and use VNPs.

It adds: The sale and distribution of the products to anyone below 18 years old is strictly prohibited under the proposed law. Purchasing vaporized nicotine products from a minor is also forbidden as part of the stringent regulation of e-cigarettes.

Vaporized nicotine products are not allowed to show advertisements in television, radio, and cinema. They may be allowed in points-of-sale via direct marketing and on the internet as long as it follows the restrictions prescribed by the law.

Ligao City gives P20,000 each to 2 centenarians

LIGAO CITY, July 14 -- The city government of Ligao gave PHP20,000 each to two centenarians as a way of honoring the senior citizens.

Ligao City Mayor Patria “Patty” Gonzalez-Alsua said on Friday that the cash incentive is their way of showing respect and recognition to the centenarians.

Alsua, with the city councilors, personally visited the home of Prescilla C. Sadia of Barangay Layon, Ligao City where she handed the cash incentive.

"As senior citizens have served an integral role in the society, the city government of Ligao, through the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), awarded the PHP20,000 to Sadia," she said.

She said that the cash is part of the incentives given by the city government to senior citizens reaching the age of 100 to celebrate their achievement for living three decades past their life expectancy.

“This is to recognize the rights of every elder in the society and grant them assistance for their economic welfare,” Alsua added.

Another centenarian, Encarnacion Monasterial from Barangay Dunao here also received PHP20,000 cash incentive from the city government last April 25, 2017.

“Indeed, this is one great way to encourage every Ligaoeño to lead a long, healthy and disciplined life,” Alsua said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol said that the region recorded 171 centenarians.

Of the six provinces of Bicol, Albay posts the highest number of centenarians with 39, followed by Camarines Sur, 36; Sorsogon, 22; Camarines Norte, 20; and Masbate and Catanduanes, 9 apiece.

Centenarians are entitled to PHP100,000-cash gift each from the government as provided under Republic Act 10868 or the Centenarian Act of 2016.

DSWD said 59 centenarians in Bicol had already received the cash gift from the government.

Jesseshan Marbella-Aycocho, DSWD regional information officer in Bicol, said the department is still processing the papers of at least 20 other centenarians.

The processing depends on the compliance of documents as proof of their age eligibility, she said. (Rhaydz B. Barcia/PNA)

Masbate Cong. Lanete : New PDP-Laban’s provincial chair

MASBATE CITY, July 13-- House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Thursday has proclaimed Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Seachon-Lanete (3rd District) as provincial chairman of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) here.

Speaker Alvarez said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte chose Lanete to be the official provincial chairman of the PDP- Laban in Masbate because of his leadership and ability to deliver the programs and projects of the administration.

Lanete was also cited for his advocacy for federalism.

The three-term congressman was the son of former Masbate Governor Rizalina Seacon Lanete.

The Masbate solon was noted for his performance during House deliberations of important issues, said Alvarez.

Alvarez said Lanete has perfect attendance during sessions and committee hearings in Congress.

Alvarez in his speech, encouraged people of Masbate to support the programs of the President.

He said the Federal form of government the President wants to implement would give the provinces more benefit.

“In Federalism, the income of the province is just for the province unlike in the present system where central government has full control of all the resources citing that the income of every provinces will first go to the central government and a small percent share will be returned back to the provinces,” he said.

Alvarez said in Federalism, every province has full control and management over its natural resources.

Alvarez said Duterte is not looking after his welfare, he is looking after the welfare of all the people.

Alvarez cited one of the priorities of the PDP Laban was to reform the election term to six years rather than three years so that elected officials can exercise fully his position as public servant.

A crowd of people in orange-colored dress coming from different municipalities flock at the Masbate Coliseum to attend the basic membership seminar and oathtaking ceremony of the PDP Laban.

Lanete has been recognized by the Philippine Social Media Examiner for his work in public service as Filipino Star Achiever Awardee for 2017 for the second time.

He also gained awards from Golden Globe Annual Awards 2017 for Business Excellence.

Alvarez in his visit was so impressed of the 6,000 jampacked crowd that witnessed the swearing in of some 500 new members at the Masbate Coliseum. (Norman Tamar/PNA)

DOH-Bicol to hold free deworming program in Albay schools

LEGAZPI CITY, July 13—The Department of Health (DOH) Bicol is set to conduct free deworming services in all public schools in Albay.

Francia Gerogña, one of the speakers in the briefing, said “we are not only promoting health but we are also improving the education of our children and economic development."

Deworming will cover some 2, 839, 996 children and teenagers, aged from 1-18 years old in both private and public schools, including the out-of-school youths.

The school nurse or classroom teacher will give students one tablet of 60 mg. elemental iron with 400 mg. Folic Acid once a week. "It will be every Monday for a total of 24 weeks in a given school year,” Gerogña explained.

She said the National Deworming Month is a strategy endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to lessen the burden of "Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH)", a helminth infection caused by different species of roundworms transmitted through soil contaminated with focal matter.

Every school year, the first round target of the deworming program will be from July to September and the second round target will be held from January to March.

In the 2015 survey, DOH reveals that Bicol region has the highest STH cases in the country-- 6 out of 10 children while 9 out of 10 cases in 2003.

Dr. Napoleon L. Arevalo, regional director of DOH-Bicol, said, "to mitigate the impact of STH, we are also planning to conduct an "Oplan Tsek-up" or free check-up and deworming to the Indigenous People (IP) communities including those that are living in the mountain areas, through Rural Health Unit's (RHU's) participation and the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP).

In fact, this is the first time that DOH and NCIP worked closely not only in terms of strategies that provide funds and logistics to the IP communities. The NCIP provided PHP1million worth of medicines for the use of this IPs." Arevalo added.

"It's a challenge for everyone not only for the DOH but for all individuals to go to remote areas. Even the hygiene and environmental sanitation is a challenge for us because changing the behavior of people like these IPs will take you a lifetime", the director said.

This year’s deworming celebration has for its theme: "Anemia ay Iwasan, May Libreng WIFA sa Paaralan (Weekly Iron Folic Acid)". (Jessaveth Barcia/PNA)

Friday, July 14, 2017

New Legazpi hospital to get additional P50-M DOH fund: Mayor Rosal

LEGAZPI CITY, July 11 -- The city government here held a soft opening of the new Legazpi City Hospital (LCH) on Monday with Mayor Noel Rosal announcing additional funds from the Department of Health (DOH) for the construction of another floor for the facility.

Rosal said Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, in her recent visit here to inspect the construction of the facility, said the DOH has earmarked an additional P50 million to finance the project.

“We got another P50 million after Sec. Ubial was so impressed of the new city hospital as she promised to release the funds soon as it is ready,” he said.

Hoping to address the overcrowding of hundreds of patients seeking medical treatment in various government run hospitals in Albay, the opening of the LCH would be a value added boost that would seek to answer this pressing hospitalization concern, according to City Mayor Noel Rosal.

He pointed out that the newly constructed 80-bed capacity LCH would help decongest the overcrowded Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) that presently caters to patients in the entire province of Albay including the provinces of Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes.

The P90-million newly built hospital is seated within a 3,000-square meter lot owned by the city administration in the eight-hectare central business center at the heart of the commercial district in Barangay Bitano, Legazpi City.

The project was a partnership between the DOH which poured in P60 million while the city administration has also provided P30 million.

Rosal said that in a meeting in Manila, he presented to the DOH the construction plan of the 3rd floor including the elevator and additional operating and delivery rooms and other improvements of the new hospital.

He said in an interview Monday, "the two-story hospital is expected to open this coming August or September with an initial 25 to 50 beds plus the hospital beds and other medical amenities donated by our kababayan from the United States”.

The hospital is only phasing one and level one with a capacity of 60 to 80 beds but according to the study of the DOH, “this health facility should expand into the third floor with additional rooms to accommodate a capacity for 200 beds in order to qualify it into level 2 hospital”, Rosal added.

The city chief executive disclosed that his administration will submit soon a project proposal to the DOH for the construction of the third floor.

Rosal described this hospital as a state of the art public health facility and this will be the most modern in the entire Bicol region to be manned by professional doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, med-tech and other medical personnel that will render health care services to the city’s indigents patients.

He noted that based on the standard of the DOH, a level one hospital requires employment of at least 113 personnel who should be residents of the city.

Rosal explained that the city will shoulder the yearly operation expenses of the hospital that requires P80 to P100 million to pay for the salaries and wages of all the medical practitioners as well as the electrical and water billings, gasoline and other similar expenses.

According to the mayor, the first four of the six containers of medical equipment for the hospital were turned over by the World Medical Relief (WMR) to the city administration last year while the last two containers were turned over last month by Dr. David Zarate, a Filipino Doctor of WMR based in Detroit Michigan, U.S.A.

The donated medical equipment by the WMR included an X-ray machine, dialysis machine, office tables, medicines, hospital beds, and other medical supplies to be used for the full operation of the hospital, he added. (Emmanuel P. Solis/PNA)

Suspected rebels torch abandoned Army camp in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, July 11 -- Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels torched on Monday night an abandoned Philippine Army (PA) in Barangay (village) Calipat-an, San Jacinto town in Masbate, a Philippine National Police (PNP) report said Tuesday.

Maria Luisa Calubaquib, PNP Bicol spokesperson, quoting a police report, said villagers reported the burning incident to the police stating that at around 6:30 pm Monday, at least 15 NPA rebels swooped down an Army camp vacated by the Charlie Coy, 2IB based in Sitio Padaguiton, Barangay Calipat-an, an outskirt village in San Jacinto, Masbate.

The raiding NPA rebels bearing assault rifles and gallons of gasoline set on fire camp facilities made of light materials which include 13 barracks, a function hall, and mess hall.

After setting the camp ablaze, the NPA rebels fled.

Responding firefighters declared a fire out at about 7:30 pm the same day with fire damages placed at P100,000.(Mar Arguelles and Jorge Hallare/PNA)

War on police scalawags continues - Dela Rosa

LEGAZPI CITY, July 10 -- Police National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Monday said he would step up his campaign against police scalawags renewing his call against police misfits to shape up or face either dismissal, suspension or transfer to other areas where they could be more productive.

The PNP is currently intensifying its police internal cleansing program aimed to develop a mechanism to check every policeman across the country if they are indeed committed to performing well to their mandated task, Dela Rosa said.

The Chief PNP said that cleansing program would be a relentless campaign, “we could see what reforms and changes that we have made in the span of 12 months.”

Dela Rosa believes that he is the only PNP chief among previous administrations that in the span of 12 months was able to dismiss from the service at least 260 police officers accused of irregularities in the performance of their duties.

“Most of them were sacked due to involvement in illegal drugs some were “kotong cops”—Hinuburan ko sila ng uniform, they don’t deserve in the first place,” Dela Rosa said.

“I don’t mind if a police station manned by 20 policemen of which only five would remain and all the rest be dismissed -- what I would like to see is the quality of their work and their commitment rather than quantity with little impact to the service,” Dela Rosa claimed.

As this developed, Dela Rosa urged the police community to collaborate with local leaders and the community in weeding out police scalawags and incorrigible.

He don’t mind his critics saying that throwing “bad eggs” (police scalawags) in other areas would not be productive as it would only cause another problem in the area.

“So far the system of deployment is working – the records is likely on the downtrend,” he said. He was referring to the reassignment of erring policemen wherein those from Luzon are deployed in the Mindanao regions with problematic peace and order situation and vice versa.

The system of police reassignment is a reformatory process wherein a bad policeman will disrupt his momentum in further committing more wrongdoings in his line of duty as a law enforcer, he said.

Dela Rosa on Monday led the turnover rites at Police Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here, where Police Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe received his mandatory retirement order.

Buenafe, a native of Naga City, is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Sinagtala Class he is replaced by his mistah Chief Supt. Antonio Gardiola, Jr., former National High Patrol Group Director, a native of Naga City.

Dela Rosa in his keynote speech said that the region was lucky to have Bicolano police officials running the PNP regional office, “this has been a long practice succession where Bicolanos are at the helm.”

He cited at least seven Bicolano police generals they were: Generals Calleja, DeLos Santos, Guinto, Deona, Marquez, Buenafe and Gladiola.(Mar Arguelles/PNA)

10 NPA rebels surrender to Army in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, July 10 -- At least 10 suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels operating in Masbate province surrendered over the weekend to officials of the Philippine Army (PA) 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) in Milagros, Masbate, a report reaching the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol on Monday said.

The identities released by the military only include their aliases as their true names were still being reviewed and validated by the military intelligence units operating in the province, said Bicol PNP spokesperson Sr. Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib.

The suspected NPA surrenderees include: Ka Jack/Ruel, Ka Pito/Jan, Ka Nonoy, Ka Guiller, Ka Mars, Ka Porong/Obet, Ka Zandria/Gian, Ka Judy/Daniel, Ka Brix/Ros and Ka Gelly/Mara, all reported members of Larangan 1 Guerilla Front of the Bicol Regional Party Committee (BRPC).

The report said aside from their voluntary surrender, five of them also handed their firearms which include an M653 rifle, M16, 2 shotguns and a 38 cal. pistol.

The surrender of the 10 suspected NPA rebels was facilitated by joint elements of provincial Army-police intelligence operations, Civic Military Operation (CMO) and PNP public safety units.

Calubaquib said the surrenderees were undergoing debriefing procedures at the Army’s 2IB Headquarters in barangay (village) Bacolod, Milagros town in Masbate.(Mar Arguelles/PNA)

New lights installed at Legazpi's streets, public spaces

LEGAZPI CITY, July 7 -- Tourists and local residents will now be able to enjoy more the beauty of Legazpi City during night time because of the newly installed lights on both sides of the stretch of Washington Drive going to the Airport Road and in Barangay Cruzada here.

Legazpi Mayor Noel E. Rosal, who, on Friday led the switch-on of the new lights, said the project will serve not only as protection for all the Legazpeneos and visitors but will also add to the beauty of the city.

“It will give more attraction to all the viewers and other visitors to the beauty of the Legazpi, especially during nighttime. It is also very important to all the motorists and other riders from other neighboring provinces and municipalities because if they see these well lighted roads while riding at night time, then they can easily see that they are approaching the city of fun and adventure," the mayor pointed out.

Aside from benefiting visitors and motorists, the residents are more secure during their nighttime activities as the streets will be free from any criminality, he added.

City Tourism Officer Agapita Parces, on the other hand, said having new light fixtures on the roads is very timely as they are preparing for the opening of the yearly Ibalong Festival in mid-August wherein a huge number of international and local tourists are expected to arrive to witness the different sporting events.

Based on the initial meeting, Pacres said the opening of the festival will be on August 11 with a holy mass at the Albay Cathedral to be followed by a parade of floats with the images of villains as well as monsters and the three heroes Handiong, Baltog and Bantong.

The parade that will be participated in by different stakeholders of the city will start in front of the City Hall going to the main thoroughfare of Rizal Street and to the front of Yashano Mall, Gaisano Mall, 101 Mall and LCC Ayala Mall, all located at the city’s central business district, and then end at the city’s southern boulevard in Barangay Dap-dap wherein the formal opening program will be held, she added.

Pacres said this year’s Ibalong Festival is expected to be witnessed by a big number of tourists considering the fact that the event will be considered as one of the grandest celebrations ever with different unique and exciting events.

The Ibalong Festival is a non-religious festivity in this city based on the Ibalong epic. It celebrates the epic story of Ibalong who was accompanied by three legendary heroes namely Handyong, Baltog and Bantong.

Meanwhile, Mayor Rosal said another lighting project of his administration is replacing the old solar lights on Rizal Street going to the city’s Central Business District with new imported lights from Korea.

The city chief executive noted that all the solar lights from Rizal Street will be transferred in front of the regional center at Barangay Rawis along the major highways going to the 1st district of the Province of Albay. (Emmanuel P. Solis/PNA)

Raps filed vs NBI exec, others tagged in Catanduanes drug trade

LEGAZPI CITY, July 5 -- Barely a year after the discovery of a "mega shabu laboratory" in Catanduanes, the Philippine National Police in Bicol finally filed charges against prominent personalities involved in the drug trade.

Chief Superintendent Ramon Melvin Buenafe, PNP Bicol regional director, personally flew to Catanduanes on Wednesday where he led the filing of the case in the local court against prominent personalities which include: NBI Director Atty. Augusto Eric C. Isidoro alias “Tay Eric”; Atty. Ulpiano Sarmiento;

Raymond Lee, Jardin Brian B. Wong, a.k.a. Bobong Wong; Joseph Al Randie B. Wong alias Tiptip Wong; Constantino Huit Cordial, Jr; Snooky Imperial; a certain Mr. Lee; Allan Ang Hung; Xian Xian Wang; Pido Bonito; Noel Sampag alias Bert and Angelica Balmadrid Isidoro, common law wife of Atty. Augusto Eric C. Isidoro. Other persons charged in court were Paulo Uy, Jayson Gonzales Uy, Paolo Wee Palison, Lorenzo Floree Pinera alian Kidot; Phung Yuan Estorco, Sheng Wang Tore; Ruel Samonte, Dennes Samonte; John and Peter Does as accessory of drug trade operations.

Buenafe said because of the very good performance of the Catanduanes PPO and the discovery of the clandestine shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) lab, the PRO5 was chosen as the Best Police Regional Office among the 18 regions'.

"Catanduanes PPO should continue their best effort in the investigation to find other possible suspects and to stop the drug menace in the province," Buenafe said.

Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua, in an interview, told PNA that he was exonerated by the statements of the witness. He urged the Catanduanes PPO to continue the fight against hard drugs and promised that the provincial government will always be supportive to them.

Meanwhile, Senior Supt. Jeffrey Fernandez was replaced by Senior Supt. Felix Servita Jr. as provincial director of Catanduanes PPO in simple turnover ceremonies held inside the conference hall of Camp Francisco Camacho.

Governor Cua who was the guest of honor, said that, "In this campaign and under my leadership, we will give an all out support. Let this be a day to be remembered, a day when we will declare an all out war on illegal drugs as well as say no and we hate and condemn this lingering menance in our society."

On November 26, 2016, PNP Bicol uncovered the biggest shabu laboratory in Barangay Palta Small, Virac town at the property of Angelica Balmadrid, common-law wife of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Eric Isidoro.

Isidoro was head of the NBI’s anti-drug unit during the time of Justice Secretary and now Sen. Leila de Lima. The warehouse is leased to a certain Jason Uy, alias “Paulo Uy,” reportedly a Chinese.

The shabu laboratory was found with six hydrogenators, 329 kilos of ephedrine hydrochloride and other materials for making shabu. It was said to be the biggest shabu factory in the region but only uncovered following President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

Earlier, Chief Supt. Melvin Buenafe filed charges against Lawrence Flores Pinera, caretaker of the shabu facility in Virac, Catanduanes for violation of Republic Act 9165.

Governor Cua was implicated by his political rivals in the operations of the mega shabu laboratory but he denied the accusation.

Following the discovery of mega shabu laboratory in Catanduanes, the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs headed by Rep. Ace Barbers conducted a legislative inquiry to look into the involvement of local officials in the drug trade.

The House probe was conducted at the Catanduanes State University auditorium after Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, chairman of the committee on transportation and telecommunication, filed a bill to look into the drug trade operation in his province.

Cua, who was implicated in the drug trade by his political opponents in 2004, was not invited by the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs to the inquiry.

Cua said that Sarmiento was his former campaign manager in 2004 when he ran for public office but lost to former Governor Leandro Verceles. Cua said that it was Gov. Verceles who implicated him in the drug trade to ruin his name and political career but it was not proven as it was all false allegations.

Due to this, Cua asked the NBI to conduct an independent probe of the presence of a shabu laboratory on the island to ferret out the truth.

Now that the case was filed against the prominent personalities, Cua said that his name was cleared over the operations of mega shabu laboratory. (Jorge Hallare and Rhaydz Barcia/PNA)

New Legazpi hospital to get additional P50-M DOH fund: Mayor Rosal

LEGAZPI CITY, July 11 -- The city government here held a soft opening of the new Legazpi City Hospital (LCH) on Monday with Mayor Noel Rosal announcing additional funds from the Department of Health (DOH) for the construction of another floor for the facility.

Rosal said Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, in her recent visit here to inspect the construction of the facility, said the DOH has earmarked an additional P50 million to finance the project.

“We got another P50 million after Sec. Ubial was so impressed of the new city hospital as she promised to release the funds soon as it is ready,” he said.

Hoping to address the overcrowding of hundreds of patients seeking medical treatment in various government run hospitals in Albay, the opening of the LCH would be a value added boost that would seek to answer this pressing hospitalization concern, according to City Mayor Noel Rosal.

He pointed out that the newly constructed 80-bed capacity LCH would help decongest the overcrowded Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) that presently caters to patients in the entire province of Albay including the provinces of Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes.

The P90-million newly built hospital is seated within a 3,000-square meter lot owned by the city administration in the eight-hectare central business center at the heart of the commercial district in Barangay Bitano, Legazpi City.

The project was a partnership between the DOH which poured in P60 million while the city administration has also provided P30 million.

Rosal said that in a meeting in Manila, he presented to the DOH the construction plan of the 3rd floor including the elevator and additional operating and delivery rooms and other improvements of the new hospital. He said in an interview Monday, "the two-story hospital is expected to open this coming August or September with an initial 25 to 50 beds plus the hospital beds and other medical amenities donated by our kababayan from the United States”. The hospital is only phasing one and level one with a capacity of 60 to 80 beds but according to the study of the DOH, “this health facility should expand into the third floor with additional rooms to accommodate a capacity for 200 beds in order to qualify it into level 2 hospital”, Rosal added.

The city chief executive disclosed that his administration will submit soon a project proposal to the DOH for the construction of the third floor.

Rosal described this hospital as a state of the art public health facility and this will be the most modern in the entire Bicol region to be manned by professional doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, med-tech and other medical personnel that will render health care services to the city’s indigents patients.

He noted that based on the standard of the DOH, a level one hospital requires employment of at least 113 personnel who should be residents of the city.

Rosal explained that the city will shoulder the yearly operation expenses of the hospital that requires P80 to P100 million to pay for the salaries and wages of all the medical practitioners as well as the electrical and water billings, gasoline and other similar expenses.

According to the mayor, the first four of the six containers of medical equipment for the hospital were turned over by the World Medical Relief (WMR) to the city administration last year while the last two containers were turned over last month by Dr. David Zarate, a Filipino Doctor of WMR based in Detroit Michigan, U.S.A.

The donated medical equipment by the WMR included an X-ray machine, dialysis machine, office tables, medicines, hospital beds, and other medical supplies to be used for the full operation of the hospital, he added. (Emmanuel P. Solis/PNA)

Legazpi recipient of DOLE's JobStart program

LEGAZPI CITY, July 4 -- After a series of evaluation, the city government of Legazpi has been chosen by the Bureau of Local Employment-Department of Labor and Employment (BLE-DOLE) here in Bicol as the only recipient local government unit of the JobStart program designed to improve the capacity of Public Employment Services Office (PESO) in providing full-cycle employment facilitation services.

Interviewed on Wednesday, City PESO chief Diosdado Raneses told PNA that JobStart is one of the programs of DOLE that aims to give young Filipinos an opportunity for employment especially those who are out of school and from poor families, to uplift their daily living condition.

Raneses said the announcement was made during the recent planning workshop regarding the JobStart program by the BLE-DOLE, the Embassy of Canada and Asian Development Bank (ADB) held at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City recently.

Raneses said DOLE will also give members of women’s organizations employment opportunities and make them undergo life skills trainings and other seminars as part of enhancing their abilities.

After the training, they will enroll in the Technical Vocational Institute for them to qualify for better employment, he added.

Those who will not pass in the training will be given an opportunity to retrain, Raneses said.

He said that his office has conducted a series of job fairs and skills trainings as part of the efforts of the city administration to give employment opportunities to all job seekers.

The JobStart program is an employment facilitation initiative of the DOLE with funding support from the Canadian Government and technical assistance from the ADB to help young Filipinos start their careers and give them better employment opportunities.

The program aims to enhance the knowledge and skills acquired by the job seekers in formal education or technical training in order for them to become more responsive to the demands of the labor market. (Emmanuel P. Solis/PNA)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

DBP loan open to rebuilding Marawi City, CEO says

LEGAZPI CITY, July 3 (PNA) -- To help push the country's development, the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines can help rebuild Marawi City through a loan, DBP chief executive officer Cecilia Borromeo said on Monday.

She said that if the local government unit opts to borrow, DBP is willing and ready to provide money through a loan scheme to rebuild Marawi City.

“We’re open to help rebuild Marawi if the Marawi City local government unit opt to borrow to rebuild the city,” she said.

While the national government is in the forefront of rebuilding Marawi, Borromeo said DBP is willing to help the city devastated by the month-long urban hostility to bring back its glory.

“We are prepared to lend Marawi City but the national government is at the forefront of rebuilding Marawi probably it will be given for free. We are willing to help them (Marawi City) if the LGU would like to borrow money,” she said in an interview here during the DBP’s Business Road show event held at Oriental Hotel here.

Meanwhile, on the government’s program to lessen carbon footprint, the agency allocated Php37.44 billion in loans as of March 2017 under its green financing program which was established in 2011 and enhanced in 2014.

The approved loans according to her are for a variety of environmental projects including air and water pollution prevention and control; sanitation; solid and hazardous waste management; resource conservation; resource efficiency; cleaner production, renewable energy; water supply; occupational health and safety; climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction.

“DBP provides financing as well as technical assistance to projects that are ecologically-sound. We try to play an active role in encouraging our clients and other partners to always include green considerations in their businesses and thrusts,” she said.

Borromeo said DBP continues to grow the financial muscle it needs to achieve its development mandate.

“Our purpose and mission remain focused on our development mandate of improving the lives and well being of our countrymen and ensuring that development is broad-based, inclusive and sustainable,” she said.

Following the climate change adaptation program of the government, Borromeo said the agency is helping to make the community resilient as numerous local government units across the country borrowed money to construct evacuation shelters that can withstand very strong winds.

“For the last 70 years experience we know which better. We’re seen LGUs with remarkable projects on climate adaptation from Regions 1 to 13 even at ARMM. We have the capability to help the LGUs. Albay province is one of the best model local government units in the country (LGU) for climate change mitigation and adaptation,” she said. (Rhaydz B. Barcia/PNA)

DBP promotes infra projects in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, July 3 --- The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) is committed to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program aimed to build trillions of pesos worth of public infrastructure projects across the country, a DBP top official said over the weekend.

Cecilia Borromeo, DBP President and Chief Executive, quoting a financial report, said under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, the government intends to boost public spending of about PHP8 to PHP9 trillion to finance various infra project in the country from 2017 to 2022.

She said, “this is the goal of the government, we therefore fully support the administration’s Build program.”

Borromeo said the DBP, being one of the country's premier development financial institution, continues to pursue its mission, to raise the level of competitiveness of the Philippine economy for sustainable growth, to support infrastructure development, efficient social services and protection of the environment, promotes and maintain the highest standards of service and corporate governance among its customer constituencies.

The bank executive led national and local leaders and financial stakeholder in observing DBP’s 70th anniversary by holding a business roadshow on Friday at the Oriental Hotel here.

“For seven decades now, DBP was instrumental in helping the government pursue its infrastructure projects, ” she claimed.

From the ravages of war until today, DBP became a relentless partner of the public and private sectors towards socio-economic change as well as in the Bicol region, she said.

The roadshow also highlighted the government's Infrastructure Contractors Support (ICONS) program of the Department of Finance and is among the top priorities of President Duterte's administration.

Under the Duterte’s Build Program, the infra platform would serve as the country's catalyst for progress, connecting the island, boosting commerce, making industries and uplifting the lives of Filipinos.

Borromeo in her speech said, "Here in the Bicol region, DBP has been working tirelessly with many among you, our development partners, to help build on the gains already being enjoyed by many. We have partnered with various municipalities such as Bulusan, Casiguran and Mercedes, to build farm to market roads, public markets, municipal or barangay buildings and even an evacuation center. “

She said among the local government units the DBP has partnered include, among others, the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur, in developing tourism facilities; and, the electric cooperatives in Camarines Norte and Cam Sur towards improved and more efficient distribution of electricity and lower power rates.

The bank has also provided financial support to the Legazpi City and Casiguran Water Districts, in expanding water service coverage and improve health and sanitation.

Schools provided with financing were the Naga College Foundation, the Oas Community College in Albay and the North Hills College of Asia in Daet.

While for health services, the provincial hospital in CamSur and the Catanduanes Doctors Hospital were assisted by the DBP in providing financing to give more affordable health facilities and services to the public.

Borromeo also said their willingness to rebuild Marawi City, a war-torn city in Mindanao, where billions of public and private infrastructure were destroyed due to the crisis.

"We are prepared to build Marawi City. I think the national government is also at the forefront of rebuilding Marawi. Probably, it will be given for free by the national government to Marawi. If they said they would like to borrow, then, it would be given to them.

"As the country's infrastructure bank expands its branch networks in different parts of the Philippines, DBP will continue to be a major financier of the local government units (provinces, cities and municipalities) who are able to invest in long-gestating and critical development projects through soft loans, build gains to do more for the Bicol region, as well as for economic growth,“ Borromeo added.(Jessaveth B. Barcia/PNA)

Salceda: Completion of Bicol int'l airport needs notice to proceed

LEGAZPI CITY, July 3, (PNA) -- The construction of Bicol International Airport in Daraga town needs a notice to proceed from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) after it was put on hold despite of President Rodrigo R. Duterte's approval, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said.

Salceda said DOTr's non-issuance of notice to proceed for the construction of the P4.8-billion international airport has been delayed again and might not be completed in the next three years target of the government.

“During the budget hearing we will know why it was delayed again because there was a “notice of award” but no “notice to proceed”. The notice of award was issued on March 1,” Salceda said.

President Duterte led the groundbreaking ceremony of the Bicol International Airport on December 2016 where he vowed to finish the construction within three years “without corruption.”

“Somebody from DOTr is answerable for the delay of the construction,” he said. During the groundbreaking ceremony here, Duterte said the completion of the international airport in Bicol will boost the region’s economy and nearby regions as it will bring in more tourists to the countryside and spawn development.

He said the project will increase economic development in the region as the Cebu Pacific management is planning to make Bicol International Airport as hub and staging point for Visayas and Mindanao regions..

The construction of the Bicol International Airport terminal has been delayed for over a decade because of the snail-paced release of funds under the previous administrations.

Last December 8, 2016, Duterte and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade led the groundbreaking ceremony of the P708-million construction of landside facilities project in Barangay Alobo, Daraga.

The construction of landside facilities was awarded to Bicolano Business tycoon Elizaldy S. Co consisting of 17 buildings including for administration, air traffic control, cargo terminal, crash fire rescue, air traffic control, power house, maintenance, material recovery facilities, pump room and water reservoir, chilled water pumphouse, chlorination house 1 and 2, guard houses including the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) quarters.

The scope of work was confined to the airside facility project while that for the structures at the landside area is being worked out.

Since the inception of Bicol International Airport, the government spent at least P1.6 billion for the acquisition of lands and the construction of a 2.1-kilometer runway. The airport is located at Barangay Alobo in Daraga town and lies in a 148-hectare area with a 2,100-meter runway strip. It will be equipped with night landing capability and take-off facilities, control tower, passenger and cargo terminal, car park, fire station, and other modern facilities.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara asked the DOTr to revise the original plan of the Bicol International Airport to make it compliant with international standards.

Under the revised plan, Bichara said the new airport terminal in Albay provides for escalators specifically for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Bichara said the new international airport must accommodate big volume of travelers 50 years from now and beyond as Bicol, specifically Albay, is the region’s hub.

Unfortunately, the implementation of the airport project in Bicol has been overdue for 12 years now. The project is a flagship program of then President now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and was carried on during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III and now by President Rodrigo Duterte. (Rhaydz B. Barcia/PNA)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Andanar holds dialogues with coastal villagers in Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, July 2 (PNA) -- Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday held a dialogue with residents of barangay Puro a coastal village here aimed to open up direct communication lines between the government and the community.

Andanar, speaking to the residents, said he hopes to show that the government is sincere by directly communicating with the people, hearing their concerns and possibly addressing their needs.

"We are here to bring the President’s message to the people, so in my simple way allow me to be your messenger to the President, he said.

Andanar said the dialogue with the community led by village chief Nicasio Barrios Jr. has solicited various concerns ranging from livelihood training, repair, and improvement of the school classroom and other social and health issues.

The dialogue dubbed as "Kumpas Barangay" is a community-based forum organized by the PCOO as a platform to know various needs and concerns evolving in remote villages.

Since the beginning of this year, PCOO has been holding roadshows all over the country to discuss government programs and services to the various sector of the community.

Barangay Puro is a coastal village three kilometers away from the city proper.

“This forum aims to show that the government wants to speak to the people directly,” Andanar added.

Rolando Apin, a Person with Disability (PWD) at the forum sought government assistance by conducting handicraft training through the use of recycled garbage materials.

Andanar in addressing the PWD concern said he would bring this matter to Technical Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Secretary Guiling Mamondiong so that his agency could hold a handicraft training with the use of materials from garbage.

Ma Joy Pinat, a public school principal reported the lack of funds for the repair of the Puro Elementary School classrooms.

Andanar said, " I will personally bring this to Secretary Leonor Briones of the Department of Education (DepEd) so that the fund may be release for the renovation of school buildings, we will be having a cabinet meeting on Monday."

More concerns cropped up at the dialogue these include Napoleon Lopez-Venus representing the Senior Citizens requesting for additional benefits for SC; Antonio Barrameda Sr. a representative from fishermen group asking for a "banka" to be used for fishing.

Andanar visited this coastal village after keynoting the ASEAN 2017 Roadshow held on Friday at the Legazpi City Convention Center. (Connie Destura/PNA)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bicolanos unite to support ASEAN in Roadshow

LEGAZPI CITY, July 1 —- The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) have brought to Legazpi City the “2017 Roadshow on the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)” which is being hosted by the Philippines this year.

DILG-Bicol Elouisa T. Pastor welcomed delegates to the event on Friday which she said was an “impressive display” of the Bicolanos’ unity in support of ASEAN which is celebrating its 50th founding anniversary this year, deemed as a “milestone” celebration for the country.

She said the roadshow hoped to increase awareness among the people on how the Philippines as a member of the ten-nation regional organization can benefit from being part of ASEAN which is deemed as a “Community of Opportunities.”

Pastor added that it aims to help Bicolanos fully understand the impact of ASEAN in their lives, how they could benefit from the political alliances among the member countries and the economic integration of the Philippines into the global economy.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara led the delegates that included municipal mayors from Bicol provinces, regional directors and representatives of national government agencies and presidents of state colleges and universities.

Members of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, DILG directors from the six Bicol provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes, as well as media representatives showed up to lend their support to the event held at the Legazpi City Convention Center.

According to DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing, becoming a part of the ASEAN Economic Community means that the country can have access to the free flow of goods and services among the member-states of the organization.

“Without the ASEAN Economic Community, the market (for the Philippine products) will only be for the 105 million Filipinos,” he said.

Densing cited that ASEAN membership promises access to a market of 617 million people that comprise the population of the ASEAN member states.

The 10 ASEAN member countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

PCCO Secretary Martin Andanar, keynote speaker at the event, said the nationwide information caravan on the ASEAN is being presented by major “troupes” represented by PC00, DILG, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process or OPAPP and “over 100 other government agencies.”

He said ASEAN 2017 presents the “future challenges all of us must face” and how the horizons could be opened for a “prosperous future.”

Bichara cited that Albay is lucky to be chosen as a venue for one of the ASEAN meetings.

ASEAN Executive Director Zaldy Patron, who discussed the topic on the Philippines as host of ASEAN this year, affirmed that the “Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministerial Meeting” will be conducted here in Legazpi City in August.

He announced that August 8 will be the start of the activities for the 50th founding anniversary celebration of ASEAN.

“At 8 a.m. on that day there will be a sailing of around 10 boats at the Manila Bay with each boat carrying a flag of each ASEAN member country,” said Patron.

He said at the same time there will be a simultaneous blowing of horns at stations of the Philippine Coast Guard across the country.

Patron said there will be a “landmark lighting” and ASEAN Day program in selected cities and municipalities in the country on Aug. 8.

“This means coordinated lighting by various local government units at 7 p.m. that day,” he said.

The Philippines is one of the five founding members of ASEAN when it was established in 1967. Its founding fathers are the five foreign ministers who signed the declaration establishing the regional group.

These are Adam Malik of Indonesia, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, Thanat Khoman of Thailand and Narciso R. Ramos of the Philippines.

Patron said a tribute will be given to the founding fathers, who will be represented by their descendants, during the August 8 program at the Philippine International Convention Center. (Gina V. Rodriguez/PNA)

PCOO head conveys Duterte’s 'year of change' message to Legazpi
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, June 30 -- Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar was here on Friday, June 30, which marks the first year in office of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, to convey the Chief Executive's message to the people of Legazpi City on what the government has been doing.

In an interview early Friday morning with Nancy Mediavillo, station manager of “Radyo Pilipinas”-Albay, Andanar said the past year has been one of changes brought about by the programs and reforms the Duterte administration has implemented in its governance, for the benefit of the people.

"We are making visits to bring the President’s message to the people (Tayo ay umiikot para dalhin ang mensahe ng ating Pangulo sa ating mga kababayan),” he said.

Andanar said he has been going around the country because he wants the people to know the administration’s accomplishments in areas such as new investments generated, improvements in the agriculture sector and people’s access to information.

He said his visit to Legazpi coincides with the 2017 roadshow on the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) being jointly sponsored by PCOO and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and which seeks to increase the people’s awareness on the impact of the regional organization on their lives.

Andanar said the Legazpi visit is also an opportunity to visit the agencies under PCOO that include Radyo Pilipinas, Philippine News Agency (PNA) and Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

Radyo Pilipinas is the erstwhile Radyo ng Bayan, the government’s radio arm that has received a facelift at the turn of the new administration while PNA is the official news agency of the government. PIA is the government bureau in charge of disseminating information, “on-ground, from the government to the grassroots level.”

Andanar said the one-year-old administration of President Duterte is comparable to three years because of the many things he was able to achieve.

“Let us include the USD35-billion worth of investments brought home by our President…(and) grants of loans for our country,” he said.

This referred to President Duterte’s visit to other countries and states such as Peru, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Russia which bore fruit in terms of various business deals and opportunities.

He added the President was able to open markets, among them Russia, for the Philippines’ agricultural products.

Andanar noted that the Department of Agriculture has received an allocation of PHP46 billion for research and development; market expansion; agriculture and fisheries support; and for the construction of farm-to-market roads this year.

“Through the ‘rice production enhancement program,’ a budget of PHP9.7 billion for 2017 has been allocated to help the farmers increase their production,” he added.

Andanar also emphasized that 727 hectares of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac have been placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with lots awarded to around 4,000 farm workers.

He said that within a year in office, the President has signed an Executive Order (EO) on Freedom of Information or FOI that covers the entire executive branch.

Andanar said the EO on FOI has made information accessible to the people for as long as it will not cause harm to national security.

Aside from relaying what a “year of change” has looked like, Andanar also emphasized that the government is conducting an information campaign in various provinces in the country so Filipinos from all walks of life could understand what it means for the Philippines to become a member of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Community of 10-member nations.

Andanar was keynote speaker at the information caravan on the ASEAN held at the Legazpi City Convention Center today with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He said the Legazpi leg of the caravan, that has toured five other parts of the country, seeks to increase awareness on the impact of the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN 2017 when the regional organization is also celebrating its 50th year of founding.

The Philippine government’s advocacy to promote unity with and among ASEAN members states and its global partners is anchored on the theme “Partnering for Change Engaging the World” that “envisions a future that is prosperous for all citizens.”

Andanar, in his closing remarks during the interview with Radyo ng Bayan Pilipinas, thanked the public for the continuous support and trust that they have given to the leadership of President Duterte.

He reiterated his hopes for a “progressive Philippines” under the administration of Mr. Duterte. (PNA)

2,000 join BRAD launch at PRO5 headquarters in Legazpi

LEGAZPI CITY, June 29 -— Around 2,000 people joined the launching of the Bicol Region Ayaw sa Droga (BRAD) at the parade grounds of Camp Simeon Ola, headquarters of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) in this city, Thursday.

BRAD is an organization composed of different sectors from the academe, students, religious, business and non-government groups, barangay officials and residents, media, Philippine National Police and other government and law enforcement agencies, who are working together in the information and education campaigns in the communities to curb abuse of the so-called “hard drugs” such as methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and other dangerous substances.

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, PRO5 director, and the Albay Provincial Police Office (PPO) led the event that was attended by various groups including those deemed as “surrenderers” in the anti-illegal drug campaign of the Philippine National Police.

Those who attended BRAD’s launching included citizens and local government officials, including provincial and municipal officials; heads of all Barangay Drug Abuse Councils or BADAC in the region; officials of various government agencies like the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency or PDEA, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA and Departments of Education (DepED) and Health (DOH); Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Air Force.

Buenafe told the participants that the government is winning in its campaign against “hard drugs” such as methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and that there won’t be any let-up in the campaign against the traders and users of hard drugs in Albay and Bicol.

He attributed the decrease in crime incidence in the region to the government’s relentless war against drugs that has helped spur progress in the entire region.

Buenafe cited the thousands of Bicolanos who became members of BRAD, all of whom pledged to help in the government’s fight against the scourge of drug abuse and dissuade their friends and relatives from the “use” and trade of hard drugs.

He said the BRAD members also promised to provide information to police hotlines regarding the “drug personalities” who continue with their illegal operations.

Sr. Supt. Antonino Cirujales, director of the Provincial Police Office of Albay, said they will pursue BRAD’s programs even if a new director of PRO5 takes over after Buenafe reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 on July 10.

“Buenafe’s major legacy is the program to curb the problem of hard drugs, particularly the launching of BRAD in various towns and provinces in Bicol,” said Cirujales.

During BRAD’s launch, major participants to the event signed a memorandum of understanding that they will support all drug surrenderers who will train with TESDA or enroll at the Alternative Learning System for the chance to get gainful jobs and enter the mainstream of society. (Jorge Hallare/PNA)#REALNUMBERS