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Silliman, AusAID to sign accord on Masbate project


Silliman University in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, and the Australian Agency for International Development will formalize their agreement on the project called “Participatory, Evidence-based Research and Learning” partnership this month, led by SU president Ben Malayang III and AusAID counselor Andrew Egan.

The project is aimed at improving the development planning capacity of local government units in Masbate province, a press release from the school said.

The PERL program intends to bring about results to be integrated into local development plans, including the Provincial Development Plan of Masbate, that is classified as a first class province, but has been consistently ranked among the country’s 10 poorest provinces, the press release said.

AusAID will provide the grant to run the project, initially for two years, while the SU School of Public Affairs and Governance will be the lead unit, the press release also said.

Under the PERL, staff and key stakeholders in Masbate can collaborate with experts from the University, for better identification of development opportunities, constraints and interventions, the press release added.*

AusAID, Silliman to ink agreement on Masbate project

by Jennifer C. Tilos

DUMAGUETE CITY, May 7 (PIA) -- Silliman University (SU) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) will sign an agreement on a project that will help improve the development planning capacity of the local government unit of the province of Masbate.

According to Office of Information and Publication director Mark Raygan Garcia of SU, a formal launch of the project “Participatory, Evidence-Based Research and Learning Partnership (PERL) in Masbate Province” is scheduled early this month with Silliman President Dr. Ben Malayang III and AusAID Counselor Andrew Egan.

AusAID will provide the grant to run the project for an initial period of two years. Tapped as lead unit for Silliman is the School of Public Affairs and Governance (SPAG) under its Director, Dr. Reynaldo Rivera, said Garcia.

The project uses the PERL program of which implementation SPAG will design, manage and coordinate.

Garcia said the PERL approach will provide opportunities to the LGU staff and key stakeholders in Masbate to collaborate with partners coming from different areas of specialization in the University. This facilitates better identification of development opportunities, constraints and interventions.

Utilizing consultative and participatory processes, among others, the PERL program is directed at bringing about results that could be integrated into local development plans, including Masbate’s Provincial Development Plan.

Four main components will guide the implementation of the PERL program: Stakeholder Consultation and Participatory Research, Capacity Development and Learning, Communication for Development, and Program Management.

Masbate is classified a first class province but has been consistently ranked as among the country’s ten poorest provinces. (mbcn/JCT/PIA-Negros Oriental)

Mild quakes recorded in Samar, Masbate

by Helen Flores

MANILA, Philippines - A magnitude 3.4 earthquake rocked Eastern Samar yesterday but did not cause damage or injury, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Phivolcs said the tremor occurred at around 11:02 a.m. and was centered 28 kilometers southwest of Can-avid, where it was recorded at Intensity 2.

The quake, which had a depth of one km, was tectonic in origin. Tectonic pertains to the movement of the earth’s crust.

Phivolcs also recorded a magnitude-3.6 quake 21 kms northwest of Masbate City, Masbate at 5:06 a.m. yesterday.

Jail non-commissioned officers refreshers’ course underway

by (MAL/RMCastor-BJMP V)

LEGAZPI CITY, MAY 7 (PIA) -- A refresher course for jail non-commissioned officers (JNCOs) was held simultaneously in provinces of Bicol region today, May 7.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) provincial offices of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate, and Catanduanes have prepared a lineup of activities during the five-day course, covering a review program of basic jail management and operation, policies, and guidelines.

In 2008, the BJMP-RO5 initiated the course, particularly programmed for JNCOs who have administrative cases or who were caught violating jail policies while performing their duties.

The activity gained remarkable reviews from the national headquarters and was replicated by other regional offices nationwide.

This year, however, the refresher course is particularly prearranged for personnel who have not undergone mandatory trainings required for their rank and seminars related to jail management.

In fact, as underscored in a memorandum dated January 31 2012 from the Director for Human Resource and Development, this activity is conducted in its effort to constantly implement the JAILS First Program, which significantly recognizes the need to continually provide training opportunities for its human resource.

Participants will undergo lecture, group dynamics, simulation and practical exercises. A program of instruction will be strictly followed.

Among the subject matters to be discussed are pertinent laws, rules and regulations related to penology, crisis management, transformational leadership, customs, and traditions.

Opportunity Lurks In Odd Places

by Czarina Nicole O. Ong

When Cleopatra Mendoza was first detained at the Masbate City Jail, she did not think that she would make friends and find her niche in life.

She was charged with violation of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and went to jail on April 19, 2009. Cleopatra was only 27 at the time.

During her first week in detention, she was keenly observed for any possible withdrawal symptoms.

Cleopatra slowly progressed, and after a month of being incarcerated, she began showcasing her skills.

She displayed an interest in practical arts, such as Flower-Making made of scrap paper. This was being imple-mented and initiated by the Inmates Welfare Development (IWD) Section of the Masbate City Jail.

Also, she has creatively hand-woven Plastic Straw Bags made from drinking straws.

Aside from that, Cleopatra has another skill, and that is rendering manicure and pedicure service.

On February 11, 2010, she was able to avail of a cash bond and finally put her life on track.

Because of the lessons she learned in jail, Cleopatra now considers herself as somebody who can prove something.

Upon her release, she started an independent manicure and pedicure business, even returning to the Masbate City Jail from time to time, providing the usual services to her suki or regular customers.

At present, she is staying in Manila with her sister, who has set up a beauty parlor, and considers Cleopatra as one of her most trusted and valuable personnel.

Cleopatra learned how to get back on her feet in jail, and for the sake of her two little children, she became determined to set aside her dark past and work towards a better future.

Number of voters in Cebu has fallen since last polls

by Elias O. Baquero and Justin K. Vestil

AS OF last month, the total number of voters in Cebu Province, including Cebu City and the other cities, is 2,274,131.

The number of voters in the province has been falling since the May elections in 2010. That year, the number of voters was 2,430,267. In October the following year, the number dropped to 2,363,711.

Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said the drop is caused by death of voters, cancellation of voter’s registration of those who failed to vote twice, overseas Filipino workers failing to come home or transferring their registration near their workplace abroad, and the transfer of registration to other areas outside Cebu.

The Comelec is strict in removing names of voters who have died. The election officer in a city or municipality is task to go to the local civil registrar and request for the issuance of a certification of the number of people who died and their names, which will be the basis to remove them from the voters’ list, Castillano said.

Registration to rise

He said they cannot remove all the names of voters who have died because some may have died in other provinces where their deaths will be recorded.

For example, if a voter in Cebu who hails from Masbate dies while vacationing in his hometown, his death certificate will be issued only by the local civil registrar in the municipality or city in Masbate, and there will be no record of his death in the local civil registrar in Cebu.

However, Castillano said the Comelec expects the number of voters to go up before the May 13 elections. He said the deadline of the registration of voters is on Oct. 31 yet. There’s also a possibility that those whose names were removed because they failed to vote twice will revalidate their registration.

He said the cleansing of Comelec records will be on Oct. 31, which will coincide with the last day of registration.

Castillano said the Comelec will be conducting off-site registrations that will enable people to register in their barangay.


In a related development, Talisay City Election Officer Corazon Moran urged aspiring political candidates to transfer their registration in the city immediately because they only have 10 days from today, or until May 12, to do so.

More than 100, 000 residents, though, have already registered, as of last March, she said.

Moran told Sun.Star Cebu that she received reports that a number of people are interested in running in next year’s elections like Mariano “Mimo” Osmeña and former vice governor Fernando “Nanding” Celeste.

Osmeña, son of former governor Emilio “Lito” Osmeña, may either run for mayor or for Congress to represent the first district. Celeste will reportedly be his running mate.

As of March, the city had 102,585 voters.

Moran said the turnout during the registration period was good after they conducted off-site registrations in the city’s 22 barangays.

NSO Joins Anti-Child Trafficking Campaign


CEBU CITY — The National Statistics Office (NSO) 7 is further strengthening its campaign against child trafficking by enforcing strict measures in claiming birth certificates, where only parents and legal guardians are allowed to claim a child’s birth record.

NSO 7 public information officer Noel Rafols said the agency is joining the inter-agency campaign against human and child trafficking in the country by strictly implementing the rules in claiming birth certificates.

He said human traffickers used to get birth certificates easily and then apply for a child’s passport and then bring the child abroad for exploitation. Recently, Rafols said they learned that child traffickers were able to traffic children through the backdoor, bring kids to Malaysia.

Rafols said that at the NSO 7 only the owner of the document, parents, spouse, and legal guardians, can request for a child’s birth certificate. NSO 7 also requires photocopies of identification cards as mandated un¬der Presidential Decree 603 or the Child & Youth Welfare Code.

Rafols said NSO officials are hoping that child trafficking cases are lessened with the strict rules being implemented by NSO.

Cebu officials are seriously going after child traffickers in the province, including those using children in cyber pornography and other illegal activities.

Capitol officials recently were poised to file child trafficking charges against a Swedish national arrested for going out with a nine-year-old Masbate girl in a Cebu City port.

Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale met with officials of Masbate province and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to build the province’s case against Conny Lagstrem.

She said the BI officials sent her request for a hold-departure order to their central office and were checking on Lagstrem’s background. The latter has managed to post R320,000 bail after he was arrested and charged with child abuse.

Reporters take over police force

by Davinci S. Maru

WHAT does it take to be a police officer?

For one, an aspirant must be able to endure grueling months of intense training and face a potentially dangerous and demanding career.

But some aspirations are fulfilled without taking the hard route, even only for a day.

“At last, one of my long-time ambitions was realized despite my short stature,” said reporter Chito Aragon in his speech, which drew laughter from the crowd.

Aragon, president of police beat journalists, was among the 22 members of the local tri-media who wore a cop chief’s shoes yesterday.

Clad in blue golf shirts and caps while forming a line, the reporters tried their best to look “snappy.”

Symbolic turnover

During the symbolic turnover on the grounds of Camp Sotero-Cabahug on Gorordo Ave., men and women in uniform from the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) relinquished their posts.

As they handed over miniature flags of their respective units, the activity went down as the first of its kind in the history of the PNP.

CCPO Chief Senior Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe initiated the event dubbed as “Police-Media Interaction Day (Police-Mind)” and saw it as a vehicle for promoting and strengthening the partnership between the two organizations.

“This is to dispel rumors of police irregularities and letting the reporters become familiar with our operations,” he said.

Buenafe, who came from the province of Masbate, nearly failed to grace the activity. He revealed they didn’t catch the last boat trip and had to personally commission a pump boat to arrive on time.

“We battled against the waves for almost six hours. That’s when I realized we are at the mercy of God, but he has been really good,” the city police director said.

Also attending the flag-raising ceremony was Elias Baquero, president of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists, who believes that the event will cultivate a more harmonious relationship between the two organizations.

A command conference was held before reporters, who were assigned to 12 police stations and 12 special operating units, performed their 24-hour duty with the assistance of the police heads.

After their stint, they will conduct an evaluation, and their recommendations will be considered.

The strong points and weaknesses of police practices will be recorded for future reference “as best practices for emulation, or as lapses for immediate improvement.”

IDPA team bags 11 titles in Masbate shooting tilt

by Dale G. Rosal

TEAM Tactical Professionals-Cebu International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) marksmen harvested 11 trophies in the 1st Masbate Unity Shooting Competition held last April 21-22 in Barangay Bacolod, Milagros,Masbate. Franz Pacaldo, Reynan Vidal and his wife Tessie topped the Junior division, Custom defensive pistol and first runner-up in the overall standings in the lady shooter division, respectively. University of Cebu (UC) General Education professor Nelson Aldrich Esguerra capped his campaign with two titles after ruling the stock service pistol-sharpshooter division (ssp-ss) and stock service pistol division (ssp). Esguerra was also awarded the Service Citation trophy by Ltc. Julian Pacatan Jr. of the Philippine Army for also serving the shooting tournament and for his impressive performance in the shootfest. Danilo Larona, UC’s Physics Professor finished second in the safety officers award while Joavanni Pacaldo finished second in the enhanced service firearm class. Francis Flores dominated the enhanced service pistol and the rifle open while Jose Clarin of PNP-7 topped the stock service revolver class. The Province of Masbate, the 9th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police – Masbate Province, Cavaliers’ Gun Club, and the NS Gun Club of Cebu lent their support to ensure the success of te tournament. The event drew 236 shooting enthusiasts, lawmen, and members of the military from Cagayan de Oro, Manila, Sorsogon, Masbate, Camarines, Bicol, Iloilo and Cebu for the two-day competition.

6 convicted for Masbate mayor's slay

by Aie Balagtas See

MANILA, Philippines - Six people, including a former provincial jail warden, were convicted yesterday for conspiring to kill then Masbate City mayor Moises Espinosa Jr. in 2001.

Charlie Quidato, former provincial jail warden; his brother, Isagani, former jail officer; Ramilo Ayque, former jail guard; and inmate Alex Alteza were meted life sentences.

Their co-perpetrators, Dindo Niez and Pio Badaguas, were sentenced to more than 20 years in jail. This will be added to the length of time they will serve in New Bilibid Prison, where they are currently detained for another crime.

In a 58-page decision, Judge Rosalyn Mislos-Loja of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 41 said the denial of all the accused “failed insofar as the testimonies of the witnesses” are to be considered.

Loja denied the alibi of all the accused, saying the identification by witnesses is “worthier than self-serving denial of the accused.”

The judge added that she could not see any ill motive on the part of the prosecution witnesses when they pointed to the six as those who conspired to kill Espinosa.

Espinosa, who only served as mayor for 40 days, was shot dead during a feast in the plaza of Barangay Bantigue, Masbate City at past midnight on Aug. 9, 2001.

“Espinosa initially opted not to grace the coronation rites at the plaza but he changed his mind and proceeded to the place from his office about 8 p.m.,” the court said.

Bantigue is about three kilometers away from the city proper. The court said Espinosa was accompanied by security escort Jose Cortez.

The 45-year-old politician was about to escort a woman out of the dance floor when he was shot. He was rushed to Masbate Comprehensive Hospital but died after three hours.

Warden as organizer

According to witnesses, Charlie organized a team to kill Espinosa. Two people saw Isagani shooting Espinosa with .45 caliber handgun.

According to witness Rolly Ogaya, an inmate of the provincial jail and one of the assassins allegedly hired by the jail warden, Charlie summoned him hours before the attack. Charlie instructed him to dress up “as they were going somewhere else,” the court said.

“When (Ogaya) went back to the office of the warden, he saw the latter, Ayque, Niez, Alteza, and (Alberto) Choy, all equally dressed up and armed with guns. Ogaya was given a shotgun,” said the court.

The court said Charlie laid down the instructions to ensure Espinosa ’s death. He instructed Ayque and Choy to go to the plaza when Espinosa was called to dance.

The shots were timed during the fireworks display. Cortez told the court that he saw the mayor’s bloodied hands while holding his upper right arm.

“At some point, five gunshots were heard and (Charlie) was seen by Ogaya running toward the place, firing shots,” the court said. The gunfight lasted for 20 minutes.

The assassins went back to the warden’s office, where Charlie allegedly asked if Espinosa was dead. Ayque said yes. The next day, Isagani arrived and confirmed Espinosa’s death.

No motive, masterminds

Espinosa’s sister, Maloli, was teary-eyed as the decision was read out loud. “Justice finally! After more than a decade,” she said.

The motive behind Espinosa’s death or who masterminded the crime have yet to be established. “There’s a court of conscience,” Maloli said.

The accused have repeatedly denied involvement in the crime. Charlie’s lawyer, Alex Almario, said they will file an appeal.

Espinosa belonged to one of the political families who ruled Masbate for years. His father, congressman Moises Espinosa Sr., was assassinated at the Masbate airport in 1989.

His uncle, former congressman Tito Espinosa, was killed near the House of Representatives in Quezon City in 1995.

Masbate mayor's slay suspects get life sentence

by Report from Arnell Ozaeta, dzMM

MANILA, Philippines – Four suspects in the murder of Masbate City Mayor Moises Espinosa Jr. and 3 others were sentenced to life imprisonment by a Manila court on Wednesday.

In a 57-page decision, Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 41 Judge Rosalyn Mislos-Loja meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua against Masbate jail warden Charlie Quidato, prison guards Isagani Quidato, Ramilo Ayque and Alex Alteza.

Two other suspects identified as Dindo Niez and Pio Badaguas were sentenced 20 to 40 years imprisonment.

Espinosa and civilians Fidela Marcos, Henry Regalado, and Junicel Cuanan were gunned down last August 9, 2001 in Masbate City while celebrating the town's fiesta.

Espinosa’s father, a former Masbate lawmaker, was also shot dead in 1989.

Volunteerism transforms community

by Cebu Daily News

AROUND 2,000 volunteers braved the heat and worked tirelessly for five days during the recent Bayani Challenge 2012 in Amlan town, Negros Oriental. They built houses, beautified schools and showed how communities could be transformed through selflessness and sacrifice. Smart Communications Inc. helped spread their inspiring stories by providing broadband services during the event. Aside from the Internet connection for the downloading and uploading needs of organizers, Smart also provided free Wi-Fi services for volunteers at the town plaza. This year’s Bayani Challenge was done simultaneously in five provinces, mobilizing 10,000 volunteers. “More than the physical accomplishment, there is that feeling, that sense of solidarity you get from working together with others for the community,” said Gawad Kalinga (GK) executive director Luis Oquiñena, who helped dig a septic tank. Aside from Amlan, the Bayani Challenge 2012 was also done in Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, Masbate and Mindoro Occidental. This is also the first time that event organizers undertook extensive media coverage of the event, said Bryan Gapasin, event head for Negros Oriental. Gapasin said they assigned a team to document the daily work of volunteers in Amlan and their photos, videos and stories were uploaded to the GK website and shared with news outlets.

PNP fears resurgence of private armies

by Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine National Police (PNP) is bracing for the resurgence of private armed groups as next year’s midterm election draws near. In a command conference in Mindanao earlier this week, PNP chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome ordered top police officials to break up new mercenary groups working for politicians planning to run in the 2013 elections. Bartolome also ordered his commanders to renew efforts to reduce the size of private armed groups currently identified. “We expect that there will be new private armed groups and that’s what we’re going to monitor before it can even happen,” he told reporters in Camp Crame on Friday. He said mercenary groups “usually hibernate for several months and when the election period is already there, they become active.” “After the conduct of elections, they disband and become members of criminal groups,” Bartolome said. He said the list of private armed groups and suspected members that was submitted to him by his regional commanders did not match with the reports in the national headquarters. “The number of private armed groups reported by the regions is slightly higher,” he said without elaborating. “Actually the names in the list are the same ones as in the past. Whenever there is a scheduled election they always come up. What I would like them to do is if there are new groups that will come up, that’s what we’re going to watch out for,” Bartolome continued. He said he would keep tab on their progress on a monthly or even weekly basis by checking how many members of private armed groups have been neutralized. “My instruction is not just to report private armed groups and the number of members. I gave some instructions to reduce it. If there are 75 members, after say a month that should be reduced. Some members should be accounted by our security personnel,” Bartolome said. He did not say how many private armed groups there are at present, saying most of them are “seasonal” in nature. He said most are based in Mindanao particularly in Region 10 and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as well as in Abra and Masbate. The national midterm elections are scheduled to be held in May next year. Bartolome also instructed regional commanders especially those detailed at the ARMM, Abra, and Masbate to strictly monitor all known armed groups in these areas and prevent a flare-up of violence in the coming elections.

Mild quakes recorded in Masbate

by Helen Flores, Cet Dematera

MANILA, Philippines - Two mild earthquakes rocked Masbate City yesterday morning but did not cause damage or injury, state seismologists said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the tremors with magnitudes 3.4 and 2.6 occured at 4:12 a.m. and 6:41 a.m., respectively.

Phivolcs said the first tremor was traced three kilometers northwest of Masbate City, where it was recorded at Intensity 3.

The second quake, which was recorded at Intensity 2, was traced 11 kms northeast of Masbate City.

2 quakes jolt Masbate City

by (Sunnex)

TWO earthquakes rocked Masbate City early morning Thursday.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recorded the first quake at 4:12 a.m. at magnitude 3.4. Its epicenter was located at three kilometers northwest of Masbate City.

The quake, which was tectonic in origin, was felt at Intensity 3 in Masbate City.

The first quake was followed by a 2.6-magnitude quake at 6:41 a.m. Its epicenter was traced at 11 kilometers northeast of Masbate City.

Tectonic in origin, the second quake was felt at Intensity 2 in Masbate City.

No damages and aftershocks were reported from both tremors, Phivolcs reported.

Masbate City is a third-class city in the province of Masbate in the Bicol region.

Crime suspect slain in shootout

by Alfred Dalizon

MASBATE policemen on Monday clashed with members of a heavily-armed organized criminal syndicate in Balud, Masbate killing one suspect and arresting two others.

Police Regional Office 5 director Chief Supt. Jose Arne delos Santos said Renier Sioco was killed in an encounter in Sitio Bino-an, Barangay Palani, Balud town.

Two other suspects identified as Mark Blancaflor and Catherine Sioco were colared shortly after the firefight.

Blancaflor was wounded in the exchange of fire and was brought to the hospital for treatment under heavy police guard.

Glimpse of a cowboy's life in Masbate

by Sophia Erasmo

MASBATE, Philippines – After taking a beating with the grueling fast-paced city life, it's a refreshing change for a busy-bee like me to move away from the city and hopped into a distant island for some respite.

The island of Masbate, which is known as the cattle capital in the Philippines, took my breath away as vast of rolling hills and thousands of acres of grazing land welcome me.

I did not understand and appreciate the life of rancher until I spoke to the man who was responsible for putting up the Rodeo festival in Masbate.

Coming from a long line of cattle ranchers, the family of Jerry Aguilar is a living proof that the life of a full time cowboy is happy, busy and a blessing.

Jerry said his family and cattle ranching comprised their entire being.

“All the kids are involved in one way or another. We get everyone together to help pen the cattle and the brand all of them,” he said.

“There’s also the necessary and sometimes difficult task of rounding up the cattle, vaccinating them, and making sure they’re all healthy. Then there's constant maintenance of fences, tractors, trucks, and farm equipment. Keeping it all running smoothly is no small feat,” he added.

Taking pride in producing a unique cross-bred Brahman-Brangus cattle, Aguilar’s Jadeco Farm is a 400-hectare breeding and fattening farm situated in Brgy. Tawad, Milagros town here.

The cattle are confined to its feeding area so it uses less energy and gains weight quickly. They are fed a diet of cogon grass, rice bran and silage.

Silage is usually made from grass crops, including corn (maize), sorghum or other cereals, using the entire green plant.

This saves the cattle raiser money he would have spent for feeds.

The animals are less prone to diseases and parasites since they are confined and fattening periods is short. It takes only 120 to 180 days to fatten the cattle of feeder stocks for the market.

"Cattle ranching is no simple task, nor it is for the simple minded. Some days are diamonds, others are stones. A cowboy has to be half veterinarian, half feed man, half babysitter, and all that kind of stuff," he noted.

My sons ran over here a few days and nights to help me out,” admitted Jerry.

One of the founder and previous president of Rodeo Masbateno, Inc., Jerry is now the Masbate Provincial Administrator.

Even though some Masbate ranchers have other sources of income, there are still many who chose the cowboy’s way of life.

“There are still a lot of people just like us — they’re out there working the cattle, and that’s the way they live,” he added.

“We love it and wouldn’t trade this life for anything.”

Phl may export rice by 2013

by Michael Punongbayan

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines may start exporting rice to other Asian countries in the first quarter of 2013 if no major calamities hit the country, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said yesterday.

Alcala made the statement after National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Antonio Nangel inspected irrigation systems under construction and agriculture rehabilitation projects in five provinces.

In a meeting with farmers in Masbate, Alcala said the country should no longer import rice from its Southeast Asian neighbors but instead depend solely on its palay production.

“Our rice importation era will end next year since our palay production will be enough for our consumption and reserves starting next year,” he said.

Alcala attributed the good news to new technologies imparted to farmers, better post-harvest facilities, and a progressive irrigation system.

Nangel, for his part, said the NIA is working round-the-clock to meet the deadline for the country’s rice sufficiency through bountiful palay harvest by 2013.

He said the construction of new irrigation systems in the countryside and the rehabilitation of dilapidated and old irrigation canals are the results of bounty harvests this year.

He said that before the Aquino administration, there were only 1.5 million hectares of irrigated land in the country.

“We need at least 1.8 million hectares of irrigated farms to be able to produce enough palay so that our country will be rice-sufficient,” Nagel said.

“By next year, we will surpass that 1.8 million hectares of irrigated lands. Thanks to President Aquino for prioritizing our agricultural sector and to Secretary Alcala for his rice sufficiency program,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it will allocate some P50 million yearly for water irrigation in upland communities.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the move is in support of the project being spearheaded by Earth Day Network Philippines Inc. (EDNPI).

“The undertaking, which will also be supported by the departments of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform under the convergence program, promotes upgrading of the capture of water in the upland. It is better to catch water in the upland as a resource because if you pay attention to it once it has flowed down, that is flooding already,” he said.

It is envisioned that some 22 million cubic meters of water per year or one cubic meter daily will be supplied to target communities.

EDNPI executive director Voltaire Perez said the project, which entails installation of 100 hydraulic ram pumps by 2013, targets to improve the irrigation capacity of communities. - With Rhodina Villanueva

Bountiful harvests, rice export seen next year


AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso Alcala said Sunday the country may start exporting rice to other Asian countries by the first quarter of next year if no major calamities occur in the country. Alcala said this after he and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Antonio Nangel inspected irrigation constructions and agriculture rehabilitation work in five provinces last week.

“We are working round-the-clock now to meet the deadline for the country’s rice sufficiency through bountiful palay harvest by 2013,” Nangel said.

In a meeting with farmers in Masbate, Alcala said the country should no longer import rice from its Southeast Asian neighbors but instead depend solely on their palay productions.

“Our rice importation era will end next year since our palay production will be enough for our consumption and reserves starting next year,” he said.

He attributed this to new technologies imparted to farmers, better post-harvest facilities, and progressive irrigation system.

Meanwhile, Nangel said the construction of new irrigation systems in the countryside and the rehabilitation of dilapidated and old irrigation canals are the results of bounty harvests this year.

He said that before the Aquino administration, there were only 1.5 million hectares of irrigated land in the country. “We need at least 1.8 million hectares of irrigated farms to be able to produce enough palay so that our country will be rice sufficient.”

Cebu, Masbate sign sisterhood deal

by (PNA)


CEBU CITY, April 14 (PNA) – Cebu and Masbate have signed a sisterhood agreement, opening commerce and trade between the two provinces. Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia and Masbate Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete signed the agreement to develop joint projects for business, investments and commerce, culture, tourism, human resource improvement, education, science and technology, environment and other areas. Mayor Joshur Judd Lanete of Placer, Masbate, who is the Masbate governor’s son, said trade has been going on between the two provinces even before the signing. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) only serves to formalize and strengthen the tie-up, he said. He said they have been supplying livestock to Cebu’s abattoirs and meat to supermarkets. Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuazon, who witnessed the signing last Tuesday, welcomed the sisterhood agreement, saying Cebu can provide benefits to Masbate Province, whose population is 850,000. Masbate City has 92,000 residents. Cebu has a direct link to Masbate in the Bicol region through the roll-on roll-off (Roro) ports in Polambato, Bogo City in northern Cebu and Cataingan, Masbate.

3 wanted Bicol rape suspects fall

by People's Tonight

THREE wanted rape suspects were arrested by the police in separate operations in the Bicol region last Black Saturday and Easter Sunday, Police Regional Office 5 director, Chief Supt. Jose Arne de los Santos said yesterday.

De los Santos identified the suspects as Renato Reyes, 38, the most wanted person in Ragay, Camarines Sur; Rodrigo Andales, 64, tagged as the second most wanted man in Uson, Masbate; and Rey Bacla-an alias Reynante Amistoso, 42, the third most wanted in Balud, Masbate.

Reyes was arrested by members of the Ragay Municipal Police Station in an operation in Sitio Katagbakan in Bgy. Samay, Ragay municipality 5:30 a.m. last Saturday.

Reyes, a resident of Bgy. Mandawa, also in Ragay, is the subject of a warrant of arrest for rape with no bail recommended issued by Judge Cecilia Borja-Boncodin of the Libmanan, Camarines Sur Regional Trial Court Branch 29.

Also last Saturday, members of the Uson Municipal Police Station arrested Andales during a raid in Bgy. Buenavista. A warrant for the arrest of the suspect with no bail recommended was issued by Judge Arturo Clemente Revil of the Masbate City RTC Branch 48.

On Sunday, agents of the Balud Municipal Police Station and the Masbate Provincial Public Safety Company arrested Bacla-an in an operation in Bgy. Panubigan.

Gun ban in Masbate City

by Aaron B. Recuenco

For six straight days, it would be a virtual gunless society in Masbate City.

But Director General Nicanor Bartolome, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the gun ban policy he had approved does not cover policemen, soldiers, other law enforcement agency members and even on-duty security guards.

“Only civilians who were issued with Permits to Carry Firearms Outside of Residences (PCTFOR) are covered, the suspension of gun-carrying privileges in Masbate City is in view of the celebration of Rodeo Masbateno festival,” said Bartolome.

He said his PTCFOR suspension has already started on April 9 and will be lifted on Saturday.

“This is to ensure the peaceful and orderly celebration of the Rodeo Masbateño Festival and to keep it free from any firearms-related incident,” said Bartolome.

Cebu, Masbate sign joint deal

by Oscar C. Pineda

CEBU and Masbate signed a sisterhood agreement Tuesday, opening commerce and trade between the two provinces.

The signing starts the partnership between Masbate as the food producer and Cebu as the food processor, an agriculture official said.

The town mayor of Placer, Masbate, Joshur Judd Lanete, who is the governor’s son, said trade has been going on between the two provinces even before the signing.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) only serves to formalize and strengthen the tie-up, he said.

He said they have been supplying livestock to Cebu’s abattoirs and meat to supermarkets.

Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuazon, who witnessed the signing, welcomed the sisterhood agreement, saying Cebu can provide benefits to Masbate Province, whose population is 850,000. Masbate City has 92,000 residents.

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and Masbate Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete signed the agreement to develop joint projects for business, investments and commerce, culture, tourism, human resource improvement, education, science and technology, environment and other areas.

Masbate hosted the Rodeo Masbateño 2012, an annual rodeo event participated by student and professional cattle handlers in the country. The event featured cattle wrestling and lassoing.

Present in the event was Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, and congressmen from the Bicol region.

Garcia said that Cebu, with its inhospitable agricultural lands, needs Masbate’s products, such as copra, cassava and cattle.

“Tabangan ta sila (Masbate) mo-uswag og molambo. Tabangan ta ang ilang turismo (let us help them develop and grow, and promote tourism),” Garcia said in her speech.

Alcala said Cebu is always short of food supply due to its increasing population and that its new sister-province can help address this concern through the partnership.

Cebu has a direct link to Masbate in the Bicol region through the roll-on roll-off (Roro) ports in Polambato, Bogo City and Cataingan, Masbate, said Garcia.

Roro ships travel the Visayan Seas, which four governors have vowed to protect: Governors Lanete, Garcia, Alfredo Maranon of Negros Oriental and Arthur Defensor Sr. of Iloilo.

Judge Manuel Sese, president of Rodeo Masbateño Inc., and who owns a cattle ranch, has been a beneficiary of the trade relations between the Cebu and Masbate.

He said last year, he was able to sell 52 heads of 10- to 12-month-old cattle to Cebu.

Sese said Cebu will enroll his Rodeo Masbateño Inc. in the federation of horse breeders, through the Cebu Equine Owners, Breeders and Sportsmen Association (Ceobsa).

Ceobsa has been supporting Capitol’s annual horse festival.

Garcia was accompanied by Cebu Provincial Board Members Peter John Calderon and Wilfredo Caminero, along with Mayors Daday Celis (Boljoon), Emelita Guisadio (Alegria) and Butch Sepulveda (Borbon).

Masbate rodeo organizers hopeful to set horse record in Asia

by Ernesto A. Delgado

MASBATE CITY, April 10 (PIA) -- It is Masbate’s turn to catch the world’s attention as it brings hundreds of horses to parade in its streets to its biggest horse parade on April 9 -14 when ranchers and cowboys stage the Rodeo Festival 2012.

With mounted men and women, up to 500 horses will be trotting the major streets of Masbate City on opening day.

Organizers hope the feat would beat the biggest horse parade ever presented in modern Asia. Last year’s rodeo here paraded just about 80 horses but spectators said the unusual sight was already so enthralling that it drew a deluge of accolades in social networking sites.

The parade will also feature street dancers in colorful barn costumes.

At least 10,000 people are expected to descend on the city starting today, said Masbate Regional Trial Court Judge Manuel L. Sese, head of the organizers, from Rodeo Masbateño Inc., a non-government organization leading the daunting task of drawing together the huge number of horses and riders.

Rodeo conjures up images of cowboys in the bygone era of the Wild West.

Sese said 40 teams will saddle up to the corrals to outdo each other in the national finals of various rodeo events such as bull wrestling, lassoing, casting down, load carrying, and whip cracking. (MAL/EAD-PIA 5, Masbate)

Weeklong gun ban in Masbate starts Monday

by Jonas Cabiles Soltes

Inquirer Southern Luzon

Starting Monday, only soldiers and law enforcers will be allowed to carry firearms in the island-province of Masbate. Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome, in a memorandum on Saturday, ordered the suspension of gun-carrying privileges in Masbate from April 9 to 14, when the annual Rodeo Masbateño Festival is celebrated in the province as a tribute to its cattle industry. He said that due to the event “all permits to carry firearms outside of residence are hereby temporarily suspended for six days in Masbate.” Bartolome ordered all police chiefs to ensure the peaceful and orderly celebration of the festival and to keep it free from any firearm-related incident and safe for spectators, tourists and important visiting personalities. During the week, only members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, PNP and other law enforcement agencies who perform official duties and “in agency-prescribed uniforms” would be allowed to carry firearms in Masbate. “No exemptions should be granted,” the PNP chief said. The firearms prohibition will be implemented through checkpoint operations, beat patrol and other police security operations in close coordination with the AFP, other law enforcement agencies, government agencies and local government units. The high incidence of killings in Masbate had been blamed for the proliferation of unlicensed firearms.

Rector was once an ‘Hospicio boy’

by Josephine Darang

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Today being Easter Sunday, I will share an Easter story. Easter brings hope and happy endings, and certainly this story lifts the human spirit. It tells of how a mother left her children in the care of the nuns because she couldn’t do it on her own, being an orphan herself. And so it was that when Rev. Fr. Victoriano Comia Torres, CM, told me that he was an alumna of the Hospicio de San Jose, I just stared at him. He is now rector and parish priest of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Posadas Village. F.ather Vic was at the Hospicio de San Jose last March 19 to concelebrate with Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani the 6 p.m. Mass. March 19 was the feast day of St. Joseph. As we waited for the processional of the Mass to begin, Father Vic related how he was brought to the Hospicio when he was nine, while his six sisters (there were seven of them) were admitted at the Asilo de San Vicente de Paul. His mother, Amparo Comia Torres, was an orphan and had no relatives to leave them with. Father Vic calls himself an “Hospicio boy.” Hospicio de San Jose is the home for abandoned children and the elderly, those without families and are left to live in the streets. It is also the boarding house of the wealthy elderly, left by their families for their own reasons. Fr. Vic Torres’ story Father Vic, now a Vincentian priest for 37 years, says: “It was summer of 1957 when I was brought to Hospicio de San Jose. I was nine then. Having been born and raised in a farm in Malvar, Batangas, I was actually excited to leave for Manila. To this day, I am still in touch with my Hospicio friends and manage to see them whenever my schedule allows. “After finishing elementary school at Hospicio, I felt so privileged to have been sent by the nuns to Don Bosco in Mandaluyong for high school. Everyday I had to wake up early, have breakfast after Mass, and take a ride to school. I remember being given 30 centavos for my round-trip fare plus a packed lunch everyday. “At Don Bosco, I was enrolled in a class in electro-mechanics. I loved ice cream very much. But I had no extra money. One day, to quell my desire for ice cream, I used the remaining 15 centavos for my fare back to Hospicio. That day, I had to walk back home from Don Bosco Mandaluyong. With my little feet, it took me more than an hour to get back to Hospicio. The call to the priesthood “The sisters were like mothers who took good care of me and my needs. I do not know what they saw in me, but I was often asked by them if I wanted to enter the seminary. At that very early age, I did not understand much what it meant, although I was interested to try. “One Holy Week, we were brought to St. Vincent de Paul Church in San Marcelino for Masses. It was the St. Vincent seminarians who sang in the choir. Seeing them in their attractive suits singing with heavenly voices really fascinated me. It fanned my interest to enter the seminary. The sisters were overjoyed when I finally told them I wanted to enter the seminary. “My stay at Hospicio was only five years, but my ties to them grew deeper because I had considered it my home. I always went back to Hospicio on my vacations from the seminary and, of course, it was the sisters there who provided for all my needs. When I was accepted in the seminary, it was cause of joy for both the sisters and my family. Consecrated to St. Joseph “After ordination on March 9, 1975, I had my first Mass at Hospicio de San Jose. The sisters’ care, encouragement and prayers were a constant source of inspiration and support through my years of formation and even today in my priestly ministry. But more important, I believed that at an early age, the training I got at Hospicio shaped my core values of love and service for the less fortunate, which comprise the heart of the Vincentian missionary. My mother once told me that she consecrated me to St. Joseph because I was born on March 6. St. Joseph has always been my protector, and Hospicio de San Jose will always be home for me.” Easter at ‘Mental Hospital’ Things have changed at the “Mental Hospital.” Fr. Greg Esquillo, the chaplain, saw to it that the patients and their relatives observed the Holy Week, including the “washing of the feet of the apostles” and the procession to put the Eucharist in the “altar of repose” inside the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Chapel. And there was even a “salubong” this morning with the help of Barangay Mauway officials. Masses today, Easter Sunday, are at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Dr. Bernardino Vicente is director of The National Center of Mental Health (“Mental Hospital”). Located on 9 de Febrero, the center has Masses Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m., for patients and their relatives; and 12 noon, for employees. Father Greg is known in Mobo, Masbate (where he is from), as Padre Tanoy (named after his Lolo Tanoy). He was ordained with Fr. Emerito Castillo on Oct. 17, l998, by then Masbate Bishop Joel Baylon at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Mobo. Both priests finished their Theology studies at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Naga. A kidney donor for Merk Readers have been helping 22-year-old Merk Esquillo, nephew of Father Greg, with his regular dialysis. The good news is that Merk’s younger brother, Gerald James Esquillo, a former seminarian, has offered to donate his kidney to his brother. Final medical tests will be done at National Kidney Institute on April 13. Let us pray that their kidneys match and that there will be money for the procedure. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Those who want to help can text Myra Esquillo at 0929-6962071. Thank you for your kindness. 2,000 Rosaries The Our Lady of Medjugorje Prayer Group, in Queen’s Row in Bacoor, Cavite, will pray the 2000 Rosaries on April 14, 8 a.m., at the Mt. Carmel Chapel in Camella North Springville in Bacoor, Cavite. For details, please text Letty Zapanta at 0918-5047810. Happy Easter to all!

PH airlines' bid for fuel surcharge hike okayed

by Louella D. Desiderio, The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has given four local carriers and 10 international airlines the greenlight to raise the fuel surcharge collected from passengers given higher fuel prices.

Ma. Elben Moro, chief of the hearing examiners division at the CAB told reporters yesterday that the regulator has approved the petitions filed by local carriers Philippine Airlines (PAL), Airphil Express, Zest Airways and Cebu Pacific, and ten international airlines to hike the fuel surcharge of their flights.

“The increase in fuel surcharge is because of the fact that fuel in the world market has risen,” she said.

With CAB granting the request to hike the fuel surcharge, PAL will start charging passengers a higher $300 from a previous fee of P$200 for flights from Manila to Canada or the USA except Honolulu, while those in flights from Manila to Honolulu will have to pay a higher $250 from a previous fee of $155.

Passengers of PAL flights from to Manila to Australia meanwhile, will pay a fuel surcharge of $200, up from $150.

PAL will be collecting a higher fuel surcharge of $100 from a previous fee of $85 for those going to Indonesia from Manila.

Passengers who are going to Japan or Beijing will pay $100 instead of the previous $75 being charged.

As for passengers of PAL flights from Manila going to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Korea, they will have to pay $80 for fuel surcharge, from a previous fee of $75.

Those headed to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan via PAL flights will be paying a higher $55 instead of $45.

Given the CAB’s approval of Airphil Express’ petition, the fuel surcharge of its flights from Clark and Manila to destinations in Luzon will increase to P300 from a previous fee of P250, while the fee for flights from Luzon to Visayas, will rise to P400 from a previous fee of P300.

Airphil will also be applying a higher fuel surcharge of P500 from a previous fee of P400 for flights from Luzon to Mindanao.

For flights within Visayas and within the Mindanao region, Airphil will be raising the fuel surcharge to P300 from P250.

Passengers of Zest Airways’ flights from Manila to Legaspi, Marinduque, Masbate, San Jose, Tablas, Virac, or Busuanga will see the fuel surcharge rise to P350 from P250.

As for those going to Puerto Princesa, Bacolod, Calbayog, Catarman, Cebu, Iloilo, Kalibo, Tacloban or Tagbilaran.



LEGAZPI CITY: Two provinces in Bicol—Masbate and Camarines Sur – were listed as the two provinces with the highest poverty prevalence across the region. Rose Buan, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) public information officer told The Manila Times. Masbate had the highest incidence of poor families at 42.5 percent followed by Camarines Sur at 38.7 percent based on the data of Bicol Regional Development Plan 2011-2016 of the NEDA regional office. According to a 2007 population census of National Statistics Office, there are 5.1 million Bicolanos. Out of this population, at least 2.4 million individuals or 385,338 families in Bicol live below the annual capita poverty threshold of P17,146.00, Buan cited.

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