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List of Municipalities in the Albay Province within Region V(Bicol) in the Republic of The Philippines
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Cities in the province of Albay: Legazpi City (Capital) | City Of Ligao | City Of Tabaco

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List of the 17 Regions in the Philippines
National - Capital Region I - Ilocos II - Cagayan III - C. Luzon IV-A - Calabarzon IV-B - Mimaropa V - Bicol VI - W. Visayas VII - C. Visayas VIII - E. Visayas IX - Zamboanga X - N. Mindanao XI - Davao XII - Soccsksargen XIII - Caraga XIV - CAR XV - BARMM

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Province of Albay - Archived News

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Seal of the Province of Albay
Interactive Google Satellite Map of the Province of Albay
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Location of Albay within the Philippines
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Provincial Capitol Building of Albay, in Legazpi City
Herbal remedies for diabetes.JPG
How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
Vitamin C 220 mg Oranges: 30 mg
Calcium 440 mg Cow's milk: 120 mg
Potassium 259 mg Bananas: 88 mg
Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm
Mayon volcano albay province.jpg

Wars of ancient history were about territory, power, family or lover's quarrel, politics and sometimes religion.

But we are in the Modern era and supposedly more educated and enlightened .

Think about this. Don't just brush off these questions.

  • Why is RELIGION still involved in WARS? Isn't religion supposed to be about PEACE?
  • Ask yourself; What religion is always involved in wars and consistently causing WARS, yet insists that it's a religion of peace?


Salceda pushes fiscal, structural reforms for 'A' credit rating

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Unless Congress amends the 83-year-old Public Service Act and introduce fiscal and structural reforms, it would be hard for the country to get a class “A” credit rating and be competitive in the global market, a Bicol solon said on Monday.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, House Ways and Means Committee chair, said President Rodrigo Duterte is determined to secure an “A” credit rating for the country by leveling up the fiscal reform momentum and priority legislations, which are designed to make the Philippines more competitive.

He said amending the old Public Service Act by putting up structural and fiscal reforms would secure the country an “A” credit rating.

He explained that the needed structural reforms would be in the form of infrastructures, faster internet, lower power costs, ease in doing business and tax reforms, which would make the country competitive in the global market.

“Getting an ‘A’ credit upgrade means lower interest expenses and lower risk premium for investing or lending to the Philippines, its government and its enterprises. A competitive Philippines means comfortable life for all and a better future for the next generation,” he explained.

Recent fiscal reforms have led to a credit rating upgrade from the agency Standard and Poor -- BBB+ from BBB, showing a strong vote of confidence to Duterte’s reform agenda.

Salceda, in an e-mailed statement to the Philippine News Agency, said TRAIN 2 or the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities (Trabaho) Bill, now called Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act or CITIRA, which is a certified priority legislation, will pass renewed scrutiny even if it reduces revenues and has a fiscal impact of negative five (on a scale of 1 to 10), but bears a positive structural impact of 10.

CITIRA, which was originally crafted by Salceda as a tax incentive for business, aims to reduce the corporate income tax from 30 percent to 20 percent by 2029, or 2 percent every two years.

He said the bill, once passed into law, could generate 1.4 million jobs within the same period.

He said passing CITIRA, the second package of the government’s comprehensive tax reform program, is meant to transfer the dynamism of the economy back to the private sector and make the country competitive with the rest of the world.

While it lowers the corporate income tax rate, it also modernizes the incentive system by granting superior incentives to companies who create quality jobs, train their people, invest in research and technology, and invest in less developed areas or places recovering from calamity or armed conflict, and urges the private sector to contribute to the future of the next generation of Filipinos.

“It’s all about love of country. You must learn to contribute and share for the sake of the next generation ... that’s how simple [TRAIN] package 2 is,” he said.

Salceda stressed that through the active partnership between Congress and the country’s economic managers, the country can take the truly needed economic direction to further boost investment and fetch an ‘A’ credit rating for the country in two years.

The success of teamwork in the Duterte administration could be summed up in two indicators: high growth rate of 6.2 percent in 2018 and falling poverty rate from 27.6 percent in the first half of 2015 to 21 percent in the first half of 2018, lifting six million Filipinos out of poverty, said Salceda, a noted economist.

COA reminds LGUs on usage of calamity funds

By Casandra E. Balala (PIA-5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) — The Commission on Audit (COA) in Bicol reminded the local government units (LGUs) to use their Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Funds (LDRRMF) in accordance with their LDRRM plans.

State auditor Mario Aguilar disclosed that some LGUs have no integrated and comprehensive LDRRM plan, something which affects the utilization of LDRRMF.

Under Section 21 of RA 10121, the LDRRM Council shall monitor and evaluate the use and disbursement of the LDRRMF based on the LDRRM plan as incorporated in the local development plans.

The law also says that the LDRRMF, formerly known as calamity fund, should not be less than five percent of the estimated revenue from the regular sources of LGUs.

This fund will support the LDRRM activities including pre-disaster preparedness, trainings, purchasing of life-saving rescue equipment, supplies and medicines, post-disaster activities, payment of premiums on calamity insurance and others.

On the appropriated LDRRMF, Aguilar explained that 30 percent should be allocated as the Quick Response Fund or the stand-by fund for the relief and recovery programs intended to the communities stricken by the calamity.

The 70 percent will be allotted for the disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and rehabilitation and recovery.

It can also be utilized to procure early warning systems, preparedness equipment and other equipage for floods, earthquake, landslides, volcanic eruptions and other natural or man-made calamities.

Aguilar emphasized that to make an efficient disaster preparedness, LGUs should have a functioning LDRRM Council, permanent LDRRM officer and comprehensive LDRRM plan.

Aguilar also reiterated the lifting of their state of calamity declaration since some LGUs also forgot to make a resolution lifting the declaration in their area.

Vintage bomb found in Albay

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Villagers found an unexploded World War II bomb on the bank of the Yawa River in Barangay Binitayan, Daraga town in Albay province on Thursday, a town police official said.

Lt. Col. Rodelon Betita, Daraga police chief, said villagers immediately reported the bomb to the police station, prompting the police desk officer to request the Philippine National Police’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit in Camp Ola to check it.

Betita, in a phone interview, said the explosive was a 1,000-pound General Purpose bomb, which measured 124 cm. in length and 40 cm. in width. It was used during the Second World War.

He said these were dropped during the war by either American or Japanese bomber planes.

The EOD personnel used an excavator to remove the corroded vintage bomb at 11 a.m. and brought it to the police’s storage facility here.

DOH invites lactating moms to 'Hakab na Bicol 2019'

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Health (DOH)-Bicol is inviting breastfeeding mothers, along with their babies, to attend the "Hakab na Bicol 2019", which aims to help educate all women of child-bearing age on the importance of giving breast milk only to infants until six months of age.

Dr. Rita Mae Ang-Bon, DOH-Bicol Family Cluster head, said in a phone interview on Wednesday that at least 200 mothers, babies, other family members and breastfeeding advocates from different towns and municipalities in Albay are expected to attend the event slated August 10 at the Ayala Mall here.

"Aside from breastfeeding, we will have a cooking demo on how we can provide local, nutritious foods for our babies, and re-lactation or lactation massage to help increase the milk supply of a mother," she added.

The event includes various activities such as a mini-discussion on policies regarding mothers breastfeeding in the office, "Zumba for Mommies and Babies" and the highlight, which will be the simultaneous breastfeeding by mothers.

Special prizes await mothers who can bring a Bakuna Card (for Fully Immunized Child); Expanded Newborn Screening result and Newborn Hearing Screening result.

"Hakab Na!" is the biggest simultaneous breastfeeding event spearheaded by the DOH, which is being held annually all over the Philippines to celebrate the World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in August.

This year's theme is “Lakas ng magulang, sigla ng pagpapasuso-kalusugan, nutrisyon at kinabukasan ng kabataan”. (PNA)

Workers get over P10-M settlement from defunct hospital in Bicol

By Ernesto A. Delgado and Johana Vi Gasga (PIA5/DOLE5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) — Better days lie ahead for 100 former workers of a hospital that went out of business in 2017 with their defunct employer committing to pay the remainder of their back wages and separation benefits amounting to more than P10.9 million.

The workers reached the settlement with Sto. Niño Hospital in Daet, Camarines Norte after the intervention of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which stepped in when the privately-run hospital shut down on September 3, 2017 due to financial trouble.

“I am thankful to DOLE for facilitating the settlement,” said midwife Edna Zamudio, who had been with the hospital since it started operation in 1978.

“We have been given what was due us in return for our loyalty and service to the company for a very long time,” she said of the settlement which consists of P10,903,082.69 cash.

Zamudio stood to receive the highest package amounting to P467,548.

Johana Vi Gasga, DOLE regional information officer, said the settlement agreement requires Sto. Niño Hospital to pay its displaced workers back wages and separation benefits in five installments.

Gasga said the first three tranches were given to the workers on December 16, 2017; April 30, 2018; and June 13, 2019.

For the remaining tranches, the hospital issued postdated checks which will become due on December 13, 2019 and June 13, 2020, she added.

Lawyer Alvin Villamor, DOLE director for Bicol, said his office dispatched a mediation team after the displaced workers sought their assistance in securing their separation pay.

Villamor said he activated the agency’s quick-response team to evaluate the hospital’s compliance with labor laws to protect the workers’ right to benefits once displaced from their jobs.

“This is a collaborative effort—not only of the office. We commend the employer for assuming obligation and not abandoning the workers who had served them all through good and bad times,” he said.

Lawyer Joan Noya-Nidua, who mediated the agreement, said the settlement was an instance, in which the balancing of the workers’ rights and the management’s cause were taken into consideration.

“With such huge amount involved, extracting its fulfillment in the shortest time possible is a challenge the office has hurdled to ensure that the workers’ rightful claims will be given to them,” Nidua said.

BJMP-5 pleads for public acceptance of former PDLs


LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) — The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Bicol urged the public to prevent discrimination and isolation towards former Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) as they go back to the community.

BJMP-5 Jail Senior Inspector (JSI) Joseph Lucila said that PDLs have capacities and opportunities for change through the bureaus humane safekeeping and development programs.

It was during his interview on the Uganayan sa Bikol Radio Program of Philippine Information Agency Region 5 aired at DWZR 828 Khz, Zoom Radio as part of the Police-Community Relations Month Celebration Forum on Air.

JSI Lucila said that the five pillars of the Criminal Justice System include law enforcement, prosecution, the court, BJMP and the community.

“However, if there’s a crime, the four were active except the community. It is a sad reality,” he explained.

He also referred to the people’s mindset that former PDLs are unacceptable to the society, something which hinders former PDLs from contributing and participating in the nation building.

He added that in order to enhance public safety, former PDLs should be allowed to become productive and law-abiding citizens in their integration to the society.

BJMP is mandated to take operational and administrative control over all city, district and municipal jails to address the concern of jail management and penology problems.

They provide systematic way of activities and institutionalized programs for the PDLs such as livelihood projects, educational and vocational trainings, recreation and sports, and religious or spiritual activities.

As part of the BJMP’s decongestion program, JSI Lucila said they apply RA 10592, which grant time deductions to good-behaving prisoners, either undergoing preventive imprisonment or serving sentence, depending on the time served in prison.

RA 10592 provides that in the first two years of imprisonment, a prisoner is entitled to a deduction of 20 days from his or her jail term for each month of good behavior. This is raised to 23 days on the third to fifth year, 25 days on the sixth to 10th year and 30 days on the 11th year and succeeding years of imprisonment.

“At any time during the period of imprisonment, he shall be allowed another deduction of 15 days, in addition to numbers one to four hereof, for each month of study, teaching or mentoring service time rendered,” the law says.

The BJMP recorded 8.09 percent decongestion in jails in the region or 264 jail releases out of the 3,261 jail population in June 2019.

Meanwhile, JSI Lucila affirmed that the capacity of jails is not enough especially due to the intense campaign of the present administration against illegal drugs. He added that majority of PDLs are charged with drug-related crimes.

DOH-Bicol reminds local authorities on proper fogging

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY --- After the declaration of a national dengue epidemic by the Department of Health (DOH), authorities here reminded local officials and other health institutions on the standard use and proper fogging procedures.

In an interview on Wednesday, Dr. Aurora Teresa Daluro, regional epidemiologist of DOH-Bicol, said fogging is being done to immediately stop transmission of dengue, the last "S" in the "4S" strategy against dengue.

"We support fogging assuming it is done properly and within the standard procedure because there are other laws that we need to be mindful also, space spraying or fogging would kill the mosquitoes already infected with the dengue virus," she said.

Daluro added that fogging should be done while wearing protective clothing (long-sleeved shirt, rubber gloves, boots, half-face mask or gas mask, cap or plastic hard hats) and in the early morning (6:30-8-30 a.m.) or late afternoon (4-6 p.m.). Fogging should be done when dengue mosquitos are not active, there is no rain and the weather is not too hot.

"Eating, drinking and smoking during mixing and application of fogging is not allowed, children and domestic animals must be kept away from the area," she added.

Daluro said in indoor fogging, doors and all possible hiding places of mosquitoes must be open for easy penetration of fog/smoke.

She said fogging must be done at the remotest corner of the room opposite the open door, in high buildings, starting from the top floor. The machine must not be directed towards flammable objects (papers, curtains and cartons). The treated room must be closed for at least half an hour after fogging and nobody must be allowed to enter until after an hour or when the fog/smoke has gone down.

In outdoor fogging, spray downwind to upwind going against the direction of the wind. Direct fogs at all possible mosquito resting sites bushes, covered drains tree-shaded areas and hedges.

Daluro also reminded that a post-fogging procedure is important in order to ensure the safety of everyone.

"It is important to conduct clean-up activities such as removal or disposal of all unnecessary containers in the vicinity of houses, clean clogged gutters, puncture or cut into halves discarded tires and it must be done regularly," she added.

The fogging team must dispose of insecticide containers properly by burying them in dug pits away from water sources. Insecticide containers should not be reused and left-over insecticide must never be spilled into canals, streams or garbage, Daluro said.

IBP Albay Chapter pitches 'accessible' legal aid to indigent clients

By Casandra E. Balala

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) — To guarantee access to adequate legal assistance and make it available to the public, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Albay Chapter strengthens its community legal aid services (CLAS).

“Justice is the obligation of everyone. Justice is a struggle everyone should participate. There are always lawyers who are willing to assist the people,” lawyer Bartolome R. Rayco, IBP Albay public relations officer, said.

IBP Albay provides free legal aid services to indigent individuals, groups or organizations under their CLAS program provided that they met the qualifications and they pass the two tests—merit and means test.

“For those who cannot afford private lawyers, the member of the bar [lawyer] will handle the case and will represent them in court for free if they are qualified,” Rayco said.

Aside from indigent people or qualified clients, IBP Albay also regularly visits jails to provide free legal consultation to the Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) who wishes to inquire about their case procedures.

Rayco affirmed that most of their clients are PDLs seeking for guidance and knowledge of their criminal cases.

Meanwhile, IBP Albay also aims to bring awareness to the public of the existing laws and relatively new laws under revised penal code through their Developmental Legal Aid.

“One of the aspects of justice is the legal knowledge that people should know,” lawyer Elmo R. Inzon, IBP Albay vice president, said.

He added that the developmental legal aid would be more on reaching out to the community to do some legal aid services, consultations and seminars about laws instead of court representations.

Last month, IBP Albay provided lectures on cyberbullying to students and talked on court procedures and legal counselling to PDLs as part of the 24th Police-Community Relations Month Celebration.

PNP training center: Cops should live by the Honor Code

By Casandra E. Balala (PIA-5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) — With the police’s mandate “to serve and protect,” the Regional Training Center Bicol challenges the Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel to live by the Honor Code.

The Honor Code constitute the PNP’s pledge, “Do not lie, cheat, steal and do not tolerate among the policemen who do so.”

RTC-5 provides training and human resource development programs for the police cadets and PNP uniformed personnel so they may possess the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary in the exercise of their profession.

“They should develop their character competency, their values, attitudes and the good manner and right conduct through our Honor Code,” Police Senior Master Sergeant (PSMS) Ryan P. Llenaresas, Chief Public Information Officer of RTC-5, said.

He added that aside from the skills, the police cadets and police officers should instill good character for their suppression and prevention of crimes.

PSMS Llenaresas also explained that there are three phases for the police training program—the investigation process, patrol operations, and internal security operations.

Last July 5, 2019, a total of 609 patrol officers have graduated from the RTC-5 who will proceed for the field training exercise for five months.

Meanwhile, PSMS Llenaresas said that they established “honesty store” in their training center to promote the Honor Code as well as to sustain their scholarship project under the “KASUROG CARE.”

“KASUROG means allies for progress and reform, while CARE stands for Community Assistance, Adopt the Scholar, Resiliency and Empathy,” he added.

The money that RTC-5 is getting from the honesty store was being used to support the needs of their elementary pupil scholars.

PSMS Llenaresas stated that KASUROG Care Services also includes the training and education to schools to encourage and orient aspiring police officers of the life of police, especially in terms of character competency.

In its continuous effort to attain peace and security, he encourages willing individuals to join the forces of PNP.

More than 6,000 workers regularized in Bicol

By Danica D. Caballero (PIA-5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – In its steadfast advocacy to stop the "endo" (end of contract) scheme, the Department of Labor and Employment in Bicol (DOLE-5) reported a total of 6,029 workers from 246 establishments in the region were given regular employment for the first semester of 2019.

Of the number, 3,780 were regularized voluntarily by their employers while 2,249 were through inspections conducted by the labor department.

“We encourage employers to submit their roster of employees and voluntarily regularize their workers under illegal contractualization in their respective establishments. We reach out to the employers to comply and work with us to uplift the lives of the Bicolano workers,” said lawyer Alvin M. Villamor, DOLE-5 regional director.

Villamor added that of the 246 establishments that regularized their workers this semester, at least 106 companies regularized their employees upon inspection, while 140 establishments did it voluntarily.

To further promote regularization in Bicol region, the labor department conducts routine inspections and highlights the policy whenever there are labor management fora, wage consultation meetings and other labor-related activities.

RTF-ELCAC to guarantee quality of life for Bicolanos

By Casandra E. Balala (PIA-5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA)—To ensure prosperity and adequate social services for the Bicolanos, the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) dubbed as “Task Force Katoninongan asin Kauswagan” was established in the region.

It was anchored from the National Task Force (NTF) to ELCAC in compliance with the Executive Order No. 70 issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that institutionalizes the “Whole of Nation Approach” in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace.

The President himself chairs the NTF-ELCAC with the secretaries as members, while the RTF-ELCAC comprises the heads of different regional government offices in Bicol.

RTF-ELCAC aims to sustain peace and order among the local communities while addressing and providing the basic social services to the public, especially to the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAS).

From the 12 clusters at the national level, the RTF-ELCAC Bicol created nine clusters to come up with projects and strategies focusing on the sustainability of support services intervention.

It includes the clusters on “Situational Awareness and Knowledge Management, and Strategic Communication” that aims to provide effective dissemination of government programs; and “Local Government Empowerment” that seeks to develop, institutionalize and sustain peace building advocacy and good governance.

Other clusters are “Legal Cooperation” that will provide systematic and coordinated legal assistance; and “Localized Peace Engagement, E-CLIP and Amnesty Program” to implement the government’s reintegration program effectively for former rebels and their families as they return to mainstream society.

Meanwhile, the “Basic Services Cluster” ensures the delivery of basic services, projects and programs for the people while the “Livelihood, Poverty Reduction and Employment Cluster” will enhance job opportunities, ensure food security and empower communities.

The RTF-ELCAC also comprises the clusters on Infrastructure and Resource Management; Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support; and Sectoral Unification, Capacity Building, Empowerment and Mobilization.

Task Force Katoninongan asin Kauswagan vows to ensure fair and direct delivery of social services to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized sector as well as the rebel returnees in Bicol Region.

182K pupils in Bicol benefit from school-based feeding program

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY – A total of 182,462 pupils from Kindergarten to Grade 6 in Bicol Region are recipients of the Department of Education (DepEd) School-Based Feeding Program for school year 2019-2020.

Marites Rabulan, nutritionist of DepEd-Bicol, in a press conference early this week said the undertaking aims to improve classroom attendance and performance of students in public schools.

“The said beneficiaries come from 3,109 public schools in Bicol and include undernourished learners, who shall be provided for at least 120 feeding days," Rabulan said, adding this would improve the children’s health and nutrition as well as behavior.

Rabulan noted, however, that not all public schools in the region would benefit from the school feeding program since some schools do not have undernourished learners.

Some schools also have unliquidated releases for the previous feeding activities.

Documents showed the feeding activity will prioritize the Severely Wasted and Wasted pupils, or those who do not conform to the ideal height and weight based on the health chart.

Of the 13 schools’ division in the region, Camarines Sur has the highest number of beneficiaries with 66,983; followed by Albay-25,806; Masbate-24,661; Camarines Norte-20,702; Sorsogon-16,678; and Catanduanes-7,373.

For cities, Naga City has the highest with 3,689 beneficiaries; Sorsogon City-3,629; Legazpi City-3,462; Ligao City-3,303; Tabaco city-3,155; Iriga City with 1,552 and Masbate City-1,469.

Rabulan said a total of PHP394 million has been allocated for the feeding program this year.

“It will be PHP18 per learner per day for 120 days and it will be a lunch meal that will be served,” she said.

OCD-5 taps youth for disaster preparedness and resilience

By Sally Atento-Altea (SAA-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY, (PIA) – The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Regional Office V tapped the youth sector as active partners in disaster preparedness and resilience as they celebrate this year’s National Disaster Resilience Month (NDRM) in the Bicol region.

“The government aims to empower all sectors including the youth and young children and allow them to participate actively in building a culture of disaster resilience,” Office of the Civil Defense Region (OCD) 5 Director Claudio Yucot said.

OCD5 led the activities for the NDRM celebration, with the competition for Essay Writing and Poster Making for elementary and high school students in the region as one its highlights.

“Through activities such as the poster making and essay writing contests conducted as part of the annual observance of the National Disaster Consciousness Month (NDRM), the participants are able to appreciate their role in DRRM as community members that they can easily translate through art and in writing,” Yucot said.

Thirteen elementary students for the poster making and 12 high school students for the essay writing contest, representing Department of Education school divisions across the Bicol region, joined the competition.

The activity also aims to instill disaster preparedness especially among the young in building and strengthening disaster-resilient communities.

Winning entries will receive P10,000 for the first place and P8,000 and P5,000 for the second and third place respectively, while P2,000 each will be given to two consolation prizes.

OCD 5 will announce the winners at the NDRM celebration closing ceremony.

The NDRM poster making and essay writing contests were held on July 18 at the RELC Hall, DepED Region 5 compound in Rawis Legazpi City. The entries focused on the theme "Kahandaan sa Sakuna't Peligro para sa Tunay na Pagbabago."

The country celebrates National Disaster Resilience Month in the month of July by virtue of Executive Order No. 29 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 28, 2017.

Formerly called National Disaster Consciousness Month, the observance was renamed NDRM to highlight the shift from disaster awareness building to disaster resilience.

DepEd Bicol directs schools to intensify anti-dengue campaign

By Sally Atento-Altea (SAA-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) -- Bicol region is among the five regions currently under “CODE RED” due to surging dengue cases, this means these areas have already breached the epidemic threshold.

In response to this alarming concern, the Department of Education (DepEd) Region 5 stepped up to have its extensive campaign against dengue in order to protect school populace in their respective areas.

“School officials are hereby enjoined to mobilize all personnel to disseminate information on the prevention and control of dengue fever,” DepEd Bicol director Gilbert Sadsad said.

Sadsad pushed for close collaboration among parents-teachers-community associations (PTCAs), local government units (LGUs), and municipal health offices on information campaigns, practices, referrals, and mobilizations of concerned authorities to address dengue concerns.

He noted the maintenance of environmental sanitation in schools and communities by supporting the implementation of Aksyon Barangay Kontra Droga (ABKD), 4 o’clock habit, and enhanced 4S Strategy.

The 4S strategy stands for Search and destroy, Secure self-protection measures, Seek early consultation and Support fogging/misting during impending outbreak.

Wearing of dark clothing such as black or blue uniforms may also be suspended especially in areas declared as hot spots.

“Since the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is attracted to dark places or dark colors, temporary suspension on wearing of dark clothing, that is black or blue pants, shorts or skirts, is strongly advised,” Sadsad said.

“Make it a habit that all learners and other school personnel drink at least three glasses or eight ounces of clean, potable and safe water inside the school,” he added.

Chiefs of the School Governance and Operation Division (SGOD) are also directed to mobilize health and nutrition personnel to undertake various activities as stated in the Preventive Alert System for Schools (PASS) to identify and refer learners or teaching personnel with dengue fever signs and symptoms.

PASS is a systematic relay of information on a child's or teacher's state of health to appropriate personnel and/or agencies in the locality.

The Department of Health-Bicol had earlier identified 33 dengue hotspots in the Bicol region.

In Albay, declared as hotspots are Barangays Alobo, Anislag, Busay, Salvacion and Villahermosa in Daraga; Taysan in Legazpi City and Cale in Tiwi.

As of July 20, Albay has recorded 595 dengue cases with 10 deaths as of July 13.

Legazpi City features “green” initiatives at int'l forum

By Sally Atento-Altea (SAA-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY, (PIA) – Legazpi City’s Green Finance and Connectivity Infrastructure program took center stage at the third High-Level International Forum on Sustainable Urban Development in Chengdu, China held July 15-17.

City Mayor Noel Rosal, the only mayor in the Philippines invited in the said event, presented the program to the delegates, highlighting Legazpi City's dreams for a sustainable Low Emission Development (LED) through green building, smart growth and renewable energy use.

Also part of the delegates are 17 mayors from different countries and other high-level policymakers including urban managers, leading experts, entrepreneurs and senior media professionals.

Rosal said he was invited to the forum through the letter from the office of the UN-Habitat signed by Director Regional Office for Asia Atsushi Koresawa and the Pacific UN-Habitat and China Center for Urban Development (CCUD) Director Shi Yulong.

“The forum was sponsored and organized by the UN-HABITAT and the CCUD which has for its theme: “Talk to the World for green development”,” Rosal said.

During his presentation, Rosal highlighted the sustainability of the city’s tree planting activities not only in the upland barangays but also in parks and in the both sides of the roads to serve as shades and to make walking conducive for walkways and pedestrian.

Rosal also noted the city government’s initiative to adapt to the increasing heat index especially during summer season by transforming existing agricultural areas into a forest system by planting more fruit trees to absorb carbon dioxide and reduce Green Gas House (GGH) emission.

To reduce mobile combustion and air pollution, Rosal cited the promotion of Hybrid Mass Transport System and non-motorized mobility.

He also vowed to encourage owners of business establishments in the city to efficiently manage energy consumption.

Lawmaker apologizes for punching waiter

By Jess Diaz , Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines — A neophyte party-list lawmaker yesterday apologized for punching a waiter in Legazpi City, Albay last weekend, saying he is ”not a bully or a troublemaker.”

Alfredo delos Santos expressed his remorse a day after his party-list group, Ang Probinsyano, which is supposed to represent people in the provinces, announced it would investigate his behavior and ”would not hesitate to suspend or even remove” him as one of its two representatives in Congress.

The incident, which was caught on closed-circuit television camera, went viral.

“Regardless if I am a public servant or a private citizen, I should have not lost control of my emotions… I am really sorry that I have reacted the way I did. I should have known better. For that I am truly sorry. My emotions got the best of me,” Delos Santos said in a statement.

Delos Santos said he apologized to his victim, 20-year-old Christian Kent Alejo, his family and to the public ”for failing in their expectation of a public servant.”

He said he had reached out to Alejo and his family and they accepted his apology.

No excuse

“I have no excuse, only regret and the promise that it will not happen again. This single incident does not represent me or my values. I will prove it by working hard to deliver our party platform and campaign promises to fellow probinsyanos, and from hereon conduct myself as an exemplary public servant worthy of the trust and confidence our people placed on us,” Delos Santos said.

He also apologized to his party-list and his peers in Congress ”for dragging you into this controversy.”

Meanwhile, labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said Delos Santos should be removed from the roster of lawmakers in the House of Representatives by the ethics committee or his peers from Ang Probinsyano party-list if he would not resign.

”A party-list rep should bravely stand up for labor and take the government to task for the country being named as among the 10 worst countries for workers. Instead we have the sad spectacle of... Delos Santos punching an ordinary worker,” PM chairman Rene Magtubo said.

DOH-5 sounds alarm on 55% spike in dengue cases

By Danica D. Caballero (PIA-5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – As dengue cases in Bicol continue to rise to alarming level, the Department of Health in Bicol (DOH-5) is urging the public to always practice dengue prevention measures to control the disease.

“Barangays should engage in the “Aksyon Barangay Kontra Dengue” strategy. We can prevent dengue in as simple as cleaning our surroundings, backyards and the whole barangay,” said Dr. Ernie V. Vera, DOH-5 regional director.

The DOH-5 recorded 1,828 dengue cases during the first six months of the year, an increase of 55 percent from the 1,177 cases recorded in the same period in 2018. With the onset of the rainy season, the number to escalate.

The record revealed 22 deaths in the region with seven deaths each in Albay and Camarines Sur, followed by Sorsogon with five, and one apiece in Masbate, Camarines Norte, and Catanduanes.

The province of Camarines Sur has the highest number of cases with 876, followed by Albay, 321; Sorsogon, 291; Masbate, 131; Camarines Norte, 126; and Catanduanes, 91. Two other cases were reported but their location was unknown.

The DOH-5 has also identified two barangays (villages) in Naga City that are considered dengue hot spots. In Catanduanes, considered dengue hot spot is a village in Gigmoto.

Tagging barangays with the highest recorded incidence of dengue cases is part of the health department’s awareness campaign for the public.

To prevent and control dengue, the DOH-5 reiterates the 4S strategy. 4S stands for “search and destroy mosquito breeding places, self-protection measures, seek early consultation for fever lasting more than two days, and say yes to fogging” as a last resort when there is an impending outbreak.

“Individual and community commitment to eliminate mosquito breeding places and a clean environment are vital in dengue prevention,” Vera added.

Dengue symptoms include fever, rashes, bleeding, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

Plan to 'light up' Mayon Volcano draws flak

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Opposition to a proposed lighting project around Mt. Mayon is mounting, prompting Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara to ask the proponent to put the plan on hold.

Ako Bicol (AKB) Party-List president Elizaldy Co proposed the PHP500-million undertaking during an administration political rally at the Albay Astrodome here last April. He said spotlights set up around Mayon will accentuate its magnificent slopes.

The plan, according to AKB, is a milestone project that will further boost tourism in Bicol.

The party-list group further claimed that lighting up the volcano will “spark” economic activities in the region as it will attract more private investors to do business in Albay.

But netizens, scientists and environmentalists have criticized the plan for being impractical and damaging to the environment.

In an interview on Thursday, Bichara told the Philippine News Agency that he would “toe the line” regarding the sentiments of majority of his constituents who are strongly opposing the plan to light-up Mayon Volcano.

He added that he would ask for recommendations from environment officials and other stakeholders.

“We need to consult and get the sentiments of the people and authorities,” the governor said.

Asked if he would endorse the project, Bichara said, “I have other priority projects in line for the province.”

Dorothy Colle, Albay Provincial Tourism chief, in a text message, said she is "aware of the plan but it needs consultations from all stakeholders. It's premature for me to give statements pending discussions”.

Merlita Tariman, a freelance journalist, said lighting up Mt. Mayon "is one of the craziest, pettiest, ill-conceived proposals" she has ever come across. "Pailawan mo ang mga pobreng kabahayan, hindi iyang bulkan at kagubatan (Light up the homes of the poor, not the volcano and the forests),” she said.

"Imagine our province which suffers from the most outrageous power outages today would like to light up hectares of forest, while it cannot even sufficiently electrify its towns and cities; cannot even complete construction of its international airport for years now; cannot even push faster the operation of its dream modern seaport in Pantao for decades now; cannot even build good farm-to-market roads," Tariman added.

Lawyer Dominador Barrameda, a retired city prosecutor, said, “Don’t mess with Mayon’s natural beauty. It’s God-given.”

Marcial Tuanqui, former Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) president, said the project is not for the best interest of Albayanos and the funds to be used therein must be used instead to light the village roads and other priority government projects.

“Mayon Volcano is best appreciated to be seen in its natural beauty be it in day or night time,” he added.

Architect Kristine Lagman said lighting up a tourist spot is a good idea, but not in the case of Mt. Mayon.

"It is done in other countries, lighting tourist spot, then there is the so-called 'lightings engineer' that design the idea but I think Mayon is not the right subject. Many lives will be affected, the environment, the eco-system, the animals that live within it," she said.

Lagman added that instead of Mayon, the parks, provincial capitol, and the city and municipal halls could be lighted.

Scientists and environmentalists, on the other hand, said putting spotlights around the volcano would affect the environment and the nocturnal animals living in its surroundings.

AKB has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through a letter for a formal endorsement of its plan to install laser and lights fixtures outside Mt. Mayon's 6-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ).

The certification is part of the requirements for the project to proceed.

Eduardo Laguerta, resident volcanologist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) here, said in a separate interview that a similar letter was received by his office but he advised the AKB to hold a consultation with the proper government agencies, environmentalists, the public, and other stakeholders before proceeding with the project.

The DENR said the project needs to be studied as the Mt. Mayon Natural Park (MMNP) is one of the wonders of the world and a protected area under Republic Act 11038, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018. It added that the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) has management authority over the area.

Lawyer Antonio Abawag, former DENR regional executive director, in a letter to AKB, has referred the project to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Albay for consultation and discussion with members of the MMNP-PAMB.

Police, community collaboration underscored in PCR month

By Danica D. Caballero (PIA-5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – The success of law enforcement depends on the coordination and collaboration between the police and the community.

The National Police Commission in Bicol (Napolcom-5) underscored this as Napolcom, Philippine National Police Office in Bicol (PNP-5) and members of its technical working group (TWG) geared up for the nationwide observance of Police Community Relations Month (PCRM) this July.

“Peace and order is not only the concern of the police but of the whole community. The PCRM is an opportune time to strengthen community participation in crime prevention,” said lawyer Josephmar Gil, the Napolcom-5 regional director.

This year's theme, "Sambayanan, Mahalagang Kaakibat ng Kapulisan sa Pagtaguyod ng Mapayapa at Maunlad na Bayan,” acknowledges that the police’s strong partnership with the community is the key in preventing crime and disorder.

“The cooperation of the public is very important in attaining a secure and peaceful community. Law enforcement is a whole-of- nation approach where everyone works together,” Gil said.

The observance kicked off with a foot parade and opening program last Monday (July 1) at Camp Simeon Ola in Legazpi City.

The Napolcom was to set up a one-stop information shop in a mall in Legazpi City “to let the public know the programs on crime and drug prevention, issues on insurgency and the mandate of Napolcom as well as other PCRM- TWGs including the PNP, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency,” Gil added.

This month, Napolcom will also undertake a quad media campaign, community outreach activities, blood-letting, lectures on crime and drug abuse prevention in schools, and forum on police recruitment.

The observance of PCRM in July every year was institutionalized by Presidential Proclamation No. 764 to develop closer interaction between the police and the community in handling peace and order concerns.

Legazpi in Albay, Zamboanga City conduct anti-dengue cleanup drives

By Dona Magsino (/LBG, GMA News)

Residents in some provinces in the country have stepped up their efforts to curb the rising number of dengue cases.

According to a report by Jam Sisante-Cayco on GMA's Balitanghali Weekend on Sunday, a fogging and cleanup operation was conducted in Legazpi City in Albay.

Over 2,000 dengue cases with 25 fatalities have been recorded in the province from January 1, 2019 to July 6, 2019, according to the Department of Health Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit.

Meanwhile, a massive "search and destroy" operation of mosquito breeding places was being undertaken in Zamboanga City in the Zamboanga Peninsula in Mindanao.

"Now we're doing the spray misting so that it will prevent mosquitoes from getting inside buildings," said city health officer Dr. Dulce Amor Miravit.

Meanwhile, authorities are also monitoring 12 barangays in Abra in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon, amid rising dengue cases in the area.

One dengue patient died while around 400 cases have been reported from January 1, 2019 to July 12, 2019, according to the provincial health office.

It added that this figure was nine percent higher compared to the previous record during the same period last year.

A consultative meeting has already been conducted in the province to address the health issue.

According to the Department of Health, there were over 70,000 reported dengue cases nationwide as of May 2019. The number is projected to reach 200,000 by the end of the year.

The DOH advises the public to seek early consultation once symptoms such as high fever, rashes, vomiting, stomach pains, and nose-bleeding manifest.

DOH heightens drive to combat dengue in Bicol

By Michael B. Jaucian [Correspondent, Inquirer Southern Luzon , Leti Boniol (Editor)]

LIGAO CITY – The Provincial Health Office (PHO) has declared Albay under code green as dengue cases continued to rise in the province since January.

Dr. Antonio Ludovice, acting head of PHO, said code green was declared to remind the public that there was a need to intensify the campaign to combat dengue and prevent the possible outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease.

“We put Albay on code green, meaning we need to reiterate and intensify the information education drive, misting, larvicide infiltration, and surveillance,” he said.

Records from the Department of Health in Bicol showed that 22 persons have died from dengue since January.

Albay and Camarines Sur had the most number of deaths with seven each, followed by Sorsogon with five.

The provinces of Camarines Norte, Catanduanes and Masbate also had one recorded death each.

Records from Albay’s PHO epidemiology surveillance unit said there were 1,203 dengue cases from January 1 to June 1.

Daraga town had the most number of cases with 204. Legazpi City had 184; Guinobatan had 157, and Tiwi had 103.

There were also 93 recorded dengue cases in Ligao City; 77 in Polangui; 74 in Pio Duran; 49 each in Camalig and Oas and 45 in Sto. Domingo.

In Tabaco City there were 43 dengue cases; 30 in Libon; 29 in Bacacay; 22 in Malinao; 17 in Malilipot; and 13 in Manito; nine in Jovellar; and five in Rapu-Rapu.

Ludovice said that because of the surge in dengue cases, rural health units in the province were running out of dengue testing kits.

“We have only 75 dengue testing kits at our stock room and we are requesting more from DOH Region 5,” he said.

Cecil Pan, the DOH dengue coordinator in Bicol, urged the Bicolanos to practice the 4S strategy.

The 4S stands for “Search and Destroy” mosquito breeding places, “Self-protection measures,” “Seek early consultation” for fever as early as one day, and “Say yes to fogging” as a last resort when there is an impending outbreak.

Dr. Jannish Alcala-Arellano, chief of the local health support division of DOH in Bicol, said they have also created a regional dengue task force for prevention, control, and response to the dengue outbreak.

“The objective and purpose are to provide technical assistance and overall direction on how we can decrease the number of dengue cases and prevent an outbreak,” she said.

DOH-5 warns public on rainy season diseases

By Casandra E. Balala (PIA-5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) — With the onset of the rainy season, the Department of Health in Bicol (DOH-5) is urging the public to take precautions against the so-called “WILD” illnesses.

WILD stands for water-borne diseases, influenza , leptospirosis and dengue—illnesses that are associated with the rainy season.

DOH-5 explained that water-borne diseases are caused by drinking water contaminated by human or animal feces. Water-borne diseases include diarrhea, typhoid fever, cholera, hepatitis A, and leptospirosis.

To avoid these diseases, DOH-5 advises the public to drink only filtered or boiled water, always wash hands before and after eating, store water in clean containers, and practice proper waste disposal and good personal hygiene.

Another common disease this rainy season is influenza, commonly known as the flu, which is characterized by cold-like symptoms and headaches. Flu is transmitted by droplets that enter the body through the nose or mouth.

DOH-5 recommends the public to avail themselves of annual influenza vaccination, get enough rest and drink plenty of liquids.

Due to the potential health risks of floodwater, DOH-5 also warns the public against leptospirosis that people usually acquire when they get contact with water or soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals.

DOH-5 said people should refrain from swimming or wading in potentially contaminated floodwater, use proper protection like boots and gloves, and control rats in the household.

When symptoms such as high fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, red eyes and chills are observed, the public should seek early medical consultation and treatment.

Lastly, DOH-5 reminds the public of dengue fever, an acute viral infection caused by a bite of mosquito infected with any of the four dengue viruses.

Dengue symptoms include sudden onset of high fever which may last from two to seven days, weakness, skin rashes, nosebleeding, abdominal pain, vomiting, dark colored stools and difficulty in breathing.

To prevent dengue fever, DOH-5 is asking the public to take part in its “4S” campaign. 4 S stands for “search” and destroy mosquito breeding places, “secure” self protection from mosquito bite, “seek” early consultation when signs and symptoms of dengue occur, and “say” yes to fogging as a last resort when there is an impending outbreak.

In fact, “fighting dengue is as simple as keeping the surroundings clean,” the DOH-5 concluded.

PDEA-5 enforces encompassing strategy to curb illegal drugs

By Casandra E. Balala (PIA-5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) — With the arrest of drug dealers and a massive drug education drive, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Bicol (PDEA-5) enforced its “supply, demand and harm reduction” strategy to eradicate the illegal drug problem.

At a recent meeting of the Bicol Regional Peace and Order Council, PDEA-5 representatives reported that from last April to June, anti-narcotics operatives arrested 582 drug personalities and confiscated 9,945.96 grams of shabu, 247.98 grams of marijuana and 52,040.69 grams of cocaine.

The arrested included foreign nationals and high-value drug personalities.

The PDEA-5 said its strong law enforcement was intended to reduce the supply of drugs reaching the community.

In step with law enforcement, PDEA-5 waged a massive and relentless drug education campaign to prevent people from wanting to and taking illicit drugs.

Through conferences, lectures and seminars in schools, government offices, private workplaces and in mass media, PDEA-5 enlightened the community, the young people and drug users to enable them to make informed decisions about drugs.

Corollary to law enforcement and drug education campaign, PDEA-5 mounted multiple strategies to reduce the harmful consequences of drug use.

This included the launching of “Balay Silangan,” which serves as a home for persons who used drugs (PWUDs). With this joint project with local government units, PWUDs will have a safe haven while they are growing out of their drug use and preparing to be reintegrated into society.

PDEA-5 also launched the Drug Free Workplace Program in public and private sectors to promote a safe workplace for employees and clients.

Other harm reduction strategies of PDEA-5 included the Barangay Drug Clearing Program and the Project: Sagip Batang Solvent.

Light up Mayon Volcano? No plans yet, says Albay tourism official

By Mavic Conde (

How can anyone consider lighting up something the size of Mayon Volcano when Albay has power problems, some netizens ask

ALBAY, Philippines – What do you think about illuminating Mayon Volcano and then naming its lit version as "Aurora Bicolaris"?

A Facebook page called Majestic Mayon had posted a video that broached this idea on June 21. It was peddled as a “a sure game-changer to Philippine tourism and economy,” which will contribute to the national target of 40 million tourist arrivals, generate P30 billion revenues in the next 5 years, and create 6 million new jobs.

The video, which had 46,000 views as of last week, was no longer available as of posting. There was a poll on the same Facebook page, asking netizens whether one preferred normal light or dancing lights to brighten the volcano, which was also no longer available.

What remained of the proposal is a petition on called "Light Up Mayon Volcano" tracing the idea to Ako Bicol party list and Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara.

It is addressed to the Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, and the Tourism Promotion Board.

The petition said: "MAJESTIC MAYON LIGHTING PROJECT is envisioned by Ako Bicol Partylist and Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara which is in line with the Duterte Administration’s national goal in providing more jobs and sources of livelihood for all Filipinos especially for all Bicolanos,” through tourism.

To petition has drawn over 200 signatures, to date.

Provincial Tourism Officer Dorothy Colle said they had yet to receive any directives in relation to the proposal.

She also said that on June 25, the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) invited AKO Bicol to present the project but it didn’t push through due to short notice. The presentation may take place during the next PAMB meeting on August 14, she added.

Legazpi resident volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta said that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in Albay recommended to AKO Bicol, in writing, that such a plan should involve public consultation and a consideration of its environmental impact, especially as the volcano is a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) law.

Mixed responses

Netizens who watched the video on the project before it was taken down had mostly negative reactions to the proposal.

While there were those who said the proposal deserved a chance, there were practical ones who cited the effect of lighting up Mayon on nocturnal animals in the area, the amount of energy it would consume, and how volcanic activity would destroy the light fixtures and waste taxpayers' money.

Instead of illuminating Mayon Volcano, they suggested lighting up streets and isolated areas that still had no electricity. They also couldn't help but ask how lighting a more than 5,000-hectare landmark could happen when the province had power supply issues.

Why not astrophotography?

While the Mayon illumination project remainedjust an idea, some travelers suggested promoting astrophotography in Bicol region to attract more tourists.

Joms Santos, a traveler who is into astrophotography, believed there was a big market for it.

“A lot are fascinated with astrophotography and Mayon is a perfect subject,” Santos said.

MILKY WAY SHOT. Captured at Villa Amada Farm Resort at past 3 am. Photo courtesy of Laurie Mae Gucilatar

“If there are easier ways in Albay to do the Milky Way shots via tours, I’d definitely join,” he said.

Santos said commuting posed a challenge because public transportation was not available 24/7.

A photography hobbyist who had been to Bicol several times was able to capture a Milky Way shot with Mayon in Tabaco City, thanks to a relatively remote farm that offered lodging.

Laurie Gucilatar, the person who took the photo, said the proposed illumination of Mayon would make capturing the Milky Way more challenging but still possible.

Dos Ocampo, a Manila-based video producer, liked the idea of lighting up the volcano for photography, but if it would disturb animals and consume a lot of electricity, he would rather keep it naturally lit.

DOTr assures completion of Bicol International Airport by June 2020

By Sally Atento-Altea (SAA-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – The Bicol International Airport will be completed by June 2020 and will be operational four months after.

This was announced by Albay 2nd District Congressman Joey Sarte Salceda after his recent meeting with Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade to discuss the status of various DOTr projects in the Bicol region.

“I explained to Secretary Tugade that Albay is number 4 in domestic tourism arrivals and if you add the tourism traffic in Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon, this would push these numbers higher. He committed that the construction will be completed in June 2020. Another four months to start operations,” Salceda said.

Tugade has led the site inspection of the airport's construction in April 2019, citing 57% project completion.

DOTr reported that the airside of the airport comprising the airstrip, runway, taxiway, apron and perimeter and fence is already 100% complete, while the landside comprising all the buildings and the site development are currently in the works.

Once completed in July 2020, the BIA is expected to accommodate 2 million passengers annually with the new and higher capacity facilities and enhanced safety of airport operation.

“Sec, you restored my faith in our future!” Salceda said during the meeting.

Hailed as the 'Most Scenic Gateway', BIA is expected to boost Bicol's tourism arrival and help Albay become an economic powerhouse.

To ensure and safeguard continuous construction, soldiers and police have also tightened security around the BIA.

NFA-Bicol excludes Albay in gov't rice distribution

By Jorge Hallare (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Only the poorest of the poor in five out of six provinces in Bicol will continue to receive allocation of government rice starting in September this year, an official of the National Food Authority (NFA) said on Thursday.

In an interview, NFA regional director Henry Tristeza said based on a memorandum they received from their central office, Albay will not be among the provinces where the poor would be allowed to buy NFA rice in selected markets and distributors after August 31.

"The identified locations in Bicol are Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes," he said.

Asked why Albay is not included, Tristeza said, "Albay province is not included based on the recommendation submitted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office (DSWD) regional office and through the surveys conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on the numbers of the poorest of the poor families".

The NFA official said he already submitted on Tuesday to their central office a letter requesting to also allocate NFA rice to some island villages and coastal areas in Albay that they visited, where there are also poverty-stricken families.

Tristeza said the DSWD has identified the areas in the five provinces that will be given priority.

As to the number and identity of the poorest families, the NFA is still coordinating with the local social welfare development officers, he said.

DOH-Bicol steps up household, school-based deworming of kids

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Health in Bicol has intensified its household and school-based deworming campaign to curb the high incidence of intestinal worm infection covering 2.5 million children in the region.

The DOH data indicate that six out 10 children or 67 percent of children aged one to 18 years old are infected with intestinal worms, said Francia Genorga, DOH Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis coordinator.

In an interview Wednesday, she said Bicol has the highest level of Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH) infection cases in the country with 67.4 percent based on the 2013-2015 STH infection study.

Other regions with high prevalence of intestinal worms were Regions 7 (Central Visayas, 55 percent); 4-B (Mimaropa, 40 percent); Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (37 percent); 3 (Central Luzon, 32 percent); 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula, 27 percent); Caraga (22 percent); and National Capital Region (21 percent).

Meanwhile, the Cordillera Autonomous Region had the lowest prevalence rate with only 7 percent.

Genorga said a 30-percent prevalence rate is the acceptable standard based on a World Health Organization (WHO) study.

“The rising intestinal worm infection incidence is now alarming as this can affect the children’s growth and health condition,” she said.

Genorga noted that the 2003 prevalence study showed that nine out of 10 children or 93 percent had intestinal worms, but this remarkably improved in 2015, when the prevalence rate went down to 67 percent.

Sorsogon province had the highest prevalence rate of 89 percent while Albay had the lowest with 44 percent; Masbate, 77 percent; Catanduanes, 63 percent; Camarines Norte, 57 percent; and Camarines Sur, 52 percent.

For this year's campaign, the DOH expects to deworm at least 78 percent of the target or 2 million children aged 1 to 18 years old.

Genorga said the STH causes malnutrition, anemia, weakness and impaired physical and cognitive development.

When asked what would be the cause of the increasing prevalence rate of worm infection among children, she said one of the reasons is the Dengvaxia scare as parents fear the medication's possible side effects and adverse reactions.

2019 Nutrition Month celebration kicks off in Albay

By Sally Atento-Altea (SAA-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY, (PIA) -- The National Nutrition Council (NNC) Region 5 launched on July 1, Monday, the regional celebration of the Nutrition Month in the province of Albay with the theme “Kumain nang Wasto at Maging Aktibo…Push Natin ‘to!”

“The theme encourages everyone to advocate and realize the importance of healthy diet, increased physical activity and reduced sedentary behavior. Pushing the advocacy means that each and everyone can contribute to better nutrition and physical activity for better health,” NNC nutrition program coordinator Arlene R. Reario said.

The nutrition month launching in Albay featured a fun walk and biking for fitness from the Ayala Mall to Embarcadero de Legazpi. It was capped off with Zumba and games for both children and adults.

Elementary students from Victory Village, the host barangay, actively joined the Laro ng Lahi facilitated by the NNC and Department of Health. Among the games are Luksong Lubid, Tumbang Preso, Bingkay, Patintero and Tiyokol.

Reario said the campaign also aims to encourage the food industry and food establishments to produce and make available healthier options.

“The campaign also aims to advocate for the enactment of national and local legislation/policies at the workplace, school and other venues that are supportive of an enabling environment for healthy diets and physical activity,” Reario added.

Registered nutritionists from various health service providers also conducted nutrition assessment and counseling while the Legazpi City Agriculture Office distributed nutritious seeds for planting. Various barangays in the city also joined the poster slogan contest.

To apply and carry on this year’s theme for the Nutrition Month, the NNC together with other partners and stakeholders, pushes for at least an hour or more of physical activity every day, reduction of screen time to two hours or less each day and eating of three food groups every day for variety.

DTI confiscates P2.1-M uncertified products in Bicol

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regional office here has confiscated PHP2.1-million worth of uncertified products after monitoring violations of safety and quality policies throughout the region for the period of May-June.

Jocelyn Berango, DTI-Bicol spokesperson, said in an interview on Tuesday that a notice of violation was issued to 22 establishments upon inspection and evaluation of products, particularly construction materials which did not conform to standards set by the Bureau of Philippine Standards of DTI.

"The inspection is part of DTI's program to ensure consumers’ safety and well-being in terms of buying products. The confiscated products do not have the required Product Standard (PS) and Imported Commodity Clearance (ICC) stickers, while some were found to be selling deceptive products, a violation of Republic Acts (RAs) 4109 and 7394, otherwise known as the Product Standards Law and the Consumer Act of the Philippines," she said.

Berango confirmed that the 22 establishments are from Masbate with 2; Catanduanes-2; Camarines Sur-2; Albay-5; Sorsogon-2 and Camarines Norte-9.

The products inspected included steel bars, electrical tapes, circuit breakers, outlets, plugs, snap switches, lead-acid batteries, fire extinguishers, and plastic chairs and stools.

DTI Regional Director Jocelyn Blanco advised the public to be discriminating when buying goods and commodities in order to get the best value for their money. “Each one should be cautious and must look for the appropriate markings particularly on the mandatory products," she said.

"We are serious on our quest to eradicate uncertified products in the market," Blanco added.

She said consumers in Bicol may contact their office for complaints through landline numbers 480-5721 or 480-5720 local 109, or follow the DTI on social media.

Salceda sees more structural reforms

(Manila Standard Business)

More sweeping second wave of structural reforms may be expected in the next three years, powered and backstopped by legislations in both houses of Congress where the administration claims a supermajority.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, the Lower House’s resident economist, said many reform initiatives would be focused on “investments making the Philippines more globally competitive.”

Salceda said the expected reforms, primarily in three tracks—economic, political and social—will become a third pillar of the ‘Dutertenomics,' an economic strategy aimed to attain “a rapid expansion of state capacity both financial and political to thrust the economy on a higher growth trajectory.”

‘Dutertenomics,’ which Salceda coined, aims to “create mass middle class and lift five million families over the poverty hurdle... partly to catch up with the (country’s) fast-growing regional peers, but more to break the social dysfunction and increase people’s confidence in the government and the system.”

Water supply in Albay town villages starts to improve

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

OAS, Albay – After a month of suffering water shortage, the residents in three villages here are now all smiles as their water supply has started to improve.

Noel Nieva, a 33-year-old resident of Barangay Rizal who owns a "carinderia" (eatery), expressed relief over the availability of water starting last Sunday.

“Okay na ang tubig, malaking bagay na may tubig na at hindi na kami na magagastusan sa pagbili ng tubig (It’s good to have water, it’s a big thing to have water, we can save now by not buying water)” Nieva said in an interview on Friday.

He hopes that the supply will continue and not just for a short time.

Nieva said in the past weeks, his PHP800 income from his food business went down to PHP600 because of water expenses.

"Since water supply is back, I think my daily income will be better now,” he said.

Another villager, Celso Reamon gave the same positive reaction.

“Salamat sa lahat ng tumulong para maibalik ang supply ng tubig, sana dirediretso na ang serbisyo ng tubig (Thank you to all who helped to bring back the water supply in our barangay, I hope this is for good),” he said.

Rizal village chief, Crispin Sotto, thanked the officials who helped solve their water shortage problem.

“We’re happy that water is back in our barangay, after almost a month of suffering, it is good now,” he said.

Sotto lauded Albay 3rd district Rep. Fernando Gonzales’ effort to bring back the water supply in their area.

He said the 270 households or 1,094 people in their village are now happy.

“Hindi na kami nahihirapan mag-igib ng tubig at balik na sa normal (We are okay now, no more struggle in fetching water and no more additional expenses, it’s all back to normal),” he said.

But Consorcia Ranosa, Ligao City Water District general manager, said some areas here still experience low water supply.

"It is not yet enough, water supply is being distributed to severely affected barangays," she noted.

Ranosa said the water district supplies water to Ligao and the three villages of Rizal, Calzada and part of Bongoran in Oas town.

“Nagkataon talaga na kulang talaga (supply of water is really low)… malayo pa tayo sa supply compared sa demand kaya hinati-hati muna natin sila, (Sharing of water is what we are doing here. Water supply is not enough to meet the demand, that is why we need to share and schedule the distribution of water),” she added.

Ranosa said their office is continuously monitoring the supply of water which is expected to further improve with the onset of rainy season.

Gonzales said, “I was happy that the Ligao City Water District (LCWD), with strong and effective emergency measures to resolve the water shortage in their service area in Ligao City and the accompanying rains, has partially restored water services in the affected areas”.

He said he requested the LCWD to provide water to residents of Barangay in Oas even at night in the meantime.

Gonzales' former chief of staff, now Rep.-elect Fernando Cabredo, in a separate interview, said a PHP40-million fund is included in the province's budgetary allocation for the repair, rehabilitation and improvements of the water system in Oas.

“The implementing agency is the Department of Public Works and Highway with regards to the projects and assuming that the project is completed, the problem now is the source of water,” he added.

Cabredo denied speculations that politics is the reason for the water shortage in the villages.

“Ang arog kaiyan na problema dai ninda pagpara lagan ki motibo sa politika, tapos na ang politika (With that kind of problem, let’s not put politics in it) Let's work together for the betterment of the people of 3rd district,” he said.

Oas Mayor Domingo Escoto Jr., meanwhile, said: “Our priority is to ensure that the pipelines of our water system are clean and usable. I need the cooperation of the people to ensure the connection is okay”.

He assured the villagers that his office is doing everything to help and serve the people with their basic needs.

Security tightened around Bicol Intl Airport as construction continues

By Michael B. Jaucian [Correspondent, Inquirer Southern Luzon, Leti Z. Boniol (Editor)]

DARAGA, Albay –– Soldiers and police have tightened the security around the Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Alobo village as the construction of buildings and facilities on it nears completion.

Col. Andrew Costelo, chief of staff at the military’s 9th Infantry Division based in Pili, Camarines Sur, said the Joint Task Force Bicolandia, in coordination with the Bicol police, has strengthened the security in the vital installations to eliminate the threat posed by New People’s Army rebels.

He said the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police needed to protect the BIA from possible attacks by rebels.

The project, which started in 2005 with its construction beginning in 2009, has long been delayed after communist rebels allegedly attacked the project by torching the heavy equipment several times.

“In support to the developmental efforts of the government the JTF Bicolandia under the leadership of Major General Fernando T. Trinidad, commanding officer of 9ID, has assigned one company of regular troops from the 31st Infantry Battalion, CAFGU Active Auxilliary (CAA) from the 5th CAA Albay Company who are civilian volunteers in the area, and a platoon of the 2nd Albay PNP mobile force who will safeguard the airport 24/7,” he said in a statement.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, who pushed for the project, said BIA, which is considered the flagship project in Albay province, would be completed and operational in June 2020 as assured by Department of Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade.

“The completion of the BIA would further boost tourists’ flow to the region wherein Albay is No. 4 in domestic tourism arrivals, and the figure would even further rise if its number is taken in total with the combined Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon traffic,” Salceda said.

Work on the BIA project is in full blast to meet the June 27, 2020 deadline for the terminal, and Nov. 2, for the land-side facilities, he added.

As of May 30, the project was 57-percent completed.

“Once the BIA is operational it is expected to play a major role in achieving a target potential of 20 million tourist arrivals annually. In the first quarter of this year, the country posted a record high of 7.6 percent growth, about 2.2 million arrivals,” he said.

6 Bicolano’s top 10 in Nurse Licensure Exam

( News Team)

LEGAZPI CITY – Six Bicolano nursing graduates lands in the top ten ranking in the recent Nurse Licensure Examination (NLE) given by the Professional Regulation Commission Board of Nursing. The 5,059 out of 9,691 examinees who took the exam in the cities of Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legazpi, Lucena, Pagadian, Tacloban, Tuguegarao and Zamboanga this June 2019 were the successful examinees.

The six Bicolano are graduates from Bicol University and Catanduanes State University, who were in the top 10 are Darlene Grace Sabinosa Ranera (Bicol University-Polangui) and D N Albert Teves Timajo (Catanduanes State University-Virac) got 7th place with an average rating of 86.20%, while Edgar Philip Romanillos Patriarca (Bicol University-Tabaco) in 8th place with an average rating of 86.00%, Cecil-An Salivio Dalanon (Bicol University-Legazpi) got the 9th place with an average rating of 85.80% and the 10th place was Melannie Sta Rosa Camasis (Bicol University-Legazpi) with an average rating of 85.60%.

Pursuant to Section 16, of Republic Act No. 9173, “all successful candidates in the examination shall be required to take an oath of professional before the Board or any government official authorized to administer oaths prior to entering upon the nursing practice”.

The PRC in a release said, that from July 3 to July 12, 2019, registration for the issuance of Professional Identification Card (ID) and Certificate of Registration will be done on-line. Please go to and follow instructions for initial registration. Those who will register are required to bring the following: downloaded duly accomplished Oath Form or Panunumpa ng Propesyonal, notice of admission (for identification only), 2 pieces passport sized pictures (colored with white background and complete name tag), 2 sets of documentary stamps and 1 piece short brown envelope. Successful examinees should personally register and sign in the Roster of Registered Professionals.

The members of the Board of Nursing who conducted the licensure examination are Glenda S. Arquiza as Chairman and for its members are Carmelita C. Divinagracia, Gloria B. Arcos, Carfredda P. Dumlao, Florence C. Cawaon and Cora A. Añonuevo. []

Bicol health officials continue fight vs. measles, dengue

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Health officials in Bicol are continuously finding ways to address measles and dengue cases that continue to rise to alarming levels, prompting the Department of Health (DOH) office in the region to sustain its “red flag” health alert status.

DOH data indicated that during the first semester of this year, measles cases rose to an unprecedented rate of 1,401 percent as compared to the same period last year.

Dr. Ernie Vera, acting DOH regional director, said Tuesday that 1,261 cases, all involving children, were reported from January to June 2019. Fifteen of the victims succumbed to the disease.

There were only 84 measles cases reported during the first semester of last year.

This year, Camarines Sur has the highest number of cases with 406, followed by Albay – 373; Sorsogon – 243; Masbate – 162; Camarines Norte – 59; and Catanduanes – 17. One case is a transient coming from an undisclosed area, the report said.

The DOH advised the public to be vigilant and to refer anyone showing symptoms of measles to the nearest health facility for early diagnosis and prompt case management.

Measles symptoms include cough, colds, red eyes, fever, and skin rashes.

Meanwhile, dengue has claimed the lives of 22 people in Bicol this year, Vera said.

Quoting reports from DOH surveillance units, he said dengue cases continue to rise with a total of 1,828 during the first half of this year as compared to last year’s 1,177, showing a 55-percent surge.

Camarines Sur has the highest number of cases with 876, followed by Albay with 321; Sorsogon – 291; Masbate -- 131; Camarines Norte -- 126; Catanduanes – 81; and transients - 2.

DOH record showed Albay and Camarines Sur had seven deaths each followed by Sorsogon with five, and one each in Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, and Masbate.

The DOH has also declared “Dengue Hotspots” in two villages in Naga City in Camarines Sur and one in Gigmoto town in Catanduanes.

To control and prevent the spread of the mosquito-borne disease, the Health department reiterated its call to residents to practice the 4S strategy: Search and Destroy mosquito breeding places, Self-protection measures, Seek early consultation for fever as early as one day, and Say yes to fogging as a last resort when there is an impending outbreak.

Public consultation on Universal Health Care to kick off in Bicol

By Mar S. Arguelles (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

LEGAZPI CITY –– A public consultation on the Universal Health Care (UHC), including the draft Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), would kick off in Bicol on July 4 and 5, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Dr. Ernie Vera, acting director of DOH in Bicol, said the UHC IRR public hearings would be held on July 4 in Sorsogon and July 5 in Masbate.

The public hearing was expected to be attended by the provincial governors, town and city mayors, stakeholders in the 36 towns and cities in Sorsogon and Masbate.

DOH-Bicol officials would orient and consult local officials and the public on the UHC-IRR.

Vera said the remaining four provinces and cities were still being scheduled for the next endorsement.

Salient features to be brought out during the consultation meeting include UHC benefits, access to quality and affordable health care, primary health care focused on the health system, financing, service delivery, and local health system, regulations.

The DOH also plans to hold larger consultations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Albay newsmen learn DRRM in one-day seminar

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- A group of journalists from Albay province on Tuesday attended a one-day seminar-workshop here aimed at equipping them with knowledge and understanding of Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) that is very important during calamities.

The activity held at St. Ellis Hotel was sponsored by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol and participated in by 40 media practitioners.

Mar Arguelles, Philippine Daily Inquirer-South Luzon correspondent, said the seminar would improve mediamen's reporting by expanding the topic about disaster risk reduction.

"It is important that the media practitioners in Albay become aware and equipped with information in terms of DRRM. How can we report accurately if we don't know the basic," he added.

Claudio Yucot, OCD regional director, expressed gratitude to all participants for their support and interaction.

“Media has been the link of OCD in disseminating information to the public in giving factual, accurate and timely information regarding hazards and disasters,” he said.

Yucot noted that the media is important in making a disaster-resilient community.

Topics discussed during the training were Earthquake and Volcanic hazards; Updates on Mayon and Bulusan Volcanoes; Philippine DRRM System and Regional DRRMC-Bicol Operation Center.

Meanwhile, Eduardo Laguerta, resident volcanologist here of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), said Alert Level 2 remains in effect on Mayon Volcano.

"This means that Mayon is at a moderate level of unrest," he noted.

Laguerta said the public must be aware of sudden explosions, lava collapses, pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) and ashfall, which can still occur and threaten areas in the upper to middle slopes of the volcano.

"People residing close to these danger areas are advised to observe precautions associated with rockfalls, PDCs and ashfall," he added.

DOTr eyes completion of Bicol Int’l Airport by June 2020

By Johnny C. Nunez (PNA)

DARAGA, Albay -- Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade has assured Bicolanos the Bicol International Airport (BIA), now under construction in Barangay Alobo here, would be completed in June 2020, and would be operational shortly after then.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said Tugade made the promise during a recent meeting at the Department of Transportation (DOTr) headquarters in Clark, Pampanga where a briefing was held on the status of the PHP4.8-billion BIA and other projects of the agency in the regions.

The completion of the airport project is seen to provide a strategic and huge boost to the country’s economy, particularly the tourism industry, as it is projected to unlock the vast potential of Southern Luzon especially the Bicol Region, with its wealth in tourism assets and attractions.

“You restored my faith in our future,” Salceda told Tugade following the latter’s assurance of the 2020 completion of BIA, which is hailed as the country’s “Most Scenic Gateway.”

During the Clark meeting, Salceda updated Tugade that Albay is No. 4 in domestic tourism arrivals, and would even further increase if its number is taken in total with the combined Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon traffic.

The accelerated completion of the BIA would further boost tourists’ flow to the region, he said.

The BIA project is fully funded and work on it is in full blast to meet the June 27, 2020 deadline for the terminal, and November 2, 2019 for the land-side facilities.

As of May 30 this year, the project is 57 percent completed.

During the briefing, Tugade also said that DOTr had already resolved several technical concerns that have delayed the project, among them “the works on the required four-meter deep embankment of 25-centimeter thickness per layer to ensure good compaction, and the relocation of the transmission towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines that could obstruct the runway approach.”

Strongly pushed by Salceda during his earlier stint in Congress, and later as Albay governor and Bicol Regional Development Council chairman for nine years, the BIA project started in 2005 but construction began only in 2009.

Hampered by several hitches and delays, Salceda said Tugade’s pledge shows the “executive decisiveness of the Duterte administration in delivering urgent development projects nationwide such as the BIA, a vital infrastructure which is crucial to country.”

The Albay lawmaker said the BIA is expected to play a major role in achieving a target potential of 20 million tourist arrivals annually when it starts operation.

In the first quarter of this year, the country posted a record high 7.6-percent growth, which was about 2.2 million arrivals.

Salceda further said “the role of the BIA will be huge since the Department of Tourism (DOT) has upped its campaign in bringing foreign ambassadors to the country’s globally known, yet less visited destinations.”

Tourists flying in via the BIA will land right at the heart of the Bicol region’s tourism hub, Albay province, home to the world’s iconic Mayon volcano and the Cagsawa Ruins, without travelling far from the airport to visit them, he pointed out.

DOT said the country’s tourism uptrend has been boosted primarily by “a lot of direct flights by our carriers, most specially the newly established routes with Japan and Australia.”

South Korea remains as the Philippines’ top source of foreign tourists, followed by China, the United States, Japan and Australia.

DA-Bicol turns over P3-M building to Albay town coop

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

TABACO CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office here has turned over a newly constructed building worth PHP3 million under the High Value Commercial Development Program to the Mt. Mayon Pili Producers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MMPPC).

Emily Bordado, DA spokesperson, in a phone interview on Friday, said the DA and the cooperative shall use the building for its commercial pili processing operations.

"The building located in a 500-square meter parcel of land within the compound of the DA Albay Research and Development Center (ARDC) in Barangay Buang in this city, is envisioned to help the pili farmers and processors in the province and develop new pili and pili-based products/by-products," Bordado said.

She added that DA shall monitor and evaluate the progress of the commercial operations of the facility and provide technical assistance and conduct research and related activities on pili and its by-products.

In his message during the turnover ceremonies earlier this week, DA Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension Rodel P. Tornilla emphasized that "for this building to be operational, machineries and equipment should be put in place”.

Bordado said Roberto Pacis, a member of the board of directors of the MMPPC, thanked the DA for entrusting to their coop the said building to be used for their processing operations but added that they need the agency’s assistance in procuring the needed equipment for the facility.

He urged his fellow coop members and their other partners to continue supporting the efforts and plans of the cooperative.

Tornilla, in response to the request of the coop for the DA to help in the purchase of needed equipment, said he will try to look for fund sources.

Grace Tordilla, executive director of the Philippines Pili Industry League Inc., noted that “there is a big demand for pili oil in the global market and we have to catch up with the global requirement”.

She added that after the successful conduct of the 1st Pili Scientific Conference in Naga City recently, a lot of foreign investors have been contacting her group about pili and its by-products.

2019 Le Tour de Filipinas organizers laud Legazpi City LGU

By Sally Atento-Altea (SAA-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY, (PIA) – The organizers of the 2019 Le Tour de Filipinas expressed gratitude for the full support and warm accommodation of its partners including this City government.

The final stage of the race was capped off in Legazpi City, June 18, out and back in the city via Donsol, Sorsogon. The sporting event was conducted from June 14 to 18, with five stages starting from Tagaytay City.

Donna May Lina, sporting event’s chairman, said she was amazed by the well- paved and widened concrete roads of Legazpi City and other parts of the province of Albay and Sorsogon.

“These kinds of roads are fit for the cycling competition and other similar sporting events,” she said.

Lina said the recent Le Tour de Filipinas 10th edition was very successful, recognizing the invaluable support of their partners and the communities.

“Most of all we would like to give our most heartfelt thanks all the wonderful communities and cycling fans that we met along the way. Their energy and excitement are the reason we can say that the 10th anniversary of Le Tour de Filipinas was a success,” the event organizer said.

City Mayor Noel E. Rosal said such kind of sporting event has showcased the infrastructure development of Legazpi particularly the southern section of the city.

“Sports tourism is a good jumping board to showcase some of our idyllic places and infrastructure improvements that will surely promote the city’s tourist destinations,” he said.

Rosal cited that this coming August, different sporting events will be held in this city as part of the 28th year celebration of Ibalong Festival, which is expected to again boost the number of tourist arrivals in the city.

The 26 year old Dutch cyclist Jeroen Meijers of China’s Taiyuan Miogee Cycling Team has raced his way as the champion in the recently conducted Le tour de Filipinas 10th edition.

The second placer was Singaporean Goh Choon Huat of Malaysia’s TSG Cycling Team with Aussie Angus Lyrons of Australia’s Oliver’s Real Food Racing.

GSIS invites applicants to its 2019 enhanced scholarship program

By Sally Atento-Altea

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) – Legazpi Branch is accepting applications for the enhanced GSIS Scholarship Program (GSP) for academic year 2019-2020 until June 24.

“GSIS has opened 400 scholarship slots nationwide for children or dependents of low-income GSIS members and pensioners below 60 years of age with permanent total disability (PTD),” GSIS Legazpi officer-in-charge Erwin Roallos said.

“Scholars will be chosen via electronic raffle after validation of applications,” Roallos added.

Under the GSP, scholars can receive up to PHP 40,000.00 per academic year for tuition and miscellaneous and PHP3,000.00 allowance per month.

To avail of this program, the GSIS member must be an active permanent employee with at least three years in government service, a salary grade of 24 or below (or its equivalent job level) and have paid premium contributions for the last six months.

Single or married members may nominate their children or dependents who rely on them for support. PTD pensioners below 60 years old may nominate their child only.

Nominees must be incoming freshmen who have been accepted in any four- or five-year course or in priority courses in Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-recognized schools with its own charter or a school qualified by the CHED as Levels IV and III, autonomous or deregulated.

Roallos cited that of the 400 slots, 40 will be allotted to dependents of persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and solo or single parents.

“In 2018, 24 slots were allotted for the Bicol region,” Roallos said.

Furthermore, scholars who will graduate as cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude will receive monetary incentives of PHP20,000, PHP30,000, and PHP50,000 respectively.

The GSP application forms, requirements, and scholarship terms and conditions are available online at

Interested members may submit their application at the GSIS-Legazpi Branch office at Alternate Rd, Bitano, Legazpi City. For further inquiries, call their office at 480-4685 or email

'Bata Balik Eskwela' urges kids to go back to school

By Casandra E. Balala (PIA-Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA)—The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Bicol (DSWD-5) has launched its “Bata Balik Eskwela” (BBE) campaign to ensure that the children beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will enroll in classes.

Glorei Lindio, DSWD-5 information officer for 4Ps, said the campaign aims to encourage the children to return to school and continue their education so they can fully maximize the benefits of 4Ps.

DSWD’s 4Ps is a human development program of the national government that invests in the health and education of poor households, particularly of children aged 18 and below.

For its educational grant, every monitored child in elementary receives P300 per month while the high school children beneficiaries receives P500 per month each. The program covers only three children per household.

Lindio explained that the education grant will be given to children beneficiaries every after two months.

“For example, the education grant for February and March will be given in May. Another month [April] is allotted for our monitoring and updating to ensure that these children are coming to school consistently,” she said.

Meanwhile, DSWD-5 Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia said the campaign addresses the children’s difficulties in pursuing their studies. It includes financial challenges, children who are engaged in early marriage or early pregnancy, and children who are sickly.

The BBE campaign includes current activities of 4Ps such as youth and family development sessions that are designed to develop a positive mindset among the youth and parents, especially in valuing education.

It also contains various interventions such as case management to help the children and its family cope up with their problems, particularly on how to meet the child’s school needs.

“Under the BBE, children beneficiaries will be equipped with necessary life skills so that they will realize their full potentials to contribute meaningfully to improving the condition of their families,” Garcia said.

As of this writing, DSWD-5 is monitoring 818,131 children covered by 4Ps in Bicol. Of the number, 9,940 were already sent back to schools while 19,655 were subject for case management intervention.

Twin commemorations draw attention to plight of child laborers

By Casandra E. Balala (PIA-5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) — A child welfare group reminded the public about the Philippines’ obligation to get rid of child labor in the country.

The group Educo Philippines sounded the reminder as it marked the observance of World Day Against Child Labor last June 12, which took on a new meaning as it coincided with the 121st anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence.

Elaborating on this year’s theme, “Children shouldn’t work in field, but on dreams,” Educo Philippines asserted that "children should live in a world where they fully enjoy their rights in pursuing their dreams."

Educo Philippines communications specialist Grekka Sarmiento said poverty remains the primary reason why children in Filipino families opt to work and abandon school.

Educo Philippines' report on child education released in 2018 showed that child laborers eventually lose their interest in school and dropout.

Most of child laborers tend to help or supplement their family’s income that is why they prefer to work even at an early age.

In Bicol, only 85 percent of boys and 91 percent of girls finish elementary. Only half of these figures finish high school.

Educo also presented a study published on the CNU Journal of Higher Education in 2014 where dropping out from school by working children takes effect when the income is not enough.

Also, Educo affirmed that child labor is highest in the agriculture industry where children are part of producing rice, corn, bananas, rubber, sugarcane and even tobacco.

Child labor is also rampant in services and industry work such as producing fashion accessories, gold, pyrotechnics and even pornography. In line with this, Educo reiterated the State of the World’s Children by United Nations Children’s Fund citing that the Philippines has become the top global source of child pornography in 2017.

As an international development non-government organization working in education and the protection of children, Sarmiento stated that Educo has invested in strengthening structures that ensure child rights and child protection in communities around Bicol.

According to Educo, as the commemoration coincides with the 121st Independence Day celebration, genuine freedom and independence is yet to be felt by millions of families across the country who remain with limited access to decent work that pays enough for a person to lead a life of dignity.

PH riders make podium

By Nick Giongco

LEGAZPI CITY – The Philippines finally caught up with the rest of the foreign contingent after Dominic Perez and former champion Mark Galedo finished second and third behind Stage 3 winner Samuel Hill of Australia on Sunday as the Le Tour de Filipinas enters the final two phases.

Hill of Team Nero Bianchi clocked four hours and 12 seconds in conquering the 183.7-kilometer lap that began in Daet, Camarines Norte.

Perez of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 51 seconds later (4:34.03) while Galedo, the 2014 champion of the event, was not far behind, arriving three seconds later (4:34.06).

Hill, a 23-year-old from Newcastle, was a part of a five-man lead pack that broke away early.

“To win today, I could not express it. It means so much,” said Hill, who described the pair of Filipino pursuers, Perez and Galedo, as “very strong.”

The major move by the Filipino riders and Hill’s surprise win, however, didn’t jumble the overall standings with Dutch first lap winner Jeiron Meijers maintaining his possession of the purple jersey, symbol of the overall leader, followed by Goh Choon Huat of Terengganu TSG Cycling and Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food.

Host entry Felipe Marcelo of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 is at tenth spot overall, two minutes and 36 behind Meijers.

Perez, 24, thought he and Galedo, could ride-by-side with Hill but the rider from Down Under just sped away with ten kilometers left before the finish.

The last two stages will start and finish in the Albay capital with Stage 4 – 176 kilometers – proceeding well into Gubat, Sorsogon, before heading back to the heart of Albay via Daraga.

Stage 5 will be138.1 trek that will breeze through Donsol, Sorsogon, before making its return trip here via Ligao, Guinobatan and Camalig.

This tenth edition of the Le Tour is sanctioned by the UCI.

Albay farmers affected by dry spell get P1.1-M assistance

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol has provided assistance to the local government units (LGUs) in Albay province, whose farmers have been affected by the dry spell brought by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia said family food packs were distributed to the farmers in the towns of Pioduran, Guinobatan, and Manito, and the cities of Ligao and Tabaco, who took part in DSWD’s Food-for-Work Program.

"DSWD provided a total of 3,160 food packs or PHP1.1-million worth, each food packs contains six kilos of rice, four tin cans of corned beef, four tin cans of sardines and six packs of energy drink or coffee sufficient for five members of a family and good for two days," the director said in an interview on Friday.

DSWD Bicol has coordinated with the provincial and municipal agriculture offices in monitoring disaster relief operations through its DSWD employees deployed in local government units (LGUs).

Garcia added that LGUs need to submit a project proposal and official list of farmers affected by the El Niño to avail of the DSWD’s Food-for-Work program.

"The DSWD field workers will facilitate the distribution of the relief goods after the proposed community work has been done by the target beneficiaries," Garcia said.

Albay was placed under the state of calamity last April 12.

Albay’s waterless villages cry for help

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

OAS, Albay -- Thousands of residents in three villages here are complaining of the water shortage they have been experiencing for almost a month now.

Norie Ann Carmona, a 40-year-old from Barangay Rizal, said a single drop of water from the faucet is already like gold and should not be wasted.

"Ok lang mawalan ng kuryente, wag lang tubig. Kami dito, mag-i-isang buwan na walang tubig. Kaya hirap na hirap talaga (A brownout would be better than not having water. We’ve been without water for almost a month now. That is why it is so difficult)," she told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

In an interview, Carmona said this is the first time she has experienced water shortage.

“Pasakit talaga to sa amin, sa pang araw-araw na pagluto, pagligo at sa pagkain namin. Idagdag pa ang gastos namin sa pagbili ng tubig. (This is really an additional burden for us, especially in our daily chores -- cooking, bathing – not to mention the additional expenses),” she said.

Carmona noted that her PHP298 water bill per month has increased to PHP380 per day.

"I hope this water shortage comes to an end. We deserve water, too,” she said.

Nida Bayona, 55, has the same problem. Bayona complained that her husband has suffered stomach pain and skin rashes because of deep well water.

“Sumakit ang tiyan niya tapos nag-tae na siya. Sumunod naman ako. May mga rashes na ako sa likod dahil sa tubig na ginagamit namin galing sa poso (He experienced stomach pains and diarrhea. I have rashes on my back because of the water from the well),” she said.

Rizal village chief, Crispin Sotto, acknowledged that the water shortage is affecting the entire barangay.

“We’re experiencing water scarcity -- not even a single drop (of water), mag-i-isang buwan na after eleksyon (almost a month now since election),” he said.

Sotto added that the water district did not give a concrete timeline. “They have not told us until when this would be,” he added.

He said the 270 households or 1,094 people under his constituency are suffering.

“They need to put water into drums and pails just to save water from deep well. Meron po mga Jetmatic na pinagkukunan, pero kailangan i-filter, kasi may amoy at hindi pwede gamitin sa pagluto, kaya bumibili pa din ng tubig sa ibang barangay (There is water coming from Jetmatic but it needs to be filtered because it smells and we can’t use it for cooking. Thus, we have to buy water from other barangays),” Sotto said.

As part of the LGU’s action, Oas Mayor Domingo Escoto, in a letter, requested the assistance of the Bureau of Fire Protection to temporarily provide water to the affected barangays of Rizal, Calzada, and Bongoran.

“Rationing to the respective barangays until the water supply is restored as per schedule: Barangay Rizal –Tuesday and Friday; Calzada -- Monday and Thursday; and for Bongoran --Wednesday and Saturday, all twice a day 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.; 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” the letter stated.

Meanwhile, in Calzada, village chief Edgar Relleve requested from the Ligao Water District at least three hours of water supply every day.

“I already requested Ligao Water District for at least three hours a day, but no response yet,” Relleve said, adding that the water shortage bothers him since no definite date has been given when the problem would be solved.

Carmona, Bayona, Sotto, and Relleve are all clients and members of the Ligao City Water District.

Jorge Valencia, technical operation head of the Ligao City Water District, said in an interview on Thursday that the current water supply is very low compared to the demand.

"Sa ngayon, wala po talagang tubig. Sobrang init po ang nakikita natin rason kung bakit walang tubig (There is really no water supply at present. We see the extreme heat as the reason for the water shortage),” Valencia said.

He added that the El Niño has greatly contributed to the water shortage the residents have been experiencing.

“Almost 30 percent of our supply ang nawala (is gone) because of too much heat and we are continuously conducting monitoring, and pipe lining (among others),” he added.

Valencia did not give a fixed date when the water would return since they don’t want to give the affected barangays false hope.

Salceda files bill, eyes schools of technology

(Manila Standard Business)

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda recently filed a bill in Congress seeking the establishment of Schools of the Future in Technology that will serve as pillars of basic Philippine education and provide “Filipino students the benefit of technological innovations and prepare them for the challenges of future economic and employment realities.”

Titled the Philippine Schools of the Future Technology Act of 2019, Salceda said his proposal (HB 9142) answered the need to “close the technological and knowledge gap,” with the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is expected to “disrupt traditional business and employment models, render certain professions obsolete and displace some sectors of the workforce whose jobs are bound to be automated.”

Citing various researches, Salceda said half of today’s activities could be digitally enabled by 2025, technology being an indispensable tool in almost all facets of human activity. “About 65 percent of current work skills become obsolete in two years due to technological innovations… and this phase is seen to intensify in the years ahead,” he added.

P400-K shabu seized from 4 suspects in Legazpi City

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Anti-narcotics operatives on Thursday seized 60 grams of suspected shabu worth PHP408,000 from four alleged drug pushers during an operation in a coastal village in this city, according to a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) report.

Arrested were Jing Balaguer, 52; her brother Levis, 27; Dennis Nunez, 26; and Nixon Aguilar, 47, all residents of Barangay San Roque this city, said Cotton Talento, PDEA Bicol spokesperson.

The suspects earlier agreed to sell shabu to an undercover PDEA agent at 10:45 a.m. in the said village.

Seized during the drug buy-bust operation was a plastic bag containing 50 grams of crystalline substance believed to be shabu and a medium heat-sealed plastic sachet containing another 10 grams, also suspected shabu.

PDEA considers Barangay San Roque as an illegal drug hotspot village.

DepEd Bicol opens Balik Eskwela assistance centers

By Sally Atento-Altea (SAA-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY, (PIA) – The Department of Education (DepEd) Regional Office 5 launched Monday, May 27 the Oplan Balik Eskwela (OBE) program to address queries and concerns for the opening of classes.

“The OBE is part of DepEd’s effort to ensure that learners are properly enrolled and able to attend school on the first day of classes. It aims to address problems, queries and other concerns commonly encountered by the public at the start of the school year,” DepEd Bicol information officer Mayflor Marie Jumamil said.

To assist and respond to these concerns, DepED Bicol led the creation of the OBE Inter-agency Task Force, a collaboration of various government agencies involved in various school opening matters.

Part of the program is the setting up of OBE Public Assistance Command Centers (PACC) in all schools in the region to serve as information and complaints processing and routing mechanism.

“Through the PACC, the public can lodge concerns to ensure smooth opening of classes,” Jumamil said.

Jumamil cited the submission of birth certificates authenticated by the Philippine Statistics Authority as one of the common school enrollment concerns.

“Under the DepEd enrollment policy, birth certificate with PSA validation is required. However, if not available during enrollment, birth certificate from local registrar or barangay certification containing the name of child, date of birth, gender and name of parents can be submitted,” she said.

“However, the PSA authenticated birth certificate must be submitted within the school year,” Jumamil added.

Furthermore, DepEd Bicol Director Gilbert T. Sadsad assured that the opening of classes on June 3 will be a learning day for all students and teachers.

“June 3 will be a learning day for all students and classes in the region. We ensure that June 3 is indeed the 1st learning day for students and teachers," Sadsad said.

Sadsad likewise stressed on the vital role of parents in instilling values to their children, with the schools as secondary partners.

“We often hear parents say, bakit walang values ang ating mga anak? Di ba sila tinuturuan sa mg schools?” he said.

“There are no schools that did not teach values but there are families who did not teach values. The point is, instilling values should start at homes and families,” Sadsad stressed on.

The OBE launching on May 27 at the Ayala Malls- Legazpi featured services of OBE Task Force member agencies such as provision of food supplements for school children from the Department of Health and distribution of IEC materials from the Philippine Information Agency and Office of Civil Defense.

A public command system comprised of the member agencies was also part of the set up to answer public concerns during the school opening and start of classes.

Albay representative asks SC to stop EDSA provincial bus ban

By Vann Marlo M. Villegas

ALBAY 2ND District Rep. Clemente Joey S. Salceda asked the Supreme Court (SC) to halt the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) from implementing its regulation banning provincial buses along EDSA.

This is the second petition to be filed against MMDA Regulation No. 19-002, dated March 26 this year, which prohibits the issuance and revokes existing permits of public utility bus (PUB) terminals and operators along EDSA.

AKO Bicol Partylist, in a petition filed last April 29, sought to nullify the new policy, which is planned for full implementation by June.

In his 15-page petition, Mr. Salceda sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction against the regulation, saying its implementation “will not resolve the traffic congestion in EDSA.”

Citing statistics from Land Transportation Office, Mr. Salceda noted that there are only 4,000 provincial buses that pass along EDSA compared to the 2.8 million cars in the National Capital Region. Only 1,500 going to Metro Manila are from the south while 2,500 are from the north. Of the north-bound buses, 236 are from Albay.

He also said that transferring the bus station to designated hubs north and south of the capital will aggravate the situation and cause “additional burden” to people from the provinces.

“There is no correlation between the original rooms of the affected PUBs and the congestion of traffic in EDSA since the traffic congestion in EDSA during office hours are caused by private vehicles and city public buses, not by affected PUBs,” he said.

The Albay representative also assailed the regulation saying it violates existing franchises of PUBs issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and lease agreements between the operators of the buses and terminal owners.

He said that most of the affected passengers are “poor people, if not, small time businessmen from the provinces carrying their goods to and from Metro Manila or travel to the big city for some other personal business,” he said.

NEDA Bill gains support

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in Bicol has welcomed a measure filed in the Lower House, whih seeks to widen the agency's mandate to better pursue the much-needed economic reforms - as provided by the 1987 Constitution.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda authored House Bill 8527, also known as the "NEDA Bill", and aims to convert NEDA into an independent economic planning agency.

Salceda, citing Article XII, Section 9 of the 1987 Constitution, said Congress is mandated to pass a law that would convert NEDA from an interim body into a stand-alone economic planning agency.

Salceda, in a press statement said, reorganizing NEDA into an independent planning government agency is imperative and cannot be ignored because the 1987 Constitution mandates it and because this move is needed to cope with current economic reform initiatives.

Salceda said “the Constitutional provision was not given attention by the country’s legislators for 32 years.”

Agnes Espinas Tolentino, NEDA regional director, said “we are in agreement with the proposal for a strengthen NEDA.”

“In fact, Cong. Salceda, before coming up with his own version of the NEDA Bill, has had consultation with our NEDA officials. Hence, what he has proposed resulted from such consultation," she said.

Tolentino, in an interview said, “our hope for much improved linkage between planning and programming and budgeting will be fully realized once this bill gets to be approved.”

Tolentino, however, said as to the matter of being an independent planning agency, “we believe that we are independent now. For me, independence may vary depending on our concept.”

She said that “if being independent would mean that our head should not be appointed by the President or the agency, budget should not be approved by Congress or the basis for coming up with the Philippine Development Plan should not include the agenda of the incumbent President, then this would truly be independence redefined.”

Salceda, in pushing for his NEDA bill said, “The current set-up of the NEDA as the interim “independent planning agency” is no longer adequate to cope with various reform initiatives on the economy and development.”

Quoting studies by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Philippine Institute of Development Studies, Salceda said the government’s planning, policy-making, programming, and budgeting processes have become fragmented, uncoordinated, and often interrupted.

The implementation of plans, programs, and policies has, at many times, been delayed and inefficient. Even the sensible policies and programs that address root causes of problems and that have long-term impact often get disrupted, discontinued, or not given due attention, he added.

Salceda said his bill would give credence to NEDA’s independence by following reform provisions such as strengthening of NEDA’s oversight functions and the institutionalization of a Planning Call.

“Strengthening NEDA’s oversight function over the Executive Departments will subsequently lead to the synchronization of the government’s planning process with programming and budgeting,” Salceda said.

LTO-5 promotes road safety among school kids

By Casandra E. Balala (PIA-V)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA)—The Land Transportation Office in Bicol (LTO-5) is educating school children about road safety to reduce road crashes in the region.

“We really have to educate the youth. Road safety should start from the students and self-discipline should start at their young age,” Noreen San Luis-Lutey, LTO-5 regional director, said.

Through the “Students Today, Road Users Tomorrow” campaign of LTO-5, students will be knowledgeable of traffic rules and regulations, and go back to the basic rules on road courtesy and safety through the help of mass and social media.

In observance of the road safety month this May, LTO-5 encourages students to learn about the traffic rules and regulations, one of which is the use of standard protective motorcycle helmet pursuant to the RA 10054.

Another road safety measure is the use of seatbelt under the RA 8750.

LTO-5 also appealed to the youth to be mindful of anti-drunk and drugged driving law that prohibits a person from driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and other similar substances.

LTO-5 also advises the students on the Anti-Distracted Driving Act of 2016 which outlaws the use of mobile phone or any electronic gadgets while driving.

“There are many laws on road safety and security that we must enforce to prevent road crashes and serious injuries. We must follow these laws,” Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Director Arnel Escobal said.

Meanwhile, Lutey announced their plan to create a regional road safety task force that will constantly monitor illegal activities on the road.

She added that the plan was still under further study and should it’s creation happen, the road safety task force might include the LTO, PNP, Highway Patrol Group, Land Transportation and Regulatory Board, and the Public Safety Officers of every municipality.

“Road crash is preventable. It is part of our social responsibility,” Lutey said.

She added that the right term to be used from now on is road crash rather than road accident.

Le Tour de Filipinas officials urge youth to embrace sports

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Organizers of Le Tour de Filipinas, who chose the nearly perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano here as backdrop of the 10th edition of the professional road bicycle race, urged the youth to embrace and engaged in sports.

“We are inspiring them (youth) by doing sports activities like this, by showing them what is like and how it is done, we want to show them the excitement and engagement of this sport,” said Donna May Lina, president of Le Tour de Filipinas, in a press conference on Wednesday (May 23).

She said 75 cyclists, representing 11 foreign teams and four local clubs, will participate in the five-stage 2019 Le Tour de Filipinas slated from June 14 to 18.

The foreign cycling teams with five riders each will come from Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Iran.

On the other hand, the local teams representing the Philippines are 7-Eleven Cliqq AIR21 RBP; Go for Gold; Philippine National Team and Bike Extreme.

Lina said the Tagaytay City climb and the winding roads leading to and from Donsol will test the mettle of the 75 cyclists.

The race will kick off on June 14 with a short yet demanding 129.50-kilometer Stage 1 in Tagaytay City to be followed by 194.90-km Stage 2 from Pagbilao, Quezon to Deat, Camarines Norte on June 15; Stage 3’s 183.70-km stretch from Daet to Legazpi City on June 16; and, Stage 4’s 176-km race from Legazpi City via Sorsogon and Gubat and back to Albay on June 17.

The final stage covering 145.80-km race will be held on June 18 in Donsol, Sorsogon.

Lina said Legazpi City became a favorite site for Le Tour de Filipinas due its warm welcome, organized route and clean air.

“We want to elevate the level of race organizing and the level of engagement” she said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Noel Rosal expressed gratitude to the organizers for giving Legazpi City the opportunity to be exposed internationally.

"It will be an honor for us here in Legazpi, this time it will focus not only the rural areas of our provinces but will also showcase outskirts area in our provinces,” Rosal said.

DOST launches regional invention fair

By Dhel Nazario

The Department of Science and Technology Region V (DOST-V) in partnership with the Technology Application and Promotions Institute (DOST-TAPI) and various science and technology networks in the region will conduct the 2019 Bicol Regional Invention Contests and Exhibits (BRICE) on October.

The event will be held in Legazpi City, back to back with the Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) Celebration.

BRICE is conducted every other year, alternately with the National Invention Contests and Exhibits (NICE) pursuant to Section 4 Republic Act no. 7459, also known as “Inventors and Invention Incentives Act of the Philippines”.

As a regional competition, BRICE recognizes outstanding inventive and creative works in five categories namely: Outstanding Invention (Tuklas Award); Outstanding Utility Model (UM); Outstanding Industrial Design (ID); Outstanding Creative Research (Likha Award) in two sub-categories: government funded and private funded; and Outstanding Student Creative Research (Sibol Award) for high school and college students.

Also, BRICE serves as qualifying round and the regional champions compete during NICE in November of the following year.

Qualified inventors, individual designers, makers, and professional/student researchers are required to submit their BRICE entries together with the necessary documents completely filled up, signed by contestants and notarized entry forms to DOST V, Regional Center Site, Rawis, Legazpi City on or before September 6 until 5 in the afternoon.

Pre-screening of entries is set on September 9. Only the owners of qualified entries shall be notified for their participation in BRICE. Interested participants can visit the website

DSWD Bicol offers 3,670 jobs for Listahanan

By Sally Atento-Altea (SAA/DSWD5-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Office 5 is currently accepting applications for at least 3,760 workers for the 3rd round of Listahanan household assessment.

“With this, we can check the progress in the lives of the previously identified poor and determine a new set of poor households who will be prioritized as recipients of government’s programs,” DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia said.

The assessment will be conducted from July-December this year.

Bicol region ranked fifth among the 17 regions nationwide with the highest targets for assessment, which will cover 1,143,846 households regionwide.

With this target, the agency needs to engage 3,670 workers. This comprises 2,383 Enumerators, 477 Area Supervisors, 95 Area Coordinators, 477 Encoders, and 238 Verifiers.

The DSWD advises all job seekers to prepare their application letters and resume for submission to the DSWD Field Office V at Magnolia St. PBN, Buraguis, Legazpi City.

Other details of the vacancies have been posted in DSWD and PIA Albay Facebook pages and other information bulletins.

Deadline of application is on May 24, 2019.

Meanwhile, Garcia encouraged the public to participate in the household assessment to be conducted this year. The public must be aware and should have close coordination with the barangay officials for the schedule of assessment.

“The participation of the community is very essential, that’s why we wanted them to get involve to ensure that no poor households should be left behind,” Garcia said.

The first Listahanan database was completed in 2011 wherein 461,242 households were identified as poor in the Bicol region. The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) has been its main user.

In 2015, the DSWD has identified 372,451 poor households out of the 1,082,582 households assessed in the region. From this, beneficiaries were identified for the department’s Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT), a cash aid given to the poorest of the poor in effect from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

Under Executive Order 867, all national government agencies (NGAs) are mandated to use the Listahanan data for their programs and services to the poor.Likewise, the DSWD should update the data every four years.

Other national government agencies such as Philhealth, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), among others, use the Listahanan data for their poverty reduction programs.

Listahanan is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are. The list of poor makes available to national government agencies (NGAs) and other social protection stakeholders which serves as the basis in identifying beneficiaries of their programs and services thus allows them to focus resources to those who need assistance the most.

Newly-elected city councilors vow to support Legazpi City’s programs

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The newly-elected members of the city council have vowed to enact ordinances and adopt resolutions that would support the administration’s programs and projects for the city's continuous prosperity.

Reelected Vice Mayor Robert Bobby Cristobal, in an interview on Wednesday, said he will support programs that would create more job opportunities to spur economic activities in the city.

“We will maintain the harmonious relationship with all members of the city council and the executive department in order to improve the basic services to the people,” said Cristobal, a former provincial board member.

He said that in the absence of a lawyer among the council members, the hiring of a legal consultant to help with legal matters is in order to make sure that all transactions in the city are legal.

Reelected City Councilor Vince Baltazar III said he will continue to push for programs that would benefit the youth, such as those on sports development; improve health care services; and ensure the construction of farm-to-market roads and other infrastructures.

He noted that he will support the implementation of the 911 Communications and Emergency Response Center and other efforts to improve peace and order in the city.

Baltazar started his career in politics when he was only 17 years old. He was elected as Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairman of Barangay 13, Ilawod West and served as SK Federation president in Legazpi City from 2007 to 2010.

In 2010, he was elected vice president of the Liga ng mga Barangay and became an ex-officio member of the city council until 2013. He topped three consecutive local elections from 2013 until 2019 as regular member of the city council.

For newly-elected City Councilor Diego Obido, the creation of a special committee on media relations is needed to maintain the good partnership between the city administration and the media industry.

“I also want to establish a barangay special day as one way of (bringing) services closer to the people in the community,” Obido said.

He also plans to sponsor ordinances and resolutions that would strengthen the programs and projects for senior citizens and women’s organizations.

A broadcaster-turned-politician, Obido is a newcomer city councilor, ranking eighth in the recently conducted mid-term elections.

Councilor Lilian Ramirez, meanwhile, said she will support the program of the city’s tourism industry and the business sector to improve the city’s economic standing.

She noted that she will also support the education sector to provide high-quality education to students.

Ramirez is a retired teacher, a former punong barangay of Oro Site, and a city councilor on her last term.

Fishermen discover P5.3-cocaine in Albay

By Niño Luces

CAMP OLA, Albay – A brick of suspected cocaine worth about P5.3 million was found by two fishermen at the shores of Minaulang Palay, Barangay Calanaga, Rapu-Rapu town in Albay last Sunday.

Police Major Malu Calubaquib, spokesperson of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5), said Adonis Bellen y Bolaños, 59, and Alvin Bellen y Alfonso, 35, both fishermen and residents of Barangay Nagcalsot, Rapu-Rapu, Albay, found the illegal drug weighing at least one kilo at the rocky portion of the shore.

The illegal drug was turned over by the fishermen, accompanied by barangay officials, to the Rapu-Rapu Municipal Police Station (MPS) and then later turned over to Regional Crime Laboratory in Camp General Simeon Ola, in Legazpi City for examination.

According to Cotton Yuson-Talento, spokesperson of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Bicol, the recovered drug has an estimated street value of P5.3 million.

Man killed in mauling incident in Tabaco City

By Mark Francis Banay [Inquirer Southern Luzon/ Julie Espinosa (Editor)]

TABACO CITY — A 47-year-old man died after being hit with a rock several times in a village here on Sunday, police said Monday.

A report from the Tabaco City police, said that according to witnesses, Irineo Casquejo of Malinao, Albay, was having a drinking session with a group of men when one of them suddenly grabbed a rock and smashed him repeatedly, which led to his death in Barangay San Isidro at around 3:30 p.m.

On Monday, policemen were still looking for the unidentified suspect who fled after the incident.

Youth officials, cancer patient among PPCRV volunteers in Albay

By Mavic Conde (

Meet some of the volunteers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting in Albay

ALBAY, Philippines – They assisted in the midterm election as poll watchers, documenters, and stand-ins at the command center.

They stayed until the election returns had been secured, monitored the transmission, and remained available for a rescheduled feeding because of a breakdown of a vote counting machine (VCM) or a Secure Digital (SD) card malfunction.

The election volunteers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) performed all these tasks without getting anything in return.

The youth volunteers

Mark Anthony Bongalbal and Maybelle Bogñalbal served as poll watchers in the 2019 midterm elections in Tabaco City. They helped voters find their names and corresponding precinct numbers, wrote down the information on a sheet of paper, and gave it to the voters.

They reported inconsistencies – from non-working machines, names that should not be on the voter’s list, and later during the vote counting (if there was any).

For the two youth volunteers, putting such skills into practice are among the benefits of volunteering. Both agreed that it helped enhance skills they needed as youth leaders, from being patient to being organized. Mark is a Sangguniang Kabataan chairman and May is an SK treasurer.

Mark said his mother had discouraged him to become a volunteer because it was tiring and he would not get paid for it, but he persisted, as he wanted to do his part in the midterm elections.

Other volunteers from Tabaco city were teachers. They went around voting precincts in Tabaco to give snacks and collect incidence reports.

The cancer patient

Salvacion Basaysay has been a PPCRV volunteer in Daraga, Albay since 2009. Majority of those assigned at the Daraga North Elementary School were repeat volunteers, in their 40s.

Only two of them were youth volunteers, both not of voting age.

Once in a while, Basaysay would be greeted by a millennial voter. She told the two youth volunteers that they were former PPCRV youth volunteers who were already working professionals.

She told the youth volunteers that they should be voting already, so that they could appreciate the procedure and what needed to be guarded. (READ: Youth and elections: Is there such a thing as a 'youth vote'?)

One of the youth volunteers said she decided to serve as she was on her summer break. She also hoped to encourage the participation of more youth volunteers from her barangay in the next elections.

According to Basaysay, youth mobilization should start at the barangay level through the barangay pastoral council and, ideally, in cooperation with SK leaders.

She later revealed in the conversation that she's a cancer patient, though it didn’t show except for the dark spots around her eyes.

“While I undergo treatments, I don’t condition my mind that I am sick,” said Basaysay, adding that she was also careful not to overextend herself.

In Tiwi, Albay, there were 39 PPCRV youth and 11 adult volunteers.

According to PPRCV Tiwi president Jing Colina, the parish Youth Commission was in charge of recruiting volunteers.

The high number of volunteers was natural because the assigned team knew where to look for them, said Colina.

They stayed up until 2 am to receive election returns and for a quick count.

It proved that with the right team, more youth volunteers can be encouraged to join.

Albay elections peaceful, results credible despite glitches in VCMs, SD cards

By Sally Atento-Altea (SAA-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY, (PIA) – The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has affirmed the conduct of credible and peaceful elections in Albay despite defects in vote counting machines (VCMs) and SD cards.

“Election in Albay has been generally peaceful. The PNP has not reported any untoward incidents,” Commission on Election Albay election officer Atty. Neil Canicula said.

Credibility despite glitches

Canicula reported 116 re-configurated SD cards and a total of 38 technically defective VCMs, 15 of which are in Tabaco, 10 in Legazpi and 13 in Daraga.

“Delay is the only effect of defective VCMs and SD cards. There were no changes in vote,” Canicula said.

“The VCMs are reliable. The VCMs encountered technical problems but once restored, they performed with perfect outputs,” he added.

The election officer also denied allegations of tampering or cheating due to reported difference in ballot votes and voter’s receipt.

“COMELEC has conducted automated election system since 2010. None of the election protests questioning the accuracy and validity of the PCOS and VCM proved that results were affected. In fact, we have measures like the final testing and sealing just to test the accuracy of the vote,” Canicula added.

To further check and verify the electronically transmitted result, COMELEC will be conducting Random Manual Audit (RAM) in selected clustered precincts in the province.

“RAM will not be done in the field but in a center in Metro Manila. For Albay, polling precincts in Sto.Domingo, Legazpi City and Ligao City have been chosen,” he said.

Canicula also noted the presence of teachers in the electoral boards to ensure the integrity of the election.

“Let us not forget that most of our electoral boards are public school teachers from the Department of Education. I am 100% confident that they protected their integrity, profession and commitment to the Filipino people,” stressed Canicula.


The election officer said the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Albay has not reported official complaints and apprehensions on vote buying.

“There were no official result on vote buying complaints and apprehensions according to PNP provincial director PCOL Wilson Asueta,” Canicula said.

Business and leisure in Legazpi City

By Bernard L. Supetran

Dubbed the ‘City of Fun and Adventure,’ it is the aerial gateway and regional center of Bicolandia

Legazpi City, the provincial capital of Albay, is widely known as home to the iconic Mayon Volcano which towers over the Bicol region.

But beyond this Instagrammable geological monument, the city is a rising urban and tourism hub which has been literally living under its shadow for the longest time.

Dubbed the “City of Fun and Adventure,” Legazpi City is the aerial gateway and regional center of Bicolandia. Because of its numerous, cheaper flights, it serves as the alternate airport for Masbate, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes, aside from servicing regular passengers from Albay and Sorsogon. There are also daily flights to Cebu, which connects Legazpi to Visayas and Mindanao.

The new Bicol International Airport, slated to be completed by 2020, can accommodate 2 million passengers annually. Hailed by the Department of Transportation as the “most scenic gateway,” it is located in the neighboring Daraga town and is connected by Legazpi Boulevard, one of the longest bay roads outside Metro Manila.

The road, which hugs Albay Gulf, has spurred appreciation of real estate along the sleepy coastal barangays, and has transformed the area into a tourism and recreational zone. Also being developed along the boulevard is the Dapdap Waterfront Park which will have an esplanade, amphitheater, beach volleyball court, elderly fitness yard, children’s playground and skateboard court.

Convention City

In recent years, Legazpi made its mark by hosting a series of national and international conferences and events because of its convention facilities, good hotel facilities, urban amenities and ease of movement.

Recognizing the potential of the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) sector, the city government itself built its own convention center adjacent to the airport to supplement the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation and the province-run Albay Astrodome. This market accounts for bulk of the city’s 1.2 million annual foreign and domestic tourists.

A sought-after venue is the four-star The Oriental Legazpi, arguably the best in Bicol which started luring convention goers when it was opened in 2011 by the home-grown LKY Group of Companies. The 112-room Department of Tourism-accredited lodging boasts of a grand ballroom with a 1,200-seat theater-type capacity, six function rooms, three dining outlets, a spa, a fitness gym and an infinity pool with a stunning view of Mayon.

Its concessionaire, Donsol Eco-Tour offers package tours to attendees and their families, such as all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rides at the lava trail, butanding or whaleshark interaction in Donsol, heritage tours around Albay and scuba diving in Masbate and Legazpi.

Beefing up the city’s room inventory is the newly-opened 83-room The Oriental Hotel Albay in the downtown area, the former site of a luxe accommodation in the 1990s. Upon completion, the hotel will have three dining outlets, a pool, gym, wellness spa and souvenir shops. Also set to be built at the back of the hotel is a convention center that can accommodate up to 3,000 guests.

As Bicolandia’s transport hub, the city government entered into a trailblazing joint venture agreement in 2009 with the LKY Group’s Grand Terminal Management Services Inc. for the development and operation of an integrated terminal for public utility vehicles.

A first of its kind in Southern Luzon, the 4-ha transport facility is strategically located at the central business district, which houses the newly-opened SM City, the LCC Ayala Mall, Gaisano Mall and old downtown area. The terminal recently underwent a massive upgrading to ensure a comfortable commuting experience within the region.

The city plays a focal role in the metropolitan area being crafted by former Albay Governor and now Rep. Joey Salceda, who intends to come up with an integrated plan for the province’s second district.

Called the Guicadale Corridor, the concept aims to synergize the tourism and business potentials in the towns of Guinobatan, Camalig, and Daraga, and benefit from Legazpi’s unprecedented economic boom.

Business-friendly climate

Aside from its natural allure, one of its magnets for firms is its business-friendly climate, stability of the political landscape, and peace and order situation.

According to City Mayor Noel Rosal, Legazpi was named the country’s Most Business-Friendly City (Component City Category) last year by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

The prestigious award, which was conferred during the 44th Philippine Business Conference, highlighted the efforts of local government units (LGUs) in implementing good governance reforms to promote trade and investments, employment, transparency, accountability and efficiency in delivering business services.

He noted that some P30 billion worth of investments have been poured into Legazpi’s economy in the retail sector, property, tourism and business process outsourcing by various conglomerates and local businesses for the past 10 years.

Rosal also disclosed that the local city council has enacted an investment and incentive code to promote entrepreneurship by encouraging micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) among its residents.

The city was also cited by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as a Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) Hall of Famer for bagging the award from 2016 to 2018.

Earlier in 2014, it ranked second in the Livable Cities Design Challenge by the National Competitiveness Council and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.

So as Legazpi marks its 60th charter day next month, travelers to the city can only look forward to more bright prospects for both business and leisure, apart from gazing at Mayon’s mesmerizing, perfect cone.

DSWD-Bicol to hire 3.6K workers for Listahanan program

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will hire 3,670 workers for the Listahanan program that will assess 1.1 million households in the Bicol region.

DSWD 5 (Bicol) Director Arnel Garcia, in an interview on Thursday, said through the Listahanan, the department can check the progress in the lives of the previously identified poor households and determine a new set that will be given priority as beneficiaries of government programs.

"The hiring of 2,383 enumerators, 477 area supervisors, 95 area coordinators, 477 encoders, and 238 verifiers will start in June as part of the preparations for the third round of household assessment to be conducted in July to December of this year," Garcia said.

He advised all jobseekers to prepare their application letters and resumes for submission to the agency as soon as the authority to hire has been approved and details of the vacancies have been posted on the DSWD Facebook page and other information bulletins.

The director also encouraged the public to participate in the household assessment to be conducted this year. “The participation of the community is very essential, that’s why we want them to get involved to ensure that no poor household should be left behind,” Garcia said.

The Listahanan is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are. The list of indigent citizens is made available to national government agencies and other social protection stakeholders and serves as the basis in identifying beneficiaries of their programs and services, thus allowing them to focus resources to those who need assistance the most.

National government agencies that use the Listahanan data for their poverty reduction programs include the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, and Commission on Higher Education.

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