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earthquake, typhoon resilient classrooms

Bicol chosen as pilot area

By Rhaydz Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY --- Starting this year, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will be constructing typhoon and earthquake resilient public school buildings in the Bicol region that could withstand typhoons with the strength of 300 kilometers per hour. “Bicol will be the pilot area for the country’s first and strongest public school buildings that could withstand stronger typhoons,” disclosed DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, who came here to check the status of rehabilitation efforts, particularly in Albay and Camarines Sur, which were devastated by typhoon Nina on Christmas day. He said current public infrastructures like public school buildings could only withstand typhoons with the strength of 255 kph. Villar said that as natural calamities get intense due to climate change, the government will have to build the country’s first typhoon and earthquake-proof public school buildings in disaster-prone Bicol. “For single public school classrooms, the department is [presently] allocating a budget of P1.2M but with the new master plan for disaster mitigation, the budget will be doubled,” the public works secretary said. He said under the 2017 budget, the department has allocated funds for disaster mitigation that include the construction of school buildings. “The goal is not only to use the public school infrastructure for evacuation but to serve as a lasting structure conducive for learning,” said Villar. Earlier, the Department of Education (DepEd) in Bicol reported an initial damage of P1.1B to public school buildings and P34M to non-infrastructure assets during the post-assessment briefing of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council here. Roy Bañas, DepEd-Bicol information officer, said that in Albay alone, there were 186 classrooms totally damaged by typhoon Nina that need a budget of P223.2M for their rehabilitation. He said there were 625 classrooms totally damaged or in need of replacement in 3,827 public schools from elementary to senior high school in the whole Bicol region with damage estimated at P750M. Aside from this, there were 1,082 classrooms in the region that were partially damaged and in need of major repairs with estimated cost to reach P378M. Banas added there were 988 classrooms more that need of minor repairs at the cost of P14.82M. Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri of the Senate committee on finance said he would ask Congress to double the budget for public school infrastructures to lessen the impact of disasters in regions. As to the other infrastructure development programs in the country, Villar said he aims to build a superhighway from La Union to Bicol as a major thrust of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. “The President believes that infrastructure projects could breed massive development, open new business opportunities and (generate) employment,” he said. Villar said there will be road widening and bypass roads from Legazpi City to Daraga town in Albay while an expressway will be built in Naga City in Camarines Sur to decongest traffic in the area. “More environmentally-friendly projects will also be put up across the country such as bike lanes and walkable roads for the public to lessen carbon footprints,” he said. Villar said the government has allocated a multi-billion peso budget for 2017 to address traffic congestion problems in the country, specifically in Metro Manila, by establishing more access roads and superhighways. “Ultimately, I want to have a superhighway in Luzon from north to south, that would include Bicol, before the President’s term ends,” said Villar. He said he was in Bicol to look into the possibility of pursuing a superhighway from Lucena to Bicol or from La Union to Matnog, Sorsogon. Villar said he is also studying if there could be six to eight lanes in Bicol International Airport’s (BIA) access road as the existing two lanes could not accommodate the big volume of vehicles that would be moving to and from the international airport once it becomes operational here.

50 grams of shabu puts man in jail for lifetime

By Juan Escandor Jr.

NAGA CITY--- For selling to a narcotics agent 50 grams of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) with a street value of P120,000, a jobless father in the village of Sagrada Familia (Isla Sison) in this city has been sentenced to spend his lifetime in jail which a regional trial court (RTC) judge imposed on Jan. 10. RTC Branch 27 Judge Leo Intia found Alfredo Comprado Badilla “guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal sale methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu” and “hereby sentenced to suffer life imprisonment, to pay a fine in the amount of (P500,000) and to pay the cost of suit.” Two years before the nationwide anti-drug campaign of President Duterte, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Camarines Sur launched a drug-buy-bust operation on Oct. 15, 2014 in Isla Sison, a notorious enclave of poor neighborhood beside the Naga River known for illegal drug activities. According to the testimony of PDEA Agent Samuel Detera, he was designated poseur-buyer of the planned buy-bust operation with a P500 marked bill over a wad of bogus ones while Agent Arnel Lasay designated as the arresting officer. Accompanied by a confidential informant, Detera, and Lasay who stayed close to the two who did the transaction, proceeded to the house of Badilla at past 7 p.m. to buy 50 grams of shabu. Reaching the house of the target of the operation, the confidential informant knocked on the door of Badilla who told them to wait outside and after a few minutes the illegal drug dealer went out of the house carrying a red cigarette case. The confidential informant introduced Detera to Badilla as a pusher from Legazpi City who came to buy the illegal item in Naga City because it is cheaper here. Badilla handed the red cigarette case to Badilla who examined and confirmed it to be suspected shabu then handed the wad of bogus money topped by the marked P500 bill. Upon receipt of the supposed bundle of cash by Badilla, Detera took off his cap which signaled Lasay that the transaction had been consummated. Lasay, who was about 50 meters from where the transaction took place, rushed towards them and introduced themselves as agents of PDEA. At that point, Badilla threw away the buy-bust money and then he ran towards his house but he was caught by the PDEA agents upon reaching the stairs. Badilla was arrested and the pieces of evidence were inventoried and photographed to be used in court. The suspected shabu that came from Badilla was tested and confirmed by forensic chemist Meden Listanco as shabu when it turned blue during the laboratory test, which was presented to the court. Badilla testified in court that on Oct. 15, 2014 at around 7:30 in the evening, he was at home when he heard gun being fired that he figured out coming from Peñafrancia Avenue, though he did not bother. He said his daughter was at the door of their house when it happened. He said while he was about to get out of the house a man approached him and pointed his gun to him and arrested him. He said before he was arrested his in-laws called him to ask for money. Badilla said after he was arrested, the law enforcers brought him to the Civic Center, thereafter he said, a village councilor arrived. He said he was not able to go back home because he was already arrested. He confessed to the court that he was previously charged selling shabu at the RTC Branch 62 on May 15, 2013. He was working that time as laborer. It was his wife who posted the bail for him. But in 2014, he was already jobless and his wife has left him. In rendering his decision, Judge Intia has determined that the essential elements for conviction had been established. These are: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object of sale, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment thereof. “In prosecutions for illegal sale of shabu, what is material is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti as evidence.”

City dad warns of power coop exec’s ejection over failure to restore power

By Juan Escandor Jr.

NAGA CITY---A city councilor here, with a prepared resolution, has warned an executive of the power coop serving the towns in the third district of Camarines Sur to recommend his dismissal from his position if he fails to deliver the promise of 100 percent restoration of power in the 27 villages in this city. City Councilor Joselito Del Rosario, during the regular session last Tuesday, Jan. 16, warned the dismissal of Orlando Andres, current acting general manager and National Electrification Administration’s project supervisor of the Camarines Sur II Electric Cooperative (Casureco II), from his task here if he cannot deliver his promise to restore 100 percent the power supply in Naga City. Del Rosario showed the media his prepared resolution to recommend the removal of Andres from his assignment here on the grounds of unsatisfactory performance. Andres on Monday (Jan. 16) reported that the power restoration in the coverage area of Naga City was 88 percent and that it will be completed on Saturday (Jan. 21). He said the coverage areas of Casureco II are the hardest hit by Typhoon Nina that ravaged Camarines Sur in the evening of Christmas Day, from 9-12 p.m. Andres said the biggest damages to the power lines of Casureco II were experienced in the towns of Pili and Minalabac and upper portion of Naga City. He said the linemen of Casureco II immediately buckled up the following day to clear and restore the damaged power lines at the same requesting assistance from the NEA to mobilize a task force to beef up manpower and hire local electricians to expedite power restoration. Andres said linemen from Camarines Norte Electric Cooperative, Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative, Samar I Electric Cooperative, Samar II Electric Cooperative, Northern Samar Electric Cooperative and Benguet Electric Cooperatives immediately arrived to help restore the collapsed power lines. He added that Meralco has also extended help in the rehabilitation and service dropping activities in the Casureco II service areas as well as local government units and the Department of Public Works and Highways in the clearing operations. Andres said Casureco II has submitted to NEA a P36M partial damage report “for possible funding through a calamity loan or subsidy” even though he said the total damage reported has reached P80M. He said the power coop immediately purchased needed materials for the restoration through consignment and credit bases with the target to completely restore power in all the coverage areas of Casureco II on or before Jan. 31. Focusing his report in Naga, Andres said all the 27 villages were affected with 187 poles damaged, 10 units of transformers destroyed, and 180,000 meters of cables and wires snapped. He said there are two substations located in Concepcion with two units of 20 MVA and Del Rosario with one unit of 20 MVA. He said in Concepcion, feeders 1, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 18 are located and the substation in Del Rosario were energize by the National Grid Corp. on Dec. 26, 27, and 30. Andres said the status of backbone and lateral lines in Naga City as of Jan. 16 are as follow: Concepcion Pequeña and Triangulo the percentage of completion is 100 percent for backbone lines and 99 percent for lateral; Concepcion Pequeña and Centro Naga are 100 percent completed; Concepcion Pequeña, Milaor and Minalabac are 90 percent for backbone lines and 70 percent for lateral lines; Concepcion Pequeña, Magsaysay and Bagumbayan are 100 percent for backbone lines and 98 percent for lateral lines. He added that for Pacol, San Isidro, Cararayan, San Felipe and Carolina are 75 percent for backbone lines and 50 percent for lateral lines; Del Rosario going to Pili and Naga Airport are 100 percent for backbone lines and 45 percent for lateral lines; Del Rosario to Concepcion Pequeña is 100 percent for backbone lines and 90 percent for lateral lines; Del Rosario to Concepcion Grande is 100 percent for backbone lines and 90 percent of lateral lines. Andres said out of the 27 villages in Naga City, only one village (Panicuason) has no power as of Jan. 16 but out of 58,000 households that lost its power supply, some 52,000 households have already been re-energized. The city councilor has asked assurance from Andres the completion of the power restoration of all the households in Naga City on the deadline set on Jan. 21. Andres, however, told the council that restoration of power supply in all households in Naga City may not be achieved if problems like the lack of transformer crops up that they cannot immediately provide. Andres also assured the city council there is no “favoritism” going on in prioritizing the areas to be energized. He said the actual situation of the damage in the service areas sets the pace of restoration works where the lesser the damage the faster power supply will be restored.

Robredo election lawyer: Poll fraud proven? Marcos camp ‘hallucinating’

By Patty Pasion

MANILA --- Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the camp of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr was “hallucinating or dreaming” when it claimed that the supposed data found in unused SD cards by the Commission on Election (Comelec) is proof of poll fraud. Macalintal said Tuesday, January 17, the alleged data cannot prove Marcos’ allegation that Robredo and the Liberal Party orchestrated cheating during the last elections because the process of decryption is not yet complete. “The data from some of these 13 SD cards have not yet been decrypted, meaning they are still in encrypted form and have not yet been converted to its original form for an ordinary layman to understand their full contents,” said Vice President Leni Robredo’s chief legal counsel. ?? Macalintal also mocked the Marcos camp for having “bionic eyes” that allowed them to read and “immediately claim” the encrypted data was evidence of cheating. ?“Such baseless claim and allegations only prove that they do not understand the process in an election protest involving automated elections,” said Macalintal. The camp of the defeated vice presidential candidate asserted on Monday that the data found in the SD cards of unused vote-counting machines (VCMs) provide a basis for protesting Robredo’s victory. Marcos’ legal counsel Vic Rodriguez said that if the supposedly clean and sealed SD cards contain data, then it’s proof the automated election system was manipulated. (READ: Marcos camp: Data in unused SD cards prove poll fraud) Macalintal, however, reminded the camp that the basis for winning the protest is not the SD cards but the ballots cast in the VCMs compared to election documents such as the election returns and statement of votes. “This election protest has still a long way to go,” said Macalintal. “Not even a single ballot has been presented to the PET (Presidential Electoral Tribunal), hence, it is indeed ridiculous if not totally frivolous for the Marcos camp to make such a wide and speculative claim of massive fraud, and even think of victory at this stage of the election protest,” he added. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez earlier said it is better for the camps to wait for the completion of the decryption process – the results of which will be forwarded to the PET.

Japan to infuse 1 trillion Yen to PH business

MANILA --- Japan will help support the creation of business opportunities in the Philippines worth 1 trillion yen, announced a top Japanese government official. “Japan will support to create business opportunities approximately 1 trillion yen level for over the next five years, including a Japanese ODA, Official Development Assistance and private investments for the Philippines,” said Japanese Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura. Kawamura who is in the country with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, spoke at a press briefing in Malacañang for local and foreign media on Thursday, January 12. The Japanese Press Secretary said to realize this 1 trillion support to the Philippine economy, Japan would establish a joint committee on economic cooperation and infrastructure and would also send experts to the National Economic Development Authority. He also said Japan will contribute to infrastructure development in the Philippines in transportation and electric generation by taking advantage of the Japanese technology. Kawamura said Japan will spur the development of Davao City and the conflict affected areas in the country through support in irrigation, road construction, power generation and education. To strengthen the security of the country and its anti-terrorism efforts, Japan will provide security related equipment, according to Kawamura. The Japanese official said in the area of maritime security and defense, Japan will support through capacity building, equipment and training exercises. Kawamura also expressed Abe’s desire to cooperate proactively on the issues of the region together with the Philippines as the Chair of ASEAN. “The ASEAN’s solidarity and centrality should be strengthened and it is important to develop ASEAN as an open community,” said Kawamura. On the South China Sea, Kawamura underscored the importance of the rule of law and its peaceful resolution. Commenting on Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Davao particularly to the hometown of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, he said that is something the Prime Minister is really looking forward to. Finally, Kawamura repeated what President Duterte said during the latter’s official visit to Japan: “Japan and the Philippines are not simply friends but we are more than that. We are brothers.” “So this represents how our two countries are close in terms of relations. This is an eloquent reflection of the existing confidence, trust to the Philippines,” added Kawamura.

‘Oplan Goodbye Bulate’ intensified

By Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol, along with local government units (LGUs), has intensified its deworming campaign called “Oplan Goodbye Bulate” among the young population of the region of 2.5M who are aged 18 years and below. Dr. Janish Alcala-Arellano, DOH cluster program coordinator, said the deworming activity is being conducted to achieve a “100-percent bulate (worms)-free” population in Bicol. She said deworming for the 5- to 18-year-old age group is being conducted in all public schools while those pupils enrolled in private schools need to avail of the medicines in their communities through their Rural Health Units (RHUs). Arellano said the 1- to 4-year-old population will be provided with medicines during their communities’ scheduled deworming activity. She said they see an estimated 2.5 million children as the target population of “Oplan Goodbye Bulate” in Bicol. Arellano said the target population is 605,438 for ages 1 to 4; 1,403,262 for ages 5-14; and 497,940 for ages 15 to 18. She explained that the DOH campaign also seeks to address the fears and myths associated with deworming as it conducts a “harmonized schedule and mass drug administration” in public and private schools nationwide against the soil-transmitted worms called helminthiasis or STH. Arellano clarified that the deworming activity is also a year-round activity of the DOH, along with the LGUs and Department of Education, as school-aged children enrolled in private schools and children who are not in enrolled in the public school system may avail of the free deworming services at health centers, RHUs and barangay health stations in their respective localities. She said the program aims to deworm approximately 19 million school-aged children enrolled in public schools (Kindergarten to K12) and some 23 million pre-school and school-aged children not enrolled in public schools within a month nationwide. Arellano said the “National School Deworming Month” is not a new campaign of the DOH. “In 2015, it was already administered in public schools. We will continue this campaign twice a year, particularly in January and July,” she said. Arellano assured the public that all medicines distributed are certified by the World Health Organization and Food and Drug Administration. She dismissed misconceptions on the anti-bulate (worms) medicines and appealed to the parents and guardians not to believe in wrong information being circulated in social media and community. “The administration of medicines is voluntary and will not be implemented without the consent forms filled up by the parent or guardian of the child in public elementary schools,” said Arellano. She said just like any other drug, taking deworming drugs may lead to minimal side effects like dizziness, nausea, headache and vomiting. “These effects are transient, minor, self-limiting and disappear after some time and can easily be managed with remedies like resting in a quiet room for a few hours and providing water mixed with sugar to the patient,” Arellano said.

Soldiers mount relief efforts

in typhoon-hit Albay villages

By Ana-Liza S. Macatangay

NAGA CITY --- Just days after the onslaught of tropical cyclone “Nina”, army troopers brought relief goods to disaster-stricken towns in Albay, playing gift-giver to people brought to their knees by what disaster officials described as the strongest to strike the Bicol region in 10 years. Members of the Army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion led by 2Lt. Marlon Urbano handed out food packs to a number of villagers in Tiwi and Polangui, two of the towns in Albay that took the brunt of the typhoon. In Barangays Dapdap and Libjo in Tiwi alone, 110 families received the relief goods from the uniformed relief team. The relief mission, which also involved the Deparment of Social Welfare and Development, the Journey Church Foundation, Polangui Vice Mayor Herbert Borja, and the town council, received warm welcome from villagers. In the town of Sangay, Camarines Sur, another army team led by Sgt. Rocky Bumalay undertook repair work at Bolo Elementary School. The partners of the soldiers in the school rehabilitation were the parents of pupils and the teaching staff. School principal Rufino Nuiñez expressed gratitude to Bumalay’s team, saying the rehabilitation was faster with the soldiers’ help and the equipment that they had. Urbano said their relief mission was part of their humanitarian duty to help the victims of disasters. With report from LTCatuday/PA

HS education inaccessible in

upland village in Albay

By Mike dela Rama

OAS, Albay --- Like many other teenagers in Barangay Bogtong in Oas, Albay, Norelyn Minas, 17, is a high school dropout. The rough terrain and poor road network in the upland village of Bogtong have made it difficult for young people in the community to get a high school education in the nearest public school in Oas town or neighboring Ligao City. The eighth among the nine children of a coconut farmer, Norelyn said she managed to finish only first year high school in a private school in adjacent Barangay Badian. She said she stopped going to that school because Badian proved to be inaccessible from Bogtong. She recounted that she used to wake up at 4 a.m. to reach her former school. “From my barangay (Bogtong), I needed to walk for almost two hours and cross rivers four times daily to reach the school,” she said. But during heavy rains, crossing the rivers becomes impossible because of the strong water current. “Sometimes by chance, I am able to commute by riding a motorcycle,” said Norelyn. She said there is no other way to reach the nearest high school from their village. “Our community is located in the upland and it is too dangerous if we will climb the steep mountains just to reach the main road in the neighboring barangay,” said Norelyn. She said she is even lucky she was able to reach first year high school unlike her seven other siblings who finished only elementary school in their barangay. Her youngest sibling, who is eight years old, is still in elementary school. Norelyn said rice and coconut farming are the sources of livelihood of their family of 10 members that include their father. Her mother died sometime last year. Her elder siblings work on the side as charcoal-making helpers where they earn Php150 to Php300 per week. “I am not the only person with the same problem, most of the teenagers in our community intend to finish only elementary,” Norelyn added. Danjoveh Carison, 19, also a resident of Barangay Bogtong, shared Norelyn’s sentiments. He said he could not pursue high school because of poor access roads and transportation. “I need to walk for more than two hours to reach the public high school located in Barangay Cabarian (a coastal area in Ligao City in the western coast of Albay),” said Danjoveh. “Some of our village mates have their own motorcycles while others are using their carabaos as means of transportation,” he said. Danjoveh said this mode of transportation is called “pababa” which means a carabao pulling a wooden cart. “The farmers would have to rely on the carabao’s hard work and patience to get the job done,” he said. Danjoveh said even if he could avail of a school scholarship, another concern would be the school expenses and fees for a boarding house near the public high school. “It is impossible for me to earn,” he said as farm work gives him only P15 per harvest of 100 pieces of coconuts. Prisco Tipano Jr., village chief of Bogtong, affirmed the stories of Norelyn and Danjoveh. He said the coconut farmers need to increase their production so they could send their children to high school but the poor farm-to-market roads make it difficult for them to improve their livelihood. Barangay Bogtong is seven kilometers away from the nearest main road, which is in Barangay Catburawan in Ligao City. Tipano said to help farmers in the village, they seek assistance from government agencies like the Philippine Coconut Authority in Bicol to provide them with seedlings. “Our teenagers should strive hard if they want to have a better future. They need help from the outside community,” he said. This was echoed by Norelyn who said barangay officials were able to provide assistance to elementary pupils in the form of school supplies. But she said “young persons like me” need more help from other government agencies for their high school education. “I want to continue my studies so I can finish even a vocational course. I want to have a better future and earn a living,” said Norelyn.

Post typhoon assessment

for agri-sector kicks off

By Emily B. Bordado

SAN AGUSTIN, Pili, Camarines Sur --- Five government agencies responsible for the agriculture sector have deployed its personnel to conduct damage, loss and needs assessment of the agriculture sector following the devastation wrought by typhoon Nina. The concerned government agencies include the Department of Agriculture (DA); Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic resources (BFAR), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) ; Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PHILFIDA) and the National Irrigation Authority. They are the agencies directly responsible for agri-subsectors for permanent and seasonal crops, coconut, livestock, fisheries fibers and for irrigation facilities. In close coordination with local government counterparts as well as with other agencies and development partners, these agencies will make estimations of destruction of physical assets and of changes in the flow of socio-economic activities. Teams coming from the agencies mentioned includes agriculturists, agronomists, irrigation engineers, fisheries experts, economists, and other professionals who are experts with assessment methodology who will also observe the socio-economic conditions of the affected areas. The assessment report of the individual agencies would be consolidated and submitted to the Office of the Civil Defense and further consolidated. The final PDA willl include the damages and losses for all sectors, the potential impacts, the framework and identified programs and projects for recovery and reconstruction to be presented to the NDRRMC, international development partners and other stakeholders. According to DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Dr. Elena B. de los Santos, she has deployed 21 of its technical personnel grouped into 7 teams for this Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA). Each team consists of three personnel: 1 team for Albay; 4 teams for Camarines Sur; and 2 teams for Catanduanes. Deployment started on January 8 and will last until February 2, this year. Dir. De los Santos added that the PDNA team will also provide technical and logistical assistance to validation team coming from the Central Office and in crafting of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the affected areas.

Catanduanes needs 1 month

more to fully restore power supply

By Connie B.Destura

LEGAZPI CITY --- The entire province of Catanduanes will have to wait for at least a month before its power supply could be fully restored after its power lines were toppled down due to typhoon Nina. Engr. Francis Gianan, technical services department manager of First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative (FICELCO), said they were doing their best to restore the power supply in the province. “But based on our assessment of the damage, it is not possible to restore completely the power lines on the deadline given to us by the Department of Energy (DOE) which is on January 31,” he said. He said FICELCO expects to fully restore the power supply in the entire island province only by February 2017. Gianan said initial reports showed there were 1,219 poles that were damaged while 96 transformers and 141 poles were “tilted” after being hit by strong winds during the typhoon. He said in the 11 towns of Catanduanes: power had been restored in 45 percent of households in Bagamanoc, or those of 8 out of 18 barangays; 22.2 percent in Bato, or 6 of 27 barangays; 51 percent in Caramoran, or 14 of 27 barangays; 53.8 percent in Pandan, or 14 of 26 barangays; 65.2 percent in Panganiban, or 15 of 23 barangays; 5.2 percent in San Andres, or 2 of 38 barangays; 4.17 percent in San Miguel, or 1 in 24 barangays; 67.7 percent in Viga, or 21 of 31 barangays; and 38.10 percent in the capital town of Virac, or 24 of 63 barangays. In the municipalities of Baras and Gigmoto, power lines in their barangays could not be restored because the cables and poles that were toppled down could not be found or recovered. He said, however, that the four power plants in the province remain operational. These are Marinawa Diesel Power Plant (DPP), Balongbong Hydro Power Plant, Viga DPP and Catanduanes Power Generation Inc. DPP.

Gianan said that as of Jan. 12, partial damage to Catanduanes’ power lines have been estimated as P38M.

Local aid group helping in Bicol

typhoon relief efforts

By Ana-Liza S. Macatangay

NAGA CITY, ---“I am thankful to all of you for the big help you have extended to us. Our house was totally destroyed and our things were all soaked in water. Now, we can put something to shelter us.” These were the simple words of Margie San Juan, a mother of 5 from Zone 2, Minalabac town whose house was demolished by typhoon “Nina” (international name: Nock-ten) before 2016 ended. “I am happy because we now have something to shelter us from the sun and the rain,” she said in the dialect of Bicolanos during an interview recently. San Juan was a recipient of TABANG Bicol’s non-food relief goods, consisting of a tarpaulin, blanket and plastic mat. The humanitarian group brought non-food relief items to Camarines Sur, boosting emergency relief operation in the aftermath of the most recent natural disaster to hit Bicol region. TABANG’s relief workers handed out plastic mats, blankets, and tarpaulins in Zone 2, Minalabac, Camarines Sur, which took the brunt of typhoon “Nina” when it came ashore and lashed Southern Luzon in the last week of 2016. Two weeks after the storm and its aftermath drew response from the government and humanitarian groups, many victims seem to have gotten back on their feet. Or, more accurately, people have held onto life. Before Nina struck, Nanay Eden Belano was nestled in a makeshift tent covered with tarpaulin and bamboo poles. She and her two children, a 4-year-old granddaughter and their dog had to live in the street after flood spawned by “Nina” swept the tent. Before Maricris Lazaro became a beneficiary of TABANG Bicol’s relief drive, she and her family lived in their house with relative comfort. Lazaro, who is pregnant with her second child, said their house was blown away by the winds of Nina. More relief operations are slated in the upcoming weeks as TABANG Bicol continues with its relief drive for the homeless victims of typhoon Nina. The group said it will continue to help the displaced people until they have rebuilt their homes and their lives. TABANG Bicol is made up of A-PAD PH Metro Naga, Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce Inc., Tarabang para sa Bicol, Inc., Central Bicol State University of Agriculture, Metro Naga Development Council, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas – Camarines Sur, Philippine Information Agency – Camarines Sur, Mariners Polytechnic Colleges, and Naga City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. (with a report from Jam Madrid-PIA5/Camarines Sur)

Relief assistance in Naga City continues

By Armie B. Gunay

NAGA CITY --- Relief assistance to typhoon-affected families in the city continues since the onslaught of ‘Nina’ on the eve of December 25 last year. Aside from the first 2,000 family food packs released by the City Social Welfare and Development office (CSWDO), another batch of 3,027 packs were distributed to help more typhoon victims within the city’s 27 barangays, with additional non-food items such as blankets, mats, mosquito nets, and scarfs also given out. The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Bicol regional office also sent bulks of tarpaulin canvass as initial aid to those whose houses were blown down or damaged, particularly in the upper barangays of this city, that supplemented the same tarpaulin items distributed to the typhoon victims with displaced homes. The OCD likewise released 500 sacks of rice through the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO). With ample food assistance coming from different groups and institutions – such as SM Foundation, Globe Telecom, Rotary Club of Naga, and many others, the city government with its Bangon Naga relief assistance effort, decided to allocate the excess items as Food for Work program of the city— to serve as an incentive to those who will directly participate as volunteers in the city’s clean-up drives and other post-typhoon assistance programs. “Actually, nagtao man ang OCD nin bagas, 500 sacks, kaya lang, baka gamiton me nalang ito sa Food for Work na lang, si mga ririlinigun pa, kasi kumbaga sa relief, kadakol naman kita sa relief,” explained Ms. Annabel Vargas of the CSWDO. “Ini po dakulang tabang sa lado kan local na gobyerno kan Naga; totoo na dae po sapat an resources kan local na gobyerno, kaya sa tabang po kan mga private groups, private individuals, dakulang tabang po ito para samo,” expressed by Vargas. Meanwhile, the city government, through the City Social Welfare and Development Office continues to distribute the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) for homeowners whose houses were either totally or partially damaged by the last typhoon. The ESA is an emergency cash assistance of the city through cash assistance of P1,000 and P500 for each family with totally and partially damaged houses, respectively. According to assessment after typhoon Nina hit the city last month, 2,617 houses were reported to have been totally damaged, while 18,035 houses more suffered partial damages. Residents of about half of the barangays in the city, according to latest report, had already received their cash assistance. These barangays, to date, include Abella, Sta. Cruz, Lerma, San Francisco, Dayangdang, Bagumbayan Sur and Norte, Tabuco, Del Rosario, Carolina, Panicuason, Igualdad, and San Isidro.

Naga’s clean-up drive marks

January as zero-waste month

By Jason B. Neola

NAGA CITY --- Still on the clearing operations due to the havoc wrought by super typhoon Nina last Christmas, the local government unit here is spearheading a city-wide clean-up that will be held simultaneously along with other local government units in the country to mark the declaration of the month of January as zero-waste month as provided for by Proclamation No. 760 series of 2014. “The national event is also a part of the continuing National Clean-up Day that started in September 2016,” said Regional Director Eva Ocfemia of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environment Management Bureau as she enjoined Mayor John G. Bongat in a letter to conduct clean-up activities with the help of the local communities. Participating in the activity, which will be held tomorrow, January 20, this year, are barangay officials and volunteers, and several hundreds of City Hall employees. Groups of students from different colleges and universities in this city are also expected to join the fray. Personnel from the city engineer’s office will be assigned in the de-clogging of canals, especially in the city’s business districts while most of the employees will engage in clearing operations in the streets. Rural areas will be attended by barangay officials and volunteers living in the city’s upland barangays. Mayor Bongat assured the public that by Sunday, January 22, the entire city are already ridded of the trash left by the super typhoon. This, after Solid Waste Management Office head Engr. Joel P. Martin told newsmen that they are now in the concluding period of the clearing operations they have been undertaking since the day after the tropical cyclone battered the Bicol Region in the evening of December 25, last year. “We are now focusing our debris-gathering operations in residential areas inside the subdivisions and interiors of the city streets outside the Central Business Districts I and II. The remaining days before Sunday will also be spent in the collection of regular household wastes which suffered delays as we have to prioritize the trash left by Nina including the trees that were downed by the typhoon and the cables that fell and made our roads almost inaccessible,” says Martin. Martin sees that by the following months, garbage collection and disposal will become more effective and better because of the efforts being undertaken by the city government under the stewardship of Mayor Bongat, which include the arrival of another 4 new garbage trucks within the year and another 4 by year 2018. He said that plan to dispose his office of old garbage trucks is a part of the city government’s preparation for the operationalization of P104.5M sanitary landfill in Barangay San Isidro. Aside from the trucks, the procurement of several heavy equipment that will be utilized in running the landfill like Bulldozer, Payloader, Grader, Backhoe combination, water tanker, power generator, and water pumps is now being deliberated upon. Martin, however, said that a slash in the budgetary requirement of P101M for the heavy equipments is being considered. Regarding the closure of Balatas dumpsite, Martin reported that they are now just waiting for the date when the facility’s closure plan will finally be implemented. He said that the winning bidder is now making proper coordination with his office to ensure that all the technical requirements are met.

Sabloyon now a favorite

route among motorists and tourists

By Manly M. Ugalde

TABACO CITY --- The once feared 25-kilometer Sabloyon highway is now considered a busy route that motorists and travellers find it most convenient alternative route to Manila and the provinces north of Albay and vice versa. The route was once a haven for highway robbers and skirmishes between government troopers and the rebel New People’s Army. Today, motorists and travellers to Manila from the first district of Albay and the island Catanduanes province no longer have to pass through Legazpi City (2nd district) towards Ligao city (3rd District) on the way to Manila. Tabaco to Legazpi takes 25 kilometers and another 30 kilometers towards Ligao City. The scenic Sabloyon route from Tbaco to Ligao City, on the other hand, is barely 25-kilometer long, slashing off the 30 kilometers that span between between Legazpi and Ligao City. In fact, Sabloyon route is now a favorite route among local and foreign tourists even they wanted to get closer and have a clearer view of the alluring and beautiful perfect-coned Mayon Volcano. Sabloyon has an estimated elevation of more than 4,000 feet above the sea level spanning at least five barangays in between its mid-section overlooking Mayon, according to Albay 1st district engineer Simon Arias. Spanning the cities of Tabaco (1st district) and Ligao (3rd district), Sabloyon road is the route for Manila whenever the regular Maharlika highway route from Visayas region via Sorsogon is rendered unpassable in the towns of Camalig and Guinobatan of the Albay 3rd district due to floods and other calamities that usually hit the typhoon-prone Bicol peninsula. With the widening of the once isolated and neglected old Sabloyon route to four-lane, the now concreted Sabloyon road has become the most comfortable road section in the region with majestic Mt. Mayon in the background. The Mayon Skyline Hotel within the slope of Mt. Mayon located 5,200 feet above the sea level and built more than 20 years ago is only 8 kilometers from Sabloyon road in Barangay Buang, one of the barangays once infested by NPA rebels. During the time of Gov. Joey Salceda, the abandoned Mayon Skyline Hotel was reconstructed with 12 rooms and finally connected with water supply. The hotel is now operational and is frequently visited by tourists. The Sabloyopn route covers Barangays Bangkilingan, Matagbac, San Vicente, San Antonio, Quinastillojan, Bantayan, Tabiguian and Buang on the Tabaco side followed by Barangays Amtic, Tambo, Basag, Nasisi, Batang, and Bay on the Ligao City side. The Tabaco Sabloyon side spans 13 kilometers while the Ligao side stretches to about 12 kilometers. At the corner of the Sabloyon road towards the Mayon Skyline Hotel lies the Bicol Planetarium in Barangay Buang built from the pork barrel of Rep. Edcel Lagman during the early 2000. While the Sabloyon route Ligao side has yet to be expanded into four lanes, however, the route has already been fully concreted towards the city proper, said Rep. Fernando Gonzalez (3rd District). DPWH regional officials also confirmed that the Albay first district road has retained its record for more than 12 years as “outstanding district road” for maintaining “zero potholes.” According to Cesar Sanorjo, head of the Albay 1st District Engineering construction section, national roads along the province’s first district have all been concreted and the DPWH is diligently pursuing to upgrade them all into four-lane roads. He said the widened Sabloyon road is a pride of the Albay 1st District Engineering. Early last year, Asst. Regional Director Armando Estrella disclosed that overall, the DPWH was able to complete 35 percent in its road widening on section by section saying while some engineering districts are still facing obstructions on the 20-meter width road way occupied by squatters. During the early 80’s to late 90’s, villages along Sabloyon were infested by NPA rebels. Worse, the route also became a haven for hold-uppers. In one incident, 7 local tourist were killed while enroute to Mayon Skyline Hotel route sometime in 1990.

Macatangay is re-elected

energy press corps prexy

By Jam Madrid NAGA CITY --- Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Camarines Sur InfoCenter Manager Ana-Liza S. Macatangay was given a fresh mandate to fulfill another term as President of Camarines Sur Energy Press Corps (CSEPC) after its members representing various tri-media outlets unanimously voted for her re-assumption as head of the said organization. In the election of the Energy Press Corps held on Dec. 28 at Villa Caceres Hotel, members of the media also elected the following set of officers: Vice President for Broadcast Alex Parfan of DZLW, Radyo Agila ng Kabikolan and VP for Print Sarah Imperial; Secretary- Adonis Aguilar of GNN TV 48; Treasurer-Melvin Machado of FBN DZGE; and PRO Kate Delovieres of ABS-CBN. Bikol Reporter publisher Ruben Babar, GNN TV 48 Anchorman and TV host Ernie Verdadero and KBP Camarines Sur Chairman Romar Vasquez were also handpicked as CSEPCs advisers. National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) Corporate Affairs Division-Bicol Chief Nilda Somera said that the officers and members of the Energy Press Corps will be the NGCPs allies in disseminating pertinent information that the consumers need to know. NGCP Regional Communications Division Head Nelson S. Bautista who has been the steady and long-time ally of the members of the media here acknowledged the journalists role in effecting real change in terms of information dissemination, particularly in reaching areas that only rely on radio, television, and newsprint as their sources of information. "We raise our hat to our media friends who had been helping the NGCP in monitoring our work, particularly in reminding our consumers regarding safety precautions and reiterating the role of the community as stakeholders of power and caretakers of our energy facilities," Bautista added. The CSEPC has successfully conducted 2 major activities ; the Bicol project orientation and familiarization tour at Tayabas Sub station and Regional Command Center at Binan, Laguna in August 2015 and the Power 101 and Energy Journalism Seminar in October 2016 at Villa Caceres Hotel, here. CSEPC members have also been active participants in various activities launched and spearheaded by NGCP here in the province. The fresh mandate given to the newly installed set of officers is expected to bring in more collaboration from local government units where Power 101 confab will be held and other corporate endeavors in the service of the energy community.

Albero re-elected MNCCI president

NAGA CITY --- Businessman Gilbert N. Albero, along with Bicol Mail editor Jose B. Perez and Miles Lim Solis, were re-elected President, VP for Chamber Management, and Board Secretary, respectively, during the election held yesterday morning, Jan. 18, of the new officers and directors of the Board of the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI). New officers took over the other posts, such as Mario B. Wong as Executive Vice President, Ferdinand D. Sia as VP for Finance, Eleanor Zuniga-Montemayor as VP for Programs and Projects, Agapito Rubio, Jr. as Treasurer, E. Daniel de Leon as Auditor, and Amalia ‘Amy’ Villafuerte as Public Information Officer. The other Board Directors are Carlo B. Buenaflor, Francia M. Canlas, Marilissa J. Ampuan, Alfredo I. Perdon, Jorge T. Palma, and Engr. Flordeliza Azana. Former MNCCI Presidents Tony Concepcion, Philip Impreial, and Nicolas Beda Priela as members of the Commission on Elections conducted the lively election of chamber officers for 2017.

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