Thursday, 30 August 2012


Volume 1, No 21

Friday, August 31, 2012

EDITORIAL:  Where credit is due


FOCUS:  Heroes, by Emma P Valencia

FEATURE:  Feature: Growing demand for PT in US

FEATURE: Technology brings us closer, by Percy A Ostonal  

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Editorial: Where credit is due

JUDGING from postings on Facebook by Mambulaoans, it is clear that there are kababayans overseas who remain little informed about the goings-on in our hometown.

Although one of the most common subjects taken up by Facebook “posters” is the much-lauded road cementing project of the Jose Panganiban municipal government, still some have mistaken this as an initiative of the national government through the provincial government.

Others thought it is a “personal” project of the vice-mayor, since he would be seen on occasions surveying the progress of the road construction, especially in out-of-town baranggays, and obviously, for Facebook “pa-pogi”.

And this was bolstered by the fact that the mayor, Ricarte Padilla, would not be seen with him during his sorties.

This prompted one “poster” to comment that Mayor Dong was missing in action and should make himself visible in public as much as possible, to give an impression that he is really working.

Meanwhile, the vice-mayor gets the full credit for such an “accomplishment” -- that is building cemented roads -- and for being “a hard-working guy who always puts the welfare of his constituents first”.

Funny, the vice-mayor has opted to remain silent about it.

He knew that he just scored heaps of much-needed political points to shore up his stock against potential rivals in the May local elections, while enjoying built-in shield from the sweetness and fragrance of Mayor Dong’s governance.

But the right thing for him to do is be transparent, that is, by correcting such an impression so as not to abuse the mind of the people, especially those overseas.

He could have simply posted on his Facebook fan network: “Hindi po akin ang project na ito … sa LGU po and proyektong ito  … bale katulong lang ako dito at naatasang magsupervise sa patrabaho …”

Plain and simple. And most important, honest.

But in today’s politics especially when the next elections are nearing, if you can get away with it, then get away with it.

All along, MWBuzz has openly supported the local government’s baranggay road cementing project; it did not hold back on praises that the efforts truly deserved.

In its previous editorials and commentaries, MWBuzz stressed to its readers across the globe this road project is a joint effort of Dong Padilla’s administration, the general public, the sources of funds from the national government, notably the few supportive senators and congressmen and the many generous donors who sent bags of cement, which later went into the concreting of the baranggay roads as we see them now.

And the big news is that this road project is the brainchild of Dong Padilla.

Its little known saga began when the newly elected mayor of Jose Panganiban hopped into to his car on his first day in office on July 1, 2010, and drove off right through the roads in 27 baranggays across the municipality.

The aim was to take an inventory of how many kilometers of the network were cemented and how many were not.

His finding: of the 81km of municipal roads, only 2.6km (outside the poblacion) were concreted.

The rest were impassable if not bumpy, disappearing or simply non-existent.

Aware of the daunting tasks of rehabilitating the road network, Mayor Dong begged around, and lobbied for funds, among those in the national government who would care to listen and do something about it.

He succeeded in some and failed in others.

And he did not think twice in engaging Mambulaoans in this endeavor – he appealed to them for cement donations, an appeal that received immediate, overwhelming response.

One reason was that the people saw a germ of development here, something they have been waiting over the past 50 years or so to come to their community.

Mayor Dong’s call for bags of cement could be a start to something worthwhile and doable.

This could be “it”.

Friendly companies sent hundreds of bags of cement, individuals sent theirs, also in hundreds of bags; the alumni groups of the Jose Panganiban High School (JPHS) delivered truckloads of the materials, and so on and so forth.

Right now, generous donations of cement and trickles of national government funding continue to keep the road cementing projects in full swing, which, unfortunately, is being stalled one way of the other by the vagaries of weather.

But the important thing is that the work timetable is hitting the targets projected by the good mayor.

Already, the project has reached the baranggay Sta Milagrosa-Pag-asa area. And in certain parts of rural Mambulao, new road work was either being commenced or freshly mixed concrete being poured.

And just before the local elections in May next year, a new, sturdy ribbon of road shall have reached the Larap bridge at Sparline.

From here, it would now be fast and furious, easily snaking through long-time forlorn Larap, thus completing this village’s link to the poblacion for the first time in its existence as a community, via a cemented road network.

But the best thing that happened along the way is that Mayor Dong triumphed in building a kilometer of cemented road for only P5 million –a sharp contrast to the standard P10 million/km billed by greedy contractors and corrupt project proponents in the government on every road project that got into their hands.

With this, MWBuzz hopes that the issue on who are behind the baranggay road concreting projects in Jose Panganiban is settled once and for all.

And here’s a reminder: Don’t be mislead by self-serving Facebook postings, especially by politicians. It makes sense to know the “why” behind such postings.

- Alfredo P Hernandez

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More nightly patrol deployed against “Akyat-bahay” gang

RESPONDING to a recent clamor from the residents in Jose Panganiban, the municipal government has deployed more policemen patrol at night to forestall any plan by the “Akyat-bahay” gang operating in the community.

The nightly “ronda” gets support from baranggay officials and members, according to a source from the local police headquarters,

Residents in the poblacion have complained about recent break-and-enter incidents, which they alleged were carried out by the local “Akyat-bahay” gang using minors.

It was said that minors were being used by the culprits as they could not be criminally charged under the law if caught for being minors.

The local government has urged Mambulaoans to be vigilant against these culprits, who have also been targeting houses whose owners are away.

The local police have encouraged robbery victims to file formal complaints against the suspects so they could act accordingly.

Residents have also been urged to report any robbery incidents to the police by having the incidents formally recorded in the official blotter.

JP mining firm owner killed in Laguna ambush

CAMP PACIANO RIZAL, Laguna: The owner of a gold mining company in CamNorte Norte was killed while his female companion was wounded when unidentified men sprayed bullets on their vehicle in Calamba City, Laguna, early Thursday.

Police identified the victim as Arnel Elnar, owner of the Elnar Gold Processing plant in Jose Panganiban, CamNorte.

Elnar was pronounced dead on arrival at the Calamba Medical Center while his companion, Charmaine Faith Vigo, was wounded but survived the attack.

Vigo is a clerk at a gasoline station in Calamba but resides Cabuyao City, Laguna.

Superintendent Leovegildo Manaig, Calamba police chief, said in a report that the victims had just left a local motel in a Toyota Fortuner in Barangay Turbina when they were waylaid at around 6am by men in a gray Toyota Corolla car (TXH-806).

Two unidentified men alighted from the car and fired several shots into the victims’ vehicle, Manaig said.

Two policemen, who happened to be at a nearby gasoline station waiting for their ride to work, responded to the shooting and fired shots at the assailants, who managed to escape in their car toward Batangas province.

Investigators were pursuing possible business rivalry as a motive for the attack, said Manaig.

Manaig, quoting a close friend of Elnar, said there was an incident in the past when someone threw a grenade at and fired on Elnar’s residence in CamNorte.

Elnar also owned a house in Los Baños, Laguna, according to Manaig. - Inquirer

Padilla backs demand for mercury-free gold operations


JOSE PANGANIBAN Mayor Ricarte Padilla has supported the small miners’ demand for a mercury-free mining operation.
Padilla, in a remark before the just concluded small-scale gold miners’ summit held in this town recently, said he is with the small miners who are demanding for the elimination of mercury in gold operations throughout the country.

The two-day 2nd National Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) summit was attended attended by some 120 delegates from the small-scale mining industry and government representatives from the DENR, SSS, health sectors and local officials.

Held at the Apolonia Hotel in town, the meet was sponsored by Ban Toxic!, a non-governmental organization advocating for a mercury-free small-scale gold mining in the country. 

It will be recalled that Padilla pitched for the total elimination of mercury in all gold mining operations by small miners at a national summit held in Baguio City last November.

At the start of the summit, the JP mayor had posed the challenged to the delegates: Is this group convinced about removing mercury in small scale mining?

He said that with several communities dependent on the industry, coming up with responsible and mercury free methods is  an urgent matter for the local government units.

“We need to reform the industry now. I therefore suggest that we begin convincing the other 300,000 miners in the country to also do the same!” Padilla said.

Last April, the mayor revealed to MWBuzz that a group of small gold operators in Jose Panganiban has phased out mercury in their gold recovery and instead, used another chemical – borax – in its place.

Introduced by Ban Toxic!, the borax scheme has been successful in gold recovery, convincing the miners to drop mercury for good from their operations.

Jose Panganiban town is a site of both big and small gold mining operations.

The summit served as a venue where miners and government agencies sit together and discussed pressing issues that affect the small-scale mining industry.

Participants said they were drafting a resolution supporting mercury elimination through import ban and serious effort by the government to stamp out illegal mercury trade. 

Unofficial reports point to a large scale mercury trade that supplies the small-scale gold mining sector, they said.

Organized by Ban Toxics, an independent non-profit, environmental organization, the summit brought together the country’s small miners, who said that Executive Order 79, which seeks to ban the use of mercury in mining operations was a welcome move. 

 “While EO 79 supports our cause to ban mercury in gold mining, the ban should be carried out with a speed upang ibalik ang buhay sa kabuhayan,” the miners said.

The miners admitted it may take them some time to warm up to mercury-free mining methods, though it is the best method so far that is not harmful to miners’ health and the environment.

Ban Toxics said it is high time that mercury should be taken out of circulation. 

It suggested a phase-out period which should involve the drafting of a national storage program and facility that will handle the surplus mercury once the ban becomes in full force.
According to Rodolfo Boyles of Mt Diwata, Randy Silva of Zamboanga, and Jose Anayo of Nabunturan in Compostela Valley, they have long recognized the possible rejection of mercury use in mining even before EO 79 was crafted.
Ban Toxics Executive Director Richard Gutierrez has cautioned the government’s slow approach in terms of chemical use, saying that, “today, mercury is the hot issue, tomorrow it could be another chemical.” – With reports from THE Bicol Mail, GMANetwork and Manila Times

Mambulaoan is top designer at NYC’s biggest jewelry maker

Reagan O Rada ... top jewelry designer in New York City. -   Photo courtesy of ROR


THE biggest jewelry maker in New York City hired a native of Mambulao to head its creative and design department.

Reagan O Rada, 31, is Peranesi’s technical designer and the one who makes the final decision on every product the company designs and makes.

Rada is now preparing Peranesi’s 2012 collection.

Right now, he is busy traveling across the US to sell their creations to various outlets.

Notably, Peranesi named him as its brand ambassador to all SAKS outlets.

In an interview with MWBuzz a few days ago in New York City, Rada said that he makes what he calls high-end jewelry, popularly known as couture jewelry.

He said he supervises the jeweler in every aspect of production – from the kind of stone to use, to the metal that it should go with.

“Diamond, rubies, sapphires and emeralds are my favorite stones … I work well with these.”

He said that pearls are “my secondary passion”.

Piranesi has an array of high-end clients that included royalties, heads of states and a lot of private users that included Hollywood celebrities, politicians and simply the rich.

Top jewelry retailer SAKS is one of its biggest outlets, with a number of stores on Fifth Avenue.

Peranesi is based on 30 Rockefeller Piz, at No 64 New York, with offices on 952 Fifth Avenue.

Rada got an apprenticeship on jewelry designing from RJM Jewelry while working there as its janitor during his early days in the US.

Later, in 2007 when Rada was already involved in the production as its director of fulfillment and design, RJM was acquired by Hollywood great, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, and renamed it as The House of Taylor.

Dame Elizabeth, who was one of RJM’s biggest clients, retained Rada as its technical designer.

From then on, Rada came up with fresh designs, many of which were worn by the actress herself.

However, the 2008 recession in the US took a great toll on the House of Taylor that it was forced to close shop under the weight of more than US$11 million in debt.

The company’s bankruptcy left Rada jobless for a while.

While he was in Bangkok for a break and at the same time to decide on his future, Peranesi offered him a job, which was basically similar to the one he had at the House of Taylor.

Before he migrated to the US in late 2000, Rada was teaching Information Technology (IT) at the Makati High School.

For his first job in the US, he worked as a care-giver.

He graduated from the Jose Panganiban National High School in 1997.


Unico gets flak over billboard

The controversial billboard. - Photo supplied from Facebook

CAMNORTE Representative Unico recently received flaks from a resident in Baranggay San Rafael, Jose Panganiban, over a billboard of his electrification project in the said baranggay.

In this billboard, Unico announced his plan to energize the baranggay.

One resident, Rodel Bang Occiano, who is currently based in Metro Manila, reacted with surprise after seeing a picture of the billboard posted on the Facebook account of a group of Mambulaoans.

He immediately suspected that politics was behind such a project.

Occiano posted: “Electrification ..? Ano ito… fyi lang po… matagal na pong may kuryente sa Tumbaga …noon pa pong Mayo taong 1997 ay may kuryente na sa amin … so para san pa itong electrification na ito?”

Tumbaga, the place referred to in the billboard as project site, is part of San Rafael.

It was gathered that the Unico power project will install power line posts along a 300-meter distance to connect several households to the main power grid in the baranggay.

Occiano, however, said that the target households have been energized since 15 years ago.

He said that when the government failed to provide them power, the said households pooled their resources to acquire power cable lines which were tapped into the main grid.

Occiano said that Unico should instead provide street lights in the baranggay to make their place safe at night.

However, another Facebook “poster” said that the Unico initiative could be aiming to replace the cable lines installed by the residents some 15 years ago to meet the specifications of the power cooperative – the Camarines Norte Electric Co-operative (Canoreco).

Nvr Rodelas, a native of Mambulao, said it would be better to have the cable line replaced for the safety of the residents.

“Sana, maganda ang intension … at hindi pamumulitika lamang ito,” Rodelas said of Unico’s project.

Unico has been rumored to be eyeing the seat of the governor in next year’s election.

Seven senators endorse New Camarines bill

NAGA CITY: With 242 amendments, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who chairs the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revisions of Codes and Laws, and six other senators have recommended for approval on Aug 16, 2012 House Bill (HB) 4820 that carves out the Nueva Camarines province from the two-city, 35-town Camarines Sur province.

Posted on the Senate website on Aug. 22, 2012, Santiago and vice chairperson Edgardo Angara and regular committee members Senators Franklin Drilon, Manuel “Lito” M Lapid, and Francis Pangilinan had affixed their signatures to the approval of HB 4820 with amendments.

But of the six regular members of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revisions of Codes and Laws, four of them did not affix their signatures including Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr,  Panfilo Lacson, Antonio F Trillanes IV, and Aquilino Pimentel III.

Committee’s ex-oficio members President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada and Majority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III also affixed their signatures to endorse the creation of Nueva Camarines.

Among the ex-oficio members who did not sign the recommendation for approval with amendments of HB 4820 were Minority Leader Allan Peter Cayetano and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

The last public hearing for the controversial HB 4820 that heightened the family feud of the Villafuertes in Camarines Sur province was held last month.

During the last hearing, Rep Luis R Villafuerte and his son Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte, and grandson Miguel Villafuerte stunned the crowd of over 10,000 spectators at the Naga City Coliseum as they exchanged personal comments with each other.

HB 4820 combines and carves out from the present Camarines Sur the fourth district towns of Caramoan, Garchitorena, Lagonoy, Presentacion, San Jose, Siruma, Tinambac, Goa, Tigaon and Sagñay, and the fifth district towns of Baao, Balatan, Bato, Bula, Buhi, Nabua, and Iriga City.

HB 4820 was a brainchild of Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella and co-authored by Representatives Villafuerte, Rolando Andaya Jr., and Diosdado Arroyo, all of Camarines Sur province, except Rep. Salvio Fortuno who opposed the bill.

The proponents of HB 4820 argued that the proposal to split Camarines Sur has complied with the legal requirements under R.A. 7160 or Local Government Code of 1991 which include an average income of not less than P20M, population of not less than 250,000, and land area of not less than 2,000sqkm.

They said the division will maintain the first-class classification of both Camarines Sur and Nueva Camarines which he said follows the condition of the law that “the income classification of the original local government unit (LGU) shall not fall below its current classification prior to such division.”

They further claimed that their study showed that when divided the mother province of Camarines Sur will have an average annual income of P283.48 million while Nueva Camarines P223.4 million with a population of 892,203 and 801,618, respectively. 

Both provinces exceed the 2,000sqkm land area requirement at 2,531.60sqkm for Camarines Sur and 2,970sqkm for Nueva Caceres.

But Gov Villafuerte disagreed with the proposal saying that the split was motivated by the political interests of the Fuentebellas who had been controlling the political reins of the Partido district for more than a century now.

The governor argued that the splitting of Camarines Sur into two provinces would jeopardize the tourism potentials of the province that he said placed it in the world tourism map.

Opposing the approval of HB 4820, Sen Joker Arroyo said that based on the evidence presented  by both sides so far, the division of Camarines Sur will not benefit its people, namely: the inhabitants of the first, second and third districts. 

Only the inhabitants of the fourth district, Partido, will benefit therefrom.

Arroyo said that Camarines Sur ranked number 11 out of the 80 provinces in the Philippines and a premier province in the Bicol region will lose its title as the most “uragon” in the region.

He said the division of Camarines Sur will reduce the two provinces created into second-class from first-class province.
Arroyo also criticized the choice of putting the capital of the to-be-created “Nueva Camarines” in the third-class town of Tigaon, the hometown of the Fuentebellas and added that the proposed provincial capital as temporary “is misleading".

Gov Villafuerte said that with the filing of candidacy on Oct 1-5, there is no more time for the Commission on Election to prepare and conduct the plebiscite.

The governor challenged the Fuentebellas to just run for elective positions in Camarines Sur as he pushed his son Miguel to run for governor which aggravated the feud with his father Rep Villafuerte who had announced he would come back as governor of the province. – Bicol Mail

Illegally cut logs seized as DENR intensifies forest law enforcement

LEGAZPI CITY: An intensified forest protection and law enforcement campaign of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol gained ground after it seized 14,306 board feet of illegal lumber and 28 sacks of wood charcoal in a series of operations conducted by its various field offices, and operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“Reports coming from the field offices revealed that seven weeks worth of increased operations against illegal logging/cutting by forestry and security personnel have led to this accomplishment,” DENR V Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said.

Gonzales said from the later part of June to early last month, five successive operations were carried out in Sorsogon which resulted to the confiscation of  3,945 board feet of illegally-cut lumber and 28 sacks of wood charcoal.

There were three arrests in Masbate involving 5,229bdft of wood and lumber, two arrests in Catanduanes involving 3,220bdft, one arrest in CamNorte with 1,910bdf, and one arrest in CamSur involving the confiscation of 28 sacks of charcoal.

“All the confiscated lumber and charcoal were taken under DENR custody as they will undergo further criminal/administrative adjudication,” Gonzales added.

The regional director reiterated his standing order to all field officers to strictly observe and sustain the government’s forest protection and law enforcement campaign in order to save the region from further abuses by illegal loggers and tree cutters throughout the Bicol Region. – Bicol Mail

Robredo's death a loss to Bicol and nation

Robredo’s bier at the main entrance of the Archbishop’s Palace in Naga City allows fast organized viewing of mourners. - Photo courtesy of JUAN ESCANDOR JR


LEGAZPI CITY: Albay Gov Joey S Salceda is proud of fellow Bicolano servant-leader Jesse M Robredo, the former secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments who perished in a plane crash in the deep waters of the island province of Masbate last August 18.

“Robredo is an iconic endowment of Bicolandia. Bicol is the real winner in the presidential ascendance of Noynoy Aquino with Robredo giving a strong voice in the administration by articulating our regional aspirations for prosperity, which is very much overdue,”  Salceda said in a statement. 

“He has put Naga City, where he was mayor for many, many, many years in the map not only of the Philippines but in the whole world especially in Asia as one of the most progressive cities on account of his enlightened leadership and his expertise in management that engineered the growth of the city coupled with good governance that would ensure that the benefits of growth are shared by all its citizenry, especially  the powerless whose ordinary heroism he always tried to spark.
“I must confess I am great fan of Robredo especially since I am now with local governments. We look up to him as an example of good governance. In many instances when I am confronted with problems, I would think how Robredo would have handled such case. 

“We are accountable for our choices so we must do what we can to help Noynoy succeed. Robredo is somewhat of a loss to Bicol as city mayor of Naga but he is certainly a gain to the country,” Salceda  said.

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero also expressed sadness over the untimely death of Secretary Robredo. 

“The passing of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo is a tremendous loss for the entire nation. He was a stalwart and a pillar of our collective quest for change and good governance. 

“I mourn the loss of Secretary Robredo. He embodied everything a Filipino leader should be. He was an honored son of Bicol, a decent and loving husband and father, and a principled man whose honesty and integrity were beyond question,” Escudero told Bicol Mail. 

“My family and I express our deepest condolences to the Secretary’s family. I call on Bicolanos, as well as the entire nation, for prayers for the eternal repose of his soul and for his family and loved ones that they find strength to see this tragedy through.

“While he has left us to be with the Creator, his memory and legacy should be remembered, now and in the days to come,” Escudero said.

Executive Secretary Paquito N Ochoa Jr in a statement sent to Bicol Mail said that he joined his colleagues in the Cabinet and the whole nation in mourning the passing of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and pilots Capt. Jessup Bahinting and Kshitiz Chand. 

]“Secretary Robredo was a  dedicated public servant and a champion of good governance whose track record in public service has been an inspiration to all those who believe in government as an instrument for positive change,” Ochoa said. 

“Our prayers go out to the families of Secretary Robredo and his companions, as well as to his constituents in Naga and the officials and employees of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments, who lost a leader who tirelessly worked and contributed greatly to President Aquino’s campaign for good governance as a means to improve the lives of our countrymen,” Ochoa added. – Bicol Mail