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Thursday, April 21, 2016

COMELEC warns against fake biometrics

Posted By: MV Basmayor - 11:40 AM
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) warns the public against a number of misleading claims currently circulating, regarding the use of biometrics in the 2016 National and Local Elections.

The COMELEC has been receiving alarming reports that, in a number of cities and municipalities, unauthorized persons or parties have been conducting so-called “biometrics,” purportedly with the knowledge and consent of COMELEC. This is completely false, and constitutes an electoral offense punishable by law.

Voter validation and biometrics capturing ended on October 31, 2015, and no further additions to the approved voters’ lists, national and local, are allowed.

COMELEC’s authorized biometrics gathering activities for the 2016 National and Local Elections were conducted May 2014 up until October 31, 2015. These activities were conducted in connection with the continuing registration mandated under Republic Act 8189.

With the end of the registration period in October, the COMELEC has ceased all biometrics gathering, and has since finalized the list of voters. To be clear, this means that no biometrics gathering activities have been conducted since October 31, 2015, and there will no longer be any additions to the list of registered voters in the 2016 elections, except only for Court-ordered inclusions.

Biometrics cannot be used to find out who you voted for.

The COMELEC has also taken note of the apprehension that biometrics data can be used to determine who a voter voted for. This is categorically false. Biometrics cannot be used to find out who any voter has chosen to mark his official ballot on election day.

COMELEC launched its #NoBioNoBoto campaign for the biometric validation of all registered voters in 2014, to ensure that every voter is properly identified and allowed to vote just once, only in the place where they are registered.

COMELEC biometrics involved taking a digital photograph of the voter’s face, the digital recording of the voter’s signature, and the digital capture of the voter’s fingerprints. These biometric records are used to identify each voter, together with other voter information such as the voter’s address. This information is now securely stored in the COMELEC’s databases and cannot be accessed without proper authorization.

The COMELEC will use biometrics in the 2016 National and Local Elections.

Despite the absence of election day biometrics validation facilities at the polling places, biometrics will continue to play a very critical role in securing the elections against fraudulent practices.

The biometrics data in COMELEC’s data base was used to print out the Computerized Voters Lists that will be used by polling places nationwide, to determine whether a person is eligible to vote. A person with no biometrics registered with the COMELEC will not be included in the lists of voters, and therefore will not be allowed to vote on election day.

COMELEC warns the public not to fall victim to misinformation and deception. With the elections less than a month away, more of these schemes can be expected, and we enjoin our voters to be vigilant. The COMELEC also serves notice to operators, agents and participants of these unauthorized biometrics gathering operations that they are violating our election laws, and will be subject to criminal prosecution when caught. (COMELEC)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Albay eyes hosting SEA Games

Posted By: MV Basmayor - 1:29 PM
After successfully playing host to the Palarong Pambansa 2016, Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said on Sunday he plans to bid for the hosting by Albay of the Southeast Asian Games 2019, the second biggest sports event in the world. Salceda said with the new and modern facilities used in the Palarong Pambansa, Albay is very much ready for a bigger sports event.

The facilities were constructed in a span of five months by Verzontal Builders Inc. under the close supervision of the Provincial Engineering Office.

“We only need a few more additional facilities to be able to have better hosting of a bigger sports activity, like facilities for indoor games and additional air-conditioning units for the existing facilities,” Salceda said.

The governor said he and Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro have already talked about this and they both believe that some events of the SEA Games can be held in the province so not all would be concentrated in Metro Manila and that Manila-Albay could be co-hosts.

Aside from access facilities, he said, one of the assets of Albay in bidding is being expert in establishing and running joint operation and incident commands in more orderly and systematic manner.

In terms of accommodation, Salceda said Albay has been used to handling and taking care of a number of guests because the Albayanos have learned to face all situations in times of calamity like strong typhoons and Mayon volcano eruptions wherein not less than 50,000 individuals are being taken care of for a span of 120 days.

In terms of security, he said, all Albay needs to know is to replicate the security plan done during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in the country.

The Albay chief executive said that under the “Gintong Albay Program,” which was patterned after that of Michael Keon, the province will focus on three events where the Albayanos excel, from athletics wherein they become the champion in Palarong Bicol in three years — 2011, 2012 and 2013 — to swimming and cycling where height is not needed to win.

He said he will do this and pursue this even if he will no longer be at the provincial capitol and instead be in Congress.

All that are needed, he said, are determination, resources and early training of athletes with more incentives like what the province is now doing — Php5,000 cash incentive for gold medalist, Php4,000 for silver and Php3,000 for bronze.

In the Bicol Region, only Albay has been practicing the incentive system, Salceda said.

Meanwhile, for the maintenance of the sports facilities, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan committee on budget and appropriations headed by Board Member Ralph Andes passed an ordinance allotting Php5 million so these would be continuously taken care of.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Comelec, PNP reject PDP-Laban's request to declare Sorsogon as election hotspot

Posted By: MV Basmayor - 7:25 AM
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) disapproved the request of the local candidates of the PDP-Laban in Sorsogon to declare the entire province as an election hotspot.

The request of the party was in connection with the harassment experienced by the local candidates, led by gubernatorial candidate Eric Dioneda, son of former Reform the AFP Movement leader and former Sorsogon City mayor Leovic Dioneda.

On April 3 night, Dioneda's group was having a campaign rally in Barangay Hall of Buhatan, Sorsogon City when 20 fully armed men came and told them to stop their campaign.

The young Dioneda said the harassment resulted in fear and trauma among them, especially that the armed men poked guns on the heads of most of them, asked them to drop with heads facing the ground and threatened to kill them.

The PDP-Laban gubernatorial candidate said the Comelec and the PNP did not accede to their party's request as the two agencies considered the incident as an isolated one.

The PNP Provincial Office of Sorsogon said it had already sent police escorts in places where the PDP-Laban group would be campaigning or have political rally.

Meanwhile, PNP Bicol officials based in Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here received a report from Sorsogon PPO that it had already identified one of the armed men who harassed the PDP-Laban candidates.

The report identified the driver of the suspects' getaway vehicle as Fernando Domens alias "Metal."

It said the suspects were apparently members of the New People's Army (NPA).

Dioneda confirmed that Domens or Metal was formerly an NPA rebel who has gone to farming.

The police are still looking deeper into the possible identification of the suspects for filing of appropriate charges. (PNA)

Comelec to allow voters to ask for extra ballot on Election Day

Posted By: MV Basmayor - 7:12 AM
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will allow voters to have an extra ballots if the initial ballots given to them are rejected by the vote counting machines (VCMs) on May 9.

According to the amended General Instructions (GI) for Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs), the commission en banc can secure a replacement ballot from the teachers provided that the ballot rejection is not the fault of the voters.

“No replacement ballot shall be issued to a voter, whose ballot is rejected by the VCM, except if the rejection of the ballot is not due to the fault of the voter,” Comelec Resolution No. 10088 said.

Under the amended GI, in case of ballot rejection, the BEI shall still allow the voter to re-feed the ballot four times in four different orientations. After fourth try and the ballot is still rejected, the voter shall return the ballot to the BEI.

In the 2010 and 2013 polls, voters were not allowed to ask for replacement ballots.

For his part, Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said the decision was reached on the idea that voters should not be disenfranchised if it is not their fault their ballot has been rejected.

“We believe that we should not penalize the voters if it is not their fault. We opted to err on the side of right to suffrage,” he said in a media forum Wednesday in Manila.

On the other hand, former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal did not support the decision, noting that it might pose problems on Election Day such as shortage of ballots.

“The problem here is if you have 800 voters and 700 voters appear, then 120 voters ask for replacement ballots, at the end of the day, the BEI can only say ‘sorry we ran out of ballots’. What will happen? Disenfranchised voters also,” he said.

The poll body chief is confident that they will have spare ballots since traditionally they have no record of 100 percent voter turnout.

The Comelec had already completed the printing of all the 56,772,230 ballots to be used in the May 9 national and local polls using the 1:1 voter-ballot ratio.

Meanwhile, an official of Smartmatic International said the company was ready to donate the 1.1 million thermal paper rolls set to be used as voter receipts.

According Smartmatic International Voter’s Education Chief Atty. Karen Jimeno they will donate the paper rolls.

"Smartmatic has internally decided to donate 1.1 million rolls of thermal papers that would meet all the requirements for the issuance of the voter receipts and that would also address the problems of the very burdensome requirements of the Government Procurement Act,” she added.

Last April 5, Smartmatic lost to Forms International Enterprises Corporation, which was declared as having the Lowest Calculated Bid (LCB) by the Comelec – Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

Bautista said that they would still have to evaluate the offer of supplier of the VCMs.

“We received a letter from Smartmatic offering to provide all the thermal papers for the voting receipts. They did so because they are afraid that the thermal papers might not be delivered on time for the elections. That was taken up during the en banc meeting but there were certain members who wanted to find out if this is proper. That is our present dilemma,” he added. (by Ferdinand G. Patinio, PNA)

House panels approve bill creating Quezon-Bicol Expressway

Posted By: MV Basmayor - 7:02 AM
The development and progress among regions in Southern Luzon is expected to be enhanced by a bill seeking to establish the Quezon-Bicol Expressway, which has already been endorsed for plenary approval.

The House Committees on Southern Tagalog Development chaired by Rep. Isidro S. Rodriguez, Jr. (2nd District, Rizal) and on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Isidro T. Ungab (3rd District, Davao City) have both approved House Bill 6475 or the proposed "Quezon-Bicol Expressway Act" and have endorsed it for plenary passage.

The bill substituted HB 5623 authored by Rep. Scott Davies S. Lanete, M.D. (3rd District, Masbate) and HB 3741 by Rep. Aleta C. Suarez (3rd District, Quezon).

It provides for the creation of the Quezon-Bicol Expressway (QuBEx) which shall be financed, constructed, operated and maintained by a grantee, offeror, consortium or proponent, under and by virtue of Republic Act No. 6957, as amended by RA 7718, otherwise known as the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law.

The QuBEx shall link the province of Quezon with the Bicol Region starting from Malicboy, Quezon and terminating in Sorsogon.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Engineering District concerned shall construct the connect road for the purpose of linking the terminus of the SLEX Toll Road 4 (TR4) in Lucena City and the entrance of the QuBEx in Malicboy.

The DPWH shall be the lead implementing agency of the Act. The amount necessary to defray the cost of undertaking and completing the feasibility study of the project and other activities relative thereto shall be included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Lanete said the State has continuously failed to promote simultaneous development among the country's regions as shown for example by the construction of expressways leading to Northern and Southern Luzon.

Lanete said there are only two expressways leading to Southern Luzon namely the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the Star Tollway, and with these two combined lead up to Batangas only.

Whereas, Lanete said the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), which opened in 2014, is the third expressway built connecting the country's capital of Manila to the northern areas of Luzon.

Lanete, a vice chairman of the House Committees on Appropriations, on Poverty Alleviation, and on Public Order and Safety, said the TPLEX construction has brought immediate impact in the development of trade and tourism in Northern Luzon.

"It made Baguio City, a popular tourist destination, more accessible. In fact, travel time from Manila to Baguio City had been cut short from seven hours to less than five hours. Thus, Baguio City has experienced an exponential rise in the number of visiting tourists and consequently its revenues also increased significantly," said Lanete.

Thus, compared to the expressways of Northern Luzon, which cover at least five provinces, it can be inferred that Southern Luzon has been spared from development according to Lanete.

"The promising tourist destinations located in the southern areas of Luzon have remained stagnant, untapped and underappreciated due to difficulty in access. Along with the underdevelopment of these areas is the slow growth in terms of commerce," he said.

To pursue optimum opportunity for development among the regions, the lawmaker said there is a need to give attention to Southern Luzon. "By constructing additional expressways that would make areas, as far as Sorsogon Province, more accessible by road, only one result will be achieved which is progress," said Lanete.

Lanete said through his proposal to create the Quezon-Bicol Expressway or QuBEx, the State will be fulfilling its responsibility in promoting optimum growth among the regions in Southern Luzon. "It is envisioned that there will be an improvement in the tourism industry which will translate to a developed and progressive citizenry," said Lanete.

Meanwhile, Suarez's proposal seeks to amend Presidential Decree No, 1894 which provides that the grantee of the franchise has the right and privilege to construct, maintain and operate the SLEX from Nichols, Pasay City to Lucena City.

"After almost 30 years from its enactment, there is a need to amend P.D. 1894 to respond to the changes of time. The proposed amendatory law will extend the SLEX from Lucena City to Malicboy, Quezon by an additional 21.96 kilometers," said Suarez.

Suarez, a member of the Committees on Southern Tagalog Development, Appropriations, Reforestation, Health, and Accounts said the proposed extension of road network from Lucena City to Malicboy, Quezon aims to make travel to the Bicol Region faster and more convenient.

"It will decongest traffic within and around the area. As a result, it will improve the mobility of goods and products from Quezon Province and the Bicol Region. The faster and convenient travel would also translate to a growth of the tourism industry in these areas to the benefit of people living therein," said Suarez.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

PDP-Laban wants Sorsogon declared as election hotspot

Posted By: MV Basmayor - 4:40 PM
The PDP-Laban in Bicol will ask the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to place the entire province of Sorsogon under its classification of election hotspot after its candidates for provincial positions experienced harassment from armed men in their recent campaign sortie in Sorsogon City.

Lawyer Ted Contacto, party Bicol regional coordinator, said in a press conference Monday that their gubernatorial candidate, Eric Dioneda, who was present on the occasion, personally experienced the harassment, with a gun pointed at him.

Based on Dioneda's statement and also on the blotter of the Sorsogon Police Provincial Office (SPPO), the PDP-Laban group was having a political rally at the compound of the barangay hall of Barangay Buhatan at 7:40 p.m. Sunday when 20 unidentified armed men approached Vladimir Ramon Frivaldo, who is running for vice governor, and asked him to stop their rally.

One of them poked an AK47 rifle at Dioneda, ordered all candidates to drop facing the ground and told them that they would die if they would not stop their activity.

Some of the suspects, armed with M16 Armalite rifles with grenade launcher, smashed the glass windows of the village hall and tried to shot at those party men who took cover, including former Sorsogon City mayor Leovic Dioneda, the father of the gubernatorial candidate.

After the harassment, the armed fled towards the direction of Barangay Abuyog in Casiguran town, avoiding the responding police officers and Army soldiers.

Contacto said they could not identify to which group the armed men belong but they believe that the suspects were not New People's Army members as, he said, it was only recently that Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison announced his support to the PDP-Laban and the candidacy of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

At this time, Contacto's group is waiting for the result of the investigation of the SPPO.

Meanwhile, the party will ask the Comelec to give its candidates security from the police and the Philippine Army during their political rallies and moreover, to place the entire province under the classification of a Comelec election hotspot. (PNA)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bicol sees spike in HIV cases

Posted By: MV Basmayor - 6:15 PM
LEGAZPI CITY— The Department of Health (DOH) Bicol regional office has expressed alarm over the increasing number of cases of HIV-AIDS in the entire region.

The agency registered a 74-percent rise over the 2015 count compared to the figures posted in 2014 and 2013.

The DOH-Bicol recorded 57 cases in 2013, which rose by about 36.8 percent in 2014 to 78 incidents.
In 2015, the number stood at 136, or 74-percent higher than the 78 cases chalked up in 2014.

Lilian Rose Contesa-Encisa, HIV coordinator and senior health program officer of DOH-Bicol, said that in January alone, the agency recorded three occurrences of AIDS -- two in Camarines Sur and one in Albay -- and 12 asymptomatic cases.

Of the asymptomatic cases, four are in Camarines Sur, four in Albay, one in Catanduanes and three in Masbate.

Encisa said the DOH can easily detect AIDS because of the symptoms it shows like weakening of resistance and immune system of one affected.

Asymptomatic refers to a type of AIDS that does not show any sign, which only manifests when the result comes out in a check-up.

She said it is a result of unsafe sex and risky behavior or carelessness.

Records of the Epidemiology Bureau of the Philippine HIV-AIDS Registry from 1984 to November 2015 showed that the unit had registered a total of 367 AIDS cases in Bicol -- 69 are AIDS and 298 were asymptomatic incidents.

Camarines Sur registered the highest cases at 20 AIDS and 113 asymptomatic; Albay followed with 25 AIDS and 89 asymptomatic; Sorsogon trailed at 11 AIDS and 37 asymptomatic; Masbate was fourth at 8 AIDS and 24 asymptomatic; Camarines Norte posted 3 AIDS and 24 asymptomatic; and Catanduanes had 2 AIDS and 10 asymptomatic.

Of the 367 HIV-AIDS cases from 1984 to November 2015, more males got sick at 322 while female victims were only at 45.

Based also on the records, those infected aged 25 to 34 years old totaled 210, followed by the 35-49 age bracket with 76 cases and those in the 14-14 age group have 69 occurrences.

As to other members of the society, 117 bisexuals got infected, 93 heterosexuals got sick and 153 homosexuals.

From 1984, 32 have died of the social disease in Bicol wherein five died only in 2015.

As a result of these alarming figures, the DOH strengthened its advocacy in schools and communities to prevent the spread of the disease, like what it did in Manito, Albay where it conducted a one-week advocacy campaign.(PNA)




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