Friday, January 4, 2019

Gunman in Batocabe slay admits crime, says sorry

Photo: CNN PH
PILI, Camarines Sur (Bicol Standard) – The confessed gunman in the killing of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe and aide SPO2 Orlando Diaz apologized to the family of the late congressman in a press conference at the Capitol Complex here this afternoon.

Henry Yuson, alias “Romel,” said he regrets what he did and only killed the congressman because he was offered money in exchange for the death.

Yuson, a rebel-returnee who was later assimilated as member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and eventually hired as part of the security group of Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo, surrendered Thurday night at the 903rd Infantry Batallion in Sorsogon.

He was also served a warrant of arrest for the crime of rape.

Yuson told the media that despite the promise of payment, he never received even a single centavo.

“Trinaydor nila ako,” he said, referring to Christopher Cabrera Naval alias “Tuping” and Danilo Muella alias “Manoy Dan.”

It was Tuping—a former member of the Philippine Army—and Manoy Dan who have been discussing the plan with Mayor Baldo to assassinate Batocabe, Yuson said.

Mayor Baldo wanted to stay as the local chief executive, so they hatched a plan to eliminate Batocabe, who was the political rival of Baldo, Yuson added.

Yuson further narrated that he was assured that as long as Baldo remains the town mayor, their group will have a steady source of income.

Meantime, PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said Yuson and the members of the mayor’s personal staff have been receiving Php7,000 a month and using fictitious names to hide their identity.

Albayalde said they now have four out of seven suspects in their custody in connection with the Batocabe slay.

The case, he reiterated, is now solved but not closed, as they are still continuing the investigation.

“We will not rest until the suspects rot in jail for the rest of their lives,” Albayalde stressed.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

DepEd Bicol wants reports on schools affected by 'Usman' expedited

LEGAZPI CITY (Bicol Standard) -- Deped Regional Office 5 Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad called for a meeting today with the Schools Division Superintendents, and DepEd Bicol personnel to expedite the submission of the reports on the schools, learners, and personnel affected by Tropical Depression 'Usman'.

Sadsad further ordered the preparation of the needed interventions.

Initially, the concerned Schools Division Offices extended financial assistance to the families of the victims, including at least six learners in Albay, 21 learners in Camarines Sur, and one learner in Camarines Norte.

DepEd will also carry out relief distribution, medical missions, and debriefing sessions to affected learners and teachers.

There are at least 176 schools with reported damage: 73 in Albay, 40 in Camarines Norte, 50 in Camarines Sur, and 13 in Sorsogon.

Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS) are needed, including 11 in Albay, four in Camarines Norte, and one in Camarines Sur.

Said reports are still for validation and inspection of division engineers and Schools Division Superintendents.

Updating and report generation are still ongoing as of this writing.

Daraga mayor Baldo tagged as mastermind in Batocabe slay


DARAGA, Albay (Bicol Standard) -- Daraga Mayor Carlwyn "Awin" Baldo has been tagged by the Philippine National Police as the mastermind in the killing of Ako Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe and his aide in December.

In a press conference this morning, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said charges of double murder and multiple frustrated murder have already been filed against the incumbent Daraga mayor and the other six suspects at the Department of Justice.

Albayalde added that Baldo paid former rebels and army officials to assassinate Batocabe.

Batocabe was running against Baldo for the mayoralty post.

A sum of P5-million was given in exchange for said slay, the police chief bared.

Baldo has yet to issue a statement on the charge.

Meantime, Batocabe's eldest son Atty. Justin earlier said that their family could forgive the suspects but not the mastermind.

He did not, however, name the person behind the slay, and said their family will just leave it to the authorities.

Death toll due to 'Usman' in Bicol climbs to 105

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard) – The death toll due to ‘Usman’ in the Bicol region is now at 105, data from the Office of Civil Defense as of 10:00 p.m. January 2, 2019 states.

Further, 53 are injured, and 23 are missing.

In Albay, 18 are dead, seven injured, and three are missing.

In Camarines Sur, 57 are dead, 36 are injured, and 20 are missing.

In Camarines Norte, 15 are dead, and four are injured.

In Sorsogon, 8 are dead, and six are injured.

Lastly, seven are dead in Masbate.

Catanduanes has no recorded deaths and injuries.

The towns that have the most casualties are Sagñay in Camarines Sur and Tiwi in Albay, the same data shows.

Meantime, Office of Civil Defense Regional Director Claudio Yucot announced this morning that search and retrieval operations are still ongoing in Camarines Sur and Albay.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Most Rev. Rex Andrew Alarcon is new Daet bishop

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard) -- Most Rev. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon is now the bishop-elect of the Diocese of Daet, the Archdiocese of Caceres confirmed tonight.

His election as fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Daet was made public in Rome at 7 p.m. local time at the Vatican City.

He previously served as School Director of Naga Parochial School.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Catriona Gray appeals for help for Bicolanos affected by 'Usman'

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard) -- Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray is appealing to the public to help Bicolanos following the onslaught of Tropical Depression Usman.

On her Instagram account, the Bicolana beauty posted that there have been 57 reported deaths from landslides and floods caused by the recent typhoon.

She suggested giving help via the Camarines Sur Chapter of the Philippine Red Cross or Team Albay Youth Organization.

Water, ready-to-eat food, blankets, tarpaulins, and other relief items are accepted by these groups, she wrote.

Cam Norte ex mayor acquitted of graft

MANILA (Bicol Standard) – Former Mercedes, Camarines Norte town mayor Pepito Pajarillo Lo has been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division in the anti-graft charge filed against him in connection with the development of the Colasi Falls area for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Lo was accused to have taken advantage of his position and showing manifest partiality and preference by giving unwarranted benefits to Colasi Mini-Hydro Electric Power Corporation, by entering into a Memorandum of Agreement with the same, granting exclusive right, with right of first refusal, to explore, develop, and utilize the Colasi Falls area, sans any competitive bidding.

Along with Lo, accused were Jane Solitario Caras and Jimmy Calica Solitario, who are the two incorporators of Colasi Mini-Hydro Electric Power Corporation and are siblings of Lo’s wife, Brenda Solitario Lo.

In its discussion, the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution imputes manifest partiality against accused Lo, implying that he disregarded the requirements of competitive bidding provided under R. A. No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) and entered into a MOA with Colasi Power Corporation because he favored the latter, considering that two (2) of its incorporators - accused Caras and Solitario - are his wife's siblings.

However, after a review of the records, the Court found no evidence to support the prosecution's assertion.

“To note, although accused Caras and Solitario remain listed in the Articles of Incorporation (AOI) as incorporators, the GIS confirms that they are no longer stockholders or officers of the said corporation. In fact, the prosecution, being a party to the joint stipulations submitted in court, acknowledges that accused Caras and Solitario were neither stockholders nor officers of Colasi Power Corporation at the time of the execution of the assailed MOA on 10 March 2009, since they had sold and transferred their respective shares therein to Eduardo Malasaga on 19 December 2005. This admission effectively weakens the prosecution's argument as it contradicts the corrupt intent ascribed against accused Lo that he was motivated to enter into a contract with Colasi Power Corporation solely for the reason that he was related by affinity to two (2) of its incorporators,” the decision reads.

“A reading of the joint stipulations reveals that prior to the execution of the MOA, accused Lo had been authorized by the Sangguniang Bayan of Mercedes, Camarines Norte to solicit and negotiate with any government agency or prospective investors for the development of the Colasi water falls into a hydro power plant,” it continues.

“Armed with such authorization, accused Lo, in his capacity as mayor, subsequently entered into a MOA with Colasi Power Corporation, without the benefit of public bidding. In addition to these uncontroverted statements, other evidence on record indicates that Colasi Power Corporation is a logical choice on account of its water permit, which allows it to utilize the water at the Colasi Falls area. Taken together, all these exculpatory facts diminish the prosecution's claim that accused Lo acted with manifest partiality when he executed the MOA with Colasi Power Corporation,” the court explained.

Finally, the court said: “As the act or omission from which the civil liability might arise did not exist, no civil liability may be assessed against the accused. The hold departure order issued against all of the accused by reason of this case is hereby LIFTED and SET ASIDE, and their respective bonds RELEASED, subject to the usual accounting and auditing procedures.”

Associate Justice Reynaldo P. Cruz signed the 13-page decision, with Associate Justice Alex L. Quiroz and Associate Justice Bayani H. Jacinto concurring.

Milaor priest blesses travelers, parishioners on New Year's Day

MILAOR, Camarines Sur (Bicol Standard) -- The parish priest of this town, Fr. Mike de la Rosa, blessed parishioners and travelers as they crossed the flooded section of Barangay San Jose here this morning, New Year's Day. Milaor is among the flood-prone areas in Camarines Sur which was heavily affected by the torrential rains of TD Usman.

Bicol disaster execs blame climate change for deadly landslides

LEGAZPI CITY -- The head of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol is blaming climate change for the disaster that recently struck the region, where 57 people died in landslides and flooding spawned by the low-pressure area (LPA) that has caused heavy rains here in the past two days.

“Zero-casualty is our constant goal, but there are situations beyond our control -- the unusually heavy rains caused by climate change,” OCD Regional Director Claudio Yucot said in a phone interview on Monday.

Yucot said there are disaster protocols being followed, such as warning, evacuation, and relief, but in the case of an LPA, aside from warning, there are no other disaster protocols to be carried out.

He said that after the local weather bureau downgraded the storm warning signal 1 to an "LPA accompanied by the tail end of the cold front (TECF)," people were not expecting that this would bring heavy rains that would trigger landslides and floods.

“We have disaster protocol when it comes to typhoons, storms; but there are none for LPA and TECF,” he said.

He even dismissed the report that members of various local disaster councils were on vacation mode and villagers were stubborn and refused to be evacuated because of the declaration that the tropical cyclone has been downgraded into an LPA.

Along with this, Yucot said he would propose to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Council to prepare disaster protocols for weather disturbances, such as LPA and TECF.

Meanwhile, Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Office, said areas hit by landslides in two villages in the town, where at least 12 people died, were not considered landslide-prone areas by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

He said the villages of Sugod and Lourdes in Tiwi have no history of landslides, except for Barangay Sugod, which is a flood-prone village.

In an interview, Daep said the high-risk areas for landslide are the barangays of Dapdap and Misibis in Tiwi.

Asked what possible factors that could contribute in failing to meet the province's “Zero Casualty Goal” policy, Daep said one is the complacent attitude of people in heeding the call to evacuate for reasons that it was only an LPA and TECF; second is because of the recent barangay elections, where newly designated barangay disaster officials were not yet trained to handle disaster operations.

Daep said the real culprit was the 437.1 mm rains that poured in Bicol in the past two days (Dec. 28 and 29). The rains breached by 84 percent the 520.2 mm of rainfall for the month of December, aside from the scattered rainfall on December 26 and 27.

He said heavy rainfall spawned by the LPA followed by the TECF have saturated the soil, causing floods and landslide in several towns and cities of the province.

Daep said rain and landslide gauges would not suffice to serve as an early warning, as the rainfall threshold for the month was exceeded in the past two days.

He dismissed reports that the province failed to warn residents, saying local officials had issued an advisory to local disaster councils, warning them of the possible occurrence of floods and landslide caused by heavy rainfall from the low-pressure area and the tail end of the cold front.

Latest casualty count indicates that the death toll due to landslide and floods continues to rise, as 57 villagers have died, 11 injured, and 11 still missing in Bicol, the OCD report said.

Camarines Sur has 23 dead, and one missing; followed by Albay with 15 dead, five injured and seven missing; Camarines Norte with six dead, one missing; Sorsogon with six dead, six injured and two missing; and Masbate with seven casualties. (by Mar Serrano, PNA)

Monday, December 31, 2018

Camarines Norte placed under state of calamity

Photo courtesy of Camarines Norte PIO
DAET, Camarines Norte (Bicol Standard)— Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) of Camarines Norte has unanimously approved the recommendation declaring the province under state of calamity to mitigate the effects of the disaster and stabilize the situation in the disaster-stricken areas.

This was during the 28th Sangguniang Panlalawigan Special Session presided by Vice Gov. Jonah Pimentel.

Camarines Norte is the fourth Bicol province to declare a state of calamity. Earlier, Albay, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon also approved the same declarations.

Upon the declaration of a state of calamity, remedial measures may be undertaken by the concerned national agencies or local governments such as automatic imposition of price control; programming/reprogramming funds for the repair and safety-upgrading of public infrastructure and facilities; and allowing the granting or restructuring of loans by government financing or lending institution to bonafide victims of the disaster in accordance with their respective charters.

The same deferment or moratorium shall be granted to corporate borrowers of aforesaid government credit institutions whose operations are seriously impaired by the calamity.

There may also be release of national calamity funds to agencies involved in relief operations and rehabilitation and restoration of damaged infrastructures as well as to affected LGUs and release of Local Calamity Funds within the affected LGU or other areas affected by a disaster or calamity for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and other works or services.

There are at least ten casualties in Camarines Norte, all due to landslides, per the report submitted to the Provincial Government this morning.

Three victims are from Labo; three from Jose Panganiban; and four from Basud.

FEATURE | What are the effects of a declaration of state of calamity?

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard)--The catastrophic effects of 'Usman' has prompted local leaders in Camarines Sur, Albay, Camarines Norte, and Sorsogon to declare a state of calamity to mitigate the effects of the disaster and stabilize the situation in the disaster-stricken areas.

Upon the declaration of a state of calamity, the law provides that following remedial measures may be undertaken by the concerned national agencies or local governments:

a. Automatic imposition of price control. Monitoring, prevention and control of overpricing/profiteering and hoarding of prime commodities, medicines and petroleum product by the Local Price Coordination Council; (see 1 of R.A. 7851)

b. Programming/reprogramming funds for the repair and safety-upgrading of public infrastructure and facilities;

c. Allowing the granting or restructuring of loans by government financing or lending institution to bonafide victims of the disaster in accordance with their respective charters.

The same deferment or moratorium shall be granted to corporate borrowers of aforesaid government credit institutions whose operations are seriously impaired by the calamity.

d. Release of national calamity funds to agencies involved in relief operations and rehabilitation and restoration of damaged infrastructures as well as to affected LGUs.

e. Release of Local Calamity Funds within the affected LGU or other areas affected by a disaster or calamity for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and other works or services.

Under Section 19 of REPUBLIC ACT No. 10121, when there is a State of Calamity, any person, group or corporation who commits any of the following prohibited acts shall be held liable and be subjected to the penalties as prescribed in Section 20 of this Act:

(a) Dereliction of duties which leads to destruction, loss of lives, critical damage of facilities and misuse of funds;

(b) Preventing the entry and distribution of relief goods in disaster-stricken areas, including appropriate technology, tools, equipment, accessories, disaster teams/experts;

(c) Buying, for consumption or resale, from disaster relief agencies any relief goods, equipment or other and commodities which are intended for distribution to disaster affected communities;

(d) Buying, for consumption or resale, from the recipient disaster affected persons any relief goods, equipment or other aid commodities received by them;

(e) Selling of relief goods, equipment or other aid commodities which are intended for distribution to disaster victims;

(f) Forcibly seizing relief goods, equipment or other aid commodities intended for or consigned to a specific group of victims or relief agency;

(g) Diverting or misdelivery of relief goods, equipment or other aid commodities to persons other than the rightful recipient or consignee;

(h) Accepting, possessing, using or disposing relief goods, equipment or other aid commodities not intended for nor consigned to him/her;

(i) Misrepresenting the source of relief goods, equipment or other aid commodities by:

(1) Either covering, replacing or defacing the labels of the containers to make it appear that the goods, equipment or other aid commodities came from another agency or persons;

(2) Repacking the! goods, equipment or other aid commodities into containers with different markings to make it appear that the goods came from another agency or persons or was released upon the instance of a particular agency or persons;

(3) Making false verbal claim that the goods, equipment or other and commodity m its untampered original containers actually came from another agency or persons or was released upon the instance of a particular agency or persons;

(j) Substituting or replacing relief goods, equipment or other aid commodities with the same items or inferior/cheaper quality;

(k) Illegal solicitations by persons or organizations representing others as defined in the standards and guidelines set by the NDRRMC;

(l) Deliberate use of false at inflated data in support of the request for funding, relief goods, equipment or other aid commodities for emergency assistance or livelihood projects; and

(m) Tampering with or stealing hazard monitoring and disaster preparedness equipment and paraphernalia.

Batocabe to be laid to rest today

Photo: PIA

DARAGA, Albay (Bicol Standard) -- Cries and calls for justice filled the necrological mass and funeral procession of the late Ako Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe this morning here.

The mass for Batocabe, which was attended by relatives and supporters, was held at Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church.

The late congressman will be buried at Daraga Catholic Cemetery.

Meantime, the police is continuing with its investigation on the shooting of Batocabe and his aide at a gift-giving activity for senior citizens and persons with disability in this town.

Last week, the police released the facial sketches of two of the persons of interest in the killing.

Reward of 50 million pesos is being offered for information that will lead to the identification of the perpetrators.

Barangay kagawad kan Paracale, binadil, gadan

PARACALE, Camarines Norte (Bicol Standard) -- Binadil nin duwang dai bistong lalaki si Brgy. Kagawad Lope Elnar y Era, 61 kan P-9, Brgy. Batobalani sa banwaan na ini kasubagong ala 1:00 nin aga, sabi sa report kan puli.

Si Elnar nakalunad sa tricycle kan sina paputokan nin pirang beses sa saiyang lawas, gamit kan mga suspechado an dai aram na kalibre nin badil.

Bigla sanang nagbutwa an mga para gadan hale sa madiklom na lugar kan tinampo, dangan binadil tulos an biktima.

Pakatapos na maseguro kan mga kriminal na may mga mortal nang tama sa lawas an biktima, marikas sindang nagdulag pasiring sa dae maderminaran na lugar.

Idinalagan pa man kuta si Elnar sa Labo District Hospital para ipabulong.

Alagad, pig declarar kan doctor na mayo na siya nin buhay.

Mayo pa nin ideya an mga awtoridad kun ano an motibo kan krimen.

Nagpapadagos an imbestigasyon hasta ngonian.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

‘Usman’ leaves PHP2.73-M initial agri damage in CamSur, Samar

MANILA -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Sunday reported a PHP2.73-million initial damage to agricultural products caused by Tropical Depression Usman which is now downgraded to a low-pressure area (LPA).

Based on the DA-Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Operation Center Bulletin No. 1, as of 8 a.m. Sunday, damage to palay was recorded at PHP2.13 million planted on 684 hectares farm land, affecting 195 farmers in Camarines Sur and Samar areas.

For corn crops, a total of PHP604,107 were destroyed, affecting 463 hectares and 197 farmers in the provinces of Camarines Sur and Masbate.

The DA said it has already prepositioned seed reserves for rice, corn, high value crops, and needed fertilizers in the affected areas. (PNA)

'Usman' death toll in Bicol reaches 35

Photo: Bicol PNP

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard) – The number of casualties brought about by ‘Usman’ in the Bicol region has risen to 35, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional office reported.

In its data as of 6 a.m., December 30, the OCD said that of the 35, 12 were killed in Albay; 4 in Sorsogon; 9 in Camarines Sur; 3 in Camarines Norte; and 7 in Masbate.

Landslides and drowning in floods were pinpointed as the causes of death in the same report.

In an interview with the media, OCD Bicol Director Claudio Yucot maintained that the office earlier warned residents in flood- and landslide-prone areas to evacuate.

Some, however, did not heed the warnings, especially since Bicol was placed only under Signal Number 1, Yucot said.

Meantime, authorities are still conducting rescue operations to families affected by ‘Usman’ as of this afternoon.

DOH Bicol to step up in condom use campaign vs HIV

DOH-5 Regional Director Ernie Vera announced his plan to tap the media in the promotion of condom use during a press conference in Legazpi City earlier this month. (Photo  by Casandra Balala)

LEGAZPI CITY—As it seeks to stop the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the Department of Health in Bicol (DOH-5) plans to do more in the promotion of use and distribution of condoms.

“We can control HIV. The implementation of condom use program was the strategy of Thailand to prevent and lessen HIV cases,” Dr. Ernie Vera, DOH regional director for Bicol, said.

Vera said Thailand had an HIV epidemic before, but the Philippines’ neighboring country addressed the problem through the implementation of a condom use promotion strategy.

DOH data showed that from last January to September, Bicol reported 229 cases of HIV, a virus that infects cells of the immune system, making the patient vulnerable to infections, a condition called acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus can be detected 11 days after a person had a contact with a person with HIV.

Vera said condoms are free at rural health units. He appealed to local government units to enact an ordinance that supports the condom use program under RA 8504 or the Philippine HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act.

Condom use is intended not only for family planning, but also for disease prevention, he said. “Sadly, there is a low utilization of condom in the Philippines.”

Vera said DOH-5’s ABCDE campaign will give emphasis to condom distribution and use to reverse this underutilization. ABCDE stands for Abstinence; Be Mutually Faithful; Consistent use of Condom; Do not Abuse Alcohol or share needle; and Education—the safe sex practices espoused by DOH.

DOH statitics also reveal that the Philippines has 32 new HIV infections each day. The mounting number of new infections has been acute among men who have sex with men.

“Right now, DOH Bicol is engaging the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community to become part of the advocacy to prevent HIV,” Vera said.

Through several conventions, DOH welcomed the LGBT as its partners and advocates who could encourage their peers to undergo HIV tests, he added. (PIA-5)

Cop shoots himself in the head

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard) – A police officer residing allegedly shot himself inside the comfort room of this residence using his .22 caliber pistol, the Naga City Police Office reported.

Hector Nepomuceno y Abis, 26 years old, and a resident of Matuninong St., Barangay San Francisco, this city expired while he was being rushed to Mother Seton Hospital by a rescue ambulance.

Investigators said Nepomuceno shot himself on his right temple.

Nepomuceno is the son of the punong barangay of San Francisco.

18 dead in Bicol due to 'Usman'

Photo: OCD Bicol
NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard) – Eighteen people are dead in this region due to landslides and drowning brought about by the incessant rains of ‘Usman,’ the Police Regional Office 5 announced as of 9 p.m. Saturday, citing a report by the Office of Civil Defense Bicol.

In Albay, a landslide in Barangay San Francisco, Legazpi City claimed the lives of Mia Loreto, Mauro Alegre, and Marco Alegre. Meantime, in Barangay Sugod, Tiwi town, two lifeless male persons whose identities have not been verified have been recovered by the authorities.

In Sorsogon City and Bulan in Sorsogon province, the casualties were identified as Angelina Gerona, Jaime Morrico, Gerald Despabiladeras, and Gilbert Desunia.

In Camarines Sur, Charles Las Penas and Charles Luzande of the town of Lagonoy were both casualties of a landslide.

In Masbate, the casualties were Susana Celesti, Minang Macahilig y Celesti, Rosana Macahilig y Celesti, Juan Francisco y Gigante, Jun Nerza, Teresita Fapillajera, and Marilyn Catarinin of the towns of Claveria, Mobo, and Uson.

Tropical Depression Usman, which has weakened into a Low Pressure Area, continues to bring heavy moderate to heavy rains with lighting and strong winds in the region this morning.

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