‘Butanding’s visit in Legazpi shortened by dirty water

Butanding or Whale Shark. Image is via wikimedia.org.

LEGAZPI CITY—They could have stayed longer at this city’s waters, but noises and contaminated water could have driven away the nine gentle giant whale sharks locally known as butanding to find a better haven.

Tourism officials believed the whale sharks came from Donsol in Sorsogon and wandered to the city’s open waters.

Donsol water is the known sanctuary of whale sharks in Bicol for the past years, although they would sometimes disappear for months only to return after a time.

The nine whale sharks showed up near the shoreline of Legazpi waters on February 10, and already attracted foreign and local tourists. It was the third showing since 2010.

The World Wildlife Fund and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had named three of the gentle giants in a Bicol dialect as “Magaro” (sociable), “Durat” (flirt) and “Mailyas” (unfriendly).

A radio report, however, said some of the butanding already left the city’s waters, which is part of the Albay gulf. The remaining may also follow, quoting former city councilor Carlos Ante of the Bantay Dagat.

Ante said a BFAR report showed that the coastal Legazpi water stretching from barangays Pigcale and Lamba to the four kilometers of the highly developed boulevard at Barangay Puro was highly contaminated due to garbage and human waste.

Puro Boulevard starts from the biggest Bicol waterfront commercial complex Embarcadero De Legazpi Mall, one of the Legazpi’s major tourist attractions.

Early this week, the butanding visitors reportedly dwindled to three.

A source said the butanding would certainly leave the place because of the excessive close interaction from residents to the extent of riding them.

Some residents, however, assailed the Office of Civil Defense for its regular drilling exercise using the Puro coastal area as venue, saying the butanding are disturbed by noises from the helicopter.

Mayor Noel Rosal said he had warned OCD Regional Head Raffy Alejandro to change their venue, believing the disaster-preparedness exercise and helicopter noise could irritate the visiting butanding.

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Syndicate hounding claimants, says CHR

Karen Gomez-Dumpit, CHR director of government linkages, said members of the syndicate had been hounding legitimate beneficiaries so their names would not be stricken off the list of claimants.

The warning came as the agency awaited the appearance of 387 victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime to receive P50,000 each as compensation for the abuses they suffered during martial law in the 1970s.

A total of P19.3 million will go to the victims from the six provinces in Bicol, Dumpit said. The amount is the victims’ share from a court-ordered settlement that arose from a class suit filed in the United States against the estate of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Dumpit, in a phone interview, said the P50,000 was part of the second tranche arising from the $10-million settlement of a case involving a British millionaire who bought a Monet painting believed to be part of the ill-gotten Marcos art collection.  Reports said the buyer had agreed to the settlement for as long as he would not be dragged into the case.

The first tranche amounting to P43,000 was distributed in 2012 to each of the victims for a total of P16.6 million. It came from the $7.5 million awarded to 10,000 martial law victims following a 2011 ruling by a US court in Hawaii on a class suit filed by Robert Swift, the American lead counsel of the claimants.

As early as 4 a.m. on Monday, Myrna Gallardo, a daughter of a human rights abuse victim, and other persons from Sorsogon province were at the CHR office to collect their compensation checks. Mar S. Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon

The article is originally published on February 25, 2014 on Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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Project SNHS Rebuild – February 28, 2014

Cash Donation: Prosec. Honey Deniega & Family (CM grad) P5,000.00



a. BPI ACCNT BALANCE: p74,890.00
Prev. Balance P70,890.00
(Ms. Bañares – P2,000.00
(Ms.Mediodea- P2,000.00)

SNHS main building burning to the ground.

SNHS main building burning to the ground.

b. Shirts bought 658 pieces
paid orders 253 pcs
available for orders 405 pieces


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Project SNHS Rebuild – February 26, 2014



On-hand advance cash payment for shirts:
Batch 2000-Clea Dreu P3000.00
Batch 1972-Ella Chavenia 8000.00 P11,000.00

B. Info drive launched via Bicol TV, Padaba FM and DZRS TV.

The SNHS' main building after the fire.

The SNHS’ main building after the fire.

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Suspect in high school student’s rape, slay yields

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—The suspect in the rape-killing of a third year high school student in Sorsogon City surrendered to the police chief of Sorsogon City on Tuesday in Quezon City.

Chief Superintendent Victor Deona, Bicol police chief, in an interview Wednesday, said Roderick Diesta, 33, a tricycle driver and suspect in the rape and killing of Angela Artita, is now in the custody of Sorsogon City police.

Artita, 16, was found dead along the Diversion Road in Sitio Baribag, Barangay (village) Bibincahan, last Friday.

Investigation showed Artita left home on Thursday to visit a classmate but did not return home. She was last seen riding a tricycle from her classmate’s house, also in Barangay Bibingcahan.

Diesta, according to Deona, fled to Quezon City and hid in the house of his brother, Freddie. Freddie turned over Diesta to police at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

Police on Tuesday filed rape and homicide charges against Diesta at the Sorsogon City prosecutor’s office.

The article is originally published on February 5, 2014 at Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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Project SNHS Rebuild – February 25, 2014


Batch 1980-Dr. Grace alerta- P10,000
Batch 1984-Patrick Paje – 10,000

Total advance payment to supplier P38,000.00

Belated reservation(on hand):
Batch 2000-Clea Dreu- P3,000.00

By Saturday or Monday, Unity Shirts will be available for sale on exclusive outlets at the following price:

Student price(must be with school ID)- P150.00
to be sold only thru SSG-SNHS
Regular price P200.00

exclusive Unity Shirt Outlets:
-SSG c/oMs. Matilde Dino
– clinic of Dr. Nana Banzon
– BUlwagan ng Katarungan c/o Fiscal Gabito
– Batch Presidents/representatives

The main structure of SNHS Main Building is still standing tall. A sure sign that it will rise again. Image is courtesy of Dr. Ma. Theresa L. de Ramon.

The main structure of SNHS Main Building is still standing tall. A sure sign that it will rise again. Image is courtesy of Dr. Ma. Theresa L. de Ramon.


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Church in Sorsogon to keep power co-op in consumer hands

Logo of Soreco II. Image is via BicolToday.com

SORSOGON CITY—Fully aware that Sorsogon Electric Cooperative II (Soreco II) has a status quo that may lead to take the course of Albay Electric Cooperative’s (Aleco)—which was taken over by San Miguel Energy Corp. (SMEC) early last month—the local church in Sorsogon will oppose possible attempts to take Soreco II from the hands of member-consumers, Sorsogon Diocese Media Relations Officer Rev. Fr. Bong Imperial said in a recent statement.

“People shall not be dispossessed of their proprietorship of the cooperative by which they illuminate their homes and propel their local industries,” he said. “To let it squander from the hands of the people is to let them become poorer.”

The majority of Soreco II member-consumers belong to the marginalized sectors—farmers, fishers, market vendors, small entrepreneurs and others who are considered part of the grassroots.

The current number of the cooperative’s member-consumers is 70,000, Soreco II President Percival Alvarez told the Business Mirror in an interview.

The privatization of the cooperative will not only hurt member-consumers, but also employees who have worked with the cooperative for years, Father Imperial said.

The cooperative is deep in debt, he said. If the present management fails to turn the cooperative around, Sorelco II will likely follow the course taken by Aleco.

Aleco was taken over by SMEC, a private power company, early this year as a result of the cooperative’s perpetual inability to assume its financial accountabilities.

Father Imperial said SMEC will not undertake Aleco’s financial liabilities. The member-consumers will do. The power company will also not absorb the mass of people employed by the cooperative, he said.

SMEC is setting its eyes on controlling power distribution in the entire Bicol region, under President Aquino’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program, by taking over all morbid electric cooperatives in the region, he said.

If Soreco II is privatized, electricity rates in its coverage area—which includes the lone city in the province, Sorsogon City—will increase at the pleasure of the private power company, Father Imperial said.

Giving the cooperative to a private power firm will not guarantee consumers will enjoy better services. Power interruptions will be finally addressed, the priest said.

Soreco II is still suffering from the repercussions of its mishandling by the people who previously ran it, Father Imperial said. The mismanagement generated an internal conflict between administrators and the ranks.

Electricity is essential to the communities in the province, the priest said. The cooperative requires competent management to hold it from a possible tailspin into an irreparable financial obligation.

The current management proposes a power-rate hike from P5 to P15, Father Imperial said. But according to a cooperative employee, only a P4 power-rate increase is required to meet the price adjustments for power generation and transmission.

Asked in a text message if the cooperative’s current predicament is remote from a possible tailspin into the fate of Aleco, and if the management can turn around the situation, Alvarez chose not to comment.

Alvarez admitted in an earlier interview that some lines now require rehabilitation, which may cost millions of pesos on the part of the cooperative.

In earlier statement, Alvarez pointed to the government’s power industry policy as the reason electric cooperatives in the country suffer from difficulties, saying they are not allowed to profit from their operations. He called for the revision or repeal of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001, or  Republic Act 9136.

Soreco II started to illuminate households and propel local industries in 1975.

The local Church will definitely do all it can to keep Soreco II in the hands of member-consumers, Father Imperial said.

The original article is published on February 19, 2014 at Business Mirror.

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