PIA News Service - Saturday, March 27, 2010

Minor nabbed for possession of marijuana leaves in Butuan City

BUTUAN CITY (March 27) - Police arrested on Thursday a 17- year old boy from Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur for carrying a bag pack of dried marijuana leaves.

Butuan City policemen, headed by SPO4 Arturo Jimenez, caught up the minor in Purok 1, Barangay Ampayon this city.

Caraga police suspected that the dried marijuana leaves would be sold by the minor here in Butuan City.

The items were immediately brought to the Caraga PNP Crime Laboratory for examination.

Police took custody of the minor suspect.

Civil society in Caraga region has been alarmed lately of the rampant proliferation of illegal drugs in the region. (BS/PIA-Caraga)


Denudation of Lake Lanao watershed stokes Mindanao power crisis

BUTUAN CITY (March 27) – The deteriorating state of Lake Lanao’s watershed area contributes to how quickly its water level ebbed with the onslaught of El Nino phenomenon, officials said Saturday.

They said the slash-and-burn system or “kaingin” and the cutting of trees compounded the destruction in the watershed of Lake Lanao.

In plain view, the official said, the watershed was seriously denuded and “needs immediate attention”.

This development came out after top officials of the government, led by Defense Secretary Norberto B. Gonzales and Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) Chairman Jesus G. Dureza, along with Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) Chairman Vicente T. Lao, inspected early this week the status of Agus power plants, source of Mindanao grid.

The group found the lake's water level had reached its critical level, causing severe power outages in the southern island since late January this year.

They said that the unabated deforestation of the watershed was due to alleged poor implementation of natural resource protection and management laws.

They also said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has a vital role in this regard. They said the island would not have a power crisis of such magnitude if DENR “aggressively managed watershed areas.”

“The DENR should strictly implement watershed management and conservation laws,” said Lao.

The group also flew over the vast portions of the Lake Lanao “that powers the island’s Agus hydroelectric plants (I to IV) and noticed that watershed area appeared “slashed and burned” and heavily denuded.

They said the watershed areas in Mindanao should deligently managed.

The group bared plans to reactivate and convene Lake Lanao stakeholders and other green advocates to address the problem.

“We intend to reactivate the Lake Lanao Development Authority and Lanao-based non-government organization Salaam to draft a comprehensive watershed management plan,” said Dureza, who is a Mindanaon.

At least 70 percent of Mindanao's power supply, mainly from the National Power Corp. (Napocor) generating plants and independent power producers (IPPs), transmitted through its 138 kilovolts (KV) and 69 KV grids, came from hydropower sources.

Meanwhile, the two power barges of the Aboitiz Power Corp. that have been in full operation since their acquisition this year are being used to help ease the electricity shortfall in Mindanao.

Aboitiz Power president and CEO Erramon Aboitiz said Power Barge (PB) 117 and PB 118 each have a generating capacity of 100 megawatts (MW).

Aboitiz said Power Barge (PB) 117 was moored in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte, while PB 118 was brought to the province of Compostella Valley.

However, they said the contribution of the power barges in the power demand of 1,500 MWs in Mindanao was just a “tip of the iceberg.”

The water levels in Lake Lanao and other hydropower sources continue to dampen the generating capacities of most power plants in Mindanao.

All the 33 islands’ cooperatives are still sticking to its scheduled rotation of power outages in the range of four to six hours.

On Saturday’s advisory, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said the available capacity of power plants reached only 726 MW.

The cooperatives spread all over the southern island said the continuing outages was due to the much-reduced generation capacity of the hydro electric plants in Lake Lanao and Pulangi River in Bukidnon.

Despite of the voluntary de-loading from major industries in the island, Mindanao consumers still suffer power curtailment.

Big Mindanao companies have agreed to de-load during the peak hours around noon and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. (muc/PIA-Caraga)


Minor sells big vintage bomb in Agusan del Sur

CAMP RAFAEL C. RODRIGUEZ, Butuan City (March 27) – A minor found a vintage bomb believed to be World War ll war material at Purok 2, Barangay (village) San Teodoro, Bunawan town, Agusan del Sur province, police reported Saturday.

Agusan del Sur provincial police office said the minor sold the vintage bomb to a junk shop in Bunawan town.

A concerned citizen, who detected the bomb, immediately reported it to Bunawan Police Station on Friday.

Follow up police team, led by Sr. Insp. Romeo Villalobos, Bunawan police chief, recovered the vintage bomb from the junk shop and brought to the police station for temporary custody.

In a separate development, Chief Supt. Lino D. Calingasan, regional director of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) on Saturday ordered field commanders to help the military in extending security to all construction firms who are currently building government infrastructures such as roads and bridges in their respective areas of jurisdictions.

The region’s police chief also ordered assistance to the Army who were currently conducting massive pursuit operations against the communist-New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

Calingasan directives came out after undetermined number of heavily armed communist terrorists burned 2 unit backhoe excavators and 1 bulldozer owned by Markbelt Corp. at Sitio Baclise, Barangay Angas, Sta. Josefa town, Agusan del Sur at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Markbelt was hired by National Irrigation Authority (NIA) to construct a road in the mountainous area infiltrated by the NPA’s.

Calingasan said the suspected arsonists were members of communist-Front Committee 3 of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC). (muc/PIA-Caraga)


P285-M MRDP projects set for Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (March 27) – The World Bank (WB) and officials and technical men of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), along with the Department of Agriculture (DA), are preparing for the implementation of P285 million worth of additional development projects for Mindanao, it was learned Saturday.

The World Bank team is now conducting site visits and assessments in the participating areas in Mindanao to review the anti-poverty program of the Department of Agriculture.

The team will assess the impact of these agricultural infrastructure projects, livelihood, governance reform and environmental projects under the MRDP.

It hopes to see attainment of the two program objectives, which are to provide livelihood opportunities to these areas and institutionalize a decentralized system for the delivery of agricultural services.

MRDP program is part of the food security program of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration in Mindanao.

MRDP, a five-year WB-funded program, is now on its second phase and third year of implementation of farmers’ countryside development.

The MRDP aims to increase income of farmers, capacitating women and indigenous people, and enhancing local governance and environmental protection.

The MRDP program has already accomplished over P131 million worth of agricultural infrastructure, including close to 66 kilometers of farm-to-market roads, bridges and four units of potable water systems.

The third-year implementation involves P271 million for the rural infrastructure and P14 million for the community fund for agricultural development.

The WB urges more qualified local government units (LGUs) to avail of the MRDP as it holds its second phase of program implementation.

Lealyn Ramos, program director of MRDP, urged qualified LGUs in Mindanao to participate and avail of the program.

Of the 225 municipalities that are allowed to avail of the 50 percent grant from WB through MRDP, only 118 towns participated, Ramos said.

However, it was gathered that the lack of participation was caused by the 50-50 scheme set by MRDP and some LGUs do not have enough financial capacity to carry out the equity share.

However, Ramos said the LGUs can actually source out their equity share from the provincial government or the district representative if the municipality really lacks the money to put in as their counterpart fund. (muc/PIA-Caraga)