PIA News Service - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

BFP-Caraga leads observance of Fire Prevention Month in the region

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) - The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Caraga region led other government and private agencies in the observance of the fire prevention month at this region’s capital city Monday morning. 

Stakeholders from the government and non-government sectors participated in the 7 a.m. mass at Rizal Park and motorcade around the city’s main thoroughfares to kick off the event. 

The fire stations and volunteer fire brigades from different parts of the region also participated in the ceremony, personally headed by Senior Supt. Warlito Daus, regional director of BFP-Caraga. 

Mayor Democrito Plaza ll led the local officials in the program. 

According to Director Daus, the annual advocacy aims to foster cooperation, commitment and linkages as forefront in public safety service which is the main focus of the Fire department. 

March every year is being observed as the fire prevention month pursuant to Presidential Proclamation which was signed on Nov. 17, 1967 by then president Ferdinand Marcos. 

This year's celebration is anchored on the theme: "Sustaining Fire Prevention through Active Community Participation." (muc/PIA-Caraga)
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Business, political leaders want PGMA's emergency powers to solve Mindanao energy crisis

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) – Mindanao power stakeholders,including congressmen and governors, have called for the granting of emergency powers to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo due to worsening power crisis in the southern island. 

Seeing the need for a drastic move to solve power shortage from 6 to 8 hours a day in Mindanao, the Mindanao power stakeholders and local leaders urged Congress for an emergency session to address the immediate solution to the worsening power crisis which already badly affected thousands of residents, business sector especially major industries. 

“To purchase power generator set will take many days or months and the President need this power,” said Surigao del Sur Gov. Vicente Pimentel. 

Surigao del Norte Representatives Francisco T. Matugas and Guillermo Romarate also voiced their sentiments on the ongoing power curtailment imposed by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP). 

“At present, we are suffering 8 hours power curtailment in our province particularly in island towns,” Rep. Matugas said, adding “ the President should need this emergency power now”. 

Surigao del Norte Rep. Philip Pichay and Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose Aquino also supported the call for the emergency power of the President. 

In a power stakeholders meeting called by Presidential Adviser for Mindanao Jesus G. Dureza over the weekend in Southern Mindanao frontier city of Davao, the island’s largest Davao Light and Power Company also recommended an immediate congressional action, granting President Arroyo the emergency powers to address the worsening power crisis. 

"Through the Mindanao Electric Power Alliance we are willing to come up with an urgent resolution calling for it," said Davao Light and Power Company official Manuel Orig said. 

The Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 provides an electric power crisis provision allowing the President of the Philippines to establish additional generating capacity, as the Congress may authorize. 

The proposal to declare Mindanao under a state of emergency first came out from Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez after the NGCP announced that Mindanao might face a shortfall of four megawatts on May 10, in time for the national and local elections due to low water level of the Mindanao grid in Lake Lanao and Pulangi River in Bukidnon. 

Dureza welcomed the proposed resolution by the Mindanao Electric Power Alliance. 

However, he was apprehensive that the public might view it as a political spin. 

"It is very important to set the facts clearly first by telling the public the real situation of Mindanao power. This way, we could convince our legislators that a drastic move is needed to address this crisis," added Sec. Dureza. 

Initially, Dureza, Mindanao Super Region Champion and Presidential Assistant for Mindanao, recommended for the establishment of an information desk where all concerned agencies may dispatch information regarding power crisis to reach the general public. 

Meanwhile, the Mindanao Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce will also come up their resolution to help alleviate the worsening power crisis in the southern island. (muc/PIA-Caraga)
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100,000 residents of Caraga coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean flee homes for fear of possible tsunami 

SURIGAO CITY (March 2) – Fearing a possible tsunami onslaught following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Chile on Saturday, some 100,000 residents of coastal areas in the twin provinces of Surigao, Surigao City, Siargao and Dinagat Islands have evacuated to safer places. 

Initiated by local government unit (LGU) officials in the provinces, cities, towns and barangays facing the Pacific Ocean, the residents sought refuge near the mountains and other higher grounds, schools, churches, day care and health centers and gymnasiums. 

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Caraga reported on Sunday morning that the evacuation happened in the coastal towns of Lianga, Barobo, Carrascal and Cortes in Surigao del Sur, island towns in Surigao del Norte and five barangays in Surigao City. 

“They started their evacuation since last night,” said OCD Regional Director Blanche T. Gobenciong. 

“This is the initiative of our local officials despite that our advisory is only to stay alert,” she said. 

Residents living along the coastline of General Luna, Pilar, San Isidro, Burgos, and Dapa in Siargao Island already evacuated to higher grounds following the advisories made by their local chief executives and have decided to do preemptive evacuation, Gobenciong said. 

Surigao del Norte Congressmen Francisco T. Matugas and Guillermo Romarate, Surigao del Sur Governor Vicente Pimentel, Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Ace Barbers and Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra already alerted their respective disaster councils for a possible tsunami onslaught. 

As this developed, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in Surigao raised “Tsunami Alert Level 2” in the eastern seaboard coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean. 

Gobenciong said people living along the coastal areas and fishermen are advised to stay away from the shorelines for possible unusual wave activity. 

“Those whose houses are very near the coastal areas and shorelines are also advised to go further inland,” she added. 

The OCD Caraga and Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) directed all disaster councils spread all over the region, specially those in the coastal areas, to implement preparedness measures. 

Shipping lines are also advised to ensure that their respective vessels stay away from the possible path of a tsunami. 

Meanwhile, thousands of residents in the east coast of Tandag City, Surigao del Sur and Mati City in Davao Oriental have moved to higher grounds as of 10 a.m. Sunday due to the tsunami alert issued by the Phivolcs. 

Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat said many residents, especially those leaving near seas, did not sleep because of the tsunami warning. 

She said the city's disaster teams, as well as the Coast Guard, have already been put on alert. 

Mayor Rabat added that many residents living along the white sand beaches of the village of Dahican have already moved to higher and safer grounds after noting a rise in the water level in the area. 

In Tarragona, a southern tip town of Davao Oriental which also faces the Pacific Ocean, several residents have already evacuated to higher grounds, it was learned. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

 
5.0 magnitude quake hits southern tip city of Mati in Southern Mindanao

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) - Residents in Pacific Ocean facing-city of Mati in Davao Oriental were rattled when a 5.0 magnitude tremor struck that southern tip city before noon Monday, it was learned. 

However, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) reported that there were no reports of damage or injuries from the undersea quake that occurred 16 kilometers northwest of Mati, capital city of Davao Oriental. 

The 5.0 magnitude earthquake happened at 11:15 in the morning, said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). 

It hit at a depth of 001.0 kilometer. 

The epicenter was estimated at 07.06 kilometers north of Mati City, Phivolcs said. 

An intensity 2 tremor was felt in neighboring areas such as Bislig City, in Surigao del Sur. 

Last month, residents in Surigao del Sur were also rattled when a 4.7 magnitude earthquake also took place, 97 kilometers off Surigao City. No reported damage or hurt during that incident. 

The Philippines sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

 
1,500 delegates to participate in 5th Mindanao Cooperative Summit in Butuan City

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) - At least 1,500 delegates coming from various parts of Mindanao are set to participate in the forthcoming two-day 5th Mindanao Cooperative Summit to be held at downtown hotel, resort and convention center at this region’s capital city on March 4 and 5, this year. 

The various committees from the Regional Cooperative Development Council (RCDC)-Caraga region and Philippine Information Agency (PIA) announced Tuesday that all preparations are all already set for the big cooperative confab. 

Top cooperative leaders in the southern island already pledged their two-day attendance. 

Francis Loque, chairperson of RCDC Caraga region and also chair of the summit’s host executive committee, led the final coordinating conference on Tuesday and lay down preparations. 

This year’s 5th Mindanao Cooperative Summit carries the theme: “Mindanao Coops in the Face of Present Day Challenges: Outsmarting Impacts of Global Financial Crisis”, where RCDC Caraga will host the summit for the first time. 

The summit aims to provide an avenue for cooperative stakeholders in different regions in Mindanao to enrich their understanding on the current trends of outsmarting impacts of global financial crisis and create a synergistic response to its challenges, Loque said. 

Also, the summit will bring together cooperative leaders from different regions as well as guests from all over the country. 

“It will be a rare learning opportunity as seasoned speakers will talk and share best practices and success experiences as examples to develop and strengthen cooperatives in Mindanao,” he added. 
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Aside from cooperative concern, the delegates in that two-day summit are also expected to tackle the current problem on El Nino and Mindanao power crisis. 

“Our main agenda of this summit is how to strengthen Mindanao cooperatives towards development and progress,” said Region Xlll PIA Regional Director Abner Caga. (muc/PIA-Caraga)
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P100-M Tubay-Lake Mainit circumferential road set to commence in Agusan del Norte 

BUTUAN CITY (March 2) - A P100-million concreting of Tubay-Lake Mainit circumferential road is set to commence before end of this month in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, a top public works official said Tuesday. 

The project in Lake Mainit, the fourth largest fresh water lake in the Philippines, is part of the Lake Mainit Development Plan. 

The concreting of lake Mainit circumferential road which stretches from Bangunay to the boundary of Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte has a total of 20.24 kilometers. Only 3.357 kilometers has already been concreted while the remaining 16.883 kilometer is still gravel road. 

Town officials bounding the Lake Mainit said the concreting of this road is very essential to attract local and foreign visitors, particularly tourists, into taking an unforgettable nature trip in this eastern side of Caraga region. 

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional director of Caraga region Dr. Evelyn T. Barroso said the initial P50 million of the P100-million fund is set to be released anytime. 

“The ground works of the concreting of this circumferential road project will start before the end of this month,” assured Director Barroso. 

Initially, the contractor will conduct rock excavation, sub-base courses and earthworks of the 5.5 kilometers Tubay-Lake Mainit circumferential road, added the region’s DPWH chief. 

Meanwhile, the P628-million road construction of the Lingig (Surigao del Sur) to Boston (Davao Oriental) regional boundary section went into high gear and expected to be completed by June 30 this year, said Director Barroso. 

All earth-moving equipments of the contractor, construction engineers and workers were already mobilized after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo personally conducted an on-site inspection late last month. 

In another development, the Regional Development Council (RDC) announced a P212.17-million Butuan-Cagayan de Oro- Iligan Road, Butuan City Section project. 

In a full-membership RDC meeting in Surigao City last week, the RDC said the road project has a total length 16.16 kilometers consisting of 9.84 kilometers asphalt overlay and 5.55 kilometers reconstruction. 

The funding is part of the three tranches proposed $ 1.003 billion Asian Development Bank (ADB) Road Sector Improvement Project (RSIP), the RDC added. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

 
Residents in Surigao provinces, islands heave sigh of relief after Tsunami scare 

SURIGAO CITY (March 2) - Thousands of Surigaonons including local officials heaved a sigh of relief late Sunday afternoon after the government lifted the tsunami alert. 

Several residents went back to their respective homes late Sunday afternoon while others did so Monday morning. 

The provincial, municipal and city government of Surigao del Norte and Surigao City mobilized several vehicles and motor boats to ferry the evacuees back home. Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Ace Barbers and Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra also distributed some provisions to the evacuees. 

Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco T. Matugas who personally conducted a town-to-town and island-to-island inspection of his constituents since early Sunday morning also heaved a sigh of relief when the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Surigao announced the lifting of Alert Level 2 late Sunday afternoon. 

“Thank God,” said Rep. Matugas. 

In Surigao del Sur, Governor Vicente Pimentel also led other provincial, municipal and city officials ferry their constituents back to their respective places, particularly those living along the coastal areas. 
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In the southern tip city of Mati in Southern and Northeastern Mindanao, local officials also distributed snack packs consisting of bread and bottled water to returning residents in their respective homes from 16 coastal villages who had earlier camped out in sports gymnasiums and the provincial capitol. 

Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat offered vehicles to the evacuees and ferried them back home. 

“So far, life in Surigao provinces, especially of those living in the islands is slowly returning to normal,” declared Rep. Matugas. 

He said the evacuation of the residents and return home was orderly and systematic. 

The Surigao del Norte solon only noted that the people in Surigao have learned a lesson that is to be prepared to respond to any threat. 

Matugas said the residents voluntarily left their homes and sought higher ground and safer places, a normal thing to do for those who are living near the sea and facing a threat such as a tsunami. 

The Surigao del Norte solon suggested that disaster drills be sustained and all sectors must participate to avert loss of lives and properties. (muc/PIA-Caraga)