Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Philippine Senator Calls Chief Justice Funny

Senator–judge Franklin Drilon has considered as "funny" the challenge of Chief Justice Renato Corona for him to sign a blank waiver authorizing government entities to examine all his bank records as well as statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

"I find it funny," was the short response of Drilon to Corona's challenge addressed also to the 188 congressmen who signed the impeachment complaints against the chief magistrate.

In his first appearance in his own impeachment trial, Corona signed a waiver authorizing the government agencies to examine all his dollar deposits and peso bank accounts to prove that he is not hiding anything illegal.

Corona, however, said he will only formally submit his waiver if the 188 complainants as well as Drilon will sign similar waiver.

After making his challenge, Corona suddenly walked out of the witness stand, forcing Senate President and presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile to close all the doors of the Senate building to prevent the Chief Justice from leaving.

The defense panel later asked apology for Corona's departure, saying the chief magistrate suffered from hypoglycemia being a diabetic.

The defense asked the impeachment court to allow Corona to return on Wednesday, a request granted by visibly irritated Senate President.

Maintaining Diplomacy Over China's Stealing of Philippine Island

By Gloria Jane Baylon

China continues with its position of "committing to diplomatic consultations" with the Philippines over the disputed Scarborough Shoal and asked that Manila "send a clear and consistent message" along that tack, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a recent press conference in Beijing. 

The text of Hong's statement was relayed to Philippine media by the Chinese embassy in Manila, through its political officer and spokesperson, Zhang Hua.

Once again citing China's historical sovereignty over what is known to the Chinese as Huangyan Dao and Bajo de Masinloc to the Philippines, Hong sidestepped any suggestion at the press conference of third-party "meddling" in the dispute.

Specifically mentioned by the questioning journalist was Russia, a major China ally and a co-permanent member of the powerful United Nations Security Council.

Instead, Hong told journalists: "…China's position of committing to diplomatic consultation to address the current situation remains unchanged. We hope that the Philippine side will work towards the same direction with the Chinese side, take China's concerns seriously, return to the correct path of diplomatic solution and hence send a clear and consistent message."

The questioner wanted China's reaction to reports that "Russia had recently expressed that its opposition to meddling in the Huangyan Island issue by countries which are not parties to it."

The questioner was apparently alluding to the fact that China's sole tack on territorial disputes is bilateral diplomatic talks with the Philippines.

On the other hand, Manila posits not only a diplomatic route but also a multilateral approach through, for example, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the international law-based mode via the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

Amid Manila's stand-off with Beijing on Bajo de Masinloc, the Department of Foreign Affairs cites US commitment to defend the Philippines under the Mutual Defense Treaty.

At the same press conference, Hong was asked China's reaction to an attempt by retired Filipino military man, Nicanor Faeldon, to sail to the Scarborough late last week and plant the Philippine flag.

Faeldon later claimed he abandoned his plans because of a direct personal plea from President Benigno Aquino III via telephone. Aquino purportedly told him not to add to the heat of the debate on the dispute.

"We have also taken notice of the reports," Hong responded, adding that "the Chinese side will remain highly vigilant on the island and obstruct any provocative behavior."

Meanwhile, Armed Forces spokesperson, Col. Arnulfo Burgos, said in a text message to the Philippines News Agency that "there is no truth" to a newspaper report about a botched attempt by the Philippine navy to shoo off Chinese fishermen out of Scarborough on April 8.

The Information Office of China's Ministry of Defense also corrected a Philippine media report that China was sending five warships to waters near the Philippines.

That was a "recent drill by a naval fleet of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the West Pacific waters," the Ministry said. "It is a regular training program included in its annual plan, not aimed at any particular country or target."

Drama of Chief Justice Renato Corona

By Jelly F. Musico

Senate President and president officer Juan Ponce Enrile ordered the Senate sergeant-at-arms to close all the doors of the Senate building after Chief Justice Renato Corona walked out of the witness stand after signing a conditional waiver authorizing the opening of all his peso and dollar accounts. 

After testifying for two hours, Corona excused himself without the approval from the presiding officer and left the witness stand allegedly after feeling ill due to his diabetes.

Enrile was visibly unhappy by Corona's action as he ordered that all the doors of the Senate be closed to prevent the chief magistrate from leaving the building.

"Nobody can get out of the Senate. I ordered all the doors be closed. I don't want any defiance of this impeachment court. If you are going to disrespect this court, the court will make a decision of this case right now," the visibly irritated Enrile said.

Enrile also warned the audience from the gallery for continuously booing specially when defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas said Corona is taking his medicine and attending his personal necessity.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have been patient. I warned you. If you are going to continue to be disorderly, I will ask the sergeant-at-arms to escort all of you out of this session hall. I hope you understand the decorum required by this court. You may booed in some other place but not in this court. So ordered!"

Cuevas asked for recess to check the whereabouts of Corona who, later as claimed by his lawyers, went to the clinic to have his blood sugar checked.

"The chief justice has not eaten his lunch and he felt fainting 20 minutes before the trial because of his diabetes," according to his lawyer Jose Roy III.

Roy, later, said Corona might not come back to the witness stand, adding "the chief justice is feeling tired and dizzy."

An all senator-judges caucus has been called to decide on the drama that highlighted the much-anticipated appearance of the chief magistrate.

Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill of the Philippines

By Ed O. Barrita

Deputy Speaker Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III has said the House of Representatives may pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill before the start of their recess on June 6. 

Tanada, the principal author of the proposed Freedom of information Law, said Malacanang formed a study group whose members recommended some amendments to the bill.

The first amendment to his bill is the insertion of the words "national security," thereby expanding the concept of national security beyond national defense and foreign affairs.

However, Tanada said Congress must define the meaning of national security because they will not allow the President or any other officials to just say a piece of information cannot be released to anybody because it involves national security.

The second amendment is in relation to policy-making, where access of information to the public is given only if a policy decision of the government is already approved.

No information shall be given when the proposed policy is still being discussed by concerned government officials.

The third amendment is the insertion of mandatory disclosure in government websites of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (Saln) of the president, vice president, senators, congressmen, cabinet members and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) with the rank of one star and above.

The fourth amendment is to delete the criminal aspect of the proposed law, such as the imprisonment of a public official who will deny access of information to the public for one reason or another.

Only administrative sanction such as suspension of that official from the service is recommended.

"I believe these amendments should be enacted into law," Tanada said.

Tanada said that even President Benigno S. Aquino III believed that his Freedom of Information Bill is important and should be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Day 40 of Impeachment Trial of Renato Corona

by PNA
On Day 40 of his impeachment trial on Tuesday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona delivered his much-awaited testimony before the Senate, sitting as the impeachment court. 

In his opening statement, Corona said his appearance was a fulfillment of his promise to the Filipino people to answer all allegations hurled against him.

Corona, in his testimony, accused the government of using its entire machinery to discredit and impeach him.

He also accused the House of Representatives' prosecution panel of engaging in "dirty tactics."

Corona said the case was filed without solid evidence.

He accused the prosecution of abusing the law to prosecute him and this, according to him, is "unacceptable."

The chief magistrate also dragged President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Hacienda Luisita issue, and Presidential Political Adviser Ronald Llamas in the impeachment case.

He also accused the President of wanting to control the three branches of government -- legislative, executive and the judiciary.

Corona also admitted, in his testimony, of investing in foreign currency business.

He also discussed the Basa-Guidote issue, even saying that the late Jose Basa oppressed his mother-in-law and family.

Corona also denied acquiring 45 properties, admitting to owning only five which, according to him, were all declared in his statements of assets, liabilities and networth (SALNs).

He also denied having US$ 10-12 million deposits in 82 bank accounts as he accused Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales of misleading the court, saying the Ombudsman's information came from "polluted source."

The prosecution defended the Ombudsman saying that Carpio-Morales "acted well within her general and specific powers, and did not do acts violative of either the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (FCDA) or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA)."

After his testimony, Corona walked out of the Senate impeachment court, which prompted Senate President and presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile to issue a warning against the chief justice that his long testimony would be stricken off the record and the court would render a verdict on the impeachment case if the chief magistrate would not return to the witness stand and allow himself to be cross-examined by the prosecution and the senator-judges.

"We will give Corona until tomorrow (Wednesday) to return. If he does not return, we will consider this case submitted for resolution. If corona does not want to be cross-examined, I will order his statement stricken off the record," Enrile said.

Enrile's decision was supported by all the 23 senators present during the 40th day of the impeachment trial.

Meanwhile, the prosecution panel said the alleged "premeditated" and "planned walkout" of Corona only show that the chief magistrate has no intention to be cross-examined.

They said what the chief justice did was "a blatant insult and disrespect to the impeachment court."

The prosecution said the chief magistrate's actuation was unbecoming of a chief justice.

As head of the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of the land, it was shameful that the chief magistrate had resorted to this stunt, they said.

Senator–judge Franklin Drilon, for his part, considered as "funny" the challenge of the chief justice for him and the 188 congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint to sign a blank waiver authorizing government entities concerned to examine all their bank records as well as their SALNs.

"I find it funny," was the short response of Drilon to Corona's challenge.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casino also said that the chief justice's challenge was obviously "a publicity stunt that does not deserve any serious consideration."

"It is a ploy to justify his continued refusal to reveal his true assets from the impeachment court. Unless he (Corona) answers questions from the prosecution, he has no right demanding anything from anyone," he said.

Defense lead counsel former SC Justice Serafin Cuevas, meanwhile, apologized for Corona's sudden departure from the session hall even as he got boos from the gallery.

Corona returned to the session hall on a wheelchair, forcing Cuevas to ask for suspension of the hearing to give the chief magistrate enough time to recover from hypoglycemia.

"He is not physically able and not mentally suited to carry on the direct examination. Corona will continue his testimony but not today," Cuevas said.

Enrile granted the request of the defense and, at the same time, demanded respect from Corona.

OWWA in Cebu City, Philippines

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) 7 celebrated its 30th Founding Anniversary by recognizing four of its institutional partners in Cebu.

The Apostleship of the Sea-Cebu, Stella Maris Seafarers' Center, Center for Overseas Women-Cebu, and ECMI-CBCP Visayas were given tokens of appreciation for their help and cooperation with OWWA.

Through them, OFWs receive financial support and advice over the years.

There are about 120,000 active OFW members of OWWA in Region 7, who have benefited from these NGOs.

OWWA and its NGO partners have been responsive to the welfare of their members and their families.

"On behalf of Region 7, I wish to thank all of you for your valuable support and continued services in uplifting the lives and well-being of our modern-day heroes, the OFWs, and their families," Wilfreda Misterio, OWWA 7 director, said.

Dormitory, Boarding House, Apartment Must Secure Business Permit

The city government has called on all dormitories here to secure business permits at city hall before they can rent out rooms or accommodate borders.

City Administrator Antonio Orendain Jr. said the license requirement should also cover homes that offer rooms for rent to students in Zamboanga.

Orendain warned that students staying in unlicensed dormitories may be evicted if it is discovered that these buildings are not covered by proper document.

He said that owners of apartments, dormitories or homes that offer temporary sources of income may lose money if they do not secure licenses for their operations and their homes or apartments will be padlocked by the city government.

Zamboanga City is the center of education in the Peninsula with several big universities and colleges catering to students from the island provinces such as Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Thousands of students from these island provinces and the three Zamboanga provinces -- Del Norte, Del Sur and Sibugay -- also go to Zamboanga for their college degrees.

The Western Mindanao State University (former Zamboanga Normal School), the Zamboanga City Polytechnic Colleges (former Regional School of Arts and Trades) and the Zamboanga Regional School of Fisheries are government educational institutions that provide college education at lower costs.

Aside from these government schools, there are also about a dozen colleges that offer several bachelor courses as well as short term vocational courses to students from the region.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) also offers cheap or subsidized training, mostly on manual skills courses, including language courses for other colleges graduates who want to shift from white collar courses to blue collar jobs.

Since these out of town students seldom have relatives in Zamboanga, they end up staying in dormitories or boarding houses in this city.

Orendain said these boarding houses must comply with all the requirements from the City Health Office such as comfort rooms and kitchen areas.

Dengue Cases in Negros Oriental Rising

The Department of Health (DOH) in Negros Oriental has confirmed an increase in the number of dengue cases in the province.

Dr. Socrates Villamor, provincial DOH chief, said that confirmed dengue cases in Negros Oriental reached 235 from Jan. 1 to May 15 this year. The figures were based on admission cases at the three hospitals in Dumaguete City, namely, Holy Child Hospital, Silliman University Medical Center, and the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital.

Villamor said a 33 percent increase was noted this year over last year's figures of 177 cases and no deaths due to dengue for the same period covered.

Two deaths, involving pre-school children, were also reported within the period from Jan. 1 to May 15, this year.

Villamor said the fatalities, both girls, were a 5-year old from Sibulan town who died last January, and a 3-year old from Bacong who succumbed to the disease just last week.

He allayed fears of an epidemic outbreak of dengue cases in the province, saying the increase was expected because of the arrival of the rainy season. Health officials are anticipating further rise in the number of dengue cases during the coming months.

Dumaguete City tops the list of the 10 local government units in Negros Oriental having the highest number of dengue cases at 109. Bayawan City came in second with 23 cases, followed by Tanjay with 19; Bais, 10; Bacong, 9; Sibulan, 8; Manjuyod and San Jose, 7 each; and Dauin and Guihulngan, 6 cases each.

The municipalities of Amlan, Vallehermoso, La Libertad and Jimalalud had no dengue cases reported for the same period, while the rest of the cities and municipalities had five cases and below.

Dr. Villamor appealed to the public to begin adopting the government's 4S strategy in combating dengue.

The 4S strategy stands for Search and Destroy breeding places of dengue mosquito vectors, Seek early consultation, adopt Self-Protection measures like the use of insect repellant lotion, and Say No to indiscriminate fogging.

According to Dr. Villamor, patients who manifest symptoms of high fever, rashes and nausea, among others, must consult a physician immediately as most cases with the said symptoms nowadays are being considered as suspect dengue cases.

Garbage Problem in Cebu, Philippines

Businessman Ephrain "Jun" Pelaez Jr. has issued a notice to sue barangay officials in Lapu-Lapu City and Mayor Paz Radaza for allegedly not doing something about the city's garbage problem.

Pelaez, through his legal counsel Atty. Joan Largo, said the officials have been given a 30-day notice to comply with Republic Act (RA) 9300, or the Solid Waste Management Act.

According to Pelaez, garbage disposal in the city has been a perennial problem since 2007.

He said barangay officials have failed to perform the mandates under the Local Government Code and RA 9003, among other laws.

Pelaez, who ran against Radaza in the last election, kept a photographic journal for four consecutive years of the garbage strewn by the roadside, which, he said, was meant to be a wake-up call for the Radazas.

The mayor's husband, former Lapu-Lapu City mayor Arturo Radaza, is the representative of the seventh congressional district consisting of the city of Lapu-Lapu.

"Our request was simple, clean the city up. But we were ignored and persecuted and the city remains dirty to this day," Pelaez said.

Mayor Radaza said she believes the issue, which had been tackled in 2007, has something to do with Pelaez's political aspirations next year.

"At least now I know who I'll be facing in the elections next year. Today he is at it again, trying to make solid waste management an issue," she said.

She said that despite repeated issuance of solid waste citation tickets, Barangay Basak has failed to act on its garbage problem.

Basak Road is a major artery in the city and the garbage problem is the barangay captain's way of sabotaging the city's efforts to keep it clean, she said.

The barangay captain of Basak is Isabelito Darnayla, who defeated Lolita Berdin, a close ally of the Radazas and wife of former city councilor Alley Berdin, in the May 2010 elections.

Fire in La Libertad, Negros Oriental

Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo has ordered the Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP) to submit a comprehensive report on the fire incident that burned the La Libertad booth at the Sidlakang Negros Village along E. J. Blanco road in Barangay Piapi in Dumaguete City recently.

He also demanded an explanation from Provincial Tourism Officer, Myla Abellana, why the incident occurred when there were security guards assigned in the Sidlakang Negros Village. The governor wanted to find out circumstances behind the incident or someone should be held responsible for it.

The governor said he was saddened over the incident as it might stir some political intrigues and issues.

He also asked Engr. Berchmans Patrimonio to cordon the area and never allow any attempt to rehabilitate the booth while the BFP is still investigating the fire incident.

The governor said he wanted to know whether the building was constructed with proper building permit to include electrical connection.

The Sidlakang Negros Village LGU booths, constructed during the time of late Governor Emilio Macias II, were intended to serve as a venue for the activities of the province like the Buglasan Festival held every year.

Southern Negros Geothermal Production Field

The Energy Development Corp. (EDC)- Southern Negros Geothermal Production Field (SNGPF) is now coordinating with the local government units in Negros Oriental and concerned government agencies about the proper dissemination of rain gauge data.

Engr. Dwight Maxino, EDC vice president for Negros and concurrent resident manager of the Southern Negros Geothermal Production Field, the company focused attention on how to properly interpret rain gauge data that they have collected.

The EDC-SNGPF recently invited PAG-ASA Provincial chief Edsin Culi, provincial coordinator of the Provincial Disaster Risk reduction Management Council ( PDRRMC) Angelo Tiongson, Information Officer Adrian Sedillo, Valencia Mayor Enrique Gonzalez and some councilors and members of the media to an informal meeting regarding the interpretation of rainfall reading.

Maxino said the company has been disseminating the rain gauge data to the media and to the local government units but they were not aware how these agencies had been interpreting these. The most common warning that they can give is to inform the public that the Buayahan spillway is no longer passable, which would signal that a strong flood is coming.

The warning is given to areas that might be affected with possible flooding by the Okoy and Banica Rivers. The data has been disseminated and shared with the aim to alert the public on possible flooding.

At present, it is only EDC- SNGPF that has established a rain gauge data monitoring system in the mountains of Valencia, Negros Oriental since it is part of their area of responsibility.

Maxino admitted that although they have established the rain gauge, they do not have the proper training and capability of interpreting and analyzing these. They are just adopting their own measurements that would alert them when rainwater will reach a certain level that could already be cause for concern.

There are three automated rain gauges placed in different areas at the geothermal site in Valencia. The alarm is automatically set on a certain level during strong or heavy rain.

Provincial PAG-ASA Chief Culi said that there were different types of rains that could contribute to the data collection of the rain gauge.

He said they were willing to extend their help to the EDC–SNGPF personnel assigned to monitor the rain gauge meters in order to properly analyze and interpret data.

Caritas Village Housing Project

The group of volunteers, priests and the Social Action Center Coordinator of the Diocese of Dumaguete, Rev. Fr. Burton Villarmente, have expressed concern over the reported presence of informal illegal settlers in some portions of the land for the Caritas Village Housing Project for tropical storm "Sendong" victims in the city.

One of the volunteers reported that a shanty was built in the area by people who claimed they were victims of the flood spurred by "Sendong" last December. They later found out that this family did not seek permission either from the city government or from the Social Action Center to construct a house at the said site.

Fr. Villarmente suggested that this illegal settler should not be allowed to stay in the area because they will cause disturbance during the construction of the houses. They are also afraid that if they will allow illegal settlers to stay, they might also invite relatives to come and live in the area.

They are closely coordinating with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the verification and evaluation of the bonafide recipients, said Fr. Villarmente. Some of those who claimed to be typhoon victims were actually evacuees coming from the town of Mabinay and Bais City, he said.

At present, the core group is now requesting the office of the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) to conduct a survey and staking of markers for the areas where the next unit will be built. It is important that there will be a clear survey for the area so that the builders can properly be guided.

Rev. Fr. Antonio Arnaiz, who is also a member of the core group, said once the area is surveyed and markers are in place, these will discourage illegal settlers to occupy the area. The area is still susceptible for illegal settlers because it is still in the process of clearing.

Fr. Burton also suggested that Dumaguete City Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria should also be informed of the situation in the area because the project is a partnership between the city government and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Caritas Village Housing Project is funded by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and implemented through the Social Action Center and the Diocese of Dumaguete. Each of the housing unit has at least a budget of P40,000 to P45,000 that already included a dirty kitchen and toilet.

2012 Summer Festival in the Philippines

The 2012 Summer Festival will culminate on Friday, May 26, with the Festival de las Bellas y Flores-Year 10, a competition of flower decked-arcos and exposition of beautiful gowns and pretty ladies.

The activity will kick off with the parade of arcos at 5 p.m. from Ledesma Street (fronting the Zamboanga City Fire District headquarters) to the Paseo del Mar where the show proper will be held at 6:30 p.m.

The arco competition will be judged based on originality, 30 percent; creativity, 30 percent; craftsmanship, 25 percent; and, impact, 10 percent.

The first place winner will receive P15,000 and a plaque; second place winner, P10,000 and a plaque; and, the third place winner, P10,000 and a plaque.

Gown entries will be judged based on the following criteria: craftsmanship, 45 percent; concept and design, 30 percent; aesthetic appeal, 15 percent; and, impact, 10 percent.

First prize for the gown competition will be P7,000 and a plaque; P5,000 and plaque for the second place; and, P3,000 and plaque for the third prize.

The prettiest señorita competition, on the other hand, will be based on the following criteria: beauty of face, 50 percent; physique, 25 percent; poise and posture, 15 percent; and, stage presence, 10 percent.

First prize for the prettiest señorita is P5,000 and a plaque; second prize is P3,000 and a plaque; and, third prize is P3,000 and a plaque.

The Festival de las Bellas y Flores-Year 10 forms part of the city government's 2012 Summer Festival, which is intended to involve the community and provide wholesome entertainment to local residents as well as visitors during summer.

The Summer Festival kicked off April 13 with the kite flying competition and juego de antes held at the Paseo del Mar.

Other highlights during the month were the Dia de Ma'am Caling, Duathlon Challenge, Dia de Gen. Vicente S. Alvarez, Fiesta Engrande and many others.

Ipil City in Zamboanga Sibugay

Ipil, the capital town of Zamboanga Sibugay Province bordering the eastern boundary of this city will soon have its Pasalubong Complex to house all delicacies and souvenir items and other locally produced products by the local entrepreneurs of the province.

The town sits at the crossroads to Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and on to the other provinces and cities in mainland Mindanao and this city.

This on-going project is part of efforts to fast track the economic development of the Ipil and its bid for city hood.

Zamboanga del Norte has two component cities, Dipolog and Dapitan; Zamboanga del Norte has Pagadian City – the official regional center of the Zamboanga Peninsula Region, but the Province of Sibugay does not have any component city yet.

Ipil Mayor Eldwin Alibutdan said that the municipality of Ipil, as the center of trade and commerce and the capital town of Zamboanga Sibugay, is preparing for its city hood and thus the reason to prioritize infrastructure projects in the municipality.

He also said that the on-going Pasalubong complex situated near the town's public market, the renovation of the town's municipal hall, town plaza, roads and streets, municipal hospital and clinics, were among the infrastructure projects.

The mayor said the Pasalubong Complex would provide traders in the province with a place to sell their wares to the local populace and the thousands of people who pass by the municipality on the way to this city and to other parts in Mindanao.

The Mayor also said that the municipality must also hurdle its water supply problems, unemployment, environmental degradation and other forms of destruction, improper garbage segregation and undeveloped potential scenic spots.

Groundwater Sources in Bicol, Philippines

The regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has identified several groundwater sites in Bicol that could be developed into sources of supply for communities experiencing scarcity of potable water.

Among those identified through the intensified groundwater assessment program of the MGB are the Palhi Spring in Sorsogon City; Tulay na Lupa, Mampurog and San Vicente watersheds in Camarines Norte; and Mandali River in the municipality of Milagros, Jubuyuan Watershed of Aroroy and Tugbo, Nadawison and Domarog of the towns of Cataingan and Uson, all in Masbate.

Others are Bagong Silang, Macad, Caraman, Balogo and Odicon Springs within the watershed of Pasacao; and Nalalata Spring, Ballester Panoypoyan, Upper Casugad, Nadal, Casugad ff1, Casugad ff2, Casugad ff3 and Casugad ff4 located inside the Bula Watershed, both in Camarines Sur.

The assessment program was conducted by the MGB under its hydro-geological project whose implementation was started as early as the 1990s in response to the need to identify more water sources to address the region's dwindling water supply, particularly during the dry season.

When developed into water supply facilities, these groundwater sources could address the problem on potable water being encountered by various areas in the region, Luis Loyola, the MGB regional technical director based here on Tuesday said.

Palhi Spring in Barangay Capuy of Sorsogon City, Loyola said had 12 sub-springs that discharge a maximum total of 600 gallons per minute enough to supply all its adjoining eight barangays and even part of the nearby municipality of Castilla.

The Mandali River of Milagros, Masbate that accounts for about 3,300 gallons per day could provide sufficient supply to fill up the projected water demand of the town of Mobo and Masbate City that are presently living through water scarcity, he said.

Assessment of groundwater potential for Milagros was focus on collection of relevant information regarding the town's present water resources within a five kilometers radius and to formulate a water development plan for the construction of a water system, Loyola added.

In Aroroy, Masbate, Loyola said the Jabuyuan Watershed had eight springs with varying combined discharges from 0.019 to 5.760 liters per second.

He recommended that a water impounding structure is constructed and a cooperative is formed to manage a small water system in the area.

In Uson, Masbate, a total of five live springs were identified during a mapping survey and assessed to be potential potable water sources for the municipality whose communities rely on deep and shallow wells for their household water supply, EMB regional chief said.

Results of geological and geophysical survey in Cataingan, Masbate, meanwhile, showed limestone which underlies 70 percent of the municipality.

This mineral, according to Loyola is relatively an acquifer which contains water of undetermined capacity which can be tapped for domestic use.

In Camarines Norte, the groundwater sources identified are concentrated in the southern portion of Mt. Labo while in Pasacao, Camarines, five springs were located and measured for the water discharges.

A similar geo-hydrology was also conducted in Bula watershed to identify potential potable water sources for development and maximum utilization.

Discharge measurements were conducted on different artesian wells and springs within the area and it was found out that Nalalata, Ballester and Nadal springs are potential water sources. Pasacao and Bula watersheds are located in Camarines Sur.

The identification and assessment of these groundwater sources in several areas of Bicol, Loyola said would guide local authorities in providing safe water supply to their constituents.

Identifying and assessing the potential of these possible water sources will also serve as pointers for local government units covering them in instituting measures for the protection and preservation of these resources in line with "Water for Life" campaign of the government which was used a theme for the recent Earth Day celebration.