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Councilor Chavez of Sagñay, Camarines Sur flashes public alarm on LUSI whereabouts


By Joey Natividad, Bicol Today

Councilor Ratz Chavez of Sagñay, Camarines Sur, flashed a public alarm to report to town authorities of a person who is a LUSI.

Councilor Chavez said the LUSI is scary, who is unknown and might be carrying the COVID-19 virus in the barangay.

Sagñay Vice Mayor Harold Bryan San Felipe also shared Chavez’s post in his Facebook page.

“We have no idea on who he is, where he is, and when he arrived,” he said.

According to him, LUSI means Locally Undocumented Stranded Individual.

This is different to the national government’s classification of locally stranded individuals or LSIs.

See his post at Facebook.

NAGA COVID-19 UPDATE: Seven more persons with COVID infections in single day


By Joey Natividad, Bicol Today

(UPDATE) SEVEN (7) new COVID-19 infections in Naga City, Camarines Sur were reported on Sunday, June 28, these adding up the Saturday report of 3 positive cases, and the 2 positive cases on Wednesday.

Within a period of five days, from June 24 to June 28, Naga City has 12 active cases of COVID-19.

On Sunday, June 28, 2020, the Department of Health Center for Health Development (DOH CHD) – Bicol officially reported seven (7) new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

While in the Bicol Region, the total number of COVID-19 confirmed cases recorded are now one hundred eight (108). Active cases are twenty-nine (29).

All seven (7) new cases are from Naga City, and had exposures to patients with local codes Bicol#91 & Bicol#92, both residents of Spillway, Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City.

A day before, Saturday, new cases of COVID Bicol#100 & Bicol#101 had also exposures to Bicol#91 & Bicol#92.

Meanwhile, another reported new case on Saturday, a uniformed personnel from Canaman, Camarines Sur, is also a resident of Naga City Subdivision, Naga City.

All are now confined at the Bicol Medical Center, Naga City.

The latest 7 COVID positive cases in Naga City are:

• Bicol#102 – a 23 year old Filipino female

• Bicol#103 (Painter) – a 22-year old Filipino male

• Bicol#104 (Private Employee) – a 26-year old Filipino female

• Bicol#105 (Laborer) – a 59-year old Filipino male

• Bicol#106 (Laborer) – a 33-year old Filipino male

• Bicol#107 (Housewife) – a 22-year old Filipino female

• Bicol#108 (Private Employee) – a 26-year old Filipino male

DOH CHD-Bicol said all patients, except Bicol#105, are asymptomatic.

Bicol#105 first experienced symptoms Sunday, June 28, 2020. All are quarantined.

The Naga City Health Team facilitated swabbing of all patients.

The 7 persons with COVID-19 infections had contact with Bicol#91 & Bicol#92.

ARMS CACHE: “Warehouse” condition government ammunition boxes, 10 assault rifles seized by state troops in Sorsogon

State troops recovered arms cache and thousands of ammunition in Bulan, Sorsogon Province, in an operation on Saturday morning, June 27, 2020, according to reports from Bicol Region police headquarters, Camp BGen Simeon A Ola, in Legazpi City, Albay Province.
Camp Ola said the recent recovery of several firearms and thousands of ammunition by the government forces at Sitio Angas, Brgy Otavi, Bulan Sorsogon at about 11:30 in the morning of June 27, 2020.
According to reports, that “at about 10:00 in the morning, a concerned citizen reported to Bulan MPS an undetermined number of long firearms seen at an abandoned building at the said place. Acting on this information, personnel of the Bulan MPS and the 504th Maneuver Company of the RMFB5, in partnership with 22IB PA; 9th ID PA; COLT2 21st IB; 92nd SAC, 9SAB proceeded to the area where they were able to recover ten (10) M16 rifle; 64 boxes of live ammo 7.62X39mm containing 40pcs each; 21 boxes of M16 ammo GA 556100.”
The items are now under the custody of Bulan MPS. 
Meanwhile, according to informed sources, a person was looking for buyers of said firearms, but Bulan police had monitored the suspect, and upon learning he had an existing, pending Warrant of Arrest, the local authorities arrested him, leading to the location of an arms cache.
Seized in the raid are ten (10) assault rifles, M16A1, made by ELISCO; 64 boxes containing 40 “CARTRIDGES” per box with markings “TULAMMO” made in Russia.
Questions and doubts linger among residents on how those Government-owned ammunition boxes in good warehouse condition had reached this isolated part of Bulan, Sorsogon. 

2 Escuderos differ on “common sense” democracy


By Joey Natividad

When the controversial anti-terror bill was being railroaded by Congressmen allied with President Rodrigo Duterte to bypass House deliberation obstacles and cumbersome public hearings, Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero said it in a simple, understandable manner.

“No one is for terrorism but governments should be careful not to inflict the very same evil they are trying to prevent on their own citizens. That’s what the Bill of Rights is for — to limit the powers of gov’t. and protect the rights/liberties of the people! No law can override it!” he tweeted on social media.

Chiz’ statement had made the rounds and its impact was felt in concerned quarters.

But, his statement recoiled back as one of the principal authors of the anti-terror bill is his mother, House Deputy Speaker and Representative Evelina Escudero (Sorsogon, First District).

Netizens on social media tweeted, asking if both mother and son have ever discussed this serious issue affecting the state and the defenseless citizenry.

The previous weeks, and until Friday, June 5, cause-oriented groups have escalated their protests over social media and online, after realizing that street protests are becoming too risky, when the state has “criminalized” closer distance between two persons on the street, as measured at less than a meter.

A “half-meter” distance between two humans standing on the street is sufficient violation that policemen can easily haul them to jail.

Arresting people for Violation of physical distancing has become a powerful tool among mulcting policemen, and breaking up peaceful rallies by riot police.

For the protesters arrested for violating physical distancing to be declared as “terrorists” by state agents is still premature as the President has not yet signed the Anti-Terror Bill into law.

Most likely targets by the Anti-Terror law are activists protesting on the street whom the proposed law would define if an activist is a “terrorist” or not.

In the rural area, a wealthy entrepreneur can be arrested, blackmailed, and extorted as a “supporter of terrorists”, and for him to cough up huge amount of money if he is threatened that his bank accounts will be frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council for alleged “financing of terrorists.”

Frontline soldiers and state agents can picked on any wealthy man, plant a gun and subversive materials, with the threat of being branded “a terrorist” according to guidelines issued by the Anti-Terrorism Council, and pressure the wealthy victim to give money in exchange for his freedom.

A Filipino face on the street without a face mask is a target for arrest, a fair game for policemen on the lookout for potential violators.

According to Governor Escudero, his mom had abstained to vote on the approved version which has many changes, different from the original bill which she authored.

UST-Legazpi youth leader seething with anger over Rep. Salceda “Yes” vote on Anti-Terror Bill; Salceda backtracks after realizing faux pas


By Joey Natividad

When Albay Congressman Joey Salceda (2nd District) voted Yes on the anti-terror bill, active proponents in the idealistic youth movement in Albay Province have been lobbying among democracy stakeholders to junk Congressman Salceda in his next reelection bid in 2022.

A youth leader of UST-Legazpi vowed that, being a part of the youth movement, he will not stay silent.

“Because of your willingness to blindly follow what the President wants, you have allowed the Duterte regime to wipe their shoes on the Philippine Constitution like a doormat,” said Angelo Perete, the President of the UST-Legazpi Supreme Student Council, pointing to Congressman Salceda.

Student leader Perete in his FB post said: “Your tagline “Constant Kindness” will no longer be your saving grace. Not this time. Your constituents will not be blindsided. When the human rights violations reach Albay, we will remember you and your pitiful submissiveness to the lapdog of China.”

Perete vowed: “Vote Salceda out of Congress. Do not let him near any seat of public office. Give it to the person who can give all three (3)nd go beyond for his people.”

Perete is referring to 3 principles the youth are seeking for the model-leader: What we deserve is better representation. What we deserve is quality public service. What we deserve is our rights protected.

“To the people of Albay: True change starts within ourselves and re-molding the way we think about our society and politics. Let us fight for what is right. Incompetence and corruption have no place in our government,” Perete vowed.

Meanwhile, while the youth movement in Albay has been seething anger at Salceda’s “Yes” vote on the anti-terror bill, Salceda did a dramatic turn-around on his “faux pas”.

Media reports on Saturday, June 6, said Congressman Salceda had withdrawn his “Yes” vote and had it converted to an “Abstain” vote.

Backtracking from his “Yes” vote, Congressman Salceda said: “Without a bicameral conference, there will be no opportunity for House members to help address the mentioned reservations.”

Salceda said some sections of the bill may affect the right to privacy of individuals.
“Section 3(i) thereof includes the tracking of individuals, and not just members of organizations declared as terrorists.”

“Section 16 of the measure also expands the list of persons who may be subjected to surveillance or wiretapping by including persons who are merely ‘suspected’ of committing any of the crimes penalized under the proposed law,” Salceda said.

The Albay congressman said the creation of an Anti-Terrorism Council, composed of Cabinet officials with powers to order the arrest of suspected terrorists, may violate the separation of powers, in particular with the Judiciary’s functions.

Salceda referred to another possible constitutional issue on the detention of suspected terrorists.

Salceda said: “Under Section 29 of the measure, a person suspected of violating the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act may be detained for 14 days, extendible for another 10 days. Article 7, Section 18 of the Constitution, provides that even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, the maximum period that a person can be detained without charges is three days.”

It was unclear if Salceda’s withdrawal of his “Yes vote” for “Abstain” vote had any bearing since the railroaded anti-terror bill had been signed and awaiting approval for President Duterte’s signature.

Mass rapid diagnostic testing in San Jose, Camarines Sur; inspired by “Project Ark” philosophy to fight COVID-19


By Joey Natividad

A fourth -class town in Camarines Sur Province has adopted a policy of implementing rapid diagnostic testing on residents when its first case of Covid19 was reported by Health authorities on May 30, 2020.

As this happened, San Jose in Camarines Sur Province may be recognized as the only town in the country which has conducted mass rapid testing, while other implementers are all cities, Metro-Manila cities and Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-lapu cities.

San Jose Mayor Dr. Marco P. Chavez MD has responded to private sector campaigns in Metro-Manila, through Project ARK initiative, to conduct rapid diagnostic testing in places of work and in communities and barangay. Project ARK stands for Antibody Rapid test Kit.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion, who leads Project ARK that was launched April 24, has been promoting rapid diagnostic testing as the first level in the fight against Covid19, which is “invisible.” The second level is through RT-PCR testing.

Secretary Concepcion said, over a recent interview with CNN Philippines, “it is better to test than never to test at all.”

Over media interviews, Secretary Concepcion has been saying, to the effect, that by rapid diagnostic testing, the “invisible enemy” will become “visible”.

“We are at war with an invisible enemy. That is why the key is visibility. We have to test, test, test! Mass testing is the key to reopening our economy and reinstating public confidence,” Secretary Concepcion explained Project ARK philosophy .

Under this “visibility”, meaning “identification of potential, suspected Covid-infected persons” by rapid diagnostic testing will enable medical frontliners to bring these persons for RT-PCR testing, the gold standard to fight Covid19.

“We need both rapid testing and RT-PCR testing to make everything more efficient, and to give us a better view of the situation,” Concepcion said, in a CNN Philippines interview.

Secretary Concepcion also said more than 300 private companies have pooled their contributions to acquire Rapid Test Kits {RTKs} for mass rapid diagnostic testing.

During the hard lockdown of Sampaloc in Manila for two days, Project ARK had provided RTKs for mass rapid testing.

In San Jose town, within a span of six days, from June 1 to June 6, about 502 persons were given rapid diagnostic testing in order to fast track the identification of persons who had come in contact with the Covid positive patient.

San Jose Mayor Dr. Chavez, focusing on rapid diagnostic testing, facilitated the systematic conduct of contact-tracing and monitoring persons and areas tagged as “under risk”.

On the first day of the reported Covid occurrence, Mayor Dr. Chavez, also a doctor, switched his executive attire for a PPE, then personally extracted blood samples of persons who had contact with the Covid19 patient.

There were no available medical personnel that day when the entire staff of the Rural Health Unit, including the municipal doctor, were all quarantined – a protocol to be followed as they shared office with the Covid positive person, a woman health worker.

Mass rapid testing had been conducted on persons identified in contact-tracing, family members, neighbors in the barangay, municipal employees, police personnel, checkpoint frontliners, health workers, and new arrivals from Metro-Manila who had been stranded and those who lost their jobs during the lockdown.

As of Sunday, June 7, all persons rapid-tested under contact-tracing are found negative, but they have to finish the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

People coming home from Metro-Manila were rapid-tested. 2 persons are found “IgG positive”, meaning they were recovering from Covid19 but have developed immunity, non-contagious, but still they were sent for quarantine.

One person was found “IgM positive”, meaning a suspect for Covid19, he was scheduled for RT-PCR test and under quarantine.

Mayor Dr Chavez believes in Project ARK’s rapid testing philosophy. Rapid testing can easily identify and segregate from the many, potential Covid carriers, infected persons who must undergo RT-PCR test.

With rapid testing, people in the town will be assured of their well-being, and aware of the health situation in their barangay, casting away fear borne from ignorance, false news, rumours, and speculations about Covid19 spread.

Mayor Dr. Chavez, Vice-Mayor Beyong Panuelos, and Municipal Councilors Marsan Durante, Honey Credo, Ronilo Milante, Daniel Pervera, Gilmarie Pacamarra, submitted themselves for rapid diagnostic testing.

Three Councilors, Bembot Dizon, Audie Concina, and Domingo Tam Jr., doubting the effectiveness of rapid diagnostic tests, refused to be tested.

Rewinding back, Secretary Concepcion through Project ARK sent 500 Rapid Test Kits {RTKs} and 3000 face masks, while Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso also sent 2000 RTKs after Mayor Dr. Chavez asked help when the first case of Covid occurred.

Mayor Isko’s chief of staff Cesar B. Chavez, sourcing from friends, sent 1000 sets of PPEs.

As of this writing, Mayor Dr. Chavez is still waiting for developments from the RT-PCR test on the infected health worker. His task force is still involved in contact-tracing, leaving no stone unturned.

Frontliners are keeping an eye on daily arrivals, caused by out-migration from Metro-Manila since June 1, when travel restrictions are being relaxed gradually as provinces are scaling down to modified general community quarantine.

Proposed anti-terror law enables dictatorship more dangerous than COVID-19 – Bayan Bicol


The Bicol progressive group condemned the Anti-Terror Bill, now waiting to be signed into law by President Rofrigo Duterte. as enabling the country to become a police state.

If passed into law, it will make our country a police state.

Sectoral alliance group, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Bicol Region {BAYAN-Bicol}, said the vague definition of what constitute an “act of terrorism” and who can be “tagged as terrorists” posit grave threat to human rights, civil liberties and democratic rights of the people in the hands of people in government who are skillful in weaponizing the law, and in planting evidence against critics and dissenters of the government’s anti-people policies, and in filing trumped-up cases.

BAYAN said: “With the kind of mindset the law enforcement authorities have, anybody, and just anybody can be a victim of this monstrous law.”

This anti-terrorism law will violate the right to privacy as it allows state security forces, with the approval of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), to put any subject under surveillance and demand from TELCOs to furnish the authorities with the recorded communications of the subject in mobile phones and in the internet.

The vocal progressive alliance said the proposed anti-terrorism law violates the Constitutional provision of maximum of 72 hours-detention period without charges in court for high crimes, as it allows the maximum of 14 days detention period without charges.

It also removes the accountability of arresting officers when the case in court against the arrested person is dismissed which was provided in the Human Security Act of 2007.

In essence, this law will become a potent instrument for “state terrorism”.

Philippine rural folks rescue Dolphin Calf in Sorsogon water, then set free


World conservationists for dolphin protection have reasons to be happy.

A young dolphin was saved in Philippine waters by local authorities on Saturday, June 6, 2020, and set free the distressed dolphin into deep water.

According to local officials of Matnog town, Sorsogon Province, Philippines, the Risso Calf Dolphin was rescued from shallow water at Subic Islet, near coastal Calintaan village of Matnog town.

The town of Matnog is located at the southern tip end of Philippine Luzon Island.

Rescuing the dolphin calf, Matnog town officials contacted the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to evaluate the condition of the dolphin calf for its proper handling and disposition.

On Saturday afternoon, the Philippine rescuers brought the dolphin calf to the deep water section of the sea for evaluation, then it was set free.

The Philippine government has been promoting the conservation of marine life and endangered marine species in its coastal towns and villages, and conducting conservation awareness seminars among local fishermen. [Bicol Today]

All expenses paid for returning San Jose residents under “Camarines Sur Balik Probinsiya”, says mayor Dr. Chavez


San Jose residents who were stranded in Metro Manila during the lockdown arrived Saturday, May 23, with the help of San Jose Local Government and the Provincial Capitol.

The arriving “Balik banwaan”, all thirteen of them, belonged to the 6th batch, said San Jose Mayor Dr. Marco Chavez MD, thanking the Camarines Sur Governor for the use of the rented bus.

They were sent to a LGU quarantine facility already prepared for returning residents.

Mayor Dr. Chavez MD said the local government provides free food and medical check-ups, and adequate amenities to persons under mandatory quarantine.

“As of Saturday, a total of 130 persons are now quartered at the quarantine facility, many were fetched by vehicles provided by the Camarines Sur Provincial Government,” Mayor Dr. Chavez MD said.

Meanwhile, 30 persons had “graduated” or discharged from quarantine Saturday and they were given “pabaon” of P3100 as TUPAD beneficiaries of DOLE through the efforts of the Governor.

During the awarding of cash aid at the San Jose National HS, the Governor gave the “pabaon”.

With the Governor, assisting the awarding event were Mayor Dr. Mac Chavez and former Mayor Tony Chavez, who is regional coordinator of “Balik Probinsiya”, “Bagong Pag-asa or BP2” program of Malacañang.

Mayor Dr. Chavez MD said the LGU has received rapid testing kits, an assurance that San Jose contituents can access rapid testing if they suspect they get exposures from Covid19 cases.

“Frontliners and staff were already given rapid testing,” Mayor Dr. Chavez MD said. [Bicol Today]

SWS Hunger survey shows SAP poorly implemented, observes Infrawatch PH


The government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) was poorly implemented, says a think tank group on Sunday.

The group, familar on the poverty field, had helped marginalized families file appeals for SAP inclusion.

The poor SAP implementation was validated by the Social Weather Station survey indicating rising hunger during the coronavirus crisis.

“The SWS hunger survey provides government the imperative to rethink its social protection programs as we ease lockdowns around the country. Despite almost all respondents receiving government aid, a 16.7 percent hunger index indicates that the aid did not reach beneficiaries in time to prevent involuntary hunger. This confirms observations in many communities that bureaucratic hurdles had stymied the immediate delivery of emergency assistance to marginalized families. As we anticipate the next waves of outbreak, a thorough impact and process evaluation of social protection programs should be on the agenda.”

This was the observation of Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor, and former urban poor chief of the Duterte administration.

Disqualified yet qualified

Ridon said the more than fifty SAP appeals his group submitted to DSWD provides an ‘objective random sample’ on the manner of SAP implementation at the national and local levels.

“Many qualified families were disqualified in their communities on the basis of the subjective metrics by local officials, instead of implementing the guidelines of the DSWD. As an example, entire barangays were disqualified by a local government, as these were perceived as ‘middle class barangays.’”

Ridon also said that families were disqualified on the basis of not being voters in the communities where they lived.

“As a result, stranded workers, distressed OFWs and many other vulnerable families were outrightly disqualified. But voting status was never a basis for disqualification based on DSWD guidelines. So why do it?”

Ridon also said that social workers depended on the listing submitted by local officials, without actually verifying whether there were other families left out.

“While it is true that local officials know their constituencies best, but this also allows subjective local sentiments to influence a supposedly objective beneficiary list. One report indicated that due to issues with a purok leader who was making the SAP list, one family did not make the list. Families should not go hungry just because local officials made the subjective decision not to make them beneficiaries.”

Difficult appeals

Ridon said the appeals mechanism has been largely difficult, as it was circuitous and slow to act on appeals.

“While credit should be given on the good work done by DSWD national officials on facilitating our appeals, there is a wide berth for improving the appeals process for vulnerable families.”

Ridon said his group had expected a national or regional level mechanism to resolve appeals submitted by families disqualified at the local level.

“However, the appeals was basically an endorsement mechanism from national to regional and back to local social welfare offices, back to the same local level which rejected the families in the first place.”

Ridon said the endorsement mechanism was very slow. Twenty-four appeals took more than twenty days from submission for the social welfare department to acknowledge receipt and subsequently endorse to the same to regional offices.

“This indicates that the appeals process lack the sufficient staff complement to urgently address all appeals reaching their office. As we ease the lockdown, the social welfare department should look into employing more personnel to focus on the appeals mechanism. Because certainly, twenty days to act on appeals is unacceptable by any measure. Families would have certainly gone hungry if this is the pace at which appeals are addressed.” [Bicol Today]