Friday, September 25, 2020
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By Joey Natividad

GOVERNOR Francis “Chiz” Escudero is seething with anger as he urges President Rodrigo Duterteto fire Health Secretary Francisco Duque lll from his post.

Escudero reacted over the latest report from the Department of Health on Thursday.

After recording in a single day the highest one-day Covid-19 positive new cases of 3,954, the DOH reported Thursday a “mass recovery adjustment” of 38, 075 to include mild/asymptomatic cases.

DOH on Thursday reported the country had reached 89,374 total COVID-19 cases, and new cases will go much higher daily.

“This is “only in the Philippines” and is intolerable and insulting!,” Escudero lamented.

Escudero, now Sorsogon Governor, appealed: “President Duterte, Sir, please fire Sec. Duque! You/we/I deserve better po!”

Media reports in Metro-Manila said former Senator Escudero could no longer “stomach” the DOH report of 38,075 persons “recovered”, including those with “mild” symptoms and asymptomatic.

For easy reference, visit website; “PH logs record-high 38k add’l recoveries, 3,954 new COVID-19 cases -”

“Where did the 38,000 COVID-19 ‘mass recoveries’ come from? Here’s DOH’s explanation ” –

A day before, Escudero posted in his FB, saying: “The “it could have been worse” argument is actually a fallacy designed to make people feel good and content with whatever is given them.”

The argument “it could have been worse” was attributed to Spokesperson Harry Roque, who is also the sounding board of President Duterte, DOH, and IATF.

Escudero said: “We can and should demand more from our leaders who I believe can and will do more! ‘Di na dapat pwede ang ‘pwede na.'”

In another previous FB post, Escudero said: “I think DOH is just ‘riding out’ COVID-19 until a vaccine is invented. I don’t see nor feel any active/serious efforts being done by it.”

“The DOH, as the lead agency of the IATF, should do precisely that – lead in a proactive way and not simply be content in reporting out statistics.”

Netizens say that knowing Escudero’s crusading spirit, Secretary Duque is still lucky for not getting the “hot seat” from Escudero, who is no longer a Senator.

Netizens say the present incumbent Senators are already “tamed and domesticated”, who could no longer raise, at the very least, a “whimper” over serious, pressing issues.

Phivolcs warns treks to Bulusan Volcano after 5 quakes in 24-hour period; reminds public to avoid 4-km permanent danger zone


DOST-PHIVOLCS is informing all concerned authorities and the public on recent activities at Bulusan Volcano.

In the last 24-hour observation period, the Bulusan Volcano Network recorded five (5) volcanic earthquakes.

In view of the possibility of sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosion from the summit crater or from vents on the Bulusan upper slopes, DOST-PHIVOLCS strongly reminds the public and local government units that the 4-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) should be avoided at all times as a precaution.

In particular, all treks to the summit must be avoided due to the increased risk of phreatic activity.

DOST-PHIVOLCS is keeping close watch and evaluating the status of the volcano and will inform all concerned of any further developments.



THE EDITORIAL BOARD of Bicol Today sees the expediency to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN at this time when urgent news, information dissemination, knowledge transfer, and developing of events must be shared to the public.

To get informed at the right moment is very crucial at this time of global pandemic, when economic recession worldwide is anticipated, the COVID-19 threat may decimate a sizable portion of the global population, and civil unrest, emergence of war, and additional threats of infectious diseases.

The global crisis is affecting our country and the Filipino people.

We need ABS-CBN, an effective and efficient media organization, to open again with a renewal of franchise, so that it will join hands with other media organizations, private or government-owned.

The Filipino has the right to be informed. The Filipino community has the need to know.

Filipinos have the privilege to be entertained, to enjoy and laugh with TV shows, and shed tears on tragic events, to be amazed and awed while seeing events found wonderful to their senses.

These shows might be illusory and palliatives for them to enjoy and forget, for the time being, the harsh realities of grinding poverty and economic woes Filipinos are currently suffering now, at this time of pandemic and the worsening economic situation.

In the positive side, ABS-CBN had bridged the communication and information gap of news, between the highly urbanized growth regions and the remotest rural areas.

It has delivered timely news, specifically news about disasters and calamities when the average Filipino family is glued to the TV set, waiting for the latest unfoldment of events.

We, the editorial board of Bicol Today, uphold freedom of the press, and by this freedom, a free press has provided all sectors adequate media space.

The free press has provided dissenters to air grievances and criticism, and critics the freedom to air their protests. Politics, economic managers, public executives, and the government have benefitted so much in the free press. Important developments and situations leading to economic growth enjoy much media space.

Persecuting the media and trampling down press freedom would not guarantee the success of tyrannical and despotic rule, nor the triumphant rule of dictatorial administration.

Looking at historical narratives about dictatorial regimes and the free media, the worst State clampdown would only push the free press into the underground where the voices are heard but not seen. Invisible among the despots, but heard by the oppressed masses.

We, the editorial board of Bicol Today, support the renewal of the Congressional franchise of ABS-CBN.


Radioman in Camarines Norte faces cyber-libel case filed by Governor Tallado


A radio reporter in Daet, Camarines Norte was accused of cyber libel by Camarines Norte Governor Edgar Tallado for Facebook posts alleging graft and corruption committed by the official.

Virgilio Avila Jr., said the case was the latest in a string of libel cases the Governor has filed against him which he said were intended to stop him from criticizing Tallado’s administration.

All the earlier cases were dismissed by the prosecutor.

Avila, who works for radio stations dzAU AM Radio and 98.5 OK FM, described the libel cases as acts of harassment and intimidation by the Governor against his critics in the media.

The last libel case is now with the prosecutor’s office.

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.