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Bicol transport groups revving up for Monday strike, execept Sorsogon


SORSOGON CITY, Sorsogon Province, 25Nov2019 – Amid threats from LTFRB mandating transport groups to produce “show cause order”, Sorsogon transport groups will not join Monday’s strike, but, instead shall help other sectors mobilizing in mass action centers and appeal for unity to fight President Duterte’s PUV Modernization Program and the planned jeepney phaseout.

The Sorsogon Integrated Transport Federation (SITF) vows to fight the PUV Modernization Program and the nationwide jeepney phaseout, but the group will not join the 2-day strike starting Monday, this was divulged by Ramon Dealca, president of SITF.

“Instead, we will assist other sectors in their actions for unity, and their setting up of Mass Action Centers,” the transport leader said.

The Duterte administration is dead set on phasing-out the passenger jeepneys from the streets and to replace them with modern transport vehicles. The scheme will dislocate thousands of jeepney drivers and operators and shall cause hardships on their families.

According to transport groups, Duterte’s scheme will only benefit high-end operators, transport capitalists, and favored franchisees.

In a related development, various transport groups in the Bicol Region are ready for Monday’s 2-day strike. Bicol Transport Alliance, CONDOR-PISTON Bicol, and “No To Jeepney Phase Out Coalition” have shown the “green light” for the nationwide transport strike.

In Albay Province, Governor Al Francis Bichara allowed the suspension of classes in areas to be seriously affected by the transport strike. [Bicol Today]

Bicol transport groups being harassed from joining strike


LEGAZPI CITY, Albay Province – The Duterte Administration its pressing its knuckles on harassing the nationwide transport strike on Monday and Tuesday, November 25-26.

In Sorsogon Province, LTFRB sent the Sorsogon Transport Federation a “show cause order” last week in order to explain before the court its reason on why the transport group had joined a successful strike launched on September 30, dubbed as the National Coordinated Transport Strike.

In Catanduanes Province, two intelligence officers on Wednesday, (Nov 20), went to the house of the president of Federation of Virac Tricycle Operator and Driver Associations, and pressed him for information regarding names of local members of PISTON, a nationwide transport group. On Saturday (Nov 23), this time, two policemen visited the transport official and insisted to attend a federation meeting to talk with members. As of presstime, two transport leaders are under surveillance, including their residences.

Strike organizers said state operatives are harassing and intimidating transport groups from joining the nationwide transport strike on Monday.

Meanwhile, Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal has ordered the suspension of classes in all levels, public and private, in anticipation of the transport strike scheduled on Monday and Tuesday.

However, office work in the Legazpi City government will continue, its service vehicles being readied to transport their personnel to and from their work stations. [Bicol Today]

10 years of Ampatuan Massacre: End a Decade of Injustice! Convict Ampatuans Now!

Photo courtesy of Sonny Fernandez

By Altermidya

It has been a dark decade of injustice for families and loved ones of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre, which killed 58 individuals, 32 of them journalists.

A decade of unbearable grief and pain, as they watch the masterminds of the world’s single deadliest attack on journalists flex political power to evade justice for a crime most heinous, all the while dealing with a personal loss too great for many of us to fathom.

It has been a dark decade of impunity for journalists, as they watch colleagues get threatened and killed by the coercive power of the nation’s ruling class, all the while doing their best to fulfill a duty to the public to report the truth, no matter the consequences to their personal safety and security.

For the past 10 years, we have seen a corrupt and failed system—the very same one that allowed such a senseless organized crime to even be possible—at work to give the best possible advantage to the perpetrators: with many of the 197 originally accused still at large, with the principal suspects the Ampatuans being allowed special favors, with witnesses being bribed and threatened, with the unreasonable delays in the judicial process.

At the same time, we have also seen how the victims’ families, their lawyers, witnesses, and supporters have stood their ground. Despite being threatened with their lives, they have shown us the real meaning of courage: to speak truth to power, even one with an active private army and a web of close relationships with top politicians. They have shown great stamina, pursuing justice relentlessly, even if some have forgotten the gruesome story of how 58 innocent people were gunned on the spot and buried with a backhoe in the rolling hills of Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao province. Because the Ampatuan Massacre isn’t just another gruesome crime story—it was, and remains, the starkest symbol of the death of press freedom and the reign of impunity in this country.

But the end of of this story is yet to be written. The promulgation of the case is set at any moment; now is the time to make our calls for justice ring out as loud as possible.

Altermidya- People’s Alternative Media Network joins colleagues in calling for the immediate conviction of the suspects in the Ampatuan Massacre, particularly the principal suspects, brothers Andal Jr., Zaldy and Sajid Ampatuan. Anything less is unacceptable and would unleash a storm of wrath, not just from the victims’ families and loved ones, but from the greater public, including the media community here and abroad. An attack on one of us is an attack on us all. Justice for 32 of us is justice for us all.

The delivery of justice for Ampatuan Massacre victims will act like a beam of light shone into a great darkness that is the escalating climate of fear and impunity under the Duterte administration. We anticipate it with utmost vigilance and hope.
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Altermidya – People’s Alternative Media Network is a national network of over thirty independent media outfits in the Philippines. Formed in 2014, Altermidya seeks to promote journalism for the people.

Sorsogon hosts first regional art fest


By Felix “Boy” Espineda, Jr.

ROMPEOLAS, Sorsogon City – Homegrown artist from Bicol Region displayed their prowess in artistic interpretation depicting their artistry in a 4 x 6 landscape canvass using brush focusing on the theme, “Experiencing the Wonders of Sorsogon”.

The competition is one of the events of the Kasanggayahan Festival 2019 month-long celebration attracting forty-nine entries from three members and a coach. According to Joey Hugo concept in-charged together with his group, it is a thematic presentation of how the youthful artist’s conceptual appreciation of the wonders surrounding

Sorsogon. National and regional art winners are excluded from participating in the competition exposing budding artist talent how to translate their ideas, views, appreciation of their surroundings and their minute detailing of hand strokes in taking a curve, expressive eyes, hand contours aside from how they will make the end product as realistic as possible. They have to merge with color harmony

The group behind the idea of the art fest is the pride of the school districts of the province.

The art fest was open to all senior high school and tertiary students instructed to have a novel presentation to avoid a contest from other participants for infringement of ideas. They were given leeway to present a realistic and abstract style as long as the work is representational in form is for the artist to consider and all artworks will be displayed prominently in a designated space at the baywalk.

Relevance to the theme, color harmony, originality, creativity and the overall impact will be the basis for judging and their masterpieces will be donated to the provincial museum of Sorsogon. Cash incentives for the top three artwork go to the winners and a certificate, another five entries will receive consolation prizes plus a certificate is up for the non-winners.

The winners will be announced on October 4, 2019. []

Kasanggayahan Festival 2019 opening rites transformed Rompeolas into a sea of people


By Felix “Boy” Espineda, Jr.

SORSOGON CITY, 01Oct2019 — The well-planned opening ceremony of the Kasanggayahan Festival 2019 enticed the young and old to troop the now-famous leisure place of the city, the Rompeolas, to witness the events of the day. From the civic-military parade joined by local government units, national agencies, police, and military made lively by the strings of drum and lyre performers as it was spearheaded by the ensemble of the regional police buglers it took more than two hours to the more than a kilometer distance from the grounds of the national high school to Rompeolas transforming it into a sea of people.

The crowd estimate at its peak reached close to ten thousand people leaping over the sale of businesses in the area.

After Governor Francis Joseph ‘Chiz’ Escudero formally opened the festival, the crowd was treated and gasping for the pyro-technic display which lasted almost twenty-five minutes, once again catching the imagination that life offers its own respite, that is Kasanggayahan. The festive mood is everywhere; the parade of beauties for the Miss Kasanggayahan 2019 crown was a spectacle in itself; the challenges and inspirations of the messages are wake-up calls that one should not be idle for no one is short of ideas, least no one has the monopoly of ideas. A call that every Sorsoganon “magtabang”.

There were no flip-plops, all in harmony to the routine assigned, from the interpretative dance during the mass, the parade of the flags of the fourteen towns and the city, the presence of almost all of the local chief executives, the open cooperation between the church and the local government, the enthusiasm of the crowd to wait for the next event and most of all the discipline displayed under the glaring afternoon sun and as the night worn on the beehive of people walking to Rompeolas, to take the words of the governor “surely entices ones curiosity” is proof that there is tangible in character that Sorsoganon posses, that is resiliency and strong belief that Sorsogon is gearing for greater heights in the next decades.

Part of the group was overheard saying that the planning was so good that it was likewise observed by the governor as part of his message thanking the tourism officer Bobby Gigantone for a job well done and the troopers behind challenging them that the coming events must be as good if not better than what he witnessed.

But it was not the numbers to which we gauge the success of the opening events of Kasanggayahan Festival 2019 instead, what we should know is the pride within that each of us Sorsoganon displayed etched in our history that on that October 1, 2019, we are united as one people willing to sacrifice, giving an inch of discipline, leaving time of our travails in life, taking time with our family to bond in an event where one is neither rich or poor but all are equal for we belong here in our Province, the Land of Kasanggayahan, Sorsogon.

As Father Jose Ofracio, a poet laureate who meaningfully described the meaning of Kasanggayahan when he said “When the fields are green and the grains are golden when the machines work well and all business prospers, when the birds in the sky chirp freely and the men on earth are peacefully happy, in Bikol, it is Kasanggayahan, meaning a life of prosperity” We Sorsoganons deserves a life of prosperity for the time has come to act in unison as we say #Lambang Sorsoganon Magdanon, with this, nothing is impossible to achieve. []

Kasanggayahan Festival 2019 kick-starts with a press briefing

Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero. PHOTO BY DALE CARPIO / BICOLTODAY.COM

SORSOGON CITY, 27Sept2019 — To officially start on October 1, the month-long Kasaggayahan 2019 kick-off in a briefing on the tri-media and online news portal what is in store in celebrating the 125th years of existence of Sorsogon as a province and to commemorate the 450th year since the first mass on the island of Luzon was held in Sitio Gibalon, now the town of Magallanes. The briefing covered the festival as proof of the vibrancy of the Sorsoganon and its tradition aiming for national and international consciousness.

Governor Chiz Escudero answering questions and giving an analogic response to those who are still doubtful about the first mass in Luzon. Quipping, he said, “if there is a proof that Pangasinan has the distinction for it, for the last 450 years no absolute historical records can prove that there was a mass in that place in 13th century. As long as there is no incontrovertible proof that Gibalon was not the place we will continue to celebrate that Christianity in Luzon started that day in Gibalon.

Gracing the commemoration is the Papal Nuncio His Eminence Garbiele Giordano Caccia and the Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Jorge Moragas Sanchez, by themselves alone speaks that Gibalon has the distinction of hosting the first Christian mass on Luzon island.

The 20 million budget for the month-long festival commemorates the 125th year of the existence of Sorsogon as a province, the 450th year since the first mass in Luzon was celebrated in Gibalon, the 45th year of the Festival since it was launch in 1974, the continuing partnership of a church that works in setting aside differences for the province’s prosperity and development, aside from celebrating the 25th year of the Kasanggayan Foundation Inc.

The province is not expecting any return of investment, it is more than enough that that long as Sorsoganons are happy, enjoying the best of talents within, believing that what we are doing is nothing short of local creativity, and as we continue the tradition of Pantomina, we can’t be wrong, was the organizer’s belief.

The calendar includes sporting events, agri-tourism trade expo, an art fest, eco-trail at Bulusan National Park, swell fest at Lola Sayong surf camp and to highlight is the Pantomina sa Tinampo aiming to be recorded in the Guinness World Records for the most number of participants in a folk dance in the country. All activities are centered on the catchphrase of Sorsogon Kada Sorsoganon Magtabang, asymmetry of dialects from the two districts of the province.

This time around the organizers taking a cue from the governor are making the unknowing knows what is there in Sorsogon, and obviously one might be curious and expectant what Kasanggayahan Festival is all about.

“I have always believed that the enrichment of culture, heritage, and the arts are necessary for creating projects and activities for our province. Not only it does pave way for the development of local tourism, but it also strengthens the identity and affinity of the People of Sorsogon” was how the governor envisioned Kasanggayahan 2019. []

Protesting farmers want Sorsogon Board Member Atutubo to apologize “for red-tagging”

Board Member Edmundo Atutubo

SORSOGON CITY, 19Sept2019 – Board Member Edmundo Atutubo, who dished out a mouthful to protesting farmers, is now pressured by public opinion to apologize.

Atutubo has “red-tagged” protesting farmers opposing the quarrying of the upper portion of Cawayan River in his radio program at Pasalingaya FM by calling them “front of the communist movement and accusing them as trouble makers”. (Read related news )

His irresponsible remarks got a backlash from protesting farmers which claimed his alleged accusations “were unfounded and unnecessarily put our lives as an easy target for liquidation by state troopers.”

This has become now the main safety concern of the aggrieved farmers and environmentalists who are demanding a public apology from him.

The group described Atutubo as a public official who should wash his mouth with antiseptics before making use of the airwaves to accuse anyone of flat lies.

“He should be circumspect in his statement for we are as circumspect when we nod in approval of his gender, this false accusation against us only proves that he is no longer a sensible public official but a propagandist of his new masters whom he lavishly praises,” protesting group said.

They are still doubtful, if indeed, the Provincial Government would strictly impose the stoppage of quarrying in the river and would only allow heavy equipment to dredge,

Atutubo is temporarily off the air as monitored by aggrieved farmers, and that their demand for a public apology during a session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan should be aired in his program. []

Contributed Photo


Board member Atutubo tags groups protesting quarry in Sorsogon City as “trouble makers”


SORSOGON CITY, 17Sept2019 – An elected board member in his radio program in Sorsogon, Tuesday morning lambasted farmers groups as “trouble makers” which are protesting against quarrying in the city.

Board member Edmundo Atutubo said these groups only cause trouble and they are always against the government.

Atutubo said in his radio program that these groups are fronts of the communists and some are now in Congress like Bayan Muna.

Farmers group Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Sorsogon (Samasor) said, that the statements of Board Member Atutubo are putting the members of legitimate groups and farmers in danger, instead as elected official, he should be objective in presenting the issues in public, not subjective and restrain from making conclusions before studying the pros and cons.

The group said Atutubo is not fit for the position as board member. Instead of protecting the interest of the public, he has now become a mouthpiece of big capitalists and businessmen in the province.

“How can this official protect the interest of the people if he is beholden to his benefactor (politician and businessmen) during election?”, the group hurled back the question.

According to the group, Atutubo has forgotten where he came from. A former idealist public servant now protecting the interest of the few.

Meanwhile, Samasor members vow to continue staging protest against the quarrying in the city, which is detrimental to the interest of farmers and will cause environmental destruction.

Farmers, environmentalists demand end to quarrying in the city

Quarrying at Cawayan River, Basud, Sorsogon City

Meanwhile, farmers and environmentalist groups demand stop to quarrying in Barangay Basud, Sorsogon City.

During a dialogue with Ms. Maribeth Fruto, PENRO LGU Sorsogon and Atty. Ron Ely Espinosa, provincial legal counsel, the group insisted a stop to quarrying of gravel and sand in their place which is a farmland.

The protesting farmers fear that continued quarrying might cause the collapse of a dam which is the source of water supply for the residents.

The groups want Governor Chiz Escudero to cancel the permit granted to the construction firm.

This morning, September 17, 2019, a barricade was set up by residents to block the entry of trucks hauling gravel and sand from the Cawayan River.

According to Samasor, their barricade will continue until Governor Escudero cancels the permit and put a stop to quarrying along the Cawayan River.

Dredging continue, quarrying stopped

That afternoon, during a committee meeting headed by Board member Roland Añonuevo at the Provincial Board, it was recommended, with motion by Vice Governor Wowo Fortes, that quarry materials will no longer be carried out from Barangay Basud and Guilajon, as announced by Dong Mendoza, provincial information officer, in his Facebook post.

Mendoza also said, if there are activities among heavy equipment at the quarry area, they are involved in the dredging and re-channeling of Cawayan River. But, transporting out gravel and sand are no longer permitted.

Within 2 months, from July to August this year, quarrying as a result of dredging and re-channeling of Cawayan River has brought in income for the Provincial treasury in the amount of Php 1.3 million.

This income is much better as compared to the Php 800,000 quarry income declared by the Province last year which was under a different Administration, Mendoza said.

Board Member Edmundo Atutubo

Former senator Francis Joseph Escudero sworn-in as Sorsogon governor


By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.

SORSOGON PROVINCE, 30June2019 ( — “My coming back to serve you is my way of gratitude for the province that never failed me,” says former senator Francis Joseph Escudero who will now lead Sorsogon for the next three years as governor.

Escudero aims to gain international respect for the province as he intends to address administrative deficiency in delivering its social obligations to the public.

He will take a closer look on the ability of all provincial departments and that of the national agencies operating in the province on how they deliver and performed their duties and responsibilities reasoning that there should be a holistic approach in pushing the development of the province.


The inaugural theme “Lambang Sorsoganon Magdanon” is a call to order for the people of Sorsogon, be them public officials, civil society organization, the leaders of the municipality and that of the city together with the barangay officials must have an obligation to re-think what is best for their constituents.

To be an ISO 9001 is not a long shot, all we have to do is to refocus on our administrative directions how to be responsive, cohesive and timely in our services. I aimed to make this province a place where we can be proud to be part of it. I intend to simplify our approach the most pressing should be addressed and it will be a collective responsibility down to the barangay level.

I cannot solve this alone, more so that each one must share responsibly in public governance was his call.

On the issue of the loans incurred by the province his team will closely study its social impact and vowed not to follow suit in resorting to loans to finance public infrastructures and other programs. That of the provincial jail, a plan to move the facility out of its present location is a priority and the structure built in 1916
will house the province museum.

Governor Escudero will have to re-tool the provincial government to accomplish his vision of governance for a progressive Sorsogon. []


Naga officials oath taking; Bongat bows down, Lagacion in

(L-R) Outgoing Naga City Mayor John G. Bongat and incoming Mayor Nelson S. Legacion

CITY OF NAGA, BICOL REGION – City Mayor John G. Bongat officially ends his term today, June 30, 2019.

This marks the start of incoming Mayor Nelson S. Legacion administration.

As Mayor Legacion is welcomed as the 9th city chief executive of Naga, we express deep appreciation to Mayor Bongat for his 9 years of service enabling Naga soaring to greater heights. []