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Sorsogon: Moving towards a rabies-free province

SORSOGON CITY, Feb. 25 (PIA) — For the past two years, the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) has recorded a very significant decrease in rabies incidence in Sorsogon with barely five human and six canine cases as compared to the data way back in 1999 with about 39 cases.

This is good news for Sorsogon, however, it is irrefutable that rabies remains a serious public health problem in the country, as the Department of Health (DOH) says.

To put a halt to this, the provincial government of Sorsogon, through the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO), forged partnership with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), a world leading organization working towards the global control of rabies.

“The provincial government, under the auspices of Gov. Raul R. Lee, is enormously determined to achieve a rabies-free Sorsogon and we want the communities here to have an improved educational awareness to prevent exposure to rabid dogs, and likewise, eliminate or control the source of infection in dog and human population,” said Dr. Enrique Espiritu, provincial veterinarian.

He said that through the Communities Against Rabies Exposure (CARE) Project of GARC, the coordination of surveillance, molecular epidemiology, dog population model control, veterinary and public health system protocols will be facilitated. Furthermore, the incidence of public health problems associated with dogs as vectors will significantly be reduced.

”At present, most of the human cases we have recorded here were not actually bitten by dogs in Sorsogon. But just the same, we need not to be lax, massive dog vaccination is still needed because it is cost effective and sustainable in controlling rabies rather than those other interventions aimed only at humans,” he stated.

He also added that more dogs are getting vaccinated in Sorsogon and they are hoping that eventually, the local government will be able to vaccinate 70 percent of the 52,121 dog population all throughout the province within the targeted time frame.

In an effort to further intensify the implementation of the Provincial Anti-Rabies Elimination Program, the provincial government tapped the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) of the 541 barangays in Sorsogon as volunteer vaccinators.

“We found the SKs to be effective partners in the program implementation because aside from being vaccinators themselves, they can influence their peers and family members, and as our future leaders, it is good that at an early age, we are exposing them to the severity of this deadly infectious disease,” Dr. Espiritu said.

PVO record shows that 3,655 dogs have been vaccinated in Sorsogon City in just a span of less than three weeks since they oriented the SKs last January 28, 2013.

Dr. Espiritu also reported that some 100 rabisin vials were initially distributed to the towns of Irosin, Donsol, and Magallanes while distribution to other municipalities is ongoing. The PVO is also expecting accomplishment reports from the said municipalities a month after the vaccination.

Espiritu also mentioned that LGUs in the province have their respective anti-rabies ordinances and some of them were already amended. However, the local chief executives struggled with the implementation due to budget constraints.

Nevertheless, with the partnership now and the inspiration brought by the success story of the anti-rabies program in Bohol, both the provincial government and GARC are optimistic that the same success can be achieved in Sorsogon, targeting a sustainable rabies-free province by empowering communities to take responsibility as well as develop and share adequate mechanisms for sustainability.

Meanwhile, to strengthen the program, Governor Raul R. Lee issued an Executive Order (EO) Number 002 Series of 2013, which allows the ratification of the ordinances in Section 7 (Pet Owners’ Penalties) of the Republic Act 9482 or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 and created a task force to intensify the implementation of anti-rabies program in the province.

Likewise, the provincial government entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with GARC represented by its Coordinator for Asia, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Miranda, to achieve a rabies-free Sorsogon.

Local chief executives of Bulan, Prieto Diaz, Bulusan, and Barcelona immediately signified support to the said MOA which also provides for trainings to be conducted by the PVO for their respective youths.

The League of Municipal Mayors of the Philippines (LMP)-Sorsogon Chapter President and Barcelona Mayor Manuel Fortes, Jr. also encouraged its members to participate in the noble task and ensure compliance with the mandates of the governor’s directives.

“Moving towards a rabies-free Sorsogon, the CARE program also strengthens the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Campaign by coming up with tarpaulins, posters, and billboards installed in strategic places across the province. We have also produced and distributed flyers and leaflets translated into two versions, one for the Sorsoganons of the first district and another for the second district,” said GARC Communication Officer Dane Medina.

Medina further stated that aside from this, the program also educates the communities on how to stay safe around animals, danger signs to look for, what to do in case of a bite, and guidelines for good pet stewardship.

“But in the event that dog biting cannot be avoided, the bitten individual can manage bite incidence like washing the wound with soap under running water and consulting a doctor or seeking the nearest Animal Bite Treatment (ABT) Center in their locality,” she also added.

At present, Sorsogon has five Animal Bite Treatment Centers located in each Inter-Local Health Zones (ILHZ): Dr. Fernando Duran Sr. Memorial Hospital (Provincial Hospital) and City Health Office in Sorsogon City for JUCCASOM (Juban, Casiguran, Castilla, Sorsogon City and Magallanes); Irosin District Hospital for BIMS (Bulan, Irosin, Matnog and Sta. Magdalena); Gubat District Hospital for GUPRIBBAR (Gubat, Prieto Diaz, Bulusan and Barcelona); and in Donsol District Hospital for SOLAR (Donsol and Pilar). (MAL/BAR-PIA 5, Sorsogon)

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

Army unit facilitates release of captured sea turtle in Castilla

CASTILLA, Sorsogon Feb 27 (PIA) — A sea turtle locally known as “pawikan” measuring 29 inches length and 27 inches width was caught by a fisherman and brought to the 903rd Brigade headquarters on Friday, February 22.

903rd Bde Spokesperson Capt. Mardjorie Paimela P. Panesa, said The turtle was brought to the headquarters by Eugene I. Gilliam, a Bantay-Dagat member, who also reported that it was seen captured by a certain, Welard Camata, a fisherman in the same town.

“Immediately, we reported the incident to the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (Menro), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and Provincial ENRO-LGU, the primary agencies concerned for recovery and release of marine species as such. Our brigade assisted them in releasing the turtle at the seaport of Brgy. Poblacion, Castilla, Sorsogon,” said Capt. Panesa.

She also said that no BFAR tag was seen in the turtle, an indication that it was captured and released for the first time. However, since there was no available tag at that time, BFAR instead tied a plastic knot at the lower part of the turtle’s shell for marking purposes.

Colonel Joselito E. Kakilala, 903rd Brigade commander said, it was the first time he saw a pawikan caught since he was installed as brigade commander.

He reminded local residents, especially those residing in the coastal barangays of Castilla to immediately report and inform concerned agencies or report to the 903rd Brigade once they catch marine turtles.

He likewise appealed to the local folks not to capture, slaughter, nor eat such endangered species because there are penalties set for those who will be caught doing so. “As responsible citizens, we should be protectors of these marine species because nowadays, pawikans are rarely to be seen,” he added. (PA/BAR-PIA5, Sorsogon)

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

PNR soon to resume Manila-Legazpi train trips

LEGAZPI CITY (27-Feb-2013/PNA) – The rehabilitation of the south rail track is currently on its finishing touches, making the Philippine National Railways (PNR) confident that it could soon resume train trips between here and Manila.

Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

A recent test run on the Naga-Legazpi route proved successful and PNR general manager Junio Ragrario said in a statement reaching here Wednesday that construction crewmen are fast-tracking the works so that southbound trips ending here are resumed by next month.

Apart from the Legazpi-Manila operations, Ragrario said the PNR is considering the fielding of train trips between Naga and this city for the benefit of the burgeoning volume of local commuters being generated by the fast-growing trade, commerce and tourism relations between these two cities of Bicol.

“We are fielding two ordinary three-coach trains each with a seating capacity of 240 and well-ventilated seats designed for comfortable travel,” he said.

The recent test run, he said, established that a one-way train trip between Naga and Legazpi takes one-and-half hour, which is more than an hour faster than an ordinary bus plying the same route through the Maharlika Highway.

Besides, according to Ragrario, local ordinary train trips would charge only P82 in fare for a complete trip, which is cheaper by about P50 than bus fares.

“We are doing all these pursuant to the government’s commitment to the total rehabilitation of the railways and provision of safe, cheaper and convenient alternative to the riding public,” he stressed.

“We are therefore appealing to settlers along the railway in this route or in any area where PNR trains operate to strictly observe the three-meter clearance provided along both sides of the track. We have been constantly reminding them on this for their own safety,” Ragrario added.

Rehabilitation of the PNR south facilities from Calamba City in Laguna to this city covering a distance of 483 kilometers, which was allotted an amount of P35.15 billion, was started in 2005 and scheduled for completion by 2011.

The project, however, suffered a major setback when super typhoons “Milenyo” and “Reming” successively battered Bicol in 2006, rendering crippling damages on the railways between Naga City and here.

Plans then to restore the Legazpi trips were shelved even as the Naga City-Manila trips were maintained intermittently.

In 2011, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III pushed for the resumption of the rehabilitation of the damaged Bicol section of the railways which was eventually completed up to Ligao City, Albay, a year after.

Manila-Ligao trips were restored in early December last year with Albay Governor Joey Salceda expressing optimism during the inaugural run that rehabilitation works for the railway line down to here would be completed at once so that trains would be once more seen traversing its original route deep into the central point of Albay.

Train trips, famously called Bicol Express, have been an important component of the regional economy because of its contributions to trade, tourism and transportation, Salceda noted.

The governor said that with the imminent restoration of train trips to Legazpi, trade activities would greatly improve as products from Albay and manufacturers from Calabarzon and Manila would use the railways, thus, this would result in cheaper products, freight cost and fast travel time.

“Rail transport is the cheapest while exerting competitive pressure on the other forms of transportation by increasing supply,” Salceda said.

He also noted that the rail transport is government-subsidized up to 70 percent anywhere in the world in order to equalize opportunities for the rural countryside and promote tourism as well.

For tourism, Bicol Express also offers a different and distinctive perspective of the countryside to tourists both domestic and foreign as it gives unrestricted view of Mayon Volcano surrounded by the rich greenery of Bicol farmlands, he added.

“With Bicol Express, passengers have all travel options–rail, road or air options–between Albay and Manila and the rest of Luzon,” Salceda added.

According to Ragrario, the resumption of the Legazpi trips “closes the loop” linking the North and South Rail project.

He said the refurbished coaches from Japan being used by the PNR for the Bicol Express and Mayon Express offer comfort to passengers with a line of first-class coaches, sleepers’ coaches, economy coaches, restaurant, and cargo coaches.

PNR is now using five coaches for the Bicol Express that accommodate 300 passengers per trip.

Of these five coaches, four are sleeper cabins and the other one is for reclining seats good for 60 passengers, Ragrario said.

PNR dispatches two trips through the route daily—the Bicol Express that leaves Ligao City for Manila at 6:30 p.m and the Mayon Limited at 8:30 p.m.

Mayon Limited has two types of trips–the De Luxe that is scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and the ordinary during Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Mayon Limited De Luxe, which is an air-conditioned cabin and with reclining seats, charges a fare of P717 while the ordinary, P344.

Bicol Express, on the other hand, collects P416 from its economy passengers, P548 for reclining seats, P665 for sleeper and P998 for executive sleeper.

Students and senior citizens are entitled to 30 percent discount.

The restoration of PNR trips between Bicol and Manila, Ragrario said, proves that trains remain an important component of the mass transportation system in the route for its being more economical, convenient and safe.

With these developments, the PNR, Ragrario added, expects its passenger base to increase from the previous 400,000 a month to 600,000. (PNA)

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

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