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DEC (01-11) 2008 TACLOBAN NEWS
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BREAKING NEWS / TACLOBAN REGION

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Dec 11, 2008

High-impact project set for implementation in Tacloban starting next year, says Alfred

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The City Government of Tacloban is going to build high-impact projects beginning next year.

This was disclosed by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

"Our detractors have been saying that the city has no blueprint or plans for the coming year. It is not true. In fact, the city has lined up big projects whose implementation are slated to be started early 2009," Mayor Romualdez said.

The mayor revealed that high-impact projects planned for next year include construction of a fish port, 50-bed hospital in Abucay, modern slaughterhouse, and 4-kilometer coastal road project.

Also, according to Mayor Romualdez, the city government will undertake next year the rehabilitation of the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) airport and site development of the long-dormant economic growth center.

"I would prioritize these projects because I know they will have the biggest impact and help to the people of this city, especially the poor ones," the mayor stressed.

Meantime, the bid of the city to become a highly-urbanized city has won the backing of a top official of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in the region.

In an interview at his office Tuesday, PPA Regional Manager Winfred Elizalde said that HUC-hood is what the city needed at this time to attract more capital.

"If businessmen will know that Tacloban is an HUC, they will flock to the city and pour their investments here," Elizalde said.

The PPA manager added that for him, the city is more than ready to be "promoted" a notch higher as far as classification is concerned.

"I think the city is ready to become an HUC because of the infrastructures that I see around. I have been all over the Philippines. During my stints in those places, I can see that Tacloban is not far away from the development that they have gained," he stressed.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had issued a proclamation No. 1637 on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. The proclamation officially takes effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite scheduled to be held on December 18.






Dec 11, 2008

9 die in Eastern Visayas floods

By Joey A. Gabieta

Inquirer.net - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- The death toll in floods that swept through Eastern Visayas, particularly Samar Island, has risen to nine, according to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

The OCD also reported that 23,397 families were moved out of their homes from flooded towns in Eastern and Northern Samar.

Rey Gozon, OCD assistant regional director, cited a report identifying the fatalities as Jeoffrey Cobreros, Paterno Abendano, Alfredo Mijares Sr., Enrico Laoreno, Danilo Mahinay, Joy Zaidy, Jose Rosco and Regan Singson Tasan Jr. A newly born baby that had not been named was also listed as a flood casualty.

At least six of the fatalities were from the impoverished province of Northern Samar. Three were from Eastern Samar, another impoverished area.






Dec 10, 2008

Convenors cancels
Dec. 10 HUC forum

By Tomas Cicero C. Maye

Leyte Samar Daily Express

Tacloban City, Philippines - The Convenors group officially announces that the scheduled HUC forum on December 10, 2008 has been cancelled as scheduled.

The City Mayor during our meeting was not amenable to the convenor’s proposal for reasons of his own, but rather give counter proposal to the effect that either proponent or opponent would present their respective stand in the HUC issues on separate date/time.
 
However, still a follow-up was made by the convenors group regarding each proposal bearing in mind that the same might be reconsidered by the City Mayor, such follow-up was made through the city legal office, who however reiterated to the convenors the earlier statement made by the city mayor that he is not amenable to such plan of the convenors group.

Such proposal was conveyed to the vice-mayor (OPPONENT/NO TO HUC) personally by the convenors through its chairman Bro. Massey Grafil, Regional Deputy of the Knights of Columbus. However, such counter proposal of the proponent did not get the favorable response from the vice-mayor (NO TO HUC). All facts considered, the convenor’s group agreed that the scheduled HUC forum be cancelled.

However, the convenors is considering a meeting to discuss whatever possible avenue in order to attain the desired objective of the convenor’s to present both sides of the issues, on the HUC to the Taclobanons thereby giving them the opportunity to have an objective and impartial information of the same to help them come up with a sound judgment come December 18, 2008, the plebiscite day.






Dec 10, 2008

PPA proposes P100-M port rehabilitation next year

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) proposed a P100 million budget to rehabilitate the 2,500 square meter deck piles next year in anticipation of the increasing volume of shipped products to the region over the next years.

Tacloban Port Manager Winfred Elizalde said that the area that lies within the 3.5 hectare old wharf has been deteriorating since it was built way back in 1936.

"Since it was constructed, there were no rehabilitation efforts done. It is still being used but we've have been imposing load limits from five tons to 15 tons," Elizalde told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

The proposal was earlier turned in to the central office of PPA with the hope to place the proposed project in the priority list in 2009.

The city's wharf has 7,756 square meter working areas that serve as loading area for 10 to 40 footer container cargoes.

Last year, Tacloban port recorded a total of 439,566 metric tons (MT) of gross registered tonnage with 422,297 MT as domestic and 17,269 MT as foreign.

"There's a need to rehabilitate the old deck piles as we expect an increase of cargo vessel arrivals in the next years as construction booms in the city," Elizalde added.

Despite the absence of passenger ships, the port sustained income growth at present. From January to October 2008, Tacloban port posted P16.8 million revenue, which is 17% up than last year's P14.36 million income.

However, the number of ships that docked in the city's port decreased this year compared to 2007. As of last month, number of ship arrivals was pegged at 493.

With less than one month before the end of 2008, port officials voiced optimism that this year's figure won't beat the 635 arrivals in 2007. About 90% of ships brought cargoes.

"There are fewer ships that arrived this year but those are large barges that brought materials in support to the city's boom in construction," Elizalde said.

Among those supplies were for construction of Gaisano Central Mall and Robinsons Place Tacloban. Gaisano held its soft opening last November 28. The Gokongwei-led Robinsons mall will operate within the first quarter of 2009.

Meanwhile, PPA will open its P80-million three-storey building on February 2009 that sits within the 1,575 square meter lot of the city's port area in anticipation of the city's economic boom.

Elizalde said that the construction of big port operation building is in preparation for the bid of the city's wharf to meet international standard. The Tacloban seaport, however, was not included in the list of 10 priority ports in the country that will be converted as world class by 2010.

"The port here might not meet the international standard by that time, but we're looking forward more progress over the next years," he added.

The construction started February 2007 by the J.V. Loreto Construction and Development Corporation. It has a floor a area of 712 square meter. As of today, the project is 87% complete.

The old port operation office will be remodeled into a terminal building once passenger ships will restore their operation in Tacloban.

After the sea mishap of M/V Princess of the Stars last June 2008, the Sulpicio Lines-owned M/V Cebu Princess stopped their operation. The vessel was the only passenger ship that transport people from Tacloban to Cebu and Metro Manila.

Starting 1998, Tacloban seaport noted a decline in volume of passengers. This was due to lack of passenger vessels for this route. Two old vessels, which had been on dry dock most of the time in the past, were finally declared as no longer sea worthy.

"One vessel remained in operation, providing one trip per week. Due to the irregularity of such trips, passenger flow has been diminishing, thus affecting viability of operating such vessel," a National Economic and Development Authority report said.






Dec 10, 2008

Samar casualties, damages rise

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The death toll from flash floods in the Samar provinces increased to six yesterday.

This as local officials raised concern over the lack of food for thousands of affected families stranded in 13 villages in Oras town, Eastern Samar province.

Office of the Civil Defense Regional Director Angel Gaviola said the National Disaster Coordinating Council will give a P10,000 financial assistance to each of the victims' families.

Mr. Gaviola said the local government unit of Oras noted that around 3,000 families in 13 remote villages have been without food for five days now.

"[Oras] Mayor Neil Alvarez has sent a team [yesterday] to check the situation of these 13 barangays surrounded by the river. As the floodwater rises, residents have nothing to do but to find shelter without any food," Mr. Gaviola told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Alvarez said in a separate interview that a team from the mayor's office has not returned from the affected barangays to assess the situation.

"It's really hard to get to these 13 river barangays because of the strong current," the mayor said.

He said the residents have been forced to set up camp in the hills since the schoolbuildings and village halls were also inundated.

"I've been asking for help. Our calamity fund is only P40,000. It's been depleted since we were hit by natural calamities last February and August," Mr. Alvarez said.

Mr. Gaviola said they expect more reports of displaced families and damaged properties from the towns of Eastern Samar and Northern Samar provinces as communication lines are restored.

As of yesterday, at least 5,507 families or 22,658 individuals were affected by floods in Northern Samar and Eastern Samar.






Dec 10, 2008

Samar floods deaths now 4

Inquirer.net - Philippines

Tacloban City, Philippines -- Four people have died, including a newborn infant, when floods hit Eastern Visayas, while thousands others remain in various evacuation centers as waters have yet to subside, local officials said.

Mayor Jojie Montallana of Jipapad town, Eastern Samar said Tuesday she received a sketchy report that a newly delivered baby died in Barangay (village) San Roque when the mother could not leave their house to obtain post-delivery services due to the flooding.

The Northern Samar provincial disaster management unit also identified the two persons who died of drowning as Jeffrey Cobreros from Barangay General Lukban of Bobon town and Enrico Laoreno, 51, of Barangay Tambangan, Palapag town.

The first confirmed fatality due to the flooding was identified as Jose Rosco, a 16-year-old boy from a village of Jipapad town.

Montallana estimated the damage to crops and infrastructure in Jipapad at P5 million.

She said about 50 houses were destroyed while 693 others sustained some damages.

Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone has sent 20 sacks of rice to the affected families, Montallana said.

Meanwhile, 370 families or 2,220 persons from four villages in Bobon town and 146 families of 820 persons from four barangays of Catarman were evacuated to higher ground after floodwaters reached their homes.






Dec 08, 2008

Thousands displaced in Samar floods

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- A 16-year-old boy drowned while thousands of families were displaced and crops and properties worth millions of pesos damaged when floods caused by incessant rains hit three towns on Samar Island Sunday, authorities said.

Mayor Jojie Montallana of Jipapad, one of the two affected towns in Eastern Samar, said Jose Rosco who drowned Sunday as he helped a neighbor evacuate in Barangay (village) 1.

Montallana said Rosco slipped and fell into the water.

Aside from Jipapad, the other affected towns were Oras in Eastern Samar and Las Navas in Northern Samar.

The mayors of the three affected towns have asked for assistance from the national government.

"Our calamity fund is already depleted," Oras Mayor Neil Alvarez said in a phone interview Monday.

In Oras alone, 30 barangay were flooded, with water more than five feet deep min some places. The floods displaced 3,421 families or more than 20,500 persons, Alvarez said.

The affected families were relocated to higher ground with the assistance of the the 801st Infantry Brigade, commanding officer General Francis Lanuza said.

"The troops are ferrying them using our 6X6 trucks," Lanuza said in a text message.

Montallana reported that the flooding affected over one thousand families from 13 villages of Jipapad.

"Practically, the entire Jipapad town is now submerged," she said when reached over the phone on Monday, adding that the waters were as deep as six meters in the submerged villages.

She could not say how many people are affected but said barangay halls, rural health centers and even the municipal hall and church at the town center have been converted into evacuation centers.

Montallana said destruction to property and crops in her town has reached over P1 million.

"We have already sought assistance from our congressman [Teodulo Coquilla] as well as from the Department of Social Welfare and Development," Montallana said.

Alvarez said because of the flooding, water borne diseases like typhoid fever have been detected in three Oras barangay -- Tawagan, San Eduardo and Dao.

He said their immediate needs are food and medicines.

In Las Navas, 80 percent of the 53 barangay are flooded, municipal engineer Romualdo Saicis said. But they have yet to assess how many people have been affected and how much damage the flooding has caused.

The flooding has affected still undetermined number of families as well as crops and properties that were damaged, Saicis said in a separate phone interview Monday.

Already, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the region has said a low-pressure area detected 70 kilometers north of Borongan, Eastern Samar, is expected to bring more rains in the area and warned residents in low-lying areas to be on alert for flashfloods and landslides.






Dec 07, 2008

HUC gets endorsement from Basey mayor, MCH association

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The bid of Tacloban to become a highly-urbanized city (HUC) has won the endorsement of the chief executive of a nearby municipality and top official of an association of motorcabs-for hire (MCH) drivers in the city.

Basey Mayor Wilfredo Estorninos and United Motorcab Drivers Association of Tacloban (UMDT) President Dick Corilla both expressed their strong support to the move to reclassify Tacloban into the first-ever HUC in Eastern Visayas.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had issued proclamation No. 1637 on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. The proclamation officially takes effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite scheduled to be held on Dec. 18.

"I believe it's to the benefit of Tacloban and of Region 8, being the regional center. We should support it as it's the only HUC in the region. We are lagging behind in this respect compared to other regions. We should move forward under the leadership of the City of Tacloban," Estorninos said in a text message.

In a separate interview, Corilla likened Tacloban's HUC-hood to a promotion.

"Sugad hin usa nga empleyado nga nagtrabahho hin maiha na ha gobyerno, dapat liwat mapromote it Tacloban, nga nagin component city sakob hin 55 ka tuig, ngadto ha usa nga mas hitaas nga kategorya, nga amo it HUC," Corilla said.

Corilla stressed that he and other UMDT members doesn't' believe that Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is bent on phasing out MCHs once Tacloban becomes an HUC

"Ginagamit la ito nga isyu hit mga nakontra hit HUC para magupong it mga tawo. Waray ito kamatuoran. Ha amon pagkilala kan Mayor Alfred, usa hiya nga sinsero nga opisyal nga andam bumulig hit mga kablas, sugad ha amon nga mga MCH drivers," he said.

Mayor Romualdez is strongly pushing the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC on the ground that it will bring more investors that could translate into better services and programs for its people.

The mayor maintained that the city has already met all the requirements, which is 200,000 in population and an annual income of P50 million. Tacloban has a population of more than 217,000 with an income of over P600 million.






Dec 07, 2008

RP at standstill, unitedly cheering for Pacman

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Once again, Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao managed to unite the whole country, even for just one half day, as members of every Filipino households were held captive, glued to their television or radio sets, to watch the Dream Match.

Miraculously, there were no traffic jams in the major thoroughfares, in fact, very few motorists were in sight, crime incidence was at zero rate, others forgot to cook lunch and most notably, for once, the Filipino people's disunity and disagreement in every issue that affect the society were for a while put to rest as every Filipino was beholden by one goal - to see Manny Pacquaio as he boxed his way to victory.

For once, nobody negated or debated the President's statement on the victory of Pacquiao, that the nation is one with Pacquiao in his spectacular TKO victory over "Golden Boy" Dela Hoya.

"I hope that Pacquaio will have a boxing fight everyday so that we will always have a united Filipino people," one avid fan of Pacquiao enthused.

Indeed, because tomorrow, after Pacquiao's fight, endless bickering among the people who are supposed to be the leaders of the people will continue. Detractors will go on unearthing make-believe ghosts that do not do any good but only divide the Filipino nation.

It is impossible for Pacquiao to have a bout everyday. In fact, Pacquio can not be a boxer forever. Pacquiao can only inspire young Filipinos to go for their dreams despite their economic situations. Pacquiao can only challenge the leaders to do something good for the country and its people.

In the end, it is all up for the young Filipinos to do their best to learn the lesson from Pacquiao's life and make it their own story.

It is all up for each and every Filipino to unite and together repel the impending global financial crisis that is threatening to affect the country. If the country is able to unite for several hours, why could it not remain united for the good of all?






Dec 05, 2008

Gov. Petilla admits he convinced Vice Gov. Bagulaya to reject HUChood

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

KANANGA, Leyte -- Governor Jericho "Icot" Petilla admitted that he "convinced" his vice governor, Mimiette Bagulaya, to reject the move to reclassify Tacloban into a highly urbanized city as he insisted that the real people's will on the issue should prevail.

But the governor was quick to point out that his convincing of Bagulaya to say "no" on the HUChood of Tacloban was because she would be deprived of her right to serve the people of the city, about 85 kilometers from here.

"I convinced her to say no on the HUChood of Tacloban for her own good. She will be campaigning for effectivity. Mimiette is still very much qualified and capable to serve the people of Tacloban," Governor Petilla, who led in the giving of cash incentives to rebel returnees in a ceremony on Wednesday held at this town gym, said.

Based on the legal opinion of the Commission on Elections, residents of the city would no longer be qualified to vote and be voted upon for any provincial positions once Tacloban become an HUC.
The vice governor, who is serving on her second term, is a resident and a registered voter of Tacloban whom she once served as vice mayor and a councilor.

The Comelec has set Dec. 18 for the plebiscite on the planned reclassification.

Governor Petilla said to deny the vice governor to serve Tacloban would not only be unfair to her but to the city's residents.

The vice governor is leading the campaign to say "no" on the conversion of Tacloban into a highly urbanized city, citing among other grounds, for political reasons.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who is pushing for the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC, branded those who oppose it as anti-development.

But the governor defended those who opposes the conversion of the city saying that the proponents should allow them to express their own opinion on the premises that we are still under a democratic country.

While he took side those who opposes the conversion, Petilla was quick to dismiss "speculation" that he is behind them as the governor insisted that he would respect the will of the people on this issue.

"I am not supporting them or anyone for that matter. My take on this issue is let the people on this HUChood of Tacloban. It's not my business to meddle on this matter," Petilla said.

The City Hall has been accusing the governor and his mother, former Representative Remedios "Matin" Petilla of undermining its effort to convert Tacloban into an HUC.

Just like her son, the former lady solon has strongly denied to any move to oppose the HUChood.

The Leyte governor also issued an appeal to Mayor Romualdez to allow freedom of express to flow during this exercise.

"Let us not terrorize our people. If the people of Tacloban say yes, let them be. But if they say no, then respect them. We should not muzzle them," he stressed.






Dec 05, 2008

PPA to open P80-million tree-storey building

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will open its P80-million three-storey building on February 2009 in anticipation of the city's economic boom.

The building sits within the 1,575 square meter lot of the city's port area that used to be the passenger terminal.

Tacloban port manager Winfred Elizalde said that the construction of big port operation building is in preparation for the bid of the city's wharf to meet international standard.

"We need to upgrade the port operation office as we see that more businessmen invest in Tacloban and shipping remains the main mode of bringing products here," Elizalde told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

The Tacloban seaport, however, was not included in the list of 10 priority ports in the country that will be converted as world class by 2010.

"The port here might not meet the international standard by that time but we're looking forward more progress over the next years," he added.

The construction started February 2007 by the J.V. Loreto Construction and Development Corporation. It has a floor area of 712 square meter. As of today, the project is 87% complete.

The old port operation office will be remodeled into a terminal building once passenger ships will restore their operation in Tacloban.

After the sea mishap of M/V Princess of the Stars last June 2008, the Sulpicio Lines-owned M/V Cebu Princess stopped their operation. The vessel was the only passenger ship that transport people from Tacloban to Cebu and Metro Manila.

Starting 1998, Tacloban seaport noted a decline in volume of passengers. This was due to lack of passenger vessels for this route. Two old vessels, which had been on dry dock most of the time in the past, were finally declared as no longer sea worthy.

"One vessel remained in operation, providing one trip per week. Due to the irregularity of such trips, passenger flow has been diminishing, thus affecting viability of operating such vessel," a National Economic and Development Authority report said.

Despite the absence of passenger ships, the port sustained income growth at present. From January to October 2008, Tacloban port posted P16.8 million revenue, which is 17% up than last year's P14.36 million income.

However, the number of ships that docked in the city's port decreased this year compared to 2007. As of last month, the number of ship arrivals was pegged at 493.

With less than one month before the end of 2008, port officials voiced optimism that this year's figure won't beat the 635 arrivals in 2007. About 90% of ships brought cargoes.

"There are fewer ships that arrived this year but those are large barges that brought materials in support to the city's boom in construction," Elizalde said.

Among those supplies were for construction of Gaisano Central Mall and Robinsons Place Tacloban.






Dec 05, 2008

Gov. Petilla reveals more infras for Leyte province

By Ahlette C. Reyes

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla reported new infrastructure plans for the province to correspond with the province's tourism and employment promotion as a means to stir up economic development.

This was presented by the governor during the Provincial Development Council Meeting held Thursday at the Governor's Hall.

Gov. Petilla said the province still sets its sights on a bigger convention center, big enough to host national conventions and other big events.

He pointed out during the meeting to PDC members, who are composed of different local chief executives and other officials of the province, that by providing the province with more convention centers, business activity will flourish and become more vibrant.

More visitors would then be willing and encouraged to come here as the province would then have the capability to host larger local, national and even international events.

It can be recalled the province early on announced it is planning to erect a convention center at the Old Children"s Park.

The province is eyeing a facility that could house more or less 3,000-6,000 people in just one venue with the capability of holding events such as conventions, forums and seminars of national scope.

Meanwhile, the governor also reported the provincial government has plans of putting up an additional building inside the Leyte ICT Park.

However, this plan has to be on a later stage since the aim now is for APAC to fully locate, establish and operationalize itself before inviting more call centers and other ICT locators at the PEZA-facility.

"We cannot as yet invite other call center companies to locate until APAC has established their branch. Because they are the first ones to accept our invitation to locate, we give them some privileges to enjoy such as operating for a period of time without other competition," Gov. Petilla said.

APAC Customers Inc., as has been reported, is the first call center company that would start operations by February 2009.

The governor said this infrastructure plans are geared towards Leyte's primary target of tourism and investment.

This as he considers that tourism and investments are two big generators of employment which could pull the gap in the figure of unemployed in the province.






Dec 05, 2008

1,000 residents avail of medical, dental services in northern brgys.

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- More than 1,000 city residents from northern barangays in the city availed of free dental, medical and other services during the city government-sponsored "Barangayan" held yesterday at Brgy. Palanog, this city.

The beneficiaries, most of them indigents from Palanog, also availed of free, civil registration and veterinary services, courtesy of personnel from the City Population Office (CPO), City Veterinary Office (CVO) and other departments of the city government.

Also, during the "Barangayan" the beneficiaries were lectured on food processing, proper hygiene, disaster management and family planning.

The "Barangayan" is a priority program of the city government which facilitates the delivery of basic services directly to the barangays. Thousands of Taclobanons from 138 barangays in the city have benefited from said program.

The program is spearheaded by the office of Tacloban City Mayor Romualdez in cooperation with other departments, including City Health Office (CHO), Tacloban City Police (TCP), Department of Education (DepEd) City Division, City Nutrition Office (CNO), City Traffic, City ENRO, City Agriculture Office (CAO) and City DILG.






Dec 05, 2008

Leyte rebel returnees in govt social integration program

By Ranulfo Docdocan

ABS CBN News - Philippines

KANANGA, Leyte -- In line with President Arroyo's peace and development efforts, about 32 former rebels were formally accepted into the government's social integration program during formal reception ceremonies conducted at the municipal gym here on Wednesday.

During the ceremonies, local government officials representing presidential peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon presented around 20 former rebels with the basic assistance of P5,000.00. Several of the former rebels have already received financial assistance and rewards from the provincial government.

Gov. Jericho Petilla gave an additional P25,000 to one former rebel who surrendered an M-16 rifle. For surrendering 25 pieces mortar shells, another rebel was awarded P200,000 by Petilla.

"It's time for us to work one in hand to achieve real peace in the province,The provincial government of Leyte is determined that with this program of the national government this will encourage other rebels to surrender and work with us for the development" said Petilla.

Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Codilla of Kananga expressed his support the program. He also announced to his constituents about the ongoing efforts of the government to attain peace in the town.

"Kananga is not just known as geothermal energy source...[soon] we will put Kananga on the map as a peaceful place to live in."

Among of the ex-rebels who avail the program was Wendel Comendador, 27. He surrendered on Oct. 28,2008, after deciding pull out from the insurgency because of the hardships experienced in the mountains.

"Mahirap doon, naghihirap talaga kami," he said.

He also encouraged other members to do the same. "The government can provide a lot of program to reform our lives."






Dec 04, 2008

CDA exec says it's high time for Tacloban to become HUC

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) Assistant Regional Director Armon Paa said it's high time for Eastern Visayas to have a highly urbanized city (HUC).

"I think it's high time that Tacloban be reclassified as an HUC," Paa said.
He pointed out that Central and Western Visayas already have HUCs but not a single city has that category in the region.

"It is something to be proud of if we have an HUC here in Eastern Visayas ,"he said.
Being an HUC, according to Paa, will bring many benefits to Taclobanons.

He emphasized that with HUC-hood there will be an investment and tourism boom, and that city government will be better equipped to tackle problems faced by the city and its residents.

"Nagpapasalamat ako han ira pagduso hini. Kun it usa nga syudad certified na nga HUC, mas damo nga mga investors ngan mga turista it mapakadto hito nga lugar, sugad hit nahihinabo ha mga HUCs ha iba nga parte hit Pilipinas," Paa stressed.

"Diri dapat tagan hin importansya it nababatian naton ha mga radio nga diri pa dapat mag-HUC it syudad kay damo pa it gin-aatubang hito nga mga problema sugad hit baha, kay lugod, kun HUC na kita, matutukan ngan mapupu-kusan na it pag-ayad hito nga mga problema kay may kapas na it syudad. Dara hito nga mga bentaha, nananawagan liwat ako ha akon mga igkasi Taclobanon nga magka-urusa ngan bomotos kita hin "yes" ha umaabot nga plebisito," he added.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is strongly pushing the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC on the ground that it will bring more investors that could translate into better services and programs for its people.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had issued a proclamation No. 1637 on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. The proclamation officially takes effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite scheduled to be held on December 18.






Dec 03, 2008

K of C to spearhead public forum on HUC

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Voters of this city would now have a chance to learn more about the hottest issue in the city - Tacloban's bid to become a highly urbanized city.

A public forum is to be held on December 10 wherein prominent proponents on the HUChood of the city as well as those who are opposing for its reclassification would be invited.

The forum is to be held at the Tacloban Convention Center around 2 in the afternoon.
The Commission on Elections-sanctioned activity is to be spearheaded by the Knights of Columbus with the support of various media outlets based in the city.

Accordingly, those who are pushing for the reclassification as well as those who are opposing for it would be given ample time to explain on their respective stand.

Issues relevant to the HUChood like its political, economic and legal implications would be discussed during the public forum by the concerned parties.

Likewise, audience who would ask questions, in a written form, are to be refrained from asking questions that would tend to embarrass the invited guest.

Among those to be invited to the public forum are Mayor Alfred Romualdez who is endorsing the HUChood and Vice Mayor Arvin Antoni who is among the leading personalities opposing the reclassification.

The public forum is designed to help the residents of this city, especially its more than 107,000 registered voters, decide whether they would vote for "yes" or a "no" on the plebiscite called for this purpose.

The public forum is open to all sectors who want to know more about the issue that has serious implications not only to the city itself but to the entire Eastern Visayas region, the proponents of the said activity said.

The Comelec has scheduled the plebiscite on December 18 with a single question whether the qualified voters of the city would approve the reclassification of Tacloban from being a component city into a highly urbanized city.

The Comelec had earlier encouraged various sectors to initiate "informative" public campaign on the issue to help enlighten the city's residents and its voters about the issue.






Dec 03, 2008

EV already feels economic slowdown, says NEDA

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

PALO, LEYTE -- The regional head of National Economic Development Authority said that as early as now Eastern Visayas is already experiencing effects of the global economic crisis with the downtrend in the region's coconut industry.

"There had been a lower demand for this product hence there was a drop of copra price from something as high as P40 in the middle of this year to something more than P20 in the last quarter," explained Buenaventure Go-Soco, NEDA regional director.

He said however that the approaching holiday season has somehow helped to increase demand so that the price of copra has started to climb up.

But with some businessmen and economists projecting a worse economic situation in 2009, NEDA said the only way for the region to cope up is through the agriculture industry.

"We have to produce more agricultural products so that we will be sufficient in food and eventually reduce inflation,"said Go-Soco.

He also noted that the influx of call center companies in Tacloban would help to keep the region's economy in shape.

APAC Costumer Services, Inc. is set to open a call center in Palo, Leyte by January next year making it the first-ever call center in the region. Another call center company is also set to open up in Tacloban city first quarter next year.

"Having call centers would allow dollar inflow in our market since these are outsourcing business locating in our place," said Go-Soco.

Regional Development Council (RDC) chair Mel Sarmiento also noted that to ease out the effect of the economic slowdown, it would be a good help if infrastructure projects earlier promised by the national government would be implemented.

"That would give our people job opportunities," he said.






Dec 03, 2008

Police brace for influx of shoppers to Tacloban

By Jenette Fariola-Ruedas

ABS CBN News - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- As Christmas Day approaches, more and more people and shoppers crowd the city especially after its first mall opened last week.

Tacloban City has been the center for all activities from the province. Thus, more vehicles are expected to come and go to the city causing heavy traffic.

"One thing that contributes to traffic are the drivers' non-compliance to traffic rules and regulations," Superintendent Romulo Cleve Taboso, Tacloban City police chief, said in an interview.

Tacloban police as well as the City Traffic division however, are finding means to answer the problem.

Traffic lights and 90 traffic volunteers were assigned to different areas around the city and are a big help in organizing the smooth flow of traffic in the city.

"What we do now is more on coordinating with each other to answer any traffic problem, because we cannot also prevent those people and vehicles to come to Tacloban," Taboso disclosed.

Taboso also warned the public to be more vigilant because snatchers and pickpockets also thrive with the city's hustle and bustle during this holiday season.






Dec 02, 2008

Newspaper vendors support Tacloban's bid to become HUC

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Newspaper Vendors Association of Tacloban City (NVATC) has endorsed the move to convert Tacloban into a highly urbanized city (HUC), becoming the 19th vendors association in the city to come out in favor of the bid.

Earlier, the city's bid was endorsed by 18 vendors association under the umbrella of the Tacloban Market Vendors Forum (TMVF).

In a manifesto of support, the organization also thanked Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez for his concern of the welfare of the organization and its members.

The manifesto, which was signed by NVATC officers and members, was issued early this week.

In an interview, NVATC President Lorenzo Sales said their organization has decided to endorse the bid after seeing that it was intended for the good and welfare of the people, particularly Taclobanons.

"Diri ini igduduso hit aton mga opiyales dinhi ha syudad kun diri ini pakaupay hit mga molopyo. Nakita namon nga dako it maibublig hini hit pag-ursa hit lokal nga ekonomiya, ngan magigin tulay ini para makahatag hin mas maopay nga serbisyo it pangobyernohan syudad hit Tacloban ha iya mga nasasakupan," Sales stressed.

"Sanglit, nanawagan kami ha mga molopyo ngan mga opisyales dinhi ha syudad ngan iba nga parte hit rehiyon nga magkaurusa ngan suportahan ini nga opurtunidad, nga manta, puro kaupayan it maihahatag ha aton nga tanan," he added.

Mayor Romualdez is pushing for the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC on the ground that it will bring more investors to the city that will translate into better services and more job opportunities for residents of the city.

The mayor said that the city has already met all the requirements, which is 200,000 in population and an annual income of P50 million. Tacloban has a population of more than 217,000 with an income of over P 600 million.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had issued Proclamation No. 1637 on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. The proclamation officially takes effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite scheduled to be held on December 18.

If the "yes" vote prevails in the coming plebiscite, Tacloban will become the first-ever HUC in Eastern Visayas.






Dec 02, 2008

KFC to add six stores next year

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Fastfood chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) plans to open six more outlets in the Visayas and Mindanao next year and boost sales by at least a fifth.

Last week, KFC opened its first outlet in Tacloban, and company officials said they were confident that sluggish consumer demand would not affect food sales.

"We're looking at a 20% increase in our sales in 2009. The global economic crisis is already here, but we're not affected because we offer good quality food," said Tess Gajudo, area manager for the Visayas.

One of the six new branches will also be in Tacloban. Ms. Gajudo declined to identify where they will open the five other branches. "We can't give you yet the specific locations [because these are] still under negotiation but definitely, we're opening six stores next year," Ms. Gajudo said in an interview.

Jojo Marcelo, KFC vice-president for operations, said their second store in Tacloban would be inside the Robinson's Place, a mid-sized mall that is expected to open in the first quarter of next year. The first KFC outlet here is inside the Gaisano Central Mall, the first mall in Leyte.

KFC will tap suppliers from Tacloban and Cebu for their operations in the Visayas. Nearly 30 workers have been hired for the first Tacloban branch. KFC has 160 stores nationwide.

KFC is a chain of fastfood restaurants based in Louisville, Kentucky. KFC was a wholly owned subsidiary of Tricon from 1997 to 2002, and has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Yum! Brands since 2002.

KFC mainly sells chicken pieces, wraps, salads and burgers. While its primary focus is fried chicken, KFC also offers a line of roasted chicken products, side dish and desserts.






Dec 01, 2008

Youth leaders declare support to Tacloban's bid  to become HUC

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Four top officials of progressive organizations in the city have declared their support to the bid of Tacloban to become a highly-urbanized city (HUC).

Kenneth Tiu, League of Filipino Students (LFS) Tacloban Chapter president; Lou Molon, regional coordinator of BAYAN; Ricky Palencia, chairperson of Confederation for Unity and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE); and Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) Chairman Peter Griefel all came out in favor of the bid.

The four announced their endorsement of the bid during a press conference held at the University of the Philippine Visayas Tacloban Campus (UPVTC), this city, recently.

According to the four, their decision to say "yes" to HUC-hood stemmed from their shared belief that it will bring many benefits, particularly to the youth, working class, and ordinary residents of the city.

"Ha panahon nga magin HUC na it Tacloban, magigin mas progresibo it ekonomiya dinhi ha aton. Dara hito, magkakaada hin mas maupay nga trabaho para hit mga graduates, ngan kadugangan nga mga programa nga makakabulig hit mga kablas ngan mga batan-on, sugad hit mga scholarship programs," said the statement prepared by the four activist leaders.

"Sanglit, nanawagan kami ha mga Taclobanon nga bomotos hin "yes" ha umaabot nga plebisito," it added.

The four also noted that an important factor in their decision to back the HUC-hood of the city is the willingness of Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez to sit down and discuss issues with the ordinary people.

" Kumpara ha iba nga mga politiko, personal mismo napakadto ha iba-iba nga mga sektor hi Mayor Alfred para makipagkonsulta kun ano it buhaton para hit kaupayan hit syudad ngan mga molopyo hito," said Palencia.

Because of its positive impact to residents, especially to the working class, they said that most, if not all of the members of their respective organizations are also are in favor of the city's bid.

Mayor Romualdez is pushing for the reclassification of Tacloban on the ground that it would attract more investors that could translate into better services and programs for its people.

The mayor pointed out that under the law, the city has already met all the requirements which are 200,000 population and an annual income of P50 million. Tacloban has a population of more than 217, 000 with an annual income of more than P600 million.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had issued a proclamation on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. The proclamation officially takes effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite scheduled to be held on December 18 this year.

If the "Yes" vote wins in the coming plebiscite, Tacloban will become the region's first and the nations 34th HUC.




    
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