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JAN (15-26) 2009 TACLOBAN NEWS
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BREAKING NEWS / TACLOBAN REGION

>>> JAN (15-26) 2009 <<<

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Jan 26, 2009

Singapore-based hotel operator shows interest to run MacArthur Park Hotel

By Ahlette C. Reyes

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- A Singapore-based chain of hotels is eyeing the management of the now province-run MacArthur Park Beach Resort Hotel in Palo, Leyte.

Though the company is reportedly eager to come in and invest in the hotel, Leyte Gov. Carlos Jericho Petilla has refused to name the Singapore-based hotel, saying any shown interest for investment may be preempted.

The governor, however, revealed that initially, the company is willing to invest at least P300 million to upgrade the hotel's facilities with the long-term view of turning it into a five-star hotel at par with other hotels in neighboring regions.

Renovation costs and operation on the hotel are estimated to even reach more than the P300 million mark, the governor earlier said, but the P300 million the Singaporean chain of hotel is willing to invest can well be managed.

He said the things going for Leyte now are its natural and historical sites, business and leisure options, wonderful people and accessibility that it needs to at least maintain a hotel facility that could entice more guests to come.

The governor expressed optimism about Leyte as an alternative tourism destination, being a safe destination where people can relax.

Considered a landmark in the province, Gov. Petilla said, the historic MacArthur Park Hotel can offer it all if it has all the needed facility to better its services and lure more tourists with better options.

He added that with an interested investor now in the offing, these visions might materialize.

The governor intimated that once the hotel is improved and developed, the remaining vacant areas of the government center will not also remain idle as the provincial government of Leyte is set to implement certain development initiatives in the place to further improve the economic and business activities in the place.

A long-term plan is to turn the whole province-owned Government Center into an economic and leisure hub complete with a five-star hotel, a leisure park, an IT facility, government offices, commercial areas and public transport terminal.

To recall, the provincial government initiated the turn over of the hotel some years back before the Philippine Tourism Authority could declare it not to be earning enough revenue to continue operation.

The hotel has not seen that much improvements under the PTA then because, as with other PTA-run hotels in the country, requests for materials for the hotel was centralized and takes time before the request is fully catered to.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed the provincial government to take over the management and operations of a P100-million beach resort built by then First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos in the town of Palo, Leyte and sequestered by the government after the Edsa Revolution in 1986.

The 43-room MacArthur Park Beach Resort is considered among the two top hotels in Eastern Visayas. The other is Leyte Park Resort, which was also built by the widow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and government-sequestered but is now being managed by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), Assets Privatization Trust and provincial government.

The provincial government formally took hold of the MacArthur Park Hotel's operation this January 2009 and absorbed its entire staff.






Jan 26, 2009

New course to be added to Cristina's Learn and Earn Livelihood Program

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Another course will be added this year to the Cristina's Learn and Earn Livelihood Skills Program.

In a recent interview, City Councilor Cristina Gonzalez-Romualdez disclosed that as part of program expansion this 2009, she and program partners are looking into introducing one more course to the program.

The Cristina's Learn and Earn Program is jointly undertaken by Councilor Romualdez, Department of Education-Alternative Learning System (DepEd-ALS), and the City Government of Tacloban headed by Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

The program aims to arm interested individuals, primarily women and out-of-school youths (OSY), with the necessary livelihood skills for them to earn extra income for themselves and their families. Since last year, more than 500 persons, mostly women, have undergone livelihood skills training under the program.

According to Councilor Romualdez, the new course to be introduced soon to complement the existing courses is reflexology. Currently, the program offers cosmetology, food processing, and dressmaking courses.

Reflexology is an ancient Chinese technique in which specific pressure points (usually on the feet, but also on the hands and ears) are massaged in order to re-establish the flow of energy throughout the body.

"The launching date, venue of the training, and duration of the new course is still being discussed. There is still no final decision. But we are working for the introduction of the reflexology course the earliest possible time this year," Councilor Romualdez said.

The lady councilor stressed that the new course would not be solely open to women.

"Not only women, but also men could register and enroll in the new course," Councilor Romualdez pointed out.

"Given the skills they will learn and the popularity of reflexology, those who will graduate from such course will have a big opportunity to find jobs. Some can put up their own reflexology health business not only to earn but also provide jobs to others," she added.

Meantime, Councilor Romualdez congratulated yesterday 154 new graduates of the learn and earn cosmetology and food processing courses in commencement exercises held at the City Engineer's Gym.

The new graduates came from Brgy. Bagacay (25), V&G (26), Villa Dolina (18), Suhi (27), Upper Nula-Tula (27), and Lower Nula-Tula (31).






Jan 26, 2009

City gov't to construct
Women's Shelter

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The city government will construct this year a Women's Shelter to the tune of P5 million.

This was revealed by City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez.

The lady councilor, who is very active in women and gender issues, stressed that the construction of Women's Shelter for abused and battered women is long overdue.

"We have already city-run shelters that house street children and orphans like the Social Development Center for Children in Brgy. Tagpuro, and yet, we don't have any facility here where battered and abused women could temporarily stay," noted Councilor Romualdez, who disclosed that she had actively pushed for the project as chairwoman of the Committee on Women and Family at the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

Based on the plan, the proposed building would be a two-storey structure complete with amenities.

"It would be staffed by personnel from the CSWDO and big enough to accommodate 10 occupants," she pointed out.

For security reasons, the new building would be constructed near the Tacloban City Police Station, it was learned.

"Anytime this year, construction will start, and hopefully, before this year ends, it will be finished," the councilor said.

Meantime, Councilor Romualdez revealed that the city government will continue to implement this year the Ciudad Mahusay beautification program.

On Thursday, as part of said beautification program, she spearheaded the distribution of bougainvillea and kalipayan planting materials to officials in Brgy. 87 and 88.

"Our goal here is to make Tacloban City as one of the healthiest, cleanest and most beautiful cities in the country," she said.






Jan 24, 2009

City gov't to hire doctors to replace those who left

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The city government has to hire more doctors if it wants to provide better health services to its more than 200,000 people.

This was the call made by City Health Officer Doctor Jaime Opinion during a media forum admitting that low salary was the reason why two doctors of his office left the service last year.

"There are vacancies, yes, but no takers because of low salary. In fact, two of our doctors left last year to look for a better job opportunities," Opinion, speaking during the "Kapihan Ha PIA" media forum, yesterday said.

At present, there are only five doctors, including himself, who are providing medical services to Tacloban's 217,199 people, the city health officer said.

For them to comply the ratio of one doctor per 5,000 people, they need at least five more doctors.

But despite of the predicament, they are doing their best to serve the medical needs of the city's residents, Opinion assured.

He revealed that the two doctors who left the City Health Office were part of the 10 doctors from the other parts of the region who left the country to seek greener pasture abroad where they earned more than in the country.

"And mind you, those doctors who left the country to work abroad are not your ordinary doctors. All of them were specialists," Opinion said.

An ordinary doctor in the country earns P250,000 a year, Opinion said. "But if you work abroad, you can earn $75,000 to $100,000 a year," he said. At a current value of P47 to a dollar, this could be translated to P350,000 to P470,000 annually.

Opinion said that he had already discussed with Mayor Alfred Romualdez on the predicament his offices is facing. The mayor, he added, had vowed to look into this matter by raising salaries of doctors working with the city government.

Opinion, however, declined to say how much a doctor earns working in the city government except to say that what they received is relatively lower compared to those working abroad.

"But there is now a law which allow us to practice our profession after five p.m.," he said.

This way, their income is augmented.

"I myself is doing my practice after office hours," Opinion, a noted surgeon, said.

Asked if he has a plan to leave the public service, the city health officer answered in the negative.

"Perhaps, this is my calling to serve the public," Opinion said.

The city health office also noted that the budget of his office is not enough, saying that with a P6.2 million budget for this year, the city government has allocated P30 per individual of the city's more than 200,000 population.






Jan 23, 2009

DepEd: Region 8 now ready to host Palarong Pambansa

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The regional director for Eastern Visayas of the Department of Education said that the region is now ready to stage this year's Palarong Pambansa.

Repairs of the 40 classrooms from the 16 public schools, this city, which would be used for the billeting of the athletes and their coaches are now underway, DepEd Regional Director Sol Matugas said yesterday.

"It's all systems go for our hosting of this year's Palarong Pambansa. Repairs of the classrooms to be used by our athletes and their coaches are now under way. And we expect to finish the works by next month," she added.

President Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to attend the opening ceremonies on April 26 at the Leyte Sports Development Complex, the main venue of the sporting events.

However, the rehabilitation works of the more than 2 hectare sports complex is being hampered due to the incessant rains. "We really hope that our weather will improve so the work will continue without interruptions," Matugas said.

Yesterday, various members of the committees created for staging of the Palarong Pambansa had their meeting at the Governors' Hall of the provincial capitol.

The hosting of the summer national games return to Leyte, the main host, after 26 years since it was first held in Eastern Visayas.

All the 17 participating regions have confirmed their attendance with about 600 delegates from each region, Matugas said.

Students from the elementary and secondary schools all over the country would compete for honors with the points system as basis in awarding medals. Sixteen sports would be competed by the elementary students while 17 among high school students

According to the DepEd regional director, their central office has allocated about P10 million intended for repair works of the 40 classrooms that are to be converted as the billeting area of the participating athletes and coaches.

"We can assure all our athletes and their coaches that they will be comfortable during their one-week stay for the Palarong Pambansa," Matugas said.

She said that each of the delegates would be provided with sleeping beds with cushions. The rooms would also be provided with electric fans. "And our water district has assured us that there would be no problem of water supply," Matugas said.

Chief Supt. Abner Cabalquinto, police regional director, guaranteed that the one-week event would be orderly and peaceful, the regional education official added.

Meantime, Matugas said that the region's athletes should be inspired to do their best during the competitions, knowing that they would sure to enjoy complete homegrown support.

Eastern Visayas' performance during the annual summer events has been lackluster.

In last year's Palarong Pambansa held in Puerto Princesa, the region placed 15th in the elementary division while seventh in the secondary division.

"We are not aiming to become the champions of course. But we just hope that our young athletes will do their best so we can improve our (medal) standing," Matugas said.






Jan 23, 2009

Tribu Kabatok lands 6th place in Sinulog Festival

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- It was good enough that the city's pride dance group, the Tribu Kabatok, landed 6th place among the 27 contingents in the recently concluded Sinulog Festival 2009 in Cebu City.

According to Don Dolina, tribe director, this was the reaction of Mayor Alfred Romualdez immediately after it was confirmed by the Sinulog Foundation before the group returned home.

Dolina told Leyte Samar Daily Express that while still in Cebu Mayor Romualdez held a meeting with the Tribu Kabatok group where he announced that Tacloban will be joining in the popular Aliwan Festival in Manila sometime in May this year.

With this, Dolina said, the group now will start preparing all that are needed to further improve the performance of the dance group as it faces a new challenge, this time in Manila.

Tribu Kabatok was only organized months before the Fiesta of Tacloban in 2008, and it was made as the official dance group and entry during the city's newly-revived Sangyaw Festival, the official festival of Tacloban. New as it was, Tribu Kabatok emerged as champion in the Sangyaw Festival, beating Cebu's popular champion Lumad Basakanon. Having garnered that top award, Tribu Kabatok decided to join the Sinulog Festival this year.

As a new group, compared to the other contingents, Tribu Kabatok has yet a little exposure and experience in these cultural show competition that it is now on the process of "fine tuning" for the next competitions.

For this year's fiesta of Tacloban, Mayor Romualdez openly announced his invitation before the different contingents at the Abellana Sports Complex for them to join the forthcoming Sangyaw Festival on June 29 this year.






Jan 23, 2009

Garbage contractor admits lack of hauling trucks aggravates problem

By Allan Y. Amistoso

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The president of garbage contractor Gyanendra Corporation has admitted that there is actually a problem with their operation in the past few weeks.

Sammy Lim said that this problem happened because most of their garbage trucks have bogged down which hamper the collection of garbage in the entire city.

"We are doing our best to immediately get back to our normal operation, " he said. "Right now out of the 11 garbage truck which was turned over by the city government when the award was handed down to us, we only have seven garbage trucks that are in running condition now."

The problem mentioned by Lim was the frequent damage of the under chases of their garbage trucks because of very poor road condition going into the dump site at Brgy. Sto. Niño located in the northern part of the city.

"Pirmamenti nga nagkakaruruba iton mga mulye hit amon mga truck dara hit grabe nga karaot han aragian tisulod han labugan ha basura," Lim explained.

The problem on uncollected garbage has worsened during the holiday season until late last week for most of the garbage was seen in the side of the street and highways to include the subdivisions of the city.

The office of the Mayor has admitted that a lot of complaints were received by them which led to the decision of Mayor Alfred Romualdez to order the utilization of some government heavy equipment to assist Gyanendra Corporation in the collection of garbage.

It was learned that the four other garbage trucks are now totally bogged down and needed repairs.

Aside from the road condition, Lim pointed out other factors that contributed to this problem which is the very fast deterioration of the garbage truck flooring and walling because of acids produced by the garbage that was being hauled to the dumpsite.

With the limited trucks, Lim is hoping that their operation will become normal soon.

"Hopefully, in the next few days maibabalik na namon an normal nga pangulikta han mga basura," Lim said.

When asked if they have plans to buy their own garbage trucks, Lim said that they have plans of acquiring their own vehicles only that in the past years most of the their budget was consumed on the maintenance and operational expenses especially last year when the price of petroleum products soared high.

"Because of the expected increase of another 10 percent for the payment we are receiving from the city government, part of our priority is to buy new garbage trucks and hopefully by then, we can already minimize problem on garbage collection," Lim added.






Jan 23, 2009

City veterinary office executes 445 astray dogs last year

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- A total of 445 dogs were euthanized (executed) last year as a result of the city government's campaign against astray animals.

Dr. Eunice Alcantra, city veterinarian, said this is based on the summary report submitted to her by Dr. Johdel Ty, chief animal control and dog pound operations. As reflected in the 2008 summary report, 81 were voluntarily surrendered by the owners, 368 were caught in the filed, three were redeemed and one was adopted.

Alcantara said the lives of 445 dogs would not have been lost had their owners cared enough for their pets by keeping them safely so that they could not harm other people. The city veterinary office could not do otherwise, but euthanize them after the redemption period has lapsed.

She said to help dog owners care for their pets the city government has a continuing program of free anti-rabbies vaccination which is delivered to the different barangays on a routinary basis. In spite of this free program, there is still lack of support from the barangays and owners as only very few would submit their pets for vaccination.

To strengthen this campaign, the barangays will be required to pass a resolution to the veterinary office requesting for a conduct of vaccination and stating therein the number of dogs to be vaccinated on the scheduled date.

Alcantara reminded the public that a lot of dogs with disease could afflict people, reason why those animals should not be roaming around anywhere, and that owners should be responsible enough not only to their pets but to other people who are placed in a dangerous situation every time a dog goes astray.

In a related development, police records show that there is a high incidence of motorcycle accidents caused by astray dogs which suddenly crossed the streets or highways.






Jan 23, 2009

City Sports Office set to transfer to Astrodome

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Tacloban Physical Fitness and Sports Development Office (TPFSDO), otherwise known as the City Sports Office, will transfer this year to a new office building located inside the Tacloban City Convention Center (TCCC).

This was disclosed recently by City Sports Director Joel Bugho.

According to Bugho, preparations are underway for their eventual transfer to a new office inside the Tacloban Astrodome, as the TCCC is popularly known.

"Kahuman mahimuan hin program of work ngan maalukaran hin kaangayan nga budget, titikangan na it paghingayad hit usa nga "office space" ha astrodome, nga amo liwat it magigin bag-o nga opisina namon," Bugho said.

"Hopefully, by the middle of this year, we will now be in our new office," he added.

The TPFSDO, along with the City Coop, is currently housed inside a small building located beside the City Legislative Building.

"The building is too small for us to share," the city sports director pointed out.

The new office, according to Bugho, will allow them to function more effectively in promoting and spearheading sports development in the city.

"Apart from having a well-furnished and more spacious office, we will have room for our sports equipment," Bugho stressed. "We are very thankful to Mayor Alfred Romualdez and other city officials for supporting us in this endeavor."

Asked who will occupy or what will happen to their current office, Bugho revealed that the City Coop will take over the entire building once they left for another location.

"Ini nga bug-os nga opisina in magigin kanan City Coop na," he pointed out.






Jan 22, 2009

Tacloban police now into environmental protection

By Lemuel Pagliawan

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- As Tacloban has now been elevated into a higher level of local government classification, members of the Tacloban City Police office are also expanding their scope of responsibility, this time by rallying behind an advocacy for the environment.

Senior Inspector Analito Amoroto of the Tacloban City Police Office told Leyte Samar Daily Express in a recent brief interview that a task force composed mostly of policemen has been created lately, mainly geared towards protecting and maintaining the environment in this city.

Some city officials and employees of the city government also took part in the formation of this particular task force.

Amoroto said that Mayor Alfred Romualdez himself has been selected as the chairman of this task force while Tacloban Chief of Police Supt. Cleve Taboso was chosen as vice chairman.

Jonathan Hijada, the city environment and natural resources officer, was also given an important position in the task force, to better deliver its objectives.

Amoroto said Police Director General Jesus Versoza was among the signatories in the project plan that the task force has made wherein the country's top police official also gave his all-out support and even recommended the same for a pro-environment advocacy.

"We will try to implement the projects and programs that the task force plans to undertake as soon as possible as it will involve not only city government employees but also policemen of this city," Amoroto said.

Amoroto is confident that the objectives the task force has set will be met and that they will be sustained.

Amoroto said the environment has to be given special attention especially nowadays when climate change, global warming and other weather phenomenon are already affecting the localities in this country.

Amoroto said this task force was also formed to maintain the beauty and cleanliness in the entire city as it is now tagged as a highly urbanized city, which is the very first in Eastern Visayas region.






Jan 21, 2009

P90-M projects implemented by Tacloban City gov't in 2008

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- More than P90 million worth of infrastructure projects were implemented last year by the City Government of Tacloban under Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

These included 23 citywide projects constructed at a cost of around P56 million, according to the CGT 2008 Accomplishment Report.

Among major citywide projects implemented in 2008 were the P13-million Paseo de Legazpi-Abucay Road concreting project; roofing of Balyuan Amphitheater worth P10 million; concreting of baywalk; and improvement of Balyuan Park worth more than P4 million; Balyuan Park road concreting worth nearly P1 million; purchase and installation of traffic lights worth more than P13 million; construction of additional three-tiered tomb at Basper Cemetery at a cost of more than P3 million; and the construction of road network and old access road at the Sto. Niño dumpsite worth more than P1 million.

In the barangays, the city government was able to push through with the implementation of 23 infrastructure projects worth around P36 million.

Among the projects implemented in the barangays was the construction of drainage system in Brgy. 92 (Apitong) worth P345, 117; repair of CR and construction of drainage in Shopping Center, Rizal Avenue worth P628, 147; construction and rehabilitation of grouted riprap in Brgy. 100 (Scandinavian); road concreting (Utap-Abucay road) worth P1.5 million; rehabilitation of drainage system in Brgy. 86 (San Jose) worth nearly P1.5 million; and construction of drainage system in Brgy. 92 (Apitong) worth more than P3 million.

Also implemented was the construction of mini-gyms in Barangays 106 (Sto.Niño), 12 GE (Palanog), 60 (Sagkahan), 83-A (Burayan), 103 (Palanog), 107 (Sta. Elena), 105 (San Isidro), and 68 (Anibong) worth more than P16 million; construction of basketball court in Brgy. 48-A (Magallanes) worth nearly P1 million; road reblocking in Brgy. 110 (Utap), also worth nearly P1 million and repair/ rehabilitation of concrete stairways and drainage system in Brgy. 3 (Upper Nula-Tula) worth more than P12 million.






Jan 20, 2009

Four more traffic lights to be installed in Tacloban this year

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- At least four more main thoroughfares in the city would be lighted up with traffic signal lights this year.

City Planning and Development Officer Roland Hidalgo disclosed that the city government headed by Mayor Alfred Romualdez has allocated more than P2 million for the acquisition of an additional four traffic signal lights, which will be installed in strategic areas in this city.

"Once all things are in place, the project would be immediately implemented, being one of the priorities of the city government for 2009," Hidalgo said.

According to him, one of the traffic lights would be installed in front of the Leyte Lumber Yard at the corner of Salazar Street and Rizal Avenue . The said intersection is one of the busiest in the city, being the ingress and egress of public vehicles going in and out of the city proper.

The three other traffic lights, he said, would be installed at the corner of Salazar-Imelda-Avenida Veteranos streets; Artemio Mate Avenue ; and at Calanipawan.

The city planning officer stressed that he is optimistic that the traffic problem in the city would be further lessened once the new traffic lights will be in place.

"We are looking into an improved traffic situation with lesser congestion and accidents," he said.

Meantime, Hidalgo disclosed that the city government has lined up other multi-million projects for implementation this 2009.

Among those projects is the expansion of the runway and construction of a new terminal building at the DZR airport, construction of a new 50-bed hospital, fishport, P50 million economic enterprise building, P23 million police station, sub-station, and training facilities, 5-km circumferential road, Class 3-A slaughterhouse, regional wildlife refuge center and mini-zoo at Brgy. Salvacion, P20 million sanitary landfill at Brgy. Sto. Niño and a 4km coastal road project.






Jan 19, 2009

Tacloban's Sinulog Queen bet adjudged top winner

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

CEBU CITY -- Taking pride with the Taclobanons' finest cultural dance group, Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez proudly congratulated them for bagging a top award during the big night - the Sinulog Festival Queen ‘09.

With Tacloban's Sinulog Queen bet and lead dancer Loura Kim Corregidor, Tribu Kabatok bagged the Best in Performance number award during the night held at the Abellana Sports Complex here in the evening of January 16.

The 18 year-old Corregidor is a student of the University of the Philippines Visayas-Tacloban campus.

According to Mayor Romualdez, such overwhelmingly applauded dance performance was an indication that Tribu Kabatok has a very big chance to win a major award in the Sinulog Festival day on January 18.

Mayor Romualdez and wife City Councilor Cristina Romualdez, who were here in Cebu to personally give moral support to the group and witness the whole event as well, both said that they were proud of the group for garnering such title considering that the group was only a newly-created one and it was their first time to join the famous Sinulog Festival here.

The 23 contenders during the night, (mostly from cities in Cebu province and other cities from outside Cebu, also included the Karatong Festival of Dulag, Buyogan Festival of Abuyog, both from Leyte, and the Karasikas Festival of Borongan City of Eastern Samar.

Karatong Festival lead dancer and Sinulog Queen entry Arrianne Mae Briones got the First Runner-Up post in the major awards, and was also adjudged as the Best solo performer in the minor awards. Both Buyogan and Karasikas did not get any.

Tribu Kabatok's Tribe Director Don Dolina told Leyte Samar Daily Express that they have been preparing for this big event since Nov. 15 last year and that they had a rigid practice - choosing the best among the best performers - and put them together to be the Kabatok group for the Sinulog.

According to Dolina, all these would not have been possible without the support of the City government of Tacloban through Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

On January 18, under the free interpretation category, 24 different groups will try their luck for the grand title of the Sinulog and this includes the contingents from Tacloban, Dulag and Abuyog, all from Leyte, and Borongan City in Eastern Samar . Fifteen others are Sinulog-based and the rest would be puppeteers.






Jan 19, 2009

Leyte convention center to rise in Tacloban City

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Construction of a convention center by the provincial government is now underway.

Vice Governor Mimiette Bagulaya said that the convention center, a project that is expected to boost Leyte's tourism industry and its economy, has a budget of about P100 million, with P20 million already initially released.

"It is really a convention center on its true sense because it has no bleachers. It's really for convention purposes wherein a big number of people can be accommodated," the vice governor said.

The convention center, located at the Old Children's Park, has a projected seating capacity of more than 1,000, she added.

The construction of the said structure started more than a week ago and is expected to be finished before the year's end.

The construction of the convention center at the old site of the Children's Park became also imperative as the convention center located at the Leyte Academic Center in Palo was converted into a call center office by the APAC, a call center company which is to start its business operations in the province next month.

"We need to have a new convention center in lieu of the convention center at the Leyte Academic Center," the vice governor said.

Bagulaya said that she welcomes the construction of the convention center at the old site of the more than two-hectare Children's Park as it would boost both the tourism and economy of the province.

"We can now host a big gathering of more than a thousand people. In the past, we cannot afford to host a national convention because we don't have the facility. But with the construction of this convention center, we can now do that," she said.

This observation of the vice government has been raised earlier by Governor Jericho Petilla, who said that he has to turn down offers to host big gatherings due to lack of a facility.

At present, conventions with more than a thousand participants are either held at the Leyte Park Resort's convention center, Tacloban Convention Center or at the Kanhuraw Convention, the two owned by the city government.

While the Leyte Park Resort's convention center and the Kanhuraw Convention Center had been the venue of various conventions, it's not the same thing with that of the more than 4,500-seating capacity Tacloban Convention Center which had been for a concerts or basketball games.

With the construction of the convention center by the province, not only Leyte would have a big area for a convention but also would help boost its tourism industry and its economy, Bagulaya said.

"In fact, it's not only the provincial government of Leyte that will benefit the construction of the convention center but even Tacloban City," the vice governor said.

Tacloban, being a highly urbanized city, is no longer under the administrative control of the provincial government.






Jan 17, 2009

PNP launches 'Scubasurero' project

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) launched yesterday the environmental project ‘Scubasurero' at the Sahara Beach Resort, San Jose , this city.

PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa spearheaded said activity along with Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, PNP Regional Director Abner Cabalquinto, and Tacloban City Police Chief Romulo Cleve Taboso.

Mayor Romualdez, who delivered the welcome message, thanked the PNP for coming up with the project.

"This is a very laudable effort. I'm happy that PNP chose Tacloban City as part of this project," Mayor Romualdez said.

In his environmental message, Gen. Verzosa stressed that the police should not be only concerned with law enforcement, but also with protecting the environment.

"We have this project because we believe that the PNP should also be concerned with protecting and preserving the environment for future generations," Verzosa said.

"After all, the PNP is not only maka-Diyos, makabayan, and makatao-we are also maka-kalikasan," he pointed out.

Following his message, Verzosa inducted into office the officers of the newly-created Tacloban City Environmental Task Force headed by Mayor Romualdez himself as chairman.

Aside from Mayor Romualdez, also inducted as new officers and members of the task force were PSupt. Taboso, City Environment Officer Jonathan Hijada, City Human Resource Officer Teofila Brosas, Sr. Insp. Analito Amoroto of the Tacloban PCR, City Health Officer Jaime Opinion, City Agriculturist Alfredo Camposano, City General Services head Rudolph Mate, Adoracion Peregrino of the City DILG, SPO3 Salvador Malquisto, and the ten barangay chairmen from this city.

Verzosa, a certified SCUBA diver, led PNP diving teams from the PNP Maritime Group and other PNP units in cleaning the coastal waters nearby after the induction ceremony.

After the program, other participants, including barangay officials, and representatives coming from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Local Government Units (LGUs) in the region, then proceeded to clean-up the coastline of San Jose and nearby areas.

Also present during the launching were PNP ARD Rey Lañada, PNP Provincial Director Doroteo Palconit, Regional PCR chief Manuel Cubillo, and SSupt. Gil Hitosis.

The project is part of ‘Mamang Makakalikasan' Program of the PNP which was first launched in Kabayan Resort at San Juan , Batangas.

The project aims to heighten public awareness to global environmental concerns, particularly on environment protection.

Aside from coastal clean-up, PNP personnel also conduct tree planting and clean-up in rural areas as part of the project.






Jan 17, 2009

Region 8 mourns passing of a great civic leader, philantropist, businessman

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Region 8 buried yesterday Mr. Henry O. Yaokasin, who is known all over for his humanitarian works which he did silently without seeking any publicity or acknowledgement.

Henry Yaokasin, who until his death on January 6, 2009 at the age of 65, was the President of the Tacloban Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will long be remembered for the hundred of school buildings all over the Region which he helped build by facilitating school donations from the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

As one retired Leyte Schools Division Superintendent said, " Mr. Yaokasin gave Leyte no less than 289 school buildings during my stint."

Mr. Yaokasin's name is also synonymous to relief operations, be it simple typhoon-related calamity to enormous ones like the Ormoc Flood and the Guinsaugon tragedy.

In fact, Mr. Yaokasin facilitated the sponsorship of 34 orphans of Guinsaugon Mudslide Tragedy by the Dharma Drum Social Welfare Foundation of Taiwan. Thanks to Henry, sunshine was brought back in the lives of the orphaned youngsters of Guinsaugon.

Mr. Yaokasin was also instrumental in bringing in help to Guinsaugon at St. Bernard, Southern Leyte. Houses and schools for the New Guinsaugon site were built through Mr. Yaokasin's efforts and connections.

Mr. Yaokasin was member of the Board of Regents of the Leyte Normal University and has been conferred an honorary doctoral degree by the Eastern Visayas State University.

In the morning of January 16, Mr. Henry Yaokasin's mortal body was buried but the legacies he left behind will long be remembered not only by those whose lives he touched, but by the future generation whose lives were made more bearable because of Mr. Yaokasin.

Mr. Yaokasin left behind his wife Nancy and his 5 children, the eldest of who is Atty. Henry Yaokasin Jr.






Jan 16, 2009

Tribu Kabatuk of Tacloban City to perform in Sinulog Festival

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Tribu Kabatuk of Tacloban City will be among the scores of festival contingents from around the country that will participate in the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City this coming Jan. 18.

The 200-man contingent from this city led by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez and City Councilor Cristina Gonzales Romualdez left yesterday evening for Cebu City, according to festival coordinator Malou Tabao.

"Joining and competing in the festival would be a great opportunity to promote the city's rich cultural heritage, economic prospects, and tourism potentials," said Tabao, who pointed out that the city government has thrown its full support behind the contingent.

Tabao disclosed that Tribu Kabatuk, which won last year's Sangyaw Festival, will join and perform in the Sinulog Grand Parade as one of the 43 competing contingents from as far away as Lanao del Norte.

Other contestants include the Buyugon Festival of Abuyog and Karatong Festival of Dulag (Leyte); Eastern Samar State University (ESSU) Karakas performing Arts Guild (Eastern Samar); Pintaflores of San Carlos City, Jimalalud de Sinulog, of Sta. Catalina, and Bais City (Negros Oriental); Tribu Kamayu Marihatag of Surigao del Sur, Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe of Tangub City (Mindanao), and; and Lumad Basakon of Cebu; and Tawo-Tawo Festival of Bayawan City.

Also competing are contingents from Cabadbaran City, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte and Placer, Masbate.

The Sinulog is an annual festival held on the third Sunday of Jan. in Cebu City. The festival honors the child Jesus, known as the Santo Niño (Holy Child), patron of the City of Cebu.

The festival features a street parade with participants in bright-colored costumes dancing to the rhythm of drums, trumpets, and native gongs.

Recently, the festival has been promoted as a tourist attraction, with a contest featuring contingents from various parts of the country. The Sinulog Contest is usually held in the Cebu City Sports Complex.






Jan 16, 2009

PNP Chief Versoza to turnover 32 new vehicles to PRO-8

By Miriam Garcia Desacada

Leyte Samar Daily Express

PALO, Leyte -- Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Versoza will formally turnover this morning 32 new vehicles to Eastern Visayas as part of the continued P10-billion PNP modernization program.

Chief Supt. Abner Cabalqunito, police regional director, said that the program had been approved by Malacañang since last year aimed to boost the police in combating lawlessness and preserve peace and order in the countrysides.

Cabalquinto added that the fleet was given to Region 8 since the middle of last year consisting of 88 Hi Lux pickup, 16 motorcycles, two Toyota Altis and nine Innova. This include the 32 patrol cars that will be handed by Director General Versoza.

Senior Supt. Mario Cruz, chief of the logistics division, told Leyte Samar Daily Express that the Hi-Lux pick-up amount to P1.16 million while the Innova is worth P800 to P900 each and P16,100 each worth of single motorcycle.

Some of the patrol cars were already distributed to the different PNP provincial and municipal stations in the region identified as high risk areas in the insurgency and criminalities.

Cabalquinto said that he has been receiving this from the PNP national headquarters to hasten operational readiness and effectiveness in crime prevention and response being the main purpose of the modernization program.

Those new vehicles would be dispatched to remote towns and other police stations in the region that lack service vehicles, Supt. Cruz said.

Before the retirement of then PNP chief Avelino Razon, Jr. last year he said that the police needs about 500 more vehicles for its fleet in addition to the 8,000 vehicles the PNP already have.

The funds, he said, would be used not only for purchase of vehicles but also for firearms and establishing police stations.

He also said that the country needs 1,800 more police stations all over the country.

On his first official visit to the region today since he became the PNP chief Versoza will inaugurate the recently completed concreting of roads at the PNP regional headquarters in Camp Ruperto Kangleon Palo, Leyte.

The Philippine National Police has laid out a five-year program, the Integrated Transformation Program, to synchronize all the plans for future modernization of the PNP. These plans include the recruitment of more police officers, arming them and improving their equipment to deal with criminalities.

Cabalquinto said the distribution of new patrol cars to the PNP units all over the country would mean a focus on increasing manpower.

"As of now, the ratio of policeman to civilians is 1:1,100. Ideally, there should be one policeman per 500 people. We are targeting a ratio of at least 1:700 policeman to civilians, by the year 2012," it was stressed by the said police director.

Considering an annual increase of 2.3% in the Filipino population, by the year 2012 we expect that through the recruitment of 500 police personnel every year we will catch up with the disparity," he added.

The projected increase in the PNP's troop strength over the next four years is to be complemented by a corresponding modernization plan that will ensure that all the policemen have guns.

At present, only 70% to 80% of policemen have firearms, either one long (either shotgun or rifle) or a short (caliber pistol) firearm.

"By 2012, all policemen including those newly-recruited will have their issued firearms. The PNP still need P1.2 billion, up until 2012, to equip each policeman with one long and one short firearm," it was stressed.

The PNP is also aiming to increase its fleet of vehicles and procure forensics equipment.

Early last year the PNP just had the initial batch of 500 new patrol cars, utility vehicles and motorcycles added to the fleet of land vehicles which cost P1.2 billion. The PNP leadership is still eyeing equipment that would help improve investigation procedures such as an Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), which is expected to boost the capability of the PNP Crime Lab in forensic examinations of gun-related crimes, it wa also disclosed.

The Arroyo administration approved a P10-billion budget for the PNP's five-year modernization program. The PNP expects to utilize a total of P2 billion per year until 2012.

The PNP receives a total of P40.4 billion annually; P35.6 billion goes to the salaries of police personnel, P4.2 billion goes to monthly operational expenses, and P670 million goes to capital outlay.






Jan 15, 2009

Port reopens Cebu-Tacloban route

By G. C. Reyes, Jr.

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

ORMOC -- Completion of the roll on-roll off (ro-ro) port in Bogo City at the northern tip of Cebu island has reopened the sea route between Cebu and Leyte, prompting a bus company to expand operations and provide cheaper transport means between the two islands.

Vallacar Transit, Inc., operator of Ceres buses, has fielded three buses to serve the Cebu-Leyte route. These buses' final destinations in Leyte are Tacloban City and San Isidro town. These buses travel from Cebu City to Polambato in Bogo City, are loaded onto a ro-ro ferry bound for Palompon in Leyte, and travel to their final destinations in Leyte.

Romulo Reyes, operations manager of Vallacar Transit, said they were offering a cheaper alternative means of traveling between Cebu and Tacloban. Travel by bus is also shorter by 30-45 minutes in both routes, he added.

By interisland boat, a trip between Cebu and Tacloban costs at least P500, while a trip by bus in the same route costs P450. The Cebu-San Isidro bus trip costs only P300, while the same trip on a boat costs P330.

"If the feedback will be positive, we will be deploying more units in these routes," Mr. Reyes said.

The Palompon port was completed in 1998.




    
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