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May 31, 2010

E. Visayas gets €2-M aid

By Reyan L. Arinto

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The European Commission (EC) has allocated €2 million to a Food Security Fund for projects meant to raise agricultural, fisheries and forestry productivity in Eastern Visayas, a German aid official said in an interview yesterday.

Andreas Lange, chief adviser on local governance of the Environment and Rural Development Program of the German Agency for Technical Cooperation, said P64 million in counterpart funding for the project, titled "Enhancement of Food Security in the Visayas (EFOS)," will be provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office in Eastern Visayas.

Specific projects will get 90% of funding from the EC and DA contributions, while benefiting local governments will have to shoulder the remaining 10% either in cash or in kind.

"EFOS will support the implementation of identified priority projects and activities of the DA and local government units and communities geared towards food security. It will also build on the relevant experience of the DA and the GTZ in the region and with ongoing EC programs of similar nature," Mr. Lange said.

He added that the project also aims to improve local government land use and development planning in the two provinces on Leyte Island (Leyte and Southern Leyte), particularly in at least 15 rural municipalities there.

It also aims to raise the income of as many as 25,000 poor households through a cash-for-work scheme involving agricultural-, fisheries- and food security-relevant infrastructure.

"We [also] intend to increase the agricultural productivity and production of 10,000 low-income farm and fisherfolk households. Production risk mitigation through the introduction of para-metric and conventional crop insurance covering more than 5,000 farm households is [also] expected," Mr. Lange said.

Guidelines for the Food Security Fund issued by the GTZ and DA-8 showed the cash-for-work scheme covers rehabilitation of small-scale irrigation systems, as well as the establishment or rehabilitation of social infrastructure and conduct of environmental preservation activities.

Boosting agricultural productivity involves the establishment or rehabilitation of small-scale post harvest, value-adding and marketing facilities; promotion of productivity-enhancing technologies; and pushing submergence-tolerant and drought-resistant rice production.

"To ensure that the Food Security Fund (FSF) serves a large number of proponents, no more than two projects in each project category will be granted to one LGU. Per category, households can only profit once from the FSF," Mr. Lange said.






May 26, 2010

Regional fisheries chief
pushes tuna processing
in E. Visayas

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines



     Workers unload freshly caught tuna at the fish port of
   General Santos City, known as the "Tuna Capital" of the
          Philippines, in this photo taken last year. -- AFP



TACLOBAN CITY -- The Eastern Visayas office here of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is pushing for investments in tuna processing within the region, so that it can benefit from the abundant fish catch off its shores.

BFAR regional director Juan D. Albaladejo said at least 10 Mindanao-based fishing boats have been operating in the waters off Eastern Samar which have abundant tuna supply. "Since we started our monitoring last year, these 10 boats have already captured 20,000 metric tons of tuna in Eastern Samar. Fish operators have their big fishing vessels that we don't have here. Our local fishermen are being hired as workers," Mr. Albaladejo said in an interview yesterday.

Their catch is brought to either Manila or General Santos City for processing.

BFAR is now encouraging tuna processors in General Santos, currently considered the "tuna capital" of the country, to set up canning and other post-catch operations in Eastern Samar or in Tacloban City, Leyte, the capital city of Eastern Visayas. "It's high time to exploit the resources in Eastern Samar, but we want the catch to be processed within the region to boost the local economy," said Mr. Albaladejo.

Tuna fishing by locals in Eastern Samar has been minimal, with local fishermen using small motorboats to go out to the Pacific Ocean.

Jonathan O. Dickson, chief of BFAR's Capture Fisheries Technology Division, said Eastern Samar is a good fishing ground for tuna. "A fishing boat can catch up to seven tons of tuna in one day operation in Eastern Samar. Fishers can catch tuna within 15 kilometers from the shoreline," Mr. Dickson said.

Mr. Albaladejo said the implementation starting last January of the two-year ban on yellow-fin and big-eye tuna fishing by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which is being enforced by the Philippine government on local fishermen, should benefit the region. The ban has led to the suspension to tuna fishing in the high seas near Micronesia, Indonesia, Palau, and Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu in order to allow current stock to replenish.

The Philippine Fisheries Development Authority has allocated P300 million to establish a fish port in Tacloban City.






May 24, 2010

DOH issues dengue alert
as rainy season starts

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The health authorities re-issued a reminder for the public to take the necessary precaution against dengue especially with the rainy season due to start in two weeks.

The DOH reiterated the 4-S measures which the public must proactively observe in order to arm the public in the intensified fight against the mosquito-borne dengue disease.

The first is Search and destroy breeding places of dengue-causing mosquitoes such as old tires, coconut husks, roof gutters, discarded bottles, flower vases and other containers that can hold clean stagnant water.

The second is Self-protection measures such as wearing of long-sleeves shirts and long pants and using mosquito repellants during day time.

The third S according to DOH is to Seek early consultation when early sins such as fever and rashes set it.

The fourth S is Say no to indiscriminate fogging except for dengue outbreak.

All DOH-run hospitals all over the country now have Dengue Express Lanes for faster case management and treatment and where families and relatives can bring family members suspected of having dengue.

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever is an acute infectious viral disease usually affecting infants and young children. It is characterized by fever from 2 to 9 days, during the initial phase and other symptoms like headache, pain in the eye, joint pain, muscle pain, and other pain, followed by signs of bleeding such as petechiae (red tiny spots on the skin), nose bleeding and gum bleeding. Doctors advise that if there is blood in the stools and/blood in the vomitus and accompanied by shock, this is called Dengue Shock Syndrome and is often fatal.

Aedes Aegypti, the transmitter of the disease is a day-biting mosquito which lays eggs in clear water container, such as flower vases, cans, rain barrels, old rubber tires, etc. The adult mosquitoes rest in dark places of the house.

 





Join the Fight against the Dengue Fever!
DOH launches National Anti-Dengue Campaign





May 20, 2010

Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival tradition goes on

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The organizers of the Pintados- Kasadyaan twin festivals which remain as one of the most awaited event in the forthcoming feast of the Patron of Leyte, Senor Santo Nino, gave the assurance that the same will be staged again this year.

Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla gave the assurance to the public that can again expect the staging and that the provincial government of Leyte will continue to support the twin festivals as they have already become a tradition in Leyte, the Pintados Festival now in its 24th year and the Kasadyaan now in its 15th year.

The organizers led by Palo Mayor-elect Remedios L. Petilla informed that preparations are now being made for this event and they enjoin the public to give their usual involvement and cooperation to make the Pintados-Kasadyaan live on.

Various committees have been created in order to ensure that all the activities are given focus.

The Executive committee for this year?s Pintados Kasadyaan is composed of Hon. Remedios Petilla and Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla as chair and co-chair; PA Cynthia Nierras, Cong. Bembem Noel, Cong. Neil Montejo, Mr. Eugene Tan, Dr. Evelyn Cruzada and Dir. Karina Rosa Tiopes as members.

Also included as Special members of the Executive Committee are, His Excellency Archbishop Jose Palma of the Archdiocese of Palo and this year?s Hermano Mayor, the Agaton Family.

The Technical Working Group is chaired by Mr. Antonio Cinco; the Finance Committee is chaired by Tanauan Mayor Roque A. Tiu; the Committee on Invitation chair is Ms. Evelia Martin and the Publicity Committee is chaired by PIA Region 8 Director Olive Tiu.

The other committee chairs are Hon. Neil Glova for the Documentation, Publicity, Postering and Streamers Committee; Mr. Antonio Cinco and Mr. Eugene Tan for the Festival Parade; and Mr. Antonio Chan for the General and Technical Services Committee.

Also included as committee chairs are Mayor Roque Tiu for Subiran Regatta water sports; Police Chief Supt. Rey L. Laquihon for Traffic and Security; Mr. Rodolfo Badiable for Transportation; RED Leo Caneda for Agri-Trade, Science and Technology Fair; Dir. Desiderio Belas for Trade Fair; Mrs. Aurora Villarente and Mayor Loreto Yu for Nightly Activities; Ms. Ludette Ruiz and Ms. Joyce Alegre for Heritage, Culture and Tourism; Dr. Evelyn Cruzada for Tokens, Protocol and Reception; Ms. Evelia Martin for Diplomatic Corp and Engr. Robert Lugnasin for Physical Arrangement.






May 19, 2010

BFAR to build feed mill in Tacloban; mariculture zones expected to benefit

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The government will spend P25 million to build a feed mill to boost production in mariculture zones in Eastern Visayas.

The facility, which will be the first in the region, will rise within the regional complex of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Barangay Diit in this city, said BFAR Regional Director Juan D. Albaladejo.

"We will employ a new feed production technology coming from Denmark," he said. Construction of the facility will start early next year.

Mr. Albaladejo said the facility will meet the growing demand for aqua feeds in existing mariculture zones. The feed mill will have the capacity to produce three metric tons of feeds every hour.

There are nearly 6,000 hectares of mariculture parks with about 500 fish cages worth over P200 million in the region. The mariculture zones are located in Calbayog City in Basey and Sta. Rita both in Samar; Tacloban City, Ormoc City, Leyte, Babatngon and Merida in Leyte; Biliran and Naval in Biliran; San Jose and Laoang in Northern Samar; Liloan in Southern Leyte and Quinapondan in Eastern Samar.

"Operators are having a problem with buying feeds because there's no local producer. There's an added transport cost," Mr. Albaladejo said.

Excess fish catch in the region that are spoiled may be used as raw materials for the feed mill.

"Because of lack of storage and cooling facilities in Northern Samar, some of the fish catch has been wasted. Those are good raw materials for the feed mill," Mr. Albaladejo told BusinessWorld.

Root crops can also be a source of raw materials. A laboratory was recently established to process crops into powder for aqua feed processing.

For cassava alone, about 80% of cassava production in the country is used by feed millers as ingredients for animals and aqua feeds.

One of the highlights of the project is the use of containers for easy transferring for future expansion and changes, Mr. Albaladejo said.

The BFAR office here in Region 8 has been promoting mariculture zones since 2003.

The mariculture areas are designed to produce fishes through sea cage culture such as bangus, siganid, grouper, red snapper, seaweed farming, aquasilviculture, mussel culture, oyster culture, sea-ranching of lobsters and sea horses in coral reefs and sea grass areas.

Each mariculture zone or park is a contiguous area measuring from 100 hectares to 400 hectares or more encompassing the coastal waters of several barangays. It is run by groups chaired by local government units in partnership with BFAR.






May 19, 2010

Voters splurge with money from bets

By Joey A. Gabieta

Inquirer.net - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- A resident from Isabel town in Leyte is splurging on new home decor and kitchen utensils using the windfall she got during the recently concluded elections.

"I received the money from our politicians," 40-year-old Ramoncita Asan said on Wednesday.

Interviewed while she was on her way out of a store where she bought the items, Asan admitted that she collected more than P1,000 from candidates running for various positions in her town.

Asan, a resident of Barangay Sabang Marbel in Isabel, was just one of the voters who enjoyed the "generosity" of candidates who ran during the May 10 elections.

A school owner, who once held a top position at the regional office of the Department of Education, disclosed that a woman who enrolled her child at the school paid for tuition with several P500 bills stuck to a piece of paper bearing the name of a congressional candidate from Samar on them.

"She did not even bother to remove the name of the candidate pasted on the money," the former Department of Education official said with a laugh.

While candidates called the money that they gave to voters as "goodwill money," the Commission on Elections (Comelec) called the act pure and simple vote buying.

Lawyer Jose Nick Mendros, regional director of the Comelec, admitted that vote buying was rampant and done openly by some candidates and their supporters in the May 10 elections.

However, Mendros said the Comelec could not do anything about the practice unless the individual who received the money would report to the commission.

"But then again, will the person who received the money do that?" he said.

Vote buying is an election offense according to Comelec rules, but the commission has yet to prosecute a single candidate for vote buying.

In Eastern Visayas, practically all local candidates who ran in the May 10 elections resorted to vote buying, paying off voters amounts ranging from as low as P20 to as high as P10,000, depending on the positions they were aspiring for.

On the eve and on the day of the elections, several people could be seen in the streets, waiting for "goodwill money" from candidates.

A source told Inquirer that in a town in Eastern Samar, thousands of registered voters found themselves awash with money on Election Day.

The same source disclosed that a mayoral candidate dangled P10,000 for each voter.

"Some of them even received more than P10,000 as they also received money from the other camp," according to the same source, who asked not to be named.

Massive vote buying was also noted in one town in Leyte where the amount ranged from P2,500 up to P5,000.

Tacloban City voters also had their share of the bounty from candidates.

Cynthia Nierras, presidential assistant for Eastern Visayas, expressed her dismay over the practice of buying votes.

But she appeared resigned to the practice, saying that vote buying has become pervasive.

"The candidates claim that it's their way of sharing their blessings. Of course, it's not actually true and I don't approve of it," Nierras said.

But she admitted that the money collected by the people helped the local economy.

"There is circulation of the money. People go out and spend the money they received from the candidates. Our stores are filled with people days after the elections," according to Nierras, former regional director of the Department of Trade and Industry.






May 18, 2010

May 10 elections fortify Leyte guv hold on local politics

Philippine Information Agency




Tacloban City -- Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho L. Petilla has fortified further his dominance in the local politics during the May 10 elections.

Not only did he run unopposed, his allies also won all the Sangguniang Panlalawigan slots in the five districts of Leyte.

His allies also won in most of the 40 municipalities in Leyte. These and the fact that his innovative programs and projects for the province are the exact response to the needs of the people in Leyte, make Governor Petilla the man to beat in the local political arena.

For one thing, Governor Petilla goes around the province to get the pulse of the people and to know the felt need of the constituents. He is a leader who listens to the voice of the people, thus, empowering them to get a good grasp not only of what their issues are but also to be in control on what they could do about the issue. What they could not do on their own, the provincial government will complement.

During the last elections, Governor Petilla was unopposed. While other candidates would have just down with the knowledge that they will anyway win, Governor Petilla continued to go around the province not only to help his allies but to continue to serve the people.

Governor Petilla is truly a new breed of government leader. His no-nonsense style and business savvy make him stand out among politicians and business leaders alike.

The last election was a battle over political supremacy in Leyte. Gauging from the results of the first ever automated election, one would surmise to say that Governor Petilla has fortified further his stature in the political arena in Leyte.






May 12, 2010

RLC to open 3 hotels in provinces in 3 years

By James A. Loyola

Manila Bulletin

Robinsons Land Corporation plans to open more budget travelers' hotels in Tacloban, Dumaguete, and Palawan over the next three years as it aims to open at least one in each of sister company Cebu Pacific Air's 33 local destinations.

In a press briefing yesterday, GoHotels head Elizabeth Gregorio said they are officially opening the first of the budget hotel chain on May 19, 2010 along EDSA in Mandaluyong.

She said the Tacloban, Dumaguete, and Puerto Princesa branches of GoHotels will each have 80 to 100 rooms compared to the Mandaluyong branch which has 223 rooms.

GoHotels employs the same early booking rates that that has been behind the success of Cebu Pacific. Depending on the time and demand for rooms upon booking, travelers can get rooms for as low as P388 to as high as P3,000 a night.

The hotel aims to provide the same best accommodations and appointments for its price. All 223 rooms are outfitted with quality beds - 93 rooms have queen-sized beds, while there are 130 rooms with twin beds - chiropractic and fiberfill pillows, 100 percent cotton sheets, rain shower and handheld shower, free Wi-Fi Access, and LCD TV.

Because other amenities such as breakfast, parking and toiletries are offered as add-ons and are not automatically part of the room rate, GoHotels can offer extremely affordable rates.

"Businessmen who have to rush off to a meeting with no time to spare for breakfast can grab a meal to go at one of the nearby restaurants or convenience stores," Gregorio said.

She noted that the demand for budget hotels in the country is largely unmet adding that many transients just need a decent place to sleep and have no use for most of the amenities that big hotels offer.






May 12, 2010

Imelda Marcos relatives
among losers in Tacloban

By Joey A. Gabieta

Inquirer.net - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines --While the Marcoses in Ilocos Norte are celebrating their victory in the elections, the same mood could not be said of their kin in Tacloban.

This after Alfredo "Bejo" Romualdez, younger brother of former first lady and now elected congresswoman Imelda Marcos, was trounced by his lone rival for the position of vice mayor of Tacloban City.

Based on the official count of the city board of canvassers, the 76-year-old Bejo (Pwersa ng Masa) only obtained 35,321 votes against re-electionist Vice Mayor Jose Arvin Antoni (Liberal Party) who received 38,731 or a difference of 3,410 votes.

However, Bejo's son, Alfred, reelectionist Tacloban City mayor, and daughter-in-law, Cristina, have been proclaimed as winners Tuesday night. Alfred won by a landslide over his rival on his reelection bid for mayor of Tacloban with his wife, Cristina, landing in second places out of 38 candidates who sought for council seats.

Meanwhile, a neophyte, 25-year-old cross-dresser Jose Mario Bagulaya, also lost his bid for a council seat of Tacloban.

Bagulaya, who ran under the Liberal Party, got 20,815 votes and placed 12th among 38 candidates vying for a council seat.

Bagulaya, whose mother Mimiette is the reelected vice governor of Leyte, had wanted to break a gender barrier as he was an openly gay person who dresses like a woman. But during the campaign sorties, he wore pants and their campaign T-shirt.

In Ormoc City mayoral race, Eric Codilla garnered 37,661 votes, winning over rival Marcos Larrazabal who got 29,335 votes.






May 12, 2010

Robinsons plans
3 more budget hotels

By Jennifer B. Austria

Manila Standard Today

Robinsons Land Corp., the property unit of the Gokongwei group, plans to open three more budget hotels over the next three to five years to meet the increasing demand of domestic travelers.

Robinsons Land is building the three budget hotels, under the brand name Go Hotels, in Palawan, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental and Tacloban City, Leyte. The company will put up the hotels, each with a minimum of 180 rooms, beside Robinsons' shopping malls.

Go Hotels president Elizabeth Gregorio said in a press briefing Tuesday that the first Go Hotel would open on May 19 along Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong City.

The Go Hotel in Mandaluyong will offer 223 rooms for as low as P388 plus a night. The rooms will have free WiFi, LCD television, chiropractic and fiberfill pillows. Other amenities such as breakfast, parking and toiletries are offered as add-ons and are not automatically part of the room rate.

"We aim to be the best value hotel in its class," Gregorio said.

She said the pricing of room rates in Go Hotels would be similar to the budget airline model being practiced by Robinsons Land's sister company, Cebu Air Inc.

"The earlier you book your room, the lower your room rate. It's the budget airline pricing concept applied to the hotel industry. The price at which you'll get your room depends on time and demand, so one can easily get the same room for a lower rate just by finalizing his or her reservation considerably in advance," Gregorio said.

Travelers can make online reservations for a maximum of 10 nights for five rooms.

Robinsons Land operates four hotels in the country, namely Crowne Plaza Galleria and Holiday Inn Galleria in the Ortigas business district and the company-managed Cebu Midtown Hotel and Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay.






May 11, 2010

Partial tally shows Romualdez clan still strong in Leyte

By Sharon Evite

ABS CBN News - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- The Romualdez clan continues to dominate the political scene in Tacloban City and Leyte province based on the unofficial and partial count of the votes here.

As of posting, the canvassing of votes was ongoing at the City Legislative Office.

Based on the partial unofficial count, former President and Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino standard-bearer Joseph "Erap" Estrada is ahead of Liberal Party's Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III in the race for the presidency.

For the vice presidency, Estrada's running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay has the edge over Senator Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party.

For the local posts, the partial and unofficial count shows that the Romualdez clan continues to have a firm hold over Tacloban and Leyte.

The count shows that incumbent Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is in the lead in the congressional race in Leyte's 1st District with reelectionist Mayor Alfred Romualdez and his wife Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez also ahead of their rivals.

Lagging behind was Alfredo Bejo Romualdez with his rival, incumbent Vice Mayor Arvin Antoni ahead in the unofficial, partial count.

Poll officials said elections in Tacloban City were concluded successfully despite instances of malfunctioning Precinct Count Optical Scan machines and defective memory cards.






May 09, 2010

Agency says fish port plan risks being cancelled

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has warned that the proposed P300-million Tacloban fish port project might be cancelled if the city government here still fails to provide the project site.

BFAR regional director Juan D. Albaladejo said funds already earmarked for the project would revert back to National Government coffers if not used this year.

"We are done with the detailed feasibility study, but the city government still has to identify where to put the fish port to get the project going. Funds were allocated for 2009. If it won't be utilized this year, the money will be reverted to the Bureau of Treasury," Mr. Albaladejo said in an interview.

The city government earlier identified the old bus terminal in Barangay 37 as project site, but local officials were hesitant about clearing the area in the face of opposition from some groups.

The Department of Agriculture, through the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA), had targeted to kick off the project before the end of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's term on June 30.

The proposed facility was patterned after the fish port in General Santos City, with refrigeration facilities and processing plants to enable fishers to unload their catch, process and export the products.

The port is envisioned to attract investments like canning companies and fish mills, as well as boost the operation of mariculture zones in Eastern Visayas. Eastern Samar and Northern Samar seas have been supplying part of the requirements of tuna processing plants in General Santos City. "The building of the fish port is timely because of the dwindling tuna population in [sic] General Santos, which is known to be the country's tuna capital. Some GenSan commercial fishers have been going to Eastern Samar to meet their requirements," Mr. Albaladejo said.

Eastern Visayas lies in an area where migratory species like bluefin, yellowfin, and skipjack tuna may be found.




    
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