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Apr 22, 2009

No source of sufficient water supply in Tacloban City

By Miriam Garcia Desacada

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD) General Manager Nestor "Gang-Gang" Villasin yesterday warned the leadership of this city government that it cannot completely support the need for industrial and commercial purpose in providing supply of water to the continued increasing number of water concessionaires in the entire city relying on the source of water in the northern part of this city.

Thus, Villasin said in a news conference wherein he finally took an opportunity explaining to members of the local media its support and challenged to the concerned officials of the city government to further come up with more detailed studies where they could get enough source of water that could provide the need of water supply to the thousands of water concessionaires in the city.

The said top official of the province utility institution aired his answer to the earlier announced plans of Mayor Alfred Romualdez that his administration might create a water district if then the alleged bad water service of LMWD to the some parts of Tacloban will still continue.

"I've been saying since then.. that on the part of LMWD ... is always a welcome move for Mayor Romualdez... I mean... go ahead. What we need is a good water service to the people, if they can find out a big source of water in northern part of city that can accommodate consumer's need of water why not?" Villasin stressed.

Villasin however disclosed that recently a certain group came to his office wherein he even asked to study the Tigbao river if indeed the volume of water can supply enough the entire city of Tacloban, considering that the present source in Cabalawan cannot use for the targeted purpose.

"I told them to study Tigbao river, but basically they cannot use sources of water in that area as not suitable for commercial delivery of water service", Villasin told reporters.

What is a good news to more than 27,000 water concessionaires servicing by LMWD, a plan for expansion project of water source in Tingib Pastrana Leyte, to address the problem of the present water plant that is designed to only accommodate 12,000 to 13,000 water concessionaires.

"If the loan will be granted for this project targeting in 2010 to 2011 program implementation... well this could answer a future need of water down to localities", the LMWD GM said.

Villasin maintained his assurance that the LMWD having a good financial stability this time cannot implement any water rate increase, instead doubling its effort to respond the need of excellent water service to the consumers.

Meanwhile, Villasin on his part said that assuming if the city government their main purpose is to attack the LMWD management in able to discredit the credibility of the management, and the board of directors, they are more than willing to prove to them they are credible in the mane of public service.

"I hope this is not purely politics, yet it's always part of our corporate social responsibility to reach all concessionaires the good delivery of water service, but sometimes we cannot make it perfect some areas need to a major rehabilitation and every rehabilitation needs a big allocation for that matter" Villasin added.

Villasin who was appointed by the members of the board , wherein the Civil Service Commission denied his appointment, while his motion for reconsideration before the CSC still pending for another decision for that case.

Villasin also determined that the clamor of that there will be series of protest rally that will be conducted by the LMWD employees Union seeking for his ouster will definitely not succeed, unless he said if the members of the board will no longer appoint him as LMWD general manager.

"They cannot oust me from any rally I tell you, well that is unless the members of the board will be the one to dismiss me from the position," he added.

Apr 21, 2009

Singaporean investors to transform MacArthur Park Hotel into world class hotel

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla confirmed that the provincial government of Leyte has recently awarded a 25-year contract to the winning developer of the state-owned 43-room MacArthur Park Beach Resort Hotel at Palo, Leyte.

Governor Petilla said that the Singaporean conglomerate will start next month, the P300 Million renovation works of the said hotel.

The young governor said that several legal matters on the project are currently being checked in order to prevent problems that would delay the project from cropping up in the future.

The renovation is scheduled to be completed by October 2009, Governor Petilla disclosed. The investor will develop and take over the management of the hotel.

"I don't know what changes will be done inside the inn. The important thing is that they will invest P300 million for its improvement and development," Governor Petilla said.

The developer, a Singapore-based chain of hotels is the same investor that bought the ownership rights of the Mayon Imperial Hotel in Legaspi City in Albay, Governor Petilla informed.

Under the original plan, the investor will start on May 1 the demolition of the hotel building housed within the 4.9-hectare compound. This will however be moved later in the month of May because the province of Leyte is hosting the 2009 Palarong Pambansa and booking is full up to the second week of May.

MacArthur Park Beach Resort Hotel used to be managed by the Philippine Tourism Authority. On October 2, 2008, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Executive Order 756 directing the transfer of the management of the hotel to the Provincial Government of Leyte. Thus, in January of 2009, the province of Leyte took over.

The hotel operation has been losing way back to the years when PTA was managing it, Governor Petilla intimated.

"Currently, the government is subsidizing the hotel at a rate of P400,000 per month," he said.

The MacArthur Beach Resort and Hotel is situated along the historic Red Beach, landing site of General Douglas MacArthur and his liberation forces on October 20, 1944. The hotel is just few meters away from the MacArthur Landing Memorial in Palo, Leyte.

Apr 18, 2009

Crisis hits exports of Eastern Visayas

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

PALO, Leyte -- The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) VIII has confirmed that export products of the region have taken a hit from the global financial crisis.

NEDA Regional Director Buenaventura Go-Soco said lower demand in the world market has caused a dip in the prices of coconut and abaca, which are the region's top export products.

Based on the price monitoring of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), farm gate price of copra is now pegged at 10 to 12 pesos per kilo, while mill gate price is pegged at 17 to 18 pesos per kilo.

The price has drastically fallen from a high of 42 pesos per kilo at mill gate price or 25 pesos per kilo at farm gate price early January.

The NEDA projected that copra prices may still continue to dive in the next six months.

Prices of abaca dipped to 25 pesos per kilo from a high of 60 pesos per kilo early this year.

"There are other ways, however, from which affected famers can derive income, "Go-Soco said, citing inter-cropping as one alternative livelihood, as well as venturing into poultry or cattle industry.

Apr 17, 2009

All set for Palarong Pambansa 2009 in Leyte, Gov. Icot says

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- All is set for the Palarong Pambansa 2009 in Leyte, Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla said after listening to the report of the different committees for the national event.

All the facilities are in place. The swimming pool has been turned over to the Province by the contractor and the oval will be turned over soon.

Governor Petilla said that the City Government of Tacloban did not allow the use of the Tacloban City Convention Center for playing venues. The Sagkahan Gym was not also allowed to be used. However, other venues have been confirmed to be used instead of those which were not allowed to be used.

All the billeting schools are ready. In fact, some delegations or advance parties have already arrived. Director Matugas informed that the beddings and the cots for the delegations were taken cared of by the DepEd teachers and supervisors.

Regional delegations will come in groups starting April 17 up to April 23, DepEd secretariat informed. Governor Petilla said that the modest estimate of delegations overshot to twice as many.

The transportation committee is ready with vehicles for the delegations. Dir. Matugas added that Calbayog City Mayor Sarmiento is lending 4 buses while Biliran Congressman Chong is lending 8 buses for the Palaro.

During the meeting of the various committees for the Palaro which was held on April 17 at the Governor's Hall of the Leyte Provincial Capitol, it was learned that except for small concerns which could easily be answered, all the committees have made the necessary arrangements and coordination.

On the issue of water for use of the athletes who are billeted in different schools, Governor Petilla said that the Province will borrow fire trucks from the municipalities and will facilitate the use of extra receptacles or tanks for the different billeting areas.

One of the concerns raised was that of security and traffic. The traffic flow plan was presented by PNP Leyte Provincial Director Palconit and suggestions were given by Governor Petilla as to the parking area for the buses bringing the delegates to the venues.

Colonel Cleve Taboso informed the audience on the traffic rerouting especially during the Opening Program on the 28th of April. Col. Taboso also agreed in principle that he will facilitate for the issuance of permit for the Parade of athletes.

Governor Petilla called on all the people to support and cooperate so that the hosting of the Palaro will be a successful one. He disclosed the report that a group is planning to go from one delegation to another to supply negative ideas on the Palaro.

He added that a certain group is allegedly putting up a Palaro website where negative items will be featured.

These could be countered by making people know about the positive things on the Palaro, the good Governor said.

Apr 17, 2009

Alleged suicide of Trina Failon baffle people in Tacloban City

By Joey A. Gabieta & Miriam G. Desacada

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The tragedy that befell to the wife of popular radio and television broadcaster Ted Failon has shocked people of this city.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez said that he was sad that such a tragedy happened to the family of his one time political rival.

Failon's wife, Trinidad, is now in critical condition at the New Era Hospital after an alleged suicide attempt last Wednesday morning at their residence in a plush subdivision in Quezon City.

She traces her roots to this city where his grandfather, Filomino Arteche, was once a mayor. The family affectionately called Trinidad as "Trina."

Mayor Romualdez expressed hope that Failon's wife would survive.

He urged the Philippine National Police for speedy investigation so that justice could be given to the victim.

"Well, hindi lang na the wife of Failon is a Leyteña and Ted Failon is also from Leyte but being a victim experts and authorities in the investigation should focus attention to her. May batas tayo na sinusunod so let's leave this to the authorities

Kung ano man ang lalabasan ng kanilang imbestigasyon. They should find out if Mrs. Failon is capable of committing suicide," Romualdez told Express.

"Nalulungkot ako sa nangyari. I hope this will be resolved immediately and justice should be served," he added.

Ted Failon, her husband, defeated Romualdez in the 2001 congressional elections representing Leyte's First District. He, however, did not seek for reelection in the 2004 elections as he opted to return to media work as a radio and television talent of ABS-CBN.

Any help that he could provide, if asked by the family, would be extended by him and his office, Romualdez added.

Failon's family and relatives living in the city declined to answer in media interviews.

But a sister of Trinidad said that they were in "complete shock" when they learned about the shooting incident.

"We are still in complete shock. We don't have any idea how it happened and why it happened," Trinidad's elder sister, who asked not to be identified, said.

She said that they learned about the incident through another sister. She added that they learned other information regarding the incident through television news. She, however, declined to talk further about the incident.

Trinidad's aunt, Bernardita Valenzuela, also expressed her shock on the alleged suicide attempt of her niece.

Valenzuela, who now works as an executive assistant of Mayor Romualdez, said that she does not believe that Ted Failon, her hushand, has a direct responsibility on this incident.

"I don't believe that he would be suspected of such wrong doing. I pray that he will have strength to carry on and defend (his) name," Valenzuela said.

Radio stations in the city, DyVL and DYDW, discussed the issue at length yesterday during their various radio programs. Francesca Custodio, radio station manager of DyVL, expressed hope that Trinidad can overcome the tragedy.

Reporters in the city also discussed the matter, giving their own opinion and "angles" about it.

Ted Failon started his broadcasting career here in the city at the now defunct DyMM which is owned by the Romualdez family.

Sofia Garcia, 39, said that she was also shocked when she learned about the incident involving her "favorite" television personality.

"And I don't think that he should be blamed to what happened to his wife. "That is unfair," she said.

Newspapers and tabloids carrying the story were immediately sold at various newsstands in the city, as people of this city are eager to know about the news.

A police officer, who declined to be identified, wondered on the findings that the crime scene was cleaned up.

"Why they have to do that? It could weaken their defense," the police officer, reading the news article about the incident, said.

Earlier reports circulated that Ted Failon intends to run for mayor against Mayor Romualdez in the 2010 elections, but other reports said he is planning to run for senator under the opposition banner.

Apr 17, 2009

Singaporean investor to proceed renovation of MacArthur Park Hotel

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Singaporean conglomerate will proceed next month with the P300 million renovation of the MacArthur Park Beach Resort Hotel in Palo, Leyte, said Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla.

This after the provincial government recently awarded the 25-year contract to the winning developer of the state-owned 43-room hotel.

Petilla said that they are currently checking some legal matters of the project to evade problems in the future that would delay the project.

"The investor will develop the inn and take over the management. They told me that they will complete the renovation by October this year. I don't know what will be the changes inside the inn. The important thing is that they will invest P300 million," Petilla told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

The official said that the Singapore-based chain of hotels is the same investor that bought the ownership rights to the Mayon Imperial Hotel in Legazpi City, Albay.

"We will make sure that they will finish the project and transform the hotel into world class," he added.

Under the original plan, the investor will demolish starting May 1 the building housed within the 4.9-hectare compound but it will be moved later of the month as the province hosts the 2009 Palarong Pambansa. Bookings are full until the second week of May.

"That maybe delayed because of the national athletic event but it should be within the month," Petilla said.

The management of the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) surfaced after the issuance of Executive Order 756 on October 2, 2008 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that lends authority to transfer the hotel's management from the PTA to the provincial LGU.

The order took effect January 2009.

Petilla revealed that its operation has been losing even back in the years when the PTA was running. "Currently, the government is subsidizing the hotel at a rate of P400,000 a month."

It can be recalled that the provincial government initiated the turnover of the hotel some years back before the PTA could declare it not to be earning enough revenue to continue operation.

The hotel has not seen that much improvements under the PTA then considering that requests for materials for the hotel was centralized and takes time before the national government can respond.

The MacArthur Beach Resort and Hotel was 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 property is situated along the historic Red Beach, landing site of General Douglas MacArthur and his liberation forces on October 20, 1944. The hotel is just few meters away from the MacArthur Landing Memorial in Palo, Leyte.

Hotel rooms are all decorated with native materials and MacArthur pictures. It has picnic grounds, swimming pools, picnic tents and tables, beach kiosks, volleyball ground and indoor games facilities.

Petilla said that the improvement of the hotel will pave the way for the development of the remaining vacant areas of the Government Center. A long-term plan is to turn the province-owned lot 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.

Apr 17, 2009

Mayor Romualdez welcomes move to add new congressional districts

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The proposal to add new congressional members in the country get full support from Mayor Alfred Romualdez who said that Tacloban should be exempted from qualifications in creating a new congressional district.

The city mayor was reacting to moves by some congressmen to increase to 350 the current 250 congressional seats. The proposal to increase the number of the country's congressmen is contained under a proposed bill filed by House Speaker Prospero Nograles who cited increase number of population as his main reason for additional congressional districts.

"I am for it, especially in the case of Tacloban," Mayor Romualdez said.

Tacloban's new classification as a highly urbanized city make it imperative for it to have its own congressional representative, he stressed.

"The population requirement should not be an issue in our case. Tacloban being an HUC should be enough reason for it to have its own congressman," Romualdez said.

Under the Constitution, a congressional district could be created if it has a combined population of 250,000 residents.

At present, Tacloban has only 217,199 population which fall short to the constitutional requirement.

Almost all HUCs in the country have their own congressional representative with the exception of Puerto Princesa which attained its new classification just recently.

But the city mayor insisted that this particular requirement should be waived by Congress once it decide to create new congressional districts as Tacloban would be deprived of having no congressman of its own considering its status as a highly urbanized city.

Tacloban became an HUC when more than 85 percent of its registered voters favored for its reclassification from being a component city of the province during last December's plebiscite.

At present, Tacloban is still part of Leyte's first congressional district which also covers the towns of Palo, Babatngon, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Tanauan, Tolosa and Alangalang.

Asked if his stand to create a congressional district for Tacloban has something to do with his future political plans, Romualdez denied this.

He said that he is more interested to possibly finish the three-year terms available for the said position than set his goal of becoming a congressman, a post he once held. Romualdez is just on his first term in office as mayor of this city.

His cousin, Ferdinand Martin, is the incumbent congressional representative of the district.

Meantime, Romualdez said that he would make sure that all his visions for Tacloban as an HUC would be attained during his watch.

Among those visions is to make Tacloban among the most competitive cities in the country in terms of business and employment opportunities and tourist havens.

Apr 17, 2009

Tacloban tightens rules on hotels

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The city government here will issue and renew business permits only of hotels that are accredited with the Tourism department.

City tourism officer Jake Ligan said only three hotels in the city, so far, have met the standards set by the Department of Tourism (DoT).

As of last March, there were 21 hotels, major inns, and pension houses in this city with a total of just 644 rooms.

"We are working out with other city departments to ensure that all investors in the hotel business will comply with (DoT) guidelines," Mr. Ligan said.

The city tourism office inspects local accommodation facilities every six months. Inspections were made early this year in preparation for the hosting of Palarong Pambansa this April 27-May 2.

"Accommodation is a common problem here because many of our hotels are small. With many visitors coming in, we have to grab the opportunity to improve our services," Mr. Ligan said in an interview.

The biggest facility in Tacloban now is the Leyte Park Hotel with 48 rooms in the main building as well as 52 cottages.

"Most of our new hotels are small with only 50 bedrooms at the average," Mr. Ligan said.

Tourism regional director Karina Rosa Tiopes said they have been having a hard time booking large groups for the national sports event and other big events held here. "It's really hard to get reservations. All hotels are fully booked and this will go on until May."

Apr 16, 2009

Preparations underway for Sangyaw Festival in June

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Preparations are underway for the holding of the Sangyaw Festival of Tacloban City from June 12-29 this year.

In an interview Tuesday, Events Coordinator Malou Tabao disclosed that the City Tourism Council and the Tacloban Sangyaw Foundation are already busy making preparations for the upcoming Festival.

"Series of meetings have already been conducted to finalize plans for a series of activities to be held in connection with the celebration," Tabao disclosed.

Among the activities that will be held as part of the festival are Street Dancing Competition, Fluvial Parade, Search for Miss Tacloban, Little Miss Tacloban 2009, Balikbayan Night, concerts by local and Manila-based bands and other socio-cultural activities.

"Aside from that, the Balyuan Amphitheater and other possible venues have been improved in anticipation of the upcoming events," she added.

Tabao further stated that the City Government had already sent invitations to other cities, municipalities and provinces in the country to participate and compete in the Sangyaw Festival.

Among the places that have been invited to participate in the Festival are the municipality of Dulag (Leyte) province of Sorsogon; and the cities of Makati, Bais, Cadiz, Legazpi, Isabela (Basilan), Bacolod and Marikina.

"We are just awaiting their confirmation. I believe that more contingents from other parts of the country will join this year's festival," Tabao stressed.

Last year's celebration was participated in by Tribu Kabatuk and five cultural contingents from the cities of Cebu, Marikina, Makati, Isabela and Bacolod.

Started in 1974 and a brainchild of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, Sangyaw was revived last year by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez after being sidelined for more than 20 years.

Organizers headed by Councilor Romualdez are very optimistic that the activity will bring many benefits to the city this year in terms of increased tourist arrivals and more economic activities.

Apr 16, 2009

Leyte fishermen to get cash for rescuing lost sea turtles

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

TANAUAN, LEYTE -- Officials in this town in Leyte province are offering incentives to fishermen who would help endangered sea turtles.

Happy that residents are mindful of sea turtles that wash ashore or are caught in fishing nets, Tanauan town officials announced that they will be giving cash incentives to fishermen.

Tanauan Mayor Roque Tiu said that they will be giving P500 to fishermen to encourage them to return the turtles to their original habitat or surrender the rescued animals to proper authorities.

"The [fishermen] are aware that these sea creatures are becoming extinct and that they need to be preserved and protected," said Alex Tabuyan of the Bantay Dagat, a volunteer civiilian fisheries patrol tasked to monitor Philippine coastal waters up to 15 kilometers from shore.

He said it was important to protect the coastline from illegal fishers which could cause harm to the marine ecosystem.

Already, there have been 12 sea turtles of various species rescued at the town since last year.

Just this week, two sea turtles were rescued on separate occasions by fishermen in the area. Fisherman Roel Dupalo of Cabuynan village found a sea turtle measuring 25 inches long and about 25 inches wide, while another fisherman, Rolando Camero, rescued an Olive Ridley sea turtle measuring 18 inches long and about 16 inches wide.

Both turtles were safely returned to the ocean by Bantay Dagat volunteers, with the help of the local government.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), three of seven species of marine turtle are listed as critically endangered or endangered both on the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as well as the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species. This is because of widespread damage to turtle habitats as well as the killing and illegal trade of marine sea turtle species.

Apr 15, 2009

Water still a big problem in Tacloban City

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- They just said the truth and did not tell a lie, so said Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez, referring to the delegation from Ormoc City, in the recently concluded EVRAA meet here, who chanted in their vernacular "Tacloban wa'y tubig!" while leaving their billeting school - the Rizal Central School, after the sports competitions. The delegation apparently experienced inconvenience due to lack of water supply during their stay.

While Mayor Romualdez sympathize the situation of the athletes, he said he can only do so much because he has no control, nor the city government has a jurisdiction and control over the water supply or the water district itself in Tacloban.

Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD), a government owned and controlled corporation, is now managed by General Manager Nestor "Gang-Gang" Villasin, who is more inclined to follow the will of the provincial administration as the governor has the appointing authority over him or whoever will be seated as the general manager. LMWD is the sole water (district) provider based in this city.

According to Romualdez, water is the number one problem he considered in not hosting the Palarong Pambansa because this is number one necessity of the people especially that delegations will be coming from different places of the country who will mainly rely on the facilities of their respective billeting areas.

While it is the provincial government hosting these athletic competitions, who is supposed to take full responsibility of the facilities needed, especially water, the name Tacloban (and it goes with it the administration) is always being dragged into any inadequacy mainly because Tacloban is the venue.

Mayor Romualdez has said it repeatedly long before, that Tacloban is not yet ready to host the Palarong Pambansa this year due to lack of the needed facilities, but the provincial government and in tight partnership with the DepEd regional office 8 pushed it to happen and made Tacloban the venue.

Tacloban has long been suffering from poor water supply, especially in most northern barangays that has no connection at all. This is the reason, according to Romualdez, that his priority project now is to establish a city government owned water district to meet the demand of continuous water supply for the entire city up to the last barangay. This project, he said, would take some time, but he is starting it now in preparation for the growing city, not only in terms of population but also in business operations.

Apr 14, 2009

Redistricting seen to improve city's health services delivery

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The delivery of health services in the city is expected to become more efficient in the next few days as the redistricting plan is now underway.

Mel Tirso Maravilles, sentinel nurse of the City Health Office, revealed this adding that the redistricting plan is part of city's recent reclassification into a highly urbanized.

Maravilles said that under the redistricting plan, fully-equipped health stations would be put up in various major points in the city to help people on these areas gain easy access on health services.

Initially, the city sentinel nurse said, a health station would be established in Sagkahan area; San Jose district and in northern part of the city to cater residents in need of health and medical services.

"This redistricting plan was envisioned with the upgrading of Tacloban's classification as a highly urbanized city. This way, our people, especially the poor, would no longer come to our (main) office to seek medical or health services. All they have to do is visit their health station," Maravilles said.

The barangay health station would not only help the people save money but can be assured of a faster service, he added.

These planned health station would be manned with health personnel like a doctor and a nurse and would be provided with needed medical equipment and supplies, Maravilles added.

Aside from giving medicines on ordinary ailments, the health station can manage to undertake a minor surgery and even in the delivery of babies, Maravilles said.

He said that the program, initiated by the city health office and supported by Mayor Alfred Romualdez, is expected to be realized after the 90-day countdown is over.

The 90-day countdown refers to the preparatory period since Tacloban become an HUC December 18 of last year. Under this, offices would be upgraded and created and programs and projects identified would be introduced by the city government with the aim of improving its delivery of services, to include medical and health, to the people.

The redistricting plan is under the City Investment Planning for Health, Maravilles said.

He, however, could not say as to how much the city government has ear marked for this kind of program.

"But certainly this will cost millions of pesos. The construction alone of the health centers will easily cost millions of pesos as these will be fully equipped," Maravilles said.

It was learned from him that the pilot area for the establishment of a health station is in San Isidro, one of the villages of the city located on its northern part.

The health station in San Isidro, which is also known as Suhi, would cater about 18 villages with a combined populations of over 30,000 people.

Apr 13, 2009

Singaporean conglomerate gets go-ahead on MacArthur Park in Leyte

By Felix N. Codilla III

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

ORMOC CITY -- The provincial government has given a Singaporean conglomerate the go signal to work on MacArthur Park Beach Resort Hotel. The hotel was formerly run by Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) and turned over to the province in January by virtue of Executive Order No. 765 signed by President Arroyo.

The new operator is the same investor that bought the ownership rights to the Mayon Imperial Hotel in Legazpi City, Albay. The investor poured P350 million to transform Mayon Imperial into the five-star Mayon International Hotel.

For MacArthur Park, the investor will knock down the 43-room building on May 1 and give way to a new hotel on the site. The building occupies three hectares of the 4.9-hectare compound.

"The investors would have wanted to start operations sooner, but the province had to beg off for a later date since there were already some bookings for the hotel this summer," Gov. Carlos Jericho Petilla informed. "So we settled [with] them to start in May."

Petilla has already informed the hotel's staff of the development and assured them they would be a priority when it comes to hiring the staff to run the facility under the new management. All of the hotel's 50 regular and casual employees hired by the PTA were placed under the provincial government.

Named after the American general who helped liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupational forces in World War II, MacArthur Park is one of the top two hotels in Region 8, the other one being Leyte Park Resort. MacArthur Park has been losing money in the past few years at a rate of P500,000 a month, according to estimates.

Apart from the hotel, the maintenance of nearby MacArthur Landing Memorial and National Park was turned over to Leyte's provincial government.

Apr 07, 2009

Southern Leytenos shine in idol talent search

By Bong Pedalino

Philippine Information Agency

Southern Leyte -- Two new singing sensation coming from this province were discovered late last month when they emerged victorious in a rigorous regional competition that featured the cream of the crop in the latest harvest of promising singers.

The overflowing crowd inside the Leyte National High School Gym in Tacloban City literally roes to their feet in excited frenzy in the evening of March 28 when Brian Gilles, 24 years old, from Padre Burgos town, was proclaimed Grand Champion of the Leyte IDOL, fourth season.

IDOL stands for Icot's Dream of Leyte, an initiative of Leyte Gov. Jerichol "Icot" Petilla, even as the title itself was a spin off from the popular US show "American Idol."

Incidentally, it was in this year's season, the fourth, when the competition was opened for the first time to potential contestant-artists outside Leyte province, this time to include other places of Region 8, Leyte and Samar islands.

As this season's top winner besting seven other finalists, Gilles, 24 years old, got P150,000 cash prize plus a laptop worth P50,000 presented by Gov. Petilla and his mother, Remedios "Matin" Petilla, former Leyte Governor herself and First District Lawmaker, now vice-President of PAGCOR.

And when it rains, it pours, for Gilles's triumph had a sequel in Natasha Mae Resos of Maasin City, who bagged the second place with P75,000 in cash and a laptop worth P25,000.

Third placer was Jefferson Cabatana of Tacloban City who went home with P50,000 cash prize.

The other five finalists received P20,000 each as consolation prize. They included Jeffrey Callosa of Palo, Leyte; Leigh Ann Arcales of Catbalogan, Samar; Aprille Joy Campanero of Giporlos, Eastern Samar; Ibona Panto of Ormoc City ; and Janine Faith Tiempo of Tacloban City.

Meanwhile, in the band category -- another first in this season's Icot IDOL Search -- two local, homegrown bands from Maasin City, Genecity and yawtakis, landed in the second and third spots, and brought home the bacon worth P100,000 and P50,000, respectively.

Bripny Skwr of Tacloban City topped the other seven finalists and pocketed the grand prize of P200,000.

It was two-for-two for Southern Leyte in one full sweep of a prestigious musical event and on-stage talent search, two for individual singers and another two for competition by group.

Fair enough for a province that has been associated with earth-moving disasters in this decade.

Soon, in the near or far future, Southern Leyte shall be known as the breeding ground of high-caliber performing artists, many thanks to a vehicle called Icot IDOL Search, through which their talents were shown, discovered, and well appreciated.

Mar 07, 2009

Water truck slams into house in Tacloban

By Jenette Fariola-Ruedas

ABS CBN News - Philippines

A Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD) truck rammed into a house in Utap in Tacloban City at about 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The truck was reportedly travelling along a diversion road when it purportedly hit the house accidentally, almost killing a sleeping child inside the residence. Alarmed by the loud crash, a neighbor, Joel Bello, said that he immediately went inside the house to rescue the child, who was unhurt in the incident.

The house and their small store at the front, however, were totally damaged.

The truck driver, reportedly, hurriedly fled the scene.

Elena Orosa, mother of the owner of the house, said the family is demanding that the LMWD pay them damages for the repair of their wrecked house.

Tacloban police are investigating the event and are now reportedly on the hunt for the truck driver.

Apr 05, 2009

Transport strike failure shows majority still upholds rule of law

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- At this time when the whole world is bracing from the effects of the global economic meltdown, any transport strike is doomed to fail.

The fizzling of the transport strike on Friday is a clear manifestation that the majority still uphold the rule of law. There are other peaceful legal means of showing their sentiments other than resorting to strike which will put the drivers and the commuters to the disadvantage.

The strike was planned in protest of the Department of Transportation and Communication's Order 2008-039 which provided for the hiking of penalties for various traffic violations. The planned strike, however, failed to get the support of the other transport groups, thus, it was not even noticed by the public.

DOTC Order No. 2008-039 called for a new scheme in penalizing various traffic violators. Disregarding traffic signs would result to a fine of P5,277, an increase of P5,000 from the previous fine of P277 only.

Driving under the influence of drugs would mean a fine of P10,000 and automatic revocation of the driver's license. On the other hand, driving under the influence of liquor carries a fine of P5,000 with two months suspension of the person's driver's license.

The new DOTC Order also imposes higher penalties for other traffic violations such as driving without license, P1,500; driving with an expired license, P400; failure to carry a license, P200; possessing a fake driver's license, P2,000; conviction in a crime using a motor vehicle, P3,000; hiring unlicensed conductor of a motor vehicle for hire, P2,000.

A fine of P2,000 will be imposed on the driver for using a vehicle without the knowledge and consent of the owner.

The same fine will be imposed on a driver for operating or driving an unregistered or improperly registered vehicle. If the driver is also the owner of the subject motor vehicle, he will have to pay P4,000.

Violations in connection with plate numbers such as plate numbers not firmly attached to the vehicle will result to a fine of P200.fine; obscure plates, P200; license plates different from body number on public utility motor vehicle, P500; improper display of a permanent plate, P500; use of expired commemorative plates or stickers, P2,000; tampered plates or stickers, P2,000; and illegal transfer of number plates, tags or stickers from one vehicle to another, P10,000.

The non-use of seatbelt and illegal parking now carry a P1,000, P3,000 and P5,000 fine for the first, second, and third offenses, respectively.

The penalties have been hiked, indeed. But sometimes it entails the imposition of higher penalty for the drivers to follow the rules and to be careful as they are not only responsible for their lives but most especially they are responsible for the lives of their passengers.

Apr 02, 2009

Tax bureau watches 20 companies in Eastern Visayas

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

PALO, LEYTE -- The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has placed 20 businesses in Eastern Visayas under watch under its "Oplan Kandado" campaign.

BIR Commissioner Sixto S. Esquivias IV will be here today to lead the 2009 Tax Campaign Forum and launch of this nationwide program here in the region.

"Even before the launching, we in the region have been gathering relevant information to come up with a watchlist," said Benny Mari, head of the BIR regional tax assistance unit.

He said those in the watchlist were found to have understated their income by at least 30% to avoid paying the correct taxes. They have ignored warnings issued by the BIR regional office, he added. "They are aware of the consequence if they won't comply now that they are subjected to Oplan Kandado."

Under this campaign, the BIR physically padlocks erring business establishments.

He did not identify those on the watchlist, but said these were located in Tacloban City, Ormoc City, Catbalogan in Samar, Maasin City, Borongan in Eastern Samar, and Catarman in Northern Samar.

Under the campaign, business operations can be suspended or temporarily closed on grounds such as failure to issue receipts or invoices; failure to file a value added tax return; understating taxable sales or receipts by 30% or more; or failure to register the business.

Apr 02, 2009

Mayor Romualdez observes new re-routing scheme

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez personally observed and monitored early morning yesterday the re-routing of passenger vehicles coming from the south of the City like Palo, Tolosa, Tanauan, others diverting its route from the Boys Scout junction (Coca-cola) directly to the Abucay new bus terminal passing through the Maharlika highway instead of going to Real Street and on to the downtown proper.

The re-routing is part the administration's initiative in addressing the traffic congestion in the commercial district which have been the clamor of establishment owners whose fronts are being used as terminal of these passenger vehicles while soliciting and/or waiting for passengers thereby hampering their business operation in the process.

According to Romualdez, the re-routed vehicles are not totally prohibited from entering the city proper-saying that they can do so until 8 a.m. only, but beyond that time all of them must proceed to their designated area at Abucay or else they will be apprehended by the police officers and traffic enforcers.

This means that the concerned vehicles must leave early with their passengers from their respective point of origins- calculating their time of arrival to the city proper before the prohibited time. This way, according to the Mayor, all the employees working in the different government and private offices in the city, or those that has transactions in whatever office, aboard the vehicle could reach their respective destinations on time.

At 5 p.m. and onwards, which is in time for going home after office hours, those vehicles are again allowed to enter the city proper using the old route which is passing through Real Street to old road Sagkahan - Pampanggo- Burgos Streets to Sabang District and on to the exit passing through the new Abucay terminal.

The passengers coming from the south or those which are affected by the re-routing, have now the option to disembark at the Boy Scout junction and take another vehicle straight to downtown or just go directly to the terminal.

In a random and casual talks with several drivers plying San Jose and Marasbaras area, they said the idea is good because it would mean additional income for them once they could pick up the passengers that would drop at the junction going downtown. The same is true with those that would opt to drop at the Abucay terminal because they will be conveyed by the multicabs plying the Anibong, Naga-Naga, and Abucay routes. Upon reaching at the heart of the city, they could take motorcab for hire (MCH) available.

Mayor Romualdez, pointed out that the re-routing has nothing to do with the on-going EVRAA meet or the upcoming Palarong Pambansa saying that this is part of the changes in the City now that it is already highly urbanized city, a city that is still growing, where more people are coming in especially that the first biggest mall in Tacloban, the Robinsons Mall, is set to open for business in June this year or barely two months from now.

He said a lot more of big businesses are coming to the city in the coming years that is why the city must be prepared by first addressing the traffic congestion problem.

<<< APRIL (22-30) 2009 NEWS




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