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Dec 23, 2008

Tacloban police on heightened alert for holidays

By Jenette Fariola-Ruedas

ABS CBN News - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The entire force of Tacloban police was placed on heightened alert status for the Christmas and on New Year celebrations.

"We have plans already and we will be deploying 235 policemen all over the city starting today until the new year." Superintendent Romulo Cleve Taboso, Tacloban City police chief disclosed.

The policemen is ready to respond for any eventuality that may crop up during this Christmas and New Year celebrations, said Taboso.

Police visibilty in all the strategic and crowded places in the city and to different ports and terminals will be implemented as well.

In addition to this, Tacloban police also joined the campaign on "Iwas Paputok".

They would be sealing all of the service firearms of policemen as well as some privately-owned firearms on the 28th or 29th of this month right before the New Year's eve celebration.

There were no reports of indiscriminate firing in the city last year.

Dec 22, 2008

All set for 5th National Skimboarding Competition in Leyte's Tanauan Town

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- All is set for the 5th National Skimboarding Open Competition at the Skimboarding Capital, Tanauan, Leyte, which is being sponsored by the local govt of Tanauan, the Provincial Government of Leyte thru Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla and Victoria's Skimboard, Mayor Roque A. Tiu informed.

Mayor Tiu said that the Open Competition is scheduled to be held on December 27-30 at the Bantay Dagat Area, in Barangay Sto. Nino in Tanauan. He clarified that the holding of the Competition in December was though of, because it is believed that there are better waves in December and so the skimriders will enjoy the competition better.

It would be recalled that Skimboarding Competitions has been usually conducted on Easter Sunday, Mayor Tiu said, when there are many beachcombers visiting the shores of Tanauan.

However, since last year, the National Skimboarding Competition has been held in December, after Christmas and right before New Year.

Mayor Tiu said that the participants for this season's competition, are being limited to to make the competition easier and more manageable.

Mayor Tiu added that skimriders from Luzon have signified their intention to join the competition. In fact, several of them e-mailed PIA 8 after reading the news in the PIA website and they were referred to the LGU by PIA.

This is a welcome development, Mayor Tiu said, because in the past, the local participants were all from the Visayas and Mindanao areas.

Mayor Tiu informed that the 5th National Skimboarding Competition will formally kick-off on December 27 but the nightly activities at the Site will start on December 20 as the local government decided to hold the annual Kaadlawan Festival there.

The Opening Program will be held on December 27, at 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon, Mayor Tiu added.

Mayor Tiu said that the National Skimboarding Competition is the town's contribution to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's thrust of making the Central Philippines Super Region as the Tourism Capital of the Philippines.

The public is invited to participate or witness the event which is becoming a tourist-attracting activity in the Region.

The 5th National Skimboarding Open Competition will be supervised by the Philippine Skim Association and the Tanauan Pasaka Jaycees.

Dec 20, 2008

Tacloban now a highly urbanized city

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- At exactly 10:40 Thursday night, Tacloban officially joined an elite list of highly urbanized cities, the first in Eastern Visayas.

City elections officer Susan Collamar said the proclamation of Tacloban as a highly urbanized city was "historical" due to the record number of voters who went to the polling precincts during the plebiscite.

Of Tacloban's 102,078 registered voters, 57 percent showed up at the 520 polling places to participate in the process.

Collamar said 36,352 registered voters favored the conversion of Tacloban from a component city of Leyte province into a highly urbanized city with only 21,419 voters rejecting the reclassification, a difference of 14,933 votes.

Regional director Gregorio Larrazabal of the Commission on Elections said that he was happy with the high turnout of voters.

"It is by far, the highest turnout of voters for a plebiscite in the history of the country," Larrazabal said minutes before the members of the city plebiscite committee officially announced the results at the jampacked session hall of the Sangguniang Panlungsod building.

The Comelec officials cited the wide media coverage of the proposed reclassification of Tacloban into a highly urbanized city, generating interest among residents, as among the reasons for the high turnout of voters.

"This will be a big day for us to remember and will be part of our history. And I'd like to thank the people who supported this endeavor, and even those who shared their different views," Mayor Alfred Romualdez said Thursday night during a victory speech.

"It's time to work together to fight poverty," said Romualdez who had favored the reclassification.

Councilor Wilson Uy, one of the members of the city council who openly opposed the highly urbanized classification of Tacloban, said that he respects the will of the majority who voted for the conversion of Tacloban.

"The people have spoken. Let us respect their will," Uy said Thursday night.

However, he claimed that the plebiscite was tainted with vote buying, an allegation strongly denied by both Romualdez and Comelec officials.

Vice Gov. Mimiette Bagulaya, another opponent of the reclassification, said she, too respected the voting results.

"It is already there so let us move forward," she said.

Tacloban is now separated from the administrative control of Leyte province.

Dec 19, 2008

Tacloban is now a highly urbanized city

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Tacloban is now a Highly Urbanized City. The people of Tacloban have spoken. They are for Tacloban's conversion from a component city to highly urbanized city.

Last night, City Elections Officer Susan Collamar proclaimed Tacloban as already a Highly Urbanized City following her announcement of the official result of the plebiscite held on December 18 in the City of Tacloban.

In an interview with Atty. Collamar, she said that the Yes to HUC garnered about 36,352 votes while the NO to HUC got over 21,419 votes. So as of last night, Tacloban City is already a highly urbanized city, she added.

Atty. Collamar said that she has already sent the Department of Interior and Local Government a copy of the results of the plebiscite, so the DILG has been informed already.

The voters turn-out, about 57 percent, is encouraging, Atty. Collamar said. No untoward incidents were recorded in the generally peaceful and orderly conduct of the plebiscite, she added.

There were complaints about their names not included in the voters list and the precincts were still closed, but these are common problems during the conduct of any elections, Atty Collamar said.

Meanwhile, DILG Region 8 Assistant Regional Director Atty. Aida Laruda said that the City DILG has already written the Regional Office informing about the result of the just-concluded plebiscite. The Regional Office in turn will communicate the matter to the DILG Central Office.

President Arroyo earlier, on October 4, 2008, proclaimed that Tacloban City has met all the qualifications of a Highly Urbanized City by virtue of Proclamation No. 1637 entitled Conversion of Tacloban City into a Highly Urbanized City.

The ultimate decision, however, was laid in the hands of the voters, whether they want Tacloban City to be converted into a highly urbanized city or not. Yesterday, they made their decision and it was for the affirmative.

Dec 19, 2008

Initial result of plebiscite shows landslide victory for "yes" votes

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- It was a victory of the people.
Thus said City Elections Officer Susan Collamar referring to the peaceful and orderly conduct of plebiscite held yesterday with initial results giving the "yes" votes an overwhelming victory.

"The victory goes to the people who went out their way to cast their votes. And we are happy that the plebiscite went peacefully and orderly," Collamar said minutes before the city plebiscite board of canvassers convened at the Sangguniang Panlungsod building at 5 p.m.

Based on the initial report gathered by the paper covering 21 polling precincts, as of 3:30 p.m. yesterday, the yes votes garnered 1,746 votes against the "no" votes of 767.

Collamar said that she was happy to note that the plebiscite in the city, which is bidding to become a highly urbanized city, was peaceful and orderly.

She, however, admitted that there were some problems encountered in some polling precincts.
The city elections officer said that some poll watchers appeared to have identification cards stating their preference on the issue.

"Some of our voters also claimed not to have found their names at the voters' registration," Collamar said.

Joan Daydo, 39, a resident of Barangay 93 in Bagacay said that she went out to vote because she heard that she would not be allowed to vote in the 2010 elections.

"I want to cast my vote for the 2010 elections that is why I went out today to vote," she said.

Meantime, 21-year old Emily, who declined to give her family name, admitted that she hadno idea about the issue asked for the holding of the plebiscite.

"My neighbors went out to vote and they asked me to vote," the resident of Barangay 105 Suhi said. She later received P20 after she cast her vote.

The voting on the conversion of Tacloban into an highly urbanized city started at seven in the morning and ended at three in the afternoon.

Initially, the turn out of voters was projected by Collamar to be around 30 to 40 percent, way below to the initial expectation of the Commission on Elections regional office of above 50 percent.

"But normally, the turn out of voters during a plebiscite is below 50 percent," lawyer Jose Nick Mendros, assistant regional director of the Comelec-8, said.

Mendros also expressed his happiness that the plebiscite was peaceful and orderly.
All public schools used as polling areas were manned by members of the city police station in coordination with barangay tanods.

Collamar said that barring any unforeseen events, the board could have their official results before midnight.

After the proclamation, the members of the city plebiscite board of canvassers of which Collamar is the chairperson, the results would be furnish to the Comelec central office.

In turn, the Comelec en banc would issue a resolution attesting the results of the plebiscite with a copy furnish to the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Councilor Robert Hernandez, one of the members of the city council who pushed for the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC, said that they anticipated the winning of the yes votes.

He said that with the eventual conversion of Tacloban into an HUC, "more investors will come to the benefit of our people."

"It will be a dynamic Tacloban," he added.

Dec 18, 2008

Alfred confident "yes"votes would be overwhelming

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is confident that an overwhelming majority of Taclobanons will cast "yes" votes during today's plebiscite.

The mayor, who led a massive "Yes Rally" on Tuesday, said that he sees a landslide victory for the pro-HUC camp in today's electoral exercise.

"I'm very confident that Taclobanons will support the bid of the city," Mayor Romualdez said.

According to him, there are no reasons why residents would oppose the making of the city into a highly-urbanized city (HUC).

"We have pushed this bid for the progress of the city and welfare of Taclobanons. There are no disadvantages, only advantages in becoming an HUC," he pointed out.

The mayor added that his confidence has been bolstered by the fact that people in the barangays have been very excited at the prospect of the city becoming the first-ever HUC in Eastern Visayas.

"Every time we go to forums or campaign for HUC in the barangays, people are very excited and expressed to us their pride at the prospect of Tacloban becoming the first HUC in the region," said the mayor.

Meantime, thousands of Taclobanons from all walks of life joined Tuesday's Tacloban Unite! Yes Grand Rally, which was spearheaded by the mayor himself.

The rally, started with a parade around the city. It was followed later by a mass at the Sto. Niño Church.
After the mass, a short program was held at Plaza Rizal.

In his message during the program, Mayor Romualdez, who was flanked by members of the City Council, emphasized that the city would make history once it becomes an HUC.

Also present during the program were former Leyte Governor Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez and City Councilors Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez, Bianco Mate, Rachelle Erica Pineda, Sambo Yaokasin, Eden Chua-Pineda, Cristeta Pedrosa, Pax Pacanan and Robert Hernandez.

If the "yes" votes wins in today's plebiscite, as widely expected, Tacloban will be come the region's first and the country's 34th HUC.

Dec 18, 2008

Pros and Cons HUC proponents express confidence of winning

By Joey A. Gabieta

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- As the city's more than 100,000 registered voters troop today whether they would favor for the conversion of Tacloban into a highly urbanized city, proponents of those who oppose and favor the conversion expressed their confidence of winning.

Officials of the Commission on Elections also expressed their optimism that voters' turn out would be high in today's historical plebiscite.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who is spearheading the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC, said that he is confident that the people would turn out in droves to give an overwhelming support on the plan conversion.

Romualdez reiterated that his desire to see Tacloban become the country's 34th highly urbanized city was rooted to see it attract more investors for the benefits of its more than 200,000 residents and even those living outside the city.

The mayor stressed that he is only thinking for the welfare of the people and not for any personal desire.

But Leyte Vice Governor Mimiette Bagulaya, once a former vice mayor of the city and among those campaigning against the HUChood, remain certain that the people would reject it.

But whatever will be the result, we should respect the decision of our people, Bagulaya said.

Both she and the city mayor urged the voters to go out and vote.

I urge our people to go out and vote and express your (stand) on this issue by voting, the vice governor said.

Meantime, Comelec Assistant Regional Director Jose Nick Mendros projected of a high turn out of voters in today's plebiscite.

There is so much interest among our people on this bid of Tacloban to become an HUC, Mendros said, referring to his basis on the projected big number of voters who would troop to their respective polling precincts.

For this plebiscite, the city's 102,078 registered voters are to cast their votes at their respective polling precincts from seven in the morning up to three in the afternoon.

The final results on the plebiscite would be known by midnight, Mendros said. But at least around nine in the evening, we will know at least the trend, the Comelec assistant regional director added.

Today's polls were declared as a special non-working holiday all through out the city by virtue of Proclamation Order 1687 issued on Dec. 12 signed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

City police chief, Supt. Romulo Cleve Taboso, said that they are on high alert to avert any possible tension that may arise due to the conduct of the plebiscite.

President Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation Order Number 1637 on Nov. 4 declaring Tacloban as a highly urbanized city but whose proclamation shall take effect only after the city's registered voters ratify it in a plebiscite.

A city can be declare as an HUC if it has 200,000 people and an annual income of P100 million. Tacloban has more than 217,000 people and an income of P500 million.

Dec 18, 2008

Mayor Romualdez leads ceremonial lighting of giant Christmas tree

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- As part of the Christmas celebration this year, City Mayor Alfred Romualdez led the ceremonial lighting of the giant Christmas tree at Plaza Rizal, this city, Tuesday evening.

Amid a boisterous crowd and after a countdown, Mayor Romualdez pushed a switch that lighted-up the 50-foot structure. He was assisted by other members of the City Council headed by City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez.

Also present were City Councilors Cristeta Pedrosa, Sambo Yaokasin, Pax Pacanan, Bianco Mate, Robert Hernandez and Eden Chua-Pineda.

In his message, Mayor Romualdez stressed that the giant tree, which is covered by multi-colored star designed parols, will not only serve as an added attraction, but also a symbol of unity for all Taclobanons.

An annual tradition, the switch-on ceremony was witnessed by department heads, city government employees and hundreds of other Taclobanons from all walks of life.

Meantime, thousands of Taclobanons were entertained that same evening by a concert performed by rock star Andrew E and the popular band Greenpeas.

The concert was held at Plaza Rizal immediately after the switch-on ceremony.

Dec 17, 2008

Plebiscite to ratify highly urbanized city status

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Over 100,000 registered voters are expected to take part in today's plebiscite that will ratify a presidential proclamation declaring Tacloban as the 34th highly urbanized city.

The 102,078 registered voters will cast their ballots from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Results will be known by midnight, Commission on Elections officials said. The local police have been placed on high alert.

President Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation 637 on Nov. 4 declaring Tacloban as a highly urbanized city.

A city may be declared highly urbanized if it has 200,000 residents and an annual income of P100 million. Tacloban has more than 217,000 residents and an income of P500 million.

Dec 17, 2008

Matin hopes HUC plebiscite result won't affect holding of sports events next year

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Former Congresswoman Remedios "Matin" Petilla has expressed hope that the result of the Highly Urbanized City (HUC) plebiscite will not affect the holding of the Eastern Visayas Regional Athletic Association Meet and Palarong Pambansa in this city next year.

The former governor and solon who chairs the cultural and economic committee of the upcoming national sports events said that plans have been set and it will not be affected with conflicting stands of local officials on HUChood issue.

"Whatever the result, it will not affect what is set and planned. No plebiscite or whatever would stop it from proceeding," Petilla said. "If yes (to HUC) wins, why should we stop? It's a regional and national activity." The Petillas as well as other provincial officials were known as opponents to the reclassification bid of the city.

The EVRAA will be held during the first week of February 2009 while Palarong Pambansa will be on April 26 to May 2, 2009. The regional meet was first set December this year and was moved to next year due to delayed renovation of the Leyte Sports Development Complex wrought by heavy rains.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, the proponent of HUC, expressed opposition to the holding of the national sports events, saying that the fund for preparation could be used to deliver basic services.

The hosting of the Palarong Pambansa was earlier embroiled in a controversy after Romualdez informed Education Secretary Jesli Lapus in a letter that the city government would not co-host the sports event.

Petilla said that they have not yet received any offer for help from the city government with regards to the preparation of hosting the Palaro, which will benefit Tacloban City being the venue.

"We will not use facilities owned by the city government because it seems they're against it but we welcome their assistance. We hope he (Mayor Romualdez) will support. If there's none, we are ready," she added.

In previous media interactions, Mrs. Petilla was scored by the city mayor for intervening local government affairs even if she's not already an incumbent elected official. She sits as a vice president of the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

However, the former solon said that she's around as part of her commitment to give assistance to the provincial government, whose governor is his son, Carlos Jericho.

Petilla claimed that the event was strongly supported by other provinces and cities in the region. "It will purely be ours. The whole region will be the host."

Thousands of visitors will be lured with nightly shows at the RTR Plaza that will be presented by Eastern Visayas cities and provinces during the week-long sports events. No less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will grace the grand opening.

The provincial government has estimated it would be spending about P50 million to renovate the facilities at the sports complex and to spruce up the public schools that will be used as billeting spaces for participating delegations, said Leyte Governor Jericho Petilla.

Dec 17, 2008

PPA: Tacloban port rehab needs P100M

By Sarwell Q. Meniano


TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has proposed a P100-million budget to rehabilitate Tacloban Port next year, in anticipation of higher cargo traffic.

Tacloban port manager Winfred Elizalde said in a recent interview that the 2,500-square meter deck lies within the 3.5-hectare old wharf that has been deteriorating since it was built in 1936.

"Since it was constructed, there have been no rehabilitation efforts. It is still being used, but we have been imposing load limits of five tons to 15 tons," Mr. Elizalde said.

The proposal has been forwarded to the central office of PPA. Mr. Elizalde said they hoped it will be included in the priority list for 2009. The Tacloban seaport was not included in the list of 10 priority ports in the country that will be improved to meet international standards by 2010.

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

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

Despite of the absence of passenger ships, the port earned P16.8 million in the 10 months to October, 17% more than last year's P14.36-million income.

However, the number of ships that docked at the city's port may decrease this year, with only 493 ship arrivals as of last month, against 635 ship arrivals for the entire 2007. "There are fewer ships that arrived this year, but those are large barges that brought materials in support of the city's boom in construction," Mr. Elizalde said.

Among the shipped supplies were those for the construction of Gaisano Central Mall and Robinsons Place Tacloban. Gaisano held its soft opening last November 28. Gokongwei-led Robinsons mall is scheduled to start operating within the first quarter of next year.

Dec 16, 2008

Martin strongly supports Tacloban City's HUC bid

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase, with a report from Mercy Caboboy

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- With two days left before the December 18 plebiscite, the reclassification of the city received a strong boost after Leyte First District Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Sta. Rita Mayor Kim Adolfo expressed their support to the bid of Tacloban to become a highly-urbanized city (HUC).

In a statement, Rep. Romualdez said that he is strongly behind the HUC bid of the city, because, according to him, HUC-hood would mean more investors coming to the city and other parts of the region.

He added that it would also result in more job opportunities for residents of the city and other parts of Eastern Visayas, that that they would no longer go to places outside the region to find work.

On his part, Mayor Adolfo said people from this region would have something to be proud of once Tacloban becomes an HUC.

"It would mark the first time that this region would have an HUC, and it is something to be proud of," Adolfo stressed.

He added that it would be beneficial, particularly to the people of Tacloban, because it would lead to the creation of a lone congressional district.

"Durudamo na it pondo it nga masulod ha Tacloban dara nga magkakamayada na kalugaringon nga Congressman it syudad," said Adolfo, who has also a residence in this city.

Their statements of support followed endorsements of the city's bid coming from political leaders, organizations, regional chiefs of national agencies, businessmen, and prominent individuals from this region and outside.

Among those that have favorably endorsed the bid were Former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, Presidential Assistant for Eastern Visayas Cynthia Nierras, Cong. Glenn Chong of the Lone District of Biliran, Cong. Emil Ong of the 2nd District of Northern Samar, Ong. Roger Mercado of the Lone District of Southern Leyte, Leyte Ilocos Norte representative Bongbong Marcos, Former Ilocos Representative Imee Marcos

Leyte Senior Board Member Carlo Loreto, Regional Development Council (RDC) Chairman and Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, Mayor Teodoro Sevilla of Palo, Mayor Hilario Caadan of Tolosa, Mayor Mario Quijano of Pinabacdao, Mayor Wilfredo Estorninos of Basey have also backed the bid.

Endorsers among regional heads of national agencies are Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Regional Manager Winfred Elizalde, Population Commission (POPCOM) Regional Director Susan Tejada, Parole and Probation Administration (PPA) Regional Director Arturo Gabrieles, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)Regional Director Forter Puguon, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)Provincial Director Desiderio Belas, Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) Assistant Regional Director Armon Paa, Former Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Regional Director Estrella Martinez

Among organizations, endorsements came from the Regional Development Council (RDC), League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), ANIB- Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), BAYAN, League of Filipino Students (LFS) Tacloban Chapter Confederation for Unity and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), and Tacloban Host Lion's Club

Also supporting it are the Tacloban Market Vendors Forum (TMVF) .Newspaper Vendors Association of Tacloban City (NVATC), Tacloban Underwriters Credit Coop (TUCC), United Motorcab Drivers of Tacloban (UMDT), Tacloban Leyte Samar Vendors Association (TACLEYSAM), Tiangge Fruits Vendors Association (TFVA), Tacloban Metro Vendors Marketing Coop (TMVMC), Tacloban Quezon Blvd. Vendors Credit Coop (TQBVCC), Tacloban Cut Flowers Association (TCFA), Tacloban Shopping Center Vendors Association (TSCVA), Tacloban Dried & Salted Fish Vendors Association (TDSFVA), Tac. Rolling Snack Vendors Association (TRSVA), Tacloban Supermarket Main BLDG. Credit Coop (TSMBCC), Tacloban Small Fish Vendors Association (TSFVA), Davao-Tac. Fruits & Veg. Dealers Association (DTFVDA), Agora Annex Vendors Credit Coop (AAVCC), Tacloban Small Vendors Credit Coop (TSVCC), Tarcela Vendors Association (TVA), Seawall Vendors Marketing Coop (SEVEMCO), Tacloban Banana Vendors Multi-Purpose Coop (TBVMPC), Tacloban Native Delicacies Coop (TNDC), Tacloban Chicken Vendors Multi-Purpose Coop (TCVMPC), North Wing BLDG. Stall Holders Association (NWBSHA), Tacloban Meat Vendors Multi-Purpose Coop (TMVMPC).

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

He maintained that the city has already met all the requirements which is 200,000 population and an annual income of P50 million. Tacloban has a population of 217,199 with an income of over P600 million.

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

Dec 15, 2008

Tacloban Sangyaw Foundation to hold "Christmas Festival"

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- To celebrate Christmas and to give entertainment to Taclobanons, the Tacloban Sangyaw Foundation, in cooperation with the city government here, will hold a "Christmas Festival" from December 17-22 at the Balyuan Amphitheater.

Sangyaw Foundation President Alex Montejo said that the festival will feature nightly shows at the amphitheater, except on Dec. 18-19, to be performed by different cultural contingents from this city.

The Leyte Normal University (LNU) Christmas Cantata, Musika Sentra Consort, and cultural contingents from the Leyte National High School (City Division) and Holy Infant College (HIC) will be at the amphitheater on the night of the 17th for a series of socio-cultural performances.

On the 20th, it will be the turn of the Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) Performing Groups to stage their shows at the said venue.

The next evening, the amphitheater will be the site of shows to be performed by the Leyte Kalipayan Dance Company and the Balangaw (UP Performing Arts Groups).

A Dance Drama Completion pitting 17 cultural groups will conclude the festival on Dec. 22.

The contingents that will compete in said contest are the Dance Alliance, Samlayaw, EVSU Performing Arts, Expedition, Volunteers for the Visayas Program for the Arts, Special Program for the Arts (LNHS), Dance Rhythm, Leyte Dance Theater and the Danhani Dance Corps.

"The goals of holding such activities are to celebrate the Yuletide season, promote wholesome entertainment for Taclobanons, attract more tourists, and to address the problem of declining youth interest in the culture and arts," Montejo said.

"The shows are for free and we are inviting everyone to watch and appreciate the culture of this region through them," he added.

Dec 15, 2008

December 18 is special non working day in Tacloban City

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- December 18 has been declared as special non-working day in the City of Tacloban for the purpose of conducting the Plebiscite for the conversion of Tacloban City from a Component City to a Highly Urbanized City.

This was declared by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez through Executive Order No. 08-04/12-10 dated December 10, 2008.

Mayor Romualdez, in his executive order said that practice and tradition have it that the day of any election, referendum, plebiscite or any similar political exercise, has always been a special non-working day.

Mayor Romualdez said that in order to give the Taclobanons the opportunity to exercise their sacred right of suffrage, he deemed it necessary that December 18, 2008, the day of the plebiscite, be declared as special non working day.

By declaring December 18 a special non-working day, the Taclobanons will be given the chance to fully participate in the said plebiscite, Mayor Romualdez said.

Taclobanons have the right to participate in deciding on the important issue of whether Tacloban City should be reclassified into a highly urbanized city or not, Mayor Romualdez added.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo proclaimed that Tacloban City has met all the qualifications of a Highly Urbanized City by virtue of Proclamation No. 1637 entitled Conversion of Tacloban City Into a Highly Urbanized City.

Mayor Romualdez is advocating the conversion of Tacloban City into a highly urbanized City.

On the other hand, another group, that of Vice Mayor Alvin Antoni, is advocating status quo on the ground that Tacloban City is not yet ready to become a highly urbanized city.

Dec 13, 2008

Members of port delivery group vow to vote for "Yes to HUC"

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- With barely seven days to go before the December 18 plebiscite on the HUChood of Tacloban, more and more groups are supporting the Yes votes and vowed to scribble the three letter word YES, on the ballot.

This week, Aurelio Gacutan, president of the Tacloban Delivery Association at Port Area, said his group of over 300 persons alone is committed to a Yes vote on the plebiscite day. Gacutan said he doesn't see any negative aspect on the promotion of the city into a higher rank because it entails progress for the city and the Taclobanon as a whole.

The association has built a very strong unity ever since and has participated in and supported political figures in the past elections with one strong voice. Now that they made pronouncement to support the HUC, they will not only campaign among the families and relatives of their members but also their friends, and even vowed work for a landslide Yes vote, Gacutan told this writer.

Gacutan, who is a former Barangay chairman at Brgy. 62 from 1982-1989, sees that once the city become a Highly Urbanized City (HUC), it would attract more investors to the city especially on shipping business which would eventually enliven more the port area activities. With that, Gacutan said, more workers in the port will be benefited to support their respective families.

On the other hand, Joey Dueñas, chief checker at the port area and a member of the Leyte Integrated Port Services Incorporated (LIPSI), said their huge group is also for the HUChood of Tacloban and that they were urged by their leaders to cast Yes vote during the plebiscite.

In a related story, personnel of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had been conducting information drive to the barangays on the HUC matters for them to be aware of the matter ahead of the plebiscite day as mandated by the commission.

Susan Collamar, City Election Officer, pointed out that they are not campaigning for a YES or NO vote-but campaigning to the people to go out and vote whatever is in their heart for the HUChood plebiscite on December 18.

Dec 13, 2008

Samar still a challenge in anti-insurgency campaign

By Miriam Garcia Desacada

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The province of Samar remains a challenge in the anti-insurgency campaign of the Philippine Army in the region, while three of its counterpart provinces have already been declared insurgency free.

This was revealed by Major General Arthur Tabaquero of the army's 8th Infantry Division recently, saying that despite the challenge they are determined to "totally crush" the communist movement in the region by 2010 as part of the national government's campaign for sustainable peace and development.

"In all the provinces in the region, Samar remains to be the challenge, however, we are doing our best and maximizing our resources to end them by 2010 if not totally but at least a significant portion of them would be dismantled. We will end armed rebellion within the period given," Gen. Tabaquero said.

It was earlier reported that Biliran province has already been declared as an insurgency-free province.

Also, last December 1, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the Internal Security Operations (ISO) between the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the provincial government of Biliran was forged at the Central Command (CentCom) based in Cebu, declaring the province of Biliran peace and development zone which declaration investors puts into rest fears of possible investors to come and invest in the province as peace and order situation of a place is firstly considered in such endeavor.

Biliran is the first among the three island provinces in Central Philippines where a MOA on ISO was approved, including the provinces of Guimaras and Siquijor.

Meanwhile, it was also last year that Leyte province for its part was declared by army in the region as insurgency-free making the province suitable for ore economic development and opportunities.

The commanding general said hopefully they could achieve the same for the province of Samar to allow more economic opportunities for its constituents.

"A place that is peaceful is a good place for investment and in turn more employment would be generated for the people and progress and development will follow," Gen. Tabaquero added.

To end insurgency, it is imperative for the government to meet the insurgency challenge through a combination of "soft" and "hard" power, the former being the provision of social services and livelihood, while the latter refers to the use of military might.

The Philippine Army in the region said that together with the support o the local government units the government has been implementing the "hard and soft power" approaches in its campaign against rebels.

The combinationof both approaches has been effective in some rebel-infested provinces that are now progressive and peaceful, the army reported.

Dec 13, 2008

Tanauan re-stages "Kaadlawan Festival by the Beach"

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- For the second consecutive year, the Kaadlawan Festival in Tanauan, Leyte will be held at the Skimboarding Site at the Bantay Dagat Area at Barangay Sto. Niño.

Mayor Roque Tiu said that the local government expects to welcome the big crowd from all walks of life who will come to witness the different presentations evoking the true spirit of Christmas.

Mayor Roque Tiu said that the municipal government decided to transfer the venue as nightly activities are being presented at the Skimboarding Site since December 20 preparatory to the December 27 Opening of the 4th National Skimboarding Competition which will be held in the area.

The entire two-hectare area has been decorated with Christmas lanterns. Kiosks are scattered all over the area, huge tents to provide shelter for the spectators and the stage with the sea as its backdrop, provide a conducive atmosphere to this year's Kaadlawan Festival.

The Nightly activities will start on December 2, and will continue until after Christmas to tie it with the 5th National Skimboarding Competition which will also be held in the area.

On December 20, it will be Acoustic Night at the Skimboarding Area, Mayor Tiu said. This will feature the best acoustic groups in the Region.

December 21 is the Kaadlawan Festival, an array of performances presented by the town's young talents in colorful Christmas costumes, from the selected kindergarten and elementary pupils, high school and college students, faculty and professional singing groups.

Boxing by the Beach will be featured on December 22 while on December 22, the Dance Craze Competition will be showcased.

On December 24 and 25, the local government of Tanauan encourages the public to attend to their spiritual development together with their families, hence, there will be no show at the Skimboarding Area.

Icot Idol Concert will be held on December 26 featuring the winners of Governor Petilla's talent competition for young people of Leyte.

On December 27-30, the 5th National Skimboarding Competition will be staged together with other nightly activities.

Conceived and initiated by Mayor Roque Tiu in 1994, the Kaadlawan Festival is a fitting tribute to the Lord Jesus Christ in anticipation and in commemoration of His Birthday. This is a much-awaited event where the best talents from the different sectors and from the different schools of the municipality perform Christmas plays, songs and dances. It is an offering of the best talents to Him from whom all these good things come from.

Dec 12, 2008

State of calamity in Samar areas

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippnes -- The death toll in floods in the Eastern Visayas now stands at 11 as authorities declared a state of calamity in Northern Samar and in a town in Eastern Samar.

The two additional casualties identified as Baclando Baladad of Barangay Biri 1, Arteche town, Eastern Samar and Cristina Magtul-is from Jipapad town in Eastern Samar died due to drowning.

The Northern Samar provincial government decided to declare a state of calamity on Friday afternoon, upon the recommendation of Gov. Raul Daza, since 10 of its towns suffered damage due to the massive flooding that killed six persons and destroyed properties and crops worth millions of pesos.

Arnel Delorino, administrative officer of the Northern Samar provincial disaster management unit, said the 10 towns-Bobon, Catarman, Catubig, Las Navas, Lavezares, Lope de Vega, Mondragon, Palapag, Pambujan and Silvino Lobos-suffred damage to infrastructure and crops that could reach P100 million.

Delorino said damage to infrastructure like roads and bridges was P95.30 million and agriculture products, P5.6 million.

The flooding in Northern Samar, considered the poorest in the Eastern Visayas region, has affected 18,290 families or 103,178 individuals.

In Las Navas, 11 houses located in Barangay San Isidro were covered with mud and a still unidentified person was hurt.

"Communications there remained bogged down that is why we cannot really get much information there," Delorino said.

He identified the fatalities in Northern Samar as Jeoffrey Cobreros, 22, of Barangay General Lukban, Bobon; Alfredo Mijares, 67, of Barangay Bugho, Lope de Vega; Danilo Mahinay and Joy Zaidy, both from Barangay Roxas, Mondragon; Enrico Laoreno, 53, of Barangay Tambangan, Palapag and Paterno Avendaño of Barangay Washington, Catarman.

Fatalities in Jipapad town, Eastern Samar were Jose Rosco, 16, and a newly born girl.

Jipapad Mayor Jojie Montallana also said on Friday that their town has been placed under a state of calamity last Dec. 8.

Another person, Regan Singson Tasan of Sitio Camarin, Barangay Lamanoc, Merida town, Leyte was earlier reported to have died due to drowning.

Dec 11, 2008

Barangay 37 chairman switches to "Yes" in Tacloban HUC issue

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Giving weight to the welfare of his constituents and after a thorough study, Barangays Chairman Francisco Yerro of Barangay 37, reclamation area, decided to go for YES and openly campaign for the December 18 plebiscite.

Speaking before hundreds of people in his Barangay, Yerro without any hesitations, revealed that before his stand on the Highly Urbanization of Tacloban was NO but after weighing things over he opted for YES to protect the interest of his Barangays.

According to Yerro, there are 138 barangays all over the City and the great majority of these is in favor of Highly Urbanized City (HUC).

" If I'm going to make NO win in my barangay I will be at a lose at the City Hall- in the same manner, I can not go to the Governor anymore to ask for projects or assistance because it has no more jurisdiction to Tacloban once it acquires full autonomy with a majority YES votes comes the plebiscite. So, because our barangay belongs to Tacloban- we would rather go for HUC," Yerro said, as he urged the people not listen to the twisted information being circulated by the opposite camp.

Further, Yerro divulged that prior to his coming out to the open to campaign for YES, Mrs. Remedios " Matin" Petilla, mother of Gov. Jericho Icot Petilla and former congresswoman, had been calling him thru his mobile phone, convincing him to remain on her side and campaign for No. But according to the chairman, he frankly told the former congresswoman that he will remain firm on his new stand favoring the HUChood of the city.

According to Yerro, he had been a good ally of the Petillas in the past years during his six years of incumbency as barangay executive, but he can not let go of progress being introduced by the present administration thru Mayor Alfred Romualdez- and as a Taclobanon, he said, he and his constituents should take part in making this City a more progressive place being the center capital of the Eastern Visayas Region.

To recall, Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo handed down proclamation no. 1637 on October 04, 2008, proclaiming the City as a Highly Urbanized City (HUC) and said proclamation shall be ratified thru a plebiscite. Under the Local Government code of 1991, the plebiscite shall be conducted within 120 days upon proclamation of the President, hence the Dec. 18 plebiscite.

<<< DEC (23-31) 2008 NEWS




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