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Feb 24, 2009

Many projects to be implemented in Tacloban City this year

By Valentino B. Lopez

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The promise of HUChood may well be seeing its fruition now, if one may look into the numerous multi-million worth of projects recently being implemented by the city government.

Now on its fifty percent completion or over, priority projects asked for in 2008 by some barangays, but deferred due to the HUC plebiscite ban, have now been set in motion this first quarter of the year.

Topping the list as to funding requirement is the construction of the Mini-Gyms in Brgy.105 ( San Isidro ) and in Brgy 68 (Anibong), which both being constructed at a whooping 4 million pesos each.

Next with a lesser cost but still with huge amounts are the construction of additional Tiered Tombs at the Public Cemetery in Basper and the construction of a drainage system in Brgy.92 (Apitong), with over 3 Million pesos being spent by the local government, in both projects.

Other projects which cost lower but still with over a million funding were the construction of the Multi-Purpose Covered Courts in Brgy. 107 (Sta. Elena) with P2,277,000.00, Brgy. 106 (Sto. Niño) with P2,210,042.76, Brgy. 83-A (Burayan) with P1,142,579.10, Brgy.12 (GE Palanog) with P1,068,216.17 and in Barangay 103 which costs P1,027,000.00.

Also included in the 2009 first quarter implementations are the Basketball Court construction in Barangay 48-A ( Esperas Avenue ) worth P904,000.00, the construction of steel railings with lamp post in Brgy. 96(Calanipawan) worth P269,400.00, the completion of the covered court in Brgy.60 (Sagkahan) worth P385,870.00 and the repair and renovation of the City Veterinary Office at the Slaughterhouse in Brgy Diit, costing P160,856.11.

Feb 21, 2009

Leyte mayors vow full support for Palarong Pambansa 2009

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The mayors of the province of Leyte rally their support to Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla in hosting the Palarong Pambansa 2009 which will be held in the province from April 27 to May 3, 2009.

Tanauan Mayor Roque A. Tiu who is Leyte chapter president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, informed that the league unanimously approved an all-out-support for the hosting of the national sports event during its February 20 meeting at Jerry's Grill in Tacloban City.

The League verbalized their support through PAGCOR Vice President Hon. Remedios Petilla who was around to brief the mayors, as chairperson of the socio-cultural activities which are being prepared for the Palarong Pambansa 2009.

Mayor Tiu said the 41 Leyte mayors agreed to share at least P20,000 each from local funds or a total amount of P820,000 for use in the Palarong Pambansa hosting. This, Mayor Tiu said, is a manifestation of their support and the acknowledgment that they, together with all the people, being part of the province of Leyte, are and must do their share in the hosting of the Palarong Pambansa 2009.

All the forty one municipalities of Leyte will set up a Trade and Food Kiosk at the RTR Plaza where the socio-civic entertainments would be staged during the whole duration of the Palaro, Mayor Tiu said. The athletes and the guests from all over the country will have a taste of the culture in the different parts of Leyte even without actually going in all the places, Mayor Tiu said.

The League will also co-host the Paalam Night for all the delegations, Mayor Tiu added. This night, which will coincide with the awarding ceremony, will one which the delegates will remember for a long long time, Mayor Tiu said.

The League has also decided to feature the municipalities in the Subiran Regatta which will be an added attraction during the Palarong Pambansa 2009. The sails of the participating Subiran will be sponsored be each of the 41 municipalities. The name of a particular town and the picture of that which makes the town unique from the other municipalities will be printed in each of the sails. A sail painting contest will be conducted to choose the best sail, Mayor Tiu said.

In addition, the municipalities of Palo, Tanauan and Dulag will provide the accommodation for several Palaro delegations, Mayor Tiu said.

In order to encourage the media to make the best write-ups about the Palarong Pambansa 2009, the League will also partner with the Philippine Information Agency in the conduct of the Palarong Pambansa 2009 Media Awards in Leyte (MAIL).

Mayor Tiu said the Leyte province and the whole of Region 8 will benefit from the hosting of the Palarong Pambansa. The national sports events will not only bring in thousands of local tourists, it will directly contribute financially and economically to the local business, hotels, restaurants, transportation, vegetable and meat vendors and even the ordinary people of the City.

It is not often that the province or the Eastern Visayas Region has the chance to host a Palaro. In fact it has been 25 years since the Palaro was last held in Tacloban, Mayor Tiu said, as he called on each and every Leyteno to cooperate and treat the visitors well and make their two-week stay, one which will make them want to come back to Leyte.

Feb 20, 2009

City council approves appointment of Muñoz as city administrator

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Retired Philippine Phosphate Corporation (Philphos) General Manager Robert "Bobby" Muñoz breezed through his "interview" with City Council members who unanimously confirmed his appointment as the new City Administrator.

The city government has been without a City Administrator since the resignation for health reasons of then-City Administrator Jimjim Yaokasin last year.

Councilors Cristina Gonzales- Romualdez, Robert Hernandez, Sambo Yaokasin, Eden Chua-Pineda, Bianco Mate, Cristeta Pedrosa, Rachelle Erica Pineda, Rufino Pacanan, Nofredo Lagonoy, Wilson Uy, Bob Abellanosa, and Robert Andrade voted in favor of Muñoz's appointment.

Muñoz, who appeared before the Tacloban City Council Wednesday for the confirmation, said that he would do his best to perform his functions as the new City Administrator.

The functions of a City Administrator include the maintenance of a sound personnel program for the local government unit (LGU); conduct continuing organizational development of the LGU by instituting administrative reforms; and be in the frontline of the delivery of administrative support services particularly those related situations during and in the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters and calamities.

Also, among its functions is to recommend to the City Council and advise the mayor on matters relative to the management and administration of the LGU and exercise other powers or perform other functions as may be prescribed by law or ordinance.

Muñoz, who is IN his early 60s, is the son of the late Catbalogan Mayor Raul Muñoz. Before working for Philphos, he had also served as councilor of Catbalogan, it was learned.

Feb 19, 2009

Millionaire wannabes queue for lotto tickets

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

"Who wants to be a millionaire?"

Ask this question from those lined up in lotto outlets in Tacloban and all the hands of people in the kilometric queue would raise their hands high.

One of the hopefuls is Dalmacio Leona, who carries in one hand the peanuts that he sells, and in the other, a lottery ticket.

He hopes to stop from peddling peanuts if luck strikes his way.

"If I win, my family will be freed from poverty...I will have a bigger business," he said.

Manuel Gallardo, who was behind Leona in the long line of lotto bettors, also hopes that the millions will give his family a better.

"If I win, I will buy a house and lot for my family," he said.

The lottery jackpot prize has gone up to P270 million, an amount so enticing for a people who have long been battling poverty.

Feb 16, 2009

Wildlife rescue center and mini-zoo to rise in Tacloban

By Ven Labro

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- A Wildlife Rescue Center and Mini-Zoo is set to be established this year in Tacloban, the premier city of the region.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez is giving priority to the setting up of the wildlife rescue center facility which, once completed, would be the first of its kind in Eastern Visayas, said Jonathan Hijada, chief of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO).

Hijada disclosed that Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (1st Destrict, Leyte), a cousin of the mayor, would also be putting up a mini-zoo in the wildlife rescue center area.

He said the main objective of the wildlife rescue center is to take care of wildlife confiscated from illegal trading as well as abandoned and donated animals.

The Wildlife Rescue Center and Mini-Zoo, he said, will sit in a 50-hectare lot within the nearly 200 hectares Community-Based Forest Management Area in Barangay Salvacion in the northern part of Tacloban.

The CBFNA, he added, is a project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that is being managed by the Paraclete Integrated Agro-Forest Development Association, Inc., a people's organization.

"A tripartite memorandum of agreement among the city government, the DENR-8 and the people's organization has already been prepared and ready for signing (before the end of this month)," he said, adding that a draft of the MOA has already been submitted to the city legal office for technical review.

Under the MOA, the city government will provide manpower, management and veterinary-related service. The city ENRO is the lead agency of the project but it will work closely with the city veterinarian office, Hijada said.

On the other hand, DENR will provide technical support and financial assistance for the food and medicines of the animals while the people's organization will continue in its efforts to protect the environment in the area, he added.

Hijada said the DENR regional office has already pledged P200,000 as annual financial aid to the wildlife rescue center.

He said residents of Salvacion had also approved of the project after this was presented to them last October and dialogues had been held in the village. Resident of Barangay Salvacion would be given priority in the hiring of workers for the project, he added.

He disclosed that a joint team from his office and DENR-8 has already conducted an assessment of the proposed site, which has some denuded areas and two waterfalls that need rehabilitation.

"We will be developing as part of our strategy this 50-hectare (rescue center area) back into its natural condition," Hijada said.

He added that "in the long-run, this will become an eco-tourism site."

The wildlife rescue center is included in the city's annual investment plan of the city, with a appropriation of P664,000 for this year alone.

Feb 13, 2009

Some EV oil mill companies feeling effects of global crisis - DOLE

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- In a consultative meeting held Monday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office in the region said it has learned that some oil mill companies in Eastern Visayas are already experiencing the effect of global financial crisis.

Forter Puguon, DOLE regional director, said the companies are now feeling a slowdown in their business.

"Their exports are affected because there is a lesser demand now for coconut oil in the world market," said Puguon.

DOLE, however, clarified that there would be no retrenchment of coconut oil mill workers.

"As corporations, the companies assured that they are still in the position to hold their workers," said Puguon.

But if the downtrend of demand continues within the next months, coco workers will definitely be affected, DOLE pointed out.

"Some corporations may resort to reduction of the number of working days of their employees. But we are doing everything to cushion the effect," Puguon said.

He said they are ready with the DOLE Adjustment Measures Program Fund (DAMPF) which has a P100-million fund nationwide intended to support displaced workers so that they will be re-employed, re-skilled or have an alternative livelihood.

There are eight oil mill companies in Eastern Visayas, majority of which are located in Leyte province. Coconut oil is one of the region's export products.

Feb 11, 2009

Floods hit Tacloban flower harvest for Valentine's Day

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Flower farms in the city yielded no buds for Valentine's Day as seedlings were buried by deep December floodwaters.

Mary Ann, who greatly relies on selling flowers for her family, said it is a big loss for her business especially this February when people are expected to buy more flowers.

"It's a big loss, income-wise. But I have no choice. I sell flowers everyday so I have to look for other supply which comes from Cebu or Manila, "she said.

Another flower vendor, Lolita, said however that the supply of imported flowers is limited.

"They said floods have also affected their flower farms so the price now is higher and would probably double on Saturday, "she said.

Prices of more-popular flowers in the city are now at P120 per dozen.

Feb 10, 2009

Tacloban City council finds ways to ease traffic

By Jenette Fariola-Ruedas

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- More and more public utility jeepneys (PUJ) are plying the city and to answer the problem, the city council is trying to come up with an ordinance to help decongest traffic especially at the downtown area.

More than 200 PUJ's plying Tacloban to San Jose and vice versa alone reportedly contribute to the growing number of jeepneys in the city.

"So if the number-coding system will be implemented for this route, almost 40 PUJ's will not be allowed to travel, it will ease up traffic congestion, plus it would help the drivers earn more income," City Councilor Jerry Yaokasin of the city council's Committee on Transportation said.

For the first time, the city will implement a number coding system if agreement is reached between jeepney operators and drivers and traffic officials.

The schedule will be based on the last digit of a jeepney's plate numbers, wherein 1 and 2 will not be allowed to travel on Mondays, 3 and 4 on Tuesdays, 5 and 6 on Wednesdays and so on. All PUJs will be allowed to ply their routes however on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

The city council said it is also studying a proposed ordinance which seeks to regulate private terminals around the city.

Yaokasin said it aims to maximize the use of the new bus terminal and most importantly to reduce traffic congestion in some areas especially in terminals located at the busiest streets in the city.

"They should be at least 100 meters away from the schools and big establishments," Yaokasin added.

Another hearing has been set for the proposed ordinance on the number-coding system.

Feb 09, 2009

City Hall hires new administrator

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- A former top official of a giant fertilizer company in the country is set to assume office as the new administrator of the City Government of Tacloban.

In an interview Thursday, Bernardita Valenzuela of the Mayor's Action Center disclosed that Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez has tapped Roberto "Bobby" Muñoz, a retired manager of Philippine Phospate Corporation (Philphos) in Isabel, to become the next city administrator.

The city government has been without a city administrator since the resignation for health reasons of then-City Administrator Jimjim Yaokasin last year.

"The mayor wants the city government to be run effectively like a corporation by a person of unquestioned integrity and managerial expertise. That's the main reason the mayor appointed Mr. Muñoz to be the new city administrator," Valenzuela said.

Mrs. Valenzuela stressed that they in the city government are optimistic that Mr. Muñoz will do a good job at the helm of the City Administrator's Office.

"He has a clean reputation. In all the 28 years he has been with Philphos, there have been no charges brought against him. Waray hiya sabit," Valenzuela pointed out.

"At one time, he has been in charge of 3,000-5,000 employees at Philphos. There is no reason that he cannot manage effectively the city government which has less than 2,000 employees," she added.

Muñoz, who is his early 60's, is the son of the late Catbalogan Mayor Raul Muñoz. Before working for Philphos, he has also served as councilor of Catbalogan, it was learned.

Feb 09, 2009

No increase in prices of basic commodities in Leyte, DTI says

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The prices of basic commodities in the province of Leyte, remain constant, Mr. Joe Molina of the Department of Trade and Industry in Leyte informed.

This pronouncement was based on the price monitoring activities which DTI Leyte regularly conducts, Mr. Molina said.

In the case of flour, the price was even reduced, Mr. Molina added. The first class flour before was sold at P910. Nowadays, it costs only P850.00. The third class flour used to be sold at P850, now it is sold at P800 or P810.

Mr. Molina said that DTI is only monitoring the prices of processed good because there are other agencies which are mandated to monitor the prices of other products like the Department of Health is monitoring the prices of medicine while the Department of Agriculture is monitoring the prices of unprocessed goods like meat and poultry and vegetables.

Although, DTI is not supposed to monitor the price of LPG, DTI in Leyte is forced to monitor considering that there is no office of the Department of Energy in the region, Mr. Molina said.

DTI Leyte observed that the price of an 11kilogram LPG tank is already P575 in Tacloban and P580 in Ormoc. This price is more than the announced P500.00 price, so DTI called up the DOE and he was told that after re-computation of the price, P575 is the actual price.

DTI has strengthened its monitoring of prices amidst the looming effects of the current world economic crisis and because the province is face with a big national event, which is the Palarong Pambansa come April 26- May 2, Mr. Molina bared.

Feb 09, 2009

Father, son arrested in Tacloban for transporting timber

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Operatives of Bantay Dagat Tacloban apprehended a father and son who were transporting 46 round timbers along Cancabato Bay area early Monday.

Noel Ligtas, who heads the task force, said the Tikoko timbers were hidden aboard the motorboat manned by Teodoro Navidad and his 16-year-old son.

Navidad, who hails from barangay Legazpi, Marabut, Samar, confirmed that he was transporting the timber but claimed that he wasn't aware that it was prohibited.

"I am a farmer. I do not really do this so I am not aware that it is illegal. I promise not to do this again," he said.

The confiscated timber will be turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources while Navidad faces corresponding penalties for illegal transportation of the said timber.

Feb 08, 2009

Big waves engulf 14 houses in coastal barangay in Tanauan, Leyte

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- In a matter of two hours, fourteen houses were washed out, one after the other, by big waves, on the shores of San Roque in the coastal municipality of Tanauan, Leyte, at around four o'clock in the afternoon of February 7.

Tanauan Mayor Roque A. Tiu said that the barangay residents of San Roque which is the biggest among the 54 barangays of the municipality, reported that big waves started to occur at around 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.

Houses started to be washed out at 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon. Fortunately, all the 57 dwellers in the 14 houses are safe and accounted for, except for one who was nailed when he jump from his house which is being washed away.

Their houses having been totally damaged, the 57 people have been evacuated to the nearby San Roque Elementary School which is only about 5 meters from where the totally destroyed houses were formerly standing, Mayor Tiu said.

Mayor Tiu identified the victims as the families of Alejo Barcilla; Ronald Urdame; Edilyn Salano; Macaria Monsaga; Ronilo Almo; Leonardo Campo; Silvino Tangpuz, Jr.; Gladys Barcilla; Leri Sabarillo; Claro Lumantao; Gorgonio Mansalay; Jils Monsaga; Rogel Barcilla; Belen Abalos; and Brenda Lumantao.

Mayor Tiu said that through the Philippine Information Agency, he was able to talk to Regional Disaster Coordinating Council Operations Center and Office of Civil Defense Administrative Officer Rey Gozon, who in turn coordinated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 8 for possible assistance.

DSWD Director Letecia Corillo promised to send clothings and blankets for the victims, Mayor Tiu said.

Mayor Tiu added that he also contacted the Leyte Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council through Provincial Administrator Vincent Emnas, who immediately sent to Tanauan representatives of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office.

The Provincial Government of Leyte gave the victims, family food packs consisting of rice provision for several days, noodles and canned goods, Mayor Tiu informed as he thanked the Provincial Government for its speedy response to his call. The victims are extremely happy, Mayor Tiu added.

Continuous pouring of heavy rains was experienced in Leyte from Friday until Saturday which resulted to rough seas.

Mayor Tiu informed that the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council and the San Roque Barangay Disaster Coordinating Council, have already warned the residents near the shore to evacuate as big waves are expected especially at high tide between 8:00 o'clock in the evening to 1:00 o'clock the following morning.

Mayor Tiu bared that he has already requested the Sangguniang Bayan through Vice Mayor Agapito Pagayanan, Jr., to conduct a special session in order to allocate financial assistance for the victims.

Meanwhile, Mayor Tiu said that he will once again coordinate with the Department of Public Works and Highways to seek assistance in controlling the coastal erosion which is badly affecting the coastal barangays of Tanauan.

Feb 07, 2009

Can't do anything if city would not issue parade permit for Palaro 2009 - Gov. Petilla

By Ahlette C. Reyes

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla said he cannot do anything if the city government of Tacloban would not grant a permit for the Palaro to stage a parade on its opening day on April.

This the governor commented on an aired radio interview of City Mayor Alfred Romualdez that the city may not grant a permit if the parade would cause traffic along the city streets.

The governor said that would be a decision by the city government but made a rejoinder that the Palaro is a national event with no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to come on the opening ceremonies.

On the other hand, the governor commented on reports that the province has not involved the city in planning and organizing the events.

Gov. Petilla said first and foremost the Palaro is an event of the Department of Education, and of the province's and it, being a big national event, the education department cannot stage it alone without the help of LGUs.

Thus, he said the province's role is only hosting the venues and some of the activities but primarily the Palaro is a DepEd affair.

Earlier, the governor disclosed in the province's local weekly radio program that they have enjoined the support of the city government through the invitations by the DepEd regional office.

"We enjoined their support but it doesn't mean that without them joining we would not pursue with the holding of the event. We would like them to be part of it, but if they would rather not, we would have to make do with whatever and whoever would want to extend their support," Gov. Petilla said.

Dep-Ed 8 Director Sol Matugas voiced the same observation during a recent interview on the issue of permits. She said there is no need for such, and the city government has even been enjoined by the education department to be co-hosts of the event, especially that the main facility for the Palaro is located within the city.

Meanwhile, it was learned from Dr. Editha Jacer, DepEd's consultant for the Palaro revealed that considering the number of participants expected to come and compete in the events, organizers have initially set the parade route from the RTR Plaza to the Leyte Sports Development Center.

"We do not want to tire the athletes with a long parade route. We have to take note that these are competing athletes who after the opening ceremonies would have grueling competitions ahead," Dr. Jacer said.

With at least 600-man delegation from the all 17 regions, the total expected athletes and coaches can go up to more than 10,000 excluding other guests and visitors. This year's 2009 Palarong Pambansa is Leyte's opportunity to host since 1983.

Feb 06, 2009

COA finds financial assistance granted to TSFI as questionable

By Allan Y. Amistoso

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- City government officials here were given five days by the Commission on Audit (COA) to make their comments and answer on the questionable financial assistance extended to Tacloban Sangyaw Foundation, Inc. (TSFI) last year.

This after the commission has issued their audit observation memorandum no. 2009-01 dated January 20, 2009 requiring Mayor Alfred Romualdez, members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, City Legal Officer Atty. Sergio Sumayod, City Accountant Victoria Collantes, City Budget Officer Lourdes Asis, City Treasurer Edgardo Macion and a certain Vicente Dy to answer within five days upon receipt of said memorandum.

On the audit made by State Auditor IV Edna Apurillo, revealed eight observation and finding concerning the grant of P2,660,000.00 financial assistance to Sangyaw Foundation last June of 2008.

The first finding states that until the writing of the memorandum said financial assistance remain unliquidated in spite of six months passed after the completion of the project.

Apurillo cited section 7 of the Memorandum of Agreement entered into by and between the City Government and the Tacloban Sangyaw Foundation, Inc. which provides that within 30 days after completion of the project the Foundation shall immediately liquidate with the City the funds granted to them.

The second findings has focused on the observation and review of document relative to the 2008 fiesta celebration and it was found out that there were two proposals which was submitted and approved by the Mayor to undertake the socio-cultural activities. Said proposals came from Tacloban Sangyaw and the other from City Tourism Council. Apurillo cited COA circular 2007-001 particularly item no. 4.3 that the types of projects that may be granted government fund shall be those that are beyond the capability of the government organization and the submission of the proposal by the city tourism understood that said activity can be handled by the city.

The third findings were centered on the granting of accreditation of the Foundation by the city council despite of questionable requirements or lack of it. It was noted by the commission that what was presented to the council as part of their requirements was the reservation notice only from the Securities and Exchange Commission in which same will not signify that application for registration was already approved. This act is again a violation of the circular cited above. It was also noticed by the commission that a certain Geemafiel Gaspay, a staff of the city legal office, made such reservation.

On the fourth findings, it mentioned about the provision of the Memorandum of Agreement specifically under the portion on the responsibility of the city, which did not provide for the verification of the financial records of the foundation and it was not also clear how the project will be implemented.

The fifth findings revealed that the city government of Tacloban has entrusted the substantial amount to the Foundation despite of being newly-organized and no track record to show.

On the sixth findings, the commission observed the two certification issued by Mr. Vicente Quintero 111, manager of RCBC and treasurer of the Foundation regarding the savings account mentioning two names, Atty. Sumayod and Atty. Vicente Reyes concerning an account allegedly for TSFI.

Seventh findings were also observed that the signature on the receipts issued by the Foundation on June 26, 2008 to the city government of Tacloban after they received the questioned financial assistance was not the signature of Quintero. On the other hand, the received portion of the voucher was signed by Alex Montejo, the president of the TSFI.

The last and final findings were a question on the date of the issuance of receipts by TSFI on the 26th of June when the authority given by the Bureau of Internal Revenue to Leyte Chicago Printing Press to print the official receipts of TSFI is June 27.

Based on the copy that was obtained by Leyte Samar Daily Express, this memorandum was received by the concerned offices last Monday.

Atty. Sumayod when reached for his reaction refused to make comment on the issue instead informed this paper that they are now preparing their answer.

Feb 06, 2009

Alleged rebel killed in Samar clash

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- A suspected fighter of the New People's Army (NPA) was killed and two others were captured in a clash with government troops in Paranas town, Samar province Thursday afternoon, the military said on Friday.

General Francis Lanuza, commanding officer of the 801st Infantry Brigade, identified the slain rebel as RJ Abalos, 21, said to be a resident of Barangay Lipata (village), Paranas. The captured suspects were Santi Alpar, 22, and Prudencio Labong, 55, of Barangay Tutubngan and, Barangay Paco, respectively.

They were identified by residents in the area, Lanuza said, adding that three more rebels were believed wounded during the 10-minute firefight.

Lanuza said the government troops suffered no casualties in the clash in Santo Niño village.

He said patrolling troops from the 14th Infantry Battalion and 83rd Division Reaction Company of the 801st IB were informed by villagers of the presence of 10 rebels in Santo Niño.

The soldiers recovered two M16 rifles, Lanuza said.

The body of Abalos was brought to the Paranas municipal hall for his family to claim.

The two captured suspects will be charged with illegal possession of firearms. But Lanuza would not say where the two were being detained.

Three months ago, government troops overran an NPA camp in Santo Niño.

The military in Eastern Visayas has acknowledged that the rebels' presence continues to be felt in the Samar hinterlands.

But 8th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Arthur Tabaquero said the military's intensified campaign has brought down rebel strength in the region to less than 400, the majority in the Samar provinces.

The military has already declared the other provinces of the region -- Leyte, Biliran and Southern Leyte -- "insurgency-free"

Feb 06, 2009

It's outrageous

By Peter Wallace

Manila Standard Today, Philippines

Would I be overstating it if I said the Philippines seems to have lost its moral underpinnings?

What brought this thought to mind (again) was the rapid exoneration of three Filipino contractors who'd been blacklisted by the World Bank. The congressmen not only found them innocent of anything the World Bank had accused them of, it attacked the World Bank even intimating its decision was done capriciously and without due process. The World Bank? The World Bank spends years investigating any allegations of irregularity before it would say there's collusion by the firms. In fact, as far back as November 2007, the organization had already notified the Department of Finance, Department of Public Works and Highways and the Office of the Ombudsman about the irregularity going on in the project biddings. Yet nothing was done. The congressmen had two hearings and no investigation. They didn't even invite the Bank's officials to those brief hearings. They just took the word of the contractors, as though that word wouldn't be full of self-protecting interest.

Do they seriously expect us to believe them? The World Bank is a highly-respected, fully-independent organization that acts with extreme care when commenting on actions in a sovereign nation. It would not have taken such a drastic action without very convincing proof. I am quite sure of this, and so would anyone else who knows the workings of the Bank.

Similarly, John Resado who issued a release order for three suspected drug dealers coincidentally on the same day his bank account was credited with P800,000, said the amount came from the liquidation of all his business transactions for his lending and grocery business in Tarlac. Quite a coincidence, but it's the statement "I did not declare my income from the money-lending business because it is part of the informal economy" that got me because it was accepted as being quite normal. Maybe we should all join the informal sector and watch the government collapse as it goes bankrupt financially as well as morally.

And where is the Church in all this? Where's the moral outrage they should be expressing, that members of its flock that they've nurtured from childhood should be acting so much against Christ's teachings? Why is it so silent?

At least there's one area where the public is expressing its outrage, and that's the citizens of Eastern Samar who are complaining bitterly over the collapse of roads built only a mere four years ago but are now impassable. There's no question corruption had much to do with it, cheating on the materials used. Good for them (the Samarians, not the contractors), and I hope the government is listening. More importantly, if it acts swiftly to effect repairs. And maybe, just maybe, sue the contractors for shoddy, sub-standard work.

Interestingly, some of the road construction in Samar was done by the very same companies the World Bank blacklisted and Congress declared innocent. E.C. de Luna Construction was the winner of the bidding Package 3 of Maharlika Highway's Calbayog-Tizon road stretch while the Tacloban-Calbigo road section is still under warranty bond by Cavite Indeal International Construction and Development Corp.

Have we become so callous that 19 deaths are considered as nothing (one newspaper says it's actually 26 if deaths from malaria from mosquitoes in the shipyard are included)? According to reports, these workers have died building ships for Hanjin, yet I've seen no government action to prosecute management. Or order the company to greatly upgrade their safety systems and procedures and treat the area to kill mosquitoes despite the existence of products to do just that, for just a few thousand pesos. Hanjin might have brought in much-needed investment and thousands of jobs but none of it is worth a human life. I thought the cutting down of more than 300 trees for a casino and hotel complex in a forested area already showed a management that cared little for this country and protecting its few surviving forests, then I read about the deaths.

I've seen no outcry against these preventive deaths. In any other country the company would have been closed down until safety systems were vastly improved-after one death. Must we wait for 20 to die or is it 100 before this government reacts?

Since I wrote this, I was horrified to read yesterday the headline in this paper. "Palace: go easy on Hanjin." "Foreign investors are very important to our economy. It is important that we should treat our foreign investors fairly so that we can attract more of them." "No one will invest here if we pressure them too much and push them to the wall," Cerge Remonde apparently said. I think he doesn't understand foreign investors. I do, and respectable foreign investors, the kind we want, will be more deterred by a government that treats human life so cavalierly than one that sweeps human deaths under the rug to protect a few dollars.

But I agree it's not the role of the Senate to investigate, there are enough laws to protect workers. It is the role of Department of Labor and Employment to conduct an investigation and to demand a change of management, even closure of the yard, if they can't protect Filipino lives. Government inspectors should be assigned full time to monitor this callous company.

This is a government that has also allowed Sulpicio Lines to keep sailing despite 45 maritime incidents (in the past 28 years) resulting in 5,700 people either dead or forever missing. Has Philippine life become so cheap that a few deaths caused by uncaring management no longer matters? It would certainly seem so. My driver lost his wife because the callous hospital would not do a blood transfusion until they received P1,600. I rushed it to him-too late, she was dead.

That is the value of a Philippine life: P1,600. What value does Hanjin or Sulpicio put on the life of a Filipino? You don't put a cost on a human life, but they apparently do.

I agree with National Economic and Development Authority. It's crazy to be laying off government workers now. Here we are in the midst of the worst crisis we've ever seen, with a government promising to do everything possible to protect jobs, and to provide jobs, and to offer lifeline assistance to those without jobs-then it wants to fire its own workers. Crazy.

The rationalization of all government offices made eminent sense in 2004 when it was first conceived, it makes absolutely no sense in 2009 when the world is a far different place. Incidentally, did you note the dates: 2004 to 2009. It took five years just to get started to rationalize. If this was a business, the business would have failed by now. The CEO of a company in the private sector would have the heads of some people for such failure. There would have been a deadline-maybe five months (not years) in this case-and the deadline would have been met because the CEO's managers would all be professionals trained and experienced in their jobs and cognizant of the importance of acting in time.

The real national hero is not Manny Pacquiao, it's Wesley So, the 15-year-old chess grandmaster. What a magnificent feat-I'll pick brains over brawn anytime. Which is not to denigrate Manny's success but to point out how much attention he gets versus how little Wesley does. Mind you, my dad was world bridge champion and my uncle world chess champion so I'm a bit biased, but nonetheless Wesley deserves a red carpet too.

By the way, will we now need to go barefoot to any meeting with a country leader now two shoes have been thrown.

Feb 06, 2009

Tacloban City gov't earmarks P23 M for mini-gym projects

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The City Government of Tacloban has allocated around P2.3 million for the construction, repair, and rehabilitation of eight mini-gymnasiums in different barangays in the city.

This was disclosed by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

Based on data furnished by his office, the city government has set aside P600, 000 for the construction of mini-gyms in Barangays 12 and 94-A; P600 for of mini-gyms (column and roofing) in Brgys. 103 and 106; P300, 000 for the rehabilitation of Sagkahan Gym in Brgy. 64; P300, 000 for the roofing of mini-gym in Brgy. 97; and P300, 000 for the construction of a mini-gym in Brgy. 105.

"Considering their importance in the barangays, we are going to fast-track their implementation. I will see to it that all would be finished before this year ends," Mayor Romualdez stressed.

Aside from those mini-gyms, Mayor Romualdez also revealed that the city government will also implement this year other projects intended to help residents in all 138 barangays in the city.

Among those projects, according to him, are installation of street lights, construction and installation of water system, repair of health centers, construction of barangay halls, public toilets, and day care centers.

Feb 04, 2009

Regional Wildlife Rescue Center and Mini-Zoo soon to rise in Tacloban

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Tacloban City Environment Office, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the office of Leyte First District Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, will proceed with the putting up this year of the first-ever Regional Wildlife Rescue Center and Mini-Zoo in Brgy. Salvacion, this city.

In an interview Monday, City Environment Officer Jonathan Hijada said the City ENRO and partners have finalized plans for the project.

"Only the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between project partners is needed before project implementation can proceed," Hijada pointed out.

Hijada said that the MOA signing for the project, which is fully supported by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, would be done anytime this month.

A first of its kind in the entire Eastern Visayas, the rescue center is intended primarily to be the temporary repository for abandoned and illegally traded wildlife in different parts of the region.

Wildlife species, especially the endangered ones, confiscated by DENR or the police, will be put in cages inside a 50-hectare spread and assigned personnel will care for them until they are well enough and conditioned to be returned back to their natural habitats, it was learned.

Aside from being a temporary repository for rescued animals, the center is also geared to become an eco-tourism destination in the future.

"We are looking into attracting droves of animal lovers and eco-tourists to the site. This rescue center was designed to eventually become an income-generating project that will benefit many, especially the people living near the area," the city environment officer concluded.

Feb 02, 2009

TCPS bags "City police station of the year" award

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Owing to its highly successful campaign against criminality and impressive operational and administrative accomplishments, the Tacloban City Police was adjudged for the second straight year as the "City Police Station of the Year" by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office 8.

Tacloban City Police Chief Romulo Cleve Taboso personally received a plaque for bagging the award from PNP Regional Director Abner Cabalquinto during the PNP Day celebration held at PNP RO 8 headquarters, Campetic, Palo on Thursday, Jan. 29.

The TCPS outperformed police stations in five other cities in the region in terms of accomplishments to win the coveted plum.

Among major accomplishments of the TCPS in 2008 were the neutralization of 32 wanted persons, apprehension of 10 suspected drug pushers and the confiscation of nearly P200,000 worth of illegal drugs, and the arrest of 16 individuals allegedly involved in illegal gambling operations.

Also, its success in bringing down drastically the crime rate in the city was cited as one of the main factors in its winning the award.

Per statistics supplied by the police, lesser number of crimes happened in 2008 as compared to 2007.

In 2007, 237 crime incidents were recorded, while last 2008, only 154 crime incidents occurred, which represents 83 less crime incidents and 34. 29 % reduction in the crime rate.

"The award is a testament to the outstanding leadership of Chief Taboso and the dedication to duty of TCPS personnel," said TCPS PCR chief Analito Amoroto.

He added that TCPS would not be receiving the award without the strong support of Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

Since 2007, the city government has donated 10 assault rifles, 10 motorcycles, patrols cars, radios, mountain bikes, and computers to the TCP.

<<< FEB (24-28) 2009 NEWS




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