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Feb 29, 2008

Thousands join anti-Arroyo rallies in key Visayas cities

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Carla P. Gomez, Joey A. Gabieta and Jani Arnaiz - Philippines

ILOILO CITY -- Thousands of people from the religious, the academe and the youth sectors joined prayer rallies in the three cities in the Visayas.

In Iloilo City, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, joined around 1,000 protesters, mostly coming from religious and militant groups and professionals, in a one-kilometer protest march.

"I view (the protests) as a sign that civil society, our young people, are waking up to the demands of truth and justice in our governments," Lagdameo said in an interview on the grounds of the Iloilo provincial capitol where the inter-faith rally was held.

He said the protest action indicated that the people are waking up. When people are fully awake, "there will be greater demands on them (government)," Lagdameo added.

The prelate said many people expect the protests to escalate.

Although he joined the march dubbed "Walk for Truth and Justice" from the grounds of the St. Clement's Church in La Paz District around 800 meters from the provincial capitol, Lagdameo requested organizers that he not be asked to speak during the rally.

This was the first time that the 67-year-old prelate has joined protest marches since he became Archbishop of Jaro on May 2000.

"My walking with the people in solidarity with them is already a statement that I have in my heart their own sentiments," said Lagdameo when asked why he joined the march.

Groups that joined the protest included the Philippine Independent Church, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Jesus Is Lord Movement, Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, as well as militant groups, including the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and the women's group Gabriela.

In Bacolod City, Pastor Emilio Henares of the River of Life Church prayed to the Lord to cast out what he described as the evil in Malacañang at an interfaith rally at the Bacolod Public Plaza.

About 3,000 persons, mostly students, participated in the rally for truth, justice and righteousness but the crowd failed to surpass the 10,000 at a Bacolod rally on Monday.

Catholic, Protestant and Philippine Independent Church pastors and priests prayed for the nation, government officials, the President, military, witnesses and righteous leaders at the plaza.

They also held a solidarity march to the Provincial Capitol Lagoon for the casting out of evil in government, releasing of doves and singing the protest hymn "Bayan Ko" (My Country).

"GMA [the President's initials] and her men have remained in power because we have tolerated them. Allowing evil to persist is placing the future on a tightrope," said a statement from the Negros Ecumenical Movement.

Catholic priests and nuns, Protestant and the Philippine Independent Church comprise the Negros Ecumenical Movement.

In Cebu City, about 500 students and members of militant groups held a protest rally in the Fuente Osmeña Circle in Cebu City.

In Tacloban City, Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo expressed his elation over the students' activism in joining the call for the ouster of embattled President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Ocampo attended on Friday morning a forum on the current political situation held at the UP-Tacloban campus and attended by students coming from different colleges and the urban poor groups in the city.

But in Maasin City, Southern Leyte Gov. Damian Mercado appealed to his constituents to support President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo even as he called for a mass for unity, peace and sobriety amidst a massive rally calling for the resignation of the President.

Mercado said the President has done so much for the province especially in infrastructure. "We will be all affected if we heed the call of the minority," he added.

Feb 28, 2008

Continuous heavy downpour in Region 8 leaves 18 dead, 3missing, 36 injured

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The continues rains prevailing in Eastern Visayas even as of presstime, has left 18 persons dead, 3 missing, and 36 others injured, the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council reported.

As of 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon of February 27, OCD 8 Director Salvador Estudillo, informed that Eastern Samar had the highest death toll with 13 out of the 18 reported. Of the 13 deaths, 2 are reported to be from Borongan City; 1 in Can-Avid; 3 in Dolores; 1 in Jipapad; 3 in Maydolong; 1 in San Julian; and 1 in Taft.

One death was reported in Pinabacdao, Samar; 1 in Culaba, Biliran and 3 in Leyte with 1 each from Babatngon, Dulag and Tacloban City.

Of the 4 persons missing in Eastern Samar, the one missing in Guiuan town was found alive, leaving only three persons missing.

All the 36 persons who have been reported as injured, are all from the various municipalities of Eastern Samar.

The dead, missing and injured persons have been identified except the 17 injured from Maydolong, Eastern Samar, Director Estudillo said.

A total of 66,310 families or 335,235 persons in 723 barangays in 5 provinces of Eastern Visayas, have already been affected by the heavy rains that continue to prevail in the Region.

The province of Eastern Samar accounts for 34,950 families or 173,909 persons in 378 barangays of 23 municipalities. Samar accounts for 12, 387 families or 66,276 persons in 144 barangays of 9 municipalities and 2 cities; while Northern Samar accounts for 2,571 families, or 12, 383 persons in 38 barangays of 5 municipalities.

The province of Leyte has a total of 16,402 families affected or 82,607 persons in 154 barangays of 14 municipalities and 1 city; while the province of Biliran accounts for 1 family or 5 persons in 1 barangay of Culaba town.

A total of 722 houses in the Region have been totally destroyed while 3,300 houses have been partially damaged.

RDCC 8 cautions the people in the Region to continue to be vigilant as the inclement heavy rains continue to pour in the area.

Feb 28, 2008

Multicab dubbed "poor man's taxi" launched

By Sarwell Q. Meniano


TACLOBAN CITY -- After pioneering the assembly of tricycles and multicabs in the country, the Norkis Group has come up with the "poor man's taxi."

The vehicle, called Spider, was described as a "multi-transport hybrid" of the multicab. It can seat eight and is powered by a 660cc Daihatsu engine. For only P10 and an additional P5 for every kilometer after five kilometers, a passenger can enjoy the services of a taxi through the Spider.

"It's a poor man's taxi. At a rate of P10, one will enjoy the privilege of door-to-door service," said Benjamin Pesons, Norkis area sales manager for Eastern Visayas.

Norkis has tied up with JEGA Corp., which has applied before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for a franchise to operate 20 Spider taxis in Tacloban.

Mr. Pesons said the company will offer the vehicle to other operators as well. The main mode of transportation in Tacloban City is still the tricycle, a motorcycle with a side car made by Norkis.

Outside the city's business district, the main mode of transport is the multicab, a small passenger jeepney assembled by Norkis from used engines and components from Japan.

"We started in Tacloban because we've seen the demand for public transportation. This is in support to the thrust of the government to develop the tourism industry particularly in rural areas," Mr. Pesons said in a press conference.

After Tacloban, the poor man's taxi will also be introduced in key cities and provinces through Norkis' retail network of 200 branches and service centers, 200 satellite branches, and 600 dealers.

The introduction of the poor man's taxi has drawn objections from multicab and tricycle operators and drivers. They have told the LTFRB that granting a franchise to JEGA for the Spider units will "substantially prejudice the incumbent operators and would [further congest the already congested] routes within the city."

Ronel Ticoy, legal counsel of JEGA, responded: "I don't see any reason for the transport group to oppose because we have a different route and type of service."

Norkis officials said the Spider is spacious, comfortable, safe and fuel-efficient. It is sold for P188,000 for automatic transmission and P198,000 for manual transmission with a six-month warranty and guaranteed lifetime spare parts availability. The car weighs 735 kilograms.

Feb 23, 2008

Commentary: PGMA is focused on the laser beam of the economy

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said that she is "focused on the laser beam of the economy of the country. This is the President's answer to a local media practitioner's question on how she is taking the political hullabaloo in Manila.

The President said that the focusing on the economy paved way to the achievement of a 7.3 economic growth rate. Thus, the President stressed that "we must not allow other 'agenda' to destruct us from our focus."

President Arroyo dropped by Tacloban City in the province of Leyte on her way to Dolores, Eastern Samar where she is scheduled to see for herself, how the government will be able to help the flood-stricken town of Dolores, Eastern Samar which have been reported to be mostly affected by the flooding brought about by the continuous heavy rains that prevailed in the Region for many days this month of February.

The provinces of Eastern Visayas were greatly affected by the incessant heavy rains which caused flooding and landslide; and brought damage to lives, infrastructure and agriculture. Eastern Samar has been reported to have been isolated from Tacloban because of the destruction to roads and bridges.

At the VIP Lounge of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City, the President had a brief interaction with the media. Aside from the media practitioners, hundreds of people from various municipalities of Leyte were at the airport to meet and show their support to the President.

Many of the local government leaders were also present: most of the Congressmen in Region 8 were there to meet the President, Leyte Congressmen Martin Romualdez, Ebbie Apostol, Andres Salvacion Jr.; Samar Congressmen Reynaldo Uy and Sharie Ann Tan; Southern Leyte Congressman Damian Mercado; and Biliran Congressman Glenn Chong, and Waray Party List Congressman Bembem Noel.

Also present to meet the President were Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla, LMP Leyte President Roque Tiu and other local and regional government officials.

National Officials present were PA for Eastern Visayas Victor Domingo, PAGCOR Vice President Remedios L. Petilla, Commissioner Aurel Menzon, and Sec. Serge Apostol who came in with DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral came in with the President.

The President was scheduled to be with the media for 15 minutes only but this was extended as the President pleasantly accommodated the other questions from the local media.

Feb 23, 2008

Eastern Visayas flooding death toll now 17

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Eastern Visayas has reported that the death toll from the floods that hit the region has now reached 17, with over 500,000 persons affected.

Leticia Corillo, regional DSWD-8 director, said 10 of the fatalities were from Eastern Samar while the rest were from Samar and the Leyte provinces.

Corillo said the Eastern Samar fatalities included three each in the towns of Borongan and Maydolong, two in Dolores, and one each in the towns of Can-avid, Gen. MacArthur, San Julian, Taft and Jipapad. The other casualties were from Pinabacdao, Samar; and one each from Palo, Culaba and Dulag, all in Leyte.

At least 12 persons, 10 of them were from Maydolong, Eastern Samar, were reported injured were injured. The two other injured persons were from Borongan and Gen. MacArthur.

Three persons, all coastal residents, remained missing -- one from Maydolong and two from Guiuan, both in Eastern Samar.

Corillo also reported that the flooding that hit the Eastern Visayas region has affected 100,922 families or 500,205 individuals with Eastern Samar having the highest number of affected families at 34,950 or 173,969 persons.

About 25,380 families or 137,237 persons were affected by the floods that hit Samar province and 22,712 families of 101,852 individuals in Northern Samar.

In Leyte, 13,028 families or 65,974 individuals were affected, the DSWD report said.

In Tacloban City, Corillo said they assisted 4,086 families (16,633 persons) who had to be evacuated from flooded areas. Another 765 families or 4,535 individuals in Calbayog City were also reported to have been affected.

Feb 22, 2008

Arroyo to visit flood-hit Eastern Samar on Saturday


President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is scheduled to visit flood-ravaged areas in Eastern Samar province on Saturday to see for herself the effects of the damage on the residents in the region.

A Malacañang statement Friday afternoon said President Arroyo will also bring relief goods and to order the immediate implementation of government intervention to rehabilitate the province.

She is scheduled to arrive in Tacloban City at 10 a.m. and will take a chopper to have an aerial view of the extent of damage wrought by rains in past weeks.

The chopper will land in Dolores town, where she will get a briefing from disaster management council officials on the damage.

Mrs Arroyo is then expected to give P20,000 each to families of those who died in the floods and landslides. She will also bring 25,000 meals to be served to the displaced families.

Initial assessment reports show that 350 of 597 villages of the province were severely affected by massive flooding, while 32,642 families or 163,604 individuals were displaced.

Maslog and Jipapad towns remain isolated and underwater, even as damage to agriculture was initially placed at P64 million.

Feb 22, 2008

Region 8 agencies pool forces to aid Eastern Samar flood victims

By Gigi P. Montejo

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The government sector here in Region 8 have pooled together its forces in extending relief assistance to flood victims of Eastern Samar.

The Office of Civil Defense - Region 8, executive officer of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council reported this afternoon that relief goods - sacks of rice, canned goods, noodles and assorted medicines distributed to the flood victims came from the various government agencies like the Department of Health, Office of the Presidential Assistant for Eastern Visayas, Office of the Eastern Samar Representative to Congress and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The Department of Agriculture on the other hand had finalized its inventory of available "good seeds" regionwide in anticipation of a surge in the seed requirements of the displaced farmers of the four provinces affected by this flooding.

It has also set aside P3 million from the GMA rice program continuing fund for the implementation of a post-calamity special subsidy and input assistance program with counterparts from the Local Government Units.

The Department of Public Works and Highways likewise is undertaking rehabilitation works such as grading and reshaping of unpaved road, clearing landslide, installing of footbridge for pedestrian use and other restoration works.

Region 8 government sector see to it that their disaster management will be of use especially at this time.

Feb 22, 2008

DOH-8 advocates four S to fight dengue/H3

By Gay B. Gaspay

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Now that the rainy season is being experienced in the entire Eastern Visayas region for couple of weeks already, the Department of Health (DOH) regional office 8 has advocated the four (4) S to get away with the Dengue Fever.

During the launching of the National Anti-Dengue Campaign and press conference held at SMED recently, they emphasizes the four S as an effective way in preventing the occurrence of dengue hemorrhagic fever.

According to DOH-8 Regional Director Teogenes Baluma, the four S are: Search and destroy breeding places; Self Protection measures; Seek early consultation and Say NO to indiscriminate fogging.

The community has a great role in the search and destroy aspect of preventing the Dengue fever, he added. Meaning, the people in the barangay should help in the searching and destroying the breeding places of dengue causing mosquitoes which maybe found in old tires, coconut husks, roof gutters, discarded bottles, flower vases and other containers that can hold clean stagnant waters. These containers are good breeding places of female AEDES AEGYPTI mosquitoes, day biting female mosquitoes which are responsible in transmitting the dengue virus to human beings.

Self protection measures, on the other hand include protecting ourselves from bites of the mosquito by wearing long sleeves and long pants and using mosquito repellants.

While, seek early consultation should be done when a person exhibit early signs such as high grade fever which may last two (2) to seven (7) days, appearance of skin rashes called petechiae,described as maculopapular rash or red tiny spots on the skin. Other symptoms such as joint & muscle pain behind the eyes, weakness, and the occurrence of nosebleeding when fever starts to subside, abdominal pain, vomiting coffee-colored matter and dark-colored stools.

And say NO to Indiscriminate Fogging, for fogging according to him is only advisable and recommended only during outbreaks and epidemics, Dir. Baluma further said, fogging only kills the adult infected mosquito but not the larvae or the kiti-kiti, which also carry the virus. Fogging will just drive away other mosquitoes to transfer to another place for breeding.

During epidemics fogging is done early morning (6:30-8:30am.) or late afternoon (4-6pm) when dengue mosquitoes are most active and done at least 300 meter radius from the house where dengue case is located.

DOH is now on its year round dengue advocacy campaign since records show that during the previous years cases of dengue in Eastern Visayas had this three year cycle notably increasing cases in 2005 and decreased in 2006-2007 by 42% and recent data showed that cases had again increased from January to February 2008. Out of the 49 cases in Region 8, two died of dengue one in Baybay and the other in Catarman. Director Baluma said.

He encourages the community participation especially those from the barangay level to be vigilant in destroying the breeding places of mosquitoes by throwing away stagnant clean waters in containers and to practice the 4 o'clock habit of cleaning the surroundings and backyards in order to help the entire place or locality in preventing the spread of dengue hemorrhagic fever.

To add on to its advocacy campaign, a motorcade went around the city of Tacloban yesterday with the Dengue mosquito mascot as its main attraction.

Feb 19, 2008

Landslides, floods isolate most of Eastern Samar

By Vicente Labro, Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Landslides and floods caused by nine days of incessant rain have isolated most of Eastern Samar.

Gov. Ben Evardone on Monday said the province became isolated on Sunday night after landslides blocked the Wright-Taft road section in the middle of Samar island, which links his province to Samar.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development said the continuous days of rain, brought by the low pressure area in Northern Mindanao and the cold front, have affected 8,973 families in the towns of Dolores, General MacArthur, Jipapad, Maslog and Borongan City.

Rep. Teodulo Coquilla of the lone district of Eastern Samar also reported that farmlands in his hometown of Oras and nearby Dolores, Can-avid, Jipapad and Taft in the northern part of the province were flooded after big rivers in these areas overflowed.

Coquilla said he also learned that Borongan City and Llorente were hit by floods.

Many villagers in far-flung areas, especially those residing near rivers, had moved to higher ground or to the mountains, he said.

"The situation is very bad," he said in a radio interview.

As of Monday, Coquilla said heavy rains continued to pour.

Initial reports received by Evardone's office showed that about 20,000 hectares of farmlands in four villages of Balangkayan town were flooded.

A farm-to-market road was washed out while two wooden bridges in Llorente were damaged.

In Giporlos town, Mayor Mateo Biong reported that the flood destroyed crops worth about P500,000.

Elsewhere in Eastern Visayas, the continuous rainfall caused flooding in Silvino Lubos town in Northern Samar and in the towns of Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa, Alangalang and Dagami in Leyte.

Leyte Gov. Jericho Petilla said there were no reports of major evacuation in the province except that some people were stranded due to floods in areas near rivers.

The flooding affected nearly 400 families from Tacloban City, Palo and Dagami towns in Leyte.

Angel Sia, maintenance engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways regional office, reported that as of 11:30 a.m. on Monday, the Macabot Bridge in Gen. MacArthur town, the Wright-Taft road and the Tacloban-Catbalogan route remained impassable.

Feb 17, 2008

The all new Gaisano Capital Mall in Tacloban gets a face

by Mrs. Arlene Schmidt 

As we have reported earlier the management of the Gaisano Superstores, presently being the biggest shopping center in the city, is set to construct its own building as part of its expansion within the year.

This is the newest layout on how it's supposed to look like once completed, as seen on the homepage of it's architect,
Domark Ybañez Paquibot:

The new location of the shopping center will be along the Real Street. The construction of the new Gaisano could bring in around P500 million for the city.

Feb 17, 2008

Disaster councils alerted as heavy rains hit Eastern Visayas

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, -- The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Eastern Visayas has advised local officials in the region to activate their disaster coordinating councils (DCCs) following reports of floods and landslides in some towns caused by incessant rains.

Rey Gozon, OCD-8 operations officer, said he issued an advisory on Friday asking local government units (LGUs) to activate their respective DCCs to address flooding and landslides in their respective areas.

Gozon said several barangays (villages) in different towns in Leyte are flooded due to the continuous rains since last week. Heavy rains inundated nine villages in the town of Palo, three in Tanauan town, another three in Tolosa and one in Dagami, Gozon said.

"But we have yet to receive reports as of this time of any evacuation," Gozon said.

Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla, chair of the provincial disaster coordinating council, said he already directed all mayors in the province to activate their respective DCCs to avert any possible loss of lives.

"We have already identified possible evacuation centers which are mostly public schools," Petilla said.

Gozon said several minor landslide incidents were also reported in Barangay San Isidro, Paranas, Samar, and Barangay Paco, Quinapondan and Barangay Biga, Giporlos, both in Eastern Samar.

Gozon said they asked the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways to conduct clearing operations in the landslide affected areas.

The low pressure area felt in Northern Mindanao brought the continuous rains to Eastern Visayas, Gozon said.

The OCD-8 also advised all fishing vessels and small sea craft not to venture to open seas due to the "rough to very rough sea condition."

Feb 17, 2008

Population control clashes with LGU's IRA

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The population management program of the national government is facing an unlikely opponent: leaders of the local government units (LGUs).

Susan Tejada, chief of the Commission on Population (Popcom) in Eastern Visayas explained that local officials become hesitant to support the population control program because they do not want their much-coveted internal revenue allotment shares, which are calculated based on population and other factors, reduced.

Tejada said there have been local officials in Eastern Visayas who oppose the population management program because it could result to "depopulation" and thus reduce their IRA shares.

IRA, or the share of LGUs in the total internal revenue collection, is a major source of funds for local governments.

"You see, population is one of the factors that are considered in determining how much a local government unit would receive for its IRA share. With less population, their shares of IRA will expectedly decrease. That could be their thinking" for not supporting the population management program Tejada said.

Aside from population, land area of the locality is also considered in calculating the IRA share.

Tejada said the commission can only hope that local leaders would eventually "understand and see the good side of the program."

"I just hope that they will support our program considering that it is a national policy laid down under the administration of President [Gloria] Macapagal-Arroyo," she added.

The national government, in its effort to lower the country's 2.36 growth rate to just 1.9 percent, is pushing for the implementation of natural birth control methods while giving local government units a free hand to set aside funds for the procurement of contraceptives.

Tejada explained that with a smaller but healthy population, local leaders could use their limited resources to fund programs and projects that would benefit the entire populace, other than procuring medicines.

The regional Popcom director cited several mayors in the region who have been supporting the population management program, such as Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento.

Tacloban City population officer Cielito Esquibel said Mayor Alfred Romualdez has been supporting the population management program, adding that all their requests related to their program easily got approval from the mayor.

Feb 16, 2008

Tacloban makes history as first LGU to finance a goverment project under BOT scheme

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is making history by proposing to DOTC that Tacloban City will finance the rehabilitation of the Terminal Building of the Tacloban Airport, under the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) Scheme.

This will make Tacloban City become known in history to be the first Local Government Unit (LGU) to finance a National Government Project under the BOT Scheme, Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento who is RDC 8 Chair announced during the recent meeting of the Regional Development Council of Eastern Visayas.

Mayor Sarmiento informed that he was at the DOTC last week to follow up on the Tacloban Airport Rehabilitation Project. He said that DOTC has already allotted P552 Million for 2008 for the continuation of the asphalt overlay of runway, construction of offshore protection, construction of security fence, strip grade correction, site development at new terminal complex including access road construction of perimeter fence for the VOR and rehabilitation of existing terminal building.

The City Government of Tacloban is proposing that it finance the construction of the Terminal Building under the BOT Scheme. After 15 years, it will be turned over to the Air Transportation Office. In the meantime, the city Government will be the one to collect the concessioners' fees, the terminal fees and the other fees that are being collected at the airport.

City Administrator Jimjim Yaokasin when reached by the Philippine Information Agency said that the City Government of Tacloban has already submitted the MOA to DOTC which promised that the reviewed copy will be sent back to Tacloban before the end of the month.

Asked how much money the City will be spending for the Terminal Building, Mr. Yaokasin said more or less P250 Million.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez informed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo about the City's plan when she was in Tacloban in November. She immediately directed Secretary Serge Remunde to follow it up with the DOTC and fast track the project.

Mayor Sarmiento said that the Tacloban Airport is very important and crucial for the development not only of Tacloban, the province of Leyte but the whole of
Region 8.

Feb 16, 2008

Heavy rains take toll on Eastern Visayas

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The continuous rains in Eastern Visayas brought about by the Low Pressure Area northeast of Northern Mindanao has started to bring about flooding and minor landslides in some parts of the Region.

On February 15, reports coming from the Philippine Information Agency in Eastern Samar and confirmed by the Office of Civil Defense Region 8, stated that some 70 students, five teachers and parent were stranded since the evening of February 14, in an upstream barangay of San Jose, Borongan City, after the wooden bridge connecting the barangay to the mainland collapsed as a result of the continuous heavy rains in the area.

The same report stated that the school held its Juniors-Seniors Prom in the evening of February 14.

The Office of Civil Defense reported that the stranded people have already been rescued. The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council of Eastern Samar met noon of Friday and observed that some flooding and minor landslides in several municipalities.

A minor landslide was noted in the municipality of San Julian while in Barangay Naparaan in Salcedo town, a landslide rendered one portion of the road unpassable to commuters. The crew from the Department of Public Highways Borongan District Office immediately cleared the debris.

Flooding in several areas of Northern Samar was also reported by the Office of Civil Defense. Some portions of the roads were also reported to have been damaged because of the rains.

In the Province of Leyte, the Office of Civil Defense said it has already received reports of flooding in the municipalities of Palo, Tanauan and Dagami. The same report said that in the evening of February 14, the people at Barangay Sta. Elena has to be evacuated because of the rising flood waters.

The Regional Disaster Coordinating Council reiterated its call for all the barangay, municipal and provincial disaster coordinating councils to continue to be vigilant, to continuously monitor their areas so that they can immediately evacuate the constituents in the flood-prone areas. They are also requested to report to the RDCC any damage or occurrences of disasters in their respective areas so they could be attended to immediately.

Feb 16, 2008

DOH launches "ToDOH Laban Sa Dengue" campaign on February 21

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The Department of Health will conduct on February 21, a nationwide simultaneous launching of the DOH Anti-Dengue Campaign dubbed as "ToDOH Laban sa Dengue," DOH 8 Director Tiogenes Baluma informed.

The intensified campaign against dengue was brought about by the increase in the incidence of dengue fever cases in many parts of the country in the first month of 2008.

Among the various activities identified during the launching day, is the Motorcade around Tacloban City major thoroughfares, which will be participated by the different stakeholders who have been requested to come up with a placard or streamer to be displayed in their vehicles and subsequently posted in their respective offices.

Other activities include a press conference, radio plugs, series of lectures and other social mobilization activities.

The February 21 activity will also serve as the launching of the Aedes mascot. The mascot will be aided with a "barker" and will be going around in barangays to call on residents to follow the steps in fighting dengue.

These steps include search and destroy mosquito-breeding sites, self-protection measures, seeking early treatment, and saying no to indiscriminate fogging.

The prevention of dengue is simple, Dr. Baluma said; it all boils down to cleanliness of the surroundings especially areas and things where water could become stagnant and where mosquitoes could breed.

Director Baluma added that for the children especially the small ones who are just at home, it would be good if they wear long pants or pajamas and long sleeves tops so that they will not be bitten by mosquitoes which are the carrier of dengue.

The occurrence of dengue is no longer only confined to the known wet and rainy months of the year anymore because in some parts of the country, rain comes even during the dry season and summer time.

This is one of the effects of global warming, Director Baluma said. When the weather is warm, the mosquitoes will need to bite more because they are more active and so they seek for food. When the weather is cold or during raining season, the mosquitoes will have faster breeding time.

Feb 09, 2008

Organizer of the
scandalous (!?) Tanauan Bikini Open Competition defending himself against accusations

by Mrs. Arlene Schmidt

This Bikini Open Competition was held just last December 30, 2007 as a part of the nightly attraction of the 4th National Skimboarding Open Competition (see previously posted related articles below
), organized by the Local Government Unit (LGU).

The Bikini Open Competition made waves as some visitors of this event raised their voice and accused the organizers of this event of "exploiting young women in a hotly-contested showcase of flesh to the delight of the audience composed mostly of men", in a "vulgar and indecently choreographed lewd show".

The "
offensive show" was "a sight of lust and basic instinct in men all trying to get a slice of the best meat" which "offend the taste of everyone" and projected "images of easy laid girls".

With those "
wildly primitive" and "shameful acts" Tanauan supposedly gained the title of not only being the Skimboarding Capital of the Philippines but also as an "Exploiter of Women".

Such badly accused and severely critisized, one of the main sponsors of the event, namely the SPAWN ORGANIZATION, felt empelled to answer back and gave the following statement:

"We, the SPAWN ORGANIZATION, being the responsible and sponsor of the programs and shows of the 4th National Skimboarding Competition would like to clear and speak out our side regarding the "Bikini Open" being tagged and labeled as an "Indecent Show". First, the show is aimed for entertainment with an artistic approach and it was. We would like to ask about the categories when we can say that a show is indecent. For us it is ridiculous, thinking that the competition itself speaks of its kind, "Bikini Open". What kind of show that will come into one's mind when we say "Bikini Open"? An opinionated article shows up in this blogsite citing it as an indecent show? We actually understand that each individual think differently and maybe the writer was just judgmental, thinking on the way he thinks and perhaps we conclude that it is a one-sided story.

Another is the issue on "exploiting women". For the information of everybody, all the candidates willingly and freely present their selves to join the competition and were given instructions that every competition in the show, they can present themselves on the matter of what they want to do and what they want to express and some regulations were added and all candidates agreed with it. With that we actually can't see any exploitation and harassment. Again depending on how people perceive and see it in ways.

Regarding children around, we would like to give an emphasis to this especially to the writer of the article that practically and logically it is the look-out and responsibility of the parents and guardians because first and foremost they know that during that night, the show was "Bikini Open" and it was already posted, announced and disseminated trough posters, streamers and media ads. So, it is due responsibility of the parents and guardians why they brought their children to that competition. Besides there were shows like Kaadlawan Festival, Leyte Idol, musical nights with local artists, acoustic nights, etc. which is much preferable for children to watch. Why bring children to that certain night in which it is a competition of wearing bikinis?

In behalf of the group, we are sorry for the people who think of it differently but our main aim is pure entertainment in an artistic manner and to tell everybody, it was a good and unforgettable show. Expect much greater show in the near future. The group also suggested that opinionated and one-man consensus regarding of something is not quite good. We are asking for the responsible person of this blogsite to please regulate well articles and we are looking for impartial and fair writings for the development of Tanauan and for the benefit of the Tanauananons.

To Mark Moron, Jimbo Cumpio and the rest of the organizing body, we salute you all. It's better to think bigger and better rather to think with an envious mind. For all the readers of the article entitled "Is Tanauan a haven for indecent show", try to search the web for other bikini open in and out of the country and compare it with the one we had in Tanauan, it's up to you to judge if in this manner indecency is being argued. Just be open-minded.

Thank you and more power!"



Feb 04, 2008

LGU exec tells cities: Don't block progress of new cities

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- An official of the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) in Eastern Visayas urged city mayors on Monday to drop their opposition to the creation of new cities and allow new cities to attain economic growth through a bigger share of national tax collections or the Internal Revenue Allotment.

Teresita Atuel, BLGF assistant regional director, said the newly created cities had the right to economic development.

"The people (of these towns) have spoken that they wanted their municipalities to become cities. The city mayors must respect this and allow these newly converted cities chart their own destinies and to develop economically," Atuel said.

In Eastern Visayas, the new cities include Baybay in Leyte, Catbalogan in Samar and Borongan in Eastern Samar. The other cities in the region include the cities of Ormoc and Tacloban in Leyte, Maasin in Southern Leyte and Calbayog in Samar.

Atuel said she understood why the city mayors were opposing the creation of 16 new cities in 2007 as this reduced their IRA shares in 2008. But she said such a reason should not be used as basis in blocking the means by which new urban areas could attain economic growth.

"We should be happy that these towns have been converted into cities. This only means that there is a development taking place in these areas. We are supportive of the creation of these new cities," she said.

Atuel suggested that the city mayors look for alternative sources of revenue to offset the decrease of their internal revenue allotment (IRA).

"We are encouraging them to intensify their tax collection and not depend on their IRA shares. If they could collect more taxes, then it will help generate more revenues which they can use in the delivery of services and fund their projects for the benefit of their constituents," Atuel said.

She clarified that all the converted cities, including the three new cities in the region, met all the necessary requirements like income of P100 million.

"We have made an assessment of the (financial) capacity of these towns and they all met the requirement," Atuel said.

Patrick Postrero, planning and development officer of the City of Baybay also appealed to the mayors of existing mayors to stop their opposition.

Postrero noted that Baybay, 110 kilometers from Tacloban City, met the P100-million requirement for cityhood since it had P90 million in IRA share and about P30 million from local tax sources.

The Local Government Code mandates that a town should have a locally generated income of at least P100 million and either a land area of at least 100 square kilometers or a population of 150,000.

Postrero, however, admitted that there has been no increase in the IRA of Baybay because they were still in the process of complying the bureaucratic requirements like creation of new offices such as the office of city administrator and city prosecutor's office.

"And we have just converted our tax ordinance from municipality tax ordinance to that of a city ordinance," he said.

The League of Cities of the Philippines registered its opposition on the conversion of new cities in the country on the ground that their share on internal revenue allotment would be drastically reduced.

Calbayog City Mel Senen Sarmiento, LCP secretary general, said that with the creation of 16 new cities in 2007, Calbayog would lose P70 million of its IRA share for 2008. Tacloban would also lose more than P32 million of its IRA share.

Feb 02, 2008

2 deaths raise alert on dengue

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Department of Health in Eastern Visayas stepped up a campaign against dengue fever after two children died of the mosquito-borne disease.

Boyd Cerro, DOH regional sentinel nurse, said two 4-year-old girls died of dengue fever. The fatalities came from Baybay City, Leyte and Catbalogan, Samar.

Cerro said the DOH regional epidemiology surveillance unit reported that there were 22 cases of dengue fever throughout the region in January.

Tacloban City had five cases, the highest in the region in January. However, this is lower than the 23 cases and three deaths the city registered the same month last year, Cerro said.

Last year, Eastern Visayas had 1,231 dengue fever cases with eight deaths.

A dengue fever outbreak was also declared last year in Pambujan town, Northern Samar, that killed three children and afflicted 129 others.

Cerro said continuing rains in the region for the past several weeks led to an "increase of breeding places" of dengue fever-causing mosquitoes.

"This is basically an environmental problem," Cerro said.

Fogging, he said, was an ineffective tool against dengue.

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