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Jan 14, 2009

Tacloban City Police bares accomplishments in 2008

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The year 2008 has been a good year for the Tacloban City Police (TCP) under Chief of Police Romulo Cleve Taboso.

Sr. Insp. Analito Amoroto, Tacloban police community relations chief, said that numerous apprehensions, significant strides in law enforcement, effectiveness in maintaining peace and order, and success in winning over communities through civic action topped the TCP's accomplishments in 2008.

Based on the TCP 2008 Accomplishment Report, a total of 32 wanted persons were nabbed by the police last year.

In its anti-illegal drugs campaign, TCP personnel conducted ten operations that resulted in the arrest of 10 suspected drug pushers, seizure of nearly P200, 000 worth of marijuana leaves and shabu, and the filing of nine cases against the suspects.

Regarding illegal gambling, a total of 12 anti-illegal gambling operations were conducted that resulted in the arrest of 16 gamblers and bettors. The operations also resulted in the confiscation of bet money and gambling paraphernalia, and the filing of 12 charges in court.

Other accomplishments in the police anti-crime campaign, according to the report, were the arrest of two individuals allegedly involved in illegal fishing and the neutralization of a carnapping suspect.

The Police Community Relations (PCR) section of the TCP, which Amoroto heads, also made significant accomplishments in its continuing efforts to maintain and strengthen the relationship between law enforcers, various sectors, and the civilian population in different communities.

Based on same report, the PCR successfully conducted 180 school-based symposiums, meetings and visitations; 84 church-based projects and activities; 187 youth mobilization activities; and 88 trainings; and it assisted in the holding of 105 medical-dental missions.

"We would not have attained such accomplishments without the dedicated TCP personnel, outstanding leadership qualities of Chief Taboso and, above all, the strong support of Mayor Alfred Romualdez," Amoroto stressed.

Since assuming office last 2007, Mayor Romualdez has provided new patrols cars, assault, radios, motorcycles, computers, and other equipment to the city police.

Jan 13, 2009

City government of Tacloban assists in garbage collection

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Because of the worsening garbage problem, the City Government of Tacloban has decided to assist in the garbage collection since yesterday in different areas of the city.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said the decision was prompted by numerous complaints coming from residents and heaps of uncollected garbage that have accumulated at the Maharlika Highway and other parts of the city due to the recent holidays and has rendered the garbage collectors with hands full.

Mayor Romualdez disclosed that city residents have been contacting his office to call attention to the problem

In addition, he said that during an ocular inspection conducted Monday evening, he himself had witnessed piles of garbage that have remained uncollected for several days now at said highway and reports have poured in that garbage also abounds in the Sagkahan District, V&G Subdivision, and Anibong.

"That was the time when we decided to assist or help in the garbage collection," Mayor Romualdez said. "We could no longer allow this as complaints came pouring in amid fears that the problem might escalate when the health of the residents gets affected. The city government has to do something to face the problem."

With the city government now more involved in garbage collection operations, it cautioned barangay residents dumping their garbage just anywhere and exhorted barangay officials to designate areas where garbage could be properly collected.

Also, the city government warned everyone that Anti-Littering Ordinance will be strictly enforced starting next week, and advised residents never to throw cigarette butts and other garbage in the streets or any other place.

Jan 13, 2009

Ormoc can't be capital of Leyte

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

ORMOC CITY -- Ormoc has a big chance of becoming the capital of Leyte considering its present financial, economic and developments status.

According to Mayor Eric "Beboy" Codilla, the revenue collected from taxes alone last year was about P250 million aside from the P500 million they recently received as payment of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) of unpaid taxes for the last five years-which was only settled after they fought it in court.

But Codilla said that even if Ormoc is superior in terms of economy, it can't vie for the position being a chartered city since October 20, 1947. The city is also an independent component city, and on both reasons, it has obtained autonomy from the provincial government of Leyte.

The talks on what would be the capital local government unit of the province of Leyte now surfaced when Tacloban obtained its full autonomy after its proclamation by the Commission on Elections on December 18, 2008 as a Highly Urbanized City (HUC) which yielded over 36,000 Yes votes or a margin of 15,000 votes over the No votes through a plebiscite on the same date.

Prior to the HUChood of Tacloban, this city was not only the capital of the province of Leyte but also the capital of the Eastern Visayas region. Potential contenders, other than Ormoc City, are the towns of Baybay, Carigara, Palompon, and Palo where Governor Jericho Petilla resides.

For his part, Senior Board Member Carlo P. Loreto of the 5th District of Leyte-wherein Baybay in the district is his residence and hometown-said he has not come across a law yet that says there must be a capital city or town for any province. On the same manner, he has yet to see a law provision that says a city loses its personality as a capital city just because the province has no more jurisdiction over it.

But he said, compared to Baybay as his hometown, the town of Palo is a better option as capital of the province it being the town next to Tacloban and wherein the government center is presently located. Many regional offices are situated in Palo town particularly at the government center, he said.

According to Loreto, Tacloban's progress is expanding and as a result congestion will take place. And when Palo becomes the capital and further development pour in, it will help decongest Tacloban.

Jan 10, 2009

Brig. Gen. Lanuza: Eastern Samar now almost free of communist rebels

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- A top military official in the region said the province of Eastern Samar, which was once a hotbed of insurgency, is now almost free of communist rebels.

Speaking during the Express it at the Park media forum held at the Leyte Park Hotel Saturday, Brig. Gen. Francis Lanuza, commanding officer of the 801st Brigade, pointed out that based on their assessment there are only very few rebels operating in said province.

The 801st Brigade based in Camp Daza in Hinabangan oversees the entire Province of Eastern Samar and part of the neighboring Samar Province. The brigade composed of two battalions, the Oras-based 14th IB and the 62nd IB based in Quinapondan.

"There was around 15 percent reduction in the strength of the rebels from a year ago. From around 365 armed components in five fronts, that number has steadily declined, and now, based on our assessment, only a ragtag band of less than a hundred rebels are operating in isolated pockets around the province," Lanuza said.

"The rebels are now so few that we are confident that they could no longer mount any large-scale attacks, as they have been doing before," he added.

Because of that, he said, the brigade, has moved from the clearing phase to the holding and development phase.

"The focus now is more on securing and protecting various development projects," he said.

The one-star general attributed the decline of insurgency in the province to local development and the support of local officials to the KAIBIGAN Program spearheaded by the brigade.

"Tourism is thriving in the south, particularly in Guiuan. Other parts of the province are also experiencing growth as a result of the rehabilitation of the road network connecting Eastern Samar to other provinces, and the completion of numerous infrastructure projects, including of farm-to-market roads," Lanuza pointed out. "These things have dissuaded the people there from joining the rapidly dwindling ranks of insurgents,"

Another factor, Lanuza pointed out, is the critical support that the governors, congressmen, mayors, and other officials have extended to the KAIBIGAN Program.

The KAIBIGAN Program, which is the brainwork of Gen. Lanuza, is a roadmap to a strategic development concept aimed at maintaining peace and order in the island of Samar. It was implemented two years ago.

"From day one, officials in the province have wholeheartedly given us their support," said the general.

Jan 09, 2009

Tacloban FLET bares accomplishments

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The year 2008 has been good for the Fishery Law Enforcement Team (FLET), otherwise known as the Task Force Bantay Dagat, of this city.

FLET coordinator Noel Ligtas said that significant strides in the implementation and enforcement of fishery laws and ordinances, effective information drive campaign, and the successful implementation of various livelihood programs and projects topped the list of accomplishments of FLET in 2008.

Based on the FLET 2008 Accomplishment Report, more than 20 individuals suspected of engaging in illegal fishing activities were apprehended by the task force in numerous anti-illegal fishing patrols conducted in the city's territorial waters last year.

Ligtas said that some of those arrested came as far away as Marabut town in Samar province.

Confiscated from the suspects were 54 pieces of illegal fishing gear (prohibited types of fishing nets), including nine baring, 15 hulbot, 19 trawl, and 11 tombok. Aside from those, the task force was able to recover 136 pieces of illegally cut and transported logs and coco lumber worth thousands of pesos.

"These were accomplishments that came with our strict implementation of fishery laws and ordinances and intensified anti-illegal fishing patrols conducted in waters within the city," Ligtas said.

Ligtas revealed that the task force was also able to help in the implementation the Payaw livelihood project in San Jose and other livelihood programs that benefited residents of coastal barangays.

Also, the task force conducted an effective information drive through seminars and forums, undertook massive clean-up operations in the city's coastline, and spearheaded successful efforts to preserve and protect the "pawikan" and other endangered marine species.

"What we have accomplished in the previous year we will try to surpass this 2009," he promised.

Jan 09, 2009

'Redistricting program' to be implemented

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- To better address the health needs and concerns of constituents, the City Government of Tacloban will soon implement its "redistricting program" wherein doctors and other medical staff will be assigned outside their main office.

According to City Health Officer Jaime Opinion, the extension program will be in place in the first quarter of this year.

"This will enable us to provide better health and medical services to residents. Also, this is one way of decongesting our main office," Opinion stressed.

Opinion said that out of the 12 targeted satellite health offices, three are priority of the city government to start their operations.

These three satellite health stations are located in the districts of San Jose, Sagkahan, and in the northern part of the city where majority of the city's indigent people are located.

Opinion said that these will operate right away once their rehabilitation is finished and necessary equipment and personnel are in place.

As of now, people, especially the poor ones in need of medical attention have to go to the City Health main office to seek assistance, and this has resulted to congestion," Opinion pointed out.

"These would operate as mini-city health offices. Taclobanons living far from the city proper may no longer go to our main office to seek medical assistance, but instead go to the nearest CHO satellite office. In the process they could save time and money," he said.

However, the city health officer clarified that the CHO main office situated in the Balyuan area will continue to entertain clients.

"It doesn't mean that the main office will be closing its doors to clients," said Opinion.

He added that as part of the redistricting program, the city government will be hiring additional medical and support staff to augment its current workforce.

"We are looking to hiring three more doctors and additional nurses, and other health personnel to man our main office and the soon-to-be-operational satellite health offices," Opinion ended.

Meanwhile, Opinion disclosed that the city government is closely studying its plan to build a new hospital preparatory to implementation.

In earlier interviews, Mayor Romualdez said that one of his priorities for this year is the construction of a modern, 50-bed hospital in a strategic point in the city.

The city health officer said that they are looking into building that new hospital in the site of the existing City Hospital in Marasbaras.

Jan 09, 2009

DBM-8 to determine how much is the IRA reduction of Leyte

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The regional office of the Department of Budget and Management said that it has yet to determine as to how much the reduction on the internal revenue allotment share of the Leyte province now that Tacloban is no longer part of its supervision and jurisdiction.

Provincial and city officials had earlier projected that Leyte would have a decrease on its IRA share ranging from P90 million up to P95 million, a decline due to the conversion of this city into a highly urbanized city.

"But one thing is sure, the (reduction) is a huge amount," Aleli Hernandez, supervising budget management specialist of the DBM-8, said.

It was learned from her that their central office were already furnished of documents related to the declaration and conversion of Tacloban from being a component city to that of a highly urbanized city.
The HUChood of Tacloban became effective on December 18, 2008 after majority of its registered voters affirmed a presidential proclamation issued to this effect during a plebiscite.

The IRA distribution among local government units are based on their population, land area and equal sharing among them.

Hernandez said that their office has yet to settle on how much on the reduction of the provincial government on its IRA.

"We will know it within the month how much is the reduction," she said.

The projected IRA reduction has prompted provincial officials led by Governor Jericho Petilla to make some "adjustments" of its finances like the possible retrenchment of its over a hundred job order workers and casual employees.

At present, the province of Leyte receives P950 million for its IRA share with the city of Tacloban receiving more than P300 million for its own share.

The DBM releases 80 percent of the IRA share of the local government units on the first week of the month with the remaining 20 percent on the last week of the same month.

But since it's the beginning of the year, the release of the IRA might be released on the last week of the month, Hernandez said.

With the projected loss of its income, the provincial government should take some measures to offset the loss, the DBM official said.
"There are so many ways for a local government unit generate an income," she said.

The provincial government, Hernandez said, could intensify its collection on local taxes, and on real property tax and even coming up on programs related to economic enterprises.

Leyte just like several of the local government units in the country, still relies on IRA share for the implementation of its various programs and projects.

Meantime, Tacloban's 2009 in the amount of P634.46 million is now in the process on review by the DBM which it received last Tuesday afternoon.

"We have at least 90 days to review the budget of the city government of Tacloban now that it is a highly urbanized city," Hernandez said.

She, however, said that the city government can operate under its 2009 budget even it is still under review by the DBM.

Aside from Tacloban, the annual budget from the six provinces of the region and Ormoc City, an independent component city, are also being reviewed by the DBM.

Jan 08, 2009

Capitol to retrench 100 workers due to limited budget allocation

By Ahlette C. Reyes

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla explained the retrenchment of capitol employees this year is not a matter of choice but an action caused for a limited fund and the salary cap permitted to local government units by the budget department.

Speaking for the first time regarding the retrenchment issue of over 100 employees at the Leyte Provincial Capitol, he appealed for the reality that the situation calls for.

"Contrary to what has been speculated and talked about for the past weeks, the decision really came from the fact that with lesser budget we have to cut loose on some ends somehow. And with the bulk of the yearly provincial budget going to salaries of the capitol employees, we are presented a choice to cut on expenses on employee salaries," Gov. Petilla explained.

He, however, dispelled earlier reports that the retrenchment would be based on the residency of the employees, particularly Tacloban based employees after the latter recently earned its status of a highly urbanized city and officially detached itself from the province with its reclassification.

"This is one thing that I would like to clarify most. If it would be because of the reclassification of Tacloban, the first to be retrenched would be our provincial administrator (Vincent Emnas) because he is from Tacloban. We also have our department heads who are from Tacloban City and other persons holding positions. If we would base our retrenchment on that we would definitely lose a significant number of capitol employees," Gov. Petilla said.

With the more or less 2,300 capitol employees, the provincial government spends around P450 million for employees' salaries yearly roughly about 50% of the yeary internal revenue allotment (IRA) of P950 million.

"It is a situation where we have to choose between cutting on our allocation for projects such as roads, our bridges, our health programs and others or to really look into our employees kon ano gud an mga positions nga are really vital and important and are doing their jobs," the governor said.

Further, he added that with the lesser budget for the province, it also has to conform with the salary cap set by the Department of Budget and Management which is at 45% of the total budget allocation.

"We may have a problem in explaining why with a lesser budget we would still be maintaining the same allocation for the same number of employees. With a lesser budget, it would mean a lesser 45% salary cap for employees' salaries so naturally we would cut on that," the governor added.

Meantime, casual employees would be renewed contract for two months and examined which positions are really important to the functions and operations of the provincial government. Those that would be deemed unnecessary may be finally retrenched after such period.

As earlier reported, Provincial Administrator Vincent Emnas disclosed over 100 employees of the Leyte provincial Capitol stand to lose their jobs early 2009 with the province's internal revenue allotment dropping by P90 million following the conversion of Tacloban into a highly urbanized city (HUC).

However, Emnas said that the planned mass termination of those employees should not be interpreted as an act of retaliation on the part of the provincial government but rather an act of fiscal management of the province.

Jan 08, 2009

Go-Soco appeals to prov'l, city gov'ts to apply cooperation on P90 million loss

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

PALO, Leyte -- The top socio economic planner in Eastern Visayas asked the Leyte provincial government and the city government of Tacloban to apply the "principle of cooperation" in the bid to cope the projected P90 million loss in the regional economy with the latter's conversion into a highly urbanized city.

Buenaventura Go-Soco, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority, said that local officials should talk on how to solve the economic link of the city's recent reclassification.

"Taking away about P100 million annually from a poor region is something that we should think about. There's a need to practice the principle of cooperation between local leaders that would lead to economic development," Go-Soco said in an interview.

The P90 million refers to the projected loss of Leyte of its share on the internal revenue allotment (IRA) due to the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC. The amount of IRA receives by a local government unit depend on its land area and population. At present, Leyte receives around P950 million for its IRA share.

"The reduction in the IRA of the provincial government which will be approximately P100 million a year will be a substantial reduction in money flowing to Eastern Visayas in general and to Leyte and Tacloban City in particular," Go-Soco said.

He said that Region 8 will become poorer as it earns only a third and half gained by Central Visayas and Western Visayas, respectively.

The money, according to him, will not be transferred to the city government. It will go to the other provinces. "And in six years, it will amount to P1 billion."

"We don't have enough resources to recover this. Since people have already decided, local officials should overcome the negatives of being HUC," the NEDA regional chief stressed.

Earlier, Leyte Provincial Administrator Vincent Emnas announced that over 100 employees from the city will lose their jobs at the provincial government early this year as part of the latter's "fiscal management."

"It's not necessarily a problem of the city government but the question is how can being an HUC improve the employment situation. We have yet to see a concrete plan as to how it could be done," said Go-Soco while commenting on the retrenchment move.

City Mayor Alfred Romualdez earlier said that the city will get a bigger IRA share directly from the national government now that it's an HUC. He announced that the city government has lined up big projects that will kick off its implementation within the first two quarters of 2009.

High-impact projects planned for this year include construction of a fish port, 50-bed hospital in Brgy. Abucay, modern Class 3A slaughterhouse, and P50 million economic enterprise building.

Also in the pipeline, according to the mayor, is the site development of the Eastern Visayas Regional Growth Center (EVRGC), construction of a P10 million sanitary landfill, and massive roads and bridges construction and rehabilitation projects within the city.

On top of that, the mayor announced that the city government will proceed with, starting this year, the long-awaited rehabilitation of the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR), which is considered the premier air facility in the whole Eastern Visayas.

Jan 07, 2009

New P15M public cemetery to rise soon in the city

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- A new P15 million public cemetery would soon rise in the city.

According to City Planning and Development Officer Roland Hidalgo, the proposed new cemetery, which has been included in the recently approved P1.2 billon annual investment program of the city government for fiscal year 2009, would be constructed somewhere in the southern part of the city.

"We are still looking for a big area, as much as five hectares, in the Apitong-Marasbaras-San Jose area, where we can construct the new cemetery," Hidalgo said.

"The project is included in our AIP for this year, but when it would be implemented or when work on it will start would still depend on the decision of the city mayor," he added.

Hidalgo pointed out that with the construction of the new cemetery people living in the southern part of the city could bury their departed loved ones there without going to the north cemetery.

The city government, during the time of former Mayor Alfredo "Bejo" Romualdez, had constructed the north cemetery on a 12- hectare lot in Barangay Basper, located more than 10 kilometers away from the city proper.

The construction of the north cemetery was designed to decongest the city's public cemetery located in Barangay El Reposo which has been used for burial for decades now.

But despite the standing policy of the city government as well as by the Santo Niño Parish to stop burial at the El Reposo cemetery, new burials continue to persist.

"We are hoping that with our existing north cemetery and the planned construction of a new cemetery in the south, this problem on congestion can finally be solved," Hidalgo said.

Based on the plan, according to the city planning officer, a big section of the planned south cemetery would be constructed for three-tiered tombs while the rest are for the traditional underground burial.

Jan 06, 2009

City official describes plan of prov'l gov't to retench workers as 'immature'

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY - The plan of the provincial government to retrench its employees residing in the city with its conversion into a highly urbanized city as a reason was described as "immature" by a city official.

Still, the city official hope that Governor Jericho "Icot" Petilla would reconsider this plan, saying that the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC should not be given as a reason for their separation from their employment.

"Actually, I don't like to make a comment about it because I consider it as immature and childish. But still, I hope that they are not really serious on this plan," Pinky Brosas, chief of the human resource office of the city government, said.

Earlier, Provincial Administrator Vincent Emnas revealed that over a hundred individuals who are currently employed at the provincial government and are residents of the city would be terminated.
The conversion of Tacloban into a highly urbanized city was the reason cited by Emnas on this plan of the provincial government.

As an HUC, Tacloban ceases to be under the administrative control and supervision of the provincial government. As one of its immediate effects, the provincial government would loss about P90 million of its share on the internal revenue allotment.

Majority of the city's registered voters voted overwhelmingly for the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC during the Dec. 18 plebiscite.

Brosas said that these employees who will be affected by the decision of Governor Petilla have been working at the provincial capitol even before the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC.

"In the first place, it was the provincial government which hired them and not the city government. So why (terminate them) just because Tacloban is now an HUC," the city human resource officer said.

Asked if the city government would hire these employees who would be affected with this retrenchment plan of the provincial government, Brosas said that it depends on their qualifications and on Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

"We will accept their (applications), evaluate them and see if they are qualified. But in the end, the final say is still the appointing authority who is the city mayor," Brosas said.

This plan of the provincial government also received rebuke from the regional office of the Civil Service Commission as it reminded the governor that employees, especially those holding permanent positions, could only be terminated based on civil service rules.

An Waray Representative Florencio "Bem" Noel had also voiced his alarm on this plan. He said that he is ready to sit down with the governor and offer his help.

Meantime, Brosas revealed that she is planning to conduct an orientation seminar among the city government's personnel now that Tacloban is already an HUC.

Employees of the city government have now bigger responsibilities, Brosas said.

"We need a reorientation on the rules of civil servants now that Tacloban is an HUC. We need some refreshing activities," Brosas said.

Jan 06, 2009

DA, BFAR eye Pacific Ocean EEZ as alternative fishing ground for Pinoys

By Renee F. De Guzman

Philippine Information Agency

San Fernando City, La Union -- To boost fish catch and encourage Filipino fisher to operate in the country's generally untapped exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Pacific Ocean, the Department of Agriculture is embarking on a medium-term development plan.

The plan includes government's investment in ports in the country's Eastern seaboard and is expected to sustain the high growth of Philippine fisheries.

The Philippine EEZ in the Pacific is home to migratory species like bluefin, yellowfin and skipjack tuna, which usually go there during the colder months of the year's second semester.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is putting up an initial four fishing ports as part of government efforts to find alternative grounds following the non-renewal of a bilateral agreement that has previously given access to Filipinos to the fishing grounds of Indonesia.

The fishing ports will be put up in Casiguran, Aurora; Infanta, Quezon; Tacloban City in Leyte; and Surigao City in Surigao del Norte.

Yap said that the chosen sites for the four fishing ports are all geographically facing the Pacific Ocean and are near the existing airports.

The facilities will be built in these areas patterned after the fishing port of Davao City. - it has piers, refrigeration facilities, ice plants and processing piers to enable fishers to unload their catch, process them and export their products to whatever markets because of their proximity to airports.

According to BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento, the Pacific EEZ is still underutilized. "There are only few Filipino operators who go to that area for three reasons. First, tuna and other tuna like species are seasonal in the area. Second, the design of Philippine fishing vessels are not really suitable for operators in the Pacific. The third, and this is the most serious reason, is there are no infrastructure facilities in the Eastern seaboard to service Philippine operators who would decide to operate in the Pacific."

According to Yap the country needs to increasingly go into municipal fisheries and agriculture and at the same time revitalize commercial fisheries by opening up ports in the Pacific side, if we are to sustain the growth of the Philippine fisheries.

Jan 05, 2009

Northern Samar ferries resume operation

By Ranulfo Docdocan

ABS CBN News - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Looc and Dapdap ferry terminal in Allen town in Northern Samar resumed operations 8:30 p.m. Sunday after Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA) lifted the storm signal in the province.

Thousands of passengers and vehicles were stranded at various Eastern Visayas ports due to heavy rains after the Philippine Coast Guard cancelled sea travel Saturday due to stormy seas enhanced by Tropical Depression "Auring".

In Allen town, 6,352 people were reported stranded at Looc and Dapdap ports together with 95 light vehicles, 102 buses, 84 trucks and six passenger vessels.

Captain Alex Saplad of M/V Hansel Jobett said they already received an order from the Philippine Coast Guard to accommodate the stranded passengers so that they can go to its destination.

The stranded passengers were excited to board the ferryboats after they were advise to do so.

The two ferry terminal in the province has resumed its normal operation and there were no more stranded passengers and vehicles at the port as of posting.

Tropical depression "Auring" on Monday meanwhile shifted its course to the northeast and is moving out of the country, PAGASA said.

Region 8 however was still experiencing cloudy weather and rains, reports coming from the various ports said.

Visayas and Mindanao, the same PAGASA report said, will have cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms becoming widespread rains over Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.

Jan 04, 2009

6000 passengers, 266 vehicles stranded at Eastern Visayas ports by intermittent rains

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Around 6,000 passengers and 266 vehicles remain stranded at various Eastern Visayas ports due to heavy rains.

The stranded passengers are now accommodated and are being attended to at the Looc, Dapdap and Liloan Ports, Mr. Rey Gozon of the Office of Civil Defense in Region 8 said.

Reports coming from the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council Operations Center showed that as of 8:30 in the morning of January 4, about 49 buses with 2,533 passengers remain stranded at the Looc Port in San Isidro, Northern Samar.

Also stranded at the same port are 74 trucks with 228 commuters and 68 light cars with 483 passengers.

At the Dapdap Port in Allen, Northern Samar, there are around 2239 passengers who are stranded, along with 44 buses, 2 trucks and 2 light cars, and one vessel.

Furthermore, at the Liloan ports, 210 passengers, among who are 93 males, 105 females and 13 children are now stranded and are being accommodated. The same report showed that 7 cars, 3 buses and 6 trucks are also stranded at the port.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gozon said that there are no reports so far of flash floods although several streets in the low-lying areas are now under water.

Region 8 is still experiencing a cloudy weather, reports coming from the various ports stated.

In Tanauan, Leyte, the Barangay Chairman of Barangay Cabuynan Ramil Vierras already reported that the Cabuynan River is about to overflow and requested that the sand bar be opened so that the river water could go out to the sea..

PAGASA report a Low Pressure Area (LPA) which was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 220 kms East of Northern Mindanao (9.5°N 127.5°E).

Visayas and Mindanao, the same PAGASA report said, will have cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms becoming widespread rains over Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.

Jan 03, 2009

High-impact projects seen in the city after HUC

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- High-impact projects that are expected to propel the economy and improve the lot of residents of the first-ever highly-urbanized city (HUC) in the region are set for implementation beginning this year.

This was disclosed by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

"The city government has lined up big projects whose implementation is slated to be started on or after the 1st Quarter of 2009," Mayor Romualdez said.

The mayor revealed that high-impact projects planned for this year include construction of a fish port, 50-bed hospital in Abucay, modern, Class 3A slaughterhouse, and P50 million economic enterprise building.

"The city will have a new fish port, and we will now have our own modern medical facility that will complement the existing City Hospital in Marasbaras," Romualdez disclosed.

Also in the pipeline, according to the mayor, is the site development of the long-dormant Eastern Visayas Regional Growth Center (EVRGC), construction of a P10 million sanitary landfill, and massive roads and bridges construction and rehabilitation projects within the city.

On top of that, the mayor pointed out that the city government will proceed with, starting this year, the long-awaited rehabilitation of the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR), which is considered the premier air facility in the whole Eastern Visayas.

"We have already secured P1 billion funding from the national government for the repair of the runway and the construction of the airport terminal and parking building," said the mayor, who pointed out that the city was able to secure such big assistance from the national government with the help of his cousin, Leyte First District Representative Ferdinand "Martin" Romualdez.

"I prioritized these projects because I know they will be instrumental in further improving the local economy, and they will have the biggest impact to the people of this city, especially the poor," the mayor stressed. "Hopefully, they could all be finished before the year ends."

Jan 02, 2009

Youths to be trained on ICT to attract more investors

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Leyte provincial government will train more youth on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the bid to attract ICT-related investors in the province next year.

Leyte Governor Jericho Petilla said the initiative would boast confidence of ICT firms to invest in Leyte with the presence of young computer programmers in the province.

"Our goal is to flood the province with information and technology (IT) experts. This is an industry-based education to ensure that they will land a job," Petilla said in a recent interview.

Last October 2008, the provincial government opened the Income Creating Opportunity thru Technology Program (ICOT-P) data center in the 6.8-hectare Leyte Information Communication Technology (ICT) Park. The program will develop capabilities of poor students in computer programming.

Housed in the new data center are 30 LCD (liquid crystal display) computers with high-end central processing unit for 34 students Leyte students who undertake advanced computer programming course. The center is equipped with wireless internet and projectors.

These 34 students were not able to pursue regular college education due to economic reasons.

"I've found out that some poor students are good in ICT. If they will go into four years in college, chances of getting employed is less. In this training, we're not teaching students how to use computer games and programs but on how to create it," Petilla added.

The provincial government has been conducting assessment in public secondary schools to look for potential students that will be trained with advanced ICT learning.

The governor said that potential investors also proposed to provide training modules and instructors and hire students after the training.

"We will provide ICT investors with proper programmers. We envisioned developing our own talents. That's the best way to become the country's ICT hub," he said.

Educating youth in ICT is now on its second phase after these 34 students finished the first phase through school-based learning for nine months early this year. The system is advanced considering that it takes four years for other ICT schools to complete the formal training.

In a project briefing provided by the provincial government, the program will promote certification of students, instructors and professionals; linking of academe and industry, promotion of open source software and creation of web portal for Leyte.

The Leyte ICT Park is a facility of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) in Palo, Leyte with the provincial government as owner. Current occupants are Technology Business Incubator, Zurcsoft, AppLab Technologies, electronic Drawing Design Center , Leyte Tourism and Investment Promotion Center office, AMA Computer College , St. Augustine School of Nursing, LIDER Review Center.

Jan 02, 2009

Leyeco II assures sufficient power supply in Tacloban

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Stable power supply is assured in this city next year even with expected abrupt load increase as a result of full operation of malls in the city, the management of Leyte II Electric Cooperative (Leyeco II) said.

"Looking at Tacloban City's annual growth rate, we are prepared in the next five years even if the power supply will increase by 10% to 20%," said Atty. Jerry Gwen Conde, Leyeco II general manager.

The city, according to Conde, has an average demand of 25 megawatt (MW) out of the 40 MW that can be supplied by the electric cooperative.

"Tacloban will have reliable supply of power considering that the actual demand is less than what we can provide," he claimed.

Robinsons Mall will open within the first quarter of 2009. The Gokongwei-owned mall together with Gaisano Central is expected to eat up more electricity being distributed by Leyeco II.

The recent conversion of Tacloban into a highly urbanized city is expected to attract more investors that would translate to higher power demand.

In this city alone, the electric cooperative has 30,000 member consumers. The whole Leyeco II coverage connects 50,000 households to include neighboring Palo and Babatngon towns.

Conde vowed to reduce unscheduled power interruption next year to only monthly from the current two to three power outages.

"We have reduced unscheduled power interruption. Our interruption does not cover all areas. If there's a blackout, there must be problem with transmission and generation system," he added.

Conde also revealed that the cooperative has no intention to adjust rate on distribution cost but there might be changes next year depending on the generation cost that will be charged by the generation company.

Leyeco II earned the singular distinction of being the first of the 199 electric cooperatives in the country to fully attain its total electrification mandate by being able to accomplish 100% energization of all the barangays within its coverage area in 1998.

The electric cooperative was created on October 26, 1975 with its separation from the National Electrification controlled Leyte Electric Cooperative, Inc. that covers some Leyte towns. The franchise area included the Tacloban and the municipalities of Palo and Babatngon with an initial of 5,840 members and 7,830 active connections.

Jan 01, 2009

World welcomes New Year 2009

By Brenda Piquero Tuazon, Genalyn Kabiling, Lesie Ann G. Aquino, Jenny F. Manongdo and Dexter See

Manila Bulletin - Philippines

The world welcomed the New Year on a high note and an air of hope and optimism that 2009 will bring peace and prosperity.

Millions poured into the streets of cities around the world in an explosion of joy and bursts of firecrackers against a backdrop of cathedral bells pealing and sirens wailing announcing the arrival of the New Year at the stroke of midnight.

In the Philippines, thousands of families crowded public streets and open spaces throwing firecrackers into the air to toast the New Year of 2009.

Catholic churches held anticipated masses early in the evening to allow the faithful to be inside the safe walls of their homes before the explosions and merry-making began.

Among Filipinos, New Year's Eve is a time to keep up with traditions such as wearing red and polka-dotted dresses and keeping children wide awake until the early hours of the morning for their parents and grandparents to enjoy a long and healthy life.

Red, round, and golden fruits were at the center of family tables for the Media Noche midnight dinner, along with rich holiday food.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo led the nation in welcoming the New Year with her family in Baguio City.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said the President appealed for unity in the coming year and for all parties to work together to develop a "positive agenda for the country" that will advance the nation's progress.

"Managing the economy amid continued volatility in the global market remains the biggest challenge, not just for the Philippines but for all countries around the world. We will continue to focus on implementing our economic reform agenda, which includes putting our fiscal house in order, generating revenues needed to invest in the country, and making investments in infrastructure and social services - these all contribute to our anti-poverty program," he said.

Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, archbishop of Manila, said he hopes the country will be spared from the effects of the current global financial crisis. But if the crisis gets to affect the country next year, he said, he is relying on the Filipino people's innate trait for compassion and sharing.

"Again there is hope among believers because our greatest guarantee is Christ's own Paschal Mystery, the model for all human passages. His Triumph alone assures us that we also will be able to go across any and all barriers, sin and death, included," the cardinal added.

As Filipinos bade goodbye to 2008 and welcomed 2009, doctors had their hands full last night attending to the injured revelers. But the Department of Health (DoH) said the number of injured this year was lower than in previous years.

Since yesterday, all Department of Health (DoH)retained hospitals have been placed under ‘Code White Alert' to handle the expected surge of emergency cases during the holiday season.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) also alerted all its chapters nationwide to handle trauma cases.

RP ready to face challenges of 2009, says President Arroyo

BAGUIO CITY - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said here yesterday that the country is ready to face the challenges and serious negative effects of the current global food, financial and energy crisis due to the existence of a solid national government resiliency plan which would guarantee sufficient financial stimulus to counter the global rescission.

The President, who is spending the holidays with the members of the First Family in this mountain resort city, took time out to meet with the members of the national and local media to share her views on the problems besetting the country in the new year.

She said her administration will focus on heavy spending for important and fast-moving infrastructure and additional subsidies to the poorest of the poor.

For 2009, Mrs. Arroyo said she wishes peace, progress, and prosperity for the people for them to achieve a descent life ahead in the coming years.

"The year 2008 was tumultuous for the world due to the global economic recession that, thankfully, has not become a crisis in the Philippines. Thus, there must be greater peace and stability to allow everyone to hurdle the challenges in life," she said.

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