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Jul 30, 2009

P500-million multi-fuel plant
to rise in Leyte

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

PALO, LEYTE -- Biogas technology developer Philippine Bio Sciences Co., Inc. (PhilBIO) is investing P500 million over the next 18 months to build the first multi-fuel power plant in Leyte.

The facility, which will produce five megawatts (MW), aims to supply the power requirement of Leyte-based Uytingkoc Development Corp., which runs an ice plant, rice mill, restaurant, hotel, shopping center, and a convention center.

Uytingkoc is investing P50 million through hosting the facility, supplying feed stocks, and putting up power lines to their establishments.

Excess power will be sold to the community, PhilBIO chief operating officer Alberto Pascua said in an interview.

Mr. Pascua said they will use rice husks, coconut shells and coconut husks to fuel the plant.

To fuel a 5-MW plant, close to 400 tons of waste from coconut and rice harvests are needed each day, he added.

"This is a big investment, but this will benefit many people since this will reduce emission of green-house gases and provide cheaper source of power," Mr. Pascua told reporters during groundbreaking ceremonies for the new plant on Wednesday afternoon.

The facility will be built within the premises of Asia Ice Plant and Asia Rice Mill in this town. Both are owned by Uytingkoc.

"We were convinced of the benefits when they introduced the environment-friendly project to us. This ushers the entry of renewable energy in Leyte. We are willing to share the excess non-hazardous power to the community," said Uytingkoc President Go Tic Ching.

All the businesses managed by the Uytingkoc in this town and in Tacloban City consume a total of 2.3 MW, which is sourced from the Leyte Geothermal Power Plant.

Aside from the ice plant and rice mill, Uytingkoc owns and operates Astramart, Leyte Asia Trading, Asia Convention Center, Cindy's Restaurant, Asia Stars Hotel, and a real estate business.

The Leyte project of PhilBIO is the first plant that will tap various wastes from rice and coconut farms to produce renewable energy.

"Initially, we will operate at 2.5 MW for the first few months and will go for 5 MW in its full operation. We will conduct feed analysis to make sure that our expansion will be sustainable," Mr. Pascua said.

Leticia Garcia, head of PhilBIO's new business development group, said the project costs P100 million per MW.

It will be constructed under a build-operate-transfer agreement with Uytingkoc, which will own the plant after 15 years.

Ms. Garcia added that they were studying applicable technologies from Japan, China, Europe and America for the plant's operations.

"For this project, we are considering the high-end technologies since this is the first renewable energy project in Leyte. We are testing the quality of water and soil to find out the kind of technology that we will be using," she added.

Jul 29, 2009

Pag-Ibig City to rise in Tacloban City

By Vincente Labro - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- A LOCAL DEVELOPER will start soon its P100-million subdivision project here, which will be financed by the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig).

Flordeliz B. Menzon, Pag-Ibig regional manager for Eastern Visayas, said recently that the project, which would be called Pag-ibig City, would be the third to be developed by Peerless Cooperative using Pag-Ibig funds.

Located in Barangay Bagacay, about 12 km from the Tacloban city proper, Pag-Ibig City would have 746 housing units.

Menzon said that Pag-Ibig Fund has set aside P120 million for the region this year for loans under its subdivision or institutional development program.

This is double the P60 million that the Pag-Ibig allotted last year for subdivision development in the region.

Rengie Villablanca, chief of the housing loan division of Pag-Ibig in Eastern Visayas, said he expected the developer to finish about 80 percent of the housing units by the end of this year.

Aside from the Peerless Cooperative projects, Pag-Ibig also provided funding for ongoing subdivision projects, such as the VGA subdivision and the Catbalogan Executive Heights in Catbalogan, Samar and the Regina Heights and Villa Rita Subdivision in Tacloban City.

Villablanca said some local government units have also availed themselves of the Pag-Ibig developmental loans.

Projects include the First Basey Housing Project in Basey, Samar, and the subdivision project of the provincial government in Catarman, Northern Samar.

Jul 27, 2009

Another farm-to-market road to be constructed

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Another multi-million-peso farm-to-market road (FMR) project for the northern barangays is in the pipeline.

Engr. Concepcion "Ching" Esperas, chief for Administration at the City Engineer's Office (CEO), revealed that aside from the proposed Picas-San Roque FMR project, the city government will also build next year a concrete farm-to-market road that will connect Barangays Palanog and Paglaum in the northern part of the city.

"We have two big, multi-million FMR projects for 2010, the San Roque-Picas FMR and this one," Esperas said

She stressed that the FMR projects, which are one of the priorities of the Administration of City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, are meant to speed up development in the north, the most depressed area in the city.

Esperas disclosed that work on the project would start early next year. "Hopefully, they will be finished before the end of 2010," she said.

Based on the Project Plan, the FMR to be built will have a length of 6.2 kilometers and a standard width of 4 meters.

Esperas revealed that the city government would set aside P30 million for the project.

Esperas said that the project will not only benefit the Palanog and Paglaum, but will also help economically the nine other barangays in the north.

The other barangays in the northern part of the city are Sta. Elena, Paglaum, Cabalawan, Sto. Niño, San Isidro, New Kawayan, Old Kawayan, Tagpuro, and Palanog.

"Farm-to-market roads are essential components for development in agricultural and rural areas like the northern barangays. Once completed, the project will speed up movement of products from the benefiting barangays down to their market," she emphasized.

The economies of most, if not all villages in the north are dominantly agricultural, the products of which include livestock, rice, corn, coconut and other high-valued fruits and vegetables.

Jul 25, 2009

Rizal Elementary School suspends classes; 1 confirmed H1N1, 595 showing symptoms

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The third biggest elementary school in this city suspended its classes effective yesterday afternoon as one if its pupil was confirmed to have been infected with the influenza A (H1N1) virus while 595 other pupils in the same school are suffering from influenza-like illness (ILL), symptoms of the virus.

The suspension of classes at the Rizal Elementary School would last for a week, school principal David Alcober said yesterday.

Alcober said that a Grade II pupil was confirmed to have been infected with the H1N1 virus. The eight-year-old boy had cough, fever and flu on July 16 with health authorities taking swab samples from him on the following day.

The result of the swab samples was released only last Thursday.

"The boy's parents were not even aware that their child was positive of the H1N1 virus. But he has already recovered when the results came out," the school principal said.

Alcober also revealed that at least 12 of the boy's classmates developed influenza-like illness.

As of yesterday, there are about 595 pupils at the said school who have developed fever and flu, Alcober said.

The number of pupils showing the influenza-like illness represents 22 percent of the school's population of 2,719, Alcober said.

About 76 Grade II pupils were showing the symptoms of the virus, he added.

Alcober added that in both Grade III and IV, there were 77 students of the two grade levels who have ILL cases; another 50 in Grade I and 54 among Grade VI pupils.

Aside from the Rizal Elementary School, Leyte National High School, Eastern Visayas State University and University of the Philippines, all in this city, remain without classes since this week due to H1N1 scare.

The regional office of the Department of Health reported yesterday that Eastern Visayas has now 195 confirmed H1N1 cases.

Alcober said the parents were advised to monitor the condition of their children.

"We also provided school assignments to our pupils for them to do while they are at their respective houses," he said.

Alcober said that the suspension of classes has the approval of City Health Officer Doctor Jaime Opinion and Schools Division Superintendent Ronilo Al Firmo.

And while there is a one-week suspension of classes, teachers and other school personnel of the school would report to the school to conduct massive cleanliness drive, Alcober said.

"We will disinfect all our classrooms to ensure that we'd be free from the virus," he said.

Jul 24, 2009

ADB to provide P1-B for LMWD's expansion

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Asian Development Bank is all ready to provide part of the needed funding for the proposed expansion program of the Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD), which is estimated to cost P1 billion.

This was revealed by Roger Jackson, team leader of the Urban Water Supply Specialist of the water development sector of the ADB, which financed the feasibility study of this project.

Jackson said that if everything has been put into place, the expansion project could start anytime towards the end of 2010 at the least and by 2012 at the most. The feasibility study of this project, meantime, is expected to be finished by November of this year.

Under this expansion program, a new water treatment facility and 40 kilometers of transmission pipelines would be constructed, which is expected to cost around $24 million or P1 billion.

"The reason for this project is to supply more water to Tacloban...which does not have enough water," Jackson said.

Nestor "Ganggang" Villasin, general manager of the LMWD, said that once this project is realized, the problem of water demand of Tacloban could be addressed.

"This expansion program will help address the water needs not only of Tacloban but even other areas (being served by the LMWD)," Villasin said.

It was learned that Tacloban alone needs about 80 percent of the 40,000 cubic meters a day released by the LMWD to all its member-consumers.

Yesterday, the LMWD general manager held a meeting with representatives from local government units from Tanauan, Tacloban, Archdiocese of Metropolitan of Palo and Environmental Management Bureau regarding this expansion project.

Jackson said that the ADB has yet to decide how much they could offer to the LMWD as a loan for this project. Aside from the ADB and the LMWD, the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) is also the participating agency of this project, representing the national government.

"The main challenge here is financial which is worth P1 billion which is about $23 million. The ADB could not come up with the entire amount, which is quite a sum of money, so there could sharing between the ADB, the water district and the LWU," Jackson said.

The three stakeholders on this project are slated to hold a meeting to discuss further about the project, to include how much each of the participating parties would put up as their equity.

Villasin said that the LMWD could put up at least 10 percent of the estimated cost of project of roughly around P100 million.

Jackson said that the proposed project would entail construction of a new water treatment facility at the Binahaan River, the main source of water of the LMWD, and construction of new transmission pipelines running about 40 kilometers.

Meantime, Roland Hidalgo, city development officer, said that he welcome this expansion project of the LMWD, saying this would benefit consumers from Tacloban.

"Anything that will benefit us will always be welcomed. This is for our development as this will help us (easily) attract investors," Hidalgo said.

Jul 23, 2009

City vet appeals to dog owners

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The top veterinary official in this city has issued an appeal to residents of this city, particularly, those living at the V and G Subdivision, to rein in their pet dogs so as to do away with the problem of stray dogs.

City Veterinarian Eunice Alcantara in an interview at her office Tuesday noted that the problem on stray dogs largely occurred due to the negligence of many pet owners to properly leash their pet dogs.

"Most of the dogs loitering the streets of this city have owners that neglected to properly leash them. We have been telling dog owners to leash their pets, but nothing happened," she pointed out.

"We are calling on residents to heed our appeal. Many of the problems associated with stray dogs, particularly in V and G, that have been reported to our Office would not have occurred if pet owners have been a little more responsible," Alcantara said.

Alcantara stressed that once residents heed the appeal, she is sure that that the problem will be solved.

She added that putting dogs on a leash would also help minimize the problem of dirty streets and help prevent occurrence of Rabies among humans.

"We all know that stray dogs would often urinate and leave their feces on the roads and streets. Also, stray dogs have been blamed for majority of dog bites, that in the past, led to Rabies cases among humans," she emphasized.

According to the City Veterinarian, their Office is doing everything to solve such problem, but that they would not succeed in their goals without the full and active cooperation of city residents.

She disclosed that despite lack of manpower, the CVO has been conducting mass vaccinations and rounding up stray dogs in the different barangays.

"We cannot solve the problems on our own. A big part of the solution to such problem is responsibility on the part of pet owners," she concluded.

Jul 23, 2009

American with flu dies of heart attack

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- An American who had tested positive for influenza A(H1N1) virus died on Tuesday night from a heart attack at a private hospital here.

Dr. Edgardo Gonzaga, Department of Health director for Eastern Visayas, said the death of the 56-year-old woman was still being looked into. "We cannot say if it's due to influenza A(H1N1) virus, due to her high risk conditions," he said.

Gonzaga said in a text message on Wednesday that the patient had post gallbladder surgery, slow heartbeat, fibrous tissues in the body that joined normally unconnected parts resulting from surgery and varicose veins.

The American had been teaching English at the Bethel International School in Palo town in Leyte since 2001. She was diagnosed to have A(H1N1) on July 14 and confined at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, according to Boyd Cerro, DOH regional sentinel nurse.

Earlier, 10 students of the school tested positive for A(H1N1).

The American teacher was discharged from the hospital on July 18 after she was declared to have fully recovered, Cerro said.

However, the patient was admitted to the Bethany Hospital at noon of Monday after experiencing chest pains. She died at 9 p.m. the next day, according to Cerro.

"Although she turned positive of H1N1, she had been treated before this incident," Cerro said.

The Inquirer tried to get a statement from officials of the Bethel International School and the private hospital where the victim was confined. They all declined to be interviewed.

Eastern Visayas has one of the highest number of A(H1N1) cases in the country, with 170 confirmed cases as of Wednesday.

At least 90 percent of those who tested positive were students. The majority of them have fully recovered, health authorities said.

Jul 22, 2009

It's business as usual in Tacloban despite flu cases

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Despite the increasing number of influenza A(H1N1) cases in this city, the atmosphere remains to be business as usual.

Thus said Doctor Jaime Opinion, city health officer, who revealed that as of yesterday, Tacloban has about 57 confirmed influenza A(H1N1) cases.

"This is the good thing. Our people here remains calm and our business sector as well. They do not panic despite the fact that our H1N1 cases continue to increase; that we have the highest number of cases," Opinion said.

Based on the monitoring of the regional office of the Department of Health, the region has now 159 confirmed cases.

Opinion said that for several times already, he had met with hotel and other business owners in the city.

"And they told me that business here in Tacloban is not affected at all by this H1N1 thing," Opinion said.

People continue to flock to the city's shopping malls without wearing any protective masks as recommended by the Department of Health.

Samuel Tiu, president of the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), which groups more than 100 businessmen mostly operating in Tacloban, said that they do not see any ill effects to the economy of the spread of the H1N1 in this city.

"In fact, we commend the Department of Health for being transparent. Their almost daily reporting of the number of cases in the region help our people to get to know more about the ailment; how they could avoid of getting the H1N1," Tiu said on a separate interview.

Tiu, however, said that further spread of the disease could result to drain of the government resources considering that it is responsible in conducting swab samples and procurement of medicines.

"And mind you, it cost a lot of money," he said.

The LCCI president also said some workers not attending to their work have used presence of the ailment in the region as a convenient excuse.

"We have information that some workers claim to be suffering from flu or fever as their excuse not to report to their work. Of course, their employers have no other choice but to allow them to go on leave," Tiu said.

Opinion also said that so far, there are now only three schools in the city which suspended their classes due to the H1N1 cases. These are the Liceo de Verbo, Eastern Visayas State University and Saint Therese Education Foundation Inc. (STEFTI).

While there are about 50 pupils at the Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Elementary School found to be suffering from flu-like symptoms, classes there were not suspended, Opinion said.

In addition, about 15 students of the Holy Infant College were detected to be showing the influenza like illness, Opinion said.

The school authority, it was learned, suspended its classes effective Wednesday.

Meantime, health regional administrative officer Annabelle de Veyra said that the level of contamination in the region is now classified as Mitigation Level 3 which means there is now a sustained and wide coverage of cases of H1N1 in the region.

"That is why, we are now more on mitigation," she said during a press conference held yesterday at the Philippine Information Agency.

She revealed that the DOH-8 has a stand by supply of 5,000 capsules of Tamiflu which are ready to be distributed to areas in the region where they are needed.

"Cases under observation has now reached 386, and most of this are admitted to EVRMC hospital, as for the confirmed cases region wide as of today is 157," De Veyra said.

"Pero diri gud ini hiya masyado nga alarming, since most of this mga confirmed cases have been closely monitored by DOH health officers and had been given the treatment," she added.

Jul 22, 2009

Villasin's son set to run for board member in 2010 polls

By Lemuel Pagliawan

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Atty. Niccolo "Nico" Villasin, son of former Leyte Vice-Governor and now LMWD Manager Nestor "Gang-Gang" Villasin, would be joining in the political derby in the second district of Leyte next year.

The older Villasin disclosed in an interview with reporters recently that Nico would be taking his chance to become a future board member of the second district of Leyte.

"I advised him that if you're going to throw your hat into politics, do it now while you're still young," Villasin said, referring to his only son of four children.

Nico, 29, is a graduate of San Beda College where he took up law and passed the bar on his first take.

Villasin said Nico used to work with the law office of Atty. Frank Chavez, who is one of the country's prominent lawyers.

"But right now he's already doing the necessary preparations for the political contest next year. In fact, I told him to be more visible already in the second district," Villasin said.

Villasin, who is a former board member and vice-governor of Leyte for many years, said that he is now bringing his son along with him in his rounds in the district.

"I am introducing him to my old friends and supporters with pride because I believe that my son is competent enough being a lawyer and that his political standing would be rated not just because of me," Villasin said.

Nico would be running under the banner of incumbent Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petila, it was learned.

"I already told the governor about this. And it would be unfair and awkward if Nico would run under another party given the ties and friendship I have with the Petillas ever since," Villasin said.

When asked about his political plans, Villasin just said he's always making himself available.

Rumors have it that Villasin might join the congressional race in the second district next year or aim the vice-gubernatorial seat which he once held.

Jul 21, 2009

City gov't completes P45-M infra projects

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase & Valentino B. Lopez

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- More than P45 million worth of infrastructure projects were completed by the City Government of Tacloban in the first seven months of this year.

These projects included 12 citywide infra completed at a cost of more than P19 million, according to Ed Manadong of the City Mayor's Office (CMO).

The citywide projects implemented from January-July this year were improvement of Balyuan Park worth P 1 million, concreting of Baywalk, Balyuan Park worth P 3 million, installation of concrete faver and construction of comfort room along Balyuan Amphitheater worth P3. 5 million, and construction of 300 tiered tomb at the Basper Cemetery worth P3. 3 million,

Also completed in the first seven months of 2009 were concreting of the center island of the Paseo- Abucay Road worth P1.5 million, construction of counter and desk at the Kanhuraw Business Center (KBC) worth P1 million, and asphalting and repair of grouted riprap at the Balyuan Park implemented at a cost of P 2.5 million.

In the barangays, the city government was able to complete 18 infrastructure projects at a cost of P26 million.

Among the projects implemented in the barangays were construction of eight mini-gymnasiums at Barangays 12 (GE Palanog), 106 (Sto. Niño), 60 (Sagkahan), 83-A (Burayan), 103 (Palanog), 107 (Sta. Elena), 105 (San Isidro), and 68 (Anibong), which were completed at a cost of more than P16 million,

"Those projects were among the priorities for this year of the Administration of City Mayor Alfred Romualdez. Work on most of those projects started last 2008, and they were finished in the early part of this year," Manadong disclosed.

According to Manadong, the city government is lining up other multi-million citywide and barangay infrastructure projects for implementation in the later part of this year and in 2010.

"More projects that would benefit residents of this city, particularly the people in the barangays, are in the pipeline," he said.

Jul 21, 2009

No reason to declare state of calamity

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- There is no reason yet to declare the City under state of calamity even if the A H1N1 flu positive victims has rose to over 60 as of Thursday last week.

According to Mayor Alfred Romualdez, the figure is quite very low compared to the over 218 thousand population of the city. Besides, he said, the disease now is under control in the city with the Department of Health as the lead agency.

This, according to the local chief executive, was also the consensus of the body in a meeting which was participated in by the city disaster coordinating council (CDCC), Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Education (DepEd).

Dr. Jaime Opinion, city health officer, reported that because of the flu virus, which was tagged by the DOH as a community disease outbreak, several schools had suspended their classes while others had a clustering or selective suspension of classes.

Opinion reported that the schools affected were Sto. Niño Sped Center, Cirilo Roy Montejo Elementary School, Leyte Normal University, STEFTI, AMA Computer Learning College (ACLC), St. Scholastica, Leyte National High School, Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU), Liceo del Verbo Divino, San Fernando Elementary School, Angelicum, San Jose School, Leyte Progressive School, Panalaron Elementary School, and STI computer college. The victims are now given door-to door medicine to fast track recovery from the disease and to prevent it from spreading, he said.

The number of victims may go high because, according to Mayor Romualdez, Tacloban is a transient city - meaning a lot of people are coming in and out on a daily basis. But Romualdez said there is no reason for the people, especially parents to panic, because as far as Tacloban is concerned everything is under control and that the city government is closely monitoring the disease and have set preventive and mitigating measures to prevent the disease from further harming more people.

The city government is also ready to extend any necessary assistance in combating the flu virus, said Romualdez.

He too has appealed to the public that should anyone manifest any symptoms relative to H1NI flu to immediately proceed to the regional hospital for check up so that necessary medication and treatment could be provided. The Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) is the sole A H1N1 hospital identified by the DOH to deal with the flu virus patients.

Jul 20, 2009

City gov't pushes
safe meat for all

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Clean and safety meat for all.

This is the thrust of the city government for acquiring two refrigerated meat vans that is now being used in transporting meat from the city slaughter house to the super market, small markets, and meat shops around the city.

Engr. Adonis Acuin, slaughterhouse master, told Leyte Samar Daily Express that when the city government took over operation of the slaughter house from the then private management contractor sometime in February this year, Mayor Alfred Romualdez implemented some improvements, first and foremost, the sanitation of the slaughtering area.

Aluminum and steel tables were also fabricated to ensure cleanliness of the meat before it is released to the markets after a thorough inspection before and after animals have been butchered. Even if the Leyte Metropolitan Water District could not provide water, the slaughter house operations is hampered because a services of a private water provider is tapped for the purpose, it was learned.

According to Acuin, a new holding pen for hogs that are scheduled for butchering is now almost done, which would make the process faster it being located very near to the working area.

Acuin further narrated that all other supposedly major improvements at the slaughter house were suspended because the city government, according to Mayor Romualdez, be constructing a modern Triple A slaughter House.

With over a hundred expert butchers, an average of 70 heads of hogs and 15 large cattle ( carabao and cow) are slaughtered nightly starting from midnight until 6:00 in the following morning. The first trip delivery of meat to the city's supermarket is at 2 a.m. and the second trip is at 4 a.m. this time for the meat shops. The whole operations is closely supervised by the slaughter house master himself together with the meat inspectors to really make sure meat are safe for the consumers.

Moreover, Acuin said, most of the livestocks came from Davao, Masbate and General Santos.

Jul 20, 2009

City gov't appeals for residents' cooperation in garbage disposal

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The city's top environmental official is calling for the full cooperation of the public in the collection of garbage around the City of Tacloban.

In an interview at his office Friday, City Environment Officer Jonathan Hijada noted that "bad" habits still prevail among many people as far as garbage collection is concerned.

According to Hijada, some residents of the city, particularly those in the Downtown area, have the habit of putting garbage in the collection points after the designated pick-up time.

Residents and establishments in the Downtown area are supposed to put their garbage at the designated collection points from 10:00-10:30 in the evening.

"Some individuals and business establishment are bringing their garbage at the designated collection points after 10:30 pm. Instead of systematic collection of garbage from point to point, we are forced to make several more rounds around the area to collect the garbage. It is costly for us in terms of time, fuel, and wear and tear on our own garbage trucks," Hijada pointed out..

"Because of that, I'm calling to the public to fully cooperate with us and to "change "their "bad" attitudes with respect to garbage collection. We are already a highly-urbanized city, and the people should exhibit the traits and attitude of a highly-urbanized people," he appealed.

In the same interview, Hijada urged the public to practice waste segregation and household-based composting.

"The people should separate plastic and other non-biodegradable materials from the biodegradable ones. Also, it is good that they should just bury in their backyards all the biodegradable wastes, instead of bringing them to the garbage collection sites," the city environment officer stressed.

"It should be that when my men go around the city to collect garbage, they should only be picking up the so-called residual wastes," he added.

Since last month, the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) headed by Hijada has been tasked by City Mayor Alfred Romualdez in collecting and disposing garbage in the city.

Jul 19, 2009

Mayor Alfred: "Do not panic!"

By Vincente Labro - Philippines

In Tacloban City, Mayor Alfred Romualdez on Thursday said there was no need to declare the city under a state of calamity even as it was on a "full campaign" to combat the spread of the flu virus.

He said in a press conference that the city has a population of 280,000 and the number of positive flu cases reported in Tacloban as of Thursday afternoon was just 62.

He also called on city residents not to panic.

"Expect the number to grow because Tacloban City is a transient city with a population that practically doubles during the day and the population during the weekend is different from the weekdays," the mayor said.

He said while many new cases emerge daily, many cases have recovered.

Dr. Jaime Opinion, Tagbilaran City health officer, said 15 schools in his city have suspended classes because of the flu.

Seven other schools, he said, are to suspend classes because of "clustering" of cases.

"When we say clustering, one class has 40 to 50 percent of the students already having influenza-like illness [such as] 37.8°C fever, sore throat, appetite loss, muscle pains, vomiting or loose bowel movement," Opinion said.

Mayor Romualdez also said in the press conference that his daughter, who was positive with A(H1N1), was now recovering.

"She's recovered quite fully," the mayor said.

Jul 17, 2009

Vice Mayor Antoni criticizes Mayor Romualdez' slow action to combat  Influenza virus

By Allan Y. Amistoso

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN City -- Vice Mayor Arvin Antoni expressed his frustration over the turtle like action of Mayor Alfred Romualdez to combat the increasing number of individual infected with A (H1N1) virus in the city.

Antoni said that he made his appeal to the chief executive way before a report was made by the Department of Health that there were students from the Philippine Science High School which are infected with the virus.

He said that he reiterated his call after this report but instead of heading his appeal the present administration wasted its time with all the controversies surrounding the celebration of the 120th city fiesta.

"Kon gin-aksyonan unta ine hadto pa en dire unta masusugad hine kadamo iton may-ada na hine nga sakit," Antoni said.

On the latest report from the Department of Health regional office, in the city alone there are about 121 individuals that are infected with the virus and the number are continuously increasing as days go by.

The vice mayor said that this data is already alarming and failure to undertake immediate action will worsen the situation.

"Neither at this point in time comforting statement nor even passing resolution from the city council, which will not directly answer the problem is but a futile action," Antoni said. "What our people need today is medicines, measures and genuine action not words," he added.

Antoni was obviously referring to the statement being made by the city mayor and his allies in the city council that the city government will undertake action and will use all its available resources to prevent the spread of this virus as will as the approval of the four resolutions last Wednesday's regular session.

Part of the resolution that was approved by the city council was for the city health office to purchase medicines and the creation of a task force.

Antoni said that what he was expecting is for somebody from the city council that will push for the approval of a resolution declaring the entire city under the state of calamity.

"What was approved last Wednesday will just complicate the process and will take time before action can be made," Antoni said.

The vice mayor was confused over the action of the majority of sponsoring these resolutions when in truth and in fact there are previous releases of funds to multi-million projects of the city and even the expenses incurred during the HUC campaign that never passed through the city council.

"Yana na lugod nga duro kakinahanglan iton dagmit nga aksyon papaagion pa ha sangguniang? This will just prolong the agony of our people who deserve immediate action from us," the Vice Mayor said.

After the World Health Organization considered A (HINI) virus as pandemic and numbers of Pilipino people infected with the virus increased, the Department of Budget and Management gave authority to the LGU's nationwide to use their respective calamity funds to combat this virus.

The city of Makati reportedly made their advance order on the medicines for A (H1N1) virus.

"If we consider Makati as a model of pushing for the HUChood of the city, then we should follow them," Antoni said.

Jul 17, 2009

‘Commotion' in Tacloban fiesta blamed on judge - Philippines

As mayor of Tacloban City, allow me to reply to the June 30 column of my fellow Taclobanon, Ramon Tulfo.

First, the city did not stop the Pintados parade. There is a 1995 city ordinance which regulates the issuance of permits for parades and motorcades in the city. The Pintados parade could not be accommodated because its date and time of choice had already been assigned to other groups under three permits. Besides, the Pintados organizers were asked to join the Sangyaw parade on June 29, 2009. But they refused our offer. As city mayor, it is my duty, under the law, to regulate parades and motorcades.

Yes, the RTC executive judge did issue an ex parte temporary restraining order (TRO). This the city respected despite its somehow questionable legal basis, but that matter is for another venue. At any rate, we now have in Tacloban City a judicial official who can indirectly issue city permits for parades and motorcades. A simple text message would have done better than a misguided TRO, which nearly caused great damage and injury to the participants of the two parades. The commotion was caught on video. Anyone who may want to verify the facts may view the video. And then he or she can decide for himself or herself who is "petty" and who is "a tyrant."

mayor, Tacloban City

Jul 16, 2009

Flu spread threatens classes in Tacloban

By Vincente Labro, Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- A plan to temporarily close all schools in this city to stop the spread of the Influenza A(H1N1) virus loomed as health officials expressed alarm at what they said were signs that their biggest fear is starting to come to life - hundreds of children sick with the deadly disease.

Doctor Jaime Opinion, city health officer, said he was inclined to recommend the declaration of a state of calamity in the city as a result of the rapid increase in the number of flu cases, mostly in schools.

"Our situation here is now alarming, affecting mostly our students as young as six years old," Opinion said.

Dr. Nicolas Bautista, Department of Health (DoH) chief epidemiologist in Eastern Visayas, said the region was now in a Level 4 situation because of the spread of flu cases.

Level 4

The DoH defined a Level 4 situation as one in which the disease started to spread in highly populated communities.

"I think all of you should be aware that H1N1 is not only found in schools but is now in the community and is now spreading," Bautista said at a forum on Wednesday.

DoH guidelines defined community level transmission as "the clustering of confirmed A(H1N1) flu cases in defined communities or specific areas such as schools or workplaces."

Edgardo Gonzaga, DoH regional director, also said Wednesday that clustering of flu cases were found in the Philippine Science High School, the University of Eastern Philippines in Catarman, Northern Samar, Christ the King College in Calbayog City, Samar, and elementary schools in Barugo, Leyte and Llorente, Eastern Samar.

Gonzaga said he sent a team to Barugo that took swab samples from 54 elementary pupils with flu symptoms. Teams were also sent to other schools.

Bautista said under DoH guidelines, no suspension of classes was necessary unless there was an unusually large number of students, teachers or school workers who were ill with the flu.

90 percent students

As of Thursday, Tacloban has 48 confirmed cases with hundreds suffering from fever, flu and cough, symptoms of A(H1N1), Opinion said. He said 90 percent of confirmed and suspected cases were students.
Twelve cases were confirmed at the Leyte National High School (LNHS) alone, but hundreds of other students were reported suffering from flu symptoms, according to Opinion.

He said the sheer number of students that health workers have to test makes it difficult for the DoH to take swab samples and to conduct contact tracing.

The LNHS, the biggest high school in Eastern Visayas with a population of 6,505 students, and nine other schools have suspended classes since Tuesday after their students were confirmed to have the A(H1N1) virus.

Jul 15, 2009

City gov't to construct 5-km concrete road that links 2 Tacloban barangays

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The City Government of Tacloban of Tacloban will construct a concrete farm-to-market road (FMR) connecting Barangays Picas and San Roque to the tune of P15 million.

This was disclosed by Engr. Concepcion "Ching" Esperas, chief for Administration at the City Engineer's Office (CEO).

Esperas revealed that work on the project would start early next year.

"This is one of the priorities of the Administration of City Mayor Alfred Romualdez. Construction will start in the first quarter of next year. Hopefully, before the end of 2010 the project will be completed," she said.

According to Esperas, the FMR to be built will have a length of 5.2 kilometers and a width of 4 meters.

Esperas said that the project will directly benefit the two aforementioned barangays, and indirectly the nine other barangays in the northern part of the City of Tacloban.

"Farm-to-market roads are essential components for agricultural development as it addresses mobility of farm products. In addition, they give opportunity for countryside development and boost the agricultural industry," Esperas pointed out.

"The implementation of the project will speed up movement of products from the benefiting barangays down to their market," she added.

The economies of the two barangays, as with other villages in the north, are dominantly agricultural, the products of which include rice, corn, coconut and other high-valued fruits, as well as livestock.

As of the present, only a gravel road connects the two barangays, it was learned.

Jul 15, 2009

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez denies allegations

By Ramon Tulfo - Philippines

Tacloban City -- Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez denies trying to prevent the "Pintados" parade during the city's annual fiesta as this corner reported.

But, on the other hand, he said, "I am authorized by law to regulate parades and motorcades."

He questions the ruling of a city regional trial court judge allowing the parade to take place.

"At any rate, we now have in Tacloban City a judicial official who can issue permits for parades and motorcades," the mayor says.

And the city now has a mayor who can prevent a traditional parade at his whim and caprice.

<<< AUGUST 2009 NEWS




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