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Jun 10, 2009

Gotta' Be Big this June Robinsons Place to open in Tacloban

By Roseann Coscolluela-Villegas

Leyte Samar Daily Express

Robinsons Malls is up and about making waves in different parts of the country as they launch a number of malls and establishments within the year. This June 11, Robinsons Malls will open the very first full service mall in Eastern Visayas, Robinsons Place Tacloban.

The sprawling shopping mall will be a major component of a four-hectare mixed-use development which includes a hotel and an office building. It is situated on National Highway, Taboan, Marasbaras, Tacloban City and in proximity to major landmarks such as Tacloban Convention Center, University of the Philippines-Tacloban and Marasbaras National Highschool. Since Tacloban City is also considered as the regional capital of Eastern Visayas, Robinsons Place Tacloban is set to serve over four million customers from Leyte and its neighboring provinces as well.

Spanning a total gross floor area of 31,000 square meters, this development features an impressive line-up of topnotch national and local food and retail players. Among them are Robinsons Malls' prominent retail affiliates such as Robinsons Department Store, Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Appliance Center, Handyman Do-It Best Home Center and Movieworld. Popular food and retail giants will also be proudly opening their branches here such as Jollibee, KFC, Goldilocks, Mang Inasal, Rai-Rai Ken, Dunkin Donuts, Kamiseta, Levi's, Bench, Converse, Guess, Alberto, Gibi, Mango, Rusty Lopez, National Bookstore, Mercury Drug, HBC, Samsung, Nokia, Sony Vaio, Travel Club, Sun Shop, Netopia, LBC, Western Union, Robinsons Bank and more.

Aside from top national players, Robinsons Place Tacloban also made room for Tacloban's finest entrepreneurial ventures. In the roster are Cristina's Salon and Spa, M. Lhullier Jewelry, Gustavian, Pino, Charito's Delights, Jose Karlos, Pinutos Express, Kitchenitos and Children's Place.

RLC is currently operating five shopping malls in key cities of the region namely Robinsons Place Bacolod, Robinsons Place Iloilo, Robinsons Place Cebu, Robinsons Cagayan de Oro and Robinsons Cybergate Bacolod. Robinsons Place Dumaguete and a lifestyle and cyber center in Cebu is also set to open within the year.

Jun 10, 2009

City gov't deploys 7 new garbage trucks

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY - The recent acquisition of seven new garbage trucks was very timely for the opening of Robinsons Place on June 11, and the fast approaching city fiesta, which would mean more enterprise, people, and bulky garbage discharge from different establishments and residential areas.

But the city government is prepared for this upcoming big events, said the City Environment and Natural Resources Officer (City ENRO) Jonathan "Bong" Hijada who is now assigned to manage the garbage collection and the dumpsite as his additional function.

According to Hijada, one of the priorities of Mayor Alfred Romualdez in his administration it to improve the garbage collection especially now that the city has been recently declared as a Highly Urbanized City (HUC). This, he said, would attract more investors and visitors which would boost the local economy of Tacloban.

Of the seven new compactor garbage trucks, according to Hijada, six (6) units are big and are regularly used in the day and night collection of rubbish around the commercial districts and nearby subdivision, while the remaining one unit, which is smaller, is on call basis and ready to be dispatched to places were collection is unintentionally omitted and for augmentation purposes.

He clarified that at the outskirts of the city it is the garbage contractor that is assigned to collect garbage using the old trucks, so that the City-ENRO is just concentrating especially in the downtown areas.

Unlike using the old trucks, the trash in this new units will not rot like garbage because there is a regular washing, disinfecting, and under chassis maintenance of all units, said Hijada.

City-ENRO Hijada has called upon the public to follow the schedule of collection that they have been disseminating and observe too the waste segregation because in the long run garbage that are not properly segregated will not picked-up in consonance with the city ordinance relative thereto.

Jun 10, 2009

Tacloban police office now directly under the PNP central headquarters

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Now that the Tacloban police station has been elevated to police office, it will no longer be under the powers of the PNP provincial command as both are of equal level. This was according to Sr. Supt. Doroteo N. Placonit, PNP Provincial Director, who was one among those who graced the activation of Tacloban Office last June 1.

Palconit, formerly chief of police of Tacloban, said that the present status of the city's police office is directly under the national headquarter on a national level, and on the same manner directly under the regional command on a regional level-any instruction to the City police director will come from the regional police command. He however, said, the provincial command is still there to extend police assistance to the city when necessary but this time it will all be coursed through the regional command.

Provincial Director Palconit lauded the leadership of Supt. Romulo Cleve Taboso, now City Police Director, for dramatically bringing the crime rates in the city in the past two years in his stint as chief of police. With this, he said, this has made people in Tacloban more comfortable while engaging in different activities.

For his part Supt. Taboso said, his achievement for the last two years was greatly contributed by the very supportive Mayor Alfred Romualdez who equipped the police office with communication facilities, transportation, firearms, and other logistic support.

Having these needed facilities, the police force were more encouraged to do their job in crime prevention and even running after criminals. Being a police office, as it is now, Taboso said as per meeting with Mayor Romualdez, more sections will be created under the present set up, which means more police, logistics would be needed. But the Mayor is always there for us to extended whatever we would be needing as we go along the new set up, he said.

Taboso would not be long in his capacity as OIC City Police director because prior to the activation of the police office he has already enrolled in an advancement course and would leave his post for his schooling anytime soon. As to who would take his post when he leaves- is still not known to date.

Councilor Cristina G. Romualdez, chair of the Committee on Fire, Police and Jail management, expressed her happiness over the latest development, saying this is another milestone of the city's police force. The present status would allow Tacloban police office to double their strength from 200 to 400 policemen.

Jun 10, 2009

GOs, NGOs join hands in shoreline clean-up drive

By Marivic A. Alcober

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Relative to the celebration of the 111th Independence Day, a multi-sector clean-up drive started at 6:00 a.m. today along he shorelines of identified areas in Tacloban and this was participated in by the different government entities, non-government organizations, and local government units.

The different groups, who were identified through the color of their shirts, carried with them different paraphernalia in getting rid of the wastes scattered along the shorelines.

It was learned from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), who is the over-all chairman of the clean-up drive activity, that all the garbage and debris along the shorelines, the surface of the waters and even under will all be taken out.

Garbage trucks were assigned in the different clean-up areas for the volunteers to dump the trash they have collected.

To name a few, some of the shorelines covered in the clean-up drive are inside the port area of Tacloban to the coastal part of Children's Park; outside the gate of PPA in front of Gran Hotel up to Mcdo Restaurant and the back of the Tacloban Supermarket.

The coastal area of Magsaysay Boulevard was also included, coastal part of Magallanes to Sagkahan, White Beach, San Jose Airport, Paseo de Legaspi including the bridge up to the coastal area of Anibong School, Rawis, Diit to Tagpuro, Old Kawayan, and San Juanico Strait.

According to PPA, aside from the government agencies who participated in the activity, some private entities who also gave their share were the Leyte Park Resort; Philippine Guardians Brotherhood, Inc.; CAAP; TOG Phil. Air; Pilipinas Shell; Chevron; Tacloban Harbor Pilots Association; a number of shipping lines; and lastly the Golden Dragon International Terminals, Inc.

Relatvie to the aforementioned activities, PPA hopes that this will serve as a starting point in which the people will already be conscious of maintaining a clean and healthy environment.

Jun 10, 2009

Robinsons in Tacloban

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN -- Gokongwei-led Robinsons Land Corp. will open its first mall in Eastern Visayas tomorrow, paving the way for the expansion of popular food and retail giants to Leyte.

In a statement, spokeswoman Roseanne Coscolluela-Villegas said the mid-sized shopping mall would be "a major component of a four-hectare mixed-use development which includes a hotel and an office building."

In a disclosure, Robinsons Land said it would also build within the complex a three-storey call center with a 700-seat capacity, as part of the development plan.

The Tacloban mall is the sixth Robinsons outlet in the Visayas and Mindanao. Robinsons Place Dumaguete in Negros Oriental and a "lifestyle" and cyber center in Cebu are also set to open within the year.

Robinsons Tacloban is projected to serve over four million customers from Leyte and neighboring provinces. Located beside the national highway at Taboan in the city's Marasbaras district, the mall has a gross floor area of 31,000 square meters.

Robinsons Land started construction early last year. It was originally expected to open late last year, but bad weather resulted in delays. In the Visayas and Mindanao, Robinsons Land also has malls in Bacolod, Iloilo, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro.

Jun 08, 2009

3 cinemas to open at Robinsons

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Cinema goers in this city and the rest of Eastern Visayas could expect a better and quality movie watching at the three cinemas of the soon-to-open Robinsons Malls.

This was assured by Winston Felipe Olarte, marketing-PR media coordinator of the Robinsons Movieworld, who added that each of the three cinemas were designed to make movie watching more comfortable and relaxing.

According to Olarte, they are excited to open its cinemas to the people of this city and the rest of the region starting on June 11.

The three cinemas have fully-carpeted floors with fabric seats, fully air-conditioned and with high quality and digital sounds. Neon lights were also installed in the three cinemas.

Each of these three cinemas could accommodate close to 200 viewers.

For each film screening, one has only to pay less than a hundred pesos to enjoy a full-length and even an independent-made film, Olarte said.

And for the opening on June 11, one can enjoy watching a film by taking a snack worth P50.

Olarte also assured the local film buffs that they would offer new films, simultaneously shown in Metro Manila and other cities where the Movieworld also operates.

Jun 06, 2009

Lavish fiesta leads to
graft charges vs. mayor

By Jomar Canlas

Manila Times

CRIMINAL and administrative charges were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against Mayor Alfred Romualdez of Tacloban City and five other city hall officials because of alleged illegal disbursement of P4.7 million funds for the lavish fiesta celebrations for the year 2008.

In her seven-page complaint affidavit, one Ivy Castro of San Jose, Tacloban City, has accused Romualdez, a kin of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, for "the illegal, unlawful, improper, graft and corrupt practice of having disbursed," taxpayers' money-P2,070,000 to the City Tourism Office and another P2,660,000 to the Tacloban Sangyaw Foundation Inc., a local non-governmental office, to defray expenses for the city's fiesta celebration last year.

Besides Romualdez, other officials who were charged violation of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and R.A. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees were Vicente Dy, project evaluation office IV; Victoria Collantes, city budget officer; Lourdes Asis, officer in charge-assistant city accountant; Atty. Sergio Sumayod, city legal officer; and Edgardo Macion, city treasurer.

Collantes, Macion, Asis and Sumayod were included the charge sheet for allegedly facilitating the illegal disbursement of said funds.

The complaint of Castro was backed-up by supporting documents and annexes including an audit observation memorandum from the Commission on Audit. Castro accused respondents of violating several criminal and administrative laws under the Revised Penal Code, the Government Procurement Reform Act and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

"It cannot now be said that, except for the name of the project proponent and the indicated project cost, the text/terms/objectives/duration/contents of both project proposals are one and the same. The inevitable conclusion, therefore, is that both project proposals are the fruits of one and the same poisonous tree, so to speak," the complaint avers.

The Audit commission has even asked Romualdez and the other concerned city officials, for the liquidation and other pertinent papers relative to the grant of P2.6 million to TSFI. However, they refused to comply with the same.

As to the administrative case, Romualdez was accused of violating Section 4(a) of R.A. 6713 after he approved the disbursement of funds for identical undertakings and by two different organizations, one a government organization and the other a non-government one.

In the meantime, Romualdez was also complained of violating Commission on Audit Circular 2007-001 item number 4.3 for approving the project proposal submitted by Tanglaw Sangyaw Foundation Inc., and a subsequent disbursement of P2.6 million on June 24, 2008 for activities already being undertaken and with extravagant expenses already being incurred by the City Tourism Office.

It was pointed out in the complaint that the release of the funds for purposes of the fiesta celebration was tainted with irregularities and anomalies because the payee requesting for the cash advance and the approving authority are one and the same person.

The complainant narrated that Dy, the mayor's trustee, requested the cash advance and later approved it.

Jun 06, 2009

Mayor Romualdez makes reservations on Cha-cha

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Mayor Alfred Romualdez said that he is making some reservations on the issue on Charter change, saying that it is not yet clear to him on what possible amendments would be done to the 1987 Constitution.

As this developed, a party-list group issued its strong condemnation on the approval of House Resolution 1109 which calls for the convening of a constituent assembly as a way in amending the Charter.

But while the city mayor is making his reservations on the issue on Charter change, several provisions of the 22-year-old Constitution need to be amended, Romualdez stressed.

He particularly cited the term of office of local officials as one of the provisions of the 1987 Constitution which needs to be amended.

"The current term of office is not enough. Perhaps, a four-year term and a second reelection would be enough. That could be nice," the city mayor said.

At present, local elective officials like mayors, governors and congressmen are entitled to run for three consecutive terms with each term equivalent to three years in office.

Mayor Romualdez said that a four-year in a single term with a single reelection would be enough for a local official like him to carry out all the programs and projects he intend to accomplish for his people.

Meantime, the resolution calling for the convening of the House of Representatives into a constituent assembly was strongly condemned by various sectors.

For Representative Mong Palatino of the Kabataan party-list group, the decision of the majority members of the Lower House to amend the Constitution through con-ass (constituent assembly) was so "scandalous."

"Dozens of administration lawmakers may have flocked to support the Con-Ass resolution in Congress but it's a flop everywhere else. Filipinos, especially the youth, simply abhor it," Palatino, in an email said.

"We will not allow this government and its lapdogs in Congress to compromise the youth and the nation's future for selfish political ends. The railroading of the Con-Ass resolution only shows the real intentions of those who are pushing for it. These critical times warrant our defiance and collective action against abusive and greedy power wielders," Palatino said.

He urged the Filipinos, especially the youths, to reject this move of amending the Constitution.

All the congressmen in the region, with the exception of Representatives Florencio "Bem" Noel and Neil Montejo, have approved for the passage of the controversial HB 1109 authored by Speaker Prospero Nograles.

Jun 06, 2009

Tacloban City showcases best young talents on June 21

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The City of Tacloban showcases its best young talents on June 21 via the Search for Little Miss Tacloban 2009 at the Tacloban City Astrodome.

To be held as part of the incoming Sangyaw Festival and sponsored by the City Government, the Search aims to develop young girls into well-rounded children, who will be aware of their God-given talents and their rights as children.

Twelve pretty and talented young girls from different barangays and day care centers in this city are vying for this year's Little Miss Tacloban title.

The 12 finalists, who were presented to the media on Tuesday, are Jackylyn Hilario (Brgy. 109-A); Stephanie Ocaña (Brgy. 83); Zyndel Hurley Bidua (Brgy. 92); Blue Reugine Nicolas (Brgy. 56); Cassandra Negro (Brgy. 84); Angel Audrey Sagawa (Brgy. 110); Dorothy Fabian (Brgy. 50); R-iann Gabrielle Sebastian (Brgy. 56-A); Cheyenne Gill Laus (Brgy. 96); Cristina Pearl Hipolito (Brgy. 3); Janice Torrefiel (Brgy. 64); and Yra Nicole Delbo (Youngfield).

According to City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez, chairwoman of the Search Committee, all have passed the initial qualifications required by the search organizers.

She added that the 12 candidates will be vying for the crown and more than P80,000 in cash prizes at stake.

The one adjudged as Little Miss Tacloban 2009 will receive P20, 000, 1st runner-up P15,000, 2nd runner-up P10,000 and 3rd runner-up P5,000. The non-wining candidates will each receive P2,000 consolation prize, it was learned.

Aside from the major title, special awards would also be given to deserving candidates. These awards include "Miss Talent," "Miss Photogenic," and "Miss Congeniality."

It was learned that to add glitter and flavor to the event, the city government has invited TV personality Makisig Morales to serenade the candidates during the pageant night.

Dubbed as the Prince of Hearts in the TV reality-show Little Big Star, Morales is a child performer that is in contract with Star Records. He is the lead singer of the youngest boy band Mak and the Dudes which sings retro songs. As a child actor, he rose to fame through the TV fantaserye, Super Inggo, where he played the lead role.

Jun 05, 2009

Romualdez in a spot over P4.7-m fiesta fund

By Maccon Ramos Araneta and Rey E. Requejo

Manila Standard Today

TACLOBAN City Mayor Alfred Romualdez and five other officials are facing graft and other criminal and administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for the alleged illegal disbursement of P4.7 million for the fiesta celebrations in the city last year.

Tacloban City resident Ivy Castro filed the complaint against Romualdez and city officials including Vicente L. Dy, project evaluation officer; Victoria S. Collantes, city budget officer; Lourdes D. Asis, officer-in-charge-assistant city accountant; Sergio Sumayod, legal officer, and Edgardo S. Macion, treasurer.

Based on the complaint, the respondents caused the payment of P2.07 million to the City Tourism Office and P2.66 million to a non-government organization, Tacloban Sangyaw Foundation Inc., for one and the same purpose-to defray expenses for the city's fiesta celebration in 2008.

The complainant also noted that the release of the funds was tainted with irregularities: the payee requesting the cash advance and the approving authority are one and the same person.

Dy, the project evaluation officer, requested the cash advance and later approved it, according to the complainant.

Romualdez and co-accused also refused to heed an Audit requirement that they submit documents justifying the release of P2.6 million to Tacloban Sangyaw Foundation.

A more controversial Romualdez is also in a spot. The Ombudsman asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the graft complaint and hold order against former ambassador Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez for allegedly receiving double compensation when he was appointed as concurrent ambassador to foreign countries while serving as governor of Leyte during the Marcos administration.

Records at the anti-graft body said that these appointments enabled Romualdez to collect dual compensation from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Province of Leyte amounting to P5, 806, 709.05.

Jun 05, 2009

Showbiz, political figures to grace Sangyaw Festival

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Prominent personalities in the entertainment and political world will be coming to this city to grace the incoming Sangyaw Festival.

In an interview Tuesday, City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez disclosed that several of her former colleagues in the Entertainment Industry have been invited and have confirmed their participation in the upcoming festival.

"Karylle, (Jericho) Rosales and (Gabby) Concepcion have signified that they will be attending the Sangyaw. Karylle and Jericho will join the grand parade on the 29th, while Gabby will serenade candidates of Miss Tacloban during the pageant night on the 27th," Councilor Romualdez said.

Jericho Vibar Rosales, also known as "Echo" is a Filipino actor and band vocalist/guitarist, while Karylle, is a well-known singer, songwriter, actress, and television host.

Gabby Concepcion, Gabriel Arellano Concepcion in real life, is a Filipino actor who has appeared in numerous films and movies alongside "big stars" like Sharon Cuneta, Christopher de Leon, Lorna Tolentino, Julie Vega, Janice de Belen, Maricel Soriano, Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor.

In a separate Interview, Malou Tabao, the events coordinator, revealed that in addition to showbiz personalities, political leaders will also be on hand to grace the occasion.

"We have sent invitations to all senators, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Francisco "Kiko" Pangilinan have already confirmed that they will be here to join the main celebration on the 29th," Tabao revealed.

"With all these prominent personalities, we sure will have a "grander" Sangyaw Festival this year," she added.

A brainchild of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, the Sangyaw Festival was first staged in the city in 1974 as part of its fiesta celebration.

Sidelined for more than 30 years, the festival was revived last year by City Mayor Alfred Romualdez. According to the mayor, the revived festival will help display the culture not only of Taclobanons but the entire natives of Leyte and Samar.

The City Tourism Council with the help of the Tacloban Sangyaw Foundation headed by its president Alex Montejo is in-charge of overseeing and coordinating all activities related to the festival.

Jun 04, 2009

Tacloban City prepares for "grander" fiesta on June 30

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Expect a "grander" and problem-free city fiesta this year.

This was the promise made by Mayor Alfred Romualdez and his wife, Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez when asked in separate interviews on the preparations the city government is doing for the 120th city fiesta.

Mayor Romualdez said that this early, all the activities related to the June 29-30 fiesta of the city have been lined up with his wife, Cristina, calling all the shots relative to the celebration.

"I think, they have lined up several activities already and they have been working since last year," he said.

With the long preparations that the committee has been doing, the people of the city as well as the visitors who would come to Tacloban for the fiesta can expect an impressive celebration which gives honors to patron saint, Santo Niño, Romualdez said.

The city mayor also said that whatever problems that they have encountered last year when it first staged the various socio-cultural activities as the main organizer could now be avoided and corrected.

Last year's fiesta saw the revival of the Sangyaw Festival which was a brain-child of former first lady Imelda Marcos, aunt of the city mayor. The festival was participated in by other festivals from various cities of the country.

Councilor Romualdez, in a separate interview, said that the countdown for the city fiesta would officially begin on June 12, coinciding with the 57th Charter Day celebration of Tacloban and the 111th Philippine Independence Day.

Aside from the Sangyaw Festival, various activities have been lined up like the beauty and brain searches for Miss Tacloban and Miss Little Tacloban and concerts headlined by local and national artists, the councilor said.

She also revealed that the grounds at the Tacloban Convention Center have been converted into a concert venue where local and national singers would be performing.

The Balyu-an Amphitheater is now being refurbished and improved as it would serve as the main venue for the Sangyaw Festival and other various activities like the staging of the Broadway West Side Story, Councilor Romualdez said.

While past city fiesta in the past has been lively and colorful, people can look forward to a grand and lively celebration this year, she added.

"We owe it to our people to give them good entertainment and presentations of various activities," Romualdez said.

It was learned from her that about seven contingents coming from various points of the country have confirmed their participation in this year's Sangyaw Festival.

Norma Morantte, who serves as a consultant on tourism-related activities of the city government, revealed that they have also invited festivals here in Leyte and Samar.

The former tourism regional director said that both the local government units of Borongan and Basey have confirmed their participation for the Sangyaw Festival.

"We are still awaiting confirmation from other local government unit which have invited for the Sangyaw Festival," Morantte said.

Jun 04, 2009

Convention center to rise in MacArthur resort compound

By Ahlette C. Reyes

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Aside from thoroughly renovating the MacArthur Park Beach Resort Hotel, the Singaporean conglomerate recently awarded contract to manage the formerly province-run hotel is also mulling the construction of a convention center inside the hotel's 4.9-hectare compound.

This was revealed during a recent meeting between Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla and officials of the LKY Property Holdings Inc. together with some members of the provincial board.

LKY Property Holdings Inc., to recall, is a Singapore-based conglomerate which was awarded the 25-year contract to develop and take-over the formerly state owned hotel in historic Palo, Leyte .

The convention center, described to have a bigger capacity that presently existing convention centers in the province, would cost the investors millions of pesos. This, aside from the amount of at least P300 million the conglomerate is reportedly going to invest for the full renovation of the hotel that would include demolition of the present structure and building a new five-star hotel structure.

Gov. Petilla is welcoming the idea for a construction of a new convention center that would be part of the hotel's main facility.

He said, Leyte has long been wanting of a bigger venue to host national conventions, conferences and gatherings that it has passed up several chances that would have provided among others additional boost to the local economy and tourism.

"We know for a fact that hosting big events such as national conventions is a good vehicle to promote or local tourism and improve our economy," Gov. Petilla earlier disclosed.

He added that there might be existing convention centers, gymnasiums and venues in the province but none bigger enough to comfortably place at least a thousand in one seating.

The province was also promoting before the Leyte Academic Center Gymnasium as a good convention venue, until it was recently occupied by the region's first ever call center company which is targeting to employ more or less 2,000 workers.

To recall, the province has declared of its plan to develop the former Children's Park located near the Provincial Capitol; however, no actual renovation has started yet since the plan was bared some years back. The area is reportedly may be the location of another much needed infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the improvement of the Mac Arthur Park Beach Resort Hotel is seen to pave the way for the development of the remaining vacant areas of the Government Center . A long-term plan is to turn the province-owned lot into an economic and leisure hub complete with a five-star hotel, a leisure park, an IT facility which is the Leyte ICT Park that is already in place and operational, government offices, commercial areas and public transport terminal.

Jun 04, 2009

Aussie tourist tests
negative for H1N1

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- The Australian national placed under observation for possible influenza A (H1N1) infection tested negative for the virus.

The 51-year-old Australian was just afflicted with seasonal flu, according to the results received Thursday morning from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine by Dr. Alberto de Leon, chief of hospital of the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC).

The Australian was discharged Thursday, De Leon said in a text message.

The Australian arrived in the country last May 28 and immediately proceeded to Hernani town, Eastern Samar to visit his Filipina fiancée.

On June 1, he experienced fever and a cold so he was brought to a private hospital in Tacloban City and later transferred to the EVRMC where he was placed in an isolation room.

De Leon urged the people in the region to observe personal hygiene at all times as a precaution against the swine flu virus that has killed 92 people and infected more than 13,000 worldwide.

Jun 03, 2009

12 lovely ladies vie for Miss Tacloban 2009 title

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Twelve lovely ladies from this city are vying for the "Miss Tacloban 2009" beauty title in this year's Search Miss Tacloban to be held at the Tacloban City Astrodome on June 27 as part of the incoming Sangyaw Festival.

Among the twelve finalists is Miss Rachelle Erica Pineda, the current Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation President of Tacloban City. Pineda is also the daughter of Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) President Eden Chua-Pineda.

The other finalists are Angelica Joy Verunque, Noeime Claire Lee, Rachelle Maybelle Holanda, Ruselle Reyes, Kristel Shayne Villanueva, Rosjane Tiunayan, Shierra Israel, Santaniña Dagami, Niña Sherra Tagalog, Beverly Abarracoso, and Kathrina Demillo.

According to Malou Tabao, the event coordinator, all have passed the initial qualifications required by the contest organizers such as good looks, age should be between 16-23, good moral character and background, and at least 5'5" tall during screenings held on May 16-17.

She added that the 12 candidates will be vying for the crown and P115,000 in cash prizes at stake.

In addition to the trophies, sash, and gift certificates, the winner will receive P50,000, 1st runner-up P30,000, 2nd runner P20,000, 3rd runner-up P10,000, and the 4th runner-up will bring home P5,000 cash prize.

Aside from the major title, special awards to be given to the deserving candidates. These awards include "Miss Talent," "Miss Photogenic," "Best in Swimwear," "Best in Evening Gown," and "Miss Congeniality."

To add glitter, the city government has invited several celebrities, including actor-singer Sam Concepcion to grace the occasion, it was learned.

City Mayor Alfred Romualdez and City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez, chairwoman of the Committee on Tourism at the City Council, is working closely with Cultural Director Don Dolina, Rotary Club of Kandaya, and other organizers and major sponsors for the successful holding of the event.

Last year's winner of the Miss Tacloban beauty pageant was Miss Sushiela Kumar.

Jun 03, 2009

Gaisano collects fees from its customers for use of CR

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Gaisano establishments here are apparently not contented with their multi-million business of their supermarkets or department stores - they too, are into comfort room business by collecting fees for the use of CR even by their own customers.

At the old Gaisano located at the second floor of Tacloban shopping center, they are collecting P2.00 for every use of CR to those who could not show any proof of purchase from said store - but to those who could show proof of purchase and would insist his/her right to use the comfort room they are selectively free of charge.

But at Gaisno Central, it is totally a different thing. At the entrance of its CR, a lady collector is posted and would only allow any person's entry to the toilet after paying P5.00. At the desk of the collector, there are two sign boards:

1.) "employees of the establishment are not allowed to use the CR."

2.) "All persons shall pay first P5.00 before using the comfort room."

Moreover, the lady collector clearly said costumers are also required to pay for the use of CR.

This writer happened to discover this at Gaisano Central last Saturday (May 30) morning when I treated my wife and my son for a snack at Jollibee located at the left entrance of Gaisano. After consuming a large glass of pineapple juice I felt like urinating -so I asked for the CR at Jollibee but a personnel said they don't have a comfort room. She, however, told me that there is a CR at the second floor of Gaisano.

This writer discovered further that both of these food chain, Joliibee and KFC, both located at left and right entrances of Gaisano Central have no comfort rooms.

Under P.D. 856 otherwise known as the Sanitation Code of the Philippines, all establishments serving food and drinks must provide comfort room(s), a facility that should be free of charge to anybody inside their establishment - to quote;

Section 21 of P.D. 856: Toilet and Washing Facilities

(a) Adequate and clean toilet facilities for male and female customers and personnel shall be provided in properly located areas.

(b) Toilet rooms shall not open directly into spaces where food is prepared, stored or served. Where such toilets exist, the doors shall be tight fitting and self-closing.

(c) Adequate hand-washing facilities shall be provided within or adjacent to toilet room.

(d) Facilities shall include hot and cold running water, single-service paper or cloth towel dispenser or drying device and soap or detergent.

Republic Act 856 or the Sanitation Code of the Philippines was signed into law on December 23, 1975 by the then President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Aside from the two food establishments at the entrance, Gaisano has also a food center fronting their grocery section.

In a random interview with at least 10 customers inside the store, all of them negatively commented regarding collection of payment for the use. They said Gaisano should not be collecting fees for the CR because, as a big establishment catering to thousands of customers daily it is their (Gaisano's) responsibility to provide such facility for their customers and employees.

Say of City

Health Office

Dr. Jaime Opinion, City Health Officer, told Leyte Samar Daily Express that under the law governing the operation of food establishments, malls, department stores, and any other establishment serving food and drinks, they are mandated to provide comfort room, urinals, and hand washing area, for their customers.

According to the City Health Officer, there is ratio as to how many bowls, urinals, lavatory or hand washing area should be provided therein - and this is depending on the size of the establishment and the volume of people coming in. Without these facilities, he said, a sanitary permit shall not be issued.

Opinion, however, pointed out that while it is specifically mentioned on the sanitation code that toilets should be provided, there is no mention that the management is prohibited from collecting fees for the use of the comfort room.

So, Opinion said, as a matter of regulation this facility (CR) should be extended to, at least, the customers for free - and should shoulder the maintenance of such.

The food establishments such as Jollibee and KFC at Gaisano are supposed to have their own CRs, but because they are operating inside a mall, where the CR is common, customers should not be charged for its use.

According to Opinion, as per report reaching his office, among other commercial establishments in the city, it is only Gaisano that is collecting fees for the use of the CR. Asked if the City Health Office has the power to compel Gaisano to stop the collection- he said, they have no power.

Robinsons Mall situated in Marasbaras here is opening on June 11- but the collection of fees for the use of CR will never happen, said Opinion.

Jun 03, 2009

Australian tested for H1N1 flu in Tacloban

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- An Australian national has been placed under observation at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) here for possible infection of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus when he showed flu-like symptoms days after arriving in Eastern Samar.

Dr. Alberto De Leon, chief of the EVRMC, said on Tuesday the hospital submitted the specimens taken from the 51-year-old patient to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for confirmatory tests.

The Australian national arrived in the country last May 28 and immediately proceeded to the hometown of his fiancee in Hernani town, Eastern Samar. But on June 1, he experienced high fever and cold, De Leon said.

High fever and cold are among the symptoms of the H1N1 flu virus.

On Monday, the Australian was brought to a private hospital here in the city for treatment, De Leon said.

"The doctor who examined him informed us that he had high fever and cold. He was immediately brought here at the EVRMC where he was placed in an isolation room," De Leon explained.

The EVRMC has been designated as the hospital in Eastern Visayas to treat and monitor patients showing the H1N1 flu symptoms.

Australia is one of the countries where there were confirmed H1N1 flu cases.

The results of the specimens submitted to the RITM would be known by Wednesday, De Leon said.

He allayed fears of the public about the H1N1 virus. The region, he said, had so far no confirmed case, as of Tuesday.

De Leon also said that the EVRMC has enough doctors and medicines to respond to possible H1N1 cases.

The Department of Health has confirmed 21 H1N1 flu cases nationwide.

Jun 02, 2009

PNP-8 soon to name recommendees to head Tacloban Police City Office

By Miriam Garcia Desacada

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Eastern Visayas police regional head Chief Supt. Mario San Diego yesterday said the Senior Officers Placement and Promotion Board (SOPPB) of the PNP Regional Office 8 is set to convene and deliberate the recommended senior police officers that will replace the position that soon to be vacated by now OIC-police chief of the newly reactivated Tacloban City Police Office four months after the Highly Urbanization of this city.

San Diego however refused to name those recommended senior police officers that will undergo the deliberation of the SOPPB before it will be submitted for selection of Mayor Alfred Romualdez who has the authority under the law to get his choice among the qualified police officers that will take the position as the new Tacloban City Police Office head.

Chief Directorial Staff, Senior Supt. Elmer Soria in a chance interview said they are strongly endorsing Senior Supt. Brigido Unay, presently head of the PRO-8 Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division.

Unay is a graduate of Philippine Military Academy class 85, who once served as Tacloban city police chief officer in-charge way back in 2002.

The name of Senior Supt. Pepito Pacada and Senior Supt. Manuel Cubillo reportedly are among the recommended senior officers that will qualify in the said position.

During the upgrading ceremony of de-deactivation from Tacloban Police station to Tacloban Police office, San Diego reiterated that additional troops will be deployed to this city police office, and will at the same time implement the upgrading of personnel positions as the high sheer of professionalism of the PNP.

"Of course considering that we have now upgrade to Tacloban city police office, they will now directly under the supervision of the PNP regional headquarters and no longer under the Leyte PNP office, we are always here to support and I am happy that Mayor Romualdez has been supportive to the needs of the PNP in Tacloban para ma-maintain natin ang peace and order, " San Diego said.

On his part, Mayor Alfred Romualdez also assured the construction of new PNP building in soonest possible time, yet he clarified that as of this writing no specific location where a new building of PNP headquarters will be constructed.

However, he is considering the a lot portion in Balyuan tower, for marine patrol.

"Yes we are planning to put a new PNP headquarters building... pero wala pa tayong specific na location, we are still fixing all the necessary process and the budget of course," Mayor Romualdez said.

Jun 02, 2009

Tacloban City Police Station upgraded to police office

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Tacloban City Police Station (TCPS) has been upgraded to Tacloban City Police Office (TCPO).

The upgrading was made official during the "TCPS Deactivation and Upgrading" held yesterday at the TCPS Quadrangle, this city, which was presided by PNP Regional Director Mario Sandiego.

The TCPS's application for the upgrading of its status into a city police office has recently been approved by the Philippine National Police (PNP) national headquarter paving the way for its implementation.

According to Supt. Rumulo Cleve Taboso, the current TCPS chief, the upgrading would mean a lot for the city police.

"This will have a big effect in our anti-criminality campaign program and other community based programs because of the logistical support we will receive from the national headquarters," he stressed.

Now that TCPS has been upgraded into a city police office, Taboso said there would be a tremendous increase in their funds like the monthly operational expenses budget from Camp Crame and other benefits. He said they would also have additional personnel to maintain the peace and order.

In addition, according to him, the TCPS would no longer be under the control of the PNP provincial command and would be headed by a police director. A city police office director is equal in position to a police provincial director and will be reporting directly to the police regional director, it was learned.

In his message, City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said the upgrading was a "milestone" and promised to continue his strong support to the police.

"This is a momentous development that we in the city government welcome a lot. As more businesses invest in Tacloban, we need more policemen to maintain the peace and order," Mayor Romualdez said.

As a consequence of its upgrading, according to Mayor Romualdez, the TCPO could have soon an additional 50 personnel to augment its current roster of around 200 policemen.

"My strong and full support to the city police will continue," he added.

It was learned that for the meantime the TCPO would be headed by Supt. Taboso.

Also present during the ceremony were City Councilors Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez and Pax Pacanan, City Prosecutor Ruperto Golong, City Administrator Roberto Muñoz, Executive Assistants Mike Zosa and Bernardita Valenzuela, City Legal Officer Sergio Sumayod, PNP Provincial Director Doroteo Palconit, and City DILG Officer Adoracion Peregrino.

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