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JUN (22-26) 2008 TACLOBAN NEWS


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Jun 26, 2008

RDCC spearheads Region 8 observance of Disaster Consciousness Month

By Marivic Alcober

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- This coming July, 2008 National Disaster Consciousness Month will be observed and the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council in Region VIII through its Chairman PCSupt. Abner D. Cabalquinto of the Police Regional Office, has lined-up several activities to highlight said event.

To formally start the celebration, it was learned that on July 2, a Holy Mass will be offered at 7:30 a.m. at the Chapel of Camp Ruperto Kangleon, Palo, Leyte to be followed by a motorcade around the City of Tacloban and the Municipality of Palo.

In view of said activities, personnel from government institutions who are members of the Regional, Provincial, and City Disaster Coordinating Councils are encouraged to be a part of the activity to make it more meaningful and to add color to the celebration. However, participating organizations are encouraged to bring their office vehicle.

Two groups of rescue teams and fire volunteers are expected to take part in the motorcade. These rescue teams are the Delta Fire Volunteer Brigade and the Tacloban Filipino-Chinese Volunteers.

RDCC Chairman Cabalquinto also welcomes interested members of Local Disaster Coordinating Councils to join the motorcade.

Jun 26, 2008

Frank-affected persons in Region 8 top 312,753

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The number of persons affected by typhoon Frank in Region 8 has considerably increased to 312,753 as more reports came in from the various municipalities in Region 8.

The latest update as of 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of June 25 coming from the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council signed by RDCC Chairman and Police Regional Office 8 Director Abner Cabalquinto showed that the number of families also increased to 62,364.

This number is a far cry from the previous report of 173,751 persons and 15,157 families affected by typhoon Frank which recently devastated Region 8 and a large part of the country.

To date, there are 6,369 houses in the Region which have been fully destroyed while 27,638 houses have been partially damaged.

The update came even as the various government agencies and the local government units concerned continue to take care of the affected families and persons in the Region.

About 49,798 persons and 10, 128 families who were affected in the 6 municipalities and 58 barangays of the province of Samar; while in the province of Eastern Samar, 83,539 persons or 17,385 families have been affected by typhoon Frank. This number covers 11 municipalities and 114 barangays of Eastern Samar.

In 17 municipalities and 236 barangays of the province of Leyte, there are about 135,986 people or 26,447 families affected by typhoon Frank.

The province of Biliran has 43,425 persons or 8,403 families affected by typhoon Frank in its 8 municipalities and 165 barangays.

Only 5 persons and 1 family have been so far reported to have been affected in the province of Southern Leyte. It was observed that only two of the 18 municipalities of the said province have reported.

Director Cabalquinto said that the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council of Region 8 continues to monitor the damages caused by typhoon Frank, by coordinating with the various local disaster coordinating councils and the concerned national line agencies.

Jun 26, 2008

Leyte stages first Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival sarswela performance

By Joey Lianza

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- For the first time, a sarsuela performance will be featured in the month-long Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival, thanks to the Leyte Normal University, the Province of Leyte and the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals Committee.

Entitled "Panahon han Kawara han Paglaum, "Pag-abot han Senyor Sto.. Nino ha Tacloban," the sarsuela will be staged at the RTR Plaza on June 30 coinciding with the 117th Feast of the Senor Sto. Nino.

Written by noted poet and playwright, Dr. Victor N. Sugbo, the sarsuwela is directed by Prof. Joey N. Lianza of the Leyte Normal University.

The sarsuela which is woven along the miraculous accounts of the Sto. Nino as remembered by the people of Tacloban, is LNU's contribution to the Tacloban City festivities and an expression of devotion to the Senor Sto. Nino, the Patron Saint of the Province of Leyte.

Dr. Sugbo intimated that " I wrote the play... primarily to remind the City and all devotees of what the Sto. Nino had symbolized in the collective imagination of our ancestors."

The narrative, Dr. sugbo said, is spun out of factual accouts about cholera, the tales of people about the Sto. Nino, and the memories of "my father and grandparents who lived closer to the time of the occurrence of the plague."

Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho "Icot" Petilla said he gave his full support for the revival of the sarsuwela in Leyte because he believes in "its power to remind us who we are and what we are capable of is in itself an affirmation of our being a people."

He added that the sarsuela reminds him of Iluminado Lucente, the unequalled father of Waray literature, who also wrote plays for the annual feasts of Sto. Nino.

Hon. Remedios "Matin" L. Petilla, chairperson of the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals and Vice President for Social Fund of PAGCOR, said that "the sarsuela harnesses the collective memory of a people at a time when the City was troubled by the plague."

For her part, Leyte Normal University President Dr. Evelyn C. Cruzada described the sarsuela as a memory built on "salvation through the intercession of our Patron Saint Senor Sto. Nino de Tacloban" as she stressed the importance of the zarsuela to Tacloban's history and its people.

Jun 26, 2008

Prices of basic commodities in Leyte rising, traders say


TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines - The Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has warned that prices of basic commodities would increase further next month if oil prices continue to increase this month.

Samuel Tiu, chamber president, said operators of major stores here have been absorbing the increases in production costs and have not adjusted their suggested retail prices this year.

"We have been tightening our belts. The present situation is still tolerable but if manufacturers will go on with price adjustments, we will be forced to raise prices by July," Mr. Tiu said in an interview.

Citing regular monitoring reports, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) information officer Lemuel Montes confirmed that there were slight adjustments in the retail prices of commonly used goods compared to three months ago and last year.

A leading brand of canned sardines sold in grocery stores in this city now costs P9.90 from P9.75 last March. The retail price of a 300 ml condensed milk went up to P45.65 from P45.25 early this year. A 400-gram loaf of bread now costs P32, up from P25 during the first quarter of 2008, due to the surge in the price of a hard flour brand to P980 this month from P650 last year.

Construction materials, especially the steel bars, are more expensive. A 10-millimeter steel bar costs almost double at P221.75 from P130 three months ago. A kilo of rice is more expensive by P10 to P20. Last month, the National Statistics Office reported that the regional inflation rate rose further to 11.3% from 10% in April and 5.5% in January.

Jun 26, 2008

Suspicious lines - Philippines

In the last two decades, four ships of Sulpicio Lines figured in catastrophic accidents, causing the death of several thousands. If an airline had that kind of record, it would have been hounded out of business. The question, then, that haunts the country's traveling public: Why is Sulpicio Lines still in business?

The question sounds unfair-unless, that is, it is understood in the context of the fourth sinking, the capsizing of its flagship Princess of the Stars last week, at the height of Typhoon "Frank."

Why was the ship even out at sea? What we hear from Sulpicio Lines management and from the Philippine Coast Guard, thus far, suggests that the shipping line has a higher threshold of risk. That tells us that the line has learned the wrong lesson from history. And there lies the problem.

On Dec. 20, 1987, MV Doña Paz sank after a collision with oil tanker MT Vector. More than 4,000 people died, making it the worst peacetime maritime disaster in history. (The qualifier "peacetime" does not mitigate the tragedy, it aggravates it. The only shipping disasters worse than the Doña Paz sinking were caused by wartime bombing.)

The legal struggle to hold Sulpicio Lines accountable for the Doña Paz tragedy has turned into an epic saga. To date, 21 years after the catastrophe, the true nature of Sulpicio Lines' accountability has not yet been established.

Less than a year after the sinking of Doña Paz, on Oct. 24, 1988, tragedy struck again. MV Doña Marilyn left Manila for Tacloban City, in the middle of a storm, despite the raising of the storm signal over Leyte from No. 2 to 3. When the ship capsized, at least 250 people died.

Ten years later, on Sept. 18, 1998, the line's biggest ship, MV Princess of the Orient, left Manila for Cebu City-again in the middle of a storm, and again with terrible loss of life. Princess of the Orient sank near Manila Bay, sending at least 150 passengers to their death.

The final death toll from the sinking of Princess of the Stars has not yet been determined, but it may reach into the hundreds. The real tragedy is: Each one was avoidable.

As in 1988 and in 1998, Sulpicio Lines had a choice. To wait out a typhoon, or to brave the difficult weather. That it chose to set sail, despite the likelihood of very rough seas, despite the decision of other shipping companies to wait for better weather, means the lessons of Doña Marilyn and Princess of the Orient have not in fact sunk in. That Sulpicio Lines decided to risk the voyage means the tragedy of Doña Paz had failed to force the company to redefine the meaning of risk.

For the shipping line, the real risk was losing its franchise. Since it did not lose it, since it continued to do business despite the Doña Paz trauma and despite the Doña Marilyn and Princess of the Orient disasters, allowing Princess of the Stars to leave harbor even in the middle of a storm did not constitute a risk. Loss of lives (which the company habitually computes at an insurable amount of P200,000 per passenger) is a mere inconvenience.

As in the other disasters, especially the similarly circumstanced sinking of Doña Marilyn and Princess of the Orient, Sulpicio Lines will seek refuge from accountability and liability in the sinking of Princess of the Stars by resorting to that familiar, reliable rationalization: force majeure.

Force majeure? Looks like force of habit to us.

Jun 25, 2008

Leyte declared calamity area; Bacolod to place areas under state of calamity

With reports from Sharon Evite, ABS-CBN Tacloban and Romeo Subaldo, ABS-CBN Bacolod

ABS CBN News - Philippines

Leyte province and Tacloban City which were hit hard by typhoon "Frank" have been placed under a state of calamity by local government officials.

Leyte's Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC), in a partial report, said that the estimated worth of damage to the province wrought by Typhoon Frank has reached P1.3 billion.

Of this, damage to crops was estimated at P495 million while damage to infrastructure was estimated P935 million.

Leyte's PDCC in its report said there were 10 casualties due to the recent typhoon. The Philippine National Red Cross however recorded 19 casualties while the Pffice of Civil Defense reported four casualties from the province.

Officials set to declare 33 barangays of Bacolod City as calamity areas

Bacolod City Acting Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson meanwhile said that the city government is set to declare 33 barangays calamity areas.

Sayson said that the declaration is needed so that local governments can release their calamity fund to alleviate the situation of affected residents in the areas as well as start the repair of damaged infrastructure including bridges, streets and houses.

Most of the barangays hardest-hit by the typhoon were those along the city's coastline.

3,500 families or 17, 519 individuals were reported affected by the typhoon which brought floods from heavy rains.

36 houses in the city were reported destroyed by the strong gusts of the typhoon while 614 houses were reported as partially damaged.

Jun 25, 2008

"Frank"-caused death toll in Region 8 reaches 22

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The unofficial count of deaths caused by typhoon Frank in Region 8 has reached the 22 number count.

The unofficial report came from the Philippine Red Cross Leyte Chapter which reported 19 casualties as of 8:00 o'clock in the morning of January 25.

Only the report from the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council is considered as the official report as the Council verifies the data from the government agencies concerned before reporting it to the NDCC and releasing it to the RDCC Information Committee.

Another casualty was reported at the Leyte Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council at 10:00 o'clock in the morning of January 25.

These reports added to the two confirmed deaths from the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council whose names are not included in the Red Cross report, make the total number of casualties to 22.

Four (4) of the reported casualties were from Baybay City, three (3) from Kananga; three (3) from Matag-ob; two (2) from Tacloban City; two (2) from Leyte town; two (2) from Villaba; and one (1) each from Abuyog, Tabango, Tolosa, Mahaplag, Capoocan and Merida, all in the province of Leyte.

Those who died due to typhoon Frank which hit the Region and a large part of the country on June 20, are Jhon Kenneth Gomez, 5 years old who died of drowning at Barangay Libertad, Kananga, Leyte; Rolando Alugbati, 49, who died of drowning due to flash floods at Barangay Kambungan, Baybay City; Lucena Abenoja, 12, who drowned due to flooding at Barangay Kabungaan, Baybay City; and Emeterio Catindoy of Olot, Tolosa.

Those reported by the Philippine National Red Cross Leyte Chapter were Ronilo Sabusap, 35, who died of drowning at Barangay 103 Tacloban City; Eurena Dupa Agner, 70, who died of hypothermia at Barangay 95, Tacloban City; and Linda Salipot, 42, of Barangay Talairan, Capoocan City who died due to an accident met while in the process of evacuation.

The other two casualties from Baybay City were Oliver Abenoja, 7, who died of drowning at Kabungaan and Ronaldo Alugbati who died of drowning at Barangay Canbungcang.

The other casualties from Kananga are Crystal Gomez, 1 who died of drowning; and Christopher Gomez, 4, who also died of drowning, both from Barangay Libertad.

From the municipality of Matag-ob, the casualties were Felicidad Damayo, 42; Levy Damayo, 2; and Jay Damayo, 4, all from Barangay Imelda.

In Villaba, the casualties were Clarita dela Cruz, 54, of Barangay Hibulanang; and Roberto Manalo, 52; while from the municipality of Leyte, the casualties were Arvin Dellera, 11, who was hit by a falling tree; and Marivic Quebec, 5, who was also hit by a falling tree.

The other reported casualties were Johnley Trenchera, 15, of Abuyog, who died of drowning; Jose Arribe, 55 of Gibacungan, Tabango, who died of drowning.

The lone casualty from Merida was Margarita Predes Y Meroy, 66 years old from Barangay Cabaliwan, who drowned while crossing a river.

Meanwhile, the various municipal and provincial disaster coordinating councils from all over Region 8 continues to receive reports on the damage of typhoon Frank, from the different barangays/municipalities.

The reports are then submitted to the Regional Development Council Operation Center at Office of Civil Defense Regional Office 8.

Jun 25, 2008

Earthquake rocks Eastern Samar

By Amita Legaspi


MANILA, Philippines - A 5.3-magnitude earthquake hit Eastern Samar Wednesday afternoon, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

In a bulletin, Phivolcs said the quake was tectonic in origin and felt at 2:40 p.m. Wednesday.

The ground movement's epicenter was located 59 kilometers east of Borongan. The quake has a depth of 20 kilometers, which is considered as shallow.

State seismologist said the ground movement was felt at Intensity III in Can-avid, Samar and Intensity II in Palo, Leyte and Tacloban City.

No aftershocks or damages are expected from the earthquake.

Jun 25, 2008

Marina checks Sulpicio's passenger ships

Sun.Star, Philippines

SULPICIO Lines Inc. will have to prove why its franchise should not be revoked, after the sinking of its largest vessel claimed at least 70 lives. Hundreds are still missing.

The show-cause order, issued by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) last June 23, will allow Sulpicio to air its side amid allegations that it failed to provide "safe, adequate, efficient, reliable and proper service at all times," contrary to what is stated in its certificate of public convenience.

Sulpicio has until tomorrow to submit its explanation.

Within 72 hours from the issuance of the order, Sulpicio Lines must also submit documents - passenger and cargo manifests, all pertinent ship and crew documents - to show measures undertaken to assist the victims and their families, and the report on coordination with the insurance company for the compensation of the relatives of fatalities.

The Coast Guard's (CG) Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) chaired by Admiral Ramon Liwag has started its investigation to determine who are responsible for the sinking of
the mv Princess of the Stars and the cause of the tragedy.

The BMI will summon Sulpicio owners and officers to shed light on the incident.

Marina, for its part, will conduct a hearing on the case against Sulpicio Lines today at its central office.

Yesterday, the weather bureau said the mv Princess of the Stars sailed out to sea even when typhoon signal number 2 was already hoisted in Romblon Province last Friday afternoon.

Worse, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) declared the area and its neighboring provinces under storm signal number 3, less than two hours after it left Manila port at 8:45 p.m.

The storm signal had not been lowered then when Pagasa released the 4 a.m. weather bulletin the next day, said Oscar Tabada, Pagasa 7 chief meteorological officer.

Eventually, the Princess ran smack into the path of typhoon Frank, pounding the 23,800-gross ton vessel with its maximum sustained winds of 170 kilometers per hour, he said.

Reports said the ship was considered dead in the water after its engine conked out in the rough seas off Sibuyan at noon last Saturday.

Lawyer Manuel Espina, Sulpicio Lines legal counsel, earlier said the incident was a force majeure (an act of God) because the vessel was sailing to Cebu, with the CG's consent, away from the storm's violent path.

But Frank's movement was cruel and erratic that it practically covered almost all areas in the Visayas.

"Morag to siya ug turista nga gasuroy-suroy," Tabada added.

He also said that the tragedy could have been avoided had the vessel returned to Manila or taken shelter in an island, allowing the storm to pass.

He found it better to err on the side of caution than take risks.

"But we do not have police power to bar the vessel from leaving. We only give warnings to the (maritime) agencies concerned," said the veteran weather official.

Meanwhile, Marina Administrator Vicente Suazo Jr. told Sun.Star Cebu that Sulpicio Lines' 13 passenger vessels remain suspended to ensure their seaworthiness and crew competence.

These vessels are mv Palawan Princess, mv Cebu Princess, mv Cagayan Princess, mv Dipolog Princess, mv Tacloban Princess, mv Cotabato Princess, mv Princess of Paradise, mv Filipina Princess, mv Princess of the Caribbean, mv Princess of the Ocean, MV Princess of the Universe, mv Princess of the South, and mv Princess of the Earth.

Marina 7 Director Glenn Cabañez said the suspension order can only be lifted once the vessels pass re-inspection and are audited by competent inspectors.

Two teams composed of six inspectors from the Marina central office arrived in Cebu yesterday to inspect and audit all Sulpicio Lines passenger vessels.

Jun 24, 2008

Hemorrhagic septicemia kills over 100 carabao in Samar

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- More than 100 carabao (water buffalo) afflicted with hemorrhagic septicemia have died in two towns on Samar Island this month, authorities said.

The disease has killed 105 carabao in Lapinig town, Northern Samar and in the neighboring town of Arteche, Eastern Samar.

Of these, 40 were from the villages of Palanas, May-igot and Mabini in Lapinig, the remaining 65 from the villages of Tibalawon, Aguinaldo and Catumsan in Arteche.

The first deaths from hemorrhagic septicemia occurred in the first week of June with the death of five carabao in Catumasan and Tibalawon villages.

But Department of Agriculture (DA)-Eastern Visayas executive regional director Leo Cañeda said on Monday that they have contained the spread of the disease.

Cañeda said the DA has established a buffer zone of three kilometers from all affected villages since last week to check the spread of the virus that causes the disease by preventing the movement of carabao.

Cañeda said the DA has also banned the slaughter of afflicted animals.

Hemorrhagic septicemia is a disease of cattle, buffalo, sheep and swine characterized by heavy death losses, especially in low-lying areas. It occurs when animals have been exposed to wet, chilly weather or are exhausted by heavy work and by transport.

Cañeda said the symptoms include high fever, swelling of the brisket, general body weakness, nasal discharge and conjunctivitis.

The disease is spread through ingestion of food contaminated with animals' secretions, among others.

Last year about 138 carabao in Las Navas, also in Northern Samar, died of hemorrhagic septicemia.

Lapinig Mayor Romualdo Menzon noted that the disease that hit three of his villages could affect the rice production of their town.

"Our farmers depend on the carabaos. So, the hemorrhagic septicemia that hit some of our villages has an impact in so far our rice production is concerned," Menzon said in a mobile phone interview on Monday.

About 15 farmers lost their carabaos due to the disease, Menzon said.

He claimed that the carabaos in the affected villages started when some of the villagers bought infected carabao meat from Catumasan.

Jun 24, 2008

Marina to open inquiry

By Chito Aragon - Philippines

CEBU CITY, Philippines -- A parallel investigation will be conducted soon by the regional Maritme Industry (Marina) office into Saturday's sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars.

But it will start only after a marine protest is filed by the ship's captain or Sulpicio Lines management, said Marina 7 chief Glen Cabanes.

The ship's captain or the chief mate can file the marine protest asking the Coast Guard to determine the cause of the accident.

As to when this would be filed, Cabanes said it depends on how soon they can find the ship captain or the chief mate or the management.

Marina earlier ordered the grounding of all 14 passenger vessels of Sulpicio Shipping Lines nationwide pending inspection for safety requirements.

It was the Board of Marine Inquiry that earlier "absolved" Sulpicio Lines of any responsibility for the December 20, 1987 sinking of Sulpicio's MV Doña Paz after it collided with an oil tanker at Tablas Strait, killing more than 4,000 people. It was the world's worst peacetime sea tragedy.

The board had found the oil tanker MT Vector at fault for the collision.

Again, the board concluded that the sinking of the Doña Marilyn was a force majeure or "an act of God" and that no one was responsible for the sea tragedy.

MV Doña Marilyn, another Sulpicio Lines ship, sailed from Manila to Tacloban despite stormy weather on October 24, 1988. The ship encountered huge waves and capsized, leaving at least 250 people dead.

Ten years later, the largest ship on the Sulpicio Lines fleet sank at the height of yet another typhoon.

On September 18, 1998, Typhoon "Gading" lashed at the MV Princess of the Orient, which was allowed to sail from Manila to Cebu City. The 24-year-old vessel capsized past noon near Fortune Island in Nasugbu town, Batangas, claiming the lives of 150 people.

Jun 24, 2008

Another sea tragedy - Philippines

It has happened again: A ship was given clearance to sail despite a warning that a typhoon would hit the general area where it would pass through within 24 hours. Waves "as tall as mountains" lashed the ship, MV Princess of the Stars, and sank it off Sibuyan Island in Romblon province. About 800 of the more than 862 persons aboard the ship were missing as of Sunday and were believed to have drowned.

If all the 800 missing passengers are finally declared dead, the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars would go into the records as the second-worst sea disaster in the Philippines. The country's-and the world's-worst peacetime sea disaster was the collision of the MV Doña Paz with MT Vector in Tablas Strait between the islands of Mindoro and Marinduque on Dec. 20, 1987 in which more than 4,000 people died.

One question being asked is why MV Princess of the Stars was allowed to sail despite the warning that Typhoon Frank (international code name: Fengshen) would hit the general area where it would pass on its way to Cebu City. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asked Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, Coast Guard chief, this question and he said that ships the size of the ill-fated vessel were not covered by storm warnings issued by the weather bureau. If this is true, then the guidelines should be revised to cover all vessels regardless of size. It is always better to err on the side of caution than take risks. We are talking of the lives of people here.

Another question: Why did the Coast Guard not exercise extra caution in this case, considering that Sulpicio Lines, which owns MV Princess of the Stars, has figured in many sea disasters? MV Doña Paz was a ship of the Sulpicio Lines. So were MV Doña Marilyn, which sank on Oct. 24, 1988, and MV Princess of the Orient, which went down on Sept. 18, 1998.

MV Doña Marilyn was allowed to sail for Tacloban City although Storm Signal No. 3 had been raised over Leyte. Battered by huge waves caused by Typhoon Unsang, it capsized and 250 lives were lost. It was the second worst maritime disaster in the Philippines since 1987.

Another Sulpicio ship, MV Princess of the Orient, lashed by the strong winds of Typhoon Guding on Sept. 18, 1998, sank near the mouth of Manila Bay and 150 lives were lost. It was the third worst sea disaster in the country.

Given the bad record of Sulpicio Lines, why did the authorities not exercise extra caution before giving MV Princess of the Stars clearance to sail?

Another question: Was the ship 100-percent seaworthy? Considering its size and its relative large passenger capacity, shouldn't it have been rigorously inspected to determine whether it could safely negotiate a sea voyage?

Regional Coast Guard officer Cecil Chen said that with a typhoon approaching, the ship was radioed to take shelter and its captain tried to do that. However, the engine failed and the ship was dead in the water, right in the path of the typhoon with its 170 kph winds.

If Sulpicio Lines were a human being, it would be considered a "recidivist." It has not been sanctioned and made to pay enough for the big toll in terms of lives lost in the three worst maritime disasters in the country since 1987. On Oct. 29, 1988 the Board of Marine Inquiry absolved Sulpicio Lines of any responsibility in the sinking of the MV Doña Paz and found MT Vector at fault. In 1992, a Manila regional trial court held Sulpicio Lines "solely responsible" for the accident and ordered it to pay P1.2 million to the heirs of two victims. In 1996, the Court of Appeals absolved Sulpicio Lines of any liability and laid the blame on Vector and Caltex Philippines, which had leased the tanker. In September 2006 the Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling ordering Sulpicio Lines to pay P14.9 million to the family of an engineer who died in the sinking of the MV Doña Paz.

In the case of MV Doña Marilyn, the Board of Marine Inquiry said the disaster was due to force majeure or "an act of God,'' and held no one responsible. In September 2000, the Department of Justice dropped the criminal case against Sulpicio Lines in connection with the sinking of MV Princess of the Orient, saying that it could not be held criminally responsible for the accident.

What all these cases, including the latest tragedy, indicate is that there is a very low regard for the value of human life, a very loose and relaxed set of rules on clearances for sailing, and possible irregularities in the issuance of such clearances.

Jun 24, 2008

173,751 persons affected by typhoon Frank
in Region 8

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- A total of 173,751 persons in Region 8 have been affected by the onslaught of typhoon Frank, the latest update of the Department of Social Welfare and Development thru the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council of Region 8 showed.

The same update revealed that 15,157 families in the region were affected; about 5,366 houses were totally damaged and 22,753 houses were partially damaged.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 8 Director Letecia Corillo informed that family packs are already being distributed to the affected families in the affected areas in the Region.

The family pack includes rice, noodles, milk, coffee, rice and 3 canned goods, Director Corillo added.

Of the total number of affected persons, the province of Leyte accounted for 75,292; the province of Samar, 56,070; the province of Eastern Samar had 41,325; Southern Leyte accounted for 5 persons while Biliran accounted for 1,059. There was no report received from Northern Samar yet.

In the province of Leyte, the municipality of Carigara accounted for the biggest number of affected person, 42,480. Tacloban City accounted for 16,090 persons affected; Ormoc City, 495; Baybay City, 8242; Palompon, 7925; Tanauan, 50 and Kananga and Inopacan have 5 each.

The municipality of Basey in Samar province chronicled the biggest number of affected persons with 36,272; the municipality of Pinabacdao accounted for 15,158 persons; Hinabangan, 4555 and Sta. Margarita, 85. Only 5 out of the more than 20 municipalities in Samar have sent in their report as of this writing.

In the province of Eastern Samar, the municipality of Guiuan chronicled a total of 32,935 persons affected. The two other towns with reports are Balangiga with 8,250 and Maydolong, 140.

Only the capital town of Naval in the province of Biliran has submitted its report, with 1059 affected persons while in the province of Southern Leyte, the 5 affected persons reported are from the municipality of Tomas Oppus.

The Regional Disaster Coordinating Council under the leadership of Police Region 8 Director Abner Cabalquinto continues to coordinate and receive reports from the various local disaster coordinating councils all over the Region in order to be able to any situation that necessitates immediate action.

Jun 23, 2008

'Frank' wreaks P1.65B damage to property

By Joel Guinto, Katherine Evangelista - Philippines

MANILA, Philippines -- Typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen) wrought an estimated P1.65 billion in damage to property, officials said Monday.

Health Secretary Francisco T .Duque III, who flew with Vice-President Noli de Castro to Iloilo asses the health situation and determine the scope of damages in affected provinces, said the Western Visayas region was the hardest hit by the storm.

According to a report from the National Disaster Coordinating Council, "Frank" caused P888.55 million in damage to infrastructure and agriculture in Leyte province, and P52 million in damage to schoolbuildings in Samar Island, and Tacloban and Calbayog cities in Leyte.

In Iloilo province, 165,000 sacks of rice were destroyed after floodwaters entered a warehouse of the National Food Authority (NFA), Agriculture undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla said at an NDCC news briefing.

Duque said that, also in Iloilo, barangay (villages) Simon, San Roque, and Iping were flooded, and a dam in the municipality of San Miguel and bridges in Cabanatuan and Maasin were "heavily damaged." Likewise, Kamandag Elementary School in the municipality of Leon was damaged after a landslide.

In Antique province, a flashflood hit Sibalom municipality and the Antique-to-Iloilo road was closed. Most evacuees in the province were staying in churches, Duque said.

Two still unidentified persons are missing in Guimaras province. The Aniway District Hospital and Federico Roman Tirador Hospital were flooded, requiring the transfer of patients to the Labunan District Hospital.

Floodwaters destroyed roads and bridges, costing P710 million, in Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), and in Western and Eastern Visayas, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported during the NDCC briefing.

In Marinduque province, 50 percent of rice lands were damaged, while 100 percent of lands planted to corn and bananas were destroyed. Another 40 percent of coconut trees were also destroyed, Fondevilla said.

But Fondevilla said the storm did not damage farm lands in Central Luzon, where the rain was even beneficial to newly-planted crops.

Duque said the Department of Health (DoH) has sent nearly P500,000 worth of drugs, medicines and other supplies to Western Visayas to augment the region's supply.

DoH-Western Visayas is continuously monitoring the situation through a 24-hour operations center, with regular updates reported to the DoH central office and NDCC.

Meanwhile, a rapid health assessment and surveillance was conducted in Metro Manila where some 2,603 families were sheltered in 22 evacuation centers because of flooding. The DoH has also activated a regional disaster and response plan.

On the other hand, the DoH Center for Health Development in Metro Manila has prepared and distributed health advisories on communicable diseases to affected areas.

Jun 23, 2008

33,000 families evacuated in Eastern Samar

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Over 33,000 families in Eastern Visayas were evacuated when floods caused by typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen) hit their areas.

Leyte province posted the most number of affected families at 14,242 or 75,652 persons from 146 barangay (villages), Pauleen Nadera of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.

As of Monday morning, the DSWD records showed that there was flooding in 51 barangay in Eastern Samar, resulting in the evacuation of 8,287 families or 41,325 persons.

In Samar province, the flooding affected about 10,128 families or 49,798 persons from 56 barangay.

In Biliran, 13 of its villages were afffected by 2-foot-high floods, resulting in the dislocation of 914 families or 1,059 persons.

About 3,200 families or 16,000 persons in Tacloban City were also dislocated by Frank.

Meanwhile, power has been restored to 50 percent of the entire Samar Island, consisting of Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar, National Transmission Corp. spokesperson Edna Legaspina said.

Legaspina said that about 16 power poles were either toppled down or broken in Samar provinces while 34 poles in Leyte were toppled or damaged.

In Leyte Island and Biliran, only six percent of the entire area remained without electricity.

The municipal disaster coordinating council reported that the typhoon destroyed more than P15.2 million worth of infrastructures like roads, bridges and flood control systems.

The damage to crops and rice reached to more than P5 million while 7,140 families or 42,840 persons in 49 villages were displaced.

Jun 23, 2008

Leyte estimates Frank's partial damage to agri and infra at P888.550-M

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Partial reports coming from five municipalities of the province of Leyte showed an estimated damages to agriculture and infrastructure at P888.550 Million.

This was gathered from the Operations Center of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council in Region 8.

The damage to infrastructure and agriculture in Capoocan town was placed at P5.4 Million.

The municipality of Kananga reported that the damaged to infrastructure was estimated at P211.245 Million while that of the agriculture was placed at P30.705 Million.

Meanwhile, the municipality of Isabel reported a P250 Million damage to infrastructure and P380 Million damage to agriculture.

About P1 Million damage to infrastructure was reported by the municipality of Jaro while the municipality of Bato reported an estimated P10.2 Million damage to infrastructure and agriculture.

More reports are being expected to be received on Monday, June 23, as the office work resumes in the various local government units.

The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council of the Province of Leyte headed by no less than Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla have been working hard to reach out to the affected areas in the Province and to monitor the situations in the various municipalities of Leyte.

Meanwhile, the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council of Region 8 reported that the province of Eastern Samar is still conducting clearing operations.

Teams 1 and 2 of the Rapid Assessment Group conducted an aerial survey of Eastern Samar as part of its continuous monitoring activities to determine the damages caused byt typhoon Frank. This, even as Governor Evardone laments the slow submission of reports from the various municipalities of Eastern Samar which he attributes to poor access due to bad road conditions.

Governor Evardone is set to call for a meeting of the Eastern Samar Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council on Tuesday.

Furthermore, search and rescue operations are still on-going in the municipality of Liloan, Southern Leyte, RDCC 8 reported. The Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council of Malitbog, also in Southern Leyte, were also reported to have conducted search and rescue operations.

Jun 23, 2008

Typhoid fever downs 48 in Leyte village

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The regional office of the Department of Health in Eastern Visayas reported that about 48 persons have been afflicted with typhoid fever in a village in Abuyog town, Leyte.

Boyd Cerro, regional sentinel nurse of DOH 8, said the victims were all residents of Barangay Balocawe, located some seven kilometers away from the town proper.

The contaminated open dug well, source of the drinking water of the village's 1,608 residents, was traced as the cause of the illness, according to Cerro.

Last Wednesday, the regional health office distributed antibiotics and other medicines to the victims. They were also given chlorine tablets to disinfect the water coming from the open dug well.

Cerro said their investigation had revealed that the first typhoid fever in the village occurred in the second week of May.

But it was only last Wednesday that their office was informed about the typhoid fever cases in the village by the local sanitary officer.

"Typhoid fever, among its manifestation, is prolonged fever. And some of the victims chose to conduct self-medication, the reason until this week, we still have some cases of typhoid fever there," Cerro explained.

The regional sentinel nurse said that of the 48 persons afflicted, only six were treated in a hospital.

Cerro said they also advised the villagers to observe personal hygiene to prevent the further spread of the disease.

"We also advised them to boil their drinking water," Cerro said.

The health official said that with the onset of the rainy season, he expected more typhoid fever cases to occur in the region, especially in areas that depend on open sources for their drinking.

Early this week, typhoid fever also downed 20 persons in Barangay San Miguel in Hernani town, Eastern Samar, with its open spring as the cause of the ailment.

Dr. Benefrida Bacunawa, town health officer, said the victims have been ailing for the past three weeks but decided to seek medical assistance only on Wednesday.

Jun 22, 2008

Typhoon Frank renders several Region 8 roads, bridges impassable

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Several roads and bridges were rendered impassable due to typhoon Frank which battered Eastern Visayas on Friday afternoon up to Saturday morning.

Due to flash floods, Carigara Bridge, halfway between Tacloban City and Ormoc City, was affected. It was closed to traffic and so commuters from Ormoc going to Tacloban and vice versa had to alight from their vehicles and walk their way to the other side where they will take another transportation going to their destination.

The Department of Public Works and Highways in Region 8, however, is doing immediate rehabilitation and repair of the Bridge. The latest news late this afternoon showed that the bridge is already passable to vehicles.

In the province of Leyte, the Santo Rosario-Villaba road section was reported to be impassable to traffic. The Department of Public Works and Highways called on the motorists to take the alternative route at Villaba-Tabango-Calubian and Villaba-Ormoc-Tacloban.

In the province of Southern Leyte, the Agas-Agas road section has been closed to traffic since Saturday. The commuters are advised to take the alternative route that is through the Baybay City road, the Department of Public Works and Highways said.

It would be recalled that the Agas-Agas road section is the most landslide prone road section going to Southern Leyte. The government is already constructing a viaduct so that commuters will no longer have to pass the Agas-Agas road section.

The South coastal road of Eastern Samar has been rendered impassable on Saturday due to fallen and inclined electric posts, trees and other debris.

The Department of Public Works and Highways called on the commuting public to bear this temporary inconvenience, as it gave its assurance that the Agency is doing its best to make these road passable the soonest possible time.

Jun 22, 2008

Several parts of Region 8 remain in total darkness

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Several provinces in Region 8 remain in total darkness after the onslaught of typhoon Frank in Region 8.

Electricity will be restored on Monday, June 23, in the province of Biliran after about 26 electric posts in several towns either fell down or tilted because of typhoon Frank.

Eastern Samar remains in darkness since Friday morning and reports coming in stated that power will hopefully be restored after one week.

Northern Samar is still experiencing power black out which is not that surprising already, one observer said, because it always experience black outs anyway.

Electricity in the province of Samar was restored Saturday morning to the delight of the people, while in Leyte, power was restored about noontime of Saturday.

This morning, RDCC personnel took a helicopter to view the different sites in the Region and the general observation is that despite the damage to electric posts, Eastern Visayas was not affected that much.

This was learned from Mr. Rey Gozon of the Office of Civil Defense and Regional Disaster Coordinating Council Region 8 who went around the Region.

He however said that reports from some parts of the Region have not yet been received.

In the province of Eastern Samar for example, the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council has not received the reports coming from the different municipalities yet.

Governor Evardone has called for a Provincial Disaster Coordination Council meeting on Tuesday, June 25 in order to get the report from the municipal mayors who are all members of the said council.

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