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Mar 27, 2009

Expansion plan being push at ICT Park to fuel economic growth

By Ahlette C. Reyes

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Plans are currently being laid on the table as the provincial government is set to capitalize on the bigger growth of the ICT industry in the province to fuel economic growth.

This through a plan to expand infrastructure inside the Leyte ICT Park which is presently occupied by several ICT industry players, including the newly-opened APAC Customer Service Inc. and other local technology-based enterprise.

According to Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla, the expansion plan is specifically for additional buildings to house more locators.

"After APAC, I would like to invite again and I think I could invite more to locate at the Leyte ICT Park. However, before we can even invite more, we should have a place to show our investors that this is actually the place they can locate their companies in," Gov. Petilla said.

He said his talks with some top officials of the business process outsourcing in the country reveals that BPO and ICT business would still be brisk this year despite the global economic slowdown.

Leyte, he said, has become an alternative hub for provincial expansion of BPO and ICT players because of its existing fiber optic connections, a good education system with 5,000 to 8,000 graduates every year, and incentives from the local government.

The BPO and ICT Industry is known as the "Sunrise Industry" of the country, due to the fact that this industry has brought in millions of dollars in investment from foreign companies, while creating several thousand jobs in the process.

The governor said with ICT coming in expansion of both upstream and downstream industries are seen like telecommunications, food, real estate, construction, electronics, transportation, entertainment and lifestyle businesses.

Lives and destinies of the people in the other provinces such as Cebu, Davao and Negros are actually changing dramatically for the better with the entry of ICT players, and Leyte, Gov. Petilla stressed, can duplicate that.

"All these have to be sustained by further strengthening the ICT sector. I have already made initial talks with the board members on this plan," the governor disclosed.

He added that the Leyte ICT Park as well as its nearby areas possesses great potentials, not only as an IT destination, but as an alternative business hub that could beef up economic activities in the province and the region.

Mar 26, 2009

Traffic cops give OK on Tacloban number-coding scheme

By Jenette Fariola-Ruedas

ABS CBN News - Philippines

After a week-long dry run of the proposed number coding traffic scheme in Tacloban City, traffic policemen has recommended that the city council approve the system, a city councilor said.

"They recommended the approval of the said number coding scheme since they have seen the positive effect of the system to the traffic flow in the city," said Tacloban City Councilor Jerry Yaokasin, member of the Committee on Transportation.

Yaokasin proposed the scheme after transport groups in San Jose and Diit requested to have the scheme tried first. The proposed scheme reportedly aims to help decongest traffic in the city and help drivers earn more income.

The traffic division of Tacloban City police submitted its assessment report regarding the number coding system which was tested in the Tacloban-San Jose route and the Tacloban-Diit route. The scheme is also supposed to help alleviate the difficult traffic situation being experienced by more than 40 public utility vehicles plying these routes, especially in the downtown area.

The proposed ordinance is pending before the Tacloban City Council. Should it be approved, it would be the first number coding scheme to be implemented in the city.

Mar 24, 2009

War photos brought to Manila for upgrading

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The well-known World War II photo collection displayed at the Hotel Alejandro in this city was temporarily removed for upgrading, Mr. Alex Montejo, hotel proprietor, disclosed recently.

According to Montejo, the 600-photo collection, composed mostly of rare photographs taken during the Second World War, was shipped outside the region recently to be upgraded by a Manila-based company.

"Glass frames will be replaced and picture sizes would be standardized there," he revealed.

Montejo said that they are targeting to "re-launch" the exhibit by September of this year.

"We will let the public know the date it would be re-opened," he promised. Montejo, added that once it is re-opened the public could continue to view the collection for free.

Mar 24, 2009

PSC donates boxing ring to Tacloban

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) donated recently a P200, 000 boxing ring plus accessories to the City Government of Tacloban to support its Sports Development Program.

The Boxing Ring and accessories were turned-over Friday by PSC to the Tacloban City Sports Office.

According to City Sports Director Joel Bugho, the donation was made possible through the initiative of City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

Bugho said the new Boxing Ring plus accessories cost around P245, 000.

Aside from the Boxing Ring, the donation also included several sets of Boxing Gloves, Head Guard, Mouthpiece, Head Bandage, and Foul Preventer.

Bugho said that the boxing ring would be assembled and put in place at the Tacloban City Astrodome.

"The donation is very much welcome. With the new equipment, we can now implement a continuing Boxing Development Program," he pointed out.

Mar 22, 2009

Tacloban observes Earth Hour on March 28

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Tacloban City is scheduled to join the city of Manila and other cities in Europe, America and Asia in observing Earth Hour by switching off lights for 60 minutes, from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening of March 28.

The activity is spearheaded by the JCI-Candahug Liberation together with the Kabang Kalikasan ng Pilipinas and World Wildlife Foundation, in order to help promote actions to reduce pollution and wasteful exploitation and consumption of resources and energy..

JCI member Bonifacio V. Hernandez Jr., project chairman, said that the participation of the residents of Tacloban City will go a long way in spreading the message that "we as an individual droplets working together collectively, can create an impetus far more powerful that the mightiest rivers."

He called on the people of Tacloban to participate by switching off their lights on March 28, from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening, to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming, the greatest threat the earth has ever faced.

In connection with the Earth Hour, a Walk for a Cause and Bicycle Ride will be conducted right after the switching off of lights at the Tacloban City Convention Center. Both means of transportation are environment friendly and will improve the health of the people, Mr. Hernandez said.

The assembly time is at 7:00 o'clock in the evening at Tacloban City Astrodome. The route will be from the Astrodome to Real St., Avenida Veteranos, Rizal Avenue, Justice Romualdez to Balyuan Ampitheater.

At the Balyuan Ampitheater, a "Tugtugan para sa kalikasan" concert will be conducted as a culminating activity for the significant event.

This is the second year that Tacloban joined the Earth Hour. Tacloban is the second city of the Philippines to join the world-wide activity. The first city to participate is Manila.

Earth Hour is the highlight of a major campaign to encourage businessmen, communities and individuals to take the simple steps needed to cut their emissions on an ongoing basis.

About 1,858 cities, towns and municipalities in 81 countries of the world have already committed to participate in the Earth Hour 2009 as part of the world's global demonstration to save the earth against global warming.

Mar 18, 2009

Alfred inducts barangay chairmen as part of disaster management/monitoring team

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Mayor Alfred Romualdez inducted into office on March 16 the Tacloban chairmen as part of the disaster management and monitoring team in the city after they attended a one day seminar called " Disaster Risk Management" held at the Balyuan Convention Center.

The seminar was jointly conducted by the regional and city DILG. Among the disasters management taught to the chairmen were about fire, tsunami, flood, earthquake etc.

In his short talk, Romualdez urged the chairmen to be very active in responding to any problem, especially on any emergency in their respective barangays so that the same could also immediately reach his office and action be taken immediately.

Early on during his first months as local chief executive, he established the police hotline 8888 so that call for help on emergencies could be responded by police, fire department, and mayor's office. To combat crimes, he provided the city police with new motorcycles, cars and high powered long arm gun including handheld radios to maintain the peace and order in the city

He also called the attention of every barangay executive to conspicuously post signage of entrance and exits in their respective barangays to guide the people where to go in case of emergency and avoid being lost inside the narrow passageways. The mayor made this statement based on his personal observation as he continues to conduct his barangay visitation with 3-4 barangays a day.

The majority of the 138 chairmen who attended the seminar, were told by the mayor to prepare the list of their immediately concerns in the barangays as he will visit soon with his on going visitations.

He said, minor and immediate concerns could be addressed right away while the bigger ones, such as construction of gymnasium, school buildings, day care and health centers, covered court, etc. would undergo yet the usual program of work.

Also in the same occasion, Mayor Romualdez, awarded the plaque of recognition and cash prizes to the winners of last year's search for "Most Functional Barangay." Barangay 69 Anibong headed by Chairman Noel Tabao and Brgy 48-B headed by Chairman Lourdes Palo bagged the first prize for category A and B respectively, while Brgy. 110 Utap headed by Omar Velasco got the most outstanding Lupon Tagapamayapa award in the regional and city level. They won based on the criteria set by the DILG for the search, it was learned.

Mar 16, 2009

Bagulaya downplays apparent row between city, prov'l officials

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Leyte Vice Governor Mimiette Bagulaya downplayed the apparent row between officials of the city government of Tacloban and that of the provincial government regarding the staging of the Palarong Pambansa this summer.

The Palarong Pambansa, being a national event, should be insulated from politics but officials of both local government units must work together for its success, said the vice governor during the weekly "Express it at the Park" held at the Leyte Park Resort Saturday morning.

"I just hope that the issue on the Palarong Pambansa should not be politicized. And I think, it should not be the case. This is a national event being hosted by the provincial government (of Leyte) but is being held in Tacloban City," Bagulaya said.

She stressed that the alleged politicization of the Palarong Pambansa is just a "speculation."

Bagulaya said the holding of the Palarong Pambansa would serve as a vehicle for Leyte and this city to promote their respective localities among the thousands of visitors who would come for the said event.

"It's not only Leyte that will benefit from the Palaro but Tacloban which will primarily benefit from it. Imagine, the thousands of delegates coming from the 17 regions converging here in Tacloban," the vice governor added.

The holding of the Palarong Pambansa in the city, first since 1983, has become the latest battleground between the city and provincial governments.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez had flatly refused to co-host the staging of the annual sporting events together with the provincial government under Governor Carlos Jericho "Icot" Petilla, citing financial difficulties as a reason.

The mayor and the governor, though both allies of President Macapagal-Arroyo, are political rivals.

The President has confirmed her attendance to the opening of the Palarong Pambansa on April 28 at the Leyte Sports Center, otherwise known as the BR Sports Complex (grandstand).

Around 10,000 delegates from the country's 17 administrative regions are estimated to join on the one-week sports spectacle. The athletes are from the elementary and secondary schools.

The provincial government has allocated around P75 million to refurbish the Leyte Sports Center and other venues located outside the city as well as the billeting areas of the delegates.

Vice Governor Bagulaya said that everybody should work together to ensure a successful staging of the Palarong Pambansa, first held in the region 26 years ago.

Bagulaya said that all the six governors in the province have agreed to join their forces together to make this year's national event a very successful one.

This early, the host province vows that this year's Palarong Pambansa would be "unique" compared to previous staging. Several off competition events have been lined up by the organizing committee, which includes a program involving showbiz personalities whose roots are from the region.

Mar 14, 2009

11 wanted persons in EV arrested

By Restituto A. Cayubit

Leyte Samar Daily Express

CAMP RUPERTO KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte -- Eleven wanted persons have been arrested in just four days time of the assumption of office by the new Eastern Visayas Philippine National Police regional director, the highest EV PNP 8 official said in an interview at his office here.

Police Chief Supt. Mario R. Sandiego, PNP-8 regional director, said that 11 wanted persons in Eastern Visayas have been arrested in just four days of his formal assumption to office and those wanted persons were arrested due to committing acts punishable by law such as robbery with violation or intimidation of person, murder, kidnapping, estafa, rape, theft, using force upon things, among others.

Sandiego, a member of PMA class 1977 and a lawyer who assumed as the new PNP 8 regional director last March 4, stressed that there will be more arrests to come for wanted persons in Eastern Visayas.

He added that the maintenance of peace and order in Eastern Visayas at all times is his main goal and asked for the cooperation of the Local Government Units and the community as well.

He stressed that the rule of the law shall prevail Region 8, saying that he believes that peace officers should not only be master the art of investigation and apprehension of criminals, but as law-abiding, trustworthy, responsible public servants in the community. "We must always contribute in educating the people about the ill-effects of criminality in society."

He also said that there is a need to continuously intensify the campaign against the implementation of the special laws such as apprehension of illegal loggers, illegal gamblers, wanted persons among others.

Mar 14, 2009

30 youngsters will graduate from theater arts training

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- At least 30 young individuals will graduate this month from the theater arts training workshop as the pioneering group of the Tacloban's Theater Guild launched over a month ago.

According to Councilor Cristina G. Romualdez, this first graduates is currently preparing a big production for the upcoming City fiesta in June this year.

The lady councilor told Leyte Samar Daily Express that her purpose in bringing into being the Tacloban Theater Guild is to discover and promote the local talents among Taclobanons and bolster the culture and arts in the city.

Before the theater guild, councilor Romualdez also organized a cultural group now called "The Tacloban Performing Arts Group" that was presented in several shows here.

According to Romualdez, she was amazed during the auditions because she discovered a lot of talented individuals in Tacloban who have no outlet before for their hidden theatrical abilities.

" Nasorpresa ako, ang dami palang magagaling sa acting, dancing at singing dito sa Tacloban-kaya I encourage more people to submit themselves for auditions, just visit my office at Balyuan, and be a proud member of the theater guild," she said.

At this early, the lady councilor said, the city is now conceptualizing a more festive fiesta activities compared to the last celebration-and one of these attractions in June is the big production number being prepared now by the pioneering products of the Tacloban Theater Guild.

Mar 13, 2009

City council declares RTR Plaza as 'Freedom Park'

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Remedios Trinidad Romualdez (RTR) Plaza in this City has been declared as Freedom Park.

The Tacloban City Council, during its regular session on Wednesday, passed on third and final reading an ordinance declaring the RTR Plaza as Freedom Park following the recommendation by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez, principal author of the Tacloban City Freedom Park Ordinance of 2009, said the declaration is in line with section 15 Batas Pambansa 880 that directs all local government units to establish or designate at least one suitable freedom park or plaza in every city and municipality of the country.

"The designation of a place where the people can air their grievances is long overdue," Councilor Romualdez said. "We didn't have a Freedom Park here in this City for a very long time."

Asked why they chose RTR Plaza instead of other public parks in the City, Councilor Romualdez explained that they see it as the most suitable place for such designation.

"The Balyuan Park is too small, while Plaza Rizal is adjacent to the Sto. Niño Church, hence not an appropriate place where demonstrations or rallies would be held," she emphasized.

Councilor Romualdez added that the designation of the RTR Plaza as a freedom park also came out of their concern that the place is being turned into a "beer garden."

"We have received numerous complaints regarding brawls and other untoward incidents that have occurred there because of the beer," Councilor Romualdez pointed out." We are just trying to protect people here, especially schoolchildren."

Councilor Romualdez noted that the said plaza is adjacent to the Sto. Niño SPED Center and the Department of Education (DepEd) City Division.

As defined by BP 880, public assemblies conducted in freedom parks shall be exempted from the requirement of a prior permit for their use from the office of the mayor. But, organizers of assemblies shall send written notices to the city or municipal mayor and to the chief of police to allow proper coordination and in order to ensure orderly activities.

Mar 13, 2009

City government cuts down on expenses that do not directly benefit the people

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

City government cuts down on expenses that do not directly benefit the people

TACLOBAN CITY -- Mayor Alfred Romualdez revealed that his administration has instituted various measures to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis, the effect of which is also being felt in the city.

And among these measures is the cutting down expenses that would not directly benefit the people of the city, he said.

He was particularly referring to incurring expenses relative to the forthcoming Palarong Pambansa which is being hosted by the provincial government of Leyte and that of the Department of Education.

The city mayor, however, was quick to say that he is not against on the holding of the national sporting events in the city, "only that it's not my priority."

"I'd rather spend on more important things that will benefit our poor people," Romualdez said.

According to him, spending millions of pesos at this time of financial crisis is not a sound idea. "Imagine, we'll be spending P20 million to P 30 million and even P75 million for this event?" he said.

The city mayor could have been referring to the amount to be spent by the provincial government in rehabilitating the Leyte Sports Center, the main venue of the games, and the billeting areas for the delegates.

Romualdez had earlier turned down a proposal for the city government to co-host the Palarong Pambansa, citing the typhoon that hit the city June of last year that resulted to destructions of properties amounting to millions of pesos.

The city mayor made his point in a communication addressed to Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.

The city mayor said that to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis which is now affecting Tacloban, several measures are being implemented by his office, aside from the cost-cutting measures.

Among these are the implementation of various infrastructure done in a "bayanihan" style and pushing for group of individuals to avail of credit facilities offered by the city government through the City Cooperatives Development and Livelihood Assistance Office.

"We are doing a lot of things to address the (crisis) and to help our people," the city mayor said.

With the implementation of these measures, the city government would not only save several millions of city funds but more importantly, create employment in the city, Romualdez said.

In the case of various infrastructure projects in the barangays, the "bayanihan style" is being re-introduced in the city.

With this kind of system, the project could be finished in short period of time with the local residents employed as workers. "It's the city government which pays for their labor," Romualdez said.

Under his administration, the city's 138 barangays are being provided with funds as high as P300,000 to fund their projects.

It was learned from Romualdez that at least P10 million has been allocated to the City Cooperatives Development and Livelihood Assistance Office.

The amount is available for those who are interested to seek financial loan from the city government, he added.

"By forming a cooperative, several people could benefit from it. It's really for our people," the city mayor said.

Romualdez said that a 20-hectare agricultural land in the northern barangays was developed by the city government into a techno-demo farm, where high-yielding vegetables and other farm products as well as animal dispersal were made available.

Mar 11, 2009

Arroyo to grace Palarong Pambansa opening

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

No less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself will attend the opening ceremony of this year's Palarong Pambansa in Leyte on April 28.

This was confirmed by Philippine Information Agency regional director Olive Tiu in an interview.

But aside from the Palaro opening, the President is also expected to attend the ground-breaking ceremony for Tacloban Daniel Z. Romualdez airport redevelopment project.

Tiu also revealed that PGMA might also hold a Cabinet meeting in Palo town.

She said infrastructure projects related to government efforts to boost the region's tourism industry might be discussed in the meeting.

"This is really good for the people in region eight. This just goes to show that the President is sincere and committed to have her various projects fully implemented or finished before the end of her term," Tiu said.

Mar 11, 2009

Tacloban to host Zest Air flights this month

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

A major airport in Tacloban City announced this week that it will host a new airline company.

Tacloban Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) airport manager Merla Negradas said that Zest Air, formerly Asian Spirit, is set to have its 'proving' flight or test flight this Thursday. The airline company will offer Tacloban-Manila and Manila-Tacloban flights this month.

"This only shows that there is good air traffic in this airport. More and more passengers are coming," Negradas said.

The airport is also accommodating flights en route to Manila or Cebu via Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific.

Negradas said more passengers are now using the Calbayog and Catarman airports, which opened to commercial flights November last year.

Other airports in the region, such as the Catbalogan airport and Guiuan airport in Samar, meanwhile, are still closed from commercial use because of a lack of facilities or because they are closed for renovation.

Negradas said the closed airport could still be used in times of emergency.

Mar 11, 2009

Power co-ops nix hike

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN - The 11 electric cooperatives operating in Eastern Visayas region have vowed to block the generation rate hike set to be imposed by state-run National Power Corp. (Napocor).

Gerry Gwen Conde, general manager of Leyte II Electric Cooperative, said the cooperatives would present a joint position paper opposing the provisional increase in Napocor's basic generation rates during public consultations scheduled in Cebu next week.

A signature campaign has been launched in the region, and an appeal to stop the hike has been made before local government officials and congressmen.

"We (Eastern Visayas) host one the world's biggest geothermal plants. The rate increase is unwise," Mr. Conde said.

Mar 11, 2009

Suspected gunrunners nabbed in Tacloban

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

Police on Monday arrested three men suspected of selling illegal firearms to politicians in Eastern Visayas.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) seized two .45 caliber pistols and three M16 rifles from the suspects identified as Paul Yao, a businessman, and his companions Jeffrey Dualyo and Jayson Dapuran.

Police Inspector Melecio Mina of the CIDG Investigation Division said the firearms will be subjected to ballistic examinations to determine whether they have been used in any crime. The suspects, meanwhile, will be charged with five counts of illegal possession of firearms, pending further investigation.

Yao, meanwhile, refused to issue a statement.

Mar 10, 2009

Task Force monitors Tacloban City business establishments' compliance of Revenue Code

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY- The special body created by the City Government of Tacloban to monitor the compliance of business establishments on the city's Revenue Code has started doing the rounds inspecting establishments all over the city.

The Mayor's Inspection Task Force is implementing the door-to-door monitoring to determine businesses without permits and to check if those declared in the application for licenses coincide with the actual operations.

"Seven teams composed of three members each are doing the monitoring right now," Atty. Rhyna Peñaranda of the City Licensing Office disclosed.

Peñaranda revealed that the door-to-door monitoring has been implemented after it was found out recently that many business establishments in the City do not have Mayor's permit to operate.

Out of more than 13, 000 business establishments in the City, only 3, 000 have permits to operate, according to data supplied by the City Licensing Office.

"More than 10, 000 business establishments are still unaccounted for," Peñaranda pointed out.

Peñaranda said that establishments with no permits or have not renewed their license will be given application forms which they have to submit and process within two days.

"We will encourage business owners to apply for business permits. If they still fail to process their permits after our fourth notice, then the owners of those establishments will be issued orders to close shop," she said.

The door-to-door monitoring is one of the City Government's strategies in maximizing its revenue generation.

Mar 10, 2009

NGO official begins search for Japanese WW2 remains in Leyte

By Emmanuel Tupas

Manila Shimbun - Japan

TACLOBAN, Leyte -- An official of a Japanese non-profit organization began a search on Monday for the missing remains of Japanese soldiers killed in Tacloban, Leyte during World War II.

Masataka Shiokawa, an official of the Association that Promotes Peace and Reverence for World War II Casualties, based in Saga Prefecture, began the exploration for skeletal remains in a 10-meter lot in Barangay Luntad, Palo Municipality.

Shiokawa hired five men to dig into the grounds, which is a few meters from the municipal hall of Palo, about 12 kilometers south of Tacloban City.

"Once we discover there are bones in a site, we will inform the Japanese government," an interpreter quoting Shiokawa told Manila Shimbun.

The workers recovered around 20 bone fragments from the site which will be examined through DNA tests to determine whether they are Japanese remains, he said.

Shiokawa also said the search will be done in three other locations in the municipality. A US army report says that close to two thousand Japanese soldiers were buried in Palo.

The Japanese government estimates that around 518,000 of their soldiers died in the Philippines.

Around 79,000 of the Japanese war dead were lost during the fierce battles fought in Leyte where returning American troops began the campaign to retake the Philippines.

But Japan has only recovered the remains of 133,056 soldiers since they began searching in 1958 for their casualties in countries they occupied during the war.

Mar 09, 2009

Automatic fare hike in
Tacloban planned

By Jenette Fariola-Ruedas

ABS CBN News - Philippines

The Tacloban City Council under the Committee on Transportation is planning to issue an ordinance imposing an automatic fare rate for Motorcabs in the city, an official announced.

"This means that there would be an automatic adjustment of fare depending on the price of gasoline. With this, if the price of gasoline is up, automatically the fare will increase, as well as if the price of gasoline will decrease, the fare will also be lowered according to the fare rate adjustment," said Councilor Jerry Yaokasin.

The proposal came after commuters clamored to have fare rollbacks among motorcabs-for-hire (MCH).

However, since public hearings and city council processing requires a long period of time, the city council is still studying the possibility of imposing the automatic fare rate.

The minimum fare for motorcabs has remained at P6.00 per head for three years. The amount is based on gas prices three years ago, tagged at P40 per liter.

The committee on transportation believes that this will benefit both the riding public and the motorcab drivers and operators.

Mar 07, 2009

Elementary boxing in Palaro

By Francis Santiago

Manila Bulletin - Philippines

Believing that boxing remains the top sport that can give the country its first ever Olympic gold medal, organizers of the 2009 Palarong Pambansa will include elementary boxing for the first time.

Wearing head gears, foul protectors and body shields, students from the 18 regions of the country, age 12 and under, will slug it out for the ring supremacy as the Palarong Pambansa, considered the nation's breeding ground of national athletes, unfurls April 27 in Tacloban City, Leyte.

"Boxing is still the best sport where we can win the elusive Olympic gold that's why we decided to include the elementary boxing. Actually dapat last year pa yan," Len Toledo, national coordinator of the Task Force for School Sports of the Department of Education, said during yesterday's SCOOP session at the Kamayan Restaurant in Padre Faura.

Toledo said safety measures for the students were given premium before including the boxing event in the 32-sport spectacle, which will be run in close coordination with the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP).

The elementary boxing has two divisions - Antweight (30.1-32 kgs.) and Kiddieweight (28.1-30 kgs.) - and will allow boxers to use 10 ounce gloves during their three rounds of one minute action.

Aside from elementary boxing, another sport, arnis for girls, will also make its debut. Events on tap are flyweight, pinweight, bantamweight featherweight and extra light.

"Arnis is included to promote our indigenous sports," Toledo said.

Over 15,000 athletes and visitors are expected to troop to Leyte for the eight-day competition where President Arroyo will be the guest of honor.

Leyte provincial administrator Vince Emnas, also appearing in the same forum, said everything is going smoothly as to the province's preparation for its second hosting of the event after 25 years.

"We've spent around R75 million for the rehabilitation of the facilities including the Leyte Sports Development Center. The provincial government headed by Gov. Carlos Jericho Petilla has earmarked the bulk of the budget for the rehabilitation of Olympic-size swimming pool and rubberizing of the the track and field oval," Emnas said.

In all, there will be 15 sports events in elementary, while 17 in high school. Olympic sports like athletics, swimming, boxing, tae kwon do, badminton, archery, gymnastics, table tennis and lawn tennis are also included.

Last year, National Capital Region ruled both elementary and high school divisions by amassing 263 and 375 points, respectively.

Mar 07, 2009

EV power supplier launches signature campaign vs power hike

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

A power cooperative in Leyte has launched a signature campaign to oppose impending power hikes in the region.

The Leyte Electric Cooperative II (LEYECO II), which services power consumers in Tacloban City and nearby towns of Palo and Babatngon, said it has started mustering signatures for a manifesto of opposition to the proposed P1.14 service charge increase to be implemented by the National Power Corp. in Visayas.

Lawyer Gerry Gwen Conde, general manager of LEYECO II, argued that a power rate increase in Eastern Visayas should not be implemented because there is already a rich electrical source, specifically a geothermal power plant, in the region.

"We should have been benefitting because we are the source, but for 35 years what we experienced were increases," he said.

The cooperative started the signature campaign with its own employees, but Conde said they will ask the cooperation of locl governments so that they can bring the campaign to the villages.

"If we can have all the forty to fifty thousand consumers that we have to sign the manifesto, the better," Conde said.

He said they will also meet with other electric cooperatives in the region to convince them to join the campaign.

He added that they will present pertinent papers before the Energy Regulatory Commission during its jurisdictional, expository, and pre-trial hearings in Cebu on March 19 and 20.

Mar 06, 2009

Human trafficking help desk launched in Tacloban

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

In a bid to curb human trafficking activities, the Tacloban city government on Thursday launched a women and children's help desk in Abucay Terminal.

The project aims to encourage people in the area to report to the desk any suspicions of human trafficking activities or any abuses to women's or children's rights.

The launch was attended by local officials including Mayor Alfred Romualdez and Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando, who lauded the effort.

"This will empower women, especially those who are victims of abuses, that the government has reached out to them," Fernando said.

Any human rights or trafficking complaints reported to the desk will be forwarded to the Department of Social Welfare and Development or other concerned government agencies, which would take action on the matter.

Mar 04, 2009

This early, APAC plan expansion operations

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Despite the global economic slowdown, Nasdaq-listed APAC Customer Services Incorporated is bullish at expanding to more provincial sites after opening its Leyte production office on Monday.

APAC Vice President for International Operations Doug Almond said that their expansion in the Philippines would be concentrated in areas with fiber optic connectivity and strong workforce with high quality education that would support future growth.

The cities of Ormoc in Leyte and Catbalogan in Samar were among the areas in Visayas eyed by the United Stated-based call center firm for expansion in the next five years.

"It's getting tough to look for qualified workers in big cities like Cebu and Manila. There's a lot of growth opportunities in provinces," Almond said who added that the success of their Leyte operation is a big factor in deciding to pursue their provincial expansion in the next five years.

Almond explained that with the opening of Leyte site, their intent is to "draw some of the focus away from the areas in and around Metro Manila and expanding the sphere of growth and development in the BPO industry to more underdeveloped parts of the country."

"We have growth strategy for the next five years in the Philippines, and the APAC Leyte site is part of that strategy, together with a couple more sites opening in the Visayas and Mindanao," Almond added.

Company's president and chief executive officer Michael Morrow said that their expansion program is now on the pipeline that could provide employment to thousands of qualified workers.

"If things continue to go the way we're going right now, we will be in full operation late this year or early next year and will be looking additional space. We will continue to build more seats anytime until we all have 800 workstations built. We won't stop at a thousand workers if we will be successful," Marrow said.

APAC is the first call center company to set up in Eastern Visayas region with 225 workers. Full operations would mean about a thousand for its work force.

The company invested at least P200 million in putting up the facility to include workstations, large employee lounge with an assortment of vending machines, employee information boards and training rooms. The facility is housed within the 31,000 square meters area of the Leyte Information and Communication Technology Park, Palo town.

Its headquarters is located in Deerfield, Illinois, with operations located throughout Arizona, Florida, Iowa, New York, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Philippines. Existing sites in the country are located in Alabang, Muntinlupa City and in Cubao, Quezon City.

Mar 03, 2009

First call center in Leyte starts operations

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

The very first call center in Eastern Visayas formally opened Monday with 225 employees to man its maiden operation in Palo town Leyte province.

APAC Customer Services, Inc., which services mostly newspaper and healthcare companies in the United States, has reportedly invested roughly P200 million for its Leyte operations.

Michael Marrow, APAC chief executive officer, expressed confidence that their operations will succeed despite the economic slowdown.

"We're a cash-saving company for many of our clients," he said.

Marrow added that APAC's is planning to hire about a thousand workers in time for the company's full operations this summer, which is expected to generate employment opportunities for Leyte residents and even the whole of Eastern Visayas.

Douglas Almond, APAC vice president for international operations, said that they chose to open a call center in Leyte because of the area's strong telephone connectivity, rich pool of school graduates and strong support from the local government.

Leyte Gov. Jericho Petilla ,eanwhile expressed support for the venture. He said his plans include making the province an IT destination.

"We are closely coordinating with APAC because their performance will spell the future of IT business in Leyte, "he said.

APAC, registered under the US stock exchange National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), has 50 offices located in over 43 countries worldwide.

Mar 02, 2009

APAC Leyte means initial 200 jobs for Leyteños

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Some 200 of the initial 225 employees at the newly opened APAC Customer Services, Inc., are Leyteños, Mr. Mike Marrow, APAC President and CEO informed during the press conference held right after the opening of the first call center in Leyte and in Region 8.

Mr. Marrow's revelation was in answer to the question of Philippine Information Agency on how many of the initial employees are from Leyte or from Region 8 for that matter.

APAC is targeting to have about 1000 employees when it is in full operations, Mr. Marrow said. He said that right now, APAC Leyte has 225 employees and 150 seats. The number of employees will be about 600 in summer or in April and before the end of the year or early January next year, the number will reach the 1000 marker.

This is indeed good news not only to the Leyteños but to the Eastern Visayans as a whole. This will mean job prospects for the graduating students and for the underworked employees in the public and private sector.

The reason why APAC cannot fully operationalize as yet, is because its building is still under construction. It was observed during the tour given by no less than APAC Leyte General Manager JoeMar Tabarangao, of the APAC Leyte offices that the portion which was occupied is only about one-third of the total floor area of then LAC Gym.

It was also observed that APAC has redundant services, which means that even if one service will bug down there is still a back up service. Besides, the APAC technical supervisor informed that APAC has contracted the services of CISCO so that when spare parts or replacements are needed, they could be sent within one day.

Why Leyte for its first provincial call center? Mr. Marrow and Mr. Doug Almond, the Vice President for International Operations explained that they scouted around and they find that the Provincial Governor Petilla and his staff were very helpful and accommodating.

"The local government understood what our needs were and what the nature of our business was. We did not have to wait for weeks or months before our concerns were answered," Mr. Marrow said.

With an enthusiastic and cooperative local government, a deep talent pool, a good road network, and solid but underused ICT infrastructure, the company discovered that Leyte had all the critical elements required for a successful expansion, many of which have not been taken advantage of in the past, the APAC CEO and President said.

Another consideration is the presence of facilities particularly a strong fiber optic backbone in the province, Mr. Marrow added, "plus the fact that there are also over 20 top universities in the Region."

APAC Leyte will take care of the several newspaper customers like the Chicago Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle, Mr. Marrow informed. The other customers of APAC include transport and logistics, UPS, Wellport which is into insurance, health care related customers, among many others.

APAC has invested about P200 Million for the APAC Leyte project.

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