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OCT (01-09) 2008 TACLOBAN NEWS



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Oct 09, 2008

Call center plans to open branch in Leyte next year

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- One of the leading business processing outsourcing companies would soon open its branch here in Leyte by next year.

The APAC Customer Service, with main office in Manila for its Philippines operations, is to open its branch at the Leyte Academic Center in Palo, Leyte with initial seats of about 500 and an investment of over P100 million.

"We welcome their coming here. And what it more exciting is that they would be operating in the Visayas for the first time and it's Leyte," Nelieta Baguna, unit head of the Leyte Tourism and Investment Promotion Center, said.

The operation of the said call center would mean hiring of about 500 people to cater to their clients who are mostly based in the United States.

Baguna estimated that the APAC Customer Service would be investing over P100 million for their operation in Leyte. "It's one of the biggest investments in the province under Governor (Jericho) Icot (Petilla)," she said.

Baguna also said that based on an agreement entered into between the said multi-national company and the provincial government, the APAC Customer Service would occupy its space at the Leyte Academic Center for three years with an option to renew it for the same number of years.

APAC Customer Service is one of the largest BPOs operating in the country. At present, it employs about 8,000 people from its existing 11 customer interaction centers both in the United States and in the country.

It serves in a variety of fields including financial services, communications, government, healthcare, insurance, parcel delivery, utility, pharmaceutical, retail, automotive, entertainment and travel.

Vice Governor Mimiette Bagulaya said that she welcomes the operation of the APAC Customer Care, saying that it would help boosts the province's economy as well as provide job opportunity to locals.

She also assured the company that the province has enough human resources to provide its needs.

The vice governor said that the coming in of the APAC Customer Service was also an indication that BPOs are now giving a serious look on the potential of Leyte as the next hub on information and technology.

Governor Petilla is pushing for Leyte to become an IT center as he converted the Leyte Academic Center as an IT Park.

Meantime, at the jobs fair sponsored by the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry, several employment agencies participated in the event, among them was a BPO owned by the governor, the Accudata.

A personnel of the said company, who asked not to be identified, said that at least they need 100 new personnel to meet its increasing demand. "But only few applicants submitted their applications so far," she said.

Oct 09, 2008

PNP to act on complaint vs overcharging MCH drivers

By Jobel A. Bernales

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Due to the increasing number of complaints, the Tacloban City Police Office is strengthening their action against overcharging drivers of Motorcab for Hire (MCH).

Sr. Insp. Mariano Callera, head of the traffic division, Tacloban PNP, said the public should not tolerate such acts of the motorcycle drivers because "this is a clear violation to our laws."

He added that they are very happy of the complaints because this is a sign that the public is now concerned about this problem and that they are now cooperating with the law enforcers.

But Callera clarified that in case there is a complainant, he/she would first have a confrontation with the erring driver. "We will not just immediately drag the suspect and force him to pay the fine. We will also consider the driver's side of the story," he added.

Violators would be fined P500 and the amount will immediately be remitted to the City Treasurer's Office.

Oct 09, 2008

41 more women graduate from Cristina's program

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Cristina's Learn and Earn Program has recently graduated 41 women from this city who underwent short training in Cosmetology.

The 2nd Batch of graduates produced this year came from two Cosmetology training centers in the city.
Twenty-six of the graduates are from a livelihood training center at the Rizal Central School , while the remaining 15 are from the Cosmetology training center at the City Elementary School .

During the recognition program held at the KIMRO, City Hall, this city, on Tuesday, October 7, City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez congratulated the new graduates and urged them to put to good use any skills they have learned.

In the duration of the two-month course, enrollees were taught the basics of manicure, pedicure, foot spa and basic haircut.

"I wish to congratulate all who have completed the course. I hope that you will use the Cosmetology skills you have acquired to earn extra income for yourselves and your families," Councilor Romualdez said.

She added that the City Government of Tacloban and program partners are there to support the graduates in their future endeavors.

The Cristina's Learn and Earn is a livelihood skills program jointly undertaken by Councilor Romualdez, Department of Education-Alternative Learning System (DepEd-ALS), and the City Government of Tacloban headed by Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

Aside from Cosmetology, the program also offers courses on food processing and dressmaking. In the future, according to Councilor Romualdez, the program may also offer courses on massage, reflexology, and bartending.

Oct 09, 2008

CTEO helps PNP traffic enforcers

By Cynthia A. Baldesco

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The City Traffic Enforcement Office (CTEO), which was created by the Office of the Mayor headed by Mayor Alfred Romualdez, aims to help the PNP Traffic Enforcers in their work particularly in the enforcement of traffic rules and regulations, according to Salvador Escudillo, head of the CTEO.

Escudillo said there is no conflict in terms of implementing traffic rules between the city police traffic division and the CTEO because PNP Traffic Enforcers are supervising civilian traffic enforcers in the field.
With regards to plans of the CTEO, Escudillo said his office is planning a traffic innovation that includes the establishment of Public Parking Areas in the city.

He said this plan of having Parking Areas will be recommended to the City Mayor and would be submitted to the Legislative Office.

"This recommendation will depend on the Legislative Office if they will work on it and if they will approve it or not," Escudillo added.

Oct 08, 2008

No new taxes, clustering of barangays in HUC says Alfred

By Joey A. Gabieta, Miriam G. Desacada & Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Mayor Alfred Romualdez vowed that there would be no tax increase and clustering of villages now that President Macapagal-Arroyo has declared Tacloban as a highly urbanized city (HUC).

This assurance of the city chief executive was made by him during a press conference held at the executive lounge of the City Hall which was interrupted for a few seconds by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit this city yesterday morning.

The promise of Romualdez that there would be no tax increase and merging of the city's 138 villages was his way of allaying fears of the two sectors many of whom expressed their fear once Tacloban would become an HUC.

"There will be no tax hike and no clustering of our barangays. It does not follow," the city mayor said during a press conference also attended by several of his department heads.

Some businessmen have expressed their fears that the bid of Tacloban to become an HUC would result to tax increase to cover its bigger financial needs.

Barangay officials also made known of their opposition to the reclassification if it would result to the collapse of several barangays.

On the issue of tax increase, Mayor Romualdez said that there is a law which mandates that any increases could only be enforced five years after the proclamation.

But the city mayor hinted that imposing new tax rates is not a remote possibility considering his objective to make Tacloban less dependent on its share of the internal revenue allotment (IRA).

"In the next five to six years, I want Tacloban to stand on its own by becoming a zero-IRA dependent," Romualdez said.

At present, Tacloban still relies 50 percent of its income from its IRA share of about P200 million.

According to the city mayor, by the time Tacloban becomes zero-IRA dependent, Tacloban would join with the likes of Makati, Quezon and Cebu cities which relies on their locally-sourced income in funding their various projects and programs.

Mayor Romualdez said that the reclassification of Tacloban into an HUC was a "big leap towards development and progress."

Earlier before the press conference at City Hall, a businessman and a government economist have called on for a more extensive discussion on the (HUC).

Asked for comment, Samuel Tiu, president of the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said that the business organization has not yet come up with an official stand on the HUC issue.

"This calls for extensive discussion. We have no idea what are the advantages and disadvantages being in a highly-urbanized city," Tiu told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

Tiu's statement was supported by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) regional director Buenaventura Go-Soco, who said that the private sector "should mount multi-sectoral discussions to look at the facts."

"I don't think enough discussion has been done in the city up to this point," said Go-Soco who also seats as vice chair of the Eastern Visayas Regional Development Council.

But during the conference, Mayor Romualdez said the city government would soon launch a massive information campaign about the HUC.

Romualdez also disclosed that they would also ask the Comelec to conduct a plebiscite if the qualified city voters are in favor or not of Tacloban becoming an HUC.

He said the city government will shoulder the expenses to be incurred by the Comelec in the conduct of the plebiscite which, according to him, would cost uo to about P9 million.

Oct 08, 2008

LTO still to issue new guidelines on helmet use

By Reyan L. Arinto

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Eastern Visayas clarified that it is yet to issue new guidelines in relation to the earlier rules and regulations and imposition of penalties for non-wearing of crash helmets among motorcycle riders.

Atty. Alex Leyson, LTO regional director, said that while there is an existing national law imposing penalties on violators of LTO Administrative Order AHS 2008-105, their office is still waiting for the final guidelines that would finally require the motorcyclists to wear helmets.

This, after motorcycle owners questioned the order putting in place new rules and regulations and imposing heavier penalties on violators of the said national law.

LTO Administrative Order AHS 2008-015 penalizes these violations: failure to wear a helmet (P1,500); carrying more passengers other than the back rider or cargo other than the saddle bags (P1,000 fine); defective accessories like headlight, tail light, signal light, break light, side mirror and horn (P1,000); modifying any part of the original design of a motorcycle without LTO approval (P2,000); and wearing flip-flops, sandals or slippers or being barefooted while operating motorcycle on the road or highway (P1,000).

Atty. Leyson said that at this time, LTO will be strict in implementing the wearing of helmets but is not prescribing what kind of helmet to be worn.

"As long as the driver and the backrider have protective headgears, that will be tolerated by LTO. We are actually after the safety of the motorcyclists," Leyson said.

To recall, the LTO central office has issued a memorandum ordering those riding whether on a small or big motorcycle to wear a helmet.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Leyte said they still need guidelines on how to implement the new rules and regulations set by LTO on motorcycles and its accessories especially on the quality of helmets and saddlebags.

Josefina Gaspay of the DTI-Leyte Consumer Welfare Section said they still have to receive the guidelines, which will be issued to them either by the national or regional office.

Based on the LTO rules and regulations for the use and operation of motorcycles in highways, which was issued in May 2008, the only helmets that may be used by motorcycle riding public are only those that have the PNS/UN ECE 22:2007 mark.

The LTO policy specifies the standard requirements and test methods for protective helmets for motorcycle drivers and passengers with or without sidecar. It also applies to visors fitted to such helmets, or intended to be added to them.

Meanwhile, before the guidelines from LTO were issued, the Tacloban City government is already implementing its own version of helmet ordinance requiring all motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear helmets.

Oct 08, 2008

84 wanted persons nabbed by Tacloban cops

By Jose Rodriguez

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Tacloban City Police (TCP) has arrested a total of 84 wanted persons during the first nine months of this year.

This was according to a police accomplishment report furnished to the media by Sr. Insp. Analito Amoroto, TCP Police Community Relations (PCR) chief.

Based on the report, 51 wanted persons were apprehended by the TCP from January to May, while another 33 were arrested from June to September of this year.

According to Amoroto, the arrested individuals have standing arrest warrants and were facing strings of criminal cases - robbery, homicide, homicide reckless imprudence, estafa - before various courts in the country.

"The high number of arrested persons showed that the Tacloban police has been very successful in its campaign against wanted persons," Amoroto pointed out.

Amoroto attributed the TCP's successful campaign persons to the able leadership of TCP Chief Romulo Cleve Taboso and the dedicated TCP personnel.

He also said that a critical factor in the success of the campaign has been the full support of Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez to the TCP, which has strengthened and increased its capability and mobility.

To recall, the City Government of Tacloban headed by Mayor Romualdez recently donated patrol vehicles, radios, assault rifles, motorcycles, computers, and bicycles to the city police.

Amoroto said that the equipment donation enabled the police to strengthen and intensify its campaign against all forms of criminality in the city.

Oct 07, 2008

Highly urbanized city

Business World Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has proclaimed Tacloban City a highly urbanized city, the first in Eastern Visayas and the 34th nationwide. The President signed on Oct. 4 Proclamation 1637, a copy of which was received by the city government late Monday afternoon.

The proclamation will still need to be ratified by residents within 120 days from the issuance. The reclassification will mean higher internal revenue allotment share, said Mayor Alfred Romualdez said. The city will also become independent of the Leyte provincial government and be placed under the supervision of the Office of the President.

Oct 07, 2008

PGMA declares Tacloban as HUC; plebiscite to follow

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed a presidential order declaring Tacloban as a highly urbanized city.

A copy of the presidential approval was received yesterday afternoon by Mayor Alfred Romualdez himself, who admitted that he was "happy" of the support of Ms. Arroyo.

"She signed it on Saturday and I received it today around 4 in the afternoon. Of course, I am happy," Romualdez, reached on his mobile phone, said yesterday.

With the presidential approval, the next move now of the city government is to request the Commission on Elections central office to direct its regional office for the city polls office to schedule the plebiscite, the city mayor said.

All of the city's registered voters of more than 90,000 are eligible to cast their votes during the plebiscite.

"The city has the funds for the plebiscite. But it is the Comelec (Manila) which will order its regional office here to direct the city office to schedule the plebiscite," Romualdez said.

The city mayor said that the plebiscite is not a regular schedule and this would allow him and all city officials to openly campaign for the "yes" votes.

"I have been campaigning all along. This is not a regular election," he said.

As he said this, Mayor Romualdez said that the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC would greatly redound to the benefit of its more than 217,000 people.

"There will be better and faster services," he vowed.

He also allayed the fears of businessmen as well as ordinary taxpayers by saying that the reclassification of Tacloban into an HUC would not mean increase of taxes.

Any increase of tax being collected by the city government would only take place five years after its reclassification, according to Local Government Code.

He also said that with the reclassification, the city would now be directly supervised by the national government. "The national government will now act as our big brother," Romualdez.

Tacloban has over 217,000 residents with more than P500 million annual income making it qualified to bid for HUC.

Oct 06, 2008

Tacloban City's HUC bid continues to gain support

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The bid of the city government to become a highly urbanized city got a boost from top officials of the labor and trade offices.

Both Forter Puguon, regional chief of the Department of Labor and Employment, and Desiderio Belas, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry, said that the reclassification of Tacloban could just provide the needed impetus for it to invite more investors.

The show of support to the bid of Tacloban to become an HUC made by the two executives took place a day after city planning and development officer Roland Hidalgo revealed that the reclassification bid of Tacloban might just get a presidential approval any time this month.

City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is bent on pushing Tacloban to become the country's 33rd HUC on the ground that it could hasten its economic take off.

"I welcome it because it will result to more employment generation and better services which are among the main objectives of our department," Puguon said during the weekly media forum "Express it at the Park" held at the Leyte Park Resort.

The labor regional director said that he is also positive that the reclassification of Tacloban coupled the fact that it is considered to be the regional capital, would have "cascading effects" to the economy of the region.

He explained that with the projection of more investors coming in to the city to conduct business, more employment opportunities would follow.

"The region does not provide much employment opportunities so with Tacloban becoming an HUC certainly will have a cascading effect to the region considering that it is its regional capital," Puguon said.

"So, it can absorb local development," the labor regional chief added.

Belas, the Leyte provincial director of the DTI, speaking on the same weekly media forum, also expressed similar observations with that of Director Puguon.

Belas said that he is supporting this reclassification bid of Tacloban as it could boost its campaign to attract more investors.

He noted that big cities classified as HUCs enjoy confidence of big investors because they have a big market.

"With bigger populations, there will be big demands for goods. So I don't see anything wrong with the plan of city government of Tacloban becoming an HUC," Belas said.

"That will make the city more competitive," the DTI-Leyte chief added.

Meantime, Leyte Vice Governor Mimiette Bagulaya reiterated that the provincial government has yet to issue any "official stand" regarding the issue.

She said that whatever statement she would be issuing on the HUC issue would only reflects her own personal view. The vice governor, however, said that she would support the bid if it would help the general interests of the people.

The Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry, headed by its president Samuel Lim, said it would encourage debates and symposiums on the HUC so that the people would know and appreciate better about it.

Oct 06, 2008

Jobs await work-seekers at Leyte Business Month jobs fair

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- In connection with the 2nd Leyte Province Business Month this month of October, and in support of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's thrust of creating employment for the jobless Filipinos, a Jobs Fair will be conducted on October 7 and 8, 2008, at the People's Center.

Mr. Samuel Tiu, president of the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry which is the private sector partner of the province of Leyte for the Leyte Business Month celebration, informed that the Jobs Fair is scheduled on October 7 at 2:00 o'clock to 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon; and on October 8, from 8:00 o'clock in the morning to 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon.

The jobs fair is an effort by the government agencies and the local government unit in response to the call of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to provide job opportunities and create more jobs to Filipinos.

In this case, the Jobs Fair is being conducted by the Province of Leyte and the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment, Mr. Tiu said.

DOLE 8 Director Forter Pugoon informed that local and overseas employments await the job seekers who will avail of the two-day jobs fair. He said that about nine local recruitment agencies and seven overseas recruitment agencies will participate in the Jobs Fair.

Among the job opportunities available are tellers, customer relations assistants, new accounts assistants, accounting assistants for bank employments.

Other available job opportunities are those as analyst encoders, programming assistant, assistant bookkeeper, MIS teller, web designers, web programmers, accounts analysts, and insurance agents.

Director Pugoon added that other positions available are that for clinical instructors, physics teachers, salesmen, electrician, and waste water treatment operator.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration is still verifying the jobs orders of the participating recruitment agencies for overseas employment, Director Pugoon said.

Interested applicants are advised to bring along with them their resumes, ID pictures, school credentials, certificate of employment, certificate of training, and other pertinent documents relative to employment.

Oct 06, 2008

Regulator pulls out milk products in E. Visayas

By Sarwell Q. Meniano


TACLOBAN CITY, LEYTE -- The Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) has pulled out from store shelves in five Eastern Visayas cities 42 milk products that were in the official list of items suspected with melamine.

Milk products produced locally but have Chinese characters printed on the label were also taken off from the shelves, said BFAD acting chief Teofreda Goyone.

Samples of the confiscated products were sent Friday to the central office in Manila for testing. The results are expected to be released before the month is over.

"The public doesn't have to worry because we have taken out all banned brands from shelves and sealed these in a box to make sure that these won't be displayed again," she told BusinessWorld.

The products were taken from stores in the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, Borongan in Eastern Samar, Catbalogan and Calbayog in Samar. Ms. Goyone said more products were expected from Catarman in Northern Samar, Naval in Biliran and Maasin City in Southern Leyte.

Oct 04, 2008

Exec says GMA to declare Tacloban as HUC this month

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY - A top official of the city government said that Tacloban would be joining the list of highly urbanized cities in the country within this month.

As this developed, the general manager of the Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD), Nestor Villasin, said that the plan of the city government to put up its own water district must be thoroughly studied.

Roland Hidalgo, chief of the city planning and development office, said that they are optimistic that the President would approve the HUC bid of Tacloban within this month.

"We expect that within this month, the President will declare Tacloban as an HUC as she will also schedule the date for the holding of a plebiscite for this purpose which is within 120 days after the declaration," Hidalgo said.

He also said that the city has enough funds to hold the plebiscite where the city's registered voters of more than 90,000 would cast their votes whether they would approve or not on Tacloban becoming an HUC.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez in a separate interview said that President Macapagal-Arroyo has already on her possession all the necessary documents for the declaration of Tacloban as highly urbanized city.

The city mayor met with the President during her visit here last Tuesday. Details of their meeting have yet to be known as Romualdez was out of the City Hall due to flu.

Hidalgo also said that their visit to Puerto Princesa also helped a lot for them to understand and learn the benefits of being an HUC.

"There were (barangay) officials who initially expressed their reservation on Tacloban becoming an HUC but have now conveyed their support on the HUC bid of Tacloban," the city planning and development officer said.

Last month, Mayor Romualdez led a delegation composed of councilors, department heads and barangay chairmen to a visit in Puerto Princesa, the latest city in the country to become an HUC.

Aside from being informed by Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn on the advantages of being an HUC, they were also taught on environmental preservation methods being practiced by the local government unit, Hidalgo said.

"It was a good experience for all of us who visited the city," he said.

Meantime, the general manager of the LMWD, Nestor "Ganggang" Villasin, said that any plan of the city government to put up its own water district must be studied thoroughly considering that it would entail a huge amount of money.

This statement of Villasin came amid rumors that the city government is planning to put up its own water district once it becomes an HUC.

"It is not a joke to have a water district. Based on our study, it will cost roughly P1.5 billion to operate a water district," Villasin said.

Tacloban accounts about 71 percent of the LMWD's total number of concessionaires of more than 27,000. LMWD also serves seven towns.

But Villasin clarified that he is not against the idea of the city government putting up its own water facility.

"We have nothing against the city government. It's their right to do that," Villasin said.

Oct 03, 2008

OCD-8 exec denies that Pres. Arroyo got mad at them

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- No, they were not sleeping on their duties and no, the President was not upset with any one of them.

These were the views of Office of Civil Defense Regional Director Angel Gaviola as he downplayed the incident involving no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during last Tuesday's meeting of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council.

According to Gaviola, their office, which serves as the secretariat of the RDCC, is always on its toes during disasters or calamities like typhoons.

During the RDCC meeting, the President displayed her hot temper when she made a dressing down to some officials for not being able to provide her the names of the eight villages of Borongan City, which was identified as high risk for landslides, and for not informing its mayor that tropical storm "Pablo" would make a landfall in the said locality.

The OCD-8 chief said that their office is not lacking any efforts in making sure that areas identified by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) as where a typhoon would make a landfall, are informed.

"In fact, even if it is only a low pressure area, we're making constant communications and issuing advisories to areas identified to be hit by the typhoon," Gaviola, in a telephone interview, said.

He also clarified that he was about to inform the President that establishing communications and issuing advisories is SOP (standard operating procedure) to them during times of calamities.

"But I was not able to do that because I was cut (by her)," he said.

"Of course, I could not argue with the President so I just kept mum," Gaviola added.

He added that all their decisions and moves during typhoons are dependent on the advisories or weather bulletins issued by PAGASA. "While the forecast of PAGASA is accurate, it does not happen all the times," Gaviola stressed.

Despite the displeasure of the President, the OCD-8 chief chose to downplay the incident, saying that he did not saw it as such.

"I don't think the President got irritated," he said.

Gaviola defended their performance during calamities or disasters, saying that despite their lack of manpower they don't rely on being feed with report or information from the fields.

"We don't wait for any report. We ourselves go to the areas affected to get a report," he said.

Meantime, tropical storm "Pablo" did not cause any damage to the region, Gaviola said.

"There were no reports of landslides or flashfloods except on passengers being stranded," he said.

He was referring to the more than 800 passengers stranded in the two sea ferry in Allen town. The Philippine Coast Guard, however, allowed ships to sail on Wednesday afternoon as the weather improved in Luzon.

Oct 03, 2008

LTO answers issue on new admin order

By Jobel A. Bernales

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Despite the rally of some motorists last October 1, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) here will still continue its implementation of the agency's new Administrative Order AHS-2008-015 containing rules and regulation for the use and operation of motorcycles in highways.

The contents of the new administrative order, especially on the prohibition of modification of motorcycle without approval of the LTO and DTI, alarmed many motorists not only in the region but also in other places. This caused the staging of a strike last October 1, 2008 by motorists in the region at around 3 p.m. at the Magsaysay Boulevard, this city.

LTO Assistant Regional Director Dennis Singson said he is happy to have these reactions from the people.

"I really consider this (protest) as legitimate concern, but they (motorists) should have put it in the right method. They should have put it in writing so we can send it to the main office," Singson said.

The main concern of the motorists is that they had spent big amounts of money to "beautify" their vehicles, but with the new law they would be forced to spend again to have their cars or motorcycles back to their original form.

Singson clarified that according to the administrative order, any changes, addition and subtraction in a vehicle is considered as "modification" and violators would be fined P2,000.

"We will be very receptive to any comments or reactions that will arrive here in our office. However, we will still continue to implement this law unless ordered otherwise by the LTO central office," Singson said.

Oct 03, 2008

Suspected drug leader arrested

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

PALO LEYTE -- Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) recently nabbed a suspected drug syndicate leader who has reportedly been operating in some parts of Leyte and Samar.

Atty. Gil Pabilona, PDEA regional director, identified the suspect as 38-year-old Christian Bonyales, reportedly the leader of the Bonyales Group. He was arrested last September 27 in this city.

Bonyales was caught on the act selling an illegal drugs known as shabu when PDEA operatives arrested him.

Pabilona believed that the group's activity has weakened with the arrest of their leader. Early this year, the anti-drug agency caught other alleged group members, namely Jayson Codo and Ricky Tolido.

"This group of Bonyales sells illegal drugs as their source of income. They usually sell it to big personalities and to those who can afford of it," Pabilona said in an interview.

Pabilona said those who were caught selling drugs would face charges and a possible life imprisonment if found guilty by a competent court, while those drug users will have a 6-month rehabilitation.

Oct 03, 2008

German legislators visit Leyte

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Two Members of the German Federal Parliament are now in Leyte for an observation tour on the projects which are being funded by the German Government thru the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ).

Mr. Helmutt Koenigshaus and Mr. Jurgen Klimke arrived in Tacloban City in the afternoon of October 2, 2008. Immediately upon arrival, the members of the German Federal Parliament made a courtesy call to Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla who was represented by Vice Governor Mimyet Bagulaya.

The visiting Members of the German Federal Parliament exchanged pleasantries with Vice Governor Bagulaya and talked about the various GTZ projects in the province of Leyte.

The province of Leyte has been a partner of GTZ in the implementation of projects which focus on the priority areas of economic reform, environment, health and water and waste.

The GTZ is an international cooperation enterprise for sustainable development with worldwide operations. It promotes complex reforms and change processes, often working under difficult conditions. Its corporate objective is to improve people's living conditions on a sustainable basis.

GTZ has the corporate form of a "GmbH" (closed limited company) in the private sector. It is owned by the German Federal Government. The GTZ Supervisory Board has representatives of four Federal Ministries: the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Federal Foreign Office, Federal Ministry of Finance, and Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour.

Since part of GTZ's funding comes from the Federal Government of Germany, the Members of the German Federal Parliament are here to observe the various projects in Leyte and in Southern Leyte. These observations and evaluations of GTZ projects are important in the determination of GTZ budget during the next budget deliberation in the German Federal Parliament.

Upon arrival at the Leyte Legislative Building, the guests were met by Tanauan Mayor Roque A. Tiu, Ms.. Evelina Martin who is the Provincial Planning Officers of the Province of Leyte, PIA Director Olive Tiu and members of the local tri media.

On October 3, accompanied by the GTZ officials in charge of the projects, the visiting Members of the German Parliament are scheduled to visit Tanauan, Leyte and Maasin, Southern Leyte.

Oct 02, 2008

PGMA grateful Storm Pablo did not cause damage in Eastern Visayas

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo heaved a sigh of relief and gratitude to the Lord upon learning that tropical storm Pablo did not cause damage to Samar Island where it had a land fall at 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon of Tuesday.

President Arroyo presided over the emergency meeting of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council of Region 8 on September 30 at the Leyte Park Hotel, to craft emergency measures for storm Pablo which placed Eastern Visayas under signal number two.

When the President learned during the meeting, that the storm had a land fall between Borongan City, Eastern Samar and Catbalogan City, Samar, the President's immediate reaction was to ask what damage if any, the storm caused to these places.

Through phone patch, the President talked to Borongan City Mayor Fidel Anacta Jr. who assured the her that the weather has improved and that the storm did not sow any damage in the municipality.

The President also talked via phone patch to Samar Governor Mila Tan who informed her that the storm was weak and did not cause any damage to the province.

Learning that more than 400 passengers were stranded at Allen Ferry Terminal, President Arroyo called up Northern Samar Governor Raul Daza who assured her that there are no stranded passengers anymore.

Governor Daza also informed the President bout the existing agreement between the local government and the bus companies to the effect that whenever a storm signal is raised, the bus companies will no longer allow their buses to travel so as not to put the lives of the passengers into danger.

The President called on the members of the disaster councils to coordinate and act decisively and to make people take all necessary precautions whenever a storm ro typhoon enters their areas of responsibility.

Oct 01, 2008

Over 1,000 passengers stranded in Ormoc, other areas, PCG says

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

MANILA, -- A total of 1,224 passengers were stranded due to storm Pablo in Ormoc, Tagbilaran and other areas, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Wednesday.

Reports reaching PCG headquarters in Manila showed that 111 trucks, 19 light cars, 16 passenger buses and 47 vessels were also stranded in Cebu, Maasin, Tacloban, Catbalogan, Ormoc and Tagbilaran.

The passengers, vehicles and vessels were stranded starting 11 p.m. Tuesday until the following day due to typhoon Pablo.

Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, PCG commandant, ordered his men to continue conducting strict monitoring in all ports all over the country so the Coast Guard could immediately respond to emergencies.

Oct 01, 2008

Arroyo names new adviser for Eastern Visayas

By Aie Balagtas See


MANILA, Philippines -- President Arroyo has formally appointed a regional director of the Department of Trade and Industry as her new presidential adviser for Region VIII (Eastern Visayas).

A Malacañang statement said President Arroyo announced the appointment of Cynthia Nierras, DTI regional director for Eastern Visayas, during the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) meeting Tuesday night at the Leyte Park Hotel in Tacloban City.

Current presidential adviser for Region VIII Vic Domingo will be promoted to his new post as presidential adviser for new government centers.

Nierras would assume the post immediately after the President signs her appointment paper, the statement said.

Nierras said she would continue fulfilling the President's "8 by ‘08" strategy to ultimately bring the benefits of a good and well-managed economy to the Filipino people.

The President's 8-pronged strategy is hinged on a strong economy to provide well-paying jobs, better cost of living; a strong peso, more investments, pro-poor education, pro-poor healthcare, affordable housing and food, and anti-terrorism and environmental protection measures.

Among those present during the RDCC meeting were Tacloban City mayor Alfred Romualdez, Leyte First District Rep. Martin Romualdez, Southern Leyte Rep. Damian Mercado, Leyte vice-governor Mimiette Bagulaya, Eastern Samar governor Ben Evardone, Eastern Samar Rep. Teodulo Coquilla, and RDCC chairman and Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 8 Director Chief Supt. Abner Cabalquinto.

Oct 01, 2008

‘Unprepared’ Samar execs irk Arroyo

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- President Macapagal Arroyo's temper flared up here twice on Tuesday night when local disaster officials failed to answer her questions about their preparedness to handle the weather disturbance "Pablo" (international codename: Higos), which was developing into a tropical storm.

The storm forced Arroyo to cancel her Cabinet meeting on Calicoan Island in Guiuan town, Eastern Samar, Tuesday afternoon.

Instead, she presided over an emergency meeting of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) at the Leyte Park Resort here Tuesday evening.

The first time Arroyo lost her temper during the more than hour-long meeting was when she asked the chief of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Eastern Visayas to identify the eight barangay (villages) of Borongan City at high risk for landslides.

When MGB-8 chief Loreto Alburo could not name the villages, Arroyo asked in an agitated voice how the residents of these villages could be relocated if the agency could not even identify the places that should be evacuated.

Arroyo flared up again when she learned that no one from the RDCC bothered to call the mayor of Borongan City to inform him that "Pablo" was to make landfall there.

The regional chief of the Office of Civil Defense, Angel Gaviola, tried to explain to Arroyo that he was about to do that, but she cut him off.

"We have to track what actually happened," Arroyo said. "If the prediction said that its landfall is between four and five [in the afternoon], we should call the mayor of Borongan and ask if [the stormn] mad landfall. If not... after [5 p.m.], call him again and check if it has made landfall," the irked Arroyo said.

"That is very basic in disaster management. You have to know that it actually happened. It was predicted [by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration] to be between four and five [p.m.] and the prediction was very accurate, and it fell at five," she told her silent audience.

"And now you are here and give a report to the President of the Republic of the Philippines that you did not know when the landfall happened when it already happened," she said. "Because the moment there is a landfall, all systems must be ready, rescue and everything, rather than wait for the next weather bulletin."

After the dressing down, the President ended the meeting and left for dinner at the residence of Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

Oct 01, 2008

PGMA rides through Storm Pablo in Region 8

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Not even tropical storm Pablo was able to dampen President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's drive to inspire the people and to promote the development of Region 8.

Unable to take the chopper that would take her to Arteche barangays, President Arroyo took a motor banca ride and then motored amid heavy rains brought about by tropical storm Pablo which placed Eastern Visayas under signal number two.

For two and a half hours, the President traveled from the municipality of Sulat through rough roads in order to fulfill her engagement at the 107th commemoration of Balangiga Encounter at Balangiga town, also in Eastern Samar.

Despite the typhoon, a big crowd awaited the President at Balangiga where the President reiterated her commitment to developing Eastern Visayas and make it a destination worth visiting and worth promoting to the tourists.

Although the she was unable to go to Arteche and Guiuan, of which she was very apologetic, the President was not easily put down. She immediately called for an emergency meeting of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council in Tacloban City.

And so from Balangiga, Eastern Samar, the President traveled to the coastal road of Marabut, Samar, passed through the San Juanico Bridge that links Leyte and Samar, to reach the province of Leyte.

Reaching the Park Hotel in Tacloban City, President Arroyo graciously greeted and shook the hands of the people waiting for her. She won the admiration of the hotel staff when she went near the reception desk and shook the hands of the receptionists too.

Several people commented how she could remember the first names of people in Tacloban whom she does not meet often and with the so many people all over the country she comes in contact with everyday.

Another one commented, "No wonder she always travels to the provinces. She loves people and the people love her too."

At 5:30 in the afternoon, President Arroyo met with the members of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council. It was there when everybody learned that storm Pablo had a land fall already between Borongan, Eastern Samar and Catbalogan City in Samar at 5:00 o'clock that afternoon.

The President had travelled through the storm in Eastern Visayas.

<<< OCT (10-19) 2008 NEWS



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