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OCT (10-19) 2008 TACLOBAN NEWS



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Oct 19, 2008

Mall of Asia marching band performs in Leyte Gulf Landing activities

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- One need not go to Manila to witness the performance of the Mall of Asia Marching Band. The Provincial Government through Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla has brought the entire band in town to join in the Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration.

Reminiscent of the real Leyte Gulf Landings celebration where the local marching bands and the people lined up and marched the streets in jubilation, the MOA Marching Band will visit several Leyte Gulf Landing sites on October 19 and 20, giving Leytenos the message of joy and peace which only music can bring.

Just like any other marching bands, the MOA Marching Band is, in the broadest terms, a group of performers that consist of instrumental musicians and sometimes dance teams / color guard who generally perform outdoors and incorporate some type of marching (and possibly other movements) with their musical performance.

Instrumentation includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments. The Marching Band uses some kind of a military style uniform with shakos, pith helmets, feather plumes, gloves, sashes and capes.

The MOA Band will perform at Dulag, Leyte on October 19, 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon, after the Dulag Commemorative Program and Commemorative Luncheon.

The MOA Band will play at Alangalang Veteran's Day celebration which is in recognition of the World War II Manila-based Veterans on October 19, 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.

At 7:00 o'clock in the evening, the MOA Band will cheer up the people of Tanauan through the Nostalgia 2008, an annual tribute to the World War II Veterans.

Finally, the MOA Marching Band will perform at the RTR Plaza on October 20 at 7:00 o'clock in the evening.

The MOA Marching Band is one of the attractions at the Mall of Asia, the biggest mall in the Philippines and the fourth largest in Asia. Another attraction is the fireworks display every Saturdays and Sundays and holidays.

Truly a part of Leyte culture and traditions, the marching band originated with traveling musicians who performed together at festivals and celebrations throughout the ancient world.

Oct 19, 2008

City gov't to restore, preserve historical, cultural structures

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The various structures of historical importance located within the city are soon to be given their due importance.

This after Councilor Jerry Yaokasin proposed an ordinance that aim to promote, preserve and restore all historical and cultural buildings and structures within the city.

The proposed ordinance, which is also being co-authored by Councilor Cristina Romualdez, would identify all the structures and cultural buildings for this purpose.

A marker would then be placed to these structures and buildings with the owners, if still in possession of private individuals, to be granted with a 50 percent discount on annual real property tax with the city government undertaking the restoration of structures at no cost of the owner.

Under the proposed ordinance, promotional materials on these structures and buildings would be prepared as part of the city's tourism advancement program.

City Tourism Officer Jake Ligan said that he welcome this proposed ordinance authored by Councilor Yaokasin and Romualdez saying that it would greatly boosts the city's tourism industry.

"These structures and buildings have played a pivotal role in our city's history. And it is just right for us to preserve them so that our present and future generations could appreciate better their role in our history," Ligan said.

It was learned from the city tourism officer that initially, among the structures being considered are the Gabaldon Building of the Leyte National High School and the Redoña Residence.

The Redoña residence, for example, is where President Sergio Osmeña stayed during the Liberation days. The two-storey structure, located in T. Claudio Street, is owned by the Redoña family.

The structure was constructed in the 1930s.

But while the place is already considered to be of historical importance by virtue of a declaration made by the National Historical Institute, its present physical condition would tell that it's not being maintained.

The place is, in fact, being rented out to law offices, a lying-in clinic, among others.

Cristina Redoña Pablo, whose family owns the white painted and all wood structure, admitted that they have to rent out the place because they could not really afford to maintain it.

"We feel sad about it, too. It has been declared to be a historical site and we are just too willing to turn it over to the government as maintaining it requires a big amount of money," she said.

"The house is so big and costly to maintain," Pablo, now 80 years old, said.

She was then 13 years old when their residence was occupied by President Osmeña way back in 1944.
The President and his entourage lived at their residence for five months. He was then holding his office at the provincial capitol.

The Redoña residence was also visited by Presidents Manuel Quezon, Jose Laurel, Carlos Garcia and Ferdinand Marcos.

Oct 19, 2008

Mayor Romualdez: Tacloban to become 'magnet for investors' after HUC

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Tacloban City will become a "magnet for investors" now that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared the city as highly-urbanized (HUC).

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez pointed this out in a series of forums held as part of the HUC information campaign.

According to Mayor Romualdez, HUChood would mean that more investments would soon be pouring into the city

"One major advantage in being an HUC is that a city would be more attractive to investors. Look at what happened to Cebu, Iloilo and other highly-urbanized cities in the country. The time they were reclassified as HUCs, more businesses moved in and their economies improved tremendously," Mayor Romualdez pointed out.

"It would be the same for Tacloban," he stressed.

The mayor said that he expects businesses engaged in food, manufacturing, retail, wholesale and transportation to put up their own establishments here.

"It would not be far-fetched that Shoemart (SM) would follow the lead of Robinsons and Gaisano and put up its own mall here," the mayor said.

Gaisano and Robinsons are building malls in the city that are expected to open early next year.

"We have the infrastructure; we have a sound communication and transportation system. We are more than ready to facilitate the entry and cope with the expected influx of investors," the mayor added.

In the same forum, the mayor also took the time to enumerate other advantages of HUChood.

He said that with HUChood would mean more assistance from the national government, creation of a lone congressional district, and the creation of more departments in the city government that can better address and cope up with the problems faced by the city.

A week ago, President Arroyo declared Tacloban as an HUC. The declaration will officially take effect once it is ratified by a majority of qualified voters of Tacloban in a plebiscite mandated to be held within 120 days after the proclamation.

Oct 19, 2008

DOLE expects more job opportunities after HUC

By Samuel S. Celino

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office 8 is expecting more job opportunities after Tacloban will be reclassified as highly urbanized city (HUC).

"What we hopefully would see in the positive side is that the city government will have more funds and therefore it can undertake more programs and services," said DOLE-8 Regional Director, Atty. Forter Puguon.

DOLE can also project that there will be more business establishments to be located in the city and existing business establishments will be expanding their services also.

"We project that these developments will lead to more employment opportunities in the region especially in Tacloban," he added.

The declaration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tacloban to be a highly urbanized city could help increase the employment rate in the region, according to the regional director.

"That should be what will happen if Tacloban become a HUC therefore, it will be sort of a little more independent in the pursuit of these programs and services. And probably, it can get more funds from the national level," Puguon said.

"As to whether it will indeed happen will depend, of course, in the city government team who will implement these programs," he added.

Oct 18, 2008

Alfred reiterates he's not running for Congress

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez reiterated that he has no plan to run for Congress and that his wife will not seek the mayoralty seat now that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared Tacloban a highly-urbanized city (HUC).

Speaking before members of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBF) and Servants of the Living Word (SLW) during an "HUC Forum" held at Kanhuraw Convention Center on Thursday, Mayor Romualdez once again made it clear that he has no "hidden" political agenda in pushing for the HUChood of Tacloban.

"That's not gonna happen. I will not run for Congress once Tacloban becomes a lone congressional district. Martin would still be congressman," Mayor Romualdez stressed.

Mayor Romualdez made the statement amid rumors that he interested in going back to Congress where he served as congressman representing the First District of Leyte from 1998-2001.

"It's not easy to be a congressman. I don't like to be in a position where I would be away from my family. I'd prefer to be mayor where I could be nearer to my wife and children," the mayor said.

He added that City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez, his wife, will not also vie for the mayoralty seat.

"I want to make it clear that Cristina will not run for mayor," Mayor Romualdez said.

The law mandates that an HUC is qualified to be lone congressional district subject to deliberation and provided that it's population, as certified by the National Statistics Office (NSO), reaches 250,000 (according to the mayor, that number could be reached by 2010). Once officially an HUC, the city will be under the Office of the President and city residents will elect a representative in Congress.

The mayor said that he has already talked to his cousin Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez to work for the creation of a lone congressional district now that Tacloban has been declared an HUC by PGMA.

Two weeks ago, President Arroyo declared Tacloban as an HUC. The declaration will officially take effect once it is ratified by a majority of qualified voters of Tacloban in a plebiscite mandated to be held within 120 days of the proclamation.

"It's the job of the congressman. He'll take care of that because my task is in the local level," the mayor concluded.

Oct 18, 2008

P100M for Leyte Palaro

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte -- The national government will be spending around P100 million to stage next year's Palarong Pambansa, the country's largest sporting event, in Leyte.

The amount will not include the cost of renovating the sites of the games, as this will be shouldered by the host provincial government, according to Education Undersecretary Ramon Bacani.

Bacani, who is a member of the executive coordinating committee of the 2009 Palarong Pambansa, said the P100 million will exclusively cover the cost of travel, uniforms, and food of participating delegates from the country's 17 regions.

About 10,000 athletes, coaches, and other delegates are expected to take part in the games, Bacani said.

Bacani was in the city Friday to attend the first national and regional sports coordination meeting between education and provincial government officials held at the Governor's Hall of the provincial capitol building.

The Palarong Pambansa, held for the first time in Eastern Visayas since 1983, will be staged at the Leyte Sports Development Complex from April 26 to May 2, 2009.

Students from the elementary and secondary schools all over the country will compete for honors.

Elementary students will compete in 16 sports while high school students will vie for medals in 17 games.

The provincial government has estimated it would be spending about P50 million to renovate the facilities at the sports complex and to spruce up the public schools that will be used as billeting spaces for participating delegations, said Leyte Governor Jericho Petilla.

The hosting of the Palarong Pambansa was earlier embroiled in a controversy after Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez informed Education Secretary Jesli Lapus in a letter that the city government would not co-host the sports event.

Despite the lack of cooperation from Tacloban City, Petilla decided to push through with his bid to host the Palaro.

Oct 18, 2008

Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration starts with Signal Day at Tolosa

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The first major activity in the three-day highlight of the annual Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration is the Signal Day in Tolosa, Leyte on October 18.

Signal Day commemorates the heroic acts of Scouts Valeriano Abello, Antero Junia Sr. and Vicente Tiston. These young scouts who were at the hilltops of Barangay Telegrafo in Tolosa used the scouts signs to request the incoming Allied Forces on October 18, 1944, not to bomb the shorelines from Abuyog to Tacloban City because thousands of local residents were inhabiting the area.

Thanks to these scouts, thousands of lives have been saved. They even taught the Liberation Forces where the Japanese were situated.

Tolosa Mayor Caadan said that although the Signal Day will be held on October 18, the activities in Tolosa started on the 17th of October with the Literary/Musical Competition and the Filipiniana and Veterans Night at the Scout Abello Memorial Site at Barangay Telegrafo.

The Literary and Music Competition was participated by elementary and high school students.

On the other hand, the Filipiniana and Veterans Night is a testimonial dinner for the World War II veterans, dignitaries and guests attending the 64th Leyte Gulf Landings.

The Signal Day festivities will start with a civic parade around Barangay Telegrafo in Tolosa to honor the World War II veterans and to commemorate the historic occasion.

This will be followed with a Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for the intention of those who died during the Leyte Gulf Landings.

The Commemorative Program to highlight the heroic acts of Scouts Valeriano Abello, Antero Junia, Sr. And Vicente Tiston will highlight the day's festivities. This is jointly sponsored by the Provincial Government of Leyte and the Municipal Government of Tolosa.

After the Signal Day in Tolosa on October 18, the Commemorative Rites at Dulag Hill 120 in Dulag, Leyte where the United States Flag was first raised, will be highlighted on October 19, the second major activity for the 64th Leyte Gulf Landings.

On October 19, activities honoring World War II veterans will be conducted at the municipalities of Dulag, Tanauan and Palo and at the City of Tacloban.

October 20 which is the actual landing of MacArthur at the Red Beach at Palo, Leyte focuses on the Veterans' Sunrise Ceremony, theCommemorative Program at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, the Commemorative Luncheon and the Veterans' Sunset Ceremony.

Oct 17, 2008

US-based call center to locate at the Leyte ICT Park

By Ahlette C. Reyes

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla announced that the coming in of a call center locator at the Leyte ICT Park is finally official following the signing of the lease agreement with the company APAC Customer Services, Inc. a NASDAQ-listed business process outsourcing firm.

The lease agreement was signed between the provincial government and APAC on Tuesday night, making the Leyte branch as the company's fourth call center branches which include two other APAC branches in Alabang in Muntinlupa and another in Quezon City.

The contract signing also came with the announcement that APAC is set to hold a job fair for its senior staff this Oct. 24 to 26 at the Luxury Suites here in Tacloban City.

Gov. Petilla disclosed during the provincial government's weekly radio program last Wednesday, APAC would be the only call center of its size to locate in the region and would be employing its capacity of 1,000 call center agents as it starts operations by January 2009.

The governor said the presence of a major BPO firm in the province would help ease joblessness and is expecting to improve people's spending power.

"Not only that, other establishments would come in, particularly those in the food business, with more or less thousand of employees to cater to," Gov. Petilla said.

The governor, who himself is in the IT business, said that although the bulk of APAC'S client, comprising about 98% of its total clientele, is from the US which is currently undergoing major financial undertow, the new locator has assured him they expect to continue growing here in the near to medium term.

APAC is providing customer solution particularly in the field of healthcare, publishing and logistics.

It was learned the Leyte-based workers may get lower salaries than their Manila counterparts, however, it is considered that the cost of living here in the province is lower compared to those in Manila.

The Illinois-based firm would invest around $200 million on their first site outside Metro Manila and would be the start of the company's five-year expansion in the country, where 80% of its growth is projected to be in the provinces.

APAC has 9,000 employees, 4,000 of whom are in the US.

Meanwhile, APAC likewise announced their job fair set next week would be for operations director, manager, recruitment specialists, human resources manager, finance manager, accountant purchasing assistant, payroll assistant, compensation and salary assistant, IT employees, team leaders, quality analysts and administrative assistants.

Oct 17, 2008

City Comelec awaits go-signal for plebiscite

By Beverly Ann Torreros

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The City COMELEC Officer said that the plebiscite campaign on Tacloban to be highly urbanized city (HUC) has no go-signal yet.

Though President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (PGMA) recently declared Tacloban as a highly urbanized city, the city COMELEC is still waiting for the National COMELEC to issue a resolution.

"When national COMELEC give us the schedule as to when to have the plebiscite campaign and they issue a resolution with regards to the calendar of activities for the plebiscite campaign then that's the time that we can start the said campaign," explained City COMELEC Officer Susan Collamar.

Ms. Collamar expounded that enclosed in the calendar of activities are the prohibited acts within the campaign, here also the schedule as to when to start and end the campaign.

Until now the approved HUC is still a pending HUC on the part of Taclobanons due to unsettled schedule of plebiscite campaign.

Oct 16, 2008

City PNP launches Escubasurero program

By Kris-San A. Ochea

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Police Community Precinct, headed by Chief of Police Community Relation Officer Analito Amoroto launched "Escubasorero" or the "Mamang Makakalikasan" police program through a Waste Management Seminar this month in connection with the directive order of Chief PNP Police Director General (PDG) Jesus Versosa, Jr.

According to Chief PCRO Amoroto, the Philippine National Police is not only expected to be a fighter of crimes but must be concerned also with the protection of the natural resources in which the primary goal is the management of the waste material.

Amoroto said that the Coastal Barangays areas are the main focus of the program in which the objective is to clean up these areas with problems of waste management. He added that that the Barangays officials in Tacloban City are required to disseminate the information about waste management through the learning they have acquired from the seminar.

The residents of the said coastal areas who would violate the Anti-Loitering City Ordinance of Tacloban City would sanction penalties according to the violations they have committed on the ordinance mentioned.

A citation tickets is issued to the violators of the said city ordinance wherein the barangays officials are expected to monitor the residents of their respective barangays.

Oct 15, 2008

Mechanic center opened

By Paolo Luis G. Montecillo

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

TACLOBAN -- The P130-million Auto Mechanic Training Center funded by Isuzu Motors will open next month at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) regional office here.

Juan Sabulao, TESDA regional director for Eastern Visayas, said the facility is the first of its kind in the country. It is equipped with automatic transmission vehicles, trucks, diesel engines, gasoline engines and training tools.

The center will be open to all poor but deserving students nationwide. Isuzu has tied up with nongovernment organization Plan Philippines to identify trainees who can get a scholarship from Isuzu in the next five years.

Oct 15, 2008

US outsourcing firm to hire 1,000 locals for Leyte office

By Paolo Luis G. Montecillo

BusinessWorld Online, Philippines

NASDAQ-LISTED business process outsourcing firm Apac Customer Services, Inc. is banking on Leyte's deep talent pool for the growth of its soon-to-rise call center in the province which, at full capacity, will have around 1,000 workers.

In a briefing late Tuesday night, company officials said the Illinois-based firm would invest around $200 million on its first site outside Metro Manila, which will also be the first call center in Eastern Visayas.

"Apac is bullish on its prospects in the Philippines, especially because of the country's talented, English-speaking workforce and sound infrastructure," Apac Vice-President for International Operations Doug Almond said in a statement.

Leyte is one of the cities the government is grooming to host local BPO companies.

Apac's 3,000-square meter site, set to open in January, will initially have 140 employees before filling up its capacity with 1000 workers.

"We have around 22 universities colleges [in Leyte] producing around 6,000 graduates every year," Leyte Governor Carlos Petilla told reporters.

Schools in the province include the University of the Philippines-Tacloban, Eastern Visayas University and Tacloban Normal University.

Despite the number of universities in the area, Mr. Petilla said most graduates end up either unemployed or leave for Manila and Cebu.

Mr. Petilla said, Apac's office would be the only call center of its size in the province.

The governor also said the presence of a major BPO firm in the province would help ease joblessness, now at 12% of the 1.8 million people in the province.

Apac's investments are also expected to improve people's spending power since BPO firms typically pay higher wages, Mr. Petilla said.

A recent study by Canadian research firm XMG, Inc. showed that close to three-quarters of BPO workers feel the need for a pay hike as a result of rising consumer prices.

Mr. Almond noted that while Leyte-based workers may get lower salaries than their Manila counterparts, the cost of living is much lower in the province.

He further noted that while 98% of Apac's clients are from the US, which may be in recession now, they expect to continue growing here in the near to medium term.

"[Apac is] quite positive that the [Philippine] economy will continue to be strong despite the [US] financial crisis," he added.

"We're heavily into healthcare, publishing and logistics, and those sectors are not that affected," Mr. Almond said.

The Leyte call center, Mr. Almond said, would only be the start of the company's five-year expansion in the country, where 80% of its growth will be in the provinces.

The company has 9,000 employees, 4,000 of whom are in the US, and the rest scattered over its three Philippine sites - two in Alabang in Munitinlupa and another in Quezon City.

The Business Processing Association of the Philippines expects the local outsourcing industry to grow into a $12-billion industry by 2010 from less than $7 billion at the end of the year, employing almost a million workers from around 500,000.

Oct 15, 2008

Nat'l gov't to finance modernization of DZR airport

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The national government will assume the responsibility in financing the construction of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport terminal building and parking space instead of the city government as earlier agreed.

City Mayor Alfred Romualdez said his cousin, Leyte 's first district Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has "successfully included" the multi-million peso fund in the preparation of 2009 budget.

"The good news about the airport is that the national government will take care of the terminal. Right now, there's no more local fund counterpart," the city's chief executive told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

Under the original plan agreed by the city government and the Office of the President, the local government will carry out the construction of terminal building and parking area at a cost of P350 million. The national government budget will finance the rehabilitation opf the runway and buy lots for the airport's expansion.

To fuel the financial requirement, the city government was supposed to tap resources and through built-operate-transfer scheme with private institutions. Tacloban collects an average of P230 million in local taxes annually.

The said proposal was approved by no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her visit to the region last November 9, 2008. The airport upgrading costs P2.12 billion.

"Even with the changes, we're still coordinating with them as far as the designs are concern," Romualdez said.

The city mayor is optimistic that the inclusion of the budget for terminal building will not face opposition in the House of Representatives and Senate since the proposed project has been overdue.

"Everything looks okay. Let's wait for the 2009 budget but it is there already. That's long been overdue. I don't see any problem here," he added.

Changes were also discussed in meetings of local officials with the Civil Aeronautics Board, the agency charged with the power to regulate the economic aspect of air transportation in the country.

With this development, Romualdez assured that the full rehabilitation project would be pushed through next year. Currently, there are minor rehabilitation works at the airport such as thickening of the 7,014 feet runway.

It can be recalled that despite exclusion of the P2.12 billion Tacloban Airport expansion from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation loan, the government is still determined to push through Airport development up to 2010. The modernization was delayed because of lack of local counterpart fund from the Philippine government.

The city government pushed for immediate rehabilitation of the airport with the increasing traffic and public clamor. The upgrading design is expected to cater growing air traffic until 2015.

Through the DZR airport, Tacloban serves as a gateway to Eastern Visayas with the Tacloban-Manila flights of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, Tacloban-Cebu route of PAL Express and Cebu Pacific.

Oct 14, 2008

Alfred says Tacloban to get more help from nat'l gov't if already HUC

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Taclobanons stand to benefit a lot now that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared Tacloban as a highly-urbanized city (HUC).

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred emphasized in a speech during the "Symposium on HUC" held recently at the Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) campus, this city.

"There are no disadvantages, only advan-tages in becoming an HUC," Mayor Romualdez stressed.

The main advantage, according to Mayor Romualdez, is that the city will receive more help from the national government.

"The city will be receiving additional millions from the national government. That means the city will have more money to spend for livelihood programs, and social services that will benefit many, especially the poor," Mayor Romualdez said.

He added that the creation of a lone district that follows HUChood would also be a boon for Taclobanons.

"Presently, the congress-man representing the First District has to divide his annual pork barrel of about P250 million among the seven towns and one city comprising the district. Once the city becomes a lone congressional district, we will have our own congressman who will spend that amount solely for Tacloban," the mayor pointed out.

Other advantages, the mayor said, is that Tacloban will become a "magnet" for investors and that additional departments could be created in the city government.

"There will be an increase in commercial activities. Expect investors engaged in food, manufacturing, and other businesses to pour capital here," he said.

In addition, he said, HUChood would mean the creation of departments like the Department of Urban Housing and Development that will work better to solve the housing and squatter problems in the city.

In the same forum, the mayor allayed "concerns" of some residents regarding implications of becoming an HUC.

"There would be no merging of barangays or tax increase. Also, the feared dislocation of squatters and the expropriation of properties owned the provincial government will not occur," the mayor said.

"Make a difference. Support us in this endeavor by going out and voting for HUC in the coming plebiscite," the mayor appealed to the several hundred EVSU students and faculty gathered at the symposium site.

A week ago, President Arroyo declared Tacloban as an HUC. The declaration will officially take effect once it is ratified by a majority of qualified voters of Tacloban in a plebiscite mandated to be held within 120 days of the proclamation.

Oct 14, 2008

Icot says even if Tacloban becomes HUC this won't affect prov'l properties in city

By Ahlette C. Reyes

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla assured that he would answer queries from among concerned constituents regarding the ownership of provincial properties located in Tacloban City in the event that it would be declared as highly urbanized city in a plebiscite.

The governor said even with the city's independence from the provincial administration, the properties of the province will remain as it is, as stated in the law.

"It does not automatically comes that with the city becoming independent it can as well take over properties owned by the province or any other government agencies located within the city," Gov. Petilla said.

He made as example the provincial capitol and other provincial properties of the province of Cebu located in the highly urbanized Cebu City, which properties have remained under the provincial government and the seat of the provincial government has remained in Cebu City.

"When Cebu was converted into an HUC, the provincial government still resides in Cebu City. A lot of provincial properties of Cebu are still in Cebu City. In fact, if I am not mistaken, some of the roads within the city has remained as provincial roads," he explained.

He pointed out that this kind of queries should be the point of discussion, among others, that could be brought out and clearly explained through a proper forum for the people to be informed of the effects and consequences in turning the city into the urbanization phase.

The queries on provincial properties came out after it was questioned whether the city's declaration into an HUC would affect the province's hosting of the Palarong Pambansa in 2009, whose main venue is the Leyte Sports Development Center, or more popularly known as the Leyte Grandstand - a provincial property that is situated in the heart of the city of Tacloban.

"No, it would not affect the hosting of the Palaro. As I said, under the law those properties with the province would remain with the province and there would be no problem in the venue for hosting the Palaro event next year," Gov. Petilla said.

On the other hand, he answered on the negative as to whether or not the province has already made a communication with the city to coordinate with the hosting of the Palaro next year.

"So far, we have not really (communicated) with them. As far as I'm concerned, it ira mga radio, it ira mga feelers are sending the message nga against hira, so I would not insist on communicating with them since in the first place I think the general feeling should be that they have faith in conducting this activity and that this is for the Taclobanons also as with all the Leyteños," the governor explained.

He added that although the province is "more than willing" to involve them and "prefer for the city to be with them," but their non-involvement would not in any way affect their preparations in hosting the biggest national sporting event next year.

Oct 14, 2008

NASDAQ-listed outsourcing company picks Leyte for first call center in Eastern Visayas

Business World Online, Philippines

PALO, LEYTE -- Illinois-based customer management firm APAC Customer Services, Inc. will set up the first call center in Eastern Visayas in this town, whose skilled residents are lining up for a job at the US company.

The NASDAQ-lited firm will sign a lease contract with the Leyte provincial government this week for an office space at the Leyte Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Park in this town.

The US-based business process outsourcing provider will spend more than P100 million to set up the first call center in Eastern Visayas by January.

"They studied, they came, they evaluated [the place] and they decided that we are ready [to host a call center]," Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla said.

Company officials visited Leyte in July to check out colleges and universities here for the availability of qualified manpower.

APAC will rent the second level of one of the buildings inside the park for P150 per square meter per month for three years. The space will be used as its call center and training center.

"They will start civil work this month if they are ready," the governor said.

Nelieta Baguna, unit head of the Leyte Tourism and Investment Promotion Center, said APAC might renew its lease contract with the provincial government for another three years.

The Leyte ICT Park, about 10 kilometers from Tacloban City, was originally built for rental by tertiary schools. It was converted into an ICT park in 2005.

APAC, based in Illinois, operates call centers in Alabang in Muntinlupa City and Cubao in Quezon City. It has four sites in the US. The company handles inbound voice services and manages consumer demands for multiple touch points via the Internet, e-mail and direct mail.

Its clients mostly belong to the healthcare, financial services, business services, publishing, communications and travel and entertainment industries.

Oct 11, 2008

Gov. Petilla: Find out truth on Tacloban being an HUC

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

PALO, Leyte -- Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla challenged Tacloban residents to "find out the truth" about being a highly urbanized city and "decide for themselves" on this issue.

Petilla vowed not to campaign against or in favor of the city's reclassification but he is willing to discuss to the public the pros and cons of the pending change.

"My personal stand is that it's about time that Taclobanons should decide for themselves. They will vote for HUC just once in a lifetime. They should find out the truth and decide for themselves," Petilla said in an interview with Leyte Samar Daily Express.

The governor said that he was informed by the Office of the President beforehand at least a week prior to the issuance of Presidential Proclamation 1637 last October 4, 2008.

"That (proclamation) is no surprise to me. Malacañang called me a week before the signing. The content of the proclamation was read to me," he added.

"Since the city is qualified in terms of income and population, President Arroyo has no choice but to issue a proclamation within 30 days. It was even delayed."

The chief executive of the provincial government, who reportedly opposed the conversion, declined to elaborate the advantages and disadvantages of HUC. "It is best if we will discuss this in a forum."

It was learned from him that the provincial government will also launch an information dissemination drive in this issue based on "automatic legal implications."

"I will campaign for what is the truth. This should be decided by the people and not by a person," the governor said.

In a news conference earlier, City Mayor Alfred Romualdez urged others to explain the disadvantages if there is. "Come out and say it."

Even with the city's independence from the provincial administration, the properties of the province will remain as it is as stated in the law.

"When Cebu was converted into an HUC, the provincial government still resides in Cebu City. A lot of provincial properties in Cebu are still in Cebu City," he pointed out.

Earlier, City Mayor Alfred Romualdez claimed that the provincial government opposes the city's HUC bid because it stands to lose millions of pesos on its internal revenue allotment (IRA) share.

"I don't see any advantage on our part. The province would stand to lose of their IRA because we will not be anymore included in the population and land area," Romualdez said.

The city mayor estimated that the province would lose around P80 million as its annual IRA share since the city government will be under the direct supervision of the Office of the President.

The provincial government at present gets a P700 million IRA share and is projected to reach P1 billion mark few years from now.

Oct 10, 2008

Alfred confident voters will support Tacloban's HUC bid

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Mayor Alfred Romualdez expressed his confidence that the people of the city would support on the reclassification of Tacloban into a highly urbanized city.

The statement was made by the chief executive after President Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation Number 1637 declaring Tacloban as a highly urbanized city.

But the presidential declaration does not carry so much weight unless the city's registered and qualified voters would vote for it during a plebiscite yet to be scheduled by the Commission on Elections.

"I am very confident that the Taclobanons will support on this issue," Romualdez said.

According to him, there are no reasons why the people of the city would not give their support on making Tacloban as an HUC.

"I don't see any disadvantages of it," Romualdez said.

While the Comelec has yet to schedule for the holding of the plebiscite- where the city's registered voters would be casting a "yes" or "no votes- city officials lead by Romualdez himself have been campaigning for the people to approve it.

Streamers calling for a "yes votes" could be seen at various strategic points in the city as well as at the City Hall.

Romualdez said that he and other public officials of the city could not be charged for any violations relative to the conduct of the plebiscite saying that it is not considered regular elections.

"Everybody can campaign for or against it," he said. "I myself have been campaigning for the HUC of Tacloban," Romualdez added.

Based on the presidential proclamation, the plebiscite should be scheduled by the Comelec within 120 days after its issuance.

Romualdez said that he sees that the plebiscite could be held before the year ends as he stressed that the city government has enough funds to undertake this purpose. The city could spend close to P1 million for this undertaking, the city mayor said.

Several in the business sector as well as many barangay officials in the city have expressed their reservation over the reclassification of Tacloban. The change, according to the businessmen, may result to increase of taxes while incumbent barangay officials fear that they may lost their positions once there would be clustering of the city's 138 villages.

Romualdez had denied that there would be a tax hike and collapse of villages.

The HUC bid of Tacloban has also sparked a word war between the city mayor and Governor Jericho Petilla whom the former accused of undermining his move for the reclassification of Tacloban.

With Tacloban becoming a full-pledge HUC, it would cease to be administratively part of the provincial government and voters of the city would no longer be eligible to vote for provincial officials like governor and vice governor.

The province's share on internal revenue allotment is also projected to decrease by P90 million.

Oct 10, 2008

NEDA RED airs "sentimental argument" on reclassification of Tacloban as HUC

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- A top socio-economic planner in the region aired a "sentimental argument" on the reality that no Taclobanon will run for governor and no city residents here will vote for a highest official of the province once Tacloban will be converted into a highly-urbanized city (HUC).

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) regional director Buenaventura Go-Soco said that "This is something that people here should think about because Tacloban has produced good governors for the Leyte province."

One former official mentioned by Go-Soco was the late Governor Ildefonso Cinco who has served as the mayor of Tacloban during the transition period of the local government from being a municipality to a city in 1950's.

"Once we are HUC, the mayor of Tacloban cannot run for governor of Leyte. No Taclobanon will become a governor of Leyte province," he said.

Born and raised in this city, the top NEDA official said that the reclassification will be a new experience for him since he will no longer vote for a governor.

"That's not saying that not only the Taclobanons can lead the province but the wealth experience being a mayor of Tacloban is a good stepping point for being governor of Leyte but right now, with the HUC, it's gone," Go-Soco lamented.

"That's sentimental argument rather than economically-related argument. If that is what we want and that is what we think is the best for us then we can go on."

The conversion, according to him, could motivate officials to "work harder to craft innovative projects with more vigor and without thinking that there is another level of governance like in the province which will have a check and balance over them."

Tacloban has been a component city for 55 years now and has been under the supervision of Leyte province.

When asked for his personal stand, the NEDA regional chief maintained that he's neutral. "I have to see the debate like the American way of democracy."

Go-Soco emphasized the need for a more extensive discussion on the HUC as he believed that most of the over 200,000 people in the city are not well-informed of the pros and cons of the reclassification.

"It's about time that around 300,000 people in Tacloban in the daytime and over 200,000 in the nighttime will know of the effect of the different ramifications of the conversion," he added.

Go-Soco's wife Malou is a former city councilor here and currently a provincial board member of Leyte province.

<<< OCT (19-31) 2008 NEWS



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