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Construction of new Caraycaray bridge to start this year

Duterte’s TRAIN devalues daily pay & pushes workers into deeper poverty

DILG supports move requiring Barangay, SK candidates to submit resumé

Samar I receives P5.4 billion allocations for 2018

The road to Salvacion and Langit

Leyte Wrestling Team hauls 13 gold, looks forward to Palaro

128 newly enlisted privates take their oath to serve Eastern Visayas

Food Philippines wows visitors at Winter Fancy Food Show





Gandara-Matuguinao road
A completed road section of Gandara-Matuguinao Road.

P100-M Gandara-Matuguinao road to be completed this 2018

May 10, 2018

CALBAYOG CITY – DPWH Samar First District Engineering Office is set to complete the third and final phase of the road connecting the municipalities of Gandara and Matuguinao this 2018.

This project covers the concreting of 3.5 kilometers of road with 80 meters of slope protection works and 1.5 kilometers of concrete lined canal. It has an allocation of P100 million from the 2017 Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Fund.

Considered as one of the two biggest rice-producing municipalities in the province, this road will provide faster and easier transport of goods between Gandara and Matuguinao which increases economic activity.

“Concreting of this road is part of the District office’s multi-year programming. We started construction back in 2014 and as of last year, we have received a combined allocation of P270 million and over 10 kilometers of road have been concreted,” said Project Engr. Allan Lanuza.

The District office will soon hold a ground breaking ceremony later this month.





Palm Grass Hotel to screen a community-created short fiction film to remember the 1898 Cebu Revolution

Press Release
May 10, 2018

CEBU CITY – Palm Grass, Cebu’s only heritage hotel, as part of its Heritage Awareness Campaign, offers a series of firsts to the public in commemoration of the 120th year of the Cebu Revolution vs. Spain.

On May 20, 2018, Cebuanos mark the 120th anniversary of the second phase of the 1898 Cebu Revolution, when Cebu Katipunan leader Heneral Luis Flores regrouped the Cebu Katipuneros after a temporary setback upon Leon Kilat’s murder on April 8, 1898.

This May 20, 2018, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Hawanan Tres de Abril, Palm Grass will hold a special screening of the short film fiction, “Kinasing” by video creator Prospero Laput of Hong Kong-based Asia-Pacific Focus Features, in cooperation with Palm Grass Hotel and Cebu students.

This will be the first time in Cebu that a short fiction film would tackle the modern-day relevance of the 1898 Cebu revolution, where a fictional descendant of Heneral Luis Flores meets a lovely puso-maker from Pasil.

Puso, specifically, the kinasing, is the central object in this short film and is used to highlight a historical context and progression.

In this film, the puso-makers are honored in a song based from a poem that tells about their pains, struggles, dreams and journey towards a better society. Young Cebuano artists composed, arranged and interpreted the song.

In addition, students from two state universities, mga Iskolar ng Bayan of Cebu Normal University and University of the Philippines-Cebu, are a huge part of this film production as they are involved from writing the script, casting, and crewing the short film.

“It’s a real challenge to organize a short-film production with very fresh talents who either just graduated from school or are still in school. But somehow community-driven projects like this are getting to be a familiar terrain in my marketing and communications content creation portfolio. And Palm Grass did an excellent job in organizing the kids into a formidable indie film crew!” says Laput.

In March 2018, Palm Grass Hotel, with UP-Cebu alumnus Prospero Laput of Asia-Pacific Focus Features, led workshops on Motion Graphics and Video Creation participated in by selected University of the Philippines-Cebu and University of San Carlos students. The workshops were able to produce two videos on the 1898 Cebu Revolution vs. Spain.

Palm Grass, the Cebu Heritage Hotel, is facilitating awareness on the 1898 Cebu Revolution by hosting and leading the community, especially the youth, in creative ways to relive this nearly forgotten period in Cebu history.

Complimentary cocktails will follow after the Kinasing film screening.





Millenials dominate 11th Olango Challenge in Cebu

11th Olango Challenge winners

May 9, 2018

CEBU CITY – Twenty-year-old Jux Keaton Solita and 15-year-old Raven Faith Alcoseba were declared 6-kilometer competitive champions during the 11th Olango Challenge organized by Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSI) in Cebu last Saturday.

Solita, a student of University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila, bested his contemporaries, including Cebu elites Alfred Latrell Pacabis and Michael Ichiro Kong, with a time of one hour, twenty-three minutes, and 15.56 seconds.

Alcoseba, on the other hand, thwarted former champion Karen Mae Indaya’s chance of a three-peat by besting the 6-kilometer competitive female swim in 1:33:13.87. Seventeen-year-old Indaya, meanwhile, finished second with 1:36:58.37, followed by Erica Lukang, 23, with 1:37:59.88.

For the 6-kilometer competitive male swim, Batangueno Ron Villamor, 16, came second with one hour, 24 minutes, and 17.69 seconds, while fellow UST swimmer Allen Miranda finished third with 1:24:30.60. This is the first Olango challenge that featured 6K competitive male winners not hailing from Cebu.

Meanwhile, Charles James Lipura (53:33.02) and Justine Garrido (1:02:46.28) took the 3K competitive male and female titles while Renz Corbin emerged as the 3K fun champion with 53 minutes and 49.02 seconds. Kevin Alvarez and Jose Antonio Aboitiz had a 1-2 finish in the 6K fun side with a time of 1:00:29 and 1:04:28, respectively.

Around 130 swimmers participated in the country’s premier open water swimming event organized for the benefit of senior high school students on Olango island.

The Olango Challenge follows the format of the open water swim category of the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008 and will feature the competitive men’s and women’s 6K and 3K divisions; and the 6K, 3K, and 1K fun categories. Swimmers navigated a rectangular race course fronting Pacific Cebu Resort.

Swimming for classrooms

It was the first time for 14-year-old Francexianour Travero to join the 6-kilometer competitive swim of the Olango Challenge, making him the youngest swimmer of the category. In spite of having previous experience in other open water swimming events, he finds the Olango Challenge the most challenging because of the distance and the current, making his finish one of the most fulfilling experiences of his life.

“What also makes it special is the idea that I, a 14-year-old, was able to contribute to students like me,” he said.

Travero is joined by his uncle and friends from Leyte’s Energy Development Corporation, who have been supporting the event since last year.

Supporting organizations and government agencies helped ensure the safety and success of the event. Officers and rubber boats from the Navy were deployed while the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary provided 14 marshals around the racecourse. A combined 30 lifeguards from the Philippine Red Cross-Lapu-lapu Chapter and PSI, 18 paddler-marshals from Island Buzz Philippines SUP and Kayak Adventures, and 10 divers from Kapit Sisid Free Divers also served as marshals of the event.

Doctors and nurses from the Cebu Provincial Health Office as well as paramedics and ambulance unit from the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation were also present. Fifteen radio communicators from the Kabalikat CVCOM, meanwhile, ensured the smooth coordination between the safety teams.

Launched in 2008, the event has gathered over 900 swimmers and raised more than P15 million to fund nine classrooms in Candagsao, Caw-oy, Tungasan, and Talima elementary schools on Olango island.

It also supported the senior high school education of 190 students from Sta. Rosa and Nemesio-Epifania Memorial National High Schools through the provision of shielded metal arc welding equipment, sewing machines for dressmaking classes, immersion uniforms, assessment fees for national and technical vocational certifications, and monthly allowances for the students.

This year, the proceeds from the swim meet will be used to provide laboratory equipment for more schools on the island.

The event is sponsored by Aboitiz & Company, Dow Chemical Philippines, Inc., Oriental Port & Allied Services Corporation, Mactan Enerzone, the Visayan Electric Company, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc., City Savings Bank, FINIS, GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation, TMX Philippines, Inc., MEDICard Philippines, PASAR Corporation, Monde Nissin Cebu, Philpacific Insurance Brokers And Managers, Inc., Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, Pocari Sweat Philippines, Golden Prince Hotel & Suites, SM Investments Corporation, Cebu Trip Rent-A-Car, Scotty’s Dive Shop, All Flip Flops, Boyla Diving Resort, Wellmade Motors & Development Corporation, Castle Peak Hotel, and San Miguel Brewery, Inc.






DPWH-Biliran 2018 project
P18.510M Construction/ Extension of Flood Control Structure along Busali River, Phase 2, Biliran, Biliran is on-going with 38% accomplishment as of April 30, 2018 under contract with B.M Marketing. The completion of this project will provide a structure that will avert flooding thereby preventing damage to the existing Bridge located along the National Highway which is the only access in going to the only Provincial Hospital and Port under PPA from the eastern part of the island.

DPWH-Biliran DEO in full swing of 2018 project implementation

Press Release
May 8, 2018

NAVAL, Biliran – The Department of Public Works and Highways Biliran District Engineering Office (DPWH-BDEO) is now in full swing in the implementation of its year 2018 Infrastructure Projects.

Contractors mostly started at their own risks to attain the target schedule and to avail of the good weather condition.

As of April 30, 2018, the district has an overall actual accomplishment of 16.82% with a positive slippage of 3.30%.

Previously, the district has been allotted P1.8B for the implementation of 61 projects. However, Engr. Rosario B. Rosete, Planning and Design Section Chief said that the budget for one project which is the Rehabilitation/ Major Repair of CarayCaray Bridge project along Biliran Circumferential Road (BCR), Naval, Biliran will be reverted to DPWH Central Office due to damages on abutments caused by Tropical Storm “Urduja” on December, 2017 which is supposed to be the site for the major repair.

Out of its 60 projects, 38 are on-going, 18 are Not-Yet-Started (NYS) and four are already completed with now a budget amount of P1.6B.

The completed projects are the P3.6M road widening at Villa Enage, Biliran, Biliran; P1.4M rehabilitation/ major repair of Kaulangohan Bridge along Biliran Circumferential Road (BCR), Caibiran, Biliran; P943,000 rehabilitation/ major repair of Cabadiangan Bridge along Naval-Caibiran Cross Country Road (NCCR), Naval, Biliran; and P1.4M rehabilitation/ major repair of Calambis Bridge along BCR, Caibiran, Biliran.

Rosete said that the district had already bid-out 52 projects as of April 30, 2018 while eight projects are scheduled to be bid out on a later date.






DPWH 2017 Projects
Improvement/Widening of DaangMaharlika (SM) (San Isidro-San Juanico Bridge), K0742+000-K0742+054; K0742+086-K0742+798; K0742+820-K0743+374

DPWH: 2017 Projects at 91.34%

May 7, 2018

CALBAYOG CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways Samar First District Engineering Office (DPWH-SFDEO) reports a 91.34% accomplishment on its 2017 Regular Infrastructure Projects.

According to District Monitoring Engr. Nena Dotado, as of April 30, 2018, 44 projects are completed while 15 are still ongoing. Most of these ongoing projects cost P50M and above and cover the improvement and widening of Daang Maharlika and the upgrading of the District’s major bridges.

Setbacks in project implementation include problems with Road Right-of-Way acquisition and the arrival of Typhoons Urduja and Agaton during the latter part of last year.

The District office has put in place measures to reach its targets, citing proper coordination between the District’s project engineers and the contractors as the key to speeding up project implementation.

“I have already issued a memorandum directing our project engineers to fast track the remaining 2017 projects. We also now have a monthly coordination meeting with contractors so that any issues and concerns regarding project implementation can be quickly and easily resolved,” said Construction Chief Engr. Carlos Rañola.

On top of the 2017 projects, SFDEO is also implementing 146 regular infrastructure projects for 2018 and records a 4.11% accomplishment as of date of report.





Research institution, community raise concerns over DENR’s lift of suspension on special use in protected areas

Press Release
May 7, 2018

QUEZON CITY – The Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), a think-do institution focused on issues pertaining to the integrity of ecosystems, questioned the DENR’s recent lifting of the suspension on the issuance of Special Use Agreements in Protected Areas (SAPAs).

SAPAs are binding instruments that allow individuals or groups to access and use protected areas to supposedly reduce poverty incidence and earn revenues for the management of protected areas. The DENR indefinitely suspended the issuance of SAPAs on 2011.

“The reasons for reopening protected areas to special use are unclear. It is also uncertain whether previous issues surrounding SAPAs are addressed in the additional rules. Is the community given priority employment? Are there now benefit sharing schemes with the community? Are there stricter standards for applicants to ensure that they are indeed stakeholders of the protected areas and not just big companies coming in to earn profit?” CEED Legal and Policy Officer, Atty. Avril De Torres said.

According to CEED Executive Director Gerry Arances, the need to protect our environment is a key element of adaptation to climate change. “In this age of climate change, we should know that the conservation and protection of our ecology generates more benefits than its extraction and utilization. The development fees that may be earned from the use of protected areas are negligible compared to a healthy environment’s protection from disasters, promotion of biodiversity, and resiliency from climate change impacts.”

“Being consistently in the top 10 most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, the ability of our country’s ecosystems to deliver essential services is already under stress. Regardless of the profits that may be generated from SAPAs, we shouldn’t subject our last frontiers to further stress by allowing special use,” De Torres added.

Concerned Citizens of Sta Cruz, Zambales Chairperson Doctor Ben Molino strongly objected to the issuance of SAPAs, “even without special use agreements, the protected areas in Zambales are already in peril from existing coal plants and destructive mining operations. We cannot and should not allow further activities that would lead to further destruction of our lands, seas, and bays.”

“This measure does not only open protected areas to use, it could also potentially open a floodgate for more ecological destruction,” Arances added.





Duterte’s “strongman” image, a facade of cowardice

May 4, 2018

QUEZON CITY – “Strongmen” like Rodrigo Duterte exercise power through State terror and violence with impunity, couched in populist language that misleads the public and trains the guns of his armed forces and police on his perceived enemies – the people.

His “strength” comes from dehumanizing the urban poor and workers by calling them “drug addicts” and “lazy criminals,” by tagging activists and political dissenters as “terrorists,” and by branding any and all criticism to his anti-people policies as forms of “destabilization.”

Contrary to Duterte’s statement that he has not put his critics in jail, Karapatan’s documentation puts the number of activists arrested and still currently detained under Duterte at 173, out of the 503 political prisoners in the Philippines. Majority of them are peasant and trade union leaders, members of people’s organizations and organizers who have been working with the poor communities to push for genuine agrarian reform, living wages and security of tenure, accessible social services, among others.

The number includes the six young peasant organizers illegally arrested in Mabinay, Negros Oriental, peasant leaders of Compostela Farmers Association, farmers in Batangas, teachers and supporters of Lumad schools – all charged with false criminal offenses in an attempt to justify their incarceration. Rafael Baylosis, peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and his son-in-law, trade union organizer Marklen Maojo Maga, were also arrested and are detained because of fabricated charges.

His vengefulness against his critics who are vocal against human rights violations in the country has resulted to the drawing up of a fake terror list which includes UN experts and human rights defenders and to the daily threats and harassment against activists. Laced with so much vitriol, his vindictive orders and pronouncements against foreign observers and missionaries like Sr. Patricia Fox have resulted to violations on the exercise of free speech and expression. His mad thirst for sole control of power is driving him to persecute officials in other branches of government who do not share his propensity for brazen acts of violence.

Duterte’s “strongman” persona is actually a facade of cowardice of a megalomaniac. Like all other previous and current despots and tyrants, his so-called strength is an expression of his greed for power. What he truly fears is the people’s exercise of our sovereign will to exact justice and accountability.





Asian grassroots movements, civil society groups launch protest action against ADB “dirty energy policy”

Press Release
May 4, 2018

MANDALUYONG CITY – Members of Asian grassroots movements and civil society groups staged a lightning rally at the gates of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Headquarters on the 2nd day of the Bank’s Annual Governors Meeting, bearing signs that call for the international financial institution to “Stop Funding Dirty Energy.”

According to Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) Coordinator Lidy Nacpil, the protest action served to drive home the urgency of Asian people’s call for ADB to halt all forms of support to dirty fossil fuel energy projects, especially coal plants.

“Each year, our call against the Bank’s support for dirty energy intensifies in urgency. For every inaction towards the problem of fossil fuels, which has been established to be the main driver of climate change, Asian lives and livelihood grow all the more vulnerable as they are situated at the frontline of climate change’s adverse impacts,” said Nacpil.

“However, ADB’s response to our urgent, repeating calls has remained to be that of non-committal lip service,” she added, citing the Asian groups’ “unfruitful” recent engagement with ADB on its Energy Policy.

APMDD Deputy Coordinator Mae Buenaventura stated that the groups’ call for a review of ADB’s old and continuously fossil-fuel-supportive 2009 Energy Policy has been met by a lukewarm response from ADB President Takehiko Nakao, signifying a lack of seriousness on the part of the major financial institution to address pressing concerns of civil society groups and people’s movements regarding the proliferation of dirty energy in the region and in their communities.

“ADB has merely claimed to have instituted restrictions in its 2009 Energy Policy, but these are grossly inadequate in the face of the intensifying climate crisis,” said Buenaventura.

“This non-committal and business-as-usual response to the Asian people’s call for an end to ADB’s support for fossil fuels runs counter to the Bank’s projection of itself as an institution that listens to civil society groups and an institution that champions clean energy,” she added.

According to Buenaventura, the ADB has sought civil society’s input into its 2030 Strategy, but instills none of the changes urged by the groups. Although the Bank recognizes the significance of a number of global development platforms, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, she claimed that the agenda and operations in ADB’s Strategy for 2030 and its Energy Policy show no alignment with them.

“Strategy 2030 makes no new commitments that address civil society concerns,” said Environics Trust India Sreedhar Ramamurthi.

“Worse, for all of ADB’s championing of clean energy, its Strategy 2030 leaves the brunt of work in the pursuit of a clean energy direction to individual countries, while the Bank continues to make funding for fossil fuel available,” Ramamurthi continued.

According to him, ADB’s outdated and unreviewed 2009 Energy Policy also leaves the Bank great room for continuing support for destructive fossil fuel industry activities and false climate solutions.

“Activities that promote continued coal utilization – such as coal bed methane extraction and use, coal gasification, and coal scrubbers – along with the push for the myth of clean coal energy through the practice of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) are all proliferating with green light from a supposed pro-clean energy ADB,” said Ramamurthi.

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice National Coordinator Ian Rivera called out the Bank’s record of financing coal projects that reached $10.735 billion from 2009-2017. Rivera brought attention to projects such as the Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project in India, Korea Electric Power Corporation’s 200-MW coal-fired power plant in Cebu province, the Masinloc Power Partners Ltd.’s 600-MW coal-fired thermal power plant in Zambales province and the 552-MW coal-fired power plant in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.

“Clearly, the Bank’s failure to adjust its energy policies and strategies is a result of its continued, strong financial interest in coal-based power projects,” said Rivera.

“Amidst the fact that these projects emit millions of tons of CO2 each year and that there are global and community efforts to reject fossil fuels which ADB recognizes, the Bank’s financial interest in coal remains unbudged,” he continued.

According to Rivera, ADB’s continued inaction on pressing global climate demands has incited further determination and commitment from climate and energy justice activists to press for the transformation of energy systems in Asia.

“We challenge ADB, an institution which claims to be for Asian people’s development, to stop being an obstacle to this process of energy transformation and to align itself with the agenda of the Asian people – individuals and communities on the ground that have been impacted most by ADB’s policies and strategies,” he said.

“Development, the end of poverty, and the addressing of climate change can be achieved not through ADB’s business-as-usual approach, but through proactive strides towards clean, renewable and democratic systems,” he continued.

As a continuation of Asian civil society groups’ effort to compel ADB’s rethinking of its energy policies and strategies, groups have also reportedly handed over a letter – signed by nearly 150 Asian organizations and networks, which has been endorsed and supported by organizations from other parts of the globe – to the ADB President and Board of Governors.





Civil society groups, communities launch protest action against ADB as “anti-development bank”

Press Release
May 3, 2018

MANDALUYONG CITY – Hundreds from Asian civil society organizations and Filipino communities stormed the gates of the Asian Development Bank on its 51st Annual Meeting, demanding the financial institution to be held accountable for and to cease its continuous push for anti-poor and anti-development strategies across Asia and the Pacific.

For its 51st Annual Meeting, the Asian Development Bank has developed Strategy 2030 as its new long-term corporate strategy which groups and communities condemn to largely ensure private sector profit at the expense of vulnerable communities and the environment.

According to NGO Forum on ADB Executive Director Rayyan Hassan, the proposed strategy emphasizes the need to unlock private capital into development projects while abandoning systems for ensuring due diligence and compliance with requirements on environmental impact and social impact assessments.

“This is a clear threat to the communities and environment that will be facing the aftermath of various ADB-funded projects. Coupled with ADB’s long-standing immunity against any accountability, the people are left vulnerable to destructive project impacts without no one to answer for them,” stated Hassan.

Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa lambasted ADB for falsely posturing as a partner for Asia and the Pacific in combating poverty and in promoting a more resilient and sustainable environment amidst its major role in the privatization of basic services such as water and power, and in pushing coal and other dirty technologies in the region.

“Due to the history of ADB’s conditionalities forcing countries to resort to the privatization of basic services, the region’s impoverished and marginalized suffer through the deterioration of the quality and accessibility of basic services and sharp increases in costs,” said Pedrosa.

“Along with these harmful debt conditionalities, ADB also continues to increase the poverty and vulnerability of communities and their environment by introducing and financing dirty energy through coal projects,” he continued.

Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development Coordinator Lidy Nacpil cited the bank’s vital role in the introduction of coal-fired power plants in the Philippines alone through the implementation of EPIRA in 2001.

“Through EPIRA, which liberalized Philippines’ power industry, the country was made vulnerable to big coal investors. Today, we have an avalanche of coal plant projects being railroaded; with ADB leading the growth of Philippines’ dirty energy through its million dollar loans for projects like the Korea Electric Power Corporation’s 200-MW coal-fired power plant in Cebu and the rehabilitation of Masinloc Power Partners Ltd.’s 600-MW coal-fired thermal power plant in Zambales province,” said Nacpil.

Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development Legal and Policy Officer Atty. Avril De Torres pointed out ADB’s role in promoting dirty energy as contradictory to its projected agenda for inclusivity and sustainability in the Asia-Pacific region and its projected alignment with the Paris agreement on climate change and other global development platforms.

“In spite of the well-established fact that fossil fuels, especially coal, spike the risk for climate change and in spite of many countries and communities in the Asia-Pacific region standing on the frontlines of climate change impacts, the ADB still pushes for fossil fuel sourced energy more than it does for clean energy,” stated De Torres.

According to Philippine Movement for Climate Justice National Coordinator Ian Rivera, ADB’s clean energy commitment of $2 billion a year is trumped by its financing of coal projects that reached $10.735 billion from 2009-2017.

Rivera also condemned ADB’s push for myths of dirty coal being “clean and efficient” despite “clean coal” technology still greatly contributing to GHG emissions and warming of the planet – branding it as yet another of ADB’s false development solutions.

“If the ADB is truly serious in aligning with global development and climate commitments, it should explicitly aim for ending its financing and pushing for anti-development and anti-climate technologies like coal power – which only serve private interests while being of great disservice and injustice to the people,” said Rivera.

“In contrast to the anti-people and anti-environment development rhetoric rampant in ADB’s support for destructive policies on energy and other sectors, there are alternatives towards genuine development – as seen in largely untapped clean energy – which actually safeguard people’s interests through the promotion of more democratic and sustainable systems,” concluded Rivera.






Labor Undersecretary Jacinto V. Paras
Usec. Paras delivering his message during the Meet and Greet with the NMP employees on 23 April 2018.

NMP remains with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)

Press Release
April 30, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – “We have heard in the past that there was an attempt on the part of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to absorb NMP but fortunately with the charm of Assistant Secretary Joji V. Aragon we were able to convince the DOTr through Undersecretary Felipe A. Judan that NMP should remain as part of the human capital development rather than as part merely of the shipping and transportation or whatever the DOTr has planned”, says Undersecretary Jacinto V. Paras of the Human Capital Development, Legislative and Media Affairs, and Administrative Services Cluster of DOLE.

This was the categorical statement of Usec. Paras during the Meet and Greet with the employees of the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) on 23 April 2018.

Usec. Paras stressed that NMP should continue to remain with DOLE, as the NMP’s clientele, the Filipino seafarers, are part of the workforce of the country. The NMP contributes to the attainment of the DOLE’s agenda on Human Capital Development, with the training and research it conducts that ensures the Filipino seafarers to acquire the knowledge and skills required of them to become globally competitive in the international maritime labor market.

He also emphasized the need for NMP to move forward and to be true to its mandate as underscored in Presidential Decree No. 1369. NMP has to focus in offering specialization and upgrading courses for both licensed officers and ratings and conducting researches and studies on the latest maritime technologies and other related matters for the maritime industry.

Based on the above premise, a paradigm- shift is needed from NMP to come up with a new and true direction as mandated by the law. As such, a series of strategic planning and workshop will be conducted in May 2018.

Meanwhile, NMP continues to upgrade its facilities and provide maritime trainings required pursuant to the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Convention as amended in 2010 including value-adding courses towards improving the qualifications of Filipino seafarers for their employment acceptability and enhanced competitiveness.

Those interested to take NMP training programs may visit the NMP website (www.nm.gov.ph) and its facebook page (www.facebook.com/nmptrainingcenter) where all related information on NMP trainings are available.





K-12 recipients utilizes new school buildings

April 30, 2018

CARIGARA, Leyte – Recipients of the K-12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd) can now utilize the 27 school building projects that have been completed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Leyte Second District Engineering Office.

A total of P466.48 million has been allocated for the construction of these school buildings under the Basic Educational Facilities Fund (BEFF) of the DepEd.

These school building projects were built in the towns of Barugo, Burauen, Capoocan, Carigara, Dagami, Dulag, Jaro, Julita, La Paz, Mac Arthur, Mayorga, Pastrana, and Tunga.

According to District Engineer Carlos G. Veloso, these projects were implemented to support the education program of the government and accommodate the increasing number of enrollees in the different towns of Leyte’s second district.

He added that it is guaranteed that the quality standards of these new school buildings comply with the National Structural Code of the Philippines that ensures reliability and calamity resiliency of the infrastructures.

Moreover, the BEFF is an annual budget of the DepEd for its School Building Program to address classroom shortage, improvements and maintenance of school facilities.






JICA donated training equipments
JICA donated equipment for the conduct of PFRB (left) and ERS (right).

NMP’s two additional training courses accredited by MARINA

Press Release
April 27, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – Two (2) additional training courses of the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP), a government controlled and operated maritime training and research institution with principal address located at Brgy. Cabalawan, Tacloban City, have been duly accredited by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), namely: Proficiency in Fast Rescue Boats (PFRB) and Engine Room Simulator (ERS).

It can be recalled that NMP submitted its application for accreditation of the said courses last 20 July 2017. MARINA conducted its initial inspection last 23-24 October 2017 and issued a corresponding Notice of Deficiencies on 13 November 2017.

NMP submitted its compliance to the deficiencies noted by the MARINA on 22 December 2017. In order to validate if indeed the deficiencies noted were been duly rectified, MARINA conducted a re-inspection on 23-24 January 2018.

As per formal letter received from MARINA dated 10 April 2018, NMP was granted full course approval of two (2) additional courses valid for a period of three (3) years along with the accreditation of instructors, assessors and supervisors who will be handling the said courses.

During the said period, announced and unannounced visits will be made by MARINA STCW Office or its duly authorized representatives to ascertain NMP’s compliance with the MARINA’s rules and regulations.

NMP is required to submit the records of review and validation of the aforementioned courses within six (6) months from the date of its conduct. Moreover, the records of implementation of corrective actions for audit results both internal and external, records of review and validation of the courses including the assessment and statistical record of trainees enrolled / certificated must be made available during the conduct of monitoring.

Further, NMP is required to revise and align the course package of the above-mentioned courses to the new standards once same have been duly issued by MARINA.

MARINA’s approval ensures that the courses are designed and structured in accordance with the standards of competence prescribed under the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW 1978), as amended in 2010.

PFRB is open to all seafarers who have completed the Basic Training course while the ERS is open to both operational and management level marine engine officers.

Upon successful completion of the above courses, the seafarer-trainees will be able to:

1. Proficiency in Fast Rescue Boats (PFRB) - Understand the construction, maintenance, repair and outfitting of fast rescue boats; take charge of the launching equipment and appliance as commonly fitted, during launching and recovery; take charge of the fast rescue boat as commonly fitted, during launching and recovery; take charge of a fast rescue boat after launching; and operate a fast rescue boat engine.

2. Engine Room Simulator (ERS) - Familiarize the use of instrumentation and controls extensive use in the engine rooms of modern merchant ships; understand and be aware of the correct watchkeeping procedures; understand the way in which machinery units are interdependent; identify operational problems and techniques in troubleshooting; make decisions to promote the safety and efficiency of an operational plant; improve managerial skills particularly in voyage planning, machinery systems and time and resource management; and recognize the importance of value-added qualities to carry out and lead a harmonious engine room teamwork.

Meanwhile, NMP continues to upgrade its facilities and provide maritime trainings required pursuant to the STCW Convention as amended in 2010 including value-adding courses towards improving the qualifications of Filipino seafarers for their employment acceptability and enhanced competitiveness. It also regularly conducts maritime studies to come up with policies for the improvement of the manpower sector of the industry.

Those interested to take NMP training programs may visit the NMP website (www.nm.gov.ph) and its facebook page (www.facebook.com/nmptrainingcenter) where all related information on NMP trainings are available.





ESSU wins over LNU in the DILG-8 Federalism Debates

ESSU Federalism Debate team

Press Release
April 26, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – A team from Eastern Samar State University (ESSU) bested their counterparts from the Leyte Normal University (LNU) in the championship match of the Intercollegiate Federalism Debates led by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on April 24, 2018 at the DILG-8 Regional Training Center, Tacloban City.

DILG Regional Director Marivel C. Sacendoncillo bared that ESSU’s Jeric Ueno Montes also won as Best Debater and Best Speaker. Aside from Montes, other team members were Wences Alfon Café as first speaker, Joseph Jay Ayon as second speaker and Christian Daniel Campomanes as Researcher, with Ma. Teresita Quillo and Minerva Acedillo as coaches.

LNU which was tasked with the affirmative side of the proposition, “Resolved that the country shall adopt a federal form of government”, was represented by Raymond Enriquez (1st Speaker), Larry Mark Orbong (2nd Speaker), Kay Ann Torre (3rd Speaker) and Ave Maria Elizabeth Nacman as Researcher with Charles Abanilla and Ara Joy Pacoma as coaches.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Leyte Chapter led by Atty. Leo Giron as program partner brought in its big guns, with Judge Tarcelo A. Sabarre Jr. (Regional Trial Court Branch 30), Judge Wenifredo C. Cuaton (RTC Branch 11) and Judge Mario O. Quinit (RTC Branch 17) as adjudicators for the championship.

According to Director Sacendoncillo, the Tacloban leg of the debate series was broadcast live over DYVL AksyonRadyo 819 KHz and streamed live over DILG Region 8 Facebook Page. A delayed broadcast is set for showing over IBC 6 Leyte. The championship culminated a series of 10 provincial elimination matches, 4 quarterfinals matches and 2 semifinal matches that were joined by some of the biggest colleges and universities in the region.

The champion team received a plaque, medals, certificates and P20,000 cash, while the 1st runner-up team likewise received a plaque, medals, certificates and P10,000 cash. A plaque of appreciation was presented to IBP-Leyte chapter as program partner. Certificates of appreciation were presented to DYVL and Prof. Arvin de Veyra, the moderator.

Meanwhile each team of semifinalists from Visayas State University (VSU) and Samar College (SC) was awarded medals, certificates, and P5,000 cash prizes during the previous day’s awarding rites. The debate series was made possible through the support of the DILG Central Office and DILG Local Government Academy.

DILG initiated the collegiate debate championship as part of its information and education campaign on federalism. It aimed to explain the concept of federalism and related issues on constitutional change among young people who compose majority of voters.






distribution of certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) in eastern samar
DAR Undersecretary Karlo Bello hands certificate of land ownership award (CLOA) to an agrarian reform beneficiary (ARB) during CLOA distribution in San Julian, Eastern Samar. Assisting him from left are Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Gilberto Apilado, Regional Director Sheila Enciso and Mayor Dennis Estaron.

320 “Estehanon” farmers receive CLOAs from DAR

April 23, 2018

SAN JULIAN, Eastern Samar – Three hundred twenty farmer-tillers from 11 Eastern Samar municipalities gathered at this town’s covered court on Monday, April 16, to receive their certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

DAR Undersecretary for Field Operations Office Karlo Bello handed the 350 individual CLOAs to the 320 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) as proof of ownership to the land they are tilling.

Bello, speaking in Cebuano, said to the ARBs, “you are now landowners. You are lucky because the land (covered by the CLOAs) is a government-owned land (GOL). You are not going to pay amortization.” But he stressed to them their obligation to pay taxes being the owners now of the land.

The CLOAs covered an aggregate area of 617.9 hectares of agricultural land situated in the municipalities of Lawaan (32.3 hectares), Balanggiga (19 hectares), Giporlos (27.7 hectares), Quinapondan (19.2 hectares), Salcedo (22.8 hectares), Dolores (33.8 hectares), Can-avid (18.7 hectares), Borongan (6.4 hectares), Maydolong (76.5 hectares), Balangkayan (3.9 hectares) and San Julian (357.2 hectares).

Regional Director Sheila Enciso advised the ARBs to take care of their awarded land because the DAR personnel risked their lives in covering these lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) so they could be distributed to them.

Brothers Geronimo and Tomas Batula Jr. from Maydolong, both received CLOAs, could not hide their happiness. According to them they had been waiting for their land titles for the past 10 years. They can’t believe that the document is already in their hands.

Spouses Argie and Maureen Osias from San Julian, brought with them their two children to celebrate the occasion. According to Argie, they derive income from the 2.5 hectares planted to rice and coconut that was awarded to them.

Remedios Guardiana from San Julian though thankful for finally receiving her CLOA, asked that they also be blessed with support services which is part of the implementation of CARP; while 89-year old Delfina Apita from Dolores was just silent but obviously happy with the sweet smile in her face.

DAR-Eastern Samar chief of the Legal Division Atty. Brian Lassiter reminded the ARBs during the said occasion of their obligations, responsibilities and prohibited acts as well as rights and privileges, emphasizing not to sell their awarded lands within 10 years.

Further, Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Gilberto Apilado encouraged them to join agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations (ARBOs) to be able to avail of the various support services extended by DAR.

Meanwhile, Mayor Dennis Estaron thanked DAR not only for choosing this municipality to be the venue of this activity but for uplifting the quality of life of the farmers wherein San Julian has the most number of recipients.

Likewise, He thanked DAR for the rural infrastructure projects implemented in his municipality. This town has been a recipient of four farm-to-market roads and an agricultural warehouse, all implemented under the Agrarian Reform Communities Project (ARCP).






DPWH eco-friendly innovation in infrastructure projects
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Sheet Piles Orientation held at Samar First District Engineering Office (SFDEO) conference room.

DPWH-Samar 1 welcomes eco-friendly innovation in infrastructure projects

April 20, 2018

CALBAYOG CITY – Samar First District Engineering Office (SFDEO) held an orientation on a new innovative material called Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) sheet piles at the Samar First conference room, on April 19, 2018.

Attended by representatives from District Engineering Offices (DEOs) of Samar First, Northern Samar First and Second, and construction firms such as B. Vicencio Builders Inc., ACME Builders Corp, Victoria CSDC, and ESD Cruz Construction and Supply, the orientation ushers the use of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) sheet piles as an excellent alternative to steel sheet piles used in infrastructure projects.

District Engineer Alvin A. Ignacio of Samar First invites people from Pietrucha Manufacturing Philippines Inc. to talk about this innovation. Mr. Raymond Tenchavez, Business Management Manager of Pietrucha, claims that PVC sheet piles come with a variety of applications as well as its own advantages.

It is light, easy and simpler to install with the use of standard tools compared to other sheet piles of this type thanks to the unique flat surface project. The product contains material obtained from the recycling of structural PVC with the possibility for further processing serving as an ecological solution. Long term protection is guaranteed without the need of maintenance due to the material is completely resistant to bio-corrosion, rust, cracking, seawater and uv rays. The total savings in material and installation reach more than 30% relative to steel sheet piles.

PVC sheet piles can be used in the regulation of beds of rivers, canals (i.e. irrigation, channels) or reservoirs; as retaining walls, for securing excavations, landslides and slopes; as leakproof walls, for shielding limiting groundwater infiltration; building and improving dykes; and securing places with a variable water level and flood banks.

PVC sheet piles prove to be an ecological and cheap, maintenance-free solution, designed for many years of use.






Philippine Rubber Industry Roadmap
DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol sign the Philippine Rubber Industry Roadmap 2017-2022.

DTI, DA lead efforts to strengthen PH rubber industry

April 17, 2018

MAKATI – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) led the inter-agency signing of the Joint Statement of Commitment for the “Philippine Rubber Industry Roadmap 2017-2022” on 16 April 2018.

“The cluster approach [that addresses the gaps and opportunities in the entire value chain from the rubber production to processing and manufacturing of finished products] is the way to go,” said DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez. “This industry is critical in helping achieve President Duterte’s vision of real inclusive growth since the rubber production sector involves over 55,000 small farmers/growers.”

Ninety percent of the rubber farmers in the country are small growers, most are from the Mindanao region – Zamboanga Peninsula, SOCCSKSARGEN, and ARMM.

“DTI is committed to expand market and processing opportunities for their products by bringing in more investors on rubber processing and rubber-based products, like tire companies, and linking them with the local rubber suppliers,” the trade chief added. He also said Philippine (PH) rubber can be used for rubberized asphalt for road projects in the government’s “Build Build Build” program.

Meanwhile, DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that rubber has a crucial role in the reformatting of the PH agriculture plan.

“The agricultural areas I’ve visited suffer from the same problems: soil erosion and landslides. These are indications of poor agricultural planning – where farmers are planting crops where we should be planting rubber trees,” Sec. Piñol said.

The roadmap outlines steps in the following aspects of rubber production: (1) Production & Productivity Improvement; (2) Processing and Manufacturing; (3) Domestic and Export Marketing, (4) Research, Development and Extension; (5) Finance and Investment Promotion; and (5) Information, Policy Formulation and Advocacy.

Aside from the DTI and DA, the inter-agency cluster consists of the departments of Science and Technology (DOST), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Agrarian Reform (DAR), as well as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the Philippine Rubber Industries Association (PRIA), the Philippine Rubber Farmers Association (PRFA), and the University of Southern Mindanao (USM).

PH is currently a minor producer of rubber, yielding 1% of the natural rubber in the world as compared to top producers Indonesia and Thailand that produce 25% and 34% of global production, respectively. Despite this, the PH rubber industry is steadily growing – for the last quarter of 2017, rubber production grew by 8.9% to 138.24 thousand MT from 126.94 thousand MT in the same quarter of 2016.





Eastern Visayas’ inflation rate accelerates further by 5.7% in March

By PSA-8
April 17, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – The annual Inflation Rate (IR) of Eastern Visayas accelerated further by 5.7% in March 2018. This IR was 1.4 percentage point faster compared to the 4.3% IR a month ago, and 2.8 percentage points faster than the recorded 2.9% IR in the same period last year. The regional inflation rate was 1.4 percentage point faster than the 4.3% national average in March.

Four provinces in the region – Biliran, Samar, Leyte, and Eastern Samar posted faster inflation rates in March compared with their figures in the previous month. On the other hand, Southern Leyte registered decreased IR, while Northern Samar had sustained its inflation rate from February. Northern Samar registered the highest IR at 7.1%, while Southern Leyte posted the lowest IR at 0.9% (Table 1).

By major commodity groups, Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels, Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages, Transport, Furnishings, Household Equipment and Routine Maintenance of the House, Health, and Education exhibited higher annual growths from February to March.

Annual price changes in Clothing and Footwear slowed down from February to March. The rest of the commodity groups retained their previous month’s rates.

The Purchasing Power of Peso (PPP) of the region was recorded at P0.82 in March 2018. This is weaker compared with the P0.83 PPP registered in the previous month. This PPP implies that goods and services worth 100 pesos in March 2018 only costs 82 pesos in 2012.

Biliran, Leyte, and Samar registered decreases in PPP compared with their figures in February. Southern Leyte recorded a 0.01 centavo increase in PPP, while the rest of the provinces had sustained PPP. Leyte recorded the strongest PPP at P0.85, followed by Southern Leyte at P0.84. Northern Samar and Samar, meanwhile, posted the weakest PPP at P0.77 (Table 1).

Eastern Visayas inflation rate





Envi groups, electricity coops, consumers decry corruption in CA overturn of ERC commissioners' suspension

Press Release
April 17, 2018

QUEZON CITY – A coalition of household electricity consumers, people’s and environmental groups, faith-based groups, and electricity cooperatives slammed the Court of Appeals' issue of a permanent injunction against the Ombudsman’s order of suspension of four ERC Commissioners alleged to be in collusion with Meralco and its affiliate coal-sourced electricity generation companies.

“For the second time, and to the grave detriment of public interest, the Court of Appeals has turned a blind eye to the rampant corruption being committed in the ERC,” said Power for People Coalition Convenor and Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa.

“In spite of well-established facts illuminating the favors given by key ERC officials to Meralco and its sister energy companies, the Court of Appeals halted these commissioners’ rightful suspension and now has allowed them to return to their posts untouched,” continued Pedrosa.

“Moreover, this permanent injunction by the Court of Appeals is an injunction against the cheaper, cleaner, and safer energy sources. The CA has sealed electricity consumers’ fate to costly, dirty, and deadly energy,” he said.

The Power for People (P4P) Coalition cited the graft charges filed by a number of petitioners in the Ombudsman against Commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana for their act of exempting the Power Supply Agreements submitted by Meralco and other major energy companies from the coverage of the Competitive Selection Process, a legally required process which seeks to ensure that electricity consumers are given the cheapest, most competitive source of electricity.

P4P Coalition Convenor Erwin Puhawan of Freedom from Debt Coalition also slammed the judicial body for “normalizing the culture of corruption within the Energy Regulatory Commission.”

“The Court of Appeals keeps protecting these commissioners from the legal repercussions of their collusion with private companies – all under the guise of preserving the stability of ERC’s operations,” Puhawan said.

“But it is clear as day that the ERC has long been operating on corruption, and it is high time that the Commission is made to answer for its repeated violation of its public mandate. Otherwise, the public is doomed to suffer through dirtier and costlier electricity alongside the rising prices of other goods,” he continued.

According to Cris Palabay from Save the Beauty of La Union, the contested Power Supply Agreements irregularly accommodated by the ERC all compel the generation of electricity from coal, an energy source known for being detrimental to the environment and to the health of coal-hosting communities.

“The Court of Appeals and the ERC are effectively allowing for the continuation of these coal companies’ destruction of our communities,” said Palabay whose group, Save the Beauty of La Union, is currently resisting the efforts of Global Luzon Energy Development Corp. (one of the questionable PSAs) to build two 335-MW coal-fired power generating facility in Brgy. Luna, La Union.

Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) Legal and Policy Officer Atty. Avril De Torres also called out the coal industry’s continuing influence over key agencies in the government, which in turn hinders the entrance and development of cleaner and cheaper alternative, renewable energy sources in the Philippine market

“At present, the cost of solar and wind are drastically decreasing, with recently the cost of wind at P3.50/kwh already leagues away from the present cost of coal. This is notwithstanding the current cost of solar which is at P2.99/kwh,” stated De Torres.

“The cost of RE is projected to decrease even more in the coming years. If the ERC, with the help of the CA, goes on to greenlight the contested PSAs entered into by Meralco, they will be stealing at least 20 years of cleaner, more affordable energy from Filipino communities and electricity consumers,” she continued.

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice National Coordinator Ian Rivera expressed alarm at what he called the administration’s “repeated failure” to address corruption, an inaction that largely benefits corporations while exposing the public at large to burdens of costlier goods, and damaged communities and environment.

“The solution following the complaints against the ERC Commissioners has been very straightforward: to remove the accused commissioners from their posts and to immediately replace them in the continuation of ERC operations,” said Rivera.

“Instead, gross inaction on the part of the administration has culminated to a resumption of posts by these highly contested commissioners who are now in the position to approve the Power Supply Agreements that greatly prejudice public interest,” he continued.

“This incompetence in addressing corruption is a betrayal of the entire administration’s promise to uphold an accountable government,” he concluded.





78 private universities in NCR intend to hike fees

By National Union of Students of the Philippines
April 16, 2018

QUEZON CITY – Among the private universities and colleges in the National Capital Region (NCR), 78 submitted petitions to raise their tuition and other school fees.

National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) spokesperson Mark Vincent Lim slammed the proposed fee increases as a sign of the “worsening system of profiteering” on education.

“Rising prices of goods and commodities due to the TRAIN Law have already been a great burden to Filipino families under the Duterte administration. Even the cost of education is no exemption. There are no signs that Duterte will stop fee increases so as to allow capitalist educators to amass more profits by selling education,” said Lim.

According to the student union, private school owners already “milked” millions of pesos from the Filipino youth. Among those are Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU), Far Eastern University (FEU), and University of the East (UE) who topped the list with at least 600 million pesos each in gross revenue for 2016 from collecting fees.

“At the end of the day, kawawa ang mga kabataan if the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Duterte government will favor the interest of capitalist educators way more than the welfare of students. There is not a time in history when the interests of big businessmen were not factored in the policy making of CHED,” claimed Lim.

Included in the 78 schools are Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University - Manila, De La Salle Araneta University, Far Eastern University, University of the East, Centro Escolar University, Adamson University, and University of Asia and the Pacific.

More profits from public funds

“Profiteering is not just about the collection of tuition and other school fees in private schools anymore. Capitalist educators found a way in tapping the public funds, which are supposedly intended for free education, for their profit,” said Lim.

Lim added that the recently released implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the free ed law allow owners of private schools to rake in profit from the national budget.

From the data gathered by the Union, the P40 billion funding for the “free education law” is allotted for various programs: P16 billion and P7 billion for free education in SUCs and in technical-vocational programs, respectively; P16 billion for the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), from which the tuition and other school fees of students in private schools can be billed; and P1 billion for student loans.

“Duterte’s free and accessible education is just pure press releases and soundbites. While 1 in every 4 students of state universities and colleges (SUCs) still paid tuition and other school fees in AY 2017-2018, a huge portion of funding in the form of the TES go straight to the pockets of private school owners, at the expense of the students’ right to free education. This is the government’s way of assuring businessmen that they will not run out of enrollees and source of superprofits,” added Lim.

“Duterte is exposed as insincere in making education more accessible to all. Collection of various fees is still rampant both in private and public schools. There is indeed a necessity for us to stand up against Duterte for his anti-student and pro-businessmen policies disguising as pro-student reforms. We call on the youth to carry out protest actions on April 19 in opposition to fees collection and increases in their respective campuses,” ended Lim.





Duterte order to Calida and Alvarez to oust Sereno destroys system of checks and balances

By Movement Against Tyranny
April 10, 2018

QUEZON CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte’s livid response to Chief Justice Ma Lourdes Sereno’s acceptance speech in yesterday’s Parangal Ng Kagitingan awards displays how he has swept away the checks and balances so necessary for democracies to function.

An irate Duterte said he would personally ensure Sereno’s ouster from the Supreme Court: “I will egg (Solicitor General) Calida to do his best. Ako na mismo maglakad, magkalaban sa ‘yo.”

Duterte also said he would ask Congress to “go into the impeachment right away” and “to ask Speaker Alvarez now, kindly fast track the impeachment of Sereno.”

Directly addressing Sereno, Duterte said: “Sige ka diyan, daldal nang daldal, sige, upakan kita. I will help any investigator, talagang upakan kita. I am putting you on notice na I am now your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court.”

In declaring himself an enemy of the Chief Justice and guaranteeing her ouster from the Supreme Court, the President also declared war on a Constitution that clearly stipulates the co-equal status of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

Likewise, his brusque order for the House of Representatives to fast track an impeachment process his solicitor general has tried to derail gives lie to his efforts to wash his hands off this persecution of Sereno.

Speaker Alvarez’s swift assurance that his lord’s order be done only cements the reputation of the House of Representatives as a chamber of servile, venal politicians who have reduced Congress to a rubber stamp of Malacañang.

We challenge Supreme Court justices: pull back from the brink. Show the tyrant that there are lines you will not cross.

But we are sure of one thing. Even if our so-called democratic institutions crumble from the rot of corruption and the iron-hand of tyrannical rule, the Filipino people will resist, we will not give up the fight.





2 CNTs captured, 1 high powered firearm recovered in N. Samar

April 6, 2018

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – A platoon from 43rd Infantry (We Search) Battalion while conducting security patrol in Brgy. San Vicente, Catubig, Northern Samar encountered undetermined number of CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) at around 4:05 A.M. April 5, 2018.

Troops were in the area to check the validity of the information relayed to them by the populace on the extortion activities of the armed group. The encounter resulted in the apprehension of two (2) suspected CNTs (their names are presently withheld) and the recovery of one M16A1 Elisco rifle SN:039188, two magazines long, two magazines short, 79 rounds for 5.56mm ammunition, one Lenovo laptop, three USB drive, one memory card, two card readers and, two cellphones. There was no casualty or injury on the government side.

Maj. Gen. Raul M. Farnacio, Commander 8ID lauded the troops for a job well done and urged them to be aggressive against the CNTs who continue to harass civilian communities thru armed threats and deceptions.

In his statement, Maj. Gen. Farnacio said that, “troops are there in the area to protect the people and safeguard the ongoing PAMANA Projects and other government projects in Northern Samar. This incident clearly shows that these CNTs are desperate to incur casualties to government troops to slow down the delivery of basic services of the government to the communities.”

“This terrorist group is responsible for large-scale extortion activities, and other criminal acts that instill fear and anxiety in the hearts and mind of the peace-loving Filipinos that greatly affects their day-to-day activities,” Farnacio added.





Duterte urged to sign Endo EO & free millions of Filipinos from bondage of contractualization

April 5, 2018

QUEZON CITY – Labor group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (ALU-TUCP-Nagkaisa) is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to fulfill his promise to end the precarious short-term Endo work scheme in the country by signing the Executive Order drafted by labor groups and free millions of Filipino workers kept in poverty by contractualization arrangement.

“We are calling on President Duterte to read the latest Executive Order on contractualization that he asked us to draft which was submitted February 7 to his office during our dialogue with him in Malacanang,” said Michael Mendoza, ALU-TUCP-Nagkaisa National President.

“This EO drafted by labor is consistent with Article 106 of the Labor Code which says that the DOLE Secretary may prohibit or regulate the contracting out of jobs. Further, the DOLE Secretary is just the alter ego of the President so the EO is feasible contrary to the views of some cabinet officials,” said Mendoza.

“The President is a lawyer. By going through the draft, the President will find that labor groups are no longer pushing for an absolute, total ban on contractualization and that there is no need to transfer the end contractualization matter to Congress to amend the law. There’s no need to amend any laws,” explained Mendoza.

This latest version of the EO is different from the first and previous drafted EO from labor which practically abolishes the practice of all forms of short-term employment including contractualization, Endo (end-of-contract), and “555” (referring to five months contract duration).

In recognition of President Duterte’s concern that an absolute ban on contractualization may discourage new investors in the country, labor organizations revised the first EO draft by giving business-owners flexibility to hire the services of contractual or seasonal jobs on top of the regular and directly-hired workforce.

Section 2 of the EO drafted by labor group says that: “The Secretary of Labor and Employment may, however, in consultation with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council under Article 290 of the Labor Code, as amended, by appropriate regulations, determine activities which may be contracted out.”

On the other hand, Article 106 of the Labor Code says: “The Secretary of Labor and Employment may, by appropriate regulations, restrict or prohibit the contracting-out of labor to protect the rights of workers established under this Code. In so prohibiting or restricting, he may make appropriate distinctions between labor-only contracting and job contracting as well as differentiations within these types of contracting and determine who among the parties involved shall be considered the employer for purposes of this Code, to prevent any violation or circumvention of any provision of this Code.”

“We hope the President would fulfill and not renege on his commitment to free millions of workers from the bondage of abusive labor slavery under contractualization. We hope he would keep his promise to end contractualization,” said Mendoza.

Around 30 million Filipinos of the 41 million labor force are working under contractualization scheme without security of tenure and other benefits received by regular workers. They are paid poverty wages, and accorded with poor social protection insurance benefits despite having rendered labor throughout their productive years.






DPWH-Biliran 2017 projects
District Engineer David P. Adongay Jr., (wearing shades) inspects the on-going road widening project along Biliran Circumferential Road (BCR) - Burabod, Biliran Section on March 6, 2018. Completion of this project will accommodate huge number of vehicular users. It is target to be completed on May 1, 2018.

DPWH-Biliran DEO’s 2017 projects posts 67.93% accomplishment

April 4, 2018

NAVAL, Biliran – Engr. David P. Adongay Jr., District Engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways Biliran District Engineering Office (DPWH-DEO) said that the district will finish the on-going 2017 projects based on their target schedules.

Biliran DEO posts 67.93% accomplishment for 2017 projects with a negative slippage of 5.55% as of March 31, 2018. This is already behind of the district’s 73.48% planned target accomplishment.

Adongay said that contractors were ordered to speed-up the implementation of the on-going 2017 projects for completion.

“Ginagawa talaga namin ngayon, una, we are requiring the contractor to render overtime even during night time. Pangalawa, to add their additional resources, yung mga equipment nila,” said Adongay.

Adongay revealed that delayed projects for 2017 implementation were those projects with an allocation budget of P50M and above.

“Projects more than P50M were delayed because the approval of the authority to bid and implement just happened on the 1st quarter of year 2017,” he said.

As of March 31, 2018, out of the 57 projects, 51 were completed while six are on-going.

Among the on-going projects for year 2017 implementation are the P61M Rehabilitation of Slope Protection along Naval-Caibiran Cross Country Road (NCCR), P54M Access Road Leading to Naval Port, P49M Rehabilitation of Slope Protection along Biliran Circumferential Road (BCR), P172M Widening along Biliran Circumferential Road (BCR) and another P125M Widening along BCR on six road sections and P128M Rehabilitation of Maripipi Circumferential Road.

Aside from the late approval to implement the projects, Adongay said that the devastation of typhoon Urduja last December, 2017 is also one of the main reasons for the delay of project implementation in the province.

“Naapektuhan tayo sa pagtransport ng ating aggregates, kasi yung ating CarayCaray Bridge hindi madadaanan ng Malaki (heavy vehicles), so they have to travel to the alternate road which is 90 kms, malayo din yun,” he said.

The CarayCaray Bridge is one of the main bridges of the province which was damaged by the onslaught of typhoon Urduja. It is the only shorter access in going in and out of Mainland Leyte.

According to Adongay, remaining 2017 projects will be finished on May and June this year except for the Maripipi Circumferential Road which is scheduled to be completed on October, 2018 because of the difficulties in transporting the equipment and materials to the island town.

“With the good weather, hindi naman sana mangyari yung katulad sa Urduja, walang reason na hindi namin matatapos lahat to’,” Adongay said.





DTI-DOST to expand MSME marketing capabilities through OneSTore.ph

April 4, 2018

MAKATI CITY – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will tie up with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) expand their market and reach clients online with the OneSTore.ph.

“MSMEs are the backbone of the Philippine economy. And as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s whole-of-government approach to assist MSMEs, we are teaming up with DOST to impact the lives of more Filipino entrepreneurs,” said DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

The OneSTore.ph is a first government e-commerce platform (Business–to-Customer and Business-to-Business platform) dedicated to marketing high-quality Filipino products of MSMEs through the worldwide web by “bringing quality products at Filipino doorsteps.”

This comes as DTI intensifies marketing capabilities of MSMEs to help them reach the mainstream market.

Under the OneSTore.ph agreement, DTI will promote the oneSTore.ph to MSMEs through Negosyo Centers as a platform where they can market their products on-line.

At the same time, DTI will make Negosyo Centers accessible to clients of DOST and allow clients to display and dispatch their products with its payment and logistic partners in One Town One Product (OTOP) Philippines HubStores, subject to availability of space and to DTI priorities and promote oneSTore and provide signage for the spaces provided for oneSTore.ph and oneSTore hub in every OTOP Store identified as co-branded hub, among others.

The One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines is DTI’s collaborative program with national government agencies and local government units as a customized intervention to level up the products of various localities and drive inclusive local economic growth.

DOST, on the other hand, will develop and maintain oneSTore.ph where its accredited Regional Hubs and MSMEs may sell products and services to its clients and engage with payment and logistics partners and provide better oneSTore.ph services to its accredited Regional Hubs, MSMEs and its partner agencies.

DOST will also provide priority to jointly identified OTOP products for product development initiatives including improvements in packaging and labeling, subsidy or discounts in testing fees, equipment support such as the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), and strengthen research and development efforts.





Fishery production in Eastern Visayas declines by 2.9% in 2017

By PSA-8
March 28, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – Fishery production in Eastern Visayas decreased by 2.9% from 140,275 metric tons (MT) in 2016 to 136,141 MT in 2017.

All provinces registered decreases in fishery production, except Leyte, the only province that recorded a significant increase of 24.8%, from 37,163 MT in 2016 to 46,361 MT in 2017. Southern Leyte recorded the highest decrease by 20.0%, from 7,006 MT in 2016 to 5,605 MT in 2017.

Among provinces, Leyte produced the highest volume of fisheries at 46,361 MT which comprised 34.1% of the total fishery production in the region. Samar ranked second with 35,809 MT which accounted for 26.3% of the region’s total fishery production. Southern Leyte, meanwhile registered the lowest volume of production with 4.1% share or 5,605 MT.

By subsector, volume of production in Commercial Fishing went down by 43.1%, from 24,613 MT in 2016 to 13,995 MT in 2017. All provinces registered decreases with Leyte recording the largest drop in volume of production at 69.3%.

Volume of production in Municipal Fishing (marine and inland) also registered a decrease of 5.2%, from 83,443 MT in 2016 to 79,107 MT in 2017. All provinces registered decreases except for Biliran and Leyte which posted an increase of 10.6% and 1.2%, respectively. Samar registered the highest decrease in volume of production at 8.8%.

On the other hand, volume of production in Aquaculture went up by 33.6%, from 32,219 MT in 2016 to 43,039 in 2017. Increases registered in Southern Leyte (68.8%), Leyte (58.1%), and Eastern Samar (31.7%) offset the decreases recorded in Biliran (97.2%), Samar (14.0%), and Northern Samar (10.8%).

Almost three-fifths or 58.1% (79,107 MT) of the total fishery production in the region were from Municipal Fishing. Aquaculture contributed 31.6% (43,039 MT), while Commercial Fishing accounted for 10.3% (13,995 MT).

Volume of Fishery Production by sub-sector and province, Region VIII: 2016-2017
Eastern Visayas Fishery production






DPWH-8 PIOs media workshop
DPWH Public Information Officers are all smiles at the end of the workshop posing with the resource speaker Mr. Sarwell Q. Meniano (wearing white polo shirt).

DPWH-8 PIOs hold workshop on press release that lands a media coverage

Press Release
March 28, 2018

NAVAL, Biliran – Public Information Officers (PIOs) of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region VIII continuously exert efforts to enhance their news writing skills.

Recently, DPWH PIOs held their first Quarterly Meeting Cum Workshop at Leyte 1st District Engineering Office (DEO) Maintenance Sub Office, Brgy. Sto. Niño, Tanauan Leyte on March 22-23 with the topic ‘’Press Release (PR) That Lands a Media Coverage’’.

With different career background among DPWH PIOs, Ms. Antonieta R. Lim, DPWH Regional PIO said that conducting workshops under the department’s Communication Development Program will improve the capacity of the designated district PIOs on their duties and responsibilities to inform the public of its programs, policies and projects.

There were at least 30 PIOs from 13 district engineering offices attended the said workshop with Mr. Sarwell Q. Meniano as the resource speaker.

Meniano is currently the editor of Philippine News Agency in Eastern Visayas Region.

One of the highlights of his discussion is sharing the most common mistakes in PR writing. According to him, there is only 2.6 seconds to win over a visitor. Having a wrong headline is a total waste while good headlines makes a difference.

The best clock worthy headlines according to him is dealing with statistics. From the planning stage, design, construction and maintenance of national infrastructures, DPWH deals with statistics every day. He gave advice to focus more on the project updates, number of kilometres, number of beneficiaries and the like.

Aside from writing a good headline, Meniano also encouraged the participants to use active voice in their news writing instead of the passive voice because it is shorter and more direct.

He also shared the most common mistakes in DPWH press releases. Among of these are having the very long start, too many names in news lead, too many technical terms, overuse of unfamiliar acronyms, less attention to the substance, no direct quotations and more.

“PRs that doesn’t require much correction from the editor have a bigger chance on landing a media coverage since it would not cost much time for the editor to edit,” said Meniano.

To test the learnings of the participants, they were tasked to re-write and identify mistakes from the sample news release given by the resource speaker. The activity gave the participants a better understanding on writing a good PR.

The workshop ended with an open forum from the participants followed by the 1st quarterly meeting of PIOs.

DPWH PIOs will continue to conduct trainings and seminars under the Communication Development Program to acquire and develop their communication skills.






NMP stakeholders’ forum
Left picture: Usec. Jacinto V. Paras delivering his Keynote Speech. Right picture: NMP Key officials answering the questions posed by the media.

NMP conducts stakeholders’ forum and media forum

Press Release
March 28, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – As part of the Agency’s commitment to improve the maritime industry, the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) thru its Maritime Research and Development Division (MRDD) conducted a Stakeholders’ Forum and Media Forum on 22 March 2018 at The Bayleaf Intramuros, Manila.

The Stakeholders’ Forum served as a venue for NMP to present the three (3) completed researches in CY 2017, namely: Skills Gaps Analysis of Maritime Faculty in Philippine Maritime Higher Education Institutions (MHEIs); Gender Sensitivity Training for Seafarers (GSTS) Course: A Program Evaluation; and Responding to the Filipino Seafarers’ Training Requirements in the STCW 2010 Manila Amendments: Challenges and Opportunities.

Usec. Jacinto V. Paras quoted during his keynote speech an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go with others.” He said that “Going far simply can’t be done without people to support you.” He emphasized the need to sustain cooperation and collaboration between and among maritime stakeholdersto be able to respond to the ever growing needs of the Filipino seafarers.

Findings of the researches were disseminated to the industry stakeholders from the government, maritime education and training (MET) institutions, maritime associations, seafarers’ organizations, shipping companies and manning agencies. Recommendations from the researches may serve as valuable inputs to policy making and program development that impact on the Filipino seafarers as a special workforce of the country.

The forum also served as a platform for NMP to launch its e-Research Information System which was developed to communicate to the public its conducted researches, engage interested stakeholders to collaborate in ongoing research undertakings, solicit researchable areas, enjoin the MET practitioners to contribute papers and articles for the Philippine Journal on Maritime Education and Training (PJMET) and facilitate linkages between and among stakeholders and concerned maritime agencies both for the private and the government entity.

Along with the Philippine Development Plan of the Duterte Administration, the NMP crafted its Strategic Plan 2018-2020 within its mandate and towards its vision as “The Philippines’ leader in maritime training, including e-learning and research”. The said plan was also presented during the forum for further inputs from the stakeholders as a way of validating its responsiveness to the industry that the NMP serves as well as to introduce possible areas of collaboration in the implementation of the plan.

The conduct of research is one of the mandates of NMP, in which research output are utilized to formulate policies and regulations for the improvement of the maritime manpower sector of the industry. NMP is also mandated to conduct researches on the latest maritime technology.

In the afternoon of the said day, a Media Forum was organized by NMP to communicate to the national media the highlights of accomplishments of the Agency, strategic directions and major programs, projects and activities towards its vision and mission.

There were forty-nine (49) participants to the stakeholders’ forum while the media forum was attended by twenty (20) media outlets mostly members of Maritime Journalists Association of the Philippines (MJAP), Inc., headed by Ms. Carmela I. Huelar, its President.

Aside from its research function, the NMP continues to upgrade its facilities and provide maritime trainings required pursuant to the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW) Convention as amended in 2010 including value-adding courses towards improving the qualifications of Filipino seafarers for their employment acceptability and enhanced competitiveness.

Those interested to take NMP training programs may visit the NMP website www.nmp.gov.ph and its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/nmptrainingcenter) where all related information on NMP trainings are available.





Highlights of Eastern Visayas’ construction statistics: 4th quarter 2017

By PSA-8
March 28, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – The region’s total number of constructions in the fourth quarter of 2017 reached 669. This reflected a decrease of 56.5% from the 1,539 constructions recorded during the same quarter in 2016.

Data were based on the preliminary results of construction statistics from approved building permits.

By type of construction, Residential Building constructions declined by 72.8%, from 1,248 constructions in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 339 constructions in the fourth quarter of 2017.

On the other hand, Non-Residential Building constructions increased by 12.2%, from 181 constructions in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 203 constructions in the same period of the 2017.

Similarly, combined number for Additions/Alterations and Repairs of existing structures went up by 15.5%, from 110 constructions in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 127 constructions during the quarter in review.

A little more than half (50.7%) of the constructions were Residential Buildings. Non-Residential Buildings comprised 30.3%, while Additions/Alterations and Repairs accounted for 19.0% of the region’s total constructions.

The total value of constructions in the region during the fourth quarter of 2017 was estimated at P1.9 billion. This figure is 36.1% lower compared with the P3.0 billion total value of constructions during the same quarter in 2016.

Total value of Residential Building constructions significantly dropped by 76.6%, from P1.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016 to P4.4 million in the same period in 2017.

Similarly, aggregate value of Additions/Alterations and Repairs declined by 34.5%, from P87.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 to P57.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

On the other hand, total value of Non-Residential Buildings increased by 34.9%, from P1.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016 to P1.4 billion during the quarter in review.

Total value of Non-Residential Building in the region comprised the largest share in terms of value at 74.4%. Value of constructions of Residential Building contributed almost a quarter (22.7%), while Additions/Alterations and Repairs accounted for 3.0% of the region’s total value of construction.

Average cost per square meter of residential buildings

Average cost per square meter of Residential Buildings in the region for the fourth quarter of 2017 was estimated at P8,811, higher by 3.1% compared with the P8,544 average cost in the same period last year.

Among the different types of residential buildings, Single type reported higher average cost per square meter at P8,639 during the reference period from P7,740 per square meter in the same period in 2016.

Similarly, average cost per square meter for Apartment/Accessoria/Others increased by 12.6%, from P8,761 in the fourth quarter of 2016 to P9,868 in the same quarter in 2017. It reported the highest average cost per square meter among residential buildings.

On the other hand, average cost of Duplex/Quadruplex decreased by 19.1%, from P10,089 in the fourth quarter of 2016 to P8,167 during the quarter in review.

Average cost per square meter of non-residential buildings

Average cost per square meter of Non-Residential Buildings in the region for the fourth quarter of 2017 was estimated at P7,237, lower by 18.7% compared with the P8,903 average cost in the same period last year.

Among the different types of non-residential buildings, Commercial Buildings reported lower average cost per square meter at P6,867 during the reference period from P8,681 per square meter in the same period in 2016.

Similarly, average cost per square meter for Institutional Buildings decreased by 31.0%, from P10,556 in the fourth quarter of 2016 to P7,286 in the same quarter in 2017.

On the other hand, average cost of Agricultural and Other Non-Residential Buildings more than doubled, posting an increase of 114.0%, from P4,155 in the fourth quarter of 2016 to P8,891 in the fourth quarter of 2017. It reported the highest average cost per square meter among non-residential buildings.

Industrial Buildings likewise recorded higher average cost per square meter at P7,018 during the quarter in review from P4,992 per square meter in the same period in 2016.







DPWH PIO training
Glenn Lagman (in blue shirt and khaki shorts) of Samar First District Engineering Office gets a first-hand experience in handling drone operation.

DPWH: Public Information Officers take training to new heights

March 27, 2018

CALBAYOG CITY – Public Information Officers (PIOs) of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region VIII upgrade their skills during the first quarterly meeting on March 22-23, 2018 in Tanauan, Leyte. Hosted by the joint efforts of Leyte I, II, III District Engineering Offices and Tacloban City District Engineering Office, the meeting cum workshop tackles drone operation among many others.

The technical name of drones is “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” (UAVs). They are trending aerial vehicles which come in wide varieties of sizes and shapes and functions, which are controlled either by remote or control systems from the ground. The PIOs take advantage of such device to further up their game in the field of documentation as well as make use of it in audio-visual presentations. In the workshop, PIOs get to have basic knowledge of the tool and equal opportunities in actual flying it to film and capture pictures in high altitude.

Information accumulated though will be wasted if not properly disseminated by appropriate means. This is where improving media relations come into play which is the topic of the resource speaker, Mr. Sarwell Q. Meniano, an editor in the Philippines News Agency. He provided pointers in making press releases that will land media coverage as well as steadily trekking the tricky and fragile relationships with the media. Ms. Antonieta R. Lim, Regional Public Assistance and Information Officer, and her staff added some updates with the Communication Development Program in line with the continuing capability-building effort for PIO designates and it’s alternate.

The training culminates with Mr. Sarwell Q. Meniano leaving a reminder, “Never assume that others know what you know. Submitting a story online means you are reaching to a global audience who are not familiar with local and technical terms. Think global in this digital age.”





Army clashes anew in Eastern Samar, 1 CPP-NPA terrorist killed, 2 high powered firearms recovered

March 27, 2018

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – A platoon from 14th Infantry (Avenger) Battalion under Lt. Col. Manuel Leo Q. Gador while responding to information from the populace on the presence of an armed group in Barangay San Roque, Maslog, Eastern, Samar was fired upon by more or less 12 CPP-NPA Terrrorists (CNTs) today, March 27, 2018 at 6:00 o’ clock in the morning.

The 30-minute firefight resulted to the recovery of one M16A1 rifle; one AK-47 rifle; one hand grenade; two landmines; 11 jungle hammock backpacks; 12 poncho tent; one cellular phone; and subversive documents with high intelligence value. No reported casualty on the government side while one dead body of the enemy was recovered at the encounter site.

This unrelenting campaign of the Army in the region will deter the criminal activities of the CNTs to conduct possible attack/atrocities on far-flung communities during the observance of the Lenten Season.

In his message, Maj. Gen. Raul M. Farnacio AFP, Commander, 8ID said, “These CPP-NPA Terrorists are taking advantage from the shadow of fear and weakness of the community of their threat, we will not put our hands down in securing the safety and protection of community.”





Renewable energy advocates, citizen’s groups decry Congress’s recommendation for Meralco’s ‘dirty, costly’ contracts

Press Release
March 27, 2018

QUEZON CITY – Civil society organizations slammed the recent recommendation issued by the House of Representatives Committees on Energy and Good Governance and Public Accountability supporting the approval of Meralco’s controversial deals with its affiliate generation companies.

“After almost a year of investigating the irregularities surrounding Meralco’s seven Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) with its sister generation corporations, the House of Representatives Committee on Energy ended up recommending the approval of the questionable contracts,” said Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) Executive Director Gerry Arances. “This goes against the facts and evidence presented by civil society, affirmed by the Ombudsman’s finding of possible collusion between Meralco and the ERC,” he continued.

Quezon Representative Cong. Danilo Suarez filed the motion to recommend the contracts for approval after Bayan Representative Cong. Zarate moved to investigate the anomalous deals entered into by Meralco without the required competitive selection process (CSP), suspiciously waived by the ERC for the distribution utility.

“CEED has twice presented in the hearings conducted by the Committees on Good Governance and Energy the effect of approving these contracts on the environment, the electricity bills of consumers, and the country’s commitment to abandon coal and increase the share of Renewable Energy,” said CEED Legal Officer Atty. Avril De Torres. “While the decision to approve these contracts lie solely on the ERC, the recommendation of the House of Representatives may overshadow the various irregularities surrounding the deals, and their negative implications on the consumers,” she continued.

De Torres reiterated how these PSAs accounting for 3,551 MW of power will “lock in millions of Filipinos to relying on costly and dirty energy from coal for at least twenty years” once approved.

“The opportunity cost of losing the interest of coal investors is not enough to subject the end-users to such an unfair deal,” De Torres responded to Rep. Suarez’s comments. “The resolution disregards the willingness of clean energy companies to fill in the energy needs of the consumers while respecting the governing rules ensuring that consumers will be provided the cleanest, most competitive energy option,” De Torres continued.

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa of the multisectoral coalition Sanlakas, among the oppositors in the applications filed by Meralco and its affiliate coal companies, denounced how Meralco has successfully mobilized support from almost all branches of the government, even with its “blatant disregard for good governance and the rights of the consumers.”

“From the TRO by the Court of Appeals lifting the suspension of the seven ERC commissioners suspected of colluding with Meralco, to the Lower House’s recommendation of Meralco’s power deals, the country’s largest power company has successfully maneuvered to getting its way at the expense of Filipino citizens,” said Pedrosa. “On top of that, it is using fear tactics to scare consumers into thinking that the rejection of their contracts will lead to massive brownouts, which the House of Representatives reflected in their resolution,” he said.

“The recommendation issued by the Lower House is also a slap in the face of those who will be affected by and are actively resisting the construction and operation of coal fired power plants, most notably those in Atimonan, Quezon, the very constituents of the recommendation’s mastermind, Rep. Danilo Suarez,” Pedrosa noted.





Palay production in Eastern Visayas declines by 1.0% in 2017

By PSA-8
March 26, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – Palay production in Eastern Visayas declined by 1.0 percent from 954,844 metric tons (MT) in 2016 to 945,565 MT in 2017.

Among the provinces, Leyte produced the highest volume of palay at 481,487 MT which comprised a little more than half (50.9%) of the total palay production in the region. Eastern Samar, meanwhile, had the lowest volume of production (59,754 MT) accounting for only 6.3%.

The total harvest area for palay in the region, on the other hand, inched up by 1.8%, from 268,110 hectares in 2016 to 272,889 hectares in 2017. Increases in palay area harvested were observed among all provinces, except for Biliran and Southern Leyte which exhibited decreases of 2.6% and 2.4%, respectively.

Leyte recorded more than two-fifths or 43.4% (481,487 hectares) of the total palay area harvested in 2017, while Biliran contributed the least (14,383 hectares) accounting for only 5.3%.

Yield for palay in the region went down by 2.7%, from 3.6 MT per hectare in 2016 to 3.5 MT per hectare in 2017.

Among the provinces, Biliran posted the highest yield per hectare at 4.5 MT per hectare in 2017. Eastern Samar registered the lowest yield per hectare at 2.6 MT per hectare.

Eastern Visayas Palay production






Army encounters NPA terrorists in Eastern Samar, recovers 1 rifle

March 26, 2018

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – A five minute firefight ensued between a squad from 14th Infantry (Avenger) Battalion and a group of about five members of the CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) in Sitio Parik, Barangay Cansangaya, Can-avid, Eastern Samar on March 24, 2018 at 11:05 o’ clock in the morning.

Said troops acted from information coming from concerned residents on the presence of an armed group conducting extortion activities in the said community. Troops immediately conducted a combat operation that resulted to the recovery of one M1A1 Garand rifle with serial number 2065519 and one bandolier with four clip of magazine with ammo. No reported casualty was reported on both sides.

The 49th Anniversary of the New People’s Army falls within the holy week period, it is presumed that there is a possibility that they will take violent actions and terroristic acts by launching atrocities against AFP/PNP personnel, camps and detachments in Eastern Visayas.

Maj. Gen. Raul M. Farnacio AFP, Commander, 8ID said, “The Army will remain steadfast in its campaign in protecting the populace from CNTs and other threat groups criminal activities, and secure churches/cathedrals, places of religious worship, resorts, economic centers, seat of government instrumentalities, and other vital installations to ensure the peaceful observance of the Lenten Season, in collaboration with the PNP through the Joint Peace Security and Coordinating Center (JPSCC).”






Continuing the fight against TB in prisons

New Bilibid Prison

March 25, 2018

MANILA – Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health concern in the Philippines, which remains among the most affected countries in the world. The country’s overcrowded places of detention are particularly exposed to the disease. However, in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, some significant gains have been made in the fight to eliminate TB among inmates.

In collaboration with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched a pilot project at NBP in 2013 aimed at improving TB control strategies.

Through the project, more than 50,000 detainees were screened for TB. Around 2,800 of them with active TB, including 219 detainees with drug-resistant TB, were identified and enrolled for the treatment. Over 1,700 patients were cured, and the TB mortality rate dropped from 157 deaths to 112 per 100,000 people. The prison achieved the national and World Health Organization’s target of 90 percent success rate in treatment of drug-susceptible TB cases.

On 20 March 2018, this pilot project, which is also intended to serve as a model for other detention facilities to enhance their TB program implementation, was officially handed over to BuCor for continuance. Speaking on behalf of the TB Treatment Unit, Dr. Maria Cecilia Villanueva was confident about the way forward: “I know that our TB team will continue to do our best.”

“There are areas that require strong focus, such as screening upon entry in the Reception and Diagnostic Center, as it would allow us to efficiently diagnose inmates and give them the treatment they need at the earliest possible time. We now have the equipment and skills to do that,” Villanueva added.

Owing to this collaboration, the NBP TB staff work in a renovated and functional treatment unit. It contains fully equipped offices, clinic, pharmacy, TB laboratory, and a 200-bed-capacity isolation dormitory with patients’ access to open air and gardening.

On the occasion of World TB Day on 24 March, the ICRC affirms its commitment to continue its mobilization efforts to ensure access to quality TB care in detention.

“We believe that collaboration among the authorities and external partners is the best way forward in order for the Philippines to be TB-free by 2035,” said Dr. Kester Maniaul, TB in detention program manager of the ICRC.

“TB in detention facilities is a serious public health issue. The gains we see now may not be substantial to eliminate TB among inmates sooner unless overcrowding, which contributes to the rapid spread of this preventable disease, and issues such as the overall lack of human resources in jails and prisons are addressed,” Maniaul added.

The ICRC is a neutral, impartial, and independent humanitarian organization whose exclusive humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence, and to provide them with assistance.

In the Philippines, looking after the rights of people detained in relation to armed conflicts in the past three decades, the ICRC has been visiting detention facilities across the country to monitor the conditions and treatment of detainees. And whenever necessary, it also supports the authorities in their efforts to address the causes of jail overcrowding and carries out projects to improve inmates’ living conditions and their access to health care, water, and sanitation.






Ceremonial Entrustment of Firearms
Hon. Edwin Marino C. Ongchuan during the Ceremonial Entrustment of Firearms to the Philippine Army Candidate Soldier Course Class 511-2017 at the 8ID Grandstand, Camp Lukban, Catbalogan City on March 24, 2018.

235 newly enlisted privates strengthens army in Eastern Visayas

March 25, 2018

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – The Philippine Army Candidate Soldier Course Class 511-2017 was formally closed on March 24, 2018 at 10 o’clock in the morning at the 8ID Grandstand, Camp Lukban, Brgy. Maulong, Catbalogan City, Samar.

The closing ceremony was graced by Hon. Edwin Marino C. Ongchuan, Representative, 2nd Congressional District of Northern Samar as the Guest of Honor and Speaker who further led the ceremonial entrustment of firearms, distribution of certificates and individual achievements. The entrustment of firearms to the 235 newly enlisted privates symbolizes their responsibilities and commitment to the people and the country.

Hon. Ongchuan emphasized during his inspirational message their duty as public servants of the country. “As new soldiers, you should always remember the law for the benefit of the country. You have undergone rigid training, and some bad make did not survive, but you are in today feeling victorious because after all the hardship you gained confidence. So my dear graduates, let us be full upright in performing our duties with dignity and honor, let us avoid getting involved in any wrongdoing that will tarnish you being a soldier and servant of the Republic of the Philippines,” Hon. Ongchuan said.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Raul M. Farnacio AFP, Commander, 8ID reminded the new soldiers of 8ID the value of sacrifice. “Natutunan niyo noong kayo ay nag-aaply at nagsasanay pa lamang na sakripisyo ang kailangan para maging sundalo. Sakripisyo na mawalay sa inyong pamilya para sa mas maginhawang kinabukasan. At sa mga susunod na araw bilang mga bagong sundalo ng Republika ng Pilipinas, mas mararamdaman niyo na para magtagal at magtagumpay sa propesyon na ito ay kailangan pa ng mas malalim na sakripisyo. Ito ang sakripisyo para sa ating bayan,” he said.

The youngest members of the Stormtroopers Division will join the fight against insurgency, illegal drugs, private armed group, and terrorism.





Eastern Visayas registers 96.3% employment rate in January 2018

Eastern Visayas employment rate

By PSA-8
March 23, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – Employment rate in Eastern Visayas in January 2018 was estimated at 96.3%, ranking fifth among the regions with high employment rate in the country. This figure is higher than the 93.6% ER recorded in January 2017. Employment rate is the proportion of employed persons to total labor force.

Out of the estimated 3.1 million population 15 years old and over in January 2018, about 1.9 million were economically active or in the labor force. This number translates to a Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) of 61.6%. This figure is 5.4 percentage points higher compared with the 56.2% LFPR in the same period a year ago. Among the regions, Eastern Visayas registered the fifth lowest LFPR.

The underemployed persons or those employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours was estimated at 361 thousand. This is equal to an underemployment rate of 19.4%, lower than the 23.2% recorded in the same period last year. The region had the ninth highest underemployment rate in the country.

Meanwhile, about 71 thousand persons in the labor force were unemployed. This translates to an unemployment rate of 3.7%, lower than the 6.4 percent rate recorded in January 2017. Eastern Visayas ranked fifth among the regions with low employment rate.

Data were based on the preliminary estimates released by the Philippine Statistics Authority from the Labor Force Survey (LFS) conducted in January 2018.






DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villlar in Biliran
DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villlar graced the occasion as the keynote speaker during women’s celebration in behalf of his mother Senator Cynthia A. Villar on Wednesday, March 14 held at the Activity Center, Capitol Grounds, Calumpang, Naval, Biliran.

Employees of Biliran DEO participate 23rd provincial women’s congress

March 21, 2018

NAVAL, Biliran – Women employees of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Biliran District Engineering Office participated the 23rd Provincial Women’s Congress on Wednesday, March 14 held at the Activity Center, Capitol Grounds, Calumpang, Naval, Biliran.

There were an estimated 3,000 women-participants coming from the 132 barangays, 49 sitios, and 186 chapters of Women for Rural Development – Katipunan ng Liping Pilipino (WORD-KALIPI) province-wide, Provincial Council for Women's Welfare, Incorporated (PCWWI) officials and members, women legislators and other women sectors in the province who joined the said activity.

The event started with a holy mass followed with a parade going to the provincial capitol grounds for the opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Trade Fair and the opening program.

One of the highlights of the celebration was the plenary session/ discussions on interesting topics to provide participants with knowledge on promoting gender equality and empowerment.

There were also slogan writing contest, dance contest and skills training simultaneous with the plenary sessions: skirting, stage decoration, marcotting and grafting, make-over and vermin composting.

Other activities during the celebration includes the trade fair which showcased the livelihood projects of women.

DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villlar graced the occasion as the keynote speaker during women’s celebration in behalf of his mother Senator Cynthia A. Villar.

Senator Villar is known for providing livelihood programs to the people. Biliran Province is one of the beneficiaries of her legislation under Republic Act No. 10861 otherwise known as An act for the establishment for provincial fisheries and aquatic resources training, development, and product center.

On his speech, the DPWH Secretary highlighted the strong support of her mother to the group of women. He also vowed to continue supporting the Biliran women’s organization especially when it comes to infrastructures and livelihood programs.

The National Women’s Celebration every March is part of the worldwide observance of the International Women’s Day pursuant to R.A. 6469 series of 1996.

This year’s celebration is in adherence with the theme “We Make Change Work for Women which shall be used from 2017- 2022.





UPVTC wins over SPSPS, completes set of quarter finalists in the Intercollegiate Federalism Debate

Intercollegiate Federalism Debate

March 21, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY – The University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College (UPVTC) triumphed over St. Paul’s School of Professional Studies (SPSPS) in the 2nd match of the Preliminary Rounds of the 2018 Intercollegiate Federalism Debate (Tacloban City/Leyte leg) hosted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) at the 2nd floor, Student Center, Leyte Normal University on March 21, 2018.

Leonardo Dimatangal of UPVTC also stood out among other debaters by bagging both the Best Debater and Best Speaker medals.

The teams argued on the following proposition, “Resolve that the country shall adopt a unicameral legislature in a federal system of government”, with SPSPS taking the affirmative stand and UPVTC tasked with the negative viewpoint.

The UPVTC team was composed of Brandon Ian Dela Cruz, Leonardo Dimatangal, Jeffrae Isaac Albert Damayo, and Gio Martin Ocfemia, with Prof. Dakila Yee as the coach; while the SPSPS team was composed of Jejomar Bru, Glydel Jain A. Tacad, Joshua V. Baldo, and Gil Kristopher C. Rosillo, mentored by Atty. Jose Aguinalde.

Prof. Arvin de Veyra moderated the debate, which aired live over DYVL AksyonRadyo Tacloban and on the DILG Region 8 Facebook page. The panel of judges were from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines - Leyte Chapter, Atty. Karah Jane A. Tamboong, Atty. Vincent Q. Piga, and Atty. Romeo Dax Calamaya.

UPVTC will be joining the quarterfinals with the rest of the winning colleges all over the region.

The quarterfinal rounds of the debate are scheduled on April 2 for the match between Leyte Normal University (LNU) and Maasin City College (MCC); April 4 for Visayas State University (VSU) vs. Naval State University (NSU); April 11 for the match between University of Eastern Philippines (UEP) and Eastern Samar State University (ESSU); and April 16 for the debate between UPVTC and Samar College. The semi-finals and grand finals are to be scheduled within the same month.

The 2018 Intercollegiate Federalism Debate is one of DILG Region 8’s responses to the President’s directive for the department to lead the information campaign on Federalism. Recognizing that the youth predominantly compose the voting population, DILG-8 decided to gear many IEC activities towards this age group. A debate on the merits and details of Federalism hopes to bring about improved awareness, knowledge, discussion, and appreciation of Federalism and other forms of government, and at the same time promote a culture of discussion on Federalism and relevant issues among various audiences.






DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar
Interview of DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar with Biliran Island.com during his visit on March 14 to Biliran Province. The DPWH Secretary attended the 23rd Biliran Women’s Congress Celebration as a keynote speaker in behalf of his mother, Senator Cynthia A. Villar. He also conducted an on-site inspection of CarayCaray Bridge with Engr. Edgar B. Tabacon, Regional Director, Engr. David P. Adongay Jr. and Engr. Alfredo L. Bollido, Assistant District Engineer of Biliran District Engineering Office.

DPWH-Biliran DEO to construct detour across Caraycaray river for heavy vehicles

March 21, 2018

NAVAL, Biliran – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Biliran District Engineering Office (DEO) will construct a detour across the CarayCaray River.

This will reduce the travel time of heavy vehicles from two and a half hour travel (90Kms) to 30 minutes (19kms) from Biliranto Naval, the capital town.

DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar said that the DPWH will prioritized the funding for the said detour to solve the problem of using the long route.

Villar was at Biliran on Wednesday, March 14 as the keynote speaker in behalf of his mother, Senator Cynthia A. Villar during the 23rd Biliran Women’s Congress Celebration.

His visit was also an opportunity for him to conduct an on-site inspection of CarayCaray Bridge which was damaged by Tropical Storm Urduja last December 15, 2017.

According to Villar, there is really a need to speed-up the construction of the new bridge to lower the cost of goods in the Province of Biliran.

Since after typhoon Urduja, trucks, panels and other heavy vehicles were advised to take the alternate long route Naval-Almeria-Kawayan-Culaba-Caibiran-Cabucgayan road and vice versa, thus leads price hikes of other goods in the market.

Engr. David P. Adongay Jr., District Engineer of Biliran DEO also said that the completion of detour will also help contractors to fast-track their project implementation because contractors will no longer have an excuse for the delay of their projects.

The construction of detour across CarayCaray River has a length of 45m. with pavement width of 6.10m and a thickness of 0.28m with a budget amount of P4.760M. It is already under Preliminary and Detailed (PDE) activities.





Energy Research Institution:

Meralco, coal companies pushing high-cost, dirty electricity this summer

Press Release
March 21, 2018

QUEZON CITY – According to energy research institution Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), higher consumer demand for power during the summer is now being utilized by Meralco and its affiliate coal generation companies to push for the approval of their power supply agreements sourced from coal (coal PSAs). Just three months ago, the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of four Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Commissioners over the anomalous coal PSAs.

CEED Executive Director Gerry Arances called out energy giants Meralco and Redondo Peninsula for bemoaning the delay in the approval of their coal PSAs but overlooking the interests of consumers, who opposed the said approval.

“Meralco and its affiliate coal companies have pushed for the approval and operation of their coal-fired power plants under the guise of protecting consumers from power outages,” Arances noted.

“However, these coal PSAs are being contested by the consumers themselves, with the support of environment and grassroot organizations, for spelling out higher electricity prices and a dirtier environment for the next twenty years,” said Arances.

CEED Legal and Policy Officer Atty. Avril De Torres also lamented the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Court of Appeals against the Ombudsman’s suspension order, in order to prevent public service disruption.

“Public service disruption should not be used as a justification to stay the Ombudsman’s suspension order and to approve the anomalous coal PSAs. Our remedies should be to immediately appoint acting commissioners, and to prioritize the approval of cleaner and cheaper energy. This is how we ensure that we are promoting public service and consumer interest over the interests of coal companies,” said De Torres.

According to Arances, coal spells out higher electricity prices since coal is already more expensive than wind and solar energy. Under the seven coal PSAs, the average rate of coal electricity is PHP 3.65/kWh, meanwhile wind and solar are at a lower rate of P3.50/kWh and P2.99/kWh, respectively.

Arances stated that what is also usually left out in Meralco and other coal giants’ pressure for more coal is the global transition away from coal, which puts facilities like coal-fired power plants at risk of becoming stranded assets.

He cited a study conducted by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) which showed that ‘stranded coal assets’ are a growing material risk that is inevitable in the Philippines.

Arances said that according to the IEEFA and ICSC study, trends in the coal-fired electricity generation sector, such as the over-build of coal-fired power plants, ‘may leave ratepayers at risk of having to pay above-market prices.’

“If Meralco and its coal affiliates have their way in the approval and operation of their coal plants, Philippine electricity consumers are to be locked into not only twenty more years of dirty and steadily increasing electricity prices, but also into paying for stranded asset costs of these obsolete coal plants,” Arances claimed.

“Necessarily, this will also prevent consumers from accessing cleaner and cheaper electricity from sources like renewable energy,” he concluded.


Last updated: 05/19/2018