PA Domingo, Rep. Uy, VG Redaja pledge support
to save billions of pesos lost in floods in Samar
CHITO D. DELA TORRE
(March 10, 2005) Catbalogan, Samar ‑
Presidential Assistant for Eastern Visayas Secretary Victor Domingo, First
District Representative Reynaldo S. Uy and Samar Vice‑Governor Jesus B.
Redaja vowed to support efforts to put an end to the yearly inundation that
devastates an estimated 7,000 hectares of croplands in the TAGASAPA zone (Tarangnan,
Gandara, San Jorge and Pagsanghan towns in Samar) and cause the melting away
of approximately P392 million in farmers' capital and crops.
The yearly loss could
have meant during the past 43 years, since a major typhoon cum flashfloods
occurred in 1961, damages valued roughly at P16.8 billion.
With short‑term and
long‑term solutions introduced eventually, this tremendous amount could be
saved in the next 43 years, and used for further interventions aimed at
scoring a very high agricultural productivity level.
More than thirty other
government executives in Region VIII and representatives of the private
media, non‑government organizations and people's organizations in Samar,
including the 34th infantry battalion of the Philippine Army took turns in
expressing their commitments during the daylong "final meeting" on the
perennial flooding problem which was hosted by the local government unit of
Gandara through mayor Antonieto T. Cabuenos last February 28, 2005.
The dramatic outpouring
of support was witnessed by three sangguniang bayan members of San Jorge,
Gandara SB member Lucila Oakley (whose function hall, known as "Rendezvous",
served as venue for the first‑ever big gathering of multi‑sectoral leaders
who composed the Multi‑Sectoral Action Group or MAG which was informally
formed last January 20 in a meeting at the Samar Island Biodiversity Project
conference hall), officials from the Department of Land Reform led by
regional director Tiburcio A. Morales Jr., and Gandara LGU employees and
To them, the occasion was
important, relevant, and timely even as it painted brightest hopes that,
finally, serious government attention could eventually be focused towards
restoring the lost "rice bowl of Samar (Gandara), empowering rice farmers
along President Gloria Macapagal‑Arroyo's "food basket program", and
eradicating schistosomiasis which afflicted an undetermined big number of
the population in those towns.
Estimation of Cost of Damages
Based on the formula used
by San Jorge municipal agricultural officer Bienvenido S. Diongon, coupled
with the assumed estimates repeatedly made in the past and on that meeting
by Vice‑Gov. Redaja, a whopping P392 million is lost yearly from flashflood
occurrences in the TAGASAPA zone.
alone of the cost of damages to rice crops included the following
assumptions: a yield of 3.5 tons (3.5 multiplied by 1,000 kilograms which is
the equivalent of 1 ton) per hectare will mean a production of 3,500 kgs per
hectare per cropping season, which, when multiplied by P8.00 which is the
given the price of rice per kilo, will result in the estimated value of
production in the amount of P28,000 per hectare.
Given two cropping
seasons every year, this, in turn, translates to a total yearly rice
production value of P56,000 for every hectare.
Thus, 7,000 has. of land
devoted to rice alone will mean a loss of P392 million yearly. In 43 years,
the loss chalks up to P16.856 billion.
Computation for other
damaged crops is based on the following given values: corn ‑ a production
output of 3 tons (times 1,000 kilos per ton) per hectare valued at P6 per
kilo, to give a value of P 18,000 per hectare; and vegetable ‑ a production
output of 6 tons (times 1,000 kilos per ton) per hectare at P 10 per kilo,
for a total value of P60,000 per hectare.
Secretary Domingo’s commitments
Sec. Domingo made his
commitments in a keynote message delivered for him by his assistant, Jaime
Dechos, but urged the provincial government of Samar to expedite action at
its own level so that the same could be acted upon accordingly and swiftly
by the Regional Development Council.
Through Dechos, Sec.
Domingo also shared his vision for the TAGASAPA area ‑ one that is "schistosomiasis‑free,
a food basket, and a model for environmental perfection."
He said he will ensure
that outputs and resolutions on the flooding problem will reach the
"preferential attention of the President' and that the project (referring to
the final output of the provincial government and the MAG) will be endorsed
to the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council as a "national priority
program for funding"
Also, he said, he will
assist source funds for the project, from various helpful institutions
including those from international funding agencies, as well as assist the
LGUs in accessing financial sources.
Sec. Domingo further
committed to "monitor compliance of the commitments of the different line
agencies for their specific contributions in the realization of this
Assistant who is also Presidential Adviser on Poverty Alleviation (PAPA)
then required the preparation of a master development plan or the project
feasibility study and requested the LGUs to jointly finance the preparation
of the project feasibility study.
In the same keynote
message, Sec. Domingo congratulated the LGUs and the Catbalogan Cable
Television Media Advocates Nucleus (CCATMAN) for initiating the series of
fora, that have led to the identification of solutions to the flooding
problem that had been haunting the TAGASAPA zone at least twice a year since
1961 and destroying at least 7,000 hectares of lands devoted to rice and
other crops. (The CCATMAN called for the series of meetings on January 20,
February 3, and Feb. 28.)
said that on his part as representative of the First District of Samar, “I
assure you of my wholehearted support and extend the needed assistance in my
capacity and in any way I can to the action plan that will be initially
taken by this Multi-sectoral Action Group.”
message read for him by his staff, SPAO I Elena P. Montealto, the
Calbayognon medical-practitioner-turned-mayor-then-congressman said: “We
will be counting on each other as allies and partners in pursuing this
mission. I know that our constructive action and community spirit will
concretize these commitments to combat poverty and help heal our ailing
He also expected he
political leadership of the TAGASAPA LGUs “to set your strategic direction
with great consideration to this enduring flooding problem in your areas of
"Finally today, the
result of your responsive action will be made into an Integrated Master Plan
which will then be submitted and hopefully approved by the provincial
government and the Regional Development Council," he said.
Rep. Uy pointed out that
"the perennial flooding had wasted our vast riceland areas along the
headwaters of our rivers while destroying the spawning grounds for fish and
other wildlife." He added: "Financial losses as well are commonly millions
of pesos each year. While flooding is a natural event, human activities
greatly increase its severity and frequency."
He also called for a
"coordinated flood control programs and other measures," adding that while
private and non‑government organizations are initiating related efforts,
"the government should play an increasingly important role on this mission."
outlined to the 72 participants of that confabulation the steps which should
be followed in order to get the desired solutions and have them finally
endorsed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Samar to the RDC.
While the MAG already
submitted (in the morning of February 26, 2005) to Samar Governor Milagrosa
T. Tan the basic documents, consisting of sangguniang bayan and barangay
resolutions, including resolutions and petitions from people's organizations
and farmers who claim to be victims of the yearly floods, he and the members
of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan should be furnished copies of the same, he
said, in order to get the problem at its right perspective.
(According to the CCATMAN,
the voluminous documents, including a briefer on the flooding problem, were
received at the governor's residence in Burak, Catbalogan, Samar, by her
secretary, Ruby Monterola.)
reiterated what he had been saying in the past consultative meetings on the
problem which, according to CCATMAN president Engr. Ray P. Gaspay, who
presided the first part of that final meeting, began on August 12, when
agrarian director Morales took cognizance of the problem as presented by
representatives of barangay Pajo, Tarangnan
Redaja said with
authority that no single government entity or unit will assume
responsibility over the problem which is so gargantuan to deal with, and
that the problem falls within the proper jurisdiction of the Provincial
Government of Samar since the four towns of Tarangnan, Gandara, San Jorge
and Pagsanghan are component towns of the province of Samar.
He assured at the same
time that once the documents reach the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, that
legislative body will immediately buckle down to work.
Among those who expressed
during that meeting their own commitments were the following: Regional
executive director Leonardo Sibbaluca of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources through Samar provincial environment and natural resources
officer George F. Guillermo, Department of Land Reform RD Tiburcio A.
Morales Jr. through provincial agrarian reform officer Marlu M. Merin,
Department of Public Works and Highways RD Jaime Pacanan and DPWH‑Second
Samar Engineering District district engineer Pablito Aragon through Augusto
Abuda Aguilar, DPWH‑First SED DE Ma. Margarita Laguipo, Department of
Agriculture RED Leo Cañeda through Western Samar infra coordinator Maria
Luisa A. Capili, and Samar State College of Agriculture and Forestry
president Dr. Socorro Bohol through board secretary Manuel V. Baylon and
extension services director Eliodoro D. Original.
Other commitments came
from Samar provincial environment and natural resources management office
PENRO Mansueto Macasaet Delovino, Quedancor provincial chief Eriberto M.
Suyom, the National Irrigation Administration regional manager through Samar
provincial irrigation officer Oscar A. Salamida, Samar Island Biodiversity
Project through co‑project manager Jose C. Lim and PAPS Rosario Cabardo,
34IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Wilson M. Leyva, SPECFI vice‑chairman
Albina Valles; and Philippine Information Agency RD Karena Tiopes through
Samar PIA Infocenter manager Sylvia Serfino.
Zero mining in Samar Island – Usec De Castro
BRYAN M. AZURA
(March 6, 2005) Catbalogan, Samar – While
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s administration is seemingly interested
in more mining operations in the country, top officials of Department of
Environment and Natural Resources are assuring the public that there will be
no such activities in the entire Samar island.
This was the message that
Undersecretary Armando De Castro tried to convey in an interview with media in a recent visit to Samar Island Biodiversity Project office at
Samar State University, Mercedes Compound, this town.
“My initial impression is
Samar will not be included in the areas where the government will allow
operations,” De Castro says citing that Secretary Michael Defensor is
committed to protect the Samar Island Natural Park.
De Castro however admitted
that there is a growing interest in mining by both local and foreign
investors with the decision of the Supreme Court allowing them to do as
such. Very recently, the Chamber of Mines and the DENR with Sec. Defensor,
held an international conference on mining to attract foreign investors.
Presently there are over 500
companies that were given permits nationwide. The undersecretary
nevertheless added, “this number will greatly decrease in time because only
companies that have best practices (on mining operations) will be allowed to
function. With the number of permits granted, De Castro emphasized that
“since we are promoting responsible mining, there will only be specific
areas that will be prioritized.”
The DENR has been getting
irks from the residents of Manicani Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar as it is
unable to resolve the worsening problem between the islanders and Hinatuan
Mining Corporation. The department gave already a nod for the transportation
of the estimated 150-ton stockpile of nickel ore in the said island but the
residents are strongly against it. While the Mines and Geosciences Bureau
affirm that the minerals should already be loaded but the villagers assert
that the firm already extracted more that what it was permitted.
Beñarando Badilla, president
of Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO) expressed his dismay on the negligence on
the part of DENR and MGB despite the heavy siltation on surrounding shores
and yet they still allow the shipment of the minerals. Badilla claims that
the destruction of the sea takes place during loading process of the mines
to the barge.
As of this writing, a
barricade is still set up by anti-mining residents on the premises of the
HMC port to stop any attempt to transport the stockpile.
Asked as to how the
department could resolve the crisis, De Castro answered, “We will talk to
the people and explain to them the order of the department.” “I’m sure there
will be compromises on both sides. We are one with the community to stop the
mining activities in the area,” he added.
Part of De Castro’s visit to
Region 8 is to see for himself the former mining site in Bagacay, Hinabangan,
Samar. “The order of the Secretary is to clean Bagacay up. The government
doesn’t want its lands to be left in an unproductive state,” he stated.
A big area of this barangay
had been heavily damaged due to irresponsible mining many years back. Its
destruction has reached as far as Taft,
Eastern Samar through
Olot River that flows from
the site to this town.
DENR 8 Regional Executive
Director Leonardo Sibaluca of meanwhile denied that there are mining
operations in the town of
Jaibong also of this province. He said there could be explorations
going on but it’s not mining yet. A considerable part of
Samar province is believed
to be rich in bauxite, a principal component of aluminum.
urges Fil-Am groups to support its tourism programs
By PDOTSF/ PNS
(March 5, 2005)
- In line with its outreach program, the Philippine Department of Tourism
made a presentation on the government’s tourism marketing and promotional
programs to various community leaders and media during a breakfast dialogue
under the auspices of Fil-Am Community Forum on
February 26, 2005
at the Social Hall, Philippine Center in San Francisco.
The DFA Ladies Association (DFALA) under the leadership of Consul General
Maria Rowena Mendoza Sanchez served a Filipino breakfast and its proceeds
would be used to finance its various community projects.
Philippine Tourism Director Rene de los Santos appealed for support to DOT’s
marketing and promotional programs among the participants in the face of
government’s budgetary shortfall to mount an aggressive tourism campaign in
the United States.
He also presented an overview of the tourism industry, various factors that
affected the expansion of global tourism and the industry prospects in the
coming years. Data released by the US Department of Commerce revealed that
around 25 million Americans travel overseas annually, of which about 18%
California. San Francisco,
Oakland collectively account for 8% of total US outbound travelers.
De los Santos explained that the presence of a large Filipino ethnic
community, about 2.5 million across the country, provides a good leverage in
marketing the country as a tourist destination. “If all our kababayans will
do personal selling on the country’s positive attributes among their
mainstream friends and colleagues, more tourists would be enticed to visit
our country. Many Caucasians have reservations going to our country because
of the US government’s travel advisory. But, this can be counteracted if
our kababayans make a sales pitch and assure them that the Philippines is a
safe and beautiful destination” de los Santos said.
The role of Fil-Am organizations in tourism promotions was also emphasized.
These groups can organize reunions, conferences and business mission to the
country. Around 600 Fil-Am organizations are included in the registry of
Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco.
“If these organizations alternately bring groups to the
Philippines annually, this would give a big boost to the country’s tourism
industry. They can also feature beautiful spots of their own province or
town in their souvenir programs; or show a tourism video during dinner-dance
functions”, de los
Statistics showed that the number of U.S. visitors to the
grew by 23.3 percent, from 387,879 in 2003 to 478,091 tourists in 2004. The
also maintained its position as the largest source of tourists for the
Philippines. The outstanding growth of the US market is a manifestation of
a strong confidence among American travelers on the Philippines as a safe
and attractive vacation destination. This was achieved in spite of the
travel warnings issued by the US government to its citizens.
Security has become the main factor that influences US traveler in deciding
a place to visit following the terrorists’ attack on the World Trade Center
in September 2001. Americans prefer to undertake domestic travel or visit
nearby destinations like Canada and Mexico. United Kingdom
is the most popular long-haul destination among Americans with 17.15 million
visitors, followed by
France, Italy and Germany. In the Asia Pacific Region, Japan leads the pack
of destinations with 1.06 million American visitors, followed by Australia,
occupies ninth place among the preferred destinations of US international
The morning forum was culminated by a presentation on the forthcoming
Ambassador/Consuls General Tour to the Philippines on
July 13-19, 2005.
The tour is organized to give people who have not been to the country for
sometime to revisit their homeland. No less than Philippine Ambassador to
the United States Albert F. del Rosario, together with all Philippine
Consuls General in the
will lead the delegation of around 550 people across the United States.
One highlight of this tour is a visit to
Palace and a meeting with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and other
People in the Bay Area and nearby states can avail of an affordable package
rate of $1,183 per person, which includes economy round-trip ticket, San
Francisco-Manila-San Francisco via Philippine Airlines and a twin-sharing
accommodation at the Shangri-la or Peninsula Hotel from
July 13-15, 2005.
The package also includes a visit to Intramuros where participants can watch
the newly opened Light and Sound Show, and witness the dramatization of
Filipino way of life during the Spanish era. Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace
Durano will host a dinner/reception with fashion show for participants.
Ombudsman slaps Samar guv et al criminal,
RICKY J. BAUTISTA
(February 24, 2005) CATBALOGAN,
- In the history of Philippine judicial system, this could be the first time
that most of the officials of a province, if found guilty by the charges
lodged against them, may be arrested and incarcerated en masse.
The Office of the Ombudsman
Central Office in
Manila slapped the entire top officials in this most depressed
province of Samar
with Criminal and Administrative Cases, it was learned yesterday.
This stemmed after the
han Samar Movement represented by Rev. Fr. Noel Labendia of the Diocese of
Calbayog, filed a letter of complaint with supporting papers to the Office
of the Ombudsman in Manila alleging that Samar Governor Milagros T. Tan and
her alleged accomplices "conspired and confederated" to each other in
defrauding people's money.
Prior to this, many
concerned Samarnons hold many streets rallies and protests condemning the
"heartless" acts done by the provincial leadership. The street protesters
mostly composed of militant groups, academe, church, non-government and
people's organizations also lambasted the provincial board members for being
"toothless and blind" and for letting themselves used as merely "puppets" to
As this developed, the
accused provincial officials and employees received on Thursday (February
17) two separate orders, both dated January 24, 2005, issued by the
authority of the Honorable Ombudsman Simeon V. Marcelo, through Jose T. De
Jesus Jr., director of the Preliminary Investigation and Administrative
Adjudication Bureau-A (PIAB-A) directing the respondents to file with the
Ombudsman office within 10 days upon receipt their counter-affidavits and
those of their witnesses with supporting documents, if any.
Charged for Administrative
Case (OMB-C-A-05-0051-B) for Grave Misconduct, Dishonesty and Conduct
Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and Criminal Case
(OMB-C-C-05-0049-B) for Plunder, both with CPL No. C-04-2045 includes
Governor Milagros T. Tan, former Vice-Governor Ernesto Arcales, GSO Aurelio
Bardaje, GSO Record and Inspector Officer Numeriano Legazpi, Administrative
Officer Rolando Montejo, Provincial Treasurer Damiano Conde, Provincial
Accountant Romeo Z. Reales, Provincial Budget Officer Maximo Sison, and
Budget Office Representative Rosie Villacorte.
The entire 2001-2003 elected
provincial board members were also included as respondents of the two cases
filed. They were provincial board members Felix T. Babalcon Jr., Fe Arcales,
Jimmy Dy, Juan C. Latorre Jr., Ma. Lourdes Uy, Bienvenida Repol, Susano D.
Salurio, Ramon P. Dean Jr., Anamie Manatad, Bartolome R. Castillo III,
Bartolome P. Figueroa, Zenaida A. Rosales, and Antonio R. Bolastig III.
The owner/proprietors of the
three identified establishments who supplied the purchased materials in
which according to the complainant, allegedly "conspired and confederated
together with the public officials in defrauding various amounts" were also
included in the charge sheet except for the Plunder case. They were Ludwig
Lao of the M & J Hardware, Alberto Tan of the Tan King Mega Steel and
Reynaldo Yabut of Raechell's Shopper's Plaza, all private suppliers based in
The two separate orders,
copies of which was obtained by this writer, directed the said respondents
to answer the two charges in 10 days upon receipt. "Failure to file
counter-affidavits within the aforesaid period shall be deemed a waiver of
respondents' right to submit controvert evidence and the preliminary
investigation shall proceed accordingly," Director De Jesus Jr. said.
The Ombudsman advised the
respondents to submit the counter-affidavits in three legible copies to the
Central Records Division, Office of the Ombudsman, Agham Road, Diliman,
Quezon City strictly in 10 days without delay.
"No motion to dismiss or
bill of particular (from the respondents) shall be entertained," De Jesus
further said suggesting that, "their full name, salary grade and residential
addresses" should be included in their answer so as to complete the records
of the case.
To recall, several
non-government, people's organizations wrote a letter of complaint dated
October 7, 2004 to the Office of the Ombudsman Hon. Simeon Marcelo seeking
justice for the alleged plunder committed by the governor and her back ups.
In that letter, they cited
COA Audit Report dated August 13, 2004 done in the period from January 1,
2001 to April 2003 accusing the respondents, among others, of overpricing
the purchased assorted goods, to wit: purchase of cement amounting to
P32.30-million; purchase of medicines, assorted goods and rice amounting to
P28.30-million; purchase of shirts and caps amounting to P11.70-million;
purchase of electric fans amounting to P1.6-million, and various financial
assistance worth P8.10-million.
"(Also), the 5% calamity
fund was used even there was NO calamity. The use of the 20% Development
Fund was not supported by the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) for it was
intended, (but), the SP (still), drew purchase requests against this fund,"
Rev. Labendia, who represent the Isog han Samar Movement said.
The group of Labendia
further alleged that this funds "misuse" has resulted in the collapse of the
basic services that the provincial government should deliver to the people
of Samar. "There was no medicine and supplies (in the
the funds for the DSWD and DA has been reverted to the office of the
governor for her to dispose of as she wishes," Labendia said.
To balance the issue, this
writer on Wednesday tried to reach the governor's side at the capitol but
she was not there. Employees interviewed, however, informed that Governor
Tan wasn't holding office at the capitol, or even at the Himyangan, official
residence of the governor. She transact business at her private own house
located at Barangay Mercedes, this town," the source said.
The governor's staff "Cheche"
also refused to answer queries when asked the whereabouts of the governor.
She hinted, however, that she (governor) is not ready yet for press
interview at that moment.
Meanwhile, after the news on
said case spread like wildfire in
Samar, most, if not all, of the respondents' mobile phones were
out of reached. Only BM Susano "Sonny" Salurio dared to come up and answered
press inquiries, through his mobile phone.
"As of this moment (February
21), most of us (BMs) were having caucus now. We are discussing on what is
the best thing to do to answer (the charges filed against us)," Salurio
said. "(But) we will submit our affidavits at least before the 10 days
period expired," he said without admitting or denying the accusations
hurdled against them.
Salurio stressed that they
(respondents) were planning to make two answers - one as a group plus of the
governor herself. "To the best of our knowledge and belief, we will answer
the issue. Were still gathering more evidences and witnesses," he cut the
phone interview. (send your comments to this article)
Bachelor of Laws may soon be equivalent to Masters Degree
By Rowena B. Bundang, PRID/ PNS
(February 24, 2005)
- Here is a consolation for those who fail the bar examinations.
Lanao del Sur Rep. Faysah Dumarpa has proposed to declare the conferment of
a Bachelor of Laws equivalent to a Masters degree to thousands of law
graduates who did not hurdle the bar examinations as a form of compensatory
reward for years of “burning eyebrows” to become agents of law.
The proposal embodied in House Bill 3699 seeks the conferment of Bachelor of
Laws degree by an institution of higher learning duly accredited by the
Commission on Higher Education of the Department of Education and the
Supreme Court as equivalent to a masters degree for purposes of appointment
to positions requiring such educational attainment.
Dumarpa said the bar examinees should be compensated somehow because the
study of laws entails much time and effort, with the most difficult part law
graduates face is how to hurdle the bar examinations.
“It has been said the study of law is an exacting mistress. Every year
thousands of bar candidates coming from different provinces flock to Manila
to try their luck and fulfill their dreams of becoming counselors-at-law.
But only a number of them emerge triumphant six months after the rigorous
and arduous examination,” Dumarpa said.
Dumarpa said thousands would wallow in defeat but most of them remain
optimistic that their time to become lawyers would soon come. “It may be a
cliché, but the saying “try and try until you succeed” still gives them the
hope to re-take the exam.”
While many pass the bar examinations after several attempts, Dumarpa said
the Supreme Court came out with a resolution limiting the taking of bar
examinations for five attempts only.
The Supreme Court resolution seems unfair to man bar flunkers, but they have
to comply with this,” Dumarpa said.