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PNP reaction team nabs four armed men in Leyte on barangay election eve

Father-and-son nabbed for “marijuana” cultivation in Leyte

23 violators arrested in 10 days of gunban in EV

Chiz challenges colleagues to open PDAF use to public scrutiny

Soria orders stepped-up security measures as 76 rookie cops beef-up police stations

PRO8 arrests 8 more drug suspects in Eastern Visayas

Army troops return to Samar

13 former rebels receive livelihood assistance

DILG, Ormoc sign MOA; Business sector supports RSP-Enhanced BPLS

Region 8 nominee wins national search for Idol ng TESDA self-employed category



NHA to double housing assistance for Yolanda victims – VP Binay

By OVP Media
November 27, 2013

MANILA – Vice President Jejomar C. Binay on Tuesday said the National Housing Authority (NHA) will increase from P5,000 to P10,000 the amount of assistance it will give to families whose homes were partially destroyed by super typhoon Yolanda.

“NHA provides construction materials for families whose homes were partially destroyed by the typhoon. We initially provided a maximum of P5,000 worth of materials, but we changed that to P10,000 after we got a clearer picture of the extent of the damage,” the Vice President said.

Binay, who heads the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said they will also study the impact of relocation on the livelihood of those affected by Yolanda who will be moved to safer areas.

“For example, we just can’t relocate farmers or those living in coastal areas because the sources of their livelihood will not follow them,” he said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) has previously announced that the government will be enforcing ‘no-build’ zones along areas 40 meters from coastlines.

Moreover, the housing czar said he wants to study what assistance can be extended to residents or tenants of residential buildings noting that many of such buildings were destroyed in Tacloban City after being battered by the super typhoon.

Binay previously said that members of the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG Fund) with existing housing loans whose homes were damaged by the super typhoon are covered by the agency’s Mortgage Redemption Insurance.

“Pag-IBIG Fund has also allocated P5 billion for calamity loans and an additional P5 billion for housing loans for members living in areas affected by Yolanda. We will increase this amount if there is a need,” Binay said.





Senate amends 2014 budget, eyes P100-B calamity rehab fund

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
November 26, 2013

PASAY CITY – Senator Chiz Escudero is looking at a P100 billion disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction fund for FY 2014 as the Senate moves to its second reading and period of amendments on the proposed 2014 national budget today.

Escudero, senate finance committee chairman said there is a fiscal space to increase the original Palace proposal for calamity fund amounting to P7.5 billion. The Senate version stamped a P13 billion calamity fund.

He initially proposed for the creation of a special fund for disaster rehabilitation increasing the senate approved version to P20 billion.

“Upon further review of the budget we found more flexibility to further increase the proposed P20 billion rehabilitation funds. It now stands to amount to 100 billion. The component of which are: P80 billion from unprogrammed funds, P20 billion from programmed funds,” he explained.

Escudero said there is no telling yet of the amount needed to rehabilitate and reconstruct the areas wiped out not only by typhoon Yolanda but other past disasters as well but initial cost estimates are already staggering.

Latest estimates from the National Disaster Risk Management Council (NDRRMC) pegs Yolanda’s damage alone at P22.6 billion, with infrastructure’s damage at P11.9 billion and agriculture’s at P10.7 billion respectively.

“The cataclysmic force that hit our country requires serious response to influence significant rehabilitation and reconstruction of the communities barreled by catastrophes. We need to infuse major financial foundation to recoup and retain the physical, economic and social viability of these communities,” the senator said.

As this developed, Escudero said the finance committee will begin hearing on Thursday proposed measures on supplemental budget to augment the 2013 disaster relief fund.

This year’s calamity fund amounts to P7.5 billion and Escudero and fellow senators said this is already almost depleted to obligate rescue, relief, and rehabilitation and reconstruction requirements of communities struck and displaced by disasters.

“We are on track; we will pass the budget on time. It is critical that we must because this budget fuels not only the entire government machinery but also our capability and capacity as a nation,” the senator explained.





Senate finance committee introduces reforms to 2014 budget

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
November 19, 2013

PASAY CITY – Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, presented for plenary debates the P2.267 trillion spending plan of the national government for 2014 which includes key reforms to ensure proper use of funds, transparency and integrity of the budget process.

According to Escudero, the proposed budget is the “most detailed” in the country’s history to date, itemizing almost all items earmarked for personal services, maintenance and other operating expenses down to capital outlays.

This means that the special allotment release order or SARO, a long-standing system that authorizes a government agency to incur obligation not exceeding the amount set aside for a specific period, is removed from the proposed appropriation for next year.

“One other innovative key reform instituted is the movement towards a budget-as-release-document in 2014. Simply put, the Department of Budget and Management declares that ‘the budgets of agencies – except those to be contained in a negative list – are considered released to them as soon as the national budget takes effect,” Escudero explained.

Another key feature of the budget proposal is the elimination of the pork barrel allocation of 15 senators amounting to P3.2 billion, which will be rechanneled to four key government agencies. The spending package also slashes the P200-million allocation of the Office of the Vice President.

Next year’s budget, which is 13.07 percent higher than the 2013 appropriations, will be sourced from the P2.018 trillion projected revenues broken down as follows: 15.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), 2014 tax revenues effort of 14.1 percent amounting to P1.879 trillion, and P136.13 billion from non-tax revenues.

“The biggest slice of next year’s budget pie will be consumed by social services at 37 percent or P842.81 billion, followed by economic services at 26 percent or a total of P590.22 billion,” Escudero said.

Other sectors will share the proposed budget as follows: defense, 4.09 percent (P92.85 billion); general public services, 16.07 percent (P364.52 billion); net lending, 1.10 percent (P24.95 billion); and debt service interest payments, 15.55 percent (P352.65 billion).

In the budget bill of the House of Representatives, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the senators was equally appropriated to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Also included in the Senate version is the creation of a new special purpose fund amounting to P20 billion to be used for the rehabilitation, repair and reconstruction works and activities in areas affected by typhoons Yolanda, Santi, Labuyo and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

Escudero appealed to his colleagues to support the 2014 budget, saying the spending plan will enable the government deal with the financial requirements for rebuilding and rehabilitating areas severely affected by both natural and man-made disasters.

“The enactment of a national budget is a must in this inauspicious time to carry the nation and the people into the road to recovery and once again recapture the promises of this vibrant nation,” Escudero said.





Humanitarian aid effort gears up on Samar Island

November 14, 2013

MANILA – As staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) move into position to join a major relief effort, a clearer picture is emerging of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and the resulting needs on Samar Island, where the typhoon made first landfall in the Philippines. The organization is focusing its initial relief efforts on the island, also affected by a protracted armed conflict, where it has been working for many years.

After entering Samar at Allen, a team travelled along the west coast to Catbalogan and on to Guiuan, near the southernmost point, before reaching Borongan, on the east coast, on 13 November.

"The island's west coast has been spared major destruction," said Gegham Petrosyan, the ICRC's health coordinator in the Philippines. "However, along the south coast, from Santa Rita all the way down to Guiuan, the devastation is massive. Health-care facilities in all the municipalities, including the public hospital in Guiuan, have suffered damage. Health posts have been set up by medical personnel to care for the incoming patients with what little means they have."

Renewed heavy rain showers and deteriorating security (armed gunmen and looting have been reported) are making matters worse for an already exhausted population without shelter, food or potable water.

"People are desperate for life-saving aid," said Mr. Petrosyan. "However, logistical and security constraints continue to hamper the distribution of desperately needed relief."

The ICRC is working around the clock to bring relief to the population as rapidly as possible, closely coordinating its relief efforts with the Philippine Red Cross and other partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The ICRC has launched an appeal for 15 million Swiss francs (more than 16 million US dollars) to bring aid to 36,000 households for three months.





Chiz asks COA to audit ‘Yolanda’ donations

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
November 14, 2013

PASAY CITY – All donations to the government are deemed public funds and must be properly accounted for and audited to ease worries of possible misuse, according to Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Escudero wrote to Commission on Audit Chairman Grace Pulido Tan, seeking a full report on the donations here and abroad extended to the government to ensure proper compliance with existing rules and regulations ahead of the plenary debates on the 2014 spending plan next week.

“Such audit and the respective agency’s compliance with rules and regulations will help all of us in quelling any anxiety the public may have on the possibility of these aid falling into the wrong hands or not reaching or benefiting the calamity victims,” Escudero said.

At the same time, Escudero asked Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to provide the finance committee with the guidelines and procedures on the acceptance and utilization of donations from donor countries and international organizations for victims of natural disasters.

“We’d like to retrace our steps on how donee agencies comply with the reportorial requirements on acceptance and utilization of donations. GAA mandates that they do. Fund drives are also governed by presidential decrees and administrative orders. These must be adhered to,” he said.

Escudero added: “Proper accounting and utilization of donations is the best that a country like ours battered by natural disasters can do to match the goodwill of individuals, organizations and foreign countries who come to our aid in trying times.”

The senator noted that the deluge of aid pouring into the country for victims of super typhoon “Yolanda” that has displaced millions of people and killed more than 3,000 others in most parts of the Visayas and similar assistance coming in for victims of other calamities, should be properly utilized, disbursed and accounted for.

“All donations shall be used only for the purpose specified by the donor.

Anyone who gambles or takes advantage of money and aid intended to help save lives is a betrayal and must be considered a heinous crime. Every single centavo will decide whether a person may survive or die,” Escudero stressed.





Most wanted man, about to vote, is arrested for rape

By RPCRD, Police Regional Office 8
October 29, 2013

CAMP KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte – Joel Abalon risked being caught by police authorities to exercise his rights of suffrage and surfaced in his village after a year in hiding.

But unfortunately for him, the police had been tipped-off on his presence and arrested him just when he was about to go to the polling center to cast his vote for Monday’s barangay elections.

According to Police Chief Supt. Elmer R. Soria, the 28-year old self-employed suspect tried but failed to resist arrest after being collared by a police team at around 9:20 a.m. Monday in his parent’s house at Brgy. Zone 3, San Roque town in Northern Samar,

Abalon is facing rape charges in criminal case number 5444 and has a pending arrest warrant issued by Judge Alma Esidera of Regional Trial Court branch 20 in Catarman, Northern Samar.

The presiding judge did not recommend any bail amount for the suspect’s temporary liberty, the director of Police Regional Office 8 (PRO8) added.

“Abalon thought the police were too busy for the village polls and will not notice his presence. Despite being occupied with election duties, our men still performed their normal police functions,” the police official said.

Soria added that the suspect is ranked number one in the most wanted person list of San Roque town.

Meanwhile, the number two most wanted person of Daram town in Samar was nabbed by police authorities on Sunday afternoon.

Marcus Baleña, Jr., 55, was nabbed by a police team led by PCInsp. Jonathan Momo in his hide-out in Brgy Burgos at around 2:30 p.m.

Suspect is facing two separate charges for frustrated homicide and qualified theft and was arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant issued by Judge Agerico Avila of RTC branch 29 in Catbalogan City.

No bail was recommended by Avila for both cases, docketed under case numbers 8315 and 8316, Soria informed.

The accounting of wanted persons was one of the steps undertaken by PRO8 to ensure the peaceful conduct of the barangay elections, Soria disclosed.





18 liquor ban violators in EV face 6 years in prison

By RPCRD, Police Regional Office 8
October 29, 2013

CAMP KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte – The 18 persons arrested by the police for violating the liquor ban in connection with the recently concluded barangay elections Monday faces up to six years imprisonment.

Eastern Visayas top cop Police Chief Supt. Elmer R. Soria said that as of 12:00 midnight Monday, there were 20 people, including two minors, arrested for violating the liquor ban that was implemented on October 27 until October 28 as per Commission on Elections Resolution number 9715.

“The ban on alcoholic beverages helped quell tensions among candidates and their supporters and prevented occurrence of untoward incidents that could have disrupted the electoral proceedings,” said Soria.

Soria informed that the arrested violators would face a penalty ranging from one year up to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote, and disqualification from public office.

At around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, six persons - Randy Jun Catalogo, 21; Jimar Rago, 19; Jeffrey De Paz, 21; Matthew Macasil, 21; John Robert Ontimare, 20; and Neil Sylas Babiano, 23 - all residents of Brgy. 57, White Lane, Sampaguita District in Tacloban city were rounded up by the police while drinking liquor at the village basketball court.

Fifty-year old Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) employee Carlito Pernitez was arrested Sunday evening when he appeared before the Mahaplag police station in Leyte and was noticed by duty police officers to be under the influence of liquor.

Five seamen, identified as Mark Saldo, 26; Danny Muksin, 39; Renante Legaspi, 28; Godofredo Villareal, 33 and Joseph Oliver Nagales, 33; were arrested by the Reactionary Stand-by Support Force (RSSF) under PSupt. Edilberto Aban while drinking at the vicinity fronting Gran Hotel in Port Area, Tacloban City at around 9:00 p.m. on election day.

At around 9:20 p.m., same RSSF team arrested Baby Misscion, 31; Dennis Duquillo, 33 and Andot Dansha, 22; with two minors while drinking liquor along the roadside in Maharlika highway, Brgy. 91, Abucay also in Tacloban City.

Same police team also arrested Gregorio Esposo, 53; Jeffrey Garrido, 28 and Jovito Casiong, 46; while drinking liquor along side the Maharlika highway in Brgy. 99 also in Tacloban City.

The arrested liquor ban violators were detained at police stations lock-up cells except for the two minors who were turned-over to the Tacloban City social welfare office.





2 NPA members surrender to 34IB

October 28, 2013

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City, Samar – Two (2) members of the New People’s Army surrendered to military authorities in Northern Samar on Sunday, October 27, 2013.

Ruel C. Sirse, alias Bulay and Melly C. Esponilla, alias Mica, NPA squad member and NPA Medic, respectively, voluntarily surrendered to soldiers of the 34th Infantry Battalion under Lt Colonel Rodrigo Ilustrisimo. The government troops were conducting peace and development activities in Barangay Rizal, Gamay, Northern Samar when they were approached by the surrenderees. The duo brought along with them one (1) .45 Caliber pistol with three (3) magazines and 20 live bullets.

Under the AFP Guns For Peace Program, they will receive P25,000.00 in exchange for the firearm they surrendered. Each of them is also entitled to receive P50,000.00 livelihood assistance and P15,000.00 immediate assistance from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Peace Process (OPAPP) under its Comprehensive Local Social Integration Program (CLIP). They can further avail of Local Social Integration Program of the Local Government Unit in Northern Samar.

During the interview alias Bulay and alias Mica admitted that they are live-in partners and they decided to surrender because they wish to raise a family away from harm and violence. “Upon learning of the new program of the AFP which is the Gun for Peace Program, they were encouraged to surrender and avail of the program.”

Brigadier General Jet B. Velarmino AFP, Commander of 8th Infantry Division said: “We welcome the surrender of the two (2) NPA members and we wish them well. The 8ID fully supports and advocates the government’s Peace Program. Rest assured that your Army in Eastern Visayas is always ready and willing to assist NPA rebels who wish to return to the mainstream.”





Gun ban violators in EV rise to 52

By RPCRD, Police Regional Office 8
October 28, 2013

CAMP KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte – A candidate for barangay chairman was the latest addition to the list of gun ban violators arrested by police units in Eastern Visayas since its implementation last September 28, bringing to 52 the number of arrested persons across the region up to the October 28 barangay election day, the director of Police Regional Office 8 (PRO8) announced Monday.

According to Police Chief Supt. Elmer R. Soria, all the arrested violators were civilians, noting that during the firearms ban implemented in relation to the May midterm polls, three of the 177 violators are military men, six are security guards and one employee of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“The firearms and other deadly weapons confiscated by our men could have been used to disrupt the peaceful holding of the barangay elections,” Soria said.

The police official informed that at around 9:40 a.m. on Saturday, one Roberto Habilles, 33, a candidate for barangay chairman of Brgy. Dinagan, Oquendo Dist., in Calbayog City was arrested in a Comelec checkpoint in Brgy. Malaga by joint elements of Calbayog City Police Station and 2nd Regional Public Safety Maneuver Company led by PInsp. Neil Fernando Cerdeña.

Confiscated from the suspect’s possession were one unit .45 caliber pistol loaded with 14 ammunitions and two empty magazines for .45 caliber. He was brought to Calbayog CPS as appropriate charges are being prepared against him.

The police official disclosed that the PRO8 had seized 23 firearms wherein 12 are revolvers, four pistols, four improvised guns or “sumpak”, two shotguns and one rifle.

Lawmen also confiscated 33 bladed weapons, one grenade and 103 ammunitions.

Thirty four violators were arrested during police responses to call for assistance; four were arrested at checkpoints and two wanted men nabbed by the police were also carrying firearms at the time of their arrest.

Twelve violators were arrested during focused police operations initiated by line units.

The ban, that carries a penalty of not less than one year but not more than six years imprisonment which shall not be subject to probation, is being implemented by the police during the election period from September 28 to Nov 12, which is 30 days before and 15 days after the barangay elections.



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