“I cannot do that. In fact,
I am for the cityhood of Catbalogan,” thus explained the Chief Executive of
Calbayog City in reaction to the wide speculation that he is blocking the
bid of Catbalogan town.
In an interview over the
weekend, Mayor Sarmiento informed that he should not be blame for this
speculation but instead suggests that the local officials facilitating the
proposition should think of a “formula” that will convince the Bicameral
Committee composed of legislators coming from both upper and lower Houses.
“They should better find
ways to convince the legislators and make moves to pass the requirements
required by law,” Mayor Sarmiento stressed.
Moreover, the mayor also
dismissed reports that the League is jamming or making any actions that
would somehow defer the application for the conversion of twenty-three (23)
municipalities, including Catbalogan, into a full-pledge city.
The League argues that they
don’t block any applicant for cityhood provided they satisfy the requirement
set forth in the new law which requires a local revenue income of at least
P100 Million for the last 2 consecutive years plus the required land area or
It can be recalled that the
re-application of Catbalogan town was again revived when, through the
efforts of Congressman Catalino “Cata” Figueroa (2nd district) and
Catbalogan Mayor Coefredo “Tekwa” Uy, the town was included to those 23
towns that passed the Pimentel Law of the 11th Congress.
Accordingly, the said
resolutions converting these towns into cities were already submitted for
approval at the Senate before a bicameral committee could be formed.
However, a source said the League of Cities, through its president Edward
Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa has reportedly influenced the upper House to
freeze up the said resolution.
If this is indeed true,
Sarmiento said, is maybe due to the fact that for each town if converted
into a city would surely minus at least P3 million of the Internal Revenue
Allotment (IRA) in every existing city.
"If this situation will
happen, that these 23 towns were converted into a city, the existing cities
prior to the conversion of these twenty-three towns will result to the slice
of at least P69 million each of their City League revenue allotment,” the
Some cities like Iloilo have
complained that a P69 Million reduction in their annual IRA share will cause
them to be paralyzed, thus cannot provide the basic services to their
constituents. Other cities like Cebu have huge external borrowings because
of their infrastructure improvement programs and they mostly rely on their
IRA for debt payments. Only 5% among existing cities does not depend on
their IRAs for their operation.
“I can convince them on
certain matters, but losing P69 Million, the city mayors voiced their
opposition to the application of the 23 municipalities seeking for cityhood”,
Sarmiento sadly said.
He further explained that if
only the application of Catbalogan or even two more towns will pass, this
perhaps not affect the League as small budget will be only be cut. “(Of
this), leaders in Catbalogan should help me find ways to trim down these
towns so that it is easy for me to convince the city mayors of the League,”
It was learned that the
original 23 towns who applied for the conversion, the number was trimmed
down into only nine due to the special privilege under the Pimentel Law that
prioritize those municipalities that has capitol in every province. If these
nine towns will be granted with conversion, at least P27 million will be cut
in the annual IRA of every City League member, it was learned.
Meanwhile, Rep. Figueroa
said Catbalogan has already passed the requirements – land area, population
and income – as required by law to become a component city. It has 57
far-flung and island major villages. If this will pass, this province will
have two cities.
International Rescue Teams
arrive at Southern Leyte
Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 20, 2006
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – International rescue teams arrived in Southern Leyte on Sunday to help
retrieve bodies and possible survivors to the massive mudslides that hit Brgy. Guinsaugon,
St. Bernard town in Southern Leyte on Friday which is feared to have killed
nearly 2,000 people. This was learned from Ms. Erna Sy Gorne, PIA Southern
Leyte Manager who has been at the rescue center at Brgy. Tambis, St. Bernard
for the third consecutive day since the tragedy struck in the morning of
The United States rescue
team composed of the participants in the Balikatan exercise assessed the
situation and determined the equipments needed to expedite the rescue and
retrieval of the victims. The team will set up a medical center and a bridge
right at the rescue site at Barangay Tambis. Two canines from the US Marines
are now helping in identifying the location of the victims.
The 60-man Malaysian rescue
team composed of nurses, doctors and engineers, brought in relief goods and
The Taiwanese rescue team
brought with them four truckloads of rescue, movement and heat sensory
equipments that will detect the presence of life under the rubble. The team
leader said that the rescue team is expert in landslide rescue operations as
there are also frequent landslides in Taiwan.
The Korean Embassy sent in
representatives to assess the needs of the area. After their meeting with
Governor Lerias, they decided that water, food, clothing, blankets and
shovels are the most urgent needs.
The British Consul came to
take pictures of the British national whose body is one of those recovered.
He said that the pictures will be sent to his family for proper
identification. His body was not among the 31 unidentified bodies who were
buried in the mass grave this afternoon. So far, 72 dead bodies have been
retrieved, 410 are survivors and 1,371 are still missing.
Some foreign NGOs also
visited Southern Leyte to assess the needs of the victims. One of them is
Plan Philippines which donated P50,000.00 worth of medicines.
Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia
sent in two power generators and four truckloads of relief goods. The four
trucks will be used in the rescue operations.
Moreover, the Provincial
Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) through Gov. Rosette Lerias’ Executive
Assistant Eric Macabuhay said that victims of mudslides that hit Barangay
Guinsaugon need additional
assistance such as water, food, blankets, clothes, medicines and other items
that can be used for a continuing period of recovery.
Gov. Lerias acknowledged the
donations received intended for the victims of the calamity such as An Waray
Partylist Representative Florencio Noel who gave Php100,000 from his
Priority Development Assistance Fund through the Department of Social
Welfare and Development (DSWD), Php50,000.00 worth of medicines and another
Php100,000.00 cash as his personal donation. Department of Education (DepEd)
also gave Php50,000.00 cash through Secretary Fe Hidalgo.
Meanwhile, to ensure a
cohesive handling of information, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has
designated Presidential Assistant for Eastern Visayas Victor Domingo as the
special spokesperson on the
Southern Leyte tragedy.
This was revealed by
Information Secretary Renato Velasco in a communication sent to Philippine
Information Agency 8. This he said, is in line with the President's desire
to have effective rescue management and coordination with stakeholders,
including the local and national media.
As the spokesperson for the
Southern Leyte tragedy, Secretary Velasco said that the mobile phone number
of Secretary Victor Domingo has been furnished all the national media
Secretary Domingo was
instructed to give hourly update regarding the
Southern Leyte tragedy rescue and relief mission. He is also expected
to closely coordinate with Mr. Tony Golez of the National Disaster
Regional heads meet
In related development, the
heads of the various national government agencies in Region 8 will meet
today, February 20, 2006 to agree on what common support they can give to
the victims of the Southern Leyte tragedy.
This was learned from LTO
Regional Director Raul Aguilos who is the president of the Region Eight
Administrators League (REAL).
Some regional heads of
national government agencies have been in constant contact since the
occurrence of the Southern Leyte tragedy on Friday. Inter-agency
coordinations have been made to negotiate transportation facilities for
equipments needed in St. Bernard, in communicating the requirements and the
situations at the tragedy area and in making the roads passable so that the
relief goods and equipments will be transported to St. Bernard.
More than the usual mandate
that each of the national government agencies must implement, Director
Aguilos said that as an association, the regional administrators should
decide what else it can do for the victims of the massive landslide.
Philippine Army and NPA
By Cpt. EDMUNDO P. ABELLA, (INF) PA
February 16, 2006
HILONGOS, Leyte – Elements
of 43rd Infantry Battalion encountered Communist Terrorist NPA operating in
the hinter barangays of Hilongos, Leyte under Tirso Abegonia alias Eko/Ebe.
The Philippine Army
conducted combat operations in the area after the people reported the
presence of the NPA sowing terror and forcibly asking foodstuffs from the
poor farmers. The clash began on
February 6, 2006 when the platoon of Lt. Maniczic encountered NPA
elements at Sitio Kwaknitan, Utanan, Hilongos,
Leyte slightly wounding one
army personnel prompting the army to conduct hot pursuit operations to the
On February 8 while the
troops of Lt. Gascon conducted pursuit operation engaged the splintered NPA
that resulted to one NPA killed and recovered one M14 rifle. An hour after,
the troops of Lt. Maniczic encountered the NPA main group at sitio Hinagpili
that resulted to the untimely death of said officer and slightly wounding
Lt. Ochea during the height of encounter.
Right after the first
encounter on February 6 people near the encounter site started to seek for
safety area to avoid being caught on cross fire from the opposing forces
displaced their homes and temporarily stayed in the barangay hall of
43rd infantry Battalion
attended the needs of the evacuees in coordination with the LGU of Hilongos
by conducting MEDCAP on February 7 and distributed fifteen sacks of rice,
assorted can goods, used clothing, free medical check-ups and medicines to
the affected families.
Intensive combat operations
are presently conducted by the 43rd IB troops under LtC. Raul M. Farnacio to
pursue the NPA and restore peace and order in the area.
San Jose de Buan folks: Help
us repair our road
By NINFA B. QUIRANTE, PIA-Samar
February 15, 2006
CATBALOGAN, Samar – Mayor Ananias Rebato of San Jose de Buan expressed frustration that his projects
in this remote town have not materialized.
In a conversation with PIA,
Rebato cited the three-kilometer muddy stretch that was once the access road
to his town. The road stretch has been impassable due to the advance
deterioration caused by heavy rains.
Rebato said that his project
materials are shored up in Hibacaan crossing – the place where four-wheel
drives end their trips, as the road beyond has been proven unmanageable.
He added that he would want
to construct a potable water system for his constituents but transporting of
construction materials posed a big problem.
Driver Poroy Dacula has
confirmed the mayor’s observation, he drives a Forward 6-wheeler truck as a
form of public conveyance. This truck named Jaquilyn is by far the only
survivor in the fleet of motor vehicles that ply Catbalogan-San Jose de Buan
route. One or two buses still do but after a trip they need a major repair.
Besides, they stop in Hibacaan Crossing that people are forced to alight and
walk the rest of the distance. The biggest problem is near the town, the
rest of the 70km stretch is manageable though, he said.
It is a problem with goods,
says Epay Sartiga 23, a businesswoman, "if I don’t ride the truck, I would
pay again for ‘kargador’, this will result to additional mark up for the
goods," she opined.
Mana Wenefreda Daligon, 67
appeals to the local officials to address this big problem. "Madam Governor,
help us fix our road," she implores in the dialect.
PUB conductor Henry Corbo
said that it should be the duty of the Provincial Engineer to fix the road
as it is classified as a provincial road.
One passenger who identified
himself a member of the military told this writer in Tagalog to help the San
Jose de Buan folks by calling the attention of the concerned agency.
Prodded by this enormous
plea, PIA visited the Samar Provincial Engineering Office. As the provincial
engineer Prudencio Quimbo was on official travel to Manila, Ramon Abaygar
staff member of the office said that once Quimbo arrives, they would
immediately dispatch a team to check on the situation.
He further promised that
repair of the road would be done. Abaygar said that their heavy equipment is
ready and the filling materials are readily available in the vicinities of
San Jose de Buan. He said it does not pose any problem.
Rehabilitation work he said
can be done in a few days and in no time at all the four-wheel drive
vehicles can merrily resume their operations.
PUBs have expressed disdain
with the kind of road they traverse daily. One bus driver said he plies the
Catbalogan-Calapi road only and does not insist on going further fearing
major damage to his vehicle.
11 EV journalists to attend
Visayas Media Summit in Iloilo City
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
February 14, 2006
CATBALOGAN, Samar – The Antipolo City-based Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD),
a facility for journalists working with citizens, communities and
institutions for social change, have invited at least eleven top journalists
from this region to compose the selected 50 tri-media members in the Visayas
for a 2-day "governance reforms" seminar next week.
The summit, dubbed as the
First Visayas Media Summit will be held at the President's Conference Room
of the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City this coming February 24 and
25, this year.
CCJD Executive Director Red
Batario said some 50 journalists from different media organizations in the
whole Visayas region are expected to converge in this two-day summit "that
will closely examine media's role in democracy and in governance reforms."
"The summit is (also) one of
the action steps identified in the island Workshop in Media's Role in
Governance held in
on November 2004," Batario recalled.
According to him, "One of
the major outputs of the islandwide workshops and the national conferences,
which was the crafting of a 10-point media reform agenda named the Plaridel
Declaration, will also be presented during the Visayas Media Summit in
Iloilo City for validation and adoption as a common media reform framework."
He added that the results of
said previous workshops were integrated in the National Conference in Media
Governance in December of same year as part of the "continuing efforts to
engage media in governance reforms" through a project of the Media
Stakeholders Group with the CCJD as the lead convenor, and the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The eleven journalists from
Eastern Visayas who will be joining the summit includes Rachel Arnaiz,
editor of the Northern Samar Weekly Express; Antonio Pueblos, station
manager of Radyo ng Bayan-Calbayog; Ray Gaspay, publisher of the Samar
News.com; Rommel Rutor, editor of the Dateline Maqueda Newsweekly; Ricky
Bautista, editor of the Samar Weekly Express; Laiminh Mabulay, editor of the
Samar Monitor; Sentay Quitorio of Eastern Samar Bulletin; Lalaine Jimenea,
editor of the EV Mail; Myra Tambor, anchorwoman of the DYMS-Catbalogan;
Mariz Cano of DYAC-Baybay, Leyte; and Neil Glova of DYVL-Tacloban City.
Reg 8 LGUs jubilant over
PGMA’s order to release P17.5 B IRA
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 14, 2006
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – Thanks to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the local government units are
jubilant nowadays. They will finally get their Internal Revenue Allotment
(IRA) which was withheld during the time of former President Estrada.
Local government executives
from the provinces to the barangays expressed their relief that at last
their respective local government units will be able to receive the
unprogrammed IRA to be used in their priority programs and projects. They
said that at least the current administration acknowledges what is due to
the local government units.
President Arroyo issued on
January 18, 2006, Executive Order Number 494 mandating the release of P17.5
Billion to the local government units representing the share from the
Internal revenue allotment withheld in 2000 and 2001. The order directs the
finance, DBM and local government departments to take the necessary steps to
ensure that the local government units get their respective shares from the
P17.5 Billion unprogrammed IRA.
The same was reinforced by
the circular letter dated February 8, 2006 from DBM Secretary Romulo Neri
informing the local government units of the procedures on the release of the
P17.5 Billion unprogrammed IRA and the IRA Monetization Program.
Secretary Neri said that
after the Department of Finance issues the confirmation letter which
specifies that the P17.5 Billion constitutes an obligation of the Republic
of the Philippines, the Department of Budget and Management shall release
the Notice of Payment Schedule (NPS) to the local government units. The NPS
shall show the share of the local government unit from the P17.5 Billion
unprogrammed IRA, and the amount of the annual payments to be received from
calendar years 2007 to 2013. This means that the local government share will
be received in staggered payments within the period of seven year.
Secretary Neri added that
the NPS will also indicate the option for the local government units to
enroll in the IRA Monetization Program where LGUs can collect their share in
advance, net of interest and charges.
The DBM 8 office when
contacted by PIA 8 revealed through ARD Edmund Talle that so far, the
Department of Budget and Management has not yet received the confirmation
letter from the Department of Finance.
In the meantime, the DBM
Regional office is already preparing the individual Notice of Payment
Schedule of the almost five thousand barangays in the Region. He intimated
that the DBM Central Office is the one preparing the NPS of the different
provinces, cities and municipalities.
It could be recalled that in
2001, the IRA Monetization Program was also opened for the local government
units with six years staggered schedules which ended this year 2006.
Incessant rains bring floods
and landslides to Eastern Visayas
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 13, 2006
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – The
incessant rains in Eastern Visayas has caused flooding and landslides in
Leyte and Southern Leyte, claiming at least seven lives and destroying crops
Southern Leyte Governor
Rosette Lerias reported that at least two barangays, Malangsa and Katig at
Liloan have been isolated due to floods and she is requesting for navy boats
to rescue the stranded flood victims.
PIA 8 contacted the Office
of Civil Defense 8 Director Adriano Fuego to inform him about the request
which he relayed to the
Naval Forces Center
in Cebu so that the Philippine Navy boats can rescue the said victims.
Governor Lerias also
reported landslides at Barangay Himay-angan at the junction of St. Bernard
and Liloan but no casualties were reported as this is far from the populated
At Agas-agas in Sogod town,
seven maintenance workers fell into the ravine when their bunkhouse was hit
by landslide. To this writing, only one body has been recovered. Reports
from PIA Southern Leyte identified the casualties as Roberto Abonita, 42
years old; Vicente Fernandez, 63 years old; Rogelio Sarco, 30 years old;
Fernando Sarco, 40 years old; Nestor Samalca, 30 years old; Anecito Mibulos,
42 years old and Anita Sarco, 35 years old.
Partial report coming from
PIA Southern Leyte stated that 102 families have already been evacuated to
the Mabini Elementary School at Macrohon, Southern Leyte.
At the San Francisco town,
500 families were affected by floods in the five barangays of Gabi, Habay,
Bongawisan, Sta. Paz Sur and Sta. Paz Norte. Three Cebu-based contract
workers working on a water system have been declared missing when they were
hit by flashflood at the vicinity of Barangay Gabi.
Agustin Villaronza, a
fisherman from Brgy. Triana, Limasawa, Southern
Leyte is also reported missing.
Initial reports from the
province of Leyte stated that many areas in the City of Tacloban and in the
municipalities of Palo and Tanauan are already under flood waters. Some
victims have evacuated in the nearby public schools in Tacloban. Damage to
crops and livestock are yet to be determined.