Your latest news happening from here at home and abroad

news 47


more news...

Eastern Samar BAYAN MUNA youth leader gunned down

Mayor Bejo opens Tacloban City Hall to the media

NPA ambush military personnel on CIVAC

Gov. Tan argues she don’t deserve suspension on her plunder case

Armed men raid Albuera police station

Borongan LGU steps up solid waste management

Region 8 remembers Doña Paz tragedy

SP endorses small-scale mining operations in Samar island-town

AHRC urges for an impartial investigation on the killing of 8 farmers in Leyte

Paranas residents rally against communism


Sarmiento denies blocking the cityhood bid of Catbalogan

February 21, 2006

CALBAYOG CITY, Samar  – The Secretary General of the League of Cities of the Philippines Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento of this city strongly denied any involvement to the alleged “lack of interest” of the upper House in the cityhood bid of this province’s provincial capital.

Mayor Mel Sarmiento

“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 population.

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 mayor explained.

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,” Sarmiento appealed.

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

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 20, 2006

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo personally supervised the airlifting of some 30,000 lbs. of assorted medical supplies, relief goods and disaster response equipment to the mudslide stricken areas of St. Bernard, Southern Leyte. (Reny Pampolina/ PCPO/ PNS)

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 Friday.

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 equipments.

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.

PA Domingo tragedy spokesperson

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 outlets.

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 Coordinating Council.

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 exchanges death

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 fleeing NPA.

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 Hampangan.

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

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

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 Cebu City 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; 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 and livestock.

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 area.

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.



◄◄home I next►►