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UN Rapporteur on arbitrary executions visits the Philippines

10 vie for UEP-Northern Samar presidency

Eastern Visayas holds 1st Mariculture Park Congress

Squabbling Basey officials delay infrastructure projects

Gunmen killed noted anti-communist leader in Catbalogan

Murder raps filed versus the Lofrancos over Janine’s death

Gov. Daza distributes relief goods to Northern Samar flood victims

Northern Samar flood waters subsided, evacuees back home, need food – Gov. Daza

LNU student qualifies for Global Xchange Program

UNICEF equips PNP with investigation skills on crimes involving women and children

Catbalogan officials receive hero’s welcome following approval of town’s cityhood bid

February 17, 2007

Catbalogan Cityhood team chaired by Mayor Tekwa Uy (center) was welcomed by excited Catbaloganons during a motorcade Thursday afternoon (February 15) who bring home the good news for the final conversion of Catbalogan into a component city.

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  Officials of Samar’s capital enjoyed a hero’s welcome on Thursday after coming home with the document approved by Congress that will led to the granting of the town a city status should the town residents approve it in a referendum.

The town was in a festive mood Thursday afternoon as Catbaloganons came out of their homes to watch the motorcade welcoming Mayor Coefredo Uy, together with Vice Mayor Van Torrevillas and Councilor Art Gabon who just came from Manila to secure the approved House Bill 5998 seeking the conversion of Catbalogan to a component city and exempting the same from Republic Act 9009.

Republic Act 9009 barred Catbalogan and two other cities in the Eastern Visayas namely; Borongan in Eastern Samar and Baybay in Leyte from being granted city status as it sets higher income requirement for towns who will file application for cityhood from the previous P20 million to P100 million.

But with the help of some congressmen in the region, the three Eastern Visayan towns, together with 9 other towns in the country, were granted exemption from the said law since they filed their applications before it was being approved.

To recall, the town’s cityhood bid was first revived during the incumbency of the then town Mayor Jesus B. Redaja in late 1990s through House Bill 6346 filed by the then Congressman Eduardo B. Nachura but the deliberation for the approval of the bill was overtaken by the impeachment fever that eventually toppled President Joseph Estrada from power in 2001.

It was refiled in the 13th Congress, however, through House Bill 2088 sponsored by Congressman Catalino Figueroa seeking for exemption from RA 9009. It enjoyed the support of Eastern Samar lone District Congressman Marcelino Libanan and Leyte 5th District Congresswoman Carmen Cari.

In a speech before the welcoming crowd at the town plaza yesterday, Mayor Uy acknowledged the support of these officials along with Senators Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., Franklin Drilon and Alfredo Lim who, he said, were instrumental in the approval of HB 5998.

He likewise thanked Torrevillas and Gabon who have been lobbying hard for the approval of the town’s cityhood application even during the filing of the first bill in the 11th Congress.

The mayor then urged the people to support it in a referendum but he expressed uncertainty if it can be included in this May’s elections for lack of material time.

Vice Mayor Torrevillas, meanwhile, recalled that the task assigned to them was very hard but it paid off when the bill was approved by Senate in the 3rd and final reading last February 5.





Some 163 TB patients treated in Northern Samar

February 17, 2007

CATARMAN, Northern Samar  –  Of the 696 patients examined during the third quarter of 2006, there were 163 who were found to be positive on sputum examination or Acid Fast Bacilli (AFB) examination have been treated from the disease.  This was learned from TB coordinator Cesareth P. Hernandez of the Provincial Health Office.

This program is in line with the President Arroyo Administration to provide the citizenry with the basic services particularly efficient and fast access to medical services.

For the first quarter, out of 285 patients examined 72 were AFB smear positive and 71 were x-ray positive. A total of 143 patients have “enrolled” for treatment during the first quarter of 2006 while for the second quarter, of the 510 patients examined, 98 were found positive with AFB smear examination and 68 were x-ray positive.  A total of 166 patients enrolled in the TB program for the said quarter.  Patients enrolled in the TB treatment program are provided with free medicines from the government.

Tuberculosis according to Hernandez, is a chronic or acute infectious disease caused by Bacillus Mycobacterium, which may affect any tissue of the body but is usually found in the lungs.  The name “tuberculosis” is derived from the formation by the body of characteristic cellular structures called tubercles, in which the bacilli are trapped and walled off.

The disease is transmitted through sputum, mainly in airborne droplets, or by dust particles of dried sputum. They are rarely spread by excreta or food products. Unlike other infectious diseases, tuberculosis has no specific incubation period. A single attack does not confer lasting immunity; rather the bacilli may remain latent in the body for a long period, until a weakening of the body’s resistance affords them the opportunity to multiply and produce symptoms of the disease.

This disease remains a major public health problem in the Philippines. In 1996, TB ranked fifth in the 10 leading causes of death and fifth in the 10 leading causes of illness. Our country ranks second to Cambodia in terms of new smear positive. TB notification rate is 99.7 per 100,000 population, among the major countries in the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region in 1999.

In Northern Samar TB ranks fourth in mortality and ranks fifth in morbidity.





Army foiled NPA ambush attempt

February 14, 2007

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar  –  A text message from a concerned resident of Brgy. Pahug prevented a would be atrocities of the communist terrorists group CPP-NPA-NDF and resulted to a combat encounter between the Army and the terrorist group along Maharlika Highway in Brgy. Pahug, Pinabacdao, Samar at about 7:30 a.m. of February 12, 2007.

Acting on the information that unscrupulous armed men were sighted along Maharlika Highway, Army troopers from Madalunot Detachment of 52IB led by Sgt. Edgardo L Tizon proceeded to the area to confirm the report. While traversing the hilly side of the highway in the vicinity of Brgy. Pahug, Pinabacdao, Samar, they were fired upon by a group of more or less 20 NPA terrorists from an adjacent hill. Immediately, the Army troopers maneuvered to a higher ground and established a base of fire and hit the terrorists hard while calling for reinforcements. After ten (10) minutes of intense firefight, the NPA terrorists withdrew towards Northeast direction leaving behind One (1) M-1 Garand rifles with ammunitions and other personal belongings. Reinforcements from 62IB arrived and conducted hot pursuit operations trailing the bloodstains along the withdrawal route of the enemy.

After clearing the area, the government troopers recovered two (2) Improvised Anti-Personnel Land Mines emplaced by the NPA terrorists in the area. It was believed that the communist terrorists have planned to ambush Army troopers passing through the Maharlika Highway. Two (2) CAFGU personnel have been slightly wounded and were immediately evacuated to Camp Lukban Station Hospital for medical treatment.

The use of landmines has long been prohibited under the existing provisions of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

MajGen. Armando L. Cunanan AFP, the Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army commended the involved troopers from 52IB for acting swiftly on the information provided by the civilian populace. He stressed the importance of establishing harmonious relationship with the civilian populace in our ultimate objective of “Winning the hearts and minds of the Filipino people” which is an integral part in our campaign on eradicating the menace of our society, the CPP-NPA-NDF terrorist group, and achieved a lasting peace conducive to development in the Eastern Visayas region.





UP Tacloban studes negative over tuition fee hike

February 14, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Students and teachers of the University of the Philippines (UP) in the Visayas, Tacloban College, are distressed over the 300 percent tuition fee increase come school year 2007-2008.

In an interview with some of the students, they desperately revealed their apprehensions over the tuition fee hike as this may result to a slow turn-over of enrollees, considering that most of them come from families of middle to low income earners.

"We fear only a few will decide to enroll in this prestigious school even if they are entrance passers, as the tuition would be beyond their parents’ resource capacity." "Moreover, the increase would even result to students’ protest considering that it is a state university, yet the tuition would just be as high as a private one", they said.

The students also claimed that the tuition increase was decided by the UP board sometime in December last year, without consulting the students, and with this, an appeal has been filed with the UP Board of Regents (BOR) but in vain did it go.

Along this development, it was learned that Gabriela Party List Representative Liza Maza has urged the House of Representative to investigate this 300 percent increase, and even wanted that the implementation be suspended until after the hearing to be conducted by the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education shall be completed.

According to Maza, the board’s decision lacks transparency as the academic community never had the chance to discuss the significance of the committee reports on which the BOR based their decision.

Maza also fears the increase in the country’s premier state university would set a precedent for other state colleges and universities to do the same.





Southern Leyte is least poor in region 8, but poverty incidence worsening

By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
February 12, 2007

MAASIN CITY, Leyte  –  There is both good news and bad news on the poverty situation in Southern Leyte province.

First the good news. The province has been rated the least poor in all the provinces in Region 8 that it was no longer listed as a priority in poverty mapping.

Now the bad news. The number of poor families has risen -- worsening was the term used -- in a span of three years, from the year 2000 to 2003.

This much information complete with details in figures was shared by Evangeline Paran, the Regional Administrator of the National Statistics Coordinating Board, an attached agency under the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

Discussing on the topic "Poverty profile of Southern Leyte" during the Provincial Development Council (PDC) meeting at the RK Kangleon Function House, this city, February 7, Paran said the poverty data based on household income and expenditures were gathered every three years, the latest of which reflected the conditions for the year 2000, and another in 2003.

In Region 8 as a whole, 35 out of every 100 families were poor, and this made the region the 7th poorest out of 17 regions in the country for the year 2000 and 2003 rankings.

Out of six provinces in the region, Southern Leyte has 31.9 out of 100 families labeled as poor for the year 2003, up from 26.3 out of 100 families in 2000, NSCB Regional Administrator Paran disclosed.

The trend showed a "worsening of poverty situation," Paran said.

The 2003 data of poor families, rounded at 32 out of 100 families, were reclassified further as subsistence poor wanting on food requirements, in which there were 11 out of 100 families, and non-food poor that are lacking in education and housing, 22 out of 100 families.

PIA was unable to get hold of a copy of the papers presented so no more details can be presented as this report was written.

Asked what caused the poverty increase, Paran was not able to provide an answer, tossing the question instead to the PDC audience.

But Provincial Board Member Eva Tomol, who presided the PDC meeting, offered some insights into the cause, citing the lingering abaca bunchy top disease, the Panaon disaster, the continuous rains that damaged rice plants, and the population growth which has not reduced.





More PPA funds coming, Rep. Mercado reveals

By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
February 12, 2007

MAASIN CITY, Leyte  –  Funds intended for development of existing and new shipping ports in various locations of Southern Leyte province are due to be released by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), according to Cong. Roger Mercado, the province’s lone district representative.

Among these are the P70 Million for the expansion of Liloan port, P13 Million for Limasawa island port, P12 Million for a roll-on, roll-off (RORO) port facility in Padre Burgos, and an all new RORO port in barangay Benit, San Ricardo with an appropriation of P200 Million, in which an initial release of P70 Million is forthcoming.

The four PPA-funded projects mentioned have a total outlay of P295 Million.

All these good tidings for improvement and construction of port facilities in different key points of the province were disclosed by Cong. Mercado during a news conference with members of the associated media of Southern Leyte (AMSL) in his district office at barangay Abgao, this city February 11.

These projects also constituted the "super-regions" investment priorities in this part of the country as outlined by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her State-of-the-Nation (SONA) address in late July last year.

Regarding the finished Maasin city port, on insinuations the new pier has become a white elephant since too few ships docked despite its modern facility, Cong. Mercado still strongly "believed that in the future the new port can be used" with the expected influx of investors, tourists, and other visitors to the city and the province.

Aside from that, the solon saw wisdom with its construction at the moment, saying that five or ten years from now, the construction costs would have been much higher compared with last year or this year, which in effect redound to a wise investment.

On suggestions the city’s port be declared an open or free port through legislation, Cong. Mercado said the initial step towards that direction was already done when he proposed a bill making the city an economic zone or an export processing zone.

"But such moves take time," Cong. Mercado admitted, obviously to stress the fact that developments like these may happen on a gradual manner.





Gov. Petilla welcomes Baybay town’s cityhood

By Provincial Media Relations Center (PMRC Leyte Province)
February 11, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla welcomes the news on the cityhood of Baybay town in Leyte’s fifth district seeing it as a big economic boost to the province.

The governor sees this that with an increased income by being declared a city, it can stand for itself in serving for the needs of its constituents.

In his weekly radio program Hingyap han Leyteńo, Gov. Petilla said that he is happy over the news as this would mean that other barangays under the province can be benefited.

“Nalilipay ako kay mamemenos-menusan paghatag ngadto hiton ira mga barangay ngan lugod mahahatag naton iton pondo ha iba pa nga mas nanginginahanglan nga mga barangay,” Gov. Petilla said over his weekly radio program Hingyap han Leyteńo.

Comparatively speaking, the governor said the province has only a budget of 900 million to be distributed among more than 1,000 barangays to that of a city such as Tacloban that has a budget of P500 million but serving only 138 barangays.

“So, you would see the big difference. If Baybay would eventually become a city, their income would increase and this would go only to the barangays they serve,” Gov. Petilla added.

According to the governor, under the province, Baybay would provide as a center of growth on the other half of the province.

Not discounting though, he said, Ormoc City located west of the province, but Ormoc is a chartered city and therefore apart of the provincial wing.

It can be recalled that the Senate early this week approved on third and final reading the conversion of municipalities into cities that includes Baybay in Leyte, Catbalogan in Samar and Borongan in Eastern Samar.

Baybay, located in the province’s fifth district is Leyte’s biggest municipality in terms of land area, population and annual income.

The towns of Catbalogan, Borongan and Baybay will bring to seven the total number of cities in the region.



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