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Eastern Samar eyes on more tourism projects

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

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

DILG turns-over new bridge to Southern Leyte government

February 26, 2007

MAASIN, Southern Leyte  –  Southern Leyte Governor Rosette Y. Lerias , through her daughter Dondeth Lerias, expressed her constituencies' gratitude to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo  for the newly constructed Esperanza Bridge in San Ricardo, Southern Leyte.

The lady governor extended her appreciation during the Blessing and Turnover Ceremony on February 20 held in Barangay Esperanza I attended by local officials, DILG central and regional officials, representatives of other government agencies and local folks.

Director Paisal Abutazil of the DILG Office of Project Development Services (DILG OPDS), together with DILG 8 Regional Director William C. Paler and DILG Southern Leyte Provincial Director Juan Badocdoc, represented Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno during the said momentous occasion.

Lerias then appealed to the people of Esperanza I and other nearby barangays that will benefit from the bridge to help in maintaining and protecting the bridge. She added that the Esperanza Bridge will benefit not only Barangay Esperanza I but also six other barangays. She added that the bridge was constructed to bring about economic growth and development in the countryside.

Director Abutazil, in his keynote speech, congratulated the people of Southern Leyte for having displayed the much-needed unity that led to the successful construction of the bridge. He said that the bridge serves as a symbol of a successful partnership between the national government, local governments, communities and the Austrian Government.

"Building bridges, as the saying goes, is better than building walls," Director Abutazil emphasized, "and let us be bridge-builders rather than wall-builder and bring about unity and progress in our respective localities."

The Esperanza Bridge is the sixth bridge in Southern Leyte that was erected under the President's Bridge Program (PBP) and during the administration of Governor Lerias. Among the six provinces in Region 8, Southern Leyte is the best performing province as far as PBP is concerned.

The President's Bridge Program aims to enhance countryside development through provision of essential transport facilities in order to increase the local populations' access to basic services and economic opportunities for improved quality of life.





3 injured in Catbalogan grenade explosion

February 24, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  Samar PNP is on the look-out for two motorcycle riding-men who hurled a grenade which exploded at William mini-gas Station at the corner of Curry Avenue and del Rosario St., Catbalogan, Samar on February 22, 11:00 PM.

Three people were wounded with shrapnel. Michael Reloquio 31, Aloha Uy 24 were standing on the pavement when the grenade exploded. Another victim, Martin Alejan, who joined Reloquia and Uy, appeared at the Samar Provincial Hospital alleging that he too has been injured by the blast.

SPO3 Siegfredo Obong from the Catbalogan PNP is presently doing the investigation.

It will be recalled that in Samar, particularly the capital town of Catbalogan killings have occurred since the onset of 2007. The latest of which was the murder of San Jose de Buan municipal councilor Vivencio Ellantos.

In a phone interview over a radio program, COMELEC Provincial Supervisor Salvador Cruz admitted that Samar along with eight other provinces have been placed under “area of concern” following incidents of election-related violence.

PNP on its part have fielded additional men particularly in the evenings at the more crowded places like Imelda Park, fronting the Capitol to discourage misguided elements from pursuing terrorist acts.

Still police visibility, it seems have not ward off the intention of some criminals to wreak havoc in this Samar’s capital, said one jogger who seem unmindful of the series of violence that rocked the town of Catbalogan.

Although authorities have yet to mark the line between communist acts and political killings, Samar province now lives in fear and more prayerful for the dastardly acts to stop.





4 die in Ormoc City jail break

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 24, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Four inmates died in an early morning jail break at the Ormoc City Jail Thursday, February 22, Mayor Eric Codilla told PIA, in order to correct earlier reports that three inmates who tried to escape died.

Reports received by the Philippine Information Agency stated that six out of the 172 inmates at the Ormoc City Jail attempted to escape prison by having two of those who wished to escape, gang up on the jail guard during breakfast at about 6:30 in the morning, while the rest rushed to the nearby sugarcane plantation.

Three of the inmates, Juanito Belaro, Jefferson Aralar and Renante Terado were identified by Jail Warden Angelo Marcos as those slained. The fourth one was Eddie Nodalo who was wounded and later on died at the hospital. The other accomplices were Bejamin Barbosa and Ronnie Gabilino.

Mayor Codilla said this is the second time that Juanito Belaro and Eddie Nodalo were among the ten inmates who escaped in May of 2004. Jail guard Solomon Escalaña died during that jailbreak. Eleven days after, the two who were both facing murder charges, turned themselves in.

The inmates took advantage of the situation because most of the jail guards were busy helping serve the inmates’ breakfast. Gabilino and Nodalo ganged on the jail guard while the other four ran to the nearby sugarcane plantation.

The responding members of the Ormoc City Police led by Senior Superintendent Manuel Cubillo cordoned the plantation where the four jail breakers were.

Inspector Andres Laguarda, deputy jail warden tried to negotiate with the escapees to no avail, prompting them to shower the area with bullets.

Terado and Belaro were later found dead. Aralar was taken hold by one of the responding policemen but he was able to get away prompting another guard to shoot him.

As of press time, Mayor Codilla said that the other slained jail breakers have not been claimed by their families and relatives.  Saying that the jail wardens and the police officers will always uphold the rule of law, Mayor Codilla advised that the inmates can get out of jail more easily by being good inside the jail.





DOH is checking into the alleged commercialization of body parts

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 24, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The Department of Health assures the public that it is already looking into the commercialization of body parts in the country.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, during his interaction with the local media in Tacloban, said that the Department has received reports that there is one community in the National Capital Region where about 3,000 people have already sold their body parts particularly kidneys.

Secretary Duque was reacting to the information given by the media practitioners on the alleged selling of kidneys by some poor people in the Region, for P30,000.00.

He said that the Department has started conducting coordination meetings in order to lay down the parameters to draft policies and regulatory measures regarding this issue. When these policies are drawn, the Department of Health will ask Congress for the necessary legislation, Secretary Duque said.

Those who are donating or selling their organs must be given the necessary protection. His health must be constantly monitored, Secretary Duque said. This must be emphasized to the people who are selling their body parts, he said.

The same is true with those who are selling their blood for those who are in need of blood transfusion. Secretary Duque said that buying blood from people who are not known to the family of the sick is very dangerous. The blood must first be properly screened before extraction and transfusion to patients, he said.

His advice is for those who are in need of blood to get them from the accredited blood centers. The Eastern Visayas Medical Center has an active blood bank, the Secretary informed.

Also, local government units have a periodic blood letting and the blood is deposited in the blood banks for use of the patients from their respective localities, Secretary Duque added.

It is must be emphasized that donating blood is not harmful to the donor. In fact, it is good for his health because his blood is cleaned.





NBI collars suspect of Samar mayor’s murder

February 21, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  After three weeks of close surveillance, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) based in Tacloban City finally arrested a suspect of the killing of Daram Mayor Benito Astorga who was gunned down last January 25, this year.

The NBI operatives arrested Arthur Ponay at around 3 p.m. Monday (February 19) in his house in Brgy. San Pablo, Catbalogan, Samar. The 32-year old Ponay was reported to be a bodyguard of Vice Mayor Bartolome Figueroa who is now the acting mayor of Daram.

An NBI official, in a phone interview, disclosed they have been monitoring the whereabouts of Ponay few days after the incident.

He said they have gathered corroborative statements from three witnesses, including a town councilor and a member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), who was present when the shooting incident took place, positively identifying Ponay as the gunman.

On Monday, however, they successfully got hold of the suspect who was then visiting his family here at Samar’s capital.

Ponay is now facing a murder charge filed by NBI at a regional trial court here in Catbalogan for Mayor Astorga’s killing.

The Astorga family earlier dismissed the statement issued by the NPA’s Arnulfo Ortiz Command claiming responsibility of the killing. They insisted that the act has a political angle implicating a top political figure in the province.

The NBI official likewise revealed they have already felt the pressure exerted by a Samar politician. He said they are constantly receiving calls from the said politician to drop the case.

The arrested suspect is temporarily placed under the custody of the NBI while waiting for a court order to settle the custody issue.





Catarman-Calbayog road via Lope de Vega road section already 94% complete

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 21, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The Catarman-Calbayog Road via Lope de Vega Road Section which is under the arterial road link development project, Phase V, of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is already 94 percent complete as of January 25, 2007.

This was reported by the Project Monitoring Committee during the Regional Development meeting last week.

The project which is under the supervision of the Department of Public Works and Highways consist of the improvement and upgrading of at 68.30 kilometers of road connecting Northern Samar and Samar provinces.

With this road construction with the original budget of P621.279 Million and revised to P 643.720 Million, commuters will be able to save about two hours traveling time from Tacloban to Catarman.

The Project Monitoring Committee reported that the occurrence of heavy rains which resulted to flash floods, brought severe damage to the project as well as to the plant and equipment of the contractor.

The Project started on May 31, 2004 and was supposed to be completed in May of 2006. However, because of the aforementioned reasons, the date of completion was reset to October 15, 2006.

Later, it was again reset to December 29, 2006. Unfortunately, in December particularly on the very same date, 29th, several Northern Samar municipalities, including Lope de Vega suffered flash floods once more, and so the date of completion has been further reset to April 25, 2007.

The Monitoring Committee also reported that when the weather is good, the road is already passable. However, for miscellaneous items like the pavement markings, regulatory and directional signs as well as reflectorized paints, the contractor has yet to submit samples for the required quality control tests.





Mountain climbers got lost as they trekked the Brgy. Guinsaugon route for the 1st anniversary rites

February 21, 2007

SOUTHERN LEYTE  –  At least forty five professional and amateur mountain climbers from different municipalities of Leyte and Southern Leyte including seven foreigners got lost along the way as they were trekking the route from Barangay Otikon, Libagon to Brangay Guinsaugon of St. Bernard here.

The 1st Commemorative Climb that started 16th of February at 3:00 in the afternoon at the municipality of Libagon was supposedly to arrived at Brgy. Guinsugon during the 1st landslide tragedy anniversary rites, February 17. Unfortunately, the climbers (3) who came from Leyte province particularly from Baybay and Mahaplag towns, (35) from Southern Leyte, while (5) Coral Cay members, (2) from GTZ-Tacloban City and a New Zealander lost their way and most of the members were allegedly even injured.

Southern Leyte Emergency Rescue Team (SOLERT) Head Lloyd Abiera who was not with the group received a call from his members about the incident and  immediately reported the same to the Libagon Municipal Station headed by Chief of Police  Sr. Inspector Jessie Labao who responded outright to the call.

The Active Libagon Emergency Rescue Team (ALERT) and some members of the 505 Rescue Team from Cebu City were immediately sent to the site. Men from the Alpha Coy of the 43rd IB, Philippine Army based in Brgy. Hibod-hibod, Sogod also helped the rescuers in saving the team of mountain climbers.

According to the report, the same rescue team established an Advance Command Post (ACP) about two kilometers from the highway while the others started to ascend Mt. Kan-abag and successfully rescued all the mountain climbers and safely guided and accompanied them back to Brgy. Otikon in Libagon on the same day at 11:00 in the evening.

It was learned that during the actual rescue operation conducted, only (1) rescue member from the Perpetual Succour Hospital of Cebu City was injured.





Since January 2007

Samar mourns for its 8th victim of murder, politicians’ raid yield high powered ammo

February 20, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  After a lull of some two weeks in the series of killings, Samar is once again mourning the loss of one Honorable Vivencio Ellantos, 49 a municipal councilor of San Jose de Buan town, some 60 kilometers from the capital town of Catbalogan , Samar.

Capt. Jose Mario Chico of 8th Infantry Division based in Camp Lukban, Catbalogan, Samar confirmed the report of the 46th Infantry Battalion stationed in San Jose de Buan but did not release details pending upon verification of the army.

DYMS Reporter Lady Camelot, whose sources come from San Jose de Buan, said that the incident happened on February 19, at 5:00pm. The victim was murdered in his very home. Said councilor has been known for his strong stand against the leftist group in his town located in a remote and hilly terrain at the heart of Samar Island.

The Catbalogan Cable TV Media Advocates Nucleus (CCATMAN) in the daily radio program "Panginano-a Daw" over DYMS discussed that the killing has been the 8th since Agoy Daclitan was liquidated by alleged NPA death squad in the crowded Imelda Park in Catbalogan.

Like Daclitan the ANAD coordinator, Daram Mayor Benito Astorga, Doming de Luna and others, a .45 caliber pistol has also ended the life of Ellantos. Hitmen were described to be young and precise in their movement for a kill, witnesses told the media. Witnesses though could not positively identify the criminals as they moved and escaped swiftly.

Samar has been hurting with the loss of unnecessary lives. Others relate the killings to the coming elections while others believe these are still unfinished business to quell the legal front of the leftist groups.

Catbaloganons have just united on Friday for Prayer for Peace and Justice Rally which was well attended. Organizers have prayed doubly hard for the Samareños to expel and denounce the culture of violence pervading in the province.

Observers have reason to believe that politics is behind the killings. Previous police intelligence reports showed that some politicians in Samar maintain private armies.

In a related development, Police Region 8 Deputy Director Gen. Teodorido Lapuz lV and Samar PNP Director PSSupt. Asdali Idja Abah presented to media assorted firearms seized from the house of Gandara Town Mayor Antonieto Cabueños on Thursday evening (February 15).

The raid was conducted by a composite police team from the Regional Office through a search warrant issued by Judge Efren Abando of the Hilongos Regional Trial Court in response to the government’s effort of pursuing loose firearms and partisan armed groups (PAG) maintained by some politicians.

As fear grips the entire island of Samar, another unconfirmed report said that another mayor in Samar has been apprehended in a checkpoint in Metro Manila with high-powered arms. Authorities though have yet to verify the report.



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