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DILG turns-over new bridge to Southern Leyte government

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

Leyte hosts 51st BSP Annual National Meet

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 6, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The Boy Scouts of the Philippines Leyte Chapter’s hosting of the 51st Boy Scouts of the Philippines Annual National Meeting is seen as a good move to booster the development of the tourism industry in the province of Leyte.

Congresswoman Remedios Petilla who is the Chairperson of the organizing committee for the affair said that the BSP National Annual Meeting will be held on May 22-25, 2007 at the Leyte Academic Center in Palo, Leyte.

The Annual National Meeting which is expected to be participated in by the 109 BSP Councils in the country numbering to about 500 to 800 delegates, is anchored on the theme “One World, One Promise.”

Congresswoman Petilla called for the cooperation and support of all the people of Leyte in order to ensure the success of the National Meeting. She said that the coming of visitors is favorable to the economy of the locality and will help boost the development of the local tourism industry.

Considering the enormous task ahead and with the objective of providing the best to the forthcoming visitors, Representative Petilla this early, has called for the first general organizational meeting with all the proposed committee chairpersons on March 3, 2007 at the Leyte SMED Center at the Provincial Capitol Grounds.

Working committees have been mobilized in order to ensure the smooth organization of all the activities. The Physical Arrangement, General and Technical Services Committee is composed of Mr. Antonio Chan, Engr. Nelson D. Bernardo, and Engr. Robert Lugnasin while the Committee on Transportation is composed of LTO Director Raul Aguilos and the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Committee on Invitation on hosted activities is composed of by DepEd Director Sol Matugas and Dr. Aurora Villarente; the Entertainment and Souvenir Items Committee is headed by Vice Governor Mimietta Bagulaya with Provincial Agriculturist Loreto Yu and Mr. Edgardo Panares and the Committee on Logistics is manned by Board Members Lesmes Lumen and Vangie Esperas.

Other committees include the Promotion, Publicity and Documentation Committee headed by PIA Director Olive Tiu, Ms. Francisca Custodio, Mr. Dalmacio Grafil, and Atty. Leo Giron.; the Security, Emergency and Traffic Committee composed of the PNP Regional and Provincial Directors; the Committee on Food Preparations with Mrs. Clotilde Malatbalat and Mr. Louie Fernandez; the Sales and Trade Fair headed by DTI Director Cynthia Nierras and the Ways and Means Committee composed Hon. Wilson Uy, Mayor Roque Tiu and PRC Director Gerry Palabyab.

Also among the committees formed are the Souvenir Program Committee headed by Mrs. Aurora Villarente, the Reception Committee headed by Dr. Evelyn Cruzada, the Committee on Tours and Accommodation headed by DOT Director Karina Tiopes, the Special Activities and Events Committee led by Mr. Victorino Castillote and the Secretariat which will be composed of the BSP Leyte Staff and the staff of the Leyte Tourism and Investments Promotion Center.





Sandigan orders arrest of Samar governor, 7 others

Press Release
By Office of the Ombudsman
March 5, 2007

MANILA, Philippines  –  The Office of the Ombudsman today lauded the Sandiganbayan’s swift action on the graft case it filed against Western Samar Gov. Milagrosa Tan and seven others.

The Sandiganbayan 4th Division has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); Bureau of Immigration (BID); the Phil. National Police (PNP); and the Sheriff of the Sandiganbayan “there being probable cause”,  to arrest Gov. Milagrosa Tee Tan; Treasurer Damiano Zerda Conde Jr.; Budget Officer Maximo Darunday Sison; Administrative Officer Rolando Bolastig Montejo; Gen. Services Officer (GSO) Aurelio Bardaje Jr.; GSO Record Officer and Inspector Numeriano Legaspi; Accountant Romeo Chan Reales and Reynaldo Angeles-Yabut, a private supplier.

Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez earlier ordered the filing of graft charges against them for the alleged anomalous purchases of medicines and other goods worth P16.1M without public bidding for the period Dec. 2001 – Dec. 2002.

The said officials were charged by the Isog Han Samar Movement of Catbalogan, Samar represented by Fr. Noel Labendia of the Diocese of Calbayog, Catbalogan, Samar, based on investigation conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA) on selected transactions of the Province of Western Samar from Jan. 1, 2001 – April, 2003.

Among the transactions audited were for the purchase of medicines worth P3.9M; assorted goods and rice – P10.6M; and electric fans – P1.6M for a total of P16.1M.

Investigations also reveal that no competitive public bidding took place for the purchase of electric fans as the delivery of the same were made even before the conduct of public bidding.

Based on records, the respondents also used the occurrence of typhoon “KIdang” on Dec. 4-5, 2001 to justify their action to dispense with the public bidding and instead resort to an emergency purchase of various medicines and goods.

However, it was found out that while the emergency purchases for various medicines and goods were intended for victims of typhoon “KIdang”, “the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 88-2001 attached to the Disbursement Vouchers refers to typhoon “Nanang” which hit the province of Samar on Nov. 6, 2001.”

At the same time, one emergency purchase of assorted medicines was anchored on a request made by the Local Health Board of Gandara dated Oct. 22, 2001, two months prior to the occurrence of typhoon “Kidang”.

The other purchase was based on a letter-request of the Tarangnan Municipal Mayor dated Dec. 3, 2001, a day before the locality was hit by the typhoon.

On the other hand, it describes as “absurd” the emergency purchase of rice and goods from Wilmart’s Mini Mart seven days after the typhoon. Also, the canvass, issuance of Purchase Order, the delivery of the merchandise and the inspection took place in just one day. The Office of the Ombudsman said the transaction is highly suspect as Wilmart’s Mini Mart only has a capitalization of P100,000 and is not even registered as a rice supplier. It is also 107 kms. away from Samar which makes it improbable to deliver several hundreds of sacks of rice in just one day.

The Anti-graft court ordered each of the respondents to post a P240,000 bail bond for their temporary liberty.





League of Cities to question constitutionality passage of 12 cityhood bills

March 1, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  It may not be a smooth sail at all for the 12 towns that are now in the process of being granted city status with the approval of their respective House Bills by the senate recently.

This after the Secretary-General of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) confirmed that the League has initially concurred to send a petition to the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the said bill.

Calbayog City Mayor Mel Sarmiento, in an interview Tuesday, said the majority of the members of the League aired their opposition to the bills as this will mean a reduction of their Internal Revenue Allotments (IRAs) which may drastically affect their operations.

Sarmiento informed it is the prevailing sentiment among the members of the League that the Senate’s approval of the 12 cityhood bills of municipalities is unconstitutional as Republic Act 9009, which set a basic income requirement of P100 million for those who apply for cityhood status, was not amended or repealed but is still in effect.

League members believed that the exemption of these towns from R.A. 9009 will serve as a bad precedent and may send a wrong signal to others, he said.

He informed that three other towns, that were not included in the 12, are now seeking the same exemption.

To recall, the Senate approved the 12 cityhood bills (HB 5998 for Catbalogan) in third reading last February 5 granting the towns of Bogo and Carcar, Cebu; Baybay, Leyte; Catbalogan, Samar; Lamitan, Basilan; Tandag, Surigao del Sur; Batac, Ilocos Norte; Bayugan, Agusan del Sur; Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte; Borongan, Eastern Samar; Tayabas, Quezon and Tabok, Kalinga exemption from the income requirement set by R.A. 9009.

The bill likewise granted the conversion of these towns into cities after residents of each town approve it in a plebiscite.

Mayor Sarmiento, however, said he deliberately decided not to attend the recent meetings of the League to avoid being misunderstood by other Samareño leaders that he is against the cityhood bid of Samar’s capital.





LEYECO II GM must return illegal fund payout, consumer advocate urges

Press Release
March 2, 2007

PARAÑAQUE CITY, Philippines  –  Consumer watchdog National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc. (NASECORE) is urging the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to direct Leyeco II Electric Cooperative, Inc., General Manager Atty. Jerry Gwen L. Conde to return the total amount of PhP2,797,190.50 that was fraudulently disbursed as productivity incentive bonus for 2005 for the coop’s officers and regular employees after NEA has denied the coop’s request for the approval of its Board Resolution “Approving the appropriation of the amount of P2,797,190.50 to cover the cost of the 14th month pay (productivity incentive bonus) for the year 2005 of its officers and regular employees”.

“We commend NEA for favorably acting on our letter request to deny LEYECO II’s incentive bonus for the year 2005 as the coop failed to meet items (3) and (5) of the five (5) criteria under the Revised Guidelines on Benefits, Allowances and Other Incentives to EC Officers and Employees which are as follows: (3) has sufficient funds in excess of due and necessary expenditures to cover the amount required by this bonus; and (5) has posted a 5% cumulative net margin for a ten-month period ending 31 October of the current-year,” NASECORE President Pete Ilagan said.

LEYECO II’s Financial and Statistical Report shows that it suffered net loss of PhP5.678-million in 2005, PhP9.47-million in 2004, PhP3.07-million in 2003, PhP24.06-million in 2002, and PhP4.9-million in 2001.

“If Leyeco II had been incurring losses since 2001, how could the general manager ever think of giving out a 14th month pay? This is simply anomalous that shows outright gross disregard of member-consumers’ interests”, Ilagan said.

On September 20, 2006 NASECORE also wrote the Leyeco II Board calling its attention about this questionable 14th month pay.  As a result of this letter, the Leyeco II Board of Directors created a special committee to investigate the matter and found out that Atty. Gerry Gwen Conde, the coop’s general manager, among others, acted in “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of authority resulting to illegal disbursement of the cooperative funds in the amount of P2,797,190.50.”  In his affidavit, LEYECO II secretary and treasurer Alan C. Surpia said that he signed the check for disbursements of the said benefits after being assured by Atty. Conde that the proposed PhP2.7 million worth of incentive bonus was already approved by NEA.

Based on this and the Committee report, the Leyeco II Board passed a Resolution “Terminating the General Manager, Atty. Jerry Gwen L. Conde, of Leyte II Electric Cooperative, Inc.” for his “deliberate defiance, disrespect, grave abuse of authority, and arrogance...which are detrimental and inimical in the operations of Electric Cooperatives.”

In support of this Leyeco II Board resolution, NASECORE, likewise, asked NEA to forfeit all benefits and entitlements due to Atty. Conde  as a warning to all general managers of electric cooperatives under its supervision to exercise due prudence in managing the funds of the coops which come from the rate payments of its member-consumers.

“We hope NEA will see justice and act swiftly on our demands”, Ilagan added.





Concrete actions over extrajudicial killings must be made, not just mere propaganda – SAGUPA-SB

Press Release
February 28, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Concrete actions must be made by this government over the spate of political and extrajudicial killings noted not only by the victims’ families, survivors, but also by different probe bodies and international human rights groups. This is the reaction of the farmers group Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB) after reports of the Melo Commission, of UN Special Raporteur Philip Alston, and of different human rights groups here and abroad have repeatedly stressed the culpability of the government and of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and of retired Butcher of the People, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.

Diana Ragub noted that while the government said it is ‘serious in addressing the occurrence of these extrajudicial killings’, it likewise lost no time in defending the AFP.

“A double-edged statement like such is not what the people meant by justice. It is tantamount to saying that the killings were perpetrated only by a handful rotten eggs and it has not been a part of government policy,” said Ragub.

“Lest the government forget, it paved the way for the escalation of the killings following its statements tagging militant groups as fronts of the communist movement and as enemies of the state. For all the accusations against Palparan, it hailed and gave pompous recognition of his supposed valor in the anti-insurgency campaign; it even went its way to promote him despite allegations of his criminal activities,” said Ragub.

Among the proposed actions of the group include the abrogation of Oplan Bantay Laya, the operation plan behind the red-labelling and neutralization or killing campaign among militant groups. Ragub said that it is only through the abrogation of the plan that the President could clearly express that she has the political will to put an end to the extrajudicial killings.

Ragub likewise urge members of the Congress including those who are running for said seats this May 14, 2007 elections that a legislation for the recognition of chain-of-command responsibility must be enacted in order to punish those who, like Palparan, bolstered the ignorance of the armed forces in human rights laws.

“Considering that extrajudicial killings have been a reality in the Philippines, our penal laws must conform with the times and to the fact that these are committed treacherously, either through bonnet-clad men or during nighttime. Military men in the countrysides have likewise been noted not to wear nameplates when they conduct military operations. There is no way for the victims or for witnesses to clearly identify their perpetrators except for circumstantial evidences. A case for murder or attempted murder cannot therefore be had unless you have convincing proof that the accused is the perpetrator. With this, it is easy for the likes of Palparan to absolve themselves from the culpability,” explained Ragub.

“There is a need to enact a law penalizing superior government official, military or otherwise, who encourages or tolerates by omission, any extrajudicial killing committed by their subordinates. Failure of such responsible officer to prevent and investigate, when he had a reasonable opportunity to do so, must be penalized. The same goes for those who instigate, support, and like what Palparan claims, ‘inspire’, extrajudicial killings.”

“These rules of culpability of government officials particularly of top military men are provided for by the Hague Convention IV and X and of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. These are laws that our Constitution has adopted as generally accepted principles of international law which are supposedly part of the laws of the land,” said Ragub.

Another concrete action that SAGUPA-SB hopes to see from the government is an intensive human rights orientation among members of the AFP including those in the fields to ‘abate their unawareness of laws and legal processes’ amounting to human rights violations and abuses.





Cong. Mercado donates computer sets through PDAF

February 28, 2007

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte   –  A total of (110) computer sets were distributed by the Lone District Congressman Roger G. Mercado under his Priority Development Assistance Project (PDAF) Monday, February 26 at the Sangguniang Panglungsod here.

The assistance in line with the Congressman’s computerization system development for the province and one of the priority programs of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for “Education for All”  amounted for at least P4 million, Cong. Mercado revealed during his short message in a turn-over ceremony conducted with the recipients identified throughout the province.

The Lone District Office identified (110) beneficiaries from the province like the private sectors such as the Associated Media of Southern Leyte (AMSL), Veterans Association of Southern Leyte, Parents Teachers and Community Association (PCTA) among others. Some government offices who received were the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Office, Philippine information Agency (PIA), while their office identified also schools, barangays and municipalities all over the province as the recipients of the computer sets.

Each recipient during the turn-over ceremony were just required to sign the acknowledgement receipt prepared by their office for the (11) boxes that composed (1) Pentium 4 computer set, which include the monitor, printer, automatic voltage regulator (AVR), uninterrupted power supply (UPS), multi-media speaker,  computer table, chair  among others.

Cong. Mercado who was grateful with the continued support extended for the good of the province also disclosed during his message some of his on-going   and still to be implemented projects like the construction of a training center for vocational courses, the Philhealth IDs and SSS memberships distribution for indigents, construction of schools, agricultural developments including farm-to-market roads.





Another top Leyte NPA leader fell

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 26, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Army Troopers, while conducting checkpoint along Jaro-Alangalang Maharlika Highway on February 25, 2007, successfully apprehended at about 7:15 in the morning, Antonio Ramos aka Pingkoy / Mando the newly designated Secretary of the North Leyte Front, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee of the CPP-NPA.

Ramos replaced the late Bibiano Rentellosa aka Tomas / Tommy / Tatay who was killed during an encounter with the Commando Troopers on 11 Sept 2006 at vicinity Sitio Taghoy, Bgy. Libertad , Kananga, Leyte.

First Lieutenant Dennis C. Almorato, Public Information Officer and Spokesman of the Commando Troopers informed PIA that Antonio Ramos was apprehended at the vicinity of Barangay Olutan, Jaro, Leyte while on board a Public Utility Vehicle on his way to Tacloban City.

He was apprehended by the troopers of the 19th Infantry Commando Battalion together with the 8th Intelligence Security Unit, Intelligence Security Group led by Lt. Colonel Lope C. Dagoy, the commanding officer of the 19th IB and 2nd Lt. Ruel Adrian Benedicto, commanding officer of the Alpha Company of the 19th IB.

Ramos peacefully went with the apprehending troopers. However, at about 9:10 o’clock on the same day, while the troops together with him, were on their way to the Battalion Headquarters at Barangay Aguiting, Kananga, Leyte on board on M35 truck, Ramos suddenly grabbed the rifle of one of the troops on board the M35 Truck and managed to fire a shot hitting the left railings of the truck.

During the ensuing scuffle, a trooper identified as Corporal Jose Elizalde III, shot Antonio Ramos twice in order to incapacitate him. Sustaining two gunshot wounds at the abdominal portion of the body, Ramos was immediately rushed to the Ormoc Sugar Planters Association (OSPA) Hospital for immediate treatment, but he was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician. His corpse now lies at V-RAMA Funeral Homes for proper disposition.

First Lieutenant Amorato said that this another wave of tactical victory by the Commando Troopers against the Communist Terrorists of the North Leyte Front, demonstrates its sustained and strong-willed combat power over the dissipating Communist Terrorists in the area who are now suffering from a severe and enduring demoralization among its ranks due to the sustained combat operations of the unit.

Lt. Colonel Lope C. Dagoy, commanding officers of the 19th Infantry Battalion, stressed that the tactical gains of his unit is consistent with his personal timeline to dismantle the North Leyte Front within six (6) months to one year as he has earlier promised to do.

He added that by these, the military troopers have ably demonstrated that they have denied the North Leyte Front any reason to pursue with their futile cause and instead convinced them to join the mainstream of society for a better future of their lives, as others have started to do.

Lt. Colonel Dagoy appealed to the civilian populace to continue to support the Army in its mission to make peace and development a reality in Leyte.  (with report from 1st Lt. Dennis Almorato)





DepEd completes SEDIP projects Eastern Visayas

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 26, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The Department of Education revealed that it has completed 31,531 Secondary Education Development and Improvement Projects (SEDIP) in Eastern Visayas since the inception of the Project until December 2006.

In Southern Leyte, where the SEDIP program is still ongoing, 54 new school buildings were contracted during the quarter with a total disbursement of P35 million. The total number of classrooms for the secondary schools in Southern Leyte is 423 while 64 additional classrooms are needed for school year 2006-2007.

For DepEd Leyte Division, all the targets for the quarter have been completed. These include the construction of 50 new classrooms, construction of 18 new toilet facilities, construction of 2 Science Laboratories, construction of 1 industrial arts building, procurement of 1,140 arm chairs, procurement of 19 teachers tables and 19 teachers chairs, procurement of 8 teachers table and procurement of 60 Science laboratory stools.

The total number of classrooms existing in the Leyte Division is 1,543 while 359 additional classrooms are needed for school year 2006-2007.

For the Division of Biliran 16 new school buildings have already been constructed out of the 18 targeted. The 2 additional school buildings are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2007.

Of the 8 school buildings which need to be improved, three have been completed while the remaining five are scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2007. The training of 2 school heads has been conducted while the training of 19 teachers has already been conducted 100 percent. Only 44 percent of the 71,050 textbooks and information materials which are centrally procured, have been delivered.

The Secondary Education Development and Improvement Program is in consonance with the thrust of the Administration to reduce the disparity in net enrolment and completion rates by improving the quality and relevance of secondary education in target provinces.

The project also aims to improve enrolment and completion of secondary education and to facilitate the process of decentralization to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of planning, management and policies of the sub-sector.



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