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Chinese investors visit Guiuan; Evardone welcomes more businesses to the province

Eastern Samar joins 30 Best Provinces in the country

New registrants swarm Comelec offices in Samar

Close to a thousand Samar youth are pursuing ladderized education – TESDA

Congressman Chong bares programs, projects to be funded by his CDF

Alfred takes post as new City mayor

Basey LGU conducts massive Jathropa tree planting

PGMA signs Anti-Red Tape Act

Government workers finally get 10% salary increase

Man runs amuck with a bolo, kills 9, hurts 18







Young Mathematics teacher from Leyte among this year’s Outstanding Teachers

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

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Ms. Glendale B. Lamiseria, a young Mathematics teacher of the Dulag National High School in Dulag, Leyte is among this year’s Outstanding Teachers of the Philippines.

For winning in the recently concluded search, Ms. Lamiseria did not only win for herself a trophy and P250,000.00 in cash but also who honor for her school, the province of Leyte and the entire DepEd family in Eastern Visayas.

The winners for this year’s Search for Outstanding Teachers sponsored by the Metrobank Foundation, were bared over the weekend. From the nearly 200 nominees from all over the country for the elementary, secondary and higher education levels, ten (10) teachers were chosen for their admirable contributions in the advancement of the education sector as well as in community development.

Ms. Lamiseria is one of the four secondary teachers who are included in this year’s awardees. The other winners in the secondary level are Ruben L. Abucayon of Alegria National High School in Surigao del Norte, Norma C. Pacaigue of Novaliches High School in Quezon City and Cynthia Bangero of Barotac Viejo National High School in Iloilo.

The awardees in the elementary level are Fredo T. Lareles of Ateneo Grade School in Quezon City, Jeneluj C. Cunanan of Lanao Central Elementary School in Kidapawan City, Madeline B. Rivera of San Pablo Central School in San Pablo City and Leticia N. Palle of Malaybalay City Central School.

National Book Awardee and renowned poet Belinda S. Santos of Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City and internationally acclaimed physicist and National Academy of Science and Technology awardee Cesar Saloma of the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, are this year’s awardees in the higher education category.

The winners were chosen by a competent panel of judges with Senator Richard Gordon as the chairman and which include Supreme Court Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria Martinez, Negros Representative Carlos Lacson, Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Taguig Mayor Sigfrido Tinga, De La Salle Philippines President Brother Armin Luistro FSC, Philippine Stock Exchange President Francis Ed Lim and columnist and TV host Lourdes Sytangco.

Metrobank Foundation’s Search for Outstanding Teachers which was established in 1985 honors educators who have dedicated their lives to mentoring the youth through classroom instruction and beyond, by serving as role models of excellence in their respective communities.

The past winners have gone on to form the Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators, an honor society that actively works towards the elevation of teaching through professional development and advocacy, in partnership with the government and non-government institutions.





Eastern Samar has new Bishop

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

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  At last, after almost one year of not having one, the faithful of Eastern Samar will already have a new bishop.

This development came as Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr. Crispin Varquez, Vicar-General of Tagbilaran City, Bohol, as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Borongan in Eastern Samar.

Varquez’ appointment was released in the Vatican Saturday and was announced simultaneously in Manila by the Charge d’ Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature, Msgr. Wojciech Zaluski, through the National Office of Mass Media, since the country has been without a nuncio after Archbishop Fernando Filoni’s appointment as Assistant Secretary of State in the Vatican.

With his appointment, Fr. Varquez succeeds Bishop Leonardo Medroso, who was transferred to the Diocese of Tagbilaran City in October, 2006. He will now serve the Diocese of Borongan which has a population of 362,000, some 350,000 of them Catholics.

The newly appointed bishop, Fr. Varquez, was born in Sevilla, Bohol. He studied philosophy at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran, and Theology at the St. Augustine Major Seminary in Tagaytay City. Ordained to the priesthood at 28, Fr. Varquez took postgraduate studies on Seminary Formation in Cebu City and on family counseling in the Center for Family Ministry at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Fr. Varquez served as formator at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran for four years and then, as Formator at the St Augustine Major Seminary in Tagaytay for over five years.

Before his appointment to the Diocese of Borongan, the 46-year-old Fr. Varquez was the vicar forane of the St Joseph Vicariate and then vicar general of the Diocese of Tagbilaran.

The date for the consecration of Fr. Varquez as bishop of the Diocese of Borongan has not yet been set.





RDC8 meets August 23 to select chair and co-chair nominees

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
August 4, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The members of the Regional Development Council for Eastern Visayas will meet on August 23, 2007 in order to tackle among other things, the selection of the nominees for the chairpersonship and co-chairpersonship of the Council.

The contenders for RDC8 chairmanship

NEDA 8 Director Buenaventura Go-soco, Jr. informed that the RDC meeting will be held at the NEDA Regional Office at the Government Center, Palo, Leyte.

Director Go-soco said that a briefing on the RDG will be conducted for the new regular Council members at 10:00 o’clock in the morning to 12:00 o’clock noon. This will be followed by the regular RDC meeting at 1:30 in the afternoon.

The highlights of the RDG meeting, Director Go-soco who is the RDG Vice Chairman, intimated, would be the confirmation of the new set of Private Sector Representatives (PSRs) and the selection of the nominees for the Chairpersonship and the Co-Chairmanship of the Council.

It would be recalled that the RDC in Eastern Visayas changed the qualifications of the Private Sector Representatives in order that the sectors in the priority thrusts of each of the provinces will be the ones to represent their respective provinces.

Thus, the territorial/georaphical representative for the province of Leyte will come from the banking sector; Biliran will come from the palay industry; Southern Leyte from the abaca farmers cooperative; Samar from the fishing industry; Eastern Samar from eco-tourism/environment sector; and  Northern Samar from the coconut industry.

Meanwhile, for the RDC Chairmanship, the names of Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla and Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento have long been mentioned in the grapevines. Mayor Mel Sarmiento has written to the RDC members to signify his intention. Governor Petilla, although still on leave, has signified his willingness to serve as RDC Chair as the general membership clamors for it.

Director Go-soco explained that two names are usually submitted for confirmation of the President. In the history of RDC 8 however, whoever gets the highest vote during the selection, has always been the one confirmed by the President.

If the Chair is from the government sector, the Co-Chair will automatically come from the Private Sector.





Island town dad bares economic benefits from RoRo port construction

August 4, 2007

Maripipi islandNAVAL, Biliran  –  Many economic benefits was how an elated Maripipi Mayor Noel M. Albelda told with the on-going construction of the Roll On-Roll Off port in the island municipality.

The local chief executive (LCE) who is a medical doctor by profession happily informed in an interview with PIA that the P50 million worth, 200-meter length and 20 meters wide port is a major infrastructure project undertaken in the municipality which he firmly believed is the key to the economic boom of Maripipi.

Mayor Albelda said that the RoRo port project implemented in his municipality is part of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s (PGMA’s) Nautical Highway Project which is aimed at cutting the travel time thereby lessening the transportation cost of the transporting public to any point in the country.

The construction of the RoRo port project was started in April this year and is expected to be finished for a period of one year, Albelda said.

He informed that the travel routes once the port will be completed include the route from Maripipi-Cataingan, Masbate-Matnog and the other route from Maripipi-Cataingan, Masbate-Lucena City in Quezon province.

However, the 43 year old island town’s chief never discounted the big possibility that it might include another routes such as going to Cebu City or Calbayog City which entails a shorter period of travel time thru commercial sea vessels compared to the usual big motorized pumpboat used by traders in his municipality in transporting goods to and from in those routes.

The first-termer mayor who previously served as the island town vice-mayor for one term said that once the port will be finished, copra traders in the municiplity have now a wide array of choices in shipping their copra to places outside Biliran that offer better price.

According to Mayor Albelda, 70 percent of the total 31 square kilometers land area of the island town is planted to coconut. “That’s why copra is the major agricultural product and likewise the primary source of income of the people in Maripipi”, he said.

He estimated that the copra production in his town ranges from 10 to 15 metric tons per quarter and may even reach up to 20 to 25 metric tons based on the average number of kilos shipped out of town by one of the biggest copra traders in the municipality. One factor that contributes to a bigger copra production is the absence of natural calamities like typhoon and drought, he added.

The completion of the RoRo port will also pave the way to more tourists both local and foreign coming to the island town of Maripipi thus it will greatly help in boosting the local tourism, Mayor Albelda also said.

He added that he is keen on improving one of his town’s famous tourist destinations which is the Sambawan Island, a four islet tourism site where fine, white sand beaches, pristine sea waters, untouched corals good for scuba diving and where tamed turtles crawling freely along the coastline are found.

The forward-looking LCE envisions to develop Sambawan Island into a mini-Boracay in the province of Biliran where tourists can go as an alternative destination.

In fact Mayor Albelda proudly said that one of the siblings of the famous Zobel de Ayala has already visited the island in April of 2006 and in the same month this year after conducting a medical mission in his town.

He added that that sibling of Zobel de Ayala will again visit the place by April 2008 because according to him that fellow really likes the natural beauty of Sambawan Island.

“The construction of the RoRo port is a big blessing to the island municipality and a big opportunity for the Maripipinhon since it opens a lot of possibilities in improving their lives” Mayor Albelda candidly admitted.





Region 8 mediaman bags award for best feature

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
August 1, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  For his touching and well-written feature article on the Guinsaugon Tragedy, Mr. Jani Arnaiz a media practitioner and correspondent from Sogod, Southern Leyte recently bagged the Louie Prieto Journalism Award for Excellent Feature Article for 2006.

Mountain Broke and Mud Came Rushing is the title of the feature article which Jani Arnaiz wrote right after the Guinsaugon Tragedy which buried an entire village at Saint Bernard town, in the province of Southern Leyte in February of 2006.

The awarding took place on July 31 at the Philippine Daily Inquirer Office in Makati. Jani Arnaiz, however, because of the distance from Southern Leyte to Manila, was not able to receive personally, his prize which include not only trophy but also cash prize.

Jani’s winning an award for excellence in Journalism, is not so surprising for those who know him. He comes from a family of journalists and his father, Gus Arnaiz is known as the Mediaman of Eastern Visayas, having pioneered the Reporter, the fearless and longest running newspaper in the Region.

The Louie Prieto Award for Excellence in Journalism is an annual award which is given to reporters and correspondents of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of the leading newspapers in the country.

The media practitioners in Eastern Visayas will surely be inspired by Jani’s fete. For Jani, the award serves as a challenge to do better and strive harder to be the journalist that he truly wants to be.





City government enjoins residents to support POPCEN 2007

By KIMRO (City Media Office)
August 1, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The NSO Regional Office in coordination with the City Government of Tacloban wishes to inform the residents of this city, of the upcoming Census on Population (POPCEN) which will commence on August 1 to 31, this year.

This latest census activity according to Mayor Alfred Romualdez, would pave the way for our city’s transformation into a highly urbanized city, which according to latest statistics has already a population of almost 250,000 residents.

This, according to Mayor Romualdez, “would not only make our city a highly urbanized one, but it would also raise the IRA that we would be getting from the National Government and finally raise also the salaries of our local government workers,” the Mayor said.

And this he continued, “would necessarily require the confirmation of the NSO and it is only through this census that we could ascertain how many residents there are, now in the city.”

Quoting earlier reports, City PNP Chief, Supt. Romulo Cleve Taboso also cited the same population figures in wanting to underscore the police-civilian ratio in the city.

Meanwhile, the city government is appealing to its residents to cooperate and provide accurate information to the NSO enumerators who would be conducting data gathering, in every household.

On this, city residents are advised not to be apprehensive about giving information as everything will be treated with confidentiality and this according to Mayor Romualdez, has nothing to do with the rumored relocation of informal settlers in the city.

For the data to be factual, the Local Chief Executive also advised NSO enumerators to coordinate with respective Barangay Officials, the Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS), Barangay Service Point Officers (BSPO), Barangay Health Workers (BHW) and Day Care Center workers, as they could help much in providing certain data in a particular community.





DOJ exonerates Lofrancos over Janine murder case

July 30, 2007

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar  –  In a fifty-one page DOJ Joint Resolution dated July 09, 2007, State Prosecutor II Florencio D. dela Cruz, Jr. and 1st Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Fidel A. Macauyag dismissed the cases filed by Mary Jean O. Paulin against Drs. Leo and Grace Lofranco and Jericson D. Tagapan. Dela Cruz and Macauyag, who were designated as Acting Provincial Prosecutors of Catbalogan Samar, as per Department Order No. 105 dated January 29, 2007, decided in favor of the three respondents by dismissing the murder and arson cases filed against them for insufficiency of evidence to indict respondents to the crimes charged.

The decision resolved the complaints for murder and arson filed before the Department of Justice, which were docketed as IS No. 03230-07 and I.S No. 03231-07 respectively. The exoneration was based on the inability of the complainant to positively identify or concretely establish the deliberate involvement of the Lofranco couple and the security guard in the commission of the alleged crimes.

“Paulin’s charges were primarily based on suspicions. It did not gave probative force to the testimony and in itself was insufficient to establish or justify the inference of a particular fact”, the prosecutors tell.  The DOJ specifically found it highly illogical for the Lofrancos to dump the body of the deceased inside their biggest grocery, if indeed they were responsible for her demise.  It also cited of the availability of a wide area in Samar, both land and water, where a victim of a crime could easily be concealed or dumped undetected.

It must be recalled that the sensationalized controversy started when a 14 year old and 2nd year high school student, Candice Janine O. Paulin, was found dead inside the burned Lester Lace Grocery, owned by the Lofranco couple, in Catbalogan Samar last November 14, 2006. The complainant felt that there was impartiality in the initial investigation conducted by the NBI, thus, the assistance of the Western CIDG was solicited. More speculations of an alleged commission of crimes of murder and arson cropped up shortly after Dr. Felino Gualdrapa issued a certification that Janine was already dead three hours before the fire, which was believed to be intentionally set to cover the crime previously committed.

The complainant received even more support and sympathies from various local and national religious and civic organizations, especially after the theorized evidences of the investigation anchored in establishing a love triangle affair or an extra-marital relationship between Dr. Leo Lofranco and the deceased. However, the defense lawyers of the Lofrancos led by Atty. Rolando P. Quimbo, a Catbaloganon, were able to refute all these allegations in a series of presentation of affidavits made by credible witnesses that served as the basis for the DOJs final judgment on the cases.

On the other hand, the Lofrancos, were overwhelmed by the decision. Even at the very start, they were very well confident that a fair and just trial, would exonerate them. On several radio interviews, the couple was heard in their appeals that they be spared from public trial and condemnation and expressed their desire to submit themselves to investigation. “We are also victims in this instance, just like the complainant, thus we also deserve to be heard. We have trust and confidence in the justice system”, the Lofrancos were once quoted.

They are finally glad that they have survived the emotional crisis they went through, the financial losses that their businesses suffered, and the public indignation that the cases has caused on their family. “All we need now is peace of mind. Ayoko na munang magsalita baka iba na naman ang dating nun para sa kabila. Waiting for the resolution to be handed down was really stressful. We’ll leave all the rest of the questions to Atty. Quimbo. We just have to be thankful to everyone who supported us”, was Dr. Grace Lofranco’s humble answer when asked for an interview by this writer.

Atty. Rolando Quimbo, the respondent’s lawyer, conceded to a live radio interview in the DYMS Program “Panginano-a Daw”. In the said venue, he thanked the Lofrancos for entrusting their defense to him, the Catbaloganon’s for carefully looking into the details of the cases, the media for a balanced airing of the issues and finally, the witnesses, who braved it all despite the odds. He appealed to all concerned for sobriety and respect to the decision handed down by the DOJ. Local media has yet to hear the comments of the complainant on the matter, as of this writing.





OPAPP, IBP-Leyte jointly undertake ‘Aksyon Solayao-Picoy cases’

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
July 30, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  In an unprecedented move to stop extrajudicial killings, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Intergrated Bar of the Philippines, Leyte Chapter (IBP-Leyte) agreed and forged themselves to work for the common objective of helping quickly resolve the Solayao and Picoy cases.

The signing of a Memorandum of Agreement, held on Friday at Greenhouse Restaurant in Tacloban City, was done by OPAPP Assistant Secretary for Operations Evelyn Daplas, represented by Mr. Romeo Montenegro, and IBP-Leyte Chapter President Jerry Gwen Conde.

The signing was witnessed by Tacloban PNP Chief Romulo Cleve Taboso and PIA Director Olive Tiu, together with IBP-Leyte Vice President Atty. Danny Matriano and the members of the tri-media in Tacloban City.

Both OPAPP and the IBP-Leyte Chapter recognize the need to exert consolidated efforts to assist the bereaved families by providing humanitarian support and help speed up the investigation and resolution of the deaths of Charlie Solayao and Rogelio Picoy who are among the latest victims of the so called extrajudicial killings in Tacloban City.

The idea of the joint undertaking cropped up when OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza came to Tacloban the other week to present to the Solayao family the financial support of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Secretary Dureza made initial talks with Atty. Danny Matriano for a combined and determined efforts to resolve extrajudicial killings.

Both the OPAPP and the IBP-Leyte acknowledge that combined and determined efforts of helping together to quickly resolve the Solayao and Picoy cases and to pursue continuing advocacy for vigilance against human rights violations.

Under the Memorandum of Agreement, OPAPP shall provide a mechanism for coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police for exchange of information and joint investigation on the Solayao and Picoy cases.

For its part, the IBP-Leyte shall facilitate the receipt, initial processing and relaying to the NBI and PNP relevant information and leads provided by credible sources through a designated hotline mobile number and unit provided by OPAPP.

IBP-Leyte shall monitor the investigation and relay the progress of this undertaking to the public through various fora, and advocate for stronger community vigilance on human rights violations in possible coordination with such agencies as the Philippine Information Agency and media organizations.

The OPAPP is a government agency mandated to ensure the pursuit of the Philippine Government’s overall peace agenda, through implementation, coordination, monitoring and integration of all Government peace initiatives and the participation of civil society in the pursuit of a just and lasting peace in the country.

Recently, the OPAPP has been tasked by President Arroyo to activate a quick response and coordination mechanism to address human rights violations, focusing both on providing humanitarian support to the victims and families, and effect coordination among concerned agencies to speed up investigation and resolution of cases.

The local chapter of the IBP is undertaking various programs among others, free legal assistance to underprivileged clients mostly those from impoverish areas seeking legal redress to unlawful acts and human rights violations.

The MOA signing is a very good example of the partnership between the government and the private sector in order to pursue the peace initiatives of the Arroyo Administration.



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