Evardone opposes 124%
power rate increase in Eastern Samar
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte
– Eastern Samar Governor strongly opposed the imposition of 124%
increase in power rate being charged by the Eastern Samar Electric
In separate interviews
with the local radio stations in Tacloban, Governor Evardone said that
the increase is exorbitant especially at this time when the people of
Eastern Samar are still reeling from the damages of the recent flash
Governor Evardone said
that when he learned about this increase on Sunday, he immediately
called Manager Aberia of ESAMELCO. He was told that the increase is
due to the increase in the transmission of power that caused the
electric cooperative to incur P7 million.
The Governor said that
he informed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo about this, and the
President also believes that no increase should be allowed at this
time. The President told Governor Evardone to tell the manager of
ESAMELCO not to collect increases at this time.
Evardone said he also called up the President of Philippine
Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO) to inform him of the predicament of
the people of Eastern Samar.
called up a public hearing on Tuesday, together with the management of
ESAMELCO so that the appropriate action will be taken into effect.
Evardone called on the people of
Eastern Samar not to pay the increase in power and to just pay with the
old rate. Although, the manager of ESAMELCO assured him that those who
have paid with the new rate will be refunded, Governor Evardone said
that it will be too taxing to the people as the issuance of the refund
will entail a lot of paperwork.
implemented the increase without consultation whatsoever with the
people, Governor Evardone said. The old rate of power in Eastern Samar
is about P4.50 per kilowatt hour. With the increase, Eastern Samar
will have the most expensive power in the country. This is not good
for the program of the President of inviting investors in the tourism
industry to put up their business in Eastern Samar, Governor Evardone
Basey farmfolks join
By NINFA B. QUIRANTE (PIA
March 10, 2008
CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar
– After a year of convincing farm folks, a local organization of farm
folks in Basey, Samar is now drawing in new members who share the
vision of planting more tuba-tuba (jathropa) for livelihood.
As of December 31,
2007, some 212 Basaynon-farmers have engaged in tuba-tuba planting,
according to the record of Teodorico Purbos, President of the Baktas
Kabub’wason Rural workers Association.
Baktas Kabub’wason (Walk
to the Future) is an organization of Basaynons believing in the
economic benefits that tuba-tuba could bring.
In this effort, Basey
now has some 71,424 shrubs planted in a 28,000-hectare distributed in
32 out of its 51 barangays.
Of these, it is
Barangay Villa Aurora that tops both the number of tuba-tuba planted
and hectarage, the report added.
It was no less than
the Chairman of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) Alternative
Fuels Corporation (AFC) who visited this historic town on March 8,
2008 on the occasion of the Baktas first general assembly.
In his speech,
Chairman Renato S. Velasco assured the tuba-tuba planters that PNOC is
willing to buy their tuba -tuba seeds.
Mayor Didi Estorninos of
Basey has joined the bandwagon himself and planted some in his
The likes of Army
Officer Jonathan Ponce, Department of Agrarian Reform Officer Chito
dela Torre and then Sangguniang Bayan Member Anita Ogrimen hatched the
idea of the tuba-tuba project in support to the program of PGMA’s Biofuels
Tuba –tuba known as jathropa curcas has gained a wide following of planters in Mindanao,
Luzon and in Palawan.
Aside from Velasco,
Army Brigade Commander Francis Lanuza of the 801st Bde, PIA Regional
Director Olive Tiu and Prof. Roberto Visco of UP also graced the
Senate sets April
Spratly probe, JPEPA vote
By Office of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago
March 9, 2008
Philippines – Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chair of the Senate
foreign relations committee, said that the public hearing on the
controversial 2005 Spratly Islands agreement, as well as the Jpepa
committee report, will be taken up on April 28, when Congress resumes
session after the Holy Week break.
practice, the Spratly Islands investigation will probably be assigned
to two committees: foreign relations committee for the constitutional
and legal aspects, and blue ribbon committee for the criminal aspect,”
Santiago said that the
2005 tripartite Joint Marine Seismic Understanding (JMSU) among the
Philippines, China, and Vietnam, raises the issue of whether it
violates the constitutional provision on Philippine sovereignty or
jurisdiction over defined national territory.
“A mere scientific or
technical cooperation agreement, which does not diminish or threaten
Philippine sovereignty or jurisdiction, is constitutional,” she said.
The JMSU will collect
data and information on the potential oil and gas reserves in the
area, planned to last for three years, at US$15 million.
Santiago said that
former Sen. Franklin Drilon, when he was justice secretary, issued a
1990 opinion stating it was “legally feasible” for the Philippines and
Australia to conduct a similar Offshore Seismic Project.
She quoted Drilon, who
ruled: “the project proposal which involves data-gathering,
processing, and interpretation techniques envisioned pre-exploration
activities which are not covered by constitutional limitations.”
“Drilon in 1990 said
that a seismic project with
was legally feasible. Now Drilon in 2008 is saying that a similar
seismic project with China could be a legal basis for impeaching
President Arroyo. He will have to explain his mental calisthenics
before the committee,” she said.
Santiago said that in
his 1990 opinion, Drilon stated that after completion of the seismic
project, “the President may enter into a service contract with a
wholly-owned Australian corporation for large-scale exploration,
development, and utilization of petroleum resources in accordance with
P.D. No. 87, and other pertinent laws.”
“In 1990, Drilon
approved not only the seismic project, but even a service contract
with a foreign country for the use of petroleum resources. By
contrast, in 2008, Drilon implies that a similar seismic project,
without a service contract is already illegal and exposes the
President to impeachment. This is a flip-flop that shows intellectual
inconsistency,” she said.
Santiago cited the
1992 ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea issued in
Manila, where ASEAN foreign ministers resolved, “without
prejudicing the sovereignty and jurisdiction of countries having
direct interests in the area, to explore the possibility of
cooperation in the
South China Sea
relating to the safety of maritime navigation and communication,
protection against pollution in the marine environment . . .”
Santiago said the 1992
Declaration was followed by the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the
Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which she said “is merely a
political declaration, without binding legal force, seeking to turn a
sea of disputes into a sea of cooperation, pursuant to the policy of
the late Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping.”
Deng advocated the
principle of “putting aside the disputes and jointly exploiting,” the
area of the South China Sea.
“There is a curious
question of timing. Since the pact was signed three years ago, why is
it only now that it is being assailed as alleged presidential
misconduct? What is the basis for the charge by a foreign writer that
it is an alleged sellout?” she said.
Santiago warned that
RP-China relations should not be dragged into the political fray,
noting that China has extended preferential loans to the Philippines
for various development programs, and is now the main financial
provider for Southeast Asia, ahead of the World Bank, the Asian
Development Bank, and aid programs from the US and Japan.
campaign should not be turned into an anti-China campaign. We should
consign power plays to the domestic arena. International relations
and diplomacy are too important to our national interest to be used as
partisan political ploys. It takes decades to build up good
interstate relations,” she said.
development, Santiago said that when Congress resumes on April 28, she
will release a Full Committee Report recommending conditional
concurrence with Jpepa.
committee report is only two pages, bearing the signatures of
committee members. But this time my committee report will be so
extensive that it will be a bound volume. Jpepa is an extraordinary
treaty, raising significant issues of constitutional and international
law,” she said.
Santiago said that
Jpepa committee report will comprise at least four documents: the
standard format with the signatures of nearly all 23 senators who are
members of the two committees; the draft Senate resolution setting out
the conditions for concurrence; the report on the constitutional and
legal issues filed by herself as chair of the foreign relations
committee; and the report on the trade and industry issues to be filed
by Sen. Mar Roxas as chair of the trade and commerce committee.
The senator said she
finished Jpepa hearings in November last year, but Sen. Edgardo Angara
requested additional hearings that took another month.
“In January, the
Senate could not take up Jpepa, because the budget always takes
priority. In February, it was overtaken by the NBN probe. This
March, there is an extended Congress break. That is why April, when
session resumes, is the earliest date available,” she said.
Santiago said she
hopes Japan will accept the conditions, without resubmitting the Jpepa
to the Japanese Diet or parliament.
issues are paramount. Hence, the Senate should ensure that the Supreme
Court will not declare Jpepa unconstitutional. If we do not take
scrupulous care in the Senate and the court declares it
unconstitutional, such declaration of unconstitutionality will not be
a valid defense, if
later sues the Philippines for nonperformance of contract obligation.
This is a provision of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties,”
the senator said.
Santiago will be
abroad until November this year, to campaign for the post of judge of
the International Court of Justice where, if elected by the United
Nations, she will be the only female among 15 judges elected worldwide
on the basis of the highest qualifications in international law.
But Santiago said she
plans to be in Manila when session resumes in April, so that she can
deliver her Jpepa sponsorship speech and defend it, as well as preside
over the Spratly Islands
hearing, before resuming her hectic campaign schedule abroad.
Relief operations to a
flooded Eastern Samar continues
By SENTAY B. QUITORIO
Samar – PAGCOR (Philippine amusement and Gaming Corporation)
conducted a 5-day Medical Mission side by side with a Relief Operation
following orders from the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It
started March 7 to end March 11, 2008 in identified priority
According to the
report of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development 40,859
families are affected, 17 dead, 4 missing, 31 injured as of press
time. While an estimated total damage cost at P199,308,926.50. PSWDO
also reported that these damages include that infrastructure,
agriculture and damage to personal properties. Further the social
welfare office confirmed that it is based on the reports submitted by
12 municipalities only, and that they are still waiting reports from
Presidential visit of PGMA last February 23, 2008 in Dolores, the
families of the victims of flood received 20 thousand pesos, and later
5 thousand pesos from Governor Ben P. Evardone. The provincial
government also distributed food packs as immediate answer to the
needs. While PGMA committed 200 million, half of it goes to Northern
Samar, to rehabilitate damages.
Governor Evardone and
the employees of the provincial government offered a “requiem” mass
for the eternal rest of the 17 victims of the flood.
Prior to these
operations of PAGCOR, Non-government Organizations, local catholic
church, private individuals and groups aside from government initiated
out-reach programs joined forces to provide immediate relief to the
victims of the calamity.
Teodulo M. Coquilla of the Lone District of Eastern Samar also
allocated P5 million worth of food packs distributed to affected
families and individuals all over the province followed by series of
medical missions in areas where there is an outbreak of diarrhea.
Coquilla also confirmed to have received help from colleagues in
and Governor Evardone received the relief goods and medicines from
PGMA through PAGCOR before it was airlifted by C130 at the Villamor
Airbase last March 6, 2008.
PAGCOR team headed
by Jun Evangelista confirmed that their team brought to the province
medicines and relief good for 10 thousand individuals. Governor Ben
Evardone and the social services prioritized recipients according to
accessibility. The recommended Barangays are along the rivers of
Dolores, Oras, Maydolong, Balangkayan, Borongan, Arteche and Can-avid.
flooded area in Eastern Samar (photo by
PNOC-AFC chair lauds
people of Basey in Samar for initiating jathropa farming
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte
– Philippine National Oil Company-Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC)
Chairman, Dr. Renato Velasco commended the people of Basey, Samar for
coming together to form Baktas Kabub’wason Association, the main
activity of which is planting of jathropa trees in support of
President Arroyo’s Alternative Fuels Program.
Chairman Velasco said
that the group (jathropa) in Basey is one of the most organized in the
Visayas. Most of the 51 barangays of the municipality have jathropa
planters already. The association has a management group which is
headed by Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce who is the commanding officer of the
62nd Infantry Battalion based in Basey, Samar.
The group is being
supported by the local government unit, the military and several
government agencies, Chairman Velasco said. The local government has
pledge to plant jathropa in at least 5,000 hectares of land in the
disclosed that the local government unit and the PNOC-AFC could forge
a memorandum of agreement whereby partnerships and assistance will be
given the jathropa group on a long term basis of 15 years.
If the group is able
to plant 5,000 hectares of jathropa and there is assurance of
sustainability of supply, then the PNOC-AFC can set up a buying center
in the municipality.
assured the planters that the PNOC-AFC will buy all the seeds they
will harvest. He cautioned them though to be careful with the choice
of variety of jathropa to plant because there are varieties which give
higher yield of oil.
Starting with 12
barangays when the project was officially launched in June of 2007,
Chairman Velasco lauded that almost all the 51 barangays are already
planting, six months after the launching.
Chairman Velasco was
in Basey on March 8, as the Guest in the first General Assembly and
Jathropa Seminar of the Baktas Kabub’wason Association.
Lt. Col. Ponce
informed that Baktas Kabub’wason means Walk for the Future. He said
that the project was conceptualized to provide the people in Basey,
alternative livelihood. The people readily accepted the idea because
they will be able to harvest the fruits, 6 months or 8 months after
planting. Besides, jathropa continuously bears fruits. It is hoped
that this will solve the poverty problem in this part of the country.
Biliran tops national
poverty incidence improvement for 2006
By RAY P. GASPAY
CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar
– The province of Biliran has marked the highest improvement against
poverty in the country for 2006 with an improvement rating of 15.1%
from that of 2003 according to the latest 2006 Philippine Poverty
Statistics released on Wednesday by the National Statistical
Coordination Board (NSCB).
dramatically to the top post from being ranked 75 in 2003 followed by
the provinces of Siquijor and Quirino who were then in rank 61 and 25
respectively of the same year.
In Region 8, Northern
Samar dropped significantly to rank 77 from rank 30 in 2003,
Eastern Samar to rank 68 from rank 12 in 2003,
Leyte to rank 63 from
rank 50 in 2003, Samar to rank 36 from rank 26 in 2003, while Southern
Leyte has improved to rank 14 from rank 67 in 2003.
For poverty situation
in 2006, Biliran improved to 31.4% from 46.5% in 2003, while Southern
Leyte has improved to 29.0% from 31.9% in 2003. The province of Samar
has slightly worsen its poverty situation in 2006 to 40.2% from 38.7%
in 2003, Leyte has worsen to 40.5% from 34.6% in 2003, Eastern Samar
to 42.7% from 33.9% in 2003, while the big casualty is Northern Samar
to 52.2% from 33.8 in 2003.
remained to be the least poor province in Eastern Visayas while Northern Samar is a
new entrant in the ten poorest provinces in 2006 at rank 7 along with
other new entrants of Tawi-Tawi (rank 1), Apayao (rank 4), Lanao del
Sur (rank 6) and Abra (rank 9).
Tawi-Tawi was listed
the poorest province in 2006 with 8 out of 10 families classified as
poor. Provinces that remained among the 10 poorest provinces from 2003
to 2006 were Zamboanga del Norte (rank 2), Maguindanao (rank 3),
Surigao del Norte (rank 5), Masbate (rank 8) and Misamis Occidental
In the national level
however, poverty worsened from 2003 to 2006. Poverty incidence
increased to 26.9% for families in 2006 compared to 24.4% in 2003.
This is however lower than the 27.5 % poverty incidence in 2000. In
terms of poverty incidence among population, out of 100 Filipinos, 33
were poor in 2006, compared to 30 in 2003.
board defines “poor” as those who cannot afford basic needs for food,
health, education, housing and other social amenities. The poverty
threshold refers to the cost of minimum basic needs, food and nonfood.
The statistical board said a Filipino family of five needed a monthly
income of P6,274 in 2006 to stay out of poverty. For Metro Manila,
where the cost of living is higher, a family of five needs P8,569
monthly income to keep out poverty.
Ranking of Provinces in
Region 8 in Terms of Improvement in the Poverty Incidence Among
Families from 2000 to 2006
Rank in terms of
| Southern Leyte
| Eastern Samar
| Northern Samar
Statistical Coordination Board
DENR 8 hosted national
budget reprogramming workshop 2008
By PURIFICACION S. DALOOS
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte
– Almost two hundred participants coming from all regional offices of
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the
country have converged at the Leyte Park Hotel in Tacloban City on
February 28 to March 1, 2008, to formulate the fiscal year 2008 work
and financial plan.