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NOV (07-18) 2008 TACLOBAN NEWS
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BREAKING NEWS / TACLOBAN REGION

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Nov 18, 2008

PA calls for more debates on pros and cons of HUC

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- With just one month before the plebiscite, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Eastern Visayas has called for a more extensive public discussion of the pros and cons of Tacloban's reclassification to a highly urbanized city (HUC)

Secretary Cynthia Nierras pointed out that there is still enough time to discuss about the advantages and disadvantages of reclassification from being a component city.

"There were questions raised that need clarifications. I am encouraging the media and other groups to discuss about it to give people the proper input," Nierras said.

Nierras, who assumed post November 3, 2008, expressed support to the city's bid for reclassification as the Office of the President has already declared in favor of the city's bid. The bid, however, demands for unity and good planning, she added.

"The Office of the President also wants to give respect and importance to what the views of the Taclobanons would be. That proclamation is subject to confirmation of all the people. If the people agree that Tacloban becomes an HUC, our office is there to give full support," Nierras said during the weekly media forum at the Leyte Park Hotel on Saturday.

The newly appointed alter ego of the President for Region 8 aired her observation that it is normal if there are opposing views about the HUC bid since this is the first time that Tacloban applied for reclassification.

"President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo supports a growing city who is aspiring to manage themselves. It's like in the home where we have to let growing children to decide for their own," Nierras stressed.

Pro-HUC group claimed that the reclassification would spur growth as it will attract investors. Anti-HUC group, on the other hand, said that the conversion would pave the way for rising of taxes.

The Office of the President issued a proclamation October 4, 2008 declaring Tacloban as HUC. The declaration will be ratified through a plebiscite set by the Commission on Elections on December 18, 2008.






Nov 17, 2008

EO 756 transfers MacArthur Park Beach Resort supervision from PTA to Province of Leyte

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The 43-room MacArthur Park Beach Resort, one of the best hotels in Region 8 which is now under the Philippine Tourism Authority, will soon be under the management of the Provincial Government of Leyte.

This is contained in Executive Order No. 756 which was signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on October 2, 2008, upon the request of Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho L. Petilla.

It was learned that although the Resort is now being managed by the Philippine Tourism Authority, the more than five-hectares land where the Resort is situated, is owned by the Provincial Government of Leyte.

Under the Executive Order, the Provincial Government of Leyte " shall have full control of the operations, management, maintenance and further development" of the MacArthur Park Beach Resort.

Initial reports coming from reliable sources stated that the Provincial Government have plans to rehabilitate and improve the hotel. The Provincial Government of Leyte is reportedly looking for some private partners in this endeavor.

The Executive Order underscored that all the personnel of the hotel who are currently under the Philippine Tourism Authority, "shall be transferred to the provincial government," which have the prerogative to rationalize the personnel complement in accordance with Civil Service rules and regulations.

Situated along the historic Red Beach, site of one of the greatest naval battles in history, MacArthur Park Beach Resort is a " Class A Resort " which is just a stone's throw away from the MacArthur Landing Memorial.

Situated in a 5-hectare property, the Resort has rooms all tastefully decorated with native materials. There are 43 aircon rooms with cable T.V., telephones, private toilet and bath with hot/cold running water. Also among its facilities are two swimming pools, conference rooms and ballroom dancing every Fridays and Saturdays.






Nov 17, 2008

SEQUESTERED PROPERTY:
Leyte takes over Imelda-built resort

By Joey A. Gabieta

Inquirer.net - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed the provincial government to take over the management and operations of a P100-million beach resort built by then First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos in the town of Palo, Leyte, and sequestered by the government after the Edsa Revolution in 1986.

The 43-room MacArthur Park Beach Resort is considered among the two top hotels in Eastern Visayas. The other is Leyte Park Resort, which was also built by the widow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and government-sequestered but is now being managed by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), Assets Privatization Trust and provincial government.

Provincial administrator Vincent Emnas said the President issued Executive Order No. 756 on Oct. 2, which transferred the management of MacArthur Park Beach Resort from the PTA to the provincial government upon the request of Gov. Jericho Petilla.

Starting January next year, Emnas said the provincial government would take over the hotel, located several meters from the MacArthur National Shrine in Candahug, Palo. The hotel, named after the legendary American general who helped liberate the country from Japanese invaders, was built on a three-hectare lot owned by the provincial government.

Private operation

Although the MacArthur Park Beach Resort was built by Imelda in 1983, it was run by a private group called Island Corp., according to Jane Quisumbing, the hotel's human resources chief. In 1994, the PTA took over the management and operations of the hotel.

On Friday, personnel from the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) were seen taking away Chinese jars, tables, chairs, a grand piano and other items. One of them said the items would be stored at the PCGG office.

A senior officer of the hotel, who asked not to be identified because of lack of authority to deal with the media, said the items were "borrowed" by the PTA from the Sto. Niño Shrine, a sequestered property of the Romualdez family, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Leyte Landings in 1994 attended by then President Fidel V. Ramos.

Under the new management, all revenues will go to the provincial treasury and will be used for hotel maintenance, operations and management, EO 756 said.

Emnas said the provincial government intended to rehabilitate the hotel and would look for private partners.

All 50 regular and three casual employees hired by the PTA will be under the provincial government, which Emnas said might "rationalize the personnel complement in accordance with the civil service rules and regulations."

But a senior hotel officer, who asked not to be identified for fear of risking his job, said the employees were apprehensive about the turnover because they might not enjoy the same benefits.






Nov 17, 2008

Tacloban plebiscite set Dec. 18

By Joey A. Gabieta

Inquirer.net - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Commission on Elections has set for Dec. 18 the holding of a plebiscite to decide on whether Tacloban should be reclassified from a component city into a highly urbanized one.

In an en banc resolution issued on Nov. 12, the Comelec also directed that an "objective" information campaign be conducted by various sectors, including the city government, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 16, said city elections officer Susan Collamar.

The Comelec would now focus on readying the list of registered voters and names of those who would serve as members of the board of elections inspectors, Collamar said.

She said the city elections office would encourage the residents to exercise their right to vote "yes" or "no" to Tacloban's conversion into a highly urbanized city.

The city government has allocated P7 million taken from savings of various departments for the special election.

The Comelec resolution also specified that only voters registered during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Oct. 29, 2007, would be eligible to cast their votes during the plebiscite.

Based on the records of the city elections office, Tacloban has 107,078 registered voters.






Nov 14, 2008

Former President Estrada observes 'tremendous improvement' in Tacloban

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- No less than former President Joseph Estrada has noticed the growth of Tacloban as a city, an observation that came at a time that city officials are pushing for its conversion into a highly urbanized city.

The former President said that during his last visit in the city, there was nothing much activities and development as compared to other cities in the country.

"The last time I was here was about 10 years ago and I could say that Tacloban has improved tremendously. I would like to congratulate Mayor Romualdez," Estrada said, referring to former Mayor Alfredo "Bejo" Romualdez.

Estrada, who was once the mayor of San Juan, also made some endorsement on the bid of Tacloban to join the country's super cities, saying that since his last visit to the city many good things have happened.

He also said that problems like illegal dwellers are just expected to be experienced by a growing city like Tacloban.

"This is because there is no job opportunities in our countrysides," the former President, who is in the region for a three-day visit, said.

The bid of Tacloban to become an HUC was also supported by Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay who also echoed the observation of former President Estrada, saying that the city qualifies to become an HUC.
The Makati city mayor said that there are advantages that Tacloban and its people could enjoy once the city becomes a highly urbanized city.

"There will be increase of revenue and independence of leadership as they will be directly responsible to the people," the mayor of the country's premier finance center said.

He said that with the share on internal revenue allotment going to the city alone, services and projects intended for the people would also improve.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez is spearheading the reclassification move of Tacloban to become the region's first highly urbanized city, saying that aside from the fact that it already meet all the requirements, this will encourage more investors to relocate in the city.

He said that with Tacloban becoming an HUC, better services and more programs that would benefit the people could be expected.

"We'll have bigger budget which will enable us to address our problems like drainage, employment and health, among others," he said.

President Macapagal-Arroyo had already declared Tacloban as an HUC but said presidential proclamation still needs to be validated through a plebiscite scheduled by the Commission on Elections on Dec. 18.

Meantime, the father of Mayor Romualdez, "Bejo" described those who are opposing the HUC bid of Tacloban as "unpatriotic."

According to the former city mayor, who first initiated on the HUC bid of this city when he was its chief executive, it is but expected for the residents of Tacloban to approve the reclassification as this would benefit them.

"I consider it unpatriotic who are against the HUC bid of Tacloban. There is no other reason why we are pushing for Tacloban become an HUC; it's for the good of our people and nothing else. Why stifle its development?," the father of the incumbent mayor said.






Nov 14, 2008

Makati City Mayor favors Tacloban HUC status

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Opposition leader and chief executive of the country's major central business district Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay favors the bid of Tacloban to be a highly urbanized city citing its benefits.

Binay, who was with former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada in his provincial sorties, said that once the city will be converted into an HUC "it will have all the advantages of being a local government unit."

"The city will not anymore contribute revenues to the provincial government. Whatever you raised in the HUC is the revenue of HUC. For the purposes of administrative control, the city will not be anymore under the provincial government," he said.

Binay told the media that the city government's independence from the provincial leadership is advantageous considering that the province caters the needs of other cities and municipalities.

"Unlike being an HUC, you will be separated...and therefore chances are for efficiency and effectivity, there will be better delivery of services and more than that, the city will be independent. I always favor conversion of LGUs to higher categories," he added.

The city mayor reminded the city government to prepare for population growth due to migration to urban areas.

"This will attract poor people to move your area. This is a consequence of growth addressing the problem will depend on priorities and how to govern it," Binay stressed.

Binay, who has been mayor of the country's major central business district for 19 years, made the announcement the other day that he will run for President. The announcement coincided with the mayor's 66th birthday celebration at Makati's city hall.

Estrada also noted the improvement of the city since the last time he visited Tacloban before he was jailed for plunder charges.

"I was here 10 years ago. I'm happy to be back. I can see the improvement of Tacloban. I want to congratulate the local government," the former president said.

The Commission on Elections en banc ruled out on Tuesday to set the plebiscite date for HUC on December 18, 2008.






Nov 13, 2008

Comelec: Tacloban HUC plebiscite day is Dec. 18

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- As the Commission on Elections scheduled the plebiscite for the HUChood of the city on December 18, its elections officer here issued an appeal to contending parties campaigning for and against the conversion to refrain from issuing personal attacks.

The December 18 plebiscite was scheduled during an en banc session of the commissioners of the Comelec held last Tuesday, according to City Elections Officer Susan Collamar.

"But we have yet to receive copy of the (resolution)," Collamar said yesterday.

Thus, Collamar said, she could not say yet as to when the campaign period would start. "But the campaign period is only for 15 days," she said.

The city elections officer said that she received a telephone call from Director Bartolome Sino-Cruz, Jr., deputy executive director for operations, informing her that the Comelec en banc had scheduled the plebiscite on December 18.

City Mayor Alfred Romualdez yesterday left for Manila to personally get a copy of the said Comelec en banc resolution saying he had to know the details of the said resolution.

With the schedule of the plebiscite now fixed, they would now focus on preparing the needed activities like readying the list of registered voters and names of those who would serve as members of the board of elections inspectors, among others, Collamar said.

"We will also conduct some information dissemination campaign that the plebiscite for the conversion (of Tacloban) into a highly urbanized city is on December 18 and that they should go out and vote whether they are for ‘yes' or ‘no'," the city elections officer said.

It was learned from Collamar that the budget for the holding of the plebiscite was P7 million which was provided by the city government.

She said that the cost for the holding of special elections is funded by the local government units seeking for the holding of such electoral exercise unlike a regular election, which is funded by the Comelec.

Collamar, meantime, issued her appeal to those who are campaigning for or against the conversion of Tacloban into a HUC to refrain from resorting to personal attacks.

"There is no candidate here. The campaign must focus on issues related to the conversion of Tacloban into a highly urbanized city. Any personal attacks must not be resorted by those who are for or against the conversion," she stressed.

The reclassification of Tacloban into an HUC had resulted to personal attacks both coming from those who support and oppose the conversion.

Several members of the city council, for one, have resorted to personal attacks and name calling made during press conferences and media interviews.

Mayor Romualdez, however, said that he would not stop anyone who talks against the reclassification.
"But what I don't appreciate is that these minority are peddling lies against the HUC," the city mayor said, referring to council members who are openly campaigning against the conversion.






Nov 12, 2008

Another group endorses HUC

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Tacloban Meat Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TMVMPC) has endorsed the bid of Tacloban to be reclassified as a highly-urbanized city (HUC).

In a Manifesto of Support and board resolution, the TMVMPC also expressed its gratitude to Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez for his tireless and determined efforts to improve the quality of life in the city.

The manifesto and Board Resolution No. 04-2008, which were signed by TMVMPC members and officers, were issued at the end of a special meeting of the organization held recently at the 3rd Floor RR Apostol Arcade, this city.

TMVMPC Chairman Elizalde Ladrera said the manifesto and board resolution expressed the organization's wholehearted and strong support to the bid.

"Nagpapakita ito nga manifesto ngan resolusyon hit amon hul-os nga suporta hini nga ginduduso ni Mayor Romualdez nga pagigin HUC hit syudad, nga nakikita namon nga maupay ngan dako it mabubulig ha syudad ngan mga residente hini," Ladrera stressed.

Mayor Romualdez, who is pushing the city's bid, said that HUC-hood would mean more investors coming to the city, additional policemen in the streets, creation of a lone congressional district, and bigger budget and Internal revenue Allotment (IRA) share for the city.

Ladrera then noted and thanked the mayor for readily addressing the problems faced by meat vendors in the city and for his efforts to improve the economy and reduce poverty in the city.

"Kada may napaplanohan kami nga proyekto suporta dayon hi mayor, ngan kun mayda kami mga problema, naaksyon dayon hi mayor para masulbar ito," Ladrera said.

The declaration of TMVMPC, an organization composed meat vendors in the city, followed statements of support to the city's bid coming from different sectors, businessmen, various organizations, political leaders, and regional heads of national agencies.

Among those who have declared their support to the city's bid were the League of Cities in the Philippines (LCP), Regional Development Council (RDC), representatives Emil Ong of Northern Samar, Glenn Chong of Biliran, Roger Mercado of Southern Leyte Department Of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Director William Paler, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Director Forter Puguon, and Desiderio Belas, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had issued a proclamation on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. The declaration officially takes effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite by the city's qualified voters. The plebiscite is tentatively scheduled to be held on December 6 this year.






Nov 12, 2008

Tourism Management Plan of EV to be presented today in RDC meet

By Miriam Garcia Desacada

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Today's Regional Development Council meeting is set to listen to the presentation of the so-called "Sustainable Tourism Management Plan for Cetral Philippines Super Region" as the present Arroyo administration has been in focus for the tourism development not only in this region but all throughout the country's tourist destinations identified as potential tourism business.

DOT regional director Karina Rosa Tiopes said this program that will be presented before the members of the RDC in Eastern Visayas is actually a plan for strategic development in the country under the present regime of President Gloria Arroyo which would be a guide for the stakeholders to create tourism-related activities in identified tourist potential destinations.

She said in Region 8 under this sustainable tourism management plan for Central Philippines Super Region, at least seven strategic destination areas were identified under this program as director Tiopes will mention in her report to RDC's meeting this afternoon tourism development areas in Samar-Leyte interface, Ormoc area, Northern Leyte-Biliran, SouthEastern Samar Island specifically in Guiuan, Sogod Bay area and the Catarman-Allen area.

She said that for Samar Leyte interface, where Tacloban City is the provincial capital and gateway for Leyte island (including Southern Leyte province) and parts of Samar island close to the San Juanico bridge, attraction around this city include the Santo Nino Shrine and heritage center, the Leyte landing memorial in Palo and other sites related to Gen. MacArthur's landing during World War II, in this area the Sohoton natural park across San Juanico strait from Tacloban in Samar, which contains a complex of caves, a forest and rivers.

In Ormoc since their port is facing the Camotes Sea, it has become a provincial hub on the western side of Leyte of its protected harbor, some of their resort areas catering leisure and business visitors from Cebu, aside from their Lake Danao national park on the hills just east of Ormoc and the Leyte gulf and the country club.

While in South Eastern Samar like in Guian, surfing and other water activities has been given focus by the government as earlier declared one of the country's best surfing area., and in Northern Leyte more on dive sites island hopping in Northern Samar , their marine protected area of Biri , Las Rosas islands which has good snorkeling and dives sites.

Under this program according to Tiopes after identifying the potential for tourism development, Local Government Units can now make their plans and priorities on the needs in pushing through the tourism industry from their areas of concern.

"So, the LGUs and the private sector can sit down and make their plans for development of identifies tourist destination what activities they would like to project", Tiopes said.

She however admitted that Eastern Visayas has a lot of tourist destination yet the problem some these areas are not yet developed which is the main reason that until now it is not ready for any market.

What she had emphasized because large number of Local Government Units LGUs in the region begun to realized and appreciate the importance of tourism industry and the direct benefit of tourism.

Tiopes however revealed that from the past five years there is a continued increase of tourist arrivals in the region.

From the initial date obtained by this paper, the last second quarter from this year, the DOT has recorded some 74,045 both domestic and foreign arrivals who visited from the different tourist destination in the region.

She is hoping a more number of tourists to visit in the coming years.

The central Philippines will be a significant destination that offers direct international access, seamless interconnectivity, world class tourist facilities and products that meet the demands of tomorrow's tourists as will achieve these through the sustainable development of tourism production underpinned by adequate, infrastructure with rational management to the destinations, capacity building, investment promotion, effective marketing and an improved business environment.






Nov 12, 2008

State-of-the-art auto mechanic training center rises in Region 8

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The newly-built TESDA Auto Mechanic Training Center which stands not only as a beautiful landmark in Tacloban City but as an edifice symbolizing quality education and better future for the Filipino youth, is now ready for inauguration on November 18, 2008, TESDA 8 Regional Director Juan M. Sabulao, Jr. informed.

The Training Center is a training facility complete with the equipment requirement for the training of Automotive Service Technicians from National Certificate Level I up to National Certificate Level IV, the highest level of qualification in the Automotive sector in the country, Director Sabulao said.

The Training Center complex consist of a two-storey 1,656 sq. meter workshop with a complete set of training equipment and tools, a 160-bed capacity dormitory for men and women, a spic-and-span cafeteria, and recreational facilities.

This is supported by Izuso Motors Ltd. Japan through the Heart and Smile Project, and Plan Japan and Plan Philippines from the preliminary stage of the project, both financially and technically.

The Training Center which is the only one in the country, aims to train Filipino youth from poor rural communities to become highly skilled automotive service technicians that respond to the growing needs in the country.

The Filipino youth who will be chosen to train at the Training Center will enjoy scholarship with full accommodation, daily meals, complete set of training uniforms and training supply.

The scholars will have National Certificate Level I to IV and will be competent to deal with even the latest models of vehicles in the market, Director Sabulao said.

The training course will have 30 youth as First Batch Scholars. They are expected to graduate from the Training Center with National Level IV after two years, to get a job as a mechanic.






Nov 12, 2008

APAC conducts recruitment job fair for first provincial site in Leyte

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Illinois-based APAC Customer Services, Inc. is set to conduct a Recruitment Job Fair on November 14 to 16 at the SMED Center, Capitol Grounds, Tacloban City, Ms. Nizette V. Navia, Director for Administrative Services and Facilities, informed.

Ms. Navia said that APAC Customer Services is opening its first provincial site in the province of Leyte.. Already, APAC is already building a state-of-the-art facility at the ICT Park in Palo, Leyte that will house over a thousand employees and is scheduled to be operational in January of 2009.

This early, APAC is already in the process of hiring employees for both managerial and representative posts, targeting to hire about 150 people within this month.

On October 23 and 24, APAC conducted a Jobs Fair at Luxury Suites in Tacloban City, for supervisory and managerial positions.

A motorcade scheduled on November 13, 3:00 o'clock in the evening will kick-off the Recruitment Job Fair, Ms. Navia said. The motorcade will start and end at the SMED Center, she added.

The Leyte call center would only be the start of the company's five-year expansion in the country where 80% of its growth will be in the provinces.

The company has 9,000 employees, 4,000 of whom are in the US, and the rest scattered over its three Philippine sites, two in Alabang in Muntinlupa and another in Quezon City.

APAC Customer Services, Inc. is a leading provider of customer care services and solutions for Fortune 500 market leaders in healthcare, financial services, business services, publishing, travel and hospitality, and communications. APAC partners with its clients to deliver value-added solutions designed to enhance bottom line performance by serving their customer service needs.

APAC is publicly held (Nasdaq: APAC) with nearly 35 years of experience and more than 8,300 professional contact management employees across the U.S. and the Philippines. APAC is looking for candidates to fill both full-time and part-time positions. The company has job openings year-round with additional opportunities available during the holiday season.

In addition to their customer call management sites across the U.S (visit their website to view locations) APAC also has a growing atHOMETM program which allows some of their employees to work from home while serving the customer care requirements of their clients.






Nov 11, 2008

Ai-Ai assures fans of fun-filled concert in Tacloban City

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- For the first time in the history of the city's concert scene, the acknowledged Comedy Concert Queen Ai-Ai de las Alas will hold a concert this Saturday.

And in the words of Comedy Concert Queen herself, the concert will not only showcase her singing prowess but more so, hilarious acts that would help "change the country's economy."

"The concert will be fun-filled. I and Peachy will make some funny antics as I will do some steamy number with Diet," she said in an email.

Ms. Ai-Ai was referring to her guests, Diether Ocampo, her co-Kapamilya star, and Rufa Mae Quinto, whom she just co-starred of the box-office hit movie "Pasukob."

The first ever concert in the city of the Comedy Concert Queen is slated this November 15 at the more than 4,500 capacity Tacloban Convention Center tickets of which are sold at popular prices in selected ticket outlets.

She said that the concert will run for two hours wherein she will do some classic Original Pilipino Music; rock and fast songs and novelty songs.

"This is my very special concert for the Taclobanons," Ms. Ai-Ai, who is also one of the best actresses in the country, said.

Ms. Ai-Ai, who is a Kapamilya star, recently finished her fantasy series "Volta" and is wrapping up a sequel to her very successful film, "Ang Tanging Ina Ninyo Lahat."

She also popularized some novelty songs, namely, "Dance-phabet," "Tong Twalya," "Si Manloloko" and "Super Papa."

Ms. Ai-Ai, this early, has made a personal assurance to those who will watch her concert this Saturday that the peso that they will spent will all be worth it.

"Expect to laugh and laugh and laugh more," the country's comedy concert queen said who is also known for her unusual yet fabulous fashion sense.





Nov 10, 2008

Mayor Romualdez vows to double allowance of teachers in Tacloban City

By Lemuel L. Pagilawan

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- City Mayor Alfred Romualdez has pledged to double the allowance of public school teachers here once Tacloban turns highly urbanized.

In a consultative meeting held at the Tacloban Convention Center Friday afternoon, Romualdez said he has already ordered to increase the city allowance of all teachers under the division of Tacloban City starting next year.

"Meron na akong utos na doblehin ang city allowance ninyo simula next year, 2009," he said to a crowd of more than a thousand teachers, supervisors and principals from the Department of Education (DepEd) that attended the meeting.

Teachers assigned in schools situated in the downtown area or nearby are presently receiving P700 as city allowance while those assigned in far-flung villages like in the northern barangays are being given more or less P2,000 including the so-called hazard pay.

Romualdez said this increase should be implemented once the city achieves a re-classification from a component city to a highly urbanized one as these teachers or educators play a vital role in shaping the kind of people in a community.

"Teachers play almost the same role with that of parents as you are with our children almost everyday molding them into the type of citizens we want them to become in the future," Romualdez said.

He said once the city becomes highly urbanized next year, greater responsibility and higher level of quality service is expected from the teachers that's why it is but fitting to increase their allowances being given by the city on top of their basic salaries.

Although Romualdez is urging the public school teachers to spread the HUChood gospel to other Taclobanons, he was, however, silent if this pledge of increasing the city allowance of teachers would serve as an "exchange-deal" thing for YES votes in the coming plebiscite tentatively scheduled this Dec. 6.

He said this increase would definitely just serve as a motivation to our teachers to attain higher level of quality education for our children in the coming years as Tacloban moves on to further improvements.
Meantime, the non-teaching personnel of DepEd here are also asking the city mayor to consider their allowances this time which Romualdez promised to look into immediately.






Nov 08, 2008

50-centavo fare rollback takes effect in E. Visayas

By Sarwell Q. Meniano

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has called on commuters to take part in monitoring the 50-centavo fare rollback that took effect in the region yesterday for public utility jeepneys and buses.

LTFRB Regional Director Arthur Saipudin that their board in Metro Manila has ordered for a P0.50 fare reduction for the first five kilometers. The board, however, did not grant a "provisional reduction" in the succeeding kilometers.

"This is just provisionary. There might be rollback in the future if oil prices will continue to drop," Saipudin said in an interview.

In Tacloban, the LTFRB has been implementing a P7.50 minimum fare for jeepneys and multicabs. With the reduction, the new rate will be P7.

"This is good news for our commuters. I am appealing the public to give us information if there are violations on this order. If drivers will impose higher rates than prescribed in the order, passengers can file a complaint before our office," he said.

But for some passengers, the P0.50 reduction has no impact considering that fuel significantly reduced over the past months.

Armen Cabanatan, a commuter said, that the common problem is that if passengers gave P10 or P8, some of the drivers have no extra 50 centavos as change.

"If I have many one peso coins, I just pay P7 because some drivers won't give us change," Cabanatan said. Like other passengers, she called for a P1 reduction to feel the effect of rollback.

Prompted by "dramatic drop" of oil prices in the world market, the National Council for Commuters Protection Inc. earlier filed a petition before the LTFRB office seeking for cut of transport fares.

The group claimed that oil prices went down from the amount of more than $140 per barrel to the "most welcome low" of over $50 per barrel of Dubai crude.

The board, however, has not yet makes a final decision on the fare reduction demand but they issued a provisional authority to reduce fare rates.

Saipudin said that even with the series of oil price rollback over the past months, they have not received any formal petition for fare reduction from commuters in Eastern Visayas.

"This Board being a regulatory agency for the people is duty bound to act accordingly by immediately ordering the downward adjustment of fare rates especially when so warranted by favorable events in the world market," the order stated.

Meanwhile, in its order, the LTFRB board reminded bus and jeepneys operators and drivers to grant fare discounts to senior citizens of not less than 20% of the provisionally rate. Students are also entitled of the same benefits.

"The fare discount of not less than 20% of the provisionally adjusted fares shall also apply to disabled persons," said Saipudin quoting the order.






Nov 08, 2008

Tacloban businessman expresses support for HUC bid

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The reclassification bid of the city continued to gather support, with a prominent businessman, who is also the president of a civic organization in the city, among the latest to endorse the move to convert Tacloban into a highly-urbanized city (HUC).

In an interview, businessman Edwin Mañas, who owns the Stephanies Smoke Haus, a high-end restaurant in the city, expressed his all-out support to the bid of the city.

The businessman's endorsement followed the public announcement of support to the bid by Population Commission (POPCOM) OIC- Regional Director Susan Tejada and Palo Mayor Teddy Sevilla.

"I am for it as it would lead to further economic development. There would be an influx of investors coming to the city and there would be more jobs for Taclobanons. Many fellow businessmen and club members I have talked to also said they are in favor of the move for the same reasons. said Mañas, who is also president of the Tacloban Host Lion's Club.

"I don't believe the notion that businesses here will suffer with the arrival of investors from the outside. Local businesses will survive and flourish with the influx of investments expected as a result of HUC-hood," he added.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is pushing for the conversion of Tacloban into an HUC on grounds that it would further attract investors. The mayor said that investors out up businesses on areas where there are big populations.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had issued a proclamation on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. The declaration officially takes effect only upon ratification in a plebiscite by the city's qualified voters. The plebiscite is tentatively scheduled to be held on the first week of December.

Meantime, the Tacloban Host Lion's Club headed by Mañas and the Rotary Club of Kandaya led by Kathy Añover-Bonavitacola joined City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez in the successful planting yesterday of bougainvilleas in the "concrete island" in the middle of the road leading to the Tacloban DZR Airport.

The planting, which was graced by Miss Tacloban 2008 Sushiela Kumar, and other Lions and Rotary Club members, was held as part of the "Ciudad Mahusay" and "Limpyo Tacloban" beautification programs spearheaded by Councilor Romualdez.

"We will conduct similar activities in other parts of the city in the coming days. I'm calling on the Taclobanons to join us and give their full support to this campaign," Councilor Romualdez said.






Nov 07, 2008

German nat'l suspected of possessing 'ingredients' for making explosives

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

CAMP KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte - Police operatives in Leyte seized some items believed to be "ingredients" in making explosives inside the house of a German national.

Members of the Explosive Ordnance and Disposal team from the regional office of the Philippine National Police raided the house of the foreigner located in a village of Albuera town.

The raid, conducted last November 3, resulted to the recovery of several items said to be "components/ ingredients of a destructive bomb."

These alleged components include potassium sorbate (350-1 kilo); gelatin (150- 250 grams) and bentonite (15 kilograms). The identities of these chemicals were written on a white paper, purportedly made by the German national.

Also recovered from the house of Himmelsbach were 2 pieces of graduate cylinder; laptop; wash bottles; piece of bond paper with marking "arauner kizingen."

The raid, led by PO2 Romulo Ayo, was by virtue of a search warrant issued by Judge Lauro Castillo, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 36 based in Carigara, Leyte, issued on October 31, 2008.

The German national, however, was not around during the raid. But barangay council members Crispo Reforzado and Amado Bernandino witnessed the raid conducted by the police operatives.

All the items seized are now in the possession of the regional crime laboratory for further analysis.

A senior police official, who asked not to be named, said that they have to wait the result of the laboratory analysis before they could take any legal action against the German national.

"We have to wait first to the result of the analysis conducted on the (seized) items before we could do legal actions," he said.

"But we are monitoring his movements," he said, in response to a question on the possibility that the German national might flee from the country to avoid any possible prosecution.

The result on the analysis of the seized items is expected to come within this week.

The senior police official also said that they were assured by the wife of the German national to provide them any information regarding her husband's activities and movements.

He admitted that they have yet to coordinate with the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation regarding the case of the suspect.

It was not clear why the German has in his possession all these alleged components of an explosives. The seized items were stored inside his room at their house in Albuera, where he has been living for eight years now.

The identity of the German national has been withheld pending the filing of formal charges against him.






Nov 07, 2008

Cristina urges Taclobanons to vote 'yes' to HUC-hood

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Saying it would bring more progress and development, City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez appealed to residents of the city to support the bid of Tacloban to become a highly-urbanized city (HUC) in the coming plebiscite.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had issued a proclamation on October 4 declaring Tacloban as an HUC. But the declaration has to be validated through a plebiscite whether or not the city's residents would want for Tacloban to be reclassified into an HUC.

The plebiscite is tentatively scheduled to be held on December 6 this year.

Speaking during a recent gathering in Brgy. Nula-Tula, this city, Councilor Romualdez urged Taclobanons to go out and support the city's bid.

"This move is for the good of the city and its residents. Kaya, bumoto kayo ng "yes," Councilor Romualdez said.

According to Councilor Romualdez, who is strongly supporting the bid of the city, HUC-hood would bring many benefits and advantages to Taclobanons.

Among the advantages enumerated by the city councilor were the creation of more departments in the city government, bigger budget and Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share, creation of a lone congressional district, and additional policemen that will maintain peace and order in the city.

"Also, it would mean that livelihood programs now implemented by the city government could be expanded to include additional courses that would benefit more Taclobanons, especially indigents, women, and out-of-school youths (OSY)," she pointed out.

Meanwhile, Councilor Romualdez inducted into office the new officers of the Cristina's Learn and Earn Food Processing and Cosmetology class.

Sworn into office were Cresilda Bailosis, president; Randy Villena, vice president; Eleuteria Labanta, secretary; Blanche Galangue, treasurer; Dylinda Gastones, auditor; Rowena Abarquez and Elvie Llabore, PIO.






Nov 07, 2008

LWUA won't grant Tacloban franchise to operate new water destrict, says Pichay

By Miriam Garcia Desacada

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The No.7 propaganda of the city government of Tacloban City on its campaign for HUC that they will put up its own water district bounches back against the city government as a top official of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) recently said that the city government of Tacloban cannot put up its own water district.

LWUA Chairman Prospero "Butch" Pichay said their agency cannnot grant anymore a franchise to the city government of Tacloban when it puts up its own water district as there is already an existing water district covering the city.

"We will not grant anymore a franchise," Chairman Pichay said in an interview in Boracay island, Malay, Aklan after his speech during the Boracay Media Summit at the Boracay Regency Hotel October 30,2008.

Pichay said they cannot anymore issue a franchise to the city government of Tacloban to put up a new water district as there is already an existing water district servicing the water needs of Tacloban City.
Aside from securing a franchise to operate a water district, it would also incur a huge amount of money for the setting up of a separate water district for the city.

At present, the entire city of Tacloban is serviced by the Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD) where its officials are appointed by Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho L. Petilla.

The plan to put up a water district by the city government of Tacloban is one of the campaign promise of the city officials who want to separate from the provincial government of Leyte as Tacloban City has applied as Highly Urbanized City (HUC), an issue that has still to be clarified by the city government of Tacloban.

Another problem the city government of Tacloban it may face in the future once it plans to put up its own water district is its source of water for its own water district

as the source of water for the LMWD is outside the city jurisdiction of Tacloban and within the powers and jurisdiction of the provincial government of Leyte.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez earlier warned the management of LMWD that if they cannot improve its water service to close to 30,000 water concessionaires, the city government might create its own water district.
In one of the press conferences Mayor Romualdez however said he is just waiting any of the proposal from the LMWD present leadership in coordinated efforts in looking proper financial assistance and support for the major rehabilitation of the water system.





    
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