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Tanauan riders rule the 2nd Nasugbo Nat’l Skimboarding Competition

2 NPA camps, war material cache discovered

NPA leaders and 5 others surrender with high powered firearms

Gov. Evardone graces 488th Magellan Landing Commemoration

Pinabacdao project impresses WB representative

2009 National Caving Congress puts Region 8 on focus

SIPPAD urges investigation of Samar’s road construction

Army challenge KARAPATAN-EV to work with CHR8

Redaja reports of his 90 days to Samarnons

Biliran buy bust operation nabs suspected lady drug pusher



PGMA bats for teamwork as unifying factor for the country during opening of Palarong Pambansa 2009

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 29, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  A festive Tacloban City greeted the President of the Republic as she motored from the Tacloban Airport to the Leyte Sports Development Center to formally declare the opening of the Palarong Pambansa 2009.

President Arroyo opening the 2009 Palarong Pambansa in Tacloban.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leads the opening ceremonies of the Palarong Pambansa 2009 in Tacloban City at the Leyte Sports Development Center on Tuesday, April 28. (Exequiel Supera/OPS-NIB Photo)

Upon her arrival, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wearing a powder puff blue sleeveless blouse and pants beamed as she waved to the 9,000 athletes from 17 athletic regional delegations and a jampacked Leyte Sports Development Center filled with an applauding and appreciative audience.

Addressing a sea of young and eager faces from the different regional athletic delegations, the President said that sports is a priority of the government as this develops not only health but character, discipline, confidence, thinking and teamwork- qualities which are needed as a nation.

“How sports developed are you?  Hindi lamang sa kalusugan kundi na rin sa character, iyong disiplina, iyung kumpyansa sa sarili, iyung pag-iisip, kasi kailangan uutakan mo ang kalaban mo, at higit sa lahat ang teamwork.  These are the qualities that we need as a nation”, the President said.

The President went on to say that these qualities are being developed in the students through sports and comprehensive programs that could help our country embrace such qualities and consequently enable the nation to meet global crisis and challenges.  “At itong mga kalidad na ito, ay dinidevelop natin sa ating mga estudyante na nageensayu sa sports at kinaisang komprehensibong programa, na tutulong para magkaroon ang ating bansa ng mga katangian, na pwedeng humarap sa mga immediate challenges sa ating bansa, na nanggagaling sa krisis ng buong mundo,” the President added.

The President also stressed that investments through infrastructure like roads, airports and ports including investment in people through education, health and sports – all these support the country’s program.  “Ang ating mga pinupuhunan sa imprastraktura gaya ng kalsada, airport at pantalan, na dinadaanan ninyong mga estudyante para pumunta dito, pati na rin ang ating puhunan by human capital, kasama ang edukasyon, ang kalusugan kasama na ang sports doon.  Ito ay sumusuporta sa programa ng ating bansa” the President further said.

The President concluded by saying that “working together as one nation and people, I am confident that we will not only survive, but prosper in this time of global crisis. Nawa’y itong Palarong Pambansa 2009, ay ipaiiral ang teamwork ng ating mga estudyante, para na rin ipairal ang ating pagsamasama bilang isang taong bayan”.

The President then declared the 2009 Palarong Pambansa 2009 open.  She immediately left the sports center and went back to the airport to preside the Cabinet Meeting.

Aside from gracing the Opening Ceremonies of the Palaro which is being hosted by the Leyte Provincial Government, the President earlier led the groundbreaking rites for the new Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport terminal building which is a component of the P4.13 billion Tacloban Airport Development Project (TADP).

The Arroyo administration has already released an initial P1.141 billion for the modernization of the airport. It is expected that the DZR airport will serve as one of the country’s secondary international airports.





Palarong Pambansa 2009: Annual games open in full colors, searing heat, sudden rains

By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
April 29, 2009

LEYTE SPORTS DEVELOPMENT CENTER (LSDC), Tacloban City  –  No doubt, the various athletic delegations did their homework, presenting a kaleidoscope of colorful costumes, uniforms, innovative yells, songs and dances, and rendering this year’s sports competition truly a fiesta atmosphere.

Palaro 2009 opening spectacle
Leyte Palaro '09 ceremonial opening was highlighted by the colorful cultural presentation dubbed as “Grand Palabas: A Tribute to the Games” participated by at least 2,000 students from the province.  (photo by PMRC)

Nature cooperated as well, with the noonday sun shining in this sprawling oval at about 32 degrees Celsius hot, only to be watered later in an unexpected heavy rain in the closing minutes of the opening ceremonies, where three remaining regions – Cordillera, National Capital, and Eastern Visayas, the host – performed in a wet look all over, literally speaking, thanks or no thanks to the passing rain.

But elsewhere around the city – surprise! Surprise! – it was dry land.

Bring in the medicine cabinet, you guys, for the kids will certainly have to bear with the swift temperature change that lasted more than ten minutes.

But if nothing happens, thank the Heavens and the individual’s strong immune system, as athletes are expected to be armed, by way of improving one’s personal stamina record.

For even if a Palaro player losses, he or she is still a winner if the colds and cough viruses failed to catch-up and ride with the climate change – pardon the term for lack of a better word – inside the arena.

On a higher plane, that was the message imparted by Department of Education (Deped) Secretary Jesli Lapus.

In the brief program shortly before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared the games open, and later before the rain-inducing clouds formed, Secretary Lapus encouraged the athletes to do their best.

“Kahit hindi kayo nanalo, ang importante ma-improve ang inyong personal record,” Sec. Lapus emphasized, although he was referring more to the physical sports competition, and not battling with hot and cold conditions in the playing grounds.

The conduct of the annual Palaro games itself, Sec. Lapus said, has been taken as a way to improve the country’s overall performance in whatever sports events enroute to an elusive Olympic gold.

But first, all potential gold haulers must survive the hot and cold doses of the opening rites.

For that alone, the Palarong Pambansa 2009 is already a resounding success.





PGMA congratulates Leyte as host of Palarong Pambansa 2009

April 29, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is all praise for Leyte province for hosting this year’s Palarong Pambansa in her less than five-minute speech during the opening ceremony here.

PGMA stressed that the holding of this year’s annual national sports event in Leyte is the biggest in 25 years.

The President clad in her powder blue pantsuit greeted the crowd in the jampacked Leyte Sports and Development Center (LSDC) in Waray vernacular by saying “maupay nga aga ha iyo nga tanan” to the delight of the people who watched the opening ceremony.

She likewise congratulated the officials of the Department of Education (DepEd), officials in Leyte province, students, coaches, national government officials for the holding of the Palarong Pambansa 2009 in Leyte.

Meanwhile, PGMA emphasized the value of teamwork and how valuable sports is in our country which not only develop the health and physical well-being of people but likewise give self-confidence and help boost character to oneself.

The President also underscored the importance of working together as a people and as a nation and she is confident that the country will survive in this time of global financial crisis.

In the later part of her short speech, the President formally opened the annual national sports event participated in by 17 participating delegations all over the country.





PGMA keynotes the opening today of Palarong Pambansa 2009 in Leyte

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 28, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to grace the opening of the Palarong Pambansa 2009 hosted by the Provincial Government of Leyte and the Department of Education Regional Office 8.

Leyte Sports Development CenterPresident Arroyo will address the more than 10,000 young champion athletes and officials, families and friends from the 17 Regions of the Philippines who are gathered at the newly refurbished Leyte Sports Development Council.

Part I of the Opening Program of the Palarong Pambansa 2009 is the Tribute to the Games showcasing the rich arts and culture of Leyte and Samar Islands.

The curtain raisers presents two of the best Leyte festivals, the Karatong Festival of Dulag, Leyte and the Buyogan Festival of Abuyog, Leyte, champion of the recently held Aliwan Festival in Manila and champion of this year’s Sinulog Festival in Cebu.

Susumaton Han Muruglay or Dance of the Mascots will be performed by the selected high school students of Tacloban City while the Pagsurumpay or linkage will feature the Leyte Kasadyaan Potpouries of Festivals, the Binaybayan Festival of Baybay; Bato Balani Festival of Bato, Leyte; Lingganay Festival of Alangalang, Leyte; and Pasaka Festival of Tanauan, Leyte.

The tribute to the games will end with the speech of Hon. Jesli A. Lapus, Secretary of the Department of Education.

The arrival of President Arroyo will signal the start of the Formal Opening Program with an ecumenical prayer by Msgr. Ramon Aguilos, Rev. Lemuel Iballarosa; Emmam Ostadz Sailanie A. Abdullah.

This will be followed with the Singing of the National Anthem to be lead by Ms. Gretchen Espina, 2008 Pinoy Idol Champion.

Word of Welcome will come from Tacloban City Mayor Hon. Alfred Romualdez; Representative of the First District of Leyte Hon. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez; and this year’s host Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla.

Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn will then turn over the Palarong Pambansa flag to Leyte Governor Petilla after which, Secretary Lapus, Governor Petilla and the delegation heads will hoist the Palaro Flag and Delegation Banners.

Secretary Lapus will introduce the Keynote Speaker, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

At the end of her speech, President Arroyo will formally declare the Palarong Pambansa 2009 in the province of Leyte, open.

After delivering her keynote address, President Arroyo will leave in order to attend her Cabinet Meeting.





PGMA ground breaks P4.130-B Tacloban Airport Development Project

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 27, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  In line with President Arroyo’s Super Region development strategy where the Visayas is envisioned to be the Center of Tourism industry, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is scheduled to ground break the P4.1Billion Tacloban Airport Development Project on Tuesday, April 28, 2009.

The development of a more modern and bigger Airport complex will pave way to the coming in of any type of aircrafts and will encourage additional flights to the Region.

As of now, there are three airline companies flying the Tacloban-Manila and vice versa, and the Tacloban-Cebu and vice versa routes. There are at least four flights to Cebu and Tacloban, and at least 9 flights from Manila to Tacloban and 9 flights from Tacloban to Manila.

The Airport Development Project which has several components is being implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communication under Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

President Arroyo is set to ground break the construction of the New Terminal Building which has a floor area of 4,899.96 square meters and project cost of P155 Million.

Now ongoing are two components of the development project namely, Asphalt Overlay of Runway and Construction of Shore Protection; and Acquisition of lots for New Terminal Complex Area.

The ongoing Asphalt Overlay of Runway and Construction of Shore Protection component has a project cost of P625.50 Million.

On the other hand, the ongoing acquisition of lots has a total cost of P130 Million, Engineer Dante Lulu informed.

Scheduled for bidding is the last component which is the air navigational facilities which amounts to P230 Million.

Another airport development project, that of Guiuan Airport, will soon be completed and will require inauguration by the President.





DOLE releases P404,552 for Zumarraga Sisi Producers Association

April 25, 2009

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar  –  Braving the rough waters along Maqueda Bay in the late afternoon of April 20, 2009, DOLE personnel led by Regional Director Forter Puguon sailed to Zumarraga Island to hand in a check.

Fermented rock oyster or sisi in a bottle
This traditional packaging of fermented “sisi” is placed in a used bottle of Tanduay Rhum.

The check worth P404,552 is a grant to the 250 members Zumarragan Sisi (ZUSI) Producers Association.

The livelihood assistance, said Ms. Fe Estrella of DOLE-Samar was released through an accredited co-partner in the name of Zumarraga LGU.

Based on the proposal, the fund will be used in training cum production, for capacity building services for the livelihood program particularly for rock oyster culture skills training, product diversification and capability building.

In turn the LGU headed by Mayor Neil Edwin Figueroa constructed a training/production center near the public market to house the production of sisi-based (rock oyster) products.

Mayor Figueroa profusely thanked DOLE for the grant which the mayor said will definitely help his townsfolk.

It was learned that the LGU shelled out some P220,000 for the building while the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) too gave some amount for the same purpose – that of ensuring that the Zumarraga folks alleviate poverty.

The sisi producers will upgrade their packaging of fermented sisi from used bottles into plastic stood up cups that are the current vogue in retail products.

Fermented rock oysters come from oysters (sisi) harvested from rocks near the sea during low tide and produced using fermentation process to preserve the product from spoilage.

The standardized fermentation process has upgraded their product.

Fermented oyster (sisi) is also Zumarraga’s OneTown One Product and that some agencies like NEDA, DTI, SSU, DSWD, DOST, TESDA and other line agencies have converged for the same purpose.





Defense Chief, NDCC chair Teodoro graces flood control project inauguration

By BONGPEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
April 24, 2009

BRGY. KANANGKAAN, Sogod, Southern Leyte  –  Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr.,  traveled all the way to this interior barangay today to see the finished mega-dike project designed to protect the people from flooding when the nearby Subangdako river overflows during rainy weather.

In simple ceremonies held at the barangay auditorium marking the inauguration for the project, Teodoro, who is also the concurrent chair of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), hinted that portions of the riverbank not yet covered by the flood control structure would soon be included.

“This project is the best evidence that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo loves the people.  Kung anong naumpisahan natin ay tapusin na natin ito,” Teodoro proclaimed, stressing he will personally refer to the President the desire to build a similar structure throughout the entire stretch of the wide river once the papers reach his desk.

He was referring to the presentation and overview of the project made earlier by Provincial Engineer Fernando Moralde, who pointed out certain locations along the river that still needed to be fortified with a concrete dike.

Moralde said that in the later part of 2006, President Arroyo released the amount of P100 million through the NDCC for the construction of the Subangdako Flood Control project, which was completed by around November, 2008.

The project consisted of 2,048 linear meters of solid structure that protects five barangays passed by the meandering river, such as barangays kanangkaan, Suba, San Miguel, San Isidro, and Concepcion, Moralde reported, even as he indicated some points, marked by red lines in the map, that would be the focus of the next phase of the mega-dike project.

Sogod Mayor Sheffered Tan, in his welcome remarks, declared that the project was part of President Arroyo’s mega-dike program, adding that it offered a big relief to the barangay folks who fear constantly of their lives during bad weather, a sentiment shared by Punong Barangay Remedios Gonzales.

Gov. Damian Mercado, who introduced the guest of honor, expressed his thanks to the NDCC for the project, saying that “it was a dream come true for the people of five barangays.”

Both Mayor Tan and Gov. Mercado made public suggestions to Teodoro’s inclination to join next year’s presidential derby, a claim affirmed earlier by the Defense chief in a short interaction with the local media.

Before ending his very brief talk, Teodoro pledged to contribute P400 million to the barangay, representing half of the estimated cost of a well-built barangay hall, the other half to be shared by the Governor and the Mayor.

He also asked that he be considered an adopted son of barangay Kanangkaan, to the delight of the crowd.

Gov. Mercado then tasked Board Member Daisy Gamale to sponsor a resolution at the Provincial Board declaring Teodoro an adopted son of Southern Leyte.

Teodoro was warmly welcomed by provincial and municipal officials led by Gov. Mercado and Mayor Tan upon his arrival by noon on Monday at the Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) grounds in a military helicopter – which he himself piloted.





NPA’s propaganda platoon surrenders

April 23, 2009

PANACAN, Davao City  –  A total of fifteen members of the New People’s Army under Guerilla Front (GF) 15 and 25 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) formally surrendered this morning to Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon in a simple ceremony at the Provincial Capitol of Mati Davao Oriental.

They were also formally presented to the Commander of the 10th Infantry Division, MajGen. Reynaldo Mapagu.

The former rebels were led by Jerry Lontud Silat alias Dante Pangaya, the Commanding Officer (CO) of Sandatahang Yunit Propaganda (SYP) Platoon, GF 15, SMRC and his members were identified as Jesus Balanate Nazareno alias Rustom/Kempit, Roldan Aumada Pudpud alias Agustin/Roldan/Totoy Bato, Rosemarie Bacudan Tumanda alias Angel, Insoy Silat Matilac alias Ian, Eric Silat Matilac alias Alvin, Nestor Gesongan Arseno alias Lindon, Vergil Concepcion Ongkoy alias Jorven/Jerven, Charlito Basingan Songale alias Dennis, Joseph Esperas Estapia alias Erwin/Gonggong and Mary Ann M Masibay alias Mel (wife of Jerry Silat), the team leader of Armed Propaganda Team (APT).

The SYP don’t usually engage with the military troops unless they are compromised, they are primarily responsible in the Ideological, Political and Organizing works in the barangays. They raise issues against the government and agitate the people to eventually join them.

Meanwhile, the surrenderees of the Sentro de Grabidad, GF 15 of SMRC who usually engage the government troops on combat operations were identified as Michael Sunggay Bangkalen alias Noel, Myra Pudpud Magno alias Lenlen and Roy Nazareno Capulac alias Charlie.

A lone surrenderee from GF 25, Arlou Aninao Morales alias Jonas, a medical team leader, of SDG, GF 25, SMRC surrendered together with the members of Silat.

Morales was among those who ran away from his unit after knowing that their leaders eloped.

From those who surrendered, only Roldan Pudpud was able to cart away his firearm (Uzi) before leaving his unit and the latter formally surrendered the same to Major General Mapagu during their presentation.

Majority of the former rebels belongs to the Mandaya tribe and residents of Barangays Campawan, San Victor, Mahan-ub and Batiano, all of Baganga, Davao Oriental.

They said they could no longer bear the hardship because of intense military operation and demoralization within their ranks due to financial opportunism of their leaders which grossly affected them.

They surrendered in group to the 67th Infantry Battalion under Lt Colonel Henry Doyaoen when the unit conducted CMO activities in their barangays last February 2009. They took the opportunity after they learned about the interventions offered by the Social Integration Program (SIP) of the government under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP).

Jerry Silat, who was already on “lie-low” status surrendered to the 66th Infantry Battalion only last March 19, 2009 after he learned that all of his members already surrendered to 67IB. He revealed that alias Jomar, the Secretary and Political Officer of Guerilla Front 15, along with his nephew alias Arbie and another NPA member alias Raprap, all went on “lie-low” status.

“We could no longer stomach the financial opportunism and nepotism that is going on in the SMRC leadership”, said Silat.

Relatedly, an encounter last March 8, 2009 in Sitio Malinao, Barangay Batiano, Baganga, Davao Oriental was the product of the massive CMO activities of the 67IB and it resulted to the recovery of one M16 rifle, one shotgun, one handheld radio, ammunitions, medical and dental equipments and subversive documents.

Mapagu said, “We are happy that more and more of our brothers are responding to our call for peace. We are continually receiving surrender feelers and this is because of the continued support and cooperation from our various stakeholders.”

“Again, we would like to call on our brothers who are still in the mountains to surrender and return to the mainstream society. The SIP under OPAPP can help you to start anew”, Mapagu added.

The fifteen former rebels will benefit the immediate cash assistance the moment after their enrolment in the SIP and they will receive the livelihood assistance after they have undergone the psycho-social profiling to be facilitated by the OPAPP representatives.

Those who surrendered with firearms will receive cash remuneration for the firearms surrendered.





April 22 is Earth Day!

April 21, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Once again, we celebrate the Philippine Earth Day 2009 this April 22 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1481 signed last April 10, 2008 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Earth Day 2009The proclamation identifies the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the main convener of the celebration. As such, the DENR enjoins all agencies of the executive branch to come up with environmental activities.

Regional Executive Director Regidor M. de Leon disclosed that, “the DENR, thru Secretary Jose L. Atienza enjoins not only the DENR but all sectors of society to conduct environmental activities, I commemoration of the 2009 Earth Day. The concern for Mother Earth is a concern of all human beings living on Earth.”

Collectively, we are faced with an urgent call to save and protect our bountiful forests, pristine waters, rich natural resources, exceptional wildlife and diversified living organisms, which are essential for the quality of life of every Filipino and the people and other inhabitants on Earth”, De Leon added.

The theme “Lupa, Tubig Buhayin; Batas ay Tuparin” is a very timely reminder of our responsibilities as citizens to render vigilance for the protection of the rich natural resources.

In Region 8, the DENR enjoins all the local government units, state colleges and universities, government and private industries, non government organizations, church academe, and other sectors to join the conduct of environmental activities. Also, the Regional, provincial and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices had lined up environmental activities such as: tree planting, car less day in offices, clean-up activities, and other relevant activities which would ease the impact of global warming and climate change as well as other natural phenomenon.

De Leon stressed that the celebration of special events such as Earth Day are just reminders for us to do our responsibility for Mother earth, whatever our status in life maybe. Our concern for the environment however, must be sustained even after the celebration of Earth Day in order for us to live in a safe and healthy Planet.





Evardone intensifies programs for barangays, seeks to improve more FMRs in E. Samar

April 21, 2009

QUINAPONDAN, Eastern Samar  –  Stepping up his Barangay Empowerment Network Project (BEN), Governor Ben P. Evardone assured 8 interior villages of this town better roads to their respective barangays to advance the residents’ burdens in carrying their farm produce to markets and improve their way of living.

Eastern Samar governor Ben Evardone on road project inspection
Governor Ben P. Evardone spreads hands as he instructs Provincial Engineer Dindo Picardal Jr. (3rd from right) to widen the road going to Brgy. Sta. Margarita in Quinapondan town during his ocular inspections of some provincial roads in the said municipality.  (BRYAN M. AZURA)

Those that will directly benefit the road improvements are Barangays Cantiño, Anislag, San Isidro Cagdaha, Sta. Margarita, Panactad, Rizal and San Pedro, all interior barangays of Quinapondan town.

Evardone has sought to personally see the conditions of barangays by walking kilometers of roads that need improvements. “I want to see how the province can intervene in repairing the roads,” Evardone said while climbing a hilly area going to Cantiño.

Upon the request of the villagers, the governor ordered Provincial Engineer Dindo Picardal to immediately dispatch the heavy equipment of the province to start the road opening going to the barrio. Presently, residents of the village use a concrete feeder but only motorcycles can pass by.

“It’s always a struggle to come and go to our barangay,” Barangay Chairman Igmedio Cabacaba said in vernacular. “It’s even more difficult especially when we have cargoes to bring,” he continued.

Mayor Nedito Campo said that the repair of the provincial road in the area will benefit 3 other barangays. “Barangays Anislag, San Isidro and Cagdaha will also gain from the road repair,” Campo noted.

Meanwhile, the province has already started its rehabilitation and improvement of the provincial road going to the coastal barangay of Sta. Margarita. Filling materials had been piled up already as the provincial equipments are being transported to the repair site.

Governor Evardone also assured Barangay Chairman of Panactad, also of the same town, similar repairs to the road going to the village. His barangay, around 5 kilometers from the national highway, has an existing road already however half of it is severely damaged due to the heavy rains that affected the province in the past. “The barangay has no sufficient funds for the rehabilitation of the roads that’s why in behalf of my people, I am thanking governor (Evardone) for his kind generosity,” Barangay Chairman Juan Abijo said in an interview.

Barangay Chairman Nilo Cawaja of Rizal, also expressed appreciation to the provincial government’s initiatives especially in improving provincial roads. “I have never seen a governor going around the province, even to remote areas, just to see the conditions of our barangays,” Cawaja said in dialect.

Campo said that the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Quinapondan will always be behind the governor in his programs and projects especially in the development of barangays. Campo assured his chairmen and the governor that the LGU will provide counterpart funds in the road repairs.

Earlier, Evardone distributed 5 sets of water pumps for small irrigations to some irrigation association in Quinapondan. Among the recipients of the multi-purpose pumps were the Quinapondan Irrigators Association, San Vicente Irrigators Association, San Pedro Irrigators Association and Tinago Irrigators Association.





PGMA signs Tourism Bill 2009 soon

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 21, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has received the Tourism Bill 2009 and she is expected to sign the Bill soon.

“I can assure the industry and all its stakeholders that the Bill will be signed very soon,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said in a radio interview over the weekend.

The signing of the Tourism Bill 2009 comes at a time when the Philippines is considered as a favorite destination in Asia.

The Bill is entitled "An Act declaring a national policy for tourism as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development, and strengthening the Department of Tourism and its attached agencies to effectively and efficiently implement that policy, and appropriating funds therefore.."

The proposed Act declares that tourism is an "indispensable element of the national economy and an industry of national interest and importance, which must be harnessed as an engine of socio-economic growth and cultural affirmation to generate investment, foreign exchange and employment, and to continue to mold an enhanced sense of national pride for all Filipinos."

The tourism statute aims to promote the country as the premier tourist destination in Asia and to upgrade its level of international competitiveness through a system of accreditation, standards-setting and classification.

When signed into law, the Bill empower the Department of Tourism by strengthening the different agencies attached to it in order to more efficiently and effectively coordinate the functions and resources of government for tourism promotions and development programs, as well as eliminate overlaps of functions.

The bill provides that the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation (PCVC) will be reorganized to become the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), a body corporate responsible for the marketing and promotion of the Philippines as a global tourism destination, highlighting its tourism products and services.

Furthermore, the proposed law provides that the Philippine Tourism authority (PTA) will also be reorganized to become the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), a body corporate mandated to designate, regulate and supervise tourism enterprise zones (TEZs) as well as develop, manage and supervise tourism projects in the country.

Meanwhile, the Duty Free Philippines will be reorganized to become the Duty Free Philippines Corporation (DFPC), a body corporate mandated to operate the duty and tax free merchandizing system in the country.

The Bill provides that the TPB and TIEZA will each have a capitalization of P250-Million and subscribed by the national government.

Under the proposed law, the funding for TPB will come from investment earnings from the Tourism Promotions Trust; appropriation fro the national government of not less than P500-Million annually for at least five years from the time of its constitution; 70 percent of the 50 percent net income of the DFPC accruing to the Department; at least 25 percent of the national government share remitted by international airports and seaports to the National Treasury.

On the other hand, the funding for TIEZA come from 50 percent proceeds from travel tax collections; a reasonable share from the collections of the Office of Tourism Resource Generation; income from projects managed by the TIEZA; subsidies or grants from local and foreign sources.

Capitalization for DFPC will be P500-Million and funding for its operations will be sourced from its internally generated income and other receipts.

With the signing of the Tourism Bill into law very soon by President Arroyo, the Tourism industry in the country will hopefully be strengthened and pave the way for a greater cooperation between the public and private sector, as it is a vital ingredient towards the development of the industry.





DOLE turns over P300,000 TUPAD checks to Malitbog LGU

By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
April 21, 2009

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte  –  Regional Director Forter Puguon of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) handed to Mayor George Go of Malitbog town last week a check in the amount of P300,000 for payment of labor services engaged in the maintenance and rehabilitation of a farm-to-market road (FMR) project.

The turn-over was made in the afternoon of Thursday, April 16, at the Candy’s Function Room here prior to the start of an advocacy campaign on two laws involving child labor and anti-trafficking in persons attended by barangay captains and operators of videoke outlets.

Fe Norma Valuis, the provincial DOLE chief, stated shortly before releasing the check that the FMR project in Malitbog that they funded fell under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) program.

Of all the eighteen municipalities in Southern Leyte, only the town of Malitbog was able to submit a project proposal under the TUPAD program, Valuis said.

Six barangays were benefited by the FMR project, and 75 workers were employed, receiving wages at P200 per day for 75 days, Valuis added.

The local government of Malitbog paid for the Philhealth benefits of the workers as their counterpart of the project.

Mayor Go thanked heartily the DOLE office for the assistance extended to the municipality.

Valuis said that another similar funding assistance was in the pipeline for the fisherfolks of Mambajao, Maasin, for the purchase of materials for their fishing livelihood.



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