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Senate enacts university status of NIT

Gov. Evardone shows supports to education with infra projects

PGMA visit to boost tourism in Sohoton, Basey

Leyte province mulls for an exclusive Leyte grid for power consumption

Defense chief pushes peace and order and disaster risk management linkages with LGUs

Samar mayor gunned down, died while being revived at the hospital

CBCP elects Archbishop of Palo as vice president

“Rescued” child soldier: Army’s fabricated story

Eastern Samar holds Bikathon against global warming

The mud-dening of Sitio Sto Niño, Catbalogan





NPA escalates attacks in Samar town; 3 wounded

September 1, 2009

BASEY, Samar  –  The directive of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to military and the police to end the insurgency problem in the country by year 2010, is becoming improbable as the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines continue showing up their influence and strength in the countryside.

In Basey Samar, the rebels beat the intelligence capacity of the military and managed to crawl, positioned themselves strategically and they harass, attacked – by surprise, an army detachment in one of the remote barangay here that resulted to the wounding of two government militiamen and a civilian.

LtCol. Armand Rico, chief of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division Information Office yesterday said that more or less fifty (50) rebels attacked an army detachment last Sunday, August 30, 2009 while the nation was celebrating the National Heroes Day.

The army official said the firefight between the communist rebels and elements of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) led by Cpl. Roger E. Dacles occurred at around 4:30 a.m. in Barangay Cancaiyas Basey in Samar. Wounded was CAA Mario Q. Sabido, CAA Enerasis F. Guevara, both assigned to Cancaiyas Cafgu Detachment based in Barangay Cancaiyas this locality.

A civilian, identified as Nelson Bacla-an, of legal age, was hit by a stray bullet when he was caught in the crossfire when the rebels tried to lay siege to the detachment of government militiamen. The militiamen, however, stood their ground and were able to drive away the attacking rebels after about one (1) hour of gunfight.

LtCol. Rico estimated that the rebels at least eleven (11) rebels were hit by them, some of them maybe killed as no dead bodies were found in the encounter scene. Rico based this theory on testimony of witnesses and evidenced of bloodstain in the enemy position and the rest of them withdrew towards the forested area of Basey town.

There were no reports of casualties on the government side, the official said.

The wounded militiamen, however, were rushed to Basey District Hospital but later evacuated to Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City.

Following an order from 8ID commanding general Arthur Tabaquero, the 801st Infantry Brigade immediately conducted a hot pursuit and blocking operations against the running enemy.

Military sees victory in fights vs. insurgency

On the other hand, the hierarchy of the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines claimed to have advanced in the fight against insurgency as hundreds of insurgents, seeing a brighter future with the government’s Social Integration Program (SIP), continue to surrender voluntarily to government forces, while more rebels, including their commanders, are either captured or killed during encounters with the military.

With this development, the AFP said it is definitely winning on all fronts, as it further intensifies operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless elements, resulting not just an increase in the number of casualties but also on the number of those who have decided to return to the folds of the law.

In a recent interview, LtCol. Francis Cabugon, Commanding Officer of the 8th ID’s 20th Infantry “We Lead” Battalion based in Brgy. Tinambacan Sur, Calbayog City said that the strength of the enemy is now dwindling following the army’s unabated combat operations and pro-people programs throughout the country.

The army official, however, stressed “this is not just about the number of casualties on the enemy side, but also in the influx of surrenderees upon learning about the sincere commitment of the government to help them start their life anew."

In many parts of the country, many rebel-returnees had availed financial aid and livelihood assistance from the government.

According to the official, the government launched the SIP in accordance with Administrative Order No. 172 in which the incentives were increased from P2,500 to P20,000 and the socio-economic assistance from P20,000 to P50,000.

“As of now, there were only around 150 strong NPA warriors left, mostly hiding in the mountains of Northern Samar,” Lt.Col. Cabugon told the media when asked about the total strength of the enemy.

The army official is confident that they will finally pinned down these remaining armed groups, which he identified carrying the name as Regional Guerilla Unit or the remaining “Strike Force” – a mobile unit of the New People’s Army’s Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (NPA-EVRPC).

The army official said “all our efforts and resources are being channeled to our troops on the grounds who need support in order to be able to carry out military operations” to meet the goal of defeating these lawless elements by 2010 as earlier directed by President Arroyo.





Army launches hot pursuit operations vs NPA rebels who attacked military detachment in Samar

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 1, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Major General Arthur Tabaquero, commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, ordered the 801st Infantry Brigade to conduct hot pursuit operations against the communist rebels who attacked a military detachment in Basey, Samar.

The military operatives have established blocking positions to intercept the withdrawing communist insurgents, LtCol. Armand Rico, spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 8th ID, informed.

On or about 4:30 in the morning of August 30, an estimated 50 armed communist guerrillas attacked a military detachment under Corporal Roger E. Dacles, at Barangay Cancaiyas, Basey, Samar.

The 8th ID spokesman said a firefight ensued. The 15 soldiers and militiamen defended the detachment for about one hour, but had to withdraw briefly from the detachment as they were overwhelmed and outnumbered by the rebels.

Reinforcement troops arrived soon after and drove back the attackers, wounding or killing at least 11 of them, military spokesman LtCol. Armand Rico said.

“Overwhelmed, the communist rebels withdrew, dragging at least 11 bloodied comrades. Based on the accounts of the civilians, 11 of them (rebels) were either killed or injured. They were dragged by their comrades on their way to escape”, he said.

Blood stains were found on the ground where rebels took up positions and on their withdrawal route into a forest. "At least 11 bloodied rebels were seen being dragged away by their retreating comrades," Major Rico added.

On the side of the military, at least two pro-government militiamen and a civilian were wounded during the NPA attack. The wounded who are now being treated in a hospital in Tacloban, were identified as CAA Mario Q. Sabido, CAA Eneraris F. Guevarra and one civilian identified as Nelson Bac-laan, a resident of the same barangay.





An Waray Partylist showcases local concoction in Oktubafest

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 1, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The local coconut wine known in the Leyte-Samarnon dialect as “tuba” will take the center stage in this year’s 2nd Oktubafest which aims to advance and showcase the cultural heritage and the tuba industry of Eastern Visayas.

The 2nd Oktubafest was formally launched in the middle of August with various government agencies giving their thumbs-up in this activity which was initiated by the Waray partylist group last year.

An Waray Partylist Representative Florencio “Bembem” Noel who is the moving force behind this activity, said that the success of last year’s Oktubafest inspired the organizers to stage it once again this year, to help boost the coconut industry in general and the tuba sector in particular. After all over a million people in Region 8 depend on the tuba for their livelihood, the legislator said.

To be held on October 17-18, 2009, the 2nd Oktubafest will feature the best tuba processors and food delicacies (sumsuman) that are eaten while drinking tuba, and other coconut by-products.

The Oktubafest will judge the Best Bahal; Best Bahalina; Best Tuba infused dish; and Best Tuba concoction, among others.

In last year’s Oktubafest, featured contests were the Tuba and Barok Painting Contest, a monochromatic tuba painting on 25” x 20” canvass; Magsaranggot and Tuba Photography Contest, photo essay of a tuba gatherer and other tuba-related subjects; Kawit-making and painting contest; and Winaray Song writing contest.

Representative Noel disclosed that the climax in this year’s Oktubafest is the attempt to break the world record on the biggest number of people in attendance for a wine tasting event.

About 7,000 people from all over the Region are expected to participate in this attempt to break the current world record based on the Guinness Book of World Records which was made on September 15, 2006 at the Plaza de Toros, Aranda de Duero in Spain where the wine tasting was attended by 5,100 people, Congressman Noel informed.

The Oktubafest is envisioned to provide the needed boost to the Region’s coconut industry. After all, Eastern Visayas is among the country’s three leading coconut-producing regions with an annual production of 72 million coconuts processed into various products.

Copra produce from the Region contributes tens of millions of dollars for the country’s economy.





8ID army chief proposes a joint manifesto against violence

August 30, 2009

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  No less than the commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army has proposed to urge all well meaning Samarnons to join and be a part of a joint manifesto against all forms of violence.

Samar Provincial Peace and Order meeting
The August 25 PPOC meeting were attended by (from right counterclockwise) 801st Brigade chief Col. Alex Albano, 8ID commanding general MGen. Arthur Tabaquero, Samar Police director PSSupt. Pancho Hubilla and Congresswoman Sharee Ann Tan.

In a draft manifesto handed to Samar’s Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) that converged on August 25, 2009, MGen. Arthur Tabaquero said he wanted the killings to stop as it has brought fear to Samarnons.

Airing an equal appeal, Congresswoman Sharee Ann Tan added that not only mayors are alarmed at the violence but even the higher officials like herself, she expressed concern over her own security.

The manifesto read in part: ‘We are public servants, peaceful community dwellers and concerned individuals who have joined together to denounce all forms of violence.’

It cited that the group set aside difference in ethnical, economic, cultural and political groupings who had the strong desire for peace and development.

They stand indignant to the prevalence of violence particularly those committed by the CPP/NPA/NDF, private armed groups (PAGs), organized crime groups, drug syndicates and other criminal elements.

As a group, they said they want to express a moral voice that calls rejection of terroristics actions against the people.

Thus, the group says: NO TO VIOLENCE and YES TO PROMOTING PEACE.

The draft solicited comments and reactions which maybe incorporated in the final form.

The PPOC moved that they will invite and involve the academe, NGOs, the business community, the religious to include other sects and denominations and even private individuals who share their vision of eradicating violence in Samar.

The manifesto to be mounted in a tarpaulin will be displayed and followed by a simple signing ceremony in a conspicuous place in downtown Catbalogan.

PNP Director Pancho Hubilla reported that shooting incidents took place in Calbayog and Gandara but the most recent of which was the high profile killing of Matuginao Town Mayor Carlos dela Cruz in his Catbalogan home in July 2009.





Petillas and Apostols forge political alliance in Leyte’s second district

By Provincial Media Relations Center
August 30, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Two formidable political clans in Leyte, which saw to a fierce political race some two elections back, formally merges to form a larger and stronger political line-up in the 2010 elections which gave fuel to the old adage "there are no permanent friends nor enemies in politics".

The Petillas led by incumbent Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla and Leyte Second District Representative Trinidad Apostol have decided to join forces, who have long party mates under the Lakas party – but, an alliance that never materialized in the last two elections.

Rep. Apostol’s husband, former presidential legal counsel Atty. Sergio Apostol has already declared early this year of his intent to run for a congressional seat in the second district, a post he once held for three terms before his wife, the incumbent congresswoman, followed suit and held the position for three terms now and would conclude after the 2010 polls.

“I would like to serve my remaining years for the people of the second district,” he said.

To recall, the Apostol patriarch lost his gubernatorial seat in 2004 against Gov. Petilla – then a neophyte in the political arena who ran for the post then to be vacated by his mother Remedios Petilla, who ruled the province for nine years and went on to serve another three years as representative for Leyte’s first district.

Gov. Petilla said this alliance is not new as the two families go a long way back. Plans to merge the two clans, he said, was already started in 2007, but did not push through as it was already towards the end of the campaign season.

He revealed that mayors in the second district have also been instrumental in this renewed alliance.

The merger did not materialize though until recently when Rep. Apostol was reported to have visited the governor at his office at the Leyte Provincial Capitol and talks of merger went into full swing and conduct joint town visits and barangay consultations.

Leyte Second District Representative Trinidad Apostol said she is making an “ultimate sacrifice” for the sake of long overdue unity in the Leyte’s second district by deciding not to run for any provincial position and instead set her sights on a mayoralty seat in Carigara town.

She said incumbent local chief executives in the second district have been clamoring for her to ‘bury the hatchet’ and forge alliance with the Petillas, whom she refers and has been known fact, to have been their long rivals.

“For the sake of unity, we have decided to join forces this time. They (mayors) were telling me it has been a balancing act on their part to focus on me and then to the governor when in reality we are just in one party,” Congresswoman Apostol said during a recent joint municipal visitation and barangay consultation with Governor Petilla in a number of Leyte second district municipalities.

“We have given our word and our commitment. We have entered into this alliance and we would like our people to know that this would go through,” the lady solon added.

She confirmed that daughter, Carigara Mayor Anlie Apostol, who has been reportedly been reluctant to reveal of her political plans in 2010, would be gunning for a provincial board seat under the governor’s wing while husband, former Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio “Serging” Apostol would run again for the congressional seat in the second district of Leyte.

Mayor Apostol was earlier reported to have referred to the Petillas as “family” and will not back out in their political commitment.

The alliance of these two formidable political clans in the province is said to smooth the way for the selection of official candidates for mayor and other local posts.

With the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) for the 2010 elections only more than three months away, already talks are being made for possible mayoralty contenders in the second district and initial plans are being laid out for the 2010 race.

To recall, the Comelec moved the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) for the 2010 elections to November 30, 2009 instead of January, 2010.

Gov. Petilla and Congresswoman Apostol recently made joint visits in Carigara, Mac Arthur, Mayorga and Dulag.





Congress ready to settle NG’s Philhealth dues - Gullas

August 30, 2009

QUEZON CITY  –  Congress is prepared to settle the national government’s estimated P19.2-billion in arrears to the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth), Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas said Sunday.

"Government should set a positive example for everybody, especially private entities that are obliged to protect their workers by dutifully paying and remitting their mandatory contributions to Philhealth," Gullas said.

"In fact, we are hoping that the Department of Budget and Management included in the proposed 2010 national budget a lump sum appropriation meant to cover all, if not the bulk of the national government’s unpaid obligations to Philhealth," Gullas added.

Malacañang submitted the proposed 2010 General Appropriations Act to Congress only last week.

Gullas likened Philhealth’s predicament to the problem of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) concerning the unpaid contributions of public school teachers.

A growing number of public school teachers are unable to obtain their full social security benefits from the GSIS because, according to the pension fund, the Department of Education has been remiss in paying their contributions.

"We definitely don’t want a situation later on wherein a government worker cannot get health insurance benefits because Philhealth records show that the employee’s contributions were never paid by his or her agency," Gullas said.

Philhealth collects P100 to P750 in monthly premiums from every public and private sector worker, with 50 percent of the amount paid for by the employer. In return, workers get health insurance coverage through accredited service providers.

Whether the national government’s arrears to Philhealth amount to P19.2 billion as claimed by the health insurer’s actuary, or P9 billion as stated by Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, the final amount should be settled and included in next year’s national spending program, Gullas said.

Nerissa Santiago, Philhealth vice president for actuary, had told a Senate hearing that the national government owed the health insurer P19.2 billion, representing unpaid contributions for the required coverage of civil servants.

Santiago warned that unless the dues are paid right away, Philhealth could become insolvent in seven years.

Andaya has disputed Santiago’s claim, saying the national government owed Philhealth only P9 billion.

Gullas, meanwhile, stressed the need for Philhealth to promptly curb its financial losses due fraudulent and padded claims.

Philhealth has been losing up to P4 billion annually to fictitious or overstated claims, mostly involving syndicates in cahoots with unscrupulous health service providers.





2 NPA members die in an encounter in Northern Samar

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

TACLOBAN CITY  –  As a result of the military’s sustained drive against insurgency in Region 8,  two alleged members of the New People's Army were killed in an encounter with government troops in a remote village in Northern Samar on August 27, 2009.

This was gathered from the information sent by LtCol. Armand Rico, information officer of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based at Camp Lukban, Catbalogan City, Samar.

LtCol. Rico disclosed that the two slain alleged rebels were identified as Gerwin Marino and Elo Basiloy, members of the New Peoples’ Army.

Rico said the two were killed in a scuffle between the rebels and members of the 63rd Infantry Battalion at around 9:00 o’clock in the morning of Thursday, August 27, at Barangay Sumoroy, 18 kilometers from the town proper of Lope de Vega, Northern Samar.

The report claimed that a platoon of the 63 Infantry Brigade of the 8th ID led by 1Lt. Ariel Rosuelo, was conducting clearing operations of the reported rebel camp when it encountered more or less 30 NPA bandits.

The firefight which lasted for about 30 minutes, led to the death of two NPA members, who were later on identified by some residents of the village, as Marino and Basiloy. The other NPA members scampered in different directions. No casualty was reported on the government side.

Recovered from the scene were firearms that include one caliber 22 Amscor Magnum; one long and one short magazine for M16 with ammunitions; one stethoscope; one ICOM hand-held radio Model IC-12; one magazine with ammunition for KG 9; seventeen magazine for M14 with ammunitions; two homemade shot guns; five military backpacks & four civilian bags; half sack of rice; one military medical kit; personal belongings and other substantial documents.

The commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, Major General Arthur Tabaquero immediately ordered pursuit operations against the bandit groups and to conduct continues security operations in the area of responsibility.

MGen. Tabaquero called on the public to continue to support the government by reporting the presence of the insurgents in their respective areas. The good general disclosed that some residents in the area informed the military about the presence of the rebels who were allegedly conducting extortion activities.

Military officials have noted the presence of NPA rebels in Northern Samar and the sighting of the same in other provinces of Eastern Visayas.





Samar PPOC convenes to tackle killings

August 27, 2009

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  After a lull of some six months since its last meeting in January this year, member agencies of the Samar Peace and Order Council (PPOC) convened on Tuesday at the Governor’s Conference Hall.

Members of the Samar PPOC meeting with Cong. Sharee Ann TanThe Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) newly installed provincial director Artemio Caneja presided the meeting.

Notably present was the Philippine National police (PNP) Provincial Director Pancho Hubilla who reported about the crime situation in Samar province.

Hubilla in his PowerPoint presentation said that Samar from January to August 2009 has a crime volume of 402 where 233 of these are index crimes while 169 are Non-index crimes.

Index crime means murder, homicide, physical injuries, rape and others while non-index crimes are crimes against property.

The police officer added that Samar PPO has solved some 364 crimes; PNP says a case is solved when appropriate charges have been filed in court.

As the meeting progressed, Congresswoman Sharee Ann Tan aired her concern over the security of local chief executives.

It will be recalled that Matuginao Mayor Carlos dela Cruz was killed on July 16, 2009 in his Catbalogan home.

Hubilla offered a strategy that, he said, will depend on the security needs of the official concerned.

As it is, he said they just have a 58.9% fill up of the required number of PNP and should town mayors require more security personnel, the PNP elements supply may be depleted.

With this, one member of the council moved to invite the different mayors (who are surprisingly not) with their Chief of Police to discuss security measures in a special meeting to be determined by the schedule of Governor Milagrosa Tan.

Gov. Tan is the Chairman of the PPOC, while DILG serves as the secretariat.

Meanwhile, Hubilla finished his presentation by citing the PNPs concern on the 32 Calbayog shooting and seven in Gandara.

He assured those present that PNP Samar is trying to address the peace and order situation in the province, citing that the crime solution rate is 90.77%.

Also present during the PPOC was 8th ID Commanding General MGen. Arthur Tabaquero, 801st Brigade Commander Col. Alex Albano, Col. Miguel of the 34th Infantry Battalion, some department heads and the media.





RP-US Balance Piston 09-2 folds up in Eugenio Daza Camp

August 27, 2009

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  After six weeks of exchange of learning and skills in warfare, small unit forces operations, disaster rescue and even community programs, the RP-US Balance Piston military exercises folded up on Wednesday.

8ID men with US army during trainingClose to a hundred Filipino soldiers with 12 US counterparts exchanged military training and tactics which culminated on Wednesday at the 801st Brigade at Camp Eugenio Daza, Fatima, Hinabangan, Samar.

This military exercise said Brigade Commander Alex Albano is still part of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The almost hundred soldiers were plucked from the different units and battalions all over 8th Infantry Division.

Cpt Philip Kornachuk of the US Special Force led the 12-member US contingent.

Pfc Norman Ladiao, who was a member of the Filipino soldiers team said he gained more knowledge in weaponry.

He pointed to one US Sgt Wally Brinker who was very friendly and eager to share his knowledge.

Cpl Rufino Bueno talked about re-enforced knowledge on squad attack, react to ambush and close quarter battle as his unforgettable lessons.

Meanwhile, Kornachuk and his men will long remember survival in the jungles of Samar, arnis exercises and the warm Filipino hospitality.

Aside from the military tactical exchange, the US soldiers also took part in two medical, dental and civic action (MEDCAP) in Barangay Malinao, Taft, Eastern Samar and in Barangay Bagacay, Hinabanagan, Samar.

Albano told the media that the US contingent provided medicines for the two MEDCAP events which benefited some one thousand rural Filipino folks.

They also left a lasting remembrance of an improved water supply to serve the government troops in the camp which Albano said cost 80 thousand pesos.

Before the speeches and exchanged of mementos and tokens, visitors to include 8th ID commander Arthur Tabaquero and Assistant Chief of Staff for Training and Education Col John Bonifos, the guests were treated to action by the newly trained Filipino troops.

Guests were given a free show on hostage crisis situation and rescue, facing ambush and themselves conducting the same.

Tabaquero in his speech thanked the US servicemen for assisting them in making the Filipinos be aware that the government troops are placing the welfare and security of the people over and above their own.





DENR and LGU Las Navas inked MOA for sustainable management of Pinipisakan Falls, Ginagatusan Caves

August 26, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Recognizing the importance of partnership and alliance building in fulfilling its mandate, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the town of Las Navas in Northern Samar for a joint development and management of Pinipisakan Falls and Ginagatusan Caves in Barangay San Isidro of said town, as an ecotourism destination.

Pinipisakan Falls MOA signing
Mayor Arlito Tan (in checkered polo shirt) showing on camera the signed MOA with RED Regidor de Leon ( in striped polo shirt) as the other officials look on.  (DENR photo)

DENR Regional Executive Director Regidor M. De Leon disclosed that pursuant to the said MOA, the DENR and LGU Las Navas shall jointly allocate, protect, develop and manage the Pinipisakan Falls and Ginagatusan Caves, and its surrounding ecosystem for recreational/ecotourism purposes.

De Leon added that management of the said areas, however, should be consistent with the approved General Management Plan formulated for the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), where the falls and caves are located.  The Pinipisakan Falls and Ginagatusan Caves and its surrounding ecosystem comprising 1,412.31 hectares fall within the buffer and core recreation zone category of the SINP. The SINP is a protected area covered by the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 7586, otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS Act) dated June 01, 1992.  Under the said law, the DENR is being mandated to conserve, protect, develop and manage all national parks and other protected areas through the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), where the LGU is a member.

On the other hand, the Local Government Units (LGUs) are mandated under the Local Government Code (RA 7160) to share with the national government, particularly with DENR, in the responsibility of developing, protecting, conserving natural resources and in the duty of sustainably managing natural resources and its environment within their territorial jurisdiction.

To finance its initial undertaking, the DENR through its Samar Island Biodiversity Project (SIBP) under UNDP funding has allocated four hundred thousand pesos (P400, 000.00).  This amount shall be used to develop visitor’s facilities, conduct social preparation, and create livelihood opportunities through ecotourism services, consistent with projects identified in the approved SINP General Management Plan.

Immediate projects include the construction of the boat landing, view deck and additional cottages and comfort rooms which are basic facilities for tourists.

Northern Samar Provincial Tourism Officer Josette Doctor stressed that one of the things to be done is the formulation of rules or “do’s and don’ts” for tourists so that tourism will not create adverse impacts on the environment. Production of signage shall also be prioritized, to serve as guide for the tourists whether they will be assisted by tour guides or not; as well as the production of a trail map which would lead the visitors from the Pinipisakan Falls to the Ginagatusan Caves.

Mayor Arlito A. Tan of Las Navas thanked the DENR for assisting them in the development of the Pinipisakan Falls and the Ginagatusan Caves.  He encouraged the local people especially the residents of Barangay San Isidro headed by Barangay Chairman Marlon Pialago, to help in making the area tourist friendly by maintaining its cleanliness, peace and order.

Ecotourism in the Pinipisakan Falls and the Ginagatusan caves is expected to bring in livelihood opportunities to the people and spur economic development in Barangay San Isidro as well as the town of Las Navas and neighbouring communities.

After the MOA signing, officials and staff of the LGU of Las Navas, DENR and some Barangay residents of San Isidro, witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony for the proposed boat landing project near the Pinipisakan Falls.  Another proposed facility is a view deck also to be constructed at the foot of the falls.  Construction of said facilities shall utilize the funds from the UNDP thru the DENR-SIBP.

The LGU of Las Navas is also expected to contribute its counterpart fund for the implementation of the project.

Pinipisakan Falls tourism project
RED Regidor de Leon and Mayor Arlito Tan leading the ground breaking ceremony for the boat landing facility.
(DENR photo)





NFA closes Tindahan Natin outlets

By ALICE NICART (PIA Eastern Samar)
August 26, 2009

BORONGAN, Eastern Samar  –  Some 59 Tindahan Natin outlets (TNOs) in the entire province were reportedly closed recently by the National Food Authority (NFA) for violation of Fair Trade Act.

This was gathered from NFA Provincial Office in a phone interview with Assistant Provincial Manager, Corazon Hipe.

Hipe said that the closure resulted from the findings of a Manila based internal audit team which discovered that the government rice was overpriced, in fact most of the TNOs committed this specific abuse.

NFA further stressed that a kilo of NFA rice should be sold at P18.25 only because other costs is subsidized by the government.

“It is unfortunate that several of the TNOs with whom we have entrusted this anti-hunger program of the government have forgotten their sworn social responsibility for personal and financial profit,” Ms. Hipe lamented. “Now, that the NFA auditors from Central Office executed the “One Strike Policy”, that would mean, the poor who cannot afford to buy the commercial rice will be deprived already of this government privilege because NFA will no longer replace a TNO in the locality,” she added.

The spot audit in the province was made last July, the report said, and the Team found out that NFA rice in many barangays were sold either at P20.00 per kilo, sometimes P32, P35 or P36.

Other TNOs did not have price tags, no sign boards; some even diverted the sacks of rice to non-registered buyers.





DepEd Reg 8 pioneers Barangay Education Strategic Team (BEST) project

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
August 26, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  With DepEd Secretary Jesli A. Lapus as the guest of honor, the Department of Education Region 8 in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government Region 8, launched on August 26, 2009, the Barangay Education Strategic Team project.

Director Matugas said that the basic principle of BEST is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for education by 2015 in line with the Education for All, by involving the local government units in terms of increasing the active participation of parents and the academic communities at large; building local level capacity and improving the quality of and access to basic education.

The objective of the BEST is improve access to primary school for all school age children; to ensure quality teaching, learning and training in both the elementary and secondary levels; and to mobilize all education stakeholders and beneficiaries from private and public sectors, Director Matugas added.

The guiding principle of the Best project is anchored on five guiding principles. The first principle is to utilize proper existing structure of the barangay communities such as the social capital and networks in the construction, management and supervision of schools.

The second principle is to foster high standard of responsibility, accountability, morality and integrity in responding to the needs of the schools, teachers, learners and other education stakeholders.

The third principle is the use of “systematic” view and perspective in dealing with schools, while the fourth, is the use of school-based working contracts to ensure commitment to, sustainability of and sense of ownership of the Project.

The fifth principle is the holistic approach to problem-solving and management based on experiential mode of learning.

Assisting DepEd 8 Director Sol Matugas and DILG Region 8 Director William Paler in the unfolding of the BEST tarp were Secretary Lapus, Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, Calbayog City Mayor and RDC Chairman Mel Senen Sarmiento.

In attendance were mayors from Leyte headed by LMP Leyte President Mayor Roque Tiu of Tanauan; mayors from Southern Leyte led by Mayor Pete Fustanes of Southern Leyte; Samar mayors led by its President, Calbiga Mayor Melchor Nacario; and mayors from Northern Samar led by Lao-ang Mayor Madeleine Ong; DepEd family in the different schools divisions in Region 8, barangay chairmen, Director Karina Rosa Tiopes of DOT8 and Director Olive Tiu of PIA 8.

The project launching which was held at the DepEd 8 Gym started with a press conference with Secretary Jesli Lapus, SEAMEO-Innotech chairperson and former DepEd Secretary Erlinda Pefianco, and Director Sol Matugas as resource persons and PIA 8 Director Olive P. Tiu as moderator.

The ribbon cutting and unveiling of the STRIVE T&D and LRMD Center Markers followed by the opening of the gallery of Best Practices, were done by the honored guests.

This was followed by the launching and signing of the Book “At Our Best” which Director Matugas said is a compilation of the Best Practices of the Education sector in Region 8.





LMP Visayas Island Conference reminds DA on P1M farm-to-market-road promise

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
August 25, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Among the resolutions passed during the League of Municipalities of the Philippines Visayas Island Cluster Conference in Subic on August 18-20, 2009 is that which reminds Department of Agriculture thru Secretary Arthur Yap of his P1 Million for farm-to-market road projects promise.

The Visayas Mayors who were present noted that the promise was made by Secretary Yap two years ago during the General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines held in Cebu City two years ago.

Another resolution passed called for the holding of a conference for upland municipalities.

The Visayas Island Cluster observed that a Conference for Coastal Municipalities has been conducted so that the municipalities could share the best practices, identify their concerns and collectively identify the interventions needed.

In the same manner, the upland municipalities must also have a venue where they could share and learn from the best practices, identify their concerns and together, discuss how and what interventions must be adopted to check the concerns.

The Visayas Island Cluster Conference was attended by the municipal mayors from Western Visayas or Region 6, Central Visayas or Region 7 and Eastern Visayas or Region 8.

Mayor Ramon N. Guico, Jr. National President, informed that Article VIII, Section 20 of the New By-Laws of the LMP requires the establishment of the Island Clusters in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

These island clusters are mandated to hold their respective annual conferences to discuss local governance issues and concerns affecting their clusters.

More importantly, the LMP has institutionalized the island Clusters in order to promote greater inter-municipality cooperation and to address island-specific governance challenges and opportunities requiring appropriate actions from the LMP, the national government, the private sector, the civil society and other stakeholders of local governance.



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