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Samar welcomes Multi-Sectoral Quick Reaction Team (MSQRT)

2 dead as a passenger bus fell on a mountainside in Maasin City

Gandara Mayor posts bail for gun ban violation

Mining exploration permits should remain within bounds, says Leyte guv

DPWH bans putting names or pictures of officials in project billboards

Accounts Com chair Bem Noel prioritizes health programs to Waray provinces

Food producers and processors enrich Samar Day celebration

Anti-drugs campaign in Eastern Samar continues: Gov. Nicart strongly supports buy-bust and retrieval operations of cocaine

They should run for Governor not Board Members or apply at the Ombudsman or COA, says Gov. Tan

Leyte vice-gov is new chairperson of Vice-Governors League of RP





TRO stops implementation of the Appropriation Ordinance No. 13-002 for Samar’s 2010 Annual Budget

September 2, 2010

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  The five (5) Board Members of Samar, representing the opposition block, has petitioned for the court’s legal intervention by issuing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in an effort to forestall the execution of an illegally and arbitrarily approved Appropriation Ordinance on the 2010 Annual Budget, as alleged.

Yesterday’s issuance of the TRO by Judge Reynaldo Clemens, Calbayog RTC Executive Judge, will be effective for the next seventy two (72) hours. All the Offices concerned, including the Land Bank of the Philippines - Catbalogan Branch, were provided copies of the TRO for their guidance.

The decision to seek for a TRO came after a Letter of Disclaimer, dated August 27, 2010, was sent to the Office of the Vice-Governor. The letter formally and officially disclaimed the validity of the ordinance for the approval of the P1.1 Billion Annual Budget of the Province of Samar for 2010 that transpired during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on August 26, 2010 at the Samar Provincial Capitol Building. The letter manifested that all transactions and/or dealings pursuant to the said invalid ordinance shall be ineffective and has no force and effect of the law.

Furthermore, the signatories are convinced that the procedure adopted by the members who took part in the approval of the said budget was improper and illegal, as it failed to meet the necessary requirements for the approval of an Appropriation Ordinance which requires the majority vote of all the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, imposed under paragraph (g), article 107 of the Local Government Code Implementing Rules.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Samar is composed of fourteen (14) members including the Vice-Governor as Presiding Officer. Simply said, at least eight (8) members should have voted for the ordinance in question, the petitioners argued.

It was learned that when the session started at eleven in the morning, nine (9) SP members were present, to include the Presiding Officer. During the second break or recess, Hon. Arthur Vaughn M. Zosa arrived. However, two (2) of its members (Hon. Noel Sermense and Hon. Jimmy Dy) walked out and boycotted the session when they sensed that the budget would be railroaded. The walk out was in protest of the irregular proceedings that they have witnessed. After their departure, the session resumed with only a total of seven (7) members present, a number which is not sufficient to constitute a quorum when the “voting or approval by general consent” was conducted.

“Moreover, the 2010 Annual Budget was unceremoniously, clandestinely and surreptitiously treated as it was not calendared on the said session and it was only treated on the item for Other Matters, despite the fact that said 2010 budget is already with the proper Committee and is under treatment and consideration of the concerned committees”, the Board Members add.

The ruling of the Presiding Officer on the approval of the 2010 Budget was arrived, despite the absence of a quorum, when Hon. Juan C. Latorre was acknowledged to take the floor and cited an alleged provision in their Internal Rules of Procedure that allows them to recall the proposed 2010 Annual Budget from the two (2) Committees for its failure to submit a required report after a lapse of one (1) month since its referral. Accordingly, Latorre on a verbal manifestation, moved that the Committee on Finance and Appropriations and the Committee on Laws and Legal Matter be divested of their jurisdictional authority over a referral so that it could be brought back to plenary for direct disposition. After a corresponding motion was presented, a “voting or approval by general consent” procedure ensued. As anticipated, the budget was approved by a simple minority, having voting members identified to belong to the administration block.

As of press time, capitol employees are queuing up at its lobby, hoping that their benefits will be released after the TRO expires on Friday. However, they do not discount the possibility of an extension of the TRO. “Kun ano man it ira ginsasaramukan hiunong hito nga budget, deri gad kunta kami ig api. Damo na ha am an nagugutom ngan naglalaum nga makakabulig hin dako ha amon tagsa nga pamilya ini nga mga benipisyo. Kunta an matuod ug tama an ira buhaton kay mga Honorable man ada hira. Deri dapat gamiton an amon mga katungod ug panginahanglon nga rason para magpressure hin bisan kanay nga grupo. Baga kamin an gin hostage kay kami la it ginhimo nga pasangil. Kay ano man nga mayada man mga vouchers ug checks nga nasuklian han martes han aga? Kay ano nga waray kami nga mga empleyado an unaha? An para ha amon, ihatag gad man”, was an employees’ appeal to our provincial leaders.

On the other hand, other agencies are happy that the budget has been approved. Ms. Luz Tacal of the PSWDO excitedly announced that the social development funds she had requested to be placed under her Office was provided. She feels assured now to be able to deliver effectively the services that are mandated under her office. Likewise, a GSP volunteer is happy that the budget is now approved because for quite a time, their organization was not able to receive subsidies from the provincial government due to the unapproved budget.

A Financial Manager, who refuses to be identified, said that the benefits of capitol employees are most affected by the TRO. He explained that the release of the 25% salary adjustments are already delayed and that the Office of the Governor is already mandated by the court to release the P25,000 Productivity Enhancement Incentives. The payrolls are already prepared for the purpose, but the TRO prevents them from disbursing the funds, he further stressed. Team is still to confirm reports regarding releases and encashment of checks with huge amounts that has been paid to contractors prior to the effectivity of the Temporary Restraining Order.





Majority pushes TRO to block budget release

September 2, 2010

CALBAYOG CITY  –  To make it stronger, Samar’s first district board members filed a petition in court questioning the validity of the budget approval last August 26, 2010 during the regular session. Such move was preceded by a disclaimer executed on August 27 signed by Majority Floor Leader Charlie Coñejos, SP members Noel Sermense, Renato Uy, Prudencio Dy, Jasper Sumagang, Eunice Babalcon and Jimmy Dy addressed to Provincial Budget Officer Maximo Sison.

Liberal Party’s Legal Adviser Roger Casurao said that the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is the most convenient and appropriate way of approaching the problem in order to prevent the province from releasing the budget. The passage of the 2010 budget was declared null and void because the procedure adopted by the board members present was improper and illegal as it failed to meet the necessary requirement for approval which requires the majority vote of all the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Based on the record, only 5 members of the Sanggunian signed for the passage, while the letter of disclaimer was signed by 7.

Moreover, the 2010 annual budget was unceremoniously, clandestinely and surreptitiously treated during said regular session as it was not calendared and was only brought on the item for Other Matters despite the fact that said 2010 budget is already with the proper committees, and is under treatment and consideration.

“We learned our lessons already in approving the budget. If you’re going to examine the budget very closely, it is characterized by absurdities. Too much concentration on the purchase of medicines by hundreds of millions”, he recalled as a former SP member.

Clarifying the “walk out scenario” of Board Member Sermense, Casurao admitted that the former has indeed left the session hall when Liga President Joseph Escober injected the idea of discussing the budget under Other Matters, followed up by BM Juan Latorre who spoke for its approval manifesting his argument that the committees in charged were no longer taking part in the budget hearing and the August body should assume responsibility (overlooking the 8-vote requirement and the petition).

Be it noted that it was Latorre who spared the majority bloc from opposition’s annoyance. He justified in the previous press conference initiated by Governor Sharee Ann Tan that the new set of board members are rational compared to the old one.

As a consequence, former SP member now Calbayog City Councilor Roger Casurao explained the non-passage of the 2009 budget for its unjust formulation as it actually did not address the real problems of the province. The Annual Investment Plan (AIP) submitted to the August body was highly questionable. First, the economic policy of a local government unit should be based on a 10 year Comprehensive Development Program and not on a yearly basis.

“So I was wondering where they got their AIP. There was nothing to take it from! Why should we entertain an annual budget that is not precedent to the AIP? And even if there was, we are certain… that AIP was bogus”, he asserted.

Casurao added that if there is a failure to come out with a regular budget the law on reenactment will come in. The reason is to prevent the hiatus in the delivery of basic services in the province. Irrespective of whoever sits as local chief executive, the fixed mandatory budget such as the 5% calamity fund, personnel services and MOOE (Miscellaneous and Other Operating Expenses) shall not affected. What prevents the majority from passing the budget is the utilization of the 20% Development Fund.

“The reason why we are against the budget because of the poor utilization. Kag-upay pa ba san mga ngaran san ira programa – poverty alleviation, hunger mitigation, but it has no meaning! Ada la iton san paraffle, panhatag bugas and the like. Magsakit ira buot kay diri nira nadudukaw an 20% Development Fund nga mao pirme an source of corruption”

He revealed that the province’s income is only P3M and the government is just relying on the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) without formulating tax efficiency measures and improving production.





Tanauan rider reigns in Palm Beach 1st Int’l Skimboarding fete in Hongkong

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 2, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Leyte First District Board Member Roque Tiu expressed his elation on the recent developments in the skimboarding water sports in Tanauan, Leyte which only strengthens Tanauan’s stand as the skimboarding capital of the country.

Board Member Tiu said that one skimboarder from Tanauan bagged the championship trophy in an international skimboarding competition in Hongkong while another one brought home the championship trophy in a competition in Zambales.

Mr. Leo Espada, champion skimboarder of Tanauan, Leyte, outplayed riders from other countries to win the championship trophy in the Palm Beach 1st International Skimboarding Competition held on August 29, 2010 at Palm Beach, Cheung Sha, Lantau Island in Hongkong.

Leo, Board Member Tiu said, was sponsored by Aloha Skimboards which is a perennial sponsor in the Tanauan National and International Competitions. Leo’s local travel was sponsored by the local government of Tanauan under the new leadership of Mayor Agapito Pagayanan Jr.

The skimboarding competition was held from 11:00 o’clock in the morning to 8:00 o’clock in the evening of August 29.

The first runner up trophy went to Richard Paril, a Filipino who is now based in Hongkong and who has joined the Tanauan, Leyte International Skimboarding Competition.

While Leo Espada was competing in Hongkong, another Tanauan skimboarder was competing in the 7th Zambales Attack skimboarding competition and also won for Tanauan, Leyte the championship trophy.

Brando “Si-aw” Espada, also a champion skimboarder of Tanauan, was declared the champion of the 7th Zambales Attack held on August 27-29 at Iba, Zambales. Dariel Espada of Tanauan, Leyte won the first runner up trophy while Rioben Vivero, also of Tanauan won as third runner up.

Board Member Tiu expressed his delight that a rider from Borongan, Eastern Samar, Roderick Bazar of Borongan, won as the 2nd runner up in the Zambales competition.

The skimboarders of Tanauan, Leyte were sponsored by the Local Government Unit, Board Member Tiu said, as he called on the other local government units to also encourage their respective youth to engage in the skimboarding water sports.





Continuation of Oplan Bantay Laya II: another life claimed

September 2, 2010

Last August 25, 2010 at around 7:00 in the evening, Casiano Abing, a court employee and a member of the progressive partylist Bayan Muna was shot inside his house at Poblacion, Balangiga, Eastern Samar by a lone gunman. He was brought to a hospital but was declared dead-on-arrival. The victim sustained five (5) gunshot wounds leading to his death. Casiano Abing was a responsible father and a good man with no personal enemies.

The Regional Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, KATUNGOD-SB-KARAPATAN, condemns in the highest possible terms the killing of Casiano Abing. Said killing is the first recorded case of extra-judicial killing in the Region and the 1st under the Aquino Administration. Said killing only shows that with the extension of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II, the state policy of political killings would continue and indeed continuing. More so that it was declared that the target of this extension is Negros and Samar.

For the record, it is the Aquino Administration that openly declared and admitted the existence of Oplan Bantay Laya II. Said open admission only shows that our long contention that there is a state policy of systematic crackdown on the progressive organizations really existed. These progressive organizations, including our Regional Alliance, are being tagged by the military and other state agents as the “sectoral front” of the New People’s Army thereby making its/our members and leaders the target of their “neutralization” actions: arresting, detaining, and killing.

With this first case of extra-judicial killing in the Region, we are calling on all peace-loving people of Eastern Visayas to condemn this brutal killing and to be one with us in our quest for justice for Casiano Abing and for the 120 victims of extra-judicial killings. These cases must not dishearten us but rather must serve as a challenge to us to continue our struggle for our human rights and to stand side-by-side our oppressed brothers and sisters in the Region who are also fighting for their rights.





3rd Regional Coconut Summit unfolds Sept 2 at Hotel Alejandro

September 2, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala will keynote the September 2-3 third Regional Coconut Summit at Hotel Alejandro here which will dwell on the them “enhanced technologies: a key to sustain the coconut industry in Eastern Visayas”.

Sec. Alcala, who will be introduced by Department of Agriculture regional director Leo P. Cañeda, is expected to convey to summit participants and local coco industry players the priority programs of his department alongside those of President Benigno Aquino III’s administration.

Executive manager Mae Ann D. Reyes of the Department of Science and Technology will  manage the open forum which will follow after the DA secretary’s speech that will set the tone of the two-day summit.

In opening the program for Sept. 2, An Waray Party-List representative Florencio “Bem” G. Noel will welcome the guests and participants.  After his part, summit director Joel O. Pilapil will give the rationale and introduce the participants.

Leyte governor Jericho L. Petilla will next give a message.  Next, Philippine Coconut Authority administrator Oscar G. Garin will present and discuss the national coconut industry roadmap.  This will be followed by the presentation of the Eastern Visayas regional coconut industry development plan by Edilberto A. Hinay, ROCS chairman. Towards noontime, Dr. Severino S. Magat, PCA’s department manager for ARMD, will discuss production and sustainable coconut farming ecosystem in climate-change minimization.

By afternoon, there will be plenary presentations.  In the area of production, the integrated coco-based farming comes to the forefront as the first subject matter. Leonito B. Uy, project manager of PASFCO at Palo, Leyte, will present the “PPP: Baybay Tall Nursery”.

Manny A. Licup, chief operations officer of SC Global Coco Products Inc. which is based in Baybay, Leyte, will come in next with his presentation on “Production Marketing Links”, to be followed by Luis Caro Jr., chairman of the Uson SCFMPC in barrio Uson, Caibiran, Biliran.

The last presentation for the day concerns extension which will bring to focus the Farmers Field School, to be rendered by Ed Done, EVPRD (Catarman, Northern Samar) executive director.

Rep. Noel and fellow An Waray Party-List Neil Benedict A. Montejo will unveil the Northern Samar Stakeholders’ Coco House by seven o’clock in the evening. The first day’s schedule winds up with a dinner and fellowship.

On the last day (Sept. 3), DOST Sec. Mario G. Montejo will give a message.  He will be introduced by professor Viola C. Siozon of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas Tacloban College.

From 9 to 10 o’clock in the morning, there will demonstrations on technological processes, to wit: coconut sap sugar production – by Erlene Manohar, division chief of PCA’s MEDD, and coco-based food processing – by the ITDI of DOST, both on the food processing aspect. Meanwhile, the non-food demonstration will be as follows: coco ethanol – by EVPRD’s Engr. Jaime Gilbuela, integrated coconut processing – by Allan Ambil of Agri-Fuel Inc. which operates in Eastern Samar, and Palwood: wood from coconut fronds – by Engr. Noel B. Beira of PTS (Cagayan de Oro City).

Another forum, focusing on these topics, will follow.

Next on the schedule is a presentation on simple ways or methods of containing brontispa, to be handled by Mateo Zipagan of ARC (Albay). Cherlita B. Giray, ROCS secretary, will next take up the topic “sustaining the summit gains on regional industry unity: strengthening the regional organization of coconut stakeholders (ROCS). Raul T. Repulda, chief of the PMD of DA RFU 8 will give a synthesis of the summit before it closes towards lunch time.  Rep. Montejo will officially close the major event.





DENR USec Dolino bares new policies in mining

September 2, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  “Mining has been identified by our government as one of the major focus areas of economic activity.” This was revealed by Environment Undersecretary Jeremias Dolino when he graced the 1st Regional Mining Stakeholders Forum in Tacloban City recently.

USec Dolino revealed that the latest mining statistics as of July 28, 2010 show that taxes, fees and royalties from mining nationwide amount to 9.175 billion pesos.

However, USec Dolino was quick to admit that the mining industry in the country still faces strong opposition from anti-mining groups. “Various oppositions to mining have stalled the upward growth of the industry,” he laments. “Several NGOs, the church, academe, indigenous peoples and even some local government units have expressed very strong sentiments against mining,” he said.  USec Dolino cited that even in Region 8, the provinces of Eastern Samar and Samar have issued a 50-year moratorium on large scale mining.

For the mining sector to grow and prosper, mining should now be anchored on the principles of sustainable development to ensure that the economic, environmental and social concerns of mining operations would be addressed.

Already, several new policies have been issued by the DENR to make environmental management mandatory in all stages of the mining process.

DENR Memorandum Circular 2010-14 strengthens public participation in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process of environmentally critical projects such as mining. Local government units have also been given representation in the Minerals Development Council to encourage their participation in promoting and developing socially responsible mining in the country through Executive Order No. 469-A.

USec Dolino likewise informed the participants of the Mining Stakeholders Forum about a DENR-DOF-DBM-DILG Joint Circular signed on June 25 this year which revises the guidelines on the release of the share of LGUs derived by the national government from royalty income collected from mineral reservations. The Joint Circular reiterates the 40% revenue share of LGUs. From this, 20% goes to the province, 45% for the component city or municipality and 35% for the host barangay. Meanwhile, highly urbanized cities where the natural resources are located gets a 65% share, while the remaining 35% goes to the host barangay.

USec Dolino announced another positive development in mining that would benefit LGUs and other stakeholders. This is the issuance of DENR Administrative Order No. 2010-13 this year. The DAO requires a mining permit holder/lessee to allot annually a minimum of 1.5% of their operating costs for community development implementation and provide funds for information, education and communication campaigns.

According to him, newly installed President Benigno Aquino, Jr. encourages all sectors involved to meet on common ground to “allay the fears and also afford the people of the benefits of mining investments.”

He also assured the mining stakeholders that the present government shall strictly adhere to the principles of sustainable development even as it promotes mining as a vehicle for economic growth.

“I promote mining, but I have to protect the environment,” USec Dolino said.

The 1st Regional Mining Stakeholders Forum was organized by the Regional Minerals Development Council of Region 8 chaired by RED Primitivo C. Galinato, Jr. in coordination with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. It was attended by various stakeholders of the mining industry which included representatives of mining companies who are operating in the region, host LGUs, the academe and the church. It was held at the Ritz Tower de Leyte, Tacloban City on August 18, 2010.





Rep. Mercado vows completion of airport and alternate seaport facilities

September 1, 2010

MAASIN CITY  –  Now on his third and final term as the representative of Southern Leyte’s lone legislative district, Cong. Roger Mercado has vowed to finish this city’s airport at barangay Panan-awan and the alternative docking port at barangay Guadalupe.

And to put flesh to this long-cherished aspiration, the lawmaker said this will be one among his many priorities as chairman of the House Committee on Transportation in the present Congress.

Speaking at his bi-monthly radio program live at DYDM over the weekend, Cong. Mercado said it’s about time travelers in these parts enjoy the comfort and speed of air travel against the usual three hours of land trip to Tacloban to avail of a plane ride.

He said he had spoken with Transportation Secretary Ping de Jesus for the fast completion of the airport project so it can service passengers wanting to reach Manila and other urban centers in a matter of an hour, if not minutes.

On the other side, on the sea lanes, a new roll-on, roll-off facility at barangay Can-iwan must be pursued, inasmuch as this has been part of a grand plan to connect the Philippine islands called the Super Regions project, said Cong. Mercado.

Once these two projects shall have been finished and functional, it will complement all the concreted highways in the province, the tallest bridge in Agas-Agas, and would surely spur economic development, he added.

By that time, Cong. Mercado joked that he can sleep with eyes closed, his back flat on the bed, satisfied with the thought that he has contributed these things as a step in the right direction, to attain progress for the province and its people.  (PIA-Southern Leyte)





Catbalogan offers a ‘healing’ mass for the victims of the hostage drama

September 1, 2010

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  Catbalogan local government officials offered a ‘healing mass’ at the San Bartolome Parish Church yesterday afternoon as their flag flies half-mast in reverence to those who perished during that fateful hostage drama crisis in Manila.

Fr. Pines Tabones who celebrated the mass sought the parishioners help in praying hard for the victims and their families.

He added that times are hard and we need extra efforts to pray so that people who have lost hope maybe inspired and not to resort to desperate actions.

Tabones also reminded the faithful to be “responsible for their actions”.

Madames Ybeth Velasco of the Mayor’s Office said she had goose bumps as she lighted her candle in memory of those who died in the hostage drama.

Ms. Ruby Robosura of the Accounting Department of the LGU led a prayer for the faithful departed especially those who died as an aftermath of the hostage situations.

A special prayer was also offered for ‘healing’ the relationship of the two countries strained by the pains of the death of Hongkong nationals.

The hostage drama was about a sacked PNP member who wanted an audience with his officers to review his case but something went wrong somewhere that resulted to his death and also at least five Hongkong tourist nationals who were on board the ill fated bus.

The offered mass and special prayers were meant to unite with those in Manila who offered a prayer rally for the very same purpose according to Vice-Mayor Art Gabon and Councilor Stephany Tan.

Those who attended the mass offered candles and silent prayers for the physical and emotional healing of those hurt deeply in the incident.  (PIA-Samar)



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