City will make RP “more fun” for projected 10-M annual tourist visits
- DOT Sec. Jimenez
MANILA – The
Department of Tourism (DOT) is optimistic that Philippine Amusement
and Gaming Corporation’s multi-billion Entertainment City project will
make the country “more fun” to visit and help DOT achieve its targeted
10 million annual tourist visits by 2016.
Ramon Jimenez said the mixed-use entertainment complex, which is
expected to attract at least one million tourists yearly once it
becomes fully operational, will complement the DOT’s programs under
the slogan: “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”
“Any development that
involves attracting tourists is beneficial to our program to boost the
tourism sector. Pagcor’s
City will be beneficial to Philippine tourism,” Jimenez said.
“Gaming is only one
part of the Entertainment City. It will also attract the families of
players. There will be a comprehensive package, which includes tourist
sites in the City of
and other nearby environs,” he added.
Vegas-style facility is expected to generate $10 billion annually in
gaming revenues alone, of which 25 percent or about US$ 2.5 billion
will go to the government.
City will have a big impact on our tourism industry,” Jimenez added.
As this developed,
Jimenez said Pagcor Chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. is on top of the
situation in so far as accusations of impropriety hurled against him
by casino magnate Steve Wynn are concerned.
Jimenez said Wynn’s
accusations “will not have a major impact” on the Entertainment City’s
“The project is not
personality-based and Chairman Naguiat has the situation well in
hand,” the Tourism chief added.
said the counter-complaint of Japanese casino magnate Kazuo Okada
clearing Pagcor officials of any wrongdoing bolsters Naguiat’s
position that the accommodation he received last year in
Macau was “industry practice” among casino operators.
supports the position of chairman Naguiat that he did not do anything
wrong,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Okada denied that his
firm, Universal Entertainment, did anything improper to obtain favors
from Naguiat and other Pagcor officials in connection with plans to
put up a $2 billion casino resort in the country.
Naguiat earlier said
Entertainment City will make the country one of the world’s leading
gambling destinations, thus resulting in a huge “trickle down” effect
to the Filipino people, most especially the poor being helped by
Pagcor. Pagcor currently finances many of the government’s social,
civic, educational; and environmental projects and programs.
Bureau of Treasury
data showed that Pagcor has remitted P11.437 billion to the national
government last year, exceeding expectations. BOT said the P11.437
billion signifies a 4.5% over the projections of the Department of
The increase is also
10.5% higher than Pagcor's remittance of P10.343 billion in 2010.
Naguiat attributed the
growth in income to the improved gaming mix in casinos and enhanced
marketing and gaming offerings of its casinos.
Pagcor operates 13
Casino Filipino facilities and has 4 licensed casinos – Fontana Casino
and Fort Stotsenberg in Pampanga, East Bay Casino in Rizal and Poro
crowd to help map all health facilities in the country
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
TACLOBAN CITY – PhilHealth is encouraging the online crowd to help map up all health
facilities in the Philippines in order to maximize the benefits of the
social networking platform.
Atty. Jerry F. Ibay,
PhilHealth-8 Regional Vice-President said that recognizing the strong
presence of Filipinos on the Internet, PhilHealth hopes to gather
their support to pin all health facilities on an online map.
PhilHealth will then
display data over the facilities to better inform the public about
available services in those facilities as committed to the
In support to the
Administration’s Kalusugan Pangkalahatan, the Philippine Health
Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) recently launched the first of its
‘Crowdsourcing for Health’ initiatives using GoogleMaps.
defined as the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a
designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an
undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open
Leveraging the free
services of Google Map Maker, PhilHealth, under the leadership of Dr.
Eduardo P. Banzon, president and CEO, invites the Filipino community
to start pinning both public and private health facilities on the
The health facilities
would range from hospitals, birthing homes or lying-in centers,
private medical clinics, government health centers, dialysis centers,
pharmacies, laboratories, and blood banks. Other health facilities can
also be added.
Meanwhile, Ms. Marimar
Zabala, information officer of PhilHealth Tacloban said that if one
cannot pin the health facility on Google, he or she may opt to use the
open source-based OpenStreetMap.org.
are encouraged to pin as many health facilities as they can using
Google MapMaker at www.google.com/mapmaker or OpenStreetMap at
www.openstreetmap.org. PhilHealth will display a summary of the health
facilities at the map on its official website, www.philhealth.gov.ph
under Online Services.
One does not have to
be a health professional to join in the endeavor, Ms. Zabala said. All
that is needed is the desire to join in the bayanihan effort. The goal
is to encourage Filipinos to join the race to universal health
To be implemented visa
reforms to boost PH competitiveness, DOT says
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
TACLOBAN CITY – The
visa reforms which will soon be implemented will boost the
competitiveness of the Philippines as a tourism destination.
DOT Region 8 Director
Karina Rosa Tiopes informed that the new visa policies was agreed upon
by DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert
del Rosario, Justice Secretary Leila Delima and Bureau of Immigration
Commissioner Ricardo David.
Director Tiopes said
that among the new visa policies agreed upon include the increase in
the visa-free privilege for 166 countries/territories from 21 to 30
Another new policy is
the granting of a 30-day visa-free stay to Chinese nationals
travelling to the Philippines as part of a tour group handled by a
Department of Tourism-accredited Philippine tour operator.
Moreover, there is
also the new policy granting a 14-day visa-free stay for Indian
nationals who have a valid American,
Australian, Canadian, Shengen, Singapore, or United Kingdom visa.
Director Tiopes said
that the DOT Secretary underscored that the implementation of these
new policies is part of the Aquino Administration’s efforts to attract
more foreign tourists and spread the benefits of tourism to the
countryside by simplifying entry requirement procedures and processes
and allowing them more time to experience what the Philippines has to
This will definitely
help in achieving the DOT’s target of 10 million foreign visitors by
2016, Director Tiopes echoed the Secretary.
believes that there is a need to address the perception abroad that it
is difficult to enter the Philippines. With these visa reforms, the
Philippines will be at par with the entry policies of neighbours in
the region and, for some markets, more liberal.
and Malaysia allow entry of nationals of most countries without a visa
for stays of up to 30 days. Tourists entering Cambodia are issued
visas upon arrival valid for one month, except for nationals of ASEAN
countries who are allowed to enter visa-free.
Other policy reforms,
including a special long-stay visa for active retirees, are currently
being reviewed by a working group composed of representatives from the
Department of Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs and Bureau of
Immigration, Director Tiopes said.
Church leaders gather to express opposition to large-scale mining in Eastern Visayas and Masbate
By CATHERINE T. BALDELOBAR,
TACLOBAN CITY – The
Eastern Visayas Ecumenical Forum on People’s Mining was held on 19 Mar
2012 at Cawaksi Learning Center, San Jose Tacloban City. The forum
Head of the Conveners were Bp Dulce Pia-Rose of United Church of
Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), Rev Fr Victor Palero of Iglesia
Filipina Independiente (IFI), and Msgr Walter Cerbito of the Roman
Catholic (RC). The forum underscored the unity statement of the
aforecited religious groups.
The statement claimed
that it is imperative of the faith of the religious in Eastern Visayas
to join hands and lives to preserve and defend the wealth God has
bestowed on the people. Six (6) Bishops and their clergy in the Roman
Catholic Dioceses of Catarman, Calbayog, Borongan, Palo, Naval, and
Maasin; with the Conference Ministers, Pastors and Lay Leaders led by
the Area Bishop in the East Visayas Jurisdiction of the United Church
of Christ in the Philippines; and with the Bishops and Priests of the
Diocese of BILLESA (Biliran, Leyte and Samar) of the Iglesia Filipina
Independiente have shown their unequivocal position against the
The statement averred
that Samar, Leyte, Biliran and Masbate, among others, has been
desecrated and destroyed for ages now by a few and powerful mining
foreign investors with their Filipino counterparts as their dummies
and in cahoots with the government. This has made impossible the
distribution of unused public lands and the tenanted lands of the
rural landlords to the landless farmers. In spite of all this
exploitation that could be valued in billions, we know there are still
trillions of pesos worth of bauxite, chromites, pyrite, nickel,
copper, gold, uranium, coal, aluminium, vanadium, titanium, and 20
other mineral deposits left in the whole of Eastern Visayas.
The unity statement
calls to stop the wanton anti-people exploitation of foreign and local
mining companies, to junk or repeal Mining Act of 1995, to support and
uphold People’s Mining Bill 4315, and to call for all parishioners of
RC, IFI, and UCCP to participate in the education, mobilization, and
organization programs and activities on upholding the People’s Mining
60 schools in Leyte
adapt DOST STARBOOKS
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
Palo, Leyte – For the 60 schools in the DepEd Leyte Division that
have availed of the DOST STARBOOKS, the common problem of old
fashioned and incomplete libraries in schools is now a thing of the
With the end in view
of coping up with the modern times and providing an effective and
efficient access to Science and Technology Information through the use
of information and communication technologies, the Department of
Science and Technology in Region 8 recently signed a Memorandum of
Agreement with the Department of Education Leyte Division for the
implementation of the project “Piloting of STARBOOKS in Selected
Schools in Leyte Division.”
STARBOOKS, or the
Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly-Operated
Kiosk Station, is the First Philippine Science Digital Library
developed by the Science and Technology Information Institute (STII)
of DOST. It is a system that provides free access on S&T information
for academic and livelihood use, DOST Director Edgardo Esperacilla,
The system provides
relevant and latest information on S&T subjects. Users can have
access to thousands of titles of books, journals, scientific
researches, technical and annual reports and other latest data and
information contained at the DOST’s Science Information Network (SciNeT),
Philippine eLib project sources, freely-available online resources,
and subscribed databases.
The recipients of the
project are selected educational institutions/libraries in Leyte
Division with S&T priority subjects in their curriculum. The project
also aims to create and enhance interest of students in the field of
S&T, encourage their great and curious minds to develop new ideas,
inventions and innovations and stimulate and inspire their capacity to
get involved in research and entrepreneurship.
DOST Leyte Provincial
Director John Glen Ocana said he is happy that when he informed Leyte
Division Superintendent Sarah Apurillo about the STARBOOKS, she
readily accepted the idea.
Director Ocana said
that at least 60 schools of the Leyte Division have already availed of
the STARBOOKS. These schools include Palo National High School,
Tanauan National High School, Julita National High School, Tolosa
National High School, Cassidy Elementary School, Library Hub of the
Division of Leyte, Burauen Comprehensive National High School, Palo I
Central School, Santa Mesa, Dagami National High School,
Justimbaste-Remandaban National High School in Tabon-Tabon,
Granja-Kalinawan National High School in Jaro, Tanauan I Central, Sta.
Fe Central School, Alangalang National High School, MacArthur National
High School, Astorga National High School, San Joaquin National High
School, Carigara School of Fisheries, Tanauan School of Craftsmanship
and Home Industries, Burauen South District, and Binongtoan Central
School at Alangalang II.
The second batch of
schools that availed of STARBOOKS includeHindang Central School,
Abuyog National High School, Plaridel Central School, Javier National
High School, Bontoc National High School, Hampipila National High
School, Baybay National High School, Bato National High School,
Matalom National High School, Mahaplag National High School, Hilongos
National Vocational School, Plaridel National High School, Bunga
National High School, Caridad National High School, Inopacan National
High, Baybay I Central School, Inopacan Central School, Sta Margarita
National High School, Hindang National High School.
The third batch of
schools consists of Calubian National High School, Leyte National High
School-Main, Leyte National High School- Consuegra Annex, Damulaan
National High School, Kananga I Central School, Matlang National High
School, Marcelino R. Veloso National High School, Isabel National
Comprehensive School, Tabango Central School, Tabango National High
School, Muertegui National High School, Dr. Geronimo B. Zaldivar
Memorial School of Fisheries, Calubian South Central School, San
Isidro National High School, Merida Vocational School, Leyte
Agro-Industrial School, Matag-ob National High School, and Palompon
Other schools that
wish to avail of the STARBOOKS will be given the contents/software for
free. However, they are required to provide for the computer system
with the minimum requirements specified for the installation of the
STARBOOKS software, Mr. Ocana said.
“A vote on RH for a
vote in 2013” says newly elected student leaders
QUEZON CITY – Newly
elected student leaders of top universities and colleges of the
country have come out in support of the call to vote on the RH Bill.
The RH Bill or Reproductive Health Bill is currently being deliberated
in Congress and in the Senate. But supporters of the bill say that
the RH Bill has been languishing in both Houses of Congress for more
than 10 years.
“For us, the RH Bill
is pro-youth and to be anti-RH is to be anti-youth.” This is the
strong statement of Gibby Gorres, National Secretary-General of the
Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP). SCAP has 150
member universities, colleges and student political parties all over
“We believe that more
than 10 years of debate is enough time for our leaders in the House
and in the Senate to make a decision.” Benjamin de Leon, President of
the Forum for Family Planning and Development (The Forum) said. The
Forum is an NGO pushing for the passage of the RH Bill and a partner
According to the
Commission on Higher Education (CHED), college enrolment continues to
rise yearly. In SY 2010-2011 there were 2.63 million enrolees and 2.66
million enrolees for SY 2011-2012 in 1,793 higher education
“We were elected in
our respective schools because we would like to believe that our
fellow students know that we will speak out for their rights. I
support the passage of the RH Bill because millions of young people
suffer from RH related issues such as HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy and
even maternal deaths,” said Robby Camagong, former student council
member of De La Salle University and officer of Student Council
Alliance of the
“The voice of the
youth should not be ignored in the debate on the RH Bill. According
to the NDHS (National Demographic and Health Survey), 10% of all 15-19
year old girls are already mothers. Needless to say, a legislator who
is deaf and blind to the needs and sentiments of his or her
constituencies, especially young people, does not deserve a seat in
Congress.” Gorres said. Gorres also says that he is confident that
the student councils can exert influence among students in their
schools even in their support for pro-RH candidates in the next
“RH will be the main
agenda of the youth for 2013. We see that RH is an issue of our
generation more than anyone else's. Congress must end the debates and
vote for the passage of this long overdue bill. A vote for RH is a
vote for 2013.” Said Heart Dino, Chairperson-elect, UP Diliman
University Student Council. Dino also made history for being the first
transgender to be elected as student council chair of the University
of the Philippines.
Among the SCAP members
who joined the press conference include student council elect from UP
Los Baños, Diliman and Manila, University of the East, Philippine
Normal University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Ateneo
de Manila University and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa.
disappeared welcome passage of Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill on
QUEZON CITY –
Families of the Disappeared for Justice or Desaparecidos today
welcomed the passage of House Bill 98 “An Act Defining And Penalizing
Enforced Or Involuntary Disappearance And For Other Purposes” or the
Anti-Enforced or Anti-Involuntary Disappearance Bill on its third and
final reading at the House of Representatives.
“We welcome the House
of Representatives’ action of passing the bill in its third reading.
This is a step towards ending the impunity by which perpetrators of
this most heinous crime commit human rights violation in this
country. A law criminalizing enforced disappearance is long overdue.
We hope this will be enacted into law at the soonest time possible,”
said Desaparecidos secretary general Mary Guy Portajada, whose father,
unionist Armando Portajada, was disappeared more than 25 years ago.
“We hope that our
legislators in the Senate also realize the significance of passing
this bill as enforced disappearance is still committed today even as
we have a “new” administration,” Portajada declared.
The bill defines
enforced disappearance as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any
other form of deprivation of liberty committed by government
authorities or by persons or groups of persons acting with the
authorization, support or acquiescence of such persons in authority,
followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by
concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person,
which places such person outside the protection of the law.”
Portajada said that
they hope “the bill’s passage will help families of enforced
disappearances prove that state forces are behind the abduction of
their loved ones.” She pointed out particularly Art.12 of the said
bill stating the Liability of the Commanding Officer or
Superior as principal to the crime of enforced disappearance, either
in assisting, abetting or allowing, whether directly or indirectly the
commission of his or her subordinates.
“This will also serve
as warning to state agents who continue to enjoy impunity under the
current administration,” she said.
For her part, Edita
Burgos, mother of missing Jonas Burgos, said that while they welcome
the bill’s passage, the pain and agony of families searching for their
loved ones never stop. “As long as they remain missing, we will feel
the pain every day,” Burgos said.
Burgos also said
families of desaparecidos (Spanish term for “the missing”) will
continue to exhaust all means to seek justice.
The group said they
shall continue to echo the call to arrest retired Maj. Gen. Jovito
Palparan, who remains a fugitive three months after the warrant
against him and four others was released at the Malolos Regional Trial
“We now appeal to our
legislators to help us in seeking justice for Palparan’s victims. He
is one of the operators and masterminds of many enforced
disappearances in the different regions in the country, his kidnapping
case is actually not enough to punish him. But we need to get him
soon,” Portajada said.
with Master Sgt. Rizal Hilario, Col. Felipe Anotado and Staff Sgt.
Edgardo Osorio, were charged with kidnapping with serious illegal
detention for the abduction and disappearance of UP students Karen
Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Martial Law Victims
laud Indemnification Bill passage on third reading in Congress,
continue to urge Senate to enact Bill now
QUEZON CITY – The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA
welcomed today the passing of House Bill 5990 or "An Act Providing
Compensation to Victims of Human Rights Violations During the Marcos
Regime, Documentation of Said Violations, Appropriating Funds Therefor
and for Other Purposes" on third and final reading at the House of
“We are now up to
another step for the enactment of the bill into law, with the passing
of HB No. 5990 in Congress,” said Trining Herrera, a former political
prisoner during the Dictatorship and Board Member of SELDA. “Our lobby
efforts at the House, is seeing its fruition today,” she said.
However, the group
said their work is still undone. “Unfortunately, the Senate has yet to
act on their version of the bill and we still have a long way to go,
to lobby, remind, and push our Senators to respond in the same manner
Congress has done.”Herrera stated.
If enacted into law,
the bill will allow the indemnification of 9,539 victims of martial
who filed the historic class suit in
against the Dictator, Ferdinand Marcos; as well as other vicitms of
martial law who are not members of the said Hawaii class suit.
“We strongly urge the
Senate Committee on Human Rights through its Chair, Senator Francis
“Chiz” Escudero to expedite the passage of the Senate version of the
bill that contains amendments taking into consideration the proposals
of victims, to finally be passed,” Herrera stressed. “Victims of
Martial Law have waited long enough, we demand a more positive action
from President Noynoy Aquino’s administration.”
If the Senate passes
the bill on third reading, representatives of both Houses of the
Legislature will meet to harmonize the provisions of the bill that
will finally be implemented as the Law.
“While we commend
our representatives at the Lower House in passing the bill in third
reading, we would like to remind them and their colleagues in the
Senate that we hope to see a Law that reflect the victims’ interests
and voices so that at least a component of justice will have been
served the victims,” Herrera concluded.
Phil. Army 8th
Infantry Division gain added strength in new soldiers; Armed Conflict
far from over?
Artemio Abarquez, MajGen Mario Chan, and Customs Deputy
Commissioner Danilo Lim put on rosary beads to the Candidate
Soldier graduates during the ceremony at Camp Lukban, Catbalogan
City. (Photo by Jun Arcenio, PIA Samar)
CATBALOGAN CITY –
One hundred one (101) warm and able bodies is the addition to the
strength of Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division after intense
months of training.
MajGen. Mario F. Chan,
Commanding General of the said division, beaming with pride presented
the new soldiers to the parents and other guests on the occasion of
the graduation ceremony at the grounds of
Catbalogan City over the weekend. The guest of honor of the occasion
is Customs Deputy Commissioner Retired General Danilo Lim.
The three hour
graduation ceremony showed how prepared the new and young soldiers to
fight the state enemies and to defend the public and uphold the
country’s constitution. “Handa na po sila na protektahan ang
katahimikan ng ating bansa laban sa mga kaaway nito”, General Chan
said in his message. In the ceremony, the new soldiers
enthusiastically showed their knowledge in various trainings they
acquired. Among them is the Basic Military Training specializing in
Jungle Warfare Military Operations Course where they conducted in the
jungles and mountain ranges of Samar Island.
Notably, in the
graduation ceremony is the oath to uphold human rights led by
Assistant Division Commander Colonel Espenile and the distribution of
rosary beads led by Calbayog Archbishop Artemio Abarquez. “Sa ganito
pong mga ceremony dapat po laging may bago, lalo po natin itong
pinapaganda” General Chan said in his message. The rosary beads was
blessed by the Bishop during the graduation rites and put in by the
guests to the neck of the soldiers. “Ang pagpapasuot ng mga rosary ay
nakakaantig ng damdamin” according to a parent interviewed by the
writer who requested anonymity. “Ang kapayapaan higit sa ano pa mang
bagay dito sa mundo ang higit na kailangan natin lahat, lalo na po
kung kapwa Pilipino ang nagaaway at nagpapatayan. Sana gabayan po ang
aming mga anak na bagong sundalo”, another parent emotionally adds.
Current military and
New People’s Army encounters in the hinterlands of Samar Island caused
so much in the lives of Samar people. According to some inputs in
recent Samar Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting, residents of
far flung community which are considered conflict areas bear the
effect of the so called “encounters” as called by the locals. These
people are directly affected thus the domino effect goes out to the
urban residents in terms of economic activity of the three provinces
in the island while the number of casualties are increasing and human
rights violations resulted to displacements of families in the
Statistical Coordinating Board lists the
as among those in the poorest areas. The high poverty threshold is
attributed to the decades of insurgency problem. It is known to many
that the government has a handful of interventions in the province to
address the issue of poverty and insurgency but the question of
effectiveness of those interventions is in peril due to its impact.
To address the
issue anew, the national government is again pouring its poverty
reduction programs in the island. Such are the PAMANA of the Office
of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and DSWD’s
Kalahi-CIDSS Program among others. “But for how long and how
effective are the said programs remains to be seen” according a member
of the peace and order council who requested anonymity. “The issue of
a community driven development approach is significant in the quest
for peace in the province”, he adds. “While the government pours in
national program, the local government units should sincerely be ready
to support it and involve the most affected community in the process.
The felt need of the people should always be considered, until then
peace will still remain to be elusive” he adds.