You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2009.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Office of the Ombudsman has taken interest in the controversial power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco-3) and an independent power producer (IPP).

The anti-graft body has asked the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for a copy of the fact-finding’s team report on the PSA between Ileco-3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

The three-man fact-finding team headed by Atty. Omar Mayo, NEA legal department chief, recommended the rescission of the PSA due to its grossly disadvantageous provisions that will burden Ileco-3 consumers.

The fact-finding also recommended that Ileco 3 directors will be preventively suspended and investigated for allegedly receiving bribes in exchange for the approval of the deal.

Edgardo Piamonte, National Electrification Administration (NEA) deputy administrator, confirmed that Ombudsman central office subpoenaed a copy of the fact-finding team’s report.

Mayor also confirmed that the anti-graft body asked for a copy of his report.

But the Ombudsman in Western Visayas said they have no records of any compliant or request for investigation on the Ileco 3-Artech deal.

Atty. Evangeline Nuñal, assistant graft investigation officer, said the complaint or request may have been filed with the Ombudsman Visayas in Cebu or their central office in Metro Manila.

Nuñal said the Ombudsman can also investigate alleged graft and corruption in government reported in the media.

Last May 5, former Judge Mateo Baldoza, Ileco 3 board president, told Joel Tormon of Aksyon Radyo that he received P75,000 cash from Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.

Baldoza said he received the money from Tupas during a meeting with Artech officials led by president Reynaldo Uy at the governor’s mansion in Jaro, Iloilo City last April 17.

The former judge alleged that Tupas asked him to help Artech while handing the money inside a white envelope.

The following day, Baldoza modified his statement saying it was a lady employee of Artech who gave him the money at the governor’s house.

He received another P75,000 cash from an Artech employee after they approved and signed the PSA in a hotel in Iloilo City April 21.

Lately, Baldoza said he stood by his first statement that Tupas gave him the money when the former faced the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) early this month.

The NBI had also launched an investigation on the issue based on the complaints of two Ileco 3 consumers.

Tupas denied bribing Ileco 3 directors saying he was only concerned with the looming power shortage in the cooperative’s franchise area.

Tupas said he wanted to assure that Ileco 3 will have enough power supply when its contract with National Power Corp. expires next year.

Domingo Beltran, Artech vice president, said they might sue Ileco 3 and NEA should the cooperative decide to rescind their PSA.

Beltran said it is up to Ileco 3 if it will decide to continue with the contract or not.

Tupas also accused Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias of spreading unsigned copies of the fact-finding team’s report to the media.

The governor said the report is not yet official as it remains unsigned and unapproved by NEA.

Banias, who requested the NEA probe, said Mayo and other NEA officials already confirmed the existence of the report which assailed the alleged onerous provisions of the contract.

Banias said the deployment of a NEA project supervisor to Ileco 3 is proof that NEA is seriously looking into deals and operations of the cooperative.

“NEA can always take over the operations of Ileco 3. We hope that NEA will hear the qualms of the consumers who are seeking justice for this alleged anomalous transaction,” Banias said.

Advertisements

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THERE is nothing illegal in the assistance given to police officers and traffic enforcers who help maintain peace and order in barangays near the coal-fired power plant project site in LaPaz, Iloilo City.

Officials of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) justified the assistance they gave to policemen and traffic aides in the Sunday cable TV talk show Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla Zulueta.

Engr. Adrian Moncada, GBPC assistant vice president, said they requested the LaPaz police to help protect haulers of filling materials that are being harassed by way of stoning by unidentified persons in Brgys. Ingore and Baldoza.

Moncada cited Executive Order No. 655 which mandates the PNP to protect vital installations and projects such as power plants. The same EO encourages the private sector to help in the security of power plants.

The traffic aides, meanwhile, were requested to help manage the traffic because the road going to the project site is narrow and accident prone.

“There have been harassments of the haulers from persons who want to gain from the project, naturally we requested for police assistance. And we also want to protect residents especially the children from trucks passing by the areas that is why we requested the help of the Traffic Engineering and Management Unit (TMEU),” Moncada said.

Moncada said Ingore officials should feel responsible in asking help from the TMEU as mandated by Resolution No. 2008-1912 of the City Council. This is the same resolution which disapproved Barangay Ordinance No. 5 passed by Ingore officials under Punong Barangay Ernie Poral. This disapproved ordinance sought to regulate traffic in the village, particularly the delivery trucks vans and other vehicles.

The council said the Local Government Code does not empower Sangguniang Barangays to enact traffic rules and regulations.

“We already requested the assistance of the police and traffic aides even before the council told the barangay to seek help from the TMEU,” Moncada said.

Engr. Henry Alcalde, project manager of the 164-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Brgy. Ingore, LaPaz, said the assistance and maintenance fees are part of their corporate social responsibility program.

Alcalde said the giving of food assistance and allowances to police and traffic aides is similar to the practice of plant owners and other businesses in Luzon.

“We don’t have a specific list of police officers and traffic personnel who will receive the assistance because it depends on who will be deployed to the area. What we have is a monthly budget of around P744,000. In Luzon, the rate is P80 a day per head,” he added.

The distribution of the meal assistance depends on the police officers and traffic personnel deployed by their superiors

GBPC officials said they also give maintenance fee, not disturbance fees, to Ingore and Baldoza residents to motivate them to help clean debris falling from dump trucks. The recipients are households by the roadside affected by the hauling activities.

There are 200 maintenance fee recipients “but the list grows every month because officials keep on adding names of those who will receive the fee,” Alcalde said.

“There is no law mandating that project proponents should give disturbance fees to residents. But as part of our corporate social responsibility and to enjoin the community to help in the project, we gave out maintenance fees to them if they help clean their surroundings,” Alcalde said.

The GBPC officials said there should be no malice in the assistance given to police officers and traffic aides because the company does not engage in illegal activities. They likened the assistance to donations of business groups and other entities to the PNP and Iloilo City government.

“But since some people are putting malice in the maintenance fee and assistance, we are mulling to stop it already,” Alcalde said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THREE persons are wanted for allegedly robbing and raping a wife in San Enrique, Iloilo Friday evening.

S/Insp. Bonifacio Ancajas, San Enrique police chief, said the victim identified the suspects as Raffy and Raymund Alarba of Brgy. Braulan, San Enrique. The third suspect remains unidentified.

Ancajas said the drunken suspects barged inside the victim’s house and took away their chickens and other valuables.

But before leaving the house, the suspects took turns in raping the victim in front of her 8-month-old child.

Ancajas said the suspects have pending warrants of arrest for robbery.

 “The crime scene is far from the other houses reason why they did not hear her shout for help. The husband was not at home because he was working in Passi City,” Ancajas said. 

The police chief said the suspects fled to another barangay based on their intelligence reports.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A 9-YEAR-OLD girl was infected with Influenza A(H1N1) virus after close contact with an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Capiz  who also contracted the flu.

The girl is the 10th positive A(H1N1) case recorded in Western Visayas as of June 29, according to the Department of Health (DoH-6).

The DoH-6 said in its official website that the girl had close contact with the 38-year-old female OFW who earlier tested positive for the virus.

The patient is now under medication while her close family contacts have been told to monitor themselves for flu-like symptoms.

Eight positive A(H1N1) cases have been discharged from the hospital while the two remaining cases in Capiz are still under medication.

Two new cases under observation (CUOs) were reported to DoH-6, bringing to 83 the total number of CUOs reported from May 18 to June 29, 2009.

Fifty six CUOs have pending laboratory results while seventeen have negative results.

Iloilo has the highest number of CUOs with 41, Negros Occidental (25), Capiz (11), Aklan (4) and Antique (2).

Bacolod City recorded the highest number of positive A(H1N1) case with 4, Capiz (3), while Iloilo City, Oton in Iloilo and Talisay City in Negros Occidental have 1 case each.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

A NATIONAL Electrification Administration (NEA) fact-finding team found provisions in the power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco 3) and an independent power producer (IPP) disadvantageous to the coop and its member-consumers.

The findings are included in the report of the fact-finding team headed by Atty. Omar Mayo, NEA legal department head.

The team was tasked to investigate the alleged bribery and disadvantageous provisions of the 25-year PSA between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

For one, the team said that the 15-MVA substation that Artech pledged to donate to Ileco 3 after 25 years should not be considered a gift or deal sweetener. Artech made the promise as embodied in Sections 9.2, 15.1, 15.2 and 15.3 of the PSA. 

“Artech has to install and provide the 15 MVA substation, as this is necessary and indispensable in its operation to deliver electric power to Ileco 3 and not for the use of Ileco 3 itself. This will only be turned-over to Ileco 3 after 25 years free of charge but already fully depreciated by then,” the report said.

Artech also did not offer prompt payment discount (PPD) to Ileco 3, unlike the offer of renewable energy producer Asea One which signed a power supply contract with the cooperative.

“It is likewise worthy to note that all the other IPPs included the PPD in their respective offer sheets,” it said.

IMPOSSIBLE

The report also noticed that the projections of the contract on Ileco 3’s power demand “is highly improbable, if not totally impossible.”

In the first three years of the PSA, the minimum energy off-take (MEOT), or quantity of electricity Ileco 3 will buy from Artech, is pegged at 55.750 million kilowatt-hour (kWh).

The quantity will then increase by 51% to 84.480 million kWh in the 4th year and 92.4 million (66%) in the 5th year of the contract.

There is also an over contract of demand, the NEA report said.

The report said the Ileco 3 board of directors failed to evaluate Section 5.8 of the PSA which provides that the cooperative will pay the MEOT as if such quantity has been consumed.  

“The Board Directors failed to evaluate the above provisions since these are very disadvantageous to the Ileco 3 which resulted to over-contract of demand. The Minimum Off-Take provided in the contract is much higher when compared to the forecasted kWh based on the ICPM (Integrated Computerized Planning Model) of Ileco 3,” the report added.

If the PSA takes effect, consumers will pay P55.663 million a year for 8.383 million kWh of electricity.

From 2015 until the contract ends, Ileco 3 consumers will pay P181,349,960 for 29.47 million kWh of excess power.

“Unless there shall be many industrial and commercial consumers who will apply in Ileco 3, the above contracted energy cannot be consumed by the coop. The coop will have to pay the contracted energy whether consumed or not and pass it on to the consumers. In the end, it will be the member-consumers who will suffer,” the NEA report said.

The fact-finding team’s report validated The Daily Guardian’s analysis of the PSA, particularly the over-contracted demand and other onerous provisions.

Mayo recommended that Ileco 3 rescind the PSA because of its disadvantageous provisions.

The fact-finding team also recommended a formal investigation on the complaints of two Ileco 3 consumers and possible preventive suspension of Ileco 3 directors who voted for the contract.

NEA says Artech-Ileco 3 PSA disadvantageous to coop

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

A FACT-finding team of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) recommended the scrapping of the power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco 3) and an independent power producer.

The report of the probe team headed by Atty. Omar Mayo, NEA legal department chief, said the PSA between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. is “grossly disadvantageous and prejudicial to the interests of the cooperative and its members-consumers.”

The team submitted its findings to NEA Administrator Edith Bueno June 5, a month after Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza revealed to Joel Tormon of Aksyon Radyo that he received P75,000 from Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.

Baldoza said in the May 5 interview that Tupas gave him the money during a meeting with Artech officials at the governor’s house in Jaro, Iloilo City.

The NEA probers said there was “undue haste, aggravated by bribery, in the signing of the said PSA, totally disregarding the findings of the very own technical personnel of Ileco 3.”

The team recommended the following actions to NEA board of administrators:

–         assign a NEA project supervisor at Ileco 3 to monitor the operations and transactions in the cooperative;

–         the PSA, upon the initiative of Ileco 3, be rescinded for being grossly disadvantageous and prejudicial to its interests;

–         investigate the notarized letter-complaints of two Ileco 3 consumers for proper action by NEA including, but not limited to, the preventive suspension of the Board Directors who voted for the PSA, either by active participation or tacit consent.

Edgardo Piamonte, NEA deputy administrator, confirmed that the team has submitted its report to the board for its approval.

Piamonte said a project coordinator will arrive in Ileco 3 Wednesday next week to start monitoring the cooperative’s operation.

Bribery

The NEA probers also found that bribery may have took place prior to the signing of the contract.

The finding was based on the sworn affidavit of Ileco 3 director Rene Arandilla and Baldoza’s radio interview with Askyon Radyo.

The investigators said Arandilla’s affidavit is credible because he personally heard from Baldoza about the additional P75,000 from Artech after the signing of the contract April 21 in Iloilo City.

“Baldoza himself showed the envelope to Arandilla, who was asked by the former to count the contents thereof, amounting to P75,000. Stated differently, the portion of the affidavit on the ‘additional’ amount in the envelope was a product of the personal knowledge of Arandilla, and cannot be denominated as hearsay evidence. In point of fact, Arandilla – with the express consent of Baldoza, was even tasked to count the money inside the ‘additional’ envelope,” the report said.

While Baldoza changed his tune on who gave him money at Tupas’s house, his recantation “cannot obliterate the fact of bribery” in the deal.

“The ‘revision’ in the recantation of the Board President touches base only on the person who gave the money, as the latter pronouncements would tend to show that the same official/representative gave the first and second amounts. At bottom, whether it was the Governor or the Artech representative who gave him the first and the second envelopes is of no moment, as it refers only to the giver but does not, in any way, deny the act itself,” the report said.

Baldoza recently said he told the National Bureau of Investigation that Tupas handed him the money last April 17. 

No bidding; railroaded 

The NEA investigators said the Ileco 3 board failed to analyze the PSA that will bind Ileco 3 consumers to Artech in the next 25 years.

It was also noted that Artech was not among those IPPs which submitted bids to the consortium to supply power to seven electric cooperatives in Panay and Guimaras Islands.

“There was undue haste in entering into contract as it took only 16 days for the board to decide to ink the contract with Artech. When compared to the consortium, the period is very short, as it took them about four months to study and evaluate offers of the different IPPs. The duration of the contract is no less than 25 years, which would all the more necessitate the exercise of prudence to afford the members-consumers the best possible deal on the matter of electricity rates. Artech personnel furnished the members of the board copies of their proposed contract for study and evaluation on April 5, 2009 and was signed April 21, 2009,” the report said.

While the Ileco 3 board claimed that Artech presented its proposal during the board meeting March 18, “nothing can be found in the minutes of board meetings that a thorough and extensive deliberation/evaluation was ever conducted on an important issue, so as to warrant the signing of the contract.”

No contract review

The NEA probe team also scored the Ileco 3 board for failure to submit the contract to NEA for requisite review of its provisions.

The NEA report said this lack of NEA approval of the Ileco 3-Artech deal “raises the proverbial quizzical eyebrows, considering that a similar PSA was entered into by and between CAPELCO (Capiz Electric Cooperative) and the same IPP.”

“Why did Artech agree with CAPELCO to subject its PSA to contract review by NEA while totally shutting out NEA from reviewing its PSA with Ileco 3?” the NEA report said.

The investigators said NEA’s omission from the deal was “designed to ‘cut corners’ and expedite the signing of the contract, as referral of the PSA to NEA for review would further delay the signing and set back the timetable.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has ordered the release of P481 million for the repair and rehabilitation of infrastructures in Panay that were damaged at the height typhoon Frank.

The funds were released through Special Allotment Release Order No. A-09-03564 issued last May 29, 2009.

The money will be taken from the calamity fund of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regular budget this year.

The national government set aside the fund upon request of Rep. Arthur Defensor Sr. (3rd district, Iloilo) and Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias.

The two officials asked President Gloria Arroyo to allocate money for the partial rehabilitation of Panay while Congress has yet to pass the accompanying revenue source of the P8-billion Paglaum Fund.

Banias said the funds will be used to repair nine bridges, national roads and dredging of Iloilo and Aklan Rivers.

“But this money is not enough, it’s not even 20% of the total amount needed to repair and rehabilitate all damaged structures in Panay,” Banias said.

The Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) earlier passed a resolution asking Congress to approve the revenue measure that will become the source of the Paglaum Fund.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

IS FORMER Senate president Franklin Drilon one of the reasons why some senators are not inclined to approve the Iloilo City redistricting bills?

To the mind of chief presidential legal counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr., Drilon could be the main stumbling block to the creation of a second legislative district in the City.

Gonzalez pointed out that Drilon and Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Senate committee on local governments chair, belong to the Liberal Party.

Gonzalez said Drilon, who opposed the redistricting, could be using his position in LP to influence Aquino to sit on the bill.

“As members of Liberal Party, Aquino supports Drilon’s stand on the redistricting issue,” he added.

The House of Representatives has approved its own version of the redistricting bill filed by Iloilo City Rep. Raul Gonzalez Sr.

Drilon and Gonzalez became political arch nemeses, especially when the former Senate president denounced and called for the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo in July 2005.

Aquino earlier said they cannot deliberate on the Iloilo City redistricting bill because the metropolis’ population does not meet the requirements of the 1986 Constitution. The constitution mandates that each legislative district must have at least 250,000 population.

Aquino said the city’s redistricting will open to constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court even if they approve the bill.

Iloilo City has 417,000 population as of the 2007 census.

Aquino cited the population of the second Iloilo district, composed of Molo, Arevalo and the City Proper districts which has 173,533 population only.

Gonzalez insists that Iloilo City qualifies for a new legislative district based on a SC decision on the redistricting of Makati City.

Gonzalez was referring to Mariano vs Commission on Elections, which was decided by the SC on March 7, 1995.

The ruling penned by then Justice Renato Puno and concurred by then Chief Justice Hilario Davide said the legislative district of a city or province can be increased if it has met the minimum population requirement of 250,000.

“The Supreme Court decision in the case of Makati is very clear that if a city or town satisfies the base population requirement of 250,000, it qualifies for a second legislative district,” Gonzalez said.

Aside from more pork barrel for the city, observers say the redistricting bill is meant to preserve the alliance of the Gonzalezes and Mayor Jerry Treñas who is serving his last three-year term.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE number of persons in Western Visayas under observation for possible Influenza A(H1N1) virus infection continues to mount, according to the Department of Health (DoH-6).

Data from the DoH-6 as of Thursday said 7 more persons were considered cases under observation (CUO) for showing flu-like symptoms. This brings to 71 the total number of CUOs since May 18 to June 25, 2009.

Of the total CUOs, 8 persons tested positive for influenza A (H1N1) while 17 were found negative.

The laboratory results of the remaining 46 CUOs are still pending with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The 8 confirmed cases, are from Bacolod City (4), Talisay City in Negros Occidental (1), Iloilo City (1), and Capiz (2).

Five A(H1N1) patients have been released from the hospital while the remaining 3 are still under medication.

Based on DoH guidelines, a person is considered a CUO if they fall under the following criteria:

–         Anyone with influenza-like illness (ILI) with history of travel to a country with laboratory-confirmed case/s of A (H1N1) in the past 10 days;

–         Anyone with ILI who has close contact with a confirmed A (H1N1) case within 10 days of onset of symptoms.

A CUO or suspect case of A(H1N1) flu will be subject for laboratory testing by the RITM.

Patients who do not meet the criteria are advised to consult their doctor for assessment of other illnesses.

Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) will support the DoH should it require police assistance in conducting quarantine activities.

In a statement, C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said additional police officers may be detailed to airports and seaports if the DoH seeks their help.

“We already have personnel assigned at airports and seaports for this purpose. And we can still add more officers if necessary,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said he reminded police officers to take extra precautions to avoid contracting the flu.

“We also remind our police personnel to observe the standard operating procedures (SOPs) once they are confined in hospitals. They have to inform their chiefs of police immediately upon confinement. The PRO-6 Regional Health Service must also be informed to assist and make follow-up of their status,” Cuevas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A FOREIGNER based in Negros Occidental is the latest A(H1N1) flu patient, according to the Department of Health (DoH-6) regional office.

DoH-6’s official website said the latest A(H1N1) flu patient is a 1-year-old Japanese male who arrived in Talisay, Negros Occidental.

The patient arrived in the country June 11, 2009 and manifested flu-like systems June 13.

He was admitted in a private hospital in Bacolod City June 16. Swab samples of patient were taken June 17 and immediately sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

DoH-6 received yesterday the report from RITM confirming that the patient is positive for A(H1N1) virus.

The Talisay City Health Office has started tracing persons who had close contact with the Japanese national.

Western Visayas now has 8 confirmed Influenza A (H1N1) cases, including the latest patient from Negros Occidental. 

Five patients have been discharged while three are still under medication.

Personnel from the DoH-6 and Iloilo City Health Office (CHO) also mounted contact tracing in Assumption Iloilo where one of its high school student tested positive for A(H1N1) flu.

The DoH learned that the 14-year-old student, who is a native of Roxas City, stayed at the Assumption dormitory along with 9 other students.

The DoH-6 has taken throat swab samples of the 9 Assumption students for testing in RITM.

Assumption school officials have suspended classes until July 6 in keeping with the guidelines issued by the DoH.

The DoH recommended that Assumption students, faculty and staff stay at home and monitor themselves for signs and symptoms of influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or sore throat.

They are advised to seek consultation when the said mentioned signs and symptoms are observed so they can be assessed properly.

They are also advised to constantly observe proper hygienic practices such as hand washing with soap and water and cough and sneezing etiquette.

As of yesterday, a total of 64 persons are under observation for flu-like symptoms.

Among the new cases under observation (CUOs) are the classmates of the Assumption student. 

The DoH data also said that 17 CUOs were negative for A (H1N1) while 39 patients are still waiting for laboratory results from the RITM.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap

 

THERE is a need to improve port facilities for pump boats plying the Iloilo-Guimaras route for the comfort of stranded passengers in case boats are barred from traveling due to bad weather.

This was the concern of almost 2,000 passengers who waited for over a day for pump boats to resume operation while tropical storm “Feria” passed through Panay.

The PCG bars all water crafts with 1,000 and below gross tonnage from setting out to sea when a typhoon signal is raised from their ports of origin and destination.

Pump boat operators who violate the regulation will be fined P5,000 per passenger on board their vessels.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) stopped all pump boats from Iloilo to Jordan and Buenavista and Guimaras Tuesday afternoon when weather bureau PAG-ASA hoisted Typhoon Signal No. 1 in Iloilo City and southern Iloilo.

Northern Iloilo and the rest of Panay were put under Signal No. 2 as of early morning Wednesday.

The stranded passengers waited from 1pm Tuesday until 5pm Wednesday for the storm signal to be lifted so that pump boats can ferry passengers across the strait.

While some of the passengers spent the night with relatives or friends in Iloilo, most of them stayed at the Parola area where pump boats bound for Jordan and Buenavista are docked.

Annie of Buenavista said she endured the cold night and rains at the Parola area thinking that the storm will soon pass and they could get home.

“If only the terminal is in good condition where we could spend the night away, we might not complain much. We understand the regulations but I don’t think it’s right that we will suffer this way,” Annie said.

The Parola area has kiosks for food and other items but it has no port terminal area where passengers could sit and wait.

Kalaw-ay gid ya sang port (The port is very bad),” a college student from Buenavista said.

Other passengers opted to board the pump boats to avoid the jostling with other travelers when the trips resume.

Some travelers complained that the boats did not have gangplanks for boarding. Instead, they were made to use the slippery boat outrigger. A gangplank is a board or ramp used as a removable footway between a ship and a pier.

Female passengers who wanted to urinate went to the nearby PCG-Iloilo station and other government offices in the area.

Passengers who were stranded in Iloilo city appealed to local officials in Guimaras to provide food as they do not have enough money.  Their money is only good for transportation fare.

Nani Galvez, executive assistant to Guimaras Gov.  Felipe Nava, told The Daily Guardian that the provincial government provided food for the stranded passengers at the gym of Barangay Concepcion near Parola wharf  in Iloilo City where many stranded passengers sought refuge. 

Passengers bound for Bacolod City were in a relatively better situation because they stayed in ferry terminals with comfort rooms and televisions.

The PCG lifted the travel ban around 5pm Wednesday after PAG-ASA cleared Iloilo of any storm signal.

As of Wednesday morning, the PCG said 1,405 passengers were in various ports in Iloilo. All over Western Visayas, a total of 1,619 were trapped because of typhoon “Feria”.

PORT PROJECTS

The Iloilo City government and Metro Iloilo Guimaras Economic Development Council have proposed the Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal System (GIFTS).

The GIFTS project, which is still in the feasibility study stage, will improve and modernize the Parola, Buenavista and Jordan wharves to cater to the expanding number of commuters between Iloilo and Guimaras.

The Ortiz Port, which serves passengers bound for Jordan, Guimaras, will also continue to operate to preserve the livelihood of residents near the port.

A pre-feasibility study conducted last year by the Consultants for Comprehensive Environmental Planning Inc. (Concep) showed the project is viable but it will require big funding.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the project could be undertaken through public-private collaboration.

“We don’t foresee the government to spend, thus it will be a public-private partnership. The city government will act as partner, while the private sector will put up and run the facility because it will be difficult for the city to operate a port. Once the port facilities are improved, more tourists will arrive which means more economic activities for the city and Guimaras,” Treñas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) arrested an alleged top drug peddler in Iloilo City.

Paul Ledesma, PDEA-6 OIC-director, said they collared Reynaldo Avelino of Brgy. San Juan, Molo district in a recent buy-bust operation.

PDEA operatives recovered from Avelino two bricks of suspected dried marijuana leaves and P30,000 cash believed to proceeds of the illegal drug trade.

Ledesma said Avelino is included in their drugs watch list. His area of operation includes the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo.

The PDEA chief said marijuana leaves seized from Avelino are similar to those recovered from drug pushers arrested in the towns of Oton and Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo and Bacolod City.

Avelino allegedly gets his supply from Luzon area.

By Tara Yap

 

TWO small fishing boats in the town of Concepcion, Iloilo went missing after setting out to sea Tuesday morning.

Mayor Elizabeth Salcedo of Concepcion initially reported Wednesday morning that five mini fishing boats manned by 10 fishermen went missing since Tuesday afternoon.

The boats went out to sea Tuesday morning before weather bureau hoisted Storm Signal No. 2 over northern Iloilo as Typhoon Feria passed through Panay.

As of 5:30pm Wednesday, Captain Eduardo Fabricante, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Iloilo chief, said four fishermen from two fishing boats have returned home.

Raul Banias, presidential assistant for Western Visayas and former Concepcion mayor, said he received reports that six fisherfolks on board three boats already went home.

Local officials are still looking for the two missing mini fishing boats manned by four fisherfolks.

Most towns in northern Iloilo currently have no electricity, Banias said.

Typhoon Feria also stranded more than 3,000 passengers in Iloilo City, Guimaras and Bacolod City after the PCG halted all sea vessels from traveling.

In Roxas City, fishermen in the coastline of Brgy. Dumulog rescued four persons who were bound for Leyte.

Heavy waves and strong winds damaged the pump boat ferrying Apronio Cuevas Jr., 55, Joemar Padilla, 19, Yan-Yan (not his real name), 17, and Raul Matuginas all of Biliran, Leyte.

Cuevas told Bombo Radyo that they left Oriental Mindoro for Leyte Tuesday afternoon. They had no idea that they will meet Typhoon Feria on their way home.

Luckily, fisherfolks in Brgy. Dumulog heeded their call for help and rescued them.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap

 

A CATHOLIC elementary and high school in Iloilo City suspended its classes after one of its students tested positive for Influenza A(H1N1) virus.

Assumption School along General Luna Street sent home its students past 1pm Tuesday after the Department of Health (DoH-6) confirmed that one of its students contracted A(H1N1) flu.

The female student, the seventh confirmed A(H1N1) patient in Western Visayas, is a native of Roxas City.

She complained of fever when she went home to Roxas City over the weekend. She was found positive for the flu based on her swab test from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe, DoH-6 regional epidemiologist, said in a press conference with Mayor Jerry Treñas that the patient went home to Roxas City. She is presently confined in a private hospital.

Alonsabe said they are conducting contact tracing of persons who got close to the patient. They are also verifying whether the patient traveled abroad.

The DoH suggested to Sister Fidelis Estrada, Assumption School principal, to immediately suspend their classes for 10 days.

Alonsabe said the suspension will immediately allow health authorities to conduct contact tracing and for the school to help monitor the health status of their students.

Assumption administration officials met after the press conference to discuss DoH’s suggestion.

Parents who heard the news flocked the Assumption campus to fetch their children. Before they were released, school officials held a briefing with the pupils and students regarding the positive A(H1N1) case.

Iloilo City Councilor Joe Espinosa III was one of the concerned parents who rushed to Assumption Iloilo after hearing the news.

Espinosa, who has three children enrolled in the Catholic school, handed out masks to other parents and carried a rubbing alcohol as disinfectant.

Asked if he is alarmed, Espinosa was quick to say that he is not. “DOH has assured that this is a milder form of virus.”

The councilor urged the public to take extra precautionary measures such as proper hand washing and cough and sneezing etiquette to avoid catching the flu.

Other parents were concerned why their children were gathered inside the air-conditioned room for the briefing which could increase their risk of exposure to the virus.

The influx of parents and nannies who rushed to the Catholic school caused a major traffic along Gen. Luna Street from 11am until 1:30pm.

Around noontime, the school sent out letters advising parents that classes in elementary and high school levels were suspended starting Tuesday and will resume July 6.

The letter also advised the parents to let their children stay at home for three days as a precautionary measure.

Assumption school is located across Iloilo Central Elementary School which has more than 2,000 students.

Treñas said there is no need to panic because DoH has medicines for the flu which is considered a mild strain.

Treñas urged the public to observe proper hygienic practices to prevent the virus from spreading.

Western Visayas has now 50 cases under observation and 7 positive cases. The referral hospitals are the Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City, Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Hospital in Bacolod City, other government hospitals in the region and all other private hospitals.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City government and Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) have laid down the plans for the sewage and septage management plan to stem the pollution of the Iloilo River.

The planning stage took off with a sewage and septage management forum Tuesday between the city government, MIWD and other water districts in Western Visayas.

The forum is part of the Iloilo River Week celebration spearheaded by the Iloilo City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) and MIWD.

Noel Hechanova, Cenro head, said there is a need to proceed with the sewage and septage plan in keeping with the provisions of the Clean Water Act of 2004.

Septage management refers to desludging septic tanks regularly and treating the waste before disposal.

Jay Tecson, senior project coordinator of the Philippine Sanitation Alliance (PSA), provided the framework and techniques in drafting the management plan.

The USAID-funded PSA project is working in partnership with the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) to advance the National Sewerage and Septage Management Program (NSSMP) as part of the country’s overarching National Sustainable Sanitation Plan.

The NSSMP was envisioned to provide technology interventions and institutional and financial frameworks to guide local governments, water districts, and other project proponents through the process of developing infrastructure projects for managing wastewater in cities.

Tecson said sewerage management remains a concern in the country despite the passage of the Clean Water Act.

“The NSSMP is slated to take effect next year but there is still a lot to be done for lack of information and funding of local government units and water districts that are tasked to come up with their respective sewerage and septage management plans,” Tecson said.

The Iloilo River Development Council reported that 120 of the 180 barangays in Iloilo City drain their sewage in the river.

The report also said that villages from the nearby towns of Leganes, Oton and San Miguel, Iloilo also drain liquid wastes in the river.

A two-year study conducted by the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) showed that the Iloilo River has been experiencing low dissolved oxygen, leading to fishkills and death of aquatic organisms.

Wastewater from households and business establishments along the river is said to be responsible for the low dissolved oxygen in the river, the UPV study said.

The UPV study said disease-causing organisms are found in large quantities of feces and urine that are present in the wastewater. It also noted high prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections among children living in urban slums along the river.

Because of the high cost of a central waste water treatment system, the city government encouraged establishments along the river to put up low cost water treatment plant to treat some half a million gallons of waste water draining into the river everyday.

According to the World Bank, more than 90% of the sewage generated in the Philippines is not treated, resulting in a high incidence of water-borne diseases. It causes an estimated 55 deaths per day and P78 billion in annual economic losses.

Water borne diseases in the country cause 500,000 morbidity and 4,200 mortality cases a year, with avoidable health costs of Php3.3B annually.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

RESIDENTS and businesses will be entitled to real property taxes incentives if they use renewable energy sources, according to a proposed ordinance pending in the Iloilo City Council.

Eldrid Antiquiera, committee on environment chair and main proponent of the ordinance, said the measure seeks to promote the use of renewable energy sources in households and businesses.

Antiquiera said his proposed ordinance will complement the Renewable Energy Act which was enacted December 2008.

“While we still need traditional sources of energy such as diesel and coal-fired power plants, we should push for renewable sources in response to challenges posed by climate change,” Antiquiera said.

Antiquiera said the approval of the ordinance does not mean that the City Council is against the proposed coal-fired power plant in LaPaz district.

Antiquiera said he has conducted public hearings on the proposed ordinance and will deliver a committee report during their regular session Wednesday.

“I am positive that the measure will be passed this Wednesday. After the passage of the ordinance, the committee on ways and means will discuss the incentive scheme,” he added.

Antiquiera said renewable energy sources such as solar and wind technologies are still expensive “but users will save a lot on their power consumption in the long run aside from helping ease climate change.”

Antiquiera will also propose another ordinance for carbon dioxide emission offsetting schemes for traditional energy sources.

“We have been studying the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, of which the Philippines is a signatory, on carbon dioxide emission in drafting the ordinance,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE upcoming election period might hamper the rehabilitation of Panay after the destruction caused by typhoon Frank on various sectors last year.

This was the concern raised by local officials as the release of the P8-billion Paglaum Fund drags for of lack of revenue sources.

Presidential Assistant Raul Banias said the election period might overtake the release of the fund, thus delaying further the repair and rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure in Western Visayas.

“We just hope that it will not be overtaken by the political season so we can implement the needed rehabilitation and repair of critical infrastructure,” Banias said.

The Omnibus Election Code bans the release, disbursement or expenditure of public funds for public works 45 days before any regular election.

Public works are commonly referred to infrastructure projects consists of roads, bridges, railways, airports, seaports, communication facilities, irrigation, flood control, water supply and sewerage, solid waste management, energy and power systems and school buildings.

The public works ban for the 2010 elections starts March 26, 2010 and ends on election day, May 10, 2010.

Coupled with this ban on public expenditures is another limitation on the actual construction of public works and availment of any device undertaking future delivery of money or goods chargeable against public funds. The ban similarly starts 45 days before any regular election.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez said they can exempt certain public works from the ban for humanitarian reasons. Critical infrastructure projects can also be exempted from the ban, Jimenez added. 

While the House of Representatives and the Senate had approved the proposed the supplemental budget for the Paglaum Fund, it has yet to be released because its accompanying revenue source remains pending in Congress.

The main source of the Paglaum Fund is the Simplified Net Income Tax Scheme (Snits) which is expected to rake in an estimated P12 billion.

The Snits is still pending in the Senate committee on ways and means chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson. The committee failed to deliberate on the tax measure before Congress adjourned this month.

Banias said he got the commitment of the House and Senate that both chambers will fast track the passage of the Snits bill.

Even if the Snits bill is passed this year, revenues from the tax measure will be realized next year yet.

“We have assurance from the Department of Budget and Management that they can get the funds from other sources,” Banias said.

President Gloria Arroyo earlier released P487 million for the initial rehabilitation and repair of damaged infrastructures in Panay.

Meanwhile, the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) passed a resolution Monday urging the Senate to fast track the approval and release of the Paglaum Fund.

The RDCC passed the resolution during the commemoration of typhoon Frank’s havoc in the region last year.

 “The passage of the bill is urgently needed to completely restore, particularly in Panay Island – the food basket of the region,” said PNP Regional Director and RDCC Chair Isagani Cuevas.

Typhoon Frank affected 2,674 barangays and 360,516 families. A total of 827 families were left homeless. It also killed 274 people and injured 1,523 others while 174 people remain missing.

The agriculture sector was also heavily damaged: P1.279 billion in crops; P3.746 billion in fisheries; and P31 million inn livestock.

Billions worth of infrastructures were damaged and destroyed: P9.06 million worth of health and government facilities; P2.187 billion of roads and bridges; and P221 million worth of school buildings.

SAILOR BACK HOME   Petty Officer Grace Geroche of USS Ronald Reagan paints a classroom at the Pavia National High School. An alumna of the school, Geroche was one of the 18 sailors who visited Sunday to take part in the renovation program to commemorate the first anniversary of typhoon Frank. (Photo by Tara Yap)

SAILOR BACK HOME Petty Officer Grace Geroche of USS Ronald Reagan paints a classroom at the Pavia National High School. An alumna of the school, Geroche was one of the 18 sailors who visited Sunday to take part in the renovation program to commemorate the first anniversary of typhoon Frank. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Tara Yap

 

TO mark its relief efforts in last year’s typhoon Frank, a US naval carrier revisited Panay over the weekend.

Eighteen sailors of the USS Ronald Reagan visited Pavia, the town hit hardest by flood waters last year.

The sailors, 8 of whom are of Filipino descent, stayed for approximately five hours at Pavia National High School where they helped members of the Philippine Navy paint a classroom and cement a walkway near the gym.

“I’m happy to be back,” said 23-year-old petty officer Grace Geroche, who is an alumna of the town high school.

“It’s nice to help out.  It’s just a way to give back to the community where I grew up,” added Geroche.

Geroche was born in the US, but spent her growing up years in Pavia . 

She went back to the US and joined the US Navy after graduating college at Iloilo Doctor’s College (IDC) last 2007.

A crowd of residents welcomed the Americans at the school with Mayor Arcadio Gorriceta warmly recalling the assistance of US troops and other private sectors in the aftermath of the typhoon.

In Iloilo alone, 135 people died and over 170,000 people were displaced after typhoon Frank battered Iloilo and the rest of Panay.

The USS Ronald Reagan delivered more than 500 pounds of food, water and medicine last year to typhoon victims in Panay despite threats made by local communist guerrillas to attack them.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THREE of the six patients who contracted Influenza A(H1N1) virus have been discharged from their respective hospitals.

Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe, regional epidemiologist of the Department of Health (DoH-6), said the three remaining A(H1N1) patients are about to finish their medication.

Alonsabe said the patients only contracted mild cases of A(H1N1) flu.

The latest positive A(H1N1) case in Western Visayas was a 20-year-old American missionary in Bacolod City. The missionary arrived June 9 and showed flu-like symptoms June 14 but was discharged from the hospital after showing signs of improvement.

Since May 18, DoH-6 has recorded 50 cases under observation (CUOs). A total of 17 patients found negative for the flu while 6 tested positive for the virus.

The test results of the remaining patients are still pending with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Alonsabe advised the public to check if their visitors traveled abroad, particularly from areas with confirmed A(H1N1) cases.

He also urged the public to maintain cleanliness of surroundings and observe proper personal hygiene.

The DoH central office earlier said 80% of the 428 A(H1N1) cases, or 339 patients, have recovered from the flu.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE third and fourth quarters of 2009 are critical periods for the tourism sector in Western Visayas amid the Influenza A(H1N1) pandemic.

Edwin Trompeta, regional director of the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas, said the gains of the tourism sector in the first two quarters might be affected because of the pandemic.

“We noted growth in tourist arrivals in the region, particularly Boracay Island, in the first and second quarters of this year. We see the third and fourth quarters as very critical because of the flu,” Trompeta said.

Trompeta said traditional tourism markets such as the US and Europe are also being cautious because of the A(H1N1) flu.

Boracay was the second top tourist destination in the country with 158,030 arrivals from January to March 2009.

The island resort also drew the second highest number of foreign tourists of 63,903.

Cebu was the top tourist destination in the country according to a DoT report for the first four months of the year.

Overall, the volume of domestic tourists visiting key destinations grew faster at 13% while foreign arrivals recorded a 4% increase in the first quarter.

Trompeta said that among the island-resorts, Boracay remains the top tourist drawer with tourist arrivals growing by an average of 6% annually for the past decade.

Boracay boosted its room capacity with the opening of the Shangri-la’s Boracay Resort and Spa, a high-end 217-room resort on the island.

“We are hoping that the pandemic will slow down and have no effect on the tourism sector which continues to make positive ratings despite the global economic recession,” Trompeta said.

The DoH has been closely watching the situation in Boracay in coordination with the local government unit of Aklan and Malay town.

The DoH and DoT recently conducted an orientation on A(H1N1) flu to help businesses and other stakeholders respond to the pandemic.

Latest data from the Department of Health said 14 cases under observation for A(H1N1) flu were recorded in Western Visayas.

The total confirmed cases jumped to 6 patients after an 20-year-old American missionary in Bacolod City tested positive for the A(H1N1) virus.

The missionary arrived June 9 and showed flu-like symptoms June 14.

The patient has been discharged from the hospital after showing signs of improvement.

Since May 18, DoH-6 has recorded 43 cases under observation (CUOs). A total of 14 patients found negative for the flu while 6 tested positive for the virus.

The test results of the remaining 23 patients are still pending with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Iloilo recorded the highest number of CUOs with 24, Negros Occidental (15), Aklan (2) and Capiz (2).

Of the total CUOs recorded, 35 are Filipinos and 8 foreigners including 21 males and 22 females. The age of the CUOs ranges from 2 to 89 years old, the DoH said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is taking advantage of the internet to educate voters, particularly the youth, on the 2010 polls and possible presidential bets next year.

The Comelec’s Education and Information Department (EID) recently launched www.politicalarena.com, a website dedicated for personal data of presidential timbers.

James Jimenez, EID chief who hails from Iloilo City, said the website will bring together data on personalities who are reportedly running for president next year.

Jimenez said the internet could be a more effective vehicle of information on these presidentiables compared to traditional modes such as pamphlets and mass media.

“If your use a pamphlet, you can only use so much space. Infomericals in TV and radio have prohibitive prices aside from having limited time which tend to make the campaign focus on trivial and one-liners. In the internet, you virtually have unlimited space aside from being online 24 hours a day,” Jimenez said.

The Comelec website features 22 presidentiables in alphabetical order. It also contains news, videos, photographs and bulletins of each candidate.

Voters can also post questions to the candidates regarding issues on education, economy, politics among others.

Jimenez said the internet is an emerging force in gathering new voters to come out and discuss the platforms and programs of persons who eye the highest position of the land.

He likened the Comelec program to US President Barack Obama’s campaign which harnessed the internet and telecommunications.

“There is a growing number of internet users in the country, most of them young voters. The youth voters are expected to comprise a significant chunk of the voting population and we think they need to be informed about these possible candidates,” Jimenez said.

The Comelec expects 1.96 million youths to register and vote in the presidential elections.

The population of young voters will now reach almost 11 million, more than enough to make a difference in swinging the vote and installing a new president.

According to the Universal McCann Report Wave 3 report (March 2008), which tracks social media growth, there are 3.7 million active Internet users in the Philippines.

The report said 2.3 million active Filipino internet users have started a blog or web log. Some 90.3% or 3.3 million read blogs while 45.2% or 1.6 million subscribed to an RSS feed.

Some 83.1% or 3 million users created a profile on a new social network such as Facebook, Friendster, among others.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has one year to ease the drug menace in Iloilo City, particularly nine barangays believed to be hubs of illegal drug trade.

Paul Ledesma, PDEA-6 officer-in-charge, said their central office is pressuring them to reverse the rising trend in illegal drug peddling and use in the city.

“We may not be able to eradicate the problem but we are doing our best to slowdown the illegal drug trade in the city in one year. We are under pressure from our higher ups,” Ledesma said.

Ledesma said nine barangays in Iloilo City are considered the hubs of illegal drug operations in the metropolis.

These villages are Veterans Village, Tanza Esperanza and Malipayon in Iloilo City proper district; Bakhaw in Mandurriao; San Juan, Boulevard and West Habog-Habog in Molo district; Simon Ledesma and Desamparados in Jaro.

The PDEA said the villages were included in the list because of the presence of suspected drug lords and drug dens in the areas.

Ledesma said these barangays were identified during a PDEA-PNP workshop.

Ledesma said he asked the officials of the nine barangays to submit sketches of the house of drug lords and drug dens to help in the campaign against illegal drugs.

He said they need the help of barangay officials because illegal drugs is also the problem of the community.

The PDEA central office will also hold its national campaign plan workshop in Iloilo City this year.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AFTER closing a popular bar in Iloilo City and stores in Boracay Island, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is training its sights on several retail stores in the city for allegedly not paying the exact amount of taxes.

Nelia Dimalata, head of Revenue District Office 74 which includes Iloilo City, said they are conducting surveillance operations on five retail businesses in the metropolis.

The surveillance and closure of businesses cheating on their tax payments is part of the BIR’s Oplan Kandado.

Oplan Kandado is the flagship project of the BIR which aims to strictly enforce sanctions for noncompliance by business establishments with requirements of the Tax Code.

Based on Section 15 of the Tax Code, there are three grounds on which a business can be suspended or closed down for tax fraud: if the taxpayers don’t issue sales invoice or receipt; if they fail to file tax return; and if they understate their sales or receipts by more than 30 percent.

Nelson Aspe, BIR deputy commissioner, said they conduct covert and open surveillance on businesses suspected of tax fraud.

Last month, the Aspe led the closure of Pirates Bar and Restaurant in Smallville business and leisure complex in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

The BIR shut down Pirates for failure to issue value added tax (VAT) invoice and under declaration of sales by more than 30%.

Dimalata said Pirates management has paid the penalties for its violation and agreed to pay its tax arrears. But the establishment must comply with other requirements before it can resume operations.

In Boracay Island, the BIR closed down Salic Collection South Sea Pearls and Fine Jewelry at D’Mall, the island’s main shopping center.

The BIR said Salic undervalued its sales and failed to file the required value-added tax (VAT) returns. BIR records said the firm incurred P1.23 million in VAT deficiency, including penalties.

The BIR also shut down Alice in Wonderland Resort Bar and Restaurant, a resort in Boracay.

The tax agency found out after the surveillance operation that the resort owners failed to file VAT returns and under declared the resort’s revenues. The BIR said it had a deficiency of P5.5 million in VAT payments.

The agency also temporarily closed down the operation of BigMouth Express Specialist Inc., a popular restaurant also at D’Mall.

The BIR said Bigmouth is an unregistered enterprise and was not filing or paying internal-revenue taxes.

The cash register machines of Bigmouth were likewise unregistered with the BIR. It owes the government P650,000 in unpaid VAT, exclusive of penalties and surcharges.

By Tara Yap

 

COMMEMORATING the tragic effects of typhoon Frank has taken a festive twist.

Barangay captains of Jaro district in Iloilo City, which was hit hardest by the flashflood brought about by typhoon Frank June 21, 2008, will mount a fiesta to show that they have overcome the tragedy.

Jonas Bellosillo, president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC)-Jaro chapter, said the fiesta will celebrate the fighting spirit of the Ilonggos amid the damage and deaths caused by typhoon Frank.

Bellosillo told The Daily Guardian that nightly food festival and live bands in Jaro Plaza started Thursday until this Sunday night.

The event is one of the sidelights of the week-long commemoration spearheaded by the Iloilo City government in partnership with San Miguel Corp (SMC).

Bellosillo invite residents of Jaro and the rest of Iloilo City to come to Jaro Plaza and celebrate the resilience of the Ilonggos in the aftermath of typhoon Frank.

The typhoon Frank experience also brought to fore the importance of being prepared for natural and manmade calamities.

ABC Jaro and the City Crisis Management Office will mount a rescue drill in Jaro River Saturday morning and a commemorative program at the plaza Sunday.

The drill will feature the skills and equipment of the city in responding to calamities, especially flood.

Bellosillo said Bayani Fernando, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair, is expected to arrive June 22.

Fernando will turnover donations of essential rescue gears including searchlights, bolt cutter, ax, and a stretcher to carry an injured person.

The MMDA helped clear and rehabilitate Iloilo City after typhoon Frank by sending a cleanup team. 

Frank destroyed P500-million worth of crops and P1.7-billion worth of properties in Iloilo.

In Iloilo City and province, 135 were reported killed while scores missing.

The flood engulfed around 80% of Iloilo City, affecting 48,836 families or 244,090 persons. The worst hit district was Jaro, where the flood waters were reported to have reached a high of 2 meters, submerging almost the entire district.

In Iloilo Province, among the most affected towns include: Oton, Miagao, Leganes, Pavia, Zarraga, Leon, Janiuay, Leon, Pototan, Dumangas, Barotac Nuevo, Ajuy, and Carles.

The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council said at least 91,183 families or 177,700 persons were affected by the typhoon.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said typhoon Frank’s damage to roads and bridges accounts for P2.3 billion, most of them in Aklan, Iloilo and Capiz.

Damage to school buildings was at P455 million mostly in the Panay region, the Calabarzon Region, the Mimaropa region and the National Capital Region.

Damage to other facilities, including hospitals, was estimated to reach P2.3 billion.

THE Iloilo City Tourism Office (CTDO) and Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI) are in talks with Cebu tourism officials for a possible marketing tie-up of Dinagyang and Sinulog Festivals.

Benito Jimena, CTDO head, said he broached the marketing partnership to Ricky Ballesteros, Sinulog Foundation executive director, during a recent workshop on tourism.

Jimena said the partnership includes promoting the Dinagyang of Iloilo and Sinulog of Cebu during the holding of the two festivals.

Sinulog is held every third week of January while Dinagyang is mounted every fourth week of the same month.

“During Sinulog, the Cebuanos can invite spectators to go to Dinagyang after their festival. We can also do the same here when we hold Dinagyang,” Jimena said.

Jimena added the aim of the partnership is to exchange markets and ideas to improve the two festivals in Visayas region.

“We can help Cebu bring more tourists to their festival and vice versa. The suggested tagline for the partnership is ‘Sinulog antes Dinagyang, Mag-Dagyang tapos Sinulog’ (Sinulog before Dinagyang, Street dancing after Sinulog).”

Sinulog features cultural dances in Cebu while Dinagyang highlights the life and culture of Atis in pre-historic Iloilo. Both festivals also express veneration to the Sto. Nino or Holy Child Jesus.

The IDFI said an estimated 1 million crowd attended Dinagyang last January 16-25, 2009.

In 2007, the United Nations provided support to Dinagyang to promote the UN Millennium Development Goals.

In 2006, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recognized the Dinagyang festival for its “effective public-private partnership and multi-stakeholder cooperation in the area of tourism.”

A book published by ADB, “Urbanization and Sustainability in Asia: Good Practice Approaches in Urban Region Development,” said the festival “accelerated investments into Iloilo City and has instilled the value of discipline among the members of the community.”

“This case has showed that with cooperation from all sectors and proper focus, much can be achieved, the benefits from which, in the end, redound back to the communities by way of jobs, revenues and greater histo-cultural awareness,” the ADB book said.

The Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines also feted Dinagyang as the best tourism event in the country in the last three years.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PROPERTIES worth P5 million went up in smoke when a fire hit a building that used to house one of the popular cinemas along Iznart Street, Iloilo City.

According to Fire C/Insp. Rodolfo Dinaga, Iloilo City fire marshal, the blaze hit Allegro Theater building 2:15am Friday.

Dinaga said the fire may have originated from a pile of trash near the theater stage located on the second floor of the building. Dinaga added they learned that workers welded portions of the building’s trusses Thursday evening.

Dinaga said they have yet to find out the cause of the fire although they were looking at faulty electric wirings or sparks from the welding machines.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and fire volunteer groups quelled the fire in one hour while the mopping up operations lasted until 6:15am.

Dinaga said the fire spread quickly because the facade of the building was made of galvanized iron and ordinary plywood.

The BFP official said the fire gobbled up an estimated P5 million worth of merchandises owned by two Korean nationals and Ilonggo traders renting the building.

Dinaga said they are awaiting the affidavits of loss of the fire victims to determine the final amount of damage.

“It will take at least five days before we can determine the actual cause of fire,” he added.

Another A(H1N1) case in the region found

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap

 

THE public should not shun the Iloilo City barangay and its residents where the first Influenza A(H1N1) case in the city was detected.

The Department of Health (DoH) issued the advisory even as another A(H1N1) case was confirmed in Capiz province Thursday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the region to 5.

A DoH official said the family of the 38-year-old seaman infected by the virus and their neighbors at Brgy. Dungon-B, Jaro should not be discriminated.

Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe, DoH regional epidemiologist, also asked the media to be prudent in reporting the first A(H1N1) case in the city, particularly in taking images and footages of the seaman’s house and family.

“There might be discrimination towards the family or they might be ostracized by the public. The barangay might also be affected because residents from other areas might not pass by Dungon-B and divert to other areas. Instead of passing by Diversion Road, all motorists will pass by Ungka and CPU area. That would cause a major traffic jam,” Alonsabe said.

Brgy. Dungon-B leads towards Benigno S. Aquino Avenue or Diversion Road which connects Jaro to Molo and Iloilo City proper districts.

Alonsabe said other people have the tendency to overreact just like what happened to residents of a farming village in Jaen, Nueva Ecija where the first community outbreak of A(H1N1) flu was declared.

“This could happen anywhere and to anyone of us. We really don’t know when or where, as of now we only detected one person in that area. All we have to do is observe precautionary measures such as proper and regular washing of hands, cough and sneezing etiquettes and taking vitamins that will protect us from infections,” he added.

The DoH and Iloilo City Health Office (CHO) also advised the public to seek medical help if they suffer from flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and sore throat.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, who is on home quarantine after returning from Boston, Massachusetts in USA, said there is no need to panic after the confirmation of the first A(H1N1) patient in the city.

“We have prepared for this already by informing the public about the precautionary measures and responses. The flu that hit the country and the city is mild and curable,” Treñas said.

Latest report from the DoH said the patient is now recovering after taking medications at the Western Visayas Medical Center.

The family of the patient is also under observation, the DoH said.

AS USUAL

Life is as usual for residents of Dungon-B despite the report that one of their neighbors contracted the A(H1N1) flu.    

Barangay officials said they informed their residents about proper hygienic practices to protect themselves from the virus.

Residents who had close contact with the patient were also advised to undergo home quarantine for at least 10 days for observation.

Punong Barangay Apolinario Dadison Jr. said they are not alarmed by the positive A(H1N1) case in their village.

“We regularly coordinate with the CHO and the DoH and we follow their advisories. Life remains normal for us here,” Dadison said.

Dr. Urminico Baronda, city health officer, lauded the media for continually informing the public on A(H1N1) advisories from the DoH and the CHO.

“The continued information drive will help the people prevent the spread of the virus and respond if they show flu-like symptoms. The rapid increase in the number of cases under observation for A(H1N1) is an indication that the public is very cautious about the situation,” Baronda said. 

FIRST CASE IN CAPIZ

Capiz provincial health officer Jarvis Ponzalan confirmed yesterday that a 38-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW) was infected with A(H1N1) virus.

Ponzalan said the report from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) showed that the patient’s throat swab tested positive for A(H1N1) virus.

The OFW arrived from Singapore June 6 and showed flu-like symptoms June 9. The patient’s relatives brought the OFW to the Rural Health Unit and was later referred to the hospital.

The first confirmed A(H1N1) case recorded in the region was a student from La Salle University who went home to Bacolod City before her throat swab result came out.

Two more children in Bacolod City also tested positive for A(H1N1) flu while the 38-year-old seaman is the first confirmed case in Iloilo City.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE chief of police of Jaro, Iloilo City will not back off from the administrative charges filed against him by Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. and his bodyguards.   

C/Insp. Orly Gabinete said he welcomes the case filed against him so he will have the opportunity to answer Tupas’ accusations.

SPO1 Eugenio Beiren, provincial guard 2 Jeffrey Gallardo and Renjie Arandilla filed charges for abuse of authority, grave misconduct, gross incompetence, ignorance of the law, and conduct unbecoming of an officer against Gabinete before the PNP Provincial Internal Affairs Service (PIAS).

Beiren and Gallardo are Tupas’ security escorts while Arandilla is the driver of the governor’s black Nissan Patrol.

The charges stemmed from a traffic altercation between the governor’s escorts and Lyle Tugbang Jr., son of retired Army colonel Lyle Tugbang Sr., in the evening of June 9.

Beiren, Gallardo and Arandilla accused Gabinete of illegally confiscating the siren from Tupas’ Nissan Patrol which is part of the governor’s convoy.

The complainants attached a certification from the Land Transportation Office saying the police have no power to confiscate the siren.

Gabinete said he is willing to face the charges against him to maintain the morale of the Jaro police force.

Tupas riled at the confiscation of his convoy’s siren saying he is the top law enforcer in the province and Western Visayas being the Regional Peace and Order Council chair.

In an interview with RMN-Iloilo, retired colonel Tugbang said he sympathizes with Gabinete who is being persecuted for doing his job as a police officer.

Tugbang also asked help from lawyers to provide legal assistance to Gabinete.

“To all the lawyers out there, if we could help Orly, let’s help him. He is on the right track. I will talk to Gabinete’s superiors to find out how we can help,” Tugbang told anchorman Rhod Tecson.

Tugbang said he thought the issue was already settled after talking with Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul “Boboy” Tupas after the altercation.

Presidential Decree No. 96 bans the attachment of sirens, blinkers, domelights and other signaling devices on motor vehicles.

Only motor vehicles designated for official use by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Transportation Commission (now Land Transportation Office), police departments, fire departments and hospital ambulances can use such gadgets.

Other pertinent laws stress that only the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are legally authorized to use sirens, blinkers, and escorts for official purposes.

No other national or local government officials and private citizens are authorized to use these devices either in their own vehicle, or in vehicles accompanying or escorting them.

Any device or gadget installed or mounted on any motor vehicle or otherwise used in violation of this decree shall be subject to immediate confiscation. In cases of second and subsequent offenses, the offender shall be prosecuted.

In 1999, Malacañang, ordered to the PNP to strictly enforce the ban on the use of sirens, blinkers and other devices and symbols of authority on unauthorized vehicles.

On June 30, 2005, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Administrative Order 122 “directing all government offices to strictly comply with PD 96 declaring unlawful the indiscriminate use of sirens, blinkers or similar devices.”

AO 122 said sirens, blinkers or similar devices “obstructs the efficient flow of traffic along the country’s major thoroughfares” and “the improper use of these devices poses as a safety and traffic hazard to both motorists and pedestrians.”

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said he welcomes the charges against Gabinete “so the issue will be settled in the proper forum.”

“The complainants aired their grievances before the proper forum, Gabinete can now answer them formally,” Cuevas said.

Top PRO-6 officials who sought anonymity for fear of reprisal said Gabinete was right in confiscating the siren because the discovery of the item stemmed from the traffic altercation.

The PRO-6 officials said Gabinete’s case “affects the morale of police officers who perform their duties and put their lives on the line to protect the people.”

“Police officers are caught in between politicians no matter how well we perform our work. This is taking a toll on our morale and affects our efforts to professionalize the PNP,” the officials said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO-based contractors suspended by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) from bidding for local infrastructure projects can still appeal their case before the agency.

Engr. Rolando Asis, DPWH-6 regional director, said the contractors can still ask their central office to reconsider the suspension order issued by DPWH Sec. Hermogenes Ebdane.

Asis confirmed that Iloilo-based firms were among the 60 contractors barred from biddings for DPWH and other government agencies’ projects for one year.

These firms include IBC International Builders Corp., F. Gurrea Construction, J.S. Layson and Co., Roprim Construction, B.E. Construction, Patrila Builders and Topmost Development Marketing Corp.

Ebdane signed the suspension order May 21 as part of the agency’s reform initiatives following the fallout from the World Bank’s recent findings of collusion among the contractors for one of the country’s biggest road project.

Ebdane based his order on the recommendations of DPWH Joint Central Office-Bids and Awards Committee (CO-BAC).

The CO-BAC allegedly found the firms to have violated bidding and procurement procedures of locally-funded civil works.

The DPWH said the firms violated Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement and Reform Act) with most of the contractors getting the bid documents only to ask other bidders to pay them so they won’t proceed.

Bidders who procured bid documents but did not participate three times in a year violated the DPWH’s three-strike policy.

The suspended firms particularly violated the provisions of Republic Act 9184 and the three-strike policy in procurement of civil works. Some of them have been suspended before for previous violations.

“We have given all concerned (firms) enough time and followed due process as required by law. After careful deliberation of the CO-BAC, 60 contractors were recommended for suspension and I have approved their recommendation effective immediately,” Ebdane said in a DPWH press release.

Ebdane said during the past few months, they summoned 216 contractors but only 168 responded, among these were the suspended firms.

“Those who failed to respond to the DPWH are already barred to bid, while the 60 who have responded, yet the DPWH found their reasons unacceptable, are suspended for one year effective today,” Ebdane said.

Ebdane said that after a year, these suspended contractors can ask to be reinstated in the list of accredited contractors following agency procedures.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PRAYERS and precautionary measures are the Catholic Church’s contribution to the fight against the spread of the Influenza A(H1N1) virus in Western Visayas and the rest of he country.

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo issued a circular to all parishes, clergy and religious orders in Jaro Archdiocese to help prevent A(H1N1) flu.

Lagdameo said the circular is based on the advisory issued by the Commission on Liturgy in the Archdiocese.

The Church’s A(H1N1) advisory urged priests to give the Holy Communion during masses by hand. Holding of hands will not be allowed during the Lord’s Prayer. Instead of kissing and hand shaking, churchgoers are urged to make a simple nod for the giving of Peace.

Holy Water stoups or vessels shall be emptied of Holy Water. Church-goers are advised just to make the sign of the Cross upon entering and going out of the church.

Priests and lay ministers distributing Communion during the Mass must wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizers before and after the Mass.

The commission also provided petitions to be added to the Prayers of the Faithful to stave off the infection.

The prayers are:

– “That the Lord will heal the sick brought about by the A (H1N1) Virus.  That God will grant wisdom to Doctors so that they may find a cure that will stop the spread of the disease.  Let us pray to the Lord.”

– May god strengthen us and assure us in our fears.  May he grant healing to those afflicted with the A (H1N1) Virus.  And may he send us his help and protection.  Let us pray to the Lord.

“I exhort all the Clergy, the Religious and all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Jaro to take into consideration this advisory,” Lagdameo said.

June 2009
M T W T F S S
« May   Jul »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Blog Stats

  • 233,262 hits

Top Clicks

  • None

Flickr Photos

Advertisements