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Cebu City News

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Cebu City - Archived News

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Aerial View of Cebu City

Contents

30 Cebu mayors want 84 trees cut

By Carmel Loise Matus


CEBU CITY—At least 30 Cebu mayors want Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to reissue an order to cut 84 trees, many of which are century-old, in two cities and one town in southern Cebu province. During the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Cebu (LMP-Cebu) on Friday, the mayors agreed to pass a resolution addressed to Paje because they wanted the road-widening project in the south to continue. Tuburan Mayor Democrito “Aljun” Diamante, LMP-Cebu chapter president, told a news conference that the trees should not be an obstacle to development. “There are other areas where we can plant the trees but these should not be on the roadside. These trees [along the highway] can prevent the development of an area,” Diamante said in Cebuano. The 84 trees are among the 154 earlier identified to be cut or earth-balled to give way to the 15-kilometer road-widening project that covers San Fernando town and the cities of Naga and Carcar worth P1.025 billion from the pork barrel funds of former Representatives Eduardo Gullas and Tomas Osmeña. The widening was stalled when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) required the Department of Public Works and Highways to conduct a public hearing due to the opposition to the plan to cut down the trees. But the DENR inspected the 88 old trees in July when two century-old trees separately fell in San Fernando and Carcar. The agency then declared these trees as “diseased” and “rotting” and recommended their cutting. Four century-old trees in Naga had already been cut when Paje ordered to stop the operation due to massive opposition from environmentalist groups. The mayors earlier planned to file a class suit against the DENR and Cebu for stopping the cutting of trees because, according to Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia, the trees should be chopped down, regardless of their health condition, to give way to “progress.” Diamante said the mayors decided to settle the matter diplomatically by asking Paje to reconsider his decision because the trees could be planted anywhere but the highway where falling trees could pose danger to passing motorists. He stressed that the local governments, and not the environmentalists, would be the ones to respond in cases of emergency brought on by falling tress. Diamante said stopping the cutting of trees was “antidevelopment.” “We could always plant trees but we should not prevent the development of a place. How will we bring products from the province to the city if we have not widened the roads just because of these sick and old trees?” he asked.






Drainage projects ‘stalled’ by lack of council nod

By Princess Dawn H. Felicitas


DRAINAGE projects of the Cebu City Government amounting to P252 million have not been implemented.

This was disclosed by the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) in the wake of the flooding that recently struck the city.

The P252 million covers the P100 million worth of drainage projects that the City was supposed to implement in 2012. The P52 million and P100 million covered projects that were supposed to be implemented last year and this year.

The amount forms part of the implementation of the City’s P2.4-billion drainage master plan.

DEPW Chief Engr. Jose Marie Poblete told Sun.Star Cebu that the drainage projects were not implemented because these were not approved by the City Council.

Poblete said the budget for drainage programs and projects are lump sum appropriations, and charges in the said account needs the approval of the council as provided for in the budget ordinance.

The P100-million budget in 2012 was supposed to cover drainage projects in Barangays Luz (P729,420), Parian (P3.6 million), Kalubihan (P5.4 million), Sto. Niño (P28 million), Ermita (P1 million), Sawang Calero (P3.8 million), Pahina Central (P667,621), Basak Pardo (P3.5 million), and Basak San Nicolas (P8.7 million).

It also covered drainage projects in Barangays Guadalupe (P31 million), Carreta (P1.7 million), Kamputhaw (P4.3 million) and along Magallanes St., particularly from D. Jakosalem St. to Manalili St. (P6.2 million).

Powe

For 2013, the P52-million drainage projects were supposed to be implemented in Barangays Sambag 1 (P5.6 million), Tejero (P11 million), Carreta (P13.5 million), Ermita (P2.4 million) and Lahug (P20 million). The other P100 million set aside for this year, Poblete said, covers drainage projects in other flood-prone areas.

Poblete said all the drainage projects for 2012 until 2014 already have program of works and estimates (Powe) from DEPW.

To be implemented, he said they need a resolution allowing them to charge the fund for the said project to the lump sum appropriation account.

The DEPW chief said council approval is needed because the City Budget Office won’t sign the approved budget of contract (ABC) for the project without the resolution.

The ABC, Poblete said, is one of the requirements so the bidding for the project can proceed.

Based on records of the office of Councilor Margarita Osmeña, who heads the committee on budget and finance, DEPW was only able to endorse drainage projects to them this year.

A question of funding

Also, the total drainage projects introduced to the legislative body only amount to P51.6 million.

These are covered by proposed resolutions authored by Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias, who heads the committee on infrastructure.

The council has not yet approved Cabarrubias’s resolutions as it has scheduled an executive session first with the DEPW and the City Treasurer’s Office on Sept. 5.

Since there are projects that date back to 2012 yet, the council wants to know if there are funds to support the implementation of the drainage projects.

It was in 2012 when the City started implementing drainage projects that are aligned with the drainage master plan.

Before that, the DEPW implemented drainage projects based on the request of the city’s 80 barangays.

Metro master plan

Aside from implementing drainage projects, Poblete said the City needs public help in solving the flooding problem.

This is because solid wastes, such as plastics, have clogged drainage lines.

He also said there is a need for the City to recover the three-meter easement of rivers, which are being occupied by illegal settlers.

Mayor Michael Rama, in a separate interview, said he wants the Department of Public Works and Highways to give an update on the comprehensive Metro Cebu drainage master plan.

The master plan, he said, will address the recurring flooding problem in the entire Metro Cebu.

Girl’s drug case opens up debates

By Ador Vincent S. Mayol


For about a month, 14-year-old Anabelle (not her real name) left home to stay with friends in a house in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City. Her mother, a laundry woman, lost contact with her daughter until a month later when she heard the news on Aug. 9 that Anabelle was arrested for selling shabu worth P5.9 million. What shocked Hannah (not her real name) was that her daughter was tagged by the police as a big-time drug mule. Hannah immediately went to the police station in Barangay Punta Princesa where her daughter was detained. Although disappointed over what happened to her, Hannah gave Anabelle what she needed most: a hug. Anabelle, described by the police as “very elusive,” was arrested in her friend’s house in Labangon after a two-week surveillance operation. Taken from Anabelle were 301 grams of shabu, a disposable spoon, a lighter and a digital weighing scale. When brought to the Cebu City prosecutor’s office on Aug. 12, Anabelle kept her head down and sobbed on her mother’s lap. “I don’t want to be charged,” she told Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Alex Gabud in Cebuano. The girl got what she wanted. Juvenile law Gabud dismissed the complaint against Anabelle because, under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (Republic Act No. 9344), children 15 years old or younger at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempted from criminal liability. Minors age 16 or 17 may be held liable if they acted “with discernment,” meaning they are aware of what they are doing. Gabud said that since Anabelle is 14, she is exempted from criminal liability. “The cases involving the child were erroneously filed in this office. In the first place, the police should not have brought her here (prosecutor’s office),” Gabud said. He said that under the law, the police should have turned over the girl to the local social welfare office and the parents should have been notified. On Aug. 13, the girl was turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) in Cebu City upon the order of the prosecutor. Anabelle’s mother said she wanted to bring her home but could not do so because Anabelle was placed under the custody of social workers. “It is painful that I cannot be with my daughter, but I have to accept it. It is better than her landing in jail,” she said in Cebuano. Child safety Alma Cabus of the DSWS said Anabelle had been put in a center because, based on her assessment, the place where the mother lives is not conducive to the girl’s proper upbringing. “I’m also taking into consideration the safety of this child,” Cabus said. Anabelle has relayed to the police the names of the people who instructed her to sell drugs. But the girl cannot be admitted to the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP) even if the police wanted to. State Prosecutor Llena Ipong-Avila, regional enforcer of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) WPP, said they could not secure Anabelle because no case had been filed against her in court. “Based on what we agreed upon, the DSWS should take custody of minor offenders. The DOJ may secure minor offenders if their parents also stay in our safe houses. In the case of Anabelle, I don’t think this is possible,” Avila said. If Anabelle wants to return to school, Cabus said the DSWS would arrange for her entry into the Alternative Learning System, a program of the Department of Education that teaches basic literacy to out-of-school youth. Anabelle, the youngest of four children, is in Grade 5 but has not been attending classes regularly because of an infirmity. Mother’s task Hannah, 49, who is suffering from tuberculosis and diabetes, said she never had any inkling that her youngest child would be involved in illegal drugs. She admitted that she was unable to monitor Anabelle because she would be too tired and often go to sleep after she arrives home from work. Anabelle told social workers that she preferred going with her friends than staying at home alone. She said her mother was out working while her three siblings have their own families. Ester Concha, DSWS head, said many young people were hungry for attention and love. “Because they don’t feel loved by their parents, they look for substitutes. And so they go out with their friends, hoping to find the love they are longing for,” she told the Inquirer. But Concha said people should not be quick to condemn parents who have to leave their children because they have to work. “We could not actually blame those parents who work hard to earn for their family. If they don’t work, what will the family eat?” she said.

What children need But Concha advised parents to spend “quality time” with their children despite their busy schedule. “I’ve encountered a number of children in conflict with the law. I realized that all they need is to feel the love and care of their parents,” she said. Concha said some parents thought it was enough to give money to their children but money “can never substitute the love your kids need from you.” From January to July this year, the DSWS has recorded 300 youths arrested for various violations that included theft, murder and rape. Of the number, 165 are at the Operation Second Chance, a facility for youth offenders in the hilly village of Kalunasan, Cebu City. The others are under the care of social workers. Concha said she favored amending the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 to discourage children from committing crimes. “I think this law has been taken advantage of by syndicates. Children are being used to commit crimes,” Concha said. But lawyer Vincent Isles of the Children’s Legal Bureau opposes the idea of putting minors behind bars or exposing them to criminal trial. He said Anabelle is a “victim of circumstances.” “She’s not yet fully aware of the criminal consequences of her acts. When we punish child-victims, our society has doubly failed them—first, in keeping them away from criminal influences, and second, in punishing them for our failure to keep them from criminal influences,” he said. Isles said hauling minor offenders to jail would not solve the problem of their involvement in crimes. Run after gangs Instead, law enforcers should run after crime syndicates who continue to use children. Senior Supt. Conrado Capa, police deputy director for operation in Central Visayas, said the continued arrest of minor offenders was “alarming.” “There are lots of factors involved here: poverty, the upbringing of children and the lack of facilities for minor offenders, among others. But all these boil down to the need to strengthen the family,” he said in a phone interview. Hannah blamed her daughter’s friends for what happened to Anabelle. But Hannah said she had forgiven Anabelle who had promised to reform. “I have forgiven her because she is my daughter. I cannot just abandon her,” she said.

Cebu experiences ‘worst flooding this year’

By Kimbo Maglaya |INQUIRER.net


MANILA, Philippines — A 16-year-old-boy has been reported missing while hundreds of employees and students in Metro Cebu were stranded after heavy rains that lasted two hours Thursday afternoon caused knee-deep floods. The Cebu Daily News reported that the teen, who has yet to be identified by authorities, went missing when he went to the beach before the rains fell. The downpour was reported to have started at 3:53 p.m., and ended at 6 p.m. The Pagasa weather station in Mactan recorded rainfall of 18.2 millimeters in just one hour. A millimeter of rain is equivalent to 5,000 barrels of water poured in a one square kilometer. Cebu City’s Councilor Dave Tumulak, who heads the city hall’s Command and control center (C3) said that the Mahiga Creek overflowed, and that the volume of rain overwhelmed the city’s drainage system. “It was the worst episode of flooding this year,” Tumulak said. Tumulak also said there were reported incidents of landslides in the sub-villages (Sitio) Pili, Malubog, St. Martin Heights and Lupa in Barangay (village) Sapangdako. City Hall, meanwhile, dispatched 10 buses to help ferry stranded passengers. “We should expect flooding with this. We can say it was caused by improper drainage,” said Alfredo Quiblat Jr., chief of the weather station.

Wall collapses, kills construction worker in Cebu City

By Joel Locsin


A construction worker was killed after a wall collapsed amid heavy rain in Cebu City on Wednesday evening.

The body of Ronel Suson was found an hour after the incident, GMA Cebu's Greg Magdadaro and Bexmae Jumao-as reported.

"Bigla na lang bumigay ang lupa," said foreman Ronello Fernandez.

Suson was rushed to a hospital but it was too late for doctors to save him.

Meanwhile, in Consolacion town, three families lost their homes after a wall in their subdivision collapsed after heavy rain.

No one was initially reported injured in the Consolacion incident. — Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

LBC robbed for 6th time in 2014

By Davinci S. Maru


SERIAL robbers are at it again.

Another LBC outlet was robbed before noon yesterday, this time the branch along a busy street in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City.

Six robberies so far this year have cost LBC outlets in Cebu a total of P191,000. Combined, the five outlets that were robbed before yesterday lost P167,000.

The outlet in yesterday’s case lost P24,000 in cash and valuables to two unidentified men within just three minutes.

It was the third time it got robbed since it started operating, police said.

The outlet has no security guard and its closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera bogged down; the police have been saying these factors place any establishment at a greater risk of getting robbed.

In the first half this year, an average of 374 robberies occurred in Central Visayas per month, records from the Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division of Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 showed.

From January to June, there were 2,249 robberies recorded by police, which was 25 percent of all crimes against properties. Theft remained the most common crime, with 6,634 incidents or 75 percent of all crimes against property.

The latest robbery took place at 11:30 a.m. yesterday, when two men suddenly entered the outlet, said SPO3 Marcos Noval Jr. of Mandaue City Police Office’s (MCPO) Investigation and Detective Management Branch.

One of the suspects, clad in a white shirt, went directly to clerk Queenie Pie Diaz, 21. His cohort, who wore a helmet, sat down on the bench where customers sit to wait for their transaction.

The suspect declared a hold-up and opened the two drawers with one hand while the other hand was placed behind his back, as if he held a gun.

The suspect then took the P9,000 cash and P6,000 cash placed in each drawer. He led Diaz to the back room and took a mobile phone worth P9,000 and P300 cash owned by Shienna Uy, 22, the other clerk.

Struck thrice

Noval said that the suspect was apparently planning to lock Diaz in the bathroom, but left her and immediately ran outside. The two suspects then fled onboard a red XRM motorcycle.

Uy, who had gone out to buy lunch, came back several minutes later and learned from Diaz about what happened.

PO1 Jom Rosas of Subangdaku Police Station, who was patrolling several meters away, heard about it from residents and immediately proceeded to the scene.

Rosas, when interviewed by Sun.Star Cebu, said he checked the outlet at 10 a.m., about 90 minutes before the robbers struck.

He is assigned at the beat patrol and the area is one of his assignments since the outlet has been robbed several times. It was reportedly robbed in November last year and during the Holy Week.

“Mobisita gud ko diha pirmi. Maglingkodlingkod. Posible nagbantay ra gyud to sila (I visit that outlet a lot. It’s possible the robbers were monitoring the joint),” he said.

The outlet is equipped with a CCTV camera but it stopped operating yesterday after it was reportedly affected by the fluctuating electricity supply.

Witness

Senior Insp. Jimmy Fortes, head of MCPO’s IDMB, said they will ask the management to check their computer system because it may have recorded the suspects.

Edu Jay Ando, the outlet’s supervisor, declined to issue any statement yet regarding the incident. The outlet also suspended its operation after the robbery.

Noval said they will invite the female clerks for questioning as part of their standard operating procedure. Diaz has only been working in the LBC outlet for three weeks, while Uy has been there for less than a year.

During the robbery, an elderly customer was sitting on the bench and busy texting. The customer told Sun.Star Cebu he didn’t hear any commotion nor notice the suspect who sat beside him.

“Wa gyud ko kabantay kay busy sad ko ug text (I didn’t notice anything. I was busy texting),” he said. He had just dropped off some clothes to be delivered to Manila.

The customer said the clerk then went out from the room and informed him that they got robbed.

“Ato ning sutaon gyud kung unsay tinuod (We’ll find out what really happened here),” Noval said.

Cebu City’s traffic chief named rapid transit czar

By pna.gov.ph

CEBU CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) -- Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has named lawyer Rafael Yap, the City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) executive director, as the city’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) czar.

Rama said Yap is suited for the job because of his “intelligence, technical understanding of BRT and managerial capacity.”

Yap is part of the team handling the implementation of the P10.6-billion Cebu-BRT project.

Rama said he also wants to create a transportation office at the South Road Properties that Yap would supervise to monitor and assess the implementation of the Cebu-BRT, which is expected to be operational by 2017.

“The BRT needs focus, structure, people component, and professionalism. Yap has a heart for BRT as he also fought for it. He will head that very big transport office. I always give a change for anyone to grow,” he said.

”The role of the city is so huge. It is not a joke, so it has to be done professionally,” he said.

Rama said he has encouraged the 80 barangays to identify their respective “transportation czar” who would oversee major transportation projects and policies, including traffic rules enforcement, in their respective areas.

Rama also said he does not want the trees lining the BRT route to become a reason to halt the implementation of the mass transport system.

Some 2,024 trees would reportedly be affected once the construction of the BRT facilities starts.

“The trees should not be primarily the reason to halt infrastructure projects because development also needs to be considered. We need to develop in order to serve more lives. If development is needed it is given that there are some areas that will be affected,” he said. (PNA) CMR/EB

P80M feasibility study for Cebu circumferential road underway

By pna.gov.ph

CEBU CITY, Aug. 25 (PNA) -- An P80-million feasibility study is being conducted for the implementation of the proposed Cebu Circumferential Road Project (CCRP), which is intended to cut travel time from southern Cebu to Danao City in the north by half, officials said.

Director Ador Canlas of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 said the proposed CCRP will start in Carcar City in the south, some 73 kilometers from Danao City.

Canlas said the project aims to connect the southern and northern parts of Metro Cebu, with a route adjacent to the Natalio Bacalso national highway.

“We are considering different factors such as the cost of road right-of-way acquisition and the number of properties that could be affected by the project,” Canlas said.

Nonato Paylado, DPWH 7’s chief planning and design officer, said the consultancy firm Cedco, which won the bid to conduct the feasibility study, is looking at three possible alignments for the project.

The first option is to keep the CCRP close to the main urban areas of Metro Cebu.

A second option is to apply an old feasibility study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) back in 1993, which recommended a circumferential road from Barangays Pardo to Talamban in Cebu City.

The third option is to build the circumferential road far from the urban areas.

Paylado said Cedco may conclude their study by January next year. (PNA) LAP/EB/

Present Osmeña’s granddaughter back in Cebu from Sevilla

By Jaime Picornell

Myra Gonzalez y Osmeña, granddaughter of the late President Sergio Osmeña Sr., recently took a two-month vacation in Spain, spending most of her time in Sevilla where she had lived for more than 20 years. Main reason for her trip was to attend the first communion of her grandson Bernardito Losada, son of Myra’s eldest son Bernardo Losada, and his wife Carmina. A first communion in Spain is a big celebration. The reunion also gathered Bernardito’s paternal grandfather, Manuel Losada, Count of Palancar. The genealogy is assured if direct male heirs to the title in Bernardino and Bernardito. Myra also spent precious time with her younger son, Jose Maria Losada, his wife Vanessa, and their son Pablito; as well as with daughter Beatriz and Fran Garcia, who make their home in Granada with their children Lucia and Marcos. Residing in Cebu are Myra’s youngest daughter Inmaculada and her husband Paolo Manguerra. They have three children: Santi, Paloma and Ignacio. Whenever Myra goes to Sevilla she contacts her many friends and relations there from way back. They organized a whole day excursion to “El Fontanar,” a cortijo that is part of the vast estate of the prominent Benjumea family. It is located some distance from Sevilla in the picturesque Andalucian town of Puebla de Cazalla. The ancestral house, in an excellent state of preservation, was built in the 18th century and completed in the 19th. Highly rated for its heritage value, it is surrounded by well-kept gardens with hedges, lawns, towering trees and flowering shrubs, The rest of the estate is dedicated to centuries-old olive trees and wheat. Welcoming all were Sonsoles Rodriguez de Benjumea and Iñigo Benjumea de la Cova, who is a good friend of former Ambassador of Spain to the Philippines Jorge Domecq, now assigned to Vienna. “It was a wonderful day,” recalls Myra. “We had tapas to start with, then there was lunch, and we lingered over coffee and pastries until twilight.” Among those present were Cebuana in Sevilla, Dr. Dahlia Quijada Rafel, with husband Dr. Enrique Rafel; Concha Losada, Salvador Martos, Medalla Barrionuevo de Martos, Ignacio Quijano, Liliana Cardenas, Sebastian Cardenas Valdenebro, Carmen Rojo, Aurora Conde, Angelita Zamorano, Encarna Gavilan and Pili Davila. Myra is now back in Cebu amid its hectic social whirl. Eldest son Bernardo Losada has also come with her. He is now the food and beverage consultant of Casino Español de Cebu.

Belgium Day The National Day of Belgium commemorates the establishment of the country as an independent kingdom in 1830. It was celebrated in Cebu with a glittering diplomatic reception at the Manila Room of Marco Polo Plaza Hotel. Hosting were the new Ambassador of Belgium and Ms Roland Van Remoortele, as well as the Belgium’s honorary consul in Cebu and Ms Enrique Benedicto. Mila Espina emceed the brief commemorative program at which Ambassador Van Remoortele cited the strong ties between the Philippines and Belgium, for many years, dating back to the 19th century. To representing the Mayor of Cebu City, who was out of town, was Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella whose speech underscored the mutual friendship between the two countries. “As Theresians, you are the product of education by the Belgian nuns,” someone whispered to Nelia Neri and Marissa Fernan, who nodded in silence. Sayonara The Ambassador of Japan and Ms Toshinao Urabe hosted a reception, also at the Marco Polo, to say farewell to their numerous friends in the Visayas, as they are about to complete their tour of duty in the Philippines. With them at the reception line were Japan’s Consul in Cebu Shoji Otake with his wife Naomi who had done some magnificent floral arrangements. Not so long ago she did a demo for the members of the Cebu Ikebana chapter, some of whom were present on this occasion—Malou Hyden, Carmen Go, Margie Sy and more. In his valedictory speech, Ambassador Urabe mentioned this was his seventh visit to Cebu. “Come back as many more times you wish,” responded Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who delivered an emotional farewell. Also present, and on stage to wish the ambassador godspeed was Gov. Alfredo Marañon of Negros Occidental. Everyone clinked glasses when he proposed a toast. Many prominent members of the Japanese community were present. There was also a good segment of the local Consular Corps. Among them, and listed here at random: Korea’s Augusto Go telling friends to mark Oct. 11 in their calendars; Slovak Republic’s Antonio Chiu with wife Nellie; Belgium’s Enrique Benedicto; Spain’s Anton Perdices with wife Maripaz; Sweden’s Cheling Sala with wife Susan; and US’s John Domingo. More: Germany’s Franz Seidenschwarz with wife Elizabeth, Mexico’s Eduardo Gonzalez, Czech Republic’s Philip Go, and Austria’s Julie Alegrado Vergara with her dad, Arcadio Alegrado, whom she succeeded at the post upon his retirement. Speaking of the Cebu Consular Corps, its chair Emily Benedicto Chioson, honorary consul of Israel, has called a general membership meeting over lunch on Sept. 1 at the Casino Español de Cebu. Special guests will be the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Nikki Fernandez, director in Cebu and Jun Espiritu. They will conduct talks on the protocols, duties and benefits of honorary consuls. Some spouses will also attend.

Cebu City to 'lose' P1.2B in 10 years

By Princess Dawn H. Felicitas

THE Cebu City Government will lose at least P1.2 billion that it could otherwise spend on basic services in the next 10 years if it will not convert its foreign loan for the South Road Properties (SRP).

Officials of the City Accounting Office, in an executive session with the City Council yesterday, said there is a “compelling need” to convert the loan into a domestic one.

The P1.2 billion will not cover the City’s payments for the principal amount of the loan it took from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), but only the payments for currency fluctuations and the guarantee fee.

The City had availed itself of a 12.315-billion yen with Jica in 1995 to develop the 300-hectare SRP. At that time, its peso equivalent was P4.65 billion.

The loan is payable in 30 years, ending in 2025. The City’s balance was P2.91 billion, including interest, as of Feb. 27, 2014.

Appearing before the council yesterday, City Accountant Atty. Mark Solomon said the foreign exchange losses are expected to reach P992,626,938 in the next 10 years or nearly P100 million every year.

Substantial

For the next 10 years, Solomon also said, the City will have to pay P206,513,590 for the guarantee fee, on top of its foreign exchange losses.

Since the City started paying for the loan in 2005, Solomon said, it has already suffered foreign exchange losses of P90,238,812 per annum or a total of P902,388,126.

The amount forms part of the P2.63 billion that the City has so far paid for the principal.

“This is a substantial amount which is charged to the general fund of the City and this could have been used as additional budget for basic services,” Solomon said.

The City suffered foreign exchange losses, he said, because when the City entered into the loan agreement for the SRP in March 1996, there was a huge difference in the value of the yen to the US dollar and the dollar to the peso.

During that time, the exchange rate for one yen was US$1.3, while each US dollar was worth P26.30.

Guarantee

Now, however, Solomon said the yen-to-dollar exchange rate is at 0.90, while the dollar-to-peso exchange rate is at P43.

“So there is really a big difference. Foreign exchange loss occurs when an agreement is entered into under a foreign currency, which in this case is Japanese yen, and at the time of payment, there is a higher exchange rate due to the fluctuation of currency valuation,” he said.

The City pays for the SRP loan twice every year, in February and August.

"If we don’t convert the foreign loan into a domestic loan, we will really suffer further losses,” he said.

Aside from this, Solomon said there is a need for the City to convert the foreign loan to a domestic loan so the City will no longer be paying the guarantee fee.

The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) collects a one-percent guarantee fee of the City’s total outstanding loan balance for the year and remits it to the Department of Finance (DOF). LBP is the conduit bank of Jica while DOF is the guarantor of the loan.

Remedy

As of December 2013, Solomon said the City has already paid P546,362,774 for the guarantee fee.

Lastly, Solomon said there is a need to convert the loan in order to fix the actual interest rate. He said the present interest for the loan is based on the yen, and fluctuates depending on the currency valuation.

“As a conclusion, unless we provide a remedy today, the coffers of the City will continue to bleed, which will eventually affect the City’s capacity to deliver basic services,” he said.

In their discussion, Councilor Margarita Osmeña, chairperson of the council’s committee on budget and finance, said that Solomon’s report seems to show that the City is “in a bad position.”

She said that his report did not include the City’s receivables from the two investors at the SRP, SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Filinvest Land Inc., which amount to P602 million this year.

The amount, she said, can take care of the City’s loan amortization of P550 million annually.

Seal of approval

Also, Osmeña said there are qualifications that the City has to meet to convert the foreign loan.

Elsie Tagupa of the LBP, who also appeared before the council yesterday, submitted a list of requirements the City has to comply with.

Of the seven requirements, one is that the City should have the latest Seal of Good Housekeeping from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

DILG last gave the City the Seal of Good Housekeeping in 2011 yet.

“How can we even get that (seal) when we have adverse rulings from the Commission on Audit in the past three years? Maybe we should fix our books first,” said Osmeña.

Osmeña added that the conversion of the foreign loan is “easier said than done” and that the City should comply first with all the requirements set by the bank.

Exec: Capitol’s net worth expands

By Oscar C. Pineda


CEBU Capitol’s net worth as of May this year increased by about P1 billion compared to the first quarter of last year.

Provincial Accountant Marieto Ypil told the Provincial Board last Monday that the Capitol’s net worth as of May 31 is P27.924 billion, an improvement over the first quarter 2013 figure of P26.919 billion.

Capitol’s total assets of P28.736 billion as of end May this year expanded by only about P660 million over that of the first quarter of 2013 at P28.078 billion.

The improvement in net worth stemmed from the decrease in total liabilities. As of May 31 this year, the Capitol’s total liabilities reached P811.905 million, way below first quarter 2013’s P1,159,675,565.60.

Liabilities cover payables, such as taxes and government-mandated benefits for employees.

Total assets, on the other hand, include cash, receivables, inventories, investments, properties, plants and equipment.

The Capitol’s investments expanded in the 14 months between end of March 2013 to May 31, 2014. In the first quarter of 2013, the Capitol’s total investments were about P131 million, which grew to P188.3 million by end of May 2014.

Gov. Hilario Davide III, who assumed office in July 2013, said he wants increase the Capitol’s income by improving tax collection efficiency and economic enterprise.

DepEd orders schools to remove unsafe trees

By Jessa J. Agua (The Freeman)


CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Education in Central Visayas has issued a directive requiring schools to remove hazardous trees within their campuses.

In a radio interview, DepEd regional director Carmelita Dulangon said this was decided to avoid the unfortunate falling of trees which may potentially put risk to students and teachers.

Dulangon’s directive has already been disseminated to division schools superintendents in the entire Central Visayas, telling them to secure special tree cutting permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7.

DENR-7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo, for his part, said the agency is willing to assist DepEd, especially as this concerns the safety of students.

“As of the moment, our agency has not received any request from them. But it will go through the same process as cutting trees along the road. An assessment will be done on the condition of the trees; a tree inventory will be done,” Llamedo told The FREEMAN.

“Also, certifications from the school principal, barangay and local government unit chiefs have to be obtained to prove they do not object to the cutting of the defective tree,” he added.

While per school request will be accommodated and assisted, Llamedo said speedier action will be done for “institutional request” from the office of Dulangon, enumerating the schools and identifying trees of concern based on initial assessment by school officials.

“The initial list from the regional office of DepEd will be the basis of the tree assessment and inventory of our foresters. This way, we can prioritize the (ones in) most dangerous condition,” Llamedo said.

The special tree cutting permit applications will then be forwarded to Central Office for approval as the regional offices are not authorized to issue such permits.

Dulangon recalled an instance when she was still the division superintendent of Talisay City where two students were hospitalized after an old tree fell and hit them.

She added she did not want the same to happen again, which is why she has ordered the clearing of defective and hazardous trees in schools.

Meanwhile, DENR-7 executive director Isabelo Montejo yesterday maintained that the foresters at the Central Visayas office are equipped and have undergone proper trainings on tree assessment and surgery.

“Our technical experts are trained. We stand by the notion that our experts are enough. But we are thankful to them (environmentalists) that they wanted to know more. But if there will be people who will collaborate with us, we welcome them,” Montejo said.

This after the assessment and diagnosis on the trees lined up at the roadside in southern Cebu from Naga City to Carcar City are now basically back to square one. —/JMD (FREEMAN)


Cebu City Archived News

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