Cebu City News

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Cebu City - Archived News

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Tropical depression Queenie downs power in Cebu, fisherman missing


CEBU CITY - A fisherman in a southern Cebu town was reported missing while a portion of Cebu City was without power due to winds spawned by tropical depression "Queenie." The family of Feliciano Looc of Barangay Alo in Oslob town sought the help of the police after he failed to come home since Wednesday when he went out to the sea to fish. Families from Barangay Nueva Caseres also from Oslob called the Office of the Civil Defence (OCD) to ask for help as flood water continued to rise in their area. Southern Cebu, including Cebu City, was placed under Signal No. 1 along with Bohol, Negros Oriental, southern Negros Occidental and Antique. It had been raining in Cebu since 3am on Thursday, prompting the suspension of classes in private and public schools in the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, Talisay and Mandaue as well as in Cebu province. Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, head of the city's command centre, said brownout was reported in Barangays Bulacao, Tisa, Lahug, Apas and Lorega, as well as Ma. Luisa Subdivision. Strong wind spawned by "Queenie" busted the transformer that supplied power to these areas, while a tree was uprooted in Lorega and hit an electric post. Tumulak said strong winds also disrupted their radio communication with mountain barangays. Cebu City government also fielded city-owned buses starting 7am to ferry stranded passengers. "We have noticed reduction in the number of PUJs (pubic utility jeepneys) and people were stranded on the streets so we decided to field our buses," he said. Strong winds also toppled a tree and hit the rear of the taxi passing along the Banilad access road of the Cebu IT Park in Barangay Lahug. Reports reaching the OCD in Central Visayas said a tree fell and hit two vehicles in front of the City Hall of Tagbilaran, Bohol.

Cebu City triathlon set

By Richiel S. Chavez

SINULOG is not only for culture and arts as sports will have a fair share of the limelight as well.

Several competitions have been organized in line with the Sinulog festivities. But for the first time, the local government of Cebu, Cebu City Sports Commission, Sinulog Foundation Inc. and Cornerstone Group converged to stage the very first Cebu City Triathlon (CCT) on Jan. 25 at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC). It will be part of the closing event of the Sinulog celebration and will feature the sprint distance of 750-meter swim, 20K bike, and 5K run.

One of the major differences of this triathlon from the others is its swim segment, which will be held at sports center’s pool as opposed to holding it in open waters.

“”We want to project that Sinulog is not only about arts, festivity, and our faith but it also values the sports scene in Cebu,” the chairman of Sinulog Foundation Ricky Ballesteros said during the press conference yesterday.

“With football, baseball and running in Sinulog, we think its time to have this triathlon event,” Ballesteros added.

He was joined by Cebu City Sports Commission chairman Ed Hayco, Cornerstone chairman Steve Maniquis; vice president Joaquin Moras, and technical race director Niño Abarquez.

“This triathlon race would not happen without the approval of the Mayor’s office and the City Council. We are very glad to be trusted with this race,” said Maniquis, who spearheaded the 8080 triathlon in Bogo and San Remigio.

The 750m swim will have three loops in the swimming pool and the participants will be sent in waves.

The run and bike segments will enjoy the benefit of a full road closure.

The bike will start at the transition area inside the CCSC, go to the seaside of SRP and return to CCSC. The run will be from CCSC going to Fuente Circle and Provincial Capitol before turning back to CCSC for the finish.

“It will be within Cebu City, you will get the chance to race in a place that we only drive to everyday. The last 400m of the run is exciting as it will be at the CCSC oval in front of all the spectators,” Moras said.

“We envisioned that one day, the CCT will be one of the biggest sprint race in the country, just like what happened to CCM. We will nurture this triathlon race the way that we nurtured CCM,” Hayco said.

The sprint race will have different categories—the men’s and women’s elite, and age groupers 15 to 19 years old, 20 to 24 years old, 25 to 29 years old, 30 to 34 years old, 35 to 39 years old, 40 to 44 years old, 45 to 49 years old, and 50 & above.

Huge prizes are dangled for the winners in the men’s and women’s elite with a total of P100,000 at stake. The men’s and women’s champions will receive P25,000, with the runners up getting P15,000 and P10,000, respectively.

Registration starts today at CCCS, 30 Kitchen + Bar at the Gallery Mabolo, and online registration at

City’s traffic system to get an upgrade

By Kristine B. Quintas/FPL (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City traffic signalization system along the non-Bus Rapid Transit route would be upgraded once the P150 million budget is approved by the council.

Cebu City Traffic Operations Management executive director Rafael Yap said 78 signal lights in different intersections will be prioritized. He said the installation and upgrading of the system will be done by phase, which will complement the BRT mass transport.

Yap said the amount covers the software, cables, signal lights, surveillance cameras, and other advanced equipment.

“This will address and improve the city’s traffic signalization system especially those intersections not covered in the BRT project,” he said adding that it can proceed independently with BRT.

Yap earlier said that the current system has been outdated for several years that it needs a total upgrade for a smooth flow of traffic.

In a resolution, the CITOM Board stressed the need to upgrade and update the “obsolete” system considering that the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System was acquired way back in 1991 or 23 years ago under the backing of the Metro Cebu Development Project-3.

Yap assured the City Council that the traffic signal lights along the BRT route will not be affected but will be upgraded instead.

The P10.6-billion BRT system that would be operational by 2017 covers 16 kilometers and will be built in two phases. The first phase will be from Bulacao to the Cebu Business District, with links to the malls Ayala Center and SM City Cebu while the second phase will be from Ayala Center to Talamban.

It will traverse from Bulacao in the South West to Talamban in the North East corridors using dedicated lanes and feeder routes, provide the crucial and key connections to and from the various points of the BRT stations, operating in mixed traffic.

In yesterday’s budget hearing, Yap said they are expecting to exceed this year’s target collection of P65 million as they are anticipating to collect P70 million at the end of the year.

CITOM’s proposed total allocation for next year was pegged at P357.81 million, which tripled this year’s P131.1 million and P129.9 million in 2013.

Yap said their budget increased because their department will be in full transition next year to City Transportation Office. But for purposes of branding, CITOM remains.

The proposed budget includes funds for personnel services (P124l.39 million), maintenance and other operating expenses (P42.66million), and capital Outlay at P190,750,000.

Apart from traffic signalization upgrade, part of the capital outlay would go to the development of CCTO’s impounding area at the South Road Properties amounting to P23 million.

The proposed capital outlay allocation likewise includes funds for the purchase of clamps (P7.25 million), traffic barriers (P5 million), and communication equipment (P3.5 million); fabrication of 3M pedestrian railings (P1 million); and feasibility design for the CITOM building (P1 million).

Part of the MOOE was also for the miscellaneous traffic management services cost (P13 million) and for maintenance of traffic lights system (P2.23 million).

BUILD BACK BETTER? P-Noy OKs construction of houses in protected areas - Lacson

Philippines News Agency

CEBU CITY -- President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved the construction of houses in protected areas like islands in northern Cebu that were affected by super typhoon Yolanda, said Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Office (PARRO) Panfilo Lacson.

The former senator said lawyer Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, the presidential legal counsel, is now studying the matter.

Lacson, however, made it clear that the process will take time.

“We will follow up. We cannot force the President. Kailangan pa talagang pag-aralan eh kasi maraming kailangang i-consider (This has to be studied because there are a lot to consider),” Lacson said.

Lacson was in Cebu Monday to attend the Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan Implementation and Monitoring and Validation forum at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and casino in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City.

The forum was attended by mayors of local government units hit by Yolanda.

Bantayan Island, for instance, has been declared a wilderness and protected area under Presidential Proclamation 2151.

Local officials there have asked Aquino to issue a declaration so that the area will become alienable and disposable and can be utilized as relocation sites.

Legal impediments in land acquisition

Lacson said most issues raised by the mayors focused on legal impediments in land acquisition since some of the identified suitable relocations sites for Yolanda survivors are covered only by tax declarations.

The Commission on Audit requires that land titles, rather than tax declarations, should be considered in purchasing areas to be developed as relocation sites.

Lacson said his office is also asking help from the Department of Justice in addressing the concern.

“There’s a strong legal opinion from DOJ na hindi pwedeng magtayo ng bahay kung di titled (that houses cannot be built on untitled lands). But we are now looking at some legal arguments to convince DOJ to relax somehow the strict enforcement of the no-title, no-housing policy. Baka pwedeng tax declaration pero merong minimum standards or requirements na na-fulfill like cadastral survey. Baka sakaling pumayag (Maybe a tax declaration with minimum standards or requirements like a cadastral survey is enough). We are forwarding it to DOJ to reconsider,” he added.

“We are setting up a mechanism dito sa Cebu so lahat ng mga issues doon na lang magko-converse (in Cebu so all the issues will be taken up there),” Lacson said.

Mango ghosts? Exorcists called in to deal with school spirit

Residents of a mountain barangay in Cebu City, in the Philippines, claim that 35 students at their public school were possessed by evil spirits.

According to the report the mother of two of the possessed pupils believes that spirits hit the school after it cut down two mango trees to make way for a two-story building according to local paper Sun Star Cebu.

The 35 students apparently collapsed and started convulsing on Thursday, as around 3 pm.

The school's teachers sought the help of local officials, who called in priests from the Mary Help of Christians Parish in Barangay Buhisan.

Reverend Nicolas Ramos responded by conducting a Catholic rite of exorcism.

Some of the pupils appeared to respond to the priest's prayers, four more started convulsing and screaming just before the school celebrated mass.

While locals believe that this was demonic possession, Cebu's archdiocese cations it may have just been mass hysteria.

Mass hysteria generally occurs in a way that mirrors a given group's concerns. For example a lot of current outbreaks tend to be based around fears of strange smells, food poisoning or allergies.

According to a paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry, religious mass hysteria was quite common during the renaissance, "between the 15th and 19th centuries, exceedingly strict Christian religious orders appeared in some European convents.

"Coupled with a popular belief in witches and demons, this situation triggered dozens of epidemic motor hysteria outbreaks among nuns, who were widely believed to have been demonically possessed."

The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has debriefed the teachers, teaching them what to do in case of another mass hysteria outbreak.

City starts cleaning playgrounds


THE Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission has started a greening and beautification program in the city in preparation for two major events-the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit next year and the International Eucharistic Congress in 2016.

Arleigh Gesta of the commission said they started the greening and beautification program last Nov. 3.

He said the commission has hired 36 new job-order (JO) personnel for the project, which will be in addition to the present 19 JOs they have.

Gesta said the commission is propagating plants on the sidewalks and center islands in the city’s major thoroughfares, as well as in Plaza Independencia.

The plaza will be the venue for the opening of the IEC. The event is expected to gather 25,000 people.

The plants they are putting, he said, are coming from the City Government-owned and operated nursery in Oppra, Barangay Kalunasan.

Gesta also said they are maintaining other plazas and parks in the city to make sure they are well kept for the two events.

Gesta said they will prune the trees in the sidewalks and center islands to avoid accidents.

Gesta said each of the JO’s they have hired is paid by the City at P320 per day for 22 days.

Their contract, he said, only covers the period until December. The City has set aside P506,880 for the salaries of the additional 36 JO’s.

Gesta said the commission has included another budget to cover the JO’s salaries under the executive department’s proposed P18.9 billion budget for next year.

City Council seeks review of evacuation policy

By Razel V. Cuizon

THE Cebu City Council wants the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CCDRRMC) to check the proposed legislation that seeks to prescribe the guidelines on forced evacuation as a final resort when a disaster or emergency takes place.

During the council’s regular session last week, Councilor Dave Tumulak said there is a need for the proposed ordinance to be referred to the disaster office of the city because not all 80 barangays have identified evacuation centers in their area.

Under the proposed ordinance, CCDRRMC will recommend to the mayor to declare forced evacuation during a disaster or emergency.

The proposed measure requires the establishment of evacuation centers or any place where the displaced families can stay.

It also requires City-owned vehicles to be on standby to transport residents to their evacuation centers and establish measures that will ensure their safety.

“Immediately after the declaration of forced evacuation but before the actual enforcement thereof, the City Government shall see to it that the local residents are informed, in a manner and language that they can understand, of the need for them to evacuate,” the proposed ordinance read.

During emergency situations, the City will be working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penelogy.

Those who will refuse the evacuation or those who will go back to their areas without a go signal from the authorities, the City, along with the said agencies, will use reasonable force to evacuate them.

The mayor, being the local chief executive, is the only person authorized by the proposed ordinance to issue an order allowing the residents to return to their homes upon the recommendation of CCDRRMC.

SALI KAMI / Mayor Rama appeals for Cebu's inclusion in Pope Francis' visit next year

By Philippines News Agency

CEBU CITY -- Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is still appealing to the Vatican to include Cebu City in Pope Francis’ itinerary in his visit to Manila and super typhoon Yolanda-stricken areas in January next year.

The Pope’s final schedule which was released last week showed he would not be visiting Cebu.

“I am asking KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas), media, to be one in this appeal, also our bloggers in whatever way to connect directly to Vatican, chat, or whatever for Cebu to be included in the Pope’s itinerary,” Rama said.

Rama said he was dismayed upon learning that Cebu is not part of the Pope’s itinerary considering that Cebu City was also hit by calamities.

Among the disasters was the 7.2-magnitude earthquake last year.

“I am a little bit saddened by the news,” he said.

Rama said he is also wishing the Cebu provincial government will call for the change of the Pope’s schedule.

He said northern Cebu was also severely hit by the typhoon.

Among the places which will be visited by the Pope are Tacloban City and Palo, both in Leyte, and Manila.

Based on earlier reports, Basilica rector Fr. Jonas Mejares said he is disappointed with the itinerary.

“Human as I am, I am disappointed. Being the rector of the cradle of Christianity, I can’t help but be dismayed. But if you look at the bigger picture, there must be a reason why this happened,” he said.

Mejares said he is still hopeful that the Pope will reconsider visiting Cebu.

Monsignor Joseph Tan, Cebu archdiocese head of social communication, said the faithful should still be grateful that the Pope is visiting the country.

Miss Earth top picks


TOP PICKS – Highspeed’s beauty expert, Jay P. Delgado, reports on the upcoming Miss Earth pageant.

After 14 years since its inauguration in 2001, the Miss Earth Pageant has, more than ever, continued to set the standards for beauty and responsibility where its delegates vigorously and effectively campaign for environmental awareness and protection.

This year, 87 delegates from all over the world have converged in Manila to vie for the coveted crown currently held by Venezuela’s Alyz Henrich. Who among the environment-savvy delegates will emerge as champion and ambassador for Mother Earth? Here are Highspeed’s top picks:

Miss Philippines Jamie Herrell, 21, a 5’7” dance choreographer from Cebu City who is hoping to become the country’s second Miss Earth after Karla Henry (who is also Cebuana) who won in 2008. Miss Spain Zaira Bas Gomis, 22, a 5’9” Advertising and Public Relations student in Madrid. A resident of Valencia, Zaira is gunning for her country’s first Miss Earth title after two runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2009. Miss Venezuela Maira Alexandra Rodriguez, 22, a 5’9” Public Relations graduate and fashion model-designer from Maracay, Aragua. Maira is eyeing an unprecendent back-to-back victory for her country in the pageant. Miss Brazil Leticia Ramos, 23, a 5’11” model and Nursing student from Cascavel, Paraná. Leticia is gunning for Brazil’s third Miss Earth title after Priscilla Meirelles (2004) and Larissa Ramos (2009). Other possible contenders for the coveted crown are: Laetizia Penmellen of France, Alankrita Sahai of India, Franceska Toro of Puerto Rico, and Shayade Hug of Switzerland.

Carousel Productions Inc., the outfit that runs the Miss Earth Pageant, and ABS-CBN promise a spectacular coronation night at the all-new UP Theater in Diliman, Quezon City on Nov. 29. The pageant will be aired live by Starworld, and on ABS-CBN on Nov. 30 at 10 a.m. before “ASAP Live.”

2 killed in Cebu shootout

By Mars W. Mosqueda, Jr.

CEBU CITY – Two persons with alleged criminal backgrounds were killed in a shootout with policemen following an early dawn chase after they tried to skip a checkpoint in the city yesterday. Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Noli Romana confirmed that the two fatalities, identified only as alias Saddam and alias Jay-R, had criminal records in Mandaue City. The real identities of the fatalities have not been disclosed as of presstime yesterday. Another person, believed to be a companion of the two, survived the shootout with a gunshot wound in the leg. He was identified as Joseph Cueva. Romana said the city’s police were conducting a checkpoint along Leon Kilat and N. Bacalso Streets at past 1 a.m. on Tuesday as part of the CCPO’s efforts to combat the series of robberies in the city. The two suspected criminals, who were onboard a motorcycle, and Cueva, who was driving another motorcycle, were seen trying to skip the checkpoint by veering away from the cops and moving towards the South Road Properties. The police, however, gave chase until a shootout allegedly occurred, resulting in the death of the two. Cueva gave up and was arrested. Romana said the two fatalities, who were residents of Mandaue City, have been confirmed by the Mandaue City Police Office as having criminal records in the city. The authorities seized .38 revolvers and a .22 magnum revolver from the suspects after the shootout. (Mars W. Mosqueda, Jr.)

Direct flights from Cebu to Xiamen pushed

By Glenda B. Tapang, USJ-R /LPM (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Rama said he is amenable to the suggestion of Philippine consulate general to Xiamen Julius Caesar A. Flores for the need to open direct flights to Xiamen, China from Cebu next year.

Rama promised that he would make a representation to Philippine Airlines to open new flights from Cebu to Xiamen and vice versa.

Flores’ suggestion came after the familiarization tour of media personalities from Xiamen in Manila and Cebu since last week.

Flores said the familiarization tour is one way to promote the city to Xiamen.

“I hope that next year we can bring flights from Xiamen to Cebu that can bring in not just trade and business but also tourists which is an important matter,” Flores said.

The Xiamen journalists who were part of the tour also took part in promoting Cebu through social networking sites, Flores said.

“Since the day we arrived in the Philippines, the bloggers keep posting on their experiences and these bloggers have a thousand of followers, he said.

Rama is hopeful that the visit can attract more Xiamen residents to visit Cebu. He considered it as “a successful interaction” to have members of the Xiamen media come to Cebu.

“Precisely, this will give meaning more to our sister city pact with Xiamen” he said.

Rama also took note of the importance of the Chinese community in the Philippines as the Chinese are a part of the Philippine history.

Flores also suggested that Cebuanos, cultural groups and the media should visit Xiamen.

Xiamen, located in the southeast coast of China, is a tourist city of Fujian Province. It is famous for its attractive seascape.

On March 29 this year, Rama flew to Xiamen to renew the sisterhood ties between the Chinese city and Cebu City following 30 years of cooperation.

Xiamen has been helping the city of Cebu, the latest of which was the P600,000 cash donation for the construction of a new Cebu City Medical Center.

The participants of the tour included China Daily–Fuzhou bloggers Hu Meidong and Yang Jie; Xiamen C&D travel agent Lin Xin; XTG travel agent Ni Sijia; Fujian CITS Travel Agent Li Yahui; representatives from Yang Feng and Huang Yijuan; from Xiamen Music Radio Hong Yan; from Xiamen Straits Magazine Lin Jianglin; PAL Xiamen Manager Joel Tiongson; interpreter Gerard Ryan Chan; consulate general Flores; and tourism promotions board coordinator Renato Panay.

P1.8M to clean Kawit sea


THE Cebu City Bantay Dagay Commission will be spending P1.8 million to clear of garbage the underwater area of Kawit Island at the South Road Properties (SRP).

This, after it was learned from a recent survey from a group of Japanese volunteer divers, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the maritime police that the garbage in the seabed had reached 15 feet and is already covering the corals. Some fish have also been trapped inside plastic bags.

These garbage—coming from the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay—have been washed into the SRP.

In a recent regular session, the City Council passed Councilor Nida Cabrera’s resolution approving the Bantay Dagat’s clean-up operation dubbed as “Scubasurero.”

The P1.8 million needed for the project, which will be conducted from November to December, will be used to hire 50 job order (JO) personnel and to buy tools and equipment.

Under the project proposal submitted by the Bantay Dagay, the JO’s that will be hired will be the fisherfolks in the city’s coastal villages.

As part of the project, the fisherfolks will also be trained on how to better manage and care for the sea.

Bantay Dagat’s clean-up will be conducted with the DENR and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The Bantay Dagat said the commission, together with the DENR and BFAR, will conduct a survey to validate the areas intended for the Scubasurero project.

The fund needed for the project will be charged to the City Government’s P243.7 million approved supplemental budget for this year.

PARA SA MGA ELDERLY / Cebu City sets aside P55M for burial benefits, P720M cash aid to seniors

By InterAksyon

CEBU CITY -- The Cebu City Council plans to increase the allocation for burial assistance and cash aid for the elderly next year.

The executive branch of the city government proposed P55 million for the burial assistance program and P720 million for the aid to senior citizens.

But some councilors said the allocation, which is part of the proposed P18.9-billion 2015 annual budget, may not be enough as some beneficiaries of the programs have yet to receive their assistance from previous years.

The city’s burial assistance office chief Ben Baculi said the P55 million is meant to cover future beneficiaries as well as those from 2013 and 2014.

The city’s obligation to those who lost loved ones in 2013 and 2014 reached P32 million.

The city’s burial assistance include cash aid of P10,000 and P8,000 worth of funeral services, which includes the cost of the coffin.

The P720 million will cover the cash aid for 57,000 senior citizens at P12,000 each.

Cebu City Councilor Margarita Osmeña said the Office of the Senior Citizens’ Affairs reported that about 6,000 elderly are still waiting for their assistance this year.

Councilor Lea Japson said some senior citizens also did not receive assistance last year.

Councilor Gerardo Carillo said the allocation should cover pending assistance so that the backlog would not expand further.

Baculi said he only requested for a small budget because he thought it would be approved more readily.

He recalled that he asked for P45 million for this year but the council only approved P30 million.

NGO bags int’l award for donating bicycles


A NON-government organization based in Cebu City received last Monday the Green Apple Environment Award for donating environment-friendly transport solutions to school children with special needs in Camotes, Cebu.

The Kindred Nomads Project (now known as Kindred Nomads Philippines Inc.) bagged the bronze award for the Asia section for its “Pedal to School” undertaking in 2013.

In “Pedal to School,” Kindred Nomads purchased 16 broken-down bicycles with sidecars (trisikad) in Cebu City and repaired, and restored these. These were then shipped to San Francisco in Camotes Island and distributed to the families of 16 children with special needs.

The trisikads serve as transportation of the children to and from school.

Beneficiary children suffer from sight or hearing impairments, autism, polio, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome.

Kindred Nomads chose to give trisikads because these do not need fuel and generate harmful emissions.

“The trisikad fits with the natural harmony of the island,” Kindred Nomads said in a statement.

Funds used for the Pedal to School project came from donations and pledges from friends and families of Kindred Nomads.

The Green Apple Environment Award is an international campaign to find the world’s greenest companies, councils and communities.

Kindred Nomads competed against more than 500 nominations for the Environmental Best Practice category.

Aside from the award, the Pedal to School project will be included in “The Green Book,” a compilation of environmental best practices.

The Green Apple Awards began in 1994 in the United Kingdom. It is organized the Green Organization, an independent, non-political, non-activist, non-profit environmental group that aims to recognize and promote environmental best practice around the world.

The Green Apple Awards are supported by the Environment Agency, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Chartered Institution for Wastes Management and other independent bodies. (PR)

City to recall P2T

By Jill Tatoy-Rabor and Razel V. Cuizon

CLOSE to 1,000 Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) policemen stand to lose their P2,000 monthly allowance from the Cebu City Government if robberies continue to occur in the city.

They will also be removed from CCPO if crimes happen three consecutive times in their area of responsibility and if they fail to solve the crimes.

This is the new policy of Mayor Michael Rama after he sat down with CCPO Director Noli Romana and all station commanders in an emergency meeting last Wednesday.

Rama is also implementing the “three strike” policy, which means the same crime should not happen three consecutive times in one area.

Rama said the police officials agreed to the conditions he set, which they themselves suggested during the meeting.

Rama called for an emergency meeting in the wake of robberies involving money transfer firms, gas stations and convenience stores in the city in the past weeks.

The series of robberies is a big challenge for the police, he said.

The police have yet to identify the persons or group behind the robberies.

“I am proud of my local police force because they are too clear in their drug advocacy and illegal gambling. Now they have to be vigilant and focus on the petty crimes or those that are given prominence in the newspaper,” he added.

A police officer assigned in all police stations and units under CCPO receive P2,000 a month from City Hall.

During the meeting, Rama, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, Romana and the station commanders signed an agreement to show that they are serious in solving the crimes against property hitting the city.

Labella is also the presiding officer of the City’s Police Coordinating and Advisory Council.

Rama told the station commanders to secure their areas of responsibility because three successive robbery incidents in their area can cost them their assignment in Cebu City.

“There will be no reshuffle. Those assigned in the police station where the crime was committed will be removed. They will be out of Cebu City and the regional office has to handle them,” he said.

Asked to comment on the mayor’s policy, Romana said he welcomes it.

“We don’t want another incident to happen in the city anymore that is why we made a commitment to the mayor and to the city,” he said.

Romana suspects that the spate of robberies could be a form of sabotage to derail police operations against illegal drugs.

“I don’t believe that this is just robbery alone because the target is small, there might be something behind it,” he said.

When asked if he believes the robberies are part of a sabotage, Rama said that all possibilities have to be considered.

For his part, Labella said it is likely that the robberies are part of propaganda to embarrass the police, particularly the chief, and the City Government.

“Professional robbers would go for big businesses and now we are wondering why they concentrate on small businesses,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Fuente Police Station has identified the two men who allegedly robbed a convenience store on Gorordo Ave., Cebu City last Wednesday dawn.

As seen in the footages from the store’s security camera, the two men appear to be in their 20s and are of medium build. Both were wearing black shirts.

Only the robbers’ nose, chin and cheeks were clearly seen in the footage.

Fuente Police Chief Insp. Wildemar Tiu said they are now identifying the men and are working with the Theft and Robbery Section to trace their location.

Tiu said the suspects are local boys.

The police are also trying to find out if the two robbers were also responsible for other robberies in the city.

Tiu said a reward will be given to those who can help the police locate the suspects.

At around 3 a.m. last Wednesday, the two men allegedly robbed the Florence convenience store, located just a few meters from the Cebu City Police Office.

The robbers took some P5,000 cash from the two employees. There were no other customers in the store at the time of the robbery.

The store had no security guard but was equipped with a CCTV camera, which helped the police identify the robbers.

Robbers pull off heist just meters from Cebu police hq

By Joel Locsin

Robbers in Cebu City struck before dawn Wednesday - at a convenience store mere meters away from the Cebu City police office headquarters.

Two men wearing helmets entered the store and one of them approached the cashier and declared the holdup, GMA Cebu's Vic Serna reported.

The men then took P5,000, as well as six mobile phones of the store owner and employees, the report said.

Police are checking the closed-circuit television footage of the store.

However, the police said they could not immediately identify the suspects since they were wearing helmets. — Joel Locsin/ELR, GMA News

PCAC urges council to OK intel funds

By Justin K. Vestil and Linette Ramos Cantalejo

ON MASS motion, the Cebu City Police Coordinating and Advisory Council (PCAC) approved yesterday a resolution asking the City Council to comply with the order prescribing the amount for the City’s intelligence fund.

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, also the presiding officer of PCAC, said the City Government needs the P25-million intelligence fund that the executive department proposed in the 2015 budget.

The amount will be used for intelligence operations in preparation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit next year and the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in 2016, among other things, he said.

DILG circular

The PCAC is referring to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) circular, which states that a local government unit (LGU) may appropriate annually for intelligence or confidential undertakings 30 percent of the total amount allocated for peace and order programs, or three percent of the total annual appropriations, whichever is lower.

“We are asking the City Council, especially that we are now tackling the budget, to observe the directive of DILG in so far as the intelligence funds are concerned… The PCAC urged the council to do so because intelligence is very important, aside from police visibility,” Labella told reporters yesterday.

In a press conference after the PCAC meeting yesterday, he said that at least 40,000 people are expected to attend the IEC, including Vatican officials. As for the Apec Summit, foreign ministers are expected to attend meetings in Cebu.

Labella said the City needs to strengthen its intelligence in preparation for both events.

The intelligence fund being proposed is below 30 percent of the proposed P628.8-million allocation for peace and order programs, which is P188 million. The executive branch has proposed an annual budget of P18.9 billion for 2015.

The DILG circular states that the intelligence fund can be used for purchase of information, payment of rewards, rental and other incidental expenses for the maintenance of safehouses, purchase of supplies and ammunitions, provision of medical and food aid, as well as payment of incentives or traveling expenses relative to the conduct of intelligence or confidential operations.


Meanwhile, Labella also urged barangay officials to attend the 1st Cebu City Crime Prevention Summit tomorrow and Friday so they will learn how to improve intelligence gathering.

The activity, which carries the theme “Combating Crime, Defying Drugs: A community responsibility,” will teach barangay officials their role and responsibilities during drug operations.

Labella said this will prevent incidents where barangay officials are accused of being remiss in their duties in the campaign against illegal drugs.

In another development, Talisay City Mayor Johnny de los Reyes urged all barangay officials in the city to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to avoid any legal tussles.

De los Reyes made the comment following the arrest and subsequent filing of charges against Barangay Bulacao Captain Raul Cabañero earlier this week.

“Kana si Raul (Cabañero), kung ni-witness lang siya, dili unta siya madakpan.

Obligasyon man unta na niya (He should have served as a witness rather than be arrested. It was his obligation),” de los Reyes told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

Alayon ally

Cabañero, who is also president of Talisay City’s Association of Barangay Councils (ABC), was taken into custody after he refused to cooperate with operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation 7 in an inventory of illegal drugs seized from three suspected pushers in Barangay Bulacao.

Cabañero was caught allegedly playing mahjong 100 meters from the barangay hall.

The mayor said that even though Cabañero has been charged, he will await the decision of the City Council on what sanctions it plans to impose on him.

Vice Mayor Romeo Villarante told reporters that he and his colleagues already discussed the matter.

Cabañero, an ex-officio member of the City Council, is a member of the majority opposition bloc Alayon Party.

Villarante said that it will be up to Cabañero’s colleagues in the party on whether they will discipline him or not.

Villarante, a lawyer, said Cabañero’s actions will serve as grounds for his dismissal for administrative sanctions.

In a 24 Oras Central Visayas report yesterday, Atty. Elias Fernandez, Department of Interior and Local Government 7 assistant director, said Cabañero may be dismissed from public office if he is found guilty.

He also urged public officials to observe the law.

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