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Zamboanga City News December 2012

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Hospital on ‘White Alert’ for New Year

By Bong Garcia

GOVERNMENT-OWNED Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) has been placed on “White Alert” to attend to emergency cases specifically to victims of firecracker-related incidents during the New Year’s Eve revelry.

ZCMC Chief of Hospitals Dr. Romeo Ong said the declaration of White Alert means all hospital staffs are on call and with ready medical supplies.

“In Code White Alert status including those who are off duty can be called anytime to report for duty,” Ong explained.

Among the medical supplies that were prepared include intravenous fluids, anti-tetanus vaccines, antibiotics pain relievers, paracetamol, dressing sets, which are commonly needed in attending to firecracker-related victims, Ong said.

The ZCMC has already recorded nine victims of firecracker-related incidents since December 21 until Thursday.

The victims, 90 percent of whom were children below 10 years old, were given anti-tetanus and antibiotics after properly cleaning and dressing their injuries.

Ong said they are also ready to attend to other medical cases like hypertension and to pregnant women who are to give birth on New Year’s Eve aside from firecracker-related victims.

Meanwhile, Ong advised the public, especially the children, to refrain from exploding firecrackers in welcoming the New Year.

They can instead use other gadgets which are safe to use to make noise during the New Year’s Eve revelry, Ong said.

SBATTF Members recognized at the International Day of Trafficking Commemoration Ceremony


Thirteen members of the Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force (SBATTF) were commended by the Inter Agency against Trafficking (IACAT) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) last December 12, for their relentless drive against trafficking.

The event, held at Sofitel Hotel in Pasay was the annual commemoration of the International Day of Trafficking which is being observed every 12th of December. Vice President Jejomar Binay and Department of Labor And Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz were the guests of honor.

All 13 awardees, who flew from Zamboanga City unaware of their role in the event, are Prosecutors Atty. Darlene R. Pajarito, Atty. Ivy Damayo-Elvina, Atty. Aureen M. Deles (all of DOJ-ZC), DSWD Social Worker Ma. Socorro Rojas, NBI Agent Ivan Peralta, Sitti Muksan (CIDG), Major Alex Lorenzo ( PCTC), Jackie Repadas of Visayan Forum, Ester Magtangob (CSWD-ZC), Lt. Cmdr. Eliezer Dalnay (Phil. CoastGuard) PO2 Carlo Cardenas (NISG, Phil. Navy), Adamson Clavecillas (PPA Port Police) and Maria Natty Mariano (PPA).

The said Task Force executes rescue and interception of trafficking cases which are deemed rampant in Region 9 considering that Zamboanga City is a gateway to other neighboring countries through the vessels that plies the Zamboanga-Malaysia routes weekly.

Among the TASK FORCES in the country, SBATTF ranks first in terms of performance. Its best practices include profiling of activities at the local wharf and regular interception and monitoring rounds at the local air and sea ports. Members also engage in interception and rescue operations whenever information of illegally trafficked persons are relayed to them.

The SBATTF in coordination with RIACAT 9’s efforts contributed much to the removal of Philippines from the US’s Tier 2 watchlist and upgraded to a Tier 2 status. The rescue operations, apprehension of illegal traffickers and expedition of cases by the DOJ in Region 9 resulted to 6 convictions.

Last year, various commendations were also received by the Task Force. No less than U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during the presentation of the 2011 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons held in Washington, DC cited the Philippines’ increased prosecution of traffickers and addressing corruption in trafficking-related cases. During the presentation, Secretary Clinton presented Zamboanga City Prosecutor Darlene Pajarito with the State Department’s Global Trafficking in Persons’ Hero Award.

Just recently, DSWD 9 Director Zenaida Arevalo presented good practices of the region/RIACAT during the ASEAN Convention on Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) held in Manila.

FESAGS destroys P700,000 worth of firecrackers in Zambo City


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 29 (PNA) -- The office of the Firearms, Explosives, Security Agencies and Guard Section-9 has destroyed some P 700,000 worth of firecrackers in this southern port city, a top FESAGS official announced.

FESAGS-9 commander Chief Insp. Mark Azur said the destroyed firecrackers, comprising more than 100 boxes, were confiscated in the different parts of the region.

Azur said 60 of the more than 100 boxes of firecrackers were confiscated from two business establishments in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur during an inspection.

They confiscated the firecrackers after the owners of the business establishments failed to show a permit from FESAGS except for a business permit from the local government, Azur said.

A firecracker dealer is required to secure a permit from Camp Crame while retailers from the regional police command before they could engage into the business of firecrackers, he said.

Some of the firecrackers packed in boxes were confiscated by the Zamboanga Coast Guard Station aboard passenger-cargo ferries at the port of Zamboanga, he said.

The firecrackers, destroyed Thursday, were placed on a pit they have digged at this city’s dumpsite in Barangay Lumbangan, 8.8 kms east of this city, before it was set ablaze, he said.

Fire department targets zero fire incident on yearend

By R.G. A A. Go

The Zamboanga City Fire District (ZCFD) is stepping up their information campaign targeting zero conflagration during the entry of 2013.

District Fire Marshall F/Supt. Dominador Zabala Jr., said in an interview, “Ta roga kame pacifico el diatun entrada de nuevo anio y nohay quema, zero conflagration.”

The National BFP instructed the conduct of “Oplan Paalala and Oplan Iwas Paputok” where fire safety and awareness campaign is included.

The firemen will conduct rounds especially on the 31st od December to give fire safety tips on how to avoid fire this coming New Year.

Aside from this all firemen were also instructed to report to office on the 31st of this month since the bureau is on heightened alert.

Acording to Zabala, the city has 22 fire trucks and all of these are operational.

Some of the fire safety tips the bureau is giving to the public include the safe storage of firecrackers, not to let children play with firecrackers, do not smoke especially near stores selling firecrackers, use firecrackers in open area far from houses and do not store firecrackers near combustible materials.

On sky lanterns, which is one of the trends today, he advised the public to only use them in open space far from residential areas.

The Zamboanga City Fire District at present has seven fire stations located in Sta. Maria, Tetuan, Ayala, Manicahan, Quiniput, Vitali, and the City Fire Station. Aside from these, they also have seven fire sub-stations in Guiwan, Boalan, Sta. Catalina, Upper Calarian, Recodo, Talisayan, Mercedes.

ZCMC on "Code White Alert" for New Year's firecracker victims

By R.G. A A. Go

The Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) gears up to go on "Code White Alert" as it expects the influx of victims of the firecrackers-related incidents especially during New Year's Eve revelry and after celebrations.

ZCMC Chief of Hospitals, Dr. Romeo Ong said: “Code White Alert means on call el maga staff. Those who are not on duty can be called anytime at the same time, ready el supplies and everything that we need.”

The declaration of Code White Alert means that hospital staff, doctors, including supplies are ready for any eventualities.

The hospital already have their supplies ready to include intravenous fluids, pain relievers, paracetamol, antibiotics, dressing sets and Anti-Tetanus vaccines.

Aside from this, doctors and nurses from different departments especially surgery will be on standby to receive patients and referrals.

Most of the time, the hospital is attending to firecracker victims on New Year eve and New Years day. The hospital is also ready to cater to other medical cases such as hypertension, other illnesses, and pregnant women who are expected to give birth, according to Dr. Ong.

He said that since they started monitoring last December 21 the hospital already received seven cases of firecracker-related injuries and 90% of these victims were children, below 10 years old.

The DOH IX is managing a total of seven hospitals region wide. For Zamboanga City, DOH is managing three hospitals the Labuan Hospital, Mindanao Central Sanitarium, and the Zamboanga City Medical Center.

Beng’s contribution in sin tax law lauded

By Marvin Segura

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima personally thanked House Deputy Speaker Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco for her contributions in the passage of the 2012 Sin Tax Reform Law.

This, as President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday signed into law Republic Act 10351 or An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace.

The lady legislator from Zamboanga co-authored the House version – House Bill 5727 principally authored by former Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya. In the crucial voting in the committee level, Climaco supported the bill with her affirmative vote. “We responded to the need of pushing for a measure preventing cancer and ill-effects of smoking and alcohol,” Climaco said.

Leaders of civil society organizations together with the young people who worked hard for the bill’s passage cited Climaco’s contributions. Climaco worked closely with Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona and cancer prevention advocates like Zamboangueño and Philippine General Hospital head Dr. Jose Gonzalez. Climaco is the principal author of House Bill 5368 that seeks the establishment of a National Cancer Institute of the Philippines that would address the needs of those who cannot afford treatment for cancer.

The House Bill 5727 as amended was passed by the House of Representatives last June 6, 2012, while Senate Bill 3299 as amended was passed by the Senate last November 20, 2012. The bicameral conference committee report reconciling the two bills was ratified by both Houses of Congress last December 11, 2012.

Climaco joined some members of Congress who witnessed the signing together with representatives from Department of Health, Department of Finance, World Health Organization, the USAID, the World Bank, health advocates, medical organizations, academe, supporters from the civil society, industry and business sectors.

“We thank President Aquino for certifying the measure as urgent in order to ensure its speedy passage. The additional revenues that will be collected from the sin tax reform law will help our government in the realization of the universal health care program, and in pursuing programs that will provide PhilHealth insurance to the poorest Filipinos,” Climaco stressed.

In a press statement, the Palace said that the enactment of the law is a victory in the government’s campaign to protect the people. Republic Act 10351 is expected to generate more revenues for the government. On the first year of implementation, the government is expected to raise additional revenues worth P33.96 billion, of which, P23.4 billion is from cigarettes, P6.06 billion from distilled spirits and P4.5 billion from fermented liquors.

After deducting the allocations for assistance to tobacco farmers under existing laws R.A. 7171 and R.A. 8240, eighty percent (80%) of the remaining balance of the incremental revenue will be earmarked for the universal health care under the National Health Insurance Program and twenty percent (20%) will be allocated nationwide for medical assistance and health enhancement facilities program

“We join President Aquino in his proclamation that this is indeed an early Christmas gift to the Filipino people. We extend our congratulations to Congressman Isidro Ungab who defended the bill together with authors Congresswoman Henedina Abad and Sec. Abaya - the original author where the bill was patterned,” Climaco added.

Full probe ordered on Zambo policeman's shooting

(Philippines News Agency)

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Zamboanga City police officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo has ordered a thorough probe of the shooting of a policeman in this southern port city.

De Ocampo’s order came after a lone gunman shot and critically wounded a policeman in this city’s waterfront public market Sunday.

De Ocampo identified the victim as Police Officer 3 Michael Mohammad, a resident of Guiwan village here.

Mohammad is assigned with the Patrol Section of the Zamboanga City Police Office and detailed as security escort of Superintendent Allan Nazarro, the former police chief of Isabela City, Basilan province, De Ocampo said.

DOH intensifies ‘APIR’ campaign in Region 9


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 24 (PNA) -– The Department of Health (DOH) has intensified its campaign “APIR” in a bid to reduce firecracker-related injuries here in Region 9.

APIR stands for Aksyon Paputok Injury Reduction drive.

Regional Health Education and Promotion Officer Nida Astillero said they have started the campaign at the school level specifically targeting children from Grades 1-4.

“These grades were chosen because mostly affected of firecracker-related injuries were children aged from six to 10 years old,” Astillero said.

She said that there were 65 firecracker-related injuries in Region 9 during the entry of 2012.

Forty-seven of the 65 are from Zamboanga City to include three victims of stray bullets, she added.

Because of this, the DOH is advising the public not to allow their children to use fireworks and keep them away from exploding fireworks, Astillero said.

The DOH is also advising the public, especially the children, to refrain from picking-up unexploded firecrackers and to seek immediate medical treatment once injured by firecracker explosion, she added.

Police double up efforts to ensure peaceful, orderly Xmas celebration

By Dan Toribio Jr.

OIC-City Police Director Sr. Supt. Edwin De Ocampo is optimistic that the local police force can maintain a favorable peace and order situation during the entire yuletide season and beyond.

De Ocampo said they have concentrated on the deployment of policemen in crowded places like the different department stores, churches, the bus terminal in Guiwan and other strategic places.

Policemen in PNP uniform and plainclothes have been deployed in the city’s commercial zones, inside department stores and right on the streets.

De Ocampo said that one of their objectives is to prevent lawless people from staging atrocities and to run after pickpockets who victimize shoppers.

Policewomen were pulled out from offices and were fielded in streets and business establishments to augment the existing field force..

Last Friday, 100 policemen from the Police Regional Office were fielded to help those from the city police office to ensure that the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations will be peaceful and unperturbed by any untoward incident.

Some of the policemen were deployed in the different intersections to help those who are regularly managing the traffic flows.

Men of the Zamboanga City Public Safety Company under Supt. William Gadayan were also assigned in their respective areas of responsibility to help bring peace in the city.

The Bomb Squad and SWAT are on alert and ready to respond to any eventuality.

100 policemen dispatched to secure city during Christmas

By Eugene A. Lasprilla

One hundred policemen were dispatched yesterday by the local police office to augment the security forces in the downtown area this holiday season.

The officer in-charge of the Zamboanga City Police Office Sr. Supt. Edwin de Ocampo said personnel of Labuan Police Station led by Chief Inspector Roberto Marcos, who just graduated from refresher training, together with rookie policemen and women were tasked to impose order at the heart of the city.

De Ocampo said about 28 posts or beats, especially the isolated and underutilized streets where we see less people passing through became the hangouts of the criminals.

“We have to fill the areas where we can’t see visible policemen and make sure that these places are now being manned by these augmented forces,” De Ocampo said.

De Ocampo also directed the policemen to troubleshoot any problem in the area especially the traffic problem during the peak hours in the afternoon and “be a jack of all trade” in order to assure tranquillity.

He directed his deputy for administration Supt. Diomarie Albarico and deputy for operations Supt. Concordio Apolonio to supervise the activity.

City Government rehabs Red Cross Youth Hostel

By Bong Garcia

THE City Government through Mayor Celso Lobregat has earmarked P1.4 million for the repair and improvement of the Red Cross Youth Hostel, which serves its clients in Zamboanga City.

The rehabilitated and improved hostel was formally turned over on Monday by Lobregat together with Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde and some members of the City Council to the Red Cross Zamboanga Chapter headed by board chairperson Dr. Mila Fernandez and Red Cross-Zamboanga City Chapter Administrator Victor Liozo Jr.

It was learned that last May 25, Lobregat, who is a Red Cross governor, spearheaded the turnover of the P6.7 million expanded and renovated blood bank.

“These are improvements that the City Government has done for the Red Cross. We are doing this for all the citizens of Zamboanga City as well as from the other provinces who come here for the services of the Red Cross,” Lobregat said.

The Red Cross Youth Hostel was one of the first infrastructure projects of the late Mayor Maria Clara Lobregat with a cost of P8 million.

It was inaugurated and turned over on February 5, 2000.

After 12 years, based on request of the Red Cross-Zamboanga Chapter Liozo, the City Government undertook the renovation of the hostel to make it more suitable to the needs of the Red Cross and the clients.

From the previous two rooms -- one for females and the other for males -- the hostel’s second floor now houses six rooms: three for males and three for females.

“The magnanimity and generosity of the City Government to the Red Cross is really something to be proud of,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez urged Red Cross volunteers and staff to “always remember that good governance is the most important ingredient if you want to have a good leader. And so in the forthcoming elections, reflect upon the people who really help us, those who help others should be rewarded.”

As volunteers, Fernandez said, the board of directors of the Red Cross are very happy that there is a City Government that is willing to help the Red Cross.

“If it is not helping, we will be having a hard time, because there is a government that is willing to help, it makes our task easy,” she added.

City gov’t turns over new school building in Luyahan

By R.G. Antonet Go

The City Government of Zamboanga under the leadership of Mayor Celso Lobregat inaugurated a two-storey six classroom building last Tuesday afternoon at Luyahan Elementary School.

The newly inaugurated two storey six classroom building worth P5.6 Million was completed by NLL Construction.

The said school building was built and funded solely by the local government of Zamboanga City.

In an earlier interview, Lobregat said the city government already completed 923 classrooms from 2007 to June 30, 2012 worth P809 Million while they repaired 892 classrooms worth P163 Million.

Present during the inauguration were Schools Division Superintendent Pedro Melchor Natividad, City Councilors, City Engineer Luis Despalo, School Principal Jeremy Piedad, barangay chairman Efijemio Julian Jr., and other guests.

Every year, the city government is concentrating on how to help the education sector by constructing new classrooms, renovating school buildings, and even hiring locally paid school board teachers.

City grants loan to 42 indigent families

By Bong Garcia

THE local government pursues the granting of Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) loans to help indigent but deserving families sustain small business ventures.

The latest beneficiaries are 42 indigent-families who received on Tuesday their checks ranging from P3,000 to P5,000 per beneficiary.

The financial assistance released on Tuesday by the City Government of Zamboanga totalled to P146,000.

Of the total number of recipients, 32 are from the Vitali District, four from the Tetuan District and six from the Ayala District.

The beneficiaries were identified by the City Social Welfare and Development Office and they have agreed, through a contract, to pay the back the amount to the City Government in various installments with no interest for a period of one to two years.

The payment policy will pave the way for other deserving families to also avail of the loans.

The recipients, who received their checks on Tuesday, will use the money for various buy-and-sell activities for charcoal, banana, rice, corn, fresh fish, crabs and shrimps including sari-sari store.

Mayor Celso Lobregat, meanwhile, advised the beneficiaries to use the money in the proper way.

Zambo City gov’t, water firm ink MOA for P98.7-M barangay water system projects


ZAMBONGA CITY, Dec. 18 (PNA) -- The city government and the Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD) has forged a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the implementation of eight water system projects worth P98.7 million.

The water system projects with the corresponding amount will cover the following barangays: La Paz, P7.4 million; Pamucutan, P42 million; Sinubong, P8.4 million; Lanzones-Buenakapok-Salaan, P7.6 million; Guisao, P3.3 million; Mangusu, P10.2 million; Pasobolong-Culianan, P8 million; and, Dulian, Upper Pasonanca, P13.6 million.

The MOA signing was held Monday at the City Hall’s conference room with Mayor Celso Lobregat and Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD) general manager Rey Leonardo Vasquez as the principal signatories.

The MOA signing was witnessed by Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde, members of the ZCWD Board of Directors headed by Dr. Milagros Fernandez and the barangay officials of the eight beneficiary-barangays.

Meanwhile, Lobregat emphasized that the original price of the water systems projects is P100.9 million with the city government’s counterpart pegged at P32.1 million and the ZCWD’s share for labor and other works at P68.8 million.

However, Lobregat said that the city government was able to get a lower prize for the pipes during the bidding process at P30.06 million, making the total amount only P98.7 million.

He clarified that the city government’s counterpart is an advance amount to ensure that the ZCWD can immediately implement the projects and expand the water distribution to the barangays without borrowing money from financial institutions with huge interests.

This advancing scheme was tackled Monday in an amended MOA with addendum pertaining to national wealth, also signed by Lobregat and Vasquez and witnessed by Iturralde and the ZCWD board of directors.

The city government had been assisting the ZCWD is undertaking water system projects to provide the residence potable water right at the door steps.

Last year, the local government has helped the ZCWD in the implementation of five barangay water system projects totaling to P40.4 million, over P8 million less from the original estimated price of P48.7 million due to lower bid prices.

Under the contract, the ZCWD will pay the city government after 25 years on a staggered basis with zero interest.

Vasquez, on behalf of the ZCWD management, thanked the city government, through Lobregat, for the partnership citing “this is the first time in 30 years that we have this kind of partnership.”

OWWA awards Zambo physician for Outstanding Achievement in Community-Projects


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 17 (PNA) -- A former Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and an eye, ear, nose and throat (EENT) specialist won the Special Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community-Projects in the Search for Model OFW Family of the Year Award (MOFYA) national competition.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Regional Director Hassan Jumdain said that Dr. Orlando Paber, who represented the region, bested 34 contenders during the National Awards Ceremony of the MOFYA search.

The MOFYA search, which is an annual activity of OWWA, was first conceptualized in 2003.

The search fetes the exemplary performance of OFWs who properly harnessed their financial gains abroad and maintained strong family ties despite difficulties in migration.

Jumdain said that Paber worked for nine years at the Dammam Central Hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

He has invested his earnings in purchasing equipment for his clinic which he maintains and upgrades to better serve his patients in this southern port city.

Paber has helped the marginalized fisher folks who are overly dependent on marine resources for livelihood including the Badjaos, who acquire cataract problem due to extreme sunlight exposure.

Among the areas directly benefited by his free cataract surgeries are the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi as well as Zamboanga City, he said.

He also noted that Paber, driven by his strong desire to help the indigent, has received various awards and recognition for his active civic involvement in the community.

His family was conferred the 1998 Model Family Award by the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU).He received multiple awards from LIONS Club International for conducting free eye surgery for indigent cases.

In 2001, Paber was awarded Model Citizen of Barangay Guiwan..

Paber is currently part of the Tzu Chi Foundation that provides cataract surgeries to less fortunate patients.

“This unfailing participation in Medical Outreach Missions was recognized by his colleagues in Zamboanga Medical Society,” Jumdain said.

The recognition and success of the Paber Family was made even more meaningful “because in all of their professional, creative and productive endeavors, they are driven by one desire and that is to be of service to others,” Jumdain added.

Paber received his award--Special Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community-Projects--in a ceremony held last Dec. 6 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, CCP Complex, Pasay City.

LTO reminds motorists of full implementation of helmet law

By Nonong Santiago

The national helmet standardization law is not only applicable in Zamboanga City but in the entire country.

Land Transportation Office 9 District Registration Officer Noel Noche disclosed that the LTO, in coordination with the traffic police, will fully implement the use of the standard helmet all over Region 9 including this city starting January 1, 2013.

Noche said no local ordinance or executive order can supersede the national law on the use of the helmets.

“If there is indeed an executive order in Pagadian City banning the use of helmets in the city proper, come January, motorists will be apprehended if they will not use the standard helmets,” Noche emphasized.

According to Noche, since the City Council failed to pass an ordinance specifying that only J-type helmets will be used by motorists in this city, all the three types, fullface, J-type and openface helmets are authorized provided it contains the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) stickers.

Noche also called the dealers and motorcycle store owners not to overcharge the selling of helmets to motorist.

Meanwhile, Noche noted a five percent increase in the registration of motor vehicles with their office this year.

He said the bulk of collection is attributed to the increase in the number of motorcycles based from a comparative report of 2011 and 2012.

“There are so many people in the region who have acquired motorcycles this year compared to last year,” Noche said. He said the increase in the collection of registration of motor vehicles is based from the improved campaign efforts of the office and motorcycles that has tremendously multiplied over the year.

“We are happy to announce that we have surpassed our collection target for 2012.”

Zambo City inaugurates archives facility


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 14 (PNA) -- The City of Zamboanga will now have a proper facility to store records and materials that require permanent protection for historic and lifetime storage, upkeep and preservation.

This, as the city government under the leadership of Mayor Celso Lobregat unveiled Friday, the City Archives Building, a two-storey structure worth P19 million located at barangay San Roque, west of this city.

Considered the first of its kind in the history of Zamboanga City, the Archives building will be another landmark and testimony of the enormous accomplishments of the present administration.

The Archives building is a large structure with vast spaces for storage of the city government’s archival materials.

By the nature of its name, Lobregat said the objective of the facility is primarily to “preserve valuable materials and records for long duration.”

The building’s ground floor houses storage areas for the six offices--Legal, Budget, Accountant, City General Service, Commission on Audit and Treasurer with two vault rooms, an extra space and the administration office located at the main entrance.

The second floor on the other hand, houses storage areas for 14 offices--City Agriculture, City Veterinarian, Bids and Awards Committee, City Health, Sangguniang Panlungsod, City Administrator, City Social Welfare, City Environment and Natural Resources, City Engineer, Civil Registrar, City Assessor, Human Resource, City Planning and City Mayor.

Since 2007, when the city’s finances have been fixed, the Lobregat administration has embarked on a massive infrastructure building covering all aspects with the intention of accelerating delivery of services and ultimately to help bring about development and progress here in Zamboanga City.

Through Lobregat’s initiative, the city government implemented 2,045 projects worth over P3.3 billion undertaken in a three-year period from 2009-2011 without having to borrow a single centavo from any financial institution.

These projects include the construction/ rehabilitation of roads, flood control projects, bridges, school buildings, barangay halls, health centers, hospitals, office buildings, fire and police stations, development of parks and gardens, water system, covered courts, pathways, site development and other structures and facilities that accelerate delivery of services, Lobregat said.

Army troops install water purification system for ‘Pablo’ victims


ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Troops from the Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion and 525th Engineer Battalion installed a temporary water purification station to provide additional potable water for the victims of typhoon Pablo, a military official announced Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Chester Ordonio, commander of the 525th Engineering Battalion, said the purification station was installed on Tuesday in Embarcadero, Centro, Baganga, Davao oriental, one of the hardest hit provinces.

Ordonio said the purification facility system catered the water needs of about 200 residents by distributing 900 gallons in one day.

“The water purification system hopes to provide clean water in evacuation areas so we can prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases,” Ordonio said.

He said a team of medical personnel, under Major Dino Anthony Flores, arrived at Incident Command Post (ICP) in Baganga will beef-up medical teams from the local municipal and provincial health offices.

The medical team will be sent to the most devastated Barangays of Ban-ao and Kinablangan to attend to the medical needs of the residents in the two areas, he said.

He said joint teams from the Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion and the Municipal Police Station escorted relief teams from Baganga municipal government to distribute food, medicines and water in Barangays Binondo, Batiano, Mikit, Campawan, Batawan and Mahan-ub.

Smart Philippines and Telecom Sans Frontieres based in Bangkok, Thailand installed a local internet capability to ensure ICP's connectivity and provide free calls for residents.

PHL hero dog Kabang receives Red Cross award for valor


Philippine hero dog Kabang, who saved two young girls in Zamboanga City, received from the international humanitarian organization Red Cross last week the "Animal Hero" award.

Kabang received the award during the 12th annual American Red Cross heroes recognition event held at the University of California–Davis (UCD) on December 7.

The event acknowledges the extraordinary heroic acts of people from all walks of life.

The other Red Cross awardees include 11-year-old Maria Andrade who helped prevent a possible catastrophic fire, Craig Senders who conducts free facial surgeries in different countries and Lorraine Beaumont who founded a Christian-faith based veterinary ministry that extends help to animals in impoverished countries.

The Red Cross recognized Kabang's heroism as she saved two girls in Zamboanga City from being run over by a speeding motorbike last year.

Kabang paid a high price for saving the girls, losing her upper snout and jaw which got mangled in the front wheel of the motorcycle.

The Facebook page of the Animal Welfare Coalition (AWC) said aside from the American Red Cross Award for Valor, Kabang also received certificates of recognition from the US Senate, Congress and California Legislature.

"She also received recognition from Davis, Woodland and local communities. TEAM KABANG's Cecile Torres (Animal Welfare Coalition) received the award and certificates of recognition for Kabang. Congratulations Kabang!" AWC said.

'Care for Kabang'

Various groups, spearheaded by “Care for Kabang” raised funds from different countries for a reconstructive facial surgery for Kabang.

However, initial medical examinations showed that Kabang had genital tumor and heartworm disease which needed to be treated first before she can undergo the surgery.

Kabang has recently finished her chemotherapy sessions and just underwent heartworm treatment. She is now recuperating at the UCD.

Her handler, Dawn Gilette, said Kabang is still recovering from the chemotherapy but is doing well, according to a report of the news site “The Davis Enterprise.”

Zambo City extends P2-M financial aid to ‘Pablo’ victims


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 11 (PNA) -- The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) passed Monday a resolution extending P2 million financial assistance to typhoon-ravaged provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

The resolution was passed during a meeting called by Mayor Celso Lobregat, who chairs the CDRRMC.

The city government, per CDRRMC resolution, allocated P1 million each to Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that the death toll of typhoon Pablo has already reached 714 as of Tuesday.

Region 11 or Davao Region, which includes the provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, has the biggest number of dead totaling 663.

Lobregat said the financial assistance is a show of sympathy and concern for fellow Filipinos in Eastern Mindanao which was badly hit by the typhoon "Pablo."

The mayor said the amount will help alleviate the plight of the people in the two provinces.

City gov’t, DOH finalize MRI acquisition plan for Zambo hospital


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 10 (PNA) -– The city government, as committed by Mayor Celso Lobregat, is now finalizing plans together with the Department of Health (DOH) to purchase a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan machine to be donated to the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC).

This, as the transfer of funds from the city government is now being arranged to pave the way for the immediate procurement of the MRI scan machine to be conducted by the Bids and Award Committee (BAC) of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) on behalf of the DOH Central Office Bids and Awards Committee.

An MRI scan machine, which is used by physicians to detect structural abnormalities in the body, is estimated to cost between P30 to P40 million.

The MRI scan machine uses magnetism and radio waves to produce clear picture of human anatomy.

Lobregat committed to donate an MRI scan machine to the ZCMC last April during the inauguration of the operating room complex and radiology/oncology center, which is an P11-million project of Deputy House Speaker for Mindanao and first district Representative Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar at the hospital.

Lobregat said the donation of the machine to the ZCMC would be realized before his third term expires in 2013.

The ZCMC stands to become the first and only government hospital to have an MRI machine here in the region and Mindanao as a whole.

The funding for the purchase of the MRI scan machine is included in the 2013 budget of the city government, Lobregat said.

Zambo mayor vows continuous implementation of education-related projects


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 9 (PNA) – Mayor Celso Lobregat has vowed to continue initiating education-related projects, stressing that education is the best tool to battle poverty and ensure better future to the young generation.

Lobregat said the local government has put a lot of concentration on school building and rehabilitating classrooms, covered courts, fences, stage and other infrastructures as well as other education-related projects since fixing the city’s finances.

From 2007 to June 30, 2012, the city government’s investment in education has reached P1.186 billion.

“Almost all of [public elementary and secondary] schools have projects,” Lobregat told the hundreds of participants to the Parents’ Summit held at one of the local hotels on Friday afternoon.

“I was influenced to do this by my grandfather, Don Pablo Lorenzo, who was the second mayor of Zamboanga City and eventually became the Secretary of Education and later Secretary of Public Works and Highways, the only Zamboangueño to occupy such Cabinet positions,” he added.

Don Pablo’s concern for the education of the youth was passed on to his daughter Maria Clara Lorenzo-Lobregat, who was elected representative of the then lone district of Zamboanga City and later elected city mayor.

“When my mother became a congresswoman, almost all of her congressional funds went to the establishment of schools, especially the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School (DPLMHS),” Lobregat said.

DPLMHS was originally named as the Zamboanga City High School (ZCHS)-North and located in Barangay Sta. Maria.

It was established to decongest the student population at the ZCHS-main in Barangay Tetuan and the ZCHS-West in Baliwasan.

“If the DPLMHS was not established, it’s over 7,000 students would be crowding the ZCHS-West and ZCHS-main,” Lobregat said.

When he succeeded his mother as representative for the lone district of Zamboanga City, Lobregat said, he also embraced education as his priority program.

Aside from building classrooms, he initiated the passage of laws establishing seven high schools in the barangays of Tictapul, Sibulao, Divisoria, Tolosa, Limaong, SouthCom, Calarian and Baluno and appropriating funds therefore.

Lobregat likewise authored Republic Act No. 9142 amending R.A. 7474 elevating the status of the Zamboanga Polytechnic College to a stats college, now known as the Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College.

On the other hand, Lobregat appealed to Summit participants to decide prudently and sensibly in choosing leaders for this city.

“Please help us make sure that the next mayor will be somebody who will protect the children and the students, somebody who will be against any and all forms of abuses against women and children,” he added.

The Parents’ Summit was organized by the Zamboanga PTA Federation and supported by the Local School Board led by the mayor.

Hundreds of parents and other stakeholders participated in the day-long event themed “Collaborating Toward Quality Students Learning Environment.”

PCSO chief provides ambulances and endowment fund to Zamboanga hospitals


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 8 (PNA) -- The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) released on Friday P1.5 million endowment fund and distributed ambulances to three hospitals in this southern port city.

PCSO chairperson Margarita Juico said the release of the endowment fund and distribution of ambulances is in line with the program of President Benigno S. Aquino III for the PCSO to reach out and help every needy Filipinos.

Juico distributed on Friday the three ambulances to the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC), Edwin Andrews Air Base Hospital (EAABH) and the Western Mindanao Medical Center (WMMC).

Aside from an ambulance, the ZCMC also received P1.5 million endowment fund to be used for PCSO-referred patients.

Juico disclosed they have focused on the distribution of ambulances to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

This came about after they found out that the distribution of ambulances were concentrated before in Metro Manila as well as the so-called “favored provinces,” Juico said.

Juico also announced that they have increased the Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) of PCSO-Zamboanga office from P20,000 to P100,000 daily.

Juico said this will enable the agency to assist more indigent patients in Zamboanga City and the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay as well the three ARMM provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The P1.5-endowment fund released to ZCMC is already the second tranche after releasing earlier this year the first tranche of P1.5 million, she said.

Juico said the ZCMC receives P3 million endowment fund annually from the PCSO.

Thousands take part "Week of Peace 2012" torch parade

(Peace Advocates Zamboanga)

Some 10,000 students, teachers, government personnel, soldiers, policemen, urban poor, civil society members, religious leaders, and others took part in a torch parade Wednesday night to ceremonially cap this year’s Week of Peace celebration.

The parade has been a tradition in Zamboanga City’s observance of the advocacy event, which this year is its 15th year.

Many bearing gas-lit torches, the march started at 5:30 P.M. from the Joaquin Enriquez Jr. Memorial Sports Complex, passed along the picturesque R.T. Lim Boulevard and Christmas-lit City Hall and other downtown landmarks, and ended at Paseo del Mar. Seven drum and bugle corps provided a lively beat to the march.

The torch parade, as with most of the other Week’s events, was spearheaded by the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP), headed by its Muslim, Evangelicals, indigenous people and R. Catholic convenors, namely Prof. Ali Yacub, Atty. Paul Eresando, Nulhamdo Cegales and Fr. Angel Calvo, respectively.

A short program and concert was held at the Paseo. During the program, Fr. Calvo read the closing statement of the movement. (Full text below.)

Closing statement of the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) on the Week of Peace 2012 celebration - from November 29 to December 5 - in Zamboanga City reads:

"Peace, Forward! The 15th annual celebration of the Week of Peace in Zamboanga City –and the 13th Mindanao-wide – this year of 2012 has been a showcase of events that proves that our sincere, serious and long-searching peace-making advocacies have now overcome many odds and challenges.

When the IRSMP conducted the Peace Forum on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on November 24, it was in fact to celebrate the fruits of our joint years-long efforts with other civil society groups for both government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to agree on a peaceful settlement of the Bangsamoro rebellion, as they have done with the FAB. And so we paid tribute and honor to both the government and MILF negotiating panels in this year’s Peaceweaver Awards, one of the other highlights of the celebration.

This year’s opening day parade participation reached an unprecedented 40,000 people, another indication of both the achievement of our advocacy as well as the deep longing for peace in our broken, imperfect society. It is an aspiration shared by the youths, when the students of six Claret schools of Basilan and Quezon City together with the city’s held a 3-day peace camp here and capped it by marching in the parade. We thank all those who walked the talk by joining the parade.

Other highlights are the Wall of Peace mural painting, for which we thank the Philippine Air Force, Rotary Club of Zamboanga, and Department of Education; panel discussion on “Islam Yesterday and Today” by the Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders & Affiliates; our Historical and Solidarity Journey with the culturally-diverse community of Recodo led by the barangay council and Jabu-Jabu group, for which we thank them; recognition Youth Solidarity for Peace Day; medical mission in consonance with the Young Muslim Professionals Movement; jail visitation by the United Church of Christ; and several school-based assemblies conducted by the YSP, US Alumni Ambassadors of Peace, Leadership Academy Class 2012 of Western Mindanao State University, and the public high schools of Sangali and Recodo. Again, thank you all.

We likewise thank the city government of Zamboanga, Department of Interior and Local Government city office, Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines, Commissions on Higher Education, Civil Service and Human Rights, Muslim organizations like the Philippine Ahlul-Bayt Foundation for their valuable support and participation.

In solidarity activism with fellow civil societies in Mindanao, too, the IRSMP convenors and some officers attended the first Mindanao Peaceweavers Coalition general assembly held in Davao on December 3 to 4.

The Bangsasomo framework agreement and its all-important remaining work are both opportunity and challenge in the months and years ahead for the government and MILF principals and stakeholders like the civil societies in Mindanao. With FAB and the Mindanao Peace’s Peace Agenda that we in Mindanao Peaceweavers have forged and pitched to the government of President Aquino, we shall with strong heart continue to overcome, to break the structural and practical barriers to peace. As this year’s celebration theme says, let’s soldier happily “Towards Sustainable Peace in Mindanao”.

This is our journey of hope – in many yesterdays, today, and more, more tomorrows.”

4 PBA legends to play in Zambo for Court of Inspiration campaign

By Hader Glang

Four Philippine Bastketball Association (PBA) legends are expected to arrive in Zamboanga City this coming Saturday to play a friendly exhibition game with the locals.

The four PBA legends Benjie Paras, Alvin Patrimonio, Johnny Abarrientos, and Jojo Lastimosa will be arriving here to stage their Court of Inspiration campaign.

An event organizer from the Geiser Maclang invites mediamen and local folks to witness the unveiling of a Philippine basketball first—the Court of Inspiration—which was built through the hard work and dedication of locals from Barangays Putik, Tumaga.

“We invite you this Saturday, December 8, at 8:30 a.m. to join us this for a day of hoops, hopes, and dreams. We look forward to having you participate in this memorable moment,” the organizers say in their invitation.

Classes resume in Zambo City as "Pablo" weakens


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) -- Classes from pre-school to secondary levels in both public and private schools in Zamboanga have resumed on Wednesday as the typhoon signal was lowered to one.

Mayor Celso Lobregat, chair of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC), issued the order lifting the suspension imposed on Tuesday during the height of the typhoon.

However, Lobregat said there will be no classes at Vitali Elementary School and Vitali National High School which remained underwater.

Teachers were, however, requested to report for work to assist in cleaning the school campus.

Meanwhile, Lobregat said that the 90 families who were displaced by flash flood have returned to their houses as the water receded.

They were temporarily housed at the the Vitali Parish Church. The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO)extended the assistance they needed, he added.

DOST sets Philippine Nuclear Science Quiz in Zambo


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 4 (PNA) -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is conducting the Philippine Nuclear Science Quiz (PNSQ) Regional Competition in this southern port city.

DOST Regional Director Brenda Nazareth-Manzano said the PNSQ is scheduled to be held on Wednesday at the Marcian Business Hotel, in this city.

Manzano said the winners in the regional elimination will represent the region in the PNSQ national competition on December 13, which will be held at the Nido fortified Science Discovery Center at the SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

Manzano said that the participating institutions are required to field a team entry composed of two students--one junior and one senior--and an official coach.

The winning top two teams will receive trophies and certificate of appreciation will be awarded to the official coach, Manzano said.

The non-winning teams will receive certificate of participation, she added.

PNSQ, the first nuclear science quiz to be held with regional participation, is in line with DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute’s (DOST-PNRI) 40th Atomic Energy Week (AEW) celebration from December 10 to 14.

The AEW celebration is themed: “Nuclear Science, Technology and Innovation: Engine for Growth and Development.”

Manzano said that big prizes await the winners of the PNSQ–national competition to include cash prizes in the amount of P20,000, P15,000, P10,000 for the first, second and third placers, respectively.

DILG supports ZamPen Agri bizcon & trade fair

By Albert Francisco III

DILG City Director Moh Taha S. Arakama issued a City Memorandum Circular # 2012-06 enjoining all Punong Barangays of Zamboanga City to attend the business conference and trade fair on Dec. 6.

The business conference and trade fair are being staged and hosted by the Zamboanga City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. headed by its President Pocholo Soliven.

Under the theme: "Private Public Partnership for Agri - Business development and prosperity in the City," the events will be held at the Astoria Plaza, Grand Astoria Hotel, this City.

The conference aims to provide participants with ideas on best practices in the industry, as well as to provide business network, buyers and market linkages to level up and create opportunities for our agricultural sector badly need of private sector support.

Due to limited seating capacity of the venue, interested parties who want to take part in these event will have to register in advance.

For more details contact Zamboanga City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Secretariat at 9910190.

Day care centers receive assistance

By Bong Garcia

THE local government pursues assistance to Day Care centers to improve early childhood education apart from constructing school buildings and undertaking other education-related projects for elementary and secondary schools in Zamboanga City.

As part of the assistance, 391 new kiddie chairs and 92 tables were distributed by Mayor Celso Lobregat to Day Care centers under the jurisdiction of the City Social Welfare Field Office 5 that covers the Mercedes district in the east coast.

Lobregat said a total of 23 Day Care centers located in the villages of Cabaluay, Guisao, Lanzones, Mercedes, Pasobolong, Salaan, Talabaan, Taluksangay, and Zambowood received new tables and chairs.

The number of tables and chairs given to each Day Care center depend on the number of students registered in the center, said Lobregat.

He said providing tables and chairs and other supplies for Day Care centers is only one of the components of the City Government’s assistance to the education sector.

Sta. Cruz Island scores big in international expo

By Bong Garcia

THE pink sands of Sta. Cruz Island, Zamboanga City’s premiere tourist destination, has scored big for the Philippines in the recently concluded Expo 2012 held in Yeosu, South Korea.

The exposition was themed: “The Living Ocean and Coast.”

The Philippine pavilion bagged two gold medals for creative display and theme development in the small pavilion category of the exposition.

Featured in the country’s pavilion were corals and sand sourced from the country’s beaches, including the pink sand of Sta. Cruz Island, white sand of Boracay, brown sand of San Lorenzo in Guimaras and black sand of Sto. Domingo in Albay.

The Philippine Organizing Committee and Tourism Promotion Board represented by Gwendolyn Batoon enplaned from Manila on Tuesday to personally present to Mayor Celso Lobregat in City Hall a plaque of appreciation for the remarkable outcome of country’s pavilion through the pink sands of Sta. Cruz island and other resources from other famed beaches in the country.

The gold plaque is the miniature facade of the Philippine pavilion in the Korean expo.

“It put not only the Philippines but also Zamboanga in the world map of tourism,” Lobregat said.

Batoon said the Philippine pavilion aimed to promote the new brand “More Fun in the Philippines,” portraying the country as a destination where fun and sustainable tourism coexist.

At the initial stage, the winning design for the Philippine pavilion was made by Deo Alam, a Muslim, whose design had three representative clusters: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Batoon said when sands from Mindanao region were searched on Google, Sta. Cruz Island kept popping out, thus the Department of Tourism (DOT) decided that Sta. Cruz Island facility is the perfect destination to find pick sand and to represent the Mindanao cluster.

“We fared very well in the expo because the expo was visited by over eight million visitors, of which 850,000 attended the Philippine pavilion and if we are to count all the number of audience, we enjoyed over a three months for the various events we created to promote the new tourism and country brand ‘it’s more fun in the Philippines,’” Batoon said.

He stressed that calculating the returns in investment, the country spent no more than $2 per person to promote the brand in the most important source of tourism market—the Korean market.

“In the latest development meeting we had [at the DOT], Sta. Cruz Island will be prominently mentioned as one of the destinations that national government will promote,” she added.

Batoon expressed confidence that Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga City, with all its potentials, will be a magnet of tourists not only from Korea but from other countries as well.

The Philippines bested 11 countries in the small pavilion category during the expo.

In the creative display criteria, it was followed by Lithuania (silver) and Mexico (bronze).

Tunisia and Vietnam, meanwhile, won the silver and gold medals for theme development, respectively.

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