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Cebu Province News July 2011

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Province of Cebu - Archived News

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How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
Vitamin C 220 mg Oranges: 30 mg
Calcium 440 mg Cow's milk: 120 mg
Potassium 259 mg Bananas: 88 mg
Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm

Contents

PB pushes for "green" Capitol bldg

By Gregg M. Rubio/JPM (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The Provincial Board (PB) of Cebu is pushing for the comprehensive retrofitting program of the Capitol Building and all other province-owned buildings within the Capitol compound to convert these into “green” buildings.

The PB passed in their last regular session the proposal of Board Member Thadeo Ouano requesting Provincial Engineer Eulogio Pelayre to formulate the program.

Retrofitting is described as the addition of new technology or features to an older system to conform with modern standards and additional works are introduced. A green building, meanwhile, refers to a structure that is environment-friendly and resource-efficient.

“In developed countries, old distressed buildings are demolished for new structures, here in Cebu seldom we see old buildings demolished precisely because of the costs involved, even though we are the richest province,” Ouano said.

Ouano said the buildings within the Capitol complex are old and need improvement to be able to withstand any risk.

The construction of green buildings expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability and comfort.

A green building brings together a vast array of practices and techniques to reduce or eliminate the impacts of buildings on the environment and human health.

It often emphasizes on taking advantage of renewable resources like using sunlight to lighten up hallways of the buildings and using plants and trees through green roofs, rain gardens and for the reduction of rainwater run-off.

To reduce operating energy use, high efficiency windows and insulation in walls, ceilings and floors can increase power efficiency consumption.

In addition, effective window placement or day-lighting can provide more natural light and lessen the need for electric lights during the day.

Ouano said the Provincial Capitol building can make use of any of these improvements to be able to conserve and make use of energy efficiently by taking advantage of alternative natural energy sources without contributing to the environmental woes being experienced now.

Ouano added that the program may be adopted and pursued by the cities and municipalities in the entire Province of Cebu as part of their programs in reducing the impact of climate change.

Investments seen to flood Camotes

By Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Investments are expected to pour in the “iconic destination” in Cebu province — Camotes, Island, once the bill rationalizing the management of the national resources will be passed into law.

The island will not only attract multi-million-peso tourism related projects, but it will also lure capitalists who are interested into building support facilities such as waste management, power distribution, water distribution, among others, said Cebu 5th district representative Ramon Durano VI.

The bill has identified 4,000 hectares of “protected areas” on the island, out of total 20,000 hectare land area of Camotes.

Durano hopes that the bill will soon be passed in order to boost the economic growth of Camotes, and maximize its good tourism potential.

If passed into law, it would have 16,000 hectares of alienable and disposable land on the island, which can be utilized by capitalists for investments.

Unless the bill becomes a law, the investment attractiveness of Camotes would remain “raw” or underdeveloped.

The House Bill 897 passed the first reading at the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and was set for second and third readings before it would become a law.

“The bill was sponsored by Senator Miguel Zubiri and it aims to amend Proclamation 2152 in December 29, 1981 declaring the whole province of Palawan and Certain parcels of the public domain and/or parts of the country as mangrove swamp forest reserves,” Durano said.

He said the house committee on Environment was waiting for national mapping and resources information authority to identify the coordinates of the “protected areas” covered by the Bill.

Durano hopes that before his term ends in 2013, he would like to see this bill passed into law.

Camotes Island, located northeast of Cebu, was chosen by the Department of Tourism (DoT) in Central Visayas as the “new iconic product” in the region as it boasts of a fresh water lake, white sand beaches, caves, among others.

As an iconic product, Camotes will be among the priority destinations of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and will receive more promotion assistance from the tourism department. The island is made up of four barangays; Pilar, Poro, San Francisco, and Tudela.

Municipality initiates public-private partnership to protect coastal resources

by Fayette C. Riñen(FCR with Reggie Marie B. Barrientos of PBSP/PIA 7-Cebu)

CEBU CITY, July 29 (PIA) -- A coastal municipality in Cebu has initiated partnership among government stakeholders and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) to manage its coastal resources and ensure food security for local folks.

The Municipality of Cordova recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the PBSP, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the management, development and protection of its aquatic resources within its municipal waters.

The MoU was recently signed between Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy, PBSP’s LINC-CRMG Program Manager Marivic Abello, DENR’s Integrated Coastal Resource Management Project Head Joselito Alcaria and Ocean Care Advocates, Inc. (OCAI) Administrator Mario Marababol at the municipal hall of Cordova.

Under the MoU, PBSP will assist Cordova in building up the capacities of local government units on the implementation of measures towards the conservation of coastal resources, food security and livelihood generation for coastal communities.

With the MoU, the town will also get the support of BFAR, DENR and Ocean Care Advocates, Inc. (OCAI) on the enforcement of the Integrated Coastal Resource Management Project (ICRMP) to ensure sustainable management of coastal resources.

The agreement is anchored on PBSP’s Linking Initiatives for Collaborative Coastal Resource Management and Governance Program (LINC-CRMG), which has already gained ground in the provinces of Bohol, Guimaras, Samar and Southern Leyte.

Funded by the European Union, the program aims to achieve effective and sustainable coastal resource management and contribute to poverty reduction through the rehabilitation of the Visayas coastal zones, enhancement of alternative livelihood to further prevent use of coastal resources, and enforcement of fishery laws by enabling local government units through the Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Councils (FARMCs), according to a statement from the PBSP

FARMCs are mandated by the government to oversee coastal resource regeneration and look into the improvement of the fisheries sector in the local level.

The councils are also responsible for drafting the coastal resource management plans and programs that include aspects such as the increase of income of communities living along the coastal zones, management of critical habitats, activities to lessen fishing pressure, enforcement of fishery laws and ecotourism.

Each council in the 13 barangays of Cordova will help monitor illegal activities in their specific areas which largely contributed to the rapid degradation of Cordova’s coastal waters.

“There will be continuous trainings of the FARMCs to strengthen their leadership and systems to respond to the needs of coastal barangays,” LINC-CRMG Program Officer for Lapu-Lapu and Cordova Rei Cabalquinto stated.

Cabalquinto added that Cordova still faces challenges such as providing alternative livelihood projects to augment family income and reduce pressure in the town’s coastal zones.

Furthermore, most fisherfolk organizations in Cordova still lack the skills needed to implement and enforce fishery laws, Cabalquinto said

At present, the LINC-CRMG Program is advocating for a fisherfolk’s registration and creation of more information materials to help educate the coastal communities on effective coastal resource management.

The LINC-CRMG will run for two years and will cover 10 coastal barangays of Cordova.

European youth to build houses for Badjaos

by Doris C. Bongcac (Chief of Reporters)

CEBU City is hosting 25 western Europeans on a 20-day visit to learn about Cebuano culture.

The visit is part of the Multi-City Youth Exchange program organized by the city government and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.

The group would try to help the Badjao community in barangay Mambaling by building four houses for selected beneficiaries, said Ruby Cumba-Langeveld, a native of Borbon town who works as a nurse in the Netherlands.

The group will also visit the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation office, Cebu City Medical Center and the Cebu Technological University campus in Barili town, south Cebu, for a youth encounter.

Langeveld said the group will also have a Cebu adventure sleeping on the city’s sidewalks and sailing to Bandian Island.

“We are here for immersion and to visit our sister city’s projects,” said Langeveld.

The delegation includes 27 guests from Kortrijk in Belgium and Haarlemmermeer in the Netherlands. The Dutch group includes 12 youths and three adults. The Belgium delegates include 10 youths and two adult leaders.

Half of the delegates’ travel expenses was subsidized by their respective governments. The delegates paid the balance, raising funds by washing cars, selling recyclable bottles and walking for a cause, Langeveld said.

The delegates will also visit non-government organizations in Carmen, Cebu and in Badian.

Church official praises Aquino’s 2nd Sona

by Candeze R. Mongaya(Reporter) and Dale G. Israel(Day desk Coordinator)

AN official of the Cebu archdiocese said President Benigno Aquino III’s second State of the Nation Adress was “very good.”

Aquino’s central message of fighting graft and corruption should inspire Filipinos, said Msgr. Esteban Binghay, episopal vicar of the Archdiocese of Cebu.

“But he should not stop there. He should also provide clear and consistent direction on how to achieve his goals,” Binghay told Cebu Daily News.

Aquino did not talk about the Reproductive Health bill that the Church opposes but thanked Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales of Manila and Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal for promoting dialogue between the Church and State.

Binghay said Aquino's determination to dialogue with the clergy would also help clear the air between clergymen and government leaders.

“The Church and the State should sit down together in such a way that they can save morality, not just the economy and politics,” he said.

In Mandaue City, Mayor Jonas Cortes said the President’s use of misused sirens as a metaphor for abusive leadership showed his seriousness in battling arrogance among public officials.

Rep. Luigi Quisumbing of Cebu’s 6th district said he shares Aquino’s vision of accountable leaders who care.

Sona 2011: 'Better than before'

CEBU CITY -- Business and government leaders in Cebu found Monday's State of the Nation Address (Sona) "better than the one last year," despite some omissions.

President Benigno Aquino III again used the "wang-wang" as a motif for the mindset he wants his administration to correct, the "mindset of entitlement" shown by those who abuse their privileges, when they are supposed to serve.

In random interviews, community leaders said they would have wanted the Sona to include a clearer position for or against the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, as well as specific programs to create jobs and grow the economy beyond the national capital.

The Sona, delivered at 4 p.m. in a joint session of Congress, drew the most applause with the announcement that former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales has been appointed as the new ombudsman.

"I expect that this year, we will have filed our first major case against the corrupt and their accomplices," President Aquino said. "And these will be real cases, with strong evidence and clear testimonies, which will lead to the punishment of the guilty."

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Eric Ng Mendoza said the President explained well the kind of government he wants to have.

He commended the statement on protecting the country's claim to the Spratlys, because "it shows that even if we're a small country, we take pride in it."

There were few instructions for local governments, although Aquino did warn them against taxing the power transmission lines that run through their territories. This may raise local revenue, but will cause higher power rates for other Filipinos.

"Let us try to balance the interests of our constituencies with that of the nation as a whole," he said.

In Cebu City, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Central Visayas was at the Plaza Sugbo where a live telecast of the Sona was shown.

Cebu was among five remote points of a live broadcast where success stories were presented during the pre-Sona.

More jobs

Balamban Councilor Dave Karamihan talked about 14,000 jobs generated by the shipbuilding industry based in his town, now vying to become a city.

With the Magellan's Cross in the background, Karamihan told the nation that the town's shipbuilding industry has contributed P348 million in taxes.

Cebu to feature shipbuilding in pre-SONA event this afternoon

by Fayette C. Riñen(PIA 7-Cebu)

CEBU CITY, July 25 (PIA) -- Before the 2nd state-of-the-nation address (SONA) of President Benigno S. Aquino III scheduled at 4 p.m. this afternoon, live remote points across the country including Cebu will feature their respective strengths that made a huge difference in the lives of the community in a pre-SONA event starting at 2:00 p.m.

For Cebu, shipbuilding was identified as one of its major strengths as the province particularly the Municipality of Balamban is home to the 4th largest shipbuilder in the world--the Tsuneishi Heavy Industries Cebu, Incorporated (THICI).

The pre-SONA event will be on live telecast over NBN 4 while in Cebu, the activity will be held at the Plaza Sugbo fronting Cebu City Hall to capture the Magellan’s Cross as back drop.

Two resource persons will be featured for Cebu, a town official of Balamban and a woman worker of THICI as the beneficiary of the featured strength. Both resource persons will be given three minutes each to talk on the featured strength and the benefits gain.

Balamban Councilor Dave John Karamihan will cite how the THICI has uplifted the quality of lives among the rural folks by providing jobs and how economic activity increased since the company began its operations in 1994.

Likewise, Karamihan will is also expected to touch on how their local government unit (LGU) is adopting the essence of efficiency and transparency in processing business permits to ensure that their town is conducive to investors.

Yuge Cuizon, a lead man of THICI will also talk on how she was given the chance to work in a company that sees men and women equal in job opportunities. Before her promotion as lead man, Cuizon used to be a welder, a job primarily handled by men.

Cebu’s featured strength will not only focus on the benefits gain by the LGU but will also place emphasis on how ship building has contributed much to the national economy through revenues generated.

The pre-SONA event is undertaken by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) through the Philippine Information Agency on the ground.

PB supports creation of river council

By Gregg M. Rubio/JPM (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu Provincial Board (PB) has declared its support to the newly formed Central Cebu River Basins Management Council (CCRBMC) chaired by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

The PB passed the resolution sponsored by Board Members Thadeo Ouano and Sergio Restauro declaring their support in their regular session last Monday.

Respecting the mandates of member government agencies and the promotion of multi-stakeholders’ participation in decision-making made the PB to support the council, said Ouano.

“The local government of Cebu Province recognizes the vital role of various stakeholders in the protection, rehabilitation, development, management and utilization of the natural resources within the Central Cebu river basins,” Ouano said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has forged a partnership with various National Government agencies, local government units, non-government organizations and other stakeholders for the creation of the CCRBMC through a memorandum of cooperation last July 20.

The council will use an “ecosystems approach” to river management that considers interdependent factors like forest cover and socio-economics and will work with the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Central Cebu Protected Landscape. However, PAMB will deal with infrastructure within Cebu’s forests.

The partnership is said to be proof that the DENR is serious in its pursuit for an integrated watershed management.

The agreement said the present state of river basins, particularly those in central Cebu, calls for immediate rehabilitation, protection and conservation to ensure sustainable water supply.

The Office of the President issued a directive creating the Inter-Agency Task Force on Cebu Water Resource Management to provide opportunity for partnership and collaboration among concerned sectors of society for an integrated approach in water resources management as spearheaded by DENR Region 7.

The Task Force identified the need to form with the CCRBMC to sustain and ensure the coordinated development and management of water, land and other related river basin resources.

Friendship bridge to boost Cebu-Bohol productivity

By Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Although the Bohol Provincial government has expressed support for the possible realization of the “Cebu-Bohol Friendship Bridge,” but it has to wait for the result of the feasibility study before pushing with the project.

Bohol Governor Edgar M. Chatto said that the creation of the bridge could boost productivity and partnership between Cebu and Bohol as “these two provinces should go together.”

While other sectors expressed fear that when the “friendship bridge” will be realized some sectors in the industry, such as shipping, will be affected.

Chatto, said it is natural that some industries will be affected by the development, ‘they should be ready to re-plan and adjust their businesses.”

According to Chatto, while the project is good, the Bohol government is not promising financial support, saying “Bohol is not a rich province, that can make this project a reality. We will leave the study come up with its own.”

At present, the Governor said the province is busy in pushing the realization of its airport project on Panglao Island, together with other infrastructure projects to boost its tourism sector.

Last year, the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) announced that it started a US$3 million feasibility study for the Cebu-Bohol-Friendship Bridge.

Noris Oculam, former president of BCCI earlier said that the proposed “friendship bridge” is “on track” since a foreign agency has supported the project, through the funding of feasibility study.

According to Chatto, Bohol government is also anticipating the result of the study, so it would draw up plans for the project’s realization, together with other sectors.

According to Oculam the Economic Development Coopepration Fund (EDCF) of Korea has already committed about the US$3 million grant for the feasibility study.

“The Regional Development Council in Central Visayas has already asked the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to endorse to the Korean government their request for funding assistance for the feasibility study on the proposed bridge.

The proposed bridge project will have to be endorsed by DPWH, the Neda Investment Coordination Committee technical board, Neda board and the foreign affairs secretary, he said.

The 90-kilometer bridge’s construction is expected to cost at least P20 billion.

Once materialized, Oculam said it will be a win-win situation for Cebu and Bohol in terms of commerce, technology sharing and the exchange of power and water between the two provinces.

“With the bridge, we can connect a pipeline to transport excess water from Bohol to Cebu, as well as a fiber optic line from Cebu to Bohol to improve Bohol’s telecommunications infrastructure,” Oculam said.

President Benigno Aquino III earlier expressed his take on the proposed project, saying “it is too ambitious.”

However, Chatto said if this will be realized it could boost the economy between the two provinces.

Over 25,000 Cebuanos benefit from DOLE job fairs

By By Fayette C. Riñen (PIA 7 - Cebu)

CEBU CITY, July 21 (PIA) -- Over 25,000 Cebuanos have found new jobs due to the regular conduct of jobs fair undertaken by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-7 in partnership with the private sector and the local government units.

DOLE-7 Acting Regional Director Exequiel Sarcauga during a recent PIA forum bared that since January, this year, their office has facilitated 47 jobs fairs in partnership with the various private companies in Cebu and the local government units here.

“Out of the 47 job fairs that have been undertaken, 25,900 workers were able to land employment,” according to Sarcauga.

Sarcauga said the conduct of regular jobs fairs is a priority thrust of their office to ensure that access to employment can be made easier to the jobseekers.

“Apart from ensuring that activities are undertaken to ensure job generation, a priority thrust of President Aquino, this kind of activity also witnesses the important partnership between the public and private sector to address or fill the gap which is unemployment,” Sarcauga added.

The DOLE-7 chief also said the region’s unemployment rate has decreased to 6.2 percent and that there are more job opportunities available today.

Sarcauga also said their office has provided financial assistance for students to earn extra income during semestral breaks. “We have provided a counterpart fund of P8 million to local government units that temporarily hire poor deserving students who want to earn money to pay their tuition during school breaks,” Sarcauga said.

Under the program, the DOLE-7 provides a 40 percent counterpart fund while the local government unit shoulders the rest of the 60 percent.

“For the second semester, our office has allotted P9M for the counterpart fund which will benefit around 2,000 students,” the DOLE-7 head disclosed.

Sarcauga further revealed that DOLE-7 was able to release P12 million for livelihood loans to various beneficiaries since the beginning of the year.

Bureau of Customs - Cebu releases NFA rice

By Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon/WAB (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Port of Cebu has ordered the release of 35,600 bags of NFA rice on board MV Long Thinh Star six days after it arrived in Cebu from Vietnam.

Carlito Buhay, boarding officer of BOC-Port Operations Division, said that consignees Nilo Alegado Rice and Corn Dealer and Edisa Cabuenas, through Palapo Customs Brokerage, have presented all the necessary documents including permit from the NFA.

Lawyer Ralph Sevilla, the brokerage representative said they have the permit to import from the NFA but the processing of other documents took six days before it was completed.

The rice shipment is worth more or less P16 million.

The said vessel arrived in Cebu port last July 12.

BOC director of Collection Service Ramon Cuyco also said that the rice shipment is supported with documents to import based on the NFA Private Sector-Financed Rice Importation Program.


Stakeholders discuss mgt of Cebu's rivers

By Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon/WAB (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Around 150 participants from the national government agencies, local government units, academe, non-government organizations, and other stakeholders, are expected to attend a two-day Central Cebu River Basins Multi-Stakeholders Forum and Workshop starting today at Montebello Villa Hotel, Cebu City.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 director Maximo O. Dichoso said the activity recognizes the vital role of various stakeholders in the protection, rehabilitation, management, and utilization of the natural resources within the Central Cebu river basins.

The purpose and objective of the council is to address the urgent and critical water problem and attendant issues of land use in Cebu by effectively and efficiently integrating the development and management of land, water resources, water supply and sanitation.

In a press statement, Dichoso said the effective and efficient management of the river systems, water distribution system, and equitable use of water as a resource is an essential factor to sustain Cebu’s economic development.

The objectives of the activity are to review and present previous efforts in the past related to CCRBM, to solicit suggestions and proposals from various stakeholders for the effective protection, management and rehabilitation of the CCRB, to define the various responsibilities of participating stakeholders through a memorandum of cooperation, among others.

The Central Cebu river basins with a total area of 68,133 hectares which covers four major watershed areas with corresponding hectarage are Mananga with 8,716; Lusaran-Combado, 26,257; Coastal, 24,849; and Kotkot with 8,311.

Coastal river basins include Guinsaga, Butuanon, Mahiga, Guadalupe, Lahug, Linao, and Bulacao. It covers cities of Cebu, Toledo, Danao, Mandaue, and Talisay and municipalities of Asturias, Minglanilla, Lilo-an, Consolacion, Compostela, and Balamban.

DENR Undersecretary for Planning and Policy Demetrio L. Ignacio, Jr will deliver a keynote address. Resource persons are Metro Cebu Water District General Manager Armando Paredes and River Basin Coordinating Office Executive Director Vicente Tuddao to discuss the River Basins Master Plan; and National Water Resources Board Executive Director Vicente Paragas to talk on the integrated water resources management.

Cordova – Reclamation project work ongoing

By Carmel Loise Matus(Correspondent)

Work of phase 1 of the the 132-hectare reclamation project of Cordova town in Mactan Island is ongoing.

Cordova town Mayor Adelino Sitoy said this project would increase the economic activity of the town once development begins.

Sitoy said Phase 1 would cover 10 hectares and cost about P80 million.

The blessing of the site, which will be attended by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, will be on August 14.

Sitoy said they would be looking at commercial investments once the Phase I will be completed.

Provincial Planning and Development Officer Engineer Adolfo Quiroga earlier said that they amended its existing Environmental Certificate Clearance (ECC) on that area.

Instead of having 10-hectare reclamation, they will extend it to 20 hectares.

Sitoy together with Quiroga and Governor Garcia met last month and discussed about the reclamation project in Cordova town.

Sitoy said that they were still processing the necessary permits and clearance for the other areas of the 132 hectares to be reclaimed.

DAR-Cebu expands land distribution

By PHOEBE JEN INDINO

PINAMUNGAJAN, Cebu — Following a recent order from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)’s central office, the DAR in Cebu province will be expanding its Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) coverage program from 3,146 to 5,646 hectares this year.

The said increase was in line with the agency’s implementation of Republic Act 9700 otherwise known as the CARPER law which provides for the distribution of remaining lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) within a five-year period only.

Meanwhile, DAR-Cebu’s chief of operations division, Lilian Guanzon said the provincial agrarian office has only distributed close to 200 hectares from January to June this year due to the processing of private agricultural lands (PAL) that usually causes delay in land distribution.

“Private agricultural lands usually take a longer processing period as compared to public lands which are easier to manage because it is only a government-to-government transaction,” she said.

However, Guanzon pointed out that DAR-Cebu remains optimistic about hitting its five-year goal this year as PAL processes are usually finished in the third and fourth quarter of the year where the agency usually fast- tracks land distribution.

Last year, in fact, the provincial agrarian office was able to exceed its target by about 135 percent on land tenure improvements (LTI).

LTI component aims at securing the tenurial status of farmers and farmworkers in the lands they till. This is operationalized through land acquisition and distribution (LAD) or leasehold operations.

50 Cebu companies join training to save energy

(The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Managers and supervisors from 50 industrial and service companies in Cebu attended the two-day National Training Workshop on Energy Efficiency and Conservation held recently at Crown Regency, Lapu-Lapu City.

The training intends to introduce the ASEAN developed Total Energy Management (TEM) Handbook to 600 companies nationwide in order to generate energy savings estimated at P60 billion annually.

The handbook provides a system that will enable companies to establish targets and develop their energy efficiency and conservation programs.

The TEM Handbook is a first of its kind in the world which is designed for use in industries by factory managers, middle managers, engineers, workers and equipment operators.

It was first introduced in Thailand in 2005 and made excellent results of energy savings of about $1.2 Million in seven months.

The participants were also trained on efficient transport system and fuel efficiency; efficient combustion controls; heat rate improvements; efficient heat, ventilation and air conditioning system: efficient lighting systems and efficient electric motors. Training speakers were energy management experts from DOE and top energy service companies in the country.

The DOE discussed also during the training the Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards given yearly to outstanding companies and energy managers who have undertaken energy efficiency and conservation programs to achieve substantial savings in their energy consumption.

Other energy awards are the ASEAN Best Practices Award in Buildings and ASEAN Energy Management Award in Major Industries and Buildings.

The Cebu leg is the 10th run of the 15 training-workshops conducted nationwide by the DOE in partnership with the Development Academy of the Philippines.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation is one of the major programs of the DOE which is geared towards attaining the country’s energy independence especially from the use of imported fossil fuels.

It promotes the use of technology that requires less energy use without reducing outputs and elimination of unnecessary energy use through behavioral change.

Cebu public hearing tackles fisheries bill

By Elias O. Baquero

THE House committee on aquaculture and fisheries resources yesterday received overwhelming support for the creation of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Dfar) during a public hearing on the bill at the Capitol Social Hall yesterday.

The move would make the existing bureau a separate entity from the Department of Agriculture

But some fisherfolk, especially members of Pamana-Sugbo, opposed amendments to Republic Act (RA) 8550 or the Fisheries Code of 1998, saying it will reduce the scope of municipal waters.

Committee chairperson Rep. Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu, fourth district), author of the bill, explained that creating Dfar will give more power to the agencies tasked to improve seafood production and at the same time protect the environment.

On the amendment of RA 8550, Rep. Pablo “Pabling” Garcia (Cebu, second district) said commercial fishing, no matter how small or big, must be allowed in seawaters seven fathoms deep.


Market demand

He said marginal fishermen cannot meet market demand.

Victor Lapaz of Pamana-Sugbo, a group of fishermen, said they oppose the proposed reduction of the 15-kilometer radius of municipal waters because big-time commercial fishers, with their sophisticated fishing equipment, would displace marginal fishermen.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) Executive Director Luis Perez, for his part, said Filipino fishermen must depend on science, especially on understanding the cycle of fish production.

“If we allow massive fishing within the 15-kilometer radius, the number of fishes will be depleted. Fish catch and fish production have declined in the past 20 years. And there are factors that include the science of fisheries”, Perez said.

Garcia said their proposed amendments to RA 8550 are not selective because commercial fishing, whether big or small, is allowed only in seas seven fathoms deep.


No more fish

“If we will not amend the law especially on Section 90 of RA 8550, which bans commercial fishing within the 15-kilometer radius, time will come when the wet markets will run out of fish because marginal fishermen cannot produce more. Let us look what is the greater good for the greater number (of people),” Garcia said.

He added that the primary aim to amend the law and to create Dfar is food security. The problem is that the catch of marginal fishermen is enough for them and their families with no excess available for sale in the markets.

He said Presidential Decree 704, the old fisheries law, allowed commercial fishing within seas seven fathoms deep.

“All we have to do is reconcile the laws in making the amendment of RA 8550,” Garcia said.

Garcia said by amending RA 8550, there will be no more definition of municipal waters.

Other congressmen who attended the hearing and gave inputs were Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, 3rd district), Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City South), Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu, 6th district), Rep. Pastor Alcover Jr. (Anad Partylist), and Rep. Eduardo Gullas, among others.

Cebu governor to report seven-year achievement in Friday's SOPA

By MARS W. MOSQUEDA JR.

CARCAR CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia will deliver Friday her State of the Province Address (SOPA) highlighting her administration's accomplishments last year and the summary of what she has done for the past seven years.

“We will come up with a state-of-the-province address that will answer each and every Cebuano’s question on what I have done for the province and more importantly, how I have conducted myself in fulfilling this great responsibility of pushing for the Province of Cebu’s phenomenal growth,” Garcia said.

Invited guests when she delivers her SOPA include congressmen, mayors and vice mayors of the Cebu province and Cebu City officials led by Mayor Michael Rama. Garcia said statistics and figures will be given serious consideration in her address.

Garcia told reporters that included in her address are reports coming from all departments under the provincial government on their projects and programs that continue to implement the 12-point agenda that has been her guide in governance and her platform of government.

The 12-point agenda aims to address the basic needs of the people at the barangay level. The program includes attending to the needs of children and the elderly, women, agriculture and food production, water, health, power, education, business, environment, infrastructure, information technology, tourism and peace and order.

The implementation of these programs has actually been continuing because it started during Garcia’s first term in 2004.

Garcia Thursday said she realized that beyond the 12-point agenda, she was able to achieve “remarkable inroads” in other aspects like international relations.

The Cebu governor said she will be inviting Cebu City officials to her SOPA delivery because she will also be talking about the present harmonious relationship between the province and the city, “a fact that I believe is warmly welcomed by all Cebuanos.

Utility, telecom firms to bury ‘ugly wires’ on Osmeña Blvd

By Oscar C. Pineda

THE Cebu Provincial Government has signed an agreement with officials of utility and telecommunications companies to get rid of “unsightly spaghetti wires” along Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City.

The wires and cables will be transferred underground, according to the memorandum of agreement (MOA), as part of the beautification project of the boulevard from Capitol to Fuente Osmeña.

“We wish to capture the beauty that once made us the Queen City of the South,” said Gov. Gwen Garcia, who signed the MOA with officials of the Visayan Electric Company, PLDT, BayanTel, Globe Telecom and Pacific-Cat Inc.

The agreement with the companies is one of the eight MOAs the governor signed yesterday for the benefit of the Province’s constituents as well as in support of other government agencies.

One of these is the donation of a pre-war heritage house in the Municipality of Dumanjug to the Province.

Victor Tan Jr., signed a deed of donation of the heritage residential building and lot in Barangay Ilaya, Dumanjug town.

The governor also signed agreements for Capitol to fund the P14-million Sibonga Waterworks System serving five barangays and for the Camotes Electric Cooperative in Camotes Island serving three towns.

Another MOA involves the 14.3-kilometer road concreting project in San Fernando town with partners Taiheiyo Cement Phil. and Solid Earth Development Corp.

Capitol, which has an existing scholarship grant for valedictorians, also entered into a MOA with the Development Bank of the Philippines for a scholarship grant for “salutatorians” in the province.

The Province further signed two MOAs with two government agencies on the use of two of its lots in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City.

Capitol agreed to fund construction of the P2-million Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency building on the Province-owned lot, as well as allow the 7th Regional Community Defense Group use of the other property.

Mandaue buys 4 electric cars

By Rebelander S. Basilan

CSOME vendors and buyers have raised concern about the accessibility of Mandaue City’s new public market. The City has an answer to that: electric cars.

Market administrator Musoline Suliva said the City has bought four 14-seater electric cars, which cost P695,000 each, to help transport vendors and buyers to the new public market, located at the back of the Mandaue City Sports and Cultural Complex in Barangay Centro.

In a recent interview, Suliva said the City ordered the “environmentally friendly” cars from China. The electric cars will be delivered this week, although there is no schedule yet for the opening of the new market building.

A ride in the electric car will cost one only P5, if the proposed fare is approved, Suliva said.

He said the City also considers a rerouting scheme that will make the new public market accessible to the public, while reducing traffic in major roads.

Suliva said the new public market will open before the year ends. He said the City Council is in the process of passing an ordinance for the transfer to the new market building. The contractor has yet to turn over the facility to the City, he added.

The old market building, occupied by some 500 legitimate vendors, got burned in 2002 and is now risky for vendors and buyers, Suliva pointed out.

“We can’t compromise the safety of our vendors and buyers,” he said.

He added the transfer to the new public market will spare vendors from tough competition, with two malls being constructed near the old public market.

Suliva said the old market gets flooded during downpours, causing inconvenience for vendors and buyers.

He said the transfer to the new market building has the support of legitimate vendors, adding those who oppose are the “come-and-go” vendors.

The old market building will remain, but only dry goods and Mandaue delicacies will be sold there, Suliva said.

The new public market is a 10,000-square-meter structure that sits on a 16,460-square-meter lot. The remaining 6,460- square-meter area is for the market’s roads, parking, easement and mini-parks.

Most of the funds used in the project are taken from the P379-million loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines and allotments from the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Market officials have put up a vegetable garden on the rooftop of the old public market, in support of Mayor Jonas Cortes’s advocacy on backyard gardening and garbage segregation.

The rooftop used to be where the biodegradable wastes from the market’s vegetable section were disposed of. They decided to plant vegetables when the wastes turned into rich soil.

VP aid sought on 93-1 dispute

By Candeze R. Mongaya(Reporter) and Doris C. Bongcac(Chief of Reporters)

CEBU City Hall and the Capitol reportedly sought the intercession of the Office of the Vice President to help resolve the protracted lot dispute involving occupants of the properties covered by the Provincial Ordinance 93-1.

Vice President Jejomar Binay said he was asked by Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama to come in as as chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

“If the local leaders would help each other and lessen the intrigues, the problems would be solved,” Binay told reporters after attending the 50th charter day in Danao town, Bohol yesterday.

Last July 7, Binay gathered the lot occupants and government officials covered by Presidential Proclamation (PP) 409 and Provincial Ordinance 93-1 to listen to their concerns and suggestions on how to solve the problem.

But Binay gave no specific solutions for the land dispute between the Capitol and Cebu City affecting over 5,000 families occupying government-owned lots.

He said they still need input from stakeholders to find a “win-win” solution.

When asked if the conflict between local leaders was factor in the delay , Binay just laughed and said,” We will help them solve their problems.”

During his visit in Cebu, Binay appealed to urban poor settlers to reach a “happy compromise” with the province, which owns the land.

The occupants who had yet to settle their obligations said they wanted to buy the land at the 1993 level of less than P1,000 per square meter.

The beneficiaries repeated their proposal that they be allowed to continue paying by installment for the land even at six percent interest a year.

Out of 5,000 urban poor households occupying lots covered by Provincial Ordinance 93-1, 1,410 already paid their obligations in full to the Capitol.

Another 1,214 made partial payments. The Capitol suspended disposing of the lots when a 2004 deadline ended, and refused to accept payments from buyers.

Meanwhile two proposed ordinances aimed at providing benefits to housing beneficiaries are under study by the Cebu City Council.

The first is intended to grant transfer tax exemptions to housing beneficiaries who already paid their amortizations in full.

Councilor Alvin Dizon said this ordinance will assure Cebuanos of security of tenure.

“The city government gave transfer tax exemptions to fully paid socialized housing beneficiaries over the past few years but they have yet to pass an ordinance for this,” the ordinance read.

Dizon said tax exemption should be granted after the beneficiary procures a certificate of full payment from the City Treasurers Office and a certificate affirming his or her status as beneficiary from the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP).

Cebu City now has four socialized housing programs.

These are the city-owned rehabilitation of estates, city housing and acquisition of privately-owned lots, acquisition and disposition of relocation sites and the community mortgage program.

Dizon said the City Council can grant property owners exemptions from payment of transfer taxes, incentives and other reliefs.

He said the proposed ordinance will benefit thousands of housing beneficiaries.

Another ordinance would give owners of delinquent real properties confiscated by the city government a second chance to redeem their properties.

The draft ordinance stated that the one-year period for reclaiming property is insufficient since the owners still continue to occupy their lots.

Felizardo delos Angeles, head of the city's real property division, said the city government already sold P4 million out of P143 million worth of confiscated properties in a public auction held last May 27.

P-Noy, Asean execs to visit Cebu for City of Culture logo rites

By Doris C. Bongcac (Chief of Reporters)

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario and officials of Asean embassies are coming to Cebu City on July 15 for the installation of the Asean City of Culture logo.

The Cebu City Council approved on Wednesday the appropriation of P1.2 million to take care of the welcome lunch and the dinner for its guests – P940,000 and a cultural presentation which would be held at the Sinulog Hall of the Rizal Library to celebrate the event – P300,000.

“Cebu City is declared as such due to its vibrant creative industries, that have caught the attention of the National Asean Committee on Culture and Information and therefore is definitely a strong indication that Cebu City plays a significant role in the promotion of culture and heritage among Asean countries,” said Councilor Margot Osmeña, chairperson of the council's tourism committee.

ADB grant sought for Cebu City’s drainage

by Doris C. Bongcac (Chief of Reporters)

CEBU City Hall will apply for a grant to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to fund its half-a-billion-peso drainage master plan for the city.

“If we qualify for the grant, it may not reach P500 million. But it would be good enough to help the city implement its drainage master plan,” Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said.

Rama said Bo Varquez of the Cebu Investments Promotions Center (CIPC) and City Administrator Jose Mari Poblete are working to complete the city's requirements for the ADB under its Cities Development Initiative for Asia (ADB-CDIA).

The mayor told Cebu Daily News that City Engineer Kenneth Carmelita Enriquez and Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias, who chairs the City Council's infrastructure committee, consulted on what projects to prioritize for the ADB grant.

The Cebu City government also applied for a loan with the ADB to finance its proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) mass transport system.

Cebu City's drainage master plan include the construction of minidams, rainwater catchments, improvement of its drainage and water channels and desiltation of waterways.

The city already started dredging the Mahiga Creek in barangay Mabolo and will continue with a portion of the creek in sitio Lahing-lahing, located at the back of the sports complex.

The council approved last Wednesday the program of works and estimates for P12.5-million worth of drainage improvement projects for urban and rural barangays in the city.

This includes the implementation of a P4.3-million gabion construction in Lower Tac-an in barangay Budlaan and construction of a P3.9-million drainage system for V. Gullas Street.

Carcar plans to allot city IRA for infra work

by Oscar C. Pineda

WHEN it receives its internal revenue allotment as a city, Carcar plans to use its share of the National Government revenues on the construction of diversion roads and a public utility vehicle terminal, equipped with a public market.

City Mayor Nicepuro Apura said Carcar’s IRA will be about P273 million.

Carcar’s city status, together with 15 other new cities, has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) in its latest decision on the issue. The High Court, however, flip-flopped twice on its decision regarding the constitutionality of the cityhood of 16 towns.

Carcar’s IRA before it was first declared a city shot up from P75 million to P200 million in 2008.

Drop

Apura said in an interview that Carcar received its IRA as a city in January to April 2009. By May of the same year, their IRA fell to P58.9 million from about P94 million, following the Supreme Court’s reversal of its previous ruling.

Following the High Court’s latest decision on the cityhood of the 16 local government units, Budget Management Secretary Florencio Abad ordered the re-adjustment of their IRA.

Abad’s memorandum, dated June 27, said the adjustments will take effect next year yet.

The memorandum is posted on the Department of Budget Management (DBM) website.

Lawyer Estelito Men-doza, counsel of the 16 new cities, is preparing a request that the city IRA of the local government units be made retroactive to the time their upgraded status was approved by their residents.

Discipline

Amid all these, Apura called on Carcar residents to adopt discipline.

Carcar celebrated its fourth Charter Day as city yesterday.

When it became a city in 2007, Carcar declared its Charter Day to be July 7 (or 07-07- 07).

Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Cebu, first district), on the other hand, urged Carcar leaders to unite.

Humility

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, for her part, called on Carcaranons to remain humble even after the City’s “triumph.”

Abad’s memorandum computation of the IRA, resulting from court decisions issued this year, will be implemented in 2012. But it did not specify actions to be taken on the IRA of the 16 new cities that were affected by the SC’s earlier flip-flopping.

Aside from Carcar, the 16 new cities include Bogo and Naga, Cebu.

Gullas said the Supreme Court decided with finality last June 28 to declare the city status of the 16 constitutional. The decision was promulgated last July 4.

During the charter celebration, Garcia said that aside from Capitol’s P4 million assistance to Carcar, the Province will construct 10 classrooms for the Carcar City College.

The P8-million college was inaugurated yesterday with Garcia, Gullas, Carcar city and Provincial School Board officials as guests.

Gullas said the initial years of Carcar as a city is crucial to the development of the local government unit, so its leaders should be united.

He said Mayor Apura and Vice Mayor Patrick Barcenas should be united in the 2013 polls.

In May 2010, Apura and Barcenas belonged to different parties, although they supported Gullas and Garcia.

Apura and Barcenas, when sought for reaction, said they are willing to work together for the good of the city.

Mayor’s office sought council’s nod on MCDCB pact

IS IT a matter of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

Mayor Michael Rama had said he does not need the City Council’s authorization to sign the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on the creation of the Metro Cebu Development Coordination Board (MCDCB).

But in a letter dated June 27, the Office of the Mayor asked the City Council to adopt a resolution authorizing Rama to sign the MOA.

Rama, in a news conference yesterday, said he is not aware of the letter.

The letter written by Belinda Navascues, the mayor’s secretary, was addressed to City Councilor Edgardo Labella.

Check

“I will check on that (with Navascues) because I may not need to do that (ask for authority),” Rama said.

Labella endorsed Navascues’ letter to the council and the matter was included in the agenda of the legislative body’s regular session yesterday.

During the session, though, the council did not discuss the letter and only took note of it.

Last February, Rama along with 10 other mayors of Metro Cebu signed the memorandum creating the MCDCB.

The mayor had admitted signing it without getting a nod from the council, saying that he did so as mayor and it was only for “cooperation and coordination.”

No need

The mayor had also said there was no need for a go-signal from the local legislative body because the memorandum does not involve release of funds.

Asked if the council will sponsor a resolution giving Rama authority to enter into a MOA for the creation of the MCDCB, Councilor Margarita Osmeña said “there are just too many questions.”

Osmeña said the council needs to discuss the matter.

The MCDCB is composed of the Capitol, six cities, six municipalities, 14 line agencies and other government organizations, and seven heads of civil society and private sector organizations.

Integrated

The board is tasked to formulate integrated development strategies, policies and standards concerning urban planning, transport management, pollution and solid waste management, flood control, health sanitation, public safety, infrastructure development and environmental management, among others.

The City Council reminded Rama to seek approval from the body before signing any contracts.

The reminder came after the mayor signed the renewal of the contract for the rental of office space at the City Savings Financial Plaza by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA).

Rama said he does not need the council’s approval prior to signing contract renewals.

“You are allowed to sign (renewal of contracts) for as long as exigency requires. You need the permission of the council if you sign the contract for the first time,” he said.

The council has already approved the ratification of the contract of lease that the City entered into with PTA.

The City has been renting three rooms at the City Savings Financial Plaza on Osmeña Blvd. since February 2009 for the use of PTA.

PTA, who used to have an office at Fort San Pedro, was asked by the City to vacate the area as the City was constructing a museum at the Fort.


Comelec starts checking 30,000 Danao signatures

By Carmel Loise Matus(Correspondent)

A budget dispute, breakdown in services and questionable appointments were cited as grounds by barangay and city officials for their recall petition against Danao City Mayor Ramon “Boy” Durano Jr.

The provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday began the tedious process of verification of the 30,000 signatures of Danao City residents who signed the recall petition presented by Vice Mayor Ramon “Nito” Durano and the council last Monday.

“We are confident Comelec will act on the petition signed by 36 barangay captains with dispatch barring any dilatory tactic by the respondent’s lawyers,” Councilor Jorge John Cane said in a text message.

The petitioners cited among the mayor’s violations his directive threatening the council with criminal and administrative sanctions for not approving his proposed budget for calendar year 2011.

The council said the budget doesn’t reflect the city government's program and there were no consultations done with the budget committee.

They also complained about the failure to deliver financial and material assistance to some barangays.

The council cited the waterworks project in barangay Mantija, which was ordered closed by the mayor.

The council said the screening and hiring of employees was done at the mayor’s house in Mabini Street, barangay Poblacion in Danao City.

Among the appointments the council questioned were lawyer Gloria Lastimosa-Dalawampu as City Legal Officer.

League President Cynthia Mahinay was said to be absent during the signing and passage of the resolution by 35 out of 42 barangay captains.

Mayor Boy Durano said in a TV interview that the vice mayor and the council won't win against him.

“Even if they gang up on me, let's see who'll win,” he said.

Rama defends dropping casuals

by Chief of Reporters, Doris C. Bongcac, with Correspondent Edison delos Angeles

AT least six more workers, this time traffic enforcers, are ouf of a job after their contracts were not renewed by Cebu City Hall.

Mayor Michael Rama said their supervisors recommended their exit for reasons such as misconduct and abuses in the performance of their duties.

Last week, 15 workers of the Department of Welfare of the Urban Poor, suffered the same fate.

Rama said this was nothing to be surprised about.

He recalled that his predecessor, former mayor and now Rep. Tomas Osmeña, didn't renew appointments of over 600 employees upon his return to the mayor's office.

From July 1 to July 31, 2001, there were 794 employees who didn’t return after their contracts were not renewed, Rama said.

“For me to give my concurrence, you have to substantiate the recommendation for nonrenewal,” Rama said.

Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young questioned the timing of the mayor’s decision ,suggesting it was a form of political retaliation. Young said he doesn't question the mayor's authority not to renew the contracts so long as the decision removes nonperforming workers.

“The problem is he announced that he will do a loyalty check after he left the BO-PK. That already raises doubts,” Young said.

In yesterday’s press conference, City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) chief Rafael Yap said he recommended the nonrenewal of contracts of six traffic personnel because of misconduct, abuses in the performance of their works and accusations of corruption.

Most of them had served for five years.

They were no longer required to report for work starting July 1.

Yap said there is “strong information” that the six are engaged in a collection scheme where they receive money from motorists.

Aside from casuals, Rama has ordered the performance evaluation of City Hall consultants.

Cebu City Hall has 42 consultants. Most of them were hired by the past adminstration. Only nine were engaged by Rama.

These nine consultants rendered service to the mayor's office from January to June.

All, except one, receive P18,000 a month.

Only former councilor Nestor Archival, the mayor's consultant on environment, receivesa token P1 a year fee.

Rama said contract renewals depend on how they would rate in their performance evaluation.

“Consultancy is based on trust and confidence. During the time that there is no more trust, they will not be rehired as consultants,” he said.

Pending a review of their performance, consultants can continue to work for the service.

If they pass the evaluation and their consultancy contract is renewed, they would receive back payments.

Rama said he is unafraid of Young's threat that the council may give his office a hard time in renewing the contracts of his consultants in retaliation to the nonrenewal of the contracts of casuals. “Let's just wait when they oppose,” the mayor said.

Rama said he isn't firing anyone since he's only terminating contracts.

He said long before he left the BO-PK in June 2, he already planned not to renew the contracts of some DWUP employees.

“Even if the council didn't say it, I wasn't going to renew some consultants under my office. You must remember that most of those consultants are from the previous administration,” Rama said.


Adapt to environment, Cebu builders urged

By Candeze R. Mongaya (Reporter)

A RENOWNED architect called on Cebu's local government units (LGUs) to use “adaptive architecture” in their structures in order to mitigate flashfloods and other effects of climate change.

In a speech delivered in last week's Environment Congress, architect Felino Palafox Jr. said LGUs around the country should adopt eco-friendly practices in the construction of their buildings in recognition of the changing temperature and rising water levels.

Palafox made the call as proponents of the recent Road Revolution will hold activities today to reiterate their appeal for road reform in Cebu City.

Palafox, a noted ecology advocate, said the environment should be the center of all human activities to sustain a healthy earth.

“The LGUs don’t have budgets for pedestrians and sidewalks, but they have a budget for beauty contests,” he said.

He said the LGUs should be at the forefront in implementing green architecture for their constituents.

Palafox said there is a new trend in architecture called “vertical urbanism” where pedestrian lanes, sidewalks and establishments are elevated.

“Our cities are not ready for disasters,” Palafox said, citing garbage filled sewers that are vulnerable to sudden rises in water level especially during heavy rains.

He said mass transportation should be encouraged to reduce carbon emissions and traffic.

Fewer vehicles would mean more time for pedestrians in the streets.

“We design our roads for automobiles and not for pedestrians,” Palafox said, referring to the current road system in the country.

He said many houses and establishments in the country don't follow the required 20 meter easement zone from coastal areas and river banks.

For their part, Tara Rama of the Law of Nature Foundation said skaters would traverse the roads from Robinson’s mall to the Cebu City Sports Center to call for road closure and road division.

The activity is in tandem with their appeal for the approval of a road reform petition they submitted to the Cebu City council last June 12.

The proposal sought an allocation of 30 percent of the road to pedestrians, 30 percent to bike riders, 30 percent to collective transportation and 10 percent to road gardens.

Last June 12, the 2.5 kilometer stretch of Osmena Blvd was closed from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m for the Road Revolution program which gave room for the city's pedestrians and bicyclists to roam about freely in the area.

A solar, wind- and pedal-powered vehicle, the first in the country, was also used to transport pedestrians along Osmeña Boulevard.

The 18-foot vehicle reated by Cebuano engineer Bryan Yuson of the St James Academy can carry up to 10 passengers and has a capacity of one horsepower. It runs at a slow 20 kilometers per hour.

Vince Cinches of the 350.org cited a report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7) that recorded a drop in pollutants in Osmena Boulevard after it was closed to motor vehicles last June 12.

“Cebu city stakeholders including political leaders have high environmental awareness compared to other cities and municipalities,” Cinches said.


Bureau tightens watch on Taiwan’s foodstuff

By Elias O. Baquero

SOME food products from Taiwan may contain potentially harmful chemicals usually found in plastics, said a Bureau of Customs (BOC) official who ordered a closer watch on Taiwanese products.

District Collector Ronnie Silvestre of the Port of Cebu alerted the bureau to reports that some Taiwanese food products contained ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). Silvestre ordered bureau officials to hold in abeyance food products and food additives from Taiwan, unless these have a clearance from the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD).

Silvestre gave the order to Ahmed Erpe, deputy district collector for operations; lawyer Maximo Reyes, deputy district collector for assessment; Capt. Isidro Estrera, chief of the Enforcement and Security services (ESS); lawyer Rico Rey Holganza, chief of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS); Collector Paul Alcazaren of the Sub-Port of Mactan; and the chief of the X-Ray Inspection Project.

“The food products from Taiwan and other countries must be examined thoroughly by proper authorities to make sure that they are not contaminated or laced with chemicals that could affect the people’s health,” Silvestre said.

DEHP is harmless at low levels, according to a fact sheet form the United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

It said DEHP is usually found in plastic products like tablecloths, furniture upholstery, shower curtains and rainwear, among others.

Released

In a separate order, Silvestre released the Vietnamese vessel mv Dai Phat, after its operator paid US$63,000 as settlement with Visayan Agri-Trading Corp.

It was also fined P2,000.

Dai Phat was held at Cebu International Port for three weeks after it was found out that its delivery of 78,000 bags of rice as evidenced in the cargo manifest and bill of lading was short of 1,823 bags.

Customs broker Alvin Palapo and lawyer Ralph Sevilla, who represented Visayan Agri-Trading Philippines, received payment from the management of Dai Phat through its local representative, the Toledo Shipping Agency and Marine Services.

Ma. Lucia Rosales, the regional information officer of the National Food Authority (NFA) 7, said the Visayan Agri-Trading Philippines was awarded by the government the right to import 400,000 bags of rice equivalent to 20,000 metric tons.

Rosales said that the total volume of the firm’s rice imports that have arrived Cebu was already 347,920 as of June 1.

Verify tax payments, BIR reminds public

By Aileen Garcia-Yap(Reporter)

It pays for lot buyers, sellers and taxpayers to verify their payments to avoid being scammed by fixers, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said yesterday.

BIR Revenue District officer Evangeline Abanilla said this in the wake of the Balamban land tax scam where at least 100 lot sellers discovered that their payments for capital gains tax to the BIR were never received.

Bank deposit slips shown to them by municipal employees who were entrusted to remit the cash payments turned out to be fake.

The amount involved in the swindle was estimated to be at least P3 million based on initial findings of Balamban town officials..

A joint investigation is under way by the BIR regional and the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas.

“Always validate your transactions,” said Abanilla.

She said the possibility of being issued fake bank deposit slips by fixers is real because of advancements in technology and the lucrative real estate industry in Cebu.

Abanilla said some parties just send representatives to pay for their taxes without bothering to verify the actual payment.

In the Balamban case, at least two lot sellers discovered the discrepancy too late after checking with the BIR office in Mandaue City and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Capital gains tax is paid to the BIR by the seller from the sale of property.

The Balamban municipal assessor and two of her clerks were tapped by many residents to remit their tax payments to the BIR through deposits with the Land Bank of the Philippines branches in Metro Cebu.

However, this errand is not part of their official duties.

The full extent of the scam has still to be determined.

Abanilla said taxpayers can always check the BIR office database to see if their payments were updated.

“For the documents themselves like the receipts that are currently being investigated for the case in Balamban, we can't tell for sure just by looking at it because some really look so authentic. So what we do is validate that using our system here,” Abanilla said.

Abanilla said there were cases of some fake documents being forwarded to their office like a fake Certificate Authorizing Registration (CAR), which the BIR can validate right away with their system.

For the CAR forms, Abanilla said their office usually generates a separate document called OCN, which serves as a clearance each time they create an authentic CAR form that can be used as one way of telling if the form is indeed authentic.

“For those purchasing property we usually ask requirements before they come to us to apply for CAR. Then they go to the municipal assessor's office, which will issue their new tax declaration,” Abanilla said.

Abanilla said there are more than 20 banks, including Land Bank of the Philippines, authorized to receive tax payments to the BIR.

Taxpayers are given receipts and a bank deposit slip that can be used for validation, she said.

“After they have completed payments to their developers, they can also come to us and validate their transactions. That's always the best way. Always validate and follow the correct processes,” Abanilla said.

Abanilla received the memorandum from BIR Regional Director Jose N. Tan directing her to investigate the Balamban incidents and coordinate with the bureau's Legal Department and the Special Investigations Department.

“I will meet with my staff on Monday. We’ll form a five-member investigation team, which I will head,” she said.

Abanilla said they will ask the Balamban municipal government to provide the BIR a list of other complainants.

So far two complainants have executed affidavits.

More than 100 upset lot sellers and buyers went to the Balamban municipal hall on June 15 to demand answers after discovering that fake deposit forms were used by those who were supposedly helping them complete the sale of property.

The municipal assessor and two staffers were asked to go on leave by the mayor. They reported back to work last but were reassigned to different offices.

Mayor Ace Binghay referred the matter to the Civil Service Commission for investigation. He said he wanted to avoid doubts that a local inquiry would be biased.

The BIR regional office and Visayas Ombudman’s Office announced they would conduct their own investigation after reading about the Balamban scam in Cebu Daily News although the BIR Mandaue district had already been visited by complainants.


Councilors will attend Soca - Earlier plan to skip dropped in favor of fulfilling ‘official function’

By Doris C. Bongcac, Chief Of Reporters

Expect a bigger attendance in today's State of the City Address (Soca) of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young said he and 14 Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) councilors agreed during a fellowship dinner on Wednesday to attend the mayor’s Soca after all.

“We decided to attend the Soca because we just want to find out what the mayor has to say,” he said.

“Majority of the councilors said that they are attending the Soca also because it is an official function,” said Young.

Councilor Alvin Dizon in an earlier interview said the “majority” of councilors would just send staff members on their behalf to the Soca.

City Hall employees and urban poor groups were asked to attend the mayor’s Soca in a June 28 memorandum from the Office of City Administrator Jose Mari Poblete.

City Hall employees were told to wear white T-shirts or blouses.

“Attendance is a must,” the memo read.

Notices were posted in the civil registrar's office informing the public that work would be suspended this afternoon and that the office “will be back in operation on Monday.”

The Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor sent written invitations to urban poor groups for the Soca.

“There will be Kaoshiung buses that will ferry you back and forth from the area to the venue. Pickup time is 1 p.m. at your place,” said the letter.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said his critics should let him deliver his Soca before they rate his first year in office.

“Wait first. I haven’t even spoken yet. How can they issue a grade when I have not yet given my Soca?”’

He said that his address, expected to last about 45 minutes, would discuss the accomplishments of his year-old administration, what he is doing now and what he intends to do next year.

Rama said he wanted everyone to listen to his Soca because “it is everybody’s.”

He denied compelling City Hall employees and urban poor groups to attend.

He said he did not order the suspension of work in City Hall offices on Friday afternoon.

Government employees are encouraged to attend the Soca but a skeletal force would be left to make sure that important City Hall offices would remain open to the public.

Among those invited to the Soca are Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and members of the Regional Development Council, which Rama chairs.

“I hope she will come,” the mayor said, referring to Garcia.

He said he was also hopeful that Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district, Vice Mayor Young and council members would also be around.

“They can come if they have time. I hope they received their invitations.”