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Cebu local news (daily update)

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    10-day extension given for affidavits

    CEBU, Philippines - The members of the Cebu Provincial Board involved in the alleged anomalous purchase of the Balili property received a ten-day extension to file their counter-affidavits before the Office of the Ombudsman.

    However, Vice Governor Gregorio Sanchez, who is presently on leave, is set to file his counter-affidavit on Monday, the deadline set by the anti-graft office, said his counsel Oliveros Kintanar.

    Kintanar did not ask for any extension to file the counter-affidavit of Sanchez.

    Board member and acting Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said that the PB members involved asked for the extension because they shall only submit one affidavit to be signed by all except Sanchez and former board member Juan Bolo who have different charges to face.

    Bolo said he has already filed his counter-affidavit last Thursday before the Ombudsman-Visayas.

    Bolo said that his role, participation and involvement in the purchase of the property were to negotiate, facilitate, monitor and assist in the transfer of ten titles to the name of the Province of Cebu with the authority of the governor.

    In a manifestation filed by one of the complainants, Crisologo Saavedra, he said that Sanchez is not part of the transaction as he was just presiding the PB session when the resolution authorizing Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to purchase the property was taken up.

    Saavedra said that when the resolution was amended in the succeeding session, Sanchez was acting governor and the presiding officer was PB Member Victor Maambong.

    Bolo and nine others will be charged separately for allegedly “conspiring and confederating with each other in the purchase of a land which is classified as timberland”.

    Provincial Legal Officer Marino Martinquilla believes the counter-affidavit of the governor has been prepared already by her lawyer. He said he cannot act as governor’s counsel in this case except in cases where the Province of Cebu is the party involved.

    The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered Garcia, PB members led by Sanchez and other Capitol officials and employees involved in the purchase of the Balili property to submit their counter-affidavits within ten days.

    The order of the Preliminary Investigation and Administrative Adjudication Bureau of the anti-graft body dated March 16 was received by the respondents last April 6.

    The Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office of the Ombudsman Visayas found basis to upgrade into criminal and administrative cases an anonymous complaint filed against Garcia, Sanchez and the members of the PB over the purchase of the Balili property in Barangay Tinaan Naga City.

    In an evaluation report released November last year, the anti-graft body said the government paid P78.6 million for submerged lots. Capitol paid a total of P99 million for the 24.9-hectare property.

    The evaluation report said the governor ought to face a criminal case for entering into a contract “which is manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government” in violation of Section 3(g) of Republic Act 3019, or The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    A separate criminal case for gross inexcusable negligence against the governor, vice governor and 12 PB members over the absence of a feasibility study and “a thorough verification of the area to be purchased, taking into consideration the huge amount involved.”

    The PB members at the time of the Balili land purchase in 2008 were Agnes Magpale, Victor Maambong, Peter John Calderon, Julian Daan, Wilfredo Caminero, Jose Ma. Gastardo, Rose Marie Durano, Joven Mondigo Jr., Wenceslao Gakit, Alfred Francis Ouano, Teresita Celis and Bea Mercede Calderon. (FREEMAN)

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    Cebu Province 2nd in most constructions for Q4 2010

    CEBU, Philippines - The National Statistics Office announced that Cebu Province, including Cebu City and the other highly-urbanized and component cities, ranked second among all provinces nationwide in the number of construction projects for the fourth quarter of 2010.

    Central Visayas also ranked third with 2,947 construction projects, representing 12.9 percent of the 22,879 new construction projects nationwide during the same period.

    Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he was happy when he got the news saying it will encourage more investors to establish their businesses in Cebu, particularly Cebu City.

    Although it was not clearly stated in the report, Rama said everybody knows that most of the new building constructions, either residential or commercial, are in Cebu City.

    The NSO said the new construction projects nationwide during the months of October, November and December last year went down to 22,879 from 30,325 during the same period in 2009.

    Of all regions, CALABARZON or the Region 4-A consistently remained highest in terms of the number of construction projects with 4,804, followed by the National Capital Region with 3,219 and Central Visayas with 2,947.

    In the provincial level, Cavite has the most number of construction projects at 1,718 closely followed by Cebu with 1,627.

    According to the NSO the total value of all registered construction projects during the fourth quarter last year grew by 16 percent or P47.8 billion from only P41.2 billion during the same period in 2009.

    The report showed that the new construction projects in Central Visayas, including those in Cebu City, during the last quarter of 2010 reached P3.4 billion.

    The report of NSO is based on the approved building permit applications because under the National Building Code the National Statistics Office is entitled to a copy of the permit for proper monitoring, meaning building constructions without approved permits are excluded in the tabulation of data. (FREEMAN)

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    Councilmen want seat in ABC Board

    CEBU, Philippines - The Barangay Councilor’s League of the Philippines is asking the Association of Barangay Councils to grant their president a permanent seat in the ABC Board as ex-officio member.

    This as former Cebu City North District congressman Raul del Mar also supported the move of the BCLP, which is composed of 560 barangay councilmen of the 80 barangays in the city.

    Del Mar, who was one of the guests during the strategic planning conducted by the Human Resources Development of Cebu City Hall yesterday, said the BCLP should have a voice in the ABC for better progress and development in the barangays.

    “Kinahanglan naa mo’y representative kay dili ra man na Association of Barangay Captains kun dili Association of Barangay Councils,” Del Mar said.

    Barangay councilmen Jonilo Yap and Joel Sadaya, who proposed passing a resolution, said if they have representation in the ABC, more development and projects will be served.

    “There is a need for the ABC Board to have at least one representation coming from the BCLP…to foster unity and cooperation among the 560 barangay councilors and 80 barangay captains,” they said.

    In the strategic planning, the BCLP also asked Mayor Michael Rama to continue extending financial assistance to the organization for the barangay sports development and promotion for barangays and other services and activities.

    The BCLP is headed by Kasambagan barangay councilman Franklyn Ong.

    Ong said that Rep. Tomas Osmeņa already pledged financial assistance to the BCLP for sports development and promotion.

    Last July 8, 2008, the BCLP and the Cebu City government entered into a Memorandum of Agreement for the granting of financial assistance in the amount of P3,000,000 to the BCLP for its barangay sports development and promotion. (FREEMAN)

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    Rama still undecided on postponement

    CEBU, Philippines - While the scheduled clearing of illegal structures in Mahiga Creek on April 27 is fast approaching, Cebu City Hall had received several requests from the affected residents to postpone the operation.

    “Ang mayor ra g’yud ang makahukom kon iya ba nga lugwayan ang pagpangguba sa mga illegal structures. Kami igo lang motuman sa order gikan sa mayor,” said Noel Artes, head of the City Hall’s Squatters Prevention Encroachment Elimination Division (Speed). (Only the mayor can decide on that, we will only do what he says.)

    The FREEMAN asked Mayor Michael Rama whether he will grant the request of the illegal dwellers along the river bed and the three-meter radius from Mahiga Creek, but the mayor said he will talk first with City Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias.

    Cabarrubias was designated as the head of the project to clear the rivers of illegal structures, including those built within the three-meter radius from the creek or rivers.

    Artes said there are 147 illegal houses constructed along the river bed and within the three-meter easement of the Mahiga Creek in barangay Mabolo that are scheduled to be demolished April 27.

    “Daghan kaayo mi og nadawat nga mga hangyo nga iuswag lang ang pagpangguba sa mga balay. Ang uban migamit g’yud og mga abogado aron pagpugong sa demolition, apan ang mayor ra gayud ang makahukom,” Artes said. (We received a lot of requests from residents, some of whom coursed their appeal through their lawyers.)

    The illegal structures that are scheduled to be destroyed by SPEED are located in five sitios of barangay Mabolo - San Isidro, APM, Back Pepsi, Magtalisay, Sindulan and New Frontier.

    According to Artes, they already issued notices to vacate to families living in the danger zone. The families, however, continue to ignore the notices.

    Artes said there is no need to secure a court order to demolish the illegal structures because these are considered public nuisance under the National Building Code.

    Mahiga Creek is the waterway that passes through barangays Kasambagan and Mabolo. It starts from sitio Rotunda in barangay Banilad beside the Maria Luisa Park and snakes it way through Kasambagan, Subangdaku and Mabolo. (FREEMAN)

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    Passengers warned to be wary of thieves

    CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) is encouraging passengers to be cautious of their belongings despite the increase in the number of policemen deployed in the facility during the Lenten season.

    CSBT Local Revenue Collection Officer Carmen Quijano said they are asking the passengers to be careful and to be vigilant against snatchers and thieves.

    Quijano said they are expecting more than 10,000 passengers on Wednesday and more than 16,000 passengers on the following days.

    With this, she said it would not be easy for them and the police to spot suspicious individuals.

    She said that in the past holiday rush, some passengers just left their bags unguarded at the terminal premises. She also warns passengers to refrain from using their cellular phones in public because it will attract snatchers.

    Cebu Provincial Planning and Development Office Chief Adolfo Quiroga said they will be deploying two teams, with eight men each, from the Cebu Provincial Police Office and the Special Reaction Unit to ensure the safety of the passengers as well as to monitor the peace and order at the terminal.

    Quiroga said they expect to collect around P50,000 per day in terminal fees on Wednesday, and more on Thursday and Friday when people go to their hometowns for the long weekend. (FREEMAN)

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    Kepco to contain dust permanently

    CEBU, Philippines - Representatives from the Korean-Salcon Power Corporation (KSPC) assured that long-term mitigating measures will be in place by the end of this month.

    They made the assurance at a multi-tripartite monitoring team meeting held at the Naga City Hall.

    Reinerio Lastimoso, KSPC’s spokesperson, said they’ve been working on this as ordered by the City Government and Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

    Garcia earlier ordered the firm to build a permanent structure surrounding the plant after residents in the area complained of coal dust emissions during the transfer of coal from the conveyor to the coal yard.

    Last month, Mayor Valdemar Chiong issued a cease and desist order against the plant’s coal transfer activity.

    This, however, was lifted shortly after KSPC assured that there would be no more dust emission in its operation.

    Yesterday, residents of barangay North Poblacion, the plant’s immediate neighbor, said they no longer see dark dust in the air after KSPC used a canvass to enclose the area to serve as temporary windbreaker.

    By the end of this month, however, Lastimoso said the whole property will be enclosed with a fence about 10 meters high and a net as roofing to ensure that all dust is confined.

    Also, the planting of Indian trees around the area has been started. Leaves of these trees will then serve as windbreaker once they grow.

    The DENR is expected to call for a quarterly meeting to monitor KSPC’s activities. (FREEMAN)

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    Two hurt in Toledo fire

    CEBU, Philippines - A police officer and a house owner were injured during an early morning fire in barangay Kabituonan, Toledo City yesterday.

    Toledo City Councilor Leo Dolino almost lost all of his house to the blaze. Forferio Dolino was not as lucky, as his house was razed to the ground.

    Senior Police Officer 1 Emmanuel Ilihay from Toledo Police Station suffered from a wound in his leg after climbing the perimeter fence of the house to try to pass the water hose to his companion.

    Forferio also had first degree burns in his left hand and nape when he tried to save their belongings from inside the house.

    About seventy-five percent of the office owned by Leo Dolino, including important documents, was burned.

    The Toledo City Fire Station received the alarm about 6:45 in the morning. It was raised to second alarm and controlled within 10 minutes. The blaze was totally put out about 8:00 in the morning.

    Senior Inspector Randy Mendaros, Toledo City fire marshal, said the fire started in the room owned by Forferio.

    When smoke started coming out from the room, Forferio shouted for help, prompting his neighbors to call the fire station.

    Forferio claimed that all their appliances were not in use when the incident happened. Mendaros suspects that the fire started from their main switch.

    “Didto possible nagsugod ang kayo sa linya sa kuryente sa iyang plangka kay karaan naman sad gud,” Mendaros told The FREEMAN.

    Authorities estimated the total damage at P300,000.

    Four fire trucks from Toledo City responded as well as two other fire trucks from Pinamungajan and Balamban. (FREEMAN)

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    800 street children join summer camp

    CEBU, Philippines - Eight hundred children under the umbrella of the Cebu City Task Force on Street Children were treated to fun-filled lessons and activities at the Matutinao Elementary School in Badian, southern Cebu.

    The six-day camp, which started last Monday, is aimed at giving the children the opportunity to have happy childhood memories like any other children.

    Most of them were victims of physical or sexual abuse, abandonment, trafficking and other traumatic experiences.

    This is the 22nd summer camp organized by the task force.

    Letting the children explore and develop their own skills will help them gain enough confidence that would eventually lead them to develop a strong bond with other children, says Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeņa.

    The event had 30 facilitators, themselves former victims of abuse when they were streetchildren.

    The facilitators, aged 14-18 years old, supervised the younger ones. They were the ones who planned and conducted the activities.

    Redentor Betito, program coordinator, said they allow the children to do this so they would be able to develop their leadership skills.

    The task force serves as their guardian and provides security for the children while in Badian.

    Part of the summer camp is counseling which allows the children to talk about their traumatic experiences and find ways to overcome these.

    Stephen Deno of the Community Scout Youth Guidance Center (CSYGC) and one of the facilitators said that being with children like them who are victims of abuse is easy. It is mingling and opening up with other “normal kids” that is difficult.

    But with enough effort and encouragement from their facilitators, whom they consider their “Kuya” and “Ate,” will eventually let the younger children realize that it is alright to say anything they want and to do the things they enjoy doing.

    Stephen said there’s a need to explain to the children the importance of cooperating and being involved with the group to realize their worth.

    Romulo Velasquez, a social worker, told The FREEMAN that the children enjoyed the summer camp because it was conducted near the sea. They were also allowed to go to the famous Kawasan Falls in Badian.

    The children played native games like “siatong”, “bato-lata”, and “takyan”.

    They were also given discussion on safety such as in crossing the streets, reading traffic signs, and others that will help them in everyday living. (FREEMAN)

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    Talamban and San Nicolas to stage Holy Week plays

    CEBU, Philippines - For the first time, Talamban Parish in Cebu City will present the “Sugat” and “Pasos” during the Holy Week as a way of conveying the message of Lent.

    Meanwhile, the Cebu City Government and the Buhing Pasko Association Inc. will present “Buhing Kalbaryo” this Good Friday at the San Nicolas Parish Church.

    “Pasos” is the procession of images of people who witnessed the execution of Jesus – the statues of Sta. Maria Cleofe, Sta. Maria Jacobi, Sta. Maria Salome, San Pedro, San Longino, Sta. Maria Magdalena, San Juan Apostle, San Entiero and the Mater Dolores.

    According to Father Dennis Ruizo of the Talamban Parish, it’s the first time for Talamban to have this activity.

    The Talamban Parish will dramatize their “Sugat” using the nine statues mentioned, along with 50 children who will act as singing angels. This will be held after a mass, at 12:00 midnight.

    Fr. Ruizo said their theme for the Holy Week celebration is “To bring God closer to people and to bring people closer to God.”

    “It will give an idea na bisan wala kay access sa Bible ug wa ka magsimba-simba at least during good Friday you have something visible na mulabay sa imong atubangan sa unsa jud nahitabo sa Ginoo,” he said.

    The activities for the Holy Week will start on Palm Sunday. After the mass at 7:00 a.m., a Lenten Exhibit will be opened to the devotees at Saint Rita Hall in Tabor Hill. The exhibit would include the ‘Pasos’ collections of Dr. Louie Nacorda.

    On Wednesday, there will be a procession of the image of the Jesus of Nazarene from Tabor Hill down to Saint Thomas Community at 7:00 am.

    On Good Friday, the ‘Pasos’ will start after the liturgical action and veneration of the cross. In San Nicolas, the “Buhing Kalbaryo” of Jesus Christ will be presented on Good Friday at 10:30 a.m., an annual event that was started in 1998. The Buhing Kalbaryo would portray the life and crucifixion of Christ and to be performed mostly by out-of-school youth.

    Achilles Modequillo, director of the play, said this is his first time to direct a Lenten presentation where he faced the challenge of molding the performers.

    This Monday at the Fuente Osmeņa, a “Pasyon sa Krus” will be held at the Fuente Osmeņa from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. by a militant group.

    In a press statement, Panaghugpong Kadamay Cebu Secretary General Socrates Rota Pepino said they would want to “nail” what they called as the social sin, which they think is the cause of poverty and oppression of Filipinos. (FREEMAN)

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    Girl rescued in Kamagayan raid

    CEBU, Philippines - Policemen rescued a girl and arrested two alleged pimps during an entrapment operation in Barangay Kamagayan, Cebu City Thursday night.

    Operatives of the City Intelligence Branch (CIB) arrested Ricardo Ramos, 53, and his wife Myrna, 48. A third suspect, a woman, was not around during the operation.

    Chief Insp. Romeo Santander, who heads CIB, said they immediately carried out the operation after they were sought for help by an organization, which conducted surveillance on the suspects.

    The 9 p.m. operation was done in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development-7, Santander said.

    During the raid, 16-year-old Lea (real name withheld because her being a minor and the nature of her case), who hails from Leyte, was rescued and is now in DSWD’s custody.

    Apart from their fight against human trafficking in the city, Santander said, the group was determined to rescue the girl after learning that she is suffering from a disease. But it was not known if she acquired the disease from sexual intercourse.

    Through surveillance, it was learned that the couple, who owns a videoke house, allows customers to drink beer inside and later introduced the girl to them.

    Santander said they sent a decoy to transact with the couple.

    During the operation, the decoy handed over a P2,000 marked money to Ricardo, who then turned over Lea to him.

    It was at this moment that Ricardo and his wife were immediately arrested.

    Surveillance further showed that the girl is “in demand” to male customers. She allegedly receives P500 from the couple every after the “job.”

    Santander said the couple has the most number of women pimped in the barangay, their latest mode of operation was by contacting their customers through a text message.

    The couple, in an interview with The FREEMAN, denied being pimps. They said they are doing a legal business through their videoke house.

    Ricardo said he was sleeping when police suddenly arrested him. Myrna, on the other hand, said the police just commanded her to hold a wad of papers.

    A case for violation of the Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Human Trafficking Law is now being prepared against the suspects. (FREEMAN)

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