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Vol. XIX No. 169


June 19, 2007


Overwhelming ‘Yes’ votes in Baybay, Catbalogan cityhood plebiscites


TACLOBAN CITY – The Commission on Elections in Eastern Visayas has declared the towns of Baybay in Leyte and Catbalogan in Samar as new cities after the registered voters of these towns ratified in a plebiscite held Saturday on their cityhood bids.

Lawyer Adolfo Ibanez, Comelec regional director, said that “the outcome was overwhelming” on the plebiscites held separately in Baybay and Catbalogan.

Citing the results, out of Baybay’s 52,064 registered voters, 25,188 of them trooped to the town’s 262 polling precincts.  And of this number, 23,422 voted “yes” or 92.99 percent while only 1,634 voted “no”.

In the case of Catbalogan, 26,765 registered voters joined the plebiscites with 25,426 of them voted yes (92.99 percent) while only 1,339 voted no.  The 238 year old local government unit has a total of 48,540 registered voters.

Ibanez told Leyte Samar Daily Express that the plebiscites conducted separately in Baybay and Catbalogan were “peaceful and orderly”.

“There was no problem encountered during the plebiscites in Baybay and in Catbalogan,” he stressed.

The favorable outcome of the plebiscites in Baybay and Catbalogan was welcomed by officials of the two towns which formally joined the number of cities in the region composed of six provinces.

At present, the region has four cities, namely Ormoc and Tacloban, both in Leyte; Calbayog in Samar and Maasin in Southern Leyte.

“We welcome the fact that our town is now a city.  This means, we can now further serve our people by giving more services and projects to their benefits,” Councilor Ernesto Butawan of Baybay, in a telephone interview, told Express.

He said that with the creation of  the town, home of one of the country’s leading agricultural schools (Leyte State College), its income is expected to increase coupled with the anticipation of new investments to come in.

In fact, its share of internal revenue allotment will increase by “more than triple”, Butawan said.  At present, Baybay receives around P84 million for its annual IRA share.

“But with Baybay now a city, we stand to receive P305 million for our IRA which we can use for our development projects…” the councilor said.

Meantime, Merly Muņoz, Spokesperson of Catbalogan Mayor Coefredo Uy, said that all officials of the town were happy for the overwhelming support from the people “Our Mayor will also pay a courtesy call to all the senators and the President for making our dream to become a city realized,” she told Express.

The IRA share of the town, which is expected to increase, will be used for more development-related projects and programs.  At present, the town has P77 million IRA share.

With Catbalogan now a city, it is projected to receive from the national government around P210 million as its IRA share. (Joey A. Gabieta)

Vol. XIX No. 170


June 20, 2007


DAR land distribution in EV now over 300,000 hectares


TACLOBAN CITYThe Department of Agrarian Reform in Eastern Visayas revealed that for the past 19 years, it has distributed more than 300,000 hectares of agricultural lands that benefited over 195,900 farmers.

Joel Alsmith Soria, regional information officer, said that based on their projected agricultural land that could be subject for distribution under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program of the government, the land distributed to the farmers represented around 74 percent accomplishment.

“This is rather a satisfactory performance in so far as the implementation of the CARP in the region,” Soria told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

Based on the projection of the DAR-8, around 432,777 hectares covering in all of the region’s six provinces, the agency has so far distributed 319,604 hectares of agricultural lots that benefited 195,965 farmers who were issued of their own land titles.

For the past 19 years of the implementation of the CARP, 133,801 hectares out of the projected 232,192 hectares in Leyte were placed under the program which benefited 96,091 farmers.  In Biliran, 12,333 hectares of land were distributed to 9,788 farmers; 16,634 hectares of agricultural lands in Southern Leyte were distributed to 10,491 farmers.

Meantime, in Samar province, 61,314 hectares of land were given to 27,553 farmers and 21,879 farmers were given their own lots covering 49,481 hectares in Northern Samar.  In Eastern Samar, of the 46,041 hectares of lands placed under the program, 30,145 farmers were given their own land titles.

The DAR regional office has no available data as to how was paid by the government to land owners in the course of the implementation of the program for the last 19 years now.

The funds allocated, around P100 billion, for the CARP was sourced from the sequestered alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their associates.

It was learned from Soria with the decision of the Arroyo Administration to extend the implementation of the program for another ten years, their agency has projected around 130,000 hectares of land that could be placed under the program.

Earlier, President Macapagal-Arroyo announced her plan to extend the implementation of the program for more 10 years to push the development of more agrarian reform communities nationwide.  The program is to end by next year.

Zenaida Parama, in-charge of the inventory of lands that could be subjected for land distributions under the program, said that unlike in the first years of the CARP implementation, resistance among land owners appears to have waned.

“This helps, no doubt, for us to implement the program hassle-free.  Before, there was strong resistance among land owners, especially the hacienda owners.  But for now, “ she said.

But she admitted that they have several cases wherein a farmer-beneficiary sells his right to others.

Parama said that this situation defeats the very purpose of the program which gives landless farmers a land for them to till and own.

“We have several pending cases regarding this issue,” she said, without giving the necessary figures.

Under the program, agricultural land of five hectares can be subject for land distribution unless the land owner has children who are actually tilling the lands.  Farmers that benefit the program are given a maximum three hectares of land. (Joey A. Gabieta – Staff Writer)


DOH launches massive info drive to prevent dengue fever upsurge


PALO, Leyte – Alarmed by 132 reported dengue fever cases in Eastern Visayas this year, the Department of Health (DOH) regional office has started its massive information drive to the public to prevent more outbreaks these rainy days.

Teogenes Baluma, DOH regional director, told Leyte Samar Daily Express that the reported incidents are alarming and there’s really a need to “extend extra efforts” to make the public aware of the importance of prevention, early consultation and treatment.

Out of the 132 reported cases as of last month, 93 were in Leyte province, 20  in Eastern Samar, seven in Samar, six in Southern Leyte, five in Biliran and one in Northern Samar.  The 75 cases in Leyte came from Tacloban City.

Victims of this acute infectious disease in Region 8 from January to May this year were 6 months to 49 year-old wherein 62% were males.

Baluma said that the number of incidents in the past five months did not create uneasiness to health officials since there were no weeks with very high number of cases.

Despite the prevailing problem, there were no reported deaths on dengue fever in Eastern Visayas for the past two years, according to Baluma.

The DOH regional chief said in an interview that since early this month, they have distributed thousands of reading materials to field offices throughout the region to increase the public’s level of awareness.

The health department has also mad materials for information dissemination through print and broadcast media.

“This is to prepare for the rainy season to stop the upsurge of dengue fever.  We need to increase public knowledge to destroy breeding places of dengue carrying mosquitoes,” he said.

TO maintain the zero fatality from dengue fever outbreak, the DOH regional office has allocated P600,000 funds for procurement of medicines for health emergencies aside from the regular supply from the DOH central office.

“We have been preparing for health emergencies especially as rainy season comes into the region.,” Baluma added.

Dengue fever is an acute infectious disease manifested initially with fever.  Aedes aegypti, the transmitter of the disease, is a day-biting mosquito which lays eggs in clear and stagnant water found in flower vases, cans, rain barrels, old rubber tires, etc.  The adult mosquitoes rest in dark places of the house.

Symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of high fever which may last 2 to 7 days.

Joint and muscle pains, pain behind the eyes, body weakness, skin rashes, maculopapular rash or red tiny spots on the skin, nose-bleeding when fever starts to subside, abdominal pain, vomiting of coffe-colored matter and dark-colored stools.

Outbreak could be prevented by covering water drums and water pails at all times to stop mosquitoes from breeding, replace water in flower vases once a week, clean all water containers once a week including scrubbing the sides well to remove eggs of mosquitoes sticking to the sides.

The public is advised to clean gutters of leaves and debris so that rain water will not collect as breeding places of mosquitoes, old tires used as roof support should be punctures or cut to avoid accumulation of water and collect and dispose all unusable tin cans, jars, bottles and other items that can collects and hold water.  (Sarwell Q. Meniano)


Tacloban parish priest denounces ‘commercialism’ of fiesta celebration


TACLOBAN CITY – The parish priest of the Santo Niņo Church, Msgr. Benjamin Bacierra, denounced the “commercialism” that prevails during the celebration of the city fiesta.

But while he bewailed the prevailing commercialism of the celebration, Bacierra grudgingly admitted that the June 29-30 celebration would not be “festive” without the holding of commercially-laden activities.

“They are making the occasion as a splendid marketing strategy,” the parish priest of the Santo Niņo Church said in a recently-held weekly media forum “Express it at the Park” held at the Leyte Park Resort.

Bacierra noted that for the past years now, the city fiesta, which honors Seņor Santo Niņo, has been commercialized which, he said, has somehow relegated the religious aspect of the occasion.

But still, he admitted that non-religious aspect of the occasion.

But still, he admitted that non-religious activities held during the fiesta could not be possible without the support of the business establishments.

For his part, Alex Montejo, hermano mayor of this year’s 118th fiesta celebration, said that while he admitted that commercialism has pervaded the occasion, he perfectly understand while business establishments are taking advantage of the situation.

“If you are in the business, you will employ every possible strategy to sell your products and one of which is during occasions where most people congregates…” Montejo, in the same media forum, said.

Eugene Tan, president of the Pintados Foundation, which spearheads the cultural celebration of the fiesta, together with the office of Rep. Remedios “Matin” Petilla who initiated the Kasadyaan Festival, said that the religious aspect of the celebration is not being forgotten.

He said that one of the reasons why the cultural activities are being held days before the city fiesta is to make sure that on the day of the fiesta itself, June 30, all celebrations will be focus on the Child Jesus.

Meantime, Montejo said that he was deeply honored that he was this year’s hermano mayor and that it was his way of paying “homage” to the Holy Child who “blessed” him so much.

“I am blessed.  It is just pay back time for me.  I am very grateful to the Holy Child,” he stressed. (Sarwell Q. Meniano)