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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Experimental Number-Coding Scheme Para sa Yellow Jeepneys, Inilatag

Nagsagawa ng open forum sa pagitan ng Office of Traffic Management and Public Safety (OTMPS) at ng operators ng J-01 at J-o11 yellow jeepneys sa FMA Hall nagyong ika-31 ng Agosto, 2006.

Sa atas ni Mayor James Bong Gordon Jr. ay inilatag ni Col.Jerry Adique ang number-coding scheme na pinagralan ng OTMPS na makatutulong sa maayos na daloy ng trapiko sa Rizal Avenue hanggang R. M. Drive.

Ang experimental number-coding scheme na ito ay isasagawa sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng nakatakdang araw sa mga jeepneys base sa kanilang body number. Ayon sa iskemang ito, 50 jeepneys ang magpapahinga sa pagpasada sa isang araw upang gumaan ang daloy ng trapiko. Isang day-off ang ibibigay sa mga yellow jeepneys sa isang linggo upang mabigyan ng pagkakataon na macheck-up ang kondisyon ng mga jeepneys at makapagpahinga ang mga drivers.

Nabuo ang konseptong ito sa layunin na mapabuti ang daloy ng trapiko at mapaganda rin ang kita ng mga drivers at operators. “ Mas lalaki ang pagkakataon nyong kumita ng malaki kung aayusin natin ang schedule ng pagpasada ng mga jeepneys,” wika ni Col. Adique sa mga operators ng dilaw na jeepneys.

Nagbigay ng mensahe si Mayor Bong Gordon sa nasabing pulong at pinagbigyan din ang opinyon ng mga operators. Malaya namang nakapagparating ng mga hinaing ang mga operators.

Samantala, ayon sa napagkasunduan ng OTMPS at ng mga operators, ipatutupad ang experimental number-coding scheme upang masubukan ang effectiveness nito sa lansangan.

Para sa mga paglilinaw at karagdagang detalye sa itatakdang araw ng implementasyon ng iskemang ito makipag-ugnayan lamang kay Col. Jerry Adique sa OTMPS sa Olongapo City Hall.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

SBMA exec debunks reports of oil slick in Subic's waters

An official of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has denied reports of an oil slick off Grande Island here that came out over the weekend.

"There is no oil slick in the waters of Subic Bay," SBMA Senior Deputy Administrator for Operations Jose Calimlim said Tuesday after making a thorough inspection off the coast of Grande Island where the oil slick reportedly originated.

Calimlim further pointed out that what they saw was scattered debris of garbage which appeared to have drifted in during the past few days.

He added that there was only presence of oil in thin layers that came along with the garbage.

"The oil sheen that we spotted was very thin and was possibly part of the debris that was floating around," Calimlim said.

The SBMA official gave his assurance that the oil-slicked garbage and debris washed back and forth by tidal action between the shores and rivers of the Freeport and nearby Olongapo will be attended to by concerned authorities in SBMA, which include the Seaport, Ecology and Maintenance Department.

Calimlim was accompanied by Deputy Administrator for Port Operations Percival Subala and Seaport General Manager Perfecto Pascual aboard the MV Binictican to patrol the Bay and make a quick inspection of the area.

The MV Binictican is an oil skimming vessel whose equipment has been loaned out to the Philippine Coast Guard to help clean up the massive oil spill along the Guimaras coastline.

Pascual said they have ordered the dispatch of garbage collector-type ships to help recover the floating debris of garbage.

"Our garbage collecting ships like the MV Binictican and utility boats like the MV Maritan have already been dispatched for clean-up drives. This is a concerted effort to preserve the bay," he noted.

Calimlim has also called on other SBMA departments and officials to help maintain regular clean up drives along Subic's shorelines to help preserve the beauty and pristine waters. (PNA)

Development Plans para sa City Public Market, Ipinaliwanag ni Mayor Gordon

Pinulong ni Mayor James Gordon ang humigit kumulang sa 50 side walk Muslim Vendors ng Olongapo City Public Market noong ika-25 ng Agosto 2006 sa FMA Hall .

Ipinatawag ni Mayor Gordon ang naturang mga vendors upang ipaliwanag ang mga repormang gagawin ng pamahalaan upang lalong mapabuti ang serbisyo ng nasabing palengke sa lungsod. Ayon kay Mayor Gordon, nais nyang maging ligtas at malinis ang loob at labas ng palengke kaya nya hinihingi ang pakikiisa ng lahat ng vendors.

“Sa bagong proyekto na ipatutupad ng lungsod, magiging maluwag ang mga sidewalks ng palengke at sa mga oras ng emergencies katulad ng sunog ay madaling makakapasok ang rescue at fire department sa mga kalye sa paligid ng palengke,” wika ni Mayor Gordon.

Ayon kay Mayor Gordon, bibigyan ng kaukulang pwesto ang mga side walk vendors sa paligid ng palengke. Ipinakita rin ng punong lungsod ang mga planong itsura ng tindahan na magiging maganda sa paningin ng mamimili at mga turista. “Pagagandahin natin ang inyong mga tindahan nang sa gayon ay maging presentable ang inyong paninda sa mga customers at kung kayo ay may mga tamang pwesto na, makatutulong din kayo sa pagsasaayos ng mga daanan sa lungsod.

Ang planong pagsasaayos ng mga vendors ng lungsod ay alinsunod sa batas na ipinagbabawal ang pagtitinda sa mga daanan upang matiyak ang kaligtasan ng mamamayan. “Masakit sa akin na makitang mawawalan kayo ng mga hanap-buhay at negosyo, kaya naman pinag-iisipan din ng lungsod kung ano ang mga paraan upang maisaayos ang mga lansangan nang hindi isinasakripisyo ang ikanabubuhay ninyo,” ang paliwanag ni Mayor Gordon sa grupo ng mga vendors.

Hiningi ni Mayor Gordon ang kooperasyon ng mga vendors sa pansamantalang solusyon na ito ng gobyerno sa suliranin sa sikip ng daan sa pamilihan. Ipinakita ng punong lungsod ang mga future development plans para sa Olongapo City Public Market. Ayon sa presentasyon, kasalukuyan nang pinaplano ang pagpapagawa ng isang modernong pamilihan na may 3 hanggang 4 na palapag kung saan pwedeng magtinda ang lahat nang gustong mag-negosyo at walang nang magtitinda sa labas ng palengke.

Samantala, makikipagpulong din si Mayor Gordon sa mga stall owners sa loob ng Olongapo City Public Market upang marinig naman ang kanilang mga hinaing at upang ipaliwanag din ang mga plano ng lungsod sa pagsasaayos ng palengke at lansangan sa paligid nito.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Brewing trouble at SubicTel

Telephone giant PLDT is fighting a legal battle to retain its exclusive rights as the telecommunications provider within the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Olongapo City through its subsidiary, Sublic Telecommunications Company (SubicTel).

The Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City has dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by SubicTel against SBMA.

SubicTel maintains that SBMA violated a contract for the exclusive right to provide telecoms services within SBMA when it allowed Innove Communications, a subsidiary of Globe Telecom to operate within SBMA. In the meantime, let’s wait how this controversy unfolds. —Edu H. Lopez - Manila Bulletin

Taiwan electronic firm explores Subic

Taiwanese-owned TECO Electric and Machinery Co. Ltd., a global player in electronics manufacturing, is exploring possible investment opportunities in Subic Bay freeport.

Company chairman recently Theodore Huang led a 105-member delegation composed of his entire board members and top officials during a recent visit in Subic and a meeting with Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand C. Arreza.

TECO is renowned worldwide as a leading heavy electrical industrial brand. It is also known as one of the leading manufacturers of home appliances, telecommunications equipment, IT systems, electromechanical components, and commercial electronics.

The delegation was made up of the top officials and managers of the company, who came to the Subic Freeport upon the invitation of Arreza and Subic Bay Development and Management Corporation (SBDMC) Chairman Joseph Chou.

Arreza met with the group and gave them a briefing on the development and current projects of the SBMA. He stressed on the importance of the Taiwanese companies coming into the Freeport and encouraged more companies to continue looking into setting up shop here.

"The Taiwanese Industrial Park is home to some of the biggest investors we have here — companies like Wistron (formerly known as Acer), TECO, and Hitachi — have set up production plants here and have expressed their continued confidence in the SBMA," he said.

Arreza also said that they are expecting more companies like Taiwan Cogen to come in.

"The country’s economy is doing quite well and the Subic Freeport has become a major player in the global market with its tax-free incentives Freeport status. This is why more and more companies like Taiwan Cogen are showing interest in the Freeport," he said.

Meanwhile, Huang expressed his appreciation for the preparation of their visit along with the well planned itinerary laid out for them. He further said that the visit has given them a broader perspective of the area.

Aside from meeting with top officials from SBMA and the Taiwanese Industrial Park, the TECO group also met with members of the Taiwanese investor community. They were also able to visit top tourist spots in the area.

The TECO group has about 30 subsidiaries and affiliations across Asia, America and Europe, and the total employee count is over tens of thousands. It is dedicated to long-term development, creating new competitive advantages, enhancing service quality, developing top-flight personnel, and creating outstanding products. (BCM)

VOLUMINOUS DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE SUBMITTED IN SUBIC RAPE TRIAL

(STAR) By Michael Punongbayan - Confident that they were able to prove the guilt of the accused after more than two months of trial, lawyers for the 22-year-old Filipina allegedly raped by United States Marines in Subic, Zambales have made a formal offer of evidence before the court.

Eight inches thick of documentary evidence were submitted to the Makati City regional trial court (RTC) last Friday by the prosecution, said lawyer Hazel Decena-Valdez, one of the five government prosecutors handling the controversial rape case.

"The voluminous documentary evidence together with vital pieces of real or object evidence appreciated in relation to the testimonies of our witnesses in court sufficiently prove the guilt of the four accused beyond reasonable doubt," Valdez told The STAR.

The motion to admit alone is a 34-page pleading explaining in detail why Branch 139 Judge Benjamin Pozon should admit each and every piece of evidence offered on behalf of the alleged victim, who is known by her court pseudonym "Nicole."

Valdez noted that apart from documents, the prosecution also submitted physical evidence which include the private complainant’s pants, underwear, and the condom allegedly used by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith on the night of the alleged sexual assault.

Benjamin Formoso, Smith’s lawyer, said they have received a copy of the formal offer of evidence and all attachments.

"The annexes alone are more than a thousand pages," Formoso told The STAR.

The 21-year-old Smith, who claims the sex was consensual, is accused of raping a Filipina at the back of a Hyundai Starex van on Nov. 1, 2005 while three other soldiers — Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier — allegedly cheered him on.

The prosecution’s documentary evidence include sworn statements, reports, and other items including a crime laboratory analysis of Smith’s blood sample from the Philippine National Police which matched with the male DNA pattern found in the private complainant’s underwear.

The documents also include four volumes of US Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) reports testified on by several special agents who investigated the alleged rape.

Formoso said they are now reviewing each and every page of the documents to determine which they would oppose.

"We will study the offer and then submit our comment within the week. Then the court will decide which of those submitted are admissible and which are not," he explained.

Formoso said the defense will be on the look out for documentary and physical evidence which can be tagged as hearsay, double hearsay, or triple hearsay.

"Titingnan din namin yung conclusions kasi the offers may be contrary to documents submitted. Dapat ’yung evidence lang," Formoso said.

The process of formally offering evidence by the prosecution has so far stalled the proceedings for some three weeks now.

The defense’s turn to present witnesses and evidence has been set for Sept. 11.

The marathon hearings suffered the delay after lawyers of the accused said they will only begin after the prosecution has rest its case and makes its formal offer of evidence.

The court gave both parties a week to file their motions and comments in an effort to still speed up the trial since the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) gives it only a year to finish the case.

On Sept. 11, Smith will take the witness stand as the defense’s first witness while Nicole sits in the gallery to watch the proceedings.

During the first two months of the trial, all four accused religiously attended the hearings while the prosecution presented witnesses, including Nicole herself who in one of her emotional outbursts, cursed the US Marines.

The prosecution presented a total of 23 witnesses as opposed to the defense’s plan to present 10 or less, including the four accused.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

OLONGAPO CITY WELDING ORIENTATION AT TRAINING, PATULOY PA RIN

Pinangunahan muli ni Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. ang isinagawang Free Welding Orientation na dinaluhan ng mahigit kumulang 150 bagong trainees sa FMA Hall ngayong ika-24 ng Agosto 2006.

Ang nasabing Free Welding Orientation ay karugtong ng mga serye ng orientations at trainings na ibinigay ng lungsod para sa mga interesadong gawing propesyon ang welding upang makapasok sa mga kompanyang tulad ng Hanjin o maging sa abroad kung saan malaki din ang pangangailangan sa ganitong uri ng trabaho.

Nagpakilala rin sa mga bagong trainees ang mga nagtuturo ng pagsasanay sa welding tulad ni City Councilor Edwin Piano at apat nya pang kasamang trainor na lahat ay may mahigit 20 taon na karanasan sa pagwewelding at nabibilang sa mga ipinagmamalaking welders noong panahon ng American Base sa Subic.

Pagkatapos ng oryentasyon na ito, ang mga dumalo ay binigyan ng schedule kung kailan sila mag-uupisa ng free training. Ang unang dalawang linggo ng naturang training ay gagawin sa ikatlong palapag ng City Hall kung saan sila ay tuturuan ng mga trainors tungkol sa mga kursong basic welding, ligtas na pagtatrabaho, blue print reading, general welding shipbuilding, Korean culture, actual welding at virtual welding. Dadalhin naman ang mga trainees sa West Bajac-Bajac pagkaraan ng dalawang linggong pagsasanay sa City Hall upang doon naman mag-aral ng aktuwal na pagwewelding kasama ang mga trainors at mga naunang trainees ng lungsod.

Kasama na rin ng lungsod ng Olongapo ang TESDA sa ginagawang pagsasanay na ito. Pagkatapos ng training, ang mga participants ay sasailalim sa mga pagsusulit ng trainors upang masukat ang kanilang kaalaman. Ang mga makakapasa rito ay ire-refer nanam ng lungsod sa TESDA upang mabigyan ng lisensya bilang propesyunal ma welder.

Samantala, ang mga naunang grupo naman ng trainees ng lungsod ay kasalukuyang nang nagtatrabaho sa Hanjin at ang iba naman ay kinuha na ng nasabing shipbuilding company at binabayaran upang maging welding trainees.

Ayon kay Mayor Bong Gordon, tuloy-tuloy ang mga training na tulad nito hanggang may mga mamamayan na interesadong matuto ng welding at iba pang livelihood oppurtunities. Sa mga nais malaman ang petsa ng mga susunod pang trainings, makipag-ugnayan lamang sa Mayor’s Office, Public Employment Office (PESO) at tanggapan ni Kagawad Edwin Piano sa Olongapo City Hall Complex.

‘’Hangga’t may gustong matuto ng welding at iba pang livelihood opportunities, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang mga trainings na ibinibigay ng lungsod,’’ wika ni Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. sa 150 na bagong trainees ng Free Welding Orientation at training na isinagawa sa FMA Hall noong ika-24 ng Agosto 2006.

OLONGAPO FIRE & RESCUE TEAM SA SN. NARCISO, ZAMBALES!

Sinuong ng Olongapo City Fire and Rescue Team (OCFRT) ang kalakasan ng bagyong Katring sa kanilang pagtungo sa Sn. Narciso, Zambales nitong madaling-araw ng ika- 14 ng Agosto 2006.

Baon ang iisang misyon, sa pangunguna ni Disaster Management Office Head Angie Layug at ang sampung (10) miembro nito sakay ng Rescue Van kasama ang Generator Truck ay nagbigay alalay ang buong team sa mga residenteng apektado ng tubig-bahang bunga ng umapaw na dike sa Zambales.

Ang pagtungo ng OCFRT sa Sn. Narciso ay batay sa atas ni City Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. na ibigay ang lahat ng assistance partikular na sa mga residenteng hindi makalabas ng bahay bunga na rin ng mamalim na tubig-baha.

Matatandaan na kamakailan lamang ay muling tumanggap ng pagkilala ang Olongapo City Fire and Rescue Team bilang “Best Government Emergency Responders” (GOERS) ng prestiyesong Gawad Kalasag 2006.

Samantala, nakamit rin ni Fire Rescue Officer Abraham Abiertas ang “Heroic Act During Emergency Response & Rescue Operations’’ bilang pagkilala sa natatanging galing at tapang nito sa pagtupad sa kanyang tungkulin.

BOXING TOURNAMENT SA BARRETTO, TAGUMPAY!

Dumagundong ang malakas na hiyawan sa Brgy. Barretto Covered Court ng mga residente at bisita nitong ika-19 ng Agosto 2006 kaugnay sa isinagawang 2nd Leg ng Inter-Barangay Boxing Tournament.

Ang tournament ay kaugnay sa ‘’Programang Paboksing sa Brgy. ni Mayor Bong Gordon’’ katuwang ang Olongapo City Amateur Boxing Association, Olongapo Youth & Sports Development Office at ang Brgy. Barretto sa pamumuno ni Brgy. Capt. at ABC President Carlito Baloy.

Hindi naging hadlang ang malakas na buhos ng ulan sa tila Pacquiao-Morales Fight ng mga pambatong boksingero ng Olongapo na nilahukan ng mahigit limandaang (500) boxing enthusiasts.

Sa labinlimang (15) title bout na pinaglabanan ‘wagi ang mga sumusunod na boksingero:
· Melchor Perez (Pag-asa) – Light Minimumweight
· Alejandro Perez (Pag-asa) – Minimumweight
· King John Delavajan (Gordon Heights) – Jr. Lightpowderweight
· Joetam David (OCNHS) – Jr. Light Pinweight
· Noel Guevarra (Gordon Heights) – Jr. Pinweight
· Jovelle Teves (Barretto) – Jr. Light Flyweight
· Ferdinand Quijano (Gordon Heights) – Jr. Light Fly weight
· Rex Canag (Sta Rita) – Jr. Light Flyweight


· Ringo Star Barnayha (Mabayuan) – Jr. Flyweight
· Joserey Genoguin (Gordon Heights) - Jr. Flyweight
· Rex Flores (New Cabalan) – Bantamweight
· Jhim Interino (EBB) – Jr. Bantamweight
· Larry Abarra (Barretto) – Featherweight
· Jordash Cabalic (Kalalake) - Lightweight
· Artist Martin, Jr. (Barretto) – Light Heavyweight

Bahagi ng ibinigay na mensahe ni Mayor Bong Gordon ay sumentro sa galing ng mga boksingero ng Olongapo. ‘’Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon na nagpadala tayo ng kalahok sa boxing tournament sa Lanao, del Norte ay hindi tayo binigo ng tatlong (3) boksingero natin dahil lahat sila ay nag-uwi ng pasalubong na medalya sa atin,’’ wika ni Mayor Bong Gordon.

‘’Sa boxing ang may pinaka-malaking tiyansa ang Pilipino na makupo ang pinaka-mimithing gold medal sa Olympics. Kailangan lamang ng matinding ensayo at magandang exposure ay siguradong sa Olongapo magmumula ang kauna-unahang Olympic gold medalist ng bansa sa anumang larangan ng paligsahan,’’ dagdag pa ni Mayor Gordon.

Samantala, ngayon pa lamang ay puspusan na ang isinasagawang pag-eensayo ng mga boksingero ng Brgy. Mabayuan kung saan dito isasagawa ang susunod na paghaharap ng mga boksingero ng lungsod. Ang nasabing tournament na nasa ilalim ng pangangalaga ni Tournament Director Angie Layug ay suportado ng PAGCOR bilang isa sa mga main sponsors nito.

Opisyales at Residente ng Olongapo, Rumesponde sa Oil Spill sa Barretto

Naalarma ang mga residente at mangingisda sa malagkit at maitim na tubig sa gawi ng Driftwood at Baloy Beach noong ika-24 ng Agosto.

Agad naman rumesponde ang mga opisyales ng lungsod sa pangunguna ni Mayor James Bong Gordon Jr. upang aksyunan ang nasabing report.

Natuklasan na ang maitim at malagkit na anyo ng tubig sa nasabing lugar ay dulot ng daang daang plastic bags na may lamang langis na itinapon sa dagat. Ayon kay Mayor Bong Gordon, may natanggap syang ulat mula sa opisyales ng Freeport Zone na isang barko ang dumaan sa Subic Bay patungong South China Sea bago mangyari ang nasabing insidente.

Ang naturang pagkalat ng langis ay tinatayang umabot sa 5 kilometro o 3 milya na nakaapekto sa may 7 beach resorts sa Subic Bay. “ Pananagutin natin ang may sala nito sa ating yamang-dagat ngunit kailangan ko rin ang tulong at malasakit ng bawat isa sa inyo upang malabanan natin ang ganitong insidente,” wika ni Mayor Gordon sa mga residenteng malapit sa beach area.

Hiningi naman ni Mayor Gordon ang suporta ng Coast Guard upang tumulong sa paglilinis at pag-imbestiga kung sino ang dapat panagutin sa naturang oil slick. Nagbigay na rin ng direktiba si Mayor Gordon na gawing priority ang maagapang paglilinis sa nasabing oil spill. Nakiisa naman ang mga residente at mangingisda na hanggang sa ngayon ay tumutulong sa paglilinis ng beach area.

OLONGAPO , LUNGSOD NA PROGRESIBO!

Ipinalabas na ng Commission on Audit (COA) ang Financial Report ng 79 na Probinsya at 117 na Lungsod sa taong 2005.

Ayon sa COA, ang Olongapo ay nabibilang sa class 1 city o lungsod na progresibo at kumpleto sa pampublikong pasilidad. Ang assets nito ay umabot sa P 2.7 B at ang liabilities nito ay nasa P780 M lamang. Ang total equity ng Olongapo City o ang mga pag-aari at pananalapi ng lungsod kung bawas na ang liabilities ay malaki rin na umabot sa P 1.9 B.

Sa Rehiyon III, ang Olongapo ang lungsod na may pinakamalaking income na umabot sa P 564 M. Malaki rin ang inabot na gastusin ng lungsod sa infrastracture, medical services, livelihood programs at iba pang proyekto ng pamahalaan na nasa P465 M. Kung babawasin ang ginastos ng lungsod sa mga proyekto nito sa kinita, ang net income ng gobyerno ay umabot sa P 98 M.

Samantala, ang total assets naman ng Zambales ay umabot sa P 740 M lamang at ang total liabilities naman nito ay nasa P 298 M. Ang kakayahan nitong magbayad ng pagkakautang o equity ay P 442 M lamang. Inabot naman ng P 394 M ang kinita nito na nahuhuli sa mga lalawigan sa Rehiyon III.

DRIVERS NG DILAW NA JEEP, NAKIISA SA PAGSASAAYOS NG TRAPIKO

Idinaos kahapon, ika-21 ng Agosto 2006 ang malakihang pulong ng drivers at operators ng dilaw na jeepneys sa Olongapo City Convention Center. Dinaluhan ni Mayor James Bong Gordon Jr. ang nasabing pagtitipon ng humigit kumulang sa 600 drivers tungkol sa pagpapatupad ng pansamantalang pilahan ng yellow jeepneys sa R. M Drive at Perimeter Road.

Hiningi ni Mayor Gordon ang kooperasyon at pang-unawa ng naturang mga drivers sa bagong mandato na ipatutupad ng lungsod upang maiwasan o mabawasan ang pagbigat na daloy ng trapiko lalo na sa R.M. Drive hanggang Rizal Avenue.

Ipinatawag ni Col. Jerry Adique, hepe ng Office of Traffic Management and Public Safety ( OTMPS), ang mga drivers at operators ng dilaw na jeepneys na ang ruta ay may code na J-O1 at J-O11 o yung mga jeepneys na dumadaan sa R.M Drive hanggang sa Rizal Avenue. Ang nasabing pulong ay ginanap upang ipaliwanag ang napagkasunduan ng OTMPS at ng mga opisyales ng grupo ng mga pampasaherong jeepneys kamakailan na inaprubahan din ni Mayor Gordon.

Tinalakay sa naturang assembly ang hinihinging kooperasyon ng mga drivers sa bagong iskema ngayon ng namumuno ng trapiko. Ang mga dilaw na jeepneys ay kailangang pumila sa tapat ng Happy Valley Grocery at Perimeter Road sa may 1st St. Ang mga nakapilang jeepney ay hihintayin munang mapuno bago magsakay ang susunod na jeep na nakapila. Upang masiguro ang pagsunod ng lahat ng mga drivers, pinagbabawalan ang mga dumadaan lamang na jeep na magsakay ng mga pasahero pagdating sa mga lugar na ito o sa madaling salita, ang mga nakapila lamang ang pahihintulutan ng mga traffic enforcers na magsakay ng pasahero.

Ayon kay Col. Jerry Adique, babantayan nang husto ng kanyang mga traffic officers ang pakikiisa ng mga drivers sa panuntunang ito. Sa mga lalabag, may kaukulang parusa ang ibibigay tulad ng pagkuha ng kanilang mga ID at pagmumulta ng 100 hanggang 500 pataas at ang pagkansela sa permit na pumasada kapag paulit-ulit na ang opensa.

Ang ganitong iskema ay nabuo dahil na rin sa napansing traffic congestion sa mga lugar na naturan. “ Hindi maganda para sa turismo, pagnenegosyo at pagtatrabaho ang traffic na nangyayari sa area na yan. Isa pa, mas makakatulong sa mga drivers ang pagpila dahil hindi na nila kailangan pang mag-ikot at magsayang ng gas upang makakuha ng pasahero dahil siguradong pupunuin muna ang jeep sa pilahan,” wika ni Col. Jerry Adique.

Samantala, natuwa naman ang mga drivers sa sorpresang dala ni First Lady Anne Gordon sa kanila. Bukod sa pagpapa-raffle at pagbibigay ng papremyo, ay ibinalita din sa kanila ng unang ginang ng lungsod na ang makukuhang kita sa gagawing Fiesta ay pupunta sa pondo ng Philhealth kung saan bibigyan ng share ang mga drivers ng pampasaherong sasakyan ng lungsod.

GAWANG ‘GAPO, ISANG TAON NA!

Naging center of attraction para sa mall-goers at window shoppers ang mga nag-gagandahan at makukulay na produktong matatagpuan ngayon sa lobby ng Olongapo City Mall.

Ang tradefair mula ika-23 hanggang 31 ng Agosto 2006 ay ang highlight ng unang taong anibersaryo ng Gawang ‘Gapo (Made in Olongapo City) Product Exhibit na sinimulan sa pamamagitan ng isang motorcade na naging hudyat ng week-long celebration nito.

Ang tradefair na may dalawampung (20) kalahok na exhibitors ay binuksan sa pamamagitan ng ribbon cutting na pinangunahan ni First Lady Anne Marie Gordon bilang kinatawan ni City Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr., ‘’Isa sa pangunahing programa ni Mayor Bong Gordon ang iangat at palakasin ang Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sa Lungsod ng Olongapo,’’ mensahe ng First Lady.

‘’Ang Gawang ‘Gapo ang nagiging venue para sa mga SME ng lungsod na ipakita ang kanilang produkto at tumuklas ng produktong tatatak sa isipan na talaga namang gawa ng mga Olongapeños,’’ dagdag pa ni First Lady Anne.

Kabilang sa nakiisa sa selebrasyon sina Acting City Administrator Ferdie Magrata, City Mall Administrator Norie Gomez, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Provincial Director Marilou Fermin, ilang opisyales ng barangay at negosyante ng lungsod.

Ang Gawang ‘Gapo Product Exhibit ay inisyatiba ni Mayor Bong Gordon na nagbigay atas sa Livelihood Cooperative and Development Office (LCDO) sa pamumuno ni Aileen Cuevas-Sanchez na lumikha ng mga produktong magiging trademark ng Olongapo at tatatak sa isipan ng bawat Pilipino at dayuhan.

Ang Gawang ‘Gapo Booth sa Lobby ng City Hall ay lugar para sa mga entrepreneur ng lungsod na may tig-limang araw na pagkakataong ipakita ang kanilang natatanging produkto kung saan ang mga opisyales, kawani at bisita ng City Hall ang target market nito.

Buhat ng buksan ang booth noong ika-23 ng Agosto 2005 ay umabot na sa limampung (50) exhibitors ang ipinakilala, lumikha ng pangalan at nagkaron ng lakas ng loob na ipagpatuloy ang negosyo sa agapay na rin ng Pamahalaang Lokal ng Olongapo.

Pinangunahan ni First Lady Anne Marie Gordon ang paggunita ng 1st Year Anniversary ng Gawang ‘Gapo na tinampukan ng Product Exhibit nitong ika-23 hanggang 31 Agosto 2006 sa Lobby ng City Mall. Kabilang rin sa nagsagawa ng ribbon-cutting sina DTI Provincial Dir. Marilou Fermin, Acting City Administrator Fermie Magrata, LCDO Head Aileen Sanchez, City Mall Administrator Norie Gomez at iba pang opisyales ng barangay.

Execs watch for fish kill from Olongapo oil slick

By Allan Macatuno - Inquirer
OLONGAPO CITY—While efforts have been intensifiedfected areas in Subic Bay.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Armand Arreza said even if they have contained the oil slick, its residues remain hazardous and could pose risks to public health and the bay’s marine life.

“Although we cannot quantify the environmental damage of the oil slick in the waters of Subic, we are still closely monitoring a possible fish kill,” Arreza said.

He said the SBMA has also provided mitigating measures to protect the Ocean Adventure Theme Park at the Subic Bay Freeport to save several whales and dolphins from possible poisoning due to the spill.

“We have bought some dispersant agents, such as oil skimmers, as part of the clean-up efforts,” Arreza said.

Mayor James Gordon Jr. said the vessel that was believed to have dumped used bunker oil off the waters of Subic Bay on Thursday might have come from Mariveles, Bataan.

He said a foreign vessel could have dislodged the used oil since no ship was anchored within Subic Bay.

Arreza has advised residents and visitors to avoid water activities, such as jet skiing, in Subic Bay “since the oil slick is hazardous to health.”

The sludge has reached the beach fronts of at least 20 resorts in a 7-km stretch of shoreline in Barangay Barretto here, prompting village chief Carlito Baloy to order the temporary closure of beaches to the public.

“Most of the beaches are not suited for swimming and water sports activities,” Baloy said.

“This is actually the first time we experienced this and so we are trying to gather all beach resort owners and other stakeholders to form composite teams to fast-track the clean-up operations,” Gordon said.

SBMA officials were still trying to trace the source of the bunker oil that was placed in plastic bags found floating on the bay on Thursday.

“We are checking all vessels that came here [to] find out if they have the same kind of plastic bags that were dumped off Subic’s waters,” Arreza said.

AMERICAN SAILORS, NAG-ENJOY SA OLONGAPO!

Kamakailan lamang ay dumaong sa Subic Bay Freeport Zone ang mahigit sa 2000 sundalong Pilipino at Amerikano na sumali sa CARAT o Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2006.

Bunga ng paghikayat ni Mayor James Bong Gordon Jr., nitong mga nakaraang araw ay may mga Amerikanong namasyal sa lungsod. Maraming navy officers ang namataan na kumakain sa mga fastfoods at restaurants. May mga sailors din na namili ng souvenier items at iba’t-ibang produkto sa tindihan, pamilihan at sa mall.

“People here are so nice and accommodating and the food is great. Last night, I tasted one of your dishes, I think it’s called adobo, and it’s very good,” wika ng isang Amerikanong sailor na namataang nag-iikot sa Olongapo City Mall.

Samantala, sinamahan naman ni Mayor Bong Gordon at First Lady Anne Gordon ang mga Navy Officers na mag-disco sa business establishment sa lungsod. Ito ay upang maipakita na ang lungsod ay ligtas na lugar para sa negosyo at pasyalan.

Masayang kahalubilo ni Mayor Bong Gordon ang mga Amerikanong opisyales ng CARAT 2006 sa Sam’s Pizza sa RM Drive. Kasama rin ni Mayor Gordon sina First Lady Anne Marie Gordon at Olongapo Business Association President Sammy del Rosario. INSET: Si Mayor Gordon kasama si Capt. Al Collins ang Commander ng Destroyer Squadron 1.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Another vessel dumps oily mess in Subic Bay

By Cecille Garcia - Manila Standard Today

OLONGAPO CITY—Authorities yesterday reported an oil spill off Subic Bay polluting 7 km of coastline and beaches fronted by hotels and other tourism establishments.

Mayor James Gordon ordered the spill contained, including the sludge that washed up on the coast of Barretto village, the hardest hit.

He sought help from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to track down the still unidentified vessel that “foolishly” unloaded used bunker oil off Subic Bay, threatening marine life and Subic’s travel industry.

The authority’s initial investigation showed that the spill covered about 5,000 sqm and was slowly moving out toward Grande Island, threatening its resorts and commercial fishpens.

“It appeared to be sludge oil pumped out from the bilge of a passing vessel,” said Perfecto Pascual, general manager of the authority’s Seaport department.

A private firm, Coastal Petroleum, has provided a spill boom to help contain the slick.

A local fisherman found ruptured plastic bags floating off Subic Bay near Barretto, and they appeared to have contained the sludge that was released after they burst. The sludge now threatened the beaches, officials said.

“Most of the beaches are not suited for swimming and water sports activities for tourists,” Barangay Chairman Carlito Baloy said as he ordered the beaches closed temporarily.

He said business establishments including hotels were complaining that most of their guests had decided to check out as a result of the oil spill.

“We have already received cancellation of room reservations,” said a hotel manager who asked not to be named. With Butch Gunio

Oil slick hits Subic; culprit unknown

By Bebot Sison Jr. - The Philippine Star

OLONGAPO CITY — A huge oil spill measuring some 5,000 square meters has polluted the pristine waters of Subic Bay in Zambales, affecting about seven kilometers of the city’s coastline where prime beaches, hotels and other tourism-oriented establishments are located.

The Subic oil spill comes as the Philippines reels from its worst-ever oil spill off Guimaras island.

Authorities have yet to establish the source of the Subic oil slick since there are no reports of leaking vessels in the area.

Olongapo City Mayor James "Bong" Gordon ordered a massive cleanup to contain the oil spill, sludge fragments of which washed up on the coastline of Barangay Barretto here.

Gordon sought the assistance of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to track down the source of the slick on the possibility that it might have "foolishly" dislodged used bunker oil.

Authorities also did not discount the possibility that a passing vessel could have dumped the used oil.

"We’re still trying to identify the ship," Gordon said. "We called the Maritime Police to trace it."

A report submitted by Capt. Perfecto Pascual, SBMA Seaport Department manager, to SBMA deputy administrator for operations chief general Jose Calimlim, the oil spill was initially sighted by the harbor patrol of the SBMA Law Enforcement Department last Thursday morning.

"Since our oil spill equipment was borrowed by the Philippine Coast Guard to be used at Guimaras Island, we sought the assistance of the Coastal Petroleum company in the freeport to help us in containing the spill," Pascual said.

He added that the spill "appeared to be sludge oil pumped out from the bilge of any passing vessel."

Pascual said the Coastal Petroleum personnel found out that the spill is petroleum-based and can be treated with chemical dispersants.

There were initial reports that fishermen found hundreds of plastic bags containing used oil floating in Subic Bay.

A certain Arthur Vega of Barangay Barretto said he found a plastic bag full of waste oil floating near the shoreline of Zuzuki Beach Resort.

"Parang sinadya yung pagkakatapon ng langis, yung iba naka-plastic bag malayo ka p alang naamoy mo na yung langis na tumapon sa dagat," Vega said, suggesting the spill may have been deliberate.

Olongapo spokesman Vic Vizcocho Jr. said five kilometers of coastline have been hit, affecting at least seven beach resorts.

The garbage bags, containing what may be used bunker oil, appeared to have been deliberately dumped and were ruptured by waves, he added.

"Mayor Gordon said we will make them pay for the damage," Vizcocho said. "We don’t know yet what will be the damage to marine life, to business."

Subic Bay Tourism Resorts Association president Carlito Baloy added the oil appeared to have leaked out from the plastic bags.

The heavy rains Thursday night could have washed the oil bags ashore, rupturing some of them and spilling their contents on the beaches, Baloy said.

"Most of the beaches are not suited for swimming and water sports activities for tourists," he said.

Baloy ordered the temporary closure of beaches to the public.

He said 44 beach resorts stand to lose about P3.4 million in revenues over the weekend due to the oil slick.

Among those affected are the Baloy Beach Hotel, White Rock Resort Hotel, Ocean Adventure, Green View Resort, By the Sea Resort, Suzuki Beach Resort, Driftwood Beach, and the Arizona Beach.

Baloy added several business establishments, particularly hotel operators in the area, complained of the foul odor and messy sludge in the beaches, forcing them to check out or cancel their reservations.

"We have already received cancellations of room reservations," said Ramon del Rosario, owner of the By the Sea Resort Hotel.

This city is near the former US-run Subic Naval base that has been transformed into a freeport and special economic zone.

Beach resorts in the city remain popular among Americans and Western tourists.

Sen. Richard Gordon, meanwhile, said the Philippine Coast Guard should be blamed for its negligence in ensuring protection of the marine resources off Subic Bay.

Gordon also urged the SBMA to implement damage-control measures to protect the Ocean Adventure Park and save several whales and dolphins from possible poisoning because of the oil spill.

The former SBMA chairman also called on Coast Guard Commander Arthur Gosingan to conduct an immediate investigation on the oil spill.

Gordon said Gosingan should focus on the ships currently anchored near the Grande Island at Subic Bay Freeport on the possibility that one of the vessels might have dumped the oil in the bay area.

Ironically, the oil spill occurred just after the SBMA deployed its high-tech oil spill equipment to help clean up the oil mess in Guimaras.

The SBMA provided the specialized oil spill mitigating equipment to the Philippine Coast Guard-Oil Spill Response Team, which was shipped out over the weekend to be used in the cleanup efforts along the Guimaras coastline.

Specialized equipment, which included oil skimmers, industrial grade hoses, oil booms, suction engines and an air blower, were loaned out to the PCG in the effort to clean up the oil mess and avoid more damage to the surrounding ecosystems in Guimaras.

With the oil spill in Subic, the SBMA is retrieving the equipment to be used in addressing its own oil spill incident. - With Ric Sapnu, AP

SBMA sends equipment for Guimaras oil spill clean up

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has responded on the call to hasten the clean up operations for the Philippines' worst-ever oil spill currently affecting the waters of Guimaras Strait.

SBMA Chairman Feliciano G. Salonga ordered the release of high-tech equipment that can help speed up the clean up, which has reportedly been contaminating the waters of nearby provinces like Iloilo and Negros.

"SBMA is more than willing to lend assistance in this time of crisis for the townsfolk of Guimaras and we have already sent our oil spill mitigation equipment to the site," he said.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the Specialized Oil Spill Mitigating Equipment was already turned-over to the Philippine Coast Guard - Oil Spill Response Team (PCG-OSRT) over the weekend and is now being used in the clean-up efforts.

"Specialized equipment like oil skimmers, industrial grade hoses, oil booms, suction engines and an air blower were loaned out to the PCG in an effort to help hasten the clean-up and avoid more damage to the surrounding ecosystems," he said.

Arreza said they are willing to help out in any possible way to help stop the oil spill, which is now taking its toll on the marine life, ecological habitat and communities and nearby communities in Guimaras.

"We are very concerned with the ecological impact that this oil spill is causing and will further cause if not properly addressed. Right now, the Guimaras coastline needs all the help it can get, and we are prepared to extend that help in any way possible," he added. (PNA)

Court stops Poro Point port takeover

By Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes
Inquirer
DAGUPAN CITY—A court in La Union on Friday stopped the Bases Conversion Development Authority and the Philippine Ports Authority from running the Poro Point seaport in San Fernando City.

The preliminary injunction, issued by Judge Robert Cawed of the San Fernando City Regional Trial Court, indefinitely extends the temporary restraining order that he issued on Aug. 10. The TRO is set to expire on Aug. 27.

The petition for the injunction was filed by the Poro Point Industrial Corp., which has a 25-year contract with BCDA to operate the seaport.

Aside from BCDA and the PPA, the injunction also covered PPA general manager Oscar Sevilla, PPA port manager Silverio Mangaoang, Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza and officials of the Poro Point Management Corp., a subsidiary of BCDA.

PPIC lawyer Brigido Dulay said the injunction has “the same effect as the TRO but for an extended period while there is no [final] decision of the court yet.”

“I hope they (BCDA and PPA) will abide by the court order,” he said.

He said the PPIC is ready to operate the seaport anytime.

Earlier, Malacañang ordered the temporary closure of the seaport and diverted all cargo vessels to the Subic Bay Freeport and other seaports in the country, pending the resolution of the case by the Court of Appeals.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources stopped PPIC from operating the port after it found that the company was operating without an environmental compliance certificate.

In an eight-page resolution, Judge Cawed stopped BCDA, PPMC and the PPA from “doing any act or deed destructive... of the property rights of the petitioners in their attempt to remove the latter from the Poro Point seaport.”

Cawed also ordered BCDA, PPMC and the PPA “to allow the unhampered continuance of petitioner’s business operations in accordance with the existing contract.”

Cawed also warned that efforts by BCDA and PPMC to remove PPIC from the seaport facility “verges on arbitrariness.”

The court also said it was convinced that “the status of the petitioner (PPIC) before the conflict should be maintained. These include the possession of the premises and the unhampered operation of the seaport by PPIC.”

Earlier, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel upheld the validity and legality of the BCDA-BHI agreement following three reviews. The legal departments of BCDA and PPMC likewise upheld the legality of the deal despite alleged political pressure to reverse the findings as disclosed by BCDA general counsel Arnel Casanova.

Filadelfo Singson Rojas and Felix Singson Racadio, PPMC chair and president, insisted in passing a board resolution last month declaring the agreement void.

BCDA president Narciso Abaya said, however, that the BCDA board had refused to ratify the PPMC resolution. Abaya said the BCDA-BHI deal is valid unless a court declares otherwise.

Government corporate counsel Agnes Devanadera also said the OGCC has not reversed its earlier position that the agreement is legal and binding.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Submersible craft in Subic ready for Guimaras cleanup

Remotely Operated Vehicle ROV, capable of operating down to 2000 m and burying cables 0.6 m. Weight: 3.5 British tonnes. (Courtesy of Global Marine Systems, Ltd.)
By Allan Macatuno - Inquirer

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT -- While the government is looking elsewhere to find equipment to contain the massive oil spill in Guimaras Strait, a submersible remote operated vehicle (ROV) is available here waiting to be tapped.

A ship with an ROV, which can go down to the ocean floor and send video footage to the controller, is docked at the former ship repair facility, according to Australian diver and archeologist Brian Homan.

“The submersible ROV that is on board the cable retriever ship can do the preliminary inspection of the leak in the tanks (of the sunken tanker) and send information that can help the government identify ways to repair the damage and remove the oil,” Homan told the Inquirer.

The cable retriever ship is owned by Global Marines, a marine technology and engineering company based in United Kingdom. The firm has made Subic its home port in the Asia-Pacific region.

Homan, who has been working for the National Museum for more than 20 years, said it was important to immediately send the cable retriever ship to Guimaras Strait to inspect the sunken tanker.

“Subic Bay is just 200 nautical miles from Guimaras and the ship can reach the location within 24 hours. To bring in another vessel from Singapore will take several more days to mobilize,” he said.

The ROV can lay cables in deep or shallow waters and retrieve, repair and return them to the bottom of the ocean. It has arms, clamps, lights and cameras designed to record features of sunken ships.

SBMA chief open to idea

But the ROV cannot bring the tanker to the surface.

“The most appropriate thing to do now is to consider this measure and prevent further oil spill,” Homan said. “It is up to the government to ask the company that owns the cable retriever ship for help.”

He said he had spoken with Feliciano Salonga, chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), and broached the idea of tapping the cable retriever ship for the cleanup operations in Guimaras.

“For me this is just a bit of advice. I told them that this is the best move but SBMA officials are the ones to decide on this matter,” Homan said.

Homan was involved in the recovery of a FedEx plane that overshot Subic’s runway and submerged into 30 feet of water near the shoreline.

“That was just a simple recovery,” he said. “But since I work for the National Museum, I had several experiences in retrieving ancient ships.”

Homan had recovered relics off the coast of Mindoro, Marinduque, Palawan and Sulu since 1983.

“Many people have asked me about my opinion on this oil spill in Guimaras. I just told them that the best move is to ask the company that owns the cable retriever ship to do an inspection of the sunken tanker,” he said.

SBMA officials met on Tuesday and considered asking the company that leases the cable retriever ship for help.

Malampaya Corp. ROV

Former SBMA Chair Felicito Payumo said the government could also ask the Malampaya Corp. to lend its submersible ROV for the operation.

“Both the ROV and the cable retriever ship do a lot more complicated tasks. The Malampaya ship laid the oil pipeline from Palawan to Batangas while the cable retriever vessel repairs the trans-ocean cable lines that get damaged on the ocean floor,” Payumo said.

Salonga, a retired commodore of the Philippine Coast Guard, agreed with the idea of Homan and Payumo.

“We are on the same page as far as this issue is concerned,” Salonga said.

“The plan of action of the sunken tanker’s owners must be known. I want to be sure that they are thinking of what I’m thinking so that before I approach the owners of the cable retriever ship, we have a common understanding of what is needed,” he said.

Salonga said he had informed Petron officials about the availability of the cable retriever ship but was told that the company was already discussing with an international broker.

“If that international broker taps the cable retriever, there will be no problem. The captain of the cable retriever told us that it can be used for surveying the area and other purposes to minimize the spill,” he said.

Palace orders Poro Point port closure

Vessels Diverted To Subic
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Inquirer
MALACAÑANG has ordered the temporary closure of the seaport at Poro Point in La Union until the Court of Appeals rules on a petition asking for the lifting of a temporary restraining order issued against a government takeover of port operations.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, in a briefing, said all vessels docking at Poro Point would be diverted to Subic and there, unload their cargo.

Ermita did not elaborate on the reasons for the Malacañang order, but said it was in line with a cease and desist order issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the failure of the port operator, Poro Point Industrial Corp. (PPIC), to secure an environmental compliance certificate.

PPIC, a joint venture of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the Bulk Handlers Inc. (BHI), said in an open letter to President Macapagal-Arroyo that the CDO issued by the DENR was just part of a ploy to boot BHI out of the port.

It said the takeover of the port by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) “is not about the environment.”

“In fairness to Secretary Angelo Reyes, and the DENR, we noted that the initiative for an environmental order to halt our operations came from the PPMC (Poro Port Management Corp.) and not from the secretary’s office,” said PPIC in its open letter.

PPMC, headed by Felix Singson Racadio, a relative of Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, will issue an advisory for vessels entering Poro Point to instead go to Subic, according to Ermita.

Narciso Abaya, president of BCDA, said earlier in a visit to the Inquirer that it was the port’s operations that are causing pollution at Poro Point’s water and air.

He said while he knew that the pollution would continue even if the operations were handled by the PPA, he asked for the PPA help in running the port because a disruption of port operations would translate to hundreds of millions of losses for the region.
At least 70 interisland and ocean-going vessels use the port every month, he said.

Ermita did not say how the government would deal with the losses that Abaya had foreseen and tried to prevent through transferring the port operations to the PPA.

Abaya said all PPIC had to do was acquire an ECC from the DENR because that was what it lacked in its operations.

He can’t elaborate on questions, however, why a takeover of the port operations was the government’s answer to the lack of an ECC by PPIC.

In a visit to the Inquirer on the same day that Malacañang issued the closure order, Singson said he was staking his life and career to have the port contract with PPIC rescinded because it was “disadvantageous” to the government.

Singson said he has no personal interest in rescinding the port contract except for his concern for the economy of the Northern Luzon region. He said he has his own port and does not need the Poro Point for his personal business.

“Poro Point will not be operational until petition filed by the government (DENR) to set aside the TRO (temporary restraining order) is resolved by the Court of Appeals,” Ermita said.

Singson claimed that PPIC obtained a “sweetheart deal” under the Estrada administration to operate the port for 25 years at P50 million a year. Prior to PPIC’s entry, the port earned up to P20 million a month.

PPIC claimed that the DENR and PPA attempts to take over the port were just the latest in the continuing bid of Singson to take over the port since 2001.

Singson admitted it, saying Rogelio Singson, former head of BCDA and a distant relative of his, had been trying to have the contract renegotiated or rescinded “but he was powerless against the BCDA board.”

Top Taiwanese industrial giant visits freeport

Taiwanese-owned TECO Electric and Machinery Co. Ltd., a global player in electronics manufacturing, paid a visit to the Subic Bay Freeport for exploratory talks with officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority for possible future investments.

Company chairman Theodore Huang led his entire board members and top officials during a recent visit in Subic.

TECO is renowned worldwide as a leading heavy electrical industrial brand. It is also known as one of the leading manufacturers of home appliances, telecommunications equipment, IT systems, electromechanical components, and commercial electronics.

The 105-man delegation was made up of the top officials and managers of the company, who came to the Subic Freeport upon the invitation by both SBMA Administrator Armand C. Arreza and Subic Bay Development and Management Corporation (SBDMC) Chairman Joseph Chou.

Arreza met with the group and gave them a briefing on the development and current projects of the Authority.

He stressed on the importance of the Taiwanese companies coming into the Freeport and encouraged more companies to continue looking into setting up shop here.

"The Taiwanese Industrial Park is home to some of the biggest investors we have here-companies like Wistron (formerly known as Acer), TECO, and Hitachi-have set up production plants here and have expressed their continued confidence in the SBMA," he said.

Arreza also said that they are expecting more companies like Taiwan Cogen to come in.

"The country's economy is doing quite well and the Subic Freeport has become a major player in the global market with its tax-free incentives Freeport status. This is why more and more companies like Taiwan Cogen are showing interest in the Freeport," he said.

Meanwhile, Huang expressed his appreciation for the preparation of their visit along with the well planned itinerary laid out for them. He further said that the visit has given them a broader perspective of the area.

Aside from meeting with top officials from the Authority and the Taiwanese Industrial Park, the TECO group also met with members of the Taiwanese investor community. They were also able to visit top tourist spots in the area.

The TECO group has about 30 subsidiaries and affiliations across Asia, America and Europe, and the total employee count is over tens of thousands. It is dedicated to long-term development, creating new competitive advantages, enhancing service quality, developing top-flight personnel, and creating outstanding products. (PNA)

Subic Bay Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is all about fun, fashion, food and parade.

The world-famous event is annually held in New Orleans in the US, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, among other places.

It is being held a week before Lent and also goes by the name Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) version is no exception despite the drizzle during the three-day affair at the SBMA Board Walk last Aug. 18-20.

Like the events in US and Europe, bands and gay performers abound during the first ever Mardi Gras event at the Subic Bay Freeport.

Ladlad, a gay group, joined the event and its members from Olongapo, Bataan, and Zambales chapters were among the participants along with gay groups from Manila.

A motorcade in Olongapo signaled the start of the event while a gay parade along Waterfront Road was held early Friday evening for the Subic Bay Pride Carnival.

Most of the participants appeared in costumes inspired by Darna, a Filipino heroine; butterflies; octopus; beauty queens and ethnic groups while others paraded in 80's-inspired sexy outfits.

Street parties lasted until Sunday night and crowds continue to pour in despite the rain, which makes the Subic event different from those abroad since the latter are held before Lent during a hot weather.

SBMA Deputy Administrator for Administration Ferdinand Hernandez said the Subic version of Mardi Gras aims to encourage more people to visit the Freeport even during the lean season or the rainy months.

He said the event is now among SBMA's tourism attractions.

"We'll be doing annually for the people to have more things to do while staying here. All we want for them is to come out, check the scene and have fun despite the rain," he said.

The volume of people was equaled by the number of stalls along the road selling foods like barbeque and roasted sea foods, among others and trinkets.

Hernandez said the event exceeded their expectations although he declined to give figures on the event's income.

Restaurants along the Board Walk are always filled-up and even the tiangge are being patronized, he said.

"It's nice to note that the restaurants are doing a brisk business, hotels are fully occupied and other businesses are doing the same," he said.

He said this year's event was a good one and they hope to replicate it and even outshine it next year. (PNAFeature)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

KAPAKANAN NG MAMAMAYAN PINAHALAGAHAN NG MGA US NAVY OFFICERS

Bilang bahagi ng kanilang misyon sa bansa ay nagsagawa ng community service ang mga Amerikanong miyembro ng Sandatahang Pandagat o Navy na kalahok sa Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Exercise 2006.

Sa pangunguna ni Chaplain Alfred Peña kasama ang mga sundalong amerikano ay nagbigay ng ilang computer units, t-shirts, soccer balls, at iba pang gamit pang-eskwela ang mga panauhin sa mga mag-aaral ng Iram Elementary at Iram High School nitong Agosto 2006.

Maging si City Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. ay naging saksi sa masayang gift-giving at nagwikang, ‘’Ingatan ninyo ang mga ibinigay sa inyo ng ating bisita ngayon. At sa ngalan ng mamamayan ng Olongapo ay lubos akong nagpapasalamat sa patuloy na pagsuporta nila sa ating lungsod,’’ bahagi ng mensahe ni Mayor Gordon.

Samantala, nagpamahagi rin ang mga sundalong Amerikano ng kahong-kahong gamot sa mga residente ng Nino’s Pag-asa na masayang tinanggap ng mga nakaabang na mga bata.

Ang CARAT 2006 ay bahagi ng RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty upang ma-ensayo ng parehong grupo ang naval operations tulad ng pagsugpo sa terorismo sa dagat at iba pang krimeng nangyayari sa karagatan.

Isang linggo ang isasagawang training sa iba’t-ibang lugar sa bansa kasama ang Subic Freeport, ilang bahagi ng Zambales at La Union.
COMMUNITY SERVICE: Si Mayor Bong Gordon kasama ang mga sundalong kasali sa CARAT Exercise 2006 sa isinagawang community service sa Iram Elementary at High School

Monday, August 21, 2006

Inquiry into proposed cellphone registration sought in House

By Maila Ager -- INQ7.net

AN INQUIRY into a planned registration policy on mobile phones by the government is being proposed at the House of Representatives.

Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez said Friday that he would file a resolution to look into the “constitutionality, legality, and public interest aspects of this cellphone registration policy.”

Golez’s resolution for an investigation stemmed from Deputy National Security Adviser Virtus Gil’s proposal to set up a Cellular Phone Registration System (CPRS) to discourage theft and resale because stolen units could be blocked by cellular networks and traced once reported as stolen.

Gil made the suggestion after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him to head a composite team "with police and operational powers" to address incidents of cellphone snatching, which has risen through the years.

Arroyo also ordered Gil to coordinate with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

But Golez said he was against the proposal because it was not only an “invasion of privacy” but would also allow easier access to tap private phone lines.

“It's an invasion of privacy. Cellphone numbers should not be in the hands of the government. All sorts of draconian measures are possible when those phone numbers are in government hands like police & military personnel, political operators, etc,” he said in a text message.

“It’s a frightening & chilling measure,” he said.

Golez said it would also be an undue burden for millions of cellphone users who would have to line up at the NTC to have their units registered.

“How would the people in the barrios away from NTC offices register their phones?” he said.

Furthermore, Golez said this policy would tie down the NTC with registration work when they have better things to do.

And lastly, the lawmaker feared that after mobile phones, the government would later on require the registration of laptops and e-mail addresses, among others.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Prosecution ends presentation in celebrated Subic rape case

Evidences, Testimonies, Point to Accused U.S. Marine

As the prosecution panel in the Subic rape case trial ends its presentation of witnesses and evidence, its lawyers are confident that they have pieced out the puzzle showing the four accused U.S. Marines guilty.

BY JHONG DELA CRUZ
Bulatlat

Prosecution lawyers in the Subic rape case ended their presentation on Aug. 17, with a police expert confirming that the DNA sample found in the Filipina victim’s underwear indeed belonged to principal accused Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

Lead prosecutor Evalyn Ursua expressed confidence their evidences and the witnesses’ testimonies had pieced out the puzzle of the fateful Nov. 1, 2005 when four U.S. Marines allegedly raped a 22-year-old Filipino woman.

Also accused with Smith are Lance Corporals Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier.

23rd witness

The prosecution presented its 23rd witness, Sr. Inspector Edmar dela Torre who conducted the matching of both DNA samples extracted from the victim’s panties and Smith’s blood.

Tested at the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, Dela Torre said the samples were of “primary match,” resulting in a 10 percent accuracy rate. The DNA sample obtained from the victim’s underwear had not been contaminated, bearing no such indication during the test, dela Torre told the court.

The analyst received the samples on June 26 from the evidence custodian. His findings, he told the court, revealed that the “DNA is that of Daniel Smith.” The defense refused to further ask questions during the cross-examination.

Meanwhile, before the police analyst took the witness stand, the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 139 recalled Dr. Rolando Ortiz, medico-legal officer at the James L. Gordon Hospital who examined “Nicole” on Nov. 3, 2005.

The court had ordered Ortiz to testify again to explain the history-taking procedure he had conducted with “Nicole.” The procedure involves inquiring about past and present sexual relationships of victims of sexual assault.

Ursua opposed this saying having sex in the past would not indicate that there was no rape because the assault could happen even inside a marriage. She cited section 6 of the Rape Shield Law which said that “in prosecutions for rape, evidence of complainant's past sexual conduct, opinion thereof or his/her reputation, shall not be admitted unless, and only to the extent that the court finds that such evidence is material and relevant to the case.”

Fishing expedition

The victim, a Zamboanga native, told the doctor she last had a consensual sexual intercourse with her boyfriend two years ago, Ortiz said.

The defense argued old-healed lacerations in both sides of the labia minora, if proven there had been such activity before the alleged rape, the findings might change in the medico-legal procedure.

But Ursua asked the court to reconsider the question saying the defense panel is engaged in a “fishing expedition” because the answer might have no boundaries and that this would only “humiliate” the complainant.

Asked why there was no spermatozoa found in the vagina by Judge Benjamin Pozon during the court’s clarificatory questions, Dr. Ortiz answered because there might have been no ejaculation at all, or that the accused had used condom during the alleged sexual assault.

Earlier, Ortiz had testified the reddish contusions on both sides of the labia minora were caused by “a blunt object applied with force.” He re-affirmed the findings when asked by Pozon whether it might have been caused by illness, and:

“Contusions may be caused when a woman’s private part is not lubricated, or [if her] thighs are closed injury could occur during the penetration,” he said.

Corroborated

After 23 witnesses, the prosecution concluded they were very satisfied with how the proceedings for their evidences and witness testimonies corroborated the claim of the complainant.

The victim had earlier testified she was too drunk to fight Smith during the sexual assault. She described him as heavy when she gained consciousness and found out he was on top of her.

She was having a vacation with her two sisters at the former U.S. naval base when, according to her, she was intoxicated by alcoholic drinks.

She only remembered refusing Smith’s insistence to get out of the Neptune Club, a popular nightspot at the Freeport. Later she knew she was taken inside the van where she claimed to have been raped at the backseat.

On July 11, leading forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun confirmed that the injuries sustained by Nicole indicate that rape and not consensual sex took place on the night of Nov. 1 last year. This is because in a normal consensual sexual activity, injuries in the genitalia are unusual, she said.

Less than 10

The court will resume hearing on Sept. 11 when the defense panel will present its side.

Last June, Ursua filed a petition for certiorari seeking full custody of the four U.S. servicemen involved in the rape case. If granted, this would prevent the soldiers from “getting off the hook,” since the case would no longer follow the one year allowable case hearing for U.S. soldiers in the country. The prosecution is battling the December 29 deadline of the court proceedings.

If proven guilty, the accused would be meted out a 40-year imprisonment. Bulatlat

CARAT2006 ACTION IN ZAMBALES

Filipino troops go down from US Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion during an amphibious landing in San Antonio, Zambales province, northern Philippines on Friday Aug. 18, 2006. The event is part of an annual exercise between the US and Philippines navies to improve bilateral cooperation in fighting terrorists and transnational crimes at sea. (AP Photo/Jun Dumaguing)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Cell phone, SIM list-up proposal opposed

By Darwin G. Amojelar, Manila Times Reporter

A CONSUMER advocacy group has rejected the directive of President Arroyo for the mandatory registration of the subscribers’ identification mode (SIM) card and mobile phones as a way to curb cell-phone theft.

Anthony Ian Cruz, TXT-Power co-founder and co-convener, said the plan is not the solution to the thefts, and threatens the rights of phone owners.

“Cell-phone theft and murders continue because of the incompetence of the Philippine National Police in running after, prosecuting and convicting thieves and syndicates before the courts. This impunity cannot be solved by President Arroyo’s proposed plan to require mandatory registration,” Cruz said.

He also warned that the Cell-phone Registration System (CRS) proposed by Virtus Gil, deputy national security adviser and task force chief, may be used to snoop on the President’s opponents and critics.

“What the President should do is to order the PNP to catch, prosecute and convict the cell-phone thieves, bust cell-phone syndicates and investigate PNP personnel suspected of protecting them,” Cruz said.

Cell-phone theft has become a new criminal industry because the inutile PNP allowed it to become so, he added.

He doubted if most of the country’s 40 million cell-phone subscribers would accept the CRS.

The two largest telecommunication companies, Smart and Globe, chose not to comment on the issue.

Jorge Sarmiento, NTC deputy commissioner, said the agency welcomed the Palace directive.

Sarmiento said the NTC and the task force headed by Gil will meet next week to draw up guidelines on the implementation of the mandatory registration of phones and SIMs.

He said, however, the mandatory registration of SIMs was not realistic, because in 2000 the telecommunications companies had obtained a court restraining order on a government directive requiring cell-phone subscribers to register their SIMs. The case is pending before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

Sarmiento added that the government may follow up the case and file a petition to lift the temporary restraining order. “It is most likely that we will issue a Memorandum Circular requiring the registration of phones, because there is a pending case,” Sarmiento said.

He admitted that the Palace directive might prove to be a burden to consumers and phone firms.

The NTC will conduct a public hearing on the issue

Clark now has 45,011 workers

By Rendy Isip - Manila Standard Today

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga—There are now 45,011 workers in this special economic zone, the Clark Development Corp. reported yesterday.

CDC president Victor Jose Luciano attributed the rise in employment at Clark to the new locators, such as new call centers, that started operations here between June and August.

Luciano said Clark continues to be the favorite destination of investors in Central Luzon noting the ongoing infrastructure projects that are being set up to make Clark and Subic Economic Zone as the logistics hub in the country as envisioned by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Earlier, the President graced the opening of the Clark Center of Excellence of the IntelliRisk Management Corp. where at least 1,000 jobs are expected to be generated by the end of 2006. While another call center Sutherland Global Strategies is also expected to employ 1,200 jobs.

In a report submitted by the customer service department to Luciano, workers in CSEZ are now 45,011 ending the month of July this year.

The report said the employment figure was released by the 309 reporting locators from the 372 operating firms inside the Clark ecozone.

The figure has doubled since the assumption of President Arroyo as Chief Executive on January 2001, records submitted by the customer service department’s to Luciano.

There are now 8,128 new workers since January this year from the Dec. 31, 2005 which accounted 36,883 workers to 45,011 at the end of July. Last June, customer service department’s reported that there are 44,066 workers in Clark. Most of the workers are employed in garment factories which manufacture signature apparel.

The garments sector were able to contribute some 370 workers last month, boosting the number of workers to 13,159, or 29.24 percent of the total workforce in Clark.

Angelo Lopez Jr., CDC’s public relations department manager, said more jobs will be generated by two new call centers: IntelliRisk Management Corp. which will initially employ 600 workers from its $2.5 million state-of-the-art firm, and Sutherland Global Services Inc. which is eyeing 1,000 workers once operational.

He said that the biggest call center in Clark-Cyber City Teleservices Inc. is also in need of 1,000 call center representatives to fill up the multimillion-dollar expansion project of the firm up to 2007.

The employment level in Clark may further increase as indirect jobs will also be generated by the consignors, boutiques and other shops at the newly opened SM City Clark, Lopez said

Big sea cleanup ordered

Ships sent to defuse ‘ecological time bomb’

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Carla Gomez, Jhunnex Napallacan, Leila Salaverria
Inquirer
JORDAN, Guimaras—Seeking to defuse what experts warned was a ticking ecological time bomb, President Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the deployment of more ships, equipment and personnel to check what has become the country’s worst oil spill disaster.

The presidential order came as Philippine Coast Guard officials yesterday said they had no capacity to salvage the sunken tanker MT Solar I off Guimaras Island or stop the leaking of bunker oil into the seas.

The PCG and the environmental group Greenpeace called on the public to donate relief goods and oil cleanup implements—such as absorbent materials like foam, rice straw and even human hair.

Hair has proven effective in absorbing oil and Greenpeace volunteers have been urged to check if they could get discarded hair from beauty salons and barber shops, said Greenpeace’s Athena Ballesteros.

Coast Guard officials estimate that anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 liters of bunker fuel had spilled out of the 2 million liters carried by the tanker when it sunk off Guimaras due to bad weather.

Officials have said the accident would be the worst oil spill in the country’s history should the remaining 1.8 million liters of fuel still in the tanker seep out.

Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Campaign Director for Southeast Asia, said the group would contact experts in Europe to ask for advice regarding the salvage of the tanker.

Hernandez described the tanker as a “ticking time bomb” and said its salvage was crucial to prevent the remaining fuel from spilling out into the sea.

Area of imminent danger

The Regional Disaster Coordinating Council in Western Visayas has decided to declare certain areas under a state of imminent danger, according to Presidential Adviser for Western Visayas Rafael Coscolluela.

This would allow local government units to use their calamity fund for damage control measures, he said.

Coast Guard commandant Vice Adm. Arthur Gosingan said the full resources of the Coast Guard would be deployed to contain the spill.

Five more ships with equipment to combat oil spills and a helicopter are arriving within the week or early next week.

At least two tugboats contracted by the owner of the tanker that sank 24 miles off this island on Friday are also deployed in the area. The ships are also expected to carry relief goods for affected residents.

Foreign experts

Two British pollution experts have also arrived to help assess the damage.

“As of now there are two representatives of the International Tanker Oil Pollution Federation there,” said Virginia Ruivivar, spokesperson for Petron Corp. which chartered the tanker.

“They are assessing what needs to be done. After that we would know what kind of assistance we would be asking from the other countries,” she added.

The spill has already affected more than 200 km of coastline, covering beaches and mangroves in black sludge and threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of poor fishermen living in villages along the shore.

The tanker is lying in up to 3,000 feet of water off Guimaras.

Malacañang said concerned government agencies were working 24 hours a day “to prevent further damage to our environment and to the communities affected.”

Prevent future disasters

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the PCG and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources were also conducting an investigation into the incident to prevent a repeat of similar “ecological disasters.”

The investigation is also aimed at finding out which party is liable for the spill and what reparations are necessary to rehabilitate damaged marine resources, Bunye said.

Greenpeace, along with scientists and marine experts, have agreed to help assess the impact and the damage caused by the spill, said PCG spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Coyme.

Recovery of Solar I has proved difficult because it has gone down to a depth of 1,800 to 3,000 feet and local salvage teams do not have the capability to reach such depths, Coyme said, adding this prompted the PCG to seek international help.

Other needed materials

Other materials needed in the cleanup are tents, ocean and tent booms, gloves, face masks, shovels, sacks, plastic bags, water-resistant canvas, generators, sprayers, soap and detergents.

Hernandez said that Petron, owner of the spilled fuel, and Sunshine Maritime Development Corp., owner of the tanker, should pay for the cleanup and compensate residents whose livelihoods were affected.

“It’s not just an environmental disaster, it’s an economic disaster because fishermen depend on the integrity of those marine resources for their livelihood,” Hernandez said.

He pointed out that when the government gives out national calamity funds for the affected areas, it is the taxpayers who in effect are paying for the effects of the oil spill caused by private entities.

Hernandez also said the effects of the spilled oil might linger even after it had been cleaned up.

Affected barangays

According to him, oil contains persistent compounds, like hydrocarbons, that remain in the environment a long time and could kill marine life.

He said the hydrocarbons could form into globules which could sink under water and smother corals, kill fish larvae and destroy the feeding and nursing grounds of fish.

So far, 20 coastal barangays in the Nueva Valencia, Sibunag and San Lorenzo towns in Guimaras have been affected by the oil spill.

Coyme denied reports that the oil spill had already affected Negros Occidental.

The PCG has also been using dispersants, a liquid chemical that breaks down the composition of the oil and causes it to dissolve or sink, to prevent the fuel from reaching more coastal areas.

Coyme said the PCG’s priority was to contain the oil and stop it from reaching the shore. He said fuel was more difficult to clean up when it reached land.

Top priority

“We are moving more ships and personnel in this area. The President considers the spill as a very serious concern,” Gosingan told the Inquirer.

Gosingan said their priority was to contain the spill at sea because it would be harder if the slick reached the shoreline, as what was happening in at least 20 coastal villages of the island-province.

Capt. Luis Tuason Jr., Coast Guard commander in Western Visayas, said the Coast Guard’s Marine Environmental Protection Units had also been brought in to help contain the spill.

Tuason said the bunker fuel that had leaked from the sunken vessel could have reached from 300,000 to 350,000 liters coming from the first two of 10 cargo tanks of the vessel.

The 998-gross-ton MT Solar I was carrying 13,000 barrels or 2 million liters of bunker fuel when it sank. The tanker was contracted by Petron to deliver the fuel to the Western Mindanao Power Corp. in Zamboanga del Sur.

Senators Richard Gordon, Ralph Recto and Aquilino Pimentel Jr. called on Petron, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and nongovernment groups to help the government cope with the disaster.

Gordon asked the SBMA to make available its oil spill mitigation equipment to remove the spill in Guimaras.

Recto said Petron should clean up the mess. “The amount needed for the cleanup is just a drop in its barrel of profits,” he said.


With reports from Christine O. Avendaño, Juliet Labog-Javellana, Jerome Aning and Edson C. Tandoc Jr. and AFP

Friday, August 18, 2006

Arroyo favors NTC listing of cellular phones

by ES Subong - PIA

President Arroyo favors a proposal that all cellular phone numbers be registered with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) so that the police can easily track and recover stolen mobile phones.

Arroyo created a new task force with police and operational powers to curb the prevalent theft of cell phones and the illegal sale of stolen phones.

The task force is headed by deputy National Security Adviser Virtus Gil, who is assigned to coordinate with the NTC for a comprehensive plan to finally stop cell phone theft and illegal resale.

Gil submitted a proposal to the President, which called for the establishment of a Cellular Phone Registration System (CPRS) that will allow the NTC to track stolen cellular phones.

Under the proposed CPRS, all cellular phones and SIM cards will be registered with the NTC. In case a cell phone is stolen, the owner can report the incident to the NTC to have the phone disabled.

As to some issues on human rights violations that may arise, Gil assured that the proposal would not infringe on the privacy and other rights of mobile phone users.

Gil added that the CPRS project would be useful in preventing cell phone-based scams and use of cellular phones for coordination of kidnap for ransom and terrorist activities. PIA

RP, US Navy teams conduct joint activities

by Eloisa P. Galang - PIA

San Fernando, Pampanga (17 August) -- Philippine Navy Sailors and Marines joined US sailors and Coast Guardsmen in a series of community service projects during the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) maritime security exercise.

The week-long activities from August 14 to 21 were designed not only to conduct important military training together but also to foster mutual cooperation and goodwill between military forces and the civilian population.

On August 16, 2006, US sailors visited the school for blind and deaf children at the International Children's Advocate, Inc., Niño's Pag-asa Center in Old Cabalan, Olongapo City. The soldiers presented to the students 10 sewing machines, fabric and medical supplies for the use of the school and its residents, particularly for its clothing production and repair.

The US Naval medical and dental professionals, Philippine Navy medical, dental and veterinary professionals, and Philippine civilian and public health medical providers also provided free basic medical, dental and veterinary treatment to residents of various towns in La Union. They devoted five days for these activities. Likewise, cross training in various medical and dental techniques were conducted among the Philippine and US Navy personnel.

The US service members donated sports equipment to the Iram Elementary School and Iram High School in Olongapo City; Dulao Elementary School and San Eugenio Elementary School, both in Aringay town, and residents of the city of San Fernando in La Union. These included basketball, softball and volleyball and archery sets which were used when the servicemen joined students in an afternoon of sports activities.

A two-room schoolhouse, the construction of which was started in July, was completed and dedicated in Bacnotan, La Union and a roof of the school in Dulao Elementary School was repaired.

The donations were made possible through the help of private citizens and the US Navy's Project Handclasp program.

Project CARAT is part of the continuing mutual cooperation and joint activities which the Philippines and the US military service personnel conduct to foster closer ties and provide assistance to their respective communities.

Subic rape case resumes; DNA matching of Smith's blood

After a 16-day recess, the trial of American marine Daniel Smith, charged in the rape of a Filipino woman in Olongapo City in November 2005, resumed on Thursday in Makati City with the prosecution presenting two witnesses in their second appearance on the medico-legal aspects of the case.

The witnesses were Dr. Rolando Ortiz of Olongapo City, who issued the medico-legal report of the incident, and Capt. Edmar Dela Torre of the Philippine National Police (PNP) crime laboratory, a certified chemist who conducted the DNA analysis of Smith's blood samples taken in open court last July 25.

The abbreviated hearing rested the case for the prosecution, and Judge Benjamin Pozon of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 139 scheduled the next hearing for September 11.

On that date, defense will commence its testimony but it is not known yet who will be in the witness stand.

Aside from Smith, who stands as the principal accused, the three other American marines charged are Chad Carpentier, Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood.

On cross-examination by defense lawyer Antonio Reposa, Ortiz merely reiterated that among the questions he asked of victim-private complainant identified as "Nicole," was whether or not she has had sexual relations or if she had been pregnant before the alleged incident on Nov. 1, 2005.

Ortiz told the court that the victim admitted to have had sex but had not been pregnant, prompting the victim's irritated mother, Susan Nicolas, to say out loud, "yes, so what else do you want to know?"

Mrs. Nicolas' reaction indicated what private prosecution lawyer, Atty. Evalyn Ursua, told the court as the defense's attempt "to humiliate" the victim-complainant by digging up her sexual history.

During the cross-examination, Ursua continuously torpedoed Rabosa's attempt to force Ortiz to go into the details of Nicole's self-described ob-gyne history. Ursua labeled the questioning "incompetent and irrelevant."

Rabosa insisted the questions he was eliciting cannot be invoked as privileged client-patient communication especially when a DNA analysis (of Smith) is being used in the case.

Dela Torre, on the other hand, categorically stated that the DNA profiles from Smith's blood samples and those in the underwear Nicole was wearing at the time of the alleged rape, matched 99.999 per cent. Dela Torre said that in today's science, this equates to 100 per cent.

Casting aside defense's argument for a "margin of error" and contamination, Dela Torre insisted that his samples met 10 out of the possible 16 markers for DNA analysis, where nine is the minimum requirement.

Highly-revered Jesuit priest, Fr. James Reuter, chair of an American-funded group against women trafficking, attended Thursday's proceedings. (PNA)

US Embassy Official visits Olongapo

US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Paul W. Jones
With Mayor Bong Gordon Inspecting the Gawang Gapo Exhibit @ City Hall Lobby

New Masinloc auction set in Q1

By Lawrence Agcaoili - Manila Standard Today

The government is set to rebid the 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Masinloc, Zambales, toward the end of this year or the first quarter of next year once contentious issues are resolved, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said yesterday.

“We are still hopeful that we can achieve something within the year for Masinloc but not later than the first quarter of next year,” Teves told reporters in a press conference.

The board of Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm), headed by Teves as chairman, has decided to rebid the power plant after YNN Pacific Holdings and Malaysian partner Ranhill Power Bhd failed to pursue the $562 million purchase of the Masinloc power plant in Zambales.

The consortium failed to deliver the upfront payment of $227.5 million for the coal-fired power plant in June 30 paving the way for the official termination of the contract in Aug. 6. The $14 million performance bond of the buyer was forfeited in favor of the government.

Teves said it was important to address several issues in the auction, including the supply contract to ensure a market for the output of the power plant up for sale.

“We have learned from the Masinloc deal and one of the bone of contention is really to have a supply contract. Perhaps this will increase the interest of foreign investors if there is a way we can address this issue of the supply contract,” the finance chief said.

YNN Pacific edged Lopez-controlled First Generation Holdings in a bidding in December 2004. First Gen submitted a bid of $274.85 million, way below the floor price of $388 million set by the government.

The consortium later backed out of the contract when it failed to secure a reliable supply contract for the plant’s output. It also ignored the government’s wholesale electricity spot market as an alternative means to sell the plant’s output.

Teves said the government had yet to finalize details of the rebid, including the auction date and bid price.

“We haven’t gone into those details yet but we will be working on them,” he said.

He added that the government had also agreed to accelerate the privatization of the state-run National Power Corp. and National Transmission Corp. (Transco).

“We had a meeting with the Transco board to facilitate the sale but we want to accelerate the privatization process in the private sector first. We realize that this has not been very successful but we will try to do something about it in the months to come,” he said.

Multilateral lending agencies led by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation are closely monitoring the privatization of Napocor.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cellphone owners told to register with NTC

By Joyce Pangco Pañares -- Manila Standard Today

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has approved the creation of a Cellphone Registration System that will require all SIM card owners to register their phone numbers with the National Telecommunications Commission.

The President appointed Deputy National Security Adviser Virtus Gil head of a task force that would not only implement CPRS but also go after cellphone thefts in the country.

“I have instructed him to form a task force with police and operational powers to curb the incidents of cellphone snatching, which have become prevalent and deadly,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

Gil’s proposal for the setting up of CPRS was brought up during the Export Development Council meeting at the Palace Tuesday.

The proposal was first brought up after the Sept. 11, 2001 bombings in New York after military intelligence report confirmed that cellphones are being used by terrorists to activate homemade bombs.

But several lawmakers and non-government organizations, strongly opposed the proposal, citing possible violations of human rights such as wiretapping and invasion of privacy.

But Gil maintained that the CPRS “would be useful in preventing cellphone-based scams and use of cellphones for coordination of kidnap-for-ransom and terrorists activities.”

Gil, a former police general, also heads Task Force Aurora which President Arroyo created last year to streamline frontline services.

Firms report losses due to BCDA, BHI mess

Shipping firms are losing millions of pesos owing to the ongoing court squabble between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and Bulk Handlers Inc. (BHI) and the government must resolve it immediately, a source from the maritime industry said.

"Shipping companies are losing around $12,000-demurrage fee daily and more international ships are sailing toward Asian Terminals Inc. [ATI]’s South Harbor and Subic Bay Freeport and Harbour Centre as a result of this ongoing squabble," the source said.

Demurrage usually occurs when a ship is forced to stay much longer than the days or hours specified in its charter.

The source said authorities should immediately settled the disagreement between the BCDA and BHI so that the Poro Point could get back to business.

The Poro Point is currently the object of a legal case filed by the PPIC against the BCDA and subsidiary Poro Point Management Corp., stemming from a board resolution passed by the PPMC to control the facility.

Earlier, the San Fernando City Regional Trial Court slapped BCDA and PPMC with a temporary restraining order and a subsequent writ of preliminary injunction.

The injunction issued by the court last month, prevented the BCDA and PPMC from carrying out the take-over resolution and ordered the agencies to observe the terms and conditions of the earlier agreements signed between the port operator and BCDA.

The attempted take over followed previous reports that the BCDA and PPMC had asked the PPA to seize the operations of the port citing a letter from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which asked the PPIC for an environmental compliance certificate. Darwin G. Amojelar - ABS CBN NEWS

Trial Of Four U.S. Servicemen Accused Of Raping A Filipina Resumes

Komfie Manalo - All Headline News Foreign Correspondent

Makati City, Philippines (AHN) - The trial for the four U.S. servicemen accused of raping a Filipino woman, inside a former American base in northern Philippines, resumes today.

The marathon trial will start with the resumption of testimonies of Dr. Rolando Ortiz II, medico-legal for the Philippine National Police, after a two-week break.

Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 139 Judge Benjamin Pozon set August 17 as the date for the resumption of trial and was agreed upon by both the prosecution and the defense.

The trial was suspended for 16 days on August 1 after the prosecution panel sought the break, arguing that Ortiz would be unavailable for two weeks because of an undisclosed illness.

Ortiz, also a criminology professor, was the one who examined "Nicole" at the James Gordon Memorial Hospital in Olongapo City 33 hours after the reported rape. "Nicole" is the court-appointed name for the 22-year-old victim.

The woman is accusing U.S. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith of raping her inside a moving Kia Starex van while they were cruising Subic Bay Freeport, which was a former naval base of the U.S.

She said Smith's three companions Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Domnic Suplantis and Staff Sergent Chad Carpentier was cheering him on during the act

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

SBMA welcomes 10 new investors, $5.3 million investments

by Rebecca Grace S. David

Subic Bay Freeport -- Ten new investors whose projects are worth $ 5.3 million were welcomed to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

The new business partners include steel pipe manufacturer Mayer Steel Pipe Corporation with $ 3.1 million committed investments; estate developer Amires Corporation with $755,000; Taiwanese export trader Taiming International Trading, Inc.with $ 560,000; Japanese industrial machineries manufacturer Mechatro Inc. with $231,000; Norwegian aluminum scaffoldings manufacturer Delta Production Phils Corp with $155,675; Taaianese garden tools trder Wise Center Precision Appliances with $20,000; Taiwanese granite and marble manufacturer Topwin Stone Subic Inc with $100,000; Taiwanese differential probe assembler Sapphire Instruments Subic Bay with $ 120,000 and Korean English Training center Sky English Fluency, Inc with $ 140,000.

The lone Filipino investor will build a holistic retirement village at Subic, This project will cost the Tropical Paradise Retirement Village,Inc. some $115,384.

With these new businesses, there are now 696 locators operating in the Subic Bay Freeport.

Meanwhile, the SBMA posted a total of $ 1.3 billion in committed investments from January to June this year.

The two biggest foreign direct investors (FDI) are the Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries with $ 1 billion and Chinese glass manufacturer Hebei JInghiu with $312 million.

The biggest local investor is the Globe-Telecom Subsidiary Innove Communications, Inc which will infuse $ 6.3 million to provide a complete range of telecom services to the Freeport.

SBMA Administrator and CEO Armand Arreza said that Subic contributed P2.2 billion to the national treasury through its BIR and Bureau of Customs offices here.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue collected P560 million from January to June from withholding taxes, income taxes and other receipts. On the other hand, the Bureau of Customs posted P 1.6 billion for the same period from payment of triffs and duties.

Arreza added that Subic will maintain its reputation as a top revenue earner and job provider in the region. (PIA Zambales)


 

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