Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Architect gives up $1M in protest

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines—For his belief in protecting the environment, architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr. lost what could have been six months of payroll worth $1 million (P48.8 million).

Palafox said he had broken ties with a Korean-backed project in this free port after he learned that more than 300 trees would be destroyed to give way to a casino and hotel resort.

“There are 366 trees there, and 37 of them are century-old, so they are heritage trees already. The reason why I broke with that group (Grand Utopia Inc.) is because I refuse to compromise myself and the environment,” Palafox told the Inquirer by interview on Friday.

“I would have gotten $1 million—six months worth of payroll. But that’s rape of the environment,” he said.

“Frankly, in Korea, a project like this will never be allowed. Their government and people will not allow it. But here, government officials let it happen and we are treated like second class citizens,” he said.

Not his work

Palafox said a foreign architectural firm tapped him to design Grand Utopia’s casino hotel but in the end, he noted, it all amounted to being asked to sign on other people’s work.

“They wanted my name and license, asked me to put my name on the work of others. They have to be investigated for that. No foreign architect can practice in another country without a license,” he said.

Palafox said the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority is “trying to get away from the issue.”

“They said in their letter to Eric Park of Grand Utopia that the area was classified as an urban jungle zone. How can they build several levels of basement garages there if they won’t get rid of the trees?” he asked.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, however, said the agency would protect trees inside the free port and would exert all efforts to save these amid the development of the $120-million Ocean 9 Casino and Hotel Resort.

SBMA promise

“We won’t stand for the cutting of trees. Definitely, we won’t allow it,” said Arreza.

Amethya dela Llana-Koval, head of the SBMA Ecology Center, said the project site is within the central business district of the free port zone that is not classified as a protected area.

“We only characterized that area as an urban jungle because it was densely populated by trees. But the zoning of that area is commercial, so there should really be no objection to establishments being built there,” Koval said.

‘Green spaces’

She said no trees would be cut in that area, a former mini golf course established by the United States Navy here.

“No trees will be cut. That’s our policy. What we’re going to do is ball the trees, nurture them, and place them in ’green spaces’ within the free port. Some of them will even be left in the area, around the perimeter of the proposed establishment,” she said.

The relocated trees, Koval said, would be taken to the “green spaces” or areas where no or minimal development are allowed.

She said the SBMA has given Grand Utopia a demolition permit and a temporary fencing permit. The firm does not have any authority to touch any of the trees in the area, she said.

“They have applied for permits to ball (transplant) the trees, but they have yet to submit the balling plan. The relocation areas are already identified and by the time the environmental compliance certificate has been issued to Grand Utopia—probably by December this year if they comply with all requirements —then the relocation of the trees can begin,” she said.

Koval said the casino and hotel resort project is considered by the SBMA as “non-critical,” which means that the ecology center can issue an ECC to Grand Utopia without the need of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to approve it.

“It is within the jurisdiction of the SBMA, but we will coordinate with the DENR,” she said. By Robert Gonzaga - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

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House panel approves establishment of legislative academy

The House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation has approved the passage of a proposed measure establishing the Philippine Legislative Academy (PLA).

A report posted on the Congress website on Saturday said House Bill No. 5001, authored principally by Speaker Prospero Nograles, is meant to create a corps of career professionals who are experts in legislative work that will provide strategic technical legislative services to lawmakers.

Representative Milagros Magsaysay (1st District, Zambales), a co-author of the bill, said that most of the legislative employees in the House are actually very competent and very professional.

"As a matter of fact, I commend most of them because they know the bills by heart and they know the pieces of legislation filed by previous Congresses," she said.

However, she said there is a need to put up a legislative academy for employees so that their jobs will be made easier and they will be able to perform to the optimum level.

"Besides, being part of the legislative branch of government is already a battle in itself. Thus, we should make sure and ensure that our employees in Congress would have the proper know-how and proper education as far as furthering and enhancing their knowledge with regards to their legislative functions," she said.

Moreover, representatives from the Career Executive Service Board, Civil Service Commission, and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) have unanimously supported the bill.

"We do not see any conflict and we appreciate the fact that the legislature is already doing its part in professionalizing its ranks, so I see this opportunity for far improvement of the governance of our country," said DAP President and CEO Antonio Kalaw.

The other authors of the bill are Reps. Arthur D. Defensor Sr. (3rd District, Iloilo), Neptali M. Gonzales II (Lone District, Mandaluyong), Jesus Crispin C. Remulla (3rd District, Cavite), and Marcelino R. Teodoro (1st District, Marikina City). - Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Senate to probe Subic Hanjin deaths

Sen. Pia Cayetano has asked the Senate labor committee to investigate the Korean shipbuilder Hanjin, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the labor department for the deaths of Filipino workers at the shipyard inside the Subic Bay Freeport since 2006.

“The Hanjin shipyard has virtually become a modern-day killing field, but has any Hanjin official been jailed or even charged in court?” Cayetano said in a statement on Friday following the deaths of Philip Mendoza and Jose Vener Gil on Nov. 20 and 26, respectively.

Pyeong Jong Yu, general manager of the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc., did not reply when the Inquirer asked for comments.

Yu, in a Thursday interview, said 15 workers had died from work-related accidents while two others had died in traffic-related incidents in the shipyard in Subic, Zambales.

Malaria deaths

Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso on Friday said 63 had died from accidents at the shipyard and malaria while living near the shipyard during the construction period.

“The deaths are the aftermath of the arrogant and impervious attitude of Hanjin. It’s acting like it’s beyond the clutches of the law,” Deloso said, referring to the company’s alleged refusal to be inspected by local authorities.

The People’s Task Force for Hanjin and Subic Bay Inc. counted at least 16 deaths as of June 2008.

Cayetano said she would not dispute that Hanjin has infused investments into the country and employed 13,000 Filipinos.

It employs 8,000 workers in the shipbuilding works and 5,000 others for the construction of a second shipyard. President Macapagal-Arroyo has issued an executive order directing all government departments to support Hanjin’s project at the Subic Bay Freeport and its other facility in Mindanao.

“But none of these can justify the authorities’ lack of conviction to punish those responsible and put a stop to the string of workers’ deaths at Hanjin,” Cayetano said.

Safety doubts

She said the deaths of Mendoza and Gil “raised doubts on the effectiveness of the [safety] measures supposedly undertaken, or if these are being implemented at all.”

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the agency welcomes the investigation.

“The SBMA and the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) have been working with Hanjin to ensure full compliance with labor and safety standards,” Arreza said.

He said the efforts include the accreditation of 39 subcontractors of Hanjin, the provision of protective equipment to workers and giving them a basic safety orientation lecture, installation of safety signs, and the deployment of roving teams that enforce safety standards.

Noel de Mesa, president of the Shipbuilders and Construction Workers Association, said the Senate probe should not only establish the violations of labor and safety standards but also confirm the maltreatment of Filipino workers by their Korean supervisors. By Tonette Orejas - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Friday, November 28, 2008


The City Ordinance imposing a “Truck Ban” in Olongapo City has been passed by the city council. Increased economic activities and increase in population has drastically affected the flow of vehicular traffic in Olongapo City.

Ordinance No. 22 is “An Ordinance Implementing a Truck Ban within the Major Thoroughfares, Roads, Streets, and Bridges of Olongapo City otherwise known as “The Olongapo City Truck Ban Ordinance”.

The banned type of ‘cargo trucks’ and vehicles refers to those with gross capacity weight of more than 4,500 kilograms and cargo motor vehicles like: cargo trucks, lorries, fuel tankers, liquid carriers, LPG/LNG tankers, cement bulk carriers, long-bed trailers, 10-20-40 footer container vans and head/tractor; Any size/length container vans and heads, heavy equipment like dump trucks, payloaders, cranes, etc.; cargo trucks and vehicles with more than 6 wheels.

The cargo trucks are banned from Kalaklan Bridge and Olongapo City- Dinalupihan Boundary during the following hours and days: 7:00AM- 9:00 AM and 11:00AM-7:00PM Monday to Friday. Cargo trucks and vehicles carrying food and perishable products are prohibited from traveling from 11:01AM-1:59PM, also Monday to Friday.

The apprehending traffic officer will issue a ‘citation ticket’ for the violation made and the offending driver and vehicle will not be allowed to proceed without paying the corresponding citation fine of P1,500 –First Offense; P2,500-Second Offense; P5,000-Third Offense and impounding of said vehicle.

A city-wide information drive on the truck ban is being implemented in preparation for the total implementation of Ordinance No. 22 starting January 2009. OCPAO

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Gunmen torch 5 Victory buses, wound 7

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Six policemen and a civilian were wounded shortly after midnight yesterday when suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attacked the Victory Liner Bus Terminal on Avenida Street, Poblacion, here, torching five buses and shooting it out patrolling police.

Superintendent Harris Fama, local police chief, said the heavily-armed men engaged police on patrol around 12:40 a.m., wounding six of eight policemen in action.

Fama identified the wounded cops as PO3 Daniel Sison, PO3 Alex de Guzman, PO2 Reynaldo Domalanta, PO1 Herman Camba, PO1 Armeno Abarabar and PO1 Ramon Valencerina.

"Our personnel also managed to hit several armed men as evidenced in information coming from civilians who witness the withdrawal of the suspects," he said, adding that the wounded were out of danger.

As the gunmen made their getaway aboard two white vans, police noticed that a Victory Liner bus had been burning.

Bus conductor Villamor Mu-yanos of Zambales was caught sleeping in the bus when it was torched and sustained third-degree burns, said Fama.

A few minutes later, four other buses were already engulfed by fire, leaving nothing minutes later but carcasses.

While the communist rebels surfaced as the main suspects in the incident, probers are eyeing other angles as motive in the attack, such as labor dispute which emerged as the motive in the burning of buses in Cubao, Quezon City a few months ago.

Fama said checkpoints and chokepoints have already been established in Pangasinan and nearby provinces as augmenting police and military combatants have been called in to join in hot pursuit operations. By LIEZLE BASA • AARON RECUENCO - TEMPO

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Submarines to be built in Subic

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT— It looks and moves like an aircraft, but it can also dive underwater

The Amuza “leisure submarine,” a two-seater vessel the size of a compact car, may soon be built by a Japanese firm in this free port with the help of a Filipino-British car body-parts maker.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza said a prototype of the submersible was successfully tested last week in the waters of Subic Bay.

Submarine builder Amuza Co. Ltd., which first gained popularity for its limousines, wants to start building about 10 production models by the end of the year. The company has been developing the prototype for the last 10 years and has spent about $1.7 million for the project, said Amuza chief executive officer Kiyotaka Miyagawa.

For this project, it has partnered with Taiyo Sangyo Trading and Marine Service Ltd., a former Subic locator, and McGram Fusion, a manufacturer of fiberglass, carbon fiber and Kevlar car body kits. The latter will fabricate the vessel’s hull and other visible components, while electronic parts and systems will be shipped from Japan.

Amuza’s mechanical technologist Keisuke Imada said the two-seater leisure submarine weighs about four tons and is about the size of a typical car, measuring two meters wide, four and a half meters long and two meters high.

Imada said the leisure craft is powered by a lithium-ion battery that is still being developed by Amuza. On a full charge of 10 hours, the vessel can navigate up to 50 nautical miles (about 90 kilometers) and up to 150 meters deep. The sub’s underwater speed is about 5 knots, which makes it ideal for exploration and sight-seeing.

Imada added that the unique submarine “is the most acrobatic submarine in the world” and can be maneuvered to perform stunts like an aircraft. The idea, he said, was “to make it more mobile, as opposed to the traditional sub which can only go up and down.” He added, however, that buyers of leisure submarine must first secure a license from a pilot training station that Amuza also plans to set up in Subic Bay.

Initially, the Amuza plans to invest $5 million for the training school, which will employ 50 to 100 divers, mechanics, and helpers, Imada said.

“Basically, this is a toy for rich people,” Arreza said. “So production would be low, slow, cautious, and of the highest quality.” Written by Henry Empeño - Business Mirror

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Two die in Subic Hanjin accidents

SUBIC BAY Freeport: Another worker from the Hanjin Heavy Industries Corporation-Philippines shipyard died Wednesday after being flattened by a 250-kilogram duct.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority identified the victim as Jose Vener Gil, 42 of Subic, Zambales.

The report submitted by the Korean company to Subic Bay Administrator Armand Arreza said that Gil was unshackling the duct after painting work when it fell on him. He died on the way to the hospital, the report added.

Gil became the second fatality this month after another worker also died on November 20 in a vehicular accident.

Reports identified the November 20 fatality as Philip Mendoza, 40, of Castillejos, Zambales.

But Pyeong Jong Yu, deputy managing director of Hanjin-Phil, said the November 20 incident “was not in any way related to the shipbuilding operations, as the same was caused by a vehicular accident as a result of human frailty.”

Yu also said that Hanjin management would conduct a full investigation “to ascertain whether proper and enough measures are taken to ensure prevention of any further accident.”

He added that whatever the results of the probe, the Korean company would provide “reasonable financial support” to the victim’s family.

He also gave the assurance that Hanjin-Phil and its subcontractors “will exert their best efforts to make the Hanjin shipyard an accident-free workplace.”

Subic Bay management for its part said that they would also conduct a separate investigation on the case. By Anthony Bayarong, Manila Times

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Subic hosts ICT convention

The Subic Bay Freeport, identified recently as one the most viable information technology hubs in the country outside Metro Manila, is hosting starting today (Nov. 27) a two-day convention on information and communications technology (ICT) to help consolidate stakeholders in the booming industry.

The event, which includes a trade exhibition that will run until Nov. 30, was organized by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in close collaboration with the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SBCCI).

The convention and exhibit will be held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) under the theme "E-nnovative Governance: the SubIcTech Formula."

Plenary speakers include Oscar Saez, president of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP); Monchito Ibrahim, commissioner of the Cyber Services Group, Commission on Information & Communications Technology (CICT); and Ma. Lourdes Mediran, deputy executive director of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM).

Guest speakers, meanwhile, include Sen. Richard Gordon, Assistant Secretary Reynaldo Berroya of the Department of Transportation and Communications, and Buhay Partylist Rep. Ma. Carissa Coscolluela, who chairs the Bataan-Olongapo- Zambales Educational Development Organization's Information Technology Council.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said that the convention and exhibit is expected to attract experts, industry leaders, and key decision-makers in the ICT sector.

"With this event, we aim to consolidate stakeholders in the ICT industry, so that the country, including Subic, can really take off as a world-class provider of ICT services," Arreza said. "This is a booming industry, and we must have the necessary facilities to grab a big chunk of the growing market," he added.

Arreza said the ICT industry, considered as one sector with some of the most high-paying jobs in the country at present, experienced a growth rate of 70 percent from 2000 to 2005.

In 2005, he added, the Philippines was considered a location of choice because of relatively less expensive operational and labor costs, making it one of the top 10 BPO destinations worldwide.

The potentials of the industry include Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO), and other creative E-services like software and hardware development, wireless application, digital animation and games, Arreza added.

He also said that the new ICT trends, like E-commerce the groundbreaking way of doing business through the Internet, and using telecommunications and computing tools for marketing and business exchange is currently revolutionizing ways on how business and governance should be done.

As for the Subic Bay Freeport, Arreza said the SBMA recently upgraded ICT facilities here to meet emerging demands in the industry.

"Subic is now ready with the required infrastructures, as well as a talent pool, to be a major player in the ICT business," Arreza said. Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX

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Kapihan Sen. Gordon Interview

On India and Thailand incidents

Q: Do you think what happened in India and Thailand can also happen here?

Gordon: Yes. In fact, the Thais are merely taking a cue from us from EDSA 1 and 2. But they're more aggressive, they have taken over the airports, that's very serious. And the army is still not doing anything about it. I hope that for the sake of Thailand, I really don't want a situation where the army always comes in and interferes in political action like this. It's a very bad precedent.

Q: What could possibly trigger that? Could it be Cha-cha?

Gordon: Well, sometimes people remain quiet and docile and then something breaks. The unabashed attempt to try and change the Constitution ... I'm glad it's dead. I hear it's dead. Many congressmen are taking heed, they're withdrawing their signatures in Congress on the Cha-Cha bid. It really is untenable. It cannot be, to have the Congress act jointly and vote jointly is an impossibility because the Constitution has really delineated the time when Congress can act jointly and vote jointly, and that is only in the case of lifting Martial Law or habeas corpus.

On Bolante

Q: What do we expect tomorrow?

Gordon: Tomorrow we're going to have the hearing. We have invited the regional directors that were not able to come simply because they have been replaced. So now the actual directors who are no longer the regional directors but were the regional directors during the time of the distribution will now be called, so they are expected to shed more light especially to sustain what Dir. Chio has stated that directions were taken from Mr. Bolante and at the same time to sustain the statement made by Dir. Oblena of the fact that Bolante commanded to change the NGO concerned. We will also get the AMLC to come down, Vicent Aquino, to make that report. As you know we have also ordered that Ms. Aytona be brought here. Right now we have the lawyers say that they are going to bring her here, we're not quite sure whether that is going to happen. But tomorrow also we expect more breakthroughs in the matter because of the fact that the AMLC will shed light on the deposits. In the meantime, I have written a letter to the Ombudsman, asking for the action that she has taken on Task Force Abono, something that was given to her almost three years ago. And now it's important that we get her actions especially since we don't want her losing again in the Sandiganbayan for being slow and violating the rights of the people that she hails in court for a very slow process of justice. Tomorrow's going to be, we will really accelerate the pace of the investigation. And hopefully, depending on Mr. Bolante, I already warned him. I just want you all to know that there are about 10 signatures already, I expect it to have 11 by today, they signed it that Mr. Bolante be detained by the Senate and brought either to the Senate or the Pasay detention center.

Q: When are you going to decide on that motion?

Gordon: Tomorrow. Depending on the committee, I'm preparing the instances when Mr. Bolante had been caught lying or had been practically evasive.

We have not issued a warrant of arrest yet on Mr. Bolante. There's a motion.

Before the court is a habeas corpus petition for Mr. Bolante. A habeas corpus petition says, produce the body. I want to make it clear here to all, that Mr. Bolante is not under arrest, he's not under house arrest. He's in his house, he is escorted by the Senate principally because he has said that he fears for his life. He's under protective custody of the Senate. The Court of Appeals, I'm sure, will throw out that proposition because he can go out freely, nakakpasyal sya. I'm told by the Sergeant-at-Arms that he is able to go wherever he wants.

Q: Where will he be detained?

Gordon: That's for me to know, and for him to find out. We can detain him in any detention center that we see fit. We detained Sabio here, and he said he was sick so I had doctors and an ambulance ready.

Q: Most likely he will be detained?

Gordon: We have the votes. That's why he should prepare himself very well. Be frank and candid and not evasive tomorrow. I mean, this is a big hint. We're gonna have 11 signatures already. Seventeen lang yung members, we only need nine.

On shame-on-you sanction

Gordon: Let me tell you what I intend to do later on with the case of Mr. Bolante or other people who will be there. The blue ribbon committee cannot put him to jail. That's clear. We can recommend that a case be filed against them. But the Ombudsman, we cannot push the Ombudsman. We can call her but if she says I'm not ready, wala din mangyayari. So, you and I can either impeach him. And you know impeachment is a political exercise. It's the number of votes. So kung ganun, it's time we come out with a sanction, a "shame-on-you" sanction. With a recommendation that these people should never be allowed to enter into government office at any time in the future. Hindi natin ginagamit yung hiya eh. Yung hiya ginagamit natin na hindi pagiging assertive. Pero yung hiya gamitin natin ngayon para ang tao talagang they will ostracize them.


The Olongapo City Public Library (OCPL) headed by City Librarian Beth Daduya has launched a “Book Fair,” one of the activities lined-up in Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr.’s project named ‘Power of Information and Action’ with the support of First Lady and Zambales Vice-Governor Anne Marie Gordon in partnership with Capstone Institute of Business and the Arts and Sangguniang Kabataan Olongapo.

The OCPL project with the theme “Ang Batang Palabasa, Dalubhasa sa Kultura” will run from November 24-30, 2008.

Several Publishing Companies are taking part in the book fair like the Philippine Christian Bookstore (PCBS), Philippine Publishing Bookstore and Pandayan Bookshop. Books are also being sold at lower prices.

Highlights of the activity are the “Battle of the English Masters” which will be participated in by students and teachers from the different public and private schools in Olongapo, recognition of three best mini-libraries from the seventeen (17) barangays of the city, distribution of books for SK Mini-libraries and Videoke Challenge.

“Ginawa na namin itong “Battle of the English Masters last year at maganda ang naging resulta, nagulat kami sa ipinakitang galing ng pampublikong paaralan laban sa mga pribadong paaralan, kaya ngayong taon ay ipagpapatuloy namin ang labanan ng mga dalubhasa sa Ingles,” Daduya said.

There will also be a contest for those who can submit photos and written information about Olongapo City. The owner of the winning entries will receive a corresponding prize. All library materials will be turned-over to the City Government. Last day for submission of entries will be on December 15, 2008.

Here is the complete list of activities for the Book Fair:

Nov. 24-30, 2008 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM “Book Fair” at OCPL
2:00 PM to 5:30 PM

Nov. 27-28, 2008 8:00 AM to 12:00 NN “Battle of the English
1:00 PM to 5:00 PM Masters” at Sam’s Pizza

Nov. 28, 2008 3:00-5:00 PM -Message of the City
-Distribution of three
(3) Awards for Best
SK Mini Library
-Distribution of Book
Donations for SK
Mini Libraries
-Videoke Challenge

The Book Exhibit at the Olongapo City Public Library in relation to Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr.’s project “Power of Information and Action” with the help of First Lady and Zambales Vice-Governor Anne Marie Gordon. The exhibit began on November 24 and will last until November 28, 2008.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


It’s an early Christmas treat for the employees and officials of the City government. Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. has ordered the release of the Year-End Bonus (YEB) and Cash Gift for Calendar Year 2008 on Tuesday, November 25.

“Maaga ibinigay ni Mayor ang bonus dahil nakikita niya ang pangangailangan ng mga empleyado,” said City Budget Officer Bebeth Marzan.

A total of P12 million pesos (P12M) was released by the city government for the year-end bonuses of more than One Thousand Five Hundred (1500) city government employees.

“Mas marami pang nakahandang ipamimigay si Mayor Gordon at Vice-Gov Anne sa darating na Christmas Party ng Pamahalaang Lungsod,” Marzan said.

“Natutuwa ako dahil ibinigay ng maaga ang bonus namin, may pandagdag na ako sa pambili ng pang-araw- araw na kailangan ng aking pamilya,” said Rosanna Albaladejo of Accounting Department.

City government employees and officials rejoice over the announcement of Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. on the early release of their Year-End Bonus, during the Volunteers’ Day celebration on November 24, 2008 at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC).

pao/ nmm

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The first Subic ICT Congress will start 9am today with the ceremonial ribbon cutting by Mayor James Gordon of Olongapo City and SBMA Chairman Salonga, this will be followed by Fr. Mozo blessing the exhibitor's booths and the venue of the event.

The two day event will be held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center.

The 1st Subic Bay Information Communications Technology (ICT) Congress was borne out of a need to bring together the significant stakeholders in the ICT industry for the purpose of creating a technologically-advanced gateway for trade and an information and communication technology hub for business exchange.

It also aims to showcase the Subic Bay Freeport, recently acknowledged as one of the emerging ICT hubs in the country, as the premier ICT investment destination and global outsourcing center. It will also present ICT opportunities to local government units (LGUs) and empower them to create their own revenue stream through this progressive industry. The event with the theme “SUBICTECH: e-NNOVATING BUSINESS & GOVERNANCE” will focus on this fast-paced field and its sub-industries such as the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and the more universal Knowledge Process Outsourcing which are prime propellants of the nation’s economy. It will also highlight the vast potential of the Subic Freeport as a vital frontier for innovation, service outsourcing and ICT investment promotion.

The congress will take place on November 27 to 29, 2008 and will feature top executives from the country’s leading BPO/KPO firms, vendors, suppliers and the various stakeholders as resource speakers for the plenary sessions which will be held at the modern Subic Bay Freeport Trade and Exhibition Center. A three-day exhibition and trade fair will run concurrently with a series of related meetings and plenary activities and will also highlight a job fair for the ICT and ICT-enabled industries.
BOZE DO-IT Chairman Jay Pena Son and officers of the organization will be inducted during the event. For more information, please visit http://www.ictsubic.com/
National ICT conference formed
by Coun. J. Batapa-Sigue

Iligan City - Information and communications technology (ICT) councils, organizations and federations recently agreed to solidify their support and initiatives for the success of the ICT and outsourcing industry of the Philippines.

Ten major groups representing various cities and provinces all over the country trooped to Iligan City for the first ever National Summit of ICT councils on November 25-26 hosted by Iligan Information and Communications Technology Council (IICTC) and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT).

The newly-formed National ICT Conference of the Philippines (NICP) was conceptualized by IICTC, Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for ICT (BNEFIT), Inc., Metro Clark ICT Council, Quezon City ICT Council, Albay ICT Association (AICTA), Iloilo Federation for IT (IFIT), Cebu Educational Development Foundation for IT (CEDFIT), Cagayan de Oro ICT Council, ICT Davao, Inc., and ICT Solutions Association of Region 12-General Santos City (ISA12GENSAN).

CICT Commissioner Monchito Ibrahim challenged the local stakeholders to concentrate on the areas of human resource development, business environment and public-private sector partnerships to help achieve the national goal of generating one million jobs and USD13 billion revenues in the IT-BPO sector by 2010.

Iligan Mayor Lawrence Cruz and IICTC Chair Emmanuel Lagare welcomed the participants to the 2-day event aimed at bringing together the organized ICT Councils and ICT stakeholders and players to strengthen networking, coordination and camaraderie among them.

The theme of the Summit is: "Advancing Philippine IT-BPO Competitiveness: Networking of Local ICT Players for the National Effort."

The NICP believes that with the guidance of CICT, the local government units can contribute directly to the unified vision of the national government in providing investment and employment for the people.

A technical working group composed of Lagare, Bacolod Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, BNEFIT chair, and Bonifacio Belen, Executive Director of CEDFIT, was created to formulate the working policies and objectives of the group subject to approval of all its members. Aside from those present in the summit, the CICT identified other councils such as Dagupan ICT Council, Urdaneta City Council for ICT (UCC-ICT), Cagayan Development Foundation for IT (CADFIT), Olongapo Zambales Subic Educational Development Organization for IT, Laguna Industry Network for Knowledge, Innovation and Technology (LINK-IT), Bohol ICT Council and Technology of Information and Communications in Koronadal (TICK).

The participants were able to share their strategies in their localities, understand the constraints and success factors of other locations, and learn from each others experiences. The NICP agreed to hold its next year's summit in Clark-Subic Corridor and Bacolod-Iloilo Cyber Region in 2010. (PIA Negros Oc)

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SBMA: Trees won't be cut for hotel-casino project

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines - The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will not allow the cutting of trees to make way for a multi-million hotel-casino project here, officials said on Wednesday.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the agency has told project proponent Grand Utopia, Inc. that the trees should be saved and incorporated in the development plan, which will be subject to SBMA review.

"We won't stand for the cutting of trees. Definitely, we won't allow it," Arreza said in a statement sent to media organizations.

He said a news report saying that the project would destroy some 300 trees in the two-hectare site is speculative.

The report quoted architect Jun Palafox, who said that he was initially tapped to design the project but backed out when he found out that the management "intended to cut the trees."

Arreza said, however, that he did not know why the deal between Palafox and Grand Utopia fell through.

"But the trees are still there, because all that the developer has done at this time was to fence in the area and inventory the number of trees preparatory to balling, which was the procedure we have recommended," Arreza said.

"It's pure speculation that 300 trees will be destroyed because, in fact, Grand Utopia has already applied for a permit to ball the trees," he added.

Arreza said the area, which previously contained a mini-golf course built during the US Navy days, has been classified under SBMA zoning regulations as a commercial area.

"It's true that because of the density of the trees at the mini-golf course, our Ecology Center has classified that part of the site as an urban jungle. But it's still within the commercial zone where development is allowed," he explained.

"This is why the recommendation from Ecology was to incorporate the trees in the development plan, or if that won't be possible, to ball the trees and transfer them to a new location," Arreza said.

The SBMA Ecology Center said that several mature trees affected by development projects in the Subic Bay Freeport have been successfully transferred.

Technicians at the Center said balling is "relatively a simple procedure" although the recovery stage for relocated trees "would be the hard part."

"But we've been doing it," they added.

The Center also said the SBMA has required developers to provide replacements on a ratio ranging from 10 to 50 saplings for each affected tree. On top of this, developers pay a considerable amount for the maintenance of saplings.

Arreza said the Grand Utopia project, which will be known as the Ocean 9 Casino and Hotel Resort, is considered to be a critical infrastructure in Subic's bid to attract more foreign tourists to the growing number of holiday destinations in this free port.

The hotel will be located near Subic's Alava Pier, which is being developed by another firm as a passenger terminal for cruise ships.

The casino-hotel resort is expected to employ more than 5,000 workers once operational. The project is scheduled for completion within two years. - GMANews.TV

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5 murder suspects fall in Zambales

Five wanted men tagged by police as "high value targets" in Zambales were arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) based in Central Luzon, police reported yesterday.

Sr. Supt. Marvin Bolabola, CIDG chief for Region 3, identified those arrested as Junior Abigania, 33; Josefino Abegania, 23; Tranquilino Amoguis, 16; Rolando Escalona, 21, all of Calapcuan, Subic, Zambales; and John Mananita of Barangay Caweg, Subic.

"Their arrest was part of the PNP’s campaign in the region headed by Chief Supt. Nilo dela Cruz (Region 3 director) to intensify our efforts in arresting ‘high value targets’ and fugitives. Our RD wants us to work and work," pointed out Bolabola.

The suspects are wanted to appear before the Regional Trial Court Branch 74 in Olongapo City for the murder of one Cresencio Tatunay on Dec. 8, 2006. (Mar T. Supnad - TEMPO)

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Alleged NPA leader nabbed in Olongapo

An alleged officer of the New People’s Army (NPA) was arrested by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Olongapo City Wednesday morning, a police official said.

Senior Superintendent Marvin Bolabola, regional officer of the CID unit in Olongapo City, said they have arrested Oscar Belleza, allegedly a leader of the NPA operating in the areas of La Paz, McArthur, Buraruen, Inopacan, and Baybay in Leyte.

The arrest stemmed from a warrant of arrest issued by the Leyte regional trial court under Judge Efraim Abando against Belleza, who is facing charges of multiple murder, Bolabola said. By Abigail Kwok - INQUIRER.net

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As part of Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr’s anti-fire cracker campaign, a drum festival, dubbed ‘Kalampa-Jam 2008: Hataw Tambulan, Bagsakang Pang-Kalikasan, Kakaibang Pasabog sa Bagong Taon’, will be held.

“Hinihikayat ko lahat na sumali dito dahil this will be a celebration of our culture at upang maging safe at mas Masaya ang ating pagdiriwang ngayong pasko at bagong taon,” said Mayor Gordon.

Kalampa-Jam 2008 is open to all bonafide Filipino residents of Olongapo City regardless of age. The group shall be comprised of at least ten (10) members but not more than fifteen (15) persons.

Participants must use drums and costumes made from recycled indigenous materials such as ‘bamboo sticks’ as drum sticks, costumes from recycled plastic and paper, and paint cans or plastic drums as instruments. Other instruments such as horns made of cardboard boxes and tin based cymbals may also be used.

The competition is divided into two levels: the elimination round and one city level where the top three groups from the elimination round will battle it out for the top prize.

The elimination round will be held on December 9 & 10, 2008 and the city level competition will be held on December 13, 2008.

For the City level, the prizes are P20,000 for the champions, P 15,000 for the first runner-up and P10,000 for the second runner-up.

For groups interested to participate and for other details regarding the contests, visit your Barangay Hall and register.

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Hotel project in Subic to destroy 300 trees - report

A Korean hotel and casino project inside the Freeport zone in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority threaten the existence of about 300 trees, a television report said Tuesday.

Reporter Kara David said on GMA news 24 Oras that the 300 trees (30 of these are classified as endangered species) would cut off to clear the two hectares area where the Grand Utopia hotel and casino project is supposed to rise.

The report said a local architect Jun Palafox, who was first hired by the Grand Utopia Inc to design the project, decided to back out when he found out that management intended to cut the trees.

“We found out only last October that there was a September confirmation by the Ecology Center of SBMA that the existing usage (of the area) is urban forest. I could also put some building in the urban forest, but you can design it in such a way you can preserved those trees," Palafox said.

The report added that Grand Utopia hired Yamasaki architect, an international firm to design the hotel and casino project, which is said to give employment to 1,000 workers.

“We thought we can be able participate in the design and what’s happening there’s wrong with the procedure. A foreign architect was asked to design the project and for me just to attach my name," according to Palafox.

The management of Grand Utopia admitted getting the service of Yamasaki architect, but denied that the tree would be cut.

“We are not going to cut trees in Subic. We are going to transfer them two blocks away. We are a development not a destroyer," said Eric Park, project proponent.

Park assured that they would replace 15 trees in each tree that they would not be able to save.

“If it is technically impossible to ball out the tress, we will replace each tree with 15 more trees," Park assured.

GMA News has been able to get a copy of a document from the Ecology Center of SMBA indicating that the area where Grand Utopia will be constructed is classified as urban forest.

But SBMA chief Arman Areza defended the project and stressed that the area is identified as commercial zone.

“The existing master plan for that area allows for resort, hotel, entertainment…basta no cutting, transferring we will allow," Areza said.

Construction in the area has not started as the Grand Utopia has not secured yet the environmental compliance certificate of ECC from the Environment department. But the ground breaking ceremony took place recently to which by local officials of Olongapo City attended. - Fidel Jimenez, GMANews.TV

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PDEA says Subic shabu case far from over

The case involving the smuggling of P4-billion worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) into the Subic Bay Freeport in May is far from closed, the chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said here on Tuesday.

Retired Gen. Dionisio Santiago said the case has yet to see closure as the main suspect, Filipino-Chinese Anthony “Anton” Ang, continued to elude arrest six months after he failed to claim the contraband he passed off as computer parts.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority police and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group discovered the haul in four batches totaling more than 700 kg. The biggest load was found at the Anglo Asia warehouse that Ang rented at the freeport.

“We haven’t gotten Anton Ang. How can you close the case when you have not arrested the main suspect? There’s no case closed. We only discovered the operations. This may take years and the criminal case may take long,” Santiago said.

He also called as false reports that Ang had been killed to silence him. “He’s still alive. He’s in China,” Santiago said, citing intelligence reports.

Ang, he said, escaped because the order to hold his departure came late.

“He will be mistaken if he thinks the PDEA has rested the case. We don’t easily stop. This is a continuing effort. If he can stay forever in China, well and good,” Santiago said.

On the order of President Macapagal-Arroyo, the PDEA burned the shabu in June in a facility in Cavite.

Ang snubbed the efforts of Santiago to seek protection from the PDEA. By Tonette Orejas - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The annual commemoration of Volunteer’s Day was successfully held on November 24, 2008 at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC), Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ).

Senator Richard Gordon graced the ceremonies as the guest of honor and keynote speaker. Also present were Olongapo City Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr., Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza, Vice Mayor Cynthia Cajudo, other Olongapo City officials and guests from other parts of the country.

Former Subic Bay Volunteers from the different sectors of society joined the commemoration to relive the hardships and triumphs of the volunteers after the pull-out of the U.S. Military Base in 1992.

To start the commemoration, a parade was held from the Olongapo City Mall where participants, which include teachers and students from Department of Education (DepEd), Sanguniang Kabataan Federation, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of the Philippines, Senior Citizens, Balikatan Ladies and UBSP-Sugpo-Sampol, assembled.

The parade proceeded to the SBECC for a program where different musical numbers, including those by the widely-applauded Bonggo Band of Mayor Gordon, BB. Olongapo Claudett delos Reyes and SK Federation Pres. Cheene Hoya, were presented.

After the performances, Senator Gordon delivered his keynote message where he recalled the struggles the Subic Bay Volunteers underwent to make SBFZ a bustling industrial hub of Asia.

“We’ve faced hardships and struggles pero dahil sa ating pagtutulungan, we made it through. That day, on November 24th, was the first time that the Philippine flag, the biggest flag that we made here, ay ang tanging bandila na nakawagayway without any other foreign flag,” said Senator Gordon.
After the program, the participants proceeded to the Volunteers’ shrine for a flower offering. The shrine is home to the statue of the ‘Children of the Sun Returning’.

“Ang bawat taong nag-volunteer, lalaki, babae, pati na ang mga anak ninyo, mga mukha ninyo ang nandyan dahil kayo ang naghirap upang maging maganda ang Subic Bay Freeport Zone! Kayo lang ang may ganyan sa buong bansa” said Senator Gordon.

Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr. with City Councilors Ellen Dabu, Elmo Aquino and Nathan Manalo at the head of the parade in the commemoration of the 16th Volunteers Day on November 24, 2008.


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Senator Dick Gordon's privilege speech at the Philippine Senate on the occassion of Subic Volunteers' Day
Mr. President, I rise on a matter of personal privilege.

Today is the day when the Americans in Subic Bay, which they formerly held, struck down a foreign flag in our country for the last time. For the first time no foreign flags fly in our country, and that occurred on November 24, 1992.

I was in Subic Bay this morning together with the thousands of volunteers who accompanied us when we took over Subic Bay so that it could be converted into a Freeport. I just wanted to point out that, I think, we owe these volunteers that served in Subic Bay, the gratitude for having preserved the honor of our country. Nothing was stolen and at the same time have been able to move Subic into a new level of development. And I will file the necessary resolution after this, Mr. President.

I also rise, Mr. President, on a matter of collective privilege principally because up late, there have been noises in the Lower House that talks about calling for a Constituent Assembly, a Constituent Assembly that would occur before the elections of 2010. And having said that, Mr. President, it would appear that they are even positing a theory that we are going to vote jointly and not separately.

Mr. President that would be a travesty of the Constitution, because it is very clear in the Constitution that Congress is a bicameral body with two houses. Under Article VI, Congress is identified and defined as the legislative power being vested in two houses of Congress, which are the Lower House and the Upper House.

Going further in the Constitution, the Constitution has really delineated the times when Congress can vote jointly and must vote separately, although meeting jointly. The time when they can meet jointly, but vote separately is enshrined in the matter of, under Article VII, in the matter of the powers of the president when he declares Martial Law, and the Congress would like to reject Martial Law or the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus. And it provides there that Congress meets jointly and vote jointly. Now in the matter of a situation where the Congress meets in joint session but votes separately, that is the time when we have to declare an existence of a state of war. And this is provided for in Section23 of Article VI of the Constitution. And it's very clearly delineated there that Congress can meet jointly but vote separately on the matter of declaration of war. While the provision on Constitutional amendments is stated, it states that Congress can amend the Constitution by two-thirds vote when calling for Constitutional Convention or two-thirds vote when acting as a Constituent Assembly. That's already pointed out, Congress is composed of two bodies.

Having said that, Mr. President, I feel that we must counsel and admonish our friends in the Lower House that such a move would be disastrous to the country, especially during these difficult times of the world. Today there is a contagion happening in the whole world today, where the mightiest nations like the United States have practically been diminished. There is no in the United States right now, they have to conduct a bail out and this is creating a situation where credit is constricted and when credit is constricted there will be factories that will have to close down because they do not have the credit to continue their operation as GM, Chrysler and Ford are currently undergoing and at the same time that will result in the loss of jobs. The loss of jobs as well as the closing of these factories will result in diminishing productivity. We are a country that is exporting auto parts to Japan and the United States and this is why I feel that to call a Constituent Assembly right now is really a situation where I think this will be a shameless act as well as an untimely act.

I would like to say this, the economy slowed down significantly in the first half of this year. The gross domestic product, adjusted to inflation, grew only 4.6% in the first half of this year compared to 7.6% in the same period last year. The inflation rate, meanwhile, is still in double digit and very slow to decelerate. The growth slow down came about even before Japan, the second largest market for Philippine exports and now that these economies had entered a recession�this would only mean further weakening of the Philippine economy.

When the country stopped manufacturing products of semi-conductors for the (inaudible) global retrenchment of the information technology sector, the dot.com mess, real GDP of the Philippines grew only 1.8 percent. The real income of every Filipino decreased as a result. This time, all sectors in the US and Japan are retreating which can only mean further dampening of our economic growth, the operation will be impeded an the unemployment rate will rise. This is not to ignore the fact that England is also under the heel, Belgium, even China, even Russia are now under the heel of this contagion, Mr. President.

All these are bad news for Filipinos, they're actually poor, the truly disadvantaged members of our society are bound to swell and standards of living will deteriorate for everyone. We must do all we can therefore to mitigate these dire outcomes if not prevent them altogether.

Mr. President, calling for a constituent assembly today will be a step in the wrong direction and will be giving off stupid signals to our country. At the most fundamental level, what this means is the economy will require the undivided attention of the political leadership. It is not a time to be divided, it is a time to focus on the real problems of the nation. Constituent assembly will divide us, rather woefully.

In this regard, Mr. President, I propose two approaches:

1. a public sector employment program based on countryside industrialization; and

2. an enhanced social protection program.

First, Your Honor, the government must take a lead role in creating jobs. The private sector's ability for job creation has been weakened by the recession in the US and Japan and the looming slowdown in China, India and Europe. The government cannot just stand by the road as workers in large numbers lose jobs, according to National Statistics Office, 7.4% are unemployed in this country while 21% are underemployed, and find it nearly impossible to put food on the table. An SWS survey, conducted last June 27-30, 2008, revealed that 2.9 million Filipino families or 14.5 million Filipinos are experiencing involuntary hunger or hunger due to lack of food.. Even more telling is that those experiencing severe hunger increased to 4.2 percent, equivalent to 760,000 families in June.

With problems in unemployment and underemployment, Filipino families find it hard to seek health and medical care. The IBON Foundation reported that 73.38% of families are having difficulties in paying for medicine and treatment.

The problem spawned by unemployment and underemployment does not end with hunger and lack of health and medical care. It also affects children's education since most families will have difficulties in sending their children to school. According to Department of Education September 8, 2008 Factsheet, National dropout rate in elementary is 5.99% while 7.45% in highschool. This means that, for every 100 children who enter grade 1, only 68 will reach grade 6, only 48 will finish high school and only 17 will enter college.

There is a proven way for the government to engage in job creation and stimulate the entire economy. This is by increasing its spending for infrastructure, particularly, in the countryside. Economists have a word for it - PUMPPRIMING. Secondary and farm-to-market roads, for instance, are labor-intensive. The potentials for job creation are immense. And here is where this country and the government should try to accelerate development by taking advantage of the infrastructure that is being built. For example, The 94 kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, which opened this year, has generated more than 3,400 jobs at its peak level by hiring site workers, heavy equipment operators, engineers, SCTEx-PMO staff and other construction-related professions.

These road projects integrate rural agricultural areas to the urban centers resulting in increased incomes for farmers and fisher folks. As rural and urban markets get integrated, the private sector is encouraged to invest and locate in the countryside.

We are seeing this kind development occurring days in CALABARZON and Central Luzon. There is no reason why they cannot be replicated in other parts of the country.

For example, if you look at the SCTEX program, you will find that it comprises three airports and two seaports and are separated by high-speed highways. And beside these high-speed highways, vast lands that are empty. This is great opportunity now to invite investors to come down to our country and utilize these lands so they could be attractive to foreign investors because they would have access to three airports and two seaports and in the process find very, very great sourcing and opportunities (inaudible) on everybody because there will be less traffic to export their products and to import their raw materials by using this area.

Mr. President, In Mindanao, development is underway with the proposal for the creation of the Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA) and the implementation of the Fruits of Hope Program, which we started in the Red Cross.

The creation of the MEDA will strengthen the existing Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) which was created on 19 March 1992 by virtue of Executive Order No. 512. The MEDA shall promote, coordinate, and facilitate the active and extensive participation of all sectors to effect the socio-economic development of Mindanao. It shall also act as an implementing agency for Mindanao-specific interregional and Mindanao-wide programs and projects, whenever necessary.

The continued implementation of the Fruits of Hope Program will connect the fruit producers of Sulu to palengkes and market vendors in the metropolis. The program will initially tap the products of Sulu, Basilan and Cotabato. But eventually will cover all areas of Mindanao that can benefit from direct links to the markets of Metro Manila.

These two programs are mere proposals, Mr. President. But we can formalize these so that our people will find opportunity and perhaps (inaudible) we'll find hope so that instead of carrying a weapon or firearm to kidnap other people or to go and join banditry or bandits or for that matter, go against the government, these people can find hope by making sure that when they plant, it can all be sold to Manila or to the adjoining areas, Mr. President.

I am happy to note that the US government is building an airport in Sulu. And I don't mind saying here, one of the amendments that I made in last year's budget was the ear that we construct an airport in Lanao which should reward the people of Cotabato, North Cotabato that has dramatically improved its economic condition coming down from a very, very lowly bottom 20 of the poor or the poverty affected provinces to become number 27 on the totem pole of developing provinces.

Moreover, investment in roads and other countryside infrastructure, render tourist spots more accessible. Tourism can be relied on to generate additional employment, especially, if the Department of Tourism (DOT) can put additional resources in active promotion and marketing. These new promotional efforts can be realized with the enactment of the Tourism Act of 2008 which would create the Tourism Economic Zone Authority (TEZA), the sole body responsible for the creation of tourism economic zones throughout the country. Among the areas where tourism economic zones will be set up are Bohol, Cebu, Naga and Davao.

Establishing tourism economic zones would pump prime development, create jobs, investments and dollars in the farthest regions of the country, and create model communities of sustainable development. These benefits are achieved through the implementation of the following incentives: (1) in a tourism zone, any developer or investor will deal directly and only with the TEZA; (2) new enterprises, or Greenfield tourism zones, are entitled to a six-year income tax holiday, which period may be extended depending on the completion of certain requisites; (3) every zone must follow a development plan; (4) the TEZA will have the resources to clear beaches, plant forests, rebuild and preserve historical sites, and create sustainable business opportunities for local communities and indigenous peoples.

Clearly, a public sector employment program anchored on investing and modernizing our country's infrastructure, especially, in the countryside is consistent with the short-tem concern of job creation, and long-term goals of poverty eradication and balanced regional industrialization.

Secondly, enhancing the government's social protection programs has taken on a new sense of urgency. We need to have a national response based on streamlining and strengthening all government institutions responsible for social insurance and line agencies in charge of social welfare.

The Social Security System (SSS) must think in terms of an employment insurance program, one that encourages private enterprises to retain workers not to lay them off. Unemployment insurance as practiced in many developed countries distorts incentives of both workers and firms to forge new job-worker matches at the soonest time possible and must be avoided.

An employment insurance program works much like previous programs where the government pays part of the cost of hiring and training young unskilled workers on the job. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) can work out the details of such programs in partnership with private firms.

At the same time, we can expect no less from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). The GSIS must refocus its benefit programs towards assisting its members in a meaningful way, whether retirees or active members. Salary loans can be upgraded to cope with the rise in the inflation rate. It can reinstitute education loans for children of its members to help address an absent credit market for post-secondary education.

In terms of social welfare, we must support the conditional cash transfer program of the Department for Social work and Development (DSWD). By making cash support to families conditional on putting children of school age in school and parents availing of maternal and child health care, this program is aligned with our goal in the long run to increase the country's human capital and skilled manpower base.

We should not be throwing money away without making conditions on the people who receive them such as making their children go to school in return for the largesse of the government.

But the government must take care of the supply side. It must solve the perennial shortages in school buildings and health and medical clinics. According to DepEd's 2009 Budget proposal, there is an estimated requirement of 7,087 new classrooms for elementary and secondary and an additional 2,667 new classrooms for pre-school levels in almost 43,000 public schools nationwide. Actually, 42,917, which is the actual number of public schools). In this regard I urge this body to enact the bill that I have sponsored on a Health and Education Acceleration Program. I pray that the new leadership will give due priority to this measure in order to bail out our public school pupils, 88% of the total enrolment are in Public Schools or 17,430,666 public school pupils, from the pitiful state of our educational and health care program.

Why is it that we allow our children to go, especially in the urban areas like Dasmarinas and Caloocan, to go to school in a classroom of 100 pupils, Mr. President? How can the teacher get to the student? In fact, the figure of 7,087, you really need 40,000, because the 7,087 talks about a three-tiered class. There are two sets of classes, morning and afternoon, and in more cases there are also third classes. In other words, three classes. And our teachers, their salary today is an average of P12,000. Ang kanilang social backbone when it comes to borrowing loans is "LONDON"�Loan dito, Loan doon. Kaya hindi nila nakukuha ang pera na kanilang sinusweldo sapagkat gipit na gipit sila sa nagpapautang ng pera sa kanila. And that is why we should really pay attention in schools as a way upon which we can generate other resources. If we can, for example, get the telcos to cut out from the two billion text messages a day, 200 million pesos na lang a day, we'll have P73 billion, and from that we can speed up the construction of 40,000 classrooms, pump prime the economy, I think you will run out of carpenters, I think you will run out of yero and pako, and all that because that will certainly pump prime the economy. And when you have 40,000 classrooms, you can even charge not just P600,000 but P1 million per classroom, including computers in the classrooms, including toilets where is an absence of toilets, the national ratio is 151 students to one toilet bowl.

So much so that all these can help pump prime the economy and improve our social infrastructure, and put out the necessary investments that will create a very bright future for the very poor in our country.

There are two programs�public sector employment and enhancing social protection�that I am proposing. We cannot afford to have runaway deficits in the national government budget as we adopt these twin programs. As we begin deliberations on the proposed P1.4-trillion national budget, it behooves every senator to look at the large and persistent budget deficits amounting to P62.3 billion as of October as compared to P41.5 billion last year, which if left unchecked would continue to raise interest rates, dampen investment, and unduly raise the cost of public debt servicing. For 2009, the government will be allotting P700.6 billion to pare debts next year. Hence, we must continue to guard against rising interest rates.

Mr. President, this humble representation proposes that we scrutinize every spending item in the national government budget and cut those that are not socially efficient. Let us examine deficit-ridden government corporations like the National Food Authority (NFA) and excise their socially wasteful programs and projects.

The NFA's delayed implementation of family access cards that would limit the sale of government-subsidized rice to poor families allowed rich families to take advantage of the government's subsidy program and has cost the government billions of pesos.

Mantakin nyo, Mr. President, yung mga bigas na ibebenta para sa mga mahihirap, ay ginamit pa ng mga mayayaman at nilamangan pa ang mga mahihirap, at lumaki pa ang utang natin.

A World Bank study revealed that 40 percent of funds intended for the Philippine government's rice subsidy and food-for-school programs did not reach the poor.

The study found that in 2006 only 31 percent of all the NFA rice went to the poorest sectors while as much as 41 percent ended up in non-poor households. The top two richest income groups consumed some 16 percent of the NFA rice.

This is a travesty, Mr. President. The study said "design weaknesses, mis-targeting, and significant leakage to the non-poor" in the subsidy programs have compromised the efforts of the government to protect the poor through social protection schemes. It estimated that the cost of the subsidy program could possibly be as high as P60.9 billion in 2008.

Mr. President, let us wake up to this reality because we cannot be apathetic to this situation.

The NFA, being a corporation, must mimic a private corporation. It cannot claim that it was created to lose money. This is irresponsibility at its highest level. Instead, the NFA must rise to the challenge of providing a public good without wasting taxpayers' money.

At the same time, having been the Chairman of the Committee on Government Corporations, I believe that we must think in terms of having a merged social security system focused principally on the retirement benefits and pension funds of its members. At the very least, such an institutional reform will reduce the cost of running the system and making it responsive to the needs of the membership.

Tignan po natin. Pwede kaya ipagsama ang SSS at GSIS para mas mabawasan ang gastos sa mga empleyado nyang mga korporasyon na yan at para lalong masisilip natin kung ang patakbo nyan ay nasa tama sapagkat isa na lang ang sisilipin natin. Siguro it's time to look into that and try to find out if whether in fact we can merge these corporations..

Furthermore, the government must in the interim strengthen oversight functions over the SSS and GSIS to make sure that they do not incur huge losses in their investment activities. (According to the SSS, it has no overseas investments. Its investments, which amount to P216.9 billion, are all in the local market. In 2007, the GSIS declared a net income of P40.6 billion. Its total Global Investment Program portfolio is estimated at P26.54 billion.) It is unfortunate that not even the Department of Finance (DOF) is represented in the boards of both the SSS and the GSIS. This arrangement is untenable and could lead to the recurrence of financial crises in these institutions in the future. (The GSIS has 1.3 million active members; the SSS has 27 million members.)

Mr. President, I propose a burden-sharing scheme. We can do no less in these trying times. Let us look at all lump-sum items in the national government budget for all branches of government and be prepared to cut them.

This way, hindi na tayo pwedeng bolahin ng mga Bolante. Because yung mga lump sum na yan hindi natin nahahagip ay ikinakalat at ipinamamahagi at talagang napakalaking mga kurakot ang ginagawa ng mga yan.

In addition, let us have a genuine partnership with local government units by doing grant-matching programs with their Internal Revenue Allotments. Much of the benefits from national government assistance to LGUs are captured by the latter's jurisdictions. It is right that the LGUs share in the cost of delivering those benefits.

For other infrastructure programs and other public investments that have cost-recovery features, we must adopt public-private partnerships. The possibilities for partnering with the private sector, which encompasses business, civil society, and volunteer organizations, are huge and promising. I have seen these partnerships thrive with my experience as chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross. I assure you, Mr. President, that the potentials for delivering remarkable outcomes from these partnerships are indeed great.

We can then responsibly reallocate all of these spending cuts in the budget to the public sector employment and enhanced social protection programs that I am proposing.

Meanwhile, the DSWD must accelerate the preparation and implementation of its national targeting scheme. A system of identifying truly deserving beneficiaries in delivering government programs is crucial to avoid leakages. In addition, the DSWD must have a mechanism for exiting from the program. In other words, the program must not encourage welfare dependency.

Times are going to be hard. The Senate must lead the national response in dealing with our economic problems. In this regard, it is highly irresponsible, if not insane, to think of amending the Constitution through a Constituent Assembly at this juncture.

Over the weekend, I had the chance to talk with my good friend, the Speaker of the House, Prospero Nograles. I used to call him Pros-PERU when we were in the Ateneo when we were staying in the dorm together. We have created a friendship. At times he would come to Olongapo and stay in our home and spend his weekends there. But in spite of this friendship I told him in no uncertain terms, I was warning him that he was creating a very serious situation if he persists in allowing his members to coming out with a Constituent Assembly without including the Senate at a time when we are supposed to be preparing the ramparts against this tsunami-like cord of economic contagion or financial crisis that are about to hit us.

And therefore, Mr. President, I repeat that admonition today, such an exercise is divisive, ill-timed, and wasteful. The Constitution has not even been shown to be the root cause of our weak capacity to modernize and transform our economy and society. Even for the sake of argument, there would be no immediate investments in the next two years of any serious proportion because there is no credit availability for many of this investment firms. A ConAss will not make the economy more resilient. It will not equip it with a newfound ability to thwart the decline in employment and income.

Mr. President, this august chamber must resist the Charter Change initiated by some of our colleagues in the House of Representatives. It would be better for them to abandon their plan, lest they stand to face the public wrath. I strongly warn our colleagues in the Lower House, as I warned their Speaker, not to disregard the Senate in their attempt to railroad Charter change. They cannot by-pass the Senate and they will not succeed in doing so. If they truly represent the people and feel their sentiments, they should not tinker with our Constitution at all. Much less, we will not allow the Senate's voice - and vote - on the matter of Charter Change be diminished or laid aside. WE SHALL NEVER YIELD.

Mr. President, I have already said that Article XVII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution provides that any amendment to - or revision of - the Constitution may be proposed by Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members.

I have already pointed out the instances when Congress can vote jointly and separately. I think that is clear enough..

Changing the Constitution at this time is not only divisive and ill-timed, but also incendiary when our people are hard-pressed with the skyrocketing prices of commodities and the deleterious effects of the global financial crisis upon them.

Now is not the time to change the 1987 Constitution. We should instead focus our energies and attention on the problems confronting us, especially on the impact of the global financial crisis. We cannot remain divided at this time as a nation and as a people.

This representation, Your Honor, strongly proposes that the issue of introducing any amendments to or revisions of the Constitution should be an election issue among our national candidates so that the move to change it only will occur after May 2010. That way we can have a wiser election, where people go out in the campaign, and when they campaign they can tell the people, in effect asking permission to amend the Charter, what position they would take, so that when they are elected, people would know whether they want the terms to be extended, or for that matter, whether the president should be given a second term, formally.

Mr. President, it is important that we have this wise election and at the same time, I would like also to caution everybody that indeed, time is running out on automated election. The Commission on Elections has brought down the value from P21 billion to P13 billion. I believe that we can still bring it down by imaginative legislation such as early elections so that we can have less machines that have the capacity to count the votes more in a longer time allotted for the voter for the elections to transpire.

Mr.President, we just had a vendor fair recently, sponsored by International Federation for Election Reform. I was made very hopeful that, indeed, this can happen.

The upshot is this, Mr. President: (1) Responsible and vigorous public sector employment and enhanced social protection programs stand a good chance of overcoming the adverse effects of the looming global recession spawned by the financial crisis in the United States; (2) The ConAss is an irresponsible act. The country needs it like it needs a hole in the head. I beg to move that The Senate must resist this initiative; (3) Ensuring clean, orderly, honest, and credible elections in 2010 is non-negotiable.

I will end by citing where I began, Mr. President.

Sixteen years ago, 8,000 volunteers went into Subic Bay believing in their future. They were not divided, they were focused on protecting and preserving the facilities left by the Americans, so that they will prosper.

Today, Mr. President, there are 87,000 people employed in Subic Bay. They make ships. Not just small ships, but big ships. They make computer parts, they make computers, in fact. And they make everything. And certainly by focusing on this, we have proven that the Filipino can find his future in our own native Filipinas.

This is my plea today, it is my hope that we can, in fact, focus on the proper things in life for our country so that we could provide life for our people.

And to make the long story short, Mr. President, I would like to challenge this Senate to live up to the expectation that this is indeed Senatus Populi Filipinae.

Mr. President, thank you all very much.

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Ocean 9 casino-hotel devt breaks ground in Subic Freeport

Ocean 9 Casino and Hotel Resort, an integrated hotel-resort development which features a convention center, broke ground last week along Subic Freeport’s Waterfront Drive.

To be completed in 2010, the fifteen-storey project will provide jobs for 5,000 workers and will cost some $120 million. It is also expected to attract more tourists in the area.

The structure will occupy a 9,713 square meter area. A secondary building, which will house a three-storey casino, is expected to occupy 4,200 square meters.

Besides offering a central stage for live performances, the structure also features a walkway that could be used for fashion shows, Grand Utopia Inc., the company that proposed the development said.

The casino’s first floor will have 500 gaming tables with each table fitted with an organic light emitting diode (OLED) for visual effects.

One side of the structure’s main hall will have 60 to 120 luxury stores, selling premium items from Italy and France, Grand Utopia Inc., the company that proposed the development said.

“The hotel and casino complex will be built using cutting-edge technology and advanced architectural systems in order to make a unique design that will blend comfort with entertainment," said Moon-Sung Choi, Grand Utopia chairman.

Among those who witnessed the groundbreaking include Choi, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) chairman and CEO Efraim Genuino, Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon Jr., Zambales Vice-Gov. Anne Gordon, and representatives of the Korean business community in Subic. - GMANews.TV

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Monday, November 24, 2008


The Olongapo City government in partnership with the Olongapo City AIDS Council (OCAC) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is gearing up for the observance of World AIDS Day on December 1, 2008.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2008 is “Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise.”

A simple traditional parade will be held beginning at 4 o’clock in the afternoon from the Olongapo City Mall going to the Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Covered Court where a short program will follow headed by the OCAC under the guidance of Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr.

Various civic groups, representatives from the local government, NGO’S, students, and various establishments of the city are expected to attend the occasion . Delegates will wear white t-shirts with red ribbon. The red ribbon is the international symbol of AIDS awareness and is worn by advocates all year round to demonstrate care and concern about HIV and AIDS, and to remind others of the need for their support and commitment.

The highlight of the celebration will be the ‘candle lighting’ that symbolizes the participation of Olongapo City in the World AIDS Day. It is also a way of remembering those who died of AIDS, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

Part of the 20th celebration of the World AIDS Day in Olongapo is the ‘human ribbon formation’ which will be participated in by more than fifty (50) persons.

According to UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) estimates, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children, worldwide. Around ninety-five percent of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing nations.

The city government of Olongapo and the OCAC are continuously implementing programs for AIDS awareness and consciousness. For information on AIDS , call the AIDS hotline at telephone number 224-2437.


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A groundbreaking ceremony of a new casino in Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), the Ocean 9 Resort and Casino, was held on November 19, 2008 on a lot near Bldg. 229 along Waterfront Road. Present during the ceremony were Olongapo City Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr., Zambales Vice Governor and Olongapo City First Lady Anne Marie Gordon and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza.

The $120 M Ocean 9 Resort and Casino is one of the many new investments at Subic Bay Freeport Zone this year.

“This is a very big opportunity for all of us. Investments like these not only help improve the economy of our city but also help Olongapeños get more jobs and have a steady income,” said Mayor Gordon.

“More investments mean that there are more jobs waiting. This creates a stronger workforce that will contribute to the strengthening of the economy in these times of global financial crisis,” Mayor Gordon added.

Labor and Employment is part of Mayor Gordon’s HELPS program, which aims, among others, to create more jobs for Olongapeños and help them have better lives and thereby, contribute to strengthen the growth of the city’s economy.

Olongapo City Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr., Zambales Vice Governor and Olongapo City First Lady Anne Marie Gordon and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza with the officials and investors of Ocean 9 Casino and Resort during the groundbreaking ceremony of the said business firm on November 19, 2008. The casino is expected to generate thousands of job opportunities for residents when in full operation.


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NCO Philippines Clark, Inc., a ‘top provider’ of call center solutions in the Philippines is all set for a 2-day Call Center Career Fair on November 26 and 27, 2008 in Olongapo City, beginning at nine o’clock in the morning to three o’clock in the afternoon at the Olongapo City Convention Center.

The career fair is a joint effort of the Olongapo City Public Employment Services Office (PESO) and the NCO as initiated by Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr.

“Maganda ang job fair na ito sapagkat, kahit high school graduate ay puwedeng mag-apply,” PESO Manager Evelyn Delos Santos said.

The NCO Philippines Clark, Inc. is the ‘industry leader’ in providing ‘business process outpouring solutions’ to different companies, with more than one hundred (100) operations centers in the global network.

NCO Philippines Clark, Inc. is looking for the following qualifications:

-Excellent English Communication Skills
-At least 18 years old
-with High School Diploma
-Computer Literate

Qualified applicants will receive a good compensation package.

Inquiries may be directed to the Olongapo City Public Employment Services Office, First floor Olongapo City Hall or call 222-3301 local 4168.


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Sunday, November 23, 2008


Gordon College graduates hurdled successfully the 2008 Licensure Examinations for Teachers (LET) given by the Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) Board of Professional Teachers with flying colors, attaining a 100% passing mark in the elementary level and 56% in the secondary level.

Seventeen thousand eight hundred sixteen (17,816) elementary teachers out of 58,471 examinees and 18,801 secondary teachers out of 53,195 examinees passed the Licensure Examinations.

The exam was given on September 2008 in different areas across the country including Manila, Baguio, Cebu and Davao. The results were released within thirty seven (37) working days.

“Congratulations to those who passed the exam! I am really proud of our students dahil they embody our fight for excellence. Isa itong patunay na education doesn’t need to cost a lot. We are trying to make education as accessible as we can,” said Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr.

Below is the complete list of Gordon College graduates who passed:

Elementary Level (100%)

1. Esposo, Arlene Gantan
2. Franco, Nathaniel Napalan
3. Justiniano, Chuck Bascoguin
4. Marquez, Annie Labrador

Secondary Level (56%)

1. Burden, Catherine Anabe
2. Del Rosario, Jennifer Sumallo
3. Lim, Jomel Fernandez
4. Malapit, Lady Benjamin De Castro
5. Marquez, Shane Perez
6. Masangkay, Estel Grace Duran
7. Mojica, Lizzette Marie Balean
8. Ocampo, adelyn Fabrigas
9. Valencia, Michael
10. Yap, Emerald Rosal

Gordon College is being run by the government of Olongapo City. It can be recalled that recently, nursing graduates of Gordon College successfully passed the Nursing Licensure Exams (NLE) given by the PRC with a passing rate of 61%, the highest passing rate of any nursing school in Olongapo City.

Some of the Gordon College graduates who passed the Licensure Exam for Teachers given by the Philippine Regulation Commission on September 2008: Jennifer del Rosario, Emmerald Yap, Lizette Marie Mojica, Adelyn Ocampo, Nathaniel Franco, Arlene Esposo and Shane Marquez.


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Victory Liner, Inc.: Staying on top through innovation

THE COUNTRY’S biggest bus company — also one of its oldest — is trying to stay on top of the game by finding new ways to satisfy its clients, while having to deal with global market forces never before experienced.

"We will never stop innovating and finding new ways to satisfy our customers. We can never be lax as far as bus maintenance and training is concerned," said Marivic H. del Pilar, treasury and marketing manager of Victory Liner.

She said the bus firm is capitalizing on strong tourism growth particularly in Northern Luzon, even as volatile fuel prices and government policies force them to adapt to the times.

The bus company formed by Jose I. Hernandez, Sr. in 1945 — a time when the country was still reeling from the wreckage of World War II and there was no transportation system to speak of — continues to expand and innovate.

"We differentiate ourselves in terms of service, in having the most number of buses, most number of routes and most number of dispatches in a day to any one route," Ms. del Pilar said in an interview. Today, she said, a number of other bus companies have cropped up, Victory Liner’s service sets it apart, she pointed out.

A prewar mechanic, Mr. Hernandez collected spare parts from abandoned US military vehicles to build a delivery truck for his family’s trading business of fish sauce, rice, corn, vegetables and homemade laundry soap.

He was surprised to discover that the delivery truck he had ordered from a Chinese acquaintance looked more like a bus with rows of benches, and with its right side open.

Reluctantly and prevailed upon by his wife, Mr. Hernandez accepted the vehicle and used it instead as a public utility vehicle.

Competing against 12 other bus companies, Victory Liner’s first bus started serving the Manila-Olongapo route on Oct. 15, 1945 with Mr. Hernandez as the driver and his brother-in-law Leonardo D. Trinidad as his conductor. The first terminal was located at the corner of Azcarraga St., which is now Claro M. Recto Ave., and Juan Luna St. in Divisoria, Manila.

Speaking of innovation, Mr. Hernandez brought the country’s first air-conditioned bus from Japan in the 1960s. He also initiated the conversion of front engine buses and the use of steel-bodied buses.

In the 1970s, Victory Liner also provided the riding public with air-conditioned provincial bus service, which was unique at that time.

In the 1980s, the company introduced automatic transmission buses from GM-Allison and started using TVs and video facilities. At that time, it embarked on a training program for its drivers, conductors and mechanics on road safety, customer service and bus maintenance. This is a practice it maintains up to this day.

Victory Liner has the biggest fleet of buses at 860. Recently, it launched its advanced seat reservation system, which allows one to reserve a seat via phone a month before the trip. Other innovations include the use of deluxe buses complete with a bus attendant and toilet.

Ms. del Pilar said Victory Liner considers its people its greatest asset. "What for are nice, brand new buses without competent drivers, without dedicated managers and employees? Take care of your employees. They can make or break the company," she said.

She said the bus business is a labor intensive business, and the management and its employees have to work together to attain their goals. "When we take care of our employees, they in turn want to take care of our customers. It’s a cycle of happy people wanting to give happiness to other people. Angry people cannot give love to other people," she said as a matter of fact.

Through the years, Ms. del Pilar said, Victory Liner has managed to come out of different type of crises, from natural calamities such as the Baguio earthquake and eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the early 1990s, the currency crisis in 1997, and recently, rising fuel prices.

She said the company had done so through sheer perseverance and focus. "We do not get disheartened. We do not decide to stop growing. We think beyond what is happening and focus on being the best," she added. — RAMR


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Canadian rules Subic triathlon

SUBIC 03 champion Canadian Matt O’Hara claimed line honors, while compatriot David Verlee took the official overall title in yesterday morning’s 1st Anvaya Cove Invitational Triathlon at the Anvaya Cove and Nature Club in Bataan.

O’Hara, a professional elite triathlete training in Subic, beat national champion George Vilog, overtaking him in the last loop of the 6-kilometer run that followed the 1-km swim and 30-km bike legs. O’Hara clocked 1:40.08 while Vilog checked in at 1:40.54.

“This is just a training run for me. This is actually my first [tournament] since I broke my collarbone while training a few months ago,” said the 22-year-old O’Hara.

Vilog said had he known of O’Hara’s strategy, he would have stuck with him all the way. “Dapat tinutukan ko na lang, akala ko kasi laspag na siya sa bike.”

The 39-year-old Verlee, chief executive of his own energy savings company, was not really expecting to win this highly technical course featuring lots of uphill and downhill parts, with both the mountain and the sea as backdrop.

“I just do this for fun and I guess I was just lucky today, it was a very well-organized event,” said Verlee, who clocked 1:52.15.

Official runners-up were Ferdinand Catabian in 1:56.45 and Jose Antonio Narciso, who completed the sprint race in 2:03.51.

Other winners were Jan Harley Bangayan (20 to 24 age-group), Jose Juan Carballo (25-29), Roy Hervias (30-34) Martin de Castro (35-39), Lorenzo Ocampo (40- 44), Anthony Welsh (45-49), who was in the same group where Ayala Corp.’s Fernando Zobel de Ayala finished third. By Lito Cinco - Manila Standard Today

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Friday, November 21, 2008


Mayor James Gordon, Jr. has signed Executive Order No. 56 on November 18, 2008 creating the “Anti-Firecracker Task Force”.

The Executive Order reminds the public that the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices on Christmas day and New Year’s day may cause serious injuries and endangers public health.

Mayor Gordon also ordered the Task Force to coordinate with the other government offices, institutions, entities or persons to achieve its purpose.

DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2007-165, in relation to Memorandum Circular No. 2002-188 and Republic Act 7183 mandates local government units to regulate, discourage or prohibit the sale, distribution and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices to the extent necessary to protect public welfare.

Mayor Gordon appointed Councilor Rodel Cerezo to be the chairperson of “Task Force Anti-Firecracker”. Its members are representatives of the City Health Office, Task Force Tourism, Task Force Virgo, Environmental Sanitation and Management Office, Department of Education, Olongapo City Police Office, Disaster Management Office, Public Affairs Office , Traffic Management and Public Safety , City Social Welfare and Development Office and DENR-CENRO.

It can be recalled that every year, firecracker users suffer serious physical injuries, such as finger losses, blindness and hand deformities.

In Olongapo, it has been noted that victims of firecrackers can afford to buy “paputok” but cannot pay for their hospital bills.

Mayor Gordon is encouraging the public to make use of alternative instruments such as “tambol, torotot and many others in welcoming the New year.

Meanwhile, a Drum Festival in Olongapo has been set on December 13, 2008, part of the campaign to encourage the use of “tambol” as alternative to firecrackers.


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Olongapo City successfully hosted the 16th East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) Conference on November 19-21, 2008 at the Subic Bay Exhibition Center (SBEC).

“On behalf of the organizers, we wish to thank you for accepting our invitation to this conference,” said Colin Duerkop the Regional Representative of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Singapore. “Let me stress how fortunate we are to have Mayor Gordon as our host, as he continues to strive for excellence in local governance, which sets the tone for our conference.”

“Olongapo City was chosen to become part of the ESEA Network due to its excellent performance,” added Duerkop. “Thank you very much to the Mayor of Olongapo City for his generosity in hosting this conference.”

The conference proper was divided into six sessions where papers were presented by the different delegates from the member countries of ESEA Net.

Presentations included “Jakarta and Semarang: A Tale of Two Indonesian Cities” by Professor Eko Budihardjo, Chairman, Advisory Council on Urban Development, Semarang Indonesia, “The Role of Collaborative Partnerships in Sustaining and Replicating City Innovations Towards Building Ideal Communities” by Dr. Grace Gorospe-Jamon, National President, Association of School of Public Administration in the Philippines (ASPAP), and “High-Tech Industrial City and Community” by Hon, Young Jo Coi, Deputy Mayor, Gumi City, South Korea.

Mayor Gordon’s presentation on Olongapo City’s continuing progress as a competitive city was widely applauded.

Prior to the conference proper, a dinner and cocktail night was held to welcome the guests on November 19, 2008 at the SBEC.

The closing ceremonies was held on November 21, 2008 with Makati Mayor and League of Cities President Benjamin Abalos as guest of honor and speaker. A city tour courtesy of the Olongapo City Government followed afterwards.

Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr. during his paper presentation in the 16th East and South East Asian (ESEA) Conference on November 19, 2008 at the Subic Bay Exhibition Center. Also present are Dr. Grace Gorospe-Jamon, National President, Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines (ASPAP), Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando and Dennis Coronacion, member, Faculty of Arts and Letters, University of Sto. Tomas.


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This is a joint private blog of volunteers from Subic Bay. It is being maintained primarily to collate articles that may be of importance to decision making related to the future of Subic Bay and as a source of reference material to construct the history of Subic Bay.

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