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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

‘Break walls in our minds’--Gordon

On the National Hero’s 112th death anniversary on Tuesday, a senator lamented that Filipinos have yet to “break the walls in our minds as Jose Rizal did,” while another lawmaker grappled with the plight of young Filipinos who are out of school, struggle with poor education, lack of jobs and growing drug addiction.

Senator Richard Gordon urged all Filipinos to "break the walls in their minds built by the colonial past by regaining confidence in their capabilities and being courageous about the future as the country’s national hero did.”

In a statement, he encouraged Filipinos to emulate the values and vision exhibited by Rizal during his 35 years of existence, as the whole nation commemorated the national hero’s 112th death anniversary.

“Jose Rizal showed us that even if we were colonized by foreign nations, we can refuse to be bound by them by having a vision and strengthening our values. He showed that Filipinos could excel and compete with the best,” said Gordon, an independent senator allied with the administration.

“Jose Rizal made us in his own image in the sense that if you get an education and see the world at the same time and stick to your conviction about the vision for our country, stick to your values, you can indeed get the necessary country that you want,” he added.

He said Rizal’s short but meaningful life was an ideal model for Filipinos.

“(It) shows that a person can achieve far beyond what he may seem to reach if only he has a vision and he strives hard to achieve it,” he said.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, for his part, said Rizal's famous saying that the youths were the hope of the fatherland was still relevant.

“Rizal always looked to the youth as prime movers and as a reminder of hope for the future of our nation. By remembering Dr. Jose Rizal and honoring him as our national hero, we should honor his teachings,” said Cayetano in a phone interview.

But the senator pointed to millions of young people taking illegal drugs, the 10 million out-of-school youths, the worsening state of primary and secondary education with state funding decreasing every year, and the millions who grow up away from their parents who are working abroad.

“It's time we get our act together. When Rizal said (the saying) he meant every generation. We can't do anything about the past, but the present generation can and our present youths are in fact the hope of the fatherland,” said Cayetano.

Gordon, who championed volunteerism in rebuilding the former US military base in Subic, pushed for the “Bagumbayan Movement” to “revitalize the Filipinos’ identity by having a vision grounded on values and empowered by volunteerism.”

Guided by the values inculcated by Rizal, Gordon started this movement exactly a year ago.

He explained that Rizal’s death in Bagumbayan (the original name of Rizal Park in Manila) was not a mere coincidence “but a symbol of what he wanted for the Filipinos -- a new Philippines, a Bagumbayan.”

“Bagumbayan is not a place. It is an attitude. It is time we become horizon-chasers once again. We have to change ourselves, re-invent ourselves, and we must not cease from hoping. It is time we break our walls and say, we can do it.”

Gordon said that the Bagumbayan movement aimed to regain the Filipinos’ sense of responsibility, to reinvent the government that it may faithfully perform its duty to serve and protect the people, to fortify law and order, and to build a strong and growing economy.

It also strives to prioritize education, provide adequate health care, create jobs, assist people in securing homes and land, strengthen the family as the foundation of the nation, and protect and preserve the environment for posterity, he said.

“We must learn from Rizal. We have the power to shape our future and determine the destiny of our country. We need to do things, believe things, and think in new ways like Rizal did,” Gordon said. By Michael Lim Ubac - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Group plans to build bigger rehab centers for abused children

A Church-based group protecting abused children and women is planning to build larger rehabilitation centers for abused boys and girls.

The People's Recovery, Empowerment Development Assistance Foundation said this is due to the large number of minors rescued by PREDA teams.

"Due to the large volume of minors that the PREDA team rescue they are currently planning the construction of a home for boys and one for girls. The team urgently needs construction engineers as well as roofers, plumbers and electricians to help them finish these projects," said PREDA director Fr. Shay Cullen, in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website.

He PREDA team members in Olongapo are continuing their tireless work in rescuing children from adult prisons and child prostitution.

Cullen said PREDA offers these rescued minors medical, educational, spiritual and a strong network of social supports to meet their needs.

The Irish priest encouraged young and retired professionals to help in the "life changing project" by passing on skills to a group of children whose lives will be altered positively.

PREDA needs help to have a positive impact on the lives of children who are struggling for their basic human rights, he said. - GMANews.TV

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Monthly Archive December 2008

Group plans to build bigger rehab centers for abus...
Kapatiran's statement on Pangandaman issue
Top 10 Subic Freeport workers known
New Casino at Subic Bay
Relocate casino, not the trees
Sidelined ships seek Subic harbor
34 firms invest $87.6M in Subic free port
SBMA gets reforested grassland from investor
Clark North Interchange opens
Cayetano slams deaths in Subic Hanjin shipyard
Coscolluela hits back at Palafox
Outstanding 12-yr-old tour guide "Andoy"
Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium's Importation of do...
Senate to probe Subic tree-cutting
17 law enforcers of SBMA receive citations from CS...
Total Ban On Manufacture, Sale, Distribution, Poss...
Olongapo win as Central Luzon child-friendly LGU
Subic tree row: Group says reforestation a better ...
Bolante ‘runner’ yields to Gordon
Subic extortion
ESEA lauded Gordon
NGO backs $120-million hotel-casino in Subic
Jail Bolante ‘runner’ — Gordon
Subic Freeport eyes incentive travel market, hosts...
New Zealand national found dead in Olongapo hotel ...
ICTSI Subic terminal rolls out new gate system
Palafox sheds light on SBMA controversy
Olongapo village wins with 'Most Outstanding Tagap...
Subic Aetas put up ‘Field of Dreams’ inspired by o...
Construction of $1.1-B Power plant to start mid ne...
Solon to probe Hanjin death toll
Witness’ safety worries Gordon
Customs files smuggling charges vs Subic Smugglers...
Couple held for drugs
Lady solon urges House to look into Subic resort d...
Clark interchange to open before Christmas
EADS to deploy TETRA network to Subic
Senate sets ‘Joc-Joc’ free
Hanjin to build more ships in Subic
Submarine Wraps up 15-Month Deployment, Celebrates...
Bolante charged in court for disobedience and fals...
SBMA prefers shipping lines to operate NCT-2
Kapampangan triumph over Pinatubo
Hanjin launches two ships
Global crisis creates new opportunity for Subic
Up With People Concert
SBMA auctions new container terminal
Subic Aetas venture into farm project
Top 10 Subic workers honored
Subic board issues ban on subcontractor
SBMA boosts tourism development in Subic
SBMA execs threaten to sue Palafox
Rotarians declare 'solidarity' with Palafox on Sub...
Palafox’s allegations baseless and absurd
Subic hotel-casino to create 5,000 jobs
There’s malversation in fertilizer scam -- Gordon
Rebel reproductive health law
For the love of Olongapo
Hotel offers helicopter tour to Mt. Pinatubo
Senate blue ribbon panel orders the arrest of Bola...
The Subic controversy
Hanjin faces 2nd suspension over deaths
No ‘development vs environment’ case in Subic reso...
UNFPA plans expanding micro-finance program in Olo...
SBMA chief to probe extortion claims
5th emergency maternal and newborn care center ope...
More investors in hotels, condominiums and leisure...
Bagman in fertilizer mess hunted
Building knowledge and friendship through the ASEA...
Hanjin’s cookie jar
Stakeholders in tourism industry urged to work wit...
Army puts Soldier's life in 'check'
Olongapo residents march for heightened AIDS aware...
Japanese firm to market leisure sub abroad
Hanjin Subic refused DOH safety training offer
FedEx delays opening of Guangzhou hub
Subic homeowners score cops in raid


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kapatiran's statement on Pangandaman issue

Statement of Councilor JC delos Reyes, Olongapo City, member of the Ang kapatiran National Political Party on the physical assault committed by Agrarian Reform Secretary Pangandaman and his son, Mayor Nasser, Jr. on private individuals

The Ang Kapatiran National Political Party condemns the brutal physical assault perpetrated by Nasser Pangandaman, Jr., Municipal Mayor of Masiu, Lanao del Sur with his bodyguards on Delfin de la Paz, aged 56, and son Bino 14. This is aggravated by the fact that Nasser Jr. is the son of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman who was present during the incident.

We feel for the victims are insulted by Secretary Pangandaman’s apology for what he called a 'brawl' while threatening to file counter charges against those they have victimized. Their self serving version of the story is quite a fairy-tale considering the Pangandaman’s armed bodyguards as against a 56 year old father with his teen-age son and daughter.

From any standpoint, the Secretary and his son displayed arrogance and grave abuse, to think that the Secretary is a member of the GRP Peace Panel.

We therefore demand that Mr. Nasser Pangandaman and Nasser Jr. immediately resign as Secretary of Agrarian Reform and Mayor of Masiu, Lanao del Sur respectively. Since a public office is a public trust, this is to spare such public offices from the disgrace and ignominy that they have brought to it. Their ways have no place in government

We call on government to insure the speedy resolution of this criminal / administrative case and that these public officials be preventively suspended.

We ask the public to be in solidarity with the de la Paz family and all other families who have been victimized, one way or another by the vile and callous disposition of those in power, particularly, Edith Burgos whose son Jonas remains to be a ‘desaparecido.’ We sympathize with the thousands of victims of human rights abuses across this nation the abusers of which is a national netwok of traditional politicians and warlords.

The Ang kapatiran National Political Party looks ahead and works towards that day when this nation shall have rid itself of warlords and trapos to allow for a new beginning when we can truly say that ours is a nation of laws and not of men.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 10 Subic Freeport workers known

First, the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991, then the subsequent pullout of the US Navy. Then after that came the Asian economic crisis.

What enabled this free port to triumph over these adversities and rise to economic heights cannot be credited primarily to the US$8 billion worth of infrastructure left by the Americans, but rather, to Subic ’s “greatest investment” — its exceptional workforce.

To highlight the crucial role of workers in the transformation of this former US military base into a premier investment and commercial hub, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Subic Bay Workforce Development Foundation Inc. (SBWDFI) honored this year’s batch of the “10 Outstanding Freeport Workers” during the 16th anniversary celebration of the free port.

The workers awards, which is now on its seventh year, aims to promote among the entire Subic workforce the culture of excellence displayed by volunteers who are credited for rebuilding Subic from the ashes of Mt. Pinatubo , said SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza.

Arreza, who joined some 8,000 Subic volunteers in 1993, recalled that investors started to do business here primarily because of the volunteers’ exceptional display of nationalism and concern for the community.

“They saw that the facilities left by the Americans were intact, and operations of vital installations like the airport and power supply facilities were not halted because people lent their time and skills for free,” said Arreza.

He added that the recipients of the award “are of the same caliber as those of the SBMA pioneers.”

SBMA labor manager Severo Pastor, who is also chairman of the SBWDFI, said that this year, SBMA employees qualified for the awards for the first time, along with nominees from locator companies in Subic .

The awards body also acknowledged for the first time companies that made significant impact on the free port’s development through the “Administrator’s Corporate Award”.

The awardees in this category, Federal Express (FedEx) and the Subic Power Corporation, received the award for exemplifying good human resource practices by consistently keeping the balance between business interests and employees’ welfare, providing equitable work environments, as well as opportunities for professional growth, Arreza said.

Of the 51 nominees in the outstanding workers category, only 20 finalists were chosen, said Pastor. The finalists then underwent a tougher second screening by the board of judges composed of Aurelio Pineda, executive vice-president of the Olongapo Business Club; Capt. Areston Limos, of the Philippine National Police School of Values and Leadership; and former Philippine ambassador to Saudi Arabia Jonathan dela Cruz, who served as chairman.

Pastor identified the 10 outstanding workers of the Subic Bay Freeport as: Ma. Adoracion Celeste, a technical assistant at the SBMA Human Resource Department; Levi Dalida, special investigator at the SBMA Intelligence and Investigation Office; Arleen Dulay, housekeeping attendant at the Lighthouse Marina Resort; Diosdado Ednave, security officer at the SBMA Law Enforcement Department; Severino Jovero, marine mammal training supervisor at the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium’s Ocean Adventure; Elizier Martin, foreman at the SBMA Maintenance and Transportation Department; Vicente Salvador, welder/pipe fitter at the Philippine Coastal Storage and Pipeline Corp.; Bernard Sanchez, production department head at Nicera Philippines Inc.; Paquito Torres, division chief at the SBMA Intelligence and Investigation Office; and Jaime Villafuerte, Jr., failure analysis engineering supervisor at Wistron Infocomm. (Phils.).

SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga, meanwhile, praised Subic ’s top workers, adding that Filipino workers “always belong to the cream of the crop.”

“Anywhere in the world, Filipino workers stand out,” said Salonga, citing Filipino engineers in Dubai who were commended for building excellent roads, and in Pearl Harbor, where the top three workers at one time were Filipina welders. (SBMA Corporate Communications)
--Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Private nabbed for extortion

CASTILLEJOS, Zambales – An army intelligence officer, who passed himself off as a New People’s Army rebel for his extortion activities, was nabbed by joint operatives of the PNP-SAF, 315th Zambales Provincial Mobile Group and Castillejos PNP during an entrapment at Sitio Mawao, Bgy. San Pablo, here Thursday night.

Zambales Provincial Police Office director Supt. Rolando Felix identified the suspect as Pfc. Ronald Tumbali, 31, assigned at Charlie Company, 3rd Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division at the Army base in Sitio Dulit, Bgy. Nagbunga.

Supt. Jerry Sumbad, 315th Mobile Group director, said at around 11 p.m., Tumbali was arrested by the police after receiving P10, 000 from policemen posting as his victims at the ARBI Farm in Sitio Mawao, Bgy. San Pablo.

Tumbali’s alleged accomplice, a certain Pfc. Bautista, eluded arrest and is now being hunted by police.

Reports added Tumbali claimed to be an NPA member last November and started demanding money from farm manager Philip Pangan who gave the suspect an initial
P 20, 000.

The following he again demanded another P10, 000, prompting police operatives to stage the sting.

Recovered from Tumbali was P10, 000 in marked money and one caliber .45 pistols with two magazines loaded with live bullets without license.

The suspect is now detained at Castillejos detention cell, facing charges of robbery – extortion, grave threats and RA 8294 before Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Joy Bayona.

By. Mamer Bañez – Tonight

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2 guilty of drug pushing

OLONGAPO City – The Regional Trial Court sentenced two brothers to life imprisonment for pushing drugs in 2003.

Judge Richard Paradesa, of RTC Branch 72, also ordered Jerry Tesoreso, 38, and his brother Ignacio, 32, both of Barangay Mabayuan, Olongapo City, to pay P500,000 in damages.

The conviction of the duo was based on the testimony and evidence submitted by the Drug Enforcement Group which arrested the accused.

On Aug.8, 2003, the Tesorero brothers were arrested by a DEG team led by SPO1 Alfredo Flores, SPO1 Allan Delos Reyes and PO1 Sherly Banag who also recovered seven grams of shabu from the suspects.

The suspects were temporary detained at Olongapo City District Jail.

--By Mamer Bañez – People’s Journal

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New Casino at Subic Bay

The Ocean 9 Casino and Hotel Resort recently broke ground in the Subic Bay Freeport area along Waterfront Drive. This new resort and property development in the Philippines is expected to cost approximately US $120 million and will rise 15 stories above the bay.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza believes that this will be the most beautiful hotel in the area: “This promises to be a significant landmark that will transform the face of Subic Bay, making it the pride of Olongapo and Zambales.”

The hotel will stand 15 floors tall and occupy over 9,000 square meters of space. Next to it will be a three floor casino that will take up 4,200 square meters of space. The casino will have a stage for live entertainment and performances as well as portable runway for fashion shows and similar events.

The first floor of the casino will have some 500 gaming tables, while on the other side of the main hall will be a retail mall with nearly 100 shops from around the world. WorldNews

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Relocate casino, not the trees

Officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) should not allow even one tree at the proposed site of the Ocean 9 Casino Resort and Hotel to be cut. They should consider other sites for the project—like the mothballed Grand Legenda Hotel, which has been lying idle for 10 years now, its steel structure collecting rust and posing a hazard to locators nearby. There are also the Cubi and Boton points that offer a full view of the sea, if that’s what the investor wants.

The SBMA should preserve the former mini-golf course and convert it into a park which should balance the rapid commercialization of the Waterfront Road strip. In short, the planner should consider creating an oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle which the strip is fast turning into. No amount of human effort can replace what nature has provided and nurtured for so many decades.

The more than 300 trees said to be at risk, diseased or not, are sacred. The proposed “balling” or “relocation” will not work. These terms are just euphemisms for “cut” and “dispose.” The justification to reforest eight hectares to compensate for the trees sounds too fantastic. Can the SBMA mention a specific reforestation project inside the Subic Bay area, which had been implemented successfully?

The trees that are meant to be sacrificed for a hotel and casino project are already there. Why risk with a reforestation program nobody can guarantee will succeed?

SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga and Administrator Armand Arreza will no longer be there to see the reforestation through. And by that time, more trees could be cut in other areas. The $120-million investment of the Korean group is important but it could not pay for the destruction of nature.

The incumbent officials of the SBMA should not exchange the few left of our natural resources for foreign investment. Losing the $120-million investment now is not the end of the world. It could be replaced tomorrow by a $240-million investment or even more. Salonga and Arreza should make a conscientious stand now. They shouldn’t allow the cutting of the trees.

BRANDO NAZARIO, Sta. Rita, Olongapo

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Sidelined ships seek Subic harbor

The global financial meltdown that sidelined many cruise liners and cargo ships could prove to be a golden opportunity for Filipinos, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said.

According to Roque, several cruise liners and cargo vessels have docked in Subic Bay harbor in the past few months due to lack of business, waiting out the recession that has discouraged their clients from vacationing and reduced cargo orders.

Roque said the government has been in talks with other shipping firms to use the Subic port.

“We would like to invite maritime owners to see the Philippines as a lay-up area for their ships in a bid to generate local employment,” Roque said in a recent media interview.

Sources said around 15 cruise and cargo vessels had docked in Subic, Zambales province.

Previously, Roque said many cruise liners and cargo vessels let go workers and seafarers because of the economic downturn, although he said the government was expecting the situation to improve by the end of 2009.

“It has really affected container vans because it meant that there would be less goods to ship,” the labor secretary said.

He said Filipinos could serve as skeleton crew that could check the liners from time to time. The vessel owners would also need maintenance crew and security guards, he added.

Aside from Subic, Roque said the government also offered the ports in Cagayan de Oro and Davao to shipping and cruise firms.

The labor chief said Filipinos workers were known for being diligent and proficient in English, skills valued by foreign employers. Kristine L. Alave - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

‘Scubasurero’ goes to Subic

NATIONAL Police Chief Director General Jesus A. Verzosa and his team of divers and three beauties of Mutya ng Pilipinas conducted a coastal clean-up in Ocean View beach in Subic yesterday.

In a brief speech, Verzosa explained to participants in the coastal clean-up his “Scubasurero,’ a component of the ‘Pulis Makakalikasan’ program of the PNP.

Verzosa led the coastal clean-up and was delighted by the overwhelming support he got from local officials and environment advocates.

“We commend our law enforcers’ efforts to do their part for the environment. One of the chief tenets of a good police officer is ‘maging makakalikasan’ – to work towards environmental protection.”

He said that with a stronger green program, “we’ll see a commitment to protect not just people, but crucial ecosystems as well. Protecting coral reefs, forests and watersheds will increase overall productivity,”

‘Pulis Makakalikasan’ is expected to fortify the environmental protection campaign of the police organization.

James Gordon said of ‘Scubasurero.’ “We believe that the PNP is equipped with ample resources to safeguard our seas. We thank PNP Chief Verzosa for bringing his Scubasurero project here.”

The top cop also local police and officials in Subic. “We need to work together to help preserve this beautiful coastal town,” Verzosa said.

--People’s Journal

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City Legal Officer and Olongapo City’s Resident Ombudsman Atty. Angelito Orozco has been recognized as ‘Outstanding Resident Ombudsman’ during the 1st National Convention of Resident Ombudsmen sa Baguio City.

“To date, resident ombudsmen (ROs) all over the country number 450 representing various government agencies, GOCCs and Local Government Units. Consistent with Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr.’s exhortation of ‘Fighting for Excellence’ and with his generous support, we have been recognized for our efforts to provide efficient public service and address bureaucratic ills,” Orozco said.

“Indeed, without the genuine encouragement and pro-active support of the Hon. Mayor, such feats wouldn’t have been accomplished by this humble representative—although there are still many works to be done,” added Orozco.

The1st National Convention of Resident Ombudsmen aims “To strengthen the Office of the Ombudsman’s capability to render public service, prevent corruption and conduct immediate investigation on complaints against officials and employees.”

Hon. Tanodbayan Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez and Deputy Ombudsmen for Luzon Hon. Victor Fernandez graced the ceremonies.

It is the RO’s duty to assist the public in facilitating transactions in a particular government agency, according to the statement by the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Office of the Ombudsman also tasks ROs to “study study systems and procedures vulnerable to corruption and make recommendations to improve them; report anomalies, irregular acts, unethical conduct or illegal activities committed by the officials and employees of the office where they are assigned and aid in the gathering of evidence in the investigation of the same.”

The three-day convention was held at the Hotel Supreme in Baguio City


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Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr. and City Councilor Edwin Piano who is in-charge of the IT (Information Technology) projects of the city, led the inauguration of the The Olongapo City ID System Center at the Olongapo City Hall grounds recently.

“May 3 systems na inilabas under the Olongapo City ID system, first is yung Public Transport Color Coded Scheme (PTC2S) na para sa mga drivers. Mayroon ding VMS o yung Volunteer Management System kasama dito yung mga Balikatan Ladies, Teachers, Pulis at yung mga dati nang mga volunteers ng Subic Bay,” explained Piano.

“Yung pangatlo naman ay yung PATS o yung Public Assistance Tracking System. Magkakaroon lahat ng city councilors ng ganito pati na yung mga nasa Mayor’s Office,” added Piano.

Through PATs, the services and help given by the councilors to the city’s constituents will me monitored

“Kung may humihingi sa amin ng assistance, is-swipe lang namin yung ID nila at mairerecord na yung assistance na ibinigay namin o kung ini-refer namin sa ibang agency. Ang kagandahan ng sistema na ito, makikita kung sino yung talagang nangangailangan o kung nang-aabuso lang dahil marami ding nangangailangan at dapat balanse lahat ng tulong na ibinibigay,” said Piano.

“Magiging instrumento din ito upang malaman kung ano ang klaseng tulong na kailangan ng mga tao upang makabuo ng tamang programa para dito,” added Piano.

Olongapo City will be the pioneer in implementing this kind of technologically advanced ID system to further improve the public service system of the city.

“Ang mga IDs na ito ay equipped with magnetic strip, barcode at yung RFID (Radio Frequency ID) ay babasahin ng isang ‘movitron’ para makuha ang impormasyon na naka-store sa ID. Dahil sa RFID, magiging isang ‘access card’ ang iyong ID na maaring maging DTR (Daily Time Record) at iba pang mga purposes,” said VJ Cajudo, manager of the Olongapo City ID System Center.

This ID system will also be implemented in Traffic Management.

“Sa traffic management naman, bibigyan din ng ID ang mga traffic officers at is-swipe lang nila yung mga ID ng mga nahuhuli nilang violators at magkakaroon na ng record at ita-transmit yung information sa system administrator,” explained Cajudo.

“Mamomonitor dito yung mga discrepancies at yung mga hindi pa nababayarang violations ng mga drivers,” added Cajudo.

Several drivers and volunteers have already been issued with IDs.

“Ang pinaka focus ng system na ito ay mabigyan ng mas efficient na public service ang mga tao,” Cajudo concluded.

The project was made possible with the cooperation of Senator Richard Gordon and Congresswoman Carissa Coscolluela. The technology was developed by Jimec Global Holdings.

Si Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon at City Councilor Edwin Piano sa isinagawang inauguration kamakailan ng Olongapo City ID System Center sa Olongapo City Hall grounds.


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

LRA chief scolds Zambales RD over land registration delay

The head of the Land Registration Authority has admonished the Register of Deeds of Zambales for the continuing delay in the registration of several subdivision lots in the province despite earlier orders by the authority to do so.

LRA Administration Benedicto Ulep said the continued refusal of Zambales Register of Deeds Athena Tarongoy to register the titles has put the authority in a bad light, especially since RD offices have recently been identified as a source of the clogging of land cases nationwide.

Ulep cited Tarongoy’s refusal to implement the authority’s resolution in Consulta case 4477, ordering her to register the deed of sale executed by Goldmine Realty Development Corp., a subdivision developer in Subic, Zambales, in favor of Metro Asia Development Corp.

In August last year, Tarongoy denied the transfer of the titles of nine subdivision lots owned and registered in the name of Goldmine and insisted that the sale should have been executed by one Mario Villanueva and Reed Steel fabricators Inc., although they are not the registered owners.

Aggrieved by the illegal denial, Atty. Redentor S. Viaje, Goldmine’ss counsel and corporate secretary, elevated the case to the LRA which issued a resolution last June 19 reversing the Tarongoy denial.

However, instead of obeying the resolution, Tarongoy again refused the registration and raised to the LRA other issues to block the transfer of the titles, an action that should have been made by a private party in the interest, if there is any, viaje said.

The RD’s refusal prompted the LRA chief to issue the admonition to Tarongoy.

“As a last note, you are hereby admonished to exercise a higher degree of professionalism in the performance of your duties, especially in issuing notices of denial by including therein all the grounds therefore and not to do it on a piecemeal basis.”

“This not only puts the RD in a bad light but the authority as well, not to mention the waste of money, effort and time of the registrants in seeking the appropriate remedy under the given circumstances,” Ulep said.

Just recently, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza vowed to overhaul all RD offices of the LRA which he described as the source of land cases clogging the courts.

The LRA was placed under the supervision of the DENR from the Department of Justice virtue of Executive Order 690 issued by President Arroyo last December.

It was learned that almost a hundred land re-conveyance cases are pending before the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court alone. The Olongapo RTC has jurisdiction over Goldmine’s subdivision in Subic.

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34 firms invest $87.6M in Subic free port

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—Despite forecasts that the Philippine economy will feel the pinch of the global financial downturn next year, foreign and local companies continue to invest in this growing commercial, industrial and tourism hub.

A total of 34 new investment projects got the nod of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) last week, thereby increasing the $6-billion investment commitments here by $87.63 million.

Out of the 34 projects, 28 are new investments and four are expansion by existing locators, said SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza.

About 1,000 jobs will be created once these projects become operational, he added.

In the mass contract-signing ceremony held at the Subic Gateway Park here, Arreza disclosed that the SBMA remains optimistic despite the economic slowdown worldwide, as the agency strives to improve facilities and services in Subic to make it more competitive.

He said that while Subic now hosts around 1,200 firms employing more than 85,000 workers, the SBMA hopes to further increase its investment and job generation records each year.

The new batch of investors is headlined by Puregold Duty Free, which is embarking on a $50-million expansion program for its retail outlet here. Next in line are Sultan Ahmed Lootah Enterprise Corp., which is infusing $6.72 million; Pacific Ocean Underwater Solutions Corp., with $5 million; and Samahophir Corp., with also $5 million.

Lootah is set to operate a corrugated cartons and duplex boards manufacturing plant; while Pacific Underwater will provide various underwater services like repair and construction, salvaging and photography, as well as purifying and maintaining fishing fields; and Samahophir will manufacture, fabricate, install and repair door systems for various projects of shipyard operator Hanjin Heavy Industries.

The manufacturing sector, which brought in the most number of new locators, also gained Cheongwa Subic Corp., with $4.312 million for the manufacture, import/export, assembly and fabrication of steel frames related to shipbuilding; Australasia Marine Alliance Corp., $2.32 million, for the manufacture of boats and other marine–related products and components; TECO Phils 3C and Appliances Inc., $1 million, for the importation and exportation of home appliances; and Ixion Corp., $800,000, for the importation and distribution of petroleum products.

Some firms also proposed projects in the tourism and leisure sector. These are Magspeak Inc., with $1.1 million; World HDGD, $1.1 million; Janburlai Corp., $800,000; Free port Skyworld Inc., $640,000; and Molawinville Corp., $500,000.

For the logistics and warehousing sector, there are the MSK Group Work Inc., which pledged $2.85 million; and Ocean Coast Shipping Inc., with $350,000 for bunkering, brokerage and other port services.

The new investors, meanwhile, also expressed optimism about putting up a business in Subic.

Lawrence Lusung of the Bank of Commerce, which joined the latest batch of Subic locators, described Subic as “one of the most dynamic places for business in the country.”

“The Bank of Commerce believes that for a bank to become one of the top financial institutions in the country, it must have a place here in Subic where great opportunities await every investor,” Lusung said.

Pateek Tiwari of ED & F Commodities Phils. Inc., meanwhile, cited the investor-friendly policies of the SBMA as “the main attraction” for investors. Tiwari’s company will engage in the warehousing and storage of biofuels and other liquid products here. Written by Henry Empeño - Business Mirror
CHIEN TYNG-CHEN (left) of Teco Phils. 3C and Appliances Inc. gets a warm handshake from Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman Feliciano Salonga, while SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza looks on during the mass contract-signing held at the Subic Gateway Park.

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SBMA gets reforested grassland from investor

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — A Japanese investor here has turned over 1,000-square-meter grassland planted to mahogany and narra to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Nidec Subic Phils., manufacturer of micro-motors and computer peripherals, "adopted" the 1,000-square meter grassland in 2005, planted it to various tree species, and maintained the forest in the past three years under SBMA’s "Adopt-a-Forest" program.

The turnover rites held last Thursday marked the end of Nidec’s "adoption" contract. The trees planted by company’s employees are deemed old enough to be able to survive.

"Three years ago, I was here with my co-workers to plant these trees," recalled Renz Victoria, Nidec plant section manager.

"The time had passed so quickly, and now you can see that the seedlings we planted have grown healthy and strong," he said.

"You can be assured that Nidec will always support and participate in this kind of program that guarantees a better future for our children," Victoria told SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga and SBMA Ecology Center Manager Amethy dela Llana-Koval during the turnover ceremonies.

Nidec, which is one of the environment-conscious companies in the Subic Bay Freeport, was among the first investor-companies that joined the "Adopt-a-Forest" program in 2005.

The forest it adopted is located one kilometer from the road going to the Aeta village of Pastolan, which is on the slopes of Mt. Sta. Rita.

In nearby slopes are the reforestation projects being maintained by other Subic locators and groups. They include Subic Power, Subic Bay Press Corp, Wimpy’s, Morong Jeepney, and Vision Air.

Community groups and civic organizations like the Rotary Club of Olongapo City and the Subic Bay Press Corps have also adopted reforestation projects, which are to be turned over soon to the SBMA.

Like the other groups, Nidec planted and maintained the area, using its manpower and resources. It was assisted only by the Pastolan Forest Conservation Group which is composed of Aeta workers of the SBMA Ecology Center.

Some members of the Pastolan group had inter-cropped papaya and banana with trees. This provides additional income to the Subic natives.

During the turnover rites, Chairman Salonga said that the participation of various locators and community groups in the SBMA reforestation program is an example of the environmental commitment of the various stakeholders in the Subic Bay Freeport. By JONAS REYES - Manila Bulletin

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Clark North Interchange opens

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority, builder and operator of the 94-kilometer Subic-Clark Tarlac Expressway, unwrapped a package of Christmas treats for the public with the completion of the 3.8-kilometer Panday Pira road and the Clark North Interchange designed to facilitate mobility within the Clark Freeport Zone complex.

The BCDA said both facilities would strengthen the SCTEX role as a key player in the development of Central Luzon into a premier investors’ haven in the Asia Pacific rim.

BCDA executive vice-president Isaac Puno III, in a press briefing at the Clark Freeport Zone, said the state-run corporation is the people’s “long-term partner as we seek to achieve development goals where Central Luzon would be the most progressive, most dynamic and strongest economy in the Philippines.”

SCTEX spokesman and program manager for operational support and services Robert Gervacio said the Panday Pira road and the Clark North Interchange will serve as the northern access to Clark from the SCTEX.

SCTEX program manager for engineering and construction Eduardo Lena said the construction of the Panday Pira access road inside Clark opens to vehicular traffic in time for the opening of the Clark North Interchange. Journal online

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Cayetano slams deaths in Subic Hanjin shipyard

SENATOR Pia Cayetano has deplored the Department of Labor and Employment’s alleged failure to investigate and penalize those responsible for the “unusually large” number of accidents and deaths at the Hanjin shipyard in Subic freeport.

She also questioned other government agencies, particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), for failing to act on other reported irregularities at the freeport.

She wants to probe the reported series of deaths of Filipino laborers due to work-related accidents at the shipyard of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) Phils. at the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales.

She earlier questioned the decision of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to merely suspend the subcontractor Philnorkor while sparing Hanjin from any penalties in connection with the recent deaths of two subcontracted workers, Philip Mendoza and Jose Vener Gil, last November.

Gil is reportedly the 15th to die in work-related accidents at the shipyard, while Mendoza is the second to die in traffic-related accidents. But reports reaching Cayetano’s office indicate that many more workers have also died due to illness, particularly malaria. By: Bernadette E. Tamayo - Journal online

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The City Fiesta Executive Committee is all set for the Coronation of the City Fiesta Queen 2008 at the Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Covered Court on December 28, 2008.

A colorful and grand Coronation Night has been prepared for the City Fiesta Queen 2008. Aside from the coronation of City Fiesta Queen, different awards will also be given to the other candidates.

Priscilla Kimberly Dela Cruz of Brgy. Barretto was among the 17 candidates of each of the city’s 17 Barangays.

Senator Richard J. Gordon and Olongapo City Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. are expected to deliver their inspirational messages. The Farewell Walk of City Fiesta Queen 2007 Mary Grace Alinea Antonio and the coronation of the New City Fiesta Queen Priscilla Kimberly Dela Cruz will be the highlights of the event.

The Olongapo City Fiesta Queen Search is a beauty, talent and fund-raising activity. The Fiesta Queen search is one of the major fund-raising component of the City Fiesta. “Mula sa suportang ibinigay ng mga barangay sa bawat kandidata nagmula ang pondo para sa ikatatagumpay ng City Fiesta na pakikinabangan ng Philhealth Indigency at Scholarship Programs ng lungsod,” Kgd. Ellen Dabu said, chairperson of the Olongapo City Fiesta Executive Committee 2008.

“Ang mga kandidata para sa City Fiesta Queen na tunay namang ipagmamalaki sa ganda at talento, at ang kanilang pamilya ay dapat lamang na pasalamatan,” Mayor Gordon said during the third canvassing.

“Hindi lang ito basta money-contest. Napatunayan ng ating Fiesta Queen na si Priscilla Kimberly dela Cruz at ng iba pang naggagandahang mga kandidata na masasalamin sa kanila ang ganda at galing ng kadalagahang Olongapeña,” Kgd. Dabu added.


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Monday, December 22, 2008

Coscolluela hits back at Palafox

“HE started it!”
This was the reaction yesterday of Carissa Coscolluela as she got back at controversial urban planner Felino Palafox on claims that the Buhay party-list representative is waging “a black propaganda campaign” against him to destroy his credibility.

“He started this. Sino ba ang unang lumabas sa media at nagsalita tungkol sa isyu ng extortion sa Subic bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA)?” Coscolluela asked.

“I don’t know him personally, so I don’t have a reason to launch a massive black propaganda campaign against him. In fact, I admire his reputation as accomplished person in his field of expertise,” the lady lawmaker said.

But Coscolluela said Palafox was out of line when he started to throw baseless accusations of extortion against an SBMA official, whom he has failed to identify until now.

“I felt it is unfair to the SBMA that has accomplished a lot to be put in a bad light after Palafox indiscriminately threw baseless accusations against the agency,” she said.

“He started with his accusation last year and he again came out to the media this year with the same allegation pero hindi naman niya sinasabi kung sino,” she added.

At first, Coscolluela said, Palafox said to media that a son of SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, was only nine years old then, asked for an 18 percent “commission” in exchange for the approval of his bid for a project inside the Freeport zone.

“Paano mangyayari iron? Sampung taon lang ang anak ni Administrator Arreza at kung nangyari ito last year, ibig sabihin siyam na taon lang ito noon,” she pointed to a certain “Boy Coscolluela” as the one who reputedly tried to extort from him.

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Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr. proudly announced recently that Olongapo City has been nominated for the Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence. Because of this, Mayor Gordon encouraging further Olongapeños to strive harder for excellence and see to it that the city is being maintained properly.

“The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation has recognized our efforts in our continuing fight for excellence,” said Mayor Gordon. “Mas lumawak ang pagkilala ng ibang bansa sa galling at husay ng Olongapo especially after the East and South East Asia Network Conference (ESEA NET) at ang paghirang sa lungsod bilang ‘Most Competitive Mid-Sized City’ ng Asian Institute of Management.”

The Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence is given to “best managed local government units” which has been consistent in it’s performance and has proved itself outstanding in public service, constructive leadership and public management innovations.

The award was named after Konrad Adenauer, a one time Mayor of Cologne, Germany from 1921 to 1933 and became the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. Adenauer embodied Christian democracy, social justice and belief in the equality amongst individuals in society.

“Hindi natin malalaman kung papaano nila i-eevaluate ang Olongapo kaya’t kailangan sama-sama tayo na pag-igihin pa ang performance ng city and we should walk that extra mile kung gusto nating manalo if we want to keep on fighting for excellence,” added ni Mayor Gordon.


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City Treasurer Marcelino Andawi is once again recognized as the Top Financial Manager (Region III) for the year 2007. This is his second time to win the Commission on Audit (COA) certified award from the Department of Finance.

Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr. commended Andawi at the City Employees’ flag raising ceremony on December 22, 2008 for his latest achievement.

“I’d like to share this award because this does not only refer to the treasurer and the city treasurer’s office but also to all the revenue generating centers and the finance committee for taking care of our disbursements,” said Andawi. “Also to the barangay captains for distributing the list of delinquencies.”

Meanwhile, the city government is encouraging land owners to pay their Real Property Taxes on time to avoid penalties or having their properties confiscated.

“Ang programa po ng treasury ay mayroon pa ring 20 percent discount para sa Real Property Taxes,” Andawi reminded.

The twenty percent (20%) discount is available for those who will pay their RPT in full before and until the first week of January 2009.

Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr. commending City Treasurer Marcelino Andawi for his win as the Top Financial Manager in Region III. Also in the photo are Vice Governor and Olongapo First Lady Anne Marie Gordon, Vice Mayor Cynthia Cajudo, and City Councilors Ellen Dabu, Rodel Cerezo and Elmo Aquino.


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Outstanding 12-yr-old tour guide "Andoy"


Feeling a bit cold and out of place in his denim puruntong shorts and a simple shirt, a 12-old Andoy Dalimag seemed more suited for a romp at a popular mall than a visit to the Senate.

As best as he could, he tried not to mind the freezing breath of the air-conditioning at the Session Hall and offered a polite smile to strangers that filled it. Even without speaking or telling of his life story, he sat wide-eyed in the gallery and all the while, giving off an aura of quiet dignity.

Andoy was invited by Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon as his guest after learning of his success story as the youngest of four teen aged tourist guides in Penablanca, Cagayan Province.

The Grade Six student explained that two years ago, he had taken on the challenge of qualifying for a tourist guide training program in their town. He proudly said that of the original 24 from his batch that had qualified for training, he was among the top four that was included in their town's official roster of tourist guides.

"Being a tourist guide is fun and is almost just like playing. I don't really do it for money because I am saving all that I am earning in a bank account so I can use it for college tuition. It's something I like doing because my town has a great tourist attraction plus I get to meet and learn from the people I tour," says Andoy who tours people to Callao Cave .

The seven-chambered Callao Caves boast of massive limestone and other rock formations, skylights, and a chapel. It is one of the best known tourist attractions of the Cagayan Province .

Senator Gordon, who met with the boy and his father at his office in the Senate, said that he found the boy's story worth sharing with others.

"For Andoy, tourism isn't just a job. It is about discovering what is best in themselves and what is best in their homeland. It is about building pride of place and communicating that to the world," said Gordon.

After asking about what Andoy wanted to do with the money he earned, Gordon was surprised to learn that the young boy was saving his money for college and that he wanted to study law one day, perhaps at the University of the Philippines .

Gordon assured him of a college scholarship and told him about a bill he had filed that would give children like him a better chance at finishing school.

"Andoy is fortunate because he has qualified for a job program in his town.. But there are millions of children like Andoy who are not as fortunate but have the ambition of earning a college education. This is the reason why we filed the Health and Education Acceleration Program or the Text for Change Bill," said Gordon.

Logged as Senate Bill (SB) 2402, has gained legislative and executive support, notably by House Speaker Prospero Nograles and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves. It has also elicited wide support among several non-governmental organizations.

Under SB 2402, also known as the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP), the funds needed for the country's education and health care requirements would be taken from the estimated two billion local text messages sent daily.

The special HEAP funds to be managed by a HEAP Corporation shall however be sourced from the annual net revenues of the telecommunication companies, thereby the brunt shall not be passed on to ordinary consumers.

"We hope that Andoy will bring this good news to children in his hometown. This is really a gift will keep on giving, not just on Christmas but every month of the year and for years to come," said Gordon.

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Twenty (20) aspiring massage therapists consist the 3rd batch of graduates in the Basic Massage Therapy Course of Olongapo City. Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. acknowledged the graduates during the flag raising ceremony on December 22, 2008.

The 3rd batch of graduates has brought to 134 the total number of new massage therapists who earned their skills through the city’s skills training and development program.

Part of the training include sub-courses on Swedish Massage, Shiatsu Massage and Whole Body Massage .

“Masuwerte kami dahil ang batch ngayon ay may natutunan pang karagdagang lesson sa aromatherapy at pinoy hilot,” Veronica Labrador said, one of the new massage therapists.

Certified Massage Therapist and Technical and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Accredited Omar Zeus Beltran and Trainor Gerardo Manio gave lectures and trainings to the massage therapists.

Inquiries on the training course are being entertained by the Livelihood and Cooperative Development Office (LCDO,) at the 2nd floor of the Olongapo City Hall.

Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. with the 3rd Batch of graduates of the Basic Massage Therapy Course of Olongapo City after the flag raising ceremony on December 22, 2008 at Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Covered Court.

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Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium's Importation of dolphins slammed

By Tonette Orejas - Philippine Daily Inquirer - A marine park at the Subic Bay Freeport has been assailed by a concerned group for importing 18 bottle-nosed dolphins from the Solomon Islands to be trained for performances at a similar park in Singapore.

Trixie Concepcion, representative of Earth Island Institute in the Philippines, said seven dolphins arrived on Dec. 8 on a chartered UPS plane from Honiara, the Solomon Islands, for Ocean Adventure Park at Subic.

The rest of the dolphins are due to arrive soon, Concepcion said in a statement to the Inquirer.

John Corcoran, president of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium (SBME), operator of Ocean Adventure Park, confirmed the dolphins’ arrival.

“They are currently in a quarantine facility and are being taken care of by a dedicated staff of Filipinos,” said Corcoran in a telephone interview Saturday.

The animals are going to be trained at Ocean Adventure for about a year but are not going to be part of the park’s shows, he said.

The park already has seven bottle-nosed dolphins, a false killer whale, a spotted dolphin and a rough-toothed dolphin.

Citing nondisclosure agreements, Corcoran declined to answer further questions on the dolphin importation or the company it was doing the training for.

In her statement, Concepcion identified the company as Resorts World Park in Singapore.

The importation was covered by international and local permits, according to Edwyn Alesna, chief of the fisheries quarantine and wildlife regulatory section of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

“They were legally imported,” Alesna said in a telephone interview.

He said Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap signed the local permits.

“They are for training, not for the local park,” he added.

Concepcion said the export of dolphins from the Solomon Islands was controversial because the animals could not be declared sustainable since there were no scientific or baseline studies on the current stock and population of dolphins in that area.

This was based on the findings of the Cetacean Specialist Group (CSG) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the technical advisory body to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), she said.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008


The annual Chirstmas Fair was successfully held on December 11, 2008 at the East Tapinac Oval Track (ETOT) where a Drum and Lyre Corps Competition and Lantern Parade and Competition. Hundreds of students from different schools around the city joined in the festivities in celebration of the Yuletide season.

The Drum and Lyre Corps Competition was held from 8 in the morning until 12 noon while the Lantern Competition and Parade started around 1 in the afternoon.

The parade took off from the Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Center and ended at the ETOT. Students carried colorful lanterns, made of different recycled and indigenous materials, and slogans supporting the total ban on fire crackers.

Present during the Lantern Parade and Competition were Mayor James ‘Bong’ Gordon Jr., Vice Mayor Cynthia Cajudo, City Councilors Rodel Cerezo, Jhong Cortez, and Ellen Dabu. Joining them were the different Schools Division Officers, headed by Schools Division Superintendent Ligaya Monato.

“This program is created to explore the inventiveness of our students and gauge how they can contribute to the development of the city,” said Monato. “We intend to fully hone their creativity and musicality through programs like this.”

“Napaka-kulay ng Christmas Fair na ito and it just goes to show how creative, resourceful and imaginative ng mga estudyante ng Olongapo!” said Mayor Gordon.

The winning lanterns are currently displayed in the Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Center.

Here is the list of winners in their respective categories:

Drum and Lyre Competition
Champion – Tabacuhan Elementary School
1st Runner Up – Banicain Elementary School
2nd Runner Up – Olongapo City Elementary School

Lantern Parade Contest
Biggest Delegation – Olongapo District II
Most Colorful Group – Olongapo District IV
Most Disciplined Group – Olongapo District II

Lantern Contest
Elementary Level

Most Original
1st Place – Gordon Heights I Elementary School

Most Creative
1st Place – Iram Elementary School

Most Symbolic Table Motif
1st Place – Gordon Heights I Elementary School

Secondary Level

Most Original
1st Place – Iram High School

Most Creative
1st Place – Regional Science High School

Most Symbolic Table Motif
1st Place – Regional Science High School

Some of the competing lanterns made of recycled and indigenous materials at the Lantern Parade and Competition on December 12, 2008. Gordon Heights I Elementary School, Iram Elementary School and Regional Science High School emerged as top winners.


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Employees and officials of the city government on Friday, 19th of December 2008 held their Christmas party at the Olongapo City Convention Center with Hawaiian or beach attire as the theme.

“ Siguro masaya ang lahat sa pagkakatanggap ng cash gift, lalo ngayong pasko lahat tayo masaya,” Mayor Gordon said in his message. He also encouraged the city employees and officials to participate in the anti-firecracker campaign. “ Ang gusto natin peace on earth and goodwill to man, dapat magtulong-tulong tayo i-celebrate ang Pasko ng hindi nagpapaputok,” Mayor added.

Vice-Mayor Cynthia Cajudo otherwise cited in her speech the importance of Christmas in every man, “it is not important to have material things but what is inside our hearts,” Cajudo said.

The program was highlighted by the performances of the “Lagapak Band”(Power Failure Band) of PUD and the BONGGO band with some special guests.

The crowd got more excited as the contest for the special presentation began. The Accounting, Treasury, Business Permit and Assesors group won the first prize in the presentation, second prize was the Livelihood, Flash Gordon, Mass Titling and Library, and third place was awarded to the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital.

The attendees got even more excited as Mayor James Gordon, Jr., and First Lady and Zambales Vice-Governor Anne Marie Gordon started drawing the Christmas raffle with various items as prizes such as kitchen appliances, flat irons, wines, gift certificates, television sets La Germania Gas Range and a Refrigerator as the grand prize, which was bagged by the employee of James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital.

“In behalf of my family, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” Mayor said.

Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. with the BONGGO Band and some guests during the Christmas Party of the city government at the Olongapo City Convention Center on December 19, 2008.


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Senate to probe Subic tree-cutting

The Senate is poised to investigate the plan to cut down trees in a thickly-forested area at the Subic Bay Freeport.

Senator Pia Cayetano said Friday that the committee on environment has agreed with her to initiate an investigation into the $120 million casino-hotel project of a Korean firm inside the free port administered by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Cayetano said this after obtaining the commitment of the Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo Madrigal to look into the plan to destroy 161 “diseased” trees, including those that would not survive balling and relocation, to clear the way for the construction of the Ocean 9 Casino Resort and Hotel project of Grand Utopia, Inc.

Cayetano said Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, chair of the committee on labor, has also given his consent to join the inquiry.

Madrigal and Estrada will initiate a joint investigation into their respective issues when the Senate resumes sessions on January 19 after a month-long Christmas break, she said.

On Tuesday, Cayetano delivered a privilege speech assailing the casino project which was exposed by architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr.

Palafox Jr. had said that more than 300 trees would be cut for the project. The SBMA ecology center counted 366 trees at the two-hectare project site in August.

The senator noted that this tree-cutting spree was promptly denied by SBMA, claiming that a no-tree-cutting policy was being enforced in the former American military base.

Cayetano, former chair of the Senate committee on environment, conducted an on-site hearing in April in Subic Bay, but on a separate issue. She wanted to ascertain possible environmental violations in the construction of two high-rise buildings by Hanjin Heavy Industries in the middle of the Subic forest.

"In the draft committee report, we found that SBMA was negligent in ensuring that the environment is preserved and that our laws are observed. By virtue of a memorandum of agreement, those responsibilities were relegated to SBMA by DENR," said Cayetano.

On Wednesday, a team that conducted an environmental survey of the area confirmed that at least 161 trees will have to be cut at the site.

Pastor Malabrigo of Kanlungan Development Association of Innovators said most of the trees were diseased and his firm had recommended to Grand Utopia Inc. that it reforest eight hectares in a forest preserve in place of the trees that would be cut.

He said their assessment showed that 161 trees at the site had butt-basal and center rot, and these were no longer normal. He said there were only 282 trees at the site.

Kanlungan was hired by Grand Utopia to conduct the initial environmental examination, a requirement before an environmental compliance certificate for the casino-hotel project can be secured.

“Inasmuch as we want to save all the trees in the area, relocation will eventually cause the death of most of the trees which are diseased. Replacement and reforestation is therefore the better option,” Malabrigo said.

He said Kanlungan proposed that for every tree cut at the project site, 50 saplings be planted in the reforestation area, for a total of 8,050 new trees.

“Most of the [sick trees] are mature trees, saplings and poles. These are very common species. The primary basis of our recommendation is the health of the individual [trees]. Balling is very expensive and the survival rate of unhealthy trees is very low,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. also supported the joint committee inquiry, but he suggested slashing the budget and subsidies being provided by the national government to the SBMA.

This will force the SBMA “to be more aware of its responsibilities in overseeing labor standards and environmental laws within its jurisdiction,” he said. By Michael Lim Ubac - Philippine Daily Inquirer

Subic Proxy War

“Not all Filipinos are for sale,” said one of our sources, describing the decision of Palafox and Associates—owned by renowned architect and urban planner Jun Palafox—to turn down $1 million in fees that was offered to it by a Korean client.

The scuttled deal called for the architecture and planning firm to recommended the “clearing” of a two-hectare urban forest in the Subic Bay Freeport, a former American naval base northwest of Manila, to allow its client to build a casino resort. That would have called for the cutting down of 366 trees, including 37 that were over a hundred years old, according to the pro-Palafox camp, which added that the deal supposedly has the backing of “powerful officials” within the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the government casino franchise firm Pagcor.

Not so, says SBMA chief Armand Arreza, who believes that the latest controversy to hit the free port is yet another iteration of the lingering and festering fight between Senator Dick Gordon, a former SBMA chairman, and his successor and longtime nemesis Tong Payumo.

Palafox, Arreza said, has allowed himself to be used in a “local political fight” between the two rivals.

In addition, Arreza (who, like his ally Gordon, is a product of the Ateneo de Manila University) said there was no way the trees in question could be “centuries-old,” as they are planted on land reclaimed by Americans from the sea after the Korean War.

If this is, indeed, a proxy war between the Gordons and the Payumos, expect it to turn nastier in the coming weeks. Daxim L. Lucas - BIZ BUZZ - Philippine Daily Inquirer


Renowned architect is a Payumo lackey?
by FELICITO C. PAYUMO - Philippine Daily Inquirer

Daxim Lucas quoted Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza as saying that the latest controversy involving the cutting of 366 trees for a hotel-casino complex in the Subic Bay Freeport and a demand by an SBMA official for an 18-percent commission in another SBMA development master plan project is nothing but an “iteration of the lingering and festering fight between Sen. Dick Gordon and longtime nemesis Tong Payumo.” (Big Buzz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12/3/08)

I don’t know what Arreza is to Gordon, but Jun Palafox is certainly no lackey to me. Say things at my bidding? Why, the guy has more international stature than I have. That’s an insult for which he can sue for libel.

Levity aside, I learned from Palafox that Arreza threatens to file legal action if Palafox does not identify the person whom the Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial called an “official extortionist.” Then Palafox can demand that Arreza poise the same threat as well at SBMA chairman Fil Salonga who should also be asked to name the SBMA official or officials in an earlier extortion attempt that was reported to him by the representative of Win’s Way, an investor in an oil depot project. (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12/6/08; read story)

Why Palafox made this exposé, he alone can answer. He was the guest speaker at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Manila and he talked of the new trend in urban planning — away from the sprawling model typified by wide boulevards and by the residents’ need to commute daily to work to a “bikable” and “walkable” neighborhood where “people live upstairs and go downstairs where they shop, take coffee, browse in bookstores and sit in parks, etc.” It was then that he talked of the threat to the only tree park in the CBD (commercial business district) of the Subic Freeport. No one prodded him to talk about it.

Arreza claims that there are no century-old trees on the site. Maybe he is correct. The term “century-old” has been loosely used for old growth, mature trees. But will it matter if the trees are 80-, 60-, or even 50-year-old? He says that they will not be cut but balled and transferred elsewhere. Palafox seriously doubts if this is possible to do with full-grown trees. But the more important question is, why relocate the trees and not the project? There are other areas in the CBD. Why take out the only tree park described by the Ecology Center as “urban forest” because the site is densely stocked?

Palafox enjoys a high reputation for his integrity. The Rotary Club of Manila is supportive of this one Rotarian who was thrust into a controversy but in a positive light. Rather than affix his name to a project that would cut or remove 366 trees, including 37 endangered species listed by the SBMA Ecology Center, he declined a $1-million architectural engagement enough to pay his payroll for six months. Now, his reputation is under savage attack for blowing the whistle not only on the threat to the tree park but also on an extort attempt in a different project. Will Salonga be subjected to the same attack?

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Friday, December 19, 2008

17 law enforcers of SBMA receive citations from CSC

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Seventeen law enforcers of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) were honored by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for their participation in the discovery and seizure of contrabands worth more than 2 billion in this premier Freeport.

Three SBMA security officers received the CSC “Gantimpala Agad” Award, while 14 others were given commendations last Monday by Cristina Gonzales, director of the Zambales provincial field office of CSC.

Wilfredo Agnazata Sr., Ariel Arabe, and Diosdado Ednave, all Security guards employed by the SBMA’s law enforcement department, received the “Gantimpala Award,” the award component of the “Mamamayan Muna, Hindi Mamaya Na” program of CSC.

Sbma Deputy Adminstrators Robert Martinez (administration) and raul Marcelo (tourism) assisted Gonzales in giving to the security officers the “Gantimpala Agad” pins, Philippine Flag pins, and certificates of recognition from CSC.

On the same occasion, 14 other security officers and guards received letters of commendation for their follow-up operations leading to the seizure of contrabands.

They are Security Officer 5 (SO5) Vicente Tolentino and SO5 Fernando Aquino; SO4 Rolando Cepe; SO3 Alfred Jose, Aris Atienza, and Benjamin Macans; SG3 Mario Sigua, Jaime Jimenez, Romeo Agato Jr., and Romeo Reyes; and SG2 Ronel Salvador and SO! Ceferino Abadia.

By. Jonas Reyes – Manila Bulletin

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Total Ban On Manufacture, Sale, Distribution, Possession And Use Of Firecrackers


read the ordinance

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Olongapo win as Central Luzon child-friendly LGU

Olongapo City bagged the Presidential Award in the recently concluded Presidential Search for Child Friendly Cities and Municipalities in the highly urbanized city category.

Director Minda B. Brigoli of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region III and concurrent chairperson of the Regional Sub-Committee for the Welfare of Children (RSCWC) said that the annual search for child friendly cities/municipalities which started in 1998 aims to institutionalize a child friendly environment and government towards promoting and protecting a child's survival, development, protection and participation.

She declared that it specifically aims to give national recognition to cities and municipalities that have been considered child-friendly and to encourage local government units (LGUs) to prioritize and address issues and concerns affecting the full realization of the rights of children, monitor and evaluate the implementation of programs and services.

Aside from the winners, Brigoli said that the other nominees for the three categories are Tarlac City for the component city category; Anao, Tarlac for the 4th to 6th class category and Plaridel for the 1st to 3rd class category.

Meanwhile, Teresa Villa, Social Welfare Officer of DSWD III and concurrent focal person of RSWC in the region said that the validating committee came up with the following assessment on the winners per category:

Olongapo City was a national awardee as 2006 and 2007 best police office; regional winner, 2007 Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran, panglunsod category, Highly Urbanized City Cluster; regional and national winner, best City Disaster Coordinating Council Award; and Regional and National Gawad Kalasag Award for 2006 and 2007; Lupon Tagapamayapa incentive awards for highly urbanized city cluster; Lupon Tagapamayapa national awardee, Barangay Baretto; first runner-up disaster management office; Gawad Kalasag, functional City Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC); Sentrong Sigla Awardee; Regional Awardee for the Child Friendly City, highly urbanized category for 2006.

Olongapo also has a Home for Girls, a Home for Abandoned Children, a Home for distressed senior citizens; a Home for Children and Home for Victims of Violence Against Women and Children's Act (VAWC) and HELPS program of Mayor James "Bong "Gordon that caters for the social, educational, livelihood, housing, health and environmental sanitation of life particularly for the total development of children as well as their service providers.

Mariveles, on the other hand, has a separate plan for children, a certified Sentrong Sigla awardee, with a functional Municipal Council for the Protection of Children (MCPC), and a Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC), 60 % of birth registration due to mobile registration at the barangay level, available documents of activities per sector/unit, 100 % child participation, child friendly day care and health centers and school facilities and available programs and facilities intended for children, active youth organization, with best practices inculcating the idea of 4 Cs.

The validating teams and awards committee for child friendly cities/municipalities in Region III are from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (Dep-Ed), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Justice (DOJ), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) National Economic and Development (NEDA), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), National Statistics Office (NSO), TATAG, PREDA, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), LUZNET. (by Emma C. Tabalanza - PIA)

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Subic tree row: Group says reforestation a better option

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT—A nongovernment organization that recently completed an environmental study of the project site for the proposed $120-million Ocean 9 hotel-casino project here has concluded that replacing affected trees in the area would be a “wiser option” than relocating them elsewhere.

Pastor Malabrigo, a professor at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB) and team leader of the environmental consultancy group Kanlungan Development Association of Innovators Inc., said the trees in the area are “mostly diseased.”

In this instance, he said, reforestation and other environment-protection activities should be undertaken by the project proponent Grand Utopia Inc., instead of spending too much for tree-balling and relocation.

Kanlungan, which was tapped by Grand Utopia to undertake the Initial Environmental Examination Report (IEER) for the hotel-casino project, is composed mostly of professors and experts from UP and holds office on the UPLB campus.

The group’s report, which was completed after a three-week study of the project site, debunked most of the arguments made by critics of the project, who said the development would sacrifice more than 300 trees.

Among the more significant findings by Kanlungan is the need to replace 161 “diseased trees,” even as the group recommended that 70 healthy trees be relocated, and 51 others be retained at the 1.9-hectare project site.

“People should look at the prospects of an 8-hectare reforested land versus the pitiful condition of the mostly defective trees in the project site,” Malabrigo said, as he argued for the reforestation option on Wednesday.

He said the project site, which served as a minigolf course during the US Navy days, is unsuitable for tree growth, with the concrete paving for the golf links causing the development of “very disturbed root systems.”

As a result, Malabrigo explained, trees in the area eventually developed various diseases such as rotting.

He added that most of the trees in the area “are very common species” like atis, langka and guava, among others. These “can be easily replaced with prime, even endangered, trees,” he said.

Malabrigo also stressed that his group did not recommend extensive tree-balling because this would cost from P100,000 to P200,000 per tree, depending on its size.

The better alternative would be reforestation, which costs around P70,000 per hectare per year, he said.

Moreover, “the very tedious process of balling and transplanting will subject the trees to a lot of stress,” Malabrigo pointed out.

“Unhealthy trees won’t be able to withstand this.”

“Rather than spending too much for relocation of trees whose survival is really uncertain, the SBMA [Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority] Ecology Center might as well ask the proponent to allocate resources for other environmental restoration and restoration activities,” he concluded.

In the course of its environmental examination, Kanlungan also said it has identified 235 trees and 47 palms in the project site, as opposed to 336 trees (including palm species) as inventoried by the SBMA Ecology Center.

Malabrigo said the discrepancy was due to the fact that the SBMA inventory individually counted each sprouting pole of the palm specie Palmera tree, when they should have been counted as individual clusters.

“Palms are not trees, and should be differentiated as such,” Malabrigo pointed out.

He said of the 48 tree species found in the area, only two—ipil and narra—are classified as “endangered.” The Manila Palm is also considered endangered.

Malabrigo, however, clarified that the term “endangered” means the population is threatened “in the wilds only” and does not necessarily mean that the species is on the brink of extinction.

This is true in the case of Manila palm, that is scarce in the wilds, but is commonly used in gardens and man-made landscapes.

For the Ocena 9 hotel-casino project, Malabrigo said the two ipil trees at the project site will not be affected by the project design and will be retained, along with five of the 18 Manila palms.

Among the 13 narra trees, which are found mostly at the periphery of the lot parcel, only one of these will have to be transplanted.

The rest, he said, “will find their way into urban landscaping” for the hotel-casino project.

He also clarified that the description of the project site as “densely stocked with trees” was inaccurate, since it has a tree density of less than three trees per 200 square meters.

This ratio falls short of the standard of one tree per two square meters, Malabrigo said.

To compensate for the trees that would have to be removed, Malabrigo said Grand Utopia would have to come up with replacement trees totaling 8,050, or 50 seedlings per one tree that will be replaced.

He said this ratio would be enough to reforest an 8-hectare area with the recommended spacing of three meters by three meters.

He added that the SBMA Ecology Center has already identified the Pastolan area at the east side of the Subic Bay Free Port as a viable reforestation area.

As to the contention by project critics that several trees in the area are “century-old,” Malabrigo said this cannot be ascertained without cutting the trees down and counting the annual rings.

But he noted that most of the trees in the area are saplings and poles with girths less than 10 centimeters in diameter.

The SBMA also said earlier that the project site, as confirmed by geological surveys, was reclaimed by the US Navy from swampland sometime in late 1950s or early 1960s. This, SBMA officials said, precludes the possibility that century-old trees could be found in the area. Written by Henry Empeño / Budiness Mirror Correspondent

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Bolante ‘runner’ yields to Gordon

MARITES Aytona, the alleged “runner” of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, gave herself up at past noon yesterday to the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

She surrendered a day after Sen.Richard Gordon, panel chairman, ordered her arrest Wednesday for repeatedly snubbing the hearing on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

Aside from Aytona, three others were ordered arrested in connection with the fertilizer fund scandal: Redentor Antolin (for testifying falsely or evasively); as well as Julie Gregorio and Jaime Paule (for continuous failure to appear and testify).

However, Aytona’s brother, Ramon, went to Gordon that same night to inform the senator that it was not the intention of his sister to snub Wednesday’s hearing. She was actually on her way to the hearing but decided not to proceed after encountering a supposed “ambush” incident.

She was reportedly accosted by a motorcycle-riding armed man on her way to attend the hearing. “Ms. Aytona’s brother went to the Senate as I was about to leave. He was there to submit a police report of the incident,” Gordon said.

However, Gordon, is not yet convinced of Aytona’s excuse. He wants to hear her testimony on the incident on Monday. Likewise, he has yet to get the consensus of the other members of the BRC where to put Aytona. “I really haven’t thought about that right now but definitely not in Pasay (City jail).”

”You will understand if I tell you that I cannot tell you where Aytona will be. If I say andito, that’s irresponsible on my part. She’s very concerned about her safety. Sabi n’ya she will feel safer kung nasa amin s’ya,” he said.

According to the police report, the “ambush” incident occurred at about 11:20 a.m. at Calamba Street in Biak na Bato, Sto. Domingo village in Quezon City. Aytona was seated at the backseat, while another sibling, Eduardo, was driving when a man riding a motorcycle blocked their path and pointed a gun at Marites. Eduardo was able to maneuver the car and the armed man did not attempt to follow.

Marites begged Gordon, in the spirit of Christmas, not to enforce the arrest order against her and sought another chance to attend the hearing. Aytona reasoned that the alleged attempt on her life only added to her fear which struck her as she recalled that the deaths of journalist Marlene Esperat and Teofilo Mojica, former Department of Agriculture employees, were reportedly linked to the fertilizer fund scam. By: Bernadette E. Tamayo - Journal online

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Subic extortion

When Administrator Armand Arreza of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) went to the Kapihan sa Manila media forum to talk about the alleged extortion attempt on Palafox Associates, environmental consultant for the South Korean-owned casino-hotel planned for construction in the Subic Bay Freeport, he said he asked Felino Palafox Jr. for the identity of the person who asked for an 18 percent commission. Palafox did not identify the person, he said. Arreza said of Palafox: “Why is he not cooperating?” He also said it was reported that it was his son that asked for the commission, but his son is only 10 years old.

Last Monday, Palafox explained why he could not identify the person who delivered the extortion message. The message was not delivered to him personally, he said. “It was an engineering consultant, Ed Santos from Woodfields Consultants, who conveyed the message to our architect Chona Ponce. Santos refused to tell the name of the person who asked the 18 percent commission from Palafox Associates and Woodfields Consultants in order for us to be short-listed in the updating of the Subic Master Plan. This happened in October 2007.

“As a good citizen, I immediately reported the incident to Arreza, who volunteered to investigate the matter and he suspected someone from the bidding committee. I then told Secretary Cerge Remonde and Secretary Ed Pamintuan about the extortion attempt, when I did not get feedback from Arreza on his investigation. I was hoping, and they assured me, they would investigate. The government has the resources to investigate.”

Palafox added that he was “not clamming up.” He said, “Our sources on anomalies at the SBMA involving Arreza are so scared for their lives and safety, their business and investments, and their employment. When I told them I would report the information received, they refused to be identified or to name names.”

He added that he had been told that Santos has resigned from Woodfields and that his boss is now in Finland.

Palafox also denied naming Arreza’s 10-year-old son as the one asking for the 18 percent commission. “This is absurd, ridiculous, and too big a lie,” he said.

Palafox explained that he did not start the extortion story. “When the media interviewed me regarding the trees on the site of the proposed casino-hotel project, I was asked if I was aware of any extortion cases in Subic. I do not have control over what media writes or publishes.”

He added that his firm was commissioned to do projects here and in other countries, but he was never asked for “commissions” like they do in the SBMA. “In Clark, we have American and Kuwaiti investors who intend to invest $2 billion.” Nobody asked for the so-called “SOP, Facilitation Fee, TIP (To Insure Promptness), Lagay, Patong, which people reportedly talk about in the SBMA,” he said.

As a parting shot, Palafox said he did not name any Coscolluela as the “extortionist.” The congresswoman who said I did was wrong, he said. By Neal Cruz - As I see it - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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