15th September 2017
DILG installs Yap as new governor of Southern Leyte
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on September 15, 2017, 7:58 pm
By: Jani Arnaiz - Correspondent / @janiarnaizINQ
Inquirer Visayas / 07:27 PM September 15, 2017
MAASIN CITY – Southern Leyte has a new governor.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) installed on Friday Vice Gov. Christopher “Coco” Yap as the new governor of the province after beleaguered Gov. Damian Mercado personally received the Ombudsman order dismissing him from his post.
In a mobile phone interview, Mercado told the Inquirer that he personally went to the DILG regional office to receive the dismissal order “to end all speculations surrounding the Ombudsman order.”
Mercado said the DILG immediately installed Yap, who accompanied him to the agency’s regional office along with some board members, upon his receipt of the Ombudsman order.
Accordingly, top board member Jessica Escano Pano was installed as vice governor in place of Yap.
“Although we appealed the Ombudsman’s decision with the Appellate Court, we will abide by its decision whether it’s not in our favor,” Mercado said.
Asked if there is someone to blame for the case that moved very slowly for a decade, Mercado said: “I don’t blame anyone.”
Mercado said he will stay in Maasin, as he has to undergo some minor medical procedure for his illness.
The case of Mercado at the Ombudsman stemmed from his alleged anomalous purchase of three second-hand vehicles, which included his previously owned vehicle, amounting to P2.3 million.
In a resolution released on August 10, the Ombudsman held Mercado liable for grave misconduct in the alleged irregular procurement in 2007, when he was still mayor of the city. /kga
11th August 2017
Business as usual at Capitol amidst Gov. Mercado dismissal
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on August 11, 2017, 6:59 pm
By JANI ARNAIZ
August 11, 2017
MAASIN CITY – It’s business as usual at the Capitol less than 24 hours after a stir on the reported dismissal of Governor Damian Mercado by the Ombudsman.
According to Jason Calva, Southern Leyte provincial administrator, they are on standby. “(We’re) on standby to avoid technicalities. So far no legal documents officially received.” He did not elaborate.
On Thursday at the Charter Day program, Gov. Mercado told the The Reporter online in a text message, I will talk to my lawyer first. No comment,” when asked for his statement.
The Reporter online also tried to get the statement from Interior department but provincial director Jess Naquila was on a meeting with his officials.
An employee said, Naquila told them that media personalities will be coming over and that there’s no order yet of the dismissal.
A netizen has commented on FB, what a pity, the dismissal came at the height of the celebration of the 17th Charter Day against the proponent of cityhood who eventually the fist mayor when Maasin became a city. He was referring to then Mayor Mercado.
The case stemmed from the reported anomalous purchase 10 years ago of three second hand vehicles, including one he had previously owned and more than a decade old, for P2.3 million.
In a resolution announced on Thursday, the Ombudsman held Mercado liable for grave misconduct in the alleged irregular procurement in 2007, when he was mayor of Maasin City, the provincial capital.
3rd July 2017
Alvarez considering possible impeachment of Sereno over CA issue
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on July 3, 2017, 4:40 pm
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)
MAASIN CITY - Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez announced on Sunday the possible filing of an impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno if it could be proven that she had ordered the Court of Appeals (CA) to defy the show-cause order asking three CA justices to explain why they should not be cited for contempt for granting the petition for habeas corpus of the so-called Ilocos Six.
Alvarez, who was here to administer the oath-taking of new members of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), said he had received a report that Sereno had ordered the CA to defy the show-cause order.
"If we found it to be true then we will discuss it in Congress for a possible impeachment case,” he said.
The House of Representatives has been locked in a standoff with CA Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon, and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela after they ordered the release of the Ilocos Norte officials detained by the House for refusing to answer questions about an alleged anomaly involving the purchase of P66.45 million worth of vehicles, using funds from tobacco excise taxes.
The new members of the PDP-Laban in Southern Leyte who took their oath were Gov. Damian Mercado and his brother, Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, all 19 mayors of the province and their councilors, and all 70 barangay chairpersons of Maasin and their councilors.
In his speech, Alvarez announced the postponement of the barangay and SK elections this year.
"To all barangay officials who are here will be happy with this news that there will be no elections and that the barangay chairman will just be appointed,” he said.
When asked to elaborate, he told the Inquirer that they would legislate the postponement and discuss when it would be held. /atm
24th June 2017
Army assures public: no direct threat from terror attacks in Visayas
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on June 24, 2017, 9:19 pm
ORMOC CITY, Leyte, June 24 – Brigadier General Francisco F. Mendoza, Jr, army commander of 802ndBrigade based in the city confirmed despite the presence of armed men in the Visayas, there is no direct threat from terror attacks.
Mendoza assured the public that presently the whole of Visayas is still at level 1 for terror alert which means, it is not facing threat for any terror attack.
“There are armed men, yes. NPAs (New People’s Armies) are armed. But no threat for terrorism,” he pointed out.
Following the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao a month ago, various reports reached their office concerning presence of armed men in different areas pictured similar to “terror attackers” in Marawi in which Mendoza refuted saying all of them were hearsays.
“All information reaching our office that may pose imminent danger to peace and security are right away verified. So far, these are just hearsays”, Mendoza pointed out.
“As we receive the information, we verify it. But up to now, no first-hand informant has ever drawn details. All of them could not give light to the information spreading around and cannot pinpoint who really met what they referred to as ‘armed’ men” he added.
On the recent information spreading in social media saying armed men were sighted in Albuera, Mendoza added, it is now being verified.
Aside from watching over insurgency issues, the army is currently working closely with the police particularly the nightly events at the city in celebration to the coming 29th , the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
City police director Senior Supt. Ramil L. Ramirez personally supervises his men to conduct close watch at the city plaza where huge crowd is expected to join the evening merriments.
Police cars are constantly roaming around even at the outskirts to check any suspicious personalities around and to act immediately some emergency calls.
Ramirez assured the public for maximum security provided especially on the vesper night where bulk of viewers including VIPs is expected to witness the Bb. Ormoc coronation. The city superdome where the big event will be held was already mapped out for the uniformed police to take post on.
“Remember, you are not viewers, you are here to keep watch for everyone’s safety”, he reminded to the more or less 30 police force to be assigned at the dome.
Mendoza and Ramirez do not discount on possibilities that suspected terrorists may reach the city at any time, reason why they see to it to take immediate action once reports on the matter reach them. At this point, both claimed no known truth to all information upon verifications.
For this, they encourage the public to keep the military and police posted once suspicious characters are spotted in their area and much better if the person himself who had personal encounter or observation will be the one divulge vital information to the authorities.
8th June 2017
One killed, two wounded in buy-bust ops
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on June 8, 2017, 5:32 pm
By JANI ARNAIZ
MAASIN CITY - An illegal drug buy-bust operation has resulted to the killing of the drug suspect and wounding of a father and his three months old daughter on Tuesday night in Combado village this city.
RDEU8(Regional Drug Enforcement Unit 8), PDEA RO8 and local police station conducted the buy-bust operation.
The police identified the suspect, as 42 years Jason Go, jobless of Tagnipa village, Maasin City. While the wounded were identified as Marcelo Sarocan Serata, 34, and his 3-mos. old daughter Grace Jane.
Police said Go was considered as HVT level 2. His parents are in the US as migrants and he is a nephew of a Maasin City councilor.
PSupt. Harry Sucayre, RDEU head, said the suspect was under surveillance for months before they conducted buy bust operation.
In her report, Maasin PNP deputy chief, Police inspector Clea Marie Lapastora, said, a poseur-buyer bought a sachet of “shabu” from the suspect but when he sensed the presence of police officers, Go reportedly drove his Yamaha motorcycle prompting other members of the team to give chase using their service vehicle Toyota Revo.
While in motion, the PNP deputy chief reported that the police officers asked the suspect to stop but he speeded away instead that “he accidentally bumped and stumbled.”
The report stated that Go managed to run and while chased, the suspect drew his gun and fired at the apprehending team that prompting them to fire back killing the suspect.
The wounded, who were standing along the side of the street, were hit by a parked multi-cab when the cab was bumped by the Police service vehicle as the driver evaded the line of fire.
Recovered from the scene were two slugs, cal. 45 pistol, cartridges of a 45 and 9mm pistols.
Yamaha FZ model, 6 heat sealed sachet of “shabu” and P2,000 in five hundred peso bills including the marked money.
12th April 2017
Thousands of OFWs failed to register for PRRD visit to Qatar
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on April 12, 2017, 5:20 pm
By Joel Idjao
April 12, 2017
QATAR - Huge turn-out of registrants of Qatar based OFWs to be able to attend to President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with Filipino community crashed the website of the United Filipino Organization in Qatar (UFOQ) in just few hours after the Philippine Embassy announced its invitation.
On April 9, the Philippine Embassy, through Ambassador Alan Timbayan, sent out invitation for President Duterte’s official visit to oil-rich Emirate on April 14-16, but those who are interested should have to register first.
The President’s meeting with Filipino Community will be held at the Lusail Multipurpose hall, Lusail Sport’s Arena on April 15 between 6:00 pm to 8:00 p.m.
In a statement, Ambassador Timbayaan said, “For security purposes and physical layout limitations, the venue will be able to accommodate 6,000 persons. Filipinos who would like to attend the gathering would be required to register their attendance a few days before the event.”
However, in just a few hours after the announcement, the UFOQ website crashed because thousands of Qatar OFWs want to register. Registration is open on a first come-first serve.
Most of the registrants received an error message “500 Internal Sever Error” of “404 Page Not Found” and have to refresh several times until you fill-in the information including the submission of photo.
Some of the registrants, who failed to register on that night, have to wake-up early the following day just to register successfully. Some successful registrants do not received email confirmation and have to email UFOQ to received confirmation tickets.
By morning of 11 April 2017 the registration is full as per website. Some of the unsuccessful registrants plan to go to the venue hoping to see PPRD.
28th March 2017
Farinas: Duterte can appoint barangay execs
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on March 28, 2017, 8:12 am
By: Jani Arnaiz, Joey Gabieta - @inquirerdotnet
Inquirer Visayas / 04:04 PM March 27, 2017
TACLOBAN CITY — The House of Representatives has not taken up the proposal of President Duterte to postpone the elections and appoint barangay officials.
But Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas said he found nothing wrong with the President appointing new sets of barangay officials because the present term of the incumbents had expired in 2016.
“We have yet to talk about that in Congress because the leadership of Speaker (Pantaleon) Alvarez is by consensus. Kung ano man ang mananaig, yun ang mangyayari (Whatever is decided on by the majority will be adopted),” Fariñas said on Sunday.
Fariñas and some congressmen were in Tacloban City as part of their “Western and Eastern Nautical Highway Expedition,” an inspection tour conducted by the legislators to check on the state of the government’s Roll On-Roll Off (RORO) , the conditions of road network and the transportation system in the provinces.
Speaker Alvarez earlier signified his support for the plan of the President to cancel the barangay elections this October and appoint the barangay officials, to prevent those who have engaged in the drug trade from getting back into power.
“I see nothing wrong with appointing village officials if it’s mandated by law. Their terms have already expired but they are in hold-over capacity,” said Fariñas
He pointed out that since the terms of the barangay officials expired last year when the elections were supposed to be held, they could be replaced by appointment.
“In the Constitution, there’s no fix date in the election of village officials so that we in Congress can change the term of barangay officials whether it’s five or six years,” said the congressman from Ilocos Norte.
Fariñas said President Duterte has gained a wide perspective on illegal drugs trade over the years, compared to the congressmen who have only been confined to the peace and order problems of their districts.
The proposal to cancel the barangay elections and just appoint new sets of officials was opposed by village officials in Tacloban.
“This will deny the people (of their right) to vote directly officials they like to lead them in the barangay. Barangay officials, just like our other officials, should be elected and not appointed,” said Rosario Bactol, barangay chairman of 88.
Lawyer Jose Nick Mendros, Commission on Elections-Eastern Visayas director, said Comelec would continue to do its mandated work should Congress fail to pass a law cancelling the elections this October.
“Our registration (in our Comelec offices) will continue until April 29 while our satellite registration will end this week,” Mendros said.
“We cannot stop our work just because there is a proposal to cancel the barangay elections,” he added.
He said cancelling the elections might not be the answer to the problems of barangay officials’ involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
“Charge them (in court). We have charged a senator. Why not charged those alleged barangay officials,” Mendros, said referring to Senator Leila de Lima who has been detained on charges of illegal drug trade and protection.
He added that appointing barangay officials would be contrary to the country’s democratic principles and might exacerbate patronage politics.
20th February 2017
DPWH to build coastal bypass road in Maasin City
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on February 20, 2017, 3:41 pm
MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte – This city will get an alternative link to the commercial district – a 4.71-kilometer coastal bypass road with reclamation component meant to ease traffic woes and expand the city’s development.
The planned road, which will cost P1.5 billion, will get an initial budget of P50 million this year, said Ma. Margarita C. Junia, chief of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Southern Leyte district engineering office.
The proposed road, one of the key infrastructure projects in Eastern Visayas, will connect the city’s commercial center in Lib-og village to nearby populated village of Mambajao. It will traverse coastal areas of Abgao, Tunga-Tunga, and Combado villages.
The preliminary release, strongly lobbied by Rep. Roger Mercado for inclusion in the 2017 appropriations, will be used for the preparation of feasibility study for multi-year implementation, initial road construction, and some slope protection.
“The main roads leading to the city center are already congested even if those roads are restricted to one lane,” she said, referring in particular to R. Kangleon and Tomas Oppus Streets. “We cannot expand to the other side of the city since it’s mountainous.”
Maasin, a fourth class city and capital of Southern Leyte province, has a land area of 211.70 square kilometers with a population of 85,560. The city’s terrain is characterized by relatively flat lands along the coastal plains where population areas lay, and becomes rugged and mountainous towards the interior.
DPWH Southern Leyte planning section chief Vincent Sy said the proposed budget for the project in 2018 is P200 million. “Releases in the next years will mainly depend on the outcome of feasibility study, which will be completed within the first half of the year,” Sy added. The project is in compliance to Secretary Mark Villar’s directive to decongest traffic through construction of by-pass roads in populated areas. (PR)
9th January 2017
Farmer killed in Southern Leyte buy-bust; police claim shoot-out
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on January 9, 2017, 2:31 pm
By: Jani Arnaiz - Correspondent / @janiarnaizINQ
Inquirer Visayas / 07:03 PM January 06, 2017
MAASIN CITY—A 55-year-old farmer was shot dead on Friday in what the police claimed was a shoot-out following a buy-bust operation in an interior village of Ichon, Macrohon town, in Southern Leyte.
Felimon Labolabo was hit in the right forehead and right arm and died on the spot.
The buy-bust operation stemmed from a two-week surveillance operation on Labolabo who was allegedly a drug peddler.
Senior Insp. J-Rale C. Paalisbo, team leader of the Regional Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operation Group (RAIDSOG), said an undercover agent met with Labolabo near the latter’s farm in Sitio Santolan, Barangay Ichon, past 9 a.m. supposedly to buy “shabu” from the farmer.
The suspect drew his .38-cal. pistol when he sensed that he was dealing with a policeman, but the farmer was shot first.
Recovered from the crime scene were the gun and four sachets of suspected shabu.
It took four hours to retrieve the body since the crime scene was a secluded and hilly area.
Labolabo’s 18-year-old daughter, Tifanny, fainted after seeing her father’s body.
She said they had told her father to stop peddling drugs after he surrendered to the police during Oplan Tokhang, a campaign that required the police to knock on the houses of known drug peddlers and users and ask them to stop their illegal activities.
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