Pangasinan board to enact P2.8-B budget for 2015

The provincial board here is set to approve the proposed P2.8-billion annual budget of Pangasinan for the year 2015 during its next regular session on December 1.

This was bared by Sixth District Board Member Alfonso Bince Jr. when the board ended its budget hearing on Monday.

He said the proposed P2.8-billion budget for 2015 is bigger than this year's P2.46 billion.

According to a draft appropriation ordinance set to be approved December 1, the health sector will have the biggest share of the pie anew in the 2015 proposed budget, like in this year's budget.

The operations of hospitals had been allocated P585,579,416, which is higher by about P40 million over the current year's allocation of P544,306,705.

Bince said of the amount, P15 million has been allotted for hospital equipment such as CT-scan, x-ray machines, among others.

At the same time, assistant provincial health officer, Dr. Jeremy Rosario, disclosed that the province is due to receive over P100 million worth of projects from the Department of Health in 2015 under the Hospital Facility Enhancement Program.

The budget of the Office of the Provincial Health Office has also increased from P23,342,543 to P24,309,037.

Next to health, infrastructures will be given a big portion of the provincial budget of Pangasinan.

"This is in order to complete asphalting and cementing of all provincial roads and bridges, hopefully before elections," he remarked.

The increase of budget is attributed to the increase of the province’s Internal Revenue Allotment share from the national treasury and the increase of the non-tax revenue.

The annual budget's sources are the following: local source, P87,250,000 (tax revenue); P221,080,000 (non-tax revenue); and external sources, P2,461,723,775.

Bince said the 2015 budget will facilitate the implementation of the present provincial administration’s priority program and projects included in the 2015 Annual Investment Plan. (PNA)

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Comelec urges qualified voters to update poll records

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Koronadal City has appealed to qualified voters to register, validate, or upgrade registration records as early as possible.

Lawyer Richard Opinion, Koronadal City Election Officer, said that to date, at least 40 people already came to Comelec to apply for registration, validation or upgrading of their registration.

“Qualified voters can visit the Comelec office to update their record from Monday to Friday," Opinion said.

He said those who were not able to vote for two consecutive elections and already delisted by the Comelec are also encouraged to upgrade registration records.

The city Comelec office is conducting the voters registration at their office from Monday to Friday, while the satellite registration centers in villages are open every Saturday.

Voters who do not have time to register during weekdays can ask their barangay officials about the schedule of satellite registration in their respective villages.

The city Comelec Office has already conducted satellite registration in at least six villages in Koronadal City.

“Once we finish the satellite registration in all 27 villages in August 2015, we will also have voters registration for our inmates at the South Cotabato Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center,” Opinion said.

The Comelec earlier launched its campaign to encourage individuals who are of voting age to register and have their biometric records updated so they could participate in the 2016 national and local elections.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr, said that under the law, biometrics records are compulsory. (PNA)

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DTI: Christmas light sellers in Zambo City generally law compliant

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was pleased to see sellers of Christmas lights in this city complying with the Law on Standards as reported by the agency’s monitoring team.

“Generally, the big stores in Zamboanga City are compliant with the law,” DTI-Zamboanga City Consumer Protection Division Chief Ceferino Rubio disclosed Tuesday.

The DTI monitoring team is religiously conducting monitoring of the Christmas lights being sold in this city to protect consumers from disasters that substandard items may cause.

However, Rubio disclosed they are investigating two stores selling Christmas lights sans Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) stickers.

“We have seen Christmas lights without the ICC stickers. Until such time that the investigation proves it to be true, I can still say that as of the moment, they are uncertified on the basis that they do not have the ICC stickers, as being imported. If they are found not bearing any sticker or substandard, then that’s final. It is deemed substandard,” Rubio explained.

He said so far, they have monitored 21 stores including the two that were found to be selling questionable Christmas lights.

“Out of the 21 outlets, two were found to be selling uncertified Christmas lights. But these are coming from small stores. The big stores, department stores in Zamboanga City are generally compliant,” he said.

The DTI has intensified the monitoring and crackdown of substandard Christmas lights as these are the main culprit in the numerous cases of fire incidents during the Yuletide season. (PNA)

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PNR to commemorate 122nd anniversary on Monday

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) will turn 122-years-old on Monday (Nov 24).

As the sole operator of the most extensive intra-island railway in Luzon, PNR operates two commuter rail services in Metro Manila and the Bicol Region.

Although the Bicol service is under rehabilitation, the metro commuter line will continue to run from Tutuban station in Manila to Cabuyao, Laguna.

After rehabilitation, the Bicol service will run to Naga City in Camarines Sur province, and eventually to the southern terminal in Legazpi City in Albay.

PNR was originally called the Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan which officially began operations on November 24, 1892 during the Spanish colonial period, and later became the Manila Railroad Company (MRR) during the American colonial period.

Eventually, it was renamed the Philippine National Railways on June 20, 1964 by virtue of Republic Act No. 4156. The PNR is an attached agency under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Last June, President Benigno S. Aquino III signed an act allowing the PNR to run for another 50 years under Republic Act No. 10638.

The law allows the state-owned PNR to continue the operation of the mass commuter rail system in Luzon until 2064. It also mentioned that the PNR will remain under the DOTC.

So far, PNR remains the cheapest mode of transportation at 71 centavos per kilometer.

The Government is currently working to triple the PNR’s capacity in the coming years. (PNA)

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NorCot guv condemns Mlang bombing

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza condemned the bomb attack in Mlang, North Cotabato Sunday night that left two football players dead and 25 others wounded.

"The provincial government condemns in the highest possible form such adventurism," Mendoza said in a statementon Monday.

"The provincial government priority is to assist all the victims," she said of the second deadly bombing in North Cotabato in seven days.

"Police and Army are directed to work and coordinate very closely with each other to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice," she added.

The governor also seek justice for the victims. "We demand justice for all the victims and peace loving people of Mlang," she said.

Mlang's blast came while many people were milling around the billiard hall located near the carnival at about 7:30 p.m.

Two men were seen fleeing from the scene shortly after the blast on board a yellow motorbike. The police are now hunting them.

Earlier, Mayor Joselito Pinol condemned the attack and directed the police to conduct speedy and deeper investigation to give justice to the victims.

On November 16, a similar bomb went off along a busy street in Kabacan, North Cotabato that left a student dead and 16 others wounded.

The province is still reeling from the deadly Kabacan blast when another bomb went off in Mlang, North Cotabato.

No one has claimed responsibility for the two incidents. (PNA)

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Papal visit thrills Leyte-based journalists

Even local journalists, used to meeting high profile personalities, are also excited on the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis to Tacloban and the nearby town of Palo.

The papal’s visit is billed as both a pastoral and a state visit he, being the head of Vatican City, the world’s smallest state.

For Joey Gabieta, editor-in-chief of Leyte Samar Daily Express (LSDE) and correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said that as a journalist, covering Pope Francis is a lifetime experience. "I believe it is good that the Pope will be visiting Tacloban and Leyte."

“His presence alone will give a morale boost to still weary people from the wrath of Yolanda and gives spiritual upliftment,” Gabieta said.

Fr. Cris Arthur Militante, Palo archdiocese information and social communications officer, said that 4,000 journalists from around the world are expected to cover the visit of Pope in the country.

“But we make sure the media in Region 8 will be accredited and cover the major events in three venues of the Pope’s visit,” Militante added.

As for Ormoc City-based veteran reporter Lalaine Jimenea, publisher and editor-in-chief of EVMail newspaper, the Papal’s visit is “big news.”

“As a Catholic, I love him as a Pope and I count myself as lucky to have lived at his time. I hope security measures are tight considering we are almost connected to Mindanao. However, if I was just a layman and not a journalist, I would rather stay in the comfort of my house and watch him on TV,” Jimenea said.

Ronald Reyes, columnist of LSDE and correspondent of online ucanews.com, said that he is preparing for the historic event.

Also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Reyes said that the pope’s visit “will surely bring impact and influence to the lives of the many Filipinos particularly the disaster victims.”

“It is both a humbling and exciting experience to document about his visit in the country knowing the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church,” Reyes, who also works as a correspondent of Manila Standard Today, said.

This observation of Reyes was also shared by journalist Eileen Nazareno Ballesteros, also of LSDE.

“It is awe- inspiring for the journalists of Eastern Visayas to be disseminating the details of the visit when they happen and right where they occur. It is a rare chance given to the local newsmen to be an instrument and avenue in spreading the message of Pope, a Vicar of Christ to the people,” she said.

Maasin City-based Marcelo Pedalino of the state-owned Philippine Information Agency (PIA), said Pope Francis ‘visit to Leyte is such a humbling and touching act to personally console the survivors of supertyphoon Yolanda.

Pope Francis will arrive in Tacloban City on January 17 for a seven-hour visit where he will hold mass at the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport and will motor his way to the nearby town of Palo where he will be meeting with Yolanda survivors at the archbishop palace and inaugurate the Pope Francis Center for the Poor. He will also meet religious leaders and seminarians at the Palo Cathedral.(PNA)

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S. Cotabato town police chief relieved over 'operational lapses'

The South Cotabato Provincial Police Office has relieved the chief of police of Sto. Nino town over accusations that he mistreated a minor during an earlier enforcement of the area’s curfew regulation.

Sr. Supt. Jose Briones, South Cotabato police director, said Monday he found “probable cause” to relieve Sr. Insp. Virlen Pampolina of his duties based on the results of their investigation into the incident.

He said Pampolina, who allegedly roughed up a minor inside an internet café in the area last Nov. 15, committed various operational lapses and other related violations while supposedly conducting operations in connection with the town’s curfew ordinance for minors.

“There was cause to relieve him due to the fact that he was not in uniform and not even carrying a copy of the ordinance during the operation,” he said in a radio interview.

Aside from these, Briones said Pampolina should have involved personnel from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office or any representative from the local government in their operation.

He said it is standing operating procedure or SOP for police personnel to ensure the presence of representatives from the lead implementing agency, in this case the municipal government, in enforcing local regulations or policies.

Briones was ordered last week by Chief Supt. Lester Camba, Region 12 police director, to investigate Pampolina over the incident.

Pampolina allegedly manhandled a minor, who was working as a cashier in an internet café at the town proper of Sto. Nino, at past 12 midnight last Nov. 15.

The police officials actions were captured by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at the establishment.

The CCTV footage showed Pampolina, who was wearing civilian clothes and with a handgun tucked on his waist, twisting the boy’s arms to his back and dragged him outside the establishment.

A witness said the police official appeared drunk and smelled of liquor during the incident.

Pampolina earlier played down the incident saying he just enforced the town’s ordinance that barred minors from such establishments and other public areas after 9 p.m.

He denied reports that he was drunk during the incident and insisted that he did not hurt the boy in any way.

Camba, who personally viewed and assessed the CCTV footage, said he initially found some lapses committed by Pampolina.

He said the police official was not wearing his proper uniform and should have tapped his subordinates for the operation.

Briones said he already submitted the results of their investigation to the Police Regional Office 12 for proper decision and handling.

“I have set my initial findings so it’s up to the regional office to determine and decide on the proper actions (on Pampolina),” he said.

As of Monday, he said Pampolina is temporarily reporting for duty at the provincial headquarters in Koronadal City.

He was replaced as chief of police of Sto. Nino town by Sr. Insp. Joel Fuerte, who assumed the post concurrent with his current designation as head of a task group under the provincial police’s operations unit.(PNA)

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DSWD to release P 1.09B shelter assistance for Tacloban's typhoon survivors

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) confirmed that they will start on Tuesday the release of P 1.09 billion emergency shelter assistance (ESA) for super typhoon Yolanda survivors in this city.

DSWD regional information officer Vina Aquino confirmed in a text message that cash grant for Tacloban is ready for release to beneficiaries as the regional office and the local government finalize plans today.

“Yes, we are doing everything to release the ESA for Tacloban Tuesday,” Aquino said in a text message.

For this badly-hit city, the DSWD regional office recently approved the P 1.09 billion ESA for 31,544 partially damaged houses and 25,895 totally damaged houses. The DSWD releases the money for distribution by the local government unit.

DSWD Regional Director Nestor Ramos said in an interview late last week that Tacloban will be the third local government that would benefit from ESA after Tanauan and Tolosa in Leyte.

In Tanauan, the local government continue to release the P 228 million ESA for 13,869 beneficiaries. In Tolosa, the LGU has been releasing P 143 million cash grant for 5,945 families.

“We have already approved request for ESA from 21 local government units with a total cost of more than P4 billion. The target is to release the assistance to all LGUs early next year,” Ramos said.

Household with partially damaged house get P 10,000 while those families with totally wrecked houses are entitled to P 30,000 grant.

Both the DSWD and LGUs had set rules to make sure that recipients will use the cash grant for shelter repair. (PNA)

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