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Cruise Ship Docks in Bohol, Philippines

Governor Edgar Chatto insists that the implementation of the phase II of the Catagbacan Cruise ship Port is the next best thing to position Bohol in the international tourism map.
Speaking at “Kita ug ang Gobernador ” while an international cruise ship from its latest international port call in Indonesia berths was at the city tourism port, Chatto said the constricted city port prevents international cruise ship from staying in Bohol for a long period.

International cruise ship MV Minerva, from Swan Hellenic Cruises docks here for the company’s 21 stop destination offered commercially as 42 days Grand Empires of the East cruise which embarked from Singapore January 3 and returns to Singapore on February 12.
The cruise ship had Cirebon, Semarang, Bali, Lombok, Komodo Island, Ujung-Andang, Pare-Pare, Sandakan, Sabah Indonesia stop before attaching berth lines in Bohol.
But owing to the problem of severely congested port in Tagbilaran, the cruise ship has to pull anchors for less than a day visit here, onwards to Manila, Hongkong in China, Halong Bay, Hai Phong, Danang, Qui Nhon, Na Thrang and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, then to Sihanoukville in Cambodia, before Laem Chabang and Ko Samui in Thailand then off to complete the cruise in Singapore.
“The cruise ship can’t stay long,” Gov. Chatto said, explaining that the cruise ship causes Bohol bound merchandise and trade products to be temporarily kept at bay, on cargo ships waiting for their time to offload.
Because of this, the governor points out the need to raise anew the need to re- push for the completion and full operation of the Bohol Cruise Ship Port in Catagbacan, Loon.
It may be recalled that Chatto, while he was Congressman, prioritized the development of the Catagbacan Port in Loon, as a cruise ship port owing to its natural harbors, sheltered by islets and its potential to billow the sail of tourism in Northern Bohol as well as Bohol in general.
Chatto used the Districts Priority Development Assistance Fund to fund the phase 1 of the implementation of the cruise ship port.
For his part, succeeding congressman Rene Relampagos also put in PDAF funds for the improvement of the port access to the highway.
Chatto said the implementation of the project’s phase 2 is now in the hands of Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
Meanwhile, PPA information officer and architect Epelito Ararao, in a phone interview,explained that the PPA Central Office is currently studying the move to implement phase 2 of the project.
Ararao said the second phase of the project involves a berthing space extension of 50 to 100 meters, adding that most cruise ships are much longer than the currently available 80 meters.
He also said that while the harbor pilots have determined that the Catagbacan harbors are deep, the channels leading to it and the areas necessary for the cruise ships to maneuver need dredging operations, which also comprised part of the project’ phase 2.

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Training for Barangay Tanods

Don’t look now but the barangay tanods of Inabanga will soon be “Bohol’s finest.”

This after the local government unit (LGU), in collaboration with the Inabanga police, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Municipal Local Government Operations Office (MLGOO) conducted a barangay tanod skills enhancement training designed to make them more effective in carrying out their duties and functions.

A total of 602 barangay tanods from all 50 barangays attended in two batches the training held at the Inabanga Cultural Center.

In his welcome message, Liga ng mga Barangay (LnB) President Gumersindo Melicor said the training enhanced the tanods’ skills in maintaining the peace and order in the barangay.

For his part, Mayor Jose Jono Jumamoy lauded the tanods for their dedication as force multipliers and as extension arms of the police and even the firefighters.

“Lrt this training refresh your knowledge and skills on your varied roles in discharging your duties in the maintenance of public safety.” he said.

MLGOO Florencio Halasan Jr. discussed the role of the barangay tanod in government and tanod professionalization.

Other speakers included P/SInsp. Melanio Artiaga, Inabanga chief of police, who discussed tanod support to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in search and seizures, intelligence operations and arrests, enforcement of laws and ordinances as well as basic on insurgency preventive measures, anti-gambling laws and drug abuse prevention.

PO3 Grace Cortez of the PNP Children’s and Women’s Welfare Desk talked about relevant laws affecting women and children: with emphasis on Republic Acts 9262, 7610 and 9208.

The tanods were given refreshers on arresting and handcuffing techniques, unarmed defense strategies and arnis/baton handling techniques by the police while BFP personnel taught them basic fire prevention, suppression and fire disaster preparedness as well as first aid emergency drill.

Distribution of certificates capped the activity.

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Filipinos in Paris

Overseas Filipinos are hailed as modern day heroes. They sacrifice the happiness of relationship and the comforts of home to venture abroad to work, live and provide for the family’s future.

Now, they are even directly contributing to the cause of education and nation-building.

According to Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Jesli Lapus, the leaders of the Filipino community in Paris have announced their school-building project in the Philippines. They have chosen the Anungan Elementary School in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte with 390 students as the school site.

“We in government are humbled by this collective effort of our fellow Filipinos who are literally donating their blood and sweat money because they believe in the Philippines. ‘Para sa bayan’ (for the country’s sake) is a theme that binds us,” said Lapus.

During a recent visit to the project site, the Education chief also gave a briefing on the country’s stimulus package implementation and assured the community that the economy is relatively well in the midst of the global economic slowdown.

This latest school under the DepEd’s “Adopt-A-School” program was initiated by Philippine Ambassador to France Rora Navarro-Tolentino who expressed her gratitude to the Filipinos in attendance and to Secretary Lapus for his leadership in education.

The leaders of over 30 Filipino organizations in Paris have given various statements of support to the project and noted that it will not be the last. They cited the care and concern shown by Ambassador Tolentino, who is on her second stint in the French capital.

The event, with Ambassador Preciosa Soliven as witness, was highlighted by the signing of the deed of donation and the turnover of the ceremonial check.

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Kawal na Pilipino

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today presided over the ceremonies marking the change of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the AFP’s headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Wearing a cream barong outfit, the President was given full military honors, including a 21-gun salute, upon her arrival at 11:15 a.m. at the Camp Aguinaldo Grandstand where the change of command ceremonies were held.

Before delivering her speech, the President witnessed the testimonial parade in honor of outgoing AFP chief of staff Gen. Alexander Yano whom she later awarded with the Philippine Legion of Honor medal.

Submitting his Tour of Duty Report to President Arroyo, Yano, the country’s 38th AFP chief of staff, thanked the President for the honor and opportunity to have served as a “Kawal na Pilipino.”

“Your Excellency, I am proud to have served this country alongside my fellow Kawal Pilipino. I am grateful to the AFP and to you, our commander-in-chief, for this honor and opportunity.

“Your Excellency, you also gave this Mindanaoan the undeserved privilege of serving the Kawal Pilipino (as) chief of staff,” Yano told the President in his remarks.

In her speech, the President extolled Yano for his various accomplishments as AFP chief of staff.

“…I applaud our recently retired Gen. Alexander Yano. As fiercely as he fought the enemies of the State, he has worked just as passionately to secure the wellbeing of the ordinary soldier and to give former rebels a second chance to live in peace, a second chance to be part of the great Filipino workforce,” the President said.

“To modernize and strengthen his revered institution, Alex Yano focused on improving the life of the ordinary soldier. He was the one who proposed to me the issuance of sleeping bags and prepaid cellular phone cards to the soldiers fighting in the wilderness of the Lanao and Cotabato provinces.

“These benefits, funded by the Katas ng VAT program, were soon followed by scholarships for soldiers’ children and financial assistance for parents of military men assigned to the field,” the President added.

She pointed out that “as the only son of Mindanao to be named chief of staff, Gen. Yano applied his knowledge of the intricacies of the conflict there and went all out in support of the peace process through the various development and cultural integration programs.”

The President then announced Yano’s new assignment: “Gen. Yano will now continue to pursue peace in Mindanao as Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam. Upon recommendation of the Foreign Affairs Secretary, his retirement from the military has been advanced by a few weeks in order to have sufficient time for his confirmation — hopefully before Congress adjourns in early June. Congratulations, Alex, and thank you.”

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Filipino Worker Best in the World

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today honored the Filipino worker on the occasion of Labor Day.

In her speech during the turnover ceremony for the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) this morning (May 1, Friday) in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, the President said:

“We honor the Filipino worker today. A grateful government pledges its unwavering support to the great Filipino worker and the bright future that our workers are building for our country.”

The Chief Executive kicked off her speech by pointing out that “Labor Day this year is a timely occasion for the nation to celebrate the resiliency of our economy that has so far protected us from the worst of the global recession and allowed us to continue to grow.”

“The skills and talents of our workers at home and abroad are confounding the gloomy forecasts of pessimists, as they continue to seek out ever more jobs, remit more funds to our shores, and sustain the hopes of our country and the dreams of their families,” the President said.

“This year today, we honor a particular sector of the working class — the great Filipino soldier -– the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who continuously demonstrate their devotion to duty and our Constitution.

“Our military men and women are good, upstanding and loyal patriots, fighting to protect our country everyday,” the President said, adding, “We honor the great Filipino soldier for being ready to make the supreme sacrifice in war, as well as exemplifying the spirit of sacrifice that uplifts people in times of need and succor.”

“In honor of the great Filipino soldier, our administration has invested heavily in new and better equipment, more training and more cooperation with our allies to professionalize our military. We have invested in higher pay, more housing, better healthcare, and better force protection,” the President pointed out.

The Arroyo administration is celebrating Labor Day by holding a Jobs Fair for the country’s unemployed workers and those looking for better job opportunities here and abroad.

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Philippine Recession Is Over

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said today the Arroyo administration celebrates Labor Day today, Friday, May 1 “with profound optimism and a deep sense of gratitude to our workers for bringing us this far.”

Other countries may approach the mid-year with trepidation over their economic prospects, but in the Philippines hopes remain high that the worst may already have passed by, and the best is yet to come, Remonde said in his opening statement at his regular Friday briefing in Malacanang.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has provided various types of skills and jobs training to almost eight million workers, including near-hire training for call center agents, Remonde said.

The President has doubled the budget of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) this year to reach out to displaced members of the workforce. Today, Labor Day, our own Department of Labor and Employment is holding a job fair for 80,000 employment opportunities waiting to be filled, Remonde said.

He said the country relies on the skills and talents of its workers to carry the day and preserve the legendary resilience of the economy. In the Middle East alone, over 200,000 job openings are waiting for Filipino construction workers.

“Here at home, offshoring and outsourcing employers continue to set up call centers, software development houses and backroom offices,” he noted.

Remonde said the slowdown of the major export markets abroad was the cue for the Philippines to press forward with all available strategies not only to sustain its unbroken record of economic growth, but also to ensure the availability of jobs.

Remonde said that “it is no longer within the powers of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to dictate wage increases as it could be done during martial rule.”

The law in place mandates the Regional Tripartite Wages Productivity Board to set wage standards and for the mechanism of collective bargaining negotiations to move employers and employees, he said.

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Swine Flu Update

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially confirmed 331 cases of influenza A/H1N1, the technical name for the virus commonly known as swine flu, in 11 countries.

The United States has reported over 120 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. Mexico has reported 312 human cases of infection, including 12 deaths. The difference in some reported figures and those of the WHO may be down to the fact that not all countries have had all their cases confirmed by the global body.

Laboratory confirmed cases with no fatalities were reported in Austria (1), Canada (34), Germany (3), Israel (2), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (3), Spain (13), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (8).

The WHO raised its alert level for a swine flu pandemic from 4 to 5, one step short of a full-scale pandemic on Thursday.

Although the illness has so far claimed few lives, the outbreak has sparked a number of dramatic media reports suggesting future death tolls “could” be in the tens of thousands or even millions.

The global health body also said well-cooked pork and pork products carry no risk of infection from the virus.

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Rigid Tuition Fee in Colleges and Universities

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has rescinded the no-payment, no periodic examination policy in state universities and colleges and expanded the coverage of the Students’ Assistance Fund for Education (SAFE).

In signing Executive Order (EO) No. 792, President Arroyo said “in today’s global economy, knowledge is the greatest creator of wealth” and thus “the government must pour all savings and revenue into programs that help the poor and the middle class.

Mrs. Arroyo said two concerns had been brought to her administration, namely: the rigid tuition fee payment rules of state universities and colleges (SUCs) and the clamor to expand the coverage of the SAFE. She said the policy was one of the main reasons students from poor families dropped out from SUCs.

“This has to change to ensure a decent graduation rate from SUC enrolees,” she said, adding that the “rigid tuition fee payment rules cannot be allowed to sabotage the great educational agenda of the administration. The President said the benefit of the SAFE should receive the fullest endowment.

“The most inspiring stories of the Filipinos as a people are the great story of meritocracy; and driving, fueling and enabling those great success stories is one constant — education,” she added. It’s the policy of the State to protect, foster and promote the right of all citizens to affordable quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to ensure that education shall be accessible to all.

The President ordered the Commission on Higher Education to instruct all SUCs to devise a flexible socially-sensitive tuition fee payment plan and reform the current non-payment, no periodic examination policy. She also directed the administrators of the Students’ Assistance Fund for Education to expand the coverage of the program. – PNA

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Crising Storm in the Philippines

A new storm has developed near Bicol region which may cause widespread rains in eastern and southern Luzon provinces as Crising tracks westwardly, away from the country.

As of 2 p.m., Tropical Depression ‘Dante’, which was spotted as a low pressure area Thursday has developed into a storm and was last spotted 80 kms east of Legazpi with maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph). It is forecast to remain almost stationary, latest bulletin issued by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

Signal number 1 is already hoisted over Camarines Norte Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate, Burias Island, Southern Quezon and Northern Samar .

“Bicol region, Romblon, Marinduque, Northern Samar and Southern Quezon will experience rains and gusty winds which may trigger flashfloods and landslides,” it added.

The rest of southern luzon, western visayas and western mindanao will have occasional rains, it said.

Dante is seen to be 100 kms East of Legaspi City Saturday afternoon, 80 kms East of Legaspi City or 60 kms North of Catarman by Sunday afternoon and 50 kms East of Legaspi City by Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile Crising was spotted 420 kms west southwest of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro with maximum sustained winds of 55 kph. It is forecast to move westward at 7 kph.

The NDCC reported flooding in 10 barangays in Lucena which led to the evacuation of 500 families brought by heavy rains caused by Crising.

Landslide and flashfloods struck some towns in Camarines Norte, Masbate and Catanduanes, but some roads have been cleared of debris and are now passable.

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Dagupan Bangus Festival

By Leonardo V. Micua, PNA

Humans flowed like a running stream along Jose R. de Venecia Expressway Extension on Thursday night when Dagupan City held a mammoth Bangusan Street Party, the penultimate event in the Dagupan Bangus Festival.

People, estimated to number 700,000 to one million trooped to the highway where they held a night party that lasted up to the wee hours of the morning Friday, spiced up by an enticing fireworks display that lasted for more than an hour.

It was the biggest street party ever assembled in the seven-year-old Bangus Festival and the first one ever held along the five-kilometer new Jose R. de Venecia Expressway Extension built last year. Senator Manny Villar was the highest government official who attended the festival, which was also joined by Second District Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr., his wife Gina, Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr. and Vice Governor Marlyn Primicias-Agabas.

Together, they helped Mayor Alipio Fernandez Jr. and Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez, honorary chairman and chairman, respectively, of the very successful Dagupan Bangus Festival which started on April 15, light a few cooking grills where people cooked bangus (milkfish) that started the activity. “It was a splendid show of support of the people to a very novel project to promote Dagupan City as an important tourist destination and as a trading center of the north, said Rep. de Venecia, who called the festival a truly Dagupan phenomenon.

De Venecia said it was Dagupan’s way of honoring bangus, the number one agricultural product of the city. Seldom did provincial officials attend the Bangus Festival celebrations as Dagupan is a separate political entity from Pangasinan being a chartered city, but Governor Espino and Vice Governor Agabas attended the event to show their solidarity with the Dagupan officials.

The Pangasinan news leader “The Sunday Punch”, in its banner headline, put the crowd that attended the party at one million in its screaming banner story titled “1 M join street party” and called the same “the most attended ever”.

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