Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Exploited fishermen return home safely

KALIBO, Aklan - Four Aklanon fishermen returned home safely and reunited with their families following a 10-month ordeal aboard a Pei Sheng fishing boat.
Elizabeth Recio, Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Philippine Labor Representative based in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, said the four fishermen, who are all in good health, left Taiwan on board China Airlines on August 20.
A certain Jun Reloj of Brgy. New Buswang, this town and Ernesto Sandoval allegedly recruited Raymar Villanueva, Nadie Fuerte, Rodel Toriano and Sammy Tabag to work in fishing boats in Taiwan.
They left the country on October 12, 2005, but their working papers were confiscated by their recruitment agency, Haisheng Human Resources Corporation Ltd.
Last August 16, Recio said they were planning to bring the four back to Taiwan, and then fly them to the Philippines after a certain Mr. Chen, manager of Pei Sheng Fishery Company, was directed to terminate their contracts on alleged unpaid salaries for 10 months, and physical maltreatment.
For his part, Aklan Cong. Florencio Miraflores also worked for securing the repatriation of the four fishermen from the custody of the Taiwan fishing company. The fishers’ families from Lezo, Aklan sought his assistance.
"We thank and are very grateful to Cong. Miraflores for facilitating our release. The boat captain made us to work under bad conditions 15 hours daily. The drinking water is rusty and the food offered to crew members were not enough for us," Toriano said upon his return.
He said their condition was in stark contrast to the special treatment the Taiwan fishermen enjoyed in the hands of the boat captain.
Toriano said a number of South Africans aboard their vessel in a fishing expedition to Argentina also suffered maltreatment in the hands of the Taiwanese ship captain.
"Even if we came home empty-handed, at least we are alive,"” Toriano added.
Eco-tourism video launching wows Aklan LGUs, NGOs

KALIBO, Aklan –- The Viva Aklan Eco-Tourism video documentary was launched recently at the CAP Conference Building, along with the presentation of the Small and Medium Development (SMED) workshop output.
The video showcases Mayor Raymar Rebaldo's innovative brainchild, Manggad it Kalibo (Wealth of Kalibo) featuring the multi-awarded Bakhawan Eco-Park, Ati-Atihan Village and Pina Village.
It also features Mayor Jed Tirol's conceptual Bugna it Tangalan (Blessing of Tangalan) featuring the Jawili Falls and the Campo Verde and the Marine Sanctuary.
The launching was led by CIDA-Pearl 2 in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Aklan, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Aklan SMED Council.
The video documentary demonstrates how the eco-tourism ventures were created particularly the Manggad it Kalibo. It is rare to find a highly urbanized capital town that has its own eco-tourism destination.
Trade Regional Director Dominic Abad led the signing of the covenant of commitment for proponents promising to fully support the Provincial SMED Council, and recognizing Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) as an important engine of growth to alleviate poverty and provide alternate jobs.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Guv rallies Aklanons to help displaced Guimaras families

KALIBO, Aklan – Gov. Carlito Marquez is rallying his provincemates to help Guimaras residents affected by oil spill.
"We are urging our fellow Aklanons to support our call for relief goods and assistance for fishermen and residents directly affected by the oil spill," Marquez appealed to Aklanons.

He said, "there is a need to organize relief assistance – old clothes, canned goods, rice – to the residents.” The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) is the “drop off center" of the donations.
Marquez also coordinated with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan through Vice Gov. Ronquillo Tolentino to allocate financial assistance to the displaced families in Guimaras.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited Nueva Valencia, Guimaras last Saturday and ordered the Department of Justice to investigate the sinking of the 998-ton ill-fated M/T Solar I off the coast of Guimaras on August 11; it had two million liters of bunker oil.
Arroyo also demanded that oil refiner Petron Corp., that chartered the tanker, and tanker owner Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation for the immediate and massive clean-up of the oil spill.
The spill is affecting the livelihood of fishermen, killing mangroves and destroying marine reserves.
"The oil spill is a big and serious problem, but it is very remote for the oil spill to affect the beaches of Boracay Island," Marquez pointed out, adding, the governors agreed during the Regional Development Council (RDC) 6 meeting last August 18 in Iloilo City to prioritize hydropower and coal instead of bunker oil in power generation projects because of the widespread effect of the oil spill in Panay Island.

Fil-Am nabbed for wife’s death in US

KALIBO, Aklan – A Filipino-American wanted for his wife’s death in 1992 in the United States was arrested by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Kalibo Philippine National Police (PNP) at his house in Brgy. Tigayon here.Acting police provincial director Supt. William Macavinta identified the suspect as Abelardo “Larry” Tasa, 59.
Tasa faces a charge for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder before the Superior Court of California.
Tasa is presently a professor in a college here. His wife, Rebecca, a nurse, was killed in January 22, 1992.
Two former employees of the Tasas were already convicted for Rebecca’s death.
Timothy Shawn Victor and Jose Daniel Flores once worked with the Tasas’ Taco Time restaurant in Grossmont Center Mall, La Mesa, California.
Rebecca was killed during a burglary in their residence at 11507 Green Lane, Lakeside, California.
Investigators believed that Rebecca’s death had something to do with insurance.
“The suspect (Tasa) bought insurance policies for Rebecca worth $300,000 a month before the murder,” Macavinta said.
Tasa now faces extradition proceedings so he could face the charges in the US, added Macavinta.
Tasa returned to the Philippines on September 1992. He settled in Brgy. Tigayon here with his adopted daughter.
On December 23, 1997, Tasa’s two former employees were issued warrants of arrest for murder, burglary and conspiracy to murder. Victor was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment without parole while Flores was sentenced to 26 years to life imprisonment.
On July 27, 2006, a warrant of arrest was issued by a Manila Regional Trial Court against Tasa.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Boracay needs tourism enhancement, says Gabor

Boracay Island -– Former tourism secretary Mina Gabor is pushing for the enhancement of tourism services to attract more tourists and establish the resort island as a premier tourism hub.
"To enhance the long-term competitiveness of Boracay Island, we need to improve the service quality of the tourism industry constantly to meet the needs of our visitors and encouraged them to visit and stimulate their spending in the island," she said.
Gabor cited the tourism arrivals in 2005 as an exceptional start for the island’s tourism, which registered a record-breaking 499,452 tourists, mostly local visitors. Tourism receipts also posted P3.8-billion last year largely on huge tourist arrivals of Asian and European visitors, particularly Korean tourists.
"Boracay Island has all the infrastructure – airports in Kalibo and Caticlan, pristine white beaches, world-class resorts and hotels, fine dining, but the stakeholders should also harness their tourism services and resources for sustainable development,"”she said.
The putting up of environmental enhancement and promotion of the island by resort owners and residents is needed for long-term business and environmental viability. Boracay’s tourism industry and the provincial government should also find practical and cost-effective systems for environmental protection to achieve sustainable tourism benefits, she added.
“"It is crucial to reinforce the tourism promotion to extend their stay and travel and increase visitor’s spending while in the island. The hotels and establishments should develop and package tourism services so as to enhance the island's appeal as premier tourist destination,"” Gabor told reporters.
Oil spill menace
Health exec awaits laboratory tests

Iloilo City -– Health Secretary Francisco Duque is still awaiting the laboratory tests of possible illnesses caused by oil spill contamination on residents of Guimaras Island and nearby towns.
This he stressed following his visit last Thursday to personally assess the conditions of affected residents exposed to the oil.
"It appears those involved in the clean up operations are protected by specialized cloth, gloves and boots, though, we are constantly monitoring respiratory tract illnesses, coughing, skin irritation, asthma and stomach pains which could directly caused by oil spill,"” he said.
The ill-fated 998-ton M/T Solar I owned by Sunshine Maritime Development Corp. sank off the coast of Guimaras Island last August 11 with two million liters of bunker oil. Only 50,000 galloons of oil have leaked into the sea affecting the beaches, mangroves and livelihood of hundreds of fishermen.
The tanker chartered by oil refiner Petron Corp. also affects more than 20 fishing villages of Guimaras Island. One fisherman died while four were hospitalized due to oil spill contamination, reports said.
“"We are awaiting for the laboratory tests on Monday if these health conditions are linked with oil spill,"” Duque said, adding, his department initially shouldered the deployment of medical teams and doctors in the area.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has declared the worst oil spill in the history a national calamity and called on the Petron Corp. and the ship owner to immediately clean up the oil spill. /PN

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Aklan emigrants top 2,000

KALIBO, Aklan -- The province of Aklan currently has around 2,000 emigrants found in different parts of the world as spouses of foreigners or permanent residents.
Minda Cabilao-Valencia, Director of Migrant Integration and Education Office of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), said the 2,000 Aklanons are part of the three percent of Western Visayas’ total number of emigrants.
Valencia said the total number of registered Filipino emigrants as of 2005 is 69,000. She made the revelation at a press briefing held recently at the Philippine Information Agency office with the local media.
The CFO was here as part of its Community Education Program (CEP) held yearly in various parts of the country. CFO specifically caters to the needs of Filipinos who decide to permanently reside abroad, while the Department of Foreign Affairs and the OWWA take care of the needs of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
Owing to the presence of Boracay Island where many Filipino women meet foreigners for possible marriage, two of the three CEPs conducted in Western Visayas this year were held in Aklan – one in Kalibo, the capital town, and the other one in Caticlan, Malay, the jump-off point to Boracay.
The other CEP was held in Roxas City, Capiz.
One of CFO’s functions in serving Filipino emigrants is the conduct of the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar to inform them of the different cultures and ways of the people in the countries where they have chosen to live permanently.
The CFO also offers Guidance and Counseling. As of 2005, Valencia said they have served some 21,000 counselees. Daily, they serve about 83 persons. Valencia warned those planning to work abroad never to accept tourist or visitors’ visa.
She also advised those planning to migrate to apply directly at embassies to avoid paying unnecessary and exorbitant fees to unscrupulous persons.

Solon wants 3 municipalities declared an eco-tourism zone

MALAY, Aklan – The municipalities of Nabas, Malay and Buruanga are being eyed as an eco-tourism zone.
The declaration would give more opportunities for development coupled with the protection of the towns’ rich natural resources, said Cong. Florencio Miraflores, who filed House Bill No. 3300 seeking the declaration.
“The proposal, which is pending with the Committee on Tourism, will not only attract local and foreign tourists to Aklan and boost the local economy, but will also protect the natural resources of the municipalities,” he explained.
Miraflores, vice chairman of the Committee on Tourism, said the environmental attributes of the three towns show its potential as one of Aklan’s most progressive areas.
Malay, for instance, is home to pristine white sand beaches of Boracay Island, Pangihan cave, Bonbongan beach in Nabaoy and Tuhaw Hills.
Nabas, where the last remaining intact lowland rainforest is found, offers the enchanted Tulingon cave, the natural cool water mountain springs of Basang and Hurom-Hurom, and mats and hats made from baliw (Pandan) leaves which are known world-wide.
Buruanga, meanwhile, is the farthest town from any other point in the island of Panay and situated at the northwestern-most tip of Aklan. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo earlier declared as natural park the Northwest Panay Peninsula situated in the municipalities of Malay, Nabas, Buruanga in Aklan and the towns of Pandan and Libertad in Antique with an area of 12,009 hectares.
Once enacted into law, the eco-tourism zone envisioned to be Aklan’s showcase similar to other developing Asian and European countries is expected to complement ongoing tourism efforts of the provincial government under Gov. Carlito Marquez.
Eco-tourism is being promoted by the government because of its dollar-earning potential.
Miraflores said, “the venture would not only benefit the ecotourism zone but will also give opportunity for the residents and the local government units once this brand of tourism will boom.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Guv asks court to resolve ‘one entry, one exit’ issue

BORACAY -– Aklan Gov. Carlito Marquez said he will be asking the regional trial court in Aklan to come out fast with a decision on the provincial ordinance mandating the one entry, one exit scheme for this island.
“"The scheme aims to reinforce the security in Boracay,"” the governor stressed over DYRG Budyong following intelligence reports of terrorist attack plans in tourist destinations in the country.
Malay Mayor Ceciron Cawaling questioned the legality of the ordinance, saying it usurped the functions and powers of the local government of Malay under the Local Government Code of 1991.
Last April, the one entry, one entry scheme was temporarily suspended and instead, a multiple entry, one exit was adopted by the local government of Malay; incoming passengers pass the Caticlan jetty port and can disembark in three designated boat stations in the White Beach.
A police intelligence report had it that the Southeast Asia-based Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organization will launch a series of attacks after suicide bombers slipped into the country. The terrorist group carried out the October 12, 2002 Bali blasts that killed 202 people.
Planned suicide bombings in popular tourist destinations in the country were uncovered by the police. The regional militant network Jemaah Islamiyah would carry out the attack with the help of the Abu Sayyaf.
For his part, Cong. Florencio Miraflores said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Coast Guard should coordinate and map out plans to secure the island, being the top destination for foreign and local tourists.
"There should be intensified security measures in the island to guarantee the tourists’ safety,"” Miraflores said over DYRU Super Radyo Kalibo.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Aklan Media Forum to join PAPI Mindanao summit

Kalibo, Aklan – A newly-formed media group in the province is expected to send delegates to the Cotabato Media Summit on August 26-27, this year.
This was confirmed by Aklan Media Forum (AMF) after the Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc. (PAPI) officially invited their members last week to the three-day media summit.
AMF, composed of veteran print journalists and radio broadcasters, was organized to foster within the Aklan media a greater sense of responsibility and strengthen its integrity and reputation in the community, stressed Rolly Herrera of DyRG Budyong ng Kalibo.
“We are reaching out to journalism groups representing minorities to join AMF. This would provide a venue for the exchange of ideas and opinions among professionals in various news organizations in the province,” said Arnel Relampago of Kalibo Cable Television Network
The seminar -- part of the three-day North Cotabato Media Summit scheduled in Kidapawan City, August 26 -- is designed to equip practicing journalists and school campus writers skills and full understanding of ethical and responsible reporting in the wake of the unmitigated killings of journalists, particularly those in the countryside.
The summit conceived by PAPI with the support of the Community Press Institute and the host province of Cotabato would gather media delegates in the community to discuss latest trends in print journalism and issues affecting the media organizations.
An exclusive seminar on Strategic Communications Management & Public Relations for information officers and public affairs executives will be conducted by veteran public relations practitioners and communicators as resource speakers.
Bannered by the theme “Showcase of Hope, Freedom and Progress”, the conferment the Good Governance Award to Cotabato Governor Manny Piñol, Strategic Communications Management and Seminar-Workshop and journalism seminar on libel, news writing, editorial and column writing and ethics will highlight the media summit.
“ Really, there exists a growing need to sharpen our skills and enhance our professionalism by strictly adhering to the journalistic code of ethics.” Dayang said.Dayang, a native of Aklan, also thanked Governor Pinol, a seasoned journalist, for his support to PAPI and the media organizations. He added the media summit is part of PAPI’s 32nd year of advocacy and leadership in the community press.

“Building on the Foundations” – Miraflores

KALIBO, Aklan –- Cong. Florencio Miraflores has devoted his first year in the Congress to establish and strengthen ties and linkages with national government officials to advance the development agenda of the province.
Miraflores, vice chairman of the Tourism Sub-Committee on Development and a member of the Committee on Appropriations, admitted that “much has to be done for Aklan and to build the foundations, it needs the shared effort of every Aklanons for a better, more peaceful and progressive province.”
"I purposely became a member of the Committee on Appropriations to know the frontline agencies, budget and personally lobby with their department heads for Aklan’s development needs. Our efforts - in getting the projects and programs including airport development and national roads improvement - are bearing fruits,"” he said.
Recognizing the tourism thrusts of the province, Miraflores represented the House of Representatives in the ‘Internationale Tourismos Borse,” an international tourism fair in Berlin, Germany and International Tourism Mission in Moscow, Russia along with Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano and Tourism Planning and Promotions Assistant Secretary Eduardo Jarque, Jr. last March.
He said a bilateral agreement on tourism was signed by Durano and Russian counterpart Vladimir Strzhalkovsky to strengthen the tourism cooperation between the country and Russia on areas of tourism investments and services, national legislation and promotion of organized group and individual tourism Miraflores also lobbied with education officials for additional classrooms and teacher-items and established linkage with the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) and the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST)-SEI to include public schools in priority programs on info-technology.
“"I have supported the scholarships of some of our less privileged young people whose families could hardly support them through college –- a big number of them are enrolled in Aklan State University,”" the solon stressed.
Miraflores also said House Bill No. 5130 on the establishment of the Timbaban Hydropower Development Project within the Aklan River Watershed Forest Reserve in Brgy. Maria Cristina in the town of Madalag was approved by the Committee on Natural Resources and is now slated for second reading.
“"With the renewed national interest on bio-fuels and renewable energy resources, I believe we are getting closer to our collective dream of energy-sufficiency not only for Aklan but also for our neighboring provinces in Panay Island,"” he added.
He also revealed that Aklanons abroad are helping the province as tourism ambassadors during his visits to Aklanon communities in the United States, particularly in the Aklan Eastern USA Association and the Ibajaynons, USA.
"We have a shared vision -– a peaceful and progressive province of Aklan – and to achieve this vision it requires a collective endeavor from us,"” Miraflores pointed out.

CARABAO PRESERVATION Aklan recipients laud distribution of imported bulls


KALIBO, Aklan -– To establish carabao-based enterprises and its genetic improvement, the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) has implemented the Cara Bull Loan Program in the province in support of the artificial insemination program. According to Agriculturist II/Coordinator Thamar Restar, fifteen (15) heads of island pure breed American Murrah Buffalo from PCC Stock Farm in Ubay, Bohol were distributed to recipients at the Bagsakan Center in Brgy. Libas, Banga, Aklan recently. "These bulls range from 18 months to two years old and are expected to breed in one year under the five-year Cara Bull Loan Program,"” Restar stressed, adding, the cara bulls distributed to recipients could produce 1,200 F1 calves for meat purposes by 2011. The program started in 2004 after Aklan Rep. Florencio Miraflores coordinated with PCC Muñoz, Nueva Ecija for the province to become one of the recipients of the program on carabao upgrading. The distribution of imported Murrah bulls was witnessed by Banga Mayor Jeremy Fuentes and Provincial Administrator Diego Luces to recipients from the towns of Altavas, Balete, Batan, Banga, Libacao, Madalag, Malinao, Makato, Tangalan, Ibajay, Nabas and the Provincial Livestock Farm in Makato, Aklan. PCC is an agency connected with the Department of Agriculture by virtue of RA 7370, otherwise known as the Philippine Carabao Act of 1992, authored by then Sen. Joseph Estrada. It became operational in 1993 with at least 13 carabao centers throughout the country. The project, which aims to ensure higher income and better nutrition and technology development and dissemination, is a joint undertaking of the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian, the Congressional District Office of Aklan, PCC West Visayan State University (WVSU) Lapaz, Iloilo City and the local government units in the province.

DPWH to bid out P20M infras

KALIBO, Aklan – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is set to bid out P20-million worth of infrastructure projects funded under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Cong. Florencio Miraflores.
The 28 infrastructure projects include the construction and/or repair of barangay roads, multi-purposes buildings, farm-to-market roads, asphalt overlay, box culvert and repair of a municipal district hospital.
In his letter dated March 6, 2006 to Albay Cong. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Miraflores submitted the proposed infrastructure projects for funding chargeable to his PDAF for 2005.
“The projects are now set for bidding at DPWH. The total amount of P20 million under Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) A-06-01972 dated April 6, 2006 is chargeable against the 2005 budget (RA 9336) continuing appropriation,” chief of staff Efren Trinidad said.
Of this amount, P.950 million is earmarked for the repair of Ibajay District Hospital and P5.5 million for the repair and construction of various multi-purpose buildings in the province.
Among the vital roads and bridges are the P2-million Habana-Bugnay Road in Buruanga, Aklan; P500,000 Caano-Nalook provincial road in Kalibo; P500,000 farm-to-market roads of Brgy. Gubang, Magubay, Guadalupe and Pampango in Libacao, Aklan; P800,000 repair of barangay roads of Brgys. Aquino and Ondoy in Ibajay, Aklan and P2.1-million repair of farm-to-market roads of Brgys. Guinbaliwan, Polo, Mataphao, Mabilo and Jalas, New Washington, Aklan.
Miraflores also cited the need to encourage more infrastructure projects to spur economic development, lure investments and improve the lives of the Aklanons in the barangays.
In Kalibo, the solon allocated P350,000 for the concreting of barangay road in Greenfield New Buswang; P1-million asphalt overlay in Brgy. Poblacion and P4-million repair of Kalibo-New Washington Road, Kalibo-Numancia Road, M. Laserna, C. Laserna, Roxas Avenue Extension and Mabini, all major streets in the capital town.
Miraflores also provided funds for the construction of P500,000 multi-purpose building of Brgy. Linabuan Norte, Kalibo, Aklan; P1 million for the repair of multi-purpose building in Brgy. Poblacion, Tangalan, Aklan; P800,000 construction of roofing of multi-purpose building of Brgys. Sibalew and Daja Sur in Banga, Aklan and P1-million repair of multi-purpose building in Brgy. Poblacion, Batan, Aklan.

Rebaldo eyes Civil Service national award

KALIBO, Aklan –- Mayor Raymar Rebaldo was selected as the first Aklanon semi-finalist to the prestigious 2006 Search for Outstanding Public Officials and Employees (Pagasa Award) by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for his exemplary behavior and outstanding public service.
The search is by virtue of Republic Act No. 6713, Administrative Code of 1987, and Executive Order No. 508, s. 1992, as amended by Executive Order No. 77, s. 1993.
Rebaldo, in his stint as town mayor, has dedicated himself in implementing programs aimed at restoring the pride and valor of Kalibo. With his leadership, the Ati-Atihan town of Kalibo – a first-class municipality - is definitely on the right track towards further development and progress.
He is married to former Alita Madula Marte with whom he has three grown up children. The town’s chief executive has also served the barangay Poblacion of Kalibo. As barangay captain, he was awarded as Outstanding Barangay Captain in the Philippines in 1997 and 1998.
The barangay Poblacion was also named as one of the Most Outstanding Barangays of the Philippines in 1999. After serving as barangay captain of Poblacion Kalibo, Rebaldo pursued his career in public service.
At present, he is a two-termer and the youngest elected mayor of Kalibo at 38. Kalibo was also cited as the Child Friendly Municipality and awarded the prestigious Nutrition Award and the coveted CROWN (Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition) Award.
Last Wednesday, an evaluation team from CSC Region 7 arrived here to evaluate the performance of Rebaldo in local governance and his commitment to public interest, responsiveness to the public, nationalism and patriotism, professionalism, justness and sincerity, political neutrality, commitment to democracy, and simple living.
Three prestigious awards are at stake: the Lingkod Bayan Award, Dangal ng Bayan and the Pagasa Awards. The Lingkod Bayan Awardee shall receive a gold medal and a plaque containing the citation and signature of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The Dangal ng Bayan Awardee shall receive a trophy designed and executed by National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon V. Abueva. Both awards carry a cash prize of P100, 000.00, an automatic promotion or an increase in salary equivalent to the salary of the next higher position.
The Pagasa Awardees shall each receive a gold (gilded) medallion, a plaque with a citation and signature of the Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission, and P50, 000.00.
The awarding rites will be held in September to coincide with the 106th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Civil Service in Manila.

Bora cops welcome Calderon’s
appointment as new PNP chief

BORACAY – The Boracay Special Tourist Protection Office (BSTPO) welcomed the appointment of Gen. Oscar Calderon as director of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Calderon, a native of Nueva Ecija, replaced Gen. Arturo Lomibao who was instrumental in the construction of P10-million world-class police station in this resort island, and the deployment of some 100 tourist-trained policemen to ensure the safety of tourists and residents here.
"Calderon is a competent officer and he deserves the post,"” said BSTPO Chief Insp. Jess Mendez.
He expects Calderon to continue the transformation of PNP for the better.During his stint as PNP Director, Lomibao personally visited Boracay to ensure the security of tourists through regular consultations and dialogues with non-government organizations and local officials.
He was also credited for the smooth security preparations of the PNP for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) delegates on April 2005 and the visits of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the island.
Calderon, who will retire on October 1, 2007, is the former chief directorial staff of the PNP and Central Luzon PNP regional commander from 2002 to 2003, where he was awarded in 2002 as the nation's "Most Outstanding PNP Regional Commander of the Year."
A member of Philippine Military Academy Class '73, Calderon spent 10 years fighting insurgents and secessionist rebels as company commandeer in Maguindanao, and headed the Presidential Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (PACER).

Kalibo traffic unit warns out of line tricycles

KALIBO, Aklan - The Transport and Traffic Management Unit (TTMU) has clarified that no directive was issued to allow tricycle drivers and operators from other towns to enter the major streets of Kalibo except during emergencies.
TTMU head Mary Gay Quimpo said, allowing tricycles from nearby towns of New Washington and Banga to enter the town of Kalibo would violate the “out of line” provision specified in Municipal Ordinance No. 2005-044.
“"So far, we are still in the process of evaluating with the TTMU and the Office of the Mayor the petition of tricycle groups from New Washington and Banga that would permit them to utilize the parking terminal in San Lorenzo Road in Kalibo,"” Quimpo stressed.
She said, the Kalibo PNP has been directed to check the entry of tricycles from other towns and apprehend them for “out of line” violations. Any violator caught will be fined P1, 000 as provided by the municipal ordinance if he enters the town of Kalibo to load or unload passengers.
“"Only during emergencies or the transport of perishable goods and agricultural crops does the TTMU allow the entry of tricycles from these towns,"” Quimpo pointed out.
TTMU was created to address more efficiently and effectively the traffic problems here, and to enforce a better system of traffic control and management under the Office of the Mayor.
It is also the sole management unit tasked to enforce traffic management plans and programs through the Traffic Engineering headed by Engr. Amalia Francisco, Traffic Enforcement by SPO1 Rueul Matorres and the Facilities Management section by Noel de la Cruz.
Earlier, tricycle groups from Andagao, Nalook, Pook, Briones and Mabilo decried the re-routing scheme. They said it lessened their number of passengers, thereby lowering their earnings, but, Quimpo said the traffic ordinance would help to decongest the heavy volume of traffic inside Brgy. Poblacion.
The re-routing scheme applies to all tricycles in Route 1 (Linabuan Norte, Tigayon, Estancia, Tinigao, Mobo), Route 2 (New Buswang, Old Buswang, Bakhaw Norte and Bakhaw Sur), Route 3 (Mabilo, Briones, Nalook, Caano, Pook, Andagao) and Route 4 (Poblacion).
The rerouting "dry run" of tricycles was implemented on May 1, however, this was temporarily shelved after commuters and tricycle drivers were disgusted of the limited access of tricycles to municipal roads situated within Brgy. Poblacion.
Relocated vendors appeal to Rebaldo

KALIBO, Aklan –- Though this is a last ditch appeal to Mayor Raymar Rebaldo, the itinerant vendors are asking the local government of Kalibo to allow them to sell their goods along Toting Reyes Street despite the junking of their preliminary mandatory injunction by a Regional Trial Court.
Rose Rentillo, president of the Ambulant Vendors Association, insisted that they are legitimate ambulant vendors who paid the necessary permits for the year 2005. She said they are hoping Rebaldo would finally grant their appeal to contribute in the “eco-tourism thrusts” of the local government.
“"The battle is over, but if Mayor Rebaldo grants our appeal to utilize the portion of Toting Reyes Street as vending area, the ambulant vendors could put in and contribute in the eco-tourism programs of this town,"” said Rentillo over DyRU Super Radyo Kalibo.
The court stressed that the granting of the writ of preliminary injunction cannot be justified since the ambulant vendors have not proven that they have the clear and unmistakable right to occupy a portion of Toting Reyes Street fronting the Kalibo Public Market
Judge Niovady Marin, in his three-page order dated June 16, 2006, said “there is no dispute that the portion of Toting Reyes Street that the ambulant vendors wanted to occupy to sell their wares during market days is a property of public dominion intended for public use; as such, they have no right to appropriate the same for their personal use during market days.”
"It also appears, from the evidence presented, that the ambulant vendors have not paid the necessary business and Mayor’s Permit fees for the current year. Some business or Mayor’s Permit fees that were presented related to the previous years and have already expired,"” said Marin.
The Sangguniang Bayan of Kalibo stood firm to transfer the venue of the “bolantehan” from Toting Reyes Street to Oyo Torong Street by virtue of an approved Resolution No. 2001-21 dated August 21, 2001 urging Mayor Raymar Rebaldo to relocate the ambulant vendors, all members of Ambulant Vendors Association along Toting Reyes Street during Wednesdays and Sundays to any viable area here.
The itinerant vendors contented that Resolution No. 2001-21 has no legal basis since it was repealed, amended and modified by Municipal Ordinance No. 2002-057 dated October 17, 2002 which prohibits the display of goods, merchandise and posting of movable billboards, commercial signs and signposts along public areas except Market Days, Wednesdays and Sundays at the Kalibo Market
The court, however, explained that Municipal Ordinance No. 2002-057 merely allows them to occupy the sidewalks and road shoulders during market days and not the whole portion of Toting Reyes Street.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

5 Aklan towns gambling hotspots

KALIBO, Aklan – Acting provincial police director Supt. Remus Canieso confirmed the proliferation of illegal gambling activities in five towns.
The five municipalities are Kalibo, Numancia, Libacao, Ibajay and Malay, Canieso said.Apparently, the gambling financiers continue violating the laws despite the massive campaign of the local police.
Canieso described the illegal gambling operations in these towns as “hit and run” – the gambling operators would stop when there are police operations and would resume their illegal activities when the cops are gone.
Canieso assured the public that “the police are closely monitoring their guerilla-type operations.”
Canieso and the chiefs of police of the towns were invited by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Aklan last Wednesday. The Provincial Board assessed the police’s anti-illegal gambling performance.
Canieso’s admission came in the heels of the strong opposition of the legislative body to the proposed operation of the Small-Town Lottery (STL) in Capiz.
SP Members Plaridel Morania and Ramon Gelito said they were worried.
Canieso described the illegal gambling operations in the towns as “organized” and “full-blown.”
“We remind the chiefs of police of their duty to stamp out illegal gambling activities in their jurisdictions by conducting aggressive operations,” he stressed.

‘Super regions’ good for tourism

BORACAY – This island-resort will benefit immensely from the national government’s plan to create “super regions,” said Aklan Vice Gov. Ronquillo Tolentino.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants to develop central Philippines into a booming tourism and investment hub, with the major tourism destinations of Boracay, Cebu, Iloilo and Bohol as part of the “four super-regions.”
“Aklan would have a role in agriculture and tourism. The mega zones shall concentrate on regional areas of investments,” Tolentino stressed.
The super regions are Central Philippines (Regions 4-B, 5, 6, 7 and 8); Mindanao (Regions 9, 10, 11, 12, Caraga and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao); Metro Manila (Regions 3, 4-A and the National Capital Region) and North Luzon (Regions 1, 2, Cordillera Autonomous Region, Aurora and Nueva Ecija).
According to Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, “the super regions would give the citizenry a preview of how it is to live under a regime of political equity and a prelude to the eventual decentralization of political power under the aegis of Charter reform.”
Tolentino said the plan to create “super regions” would push upward economic growth and tourism opportunities especially in Boracay Island, which the national government wants to be at par with the world’s best resorts such as Bali in Indonesia and Pukhet in Thailand.
“The regions to be set up would attract more domestic and foreign investors and ensure implementation support for tourism projects in Central Philippines,” the vice governor added.

Rebaldo again denies getting kickback; mulls suing accuser

KALIBO, Aklan – For the nth time, Mayor Raymar Rebaldo denied that he received commission in the distribution of fertilizer funds in 2004.
He called this allegation of Jose Barredo Jr. as “flawed and baseless.”
Barredo implicated the mayor in the so-called P728-million fertilizer fund scam under the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program, an agricultural project of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“This allegation is affecting the integrity of my family. We are seriously considering the filing of appropriate charges against him after the Office of the Ombudsman ends its investigation,” he said.
There is a renewed interest in the scam that erupted last year yet after former Agriculture Secretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante, the suspected architect of the scam, was nabbed by US immigration authorities at the Los Angeles International Airport on July 7, 2006 for using an expired tourist visa.
The mayor said supporters and friends were using his residence as his campaign headquarters at the time Barredo claimed he met him and discussed the fertilizer project.
“It would be impossible to conduct clandestine meetings there since the campaign headquarters is frequented and filled with people night and day. His (Barredo) allegation is a clear and blatant form of character assassination. I vehemently deny I met him a day before the 2004 elections,” Rebaldo said.
Barredo, a native of Brgy. Hanglid, President Roxas, Capiz, also claimed that Rebaldo disagreed with the initial offer of P600,000 in commission and demanded more “kickbacks” a day before the 2004 local elections.
Earlier, Rebaldo admitted that in 2004 he entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Agriculture (DA) where 2,000 liters of liquid fertilizers were turned over without any price tags. This, he said, were witnessed by DA and local officials of Kalibo.
Rebaldo said DA turned down his earlier proposal for farm-to-market roads in the barangays and instead DA responded with the GMA agricultural program.
The P3-million fund intended for Kalibo was shelled out in the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on February 3, 2004 to former Agriculture Secretary Luisito Lorenzo.
Rebaldo also denied receiving any financial assistance from DA as evidenced by the official letter sent by the Municipal Accountant to the Commission on Audit (COA).
Barredo said the fertilizers came from Feshan Philippines, authorized supplier of the fertilizer which were normally priced between P180 and P350 a liter but was purchased at P1,500.

Aklan’s tourism boosted with China visit

KALIBO, Aklan – The promotion of Aklan’s tourist spots to the growing Chinese tourist market was the highlight of the one-week exchange visit to the People’s Republic of China.
“The long term friendship, friendly exchanges for mutual benefits about culture, economy, related governmental affairs and tourism is expected to intensify with our visit in China,” said Augusto Tolentino, Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Aklan chapter chairman.
Tolentino and former vice governor Jean Rodriguez visited the city of Beijing and Shanghai in China with the 15-man Philippine delegation on July 25.
“The friendly and cooperative relations brought by this exchange visit would enhance cooperation in trade, municipal administration, arts and tourism,” he added.
The exchange visit aims to build and increase cultural, social, economic, educational, and political understanding and to foster cooperation across international and cultural boundaries.
Last year, a six-man delegation from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) of the People’s Republic of China visited the world famous resort island of Boracay on May 13 to 14, 2005.
The delegation was headed by SARFT Vice Minister Tian Jin and KBP national president Ruperto Nicdao, Jr. through the Department of Tourism and Boracay Foundation Inc.
“The China visit will further improve Boracay’s tourism industry and promote the famous Ati-Atihan festival and other tourist destinations in Aklan like Manggad it Kalibo, Hurom-Hurom Spring in Nabas, Jawili Falls in Tangalan and natural spots of Libacao,” said Tolentino, current station manager of DYRG Budyong ng Kalibo.
Cau Hua, SARFT director-general, Social Affairs Supervision Department; Cao Yin, SARFT deputy-general, Foreign Affairs Department; Jiang Heping, deputy director, overseas center; Zhang Chenxiao, SARFT deputy director, Foreign Affairs Department; and Cui Chen Chao, secretary of the Vice Minister comprised the six-man Chinese delegation.
Last July 4, 2006 Mayor Wu Sheng, Vice Mayor Wen Yung Yu and company from Sikui, Guan Dong, China also visited this town to establish friendship and cooperation.

Malay exec vows to address garbage problem

BORACAY – Mayor Ceciron Cawaling has vowed to implement the solid waste management plan with the support of local organizations and barangay officials to fully address the garbage problem in the island.
“We are determined to provide funds for the normal operations of the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) being put up in the three barangays – Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapak,” Cawaling said over the weekend at Galaxy Beach Resort.
He said it is the prime responsibility of the local government of Malay to solve the garbage disposal problem, even if established organizations composed of resorts and establishments are doing their share in the waste segregation program.
Cawaling added the influx of local and foreign tourists contribute to the growth of tourism in the island. To sustain the beauty and nature of the island environment, the stakeholders should be responsible in addressing the garbage problem.
“Our collective efforts to address these issues by the establishment of a sanitary landfills and transfer of solid wastes to the mainland will have a positive impact in the continuing growth of the island’s tourism,” the mayor added.
He said holistic plans should also be incorporated in the planning of programs and there should be the participation and collaboration of the local government and other agencies to promote and develop tourism in the island.
“In any tourism-related development, the involvement of the local and national governments, business establishments and other various stakeholders lead to responsible and ecology-friendly tourism development projects in Boracay,” Cawaling added.

‘Protect Boracay children’

BORACAY – Local officials should address the trafficking and prostitution of children in this island resort, stressed the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“The progress of the world-class tourist destination and its social impacts should be balanced through massive information and protection of children from trafficking, pornography and drugs,” stressed Undersecretary Celia Yangco.
DSWD encourages the three barangays of Boracay – Balabag, Yapak and Manoc-Manoc – to conduct data a survey and closely monitor the children in Boracay.
Some of these kids are not even natives of the island but are from nearby provinces, said Yangco.
DSWD supports the one-entry, one-exit policy of the provincial government; Yangco said this policy makes it easy for the department personnel to check the children entering and leaving Boracay.
Yangco, head of the DSWD Operations and Capacity Building Group, cautioned Aklan Gov. Carlito Marquez against the possible proliferation of child prostitution and sex tourism in the island.
"Under Republic Act 9344, DSWD has a strong role in the anti-child trafficking campaign. We have been conducting re-training of our social workers to upgrade their skills in protecting children," said Yangco.
Kalibo PNP posts 100% crime efficiency solution

KALIBO, Aklan – The Philippine National Police (PNP) declared this town “generally peaceful”, with the local police posting a 100 percent efficiency rating in solving crimes for the February 16, 2006 to July 15, 2006 period.
Index crimes – crimes committed against persons or properties such as murder, physical injuries, frustrated murder, grave threats, attempted homicide, rape, robbery, theft, violation against women and their children and unjust vexation – reached 20 cases only, said SPO3 Alfonso Manoba Jr., investigator of the Kalibo PNP.
On the other hand, non-index crimes – those committed in violation of special laws such as against estafa, carnapping, possession of deadly weapons – rose to 16 incidents, or 44 percent of the total crime volume for the same period.
“The overall crime solution efficiency (CSE) was 100 percent on 36 crime incidents due to strong community support and police network in the barangays,” Manoba stressed.
Records showed that the crime volume from June 16 to July 15, this year, posted four crime incidents from a high of 10 from February 16 to March 15. Two cases of rape, one murder and two attempted homicides, were also registered for the period.
Headed by Chief Insp. Arnold Ardiente, the Kalibo police station was declared the Most Citizen-Friendly Police Station in Western Visayas last year.
Two weeks ago, the PNP Regional Internal Affairs Services (RIAS) also hailed the performance of the Kalibo PNP’s 58-strong personnel during the Operational Readiness Site Inspection Test and Evaluation (Orsite).
For his part, Mayor Raymar Rebaldo also lauded the efforts of the local police in providing maximum police visibility, saying, “the police officers conducted constant police patrols and maintained visibility, especially at night.”
“We have organized the different sectors of the community for crime prevention, conducted information dissemination through lectures and briefings about crime prevention, continued the case-tracking of open cases, set up choke-up points and checkpoints to lessen crime,” Rebaldo said in his State of the Municipality Address (SOMA) last Friday.
To complement the campaign against lawless elements, the local government of Kalibo also fielded additional service vehicles for Kalibo PNP and implemented the Professionalization Program and Basic Training Course to 196 barangay tanods from 16 barangays.
We can accomplish more for Kalibo, says Rebaldo

KALIBO, Aklan – Mayor Raymar Rebaldo delivered his State of the Municipality Address (SOMA) before municipals officials, supporters and the media Friday afternoon at Capt. Gil Mijares Building here.
“What we have achieved for this Ati-Atihan town is immeasurably surprising. But these are just a few of what we can do for Kalibo. Our task is not yet complete.
These are just installments. Much remain to be accomplished,” the mayor said.
He vowed to promote further the Ati-Atihan Festival, the piña cloth and the Manggad it Kalibo through participations in other festivals and advertisements, focus more on health programs, improve the social welfare development program, and improve the peace and order situation to generate more investments and boost tourism.
“Our achievements should also be credited to our constituents for their unwavering support and cooperation in bringing this town at par with other cities. And to think we are still a municipality,” Rebaldo said.
The mayor is one of the semi-finalists in the Civil Service Commission’s Search for the Most Outstanding Public Officials and Employees this year.
Kalibo is a first class municipality; in 2005, it rained in an income of P93 million.
“We have elevated the standards of public service. Through leadership by example, our municipal workforce has imbibed the culture of excellence in the performance of their duties, for the benefit of or entire constituency,” Rebaldo said.
Rebaldo announced he was earmarking P2.6-million for the solid waste management program. He tasked the Municipal Solid Waste Management Board to formulate a 10-year solid management plan.
Rebaldo also touted Municipal Ordinance No. 2005-003 and the establishment of the Transport and Traffic Management Unit (TTMU) to ensure order on Kalibo’s streets.
CBIS Ati-Atihan 98.5 Hot FM Ka-Tribu Kalibo, a community-based radio station, also contributed to the information drive campaign of Rebaldo to bring developmental news and entertainment to Kalibonhons.
Some 184 beneficiaries of the Self-Employment Assistance Kaunlaran (SEA-K) program were also given P872,000 for their capital investment.
Rebaldo thanked Cong. Florencio Miraflores for his support in the establishment of the Information Technology Center where 18 computer units are being utilized for literacy training.
New Bora fire station inaugurated

BORACAY Island - Fire National Director Chief Superintendent Rogelio Asignado of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) led the inauguration of the two-storey P4-million Boracay Island Special Fire Protection Unit (BISFPU) in Brgy. Manoc-Manoc morning of July 26
Asignado was joined by Senior Supt. Eleuterio Iturriaga, BFP regional chief and Aklan Provincial Fire Marshall Chief Insp. Dennis Daymon.
The fire station, headed by Insp. Kim Celisio, boasts of 27-strong personnel, four firetrucks and three fire pumps.
The lot, situated beside the Manoc-Manoc public cemetery was donated by Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary Commodore Lenard Tirol.
Asignado, former director of the Fire National Training Institute (FNTI), was optimistic of the efforts of BFP Manila to provide additional office and fire equipments to augment the operations of the BISFPU.
"The modernization of the fire-fighting capability of the Boracay fire station could save the lives of the elderly, children and people in burning buildings and resorts," he said.
BFP, he added, vowed to step up its fire suppression and prevention, including the inspection of establishments, resorts and houses in the island to ensure the readiness and alertness of fire officials and personnel.
"We want the BFP to be effective and efficient in its performance, notwithstanding its very limited resources, gear, and equipment, with the support of the local government of Malay," Asignado stressed.
Last January 2005, fire razed the Boracay Talipapa (flea market), a popular destination for tourists for their souvenirs, groceries and beachwear. Another fire damaged the administrative building of Club Panoly Resort on July 11, 2006. The damage was estimated at P5-million.

E-Agrikultura center opens in Aklan

KALIBO, Aklan - Another landmark program which aims to improve agricultural productivity through information communications technology (ICT) was implemented in Buruanga, Aklan.
The Tag-osip-El Progreso Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries’ Multipurpose Cooperative and the BENTCH (Barangays Balusbos, El Progreso, Nazareth, Tag-osip, Cabugan and Habana) Agrarian Reform Community of Buruanga, Aklan is a recipient of the “Agricultural Growth through Information and Knowledge Networking” or e-AGRIKultura Project.
Electronic equipment included in the project are four units of computer with accessories (monitor, modem, CPU, speaker, keyboard, CD writer, floppy disk drive, and licensed software). One unit of printer, scanner, web camera, digital camera, a photocopier comes plus extra supplies.
The project was jointly implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Philippine–Australia Technical Support for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (PATSARRD) and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).
Buruanga was the first site launched on July 28, 2006 among the six centers nationwide. The project aims to establish a viable area-based enterprise in Buruanga that would raise the farmers’ household incomes. Its components include the provision of technical capability building, development of dedicated website, connectivity for internet access, establishment of e-community center designed to facilitate farmer’s access to information on latest agricultural technologies, marketing opportunities and other information which could help them explore potential business development opportunities to enhance their enterprise and farming operations.
Atty. Daniel Y. Martelino, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer II of DAR-Aklan, underscored the urgency of this project as it equalizes the playing field among marginal and upland farmers and fisherfolks from Buruanga which is situated at the northwestern tip of Aklan. It further strengthens inter-connectivity and exposes far-flung communities into the state of Information and Communication technology of this era.
DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Gerundio C. Madueño, Assistant Vice President Arnel Abanto of the Development Academy of the Philippines, Director Susana Evangelista- Leones of the DAR-Bureau of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development, from DAR Region 6 Director Alexis Arsenal, Congressman Florencio T. Miraflores, Governor Carlito S. Marquez and the community stakeholders of Buruanga led by Hon. Concepcion P. Labindao, Municipal Mayor, and Felipe Panganiban, Jr,. Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer graced the launching.

Boracay Island ‘superstar’of Central Philippines – GMA

BORACAY - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo acclaimed this island resort as the “superstar” of Central Philippines because of its strong contribution to the tourism industry and national economy.
Central Philippines is one of the “super regions” Arroyo identified. She said it has “the competitive edge in tourism, in the natural wonders and the extraordinary hospitality of its people.”
"The area sweeps across Palawan and Romblon, the Visayas and Bicol, plus the northern Mindanao islands of Camiguin, Siargao and Dapitan,"”Arroyo said during her sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress.
The super regions are North Luzon (Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Autonomous Region, Aurora and Nueva Ecija); Metro Luzon (Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Metro Manila); Central Philippines (Mimaropa, Bicol and Eastern Visayas) and Mindanao (Caraga, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula).
Arroyo has a P2-billion budget for her development projects in these regions - airports, roads, ports, railways and bridges.
The President also outlined the investment for Aklan and Romblon area with a P55-million Instrument Landing System (ILS) for the Kalibo airport designed to cater to direct flights from neighboring countries, the P3-billion private investment in San Jose, Romblon (Carabao Island) and good roads all over the island of Panay.
The funds for the upgrading of the Kalibo airport, which would be operational in October 2006, was initially promised by Arroyo during the Kalibo Señor Sto. Nino visit in January 14, 2006.
"Topbilled by Boracay, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan, Central Philippines attracts more than half of the foreign tourists to the Philippines,”" Arroyo said.
Boracay's first semester growth was propelled by strong domestic tourist arrivals of 257,294 compared to 235,311 arrivals recorded in the same period last year.
Tourist arrivals registered to 10.34 percent for the first six months this year with foreign tourists accounting for 78,553 arrivals or 13.77 percent compared to 69,047 arrivals in 2005.
Of the total tourists from January to June, the island posted 335,847 tourist arrivals or a 10.34 percent increase from the 304,358 arrivals last year, mainly from Koreans with 46,447 arrivals or 59.13 percent of the total foreign tourists, followed by the United States with 6,368 arrivals.
The East Asian markets composed of China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong posted 54,714 arrivals, accounting for 69.65 percent of the total foreign tourists.

Sandugo: prelude to a more
exciting Ati-Atihan Festival


KALIBO, Aklan –- Events Director Albert Meñez said the participation of the winning Ati tribes to the Sandugo Festival in Bohol yesterday was a prelude to the world-famous Kalibo Ati-Atihan Señor Sto. Niño Festival next year.

"We should not rest in promoting the ‘Mother of All Festivals’ slated on January 15 to 21, 2007. The tourism aspect and the media mileage of our participation to the Sandugo event in Tagbilaran, Bohol was an advantage to attract more visitors and travelers,"” he added.

The Sandugo Street Dancing last July 23, 2006 featured a “Showdown of Champions” or winning tribes from various festivals in the country: Kalibo, Aklan (Ati-atihan Festival), Mandaue City (Mantawi Festival), Bacolod City (MassKara Festival), Iloilo City (Dinagyang Festival), Tangub City (Sinanduloy Festival), Jimalalud, Negros Oriental (Hambabalud Festival) and Cebu City (Basakanon Festival).

The Sandugo Festival celebrates the signing of a treaty of friendship between the Spanish General Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Datu Sikatuna in Bohol on March of 1565.

"We should effectively bring in tourists and visitors to Aklan to maintain our position as a major tourism hub of the country. This could be done by selling the religious Ati-Atihan Festival not only nationwide but also in the international market,"” Menez stressed.

The participation of Kalibo to the Sandugo, he said, would entice both local and foreign tourists to visit Aklan next year. This early, the Kalibo Ati-Atihan Management Board (KAMB) is formulating plans to market the Ati-Atihan Festival to other regions in the country, including the award-winning Manggad it Kalibo.

More police vehicles needed in Aklan - PNP

KALIBO, Aklan – There would be additional patrol service vehicles to hasten the mobility of the local police, a top official of the Aklan Provincial Police Office (APPO) said.
Supt. William Macavinta said new 17 police vehicles allocated for the province, to include Toyota Revo and Altis, would be turned over to various police stations this year.
“The new police vehicles will further boost the morale of the police force in responding to the needs of the community. The 17 police patrol cars are intended to increase police responsiveness to crimes,” he said.
At least 354 new patrol vehicles were bought by the Philippine National Police (PNP) recently. These would be distributed to the regional offices and police stations in the province this year.
The patrol vehicles were presented during the turn over of command of incoming PNP chief, Director General Oscar Calderon.
Macavinta said the present number of police vehicles in the town of Kalibo is not enough for patrol uses.
A request for additional vehicles from New Washington town mayor Edmund Peralta was recently endorsed to the PNP higher headquarters to augment the local police’s “slightly repaired” existing patrol vehicle.
“We are in need of patrol vehicles for these police stations for an all-out campaign against criminality,” Macavinta said, adding the vehicles would be used also for the Association of South East Asian Nations summit scheduled in Cebu City in December before the PNP would distribute to recipient police stations nationwide.
The town of Kalibo, he said, definitely needs an additional patrol car for the conduct of aggressive patrol operations in time for the 2007 Kalibo Señor Sto. Niño Ati-Atihan festival.
Macavinta said the PNP is pushing for the modernization of police facilities, including equipments and service vehicles in police stations across the country.

Coop to launch ‘Mermaid’ ferry

BORACAY – The Caticlan Boracay Transport Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CBTMPC) is set to launch a modern, reliable ferry next month, a top official said.
The 50-seater fast craft, CBTMPC chairman Godofredo Sadiasa said, would augment the existing motorized pump boats; it will provide comfortable and safe travel to tourists visiting the island resort.
“The P1.5-million ‘Mermaid’ fast craft will improve the transport service,” Sadiasa declared.
The launching of the fast craft is set on September 2 to coincide with the 10th year anniversary of CBTMPC.
The cooperative and the tourism industry of Aklan, Sadiasa pointed out, stand to benefit in the promotion of reliable and efficient sea transport services.
The newly acquired ferry – which used to ply the Puerto Galera-Batangas route -- is financed by CBTMPC.
CBTMPC is the sole transport group operating in Aklan primarily in the transport of passengers going to Boracay Island and Caticlan since 1996.
To further enhance the transport business, the CBTMPC also acquired a multi-million fast craft being constructed in Brgy. Rizal, Nabas, Aklan last year.
The fast craft is seen to sustain the non-stop operations of the ferry boat services in the island.
“We are serious in improving the ferry services in the island and enhance the capability of the transport cooperative into a leading transport service provider,” Sadiasa stressed.
The new fast craft would further set the trend towards the compliance to safety standards and world-class facilities in the Caticlan jetty port where it plays a major role in the existing Pan-Philippine Highway in western seaboard, he added.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

P1.5M ferry complies with Marina’s safety standards

BORACAY – The Caticlan Boracay Transport Multi-purpose Cooperative (CBTMPC) assured passengers of its newly acquired multi-million ferry that it is complying with sea safety standards.
CBTMPC chairman Godofredo Sadiasa said the modern P1.5-million 50-seater ferry has complied with the Marina Industry Authority (MARINA) permits while previously serving the Batangas-Puerto Galera route.
“Marina regional officials inspected the ferry three days ago. If the weather cooperates, we target the test run on the last week of August,” he stressed.
Sadiasa said the launching of the “Mermaid” ferry is on September 2 to coincide with the 10th year anniversary of the transport cooperative and the opening of CBTMPC drugstore in Brgy. Caticlan.
“The cooperative met the required standards in all the motorized pump boats before these are allowed to load passengers and cargoes going to the island of Boracay,” Sadiasa said.
The acquisition of additional ferry, he pointed out, would further enhance the tourism industry of Aklan and improve transport services.
The cooperative also acquired a fast craft last year, which is being constructed in Brgy. Rizal, Nabas, Aklan to support the operations of the motorized pump boats, he added.
All-out war a desperate strategy’

KALIBO, Aklan –Militants here added their voice of dissent against the all-out war policy of the Arroyo government.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-Aklan) chairperson George Calaor said the policy is "a desperate strategy to silence the ever growing movement of people to oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo."
At least 790 political killings have been recorded under the Arroyo administration, he said.
"The all-out war policy is not a solution to the intensifying economic and political turmoil in the country,” Calaor said, and blamed Arroyo for her “militarist, barbaric and terrorist way of avoiding the crimes she committed against the Constitution and the citizenry – the Garci tapes and the fertilizer scam."
Arroyo recently ordered the release of P1 billion to fund the government’s anti insurgency drive.
She also gave the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) a 10-week deadline to hunt the killers of slain leftists and journalists.
"Her all-out war policy is her ultimate strategy to silence critics,” Calaor said.
Malay landfill gets ready for Boracay’s mounting garbage

BORACAY – The local government of Malay hopes to start shipping residual wastes from this resort island to an engineered landfill before the end of August.
Engineer IV Arnold Solano, head of the Municipal Solid Waste and Management Board, said the residual wastes collected from Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Brgy. Balabag and Manoc-Manoc would be transported by dump trucks and barges to a landfill near the boundary of the towns of Malay and Buruanga in mainland Panay.
"We are ready to transport the residual wastes when the weather cooperates. Our barges are stationed in Brgy. Manoc-Manoc,"” Solano added.
Solano claimed they conducted a “dry-run” two months ago, however, right-of-way problems and opposition of certain barangay officials contributed to the delay of the shipment to the engineered landfill in the mainland.
"We first settled the problems on the 3,500-square meter right-of way and completed the environmental requirements of the landfill before we decided to implement the shipment of the residual wastes," he said over the weekend.
Solano also stressed that the "closure of the open dumpsite in Sitio Pinaungon in Brgy. Balabag is necessary and is awaiting a multi-million grant from Japan government to rehabilitate the area to prevent the infiltration of leachate into the ground."
"It is better that the local government of Malay has opened an engineered landfill and relocate the dumpsite outside of the resort island to deal with the garbage problem," he pointed out.
The island, he said, with the support of Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) and the Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) had embarked in a multi-million-garbage segregation program to address the worsening garbage problem.
Mayor Ceciron Cawaling earlier vowed to solve the garbage problem in the island by allocating funds for the construction of MRF and supported the BCCI two-year, P4-million project called "Eco-Campaign and Material Recovery Facility (MRF) for the residents and tourism related establishments, which was partially funded by a P2-million grant under Pearl 2 or Private Enterprise Accelerated Resources Linkages of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
PDA revival welcomed

KALIBO, Aklan –- Vice Gov. Ronquillo Tolentino supports the revival of the Panay Development Authority (PDA) to spur development in the region.
"It (PDA) could give Panay, which includes Aklan and Boracay Island, investment and tourism opportunities, more jobs and economic activities,” he stressed.
The proposal to revive the Panay Development Authority was presented to Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor during the Regional Development Council (RDC) executive meeting chaired by Antique Gov. Salvacion Zaldivar-Perez in Iloilo City last August 3.
"The late President Ferdinand Marcos, if my memory serves me right, had the law archived, as this shall make the Lopezes in Iloilo province stronger. Moreover, Panay Island then opposed Marcos, with Gerry Roxas in Capiz, the Zaldivars in Antique and Lopez and Ganzon in Iloilo," the vice governor claimed.
PDA was created by virtue of Republic Act No. 3856 in 1964, but this was never implemented.
Tolentino also said that the super regions development strategy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would sustain the economic growth of Central Philippines with “superstar” Boracay Island and Panay Island, composed of Aklan, Capiz, Antique and Iloilo, as the tourism hubs of the country.
Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano also endorsed the revival of PDA.
Cops nab ex-capitol employee for ‘bouncing checks’

KALIBO, Aklan – A former ranking government employee at the Provincial Treasurer’s Office (PTO) was arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for bouncing checks.
Late Tuesday afternoon, SPO4 Reynaldo Francisco arrested Receille Beltran-Toriano, 49, of Laguinbanua West, Numancia, Aklan. Toriano was celebrating the barangay fiesta at their house, about three kilometers from this capital town.
PNP-CIDG operatives had a warrant for her arrest issued by Judge Paz Esperanza Martelino-Cortes of the Kalibo Municipal Trial Court on February 28, 2006 yet.Toriano was immediately detained at the Kalibo PNP lock-up cell. She refused to be interviewed.
The arresting operatives of the CIDG were led by Francisco, PO2 Isidro Jay Teofilo and PO1 Jose Revesencio.
Toriano, a former Local Treasury Operations Officer (LTOO) IV, was also implicated by the Commission on Audit (COA) in the P4-milllion unremitted collections to the provincial government last year.
“I was surprised that she was arrested. Toriano’s case (estafa) has nothing to do with COA’s recommendation,” said Provincial Treasurer Evan Timtiman, her former immediate superior.
He said, "it is up to the concerned government agencies to file charges against Toriano now."
Toriano reportedly went into hiding after State Auditor IV Alice Oquendo, COA’s Team Leader-Provincial Accounts, recommended to Aklan Gov. arlito Marquez last January 12, 2005 her immediate relief.
In her preliminary report, Oquendo said, the unremitted collections unrecorded in the cashbook amounted to P2,810,471.14 from August 12, 2002 to May 5, 2004. The cash and accounts of Toriano in 2004 were examined.
On January 18, 2005, Timtiman ordered the reassignment of Toriano after Marquez endorsed to him the January 12, 2005 COA’s preliminary report.
Timtiman clarified that Toriano was given the assignment “to assist and to monitor the condonation of penalties and arrearage charges for late payments on real property taxes in the municipalities as part of PTO's internal control measures.”
The “relief” was meant to refrain Toriano from receiving collections remitted by the province’s Revenue Collecting Officers.
It was gathered that some P2 million collections from May 2004 to January 2005 are still unaccounted.
The shortage represents taxes collected by the province, the bulk of which comes from real property taxes.

Guimaras oil spill sending chills to Bora stakeholders

BORACAY – The possibility that the oil spill in Guimaras may affect this island famous for its fine, white sandy beaches is a long shot, but this has not abated the fears of stakeholders here.
Boracay is off the top of Panay Island. The ill-fated oil tanker sank in the waters south of Panay and Guimaras.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) here declared readiness just in case.
Lt. Cmdr. Perigrino Balestramon, chief of PCG Caticlan, was invited by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Aklan to a regular session last Wednesday.
Though Boracay is safe, he said “there should be an inter-agency or a task force to monitor the containment of the Guimaras oil spill," Balestramon said.
The prevailing southwest monsoon could cause the oil spill to spread faster.
"Bunker oil might endanger the marine reserve and the coastal areas near Boracay Island," Balestramon added.
The 998-ton tanker Solar 1 owned by Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation sank after big waves battered it off the island of Guimaras at 4:30 p.m. Friday last week.
The tanker, bound for Zamboanga City and carrying two million liters of bunker fuel, is threatening the beaches and coral reefs of Guimaras Island and Negros Occidental.
The Coast Guard, Petron Corporation and the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) 6 are spearheading the cleanup operations.
Two sailors remain missing; 18 crew members were rescued, the Coast Guard said.
SP member Plaridel Morania pointed out, "the massive oil spill could affect the tourism industry in Panay Island and the island of Boracay if not addressed by the authorities."
"There is a possibility that the oil spill could spread reaching the island of Boracay, but, this could take two or three months," said Balestramon, who replaced Lt. Cmdr. Edgar Ybañez last June 19, 2006.
In December 2005, state-owned National Power Corp.’s (Napocor) barge spilled an estimated one million liters of bunker oil along the coastal villages of Semirara Island in the province of Antique.
The spill destroyed hectares of mangrove forests. The cleanup is expected to wrap up this September.