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Building officials inspect high-rise buildings in Oro

November 20, 2019

CAGAYAN de Oro City--Other than hairline cracks, the Office of the Building Official (OBO) did not find any structural deficiencies among the high-rise buildings that it has already inspected. The inspection will continue despite the lack of qualified personnel, said Engr. Isidro Obligado, OBO head. In a phone interview, Obligado said only 25 of the 87 personnel assigned in his department are qualified to conduct structural inspections. The inspection on all high-rise buildings, including those under construction, in the city was conducted in the wake of destructive earthquakes that struck Mindanao in the past few months. Obligado, however, said the OBO inspection team prioritizes those 911 callers who have reported cracks in their residential, office and commercial vicinities since the latest quake that struck Monday night. So far, OBO has not found any structural deficiencies in any building here in the city, including the high rises that they have inspected. "Most of these are hairline cracks sa walling. Of course, they still need to be corrected immediately but they do not affect the integrity of the whole structure at all," Obligado pointed out. He added that they are requiring these establishments to submit a certificate from a structural engineer once they have complied with the corrections. High rises that have already been inspected include Avida Aspira Tower 1, Centrio Tower, Seda Centrio, Teleperformance, Limketkai Luxe Hotel, G-Galyx, New Dawn Plus, Primavera Residences and Primavera City. All of these have passed structural integrity tests, according to Obligado. High rises calendared for inspection include CoHo's The Loop North Tower, One Oasis Cagayan de Oro, CUMC and One Providence. High rises under construction that are to be inspected include The Loop South Tower, Avida Aspira Tower 2, Mesaverte Garden Residences, ACE Medical Center, Tuscania Towers and Limketkai Cyberpark Building.

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Oro biz leaders wary over quake’s economic backlash

November 19, 2019

CAGAYAN de Oro City--The influential Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation (Oro Chamber) yesterday urged its members to be cautious about the costly economic backlash brought about by the series of earthquakes that rocked Mindanao in the past few months. In a letter dated November 15, Oro Chamber President Irene Floro has urged the chamber’s 400-strong members to inspect their respective business establishments to ensure its structural integrity. “This in order to promote public safety and security and for the furtherance of economic stability not only in Cagayan de Oro but the whole region,” read part of Floro’s letter. Floro focused her address specifically to chamber members who are operators of malls, hotels, restaurants, schools and other commercial establishments. She urged these chamber members to immediately coordinate with the Office of the Building Official (OBO) so the inspections could be executed the soonest possible time. “That is a proactive role of the Oro Chamber to its members to have their buildings assist in structural audits. We wrote Secretary Mark Villar to provide the Oro Chamber with Structural Engineers to help audit big buildings of private institutions or establishments. We even open our doors for non member companies to help them avail of the free audit from our partners,” Floro said in a separate text message. Earlier on Monday night, city administrator Teddy Sabuga-a called on the public to report structure cracks to Cagayan de Oro’s emergency “Hotline 911” so that OBO could dispatch its personnel and check on those reports. Mindanao has experienced four earthquakes in a span of two months, the latest which happened on Monday night with magnitude 5.9, the epicenter was traced in Kadingilan town in the province of Bukidnon. The quakes already caused the Court of Appeals Mindanao Station to suspend its operations at the YMCA Building due to what it dubbed as “significant” structural damages.

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NPA bomb expert, 2 minor amazons yield

November 14, 2019

CAGAYAN de Oro City--Two rebel Amazons and a male bomb expert of the outlawed New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the military camp in Buenavista, Agusan De Norte, the military said Thursday. The report reaching Camp Evangelista here, the army’s largest military camp in Northern Mindanao, identified the male combatant as a certain “Marco,” reportedly a bomb expert. The two minor amazons were identified as “Gethel” and “Cristine,” not their true names, both 17 years old. Gethel, a political guide and Cristine, medic, belonged to the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee, said Lt. Roel T. Maglalang, of the army’s 23rd IB in his report. He said that Marco, the bomb expert of the Guerilla Front 21, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee, also surrendered to the army’s 23rd IB in Buenavista. Maglalang said that Marco guided the military to an arms cache hidden by the communist rebels in the hinterlands of Sibagat, Agusan Del Sur. On checking Marco’s information, the military recovered three M14 rifles, 35-meter-electric wire, two blasting caps with detonating cord, one hand guard for M16, one pair of AR18 hand guard and one improvised anti-personnel land mine, Maglalang said. He said that Marco was recruited to join the communist insurgency movement at the age of 14, became a full-time combatant at 16 and was trained in bomb making and planting and disposing land mines. -0- Upon reaching the area, the troops recovered recovery of three (3) M14 Rifles (serviceable), thirty-five (35) meters electrical wire, two (2) Blasting caps with detonating cord, one (1) pair Handguard for M16, one (1) pair AR 18 Handguard and one (1) Improvised Anti-Personal Mine which was still planted inside CPP-NPA hideout. Alias Marco was used as a courier by the CPP-NPA as young as 14 years old. He became fulltime NPA combatant at the age of 16. He was also taught how to plant and disposed landmines.

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Public, private sectors optimistic on Cagayan de Oro-Gwangyang City sisterhood

November 14, 2019

CAGAYAN de Oro City--Both public and private sectors are optimistic the recent signing of a sisterhood agreement between Cagayan de Oro and Gwangyang City in South Korea bodes well for both parties. Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar S. Moreno and Gwangyang City Mayor Jeong Hyunbok signed a Memorandum of Agreement for Substantial Exchanges between Cagayan de Oro City and Gwangyang, Korea last November 6, 2019 at a local hotel. “Sisterhood relations encompass many areas of common interests (such as tourism, culture and educational exchanges, trade) but these also manifest a city’s respectability in the domestic and international fronts,” Moreno said. “To me, the more important angle is not what to expect (although improved relations produce many reciprocal benefits), but rather what the sister cities can do together.” Gwangyang is a city in South Jeolla Province, South Korea. It is the home of POSCO's Gwangyang Steel Works, the largest facility of its kind in the world. Gwangyang is at the center of development for the Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone (GFEZ) which hosts port container handling, steel production, and shipbuilding as well as leisure facilities. The Cagayan de Oro City Council earlier enacted an ordinance authorizing Moreno to enter into and sign the Memorandum of Understanding for substantial exchanges with Gwangyang. In his endorsement, Mayor Moreno said the collaboration further enhances the policy of the city to promote sisterhood with other local government units here and abroad which have been determined to be beneficial in the delivery of services to its constituents. Both cities have agreed to carry out cooperation in various fields to further promote friendly relations and jointly make efforts for improved friendship between both cities’ citizens and better economic development. Exchanges will be in various areas of local governance such as, but not limited to economic trade and investment, education, culture and tourism for the promotion of friendly relations of the two cities and their people, Moreno said. “We expect more robust programs in education, tourism and investments,” said Local Economic & Investment Promotion Officers (LEIPO) Eileen E. San Juan. “Before the signing of the MOU on Education, Gwangyang officials met with local private schools on accommodation of Korean students. Gwangyang is inviting Cagayan de Oro to their Plum Festival next year,” she added. As a further sign of goodwill and friendship between the two cities, San Juan said the Gwangyang City Government has designated one of their roads as “Cagayan de Oro Road.”

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LWUA chief faces graft raps

November 13, 2019

SAN Francisco, Agusan del Sur--Top officials of local water utilities here and in Butuan City have filed a graft complaint against Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Administrator Jeci A. Lapus. The complaint was filed by San Francisco Water District general manager Elmer T. Luzon and Butuan City Water District general manager Engr.  Anselmo L. Sang Tian against Lapus for allegedly engaging in “moro moro” transactions with private partners that were disadvantageous to the welfare of local water districts in the entire country. In their complaint sent to Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires, Luzon and Sang Tian claimed Lapus engaged in irregular transactions between private companies and at least 100 water districts in the country  which were flawed from the very start because of the shortcuts in the processes and without public hearing as prescribed by Executive Order No. 68, series of 1999 signed by former President Joseph Estrada. The two complainants also cited Lapus issued a travel ban to LWUA designated representatives to water districts joint venture selection committee meetings leaving water districts vulnerable to questionable transactions with the private partners. Inquirer has sent a query to get a reaction from Lapus at the Contact Us online form of LWUA website but has yet to get a response at press time. Luzon said Public-Private Partnership (PPP) or Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between water districts and private water suppliers rapidly proliferating in the country are grossly disadvantageous and a heavy burden to the consuming public because the operation, maintenance, billing and collection are taken over by the private partner putting the government into lesser control. He noted the Primewater Infrastructure Corp. owned by former Senate President Manny Villar has dominated the PPP scheme in the country and had already engaged three large category B and C water districts in Mindanao including Metro Ozamiz Water District in Ozamiz City, Panabo Water District in Panabo City and recently the Surigao Metropolitan Water District in Surigao City. This despite the assurance of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar in 2016 that their family-owned companies will not bid for any PPP projects to prevent conflict of interests. Of the more than 500 water districts in the country, 76 of these utilities were engaged under the concession-type partnership with a total of  1.4  million service connections equivalent to some 6.7 million consumers.Local water districts are Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations. “Clearly, the concession-type PPP is highly irregular,if not, unlawful because the local water districts’ core functions were outsourced to private partners,” Luzon said. The EO 68 has mandated LWUA to conduct preliminary and final reviews of Build-Operate-Transfer and similar proposals on water supply projects of local water districts.

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Cops kill Mindanao’s most wanted robbery gang leader in Oro

November 13, 2019

CAGAYAN de Oro City--The leader of Mindanao’s most wanted robbery group was killed in a running gun battle with the local police here Tuesday. Archolito Palubon, a.k.a “Bingcol,” the leader of the notorious “Bingcol robbery gang,” the group believed responsible for various unsolved armed robberies in Mindanao, was killed in a running battle with the pursuing police Tuesday evening. The “Bingcol” robbery group was believed to be responsible in the robbery holdup of the Quality Appliance center here a few months ago and the LBC cargo offices in the past. A Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) camera led the police to Palubon’s identity whose face was recorded clearly by the security camera. The police then issued a Mindanao-wide alarm placing the Palubon and his “Bingcol” group in the top list of the wanted criminals in the island. Police investigators said that the “Bingcol” robbery gang operated in Zanboanga Peninsula, and in the regions of Caraga and North Mindanao. Cagayan De Oro City is the “rest and recreation” place of the “Bingcol” robbery gang, a police officer said. Two of Palubon’s companions, now the subject of a manhunt, escaped after the police responded about an ongoing robbery on a hardware, a few meters away from the police station in Ipil, Carmen Tuesday evening. Palubon attempted to hostage the cashier of the New Cagayan CCH Hardware along Ipil Street, but ran away under cover of the market goers while the police gave chase. In a bid to mislead the pursuing police, Palubon threw bundles of the loot money along the escaped route resulting in a melee among the bystanders and marketers who scooped money bills scattered along the street. The police, however, cornered Palubon along Lerio Street in Carmen killing him in the ensuing shootout. Dr. Christian Caballes, the Chief of the Scene of the Crime Office, said that Palubon died of multiple gunshot wound on the body. He said that a fully loaded.45 pistols were recovered from Palubon along with a crystalline substance in a cellophane in his pocket. Caballes said that the firearm would be subjected to a ballistic examination while the unknown crystalline substance would also be submitted for laboratory exam.

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