todays top stories

Veterans Bank Receives an Anvil for Its History Wall

April 4, 2019

Philippine Veterans Bank wins a Silver Anvil for its History Wall project in the recent 54th Anvil Awards presented by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP).      The PVB History Wall project aims to educate the younger generation on the values, history, and legacy of our Filipino World War II veterans through informative and colorful panels in PVB branches that retell the story of one of the darkest chapters of our history. What makes the History Wall unique is that each wall is customized to include the local World War II history of where the branch is located.      The PVB History Wall won the prestigious Anvil citation under the Public Relations Tools: Exhibit and Special Event category for “inspiring nationalism and portraying the Filipino at his best through a History Wall that pays tribute to Filipino heroism and the sacrifice of men and women during World War II.”

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Oro amphitheater gets facelift

April 4, 2019

MAYOR Oscar Moreno on Thursday (April 4) led the groundbreaking for the P76-million renovation of the historic City Amphitheater in the old center city of Plaza Divisoria, Cagayan de Oro City. The initial phase of the project - to be supervised by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) - will consist of an amphitheater at the back of Cagayan river along Burgos street with a river rafting-themed monument. (River rafting is a signature tourism destination in the city.) It will also consist of another building for office use with a footbridge leading to a multi-level parking building that can accommodate 40 vehicles. A boulevard park will be erected alongside the eastern bank of the river. But Moreno said the development won't stop there. The P76-million facelift, bankrolled by the office of Cagayan de Oro-born Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, will extend up to the five blocks of Plaza Divisoria. The new Divisoria pays homage to the old Divisoria which was constructed at the turn of the last century by entrepreneur Tirso Neri. "In any community, there is a landmark that connects generations upon generations. It is our duty to preserve such landmarks," Moreno said during the groundbreaking rite. The whole development is part of a larger infra-based resiliency project assisted by UN Habitat called Project Lunhaw. Project Lunhaw (green in vernacular) encompasses the installation of environmentally-sound and climate change-resilient structures from Duaw Park to Maharlika bridge. It will consist of picnic areas, biking and jogging lanes, ramps for persons with disabilities, among numerous others.  

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COWD officials rebuff Dahino, say they have sent written explanation to City Council a week ago

April 3, 2019

OFFICIALS of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) on Wednesday (March 3) said they have already sent a letter to the City Council last week explaining the supposed liquidation of an annual P6-million fund set aside by the government-owned utility for the city government. This was COWD general manager Bienvenido Batar’s remark during a press conference that day as a reaction to an earlier statement by Councilor Edna Dahino that it has been two weeks already that the City Council has not received any communication from COWD on the matter. It can be recalled that a week ago during the City Council’s weekly session, Dahino stood on the podium and questioned the liquidation of the supposed P6-million annual fund allotted to the city government by COWD. According to Dahino, the supposed allotment was in compliance of a provision of the Local Government Code (LGC) that government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) are mandated to set aside one percent of their gross income to the local government unit (LGU) where it draws its natural resources from. Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya, who was also a councilor in 2006 when City Hall asked for its allotment, said that the city government and COWD reached a P6-million yearly compromise. Dahino said that between that year to the present, the P6 million would have ballooned to P78 million to date, incurred in a total of 13 years. The councilor added that City Hall could have used the amount to fund water projects in barangays where water is still scarce, specifically barangay Indahag. (The barangay chairman of Indahag, Jocelyn Joy Dahino, is a relative of the councilor’s spouse.) But Batar said COWD had already explained in its letter to the City Council last week on the mechanics of the allotment. He reiterated in the press conference last Wednesday that the allotment doesn’t go to City Hall coffers but it would be the city government which chooses specific projects to implement and COWD would bankroll them. He said that in a span of 13 years, there were only such two major projects – the P2.9-million water supply project in Suntingon Elementary School in barangay Bugo and a P320,000 water supply system project in two zones in barangay Cugman. “If there are no projects earmarked in a given year and if the P6 million won’t be consumed, then it reverts back to COWD. Dili siya mag-accumulate as what Councilor Dahino impressed,” COWD chairman Eduardo Montalvan said in the same press conference.

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Soaring Ahead of the Curve : Cagayan de Oro Takes Off as PH’s Next Metropolitan Center

April 1, 2019

The Philippine Development Plan of 2019-2022 envisions Cagayan de Oro City to become the Philippines ‘next metropolis by 2025. However, one only has to look around to see for himself that the boom that’s suppose to propel the metropolization of this gateway city to Mindanao and its environs could already be coming in ahead of schedule. Although the outward signs evidently are all over town, data from government entities charged with recording business and financial transactions prove beyond the shadow of a doubt there is indeed a healthy lifeblood of investments and business confidence beneath the muscle and sinew putting up the new buildings and new businesses. Data from the City Finance Department /Treasurer’s Office show that from 3,439 new business permits issued in 2013, there were already 4,367 by 2017.  Renewals have grown even faster, from 14,640 in 2013 to 19,330 in 2017. In toto, from 18,079 business permits in 2013, there were 5.618 more in 2017, for an impressive 31% growth over the four year period to 23,697 total permits, barely a year into the second term of City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno. On the average, prior to 2013, there were only 13,099 registered businesses on record per year.  From 2014 to 2019 the number ballooned to 18,125 registered businesses per year.  New business registrations in these groups of years on the other hand had a yearly average of 3,156 and 4,000, respectively. “The people deserve more to be able to respond to the pressures and demands of their city that is fast becoming a burgeoning metropolis,” said Moreno in his message published in the City Mayor’s Report for 2018. “The city that continues to attract investments as a competitive destination for commerce and industry, city of choice for education, preferred medical/hospital care destination, and as banking and financial hub of the region.” “All of these because of its business-friendly governance, comfortably calm peace and public safety condition, as well as its sustained commitment to become a climate resilient city where people live and enjoy relatively safer environment.” New investments reported by the City Finance Department grew 136.7% with total capitalization of P3.906-Billion (B), consisting of more than 4,000 businesses that were registered with the Department of Trade and Industry(DTI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The construction boom surged to new heights in 2017 driven by the construction of new hotels, condominiums, housing projects and commercial/hospital buildings. The single largest investment recorded was the P2.8-B bulk water supply project of Metro Pacific Investments. Meantime, investments monitored by the Misamis Oriental provincial office in 2017 grew 214%  to P7.260-B, from only P2,310-B in 2016. Major sectors covered included P4.468-B under Infrastructure and Services, and P2.267-B for Real Property/Real Estate/Real Estate Development.   City Competitiveness Network To further bolster the city’s competitiveness, Moreno established the City Competitiveness Network in 2017. Chaired by the City Mayor and co-chaired by the NEDA-10 Regional Director, it is supported by the Local Economic and Investment Promotion Office as Secretariat, which also operates the Cagayan de Oro Trade and Investment Promotions Center. Since it was first established in 2013, Cagayan de Oro has maintained its position among the Top 10 Most Competitive Cities (Highly Urbanized Cities Category) and was ranked fifth in overall competitiveness in 2018, and No. 1 as the Most Resilient City. Eileen E. San Juan, the city’s Local Economic & Investment Promotion Office, credited the initiatives undertaken by the Moreno administration since its first term in the latter half of 2013 to improve the business climate in the city and make it more business and people friendly. “Primary among these are the automation/online platforms for business registration, payment of taxes and fees, building permits, the updating of the Local Investment Incentive Code in 2018 and the Local  Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code,” San Juan said. From an average of 19 days in 2012, the City under the Moreno initiative reduced the time for securing a new business permit to only 46.88 minutes in 2013 and further to 31.82 minutes in 2014. It takes an average of 5 days in other LGUs to secure a new business permit. Similarly, business permit renewals which took two days in 2012, were reduced to only 100.93 minutes by 2013 and further reduced by 50% of that to only 51.79 minutes. This likewise compares well with other LGUs where an average of 5 days is needed to renew a business permit. Cagayan de Oro became the first country in 2014 to institute an Online Assessment and Payment for new and renewal of business applications, quarterly business permits, real property taxes, city building fees, fines for road and traffic violations, market stall rentals, and other taxes and fees. For this achievement, Cagayan de Oro was declared champion in the 6th Awards for Excellence in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Local Government Units or eGOV Awards under the Best in Digital Payment category. Organized by the DICT and NICP, the eGOV Awards recognizes innovative and outstanding local government units which innovate information and communication technology to improve the delivery of public services. Cagayan de Oro likewise blazed the trail for other LGUS in the same year when it streamlined the construction permitting process for building and occupancy permits through the Building Permit Management System of the Cagayan de Oro Office of the Building Official (OBO) in partnership with the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP). Not the least, it updated its Investment Incentives Ordinance in 2018 by offering a local business tax holiday on gross receipts of new businesses from two to five years depending on the number of workers employed, capitalization, nature of technology used and location of new enterprises. These business-friendly initiatives did not go unnoticed, and made the city a finalist in 2018 in the Most Business Friendly Local Government Unit category. Peace and Public Safety On top of all these, Cagayan de Oro has also scored high peace and public safety, a priority concern businessmen and investors rank highly in Mindanao. From 2018, Cagayan de Oro accomplished an impressive 45% reduction (-3,369) in total crime volume compared to 2017. The Cagayan de Oro City Police Office further bolstered its crime clearance efficiency to 87.2% in 2018 (from 72.4% in 2017), and its crime solution efficiency from 63.3% in 2017 to 77.1% in 2018. As a result, the average monthly crime rate in Cagayan de Oro City dropped from 89.3 percentage points in 2017 to  only 49.1 per 100,000 population in 2018 , an impressive 40.2 reduction. “Peace is an entitlement of the people,” said Moreno, who currently also serves as the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC-10) Chairperson. (RMB)

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Solon blasts Misor dad

April 1, 2019

MISAMIS Oriental second district Rep. Juliette Uy yesterday blasted Misamis Oriental Provincial Board Member Gerardo Sabal III.      “Why get in the way of justice? Whose side are you on? Rep. Uy quoted Vice Governor Joey Pelaez of Misamis Oriental asking Sabal apparenty referring to Verde Soko, Phividec Administrator Franklin Quijano, Phividec Port Asssistant Manager Efledo Resma.      “Sabal did not base his latest arguments on facts, therefore his allegations are fake news and falsehoods,” Rep Uy said.      She said Quijano testified before the committee and responded to questions posed on February 26 and March 15.      “The Verde Soko officials chose not to attend the hearing even after they were duly notified,” she added.      The joint committee hearing adhered to due process and Quijano and the Verde Soko officials had their opportunity to be heard. Quijano availed of that opportunity while the Verde Soko officials did not. SUSPENSION      House committees investigating the garbage importation, upon motion of Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao, decided to recommend the suspension of Customs Collector Floro Calixihan.      The House panels also called on the Phividec Industrial Estate Authority board of directors to suspend  Quijano.      A letter from Verde Soko and importation documents were the committees’ bases for recommending the suspension of the Customs officials.      Siao said Calixihan “acted like employee of Verde Soko, instead of being officials of the Philippine government, when they signed a letter prepared by Verde Soko days before the garbage shipment arrived.”      “Maling-mali itong ginawa ni Calixihan. Sa pagpirma ni Calixihan sa dokumentong iyon, dated July 19, 2018, pinayagan ni Calixihan ang pagpasok ng kargamento ng Verde Soko kahit di pa ito sumasailalim sa inspeksyon at di pa nababayaran ang mga tamang buwis. Dumating yung kargamento na mahigit 5,000 metric tons ng basura pala ang laman noong July 21, 2018,” Siao explained.      “There was planning and coordination in the misdeclared importation and  Calixihan was part of it based on the available evidence,” Siao added.      Siao also recommended to the House panels that Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero launch an internal investigation on Calixihan.       “Suspending Calixihan is necessary to preserve documents and contain any likely damage they have done. He must also be held responsible for the non-collection of import duties as a result of allowing the garbage shipments to be transferred out of the port without payment of the duties,” Siao said.      The Iligan City congressman said Calixihan may have violated a host of customs and environment laws by their actions.      “Phividec administrator Quijano should be suspended  because he failed at his job. He allowed Verde Soko to operate even when he knew the company was incapable of recycling plastic,” Uy said during the house probe in Cagayan de Oro.      Uy also said “Quijano did not hold Verde Soko accountable and responsible for importing garbage and hazardous waste and after he knew Verde Soko had fake documents from Green Soko in South Korea.”      As Phividec administrator, Quijano is vice chairman of the Phividec board. Congresswoman Uy said Phividec may appoint an acting administrator.      “Suspending Quijano is necessary to make sure official documents, notes and other information materials are intact and preserved,” she said.      “If Quijano resigns, he still does not escape administrative, criminal, and civil liability for his actions and inaction as Phividec administrator,” the Misamis Oriental congresswoman said.   PLASTIC RECYCLER Plastic recycling operations of Verde Soko are “make believe” but the garbage they imported all the way from South Korea is very real, according to  Uy, who said she would not be surprised if the NBI would either amend the charges or file new ones to include officials of the Bureau of Customs and the Phividec Industrial Estate Authority.      The House of Representatives hearing was jointly convened by the Committees on Good Governance and Public Accountability, Local Government, and Ecology. Present in the investigation were Reps. Frederick Siao, Lourdes Acosta-Alba, Henry Oaminal, Romeo Acop, Carlos Zarate, Gary Alejano, Luis “Jon-Jon” Ferrer, Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez, and Ecology Committee Chair Dakila Carlos Cua.      The National Bureau of Investigation criminal charges against Verde Soko officials are already filed with the Department of Justice prosecutor in Misamis Oriental.      “We had a very clinical and productive hearing during which the committees convened methodically dissected the timeline, procedures, and statements of the resource persons who gave their sworn testimony. In my mind, the failures of Phividec and of Customs district are clear,” Uy said.      Uy noted that during the House hearing on the Verde Soko garbage, Phividec board Chairman Jesus Guevarra II, drawing from his experience as a banker, said he “forewarned” Phividec Administrator Franklin Quijano about the “reputational issues” surrounding Verde Soko.      Guevarra said Verde Soko’s importation of the garbage is “illegal...done in haste.”      He also said the Phividec locator company “should have imported machineries first.”      Uy said, “Quijano was evasive during his testimony, kept blaming Customs, relied only on presentations without verifying if those presentations were faithful representations of the truth.”      “Quijano had the duty to check whether what Verde Soko was presenting was the truth. He had the duty to know his customer. Quijano failed at that,” the congresswoman added.   PHIVIDEC DID NOT BOTHER TO CHECK  IF VERDE SOKO IS REALLY A PLASTICS RECYCLER      Rep. Uy said she “will ask the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit of Phividec. The officials there have certainly been grossly negligent and incompetent at the very least.”      “How Phividec allowed Verde Soko to operate is mind-boggling. The investigation of the Customs intelligence officials and of the Mindanao International Container Port clearly indicates Verde Soko is a shell that is just filled with garbage but with no plastic recycling equipment and machinery,” she added.      Uy said Phividec administrator Franklin Quijano and other Phividec officials knew there was already something wrong at Verde Soko and the best they could do was ask them to “show cause” and then receive letters from Verde Soko.      “The most laughable parts of Quijano’s testimony was when he admitted knowing Verde Soko had only one piece of rusting equipment,” the congresswoman pointed out.      During his testimony at the House hearing, Quijano said: “In their presentation, they [Verde Soko] were supposed to install 30 machines. But they were able to install only one. And it did not have any activity right now. It is already in the state of rusting your Honor.”      “I was only slightly amused by how Phividec administrator Franklin Quijano was hiding behind procedures and word play. It was apparent to me that he was making it appear there is no coordinating mechanism at the Phividec berthing facilities,” Uy said. “Complete and total imbeciles they are over there at the leadership of Phividec. For starters, they deserve to undergo COA special audit,” according to Uy.   SHIPMENT WAS NOT INSPECTED TO CHECK FOR MISDECLARATION Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao said he will recommend to Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero that he confer a medal or formal commendation to MICT Port Collector John M. Simon and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Agents Joel Pinawin, Oliver Valiente, and Abdul Sultan because “these gentlemen truly did their jobs here. They deserve the commendation.”       Simon and his team were the ones who discovered the misdeclaration of the imported cargo of garbage.      Assessing the outcome of the House joint hearing, Siao said Customs Collector Floro Calixihan “got caught in his own web of incompetence and smokescreens.”      Siao said, “all the over 6,000 metric tons of garbage from South Korea was able to come into our country because Collector Calixihan allowed it to happen.”      “Without inspection, then Customs Port Collector, now District Collector Floro Calixihan, Jr. admitted authorizing the physical transfer of the shipments of garbage from the port to Verde Soko facilities and he did not collect or impose the import duties,” Rep. Siao said.      Rep. Uy said, “Masyadong naging maliksi itong si Calixihan. Wala raw siyang nakitang kahina-hinalang impormasyon sa mga dokumentong hawak nila. Now, contrast that admission of his versus the findings of the South Korean government that Green Soko used fake documents.”      She said it should be the basic competency of any customs officer to know the difference between fake and real import documents.      Siao described as “comedic” the efforts of Calixihan “to hide behind an old 2010 Customs memo to justify expediting the transfer of custody of the garbage shipment to Verde Soko.”      “Hindi bumenta ang palusot ni Calixihan. Akala yata niya mabobola niya kami. Kulang ang paghahanda niya para sa hearing, mas handa kami,” Siao said.      During the hearing, Collector Calixihan said, “Naexamine na po yun sa country of source… In this kind of shipment, break and bulk, pursuant to Customs Memorandum Order 18-2010, dinadala po siya sa consignee’s warehouse or plant site.”      Rep. Siao pointed out that “the Customs memo Calixihan is using as his defense or shield reminds all BoC personnel to watch out for circumvention tactics, among which is misdeclaration.”      “How should Customs officials determine whether there is misdeclaration? They should either examine the documents for falsification or tampering. They should also inspect the cargo by just taking some samples,” the congressman added.      “Collector Calixihan said during the hearing he did not inspect the shipment.  Remember that weeks ago before the hearing, the DENR categorically said they did not issue any import permit for Verde Soko and that the South Korean government said the shipping documents from Green Soko are fake. Whose credibility is now in question?” Siao said.

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Universal health care law implementation to prioritize in CDO – Moreno, Uy

March 31, 2019

THE impending implementation of the just-signed universal health care law in the country will be piloted in Cagayan de Oro City. Both Mayor Oscar Moreno and Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy announced this on Saturday (March 30) during the kick-off campaign of the local administration party PDP-Laban slate known as Team OKKA. Uy summoned councilors to a special session last Saturday so the city government could beat the deadline set by the Department of Health (DOH) naming selected areas in the Philippines as pilots for the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 11223, otherwise known as an Act Instilling Universal Health Care for All Filipinos. Moreno said one of the requirements of DOH was a recommendation from the City Council. The deadline was Sunday (March 31). During his visit here last week, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was so impressed with Moreno’s governance especially in the health sector that he confided to the mayor himself to submit the requirements for the universal health care law piloting. Under the new law which was signed by President Duterte only last February 20, Filipinos will now be considered to possess immediate eligibility for and have access to the full spectrum of health care which includes preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care for medical, dental, mental and emergency health services. Uy said only councilors belonging to the majority were present in the special session last Saturday and all three opposition councilors were absent. With all requirements passed to the DOH main office last Sunday, the city government is now waiting for an advisory on the list of pilot areas for RA 11223 implementation. During his visit, Duque said that “we would love to work with a local chief executive like the caliber of Mayor Oscar Moreno that understands the roadmap of transformation especially transforming our health systems.”

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