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Updated: 37 min 26 sec ago

PWD accused of theft shot dead in Minglanilla

Sat, 2022-07-23 14:56
A PERSON with disability (PWD) who received a threat to his life after being implicated in a theft incident was shot dead by a lone gunman on a motorcycle Saturday at 7:15 a.m., July 23, 2022, in Purok Candle, Sitio Fatima, Barangay Lower Lipata, Minglanilla town, southern Cebu.

Adrin Solamo Llamas, 35, single, who had a walking impairment, was seated in their sari-sari store when the suspect on board a Suzuki Smash motorcycle color black pumped bullets into the victim's body, resulting in his death.

Witnesses described the suspect as medium build, wearing maong pants and a sweatshirt, but failed to recognize him as his face was concealed with a helmet and a face mask.

The police recovered from the crime scene three spent shells and an unspent bullet of .45 pistol.

Staff Sergeant Villasorda of Minglanilla Police Station said that the parents of the victim, Bienvenido Llamas, 61, and wife Florenda, 60, claimed that their son had a mental health disorder called kleptomania, which they believed was the motive behind the incident.

The parents told the police that somebody from Barangay Lawaan 3, Talisay City lodged a complaint against the victim at the barangay hall of Linao in Minglanilla two weeks ago after he lost his P30,000 cash allegedly to Adrin.

The parents, however, settled the matter amicably and paid the complainant an equivalent of the amount that was taken from him.

The Llamas couple narrated that one of the companions of the complainant warned them, “Kontrola nang imong anak, Nang! Kay og motaak nag Lawaan, Talisay og balik, naa gyud hayaon.”

(Take care of your son, Ma'am, because if he will come again in Lawaan, Talisay, a wake might happen.)

Villasorda said there were already numerous complaints of theft against Adrin, but the matter did not reach the police as it was settled amicably by the victim's parents.

The police are still trying to establish other motives aside from theft as well as the identity of the suspect. (GPL, TPT)
Categories: Philippines News

P2 million shabu seized in Aloguinsan

Sat, 2022-07-23 12:36
A suspected drug pusher from Cebu City yielded over P2 million worth of illegal drugs during a buybust operation in Sitio Bliss, Barangay Bonbon, Aloguinsan town around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22, 2022.

Ras Fernandez Manano, 44, married of Sitio Lawis, Barangay Pasil, Cebu City was arrested by the police for having in his possession one small pack, one medium pack and four large packs of suspected shabu weighing 410 grams with a street value of P2,788,000, while his cohort, Surina Peñalosa Gocela, 52, a widow, of Purok 4, Barangay Bonbon of the said town eluded arrest.

Lieutenant Roberto Barnido of Aloguinsan Police Station said the buybust operation was conducted by the station's Drug Enforcement Unit.

The P17,000 in marked money was also recovered from the suspect.

Meanwhile, another drug personality was arrested in Bajac Road, Barangay Poblacion, Liloan town, northern Cebu around 11:50 p.m. on Friday, July 22.

Police Major Ramil Morpos of Liloan Police Station identified the suspect as Anthony Malagar, 22.

Seized from Malagar were 15 grams of alleged shabu worth P102,000. (GPL, TPT)
Categories: Philippines News

Poultry farm owner shot dead in Aloguinsan

Sat, 2022-07-23 11:43
A poultry farm owner was shot dead in his residence in Purok 2, Barangay Tampaan, Aloguinsan town, midwest Cebu around 3 p.m. on Friday, July 22, 2022.

Corporal Jose Sayson of Aloguinsan Police Station told SunStar Cebu that the victim identified as Gregorio Maambong Jr. was having a drinking spreee with his friends as they were celebrating a fiesta in their barangay when the gunman arrived and shot him multiple times.

Maambong succumbed to gunshot wounds in the head and body.

The suspect, who wore a red t-shirt and concealed his face with another shirt, walked casually towards his companion waiting on a Rusi motorcycle color red and black.

According to his wife, Maambong had no known enemy in their place, but her husband showed an unpleasant behavior when he got drunk.

The police recovered from the crime scene four spent shells of .45 pistol. (GPL, TPT)
Categories: Philippines News

Pandemic recovery, human rights in Sona

Fri, 2022-07-22 21:08
PANDEMIC recovery, education, food security, government partnership with private sector, campaign against illegal drugs and criminality, as well as infrastructure development and human rights are some of the subjects that lawmakers and a non-government group expect President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to discuss during his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, July 25, 2022.

Meanwhile, in Cebu, police units have been ordered to follow the security plan for the Sona. Police Lt. Col. Janette Rafter, Cebu City Police Office deputy director for operations, said they will deploy personnel on Monday, as they expect progressive groups to launch protest rallies during the Sona.

Sen. Loren Legarda said she expects Marcos to inform the country about his administration’s specific measures in attaining the “better normal” following the effects of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. She hopes these plans are “aligned and attuned to the climate path.”

Legarda said she is also “eager” to hear the President speak about his priority programs and policy reforms on health and education, food security, agriculture and sustainability programs, economic and fiscal policies, human rights and social justice, unemployment and underemployment, legislative agenda, the critical role of the local governments, foreign policy and other pressing issues related to the economy, such as inflation and the series of oil price hikes.

Marcos should also provide his plans to strengthen the country’s education system, which was badly hit by the pandemic, as well as to address the Philippines’ debt, which was at P12.495 trillion as of May 2022, she added.

Sen. Sonny Angara wants to know what the administration will do to spur the economy, especially Marcos’ plan to work closely with the private groups and to address the issues on the resumption of pre-pandemic activities.

“How the government can improve health services and education, job creation, these are what our countrymen want to hear in President BBM’s Sona,” he said.

Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief now Sen. Ronald dela Rosa said he hopes that Marcos would say that he will continue the programs of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly against illegal drugs, criminality and terrorism.

Sen. Christopher Go hopes Marcos will commit to the continuous strengthening of the country’s healthcare system, food security, disaster response measures, and the “Build, Build, Build” program, which may also result in more jobs for the Filipino people.

Sen. Grace Poe hopes Marcos will have a “concrete, comprehensive and effective” solution to the pressing issues in the country, particularly in poverty, food supply, unemployment and transportation and education system, as well as the enhancement of government services.

Free Leila

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for Marcos to prioritize resolving human rights concerns and to acknowledge these during his Sona.

“President Marcos has a golden opportunity to get the Philippines on the right track by setting out clear priorities and policies to improve human rights in the country,” HRW deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said.

“After six years of Duterte’s disastrous ‘drug war’ that killed thousands of people, Marcos needs to make a clean break by showing he is serious about accountability for past human rights violations as well as preventing abuses in the future,” he added.

HRW urged Marcos to work on the release of former senator Leila de Lima, who had been detained since 2017 due to alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade, to stop the abusive and unlawful operations of the police in line with the drug war, to order the conduct of a probe into alleged extrajudicial killings, cooperate in the possible reopening of the drug war probe by the International Criminal Court, end red-tagging or linking persons or groups to the communist terrorist group, drop charges against Rappler, and to appoint members to the Commission on Human Rights who have proven track records for upholding human rights and reputations for independence and impartiality.

Full alert

In Cebu City, Police Lt. Col. Rafter said the security plan for the Sona had already been passed to all units of the city and provincial police in Cebu to ensure full and strict implementation.

The police personnel who will be deployed on Monday will serve as the civil disturbance management team (CDM), which is tasked to maintain peace and order.

Some personnel will do roving in major areas in the city, while a team will also be deployed for intelligence monitoring.

Rafter said that starting Sunday, July 24, the Philippine National Police will place the entire country under full alert status.

This means all police personnel are mandated to stay in their respective stations. No one is allowed to take a leave of absence.

She said they will observe maximum tolerance, allowing protesters to air their sentiments.

As of July 22, police had not received threats that could disrupt Marcos’ Sona, Rafter said. (AYB / LMY)
Categories: Philippines News

State auditors call out MCWD for ‘excessive’ overtime pay

Fri, 2022-07-22 21:04
THE Commission on Audit (COA) has called the attention of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) over its excessive payment of overtime pay to its employees that not only exceeded the water district’s approved budget but also exceeded payment ceilings set by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)

In its 2021 audit report, state auditors found that the overtime pay of some MCWD employees exceeded 50 percent of their annual basic salary.

COA found a heavy equipment operator with an annual basic salary of P235,116 receiving P122,849.55 in overtime pay, or 52.25 percent of his annual basic pay.

Another MCWD employee, a water and sewerage maintenance man, received overtime pay of P98,882.48 or 53.11 percent of his basic annual salary of P186,177.10.

State auditors said the payment of overtime in excess of 50 percent of the employee’s annual salary not only violated CSC-DBM Joint Circular 2 series of 2015, but was also not consistent with MCWD’s amended policies and guidelines on overtime services which was issued by its acting general manager on June 15, 2021 and took effect on July 1, 2021.

COA also found that the overtime services rendered in excess of the 50 percent limit were due to the lack of manpower at MCWD, as several employees had retired and not been immediately replaced.

To correct the matter, COA recommended that MCWD management strictly adhere to CSC-DBM Joint Circular 2, series of 2015 and its own policy on the limitations on the payment of overtime services to avoid a notice of disallowance.

MCWD agreed to this and to COA’s recommendation to hire personnel to fill positions that were vacated due to retirement.

MCWD also agreed to review the overtime reports provided by its departments and for any excess to be deducted and converted to Compensatory Time-Offs, if applicable.

They also plan to automate the monitoring of requests for overtime and ensure that their departments don’t exceed their overtime budgets.

Exceeds 5% limit

COA also found that MCWD’s overtime payment to its employees of P39.421 million in 2021 exceeded the allowable five percent of total personnel cost of P29.393 million, by more than P10 million.

This was contrary to provisions of CSC-DBM Joint Circular 2, series of 2015 that states that “total overtime payments made in a calendar year shall not exceed five percent of the water district’s total personnel cost for that year” and that “any grant of overtime pay in excess of the five percent limit shall be subject to approval of the DBM in accordance with existing budgeting and accounting rules and regulations.”

To address this, COA recommended, and MCWD agreed, to strictly implement the annual five percent personal service budget limit on overtime pay and to secure DBM authorization in case of excess annual overtime pay to ensure the availability of funds for other items of expenditure and to avoid disallowance of excess payments.

Beyond approved budget

State auditors also found that MCWD’s overtime expenses exceeded its approved budget for overtime payment of P19.828 million as stated in the water district’s Corporate Operating Budget (COB).

The COB is a detailed projection of all estimated income and expenses for the year and serves as the water district’s own appropriation law.

State auditors said MCWD’s actual overtime expenses run contrary to PD 1445, or the Government Auditing Code.

Section 4 of PD 1445 provides that “no money shall be paid out of any public treasury or depository except in pursuance of an appropriation law or other specific statutory authority.”

When COA auditors inquired with MCWD’s budget officer, they found that the deficient allotment was sourced out from unfilled positions that were appropriated under personal services. But state auditors added that there was no proof on file that the realignment for the budget deficit was approved, apart from the P2.543 million approved budget realignments that MCWD had made.

MCWD’s budget officials also explained that the requests for authority to render overtime do not pass through their office for verification of the availability of funds.

“This makes it difficult for the Division to monitor if the running balance of the approved budget is still sufficient before the approval of the said requests. The Finance Division revealed that the overtime pay is part of the basic payroll and are processed for payment since the overtime work has already been rendered,” state auditors added.

They recommended to MCWD to “stop the practice of spending overtime pay in excess of what is allocated or appropriated; and support any budget realignment/modifications to cover the deficiency of allotment for overtime pay.”

In response, MCWD officials tasked its Information, Communication and Technology Department to develop a program on the control of overtime spending.

The program will prevent any excess of appropriation of overtime cost per department unless there is an approved budget realignment.

On COA’s recommendation, MCWD also agreed to see to it that all requests for authority to render overtime pass through their Budget Division as a way to determine if there are available funds.

Pandemic, typhoon

On Friday, July 22, 2022, MCWD Acting General Manager Stephen D. Yee explained that the rendering of overtime of some personnel was necessary so as not to disrupt the services of the water district especially during the pandemic.

“The overtime was incurred mostly by personnel of the Operations Group who needed to be fielded 24/7 to operate and monitor pumping stations, monitor water level of reservoir and all water sources, ensure smooth operation of the whole distribution system as well as immediately do repair if there are leaking distribution lines to minimize service disruption and avoid water contamination and also implement scheduled maintenance works,” Yee said in a statement.

“These personnel have to work even during Holy Week, Christmas, New Year and all holidays of the year to ensure the delivery of services. When Typhoon Odette struck Cebu, these personnel were doing repair works 24 hours a day and also delivered water using water trucks to areas with low supply or those that do not have water yet due to the massive brownout,” Yee added.

He said the MCWD management continues to find ways to minimize overtime of employees and “employ other austerity measures to adhere to the observations of the commission.”
Categories: Philippines News

PLDT calls for vigilance vs illegal cable cutting operations

Fri, 2022-07-22 21:01
LEADING integrated telco company PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) are urging their customers nationwide to stay vigilant against illegal activities that lead to interruption in their internet connection, such as deliberate cable cutting and inflicting damage to network equipment.

This comes in the wake of an incident in Laguna where a group of men intentionally cut and damaged PLDT fiber optic cables, disrupting the delivery of PLDT services in the area, and also of persistent reports nationwide of sabotage of PLDT fiber optic cables, causing outages and hardship to subscribers.

"PLDT and Smart are working closely with local government units and our local authorities to ensure the safety and security of our network equipment, which are vital to the unhampered delivery of our fiber-to-the-home, LTE and 5G services to our customers," said Roderick S. Santiago, PLDT Network head.

"We also encourage our customers to help us by reporting similar activities in their respective areas and barangays. Together, we can ensure that our communities can stay safe and connected," he added.

Customers can report such incidents to PLDT's Asset Protection team via Hotline 164 (just dial 164) from their PLDT landline or Smart mobile.

In addition to disasters and calamities, construction works, and power and equipment outages, illegal activities by unscrupulous individuals also cause fiber cuts, leading to widespread service interruptions.

According to PLDT, more than 200 incidents in relation to similar activities have cost the company millions in network restoration costs and inconvenient downtime to many customers.

PLDT operates the country's most extensive fiber infrastructure, which was at 803,000 kilometers as of end-March 2022. This fiber infrastructure also supports Smart's mobile network, which had 76,600 total base stations nationwide, providing 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G to customers from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.

The PLDT Group continues to invest in its network, having spent P518.5 billion for the last 10 years up to 2021. Network-related initiatives made up the bulk of the P89 billion spend for 2021. Capex guidance for 2022 is P85 billion. (PR)

Categories: Philippines News

MCWD, barangay officials visit Lusaran water project

Fri, 2022-07-22 21:00
OFFICIALS of Barangays Lahug, Apas and Busay, as well as top management of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) inspected the ongoing site development of the Lusaran Bulk Water Project six weeks before it will start supplying potable water to the water district.

The three barangays will directly benefit when the project is commissioned on September 4.

Engr. Joffrey Hapitan, CEO of JE Hydro and Bio-Energy Corp., the company undertaking the project, said his men are working 24/7, as he is determined to keep his promise to deliver as scheduled.

The Lusaran water project will supply 15,000 cubic meters of water a day to MCWD.

With the additional supply, the water district will be lifting the suspension of the processing of water service application from Barangays Busay, Lahug, Apas, Camputhaw and Capitol Site when the Lusaran Bulk Water Project starts to deliver 15,000 cubic meters of water daily in September this year.

“Dako akong pasalamat nga hapit na gyud masulbad ang among problema. Sa dugay nga panahon, aduna na gyud kasulbaran ug kini gipangandoy sa tanan lumulopyo. Salamat GM Stephen Yee ug Chairman Daluz of MCWD ug sa JE Hydro ug ni Engr. Hapitan,” Busay Baragay Captain Maria Christia Famador said.

The completion of the Lusaran project also means that the water district can start serving at least nine mountain barangays in Cebu City that do not have access to MCWD water yet.

These barangays are Budlaan, Pulangbato, Binaliw, Agsungot, Guba, Malubog, Cambinocot, Lusaran and Paril.

The water district is now finalizing the detailed engineering design of the distribution line for these areas and will soon bid out the project.

The Lusaran Bulk Water Project was awarded to JE Hydro and Bio-Energy Corp. last March 4, 2021. It sources water from the Lusaran River and uses the conventional way of treating water.

MCWD is constructing a reservoir in Busay to store water from the Lusaran bulk water project, which will be distributed to the consumers in Lahug, Apas, Camputhaw and Capitol Site.

The purchase of the water supply was done through competitive bidding under Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

MCWD has doubled its efforts to establish additional water sources to address the gap between the supply and demand for potable water in Metro Cebu.

The water district has started the bidding process for the procurement of desalinated water from a plant in Cebu City South and another plant in Opao, Mandaue City through competitive bidding under RA 9184.

The desalinated bulk water supply contract will have a validity of 25 years and the winning supplier must be able to supply 10,000 cubic meters of water in the first year and 25,000 cubic meters in the succeeding years until the contract expires.

The winning supplier must ensure that they can deliver sustainable and reliable supply to MCWD throughout the contract duration.

MCWD is now producing 240,000 cubic meters of water per day from 138 wells and private bulk water suppliers covering only 32 percent of the total water demand of Metro Cebu.

These sourcing efforts will bring about a significant increase in MCWD’s total supply. The water district targets to serve up to 70 percent of the total demand in 10 years.

MCWD is serving the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, as well as the towns of Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Talisay. (PR)
Categories: Philippines News

Siesmundo faces Carcedo July 23 for WBF strap in Bohol

Fri, 2022-07-22 20:47
UP-AND-COMERS Antonio Siesmundo and Jhunrick Carcedo clash for the vacant World Boxing Foundation (WBF) Asia Pacific super lightweight strap in the main event of PMI Boxing’s “Kumong Bol-anon VI” on July 23, 2022 at the Brgy. Cogon Gym in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

Siesmundo tipped the scales at 138 pounds, while Carcedo weighed-in a pound heavier at 139.

The 27-year-old Siesmundo is riding a two-fight streak with wins over Ryan Maano and John Lawrence Ordonio.

Siesmundo totally outclassed Ordonio via a one-sided unanimous decision on April 23.

Carcedo, in the meantime, won his last four fights, in which three were against former regional champions Ryan Sermona, Jose Ocampo and Romeo Jackosalem.

Carcedo is coming off a second round technical knockout of Sermona, who has fought the likes of Masayoshi Nakatani and Masayuki Eto, last Feb 26.

Siesmundo is 8-3 with seven knockouts, while the 23-year-old Carcedo is 7-1 with seven knockouts.

International Boxing Federation (IBF) No. 7 rated light flyweight Regie Suganob trades leathers with Indonesian Asyer Aluman in the 10-round co-main event.

Suganob has shown a lot of promise and is the current IBF Youth light flyweight champion. He’s coming off a unanimous decision over Ricardo Sueno on March 7.

Aluman is also fresh from a victory with a unanimous decision win over Sulis Barrera on May 21.

Suganob is 10-0 with three knockouts, while Aluman is 3-2-1 with two knockouts.
Categories: Philippines News

CDO Kingfishers outlast Sherilin-Mandaue in OT in PSL 21-Under

Fri, 2022-07-22 20:34
THE Sealcor Cagayan De Oro Kingfishers had all the answers in the extra session to pull off a 113-102 victory over the Sherilin-Unisol Mandaue Plastic Men in the Pilipinas Super League 21-Under VisMin Leg on Friday evening, July 22, 2022, at the Cebu City Sports Institute in Sawang Calero.

Pushed to the brink by a pesky Mandaue squad that crawled all the way back from a 15-point deficit to force overtime, the Kingfishers did not get rattled and uncorked a 13-3 finishing kick late in the extra session to pick up their third win in a row and remain unbeaten in the tournament, tying the Consolacion Sarok Weavers at the top of the standings.

Jeames Incio had 19 points, including two tough layups in overtime that helped the Kingfishers turn a slim 100-99 lead into a 106-99 advantage with 1:28 remaining in the ballgame. Christian Hosain then sank a triple that hammered the final nail in the coffin of Mandaue, as it gave Cagayan de Oro a comfortable 109-100 margin.

Nicho Estrella also had 19 points to go with five assists, and four rebounds. Paul Redondo added 17 points, seven boards, three blocks, and two steals, while Bling Murillo chipped in 12 markers, eight boards, and seven assists.

The Plastic Men, which dropped to 1-2, got 27 points from Zylle Cabellon, and 24 from JZ Dizon, who canned two triples in the final moments of regulation to help his team force overtime.
Categories: Philippines News

EXPLAINER: COA findings were long preceded by questions of Mayor Rama, Sanggunian on defects of P383.5M Cebu City garbage contract. Rama gave 'ultimatum' in June 2021 to Docast and JJ.

Fri, 2022-07-22 20:28
COA’S REPORT ON GARBAGE DEAL. The Commission on Audit (COA) report on Cebu City’s spending in 2021 -- first news-broken by media specialist Max T. Limpag -- includes the finding that there were “several indications of irregularities” in the procurement and project implementation of the P383.531 million purchase order for the services of two companies operating under a joint venture, Docast Construction and JJ & J Construction and General Supply.

COA was less explicit in describing the irregularities: “exposing the city to the risk of not fully attaining the program’s objective and outcome.” City officials, including Mayor Michael Rama and some councilors, were blunt (in statements made earlier, in 2021): The City was “paying 100 percent for 30 percent of the service.” Docast and JJ allegedly collected full fees for garbage solid wastes most of which were hauled by the City’s Department of Public Service and the barangays’ collection units.

LAPSES FLAGGED. COA’s report noted, after verifying documents and investigating the claims of Docast and JJ, these mistakes and omissions, among others:

(1) The two companies’ ownership and structure didn’t meet the requirement of the City. The City requires a corporation; neither Docast or JJ is.

(2) The primary business of Docast and JJ is construction, not logistics or hauling services, which also isn’t “in accordance with” the city’s requirements.

(3) The two firms didn’t qualify on requirements of motor pool and location. A DPS inspection report said the motor pool is not within the territory of Cebu City; it is located in Calawisan, Lapu-City.

(4) The contractors started hauling garbage even though post qualification was not yet started, no BAC (bids and awards committee) declaration that they qualified, and no notice to proceed.

(5) “Unusual changing” of Tare weight, no certificate of calibration of the weighing equipment from its manufacturer and no Department of Science and Technology validation. Which could’ve answered questions raised last year by Minority Floorleader Nestor Archival Sr. and other councilors on the number of tons hauled.

CITY OFFICIALS’ ACCUSATIONS, SUSPICIONS were raised, interestingly, last year yet, a year before the COA report’s release – and by the city mayor and city councilors no less.

The City Council in July 2021 looked into the transaction when it saw the badges of possible fraud and smelled the stink that possible dishonesty emits.

Mayor Rama -- the same mayor who was then subbing for and later serving the remainder of the late mayor Edgardo Labella’s term -- acted on the suspected anomaly, issuing an “ultimatum” to the contractors because of the alleged violations.

WHAT CITY COUNCIL EXPOSED IN 2021. Three charges of anomaly in the 2021 purchase order (PO) for garbage disposal services were raised in the Cebu City Council early last year. The suspicions were reinforced during the July 23, 2021 budget hearing after DPS (Department of Public Services) asked for P100 million on top of P402 million that was already appropriated.

The charges then: (1) Accusation of bloating the numbers in the heavy volume of garbage claimed to have been hauled by Docast and JJ: more than a thousand tons daily from an earlier average of only 300 tons a day in most of the first half of the year.

(2) Payment to Docast/JJ for garbage hauled by DPS and the barangay collection units at P1,800 per ton, in effect with the two firms being paid for services rendered by the city’s resources.

(3) The deal being covered only by a purchase order and not a contract reviewed by the City Council.

Some councilors suspected that Docast and JJ made more money through the provision of the PO that payment was “integrated” -- “bale tanan sa Docast,” said a DPS official, suggesting it must have received pay even for garbage hauled by the City’s DPS and barangay units.

WHAT RAMA COMPLAINED ABOUT. Mayor Rama issued on June 28, 2021 the “ultimatum” for Docast and JJ to explain alleged multiple violations of PO’s terms of reference: from shortage of trucks (only 13 of 50) to not having a transfer site in the north and having a substandard site in the south, to lack of a motor pool, among others.

Rama called it a “serious memo,” giving the two companies a 48-hour deadline to explain “in writing, under oath and with documentary proof” their lapses and violations. Failure would be a waiver of their right to due process and the issue resolved on its merits, the mayor said then. The contract could be terminated, he said in a news report.

CONTRACT WASN’T TERMINATED. It was not known if the defects were corrected and the violations sanctioned but the services of Docast and JJ apparently continued until the end of 2021. It’s not known or ascertained as to who’s providing the service from January this year up to now.

Reporters covering City Hall apparently didn’t follow up the result of Rama's ultimatum and whether the City Council took it up again, especially on the executive-legislative finding that the City was allegedly getting only a third of the paid services to Docast and JJ.

“Trash hauler given ultimatum: City pays 100% for 33% service,” says a headline of a July 16, 2021 news story by Freeman’s Caecent Magsumbol. SunStar Explainer reported on July 15, 2021: “Twin blasts at garbage hauler Docast from Cebu City Council, VM Rama. They push inquiry on contract, practices that ‘hurt’ the City.”

CITY ACCOUNTANT DEFENDS DEAL. COA’s report on Cebu City contains not just its findings of lapses or violations but also the accounting office’s reply, then COA’s rejoinder and recommendation.

On garbage disposal services, the accountant’s comments may look like a dissent to the findings and thus a defense of Docast and JJ. It’s an odd situation as well for the city mayor and the City Council, which both castigated the deal, but would have to defend it now, through its accountant, against COA’s adverse ruling.

They have to, because in the midst of implementing the purchase order – a PO, not a contract reviewed by the Sanggunian – the mayor and the councilors saw the flaws and yet continued the service.

COA is recommending corrections and requiring documents. It could mean the defects that mattered were not yet corrected. The "100%-payment-for-30%-service" irregularity could have gone on until the end of 2021 or, the public is not yet told, might still be going on.

Categories: Philippines News

Bizman attending fiesta celebration shot dead in Aloguinsan

Fri, 2022-07-22 20:21
A BUSINESSMAN who was attending a fiesta celebration in Barangay Tampaan, Aloguinsan town in Cebu was shot dead Friday afternoon, July 22, 2022.

The victim was identified as Gregorio Maambong Jr., 64, a businessman and resident of Purok 2, Barangay Tampaan.

He sustained four gunshot wounds to the head.

The shooting happened around 3 p.m. Friday, July 22.

Police have yet to identify the two gunmen who were onboard a red and black Rusi motorcycle.

Recovered from the crime scene were four empty shells of caliber .45 pistol. (GPL/LMY)

Categories: Philippines News

San Fernando Buffalos come alive in second half to beat Asturias in PSL 21-Under

Fri, 2022-07-22 19:41
THE San Fernando Buffalos hit their stride in the fourth period, outscoring the Asturias Corn Ranchers by 15 in that stretch to come away with an 82-66 win in the Pilipinas Super League 21-Under VisMin Leg on Friday afternoon, July 22, 2022, at the Cebu City Sports Institute.

The Buffalos were led by point guard Joseph Art Nalos who showed incredible poise in the fourth, coming up with timely shots and passes, all while playing relentless defense on the other end of the floor. Nalos finished with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists, and a steal.

Adrian Go and Joshua Canoy had 14 markers each, the latter giving the Buffalos a lift with his all-around play resulting in five steals, three boards, and three assists.

Andrew Padilla also had a near-double-double of 10 points, eight rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots.

More importantly, the win evened up San Fernando’s record at 2-2.

Asturias dropped to 0-3.

The game was tight early in the fourth with Asturias clinging on to a 59-58 lead. However, the Buffalos suddenly went berserk and uncorked a massive 24-3 run sparked by a three-pointer of Canoy and numerous and-ones by Nalos. When the dust settled, San Fernando already had an 82-62 lead with under a minute remaining in the game.

AJ Sacayan led the Corn Ranchers with 15 points.
Categories: Philippines News

Facebook gives users new way to see all their friends’ posts

Fri, 2022-07-22 19:09
FACEBOOK is rolling out an update that enables its 2 billion daily users to more easily view their friends’ posts in chronological order.

The new feature is the company’s latest attempt to keep people coming back to its social network amid intensifying competition with its trendier rival TikTok.

The changes announced Thursday will offer up two different perspectives. When Facebook users open the app, they will initially see the usual news feed featuring posts selected by an algorithm that the company says is designed to highlight topics and friends most likely to appeal to each individual’s tastes and interests. The main feed on the newly dubbed “Home” section will also include an option to look at short videos called Reels — Facebook’s clone of TikTok.

But many users have expressed frustration with the feeds forced upon them by Facebook, while critics of the Menlo Park, California, company have blasted the algorithm for spreading misinformation and creating polarizing echo chambers.

Facebook, owned by Meta Platforms, is trying to address those concerns with a new Feed tab located to the left of the notifications tab on the shortcut bar in both the iPhone and Android versions of its mobile app.

After clicking on the Feed tab, users will be able to toggle over to a chronological presentation of their Facebook favorites, Facebook groups they have joined or feeds consisting exclusively of posts from all their Facebook friends in the order they were shared.

The new option is designed to address complaints from users who believe they have been missing interesting posts because Facebook’s algorithm omitted them from their feeds.

“One of the most requested features for Facebook is to make sure people don’t miss friends’ posts,” Facebook founder and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in the announcement.

Facebook is giving users more control at a time when it has been struggling to grow, partly because other social media such as TikTok have become more popular, particularly among young generations. That stagnation, in turn, is making it more difficult for corporate parent Meta to boost its profits from the digital ads that appear in users’ feeds. (AP)
Categories: Philippines News

Price ceiling for economic housing rises to P2.5m due to inflation

Fri, 2022-07-22 19:07
THE Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (Dhsud) and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) have signed the joint declaration on the adjustment of the price ceiling for economic housing from P1.7 million to P2.5 million.

The agreement was welcomed by the private sector, pointing out that the adjustment in the price ceiling aligned with the inflation costs for all the inputs to production due to political and economic headwinds around the globe.

In a statement, George Siy, chairman of the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA), the country’s leading organization of housing developers, said the housing sector is an economic pump-primer as it contributes a 3.4 percent output multiplier to the economy and creates indirect employment generated by backroom support, marketing, and salespeople involved in housing activities.

“Like all the other sectors, the housing industry is likewise affected by the increases in prices of all inputs to production, but due to price controls, much of production at the socialized level has been unprofitable, and production has been discouraged. This is why the price ceiling adjustment, due some years ago, is needed to encourage housing production for our countrymen,” he said.

Last June 10, the DHSUD also issued Department Order 2022-03 to enforce the price adjustment to new projects that will be launched. Meanwhile, the new price ceiling will be applied to unsold and yet unconstructed economic housing units for projects with existing licenses to sell.

Siy also said that together with other housing groups, they had been meeting and working with the government, Dhsud, and Neda in the determination of the adjustments in the price ceiling for socialized housing, after the adjustments were made on economic housing.

This takes into consideration increases in the last four years in costs of inputs, as well as income and affordability of the population, especially those that belong to the lower 30 percent of the population.
Categories: Philippines News

Global success of ‘RRR’ signals breakthrough for Tollywood

Fri, 2022-07-22 18:47
INDIA’S film industry is one of the most vast and varied in the world—it’s really not one but many separate industries, including Bollywood, Tollywood and others—yet few of the country’s roughly 2,000 annually produced movies ever make much of a dent with Western audiences.

“We have a long tradition of storytelling in India. We have probably the oldest and most colorful stories,” says director S.S. Rajamouli. “Not being able to travel across borders has been a disappointment.”

That has changed emphatically with Rajamouli’s “RRR,” a three-hour Telugu-language action epic that has not only become one of India’s biggest hits ever but climbed U.S. box-office charts before finding an even wider audience on Netflix. For nine straight weeks, “RRR” has ranked among the top 10 non-English language films on the streaming service. Dubbed in Hindi and subtitled in 15 different languages, “RRR” is the most popular film from India ever on Netflix, charting among the top 10 films in 62 different countries.

For many, “RRR,” based on Hindu mythology and the freedom fighters that fought British colonialism, is their first encounter with Tollywood, the Telugu movie industry, or Indian films, at all. What many have seen is a movie filled to the brim with over-the-top action sequences and sprawling dance numbers, and an energy that today’s Hollywood blockbusters seldom match. Motorbikes are juggled. Tigers are thrown. Suspenders prove a surprisingly pliable dancing prop.

“There is never enough for me,” Rajamouli said in a recent interview from Hyderabad in India. “The only thing too much is my producer coming in and saying, ‘We’re crossing our budget. You need to stop somewhere.’ That is the only thing that will stop me. If given a chance, I will go even bigger and wilder, no doubt about it.

“To the brink, and nothing less.”

That go-for-broke style has earned the endorsements of some of Hollywood’s blockbuster filmmakers. James Gunn and Scott Derrickson, who have each helmed Marvel movies, have heaped their praise on “RRR” since it began streaming.

The “RRR” success has come while Netflix is reeling from subscriber loss and a stock decline, a downturn that has thrown its movie model into debate. But one less disputable aspect of Netflix’s platform is its ability to foster non-English global hits. “RRR” comes in the wake of global series hits like the Korean “Squid Game” and France’s “Lupin.” Theatrical-first movies like the South Korean best-picture-winning “Parasite” have already toppled what director Bong Joon Ho has called “the one-inch barrier” of subtitles.

“Frankly, I didn’t expect this kind of reception from the West,” says Rajamouli. “In the country and across the Indian diaspora all over the world is what we expected. But the reception from the West was a complete surprise for me. I always thought that Western sensibilities are different from my kind of films. I mostly cater to Eastern or Indian sensibilities.”

But while “RRR” has certain effects-heavy Hollywood characteristics that make it not so dissimilar from a superhero movie, it’s deeply ingrained in Indian myth and present-day circumstances. “RRR” stands for “Rise Roar Revolt” but it also refers to Rajamouli and his two stars, N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan. They’re each from movie-star dynasties that have previously been more like rivals. This is Charan and Rao’s first film together, which is a little like a meeting of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, if they were also the sons of Marlon Brando and James Dean.

They play real-life Indian revolutionaries Alluri Sitarama Raju (Charan) and Komaram Bheem (Rao) who team up in 1920s British-controlled India. In returning to the origins of modern-day India, “RRR” inevitably relates to today’s India, where, like in many other countries in recent years, nationalism has been on the rise. Since being elected in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emboldened India’s Hindu majority, sometimes at the expense of its Muslim minority.

Rajamouli, 48, has risen as one of the country’s biggest name directors over the same time period. He launched his two-part “Baahubali” epic in 2015. Its 2017 sequel ranks as the country’s biggest box-office smash. (Both are also streaming on Netflix.) But the political subtext of those films some have found troubling.

“In ‘Baahubali,’ even though it seems to have no connection with the political present, what it foregrounds is a muscular form of Hinduism, which is the worst manifestation of the right-wing nationalism,” says Rini Bhattacharya Mehta, a University of Illinois professor who has written several books on Indian cinema. “Jingoist, nationalistic Hindu machismo. In the story, it’s projected into the mythological past.”

“Baahubali” was a Telugu triumph that signaled that Tollywood in India’s South had perhaps surpassed Bollywood as the country’s top movie factory. In “RRR,” the most expensive Telugu film ever made with a budget of $72 million, Rajamouli is juggling both Telugu traditions and Bollywood song-and-dance aesthetics in what Mehta considers a Pan-Indian movie. Muslim characters appear, although not in primary roles.

“RRR” in this way may not be so different from American blockbusters. This summer’s top film in the U.S., “Top Gun: Maverick,” also doesn’t skimp on muscular jingoism. Rajamouli has heard the critics but disagrees with their interpretations.

“I understand that point of view. Sometimes, I feel they’re just being blind,” he said. “Personally, I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in god. I don’t believe in any religion. But I understand the power of spiritualism. For me, spiritualism is an emotion. And I write stories filled with emotions.” (AP)
Categories: Philippines News

Baidu unveils latest autonomous electric vehicle: Apollo RT6

Fri, 2022-07-22 18:45
BAIDU, a Chinese search engine and artificial intelligence firm, unveiled its latest electric autonomous driving vehicle on July 21.

The Apollo RT6 will soon be part of Baidu’s robotaxi fleet, as China pushes forward with its autonomous driving ambitions. It is a fully electric vehicle with a steering wheel that can be removed or installed when required, and will cost 250,000 yuan ($37,000) per unit.

“This massive cost reduction will enable us to deploy tens of thousands of autonomous vehicles across China,” Robin Li, co-founder and chief executive officer of Baidu, said at the firm’s Baidu World conference Thursday.

“We are moving towards a future where taking a robotaxi will be half the cost of taking a taxi today.”

Baidu already runs Apollo Go, an autonomous ride-hailing service using self-driving robotaxis with safety staff seated in the driver or passenger seat. It has launched Apollo Go in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, although the service is limited to specific areas.

The RT6 also attained the industry’s Level 4 out of five possible levels of technology. That means its systems can operate without a driver but must be pre-loaded with a detailed map, thus limiting the areas where the vehicles can operate.

Lower levels of technology range from cruise control, a feature that has been available for decades, up to Level 3, which allows hands-free highway driving. Self-driving robot carts already are widely used in factories, warehouses and other tightly controlled settings.

The Apollo RT6 was designed specifically with autonomous driving in mind, compared to previous generations where the technology was retrofitted on conventional vehicles, the company said.

The steering wheel-free design allows more space for the installation of extra seating or other additions, even a gaming console or vending machine.

Baidu is best known for its search engine and online advertising services, but in recent years has invested heavily in autonomous driving and artificial intelligence technology, including automated personal assistants and AI chips.

China aspires to lead autonomous driving technology globally but lags the U.S. in introducing such services. Alphabet’s Waymo began offering driverless taxi services in Phoenix, Arizona in 2020. (AP)
Categories: Philippines News

Ayame Seaside Tales redefines Japanese cuisine experience

Fri, 2022-07-22 18:44
Japanese restaurants typically are reminiscent of the traditional aesthetics of Japanese home interior, with dark-paneled wood panes enclosing the space adorned with incandescent light fixtures and rustic decorations.

At Ayame Seaside Tales, a charming ocean-view restaurant, these conventions are elevated.

Meal times become a quick getaway with the comfort of the sea breeze engulfing customers. Ayame Seaside Tales’ ambiance is as refreshing as the food it offers.

Ayame Seaside Tales serve authentic Japanese food with a local twist. One of its signature dishes is the Cebu Maki, an inventive twist to the Japanese staple that uses Cebu’s famous mangoes with fresh salmon and lime, wrapped in a generous layer of seasoned rice.

Among its other specialties is the Agedashi Tofu which is a deep fried bean curd slathered in umami sauce, perfect for those with strict diets. For salad lovers, the Lomi Salmon Salad is a must-try dish with its savory marinated salmon.

A Japanese feast wouldn’t be complete without ramen, of course. Ayame’s ramen best seller is its Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen in rich and creamy sauce with pork broth served with thin slices of Chashu pork belly.

You also shouldn’t miss out on Ayame’s very own take on Gyoza dumplings. It makes use of premium Angus Beef as the filling. Along with the classic crunchy Ebi Tempura and scrumptious Katsu Don served with sunny side up eggs and rice, diners will definitely have a delightful and hearty experience.

If one can’t choose from its offered a la carte meals and would want a little taste of everything, its bento meals will for sure sate one’s cravings.

The restaurant is located at the blithe shores of Il Corso Lifemalls and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Categories: Philippines News

P4-M marijuana plants uprooted in Toledo; P150,000 shabu seized

Fri, 2022-07-22 17:53
UP TO P4 million worth of marijuana plants were uprooted by joint operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA 7) and the Cebu Police Provincial Office in Sitio Hikapon, Barangay General Climaco, Toledo City, midwest Cebu 8:30 a.m. Friday, July 22, 2022.

The police trekked for three hours before they reached the secluded area in Sitio Hikapon where around 10,000 fully grown marijuana plants amounting to P4 million were planted.

Leia Alcantara, information officer of PDEA 7, said the suspected owners of marijuana plants, Richard Cañaleso and his younger Caloy, however, eluded arrest.

Alcantara said they put the Cañaleso siblings under surveillance for three weeks after receiving information from a concerned citizen about the marijuana plantation in the area.

Charges for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, are now being readied against the suspects.

Meanwhile, seven drug personalities were arrested and more than P150,000 worth of shabu were confiscated in separate operations in Cebu City and Sibulan town in Negros Oriental on Thursday, July 21, 2022.

In Ponce 1 compound, Barangay Carreta, Cebu City, four persons were arrested by PDEA in a raid around 1:40 p.m., namely, drug den maintainer Manuel Sotelliza, 69; drug den employee Antonieta Gonzaga, 28; and drug den visitors Jimmy Allarse, 34, and Wilfredo Camanceli, Jr., 29, a jeepney driver.

Seized during the raid were 13 packs of shabu weighing 10 grams with a street value of P68,000.

At 3:15 p.m., the PDEA agents in Negros Oriental dismantled a drug den and arrested three drug suspects in Purok 6, Barangay Cangmating.

Those arrested were Junjun Bahinting, 25, alleged drug den operator; Abraham Asaral, 36, construction worker and drug den maintainer; and drug den visitor nga Dave Calingacion, 33.

Seized from them were 10 sachets of shabu weighing 13 grams with a standard drug price of P88,400. (AYB, TPT)

Categories: Philippines News

2 brothers nabbed in Naga checkpoint charged

Fri, 2022-07-22 16:29
CASES have been filed against the two motorcycle-riding men who were arrested by police during a brief chase after avoiding a checkpoint in Barangay South Poblacion, Naga City, southern Cebu on Wednesday at 9:45 p.m., July 20, 2022.

William Cabigas Lapasaran, 42, of Barangay Zaragosa, Aloguinsan town, midwest Cebu, and his brother Roel, 36, will face charges for illegal possession of firearms, disobedience and violating traffic laws.

Lieutenant Colonel Junnel Caadlawon, chief of Naga Police Station, told SunStar Cebu that they filed the cases against the siblings on Friday afternoon, July 22, 2022.

Caadlawon said that William, driver of Yamaha Mio i125 scooter, along with his brother as backrider, were on their way to Cebu City from Aloguinsan when they retreated upon seeing the checkpoint.

The Lapasaran siblings were finally arrested during a chase that reached San Fernando town.

Seized from them were a 380 pistol with six live bullets, .45 pistol and their motorcycle. (GPL, TPT)

Categories: Philippines News

Top performing schools recognized in Rafi Seed Grants Expo

Fri, 2022-07-22 16:27
RAMON Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi), through its Education Development Unit (EDU), recognized on Friday, July 22, the 10 “outstanding” public elementary and secondary schools in Cebu as part of the culminating activity of its Seed Grants Expo 2022.

Representatives from the “outstanding schools” presented their recent accomplishments, projects, best practices, and improvements that were made possible through a grant from Rafi.

The grant was given to support the schools in promoting education development in their respective communities through knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and cross-learning.

In her opening remarks, Amaya Aboitiz-Fansler, Rafi president and CEO, expressed her gratitude to everyone involved in the program.

"So I just want everyone to be recognized and wish you all the very best as kids come back and there will be a lot of challenges along the way, but the feeling of seeing the kids back in the classroom, back in the school is amazing," Aboitiz-Fansler said.

"We in the Rafi and the education team are committed to supporting the education system, to continue in creating opportunities like these, where we come together and share ideas, where we continue to build partnerships and we aim to work with you to continue to strengthen the capacity of our schools. So you are all essential to this process and we will never succeed without you," Aboitiz-Fansler added.

Among the presenters Friday was Pit-os Elementary School of Carcar City, which received a P1.5-million grant for its Project Sug-ang (Surfeit Understanding on Good and Appropriate Nutrition on Graders) and Project United (Uplifting and Nurturing Individuals through Technological Empowerment and Development).

Project Sug-ang aimed to prevent malnourishment and undernourishment among its students for school year 2021-2022, while Project United’s goal was to increase digital literacy of Grades 3 to 6 pupils from 10 percent to 30 percent by June 2022.

"We want to make sure that the competencies that we will be teaching to our students are anchored to their level so that our students will be able to learn the desired competencies," Debie Satinitigan said in her video message.

Satinitigan was part of the teaching staff of Pit-os Elementary School that managed Project United.

For the secondary category, Compostela National High School of Compostela, Cebu received P1.5-million grant for being the top performing school last year.

The grant was used to implement its Project Raise (Resources and Instruction Sustaining Education), which aimed to minimize the number of non-readers from 112 to 80 students by 2022.

It was in May 2021 when Rafi awarded the grants to the 10 performing schools in Cebu under its Seal of Excellence in Education Development (Seed) Awards, an assessment program that used evidence-based scorecards to give out grants for education development.

The 10 performing public elementary and secondary schools are the following:

Elementary Category

1st Place: Pit-os Elementary School, Carcar City (Project Sug-ang and Project United) with P1.5-million grant

2nd Place: Bogo Central School 2, Bogo City (Implementing of Digital-Learning Facilities and Services Project), P1 million grant

3rd Place: Sinsin Elementary School, Cebu City (Tambayayong Program) with P500,000 grant

4th Place: Carmen Elementary School, Toledo City (Dare to Dear Program) with P200,000 grant

5th Place: Cordova Central School, Cordova (Creative Articulation and Reading Enhancement Center) with P200,000 grant

Secondary Category:

1st Place: Compostela National High School, Compostela (Project Raise) with P1.5-million grant

2nd Place: Don Andres Soriano National High School, Toledo City (Research Study Center) with P1-million grant

3rd Place: Liburon National High School, Naga City (Project 5 Ps) with P500,000 grant

4th Place: Uling National High School, Naga City (Reading Enthusiast towards Achieving Dreams) with P200,000 grant

5th Place: Binabag National High School, Bogo City (Digitalized Classroom Instruction) with P200,000 grant

The Rafi Seed Grants Expo is an annual data gathering, monitoring, evaluating, and awards event that aims to increase the number of high performing public schools in the region by engaging, mobilizing, and capacitating school communities and at the same time promoting best practices by featuring local initiatives. (EHP)

Categories: Philippines News

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