President Duterte names former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama a drug protector

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier today named former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama as one of the country’s drug protectors, along with several judges, politicians, and police officials.

Duterte read the names during the wake in Davao City of soldiers killed in an encounter with the New People’s Army.

In a post on his official Facebook page, Rama said he will fully cooperate with authorities to clear his name.

“The news that my name was mentioned by President Duterte is saddening. Even how untrue this accusation is, should this be the way and the necessary step to win the war against drugs, I will fully cooperate with the authorities to immediately clear my name. My unwavering support for President Duterte’s campaign will continue. My family and I have always been law-abiding citizens and have been very clear about our stand against drugs. May justice prevail and the truth set us free. God bless Cebu and God bless the Philippines,” Rama said in his post.

Duterte also named Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog as a drug protector along with former Marawi City mayor Omar Solitario Ali, whom he described as a personal friend.

Mike Rama President Duterte
MIKE RAMA. The former mayor was linked to drugs by President Duterte. (Photo taken from Mike Rama’s Facebook page)

“Magkaibigan tayo,” Duterte said, but “either I read all or I read none. Trabaho ko ito.” He said the list came from the military and police and he had it validated and re-validated, especially after reading the names of mayors that he knew.

“You are working for the government and you allowed yourself to be used,” Duterte said in his speech that lasted into the early hours of today. “You destroyed the country. There are now 600,000 Filipinos who are addicts – pushers and users. That is treason.”

He again named Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot, a retired police general, as well as former Cebu City police intelligence branch head Supt. Romeo Santander as among the protectors.

Duterte said that police officials whom he named are relieved of their assignments and ordered to report to PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa within 24 hours or else he will ask the “entire armed forces to hunt you.”

He also ordered police and military assigned to the mayors he named relieve of duty and to report to their mother unit. Otherwise, he said, “I will whack you. I will dismiss you from service.”

Duterte said the drugs problem worsened to its current magnitude because government officials were into it.

After the announcement, Rama’s political rival and incumbent Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña posted on Facebook, “And guess who he named? And Team Rama’s social media trolls kept trying to make it look like I was the drug protector?”

Here’s the PTV video of the President’s speech.


Cebu News Roundup for Feb. 23, 2016: Rama declines challenge to debate with Tomas; Cebu hosts next presidential debate; Garcia mulls charges vs. Davide

This is the roundup of top news stories today, Feb. 23, 2016.

WHY SHOULD I? Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama says there's no need for a debate between him and Tomas Osmena.
WHY SHOULD I? Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama says there’s no need for a debate between him and Tomas Osmena.

Rama turns down Tomas’ debate challenge.

SHORT of declaring himself a sure winner, Cebu City mayor Mike Rama says there’s no need for him to engage in a debate with rival Tomas Osmena, saying a debate is usually for presidential bets only.

“Don’t equate me with presidential (candidates) because in the presidential (elections), all of them are candidates for president. They have not become president. Me, I have become a mayor and this is my second term as a mayor. So, therefore dili ma pareha,” Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama

“I hope this happens, although I am doubtful. I am willing to go to any debate on five minutes’ notice. No notes, no preparation required. No questions are off limits. Full transparency.” former mayor Tomas Osmeña in a Facebook post.


UP Cebu to use different format in second presidential debate

Cebu City will host the next presidential debate on March 20 at the University of the Philippines Cebu and organizers promised a new format.

Organizers will also hold a voters’ education campaign at 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. before the debate, which will start at 5 p.m. Only 300 people will be allowed inside the Performance Arts Hall of UP Cebu but the area outside the venue can accomodate up to 1,500.

“It would be different here. Even the topics given by the Comelec are different, which will include Climate Change, education, women’s rights, and health, among others, are different from that in Cagayan de Oro City.” UP Cebu Dean Liza Corro.


Winston eyes graft charges vs. Davide, Magpale

ONE Cebu gubernatorial candidate Winston Garcia is planning to file charges against Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale for the alleged misuse of the Typhoon Yolanda funds. Garcia said the donation and relief goods were used for politicking as these were distributed in unaffected areas.

Davide denied the charges.

“Why should you listen to that Garcia? All he does is bark and bluff.” Gov. Hilario Davide III.



Other Cebu news:

Sun.Star Cebu: 150 families lose home in Mandaue blaze

Sun.Star Cebu: Slain suspect’s kin accuses cops of shooting Oyao in cold blood

Sun.Star Cebu: CICC too unstable to be used as satellite check-in for MCIA

Sun.Star Cebu: Judge allows residents to re-build in UP lot

Freeman: Rama wants better coordination in demolitions

Cebu Daily News: PNP honors slain intelligence officer

Cebu Daily News: Capitol to grant retroactive increase to workers

Cebu Daily News: Ouano family dispel rumors on patriarch’s death, asks for prayers

Cebu Daily News: Sen. Trillanes vow to stop drug menace in Cebu in just six months


Cebu Business News.

Sun.Star Cebu: Business leaders want issues, not mud-slinging, in next presidential debate

The Freeman: Slow process derails world bank-funded rural development projects

The Freeman: Exporters urged to maintain online presence to retain competitive edge

Cebu Daily News: New group in Cebu hopes to fund local startups

Cebu Daily News: SM Prime Holdings reports 54 percent growth in 2015


Cebu Sports News

Sun.Star Cebu: Motor Ace Philippines puts up pro team to help athletes with potential

The Freeman: ERCO wins third straight men’s open crown in Thirsty Cup

Sun.Star Cebu: Undefeated Tepora hopes to break into world rankings



Cebu News Digest: Rama wants new route for Sinulog; construction work on BRT to start this year

Here’s what you need to know this Friday morning, January 22, 2016:

Rama wants to move Sinulog grand parade to North Reclamation Area starting next year

To disperse the millions-strong Sinulog crowd, suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama wants the Sinulog Grand Parade held at the North Reclamation Area starting in 2017.

Sinulog North Reclamation Area
GRAND PARADE. Suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who is also the chairperson of the Sinulog Foundation, Inc., wants to move the grand parade to the North Reclamation Area starting next year to disperse the huge crowd. (Photo by Daniel Ybañez used with permission of the Sinulog Foundation, Inc.)


Rama also wants a 50,000-seater grandstand, much bigger than the current venue at the Cebu City Sports Center which can comfortably seat 8,000, but could be packed up to 10,000.

“There will be seats for free and there will be some for a fee. It all depends on how it will be arranged. I think it’s about time to transfer because of the number of people that are coming for the Sinulog.”
Suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama


Work on BRT to start this year

Construction work on the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will start by the end of the year. First phase of the P10.6-billion project will start on Osmeña Blvd since this area will not require purchasing land, said BRT project manager Atty. Rafael Christopher Yap.

Yap said the detailed engineering design for the project is about to be completed. He said, however, that they will need to apply for an exemption from the election ban on projects in order to move on with the work.

Construction of bus stops, stations and other civil works as well as the selection of the system manager and bidding and awarding of service contracts will be completed in the next two years, Sun.Star Cebu reported.

“The year 2015 was a year of development while 2016 will be a year of implementation.”
Atty. Rafael Christopher Yap, BRT project manager

The first phase of the BRT project will cover the Bulacao to Ayala Center Cebu route. The second phase will cover the area from Ayala to Talamban.


Water interruption expected in Cebu

The MCWD advised its consumers that there is going to be water interruption in some areas for two days in preparation for the IEC. MCWD is holding upgrading works for two days from Mandaue City to areas in Talisay.


Cebu will have to wait for fare cut: LTFRB

Commuters in Cebu will have to wait for a reduction in jeepney fare even if Manila already implemented a P.50 cut starting today.

With fuel prices at their lowest in 12 years, LTFRB Regional Director Reynaldo Elnar said the P1 fare reduction petition filed by Rep. Manuel Iway of Negros Oriental may be granted.


Cebu Daily News: LTFRB 7 to discuss fare reduction on Jan. 27 conference


Other Cebu News Headlines

» Sun.Star Cebu: Woman who kidnapped baby told: Leave BF, love yourself


» Sun.Star Cebu: Rama’s lawyer questions integrity of DILG 7 in suspension case


» The Freeman: Two women shot after prison visit


» The Freeman: Man who accused Gullas of mauling seeks help from Mayor JVR


» Cebu Daily News: Participant says joining IEC is a rare blessing


Cebu Business News

» Sun.Star Cebu: Going paperless leads to delay in processing of Pag-Ibig loans


» Sun.Star Cebu: Group encourages Pinoys to travel and take advantage of four-month school break due to Academic school year transition


» The Freeman: Boost for Roxas? Expert says change in government to affect PHL business sector


» The Freeman: Exporters hopes government keep word on access to financing


» Cebu Daily News: Group offers tour packages to encourage Pinoys to travel despite security concerns


» Cebu Daily News: Capitol earns P9.3 million from property dividends


Cebu Sports News

» Sun.Star Cebu: Cebuano basketball experts laud SBP for winning Olympic hosting job


» The Freeman: Omega Pro launches own elite triathlon team, presents former members of Alaska TriAspire


» Cebu Daily News: SMB coach willing to ‘lose’ one title in favor of Fajardo’s health



Facebook post leads to taxi driver’s suspension; 5T cops to secure Sinulog, IEC; PNP orders transfer of 3 chiefs in Cebu

Here’s what you need to know this morning of Tuesday, January 12, 2016:

Taxi driver accused of demanding P2,000 from passenger

A viral post over Facebook led to the suspension of a taxi driver, who allegedly demanded P2,000 from a passenger whose child vomited inside his cab.

Bebanio Dapal Jr., a driver for 3 years for Catz Taxi, was suspended by his employer after the post of his passenger got viral.

“Niingon ra ko nga naa ra bay bayranan nga P2,000 kung mahugawan. Wala ko mangayo, nisulti ra ko (I said there’s a P2,000 payment if the taxi got dirty. I didn’t ask; I only mentioned it.)”
Bebanio Dapal Jr., according to Cebu Daily News.

Aside from the suspension from his employer, Dapal Jr., will face a probe from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. The LTFRB also noted there’s no law that allows PUV drivers to charge fines or penalties from passengers.


VIRAL COMPLAINT. Photos on the incident as posted on Facebook. (From Cebu Flash Report FB page)
VIRAL COMPLAINT. Photos on the incident as posted on Facebook. (From Cebu Flash Report FB page)


5,000 police officers to secure Sinulog, IEC

The Police Regional Office 7 will deploy 5,000 police officers to secure the Sinulog and the 51st International Eucharistic Congress.

PRO 7 said 3,000 to 4,000 will secure the Sinulog, while they will get an additional 1,000 from other police units to help secure the week-long IEC.

Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, the deputy director for operations in PRO 7, said the augmentation personnel will start arriving on Thursday.



3 new police chiefs named in Cebu

The Philippine National Police barely beat the deadline on the transfer of police personnel before the election period. Senior Supt. Marciano Batiancela, the local executive’s choice as the Cebu City Police Office chief, was relieved in favor of Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos of the office of PNP Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr.; Senior Supt. Noel Gillamac of the Cebu Provincial Police Office, Supt. Jilian Entoma of the Mandaue City Police Office, and Regional Public Safety Batallion Commander Senior Supt. Cliffored Gairanod were also transferred.

Supt. Marcel Dayag replaces Gillamac, who was told to report to PRO 7., while Senior Supt. Jonatahan Agdamag Cabal, of the office of the PNP Chief, takes over in Mandaue.

Suspended Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama is unhappy with the changes and criticized the move.

“This is a manifestation of martial law. At least with martial law, there was a proclamation. I can’t understand the political mechanism they go through.”
Suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama


Sinulog 2016 stories


Cebu headlines January 12, 2016
CEBU HEADLINES. The front pages of Cebu’s newspapers today, January 12, 2016.


Other Cebu News Headlines

» Sun.Star Cebu: Cops nab 11 for drugs as checkpoints start for election period


» Sun.Star Cebu: NBI 7 rescues 17-year-old Cebuana in Laguna bar


» Sun.Star Cebu: UP Cebu obtains TRO vs. re-blocking 3 days after Cebu City completes re-blocking of fire-damaged property


» Cebu Daily News: Ex-prosecutor’s GF released from jail, seeks help from Witness Protection Program


» Cebu Daily News: Tudela criticizes DPWH for delay in P40-million road project


Cebu Business News

» Sun.Star Cebu: Despite negative publicity, Montero dealer expects 15 percent growth this year


» Sun.Star Cebu: Pag-ibig plans to keep 6.5 interest under three-year price scheme


» The Freeman: Community begins to feel economic impact of newly-opened malls


» The Freeman: Young entrepreneur invests P4 million in new Mexican-Korean restaurant


» Cebu Daily News: Mitsubishi shows off new Montero sport


» Cebu Daily News: PhilExport Cebu tells exporters to be cautious, develop better trade relations with international buyers


Cebu Sports News

» Sun.Star Cebu: Olympic hopeful Mary Joy Tabal gets a break after IAAF lowers women’s marathon qualifying time from 2:42 to 2:45


» The Freeman: Cebuano Enriquez joins top bets in quarterfinal round of Peugeot Philippine Open Cebu leg


» Cebu Daily News: Cebuano June Mar Fajardo leads San Miguel to series-equalizing win vs. Globalport in PBA semis

News Politics

Top Cebu news stories in 2015: politics heats up, traffic worsens, Cebu pulls off successful APEC hosting, economy continues strong growth

With 2016 being an election year, local politicians started bracing for a showdown and jockeying for positions in 2015. Alliances were forged, strengthened, and, for some, broken.

The year saw political discord worsen at the Cebu City Hall with conflict breaking out over issues ranging from the South Road Properties to the budget. The year ended dramatically with Mayor Michael Rama getting suspended for 60 days and the City Council deadlocked over the supplemental budget.

It was a year that saw Cebu successfully hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) 3. It was also a year marked by the Cebu economy hitting its stride with real estate and tourism going strong and retail getting a boost with the opening of two big malls.

2015, however, was also the year when traffic seemed worsened to such a state that people have been complaining loudly, mostly on social media. It was also in 2015 that smaze – that horrible combination of smoke and haze from forest fires in Indonesia – blanketed Cebu and other parts of Visayas and Mindanao.

Here are the top 10 news stories of Cebu in 2015:

Mayor Rama rides jeepney
RIDING A JEEPNEY. Mayor Michael Rama talks to fellow jeepney passengers after starting to serve his suspension. (Taken from Mayor Rama’s Facebook Page)

1) Cebu politics heats up: Rama, other Cebu officials suspended; political violence reported in Dumanjug

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama was suspended in December for 60 days on a complaint filed by Labangon Barangay Captain Victor Buendia over the mayor’s decision to demolish a center island that he approved of in the first place.

Rama decried the suspension as being politically motivated and said in a dramatic gathering at City Hall that he was being crucified for being a member of the opposition. He denied approving the center island project in Labangon and stressed that the order to clear it was legal. He also filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals.

Suspended Mayor Michael Rama, on bended knees, said he was crucified.

Posted by The Freeman reporter Jean Marvette Demecillo on Thursday, December 10, 2015

In August, Cebu City Councilor Mary Ann Delos Santos announced what had been rumored for some time: that she is now with the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) of former mayor Tomas Osmeña. She blamed “bullying” and betrayal by Team Rama colleagues for her decision. (READ: Mary Ann Delos Santos joins BOPK )

Erstwhile allies but now bitter rivals Rama and Osmeña will face off again in 2016. In 2013, Rama won over Osmeña by a razor-thin margin of 6,367 votes out of close to 500,000 voters.

The Team Rama-BO-PK rivalry at the Cebu City Council sizzled in 2015, culminating in a year-end squabble over a supplemental budget that saw 4 failed attempts at mustering a quorum to vote on the P2.8-billion measure. (READ: Sun.Star Cebu: Goodbye, SB 1, both sides say)


Other Cebu officials who were suspended in 2015 included Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia for 6 months over the appointment of the town council secretary; Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza and Provincial Board Member Celestino “Tining” Martinez III over the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds of former congresswoman Clavel Martinez; and 5 Alegria town councilors for not attending sessions.

On December 4, armed men ambushed the group of Dumanjug Vice Mayor Efren “Gungun” Gica, who is running for mayor against Garcia, and his vice mayoralty bet Rene Asentista.

Dumanjug ambush
The vehicle of vice mayoralty bet Rene Asentista after the ambush. (Photo taken from the Facebook page of Dumanjug Vice Mayor Efren Gica)

Police later arrested 3 suspects. Garcia, on the other hand, dismissed the incident as staged.

“This could be a move to put the town in the list of election hotspots or to gain sympathy or divert the issue away from the issuance of an arrest warrant against the vice mayor for malversation.” – Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia.



2) Cebu pulls off successful hosting of APEC

Delegates who attended the more than 60 APEC meetings held in Cebu had a pleasant experience, according to a top official. Cebu hosted the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM 3) and Related Meetings as well as ministerial conferences, from August to October.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario said the APEC members had a “very pleasant impression” of Cebu. Those who attended the meeting were not only feted but also taken to themed tours of tourist attractions in the province.

A highlight of the Cebu hosting was the signing of the Cebu Declaration, where energy officials from the 21 economies of APEC set out policies and programs related to energy, including climate-proofing, resiliency, regional connectivity, green investments, among others.

Apec Cebu
APEC IN CEBU. Dancers perform to welcome Apec delegates in Cebu.

APEC Cebu Organizing Committee Overall Chair Lito Maderazo credited cooperation by Cebu residents as well as its public and private sectors for the successful hosting of the event. Organizers implemented an extended truck ban and closed some roads to make way for delegates.

“In fact, the delegates made a byword for us, Unforgettably Cebu,” Maderazo told Sun.Star Cebu.

In the days leading to the meetings, however, there was a minor kerfuffle over the steep increase in rates of hotels in Cebu.

“They are upset… ‘Why is Cebu doing this? Please don’t treat us like tourists.’ The delegates are coming here for a meeting that’s very important. Please don’t kill it.” – DFA Undersecretary Laura del Rosario del Rosario talking about delegates’ complaint on hotel rates in Cebu during a briefing for government information officers and media, as quoted by Sun.Star Cebu


3) Smaze blankets Cebu

A combination of smoke and haze blanketed parts of southern Philippines, including Cebu, in October. The smaze were said to have come from forest fires in Indonesia that were deliberately set to clear areas for agriculture. It was blown into the Philippines by winds brought by Typhoon Lando.

The smaze in Cebu worsened to a point that health and environment officials issued a warning for people with respiratory diseases to stay indoors. Those who had to go out were told to wear masks.

Smaze or smoke and haze over Cebu.
Smaze or smoke and haze over Cebu.



4) Cebu economy continues to grow

Cebu is likely to grow higher in 2015 compared with the previous year, officials said. “Generally, it was a good year for Cebu, better than it was last year,” National Economic and Development Authority 7 Director Efren Carreon told Sun.Star Cebu.

Underpinning the growth were the key sectors of tourism, real estate and business process management.


Tourism: Central Visayas arrivals in the first 10 months of 2015 were 4.2 percent higher than in the same period in 2014 at 3.5 million. Cebu accounted for most of the tourist arrivals at 64% of domestic tourists and 84% of foreign arrivals.

BPO: Industry now accounts for 120,000 employees, according to records of the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-IT). It continues to be one of the strongest economic drivers in 2015, said Cedf-IT executive director Jun Sa-a.

Real Estate: There were fewer construction projects in the first half of 2015, according to NEDA 7 records. The decline, however, was because of the surge of projects as part of the reconstruction effort in 2014 after the 2013 earthquake and Supertyphoon Yolanda. This year, however, at least 860 new residential and office buildings will rise in Cebu in 2016, based on permits approved by the Cebu City Office of the Building Official

Exports: The industry is still sluggish and is seen to contract in 2015. “Cebu, which for accounts two percent of the country’s total exports, dropped by nine percent from January to September. It’s a negative growth for Cebu’s export industry,” Philexport Cebu President Nelson Bascones told Sun.Star Cebu.


5) Metro Cebu traffic worsens

Cebu traffic is a “nightmare,” Chi-Kuo Lin of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications of Chinese Taipei said during the APEC meetings in Cebu. Traffic gridlock in Metro Cebu has exacerbated in 2015 with the confluence of unfinished road works and the increased number of vehicles.

Cebu loses P2 billion to P3 billion every day due to traffic, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Donato Busa told Sun.Star Cebu.

Cebu traffic mess
Cebu imploding from traffic mess, The Freeman warned in an editorial.

To ease congestion, Mandaue City implemented one-way traffic on 2 roads in its central area, which helped ease the gridlock a bit.

Experts point to mass transportation as solution to the traffic mess but the planned Bus Rapid Transit or BRT system that is set to be implemented in Cebu still has to start civil works. By yearend of 2015, however, MyBus units started to ply the SM City Seaside to SM City Cebu route and, to help address the lack of taxi units, extended to the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

The 3rd Mactan bridge or the Cebu-Cordova Bridge moved closer to being built with the issuance of the notice of award to the Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp. The bridge is seen to help decongest traffic.


6) SM Seaside City, Robinsons Galleria Cebu open

Two big malls opened weeks apart in Cebu to a packed and traffic-jammed inaugural. SM Seaside City at the South Road Properties is the biggest mall in Visayas and Mindanao with a floor area of 430,000 square meters. When it opened on November 27, thousands packed the mall and caused a monstrous traffic jam that extended late at night.

Robinsons Galleria Cebu, meanwhile, opened on December 10 on General Maxilom Ave. near the port area in Cebu City. The mall is the chain’s biggest outside Metro Manila and marks a homecoming of sorts for John Gokongwei, the tycoon who started his business empire from Cebu.

The 2 malls expand retail choices of consumers from the existing Ayala Center Cebu, SM City Cebu, Parkmall, JCentre Mall and SM Consolacion.

7) SRP accidents spur call for motorcycle ban, lower speed limit

A series of vehicular accidents at the South Road Properties spurred Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to threaten to close it, ban motorcycles and ultimately enforce a 40-kilometer per hour speed limit in the area.

SRP accident fire
SRP Accident. SRP accidents like this one, when a car went up in flames after hitting a motorcycle, has forced the City Government to impose strict safety measures at the area. (Photo by Jojo Abcede)

Traffic records in January 2015 showed that of the 1,617 accidents at the SRP, 592 involved motorcycles where 9 people died.

“I think it is about time that motorcycles should not even be allowed to pass that area. Kuyaw kaayo na nga area for a small motorcycle.”
— Mayor Michael Rama

Rama later ordered a 40kph at the SRP that, based on experience, seems to be no longer enforced.

READ MORE Mayor Rama to ban motorcycles from SRP

8) Cebu International Convention Center issue resurfaces

The controversy over the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) resurfaced in October when a banner was placed on the structure with the words, “Never Again.” That banner was replaced with another one that included the phrase “P840,202,438.05 million of people’s money wasted!!!”

The CICC was built during the term of former Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in 2007. It was damaged by the strong earthquake that hit parts of Cebu and Bohol in 2013.

This huge yellow banner with the words “NEVER AGAIN…” has surfaced at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC)…

Posted by The Freeman on Friday, October 23, 2015

Accusations were raised that the CICC was overpriced and charges were eventually filed. Garcia was spared from administrative liability because of her reelection in 2007 and 2010, under the Aguinaldo Doctrine that clears a public official of administrative liability when they are reelected to the post.

Nine others – 8 former Capitol officials and a lawyer – were dismissed by the Ombudsman in December, barred from holding public office and fined a year’s worth of salaries, deducted from their retirement credits. They were found liable for violating government procurement processes.


9) Fires raze parts of Cebu; warning out against refilling of butane canisters

The year ended with a tragic fire that razed 81 houses in Barangay Lahug. When the University of the Philippines moved to fence the area that it owns, an argument broke out between school and City officials.

Several fires broke out in areas all over Cebu in 2015. A worrying trend in the incidents, however, was the increasing reports of blazes started by the refilling of butane canisters with LPG or liquefied petroleum gas, a popular choice of fuel for cooking because it is cheap.

Sambag fire
Sambag fire. (Photo by Ryan Sorote of Aksyon TV 5)

A refilled butane canister was blamed for the fire that hit 31 houses in Barangay Cogon in Cordova on April 10, 2015. It was also blamed for the October fire that destroyed 8 houses in Barangay Mactan in Lapu-Lapu City and the July fire that hit a building in San Nicolas, Cebu City.

The Lapu-Lapu City Government is looking into banner the refilling of butane canisters as a way to prevent fires.


10) Crime in 2015: Pawnshop robbed; Chinese consulate officials killed

The MyGold pawnshop on Colon St. was robbed in April with armed men breaking into the store and grabbing jewelry and cash. A month later, one of the suspects would be arrested and identified by pawnshop workers. Initial police estimates indicated the robbers got P10 million in jewelry.

In March, a businesswoman was robbed at gunpoint in Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City of P7 million in cash and other valuables. The robbers, however, were caught hours after the incident.

In October, Chinese Deputy Consul Sun Shan and finance officer Hui Li were shot dead during a birthday luncheon in Lighthouse, a restaurant on Gen. Maxilom Avenue in Cebu City. Li Qing Ling, 60, and his wife, Consul Gou Jing, were taken into custody for the killing and later turned over to the Chinese Government. Police officials said security camera footage showed Li shooting the consulate officials.

Pearl Ungab
CHASED, RAMMED. Lawyer Jiecel Tiu said Pearl Ungab, the wife of Ronda Vice Mayor Jonah John Ungab, rammed her car and attacked her with a baseball bat. (Photo posed on Facebook by TV 5 reporter Ryan Sorote)

In September, 68 Chinese and Taiwanese citizens were arrested for online fraud and deported. The NBI also arrested 60 Japanese employees accused of working without permits at the Cebu IT Park.

In February, Pearl Ungab, the wife of Ronda Vice Mayor Jonah John Ungab, hogged the headlines when she was accused of attacking lawyer Jiecel Tiu with a baseball bat after ramming her car. Pearl accused Tiu of being her husband’s mistress.

In January 2015, photos of drunken Sinulog revelers sleeping on the streets as well as reports of boorish behavior led organizers to decide not to issue permits for street parties along the parade route in this year’s Sinulog.

PASSED OUT. They passed out after a night of heavy partying. These photos as well as reports of boorish behavior in stree parties spurred organizers not to issue permits for street parties in Sinulog 2016. (Photos posted on Facebook by Carlo Borromeo)
PASSED OUT. They passed out after a night of heavy partying. These photos as well as reports of boorish behavior in stree parties spurred organizers not to issue permits for street parties along the parade route in Sinulog 2016. (Photos posted on Facebook by Carlo Borromeo)




Workers ask for P145/day salary increase in Central Visayas: Cebu News Digest – July 14, 2015

A labor group filed a petition yesterday for an across the board P145 increase in the daily wage of Central Visayas workers.

The Cebu Labor Coalition (CELAC) filed the petition with the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) 7. The wage board last increased salaries in Central Visayas in November 2014, according to a Sun.Star Cebu report, when it issued an order for a P13 per day basic pay adjustment in Bohol and in 10 towns and 1 city in northern Cebu. It ordered companies in the rest of Central Visayas to incorporate an earlier P13 cost of living allowance into the basic pay of their employees.

“It is also about time for the wage board of Region 7 to assess and evaluate their failure to provide substantial and significant wage increase for the workers.” — CELAC said in its petition, according to Sun.Star Cebu.

CELAC said the wage board has been merely ordering “token” salary increases in the 26 years of its existence.

The minimum pay in Central Visayas ranges from P275 to P340, the fourth largest rate among 17 regions, according to Sun.Star Cebu.


Central Visayas salary increase
TOKEN INCREASES. The Cebu Labor Coalition accused the Central Visayas wage board of merely granting workers token pay increases. (Creative Commons Photo by Jocelyn Kelly)

Pope Francis won’t be able to attend IEC in Cebu

Pope Francis will not be able to attend the International Eucharistic Congress 2016 that will be held in Cebu City in January, according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

Villegas, in a report at the official CBCP website, also ruled out another papal.

“Let us give other countries the chance to see him. Because if we insist, it’s as if we’re being selfish because it will lessen his opportunities to visit other countries.” — Archbishop Socrates Villegas, as quoted by the official CBCP website.


Rama asks Citom to go after illegally parked motorcycles; Mandaue to clear roads of motor repair shops

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has asked the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management to clear narrow roads of illegally parked motorcycles. Rama said parking motorcycles anywhere violates the city’s traffic code and carries a fine of P1,500. Car owners face a fine of P2,500.

“Kanang mga areas nga naay allowable parking, okay ra na pero kon sa sidewalk, dakpon gyud na…I’m having CITOM to focus sa tibuok syudad asa ang naay mga side roads nga dakong space, naay nose in and nose out (parking scheme) dili kay mo-backing.” — Mayor Michael Rama, according to The Freeman

In neighboring Mandaue City, authorities are going after motor repair shops that block the sidewalks and force pedestrians to walk on the streets. A council resolution authorizing the crackdown was passed last Monday.

Councilor Jimmy Lumapas, who sponsored the resolution, said many of these shops are in Barangays Ibabao, Mantuyong and Guizo.


Ombudsman suspends 4 Highway Patrol Group policemen linked to killing of lawyer Noel Archival

The Office of the Ombudsman suspended 4 of 5 Highway Patrol Group (HPG) 7 policemen accused of killing lawyer Noel Archival and two of his companions in an ambush in Dalaguete last year.

Former HPG 7 director Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, former HPG 7 Special Operations Team chief Insp. Joselito Lerion, SPO4 Edwin Galan, and PO1 Alex Bacani have been suspended for six months without pay. Former HPG provincial chief Eduardo Mara was not included in the order because he has retired from government service, according to the ombudsman.

Iglesia, Lerion and Bacani are facing a multiple murder case for the killing of Archival, his aide Candido Miñoza and driver Alejandro Jayme. They also face a frustrated murder case for injuries sustained by Paolo Cortes, the sole person to survive the ambush. Galan was cleared by prosecutors.

“Considering that the pieces of evidence gathered by NBI-PNP Task Force Archival appear to be strongly indicative of the culpability of the respondents for grave misconduct…it is warranted that respondents be placed under preventive suspension for the duration of the case.” — read the order written by graft investigation and prosecution officer Myra Zipagan and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales

The policemen are fugitives and the subject of a nationwide manhunt by the National Bureau of Investigation.


Police go over the vehicle lawyer Noel Archival was riding when he was ambushed and killed in Dalaguete. (Photo by Mark Luzano)
Police go over the vehicle lawyer Noel Archival was riding when he was ambushed and killed in Dalaguete. (Photo by Mark Luzano)

Other Cebu News Headlines

»‘Overspeeding’ bus hits, kills still unidentified woman who crossed street in Cebu City

“The wheel’s skid mark on the road reached 16 meters; it wouldn’t have reached that far had the bus’s speed been under 40 kph.” — Citom Operations Division Chief Jonathan Tumulak, according to Sun.Star Cebu

» South Road Properties developers to hire drainage consultant to address flooding

» Cebu City closes Fuente Osmeña rotunda for facelift, upgrading in time for APEC, IEC

» Couple, 3 public school teachers lose P562,000 worth of gadgets, items in Balamban highway robbery

» Boy who studied on sidewalk, became social media phenomenon gets college scholarship

» NBI 7 charges Mactan airport customs examiner for allegedly stealing 100,000 yen from Japanese lawyer

» PB Member Sanchez asks courts to stop takeover of Bantay Radyo by CFI Cooperative

“I was aware the Garcias were interested in the radio stations.  But I’m just one person holding on.  There are nine of them in politics.” — Provincial Board Member Gigi Sanchez-Zaballero, according to Cebu Daily News

Cebu Business Headlines

» 40,000 foreign retirees in the Philippines, reports agency

» Diving accident that killed Korean won’t affect tourism: DOT 7 director

» Value of Central Visayas projects hit P13.7 billion in 2nd quarter: Board of Investments

» DTI orders ICC issuance within 3 days from filing


Man shot in IT Park; classes in Cebu suspended on certain APEC meeting dates; Korean divers still missing: Cebu News Digest for July 7, 2015

A shooting was reported early today in the IT Park in Lahug. Posts on Facebook by various users reported that the victim was shot in front of the i1 building. No other details were available as of the writing of this article but below are some posts on the incident. Some Facebook posters at the area said the victim was shot dead.

@IT Park…when we arrived a while ago i asked Jonas if IT park is as safe as Ortigas,he said yes..but when i saw this man just now,shot 󾓵󾓵󾓵_safe??i dont think so󾍁󾍁󾍁󾍁

Posted by Mylene Barral Alvaro on Monday, July 6, 2015

Here are the top Cebu news stories for July 7, 2015

3 Korean divers still missing

Rescuers failed to find Korean divers Baek Seung Kyoon, Heo Seung Yung, and Kim Eun yesterday, a day after they were reported missing while diving in Mactan Island in bad weather.

The Lapu-Lapu City Government has suspended the dive shop operations of New Grand Bleu Dive Resort, where the 3 stayed as guests.

“The City may have to require the dive shop to explain why the divers were allowed to go out to sea despite the bad weather.” — Andy Berame, Deputy Officer of the Lapu-Lapu City Disaster Management Office


Woman arrested for kidnapping 3-year-old boy

Genevieve Hope Galag, 25, was arrested yesterday for kidnapping a boy, 3, from Barangay Maguikay in Mandaue City. The boy, who was reported missing Thursday, was found Sunday playing with other children in Barangay Kamagayan, Cebu City.

Galag, a resident of Kamagayan, was identified by a witness as the one who took the boy, according to PO2 Girlee Echaluce of the Women and Children’s Protection Desk of Mandaue City Police Station 4. Two other suspects arrested earlier admitted to police they gave the boy to Galag.


Cebu steps up preparations for APEC meetings, classes to be suspended on certain dates

Top Cebu officials met yesterday to discuss the province’s hosting of key meetings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in August.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said they are considering suspending classes to help ease traffic during key meetings. While the dates aren’t set yet, he said “what is certain is that there will be days when classes will be suspended.”

Davide met with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza yesterday to discuss preparations for the meetings. Davide said they will ask the Department of Public Works and Highways to speed up road work, especially on key areas in Mandaue City, to help ease traffic in the metro.

“We are hosting a major international event so we should put our best foot forward.” — Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III


Other Cebu News Headlines

» Ombudsman clears Vice Governor Magpale in grave coercion, graft case over closure of Sugbu TV

» Cebu City deems Vice Ganda concert billboards indecent, takes them down

» Confessed MILF member admits killing 14-year-old, owns up plan to kill Cebu City Hall official

» Left alone in house, 8-year-old girl dies in fire

» Central Visayas still free of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, says health department

Cebu Business Headlines

» Japanese tourists to overtake Koreans as top visitors in Central Visayas in 2 years: DOT 7

» DTI to create program to help communities produce products for travel retail industry

» University of Cebu Medical Center (UCMed) opens Cardiovascular Center

» New condominium set to rise in Mactan Island


Tomas accuses Mayor Rama of bankrupting Cebu City; De los Reyes claims Rep. Gullas influencing students to enlist as Talisay voters: Cebu News Digest July 6, 2015

Politics is heating up in Cebu with elections less than a year away. In today’s news, former mayor Tomas Osmeña accused Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama of wasting government funds while Talisay City Mayor Johnny de los Reyes claimed 1st District Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas asked students of the University of Visayas, which his family owns, to register in Talisay City. He described it as “hakot” or busing potential voters.

Here are the top stories in Cebu today, July 6, 2015

Mayor Rama wasting government funds, says Tomas

Former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña took to his Facebook page yesterday to criticize erstwhile ally and political rival Mayor Michael Rama as having wasted government funds and causing the city to lose potential revenues by selling outright SRP lots.

SRP Tomas Osmeña, Michael Rama
SOUTH ROAD PROPERTIES. An aerial shot of the SRP that former mayor Tomas Osmeña posted along with his criticism of how Mayor Michael Rama has handled the project and the city’s finances. (Photo taken from Osmeña’s Facebook page)
Osmeña, who conceptualized the SRP project, said that when he stepped down, he left behind P2.4 billion in City Hall.

“Apan unsa may gihimo ni Rama? Wa magdugay, gihurot niya ang pundo nga akong gibilin. Diin man padung ang kwarta? Bisan giunsa pagpugong sa mga konsehal aron dili mausik ang pundo, gigasto niya ang dakung bahin niini sa daghang mga dili-importanteng butang.” — former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña in his Facebook post. (What did Rama do? He spent everything. Where did the money go? No matter how much the councilors tried to stop him from wasting funds, Rama spend a huge part of the money on unimportant things.)

“Sa pagbaligya sa SRP, parehas ra’g giputol-putol ni Rama ang punoan sa mangga nga atong gitanom. Karon hinoong tuiga ug sa mosunod nga 2 ka tuig, duna pa siya’y mapaabot nga halin sa SRP. Apan mag-unsa naman pod siya inig kahurot ini? Mamaligya nasab og yuta sa SRP hangtod wa nay mahabilin ini alang sa atong kaugmaon?” — Tomas Osmeña (In selling the SRP lots, Rama is liking cutting off the mango trees we planted. This year and in the next 2 years, he still has revenues coming from the sale of the SRP lots. But what can we do when these are spent? Do we sell more SRP lots until none are left?


Talisay mayor accuses congressman Gullas of influencing UV students to sign up as Talisay voters

Talisay City Mayor Johnny de los Reyes has accused 1st District Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas of influencing students of the University of the Visayas, which is owned by the Gullas family, to sign up as Talisay voters.

De los Reyes, told Sun.Star Cebu, that they were surprised by the groups of students signing up at the City Election Office. He said that many of the students could not identify their barangays. He described this as “hakot” or busing in voters.

Gullas denied the allegation, which he described as offensive, and said the students merely sought his office’s help. Gullas manages UV’s basketball team and serves as assistant vice president for finance and administration.

“We have legal procedures to follow if he feels he has been offended by some UV students who would want to exercise their right of suffrage. To me, to forestall, at the least, or deny these students their political rights is offensive, if not irrational.” — Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas as quoted, by Sun.Star Cebu.


Weekend road accidents kill 4 persons, injure 5 in Cebu

Four people were killed in separate road accidents over the weekend in Toledo City and Argao and Dumanjug towns. A merchandise delivery truck fell into a river in Poog, Toledo City at past 11 a.m. Sunday, killing driver Oscar Layson and assistant Reymart Cañeza. The traffic investigator said the van’s brakes might have malfunctioned when Layson was traversing a curve.


Tragic homecoming in Pilar as survivors, dead arrive

Survivors of the Kim Nirvana-B sinking returned yesterday to Pilar, Camotes, their intended destination when the boat sank in bad weather on July 2. Coffins containing 45 bodies in white caskets were brought to the town by the BRP Batangas of the Philippine Coast Guard.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. told Sun.Star Cebu that 36 of the caskets remained in Pilar while 7 were taken to Tudela and one each to Poro and San Francisco.

Nirvana sinking
TRAGIC HOMECOMING. Workers bring to port one of the 45 caskets containing bodies of those who perished in the sinking last July 2. (Photo by Ryan Sorote of AksyonBisaya TV5)
The death toll in the accident is now at 61, with the retrieval Saturday night of 2 more bodies.


Other Cebu headlines:

» 3 Korean divers missing

Three Koreans were reported missing yesterday while diving in Mactan Island. The divers were identified as instructor Baek Seung Kyoon, 34, Heo Seung Yung, 45, and Kim Eun, 31. Rescuers had to stop operations at 6 p.m. because of the bad weather, Cebu Daily News reported.

» Sun.Star Cebu: Kidnapped 3-year-old found in Kamagayan

» Strong waves in Talisay destroy houses; residents flee

Read stories in Sun.Star Cebu, The Freeman, and Cebu Daily News.

» Sun.Star Cebu: Mayor Rama promises to resolve 93-1 lots issue before his term ends next year

Cebu Business Headlines

Sun.Star Cebu: With smallest insurance market in Asean5, Philippines ‘has room to grow’ for insurance

The Freeman: Brokerage warns real estate buyers against spurious developers

Sun.Star Cebu: Asean access opens huge market for gifts, decor and houseware sector


Cebu News Digest: Jan. 31, 2015: Rama wants to transfer City Hall to SRP; 75 tons of underwater garbage removed from SRP

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama wants to put up a government complex at the South Road Properties (SRP) and turn the current City Hall into a museum. Still at the SRP, a month-long cleanup has recovered 75 tons of garbage.

Meanwhile, City Hall is set to hold another bidding for the construction of the Cebu City Medical Center.

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Here are the top stories for today, January 31, 2015:

Cebu City Hall
VIEW FROM CITY HALL. The park near the Cebu City Hall. At upper left in the photograph is Compañia Maritima. Mayor Rama wants to transfer City Hall to a government complex he is planning to build at the South Road Properties and turn the current building into a “modern” museum.

Mayor Rama wants to move City Hall to SRP, turn current building into museum

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he is considering moving City Hall to the South Road Properties and building a complex there for government offices. Rama said he will then convert the current City Hall into a museum.

Rama directed SRP Management Office head Roberto Varquez to tap architects to plan and design a government complex at the SRP.

With no modern museums in Cebu City, the current City Hall building will be an ideal venue because of its proximity to historical landmarks like the Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, Basilica del Santo Niño, Plaza Independencia and Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

Rama said transferring City Hall to the SRP will also help decongest traffic in downtown Cebu City.

City Hall prepares for another bidding for new Cebu City Medical Center

The Cebu City Government is preparing documents for the rebidding for the construction of the new Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC). The new CCMC will be a 10-storey facility with 409 hospital beds.

City Hall is rebidding the construction after Mayor Michael Rama declared the previous bidding a failure. Rama wants the new bidding “to address issues raised pertaining to the initial bidding and to avoid or preclude any suspicion of favoritism and anomalies.”

Rama said that instead of the initial project amount of P300 million, the city will pour in an additional P300 million for the project. The initial P300 million was taken from the first supplemental budget last year and the added P300 million will be sourced from the P13.4 billion city budget this year. The project also has an additional P45 million in budget raised through a fundraising campaign

New Cebu City Medical Center
NEW CCMC. The perspective plan for the new Cebu City Medical Center. (Taken from the Cebu City PIO Facebook page)

75 tons of trash taken from SRP waters

Garbage has been building up underwater at the South Road Properties for more than 13 years, Bantay Dagat Director Ranulfo Sebusa said. Last year, volunteer divers and environment officials found a mountain of trash that rose 15 feet.

Sebusa said the divers found garbage had already covered the coral reefs and there were fish that got trapped inside plastic bags.

A cleanup “Scubasurero” cleanup program that started in December and will end today retrieved 75 tons of garbage that have now been dumped at a sanitary facility in Consolacion. The program cost City Hall P1.8 million.

2 more Cebu City councilors return P20,000 calamity aid

Two more Cebu City councilors have returned P20,000 calamity assistance they received in 2013, it was learned yesterday.

Cebu City Councilors Mary Ann de Los Santos and Roberto Cabarrubias gave back the P20,000 calamity assistance they received in 2013, which was recently issued with a notice of disallowance by the Commission on Audit (COA).

City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas told reporters de los Santos returned the money last Thursday while Cabarrubias returned his last year.

Cabarrubias said returned the money even before the COA notice because of the case filed against them for receiving and approving the release of the fund.

“Lain ang opinion sa public sa among pagdawat ato nga assistance maong ako nalang giuli… Nangutang pa ko aron ibayad og balik ang P20,000 aron lang gyud way masulti ba kay public officials baya mi.” — Cebu City Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias

Councilors Alvin Dizon, Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Sisinio Andales, Nida Cabrera and Nestor Archival also returned their calamity assistance earlier this week.

Bodies of 2 SAF men from Cebu scheduled to arrive today

The remains of PO1 Windel Candano of Dumanjug town and PO1 Romeo Cempron of Consolacion town are scheduled to arrive early today. The two are among the 44 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) who died in an operation in Maguindanao.

The two will be given arrival honors at the airport before SAF operatives escort their bodies to their homes, according to Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas spokesman Superintendent Renato Dugan.

Yesterday, 800 people, mostly police officers, staged a “sympathy walk” from the IT Park to the PRO-Central Visayas headquarters on Osmeña Blvd.

Members of the Kaisang Bisig, the 2009 police academy class to which 3 of the slain police officers belonged to, shaved their heads to express sympathy to the families of their batchmates.

“As a president, even if I want to get mad, I cannot allow myself to be driven by emotion. I cannot make careless decisions. If I allow anger to dominate, rather than resolving the problem, we will just worsen it.” — President Benigno Aquino III

“How do we honor the great 44? Bawi nalang tayo sa mga criminals. Wala naman ditong MILF so we can honor the great 44 by going against illegal drugs, criminals, and human traffickers.” Senior Supt. Conrado Capa

January 31 Cebu newspapers front pages
TOP CEBU NEWS STORIES. The front pages of Cebu’s 3 English dailies today.

Other top Cebu news stories:

Sun.Star Cebu: Mandaue City set to close Cebu City slaughterhouse for failing to submit documents required for tax exemption

Sun.Star Cebu: MCIAA to build ‘replacement’ buildings for Philippine Air Force to set stage for demolition of structures needed for Terminal 2 construction to start

Sun.Star Cebu: 3-day anti-crime drive by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 7 nets 13 suspects, P1 million worth of illegal drugs, guns

Sun.Star Cebu: 9 local governments get P2 billion in financial assistance to residents affected by Super typhoon Yolanda

Sun.Star Cebu: Department of Health sends team to investigate death of patient in Mandaue City Hospital; husband earlier accused hospital of giving his wife wrong medication and causing her death

Cebu Business Headlines

The Freeman: BIR admits to lack of manpower to go after “underground” traders

Sun.Star Cebu: Construction, real estate industries to continue posting high growth, says economist

The Freeman: Veco targets 5% growth this year


Cebu News Digest Jan. 10, 2014: Leyte storm survivors return to dance Sinulog; Mayor Rama threatens to sue City Council for economic sabotage

The Sinulog grand parade will focus on its religious roots as it marks its 35th year this 2015. The festival was officially launched yesterday with a parade that started at the Basilica del Sto. Niño. Previous winner and crowd favorite Tribu Lingganay from Alang-Alang town in Leyte province will join the grand parade again after skipping last year when it was devastated by Super typhoon Yolanda.

Meanwhile, sparks flew at City Hall with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama threatening to sue the City Council over the deferral of the conversion of City Hall’s foreign loan for the South Road Properties (SRP) into a domestic one.

CEBU NEWS. Today's front pages of Sun.Star Cebu and Cebu Daily News.
CEBU NEWS. Today’s front pages of Sun.Star Cebu and Cebu Daily News.

Here are the top Cebu news stories today:

Sinulog grand parade to focus on religiosity

The Sinulog Grand Parade will highlight the festival’s religious significance as it marks the 35th year. This year’s theme is “Sto. Nino: Hope of the People” and organizers want to emphasize the religious component of the festival.

The festival was launched yesterday with a parade from the Basilica del Sto. Niño to Fuente Osmeña and the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

“This is not just a cultural and historical event, this is a religious happening.” — Sinulog Foundation Inc. executive director Ricky Ballesteros.

Ballesteros said the festival is held on the 450th year commemoration of the finding of the Santo Niño de Cebu image and the 50th anniversary of the designation of what was then the San Agustin Church as Basilica Minore.

The stage at the CCSC, where contingents will perform their respective routines, is also patterned after the façade of the Basilica del Sto. Niño.

RELIGIOUS FOCUS. This year’s Sinulog Grand Parade will highlight the religious foundation of the festival.
RELIGIOUS FOCUS. This year’s Sinulog Grand Parade will highlight the religious foundation of the festival.

Today: Sinulog Sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan

Different schools will perform during this afternoon’s Sinulog sa Kabataan
1 PM Parade of Participants, Capitol Site to CCSC
2 PM Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan at the CCSC

Tribu Lingganay returns to perform after surviving storm

Tribu Lingganay from Alang-Alang town in Leyte will be returning this Sinulog after skipping last year when Super typhoon Yolanda devastated their community.
Alang-Alang won in the free interpretation category in 2012 and 2013.

Cebu Daily News reported that 600 performers have been practicing since October for the Sinulog, even as typhoons Quennie, Ruby, and Seniang hit their community.

“We do not want to fail the Sinulog spectators. We wanted to make sure that we will be giving a good show.” — Alang-Alang contingent coordinator Kent Jefflord Guillermo.

Get Sinulog 2015 Guide on your phone!

Download the guide here.

DPWH working 24-hours a day to finish steel bridge in Sibonga

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) installed yesterday the steel decks of a temporary bridge in Barangay Dumlog in Sibonga. DPWH 7 Director Ador Canlas said the installation might take five days but his agency will try to do it faster.

DPWH hopes the steel bridge will be passable before the important Sinulog events: the religious procession on January 17 and the grand parade on January 18.

The 18-meter approach to the Dumlog bridge, which links Argao and Sibonga, collapsed during a flash flood at the height of tropical storm Seniang.

The temporary bridge will have the 20 tons of capacity, the same capacity as the original span.

HONORING THE POPE. Inmates of the Cebu provincial jail dance to honor and thank Pope Francis for visiting the Philippines. (Photo from the Cebu Provincial Government Facebook Page)
HONORING THE POPE. Inmates of the Cebu provincial jail dance to honor and thank Pope Francis for visiting the Philippines. (Photo from the Cebu Provincial Government Facebook Page)

Cebu inmates dance to thank Pope Francis

More than 2,000 inmates at the Cebu provincial jail danced yesterday as prayer offering and thanksgiving to Pope Francis for visiting the Philippines. They danced to a Gregorian chant and the song “We Are All God’s Children.”

Mayor Rama threatens to sue City Council for “economic sabotage” over conversion of SRP loan

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama criticized the Cebu City Council for asking him to submit a request for the passage of a resolution to authorize the mayor to negotiate with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for the conversion of City Hall’s foreign loan for the South Road Properties (SRP) into a domestic one.

Rama said the councilors already knew about his plan and there was no need for him to file a request.

“Kahibaw na man sila ana. Kung wa sila kahibaw ana, buta sila. Kung wa sila kadungog, bungol sila. Kung wa sila kahibaw, insignificant sila. Unsa man ng klaseha uy? Dapat di na sila maghuwat. Dapat motabang sila sa mayor.” — Mayor Michael Rama.

In 1995, JICA lent Cebu City 12.315 billion yen to develop the 300-hectare SRP. Rama wants to convert the yen loan into a domestic one to save on interest and foreign exchange losses.

NO NEED FOR REQUEST. Mayor Michael Rama says the councilors already knew about his plan and there is no need for him to file a request. (Photo from Mayor Rama's Facebook Page)
NO NEED FOR REQUEST. Mayor Michael Rama says the councilors already knew about his plan and there is no need for him to file a request. (Photo from Mayor Rama’s Facebook Page)

“He wants to keep on filing, then let him file a case. He can do what he wants. Bahala siya.” — Councilor Margarita Osmeña

Councilor Sisinio Andales says a request from the mayor is required as part of protocol and procedure. Osmeña and Andales said they are in favor of restructuring City Hall has to follow procedures for transparency and accountability, The Freeman reported.

“But if he’s going to sue us. He can file case or whatever he likes. We are willing to face him. But as I said, we cannot take a shortcut, rather follow what is proper.” — Councilor Sisinio Andales as quoted by The Freeman

Other top Cebu stories:

Cebu Business News

Local taxi drivers making more money from cab booking apps

From just P500 a day as take home pay, Ronel Diapana now earns P900 after signing up with GrabTaxi, an app that allows commuters to hail taxis using their phones. Diapana told The Freeman that with the app, he can book 5 to 10 passengers during rush hours. The difficulty in getting a cab during rush hours is pushing more commuters to use apps like GrabTaxi.


“In a way, nakatabang gyud ni siya sa transportation industry — taxi industry. Karon, di na ang drivers mangita og passengers, ang passengers na maoy mangita sa drivers. The drivers no longer have to go around to find passengers.” — Raymond Dejan, GrabTaxi Cebu sales and operations manager

“These groups will be an extension of CCCI in the far-flung areas in Cebu. We are going to help them become legitimate and advocacy-driven business groups and not just a mere social club.” — CCCI president Ma. Teresa Chan


Cebu News Digest Jan. 7, 2015: More Sinulog contingents, leaner crowd; barangay captain shot dead; Rama still hopes Pope will visit Cebu

Sinulog organizers say the visit by Pope Francis next week will impact Sinulog attendance. Those in Luzon or Leyte would likely attend papal visit activities rather than fly to Cebu for the Sinulog. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and some local government and church officials, however, still talk up hopes for the pope to swing by Cebu.

Meanwhile, another public official has been shot dead in an ambush. Here are the top stories in Cebu’s papers today, January 7, 2015.

Sinulog 2015
SINULOG IS HERE. Organizers say they expect more contingents to join this year’s Sinulog grand parade. (Photo by Teddy Uy used with permission from the Sinulog Foundation)

Organizers see fewer people attending Sinulog but expect more contingents joining festivities

Sinulog organizers expect fewer people to attend Sinulog activities because of Pope Francis’ visit to Manila and Tacloban starting next week. On top of the papal visit, many flights have been cancelled because Manila has been declared a no-fly zone at certain hours when Pop Francis will arrive on January 15 and leave on January 19.

Sinulog Foundation Inc. Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros said many in Luzon and Leyte will choose to join activities with the Pope in Manila or in Tacloban rather than head to Cebu for the Sinulog since the visit is a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“Affected gyud ang Sinulog ani (in terms of number of people) because they are torn between two big events… Those from Luzon, Manila and Leyte might decide to attend the Pope’s activities instead,” — Sinulog Foundation Inc. Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros during the Association of Government Information Officers forum.

Ballesteros said that as of January 6, 36 contingents have confirmed joining the grand parade. They expect the number to increase to 45 next week, more than last year’s 42 contingents.

Ballesteros said the history of Cebu will be told in the grand finale performance.

“Sinulog is Cebu. Let us defend, protect and contribute to its success. To all the undesirables, please take a leave and be spiritual instead. Attend all the religious activities at the basilica,” — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama

Mayor Rama still hopes Pope Francis will visit Cebu

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he still hopes Pope Francis will visit Cebu, which he repeatedly pointed out as the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines. The city is also “very near” Tacloban City, which the pope will visit.

“I can’t understand why the Pope can’t drop by Cebu. I don’t understand why such an arrangement can’t be done and Manila is being highlighted. But let’s continue to pray,” — Mayor Michael Rama

Cebu Daily News and Sun.Star Cebu
FRONT PAGES. Today’s front pages of Cebu Daily News and Sun.Star Cebu

Toledo barangay captain shot dead

A barangay captain of Toledo City was shot dead Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. while driving his Ford Everest SUV on the national highway after dropping off his children at school.

Timoteo Largo, 65, died in a ditch where he was gunned down allegedly by Dionesio Juarez. Largo is the barangay captain of Cambang-ug, Toledo City. Juarez, on the other hand, was identified as a member of Civil Service Unit (CSU) of the Toledo City Hall and a police asset.

Toledo City Police Chief Ricky Delelis told Sun.Star Cebu they are considering 2 motives for the attack: 1) Largo’s refusal to accept illegal drugs payment and 2) Largo’s refusal to allow Juarez to be part of the sand and gravel business in the barangay.

“Istoryahan nato ni, pre (Let’s talk about this).” Timoteo Largo to Dionesio Juarez shortly before the killing.

Capitol meeting
SOLVING BRIDGE PROBLEM. Cebu Governor Hilario P. Davide III meets with officials from Sibonga town and other government agencies to speed up solution to the collapse of the Dumlog bridge connecting the towns of Argao and Sibonga. (Cebu Province PIO photo)

DSWD says Ronda mayor turned down offer to provide relief goods before Seniang

DSWD 7 Assistant Director Shailane Marie Lucero said they offered to supply relief goods to Ronda before Tropical Storm Seniang made landfall but Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco III wanted these only after the storm.

Lucero said they could not distribute the relief goods because they needed a signed request from Mayor Blanco since all calamity-related expenses of DSWD are subject to audit. The goods would have been delivered immediately had the mayor signed the letter

“We are only following the law, otherwise we will go to jail.” — DSWD 7 Assistant Director Shailane Marie Lucero

Sun.Star Cebu: Ronda ‘turned down’ DSWD’s offer to provide relief goods before storm

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Local retailers seek government protection

Local retailers are asking for “special non-discriminatory locations” and special rates for businesses located in Mandaue and Cebu Cities. Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) – Cebu Chapter president Robert Go said this would help local retailers reeling from the challenges of the dominance by global brands of the market.

“Many of our home grown retailers are helpless and have nowhere to go, either deteriorating or are running out of business, being too dependent on malls,” — Robert Go.

Suroy-Suroy Sugbo bookings on the rise

Cebu Provincial Government tourism consultant Patria Aurora Roa has reported strong demand for the “Suroy-Suroy sa Sugbo” program for the southern part of the province. She said the southern leg will have new destinations such as the Aguinid Falls in Samboan and Mainit Spring in Malabuyoc.

The Freeman: Bookings for Southern Suroy-Suroy on the rise