Cebu News Digest: Feb. 18, 2015: Group who wants President Aquino to resign insists: Vidal is with us; Foreigner killed in SRP accident

Despite the clarification by officials of the Archdiocese of Cebu, a group that called for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III insisted retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal supports them in the call for the President to resign.

Seven years after the sinking of Sulpicio Line’s MV Princess of the Stars, the Maritime Industry Authority, in a 50-page ruling on the administrative case against Sulpicio Lines (now Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. or PSACC), cancelled and revoked the shipping firm’s Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) for carriage of passengers. To an official inside PSACC, the ruling will not have an impact on the company’s operations since they are no longer transporting passengers.

At the South Road Properties (SRP) yesterday, a Dutchman was run over by a cement mixer. Meanwhile, 16 drivers of colorum vehicles plying the SRP were apprehended.

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Here are the top stories for today, Feb. 18, 2015:

Archival ambush
YEAR AFTER. One year after the killing of lawyer Noel Archival in an ambush in Dalaguete, Cebu, the suspects are still free. Officials of the Highway Patrol Group have been accused of killing the lawyer. (Photo by Mark Luzano)

National Transformation Council insists: Cardinal Vidal is with us

The group that is calling for President Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay and the entire government to resign insisted that retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal supports their call.

Last February 13, Vidal read in front of reporters a statement calling on President Aquino to resign. With him were Church officials and former government executives who are members of the National Transformation Council (NTC).

Among those present during the gathering in Vidal’s retirement home in Banilad were former senator Francisco Tatad and former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, who has been accused by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV of organizing a coup against Aquino.

“On Feb. 13, about 99% of the guests of Cardinal Vidal at his home were members of the National Transformation Council (NTC). They had a mass, ate a sumptuous meal, had a press conference amply attended by media people, and conducted a high-level NTC meeting right there at the Cardinal’s office, all in all lasting for about 5 to 6 hours. For someone who “does not” believe in NTC, the Cardinal was surely very accommodating to NTC.” — Status update posted on the official NTC Facebook page to respond to reports that Vidal denied asking President Aquino to step down

“Posible ba na basahin ni Cardinal in front of media cameras ang isang bagay na hindi niya pinaniniwalaan, a statement that was so controversial because it was asking the President of the Philippines to step down?” — NTC Facebook page

Businessman Valeriano “Bobit” Avila, who also writes a newspaper column, said only archdiocese officials issued the denial and not Vidal himself.

“I suggest that you get the clarification from Cardinal Vidal himself. Those denials did not come from him. These denials are meant to confuse.” — Businessman Valeriano “Bobit” Avila, as quoted by The Freeman, where he writes a column

Marina ruling has no impact on shipping company, officials say

Marina granted the Sulpicio Lines, now the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp., a certificate of public convenience to allow it to ferry passengers last May 16, 2005. the CPC was supposed to be effective for 25 years but this was cancelled and revoked following the sinking of Sulpicio Line’s MV Princess of the Stars off Sibuyan Island in Romblon Province last June 21, 2008.

Nestor Ponteres, PSACC port captain, said company owners and officials decided last year to halt the operation of all passenger vessels due to the high cost of fuel and maintenance. Whenever an accident happens, the company also has to deal with complaints from passengers.

Michael Go of PSACC said the company is now operating only 15 vessels exclusively for the transport of cargo to different ports of the country. With cargo vessels sailing only once a week (compared to passenger vessels sailing everyday), this means lower operational costs for the shipping firm.

Dutchman dies in SRP accident

Harald Heinz Walter, 55, was driving his motorcycle heading south when he bumped into the mixer truck owned by Geo Transport and driven by Roger Visitacion.

Visitacion said he came from Talisay City on his way to deliver concrete mix at the University of the Philippines. He said he made a left turn and did not see Walter coming. He only noticed a bump, only to realize later that Walter was already run over by the truck.

Walter was declared dead on arrival at the Cebu City Medical Center. Visitacion will be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

While both drivers were in the correct lane, according to Cebu City Traffic Operations and Management (Citom), the foreigner may have been overspeeding because of a 12-meter skid mark and a seven-meter drag mark.

The speed limit at SRP has been reduced from 60 kph to 40 kph.

Meanwhile, Citom apprehended 16 drivers plying the SRP using colorum vehicles within its 15-day operation. These vehicles operate as public transportation without franchise and reportedly collect a fare of P10, from Senior Citizeon’s Park to Kasadya sa SRP to Talisay City.

A list of the apprehended colorum vehicles with their plate numbers has been forward to the Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for appropriate action.

Citom said the operations against these vehicles will continue until the practice is stopped.

Other top Cebu News stories:

Sun.Star Cebu: City of Naga mayor ‘caught in crossfire’ between two rival LPG firms

The Freeman: One year since the crime Archival slay suspects still free

Sun.Star Cebu: Archival ambush survivor talks about 3rd lease on life

The Freeman: Health official confirms water contamination behind Danao City cholera outbreak

Cebu Business headlines:

Sun.Star Cebu: Leuterio, Lamudi sign deal

Sun.Star Cebu: Smart, Sun to bring Google Android One phones to Philippines

The Freeman: In 2014 BOI-Cebu registered over P9B investments in Central Visayas

The Freeman: Business leaders to government ‘Make ecozones friendly to SMEs’


Cebu News Digest: Feb. 17, 2015: Vidal supports dialog, not resignation of President Aquino: Cebu Archdiocese clarifies; Church spokesman cautions group against misrepresentation

After the backlash on retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal when he read a statement calling for President Benigno Aquino III to resign, the prelate clarified through his secretary that what he read was the stand of the National Transformation Council (NTC) and not his.

Cebu Archdiocesan media liaison officer Msgr. Joseph Tan, meanwhile, cautioned the group against misrepresenting church officials after they included Cebu Archbishop Palma in the list of bishops who support the call for the President to resign.

The Commission on Audit (COA), meanwhile, has called the attention of the Cebu City Government about unimplemented, terminated and ongoing 2014 infrastructure projects worth millions.

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Here are the top stories for today, February 17, 2015:

Cardinal Vidal National Transformation Council
JUST READING NTC STATEMENT. Cardinal Vidal was only reading the NTC statement and was not articulating a personal stand, according to his secretary. (Photo taken from NTC Facebook page)

Vidal supports dialog, not resignation of President Aquino; Archdiocese spokesman cautions NTC against misrepresenting Church officials

The statement calling on President Benigno Aquino III to step down that retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal read last Friday was not his personal stand but that of the National Transformation Council (NTC).

That, according to Fr. Jojo de Aquino, Cardinal Vidal’s personal secretary.

“It’s not the Cardinal’s message. It was the stand of the group (NTC).” — Fr. Jojo de Aquino

De Aquino said Vidal showed him the NTC statement hours before he read it in a press conference in his house. De Aquino said he noticed it was calling for President Aquino’s resignation and raised this concern to Cardinal Vidal. He said Vidal immediately started making corrections on it.

De Aquino said Cardinal Vidal’s reading of the statement was only meant to bring concerns raised by NTC to light. He said NTC members often come to his house to tell the archbishop of their concerns.

De Aquino said it was only on the day after the press conference that that the cardinal realized the effect of his gesture. He said Vidal was saddened by how the message was interpreted.

ABS-CBN report on the incident.

Vidal thought NTC members and the bishops went to his house only for his post-birthday celebration, de Aquino said.

“As I have mentioned in several occasions, the Church respects the opinions and sentiments of the citizens who are calling for the president’s resignation. However, the Church is not in the position to issue such political statement for it is beyond her competence.” — Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma

Cebu Archdiocesan media liaison officer Msgr. Joseph Tan, meanwhile, urged the NTC to avoid misrepresenting Church officials after the group included Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma as one of five bishops who supported calls for Aquino to step down.

“I don’t like to use the word that they (Cardinal Vidal and Archbishop Palma) were used by NTC for their political ends because it’s too harsh. I just want to caution them to avoid misrepresentation or any semblance of it.” — Msgr. Joseph Tan, Cebu Archdiocesan media liaison

Tan said Palma was surprised when he was listed among the bishops who supported calls for President Aquino’s resignation.

“It came unannounced and unplanned as far as the Archbishop of Cebu was concerned. In his (Palma’s) mind, he was there to just grace the Cardinal’s post-birthday lunch.” — Msgr. Joseph Tan

Only 48 of 93 infra projects in Cebu City implemented in 2014

Ninety-three infrastructure projects worth a total of P629.45 were supposed to be implemented in 2014.

However, according to a three-page audit observation memorandum dated Jan. 27, only 48 out of 93 projects were implemented. These amounted to P228.66 million.

Twenty-eight projects with a combined cost of P332.65 are still ongoing, with 17 of them beyond their targeted date of completion.

COA asked the City Development Council to faithfully monitor and evaluate the implementation of the projects so that any cause of suspension or other related problems will be immediately addressed.

It also asked the Cebu City Government to explain the cause of the delays and to fast-track implementation of its ongoing and suspended projects.

Department of Engineering and Public Works Chief Atty. Jose Marie Poblete said the major reasons for the delay were road-right-of-way problems.

LTFRB to wait until fuel price stabilizes before deciding on petition to cut taxi fare

According to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the petition to reduce taxi fares remains pending amid movements in the prices of fuel.

The taxi fare rollback petition was filed by Negros Oriental Representative Manuel Iway. Iway petitions for a P40 flag-down rate to be reduced to P30 and a further reduction of P1 or from P3.50 to P2.50 for each of the next succeeding 300 meters.

“We will just wait until the prices of fuel will stabilize before coming up with the exact amount of fare reduction.” — LTFRB 7 Director Rey Elnar

Rates of petroleum products went up last week following a series of rollbacks in the past months.

The Metro Cebu Taxi Operators earlier opposed the call to reduce taxi fare, pointing out that the prices of spare parts and accessories have remained the same.

New water channels for Colon, not enforcement of easement law

Instead of requiring establishments to remove parts of their structures that have encroached or are even built over the river in Colon Street, the Cebu City Government would now construct new water channels to address flooding in the area.

“Sa among initial discusion sa DPWH it would appear nga naa lang tay alternate plan for the drainage.” — City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo

Other top Cebu News stories:

Sun.Star Cebu: 7 years after sinking of Princess of the Stars, maritime authority revokes Sulpicio Lines’ authority to carry passengers; shipping firm now called Span Asia Carrier

Sun.Star Cebu: Mandaue police station chief relieved for not returning gun of former Bacolod congressman Anthony Golez Jr.

The Freeman: LTO confirms operation of colorum multicabs at the SRP

The Freeman: Jeepney operators told: Join BRT data collection

Cebu Business headlines:

Sun.Star Cebu: Shangri-La Mactan seeks to grow Middle East, Australia, Europe share

The Freeman: PhilAm Life breaks ground on P2B Cebu center

The Freeman: Sole proprietorships seen to increase in 2015 – DTI