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3-day medical, surgical mission set

Sat, 07/22/2017 - 18:37

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Talisay City Mayor Neil Lizares III met with Nikki Lopez Benitez to plan the groundwork for a major 3-day medical and surgical mission, to start November 9, at the Teresita Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City, Negros Occidental.

Close to a 50-man medical team from the Makati Medical Center Foundation, including surgeons and operating room nurses, will operate on major and minor cases, including thyroid, hernias, cleft lip and palate, gallbladder stones, OB gynecological cases such as ovarian cysts and small breast masses, among others, a press release from Talisay said.

Benitez’s team was accompanied by Drs. Erwin Dizon and Jake Manalastas, and Jeceryl Jover, and was met by the mayor, Vice Mayor Sam Siote, Councilor Nicolai Jalandoni, Ismael Penado, Talisay City Health Officer, Dr. Joy Gladys Guanzon, Josel Faisan and Marlyn Simondo.

The schedule for the first screening of patients will be on October 7, and the final screening on November 7, the press release added.*

Two sugar summits set

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 13:58

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Negros Occidental provincial government is preparing to hold a Negros Sugar Summit geared towards creating a resilient, diversified, competitive and inclusive economy for Negros Island, with the sugarcane industry continuing to make a significant and sustainable contribution, former Gov. Rafael Coscolluela said yesterday.

The provincial government is holding the summit because it wants to consult stakeholders on the sugar situation and to engage them in the formulation of a strategic agenda to address the challenges affecting the industry in Negros, Coscolluela, provincial consultant on trade and investment, said.

The industry challenges affecting the sugarcane industry in Negros include competition from High Fructose Corn Syrup,and other imported or smuggled sweeteners, low world market and domestic prices, labor shortage, low average productivity, rising costs of production, and energy-intensive cane production and delivery systems, he said.

There is also the looming excise taxes on fuel and sweetened beverages, and the worldwide trend to reduce sugar consumption for health reasons, Coscolluela said.

All these problems will require serious and proactive measures, he said, adding that the date for the Negros Sugar Summit has yet to be decided on.

He noted that the Sugar Regulatory Administration will have a Mill District Development Council summitnext week that will focus on MDDCs, which have their share of organizational problems, constraints and limitations.

“I guess they will deliberate on how the MDDCs can perform their intended mandate as frontliners for sugar district development programs and interventions,”Coscolluela said, adding that the MDDC summit results will be a useful input for the Negros Sugar Summit.

The MDDC summit on Tuesday will be held at Nature's Village Resort, Talisay City, Negros Occidental, with Sen. Cynthia Villar and Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Neg. Occ. 3 rd district) as main speakers.

The theme is the Strategic Role of Mill District Development Councils (MDDCs) in Sugar Industry Development, SRA Administrator Anna Rosario Paner said yesterday.

At least 150 participants are expected to attend from the sugar sector, including officials from partner agencies of the SRA in the Sugar Industry Development Act implementation, such as the Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Department of Public Works and Highways, he said.

The summit aims to review the roles and accomplishments of MDDCs since their institutionalization, to diagnose the current state or situation of MDDCs in relation to accomplishing the purposes of their creation, to chart the way forward towards MDDCs' strengthening and capacity development to become more effective partners of the government, and to institutionalized and mainstream Gender and Development programs, projects, and activities of the MDDCs, a statement from the SRA said.*CPG


Reaching Out to Informal Settler Families in Metro 3rd

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 09:07

on Thu, 07/20/2017

Focusing on the other “H” in his  METRO 3RD ASENSO –IHELP (infrastructure-health & housing-education & environment-livelihood-policy) PROGRAM, Congressman Alfredo Benitez  initiated an inventory of informal settler families (ISF) and a review of the various housing programs of local government units in the Third District.

Marie June Pavillar Castro, women’s rights advocate, civic leader and former Silay City councilor who was  tasked as District Coordinator for Housing Concerns DCHC), said the initial inventory recorded close to 50,000 informal settler families in Victorias, EB Magalona, Silay, Talisay and Murcia.  As she works closely with the LGUs to assist fast-tracking their housing programs and other related concerns, the listing and mapping of ISFs continue to generate an accurate data-baseline for appropriate interventions and provide relevant inputs to policy initiatives to address the housing backlog and other issues.

Cong. Benitez  worked with the National Housing Authority and Victorias Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca to  facilitate the implementation of the Permanent Housing Project in Barangay 13 for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.  To date more than 300 units are occupied by ISFs of the total target 2,321 houses.

Victorias housing officer Primilo Solinap  recently reported that 1,300 ISFs will soon benefit from the free patent program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Villa Miranda.

DCHC Castro have also identified ISFs who have organized themselves into homeowners associations seeking assistance and conducted consultative meetings with these groups. Among them are  the Community Association of Barangay Zone IV of Talisay,  the Community Association of Purok Kapayas, Barangay Zone IV of Murcia.

Vital links are established with government housing agencies like the National Housing Agency (NHA) , Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC)  and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).  The District Office and the DCHC continue to conduct  various fora to assist the SHFC advocacy on  promoting the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) and the Local Community Mortgage Program (LCMP).

Ongoing is the coordination with the Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit housing organization whose vision is to provide decent shelter for underprivileged informal settlers. DCHC Castro said,  Habitat  plans for a housing project  in the province, using available indigenous materials.

Congressman Benitez who is also the House chair for the Committee on Housing and Urban Development have initiated groundwork on ways and means to tackle  the  housing backlog in the country, working closely with his counterpart in the Senate, Senator Joseph Victor  Ejercito

In his District, Congressman Benitez takes the lead in transforming lives of informal settler families through access to resettlement communities and socialized housing.

DCHC Castro together with Team Albee shared experiences of long and tedious meetings with stakeholders, rigorous systems and procedures that need improvements and even changes and most of all, the need to change attitude and mind set of people that have been rooted in the old ways.

But opportunities outweigh the constraints in the work towards improving lives of people.  For Congressman Benitez, the challenge of making shelter . . . housing . . . . and finally, decent homes a reality for informal settler families  is not an impossible dream.*

Negros execs split on proposed martial law extension

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 18:43

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year has garnered mixed reactions from local officials in Negros Occidental.

Former governor Rafael Coscolluela, a Capitol consultant, said the President has a bad track record in setting timelines.

“Better for him (Duterte) to just say that martial law will stay for as long as absolutely necessary, based on recommendations of the proper authorities and approval of Congress,” he said.

Coscolluela noted that the national government "needs to be more credible," adding that "broken promises and unmet targets are not very reassuring.”

He said the administration also needs to be more transparent and up front with the information they give the public.

“Unfortunately, even Congress has so far failed to perform their duty to determine the validity of the basis for the declaration of martial law,” he said.

Coscolluela said he is hoping for the early return to normalcy in Marawi City, and Lanao del Sur’s neighboring provinces.

Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez did not comment on the move, saying he wants to hear the report during the special session on July 22 first.

Duterte had asked the Congress to hold a special session on Saturday, July 22, to discuss the proposed extension of martial law.

The validity of martial law in Mindanao will end on July 22.

Duterte placed Mindanao under the military rule after Maute terror group attacked Marawi City in an attempt to establish a caliphate for Islamic State fighters in Southeast Asia.

Abang-Lingkod partylist Representative Stephen Paduano said the decision will depend upon the assessment of the lawmakers over the weekend.

“If the situation still warrants, besides, we will still get the basis during the joint session and the sentiment of the congressmen from Mindanao,” he said.

For his part, Bacolod City Representative Greg Gasataya said he is in favor of extending the military rule in Mindanao.

He said the Department of National Defense will make a presentation and a recommendation on the possible extension during the special session.

“For me, I’m in favor of the extension of the martial law considering the situation in Marawi. For the past two months, we did not receive reports of abuses by the military forces,” Gasataya said.

5-month extension ‘enough’

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff General Eduardo Año said Duterte’s proposed five-month extension of martial law in Mindanao is enough to end the insurgency in war-torn Marawi.

He said the martial rule in Mindanao needs to be extended, stressing the Marawi crisis is still "far from over."

Año noted that to date, around 60 to 70 members of the Maute terror group are still holed up in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, while the presence of more or less 800 "Islamic State-inspired terrorists" are reported in other areas in Mindanao.

“We can notice that it’s still far from over. We have to address it once and for all,” Año told reporters Tuesday.

Duterte sought Tuesday morning, July 18, the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao until December 31.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the proposed extension aims to allow the security troops to proceed with their offensives against the terrorists in Marawi City and prevent spillover of the armed conflict.

Año said martial rule in the conflict-torn region might not reach until December if the government forces are able to “significantly degrade the capability of this terrorist group who staged this rebellion.”

“The President made it clear that once everything is normalized, we will even recommend for the early termination of martial law. It’s purely work. We do not have any interests, except to bring back normalcy and defeat all the threats, particularly the terrorists, the Maute, Isis group who staged this rebellion,” he said.

“If there’s already a ground for the lifting, we will make our recommendation,” he added.

Mindanao has been under martial law since May 23 when members of the Maute terror group occupied Marawi City to defend Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who has been on the US's list of most-wanted terrorists worldwide. (with reports from SunStar Philippines)

‘House can pass BBL by yearend’

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 17:33

By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 19, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is optimistic the House can pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the 2018 budget before yearend.

“If there will be no problem with the Constitution, the House can finish the deliberation before Christmas,” Alvarez said in Filipino during an interview with radio station dzMM yesterday.

Lawmakers are planning to conduct simultaneous deliberations on the draft BBL and budget proposals until the end of the year, convene the chamber later into a constituent assembly (con-ass) and push for federalism early next year. 

Alvarez said he and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III have agreed on this.

Since the appointment of the supposed commissioners for the constitutional commission has been deferred, Alvarez said they would be the one to designate the con-com.

He said the con-com would become a technical working group that will study and draft the revised Constitution, changing the system of government to federal.

After this, the con-ass will debate and launch a massive information campaign to educate the people on the advantages of the federal system before it is submitted to a plebiscite.

The Speaker said Congress – or both the House and Senate – would convene into a con-ass to study and scrutinize the draft charter that the con-com would submit to lawmakers.

Among the proponents of con-ass are Reps. Albee Benitez of Negros Occidental and Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte whose pending resolutions have been incorporated into one.

“Once the con-com members finish the draft constitution, we can convene Congress into a constituent assembly so that we can begin the debates,” Alvarez said on the proposed shift from a presidential-unitary form of government to parliamentary-federal system.

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte shared Alvarez’s sentiment, saying it is about time Congress intensify its deliberation on Charter change to propel economic growth and ensure equal distribution of resources nationwide.

“The shift to a federal system will spell inclusive growth, which means spreading the benefits of being one of Asia’s fastest growing economies from imperial Manila to the countryside,” Villafuerte, vice chairman of the House committee on local government, said.

Speedy approval

Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are looking forward to a speedy approval by Congress of the Bangsamoro bill.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) on Monday submitted to President Duterte a copy of the draft bill meant to end the armed conflict in Mindanao.

Once signed, the BBL will replace the ARMM with a more empowered political entity.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman told The STAR yesterday that the new BBL would provide Muslim communities political strength to address violent religious extremism plaguing some areas in the region.

Officials in the autonomous region are certain of the inclusivity of the BBL, having been premised on the inputs collected from public consultations initiated by the BTC.

Three of BTC’s 21 members represent the largest and most politically active bloc in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), led by former Sulu congressman Yusoph Jikiri.

Unlike the MNLF faction of Nur Misuari, Jikiri’s group is not hostile to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Hataman and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu thanked Duterte for ensuring the enactment into law of the new draft BBL.

Local officials are optimistic the revised draft BBL will not suffer the same fate as the old version, which Congress disapproved for containing unconstitutional provisions.

Mangudadatu said he is sure Duterte would keep his promise to help secure congressional imprimatur for the new BBL.

“We in Maguindanao are convinced that lawmakers will act favorably toward that goal. We want lasting peace in Mindanao, particularly in my province Maguindanao, the main bastion of the MILF,” Mangudadatu said.

He said some outcast Islamic militants are capitalizing on the delay in the implementation of all peace accords signed between the government and the MILF.

Ghazali Jaafar, chairman of the BTC, described the new BBL as more inclusive than the bill that failed to hurdle the 16th Congress and is an antidote to violent religious extremism.

House addresses concerns on Manggahan Floodway

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 10:28

19-July-2017, 01:01:22 PM
SOURCE: House of Representatives Press and Public Affairs Bureau

The House committee on housing and urban development chaired by Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd District, Negros Occidental) resumed its hearing on the implementation of Proclamation No. 458, which has earmarked for socialized housing certain portions of land located along the Manggahan Floodway, in the city of Pasig and municipalities of Cainta and Taytay in the province of Rizal, where some informal settler-families are currently staying.

During the hearing, Benitez underscored the need to determine what policy should be established to address the issues and concerns of the parties involved.

The committee earlier created a sub-committee to monitor the full and effective implementation of, among others, Proclamation No. 458 series of 1994, of which Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte (6thDistrict, Quezon City) was designated chairman.

Belmonte, also committee vice chairman, said during the hearing that the committee had previously appealed to Pasig City Mayor Robert Eusebio to defer the implementation of the demolition order against the 395 informal settler-families living along the Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City.

He said the committee also requested the Pasig City government to temporarily admit the 395 qualified families in one of its relocation buildings in Eusebio Bliss Village on a rental basis until their transfer to the National Housing Authority’s Low Rise Building (LRB) Housing Project in Pasig.

Likewise, Belmonte said the committee appealed to the said families, who are members of the Alliance of Peoples’ Organization Along Manggahan Floodway Pasig (APOAMFP), to accept such an agreement. Belmonte said the committee requested the Pasig City Urban Poor (PCUP) not to deny the Pasig City government the necessary Certificate of Compliance in case the city government defers the implementation of the eviction order against the 395 APOAMFP families.

He said further that the House panel also asked the PCUP to facilitate a meeting between the NHA and the APOAMFP in order to thresh out the issues relative to the sales contract between the two parties, problems in low-rise buildings, and additional qualification requirements.

Belmonte informed the committee that Eusebio has responded positively its request by agreeing to accommodate the 395 beneficiaries.

Eusebio also requested the committee’s assistance in drafting the Memorandum of Undertaking (MOU) between the city government and the APOAMFP, according to Belmonte.

“This hearing seeks to address the following issues: (1) the clamor for the issuance of patent for the Taytay portion of the Manggahan Floodway, a matter which was not substantially discussed in the mother committee due to lack of time; (2) the language of the proposed Memorandum of Undertaking (MOU) which the concerned parties would refine and finalize; and (3) report on the meeting facilitated by the PCUP on the language of the contract entered between the NHA and the APOAMFP,” Belmonte said.

Engr. Ma. Theresa Siat, Manager of NHA-East Sector, reported the following: (1) 180 of the 395 member-families of APOAMF would transfer to NHA’s Low Rise Building (LRB) Housing Project in Pasig City by the end of July 2017; (2) the relocation site for the remaining qualified member-families of APOAMF would be ready by December 2017; (3) NHA would issue a certificate of unit allocation for each of the qualified member-families of APOAMF to ensure accommodation in the NHA’s LRB Housing Project.

Meanwhile, Engr. Josenar Caparas, Head of the Urban Poor Affairs Office of Pasig City, informed the committee about the following: (1) Pasig City would accommodate the remaining 215 member-families of APOAMF in Eusebio Bliss Medium Rise Building on a rental basis until their transfer to the NHA Low Rise Building Housing Project; (2) Pasig City announced that it was giving the concerned families to voluntarily demolish their respective structures until August 15, 2017, after which the Pasig City government would implement a clearing operation; (3) the draft MOU was already reviewed by the concerned agencies and parties and that it would already be signed by them on July 18, 2017.

Upon the directive of the ad hoc subcommittee, Caparas promised to submit in two weeks a copy of the signed MOU. / ABR

Benitez vows more ways to serve Third District

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 10:09

Monday, July 17, 2017
By Carla N. Canet

NEGROS Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez vowed to continue to find more ways to be relevant and bring more meaningful service and governance to his constituents and even beyond.

The statement was echoed by Abang Lingkod partylist Representative Stephen Paduano, who represented Benitez as the guest of honor and speaker during the 35th inauguration of officers, directors, and new members of the Rotary Club of Bacolod-East, held at O Hotel in Bacolod City over the weekend.

“It is always a privilege to represent the good congressman who might be the next governor or the next senator of the Republic of the Philippines. After 50 years and by God’s grace, he can become the next either governor or senator,” Paduano said.

Benitez, in his statement relayed by Paduano, promised his constituents a more exciting and fulfilling third and last term until 2019.

“I have done my best in my office,” Benitez said, telling the Rotarians that he foresees a busy and exciting year for them, knowing how Rotarians bury themselves in community service.

“But what is the real challenge of this new year of service? Many of you have been Rotarians for a number of years and must feel at times that even serving mankind in the most noble of ways, can be boring. You have to be in constant search for relevance of your programs and meaning for your activities,” he said.

Meanwhile, District Governor Enigardo Legislador Jr., who served as the inducting officer and inspirational speaker, urged his fellow Rotarians to “make this Rotary Year, the greatest ever. Find meaning in your projects and when we do it, do it with all our hearts.” (CNC)

NOCHP Enrollment in 3rd District Intensifies

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 08:07

on Tue, 07/18/2017

The Third District of Negros Occidental continues to intensify its campaign to reach more families to enroll in the Negros Occidental Comprehensive Health Program (NOCHP) to avail of free medical services in times of need.

Congressman Alfredo Benitez continues to mobilize his District Office and satellite offices in cities of Victorias, Silay , Talisay and municipalities of Murcia and EB Magalona to reach far-flung upland and coastal communities, educating families of the benefits of the program.

With a total of 59,080 families enrolled in NOCHP to date, the Third District keeps its lead in the implementation of the program in the whole province.

Recently, the NOCHP team led by Governor Alfredo Marañon, Congressman Benitez and Mayor Neil Lizares distributed a total of 1,960 NOCHP cards to qualified members; and another 1,641 beneficiaries in Murcia received their cards from the group together with Mayor Andrew Montelibano and Vice-Mayor Gerardo Rojas.

Enrollment for senior citizens is also a priority in the Third District.

Congressman Benitez has urged mayors in his district to continue fully supporting NOCHP enrollment to reach a target of 75,000 beneficiaries.

The Third District NOCHP enrollment has the following record update: EB Magalona – 8,059; Murcia – 10,895; Silay – 18,018; Talisay – 9,546 and Victorias – 12,562.*

Reclamation Project to Boost Talisay

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 07:17

on Mon, 07/17/2017

Mayor Neil Lizares III, with Congressman Albee Benitez, met with Atty. Alberto C. Agra, Chairman of the Board, Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to explore on the possibilities of a reclamation and other development projects in Talisay City, Third District of Negros Occidental.

TALISAY RECLAMATION. The exploratory meeting of the 3rd District with the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) & the Bacolod Real State Development Corp. (BREDCO) at the Bacolod Pavillon Hotel on July 13. Shown are Talisay City Mayor Neil E. Lizares III (seated 3rd from right) 3rd District Cong. Albee Benitez and PRA Chairman of the Board Atty. Alberto C. Agra (seated 3rd from left).*

Also in the meeting were Atty. Sammy Palanca, Atty. Jack Maalat, Mr. Rolando Corona of the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corp. (BREDCO) and Mr. Ismael Penado, Assistant City Administrator, Talisay City.

The PRA is a Government Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC) with a mandate which includes a) Regulatory & and Proprietary Land Reclamation; b) Infrastructure Development; and c) Public Estates Development & Management

In Negros, the PRA has a joint undertaking with BREDCO and the City of Bacolod, the project is a 108-hectare reclamation area located in the City of Bacolod for commercial and industrial uses.

Recently, a bill providing for the construction of a 36 kilometers coastal road traversing Bacolod, Talisay, Silay and Victorias cities and E. B. Magalona was filed at the House of Representative by Congressman Albee Benitez.

The construction of the reclamation and coastal projects, when completed, will pave the way for new areas for development in Talisay and in the third district of the province.*(Chuck Diaz / Talisay PIO)

3rd district intensified NOCHP

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 09:17

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Third District of Negros Occidental continues to intensify its campaign to reach more families to enroll in the Negros Occidental Comprehensive Health Program or NOCHP to avail of free medical services in times of need, a press release from the Office of Rep. Alfredo Benitez said yesterday.

Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez and Mayor Neil Lizares with the NOCHP beneficiaries of Talisay City*

Benitez continues to mobilize his District Office and satellite offices in the cities of Victorias, Silay, Talisay and municipalities of Murcia and EB Magalona to reach far-flung upland and coastal communities, educating families of the benefits of the program, the press release said.

With a total of 59,080 families enrolled in NOCHP to date, the Third District keeps its lead in the implementation of the program in the whole province.

Recently, the NOCHP team led by Governor Alfredo Marañon, Benitez, and Mayor Neil Lizares distributed 1,960 NOCHP cards to qualified members; and another 1,641 beneficiaries in Murcia received their cards from the group together with Mayor Andrew Montelibano and ViceMayor Gerardo Rojas.

Enrollment for senior citizens is also a priority in the Third District.

Benitez has urged mayors in his district to continue fully supporting NOCHP enrollment to reach a target of 75,000 beneficiaries.

The Third District NOCHP enrollment has the following record update: EB Magalona – 8,059; Murcia – 10,895; Silay – 18,018; Talisay – 9,546 and Victorias – 12,562, the press release added*

Talisay eyeing reclamation project

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 09:11

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The possibility of land reclamation and other development projects in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, were explored recently by Talisay Mayor Neil Lizares III and Rep. Albee Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District), with Alberto Agra, chairman of the Board of the Philippine Reclamation Authority, in Bacolod City.

Jack Ma-alat, Sammy Palanca, PRA Chairman of the Board Alberto Agra, Rep. Alfredo Benitez, Talisay Mayor Neil Lizares III, Reynaldo Bantug and Willy Au(l-r) at the exploratory meeting with the Philippine Reclamation Authority and the Bacolod Real State Development Corp. at the Bacolod Pavillion Hotel,recently.*

Also at the meeting were Sammy Palanca, Jack Maalat, Rolando Corona of the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corp. (BREDCO) and Ismael Penado, Talisay Assistant City Administrator, a press release from Talisay City said.

The PRA is a Government Owned and Controlled Corporation with a mandate that includes regulatory and proprietaryland reclamation; infrastructure development; and public estates development and management, the press release said.

In Negros, the PRA has a joint undertaking with BREDCO and the City of Bacolod. The project is a 108-hectare reclamation area located in Bacolod for commercial and industrial uses.

Recently, a bill providing for the construction of a 36 kilometers coastal road traversing Bacolod, Talisay, Silay and Victorias cities and E.B. Magalona was filed at the House of Representative byBenitez, it added.

The construction of the reclamation and coastal projects, when completed, will pave the way for new areas for development in Talisay and in the third district of the province, the press release also said.*

Cong. Albee Benitez, Mayor Lizares Exploratory Meeting on Talisay Reclamation Project

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 08:59

Friday, July 14, 2017

MEETING. Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Alfredo Benitez (left) and Talisay City Mayor Nilo Jesus Antonio Lizares III (2nd from left) with Assistant Asst. Administrator Ismael Penado (right) hold and exploratory meeting with Philippine Reclamation Authority Chairman Alberto Agra (2nd from right) at the Pavillon Hotel on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a reclamation and other development projects in Talisay. *Talisay PIO Photo

Access road to north getting P1.35B more

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 19:32

on Friday, July 14, 2017

The allocation of P1.35 billion more for the north Negros alternative road is expected to further ease travel, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) said yesterday.

He said P350 million has been allocated for the lengthening and widening to four lanes of the Bacolod-Silay Airport Access Road this year.

About P1 billion more is also expected to be allocated in the 2018 budget for it to reach Victorias City, he added.

Some areas of the BSAAR are already four lanes and streetlights are in place, he said.

Allotted this year is P150 million to make the rest of the BSAAR four lanes and another P200 million for its extension.

The goal is to make the BSAAR that at present ends in Silay, reach all the way to Victorias, he said.

After that they will figure out how the road can be lengthened to enable access all the way to Sagay City, he said.

The goal is to further lengthen the road, expanding it to six lanes is not in the pipeline, and no budget has been allocated for that, he added.

Six lanes would only be considered, depending on the increase in the volume of cars, the priority is to lengthen the road to cover more ground to ease and cut travel time for commuters, he said.*CPG

Unega convention proposed

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 20:03

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
By Teresa D. Ellera

NEGROS Occidental Fifth District Board Member Alain Gatuslao said on Tuesday, July 11, that party members are proposing that the United Negros Alliance (Unega) hold a convention to set their plans and agenda for the 2019 elections.

“This will be a fellowship among Unega members because we have been talking to each other but we haven’t met as a group,” he said.

Unega is chaired by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., who is on his third and final term.

Gatuslao said Unega members are united although they do not belong to the same national party.

He added that since Marañon is already on his last term, their ultimate goal is to unify Negros like what it used to be.

The board member also hinted that an alliance with rival party Love Negros is possible before end of the year.

Gatuslao added that Unega has already pledged support to Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez’s future political plans.

“As what the governor said, we will support him whether he runs for governor or senator. The window is very much open for Congressman Albee for senator. It has been our dream to have a senator from Negros. He has been supporting local candidates and now if he runs for governor, he is very much qualified and capable so he is worthy of our support,” Gatuslao said.

As to Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson running for governor, Gatuslao said he is only speaking based on what he has heard with Unega that their leaning is more on Benitez.

He added that he has also been supportive of the legislative agenda of Lacson.

UNegA eyes convention

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 19:57

on Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The holding of a general assembly by the United Negros Alliance is being proposed for a fellowship of its members, Board Member Alain Gatuslao said yesterday.

They are hoping that before Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. steps down in 2019, Negros Occidental's politicians can be united again under one group, Gatuslaoalso said.

Gatuslao who ran under the Liberal Party in 2016 quit membershiplast year because of professional obligations, but has since returned to UNegA headed by Marañon.

UNegA is open to alliances during the elections, he added.

Gastuslao said they will support Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) should he run for the Senate or for governor of Negros Occidental.

The window is open for Benitez to run for senator now, but he can also run for governor, he added.

Gatuslao said he does not know what Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson plans to run for.

He noted that aside from Benitez and Lacson, Board Member Salvador Escalante also has potential to be governor.

Escalante has the experience to be governor and is the number one board member, but he has said he wants to return to being mayor of Cadiz City, Gatuslao said.*CPG


Wed, 07/12/2017 - 19:51

By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
July 12, 2017

Negros Occidental Provincial Board Member Alain Gatuslao recently revealed the United Negros Alliance (UNegA) is planning to hold a convention ahead of the 2019 elections.
He called it a “fellowship,” saying members have not met as a group lately.

With Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. in his third and final term, talk has arisen surrounding a possible gubernatorial run for Negros Occidental third district Rep. Alfredo Benitez, who was recently backed by the mayors of his district.

Gatuslao said UNegA has already pledged their support for the congressman, despite being from rival local coalitions.

“If he runs for governor, he is very much qualified and capable,” he affirmed. “He is worthy of our support.”

The board member also left open the possibility of an UNegA-Love Negros alliance before the year ends.

Meanwhile, with incumbent Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson indicating an interest in being Marañon’s successor, Gatuslao said he has always been supportive of Lacson’s legislative agenda./WDJ

48 Negros LGUs receive DILG child-friendly seal

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 22:02

on Friday, July 7, 2017

Forty-eight of the 57 local government units in the Negros Island Region yesterday received the Seal of Child-Friendly Local Governance, in ceremonies held in Dumaguete City.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Interior and Local Government spearheaded the awarding at a local hotel, attended by local chief executives and other LGU representatives, among others.

The 20 LGU-awardees for Negros Oriental are Ayungon, Bacong, Bais City, Basay, Bayawan City, Bindoy, Canlaon City, Dauin, Dumaguete City, Guihulngan City, La Libertad, Mabinay, Manjuyod, Pamplona, San Jose, Sta. Catalina, Sibulan, Tanjay City, Valencia, and Zamboanguita.

For Negros Occidental, 28 LGUs received the award, namely, Bacolod City, Bago City, Binalbagan, Calatrava, Candoni, City of Victorias, EB Magalona, Escalante City, Himamaylan City, Hinigaran, Hinoba-an, Ilog, Isabela, Kabankalan City, La Carlota City, La Castellana, Manapla, Murcia, Pontevedra, Pulupandan, Sagay City, Salvador Benedicto, San Carlos City, San Enrique, Silay City, Sipalay City, Talisay City, and Toboso.

Shalaine Marie Lucero, DSWD NIR regional director, said these are the awardees for year 2016 and will be competing again in the next round to determine who will represent the region in the national competition.

“This is an award given to the local government units that are giving support to children in the areas of planning, budgeting, legislation and services,” she said.

Lucero said there are 12 criteria for the Seal of Child-Friendly Local Governance.

Out of the 48 awardees, 10 will be sent to Manila to vie for the Presidential Award for Child-Friendly municipalities and cities, Lucero added.

Although the Seal does not have a financial incentive for the LGUs, it will promote the advocacy of a local government unit that is advocating for the protection and the welfare of children, Lucero said.

“We all know that the children are the future of this land”, she said.

The Seal of Child-Friendly Local Governance is one of the many requirements for another award, the Seal of Local Good Governance, Lucero said.*

P30-M burial aid in Negros

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 19:11

Published July 7, 2017, 10:00 PM
By Carla N. Canet

Talisay City — A P30-million burial aid program has been launched in Negros Occidental’s third district.

Rep. Alfredo Benitez said the program will hasten the burial process for the less privileged in the district that comprises of Silay City, Talisay City, Victorias City, E. B. Magalona town, and Murcia town.

For funding, the congressional office of Benitez will combine its resources with that of local governments.

He said that with the program, bereaved families do not have to waste time in processing the release of the burial aid.

Identified funeral parlors in each locality will be the one to work out with the local governments. Payments will be directly made to the funeral parlors.

Benitez added it will enable low-income families to have loved ones buried with minimum delay.

Rep. Alfredo Benitez at the meeting of the Silay City Tourism Council

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 18:58

on Friday, July 7, 2017

TOURISM.Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District), center,at the meeting of the Silay City Tourism Council that reviewed the Silay City Tourism Code, with City Treasurer Elsie Jimenea, Reynaldo Bantug - vice-chairman representing the private sector, Silay City Mayor Mark Golez - honorary chairman of the Council, and Silay Tourism Officer Girlie Sulmaca (l-r).*

3-cornered fight for governor in 2019?

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 20:40

on Thursday, July 6, 2017

Will the race for governor of Negros Occidental in 2019 be a three-cornered fight, or will two of the major contenders join forces?

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. is on his third and last term, leaving the field for governor in 2019 wide open.

Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday said running for governor in 2019 is a consideration, but he has yet to make a decision. He will announce his plans forthe 2019polls in October next year.

Former Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer yesterday told the DAILY STAR running for governor or vice governor are options he may consider, since his wife Juliet Marie Ferrer is doing well in his previous post as congressional representative of the fourth district of Negros Occidental.

Marañon, an ally of Ferrer in the United Negros Alliance, has announced that he will support Rep. Alfredo AbelardoBenitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) if he runs for governor or senator in 2019.

The mayors of the third district on Monday also said they will support Benitez if he runs for governor, or for whatever post he decides on.

Both Benitez and Marañon now belong to PDP Laban, the national party of President Rodrigo Duterte.

No confirmation has been made on whether Benitez and Ferrer have discussed plans for 2019. Benitez said he has not decided on what post to run for in 2019, he is still weighing his options.

Lacson, who won against Ferrer in the race for vice governor in 2016, is a member of the Nationalist People's Coalition headed by Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco. He and Benitez also belong to the local group Love Negros.

The vice governor said he is not surprised that the mayors of the third district announced their support for Benitez should he run from governor, “I know they will support the congressman for whatever position he will run for”.

Lacson said his only question is, have they lost sight of supporting Benitez all the way to the Senate, “I hope their pronouncement does not mean they have given up hope”.

“We in the first district have not given up hope on having a senator from the third district in 2019…it is an exciting possibility,” Lacson added.

He said the endorsement by the third district mayors for Benitez for governorcould have been a spur of the moment reaction from them.

It is really up to Benitez what position he will run for, he and the congressman belong to the same group and he does not want to fuel any misunderstanding, Lacson said.

“I value friendship very much…At this point in time I have no doubt, that as a group, we are together, we are united,”Lacson said, in apparent reference to Love Negros.

Lacsonsaid he and Benitez have not decided on what to run for, but have somewhat talked about 2019.

Talk of a tandem between Benitez and Sagay Mayor Alfredo Marañon III in the 2019 polls is all speculation, Lacson also said.

Lacson said he will not be close minded on the 2019 election, he will consider what is best for the province in making a decision.

Meanwhile, Lacson gave President Duterte a passing rate in his first year in office.

The president has maintained the GDP rate as far as the economy is concerned and his idea of build, build, build, is on the right track, Lacson said.

Lacson said he is also preparing a report on his first year performance to be released this month.*CPG