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Access to water, electricity delayed housing for victims of ‘Yolanda’ – Benitez

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 22:01




Published September 20, 2017, 10:01 PM
By Ben R. Rosario

Access to water and electrical services has been pinpointed as among the factors that caused the delay in the implementation of housing relocation and resettlement projects for victims of typhoon Yolanda four years ago in Leyte and Samar.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said the irregularities in the construction of housing units have been aggravated by lack of access to water and electrical facilities for the thousands of typhoon victims in Eastern Samar and Leyte.

Benitez said this was the initial findings of the committee during the resumption of public hearing on House Resolution NO. 599 calling for an investigation on the snail-paced implementation of the housing projects financed by the government through the National Housing Authority.

“We’re out to find the appropriate intervention to fast-track housing production and at the same time hold accountable those who have been remiss in their duties in these housing projects,” said Benitez.

Whistleblower Camilo Salazar has claimed that they have constructed housing units with substandard construction materials as ordered by the contractor of the project.

Witnesses summoned to the hearing, including officials of the NHA and its principal contractor JC Tayag, pointed to the lack of available access to potable water and electricity as among the factors that have delayed the completion of the resettlement projects.

Benitez said relocating homeless Yolanda victims to communities that would make their lives more miserable is as bad as the commission of anomalies in the handling of the construction projects.

Benitez said the housing and urban development committee will get into the bottom of the irregularities committed in the construction of resettlement sites, saying that it might recommend the filing of criminal and administrative charges if necessary.

The senior administration lawmaker noted that during the hearing a sub-contractor pointed to the contractor.

Rep. Ben Evardone (Lone District, Eastern Samar), author of HR 599, asked National Housing Administration (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Assistant Secretary Merceditas Sombilla to consider the suggestion that Yolanda relocation project funds be downloaded to local government units.

Source: Manila Bulletin

9,000 Local Officials to Take Oath Under Ruling PDP-LABAN

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 16:24



on Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It seems like the upcoming oath-taking of about 9,000 local officials in Negros Occidental into the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP LABAN) on October 5 at the Victorias City Coliseum will be a consolidation of support for Representative Alfredo Benitez’ (3rd district) 2019 senatorial bid.

Benitez said, there is an ongoing mass oath taking of PDP-Laban members all over the country and the activity on October 5 will be part of the party’s recruitment.

He said, the controversies among some PDP officials in Manila has not affected the party especially the recruitment of new members.

Benitez, who is on his last term as congressman, has been offered a slot in the ruling’s senatorial party’s line-up for the 2019 national elections.

However, he has not yet bared whether he will accept the offer to run as senator or run as governor to replace the outgoing Marañon.

Benitez said that he has invited House Speaker and PDP-Laban Secretary-General Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP- Laban President who will swear in the new members to the party.

Earlier, Negros Occidental officials led by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and his partymates in the local United Negros Alliance (UNegA) pledge their allegiance to the party of President of Rodrigo Duterte.

Benitez, on the other hand, heads the rival Love Negros group and has also swore in with the party.*(NDB)

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

Sugar Alliance to Back New SRA Chief

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 16:21



on Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Sugar Alliance of the Philippines (SAP) has vowed to support Hermenegildo Serafica, the newly appointed head of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

Lawyer Emilio Yulo, spokesperson of the SAP yesterday said that while he has not yet an official confirmation of the appointment of Serafica by President Rodrigo Duterte to the SRA, “we welcome the development especially with the opening of the new milling season.”

“We hope that the appointment will enable SRA to have a fresh start,” Yulo said.

Serafica, a member of the Sugar Board representing the sugar planters was recommended by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol to Malacañang.

“We are willing to work with the new administrator,” Yulo said, adding that the appointment “is a sign that the President will prolong the life of the SRA.”

He added that if given a chance to talk with the new SRA chief, SAP will lobby that “there will be no threat to Sugar Order No. 3 and he will buckle down to work especially on the implementation of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act.”

“An SRA administrator will mean stability in the agency and the industry,” Yulo said.

Earlier, Representative Alfredo Benitez (3rd district) said that he has talked with Pinol during the budget hearing and that the Secretary told him that he has sent a letter to the president lobbying to retain the SRA because it is the gate keeper of the sugar industry and the consumers as well.

Benitez also revealed that he heard that the president was irked of certain individuals at the SRA because of alleged corruption that’s why he is thinking of the abolition of the whole institution.

“The president would only like to spare the institution from alleged corruption especially about the alleged consultants having huge allowances,” the Congressman pointed out.*(NDB)

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

Albee:Serafica SRA chief; I can't confirm it, Piñol says

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 15:38



on Wednesday, September 20, 2017
By Carla Gomez

President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Sugar Board planter representative Hermenegildo Serafica as the new Sugar Regulatory Administration chief, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) said yesterday.

However, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol last night told the DAILY STAR he could not confirm that Serafica was appointed as he did not have a copy of his appointment papers signed by the president yet.

Anna Rosario Paner earlier said she resigned as SRA chief, but Duterte said he fired her for hiring overpaid consultants.

Piñol had nominated Serafica, his original choice for SRA chief, to replace Paner.

Serafica of Ormoc City, Leyte, is a member of the United Sugar Producers' Federation of the Philippines, and was president of Leyte Cane Planters Association and vice chairman of the Philippine Sugar Research Institute.

Emilio “Dino” Yulo III, former Negros Occidental vice governor and Sugar Alliance of the Philippines spokesperson, had also been nominated for the top SRA post.

Yulo said yesterday “We welcome the appointment of a new SRA administrator since the milling season has started and amidst all the challenges we face, we hope this will be a fresh start for the SRA”.

He noted that the prices of sugar have not moved.

“We hope that this appointment will give anew boost to the sugar industry. We are more than willing to work with the new administrator as well as the Sugar Board”, Yulo said.

On Duterte's threat to abolish the SRA following his discovery of the high-priced salaries of SRA consultants, Yulo said, “The abolition of the SRA is up to the president, we must remember it was created by an executive order so it can always be abolished by way of an executive order.”

Yulo said he hopes the appointment of the new SRA administrator “is a sign that the president is seriously thinking about prolonging the life of the SRA.”

Yulo also said he hopes the new administrator will uphold and support Sugar Order No. 3 that regulates the entry of high fructose corn syrup into the country as a substitute for sugar.

HFCS has driven down the prices of domestic sugar, industry stakeholders have said.

“Sugar workers fear revocation of Sugar Order No. 3 with Serafica as SRA head,” Wennie Sancho of the Save the Sugar Industry Movement, said.

Save SIM will join the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines if such action looms, he added.

Hernani Braza of NACUSIP also said they are worried Serafica might lift Sugar Order No. 3.

Meanwhile, Piñol's meeting with sugar industry stakeholders in Bacolod on September 29 will allow him to hear the concerns of the different stakeholders, Yulo said.

Piñol said he will meet with labor groups in the morning and the planters in the afternoon while in Bacolod on September 29.

He will also meet farmers and fisherfolk in Negros on September 28.

In Ilog, fiberglass fishing boats will be given to fisherfolk, while in Bago City farm implements will be distributed, he said.*CPG

Source: The Visayan Daily Star

9,000 Negros officials to join PDP-Laban

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 17:36



BY EUGENE Y. ADIONG ON SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

BACOLOD CITY: About 9,000 local officials in Negros Occidental are set to join the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban in a mass oath-taking set for October 5 at the Victorias City Coliseum, according to Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd District).

Benitez said he has invited House Speaker and PDP-Laban Secretary-General Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, PDP- Laban president, to swear in the new party members.

Earlier, Negros Occidental officials led by Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr. and his partymates in the local United Negros Alliance (UNegA) pledged their allegiance to the party of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Benitez heads the rival Love Negros group and has also pledged loyalty to Duterte’s party.

He said there is an ongoing mass oath-taking of PDP-Laban members all over the country and the activity on October 5 will be part of the party’s recruitment.

Benitez added that controversies among some PDP-Laban officials in Manila have not affected the party, especially in the recruitment of members.

Benitez, who is on his last term as congresssman, has been offered a slot in the ruling party’s senatorial line-up for the 2019 national elections.

He, however, has not yet disclosed whether he will accept the offer to run as senator or run as governor to replace the outgoing Maranon.

 

Source: Manila Times

9,000 NegOcc officials to join PDP-Laban oath-taking

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 15:18




Tuesday, September 19, 2017
By Teresa D. Ellera

THIRD District Representative Alfredo Benitez said Monday that about 9,000 local officials in Negros Occidental will join the mass oath-taking of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on October 5 at the Victorias City Coliseum.

Benitez said House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, party secretary-general, will swear in the incoming PDP-Laban members in the province.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, president of PDP-Laban, has also been invited to the oath-taking rites.

Benitez said there is an ongoing mass-oath taking of PDP-Laban members all over the country.

The controversies involving some PDP-Laban officials in Manila have not affected the recruitment of more members, he added.

Housing inquiry

Benitez, chairman of House committee on housing and urban development, said they will continue with the inquiry on the delayed and substandard housing units intended for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) four years ago.

He said that during his personal visit to Tacloban City, he discovered that a number of victims are still staying in temporary shelters because up to this time, the government has not provided them housing units.

Benitez noted that the previous administration allocated with Special Release Allotment Order the amount of P6 billion for the rehabilitation of Yolanda-affected areas but only about 23 percent of the housing units are occupied.

Source: Sunstar Bacolod

Congress’s interest brings fresh hope to Yolanda shelter beneficiaries

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:58




By Elmer Recuerdo - September 18, 2017

BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar—Residents of Barangay 6, a coastal community of over 400 households of this historic town, are edgy when visitors come to make inquiries on their issues with the housing project of the National Housing Authority (NHA).

They have a valid reason for their anxiety. While Supertyphoon Yolanda flattened almost all of the more than 400 houses except for about a dozen or less, the NHA has identified only 165 households qualified for relocation in the resettlement site. Those identified for relocation have issued a “notice of refusal”, citing the poor structural design of the houses built.

“We will just be transferring from a danger zone to a death zone,” rationalized 55-year-old Merlita Alvarina, a fisherman’s wife with 11 children. “We have been raising this concern to the regional office of NHA. We do not want to live there.”

On September 14 officials of the NHA regional office came to Balangiga—the first in almost four years after Yolanda hit—raising hopes of the locals that their concerns will finally be addressed. To their dismay, the visit was only meant to orient the people of the do’s and don’ts when they transfer to the resettlement site.

Alvarina said NHA officials also made an additional listing of beneficiaries of the housing units from two outskirt villages not within the identified danger zones, apparently to anticipate a complete refusal of listed qualified beneficiaries who are presently living along the danger zones.

“This is a mockery of the real intent of the government’s shelter program for Yolanda survivors, which is to help become more resilient to future disasters,” she said.

The NHA is set to construct 460 houses in this municipality, but only two have been completed to date and both houses are being used as sleeping quarters of the workers. Status reports of the project show 230 are “ongoing” construction and the other half have not yet started.

When the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development resumes its congressional hearing on the Yolanda housing this week, two shelter beneficiaries from Eastern Samar are scheduled to testify on the problems surrounding the implementation of the NHA shelter program.

Lita Bagunas, a farmer and president of Uswag Este-Katarungan, said she will bring to the attention of the legislators the formal land and property-rights issue that impeded the implementation of timely construction of government shelters.

“We are asking for our own houses on our own lands. Urban solution is not the solution to farmers’ housing needs,” Bagunas said. “The Congressional committee’s proposal to accept tax declaration, in lieu of titles, is good but we need titles so we will not be excluded from aids.”

Bagunas cited the recommendation of Rep. Alfred B. Benitez of the Third District of Negros Occidental, chairman of the House Committee on Housing, for the NHA to skip the requirement of acquiring only titled lands. This recommendation came in the heels of Benitez confirming with Commission on Audit that requirement of land titles was imposed by NHA itself.

For 47-year-old Imelda Tacalan, a mother of five children, this pronouncement of the lawmaker provides a glimmer of hope to have an acceptable resettlement site for her family.

“Since the NHA has only started building half the number required here, we hope that the other half will be built near our barangay so that the fishermen will not be displaced from their source of income,” she said. “I hope the NHA will not continue building the remaining 230 houses in the same location.”

Residents of Barangay 6 have been endorsing a parcel of flat land some 200 meters from their community as a potential resettlement site. This site was earlier turned down since it was only covered by a tax declaration, instead of a land title.

“We have very high hopes that the Congress will listen to us. We are thankful that they came here for a dialogue to listen to our grievances. It was the first time that a government entity came to hear what we want to say,” she said.

Source: Business Mirror

NHA scolded for being too lax on Yolanda housing works

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:42




Published September 18, 2017, 6:38 PM
By Ellson Quismorio

House of Representatives members on Monday scolded the National Housing Authority (NHA) for being too nonchalant in its supervision of the construction of resettlement sites for super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) victims.

Negros Occidental third district Rep. Alfredo Benitez, Caloocan City second district Rep. Edgar Erice and Eastern Samar lone district Rep. Ben Evardone all agreed during a House inquiry that it’s the NHA’s fault why the construction of homes for the victims remain “snail-placed” nearly four years after the storm.

I think there should be more effort coming from NHA in monitoring and instilling some sort of discipline among the contractors to finish it on time and make sure that there is no slippage,” Benitez told the agency’s general manager, Marcelino Escalada Jr.

Escalada was among the resource persons invited to the probe held by the Benitez-chaired committee on housing and urban development regarding the housing backlog. It was a follow-up on the committee hearing held by congressmen in Tacloban, Leyte on September 1.

Packing winds of 315 kilometers per hour (kph), Yolanda brought the country’s central islands to its knees in November 2013, killing and displacing thousands. At that time, it was the strongest typhoon ever observed.

In his presentation to the housing panel, Escalada said the NHA’s target is to build 205,000 housing units along the Yolanda corridor or the typhoon’s path of destruction from Eastern Samar to Palawan. Of this figure, less than 72,000 have been completed.

Even less, some 24,000, are the units that are actually occupied by the beneficiaries.

Evardone, who filed House Resolution 599 which led to particular inquiry, couldn’t put a finger as to what was delaying the construction of the homes.

One unfinished relocation site that the Visayas solon highlighted was the Hernani Townsville 1 relocation site, located in his district. The NHA official said the contract for the site was awarded on January 7, 2016, while the contractor was given the notice to proceed the following month.

“The point is, (the contracts) have been bid out. Therefore, that means the land conversion and land title have been OK’d. Why has it taken more than a year?” asked Evardone, chairman of the banks and financial intermediaries committee.

Source: Manila Bulletin

Contractor denies using substandard materials in ‘Yolanda’ housing

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 22:30



By: Marc Jayson Cayabyab 07:40 PM September 18, 2017

A contractor denied before a hearing at the House of Representatives on Monday that he had built substandard housing for the victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda.

During the hearing conducted by the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, Juanito Tayag, who owns JC Tayag Builders Inc., lamented that lawmakers deemed as “gospel truth” the allegations of a certain Camilo Salazar that substandard materials were used in the construction of the housing units.

“The alleged substandard issue only happened in one of our project sties in Balangiga,” Tayag said. “However, they declared the construction in Eastern Samar as a whole is substandard. Standard logical principle does not agree that a particular fact can form a general statement. That is malicious.”

Tayag said Salazar was not even an engineer, but a foreman who was relieved over the poor implementation of works and plans.

“We regret to say that the unverified statement of Mr. Salazar was treated as if it was a gospel truth,” Tayag said.

Tayag also justified the slow construction of units, blaming it on the rugged terrain and erroneous topographic data, among others.

He also denied that he resorted to subcontracting, adding that the JC Tayag still “called the shots” in the construction.

In a news conference last Sept. 6, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, committee chair, slammed the “snail-paced implementation” and “substandard” construction of the Yolanda housing units.

He added that only 23,414 of the projected 205,128 housing units were occupied.

Benitez cited a 2017 report of the National Housing Authority, which stated that of the projected 205,128 housing units, only 67,754 units – or 37 percent – were constructed, with only 23,414 units being occupied.

At least 73, 286 units are still under construction, Benitez said.

“As of today, four years has passed, only 23,414 housing units are occupied – a mere 11.4 percent,” Benitez said at the news conference. “This is based on NHA figures. 33 percent has been completed and total of 73,286 units are ongoing construction. [Actually] we’re not convinced that this is the actual number. Asked a special audit by the Commission on Audit to do the investigation and validate these figures.” /atm

Source: Inquirer.net

Contractor denies substandard materials used for Yolanda housing units

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 21:55



Published September 18, 2017 7:21pm
By ERWIN COLCOL, GMA News

The contractor for the Yolanda housing project on Monday denied the accusations against his company regarding the "snail-paced" implementation of the project.

During a hearing by the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, Juanito Tayag, owner of JC Tayag Builders Inc., belied the claim of Camilo Salazar that the materials for the housing project were substandard, among others.

The House panel is investigating the perceived snail-paced implementation of housing relocation and resettlement projects for those affected by Typhoon Yolanda, which battered Eastern Visayas in November 2013, killing over 6,000 people.

Tayag, in his testimony, claimed that, contrary to what Salazar said, they did not use 8- millimeter steel rods for the construction of the houses instead of 10 millimeters.

"The allegation of substandard issue from the unverified statement of Mr. Salazar is malicious. We categorically deny the allegations of Mr. Salazar," he said.

"Our company records can attest to the fact that the company never purchased or used 8-millimeter rods for the construction," he added.

Tayag also added that Salazar is not a licensed engineer, and that his company hired the latter as foreman to oversee their housing projects in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

"The company requested him (Salazar) to bring in more workers and he would be the leader of that labor group.... The company was not satisfied with his performance. He never did show any improvement, which led to his termination," he said.

"The unverified statement of Mr. Salazar was treated as if it was gospel truth," he added.

Tayag also denied the allegation that 80 to 90 percent of the contracts for the housing project was awarded to JC Tayag Builders Inc. "This is absolutely false," he said.

He said that out of the 7,573 housing units in Eastern Samar, only 2,949 units, or 39.9 percent, were constructed by JC Tayag Builders Inc.

"The contracts for the housing units were not given to us on a silver platter. The company underwent in a rigorous process of bidding of NHA," Tayag said, at the same time arguing that there was no delay in the implementation of the housing projects.

"To clarify the role of JC Tayag regarding the housing project, our company entered into a contract with the NHA to construct some housing units. We agreed that the implementation of the projects started way back in 2013," he said.

"But please take note, that the notice to proceed with the project was released by NHA in early and mid-2016. So it is not true that we started the project four years ago," he added.

For his part, Salazar did not deny Tayag's testimony that he was not a licensed engineer. "Ang sinabi po ni Mr. Tayag, lahat po ng documents na sinubmit ko, ay Camilo Salazar, wala pong engineer," he said.

Negros Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez, the chairman of the committee, admitted that it was only them who called Salazar an engineer.

"Mukhang kami lang yata ang naglagay ng engineer sa inyo e," Benitez said, drawing laughter from the attendees of the hearing.

Despite this, Salazar insisted that his expertise and rich experience in the field makes him more than qualified for the job.

The House panel earlier warned that Tayag may face plunder and estafa complaints over the allegedly anomalous construction of housing units.

A deeper investigation into the matter, with the help of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, should also be conducted, the panel said.

The Commission on Audit and the Department of Public Works and Highways should also look into the structural integrity of the houses constructed for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, they added. —KBK, GMA News

Source: GMA News Online

GMA News 24 Oras: Isyu sa Pabahay

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 19:35


Sep 18, 2017




Source: GMA News Online

Victorias Inks Perpetual Right To Use Deal With VMC-CDC

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:45



on Monday, September 18, 2017

The City Government of Victorias and Canetown Development Corporation (CDC), a subsidiary of Victorias Milling Company (VMC) signed the agreement on the perpetual right to use of the 10-hectare land in Brgy. XIX-A, Victorias City, at the Mayor’s Conference Room.

The land to be donated shall be used as housing relocation site of the informal settlers within VMC and Daan Banwa.

Victorias City was represented by Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca, VMC, the mother company of CDC was represented by its President and CEO Eduardo Concepcion and CDC by its President and General Manager Roy Hautea.

Third District Representative of Negros Occidental Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, head of Committee on Housing in the House of Representatives and lead convenor of the Visayan Bloc, also joined the signing.

Mayor Palanca fully supports the program of Cong. Benitez and his initiation of the donation from VMC as he also expressed his gratitude to VMC for the life-changing deed, “A big part of what Victorias is now, we owe it to VMC. We are most grateful to VMC for attending to the need of its close to or over a thousand informal settlers.”

Cong. Benitez lauded VMC, its management and board for its generous gesture with the assurance from the local and national government, “We will make sure that it is properly designed, properly planned to create a viable community so that donation does not go to waste.” Furthermore, Concepcion supports the vision of Mayor Palanca and Cong. Benitez in building a model community, “What we are having now is part of VMC being a good corporate citizen”, he said.

Along with Cong. Benitez are District Coordinator on Housing Concerns Marie June Castro, his Media Consultant Laarni Aguilar and Geographical Coordinator Alana Montepio.

VMC Chief Administrative Officer Atty. Eva Rodriguez and VMC Asset Management Department Head Moises Romy Depasucat graced the event.

Victorias City officials, punong barangays, department, section and division heads, and City stakeholders and guests witnessed the activity.*

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

Victorias, Canetown ink pact

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 21:54



on Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Victorias City government and Canetown Development, a subsidiary of Victorias Milling Co., signed an agreement on the perpetual right to use of the 10-hectare land in Brgy. XIX-A, Victorias City, at the Mayor's Conference Room, yesterday, a press release from Victorias City Hall said.

The donated land will be used as a housing relocation site of the informal settlers within VMC and Daan Banwa.

Victorias City was represented by Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca, VMC, by its president and CEO Eduardo Concepcion, and CDC by its president and general manager Roy Hautea.

Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Negros, 3rd district), head of Committee on Housing in the House of Representatives and lead convenor of the Visayan Bloc, also joined the signing, the press release said.

Palanca fully supports the program of Benitez and his initiation of the donation from VMC,and also expressed his gratitude to VMC for the life-changing deed, the press release said.

“A big part of what Victorias is now, we owe to VMC. We are most grateful to VMC for attending to the needs of its close to, or over a thousandinformal settlers,” he said.

Benitez lauded VMC, its management and board for its generous gesture with the assurance from the local and national government, “We will make sure that it is properly designed, properly planned to create a viable community so that the donation does not go to waste,” the press release said.

“What we are having now is part of VMC being a good corporate citizen”, Concepcion said.*

Source: The Visayan Daily Star

Update Today from Committee on Housing

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 18:00


September 13, 2017



Panukalang batas para sa pamamahagi ng lupa para sa mga informal settler families sa Barangay Krus na Ligas, Quezon City at Welfareville, Mandaluyong City, pasado na sa Committee on Housing sa pangunguna ni Cong. Albee Benitez!



The Committee on Housing and Urban Development, led by Rep. Albee Benitez, approved HB 165 authored by Speaker Sonny Belmonte and HB 1848 authored by Rep. Menchie Gonzales, authorizing the disposition of parcels of lands to bona fide residents in Barangay Krus na Ligas, Quezon City, and Welfareville, Mandaluyong City, respectively.


Retirement pay for barangay officials, health workers pushed

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 22:26




Updated September 12, 2017, 3:44 PM
By Charissa Luci-Atienza

A House leader is calling on his colleagues to pass a bill seeking to provide retirement pay not only for barangay officials, but also for barangay tanods, health workers and Day Care workers.

Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez sought the creation of a Barangay Retirement Fund which shall be used to finance the retirement of barangay officials, barangay tanods, members of the Lupon ng Tagapamayapa, barangay health workers and Day Care workers.

“Barangay workers are in the frontline of government services in the grassroots. They deliver the much-needed basic social services to the people and maintain peace and order, ” he said in seeking to amend Section 393 of Republic Act 7160, as amended, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.

“However, given the limited resources of the government, these barangay front liners also receive the least compensation. This reality has not discouraged some of our fellow Filipinos to serve their respective barangays and some have even stayed in barangay work for many years, ” Benitez said.

Benitez filed House Bill 6240 to provide all barangay officials and workers a lump sum retirement pay equivalent to one year honorarium.

The retiree should be at least 60 years of age with a minimum of 9 years in service at the time of the retirement, the bill provides.

HB 6240 tasks the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to administer and ensure the appropriate disbursement of the Barangay Retirement Fund.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) , in coordination with the DILG, shall issue the necessary rules and regulations to implement the proposed Act.

Source: Manila Bulletin

Albee thanked for assistance

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 07:52



on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Melina Monecillo of Barangay Lantad in Silay City, recently thanked Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd Distict) for the educational assistance given to her daughter, a press release from his office said yesterday.

She said her daughter Angel in 2015 graduated Cum Laude from STI-WNU with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Criminology.

Angel Monecillo is one of the more than 7,000 students from all over the Third District of Negros Occidental who has successfully graduated from college under the educational assistance program of Benitez since his first term of office in 2010

Closely coordinating with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the office of Benitez e is able to facilitate assistance for students enrolled in both public and private colleges in the District and in Bacolod City, the press release said.

On Saturday at the Silay City Plaza covered court, a total of 1,600 old and new grantees of the Tulong- Dunong Program met with Benitez for a dialog and an orientation from CHED Region VI representatives on new guidelines of the program.

CHED officials at the orientation were Cristy Laurente representing regional director Cesar Medina and Supervisor Ma. Karen Catalina Zaldivar.

Silay City Mayor Mark Golez welcomed the guests and participants to the orientation and dialog.*

Source: The Visayan Daily Star

‘Tulong Dunong’ grantees attend dialog

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 21:41




Monday, September 11, 2017

ABOUT 1,600 old and new grantees of the Tulong Dunong Program in the Third District of Negros Occidental attended an orientation and dialogue with Representative Alfredo Benitez on Saturday, September 9, at Silay City Plaza covered court.



BACOLOD. Negros Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez (seated, left) and Silay City Mayor Mark Golez (standing, right) with the Tulong Dunong scholarship grantees during the orientation and dialogue and held Saturday. (Contributed Photo)

Tulong Dunong scholarship is being initiated by Benitez in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education (Ched)-Western Visayas represented during the activity by Cristy Laurente, on behalf of Regional Director Cesar Medina, and supervisor Ma. Karen Catalina Zaldivar.

Silay City Mark Golez welcomed the guests and participants.

Benitez reminded the grantees to study seriously, graduate, and join the mainstream of productive citizens of the country.

He also gave an update on the legislative initiatives to help strengthen the education system, including the implementation of free tuition in state universities and colleges next year, and the installation of Wi-Fi facilities in public areas around the country.

Melina Monecillo of Barangay Lantad in Silay City, mother of beneficiary Angel Monecillo, thanked Benitez for the opportunity that enabled her daughter to graduate cum laude in Criminology from the STI West Negros University in 2015.

Monecillo is one of the more than 7,000 students from the Third District who finished college through the Tulong Dunong since Benitez’s first term that started in 2010.

Also present to be updated on the 2017 financial assistance guidelines were the scholarship program coordinators of Carlos Hilado Memorial State College in Talisay City; Central Philippines State University and Colegio de Sta. Ana in Victorias City; Silay Institute; University of St. La Salle, Colegio de San Agustin-Bacolod, Bacolod City College and STI WNU in Bacolod City; and Bago City College.

Source: Sunstar Bacolod

Cong. Albee in a Dialogue With Tulong- Dunong Grantees

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 08:53



on Monday, September 11, 2017


Mrs. Melina Monecillo of Barangay Lantad in Silay City, mother of an educational assistance beneficiary was not in the program but approached the organizers for a chance to thank Congressman Alfredo Benitez on stage. So Nanay Melina was called to say her brief pasalamat for the opportunity given her daughter, Angel who in 2015 graduated Cum Laude from STI-WNU with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Criminology.



Nanay Melina Monecillo of Barangay Lantad, Silay City, mother of a Tulong-Dunong grantee.

Angel Monecillo is one of the more than 7,000 students from all over District Three in Negros Occidental who have successfully graduated from college under the educational assistance program of Congressman Benitez since his first term of office in 2010. Closely coordinating with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Congressman Benitez office is able to facilitate assistance for students enrolled in both public and private colleges in the District and in Bacolod City.

Last September 9 (Saturday), 2017 at the Silay City Plaza covered court, a total of 1,600 old and new grantees of the Tulong - Dunong Program met with Congressman Benitez for a dialogue and an orientation from CHED Region VI representatives on new guidelines of the program.

As the students met Congressman Benitez up close to extend their thanks, he reminded all the grantees to continue their studies seriously, graduate successfully and join the mainstream of productive citizens of the country. He also updated them of recent legislative initiatives to help strengthen the education system in the country – the implementation next year of free tuition in state universities and colleges and the installation of Wi-fi facilities in many public areas around the country that will boost the technical capability of Filipinos to cope with global trends.

CHED officials in the orientation were Cristy Laurente representing regional director Cesar Medina and Supervisor Ma. Karen Catalina Zaldivar.

Also present to be updated on the 2017 financial assistance guidelines are the scholarship program coordinators of Carlos Hilado Memorial State College in Talisay City; Central Philippines State University and Colegio de Sta. Ana in Victorias City; Silay Institute; University of St. La Salle, Colegio de San Agustin, Bacolod City College and STI-WNU in Bacolod City; and Bago City College.

Silay City Mark Golez welcomed guests and participants to the orientation and dialogue.*

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

Sugar leaders ask 6-year moratorium on excise tax

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 16:35




Friday, September 08, 2017
By MARCHEL P. ESPINA

SUGAR industry leaders in Negros Occidental are seeking a six-year moratorium on the imposition of excise tax on sugar sweetened drinks.

This was announced by former vice governor Emilio Yulo III, spokesperson of Sugar Alliance of the Philippines, during the “Sugar and More” Negros Summit held Thursday, September 7, at the Sugarland Hotel in Bacolod City.

Yulo, who also represented Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri in the gathering, said the committee report on the tax reform package will be released in the next few weeks.

He said the sugar industry will be one of those that will be “heavily affected” by the proposed tax reform.

Yulo said they are hoping that the sugar sector and stakeholders will be able to send resolutions asking for a six-year moratorium.

He said the excise tax will impact the sugar industry “twice” as the bill also included excise tax on diesel.

“The cost production will go up. If the diesel goes up, the basic commodities will also go up. It will affect the cost of labor…its effect will have lower demand for domestic sugar,” Yulo pointed out.

He said their main contention is that it’s useless for the government to help the sugar industry with the P2-billion allocation from the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (Sida) when it will be imposing taxes that will kill the industry.

He added that the national government should allow the Sida to work first before imposing the tax.

The Comprehensive Tax Reform bill was already passed by the House of Representatives.

Under the tax reform package, the excise tax on sweetened beverages using locally produced sugar will be P10 per liter while those using high fructose corn syrup will be taxed P20 per liter.

He said they are hoping “they would (senators) be able to make known our sentiments.”

Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez, for his part, said the P10 per liter excise tax on locally produced sugar is “immovable” as it was insisted by the Department of Finance, which is why the lawmakers moved for higher tax on imported sweetener.

He said the tax reform bill will have “very rough sailing” in the Senate.

Source: Sunstar Bacolod

‘Stronger actions’ for sugar industry

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 18:42




Friday, September 08, 2017
By MARCHEL P. ESPINA

LOCAL government officials in Negros Occidental are seeking stronger action from various stakeholders to strengthen the sugar industry amid the challenges it is facing.

During the “Sugar and MoreNegros Summit held Thursday, September 7, at the Sugarland Hotel in Bacolod City, industry leaders and stakeholders agreed to submit resolutions to various agencies and institutions in the effort to strengthen measures.

Former governor Rafael Coscolluela, consultant on Capitol Investments, Promotions and Trade, proposed 21 resolutions to the body that will be addressed to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), Congress, Provincial Government, local government units, and Mill District Development Councils.

The resolutions include the mobilization and strengthening of the Sugar Industry Development Council (SIDC); opposition to excise tax on sugar sweetened drinks; farm mechanization program; infrastructure development coordination; agro-industrial development program; project development assistance center; Negros First Development Corporation; sugar mill diversification; mill standards; SRA rightsizing; Alliance for Negros Island Development Agenda; cane transport rationalization study; and public relations campaign.

Coscolluela also proposed the conduct of annual sugar industry summit and establishment of “Sugar and More” technical working group.

He said there are lots of players in the sugar industry.

“We want these players to have a clear idea on what their role is, and perform that role,” he added.

For lack of strong coordinating mechanism, there has been a tendency for stakeholders to move on their own, Coscolluela said, as he hoped that with the proposed reorganization of SIDC, it would play “more significant role” in harmonizing all the efforts of the industry.

He said the SIDC was established when the Sugarcane Industry Development Act was passed.

“If the SIDC is inactive, it needs to be reactivated and strengthened. It is the mechanism we hope to provide cohesion,” he added.

Coscolluela pointed out that there are many good plans, but there is “no follow through.”

He said the lead agency should be the SRA, though he lamented the downsizing in the agency.

Coscolluela said the rightsizing proposal of the agency was disapproved by the Department of Budget and Management.

“How can SRA perform its mandate if it doesn’t have enough people?” he asked.

Challenges

Among the challenges affecting the sugar industry were competition, drop in domestic prices, world market surplus, large carry-over inventory, labor shortage and increasing costs of production, health issue, change in consumption patterns and excise taxes on fuel, Coscolluela said during the summit.

He said its impact to Negros include multiple challenges which discourage sugarcane growing or encourage shift to more viable agri-ventures; sugar mills lose revenue from reduced cane supply and lower prices; drop in prices/increasing costs affect growers’ viability; cost reduction measures will affect income of laborers; sugar workers will look for jobs in construction and others; lack of labor will affect milling and cultivation and speed up shift to mechanization; and consumer spending affected by belt tightening.

Moreover, Coscolluela said the strategic action plan for sugar includes measures to position Negros Island’s sugarcane industry as competitive, diversified, and sustainable sector of the economy and develop blueprint for a more resilient, balanced, and sustainable economy.

He said the key issues and concerns in the industry are the changing market; sugar policy; government policies and programs; research, development, and extension; coordination and networking among stakeholders; inefficiencies throughout the value chain; labor shortage; industry and product image; and attitudes and perceptions of planters, millers and the public.

Industry shift?

Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez said that leaders have to “dig deeper” as the industry maybe facing a business shift.

“In a sense of what we have now was overtaken by other situation due to technology, so we have to dig deeper whether we are still viable or we need re-tooling or refining for us to move forward,” he pointed out.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said that more can be achieved if everybody will work together.

He said the industry is facing many challenges because of globalization.

The Capitol has started to help the province diversify, he said.

Moreover, Marañon said the sugar industry needs to have a road map.

“It’s about time the sugar industry have rules and regulations and system. We have to reduce our cost. Before, we have high cost and cheap labor. Now, we can mechanize to reduce cost production,” he added.

Source: Sunstar Bacolod

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