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IN 3RD DISTRICT Mayors welcome Teach for the Philippines

Sat, 11/18/2017 - 14:19



on Sat, 11/18/2017



Rep. Alfredo Benitez (seated, center), with Talisay Mayor Neil Lizares, Victorias Mayor Wantan Palanca, TFP vice-chair Margarita Delgado, and Silay Mayor Mark Golez (seated, l-r); and (standing) councilors, education consultants, and DepEd representatives*

Nine teacher-fellows trained by Teach for the Philippines will immerse themselves in selected public schools in the cities of Talisay, Silay and Victorias, in the third district of Negros Occidental by June 2018, to help provide innovation and more productivity in the learning system to improve the performance of teachers and students, a press release from the Office of Third District Rep. Alfredo Benitez said.

This was the initial agreement with the mayors of Talisay, Silay and Victorias, with Teach for the Philippines vice-chairperson Margarita Delgado and Benitez, who attended the recent gathering of education stakeholders in Talisay City where the TFP presented their Fellowship Program flagship initiative.

Benitez initiated the orientation activity, attended by Talisay Mayor Neil Lizares, Silay Mayor Mark Golez, and Victorias Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca, together with their respective sanggunian chairpersons on education committee, and education consultants. Also present were Negros Occ. Division OIC SDS Gladys Amylaine Sales, and Silay Schools Division admin officer Jowel Alimon, the press release said.

Teach for the Philippines is a nationwide non-profit organization working with progressive local governments and school divisions that share the common vision for education equity. The Fellowship Program recruits volunteers from diverse academic disciplines and professional backgrounds, provides them with intensive pre-service training on progressive teaching, and fields them on a two-year leadership development program in a Philippine public school. The teacher-fellows immerse themselves in the classroom and the community, interacting with students, teachers, parents and neighbors, even village leaders, and exploring holistic education approaches to attain enrichment breakthroughs.

Benitez said “in harnessing the best and the brightest, we are helping to upgrade the education system in the countryside. If we have good teachers, we will also have good students.”

A memorandum of agreement is expected to be finalized with participating stakeholders by end of January 2018, as the mayors and councilors assured the TFP of support, the press release said.

The TFP was also represented by Jan Kevin Rivera, interim director for government relations and placement, and Levi Guillermo Geganzo, the manager for government relations and placement, the press release added.*

Source: The Visayan Daily Star

3rd District Mayors Welcome ‘Teach For The Philippines’

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 12:27



on Thu, 11/16/2017

By June 2018, nine teacher-fellows trained by Teach for the Philippines will immerse themselves in selected public schools in the cities of Talisay, Silay and Victorias in the Third District of Negros Occidental, to help provide innovation and more productivity in the learning system to improve performance of both teachers and students.

This was the initial agreement with the Mayors of Talisay, Silay and Victorias, with Teach for the Philippines vice-chairperson Margarita Delgado and Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez who attended the recent gathering of education stakeholders in Talisay City where TFP presented their flagship initiative, the Fellowship Program.

Cong. Benitez initiated the orientation activity, attended by Talisay Mayor Neil Lizares, Silay Mayor Mark Golez and Victorias Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca together with members of their respective City Councils’ chairpersons on education committees and education consultants. Also present were Negros Occ. Division OIC SDS Gladys Amylaine Sales, and Silay Schools Division Admin Officer Jowel Alimon.

Teach for the Philippines (TFP) is a nationwide non-profit organization working with progressive local governments and school divisions who share the common vision for education equity. The Fellowship Program recruits volunteers from diverse academic disciplines and professional backgrounds, provide them with intensive pre-service training on progressive teaching, and fields them on a two-year leadership development program in a Philippine public school. The teacher-fellows immerse themselves in the classroom and the community, interacting with students, teachers, parents and neighbors, even village leaders, exploring holistic education approaches to attain enrichment breakthroughs.

Cong. Benitez said as he welcomed TFP for the Third District, “In harnessing the best and the brightest, we are helping to upgrade the education system in the countryside. If we have good teachers, we will also have good students.”

A memorandum of agreement is expected to be finalized with participating stakeholders by end of January 2018, as the Mayors and Councilors assured the TFP of support in ensuring the cooperation of their respective City Councils

TFP was also represented by Jan Kevin Rivera, interim director for government relations and placement, and Levi Guillermo Geganzo, manager for government relations and placement.*

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

Negros Occidental 3rd District Mayors Sign Agreement with Teach for the Philippines

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 12:16



November 16, 2017

The mayors of third congressional district local government units Talisay City, Silay City, and Victorias City recently signed an agreement that would have teacher-fellows trained by Teach for the Philippines (TFP), a non-profit organization that works to expanding education across the country, working in local public schools.



(From left) Talisay City Mayor Neil Lizares III, Victorias City Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca, Negros Occidental third district Rep. Alfredo Benitez, Teach for the Philippines (TFP) Vice Chair Margarita Delgado, and Silay City Mayor Mark Andrew Golez after signing an agreement to have TFP teacher-fellows work in local public schools.

The mayors took part in the signing alongside Negros Occidental third district Rep. Alfredo Benitez and TFP Vice Chair Margarita Delgado.

“We are helping to upgrade the education system in the countryside,” the congressman said. “If we have good teachers, we will also have good students.”

Also present at the signing were Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Schools Division Superintendent for Negros Occidental Gladys Amylines Sales and Silay Schools Division Administrative Officer Jowel Alimon./WDJ

Source: Watchmen Daily Journal

Silay, Habitat ink housing project MOA

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 21:08



on Tue, 11/14/2017

Silay City Government and Habitat for Humanity Philippines Foundation, Inc. signed a memorandum of agreement yesterday for a multi-million housing project in Brgy. E Lopez, Silay City.

The MOA signed by Mayor Mark Andrew Arthur Golez of Silay, and Michael Meaney, Managing Director of HHPF, covers the construction of an initial 100 units of cement-bamboo frame housing units in 10 months, with an estimated cost of about P45 million.

Third District Representative Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who is the chair of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, and Lili Fuentes, project director of Habitat, signed as witnesses.

The duplexes will be constructed at BonBon Resettlement Project Phase 3, which was developed by the Silay City Government using financial assistance from the National Housing Authority under the LGU Resettlement Assistance Program.

In his message prior to the signing, Mayor Golez thanked Habitat for the project which he said will be a big help to the less fortunate brothers and sisters of the City.

For his part, Meaney, said he is looking forward to a strong partnership between Habitat and the City of Silay.

The MOA signed initially covers 100 units but Habitat is committed to raise funds to complete the construction of 546 housing units, including some community facilities.

Congressman Benitez welcomes the project and also shared some sustainable initiatives being piloted in some housing sites, such as, the provision of water to the households using solar-powered driven pumps.

Also present during the signing ceremony held at the Operations Center in Silay City were Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, Francisco Benitez brother of Cong. Albee and President of the Philippine Women's University, Vice Mayor Joedith Gallego, City Administrator Ryan Montoro, and councilors Linda Caja and Tom Ledesma of the committee on housing.

Vice Governor Lacson said, he is glad to know that bamboo will be used in the project, citing that the province of Negros Occidental is currently have a strong advocacy to promote bamboo.

Meanwhile, E. B. Magalona Mayor Malacon, who was also present during the MOA signing, together with the municipal councilors, said he is hopeful that with their efforts in housing, in coordination with Municipal Planning Officer Erwin Poniado, they will also be future partners of Habitat

Other guests during the MOA signing also included Judges Dyna Trocio, Ana Bernad and Eunice Cuansing, and members of I-HOME-Bacolod.

Habitat Bacolod/Panay staff Ma. Victoria Abello, Silay Housing Authority Officer Alore Golez and her staff, and Marie June Pavillar-Castro, District Coordinator on Housing Concerns, assisted during the MOA signing and provided technical assistance support during several project meetings.*

Source: The Visayan Daily Star

Silay, Habitat for Humanity sign housing project deal

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 21:03




on Tue, 11/14/2017

Silay City Government and Habitat for Humanity Philippines Foundation, Inc. signed a memorandum of agreement yesterday for a multi-million housing project in Brgy. E Lopez, Silay City.



BACOLOD. The signing of the memorandum of agreement Monday between Silay City and Habitat for Humanity Philippines Foundation Inc. for the construction of a multi-million housing in Barangay E. Lopez was led by Mayor Mark Golez (seated, 3rd from right) and HHPFI Managing Director Michael Meaney (2nd from right), in the presence of Third District Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd from left) and HHPFI project director Lili Fuentes (right) with Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson (2nd from left) and Francisco Benitez (left). (Contributed Photo/Jujean Aboy)

The MOA signed by Mayor Mark Andrew Arthur Golez of Silay, and Michael Meaney, Managing Director of HHPF, covers the construction of an initial 100 units of cement-bamboo frame housing units in 10 months, with an estimated cost of about P45 million.

Third District Representative Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who is the chair of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, and Lili Fuentes, project director of Habitat, signed as witnesses.

The duplexes will be constructed at BonBon Resettlement Project Phase 3, which was developed by the Silay City Government using financial assistance from the National Housing Authority under the LGU Resettlement Assistance Program.

In his message prior to the signing, Mayor Golez thanked Habitat for the project which he said will be a big help to the less fortunate brothers and sisters of the City.

For his part, Meaney, said he is looking forward to a strong partnership between Habitat and the City of Silay.

The MOA signed initially covers 100 units but Habitat is committed to raise funds to complete the construction of 546 housing units, including some community facilities.

Congressman Benitez welcomes the project and also shared some sustainable initiatives being piloted in some housing sites, such as, the provision of water to the households using solar-powered driven pumps.

Also present during the signing ceremony held at the Operations Center in Silay City were Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, Francisco Benitez brother of Cong. Albee and President of the Philippine Women's University, Vice Mayor Joedith Gallego, City Administrator Ryan Montoro, and councilors Linda Caja and Tom Ledesma of the committee on housing.

Vice Governor Lacson said, he is glad to know that bamboo will be used in the project, citing that the province of Negros Occidental is currently have a strong advocacy to promote bamboo.

Meanwhile, E. B. Magalona Mayor Malacon, who was also present during the MOA signing, together with the municipal councilors, said he is hopeful that with their efforts in housing, in coordination with Municipal Planning Officer Erwin Poniado, they will also be future partners of Habitat

Other guests during the MOA signing also included Judges Dyna Trocio, Ana Bernad and Eunice Cuansing, and members of I-HOME-Bacolod.

Habitat Bacolod/Panay staff Ma. Victoria Abello, Silay Housing Authority Officer Alore Golez and her staff, and Marie June Pavillar-Castro, District Coordinator on Housing Concerns, assisted during the MOA signing and provided technical assistance support during several project meetings.* PR

Source: Sunstar Bacolod

Silay Gov't & Habitat for Humanity Sign MOA for Housing Project

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 09:19



on Tue, 11/14/2017

Silay City Government and Habitat for Humanity Philippines Foundation, Inc. signed a memorandum of agreement yesterday for a multi-million housing project in Brgy. E Lopez, Silay City.



MOA Signing: From right, Lili Fuentes and Michael Meaney of Habitat for Humanity Philippines, Silay Mayor Mark Andrew Arthur Golez, Cong. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, Vice Governor Eugenio Lacson and Francisco Benitez holding signed the memorandum of agreement between Silay City and HHPFI. Standing behind are housing stakeholders and legislators of Silay City, Habitat, and I-HOME Bacolod.*

The MOA signed by Mayor Mark Andrew Arthur Golez of Silay, and Michael Meaney, Managing Director of HHPF, covers the construction of an initial 100 units of cement-bamboo frame housing units in 10 months, with an estimated cost of about P45 million.

Third District Representative Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who is the chair of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, and Lili Fuentes, project director of Habitat, signed as witnesses.

The duplexes will be constructed at BonBon Resettlement Project Phase 3, which was developed by the Silay City Government using financial assistance from the National Housing Authority under the LGU Resettlement Assistance Program.

In his message prior to the signing, Mayor Golez thanked Habitat for the project which he said will be a big help to the less fortunate brothers and sisters of the City.

For his part, Meaney, said he is looking forward to a strong partnership between Habitat and the City of Silay.

The MOA signed initially covers 100 units but Habitat is committed to raise funds to complete the construction of 546 housing units, including some community facilities.

Congressman Benitez welcomes the project and also shared some sustainable initiatives being piloted in some housing sites, such as, the provision of water to the households using solar-powered driven pumps.

Also present during the signing ceremony held at the Operations Center in Silay City were Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, Francisco Benitez brother of Cong. Albee and President of the Philippine Women's University, Vice Mayor Joedith Gallego, City Administrator Ryan Montoro, and councilors Linda Caja and Tom Ledesma of the committee on housing.

Vice Governor Lacson said, he is glad to know that bamboo will be used in the project, citing that the province of Negros Occidental is currently have a strong advocacy to promote bamboo.

Meanwhile, E. B. Magalona Mayor Malacon, who was also present during the MOA signing, together with the municipal councilors, said he is hopeful that with their efforts in housing, in coordination with Municipal Planning Officer Erwin Poniado, they will also be future partners of Habitat

Other guests during the MOA signing also included Judges Dyna Trocio, Ana Bernad and Eunice Cuansing, and members of I-HOME-Bacolod.

Habitat Bacolod/Panay staff Ma. Victoria Abello, Silay Housing Authority Officer Alore Golez and her staff, and Marie June Pavillar-Castro, District Coordinator on Housing Concerns, assisted during the MOA signing and provided technical assistance support during several project meetings.*(Marie June Pavillar-Castro)

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

Solon eyes zero backlog in ‘Yolanda’ housing

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 17:11



November 10, 2017 at 11:10 am by Maricel Cruz and Bill Casas

THE chairperson of the House of Representatives’ committee on housing and urban development has urged the National Housing Authority to aim for zero backlog in housing units intended for families affected by Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, chairperson of the House of Representatives committee on housing, issued this after over 190,000 housing units were reported due for completion by next year for the families of “Yolanda” survivors who suffer the wrath of the strong typhoon in 2013.

“Next year, the fifth anniversary of ‘‘Yolanda’’ should be observed with all homeless victims being made to experience the comforts of having their own homes,” Benitez said.

Meanwhile, Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez on Wednesday night led the sundown memorial in Tacloban City where she and Taclobanons released at least 1,000 sky lanterns to honor the first responders and casualties of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”

“Tonight [Wednesday], we pay tribute and salute the selflessness of all volunteers and organizations that took part and contributed in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the communities affected by the typhoon,”  Romualdez told the crowd at the Sangyawan grounds of the Balyuan Center facing Cancabato Bay near Tacloban City Hall during the 4th anniversary of Yolanda.  

“The overwhelming support that came our way, gave us comfort and hope amidst the wrath of devastation,” Romualdez said.

“We celebrate the strength and resilience of our people, of our phenomenal capacity to survive that could prove to be an inspiration to our fellow Filipinos, many of which live amidst challenges caused by disasters and conflict,” Romualdez added.

In her speech, Romualdez asked prayers for “Yolanda” victims, stressing they should not be forgotten as their deaths raised awareness on disaster management and prevention not only in the country, but in the entire world.

At the same time, poor farmers and fisherfolks from Eastern Visayas lamented Wednesday their situation they said was far from the state of recovery and rehabilitation. 

“Contrary to the government’s claim that Yolanda disaster victims in Eastern Visayas will benefit from the Asean integration and Asean free trade area, real recovery and rehabilitation will remain distant as long as landlessness and feudal conditions exist. EV is an agricultural and coastal region. Land-use conversion and declaring shores as no-dwelling zones only favors local and foreign business interests,”  said Antonio Flores, secretary-general of KMP. 

      “Year after year, Eastern Visayas farmers and fisherfolks can only hope for real recovery. More than the calamitous effects of Yolanda, their lives and livelihood are always kept at worst conditions by the perennial landlessness and poverty in the entire region. Even before Yolanda, Eastern Visayas and its provinces are among the poorest in the country. The hunger and poverty situation went from worse to extreme,” Flores said.

According to IBON Foundation, 53 percent  of EV’s farmers are landless, 27 percent are underemployed and 39 percent of the regional population are among the poorest. 

The delivery of social services is slow and corruption-ridden. 

Only 25 percent of the promised housing units were delivered and 47 percent of livelihood services was accessed. 

Benitez also called for the swift release of funds to finance  Typhoon Yolanda Housing Project as noted by the Commission on Audit in the recently released 2016 Annual Financial Report for Government -Owned and -Controlled Corporations that included NHA.

Benitez said CoA also cited the alleged failure of the NHA and other agencies involved in “Yolanda” housing to make available relocation sites for displaced families in the typhoon-stricken areas.

“After the target three-year period for providing homeless families with a roof over their heads lapsed last year, only half of the target houses were completed. I find this fact sickening,” Benitez said.

Citing COA’s 2016 AFR, Benitez said the NHA completed only 49.84 percent or 190,413 houses out of the target 382,082 units in 2016.

Benitez also lamented that of the total houses completed and ready for distribution, only 76,004 are actually occupied.

“Many Yolanda victims have aired strong doubts as to the structural integrity of the houses being offered them. Corruption is to be blamed for this,” Benitez said.

Benitez earlier vowed to bring to justice officials and private contractors for the delay and substandard quality of housing projects.

“Four years have passed yet thousands still live in temporary housing or in danger zones,” Benitez lamented.

“It appears that, for many families, the tragedy continues,” he added.

Benitez’s committee earlier conducted a series of public hearings in Eastern Samar, Tacloban and Congress since August to probe the snail-paced implementation of “Yolanda” housing projects; and uncovered substantial information that aside from delays in the construction, substandard materials were used in the Yolanda housing project in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

In her speech, Romualdez said: “As we lift to the heaven these sky lanterns, we raise our prayers for our departed loved ones, for blessings on all dear to us, for peace in our homes and communities, and for the strength to move on and rise again.”

“November 8 is a day we will never forget. We will never forget the

friends and family we lost. We will never forget the pain and grief.

We will always remember the courage and selflessness of those who come to our side,” said Romualdez.

She added: “That is why every 8th of November is a date we will hold sacred, when

we recall how one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded,

struck our home region, leaving tens of thousands of people dead and

missing, millions homeless and livelihoods destroyed. 

“It was the worst of times, the adversities we will always keep in our hearts.”

Source: Manila Standard

Solon’s challenge: Zero backlog in ‘Yolanda’ housing

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 14:59




Published November 8, 2017, 10:00 PM
By Ben Rosario

Bring to zero the more than 190,000 backlog in housing units for Yolanda-affected families when the nation observes next year the fifth anniversary of the worst typhoon tragedy that hit the country in recent history.

That was the challenge aired by the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on housing to the National Housing Authority (NHA) when the country marked the fourth anniversary of the super-typhoon yesterday.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez also called for the swift release of funds to finance the Typhoon Yolanda Housing Project as noted by the Commission on Audit in the recently-released 2016 Annual Financial Report for Government Owned and -Controlled Corporations that included NHA.

“Next year, the fifth anniversary of Yolanda should be observed with all homeless victims being made to experience the comforts of having their own homes,” Benitez said.

Benitez said COA has also aired misgivings over the failure of the NHA and other agencies involved in Yolanda housing to make available relocation sites for displaced families in the typhoon stricken areas.

“After the target three-year period for providing homeless families with a roof over their heads lapsed last year, only half of the target houses were completed.  I find this fact sickening,” said Benitez.

Citing COA’s 2016 AFR, Benitez said that only 49.84 percent or 190,413 houses out of the target 382,082 units were completed by NHA in 2016.

The PDP-Laban stalwart also lamented that of the total houses completed and ready for distribution, only 76,004 are actually occupied.

“Many Yolanda victims have aired strong doubts as to the structural integrity of the houses being offered them.  Corruption is to be blamed for this,” Benitez said.

Earlier, the senior administration lawmaker vowed to bring to justice officials and private contractors for the delay and substandard quality of housing projects.

Since August, Rep. Benitez has led a series of public hearings in Eastern Samar, Tacloban and Congress to investigate the snail-paced implementation of Yolanda housing projects.

The committee had uncovered substantial information showing that aside from delays in the construction, substandard materials were used in the Yolanda housing project in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

An inspection team directed by the committee had discovered the use of 8 millimeter re-bars in the housing project in Balangiga.

In a joint meeting with the committee on good government in September, lawmakers had grilled National Housing Authority (NHA) officials on allegations of irregular bidding process where a single contractor – JC Tayag Builders – cornered the R800-million housing project in Eastern Samar.

 

Source: Manila Bulletin

4 years after ‘Yolanda’, victims still homeless

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 20:04




November 8, 2017
By TARA YAP, Charissa M. Luci-Atienza

ILOILO CITY – Four years after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the housing project for typhoon survivors in Antique province seems far from being completed.

Fr. Jose Elmer Cajilig, Western Visayas convenor of Kilusang Pagbabago (KP), said his group received complaints from residents of Bugasong and Pandan towns.

A pro-Duterte group, KP went to Bugasong and found that the housing project of the National Housing Authority (NHA) remains unfinished and that survivors are yet to be told of any concrete date for them to occupy the 1,787 housing units.

Residents outside the unfinished housing project said their homes are flooded every time there is heavy rainfall.

Residents claimed this only happened after EDDMARI Construction bulldozed the forested portion of Lacayon village and reclaimed four creeks for the Yolanda housing project.

In Pandan town, residents complained that another housing project has destroyed tracts of farmland. Michele Placio, a school teacher said that while the houses were not built yet, pre-development works are underway.

Residents have signed petitions and have brought their complaints to agencies such as Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Pandan Mayor Jonathan Tan, but no action has been taken.

Meanwhile, Cajilig vowed to bring the concern to the Office of the Participatory Governance under Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr.

Meantime, Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez is counting on the Duterte government to run after those behind the purported subhuman and substandard Yolanda housing projects.

Romualdez thanked Duterte for his commitment to “hold accountable the parties involved in the anomalies” uncovered by the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development chaired by Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez.

Romualdez vowed to provide permanent homes and livelihood opportunities to Yolanda survivors, lamenting that only 23, 414 units or 11.4 percent are being occupied and only 67, 754 units or 33 percent were actually constructed, , out of the projected 205, 128 housing units under the government’s resettlement and housing program.

Source: Tempo

Solon vows punishment for officials, contractors behind Yolanda housing mess

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 15:30



Published November 7, 2017 7:34pm

Negros Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez on Tuesday vowed punishment for those responsible for the construction delay and substandard quality of the housing units for victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

Benitez, who chairs the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, made the pronouncement on the eve of the fourth-year anniversary of the deadly super typhoon.

In a statement, Benitez lamented the lack of concrete progress in the construction of houses for typhoon victims, who still live in temporary housing or in danger zones.

“It appears that, for many families, the tragedy continues,” he said.

The House panel has held several hearings investigating the snail-paced implementation of Yolanda housing projects.

During the investigation, the panel found out that substandard materials were used in the construction of houses for Typhoon Yolanda victims in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

Instead of 10 millimeter re-bars, the committee, through its inspection team, discovered that JC Tayag Builders, the contractor for the project, used substandard 8 millimeter re-bars for the construction of the housing units.

The House panel, in a joint meeting with the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, also grilled the National Housing Authority over the allegedly irregular bidding process where JC Tayag Builders cornered the P800-million housing project in Eastern Samar.

It was also found during the same hearing that NHA regional officials still recommended the extension of the contract of the JC Tayag Builders even if they already knew that the contractor used substandard materials.

“This is utterly unacceptable. Our kababayans in the Yolanda corridor have suffered enough yet some people have the gall to profit from their misfortune,” Benitez said.

The NHA, however, denied on Tuesday that the housing units being put up for Typhoon Yolanda victims were substandard, yet admitting to have structural defects.

Juanito Tayag, owner of JC Tayag Builders Inc., had belied during the House investigation the claim thaat the materials for the housing project were substandard.

In his testimony, Tayag said they did not use 8- millimeter steel rods for the construction of the houses instead of 10 millimeters.

Benitez said he will guarantee that officials and contractors who may have profited from the Yolanda housing projects will be held accountable.

“Four years but we see little progress. I am hoping that it would not take yet another four years to fulfill the promise of adequate housing for Yolanda survivors," he said.

"We will not let rest until Yolanda-affected families will finally have a safe and decent house to live in,” Benitez added. —Erwin Colcol/KBK, GMA News

Source: GMA News Online

Solon Vows Relentless Fight for Yolanda Homeless

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 11:02



08 November 2017

The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on housing vowed to bring to justice officials and private contractors for the delay and substandard quality of housing projects for Yolanda-affected families as the nation marks today the fourth year since the super typhoon devastated Visayas.

In a press statement, Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez lamented that four years have passed yet thousands still live in temporary housing or in danger zones. “It appears that, for many families, the tragedy continues,” he said.

Rep. Benitez has led a series of public hearings in Eastern Samar, Tacloban and Congress since August to probe the snail-paced implementation of Yolanda housing projects. The committee had uncovered substantial information that aside from delays in the construction, substandard materials were used in the Yolanda housing project in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

An inspection team directed by the committee had discovered the use of 8 millimeter re-bars in the housing project in Balangiga.

In a joint meeting with the committee on good government in September, lawmakers had grilled National Housing Authority (NHA) officials on allegations of irregular bidding process where a single contractor – JC Tayag Builders – cornered the 800-million housing project in Eastern Samar.

During the same hearing, it was also revealed that NHA regional officials still recommended the extension of the JC Tayag Builders’ contract despite knowing its use of substandard materials and huge negative slippages.

“This is utterly unacceptable. Our kababayans in the Yolanda corridor have suffered enough yet some people have the gall to profit from their misfortune,” Rep. Benitez bemoaned.
The Negros congressman said that he will personally ensure that officials and contractors who profited from Yolanda housing projects will be held accountable and charged in court.

Rep. Benitez also said that he will continue to press the government to fast-track the implementation of Yolanda housing projects.

“Four years but we see little progress. I am hoping that it would not take yet another four years to fulfill the promise of adequate housing for Yolanda survivors. We will not let rest until Yolanda-affected families will finally have a safe and decent house to live in,” he added. #

NHA: Contractor behind 'substandard' housing can't bid for Yolanda projects

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 16:06



Patty Pasion
Published 2:30 PM, November 07, 2017
Updated 3:05 PM, November 07, 2017

JC Tayag Builders is accused of constructing substandard houses for survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

MANILA, Philippines – The National Housing Authority (NHA) said on Tuesday, November 7, that contractor JC Tayag Builders will not be able to bid for the remaining projects in the post-Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) housing program.

The contractor is likely to face charges of perjury and syndicated estafa after making false statements during a House of Representatives probe into the allegedly substandard houses built for Yolanda survivors in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

Contractor Juanito Tayag was called to the congressional investigation following the visit of House committee on housing and urban development chairperson Alfredo Benitez to 3 housing sites.

Benitez and other lawmakers met with subcontractor Camilo Salazar who claimed that Tayag delivered rusty 8 millimeter (mm) steel rods when he ordered the 10 mm variation.

During the hearing, Tayag denied the use of 8 mm rods and instead said under oath that 10 mm rods were used in the construction.

The NHA declined to comment further on the case, saying it will address the matter in the proper forum.

But Engineer Grace Guevarra, one of the project heads, gave an assurance that contractors will not be paid until construction defects are corrected.

"It's a mass housing project. We can't skirt problems in construction. That is what we call construction defects. These are subject to rectification before we pay [the contractor]," she said.

The NHA said it has not encountered issues with other contractors except for the usual cases where it had to cancel the award due to failure of a contractor to submit documentary requirements.

Out of the 205,128 housing units needed, 95% or 194,454 have already been bidded out to contractors as of October 30 this year.

Source: Rappler.com

Plunder raps await Yolanda contractor, NHA execs

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 06:46




Published November 5, 2017, 10:00 PM
Floro M. Mercene

The chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development will recommend the filing of plunder charges against a contractor of housing projects for victims of typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Samar, including officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA).

A congressional inquiry revealed collusion between the contractor and the lead government agency in the Yolanda housing program.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfred “Albee” Benitez, committee chairman said when Congress resumes session next month, they will recommend the filing of plunder charges against contractor Juanito Tayag of the J.C Tayag Builders, Inc., and several officials of the NHA, whose names he did not reveal.

“J.C Tayag was only a ‘Double A contractor,’ meaning he is entitled to engage in government projects of only up to P200 million worth,” said Benitez.

“But by breaking an P800-million project into smaller ones with each project amounting to less than P200 million each, J.C. Tayag was able to qualify to bid and corner all of them,” Benitez said.

Aggravating matters, Benitez said, was the use of substandard materials for the housing units.

The lawmaker discovered this when an engineer of the contract, Camilo Salazar, during an inspection, told to them the contractor did not meet the specified standard, particularly on the use of the steel bars.

While the specifications called for 16-millimeter reinforcing bars (rebar), rebars measuring 6.53 mm to 11.84 mm were found to have been used.

Although Tayag agreed to an executive session, Benitez revealed the contractor still denied everything.

Tayag was allegedly still hoping to collect the hundreds of millions of pesos for his unfinished projects with the NHA, thus his reluctance to compromise his “contacts” inside the agency.

Before Yolanda, the NHA used to have a budget of about P5 to P6 billion.

But in the case of Yolanda, NHA was flooded with funds of about P60 billion, to fund projects of gargantuan proportions. They were unable to control their greed and failed to hide the extent of corruption,” said the solon.

Source: Manila Bulletin

Another Yolanda storm brewing – and what a howler!

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 17:50



BY MAURO GIA SAMONTE ON OCTOBER 29, 2017

The huge howler that was Yolanda in 2013 does not seem to have ended after all. Four years into its anniversary four days from today, the killer typhoon (death toll more than 6,300, with bodies continuing to be found into 2014) is once more a-forming, its howl now certain to duplicate that which made Yolanda the most destructive on record to have hit humanity ever.

This time around, Yolanda’s winds and storm surges are attuned to a windfall of P800 million, culled from an avalanche of financial and material support from the international humanity for the rehabilitation of victims and their homes in Samar, Leyte, and elsewhere in Western Visayas.

P800 million is reflected in the accounting books of the National Housing Authority (NHA) as the amount of housing units erected by the agency here and there in Samar and Leyte for awarding to those who lost their homes, not to mention their loved ones, in the Great Flood.

This seems good, even laudable, as far as it goes.

Trouble is, there is Negros Occidental Rep. Alfred “Albee” Benitez, chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development. A no-nonsense lawmaker, whose roots go down to the famed Conrado Benitez of the revered “Seven Wise Men” who drafted the 1935 Philippine Constitution. Cong. Albee, as he is fondly called, began looking into the matter when complaints cropped up from among their early beneficiaries that the housing units were sub-standard and veritably unlivable.

Not content with media accounts on the anomaly, Albee on his own went to Samar and made on-site inspection of the houses. Realizing who Albee was, an informant, claiming to have had a responsible hand in the relocation project, came forward and volunteered the information that those housing units are really of sub-standard quality.

To prove his contention, the informant took an easy time cracking the wall of one such unit, and voila, there appeared in their eyes oh so tiny round bars as steel support for the hollow-blocked wall.

“What’s the size of this round bar?” asked Cong. Albee.

“6.5 mm.”

“What was the specification in the plan?” Cong. Albee again asked.

“16mm.”

Anybody familiar with the construction business would say that you don’t use a 6.5 mm round bar as studs for layering concrete hollow blocks (asintada in the vernacular) to put up a wall. That kind of steel is even smaller in size than the standard one used for girting (anillo in construction lingo) the steel frame of concrete posts which is 8 mm.

Cong. Albee walked inside a few of the houses and experienced a common characteristic. The walls appeared to shake, as from an earthquake aftershock. That characteristic, contended the informant, is common to all the houses recorded in NHA books to be worth P800 million.

Convinced of the informant’s contention, Cong. Albee asked if he was ready to testify on the matter under oath. The informant agreed.

Alas but on the day of the congressional hearing on the anomaly, the informant backed out. And that’s where the issue appeared to come to a rest until Congress went into its current recess.

But, as John Paul Jones would word it, for Cong. Albee, the fight has only just began. He believes he has uncovered a big anomaly in the NHA and he is dead set in curing it for good.

In an interview with select members of the media recently, Cong. Albee disclosed that his committee will recommend the filing of plunder charges against contractor Juanito Tayag of the J.C. Tayag Builders, Inc. and several officials of the NHA. He declined to name names.

Cong. Albee declared that he is so convinced by the evidences he has in his possession of collusion between contractors and NHA that if it came to it, he would in his personal capacity file plunder charges against them.

“J.C. Tayag was only a Double A contractor,” said Cong. Albee. He explained that this meant Tayag is entitled to engage in government projects of only up to P200 million.

“But by breaking up an P800 million project into smaller ones with each amounting to lesser than P200 million each, J.C. Tayag was able to qualify to bid and corner all of them,” said Cong. Albee.

According to the Negros lawmaker, all four chopped-up projects cornered by J. C. Tayag, each amounting to P200 million, are located in one contagious area, so that the contractor cannot claim that those four are different from one another.

Cong. Albee said at one point, Tayag struck up a compromise with the Housing Committee for the latter to make disclosures in executive session in order to clear up the NHA mess.

“However,” the lawmaker said, “Tayag, up to the last minute, still refused to admit guilt.”

He later learned Tayag was still hoping to collect the hundreds of millions of pesos from his unfinished projects with the NHA, thus his reluctance to compromise the situation of his “contacts” inside the agency.

“Apparently, his contacts are still with the NHA,” said Cong. Albee. “I believe collusion between the NHA and private contractors have long been in existence even before the Yolanda housing controversy.”

According to Cong. Albee, NHA used to get only a budget of about P5 billion to P6 billion. At that level, even if there was the possibility that there already was corruption, people failed to notice it as the projects then were not so huge.

“But in the case of Yolanda, NHA was flooded with funds of about P60 billion and projects of gargantuan proportions that they could no longer control and hide the extent of corruption,” said the lawmaker.

At any rate, the Negros Occidental representative needs every support in his effort, undertaken with almost private passion, to get to the bottom of this housing controversy. Another windfall in this genre must be upcoming, what with another avalanche of support the country is currently getting from the international community for the rehabilitation of Marawi.

NHA stands to be a far greener pasture for its herd of contractors to graze on.

Source: Manila Times

Real estate group pushes creation of housing department

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 17:46




Published in the Sunstar Davao Newspaper on Friday, October 27, 2017
By Jennie P. Arado

A HOUSING department will help better address the country’s housing concerns than a mere coordinating council, said Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Association, Inc. (Creba) official.

One of the bills that Creba wants to push is the Department of Housing Bill, which had been pending for about 20 years now.

According to Creba executive director Sharmin Albacete, this bill had been certified as an urgent bill by past administrations but still did not make it into law.

“Creba is hopeful that having a Department of Housing and Development, rather than just a coordinating council that we have now for housing, the housing concerns of the nation will be better addressed by a department that is truly focused on delivering housing programs encompassing finance, administration, actual production, and better regulations for housing,” said Albacete.

By late 2015, the House of Representatives approved the creation of Department of Housing and Urban Development. House Bill (HB) 6194 was authored by House Committee on Housing and Urban Development Chairman Alfredo Benitez, Liberal Party (LP) representative Rodolfo Biazon, LP representative Jose Christopher Belmonte, Lakas representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Party-list representative Silvestre Bello III.

The HB has the objective of merging together the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

“What we would like the department to focus on are on four major aspects that are now spread out being implemented independently by several shelter agencies, some of them even Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs). So we would like to integrate all of these housing functions under a department of housing to make the entire process of housing, real estate development, and planning more systematic,” said Albacete.

As for their organization’s part, she said they had been relentless in pushing the passage of the bill most especially to the congressmen that they know or the congressmen of the areas they have chapters in.

Albacete said their organization understands that creation of a new department might require additional funding from the government, however, they are hopeful that with the recent creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to answer an urgent need, the department of housing will also finally be pushed as well.

“(The urgent need) is also true for housing as well. There is no need for new funding because the key shelter agencies already have their own. What we only need to do is to integrate the functions, the funds, and administration and fashion it in a way that we will set the responsibilities and accountabilities of the secretary very clearly,” she said.

Meanwhile, Creba Public Relations Officer and 2017 National Convention Chairman Jocelyn Yumul believes that the constant appointment of the highest elected official of the opposing party of the elected president as HUDCC chair is one of the major reasons the creation of the department is always pending under different administrations.

“We have not been given priority in that area only because there really is no strength or strong influence by the head. We’re happy that at least, during this term the head of housing is a direct appointee of the president,” Yumul.

The appointment of Eduardo del Rosario as HUDCC chair in July followed the stepping down of Vice President Leni Robredo from the position.

Source: Sunstar Davao

More Negrense support for federalism seen

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 17:01




Published October 18, 2017, 10:00 PM
By Mark L. Garcia

Bacolod City — President Duterte’s move to shift to a federal government is gaining more support in Bacolod and Negros Occidental.

Martin Diño, a strong Duterte ally and former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman, was in Negros Occidental Monday to seek Negrenses’ support for the move towards federalism, a move that will keep the two Negros provinces together and create a free port zone that could generate thousands of jobs.

Diño was accompanied by Local Government undersecretaries Jesus Hinlo and Emily Padilla, and Social Welfare Undersecretary Virginia Orogo, who like Diño are officials for the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee.

They joined Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia at the Bacolod City Government Center, and a forum on federalism in Bago City Tuesday.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Leonardia have announced their support for a federal government.

Marañon believes the abolished Negros Island Region is a good model for establishing a federal state.

Earlier this month, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez led the oath-taking of about 13,000 Negrenses here as new members of PDP-Laban. The separate oath-taking ceremonies were led by Leonardia and 3rd District Representative Alfredo Abelardo Benitez.

Diño said the President wants the change to federalism fast-tracked and put to a vote in a referendum during the barangay elections next year or the mid-term polls in 2019.

He said they are going around the country to explain the advantage of a federalist state, especially to Filipinos living outside Metro Manila where development has been focused for years.

Source: Manila Bulletin

Crush terror before lifting martial law – Lacson

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 17:04



BY BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO ON OCTOBER 18, 2017

SEN. Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said the military must be allowed to finish its “final assault” against the remaining terrorists cornered in Marawi City before martial law is lifted in Mindanao.

Some senators said the government must also focus on the reconstruction of war-torn Marawi following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration that the Islamic City has been “liberated” from the clutches of the Islamic State-linked Maute group.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said: “A new dawn is coming to Marawi and Mindanao. I look forward to a modern city to replace the old Marawi.”

“Liberating Marawi is the easy part. Now, for the more difficult part which is rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery,” said Sen. Gregorio Honasan 2nd.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said martial law should not be lifted yet in Mindanao as government troops needed to continue with clearing operations “to make sure that all the terrorists are arrested or neutralized.”

The President declared martial law in Marawi on May 23 hours after the Maute group attacked the city. Congress later extended the declaration up to the end of the year.

Assessment needed

Lacson said the military should finish its mission prior to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi.

“If there will be terrorists left behind, they can be likened to a wound or bacteria which can be infectious and spread,” Lacson said.

Sought for reaction regarding proposals to lift martial law in Mindanao following the death of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, Lacson said, “Let us first assess the full gamut of the Marawi crisis.”

“In lifting the martial law, it is the government forces on the ground who can make the proper proposal because according to them there are still foreign terrorists in the [main battle]area. I think they are already looking at a small area to launch their final assault,” he said.

“So, it depends on their recommendation since they are the ones on the ground. It’s not for me, for you, or anybody for that matter who are not in Marawi City who should assess when to lift the martial law,” Lacson added.

Sotto said martial law was not needed for the rehabilitation of Marawi. “I think the President will lift martial law shortly. We should still be alert and cautious.”

For opposition senator Francis Pangilinan, the government should make rehabilitation of Marawi City a top priority “instead of dwelling on baseless destabilization reports.”

House mixed

Members of the House of Representatives were split on whether or not to lift martial law.

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles said martial law should remain in effect even after the remaining leaders of the Maute militants have been killed, to allow the fast and uninterrupted rebuilding of Marawi City.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez martial rule “should be lifted as soon as possible.”

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said the latest developments downgraded the justification for martial law, but conceded that clearance from the troops in Marawi was needed before lifting it.

“The commitment of the security officials during the martial law hearings in Congress is that they will recommend the lifting of martial law once security threat has been downgraded,” Baguilat said.

“But I am willing to await a full military assessment of the situation with the caveat that martial law should be lifted,” he added.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said he would leave it to the President to decide on the matter,
“I will leave it to [Duterte] to assess the threat of terrorist attacks not just in Marawi but all over Mindanao and whatever his decision will be I will support it as a Mindanaoan,” Barbers said.

Rehab is next step

Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that with the siege over, the swift and reliable rehabilitation of Marawi should be the next priority.

“The rehabilitation of Marawi City should have a comprehensive, multi-agency plan in order to properly address all fronts. Provision of basic needs, building of houses and infrastructure, and return of economic activity are things that must be acted upon immediately. Psychological services should also be provided for the residents and soldiers who have been in the frontlines and have endured the conflict on the ground,” Alejano said in a statement.

“I hope that the rehabilitation would be swift and reliable. We do not want to add more sufferings to the people of Marawi. May all of us in the government and civil society offer our helping hands to our Maranao brothers and sisters,” Alejano said.

AND RALPH VILLANUEVA

Source: Manila Times

Nikki Cares Surgical Mission Pre-screening

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 09:27



on Wed, 10/18/2017

More than 500 residents of the Third District of Negros Occidental, all with medical conditions like hernia, gallstones, goiter, polyp, cyst and the like that may require surgery underwent pre-screening last October 13, 2017 for the Nikki Cares Surgical Mission slated November 23 to 26, 2017 at the Teresita Jalandoni Memorial Provincial Hospital.



Mrs. Nikki Benitez welcomes all who participated in the pre-screening and thanks assistance of supporters.*

Dominique “Nikki” Lopez Benitez, wife of Congressman Alfredo Benitez, organized the surgical mission with the assistance of the Makati Medical Center surgeons who volunteered their free services. The project is supported by Silay City Government through Mayor Mark Golez, Teresita Jalandoni Memorial Provincial Hospital through Chief of Hospital Dr. Girlie Pinongan, Betty Bantug Benitez Foundation through Executive Director Mary Ann Diño and the District Office of Congressman Benitez.



BBBF Executive Director Mary Ann Diño briefs the Makati Medical Center surgeons before the pre-screening.*

The prospective surgical patients came from the cities of Silay, Talisay and Victorias, and the municipalities of Murcia and EB Magalona.

The surgeons from Makati Medical Center who conducted the pre-screening were Dr. Erwin Dizon, Dr. Natividad Soler, Dr. Fe Villarfria, Dr. Joaquin Manalastas, Dr. Darryl Santiago, and Dr. Michele Angela Meer Anievas.*

 

 

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

From the Editor-in-Chief: Albee for Senator? (Why Not?)

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:26



on Fri, 10/13/2017 by Pert Toga

“It’s about time. If Albee does not run for the Senate now, when will he decide? If not in this 2019 polls, when? If not Albee,, who?” These were just some of the instant reactions from several Albee supporters and political pundits as the possibility of his senatorial draft for the Senate was declared during the mass oath-taking of thousands who joined the political exodus to the administration camp recently at the Victorias Coliseum in that Northern Negros Occidental city.

When speaker Pantaleon Alvarez jumped the gun on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte by virtually proclaiming Negrense Congressman Albee Benitez as having been included among the top contenders for the PDP-Laban senatorial slate in the 2019 mid-term elections, most Negrenses were apparently amazed but happy and optimistic.

Not a few welcomed the unexpected and sudden expression of open support by the party in power in favor of Albee whose constituency had been silently praying and hoping that this time, Negros Occ. will finally have its very own favorite son to sit as a senator, what with the big influence and political clout of the administration bandwagon, granting that the President dramatically recovers from a recent slump in his trust rating and to maintain his upward trend in popularity until his six-year term comes to a booming conclusion especially sometime in 2019 or earlier.

Albee, who apparently could hardly hold his emotions and surprise, but can only exhude his elation by being humble enough to say that there are still many things to take into consideration, and he has yet to make a nationwide consultation to “feel the real pulse of the Filipino electorate.”

Truly, it’s not just popularity, money or political endorsements that could make a candidate win. What’s more important, to our mind, is a nationwide political machinery, well-oiled and efficiently-managed by professionals with unquestioned integrity and loyalty. But over and above all else, the candidate’s winnability, mass appeal, sterling acceptability, qualifications, credibility and sincerity can do wonders for an achiever like Albee Benitez.

If one possesses all these qualities in abundance, he will boost his self-confidence and further enhance his chances, especially with his eloquence and charisma as a convincing public speaker, sincere and down-to-earth in his approaches to ease the plight of the less fortunate.

For generations, Negros Occidental had not been blessed with the rare opportunity to elect even one senator, unlike some other provinces like Cebu, Iloilo and even those with relatively smaller number of registered voters. Why is this so? Lack of qualified leaders? Crab mentality? Lack of unity? The ever-widening gap between the very rich and the poor? Name it, we have it, and so what happens? True-blooded Negrenses could hardly even reach first base in national elections.

Gone were the days when we were lucky enough to have some of our big names who made it to the senate, much more the vice presidency or the presidency for that matter. Not even during the hey-days of the once influential “Sugar Bloc” when rich and highly-respected sugar barons lorded it over the country’s political electoral processes and economic dominance.

Those were the days when Negros Occ. had been ably represented in the upper chamber like the late Senator Pedro “Perico” C. Hernaez, often refined to as “father of Bacolod City” having principally sponsored the bill that granted the city charter of Bacolod City in 1938; the late Senator Enrique B. Magalona of the former town of Saravia which was later named in his honor by no less than his son, Luis Magalona, one of the longest-serving mayor of the said town, now EB Magalona; the late Senator Jose C. Locsin of Silay City; the late Senator Ramon Torres of Bago City; not to forget the late former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gil Montilla of Isabela, Negros Occidental.

After these distinguished gentlemen, I can no longer recall any other Negrense who rose to national prominence in governance except for the late Island Governor Alfredo “Peding” Montelibano, Sr. who was tapped by former Presidents as economic czar, heading top positions like Interior Secretary and chairman of the National Economic Council, among others and the late former Ambassador Roberto Salas Benedicto who was one of the closest and most influential figures during the Martial Law era, having headed the Philippine Sugar Commission (PHILSUCOM), the National Sugar Trading Authority (NASUTRA) several banking institutions and the Philippine National Bank (PNB), during the unlamented 20-year-term of the dictatorship under the late Pres. Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.

Several distinguished Negrenses have attempted to vie for national positions but unfortunately did not succeed, many of them could not even land in the winning column even in their native province, Negros Occ. despite their winning capability and qualifications. One of them was the late Jose Yulo of Bago City who aspired for the presidency but lost to Carlos P. Garcia, a Boholano who defeated Yulo even in his home ground, Negros Occ. The late City Councilor Wilson Gamboa Sr., who rose to prominence to become Defense Undersecretary for munitions and DAR secretary sometime during the Cory Aquino presidency also failed to clinch a senate seat despite the political clout of his group, the Grand Alliance for Democracy (GAD) led by then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile. Sad but until recently, decades after the one-man rule and earlier, Negrenses hoping for at least one senatorial wannabe to even reach first base in the national polls. Many political analysts have pointed to the crab mentality as among the causes of these misfortunes. True or not, the facts and realities point to the continued frustration among Negrense voters who are always hoping against hope that at least one Negrense aspirant for the Senate can make it at last. Is Albee Benitez the answer to their prayers? That of course depends upon Albee himself and the sincerity of his supporters and political backers in the high echelon of the political firmament, and above all, the entire Filipino electorate come 2019. It’s still a decisive two years to go and many intervening factors and crucial events are expected to happen affecting the ever-changing and volatile political crisis confronting the nation.

Will it bring about favorable atmosphere towards realization of the Negrense dream? Or will it lead to another standstill and further frustrations for Negrenses whose fond wishes for unity will remain a bad dream and worse, a political nightmare of unprecedented magnitude? Let’s wait and see what the political scenario will turn out to be in the next two years.*

 

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

NHA to rebid P800-m ‘Yolanda’ housing project

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 15:19



posted October 11, 2017 at 12:01 am by Maricel Cruz

The government will rebid the allegedly anomalous P800-million housing projects intended for Yolanda victims, a National Housing Authority official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

At a congressional hearing conducted by the joint House committees on housing and urban development and on good government and public accountability, chaired by Reps. Alfredo Benitez of Negros Occidental and Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur, NHA assistant general manager Froilan Kampitan said the rebidding of the contract was needed to fast-track the implementation of the “Yolanda” housing projects which said to have used substandard construction materials.

“We just need to rebid it to a new contractor. We are trying to locate some properties already that are available [under the contract of JC Tayag Builders Inc.,” Kampitan said during the hearing.

Kampitan said the NHA will issue a notice of termination of contract to JC Tayag Builders Inc., operated by JC Tayag, the main contractor of the government’s “Yolanda” housing project in Eastern Samar.

Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar earlier filed the resolution on the controversy.

“Procurement policies, land acquisition issues and the many permits and clearances needed to start certain projects have been cited as among the primary reasons that slow down the implementation of the resettlement projects,” Evardone said.

In the same hearing, Tayag denied anew that his construction firm used substandard materials and thus endangering the lives of the families and victim of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.” 

Tayag’s subcontractor Camilo Salazar accused his principal of using substandard steel and bars for the construction of 2,000 housing units for “Yolanda” victims in Balangiga, Hernani and Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

Salazar alleged that Tayag used 8-millimeter steel rods in the construction instead of the required specification of 10 millimeters.

Earlier, Benitez’s committee conducted a series of on-site hearings on the issue and validated Salazar’s allegations against Tayag.

Benitez said his panel’s inspection team uncovered the size of the reinforcing steel bars averaged at 8 millimeters; while it also discovered that Tayag also used undersized bars of 12 millimeters, which is below the requirement of 16 millimeters.

Benitez also said lawmakers will recommend the filing of perjury, syndicated estafa and plunder charges against Tayag and other NHA officials over the controversy.

Source: Manila Standard

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