Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Leyte solon honors youth volunteers for Tacloban

MANILA-Leyte 1st district Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez honored the youth volunteers who participated in Pope Francis’ visit to Tacloban City last January 10, and encouraged more to contribute towards nation-building.
“Despite the storm in Tacloban that day, the young men and women braved the heavy rains and helped organize the Papal visit. They were there days before the event, sacrificed their time and effort which helped ensure the success of the historic event. It is this spirit of service and volunteerism that I want to commend and to highlight. They are examples of how the youth can truly help the nation,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez also recounted how international humanitarian agencies and local groups helped Tacloban during the wake of super typhoon Yolanda.

“During the height of the disaster there was an outpouring of volunteers, a lot of them young people, who came to the city and helped Warays get back on their feet. It moved me to see countless people who donated or flew in, got their hands dirty, and helped with the rebuilding. Ordinary people with extraordinary spirits who are able to empathize with the people of Tacloban,” Romualdez added.

“Our city was devastated by a storm surge, but we also got a surge of support from all over the country and the world. It gave our people hope and a sense of solidarity. We were not abandoned, we felt like we were not alone,” Romualdez said.

Hotels in Tacloban were fully booked with humanitarian outfits reserving the slot for months. The hotel industry did not slow down after Yolanda and some new hotels in the City had to open earlier than schedule just to meet the demands. The regional tourism office, together with a local travel company started a voluntourism program to accommodate the public who wanted to be part of Tacloban’s rebuilding program.

“The effort, commitment and contribution of volunteers are priceless and cannot be quantified. These are people who extended themselves and become a man for other.  There is an intrinsic value that is associated with helping others that cannot be repaid by money,” the solon said.

Romuladez also lauded the work of the Philippine National Police (PNP) , the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Romualdez paid tribute to Kristel Mae Padasas, saying “I feel for the family of Kristel and I want to tell them that their daughter is an inspiration to many.”  He paid his respects to Padasas, who belonged to the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) volunteers for the Yolanda humanitarian Crisis. The 27-year old volunteer was from Buhi, Camarines Sur but was based in Manila before she passed away tragically.

“The untimely death of Kristel Mae Padasas in Tacloban during the visit of Pope Francis did not happen in vain. Kristel exemplified the dignity of the young who are the future of our country,” Romualdez said. Padasas died after being hit by a collapsed scaffolding used during the mass of His Holiness Pope Francis in Tacloban City.

Romualdez lauds volunteers, PNP, AFP, MMDA, LGUs in Papal visit

MANILA-With the people of Tacloban still in high spirits a couple of weeks after Pope Francis’ successful visit to the Philippines, a resolution commending the thousands of dedicated volunteers from different non-government and private organizations was filed by Leyte 1st distruct Representative Martin Romualdez. 
Romualdez, whose district was badly-hit by typhoon Yolanda in 2013, was among the public officials who welcomed the Pope on his arrival last January 17 at the Daniel Z. Romualdez airport where the Vicar of the Catholic Church held mass and interacted with the survivors of the worst recorded storm in history. 
“The government cannot be thankful enough to the individuals who sacrificed their time, put in good work, and made sure that everything went smoothly. We owe a lot to the volunteers for the successful visit of Pope Francis in Tacloban and Metro Manila,” Romualdez said 
In the House resolution, Romualdez highlighted the exemplary work of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who made the event seamless. “Officers and men of the PNP and the AFP who were tasked to secure Pope Francis in his engagements during his 5-day Apostolic and State Visit together with different media entities showed selfless dedication to duty.” 
Romualdez also highlighted the work of local government units and personnel from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for their dedication to maintaining order in the Pope’s activities.
“The collaboration between the government, the volunteers and our citizens is inspiring. It’s not a secret that there are issues the divide political parties especially in Eastern Visayas, however, during the papal visit everyone worked as one to make the event a success. The possibilities are endless if we work together,” Romuladez said. 
It has been estimated that 150,000 people in Tacloban- with a population of 200,000- attended Pope Francis’s mass in the city, this amid the disturbance of Tropical Storm “Amang”  (international name: Mekkhala). The people, who braved the winds and the rain, were given yellow ponchos to protect them from the storm, a similar poncho was worn by Pope Francis on top of his vestments symbolizing his oneness with the people of Tacloban.

“Pope Francis preaches humility. As a public servant it is a humbling experience to know that it is only through working together that success can be achieved. I once again commend and congratulate the people who made the Papal visit a resounding success,” said Romualdez.

Justice for slain SAF - Recto

MANILA-If it is true that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is harboring them, they should surrender a Malaysian bomb maker and his Filipino sidekick, the hunt for whom led to the massacre of 44 police commandoes in an MILF-influenced area in Maguindanao Sunday, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

“Giving up Marwan and Usman is the only way that public belief on the MILF’s sincerity in pursuing peace can be restored and for the peace process to move forward,” Recto said.

He was referring to Malaysian bomb-maker and top Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, known as Marwan, and his local cohort, Basit Usman, who were the targets of the waylaid Special Action Force (SAF) team.

“Of paramount importance to all Filipinos is justice for the slain SAF,” Recto said. He expressed hope that the Board of Inquiry will come up with results soon.

“Fact is, the incident has hit a major stumbling block in the peace process. The only way to reboot it is for the MILF, if indeed it is tolerating the presence of Marwan and Usman, to give the two the boot,” Recto said.

“Any group in talks for permanent peace with the government should not be giving sanctuary to terrorists,” Recto said.

“It should not allow zones it control to be used as rest and recreation areas for wanted fugitives who by their skills and bloody curriculum vitaes present a clear and present danger to the nation,” Recto said.

Recto said even if reports are true that the two terrorists were actually in areas controlled by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), “then the MILF should not side with the BIFF but assist the police and the military in apprehending them.”

“If the MILF wants to be our BFF, then they should stop playing footsies with the BIFF,” Recto said.

If Sunday’s bloodbath was a result of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) failure to coordinate with the MILF, as the latter had insisted, “there would still have been no need for the police to arrest them if the MILF had not allowed them to stay there in the first place.”

Recto said the MILF must undertake “grand confidence-building measures” to win back the public whose trust and support are needed for the “last mile of the peace process to succeed.”

“The BBL, the peace process have become collateral damage of Sunday’s massacre.  The fastest way to recover from the setback is if the MILF will partner with the government in arresting Marwan and Usman,” Recto said. 

Jinggoy seeks Senate probe on deadly Maguindanao clash

MANILA-Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada today filed a resolution which seeks to investigate the deadly encounter between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other elements in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, which counted approximately 50 policemen as casualties.
 
Proposed Senate Resolution 1134 urges at least three committees of the chamber, namely Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation and Committee on Local Government, to look into the matter in aid of legislation.
 
“There is a need to review the conduct of this particular police operation and to revisit protocols that have to be followed to prevent failure and misfortune in the future,” Sen. Estrada said in the proposed resolution.
 
Jinggoy, who is the author of several pending legislative measures which seek to strengthen the principal law enforcement institution such as Senate Bill 360 (PNP Modernization Act), Senate Bill 1964 (Magna Carta for the PNP), Senate Bill 131 (Act transferring the administrative supervision and operational control of police academy and training institute to the PNP) also wanted to know if there is a need to re-assess the capability and strength of the PNP Special Action Force especially when reports say that there were 392 members involved in the said operation yet a significant number of their colleagues were killed.

Reports on the number of fallen cops also vary – the figure provided by the PNP in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is higher than that given by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
 
Further the resolution aims to find out whether the function of serving warrants of arrest should solely be handled by the PNP in cases when the person being served with the warrant is an international terrorist, who in this case is Malaysian Zulkifli Bin Hir, an alleged bomb maker, a member of Jemaah Islamiyah and has a $5 million bounty from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.
 
Lastly, Sen. Estrada stated that the unfortunate incident should lead to “intensive assessment and effective reforms in law enforcement so that the death of these policemen will not be in vain.”­­

Legarda Files Resolution Commending Vigan LGU for its Heritage Preservation Efforts

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today commended the local government of Vigan for its continued preservation of the town as a livable heritage city following its successful inclusion in the New7Wonders Cities.

In celebration of the founding anniversary of Vigan City, Legarda authored Senate Resolution No. 1130 to urge national agencies to work collaboratively with the local government of the City, which is known for its steadfast commitment to conserve and preserve its culture and heritage.

“Vigan is a concrete example of how communities should work to be aware of their heritage, which should be appreciated, preserved and properly utilized to achieve meaningful and sustainable progress,” said Legarda.

Among the efforts of the local government is the development of a conservation complex, comprised of a “depot” where materials for restoration are stored and made accessible to the public, training centers that equip the community with the necessary skills to preserve heritage, and museums that showcase the richness of culture.

The establishment of a three-hectare “heritage park” of indigenous architecture, showcasing the landmarks and arts and crafts found among provinces of the old Ylocos zregion, is also being planned by the local government.

In December 2014, the City of Vigan was included as one of the New7Wonders Cities of the World, together with Beirut in Lebanon, Doha in Qatar, Durban in South Africa, Havana in Cuba, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and La Paz in Bolivia.

“The award received by Vigan recognizes the long-standing efforts and utmost dedication of the local government and residents of the Historic City of Vigan in conserving and preserving its heritage as a World Heritage Site and is further highlighted by the city’s 2012 award for Best Practice in World Heritage Site Management,” Legarda added.

“Cognizant of the perseverance of the local government of Vigan and its residents to preserve history and culture while working towards sustainable development, it is but fitting that the local government of Vigan and its residents be recognized and commended,” Legarda concluded.

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