Vol II No. 57           Aug 12-18, 2001

Stories of the Week

PCGG set to repossess sequestered properties
304 firms in EV defy minimum wage order
DAR persuades Larrazabal not to oppose reduced bail
NPC plants included in privatization
GSIS lifts suspension of loan privileges of Samar employees
Only 3% pass CSC prof exams

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PCGG set to repossess sequestered properties

Tacloban City - Mayor Alfredo "Bejo" Romualdez may have to give up some sequestered properties in his possession in favor of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

A top official of the PCGG regional office identified these sequestered properties as the Eye Referral Center Building, the residential "Green House" and several warehouses, all located in this city.

"There is a big possibility that these properties will be returned to the control of the PCCG," the PCGG official, who requested anonymity, said.

He pointed out that this is because the new PCGG chairman, Haydee Yorac, is serious in the PCGG's sequestration drive on all assets and properties considered to be ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.

"In fact," he said, "next month an inventory of all the sequestered properties will be conducted by the central office."

He said now that the PCGG is under the helm of Yorac, these "missing" sequestered properties will be returned to the control and management of the PCGG.

It was learned from this PCGG official that the imposing Eye Referral Center, the residential Green House and ten warehouses were included in the original sequestration order.

"But for unknown reason, these properties disappeared from the list of the original sequestration order," he added.

These properties, along with other identified assets by the Marcoses and Romualdezes here in Leyte, were sequestered by the national government in 1986 as all were considered to be part of the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.

Also for unknown reason, the previous administrators of the PCGG regional PCGG office did not make any effort to restore the two properties from the sequestration order.

The four-story Eye Referral Center, which is located right at the downtown section of the city, was one of the last properties constructed by the Romualdezes here in Tacloban City prior to 1986.

It was used for various purposes in which at one time, it was the site of a rural bank owned by the city mayor, and the popular boutique owned by former actress Cristina Gonzales who is the wife of then Rep. Alfred Romualdez.

The Green House, on the other hand, is located within the streets of Burgos-Juan Luna here in the city and is now occupied by a close ally, Atty. Arturo Bayaya.

Bayaya's occupation of the Green House was contested by the PCGG, but the court has yet to decide.

It can be recalled the PCGG central office in Manila had earlier ordered Bayaya to vacate the Green House, but he did not comply.

The row of warehouses located in Tarcela Street are now under lease with different local Chinese traders.

Mayor Romualdez, when asked for comment, refused to give any statement except by saying that these cases are all pending in court.

Meanwhile, it was learned from this PCGG official that out of the original 79 religious icons placed at the Santo Niño Shrine, only 47 icons remain in that place. "Some of them were either taken by Ma'am (Imelda Romualdez-Marcos) or as a result of some robberies," he said.

 

The Santo Niño Shrine, considered to be the jewel of all the sequestered properties here in Eastern Visayas, has been burglarized at least twice, resulting to the loss of some 32 icons. The perpetrators are yet to be apprehended by the authorities.

But the National Bureau of Investigation has identified four suspects who are until now still at large.

304 firms in EV defy minimum wage order

Tacloban City - Some 300 of 790 business establishments inspected by the Department of Labor and Employment here are not complying with the minimum wage order set by law.

This was revealed by Director Carlos Boteros of DOLE-8 who based his report on the labor standards inspections they conducted in some parts of Leyte and Samar. Some of these establishments have already corrected their salary rates, while other continue to defy the minimum wage requirement.

“Hindi naman sila mag-file ng exemption from the said order,” added Boteros.

DOLE still has to conduct inspections of the firms in this city this month. “Inuna naming ang mga malalayong lugar,” he said.

Boteros could not say exactly how many of the establishments here are violating the wage order, but he classified these as either uninformed of Wage Order 09 mandating a P14 increase in basic wage or financially distressed.

In Eastern Visayas, the minimum wage for non-agricultural areas for the province of Leyte, Tacloban and Ormoc City is pegged at P177, while in other provinces it is P173.

For agricultural areas, Leyte and its cities get a minimum wage of P158, while in the other provinces it is P154. However, this figure is applicable in plantations where the gross sales go beyond P5 million. In plantations where gross sales reach less than P5 million, the minimum wage is pegged at P149.

Boteros said that during their inspections, they based their findings on actual interviews of workers and their payroll slips. When establishments fail to comply, either they file a case against the firm or levy the property. However, he would not say how many cases they have filed against which establishments.

He said the proceeds from the levy or garnishment would be used to pay for the deficiency of the wages of the affected workers. Most of these are in the trade, retail and agricultural services.

He said so far only 10 establishments have filed for exemptions. These are firms which are bankrupt or financially distressed. Regionwide, there are more than 5,000 business establishments in different lines of businesses, he said.

DAR persuades Larrazabal not to oppose reduced bail

San Isidro, Leyte - In their desire to help, officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) intervened and succeeded in persuading the owner of the APL ranch here not to oppose to the motion to reduce bail filed by the farmers jailed for qualified theft charges.

Although DAR has nothing to do with the case filed against 32 farmers belonging to three farmer organizations by lawyer Iñaki Larrazabal Jr., ranch owner, Regional Director Reynaldo Villas sent Dante Espina of the problematic landholding unit to the field to extend assistance to the jailed farmers.

Espina, who negotiated with Larrazabal not to oppose the farmers motion to reduce bail, said that the landowner revealed he has no intention to put them behind bars. Instead, he wanted only to protect their right as the property is exempted from the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), Espina added.

On July 28, 13 of the 14 jailed farmers were released on a P500 bail each. A P14,500 reduction from the original P15,000 bail bond imposed by Judge Dulcisimo Pitao of this town's Municipal Trial Court.

One of them was not allowed to post bail by the court due to a standing frustrated murder charge lodged against him also in the same court which is non-bailable.

The said farmers were charged after they entered the said property at midnight of April 2 this year and cultivated coconuts.

Resulting also from the negotiation initiated by DAR officials with the landowner, the Larrazabals are offering other properties of theirs to these farmers. However, the latter refused to accept the offer.

The contested area is part of the 2,312 hectares being developed into a Special Economic Development Zone pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 247 signed by former President Joseph Estrada on February 24, 2000, said Villas.

Both parties are scheduled to meet for another round of negotiation.

NPC plants included in privatization

Tacloban City - The privatization program of the government will also cover the geothermal power plants owned by the National Power Corporation which is being sold to the public.

Another government-owned corporation, the PNOC-EDC has expressed interest in buying the geothermal plants, but PNOC-EDC is also up for privatization in the newly-approved Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

However, PNOC-EDC Chairman Sergio Apostol said they are definitely for the purchase of the geothermal power plants owned by NAPOCOR.

"Our offer to buy the power plants of Napocor still stands. We are willing to buy them whether through negotiations or through bidding," Apostol said.

Apostol said they will soon start talks with the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation.

PNOC-EDC is a 100 percent-owned geothermal subsidiary of the state-run Philippine National Oil Corporation. Apostol pointed out that with the passage of the Power Reform Act last June, PNOC-EDC's intention to buy the geothermal power plants of Napocor will now be coursed through the PSALM.

PNOC-EDC owns and operate four geothermal steam fields located in Leyte, Southern Negros, Bicol and North Cotabato with an aggregate capacity of 1,149 MW. This accounts for 60 percent of the country's total geothermal capacity.

However, Napocor sources said the proposal of PNOC-EDC to buy some of the geothermal plants of power firm might run counter to the government's privatization thrust.

Energy Secretary Vincent Perez earlier admitted that PNOC-EDC is also in the auction block, but they are giving priority to the Napocor privatization.

But Apostol said the PNOC-EDC value would be enhanced if it would increase its geothermal capacity by acquiring the power plants of Napocor.

Earlier, the company said it was eyeing the Napocor-owned geothermal plants, namely, the 112 megawatts Tongonan in Leyte, 194 MW Palimpinon and 425 MW Tiwi-Makban in Albay.

GSIS lifts suspension of loan privileges of Samar employees

Catbalogan, Samar - Provincial employees can now avail of loan with the Government System Insurance Service after the provincial government through Gov. Milagrosa T. Tan settled its account with the GSIS.

Provincial Accountant Romeo Reales said the suspension order of the GSIS, which the agency imposed a few months ago due to millions of pesos in arrearages, is already lifted.

Meanwhile, Board Member Susano "Sonny" Salurio confirmed that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan received a letter from Gov. Tan dated July 25, which carried a "proposal to settle our arrearages with the GSIS within the period of 24 months beginning August 2001 to July, 2003.

"In this connection, may I have the honor to request that the amount of P593,493.60 from the excess appropriation of the Compensation Adjustment Fund as embodied in our CY 2001 Annual Budget be reverted and reappropriated to cover our payment from August to December, 2001, in the amount of P118,698.72 per month.

"This request is made in order to restore the privileges of our employees with the GSIS and is considered urgent and necessary."

Since Catbalogan will celebrate its annual town fiesta on August 24, observers here are feeling that many provincial employees residing in this capital town will file either salary or policy loans with the GSIS. In the previous years, the Samar provincial government employees had obtained salary, policy and other forms of loans from the GSIS.

The records of payment remitted by the provincial treasurer of Samar to the GSIS in payment of the employees' outstanding loans, and the records of the GSIS did not tally, particularly from 1997 to 1999.

This status of unrecognized records of these two agencies resulted in the suspension by the GSIS of the loan privileges to the Samar provincial employees.

The suspension of the loan privileges by the GSI S to the provincial employees forced the employees to question the loan suspension order. Last June, 2001, many provincial employees filed loan applications with the local branch of the GSIS. The parent-employees were in need of cash for the enrolment of their collegiate students, particularly. They were disappointed. The loan privilege had already been suspended.

The complaint of the Samar Alliance of Concerned Provincial Employees, led by its president Herminigildo Sanchez, forced the provincial accountant and other provincial officials to look for ways and means, which could lead to the lifting of the loan suspension order.

The GSIS claimed that the provincial government had a total under-remittance of P5,975,001.53. On the other hand, the provincial government claimed that it had already remitted the amount of P3,155,303.58, or a discrepancy of P2,819,697.95.

Only 3% pass CSC prof exams

By Josephine Serseña, EVMail

Ormoc City - Only 32 of the 879 persons passed the Civil Service exams for professionals, while 47 of the 558 applicants passed the sub-professional category. This was disclosed by Faustina Georsua, supervising personnel specialist of the Civil Service Commission sub field office here.

The tests for professional and sub-professional levels were conducted at Ormoc City National High School here on July 15. These results were released last July 26.

Applicants came from as far as Biliran, Southern Leyte, and even Cebu, in addition to those from neighboring Albuera, Baybay, Isabel, Kananga, Palompon, Matag-ob, Merida, San Isidero, Tabango, Villaba and the City of Ormoc.

The CSC conducts the civil service exams every year in Ormoc so that the hassles of going to far away exam sites like Tacloban or Cebu are avoided. Those with at least two years in college are qualified to take the sub-prof exams, while those having college degrees are allowed to take the professional level exam, said Georsua in an interview with EV Mail.

As for giving those who passed a formal recognition like what the CSC did the previous years, Georsua said her office has yet to discuss it with the Regional head Atty. Erenio Morales, especially since the civil Service commission is under the new leadership of Karina David.

The successful examinees in the July 15 exams are listed below.

In the Sub-Professional level, they are: Agatinto, Lesley Ann S; Agraviador, Kathlyn Rose L.; Albaladejo, Aimee; Alcantara, Estelita S.; Alibangbang, Wendy L; Alvez, Melma D.; Anoos, Rhea V.; Anunciado, April Mae D.; Arcuino, Wenceslao C.; Banton, Maricel C.; Baltero, Cecil D.; Cacanog, Gwendelyn L.; Castino, Ma Evelyn B.; Codilla, Zilda R.; Cometa, Michael V.; Corsiga, Ma Crislinda C.; Dales, Francis C.; Daroy, Ma Elma B.; Delantar, Felinor O.; Deliosa, Jamin R.; Eamiguel, Eleth Thea T.; Elago, Arvin S.; Eng, Jean Marie C.; Fiel, April Cherry S.; Gonzaga, Edilberto Jr. L.; Hilot, Blanche B.; Indolos, Elvira M.; Jaca, Jocelyn P.; Jornales, Edward C.; Lecaros, May M.; Leung, Sheila C.; Macamay, Ma Luz A.; Malquisto, Richie S.; Maratas, Marilou C.; Nayre, Emma Virgiresa P.; Nayre, Rheeno Victor P.; Nivera, Rodel I.; Omega, Manelle I.; Oyao, Annalyn E.; Pajaron, Rosette B; Pecho, Elizandra Y; Petines, Jeanette J; Regner, Leonydia R; Tadle, Jeanette B; Tambis, Marlon M; Tan, Janice E; Tomboc, Ma Joy O;

In the Professional level, they are:: Alvarez, Tricia M; Barsomo, Dino Daniel P; Belacho, Rovelyn R; Chavez, Joel V; Conopio, Alberto D; Cortez, Kristine Gay M; Daffon, Joseph C; Daisog, Edilberto Jr. S; Dela Torre, Jinky S; Donayre, Julito M; Espere, Milagros Margarita S; Evangelista, Carmel G; Flomentira, Evangel C; Godinez, Rosalia S; Gorre, Jane Leslie P; Intanto, Rosario T; Josain, Emmanuel S; Lapid, Jefferson B; Laurente, Queenie Ann C; Lawagon, Benedick B; Mabuto, Jubymar A; Mates, Richard m; Poliquit, Arman C; Sodomia, Lydia S; Sydney, Christopher 1; Tan, Bonaire M; Tan, Lady Catherine G; Taneo, Jessica L; Tomakin, Baby Alona C; Vasquez, Hazel F; Villar, Marvin S; Ygaña, Jose Renalte P.

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