Thursday, January 31, 2008

a year ago (last week)

This was supposed to have been posted last January 24, 2008 but I got sick. Anyway, I took these pictures and videos on January 24, 2007 when the Calbayog PNP presented to the media the suspects in the killing of two female students at their Boarding House in Barangay Balud. A good number of Calbayognon went out that day to show indignation against the crime committed. The presentation was held at the Conference Hall of the Old Barracks Building (Handumanan) thus explains the image of the Cathedral in the background.

I tooks these videos using my CP to record how the crowd reacted as the suspects were taken down from the Old Barracks Building into the waiting police vehicle.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A City in Protest

The City of Calbayog today joined the nationwide protest against House Bill 24 which aims to convert 28 more municipalities into cities.

Mayor Mel Sarmiento led the activity in Calbayog. I have posted some pictures taken during this morning's event courtesy of Samar Sunday Star.

As with the other cities nationwide, the flag flew at half-mast as the Mayor delivered the LCP Manifesto.
Pictures below are of some of the employees who attended the activity.

(Here's the manifesto delivered by Mayor Sarmiento)
To our colleagues in the city government and members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, to our committed city employees who report to work daily, willing to serve our constituents with a ready smile, to all of you here present on this historic day:

A pleasant day to all!

Today, in our weekly flag raising ceremony, we mark one of the most important days in the history of cities in the Philippines. On this day, we show that we are one and united with the other 119 cities in standing for what is right and just.

We express our indignation and protest against the conversion of 16 municipalities into cities of the 13th Congress even if they did not meet the income and population requirements as mandated by law. We echo our dismay on the railroaded process of converting these 16 cities without due consideration of what is required by law. We are appalled by the inconsiderate and hasty move of the Congress for the conversion of the cities without thinking of the dire consequences it will bring to the existing cities and more importantly, to our constituents.

The consequence of this action is the minimal increase in the 2008 IRA or Internal Revenue Allotment of cities.

The IRA is derived from the income taxes that you pay to the national government. It is the rightful share of the local governments from the national government funds that essentially helps subsidize the programs and projects of our city government.

According to the Local Government Code of 1991, 40% of the national collection of taxes should be given to local government units as IRA. Then 23% of this should be given to the 120 cities in the country. This means that for every peso tax collected, 40 centavos should go to the local government units to be shared by provinces, municipalities and cities. And 23% or 9 centavos of which should go to the cities.

For the year 2008, the Department of Budget and Management released 210.7 billion pesos as IRA share for all local government units, with 47.9 billion pesos going to cities. But because of the questionable conversion of the 16 cities, the increase in the IRA of the 120 legitimate cities has been reduced by 4 billion pesos. This means that the cities get a measly increase in IRA despite the growing needs of the cities.

This deplorable effect of the reduced increase of IRA for cities is deeply felt by Puerto Princesa City in Palawan. Instead of receiving 146 pesos million as IRA, it will only receive 1.7 million pesos, a significant loss of 144 million pesos. The same is felt by other cities in the country.

Yet another blow to our cities is the use of the 2000 population data in the computation of the IRA. We all know that our population has continually increased in the past eight years especially with high urban migration. If we look closely, the IRA per capita of cities are actually far lower than that of provinces and municipalities.

Based on a 2005 statistics, each city dweller has an IRA share of 1,650 pesos compared to the allocation to provinces and municipalities which is 2,153 pesos. This is because there are more people living in the cities. In the Philippines, 55% of the population are found in urban centers.

Another burden for the cities are the thousands of transients who come in and out of the cities as workers, students, tourists and businessmen on a daily basis. These transients also need services from the city. With the reduced IRA share, the city budget which is not already in sufficient before is now even more strained.

The IRA is the fund used by the city government to fulfill its responsibility to promote the general welfare of its constituents. Majority of cities depend on IRA in extending basic services. These basic services include services on health, education, and housing.

A decrease in the IRA share therefore adversely effects the services that the city government could give to its constituents. The measly increase in the IRA is not enough to support the needs of our children for additional schools and educational facilities. It is not enough to supply cheap but quality medicine. It is not enough to cover expenses for our health centers and hospitals. It is not enough to ensure peace and order in our communities. It is not enough to offer shelter to those who need roofs over their heads. This is not enough for the proper collection and management of our wastes.

We are one of those who share this sad scenario. For this year, our city stands to receive 72,420,656.00 pesos instead of 6,583,834.00 pesos.

It is sad to mention that we in the city hall are not exempt from the effects of the IRA as it directly affects us. The casual employees of the city hall could possible carry the burden. If we have insufficient funds for our operations and for the implementation of our projects and programs, we could be forced to lay-off workers. Our operating costs are increasing. Gasoline prices increased many times last year. We need to trim down our expense. We need to identify possible resources while being more prudent in our expenditure. We are the innocent casualty of the reduced IRA share.

But we will not just allow this to happen. We will fight for justice and with your support , we will win.

We also reiterate that we are not against other municipalities to become cities as long as they meet the requirements mandated by the law. We are fighting for the right process. If there are qualified to be cities, let them be cities. But we hope that they comply with the requirements of the law and that they undergo scrutiny and proper deliberation before they are converted.

This morning we need to show our protest. We call for our law makers to respect and follow the laws that they themselves passed. We show that we are united in this issue. We here in the city, together with the rest of the 119 cities in the country are fighting for the right process and for the rule of law.

We enjoin everyone to wear black arm bands as our symbol of our dissent. This will be a symbol of our mourning for the effects of the unjust action of some of our lawmakers. This also means that we lament the blatant disregard of our plight as legitimate cities.

Let us show our unity so that others realize that the cities are a force to reckon with. It is high time that the authorities and every single Filipino understand our cause. As engines of growth of this country, we have to be heard.

This will be a continuing fight for us. We will do this protest every Monday. We encourage our constituents and all the stakeholders to join our fight. We will wear our arm bands. And flags will be raised on half mast.

The IRA issue is not just our issue. It is the issue of the people. Every citizen, rich, poor, young and old, should be involved. We should take stand and fight for our right.

Monday, January 7, 2008

images from SOCA 2008

Mayor Mel Sarmiento delivered his State of the City Address (SOCA) during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod this morning. I'll be posting in the coming days some highlights from the Mayor's SOCA 2008. In the meantime let me share some pictures taken during the said event. (pictures courtesy of Cristy Samonte of the CTIO)

The Presiding Officer, Vice Mayor Ronald Aquino

Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento
(l-r) Councilors Jim Uy, Ver Porlares, Julius Mancol, Ina Rabuya, Danilo Bernate, and Noel Sermense (partly hidden)

(r-l) Councilors Raymund Uy, Virgilio Clemens, Onx Montealto, Arturo Pasacas, Sonny Salurio, and Benjie Dean

ABC President Florencio Enriquez and SK Federation President Charlie Boy Coñejos

a friendly reminder

It's the start of a new year and it's time to pay our taxes. The City Treasurer's Office came up with various posters, streamers, radio plugs and this reminder hung at the back of a good number of PD cabs to remind everyone to, well, pay their taxes.

Friday, January 4, 2008

construction is goin on

Traffic at the rotonda (Obrero) area was re-routed again to give way to the construction being done by China State Development Corporation. It's part of the package aimed at rehabilitating the Maharlika Highway.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Party's Over

Happy New Year! I went to mass at 8 this morning. It was attended by a good number of the faithful Calbayognon. Surely, more than half of Calbayog was still asleep by then. The streets were very quiet with almost no people in sight, as shown in the pix I took: that of the primera calle, part of Magsaysay Boulevard and Gomez Street.

Meanwhile, in the other parts of the city, as expected garbage as in used boxes, paper, styrofoam, plastic wrapper and what have you were all over the place. But no need to worry, the people (or should I say some of them) who are concerned in restoring order, err cleanliness went to work - yes on New Year's Day.