Saturday, January 30, 2010

Courtesy Call

Mayor Mel Sarmiento received Congressman Bongbong Marcos yesterday. With Congresman Marcos during his courtesy call were Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez and Councilor Christina Romualdez.

Friday, January 22, 2010

RDC approves 5 loops for Samar island, says Sarmiento

Calbayog City – Calbayog City Mayor and Region 8 Regional Development Council (RDC) Chairperson Mel Senen Sarmiento said that RDC-8 has approved 5 loops for the island of Samar and that the same projects are geared to towards providing the most reliable network of highways that will connect the island’s various economic and urban centers and different towns.

Mayor Sarmiento said the statement in his speech being the guest speaker of the Good Governance Forum sponsored by the College of Accountancy students of Christ the King College (CKC) last Thursday (Jan. 21) in celebration of their annual ‘college days’.

According to Sarmiento the network of highways includes the Calbayog-Allen Road, Catarman-Calbayog via Lope de Vega Road, Laoang-Catubig-Las Navas Road, Laoang-Arteche Road, and Las Navas-Matuguinao-Gandara Road.

“We really have to build those roads,” Sarmiento said referring to those projects that still in need of fund for implementation that include the Las Navas-Matuguinao-Gandara Road. “Our RDC had already submitted (project proposals) for possible funding, though it will take time but we have to lobby very hard,” he said adding further that RDC-8 had been able to successfully access foreign banks to finance the construction of Laoang-Arteche Road which he hopes to commence construction soon.

While Catarman-Calbayog via Lope de Vega Road is already done and now being used by motorists, Allen-Calbayog Road however is now on its construction phase, Sarmiento said.

As he answered reactions from students, Mayor Sarmiento expressed with high hopes the prospect of economic development which soon will benefit the people of Western Samar, as Las Navas-Matuguinao-Gandara Road project will connect the people of Northern Samar to the Port of Catbalogan and the sea and airports of Calbayog City. The same will spur economic activity in this part of the island, Mayor Sarmiento said further.

During the forum Mayor Sarmiento did not only discuss to the students the regional development scenario but also his 2015 development agenda for the city of Calbayog that includes the expansion of the city proper and the construction of major economic infrastructure like the Public Market-Transport Terminal Complex in Bagacay area of Ramon Magsaysay Blvd and the conversion of the present Land Transport Terminal Building in Brgy. Capoocan into the Calbayog City Convention Center. (Ike Macasa/CMO)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Unleashing catastrophe

Let me share with you the editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer last January 17, 2010.

THE decision of the Supreme Court to reverse itself on the League of Cities case last December, after its original ruling had become final and executory last May, is a ticking time bomb placed directly under the rule of law. When it explodes, the first casualty will be the Court itself.

In the constitutional crisis that shook the country after more than a third of the members of the House of Representatives voted to impeach Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. in 2003, the role of the Court as final arbiter of legal controversies was vigorously affirmed.

At that time, we wrote in this space: “The mere fact that some of the country’s best legal minds ... could not agree on a single position on the issue at hand is not a sign of confusion. It is a sign that the law may be a demanding mistress, but it is not an exact science. It is also proof that, if the Supreme Court did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it. Top lawyers may argue about the constitutionality of an issue, but at a certain point somebody must step in and decide. According to the Constitution, that somebody is not the Senate or the House; it is the Supreme Court.”

But last Dec. 19, a slender majority of six justices voted against this very principle. The Court’s reversal of the original League of Cities decision violated the governing idea that “at a certain point somebody must step in and decide.” The Court had in fact already stepped in and decided on the fate of the 16 cityhood laws that were the subject of the case; they were deemed unconstitutional by majority vote on Nov. 18, 2008; a motion for reconsideration was rejected by majority vote; a second motion for reconsideration was denied by a tie vote. On May 21, 2009, the ruling became final and executory.

And yet the Court decided to open the case again. Justice Antonio Carpio’s withering dissent in the League of Cities case quoted the petitioners’ view that “[n]otably, respondents craftily phrased and titled their motions based on the Court’s last denial order or resolution, and deliberately avoided reference to the previous repeated denials by the Court.” It is a shame that enough members of the Court agreed to reopen the case despite such duplicitous conduct.

It is a bigger shame, indeed it is a cause for apprehension about the future of the high court itself, that enough justices voted to overturn the ruling.

The argument against revisiting decisions already deemed final and executory is settled consensus; it is a by-now-unremarkable part of the law of the land. Carpio’s dissent offers a vigorous restating of the Court’s previous rulings. “Well-entrenched is the rule that a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, no longer subject to attack and cannot be modified directly or indirectly, and the court which rendered it, including this Court, had lost jurisdiction to modify it. The Court laid down this rule precisely ‘(1) to avoid delay in the administration of justice and thus procedurally, to make orderly the discharge of judicial business, and; (2) to put an end to judicial controversies, at the risk of occasional errors, which is why courts exist.’”

And yet the Supreme Court not only revisited the case; it reversed itself. This unfortunate series of events can only erode the people’s confidence in the rule of law, and undermine the credibility of the Court. We can, legitimately, ask: If there is no such thing as a final and executory ruling, can there be an end to legal and judicial controversies? If the Supreme Court declines to respect its own jurisprudence, can anyone expect the ordinary citizen to respect the Court’s rulings? If sheer majority rule, not the hallowed principle of facts and the law, determines the decisions of the Supreme Court, can the public stop itself from treating the justices as the politicians they have become?

Carpio’s dissent defined the stakes. “Such an unprecedented ruling would resurrect contentious political issues long ago settled ... Countless other decisions of this Court would come back to haunt it ... Such a ruling would destabilize not only this Court, but also the Executive and Legislative Branches ... Business transactions made pursuant to final decisions of this Court would also unravel for another round of litigation ... This Court cannot afford to unleash such a catastrophe on the nation.”

The bomb is ticking.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Images from SoCA 2010

As reported, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Calbayog held their first session for 2010 last Monday. The said session took a different twist from the previous ones as it was held in Oquendo. In the agenda was the State of the City Address (SoCA) of Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento. I will be featuring highlights from the SoCA in my next blogpost.

In the meantime, let me share some picture some pictures taken during the event.

Vice Mayor Ronald Aquino as he presided over the session. (Photo by Henry Puyat)

(Photo by Henry Puyat)

Vice Mayor Ronald Aquino with (l-r) Councilors Ina Rabuya, Danilo Bernate, Noel Sermense and Benjie Dean (Photo by Henry Puyat)

(Photo by Henry Puyat)

(Photo by Irene Pastrana)

Councilors Raymund Uy, Jonas Montealto, Virgil Clemens and Charlie Boy Coñejos (Photo by Henry Puyat)

Councilors Ver Porlares, Julius Mancol, Danilo Bernate and Noel Sermense (Photo by Irne Pastrana)

(Photo by Vaughn Calvara)

(Photo by Vaughn Calvara)

(Photo by Irene Pastrana)

Some of the Department Managers and Assistant Managers present during the event. (Photo by Irene Pastrana)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Opening of the Santo Niño de Hibatang Festival

The Santo Niño de Hibatang Festival officially opened yesterday. The highlights of the day included the First Session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the Mayor's State of the City Address and the opening of the Art Exhibit and the Agro Fair. The Opening Program was held at the Oquendo covered court. In attendance were the City Officials, Msgr. Bienvenido Chiquillo and the Oquendo Parish Council, a good number of Barangay Captains, and students and teachers from the Oquendo National High School.

The festival, the first in Oquendo is being held to highlight the 125th year of the commemoration of the Holy Infant Jesus as the Patron Saint of Oquendo.

More than the religious commemoration, the festival underscores the special distinction that Oquendo and Hibatang river hold in Calbayog history. Let me give you some historical tidbits from the Calbayog coffeetable book:

"... in 1612, Ibatan was one of the 12 principal villages administered by the Jesuits in Samar Island - Tinagon, Bangajun (now Gandara), Paranas, Malulubug, Caluigan, Libunao, Cotay, Cauayan, Ybatan, Boloneto, and in the island of Capul, the villages of Sucar and Savan. Ibatan and Tinagon were the largest of the villages with 330 households each. Ibatan became the forerunner of Calbayog."

"The Hibatang settlement was located at the mouth of Hibatang River (whose name it borrowed). The Hibatang River is the biggest nad longest river system in Cabayog City. It originates from the mountain areas along the boundaries of the towns of Lope de Vega, Northern Samar, and Calbayog City. It flows out into the Samar sea covering a distance of around 35 kilometers. For centuries, people have lived along its banks, sustained and served well by the bounty of the river. Like other settlements by great rivers, the forerunner of Calbayog had its beginnings along the Hibatang River."

"Oquendo had its beginnings in the settlement called Caybago along the Hibatang River. It was one of the visitas of the pueblo of Calbayog. On March 17, 1881, under the Franciscan, the principales of Calbayog submitted to the Provincial Governor and to the national government a petition to form a new pueblo independent of Calbayog. the proposed pueblo would include the visitas of Caybago, Pilar, Cag-anibong, Mag-ubay, Tarbucan and San Rufino."

"In 1948, when Calbayog petitioned to become a city, it aggregated its former barrios that became the pueblos of Oquendo, Weyler (Tinambacan) and Sta. Margarita. When Republic Act 328 was passed on July 15, 1948, Oquendo and Tinambacan were reduced to districts of Calbayog City."

Ribbon-cutting to officially open the festival. Mayor Mel Sarmiento (5th from the right) with Vice Mayor Ronald Aquino, Councilors Sonny Salurio, Ina Rabuya, Ver Porlares and Danny Bernate and the officials of Oquendo. (Photo by Vaughn Calvara)

(l-r) Councilors Ver Porlares, Virgil Clemens, Onx Montealto, Sonny Salurio and Nonoy Pasacas. (Photo by Vaughn Calvara)

Mayor Mel Sarmiento greeting the students who participated in the standing parade. Rightmost is Msgr. Bienvenido Chiquillo, Parish Priest of Oquendo. (Photo by Vaugn Calvara)

(Photo by Henry Puyat)

The CACO ISKOLARS performing during the Opening Program (Photo by Irene Pastrana)

Oquendo Punong Barangay Prudencio Pagunsan delivering his welcome remarks. (Photo by Irene Pastrana)

Mayor Sarmiento (leftmost) with (l-r) Councilor Ina Rabuya, Councilor Ver Porlares, Vice Mayor Ronald Aquino, Councilor Danny Bernate, Councilor Sonny Salurio, Councilor Charlie Boy Coñejos, Councilor Florencio Enriquez, Councilor Virgil Clemens, Councilor Nonoy Pasacas, Board Member Charlie Coñejos, Councilor Onx Montealto and Councilor Mon Uy. (Photo by Irene Pastrana)

(Photo by Vaugn Calvara)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mayor Mel Sarmiento delivers his last State of the City Address

Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento as he delivered his State of the City Address this morning during the first session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod. Invited to the event which was held at the Oquendo covered court were the various barangay officials, the Parish Pastoral Council of Oquendo, Students and Teachers from the Oquendo National High School and the Department Managers of LGU Clabayog. (Photo by Henry Puyat)