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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, January 3, 2019
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The top 10 NegOr stories in 2018
BY RENE GENOVE

 

Stories on killings, a vindication, and growth were among the top 10 Negros Oriental stories in 2018.

1. KILLINGS

In December s ix persons were killed and scores were apprehended in simultaneous police operations, assisted by the Philippine Army, in what they called a campaign against loose firearms and illegal drugs in Negros Oriental.

Militant groups claim those killed were innocent civilians.

Five of the dead were killed in Guihulngan City where numerous others, including barangay officials were killed, in 2018.

On November 20 Chief Medical Officer IV of the Canlaon District Hospital, Dr. Avelex Amor, 44, was also shot dead 65 kilometers away from Canlaon City.

He was consistent in pursuing his mission to help the poor and was called the “people’s doctor.”

His family, friends, and sympathizers continue their call for justice.

2. VINDICATION

In September the Sandiganbayan dismissed a graft case filed against Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo for the alleged illegal use of a PHP10 million cash advance for intelligence operations in 2013.

The Sandiganbayan First Division dismissed the criminal case, saying state prosecutors failed to prove Degamo’s illegal use of the fund.

The governor called the ruling a vindication, as former ombudsman Conchita Morales had ordered his dismissal from office three times for the charge, but he was allowed to return to office by the Court of Appeals that issued temporary restraining orders.

3. JOIN VENTURE STOPPED

In August 2018, the Dumaguete City government, through Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo sued the Dumaguete City Water District (DCWD) and its directors for an alleged highly anomalous and irregular joint venture agreement between the local water district and the MetroPac Water Investment Corp., to prevent the parties from implementing the project.

If allowed to proceed, a joint venture company would l be set up, with MetroPac owning 80 percent and DCWD left with just 20 percent, Remollo said. DCWD filed a petition for a temporary restraining order for the status quo to be observed until the court rules on whether or not to grant a preliminary injunction.

As of today, both parties are observing the status quo, pending the ruling of the court.

4. BROADCASTERS’ SLAY

Two broadcasters were killed in Negros Oriental in 2018.

The killing of broadcaster Edmund Sestoso sparked outrage among members of the Dumaguete media, who called for justice, and a stop to media killings and repression.

A P400,000 cash reward was raised for the arrest of the gunmen who killed Sestoso. The authorities arrested three suspects who were charged for murder on May 3.

However, on May 25, the slain broadcaster’s wife, Lourdes Sestoso, withdrew the murder complaint against the suspects, identified by the police as alleged members of the New People’s Army, to strengthen the case by gathering additional evidence.

The withdrawn case has not been refiled.

Gabriel “Gabby” Alboro, 50, a radio announcer of DYJL in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, also succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds, after he was gunned down by two suspects at Barangay Poblacion, La Libertad, Negros Oriental, in 2018.

5. CITY HALL RESTORATION.

In 2018 the restoration of the old City Hall in Dumaguete City, costing P50 million, was successful. The Presidium will become the regional museum of artifacts. The restored City Hall will serve as repository of documents and historical artifacts in Dumaguete City.

Completion of the civil work on the restoration of the Old Presidencia and the Quadrangle is expected by the first quarter of 2019 to serve as a regional museum.

6. DUMPSITE CLOSURE

The closure of the Dumaguete dumpsite sparked a debate among members of the legislature, barangay leaders, a Roman Catholic priest, and devotees as the Technical Working Group (TWG) came up with an estimate of P7.7 million for closing the dumpsite in Barangay Candau-ay.

The TWG will also provide assistance for the establishment of a sanitary landfill in barangays Candau-ay and Camanjac to manage the 80 tons of garbage collected daily.

The landfill assessment report by the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 7 dispels the disinformation and misinformation about the landfill’s negative effects on residents of barangays Candau-ay and Camanjac.

The city is waiting for the MGB report such as local geological conditions, soil properties, seismic condition, availability of cover materials, and vulnerability to flooding, which is one of the contentions of those who opposed the project.

Recently, the DENR advised the local government to look for another suitable landfill because it will contaminate the water resources of the Dumaguete City Water District. It said the place is suited only as a Materials Recovery Facility.

The elusive dream of searching for another location for the sanitary landfill is in the offing.

7. NO PLASTICS DRIVE

Dumaguete City expanded the No Plastics Monday policy that started in April 2018, from the public market to include all establishments in the city, as planned by legislators and environmentalists. Fines for violators range from P500, P1,000 and P5,000 for first, second and succeeding offenses with imprisonment of not more than six months and cancellation of the violator’s license/permit to operate for a period of one year.

After eight months since its implementation, the buying public, as well as the sellers, have started to use recyclable plastic bags, baloyot or bayong, net bags, catch bags, or sako bags for their daily marketing use.

It is hoped that a consistent implementation of the policy be effected.

8. SPORTS DESTINATION

To become a tourist destination in the sporting world, Dumaguete City started small three years ago and has become a tourist sports destination this year.

The city pocketed the Sports Tourism Organizer of the Year in the Philippines award for the successful hosting of major national, international, and local sporting events in the city.

Dumaguete was also a runner-up to Subic Freeport as the Sports Tourism Destination of the Year in the entire country.

The city has been selected as host of the Central Visayas Regional Athletics Association Meet, Private Schools Athletic Association Meet, and the exhibition game between Ateneo and De La Salle in February 2019.

9. NEW BRIDGES

The Dumaguete SP approved for funding two full span concrete bridges costing P75 million to be fully funded by the Dumaguete City government.

These two bridges will replace dikes and may improve the traffic situation and ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians even during floods.

Specifically, P25 million was allocated for the bridge at Colon Extension crossing Banica River by connecting barangays Taclobo and Bagacay. Another bridge costing P50 million traverses Banica River, connecting barangays Batinguel and Bagacay, including the acquisition of road-right-of-way and other incidental expenses, has been approved.

The public bidding for the two projects will commence in the first quarter of 2019.

10. DIAGNOSTIC CENTER

Indigent patients and other clients will now be accommodated in a bigger and more secure building following the inauguration of the P5 million diagnostic center attached to the Dumaguete City Health Office.

The city’s laboratory is also capable of conducting drug tests to determine three commonly abused substances that hoped to be administered randomly to city government officials and employees to identify those who engage in illegal drugs use and enroll them in the rehabilitation program of the local government unit. The fees may be waived for senior citizens upon recommendation of the attending physician.*

 

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