Regions Briefs: May 30, 2019
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday destroyed P20 million worth of smuggled cigarettes seized from a warehouse in Barangay Arena Blanco here on Sunday.
Segundo Sigmund Freud Barte Jr., BOC district collector, said the government destroyed 575 boxes of Union cigarettes to serve as a “strong warning to smugglers who refuse to pay taxes.”
Maj. Jason Frias, executive officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 11, said his group and personnel of Task Force Zamboanga raided the warehouse near the barangay hall of Arena Blanco on Sunday night after receiving a tip.
They recovered 500 boxes inside the warehouse while 75 boxes were ready to be loaded on a truck.
Frias said no one showed up to claim ownership of the contraband. Barte said the smuggled brand was commonly sold in Indonesia.
“It could have been manufactured there and most likely, smugglers passed through the small islands using small vessels to bring the items here,” he said. —Julie Alipala
3 kids drown in BCDA project site in Tarlac
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — Three children drowned on Tuesday in a pond that formed from quarrying activities of a contractor hired by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for its New Clark City project in Tarlac province.
The bodies of siblings Richel, 7, and Raymar Bruno, 9, and their playmate Eunice Gutierrez, 10, were found floating in the pond at 10 a.m.
Extracted of sand and soil for weeks, the site was 30 meters long, 15 meters wide and 3.5 meters deep.
Capas Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan said the children lived 1.2 kilometers from the quarry site, which has no “off-limits” signs or fences.
“Their parents left early for work so the children were left in the care of an aunt who did not know they went to a mango orchard [in Sitio Kalangitan, Barangay Cutcut] and probably took a swim at the pond,” he said. —Tonette Orejas
Albay traders say bus ban to hurt business in Bicol
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — The Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Acci) has joined Albay Rep. Joey Salceda in seeking a stop to the ban on provincial buses on Edsa.
In a statement, Rosemary Quinto-Rey, Acci president, said the business sector in Bicol would suffer once the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority implements the ban next month.
Rey said the chamber was expecting a business slowdown in the region due to additional freight charges for shipment of goods and increase in cost of other services.
On Monday, Salceda asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order on the ban, which would require buses from Bicol and Southern Tagalog to drop off passengers in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna province and in Parañaque City.
Buses from northern Luzon would be asked to drop off their passengers at a terminal in Valenzuela City. —Mar S. Arguelles
Leyte capitol building up for repair
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines — The 102-year-old Leyte provincial capitol will undergo a major face-lift after it was damaged when the province was hit by a 6.5-magnitude quake last month.
Vice Gov. Carlo Loreto said repair work would be coordinated with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines because the structure is considered to be of national historical importance.
The neoclassical capitol building, whose construction started in 1917 and completed in 1924, once served as the country’s seat of power when Sergio Osmeña was installed President in ceremonies held on its steps on Oct. 23, 1944.
While the capitol on Senator Enage Street and Magsaysay Boulevard withstood the onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013, it was damaged by the April 23 earthquake, with cracks seen in different parts of the building.
Loreto, however, did not say when the repair would start and how much it would cost the provincial government. —Joey A. Gabieta
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