News Briefs : Cebu Pacific ends Laoag route
LAOAG CITY—Low-cost airline Cebu Pacific suspended flights to this city starting Jan. 14 but did not give any explanation as to why. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said the budget airline’s flight that landed at the Laoag International Airport on Jan. 13 was its last here. “We were surprised that they had suspended their operation because when we checked the record at the Laoag airport, it showed that CebuPac flights were always fully booked,” said Xavier Ruiz of the provincial tourism office. Ruiz said his office had received reports that the Laoag flights were dropped in favor of a looming expansion of CebuPac’s operation in the Visayas and Mindanao. “But we are still hopeful that within the year or earlier, CebuPac will resume its Laoag flights,” he said. —LEILANIE ADRIANO
DFA Cagayan Valley office now in Isabela
TUGUEGARAO CITY—The regional consular office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is transferring from this Cagayan capital to Santiago City in Isabela province on Jan. 25. But Florencio Franco, DFA Cagayan director, said the move was temporary, pending the opening of a local shopping mall where the regional office would be located. The Santiago office would be downgraded into a satellite office once the mall opens next year, he said. The move would entail more expenses for Cagayan residents seeking to process passports and other travel documents, said Reymart Addun, a resident of Tuguegarao. City officials have also opposed the transfer. The city council approved a resolution asking Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay to reconsider the transfer. —VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.
Right move, says group on coco tree cutting ban
LUCENA CITY—A farmers’ group said the nationwide ban on the cutting of coconut trees was “a step in the right direction.” But Danny Carranza, secretary general of Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungan Panlipunan, said officials of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) should also rid the agency of corruption to effectively help farmers. Aside from the tree cutting ban, Carranza said farmers are waiting for the programs of PCA Administrator Avelino Andal. “Farmers want to hear from Andal how he intends to lift coconut farmers from poverty while promoting the revitalization of the industry. Certainly, [the ban on cutting of coconut trees] is not enough,” he said. The ban, which took effect on Jan. 3, lasts until the end of March. Andal said the PCA imposed a moratorium because Republic Act No. 8048 (the Coconut Preservation Act) was not being effectively enforced. The law prohibits the cutting of coconut trees unless a permit is secured from the PCA. —Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Pampanga nets P370M from Pinatubo sand, gravel
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Pampanga earned P370.8 million in fees and taxes last year from haulers of sand and gravel at Mt. Pinatubo. Haulers paid P250 in administrative fees and P150 in sand tax for every truckload of sand or gravel they gathered. The P250 is used by the provincial government to pay the salaries of field personnel assigned in checkpoints as well as inspectors of quarry sites. The P150 is shared by the provincial government, towns or cities and barangay, based on a provision of the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160). Pampanga’s biggest collection reached P35.72 million in June 2016, while the lowest was P27.16 million in December. —Tonette Orejas
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