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1st Dist. Rep. Celso Lobregat called on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to “double time” the implementation of its road widening projects in the western part of Zamboanga. Lobregat’s call came on the heels of the ongoing experimental traffic scheme in this city. Constructions are ongoing in Baliwasan, as well as along its seaside area, up to the junction of San Roque and Suterville.

He said, this is his share in solving the traffic congestion problem - implementing concrete solutions by way of widening the Zamboanga City-Labuan-Limpapa road from two to four lanes. And he is optimistic the ongoing road widening projects will be completed corollary to its prescribed number of calendar days. Lobregat chairs the Committee on Public Works and Highways in Congress. And road widening is part of his priority projects for the year.

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2,766 high school and college students will be accommodated in the 2017 Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) this summer vacation.

The first batch will comprise of 1,400 college beneficiaries, who will work from April 11 to May 11. The second batch will consist of 1,366 high school beneficiaries who will work for the remaining summer period from May 9 to May 31. They are to be employed in different work programs to include clean and green, beautification projects, surveys, barangay data updating, janitorial activities, and clerical tasks.

The SPES is a joint undertaking of the local government and the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), intended to provide students the opportunity to earn and learn during their free summer months, thereby encouraging and supporting their educational pursuits. The daily wage rate of SPES beneficiaries has been set at P296. The local government will shoulder 60 percent of the salary while the Dole the remaining 40 percent. The City Government has allocated a counterpart fund of P9.8 million for the implementation of the SPES this year.

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Zamboanga city slid at least two slashes in ranking behind Zamboanga del Sur in the recently-held Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Athletic Association (ZPRAA) meet.

The fall in ranking was partly due to lack support and of a proper program in the development of athletes, according to Schools Division Superintendent, Pete Natividad.

Per data provided by his Division, Zamboanga ranked second in the secondary level and third in the elementary level of the four day competition this year.

The city ranked first place until the year 2014, the year Zamboanga siege victims occupied the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Stadium.

From then on, Zamboanga city dipped to second place to Zamboanga del Sur in the overall rankings.

As Zamboanga city started slipping, Zamboanga del Sur inched its way up increasingly and is now lodged in first place, the rank Zamboanga city mastered in the past.

Natividad attributed the rise of del Sur athletes to a well-planned program for sports spearheaded by the provincial government which focused on maintaining the Zamboanga Sports Academy that focuses on training athletes and coaches year round to ensure victory, as they did.

The program is now on its fifth year and the province continues reaping the fruits of their labor.

“In Zamboanga, efforts are only of Dep-Ed’s, admittedly, though with budget contributions from the local school board while there, aside from Dep-Ed, the provincial government is spending government money to support the sports program,” explained Natividad.

The budget for sports and education has reportedly increased to more than P12-million for this year.

“But what is that budget if you operate only on 15 days training?” ask Natividad.

Speaking in mixed chabacano, Natividad said, if there is a well-planned, well carried out well supported program a multi-sectoral backing, good results are assured.

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Lead government agency in the war against drugs, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-9 (PDEA-9) showed its mettle with agents arresting one of west coast’s suspected “drug queens” in a buy-bust operation in Talisayan last Sunday.

A report from PDEA-9 said that agents confiscated P300,000 worth of shabu from the lady drug trafficker, considered as a notorious big time pusher in the Talisayan area.

Now, that is a shade of one-time, big-time feat.

PDEA-9 Regional Director Lyndon Aspacio, CESE, identified the suspect as Wahida Abdul Abilon, 45 years old, married and a resident of the same place.

Abilon was detained at the PDEA Headquarters while the substantial confiscated items were turned over to the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination.

The Police, in also doing their part via Project Double Barrel-Reloaded added four more suspected drug pushers to their arrest list.  Arrested were Gilbert Johnston y Dagoy, 48, single, of Sitio Lantawan, Barangay Pasonanca; Elmer Giumpit y Memper, alias Cloe, 22, single, of Campaner Street, Barangay Zone III; Sheryl Angeles y Fernandez, alias Pepay, 28, single, of Sitio Bataan, Barangay Vitali, and Glenn Guerrero y Condeno, alias Totoy, 20, single, of Sitio Taloptap, Vitali.

All suspects were conducted to the police station for the filing of appropriate cases in court.

The confiscated illegal drugs will be submitted to the Regional Crime Laboratory Office 9 for examination.

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Declaring recently, Vice Pres. Leni Robredo is an enemy and is not far from being part of the felt looming destabilization plot against him, Pres. Duterte stands chivalrous still. Even with political differences with each other, Pres. Duterte is supposedly opposing strongly moves seeking to impeach the Vice President, claiming she has done nothing unlawful.

But former Marcos lawyer Oliver Lozano says otherwise, as he recently filed an impeachment complaint against Robredo for alleged betrayal of public trust and violation of the Constitution.

The President, however, frowned at the impeachment threat against Robredo, saying it would only disrupt the country’s political stability.

On “political stability,” yes, his move could be wise for “political stability” is what the yellows are allegedly brewing to disrupt. The President then called on groups behind the impeachment attempt against Robredo to “stop it” and just recognize her mandate as a duly-elected public official.

Duterte argued that Robredo has not committed any overt acts, saying her recent public statements, including criticisms against him, are part of the country’s vibrant democracy.

Speaking in mixed Pilipino, he said, “The person is elected, why do you have to (impeach her)?

“Elected?” Close “VP loser” Bongbong Marcos says otherwise, too. His protest contesting her victory is now in motion, and from severall indications, Marcos may come out winner.

Thus, to be declared “elected,” per se, is yet to be seen.

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo on Wednesday said, Vice President Leni Robredo’s statements and media reports about extrajudicial killings have made it difficult to promote the Philippines as a tourist destination.

In a press briefing in Bangkok, Teo asked the media to tone down reports on the killings.

Teo was reacting to Robredo’s video message sent to a side event of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting, in which she denounced alleged police abuses in the government’s war on drugs.

On the other hand, the Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday also reminded Vice President Leni Robredo that freedom of expression is a right that comes with the responsibility to ensure that facts are verified, and unfounded allegations from questionable sources are avoided.

This was DFA’s reaction to Robredo’s recorded remarks that the DOT Secretary had bashed.

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China has denied it is building an environmental monitoring station on Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Its foreign ministry made this disclosure yesterday. Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said reports about the facility on Scarborough Shoal had been checked and were found to be false.

Hua’s statement came almost simultaneously with Manila’s announcement that it was seeking clarification from Beijing on reports on the planned building of monitoring facilities on the shoal.

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Implementation of the three-year-old final peace agreement between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is expected to get going soon after the two panels signed the Terms of Reference (TOR) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last Tuesday.

The five-page TOR contains the parameters and other guiding principles that would govern the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed in 2014 between the GPH and the MILF.

CAB, that is the contentious pact that legal minds see as unconstitutional. (By Jimmy Cabato)

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