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Its 3:07 pm, and SS just starts pounding keyboard for SS. So, expect, a speeded up touch and  go writing mode.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Zamboanga City is truly really fair share of efforts in the anti-illegal drugs campaign. Three more persons were arrested in separate anti-drug operations PDEA-Zamboanga Peninsula Director Lyndon Aspacio announced. A married couple was arrested Tuesday afternoon along Cabatangan Road in Barangay Sta. Maria after they yielded some 5.3 grams of suspected shabu (crystal meth) with an estimated market value of P6,500. Separately, one other was nabbed on Go. Ramos Ave. this City. Confiscated from the suspect was a gram of suspected shabu worth P3,000. Cases for violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 will be filed against the suspects.

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An Executive Assistant of Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco- Salazar has admitted to receiving and encashing check donations for fiesta sponsorships under his name, a practice said to contravene government rules.

The Executive Assistant, Christian Olasiman, was designated by City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco to take charge of events related to the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival since the year 2015.

Earlier, Coun. Rudy Lim revealed that a city hall employee, and not the city government of Zamboanga, has been the payee for a P45,000 check issued by a beverage company to sponsor the “Danza Verano,” an event under Zamboanga Hermosa.

Lim also presented an acknowledgment receipt under the name of Olasiman for a telecommunication company’s sponsorship amounting to P150,000.

Olasiman also admitted that the practice of receiving checks for government events in his name and encashing the same had been ongoing for events other than the Zamboanga Hermosa

He said that he also received cheques in his name for this year’s Summer Festival.

For the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival, Olasiman said that he himself encashed the cheques instead of asking donors to change the name of the payee or presenting the cheques to the Office of the City Treasurer.

Olasiman also admitted that he has been sending solicitation letters to prospective sponsors as Events Head to defray the expenses for the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival.

That there, to SS is where things have to be carefully checked. Normally, when a donor doles out contributions in checks, the latter give them in the name of the office, agency or entity.

And when a contributor hands out cash donations to the person who sent the letter, it may have something to this effect – Please issue check donations to the undersigned. That there musty lie the irregularity if ever.

A glaring fact also shines, outrightly the city government has appropriated the huge sum of money amounting to P5.072-million for the 2017 Zamboanga Hermosa Festival.

Normally, any amount shelled out by government for certain movements is based on a prepared program of work/action. Every detail and centavo earmarked for the corresponsing activity is programmed and accounted for. That  being so, there definitely would be no need for solicitations.

Dear folks, to thinks cash sponsorships for the festival amounted to a whooping  P1.175-million, with P5.072-million already at the disposal of the event organizers.

The idea for the matter to be thrown to the Commission on Audit (COA) for investigation was the order of the day.

The wisdom of  City Council majority rejecting the proposal is disputable.

Ten councilors went against the proposal for the COA to investigate are Teodyver Arquiza, Elbert Atilano Sr., Rodolfo Bayot, Jihan Edding, Juan Climaco Elago II, Tungkuh Hanapi, Charlie Mariano, Josephine Pareja, Jimmy Villaflores and Myra Paz Abubakar.

Those who were for the investigation were Councilors Rodolfo Lim, Miguel Alavar, Marxander Jaime Cabato, Benjamin Guingona IV and Lilibeth Nuño.

Councilor Jerry Perez abstained.

The City Council however approved a resolution asking the opinion of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) if the practice is a violation of the Local Government Code.

Under Rule X Article 49 of the Local Government Code’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, the local chief executive may, upon authority of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, negotiate and secure financial grants or donations in kind in support of the basic services and facilities enumerated under Rule V, from local or foreign assistance agencies without the necessity of securing clearance or approval therefore from any NGA or from higher LGU.

Rule V includes events marketing and promoting the local government unit for which the donations are intended.

And Olasiman admitted writing to sponsors for donations in his capacity as Zamboanga Hermosa Events Head.  This is however without any authority from the City Council.

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Pres. Duterte reiterated that the Philippines is not beholden to any country and that it will put the Philippines’ best interest first before anything else.

The opportunity for Duterte to raise the issue of the disputed South China Sea may surface as he is set to meet with two Chinese leaders, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, within one week.

Duterte will have a bilateral meeting with Xi during the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, while he will meet with Li during the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila next week.

According to Duterte, he is still for the peaceful resolution of the maritime dispute but said that the country is not beholden to anyone.

And Duterte was referring to China’s help during the height of the Filipino troops’ battle against the terrorists in Marawi City. However, he said he would like to make clear China’s intention.

“At one moment in our life or the lives of the Filipinos, they were there to give us the arms when we had none and we were fighting it out in Marawi,” he said.

In Pilipino, he added, “I am thankful to China. I do not deny that. But let us be clear on what we intend to do here because eventually it will affect the entire Philippine archipelago.”

Duterte stressed, China should not use its assistance as a bargaining chip.

“These are the things that we cannot forget. But these things should not be used as, not really a pawn, but as bargaining chips on what is the greater interest of Southeast Asia and more particularly, the higher interest of our country,” he said. (By Jimmy Cabato)

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