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Solon Vows Relentless Fight for Yolanda Homeless

Cong. Albee News Feed - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 11:02



08 November 2017

The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on housing vowed to bring to justice officials and private contractors for the delay and substandard quality of housing projects for Yolanda-affected families as the nation marks today the fourth year since the super typhoon devastated Visayas.

In a press statement, Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez lamented that four years have passed yet thousands still live in temporary housing or in danger zones. “It appears that, for many families, the tragedy continues,” he said.

Rep. Benitez has led a series of public hearings in Eastern Samar, Tacloban and Congress since August to probe the snail-paced implementation of Yolanda housing projects. The committee had uncovered substantial information that aside from delays in the construction, substandard materials were used in the Yolanda housing project in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

An inspection team directed by the committee had discovered the use of 8 millimeter re-bars in the housing project in Balangiga.

In a joint meeting with the committee on good government in September, lawmakers had grilled National Housing Authority (NHA) officials on allegations of irregular bidding process where a single contractor – JC Tayag Builders – cornered the 800-million housing project in Eastern Samar.

During the same hearing, it was also revealed that NHA regional officials still recommended the extension of the JC Tayag Builders’ contract despite knowing its use of substandard materials and huge negative slippages.

“This is utterly unacceptable. Our kababayans in the Yolanda corridor have suffered enough yet some people have the gall to profit from their misfortune,” Rep. Benitez bemoaned.
The Negros congressman said that he will personally ensure that officials and contractors who profited from Yolanda housing projects will be held accountable and charged in court.

Rep. Benitez also said that he will continue to press the government to fast-track the implementation of Yolanda housing projects.

“Four years but we see little progress. I am hoping that it would not take yet another four years to fulfill the promise of adequate housing for Yolanda survivors. We will not let rest until Yolanda-affected families will finally have a safe and decent house to live in,” he added. #

NHA: Contractor behind 'substandard' housing can't bid for Yolanda projects

Cong. Albee News Feed - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 16:06



Patty Pasion
Published 2:30 PM, November 07, 2017
Updated 3:05 PM, November 07, 2017

JC Tayag Builders is accused of constructing substandard houses for survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

MANILA, Philippines – The National Housing Authority (NHA) said on Tuesday, November 7, that contractor JC Tayag Builders will not be able to bid for the remaining projects in the post-Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) housing program.

The contractor is likely to face charges of perjury and syndicated estafa after making false statements during a House of Representatives probe into the allegedly substandard houses built for Yolanda survivors in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

Contractor Juanito Tayag was called to the congressional investigation following the visit of House committee on housing and urban development chairperson Alfredo Benitez to 3 housing sites.

Benitez and other lawmakers met with subcontractor Camilo Salazar who claimed that Tayag delivered rusty 8 millimeter (mm) steel rods when he ordered the 10 mm variation.

During the hearing, Tayag denied the use of 8 mm rods and instead said under oath that 10 mm rods were used in the construction.

The NHA declined to comment further on the case, saying it will address the matter in the proper forum.

But Engineer Grace Guevarra, one of the project heads, gave an assurance that contractors will not be paid until construction defects are corrected.

"It's a mass housing project. We can't skirt problems in construction. That is what we call construction defects. These are subject to rectification before we pay [the contractor]," she said.

The NHA said it has not encountered issues with other contractors except for the usual cases where it had to cancel the award due to failure of a contractor to submit documentary requirements.

Out of the 205,128 housing units needed, 95% or 194,454 have already been bidded out to contractors as of October 30 this year.

Source: Rappler.com

Plunder raps await Yolanda contractor, NHA execs

Cong. Albee News Feed - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 06:46




Published November 5, 2017, 10:00 PM
Floro M. Mercene

The chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development will recommend the filing of plunder charges against a contractor of housing projects for victims of typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Samar, including officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA).

A congressional inquiry revealed collusion between the contractor and the lead government agency in the Yolanda housing program.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfred “Albee” Benitez, committee chairman said when Congress resumes session next month, they will recommend the filing of plunder charges against contractor Juanito Tayag of the J.C Tayag Builders, Inc., and several officials of the NHA, whose names he did not reveal.

“J.C Tayag was only a ‘Double A contractor,’ meaning he is entitled to engage in government projects of only up to P200 million worth,” said Benitez.

“But by breaking an P800-million project into smaller ones with each project amounting to less than P200 million each, J.C. Tayag was able to qualify to bid and corner all of them,” Benitez said.

Aggravating matters, Benitez said, was the use of substandard materials for the housing units.

The lawmaker discovered this when an engineer of the contract, Camilo Salazar, during an inspection, told to them the contractor did not meet the specified standard, particularly on the use of the steel bars.

While the specifications called for 16-millimeter reinforcing bars (rebar), rebars measuring 6.53 mm to 11.84 mm were found to have been used.

Although Tayag agreed to an executive session, Benitez revealed the contractor still denied everything.

Tayag was allegedly still hoping to collect the hundreds of millions of pesos for his unfinished projects with the NHA, thus his reluctance to compromise his “contacts” inside the agency.

Before Yolanda, the NHA used to have a budget of about P5 to P6 billion.

But in the case of Yolanda, NHA was flooded with funds of about P60 billion, to fund projects of gargantuan proportions. They were unable to control their greed and failed to hide the extent of corruption,” said the solon.

Source: Manila Bulletin

Cong. Albee Benitez Tuigan nga Halad Kandila!

Tatak Metro 3rd - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:16


Posted October 31, 2017



"CANDLE MAKERS "
of 3rd District, Negros Occidental
  • Brgy. Cansilayan MURCIA
  • Brgy. Zone 10, TALISAY CITY
  • Brgy. Rizal, SILAY CITY
  • Brgy. Tanza, EB MAGALONA
  • VICTORIAS CITY
  • Inmates BJMP Victorias, Brgy. 2
  • Livelihood Core Group, Brgy. I



(Photos/text Lagrimas Berdin Lamason Silvestre)

Another Yolanda storm brewing – and what a howler!

Cong. Albee News Feed - Sun, 10/29/2017 - 17:50



BY MAURO GIA SAMONTE ON OCTOBER 29, 2017

The huge howler that was Yolanda in 2013 does not seem to have ended after all. Four years into its anniversary four days from today, the killer typhoon (death toll more than 6,300, with bodies continuing to be found into 2014) is once more a-forming, its howl now certain to duplicate that which made Yolanda the most destructive on record to have hit humanity ever.

This time around, Yolanda’s winds and storm surges are attuned to a windfall of P800 million, culled from an avalanche of financial and material support from the international humanity for the rehabilitation of victims and their homes in Samar, Leyte, and elsewhere in Western Visayas.

P800 million is reflected in the accounting books of the National Housing Authority (NHA) as the amount of housing units erected by the agency here and there in Samar and Leyte for awarding to those who lost their homes, not to mention their loved ones, in the Great Flood.

This seems good, even laudable, as far as it goes.

Trouble is, there is Negros Occidental Rep. Alfred “Albee” Benitez, chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development. A no-nonsense lawmaker, whose roots go down to the famed Conrado Benitez of the revered “Seven Wise Men” who drafted the 1935 Philippine Constitution. Cong. Albee, as he is fondly called, began looking into the matter when complaints cropped up from among their early beneficiaries that the housing units were sub-standard and veritably unlivable.

Not content with media accounts on the anomaly, Albee on his own went to Samar and made on-site inspection of the houses. Realizing who Albee was, an informant, claiming to have had a responsible hand in the relocation project, came forward and volunteered the information that those housing units are really of sub-standard quality.

To prove his contention, the informant took an easy time cracking the wall of one such unit, and voila, there appeared in their eyes oh so tiny round bars as steel support for the hollow-blocked wall.

“What’s the size of this round bar?” asked Cong. Albee.

“6.5 mm.”

“What was the specification in the plan?” Cong. Albee again asked.

“16mm.”

Anybody familiar with the construction business would say that you don’t use a 6.5 mm round bar as studs for layering concrete hollow blocks (asintada in the vernacular) to put up a wall. That kind of steel is even smaller in size than the standard one used for girting (anillo in construction lingo) the steel frame of concrete posts which is 8 mm.

Cong. Albee walked inside a few of the houses and experienced a common characteristic. The walls appeared to shake, as from an earthquake aftershock. That characteristic, contended the informant, is common to all the houses recorded in NHA books to be worth P800 million.

Convinced of the informant’s contention, Cong. Albee asked if he was ready to testify on the matter under oath. The informant agreed.

Alas but on the day of the congressional hearing on the anomaly, the informant backed out. And that’s where the issue appeared to come to a rest until Congress went into its current recess.

But, as John Paul Jones would word it, for Cong. Albee, the fight has only just began. He believes he has uncovered a big anomaly in the NHA and he is dead set in curing it for good.

In an interview with select members of the media recently, Cong. Albee disclosed that his committee will recommend the filing of plunder charges against contractor Juanito Tayag of the J.C. Tayag Builders, Inc. and several officials of the NHA. He declined to name names.

Cong. Albee declared that he is so convinced by the evidences he has in his possession of collusion between contractors and NHA that if it came to it, he would in his personal capacity file plunder charges against them.

“J.C. Tayag was only a Double A contractor,” said Cong. Albee. He explained that this meant Tayag is entitled to engage in government projects of only up to P200 million.

“But by breaking up an P800 million project into smaller ones with each amounting to lesser than P200 million each, J.C. Tayag was able to qualify to bid and corner all of them,” said Cong. Albee.

According to the Negros lawmaker, all four chopped-up projects cornered by J. C. Tayag, each amounting to P200 million, are located in one contagious area, so that the contractor cannot claim that those four are different from one another.

Cong. Albee said at one point, Tayag struck up a compromise with the Housing Committee for the latter to make disclosures in executive session in order to clear up the NHA mess.

“However,” the lawmaker said, “Tayag, up to the last minute, still refused to admit guilt.”

He later learned Tayag was still hoping to collect the hundreds of millions of pesos from his unfinished projects with the NHA, thus his reluctance to compromise the situation of his “contacts” inside the agency.

“Apparently, his contacts are still with the NHA,” said Cong. Albee. “I believe collusion between the NHA and private contractors have long been in existence even before the Yolanda housing controversy.”

According to Cong. Albee, NHA used to get only a budget of about P5 billion to P6 billion. At that level, even if there was the possibility that there already was corruption, people failed to notice it as the projects then were not so huge.

“But in the case of Yolanda, NHA was flooded with funds of about P60 billion and projects of gargantuan proportions that they could no longer control and hide the extent of corruption,” said the lawmaker.

At any rate, the Negros Occidental representative needs every support in his effort, undertaken with almost private passion, to get to the bottom of this housing controversy. Another windfall in this genre must be upcoming, what with another avalanche of support the country is currently getting from the international community for the rehabilitation of Marawi.

NHA stands to be a far greener pasture for its herd of contractors to graze on.

Source: Manila Times

Cong. Albee Benitez at National Convention of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Association (CREBA) in Davao

Tatak Metro 3rd - Sat, 10/28/2017 - 12:54

Posted October 28, 2017

"It is time for the government to open up its doors for the private sector in building homes, development new towns and urban renewal projects. The public-private partnership should be geared towards finding innovative solutions that will ultimately make accessible decent and affordable homes to Filipino families"

-- Cong. AlbeeBenitez during the National Convention of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Association (CREBA) in Davao



Real estate group pushes creation of housing department

Cong. Albee News Feed - Fri, 10/27/2017 - 17:46




Published in the Sunstar Davao Newspaper on Friday, October 27, 2017
By Jennie P. Arado

A HOUSING department will help better address the country’s housing concerns than a mere coordinating council, said Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Association, Inc. (Creba) official.

One of the bills that Creba wants to push is the Department of Housing Bill, which had been pending for about 20 years now.

According to Creba executive director Sharmin Albacete, this bill had been certified as an urgent bill by past administrations but still did not make it into law.

“Creba is hopeful that having a Department of Housing and Development, rather than just a coordinating council that we have now for housing, the housing concerns of the nation will be better addressed by a department that is truly focused on delivering housing programs encompassing finance, administration, actual production, and better regulations for housing,” said Albacete.

By late 2015, the House of Representatives approved the creation of Department of Housing and Urban Development. House Bill (HB) 6194 was authored by House Committee on Housing and Urban Development Chairman Alfredo Benitez, Liberal Party (LP) representative Rodolfo Biazon, LP representative Jose Christopher Belmonte, Lakas representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Party-list representative Silvestre Bello III.

The HB has the objective of merging together the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

“What we would like the department to focus on are on four major aspects that are now spread out being implemented independently by several shelter agencies, some of them even Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs). So we would like to integrate all of these housing functions under a department of housing to make the entire process of housing, real estate development, and planning more systematic,” said Albacete.

As for their organization’s part, she said they had been relentless in pushing the passage of the bill most especially to the congressmen that they know or the congressmen of the areas they have chapters in.

Albacete said their organization understands that creation of a new department might require additional funding from the government, however, they are hopeful that with the recent creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to answer an urgent need, the department of housing will also finally be pushed as well.

“(The urgent need) is also true for housing as well. There is no need for new funding because the key shelter agencies already have their own. What we only need to do is to integrate the functions, the funds, and administration and fashion it in a way that we will set the responsibilities and accountabilities of the secretary very clearly,” she said.

Meanwhile, Creba Public Relations Officer and 2017 National Convention Chairman Jocelyn Yumul believes that the constant appointment of the highest elected official of the opposing party of the elected president as HUDCC chair is one of the major reasons the creation of the department is always pending under different administrations.

“We have not been given priority in that area only because there really is no strength or strong influence by the head. We’re happy that at least, during this term the head of housing is a direct appointee of the president,” Yumul.

The appointment of Eduardo del Rosario as HUDCC chair in July followed the stepping down of Vice President Leni Robredo from the position.

Source: Sunstar Davao

Cong. Albee Benitez Tuigan nga Palipay sa aton kauturan nga Inmates @ BJMP, Victorias City

Tatak Metro 3rd - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 08:27


Posted October 26, 2017



Showcasing their LIVELIHOOD PRODUCTS :

If you are looking for this product & want to help them please visit BJMP Victorias @ Brgy. 2, Victorias City under Punong Barangay RJ Sablan




(Photos/text Lagrimas Berdin Lamason Silvestre)

Cong. Albee Benitez Spoke at 65th National Convention of the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers

Tatak Metro 3rd - Sat, 10/21/2017 - 08:53

October 20, 2017

Rep. Albee Benitez spoke about the challenges in the power industry during the 65th National Convention of the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers in SMX Convention Center in MOA, Pasay City.



Cong. Albee Benitez underscored the need to institutionalize competitive selection process for power supply agreements and the importance of switching to renewable energy.



More Negrense support for federalism seen

Cong. Albee News Feed - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 17:01




Published October 18, 2017, 10:00 PM
By Mark L. Garcia

Bacolod City — President Duterte’s move to shift to a federal government is gaining more support in Bacolod and Negros Occidental.

Martin Diño, a strong Duterte ally and former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman, was in Negros Occidental Monday to seek Negrenses’ support for the move towards federalism, a move that will keep the two Negros provinces together and create a free port zone that could generate thousands of jobs.

Diño was accompanied by Local Government undersecretaries Jesus Hinlo and Emily Padilla, and Social Welfare Undersecretary Virginia Orogo, who like Diño are officials for the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee.

They joined Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia at the Bacolod City Government Center, and a forum on federalism in Bago City Tuesday.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Leonardia have announced their support for a federal government.

Marañon believes the abolished Negros Island Region is a good model for establishing a federal state.

Earlier this month, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez led the oath-taking of about 13,000 Negrenses here as new members of PDP-Laban. The separate oath-taking ceremonies were led by Leonardia and 3rd District Representative Alfredo Abelardo Benitez.

Diño said the President wants the change to federalism fast-tracked and put to a vote in a referendum during the barangay elections next year or the mid-term polls in 2019.

He said they are going around the country to explain the advantage of a federalist state, especially to Filipinos living outside Metro Manila where development has been focused for years.

Source: Manila Bulletin

Crush terror before lifting martial law – Lacson

Cong. Albee News Feed - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 17:04



BY BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO ON OCTOBER 18, 2017

SEN. Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said the military must be allowed to finish its “final assault” against the remaining terrorists cornered in Marawi City before martial law is lifted in Mindanao.

Some senators said the government must also focus on the reconstruction of war-torn Marawi following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration that the Islamic City has been “liberated” from the clutches of the Islamic State-linked Maute group.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said: “A new dawn is coming to Marawi and Mindanao. I look forward to a modern city to replace the old Marawi.”

“Liberating Marawi is the easy part. Now, for the more difficult part which is rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery,” said Sen. Gregorio Honasan 2nd.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said martial law should not be lifted yet in Mindanao as government troops needed to continue with clearing operations “to make sure that all the terrorists are arrested or neutralized.”

The President declared martial law in Marawi on May 23 hours after the Maute group attacked the city. Congress later extended the declaration up to the end of the year.

Assessment needed

Lacson said the military should finish its mission prior to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi.

“If there will be terrorists left behind, they can be likened to a wound or bacteria which can be infectious and spread,” Lacson said.

Sought for reaction regarding proposals to lift martial law in Mindanao following the death of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, Lacson said, “Let us first assess the full gamut of the Marawi crisis.”

“In lifting the martial law, it is the government forces on the ground who can make the proper proposal because according to them there are still foreign terrorists in the [main battle]area. I think they are already looking at a small area to launch their final assault,” he said.

“So, it depends on their recommendation since they are the ones on the ground. It’s not for me, for you, or anybody for that matter who are not in Marawi City who should assess when to lift the martial law,” Lacson added.

Sotto said martial law was not needed for the rehabilitation of Marawi. “I think the President will lift martial law shortly. We should still be alert and cautious.”

For opposition senator Francis Pangilinan, the government should make rehabilitation of Marawi City a top priority “instead of dwelling on baseless destabilization reports.”

House mixed

Members of the House of Representatives were split on whether or not to lift martial law.

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles said martial law should remain in effect even after the remaining leaders of the Maute militants have been killed, to allow the fast and uninterrupted rebuilding of Marawi City.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez martial rule “should be lifted as soon as possible.”

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said the latest developments downgraded the justification for martial law, but conceded that clearance from the troops in Marawi was needed before lifting it.

“The commitment of the security officials during the martial law hearings in Congress is that they will recommend the lifting of martial law once security threat has been downgraded,” Baguilat said.

“But I am willing to await a full military assessment of the situation with the caveat that martial law should be lifted,” he added.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said he would leave it to the President to decide on the matter,
“I will leave it to [Duterte] to assess the threat of terrorist attacks not just in Marawi but all over Mindanao and whatever his decision will be I will support it as a Mindanaoan,” Barbers said.

Rehab is next step

Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that with the siege over, the swift and reliable rehabilitation of Marawi should be the next priority.

“The rehabilitation of Marawi City should have a comprehensive, multi-agency plan in order to properly address all fronts. Provision of basic needs, building of houses and infrastructure, and return of economic activity are things that must be acted upon immediately. Psychological services should also be provided for the residents and soldiers who have been in the frontlines and have endured the conflict on the ground,” Alejano said in a statement.

“I hope that the rehabilitation would be swift and reliable. We do not want to add more sufferings to the people of Marawi. May all of us in the government and civil society offer our helping hands to our Maranao brothers and sisters,” Alejano said.

AND RALPH VILLANUEVA

Source: Manila Times

Nikki Cares Surgical Mission Pre-screening

Cong. Albee News Feed - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 09:27



on Wed, 10/18/2017

More than 500 residents of the Third District of Negros Occidental, all with medical conditions like hernia, gallstones, goiter, polyp, cyst and the like that may require surgery underwent pre-screening last October 13, 2017 for the Nikki Cares Surgical Mission slated November 23 to 26, 2017 at the Teresita Jalandoni Memorial Provincial Hospital.



Mrs. Nikki Benitez welcomes all who participated in the pre-screening and thanks assistance of supporters.*

Dominique “Nikki” Lopez Benitez, wife of Congressman Alfredo Benitez, organized the surgical mission with the assistance of the Makati Medical Center surgeons who volunteered their free services. The project is supported by Silay City Government through Mayor Mark Golez, Teresita Jalandoni Memorial Provincial Hospital through Chief of Hospital Dr. Girlie Pinongan, Betty Bantug Benitez Foundation through Executive Director Mary Ann Diño and the District Office of Congressman Benitez.



BBBF Executive Director Mary Ann Diño briefs the Makati Medical Center surgeons before the pre-screening.*

The prospective surgical patients came from the cities of Silay, Talisay and Victorias, and the municipalities of Murcia and EB Magalona.

The surgeons from Makati Medical Center who conducted the pre-screening were Dr. Erwin Dizon, Dr. Natividad Soler, Dr. Fe Villarfria, Dr. Joaquin Manalastas, Dr. Darryl Santiago, and Dr. Michele Angela Meer Anievas.*

 

 

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

Pre-Screening for Nikki Cares Surgical Mission Today at Silay Provincial Hospital

Tatak Metro 3rd - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 19:28


October 13, 2017

More than 500 residents of the Third District of Negros Occidental and some from other districts, with varied ailments that may require major surgery underwent pre-screening process today, October 13, 2017, at the Teresita L. Jalandoni Memorial Provincial Hospital in Silay City.



Nikki Benitez welcomes participants to the pre-screening and thanks supporters of the project.

The pre-screening is preparatory to the free surgical mission come November 23 to 26 by a team of medical specialists from the Makati Medical Center, organized by Dominique "Nikki" Lopez Benitez, wife of Congressman Alfredo Benitez.



BBBF Executive Director briefs the Makati Medical Center doctors before the start of the pre-screening. The volunteer doctors are Erwin Dizon, Natividad Soler, Fe Villafria, Joaquin Manalastas, Darryl Santiago and Michele Angela Meer Anievas.

The project dubbed "Nikki Cares: Libre nga Operasyon" gathered indigent residents with medical conditions like hernia, gall stones, ovarian cyst, goiter, myoma, others that may require major operation.



Providing full support to the project are the Silay City Government through Mayor Mark Golez, Betty Bantug Benitez Fooundation through Executive Director Mary Ann Dino, Teresita Jalandoni Provincial Hospital through Chief of Hospital Dr. Girlie Pinongan and the District Office of Congressman Alfredo Benitez.*

From the Editor-in-Chief: Albee for Senator? (Why Not?)

Cong. Albee News Feed - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:26



on Fri, 10/13/2017 by Pert Toga

“It’s about time. If Albee does not run for the Senate now, when will he decide? If not in this 2019 polls, when? If not Albee,, who?” These were just some of the instant reactions from several Albee supporters and political pundits as the possibility of his senatorial draft for the Senate was declared during the mass oath-taking of thousands who joined the political exodus to the administration camp recently at the Victorias Coliseum in that Northern Negros Occidental city.

When speaker Pantaleon Alvarez jumped the gun on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte by virtually proclaiming Negrense Congressman Albee Benitez as having been included among the top contenders for the PDP-Laban senatorial slate in the 2019 mid-term elections, most Negrenses were apparently amazed but happy and optimistic.

Not a few welcomed the unexpected and sudden expression of open support by the party in power in favor of Albee whose constituency had been silently praying and hoping that this time, Negros Occ. will finally have its very own favorite son to sit as a senator, what with the big influence and political clout of the administration bandwagon, granting that the President dramatically recovers from a recent slump in his trust rating and to maintain his upward trend in popularity until his six-year term comes to a booming conclusion especially sometime in 2019 or earlier.

Albee, who apparently could hardly hold his emotions and surprise, but can only exhude his elation by being humble enough to say that there are still many things to take into consideration, and he has yet to make a nationwide consultation to “feel the real pulse of the Filipino electorate.”

Truly, it’s not just popularity, money or political endorsements that could make a candidate win. What’s more important, to our mind, is a nationwide political machinery, well-oiled and efficiently-managed by professionals with unquestioned integrity and loyalty. But over and above all else, the candidate’s winnability, mass appeal, sterling acceptability, qualifications, credibility and sincerity can do wonders for an achiever like Albee Benitez.

If one possesses all these qualities in abundance, he will boost his self-confidence and further enhance his chances, especially with his eloquence and charisma as a convincing public speaker, sincere and down-to-earth in his approaches to ease the plight of the less fortunate.

For generations, Negros Occidental had not been blessed with the rare opportunity to elect even one senator, unlike some other provinces like Cebu, Iloilo and even those with relatively smaller number of registered voters. Why is this so? Lack of qualified leaders? Crab mentality? Lack of unity? The ever-widening gap between the very rich and the poor? Name it, we have it, and so what happens? True-blooded Negrenses could hardly even reach first base in national elections.

Gone were the days when we were lucky enough to have some of our big names who made it to the senate, much more the vice presidency or the presidency for that matter. Not even during the hey-days of the once influential “Sugar Bloc” when rich and highly-respected sugar barons lorded it over the country’s political electoral processes and economic dominance.

Those were the days when Negros Occ. had been ably represented in the upper chamber like the late Senator Pedro “Perico” C. Hernaez, often refined to as “father of Bacolod City” having principally sponsored the bill that granted the city charter of Bacolod City in 1938; the late Senator Enrique B. Magalona of the former town of Saravia which was later named in his honor by no less than his son, Luis Magalona, one of the longest-serving mayor of the said town, now EB Magalona; the late Senator Jose C. Locsin of Silay City; the late Senator Ramon Torres of Bago City; not to forget the late former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gil Montilla of Isabela, Negros Occidental.

After these distinguished gentlemen, I can no longer recall any other Negrense who rose to national prominence in governance except for the late Island Governor Alfredo “Peding” Montelibano, Sr. who was tapped by former Presidents as economic czar, heading top positions like Interior Secretary and chairman of the National Economic Council, among others and the late former Ambassador Roberto Salas Benedicto who was one of the closest and most influential figures during the Martial Law era, having headed the Philippine Sugar Commission (PHILSUCOM), the National Sugar Trading Authority (NASUTRA) several banking institutions and the Philippine National Bank (PNB), during the unlamented 20-year-term of the dictatorship under the late Pres. Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.

Several distinguished Negrenses have attempted to vie for national positions but unfortunately did not succeed, many of them could not even land in the winning column even in their native province, Negros Occ. despite their winning capability and qualifications. One of them was the late Jose Yulo of Bago City who aspired for the presidency but lost to Carlos P. Garcia, a Boholano who defeated Yulo even in his home ground, Negros Occ. The late City Councilor Wilson Gamboa Sr., who rose to prominence to become Defense Undersecretary for munitions and DAR secretary sometime during the Cory Aquino presidency also failed to clinch a senate seat despite the political clout of his group, the Grand Alliance for Democracy (GAD) led by then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile. Sad but until recently, decades after the one-man rule and earlier, Negrenses hoping for at least one senatorial wannabe to even reach first base in the national polls. Many political analysts have pointed to the crab mentality as among the causes of these misfortunes. True or not, the facts and realities point to the continued frustration among Negrense voters who are always hoping against hope that at least one Negrense aspirant for the Senate can make it at last. Is Albee Benitez the answer to their prayers? That of course depends upon Albee himself and the sincerity of his supporters and political backers in the high echelon of the political firmament, and above all, the entire Filipino electorate come 2019. It’s still a decisive two years to go and many intervening factors and crucial events are expected to happen affecting the ever-changing and volatile political crisis confronting the nation.

Will it bring about favorable atmosphere towards realization of the Negrense dream? Or will it lead to another standstill and further frustrations for Negrenses whose fond wishes for unity will remain a bad dream and worse, a political nightmare of unprecedented magnitude? Let’s wait and see what the political scenario will turn out to be in the next two years.*

 

Source: Negros Daily Bulletin

NHA to rebid P800-m ‘Yolanda’ housing project

Cong. Albee News Feed - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 15:19



posted October 11, 2017 at 12:01 am by Maricel Cruz

The government will rebid the allegedly anomalous P800-million housing projects intended for Yolanda victims, a National Housing Authority official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

At a congressional hearing conducted by the joint House committees on housing and urban development and on good government and public accountability, chaired by Reps. Alfredo Benitez of Negros Occidental and Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur, NHA assistant general manager Froilan Kampitan said the rebidding of the contract was needed to fast-track the implementation of the “Yolanda” housing projects which said to have used substandard construction materials.

“We just need to rebid it to a new contractor. We are trying to locate some properties already that are available [under the contract of JC Tayag Builders Inc.,” Kampitan said during the hearing.

Kampitan said the NHA will issue a notice of termination of contract to JC Tayag Builders Inc., operated by JC Tayag, the main contractor of the government’s “Yolanda” housing project in Eastern Samar.

Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar earlier filed the resolution on the controversy.

“Procurement policies, land acquisition issues and the many permits and clearances needed to start certain projects have been cited as among the primary reasons that slow down the implementation of the resettlement projects,” Evardone said.

In the same hearing, Tayag denied anew that his construction firm used substandard materials and thus endangering the lives of the families and victim of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.” 

Tayag’s subcontractor Camilo Salazar accused his principal of using substandard steel and bars for the construction of 2,000 housing units for “Yolanda” victims in Balangiga, Hernani and Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

Salazar alleged that Tayag used 8-millimeter steel rods in the construction instead of the required specification of 10 millimeters.

Earlier, Benitez’s committee conducted a series of on-site hearings on the issue and validated Salazar’s allegations against Tayag.

Benitez said his panel’s inspection team uncovered the size of the reinforcing steel bars averaged at 8 millimeters; while it also discovered that Tayag also used undersized bars of 12 millimeters, which is below the requirement of 16 millimeters.

Benitez also said lawmakers will recommend the filing of perjury, syndicated estafa and plunder charges against Tayag and other NHA officials over the controversy.

Source: Manila Standard

Groundbreaking Ceremony of Scout Ranger Ville

Cong. Albee News Feed - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 17:43


October 11, 2017
Courtesy of PTV




Source: PTV

NHA in hot water over ‘Yolanda’ housing

Cong. Albee News Feed - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 15:07




October 11, 2017
By: Ellson Quismorio

The National Housing Association (NHA) is in hot water for failing to act on the use of substandard materials for housing projects in “Yolanda”-ravaged Eastern Samar.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, chairman of the Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said during a joint House inquiry yesterday that someone must answer for this very disturbing negligence on the part of the NHA.

The hearing was conducted along with the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, although the Benitez panel began its probe on the controversial construction project last September.

“There seems to be a failure on NHA’s monitoring system since the fact remains, for nine months…you told this hearing that you knew nine months before that substandard materials had been utilized. But no rectification, no action has been taken after nine months after this hearing discovered and exposed (it),” Benitez told attending NHA officials led by Assistant General Manager (AGM) Froilan Kampitan.

NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. – scolded by congressmen during last month’s hearing for being too lax on housing project contractor JC Tayag Builders as far as meeting targets go – did not attend yesterday’s hearing.

Source: Tempo

UNegA meetings in October, Benitez not ruling out guv bid

Cong. Albee News Feed - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 21:30



Tuesday, October 10, 201
BY CARLA GOMEZ

The United Negros Alliance is set to hold meetings this month, that will include the swearing in of new members, its secretary general, Acting Governor Salvador Escalante, said yesterday.

He said Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., UNegA chairman, is still determined to support Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Neg.Occ., 3 rd District) if he runs for senator or governor of Negros Occidental.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Koko Pimentel, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan top officials, have said Benitez is on their party's senatorial line up shortlist for 2019.

But Benitez saidlast night thatrunning for governor of Negros Occidental is “still an option” along with even not running for any post at all.

If Benitez does not run for the top post of the province,UNegA has yet to determine whom it will field for governor, Escalante said.

He said no merger talks between UNegA and Love Negros have begun, so he could not say ifUNegAwould supporta gubernatorial bid of Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson.

He said anything is possible from a Lacson-Alfredo Marañon III to a Lacson –Jeffrey Ferrertandem to a purely UNegA team up.

Meanwhile, among the likely contenders for the fifth congressional seat with Alejandro Mirasol on his third and last term, are Board Member Alain Gatuslao, Himamaylan Mayor Agustin Ernesto Bascon and Marilou Arroyo.*CPG

Source: The Visayan Daily Star

NHA may bid out Yolanda housing project again as contractor comes under fire

Cong. Albee News Feed - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 18:17



By: Vince F. Nonato - Reporter / @VinceNonatoINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 04:53 PM October 10, 2017

The National Housing Authority is set to terminate the contract of a construction firm that allegedly used substandard materials in the houses meant for the resettlement of families in Eastern Samar that were displaced by Typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) in 2013.

A notice to terminate and a show-cause order was issued to J.C. Tayag Builders, Inc., back in August, NHA Visayas Management Office officer-in-charge Grace Guevarra said on Tuesday during the joint inquiry of the House of Representatives’ housing and good government committees on Tuesday.

NHA Assistant General Manager Froilan Kampitan added that the affected projects in Eastern Samar could still be completed even though the houses were built using 8-mm steel rods instead of the 16-mm specification.

“We just need to rebid it to a new contractor,” he said.

No payment, no acceptance

Kampitan also stressed that “no payment has been made, no acceptance of the project has been done,” amid the issues hounding J.C. Tayag’s resettlement projects.

But, J.C. Tayag owner Juanito Tayag maintained during the hearing that he did not know that undersized bars were used in the construction.

Tayag already testified under oath in a Sept. 18 hearing that substandard materials were not used in the housing projects. But a subsequent inspection uncovered the use of undersized rods, prompting housing committee chair Rep. Albee Benitez to say on Sept. 26 that he planned to file perjury charges against Tayag.

The contractor, however, stuck to his claim during the Tuesday hearing and said that “based on our records, we did not use 8-mm [steel rods].”

He even raised the possibility of an inside job.

“In truth, even we are investigating it because we do not know why there were 8-mm. We really did not buy and use 8-mm,” he said.

Errors already spotted in December 2017

The lawmakers also grilled NHA Region 8 Director Rizaldy Mediavillo for not earlier disclosing to the House that the issue with the materials was already flagged in a “site memorandum” as early as December 2016.

Mediavillo told legislators that the site memorandum required the contractor to rectify the errors. Otherwise, they would not be paid.

But, Benitez questioned why the attention of the House was not called sooner and said no one would have noticed if the committee had not conducted a hearing and if J.C. Tayag subcontractor Camilo Salazar had not come forward as a whistleblower.

“I find it unusual that suddenly, there’s a site memo that you released in December 2016,” Benitez said. “You yourself don’t even know. Doesn’t it show the NHA’s shortcomings in the management of the project?”

“That site memo was very material and important [to this issue],” he said. “They’re using substandard material. In all construction, I haven’t seen anyone use 8-mm.”

Mediavillo explained, however, that such site memoranda were circulated among the on-site engineers and not the level of the regional office.

Kampitan defended the NHA regional office and conceded: “Maybe the issue really is the time response.”

Still, Benitez said: “There seems to be failure on the NHA’s monitoring system.”

Unqualified contractor

Meanwhile, good government committee chair Rep. Johnny Pimentel questioned why J.C. Tayag was engaged as a contractor for the P800-million project, when its previous project in San Jose del Monte in Bulacan was only worth P96 million.

He also questioned why the contract had not been rescinded when it had incurred slippages – that is, failure to meet the deadline – in the range of minus-70 percent.

“You do not enter into a contract with unqualified contractors”, he said. “No wonder the Yolanda emergency housing program is very much delayed.” /atm

Source: Inquirer.net

Solons grill NHA execs over Yolanda housing issue

Cong. Albee News Feed - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 16:27



Published October 10, 2017 1:21pm
By ERWIN COLCOL, GMA News

Lawmakers on Tuesday grilled officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA) over the supposed delays in the resolution of the alleged substandard construction of housing units for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

During a joint House inquiry into the snail-paced implementation of housing relocation and resettlement projects for Typhoon Yolanda victims, Juanito Tayag, owner of contractor J.C. Tayag Builders Inc., reiterated that they did not purchase or use substandard materials for the housing units.

This, even as the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development earlier sent an inspection team to the construction site to check the housing units.

Instead of the standard 10 millimeter steel rods, the team found that J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. used 8 millimeter ones for the construction of the housing units.

"I was speaking because based on our records we did not use 8 millimeter," Tayag stressed during the hearing.

"Sa totoo po, pati kami nagpapaimbestiga dahil 'di namin alam bakit may 8 millimeter... Talagang wala po kaming binili at ginamit na 8 millimeter," he added.

A whistleblower named Camilo Salazar earlier revealed that J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. had used 8 millimeter instead of 10 millimeter steel rods for the project.

Tayag has since denied Salazar's allegations.

House panel chairman Alfredo Benitez then turned the questioning to NHA Region VIII director Engineer Rizaldy Mediavillo to ask how J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. got away with using substandard materials for the housing project.

Mediavillo, however, said they issued a site memo to J.C. Tayag Builders in December 2016 upon learning that the contractor used substandard materials.

The site memo obligates the contractor to rectify the issues the NHA found in the construction of the project.

"Hindi nakalusot dahil binigyan namin siya ng site memo noong ma-inspect," Mediavillo said.

"'Yung mga hindi in compliance with contract, subject to site memo to rectify. Kung 'di ico-comply, hindi mababayaran," he added.

But Abang Lingkod party-list Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano found it alarming that the NHA only informed the House panel of the existence of the site memo when the issue of the substandard materials was already being discussed in the previous hearings.

Benitez asked Mediavillo to provide the committee with a copy of the site memo.

"Can you submit yung site memo? I find it very unusual na bigla na lang nagkakaroon ng site memo na pinadala niyo ng December 2016," he said.

"Napaka-material ng site memo na 'yun. Sa lahat ng construction, walang gumagamit ng 8 millimeter," he added.

Engineer Grace Guevarra, officer-in-charge of the Visayas Management of the National Housing Authority, said they have already issued a notice to terminate the project last August.

NHA Assistant General Manager Froilan Kampitan, meanwhile, assured that the J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. will not be paid for their non-compliance in the contract for the project.

"No payment has been made, no acceptance of the project has been done. As far as the payments, none has been done yet as of the moment and the action of the [NHA] general manager right now is to pursue termination of that project," he said.

Benitez has warned that they may file perjury charges against Tayag for allegedly making false statements in their previous hearings.

This was after he declared under oath that J.C. Tayag Builders Inc. did not use substandard materials for the construction project when the inspection team found otherwise. — RSJ, GMA News

Source: GMA News Online

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