6.17.2010

PIA News Service - Friday, June 18, 2010

Agusan del Norte Gov. reports measures to achieve poverty reduction

By: Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY (18 June) – In support to the legacy programs of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo specifically on poverty reduction, Agusan del Norte Governor Erlpe John M. Amante on Thursday (June 17) reported his administration’s measures to reduce poverty among the constituents of the province.

Speaking before a crowd estimate of 2,500 during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) conducted here, Gov. Amante emphasized the importance of efficient basic services delivery as a key towards achieving poverty reduction. “Greater emphasis was given in the delivery of Social Services because it is in this area where many of our constituents are vulnerable,” he said.

Gov. Amante pointed out the efforts made by his administration in molding the youths to become better and productive members of the community. “Our efforts of molding the youth become better and productive members of the community have been making success as demonstrated by the 2.74% increase in enrollment during the year in review,” Amante said.

Though the dropout rate in the same year, notably in the private schools, dropped to 20%, Amante said what is significant is that, his administration’s cohort rate or those who are able to reach Grade 6 or 4th year has improved to 2.42%.

Amante further stressed that the province’s concern is to see to it that all children are kept in school for the whole duration of their schooling age. “Initiatives and strategies were made to increase enrolment and participation like the Sagip Mag-aaral Indigent Pupils and the Adopt-A-Child Program,” the governor said.

The 6th SOPA of Gov. Amante is in time with the celebration of the 43rd Araw ng Agusan del Norte which is anchored on the theme: ““Ang Kakugi sa Pagpanerbisyo, Iwag sa Pag-asenso.” (PIA-Caraga)


Youth education, a priority concern of Agusan del Norte LGU

By: Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY (18 June) – Believing that education is the key to reduce poverty, Agusan del Norte Governor Erlpe John Amante strengthens youth education program as one of the priority concerns of his administration.

During the State of the Province Address of the governor held here on Thursday (June 17), he reported that his administration was able to attain a mean percentage score (MPS) of 80.98% in 2009, which has a significant increase of 2.81% from the 78.17% in 2008. “2009 was a banner year in our effort to educate our children. Our mean percentage score was only 78.17% in 2008. In 2009, we were able to attain an MPS of 80.98%,” the governor said.

Likewise, Gov. Amante proudly reported that the province has sustained its number one position in Caraga Region by getting highest percentage scores in Reading, Grammar, and Science and Health in the National Achievement Test.

“The future of our children is shining even better even brighter. Complementing our efforts in the formal education were our activities in providing technical vocational education and training or the TVET. TESDA reported that in 2009, the number of trainings jumped 435% or from 9,655 in 2008 to 42,074 in 2009. Added to this, 4,170 students were given scholarships, the cost of which totaled P36.9 million,” he added.

Ensuring that academic improvements were matched with corresponding facilities, the governor said their partnership with other stakeholders like the non-government sectors, resulted to the building of 11 additional classrooms. Moreover, the province was able to open new Integrated Secondary Schools: three in the municipality of Buenavista and one in the municipality of Nasipit.

To achieve an educated and healthy citizenry, Amante revealed that his administration were able to provide over 2,360 various social welfare services at a cost of Php 1.6 million.

He added that through the three-year Early Childhood Care and Development Project costing Php 23.7, the province were able to rehabilitate and upgrade 18 barangay health centers, distribute medicine and essential drugs, and provide hot meals for 467 pre-school children from 15.5% to 13.31%. “This gained the province a Garantisadong Pambata Champ Award given by the DOH with Php 300,000 as incentive,” Gov. Amante said.

Moreover, Gov. Amante reported that the province’s mortality rate went down from 2.97/1,000 live births in 2008 to 2.86 in 2009. “Last year, 93% of our children were fully given immunization. Corollary to these interventions, our infant mortality rate went down from 2.97/1,000 live births in 2008 to 2.86 in 2009,” he said. (PIA-Caraga)

GSIS inks partnership with Aboitiz Transport

The Government Service Insurance System adds more value to its eCard with its newest partnership. The state-run pension fund has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Aboitiz Transport System Corporation (ATS), giving its members and pensioners a 20 percent discount on top of the prevailing promo fares of Superferry, Supercat, and Cebu Ferries.

To avail of the discount, GSIS members and pensioners would have to simply present their eCard at any ATS corporate office or branch nationwide. The qualified member or pensioner is allowed to purchase a maximum of five (5) tickets for every transaction.

The GSIS empowers its eCard through partnership with various institutions. Using the GSIS eCard, a member or pensioner can already avail of hospitalization discounts in GSIS partner hospitals, a partial scholarship grant at any STI campus nationwide, and up to 55 percent off on selected Pfizer-manufactured drugs.

The GSIS eCard is a multi-purpose card that functions as an ATM card, a transaction card, and a debit card, among others. Recently, the GSIS eCard has also transformed into a Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID)-compliant eCard.

A unique feature of the UMID-compliant eCard is the Common Reference Number (CRN), which shall be linked to the ID numbers of the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG).

With the CRN, the UMID-compliant eCard will serve as a valid identification card not only for GSIS but also for SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG.

“Our partnership with ATSC reflects our commitment to bringing more benefits to our members and pensioners through our eCard. Now our members and pensioners can travel to various destinations or visit their families more often at less cost,” GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia said.

“We hope to have more tie-ups of this kind in the future to better serve our stakeholders,” Mr. Garcia added.

ATS is the only integrated transport solutions provider in the Philippines today. Its principal business units are engaged in the movement of people operating under the brand name "SuperFerry", "SuperCat", and "Cebu Ferries" and the movement of cargos operating under the brand name "2GO".

The company’s array of services geared towards cargo movements includes containerization, RoRo services, logistics and supply chain solutions. The company also provides ship management and manpower solutions worldwide under the Aboitiz-Jebsen group of companies.

It is majority-owned by Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV), one of the largest and most diversified publicly listed corporations in the country with business interests spanning in various industries such as power, banking, food production, property development, construction, shipbuilding, and leisure/resort.

ATS currently has a total of 18 fleets, which includes seven fastcrafts operating under Supercat, five Superferries, 4 passenger vessels under Cebu Ferries, and two freighters. (GSIS/PIA-Caraga)


GSIS allays concerns on survivorship benefit policy

To address any misconception from some members on the survivorship benefit policy of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the pension fund has clarified that said policy is not a new ruling but rather a compliance with the provisions of an already existing law.

According to GSIS Chief Legal Counsel Atty. Estrella Elamparo, the removal of the survivorship benefit to spouses or secondary beneficiaries who are employed in the government or private sector, self-employed, or receiving other pension from the GSIS, Social Security System, or another local of foreign institution or organization is in accordance with the provision on survivorship benefits as provided for in Republic Act 8291, otherwise known as the GSIS Act of 1997.

“In order to receive the survivorship benefits, the legitimate surviving spouse must be dependent upon the member or pensioner for support or the secondary beneficiary should not be gainfully employed or engaged in any gainful activity immediately before the death of the member,” she said.

Based on section 2, paragraph (g) of R.A. 8291, primary beneficiary is defined as “the legal dependent spouse until he/she remarries and the dependent children.”

On the other hand, paragraph (f) of the same section defines dependents as “the legitimate spouse dependent for support upon the member or pensioner; the legitimate, legitimated, legally adopted child, including the illegitimate child, who is unmarried, not gainfully employed, not over the age of majority, or is over the age of majority but incapacitated and incapable of self-support due to a mental or physical defect acquired prior to age of majority; and the parents dependent upon the member for support.

“Being ‘dependent’ and ‘not gainfully employed’ are explicit conditions provided by R.A. 8291 for the entitlement of beneficiaries to GSIS survivorship benefits,” said Atty. Elamparo.
Gainful occupation refers to any productive activity that provided the member with income at least equal to the minimum compensation of government employees.

The GSIS has also cited a Supreme Court decision, which reiterated this requirement of the law. In the said case, the Court denied a contested application for survivorship pension, saying that “in order to be entitled to the Survivorship Benefits under RA 8291, the beneficiary must be dependent upon the GSIS member or pensioner for support.”

“The GSIS was created to provide benefits to its members and pensioners. It will not hesitate to provide benefits to qualified dependents of contributors of the funds, as long as they are really entitled to it by law,” she added. (GSIS/PIA-Caraga)


Important Luna painting continues to draw crowd in GSIS museum

Eight years after it was acquired by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the famous Juan Luna painting, the “Parisian Life,” still enjoys a rock star status in the GSIS museum, drawing a crowd of about 200,000 visitors yearly.

GSIS Museo ng Sining Manager Ryan Palad said while the GSIS Museum has been in existence for a decade and a half, it was only after when the Parisian Life was added in its collection in 2002 that the museum attained a new-found fame.

“Perhaps it was the controversy. Or perhaps it is by word of mouth that people came to realize how significant this Luna masterpiece is, not only as a part of Philippine art, but of the country’s history in general,” Mr. Palad said.

Curiously, most of the Parisian Life visitors are not art critics or collectors, but students from different levels, both from public and private schools.

Mr. Palad said it is understandable how students are easily drawn to the painting; it is, after all, an artwork not only done by a national hero but also one that shows important people in Philippine history.

The painting features three personages that influence the course of Philippine history; Jose Rizal who became our national hero; Luna himself, who also painted the internationally acclaimed Spoliarium; and Ariston Bautista Lin, who supported the propaganda and Katipunan Movement.

“It is comparable to Renoir’s 1880 ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ where the artist painted his friends in their light moments,” Mr. Palad said.

The Parisian Life Painting won a silver medal in the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. It was also Luna’s transition painting from realism to impressionism.
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Parisian Life hogged the headlines in 2002 when the GSIS acquired it for P46 million in an auction held in Christie’s Auction House in Hongkong. The money was sourced from the investible funds of the GSIS for insuring government properties—not from the benefit funds of its members, Palad said.

While various groups praised the GSIS for “rescuing” the Parisian Life and bringing it back to Philippine shore, militant groups and politicians criticized this acquisition. GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia was even slapped with a complaint before the Ombudsman for it.

In charging the GSIS officials of violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act, militant groups cited a resolution of the Commission on Audit disallowing the purchase.

However, in May 2008, the Ombudsman dismissed the complaint, saying no "undue injury" was inflicted on the government because the items purchased "are right there in the hands of the GSIS and duly accounted for."

The Ombudsman also disputed the claim of the COA in the Notice of Disallowance that the price paid for the paintings were exorbitant, adding there is “no competent basis” for this.

The complainants appealed the case. Last year, however, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Ombudsman. (GSIS/PIA-Caraga)


GSIS lumobo ang pautang sa unang 3 buwan ng 2010 dahil sa G-W@PS

Nagtala ng bagong rekord sa laki ng pinautang ang Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) sa unang tatlong buwan ng kasalukuyang taon dahil sa mabilis na pag-proseso ng mga pautang sa GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System (G-W@PS).

Base sa datos ng GSIS Information Technology and Services Group (ITSG), tumaas ng 112.74 porsyento ang naipautang mula Enero hanggang Marso ngayong taon na nagkakahalaga ng halos P8.88 bilyon mula sa P4.17 bilyon na ipinautang sa parehong panahon noong nakaraang taon.

Umabot sa 324,202 loan applications ang ipinroseso sa G-W@PS at inaprubahan ng GSIS sa unang tatlong buwan ng 2010.

Inaasahan ng GSIS na magtatala ito ng pinakamalaking halaga ng pautang ngayong taon base sa mga datos na ito.
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Dumanas ng pagbagal ng operasyon ang GSIS noong 2009 dahil sa problema nito sa database system sanhi ng depektibong management software ng IBM na kung tawagin ay IBN-DB2. Sa kabila ng pagbagal ng operasyon, patuloy na tumaas ang halaga ng pautang ng GSIS at humigit pa sa doble noong Oktubre hanggang Disyembre noong nakaraang taon.

Sinabi din ng GSIS na sa kabila ng pagbagal ng operasyon noong 2009, nakapagpautang pa din ito ng P49.84 bilyon noong nakaraang taon na pinroseso sa mga G-W@PS kiosk nito.

Idinagdag ng GSIS lumipat na ito sa bago at mas angkop na software system, ang Oracle, upang mapabilis ang operasyon nito, kabilang ang pag-proseso ng mga loan application.

Sa pamamagitan ng G-W@PS kiosk, nakakapag-aplay ng utang ang mga GSIS member at pensioner gamit ang online system kaya hindi na kailangan ng anumang dokumento.

Maaaring iproseso sa G-W@PS kiosk ang mga loan application tulad ng P10,000 cash advance loan, consolidated salary loan at policy loan. Maaari ding iproseso ang pension loan ng mga pensyonado sa G-W@PS kiosk.

Maliban sa pagproseso ng loan application ay maaari ding makita ng mga GSIS member at pensioner ang kanilang mga rekord sa GSIS sa G-W@PS kiosk. Maaari ding i-activate ang kanilang eCard sa G-W@PS kiosk.

Samantala, maaaring i-renew ng mga pensioner ang kanilang aktibong estado sa GSIS sa G-W@PS kiosk sa buwan ng kanilang kapanganakan. Ito ay para masigurong tuloy-tuloy ang pagtanggap ng buwanang pensyon.

Kamukha ng isang ATM machine ang G-W@PS kiosk na may touch screen monitor. Pinagsama-sama ang mga teknolohiya dito tulad ng radio frequency identification, biometrics, general packet radio service, short message service, at virtual private network.

Matatagpuan ang mga G-W@PS kiosk sa mga opisina ng GSIS at ilang piling ahensya ng pamahalaan sa buong Pilipinas. Kailangang may eCard ang GSIS member o pensioner para gumamit ng G-W@PS. (GSIS/PIA-Caraga)


GSIS gives educational assistance, boosts employment rate with STI tie-up

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), in partnership with leading ICT and ICT-enhanced education provider STI, is offering qualified relatives of its members and pensioners a 20 percent scholarship grant on tuition and laboratory fees this coming school year.

Now on its second year, the tie-up called GSIS-STI Grants, is open to all qualified relatives of GSIS members and pensioners, who are going to enroll as incoming freshmen in any STI campus nationwide.

The educational assistance is extended up to the 6th civil degree of affinity and/or consanguinity which means that not only the children of GSIS members and pensioners can avail of the partial scholarship grant but also the relatives.

To avail of the partial scholarship grant, GSIS members and qualified relatives need to present to STI the GSIS eCard, subject to verification.

In addition to making quality education more affordable, the tie-up also aims to boost the employment rate in the country. This, as STI is also committed to procure the assistance of Global Resource for Outsourced Workers, Inc. (GROW), which in turn will provide assistance in securing employment for qualified relatives of GSIS who have successfully graduated from their courses in their chosen STI schools.

GROW, a POEA-licensed placement company, is a member of the STI Education Services Group. It forms part of STI's Enrollment-to-Employment system (E2E).

STI is a leading provider of ICT and ICT-enhanced education. It has a network of more than 100 campuses nationwide with academic programs in ICT, Business and Management, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Engineering, and Healthcare.

GSIS members and qualified beneficiaries can continue to benefit from the 20 percent scholarship grant in the succeeding semesters until they have graduated from their chosen field, provided that they continue to meet the applicable minimum standards and qualifications stated on STI's scholarship guidelines and student handbook.

“We want nothing more but to provide quality education to our children and job opportunities when they graduate from college. Now, our members, pensioners, and their dependents, are assured of that dream, with the help of STI,” GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia said.

The tie-up, which piloted in may 2009, has already given partial scholarship grants to more than 100 students translating to more than P500,000 in educational assistance. (GSIS/PIA-Caraga)

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P10,000 loan ibibigay sa GSIS members na may UMID-compliant eCard

Bilang tugon sa mga panagawan na bigyan ng panibagong tulong-pinansyal ang mga kasapi nito, papautanging ng Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) ang mga miyembro nitong may Unified Multi-Purpose Identification System (UMID)-compliant eCard.

Makakautang ng P10,000 cash advance ang mga miyembro matapos nilang i-activate ang kanilang mga UMID-compliant eCard ngunit kailangang may limang taon na silang miyembro ng GSIS base sa kanilang Record of Creditable Service dito.

May interes na 12 porsyento base sa nababawasang balanse ang P10,000 cash advance at babayaran ito sa loob ng dalawang taon.

Hinihikayat ng GSIS ngayon ang mga miyembro at pensyonado na mag-enroll sa UMID-compliant eCard dahil malapit nang i-upgrade ang mga GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System (G-W@PS) kiosk para maging angkop ito sa UMID-compliant eCard.

Ang UMID o Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID) System, ay alinsunod sa Executive Order No. 420 na direktiba sa lahat ng mga ahensya ng pamahalaan na pag-isahin ang mga identification system sa pamamagitan ng unified multi-purpose ID.

Papalitan ng GSIS ang eCard Plus ng UMID-compliant eCard ng libre. Kailangang i-activate ang bagong eCard sa UMID-compliant G-W@PS kiosk na matatagpuan sa mga opisina ng GSIS sa buong Pilipinas.

Sinabi ng GSIS na hindi mapapakinabangan ng members at pensioners ang lahat ng mga benepisyo ng bagong eCard kapag ang hawak nila ay ang lumang eCard Plus. Ito ay dahil ang UMID-compliant eCard lamang ang tatanggapin para sa mga transaksyon sa G-W@PS kiosks na iaangkop sa bagong eCard.

Ang UMID-compliant eCard ay isang multipurpose card para sa pag-aplay ng loan at pagtingin sa mga record ng mga miyembro at pag-renew ng aktibong estado ng mga pensioner. Ito din ay ATM card at debit card. Maaari ding makakuha ng diskwento sa mga piling ospital, medisina, at eskwelahan gamit ang UMID-compliant eCard. Sinabi ng GSIS na hindi makakagawa ng anumang transaksyon ang mga member at pensioner kapag ginamit ang lumang eCard Plus sa mga kiosk na inupgrade.

Pagkatapos mag-enroll, makukuha ng mga miyembro ang kanilang UMID-compliant eCard sa kanilang mga liaison officer, samantalang ang mga pensioner ay matatanggap ito sa koreo. (GSIS/PIA-Caraga)
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Cebuano News: SOPA ni Gov. Amante, gidugok sa mga opisyales sa Rehiyon sa Caraga

Ni Michael A. Imbo

BUTUAN CITY – Gidugok ug mga nagkalain-laing opisyales sa rehiyon ug probinsya sa Agusan del Norte ang gihimong ika-6th State of the Province Address (SOPA) ni Gov. Erlpe John Amante, atol sa 7th Special Session ubos sa 14th Sangguniang Panlalawigan, didto sa Capitol Covered Court, ni’ng syudad.

Sa maong session nga gipamunuan ni Vice Gov. Enrico Corvera, gitugotan sa Board Members sa lalawigan ang pormal nga pamahayag sa SOPA ni Gov. Amante.

Sa maong panagtigum, gibutyag ni Gov. Amante ang mga natapos nga proyekto ug mga programang pang-ekonomiya ilalom sa iyang administrasyon.

Lakip sa agenda niini ang mga serbisyong nagtubag sa kalisdanan (poverty reduction), pagsaka sa ekonomiya sa probinsya, ang aksyon sa peace and order, nakolektang pundo nga nagamit sa infrastraktura, pagpanalipod sa kinaiyahan, mekanismo sa pagpatuman sa gipanday nga mga proyekto ug programa pinaagi sa Legislative Assistance Development Fund ug uban pa.

Gipasalamatan sa gobernador ang tanan nga misuporta sa iyang administrasyon lukop probinsya ug tanan nga mga liders nga nahimong kaabag sa kalamboan niini.

Gidugang ni Amante nga dako ang iyang kalipay nga nidaug kini sa milabayng eleksyon May 10, 2010 nga nakakuha sa landslide nga boto gikan sa probinsya nga mipakitag pagsalig sa iyang liderato.

"The people have once again spoken, overwhelmingly. With God's grace and guidance and your continued support, I am confident that we can doubly do what we have done even when times are hard and perilous. There are more reasons to step up the pace. With a renewed sense of verve and vigor, we will press on so that the hopes and aspirations of the people for a better future are realized," sulti ni Gov. Amante.

Gipaneguro sa liderato ni Amante nga subling mapakgang ang krisis sa kapobrehon sanglit prayoridad niini ang agenda sa poverty reduction tungod kay buot sa gobernador nga ang probinsya sa Agusan del Norte mahimong usa ka Life Enhancing Agri-forest Industry.

Gilauman nga ipadayon sa mga opisyales sa probinsya ang tulo katuig nga paglawig sa serbisyo-publiko nga mahatod sa katawhan ug lungsod sa Agusan del Norte. (PIA-Caraga)
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Surigao City celebrates 112th Independence Day
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Surigao City celebrated the 112th Independence Day under the theme: “KALAYAAN, TAGUMPAY NG BAYAN” in simple but fitting, well attended and organized ceremony on June 12, 2010 in front of City Hall.
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Visitors from the states of Texas and Carolina U.S.A. the Fruitful Harvest – International Mission group led by Pastor Charlie Sickles and wife Melba were special guests during the event and were honored by Mayor Pons by presenting Certificates of Appreciation for their unstinted support to the Local Government Unit of Surigao of Hospital beds, and numerous equipment and medicines.
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Mayor Pons likewise awarded the winners of the City Tourism - “First Photo Contest and Exhibit – Surigao’s Legendary Treasure” and officially recognized their sponsors. 1st Prize Winner – Winston Ngo, 2nd Prize – Albert Banac, 3rd Prize – Michael Angelo Correos and receiving the consolation prizes were Anthony Yu, Nina Jade Millano and Alan Perez.
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Mayor Pons thanked his wife, children and parents who stood by him in countless time of extreme trials, to the members of his administration and employees, to the men and women in the national line agencies, to the men in uniform, to the war veterans and to the religious sectors especially for the prayers that have lifted his spirits. For the valiant acts of courage, generosity and grace that he witnessed for the last 11 years, during his watch as the City Mayor. It has been his privilege to serve. There have been good days and tough days. But everyday is a gift from God who had been inspired by the greatness of our city and uplifted by the goodness of the people. (Karen T. Acero, LGU-Surigao City/PIA-Surigao del Norte)
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Cebu Pacific starts Manila-Surigao today
by Fryan E. Abkilan
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Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) launches its maiden flight direct from Manila to Surigao today, June 17, 2010.

This route from Manila is a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday service. The flight leaves Manila at 07:15am, and arrives in Surigao at 9:15am. The return flight departs Surigao at 9:35am and arrives in Manila at 11:40am. Because of the airport’s runway limitation, the said route will only utilize their ATR-72 aircraft instead of an A319.
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“We are very happy to begin direct flights from Manila to Surigao as it will greatly contribute to the tourism and economy in the area. With the accessibility brought about by CEB flights from both Manila and Cebu, we stay true to our commitment of aiding in the development of the destinations we fly to,” said CEB VP for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog.
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Cebu Pacific’s presence began last November 13, 2008 when they first launched the Cebu-Surigao route. CEB currently flies five times weekly from Cebu to Surigao, for the lowest year-round ‘Go Lite’ fare of P748.
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CEB flies to a total of 33 domestic (in
cluding Surigao and Siargao) and 16 international destinations. (PIA-Surigao del Norte)