, 2009 (STAR) President Arroyo will attend the burial of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) executive minister Eraño Manalo today, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said yesterday.

No other details were given on Mrs. Arroyo’s attendance at the burial due to tight security and the solemnity of the event. Officials said only the Palace in-house news crew will be allowed to cover the President.

Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez told the government-run Radyo ng Bayan that Mrs. Arroyo and her official family would continue to pray for Manalo and his family and has enjoined the nation to do likewise in her proclamation declaring a national day of mourning for the religious leader.

Despite the heavy rains, thousands of INC members continued to arrive at their central headquarters in Quezon City on the eve of the funeral.

Motorists passing the area did not escape traffic even on a Sunday, as the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) started to implement a temporary re-routing scheme which involved the blocking off of certain portions of Commonwealth Avenue to vehicular traffic.

Normal traffic is expected to return after the burial at the INC Central Temple complex at noon today.

The MMDA has closed a stretch of the westbound lane of Commonwealth Avenue (toward Quezon Memorial Circle), starting near the corner of Tandang Sora Avenue and up to Asian Institute of Tourism (ATI).

Authorities allowed vehicles to counterflow on the eastbound lane (toward Fairview) of Commonwealth Avenue to enable westbound vehicles to reach Philcoa/Elliptical Road.

The MMDA had also closed to traffic a stretch of Central Avenue from Visayas Avenue to Commonwealth Avenue and Tandang Sora Avenue.

Authorities suggested that motorists make use of two-way alternate routes are from Sauyo Road to Mindanao Ave., San Mateo Bridge to Marikina, Quirino Avenue, and C-5 Road.

The MMDA has also suspended the Unified Vehicle Volume Reduction Scheme (UVVRS) or number coding.

MMDA general manager Robert Nacianceno said the suspension of the number coding is automatic whenever the national government declares a holiday.

“It’s part of the law of the MMDA. Whenever it is a holiday the number-coding is suspended,” he said.

Millions expected at funeral

Traffic re-routing will be implemented today in areas to be affected by Manalo’s burial in anticipation of the millions of INC members that would join the funeral.

At least 200 MMDA traffic enforcers will be deployed to assist the 3,000 INC marshals and policemen during the funeral.

Security will be tight and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy policemen to maintain peace and order around the INC compound.

Superintendent Rommel Miranda, spokesman of the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO), said the Quezon City Police District will handle the necessary security arrangements during the burial in coordination with INC leaders.

Miranda said there will be 120 security personnel during the interment, 20 policemen from District Mobile Group, and 20 members from the Intelligence Unit.

He said the concentration of the territorial police will ensure the smooth flow of traffic.

“We are advising the public to avoid Commonwealth Avenue because we expect the influx of mourners numbering to about two million,” MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando said.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) has also mobilized staff and volunteers to provide assistance to the mourners.

The PNRC National headquarters and the Pasay, Quezon City and Las Piñas chapters were already on stand by at the INC Central Temple to give medical and first aid assistance if necessary, according to PNRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon.

He said teams from PNRC Cavite, Valenzuela, Manila and Rizal chapters have also been deployed as early as Sunday night.

Rainy Monday

Meanwhile, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) advised the public who plan to attend the burial to bring umbrellas and other raingear as the southwest monsoon will continue to bring rains over some parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila, today.

Pagasa said Central and Southern Luzon and Visayas will experience monsoon rains while the rest of the country will have mostly cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms.

“We expect rains to continue until today,” Pagasa deputy administrator Nathaniel Cruz said.

Pagasa continued to warn against big waves in the seaboards of Central and Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao due to the surge of the southwest monsoon.

“Moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest will prevail over Central and Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough,” it said.

“Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the southwest and northwest with slight to moderate seas except during thunderstorms,” it added.

Pagasa said fishing boats and other small sea vessels were advised not to venture out into the sea while larger sea vessels were alerted against big waves. – Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Helen Flores, Michael Punongbayan, Mayen Jaymalin, Jose Rodel Clapano

Government to provide P3.9-billion subsidy for high school students (The Philippine Star) Updated September 07, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The government will subsidize about 700,000 students in private high schools next year to the tune of P3.9 billion, Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas said yesterday.

Gullas, an educator, said the amount is included in the proposed P1.541-trillion national budget.

It is part of the P172.8-billion outlay for the Department of Education, he said.

He said the money would be for the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program.

“This (funding) implies that some 54 percent of all students enrolled in private schools next year stand to benefit from the program,” he added.

According to Gullas, GASTPE has two components — the voucher system and service contracting with private high schools.

In the voucher system, needy students get a P7,000 voucher that can be used to partly pay for tuition.

In service contracting, students receive a subsidy of P5,000.

Other than the willingness of the student’s parents to pay for the rest of the tuition, GASTPE does not have any requirement, Gullas said.

“In a way, through the program, the government is incidentally helping to prop up private high schools that continue to wobble from declining enrollment due to the rising cost of education,” he said.

He also said the DepEd budget includes:

• P2.1 billion for new teaching positions in public schools;

• P2.3 billion to construct new classrooms and rehabilitate existing ones;

• P500 million to reward schools that have successfully raised the quality of instruction and learning. – Jess Diaz

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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