[Catarman is a first class municipality and the capital of Northern Samar, Philippines. It is the largest town in terms of land area and population in the province. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 84,833,making it the most populous municipality in Eastern Visayas. It is the commercial, educational, financial, political and government center of the province. It lies on the northern part of Samar Island, bounded to the east by Mondragon, to the west by Bobon, to the south by Lope de Vega, and to the north by the Philippine Sea.

CATARMAN, NORTHERN SAMAR , MAY 5, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Michael Lim Ubac - President Benigno Aquino III discovered on Friday that it’s no fun to land on this town’s short and accident-prone runway, especially on board a Philippine Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo plane.

Mr. Aquino had a rough landing on Friday morning in this sleepy town, site of the first leg of his three-town swing through Northern Samar and Southern Leyte provinces intended to ensure a 12-0 win for his handpicked senatorial candidates.

Only a day after returning from Brunei, the President was already back on the campaign trail, but his eagerness to resume campaigning for Team PNoy was met with one minor air turbulence: the Marcos-era Fokker F28 presidential plane conked out during a scheduled trip from Dumaguete City to Cebu for a campaign rally last week.

So he had to fly in a C-130, which is built for maneuvering on Catarman’s perilous 1.6-kilometer runway.

He last boarded this Air Force workhorse when he brought back the remains of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo from Masbate City to Naga City in August 2012.

‘Rocks are coming out’

“When I disembarked (from the plane), many wondered why I kept on staring at the pavement. I told them, ‘look, the pavement is almost gone and the rocks are coming out. A tarmac should be on level ground,’” said Mr. Aquino, recounting his initial impression of the airport during a rally at the Freedom Park here.

He recalled that the airport was actually “intersecting a highway,” meaning it is also used for other purposes (people and vehicles cross the runway since houses serve as the airport’s de facto perimeter fence).

Some airlines had already ceased plying the Manila-Catarman route as the number of passengers using the airport had dwindled through the years because of safety concerns.

State of disrepair

“Of course, a runway should be flat. There may come a time when tourists would start flocking to this place and they would find it incredulous that the runway is littered with humps. That’s the end of our tourism program,” said Mr. Aquino.

The President learned from local officials that the runway has been in a state of disrepair for the last 40 years.

The President was also greeted with the unseemly sight of a dilapidated terminal in dire need of a fresh coat of paint and major renovations.

Security was also evidently lax.

Right then, the President decided to provide allocation for the rehabilitation of the terminal and the upgrading of the runway.

The transportation department has already bid out the P7.6-million Catarman Airport Development project, which consists of an asphalt overlay of 128 meters of the runway and the construction of 264-meter perimeter fence.

Time to buy new plane

Brig. Gen. Ramon Mateo Dizon, Presidential Security Group chief, agreed that although the C-130 was a safer alternative for landing and takeoff in shorter runways, he deemed it wise for the leader of Asia’s so-called “rising star” to rely on the services of a new plane.

“What we’re saying is it’s time to buy a new plane. As to what kind of plane, it’s up to the experts (at the Air Force),” said Dizon.

“I don’t want to preempt the Air Force. Their procurement process is not finished yet,” Dizon added.

At the Freedom Park, Mr. Aquino announced before a sea of yellow-clad Liberal Party supporters that the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), which he chairs, had already approved the Samar Pacific Coastal Road project that will connect Northern Samar and Eastern Samar.

‘Abortion road’

The Neda also assured funding for the 220-kilometer Samar road rehabilitation project that is presently under construction, including the so-called “abortion road” in Eastern Samar, an unpaved highway filled with large potholes.

Pro-Aquino groups to hold ‘Rock the Vote’ concerts for Team PNoy bets By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr. Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:09 pm | Thursday, May 2nd, 2013


MANILA, Philippines — Civil society groups allied with President Benigno Aquino are rolling out the “big guns” from the entertainment industry in its final push for Team PNoy candidates a few days before Election Day.

The Yellow Ribbon Movement (YRM) and People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR) have tapped President Aquino’s sister and top TV personality Kris Aquino, movie star Sharon Cuneta, wife of Senator Francis Pangilinan, and Dingdong Dantes for its four-day, four-province “Rock the Vote.”

In a statement, the YRM and PPRV said: “We will once more rock the vote to renew our support for President Noynoy Aquino’s ‘Daang Matuwid,’ for the reforms that are now paving the way for the Philippines to take off, and for the Team PNoy slate, especially Benigno Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros. We are coming together to continue pushing for reforms of the Aquino administration and end poverty.”

The Rock the Vote concerts will be held in Dagupan, Pangasinan (May 6), Davao City (May 7), Batangas City (May 8), and Cebu City (May 9).

The organizers will also launch a “Tie a Yellow Ribbon campaign” during the final week before May 13.

Other artists who have signed up to the concert series are Cooky Chua, Ebe Dancel, Gloc9, Parokya ni Edgar, Christian Bautista, Ogie Alcasid, Noel Cabangon and Jim Paredes.

Aside from the Rock the Vote series, Kris Aquino has also agreed to join Team PNoy bet Senator Francis Escudero in his southern Philippine sorties this week.


Kris, other celebrities join Team PNoy bets on road Sunday, May 05, 2013

FOR the final stretch of the campaign period, celebrities will join some Team PNoy candidates in their last hurrah next week.

Aurora Rep. Edgardo Angara will have a motorcade in Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon today with presidential sister and popular television host Kris Aquino.

Yesterday, matinee idol Coco Martin has joined the caravan of Angara in Iloilo, Cebu and Bacolod.

Starting Tuesday next week, Kris Aquino will be joining the campaign rally of Team PNoy senatorial bet Bam Aquino.

Dubbed Rock the Yellow Vote, Bam Aquino’s camp will also have free concerts in some key cities like Davao and Cebu.

In his motorcade in Davao, Cebu, Iloilo and Batangas, he will be joined by cousin Kris, Mega star Sharon Cuneta and Dingdong Dantes.

Kris Aquino also joined the campaign sortie of Sen. Francis Escudero and Grace Poe in Davao, General Santos City, Cebu and Tacloban.

For senatorial candidate Ramon Magsaysay, Dingdong Dantes and actor Richard Yap, popularly known as Ser Chief, will be campaigning also for him.

On the other hand, Sen. Panfilo Lacson will be endorsing another Team PNoy bet, Jamby Madrigal in a political ad to be shown anytime next week. Jester P. Manalastas



Manila, Philippines --- Presidential sister and top celebrity endorser Kris Aquino will board the Team PNoy campaign entertainment personalities who will barnstorm key areas in the country in a “Rock the Vote” project.

The announcement came days after Kris was seen campaigning for United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) Makati vice mayoral candidate Marjorie de Veyra, running mate of re-electionist Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Jun-jun” S. Binay Jr.

But sadly for other Team PNoy senatorial bets, Kris has reportedly handpicked only three of President Aquino’s senatorial candidates to endorse. They are Senator Francis Escudero, Grace Poe, and Bam Aquino.

Reports from Team PNoy sources disclosed that Kris will be joined by GMA 7 contract actor Dingdong Dantes and megastar Sharon Cuneta, wife of Liberal Party stalwart Sen. Francis Pangilinan.

“We are happy to have Ate Kris with us. I don’t want to ruin the surprise but she will be with us next week,” revealed Timi Aquino, wife of Bam, during yesterday’s sortie in Victoria, Tarlac.

Senator Escudero and fellow independent candidate Grace Poe visited General Santos City. Popular TV host and actress Kris Aquino accompanied and endorsed her favorite senate bets in Visayas and Mindanao. General Santos City Mayor Darlene Custodio welcomed Escudero, Poe and Aquino. #salamatgensan — in General Santos City, General Santos.

Mrs. Aquino said the “Rock the Yellow Vote” campaign team will hold sorties in Dagupan City, Iloilo, Cebu, and Davao.

Kris was also expected to visit Tacloban City, Leyte, this weekend where she will join Escudero and mayoral bet Florencio “Bem” Noel.

It is not immediately known whether Aquino’s popular sister will also support the candidacy of other Team PNoy bets although she formally endorsed yesterday the entire slate of Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano after she joined their motorcade Wednesday afternoon.

Aquino, undeniably one of the most influential celebrities in the country today, joined Cayetano and other candidates in a motorcade in several parts of the city, to show her support for the incumbent local chief executive and her entire team, “Team Lani Cayetano” or TLC.

Kris joined Cayetano and her running mate Ading Cruz, together with congressional candidates Gigi Valenzuela-De Mesa (1st District) and “Direk” Lino Cayetano (2nd District) in the Labor Day Motorcade that covered the 1st and 2nd Districts of Taguig.

Mayor Cayetano said the endorsement of Kris will really boost the campaign of the entire slate of the TLC.

Kris praised Cayetano for being a good person when she supported her during the most difficult times of her life.

In a brief speech, Kris said that if ever she will run for public service, she will make Mayor Cayetano as her role model.

Kris, Direk Lino Deny Romance

In the campaign rally, Kris and Direk Lino both denied they are romantically linked to each other, saying they are friends and textmates.

Kris also denied reports that she and Direk Lino are dating.

“No, we’re friends. We’re just very good friends,” Kris said.

Cayetano, in a separate interview, also denied that they are romantically linked.

“No, we’re just good friends,” he said.

VP Welcomes Kris Support

Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay is not surprised Kris’ support.

The Vice President, who is close to the sister of President Benigno S. Aquino III, appeared to be happy with Kris’ support to De Veyra, the running mate of his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Jun-jun” S. Binay Jr.

De Veyra is up against Makati City incumbent vice mayor Romulo “Kid” Pena, who is running under the Liberal Party (LP) of President Aquino.

“Siyempre, sabi ni Kris we live in a democracy (Of course. Kris said that we live in a democracy),” Binay said, chuckling.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved