FIRE INCIDENT. About 49 houses, mostly made of light materials,were totally gutted down in Barangay 13, Catbalogan City on Saturday(June 10)as arson investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire which reached to second alarm and with over P500,000 damage cost. The blaze started at about 5:36 pm and was declared as fire out at 7:05 pm.(LITO BAGUNAS)

Move could result in development, they say

TACLOBAN CITY – Church officials of Samar Island has revived on their earlier call to create a Samar Region, comprising the three Samar provinces.

This call was made during the recently-held 47th Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development(SIPPAD) held last June 9 with Interior Sec. Banjamin Abalos present.
The renewal to create Samar Region was made by Bishop Isabel Abarquez of the Diocese of Borongan and supported by Bishops Crispin Vasquez of the Diocese of Calbayog and Emmanuel Trance of the Diocese of Catarman.

The three Samar prelates first made the move back in 2016, inspired with the move of leaders of Negros Island which called for the same purpose.

“We to appeal to our President, Hon. Bongbong Marcos Jr. thru our DILG Secretary and to our legislator to make a law declaring One Island, One Region, and that Island is no other than the Island of Samar,” Bishop Abarquez said during the SIPPAD meeting held on June 9.

“We are the third largest island in the country so we deserve the undying service from our national government,” the prelate added.

The creation of Samar Region, he said will ensure that the three provinces will achieve progress, government agencies and regional offices should be clustered in each province and road network should be interconnected to ease transportation and jumpstart progress and development in the island.

At present, the Samar region comprises the provinces of western Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar. The three provinces are among the poorest provinces in the country.
Former President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 193 calling for the creation of Negros Island Region(NIR).

However, this was abolished during the time of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
But on March 6, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 7355 creating the Negros Island Region.

Under the proposed measure, the NIR shall be composed of the cities, municipalities and barangays in Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and the island province of Siquijor.
At present, Negros Occidental province and its capital Bacolod City are under Region 6 (Western Visayas) while Negros Oriental and Siquijor belong to Region 7 (Central Visayas).
For his part, Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone expressed his support for the creation of Samar Island Region.

“That is a good initiative, if only the need to stress to prioritize Samar Island in terms of economic development,” he said.

“So welcome that proposal, and again I just want to reiterate our firm and unequitable support to all the initiative of SIPPAD,” the governor added.

Samar Island is the third largest island in the country with an outstanding area of 333, 300 hectares and with vast undisturbed forest and home of many wild plants and animals, blessed with natural attractions and also home of the largest continuous growth forest of the whole Philippines.

Despite this characteristics, the three provinces in the island remains to be among the poorest provinces in the country, caused by continuing problem on insurgency, problem on accessibility, and its location that is prone to natural calamities like typhoon.