San Jose Del Monte now a ‘highly urbanized city’

THE city of San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan has been proclaimed as a highly urbanized city, its congressional representative said over the weekend. Rep. Florida  P. Robes said the upgrade will “give full play to the development of more micro, small and medium enterprises in the city and at the same time attract more investments in commerce and industry to create more jobs.” The city’s new level, made through Proclamation No. 1057, will be subject to ratification through a yet to be scheduled plebiscite. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Over 300 illegal aliens arrested in Tarlac

MORE than 300 aliens working in the country without appropriate visas were arrested last week, Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said on Sunday. Mr. Morente said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) received information about a worksite in Bamban, Tarlac allegedly employing at least 200 undocumented aliens. “Upon investigation and verification with our agents, we immediately issued a mission order to effect their arrest,” Mr. Morente said. The operation rounded up 323 Chinese, eight Malaysians, and one Indonesian who were reportedly involved in online gamlbing, internet fraud, and cybercrime operations. All 332 are now under NBI custody pending the filing of appropriate charges and deportation. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

All Antique towns lift ban on homecomers as regular PAL flights resume, Starlite ferry service eyed

ANTIQUE province, which has one of the lowest coronavirus cases in the country at 79 with just two active and 76 recoveries as of Dec. 5, is celebrating its annual Binirayan Festival this month and all towns have lifted the moratorium on returning residents. Gov. Rhodora J. Cadiao, during Friday’s opening ceremony of the month-long celebration, said Christmas “remains to be a time for family and love despite the challenges faced by the province” as she thanked the municipal governments for agreeing to open their borders for homecomers. One of the festival highlights is a bazaar and various markets at the capitol grounds in San Jose de Buenavista town featuring local entrepreneurs. “All I ask is for us to follow the health protocols as we will still be together to celebrate the entirety of this festival,” Ms. Cadiao said.

Also on Friday, the governor met with officials of Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. and its subsidiary Starlite Ferries, Inc. for the possible opening of trips to the Lipata Port in Culasi town. Starlite General Manager Shane Arante said most of their customers on existing routes from Batangas to the Western Visayas Region are from Antique, who then take additional transport to their hometowns. “Majority of passengers of Starlite are from Antique, so it’s really part of our agenda to serve Antique. After this meeting with Governor Cadiao, we are proceeding to the port in Culasi to evaluate the technical aspects of the port if the vessel we intend to deploy is safe to birth the Culasi port,” Ms. Arante is quoted in a statement from the provincial government. Chelsea Logistics President and Chief Executive Officer Chryss V. Damuy, for his part, said the planned route will also be able to serve cargo demand. “There are other businesses that also intend to expand in Antique which also need support of logistics,” Mr. Damuy said. The routes being considered are Batangas-Caticlan-Culasi or Batangas-Iloilo-Bacolod. For air services, Philippine Airlines resumed on Dec. 2 twice-a-week commercial flights between Manila and Antique. — MSJ