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CAPITOL SUNKEN GARDEN, MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, July 2 (PIA) -- Two guest speakers invited for the 54th founding anniversary of this province July 1 spoke about the potential vital role of the province in the rehabilitation phase of the places worst hit by the world's strongest typhoon eight months ago.

"I hope and trust that Southern Leyte would lead Region 8, for betterment of Eastern Visayas, after Yolanda," said Pedro Noval, Jr., Regional Director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), in his message here during the anniversary program.

Another guest of honor and speaker, Senator Cynthia Villar, admired the unity, strength, and courage of the people of the province, and the fast action done for the search, rescue, and other assistance extended to the distressed communities.

"Ang Southern Leyte ay tumulong sa mga lugar na nasalanta ng Yolanda," the Senator said in an apparent tribute to the efforts mobilized by the province led by Gov. Roger Mercado at the height of the disaster.

That the neighboring province will be able to recover sooner will also be good for Southern Leyte, as the economy of the island has been inter-related, Sen. Villar also said.

Both speakers noted that the province was blessed as it was spared by the wrath and fury of the storm.

DILG Director Noval went on to report that the province had passed the Seal of Good Housekeeping last year, even as he prodded its officials to "work harder to get the seal of good governance, which is an upgrade on the seal of good housekeeping," and enjoy the monetary reward that goes along with the citation.

For her part, Sen. Villar also reported how she and her husband helped the Yolanda victims by giving roofing materials so they can build immediate shelters.

In an "ambush interview" after the anniversary dinner, Villar said she is working closely with Gov. Mercado for Tesda scholarship for 150 qualified students.

Cong. Damian Mercado earlier introduced Villar as the day's second guest speaker.