Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region

insight 49


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Manganese, Copper… and other questions

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Electric Vehicles will end Climate Change

How could the 'Maguindanao massacre' been allowed to happen?

OB listing by the military in Northern Samar exposed

Message of MGen. Arthur I. Tabaquero during the signing of Manifesto Against Violence

MGen. Arthur Tabaquero’s response to the open letter of Atty. Kathrina Castillo

Press Statement of the City Government of Catbalogan on cityhood issue

Where will a Tacloban HUC get its water supply?




What do YOUTHink?
An Opinion Pulse from our Samareño and Leyteño Youth

John Hecthor SayCompiled by JOHN HECTHOR SAY, Samar
UP-Tacloban Intern
May 8, 2010


Now that the 2010 elections are drawing to a close, the full preparedness of COMELEC to handle an automated polling scheme remains uncertain. What would you suggest to fix this particular glitch of voting?


“Gawin na lang mano-mano ang elections. Okay lang naman yun, inconvenient hiya pero mas guti it chance na madaya.”

Christine Dawn Santos, 19

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, Carigara, Leyte


“I think we should count with the automated elections but we have to verify the results with manual counting. The country has already been preparing for the computerized elections that it would not only be a waste of time and money, imagine how COMELEC would go back to zero in terms of preparedness if we abort the automated elections. At least, with manual counting to check the results, it would not be that hard anymore.”

Paolo Amascual, 19

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, Tacloban City


“Bangin bumalik kita hit mano2 kay apot na hit oras baga la hin nagsayang hin budget kasi ginrurush nga maging automated, di man fully prepared.”

Marilyn Rueda, 19

Student, University of the East

Resident, Catbalogan City


“Postponement is imprudent because it will cause more problems rather than solve them. I believe that the solution lies in the electorate. Now, more than ever, vigilance is needed by the Filipino people especially that of the youth. Ultimately, voting those candidates who will lead the country forward and those who are truly representative of the country’s interest and not their own is a must.”

Aiah Angela Fernandez, 20

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, Baybay, Leyte


“The youth should be more vigilant. The COMELEC should ensure that there would be an election on Monday.  They should continue whatever happens; they’ve already assured the people that they have contingency plans.”

Anjo Michael Maico, 20

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, Palo, Leyte


“Vote wisely. If matuloy an automation, follow instructions na la para di mabaliwala an imu vote. Kay di ba pag sobra imu e-vote di hiya counted?”

Ayra Veronica Estrada, 18

Student, University of the Visayas

Resident, Catbalogan City


“If time permits, I suggest they fix the glitches. If not then, there would be no choice but to move the elections. We cannot afford a failure of elections. The COMELEC needs to tell the people the truth. Kun dire kaya it elections, wag na silang magmagaling.”

Jan Villacorte, 18

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, Tacloban City



The 4Ps project (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) of President Arroyo has just recently reached the shores of Samar and Leyte. How do you think this program be a critical solution to our present-day socio-economic crisis?


 “…it’s a good thing of course…at least the government allotted something for them. But I think this is not the real solution to our problems, in some part it helps but the people may be too dependent on the government.”

Janssen Juntilla, 19

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, Tacloban City


Para akon di ba it development can be part of the solution to the current global economic slowdown? Thus, the 4P's project of PGMA is a social development and a poverty reduction strategy. But on my side, this is a form of social injustice b'coz 1st it needs billion for its sustenance, many people will suffer that time and bsta dri maupay, i guess more investigation pa before mag-expand ito.”

Gillian Jane Chua, 18

Student, St. Paul School of Business and Law

Resident, Catbalogan City


“Dapat himuon la iton nga parang aid habang nagseset-up it government hin mas permanent nga means of income ngan dapat siguraduhon hit gov’t nga diri ito hiya magcause hin dependence han poor ngada hito nga "aid." Dapat hira ma-encourage to help themelves also. Ngan ha pagkita ko, usa nga maupay nga motivation is yun nga, mas effective nga means of income and salary para hiton mga poor, diri la kay mga pahapyaw nga mga programs.”

R-Jay Yodico, 19

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, Eastern Samar


“I think it will help families in Samar experience a more convenient life even just for a while. I just hope mag-last ito nga program para useful hiya for the families in the long run.”

Ma. Monica Magallanes, 19

Student, UP Cebu

Resident, Catbalogan City


“I think that ito nga program makakabulig gihap hya somehow para at least mayda sigurado nga panfinance it family every month. But diri mo hiya masisiring nga solusyon gud kay 5 years man la hiya. After hito, ano naman? So mabalik la gihap hira ha dati. Dapat it solusyon, permanent nga job para forever an assurance nga mayda hira panfeed ha family.”

Concesa Kris Tonido, 19

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, MacArthur, Leyte


“Damo gad it makagat hit na project pero ambot kun long term it effect niya.”

Ruby Mae Margallo, 19

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, Palo, Leyte


“Ok gad la sana it hiya kaya lang it hinanabo, bangin umasa nala it mga tawo ha project. Mas maupay ada siguro kun trabaho nala it ipanhatag hit gobyerno kay mas mag-iiha pa it benefits.”

Arianne Yodico, 18

Student, UP Tacloban

Resident, Eastern Samar



A few of the projects that the local government of Catbalogan would be proposing in the Philippine International Eco Show (PINES) of CITEM-DTI this coming August are the construction of a mini tidal power plant in Brgy. Silanga and the so-called tourism loop in the province of Samar. What outcomes are you seeing in these endeavors?


“Extra income din yan para sa mga Samareño.”

Mary-Ann Daganzo, 19

Student, SMCC

Resident, Catbalogan City


“The proposed project would surely bring positive effects on the local government of Samar if properly implemented, due to the fact that it would attract tourists & investors and the income of our locality will be increased.”

Ana Lou Cinco, 18

Student, Samar State University

Resident, Catbalogan City


“Kun waray hiya risk tapos all to gain, eh di sige na la. Pero impossible na waray hiya negative effects. Action-reaction ba.”

Adrian Gadin, 18

Student, USC Cebu

Resident, Catbalogan City


“In my opinion, it would be a hot spot in the country for surfing I guess. Young and sports-minded people would be drawn in to try out the waves. Competition could be held there. Resorts can be established in the surrounding area. Tourists, Filipinos and foreigners alike will be attracted. So, income would be greater.”

Kristine Adrienne Tan, 20

Student, Makati Med

Resident, Catbalogan City


“That would be a gateway for more job opportunities.”

Mark Eugene Irene, 19

Student, SMCC

Resident, Catbalogan City


“Cheaper electricity bill.”

Joefil Lejas, 19

Student, SMCC

Resident, Catbalogan City


“I think that this is cool. That plan could have a big help in the beautification of Samar; and it can also help the people residing there for they can have a work particularly in the construction of these projects.”

Lolliete Mae Versoza, 18

Student, Mapua Institute of Technology

Resident, Zumarraga, Samar


“Maangat it tourist arrivals ha aton syudad.”

Emeliana Balila, 19

Student, SMCC

Resident, Catbalogan City


“Outcomes I expect: a community of change, an industry of best quality, a well-organized system to maintain development, and perhaps a better Catbalogan.”

Bartolomew Dacaynos, 18

Student, USC Cebu

Resident, Catbalogan City


“The proposed project would surely bring positive effects on the local government of Samar if properly implemented, due to the fact that it would attract tourists & investors and the income of our locality will be increased.”

Ana Lou Cinco, 18

Student, Samar State University

Resident, Catbalogan City





May 3 is World Press Freedom Day

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
May 2, 2010

This year’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3 with the theme “Freedom of Information: the right to know,” is specially meaningful to us Filipinos as one week after the celebration, the country makes history as for the first time the electorate will select the leaders of the country through an automated election.

The electorate has the right know each and every candidate, their visions, their platform of government. Democratic participation, afterall, depends on people who are well-informed, this being a pre-condition for their effective monitoring and assessment of their leaders’ performance, as well as for their meaningful engagement in public debate and decision-making processes that impact their lives.

Freedom of information therefore represents an important instrument for the public to hold government and other actors accountable, and contributes to deter secretiveness, corrupt practices and wrong doing.

Freedom of Information is the principle that organizations and governments have a duty to share or provide ready access to information they hold, to anyone who wants it, based on the public’s right to be informed.

Recalling Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that the fundamental right of freedom of expression encompasses the freedom to “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,” the celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2010 will highlight the importance of freedom of information as an integral part of freedom of expression and its contribution to democratic governance.

The right to know is central for upholding other basic rights, for furthering transparency, justice and development. Hand-in-hand with the complementary notion of freedom of expression, it underpins democracy.

People may not consciously exercise their right to know. But each time people pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV or radio news, or go on the Internet, the quality of what they see or hear depends on these media having access to accurate and up to date information.

Obstacles in the way of people’s right to know take many forms, from a lack of resources and inadequate infrastructure to deliberate obstruction.

UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, in her World Press Freedom Day message, had taken the occasion to remind governments and organizations about their “duty to share or provide ready access to information, as the right to know is central for upholding basic rights, and for furthering transparency and justice”.

The UNESCO’s director general also calls on all countries around the globe to observe a minute of silence to “remember those whom it is too late to help, and to honor the journalists who paid with their lives for our right to know.”

Far too many journalists exercise their profession in an environment where restrictions on information are the norm, where dealing with pressure, harassment intimidation or even physical assault are all in a day’s work, Director General Irina Bokoya said, as she viewed with alarm the increasing impunity that accompanied the increase in the number of journalists killed last year. Of the worldwide tally of 77 in 2009, the Philippines registered the most number of killings, 37, of which 32 were victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

It is good to acknowledge the significant advances that have been made. The country’s Freedom of Information Act bill was already at its final stage last February when Congress adjourned for the elections. The advocates hope that when Congress resumes session on May 31, it would eventually be passed into law.

More and more countries around the world are adopting freedom of information legislation. This makes it easier to scrutinize government actions, and it reinforces public accountability.

Meanwhile faster and cheaper technology means that more people in the world have ready access to information from outside their immediate environment than ever before.

Now is the time to capitalize on these advances, by strengthening institutions, by providing the necessary training for information professionals, by fostering greater open-ness within the public sectors and greater awareness among the public.





Media bloodbath vs. Church

April 25, 2010

THERE seems to me a media bloodbath against the Church these days. The indiscriminate digging up of cases of clergy sex abuses and piling them up as evidence of a Church-wide conspiracy to avoid justice are simply unbelievable.

What’s coming out is not so much an honest effort to ferret out the truth and to seek appropriate justice as to vomit venom and bad blood even on the Pope. There’s wanton massacre of persons.

It’s becoming clear that the current crisis is the handiwork of the rabid enemies of the Church, making use of clergy victims to launch their attacks against the Church. All have an ax to grind against the Church, afflicted with the quixotic animus of destroying and quashing her to death.

Imagine unearthing cases dating years and ages ago. And without knowing exactly not only the finer details but also the salient developments of each case, they blast off into wild accusations based mainly on their speculations and, of course, their bleeding hatred.

They cast off restraint and moderation. They give full bent to their intemperance. They look invincibly convinced they are in entirely right. What they suspect is really what happened, no ifs and buts about it.

They seem not to have any room for the possibility of personal conversions and atonement of the people involved. They seem not have space for things like mercy and magnanimity. Their suffocating sense of justice blinds them to these human needs.

They drag suspects to the open, and subject them to all sorts of public humiliations. I suppose they’d be happy if some lynching would take place. Even those who are already dead are taken out of their graves in a pure display of spite.

The media people, some of them anyway, enjoy these things. It’s a feast for them, a field day. Glued only to the external facts, they play blind to the inner workings of these news items.

They know that limiting themselves to that level already sells enormously. So, why dig deeper? Why bother about the before and after of the cases, the social, cultural and spiritual context of these cases? Oversimplifying things is to go sensational, is to get at the jugular, is to make money.

Well, good luck to you, guys, atheists, agnostics, secularists, dissenters. I don’t wish to sound hubristic, but there’s something you will never understand if you just stop at your brilliant reasoning and mock the faith.

For sure, you have managed to cause some kind of crucifixion to the Church in general. But this, according to Christian faith, has always been not only to be expected but also to be welcomed and embraced. It serves to purify and strengthen the Church.

In short, what’s happening now is nothing new. It’s part of the regular cycle in the life of both the Church and the world. It’s part of the continuing process of identifying the Church and the world more and more with the crucified Christ. These conflicts are an unavoidable ingredient in life.

It’s actually like a favor done to the Church. I don’t know whether many people understand that. In the Gospel, when Christ had to impart a mysterious lesson to the people, he would say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Only those who try to live by faith would understand this divine logic.

Non-believers can soar sky-high in their reasoning, and hiss and mock at believers as much as they want, but they will fail to get the point unless they change.

Obviously, given our human condition, there is also need to clarify the issues and avoid playing the ostrich, with head in the sand. Christian believers are not averse to engaging anyone in a healthy, constructive dialogue, and to face the full weight of human justice, no matter how imperfect it is.

It’s true there had been unspeakable offenses committed by some clergy. It’s true there had been errors of judgment, even serious ones, committed by some Church authorities who handled these cases.

The Pope, in his recent letter to the Irish bishops regarding these Church scandals, already listed some of the root causes of the scandals. Appropriate measures are already afoot. These will take time, of course. Patience, hope and good will are needed.

Also recently, he called for penitence from everyone, but especially from those involved in the abuses. I was just dismayed to learn that even this papal call was distorted by some people who seem bent at nothing less than kicking the Pope out.





Removal of Punong Barangay from Barangay Council – a must

April 17, 2010

This week, thought struck a few minds that the village chief of every barangay be removed from the sangguniang barangay structure, and that a law to this effect be enacted, virtually amending the Local Government Code of 1991.  That is why, there are already suggestions that candidates for Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the Philippines should start presenting this idea as part of their legislative proposals.

This week is just time for such brainstorming to take place.  Deeper thoughts should be allowed to find their way into serious discussions.  Debates, although not proper at the moment, may develop eventually on two angles of proposition: advantages and disadvantages.  Or, serious thinkers can delve in formulating thesis and antithesis vis-a-vis propositions for a federal government.

As it is today, the village chief, known in the Code as punong barangay but formerly known as barangay chairman (when President Ferdinand Marcos decreed the renaming of barrios into barangays, which resulted in barangays identified by numbers even if they were not barrios previously) or barrio capitan or capitan del barrio under the Revised Barrio Charter or cabeza de barangay a few years after Spain took possession of the Philippine archipelago, is very powerful.  That power is so great that it can influence the thinking and conviction of the sangguniang barangay (formerly barangay council, or barrio council), and even render the kagawads (members of the sangguniang, formerly known as konsehales) inutil.  If in a way the kagawads could be of any use, that’s no more than being mere stamping pads of a dictator village chief.  It doesn’t matter if the chief is a man or a woman.  In fact, one barrio chief in Samar who is a woman is feared by all men even in the next far-flung barrio that is not part of her legal authority.  Her word is law even if against the laws of the land.  Yes, this is true.  If nothing has been reported yet to the authorities, particularly the chief of the Department of Interior and Local Government, or the President, then that can only be construed to mean that indeed that woman chief is terrible.  Just why, words reaching me say, is the permissive attitude of prior elected local officials who had insisted on blunt and squint principles on how to secure peace and order in their own communities.

A visit to the Code will reveal that the kagawads are supposed to exercise certain lines of authority. And so is the punong barangay, except that the Code makes it clear that the village chief has authority over the barangay council.  The chief has control of the barangay secretary, treasurer and the tanod chief and tanod members.

Arguments for the removal of the punong barangay from the barangay council are comfortable with the thought that the council should be definitely left with its legislative character, and as such it should elect its own presiding officer, and leave the punong barangay with the executive functions and without any power over the council.  In that manner, the governmental structure of the Philippine government will be complete: All those assigned executive functions maintain their own territory and jurisdiction, all those assigned legislative functions maintain their own territory and jurisdiction and simply perform legislative acts the way Philippine Congress does, and all those assigned the judicial functions stick to their jobs without having anything to do with those of the executive and legislative functions.  The punong barangay shall appoint the barangay executive branch officials who shall not exercise any barangay legislative or judicial functions.

What we have today in barangays is all three fundamental functions of government are lumped into only one – the barangay council, except that the operative principles from which the council draws its powers and authority are overshadowed by the punong barangay.   There is an extreme need to separate those powers, and to make the punong barangay equal to the sangguniang barangay, and the barangay judiciary.  The separation will place directly under the punong barangay all the barangay tanod (as though it were the military and the police, and other law enforcement units), the secretary and the treasurer, and all others with executive functions who may be appointed.  The separation will mandate the council to elect its own officers and secretary in addition to selecting committee officers from among the kagawads.  The separation will also keep the lupong tagapamayapa untouched by the punong barangay or any of the executive officers, and by the barangay council.   The separation will also clarify that the barangay secretary and the barangay treasurer should regard with utmost respect kagawads and the barangay justice officers as equals of the punong barangay.  (This last note is important, because many kagawads are complaining – except that their complaints are always simply ignored even by the DILG officials, as some of them pointed out – that often, barangay secretaries, treasurers and tanod chiefs treat them as though they are subordinates of the punong barangay and subordinates (“under”, as they said) of the secretary, treasurer and tanod chief.  “Danay pa ngani kami pagguli-atan, o pagbusaan, o sino pagtarhugon nga pag-iis’gan kami ni kapitan...,” they would say.  This should never be the case.  This is not what the Local Government Code of Senator Nene Pimentel envisioned nor how it was crafted.

The matter, too, of making the general assembly of the barangay constituents should be modified.  Additional provisions of law should be inserted into the Code, to make the general assembly truly powerful and effective.  As it is today, in most cases, those attending general assemblies become mere “yes” people of the punong barangay when the latter comes to the point of insisting on what he personally wants.

Because the village chief is very powerful, and experienced politicians know that, politicians manipulate them during election seasons.  The non-partisan character of the village chief is derogated to that of partisan.  They are recruited, with pay and food, to organize or recruit in supporters.  They then organize and recruit.  Sometimes, they are provided transportation units.  During the election campaign period, they campaign for the paying politicians, and on the eve of and sometimes up to election day, they herd voters to their homes, check the names of voters from lists of voters provided by paying politicians, and give them cash in exchange for their vote.

Never mind the “S.O.P” cash which contractors of projects give punong barangays, because demanded by the punong barangay at the time when projects were being conceptualized or already being negotiated with or bidded among contractors.  That’s corruption at the barangay level whereof the laws of the land, including the Code, has not specific provision. That’s corruption institutionalized in government departments – up to the district and provincial or project levels – which begins with overpricing or under-sizing materials for purchase and for actual use.

The bottom line here is that at this campaign stage, we should already be pressing on our candidates for Congress (the House and the Senate) for the passage of amendments along these concerns.  Not later.  Not never.





GWP-EV condemns the pseudo partylist groups
A Press Statement by Gabriela Women’s Party-Eastern Visayas
April 15, 2010

The Partylist System or Republic Act 7941 was made into law so that the marginalized sectors of our society can be proportionally represented in the lower house. A total of 55 partylist representatives can be a part of the congress.

However, beyond the fact that it is the organization or the political party and not the individual that is voted upon in the partylist system, the voting masses has to get acquainted with the nominees of these pseudo partylist groups whose representation betrays the very purpose of the law. Election watchdog Kontra Daya has identified 49 questionable nominees and who are obviously not from the marginalized groups while Kabataan Partylist has also identified significant numbers of pro-administration partylist groups.  Because of this, even the partylist system, which is supposed to ensure the representation of the marginalized sectors is dominated by the rich and powerful. And this should be exposed and opposed.

These dummy organizations are funded and supported by big traditional politicians and who are closely identified with the GMA administration. Groups like Ang Galing Party (AGP) with Congressman Mikey Arroyo, Ang Kasangga with Maria Lourdes Arroyo, 1-UTAK with Former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, BANTAY with the notorious Gen. Jovito Palparan as its first nominee, respectively, should be shunned for they are not truly representing the poor and the downtrodden.

With these, the Gabriela Women’s Party-Eastern Visayas strongly condemns the mushrooming of the dubious partylist groups and denounce the evil leadership of GMA ad her cohorts for perpetrating political dynasties that enable a few families to appropriate all political and economic powers. These are indications that the election will be manipulated to advance the purposes of those in power.

We call on everyone to discern our options. Let us find and support the legitimate partylist groups whose nominees truly represent the poor and the marginalized and who are consistently advocating the plights of the sectors they are representing.

Reference: IRMA MEPICO-BALABA, GWP-EV Spokesperson



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