Survival Issue is a
Political Reality, says Cong. Sarmiento
By GINA DEAN-RAGUDO, Samar
CALBAYOG CITY – Nakabuhi
na ak yakan
kan SB (Cong. Sonny Belmonte), si GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo)
damo an naihatag nga proyekto sa Calbayog.
Pag-anunsyo niya nga diri na siya madalagan ka speaker, nakuhaan ak
sakit sa ulo.
(I have given my word to SB, GMA has provided more projects in
Calbayog. But when she declared she’s no longer running for
speakership, I lost my headache.), says Samar First District
Representative Mel S. Sarmiento in a press conference at Calbayog
Sports Complex after Calbayog City officials and LP’s Sangguniang
Panlalawigan members made their oaths of office on July 1, 2010.
Under the present
administration, Cong. Sarmiento admitted that he eventually joined the
Liberal Party. From LAKAS-KAMPI-CMD under GMA, he said that the group
(Samar/Calbayog local candidates) finally decided to go back to the
mother party (LP) despite creating collateral damage to the former.
In Calbayog City or Samar, only two parties are being recognized by
the people – the Liberal Party and Nacionalista Party. Though he
further disclosed that the LP has encountered problems leading to
political divisions such as the 1940’s Quirino-Avelino wings, 1980’s
Kalaw-Salonga wings and Atienza-Drilon wings which was resolved
recently. Under Atienza who opted to support former president Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo, they were endorsed to the latter who was then under
the LAKAS-KAMPI-CMD. To be assured of support from the national
government, they were able to obtain certificates of nominations from
Survival issue is a
political reality. Masakit nga an administrasyon an ginhaharass kontra
san oposisyon. (It is painful that the administration is being
harassed than the opposition). Many incidents took place prior to the
elections ending up diffusion and have weakened the administration.
There were people assigned in GMA’s office who were not loyal to her,
Knowing to be an ally
of former PGMA, he appreciates the creation of the Truth Commission
provided that due process shall be applied.
“Maupay iton nga
pagcreate Truth Commission basta may due process. Kay kon sa
katapustapusan hearsay la adto ug waray basehan nga mga alegasyon, it
would be an advantage on her part. Kay kon mayda man gud basehan adton
mga asunto, she has to answer all the charges filed in court. But look
at the Marcoses! In the long run, the court had been sympathetic and
in favor of them. If there is nothing to prove, justice will
preferably be applied. However, if the court finds out that there are
basis, then she has to face the reality”, Sarmiento said.
As a first termer in
the House, he is appealing to the people that he be given enough time
to focus. He expressed his interest on health, education, environment,
agriculture and budget/appropriation committees in order to sustain
the programs and projects of former Cong. Reynaldo S. Uy. He would
initiate in refiling the bill creating Calbayog District Hospital as
an annex to Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) under
LGU-Calbayog. He would check on the good programs suitable for the
city and the first district of Samar devoid of emotions.
Amidst the stiff
political rivalry and enmity taking place between the governor and the
first district representative as well as Calbayog City officials,
Sarmiento is also preparing for the passage of the bill creating
Northwest Samar Province. The alleged corruptible performance of the
provincial government has affected the delivery of basic social
services as a consequence of its shaky or non-implementation.
“Diri kunta ihulog an
harampang sa politika. The area of the first district is not easy –
kakuri imanage. Samar is the third largest island in the country.
Kunta magin objective in the aspect of management and finances”,
On the other hand, the
solon intends to consult the local officials particularly the chief
executives of nine municipalities for the purpose of imparting his
knowledge and expertise in governance. His nine-year experience in the
executive department could be a tool for development – the local
implementation of the programs which is consistent with the national
As a former RDC Chair,
best valued for his accomplishments in the region raising considerable
funds and implemented projects during his term, clarifies that he did
not endorse anybody for the chairmanship but is hopeful that the next
leader should be closed to the president.
Other bills pending in
Congress that he expressed support are the Freedom of Information
Bill, Reproductive Health Bill particularly on responsible parenthood,
Implementation of Sex Education in the Elementary Level but he has to
examine first its provisions, his support for a gunless society
intensifying the Law on Gun Ban and his preference for the
implementation of constitutional convention with time frame.
Click here to
listen to the full interview
The facts re June 5
cocaine recovery in Eastern Samar
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
TACLOBAN CITY –
Director Antonio Pagatpat of the National Bureau of Investigation
informed that his agency was not part of the PASG operations that
unearthed 17 kilos of cocaine bricks in three different areas of
Easter Samar province.
The clarification was
made by Director Pagatpat in reaction to local newspaper reports
mentioning the NBI as part of the special operations and “took over
and helped out in the shipping (of cocaine) in
The good NBI 8
Director disclosed that he only came to know about the operations when
the PASG team dropped by his office on Sunday, June 7 to ask him to
account for the recovered items.
The PASG team returned
to Manila in the early morning of Monday together with the recovered
items. An NBI agent from the Central Office came to Tacloban to
provide security, Director Pagatpat said.
Contrary to the
earlier reports that the Civil Aviation Security in Tacloban denied
the shipment, thus the recovered items were transported to
by land or by water.
The post operation
report of the PASG team composed of
SPO1 Tito Q. Macatugob, Atty. Lilibeth A. Llagas and PASG
civilian agent Hilario Yalong stated that triggered by the nationwide
news on the alleged cocaine packs thrown at the waters of
Eastern Samar, the
PASG started to gather information as to how the unrecovered packs of
cocaine may be discovered. Contacting individuals in the area led the
PASG to an informant claiming personal knowledge of some places where
the cocaine packs were allegedly being hidden.
Armed with a mission
order signed by PASG Head, Secretary Antonio A. Villar, Jr., the PASG
team arrived in Tacloban City at 4:30 in the afternoon of June 5. The
team proceeded to Mercedes,
Eastern Samar and coordinated with the Mercedes Police Station at
8:25 in the
evening. It was then, that the team learned that there was no office
of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Eastern Samar.
The team then
coordinated with the “informant” for the first target area. Several
persons were sent to Barangay Hagnayan, Salcedo town to dig up the
cocaine bricks in the area pinpointed by the informant. The team
allegedly remained at Mercedes town.
The persons came back
at 11:00 o’clock in the evening, turning over an orange Hersheys bag
containing eleven (11) packs of cocaine bricks packed in plastics.
The team immediately
reported the recovery to the Chief of PASG Special Operations Group
who thereafter relayed and coordinated with the Dangerous Drugs Board
and the PDEA.
At dawn of June 6, the
Team coordinated again with the informant for the second target area
turned out to be at Barangay Minanod in Llorente town. Again, some men
were sent to the area to dig up the buried cocaine there.
While the recovery
operation in Llorente was ongoing, the informant pinpointed the third
and last target area at Sitio Jaklagan, Barangay Buyayawon in Mercedes
town. Several persons were also sent to the place.
At 8:45 in the morning
of June 6, a total of six (6) packs of cocaine in brick form, one pack
of which is slightly damaged exposing the white crystalline substance
which appeared to be cocaine, were delivered to the team. Three packs
were recovered at Llorente while the other three packs were recovered
The 17 packs of what
appeared to be cocaine bricks which were recovered by the PASG team
were brought to the PNP Mercedes Station where initial inventory and
photograph-taking were made in the presence of Mercedes Barangay
Chairwoman Josefina Macatugob, Mercedes PNP Chief Inspector Marino
Estonio, and policemen
SPO2 Julio Quilbio and PO1 Luis Ablay, Jr. There was no media representative
known in the area. There was no DOJ representative who could be
contacted considering that it was a Sunday.
The PASG team received
instructions from PASG officials in
to take the first flight the following day, Monday, to
and to turn over the recovered cargoes directly to the Dangerous Drugs
Board and the PDEA main offices in Quezon City considering earlier
coordination with said offices.
The PASG team was
likewise informed that the recovered items were already coordinated
with the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Illegal Drugs and that
two NBI Agents will be sent to Tacloban to assist the team’s travel
from Tacloban to Manila.
After the PNP Mercedes
chief reported the recovery of cocaine to the
PNP Provincial Director of
Eastern Samar, the
team was escorted by Mercedes and Quinapondan
PNP to Tacloban using a patrol vehicle of the Mercedes
The team and the
police escorts then proceeded to the NBI Region 8 Office to turn-over
the physical custody of the recovered items for safekeeping until the
PASG team’s flight. The recovered items were sealed and signed by
Mercedes PNP Station chief, S1 Cyrus Alusan and a media representative
in the person of Miriam Desacada of the Philippine Star. No DOJ
representative was contacted.
At around 8:00 o’clock
in the morning of June 7, by virtue of the memorandum of agreement
between the NBI and PDEA, the PASG team escorted by the two NBI agents
arrived in Manila and the recovered items were turned over to PDEA
chief General Dionisio Santiago.
World Council of
Churches to continue monitoring the HR situation in the Philippines;
expresses deep concern and solidarity with Morong 43 Health Workers
By ECUMENICAL VOICE
GENEVA – In a clear
signal of continuing solidarity with the churches and human rights
defenders in the
the World Council of Churches through its Commission of the Churches
on International Affairs (CCIA-WCC) invited the delegation of the
Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (EVPHRP)
to speak before an audience at the
WCC headquarters here.
Edre Olalia (right, in black jacket), one of the legal counsels of
the Morong 43, narrating the ordeal of his clients.
In welcoming the
delegation, Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, Director of CCIA-WCC said
the WCC has supported the human rights work in the Philippines “for as
long as I can remember” and will continue to do so for as long as
human rights violations go on. He said the WCC, through its General
Secretary, is one of the international organizations that issued
statements in support of the call for the release of forty three
health workers who were arrested on February 6. He noted the strong
partnership between the churches in the Philippines and non-government
organizations that take a principled stand on human rights protection.
Also, lending support was Ms. Christina Papazoglou,
WCC’s Programe Executive for Human Rights.
A highlight of the
presentation of the EVPHRP was the case of the illegal arrest, torture
and continuing detention of the 43 health workers, more popularly
known as the Morong 43. Mr. Jigs Clamor, a member of the delegation
and husband of one of the medical doctors of the Morong 43, narrated
how his family suffered and continues to suffer while his wife is
under detention. He said his wife was told by the military officers of
reprisals to her family unless she admits that she and the others are
members of the New People’s Army. “This is the same story with the
families of the other detainees,” Clamor said. For six days following
their arrest, the Philippine Army denied them visitorial rights by
their families and legal counsel. He thanked the
WCC for calling for the release of the health workers.
Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez,
Chairperson of the Philippine human rights watchdog, KARAPATAN, and a
victim of torture during the Martial Law years, said that
international pressure is important for human rights work in the
Philippines. The number of victims shoots up, each time nobody is
watching, she said. Atty. Edre Olalia, acting Secretary General of the
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and a legal counsel of the
Morong 43 discussed briefly the legal twist and turns they are
confronted with amidst the impunity. All kinds of human rights
violations at every juncture were heaped on the Morong 43, he said as
he enumerated the extensive grounds for citing the arrest and
detention as illegal.
For his part, Fr. Rex
Reyes, Jr., General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in
the Philippines, underscored the necessity of living out the words of
Jesus Christ who said “I have come that you may have life and have it
abundantly”. He said the defense of human rights goes beyond political
boundaries as, in the process, one speaks and declares hope where it
seems not to exist. He underscored the need to affirm the church’s
self-understanding as being for and with people. “We do our best to
preserve human dignity in that part of the world, conscious of the
fact that we are your representatives there. It is an ecumenical
task”, Reyes said as he reiterated the WCC’s definition of ecumenism.
He thanked the
WCC for its unwavering accompaniment to the churches in the
session, the delegation paid a call on WCC General Secretary Dr. Olav
Fykes Tveit. In welcoming the delegation, Dr. Tveit expressed the
WCC’s support to the work of the churches for the defense of human
dignity and assured the delegation of his continuing interest on the
case of the Morong 43. The delegation is in Geneva to attend the 14th
Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The Case of the Morong
43: emblematic of systemic and systematic human rights violations in
the Philippines which are bred by social conditions
By ECUMENICAL VOICE
GENEVA – “The Morong
43 case is emblematic of the human rights violations occurring in the
Philippines. The plethora of violations at every step of the way, the
various legal shortcuts, the brazen abuse or total disregard of the
law and the deliberate attempts to escape accountability are
conclusive evidences of so much impunity in the Philippines.” Atty.
Edre Olalia, one of the counsels to the Morong 43 and acting Secretary
General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), made these
remarks at the side event highlighting the case of the 43
healthworkers, during the 14th session of the Human Rights Council
held at the Palais des Nations at the United Nations.
chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez (2nd from L) presents the
over-all context of the case of the Morong 43 in a side event at
the 14th session of UN Human Rights Council. Panel members
included [from L-R] Mr. Roneo Clamo (Karapatan Deputy Secretary
General and husband of Morong 43 detainee), Enriquez, Renate Bloem
of CIVICUS (as moderator), Cecilia Quisumbing (CHR commissioner),
Eric Sottas of the OMCT, and Atty. Edre Olalia (of the National
Union of People’s Lawyers and legal counsel of the Morong 43).
Also testifying at the
side event was Mr. Roneo ‘Jigs’ Clamor, husband of one of the
detainees and Deputy Secretary General of the human rights alliance
KARAPATAN. He narrated the circumstances during and following the
arrest of the 43 health workers. Clamor described how his wife was
threatened and that her family would be harmed if she refuses to own
up being a member of the New People’s Army. The other detainees
experienced similar threats and other forms of torture, he said. He
added that relatives who visited were subject to harassment by
elements of the military. Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez, KARAPATAN
Chairperson, went on to detail how the Morong 43 was deprived of their
Speaking at the same
event, Commissioner Cecilia Quisumbing also rued the failure of the
military to respect the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights.
Quisumbing said the military does not respect human rights and does
not see the difference between the mandate of the CHR and the
investigative powers of the police. This is one reason, she said, the
military defies the Commission. Quisumbing also scored the “apparent
impropriety of the warrant of arrest”.
In his response to the
testimonies of the members of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human
Rights in the Philippines, Mr. Eric Sottas, Secretary General of the
World Organization against Torture (OMCT), noted that the Morong 43 is
an example of the criminalization of social protest where the health
workers are portrayed as criminals. Sottas said the social conditions
in the Philippines, the vulnerabilities of the people and the great
gap between the rich and poor and the fact that human rights defenders
are advocating for these rights which are being denied, bear on human
rights violations. Sottas said the Philippine government readily
admits recommendations from the international community like the UN.
But, it remains to be seen whether it has the political will to adopt
and implement those recommendations.
Ms. Renate Bloem,
representative of the World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS)
in the UN, reiterated that the international community of NGOs has
been doing its share of supporting the case of the Morong 43 and will
continue to link up and work for their release.
The side event
entitled, The Morong 43 Case in the Philippines, was sponsored by the
Ecumenical Voice for Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines and
co-sponsored by the Civicus (World Alliance for Citizen Participation)
and the World Organization against Torture (OMCT).
counter-insurgency policy behind attacks on lawyers and judges
By ECUMENICAL VOICE
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND –
Members of a Filipino civil society delegation claimed that the
counter-insurgency policy of the outgoing Arroyo government is the
culprit behind the spate of killings involving lawyers, judges and
human rights defenders in the Philippines.
“The real problem lies
in the outgoing Arroyo government’s counter-insurgency paradigm that
employs polices that do not distinguish who are the combatants and who
are not; who are armed and who are not…This is a counter-insurgency
policy that just lumped together all the critics and all those who are
critical of the government’s policies and programs as enemies of the
state… and, considering that they are enemies these people must be
eliminated, one way or another,” said lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate,
vice president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and
member of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the
Philippines (Ecumenical Voice for brevity). The group sent a
five-member delegation to Geneva for the 14th Session of the UN Human
Rights Council, which is being held from May 31 to June 18.
The other members of
the delegation are: Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr., general secretary of the
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), delegation
head, Marie Hilo Enriquez, chairperson of the human rights alliance
KARAPATAN, Edre Olalia, acting secretary general of the National Union
of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Roneo Clamor, deputy secretary general
of Karapatan and husband of Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the health
workers dubbed as the Morong 43 now illegally detained by the Arroyo
Zarate made the
statement during a forum attended by lawyers, jurists, academics and
other members of different civil society organizations from the
different countries at the Palais des Nations here.
The gathering – with
the theme “Attacks on lawyers, Judges, and Human Rights Defenders: The
Urgent Need for Protective Measures” – was convened by the Lawyers
Rights Watch Canada, Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation, Judges for
Judges and the International Commission of Jurists. It was one of the
side events of the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council
“We believe that to
effectively address the problem of attacks faced by judges, lawyers
and human rights defenders, we have to employ more long term
solutions... long term protective measures that will have greater
impact on the persons sought to be protected,” said Zarate who was one
of the reactors of the said forum.
Since 2001, some 26
lawyers and 17 judges have already been killed in the Philippines.
Some 51 other cases of lawyers being attacked, labeled and harassed
were also recorded since 2001.
came as a response made by Brazilian Judge Gabriela C. Knaul de
Albuquerque e Silva, the newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the
Independence of Judges and Lawyers, who vowed to make herself
available on a “full time“ basis. She also said she will fully use
her powers as a Special Rapporteur to work with members of the civil
society organizations “to address the root causes that creates a
scenario where threats and intimidations are happening.”
“We have to work
together and do more to employ effective protective measures to help
the judges, lawyers and human rights defenders,” she said.
“In the Philippine
context, there is clear interconnection between the culture of
impunity, the counter-insurgency policy of the government and the lack
of protective measures to address the problems spawned by such a
policy,” Zarate noted.
Zarate also criticized
the penchant of the Philippine government to “misrepresent” the manner
by which it addresses the problem of impunity in the Philippines. He
pointed for example the claims of an official of the Philippine
Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, who claimed that
the Arroyo government immediately acted to “swiftly bring to justice
those responsible” for the now internationally-condemned
November 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao, Mindanao. “What
swift justice is he boasting about? The Arroyo government through
Acting Secretary of Justice Agra even tried to exonerate two of the
principal accused in the case while the attention of the Filipinos was
focused on the recently concluded May national elections,” Zarate