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Detained artist is finalist in international art award

SMC Educational Fund invests on Samar Youth

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Month three in jail: artists, art events echo demand to end poet’s detention

Rock Oyster Processors’ Association inaugurates pilot processing center in Samar

Ban on black sand mining pressed in Region 8







Comelec cancels PWD voter registration for ARMM listing

PWD voter registration
Last year, National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week was also National PWD Registration Week. (Photo by MARIO IGNACIO IV)

June 20, 2012

The special registration for persons with disabilities (PWDs) nationwide set for next month will be called off following the Commission on Elections’ decision to give priority to voter registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Comelec Resolution 9443 suspended all ongoing registrations from June 25 to July 31, including the National Special Registration for PWDs originally planned for July 21. The country marks the 34th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week from July 17 to 23.

The Comelec is holding a general registration of voters in ARMM from July 9 to 18. It said it would transfer personnel and biometrics machines from non-ARMM areas to the registration centers in the five ARMM provinces: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

On June 11, three days after Resolution 9443 was issued, Congress annulled the ARMM voters book that contained more than 1.7 million voters. Joint Resolution No. 3 approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives said the book contained “hundreds of thousands of illegal and fictitious registrants.”

ARMM has two cities, 113 municipalities and 2,470 barangays. As of 2007, the total population in the region was 4.1 million.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said about a thousand voter registration machines, including several new ones, and a still undetermined number of personnel from Comelec offices nationwide will be deployed to the ARMM for the general voter registration.

Although the ARMM general voter registration will last only nine days, Comelec still has “a lot of things to do” before and after the actual registration, including hearings of the Election Registration Board and the cleansing of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, he said.

“The work of the Comelec doesn’t end with the last day of the filing,” he added.

Jimenez also clarified that although the scheduled PWD registrations will be affected, PWD voters can register anytime after July 31, as long as they do so before the deadline on Oct. 31.

The Alyansa ng may Kapansanang -Pinoy (AKAP-Pinoy), which planned the National Special Registration for PWD Voters with the Parish for Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), said it is “still figuring out what can be done.”

AKAP-Pinoy is a national federation of 450 organizations of PWDs (DPOs) nationwide. “It happens, there is nothing we can do but re-program,” Manuel V. Agcaoili, AKAP-Pinoy chairman, said, adding that getting upset will not provide any solution.

He also said Comelec has proposed to hold a special nationwide registration in mid-August instead and that it has committed to continue supporting the registration of PWDs until October.

The latest official results from Comelec show some 345,000 registered PWD voters nationwide. Special registrations were held in Visayas in March, Mindanao in April and Luzon in May. Results from the latest registrations are still being tallied.

Emerito Rojas, the PWD sectoral representative of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), described the cancellation of special PWD registration on July “unfortunate.”

“Many PWDs are looking forward that the special registration shall be scheduled again in the future. The right to suffrage of PWDs must be fully realize(d),” said Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP).

Article V, Section 1 of the Constitution states that “suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law” and that “no literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.”

It mandates Congress to design a procedure for PWDs and the illiterates to vote without the assistance of other persons. “Until then, they shall be allowed to vote under existing laws and such rules as the Commission on Elections may promulgate to protect the secrecy of the Ballot,” according to the Constitution.

The third week of July was proclaimed as NDPR Week through Proclamation No. 1870 signed in 1979 by then President Ferdinand Marcos. In 2002, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Administrative Order 35 that directed “all departments, bureaus, government-owned and/or controlled corporations, government financial institutions, local government units, state universities/colleges and schools, and other government agencies/instrumentalities to promote and conduct relevant activities during the annual observance” of NDPR.

The theme for this year’s NDPR celebration is “Mainstreaming Persons with Disabilities in Economic Development.”

The concept paper prepared by NCDA states the theme aims to promote of the “full employment” of PWDs and “to tackle barriers and gaps, facilitate stakeholders’ cooperation, develop innovative approaches and support human rights-based initiatives for the economic development of persons with disabilities.”

Some of NCDA’s planned activities include Early Prevention of Children with Disabilities and the first Road Safety Seminar for PWDs on July 19, Orientation-Forum on Accessibility Law with Sensitivity Training on July 20 and the weeklong “Likhang PWD 2012” exhibit of PWD art and products.

Last year, Comelec declared July 18 to 23, 2011 as National PWD Registration Week.





Philippine eco-school champs gear up for ASEAN Awards

Press Release
June 16, 2012

MANILA  –  Students and faculties of Iliranan Elementary School in Negros Occidental and the Camarines Sur National High School in Naga City have something to look forward to in the coming days, aside from the opening of classes, and that is to represent the country in the 2012 ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Eco-Schools Awards to be held on July 17-18, 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

This was announced today by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, following a report by Malaysia in the 4th Meeting of ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education held May 29-30, 2012 in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

“This early I would like to congratulate the students and faculty members of these two schools for championing environmental protection in their campuses.  Teaching the kids to do simple things like tree planting and the 3Rs of solid waste management will go a long way in founding the bedrock of an environment-conscious nation,” Paje said.

He also said the international recognition would serve as an additional incentive for schools in the country to level up their respective environmental education program.

The 2012 ASEAN Eco-Schools Awards is organized by the Government of Malaysia in partnership with Hanns-Seidel Foundation, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Japan-ASEAN Integrated Fund (JAIF) and the ASEAN Secretariat.

The 2012 ASEAN Eco-Schools Awards seeks to recognize institutions of learning at the primary and secondary level that demonstrates values of environmental sustainability practices and carries out environmentally-friendly school policies, teaching programs and practices for the benefit of the school and surrounding communities.

The criteria for the awards are divided into four categories: (1) School Policy and Administration; (2) Teaching Modules and Learning Activities; (3) Facilities and Environmental Practices and (4) Partnership and Community Outreach.

Further, the awarding ceremony is in line with the declaration of 2012 as the ASEAN Year for the Environment, with the theme “Environmental Awareness through Eco-Schools”.

A public school in San Carlos City, Iliranan Elementary School won the grand prize in last year’s National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools for being an active implementer of the Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The school earned the judges’ votes for its efforts in training not only the pupils, but also their parents and the local community to reduce, reuse, recycle and segregate wastes, known in solid waste management as the 3Rs.

To generate extra funds for their school activities, they sell recyclable items they collect from the students themselves to the junkshops while the biodegradable wastes are utilized as organic fertilizers to plants and vegetable gardens within their campus.

The school likewise strictly imposes environmental policies such as the no-to-open burning and open dumping policy, no smoking, no nailing and illegal cutting of trees and to conserve water, just to name a few.

The Camarines Sur National High School (CSNHS), a public secondary school in Naga City, won the championship for its “Youth for Environment in Schools Organization (YES-O)”.

The student organization serves to facilitate environmental projects by mobilizing the school in tree planting like the CSNHS Forest Park Project), symposia on environment and health concerns, street and coastal clean-up, and  environmental campaigns through signage, bulletin announcements, green film showing, essays and poster-making contests, solid waste recovery through Project SAVE (Service Awareness in Valuing Environment), and participation in international Earth-saving events like Green Wave, Earth Hour, etc.

In a related development, the DENR has also announced the commencement process of the 2013 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools. The nationwide search is organized by the DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), in cooperation with the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, Smart Communications, Inc., Nestle Philippines, Inc. and Unilever Philippines, Inc.

EMB Director Juan Miguel Cuna said the national search is a direct response to Republic Act No. 9512, also known as the National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008.

For further details of the 2013 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools, please contact the National Program Secretariat at the EMB’s Environmental Education and Information Division at teleafx number 9284674; E-mail: ecofriendlyschools@gmail.com; Websites: http://emb.gov.ph and http://www.sustainableschools.ph





Pintados-Kasadyaan festival tradition lives on

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
June 7, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Buy your airline tickets and book your hotel rooms as it is now official - the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival tradition will once again be in the limelight on June 27 despite all odds and deliberate moves to prevent its re-staging this year.

Palo Mayor Remedios “Matin” L. Petilla, chairperson of the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival and Mrs. Evelina Acebedo, vice-president of the Pintados Foundation made the pronouncement at a press conference moderated by PIA Region 8 Director Olive P. Tiu on June 6 at the Gazebo of the RTR Plaza.

Ten Kasadyaan contingents and ten Pintados tribes, Mardi gras groups and merry makers are set to participate in the grand Pintados-Kasadyaan festival, the largest, grandest and most colorful festival not only in the province of Leyte but in the entire Eastern Visayas Region.

The union of the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival caught the eyes of the national festival connoisseurs as it bagged the Best Tourism Practice Award – Festival Category (provincial level) during the 2010 Association of Tourism Officers (ATOP) National Convention held in Subic Bay.

The year 2012 marks the 17th year of the joint celebration of the Kasadyaan Festival and the 26th year of the Pintados Festival which is the oldest festival in Region 8.

As in last year’s staging, no street dance parade will be conducted as the City Government did not give permit despite request as early as January 2012.

Mayor Petilla gave the assurance, however, that this year’s Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals will be as grand if not more grand as ever with the tribes and the contingents showcasing the rich history and culture of the Visayans through their world-class performance at the Leyte Sports Complex (formerly known as Grandstand).

In lieu of the street dance parade, the contingents will hold mardi gras to celebrate and pay homage to Senior Santo Niño, the Patron of Leyte, Mayor Petilla said.

There will be nightly activities at the RTR Plaza starting June 8 while trade fairs, pet shows, garden shows and water sports activities will also be conducted. Also included in the activities is the holding of the search for Mutya ng Kasadyaan and Ms Pintados.

The first Pintados Festival on June 29, 1987 was in memory of the first inhabitants of the Visayas called “Pintados” whose art of body painting amazed the Spaniards. The Visayan men had their bodies tattooed from ankles up to their upper torso and the neck. The braver ones even extended their tattoo marks up to their cheeks, around their eyes and forehead.

The Festival is a brainchild of a group of pro-active businessmen in the city who saw the need to organize a big relevant event that would set a joyful mood as a fitting homage to the Patron of Tacloban, Senor Santo Niño.

As the late Board Member Roque Tiu, the founding president used to quip, the Pintados Festival will not have reached its 26th year if the Taclobanons and the entire people of Region 8 did not accept and welcomed the celebration of the Pintados Festival on June 29, 1987.

With then Parish Priest of Tacloban now bishop of Naval, Msgr. Filomeno Bactol as chairman, Atty. Roque A. Tiu as the President, OIC Mayor Butch Veloso as the honorary chairman, Manager Shane Lim of Tacloban Coca-Cola Plant, Manager Rommel Gonzales of the Philippine Airlines, Manager Mon Torralba of San Miguel Corporation, Mr. William Chan, Mrs. Evelina Acevedo of the Katolinan Dance Company, among others, formed the Pintados Foundation, Inc.

This group made a thorough research with the help of the experts in the culture and the arts, and finally came up with the Festival that kindles appreciation for the Eastern Visayan culture.

The Pintados Festival showcases the ancient practice of body painting and shows how the Visayan ancestors came to accept Christianity and develop great love for Santo Nino.

After 26 years, the Pintados Festival evolved to be one of the landmark events in the province of Leyte drawing Visayans from all over the world to come home just to be part of the annual festivities.

It is now celebrated jointly with the Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals, making the celebration of the feast of the Santo Niño, an event the people of Leyte and the entire Region 8, can truly be proud of.

On the other hand, the Kasadyaan Festival was first staged in 1996 as project of the Eastern Visayas Regional Tourism Council through the inspiring leadership of then Governor, former Congresswoman of the First District of Leyte, now Mayor of Palo, Leyte Hon. Remedios L. Petilla.

As one official of a winning contingent some years back said, it is not the winning that matters but the privilege to be part of the huge group of people who united and bounded themselves together despite all odds, to continue paying special homage and tribute to the Senior Santo Niño, the Patron of the Province of Leyte.





PH government hounded by persistent concerns on extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture at UN rights review

By Philippine UPR Watch
May 29, 2012

GENEVA  –  As the Chief Justice of the Philippines was being handed down a verdict in the impeachment trial, the Philippine government was also undergoing a similar process of accountability, this time before the United Nations.

Philippine human rights delegation in GenevaAround 69 countries quizzed the Philippine government on its human rights record, Tuesday, May 29 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Philippines participated in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council. One after the other, at least 22 countries expressed concerns on the continuing spate of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture in particular, and impunity in general, according to the Philippine UPR Watch. Several countries also called on the Philippine government to dismantle all paramilitary groups and militias.

The Australian mission urged the Philippine government to arrest fugitive Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is wanted for the abduction of two UP activists. The UK, Spain and the Holy See called on the Philippine government to “completely eradicate extrajudicial killings”.

The United States said that “impunity in human rights violations” continued. It cited institutional barriers to the attainment of justice for victims of rights abuse. Ireland called for “decisive measures” to address the problems. Germany urged the strengthening of accountability mechanisms and the conduct of impartial investigations in cases involving state forces, reminding the PH government of the recommendations of Prof. Philip Alston, former Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions. The Netherlands asked that the issue of impunity be addressed and called for the prosecution, trial and conviction of perpetrators. Denmark called for the full implementation of the anti-torture law, saying that state forces are still involved in abuses.

Spain and Canada called for the dismantling of all paramilitary groups and militias, a position that has gained support after the Maguindanao massacre in 2009, with the latter mincing no words, saying that despite training programs on human rights for security forces, human rights violations are “still serious and all too widespread.” Belgium asked the PH government on measures to record cases of EJKs and urged the Philippines to ratify the convention against enforced disappearances. Austria expressed concerns over attacks on journalists and cases of torture.

France said it was “alarmed by extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and continuing violations against journalists and human rights defenders”. Japan echoed this, saying “extrajudicial killings continue as a significant political issue.”

The questions and comments from the foreign missions were directed to the GPH delegation headed by Philippine Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

At least six countries meanwhile asked the Philippines to act on requests of UN special rapporteurs who want to visit the Philippines to examine the rights situation in the country. To this, de Lima remarked that they are still studying the requests and said the PH government cannot act on all requests because of alleged shortage in resources.

“We view the questions and statements of continuing concern by the different foreign missions as very telling. It shows even greater interest by the international community on the human rights situation. They know that the Philippine government has not lived up to its commitment to completely eliminate extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture. The language used may have been diplomatic, but clearly the international community wants the Philippine government to do more,” said Fr. Jonash Joyohoy of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and co-head of delegation of the Philippine UPR Watch.

Present during the session were two Filipino human rights victims, Fil-Am activist and torture and disappearance survivor Melissa Roxas and Aklan municipal councilor Ernan Baldomero, son of slain councilor Fernando Baldomero, the first victim of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino administration.

Leaders from Karapatan, NCCP, Tanggol Bayi, NUPL, Bayan, KAMP, MCPA-Kawagib, Children’s Rehabilitation Center, Defend Job Philippines, Migrante, Cordillera People’s Alliance, Promotion of Church People’s Response, IFI-Ramento Project for Rights Defenders, Migrante International, International Coordinating Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines (ICCHRP) and Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines-United Kingdom and CHRP-Switzerland also attended the session. Prior to the start of the session, the UPR Watch delegates flashed their I-Pads bearing calls to end extrajudicial killings and impunity in the Philippines.

“The questions raised by the foreign missions were nearly identical to the questions we have submitted to them prior to the UN session. Human rights defenders, the victims and their families have submitted reports that belie the overstated achievements of the Philippine government. We count 76 victims of extradjudicial killings since Aquino took office. While the PH government now claims a dramatic decline in the killings, – no thanks to its supposed efforts – our data shows that the PH government has not lived up to its commitment to eliminate these violations altogether,” said Karapatan chair Marie Enriquez.

Selective presentation of data

Atty. Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers and also a UPR Watch delegate commented that the Philippine report was very selective in its presentation of data. “The report tends to highlight lesser achievements by gloating over showcase steps it has belatedly done while conveniently drowning the more essential issues such as the almost nil conviction rate of perpetrators of rights abuses, the failure of the Aquino government to press charges and arrest suspects, and the continuing effects of the government’s counter-insurgency program on the people. There is basically deafening silence from the GPH on all these issues,” he said.

Even on the issue of social and economic rights, the GPH report was very selective in its presentation, says Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr. “They highlighted so-called achievements in the conditional cash transfer program while glossing over rising poverty, unemployment and hunger,” Reyes said.

“While Aquino and his allies whoop it up in their victory in the Corona impeachment, human rights victims are still fighting for the longest time for accountability from a state that continues to commit and condone abuses with shameless impunity,” Reyes added.

At the end of the review, the whole Philippine UPR Watch, who were all seated in one long row inside the session hall of the Palais des Nations and wearing different pins with various calls for justice and accountability, simultaneously gave a thumbs-down sign of the Philippine report.





US naval ship Mercy is set to visit Catbalogan by June

Hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19)

May 27, 2012

CATBALOGAN CITY  –  A two-week humanitarian and civic action (HCA) activities is to set foot on Samar from June 18 to July 01, 2012 for the Pacific Partnership 2012, as shared during the PP12 Meeting last May 24, 2012 at Ciriaco Hotel and Resort, Calbayog City.

The PP12 is a mission that will take medical, dental, veterinary, engineering and civic assistance projects to the Philippines.

USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), one of the two modern hospital ships in the US Navy, will dock the shores of Calbayog City for the PP12 mission. It will serve as the command platform of the mission sought to build and strengthen alliances, partnerships and relationships with regional host nations, partner nations, foreign humanitarian assistance actors and non-government organizations (NGO), and U.S. government interagency organizations by conducting HCA and other civil military operations. The PP12 is set to visit Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia for this year’s leg of the mission.

For the Philippine leg, although majority of its mission will be held in Samar, a deployment will visit Mindanao to do minor outreach and a number of activities. For Samar, the mission will conduct a series of Surgical Civic Action Program (SURGCAP), Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAP), Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE), Civic Military Operations (CMO), and Public Affairs Operations (PAO).

As reported during the meeting last May 26, 2012 at the Office of the City Mayor with the team from the PP12, activities to be conducted in Catbalogan City will mostly be from June 25-30, 2012. Present during the meeting were Hon. Stephany Uy-Tan in behalf of Mayor Tekwa, Dr. Gerarda Tizon and Dr. Amalia Tirazona from the City Health Office and Dr. Antonio Cinco from the City Veterinary Office.

As shared, the SURGCAP will be held only in Calbayog City since actual surgeries will be performed inside the USNS Mercy ship. Dates for the enlistment of possible patients will only be on June 18 and 24, 2012.

For the MEDCAP however, missions will be held at different municipalities on various dates. The MEDCAP will include services on medical, dental, optometry, women’s health and general out-patient consultation. According to LCDR Weatherup, the Catbalogan MEDCAP will be from June 25-28 at the Silanga Elementary School, Barangay Silanga. With the assistance of the City Health Office, the MEDCAP is set to cater at most 400 patients per day and will further be assisted by RN Heals nurses stationed at CHO as revealed by City Health Officer Dr. Tizon. A sub-activity will also be conducted called VETCAP or Veterinary Civic Action Programs at Barangay Guinsorongan to cater to animals raising and to be assisted by the City Veterinary Office through Dr. Cinco.

For the SMEE, a series of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management seminar workshop will be conducted on June 28 & 29 in Catbalogan City to cover topics on fire fighting, and search and rescue operations. A culinary expert exchange will also be conducted, a first for the mission, through Mr. Ruben Tan, owner of Flaming Hat Restaurant.

Under the CMO, 15 pallets are set to be donated to various schools and organizations in Catbalogan City, which include medical and school supplies, toys and other items from donated by various companies. To facilitate the donation drive, Councilor Stephany Uy-Tan shared that said task will be forwarded to the Local School Board and through the newly-reopened Division of Catbalogan City, Department of Education.

For the PAO activities, these include a series of Band Clinics from June 25-28, 2012 tentatively to be conducted at the Samar National School Social Hall to cater to different music enthusiasts and students alike. The said Band Clinic will be led by the mission’s 17-member band. Consequently, a journalism and photography clinic will be conducted on those dates to be conducted in partnership with the Catbalogan City Camera Club (CCCC).

On June 29, a Basketball Clinic is set to be conducted at Catbalogan City in partnership with the Catbalogan Basketball Association (CABA).

And on June 30, a Children Activity is scheduled in the city to cater to out-of-school youths for a possible outreach and some joint enrichment.

Also for the PAO, an Acoustic Concert will be conducted on June 20 and a Rock Concert on June 22 to be held at Nijaga Park at Calbayog City.

The mission are also inviting student groups, NGOs, and different organizations to actually visit the ship itself for a guided tour.

For more inquiries on the schedules for the medical activities, do get in touch with Dr. Tizon at City Health Office (055) 251-6937 at Pier Dos, Allen Avenue Extension, Catbalogan City, Samar.

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