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Mass surrender of NPA supporters in Eastern Samar

LMP holds Visayas island cluster conference

Mayaw-Mayaw takes center stage at Kamurayaw Festival in Pinabacdao, Samar

Calbiga town undergoes ‘economic’ workshop

Tanauan skimmers rein in Surigao 3rd National Skimboarding fete

30,500 bags of NFA rice delivered to Samar

Army soldiers reach out to uphill barangays through medical-dental mission

Tarangnan police collars murder suspect who eluded arrest for 19 years

Samar lady solon fulfills inaugural address promise on health through sponsoring the training of Botika ng Bayan operators

Will CPP-NPA respondents show up for March 24 hearing by Judge Abarquez?


8th ID releases P147,600 for Balik-Baril Program

May 27, 2008

Balik-baril program of the armyCATBALOGAN CITY, Samar  –  The 8th Infantry Division (8th ID) Philippine Army (PA) here at Camp Lukban released cash amounting to P147,600 for the Balik-Baril Program during the flag ceremony today.

Brig. General Allan Ragpala, 8ID General Officer-in-charge, gave out symbolic checks to some seven recipients which the cashier later on changed to cash witnessed by the Catbalogan and Tacloban media.

Edwin Comendador from Brgy. Tag-abaca, Leyte, Leyte topped the amount received at P36,300 as he surrendered three M16 Rifles; Rolando Ballermo also from the same place got P 21,000 with one M16 rifle and one carbine; Andres Cañete a self confessed NPA supporter from Brgy. Consuegra, Leyte, Leyte got P18,300 while Juan Bazarte (Brgy. Tapol, Leyte, Leyte), Felipe Daclitan (Brgy. Tag-abaca, Leyte, Leyte), Juanito Nuguit (Oras, Eastern Samar) and Amado Mantabote had P18,000 each for one M16 rifle they surrendered.

Nuguit also known as Ka Benig said he would give the amount to his children in equal parts. He said he has neglected his children when he joined the “kagiusan” and that it is but proper they receive the cash assistance.

Andres Maglinte meanwhile said that the amount would surely assist him in purchasing farm implements. He confessed that though the NPAs did not explicitly threaten him when he received letters asking for money, he would immediately be scared and readily sends them his hard-earned cash. The M16 rifle he surrendered was left under his care.

BGen. Ragpala in his speech said that the Balik-Baril program was temporarily suspended for some time as the Oplan Balik-Tanim became the alternative livelihood project. He added that the Balik-Baril encourages insurgents to return to the folds of the law wherein the rebel returnee may use the amount to start his life anew.

He also said that the government is facing the insurgency problem with a holistic approach wherein government agencies synchronize their assistance into one package to provide socio-economic assistance “for the reconciliation, reintegration, and rehabilitation of former rebels into mainstream society.”

The general urged the RRs to use the money in any lawful-income generating activity that could bring benefits to their families. He also urged them to encourage their former comrades to return to the government.





Army dies not in combat but in a vehicular accident

May 27, 2008

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar  –  An army element of the 34th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army died not in combat but in  a vehicular accident.

On May 21 at midnight, the army and other peers were on board a 6x6 army truck while traversing the Philippine Pyrites Corporation (PPC) - Bagacay Road en route to their Calbiga camp, when it tripped and fell to a 17m-deep ravine.

Earlier reports claim that the accident took place in the Wright-Taft Road.

DPWH-Samar Maintenance Engineer Nestor Mate belied the report saying that the accident took place somewhere in Bagacay but not in the highway.

Mate added that when DPWH Samar received the information, he was immediately dispatched to the area, where he mobiled to the Wright-Taft road to verify the information.

As he did not find anything unusual, he tried to talk to some residents from Barangay Bagacay, it was then, he said when an unidentified army sought his help to extricate the army truck still in the ravine, but not in the highway.

EC De Luna, contractor of the on-going Samar Road rehabilitation reportedly does not also have the equipment to disengage the ill fated army truck.

According to information from some army officials, nine others have been injured and are undergoing treatment at the Camp Lukban Hospital, this city.

Identity of the fatality could not be revealed yet as the family has to be informed first before the name is made public.





Solid Waste Management Board approves privatization of garbage collection in Catarman

By AILENE N. DIAZ (PIA Northern Samar)
May 27, 2008

CATARMAN, Northern Samar  –  In a move to make the Catarman garbage collection more efficient, the town’s Solid Waste and Management Board (SWMB) approved the privatization of garbage collection.

Catarman Mayor Alita Rosales, who presided the meeting calling for the privatization of garbage collection said that the implementation of Republic Act 9003 is long overdue.  She also feels embarrassed that the problem on waste management is weak and needs the cooperation of everyone.

Observers say that this move by the Board and the local government unit through Mayor Rosales is a major step in regulating solid waste collection and disposal system.  Garbage collection is a perennial problem in this capital town of the province.

The privatization contract would be operational for five (5) years and could be renewed at the option of both contracting parties.  It is also stipulated in the contract that the Contractor will provide the equipment and manpower while the Municipality will be responsible in providing the amount of P310,000 per barangay per year. Such payment will be on a monthly basis.

It is also stated in the contract that there will be suspension, cancellation and termination of the contract once a violation is made or if there is nonperformance on the part of the contractor.

The municipality of Catarman, through the efforts of Mayor Rosales has from time to time encouraged the 22 poblacion barangays to do their share in garbage segregation and to strictly implement Republic Act 9003. She has likewise urged them to put up a Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) which will help a lot in recycling the town’s collected garbage.





Rebel returnee declares: IRA is the milking cow of rebels

May 25, 2008

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar  –  A rebel returnee whose name can not be divulged due to security reasons told the Catbalogan media that the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) has become the source of income for rebels especially in remote barangays.

During the mass surrender of more than a hundred NPA supporters at the Libanan Gym in Oras town on May 20, 2008, Ka Benig was interviewed by the Catbalogan media.

As the media huddled with ‘Ka Benig’ a rebel returnee, he said that the rebels find the barangay IRA easy to milk. The rebels have all the time to put pressure on the remote barangays for fear of their lives.

The barangay folks themselves, added Ka Benig feel the difficulty of ‘liquidating’ the amount and have to resort to fraud just to be able to give money as ‘tax’.

Benig suggested that the barangay IRA should be placed with the municipalities or rather be removed. Unlike before, he said when the barangays do not have IRA, the rebels were “hungry”. If he had his way, Ka Benig said he would really propose that Barangay IRA be quashed.

This rebel returnee said he was recruited on the promise that his kids would be sent to school and his family assured of a decent livelihood.

Although Ka Benig was not a combatant, he was in charge of recruitment and education of new members in the ‘movement’. He was pursued by the army and has narrowly escaped a face to face encounter with the elements of the 14th IB.

He surrendered and wrote a letter of resignation to the ‘kagiusan’ when he said he could no longer bear the deception employed by the rebels in recruitment.

As this developed, a treasurer of another barangay was said to be abducted for failure of delivering a promised cut from the IRA.





Samar Barangay SK seeks exemption from NSTP

May 25, 2008

SK's Meet the Press in Payao, Catbalogan CityCATBALOGAN CITY, Samar  –  Barangay Payao (Catbalogan City, Samar) Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) seeks exemption from the National Service Training Program (NSTP) in college.

The SK group told the media during a “Meet with the Press” segment of the celebration of Linggo ng Kabataan in the barangay.

Barangay Payao Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) filed Resolution Number 001 dated December 30, 2007 seeking exemption from the said subject in college.

The SK cited that the NSTP is taken one whole year while the SK does volunteer work for their entire term that lasts up to three years.

As to activities, both programs involve volunteer work in cleanliness drive, tree planting, attending  leadership trainings, drug abuse symposium and out-reach programs, said Erma Diocton, SK council member of  Payao, Catbalogan City.

First year college students are required to choose for a year of  NSTP where one chooses from Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC), Literacy Training Service (LTS) and the Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) as stated in Executive Order 579.

The exemption from NSTP, says SK Chairman Bem Casiño would give them more time to assist their fellow youth in productive activities that will push for further participation, advancement of their rights and assisting the barangay council in their projects in the barangay.





Oras Mayor vows to provide livelihood assistance to identified NPA supporters that surrendered

May 23, 2008

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar  –  Oras, Eastern Samar town Mayor Neil Alvarez vowed to provide livelihood assistance to NPA supporters that surrendered en masse at the Libanan Gym in Oras town on May 20, 2008.

Mayor Neil Alvarez of Oras, Eastern Samar
Mayor Neil Alvarez

Facilitated by the 14th (Avenger) Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Jose Matias, based in Barangay Dao, more than a hundred barangay folks from eight hinterland barangays trooped to the town proper to execute affidavits and swear to side with the “legal nga pangobyernuhan” (state government).

As they were interviewed by the Catbalogan media, some said they were coerced and threatened with their lives, if they would not support the “kagiusan” (NPA movement) by means of allotting rice from the little that they have.

Others claimed though that they came ‘in compliance’ to the invitation of the army, though they really have nothing to do with NPAs.

“Ka Benig” a rebel returnee now advocating with the army for the people to rise up against his former comrades belied the claim that they are innocent civilians, in fact, he said, if he would be asked, he’d rather charge these supporters for rebellion.

The gathering instead had the masses execute affidavits to charge the identified NPAs for coercion, intimidation and the like. Documents were even translated by PNP Oras to ensure understanding of the charges.

Mayor Alvarez said that insurgency is one of his biggest headache in Oras town. He admits that this problem gets in the way in the total development of Oras.

Oras, a 4th class municipality is fighting against poverty through cooperativism that provides livelihood to countless unproductive Orasnons then.

Presently, Oras boasts of the presence of Oras Women Association (OWA) trained by DOST and TESDA and registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA). The group produces home made vinegar and manages a canteen patronized by employees of the Municipal hall and the public.

“There is no reason why Orasnons would feel unproductive, if they are just industrious,” the young chief executive added.

As Mayor for two terms, Alvarez said he focused his programs to education and livelihood. He then promised the masses to support them and provide whatever they need to live a peaceful life.





Fraternities, youth groups join hands for GK

By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
May 23, 2008

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte  –  Several active fraternal and youth organizations from this city are set to devote much of their time and energy not on street brawls but to sweat it out in building homes the Gawad Kalinga (GK) way.

Dr. Jerome Paler, the Couples for Christ (CFC)-GK provincial coordinator revealed that such a rare gathering will take place on Friday, May 23, at the Josefina II GK Village atop a mountain in barangay Combado, this city.

In an interview over DYDM the other day, Paler identified the fraternities and youth groups that are willing to join the activity as the Bel Amis, the Upsilonians, Apo, Tau Gamma, Alpha Kappa Rho, and the youth groups included Summer Breakers, Habagat, OLAP Youth, and Maayo (Maasin Youth Organization).

Talks are still ongoing for some other youth groups to participate in the house-building activity, called “Heroes’ Build”, Paler added.

The one-day build was one of the highlights of the 15th anniversary celebration of the CFC in Southern Leyte, which is scheduled on Sunday, May 25.

That day will be highlighted with a short parade in the morning, ending at the SJC Covered Court for the anniversary program, and a Holy Mass at one o’clock in the afternoon.

In the evening will be a free concert at the Capitol Sunken Garden featuring two popular bands, 6 Cyclemind and Gloc 9 entitled “Handog for GK in Southern Leyte.”

On Saturday, May 24, a “Paskilaban sa Mayo” will be held at the SJC Covered Court wherein all products coming from all GK sites in the province will be sold open to the public, like vegetables, camote crops, squash, fish, rice, vinegar and other farm produce.

Paler said the Southern Leyte GK has built around 1000 houses all throughout the province and it is still in the process of building more.  In fact, Smart Communications had signified to give 100 houses, while the 1,000 houses pledged by ANCOP Australia last year was on standby pending lot donations by concerned individuals.

The Josefina GK Village in barangay Combado was a one-hectare lot donated by the Zialcita family and would house an initial set of 60 dwellers, it was learned.

Still another highlight for this year’s 15th CFC-Southern Leyte anniversary was the holding of “Love One Another Basketball Olympics” at Abgao gym starting last Monday, May 19 until Friday, May 23.

At least six teams participated in the nocturnal games, to include GK-Sta. Rosa, GK-Combado, CFC-Abgao, Philhealth, SSS, and Cooperative Bank.

Awarding will be held Friday evening, with Princess Ryan, a second placer of the Celebrity Dance Challenge of ABS-CBN and a native of Maasin, as special guest, Paler said.





Rainbow Warrior blocks coal shipment in Philippines

Press Release
May 23, 2008

PAGBILAO, Quezon, Philippines  –  The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior today blocked coal shipments at the Pagbilao coal-fired power plant in Quezon province, 150 kilometers southwest of Manila to protest the impending expansion of the said plant.

The Rainbow Warrior anchored alongside the coal ship Medi Firenze unloading a cargo of coal at the Pagbilao plant's loading pier, and prevented a bigger shipment of coal – from the 223 meter vessel Sam John Spirit standing by to unload – from approaching.

A giant banner reading "Quit coal" the Rainbow Warrior's masts to drive home the message that the Philippine government should stop building and expanding harmful coal-fired power plants.

"Being one of the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, the Philippines should address climate change by immediately stopping the expansion and construction of new coal plants. The Philippines already produces 54% more power than it needs. We should invest in improving the power grid rather than expanding a coal plant that reduces our chances of preventing dangerous climate change," said Beau Baconguis, Campaign Manager of Greenpeace Southeast Asia from onboard the Rainbow Warrior.

Burning coal is the single biggest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and a major cause of climate change. Coal emits 29% more carbon per unit of energy than oil and 80% more than gas.  The Philippines, an archipelagic country, composed of more than 7,000 small islands has been identified as the nation most affected by climate impacts in 2006 by the NGO GermanWatch.

But Philippine communities are taking action, realizing that dirty energy is directly responsible for the impacts that ravage their homes and livelihoods. Upon the arrival of the Rainbow Warrior in the Philippines yesterday, the governor of Albay, the Philippine province most ravaged by storms and mudslides in recent memory, immediately declared his province a "no-coal zone".

"The Philippine government should take Albay's declaration as an urgent call to action against climate change. It is untenable to continue our dependence on coal given its increasing price in the market and the environmental impacts attached to it. Coal will actually exacerbate our energy insecurities," said Jasper Inventor, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "The Philippines should send a strong message to ASEAN countries to lead the way in phasing out the use of coal. Greenpeace is also calling on developed countries to provide assistance to developing countries like the Philippines in the fight to stop climate change."

Environment ministers from G8 countries are scheduled to meet from May 24 with climate change on top of their agenda. Greenpeace calls on G8 countries to take real action against climate change, deliver an Energy Revolution that makes coal the fuel of last resort.

The Rainbow Warrior is in the Philippines to spearhead the Greenpeace "Quit Coal Tour" in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The tour aims to promote solutions to stop climate change – an energy revolution away from the use of climate-damaging coal, and a massive shift to renewable energy.





NPA supporters filed cases against NPA atrocities

May 22, 2008

ORAS, Eastern Samar  –  An initial report of at least thirty nine criminal cases against NPA atrocities, as of May 20, 2008, have been filed in the office of Fiscal Raquel Khu at the Municipal Trial Court of Oras, Eastern Samar. The filing was done immediately after a public denouncement of support to the NPA terrorists were aired by one hundred ten (110) residents coming from the eight hinter barangays situated along the river lines of the same municipality.

Mass Signing of Affidavit against the NPA in Oras, Eastern Samar
Members of the army and local police collating the documents submitted by the complainants in a Mass Signing of Affidavit at the Libanan Gym in Oras during the May 20 Peace Forum.

In a peace forum conducted last May 20, 2008 at the Libanan Sports Center, the  residents from the Barangays of Cagtoog, Balingasag, Cagpili, Gamut, Rizal, Buntay, Bantang and Cadi-an, all of Oras, publicly aired their withdrawal of support against the NPA terrorists. They condemned the illegal recruitments, land grabbing, coercion, intimidation and summary killings of innocent civilians made by the elements of the New People’s Army operating in the areas of Oras, Jipapad, Arteche and San Policarpo.  Complaints on Robbery in Band and Robbery with Intimidation against Person were executed and filed. The execution of affidavits was assisted by police investigators assigned at the Municipal Police Station of Oras.

One of the sample cases filed was executed by a certain Marilyn Picardal, a resident of Barangay Gamut. Picardal alleged that a certain Dario Orosco, alias “Dayo or Feliz” introduced himself as an NPA member and extorted rice from her on several instances by means of force and intimidation. On the other hand, Mr. Fidel Lomuntad of Brgy. Balingasag narrated in his affidavit that a certain Angeles Belitor, with known aliases as “Ka Engkay, Ka Deling, Ka Dadang, and Ka Tina”, together with several armed men, presented themselves as members of the NPA and forcibly demanded an amount of Two Thousand Pesos (P 2,000.00).  A case for Robbery in Band against Belitor and several John Does was filed.

It was learned that the mass surrender of these supporters was a result of a series of massive information dissemination campaigns conducted last December 13, 2007 and January 9, 2008.  These assemblies were jointly initiated by the Philippine Army, led by Lt. Col. Jose P. Matias, the Commanding Officer of the 14th Infantry Battalion based in Brgy. Dao, Oras, Eastern Samar, the Philippine National Police, and the Local Government Units of Oras, Dolores and Can-avid. The residents were assured of the fullest security and livelihood support from these agencies. “Their effort to stop these NPA operations in their respective areas by means of withdrawing support will hasten community development and alleviate their living conditions”, LtCol. Matias was quoted in his closing message.

Meanwhile, Hon. Neil Alvarez, the Municipal Mayor of Oras, Eastern Samar was very appreciative of this development. He thanked the officers and men of the 14th IB, the PNP and other pro-government organizations for working hand in hand with his administration. He intends to fast track his commitment of support to his constituents by extending livelihood assistance in terms of cooperative developments in the different barangays.

As of press time, the police investigations and documentations are being hurried up to facilitate the filing of appropriate charges in court.

The filing of these cases is a major accomplishment for the 14th Infantry Battalion which will soon be celebrating its 35th Anniversary Celebration on May 28, 2008.





Region 8 wage board grants P10 COLA increase to wage workers

May 22, 2008

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board of Eastern Visayas announced the granting of a simplified increase of P10 Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) to all workers in the Region, whether in the agricultural or non-agricultural sector, who are receiving the minimum wage.

Region 8 Wage Board
DOLE-8 regional director Forter Puguon (right) and RTWPB secretary Florencio Aguilos (left) announced the P10 wage hike for workers in EV during a presscon held at DOLE regional office, Tacloban City, May 21.  (Photo by Vino R. Cuayzon)

The announcement of the Wage Order No. 15 was done at a press conference at the Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office 8, by DOLE 8 Director Forter Puguon, who is also the Chairman of the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board.

Director Puguon said that the Board reached the unanimous decision after extensive deliberations and after considering the views of both the employers sector and the workers sector.

On May 20, the RTWPB conducted a public hearing which lasted until early evening. The public hearing was attended by the employers and workers sectors, the academe, the media and all interested sectors. The public hearing was conducted after the required 15 days notice through publication.

After the public hearing, the Regional Wage Board conducted a marathon session and deliberated and weighed all the issues regarding the wage adjustment issue in the Region.

Director Puguon said that the increase was made in the COLA and not on the basic wage because if the increase is in the basic wage, there will be a ripple effect on the other monetary benefits like the overtime pay, 13th month pay, the social protection deductions like SSS, Philhealth and Pagibig.

Mr. Florencio Aguilos Jr., the Wage Board Secretary, informed that the wage order will immediately be sent today to the National Wages and Productivity Commission for confirmation.

If the Wage Commission finds it to be in order, the confirmation will be communicated to the Regional Tripartite and Productivity Board. When the Regional Wage Board receives the confirmation, the Wage Order will then be published.

The Wage Order will take effect 15 days after the publication, Mr. Aguilos said.

Further, the Regional Wage Board, on Tuesday night, also formulated the implementing rules for the Wage Order. The same will be sent to the National Wages and Productivity Commission for the approval of Labor Secretary Marianito Roque.

Director Puguoon said that the National Wages and Productivity Commission will give priority attention to the Wage Order and will act on it immediately. Hopefully, the Wage Order will take effect in June.





Fish hatchery to rise in Blanca Aurora, San Jorge

May 22, 2008

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar  –  In line with PGMA’s Hunger Mitigation Program in Eastern Visayas, the Samar Integrated Provincial Fish Hatchery will rise soon in Barangay Blanca Aurora, San Jorge, Samar.

This was relayed to PIA by Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Chief Rolando Ay-ay on Monday.

Ay-ay said that the LGU of San Jorge through Mayor Nancy Grey, National Agriculture and Fishery Council (NAF-C) BFAR central and BFAR Samar offices with the Office of the Provincial Agriculture and Governor Milagrosa Tan pooled resources to finance the project proposal penned by Ronnie Berida of the BFAR-Training Center.

Michael Ortiz, a resident of Blanca Aurora donated the 5 thousand square meter area where the hatchery will be located.

Construction of the facility, said Berida started in November of 2007 and may finish anytime soon.

There will be a 3-pond compartment, a building with training room with fixtures and furniture for the management team of the hatchery.

This hatchery is aimed at supplying fingerlings to Samar province and if possible, to the other two Samar provinces.

Presently, fisherfolks get their fingerlings from Babatngon in Leyte.

The project will help Samarnons cope up with the rising cost of food, said the BFAR officials.

Meanwhile, Rep Sharee Ann Tan on her own has been distributing tilapia fingerlings all over the second district of Samar to provide livelihood to her constituents.



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