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NPA escalates attacks in Samar town; 3 wounded

Senate enacts university status of NIT

Gov. Evardone shows supports to education with infra projects

PGMA visit to boost tourism in Sohoton, Basey

Leyte province mulls for an exclusive Leyte grid for power consumption

Defense chief pushes peace and order and disaster risk management linkages with LGUs

Samar mayor gunned down, died while being revived at the hospital

CBCP elects Archbishop of Palo as vice president

“Rescued” child soldier: Army’s fabricated story

Eastern Samar holds Bikathon against global warming





Human rights advocate priest killed

September 7, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  “We condemn the brutal killing of Fr. Cecilio Lucero, a Catholic priest, yesterday morning, September 6, 2009 in Sitio Fuente, Brgy. Layuhan, San Jose, Northern Samar, while on board a van. He was killed by unidentified men wearing ski masks and carrying high-powered rifles,” said Flor Chantal Eco, Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas’ Secretary-General in a statement today.

Fr. Lucero is a member of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) in Northern Samar and an active human rights advocate. He’s the parish priest of the Catholic Church in Catubig, Northern Samar and the Chairperson of the Social Action Center (SAC) of the Diocese of Catarman.

Before the incident, Fr. Lucero has already been receiving threats from the military and has observed that he’s under surveillance.

“It is clear that he was killed because of his involvement in human rights advocacy. Many farmers run to him to ask for assistance every time the military commits human rights violations,” Eco added.

She furthered that no one is to be blamed but the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime thru its counter-insurgency campaign, Oplan Bantay Laya 2 (OBL 2). As part of OBL 2, the government, thru the military, targets civilians suspected as supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA), members and leaders of legal democratic organizations and critics of the government.

“We call on the concerned authorities to conduct a real investigation that will truly prosecute the true perpetrators. A lot of Task Force has been formed in the region to investigate extrajudicial killings but not one has still been prosecuted. We also call on the people of Eastern Visayas to be vigilant in defending and promoting human rights. Our human rights will not be easily protected unless we are united fighting for it,” Eco concluded.

Reference:  Flor Chantal C. Eco, Secretary-General, Katungod-SB,





P3.9 billion tuition aid earmarked for 700,000 private high school students

By Office of Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas (1st District, Cebu)
September 8, 2009

QUEZON CITY  –  A total of P3.9 billion in new funding has been apportioned to subsidize the tuition of 703,318 students enrolled in private high schools, Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, an educator, disclosed Sunday.

Gullas said the amount, included in the proposed P1.541-trillion General Appropriations Act of 2010, forms part of the P172.8-billion new budget for the Department of Education (Deped).

He said the P3.9 billion is P200 million greater than this year’s P3.7 billion allotment for the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) Program, meant for 665,975 student-beneficiaries.

"This (P3.9 billion) implies that some 54 percent of all students enrolled in private high schools next year stand to benefit from the program," Gullas said.

He said GASTPE is being expanded to aggressively address the overcrowding of public high schools.

GASTPE has two components – the voucher system and the service contracting scheme.

In the voucher system, needy private high school students who apply would each get a P7,000-voucher that can then used to partly pay for tuition.

In large-scale service contracting with private institutions, the tuition of students would be subsidized at P5,000 each.

Other than the willingness of the student’s parents to pay for the rest of the tuition, GASTPE does not have any requirement.

"In a way, through GASTPE, the government is incidentally helping to prop up private high schools that continue to wobble from declining enrollment due to the rising cost of education," Gullas pointed out.

The Cebu lawmaker said the Deped’s 2010 budget also includes:

P2.1 billion to create 10,372 new teaching positions and hire an extra support staff of 4,351 for the public school system; P2.3 billion to construct, repair and rehabilitate 3,756 classrooms, 2,755 school water sanitation facilities, and science and Internet laboratories;

Another P1.6 billion to build 2,462 new classrooms for elementary and high schools in areas with severe shortages; and P500 million to reward 10,000 schools that have successfully adopted exceptional plans to raise the quality of instruction and learning.

The public school system is expected to support next year 13,607,517 and 5,754,477 students at the elementary and secondary levels, respectively, or a total of 19,361,994 enrollees.





Human rights priest killed in ambush, 2 others wounded in Northern Samar

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 7, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The Philippine National Police in Region 8 is now making a thorough investigation on the ambush killing in the morning of September 6, of Rev. Fr. Cecilio Pelito Lucero, the Parish Priest of Catubig, Northern Samar.

Fr. Lucero together with two companions, was on board his brown Toyota super custom van going to the direction of the Capital town Catarman, when about 30 unidentified men wearing bonnets and armed with high-power arms ambushed them at the National Highway, near the cemetery of Barangay Layuhan, San Jose town, spot report of Northern Samar PNP, furnished by the PNP Regional Office 8 through a request to PRO 8 Director Mario San Diego, stated.

Fr. Lucero, 48, younger brother of former Northern Samar Representative Wilmar Lucero, and Northern Samar Vice Governor Antonio Lucero, sustained multiple gunshot wounds in the body and in the head causing his instantaneous death.

Fr. Lucero who is a well known human rights advocate, being the chairman of the Human Rights Desk-Social Action Center of the Diocese of Catarman, was brought to a hospital where he was pronounced dead and was autopsied by the doctors. His remains now lie in state at the Catarman Cathedral.

His companion, a civilian identified as Isidro Miras, sustained gunshot wounds in the body and in the head. A public utility jeep passenger, Jose Aguda, 17, of Rosario town also sustained a gunshot wound on his left foot. Both victims were brought to the hospital for medical treatment.

Reports stated that Police escort PO2 Bation managed to fire back at the attackers which prompted the armed men to scamper in different directions.

PNP Provincial Director, Police Senior Superintendent Mejos was reported to have immediately responded by going to the crime scene together with the operatives of the San Jose Police, to conduct police operations and investigation.

The PNP spot report said that the attackers are at large and the motive has not been established or remains unknown.

The PNP Northern Samar spot report indicated that Fr. Lucero and his companions were from Allen and on their way to Catarman when the incident happened.  Unconfirmed reports, however, said that Fr. Lucero came from Capul Island and was on his way back to Catubig when the ambush occurred.

From Allen, a traveler has to pass by the towns of Lavezares, Rosario, San Jose and Bobon before reaching Catarman.  From Catarman, a commuter has to pass by three municipalities before reaching the interior town of Catubig, 66.7km away from Catarman.





NPA raids Basey CAFGU detachment; at least 10 HPRs taken

Press Release
By Arnulfo Ortiz Command, New People's Army-Western
September 4, 2009

The Arnulfo Ortiz Command of the New People's Army in Western Samar today acknowledged that its Red fighters successfully raided a military detachment in Brgy. Cancaiyas, Basey last August 30. "The NPA raided the detachment of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit at around 4:00 a.m. and controlled it after a short battle," said Ka Vicente Magbuhat, AOC spokesperson. "Initial reports indicate that the NPA were able to confiscate at least 10 high-powered rifles: four M16 rifles, four M14 rifles and two carbines. A radio transceiver was also seized. We are still awaiting the official report because the number of weapons taken could be higher."

The AOC spokesperson also dismissed the military's allegations of heavy NPA casualties as sour-graping to cover up their embarrassing defeat. "The Red fighters were able to withdraw safely without any casualties. As per media reports, there were two CAFGUs wounded in action, Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) Mario Q. Sabido and CAA Enerasis F. Guevara. Meanwhile, the other CAFGUs abandoned their posts and fled for their lives when the battle commenced."

Ka Vicente Magbuhat hailed the NPA's victory in Basey as the latest in a string of guerrilla offensives to crush the Arroyo government's Oplan Bantay Laya. "Many NPA offensives are subject to news blackout by the 8th Infantry Division because these expose the sham of government victory by 2010. For example, harassment operations by the NPA killed a soldier in Brgy. Nawe, Paranas last March 16, and another soldier in Brgy. Calundan, San Jorge on March 25. Two sniping operations last May 23 in Brgy. Bay-ang, San Jorge also killed five soldiers, two of whom were identified as Pfc. Malinao and Pfc. Aleman. There were no NPA casualties in any of these offensive operations."

The spokesperson of the Arnulfo Ortiz Command also called on the soldiers, police and paramilitary to surrender immediately when under attack by the NPA rather than sacrifice their lives needlessly. "It is not worth it to die for a corrupt president like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Moreover, the NPA always gives government forces a chance to surrender, and treats captured or wounded enemy personnel leniently in accordance with international humanitarian law. The people and the NPA are united in defeating Oplan Bantay Laya and in ousting the greedy, brutal and puppet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The soldiers should consider their options rather than allow themselves to be cannon fodder for Arroyo and her equally corrupt generals."

Related News:  Army launches hot pursuit operations vs NPA rebels





DBM Secretary graces inauguration of Procurement Service Depot in Region 8

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 7, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Budget Secretary Rolando G. Andaya, Jr., is expected to grace the formal inauguration and blessing of the new building of the Procurement Service Depot in Region, which is located adjacent to the DBM-Region 8 Building.

DBM Region 8 Director Imelda Laceras informed that several Central Office Officials and other regional officials are also expected to attend the September 24, 2009 inauguration of the new PS Depot building.

The thanksgiving mass will start at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon with Rev. Msgr. Ramon A. Aguilos, Rev. Father Ronel Taboso and Rev. Father Erlito A. Maraya concelebrating.

The Ribbon Cutting and Unveiling of the Marker of the new building will be done by the Honorable DBM Secretary together with Atty. Estanislao C. Granados, Jr., the PS-DBM Executive Director, PA for Eastern Visayas Cynthia Nierras, DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, DBM Secretary Evelyn Guerrero, RDC 8 Chairman Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, Col. Arnaldo F. Fernandez Jr., who is the commander of the 53rd Engineer  Brigade of the Philippine Army, and the governors of the 6 provinces in Eastern Visayas.

Col. Arnaldo Fernandez and Lt. Col. Krestofel A. Kiamco, commander of the 546 Engineer Battalion in Borongan, Eastern Samar will turn over the keys of the building to Atty. Granados and Director Laceras after which,  the Message of the Keynote Speaker Secretary Andaya will take place.

The Regional Procurement Service Depot (PS Depot) was opened in the Region in connection with the government objective to centralize government procurement pursuant to RA 9184 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The Regional Procurement Service depot operates as the center where all transactions related to procurement of supplies and equipment needed in every government agency will be facilitated. Every year, all the national government agencies in the region are to furnish DBM 8 with the list of the usual supplies and equipment requirements to enable the agency to determine the stocking requirement for the Regional Procurement Service Depot.

Section 63 of RA 9184 provides for the organization of a Government Procurement Policy Board to protect national interest in all matters affecting public procurement, having due regard to the country's regional and international obligations, to formulate and amend whenever necessary the IRR and the corresponding standard forms for procurement, to ensure that Procuring Entities regularly conduct procurement training programs and prepare procurement operations manual for all offices and agencies of government and to conduct an annual review of this Act and recommend any amendments thereto as maybe necessary.

In addition to the powers granted under this Act, the GPPB shall absorb all the powers, functions and responsibilities of the Procurement Policy Board created under Executive Order No. 359, series of 1989. All affected functions of the Infrastructure Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority Board are hereby transferred to the GPPB.

The GPPB shall be composed of the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, as Chairman, the Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority, as Alternate Chairman, with the following as Members: the Secretaries of the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Finance, Trade and Industry, Health, National Defense, Education, Interior and Local Government, Science and Technology, Transportation and Communications, and Energy, or their duly authorized representatives and a representative from the private sector to be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the GPPB. The GPPB may invite a representative from the Commission on Audit to serve as a resource person.





PGMA declares Sept 7 and 21 as non-working holidays

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 6, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Two non-working holidays await the Filipino people this month of September. The first is on September 7 while the other is on September 21.

September 7 has been declared as a National Day of Mourning on the burial of Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Erano “Ka Erdy” Manalo, who died of cardio-pulmonary arrest on Monday, August 31, 2009.

President Arroyo also directed that all flags must be flown half-mast on Monday on the interment of the INC leader whose remains lie in state at the Central Temple of the INC at Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

Reports stated that he will be buried in the tabernacle near the Church group’s Central Temple while awaiting the completion of the construction of a mausoleum where his remains will eventually be transferred.

The said mausoleum will be built near the monument of the late (INC founder) Brother Felix Manalo, also within the grounds of the Iglesia ni Cristo Central Complex, the statement read.

On the other hand, President Arroyo declared September 21 as a non-working holiday in commemoration of Eid’l Fithr or the end of Ramadan.

This is provided by law as it is listed as one of the holidays stated in Presidential Proclamation 1869.

The implementation of RA 9177 was placed under the Office of Muslim Affairs which was tasked to promulgate rules and regulations pursuant to the provisions of the said Act.

The main date for the celebration of Eid'l Fitr this year has been determined to fall on September 21.

In order to bring the religious and cultural significance of the Eid'l Fitr to the fore of national consciousness, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo deemed it necessary to declare September 21, 2009 as regular holiday throughout the country.

The celebration of Eid'l Fitr in Islam carries a "distinctive meaning and spirit as compared to other cultures." According to Islamic website, Muslims normally start each day of the three-day festival by "taking a bath and wearing their best clothes."

While Muslim families unite in simple gatherings, it is a prayer that brings them together "to remember Allah's bounties and celebrate His Glory and Greatness."

The about seven million Filipino Muslims take the occasion as an opportunity to do charity and good deeds. The feast is not an occasion to take a vacation from Islamic responsibilities and commitments or to waste time and money in extravagance.

It is a chance to multiply good deeds by bringing happiness and pleasure to the hearts of other Muslims by helping and supporting the poor and needy, and by getting involved in pastimes that emphasize the strong and serious Islamic character.

Before the day of Eid, during the last few days of Ramadan, each Muslim family gives a determined amount as a donation to the poor. This donation is of actual food to ensure that the needy can have a holiday meal and participate in the celebration. This donation is known as Sadaqah al-Fitr (charity of fast-breaking).

Eid'l Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal, the month that follows Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. It is a time to give to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy.





Eastern Visayas is still National Achievement Test top achiever

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 5, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Eastern Visayas Regions is still number one top achiever in the National Achievement Test. This means that the students in Region 8 continue to move towards mastery in English, Mathematics, Science, Filipino and HEKASI.

This happy news was gathered through a phone patch with the exultant Department of Education Region 8 Director Sol F. Matugas who said that the awarding ceremonies and the press conference of the 2009 NAT Top Achievers at the Pearl Hall, SEAMEO INNOTECH Regional Center, Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, have just been over.

Eastern Visayas shared the limelight with Region 3 and CARAGA regions. Director Matugas said that for purposes of the awarding, the DepEd Divisions have been divided into three clusters, the big regions including Region 3 are in Cluster 1, then there is Cluster 2 where Region 8 belongs and Cluster 3 or the small regions where CARAGA Region belongs to.

There are other citations like the most improved region, the Region where the student with highest score belongs, and many others, which Director Matugas couldn’t identify as of press time because of excitement and happiness.

With her in jubilation were DepEd Division Superintendent for Southern Leyte, Dr. Violeta Alocilja and Division Superintendent Thelma Quitalig of Northern Samar.

Eastern Visayas has been consistently topping the NAT, an annual examination used to determine public school students’ achievement level, strengths and weaknesses in key subject areas.

The result of the 2009 NAT means that the students in Region 8 continue to move towards mastery in English, Mathematics, Science, Filipino and HEKASI, Director Matugas disclosed.

Among the findings in the result of the 2009 NAT is that public school students performed better than the private school students. Another finding is that rural schools showed higher mastery than urban schools.

Moreover, the results of the 2009 NAT showed that more students of public schools are moving towards mastery while private school students have average mastery level.

Generally, the 2009 NAT results show that there is an increasing or improving trend in the achievement levels of excellence.

Asked her the secret formula in topping NAT consistently ever since she became the DepEd Regional Director in Eastern Visayas, Director Matugas said that her formula is strong partnership with all the education stakeholders; effective leadership at all levels, from the region to division to district and to schools; hiring of quality teachers; and a shared vision of Excellence in education.

The good director will leave a great legacy of consistently leading Region 8 toward topping the NAT from the time she came up to the time she left Region 8, as she is retiring in October.





Project BEN in 3 Eastern Samar towns obtain praises from village chiefs

September 5, 2009

MERCEDES, Eastern Samar  –  The Community Outreach Development Program (CODP), a recently launched program under the ongoing Barangay Empowerment Network (Project BEN), has received lauds and praises from barangay officials and residents of Lawaan, Mercedes and Balangiga towns during the projects’ visits to these three towns.

Provincial road rehab in Eastern Samar
Provincial roads in various parts of Eastern Samar province undergoes rehabilitation such as this provincial roads in Brgy. Guinmaayohan in Balangiga.

CODP, a joint venture between the provincial government, national government agencies and the Local Government Units (LGUs), includes distribution of Philhealth cards, rice packs, toothpastes, toothbrushes and sports equipment. These commodities are personally being delivered and handed to barangay officials and residents by Governor Ben P. Evardone.

Also highlighting the barangay visits of the governor is the turn-over of the P20,000 provincial assistance to every barangay in Eastern Samar.

Punong Barangay Maria Escalo of Brgy. Guinmaayohan, Balangiga, expressed thanks to the governor for not only giving her barangay and constituents basic services but by improving the provincial road to their barangay. Recently, the barangay, 12 kilometers from the national highway, was inaccessible due to bad road condition but was acted upon immediately by the governor after an ocular visit in the area.

Froilan Macapugas, village chief of Bulosao, Lawaan, noted that the visit of the governor to their barangay is very historic as it is the first time a governor made such kind of visit bringing with services intended not just for few but for every family in his barangay.

Norberto Macapugas, Punong Barangay of Brgy. San Jose, Mercedes town, said that his barangay is appreciative for the personal visit of the governor. “Not only that our barangay was visited for the first time by a governor but he brought with him goods for every one of us,” Macapugas said.

Meanwhile, most barangays who received their respective financial assistance will use the amount for sanitary and water projects. Mayor Viscuso De Lira said that he is glad his barangay officials have seen the needs of their constituency.

Governor Evardone said that the choice of projects of the barangay chiefs is a sign that barangay officials are already seeing the importance of seeing after the needs of their people.

Previously, the governor also visited the towns of Quinapondan, Salcedo and San Policarpo. He is set to visit all towns of the province before the year ends as part of Project BEN. Mayor Nida Gabornes of Lawaan said that Project BEN is an obvious gesture of the governor to truly reach out to his people.





Pacada is new provincial police director of Southern Leyte

By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
September 5, 2009

MAASIN CITY  –  The provincial command of the Philippine National Police (PNP) based in this city has a new leader.

Effective September 1, 2009, PNP SSupt. Pepito Pacada has taken over the leadership of the provincial police force vice PSSupt. Nilo Donayre, who took over the Ormoc City Police Station in turn-over rites on Friday, it was learned.

The turn-over ceremony for the helm of the Southern Leyte PNP was held September 1 at the provincial headquarters, also known as Camp Ruperto Kangleon PNP Command.

Monching Buyser, a roving Police reporter of DYDM, reported that the outgoing top cop was emotional in his farewell speech, saying he will always treasure his 14 years of service in the province, for it is during his assignment here that he rose from the ranks.

Sources familiar with turn-over of Police officers said it has been a standard operating procedure to reshuffle key personnel after two years of service in a particular locality.

Donayre’s latest stint in the province started in May, 2007, shortly before the elections, it was learned.

As to the new provincial PNP director, before his coming into the province, PSSupt. Pacada headed the Regional Personnel and Human Resource Doctrine Development (RPHRDD) at the Regional PNP Office, where he had also served as R1 for administration, it was learned.

He also had a brief tour of duty as PNP chief of Samar and Tarlac, the source added.

Among those who graced the change of command was Gov. Damian Mercado, who called on the PNP to take care of the peace and order situation in the province and nurture its reputation as the most peaceful province in Region 8.





Chiz lauds Senate ratification of Anti-torture Bill

By Office of Sen. Chiz Escudero
September 4, 2009

PASAY CITY  –  Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero on Wednesday lauded the Senate ratification of the reconciled version on the anti-torture bill, saying it is a landmark piece of legislation that will alleviate the deplorable state of human rights in the country.

“This is victory against human rights violators. Torture is to be abhorred. Torturers should be put away for life," said the 39-year old lawmaker who steered the passage of the measure in the Senate as chair of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

“I urge our House colleagues to do the same. This is one measure which all of us can be proud of,” Escudero said.

Last week, the Senate-House Bicameral Conference Committee reconciled the two versions of the anti-torture bill, which seeks to penalize perpetrators of the act, particularly persons in authority or those acting on their behalf.

It penalizes all forms of torture, be it physical, mental, psychological and pharmacological, which is done through the administration of drugs.

Aside from criminalizing torture, Escudero said the bill prohibits the use of “secret detention centers” by state authorities.

If passed into law, State authorities such as the police and the military are required to submit to the Commission on Human Rights a list of all their detention centers on a monthly basis.

“No more secret or clandestine hideouts or holding areas where torture is most of the time performed,” he said.

The senator added that perpetrators of torture including their superiors face a maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. Other penalties range from a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 12 years depending on the gravity of the offense.

The bill also includes provisions for the protection of complainants and witnesses and persons involved in the prosecution, and the establishment of a rehabilitation program for victims.

Under the bill, no justification can be offered to justify torture and other inhuman punishments, which will be declared as criminal acts.





Coast Guard allays fears of oil spill with tanker still aground off Padre Burgos shallow reef

By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
September 3, 2009

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte  –  An officer of the local Coast Guard station here assured the public not to worry over an impending oil spill feared caused by a stranded sea-plying tanker when it hit off the shallow reefs in Padre Burgos town early Saturday morning.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Office Michael Romero said over DYDM’s “Pamahaw Balita” Wednesday morning anchored by Jade Nombrado that the 190-ton MT Shirley Ann, which carried 230,000 liters of automotive diesel oil, was “double bottom, double hull” on its undersides which makes it strong enough to prevent the possibility of an oil spill.

Reports said the tanker, which is owned by South Pole Corp. of Zamboanga City, was on its way to Loreto town in Dinagat Island when it left the Petron depot in Mandaue City around 4 in the afternoon of Friday, August 28.

On reaching Tangkaan Point in barangay Tangkaan, Padre Burgos by about midnight, the tanker’s main engine had trouble, forcing its skipper Patron William Wong, to drop anchor, but rough seas and strong winds drifted the vessel until it rammed a reef by about 12.30 early Saturday morning.

Earlier attempts to tow the grounded tanker failed because of turbulent seas, it was learned.

Romero told Nombrado during the live interview Wednesday morning that two strategies have been considered to rescue the tanker: one is by reducing its thousands of liters of cargo, and the other is to wait for the highest tide, which is on Friday, at 1.7 meters 11:00 in the morning.

He also said that an oil spill boom is arriving this afternoon from Petron-Ormoc to further secure the perimeters around the stranded tanker.

In a follow-up call at the Coast Guard office, Petty Officer First Class Domingo Jalandoon told PIA the boom would act as a precautionary measure in the event an oil spill happens, preventing it from spreading in the sea-waters around.

Asked on the updates of the tilted vessel off San Ricardo port, which is now more than a month since the accident happened, Jalandoon said it was already surveyed.  There were no other details.

He said there was no oil spill in the San Ricardo case.





Evacuees return to their homes, CHR de Lima probes violations and visits Lumad school

Press Release
September 2, 2009

SURIGAO DEL SUR  –  The 1,700 Manobo lumads finally returned to their homes on August 30 accompanied by Commission on Human Rights chair Leila de Lima, local officials led by provincial administrator Johnny Pimentel, and 200 contingents of the Task Force Surigao National Solidarity Mission led by Gabriela Women's Party Representative Luz Ilagan and AnakPawis Representative Joel Maglunsod.

CHR chair Leila de Lima in SurigaoThe contingent joined the lumads to see their safety upon their return and to see that the troops from the 58th IB complied with the pullout from the communities. Some residents complained that their houses were looted of their properties.

In the community of Han-ayan (18 kilometers from the national highway in Diatagon), De Lima visited the Alcadev High School to personally see the school that was alleged by the 58th IB as a school training rebels and is not recognized by the Department of Education. The visit dispelled those issues as the chair was impressed with the farm projects and modules.

De Lima arrived in Tandag on August 29 to probe the complaints of the lumads. He had a dialogue with Pimentel and visited the lumads at the Diocese Pastoral Center.  The CHR chair interviewed victims on how they were being recruited to the paramilitary Bagani Force.  The lumads were assisted by their lawyer Atty. Antonio Azarcon, IBP President of Surigao del Sur.

Atty. Leila de Lima was accompanied by Tandag CHR Seldio Pilongo and several CHR staff members.

After a month-and-a-half of staying in evacuation centers, the lumads were able to return home after efforts by Higala sa mga Bakwit and members of the mission convinced the AFP’s 401st Brigade to withdraw troops in the communities.





Chiz to gov’t: Act quickly to prevent fuel spill off Leyte

By Office of Sen. Chiz Escudero
September 2, 2009

PASAY CITY  –  Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday called on concerned government agencies to ensure that a tanker stranded near a marine sanctuary in the town of Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte is towed safely to harbor before anything untoward happens to its deadly cargo.

The 196.28-ton MT Shirly Ann was on its way to Dinagat Island with a cargo of 230,000 liters of diesel fuel from a depot in Mandaue, Cebu when its engines suddenly stopped in the early hours of August 29 in the waters near Padre Burgos.

After dropping anchor, strong winds and currents drove the ship to a barrier reef in shallow waters, according to a report by Marina (Maritime Industry Authority).

“The coastal and marine resources of the province and nearby provinces as well as families that depend on fishing in the area for their livelihood could be at risk should a typhoon suddenly hit the area,” the 39-year-old senator said.

An attempt by a tugboat to tow the Shirly Ann away from the marine sanctuary failed, the Marina said.

“Should the tanker’s owners decide to transfer its cargo to another vessel, the authorities must monitor the procedures so that there won’t be any spillage,” Escudero said.

“Let us learn from the lesson of MV Solar 1,” he added.

MV Solar 1 sank off Guimaras Island in stormy seas on August 11, 2006, spilling 2.1 million liters of industrial bunker oil that polluted 235 kilometers of coastline and causing extensive damage to the marine life in the area.

It also affected almost 8,000 families and nearly 40,000 people in 59 barangays in three municipalities in Guimaras and 479 hectares of mangroves as well as 38 other barangays in three other provinces.



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