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Historic opportunity to stop climate chaos squandered in Copenhagen

GAB boxing chief credits U.S. docs for Gorres’ immediate recovery

3LPHED Congress in Eastern Samar held

PGMA, dignitaries attend 65th Leyte Gulf Landing, 10 oldest war veterans honored

Gov. Evardone, East Samar province to join relief operations for Luzon calamity victims

Unreturned after 108 years, clamor for Balangiga Bells resounds

Pop vocalist wows Samar beer aficionados

Human rights advocate priest killed

NPA escalates attacks in Samar town; 3 wounded

Senate enacts university status of NIT





One rebel slain in encounter

By Office of the Division Public Affairs, 8ID
January 17, 2010

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City  –  One NPA bandit was killed and two were wounded while a government trooper was slightly injured in an encounter in a remote village in Oras, Eastern Samar Wednesday at around 7:00 O’clock in the morning.

The unidentified body of an NPA member killed during the encounter.

Lt. Colonel Armand Rico, Chief DPAO, 8th Infantry Division, based in Catbalogan City, said that the wounded soldier, identified as Pfc Ramon Estico, is now in stable condition and recuperating.

The said encounter, the first in the area for this year, took place in sitio Tugop, Barangay Rizal, some 26 kms away from the town proper.

Lt. Col. Rico said that one of the 10 rebels belonging to SECOM, North East, Eastern Samar Provincial Party Committee, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee was killed while two others sustained injuries during the 30 minutes firefight that also resulted in the government troops from the 14th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Antonio Dayag recovering one M16 rifle bearing serial number 135108, one rifle grenade, two back packs, one bandoler, three with full of ammunition, medical kit, one detonating cord with blasting cap,  and personal belongings.

“The wounded rebels were dragged by their escaping comrades”, the information officer of the 8th ID said.

“Our soldiers, under Lt. Antonio Dayag, were in the area as part of their community work”, Rico said.

Major General Arthur Tabaquero, commanding general of the division, immediately directed for the troops of the 14th IB, under Lt. Col. Jaime Hidalgo, to hunt down the rebels and intensify security operations in the area.





Largest Gathering of Independent Muslim Religious Leaders Set to Kick-off in Davao

By Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy
January 13, 2010

The largest gathering of independent ulama, Muslim religious leaders, will be held on January 25-29, 2010 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City, for the 3rd National Ulama Summit and Regional Conference of Aleemat, or women Islamic scholars. Organized by the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) for the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP), the gathering will be attended by around 500 independent ulama and aleemat representing over 200 ulama led organizations, an unprecedented assembly of Muslim religious leaders rarely seen in the country.

The NUCP is a broad aggrupation that includes the majority of all independent ulama organization and federations throughout the country. Its members include some of the most respected Muslim religious leaders and imminent Islamic scholars coming from the five Muslim provinces and the various Muslim communities throughout the nation. According to Amina Rasul, PCID lead convenor, “In today’s world, society demands a wider and more participative role of the ulama that they get involved directly in the transformation or reformation process.”

Dr. Aboulkhair Tarason, an imminent religious leader and NUCP interim chairman said that the summit is a culmination of the NUCP’s organizational evolution into a national network of independent ulama leaders and organizations. The NUCP interim vice chairman, Dr. Hamid Barra, a respected Islamic scholar said that the ulama has a traditional and religious ascendant role of continuing to be the moral beacon for the Muslim faithful. Muslim Mindanao has been in the media eye following the Maguindanao massacre and the spate of kidnappings attributed to the Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan and Sulu and still reels from a decades-old secessionist conflict between the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and government troops. The conflict has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians and has killed thousands since it started in the 70s.

However, despite numbering in the thousands, the aleem, singular for ulama, has never really been organized into a religious collective similar to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), or at least into a national network. Although some ulama are enlisted in peace-building efforts these are mostly through government-sponsored peace initiatives. Trailblazing where others have failed, the NUCP nears the goal of organizing a truly national network of independent ulama and aleemat organizations.

The five-day summit is a culmination of a series of summits and regional forums the NUCP has conducted last year. The interim NUCP board will likewise elect its regular members during the summit.

The event is supported by the British and Dutch embassies, The Asia Foundation and the Japan Foundation.





Catbalogan police doubles up effort as election period starts

January 12, 2010

CATBALOGAN CITY  –  Catbalogan City police doubles up efforts in maintaining peace and order in Samar’s capital city as election period started Sunday, January 10, 2010.

Catbalogan City Police stationIn an interview with Catbalogan City police Chief Superintendent Joseph N. Pensotes, he said that they have established two checkpoints on Sunday, in Barangay Silanga and Barangay Socorro.

He also added that they have operations like Operation Kapkap on Sunday night though it yielded only bladed weapons.

Operation Kapkap, Pensotes said will be done in areas where the PNP thinks is necessary.

Further, his men said Pensotes,”are ready and on call for 24 hours.”

As to the checkpoints, Pensotes maintained that no bodily search will be done, it shall be that the police will be on the look-out for dubious personalities in plain view.

“The city of Catbalogan is not listed as an area of concern, but just the same, my men are on alert and ready for any eventuality,” said the chief who replaced Supt. Ramil Ramirez not so long ago yet.

Presently, Catbalogan projects a peaceful and orderly city albeit with the usual drunkenness and petty crimes perpetrated by minors that are readily resolved in time.

Pensotes urged his ‘kababayans’ not to indulge in heated discussions as to the merits of their candidates but to remain calm in political discussions.

Finally, the chief of police of the capital city of Samar assured the city populace of the commitment of his men to maintain peace and order this election period and even beyond their call of duty.  (PIA-Samar)





Close to P10M infra projects fund support given to 3 Leyte towns, villages

By Provincial Media Relations Center
January 11, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Close to P10 million in financial assistance was recently downloaded by the provincial government of Leyte to speed up various infrastructure development projects in three towns and several villages.

The financial assistance went to the towns of Burauen, Alangalang and Sta. Fe while the rest were to a number of villages of Burauen and Pastrana in Leyte’s second district.

The ongoing New Public Market rehabilitation in Burauen town was given P3 million in financial assistance as counterpart fund of this multi-million infrastructure, a priority project of incumbent Mayor Fe Renomeron.

According to the lady mayor rehabilitation of their public market will expand the town public market, making it more presentable and provide more spaces for additional occupants.

Rehab of the town market is also seen to complement the completion of the Burauen-Albuera road that would connect Leyte’s second biggest town to Ormoc City in the western side of the province. If the road would finally be open to traffic and transportation, more business and economic is seen to ensue in Burauen town.

Sta. Fe’s farm-to-market road project under the Infrastructure for Rural Productivity Enhancement Sector (InFRES) program of the Department of Agriculture was also given P2 million financial support from the provincial government of Leyte.

InFRES project was intended to remove constraints to agricultural productivity by investing in rural infrastructure in regions with high poverty incidence and high agricultural potential. Its immediate objectives are to remove the constraints to the improvement of agricultural productivity caused by the lack or inadequacy of rural infrastructure, and to reduce rural poverty by increasing agricultural productivity and profitability.

For Alangalang town, Mayor Loreto Yu recently received the amount of P1.5 million financial support from the province for a farm to market road project in Brgy. Veteranos.

Mayor Yu said, the attendant objective to this farm to market road project rural infrastructures is to increase agricultural productivity and help decrease poverty incidence in the identified area.

In the recent Icot-Icot ha Barangay made by Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla in Pastrana, Leyte – his first barangay visits this 2010, the governor released at least P1.5 million in financial assistance to 14 villages in Pastrana.

The fund support are for various infrastructure projects that include multi-purpose halls, barangay road concreting, day care center, basketball courts, drainage system, concrete fencing and basketball courts. The said projects are all structures seen to bolster the various barangay facilities.

In the same visit, the governor also downloaded financial assistance amounting to P2.4 million to 28 barangays in Burauen, Leyte.

With a total of 77 barangays, the governor advised the rest of the Burauen barangays to await their respective funding during the year with the province’s budget being allocated accordingly for the numerous resolutions asking for the same assistance being sent by the barangays to the provincial government.





Candidates seeking security urged to seek permit from Joint Regional Security Control Desk

January 6, 2010

CATBALOGAN CITY  –  The Philippine National Police (PNP) Samar Director Pancho Adelberto Hubilla announced in a press conference attended by the Samar media that candidates seeking security personnel from the PNP or the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should seek permission from the Joint Regional Security Control Desk (JRSCD).

PNP Samar director Hubilla

The PNP said that the JRSCD is headed by the COMELEC Regional Director and that the PNP and AFP are members.

Comelec Provincial Supervisor, Atty Corazon Montallana, who was also a panellist in Monday’s presscon confirmed Hubilla’s announcements and added some more information as to the preparation for the incoming elections.

Montallana added that starting January 10, said to be the start of the election period, until June 9, 2010 total gun ban will also be imposed.

She also cited that despite exemptions for PNP personnel and other security providing agencies the same people should also seek prior permission in writing.

Hubilla likewise offered that PNP and AFP personnel carrying firearms must be in uniform, while those that do not wear uniform like PDEA or NBI must display their IDs conspicuously.

There are at least 30 government agencies that are authorized to bear firearms but they too have to submit the list of their personnel authorized to bear firearms.

Reacting to the question as to who may seek security from among the candidates, Hubilla informed that only mayoralty candidates and up.

He qualified though that some candidates requesting security could be given once they have assessed the situation surrounding the threat and are convinced of the veracity of the claim.

During the election period, all PNP chiefs will be under the command of the Comelec.

Campaign period for local positions start on March 26, 2010, COMELEC said.  (PIA-Samar)





Leyte mayors meet COA on pre-audit

By Provincial Media Relations Center
January 6, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Local chief executives belonging to the League of Municipalities - Leyte Chapter (LMP-Leyte) had their briefing with the Commission on Audit regarding the restoration and reinforcement of the pre-audit of select government transactions that started towards the latter half of 2009.

The pre-audit, which scrutinizes transactions before funds are released and recorded in the government’s books, was discontinued in 1995. It was entrusted to internal auditors who are employees of the agency they examine.  COA auditors were restricted to post-audit work.

According to LMP-Leyte President Tanauan Mayor Roque Tiu, the mayors themselves through the provincial government, had requested the COA officers assigned to the province to enlighten them on the pre-audit process.

“Our mayors have many questions particularly in the payments of infrastructure projects and salary payments of employees. These are concerns which the LGUs have to deal with more often than other transactions, that is why we, together with the rest of the mayors of Leyte, needed to be briefed of,” Mayor Tiu said during the special LMP forum with COA officials.

In her presentation, COA officer Aracelli Go explained that subject to pre-audit are cash advances except those for payroll, intelligence funds, petty cash funds and those given for local travel expenses of officers and employees, first and last salary payments and terminal leave benefits of government workers, advanced payment and the first and last progress billings of contracts for infrastructure projects, payment for road right of way, procurement of government assets, goods and services, payments made through automatic debit service, release to nongovernmental organizations and people organizations, transfer of funds between and among government agencies, releases from trust funds of local government units and disposal of government property.

The pre-audit, it was learned, applies to certain transactions of select national government agencies, local government units and government-owned and controlled corporations. National high schools, barangays and state corporations audited under the team approach are exempt from pre-audit.

COA Supervising Auditor Rosabella Tan said it was restoring the practice of pre-audit to ensure that transaction is “not illegal, irregular, excessive, unconscionable or unnecessary”

Prior to the LMP forum held Wednesday, several local chief executives lamented that the pre-audit requirement can become more of a hassle than help and can be prone to another systemic government flaw and could be a huge blow against the government efforts to deliver quick and efficient service.

However, Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla, who was also present during the forum, said he is in favor of the restoration of the pre-audit to “protect the LGUs from unforeseen liabilities in the future.”

“With the pre-audit, mayors can be sure that their transaction followed the required process and are deemed proper as per COA rules,” Gov. Petilla said.





Alleged failure of military and PNP to protect civilians: an unfair statement

Press Release
By Office of the Division Public Affairs, 8ID PA
December 26, 2009

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar  –  Failure of military and PNP to protect civilians as quoted from Sen. Chiz Escudero’s statement in his interview over the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) which was published as “Top Story” in a December 4-10 issue of Bullhorn newspaper is an unfair sweeping statement.

Said statement was aired relative to the issue of Maguindanao massacre wherein the Ampatuans are accused of killing almost 60 people including some of the local media practitioners.

Bullhorn’s title carrier, “Military and PNP failed to protect civilians” in their early December issue is misleading and irresponsible considering that Sen. Escudero was only referring to Maguindanao.

The AFP as always is focused on its mandated task of protecting the lives and even the properties of the people.  As professional organization, proofs were already been noted in its various traditional and non-traditional role of performing its mandate.

The incident in Maguindanao could not be blamed against the AFP.  Although it was one of the most brutal election-related atrocities ever recorded, it was an isolated instance that should not be compared to other areas where peace is dominated thru the AFP.  Moreover, the incident is politically-motivated.

Sen. Escudero is right when he said, “If you are not a soldier or personnel in uniform, you have no business carrying a gun” because no civilian must possess any kind of firearms without proper authority.  The AFP is firm to implement such especially to terrorist-infested areas.

In Eastern Visayas and in other areas covered by the 8th Infantry Division, the Internal Security Operations (ISO) is properly carried out.  With the intensive collaboration of other stakeholders, numbers of illegally armed groups/rebels are notably decreasing due to the Army’s successful implementation of its campaign against internal threats.

Successive encounters against the rebels and private armed groups that freed our local settlers were successfully carried out by the Army for the past years.  This is manifested by the support spearheaded by the local government and other peoples’ organizations who are contented with the service of the 8ID troopers.

This resulted to the downgrade of enemy’s guerilla fronts in Leyte and Samar provinces that declined the enemy’s affectation in the whole region.  Two more guerilla fronts are expected to downgrade for this quarter.

The effective implementation of ISO in Central Visayas should be taken into consideration.  Cebuanos and Boholanos are now experiencing the result of having insurgent-free provinces where development is really atop.

Luzon should also be considered since the socio-economic zone from Metropolitan Manila is now extended up to the provinces of CALABARZON and in Bulacan due to degradation of terrorist rebels thru the success of the AFP’s campaign.  The AFP is generally winning the battle against the rebellious group for the sake of the people.

This sweeping statement depicting the futility of the AFP in its fight against the depressive group for the sake of our people is no longer new.  The AFP’s name has always been implicated in controversies in order to defame and destroy its nobility. 

Although it cannot be denied that while the AFP is striving to bring forth the desired liberty of our people, there are some who are disinterested to the real aspirations of the AFP for their personal interest.  The AFP is firm with their mandate of protecting our people for the benefit of the majority.





Senate OKs bill empowering persons with disabilities in LGUs

Press Release
By Office of Sen. Pia S. Cayetano
December 26, 2009

PASAY CITY  –  Senator Pia S. Cayetano has welcomed the passage by the Senate of a proposed measure which seeks to give a voice in local governance to the country’s estimated 9.7 million persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Senate Bill No.3560, otherwise known as “An Act establishing the institutional mechanism to ensure the implementation of programs and services for persons with disabilities in every province, city and municipality,” the measure was approved unanimously on second reading by the Senate on December 16 before going on a four-week recess.

Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development and the bill’s principal sponsor, said Senate Bill No.3560 mandates the creation of a “Persons with Disability Affairs Office” (PDAO) in every province, city and municipality.

In the case of fourth, fifth and sixth class municipalities, the bill calls on LGUs to designate a “Focal Person” who shall be responsible for coordinating and ensuring the delivery of programs and services for PWDs. Priority in appointment should be given to a PWD with experience in providing services to his or her fellow PWDs.

The measure also renames the term, “disabled persons” into “persons with disabilities” – the internationally accepted and recognized term for people who are either: 1) hearing impaired; 2) orthopedically impaired; 3) visually impaired; and 4) mentally challenged.

Cayetano said several Filipinos with disabilities have proven they can stand out despite their physical limitations. “Disabilities should never be a hindrance to excel in one’s chosen field. By being assets in society, many PWDs are breaking barriers and changing the misimpression that they are a burden to the nation.”

In her sponsorship speech, Cayetano cited several outstanding PWDs, and more can follow with enough support at the local government level:

Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, whose polio did not prevent her from serving her province mates, a 2008 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for government service;

Roselle Ambubuyog, visually impaired student from Ateneo who graduated Summa Cum Laude and now heads a number of foundations for the blind while acting as consultant for a US firm that develops new products for the blind;

Ana Kristina Arce, 23-year-old hearing impaired student who is the first to graduate magna cum laude from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde;

Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, visually impaired Filipino-American lawyer who is presently the Vice-Chairman of United States Pres. Barack Obama’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities; and

Adeline “Ads” Dumapong-Ancheta, the first Filipina Paralympics medalist who won the bronze medal in powerlifting in the 2000 Paralympics, and has recently gone to swimming despite having no legs below the knee and no right hand.

“Passing Senate Bill 3560 is a step towards the right path. Establishing these institutional mechanisms would ensure that the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons will now be implemented and thus helping our brothers and sisters living with disabilities in their rehabilitation, self-development, and self-reliance and for their eventual integration into the mainstream of society,” Cayetano stressed.

Other coauthors of the measure are Senators Loren Legarda, Lito Lapid, Miriam Defesor-Santiago, Edgardo Angara, Manny Villar, Antonio Trillanes IV, Mar Roxas, Bong Revilla and Alan Peter Cayetano.





Prov’l capitol employees to receive P22,500 additional bonus

By Provincial Media Relations Center
December 23, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Employees of the Leyte provincial government will receive higher additional cash gifts this Christmas in the amount of P22,500.

Announcement of the amount for the extra cash gift was the most awaited part during the Provincial Christmas Party for the more than 2,000 capitol employees.

Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla made the announcement himself and provided too a breakdown of the total P22, 500 to be received by regular and casual employees.

The provincial government have allotted P5,000 plain bonus for each of the around 2,000 employees, another P5,000 under the Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) and another P12,500 under the collective negotiation agreement or (CNA) making the bonus P22,500 in all.

Job-order employees would also receive P5,000 as cash incentive this December.

Gov. Petilla said the P5,000 plain bonus and P5,000 PEI combined can be doubled the amount under the “Double-your-money Program” of the provincial government wherein the amount, if not taken or collected this time, would double in May next year that could be intended to shoulder school tuition fees of children.

Employees can also opt to have the amount enrolled in the “Triple-your-money Program” wherein the P10,000, if not immediately taken now, would grow three-fold in case the employee gets sick or encounters any emergency be it related to health or properties.

Gov. Petilla otherwise discouraged the employees from selling their bonuses for them to have extra budget to be spent during the holiday celebration.

The provincial government has allotted at least P50 million for this extra cash gift this year.

State workers of the capitol expect to receive the amount before December 24.





Army troops gains over ISO campaign

Press Release
By Office of the Division Public Affairs, 8ID PA
December 21, 2009

ORAS, Eastern Samar  –  The Army’s 14th Infantry Battalion encountered anew against the terrorist New Peoples Army in Sitio Bagti, Brgy. Mabini, Basey, Samar around 2 p.m. last Saturday.

Reports reaching to this headquarters disclosed that the said encounter transpired in response to civilian information that some armed men were conducting extortion activities in aforesaid sitio.

In order to confirm the report, a squad size under 1Lt Del Rosario were sent out by the said battalion wherein more than 15 members of local terrorist group (LTG) were caught resting at forested area within the proximities of the reported sitio after conducting extortion activity.

Firefight ensued for almost 10 minutes that forced the LTG to flee bringing along with them their wounded buddies while one soldier was slightly wounded, Private First Class Jonel Doron who is now in stable condition.

One Caliber 30 caliber rifle, three combat packs, volume of subversive documents and personal belongings were some of the articles recovered after the group of Lt Del Rosario scoured the scene of encounter.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Armand Rico, spokesperson of 8th Infantry Division said that the Commander, 8ID Major General Arthur Tabaquero has conveyed his appreciation with the successful implementation of their ISO campaign even before the end of this year.

Lt. Col. Rico said that Gen. Tabaquero salutes with the sacrifices of his soldiers who are in the “frontline” of the campaign fearlessly fore-fronting the risk just to maintain the peace in their respective areas.

“This is a manifestation that our people’s minds are already aware with the true score of the communist rebels operating in their area.  The series of encounters of their troops against the rebels due to the people’s report proves that our people are already acting for their cause”, said Rico.

Rico added that, “The long deprived peace and progress will soon be achieved because no less than the people itself wants the terrorist to be completely eliminated in the region”



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