Your latest news happening from here at home and abroad
news 352


more news...

Two Eastern Samareños honored for BNS work

Gandara-Matuguinao Road Project ground breaking ceremony

AFP Chief of Staff commends the 8ID Command’s successful engagement with the Civil Society Organizations and the LGUs

P32B for AFP Modernization Program continues to flow this year says Oban

Who is the real evil?

The military is using SIPPAD to rubber-stamp Oplan Bayanihan

Leyte SP to hear anew proposed Leyte-Mindanao power grid sharing project

ANAD oppose nomination of Diokno and Tañada as next Ombudsman

NDF-EV urges Gov. Nicart to support the peace talks at the national level

NDF-EV slams 8th ID's US-funded “road to war”





Majority Bloc justifies no-show, no-quorum and change of venue of scheduled SP’s regular sessions in Calbayog City

August 3, 2011

CATBALOGAN CITY  –  The internal rules of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Samar provide that its regular sessions will be held every Thursday of the week at exactly 10:00 in the morning at the Provincial Capitol Building, Catbalogan City.

However, for almost a year now, the usual scene on Thursdays at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Session Hall could either be a no-show, a no-quorum or a change of venue for these scheduled sessions.

“These Board Members have been remiss of their duties and responsibilities. It’s quite disappointing that they are getting paid regularly, yet they do not deliver what is expected of them”, are just a few of the adverse reactions that is being heard from Samar constituents who hope that these Board Members would stop politicking, forget their own interests and start working for the people who have given them the mandate to serve.

For quite a time, the majority bloc who are mostly coming from the 1st District of Samar, were blamed, but they remained silent. However, in a regular session held recently, the legislators from the opposition have broke their silence calling for the Samarnons to listen to what they consider are the real circumstances.

Hon. Jasper Sumagang, in a formal motion, manifested for the holding of the succeeding August 4 regular session in Calbayog City. He cited as its legal basis, the Internal Rules of the Legislative Council that allows the transfer of venue of the next session for as long as it is agreed upon by the Body and it will be within the jurisdictional area of any of the two Legislative Districts in Samar.

On the other hand, Hon. Eunice Babalcon’s defense dwells on the practicality issue when Hon. Juan Latorre demanded for the citing of a factual reason for the transfer of the session’s venue and jokingly manifested that the next session after Calbayog City be held in Daram.

“We know that there is a legal basis, but, what about practicality? That should be what is supposed to be raised by Hon. Latorre, the practicality of going to Calbayog City considering that it has distance, a relative distance from Catbalogan City. But, nonetheless, Mr. Chair, may I just tell you that notwithstanding that this representation has been deprived of their fuel allowance, gasoline allowances and other members are being given their fuel allocations, their casual allocations and all other perks of the Sagguniang Panlalawigan, I will go there to Calbayog City to support that proposed resolution because we know for a fact that it is our duty to bring the government closer to our people” explains Babalcon.

Hon. Conejos revealed that since the assumption of the Tans, they have been deprived of their fuel allowances, cellphone cards, office supplies and traveling allowances. Conejos explained that such funds are provided in the Miscellaneous and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) for every department and the office of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is not exempted from such provision.

“Even if the budget is reenacted, there is that MOOE where our privileges can be sourced out, but they are the ones who control the signing and they are doing it purposely to satisfy their whims and caprices,” affirms Conejos.

“May I ask you, what makes Hon Latorre or Soza or Nacario distinct from any of the members in the council? They get brand new vehicles, di ba? Why are they so privileged? Tama gad liwat hiya nga you should not feed your enemies, but they are the ones who declared that we are enemies. We never declared that we are enemies. Mayda la kami mga differences because that’s part of democracy.” was Hon. Babalcon’s adverse reaction to Hon. Latorre’s quick statement in one of the media ambush interviews, saying “Why feed the enemies?”

Hon. Sermense even commented to Hon. Latorre’s note as uncalled for and an uncivilized one. “That is political cannibalism”, says Sermense.

An inquiry into the budget allocations for the Sanggunaing Panlalawigan would show that even under a reenacted budget, items were provided for fuel, cell card, travel and salaries/wages for the staff of each and every Board Member. However, the majority claims that they have not been receiving any of those privileges since July 2010. The wages of their staff are likewise provided in the 2010 budget. All other pro-administration Board members continue to receive checks for their supplies and travels. A total amount of P2.8 million for traveling allowances was disclosed.

Once and for all, the majority Board members reminded the Tans that the Provincial Budget is not only for the administration allies.

“The Provincial Budget contains public money. Public Office is a public trust and all these offices emanate from the people. All these money are sourced from people’s taxes. Thus, all government authority emanates from the people. If you will check on the budget allocations, it is intended for the Office of the Governor, Office of the Vice Governor, Office of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan., etc. It is intended for the offices concerned and not just for one person” justifies Conejos.

Hopefully, the Samarnons who are mostly affected by the growing feud between these two factions are expecting that both camps would finally discuss and settle these indifferences soon, for the interest of the constituents whom they have vowed to serve.





New 19IB chief vows to sustain peace, development efforts in Leyte

By 19th Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
August 3, 2011

KANANGA, Leyte  –  The newly installed commanding officer of the 19th Infantry (Commando) Battalion here vowed Sunday, July 31, 2011 to push further efforts in order to sustain peace and development in Northern Leyte.

Lt. Col. Francis B. Cabugon who assumed as the new commanding officer of 19IB believes that cooperation or “bayanihan” with stakeholders particularly the local government will address insurgency problems in this part of the province.

As peace advocate, Lt. Col. Cabugon stated that he will look into facilitating government projects for the communities within its area of operation. He is confident that community development will compel the rebels to abandon armed struggle against the government.

“We will be battling not only insurgency but also poverty. Let us take part on the delivery of the government’s basic services in order to uplift the lives of the people, the subject of our profession”, Cabugon deliberately stressed.

Lt. Col. Cabugon earned admiration from the local government and civil society groups for successfully implementing several programs under “Oplan Bayanihan” during his eight months stint as battalion commander of 46IB, the Mindanao based unit of the 8th Infantry Division.

Among his astounding accomplishment were the recoveries of crew served weapons and ammunitions, improvised explosive devise (IED) neutralization of members of Private Armed Group (PAG) and apprehension of a bomber expert, local contact of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

He effectively implemented the “Oplan Bayanihan” which resulted to the creation of Task Force “Isulan” that restores the peace and stability and uplift the economy of the capital town of Sultan Kudarat province. Likewise, he established informal peace dialogues with local MILF and MNLF leaders in the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat that creates a peaceful environment that attracts investors such as Del Monte Philippines banana plantation in Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao.

Likewise, he conceptualized “Oplan Karunungan” which handed over 14,750 text books to the pupils students in MILF registered communities.

Accordingly, Cabugon will focus on training and maintaining standard of discipline of 19IB soldiers. Further he ordered his troops to always and strictly observe human rights in order to enhance the people’s trust and confidence towards the AFP.

“Insurgency is a war of masses. Whoever wins the masses, wins the war. In order to ‘win the peace’, we need credible soldiers that is loved by the people and a responsive Army that will track down the remnants of CPP-NPA-NDF“, the good Lt. Col. Cabugon concluded.





PPUR Vote Campaign intensified

August 2, 2011

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region 8 together with other concerned government agencies intensifies the promotion campaign for the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) as one of the world’s seven wonders of nature.

President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Presidential Proclamation No. 182 on June 3, 2011, declaring a national and international promotion campaign for the PPUR as one of the new seven wonders of nature.

The said proclamation designates the Secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as Chairperson,  the Secretary of Tourism as Vice Chairperson, as well as the DENR and other line agencies and private sector as members of the Campaign Task Force to vigorously promote and push for the proclamation of the PPUR among the new seven wonders of nature.

As member agency, DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje has directed all the employees and clientele in the regional and field offices of the DENR throughout the country to vote for PPUR through text or email.

DENR 8 Regional Executive Director Rogelio T. Trinidad exhorts all internet users and mobile phone subscribers in region 8 and even abroad to vote by texting PPUR15 and send to 2861 for all globe, smart and sun cellular subscribers.  Voting by phone can be made every day until November 10 this year.  Internet users can log on to to vote by email.

“As a matter of national pride and patriotism we should all support the campaign to ensure that PPUR is proclaimed as one of the new seven wonders of nature” RED Trinidad stressed.

The 8.2 kilometer long PPUR formed 30 million years ago, is considered the longest underground river in the world, with unique and outstanding scientific, biological and geological features that merited its being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1999 and being declared as  National Geological Monument in December 2003.

From an initial list of over 400 locations around the world, the PPUR is the lone finalist from the Philippines and now counts among the top 14 of the 28 official finalist candidates, selected by a panel of international experts from a list of 77 contenders via the first round of global voting from 2007 to 2010.

Inclusion of the PPUR in the list of 28 official finalist candidates has made PPUR world-renowned and is starting to attract international interest that will benefit the Philippine tourism industry as a whole with its synergistic effects.

So, vote PPUR as the world’s new seven wonders now! Visit





DILG mobilizes its RIOs to heighten PPUR N7WN campaign among LGUs

By DILG Office of Public Affairs
August 1, 2011

PUERTO PRINCESA  –  The Department of the Interior and Local Government has mobilized its 16 Regional Information Officers (RIOs) to enjoin and heighten the various local government units’ awareness in the government’s campaign to vote for the Puerto Princesa Underground River as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature (PPUR N7WN).

DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo said the DILG RIOs and other public information officers under the agency will be responsible in coordinating with the governors, city and municipal mayors, and the barangay chairmen in their areas of jurisdiction to prop up the campaign.

“We have to intensify and bring to the various LGU levels the PPUR N7WN campaign which will boost the country’s tourism industry and national pride. To achieve this, I need the help of all local chief executives, including the DILG RIOs and PIOs by bringing the campaign down to the masses,” the DILG Secretary said.

At least 20 DILG RIOs and PIOs under the guidance of Assistant Secretary Bob Gutierrez and DILG Office of Public Affairs chief Feliciano Regis recently underwent a three-day seminar workshop and visit to the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan aimed to craft new strategies and approaches on how to improve further the campaign and rally the local chief executives and their constituents to support it.

Initially, the RIOs and PIOs agreed to do the rounds in various local radio stations and community papers to promote the PPUR N7WN campaign; make efforts to provide official campaign tarpaulins in every LGUs in their respective regions; encourage local chief executives to launch the text campaign “PPUR send to 2861” during their flag-raising ceremonies; and actively participate and promote the campaign among barangay officials during their national assembly to be held on the third Saturday of October this year.

The N7WN is an international polling campaign which was started in 2007 by an independent Swiss-based government-controlled foundation in an effort to identify new seven new wonders of the world – a new marketing program that would provide huge economic, social and tourism-related benefits to the winning bidder country.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan is 8.2 kilometers long and was formed by nature more than 20 million years ago. Initially, the PPUR is one of the 400 locations chosen to become one of the N7WN. Being a world-renowned tourist destination, it has now reached the 7th place from among 28 other qualified candidates vying for the N7WN.

Filipinos living in the Philippines and abroad are being encouraged to support and join the country’s bid to include PPUR as one of the N7WN by voting via text message “PPUR send to 2861” or thru the Internet by logging on to

The campaign is being spearheaded by the DILG with Robredo as Task Force chairman and is being supported by the Departments of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, Education, Budget and Management, Transportation and Communication, Labor and Employment, Foreign Affairs, Commission on Higher Education, Philippine Information Agency and six other private sector representatives led by Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn.

In Eastern Visayas, DILG's PPUR campaign kicked off with a simultaneous text voting and showing of an audio-visual presentation for participants of the Tapatan Roadshow on the Full Disclosure Policy last July 14. The Association of Government Information Officers (AGIO-8) under the auspices of the Philippine Information Agency in their meeting last July 25 conducted the same activity in support of the campaign.

Many LGUs in the region have responded to a regional memorandum of DILG Director Francisco C. Jose enjoining the display of tarpaulins and streamers, enactment of resolutions of support from local sanggunians, as well as integration of the campaign in various LGU activities. DILG seeks to ramp up activities to mobilize popular support across the nation for PPUR's bid as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.  (DILG-8)





AO mandates all gov’t agencies to use e-procurement system

Press Release
August 1, 2011

MALACAÑANG  –  President Benigno S. Aquino III has issued an administrative order mandating all government agencies to use the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) in all their procurement activities, including the publication of all bid opportunities, notices, awards and contracts, in accordance with the country’s procurement laws.

By virtue of Administrative Order (AO) No. 17, signed by the President on July 28, government offices are directed to source all their common-use supplies directly from the Procurement Service (PS) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) or from its regional depots throughout the country, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Monday.

“This administration reiterates the policy that procurement of government supplies, materials, and equipment shall be done in the most and transparent and competitive manner” Ochoa said.

Ensuring transparency and competition, Ochoa stressed, are keys to protecting the procurement system from graft, as these two elements discourage attempts to rig the bidding and awarding process to favor particular suppliers.

Common-use supplies refer to office supplies like bond paper, ballpens, pencils, and ink, which eat up about P19.5 billion of the government’s annual spending package.

“With a centralized supply purchasing system, the budget department has estimated that the government stands to save as much as P6 billion a year,” Ochoa said.

According to Ochoa, PhilGEPS, which can be accessed online at, provides relevant information on all procurement activities, and will help accelerate and further facilitate the entire procurement process in all government agencies. At present, the system already has 53,382 registered suppliers.

The AO applies to all national government agencies, including military and police Units; government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs); government financial institutions (GFIs); state universities and colleges (SUCs); and local government units (LGUs), Ochoa said.

In the past, only the national government agencies, including SUCs, GOCCs and their subsidiaries, were mandated to use the PS system. However, upon the enactment of RA 9184, LGUs are now required to use PS or PhilGEPS.

The presidential issuance also calls for a periodic evaluation of all procuring entities, and this includes the regular holding of procurement training programs and distribution of procurement operations manual for all offices and agencies of the government.





SP disapproves Samar’s Annual Investment Plan for CY 2011 due to procedural lapses

July 31, 2011

CATBALOGAN CITY  –  The majority bloc of the Sangguninag Panlalawigan in the province of Samar remains firm in its stand to safeguard people’s money by carefully scrutinizing the budget items of the Annual Budget of the province for CY 2011 which was submitted to the Office of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for review and by ensuring that the budget preparatory phase and procedures are strictly complied with in consonance with the provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991.

In a regular session held at the Provincial Capitol Building last July 28, 2011, the Body unanimously passed a resolution calling for the disapproval of the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) of the Province of Samar for CY 2011.

The decision came after the adverse findings and recommendations on the AIP by the Joint Committee on Laws and Legal Matters and Finance and Appropriations were presented by Hon. Eunice Babalcon to the plenary.

Babalcon, who chairs the Committee on Laws and Legal Matters, explains that based on a series of deliberations on the AIP at the committee level, the said document suffers from legal infirmity for three specific valid reasons.

First, the Provincial Development Council Meetings held on several occasions were not duly constituted for it lacked the required quorum, says the report. The PDC that is supposed to be convened by the Governor is composed of 24 municipalities and 2 cities and 2 legislative districts and other government organizations and NGOs/POs in the province, which are supposed to be accredited by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Secondly, neither of the records of the proceedings of the said PDC meetings revealed that the AIP of Samar for CY 2011 was thoroughly deliberated upon nor approved by the majority of the entire membership of the Provincial Development Council. On the approval date of the said AIP, there were only ten (10) out of the twenty (26) mayors who were in attendance. However, it was learned that six of these mayor-attendees are mere representatives and has no legal personality to become signatories of the AIP. The failure to constitute a quorum affects the legitimacy or validity in constituting the PDC and approving the AIP.

Third, the question on the proper accreditation of the members of the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and People’s Organizations (POs) was also raised. Babalcon said that both Committees have requested from the PDC Secretariat for a complete List of Accredited NGOs and POs in Samar as well as its corresponding accreditation documents, but nothing has been heard of the said list as of this date.

“So, how can we say that it was legitimately convened when the membership and quorum are questionable? Allegedly, an already prepared AIP is presented during the PDC meetings and attendees were just made to affix their signatures for conformity. So, we feel that it did not really emanate from the Local Government Units and are not reflective of the priority programs desired by their respective constituents. These are the items submitted to the Province for possible funding for the current year. Most often, favored municipalities get more projects and bigger fund allocations. We want that there should be participation. Without the rightful members present, apparently this factor is lacking”, Babalcon elaborates.

Likewise, she mentioned that NGO/PO representatives are not duly accredited, so the legitimacy of their affixed signatures is dubious. The Committee Chair on Laws and Legal Matters suspects that for purposes of filling-up the PDC membership, they would just invite NGOs/POs representatives whose legal personality as members are not clear and those who would willingly concur with what has been prepared.

“We’re talking here of the Annual Investment Plan alone which is a vital requirement in the approval of the Annual Budget. We have to ensure that the AIP is in order because these are the specific projects which will be funded by the 20% development fund. So, we suggested that the same AIP be returned to the LCE for them to reconvene the Provincial Development Council and see to it that it will be participated by the supposed to be legitimate members of the Council. These are the reasons that the AIP fell short of the three grounds that we discovered”, adds Hon. Noel Sermense, Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Appropriations.

Meanwhile, Hon. Charlito Coñejos said they would monitor the PDC’s compliance with the procedures. “The AIP has been amended for three times by the Secretariat. For several times, they made changes on the AIP despite a questionable quorum. If this has been agreed upon by the PDC during a meeting, the amendments should be made there. I feel the propriety of returning this AIP to the LCE and ensure that the Mayors, not just representatives, are physically present so that the priorities are properly and effectively identified. We would like to prevent wastage of funds and ghost projects thru proper accounting to be able to check at the end of the year what has been accomplished. Accredited NGOs and POs should likewise be invited as members” was Coñejos concurrence to the Committee findings.

Initial findings on the entries/items in the AIP include double funding, unspecific details of the programs, entries on social services are blank and not specified with no expected outputs. The AIP appears to be a mere list of projects with no specific details as to the amounts and exact locations of project implementation. A few of the items in the AIP were deleted because records would show that the same projects have already been funded by the LGUs.

Samar Board Member Eunice Babalcon
Board Member Eunice Babalcon

“It is the desire of the governor”, was the ready answer of the PDC Secretariat when made to explain on these observations during the Committee hearings, says Hon. Babalcon.

In effect, the Annual Budget for CY 2011 cannot be included yet in the agenda, not until the AIP will be resolved. The AIP is basic. It has to be resubmitted to the SP and will be again referred to the committees if the requirements are already complied. We will not approve/disapprove the budget. Inasmuch as it is still pending, the budget cannot be treated yet.

“If we approve the 2011 budget, it would mean that our 2010 Annual Budget is already moot and academic. They already have placed zero balance in the 2011 budget which means that they already assumed that the 2010 budget are already spent. The approval of the 2011 budget would mean an admission that we lost in this legal battle. If we win and there are no more funds, they will be held liable” explains Hon. Jasper Sumagang on the issue.

Presently, the Province of Samar is operating on a 2010 budget that continues to be legally challenged in court.

It may be recalled that on August 26, 2010, the Annual Budget for CY 2010 was allegedly railroaded by passing the Appropriation Ordinance despite a non-quorum with only five (5) out of the thirteen (13) legitimate members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan affixing their signatures. The same ordinance was approved by Gov. Sharee Ann T. Delos Santos at 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon of the same day. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been issued by the Courts in response to the petition made by the majority bloc. However, the same TRO was overturned by another TRO that made the budget controversy more complicated.

Whether or not, the province is operating on a valid and legal 2010 Annual Budget is yet to be determined by the courts.

“But, you have to take note that the governor’s budget message says, ‘I will persist until I succeed!’ so she must be very persistent enough to do everything in her power”, says Hon. Babalcon with a reminder made to each and every Samarnon to learn from the past lessons and be more vigilant in safeguarding people’s money. For the majority bloc, the fight against corruption will be their personal fight.





NDFP Consultant released from jail

July 28, 2011

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Last July 25, 2011 at around 4:00 in the afternoon, National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Jaime Soledad was released from the Leyte Provincial Jail after exactly 40 months of detention.

It can be recalled that Soledad was arrested on a Maundy Thursday, March 25, 2008 after being served with a Warrant of Arrest with the name of Satur Ocampo on the document at Bacoor Cavite.

The release was made after both the Prosecutors of Hilongos and Manila filed a Motion to Drop Jaime Soledad as one of the accused in the alleged mass grave unearthed in Inopacan, Leyte. Said Motion was granted by both judges in the Regional Trial Courts of Hilongos and Manila resulting to the issuance of the order of release of Soledad.

The release order was issued on July 22, 2011 but the release was only made on July 25, 2011 for reasons that July 23 and 24 is a Saturday and Sunday respectively and on the next office day (July 25) the release was delayed because of the alleged “protocol process” that the Province of Leyte had to approve the same; contrary to the customary process wherein a copy of the release order would warrant immediate release of the detainee.

The filing of the Motion was due to the ongoing Peace Talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The release of the NDFP Consultants is a commitment of the GPH and at the same a demand of the NDFP for reasons that the arrest of these consultants is a violation of the GPH of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) both signed and agreed upon by the parties in 1995 which gives safety and immunity guarantees to the consultants of both panel: the GPH and the NDFP.


◄◄home I next►►