Your latest news happening from here at home and abroad
news 356


more news...

Pia says RH Bill won’t serve as ‘back road’ for legalized abortion

Uy’s eldest kin expresses hope in the reinvestigation of her father’s case

Soldier joins Samar Day

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

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








Tattoos and body paint for freedom

Families to PNoy: Free all political prisoners now!

September 17, 2011

On the fifth day of fasting of political prisoners nationwide, victims organization Hustisya marked their support for freedom in a different medium: their own skins.

free all political prisonersThis month’s Third Saturday gathering, a monthly activity of victims of human rights violations and their families and friends, Hustisya held “PIN(T)ALAYA: Pinta para sa Paglaya ng mga Bilanggong Pulitikal,” a tattoo, face and body painting session with invited artists and supporters of the campaign.

“According to many historians, tattooing in the Philippines is a tribal form of rank and accomplishments in pre-colonial times. Tattooos in contemporary times meant defining one’s identity. Now, we put a different meaning on it. We tattoo to protest,” said Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general.

According to Karapatan, there are currently 360 political prisoners detained in various detention centers in the country. Demanding freedom through a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty, the political prisoners will go on fasting until September 21, when the nation commemorates Martial Law.

“Political prisoners have been denied of justice from the time they were arbitrarily arrested, charged with trumped up charges, detained and many even suffering from torture. Their prolonged detention further denies them of their rights,” Guevarra added.

The group said that as the nation commemorates Martial Law, the group asked whether Pres. Aquino is truly a son of a former political prisoner.

"Currently, there are 77 new political prisoners arrested under his term. He has not said anything about the plea of political prisoners. We might need to make him remember that he is son of a former political prisoner,” Guevarra exclaimed.

According to Hustisya, not only the political prisoners themselves are “detained” but their families as well.

Isaias and Liwayway Acosta, both in their late 70s, have to travel all the way from Manila to Calbayog, Eastern Samar each time they visit their son, Ericson Acosta.

Acosta is a cultural activist and writer who was arrested in February13, 2011and is charged with a trumped-up case of illegal possession of explosives. Both his parents have difficulty walking, and are likewise suffering from different illnesses due to old age.

Nais lamang nilang makasama ang kanilang mga anak sa nalalabing panahon ng kanilang buhay, ngunit lalo lamang itong pinaiikli sa patuloy na pagkakakulong ni Ericson,” said Guevarra. (The elderly Acostas only want to spend time with their children in their elderly years, and yet Ericson’s continued detention only shortens this.)

Furthermore, according to Karapatan’s documentation, out of the 360 political prisoners, 11 are elderly, 28 are sick and 30 are women.

The group further said they are calling for the release of political prisoners since Aquino’s Day 1. “There should be no waiting time for freedom that is long overdue. For a president posing as somebody continuing the legacy of his parents who fought against a tyrant, we deserve more than lipservice, we demand: Free them now!” Guevarra said.





ANAD: Pro-democracy forces should unite vs. moves to politically subdivide the country

By ANAD Partylist
September 16, 2011

“Now is the time for all pro-democracy individuals and groups to unite and consolidate in defense of our freedoms and democracy!”

This is the call raised by the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) Partylist in response to the demand of the Maoist terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF to establish a “Council for National Unity” instead of a coalition government, as stated in CPP 5-year plan. “As I’ve said before, the Council is no different from the coalition government they demanded before. It’s still the same dog but with a new collar,” said ANAD Rep. Jun Alcover.

“The Maoist terrorists’ Council for National Unity resonates loudly and runs parallel to the Bangsamoro substate demanded by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” said ANAD Rep. Jun Alcover as he raised fears against politically subdividing the constitutionally established Republic of the Philippines in the name and disguise of seeking the road towards peace.

Highly credible sources revealed that the would-be establishment Council for National Unity shall be composed of representatives from the MILF, the Maoist terrorist CPP, and government in the national level. The same sources told ANAD that in this set-up, allegedly already in the drawing boards and firmed up by representatives of the MILF, CPP, and government, the MILF will be in charge of Mindanao, and the Maoist terrorist CPP in the Luzon and Visayas areas, while the government will retain over-all supervision and control of the country.

“This alone sends chilling signals down our spine! What will happen once the NPA, MILF armed forces, and the AFP jointly is in-charge of our national security concerns; and the NDF, the political component of the MILF, and our country’s political leadership rubbing elbows with each other?” the ANAD solon asked.

Reminding pro-democracy and freedom loving Filipinos that the Maoist terrorists CPP-NPA-NDF remains committed in pursuing their violent national democratic revolution, and the MILF uncompromising in their demand to have their own Bangsamoro identity and governance, “It seems that the PNoy administration is in the bind. Reports say that the national leadership is pursuing this course of action to offset PNoy’s waning popularity due to the worsening economic conditions of the country,” Rep. Alcover explained.

“Because of this ANAD decided to reach out to all sectors: government, youth, academe, and even local government units, throughout the country, to rally and unite freedom loving Filipinos against those who seek the destruction of our freedoms and democratic ideals and institutions,” he added.

“I call on the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippines National Police, and our political leaders who still have the flames of peace, freedom, and democracy burning deep inside them, to stand up in defense of our constitution and territorial sovereignty. Blind subservience to our national leaders’ selfish political and vested interests could heavily bear against our country and people’s interest,” Rep. Alcover stressed.





SELDA to Sara Duterte: political prisoners are not criminals

Press Release
September 15, 2011

DAVAO CITY  –  An organization of former political detainees is disappointed with the statement of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte about the political prisoners saying it was a misinformed statement and uncalled for.

free all political prisonersIt can be recalled that the city mayor commented in an interview that political prisoner are incarcerated because of crimes they committed and not for political reasons.

“Contrary to the statement of the young Duterte, the 360 political prisoners, including the detained National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel consultants, are falsely charged with common crimes and that they're actually incarcerated due to their political convictions”, said Fe Salino, Secretary General of SELDA-SMR.

“Duterte's statement on political prisoners disappointed us because it seems that she is denying the existence of the raging civil war and the government's compliance to human rights instruments and international humanitarian law”

Salino revealed that majority of political detainees were unarmed but politically-active farmers and that most of them were picked up by soldiers and presented as NPA.

“It seems like we are still living in the dark days of Martial Law. Political prisoners are either innocent civilians or members of progressive organizations who were victims of illegal and/or arbitrary arrests due to their opposition to government's anti-people policies or they were wrongfully accused as supporters or member of the New People’s Army (NPA)”, Salino said.

The government is violating the Hernandez Doctrine which became part of the Philippine jurisprudence when, in 1956, the Supreme Court rule in the case of People of the Philippines vs. Amado Hernandez, that a person who commits a political offense could be charged with rebellion but not with common crimes such as murder, arson, robbery, etc. It ruled that the act of rebellion would already include and absorb these crimes.

During a forum with NDFP Peace Panel Chair Luis Jalandoni earlier he claimed that the arrest and detention of NDFP consultants violate the Joint Agreement in Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which was signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and NDFP on February 24, 1995. JASIG provides security and immunity from arrest of all those listed as involved in the peace negotiations.

Salino added that most political prisoners have been slapped with trumped-up criminal charges even without Martial law.

“SELDA-SMR believes that the call for a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty alongside the call for the release of all political prisoners and NPA prisoners of war should be part of confidence-building measures that provide a favorable atmosphere for the peace talks to continue.” she said.





NPA on the offensive to punish Aquino regime's treachery in peace negotiations

September 15, 2011

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today lauded the New People's Army in Western Samar for successfully raiding the police headquarters in Hinabangan town last Sept. 12. “The NPA offensives in the region are meant to punish the Aquino regime's treachery in peace negotiations with the NDFP,” said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson. “The NDFP has been very patient, magnanimous and open to peace talks despite years of the Philippine government's various insults, attacks on the NDFP consultants, and the increasing exploitation and oppression of the people by the reactionary ruling system. But it is now a matter of principle and the revolutionary movement is sending the signal to the Aquino regime that its treachery in peace negotiations will not be taken sitting down.”

Fr. Salas also corrected claims made by Aquino government officials in the region that NPA attacks were against the peace process. “NPA offensives are legitimate even in the context of ongoing peace negotiations, which are still a long way from achieving a politically negotiated settlement and deciding the disposition of the armed forces of both sides. What the Aquino regime is actually irked at is its failure to compel the immediate capitulation of the revolutionary movement or trap it in indefinite ceasefire.

“The provocative statements and hostile actions of the Aquino regime are the ones inimical to the peace talks. The Aquino regime is refusing its obligation to release the detained NDFP peace consultants, including Eduardo Sarmiento who represents Eastern Visayas. The NDFP peace consultants are being held hostage by a capricious regime that cannot honor a simple safety and immunity agreement like the JASIG for those involved in the peace talks. The NDFP consultants and more than 300 political prisoners languish in jail despite the appeals of peace and human rights advocates, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and other concerned sectors.”

Fr. Salas added that the unleashing of Oplan Bayanihan against the people has put the Aquino regime's sincerity for peace negotiations under question. “Oplan Bayanihan has resulted in military occupation of civilian communities and the wholesale escalation of human rights violations. In the three Samar provinces, soldiers control entire villages and coerce local governments to sanction their operations, in violation of international humanitarian law. Civilians and their organizations are harassed and accused of links to the NPA. This is true as well in Leyte, where the Municipal Farmers Assocation of Carigara, a peasant organization in the said town, recently denounced in the media the death threats made by the notorious 19th IB against its members.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson said the NPA will step up its offensives to defend the people and advance the people's interests in light of the Aquino regime's dismal handling of the peace talks. “The NPA is fighting for the interests of the people of Eastern Visayas, who are presently beleaguered with war and increasing poverty. Oplan Bayanihan is in full swing and supported by a US road project tied to “counterinsurgency” goals. The Aquino regime is also pushing for large-scale foreign mining in the region. Such realities cast doubt on the regime's sincerity for the peace talks. The people are thus also reminded that peace is not served on a silver platter. They must fight for their basic demands to be heard and for a just and lasting peace.”





Gov’t to monitor mining revenues

Press Release
September 14, 2011

MALACAÑANG  –  The Aquino administration is taking steps to ensure that profits generated by mining companies translate into state revenues and that mining benefits trickle down to the general public, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Wednesday.

In a speech at the Mining Philippines 2011 Conference and Exhibition held in Pasay City, Ochoa revealed the country’s intention to apply for compliance status with the London-based Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) to help achieve the much-needed reforms in the mining industry.

EITI is a global initiative that requires participating governments to publicly report the revenues they receive from extractive industry companies and for those companies to publicly report the revenues they pay to government. This mechanism allows more transparency in revenue reporting.

“High on our agenda is transparency in revenues derived from mining,” Ochoa said, as he pointed out the need to determine how the mining sector contributes to sustainable development.

“Further reforms are therefore needed to ensure that the acceptability of mining is enhanced and its impact as a driver of economic growth is truly felt,” he added.

Data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources show that mining contributed P110 billion to the gross domestic product and generated P12.5 billion in tax revenues, royalties and fees for the government last year.

Ochoa said the country’s EITI candidacy and subsequent membership is consistent with the “vision of good governance” of the Aquino administration.

“It will be a strong manifestation of transparency if the payments and revenues received by the government from the development of the country’s mineral resources and how these are utilized are made public,” Ochoa told the conference attended mostly by industry players who comprise the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.

The Executive Secretary said that while the Mining Act of 1995 has put in place environmental and safety nets to address mining concerns, efforts must be stepped up for awareness and strict compliance of the law.

He also underscored the need to strike a balance between mining and protecting the environment and natural resources toward achieving enhanced social acceptability of mining operations.

Aware that the Philippine mining industry has been the subject of intense scrutiny by various sectors, Ochoa called on industry players to overcome the negative stigma attached to mining and to continue to work hard to gain public acceptability.

“But done in a manner that takes into consideration the importance of safeguarding the environment, we know that mining can contribute significantly both to sustained economic development and poverty reduction in the countryside,” Ochoa said, citing the case of countries like Canada, Australia and Chile where mining has contributed to economic growth and development.

“For mining to be acceptable, it must be guided by the principles of sustainable development, environmental protection, social equity and, of course, good governance,” Ochoa added. “Mining must also be pursued alongside other economic activities that are compatible with it, including agriculture and eco-tourism.”

Speaking on behalf of President Benigno Aquino III, Ochoa also acknowledged the mining industry’s commitment and participation in the National Greening Program (NGP), pursuant to Executive Order No. 26 which the Chief Executive signed on February 24.

Far from the usual reforestation program, NGP is a government priority program that aims to curb poverty, promote food security, environmental stability and biodiversity conservation, and enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The NGP also seeks to substantially increase the number of trees nationwide to improve water quality in rivers and irrigation for farm lands, reduce the potential for flooding, soak up carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and lay the foundation for an expanded wood-products economy.

“The program specifically seeks to plant 1.5 billion seedlings in 1.5 million hectares of public lands nationwide in six years, from 2011 to 2016 – more than twice the government’s accomplishment for the past 25 years, which is estimated at 730,000 hectares,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa described as a “step in the right direction” and a “clear manifestation of corporate social responsibility” the announced commitment of the mining industry to reforest 34,000 hectares over the next three years.

The figure, he said, will be “over and above the number of trees to be planted and maintained as part of the mining contractor’s obligation to rehabilitate mining-affected lands.





Newly refurbished health center inaugurated in Lope de Vega, Northern Samar

By 20th Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
September 12, 2011

LOPE DE VEGA, Northern Samar  –  Army troopers from 20th Infantry (We Lead) Battalion headed by LCol. Noel A. Vestuir attended the inauguration of the newly rehabilitated barangay health center of Brgy Osmeña, Lope de Vega, Northern Samar on September 12, 2011 at around 10:00 O’clock in the morning.

Mr Jay Orense, Program Manager, TV5 Alagang Kapatid turns-over the newly refurbished barangay health center to Brgy Captain Brando Abuke of Brgy Osmeña, Lope de Vega, Northern Samar.

The rehabilitation of the said health center is a joint project of the TV5 Network, Plan Philippines, Local Government of Lope de Vega, Rotary Club of Northern Samar, other stakeholders, and the Philippine Army – represented by the 20th Infantry (We Lead) Battalion, 8ID, PA.

The newly refurbished health center was formally turn-ed over by Mr. Jay Orense, Program Manager of TV5’s Alagang Kapatid to Barangay Captain Brando Abuke of Barangay Osmeña along with new equipment that would address the health requirements of the people in the area. Also, Mayor Erlinda P Cinco of Lope de Vega has permanently assigned two (2) regular nurses and one midwife in the said health center.

Brgy. Captain Abuke expressed his utmost gratitude to the personalities, agencies and organizations who shared their time and effort to restore, renovate, and refurnish the dilapidated health center. The importance of the said health center could not be undermined considering that it could also cater the residents of three upstream barangays of Sampaguita, San Jose and San Fransisco all of Lope de Vega Northern Samar.

The activity was capped by a joint medical and dental mission conducted by the Rural Health Unit of Lope de Vega headed by Dra. Jocelyn Galvez, TV5 Network, and the 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division, Philippine Army benefiting a total of 126 residents who availed the free medical and dental consultation and free medicines.

The overwhelming success of the said activity is a glaring example of genuine cooperation, collaborative efforts and commitment of all stakeholders in bringing the services to our people that exemplifies the true spirit of Bayanihan.  The Philippine Army – together with the LGU of Lope de Vega, TV5, and other stakeholders – call out for other service-oriented organizations to advocate such convergence to help uplift the lives of our fellow Filipino people especially those in the remote and conflict affected areas.





ANAD hits NDF for ‘terrorizing’ GPH

By ANAD Partylist
September 12, 2011

“Now the worms are out of the can! The venoms of Maoist terrorism are unleashed to confuse the Filipinos and paint a dazzling array anti-government propaganda,” said ANAD Rep. Jun Alcover reacting to a statement by NDFP spokesman Fidel Agcaoili warning of more Maoist terrorist attacks unless their jailed consultants” (SIC!) are released from detention. (09-10-11

“True to their tag as terrorists, they are now terrorizing government and the Filipino people, once again! Contrary to Agcaoili’s assertions, it was not the government but Jalandoni, his boss, who made the statement before Philippine Daily Inquirer executives, last September 6 that the NDF shall resume the peace talks with government in October. Sila-sila na lang eh sintonado pa kung kumanta!,” he said.

Rep. Alcover expressed dismay on the apparent split within the Maoist terrorist CPP organization that could spell doom to the peace initiatives. “This development somehow confirms highly credible information received by ANAD that the Maoist terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF is currently experiencing a fractious and debilitating split with one faction led by Jalandoni who remains loyal to chair Jose Ma. Sison, and the other by Satur Ocampo of the socalled locals where Fidel Agcaoili belongs. In fact news reports say that Joma’s influence in the NDFP is waning (09/04/2011,” the ANAD solon declared.

It was learned that the Sison faction is seeking to resume the already stalled peace talks while that of Ocampo wanted to stir and pursue continued violence and terrorism pursuant to the CPP 5-year plan. “Sison’s interest prompting Norway’s intervention to revive the talks resulting in an agreement by both panels to resume the talks in October without any precondition but with positive steps undertaken by both the GPH and NDFP. But Agcaoili and Ocampo, with the latter showing extreme callousness by his deafening silence on the issue, insisted that government release the 13 arrested NPA-NDF terrorist leaders before the peace talk moves ahead,” Rep. Alcover said.

“They should clarify as to who really is the leader of the NDFP that the government shall meet on the negotiating table. We do not have the luxury to be witnesses to a bloody and violent internal power struggle within the Maoist terrorist organization that shall eventually ensue,” he added.

However, the former NPA political and commanding officer in Eastern and Central Visayas turned pro-democracy advocate warned the PNoy government saying that Agcaoili’s recent statement smacks of arrogance and deliberate insincerity that the PNoy administration must respond appropriately.

“Government must deal with this squarely and the full force of the law thrown against them! Precious time, money, and efforts were wasted while pursuing peace with a group that skillfully uses negotiations not as a method of settling conflicts but as an instrument of warfare! Government should now wake up and act with dispatch to put an end to the deceptive machinations and lies relentlessly pushed by the adherents of the Godless, violent, and inhuman Maoist communist ideology,” he emphasized.


◄◄home I next►►