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LSA athletes competes in National Batang Pinoy 2011 this December

DA-8 embarks on intensified promotion of organic farming in East Visayas

Civilian tips, leads to seizure of two (2) NPA encampments in Northern Samar

Internet mug shot photos of ex-PGMA not those submitted to Pasay RTC – Robredo

Eastern Visayas generally peaceful during Pacquiao-Marquez fight

Ochoa hails exceptional public servants

8ID, a partner organization in conducting YLS 2011

War heroes honored

Leyte guv congratulates Leyteños for latest prestigious recognition

An Waray Representative admits Anti-RH stand







NDF-EV assails “insurgency-free” charade in Leyte, warns of social volcano waiting to explode

By NDF-Eastern Visayas
December 12, 2011

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas said today that Gov. Jericho Petilla and 8th Infantry Division chief Gen. Mario Chan were engaging in a charade in declaring Leyte as “insurgency-free,” and warned that the province was a social volcano waiting to explode.

The NDF-EV spokesperson, Fr. Santiago Salas, said that, “Gov. Petilla and Gen. Chan do not make fools of anyone but themselves in declaring Leyte as “insurgency-free” – while laughably nixing at the same time the withdrawal of military troops from the province. Their real intention is to justify the continuing militarization and the barefaced attacks on civilians and their communities under Oplan Bayanihan. Soldiers continue to violate international humanitarian law with impunity, occupying villages on the psywar of “peace and development,” such as in Tacloban City, Carigara, Tunga and other towns. The military also has yet to account for the series of massacres of peasants and other innocent civilians such as the noted scientist Leonard Co and his assistants. If there is any pest the people wish to be free of, it is the military and not the New People's Army.”

Fr. Salas also pointed out that the Petilla-Chan charade showed the most reactionary political dynasties in Eastern Visayas are collaborating with the military to keep their monopoly on power. “It is not only the Petilla dynasty but also the Dazas in Northern Samar and the Tans in Western Samar who are cozy with the military because they wish to preserve their political and economic interests. Moreover, the provinces of these dynasties are being showered with billions of pesos for the road projects funded by the US and the Aquino regime to facilitate Oplan Bayanihan as well as foreign economic plunderers. These projects will also benefit those in power in these provinces, including the military, as cash cows of corruption. It is a blatant lie that these road projects are synonymous with economic progress in the absence of genuine agrarian reform and a national industrialization program.”

Fr. Salas said Petilla and Chan's pronouncement is also meant to embolden the worst exploiters and oppressors of the people in the province. “Who are Petilla and Chan really serving in conspiring to continue deploying soldiers against the people? Leyte's vast agricultural lands continue to be centralized in the hands of the big landlords, making agrarian reform as difficult as in Hacienda Luisita. The tapping of the province's enormous geothermal energy potential is also monopolized by the Energy Development Corporation of the Lopez family and other enterprises by big business making huge profits from the privatization of electricity. Foreign companies are also advancing large-scale mining despite opposition by many. These are the anti-people interests Petilla and Chan are protecting and encouraging.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson noted that while Leyte is wealthy in natural resources, the people suffer grinding poverty. “The biggest land monopolies in Eastern Visayas are Leyte's haciendas. The hacienda workers are paid P60 or less every week, if at all. They are constantly on the verge of starvation because they are forbidden by the big landlords to plant even an inch of land with rice, vegetables and other basic food crops for consumption. Meanwhile, the workers and urban poor live on the subsistence level with depressed wages, unemployment and underemployment, and the rising cost of living. Even those in the middle class do not see any opportunities for a decent living in the province and professionals are forced to migrate to the big urban centers elsewhere as well as go abroad.”

Fr. Salas said Leyte is a social volcano waiting to explode like the rest of the country because the people have no other choice except in fighting for their basic interests through advancing their armed and unarmed struggles. “The peasants of Leyte must take heart from the struggle in Hacienda Luisita and likewise persevere in their demand to break up Leyte's haciendas and implement agrarian reform as a matter of social justice. The people of Leyte must resist large-scale mining and profiteering in the electric power industry and advocate national industrialization to put the province's mineral and energy resources in the service of economic sovereignty and progress. The people must persevere in their struggle for human rights through broad unity and alliance against the most reactionary political dynasties, the military and the US-Aquino regime who are collaborating in Oplan Bayanihan.

“The NPA must defend the people against the impunity of the human rights violators and continue to accumulate strength for the national liberation struggle by intensifying the tactical offensives in Leyte against Oplan Bayanihan. Through widespread and intensive guerrilla warfare based on popular support, the NPA will deliver the response against the anti-people conspiracy of Petilla and Chan: There will be hell to pay.”





Malacañang hosts historic LGBT rights confab

By PROGAY Philippines
December 12, 2011

MANILA  –  The Office of the President waded into one of the remaining last frontiers in the country's human rights struggles when it hosted probably the first  open discussion on human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

On the eve of the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (PHRC) convened the 11th National Human Rights Forum titled "LGBT Ngayon: Lalim ng Pagunawa at Antas ng Pagtanggap" at the Richmonde Eastwood Libis in Quezon City. In English, the title would translate roughly to "Our Present Levels of Understanding and Acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People."

The human rights watchdog Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch organized the forum that was powered by a broad range of human rights experts, international agencies, church leaders and the academe. According to the organizer's spokesperson, Reighben Labilles, the conference has very profound implications on government policies towards LGBTs and would seem a fitting rejoinder to the announcement of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the United States will protect LGBT rights on a global scale.

The PHRC targeted national government offices such as the Philippine National Police and Department of Justice with the aim of getting the Philippines up to speed in terms of LGBT rights. Also in attendance were leading activist groups such as ProGay Philippines, GALANG, Task Force Pride, Asia Foundation, Leap, and the International Lesbian and Gay Rights Committee.

Rena Dona, Assistant Country Representative of the United Nations Populations Fund, gave a rousing keynote speech that urged the Philippines to make reproductive health services and commodities open to all LGBTs as part of its human rights obligations for the highest standards of health.

Eric Manalastas, a teacher at the University of the Philippines and member of the Psychological Association (PAP) provided the mental health background of discrimination that Filipino LGBTs suffer.  Ms. Bemz Benedito, chairwoman of the Ladlad partylist, presented the legal and social problems of the Transpinay or transgender Filipino woman, face when trying to get work or legalize their gender identity.

In his presentation "LGBT and Society," Dr. Emmanuel de Guzman of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines explained the level of acceptance that mainstream Filipino society has of LGBTs and traced the problem of homophobia and discrimination to a vast array of hard historical pressures coming from colonial past and the Christian religion. De Guzman said that LGBTs should take advantage of social technologies that allow a new "politics of truth" to convert victimhood into power demolish the dominance of patriarchy.

The speaker from the United Methodist Church and Promotion of People's Church Response, Rev. Marie Sol Villalon, discussed her denomination's open heart, open hearts, and open arms policy in receiving the LGBT into the laity and the clergy. She advised the state to stop using bureaucratic procedures in denying LGBTs legal rights and instead always consider human rights as above any administrative law such as presidential decrees, because the main teaching of Jesus was that every one has rights.

Atty, Liezl Parajas, director of the Commission on Human Rights Women's Human Rights Center gave the international human rights framework. Parajas said that the lack of a national law on LGBTs should not prevent the government from interpreting international commitments favorably to promote human rights based on SOGI. Addressing the civil society, she suggested the more creative use of civil code instead of always pursuing the penal approaches to settling claims against violations.

Oscar Atadero, program manager of the legal rights NGO Rainbow Rights Project, tackled Activism at the Grassroots Level. Atadero provided a comprehensive overview on how the Yogyakarta Principles can be used by the PHRC and national government agencies to mainstream SOGI human rights protections for LGBTs without having to wait for Congress to approve an Anti-Discrimination Law.

Ron de Vera of Amnesty International provided an overview of the history of the anti-discrimination bill and hate crimes resolutions in Congress, while Prof. Danton Remoto discussed the internal dynamics and external factors that are both boons and threats to having LGBTs elected into political office.

The forum unearthed many potential areas of administrative work for the government to accomodate LGBTs in its human rights and services mandates. In the lively debates that interspersed the presentations, many more instances of discrimination and ill treatment surfaced. Chad Jacinto of the Department of Foreign Affairs said the failure of the government to actively pursue SOGI human rights in the United Nations is hampered by a lack of a clear guidelines from Malacañang regarding LGBTs.

The GALANG lesbian group said that in its survey asking police in a Quezon City district if LGBTs have rights, the overwhelming response was that LGBTs have no rights. In response, Superintendent Susan Jalla revealed that the PNP is committed and actively creating policies that would make the police more sensitive and responsive to LGBT complainants and victims of violence.

Undersecretary Severo Catura of the PHRC said that the proceedings of the forum was crucial in jumpstarting future administrative programs under the Aquino administration that will incorporate the concerns of the LGBTs in national development agenda.





“Manageable Conflict-Affected and Development Ready” Leyte

December 10, 2011

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City  –  The 8th Infantry Division thru the 802nd Brigade under Colonel John S. Bonafos facilitated the signing on Joint Declaration of “Manageable Conflict-Affected and Development-Ready” Leyte between Major General Mario F. Chan, the Commander of 8ID, PA; and Honorable Carlos Jericho I. Petilla, the Governor of Leyte Province.

The signing was held on December 08, 2011 at Leyte Provincial Capitol, Tacloban City and was witnessed by the members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of Leyte and other members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines headed by Brigadier General Alejandro H. Estomo, the Deputy Commander of Central Command AFP.

The 8ID had committed to make the Province of Leyte “insurgent-free” before this year ends, and with the relentless efforts of the Local Government Units (LGUs), Local Government Agencies (LGAs), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders, Leyte is finally “insurgent-free”.

Leyte is the seventh province in Visayas to be declared “insurgent-free” after the provinces of Biliran, Bohol, Cebu, Guimaras, Siquijor and Southern Leyte.

The signing on Joint Declaration is a manifestation that the Internal Peace and Security Operations in Leyte have worked and its responsibility is handed over to the local government with the military supporting the local government and police in maintaining the peace and order in Leyte Province.





Ladlad Partylist bats CBCP’s ignorance

By LADLAD Partylist
December 10, 2011

PASIG CITY  –  The only political organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Filipinos, Ladlad Partylist batted the ignorance of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the issue concerning the anti-discrimination bill or the Senate Bill 2814, otherwise known as Anti-Ethnic, Racial or Religious Discrimination and Profiling Act of 2011. The bill will be discussed soon by a bicameral conference committee tasked to harmonize the Senate bill with similar bills passed by the House of Representatives.

In a weekly forum Thursday, CBCP was repugnant saying that the enactment of the bill into law would open the door for the legalization of same sex marriages.

Ladlad was flabbergasted on where their paranoia is coming from as nothing in the bill refers to same-sex marriage, it merely asks for equal opportunities and protection before the law like in schools, workplace and establishment regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

On the other hand, the chairperson of Ladlad, Ms. Bemz Benedito was flooded with text messages and calls from their agitated members upon hearing a statement from CBCP lawyer Jo Imbong saying that the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender) should not be considered the same as the elderly, the handicapped, and the poor. Imbong further said, “These people are disadvantaged not by their own choice. But the third sex, they choose this. How can you give protection to a choice like that?”

“Atty. Jo Imbong’s thesis or proposition was lamentable, defective and thoughtless because there are LGBT Filipinos who are elderly, handicapped and poor. Their experiences of discrimination become layered and unbearable,” Benedito said. “The deed that the CBCP is showing now against Filipino LGBTs is morally wrong because God as we all know doesn’t welcome prejudice and does love unfavorably,” she added.

The LGBT group is asking the Catholic priests to come out of their extravagant churches to see the reality – that some LGBTs are not hired to work, some are being harassed and violated and some 144 killed because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. “It is not something that we chose to be,” Benedito stressed.

Ladlad recalled few months ago when CBCP said, LGBTs are children of God too provided they do not engage in homosexual acts. Now we challenge the CBCP to practice what they preach and act to what is right for everybody without conditions.

Ladlad further said, we need to advance as a democratic country and with an egalitarian congress, the needs of all marginalized sectors in society must be responded by adequate laws. Ladlad was deeply saddened that the CBCP continues to propagate fear, hate, prejudice and intolerance to the LGBT sector.

“Where is the compassion in the hearts of the CBCP and human understanding in all this? Benedito asked.  “I am confident that our lawmakers will not be misled or affected by bigotry,” Benedito added.

Ladlad, who has more than 50,000 members nationwide and will run as partylist in 2013 elections reminded the CBCP that Philippines is a secular state and there is a separation between the church and the state, thus CBCP has no business meddling with the legislative process.





DILG-8 commends Samar SP for temporarily setting aside political differences

The 9 Samar board members present during the December 8 SP Regular Session were all smile as they approved the P20,000 PEI each for all regular employees of the province totaling P22.66 million to be taken from the unappropriated surplus of 2011.  (photo by LUIS ORTIZ JR.)

December 10, 2011

TACLOBAN CITY  –  DILG-8 Regional Director Pedro A. Noval, Jr., on Friday commended members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan from both political fences in Samar, for temporarily putting their differences aside, and instead working on their real duties as legislators.

Noval, who had just assumed office in Eastern Visayas last October, happily reported that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Samar was able to hold its regular session at the governor’s conference room last Thursday, December 8, 2011 after failing to achieve a quorum for several months now.

Dir. Noval voiced his concern at the possible effect of the continued absence of quorum in the regular sessions, which delayed all deliberations on the 2011 budget, including projects for Samar residents, and benefits due to provincial employees.

It would be recalled that Samar Vice-Governor Stephen James Tan wrote the office to ask about possible remedies for the continued absence of the opposition majority at the SP during regular sessions starting last August.

In a courtesy call, Dir. Noval reiterated to Governor Sharee Ann Tan, that in cases where the concerned absent Sanggunian members have no justifiable reasons, the Vice-Governor can seek assistance from the police to arrest these members, and bring them to the session hall to ensure quorum.

It was learned that the session on December 8, 2011 was attended by ten (10) SP members, including Vice-Governor Tan.  In that session, the Sanggunian approved the grant of productivity enhancement incentive bonus of P20,000 for each regular provincial employee. The council also moved to refer to the committees on laws and finance, the proposed 2011 and 2012 annual budget of the province of Samar.  The committees concerned will hold a meeting this Tuesday to settle these issues.

Dir. Noval expressed optimism that if public officials in Samar would remain faithful to their intentions of public service, both groups could achieve a constructive dialog with each other and be able to discuss their differences within the ambit of local legislative processes.





GMA is P-Noy's smokescreen for rights violations under his administration - Karapatan

December 10, 2011

QUEZON CITY  –  “President Noynoy Aquino conveniently uses GMA as a shield by endlessly harping on her crimes and wrongdoings as a subterfuge to evade taking responsibility for human rights violations committed by his administration and its inability to solve any of the country’s basic problems. No amount of political manipulation or attempt to project himself as a protagonist in the quest for justice against GMA can dispel the truth that he continues Arroyo’s legacy of state terror through Oplan Bayanihan.”

Jigs Clamor, Deputy Secretary General of Karapatan, made the statement as human rights and people’s organizations led by Karapatan and Bayan marched today from Blumentritt to Mendiola to commemorate International Human Rights Day.

“GMA has been a convenient smokescreen to blur the spotlight on P-Noy.  For instance, Malacañang benefits from all the fuss about Arroyo’s transfer to the presidential suite of the veteran’s hospital because it hides the fact that his government has been sorely remiss in promptly prosecuting and putting Arroyo to jail,” Clamor explained.

Karapatan stressed that Noynoy Aquino has to stop hiding behind Gloria and face his own accountabilities to the people, especially the human rights violations committed by his security forces.

In its 2011 Year-End Human Rights Report, Karapatan documented 64 cases of extrajudicial killings, 343 illegal arrests, 51 detainees tortured, 4376 victims of forced evacuation and 6108 made homeless through demolition in urban poor communities.  All these just in 16 months of Noynoy Aquino’s incumbency.

The violations result from the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency Operational Plan (Oplan) Bayanihan, which is patterned after the U.S. COIN Guide and partially funded by American military aid. It speaks of “peace and development” but employs terror upon the people through gross rights violations and intensified militarization of rural and urban communities.

Karapatan said that all over the country, military operations victimize men and women among the workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, Moro people and those who assert their right to land and ancestral domain, and fight to protect the country’s natural resources from extractive industries such as mining.

“The days leading to the commemoration of International Human Rights Day showed how legitimate people’s protests such as those held on Mendiola by the youth, students, workers and urban poor dwellers were met with brutality because Malacañang was terrified of a Wall Street-inspired “occupy” action,” he further said

Jail GMA and Palparan, release all political prisoners

The End Impunity Alliance stressed that GMA and her favorite “butcher” Jovito Palparan should be jailed without any special treatment. “Without question, we want GMA and her military henchmen prosecuted, jailed and made to answer for their human rights violations.  This is to give justice to those who were wronged,” added Cristina Palabay, the convenor of the alliance.

“There’s a stark difference between how this government treats GMA and how the political prisoners, who were arrested because of their political beliefs, languish in jail based on insufficient evidence and trumped-up criminal charges.  Many political prisoners, especially the elderly and sick, are kept in congested cells making them more vulnerable to diseases. In fact, two have recently died due to lack of medical attention." Palabay added.

“We reiterate our demand to put GMA and Palparan in jail. This will also put an end to P-Noy’s diversionary tactics. It has been a year and a half, he should start taking responsibility for his government’s actions and puppetry to a foreign boss,” concluded Palabay.





Leyte guv urged LGUs to implement RA 9003

By Provincial Media Relations Center
December 8, 2011

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Local government units in Leyte are urged by the provincial government to start implementing pertinent provisions of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

This as Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla recently visited the Eco Park Project of Palompon, Leyte which is the latter’s compliance under the leadership of Mayor Ramon Oñate, to the ecological solid waste management mandate of the national government.

Inside the Eco Park, Palompon managed to construct a material recovery facility (MRF) which houses equipments that recycles solid wastes such as plastic.

These equipments include a Bioreactor developed by the Department of Science and Technology’s Industrial Technology Development Institute. This bioreactor demonstrates simple management of highly organic public market wastes and converts them to organic fertilizer reducing potential landfill disposal.

The bioreactor’s operation has low energy cost and does not emit foul odor.  The technology significantly reduces solid wastes problems in the region particularly on biodegradable wastes.  It also conforms to the Ecological Solid Wastes Management Act of 2003 or popularly known as RA 9003.

The MRF also has a plastic shedder machine and a plastic recycling oven that would recycle low-grade plastic wastes into another material.

The provincial government funded in part the construction of the Material Recovery Facility.

Meanwhile, Gov. Petilla urged other LGUs in the province to comply with the provisions of RA 9003 by having their own MRF’s or construction of sanitary landfills.

He otherwise reiterated the problem of solid waste management remains a responsibility of each Filipino citizen, and that the best way to address it was to ensure segregation at source.

It is estimated that with every household practicing waste segregation at home, only 30 percent of waste would actually be dumped in landfills nationwide.

Republic Act (RA) 9003, which took effect in year 2000, mandates SWM as a primary responsibility of the LGUs.

Gov. Petilla reminded LGU officials that failure to comply with the said act can have them charged administratively with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Earlier the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through DENR Secretary Ramon Paje vowed to go after LGUs that refuse to comply with the law saying local officials who do not implement RA 9003 are in essence depriving their constituents of their Constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology.


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