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NPA camp seized by government troops in Northern Samar

COTS outbreak in Ormoc

KALAHI-CIDSS adapts bottom-up budgeting

Ormoc city government shutdowns LMC

Peace security watchdogs meet at 19th IB

ESAMELCO withdraws application for P757M loan; vows to re-file later

Groups clamor for detained poet’s release

Escudero-Trillanes bill banning sex change angers transgenders

MCA-P and VF sign agreement to combat Trafficking in Persons

Samar solon solicits support for “green” programs






Leyte IDOL Season 7 Final 8 named

By Provincial Media Relations Center
March 20, 2012

Leyte IDOL winner Monica SacayTACLOBAN CITY  –  After gruelling months of semifinal round, Leyte IDOL Season 7 announces its Top 8 Grand Finalists who would vie as this year’s best vocal talent.

Rendering some ballad songs for their performance at the Provincial Gymnasium – Leyte IDOL’s official home and studio, the following made it to the Final 8: Richard Rey Bajar of Tacloban City who sang “The Warrior is a Child”; Chelka Mae Seboquero of Ormoc City with “ Dito Ba”; Jessa Vilbar of Hilongos, Leyte sang “Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw”; Carl Mae Enfermo of Tanauan, Leyte who performed “Ngayon at Kailan Man”; Vanesa Grace Tempo of Tacloban City with “Wala na Bang Pag-Ibig”; Justine Charles Batican of Albuera, Leyte who sang “Ikaw”; Shintara Rose Crisostomo of Sogod, Southern Leyte with “Sa Puso Ko”; and, Jeslee Ann Pacio of Tacloban City  who sang “Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal”.

This year’s Leyte IDOL is an odd mix of singing talents from all over the region as Leyte IDOL Season 7 opened its search to other provinces and held grand auditions regionwide.

Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla earlier said that he also would like to discover other talents from other parts of Eastern Visayas and give them with the opportunities that Leyte IDOL provides for its talented pool of singers and performers.

The provincial government of Leyte through Gov. Petilla vowed to continue to discover singing talents and help them develop and explore their potentials for personal development and later for professional practice.

The finalists will be performing special shows every Sunday at the Provincial Gymnasium until the Grand Finals Night set in May this year.

They would vie for the grand prize worth P200,000. Of this amount, cash prize is worth P150,000 and another P50,000 worth of other prizes and the chance to be Leyte ’s singing sensation.

Second prize winner will be awarded P100,000 worth of prizes, third prize winner to get P50,000 worth of prizes while the non-winning finals contenders would still be awarded a consolation prize.





18 year old college student caught with shabu in Calbayog

By RPCRD, Police Regional Office 8
March 20, 2012

CAMP RUPERTO KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte  –  PCSupt Arnold Rayala Revilla, PRO-8 Regional Director vowed that the PNP’s campaign against illegal drugs in the region will be pursued relentlessly in line with the PNP’s supply and demand reduction strategy because illegal drugs is a menace not only to peace but also to the economy of the country.

Just recently, on March 16, 2012 at about 2:00 AM, joint elements of Calbayog City Police Station led by PCInsp Eufronio Loyola Obong Jr and PDEA PRO8 arrested a female college student for illegal drugs trade.

Subject person was identified as one Samantha Erica Buensuceso Kenney, 18 years old, single, college student of Northwest Samar State University, Calbayog City.

Samantha is a native of Matuguinao, Samar and was at Lavista Hotel, room number 305 at Barangay Capoocan, Calbayog City, Samar when she was arrested while on the act of transacting illegal drugs known as “shabu” at said place.

According to report, Samantha was with a companion identified as a certain Army Sgt Gilbert de Luna Mastelero who managed to elude arrest using the comfort room window as his exit point.

The arresting team was able to recover physical evidences inside the room: one (1) medium heat-sealed plastic sachet containing more or less 5 grams of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride known as “shabu”’, drugs paraphernalia, Magnum .22 caliber loaded with ammos and two (2) magazines of 9MM pistol loaded with ammos.

Samantha was brought to Calbayog City Police Station for proper documentation and appropriate charges were filed in court against her.

Revilla reiterates and appeals to the public to protect our neighborhood. If you notice drug activity increasing in your neighborhood, school or near your place of employment, report immediately or seek for assistance to your nearest police station, he said.





Chiz asks Senate to probe Mindanao power supply situation

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
March 20, 2012

PASAY CITY  –  With widespread power interruption gripping Mindanao and conflicting reports as to its main cause, Senator Chiz Escudero has asked the Senate to look into the true power situation in Mindanao through Senate Resolution No. 753.

Escudero, a member of the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC), has asked the Senate committee on energy to immediately conduct an inquiry into the power deficit in Mindanao in order to 1) confirm its true situation; 2) determine the issues to be resolved; and; 3) institute policy reforms, even if it would mean amending Republic Act 9136 or the EPIRA Law.

Residents have been experiencing rotating brownouts lasting one to two hours daily. Many fear of prolonged power outages that may last up to eight hours with the on-set of the summer season.

Escudero said getting down to the bottom of the present power problem in Mindanao was “a matter of significant concern because its impact may impair the economic soundness and competitiveness of Mindanao as an investment hub.”

“Just because this is not happening in the metropolis does not mean this problem is not important. One-fourth of our population lives in Mindanao. Immediate intervention must be given to this persisting problem given the already volatile peace problem in Mindanao. The only way to avert and finally solve the peace problem is by improving the state of development of the people and their livelihoods. This cannot happen if future investors and current businesses pull out from Mindanao because of unstable power supply which is a solvable problem”.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), which has been blamed for the daily power outages, said power supply in Mindanao was acutely short due to “lack of power supply generated by plants.”

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairman Luwalhati Antonino has accused the NGCP of creating an “artificial shortage” in its bid to have the Angus-Pulangi Power Plant privatized.

The Department of Energy (DOE), on the other hand, said the shortage of supply and the electric cooperatives’ decision not to contract and purchase the necessary capacities within their respective areas were the primary causes of the power interruptions.

Escudero said the DOE can consider opening up the market for competitive players to construct more power plants in the island, with the government still maintaining, if not controlling, at least influence over the market.

“There is a dormant asset lying in the electric cooperatives nationwide who has an asset base of 130 billion pesos at any given time. The Agus-Pulangi hydro power plants, which supply half of Mindanao’s power demand, need to be rehabilitated for at least 3 billion pesos so it can generate additional capacity,” Escudero said.

“The government can tap the electric cooperatives to rehabilitate the said plants. In return, the government can sell them power at a low cost competitive for the cooperatives to earn and get their return of Investment,” he added.

Escudero also said the government, through an executive order, can make an inventory of all privately-owned generator sets through mandatory registration. The combined power generated from all the private generator sets has a capacity to supply an entire city.

“As an example, in Philippine Export Zone Authorities (PEZA) sites all over the country, power pooled from all their generation sets can provide 278 megawatts in capacity. If we can convince them to use it in times of need, it’s like creating a 278- megawatt plant. Compensation and incentives should be given to them of course,” the senator suggested.





DAR, UEP to sign MOA for assessment of Samar Island ARBs’ needs

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 20, 2012

CATARMAN, Northern Samar  –  Top officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Region-8 and the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP) are set to sign on March 26, a Memorandum of Agreement for the benefit of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs)  in the three Samar Provinces.

DAR Region 8 Director Eliasem Castillo disclosed that in the agreement, DAR will provide the funding while UEP will conduct the needs and design assessments among the identified ARB organizations in the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar under the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) project.

In the recent meeting held to finalize the contents of the MOA, UEP President Dr. Mar P. de Asis said that aside from providing quality education to students in this province, they are also proud to be a service provider under its extension program.

Under ARCCESS, DAR will assist identified ARB organizations by providing the necessary machineries as the latter venture into agribusiness, Mr. Jose Alsmith Soria, DAR Information chief, said.

To effectively implement this project, DAR ties up with professional service providers (PSPs) that could lend their expertise such as State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), Mr. Soria added.

Meanwhile, DAR Regional Director Castillo disclosed that under the MOA, UEP will assess five (5) ARB organizations in Northern Samar; four (4) in Samar; and three (3) in Eastern Samar.

He added that all these ARB organizations are into rice production except for the two (2) organizations in Samar which will venture in organic vegetable production.

Director Castillo also disclosed that UEP was the first among the three SUCs in Eastern Visayas accredited by DAR for this project. The other two SUCs are the Visayas State University (VSU) in Baybay City, Leyte and the Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) in Sogod, Southern Leyte.





Professionalizing the Baragay Tanods training conducted in Babatngon

By Provincial Media Relations Center
March 19, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Barangay Tanods from all the barangays in Babatngon, Leyte recently underwent a five-day “Professionalizing the Baragay Tanods” training to further enhance their cooperation and abilities in the fight against criminality and for maintaining peace and order in the area.

The training, which was an initiative of the Liga ng Barangay in Babatngon led by ABC President Nico Alde, was conducted to orient barangay tanods on their duties and functions and provide them with adequate information on the basics of internal security operations since they are the first responders in their barangays.

Barangays have hired tanods in consonance with the provisions of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code wherein the Punong Barangay or barangay captain is given the power to create groups to maintain peace and order and respond to calamities and disasters.

ABC President Alde said that even with the concerted efforts of the ABC Office and the local government unit of Babatngon to provide more benefits to the barangay tanods, it must be acknowledged that the spirit of volunteerism and public service stands.

“Despite their meager honorarium, our tanods are persistently active in discharging their roles and responsibilities to ensure the safety of the people in the barangays,” Alde said.

Meanwhile, Leyte Gov. Carlos Jericho Petilla lauded the efforts of the Liga ng Barangay for conducting such a training while saying that barangay tanods play an important role in maintaining peace and order within the barangay level which is to augment the performance of functions of the police force.

The governor pointed out that as provided in the trainors guidebook of the DILG, the duties and responsibilities of the barangay tanod among others include assisting the barangay officials in the prevention of crime, promotion of public safety, and monitor the presence and activities of suspicious persons and lawless elements.

In his message during the pre-graduation rites of the training program, Gov. Petilla committed to provide one bicycle for each barangay for the tanods’ use during their nightly patrols. This aside from the uniform vest he distributed to all the barangay tanods during his visit.

“Attaining a peaceful community is not only a duty of a Local Government Unit and its local officials, the PNP and the AFP, but a shared responsibility with the community,” Gov. Petilla said.





97,703 Leyte farmers register in the DA National Farmers’ Registry System

farmers on the field

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 19, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY  –  About 97,703 farmers registered with the National Farmers Registry System which was piloted in the province of Leyte, the Department of Agriculture recently reported as it announced the completion in the implementation of the project.

DA Region 8 Regional Executive Director Antonio Gerundio informed that the number of registered farmers represent 62 percent of the total 157,465 target farmers in Leyte.

RED Gerundio added that of the total number of registered farmers, 58% comprises the male population and 42% for the female.

It was also observed that farmers aged 60 and above cover the most number of registered farmers with 29.6%.

For the type of farm, about 43% own rain-fed upland farms and about 53.64% has an area below 1.0 hectare.

The commonly used farm production machineries are plow, sprayer, rice transplanter, harrow, farm tractor and hand tractor, the latter covers the most number.

For the post production machineries, about 1,383 farmers own a thresher. Meanwhile, the most number of small scale irrigation systems are small farm reservoir and open source pump with 204 and 196, respectively.

Results also showed that the municipality or city with the highest number of registered farmers (5,052) is Baybay City and the best performing municipality based on the validated targets and farmers registered is the Municipality of Tabango (3,646 registered farmers and 3,708 validated).

The proposed National Farmers’ Registry System (NFRS) program is a voluntary registration system developed by the Department of Agriculture, wherein any farmer who actually tills and invests in a farm may enlist by providing relevant information and supporting documents.

The NFRS aims to establish a reliable data of farmers and farmlands so that the delivery of agricultural programs and services by the DA and other government agencies could be accessed by and/or timely delivered to the intended farmer clientele.

In addition, NFRS will be linked to the Unified and Geospatial Information System, a reliable and comprehensive database for agriculture and fisheries, which is intended not only to address existing data gaps, but most importantly, to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of support services to farmers.





DOH Secretary bares plans to turn EVRMC into a modern medical center

health secretary Enrique Ona in eastern visayas
Health secretary Enrique Ona (center) answers questions from the media during a press conference held at Leyte Park Hotel, Tacloban City, March 15. Also in photo are (l-r) presscon moderator PIA-8 regional director Olive Tiu, PhilHealth regional vice-president Jerry Ibay, DOH 8 assistant regional director Minerva Molon and DOH regional director Jaime Bernadas. (VINO R. CUAYZON)

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 17, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY  –  There is a plan to transfer the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center into a bigger location and to develop it into a modern, state-of-the-art medical center.

This was disclosed by Health Secretary Enrique Ona during the Harampang Ha PIA press conference held at Leyte Park Hotel in the morning of March 15.

Secretary Ona said that the plan to transfer the EVRMC to another location is part of the DOH policy to ensure a better and more efficient health service to the public.

Considering that EVRMC is serving the entire region, it has to have better facilities and bigger space to cater to the growing health need of the people of Eastern Visayas, Secretary Ona said.

“We have here a catchment population of about 4 million. In any language, the region no longer needs an ordinary hospital. You really need facilities and health services that are also available in Manila so that the people would no longer go to Manila or Cebu,” Secretary Ona said.

According to him, considering that the project is a big undertaking, the amount to bankroll the project would also involve a bigger amount as he projected it to cost about P3 billion.

Since this is a big project, Secretary Ona said that he does not expect the relocation to be completed soon. The project cannot be realized within two years but within the term of the present administration.

Secretary Ona mentioned that DOH is eyeing the unfinished hospital at Barangay Cabalawan in Tacloban to be the site of EVRMC. In fact, the Secretary and his party were scheduled to visit the site after the press conference.

The Secretary, however, said that the site is just one of the options. He disclosed that he has requested Leyte Governor Petilla for a site and the Governor pledged to look into the matter.

The Secretary said that his visit to Leyte is part of his routine visits to the various regional offices as he looks into the progress of the DOH Health Facilities Enhancement program implementation.





Health chief lauds Leyte’s program to improve hospitals

By Provincial Media Relations Center
March 16, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Health Secretary Enrique Ona lauded the hospital facility enhancement project being implemented by the provincial government of Leyte and its incentive program for doctors and staff which has helped improved the facilities and services provided by province-run hospitals including the Leyte Provincial Hospital (LPH).

In his recent visit, Sec. Ona inspected new facilities constructed at the LPH and looked over upgraded infrastructure and equipment provided by the Department of Health under its Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP).

The Leyte Provincial Hospital which has been allotted with DOH funding in the amount of P11,034,000 about P5 million of  which are for the repair renovation and expansion of infrastructure, and the remaining P6,034 for equipping.

Leyte Gov. Carlos Jericho Petilla personally briefed the health chief on how the province managed to improve its hospital facilities and provided a way to give incentives for doctors and medical staff of the hospitals, which convinced them to stay and render their service in a government hospital than the more lucrative private medical practice here or abroad.

The governor also emphasized of the province’ thrust to widen its coverage for health insurance under the LGU-sponsored health insurance program of PhilHealth for indigent residents of the province.

He likewise shared Leyte’s move to identify hospitals under it for specific specializations such as the Abuyog District Hospital which is tapped to be the regional center for the treatment of filariasis.

Gov. Petilla said that the provincial government through the Provincial Health Office of Leyte will also continue in 2012 the implementation and management of the Inter Local Health Zone trust fund operations, with the province’s 40 municipalities and one city, having been divided into 10 Inter Local Health Zones.

Meanwhile, Sec. Ona lauded these efforts of the provincial government and called for the fast tracking of the completion of the facility enhancements as, “every government facility upgraded will lead to that many more Filipinos with health needs being served in an appropriate and timely manner.”

While in the province, Secretary Ona also attend the inauguration of Mother Bles Birthing Center where he pledged to donate one delivery table to the Center.





ES Ochoa leads launch of battery-powered commuter bus

battery-powered bus
Executive Secretary N. Paquito Ochoa Jr. leads the launching of battery-powered commuter bus called eBus at the Kalayaan Grounds, Malacañang on March 16, 2012. The Climate Change Commission partnered with Victory Liner to produce the new breed of commuter bus under the program “Victory Against Climate Change”. (ROBERT VINAS / Malacañang Photo Bureau)

Press Release
March 16, 2012

MANILA  –  Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. turned on the ignition of a new breed of commuter bus that was designed to run on batteries thus, produces no greenhouse gas (GHG) and is a boon in the government’s efforts to stop climate change.

The introduction of the battery-powered bus, called eBus, was made possible through the program dubbed ‘Victory Against Climate Change’, a partnership between the Climate Change Commission and Victory Liner, one of the leading transportation operators in the country. President Benigno Aquino III is the Commission’s Chairperson.

Under Republic Act 9729, also known as the Climate Change Act of 2009, the Commission is mandated to promote and provide technical support to local research and development programs that will help address climate change.

“We are looking at the eBus as one of the vehicles that will carry government efforts to address the causes of climate change.  The use of gasoline or diesel in our vehicles has been identified by science as one of the causes of climate change as it produces carbon dioxide, one of the major GHG in our atmosphere,” Ochoa explained.

Sec. Mary Ann Lucille L. Sering, Commission Vice-Chair, said that the use of battery-powered vehicles is one of the strategies under the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) to help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.  She also said that the greenhouse gas inventory of the Philippines revealed that the transportation sector is the highest emitter of greenhouse gases.

“You need not be an expert to recognize the problem of pollution in the cities, particularly in Metro Manila.  Just look at our streets and you will see commuter vehicles belching black smoke.  That is not only bad for our climate but also for our health,” she said.

Sering said that there is a need to engage the private sector more in the effort to fight against climate change and expressed hope that other transportation companies will adopt the new technology.

The bus runs on 400V “Winston” rare-earth Yttrium Lithium-ion battery with a maximum speed of 90 kph.  The bus has 26 seats but can carry a total of 52 passengers.





Filipino rights workers file complaints on violent demolitions and arbitrary detention before the UN, ask support of int’l community for Palparan’s arrest

Filipino rights workers

By Philippine UPR WATCH
March 14, 2012

GENEVA, Switzerland  –  The Philippine UPR Watch, an ecumenical delegation of Philippine human rights organizations and advocates that engages in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), capped the delegation’s activities in Geneva, Switzerland by filing complaints before the offices of UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Raquel Rolnik and Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Chair Malick Sow on the continuous rights violations under Philippine Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

In behalf of Demolition Watch Network, a group of urban poor leaders and advocates for rights to decent housing and livelihood, the group lamented the “intensified violent evictions of residents in urban poor communities in the Philippines and the continuing violations on the right to adequate housing and other human rights.”

“Under the new administration of President Aquino, Demolition Watch Network documented more than 50 incidents of violent eviction of homes in Metro-Manila alone, from 19 communities and affecting more than 16,000 families.  Thousands of families were left homeless and jobless, millions worth of livelihood and properties were destroyed and many children stopped schooling and were traumatized,” said Nardy Sabino, secretary general of the Promotion for Church People’s Response and convener of Phil. UPR Watch.

Sabino further cited the recent cases of violent evictions in Brgy. Corazon de Jesus, San Juan City and communities along the Phil. National Railway Site, where hundreds of police personnel and demolition teams were deployed to violently disperse and illegally arrest residents and supporters asserting their right to tenure in the areas where they live.

“These evictions are being conducted to pave the way for so-called development projects, but these only resulted to increase the number of poor Filipinos who are forced to live on the streets and become homeless. They live in makeshift tents, as small as animal cages, with no water and electricity. They endured cold nights, typhoons; heavy rains and floods in their tents. They have nowhere to go. Worst of all, every now and then, the government forces have no mercy and forcibly evict them from their tents instead of giving them decent housing and help them in restoring their lives,” he added.

Sr. Stella Matutina OSB of Panalipdan Mindanao meanwhile said along with violent demolitions and violation on the rights to decent and adequate housing, there are continuous occurrences of arbitrary arrests and detention of individuals and activists.

The group filed complaints on the cases of artist Ericson Acosta and film student Maricon Montajes before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, among the 347 political prisoners (as of December 31, 2011) who were arrested and are currently detained under Aquino’s watch.

“Despite its denial of the existence of political prisoners in the country, the Aquino administration can never hide the fact that political prisoners continue to be violated for each day they remain inside jail under his administration. Criminalization of alleged political offenses, a widespread practice to hide the political nature of the illegal arrests and trumped-up cases filed against these individuals and activists, remains a salient feature of Aquino’s counter-insurgency policy Oplan Bayanihan,” Matutina said.

The mission likewise conducted several activities to call for the support of the international community to press the Aquino government to step up its efforts for the immediate arrest of Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.

“It has been three months since the warrant of arrest was issued against Palparan and as he remains scot-free, he continues to insult the victims by remaining at-large. Palparan, by evading arrest, also mocks and makes a fool of the P-Noy government,” said Cristina Palabay, spokesperson of Karapatan. The delegation also distributed and showed Wanted: Palparan posters during their activities in the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Sabino, Matutina and Palabay were joined in the Philippine UPR Watch delegation by Atty. Edre Olalia of the NUPL and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL); and, Maribel Mapanao of the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) - Switzerland.

The group met and briefed various foreign diplomatic missions and international NGOs based in Geneva as well as representatives of UN human rights special procedures and the Filipino migrant community on the state of human rights in the Philippines. The Philippines will be subjected to the second cycle of the UPR this May 28 to June 3, 2012.



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