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Hospital Ship USNS Mercy visit Samar, Philippines

Former rebels avail Local Social Integration Program grant in Samar province

Farmers and fishers of Leyte cry freedom from mining

DENR receives 128k signatures vs Romblon mining

New LP members sworn in from Leyte’s fourth district

Army’s ‘Bayanihan’ activity in Samar continues

VP Binay welcomes Magsaysay and Garcia to PDP-Laban

Grand consultation with farmers sector and launching of PAMANA projects

Christian Ivan Salud wins gold, silver in Palarong Pambansa 2012

Rep. Casiño renews call to outlaw homophobia, presses government to pass human rights bill




Trial court judges learn about international humanitarian law

international humanitarian law training for judges
PHILJA Chancellor Adolfo Azcuna, a former Supreme Court justice, discusses the principles of international humanitarian law to participant judges from the Eastern Visayas region. (photo by ICRC/JM Sison)

June 20, 2012

MANILA  –  As a concrete step towards implementing international humanitarian law in the Philippines, some 40 regional trial court judges from Eastern Visayas took part yesterday (June 19) in a specialized training session that was the first of its kind for the judiciary in the country.

Organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA), this session was the first to cover Republic Act 9851 since the relatively recent enactment of this domestic legislation related to international humanitarian law. R.A. 9851 defines, and sets out penalties for, violations of international humanitarian law and genocide and other crimes against humanity. The training, held in Palo, Leyte, was organized for regional trial court judges as they have jurisdiction over cases to be filed under R.A. 9851.

International humanitarian law is a set of rules that aims to minimize the effects of armed conflict by protecting those who are not, or are no longer, participating in hostilities ‘such as civilians, or detained or wounded fighters’ and by limiting the means and methods of warfare. The passage of R.A. 9851 was considered a major breakthrough in the implementation of international humanitarian law in the Philippines.

"While R.A. 9851 took effect in 2010, insufficient awareness of the law within the sectors involved in prosecuting crimes remains a challenge," said ICRC legal adviser Evecar Cruz-Ferrer. "As the guardian of international humanitarian law, the ICRC supports training that enables the judiciary to better understand this body of law. The training session just held is a positive step towards acquainting judges in the Philippines with real-life applications of international humanitarian law."

The ICRC, a recognized authority in the field of international humanitarian law, provided technical advice to the executive and legislative branches of government during the preparatory work leading to the passage of R.A. 9851 and other laws relating to the protection of people adversely affected by armed conflict. As a neutral and independent humanitarian organization, the ICRC has a clear and long-established practice of not becoming involved in judicial proceedings. It plays no role in investigating, prosecuting or punishing offenses.

PHILJA Chancellor Adolfo Azcuna, a former Supreme Court justice, and Dean Sedfrey Candelaria of Ateneo Law School were among the experts who delivered lectures at the training event, the first of a series to be conducted by the ICRC and PHILJA.

The ICRC, which has been working in the Philippines for more than 50 years, reminds parties to conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law and participates in the development of this body of law. The ICRC has been visiting detainees and assisting people in need throughout the decades of internal armed conflicts in the Philippines.





Rise in maternal deaths due to lack of RH policy, say RH Advocates

June 20, 2012

QUEZON CITY  –  Following the Department of Health’s (DOH) admission of the rising maternal deaths in the country, a group of leading reproductive health (RH) advocates cited the lack of a national policy that will provide comprehensive services on RH and family planning as one of the major reasons why maternal mortality rate (MMR) has not declined in the past decade.

According to Romeo Dongeto, Executive Director of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), the results of the 2011 Family Health Survey (FHS) present a clear picture of the current state of our health system and underscore the grim reality that the efforts of the government have failed to meaningfully address the poor’s lack of access to health services, particularly on reproductive health.

Dongeto laments that through the years, access to family planning services remains a challenge. The government’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) grant program has not been very effective since it has resulted in uneven and non-standardized provision of services.  The decision to provide RH and FP education and services is left to LGU officials.  “It has left the impression that MCHN is optional,” explains Dongeto.

Dongeto also cited the facts that certain LGUs ban family planning services, which denied their constituents, especially poor women, of the much needed information and services on how to plan their pregnancies. The 2011 Family Health Survey showed that between 2006 and 2011, the MMR increased from 162 to 221.  This means that the number of Filipino mothers who died in childbirth had risen from 162 in 2009 to 221 in 2011 per 100,000 live births.  “Too close and too frequent pregnancies, coupled with lack of services are causing the deaths of poor women.” Dongeto stressed.

“We do not want to point fingers. But we are calling the leadership of Congress to pass the RH bill now.  This is what we’ve got after more than 10 years of dilly-dallying on the proposed measure – an alarming increase in maternal deaths,” he said.

“We do not claim that the enactment of the RH bill will address all maternal health related issues, but a law on RH will help resolve the lack of access to RH and FP education and services among women, especially the poor.  A national law will ensure that LGUs will allocate funding and will implement concrete programs on reproductive health,“ Dongeto ended.





ANAD blast Rep. Palatino’s bill vs. religious images and activities in public offices and spaces

By ANAD Partylist
June 20, 2012

QUEZON CITY  –  Maoist communists, particularly their sectoral front and partylist groups, are baring their ‘true skin’ as non-believers of God by slowly tearing apart religion and faith in our Creator, the very foundation of our country’s life and being; and of the family as an institution!

The Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) Partylist issued this statement in reaction to House Bill 6330 entitled “Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act” filed by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino seeking “to empower heads of government offices and departments to strictly follow the constitutional provision on the freedom of religion in the exercise of their official functions, and in the use of government facilities and property.” (Lawmaker wants religion out of gov't offices, 6/16/2012,

“As principal author of the measure, Rep. Palatino deliberately expressed twisted interpretation of the Constitution that has since guaranteed every Filipino’s freedom of religion and free religious expression. Nowhere in any of the provisions in our Constitution that prohibits the expression of one’s faith and belief in God by prayer or Mass in any place in the country, even in public spaces and offices,” emphasized Rep. Alcover.

The pro-democracy solon pointed out that with about 85% of Filipinos belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, “It is understandable that the 3 o’clock prayer in the afternoon, on weekdays, and the offering of the Holy Mass in some public offices and edifices, on special occasion and events, are held. However, non-Catholics are not forced or obliged to participate but are very much welcome if they do so, in their own volition,” Rep. Alcover pointed out.

“True to being Mao’s protégé, Rep. Palatino obligingly is plainly referring to Karl Marx’s doctrine – ‘Religion is the opium of the people’ and the display of religious images and practices must be prohibited in government offices and edifices. In reality, House Bill 6330 is just the first step towards what Filipinos should expect under a Jose Ma. Sison-led communist dictatorship,” Rep. Alcover said.

Pointing to his experience and knowledge in the Maoist communist underground, covering about 10 years, Rep. Alcover said “We were told that religion and faith in God is opposed to the doctrines and objectives of the communist organization. Still afresh in my memory was the time when we were ordered by the CPP leadership to openly denounce and condemn the so-called ‘Clerico-Fascists’, mainly the clergies and nuns of the Roman Catholic Church and other religious sects.”

Realizing that religion and faith in God is deeply rooted among Filipinos, the Maoist communist leadership made a 180° turnaround and took in many priests and nuns, including pastors of different Christian churches mainly from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), to their fold while riding high on the so-called Liberation Theology of Vatican II, Rep. Alcover explained.

He named some of the erstwhile Clerico-Fascists turned exponents of the communist ideology as Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB of the Task Force Detainees (TFD); Fr. Rustico Tan MSC aka Tikoy of the NPA in Central Visayas; Fr. Nick Ruiz, Fr. Frank Navarro in Caraga, Fr. Frank Fernandez in Negros Islands; and many more who are with the Maoist terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF underground Christians for National Liberation (CNL).

“Through their bills and other legislative measures in Congress, Maoist communist partylist groups are giving us a peek of their Godless ideology”, Rep. Alcover said citing the Reproductive Health and Divorce bills filed by Maoist communist partylist representatives that are now pending in Congress and the soon to be filed bill allowing Same-Sex-Marriage, by the same communist group.

“In fact, same-sex-marriage is now openly practiced within their Godless and violent Maoist organization. Because of these, we should not be surprised if Palatino and his comrades pursue measures against religion and destroying the family, the very fundamental institution of government. Instead the ante of concern and alarm should be raised among God fearing Filipinos to stave-off Maoist communist assault on our faith and religion. Remember, non-Catholics are not exempted from the communist’s wrath!” he stressed.

Read related article: What is religious freedom?





Shooting incident at Robinson’s Place

By RPCRD, Police Regional Office 8
June 20, 2012

CAMP RUPERTO KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte  –  A Security Guard suspect of a shooting incident was apprehended by Tacloban City Police Station 1.

Suspect was identified as Archie Acebo Riel of Barangay 62, Sagkahan, Tacloban City and a Security Guard at Robinson”s Place, Marasbaras, this city.

According to report, at about 4:50 PM on June 18, 2012, suspect was on duty as Security Guard at Robinson’s Appliance Center. He had a heated argument with the victim identified as a certain Leo Silvano Salogaol, 26 years old, an employee/salesman of Whirlpool products of the establishment and a resident of Barangay Talalora, Tanauan, Leyte.

It was learned that when the victim was about to go out from the establishment, he was then frisked by the suspect prompting him to punch the latter on the left face. The suspect then pulled out his issued caliber .38 revolver shooting the victim twice on the chest causing commotion on the mall-goers.

The victim was immediately rushed to Bethany Hospital but was pronounced dead after several hours of medical treatment.

The suspect then was brought to Police Station 1, Marasbaras, Tacloban City for proper disposition and subsequently detained at TCPO lock-up cell. Confiscated from him was the issued caliber .38 Armscor Revolver with serial number 1094081 containing two (2) live ammos and two (2) empty shells.

A case was filed before the suspect charging him for Homicide before the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City.





PH retains Tier 2 status in U.S. trafficking report - VP Binay

By OVP Media
June 20, 2012

MANILA  –  The Philippines has retained its Tier 2 status in the latest Global Trafficking in Persons (GTIP) Report of the United States Department of State, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay announced today in Jeddah.

“As Chairman Emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), I am pleased to announce that the Philippines has retained its Tier 2 status in the U.S. State Department’s Global Trafficking in Persons Report for 2012,” Binay said.

Binay said the country’s consistent performance was the result of the effective coordination from all member-agencies of the IACAT.

He congratulated the members of the council and thanked the non-government organizations (NGOs) involved in the anti-trafficking drive of the government.

“Under President Benigno Aquino III’s leadership and in a span of two years, we have exceeded what the previous administration had accomplished in five years. We were able to achieve 39 trafficking-related convictions in a span of 22 months compared to the 29 convictions the previous administration had from 2005 to June 2010,” the Vice President said.

He added that under President Benigno Aquino III, the country has remained consistent in the Tier 2 category.

“Being in Tier 2 status means that we are making significant efforts to comply with the requirements of the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA),” he said.

“We were in Tier 2 Watch List status during the previous administration, in danger of being placed under Tier 3, which means being included in the list of countries that do not cooperate in the fight against trafficking and subjected to US foreign assistance sanctions,” he added.

Binay said that IACAT has taken note of the U.S. State Department’s recommendations in the report.

Recommendations included in the report were for the government to “sustain the intensified effort to investigate, prosecute, and convict an increased number of both labor and sex trafficking offenders in the trafficking of Filipinos within the country and abroad” and increase funding for anti-trafficking programs of all IACAT member-agencies.

The report also noted that the government needed to “address the significant backlog of trafficking cases by developing mechanisms to track and monitor the status of cases filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ),” conduct “immediate and rigorous” investigations of government officials complicit in trafficking activities.”

Furthermore, the GTIP report recommended the strengthening of anti-trafficking training for police recruits, front-line officers, and police investigators, and to improve collaboration between NGOs and law enforcement authorities.





Smart expands ‘Piso Sale’ lineup

Press Release
June 20, 2012

MAKATI CITY  –  An Apple iPhone, a Samsung Tablet, and a Windows Phone each for only one Peso each: these are just some of the great gadgets that wireless leader Smart is putting up for grabs as it adds more to its  Piso Sale lineup.

With every postpaid application or contract renewal from June 18 to 25, 2012, both new and existing Smart All-In Plan 1800 subscribers can purchase the premium Apple iPhone 4, the business-centric Nokia E7, or the entertainment-savvy Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 for the price of a piece of candy.

Similarly, Smart All-In Plan 1200 subscribers can take home the stylish Apple iPhone 3GS and the robust Nokia E5 for the same price while All-In Plan 800 subscribers can have their pick between the elegant Nokia N9 (16/64GB) or a functional Netbook PC.

Budget postpaid subscribers can also join in on the savings spree as the Windows-powered HTC Mozart, the intelligent Samsung Wave II S8530, and the quirky QWERTY Nokia E72 are also available for one Peso at All-in Plan 500.

Lastly, those looking to own basic yet functional phones such as the Netphone 501 and the Nokia C2-03, can do so by signing up for a Smart Unli Call & Text Plan 599.

“We’ve made owning the best devices on the best network easier than ever before,” said Smart Postpaid Marketing Head Kathy Carag. “And to top it off, we also have the only network that will let you and your gadget Live More than how you thought was possible,” she said.

For more information on the Piso Sale and other Smart Postpaid offerings, visit or go the Smart Store nearest you.





Cayetano called on the government to investigate killings of environmentalists and DENR employees

Press Release
June 19, 2012

PASAY CITY  –  Senate minority leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano called on the government to act on the reported killings of employees of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and environmentalists.

He said that the fact that the killings are not sensational media items, it is no reason for the national government to take the deaths lightly.

“It is disappointing to note that nothing has been heard of results of investigations on the deaths. Are these deaths all in vain? ,” he asked.

He noted that to date, 14 DENR employees and environmentalists have been killed under the Aquino administration, DENR Butuan employee Ricardo Magallanes being the most recent on June 1.

“This series of events has a chilling effect on various environmental groups,” he said.

“Instead of speaking out against illegal loggers and other violators of the country’s environmental laws, they will cease to do so for fear of their lives,” he added.

He cited the case of the illegal logging operations discovered inside the 13,800-hectare forest traversing Zambales and the Pangasinan town of Mangaterem.

The senator said the Aquino administration’s call for environmental protection should be matched by measures that will protect those who respond to the call.

“Violators have no qualms resorting to violence to keep their operations profitable. Government must send a strong message to those who intimidate and silence environmentalists with impunity that these acts will not go unpunished,” he said.

The minority leader suggested the creation of a joint DENR and Department of Justice (DOJ) task-force to investigate the deaths and recommend measures to counter the deadly tactics of the syndicates and unscrupulous businessmen.

Cayetano stressed that with local agencies manning the front lines, it is incumbent upon the national government to provide all the support in the campaign particularly against illegal loggers and miners.





VP Binay to meet Pope; flies to Rome from Saudi

By OVP Media
June 19, 2012

MANILA  –  Vice President Jejomar C. Binay will fly to Rome to meet with Pope Benedict XVI after he conveys the country’s condolences to King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud on the passing of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Prior to the death of the Crown Prince, I was originally scheduled to leave for Italy a few days from today, to meet with our OFWs there. Because of this change in timetable, I will now be proceeding to Rome from Saudi Arabia after a short stop in Dubai,” the Vice President said in a statement before his departure.

Binay said he considers the private audience with the Pope “a great privilege” knowing how busy the Pontiff is.

“I look forward to it with great joy and expectation, coming as it does on a date so close to the scheduled canonization of a new Filipino saint, Pedro Calungsod, in October, and my own 40th wedding anniversary on July 4,” he said.

“I hope to convey to the Holy Father all the good wishes of our people, most of whom are members of the Church, and for whom he has shown so much love and affection,” he added.

The Vice President further said that the Pope also had just announced that the next Eucharistic Congress, one of the biggest events of the Catholic Church every three years, would be held in Cebu in 2015.

Binay flew to Saudi as President Benigno Aquino’s representative.

The Crown Prince died of an unspecified lingering illness on June 16 at a hospital in Switzerland. He was 78 years old.

Binay said the Crown Prince was “a good friend of the Philippines and the Filipino people” who helped keep the people of Saudi Arabia, including the one million or so Overseas Filipino Workers, out of harm’s way through his anti-terrorism campaigns.

“For this alone, the Prince deserves the gratitude and prayers of our people,” he said.

While in Jeddah, the Vice President will also meet with the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia. He did the same during his last visit to the Arab state.

“Last year, I had a most memorable and productive meeting with thousands of Filipino workers who were stranded and awaiting repatriation at the Hajj Terminal. Through the help of His Majesty, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, we were able to facilitate their return to the Philippines shortly after my visit,” he said.

Binay is the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) concerns.





Landmines recovered by Army troops in Samar

June 18, 2012

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar  –  The 63rd Infantry (Innovator) Battalion, 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division, Philippine Army commanded by LTC Dante B Barotilla INF (GSC) PA encountered around 30 NPA members at vicinity Brgy Geparayan, Silvino Lobos, Northern Samar yesterday June 17, 2012 around 1:57PM.

Pfc Rolly S Lapitanfrom Geparayan CAFGU Active Auxiliary Patrol Base led the operating troops during the encounter which resulted to the recovery of four (4) landmines, six (6) backpacks, six (6) rolls electrical wires, one (1) ICOM, one (1) binocular and assorted magazine with live ammunitions. No casualties were reported on the government side while undetermined numbers on the enemy side.

The 8ID is continuously conducting Peace and Development Activities (PDA) in Samar to assist the local governments in identifying and addressing the primary needs of the communities. The PDA is in close coordination and collaboration with the Local Government Units, Local Government Agencies, Civic Oriented Groups and other Stakeholders in order to have a peaceful and progressive community. However, the NPA continuously perpetrates terroristic and illegal acts such as landmine operations in order to sow fear among civilian communities and hamper development in the region.

“The Philippine Army is calling civilian communities and all Samareños to denounce all terroristic acts done by the NPA for continuously utilizing landmines against civilian targets and government troops. These landmines not only cause undue harm but also endanger the lives of the civilians living in the area” said BGen Gerardo T Layug AFP, Commander, 8ID, PA.

“The 8ID troops will continuously pursue its military operations in order to safeguard the communities against all forms of threat to peace and development. I personally commend the troops of LTC Barotilla for their successful Peace and Development Activities and also for pre-empting incalculable damage to the community in Silvino Lobos that would have been caused by the NPA’s use of landmines” added Layug.



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