Your latest news happening from here at home and abroad
news 479


more news...

Chiz tells COMELEC to set date for source code review

RD Soria recognizes policewomen’s role in governance and peacekeeping

RAFI, Dalaguete LGU address lack of classrooms

No water contamination at Kananga River, EMB says

Tacloban City hosts America in 3D 2013

RSOG arrest thieves, recovers P1.2M worth of jewelries, seized guns

Fruit vendor arrested in buy-bust

Samar peace and development caravan draws more than five hundred rural folks

Silago barangay is once again among best lupons in the country

LTO to enforce law on early warning devices starting March 1


NDF-EV warns politicians against vote-buying and election violence

By NDF-Eastern Visayas
April 7, 2013

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today said that election candidates campaigning in the revolutionary jurisdiction will be strictly monitored to prevent vote-buying and election violence.

“The election candidates must comply with the guidelines of the people's democratic government, especially the prohibition of vote-buying and coercion,” said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson.

“While the reactionary ruling system pretends to undergo clean and honest elections, the reality is that traditional politics have always meant the use of money and armed minions to buy and coerce votes. Thus, the revolutionary movement asserts to the traditional politicians that such condescencion towards the people will not be tolerated.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson noted that previous studies have shown the reactionary elections as elitist and rotten to the core. “Even the legally allowed ceilings for campaign spending show that candidates for top positions must be multimillionaires. That means they are representatives of big landlords and big business. Noynoy Aquino, for example, legally spent more than P400 million in 2010 to win the presidency. In reality, however, a candidate for president can spend more than P2 billion to mobilize the resources necessary to win, according to a 2001 study by IBON Foundation on the 1998 Estrada presidential campaign.

“Candidates at the local level spend commensurately. A candidate for governor or congressman typically spends P100-200 million to win, not just in the legal campaign, but to either buy or coerce votes. They are spending such for three-year positions roughly worth about P3 million in accumulated salaries. It goes to show that the winning candidates will be recouping their spending by continuing the vicious cycle of systematic corruption, patronage politics and crime while in power.”

Fr. Salas said the New People's Army has been tasked to enforce the guidelines of the people's democratic government in the reactionary elections. “The NPA will be vigilant against vote-buying, which is forbidden by the people's democratic government. The buying of votes takes advantage of the people's desperation as well as sows corruption and disunity. Even families have been known to fight among themselves over money from rival politicians. Thus, the NPA will confiscate any war-chest for vote-buying by the politicians, and turn these over to the local organs of political power and mass organizations to be used for the benefit of the people. However, if the election candidates will give financial support to projects for the benefit of the people and not for the buying of individual votes, they will be allowed to do so.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson also warned that armed minions of reactionary candidates, including the military, police and paramilitary, will be regarded as legitimate targets by the NPA.

“It is well-known that traditional politicians build up their own private armies as well as cultivate relationships with the military, police and paramilitary. The NPA intends to break up these private armies and confiscate their weapons for coercing votes and sowing fear among the people. Government security forces who bolster the private armies of the traditional politicians are of course legitimate targets. In their negotiations for electoral access to revolutionary areas, the election candidates have already been made fully aware of the guidelines regarding their security escorts. Any violation will be accordingly dealt with.”

Fr. Salas said vote-buying and election violence prove the pro-elite and rotten state of the reactionary ruling system. “Vote-buying and election violence are essential to the reactionary elections and unmask the farce of the process. Even the strict vigilance of the NPA and those who serve as election watchdogs can only to do so much. The only way to a genuinely democratic system of governance such as that enjoyed in the revolutionary areas is in doing away with the reactionary ruling system entirely.”





Chiz rallies voters to seek full transparency from bets

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
April 6, 2013

PASAY CITY – Senator Chiz Escudero exhorted voters to demand that political candidates execute an unconditional waiver of secrecy of bank deposits, the compliance for which would help form informed decisions on election day.

"Di na uso ang magnanakaw sa tuwid na daan ni Pangulong Aquino. Naniniwala ako na mataas na ang batayan ng mga botante natin kung saan hanap nila ay mga tapat na mga halal na opisyal, yung hindi magnanakaw at walang balak magnakaw (Plunderers have no room in President Aquino's straight path. I believe that Filipino voters now have a high standard on the officials that they put into office, honest people who shun corruption)," Escudero said.

He issued the call to Filipino voters a day after issuing a challenge to government officials and those aspiring for public office including senatorial candidates to execute waivers on secrecy of their bank deposits to accompany the submission of statements of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN).

"Candidates in the coming elections without exception should make public their financial records going by the dictum that working in government is a privilege and not a right,” Escudero said.

An investigate report had implicated several high-profile Filipino personalities mainly politicians as maintaining offshore corporations or trust accounts.

While owning assets in offshore tax havens is not against the law, government officials and employees are required to declare these in their yearly statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN).

Escudero said those serving in government – members of the Executive, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the Judiciary, including judges and justices of the Supreme Court – should also execute the waivers.

Escudero had filed a bill, Senate bill 107 or the Submission of Waiver of Bank Deposits bill, starting in 2010 that seeks the mandatory signing of bank waivers. The controversy involving the illegal use of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) funds prompted the filing of the bill.

It was refiled in the current Congress amid the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, who issued a waiver on the secrecy of his bank accounts which was a major issue in the impeachment trial.

“I will refile the bill in my next Senate term. A similar waiver was required of Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial and it only follows that all those in government service should be subjected to the same rules and standard,” Escudero said.

“The bill on the waiver of secrecy of bank deposits is the missing link to prevent public officials from using the banking system to hide plundered funds,” he added.

Escudero said he signed a bank secrecy waiver which was submitted to the Senate President a day before the historic verdict to convict Corona on his impeachment case was handed down on March 28, 2012.

The waiver authorizes the Office of the Ombudsman to open bank accounts for scrutiny of government agencies such as the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).





PRO8 arrests farmer who made daughter his sex slave

By RPCRD, Police Regional Office 8
April 5, 2013

CAMP SEC. KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte – The long arms of the law finally caught up a farmer who made his daughter his sex slave for 3 years when he was arrested by policemen after five years in hiding.

“The suspect thought he can escape liability on his evil deeds, but unfortunately for him, our intelligence gathering efforts paid off,” Police Chief Superintendent Elmer Ragadio Soria, Regional Director of Police Regional Office 8 (PRO8) said.

Soria identified the suspect as Nelson Villagracia y Rivera, 43, married, of Brgy Lupig, Sta Rita, Samar.

Villagracia was arrested by a police team led by PSInsp. Romelito Sorila early Tuesday morning at the outskirts of Brgy. Lupig after receiving positive information from Barangay Intelligence Network (BIN) member on his presence in the area.

The police team was armed with an arrest warrant issued by Hon. Jovito Abarquez, former Presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 30 in Basey, Samar.

Suspect is facing 2 counts of rape charges docketed under criminal case numbers 2008-12-3369 and 2008-12-3370 and is ranked number 1 in the list of most wanted persons in Sta. Rita town.

For three years, suspect allegedly made his then 8-year old daughter, name withheld, a sex slave since year 2005.

Villagracia’s criminal acts was discovered when the victim finally reported her ordeal to her grandmother sometime in April 2008 who immediately sought the assistance of the police. The victim was allegedly last raped by her father on that same day she braved to report to her grandmother to put an end to her agony.

The suspect immediately went into hiding before the police could arrest him.

Intelligence efforts have been carried out to track down the whereabouts of the Villagracia and a significant breakthrough came on Good Friday when the police received information that the target person was sighted at vicinity of Brgy. Lupig.

It was then that a manhunt operation was conducted leading to the suspect’s arrest.

Villagracia is currently detained at Basey Sub-Provincial Jail while awaiting trial for the cases he is facing, Soria further informed.





Farmers organizations vow continued support to military’s call for peace

By 19th Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
April 5, 2013

CALUBIAN, Leyte – Well-wishers of Samahan sa Mag-uuma sa Calubian (SAMACA) and Kahugpungang Mag-uuma sa San Isidro (KAMAS) vowed to support the 802nd Infantry Brigade’s call for peace during the 12th Anniversary of the so-called “Balik-uma” held at Brgy. Jubay this town on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.

The whole day celebration started with a mass presided by Rev. Allan Cenit, a minister from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) at around 10:00 a.m. This was followed by short program at about 1:00 in the afternoon with Col. Rafael Valencia, the commanding officer of the Ormoc based 802nd Infantry Brigade as guest speaker.

KAMAS and SAMACA which has nearly 2,000 followers were communist-inspired organizations according to a certain Mayang, former secretary of the decimated Northern Leyte Front of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Leyte.

For years, KAMAS and SAMACA battled over rights to farm within the thousand hectares of land owned by the “Larrazabals”. Their call was officially heard on April 3, 2001 when the “Larrazabals” offered portions of their land to be nurtured by the members.

During the activity, leaders of SAMACA and KAMAS hoped that better opportunities would come to them now that they turn away from the New People’s Army.

In his speech, Col. Valencia stressed that the military is not against the ideology of the NPA but will implement actions to rebels for them to abandon the armed struggle which had been futile for more than forty years.

It can be recalled that Col. Valencia suggested the reorganization of KAMAS and SAMACA into eight associations. Valencia also initiated visits and consultative dialogues with Local Chief Executives and appropriate government agencies for legal, administrative and financial support to the said associations.

With the support of the military, the Taglawigan Farmers Association of San Isidro, Leyte was officially registered in the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) a day before the Anniversary of Balik-uma. Same support was likewise being extended by the troops of 19th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Joel Alejandro Nacnac to the farmers associations in Calubian and San Isidro, Leyte.

Application for registration of other six farmers associations and one fisher folks association are now being processed at the DOLE Regional Office VIII.





Former NPA organization celebrates anniversary with army troops in Leyte

By 802nd Infantry Brigade, 8ID PA
April 4, 2013

ORMOC CITY – Almost one thousand members of the eight organizations organized in the early ‘90s by the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front (CNN) in Leyte celebrates openly their 12th Anniversary under the folds of the law with the government troops, Non-Government Organizations and Civil Society Organizations last April 3, 2013 in Barangay Jubay, Calubian, Leyte.

Colonel Rafael C Valencia, Commander of the Army’s 802nd Brigade based in Camp Downes, Ormoc City said that the 802nd Brigade and 19th Infantry Battalion of 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army are closely working with these organizations to attain their dreams in a peaceful manner, without armed struggle.

“We are helping these organizations to be registered with DOLE. One of these Associations already got their certificate of registration, making them a duly government-recognized organization. Other government agencies, NGOs and CSOs have signified to help these organizations achieve their dreams. This is Bayanihan in action”, Colonel Valencia added.

“The registration of the organization will not only benefit the association, but will also be a significant advancement since they have already a personality in dealing with the government agencies, NGOs and or CSOs”, Colonel Valencia ended.

These farmers and fisher folks organizations are: Taglawigan Farmers Organization, Taglawigan Fisher Folks Organization, Catoogan Farmers Association from San Isidro, Leyte; Sorosimbahan Farmers Association, Jubay Farmers Association, Airport Farmers Association, Cabatoan Farmers Association from Calubian Leyte; and Libertad Farmers Association from Kananga, Leyte.





Pampanga court issues HDO vs. Delfin Lee, co-accused

By OVP Media
April 4, 2013

MANILA – A Hold Departure Order (HDO) has been issued against Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. (GA) owner Delfin Lee and four others involved in the GA housing scam, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay announced today.

The Vice President said the HDO against Lee was issued by Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes of Branch 42 of the Pampanga Regional Trial Court in an order dated March 25 and released on April 3, the same court trying the syndicated estafa case against Lee.

Aside from Lee, also included in the HDO were his son Dexter, GA officers Christina Sagun and Cristina Salagan, and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund or HDMF) official Alex Alvarez.

The housing czar hailed the issuance of the HDO as “another victory for our kababayans who were defrauded of their hard-earned money.”

“This is a very welcome development. We are very hopeful that this will advance our demand for Delfin Lee to pay for his crimes," Binay said.

“We just hope that the hold departure order would aid our law enforcement authorities. We do not want to think that Delfin Lee has evaded justice. Despite the P2 million reward offered by the President for his capture, Lee and his co-accused remain at large," he added.

The Vice President is the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and chairman of the board of Pag-IBIG Fund.

In ruling for the issuance of the HDO, the court noted that the charge against Lee and his co-accused was a non-bailable offense.

It also noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that “the activity of subdivision and condominium development which is under the HLURB (Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board) involves ‘public interest and welfare.’”

“Thus, it is public interest and public welfare that is served when the Hold Departure Order is issued against those who have to account for the alleged misuse of funds that were availed from the HLURB and that should have been dedicated to the real beneficiaries of the low-cost housing projects,” Fider-Reyes ruled in her decision.

“As for any constitutional right to travel that [the five accused] may have been entitled to, this should now give way to the public interest and public welfare that is vested in the instant proceedings,” the judge further ruled.

The Court of Appeals (CA) also recently stopped a Makati City judge from implementing its earlier rulings favoring Lee.

The case against the GA owner stemmed from the purported anomalous loans amounting to more than P7 billion granted by Pag-ibig Fund to “ghost borrowers” who had allegedly bought homes in GA’s Xevera Housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Both Delfin and Dexter Lee remain at large despite the outstanding warrants for their arrest issued by the Pampanga court.





Pilot testing door-to-door delivery of social pension in ten remote towns in East Visayas

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 3, 2013

TACLOBAN CITY – Starting the first quarter of this year, the Department of Social Welfare and Development is piloting the door-to-door delivery of social pension for indigent senior citizens of ten remote municipalities of the region, using the services of the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHILPOST).

The pilot-testing for three months will be undertaken for timely delivery of the cash grants, and efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the door-to-door delivery, DSWD Region 8 Director Remia Tapispisan informed.

A total of 1,180 senior citizens from Limasawa in Southern Leyte province, San Jose de Buan, Almagro, and Tagapul-an of Samar, Jipapad in Eastern Samar, and Silvino Lobos, Lapining, Gamay, San Vicente, and Capul of Northern Samar, will receive the quarterly stipend of P1,500.00, right in their own homes.

It was learned that the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement was conducted recently between the DSWD Field Office 8 and the Philippine Postal Corporation for the three-month mode delivery of pension.
The DSWD is the lead agency in the implementation of the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizen to augment the daily subsistence and other medical needs of Filipino indigent senior citizens.

On the other hand, PHILPOST has a facility that can service the regionwide distribution of cash grants to Social Pension beneficiaries who are indigent senior citizens with disability, bedridden, and residing in far flung areas as priority target beneficiaries for the door-to-door delivery.

When the Social Pension Program started in 2011, the DSWD Field Office Eight conducted the distribution at the municipal plaza, and in other areas, the agency transferred the funds to the local government units for the latter to handle the giving out of cash grants.

This time, there will be three modes of cash distribution: through the transfer of funds to the Local Government Units, PHILPOST Door-to-Door payout and the Special Disbursing Officers (SDOs) who will go to the municipalities to give out the stipend of the Social pensioners.

According to Rose Fe Valeriano, Social Welfare Officer II of the Social Pension Program, the ten identified municipalities for the door-to-door delivery of social pension are the most hard-to-reach areas by the SDOs.

She added that these Special Disbursing Officers will take over the disbursing of funds to several municipalities as there are identified LGUs with bad track records in liquidating funds. The SDOs will also take charge in visiting and personally handing out the pension of the bedridden social pension beneficiaries.
“Sometimes it took 1 to 2 months for the beneficiary to receive the stipend. It takes that long because in every province there is only one SDO that disburses the pension except for Leyte which has two SDOs.

The DSWD hopes that with the new mode of payment, the implementation of the Social Pension Program, will be improved and fast tracked.

The government is always finding ways and systems to improve the delivery of social services to the needy public, the DSWD director said.





Chiz: BOC liable for widespread oil smuggling

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
April 3, 2013

PASAY CITY – The blame for widespread oil smuggling in the country that costs the government P30 billion in lost revenues every year should fall squarely on the shoulders of the Bureau of Customs (BoC), underlining the need to overhaul the agency, Sen. Chiz Escudero said.

“The Lateral Attrition Law mandates penalties on government personnel who fail to perform their duties. The unabated smuggling of oil products and other commodities indicates a massive failure of the BoC requiring top to bottom changes to be effected within the agency,” Escudero said.

Petron Corp. chairman Ramon Ang has alleged that one in every three liters of oil products that is shipped into the country is smuggled, and puts government revenue losses at about P30 billion a year.

Escudero said it would not be a surprise that the same equation applies to other products that enters the country.

The country’s steel industry has also complained about the alleged unabated entry of smuggled steel products.

Last year, the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI) and its member-industry associations said the industry was “now starting to lose hope of getting a level playing field as local manufacturers are still not seeing any change in the unhampered smuggling of steel products.”

PISI also said the Philippine Galvanized Iron Wire Manufacturers Association Inc. (PGIWMAI) had sent “voluminous letters” to Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon asking the bureau to put a stop to steel smuggling in the country.

Escudero said the only possible answer to the questions on the resilience of smuggling syndicates is that smuggling is mostly done in collusion with some Customs insiders.

For its part, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., the country’s second biggest oil company, confirmed oil smuggling in the country. Its country manager, Edgard Chua, said oil smuggling should be considered plunder because of the damage it causes to the economy.

“Identifying smuggled products does not require sophistication since products being sold far below the average price in the market are probably smuggled. My question to the Customs bureau is, why can’t it use this simple rule in investigating reports of smuggling?,” Escudero said.

He said the government should immediately file charges against errant Customs officials and personnel, as well as against members of smuggling syndicates amid Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s claim that the government already knows the identity of big-time smugglers in the country.

He also urged the government to coordinate with private sector groups and individuals who had undertaken studies on the extent of smuggling activities in the country.

The reelectionist senator said the government should read the assessment made by University of the Philippines (UP) economist Ben Diokno on the impact of smuggling on the economy.

Diokno had said that the extent of smuggling in the country can be seen from the 6.6 percent growth rate of the local economy last year despite the low 2.6 percent growth in the country’s imports which he saw as a paradox. He described smuggling as the elephant in the room that state statisticians missed in coming out with the conflicting economic figures.

“Smuggling not only deprives the government of revenues but also annihilates local industries that in turn forces local manufacturers to close shop and lay off workers, adding to the unemployment burden,” Escudero said.

Factories that generate the most number of jobs for poor Filipinos are the main victims of widespread smuggling, according to Escudero.





TUCP urges employers & gov’t to share economic gains with workers; asks wage board to hike wages anew by 85 pesos

April 3, 2013

QUEZON CITY – The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) yesterday filed a petition before the wage board urging employers and government to share the gains of the economy with the workers in Metro Manila by increasing the current 456-peso minimum wage rate by 85 pesos.

If granted, the daily minimum salary rate would become 541 pesos. As of June 2012, a family of six needs at least 1,022 pesos a day to live decently. TUCP also announced plans to file wage increase petitions in Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro cities next week.

“Recently, Fitch Ratings upgraded our economy to investment-grade (BB+ from BB-) - a vote of confidence in the Philippine economy. The international finance community recognizes our outstanding economic fundamentals including faborable interest rates, sound banking system, sustainable fiscal position and good tax revenues, and strong external position,”’ said TUCP Partylist Rep. Raymond Mendoza.

“It is our obligation to help our workers get what is legally and morally due them. They toil all day, sweat for grueling work hours, break their back to keep enterprises alive, and yet, are left to scrape the bottom of the barrel. The employers and our government should respond to this petition in the spirit of allowing workers partake of the blessings of a booming economy in the spirit of equity. Philippine prosperity cannot and should not be built on a permanent class of poor people,” Mendoza stressed adding: “we therefore call on the wage board to consider that the times are good and the workers deserve to receive their just share of this vastly improved and improving economy.”

TUCP President Vic Balais, on one hand, emphasized the point by saying: “We are not asking too much or too little. This amount does not and will not impede current investments nor will it discourage new investors. We are only asking for a decent living for our workers and their families.”

Government estimates there are more than 8 million workers in Metro Manila region working in different sectors with around a million are receiving minimum wage rate.

Last year, the seven-man tripartite wage and productivity board issued wage order 17 approving a measly 20 and 10 pesos in June and in November amid TUCP’s 90-peso wage increase petition. It also integrated into the basic pay the 22-peso COLA approved in 2011.

In a four-page petition Balais and Mendoza submitted yesterday, it said the workers in metropolis have not been given a single peso real wage increase since 1989. As of February 2013, the purchasing power of the latest legislated 456 peso daily minimum wage was only 362.77 pesos, eroded by 20.45 percent.

Between March 2012 and February 2013, the consumer price index or CPI in the region rose from 123.1 to 125.7 which requires a 9.63 peso additional increase in minimum wages. The prices of goods and services are expected to rise by 6% which would require an additional 27.36 peso adjustment considering the coming whammy of increasing tuition fees, increasing transport fares including the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT), increasing residential power rates because of the introduction of Open Access in the NCR, increasing health care costs because of the privatization of public hospitals and the inflationary effects of election spending.

In addition, the petition also said that workers have done their share in improving the standards of living in the country, particularly in the National Capital Region (NCR), which continues to be the largest contributor to the national economy, 35.7 percent share in 2011, and 35.8 percent in 2010 and 2009.

However, the workers’ own standards of living have not risen. It is about time that overall improvements in standards of living in NCR be reflected in real gains in the minimum wage.

The TUCP is also asking a mere P2.00 per day share of the growth in Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) for the past 24 years AS EQUITY SUPPLEMENT. This would be equivalent to 48 pesos.

The petition, in conclusion, said the level of minimum wage needed to help restore the purchasing power of the workers’ wages in NCR AND to give them a share in the region’s economic development should be P541, computed as follows:

P456.00 - the minimum wage in June 3/Nov 1, 2012

9.63 - from actual 2.112% increase in prices between March 2012 and February 2013

27.36 - projected 6% rise in CPI

48.00 - P2.00/year since 1989 that there were no increases in real wage

P540.99 or P541 - This should be the new minimum wage rate in NCR by 2013.



◄◄home I next►►